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Re: Relationship of conscious to subconscious

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  • Paul Wakfer
    My apologies for taking so long to respond. I have been immersed in other work, which I do not want to publicly disclose right now, but will in the near
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 23 9:13 PM
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      My apologies for taking so long to respond.
      I have been immersed in other work, which I do not want to publicly
      disclose right now, but will in the near future.

      On 03/08/2012 04:22 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
      > Meta
      > This is a part of an ongoing email exchange that Daniel and I were
      > having, which I asked Daniel to post here before next response
      > because I thought that members of the group might be interested and
      > might even benefit from the exchange.
      >
      > Because Daniel's email program will not do correct formatting, this
      > required extensive editing which is the reason for the delay between
      > his posting date and release time from the MoreLife Yahoo queue.
      > /Meta
      >
      > On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 5:01 PM, Paul Wakfer wrote:
      >
      >> On 01/22/2012 10:08 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
      >>> On Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 9:38 PM, Paul Wakfer
      >>>> On 01/02/2012 04:28 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
      >>>>> On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 8:12 PM, Paul Wakfer wrote:
      >>>>>> On Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 1:10 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
      >>>>>>> During my last year of college, I spent a significant amount of
      >>>>>>> time thinking about what the most important thing I could do
      >>>>>>> with my life might be, and settled on life-extension research.
      >>>>>>
      >>>>>> I would be interested to learn what you had read that led you to
      >>>>>> that conclusion and your reasons for it at that time.
      >>>>>>
      >>>>> This wasn't actually influenced significantly by many things
      >>>>> that I read. I had recently read Peter Singer's The Life You Can
      >>>>> Save, which is probably best described as "pop philosophy" and
      >>>>> is not at all rigorous, but which essentially put me in a
      >>>>> mindset of 'you can change the world through your consciously
      >>>>> chosen actions.' I've since found that Branden makes this point
      >>>>> more explicitly. The only other thing that I had read which was
      >>>>> particularly related to my decision was a brief paragraph
      >>>>> describing biological engineering in my Rice book of course
      >>>>> offerings. That left me with the impression that, if I (or
      >>>>> others) were to focus on biological research with the intention
      >>>>> of enhancing human life, a great deal of good might be done.
      >>>>> I've believed that technology could do a great deal to enhance
      >>>>> and lengthen human lives since I was little, though.
      >>>>>
      >>>>> My decision to work on life extension research was not one that
      >>>>> I made with a great deal of confidence, simply because I didn't
      >>>>> see anyone else drawing the same conclusions, but it was based
      >>>>> on logic. I didn't want to die, and science at least had a
      >>>>> chance to help me stay alive, so I decided to pursue that
      >>>>> science. I was a bit more extreme in my stance then than I am
      >>>>> now: at that point I believed that a life that ended in death
      >>>>> had not been worth living, as it would not be remembered (this
      >>>>> is based on the premise that death results in oblivion, among
      >>>>> others; I have always had a difficult time formulating some of
      >>>>> those others).
      >>>>
      >>>> The only one who can decide whether or not your life is or has
      >>>> been worth living is you. To be concerned about whether or not
      >>>> you are remembered is not self-directed, but rather purely
      >>>> other oriented. That having been said, since my major creative
      >>>> work is for the purpose of promoting and achieving a
      >>>> stateless. self-ordered society of total liberty and greatly
      >>>> increased freedom, I am concerned that at the present stage of
      >>>> understanding and acceptance of my work it will be all lost
      >>>> and the effort put into it will have gone for naught if I were
      >>>> to actually die soon. Of course, being both a life
      >>>> extensionist and a cryonicist, I have no intention of actually
      >>>> dying for a very long time to come, even though I may have to
      >>>> enter a state of suspended life for a lengthy period several
      >>>> decades from now.
      >>>
      >>> I should have been more clear in my phrasing -- I meant that my
      >>> concern was that, once I was dead, I myself would not have any
      >>> memory of my own life.
      >> But the facts are even stronger than that. Once dead, there would be
      >> no active or ever active mind that is a continuer of the current you
      >> to have any memories at all nor any other human attributes/concerns.
      >
      > I agree with this -- the facts are as strong as you say. The main
      > point I meant to convey was that I ultimately will not remember my
      > own life, which is relevant to a point I'll make soon in this email.

      No. You still don't seem to understand. It is logically incorrect (and
      therefore meaningless) to say "I ultimately will not remember my own
      life" when at the time of the verb (remember) the pronoun (I) no longer
      exists to be an actor relative to that verb. Unless, you get Alzheimer's
      or some other memory dysfunction, then you *will* remember your past
      life as long as you exist - which is all that really counts.
      Daniel, you need to be more careful when constructing sentences to
      ensure that they have meaning. The English language is so very flexible
      that it is actually quite easy to construct sentences which have the
      appearance of meaning (because they are structurally similar to some
      that are meaningful), but which actually have no meaning at all.

      >>> In the same way that the dreams I have at night seem arbitrary and
      >>> meaningless because I do not remember them,
      >>
      >> Whether you consciously remember your dreams or not is not highly
      >> relevant to whether or not they are arbitrary, meaningless and
      >> mentally unimportant (all of which I am strongly convinced are
      >> false). They can still have all the attributes of non-arbitrariness,
      >> meaningfulness and importance wrt your subconscious, without any
      >> conscious memory. But I have another question: if you truly never
      >> remember your night dreams, then how do you even know that you have
      >> any?
      >
      > I haven't given much thought to dreaming or read any scientific
      > literature about it,

      Then I highly recommend that you do, since it is an important part of
      life and can help one understand how the brain operates.

      > but I agree with your point that my lack of conscious memory of my
      > dreams is not sufficient to make them arbitrary, meaningless, or
      > mentally unimportant.
      >
      > I do at times remember my night dreams, which would be the way I
      > know that I have any. I'll leave major discussion of skepticism to
      > the MoreLife thread, but depending on one's standards of knowledge,
      > even such memories might not be enough to demonstrate that I did
      > indeed have dreams.

      If you describe what you think is a memory of a dream in essentially the
      same general terms as everyone else describes it, then whatever the
      cause of that effect on you that you are describing with that word "dream"
      applies to it just as much as it does to anyone else - therefore by
      definition it was a dream. No more or less rigorous a standard of
      knowledge will affect the correctness of this.

      > If one's standards are rigorous enough, one will never "know"
      > anything (with the apparent contradiction that one "knows" that one
      > knows nothing, which I do not take to be a serious philosophical
      > issue, though it likely merits more thought).

      I won't say anything more here than the statement that no one ever
      "knows" anything about reality, in the sense of certainty of knowledge
      (as opposed to knowledge of meta reality which is basically all
      tautological such as 1+1=2). All that one can say about any statement
      regarding reality is that one has a certain degree of conviction that it
      is true (ie it is probably true with a certain probability number assigned).

      > The main point I meant to make here was that, all other things being
      > equal, if I had the option to continue "dreaming" (such that I would
      > continue to receive its subconscious benefits) without consciously
      > experiencing my dreams, I would not have much of a preference either
      > way.

      If there are benefits to be had, then it makes no sense to not have a
      preference to gain them.

      > Since I do not remember the conscious experience of the dreams, it
      > feels as if that conscious experience may as well never have happened.

      You don't directly "feel" most of the benefits of food that you eat
      either, but that does not mean that you do not still prefer to eat more
      beneficial food given that the conscious pleasure from it is equivalent
      to some less beneficial food.

      > If we make a principle out of this, to the tune of "forgetting
      > something makes it not worth having experienced in the first place,"

      That would be a very silly principle, since there is so much of life to
      which it would be totally inconsistent.

      > that could then be applied to life, given that life ends in oblivion.

      But as I explained before, this is not "forgetting"; this is
      non-existence which is something totally different and can logically
      have no effect on the enjoyment of living. The only effect that the
      possibility of oblivion can have is that long-range planning for one's
      future happiness will logically be limited.

      > I suppose this is not a good philosophy to hold, though. At least I
      > can enjoy myself while I am alive.

      Now you are thinking!

      > It does not seem rational to me to refuse to take pleasure in
      > anything that is not eternal -- not only because that would be
      > wildly impractical, but because there is no reason to hold that
      > standard in the first place.

      Exactly. So why did you even bring up such a silly notion?

      [Perhaps Daniel has heard/read this idea somewhere and is simply reviewing it here and has reached the conclusion that "there is no reason to hold that standard" - very reasonable. **Kitty]

      >>> life itself would perhaps be arbitrary.
      >>
      >> If you want to think that all of existence is arbitrary and
      >> pointless then I certainly cannot logically argue against you. All
      >> that I can do is give a practical and consistency-seeking response.
      >> What is the value in holding such notions as valid?
      >
      > Throughout my life, I haven't weighed beliefs (convictions?) based
      > on their value to me, but rather based on their truth, in as
      > absolute a sense as possible. This may have been the wrong approach.

      It depends somewhat on the nature of the conviction. If it is a
      conviction directly about reality (about things that are measurable)
      then it is correct to base it only on the standards of evidence for its
      validity. However the types of statements that you have been throwing
      out here are not statements directly about reality, but rather
      statements about meta-reality - about non-measurable attributes of
      things in reality and their relationships. These are not the types of
      statements that one can test by producing evidence for or against and
      therefore, they are essentially indeterminable (even when meaningful -
      which always has to first be carefully shown).

      >> If you really acted on such thoughts then you would not be alive
      >> right now to be having this discussion. Since you don't intend to
      >> adhere rigorously to such nihilistic notions (or we would not be
      >> having this discussion), then you must value your life somewhat and
      >> since you do, then practically, why not operate to optimize that
      >> value?
      >
      > This last is an especially good point. I still eat food; when I
      > want to drive somewhere, I use my car, but not when the fuel tank
      > is empty; and so on. There isn't much point in interacting with the
      > world half-heartedly, while essentially refusing to take pleasure
      > in it on account of some various imperfections. Given that I am
      > finding some value in life, I ought to optimize that value.

      You also ought to try to correct some of the imperfections, at least
      to have such correction as a desire, even if it appears such an
      impossible task that you are not likely to succeed - if you remain
      open to desiring the change, who knows, some more achievable method
      or amount of correction may come along.

