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Author Topic: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion  (Read 19254 times)

Putnam

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #60 on: August 29, 2018, 05:26:43 pm »

oh they're not uncommon here at all, i'm adjacent to the group too and peredexis errant, the start pack person, is a mod for /r/rational, the subreddit dedicated to ratfic, which is also pretty adjacent.

also, I didn't know boltzmann brains were a rationalist-known thing, I learned about them completely independently, though I haven't much heard "steelman" outside that context

Ispil

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #61 on: August 29, 2018, 11:49:34 pm »

So, I've been reading this book, and it's entirely couched within neuroscience research. Lots of fascinating results- one particular one is that cognitive introspection is worthless as a means of analyzing one's own unconscious mind. Subjective reports are vital as evidence, but not as a means of analysis. This one tends to make the news a lot- it's the case where making a bunch of professional wine tasters drink boxed wine served out of an expensive bottle makes them think that it tastes better than the same boxed wine served out of a different bottle. They will explain flavor differences and various other false justifications as to why they ultimately favored the former, despite the fact that it was their unconscious mind going off of the expensive bottle to make that decision. They are left fundamentally unaware as to why.

Another case- nylon stockings. Researchers showed participants four pairs of nylon stockings and asked them to pick a pair. Their justification was that they chose the one with the "nicest fabric" and other such things. They were all identical stockings- all participants simply chose the right-most pair in the assortment. Again, their conscious mind fails to identify their unconscious justification.

A more trivial case is that people's attempts at explaining how they understand words is considerably far removed from the very well-known research into how the brain actually interprets words. A very literal demonstration of the failure of cognitive introspection, that.


Of course, then I recall that Kurzweil's entire means of his theory of AI was derived out of cognitive introspection. His ideas certainly had practical implications, but fundamentally do not represent how the unconscious mind actually works, per the above. It seems that the road to AI and understanding consciousness is to be paved by cognitive research and experiments, not cognitive introspection and philosophy. "Thinking on how I think", ultimately, makes for a piss-poor means of figuring out how one thinks.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2018, 11:52:30 pm by Ispil »
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GoblinCookie

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #62 on: August 30, 2018, 08:17:21 am »

Solipsism is a completely worthless philosophy that deserves no place in any reasonable epistemic discourse. It's like flipping the table: it's a gotcha which leads to nobody winning.

Indeed, it just so happens that consciousness being physical results in precisely that outcome. 

See above. Other people appear to be conscious; it requires less assumptions to believe that what I see is real than that what I see is not.

No, other people do not *appear* to be conscious, they just do things.  None of the things they do in themselves require consciousness as an explanation and an explanation not involving consciousness is a simpler explanation than one involving consciousness.  Therefore if we take as our position that consciousness is a physical thing, then it follows that consciousness (except our own, see later) is eliminated by Occam's Razor.

This does not follow. I can make a near-identical statements as such which are clearly false:

If the material object that is an electron can explain everything in chemistry without the need of a combustion 'thing' inside the electron, Occam's Razor eliminates not just phlogiston but fire itself if we make combustion a consequence of chemistry.

You are treating consciousness as something that must be a single, unified object. This is not something that can be believed, given the extraordinary evidence we have that all perception is in the brain, yet one still perceives having one consciousness, despite such things as an inability to name what is seen or independently acting limbs.

EDIT: It should be noted that I believe consciousness is basically an illusion. This does not mean I don't believe it exists. There's a difference!

Fire is an empirically observable thing, phlogiston is not.  Empirical things are exempt from Occam's Razor, which applies only to things which are not observable.  This is why I am saying that a physical consciousness results in Solipsism, something you evidently despise.

It is like you have 7 billion monkey wheels and none of them require a monkey to turn them.  However you observe one particular monkey turning one particular monkey wheel anyway that monkey exists and is very much turning that wheel.  It does not follow however that there are 7 billion monkeys turning the other 7 billion monkey wheels.  That is why I said a physical consciousness results in Solipsism, the consciousnesses of all other people are like the unnecessary monkeys in the above scenario, while your consciousness is the one unnecessary monkey that was observed. 

