Comments

  • Is there a culture war in the US right now?

    Your thesis does not square with the reality of an absence of army barracks full of peace loving tie-died hippies.

    It is odd that Christians tend be on the right, while those with no god to care for them, tend to be on the left.Athena
    Not odd at all. I define the right as a "Tribalistic fealty to power". A spiritual hierarchy of Immigrants < Unbelievers < Believers < Wealthy Believers < Priests & Anointed Politicians < J-Man & G-Man holds appeal for those with this kind of disposition.
  • Is there a culture war in the US right now?

    Quite a lengthy reply from someone who didn't trouble to read past my first sentence!
  • Is there a culture war in the US right now?
    There is utterly a culture war. I place the blame squarely at the feet of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

    At some point, some democratic strategist had a bright idea. It made so much sense! If the party moved to the left, what would that gain them? They were already the party of the left, and all votes to that side of the spectrum were effectively won. But what if they moved to the right? The left had nowhere else to go, the logic of winner takes all makes the emergence of a third party challenger unlikely. But suddenly, a whole universe of "reasonable republicans" would become accessible to their ballot boxes. They could only win!

    The Republicans might have responded by moving to meet them in the center. But they were cannier than that, they understood their side better: the right is not really about ideals, unless a tribal fealty to power is an ideal. So then, they moved to the right, and took their whole party with them. The democrats didn't gain shit. But, being morons, they chased after the republicans, left their whole base behind them, and became the party of nothing. The republicans, happy to oblige, moved themselves ever further right, straight into the abyss.

    Now we have a left which is abandoned, incohate, powerless, bewildered, and despairing, and a right, still delirious with their monumental upset in 2016, which has evolved into a full blown fascist clown cult. Media algorithms have further segregated the two sides to the point where they don't share a common frame of reference, they both walk the earth, but live in entirely separate worlds. They are entirely separate cultures, and entirely opposed. In such a situation, the "culture" war may plausibly be a prelude to plain, war.
  • Is Daniel Dennett a Zombie?

    Haha, OK. Way to white knight poor helpless old Dennett. I'll tell you what buddy, I'll spare him my sympathy if you spare him your "help". Really, he's fine, he doesn't need your help, even if it were not worthless. In fact, as a working philosopher, I'm sure he would quite resent this honorary rocking chair you want to place him on. These are not exactly new ideas of his, so I doubly don't understand what his age has to do with anything.
  • Is Daniel Dennett a Zombie?


    I think of perception as a kind of mathematical transformation, from the raw sensory data received and processed by cells into the purely symbolic domain of qualia. This transformation is done so that higher level computation can be performed within this symbolic domain. Our everyday conscious experience takes place within, or in terms of, this symbolic space. I *think* we are in agreement here, this is more or less a restatement of what you said above.

    Where I cannot follow you is your denial that this symbolic domain is experienced by us as " ineffable deeply personal qualit(ies)". They are deeply personal: each of has access to our own symbolic space, and no other. And they are certainly ineffable. Language is just not equipped to transmit them directly, it can only refer to them. Red would be incommunicable to a blind person, and so on.

    What is really confusing to me is that you seem to be saying that this first part, which I think we agree with, somehow implies a denial of the second part.

    So we all have blue experiences but they aren't really phenomenal qualities, no matter how much we like to say they are.Graeme M
    By "not really phenomenal qualities", you seem to mean that they are not qualities of the world. I think most here would agree, they are contrivances of our minds. But nonetheless they are phenomenal in the sense of phenomenalism, and in this sense they are real. They are the elementals of our inner lives.
  • Is Daniel Dennett a Zombie?
    There isn't anything that is an experience of red such that we could say it is your blue. It's meaningless... the phenomenal aspect of red...Graeme M
    But my "phenomenal aspect of red" is exactly that which we could say is your phenomenal aspect of blue.

    As long as we discriminate, that's it.Graeme M
    So if "that's it", and a robot can sort red and blue cards as well as you, must the robot have the same experience?

    If today the phenomenal aspect has a particular quality, then we'd recall all previous examples as being the sameGraeme M
    Why do you believe this? Why wouldn't your memories of previous phenomenal experience remain intact?

