On 15 Aug, 02:40, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 2009/8/14 1Z <peterdjo...@yahoo.com>:
> >> I think need to take a hard line on RITSIAR. I feel that the key lies
> >> in what Bruno terms the certainty of the ontological first person
> >> (OFP): i.e. the sine qua non of reality as it is uniquely available to
> >> us. Since this is inescapably the foundation of any and all
> >> judgements whatsoever, it is simultaneously both the both point of
> >> departure and the 'what-is-to-be-explained' of RITSIAR. In this light
> >> it becomes self-evident that any and all explanatory entities -
> >> physical, computational, or whatever - are severely restricted to the
> >> domain of epistemology. IOW - as Bruno says above - they are
> >> theoretical constructions.
> > That doesn't follow at all. A theoretical construct can have a real
> > referent. eg, if the theory of quarks is true , quarks exist. What
> > else
> > would "theory X is true" mean?
> Yes, of course, I agree with you that we take our references to have
> real referents. Part of our problem in discussion I think is that you
> tend to attribute views to me that - if I held them - would indeed be
> fatuous. Now, you are within your rights to say that it's my fault
> for giving you this impression. But I can only reply that my
> intention is to draw attention to something more subtle, and this is
> I think if I had to sum up the point of departure for more or less
> everything I've been saying, it would be that I question the
> assumption that everything we can discover or know about the world can
> be exhausted by describing its observable behaviour - whatever the
> model. This is I think what has been called the 'view from nowhere'
> and - wonderfully useful though it undoubtedly is, and prone as I am
> myself to rely on it much of the time - I'm not alone in criticising
> it in the context of mind-body issues. And this is because it seems
> to me - though I think not to you - that in this domain alone we're
> forced out of our view from nowhere and confronted with the fact that
> what we're trying to explain by observation is the very phenomenon
> we're using to make the observation. And this is the problem.
It might be. It isn't obviously the case that
cosnciousness wouldn't be able to account for itself.
> >> So far so obvious. But - as has again been recognised immemorially -
> >> solipsism is a dead-end and hence we seek a theory to capture the
> >> relation between the OFP and its environment. But immediately we are
> >> faced with the notorious 'explanatory gap',
> >> and it seems to me that
> >> its most precise expression is in the gap between ontology and
> >> epistemology.
> > I don;t know what explanatory gap you are talking about,
> > but is doesn't sound like Levine's one.
> Well, as I imply above, I'm using ontology in the sense of 'what it is
> to be' - not 'what it is to describe' - so maybe we need another term
> to avoid confusion. So the gap is the one between these two things.
> > What is "Ontological certainty"? Certainty belongs to epistemolgoy,
> > so "onotlogical" can't bve qualifying "certainty". Do you mean
> > something like "the one certain fact about ontology/existence"?
> My rhetorical question was "how do we reach a state of certainty about
> 'what it is to be' on the basis of 'what it is to describe'.
Why do we need certainty?
> To which
> my response is that we can't, because in the area of the first person
> we have indubitable acquaintance with at least some aspect of the
That doesn't support the conclusion by itself. You also need to argue
for lack of certainty in descriptions
> And in my view, this acquaintance is so alien to 'what is
with regard to consciousness , or generally?
> that the assumption of the gap being bridged on the basis
> of *any* model of observability can only be a brute apriori
> assumption. Now I know that many people aren't troubled by this, and
> some just are. Frankly, by this stage I'm ready to put it down to
> differences in imaginative style, what we're trying to achieve
> personally with our thinking, or something equally idiosyncratic. I
> don't really believe it can be resolved entirely by persuasion.
Do you concede that many aspects of mind -- cognition, memory and so
are not part of any Hard Problem?
> > Realism doesn;t need the
> > existence of a non-mental world to be a certainty, it just needs
> > it to be more plausible than the alternatives.
> Yes, in general I agree with you.
Then what is the significance of Ontological Certainty?
>But I suppose on the mind-body
> question, the various positions that I've successively tried to hold
> on to (and I think I've traversed most of them over the last 30 years
> or so) having become less and less plausible to me. I don't want to
> be a mysterian, but I think that the assumption that with a bit more
> effort we've got the mind sorted on the basis of current theories will
> turn out to be more like Lord Kelvin's notorious dicta on black-body
> radiation and the ether wind. Actually, if that were the case, it
> would be a good omen, because that presaged relativity and QM.
