do u think a God excists?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Tom, Oct 21, 2001.

  1. ImaHamster2 Registered Senior Member

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    Good seed, Orthogonal. Fits with the hamster contention that identity is largely an illusion. The hamster will misuse Orthogonal’s example in future discussions. Hehe.
     
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  3. Hoth Registered Senior Member

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    My answer here is going to go in two different directions... I'll start with the simpler part first, which is just looking at problems with your idea.

    If I understand correctly, you're trying to say that pattern determines self. It seems to me like there's a major flaw in this theory: The pattern of your body isn't the same over time either, any more than the exact physical components. The current pattern of your body (including brain) could have far more in common with your identical twin (imagining you have one, since plenty of people do) than with your 7 year old self. Does this mean your 7 year old self was an unrelated thing which you shouldn't call you, and instead you should call your twin you?

    Besides, if consciousness were based on relative similarity of pattern (since patterns are never exactly the same over time you can't argue that it requires exactly the same pattern) then we'd be conscious of everything to certain differing degrees, depending on how related to us the pattern of the thing is. For example we'd see half the thoughts in the minds of our close relatives, a quarter of the thoughts of cousins, and maybe be conscious of occasional stray thoughts from chimpanzees that semi-resemble our pattern. I don't know about you, but I've yet to be conscious of anything thought outside of my mind.

    Do you believe you're the same person as the one you have memories of? Your pattern doesn't resemble that person's pattern very closely. Your current pattern is closer to my pattern than it is to the pattern you had when you were a month old. Yet, I'm guessing you'd be more inclined to call your month old self you than to call me you.

    If the molecules of your body change, and the pattern of your body changes, the only way there can be a consistent self is for consciousness (which is clearly nonphysical, as explained way back there) to provide the link.
     
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  5. Hoth Registered Senior Member

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    Now, in a separate post just to keep the thoughts and direction separate (and maybe to pad my post count, can't hurt

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    ), I'll take on your scenario and end up exploring what consistency and continuity are really about.

    In your scenario, it seems like you're still looking at it from the outside perspective. Seems like you keep taking objective positions, while I'm talking about something (consciousness) that can only exist subjectively. (There can't be an objective consciousness, you'd have to be talking about a god... and that would lead off into discussing the original subject of this thread, which of course we wouldn't want.

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    ) Basically, here's what I'm saying: I'll agree that a duplicate of you will still be you... but a duplicate of me won't be me. That's because your consciousness means nothing to me... I presume you have one, but it's logically no different to me if you somehow have a different one than you did a minute ago since it makes no difference at all in how you think and what the observable external results of those thoughts are. With me, on the other hand, my thoughts only matter if I can observe them. That's how I define me... as those thoughts I can observe. If my thoughts are observed by another consciousness and not me, I won't exist because I won't be conscious of the thoughts anymore... despite the fact that from the perspective of other people there will in fact have been no objective change.

    The answer to how we know which of us has been zapped out of existence and recreated is that neither of us present asking ourselves the question after its happened will know or care, because it won't have been either of us... the only one who would care would be the consciousness that got zapped out of existence already. The replacement being wouldn't realize or care that it was replacing another consciousness, nor would it make any difference to the person they're talking to.

    The fact that when your machine moves me it uses the same atoms to recreate me makes no difference at all, because every proton or electron or quark or 11 dimensional bubble (whatever they have in string theory these days) is the same anyway. I agree with you that pattern determines what we see, and the essential physical nature of things. However, as I explained in the above post I don't think pattern is a valid way to define self. Consciousness determines self, and consciousness seems to be determined by continuity. Continuity is the issue, and when you zap me out of existence and re-create me a foot away you've eliminated the continuity of my existence. With the continuity gone, I don't think I could call it me anymore.


    Here's another way, maybe more elegant, of looking at the continuity idea. Maybe it'll help you understand. Remember from the "time" thread the idea I mentioned that the universe is a 4 dimensional place without time, time just being a physical dimension like the others? This way, all the infinite 3D moments we observe are little slices of a 4D solid in the same way our 3D world is made up of an infinite stack of 2D planes. In the same way the 3D world touches a plane at all points, including the inside, a 4D world would touch every point of our 3D world, including the inside of every object.

    Question: What touches a 3D object (such as a human) on all sides, including the inside?
    Answer: The same object (or person) in the moment previous and the moment next in time.

    In this way, you can think of yourself across time as a 4 dimensional solid. The idea of continuity in your existence is simplified here in that it just means you're all part of that one 4D shape. Going back to your machine that disintegrates me and then creates a replica a foot to the left... this is a break in the solid, a gap, so it can no longer be said to be the self.
     
