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    Thread: What is consciousness?

    1. #51
      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      So you think if the earth were a conscious actor, it would know where an event such as a hurricane would transpire? Or perhaps the next mutation in the evolution of a species?
      If the Earth were somehow conscious and could understand everything that went on within it's atmosphere and knew all that would affect it outside of it's atmosphere then yes that is how it would be. It could not be any other way.
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    2. #52
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      If the Earth were somehow conscious and could understand everything that went on within it's atmosphere and knew all that would affect it outside of it's atmosphere then yes that is how it would be. It could not be any other way.
      Well if anything conscious knew everything then there would be no uncertainty regardless of humans or other actors.
      'What is war?...In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable' - John Bright

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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Well if anything conscious knew everything then there would be no uncertainty regardless of humans or other actors.
      Take that logic back one step. If anything conscious knew everything about just this moment, it could know everything about every subsequent moment.
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      Take that logic back one step. If anything conscious knew everything about just this moment, it could know everything about every subsequent moment.
      Which is impossible because of the infinite amount of variables.
      'What is war?...In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable' - John Bright

    5. #55
      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Which is impossible because of the infinite amount of variables.
      That doesn't change the fact that the course of those variables only has one potential outcome. Like my created universe analogy, nothing that will happen won't happen. If that sounds tautological, it is because it is. It is the simplest explanation of determinism and it is why it is not a philosophy as much as a way the universe works.
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      DuB
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Really? Then pray tell how do the laws of physics explain why I buy chocolate ice cream?
      I said it is in principle possible, not that it is currently possible given our current state of scientific knowledge, and certainly not that I could personally provide an answer to such a question in any case. The best I or anyone can do is to describe what such an answer would look like. It would be to explain your decision in terms of particular patterns of neural activity, to explain those patterns of neural activity in terms of cell biology, to explain the workings of the cells in terms of chemical processes, and to explain those chemical processes in terms of physical laws. In this way, the explanation for your decision would ultimately be founded in physical laws.

      As for where we currently stand in our ability to provide such an explanation--we can barely explain most decisions in terms of psychology, let alone neuroscience and the increasingly reductive levels, so it's safe to say that if we are ever able to achieve such a state of scientific knowledge at all, it certainly will not be soon. However, the point apparently bears repeating that this view only states that such an explanation is possible in principle, even if it cannot or will not ever be provided by humans.

      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Yes, there is a difference between the natural sciences and the social sciences in terms of methodology and philosophical outlooks.
      That's a truism and it's clearly not what I asked about. We've established that scientists commonly approach these types of questions in different ways and that we are currently unable to provide a satisfactory bridge between the two, but what I want to know is whether you believe (a) that the sort of explanation I described above is possible in principle, even if not by us now or in the future, or (b) that no such explanation is possible even in principle, presumably because human psychology operates independently of physical laws (or if for a different reason than this, please explain the reason).

    7. #57
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      Do adress this partially and to address laughing man, uncertainty only exists insomuch as we are ignorant. If we knew everything about the universe as it is right now, we could predict everything. So uncertainty is inherent in HUMANS. There is no discernable reason I can see that would make it uncertain as a principle.

      If built upon axioms then Quantum Mechanics are built upon the same standards as mathematics. So Quantum Mechanics must admit that 1+1=2, so 1+2=3, so 1+3=4, etc. etc. etc. 1+1=3 will never be true and should quantum mechanics think it is possible, quantum mechanics would become a load of rubbish. As far as macro vs. micro scopic predictability, microscopic particles interact with each other the same way that macroscopic particles interact with each other. Micro may 'appear' more random because it is tougher to observe and there are more variables we have yet to comprehend. But microscopic particles interact with one another. A proton doesn't wake up one day and decide, 'I am going to act independant of the universe, work outside of stimulu, and do things contrary to what my various interactions with other particles would suggest!' To suggest that microscopic particles interact with one another in a totally random manner as opposed to macro particles is to suggest such a thing.

      Look at it like this. Assume that the universe was layed out a certain way 20 billion years ago by me. (In this analogy I have unlimited cosmic power, okay?) That includes the positioning of any astral forces if they exist, any spiritual beings, whatever. It doesn't matter. Everything is in a certain fashion with certain energies and forces already in motion. I make another universe that is identical to the first in every singal way, including likes to metauniverse and metaphysical stuff should any of those be real. In fact, I make an infinite number of those perfectly identical universe. To deny determinism is to suggest that, at this moment 20 billion years after I made all these universes, the various universes will have variations and be different. (SPOILER ALERT: They will be exactly the same in every way.)
      I am aware of what determinism entails; but again, you are still just making assertions. Not one of your statements was actually a logical argument against probability: you just gave me lots of different ways of asserting 'it is impossible'.

