On Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 11:02 PM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>>> On 1/27/2011 8:34 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
>>>> I would have thought that dreams would be a pretty clear
>>>> counter-example to the claim that consciousness requires a world to
>>>> interact with...?
>>> Do you think you could have dreams if you had never interacted with the
>>> world?
>> Yes.  Why wouldn't I be able to?
>> I assume your point is, "Where would the contents of your dreams come
>> from?"
>> Well, where do the contents of the "external world" come from?
> Why do they have to "come from" somewhere?

They can just exist.  But in that case, conscious experience could
also just exist.

I don't see that adding the extra metaphysical layer beneath
consciousness does any good.  Especially since this "brutely existing,
fundamental and uncaused" layer completely determines our conscious
experience (no free will).

So you haven't gained anything at all by that move.  Our conscious
experiences still "just exist"...but you are adding the additional
claim that they do so on top of an inferred scaffolding of matter and
causal laws.

It's basically the same proposition.  Your version just gratuitously
introduces a substructure - an unexplained foundation to explain

Taking an instrumentalist view of science makes such a leap of faith
unnecessary, doesn't it?

>> You haven't answered any questions by introducing the "external
>> world"...every question you can ask about a dream is still a valid
>> question for the "external world".
> Sure I have.  It explains why this interchange is different from a dream.

Sometimes a useful way of looking at things, but that doesn't make it
true.  Let's just say it has instrumental value.

But it raises as many questions as it answers, perhaps even more - so
I reject it as a metaphysical explanation.

If you have instrumentalism, why fall for the first metaphysical
explaination that comes your way?  Don't be so easy.  Play the field a

>> Isn't it?  What am I missing, do you think?  What has been
>> accomplished by introducing the extra metaphysical layer of the
>> "external world"?
> You're missing the intellectual honesty to admit that live your life as if
> there is an external world with different people in it and that you are as
> certain of the existence of this world as you are of anything (which is not
> to say perfectly certain).

How would you expect me to act if I truly believed that consciousness
is fundamental and uncaused?

My position is similar to that of not believing in free will, I think.
 Once you accept that your beliefs, experiences, and choices are
either strictly or probabilistically determined by history and causal
laws  (or are altogether uncaused) then you've already gotten past 90%
of the "hard to accept" stuff.

Or do you question my intellectual honesty with respect to free will
also?  Determinism is a much more common belief than idealism,
obviously, so I have more company on this point.

I do go to work, obey traffic laws, and pay my taxes.  Why do I do these things?

If my choices have causes, then the choices were determined by the
causes.  If the causes are due to the "brutely existing" scaffolding
of the universe discussed above - which itself is uncaused - then
ultimately there is no reason I do those things.  It's just my fate.

If there is no scaffolding that underlies and causes my experiences,
then ultimately there *still* is no reason that I do those things.
It's still just my fate.

All paths lead to pretty similar conclusions.  It's just that your
proposed path takes a lot of unnecessary metaphysical detours along
the way.

>>> On Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 7:58 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com>
>>>>  wrote:
>>>> On 1/27/2011 8:34 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
>>>> But then the material world we observe doesn't cause our
>>>> consciousness.  Rather, the underlying emulation substrate (which we
>>>> have no access to) causes both the material world and consciousness.
>>> That's possible, or it may be that the emulatated matter causes the
>>> emulated
>>> consciousness; in which case we have the same questions about
>>> consciousness
>>> we had before assuming the world is an emulation.
>> But isn't "emulated matter" just patterns in the substrate?  So by
>> saying "emulated matter causes consciousness", aren't you effectively
>> saying that patterns cause consciousness?
> I'm saying that emulated patterns in a particular substrate my cause
> consciousness to be an attribute of other patterns in that substrate.
>  "Seeing patterns" is then a relation between processes in that substrate.

But what is the ontological nature of this relation?

It sounds somewhat like emergence.  Jerry Fodor:


"Maybe the hard problem shows that not all basic laws are laws of
physics. Maybe it shows that some of them are laws of emergence. If
that's so, then it's not true after all that if Y emerges from X there
must be something about X in virtue of which Y emerges from it.
Rather, in some cases, there wouldn't be any way of accounting for
what emerges from what. Consciousness might emerge from matter because
matter is the sort of stuff from which consciousness emerges. Full

It would then have turned out that the hard problem is literally
intractable, and that would be pretty shocking."


But if Y can emerge from X, why can't Y emerge from nothing at all?


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to