Le 27-déc.-06, à 19:10, Jef Allbright a écrit :

Bruno Marchal wrote:

Le 27-déc.-06, à 02:46, Jef Allbright a écrit :
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

But our main criterion for what to believe should
be what is true, right?

I'm very interested in whether the apparent tautology
is my misunderstanding, his transparent belief, a simple
lack of precision, or something more.
I don't see any tautology in Stathis writing so I guess I miss something.
Apparently something subtle is happening here.

It seems to me that when people say "believe", they mean "hold true" or "consider to be true".

OK then, and it makes sense which what follows. Our disagreement concerns vocabulary (and perhaps machine). Your notion of pragmatism is coherent with the idea of truth as the "intended purpose" of belief.

Therefore, I parse the statement as equivalent to "...criterion for what to hold true should be what is true..." I suppose I should have said that the statement is circular, rather than tautological since the verbs are different.

If he had said something like "our main criterion
for what to believe should be what works, what seems
to work, what passes the tests of time, etc." or had
made a direct reference to Occam's Razor, I would be
comfortable knowing that we're thinking alike on this
This would mean you disagree with Stathis's tautology, but then how could not believe in a tautology?

If someone states "A=A", then there is absolutely no information content, and thus nothing in the statement itself with which to agree or disagree. I can certainly agree with the validity of the form within symbolic logic, but that's a different (larger) context.

Similarly, I was not agreeing or disagreeing with the meaning of Stahis' statement, but rather the form which seems to me to contain a piece of circular reasoning, implying perhaps that the structure of the thought was incoherent within a larger context.

 From your "working" criteria I guess you favor a pragmatic
notion of belief, but personally I conceive science as a
search for knowledge and thus truth (independently of the
fact that we can never *know* it as truth,

Yes, I favor a pragmatic approach to "belief", but I distinguish my thinking from that of (capital P) Pragmatists in that I see knowledge (and the knower) as firmly grounded in a "reality" that can never be fully known but can be approached via an "evolutionary" process of growth tending toward an increasingly effective model of what works within an expanding scope of interaction within a reality that appears to be effectively open-ended in its potential complexity. Whereas many Pragmatists see "progress" as fundamentally illusory, I see progress, or growth, as essential to an effective world-view for any intentional agent.

except perhaps
in few basic things like "I am conscious" or "I am convinced
there is a prime number" etc.)
To talk like Stathis, this is why science is by itself always tentative. A scientist who says "Now we know ..." is only a
dishonest theologian (or a mathematician in hurry ...).

I agree with much of your thinking, but I take exception to exceptions (!) such as the ones you mentioned above.
All meaning is necessarily within context.

OK, but all context could make sense only to some universal meaning. I mean I don't know, it is difficult.

The existence of prime numbers is not an exception, but the context is so broad that we tend to think of prime numbers as (almost) fundamentally real,

Well, here I must say I take them as "very real" ...

similarly to the existence of gravity, another very deep regularity of our interactions with "reality".

I think gravity is a consequence of the "prime number" (but this is presently out-topic), but ok, gravity is quite important ...

The statement "I am conscious", as usually intended to mean that one can be absolutely certain of one's subjective experience, is not an exception, because it's not even coherent. It has no objective context at all. It mistakenly assumes the existence of an observer somehow in the privileged position of being able to observe itself.

Machine have many self-referential abilities. I can develop or give references (I intend to make some comments on such book later).

Further, there's a great deal of empirical evidence showing that the subjective experience that people report is full of distortions, gaps, fabrications, and confabulations.

But this is almost a consequence of the self-referential ability of machine, they can distort their own view, and even themselves. I talk about universal machine *after Godel* (and Post, Turing,..

If instead you mean that you know you are conscious in the same sense that you know other people are conscious, then that is not an exception, but just a reasonable inference, meaningful within quite a large context.

No. But I confess that when I say I know I am conscious (here and now) I hope you understand it as I assume most conscious human thinks when saying "I am conscious". If not you are right, I am incoherent (and so "I am conscious" is not a scientist 3-person statement, it is a private recall needed (by Stathis actually) to mainly remind us what we talk about.

If Descartes had said, rather than "Je pense, donc je suis", something like "I think, therefore *something* exists", then I would agree with him.

OK. (Except that I believe that that "something" has been in relation with Descartes, and that Descartes gives us a tool for getting ourselves into relation with that something, and that is not nothing! :)

Cartesian dualism has left western philosophy with a large quagmire into which thinking on consciousness, personal identity, free-will and morality easily and repeatedly get stuck in paradox.

Those paradoxes give opportunities to learn.

Paradox is always a case of insufficient context. In the bigger picture all the pieces must fit.

I agree.



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