    Of course you would experience the world as "blue", that is, you'd have a concept of the colour blue that you could use to describe your experience of this world.Graeme M
    You are equating two things with a verbal equals sign that are entirely separate : "experience of the world", and "concept used to describe your experience". The fact that this distinction seems to elude you makes me suspect that you are, in fact, a p-zombie.

    Can you tell me anything about blue that doesn't depend on using a blue object to describe it?Graeme M
    Of course not. I'm just an ape pressing buttons which somehow show you symbols representing grunts which I would grunt at you if you were here. Anything can symbolically represent anything else, nothing better than language. But how on earth, given this very crude system, am I supposed to communicate the actual*content* of blue?? All I can do is symbolically represent it. You are asking way too much of abstracted grunts.
  • Is Daniel Dennett a Zombie?

    Since consciousness is internal, not observable, I cannot answer that. I can only infer. I think my dog is conscious. But lacking first hand experience, that is all I can say.
  • Is Daniel Dennett a Zombie?
    What IS the phenomenal experience of blue? I suspect nothing at all, beyond the distinctions it tokens.Graeme M

    A-Ha! Another Zombie shambles forth from the shadows! :P

    Again, I am confronted by three possibilities:

    1: I'm not getting it.
    Always an option, and here the most appealing and interesting one to me. I *almost* want to follow your reasoning. The notion that qualia *are* the "distinctions they token" (I like that). But at the end, this thought crashes against the bedrock of qualia.

    2: You're not getting it.
    Always a salient possibility on philosophy forums. You have philosophically blinded yourself to what is obvious. The least interesting option, and IMO the most likely.

    3: You are a zombie.
    Eerie, sad, somewhat terrifying. The world as divided into the souled and soulless. It would make for great sci-fi. But could it be real?
    The article and thread linked by @csalisbury is fascinating. There are a class of people who either:
    a. Lack the mental machinery for visualization. Sure, the brain is deeply flexible and can compensate for much, but wouldn't this be crippling? For instance, in driving?
    b. *Possess* this machinery, but are Zombies wrt it! And if we open that door... what if some of us are zombies to all of it!

    A few questions:
    There is a common thought experiement: suppose my experience of blue is your experience of red. This seems consistent and plausible. But in your view, the distinction is meaningless: we both discriminate, so there can be no difference. But why is this thought experiment so compelling?

    For you, the problem of building a machine with qualia is trivial: it just has to discriminate. So if I code up something with an arduino, BASIC, and a color sensor, is that thing experiencing qualia? Seems absurd, no?

    Let me offer a thought experiment.Graeme M
    If you were to plop me, a creature evolved in this colorful world, into that one, I would no doubt experience everything as blue. Perhaps that would fade over years. Natives of that world would have no experience nor concept of color, and would be baffled when I tried to communicate this chromatic monotony to them.

    Colour as some ineffable deeply personal quality isn't required.Graeme M
    That seeming not-required is part of the mystery!
  • Will the evolution of technology stop one day?
    Technology will stop the day that humanity does.

    Even if desires are ancient and unchanging, they are filtered through cultures, which are not.

    But even more important, technology doesn't happen in isolation, it exists in an environment. And environments are always changing, often as the result of technology itself.

    Much of the technology of the last 200 years evolved around breakthroughs surrounding the extraction and utilization of massive energy resource, fossil fuels, which were previously exploited only in minor ways. As this resource depletes, and as it effects the environment in ways that are inimical to life, new technology will have to develop to exploit new energy resources if we are to maintain even our present state of development.

    These new technologies, if can even be developed, will in turn undoubtedly affect the world in ways that will have to be remedied with more technologies. And so on.

    As this happens, biological technologies of terrifying complexity and cleverness are ceaselessly being developed, to exploit the food energy so much technology has been devoted to producing.

    I.E. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/03/science/coronavirus-genome-bad-news-wrapped-in-protein.html

    To combat, technologies of equal cleverness, such as vaccines, have to be endlessly developed, along with the technologies for producing and deploying them en masse.