I think physicalism has been generally succesful and as much
of it should be retained as possible. hence the need to focus
on the key issues in the MBP
> >> Is there a coherent way
> >> to conceive what it could mean to *be* a theoretical entity (as
> >> opposed to postulating or observing one)?
> > Probably not, but that is because the question posed is somethign of
> > a category error. What the realist would say is that she can conceive
> > of theoretical statements havign real referents.
> Yes, but my view is that mind-body shows us that to consider the
> referent of a theoretical statement to be something 'external' is in
> fact the category error - i.e. the view from nowhere again.
Referents are external by definition. So you must be sayign that no
theory ever has a referent. But you have not said why.
> (can't remember who) put it like this: "what is the external world
> supposed to be external to?"
> Look, it may well be that you're capable
> of doing this sort of category-juggling in your head whilst still
> using the standard theoretical language. Part of the trouble is that
> I'm never quite sure if others are doing this, which is why I try to
> proceed in a painfully step-by-step way in enquiring into it - which
> probably makes me sound like the village idiot to you.
Hmm. Well, I still think you are repeating standard map-territory
> >> There is something
> >> quintessential that stubbornly eludes capture, because epistemological
> >> access never tells us what an entity *is* - only what can be
> >> ascertained of its 'externalised' properties.
> > How do you know? If you can't detect some mysterious inner essence,
> > how do you know there is one?
> I certainly wouldn't put it like that. I don't think that the view
> from nowhere can 'detect' anything of the sort precisely because it
> doesn't - can't - say anything about the 'inner' at all - i.e. its
> externalised: that's its point.
YOu still haven't said about how you got into contact with the inner--
or at least any "inner" other than your own.
> Theories represent the limit of what
> the world can *tell* us, not the limit of what it *is*.
Theories don't necessarily tell us the whole story. However
you seem to have decided they necessarily don't.
If you can't peak over the horizon. how do you know there
is anything there?
> Do you
> really suppose that you are limited in any such way? That your
> existence as it is known to you by acquaintance is entirely exhausted
> by what I can glean by interacting with you or bouncing signals off
Do you think that if you scanned my brain right down to the atomic
you still wouldn't have captured all the information?
> What we know by indubitable acquaintance is something absolutely
> qualitatively different to what is described theoretically - it has to
> be - and whereas of course I'm not implying that this acquaintance
> gives us the ante on the whole nature of existence, I do believe that
> it should be a salutory corrective to any notion of the 'completeness'
> of our theories of observation.
And the corrective to that corrective is that it must all be the same
information -- just somehow presented differntly.
> >>And lest we be tempted
> >> to accept the sum of these properties as exhausting 'existence', we
> >> need only turn to the self-evident corrective of the OFP.
> > THat passage is very far from self evident. Explain, please.
> What I said above.
Waht is OFP?
> >> So the gap must remain, and I think that now I see why Bruno appeals
> >> simply to the 'ordinary' mathematical sense of existence - because
> >> COMP, under this analysis, is an epistemological schema, and its
> >> entities are theoretical constructions.
> > No, Bruno is a Platonist. He thinks numbers are RITSIAR
> Well, I don't suppose you'll ever agree on that. But I think, on the
> basis of my latest discussion with him, that he sees all theory -
> including number theory - as standing in relation (i.e. referring to)
> to what is RITSIAR, not as actually *being* RITSIAR.
I think just the opposite. He thinks arithmetic "models" arithmetic
truth. But arithmetic truth just is arithmetic truth.
> Elsewhere, he's
> distinguished between a representation of a number, and a number. It
> seems to me that you are using Platonic to characterise what is in
> principle unobservable, but surely that also applies to many of the
> theoretical entities appealed to by physics with equal force?
No. an unobservale entity would be unfalsifiable. I am using the
to characterise the real-but-immaterial.
> >> Hence the question of jumping
> >> the ontological gap is in abeyance, perhaps permanently, but in any
> >> case in the realm of faith. And if this is true for COMP, then
> >> mutatis mutandis it is true for physics.
