On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 3:21 PM, Bruno Marchal<marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote: > > Rex proposes something like: > > CONSCIOUSNESS => ? > > It is radical, and it is difficult to say if it explains anything. I > suspect the goal could be personal enlightnment instead of a search in > a communicable theory which should or could explain the observable and > non observable (but "feelable", like pain) phenomena.
AND On Sat, Aug 1, 2009 at 2:19 AM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote: >> >> The only thing we have direct access to is our conscious experience. >> Trying to explain the existence of this conscious experience in terms >> of what is experienced inevitably leads to vicious circularity. > > If you explain the existence of a pain in your tooth by a cavity the > experience may lead > to a dentist - and less pain in your experience. I am proposing, I suppose: CONSCIOUSNESS => EVERYTHING ELSE So obviously it seems useful to postulate the existence of things like quarks and electrons, which we then use to make predictions about what will happen if we do this, that, or the other. However, I think there is good reason to believe that this only holds true in our own relatively well-behaved part of what is actually a vast experiential wilderness. Any proposal that has our consciousness as being "caused", whatever the causal mechanism, is open to the possibility that we are caused to experience something that is not reflective of the reality that produced the experience. Dreams, delusions, hallucinations, brains-in-vats, and computer simulations of brains all offer real or conceivable examples of scenarios where what is experienced might lead one astray in trying to determine the underlying nature of things. If our conscious experience is caused, then for all we know we're giant amorphous blobs floating in 12 dimensional space, but with just the right internal causal structure to produce the conscious experience of being humans in 3-dimensional space. Or we could be "Boltzmann Brains", produced by the random fluctuations of particles in just the right way to produce the illusion of our current experiences. Given enough time, exactly our experience would be produced, regardless of the underlying physics of the Boltzmann Universe that we actually inhabit, just through a brute random search of the space of possibilities, combination and recombination of all possible configurations. OR (per Bruno) we could be mathematical algorithms existing only in some immaterial platonic sense. Or identical experiences, plus all variations, of being Brent or Bruno might be caused by each of the above mechanisms at different times and in different places. An infinite number of universes, or a universe of infinite size, or with an infinite amount of time, or a quantum mechanical multiverse with infinite branches, or a platonic Plenitude containing all possible mathematical/algorithmic structures, would all seem to be possibilities, and not even mutually exclusive ones. BUT, I don't think so. All causal explanations for consciousness (even Bruno's) ultimately rely on fiat assertions that "this causes conscious experience", without providing any convincing explanation for why this should be. It's not so much causation as correlation, as far as I can see. As I mentioned, I'm sure that the brain can be viewed as representing the contents of my experience. And I'm sure that a computer program could also be written that would represent the contents of my conscious experience and whose representational state would evolve as the program ran so that it continued to match what I experience over time. But this would not mean that the program was conscious, or that my brain is conscious. The living brain and the executing computer program both just represent the contents of my conscious experience, in the same way that a map represents the actual terrain. However, I question the need to push the explanation down to a separate layer. So we are at the top of your ontological stack, I assume. And we look below us to see what supports us. But then we have to look below that level to see what supports it, and below that level to see what supports it, and so on. Infinite regress. Turtles all the way down. But instead why not look at our own experience, which is the only thing we know directly, as the foundation of the ontological stack. Everything that exists rests on the foundation of our conscious experience? In this view, the stack goes up for as far as our intellect can reach. And as our intellectual capacity expands, the our view of the existential landscape above us also expands. This, I think, makes more sense. --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org To unsubscribe from this group, send email to everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---