On Sat, Aug 28, 2010 at 12:00 PM, Stephen P. King <stephe...@charter.net> wrote:
>
>             Excellent topic and comments! Naturalism does seem to be a
> natural condition of humans given their predilection for supernatural or
> supranatural explanations of events that have no simplistic explanations,
> i.e. in terms of their common every day experiences which are limited by
> their socioeconomic conditions. I am not sure what Idealist Accidentalism
> would entail… Could you elaborate on this, Rex?

By "idealist" I'm referring to metaphysical idealism...that what
fundamentally exists is mental, not physical.  And by mental I mean
either consciousness or existing only as an aspect of consciousness.
For example, there is my conscious experience of a dream, and then
there are the things that appear in my dreams that I am conscious
of...houses and chairs and trees and people.  Both categories of
things are mental.  The trees that appear in my dreams only exist as
an aspect of the dream.

And by "accidentalism" I mean the theory that nothing that exists or
occurs is caused.  There is nothing that connects or controls the flow
of events.  The only rule is that there are no rules to appeal to.

So "idealist accidentalism"...the view that what exists is mental, and
that there is no underlying process that explains or governs this
existence.

Explaining the order of our experience by positing the existence of
orderly underlying processes (as with reductive physicalism, for
example) is just begging the question...because then what explains the
order of those underlying processes?

The total amount of mystery was conserved.  We just transferred the
mystery to a new location - from our conscious experience to a
hypothetical underlying process.  We are unwilling to accept that our
experiences "just are" orderly, so instead we appeal to an underlying
process which "just is" orderly.  "Ordo Ex Machina".

Not only that, but this reductionist approach raises the question of
why we would be so lucky as to have our conscious experiences
generated by underlying processes that "cause" us to have correct
knowledge of those very processes.

We can only know what the underlying process causes us to know.  Thus,
the tendency to believe true things can't be a special feature of
humans.  Rather, it would be a special feature of the process that
underlies human experience.

But, again, this is a problem with any rule-based explanation of
reality, not just with reductive physicalism.

But the only alternative to a rule-based explanation of reality is
accidentalism, isn't it?


> Could I propose a hypothesis about rules and causality? I will try to keep
> my explanation here simplistic to save time and space so please take that
> into account as you read this. First, if we are going to eliminate all
> traces of supranaturalism from our considerations, does it not behoove us to
> be sure that we are bringing the Observer at Infinity in some other guise?
> This notion of "rules" concerns me because it seems to imply that either
> some entity established them ab initio or else their existence is simply the
> result of some selective mechanism.

But then what is the selective mechanism a result of?


> Naturalism would involve making sure
> that it is not the former case. I think that the work of thinkers like
> Russell Standish and Nick Bostrom are making great strides to help us
> understand this later possibility. It could very well be that these "rules"
> are simply patterns of commonality that emerge between a large number of
> interacting systems,

Emerge by what rule?  Or do they emerge randomly?  If so, that takes
us back to accidentalism, doesn't it?

Also, a large number of interacting systems is just "a system", isn't
it?  At the very least a system of interacting systems.  Where the
boundaries are drawn is all in how you look at...I would think.

With the right mapping you can find any pattern anywhere, can't you?
What privileges one interpretational mapping over another?


> What Pratt proposes is a more subtle version of this that assumes a
> duality relationship between information and matter. Explained here
> http://chu.stanford.edu/guide.html#ratmech , this duality involves a
> transition rule that move us a bit toward making sense of the kinds of great
> questions that Rex points out below.

Maybe it is that way...but if so, I wonder why?  Why is it that way
instead of some other way?

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