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  7. kmguru Staff Member

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    do u think a God excists?

    NO

    do u think this thread has its own mind?

    Perhaps....

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  8. Hermann Registered Senior Member

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    Hi Cris,

    I come back to your message from 02-06-02 (page 3), which caused also a lot of other interesting contributions. It seems that I am the only one who has a completely different opinion.

    You and all the others believe, that you can analyze yourself – but you can’t!

    Even when there would be a machine, which can do everything what I can do and this much better and much faster, I would still feel very superior, because “I am”.

    By the example of a growing child you tried to prove that there is no soul, because all features have been developed by experience. Assume you become suddenly blind, deaf and dumb, but scientist could implant tools which can give you back all these performances. In this case you would need quite a long time until you will be able to use the new tools. The same happens when a soul is captured by a biological body. Therefore your example does not prove anything.

    I am still convinced that after my biological death I (my self) will be free, self-aware, able to think and to remember without material tools like processors and memories. There will be also a communication between free individuals, but only limited access to souls captured by biological bodies. The brain is nothing more than a computer which allows you to communicate via your body. I am just sorry, that I cannot prove this view to you (yet), but there is also no way to disprove it.

    Regards
    Hermann

    ---------------
    Everyone sees the world with his own eyes - my updated weltanschauung (philosophy of life) is described at: http://home.t-online.de/home/hraith/english.htm
     
  9. Bambi itinerant smartass Registered Senior Member

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    Going back off the topic...

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    Hoth,

    I'm going to go and start a few posts back in my response to your general position. This will be lengthy, but you won't mind, right?

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    Post from 02-08-02 07:55 AM:
    Since I view the mind in terms of information, I find it easiest to allude to computer analogies when trying to make my point clear to others. With that in mind, consider a program in the memory of a computer. The program constitutes a sophisticated algorithm. However, the algorithm is contained in a physical medium that could be roughly organized into circuit elements and interconnections between them. Does any single capacitor of the RAM contain the sophisticated algorithm? No. Does any particular atom of the computer have anything to do with the algorithm? Probably not (unless it's a quantum computer.) However, when you take the bulk of the memory circuit and view its information contents collectively, you see the algorithm encoded in it. It's the same with mind vs. brain.

    Again, a computer program may produce some intermediate results as part of its algorithm. These results are not output (and therefore not visible to the user.) However, they carry direct meaning for the algorithm. They are still encoded in the sate of a few transistors or capacitors here and there. Even though the actual state of the circuits (or even the actual implementation of the processor) are irrelevant to the algorithm, the information pertinent to the algorithm is still a state of that circuit.

    If the theoretical machine was hooked up to you at one end and to another person (with identical neural structure) at the other, it would be capable of literally copying you. From the moment the copying process starts, the other person will be a complete replica of you, and will indeed experience your qualia in the exact same way and to the exact same degree that you do.

    Wrong. Information in its very nature is always about something. So as long as your brain is an information processor, it will be intentional due to that very fact. To take an easy example, consider the information that enters your eyes. The photons themselves are meaningless, it is what they represent that matters. The information carried by the photons is about the object that emitted them, and thereby based on the photons the brain perceives the object.

    That's because you don't know what you're looking at (you do not get sufficient information from your measurements.) The brain is a distributed processor, so looking at a single neuron or even a thousand neurons is like looking at a single transistor or a thousand transistors in a 100,000,000,000-transistor CPU and complaining that you can't deduce the algorithm being executed.

    Post from 02-10-02 11:59 PM:

    That's right, you shouldn't call your 7 year old self you. Because it isn't. You are no longer a 7 year old. You are a very different person now. You can say that the 7 year old was you X number of years ago (which you can't say about the twin.)

    To perceive anything there must be incoming information. There is no way for you to perceive thoughts of others -- even if they are identical to yours. Of course, your thoughts are overwhelmingly determined by your unique experiences and sensory input.

    Not necessary. Just as an algorithm copied form one computer to another does not change, so doesn't information encoded by your brain from one instant to the next (well, not much anyway.) Your mind relies on large collections of matter and thresholded average behavior of many neurons; minute changes in the underlying substrate cannot have much of an effect on your mind.

    Post from 02-11-02 12:39 AM

    The humor is that your duplicate will make the exact same argument (literally, since he would hold all the same beliefs that you do.) So to your duplicate, he would not exist in you. Symmetry can be ironic, can't it?

    Then you must have a problem dealing with discontinuity in consciousness. What happens to you when you're asleep? Knocked out? Blacked out? In a coma? Keep in mind that even while you are in a dreamless sleep (essentially unconscious), you are still zooming through space at X thousand kilometers per second. When you wake up, you are no longer even close to your original four-dimensional shell.

