I think my previous email address ended up on a spam list or
something, because all of my posts were blocked.
Trying a new address.
On Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 2:51 PM, Brent Meeker
>> On 7/21/2010 8:31 AM, Allen Rex wrote:
>> But, this belief isn't entailed by methodological naturalism. It's a
>> leap of faith. And my position is just that it does no good.
>> And the same goes for any metaphysical theory that claims that our
>> conscious experiences are caused by more fundamental rule-governed
>> No matter what the fundamental components and rules of the proposed
>> ontology are, there is always the question: "Why would this
>> rule-driven configuration, and no other, give rise to something like
>> my experience?"
> Cooper has one idea of an answer to this. Bruno has a different one. I
> don't think either one is fully worked out - but I see them as different
> possible ways of looking at the question.
So first, there's the relatively concrete problem of identifying and
representing the recurring patterns in what we observe, and even in
what we think.
And second, there's the more abstract question of what it means *that*
we observe and think.
The question I posed is entirely centered on this second point.
It seems to me that Cooper tries to explain what we think in terms of
what we observe. So his focus seems to almost entirely on the first
Bruno's goal seems to be to address both points, but I think his
approach is largely developed to address the first point, and then
because his preferred framework is "abstract logic" he just goes ahead
and claims victory on addressing the "abstract" second point also.
I will address this in more detail in a separate response to him!
>> The extra inferred-from-experience "behind the scenes" infrastructure
>> serves no (metaphysical) purpose because I can ask the exact same
>> questions about them as I could ask about the consciousness that they
>> supposedly explain.
>> But, if your a hardened skeptic, and a fellow instrumentalist, whose
>> mind never turns to metaphysical questions, then I suppose we really
>> have no disagreement.
> When I turn to metaphysics I conclude that physics is a human invention
> created to explain this in terms of that. The "laws of physics" are not
> active elements of reality creating this or that.
Then what does create this or that? In your opinion?
This sounds like a Kantian position: We can only know the phenomenal
world...the world of experience. There is a noumenal world which
underlies and "supports" the phenomenal world, but the fact that we
actively process information to build our own internal models of
reality means that we can never discern the "true" nature of what
To quote Lee Braver in "A Thing of This World":
"The linchpin of this synthesis was what [Kant] called his Copernican
Revolution: the epoch-making claim that the mind actively processes
or organizes experience in constructing knowledge, rather than
passively reflecting an independent reality. To speak metaphorically,
the mind is more like a factory than a mirror or soft wax."
Continuing later on the subject of true beliefs:
"When we turn from noumena to phenomena as the possible objects of
correspondence, there are two candidates for the aspect of the object
with which our beliefs correspond - the matter or the form. The
matter would be the sensible manifold which comes to us from the
outside and which forms our ‘contact' with things-in-themselves.
However, this quickly becomes problematic, for how can a fully formed
judgement of experience correspond to an unformed, nonunified sensible
manifold? The comparison between a finished, processed item and its
raw materials is hard to cash out. In what sense does a window
correspond to sand, heat, and bits of wood, or a Matisse painting to a
piece of canvas and globs of colored paint? Since perception is an
active process, what comes out precisely does *not* correspond to what
went in; that's the whole point. This is basically the same problem
that confronts correspondence with noumena, which is unsurprising,
since the sensible manifold is the closest we get to noumena."
>> If, in a moment of weakness, one's thoughts do turn to metaphysics,
>> then I propose just hypostatizing the skeptical position.
>> Epistemically, the only thing we can be certain of is that our
>> experiences exist.
> Correction, the only thing "you" can be certain of is that there is
> experience now. "You" is an inference as is the passage of time.
I agree, and I'm comfortable with that position.
But really, I don't see physicalism as being any better on this point.
Once things are reduced changing patterns of matter, perhaps with a
real flow of time, perhaps not (block universe), what is an
Or, for Bruno, once things are reduced to relations between numbers,
then what is an individual? What is time?
You're making critical noises about my position, but I don't see that
any other position is any better on these issues.
> someone once wrote to Bertrand Russell, "I'm a solipist. It's a completely
> consistent philosophy. I don't know why there aren't more of us."
Everyone lives in the reality constructed by their own minds - and
this is true whether you lean towards physicalism, platonism, or my
Everyone takes the existence of other consciousnesses on faith.
Given that my experiences exist, I'm willing to believe that there are
some Brent Meeker experiences in existence somewhere too.
Besides, what would it mean to be in "communication" with another
conscious entity in a static 4-dimensional block universe? How would
that situation really be different than that of my position?
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