Rex Allen wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 1:50 PM, Bruno Marchal<marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
>> I don't see the theory. What do you ask us to agree on, if only for
>> the sake of the argument.
> So, while the contents of my experience...the things that I'm
> conscious OF are complex and structured, my conscious experience of
> these things is singular and indivisible.
> As such, I feel that it is reasonable to say that conscious experience
> itself is uncaused and fundamental.
> Given that conscious experience is uncaused, it can't be explained in
> terms of other things, like quarks and electromagnetism or numbers and
> Uncaused things can't be explained. They just are.
Didn't anyone ever explain arithmetic or geometry to you? Not every
explanation needs to be a causal one. And being uncaused doesn't
prevent explanation - for example decay of an unstable nucleus is
uncaused, i.e. it is random, but it is still explained by quantum mechanics.
I think you point is better made by observing that an explanation must
be of something less known in terms of something better known. Since
nothing can be better known than our own subjective experience, it
cannot be explained.
I'm not sure I buy that, but I understand it.
> So what causes the complexity and structure of the things that I am
> conscious of? Nothing. That's just the way my experience is.
> No explanation can be given for uncaused fundamental events or
> entities. And further, no meaningful explanation can be given for
> events or entities that are themselves *wholly* caused by uncaused
> events. These things just are.
> So let's say a closed system of entities comes into being uncaused.
> Any properties that the individual components of this system have are
> also uncaused, and the ways that the components interact are uncaused
> as well. This system is a universe unto itself.
> So I am saying that no matter how this system evolves, no aspect of
> the system can ever be given a meaningful explanation.
Now you've introduced another term "meaningful" explanation. If one can
understand it, it must be meaningful.
> meaningless of it's initial state means that all subsequent states are
> equally meaningless in an absolute sense. All that we can do is
> describe what the system does. But description is not explanation.
It can be if it's a description of something you don't understand in
terms of something you do.
> Further, even if the system seems predictable, there is no reason to
> think that it will continue in it's predicitablity.
If it has been predictable in the past, that is a reason to think it
will be predictable in the future. That's virtuous circularity.
> And neither is
> there any reason to think that it won't continue it's predictable
> pattern. The system follows it's own "uncaused" rules, which we may
> be able to guess at, but which we cannot know, due to the system's
> fundamentally uncaused nature.
You seem to take the position that because knowledge isn't certain no
knowledge is possible.
> I think this is more obvious if you look at the system as a "block
> universe", where time is treated as a sort of spatial dimension, and
> so all states of the system exist simultaneously, like my previous
> example of the block of granite. Why does state B follow state A?
> Why is slice B adjacent to slice A? Because that's just the way this
> uncaused system is.
The block universe is model we use for thinking about some problems.
It's not a good one for thinking about whether to have a cup of coffee.
> Looking for meaning in the system is like looking for hidden messages
> in randomly generated character strings. You may find them, but the
> messages can not have any real meaning, no matter how meaningful they
>> In the conclusion I don't understand the last sentence, which seems to
>> me a proposition for abandoning theorizing in that field.
> Well, the search for a theoretical model that is fully consistent what
> what we consciously observed is still a reasonable goal in terms of
> challenging intellectual endeavor. And if that's what your future
> conscious experiences hold for you, then that's what you will do (no
> free will here).
>>> Machines are
>>> more fundamental than consciousness? Or machines are just a way of
>>> representing conscious experience?
>> Machines/numbers cannot represent conscious experiences.
> You are correct, I misspoke. I should have said "machines are just a
> way of representing the CONTENTS of conscious experience."
>> Comp can make the conscious experience much more fundamental than the
>> Aristotelian materialist usually think, yet consciousness is
>> arithmetically "caused". It is an attribute of universal machine (in
>> an even weaker sense than usual) related to their ideal self-
>> consistency. It generates the belief in a reality, and the infinities
>> of corrections which ensue.
> To me this has as much of an "explanatory gap" as materialism.
> Consciousness is caused by arithmetical relationships? Why would this
> be? Why would arithmetical relationships result in conscious
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