On 6/26/2011 12:58 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
On Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 1:05 PM, Bruno Marchal<marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
On 24 Jun 2011, at 17:49, Rex Allen wrote:
Awareness and self-awareness aren't related to the question of
consciousness. They fall well within the realm of the easy problems.
I have deduced this from some posts. You, and Dennett are begging the
I don't follow you. To which question are you referring?
Why should science be based only on observation? What would that
It means that the primary goal of science is to allow the prediction
of future observations in as convenient and useful a way as possible.
If science didn't do this, there would be no point in messing with it.
The core requirement for a scientific theory is that it must be
consistent with what we have observed in the past, what we currently
observe in the present, and what we will observe in the future.
Thus, science is based on observation.
However - coming up with stories that are consistent with observation
but which aren't useful for prediction isn't science, though it might
count as entertainment or religion.
Science, and already observation itself, are based on many layers of
theories, some innate in our brain, some developed through symbolic
reasoning, reflexion and imagination. The computationalist theory
illustrates well that we *can* explain the third person description of the
first person discourses. So we can make progress.
That computational theory allows us to build third person models of
first person discourses is neither here nor there with respect to it's
To abandon the scientific study of consciousness is like to abandon the
notion of God to the authorities. As I said: it is a form of "shut up and
calculate". Instrumentalism is about like abandoning the fundamental
questions to the engineering science. Many engineers do understand that it
will lead in less genuine engineering in the long run, so that eventually,
even instrumentalists with long term goal can defend a non-instrumentalist
philosophy here and now.
That less engineering would result is an interesting supposition, but
I doubt that it's true.
This is identical to Christians saying that we need the idea of heaven
and hell in order to keep people in line.
"We need to believe that our theories are approaching some
metaphysically truth, otherwise people will stop trying to improve
Possible, but unlikely. The practical benefits of more accurate and
useful theories should be more than sufficient to keep people
The idea that our theories are approaching some metaphysical truth is
essentially just the same as assuming there is some more comprehensive
and coherent theory. I note that Hawking and Mlodinow recently
suggested that we might accept a kind of patch-work set of theories of
the world, rather than insisting on a single coherent theory.
And then, if we assume like Dennett the comp hypothesis, we have just no
choice than to recover the physical relations by the number relations
(unless there is a flaw ...). Even an instrumentalist cannot ignore that.
Comp, among other possible everything-like idea, leads to a real concrete
and terribly complex mathematical measure problem.
Consciousness is not like life. We can say that molecular biology has solved
the conceptual problem of life, and this has evacuate vitalism. But comp,
per se, does not solve the consciousness problem: it transforms it into a
conceptual matter problem, which can be solved only by evacuating
materialism, by reducing the origin of matter to a machine psychological
You're assuming that there is some explanation for consciousness which
exists beyond consciousness. But this isn't warranted.
Conscious experience is a fact. That I can extrapolate from past
observations to predict future observations using calculational
frameworks is a fact.
But there are no further facts beyond this, and none are needed.
What's real is the world of experience. Everything else is (sometimes
Maybe, but that's not a fact. Many times there are "experiences" that
are illusions, dreams, hallucinations, misapprehensions. Of course you
can say, "Well I had an experience of seeing a leprechaun." But then
becomes hard to give this any meaning. If we take experience as
fundamental then it seems to imply that "seeing a leprechaun" is a real
event even though leprechauns aren't. That's why we find it easier to
work with a model of the world that we take to be provisionally "real".
We can never be sure it's real (and in general it may incoherent
patches), but on the other hand we can't be sure any particular part of
it is not real.
The reduction of the mind-body problem into the arithmetical bodies
appearance problem *has* been done.
The fact that minds and bodies can be represented arithmetically
doesn't mean that they *are* arithmetic in nature.
The fact that minds and bodies can be so represented just tells us
about the representational power of arithmetic...which is to say, the
representational power of the human mind, which is what arithmetic
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