2009/8/13 Rex Allen <rexallen...@gmail.com>:

> Causality.  Causality.  Causalty.  Hmmm.
> So really I am arguing against causal explanations.  I think this the
> core of my current argument.  The feeling that something is happening
> *NOW* is just another example of qualia I think.  The certainty of
> feeling that *that* caused *this*...more qualia.
> Causality doesn't get you anywhere, because it doesn't start cleanly.
> This is why I keep bringing up "uncaused" beginnings.  If *this*
> happened because of *that*, then why did *that* happen?  You can't get
> to the start of it in a way that makes sense.

I think there's the all-too-present risk of getting hung up on
vocabulary here.  Perhaps the sense of 'causal' you're having a
problem with is summed up in Wittgenstein's (other ) well-known
dictum: "Not how the world is, but that it is, is the mystery".  The
sense in which I've been using it focuses on 'how', not 'that', which
at least leaves us something to say.

> 1)  Realizing that deterministic classical physics meant no
> libertarian free will when I was 21 years old or so, about 2 minutes
> before a professor wrote on the chalk board in big letters "NO FREE
> WILL".  For those 2 minutes though, I was really thunderstruck.  I
> thought "Holy crap, this is incredible!  Am I the first person to
> realize this???"   So I spent the next 9 years or so trying to come to
> grips with the implications of that, which was hard, because I really
> wanted to take full credit for all the great things I'd done.  But,
> then as my 30th birthday came and went, I decided maybe I didn't have
> that many great things to take credit for after all, so screw free
> will.  Who needs it anyway.

Indeed.  It doesn't get that much better after thirty either.  But as
we've said, the real insight only comes when we see *whose* will we're
talking about.  What we choose is ours; that part we can be sure of -
the freedom bit is more of an exploration.  But as they say, the sign
of maturity is taking ownership.  And exploring can be fun.

> 2)  My introduction to functionalism and computationalism and some of
> the related issues like the strange implications of multiple
> realizeability via Hans Moravec's book "Robot: Mere Machine to
> Transcendent Mind" in the late 1990s.  This gave me something to think
> about in my spare time for several years.

Fascinating stuff.  You've no doubt perused the ongoing and recent
discussion of this stuff here and elsewhere.  Bruno's work sheds real
light on this, I believe.  Again, if the 'ownership' issues aren't
faced head-on: confusion and paradox.

> 3)  AND, most recently, about 18 months ago, when I finally got around
> to reading David Chalmers' paper "Facing Up to the Problem of
> Consciousness".  I'd heard a little about the "hard problem" of
> consciousness prior to that, and I was familiar with the basic issues,
> but I didn't fully understand until that moment.  It wasn't quite the
> shock that my free will "discovery" had been, but it was still a
> moment of revelation, where one second I didn't see the problem at
> all, and the next second I couldn't believe that I had failed to see
> it for so long.

Yes, Chalmers' work has been a great stimulus, although in the end I
think he finks out.  He doesn't seem to get that the whole zombie
thing is caused by his dogmatic assumption of the 'causal closure' of
physics.  He's still mesmerised by an epistemology he takes to have
been incontrovertibly established as the unique ontological substrate
("Theory of Everything" - what a great slogan!)  Or rather he seems to
glimpse the problem - and what the fix is - but in the end he backs
away into yet another version of epiphenomenal psycho-physical
parallelism.  This is what I mean by paradox and confusion.

> Since then I've put a lot more time into trying to understand what it
> all means.  And I'm leaning towards concluding that it doesn't "mean"
> anything.  It just is.  Which is a strange conclusion to come to after
> 18 months of pretty intense thought...

Yes, it can seem that it doesn't mean anything.  But *you* mean
something, don't you?  Hang on though - just who is this 'you' anyway?
 Didn't we conclude earlier on that 'you'  - your point of view, your
experience, your intentions, your very 'self' - are just on loan from
'it'?   Mightn't that suggest that 'it' has rights of possession on
anything of  'yours'?  Hmm...

Still sure it doesn't mean anything?


> >

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