      'The various universes will be different; this is impossible.'

      'Microscopic particles interacting in a manner different to macroscopic particles is impossible.'

      'It is possible to know everything about the universe.'

      You're just using macroscopic axioms again. A couple of other things you should be aware of:

      Mathematics is also built upon axioms, and these axioms cannot be proven; in general, they are based on empirical observation of how the world functions. Sometimes it is not clear whether an axiom is correct or not, in which case different and contradictory axioms are assumed, creating different mathematics. Famous examples of this are Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries, and the axiom of choice. The degree to which the resultant mathematics will resemble the real world depends on how well the original axioms resembled the real world.

      The second thing is that quantum physics does not lack causes, per se. As in determinism, all events affect other events by altering the probabilities of future events, and this happens in a precise manner; the wave function is an exact and deterministic object.

    8. #58
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      That doesn't change the fact that the course of those variables only has one potential outcome. Like my created universe analogy, nothing that will happen won't happen. If that sounds tautological, it is because it is. It is the simplest explanation of determinism and it is why it is not a philosophy as much as a way the universe works.
      How can you make such a comment when you don't even know how many variables there are in the first place?
      'What is war?...In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable' - John Bright

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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      I said it is in principle possible, not that it is currently possible given our current state of scientific knowledge, and certainly not that I could personally provide an answer to such a question in any case. The best I or anyone can do is to describe what such an answer would look like. It would be to explain your decision in terms of particular patterns of neural activity, to explain those patterns of neural activity in terms of cell biology, to explain the workings of the cells in terms of chemical processes, and to explain those chemical processes in terms of physical laws. In this way, the explanation for your decision would ultimately be founded in physical laws.
      So my cells desire chocolate ice cream? What creates this desire?

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      As for where we currently stand in our ability to provide such an explanation--we can barely explain most decisions in terms of psychology, let alone neuroscience and the increasingly reductive levels, so it's safe to say that if we are ever able to achieve such a state of scientific knowledge at all, it certainly will not be soon. However, the point apparently bears repeating that this view only states that such an explanation is possible in principle, even if it cannot or will not ever be provided by humans.
      We absolutely can describe the explanations of our decisions in relation to our ends. Why do we choose eating ice cream over scorpions? Subjective social utility derived from preferences. I eat chocolate ice cream because I derive social utility from it. My ultimate goal and the goal of all others is to achieve a state of eudiamonia in which we flourish as an individual. Such a flourishing can be under the guise of many facets such as a notable intelligence, a high standard of living, a state of bliss etc. Why do you go to school? To get a job. Why do you get a job? To be financially secure. Why do you want to be financially secure? Because it ensures the ability to achieve goals that allow for happiness which is eudiamonia. There is one ultimate goal for each of us and our preferences are an instrumental or constitutive means to achieving that ultimate goal.

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      That's a truism and it's clearly not what I asked about. We've established that scientists commonly approach these types of questions in different ways and that we are currently unable to provide a satisfactory bridge between the two, but what I want to know is whether you believe (a) that the sort of explanation I described above is possible in principle, even if not by us now or in the future, or (b) that no such explanation is possible even in principle, presumably because human psychology operates independently of physical laws (or if for a different reason than this, please explain the reason).
      I think human action does act independently from physical laws and when I say this I don't mean to infer that we don't have the concept of gravity therefore it doesn't apply. I don't think that something like the law of thermodynamics gives any hints as to why I like cold weather or that the law of gravity can explain how I arrive at the concept of beauty. Psychology is apart of the social sciences therefore the methodology of the natural sciences doesn't apply to it just like the methodology of the social sciences doesn't apply to the natural sciences. Let me give an example so you can better understand. The historian looks at Alexander the Great and tries to envision himself in the mind of such an individual. Why did Alexander do what he did? What was the objective? etc. Now if a scientist were to throw a rock across the room, would he put himself in the mindset of a rock? Would he ask what the rock's goal is? Why the rock is doing what it is doing?
      'What is war?...In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable' - John Bright

    10. #60
      DuB
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      So my cells desire chocolate ice cream? What creates this desire?
      If you want to advance an actual argument I'll think about responding to it.

      If not...
      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      I think human action does act independently from physical laws
      So human action is magic?

      Gee, this style of arguing is really easy! That hardly took any thought at all.

      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      We absolutely can describe the explanations of our decisions in relation to our ends. Why do we choose eating ice cream over scorpions? Subjective social utility derived from preferences.
      This is no different from Moliere's doctor who "explained" why opium makes one sleepy by referring to its "dormitive virtue." Neither you nor the doctor have explained anything at all.
      Last edited by DuB; 10-14-2010 at 09:31 AM.
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    11. #61
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      Even if there was no beginning of time, it wouldn't matter. What will happen will happen. Everything that happens was effected by something previous to it. Determinism is a basic truth. It's fact.
      I agree with this.

