Very well said! Let me add a quote from Carlo Rovelli (in the context of discussions of the notion of observation in QM) found in "Quo Vadis Quantum Mechanics?" (ed. Elitzur, Dolev and Kolenda): "My main suggestion is to forbid ourselves to use the point of view of God. Do not compare two different observers, unless you are, for instance, a third observer who interacts with the two. In order to make this comparison you have a quantum mechanical interaction. So, very simply, the answer is like that of special relativity: I am telling you that, with respect to this observer, this comes first and this comes second. Intuitively one might think that this cannot be. But really there is no contradiction." It seems to me that the assumption of the *observer at infinity* in modern physics (and its intersections with mathematics and philosophy) and/or the ansatz of "context-free" and/or "coordinate-free" plays essentially the same role as God did in classical era thought. I claim that it is the failure to critically examine the logical consequences of this tacit assumption or postulate that is a source of problems and paradox in our attempts to move understanding of our Universe forward. Like it or not, there is a reality to *what it is like to be an observer* in our world and any denial of its reality, however illusory or epiphenomenal that might be, does not help our understanding. Failure to confront the Hard Problem with eliminatist propositions is thus argued to be at best intellectual timidity. http://www.drfrenzo.com/2007/09/intellectual-timidity.html Kindest regards, Stephen -----Original Message----- From: email@example.com [mailto:everything-l...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of David Nyman Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2010 12:38 PM To: Everything List Subject: What's wrong with this? I've been waking up with a persistent thought again, prompted this time by the way many mainstream philosophers of mind seem to unconsciously adopt a particularly insidious form of direct realism, whilst being quite blind to it. It centers on the idea of extreme physical reductionism, which I take to be the hypothesis that all composite phenomena can be completely recast, in principle, in the form of a causally complete and closed "ground level" account of non- composite micro-physical events. I'm not concerned at this point whether such a restrictive view is "true", or whether it is at odds with digital mechanism etc., but only that I take it to be a core assumption from which numerous people, including many philosophers, derive theories of the mental. I want to argue that the consequences of such a view are perhaps more radically restrictive than commonly assumed. If we could remove ourselves from the universe and take a strict reductionist-god's eye view (which means having to drop all our usual mental categories - a very hard thing to achieve imaginatively) then, strictly adhering to the above hypothesis, all that would remain would be some ground-level physical machine grinding along, without the need for additional composite or macroscopic posits. Take your pick from current theory what is supposed to represent this "machine", but that needn't necessarily be at issue for the purpose of the argument. The point is that removing everything composite from the picture supposedly results in zero difference at the base level - same events, same "causality". I should stress, again, I'm not personally committed to this view - it seems indeed highly problematic - but it is what the recipe says. Now, just to emphasize the point, when I say it's a hard thing to do this imaginatively, I mean that it isn't permissible to "look back" from this reductionist-god's eye view and continue to conjure familiar composite entities from the conjectural base components, because reductionism is a commitment to the proposition that these don't exist. Whatever composite categories we might be tempted to have recourse to - you know: molecules, cells, bodies, planets, ideas, explanations, theories, the whole ball of wax - none of these are available from this perspective. Don't need them. More rigorously, they *must not be invoked* because they *do not exist*. They don't need to exist, because the machine doesn't need them to carry all the load and do all the work. Now, many people might be prompted to object at this point "that's not reducing, that's eliminating" as though these terms could be kept distinct. But I'm arguing that reductionism, consistently applied, is inescapably eliminative. The hypothesis was that base-level events are self-sufficient and consequently must be granted metaphysical (and hence "physical") reality. Nothing else is required to explain why the machine exists and works, so nothing else need - or indeed can non- question-beggingly - be postulated. If we really feel we must insist that there is something metaphysically indispensable above and beyond this (and it would seem that we have good reason to) we must look for an additional metaphysical somewhere to locate these somethings. Essentially we now have two options. We can follow Kant in locating them in a metaphysically real synthetic first-person category that transcends the ground-level (which stands here, approximately, for the "thing-in-itself"). The alternative - and this is the option that many philosophers seem to adopt by some "directly real" sleight-of- intuition - is that we somehow locate them "out there" right on top of the micro-physical account. It's easy to do: just look damn you, there they are, can't you see them? And in any case, one wants to protest, how can one predict, explain or comprehend anything above the ground floor *without* such categories? Yes, that is indeed the very question. But the reductionist-god's eye view (if we've done it right) should convince us - weirdly, but unavoidably - that they just aren't automatically "out there", metaphysically, at our disposal. If this eludes us, it can only be because we've fallen into the error of retaining these indispensable organising categories intact, naturally but illicitly, whilst attempting this imaginative feat. Unfortunately this is to beg the very questions we seek to answer. I suppose the nub of this for me is that - whether we consider ourselves monist or dualist, or amongst the ontological uncommitted - we have need of both analytic and integrative principles to account for the states of affairs that confront us. There is, as it were, a spectrum that extends from maximal fragmentation to maximal integration, and neither extreme by itself suffices. The only mystery is why anyone would ever think it would. Or am I just missing something obvious as usual? David -- 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 everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en.