Hi Craig, 

Thank you for your very well considered point of view on my original post. 
I have some interjections that I would enjoy hearing a response to:

On Sunday, January 27, 2013 9:37:03 PM UTC-5, Craig Weinberg wrote:
> On Sunday, January 27, 2013 5:35:22 PM UTC-5, freqflyer07281972 wrote:
>> Hey everyone,
>> I've been following this group a lot. I read it everyday and enjoy all of 
>> the wonderful stuff that comes up, even if some of it tends towards ad 
>> hominem, argument from authority, and petitio principi. Hey, we're humans, 
>> right? That means we get to make these fallacies, in good conscience or 
>> bad. 
>> Anyway, I wondered about what anyone/everyone thought about the notion of 
>> 'chosenness' as a way to understand where we are here in the world. It 
>> seems to me that concepts like MWI, Bruno's comp/mech hypothesis and the 
>> 'dreams of numbers' ideas of subjectivity, and even Leibniz's 'best of all 
>> possible worlds' don't actually do something like flee away from our 
>> everyday responsibility to accept the basic fact that we have been CHOSEN 
>> -- and when I say this, please don't immediately put a bunch of theological 
>> baggage on it. I'm not saying God chose this reality as opposed to another, 
>> although this might be a convenient shorthand. But what I am saying is 
>> that, out of all the staggering possibilities that we know exist with 
>> regards to our universe, our galaxy, our solar system, our planet, our 
>> society, and even our individual selves, things could have very easily 
>> turned out to be different than they were. The fact that they have turned 
>> out in just this way and not another indicates this kind of chosenness, and 
>> along with it, comes a certain degree of responsibility, I guess? 
>> It seems to me that all the various 'everything' hypotheses (MWI, comp, 
>> Leibniz, and others) try to apply the Copernican principle to its breaking 
>> point. True enough, there is from a purely 3p point of view nothing special 
>> about our cosmic situation re: our planet and our sun. BUT, from an 
>> existential 1p point of view there is a huge privilege that we have, i.e. 
>> we are sentient observers, who love, feel pain, feel desire, and long for 
>> transcendence. 
>> Moreover, the 3p point of view is a pure abstraction, kind of like eating 
>> the picture of a meal rather than the actual meal. How do we know what any 
>> kind of 3p account of truth would be? What would it even look like? A 
>> universe with no observers. A falling tree without a hearer/listener. This, 
>> to me, is nonsense. 
>> Aren't things like MWI of quantum physics and comp hypothesis of 
>> universal dovetailer trying to, at a fundamental and existential level, an 
>> attempt to try to run away from the concreteness and absolute 'givenness' 
>> (gift) of the world as we find it? And isn't our role, in creation, as 
>> freely choosing beings (sorry, John Clark, free will is more than just a 
>> noise) to choose what will make other people with us now and in the future 
>> feel more love and less pain? And isn't this why we were chosen? 
>> I'll go back to lurking now, but I'd appreciate any thoughts you might 
>> have on this reflection of mine. 
>> Cheers,
>> Dan
> What I propose is that a complete description of the universe must include:
> 1. The experience of significance.
> This speaks to the idea of chosen-ness, of choice, of free will, of 
> improbability as a quality as the subject of appreciation. 
There is a difference between choosing and being chosen. The former takes 
place on the level of the agent -- it is where 'free will' is exercised. 
The latter has no free will associated with it -- if you are chosen to go 
to war by your government, then you go, regardless of what you personally 
want (barring conscientious objection, but you get my meaning, I hope). Our 
free will, internally, may have many features of improbability and 
uncertainty, but the fact that we were 'chosen' (i.e. came into this world 
without any kind of vote or say or decision on our own parts) is a 
different matter.  

> 2. The experience of the significance of the idea of insignificance.
> I word "the significance of the idea of insignificance" in this convoluted 
> way to reflect the natural sequence in which the revelation of objectivity 
> has occurred across all human societies. Since as far as I know:
>    a.  *all* cultures begin their history steeped in animistic shamanism, 
> divination, creation myths and charismatic deities and 
>    b.  *no* cultures develop eliminative materialism, mathematics, and 
> mechanism earlier than philosophy or religion, and
>    c.   *all* individuals experience the development of their own psyche 
> through imaginative, emotional, and irrational or superstitious thought
>    d.   *no* individuals are born with a worldview based only on generic 
> facts and objectivity. Healthy children do not experience their lives in an 
> indifferent and detached mode of observation but rather grow into 
> analytical modes of thought through experience of the public world.

I really like what you said here. I had honestly never thought of things in 
these terms, and I thank you for that insight. That being said, however, is 
it merely enough to point out that this is the natural sequence of things 
and then attach some greater significance to it? Or could we say indeed 
that the cultures that DO in fact develop eliminative materialism, 
mathematics, etc. and the adults that DO in fact see the world through the 
perspective of generic facts and objectivity succeed more because their 
view is closer to the truth? (and I'm not challenging anything here that 
you've said, just exploring the premises).  

> We are so convinced by the sophisticated realism of objective 
> insignificance that we tend to project it into a default position, when in 
> fact, it does not occur naturally that way. It is we who choose 
> subjectively whether or not to project objectivity beneath our own ability 
> to choose it.