    This argument does not apply to information. Information does not depend on substrate, and can be copied or transferred as many times as desired without being changed in any way.
     
  10. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Bambi,

    Phew! That saved me a lot of time. I owed Hoth a good reply since he has taken much effort in his posts.

    But your eloquence and precision are much more fun to read and see than anything I would have posted.

    A pleasure reading you, here and all your other posts elsewhere.

    Cris
     
  11. Bambi itinerant smartass Registered Senior Member

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    Aww shucks

    Cris,

    You're making me blush.

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  12. Hoth Registered Senior Member

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    Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much progress here, we're just repeating ourselves. There's nothing wrong with your answers, Bambi (or Cris), they all make perfectly good sense from a certain perspective. The problem is you're still answering the wrong questions, or more precisely you're answering from a perspective that isn't even involved in the issues I'm talking about. Everything you say is a valid theory for explaining other people, but not the self. Other people can be explained in purely physical ways, yes, but you can't explain yourself in purely physical ways. That's why the problem of other minds in philosophy remains without any proof, while self-existence doesn't tend to get disputed much. (The nature of the self is disputed, but not the existence of some sort of self.) Observing other people, you can never know for sure if they're simply physical things with brains but no mind or consciousness, no self-awareness. The world could make sense exactly as it is, and science could explain everything, without other people being conscious. Examining myself, on the other hand, I can't dispute my self-awareness because in questioning it I've already proved it.

    Problem is, you're doing what's good in science -- you're being objective. Science is all about observing things, and that works great for the universe, observing the universe from a detached objective viewpoint is what science is about. Objectively observing your own consciousness, however, is sort of like an eye trying to look at itself (in a universe without mirrors, that is) -- it's a totally irrational idea. You have to get away from objectivity for a while.

    Bambi, your computer analogies completely miss the point. The computer is not conscious. Algorithms are not conscious. (Um, at least so far as I know.) If you dispute that humans are conscious, well, I can concede that you aren't maybe

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    but I can't possibly concede that I'm not since that'd be irrational. The computer analogy perfectly shows how other people can exist as completely physical things, I agree with you there, but it can't explain the self. The only way the algorithm in a computer can take on any kind of purpose, or in fact actually be considered an algorithm, is through me being conscious of what it's supposed to be doing. The algorithm itself has no consciousness, the computer is not self-aware. If there's no one there to observe the computer, it's simply chemical interactions that mean nothing and only result in more chemical interactions. (Some of those producing a certain shape such as a number to appear on the screen. The process leading up to it, however, wouldn't be about the number.)

    The humor is that your duplicate will make the exact same argument (literally, since he would hold all the same beliefs that you do.) So to your duplicate, he would not exist in you. Symmetry can be ironic, can't it?

    The mind could experience the exact same things in the exact same way, but if I'm no longer conscious of it I couldn't care less. If my consciousness is gone (perhaps replaced with another) then I have no way to be aware of the existence of this replica or be aware that it doesn't know for sure if it's the same consciousness as it was before duplication, or to be aware if it's amused when it thinks about the objective symmetry.

    Yet again, you're taking the objective perspective while I'm talking about something that's a purely subjective thing/quality. I agree with you from the objective level, but considering the only way I can ever experience the objective level is through the subjective level I find the subjective level to be the important issue.

    This argument does not apply to information. Information does not depend on substrate, and can be copied or transferred as many times as desired without being changed in any way.

    Information by its very nature is always interpreted by the mind. Without any people (self-aware beings of any type, that is), it would never be about anything, the concept of information wouldn't exist. Think about it, how can a particle be about something? It can only be about something if there's a life form to draw the connections.

    This should be a simple enough example: Photons aren't about the things they happen to have bounced off of. They're just photons, meaningless particles, naturally occurring things. Nature didn't develop photons so that people could see things, photons just happened to exist and the way they move about happens to allow us to "see" things. The mind interprets the brain effects of those photons hitting the retina as being about something -- the photons aren't about anything but themselves until they reach the mind. The body simply uses a complicated process based on the angles at which the photons enter the eye, the concentration of photons, etc, to allow the mind to determine the location of things unrelated to the photon.

    Then you must have a problem dealing with discontinuity in consciousness. What happens to you when you're asleep? Knocked out? Blacked out? In a coma?