      >>> That was the gist of the argument I had in mind. (Granted, dreams
      >>> could be considered arbitrary for other reasons, too.)
      >>
      >> Much recent neurological research suggests that dreams are not
      >> arbitrary.
      >>
      >>> Out of curiosity, do you (Paul) consider your own concern about
      >>> your work being lost to be irrational? I just mean in the sense
      >>> that you described: that it isn't oriented at yourself.
      >>
      >> Good point! I am glad to see your analytical ability enabled you to
      >> spot my error of phrasing (because I haven't fully and totally
      >> eliminated irrationalities which I held earlier in life - and are
      >> highly expressed in current society, but which I no longer logically
      >> hold). I should have phrased it as follows: "...of my work I will
      >> not have actually maximally increased my lifetime happiness because
      >> all my efforts in this regard will not have born fruition (will not
      >> have succeeded according to my own evaluation) before the end of my
      >> life, were to actually die soon".
      >> But you are correct. As originally stated, it was inconsistent with
      >> my other statements regarding rational thinking re actual death (as
      >> opposed to cryopreservation with the possibility of restoration to
      >> fully functional life).
      >>
      >> The problem with thinking about self-orientedness wrt my SelfSIP
      >> work is that the very essence and purpose of the basic approach is
      >> that it is necessary for a person to be other-oriented in a certain
      >> way in order to be self-oriented. As you will see when you read and
      >> understand the ideas of Social Meta-Needs and their implementation
      >> operations, any possibility of maximizing one's own Lifetime
      >> Happiness in human society must necessarily entail efforts to help
      >> everyone else maximize hir own Lifetime Happiness. This is why my
      >> short slogan is "All for one, and one for all". This necessarily
      >> leads to other-orientedness, but only as that benefits self, rather
      >> than harming self (as it would in any consistent altruism).
      >
      > I think I understand this already, without having yet finished
      > reading your Theory of Social Meta-Needs; a life lived in complete
      > isolation would surely not optimize one's own happiness, and
      > treating others poorly (even with any morals/ethics aside) would
      > also not be conducive to optimizing one's own happiness.

      Good!

      >>>>> Now, I'm less concerned about that, because, so long as I'm
      >>>>> dead, I won't know or care that I am no longer alive. That
      >>>>> keeps death from being something that I find terrifying. I
      >>>>> still do prefer life, of course.
      >>>>
      >>>> I'm pleased to see that you have come to realize that -
      >>>> something which I too realized fully sometime in my 20s. Since
      >>>> that time I have always made a strong distinction between
      >>>> being afraid to die (which I am not), and very much wanting to
      >>>> continue to live (which I certainly do). But still better
      >>>> said: once you no longer exist, it matters not what is
      >>>> happening in the world. That is why cryonics gives one a very
      >>>> different attitude toward life and death - because a
      >>>> cryonicist has hopefully not ceased to exist when
      >>>> cryopreserved (only will s/he retroactively have ceased to
      >>>> exist if s/he cannot be restored to functional life and/or any
      >>>> possibility of that is ended).
      >>>
      >>> This is an interesting idea: retroactively ceasing to exist. I'm
      >>> not sure what field this would fall into (metaphysics?), but I
      >>> think of it differently. To me, a person who is cryogenically
      >>> preserved no longer exists (that is, his/her mind no longer
      >>> exists), but that mind has the potential to exist again. In that
      >>> way, if he/she is not resuscitated, then the potential is lost but
      >>> nothing happens retroactively. Granted, I'm probably wading very
      >>> deep into philosophical waters that I do not fully understand by
      >>> tossing around the notion of a nonexistent mind with the
      >>> "potential" to exist. Can a nonexistent entity be said to have
      >>> potential? Perhaps something that does not exist cannot have any
      >>> characteristic of any kind, and potential might be dubbed a
      >>> characteristic.
      >>
      >> Although your first thought might seem quite reasonable, in the end
      >> you have essentially described why it is not.
      >> The best metaphor that I know is to think of the mind/brain as like
      >> a computer. When a human's brain is cryopreserved it is like the
      >> computer power is off - just as the data and programs still exist on
      >> the permanent memory of the computer, so too does the software of
      >> the mind still exist as neuronal chemicals and synaptic
      >> interconnections in the cryopreserved brain. All that is lacking is
      >> the ability of the mind to process that software/data (BTW, with
      >> respect to a mind/brain, any distinction between data and programs
      >> is still very far from clear).
      >> The reason why the non-existence of the mind must necessarily be
      >> retroactive is that until everything possible has been tried to get
      >> the power back on for a given brain/mind, it is premature to say
      >> that the fidelity of mind software archive is insufficient to enable
      >> its reboot and therefore the original brain/mind is truly dead.
      >> Again the computer metaphor can be applied to the situation where
      >> the permanent storage has been damaged to such a state that the
      >> original data/programs are effectively lost/destroyed.
      >
      > It still seems very metaphysically strange to me that an entity
      > could retroactively cease to exist,

      I think that your problem is one of the way you are expressing it. The
      entity does not retroactively cease to exist. Rather it is determined
      that at some time in the past the entity stopped existing. However that
      determination could not be made until some time after the existence
      actually ended. The other problem is that it is not really an "entity"
      which ceases to exist, but rather the capability or attributes of the
      brain which would have enabled the original mind to function, but at
      some point in the past lost that capability/attribute.

      > but I don't have any specific issues with anything you've written
      > here. I think this would make the most sense if we define
      > "potential" not as something that an entity truly possesses in a
      > metaphysical sense, but rather as something that humans assign to
      > that entity as a matter of convenience -- kind of like we say that
      > a coin has a 50% chance of landing "heads" when it's flipped, even
      > though the precise forces acting on the coin ought to give it either
      > a 100% chance or a 0% chance of landing on heads. It's just that
      > those forces are not sufficiently known to us, so we need to assign
      > probabilities. Likewise, we simply don't know whether a person's
      > consciousness will be rebooted from a frozen brain, so we say that
      > the person's mind "potentially" exists -- that there is a nonzero
      > probability that he/she will be resuscitated in the future. I would
      > not find it strange for us to retroactively remove such a potential,
      > just as we might look back and say, "ah, apparently that coin was
      > certain to land on heads."

      You have made an excellent description of the situation. The only
      thing that I would change is that no one retroactively removes any
      potential. One simply determines at some point in time that a brain
      no longer has such potential and one does not know exactly when or
      how that lack of potential occurred - just as in retrospect one may
      not be able to look back at all the factors involved and be certain
      of having the full determining factors for the coin having landed
      heads.

      --Paul
    • Daniel Kimbel
      Hi Paul (& all), ... No problem -- and sorry I haven t gotten back to you until the weekend. ... This is true, and I do understand. There is no I to be
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 29 3:27 PM
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        Hi Paul (& all),

        On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 9:13 PM, Paul Wakfer <paul@...> wrote:

        > ** My apologies for taking so long to respond.
        > I have been immersed in other work, which I do not want to publicly
        > disclose right now, but will in the near future.

        No problem -- and sorry I haven't gotten back to you until the weekend.

        > On 03/08/2012 04:22 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
        > > Meta
        > > This is a part of an ongoing email exchange that Daniel and I were
        > > having, which I asked Daniel to post here before next response
        > > because I thought that members of the group might be interested and
        > > might even benefit from the exchange.
        > >
        > > Because Daniel's email program will not do correct formatting, this
        > > required extensive editing which is the reason for the delay between
        > > his posting date and release time from the MoreLife Yahoo queue.
        > > /Meta
        > >
        > > On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 5:01 PM, Paul Wakfer wrote:
        > >
        > >> On 01/22/2012 10:08 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
        > >>> On Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 9:38 PM, Paul Wakfer
        > >>>> On 01/02/2012 04:28 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
        > >>>>> On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 8:12 PM, Paul Wakfer wrote:
        > >>>>>> On Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 1:10 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
        > >>>>>>> During my last year of college, I spent a significant amount of
        > >>>>>>> time thinking about what the most important thing I could do
        > >>>>>>> with my life might be, and settled on life-extension research.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>> I would be interested to learn what you had read that led you to
        > >>>>>> that conclusion and your reasons for it at that time.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>> This wasn't actually influenced significantly by many things
        > >>>>> that I read. I had recently read Peter Singer's The Life You Can
        > >>>>> Save, which is probably best described as "pop philosophy" and
        > >>>>> is not at all rigorous, but which essentially put me in a
        > >>>>> mindset of 'you can change the world through your consciously
        > >>>>> chosen actions.' I've since found that Branden makes this point
        > >>>>> more explicitly. The only other thing that I had read which was
        > >>>>> particularly related to my decision was a brief paragraph
        > >>>>> describing biological engineering in my Rice book of course
        > >>>>> offerings. That left me with the impression that, if I (or
        > >>>>> others) were to focus on biological research with the intention
        > >>>>> of enhancing human life, a great deal of good might be done.
        > >>>>> I've believed that technology could do a great deal to enhance
        > >>>>> and lengthen human lives since I was little, though.
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>> My decision to work on life extension research was not one that
        > >>>>> I made with a great deal of confidence, simply because I didn't
        > >>>>> see anyone else drawing the same conclusions, but it was based
        > >>>>> on logic. I didn't want to die, and science at least had a
        > >>>>> chance to help me stay alive, so I decided to pursue that
        > >>>>> science. I was a bit more extreme in my stance then than I am
        > >>>>> now: at that point I believed that a life that ended in death
        > >>>>> had not been worth living, as it would not be remembered (this
        > >>>>> is based on the premise that death results in oblivion, among
        > >>>>> others; I have always had a difficult time formulating some of
        > >>>>> those others).
        > >>>>
        > >>>> The only one who can decide whether or not your life is or has
        > >>>> been worth living is you. To be concerned about whether or not
        > >>>> you are remembered is not self-directed, but rather purely
        > >>>> other oriented. That having been said, since my major creative
        > >>>> work is for the purpose of promoting and achieving a
        > >>>> stateless. self-ordered society of total liberty and greatly
        > >>>> increased freedom, I am concerned that at the present stage of
        > >>>> understanding and acceptance of my work it will be all lost
        > >>>> and the effort put into it will have gone for naught if I were
        > >>>> to actually die soon. Of course, being both a life
        > >>>> extensionist and a cryonicist, I have no intention of actually
        > >>>> dying for a very long time to come, even though I may have to
        > >>>> enter a state of suspended life for a lengthy period several
        > >>>> decades from now.
        > >>>
        > >>> I should have been more clear in my phrasing -- I meant that my
        > >>> concern was that, once I was dead, I myself would not have any
        > >>> memory of my own life.
        > >> But the facts are even stronger than that. Once dead, there would be
        > >> no active or ever active mind that is a continuer of the current you
        > >> to have any memories at all nor any other human attributes/concerns.
        > >
        > > I agree with this -- the facts are as strong as you say. The main
        > > point I meant to convey was that I ultimately will not remember my
        > > own life, which is relevant to a point I'll make soon in this email.
        >
        > No. You still don't seem to understand. It is logically incorrect (and
        > therefore meaningless) to say "I ultimately will not remember my own
        > life" when at the time of the verb (remember) the pronoun (I) no longer
        > exists to be an actor relative to that verb. Unless, you get Alzheimer's
        > or some other memory dysfunction, then you *will* remember your past
        > life as long as you exist - which is all that really counts.
        > Daniel, you need to be more careful when constructing sentences to
        > ensure that they have meaning. The English language is so very flexible
        > that it is actually quite easy to construct sentences which have the
        > appearance of meaning (because they are structurally similar to some
        > that are meaningful), but which actually have no meaning at all.