OK. But just because it doesn't occur naturally that way doesn't mean that 
our sophisticated realism of objective insignificance is no closer to the 
truth. Indeed, I would argue the opposite -- it is precisely because the 
view of objective insignificance, as you put it, is so hard won and leads 
to so many practical successes in achieving what 'we' want (as a species, 
at least, even though social justice is still something we have yet to 
master and seems a long way off) that it would seem the 'more correct' of 
the two. Taking your viewpoint seems to lead to a kind of nebulous 
relativism, although I admittedly might have either misread you or else 
overlooked something. 

> The fact is, that were it that simple; were objectivity be the final word, 
> then we should have had no reason to be separated from it in the first 
> place. The whole notion of illusion depends on the non-illusory capacity of 
> our own reason to deduce and discern illusion from reality, so that to 
> question our own ability to freely choose, to some extent, how we reason, 
> gives us no possibility of ever contacting any truth to deny.

Again, not sure if I'm misreading you (or vice versa), but my idea of 
'being chosen' is in the sense of a third-person point of view -- we choose 
things, true enough, but there was already a reality given that formed the 
context in which we could make such choices. It is this reality that we 
have no say over, much like we have no say over the mass of the proton. 
Further, I would submit that, of the two notions (subjective, 1p, sensory, 
qualitative vs. objective, 3p, mental/mathematical, quantitative), the 
latter are 'ultimately' more real than the former, although I would be hard 
pressed to try to qualify what I mean by 'ultimately' in this case other 
than referring once again to some kind of 'brute fact' structure of reality 
in which our lives are purely inconsequential and arise merely as an 
epiphenomenal byproduct of 'the way things are.'  

> Looking at 1. and 2. more scientifically, I would link significance with 
> teleology (choice) and insignificance with teleonomy (chance). I have 
> proposed that while these two opposite potentials seem mutually exclusive 
> to us from our subjective experience, that from an absolute perspective, 
> they are in adjacent ranges of the same continuum. I suggest that the 
> subjective experience of sensation, and nested layers of meta-sensation 
> constitute significance, and that this significance is what allows the 
> possibility of choice based on personal preference. It is the choice 
> capacity itself which divides the sense of the world for the chooser 
> between the chosen and the unchosen. This ontological fracture is what 
> gives the impression that there is a difference between chance and choice 
> and creates the possibility of feedback loops in which we can both question 

I guess my question here would be: in an 'absolute perspective,' what 
possible role could choice (in the first person perspective) have without 
doing violence to the very notion of absoluteness?  Our chosenness, 
objectively, is on the other hand, an absolute fact, because we can 
contemplate the cosmological alternatives and yet nevertheless conclude 
that we are here to discuss the matter. 

>   a.  the reality of choice by choosing to adopt the perspective of 
> impersonal chance, as well as 
>   b.  question the reality of chance by choosing to adopt the perspective 
> of super-personal chance.
> In both cases we cannot arrive at a perspective without exercising our 
> will to choose one over the other, even for hypothetical consideration. 
> There is no ontological possibility of our abdicating our choice 
> altogether, although the position which elevates insignificance compels 
> through an appeal to do just that. This is true of contemporary forms of 
> science in general, as the outside-in bias inherently demands compulsory 
> and involuntary acceptance of facts and unambiguous inferences between them 
> rather than recognizing the self-same subjective autonomy which drives the 
> scientific consideration from beginning to end. Science relies on 
> peer-review to enforce the belief in disbelief - the faith that peer-review 
> itself is an unexplained artifact of human weakness, and that the rest of 
> the universe has no need for such deliberations, nor could it generate them 
> even if it were useful.
> In practical terms, what this means is that 
>   a.  you can choose to pursue the chosen-feeling significance of your 
> experience, but you risk increasing possibility of delusion and conflicting 
> intuitions. 
>   b.  you can choose to pursue the unchosen analytical feeling of the 
> significance of insignificance, but you risk cutting yourself off from the 
> most unbelievable experiences of personal truth and participation.
> In both cases the potential rewards are equally intense. If you open the 
> door, you open the door to Heaven and Hell. If you close the door, you can 
> be more effective as a practical agent on Earth. Sometimes the choice seems 
> to be coerced by circumstance. Sometimes we open the door in some contexts 
> more often and close it more in others. Our choices can change and evolve. 
> Sometimes it doesn't matter either way.
> The universe that we find ourselves in is chosen on the inside, chance on 
> the outside, but it is only because we are inside that we can discern the 
> difference. Without an inside, nothing can choose to recognize a difference.

I really liked your parsing of  the two approaches -- we go too subjective, 
we get into woo and 'what the bleep do we know' - we go too objective, and 
we simply become nihilists. Again, though, I think the real idea of 'being 
chosen' by whatever (nature, God, mathematical probability) is something 
forced upon us, and something we had little choice in -- who was I before 
my mother met my father? This is what I would like to ask and get an answer 
to... A probability? a half genetic code stored in one of my mother's eggs? 
Also, what will I be after I die? A bunch of atoms in a disorganized state? 
Do I simply disappear? I think we construct theories of everything to make 
sense out of chosenness, to try to universalize that which is singular. I 
enjoy the activity, I just wonder about the basic existential motivations 
for everyone here.



> Craig

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