    Here's another place where I can see we're not even thinking of similar concepts. Discontinuity in consciousness is never an issue. You never lose consciousness, you simply lose anything to be conscious of. (Think about it, you can't injure someone's consciousness, it's not physical. You injure someone's body and brain, thus preventing them from being able to think, thus leaving them with no thoughts to be conscious of.) Even in death you simply don't have anything to be conscious of. Consciousness is better understood as a property.

    The issue of how that property of consciousness, and specifically of my consciousness, gets attached a mind is the issue I was using four dimensional continuity as the best attempt at a solution for.

    Keep in mind that even while you are in a dreamless sleep (essentially unconscious), you are still zooming through space at X thousand kilometers per second. When you wake up, you are no longer even close to your original four-dimensional shell

    In each infinitesimal moment of time I move only an infinitesimal distance. At each instant in time my 3-D shape touches the location where my 3-D shape was at the previous instant in time. That keeps the 4-D shape intact... through time I carve out a solid 4-D object, as long as I don't make any instantaneous jumps across space with no infinitesimal intermediate steps involved.

    I'll start a new thread, to try to look at what seems to me to be the basic problem issue here. Maybe an illustration will help get the perspective understood at least: http://www.sciforums.com/f35/s/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5763
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2002
  13. Bambi itinerant smartass Registered Senior Member

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    Originally posted by Hoth

    Or perhaps it is the only possible valid perspective.

    If other people can indeed be explained in purely physical ways, then so can you. You are trying to argue that just because you are aware of your internal state but not the internal state of others, then it makes you structurally different from the others. Which is a nonsequitur. As a matter of fact, you have no reason to suspect that you are any different. Until any such reason for suspicion is uncovered, any postulate as to the difference is spurious.

    That is because the "problem" is fundamentally flawed and cannot be proved in principle by the virtue of its very postulation. To prove the "problem", one would have to prove a negative.

    That would only be true if the world is one giant simulation designed to fool you as its sole inhabitant. Somewhat paranoid, it seems.

    That doesn't make sense. Another person can publically question your self-awareness or their own as well. Are you assuming that a simulation capable of consistently representing the entire human race is incapable of simulating consciousness in a single simulated being? Are you making the argument that consciousness is not possible as a physical process? If so, based on what are you making such an argument?

    That is why attempting to examine your own consciousness and thereby deduce something about it is a flawed idea to begin with. The only way you will ever reach valid deductions is by objectively examining someone else's consciousness.

    Now, as for your own consciousness, I'll argue that under your paranoid alternative there is no security even there. How do you know that you just questioned your existence? Because it's in your short-term memory, I presume. What if your short-term memory is being faked and/or being meddled with? What if a theoretical machine took the memories and experiences of another person and injected them into your brain (without destroying your own memories) -- wouldn't you have the knowledge of that other person's experiences, memories, etc. that are of equal quality to yours? Where would be the difference between what you know about yourself and what you know about that other person? In fact, wouldn't you have problems determining which of the two people you actually are? Sure, you can claim that you still retain the self-referential capability of introspection; however where is the argument that self-reference is impossible in an information processor (and therefore must be a quality of something immaterial?)

    Where's the proof that conscience is not itself an algorithm? Where's the proof that computers cannot in principle be conscious?

    Why, and why not?

    They may not mean anything to all the people who are not there, but they might as well mean something to the entity they constitute.

    What if those processes produced the post I just made? Would you say that this entire post isn't about anything? Would you say that this post carries information only because you are there to interpret it? How is this post any different between the moment that you are alive and the moment you are dead?

    And what if the machine allowed you to be aware of that other consciousness? What if it allowed you to switch, at will, between observing your own state and the state of that other individual?

    Which ignores the systemic complexity of your brain. Information has to be filtered through and integrated between many mechanisms before you get to introspect it. There is no separating line between the objective and the subjective in the absolute sense you seem to imagine.

    But the mind by its very nature is an information interpreter (or processor, in my terminology). So why can't the mind be material, again?

    This is inconsistent. First you claim that self-awareness is required for aboutness, and next you claim all that is required is a life form. Which is it? When a barfly notices a hand moving to swat it and evades it, has the information it received via its eyes been without any intentionality? When an electrical pulse travels through a wire and detonates a bomb, has it been without effect? Isn't meaning simply another synonym for material implication?

    Two problems here. The angles, concentrations, wavelengths of the photons are all information carried by the photons -- whether there is any eye there to intercept information or not. The second problem is that if the location of things unrelated to the photon is determined by the body then the body has ample opportunity to react to the information with no need for some ethereal mind. In fact, the body can even react without involving higher brain functions in the process, in what is called a reflex.

    Even yourself?? When you are unconscious, you aren't being conscious of nothing to perceive -- you literally loose the time and have no memory of it whatsoever.