        This is true, and I do understand. There is no "I" to be remembering
        anything once I'm dead (or to be doing anything else), so that sentence is
        as meaningless as "the magical invisible dragon won't remember me when I'm
        dead." There are meaningful sentences that convey what I intended to
        convey, though, like "I will cease to exist" or "my conscious experience
        will end."

        I'm beginning to have a deeper understanding of the importance of sentence
        construction. I recently listened to audio of a debate between Aubrey de
        Grey and Colin Blakemore, the former head of the MRC, Britain's equivalent
        of the NIH. Most of Blakemore's arguments, and some of the questions from
        the audience, were not at all sensible. This wasn't an issue with sentence
        construction per se, but it drove home the idea that sloppy thinking leads
        to terribly warped (and, in the sense of survival, downright dangerous)
        conclusions. As a side note: that debate happened about a week ago, and
        complete video of it is online now at
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVnn2bcFcnU and
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkBdbF5yEho.

        > >>> In the same way that the dreams I have at night seem arbitrary and
        > >>> meaningless because I do not remember them,
        > >>
        > >> Whether you consciously remember your dreams or not is not highly
        > >> relevant to whether or not they are arbitrary, meaningless and
        > >> mentally unimportant (all of which I am strongly convinced are
        > >> false). They can still have all the attributes of non-arbitrariness,
        > >> meaningfulness and importance wrt your subconscious, without any
        > >> conscious memory. But I have another question: if you truly never
        > >> remember your night dreams, then how do you even know that you have
        > >> any?
        > >
        > > I haven't given much thought to dreaming or read any scientific
        > > literature about it,
        >
        > Then I highly recommend that you do, since it is an important part of
        > life and can help one understand how the brain operates.

        I've yet to read specifically about dreaming, but I have begun to read
        about cognitive science, and I agree that its insights are useful.

        > > but I agree with your point that my lack of conscious memory of my
        > > dreams is not sufficient to make them arbitrary, meaningless, or
        > > mentally unimportant.
        > >
        > > I do at times remember my night dreams, which would be the way I
        > > know that I have any. I'll leave major discussion of skepticism to
        > > the MoreLife thread, but depending on one's standards of knowledge,
        > > even such memories might not be enough to demonstrate that I did
        > > indeed have dreams.
        >
        > If you describe what you think is a memory of a dream in essentially the
        > same general terms as everyone else describes it, then whatever the
        > cause of that effect on you that you are describing with that word "dream"
        > applies to it just as much as it does to anyone else - therefore by
        > definition it was a dream. No more or less rigorous a standard of
        > knowledge will affect the correctness of this.

        I'm not sure I agree entirely with this, as I understand it. A standard of
        knowledge doesn't affect the correctness of assertions -- I agree with
        that. Assertions objectively are or aren't right, given the existence of
        objective reality, which a person more or less has to accept. My problem is
        with how we would know whether an assertion objectively was or wasn't right
        (as each of us can only access our own mind's perception of reality). Given
        that we're taking a practical approach to life, though -- building a
        philosophy with the explicit purpose of maximizing one's own total lifetime
        happiness -- then I think that your standard of knowledge (other people
        describing such and such phenomenon in "essentially the same general
        terms") is reasonable. My issues would really only come up if we were
        discussing a philosophy that was trying to be as rigorous as possible: a
        philosophy in pursuit of some form of certainty. I'm seeing more clearly
        that there isn't really any *point* in pursuing such a philosophy, though,
        as it is futile.

        > > If one's standards are rigorous enough, one will never "know"
        > > anything (with the apparent contradiction that one "knows" that one
        > > knows nothing, which I do not take to be a serious philosophical
        > > issue, though it likely merits more thought).
        >
        > I won't say anything more here than the statement that no one ever
        > "knows" anything about reality, in the sense of certainty of knowledge
        > (as opposed to knowledge of meta reality which is basically all
        > tautological such as 1+1=2). All that one can say about any statement
        > regarding reality is that one has a certain degree of conviction that it
        > is true (ie it is probably true with a certain probability number
        > assigned).

        I'm glad to see that you agree with this -- I think we're both discussing
        this with an eye to practicality. As a tangent, I'd be interesting to hear
        your thoughts about certainty of knowledge in "meta reality." I have myself
        thought that radical skepticism, taken to its extremes, would not even
        acknowledge the certainty of mathematical facts like 1+1=2.

        I like the idea of degrees of conviction very much. I'm often annoyed when
        people say that science has "proven" something, and even a touch annoyed
        when people say that something has been "disproven." The latter seems more
        rational to me in a practical sense -- any assertion about reality, even
        one that results from an inference, can be disproven to a degree extremely
        near to certainty. The same cannot be said for proving the truth of an
        assertion; we do not approach certainty as closely when we use our
        observations to confirm inferences we have made about the world (e.g. "all
        swans are white").

        That actually raises a quick side-note: Paul, do you consider there to be
        degrees of rationality? Can an action, conviction, or anything else be
        partly rational, or is it either completely rational or irrational? If you
        consider something to be rational if it is conducive to the maximization of
        one's total lifetime happiness, which is the definition I've been running
        with, I suppose this would be black and white: something either would or
        would not be rational. That is not to say that rational actions would in
        some sense be perfect: due to incomplete knowledge, a person might
        rationally take some action that turned out not to maximize his/her
        lifetime happiness after all, but I would not consider that to make the
        action irrational (though it might make repeating the action irrational).

        > > The main point I meant to make here was that, all other things being
        > > equal, if I had the option to continue "dreaming" (such that I would
        > > continue to receive its subconscious benefits) without consciously
        > > experiencing my dreams, I would not have much of a preference either
        > > way.
        >
        > If there are benefits to be had, then it makes no sense to not have a
        > preference to gain them.

        Right -- what I meant was that, if the experience of dreaming were severed
        from the benefits, I would not care whether or not I had the experience,
        because I don't remember that experience after I wake up. I suppose that
        the experience still counts for something, though, as I did in fact have it.

        > > Since I do not remember the conscious experience of the dreams, it
        > > feels as if that conscious experience may as well never have happened.
        >
        > You don't directly "feel" most of the benefits of food that you eat
        > either, but that does not mean that you do not still prefer to eat more
        > beneficial food given that the conscious pleasure from it is equivalent
        > to some less beneficial food.
        >
        > > If we make a principle out of this, to the tune of "forgetting
        > > something makes it not worth having experienced in the first place,"
        >
        > That would be a very silly principle, since there is so much of life to
        > which it would be totally inconsistent.

        I don't agree that such a statement can be inconsistent with life. It can
        be inconsistent with the maximization of one's total lifetime happiness
        (and it is), but I don't consider the maximization of one's happiness to be
        in any way inherently connected to life -- just to be an apparently optimal
        way to interpret and navigate the experience of life. (Coming back to this
        later: I think I see the opposing point. I am using "life" to refer to a
        human experience. If we take it as axiomatic that humans pursue their own
        happiness, then such a principle would be inconsistent with life.)

        > > that could then be applied to life, given that life ends in oblivion.
        >
        > But as I explained before, this is not "forgetting"; this is
        > non-existence which is something totally different and can logically
        > have no effect on the enjoyment of living. The only effect that the
        > possibility of oblivion can have is that long-range planning for one's
        > future happiness will logically be limited.

        Yes, I see how the argument breaks down, given the incoherence of the
        statement that a dead person might remember or not remember anything. I'm
        interested by your statement that nonexistence can logically have no effect
        on the enjoyment of living. I suppose you mean that logic dictates this
        after a person accepts some certain set of premises (related to maximizing
        one's own happiness)? (Also coming back to this later -- if you take those
        premises to be axiomatic, as I'd just mentioned earlier in this email, then
        indeed, logic would dictate that a person's happiness ought not to be
        inhibited by the fact that people eventually cease to exist.)

        > > I suppose this is not a good philosophy to hold, though. At least I
        > > can enjoy myself while I am alive.
        >
        > Now you are thinking!
        >
        > > It does not seem rational to me to refuse to take pleasure in
        > > anything that is not eternal -- not only because that would be
        > > wildly impractical, but because there is no reason to hold that
        > > standard in the first place.
        >
        > Exactly. So why did you even bring up such a silly notion?
        >
        > [Perhaps Daniel has heard/read this idea somewhere and is simply reviewing
        > it here and has reached the conclusion that "there is no reason to hold
        > that standard" - very reasonable. **Kitty]

        I brought it up because, in the past, it was on my mind. I don't believe I
        heard it or read it anywhere, but rather thought about it myself, in high
        school or college. But I do agree, given that a person uses reason with a
        specific purpose -- the maximization of that person's total lifetime
        happiness -- he/she will have no reason to hold that standard.

        > >>> life itself would perhaps be arbitrary.
        > >>
        > >> If you want to think that all of existence is arbitrary and
        > >> pointless then I certainly cannot logically argue against you. All
        > >> that I can do is give a practical and consistency-seeking response.
        > >> What is the value in holding such notions as valid?
        > >
        > > Throughout my life, I haven't weighed beliefs (convictions?) based
        > > on their value to me, but rather based on their truth, in as
        > > absolute a sense as possible. This may have been the wrong approach.
        >
        > It depends somewhat on the nature of the conviction. If it is a
        > conviction directly about reality (about things that are measurable)
        > then it is correct to base it only on the standards of evidence for its
        > validity. However the types of statements that you have been throwing
        > out here are not statements directly about reality, but rather
        > statements about meta-reality - about non-measurable attributes of
        > things in reality and their relationships. These are not the types of
        > statements that one can test by producing evidence for or against and
        > therefore, they are essentially indeterminable (even when meaningful -
        > which always has to first be carefully shown).

        I have a question based on this. Would you consider it rational for a
        person to hold certain convictions about meta-reality that had no
        evidential support, but which make that person happy? I suppose that I
        would not consider this rational, because this conviction would almost
        certainly affect the person's behavior in ways that would not be conducive
        to his or her maximization of his/her total lifetime happiness. An example
        would be the belief that the universe was out to help a person ("pronoia,"
        the opposite of paranoia). This person would presumably have certain
        expectations based on his/her "pronoid" beliefs that would be likely to
        lead to disappointment, if not danger.

