Rex Allen wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 4:01 PM, Brent Meeker<> wrote:
>> Where are you trying to get?  to an immortal soul?
>> a ghost-in-the-machine?  What's wrong with my
>> mind is what my brain does?
> Where I'm trying to get is that there is no explanation for our
> conscious experience.  It just is.

Depends on what you want an explanation in terms of.

> So all that we have to work with are our observations, plus our innate
> reasoning processes.
> Unfortunately, these two things are not enough to determine what, if
> anything, really exists outside of our experience.
> At best, we can take our observations and apply our innate reasoning
> processes to produce theoretical models that are consistent with what
> we have observed.

Right.  Forget the really real and I'll settle for a good model.

> Kant covered all this I think.
> So first, the theories on offer, carried to their logical conclusions,
> don't take you anywhere.  They all hit explanatory dead ends:  

Unless (my favorite) they're circular.

> universe came into being uncaused, for no reason, and everything else
> follows.  Or the universe exists eternally, but with no explanation
> for why this should be or why it takes the form that it does.  Or the
> platonically existing infinities of computational relations between
> all the numbers do not just represent but inexplicably "cause" our
> conscious experience of a material universe.  Why?  Because that's the
> way it is.
> Second, even if any of these things are true, there's no way that
> *from inside that system* we can justify our belief that the theory is
> true (as opposed to just consistent with conscious observation).
> And third, even if true, the bottom line for all of them is,
> "conscious experience just is what it is".

The problem with that is that is applies equally to everything.  So it's 
completely devoid 
of meaning.

> For instance:  Bits of matter in particular configurations "cause"
> conscious experience.  Fine.  So what deeper meaning can we draw from
> this?  None.  

Maybe not meaning, but engineering.  That's why I think the "hard problem" will 
be considered a philosophical curiosity like how many angels can dance on the 
head of a 
pin.  If we learn to build machines, robots, artificial brains, that behave as 
if they 
were conscious we'll stop worrying about perceptual qualia and phenomenal 
and instead we'll talk about visual processing and memory access and other new 
that'll be invented.

>In this case the bits of matter being in the particular
> configurations that they are in is just a bare fact.  The universe,
> considered in its entirety, just is that way.  So the conscious
> experience that goes with that particle configuration just is a bare
> fact.
> But, by all means, continue with your theoretical system building.  We
> have to do something to pass the time, after all.
> But, to revisit your original question:
>> Where are you trying to get?
> Okay, I gave you my answer.  So, where are YOU trying to get?
>>>> "If you make yourself small enough you can avoid responsibility for 
>>>> everything."
>>>>        --- Daniel Dennett, in Elbow Room
>>> Every word in your quote, except "for", has to be considered in the
>>> context of Dennett's special terminology.
>> Seems prefectly straightforward to me.  If you define yourself as something 
>> apart from the
>> physical processes that move your arms and legs then you avoid 
>> responsibility for what
>> your arms and legs do.
> Right.  "If you define yourself as...".  Well sure.  That makes it
> easy, and that's what Dennett does.  Just makes up arbitrary
> definitions that suit his ends.

On the contrary he was criticizing that way of defining yourself.  And of 
definitions of words are arbitrary - we just chose the words.

> If things were that way, that's the way they'd be alright.
> But, the question is, are things that way?  And if you say so, what's
> your full reasoning?  

You're the one who keeps saying it is what it is.


>I mean your reasoning that takes into account
> the entire ontological stack of what exists, of course -- since I
> don't see any discussing an arbitrary subset of what exists that
> you've conveniently carved out to make some rhetorical point about
> what seems perfectly straightforward to you given some particular
> context.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at

Reply via email to