> > Of course not. Physics is about explaining the real world.
> Yes, I agree that physics is about explaining a real world - i.e. it
> stands in some theoretical relation to the describably real. But I
> reiterate that you can't jump the gap from description to 'what it is'
> for free - and this is not to rubbish the unique achievement of
> science in human understanding. It is simply to warn against hubris,
> I suppose. What has been extraordinarily successful in one domain of
> application may yet flounder when pushed too far beyond it.
That's pretty general.
> You see, the thing that interests me about comp isn't that I know that
> it's true. Rather it's because I think that it confronts the
> mind-body issue without sweeping the real problems under the rug.
CMT has next to nothng to say on the issue
of phenomenal consciousness and so
does Brouno's "comp"
> That doesn't mean that it doesn't face the final explanatory abyss
> too, but I think it positions the mysteries much more insightfully.
> >> The unavoidable consequence of the foregoing is that atoms, quarks and
> >> numbers cannot be RITSIAR.
> > That has not been demonstrated at all. At best you have an argument
> > that they are not necessarily RITSIAR. Which is straightforwardly
> > given
> > by the observation that theories are less than certain. All you have
> > writen
> > boils down to the fallacy that "no necessarily true" implies
> > "necessarily untrue"
> No, I think it boils down to the fact that no theoretical entity
> should ever be seen as RITSIAR - only in some relation to it.
That is the very fallacy I was complaining about. You are taking
"not necessarily real" to imply
"necessarily unreal". (NB: RITSIAR is not intended as a claim of
certainty. If you are just saying nothing is certain, you are nto
At least you don't have any support for the conclsuion that nothing
should be seen as real beyond the argument that it might not be
> difference between physics and comp is that in terms of the former
> there's virtually no way of expressing this thought coherently,
> whereas in terms of the latter it's a key aspect of the theory.
Since the thought is unfounded, I don't see why that is an issue.
> >> The unique feature of consciousness is not - as you claim - its
> >> 'epistemic' certainty, but its status as what is *ontologically
> >> certain*.
> > Whatever that means.
> It means its status as evidence by acquaintance of at least some
> indubitable aspects of 'what it is to be' something.
All that is delivered induibably is how things seem. Consciousness
does not offer any gold-plated insight into what things are. including
> >>To regard consciousness itself (or in Bruno's terms the
> >> ontological first person) as merely the object of 'knowledge' is to
> >> commit the fallacy of taking 'observation' in a naively literal sense:
> >> i.e. to require there to be an 'observer'. But this, self-evidently,
> >> can only lead to infinite regress. Consequently, consciousness does
> >> not consist in the 'observation' of epistemic entities, but in their
> >> instantiation.
> > Whatever that means. Surely if soemthign is insantiated, it exist and
> > is therefore ontological.
> I mean that consciousness isn't what we observe in others - or in the
> functioning of our brains - it's what they experience.
Consciousness doesn't seem to be the funcitoning of brains. But then
diamond doesn;t seem to be the same as graphite.
> We probably
> need a different term - like consciousness-related behaviour - for the
> former to avoid this confusion. I also mean that 'epistemic entities'
> - the things that we use to refer with - are instantiated in
> consciousness. Mine are anyway.
> >> Consciousness is, as it were, the 'ontology of
> >> epistemology'. When you say that the physical is basic, you are
> >> yourself mistaking the epistemological for the ontological.
> > No, I am takign certain highly succesful theories to be true.
> Yes, given that the physical is what is deemed to be described by
> physics, then it is indeed what is assumed to be true by highly
> successful theories. But this success is not what is necessary to
> bridge the mind-body gap, because the theories aren't designed for
> that particular job. In fact, they are designed precisely for the
> opposite of that job - i.e. to describe a state of affairs in a way
> that deliberately obscures the reversal of the relationship between
> theory and reality.
What reversal is that.
> IOW, in this view, consciousness is theory and
> the physical is the touchstone of reality.
No, on this view cosnciousness is not theory.
> But this view relies on
> the denial (in an unavoidably Freudian sense) that the physical is
> known exclusively in terms of conscious representations on which all
> extrapolation to an 'observable' reality rests.