        > >> If you really acted on such thoughts then you would not be alive
        > >> right now to be having this discussion. Since you don't intend to
        > >> adhere rigorously to such nihilistic notions (or we would not be
        > >> having this discussion), then you must value your life somewhat and
        > >> since you do, then practically, why not operate to optimize that
        > >> value?
        > >
        > > This last is an especially good point. I still eat food; when I
        > > want to drive somewhere, I use my car, but not when the fuel tank
        > > is empty; and so on. There isn't much point in interacting with the
        > > world half-heartedly, while essentially refusing to take pleasure
        > > in it on account of some various imperfections. Given that I am
        > > finding some value in life, I ought to optimize that value.
        >
        > You also ought to try to correct some of the imperfections, at least
        > to have such correction as a desire, even if it appears such an
        > impossible task that you are not likely to succeed - if you remain
        > open to desiring the change, who knows, some more achievable method
        > or amount of correction may come along.

        This wouldn't only give me a chance to actually make some particular
        positive change, but may be important given the facts of human psychology.
        I've frequently read and heard about the importance of "living with a
        purpose."

        > >>> That was the gist of the argument I had in mind. (Granted, dreams
        > >>> could be considered arbitrary for other reasons, too.)
        > >>
        > >> Much recent neurological research suggests that dreams are not
        > >> arbitrary.
        > >>
        > >>> Out of curiosity, do you (Paul) consider your own concern about
        > >>> your work being lost to be irrational? I just mean in the sense
        > >>> that you described: that it isn't oriented at yourself.
        > >>
        > >> Good point! I am glad to see your analytical ability enabled you to
        > >> spot my error of phrasing (because I haven't fully and totally
        > >> eliminated irrationalities which I held earlier in life - and are
        > >> highly expressed in current society, but which I no longer logically
        > >> hold). I should have phrased it as follows: "...of my work I will
        > >> not have actually maximally increased my lifetime happiness because
        > >> all my efforts in this regard will not have born fruition (will not
        > >> have succeeded according to my own evaluation) before the end of my
        > >> life, were to actually die soon".
        > >> But you are correct. As originally stated, it was inconsistent with
        > >> my other statements regarding rational thinking re actual death (as
        > >> opposed to cryopreservation with the possibility of restoration to
        > >> fully functional life).
        > >>
        > >> The problem with thinking about self-orientedness wrt my SelfSIP
        > >> work is that the very essence and purpose of the basic approach is
        > >> that it is necessary for a person to be other-oriented in a certain
        > >> way in order to be self-oriented. As you will see when you read and
        > >> understand the ideas of Social Meta-Needs and their implementation
        > >> operations, any possibility of maximizing one's own Lifetime
        > >> Happiness in human society must necessarily entail efforts to help
        > >> everyone else maximize hir own Lifetime Happiness. This is why my
        > >> short slogan is "All for one, and one for all". This necessarily
        > >> leads to other-orientedness, but only as that benefits self, rather
        > >> than harming self (as it would in any consistent altruism).
        > >
        > > I think I understand this already, without having yet finished
        > > reading your Theory of Social Meta-Needs; a life lived in complete
        > > isolation would surely not optimize one's own happiness, and
        > > treating others poorly (even with any morals/ethics aside) would
        > > also not be conducive to optimizing one's own happiness.
        >
        > Good!
        >
        > >>>>> Now, I'm less concerned about that, because, so long as I'm
        > >>>>> dead, I won't know or care that I am no longer alive. That
        > >>>>> keeps death from being something that I find terrifying. I
        > >>>>> still do prefer life, of course.
        > >>>>
        > >>>> I'm pleased to see that you have come to realize that -
        > >>>> something which I too realized fully sometime in my 20s. Since
        > >>>> that time I have always made a strong distinction between
        > >>>> being afraid to die (which I am not), and very much wanting to
        > >>>> continue to live (which I certainly do). But still better
        > >>>> said: once you no longer exist, it matters not what is
        > >>>> happening in the world. That is why cryonics gives one a very
        > >>>> different attitude toward life and death - because a
        > >>>> cryonicist has hopefully not ceased to exist when
        > >>>> cryopreserved (only will s/he retroactively have ceased to
        > >>>> exist if s/he cannot be restored to functional life and/or any
        > >>>> possibility of that is ended).
        > >>>
        > >>> This is an interesting idea: retroactively ceasing to exist. I'm
        > >>> not sure what field this would fall into (metaphysics?), but I
        > >>> think of it differently. To me, a person who is cryogenically
        > >>> preserved no longer exists (that is, his/her mind no longer
        > >>> exists), but that mind has the potential to exist again. In that
        > >>> way, if he/she is not resuscitated, then the potential is lost but
        > >>> nothing happens retroactively. Granted, I'm probably wading very
        > >>> deep into philosophical waters that I do not fully understand by
        > >>> tossing around the notion of a nonexistent mind with the
        > >>> "potential" to exist. Can a nonexistent entity be said to have
        > >>> potential? Perhaps something that does not exist cannot have any
        > >>> characteristic of any kind, and potential might be dubbed a
        > >>> characteristic.
        > >>
        > >> Although your first thought might seem quite reasonable, in the end
        > >> you have essentially described why it is not.
        > >> The best metaphor that I know is to think of the mind/brain as like
        > >> a computer. When a human's brain is cryopreserved it is like the
        > >> computer power is off - just as the data and programs still exist on
        > >> the permanent memory of the computer, so too does the software of
        > >> the mind still exist as neuronal chemicals and synaptic
        > >> interconnections in the cryopreserved brain. All that is lacking is
        > >> the ability of the mind to process that software/data (BTW, with
        > >> respect to a mind/brain, any distinction between data and programs
        > >> is still very far from clear).
        > >> The reason why the non-existence of the mind must necessarily be
        > >> retroactive is that until everything possible has been tried to get
        > >> the power back on for a given brain/mind, it is premature to say
        > >> that the fidelity of mind software archive is insufficient to enable
        > >> its reboot and therefore the original brain/mind is truly dead.
        > >> Again the computer metaphor can be applied to the situation where
        > >> the permanent storage has been damaged to such a state that the
        > >> original data/programs are effectively lost/destroyed.
        > >
        > > It still seems very metaphysically strange to me that an entity
        > > could retroactively cease to exist,
        >
        > I think that your problem is one of the way you are expressing it. The
        > entity does not retroactively cease to exist. Rather it is determined
        > that at some time in the past the entity stopped existing. However that
        > determination could not be made until some time after the existence
        > actually ended. The other problem is that it is not really an "entity"
        > which ceases to exist, but rather the capability or attributes of the
        > brain which would have enabled the original mind to function, but at
        > some point in the past lost that capability/attribute.

        I see this now; I was misusing "retroactively." We would conclude in the
        present that something had happened in the past; nothing in the past would
        have been triggered by something in the present, and hence nothing happened
        retroactively. Indeed, I don't believe that anything in reality could
        happen retroactively: the word is likely only useful for referring to
        man-made laws which have been decreed to have taken effect before they were
        made.

        > > but I don't have any specific issues with anything you've written
        > > here. I think this would make the most sense if we define
        > > "potential" not as something that an entity truly possesses in a
        > > metaphysical sense, but rather as something that humans assign to
        > > that entity as a matter of convenience -- kind of like we say that
        > > a coin has a 50% chance of landing "heads" when it's flipped, even
        > > though the precise forces acting on the coin ought to give it either
        > > a 100% chance or a 0% chance of landing on heads. It's just that
        > > those forces are not sufficiently known to us, so we need to assign
        > > probabilities. Likewise, we simply don't know whether a person's
        > > consciousness will be rebooted from a frozen brain, so we say that
        > > the person's mind "potentially" exists -- that there is a nonzero
        > > probability that he/she will be resuscitated in the future. I would
        > > not find it strange for us to retroactively remove such a potential,
        > > just as we might look back and say, "ah, apparently that coin was
        > > certain to land on heads."
        >
        > You have made an excellent description of the situation. The only
        > thing that I would change is that no one retroactively removes any
        > potential. One simply determines at some point in time that a brain
        > no longer has such potential and one does not know exactly when or
        > how that lack of potential occurred - just as in retrospect one may
        > not be able to look back at all the factors involved and be certain
        > of having the full determining factors for the coin having landed
        > heads.

        Right, same as earlier -- I misused "retroactively."


        >
        > --Paul
        >

        Daniel
      • Francois
        meta I changed the subject because this reply does not relate to the previous subject. The message is late being released from the queue because we were
        Message 3 of 7 , May 4, 2012
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          meta
          I changed the subject because this reply does not relate to the previous subject.

          The message is late being released from the queue because we were
          enroute from Arizona to Ontario. (I forgot to state this at the top
          of the previous message.)
          /meta

          --Paul

          --- In morelife@yahoogroups.com, Daniel Kimbel <dkkimbel@...> wrote:
          > Hi Paul (& all),
          > On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 9:13 PM, Paul Wakfer <paul@...> wrote:
          >
          > > ** My apologies for taking so long to respond.
          > > I have been immersed in other work, which I do not want to publicly
          > > disclose right now, but will in the near future.
          >
          > No problem -- and sorry I haven't gotten back to you until the weekend.
          >
          > > On 03/08/2012 04:22 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
          <snip uncommented>

          > > > If one's standards are rigorous enough, one will never "know"
          > > > anything (with the apparent contradiction that one "knows" that one
          > > > knows nothing, which I do not take to be a serious philosophical
          > > > issue, though it likely merits more thought).
          > >
          > > I won't say anything more here than the statement that no one ever
          > > "knows" anything about reality, in the sense of certainty of knowledge
          > > (as opposed to knowledge of meta reality which is basically all
          > > tautological such as 1+1=2). All that one can say about any statement
          > > regarding reality is that one has a certain degree of conviction
          > > that it is true (ie it is probably true with a certain probability
          > > number assigned).
          >
          > I'm glad to see that you agree with this -- I think we're both discussing
          > this with an eye to practicality. As a tangent, I'd be interesting to
          > hear your thoughts about certainty of knowledge in "meta reality." I
          > have myself thought that radical skepticism, taken to its extremes, would
          > not even acknowledge the certainty of mathematical facts like 1+1=2.

          In fact, 1+1=2 was assumed to be true until the 19th century . Then some questions arise and mathematicians like Peano have built the ensemble of the positive integers by five axioms ( e.g. they define an operator s by s(n)= the successor of n and so s(n) is what we note commonly n+1 ). So this construction matches with the profane meaning and eliminates logical issues like "is 1+1=2 ?".
          This branch is called meta-mathematics; its aim is to insure that mathematics are well designed by defining the meta axioms on which a theory is built.
          It is, in fact, possible (and it has been done) to build another arithmetic with other axioms and other theorems (I've never looked into it).

