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Re: moral law, logic, and their relation

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  • reb_el
    ... one categorization over another and keeping only that perspective is there? I agree. I always try to see things from different perspectives, just to make
    Message 1 of 202 , Nov 1, 2005
      > Daniel: "there's no reason we should limit ourselves to picking
      one categorization over another and keeping only that perspective is

      I agree. I always try to see things from different perspectives,
      just to make sure I have things as right as I can, but I don't dwell
      much on perspectives I find totally alien. For example, I couldn't
      see things from the viewpoint of a religious fundamentalist no
      matter how hard I tried. Reasoned thought is the primary driver of
      my mind, while theirs is fixed belief, and I cannot adjust to that
      viewpoint anymore than an electric motor can run on gasoline.

      > DT: "Ideas and things 'created by sentient rational minds' would
      be no different that pearls or leaves."

      I see a difference, but that is only my opinion. I do not disagree
      with your viewpoint, I simply prefer mine. :)

      > DT: "What is your conception of changing sets of data flowing
      through a computer?"

      Artificial. It was created by sentient minds and would not
      otherwise exist in nature without sentient minds. Interestingly, a
      computer is an attempt of human mind to imitate itself in rough
      materials. It will be interesting to see what happens if/when
      people finally create sentient machines!

      > DT: "You have a completely physical and material notion of this do
      you not?"

      I think so.

      > DT: "I was under the impression you were a materialist and, if so,
      had assumed you had the same concept of human brains and minds and
      the data (ideas) on them. If not, I'll await clarification and

      No correction needed, but I will try to clarify. Yes, I consider
      myself a materialist, but it is possible you may not think I am.
      While I do believe that rational sentient minds are completely
      natural (i.e. a product of the natural universe) and spring solely
      from a material source (i.e. the physical brain), I consider them in
      a separate class by themselves, because they are so totally unlike
      anything else in the universe. I do mean to imply I think that
      minds are 'magical' in any regard, but I think they are so unique
      that they deserve to be set apart from the rest of the universe.
      What makes them special and different is their ability to change
      themselves. A sentient mind as the ability to look inward and
      regard itself, and it has the power to change things as it sees
      fit. This is different from pearls and leaves, which are basically
      automated processes. A tree cannot decide to change the shape and
      color of its leaves, and an oyster will always produce a pearl if
      sand finds its way into its shell.

      Now I suspect you might ask me about computers again, as I suspect
      you believe the human mind to be little more than a very
      sophisticated organic computer. I don't see it that way though. To
      me, a computer is only an automated machine that runs software
      commands written by someone else. Even if a computer is so
      sophisticated that it can make very complicated and shrewd
      decisions, it is still ultimately only following sets of
      instructions written for it by someone else. For me, this is not in
      the same class as a sentient mind, which as the capacity to think
      for itself. Sadly, many people choose not to utilize this wonderful
      feature very often.

      In equanimity,

    • Johanan Raatz
      DT Strain wrote: Possibly, but it still seems like an overly complex explanation for something that ordinary macro-level complex neural
      Message 202 of 202 , Nov 21, 2005

        DT Strain <dtstrain@...> wrote:

        Possibly, but it still seems like an overly complex
        explanation for something that ordinary macro-level
        complex neural networks can probably achieve (I'll
        address your examples below).

        We also need to consider this:
        When you say "introspection" it sounds like what a lot
        of people mean by self awareness or even
        consciousness.  This is a functionality in that you're
        talking about the ability of a system to analyze
        itself in a very robust way.
        That is correct, it is trying to explain self-awareness.  Self-awareness is unique in that it does not make much sense in terms of strictly mechanical explanations.  The idea of a self-collapsing wavefunction gets around that though.


        This is quite a different issue from *qualia*.  Qualia
        is the "experience" we have.  It means that there is
        "something it is like" to be a human/complex system of
        brain activity.

        Imagine a brain-like machine that was so complex it
        could behave just like us, and even have the ability
        to monitor its own internal states and be self aware.
        It's quite easy to think that this structure could be
        introspective and conscious, but experience no
        Wouldn't that machine be very similar to the non-conscious telephone tag system though?

        Back to our subject...

        -IF we are speaking of introspection/self awareness,
        then it seems simpler computational models than QM can
        likely achieve this.
        Well QM is not complex per se it is just different.  A self-collapsing wavefunction is actually simple in concept it is just that due to the classical formulation of mathematics we use it is not describable in such a simple fashion.  Like trying to make a raft out of toothpicks.  Making a raft is simple but making one out of toothpicks is very complicated.

        "-IF we are, on the other hand, speaking of qualia,
        then it seems that QM doesn't answer anything for us.
        Even if introspection was somehow achieved by mutually
        self collapsing wave functions interacting with one
        another, how do collapsing wave functions and
        indeterminate phenomena ever create *qualia*?  It
        seems as difficult to comprehend as the question of
        how more classical systems can create qualia."

        Well qualia are not quite as difficult to explain in concept than consciousness itself.  Qualia include a form of introspection and whereas this may be difficult to understand in the same way as consciousness the primary problem is to understand self-awareness which qualia is based in.  Once consciousness is understood, things that have conscious elements in them like qualia and emotions are at least parameterized. 
        I have toyed with the idea of explaning them with wavefunctions within wavefunctions but that is mostly speculation at this point. 

        > [supernatural tampering with quantum states being
        possible] would be true strictly empirically speaking.

