Rex Allen wrote:
On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 7:22 PM, Brent Meeker <> wrote:
Rex Allen wrote:
So ultimately, there is no reason you value the things you do...that's
just the way things are.

Suppose there was a reason - what would it be like?  And why would it make
any difference whether there was a reason or not?   This seems like another
instance of  the "No explanation can satisfy Rex principle."  If you are
determined to reject all explanation and rational inferences because they
are not, in some undefinable way, complete explanations of everything then I
can't see any point in discussing it further except to say I think you are
philosophizing in bad faith.

Me?  Philosophizing in bad faith?  I was just thinking the same thing
about you!  Ha!

So I'm just trying to understand my situation here.  To me, my
existence seems quite perplexing.  An explanation is in order.

But you never say what would count as an explanation - which makes me think you don't know. Which is OK. But not knowing what the explanation would look like is a very poor reason for asserting no explanation is possible and things are just the way they are. I refer to my example of vitalism. Until molecular biology was developed nobody could conceive of how understanding lifeless atoms and an molecules could explain life. And in a sense it didn't explain it in the terms people were thinking of, e.g. finding an elan vital. It didn't "explain" it at all; but it described it so thoroughly that people saw that asking for an explanation was the wrong question. And that's not the only example. People wondered what caused the planets to move through the sky. Newton propounded his theory of universal gravitation and it became possible to predict not only the course of the planets but of any other body in motion through the solar system. When Newton was asked to explain how gravity did this he replied, "Hypothesi non fingo."
The chain of thought that led to my current proposal is not that complicated.

All you have to do is to consider the block universe concept, which I
choose because it's easy to talk about - but the points hold for any
physicalist theory of reality I think.

So, why does this block of space-time and it's contents exist?
Presumably there would be no reason, it just would.

Why would things be the way they are inside the block?  Presumably
there would be no reason, they just would be that way.

If certain configurations of matter inside the block gave rise to
conscious experience, why would this be so?  Presumably there would be
no reason for this either, it just would be so.

With that in mind, why would we prefer the explanation involving the
inexplicable existence of a space-time block whose contents somehow
gives rise to conscious experience *OVER* the explanation that the
conscious experiences in question just exist uncaused?

First, because the block universe assumes a lot more that just "things happen in spacetime". There is a very large and extensively tested set of theories about how the events in spacetime are related and why we perceive different people and how their perceptions are transformations of one another's. Second, we don't always prefer a block universe explanation. In fact we almost always use an evolving model in which the future is not determined as in a block, but depends on a mixture of choices, initial conditions and randomness. When we use X in an explanation of Y we don't necessarily need an explanation of X, we need only know what X means in some operational sense.
Well...I don't see why we should.  C

How do I explain the consistency and order of my uncaused experiences?
 Well, how do you explain the consistency and order of your space-time

How can conscious experiences exist uncaused?  Well, how can
space-time blocks exist uncaused?

Any question you ask about my theory, I can just as easily ask about
yours...again, even if yours doesn't involve space-time blocks but
rather some other physicalist variation.

You can say that the space-time block explanation is more "useful" for
making predictions, but what does "useful" mean from inside the
context of a space-time block?

It means when I design an airliner you needn't be afraid to fly on it.
And as I've mentioned before, assuming that conscious experience is
fundamental doesn't preclude making predictions either.  In fact, the
predictions for future observations should be the same as those made
starting from physicalist assumptions.

But my point is that this is a cheat. You use all the mechanism and theories of physics to make the predictions even though as you point out there is no worked out theory of the connection between consciousness and physics. On the one hand you use this to reject the physical reality model and on the other hand you help yourself to all it's predictive power and pretend it's the same as a consciousness is fundamental theory. Can you tell me how, on a consciousness is fundamental model, you would explain the connection, in terms of conscousness, your ideas cause your fingers to type things that show up on my monitor?
But, whether consciousness is fundamental, or matter is fundamental,
or numbers are fundamental...the only reality that we'll ever *know*
is the reality of our conscious experience.  Life may not be a dream,
but it might as well be.

Really!? You really don't care whether you're awake or dreaming. You really can't tell the difference?

And, however things *really* are, there is no reason for it...they
just are that way.
But you continue to act (and think - except when philosophizing) exactly as if there were a physical reality. If you can't explain that - in terms of consciousness - then you give up helping yourself to theories based on physical reality.

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