On Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 9:50 AM, David Nyman<david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Recalling your interest in Chalmers: I was re-reading "Facing Up to
> the Problem of Consciousness" recently, and I  realised - I think for
> the first time - that his own "double-aspect theory of information" is
> effectively a reformulation, in less 'professionally-embarrassing'
> lingo, of eastern metaphysics!

Indeed, Chalmers' double-aspect theory of information seemed like a
good starting point when I first read it 18 months or so ago, but I
guess the question is where do you go from there?  Chalmers did a
great job of articulating the mind-body problem, and I think in
defending his initial position, but he doesn't seem to have made much
progress in the 14 or so years since then.  BUT, then...I guess that's
the "hard" part for you.

Though, just in the last month, I think I've kind of shifted gears
here.  Why should consciousness be an aspect of information (or
anything else)?  Why not consider information an aspect of

In an earlier thread, Brent mentioned Hume, and in response you
referenced Kant, BUT I'm not very familiar with either.  But just in
the last week I've discovered that Kant has already given some thought
to this topic, and kindly summarized his views in "A Critique of Pure
Reason"!  Who knew???  So now I'm interested in reading up on Kant,
and particularly G. E. Schulze's subsequent response in Aenesidemus.
SO...if you've already been down this path, then I'd be interested to
hear your thoughts.

Though, obviously since A Critique of Pure reason was written in 1781,
and yet we're still here discussing it almost 230 years later, it
didn't offer any conclusive answers...but still...

Of course even before Hume and Kant, we have Leibniz in Monadology (1714):

"Moreover, it must be confessed that perception and that which depends
upon it are inexplicable on mechanical grounds, that is to say, by
means of figures and motions. And supposing there were a machine, so
constructed as to think, feel, and have perception, it might be
conceived as increased in size, while keeping the same proportions, so
that one might go into it as into a mill. That being so, we should, on
examining its interior, find only parts which work one upon another,
and never anything by which to explain a perception.  Thus it is in a
simple substance, and not in a compound or in a machine, that
perception must be sought for."

BUT, I think my general criticism is that we seem to be mistaking
descriptions of what we are conscious of, with an explanation of
consciousness itself.

So, for instance, if Bruno is correct in his mathematical theory of
the origins of consciousness...what does that mean, really?
Ultimately, how is it different than saying "consciousness exists
uncaused, but by pure chance there are these interesting patterns that
can be seen in this record of our past observations."

So Brent made the assertion that "The ability to predict is an
excellent measure of understanding."  But if your predictions are all
*caused* by the same system that you are making predictions about, and
that same system is also then *causing* your judgments about the
accuracy of the predictions, then I don't think that his assertion is
necessarily true.

You could not have understood other than you did, you could not have
predicted other than you did, and you could not have judged the
accuracy of the prediction other than you did.  There was no freedom
in any of these things.  In effect...there was no understanding, there
was no prediction, and there was no judgement...it was all just the
system going through it's motions, which for some reason resulted in
an epiphenomenal EXPERIENCE of understanding, prediction, and

And I think that this was part of the discussion between Kant,
Reinhold, Schulze, et al.

For example:

"As determined by the Critique of Pure Reason, the function of the
principle of causality thus undercuts all philosophizing about the
where or how of the origin of our cognitions. All assertions on the
matter, and every conclusion drawn from them, become empty subtleties,
for once we accept that determination of the principle as our rule of
thought, we could never ask, 'Does anything actually exist which is
the ground and cause of our representations?'. We can only ask, 'How
must the understanding join these representations together, in keeping
with the pre-determined functions of its activity, in order to gather
them as one experience?'"  -- Gottlob Ernst Schulze

SO...I dunno.  Bruno made the dreaded accusation of solipsism, but I'm
not sure how you avoid ending up there (at least in the
epistemological sense of there being a limit to what can be known),
regardless of which direction you go.  You can take the long way, or
you can take the short way, but all roads do seem to ultimately lead
to some variety of solipsism.  The only question is what kind of
scenery will you get along the way.  Hmmmm.

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