No it doesn't. Why shouldn;t consciousness know the non-conscious?
You are blurring epistemology and ontoloy again. I can paint
the Taj Mahal in oils, that doesn't mean
here is anything oil-painting-ish abotu the Taj Mahal.
> Since such representations are not in themselves observable (though of
> course not unknowable) it is unreasonable to suppose that any
> putatively 'final' ontology known entirely on the basis of observation
> could ever be considered a complete account of the situation.
Who says they are unobsrvable? We can introspect them qua
consciousness, and observe their neurological basis to boot.
> This is
> a real issue. I'm by no means the only one who thinks that standard
> physics lacks a natural way to address this, and I feel there must be
> ways to re-position the issues more fruitfully - comp being one such
> I don't know what I can say to make this more compelling
> so, if you still see this as nothing but the old category error stuff
> again, I give up. No hard feelings.
> >> As to
> >> your evidence consisting in 'the whole of science', since the nature
> >> and significance of this evidence is precisely what is in question, it
> >> is inadequate merely to make such appeals to authority.
> > Au cotnraire, it is inadequate to assume that theories are necessarily
> > false bcause they are not necessarily true.
> How could I disagree?
You did above. You said a theoretical entities should never be
taken as RITSIAR.
> Do you really think this is the substance of
> our divergence? I merely reiterate that if some aspect of the
> scientific method and its interpretation is under dispute it is
> insufficient merely to lean too heavily on the fact that lots of
> scientists don't question it.
I am sayign that phsycalism is correct generally, not that is
necessarily ciorrect in problem areas.
>Whilst it would of course be foolish to
> disregard this, one may surely still have the temerity to question any
> authority if we think it may be mistaken.
> >> The problem is this: in the face of one indubitable ontology - that
> >> exemplified in consciousness - you try get physically-basic ontology
> >> for free.
> > Free? The development of physics involves a huge effort. And note
> > that I am not claiming cvertainty for it.
> Look, for most of my life, most of my heroes have been the champions
> of science. I'm the last person to rubbish this effort. All I'm
> saying is that in the mind-body domain the carefully designed
> methodology of 'vexing nature' is seeking to get a 'theory of
> everything' for free - because if you really believed that physics
> could account for 'everything' on the basis of' any possible set of
> observations, then IMO you don't take the 'gap' - between the
> observable and the ontologically real - that seriously.
> thinking about everything you've said, I conclude that you don't take
> it seriously in that way. And that means that I'm worrying about
> something unnecessarily in your view because you say it's just a
> category error. OK, we can agree to disagree.
OK, good. That saves me some typing. There is a gap
between the way consciousness presents itself to the observer
and the way it appears in descriptions. That doesn't necessarily
mean we are dealing with an ontological divide, and it doesn't
have to be part of some wider gap betwee any kind of description and
kind of reality.
> > And I don't think I get any ontology from consciousness. I'll grant
> > that it is indubitable that it exists, but that tells me nothing
> > about *what* it is. A brute fact is not an ontology.
> >>In other words, you simply assume that if we take ourselves
> >> to 'be' - what? - say, neural activity in 'computational' - or some
> >> yet-to-be-established - guise, then - pouf! - the ontological first
> >> person is conjured from mere description.
> > No, the first person is conjured from the brain -- from the territory,
> > not
> > the map.
> Yes, but the territory is entirely known (to the extent that it is
> known) in its conscious aspect, not in in terms of the observably
> 'physical' referents of physics-as-theory.
Consciousness is by no mean entirely known expereientially, because it
reveal its own workings -- we don't get to peak behind the curtain.
> And saying that these two
> categories are 'identical' is just pretending to monism whilst
> continuing to think dualistically IMO, as I've said - and as you've
> denied - repeatedly.
I am just pointing out the can't-grow-potatos-in-Norfolk fallacy.
> >> But there is no sense in
> >> which one can simply 'be' an epistemic 'object' - a theoretical
> >> construction.
> > As noted before, that is an artificial problem. Since theories
> > *can* be correct, one *can* be the referent of a theoretical
> > description, and the referent of a theoretical construction, if it
> > has one, is
> > a real thing.