        > However, I think rationalistic considerations could
        > rule that out anyway due to irresolvable
        > interactionism paradoxes.

        I have no idea what you're talking about here, but it
        sounds interesting.  Are you saying that the
        supernatural>natural nexus within quantum randomness
        model I outlined creates paradoxes? 
        (by the way, I DO NOT believe that model is true, but
        it's a very wild and unlikely possibility)
        I have heard of it before, although I disagree with it.  Although on the same token I think that something similarly wild is likely.  Basically my argument is an epistemological one that takes issue with all dualistic systems. If one (natural) reality is coded by set of rules and another (supernatural) reality is coded by another set of rules.  Then either they are consistent with each other and can interact and thus mutual form a larger set of rules and therefore really be part of the same system (monism), or they must not be consistent and thus must lead to contradictions which would disallow the existence of such a dualistic system. 

        > I have heard of [consciousness as an emergent
        property] and I think it probably
        > explains alot of the details of consciousness
        > however, I don't think that one can make a
        > consciousness exclusively from complex deterministic
        > systems.

        Ah, but there is an important point about adaptive
        highly complex systems that I don't know if you are
        aware of (or at least appreciating).  And, here is
        where I must differ with René...

        "There is a point at which complex systems become so
        complex, that there is no way to compute their future
        activity - even in principle.  This means, for all
        empirical purposes, even a complex system built on
        deterministic functions can *become* indeterminate.
        Mind you, I do not mean indeterminate like the weather
        or a die roll is.  It's not indeterminate because it's
        simply too hard for us to compute - it actually IS
        indeterminate by its nature: truly non-deterministic.

        So, we actually can't compute what a brain will do
        even if we knew all there is to know about its
        beginning state.  Even if we used every particle in
        the universe as a giant computer and we computed the
        formulas for longer than the lifetime of the entire
        universe, the answer could not be calculated.  The
        only way to compute what a highly complex system will
        do, is to actually use the system itself as the
        computer by observing how it plays out."

        I do not know how such a system is possible without quantum indeterminism.

        >  There is the unity of identity problem, basically
        > we know that "we" exist as a distinct thing and not
        > an aggregate of things.

        We do?  The Buddha would say that this is just an
        illusion.  That understanding that we are "empty" and
        only an aggregate, to let go of notions of the self,
        is the key to enlightenment.

        While I'm not one to buy into any and all
        spiritual-talk, it seems to me there is a lot of truth
        in this view when we look at what we know about
        physics.  The concept of "we" as a distinct thing is
        probably an illusion created by the aggregate
        coordination of particles so as to aid with
        understanding our state in our environment (and
        therefore survival).
        Well, I do think that something pretty weird would happen in terms of consciousness if they did not differ by their independent experiences and were thus all defined by the same wavefunction.  However, at this state these entangled consciousnesses would still be self-aware.  Simply from introspection I don't agree with the alternative.  It really boils down to Descartes irrefutable premise: "I think therefore, I am." 

        > Along these lines think of a telephone game
        > involving a billion people where each person is told
        > to send and recieve messages just as neuron would or
        > several neurons would.  No matter how many billions
        > of people joined into this game you couldn't really
        > say that the telephone network was self-aware at
        > some point because it had gotten complex enough.

        "Are you sure?  I'm not.
        I know it sounds strange - crazy even, but consider
        what I was asking about qualia above.  If we know that
        one complex structure can result in qualia, then
        wouldn't this beg the question of whether or not other
        complex structures could?"
        Well that begs the question though are our brains only complex and not quantum?

        We know from looking at brain injuries and their
        effects that there is such a thing as varying levels
        of consciousness.  Consciousness philosopher David
        Chalmers has proposed that consciousness may be an
        irreducible law of the universe.  This would mean
        that, wherever sufficiently complex physical
        structures exist that carry information in the right
        manner, that qualia is the result.  This would be a
        basic law, like gravity, and therefore there would be
        no further explanation than "just because".  It would
        be just a fact of how the universe operates.
        I somewhat agree with this as I buy into a form of neutral monism.  However, I agree with this on the level of quantum gravity. As part of this I think that such a mind created like this is more of a different order of mind than our own.  I might associate it with what Stoics refer to as the Logos.
        Our minds are at least in some manner somewhat independant although obviously emergent and therefore somewhat connected to it.

        :If so, could this mean that feedback systems like
        thermostats are, on some VERY low level, conscious or
        experience qualia to some degree?  Might there be
        something it is like" to be a thermostat?  I don't
        know but I can't rule it out.

        If so, then we shouldn't expect thermostats or
        large-scale telephone networks to exhibit the same
        level OR the same type of consciousness that
        biological organisms do.  It's possible that the
        entire planet earth as a system may be conscious.
        However, it would be such an alien type of
        consciousness that we could never "talk to it" or
        recognize it as the familiar sort we enjoy.  Most
        likely, we would only be able to "figure out" that
        it's conscious by coming up with a mathematical
        description of consciousness and then checking our
        observations of the earth's activity against that

        If we did find that it met those qualifications, AND
        if Chalmers' thoughts on qualia being a law of the
        universe are correct, then there would indeed be
        "something it is like" to be the earth, mind-boggling
        though that may be.
        Right, although to understand the introspection involved here I would have to conclude that it could only be understood in the context of an Ubermind or Logos rather than our own, as by itself we can't understand just why it would be self-aware in the intuitive sense.

        ~Johanan Raatz

        DT Strain

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