Our current body of physical law represents our observed evidence. It would take an extremely large amount of evidence to overturn modern physics. That's not to say it can't be done - it's happened many times before - but it requires significantly more evidence than "I sat in my armchair and realized that the existence of something which can recognize its existence requires reality to include at least two fundamentally different kinds of monads, one of which comprises the universe as we know it and the other makes up a separate realm of the mind corresponding to my a priori intuitions about how cognition and sensation work."

Evidence means what is empirical.  If my empirical self-observation results in the conclusion of dualism, that is equal to all other evidence.  The amusing additional element here is that evidence itself implies consciousness and if consciousness is physical then nobody else actually has consciousness, since I am the only unnecessary monkey, to refer to my previous example to Putnam. 

It appears I have implicitly assumed reductionism, even as I considered your non-physicalism. Okay. My argument still applies, with this addition: how can the body be noticeably different without the quarks that comprise the body being different? And if there is no noticeable difference between a body that's connected to an external mind and a body that doesn't, how can you determine which one you are? (I'm using Bayesian evidence here - knowing something is equivalent to a high probability of thinking X if and only if X is correct. For this to happen, there must be a causal interaction between X and the body - and not just a causal interaction, but one carrying a number of bits proportional to the complexity of X.)

Because the body is headed towards a number of possible future states that are multiple.  The state that actually happens is the state that corresponds to that of the mind.  The mind is unable to choose (or perhaps even imagine) what is not within the range of possible future states of the body. 

To the external observer the situation appears random.  In reality it is pseudo-random, but because consciousness is non-physical, no study of the physical world will reveal the pseudo-randomness and doing so would disprove freewill if such an explanation itself ignored consciousness. 

What? I'm attempting to steelman this, and the best I can do is "neurons are all functionally identical and therefore theoretically interchangeable, although any particular neuron will have an internal state depending on its history." Even that isn't true, and I don't see how the steelman would support your argument against reductionism.

What I was drawing attention to is the fact that there are no neurons-of-consciousness that are observably different from regular neurons within the brain.  So no empirical confirmation for a physical consciousness within the brain. 

I don't understand how this connects to its context. Are you saying that the connection lies in the subconscious mind rather than the conscious mind?

The easiest way for the non-dualist to dodge the unnecessary monkey problem is to declare that the brain *is* the physical consciousness, that would in fact work if we were conscious of everything that the brain had in it, knowledge wise.  Since the vast majority of things our brain knows were are unconscious of, we start needing a separate physical consciousness within the brain and no such thing empirically observable, so Occam's Razor strikes. 

As I see it, this theory generates a testable hypothesis: people will never be wrong (edit: if their beliefs could have been true, and them being true wouldn't violate physical law, only probability). And if it doesn't generate a testable hypothesis, then it's useless as a theory.

The theory can be falsified in two ways.  One is that you determine the material universe is entirely deterministic, the other is that you determine that the mind can do anything regardless of the physical laws.  It's clockwork universe OR matrix-spoon-bending, either way I'm wrong. 

Saying people can't be wrong because of this theory is like saying that people can't climb hills because of gravity.  A person who is wrong is constantly having to strain *against* the principle itself, but only if his error is directed at a specific material state.  A material thing can be in error about another material thing and so can a consciousness be in error about another consciousness. 

That is an important detail of the science of wrongness.  The brain is not actually separate from the body and the body is not actually separate from the rest-of-the-universe.  However to recall back to the question about the colour blue, consciousness imposes onto the world a division, because that division is possible.  It is possible for the light spectrum to be divided into colours, therefore divided they are. 

Once we have divided the body from the universe, the body can respond in isolation to the consciousness and therefore can be forced to 'disagree' with other elements of the universe (the law does not apply within the mind or within the material world, only between them).  Once we have accomplished this feat, we can exist in perpetual delusion since the elements that disagree with the consciousness have been 'eliminated'. 

This is an empty explanation. It doesn't explain how the arm actually moves, and once you've truly explained how the arm moves (brain sends signal through neurons to cells which release chemicals which provide signal and energy to the structures that reduce a cell's length), you don't need this anymore - there's nothing else to be explained.

