• apokrisis
    1.6k
    Yep. Self-awareness is narrative and hence propositional and deductive. It is essentially backward looking retroduction. If I just pushed that button, I must have made that decision.

    So humans have an extra level of socially constructucted rationalising habit, based on language, that we use to structure experience - force it into rationalistic patterns that can account for everything in retroductive fashion. And also of course, a habit which we also use to control the body and its responses by setting up the novel states of constraint to which it must respond. So we can tell ourselves not to push that button until the light also turns green, or whatever other narrative constraint we might have reason to construct.

    And then there is the biology of consciousness itself. The brain is an inductive predictive engine. It is always forward modelling to predict the future - predict the constraints on behaviour that will be coming from the direction of the lived environment.

    So in terms of temporarility, the biological brain is pointed inductively at the future. It doesn't dwell on the past. It can't even dwell on the past. Animals don't reminisce. And the present only exists as the sum of a history. It forms the constraints that are the basis for future predicting. What has happened is done, but it in turn leaves open new possibility - the possibility into which the animal miind can creatively insert itself as an imagined player.

    And then humans developed their new level of semiosis that allowed them to step outside of this natural flow and reconsider it in reasoned fashion. Through the structure of narrative, we can talk our way backwards in time to create a reasonable story about the past. That then gives us - or rather our cultures - the opportunity to build a quite different kind of psychology on top of the neural one. We can learn to think of our selves as "free willed, autonomous selves" ... who then can creatively insert themselves into the rather more abstract workings of a social community as an imagined player.

    So the habit of retroductive explanation gives us the ability to now construct our own internal states of constraint. We can regulate our behaviour in a way that animals just can't. We can construct this thing of a personal identity, a collection of meaningful memories, a series of persistent purposes ... all done in our own name, but actually just reflecting our social construction.

    Awareness is entropic induction. Self-awareness is negentropic retroduction. One looks continually to the future and runs down whatever is the easiest path. The other learns to act from "the past" and instead starts to devote itself to larger projects - the negentropic needs of the society which wants to shape "selves" as its tightly-regulated component parts.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    Right, I am aware of the past as well as the future.Metaphysician Undercover

    So on your view, you don't exist at present, and you can exist in the future?

    (If that's really your view, I'm tempted to not say anything in response to it, and to just let it sit as comedy material, as it would surely be one of the most incredibly stupid and/or insane stances I've ever heard)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2k
    So on your view, you don't exist at present, and you can exist in the future?Terrapin Station

    Correct. I don't see how the present can be anything more than a point in time, which divides the future from the past, and therefore I think it's impossible that anything could exist at the present, a point in time. That I exist at the present is an illusion, I really exist partially in the past, and partially in the future. That is why I dispute you claim that we cannot be mistaken concerning our present experience, "present experience" itself is an illusion. Unless you are using "present" in a different way, I don't see how you can avoid this.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k


    Would you mean "a point in time" in a mathematical sense, so basically something "zero dimensional"?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2k
    Isn't that what "the present" represents, a zero dimensional point in time which separates past time from future time? What else did you have in mind?

    Here's another way to look at it. There's a principle called the relativity of simultaneity which is commonly cited against presentism. It indicates that events which are simultaneous from one frame of reference are not simultaneous from another frame of reference. Therefore if we produce a baseline of events which corresponds with "the present", some events would be present from one frame of reference but not from another. So, since my hands and feet are often moving in different directions relative to other parts of my body, I don't see how there could be one single "present", which is proper to my entire self. Therefore I don't think it is proper to say that my self has a present experience.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    Isn't that what "the present" represents, a zero dimensional point in time which separates past time from future time?Metaphysician Undercover

    Why in the world would you take it to represent that? First off, the whole idea of a real zero-dimensional point is completely absurd. It's a useful concept in the language game that is mathematics, but there's no reason to take the game to correlate to reality in this respect.

    I answered what the present is when you asked me the first time. The present is the changes/motion that are occurring. The past is the changes/motion that have occurred but that are no longer occurring. The future is the changes/motion that will occur, but that haven't occurred yet.

    And yes, this is relative to situatedness. That's not a point against it. It's a fact about what the world is like.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2k
    I answered what the present is when you asked me the first time. The present is the changes/motion that are occurring.Terrapin Station

    Well I don't agree with this at all. All changes or motions require a period of time to occur in. That time may be in the past, in which case the change is in the past, that time may be in the future, in which case the change is in the future. If that change or motion is currently occurring, as you say for the present, then part of the change is in the past and part of it is in the future.

