Rex Allen wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 4:01 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com> 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.


>The
> 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 
eventually 
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 
self-reference 
and instead we'll talk about visual processing and memory access and other new 
concepts 
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 
course 
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.

Brent


>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.

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