We were not talking about how the arm actually moves.  We were talking about how free will, if it actually exists could move the arm.

That's still simply false. The map can incorrectly describe the territory, and the map itself can't affect the territory except to the extent that it is part of the territory.

Indeed, but not forever.  The universe will always find a way to bring the two into agreement.  The problem as already discussed is that information is also stored physically in *part* of the universe and consciousness has the power to divide up the universe into categories. 

1. Occam's razor does not apply to definitions and categories. "It is strictly simpler for blue to not actually exist, only objects that tend to reflect light of particular wavelengths..." Reductio ad absurdum.

2. When you say "you, unaware of it, are arguing against your own existence," you are presupposing that if KittyTac were correct about consciousness being physical, they wouldn't exist. This is combining your beliefs and KittyTac's, and then claiming that the combination is an accurate reflection of KittyTac's beliefs.

1. Yes, because those things are part of consciousness. 

2. Yes, it is common for people not to realise the consequences of their beliefs, it's other people's job to point that out. I am not however combining my own beliefs with that of KittyTac's, my beliefs are quite separate. 

Consciousness isn't an explanation, it's a category or an observed process.

Consciousness creates categories.  They are therefore related to consciousness, along with all empirically observable objects.  Consciousness, not being physical is not subject to Occam's Razor and it eliminates Occam's Razor for all the things it 'touches'. 

Blue doesn't "exist as an entity". It's a category/process of things that reflect light of a particular wavelength. And colors don't really explain things, they only describe them. An actual explanation would be something like "the electrons in this atom, probably for quantum mechanical reasons, resonate more at this frequency than another. When they resonate strongly, they generate additional electromagnetic waves which can travel in a different direction than the original wave."

It exists as an entity because it is empirical.  The type of entity that it is, you have described correctly.  It is a category, but remember that the body is *also* a category and consciousness clearly has a special relationship to it. 

I would have to ask KittyTac, but I strongly doubt that they consider themselves to be disproving your existence. You are only projecting your views onto them. (Everyone does it - some amount of projection is necessary for social interaction unless you can explicitly model the neurons in someone's brain - but less is better.)

If KittyTac is right, then since I am the only unnecessary monkey (physical consciousness) KittyTac is just a mindless thing like the computer I am writing these words on.  The same also applies to you. 

What do you mean by the existence of an existence?

I simply mean the same thing in a different semantic context.

There is only one material consciousness if material consciousness happens to be true, Mine; you are just a complicated thing.

No, they aren't. That's only true in your model, in which consciousness is epiphenomenal. (I think - you're somewhat hard to understand, and you've never made it clear whether you think that consciousness causally/detectably interacts with the physical world.) If you don't consider consciousness to be epiphenomenal, then it's equivalent to blueness - it's just a more complicated physical process.

The question being addressed there is the existence or otherwise of free will.  If consciousness is simply a product of the material universe, then there is no free will.  Only if free will exists we have to come up with a mechanism for the non-physical consciousness to interact with the physical world without being part of it. 

I'm not sure you understand physicalists. We don't think that consciousness is an object. We think that it's a process. Occam's razor does apply somewhat to processes, but in a way that's precisely opposite from your use. It's simpler for A and B to both be explained by one thing than for A to be caused by one thing and B by another. This means that your model, in which your externally-observable consciousness is caused by a bidirectional revision of physical reality and your mind to bring the two into concordance, and my externally-observable consciousness is "merely" caused by the interaction of atoms, is at a significant disadvantage.

Both senses of the application of Occam's Razor eliminate everyone but me from existence.  We don't need a consciousness process, just as we don't need a consciousness object. 

You cannot empirically observe the existence of your "consciousness" (by which I mean everything that you tack onto consciousness, including your non-physical existence) unless there is a causal and informational interaction between your consciousness and your brain. (Or maybe, in some epiphenomenal sense, you can - but not in a way that you could ever communicate, since communication is physical.)