    It is a technological arms race, much like actual arms races, which are also technological arms races. Millitary technology is developed in the milieu of competitors military technology. If successful, it then reshapes or disrupts that milieu, and so creates a new one, in which new technology is in turn developed. There is no end to such a process, except annihilation.
  • Is Scotty a murderer? The "transporter problem"
    I think the puzzle illustrates the breakdown of the concept of self as transcendent and persistent, absent a soul.

    If you admit to souls, the problem is merely theological: does the soul find the new, teleported body, or doesn't it?

    Without souls, it all seems to become a matter of opinion. Either you call the teleportee the same as the teleported, or you don't, it is just an intellectual preference.

    But this does not fit with the ontological stakes of the problem. My personal persistence seems to be an ontological question. If it is not ontological, if it is merely a matter of opinion, then this ontoloigical sense of self must be an illusion.
  • Theories without evidence. How do we deal with them?


    You seem to have mistaken Occam's Razor for something authoritative. :chin: It's just a rule of thumb, a way of guessing when we can think of no better way to proceed with our reasoning.

    There is nothing more authoritative available. As this theory is consistent with any given set of evidence, evidence cannot disprove it. With sufficient imagination an unlimited number of "theories" can be generated to explain any phenomenon. What if gravity was ultimately caused by invisible demons shoving things? And what if every cell in these demons bodies is in fact another universe? And what if in one of those universes reside the beings who have your brain in a vat?

    But these theories have no explanatory value, they merely add vast amounts of unwarranted complexity to our model of the universe. And so they can be ignored, whether or not you deem the authority to do so sufficient.
  • Theories without evidence. How do we deal with them?
    And it asks: how should we deal with such speculations, logically?Pattern-chaser

    I told you how. If BIV was a simplifying explanation of the way things are, it would be compelling. In fact, it is radically complexifying. The world it proposes is inconceivably more complex than the non BIV world. It necessitates beings of godlike sophistication and power, technology hundreds of orders of magnitude more advanced than ours. All of the complexity of the seeming-world is merely a microcosm manipulated by entities whose information processing capabilities are on par with our entire (observable) universe's.

    In short, It falls to Occam's razor.
  • Qualia is language
    After considering these responses I would like to weaken my claim.

    Qualia are abstract symbols. They represent the endpoint of a transformation of sensory data into a purely abstract plane. But it is too much to say they are a language. After all, we don't interpret these symbols, we operate in our day to day lives in this world of symbols, as if the symbols were reality itself. It took centuries of difficult work to discover what these symbols refer to.

    It seems likely that qualia exist to enable us to process information efficiently, at the symbolic level.
  • Theories without evidence. How do we deal with them?
    The Brain in the Vat is that it doesn't actually explain anything new. It doesn't answer any questions. It just proposes a scenario which is theoretically consistent with any set of observations.

    The problem is, the world it proposes approaches infinitely more complexity above a world which is not really a brain in a vat. And as the additional complexity approaches infinity, the likelihood approaches zero.
  • Qualia is language
    The smell of vanilla is the quale of smelling vanilla, not some separate thing indicated by the quale. — Dfpolis
    You misunderstand me. The smell of vanilla is the qualia, which is a symbol. It signifies the airborne vanilla molecules giving rise to the odor. We have no access to the reality, only to the symbols representing it: qualia.

    (1) qualia are not symbols, (2) qualia are not conventional and (3) we have no idea if they are shared or not — "Dfpolis
    (1) They certainly are. The vanillin molecule has nothing to do with the vanilla smell. The smell is purely symbolic, it points to the molecule.
    (2,3): This is an internal language, the body speaking to itself. But the body itself is a multiplicity, and if there is sharing and convention, they exist at that level.
  • Bias in news

    In your example, it would also be relevant to compare the reporting of this typhoon hitting Japan vs. one with a comparable impact in say the Philippines.

    My basic point is, to do "news", you must select facts (or make them up) among the infinite available, and emphasize them. But there can be nothing objective about this, this basic act of telling a story (true story, or not). This is the realm of narrative, not objectivity.
  • On the superiority of religion over philosophy.
    Why is a religion so good at commanding people to behave a certain way — Posty McPostface

    The answer is obvious. Religion operates on the basis of authority; philosophy, reason.