          This is the same with geometry;
          there is a plain geometry theory: in it, there is only one line that goes through two points
          there is a spheric geometry: in it, two poles can be connected by an infinite number of "lines"

          It is usually admitted that current maths theories are consistent with themselves.

          So one has to choose/build the most adequate model regarding the facts that s/he wants to stress on.
          AFAIK, physics theories are consistent with themselves but the problem here is different: how do these theories adequate reality ?

          The relationships between theory and reality are very interesting.
          Historically, these have been studied since at least the 4th century BC and also by Galien (IInd century AD):
          So the community of scientists takes a part of facts from the infinite reality and builds a theory with this part. From this theory, they calculate/elaborate results and confront these results to reality.
          A theory can provide more right results, more powerful it is (this last sentence is translated from Google).
          The power of a theory is correlated with its capacities of predictability.

          Another issue is that:
          one can prove that a fact is impossible within a model, theoretically.
          But reality doesn't match theories.
          A century ago ,some physicians proved that it was impossible for a plane to fly !!
          So one cannot prove that something doesn't exist in reality.
          Facts are usually stubborn :-)

          I think that Paul would say that it is inferred from the facts that a theory is a meta reality (at least a 2-level meta reality since its aim is to organize facts, which are a 1- level reality used to describe the 0-level reality which is the very reality )
          possible ref: http://selfsip.org/solutions/NSC.html#existent

          Have a nice day
          Fran├žois

          <snip uncommented>
          > > --Paul
          > Daniel
        • Paul Wakfer
          meta Note that I have retitled using the new title, that I put on Francois response. /meta ... The latter is only meaningful as a subset of the former. But my
          Message 4 of 7 , May 14, 2012
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            meta
            Note that I have retitled using the new title, that I put on Francois' response.
            /meta

            On 04/29/2012 06:27 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
            > Hi Paul (& all),
            >
            > On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 9:13 PM, Paul Wakfer<paul@...> wrote:
            >
            >> ** My apologies for taking so long to respond.
            >> I have been immersed in other work, which I do not want to publicly
            >> disclose right now, but will in the near future.
            >
            > No problem -- and sorry I haven't gotten back to you until the weekend.
            >
            >> On 03/08/2012 04:22 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
            >>> Meta
            >>> This is a part of an ongoing email exchange that Daniel and I were
            >>> having, which I asked Daniel to post here before next response
            >>> because I thought that members of the group might be interested and
            >>> might even benefit from the exchange.
            >>>
            >>> Because Daniel's email program will not do correct formatting, this
            >>> required extensive editing which is the reason for the delay between
            >>> his posting date and release time from the MoreLife Yahoo queue.
            >>> /Meta
            >>>
            >>> On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 5:01 PM, Paul Wakfer wrote:
            >>>
            >>>> On 01/22/2012 10:08 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
            >>>>> On Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 9:38 PM, Paul Wakfer
            >>>>>> On 01/02/2012 04:28 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
            >>>>>>> On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 8:12 PM, Paul Wakfer wrote:
            >>>>>>>> On Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 1:10 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
            >>>>>>>>> During my last year of college, I spent a significant amount of
            >>>>>>>>> time thinking about what the most important thing I could do
            >>>>>>>>> with my life might be, and settled on life-extension research.
            >>>>>>>> I would be interested to learn what you had read that led you to
            >>>>>>>> that conclusion and your reasons for it at that time.
            >>>>>>>
            >>>>>>> This wasn't actually influenced significantly by many things
            >>>>>>> that I read. I had recently read Peter Singer's The Life You Can
            >>>>>>> Save, which is probably best described as "pop philosophy" and
            >>>>>>> is not at all rigorous, but which essentially put me in a
            >>>>>>> mindset of 'you can change the world through your consciously
            >>>>>>> chosen actions.' I've since found that Branden makes this point
            >>>>>>> more explicitly. The only other thing that I had read which was
            >>>>>>> particularly related to my decision was a brief paragraph
            >>>>>>> describing biological engineering in my Rice book of course
            >>>>>>> offerings. That left me with the impression that, if I (or
            >>>>>>> others) were to focus on biological research with the intention
            >>>>>>> of enhancing human life, a great deal of good might be done.
            >>>>>>> I've believed that technology could do a great deal to enhance
            >>>>>>> and lengthen human lives since I was little, though.
            >>>>>>>
            >>>>>>> My decision to work on life extension research was not one that
            >>>>>>> I made with a great deal of confidence, simply because I didn't
            >>>>>>> see anyone else drawing the same conclusions, but it was based
            >>>>>>> on logic. I didn't want to die, and science at least had a
            >>>>>>> chance to help me stay alive, so I decided to pursue that
            >>>>>>> science. I was a bit more extreme in my stance then than I am
            >>>>>>> now: at that point I believed that a life that ended in death
            >>>>>>> had not been worth living, as it would not be remembered (this
            >>>>>>> is based on the premise that death results in oblivion, among
            >>>>>>> others; I have always had a difficult time formulating some of
            >>>>>>> those others).
            >>>>>>
            >>>>>> The only one who can decide whether or not your life is or has
            >>>>>> been worth living is you. To be concerned about whether or not
            >>>>>> you are remembered is not self-directed, but rather purely
            >>>>>> other oriented. That having been said, since my major creative
            >>>>>> work is for the purpose of promoting and achieving a
            >>>>>> stateless. self-ordered society of total liberty and greatly
            >>>>>> increased freedom, I am concerned that at the present stage of
            >>>>>> understanding and acceptance of my work it will be all lost
            >>>>>> and the effort put into it will have gone for naught if I were
            >>>>>> to actually die soon. Of course, being both a life
            >>>>>> extensionist and a cryonicist, I have no intention of actually
            >>>>>> dying for a very long time to come, even though I may have to
            >>>>>> enter a state of suspended life for a lengthy period several
            >>>>>> decades from now.
            >>>>>
            >>>>> I should have been more clear in my phrasing -- I meant that my
            >>>>> concern was that, once I was dead, I myself would not have any
            >>>>> memory of my own life.
            >>>>
            >>>> But the facts are even stronger than that. Once dead, there would be
            >>>> no active or ever active mind that is a continuer of the current you
            >>>> to have any memories at all nor any other human attributes/concerns.
            >>>
            >>> I agree with this -- the facts are as strong as you say. The main
            >>> point I meant to convey was that I ultimately will not remember my
            >>> own life, which is relevant to a point I'll make soon in this email.
            >>
            >> No. You still don't seem to understand. It is logically incorrect (and
            >> therefore meaningless) to say "I ultimately will not remember my own
            >> life" when at the time of the verb (remember) the pronoun (I) no longer
            >> exists to be an actor relative to that verb. Unless, you get Alzheimer's
            >> or some other memory dysfunction, then you *will* remember your past
            >> life as long as you exist - which is all that really counts.
            >> Daniel, you need to be more careful when constructing sentences to
            >> ensure that they have meaning. The English language is so very flexible
            >> that it is actually quite easy to construct sentences which have the
            >> appearance of meaning (because they are structurally similar to some
            >> that are meaningful), but which actually have no meaning at all.
            >
            > This is true, and I do understand. There is no "I" to be remembering
            > anything once I'm dead (or to be doing anything else), so that sentence is
            > as meaningless as "the magical invisible dragon won't remember me when I'm
            > dead." There are meaningful sentences that convey what I intended to
            > convey, though, like "I will cease to exist" or "my conscious experience
            > will end."

            The latter is only meaningful as a subset of the former. But my answer
            to your more meaningful statement "at some time in the future, I will no
            longer exist" is "so what?" - what relevance has that future virtual
            certainty to anything that is taking place in the present and moreover
            to still having as one's purpose to optimize ones lifetime happiness? In
            fact, it has no more relevance than the other virtual certainty "at some
            time in the past I did not exist".

            > I'm beginning to have a deeper understanding of the importance of sentence
            > construction. I recently listened to audio of a debate between Aubrey de
            > Grey and Colin Blakemore, the former head of the MRC, Britain's equivalent
            > of the NIH. Most of Blakemore's arguments, and some of the questions from
            > the audience, were not at all sensible. This wasn't an issue with sentence
            > construction per se, but it drove home the idea that sloppy thinking leads
            > to terribly warped (and, in the sense of survival, downright dangerous)
            > conclusions.

            Exactly! A very important insight.

            > As a side note: that debate happened about a week ago, and
            > complete video of it is online now at
            > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVnn2bcFcnU and
            > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkBdbF5yEho.
            >
            >>>>> In the same way that the dreams I have at night seem arbitrary and
            >>>>> meaningless because I do not remember them,
            >>>>
            >>>> Whether you consciously remember your dreams or not is not highly
            >>>> relevant to whether or not they are arbitrary, meaningless and
            >>>> mentally unimportant (all of which I am strongly convinced are
            >>>> false). They can still have all the attributes of non-arbitrariness,
            >>>> meaningfulness and importance wrt your subconscious, without any
            >>>> conscious memory. But I have another question: if you truly never
            >>>> remember your night dreams, then how do you even know that you have
            >>>> any?
            >>>
            >>> I haven't given much thought to dreaming or read any scientific
            >>> literature about it,
            >>
            >> Then I highly recommend that you do, since it is an important part of
            >> life and can help one understand how the brain operates.
            >
            > I've yet to read specifically about dreaming, but I have begun to read
            > about cognitive science, and I agree that its insights are useful.

            Excellent!

            >>> but I agree with your point that my lack of conscious memory of my
            >>> dreams is not sufficient to make them arbitrary, meaningless, or
            >>> mentally unimportant.
            >>>
            >>> I do at times remember my night dreams, which would be the way I
            >>> know that I have any. I'll leave major discussion of skepticism to
            >>> the MoreLife thread, but depending on one's standards of knowledge,
            >>> even such memories might not be enough to demonstrate that I did
            >>> indeed have dreams.
            >>
            >> If you describe what you think is a memory of a dream in essentially the
            >> same general terms as everyone else describes it, then whatever the
            >> cause of that effect on you that you are describing with that word "dream"
            >> applies to it just as much as it does to anyone else - therefore by
            >> definition it was a dream. No more or less rigorous a standard of
            >> knowledge will affect the correctness of this.
            >
            > I'm not sure I agree entirely with this, as I understand it. A standard of
            > knowledge doesn't affect the correctness of assertions -- I agree with
            > that.

            That is not what I said at all and is incorrect. The validity of any
            assertion is specifically measured and determined relative to some
            standard of knowledge - for example the scientific method standard or
            the simple logical standard for the assertions about the elements of a
            meta-reality axiomatic system.

