• gurugeorge
    437
    You have to meditate on the absolute absurdity of quantum wave-particles asking questions of other quantum-wave particles.Rich

    Compare: "one would have to meditate on the absurdity of quantum wave particles killing/eating/avoiding/procreating with, other quantum-wave particles". Those terms describe emergent properties that quantum particles don't have, that doesn't prevent them from properly referring to large scale (in relation to the quantum scale) properties of objects (made of quantum particles, like animals) that I presume you'd have no problem talking about.

    Exactly what scientific evidence is there that little Moist Robots are zooming around in the body.Rich

    The idea is that the whole body/brain is a moist robot/control system, not sure where you're getting the idea of them being something inside the body. Perhaps you mean the idea that Dennett talks about elsewhere, of the body being made up of little robots?

    I agree that any one-to-one correlation between neurons and consciousness would be absurd, but that's not the way most people think of the correlation between mind and its physical substratum. (There are several ways of thinking about it, and it's still up in the air, but the idea of framing some kind of correlation or identity isn't intrinsically absurd.)

    It's pretty clear by now that at the level of behaviour, you can in principle have robots behaving like humans behave (for example Boston Dynamics is creating robots right now that look uncannily animal-like in their behaviour), and behaviour is part of the concept of the mental (e.g. I wish to move my hand and move my hand). Now I'll grant that there's a huge difficulty, a seemingly "Hard Problem," when it comes to the subjective features of consciousness, but if all the third-person features of consciousness can be accounted for by brain activity (e.g. we observe: animal sees other animal, reacts, robot sees door, opens it, etc.) then it's not inherently implausible to think that there may be a way of understanding the subjective features of consciousness using the same science.
  • gurugeorge
    437
    They “exist in a special way,” which is to say, ultimately, not at all.

    That's the kind of extremist rhetoric that Dennett is trying to wean us off by pointing to examples that don't have a clear cut answer as to whether they exist or don't - e.g. centers of gravity, money. Both of these are illusory "in a strict sense" (for a given meaning of "strict"), but they are real enough to be indispensable, and real in the sense that they are quick and dirty ways of referring to complex, abstract patterns of co-ordination.

    IOW, Dennett is arguing that free will is real enough to be indispensable in an analogous way to how centers of gravity and money are indispensable, and the worry that their "strict" illusoriness either ought to, or might induce people to, give up their everyday usage, is misplaced, as misplaced as the notion that people ought to, or suddenly would, stop using money when they realize it's just an abstract representation of exchanges of real value on a ledger.

    This is actually a Wittgensteinian point too, also reiterated by Austin: "real" isn't necessarily a binary concept. It can be and is sometimes, but it's not essentially so always.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Compare: "one would have to meditate on the absurdity of quantum wave particles killing/eating/avoiding/procreating with, other quantum-wave particles". Those terms describe emergent properties that quantum particles don't have, that doesn't prevent them from properly referring to large scale (in relation to the quantum scale) properties of objects (made of quantum particles, like animals) that I presume you'd have no problem talking about.gurugeorge

    So what is asking questions of each other, molecules? And what are molecules comprised of? It's all just waves.

    The idea is that the whole body/brain is a moist robot/control system,gurugeorge

    So we are one big robot of molecular stuff that just started to talk to other robots of molecular stuff? Does this even sound like believe science fiction? Do you have a theory of how this all happens or is it just something being made up?

    it's still up in the air,gurugeorge

    No, it is just made up out of thin air. Pure fiction to sell a story that some people want to hear, just like Biblical stories or mythology. Materialist need a Genesis story but and Dennett made one up for them. The Tale of Moist can Robots. Why do you want to be a robot if there is zero evidence of it?
  • gurugeorge
    437
    Of course he says mind is unreal. That’s his entire shtick. Searle and Nagel said his first book should be called ‘Consciousness Ignored.’ No kidding.Wayfarer

    Yeah I know. And I think several others have said similar things independently. But they're wrong. To explain life in biological terms, instead of using the elan vital concept, is not to ignore life as a phenomenon, any more than to criticize Feminism is to criticize women. To ignore one theory about a thing, while explaining a thing, isn't to ignore the thing.

    I think I understand why this response keeps cropping up though, there is a gap in Dennett's explanation, and it's related to the idea of the "Hard Problem" and thought experiments like P-Zombies, etc.
  • gurugeorge
    437
    So what is asking questions of each other, molecules? And what are molecules comprised of? It's so just waves.Rich

    Eh, I give up, I just tried to explain that in the passage you quoted there, if you're not going to engage with the argument there's no point carrying on.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Eh, I give up, I just tried to explain that in the passage you quoted there, if you're not going to engage with the argument there's no point carrying on.gurugeorge

    There is no theory or evidence. It all is supposed to just happen. Like magic or a religious Miracle. People want to believe it for some reason or another. I use to play-role characters as a child because it was fun.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    I think I understand why this response keeps cropping up though, there is a gap in Dennett's explanation, and it's related to the idea of the "Hard Problem" and thought experiments like P-Zombies, etc.gurugeorge

