On 5/1/2010 6:15 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
On Sat, May 1, 2010 at 8:23 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com>  wrote:

And do you believe this sequence will persist in
producing orderly and consistent experiences?
I do believe that.  BUT...why do I believe it?  Well, ultimately,
there is no reason I believe it.  I just do.
Then why don't you believe that a physical universe is a good explanatory
model for it?  Or do you believe that and you're just playing at not
believing it?
It seems like I've explained my position on this before:

"because I don't see what
introducing the physical world as something prior to and independent
of consciousness buys us in our attempts to explain our orderly
conscious experiences. If it is intended to explain the order and
consistency of our experiences, then what explains the physical
world's order and consistency? It seems to me that we've just changed
the question, not answered it. And in the process introduced the
additional question of how consciousness arises from matter."

Kant was on the right track generally I think.  If you drop the noumena.

At least that's the description of the experience of my thought
processes on this topic.

I would expect an honest physicalist to say that he believed it
because, given the initial conditions of the universe plus the
causal laws of physics as applied over  ~13.7 billion years, it
could not be otherwise.
That's a particular model.  It's not why one "believes" the model.  Actually
an honest physicist or engineer never *believes* a model - he entertains it,
he uses it, he considers it.  He prefers one to another because it predicts
more of his experience or is more accurate in those predictions.  He only
believes it in the practical sense that if acting he will act as if it's
I'm fine with that as a practical guide to life and ramjet design.

However, surely there must be some fact of the matter as to what
exists and how things really are.  And surely you have some belief
about that.  In fact, as I recall, you said that you believe that a
physical world exists and that it is indeterministic.

You often return to this "usefulness" point...but, in these
discussions at least, I'm not really interested in engineering
principles and guidelines.

The question isn't what's useful.  The question is what's true...and
more specifically, what do you believe is true, and why.

That's assuming I believe some things are true in some absolute sense unrelated to usefulness. I don't. I don't deny that there may be such things or that it is useful to postulate (i.e. assign the value "true" for purposes of logical inference) such things. But apparently you're asking about some other kind of "believe". Maybe you can explain what you mean by "believe" and "true".

But I'm not sure where that leaves you.  You started with the Boltzmann
Brain argument that our thoughts are probably mistaken.  But that "probably"
depended on a certain model universes and how they work.  And it implied
that having thoughts is already extremely improbable.  So if you have
thoughts - and you must since you take consciousness as fundamental - then
that already implies something about the world, i.e. it is not timeless
since thoughts have duration.  So if you don't adopt solipism, if you assume
there is some world outside the flow of  your thoughts to which they refer,
then a model of that world needs to include time, both duration and
Just like there is no "red" in the world (in the sense that I
experience it), there is no "time" in the world (in the sense that I
experience it).

Time is like red.  Both only exist as aspects of experience.

But (according to you) that is the only way anything exists. So time and red exist if "exist" has any meaning at all. If it doesn't then you might as well be saying, "BarLLfe&g%" (I'm assuming that's NOT the name of a volcano in Iceland).

The world is all surface, all appearance.  Like a movie.  No depth.

How do you know that? Sounds to me like just another model - but a useless one.

I would expect an honest physicalist to say that he believed it
because, given the initial conditions of the universe plus the
causal laws of physics as applied over  ~13.7 billion years, it
could not be otherwise.

He has no *choice* except to believe it.  To not believe it would
require different initial conditions, or different causal laws.

I thought you were not believing it because there were no initial conditions
or causal laws or universe.  It's all what a physicalist would call an
illusion - i.e. a seemingly coherent series of experiences that do not refer
to anything but just are.  But then you seem to switch viewpoints and want
to use the consistency of a solipist know-nothing position to argue about
which universes might exist??
I'm not switching positions, I'm saying that the "honest physicalist"
should believe that his beliefs are determined only by the initial
conditions and causal laws of the universe.

Why would he be a determinist? And what if they were? According to the best physical models we have they are mostly determined by the recent history of the universe plus probabilistic laws (QM) - and this explains why they are "true" in the sense of useful to those purposes we imagine we have.

The two paragraphs went together.  The second was a continuation of
the first.  You treated them separately.

Of course, I also believe that I have no choice about my beliefs.  But
I don't attribute this lack of choice to initial conditions plus
causal laws.  I don't attribute it to anything.

Well then there's no point in discussing it. I hope for your sake however that your vision of where the door is continues to correlate with your tactile sensation of not bumping into the wall.


There is no process
or mechanism that gave rise to my beliefs.  They just exist as aspects
of my conscious experience.

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