On Thu, May 13, 2010 at 1:16 AM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> On 5/12/2010 9:48 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
>> I commented on Sean Carroll's position on "Cognative Instability" in
>> "The Past Hypothesis" thread. Cognative instability is only a problem
>> if you refuse to relinquish the starting assumption that an
>> independently existing physical world is the cause of our experiences.
> But you seem to stop short of the last step. Assume physicalism: this leads
> to the inference that all the evidence for physicalism and for an external
> world is unreliable and all perception and thought that seems to refer is
> unreliable and so your only reliable knowledge is that of ephemeral thoughts
> that in all probability have no meaning.
That "last step" is one of the points I try to make in my posts. BUT,
I have a further point. Which is:
Let's say we add two more supplemental "axiomatic" assumptions:
1) "The Physical World Hypothesis" - a physical world exists
independently of us and causes our experiences.
2) "The Honest Universe Hypothesis" - our experiences tell us
something true about this physical world...we're not in a "Matrix"
Now we can claim to have reliable knowledge about the physical world.
But so what? This knowledge is purely a function of the initial
conditions and physical laws of this world.
Either the initial conditions were just right to allow us this
knowledge, OR the physical laws are such that a wide variety of
initial conditions will ultimately "converge" with the result that
conscious entities have this knowledge.
Either the initial conditions were fine-tuned or the physical laws
were fine-tuned to produce reliable knowledge.
Regardless, why is this kind of "reliable knowledge" more desirable
than the reliable knowledge of ephemeral thoughts? You seem to imply
that it is "better". Why?
It seems to me that both kinds of knowledge are equally meaningless.
In either case, the only possible meaning is subjective.
A meaningless physical world, or meaningless ephemeral thoughts. Take
So...you'd rather be a material cog in a (deterministic or
probabilistic) rule-driven physical machine than an insubstantial
entity composed entirely of ephemeral thoughts. I wonder why you have
that preference? What causes you to be that way?
I don't see any significant difference in the two options.
I incline towards the later because I know that my conscious
experiences exist, and I don't see how positing an
inferred-but-unexplained physical world which somehow causes my
experiences adds anything "useful".
>> Tangentially: isn't your claim that you are only interested in theory
>> to the extent that it is "useful", essentially a skeptical position?
> That's not my only interest in theories, but it's one.
What are your other interests with respect to theories?
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
For more options, visit this group at