    This postulates consciousness as some sort of an absolute and independent entity with no reason to do so. Moreover, if I understood you correctly, consciousness does not involve the ability to think, feel or perceive. If so, then what exactly is consciousness that isn't already encompassed by all that it is not?

    Think of a buzzer and the sound it makes. The sound only gets emitted as long as the buzzer is active. Is it better to postulate that the sound is an independent entity that exists regardless of the buzzer but only gets activated when the buzzer becomes active, or would you rather imagine that the sound is a direct product of the buzzer's operation?
     
  14. Hoth Registered Senior Member

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    If objectivity is the only possible valid perspective, and of course no one has ever been able to give a proof of the existence of an objective external world, that means you don't know if you really exist or not. If you don't see any problem with saying you don't know if you exist or not, if that doesn't seem like a nonsensical idea to you, then go right ahead and believe there's no subjectivity.

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    You'll never be able to have knowledge since you won't have anything to view it from, but whatever you believe is fine. Who am I to insist that you're self-aware?

    Now, as for your own consciousness, I'll argue that under your paranoid alternative there is no security even there. How do you know that you just questioned your existence?

    Why would I need the past to prove the moment? I don't need the past or the future. The experience of the moment, even if faked to seem like an entirely differnt sort of experience that the supposed obejctive real one, is an experience. I can be a mind in a giant computer hallucinating things (who knows, it might be possible to have a conscious computer, that was never a potential I denied), and/or I can have actually only existed for a split second, but as long as I'm aware of a thought (or anything else) that's indisputable proof of existence due to the definition of the word existence.

    Poof, logically there's now a self, and this self is differntiated in perspective from the rest of the universe. But, *gasp*, through this differentiated perspective there's automatically subjectivism appearing. Quick, find some illogical way to put it out.

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    By the way, the skeptical hypothesis wasn't about being paranoid and believing that things aren't true. No, philosophers are not all paranoid people. Rather the point is that thought experiments like that can cause you to see more clearly what's closest to the self and what's further away... the actual matter of if the universe is at it seems or not is irrelevant to the process.

    As for algothims, an alogorithm is an idea. You can't pick up an algorithm and throw it at something. Thus, before you talk about it having a consciousness of it's own, note that it doesn't exist in your world since it's not physical.

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    Are you making the argument that consciousness is not possible as a physical process? If so, based on what are you making such an argument?

    There are a number of proofs that consciousness is not possible as a physical process, some of them I've mentioned already, but they all hinge on you being a self-aware being in order to understand them. If you aren't a self-aware being, then you have to reason to think they're true. If I wasn't a self-aware being, I wouldn't believe in anything subjective either.

    If you have to relate consciousness to something you already know, call it a property. That's not as inherently false as calling it an object and thus claiming that an object allows an object to be conscious of other objects and sending yourself into that pattern of circular logic that's at the base of physicalism.

    I have to admit, I was a physicalist for a long time, simply grew up that way without thinking about it. After all, it's not like people normally think about the fact that everything they observe including thoughts themselves must automatically be being observed by something.

    Once I'd had a class in philosophy and came across Thomas Nagel's (20th century american atheist philosopher) disproof of it, I thought about it more and realized that while physicalism is true from the normal perspective there remains another aspect to existence which is proven by the act of observation of the physical but which can't really be studied since as said before it'd be like an eyeball trying to figure out how to look at itself.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2002
  15. Bambi itinerant smartass Registered Senior Member

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    Hoth,

    I'll just start by dispelling a notion you seem to have. I have also taken several philosophy classes in college. Philosophy was actually one of my minors. And although by now I don't remember most of the names or technical terms, the general ideas are still fresh in my mind. So there's no need to preach to me like I was some ignoranimus not aware of the underlying issues.

    As a matter of fact, I'm the one preaching to you here -- but this time because I really do have a reason to suspect that you do not understand the concept of information. Now...

    Originally posted by Hoth

    I recall saying that there is no clear line separating subjectivity from objectivity. That is because any "objective" judgement is still made by you -- a subjective source. At the same time, your very existence is as objective a fact as any other; you cannot say that one's concept of self-existence is somehow limited in perspective and therefore could be wrong.

    Not true. The moment is instantaneous, spanning a time interval of precisely 0 length. If you didn't depend on the past, you wouldn't be able to form a single sentence, speak a single word, utter a single sound, or in general do anything at all.

    Ahh, but what sort of existence? The existence of that thought? How do you know that you exist? Sure, you can claim that your thoughts exist. Your percepts exist. But what about you? Here's where the blur between the objective and the subjective should be entering the picture.

