Sam Harris on why Materialism is Nonsensical

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sciborg2

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« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2018, 09:23:09 pm »
I don't understand this reply at all.

I still don't understand this whole tread, nor Harris' point actually.

I must be missing several somethings...

In my mind, Harris points out that consciousness is an emergent propery of human brains.  OK.  He points out that emergent properties cannot be discerned by study of it's constituent parts in isolation.  OK.  Therefor, we cannot understand the emergent phenomena via it's parts alone?  This is obvious.

Stars are emergent properties of hydrogen.  But studying hydrogen up close doesn't tell us about sun spots.  In this same sense, consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, which is a collection of neurons (among other things).  Looking just at the neurons, fails to tell me why exactly I like vanilla more than chocolate.  Naturally, because we need to take into account the whole system. Consciousness is not just neurons, it's the whole function of all neurons and the whole system of the brain, in a similar way as to how a hydrogen atom doesn't tell us why there are sun-spots.

Clearly my understanding must be flawed.

Hmmm, I might be misunderstanding your questioning but it seems to me the question Sam is talking about isn't identifying the correlated patterns, but understanding production. We'll understand (shortly, if you measure by decades) which patterns correlate with which qualia - we already do to an incredible extent if we accept the mind-body problem has been with us, as you say, for 3000 years.

What Sam argues is what's unlikely to be discovered is understanding the "Why" of the correlation. Why is this pattern the taste of chocolate, that the taste of vanilla? And if we get even that far, we also have to explain "Why" any pattern, amenable to reductionism, that can be measured quantitatively gives rise to qualitative, seemingly(?) irreducible experience.

IMO we just don't have the cognitive capacity, something Chomsky concurs with. And it makes sense - why would an animal evolved to survive in its niche, lucky enough to gain dominion over the planet, also be expected to have the user interface w/ reality to answer all questions about reality.

Also in what way are stars emergent from hydrogen, as opposed to constituted from hydrogen + other aspects of reality?

Causality is another domain I'm a pessimist about - we can measure change, the foundation of science IMO, but the "Why" of causation will elude us. I don't think humans will have a clear scientific model of causation, at least not until we are at Progenitor levels of technology so far, far beyond my lifetime.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 09:57:45 pm by sciborg2 »
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2018, 04:19:54 am »
I don't understand this reply at all.

I still don't understand this whole tread, nor Harris' point actually.

I must be missing several somethings...

In my mind, Harris points out that consciousness is an emergent propery of human brains.  OK.  He points out that emergent properties cannot be discerned by study of it's constituent parts in isolation.  OK.  Therefor, we cannot understand the emergent phenomena via it's parts alone?  This is obvious.

Stars are emergent properties of hydrogen.  But studying hydrogen up close doesn't tell us about sun spots.  In this same sense, consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, which is a collection of neurons (among other things).  Looking just at the neurons, fails to tell me why exactly I like vanilla more than chocolate.  Naturally, because we need to take into account the whole system. Consciousness is not just neurons, it's the whole function of all neurons and the whole system of the brain, in a similar way as to how a hydrogen atom doesn't tell us why there are sun-spots.

Clearly my understanding must be flawed.

Hmmm, I might be misunderstanding your questioning but it seems to me the question Sam is talking about isn't identifying the correlated patterns, but understanding production. We'll understand (shortly, if you measure by decades) which patterns correlate with which qualia - we already do to an incredible extent if we accept the mind-body problem has been with us, as you say, for 3000 years.

What Sam argues is what's unlikely to be discovered is understanding the "Why" of the correlation. Why is this pattern the taste of chocolate, that the taste of vanilla? And if we get even that far, we also have to explain "Why" any pattern, amenable to reductionism, that can be measured quantitatively gives rise to qualitative, seemingly(?) irreducible experience.
Yeah, although to me it's not so much a question of cognitive limitation as a cognitive quirk arising from intentional reasoning, a semantic problem.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2018, 04:22:29 am by TLEILAXU »

sciborg2

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« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2018, 05:59:33 am »
I don't understand this reply at all.

I still don't understand this whole tread, nor Harris' point actually.

I must be missing several somethings...

In my mind, Harris points out that consciousness is an emergent propery of human brains.  OK.  He points out that emergent properties cannot be discerned by study of it's constituent parts in isolation.  OK.  Therefor, we cannot understand the emergent phenomena via it's parts alone?  This is obvious.