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    12. #62
      Xei
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      On what logical basis? Read my response to spockman, you're just making assertions.

      And what about the first event?

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      There are two elements to every thing, that things material difference and that things form. Neither form, nor material difference is a thing.
      One cannot predicate of either of these. One cannot predicate a form i.e. limit beginning of a material difference. Or a material difference of a form.

      One cannot predicate of first principles, i.e. these two elements. All one can do is use them to construct things with. They are givens. All else is constructed.

      No rational person asks for the limit of a material difference, when that is the topic, it does not have one. Time qua time has neither beginning nor end. The same holds true for space, for example, only a moron would say that space bends, or that time is different from time, that it can slow down or speed up.

      The ability to manipulate first principles in thought is a prerequisite to any rational discourse. Consult Plato, one of the better two element metaphysicians. Or the Elements of Euclid. The point (boundary) is that which has no part (difference). These are givens and neither can be predicated of the other. Predication is the inverse function of abstraction. Therefore we bring together these two in order to make some one thing. Logic is a craft, and with it we craft.

      Demanding that someone be irrational is an irrational demand.

      Plato's Parmenides is written so that the reader can learn the consequence of not being able to understand the principles of predication. The results is gibberish. The most vulernable times of irrational thought is when we have the same name for a thing, that things form, and that things material difference. Thought becomes impossible.
      Last edited by Philosopher8659; 10-14-2010 at 04:32 PM.

    14. #64
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      On what logical basis? Read my response to spockman, you're just making assertions.

      And what about the first event?
      On the basis that I tl'dr'ed this thread. All I'm saying is that I think determinism stands a shot, at least as far as human decisions are made.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Mario92 View Post
      On the basis that I tl'dr'ed this thread. All I'm saying is that I think determinism stands a shot, at least as far as human decisions are made.
      Yes, it does, but determinism is not opposed to the function of the human mind, i.e. responsibility of choice. Cause and effect are real, but the function of the human mind is craft, and craftmen do have varying degrees of ability. However, because there is causality, it does not mean that the human mind is devoid of function. As I said, they are in no wise opposed. Using causality to negate a causal relationship is irrational, for thought, and the responsibility of choice is causally effected.

      To turn to causality to discredit the the human mind is as rational as using it to discredit the digestive system, or the respiratory system.

      Determinism as a false method of denying responsiblity of judgment is a very old method of arguing. The most popular is religion, manifest destiny, divine right, etc. it echos in various forms throughout history.

      Consciousness is a causal relationship, but so is unconciousness. This does not mean that either is superfluous or that there is no distinction between the two.

      The human mind can produce something or nothing. Plato distinguished the difference between doing what one pleases, and willing something. Will is a product of the human mind, in accordance with its function. Doing what one pleases is the results of a dysfunctional mind--lack of performance.

      virtue and vice as well as good and evil are based on the same distinction. The mind has a job to do, in order to maintain and promote the life of the body. As a living organism, causality for us is a great deal more involved than that of being a rock--one has a recognition of responsibility for its existence, the other has no recognition at all.

      In regard to human will, Plato, the Judeo-Christian Scripture, and the definition of an environmental acquisition system all agree, human will is a very specific product of very specific functions. This is its causality. It is far more involved than the simple animation of the human body.
      Last edited by Philosopher8659; 10-14-2010 at 05:35 PM.

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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Xei, you say my statements are just thrown out there, but there is a logic behind it. It is the principle that once a chain of events is set into motion, (and everything that occurs in the universe is an eventof some sort,) each event no matter how large or small is affected by a previous event. It is this assertion that all of my claims are based on. Things don't just happen because they want to and nothing exists that is independant from the universe, nothing happens that is independant of every other force. (The word universe here means the totality of all things.) You either believe in determinism or you think that things can just sort of happen without being the result of something previous, (which is total nonsense to me,) or else you are deluding yourself. No one in this entire argument has brought up an alternative to those first two choices. Should someone provide a fourth option and it is valid and not just a sub-set of one of those two, I am more than willing to retract that statement. If you can provide a real alternative, I am ready to listen. Until then, I will go with choice A.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Philosopher8659 View Post
      Yes, it does, but determinism is not opposed to the function of the human mind, i.e. responsibility of choice. Cause and effect are real, but the function of the human mind is craft, and craftmen do have varying degrees of ability. However, because there is causality, it does not mean that the human mind is devoid of function. As I said, they are in no wise opposed. Using causality to negate a causal relationship is irrational, for thought, and the responsibility of choice is causally effected. etc etc etc
      Not entirely sure what you're saying in entirety, but I think I agree in the point I think you're making in that we should still hold humans accountable for their actions, regardless of whether they have genuine free will or not.

