On Sat, Nov 27, 2010 at 5:02 PM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> On 11/27/2010 1:06 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 27, 2010 at 12:49 PM, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Even if you have used some physical system (like a computer) that can
>>> be interpreted as executing an algorithm that manipulates bits that
>>> can be interpreted as representing me reacting to seeing a pink
>>> elephant ("Boy does he look surprised!"), this interpretation all
>>> happens within your conscious experience and has nothing to do with my
>>> conscious experience.
>> Isn't this just idealism?
> If it were consistent it would be solipism.

By inconsistency I assume that you are referring to my use of "you"
and "your" while claiming that, ultimately, Jason's conscious
experience has nothing to do with my conscious experience?

If there are no causal connections between our experiences then...why
am I addressing him in my emails as though there were?

There are three answers to this question:

1)  To be consistent, I have to conclude that ultimately there is no
reason for this.  It's just the way things are.  That I do this is
just a fact, and not causally connected to any other facts.

2)  The related fact that, lacking free will, I have no real choice
but to do this.

3)  My "experienced" justification is that these emails are mostly an
opportunity to articulate, clarify, and develop my own thoughts on
these topics.  I take an instrumentalist view of the process...it
doesn't matter what Jason's metaphysical status is.

As to solipsism, meh.  In what sense do you mean?

Methodological solipsism, yes.  Metaphysical solipsism, no.

1.  My mental states are the only things I have access to.  Yes.

2.  From my mental states I cannot conclude the existence of anything
outside of my mental states.  Yes.

3.  Therefore I conclude that only my mental states exist.  No.

So, I only score two out three on the metaphysical solipsism checklist.

Why do I reject #3?  This comes back to taking a deflationary view of
"personage".  It isn't "mental states belonging to Rex" so much as
"mental states whose contents include a Rex-like-point-of-view".

I have recollections of mental states which did not include a Rex-like
point of view (Salvia!).  Based on those recollections I find it
entirely plausible (though not certain) that non-Rex-flavored mental
states exist.

But beyond that I can't say anything further about what kinds of
mental states do or don't exist.  Maybe Jason's mental states exist,
maybe they don't.  It's not really important.

> It's when your conscious
> experience infers that you are communicating with another conscious
> experience that the need for an explanation of the similarity of the
> experiences is needed.  Objective = intersubjective agreement.

And I would say that trying to explain intersubjective experience is
getting a little ahead of things until one has a plausible explanation
of subjective experience.

What can you reliably infer from your conscious experience without
knowing what conscious experience "is"?  It's building a foundation on
top of something which has no foundation.

>From conscious experience, I'd think that you can only reliably infer
things about conscious experience, not about what exists outside of or
behind conscious experience.

As Hans Moravec says:

"A simulated world hosting a simulated person can be a closed
self-contained entity. It might exist as a program on a computer
processing data quietly in some dark corner, giving no external hint
of the joys and pains, successes and frustrations of the person
inside. Inside the simulation events unfold according to the strict
logic of the program, which defines the 'laws of physics' of the
simulation. The inhabitant might, by patient experimentation and
inference, deduce some representation of the simulation laws, but not
the nature or even existence of the simulating computer. The
simulation's internal relationships would be the same if the program
were running correctly on any of an endless variety of possible
computers, slowly, quickly, intermittently, or even backwards and
forwards in time, with the data stored as charges on chips, marks on a
tape, or pulses in a delay line, with the simulation's numbers
represented in binary, decimal, or Roman numerals, compactly or spread
widely across the machine. There is no limit, in principle, on how
indirect the relationship between simulation and simulated can be."

Without a limit on how indirect the relationship can be, then there's
no conclusions that can be drawn.

And, as always, if the simulation of conscious experience can "just
exist", then why can't conscious experience itself just exist?


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