On Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 11:02 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote: > On 25 February 2010 14:46, Charles <charlesrobertgood...@gmail.com> wrote: > >> However, I agree that the statement "evolution has programmed us to >> think of ourselves as a single individual", etc is rather contentious >> as an explanation of why we think this way. It seems to imply that >> there are many other ways we *could* think of ourselves, and that >> evolution has been at work on our genes to choose those of us who >> think of ourselves this way because it confers some survival / >> reproductive advantage. However, it's possible that there are no other >> choices: we "move forward in time," for example, because the entropy >> gradient won't allow any other form of creatures to exist, we think of >> ourselves as individuals because, fictional ant colonies aside, that's >> the only realistic (or simple) way to build conscious creatures >> (actually, it's quite possible we aren't individuals - we seem to >> contain at least two "individuals" who share a lot of their resources, >> as split-brain operations show). > > We could, for example, have the belief that we only survive for a day, > and the entity who wakes up in our bed tomorrow is a different person. > We would then use up our resources and plan for the future as if we > only had hours to live. But people who acted as if they believed this > would not be very successful.
Could we actually? I can imagine such a thing, but is it really possible? So, for arguments sake, let's just assume that deterministic physicalism holds for our universe. In that case, are there *any* initial conditions for our universe which would lead to the existence of someone similar to me who holds the belief that he only survives for today and that the entity who wakes up in his bed tomorrow will be a different person? Could our universe *actually* produce such a being by applying our presumably deterministic laws to any set of initial conditions over any amount of time? Let's go further and assume quantum indeterminism. With this extra wiggle room, is there any set of initial conditions plus subsequent random events (constrained by the framework of QM) that would lead to the existence of a person with such beliefs? Whether it's possible or not has nothing to do with evolution. It is entirely a question of the fundamental laws of physics as applied to initial conditions. So, since evolution can't answer this question, what good is it? Okay. Let's say I have some light blue butterflies, and I want to breed a strain of dark blue butterflies. One might think that the theory of evolution would predict that the best way to go about this would be to repeat the process of selecting the darkest colored butterflies and interbreeding them over several generations. BUT...if we are physicalists, we have to put this into context within the "big picture". What explains me knowing about Darwin, having light blue butterflies, wanting dark blue butterflies, and actually going through the process of selecting for the darker color over many generations? The initial conditions of the universe, plus the causal laws of physics as applied over 13.7 billion years. That's what. Whether I actually succeed in breeding dark blue butterflies is also entirely dependent on the initial conditions and causal laws. Given those, maybe it's just not possible to get from light blue to dark blue butterflies using nothing but selective breeding. So again, evolution does no work, and explains nothing. If you think it's a useful concept, that's entirely because of the initial conditions of the universe plus the causal laws of physics as applied over 13.7 billion years. And (still assuming physicalism) what explains initial conditions plus causal laws? Ultimately, nothing. They just are what they are what they are. And so the world just is what it is. Right? -- 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. For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en.