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 consciousness? 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 judgement. 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. 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