[-----Original Message-Tom Caylor wrote:]
May I offer the following quote as a potential catalyst for Bruno and Colin:
If thought is laryngeal motion, how should any one think more truly than the
wind blows? All movements of bodies are equally necessary, but they cannot be
discriminated as true and false. It seems as nonsensical to call a movement
true as a flavour purple or a sound avaricious. But what is obvious when
thought is said to be a certain bodily movement seems equally to follow from
its being the effect of one. Thought called knowledge and thought called error
are both necessary results of states of brain. These states are necessary
results of other bodily states. All the bodily states are equally real, and so
are the different thoughts; but by what right can I hold that my thought is
knowledge of what is real in bodies? For to hold so is but another thought, an
effect of real bodily movements like the rest. . . These arguments, however, of
mine, if the principles of scientific [naturalism]... are to stand
unchallenged, are themselves no more than happenings in a mind, results of!
bodily movements; that you or I think them sound, or think them unsound, is
but another such happening; that we think them no more than another such
happening is itself but yet another such. And it may be said of any ground on
which we may attempt to stand as true, Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis
aevum ["It flows and will flow swirling on forever" (Horace, Epistles, I, 2,
43)]. (H. W. B. Joseph, Some Problems in Ethics (Oxford University Press,
1931), pp. 14-15)
[Brent Meeker wrote:]
So what? Of course without any context, simply looking at physical processes
doesn't allow one distiguish "true opinion" for "false opinion".
True and false are the linguistic analogues of effective and ineffective
action. Wiiliam S. Cooper as written a nice little book on this called "The
Evolution of Reason - Logic as a Branch of Biology".
I am not sure I follow that (very well written) statements. It is a little bit
wrong like the argument of those who use determinism against free will. By
looking at yourself at some low level it *looks* there is no sense, but this
just shows that from your personal point of view you are not "living" at that
level. You take the risk at dismissing all theories by pointing that they are
all produce by .... and then you are using a theory for describing some level.
The fact that Schroedinger was obeying to its one wave equation cannot be used
to invalidate it!
Tom, in your very eloquent fashion you have touched upon the essence of my
approach to the issue of a theory of everything. Somewhat spooky in
coincidence: as Brent Meeker tells us of Cooper's "Evolution of Reason - Logic
as a Branch of Biology" I happen to have that very book in front of me. In that
book is yet another very handsome structured linguistic metaphor for the
structure of thought and reasoning. Once again I think to myself(very
paradoxical, this act!) if I build one will it truly reason like us? The usual
answer is 'maybe'. You simply can never resolve the question with linguistic
frameworks (artifacts of brain material).
Note in the case of Brent and Bruno (and I do this too... putting it aside has
been agonising) is an assumption. That assumption is that within the products
of thought some direct correspondence with the natural world has been achieved.
The reality of the situation is that what has been achieved is a cogent way of
arguing for the position, not that the position has touched upon the true
nature of things. Cooper has not done this. Nor has Crick, Koch, Edelman or
The acid test is to make empirical predictions in relation to brain material or
some other testable physical situation. If a metaphor ( a model) can’t do that
then you're never going to resolve it. Indeed that you can ever really resolve
it is as open to criticism. The prediction/observation of the behaviour of the
natural world, in particular novel technology, is the only way any progress can
be made. Even then the relationship model to the natural world can never be
assumed more than verisimilitude in respect of the predicted outcome.
This sounds ever so dry and empirical, but it has teeth! If the only evidence
you can find in support of 'truth' X is brain material reporting the belief -
you are wasting your time. You will be going around in linguistic circles
rearranging mental beliefs of other beliefs of other beliefs of.....
I would commend everyone to take a moment to simply look at things the way Tom
has. A collection of matter, a human, made of the natural world, within the
natural world, has made an utterance 'about' that natural world. Consider the
bare reality of that situation. Forget everything else you have ever read about
it. There may be an infinity of abstract domains. We may be in one of those.
That we can necessarily represent our domain in terms of other domains is an
assumption. QM, multiverse, computation....any other domain ... they may have
great predictive utility and assistance in making decisions in a specific
context.... however... in the end they can be only metaphor for the natural
world that the natural world can access from within to describe itself.
For that is us and what we do. We may have a perfect mathematical 'law' and yet
we can always configure doubt, so it must remain a metaphor. We can never know
To let go of the idea that we literally touch the truth with our musings is not
easy. It can feel so compelling. It can be so very useful. Humility is part of
it. Science since the 1600s is paved with such embarrassing hubris. That we are
stuck in this endless loop, repelling access to deeper truth is the outcome.
That deeper truth in relation to the natural world will come from being able to
make predictions of brain matter made from a position of humility in the face
of the reality of our position within the natural world so well described by
When indeed does thought as presented dynamically by laryngeal motion
necessarily more a 'truth' than the blowing wind? More importantly: why should
a mind inclusive of phenomenal consciousness necessarily have better access to
a truth? (this is proven with an evolutionary argument - we wouldn't otherwise
be here to argue the point!)
You can only get to that through deep analysis of brain matter that results in
testable predictions. Instead of ascribing access to 'reality' (which is all we
can do) the approach is to understand what mechanism gives rise to this
'apparent' reality. Whatever natural world gives rise to that, no matter how
weird, that is 'reality'.
Our scientific evidentiary process is based on the fallacy of the assumed
existence of an 'objective view'. To push the so-called 'objective view' of
corroborative science aside and allocate primacy to the subjective is not going
to be an easy adjustment. To do that and retain the validity of all science to
date (because it works) is ultimately what is required.
Reality vs perception of reality? I vote we work really hard on the latter and
drop all ascription in relation to the former. A significant dose of humility