    I do not argue against the self. It's the differentiation from the universe that I don't accept. Reach deeper.

    Don't be too rash embracing thought experiments as the golden brick road to the truth. If a thought experiment involves false premises or fails to account for crucial features of the actual universe, then the thought experiment is worthless. Worse yet, thought experiments have no inherent way of being verifiable or falsifiable.

    You don't understand the concept of information, and you don't understand the concept of algorithm. Your DNA is an algorithm. A living cell is an algorithm. e=mc^2 is an algorithm. An algorithm is any one of an infinity of ways that an input can be mapped to an output.

    Moreover, anything at all that's in your head (any idea, concept, percept, etc.) is part of your world and therefore exists in it at least in terms of its representation within your mind. Your mind is part of your world as well, as are typically the objects you perceive (unless you're hallucinating.)

    Gee, if you're so convinced of those proofs, then what is this you said in that very same post:


    ... who knows, it might be possible to have a conscious computer, that was never a potential I denied


    Are we now claiming that computation is not a physical process?

    But the logic is only circular when it's devoid of any point of origin. As it happens, percepts are the point of origin. And not only of the "physicalist" logic, but of all concepts you ever had or will have. In the light of which, you don't view your position as even a little hypocritical?

    Remember those few jabs I took at you in my previous post as to the nature or intentionality of information? That information does not gain or loose anything based merely on whether it is observed or not? Information is a state. Insomuch as your existence is a state and your mind consists of states, you (yes, the conscious you) are composed of states. You are information. And your brain is the information processor that continually updates you (the information) by modifying some of your states through both internal feedback and external (sensory) input.
     
  16. Hoth Registered Senior Member

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    I recall saying that there is no clear line separating subjectivity from objectivity. That is because any "objective" judgement is still made by you -- a subjective source. At the same time, your very existence is as objective a fact as any other; you cannot say that one's concept of self-existence is somehow limited in perspective and therefore could be wrong.

    Total agreement there, I couldn't explain it better myself. As you say, everything is subjective to me, including what I call objective. I should probably be more careful in talking about things being objective... what I mean is that which we generally consider to be external, even though we only experience it as internal.

    Not true. The moment is instantaneous, spanning a time interval of precisely 0 length. If you didn't depend on the past, you wouldn't be able to form a single sentence, speak a single word, utter a single sound, or in general do anything at all.

    I agree that you can't actually have a thought or anything resembling what we think of as existence within an instant. However, if you hold that you exist then you must also exist in each of those instants. An infinite series of instants make up what you're calling existence, so you're going to have to say that existence does in some way relate to those individual instants.

    Ahh, but what sort of existence? The existence of that thought? How do you know that you exist? Sure, you can claim that your thoughts exist. Your percepts exist. But what about you? Here's where the blur between the objective and the subjective should be entering the picture.

    Blur between my ideas of subjective and objective might be a better way of putting it.

    The only way to answer the question of self-existence, so far as I know, is to define yourself. I define "self" as being the percepts.

    Certainly you'll never get anywhere if you don't have a definition of yourself... but the good side is that you can't really be wrong in choosing a definition so long as it's correct from the perspective of what you've just defined to be you. (Kind of an inherent linguistic accuracy... G.E. Moore would love it.)

    I do not argue against the self. It's the differentiation from the universe that I don't accept. Reach deeper.

    I can see what you mean if you think of it like this: we only experience one universe. That experience contains everything that I keep annoyingly referring to as the external objective world (recklessly thinking of that as differentiated from the universe I exist in, even though I'm perceiving it within my own universe), as well as what I'm calling internal. It's messy trying to figure out which to call objective and which to call subjective.

    The problem here is, it make the distinction between between a materialist and an idealist difficult. Or would the both be deluded people living in a single unified universe of a third type?

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    Don't be too rash embracing thought experiments as the golden brick road to the truth. If a thought experiment involves false premises or fails to account for crucial features of the actual universe, then the thought experiment is worthless. Worse yet, thought experiments have no inherent way of being verifiable or falsifiable.

    Logic is the only way to verify or falsify anything, be it sense data or thought experiments. You have to use logic to determine if you're seeing an optical illusion, a dream, or a real thing... and in the same way you have to use logic to determine if an argument is valid.

    That leads nicely to Martin Lehrer's so-called "killer" skeptical hypothesis of an alien species beaming beliefs into us from which he concludes, despite not believing his own premises, that the logic involved shows that there's no complete justification for anything we say we know and so we must instead turn to subjective probability. I'll post a thread on that in a day or two, should be interesting to look at, whether it be true or flawed.