That makes no sense at all.  You can always empirically observe your own consciousness because your consciousness is the sum of things you are percieving.  That is like saying that you can't observe 10 things because you can observe 10 separate things.   

That statement is false, even if interpreted charitably. It is not the case that KittyTac's philosophy bars conscious beings from existing. Instead, KittyTac has a different operational definition of consciousness.

From KittyTac's perspective he is the one that exists and not the rest of us.  Unfortunately there is no KittyTac perspective, since I am the only consciousness if he is right. 
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Maximum Spin

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #63 on: August 30, 2018, 08:24:58 am »

No, other people do not *appear* to be conscious, they just do things.  None of the things they do in themselves require consciousness as an explanation and an explanation not involving consciousness is a simpler explanation than one involving consciousness.  Therefore if we take as our position that consciousness is a physical thing, then it follows that consciousness (except our own, see later) is eliminated by Occam's Razor.
This is a factual falsehood which you are only able to maintain because you don't know (because nobody yet knows) how consciousness works. If consciousness is physical, then it is necessarily the case that there are some things a conscious lifeform can do, at least on the microscopic level, which a nonsentient being simply cannot. You may not think that the things you observe require consciousness to explain Ś you may believe that you are perfectly capable of imagining a nonsentient being which can do those things Ś but if consciousness if physical, then you would simply be wrong.
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GoblinCookie

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #64 on: August 30, 2018, 08:39:36 am »

This is a factual falsehood which you are only able to maintain because you don't know (because nobody yet knows) how consciousness works. If consciousness is physical, then it is necessarily the case that there are some things a conscious lifeform can do, at least on the microscopic level, which a nonsentient being simply cannot. You may not think that the things you observe require consciousness to explain Ś you may believe that you are perfectly capable of imagining a nonsentient being which can do those things Ś but if consciousness if physical, then you would simply be wrong.

If consciousness is eliminated by it's redundancy then there is no need for anyone to determine how consciousness works.  There is no consciousness to study.
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KittyTac

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #65 on: August 30, 2018, 08:47:26 am »

That statement is false, even if interpreted charitably. It is not the case that KittyTac's philosophy bars conscious beings from existing. Instead, KittyTac has a different operational definition of consciousness.

From KittyTac's perspective he is the one that exists and not the rest of us.  Unfortunately there is no KittyTac perspective, since I am the only consciousness if he is right.
Wrong. Just plain wrong. Physical consciousness and the existence of other people are not mutually exclusive. It just means that their consciousness is also physical. And my definition of consciousness is different (clarity of thought), as a consequence of my disbelief in free will.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2018, 08:50:28 am by KittyTac »
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Fleeting Frames

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #66 on: August 30, 2018, 09:15:57 am »

That's pretty long post, GoblinCookie, but I think it all rests on the assumption that you have evidence of your own consiciousness that you don't find in others.

If it is thinking, given that all things you think about are words or can be put into words, what distinguishes it from merely a logical machine?
In a conversation between you and someone else where both participants can follow the train of logic, what's the difference?

@Ispil:

I'm reminded of how one comes to a decisions second before actually acting on it.

I'm also reminded of how code doesn't necessarily include comments on why it is doing something.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2018, 09:18:20 am by Fleeting Frames »
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Ispil

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #67 on: August 30, 2018, 10:07:53 am »

So, there's a lot of talking past each other and misinterpretation going on here, so I'm going to try and explain it.

GoblinCookie is simply arguing that there is no literal physical object of "consciousness." In this regard, he's right- consciousness is a model for explaining the functions of our brain, just as physics is a model for explaining the functions of the physical world around us. They're models- they're inherently not physical, and do not exist in this material world.

As for the rest of his point, the overuse of Occam's razor is evident- we have experimental verification of various principles, so arguing that those research results are simply the consequence of coincidence and chance is to argue the same about the sciences as a whole.

For instance, we can experimentally verify "awareness," or conscious access of information in the brain. We can detect the exact neurons that go off in the brain when conscious access occurs. How? Well, it's fairly simple- there's a technique known as "masking," where a piece of visual information such as a word is displayed quite briefly, and before and after its display are gibberish images. Subjects reported that they did not see a word whatsoever. This was verified using fMRI, where both masked and unmasked words flashed in front of a participant set off the same initial set of neurons, but the masked image failed to set off neurons in key other areas of the brain that the unmasked version did.

