On Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 3:02 PM, Brent Meeker<> wrote:
>> 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.

Well, I think that's what I'm saying.  Causal explanations are not
really explanations, because you can never trace the causal chain back
to it's ultimate source.  Or if you do, the ultimate source is itself
uncaused.  So, if you rephrase the answer in terms of ultimate causes,
you end up inserting either "unknown" or "uncaused" everywhere.

So causal explanations are subjective...only meaningful within a
limited context.  Going back to my granite block example:

Let's consider two adjacent specks of white and gray found within a
block of granite.  Why are they adjacent?  What caused them to be
adjacent?  Well, if we consider this block of granite within the
context of our universe, then we can say that there is a reason in
that context as to why they are adjacent.  There is an explanation,
which has to do with the laws of physics and the contingent details of
the geologic history of the area where this block of granite was
formed (which is in turn derived from the contingent details of the
initial state of our entire universe).

BUT if we take an identical block of granite to be something that just
exists uncaused, like our universe, then there can be no explanation.
The two specks are just adjacent.  That's it.  No further explanation
is possible.

So in the first case, the geologic explanation makes sense in a local
subjective way, but not in an absolute way, because the universe that
provides the context for the geologic explanation has no reason behind
its initial state or it's governing laws of physics.  The universe
just is the way it is.  Therefore, ultimately the block of granite
just is the way it is.

> 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.

So you can explain it within the context of the laws of our universe,
but this just raises the question of why the laws of our universe are
what they are.

Ultimately your answer is:  unstable nuclei decay because that's what
unstable nuclei do.  Tautology.

> 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.

Well, that is pretty good.  I'll file it away for future use.  Thanks!

>> 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.

So when people find hidden messages in the Old Testament using the
"Bible Code", these are meaningful messages?  Really?

If something means something to me...that's subjective.  It means
something TO ME.  I have a conscious experience of finding that thing
meaningful.  There's something that it's like to find it meaningful.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this point, but...I think it means
something.  To me.  Ha!

>> 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.

Well, no.  That's not what I'm saying.  I'm saying that the conscious
experience of knowing is somehow more fundamental and important than
what is known.

If conscious experience is uncaused and acausal, then in some sense
knowledge is irrelevant.  Your uncaused experience could be of
believing that you "know" something which is actually false (e.g.,
that 121 is prime).

If conscious experience is caused, then knowledge is...still
irrelevant.  But for a different this case what you *can*
know is determined by those external causes.  You could be caused to
believe that you *know" something which is actually false (e.g., that
121 is prime).  But if you then trace the causal chain back, you will
never find what ultimately caused you to be wrong...when you phrase
your answer in terms of the ultimate causes, it will just be "I was
wrong because that's the way the universe is".

Do you see what I'm getting at with all of this "uncaused" stuff, and
the equivalence between an uncaused universe and just an isolated
uncaused conscious experience?  At all?  Anyone?

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