    Your DNA is an algorithm

    Only given the existence of an observer. Here, I'm guilty of taking the objective perspective where it doesn't make sense I guess.

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    If there were no consciousness, the DNA would just be quarks or whatever those things are that make up string theory. It would be no more an algorithm without people there to observe the patterns and determine intent than the things we call random are algorithms. Consciousness is required for the concept of an algorithm to be attached to something.
    Of course, from the perspective of any of us, DNA is an algorithm.

    And yes I do understand algorithms, I've created lots of them in coding programs... but especially in computer science the distinction is drawn between developing an algorithm and the actual execution of the process. I'm familiar with how coding works and how programming languages rely on algorithms, how the and, or, xor, nor gates and that sort of stuff works... but when you send electricity through the processor that's physical implementation, and is only said to be an algorithm by the human observer.

    Are we now claiming that computation is not a physical process?

    See above. What a computer does is physical. The meaning we give to it, such as to say it's computing a math problem, relies on our perspective from outside of that. Mathematics is not a physical process (calculus doesn't do itself

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    ), instead it's a way of looking at physical processes.

    As far as consciousness, see the other thread I started for the explanation of the logical difference between the observed and the observer, I can't put it any clearer than I did there.

    As it happens, percepts are the point of origin.

    If I read you correctly, and you're not trying to say the percepts are among the things being observed as well as being the observer (which I would of course say is illogical), then it sounds like the difference here is I've used the term "consciousness" to describe what you're calling percepts. Would that be correct? If so, notice that the percepts themselves are unobservable. Use the term "nonphysical" to describe unobservable and we'd be in agreement... unless I've misinterpreted you.

    As far as information and consciousness being a state... yes, I guess that's about as well as we can hope to describe them.

    I'm not sure if you've drawn the mind vs. consciousness distinction as clearly as I would, and at points you seem to act as though you're conscious of the percipts, which I would say is false. (The brain logically deduces that they exist, there is no self-awareness on the part of anything, as I explained in the other thread.) Otherwise though, if I correctly understand the perspective you're coming from now then it sounds like it's pretty close to what I believe.

    Thanks, what you're saying looks a lot clearer now. Perspective is always messy, but if I'm seeing your perspective correctly now then it at least mostly makes sense to me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2002
  17. ssivakami Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    58
    Define God

    Sorry for barging in so late into the discussion (couldn't help it, since I joined this forum only today

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    )

    It will depend on what you mean by God.

    If you mean a personal God, then my answer would be No.
    If you mean God as in the sum total of the order in the universe, then Yes.
    If you mean a Primal Cause, then ... I dont know.

    - Sivakami.
     
  18. anna f Registered Member

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  19. imimim Registered Member

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    14
    do u think god exicsts?

    0 is god which is equal to infinite made by man
     
  20. Hermann Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    159
    anna f

    Thanks for your reply. I think there are many “believers” among “hard” scientists, but they hesitate to admit this.
    ---------------
    Everyone sees the world with his own eyes - my updated weltanschauung (philosophy of life) is described at: http://home.t-online.de/home/hraith/english.htm
     
  21. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,162
    You are all crazy...
    I'm the only "normal" here...

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    The Bible says that there is more than one God... but we should worship only that God.

    .
    .
    .
    What is reality?
    .
    .
    .
    If you put my glasses
    .
    .
    .
    Will you be able to see...?
    .
    .
    .
    I don't think so
    .
    .
    .

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    "Reality is what we make real for us."
    Nelson

    Blessings,
    Nelson
     
  22. Bambi itinerant smartass Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    309
    Hoth,

    Sorry to be so late in replying; I didn't have much time to until now.

    Great. Now the remainder of the road you need to take is the realization that what you perceive as "yourself" is not actually yourself -- it is a sensory input just like any other. IOW you are not perceiving the true states of your mind -- but rather some indirect and superficial synopsis of those states. A little bit like a computer OS recording its own CPU usage history.

    A series of instants is not adequate by itself; it must be an ordered sequence of instants -- i.e. you can't get away with discarding time and still maintaining a one-to-one correspondence between your model and reality.

    I am in complete agreement. So you see, just like photons impinging on your retinas eventually form a percept, so do the electrochemical signals arriving along certain feedback pathways within your brain. There is nothing contradictory about the brain perceiving a representation of its own state (i.e. "self-awareness".)

    There's nothing to be confused about

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    It's quite simple: the idealist position is inconsistent. Which leaves the materialist position as the only viable alternative.

    Logic is only a methodology. It is useless without premises. The premises, on the other hand, are useless without being grounded in reality (i.e. rooted in perception, perception being the only access to reality -- it's meaningless to compute in absense of any input.)

