2009/8/15 Rex Allen <rexallen...@gmail.com>:
> 1) Physicalism has an explanatory gap
> 2) Platonism, which initially seemed better, also has an explanatory gap
> 3) Uncaused things cannot have meaning or explanations in an absolute sense
> 4) All causal explanations of consciousness ultimately lead to uncaused
> 5) Things which follow entirely from uncaused beginnings are
> themselves ultimately uncaused
> 6) Therefore, one way or another, directly or indirectly,
> consciousness is uncaused.
> 7) Given the choice between directly uncaused or indirectly uncaused,
> I'll take directly uncaused.
Here's what I think is the problem with all this:
1) No notion of causation has any leverage outside the context and
rationale of a given explanatory scheme. We can understand the
evolution of such a system in causal terms; but the system itself is
neither caused nor uncaused. It's irreducibly contextual: without it
you just can't have an explanation. Which leads to:
2) Meaning and explanation cannot derive their legitimacy from a
transcendent or 'absolute' source (i.e. from 'outside' the system).
Any idea that they do stems from the pervasive distortion of the 'view
from nowhere'. We try to imagine standing somewhere 'outside'
everything, and this seems to offer a viewpoint that should possess
some 'absolute' relation to the system we have left. But any such
'relation' is by its nature detached, void, empty of meaning. To
restore meaning, we must climb back inside the system: IOW
significance is inherently systemic, internal and relational.
But the lack of an appeal to some 'absolute' source doesn't weaken
meaning; to the contrary, it is its touchstone. The attempt to
justify meaning by appeal to absolute standards collapses. What if
some 'absolute' authority claimed that it was absolutely OK to murder
someone? Would you still be capable of dissent? If so, how would you
perform such an evaluation? Clearly by applying criteria independent
of any supposedly 'absolute' legitimacy. IOW, any ability to evaluate
meaningfully entails the existence of relevant criteria in terms of
the system itself: the appeal to external sources for their legitimacy
>>> If conscious experience is caused, then knowledge is...still
>>> irrelevant. But for a different reason...in 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
>> Why do you think this? Maybe I found 121 in a table of prime numbers that
>> was erroneous.
> What caused the table to be erroneous? What caused that? What caused
> what caused that? Etc.
>> Maybe a friend told me 121 was prime.
> What caused him to do that? Etc.
>> Maybe my calculator malfunctioned due to a cosmic ray hit.
> Why are the laws physics that we observe such that cosmic rays are
> generated and calculators are susceptible to malfunctioning when hit?
> What caused your calculator and the comic ray to be in the same place
> at the same time and thus collide? What caused you to use a
> calculator instead of just remembering that 11 * 11 is 121? What
> caused what caused all these things? Etc.
> 1Z...that's my response to your post as well.
>> Why would I try to phrase my answer in terms of "the ultimate cause"?
> Because you want to understand the underlying nature of reality?
>> Why would I even suppose there is such a thing as "the ultimate cause"?
> Human nature?
>> And why would the absence of an ultimate cause have any relevance
>> to my explanation in terms of proximate causes?
> It would have no relevance to that particular "operational
> explanation". But we're not here to discuss operational explanations.
> That's for physics blogs.
> Further, we're not here primarily to discuss what kinds of entities
> might exist which would also be consistent with our observations AND
> subjectively useful in our operational explanations. That's also for
> physics blogs.
> We're here to discuss what really is. Absolute explanations that
> account for "Everything", the entire ontological stack of what exists.
>>> 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?
> How about now? Even if you don't agree, surely you see?
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
For more options, visit this group at