On Mon, May 3, 2010 at 11:26 PM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> On 5/3/2010 7:14 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
> On Sat, May 1, 2010 at 9:48 PM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>
> wrote:
>>> That's assuming I believe some things are true in some absolute sense
>>> unrelated to usefulness.  I don't.
>> I am having the experience of seeing a red book.
> But do you *believe* you are seeing a red book.  You could be mistaken about
> that (in fact you've argued you're probably mistaken).  No, you only believe
> that you are having an experience that is described as "seeing a red book".
> But I will concede you may have confidence in such a belief (provided you
> know what "see", "red", and "book" mean - which requires references that are
> less than certain).  For myself I don't formulate such beliefs, although I
> suppose I could say, "I believe I am experiencing something that could be
> described as looking at a computer display."

Do you really believe that you are experiencing looking at a computer
display, OR, do you only believe that you believe that you are
experiencing looking at a computer display?


What is belief except another aspect of conscious experience?

So there are blind people with anosognosia, who deny being blind and
will invent visual experiences.  When they claim to see a red book,
what is their conscious experience?  I would guess that their
experience is not the same as mine, but who knows?  Maybe it is the

Maybe the sincere belief that you're having a visual experience *is* a
visual experience.  If so, that works for me.  Maybe that explains the
visual aspects of dreams?

Maybe belief is all that exists?  Fundamental and uncaused...

OR maybe the blind anosognosiacs don't truly believe that they are
seeing a red book, but their impaired condition forces them to behave
as though they believed they were?

OR, maybe they aren't having any experience at all.  Maybe they have
become zombies...?

I can only work with what I know about my own experiences.  But,
thanks to Salvia Divinorum, I have some idea of what it's like to both
believe really strange things, and to experience really strange

If you asked me what I was seeing on one of those Salvia outings, I
would have told you all sorts of crazy things.  The visual experience
was real, even if what I saw wasn't.

> It doesn't seem to be useful to obtain certainty by giving
> up all reference.  Is that what you are doing and that's
> why you regard your experiences as uncaused and not
> referring  - so you can have certainty?

Wellllllllll.  I am trying to fit everything that I know into a single
consistent, coherent framework.

Why?  Well...I don't know.  Too much spare time on my hands?

In general though, it seems like a reasonable way to pass the time.

>> When I say time and red are aspects of consciousness, I mean it in the
>> same way that a scientific realist means that spin is an aspect of an
>> electron.
> Red and time are mathematical attributes in a model of consciousness??  Ok,
> what's the model?

By definition, a scientific realist believes in the actual existence
of electrons and of the attribute of spin.  If he didn't, he wouldn't
be a scientific realist.  He might instead be a structural realist.

> On 5/1/2010 6:15 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
>>>> 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?
>> If he's a physicalist, why wouldn't he believe that his beliefs are
>> determined by the nature of the physical world?  What else would they
>> be determined by?
> Maybe we're using "determined" in different ways.  I use it in contrast to
> random or stochastic.

I use "deterministic" in contrast to random or stochastic.

> So if the natural world has stochastic aspects then
> one's beliefs could be undetermined and yet still "determined by the nature
> of the physical world".  For example, one of your momentary experiences
> might be due to the decay of a radioactive calcium atom in the blood stream
> of your brain.


>>> 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) -
>> Probabilistic laws are still causal laws, right?
> Depends on what you mean by causal?  I take "probabilistic" to mean not
> entirely determined by the preceding (=within the past light cone) state.

If it's not entirely determined by the preceding state, then what *is*
it determined by?

So if a physical law is deterministic then under it's influence Event
A will "cause"  Result X 100% of the time.

Why does Event A always lead to Result X?  Because that's the law.
There is no deeper reason.

If a physical law is indeterministic, then under it's influence Event
B will "cause" Result Q, R, or S according to some probability

Let's say that the probability distribution is 1/3 for each outcome.

If Event B leads to Result R, why does it do so?  Because that's the
law.  There is no deeper reason.

Event A causes Result X 100% of the time.

Event B causes Result R 33.3333% of the time.

Why?  There is no reason.  That's just the way it is.

>> Which brings me back to the point that I made in the "no miracles"
>> argument against scientific realism thread.  Which you never responded
>> to.
> You mean this?
>     "It seems to me that it would be a bit of a miracle if it turned out
> that we lived in a universe whose initial state and causal laws were such
> that they gave rise to conscious entities whose beliefs about their universe
> were true beliefs."
>     It's an argument from incredulity.  If you can make it something more
> objective I might be able to respond.

You responded to my initial post, but you didn't respond to my
response to your response.

>>> to those purposes we imagine we have.
>> We *imagine* we have?  What do you mean by that?
> Our purposes are not always conscious.

What is an unconscious purpose?  I know what conscious purpose
is...I've had that experience.  e.g.  "I did that on purpose."  I have
goals...things I want to do.  But I am conscious of all of that.
That's how I know of it.

Does a tree have unconscious purpose when it grows and puts out seed
and whatnot?

Does a falling rock have unconscious purpose?  As Aristotle thought,
"Things fall because they are trying to reach their natural place in
contact with the earth." ?

Does a flowing stream have unconscious purpose?  A weather system?

How does human "unconscious purpose" differ from a weather system's
"unconscious purpose"?

> "Emotion is Nature's way of making us do what is necessary to reproduce."
>             --- Robert Wright, in "Man, the Moral Animal"

As if we could do otherwise.  If we assume physicalism, then our
constituent particles are doing all the work.   Given the universe's
initial conditions and causal laws (which may be probabilistic), they
could behave other than they do.  In this view, the emotion we feel
would seem to be an irrelevant non-causal side-effect at best.  Maybe
even an illusion?

Do you think weather systems feel emotion, as Nature's way of making
them do...weather things?  If not, why not?  Not even the illusion of

-- Rex

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