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 :
I don't see any tautology in Stathis writing so I guess I miss
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.
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.
This would mean you disagree with Stathis's tautology, but then how
could not believe in a tautology?
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
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
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)
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
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
If Descartes had said, rather than "Je pense, donc je suis", something
like "I think, therefore *something* exists", then I would agree with
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.
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