Book recommendation Re: [FoRK] Re: anybody remember...

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at> on Tue Jul 10 12:32:30 PDT 2007

On 7/9/07, Jeff Bone <jbone at> wrote:
> The hardest COMP hypothesis of all is, of course, that these are
> exactly the kind of question I brought up earlier:  "what color is
> Thursday?"  I.e., questions without answers, therefore not worth
> asking or worrying about too much.

  Can you tell me, specifically, a (one) question that I'm answering,
  that is non-sensical?

  Like, I'm with you in the idea that:  There are nonsensical questions.
  The way I phrase it is, "Each question has within it at least
  one statement, and then a hole.  The act of the question is a directive
  to fill the hole."

  So if I say,
     x + 5 = 10; x?

  That question has statements embedded, and we're going, "Okay,
  now fill the hole."  (It's 5.)

  But you could say,
    x + 5 = 10,
    x + 3 = 10;  x?

  I'm with you there.

  So, which of my questions is like that?
  What are the implicit statements, and how are they wrong?

> >  Chalmers' approach is to pull out a list of all the possibilities,
> >  and then think about what we have to give and take should we
> >  accept any of them.
> Yes, but the problem is he frames it in the rhetorical trappings of
> earlier philosophical (pre- or psuedo-scientific) exploration of
> consciousness;  while I won't at all deny that Chalmers is a Real
> Scientist (tm) and there's lots of juicy bits in the whole
> presentation, I find it hard to track his thought when he delves into
> conclusion.

  I've read a lot of his stuff.  Some of it is very easy for me, "Yes,
  this is what I've been arguing for decades."

  Some of it is really hard -- "Okay... Ontological realismwhaaa?"
  But I pull out the flash cards, run through them a few times, and
  integrate it in my head.

  "Oh, I see what you're saying.  Yeah, that's kind of neat.
   Right, I see how this is relevant to consciousness.  Because
   consciousness is something that we can be certain of the
   ontological reality of.  I've had an intuitive placeholder for this
   concept, but you, Chalmers, have really nicely laid out the
   structural framework around it, should I need to communicate
   this to someone.  Nice.  I wish I had another life, so I could
   spend it doing the same sort of work."

> It's a bit as if he's thinking of really hard problems
> in a very deep way, but trying to frame the answers in a deprecated
> mode of thought.  "Is there phlogiston?"  "What is the essential
> character of the Philosophick Mercury?"  It's as if he doesn't have
> the courage of his own convictions.

  Oh, wait now-- what?

  No, he's not doing any of that.

  You have to back that up.  Phlogiston?  Can you point to where
  he's arguing for that?

  He has more courage in convictions than most people here;
  One person here I was talking with, was so terrified of dualism,
  that he had to *completely mystically equate* consciousness
  with neurons.

  That's mysticism of a pretty tall order-- If I see a rock, is that
  rock MADE OF experience?  That's pretty far out, man.

  There's no difference between a brain in the hand, and the
  experience of being a brain?  Whoah, totally trippy;  Pass me
  the shrooms.

  THAT is a lack of courage of conviction.  It's just (A) totally
  ludicrous, and then (B) the dominant mode of argument amidst
  most materialist reductionists.  They just think that way because
  it's fashionable.

  Your argument is respectable -- you've said, "I think
  it's **Axiomatic** that if I have a brain in the hand, there's also
  a subjective experience on the inside."  That is, you accept the
  difference between the two things, and then have drawn a line
  connecting them, using the axiom to do so.

  But these other guys -- that's too far for them.  They have to say,
  "What need for an axiom?  They're literally the same thing."
  That's crazy talk.

> $0.02, YMMV.

  Well, I think its not so much our mileage, but rather, the name
  for the car.  This is between you and me, incidentally-- these other
  people here, are arguing from a totally different standpoint.

> >  You say tomatoe, I say tomato.
> Indeed.  (Actually, backwards:  I say tomato, and insist that it is
> more "linguistically efficient.")
> Yet though we talk about the same thing, you insist on differences
> that I say are not meaningful at all.

  Which ones?

> >  So I just call it Soul, and if you think I mean "karma" or
> >  cosmic bank accounts or records of good and evil and so on,
> >  that'll just be your problem.  It ain't mine.
> No, it's a problem for you when you try to use terminology
> imprecisely, or even precisely but divergent to the understanding of
> those with whom you are conversing.

  Fair enough.

  I will make a "meta-" play, now, and talk about the conversation:

  "Consciousness is too long winded, too many syllables.
   Will you please let me just call it Soul?
   I promise not to attach angels and harps to it."

  Wherever I have said Soul, understand that I meant, "Consciousness."
  If this appeal is denied, I will just use "Consciousness," in discussions
  on FoRK.

> In the latter case, you need to
> have rigor;  and not just that, but rigor that grounds in
> terminological consensus.  Chalmers has the rigor, but not the
> terminological consensus, or the subsequent ontological consensus.


  That's going to require some explaining.
  If you want to know what Chalmers means by something,
  you can usually find it explained near the top of his public-facing papers.

  When he's in conversations with other experts using the established
  jargon, (for example, "2-dimensionalism" and such,) that's another thing.

> >  Well, you can't talk about me, but it's entirely plausible
> >  that that's true for you.
> Oh, I have a much more compelling case for my own reality than I do
> yours! ;-)

  Of course!

> But I don't actually *believe* that case, so I won't make it;  all
> random bitstrings have equivalent existential probability.

  Are you like, a Max Tegmark kind of guy?

  All mathematically coherent worlds exist?

  I'm partial to it, but I'm not sure I really believe it.
  But it'd "make sense," in some weird way.

> >  I guess you have to have a name like "Ray Kurzweil" or
> >  "Alan Turing" to hold this view and still be tolerated in polite
> >  circles, or arm yourself to the teeth, like David Chalmers.
> I find it hilarious, really, that you think the points you are
> attempting to make have any similarity to the viewpoints of any of
> the people you mentioned.

  What are the points you think I'm trying to make, that are not
  shared with these people?

  I mean-- I'm not gay, so, I'm not totally in agreement with Alan Turing
  on some things.  And, he thought ESP was real, so, we have some
  divergence, there.

  But on the core things here, I think we're in agreement, and I challenge
  you to show me otherwise.

> How odd that you would, like me, assert
> that your own viewpoint has something in common with any of theirs
> --- when it apparently is, ultimately, in conflict.


  Please, just show me something.

  Of David Chalmers, Ray Kurzweil, and Alan Turing, I think my arguments
  are most like Ray Kurzweils, though I wish I had dedicated my life to
  the subject, and thus had ended up with David Chalmers extraordinary
  library in my brian.

  But all of these guys agree on the same basic positions.

> >  That just causes some fundamental problems for me.
> >  I'm happy for you, that you're able to just light up a cigarette,
> >  in the face of that.  Go with the flow, you know?
> Absolutely, and what a shame for you.  It appears that you're
> ideologically doomed to an eternity of noise-generation about the
> topic. ;-)  Well, I suppose there has to be an underlying process for
> the subjective appearance of the second law of thermodynamics in my
> life, or the lives of those on this list... ;-) :-)


More information about the FoRK mailing list