    So I think you are just trying to set up a vague notion of the present, according to which, changes are occurring, but you cannot differentiate which part of the change is in the past and which part of the change is in the future. If you cannot differentiate between which part of the change is in the past, from which part of the change is in the future, then you cannot be mistaken with respect to that judgement, simply because you refuse to make that judgement. This denial, I assert is itself a mistake.
  • Rich
    484
    The issue is pinpointing a "present" if everything is in a continuous state of motion and change. One cannot. It is analagous to the quantum problem of attempting to measure simultaneously position and momentum. All motion is lost when measuring position which is impossible since everything is in a constant state of motion. Thus we must give up the notion of Present in order to acceed to the constant motion. What we have is an accumulated past (all that has happened) morphing into some future. The instance of Present cannot exist within constant evolution. It is helpful to view memory or experiences as a holographic field with new experiences being impressed within it.
  • jkop
    532
    It is arguably a category mistake to exploit problems of fundamental physics or worse even metaphysics in order to dismiss notions such as the present. Fundamental physics is typically as irrrelevant in descriptions of biology and the philosophy of perception as perception and natural kinds are irrelevant in fundamental physics. One thing that sets experiences apart from descriptions is that experiences are indexical, they occur in the here and now. You can be wrong about your descriptions of your experiences, as descriptions are representational, but your experiences can be neither right nor wrong, since they're facts, not representations of facts.
  • Rich
    484
    There cannot be a moment, a present, an instantaneous, within constant motion. Such a notion creates paradoxes, the most famous ones being set forth by Zeno. What you can have is a fleeting , vague notion of a present that vanishes as quickly as it may be conceived.
  • jkop
    532

    :-} What did I just write?
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    All changes or motions require a period of time to occur in.Metaphysician Undercover

    They don't require a period of time--they are what time is in the first place. Time isn't something separate from changes/motion.

    If that change or motion is currently occurring, as you say for the present, then part of the change is in the past and part of it is in the future.

    That's stated as if you don't comprehend the most rudimentary aspects of how to use the language you're communicating in. If it's currently occurring there's no part in the past. The parts in the past are the changes that occurred. Again, the idea of a mathematical point is nonsense in terms of external existents.

    but you cannot differentiate which part of the change is in the past and which part of the change is in the future.Metaphysician Undercover

    If you don't simply ignore what I wrote, I already did this twice.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    What we have is an accumulated past (all that has happened) morphing into some futureRich

    The "morphing" is the present.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    There cannot be a moment, a present, an instantaneous, within constant motion. Such a notion creates paradoxes, the most famous ones being set forth by Zeno.Rich

    That you'd see this as suggesting that there's no present rather than saying "per this way of systematically thinking about things, it suggests there's no present, therefore we must have royally fucked up somehow with this approach to systematic thinking" is ridiculous. That's the worst sort of theory worship.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2k
    It is arguably a category mistake to exploit problems of fundamental physics or worse even metaphysics in order to dismiss notions such as the present.jkop

    There is no category mistake here. The claim has ben made that we cannot be mistaken concerning our present experiences. But if fundamental physics demonstrates to us that "the present" is just an illusion, then "present experience" is itself a mistaken concept.

    If it's currently occurring there's no part in the pastTerrapin Station
    I am currently pouring myself a coffee. The starting of the pouring is in the past, and the end of the pouring is in the future. That's stated as if you don't comprehend the most rudimentary aspects of how to use the language you're communicating in.

    Sorry to have to inform you Terrapin, but unless you can demonstrate a currently occurring event which has no part in the past, and no part in the future, your assertions amount to nonsense.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    Sorry to have to inform you Terrapin, but unless you can demonstrate a currently occurring event which has no part in the past, and no part in the future,Metaphysician Undercover

    How would this not just amount to playing the game of whether you can respond to any suggestion by saying that part of any present change or motion is in the past?

    In any event, for any x, if you say that currently x is occurring, then x isn't in the past, whatever x is, or you're equivocating. That is, at least as you have a first grade competence in English.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2k
    It's a matter of fact that any presently occurring change is part in the past and part in the future and that's why it's so easy for me to say this about any example you supply. And when you deny this, it's just that "you don't comprehend the most rudimentary aspects of how to use the language you're communicating in".
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    It's a matter of fact that any presently occurring change is part in the past and part in the futureMetaphysician Undercover

    Oy vey. Yeah, well if you say that complete nonsense is a fact it must be. Great argument.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2k
    I'm waiting for your example of a currently occurring event which is not partly in the past and not partly in the future. Until you provide that example, it's quite clear who is speaking nonsense. Great argument!
  • Terrapin Station
    3.4k
    I'm waiting for your example of a currently occurring event which is not partly in the past and not partly in the future. Until you provide that example, it's quite clear who is speaking nonsense. Great argument!Metaphysician Undercover

    This wasn't a rhetorical question:

    How would this not just amount to playing the game of whether you can respond to any suggestion by saying that part of any present change or motion is in the past?Terrapin Station
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