Sure, you could call this "coincidence" or "random chance" and use Occam's razor to say that nothing of importance actually happened, but what we've done in subsequent experiments using similar principles strongly reinforces exactly what's demonstrated in this simple demonstration of masked information. Additionally, opportunities with epileptic patients having electrodes placed in their brain let researchers (with consent of the patients) actually stimulate various neurons in the brain to test whether those neurons were actually responsible for what they were expecting- and they were. Repeatable, observable results, both forwards (identifying conscious access on a neuron level through visual stimulation) and backwards (causing conscious access without visual stimulation by stimulating neurons directly).

To argue that there's nothing going on here but coincidence and chance would be to throw out several decades of repeatable research. At that point, you're going against Occam's razor, no?
« Last Edit: August 30, 2018, 10:11:07 am by Ispil »
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"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

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KittyTac

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #68 on: August 30, 2018, 10:11:50 am »

Here's a lesson: Don't stab people with Occam's Razor too much. It's only good when used sparingly.
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Ispil

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #69 on: August 30, 2018, 10:47:47 am »

It's also worth noting that Occam's razor isn't a scientific law or anything- it's just a simple idea. "The simpler answer is usually the right one." As with many other things on the internet (like rhetorical fallacies), people like treating it like gospel preached by the lips of God, made infallible in its virtue.

It's not. It's just a way of thinking so you don't waste your time evaluating possible answers more likely to be wrong. If anything, it's a statistical thing: A AND B AND C is more likely to be false than D AND E, because it is false if any single statement is false- if there are more statements, there are more possible ways for it to come up false. Doesn't make the less likely one false- just makes it less likely to be true.



As for the Boltzman brain argument, that one fails by its own construction- these brains don't last long enough to have the physical processes necessary (under any hypothetical construction of consciousness or brains or anything) such that you could say that anything happened at all. You have infinite dead brains, with nothing going on in them. To put it more simply, even if there was a spontaneous construction of the world's smallest possible quantum computer, it would not last long enough to perform a single operation; to say nothing of the complexity of a system that we could call "conscious" and how long such an operation must take. Even if there were sufficiently fast algorithms, there's another problem- the speed of light. Any moving particles literally could not move fast enough to have the result before the system ceases to exist.
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"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."- Voltaire

I transcribe things, too.

Maximum Spin

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #70 on: August 30, 2018, 12:04:38 pm »

As for the Boltzman brain argument, that one fails by its own construction- these brains don't last long enough to have the physical processes necessary (under any hypothetical construction of consciousness or brains or anything) such that you could say that anything happened at all.
Er, the amount of time they can last is unbounded. They can last as long as you need as long as you are prepared to jack up the rarity.
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Ispil

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #71 on: August 30, 2018, 12:19:10 pm »

Then you could say that all matter could spontaneously form into another Big Bang, with the same argument. You have infinite time, after all.
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"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."- Voltaire

I transcribe things, too.

KittyTac

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #72 on: August 30, 2018, 12:24:39 pm »

Then you could say that all matter could spontaneously form into another Big Bang, with the same argument. You have infinite time, after all.
Well, yes.
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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #73 on: August 30, 2018, 12:27:10 pm »

Well, no, because space is expanding too fast. No amount of time will ever be enough. That's a completely different physical issue, though.
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Ispil

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Re: Dwarves, Philosophy, and Religion
« Reply #74 on: August 30, 2018, 12:35:06 pm »

I will admit, I am no physicist. The fact that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, at least as far as I can tell, would mean that there is a point at which the universe would be expanding so fast that even if a Boltzman brain did spontaneously appear, it would cease to be meaningful due to the expansion of the universe around it rendering what was originally a small distance between each component immensely vast (since the metric of distance between each component would be growing at an infinitely accelerating pace).
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"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."- Voltaire

I transcribe things, too.
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