    DNA is an algorithm because given specific input it produces specific output. An observer is not necessary in order for such input-output mapping to occur. A tree falling in the woods is an algorithm too. And yes, sound is one of the outputs regardless of whether anyone is there to hear it.

    A physical implementation does not detract from the fact that it is an implemented algorithm. It performs input-output transformations, and that's good enough. Bottom line: it computes. Which is always the direction I'm trying to steer you in

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    This presupposes -- and unjustifiably so -- that "giving meaning" is not a physical process. Whereas in fact what we do is also computation -- we take input and update our internal states with it (possibly resulting in externalized output.)

    Of course calculus doesn't do itself -- we do it! We are information processors.

    That's not quite it. I would call a percept any information that serves as the input to that subset of your internal state machine which causes a report of the existence of said percepts (i.e. the "self".)
     
  23. Hoth Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    383
    I'm not going to go through responding to everything you said that I disagree with, since it's clear enough that every individual matter of disagreement is based on the basic disagreement about subjectivity. Namely, you don't think there is such a thing as the subjective distinguished from the objective. That's the basic issue in dispute.

    I did make a mistake before in saying that the best way is to reason out the existence of the subjective without appealing to science. Science actually does makes this logic much more clear, it seems. See http://www.sciforums.com/f35/s/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5554&perpage=20&pagenumber=2 . As explained there, time and space are illusions, they don't actually exist -- and theoretical physicists seem to agree on that. So, if nothing is actually there, why do we have this illusion of something being there? The simplest logical conclusion to draw is that the illusion is caused by perspective.

    Realize: the brain is a space-time object. From that fact it's clear that without perspective, the brain does not exist. That, quite simply, is why it's so nonsensical to say that perspective is produced by the brain. The cause of our illusion of space-time cannot be the brain, since the brain itself is part of the illusion. You cannot logically continue to argue that the brain produces that which makes it possible for the brain (as a space-time object) to actually exist. You have yourself in quite an illogical spot if you claim something is producing the precondition for its own existence. Rather, it's more rational to say the perspective which views the mind/brain is the cause of the illusion of space-time.

    There, in essence, is where science really does come in handy in showing subjectivity. Science can't directly observe the existence of perspective of course, but it can show that perspectives logically must exist in order for there to be an illusion of space-time.

    I realize I don't explain things particularly clearly, and I may not have been doing a very good job of explaining what subjectivity is, so I'll try to leave this to the experts. First, here's a quick summary of what subjectivity is about: http://www.ec3.com/Upperized/SELF.HTM It explains there exactly why it's so hard for people to grasp: "The empathy criterion constitutes a rhetorical blocking position ... that tends to keep us from thinking about subjectivity at all." Also mentioned in there: "never treat information as being real on its own; its only meaning is in its use by people." And the summary at the bottom there isn't bad either: "A 'self' is a mental model, and a mental model is a virtual machine over neural machinery operating in spacetime." Hopefully that gives you a better idea of the concept. (By the way, note that "the subjective" and "the perspective" mean essentially the exact same thing. Perspective is why there's subjective.)

    Now, to show the reason why the concept deserves attention and becomes a necessary concept, at a more normal level than that of viewing space-time as objectively unreal, I suggest reading Thomas Nagel as an introduction. Here's Nagel's most famous essay on the subject, titled "What is it Like to be a Bat?": http://www.silcom.com/~teragram/bat.html.

    The gist of it, which he explains much better than I, is that for physicalism to be true you must be able to objectively describe the experience of being something which you are not. Even if you were to mutate yourself into a bat, at that point you can still only describe what it's like for you to be a bat. It's not your task to become all things -- rather your task is to formulate a way in which you needn't be something or even be similar to it in order to describe what it is to be that creature. (In his example, the bat.)

    Nagel, the good philosopher that he is, refuses in this paper to end the debate and absolutely rule out the possibility of a new form of physicalism being created to address the problems. (After all, without debate philosophers are out of a job.

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    ) I would say he fails to see the more basic obvious level of the distinction, or perhaps just ignores it for this paper because he's trying to demonstrate subjectivity objectively, considering he's aiming the essay at an audience which doesn't yet understand anything nonobjective. He does however show that no current notion of physicalism is even remotely close to correct. Any reformulation will have to be changed enough that you won't recognize it -- sort of like a grand unified theory of forces in physics, except perhaps much more fundamentally impossible for various reasons, including the fact that without perspective the universe can no longer seem to exist. (The fascinating thing about space-time being illusion isn't the universe not really existing, it's how the universe can despite that seem to exist... which is all about perspective.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2002

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