    Yes, just a small gap like how the heck the whole thing happened and is still happening?
  • gurugeorge
    437
    Yes, just a small gap like how the heck the whole thing happened and is still happening?Rich

    No that's not the gap, the gap is the problem of subjective consciousness. But that's not the same thing as mind in the sense of the controller of an organism's actions. That looks like it's almost certainly all explainable in terms of neurons and hormones (whatever the final explanation is). Anything that's to do with physical doings of the body - which is to say, speaking, acting, etc., is explainable as the brain tugging on various strings, it's a mechanical process, and to the extent that the mind (whatever it is) finds expression in the material world, that's all explainable in the same way.

    The Hard Problem is the existence of what seems like a subjective view on the world and how that's connected to the mind as body-controller.

    I do think there's a resolution to it, but while I think Dennett does actually deal with it in his own way, he's never been able to explain it in a way that gets it across to people. The gap is just "More work needed here" - rather than "and a miracle happens here."
  • charleton
    1.2k
    "God gave us free will".WISDOMfromPO-MO

    Calvin thought this was rubbish.
    If you are a Calvinist Protestant there is no problem. But you have to accept that God knew before he created you that you would die a saint or a sinner. An almighty God could know no less.

    So where in the Bible does god insist on free will?
  • Rich
    3.2k
    the problem of subjective consciousnessgurugeorge

    Thus the problem is Life. Yep, exactly what he is replacing with his little stick man.

    But that's not the same thing as mind in the sense of the controller of an organism's actions.gurugeorge

    Then what is making the decisions? The bot? How did that happen?

    Anything that's to do with physical doings of the body - which is to say, speaking, acting, etc., is explainable as the brain tugging on various stringsgurugeorge

    Ok. So now it is no longer the Moist Bot, it is the Brain? Which is it and how did it all happen. What is the theory behind this miraculous event? You start off with a BIG BANG. Then what? Did it just happen? Was there a miracle that just keeps happening. How is it that this Moist Bit was revealed to Dennett and not to me? Where is the theory of how it all a happened? Or am I just suppose the believe Prophet Dennet because the Laws of Nature spoke to him and not to me?
  • gurugeorge
    437
    Then what is making the decisions? The bot? How did that happen?Rich

    How does a computer or a robot "decide" which move to make next in a game of chess? It's clear that computers can be programmed to make decisions in a very real sense (i.e. they have to scan their environment, and come up with some options in relation to their goals).

    Now of course we program the computer or the robot with its goals, and we are not ourselves programmed by anything external to us in that way. But the general idea is that similarly sophisticated - in fact much more sophisticated - decision-making machinery has gradually evolved over very long periods of time (via differential selection and reproduction) in living creatures, only it's not made of silicon but of neurons, fat, hormones, etc. Hence, "moist robot."

    It's not necessary, for this explanation to be valid, to have to explain the origin of life, or the universe. Also, there's no contradiction between the theory of evolution, or a mechanistic explanation of brain functions, and religion, if that's what you're worried about: the classical arguments for God's existence (Aristotelian/Thomist) are arguments for God as the sustainer of existence here and now, so therefore He would be the sustainer in the here and now of the existence of the mechanistic systems in brains, etc. too. Using evolutionary systems and mechanical principles would be just the way God rolls, so to speak. Whether the universe had an origin in time or didn't, also makes no difference to the arguments that demonstrate the necessary existence of God, or of any Absolute or creative principle (e.g. Logos).

    As I said, the key difficulty is simply about the subjective aspect of consciousness - the objective view is unproblematic, either for science or for religion.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    How does a computer or a robot "decide" which move to make next in a game of chess?gurugeorge

    So we are c programmed electronics. Do you observe electronics in humans?
    It's clear that computers can be programmed to make decisions in a very real sensegurugeorge

    Yes, they can be programmed. They don't make decisions. The humans make all the decisions and then symbolically program the computers. Who or what is programming humans? Gos is an obvious candidate. Where it's that programmed stored? Have you observed it? Has anyone observed this program? If so where?

    decision-making machinery has gradually evolved over very long periods of time (via differential selection and reproduction) in living creatures, only it's not made of silicon but of neurons, fat, hormones, etc. Hence, "moist robot."gurugeorge

    So it just happened over a long period of time? Any theory other than this?

    As I said, the key difficulty is simply about the subjective aspect of consciousness - the objective view is unproblematic, either for science or for religion.gurugeorge

    Exactly, the only problem it's how life as we experienced it developed. How we make robots is not a problem. The reason that it is not a problem for religion is that God takes care of all of the questions and He took only 8 days. Science on the other hand relies on "it just happened (the technical word is evolved) over a long period of time". So, the only difference is that science says that the Miracle took a little longer? And based upon this mundane tale, I'm supposed to believe I'm a Moist Robot? A comic book character? Couldn't I be Superman?
  • gurugeorge
    437
    Who or what is programming humans?Rich

    I'm beginning to think you're either dishonest or you're not reading very carefully and just being triggered by odd words here and there. I said in the very post you are quoting:-"we are not ourselves programmed by anything external to us in that way" and then I go on to explain how we come to behave in a way that's similar to thing that are programmed.