            > Assertions objectively are or aren't right, given the existence of
            > objective reality, which a person more or less has to accept.

            You are confused about the meaning of "objective reality". First all
            perceptions of reality are initially entirely subjective. Second these
            subjective perceptions become objectified only as they are described and
            communicated between individuals. Third this objectification is always
            limited and imperfect, so that anything about reality can only be
            objectified up to a certain confidence level. One does not "have to
            accept" any of this. One decides to accept it (to know it) with a
            certain confidence level relative to other such knowledge because doing
            so will enable one to aim to optimize one's lifetime Happiness.

            > My problem is
            > with how we would know whether an assertion objectively was or wasn't right
            > (as each of us can only access our own mind's perception of reality).

            One cannot initially know anything with any certainty, but the level of
            confidence increases directly with either one's interactions with others
            perceiving the same things or one's own continued and repeated
            perception of similar events. These are the methods by which all
            knowledge of reality is achieved from the earliest moments of one's
            existence.

            > Given
            > that we're taking a practical approach to life, though -- building a
            > philosophy with the explicit purpose of maximizing one's own total lifetime
            > happiness -- then I think that your standard of knowledge (other people
            > describing such and such phenomenon in "essentially the same general
            > terms") is reasonable. My issues would really only come up if we were
            > discussing a philosophy that was trying to be as rigorous as possible: a
            > philosophy in pursuit of some form of certainty.

            Certainty is an impossible ideal for statements about reality. It is
            only possible to asymptotically approach closer and closer to certainty.

            > I'm seeing more clearly
            > that there isn't really any *point* in pursuing such a philosophy, though,
            > as it is futile.

            It is futile because any such philosophy is essentially meaningless and
            therefore invalid with respect to reality.

            >>> If one's standards are rigorous enough, one will never "know"
            >>> anything (with the apparent contradiction that one "knows" that one
            >>> knows nothing, which I do not take to be a serious philosophical
            >>> issue, though it likely merits more thought).
            >>
            >> I won't say anything more here than the statement that no one ever
            >> "knows" anything about reality, in the sense of certainty of knowledge
            >> (as opposed to knowledge of meta reality which is basically all
            >> tautological such as 1+1=2). All that one can say about any statement
            >> regarding reality is that one has a certain degree of conviction that it
            >> is true (ie it is probably true with a certain probability number
            >> assigned).
            >
            > I'm glad to see that you agree with this -- I think we're both discussing
            > this with an eye to practicality. As a tangent, I'd be interesting to hear
            > your thoughts about certainty of knowledge in "meta reality." I have myself
            > thought that radical skepticism, taken to its extremes, would not even
            > acknowledge the certainty of mathematical facts like 1+1=2.

            That makes no sense, since meta-reality is entirely human defined,
            finite and totally tautological with respect to the validity of its
            statements. Given that the definitions and rules of operation there are
            self-consistent, all statements about it are either 100% true or 100%
            false, and consequentially all knowledge in meta-reality is absolute.

            [As I understand Paul's description of a useful meta-reality (as
            implied by the theory of SMN and actually defined in the NSC), in
            contrast with actual reality where everything is in shades of gray,
            everything in meta-reality is always black or white. **Kitty]

            > I like the idea of degrees of conviction very much. I'm often annoyed when
            > people say that science has "proven" something, and even a touch annoyed
            > when people say that something has been "disproven." The latter seems more
            > rational to me in a practical sense -- any assertion about reality, even
            > one that results from an inference, can be disproven to a degree extremely
            > near to certainty.

            This fact of easier and more certain disproof is because any general
            statement can be falsified by only one exception.

            > The same cannot be said for proving the truth of an
            > assertion; we do not approach certainty as closely when we use our
            > observations to confirm inferences we have made about the world (e.g. "all
            > swans are white").
            >
            > That actually raises a quick side-note: Paul, do you consider there to be
            > degrees of rationality? Can an action, conviction, or anything else be
            > partly rational, or is it either completely rational or irrational? If you
            > consider something to be rational if it is conducive to the maximization of
            > one's total lifetime happiness, which is the definition I've been running
            > with, I suppose this would be black and white: something either would or
            > would not be rational. That is not to say that rational actions would in
            > some sense be perfect: due to incomplete knowledge, a person might
            > rationally take some action that turned out not to maximize his/her
            > lifetime happiness after all, but I would not consider that to make the
            > action irrational (though it might make repeating the action irrational).

            No. I do not consider that any notion of partial rationality is valid.
            However, the problem with irrational (or with mistaken) actions is that
            the determination of their faulty quality cannot ever be made with
            certainty, because of the problem of incomplete knowledge and the
            impossibility of consideration of *all* possible actions. Note that I do
            differentiate between honest mistakes (errors) and irrational actions.
            You will need to read the SelfSIP NSC annotations (and perhaps some
            earlier Yahoo group messages) on that subject. I don't wish to try to
            regurgitate it here.

            >>> The main point I meant to make here was that, all other things being
            >>> equal, if I had the option to continue "dreaming" (such that I would
            >>> continue to receive its subconscious benefits) without consciously
            >>> experiencing my dreams, I would not have much of a preference either
            >>> way.
            >>
            >> If there are benefits to be had, then it makes no sense to not have a
            >> preference to gain them.
            >
            > Right -- what I meant was that, if the experience of dreaming were severed
            > from the benefits, I would not care whether or not I had the experience,
            > because I don't remember that experience after I wake up. I suppose that
            > the experience still counts for something, though, as I did in fact have it.

            Your clause "if the experience of dreaming were severed from the
            benefits" is false.
            By attempting to imagine and reason from an assumption which is not true
            (and likely cannot be), you are again being unrealistic and actually
            logically faulty. This appears to be something which you do often and
            need to stop, since trying to reason from unreal and likely impossible
            assumptions will get you no where but highly confused.
            This sort of hypothetical reasoning is far too common in academic
            philosophy courses even though it is logically fallacious (but the
            professors are either too stupid to know that or they get some depraved
            enjoyment from fooling young students) and, unfortunately, leads to
            nothing but confused young minds, such as yours.

            >>> Since I do not remember the conscious experience of the dreams, it
            >>> feels as if that conscious experience may as well never have happened.
            >>
            >> You don't directly "feel" most of the benefits of food that you eat
            >> either, but that does not mean that you do not still prefer to eat more
            >> beneficial food given that the conscious pleasure from it is equivalent
            >> to some less beneficial food.
            >>
            >>> If we make a principle out of this, to the tune of "forgetting
            >>> something makes it not worth having experienced in the first place,"
            >>
            >> That would be a very silly principle, since there is so much of life to
            >> which it would be totally inconsistent.
            >
            > I don't agree that such a statement can be inconsistent with life. It can
            > be inconsistent with the maximization of one's total lifetime happiness
            > (and it is), but I don't consider the maximization of one's happiness to be
            > in any way inherently connected to life -- just to be an apparently optimal
            > way to interpret and navigate the experience of life. (Coming back to this
            > later: I think I see the opposing point. I am using "life" to refer to a
            > human experience. If we take it as axiomatic that humans pursue their own
            > happiness, then such a principle would be inconsistent with life.)

            In your afterthought, you came to understand the way I was using the
            term "life" (as one's life, an individual's life, not "life" in
            general as in "there is life on that planet").
            All experiences have an effect on one's life (the present and future
            state of one's body and mind) - ie they are remembered by the body/mind,
            whether or not they are consciously remembered - ie they can be
            explicitly recalled and re-experienced in a virtual sense.

            >>> that could then be applied to life, given that life ends in oblivion.
            >>
            >> But as I explained before, this is not "forgetting"; this is
            >> non-existence which is something totally different and can logically
            >> have no effect on the enjoyment of living. The only effect that the
            >> possibility of oblivion can have is that long-range planning for one's
            >> future happiness will logically be limited.
            >
            > Yes, I see how the argument breaks down, given the incoherence of the
            > statement that a dead person might remember or not remember anything.

            Yes, and "incoherent" is an excellent word to apply to this type of statement.

            > I'm
            > interested by your statement that nonexistence can logically have no effect
            > on the enjoyment of living. I suppose you mean that logic dictates this
            > after a person accepts some certain set of premises (related to maximizing
            > one's own happiness)? (Also coming back to this later -- if you take those
            > premises to be axiomatic, as I'd just mentioned earlier in this email, then
            > indeed, logic would dictate that a person's happiness ought not to be
            > inhibited by the fact that people eventually cease to exist.)

            Current happiness is only logically affected by the fact of future
            non-existence, if one pursues goals that:
            1) bring little happiness during the striving for them and
            2) will only bring great happiness so far in the future that the likelihood of being alive to gain from that potential happiness is very low.
            I am personally very aware of this problem, because I tend to always
            work on very long range projects. However, as I have gotten older, I
            have learned that one must always design a project so that there is
            adequate happiness during all phases of its execution, or it is
            almost doomed to fail, since one will not be able to keep it up.

            >>> I suppose this is not a good philosophy to hold, though. At least I
            >>> can enjoy myself while I am alive.
            >>
            >> Now you are thinking!
            >>
            >>> It does not seem rational to me to refuse to take pleasure in
            >>> anything that is not eternal -- not only because that would be
            >>> wildly impractical, but because there is no reason to hold that
            >>> standard in the first place.
            >>
            >> Exactly. So why did you even bring up such a silly notion?
            >>
            >> [Perhaps Daniel has heard/read this idea somewhere and is simply reviewing
            >> it here and has reached the conclusion that "there is no reason to hold
            >> that standard" - very reasonable. **Kitty]
            >
            > I brought it up because, in the past, it was on my mind. I don't believe I
            > heard it or read it anywhere, but rather thought about it myself, in high
            > school or college.

            My compliments on the depth of your thinking and your concern for truth
            and understanding. I too had such thoughts when I was younger. It is
            part of my idea about the difference between "having a great desire to
            remain alive" (which I very much have) and "having a fear or concern
            about being dead" (which I do not have) - a difference which few others
            appear to understand.

            > But I do agree, given that a person uses reason with a
            > specific purpose -- the maximization of that person's total lifetime
            > happiness -- he/she will have no reason to hold that standard.

            Good. That is a major reason why I think that the notion of a human's
            essential purpose being to maximize hir Lifetime Happiness solves a lot
            of philosophical problems.

