On 9/25/2013 12:42 PM, David Nyman wrote:
On 25 September 2013 19:42, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
I'd say the standard riposte is that the "first person facts" (qualia?) are
just inherent in the 3p model. There is feeling that goes with certain
kinds of information processing (e.g. creating a personal narrative). This
is really implicit in Bruno's theory - that proving certain theorems in
arithmetic necessarily entails qualia.
Sure, but in my reply to Bruno I point out that whereas "information
processing" is an explicit theoretical aspect of comp, it has no
obvious role to play in reductive materialism. By the way, my critique
of "reductive materialism" isn't mean to imply a knock-down argument
against a future account of the first-person in terms of some final
physical theory. Rather my intention is to stress the often-overlooked
limitations of existing physical theory in this regard. What role is
"information processing" supposed to play if what exists is supposed
to be exhausted by some maximally-reduced material substrate? Is it
meant as a proxy for some underlying physical process? But then what
is this proxy supposed to consist of in addition to the process?
As I remarked to Bruno, when one speaks of nations or sports teams (or
indeed universities, as Ryle famously pointed out, though apparently
without fully grasping the consequences) one has no difficulty
realising that all one is speaking of is human beings variously
arranged. I suppose one might call this reductive peopleism. But
apparently when one turns to "information processing" it is somehow
less clear that all one can be speaking of (according to reductive
materialism) is fundamental material entities variously arranged.
"Nature" is our model of reality. We like to compute from "the bottom up"
because it is usually easier to think of simpler things interacting to make
more complicated things - but no always.
Yes, of course. But ISTM that this is often understood as implying
more than merely an explanatory strategy; IOW that "bottom up" - or
really "bottom only" - is how things "really are", internal
contradictions be damned. However, I surmise that you are not in this
simplistic camp. But I would still be interested in an account of
"information processing" that appeals exclusively to third-personal
physical processes without begging the question of the distinctive
first-personal characteristics of any higher-order relational
phenomena thus adduced.
If the foregoing point is fully taken on board, it should be apparent
that our fundamental motivation for ascribing any truly independent
"reality" to derivative or emergent phenomena is actually their
appearance in some first-personal narrative.
But that's just taking 1p narratives as fundamental.
Not so fast. It's taking them to be "real", not fundamental. My point
is that, according to reductive materialism, there is no motivation to
accept derivative or emergent phenomena as real in any sense, because
they are ever and always simply the underlying fundamentals tout court
(i.e. the people not the nation).
You making up opinions for reductive materialists. I don't know any who think money or
love aren't real. And in fact it's not at all clear what 'materialism' means, except in
contrast to 'idealism'. It is physicists like Wheeler, Hawking, and Tegmark who have
pointed out that physics consists of equations which have predictive power but they have
different possible metaphysical interpretations. So are fields real (Wald or Wilczek) or
are particles real (Stenger or Klauber) or is it just relations (Mermin or Rovelli) or is
it strings (Susskind or Preskill)? Nobody cares - they just want a theory that works.
Of course, looking at things in this
way has the effect of making such emergent phenomena disappear from
view even more comprehensively than the Cheshire Cat, which also was
The advantage of
looking at a circle of 'reductions'
NUMBERS -> "MACHINE DREAMS" -> PHYSICAL -> HUMANS -> PHYSICS -> NUMBERS.
is that it cautions one against this kind fundamentalism. Shall we take
perspectives as fundamental (Nietzsche), particles (Stenger), numbers
(Bruno),... In my view they are all models and one 'reduces' to a level you
can understand or manipulate, which will be different in different
That's nicely agnostic, of course. Frankly, it about sums up my own
views most of the time. However, I appreciate Bruno's efforts to put
some flesh on the bones of one particular departure from agnosticism.
It's not agnosticism. It's avoiding fundamentalism. It's an approach to knowledge that
says start wherever you think you can make progress and work your way around.
And I still deprecate those of an airily reductive persuasion who
simply cannot see how they are doggedly assuming almost everything
they wish to explain.
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