On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 8:50 PM, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote: > On 21 February 2010 23:25, Rex Allen <rexallen...@gmail.com> wrote: > >> So we know 1-p directly, while we only infer the existence of 3-p. >> However, you seem to start from the assumption that 1-p is in the >> weaker subordinate position of needing to be explained "in terms of" >> 3-p, while 3-p is implicitly taken to be unproblematic, fundamental, >> and needing no explanation. > > You're right that I'm starting from this assumption, but only because > it is indeed the default assumption in the sciences, and indeed in the > general consciousness, and my intention was to illustrate some of the > consequences of this assumption that are often waved away or simply > not acknowledged.
So let's assume that an independently existing material world exists and fully explains what we observe and also THAT we observe. If this reality is deterministic, then what we experience is strictly a result of the world's initial conditions and the laws that govern it's change over time. Which means that what we can know about reality is also strictly a result of the initial conditions and causal laws, since we only learn about the world through our experiences. What would explain the all-important initial conditions and causal laws? Nothing, right? They just would be whatever they were, for no reason. If they had a reason, that reason would be part of the material world, not something separate from and preceding it. In this case there would be no reason to believe that what we experienced revealed anything about the *true* underlying causal structure. It could be like a dream or The Matrix, where what is experienced is completely different than the cause of the experience. Even if what we experienced did reflect the true underlying nature of what caused the experience...what would the significance of this be, really? The future is set, all we do is wait for it to be revealed to our experience. An indeterministic physical world is no more helpful. Here, we would seem to have a range of scenarios. At one end is pure indeterminism...where there is absolutely no connection between one instant and the next. Things just happen, randomly, for no reason. No events are causally connected in any way. If transitions between particular arrangements of matter is what gives rise to conscious experience, then given enough random events every possible experience would eventually seem to be generated. However, if any of these experiences revealed anything about the true nature of reality, this would be purely coincidental. At the other end of the range is a nearly deterministic system where only on very rare occasions or in specific circumstances would the orderly sequence of cause and effect give way to some sort of tightly constrained but completely unpredictable indeterministic state change...which would then alter in an orderly way the subsequent deterministic behavior of the physical world as the consequences of this random event spread out in a ripple of cause-and-effect. So our experiences would be completely "determined" by the initial state of the world, plus the causal laws with their tolerance for occasional randomness, PLUS the history of actual random state changes. This doesn't seem to provide any improvement over the purely deterministic option. Each "random" occurrence is just another brute fact, like the initial state or the particular causal laws that govern the evolution of the system (allowing for occasional random events). The random occurrences don't add anything, and actually could be just taken as "special cases" of the causal laws. > This, ISTM, is a paradoxical, or at the very least an extremely > puzzling, state of affairs, and it was to promote discussion of these > specific problems that I started the thread. Is it a paradox, or a reductio ad absurdum against the idea that our perceptions are caused by an independently existing external reality? What does introducing an independently existing physical world buy us? So we have our orderly conscious experiences and we want to explain them. To do this, we need some context to place these experiences in. So we postulate the existence of an orderly external universe that “causes” our experiences. But then we have to explain what caused this orderly external universe, and also the particular initial conditions and causal laws that result in what we observe. So this is basically Kant's first antinomy of pure reason. Either there is a first cause, which itself is uncaused, OR there is an infinite chain of prior causes stretching infinitely far into the past. But why this particular infinite chain as opposed to some other? In fact, why our particular "infinite chain of prior causes" or "first cause" instead of Nothing existing at all? It seems that either way (infinite chain or first cause), at the end you are left with only one reasonable conclusion: There is no reason that things are this way. They just are. BUT...we could have just said that about our conscious experiences to start with and saved ourselves the trouble of postulating a whole multiverse. > Whether one starts from > the assumption of primacy of 1-p or 3-p (or neither) the principal > difficulty is making any sense of their relation - i.e. the Hard > Problem - and ISTM not only that it is Hard to solve, but even to > state in a way that doesn't mask its truly paradoxical nature. It seems to me that there are two easy ways to get rid of the hard problem. 1) Get rid of 1-p. (A la Dennettian eliminative materialism) OR 2) Get rid of 3-p. (subjective idealism) For the reasons I've touched on above I don't see that introducing the idea of a material world explains anything at all. Therefore, I vote for getting rid of 3-p, except as a calculational device. The idea of a material world that exists fundamentally and uncaused while giving rise to conscious experience is no more coherent than the idea that conscious experience exists fundamentally and uncaused and gives rise to the mere perception of a material world (as everyone accepts happens in dreams). What is the problem with this solution? -- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to everything-l...@googlegroups.com. To unsubscribe from this group, send email to everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. 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