            >>>>> life itself would perhaps be arbitrary.
            >>>>
            >>>> If you want to think that all of existence is arbitrary and
            >>>> pointless then I certainly cannot logically argue against you. All
            >>>> that I can do is give a practical and consistency-seeking response.
            >>>> What is the value in holding such notions as valid?
            >>>
            >>> Throughout my life, I haven't weighed beliefs (convictions?) based
            >>> on their value to me, but rather based on their truth, in as
            >>> absolute a sense as possible. This may have been the wrong approach.
            >>
            >> It depends somewhat on the nature of the conviction. If it is a
            >> conviction directly about reality (about things that are measurable)
            >> then it is correct to base it only on the standards of evidence for its
            >> validity. However the types of statements that you have been throwing
            >> out here are not statements directly about reality, but rather
            >> statements about meta-reality - about non-measurable attributes of
            >> things in reality and their relationships. These are not the types of
            >> statements that one can test by producing evidence for or against and
            >> therefore, they are essentially indeterminable (even when meaningful -
            >> which always has to first be carefully shown).
            >
            > I have a question based on this. Would you consider it rational for a
            > person to hold certain convictions about meta-reality that had no
            > evidential support, but which make that person happy?

            The contents of meta-reality are only what humans put there - measurable
            attributes of reality, logical/structural systems involving and modeling
            attributes of reality (actually these are in level 2 meta-reality) or
            systems created from the former for which there is no yet known
            isomorphism in reality. The latter may therefore be said to have "no
            evidential support", but may still be enjoyable and a beneficial mental
            activity to play with as long as they are self-consistent.

            > I suppose that I
            > would not consider this rational, because this conviction would almost
            > certainly affect the person's behavior in ways that would not be conducive
            > to his or her maximization of his/her total lifetime happiness.

            I don't see that any contents of meta-reality listed above would be
            negative with respect to maximization of Lifetime Happiness as long as
            play time is limited and does not take away from reality related
            activities required for that purpose.

            > An example
            > would be the belief that the universe was out to help a person ("pronoia,"
            > the opposite of paranoia). This person would presumably have certain
            > expectations based on his/her "pronoid" beliefs that would be likely to
            > lead to disappointment, if not danger.

            Such essentially unverifiable and unfalsifiable beliefs are not part of
            the content of any of meta-reality as I define that notion, but rather
            something totally outside of any level of reality.

            [Daniel's example reminded me of the belief in gods - benign ones in
            this case - or supernatural (outside of reality) beings. But in reality
            only higher life forms can have a *purpose* of helping others of their
            own or other kinds of life.

            Another related thought: the use of *any* anthropomorphizing terms
            regarding the universe is not conducive to reasoned critical thinking
            - "birth" and "death" of stars, the solar system, etc. This can
            easily lead for some to thinking of the universe as a "lifeform" with
            potential purposes, possibly malevolent or "helpful to people". **Kitty]

            However, I would have to agree that if one used a more general definition
            of meta-reality as the set of all statements about reality, then such
            beliefs would be included. I guess my narrower (and more useful, IMO)
            definition is essentially the set of meaningful and provable or
            disprovable statements about reality plus any other self-consistent systems.

            >>>> If you really acted on such thoughts then you would not be alive
            >>>> right now to be having this discussion. Since you don't intend to
            >>>> adhere rigorously to such nihilistic notions (or we would not be
            >>>> having this discussion), then you must value your life somewhat and
            >>>> since you do, then practically, why not operate to optimize that
            >>>> value?
            >>>
            >>> This last is an especially good point. I still eat food; when I
            >>> want to drive somewhere, I use my car, but not when the fuel tank
            >>> is empty; and so on. There isn't much point in interacting with the
            >>> world half-heartedly, while essentially refusing to take pleasure
            >>> in it on account of some various imperfections. Given that I am
            >>> finding some value in life, I ought to optimize that value.
            >>
            >> You also ought to try to correct some of the imperfections, at least
            >> to have such correction as a desire, even if it appears such an
            >> impossible task that you are not likely to succeed - if you remain
            >> open to desiring the change, who knows, some more achievable method
            >> or amount of correction may come along.
            >
            > This wouldn't only give me a chance to actually make some particular
            > positive change, but may be important given the facts of human psychology.
            > I've frequently read and heard about the importance of "living with a
            > purpose."

            Quite so. One needs both an overall purpose - which can really only be
            to always act to optimize one's Lifetime Happiness (one's life goal),
            but also other temporary purposes which are effective steps toward that
            overall one. If one does not have such purposes as the latter, then one is
            perpetually acting on the range of the moment and is hardly likely to
            achieve one's life goal.

            >>>>> That was the gist of the argument I had in mind. (Granted, dreams
            >>>>> could be considered arbitrary for other reasons, too.)
            >>>>
            >>>> Much recent neurological research suggests that dreams are not
            >>>> arbitrary.
            >>>>
            >>>>> Out of curiosity, do you (Paul) consider your own concern about
            >>>>> your work being lost to be irrational? I just mean in the sense
            >>>>> that you described: that it isn't oriented at yourself.
            >>>>
            >>>> Good point! I am glad to see your analytical ability enabled you to
            >>>> spot my error of phrasing (because I haven't fully and totally
            >>>> eliminated irrationalities which I held earlier in life - and are
            >>>> highly expressed in current society, but which I no longer logically
            >>>> hold). I should have phrased it as follows: "...of my work I will
            >>>> not have actually maximally increased my lifetime happiness because
            >>>> all my efforts in this regard will not have born fruition (will not
            >>>> have succeeded according to my own evaluation) before the end of my
            >>>> life, were to actually die soon".
            >>>> But you are correct. As originally stated, it was inconsistent with
            >>>> my other statements regarding rational thinking re actual death (as
            >>>> opposed to cryopreservation with the possibility of restoration to
            >>>> fully functional life).
            >>>>
            >>>> The problem with thinking about self-orientedness wrt my SelfSIP
            >>>> work is that the very essence and purpose of the basic approach is
            >>>> that it is necessary for a person to be other-oriented in a certain
            >>>> way in order to be self-oriented. As you will see when you read and
            >>>> understand the ideas of Social Meta-Needs and their implementation
            >>>> operations, any possibility of maximizing one's own Lifetime
            >>>> Happiness in human society must necessarily entail efforts to help
            >>>> everyone else maximize hir own Lifetime Happiness. This is why my
            >>>> short slogan is "All for one, and one for all". This necessarily
            >>>> leads to other-orientedness, but only as that benefits self, rather
            >>>> than harming self (as it would in any consistent altruism).
            >>>
            >>> I think I understand this already, without having yet finished
            >>> reading your Theory of Social Meta-Needs; a life lived in complete
            >>> isolation would surely not optimize one's own happiness, and
            >>> treating others poorly (even with any morals/ethics aside) would
            >>> also not be conducive to optimizing one's own happiness.
            >>
            >> Good!
            >>
            >>>>>>> Now, I'm less concerned about that, because, so long as I'm
            >>>>>>> dead, I won't know or care that I am no longer alive. That
            >>>>>>> keeps death from being something that I find terrifying. I
            >>>>>>> still do prefer life, of course.
            >>>>>>
            >>>>>> I'm pleased to see that you have come to realize that -
            >>>>>> something which I too realized fully sometime in my 20s. Since
            >>>>>> that time I have always made a strong distinction between
            >>>>>> being afraid to die (which I am not), and very much wanting to
            >>>>>> continue to live (which I certainly do). But still better
            >>>>>> said: once you no longer exist, it matters not what is
            >>>>>> happening in the world. That is why cryonics gives one a very
            >>>>>> different attitude toward life and death - because a
            >>>>>> cryonicist has hopefully not ceased to exist when
            >>>>>> cryopreserved (only will s/he retroactively have ceased to
            >>>>>> exist if s/he cannot be restored to functional life and/or any
            >>>>>> possibility of that is ended).
            >>>>>
            >>>>> This is an interesting idea: retroactively ceasing to exist. I'm
            >>>>> not sure what field this would fall into (metaphysics?), but I
            >>>>> think of it differently. To me, a person who is cryogenically
            >>>>> preserved no longer exists (that is, his/her mind no longer
            >>>>> exists), but that mind has the potential to exist again. In that
            >>>>> way, if he/she is not resuscitated, then the potential is lost but
            >>>>> nothing happens retroactively. Granted, I'm probably wading very
            >>>>> deep into philosophical waters that I do not fully understand by
            >>>>> tossing around the notion of a nonexistent mind with the
            >>>>> "potential" to exist. Can a nonexistent entity be said to have
            >>>>> potential? Perhaps something that does not exist cannot have any
            >>>>> characteristic of any kind, and potential might be dubbed a
            >>>>> characteristic.
            >>>>
            >>>> Although your first thought might seem quite reasonable, in the end
            >>>> you have essentially described why it is not.
            >>>> The best metaphor that I know is to think of the mind/brain as like
            >>>> a computer. When a human's brain is cryopreserved it is like the
            >>>> computer power is off - just as the data and programs still exist on
            >>>> the permanent memory of the computer, so too does the software of
            >>>> the mind still exist as neuronal chemicals and synaptic
            >>>> interconnections in the cryopreserved brain. All that is lacking is
            >>>> the ability of the mind to process that software/data (BTW, with
            >>>> respect to a mind/brain, any distinction between data and programs
            >>>> is still very far from clear).
            >>>> The reason why the non-existence of the mind must necessarily be
            >>>> retroactive is that until everything possible has been tried to get
            >>>> the power back on for a given brain/mind, it is premature to say
            >>>> that the fidelity of mind software archive is insufficient to enable
            >>>> its reboot and therefore the original brain/mind is truly dead.
            >>>> Again the computer metaphor can be applied to the situation where
            >>>> the permanent storage has been damaged to such a state that the
            >>>> original data/programs are effectively lost/destroyed.
            >>>
            >>> It still seems very metaphysically strange to me that an entity
            >>> could retroactively cease to exist,
            >>
            >> I think that your problem is one of the way you are expressing it. The
            >> entity does not retroactively cease to exist. Rather it is determined
            >> that at some time in the past the entity stopped existing. However that
            >> determination could not be made until some time after the existence
            >> actually ended. The other problem is that it is not really an "entity"
            >> which ceases to exist, but rather the capability or attributes of the
            >> brain which would have enabled the original mind to function, but at
            >> some point in the past lost that capability/attribute.
            >
            > I see this now; I was misusing "retroactively." We would conclude in the
            > present that something had happened in the past; nothing in the past would
            > have been triggered by something in the present, and hence nothing happened
            > retroactively. Indeed, I don't believe that anything in reality could
            > happen retroactively: the word is likely only useful for referring to
            > man-made laws which have been decreed to have taken effect before they were
            > made.

            Yes, once again man, mostly through idiot governments, attempts to
            subvert and deny the immutable laws of reality - similar to passing a
            law that pi shall be 3 (which was once actually done in a small
            community for a short time - and you can imagine that construction and
            other messes *that* caused!)

