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

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.


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