> >>*This* is the explanatory gap,
> > No, it is nto the standard one in the literature. You are just
> > commiting a basica fallacy -- saying that because the map is not
> > itself real, it cannot *represetn* a real territory.
> No, I'm not saying that. I'm casting doubt on whether the mapping to
> the territory can be complete.
Now you are. You have been variously doubting whether maps can be
the whole truth. or true at all in different passages.
>In other words, the territory mapped
> on the basis of observation is still only a partial account of the
> complete state of affairs. However, I do realise that this amounts to
> heresy according to the standard doctrine of physics.
It amounts to jumping to a conclusions of ontological dualism
> >> > You still haven't said what the objection is to saying that
> >> > the mental emerges from the physical.
> >> I'm saying that all that can 'emerge' from one class of description is
> >> another class of description.
> > The physical is not a description/map. Physics is the description/map.
> True. But we have no direct access to the physical-in-itself through
> description, theory or mapping - only (in certain of its aspects)
> through consciousness.
How could we have got so far without the "access" argument?
Note that if access is taken as some kind of causal indirectness,
it doesn't have any obvious epistemic implications whatsoever.
We are communciating through IP packets that are bounced around and
relayed all over the placve.
Our communication is indirect, but that does not make it innacurate.
> So if you want the mental to 'emerge' from -
> or stand in true relation to - 'something', we must look beyond what
> is needed to account merely for what is observed.
> This is the facer
> for physics, because of course it is precisely committed to
> restricting itself to accounting for what is observed, and I
> understand the power and intent of this approach. But to extrapolate
> from this to the causal closure of a physical ontology of everything,
> independent of consciousness, is fatal to a coherent resolution of the
> mind-body issues IMO.
You are assuming that consciousness is unobserved. But as I pointed
out in the brain-scannign argument, there is good reason to think
that all the *information* in phenomenal cosnciousness is in fact
physically available. What is missing in physical descriptions is
the mode of presentation of that informaiton to the first person.
A red quale doesn't convey information over and above "that is red".
> >> If that exhausts your idea of the
> >> 'mental' I say you are an eliminativist. But you say you're not.
> >> What then?
> > I do think there is an explanatory gap, and I also think it is very
> > specific
> > the the nature of the mental and the nature of phsycial
> > *descriptions*. However
> > that does not mean that it is impossible for the mental territory to
> > emrge
> > from the physical territory. There are two things here, the brute fact
> > -- *that* the mental
> > emerges -- and the explanation -- *how* it emerges.
> We may agree here. It depends what you mean by 'how'.
> > You have in fact *not* criticised
> > the emergence of mental territory from physial territory, you have
> > criticised the emergence
> > of the mental territory from the physcical map. Well, you can't grow
> > potatos in a map of Norfolk,
> > but you can still grow potatos in Norfolk.
> Well, it's not because I don't recognise the distinction, at any
> event. I just want to be convinced we're getting real potatoes, and
> not just a load of stories about potatoes, that leaves us as hungry as
> >>This, I
> >> take it, can be construed only as a particularly odd form of dualism,
> >> or eliminativism.
> > Don't take it, expalin how you came to that.
> The explanation, which I've referred to above, is this: there is a
> claim that two categories - conscious experience itself, and a
> physical ontology characterised exhaustively in observable terms - are
> equivalent. I say that any such claim is implicitly dualistic: IOW it
> must appeal to 'something else' to fill what is not accounted for.
> Alternatively, to deny that anything remains unaccounted for is to
> *eliminate* the 'something else'.
You say that. The people who agree with it disagree that there is
anything unaccoutned for.
> At this point, I feel that the issues have had a good outing and
> further detailed commenting would be otiose. I don't expect either of
> us have shifted our position, though speaking personally I would
> really welcome the opportunity to do so, if I could see a compelling
> reason. If you can think of a new angle of attack, that could be
> really helpful. But for now, I'm signing off.
> David>> The 'arbitrariness' is inherent in the burden of
> >> the term 'functionalism', which is intrinsically neutral as to the
> >> details of physical implementation.
> > No, there are two quite differnt claim here:
> > 1. A function can have multiple instantions
> > 2. Anything can instantiate any function.
It's a pity you didn't comment on that.
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