            >>> but I don't have any specific issues with anything you've written
            >>> here. I think this would make the most sense if we define
            >>> "potential" not as something that an entity truly possesses in a
            >>> metaphysical sense, but rather as something that humans assign to
            >>> that entity as a matter of convenience -- kind of like we say that
            >>> a coin has a 50% chance of landing "heads" when it's flipped, even
            >>> though the precise forces acting on the coin ought to give it either
            >>> a 100% chance or a 0% chance of landing on heads. It's just that
            >>> those forces are not sufficiently known to us, so we need to assign
            >>> probabilities. Likewise, we simply don't know whether a person's
            >>> consciousness will be rebooted from a frozen brain, so we say that
            >>> the person's mind "potentially" exists -- that there is a nonzero
            >>> probability that he/she will be resuscitated in the future. I would
            >>> not find it strange for us to retroactively remove such a potential,
            >>> just as we might look back and say, "ah, apparently that coin was
            >>> certain to land on heads."
            >>
            >> You have made an excellent description of the situation. The only
            >> thing that I would change is that no one retroactively removes any
            >> potential. One simply determines at some point in time that a brain
            >> no longer has such potential and one does not know exactly when or
            >> how that lack of potential occurred - just as in retrospect one may
            >> not be able to look back at all the factors involved and be certain
            >> of having the full determining factors for the coin having landed
            >> heads.
            >
            > Right, same as earlier -- I misused "retroactively."

            Good discussion, Daniel.
            But please next get on to things which are more practical and relevant
            to the current society and its problems.

            --Paul
          • Paul Wakfer
            ... IMO, the above statement is a poor description of the state of the natural number system and the arithmetic operations before its axiomatization. Since
            Message 5 of 7 , May 15, 2012
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              On 05/04/2012 11:13 AM, Francois wrote:
              > meta
              > I changed the subject because this reply does not relate to the
              > previous subject.
              >
              > The message is late being released from the queue because we were
              > enroute from Arizona to Ontario. (I forgot to state this at the top
              > of the previous message.)
              > /meta
              >
              > --Paul
              >
              > --- In morelife@yahoogroups.com, Daniel Kimbel<dkkimbel@...> wrote:
              >> Hi Paul (& all),
              >> On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 9:13 PM, Paul Wakfer<paul@...> wrote:
              >>
              >>> ** My apologies for taking so long to respond.
              >>> I have been immersed in other work, which I do not want to publicly
              >>> disclose right now, but will in the near future.
              >> No problem -- and sorry I haven't gotten back to you until the weekend.
              >>
              >>> On 03/08/2012 04:22 PM, Daniel Kimbel wrote:
              > <snip uncommented>
              >
              >>>> If one's standards are rigorous enough, one will never "know"
              >>>> anything (with the apparent contradiction that one "knows" that one
              >>>> knows nothing, which I do not take to be a serious philosophical
              >>>> issue, though it likely merits more thought).
              >>>
              >>> I won't say anything more here than the statement that no one ever
              >>> "knows" anything about reality, in the sense of certainty of knowledge
              >>> (as opposed to knowledge of meta reality which is basically all
              >>> tautological such as 1+1=2). All that one can say about any statement
              >>> regarding reality is that one has a certain degree of conviction
              >>> that it is true (ie it is probably true with a certain probability
              >>> number assigned).
              >>
              >> I'm glad to see that you agree with this -- I think we're both discussing
              >> this with an eye to practicality. As a tangent, I'd be interesting to
              >> hear your thoughts about certainty of knowledge in "meta reality." I
              >> have myself thought that radical skepticism, taken to its extremes, would
              >> not even acknowledge the certainty of mathematical facts like 1+1=2.
              >
              > In fact, 1+1=2 was assumed to be true until the 19th century .

              IMO, the above statement is a poor description of the state of the
              natural number system and the arithmetic operations before its
              axiomatization. Since antiquity there have existed recursively organized
              systems of numbers including arithmetic operators (at least addition,
              subtraction, multiplication and division) and relationships (at least,
              equality, less than and greater than). Since these clearly and
              consistently model certain attributes of reality, I think the validity of
              results of all operations in any of these systems was clearly well
              proven long before any axiomatic basis for the natural numbers was
              developed. Rather than say "1+1=2 was assumed to be true", I think it is
              more accurate to say that 1+1=2 was definitionally true according to the
              consistent model of reality for the symbols involved.

              > Then some questions arise and mathematicians like Peano have built
              > the ensemble of the positive integers by five axioms ( e.g. they
              > define an operator s by s(n)= the successor of n and so s(n) is
              > what we note commonly n+1 ). So this construction matches with the
              > profane meaning and eliminates logical issues like "is 1+1=2 ?".
              > This branch is called meta-mathematics; its aim is to insure that
              > mathematics are well designed by defining the meta axioms on which
              > a theory is built.

              But all that really happened for the natural numbers was to change the
              meaning of "well designed" to have a clearer and more uniform meaning
              across different branches of mathematics. IMO again, the natural numbers
              obtained no stronger logical foundation from Peano's axiomatic treatment
              than they had before Peano, it was merely a different foundation.

              > It is, in fact, possible (and it has been done) to build another
              > arithmetic with other axioms and other theorems (I've never looked
              > into it).

              Yes, many other arithmetics (modular arithmetics would be one such set),
              but none of them match reality in the same manner as did the natural
              number systems used from antiquity.

              > This is the same with geometry;
              > there is a plain geometry theory: in it, there is only one line
              > that goes through two points there is a spheric geometry: in it,
              > two poles can be connected by an infinite number of "lines"
              >
              > It is usually admitted that current maths theories are consistent
              > with themselves.
              >
              > So one has to choose/build the most adequate model regarding the
              > facts that s/he wants to stress on.
              > AFAIK, physics theories are consistent with themselves but the
              > problem here is different: how do these theories adequate reality ?

              Better English would be: "how do these theories model (correspond
              with) reality".

              > The relationships between theory and reality are very interesting.
              > Historically, these have been studied since at least the 4th
              > century BC and also by Galien (IInd century AD):
              > So the community of scientists takes a part of facts from the
              > infinite reality

              Since humans are finite beings and have no possibility to grasp or
              otherwise deal with any truly infinite set, that word is actually
              logically meaningless and the word "unbounded" should be used instead.

              > and builds a theory with this part. From this theory, they
              > calculate/elaborate results and confront these results to reality.
              > A theory can provide more right results, more powerful it is (this
              > last sentence is translated from Google).

              But one needs to be careful with the use of "right" here. The
              computational results of any theory simple correspond more or less
              closely to measurements of attributes of reality - there is no absolute
              right or wrong here, but only a close correlation with certain
              probabilities of correctness.

              > The power of a theory is correlated with its capacities of predictability.

              But this is only one possible meaning for the "power" of a theory.

              > Another issue is that:
              > one can prove that a fact is impossible within a model, theoretically.

              Your use of the word "fact" is here is incorrect. Technically, a fact is
              a statement (generally about reality) which is considered with a high
              level of confidence to be valid. Thus, it should be a "statement" that
              you are proving to be impossible - ie to *not* be a fact of that theory.

              > But reality doesn't match theories.
              > A century ago ,some physicians proved that it was impossible for a
              > plane to fly !!
              > So one cannot prove that something doesn't exist in reality.
              > Facts are usually stubborn :-)

              Here you are using the word "fact" in its usual meaning as a statement
              about reality thought to have a high probability of being true.

              > I think that Paul would say that it is inferred from the facts that
              > a theory is a meta reality (at least a 2-level meta reality since
              > its aim is to organize facts, which are a 1- level reality used to
              > describe the 0-level reality which is the very reality )
              > possible ref: http://selfsip.org/solutions/NSC.html#existent

              The above is correct, except that such is not "inferred from the facts",
              but rather inferred from the definitions of meta realities.
              You are trying to give too many disparate meanings to the word "fact".

              > Have a nice day
              > Fran├žois

              Thanks for your comments,

              --Paul
            • Daniel Kimbel
              Hi Paul, I wanted to acknowledge that I ve read this and agree with your points. [Thanks muchly, Daniel. A response of acknowledgement is always so much better
              Message 6 of 7 , May 23, 2012
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                Hi Paul,

                I wanted to acknowledge that I've read this and agree with your points.

                [Thanks muchly, Daniel. A response of acknowledgement is always so much better than no response at all. With no response it is impossible to gain any information from one's respondent about hir view of one's own response - all that one can do is to hope that one's respondent and others gained some benefit from it. --Paul]

                I've also made one note inline pointing out a place where you've answered a
                question I asked in my most recent response to you in the 'skepticism'
                thread.

                <snipping first portion of email>


                > > I like the idea of degrees of conviction very much. I'm often annoyed
                > > when
                > > people say that science has "proven" something, and even a touch annoyed
                > > when people say that something has been "disproven." The latter seems
                > > more rational to me in a practical sense -- any assertion about reality,
                > > even one that results from an inference, can be disproven to a degree
                > > extremely near to certainty.
                >
                > This fact of easier and more certain disproof is because any general
                > statement can be falsified by only one exception.
                >
                > > The same cannot be said for proving the truth of an
                > > assertion; we do not approach certainty as closely when we use our
                > > observations to confirm inferences we have made about the world
                > > (e.g. "all swans are white").
                > >
                > > That actually raises a quick side-note: Paul, do you consider there
                > > to be degrees of rationality? Can an action, conviction, or anything
                > > else be partly rational, or is it either completely rational or irrational?
                > > If you consider something to be rational if it is conducive to the
                > > maximization of one's total lifetime happiness, which is the definition
                > > I've been running
                > > with, I suppose this would be black and white: something either would or
                > > would not be rational. That is not to say that rational actions would in
                > > some sense be perfect: due to incomplete knowledge, a person might
                > > rationally take some action that turned out not to maximize his/her
                > > lifetime happiness after all, but I would not consider that to make the
                > > action irrational (though it might make repeating the action irrational).
                >
                > No. I do not consider that any notion of partial rationality is valid.
                > However, the problem with irrational (or with mistaken) actions is that
                > the determination of their faulty quality cannot ever be made with
                > certainty, because of the problem of incomplete knowledge and the
                > impossibility of consideration of *all* possible actions. Note that I do
                > differentiate between honest mistakes (errors) and irrational actions.
                > You will need to read the SelfSIP NSC annotations (and perhaps some
                > earlier Yahoo group messages) on that subject. I don't wish to try to
                > regurgitate it here.
                >

                This appears to answer a question I asked yesterday in another email
                thread, regarding what sorts of beliefs might be logical but not rational:
                decisions made on incomplete information could be logical yet irrational.
                Granted, I wouldn't define a decision itself as a belief or conviction, but
                it is based upon them.

                <snipping the rest of the email>

                Daniel
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