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      In Platonic terms, nobody errs willingly. This seems like a mystery to many, but it is based on the fact that human will is a product of reason, and reason is a causal relationship. So too is the inability to reason, but that is not the function of the mind, but dysfunction.

      This result is in agreement with Plato, Scripture, and the definition of mind. I just cannot fault it.

      Actually, it gets quite mystic in scripture, as it is how the whore becomes a virgin. The error is not a product of human will, judgment. It is also how the dead come to life. It is simply biological definition. Thinking in accordance with definition provides a lot of material to create mythology based on fact.

      One cannot blame the lame for not being able to walk, nor can you blame the mentally dysfunctional for their behavior. All correction that is correct, is based on helping the lame to walk, and the mentally dysfunctional to think. It is not about evening scores.

      Or, in old metaphore, making the lame walk, and the blind to see, and resurrecting the dead.

      Let he among you who has not sinned cast the first stone. This goes with the metaphor, I am the only rock. It means truth--that which does not change. The real meaning of stoning someone to death is then compatable with thou shall not kill. Reasoning brings agreement in function, to have life and to have it more abundantly. Otherwise, there is only death. By definition and fact.
      Last edited by Philosopher8659; 10-14-2010 at 10:55 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      If you want to advance an actual argument I'll think about responding to it.
      Well I'm asking if you think human cells desire chocolate ice cream. Can't really make an argument if you refuse to set the perimeters in which we argue.

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      If not...So human action is magic?
      Not at all. Human action is the purposeful application of means to ends. You will have to explain how the oppose of a natural law of science is 'magic.'


      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      This is no different from Moliere's doctor who "explained" why opium makes one sleepy by referring to its "dormitive virtue." Neither you nor the doctor have explained anything at all.
      Well if you are saying that physician can diagnose the side effects of a chemical then that is apart of chemistry which is apart of the natural sciences and therefore different from the social sciences. I think it was Plato who said that that a doctor can tell you how to be healthy but not whether you should be.
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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Not at all. Human action is the purposeful application of means to ends. You will have to explain how the oppose of a natural law of science is 'magic.'
      magic: any art that invokes supernatural powers

      supernatural: Of or relating to existence outside the natural world. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      magic: any art that invokes supernatural powers

      supernatural: Of or relating to existence outside the natural world. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
      Human action is apart of the natural world. It is just not governed by the laws of physics.
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    22. #72
      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Human action is apart of the natural world. It is just not governed by the laws of physics.
      And thus, magic. Magic is invoking the supernatural. The supernatural means outside of natural laws. Thus, if humans exist outside of natural laws, we are in the same class of being as Chimeras and Wizards. Besides, I have reason to believe human action IS guided by the laws of physics. Our brain chemistry has been proven to affect our actions and our personalities have been tied to genetics and such. Besides, why we should act differently on a fundamental level then every other animal? I have a logic based reason for me opinion. What reason could you have for believing that certain things about people are guided by physics and certain things aren't?
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Human action is apart of the natural world. It is just not governed by the laws of physics.
      Which brings us to: why are humans so special that they get to defy the laws of physics? Humans aren't special. We are one life form on one mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Our actions and thoughts are just as subject to the universal laws of physics as anything else.

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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      And thus, magic. Magic is invoking the supernatural. The supernatural means outside of natural laws. Thus, if humans exist outside of natural laws, we are in the same class of being as Chimeras and Wizards. Besides, I have reason to believe human action IS guided by the laws of physics. Our brain chemistry has been proven to affect our actions and our personalities have been tied to genetics and such. Besides, why we should act differently on a fundamental level then every other animal? I have a logic based reason for me opinion. What reason could you have for believing that certain things about people are guided by physics and certain things aren't?
      There isn't just the laws of science in the world. There are laws of logic and axioms. You will also have to explain how chemistry is a law of physics, especially brain chemistry. If you believe this then you think we are slaves to our emotions which is absurd. If ever we have a rise in sexual attraction towards another, why don't we simply act instantly upon that emotion? Why do we hold back when we are angry?
      'What is war?...In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable' - John Bright

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      Quote Originally Posted by Mario92 View Post
      Which brings us to: why are humans so special that they get to defy the laws of physics? Humans aren't special. We are one life form on one mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Our actions and thoughts are just as subject to the universal laws of physics as anything else.
      It is not that humans defy the laws of physics, it that human action is not understood or view through the laws of physics. So far no one has pointed to a single law of physics and how it explains human action.
      'What is war?...In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable' - John Bright

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