On Sunday, March 3, 2013 6:54:27 PM UTC-5, stathisp wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 12:27 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> I could easily think of evidence that would convince me, for example, 
> >> that the moon landing was a hoax, but no conceivable evidence would 
> >> have any bearing on the fact that everything is either determined or 
> >> random, since this is true a priori. 
> > 
> > 
> > There is no a priori truth there at all. Your view is your choice. If it 
> > were a priori true, then I could not conceive of a third option other 
> than 
> > randomness or determinism, but obviously both of those options are 
> neither 
> > necessary nor sufficient to explain intention. 
> I don't think you *can* conceive of a third option. I think you're 
> just saying you can, like saying that you can conceive of a four-sided 
> triangle. 

I don't have to conceive of a third option, my will embodies it. That's why 
you are missing the obvious. You are filtering every possibility as a 
posteriori to intellect, but you don't see that intellect itself only makes 
sense as part of this third option. It isn't the third option, it's the 
first and only option, with randomness and determinism being two halves of 
its reflection. 

> >> You haven't explained what difference it would make if random events 
> >> in my brain ARE or ARE NOT a manifestation of the mental acting on the 
> >> physical. 
> > 
> > 
> > It's not a simple matter of mental acting on physical. It is multiple 
> levels 
> > of private and public physical acting on each other. The difference is 
> that 
> > we have a realistic physics driven by experience, or we have a 
> meaningless 
> > jumble of computations that accidentally thinks that its an experience. 
> You 
> > have to ask yourself 'Am I having an experience, or is the world which I 
> > think I experience the side effect of a compression algorithm which 
> exists 
> > for no reason?' The answer to that is actually an IQ test. If you are 
> dumb 
> > enough to disavow the profound reality of your experience - if it is a 
> > higher priority for you to remain impartial on the question of your own 
> > existence, then you deserve to live in a world in which you have no free 
> > will and are a computer program. 
> I don't doubt that I have experiences and that I exist, I doubt your 
> claim that this is incompatible with mechanism. 

I don't think that mechanism is incompatible with exclusive awareness, but 
awareness is incompatible with exclusive mechanism. You are welcome to 
doubt, but can you say that this doubt is based on anything more 
substantial than a desire to find a way of making awareness fit into your 
understanding of nature as mechanism?

> >> It seems to me that I would feel exactly the same in both 
> >> cases and someone examining my brain would observe exactly the same 
> >> things in both cases. Do you disagree? 
> > 
> > 
> > Yes. This has nothing to do with what someone would see looking at your 
> > brain. Consciousness isn't visible in the brain, so by that criteria, 
> its 
> > not just free will that doesn't exist, it's color, sound, feeling, 
> flavor, 
> > beauty, thinking, science, etc. What matters is how to justify the 
> feeling 
> > that we clearly and obviously have free will. We distinguish between 
> > voluntary and involuntary muscles quite easily. Some processes of our 
> body, 
> > like breathing or blinking, we share with reflex. What could this mean 
> in a 
> > world of determinism? Why would I feel that I can blink intentionally 
> but 
> > also unintentionally? 
> The voluntary actions are those where cognition plays a part

Voluntary action is more primitive than cognition. Thinking, paying 
attention, making decisions, etc require first that there is a capacity for 
participation. Cognition is a range of activities which we can participate 
in, some voluntary (like speaking or writing), some involuntary (like 
worrying), and some a combination (like deciding what position to take in a 

> and the 
> involuntary actions are those where it doesn't. 

I hope you see why that isn't true. Much of our cognition is not entirely 
voluntary, and not all of our voluntary participation is strictly 
cognitive. The great basketball player might not have any cognitive 
awareness of their moves on the court, but that doesn't mean that they 
cannot control them precisely and voluntarily. 

> This says nothing 
> about whether cognition is based on deterministic processes or not. 
> From mere introspection, I haven't any clue that I even have a brain, 
> let alone whether it is deterministic or not. 

It's only through the senses of your body that you have a belief that you 
have a brain. That you choose to take one set of experiences as indicating 
truth and another as 'mere' introspection is itself mere introspection.