    So it just happened over a long period of time? Any theory other than this?Rich

    Do you not understand the theory of evolution? Roughly speaking:

    1) DNA is like a blueprint for the self-assembly of a body/brain structures out of nutrients, an organism. That includes whatever "control center" organisms may have for parsing the environment and making decisions as to what to do next. Various parts of the DNA code for different "building blocks" of the organism, various components, etc.

    2) Any given body/brain structure will "fit" its environment (be able to cope with its environment in various ways) better or worse than some other (e.g. one structure might have slightly faster reflexes, at a certain extra energy cost; faster reflexes will help it avoid predators, at a certain extra energy cost; it's up to the environment whether the faster reflexes are worth the extra cost - both the feature and its cost are relevant and both will bump up against the environment).

    3) Body/brain structures that survive long enough to reproduce and pass on to their offspring their DNA, will ipso facto pass on the building blocks and components, the "neat tricks," that helped them (the parents) fit their environment; those that don't, won't.

    4) All the various components were the result of random mutations in origin, but so long as they help the organisms survive and reproduce, they keep getting passed down to the next generation, while at the same time if they don't help the organism survive and reproduce, they aren't passed on; eventually, over a long period of time, you have an accumulation of "good tricks" that work well together; well-knit bodies, fast reactions, decision-making control centers (brains) that make good decisions, etc.

    5) IOW, the "best bits" stick together and make survival and reproduction more likely, the more likely reproduction is, the more likely a given particular "build" for a given bit of organism will be passed down through the generations and be inherited by future generations.

    Essentially, there's a random element that throws things against the wall, those elements that stick and work well together get passed down the generations and accumulate, resulting eventually in highly tuned organisms that fit their environment very well.

    Exactly, the only problem it's how life as we experienced it developed.Rich

    No, life is not a problem, we understand roughly how life developed, or at the very least we have placeholder explanations, and proofs of concept. The archaeological record is not perfect (for obvious reasons) but it's good enough to prove the theory, we can watch evolution happen in real time with creatures that have fast reproduction cycles (like fruit flies, etc.), and the biology and chemistry are understood well enough so that we can actually tinker with DNA at a micro level. The initial step from inorganic chemistry to organic is still somewhat mysterious, but that's just because we don't have access to the same timescales as nature did. I suspect that part of the puzzle will only be solved definitively if and when we come across a planet somewhere out there where we can catch that intermediary step in the act. But every other step on either side of that gap, we know very well.

    The problem is and remains the subjective aspect of consciousness, not life as such.

    Re. the question of the Bible, etc., there is no contradiction between science and religion unless one takes the Bible (or any other holy text) absolutely literally. I don't see any reason to. I'm not hostile to religion or to Christianity, but while I can understand the Bible as a revealed text filtered through human error, I can't take it seriously as a document every word of which is true, it just doesn't make sense to me that way.

    (I'm aware that I've said we should stop several times now, but each time you've said something that makes me think maybe we can continue, but if you do take the Bible absolutely literally then I think we really will have to knock it on the head.)
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Do you not understand the theory of evolution? Roughly speaking:gurugeorge

    Sure I do. You think that writing paragraphs upon paragraphs about stuff hides the fact that there is still no theory of how Mind/Consciousness arises? You think replacing Mind with a Little Stick Man and calling it a Moist Robot solves the problem?

    Don't give me terms. Tell me the theory of how a Mind that eats Big Macs and enjoys it arises. And I don't care if it took 7 days or 7 billion years.

    Life is consciousness. That which does not have life is called a Robot. All Dennett does is stick Moist in front of Robot and he magically creates Consciousness/Mind. That you cannot understand this, is not my problem. Dennett depends upon a gullible readership to buy into the Miracle without asking HOW? When was the magical moment when that Bot became alive and why do we have an infinite magical moments after that. And why do bots like talking to each other about football?
  • gurugeorge
    437
    Sure I do.Rich

    No, you don't, and the way you're talking here demonstrates that you obviously don't, otherwise you would understand that the questions you're still asking are already answered by the theory. That's not to say you can't disagree with the theory, but you'd have to actually engage with it, instead of continuing to repeat questions that the theory has already proposed answers to.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Every single "story" that denies conscious either hides it somewhere, renames it, or ignores it. Why? Because that is the intent. To eliminate consciousness, to eliminate differences between humanity and matter, to dehumanize. This is nothing new. The exact same tactic had been used many times in history to dehumanize races and ethnic groups.

    If you want to be a Moist Robot, be one.
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