Stars are emergent properties of hydrogen.  But studying hydrogen up close doesn't tell us about sun spots.  In this same sense, consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, which is a collection of neurons (among other things).  Looking just at the neurons, fails to tell me why exactly I like vanilla more than chocolate.  Naturally, because we need to take into account the whole system. Consciousness is not just neurons, it's the whole function of all neurons and the whole system of the brain, in a similar way as to how a hydrogen atom doesn't tell us why there are sun-spots.

Clearly my understanding must be flawed.

Hmmm, I might be misunderstanding your questioning but it seems to me the question Sam is talking about isn't identifying the correlated patterns, but understanding production. We'll understand (shortly, if you measure by decades) which patterns correlate with which qualia - we already do to an incredible extent if we accept the mind-body problem has been with us, as you say, for 3000 years.

What Sam argues is what's unlikely to be discovered is understanding the "Why" of the correlation. Why is this pattern the taste of chocolate, that the taste of vanilla? And if we get even that far, we also have to explain "Why" any pattern, amenable to reductionism, that can be measured quantitatively gives rise to qualitative, seemingly(?) irreducible experience.
Yeah, although to me it's not so much a question of cognitive limitation as a cognitive quirk arising from intentional reasoning, a semantic problem.

Can you elaborate? Sounds interesting but have to admit not 100% sure what you're getting at - thanks!
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2018, 07:47:09 pm »
I don't understand this reply at all.

I still don't understand this whole tread, nor Harris' point actually.

I must be missing several somethings...

In my mind, Harris points out that consciousness is an emergent propery of human brains.  OK.  He points out that emergent properties cannot be discerned by study of it's constituent parts in isolation.  OK.  Therefor, we cannot understand the emergent phenomena via it's parts alone?  This is obvious.

Stars are emergent properties of hydrogen.  But studying hydrogen up close doesn't tell us about sun spots.  In this same sense, consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, which is a collection of neurons (among other things).  Looking just at the neurons, fails to tell me why exactly I like vanilla more than chocolate.  Naturally, because we need to take into account the whole system. Consciousness is not just neurons, it's the whole function of all neurons and the whole system of the brain, in a similar way as to how a hydrogen atom doesn't tell us why there are sun-spots.

Clearly my understanding must be flawed.

Hmmm, I might be misunderstanding your questioning but it seems to me the question Sam is talking about isn't identifying the correlated patterns, but understanding production. We'll understand (shortly, if you measure by decades) which patterns correlate with which qualia - we already do to an incredible extent if we accept the mind-body problem has been with us, as you say, for 3000 years.

What Sam argues is what's unlikely to be discovered is understanding the "Why" of the correlation. Why is this pattern the taste of chocolate, that the taste of vanilla? And if we get even that far, we also have to explain "Why" any pattern, amenable to reductionism, that can be measured quantitatively gives rise to qualitative, seemingly(?) irreducible experience.
Yeah, although to me it's not so much a question of cognitive limitation as a cognitive quirk arising from intentional reasoning, a semantic problem.

Can you elaborate? Sounds interesting but have to admit not 100% sure what you're getting at - thanks!
Well, I could be talking out of my ass, but it seems that the whole /why/ question in itself is unanswerable without intentional reasoning, so it's kind of like a paradox, an artifact of human cognition.

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« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2018, 01:21:34 pm »
IMO we just don't have the cognitive capacity, something Chomsky concurs with. And it makes sense - why would an animal evolved to survive in its niche, lucky enough to gain dominion over the planet, also be expected to have the user interface w/ reality to answer all questions about reality.

Also in what way are stars emergent from hydrogen, as opposed to constituted from hydrogen + other aspects of reality?

OK, having gotten to watch that video finally, I think I get the point, that if direct mechanicalism isn't true (and it seems not) than simple materialism is also false.

On what Chomsky says about limits, well, Peterson makes a very similar point.  Even going so far as to point out (rightly or wrongly, I don't know, I'm not smart enough to read it directly) that Kant's point in Critique of Pure Reason is that there are far too many facts for us to interpret to make full sense of everything, so we need an interpretive structure with which to view and evaluate those facts.  That structure must, necessarily, be limiting, because that is exactly what it is made to do.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2018, 01:37:12 pm by H »
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sciborg2

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« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2018, 02:53:39 am »
IMO we just don't have the cognitive capacity, something Chomsky concurs with. And it makes sense - why would an animal evolved to survive in its niche, lucky enough to gain dominion over the planet, also be expected to have the user interface w/ reality to answer all questions about reality.

Also in what way are stars emergent from hydrogen, as opposed to constituted from hydrogen + other aspects of reality?