> >> "Intentional", as far as I can understand its use in philosophy, is 
> >> more or less equivalent to "mental" or "conscious". 
> > 
> > 
> > No. You can be conscious of an unintentional act. A spasm for example. 
> > Intention is explicit, primitive, and obvious to the subject. 
> Perhaps that is what "intentional" should mean, but the Stanford 
> Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it differently. This is why we have 
> to be clear about what we mean by the terms we are using. Operational 
> definitions are usually easier. 
> http://www.science.uva.nl/~seop/entries/intentionality/ 

Yes, these kinds of definitions are part of the well-intentioned, but 
ultimately disorienting canon of philosophy which has framed the discussion 
incorrectly. Having arisen before our scientific insights into the various 
scales and velocities of the cosmos and the depths of human psychology, the 
philosophical assumption of 'mind' as a unitary substance of awareness is 
particularly obsolete. Using intentionality this way is an artifact of 
human exceptionalism which conflates sensory-motor participation with human 
psychology. In my view, this is the same as conflating the concept of 
matter in general with a particular brand of toaster.

> >> You seem to take 
> >> it as an a priori fact that something that is either deterministic or 
> >> random cannot have intentionality. 
> > 
> > 
> > To the contrary, I think that all appearances of determinism or 
> randomness 
> > reflect an disconnection from an intention on some scale. 
> Why is that contrary to what I said? Do you believe it is possible for 
> a deterministic or random system to have intentionality? 

Only if intention was already a possibility to begin with. If the universe 
was exclusively deterministic or random, then where would intention come 
from, and why? Beyond that, how would it ever become aware of itself, and 
if it could, how could it doubt that awareness of itself? It's about as 
likely as this conversation turning into a Big Mac.

> >> This seems to me obviously wrong. I 
> >> can easily conceive of my brain being either deterministic or random 
> >> and, at the same time, being conscious. 
> > 
> > 
> > If it was random, how would it be conscious? By accident? If it was 
> > deterministic, why would it be conscious? Why would there be a such 
> thing as 
> > "conscious" either way? Randomness can be random and determinism can be 
> > deterministic without consciousness. 
> I don't really understand your argument. If my very existence in the 
> world is an accident why couldn't my consciousness also be an 
> accident? 

If the world is made of things, then you are going to be one of those 
things whether you call it an accident or not.  Why there should be a such 
thing as consciousness though, doesn't make any sense in a world of 
exclusively accidental things. Again, it's an ontological problem - you 
can't have nonsense without sense. You can't have an accident before you 
have something which has an expectation of 'on-purpose', and you can't have 
an expectation of on-purpose in a universe where it isn't possible to 
conceive of 'on-purpose'. 

> It's a legitimate question to ask why consciousness should exist at 
> all, since evolution would have done just as well with zombies.

That's the key point. 

> The 
> most plausible explanation is that consciousness is a necessary 
> side-effect of intelligence. 

Why would it be? Why would consciousness assist intelligence any more than 
it would evolution? Even if it did, how does intelligence suddenly conjure 
phenomenology out of thin air? As I keep pointing out, time travel, 
invisibility, or the ability to turn into a rock when threatened would be 
infinitely more plausible and effective. 

> >> Even incompatibilists can see 
> >> this. They claim that if the world is deterministic then free will is 
> >> a delusion, not that consciousness is a delusion. 
> > 
> > 
> > It's complicated because we have a lot of different levels of 
> participation. 
> > It's qualia, not quanta, so there is a huge variety of contexts in which 
> we 
> > participate to different degrees of freedom. Within these different 
> > contexts, our expectation of freedom of actual is very often overstated, 
> as 
> > our personal range of awareness pulls together the other ranges - the 
> > sub-personal, and super-personal influences. Therefore we might see a 
> > commercial for pizza on tv and think that we can use our free will to 
> order 
> > a pizza. Of course, since the pizza company has spent a lot of resources 
> > developing addictive food and marketing it with maximum convenience, the 
> > whole process really puts our free will on the defensive. Ordering the 
> pizza 
> > is not a neutral proposition, but rather the end result of a team of 
> people 
> > who are intentionally trying to overcome people's free will while giving 
> > them the impression that they are exercising it. 
> > 
> > In your view, all of this is nullified. The tv commercial is determined 
> > economically, whether you order it or not is statistically determined or 
> > random (its not very random actually, if you have ever looked at direct 
> > response advertising results, it is fantastically consistent. If a spot 
> > generates 473 orders one week., chances are it will generate exactly the 
> > same number within maybe 5% each week). Your view misses the physical 
> > reality of decision making and willpower, of hunger, boredom, and 
> isolation 
> > which go into selling pizza. 
> I don't see how my view of how the pizza is ordered misses out on 
> anything. It doesn't even miss out on free will: when I choose the 
> pizza I honestly believe that I have chosen it freely and that, had I 
> wanted to, I could have chosen differently. 

What if someone tells you about how the junk food industry hires marketing 
experts to exploit the weaknesses in human impulse control and are 
enormously successful at it? Who decides whether to consider this 
information more or less than the commercial?


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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