On Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 8:09 PM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> You seem to be reading a lot into my post.

Ha!  Ya, once I got going I figured I'd just throw everything in there
and see if any of it elicited any interesting feedback.


> I never said that
> consciousness is an illusion.  In fact I didn't say anything about
> consciousness at all. My post was about what makes an explanation a good
> one and that being "ultimate" is historically not one of them.

So my point is that:  in a reductionist theory which implies a
physicalist reality with no downwards causation, nothing means
anything.  Things only have the "appearance" of meaning.

In such a reality, things just are what they are.  If you find some
explanations "good" and others "bad", that's just the epiphenominal
residue of more fundamental physical processes which are themselves
unconcerned with such things.

In such a reality if you predict an event that comes to pass, both
your prediction AND the event were inevitable from the first instant
of the universe, implicit in it's initial state plus the laws of
physics.  Looked at in a block-universe format:  the first instant,
you making the prediction, and the predicted event all coexist
simultaneously.  In this view, while your prediction was accurate,
there's no reason for that...it's just the way things are in that
block of reality.  Scientific theories only describe this fact, they
don't explain it.

So what science deals in is descriptions.  Not explanations.  The
feeling that something has been explained is an aspect of
consciousness, not an aspect of reality (at least not reality as
posited by physicalism).

I don't think that this is usually made clear.  And it seems like a
subtle but important distinction, philosophically.

So I take your point about the schoolmen.  There aren't many practical
applications for the idea that "things just are the way they are".
But still it's an interesting piece of information, if true.

But if physicalism is correct, then how useful are your "explanations"
really?  You *feel* as though it's useful to know about inflation and
the CMB, but underneath your feelings, your constituent quarks and
electrons are playing out the parts that were set for them by the
initial state of the universe plus the laws that govern it's
evolution.

Maybe that initial state and the particular governing laws were set
according to the rules of some larger multiverse...or maybe they just
are what they are, for no reason.

How about this:

"Science is about observations.  Philosophy is about clarity."

I just want to be clear about the implications of the various
narratives that are consistent with what we observe.

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