2009/7/31 Rex Allen <rexallen...@gmail.com>:

> I don't see that the electron's experiential aspect contributes in any
> way to my experience of electrons.  And, in a easier to visualize
> vein, the same goes for chairs.  Maybe there's something that it's
> like to be a chair, but this is irrelevant to my conscious experience
> of chairs.  How could the chair's experience of its existence affect
> my experience of the chair?

The relevance of the chair's experience (though unremembered by the
chair) to your (remembered) conscious experience of the chair is just
that both awarenesses owe their existence to the same ontological
facts and events.  Furthermore, it's crucial to see IMO that at the
fundamental level, this awareness is critical to causal 'closure'.
Not to put too fine a point on it, what I'm saying is that the
fundamental relations between explanatory entities must depend on
perception and intention as well as action.  To speak somewhat
metaphorically, 'particle-particle' relations must entail that the
'particles' - however one defines them - in some minimum, but
irreducible sense, perceive, intend, and act with respect to each
other.

> So in addition to conscious experience being uncaused, I take it to
> also be acausal.

Well, uncaused is one thing: you can dig down to the underpinnings
below the presentation level, IMO, but every regress has to stop
somewhere, as any schoolchild knows.  And of course the *vocabulary*,
so to speak, of consciousness - the rawness of the feels - is not
itself within the domain of explanation.   But acausal, that's a horse
of a different colour.  Indeed that's what you end up with in the
current world according to physics (which it's why I say it's
incomplete).  But if you believe this, you're with Spinoza and Liebniz
in believing that consciousness just parallels physics without
interacting with it in any way - and frankly I wouldn't even have a
clue what this could mean.

The challenge is I think to see that there must be an evolutionary
point, in the end, to the effort that has gone into the complex
machinery of self-awareness we all possess.  There must be some things
that can only be achieved by taking things personally in that
particular way that can't be done impersonally - i.e. 'unconsciously'
by one of Chalmers' Australian zombies.  And for this to be so it must
supervene on the sort of causal principles I've tried to expose as
intrinsic to existence in this personal sense.

> I take it to be acausal even to the extent that my current subjective
> experience is not caused by my previous experiences.  Each moment of
> consciousness stands alone, connected to it's predecessors and
> successors only by the similarity of their content.

You may be putting a heavier burden on the sense of 'causal' that it
needs to carry.  We just need to show - by similarity as you say -
that your states of consciousness are nomologically linked.  So it's
really a sort of self-fulfilling principle: you possess just enough
coherence to claim that your experience is coherent to that degree.

> You can find all sorts of causal-structure models, in physics or in
> COMP, that can be fit to the contents of your conscious experience,
> but these are just descriptive, not proscriptive.

No, I think when properly conceived they are proscriptive in their own
terms.  There's no sense of 'necessary' that I'm aware of (with the
doubtful exception of Bruno's possibly necessary numbers) that can do
any more work than this.

> It does seem likely to me that our conscious experience exists
> necessarily.

It's 'necessity' consists in it's being the defining characteristic of
existence-for-self.  Given the manifest presence rather than absence
of such existence, it is clearly necessary.  Nevertheless, in some
counterfactual sense, it might have been absent and never present.
But this is possibly excessively Talmudic.

> Though for it to be a mystery would imply a hidden,
> unknown cause.  But consciousness is uncaused, it just exists
> (necessarily), so there can be no mystery.

The difference between 'uncaused' and 'mysterious' is somewhat elusive, perhaps.

David

>
> On Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 4:34 PM, David Nyman<david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> So my point is simply: let's start from the understanding that to
>> exist is just and only what it is to exist-for-oneself: the defining
>> characteristic of existence is 'taking everything personally'.  The
>> standard put-down at this point is something like 'well how personally
>> do you suppose an electron takes itself?' to which the riposte is
>> simply 'precisely as personally as it needs to exist'.
>
> So I'm willing to believe that there might be "something that it's
> like" to be an electron, that electrons may in some way have some sort
> of subjective experience.
>
> BUT, as you say, that all happens in a different part of the forest.
>
> I don't see that the electron's experiential aspect contributes in any
> way to my experience of electrons.  And, in a easier to visualize
> vein, the same goes for chairs.  Maybe there's something that it's
> like to be a chair, but this is irrelevant to my conscious experience
> of chairs.  How could the chair's experience of its existence affect
> my experience of the chair?
>
> So in addition to conscious experience being uncaused, I take it to
> also be acausal.
>
> Conscious experience only does one thing:  exist.  Consciousness just
> is.  There's nothing else to it.  No other purpose for it.  No deeper
> meaning in it.  No additional role that it plays in some larger
> process.
>
> I take it to be acausal even to the extent that my current subjective
> experience is not caused by my previous experiences.  Each moment of
> consciousness stands alone, connected to it's predecessors and
> successors only by the similarity of their content.
>
> You can find all sorts of causal-structure models, in physics or in
> COMP, that can be fit to the contents of your conscious experience,
> but these are just descriptive, not proscriptive.
>
>
>> As to 'first' causes, I think
>> we've reached the end of the semantic road.  If you want, you can can
>> elect to be a mathematical Prospero and conjure us from the deep by
>> tautological force majeure, or you can accept the mystery of our
>> contingent 'necessity'.  Take your pick.
>
> It does seem likely to me that our conscious experience exists
> necessarily.  Though for it to be a mystery would imply a hidden,
> unknown cause.  But consciousness is uncaused, it just exists
> (necessarily), so there can be no mystery.
>
> BTW, the quality of your posts are very high, it surprises me that you
> can write them so quickly.  Well done!
>
> >
>

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