OK, having gotten to watch that video finally, I think I get the point, that if direct mechanicalism isn't true (and it seems not) than simple materialism is also false.

On what Chomsky says about limits, well, Peterson makes a very similar point.  Even going so far as to point out (rightly or wrongly, I don't know, I'm not smart enough to read it directly) that Kant's point in Critique of Pure Reason is that there are far too many facts for us to interpret to make full sense of everything, so we need an interpretive structure with which to view and evaluate those facts.  That structure must, necessarily, be limiting, because that is exactly what it is made to do.

I think we're on the same page, that said thinking about it some more I feel like there are two paths to the argument that we won't ever have Materialist/Reductionist account of consciousness:

a) The Mysterian Argument - The one I think Harris is ultimately conceding toward, that we cannot figure out *if* Materialism is true/false b/c we lack the cognitive capacity.

b) The Immaterialist Argument - The stance of Panpsychics, Idealists, Neutral Monists, Dualists, and probably a few more I'm missing. But basically the point they'd agree on is Materialism can logically be shown to be false.

I go back on forth on which one Harris is ultimately gearing toward. I think he may be a Neutral Monist or Panpsychist, but he's conceding that the question is unanswerable until we have more scientific knowledge under our belts.
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« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2018, 12:12:16 pm »
From what I understand of Harris from his "talks" with Peterson though is that he thinks we both can and should derive values from facts.  Which is a nice idea, were it at all possible.
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sciborg2

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« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2018, 06:31:04 pm »
From what I understand of Harris from his "talks" with Peterson though is that he thinks we both can and should derive values from facts.  Which is a nice idea, were it at all possible.

Oh yeah I think the skeptic Massimo destroyed Harris' arguments about Scienctistic Morality...I'll try to find the paper, i think I posted it years ago on this forum but can't remember.
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2018, 10:15:13 am »
Atheists are dumb

sciborg2

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« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2018, 07:35:02 pm »
Atheists are dumb

Is one an atheist if they think of the Prime Mover & Universal Intellect as lacking self-awareness? 'Cause that''s where I'm at some days, though I'm not closed off from the idea of polytheism though not sure I can point to an instance that is proof of such deities.

https://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/11-02-02/#feature

https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/reflections-on-the-skeptic-and-atheist-movements/

Thanks Merchant!
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« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2018, 07:39:53 pm »
Atheists are dumb

Is one an atheist if they think of the Prime Mover & Universal Intellect as lacking self-awareness? 'Cause that''s where I'm at some days, though I'm not closed off from the idea of polytheism though not sure I can point to an instance that is proof of such deities.
So Azazel? And probably no, the average atheist isn't capable of generalizing things to such concepts as "Prime Mover".

sciborg2

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« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2018, 07:43:45 pm »
Atheists are dumb

Is one an atheist if they think of the Prime Mover & Universal Intellect as lacking self-awareness? 'Cause that''s where I'm at some days, though I'm not closed off from the idea of polytheism though not sure I can point to an instance that is proof of such deities.
So Azazel? And probably no, the average atheist isn't capable of generalizing things to such concepts as "Prime Mover".

Azazel?

But yes, I do find myself to smarter than the average atheist gaga-ing over GIFS in I Fucking Love Science articles. ;-)
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« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2018, 08:05:23 pm »
Atheists are dumb

Is one an atheist if they think of the Prime Mover & Universal Intellect as lacking self-awareness? 'Cause that''s where I'm at some days, though I'm not closed off from the idea of polytheism though not sure I can point to an instance that is proof of such deities.
So Azazel? And probably no, the average atheist isn't capable of generalizing things to such concepts as "Prime Mover".

Azazel?

But yes, I do find myself to smarter than the average atheist gaga-ing over GIFS in I Fucking Love Science articles. ;-)
Ah fuck I meant Azathoth***.
I'm with you on that, although I do like gifs myself.

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« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2018, 02:52:25 am »
Atheists are dumb

Is one an atheist if they think of the Prime Mover & Universal Intellect as lacking self-awareness? 'Cause that''s where I'm at some days, though I'm not closed off from the idea of polytheism though not sure I can point to an instance that is proof of such deities.
So Azazel? And probably no, the average atheist isn't capable of generalizing things to such concepts as "Prime Mover".

Azazel?

But yes, I do find myself to smarter than the average atheist gaga-ing over GIFS in I Fucking Love Science articles. ;-)
Ah fuck I meant Azathoth***.
I'm with you on that, although I do like gifs myself.

Come now, it's fun to worship evil  :)
May your death be soon, slow and painful