    That is why people find religion noxious. It is the poster-child of illegitimate authority.
  • Mathematical Conundrum or Not? Number Two
    Could a quantum computer not complete a supertask? Does this imply that the notion of discrete space is not required for motion, only that quantum reality prevails?
  • 'Panpsychism is crazy, but it’s also most probably true'


    Hi Phillip, welcome, I hope you stick around!

    My question is this: if experience is the intrinsic nature of brains, then wouldn't it be just as simple, and certainly more parsimonious, to say that elementary particles have no intrinsic nature?

    We either suppose that the intrinsic nature of fundamental particles involves experience or we suppose that they have some entirely unknown intrinsic nature.Philip Goff

    This would seem to be a false dichotomy; "nothing" is neither experience nor entirely unknown.
  • 'Panpsychism is crazy, but it’s also most probably true'
    I don't understand your objection. Can you really not reflect on your own experiences? Either you are suffering from massive brain damage, or you are just not thinking clearly about your inner life (it happens).

    But the article seems silly. We know the "intrinsic nature" of one very specialized, hyper-complex entity which might be both unique and uniquely complex over the whole universe, so lets just generalize that to everything, including elementary particles, it's probably true.

    It also presupposes that it makes sense to speak of an "intrinsic nature" of elementary particles or tire irons. This is a massive philosophical leap.
  • OIL: The End Will Be Sooner Than You Think
    I view the human species as a bacterium whose population exploded exponentially after discovering a remarkable source of energy, a puddle of oil. This suddenly huge colony was for all intents and purpose made of the oil it gobbled down as quickly as possible.

    This bacterium was "intelligent", and there was a general awareness that the puddle of oil it was gobbling was rapidly draining, and would soon be exhausted. This didn't matter though, for bacteria is bacteria, and the population continued gobbling uncontrollably, in a way that any individual bacterium was completely helpless to halt. If anything this "intelligence" made the problem worse, vast collective cleverness was put to the task of extracting and using this puddle as quickly as possible, and the colony was rapidly reorganized so that it was utterly dependent on its puddle to survive.

    A certain complacency developed among many of the bacteria, and they told themselves "We'll think of something when the puddle runs out. We always have before." After all, the bacteria had done startlingly clever things since finding the puddle. What they didn't realize was that all their ingenuity was essentially finding new ways to use the puddle. Without it they couldn't really do that much. And that the puddle was their food, without it they had very little to eat.

    Unsurprisingly, things went badly.
  • Is beauty in the object or in the eye of the observer? Or is it something else?

    If beauty is inherent in nature, how do you account for individual taste?

    You understand that symmetry is just a surrogate for genetic fitness. So what then is inherently special about symmetry? If there were a unsymmetrical being capable of appraising beauty, it would undoubtedly find it's own brand of asymmetry beautiful.

    Are there supposed to be fractal dragon equations inherent in the shit-stained canvas?
  • Is beauty in the object or in the eye of the observer? Or is it something else?
    so like if you enjoy the object 30% AND the object enjoys you back 40% - you have 70% beauty ?Benjamin Dovano

    Um, like, no. Not even close.

    I'm saying that beauty is a relationship. It is difficult to "prove" such a thing. But beauty certainly does not reside entirely *in* the object. That doesn't make sense. What is the material substratum for beauty? And it doesn't reside entirely *in* the subject either. If a million people walk in the gallery and judge the first painting superior, it suggests something existent outside of personal judgement is in play.
  • Is beauty in the object or in the eye of the observer? Or is it something else?
    Consider the case of two paintings hanging in a gallery. One is the Mona Lisa; the other is simply a canvas randomly smeared with feces and vomit. A man walks into the gallery, finds the first pleasing, and recoils in disgust from the second. Then a dog walks into the gallery, sniffs them both, and finds the second to hold vastly more aesthetic interest.

    Beauty is *both* in the object and in the eye of the observer. That is because it is a relation, between the properties of an object and the nature and tastes of the observer.
  • Time is an illusion
    Of course. I am asking why, if time really *is* every process, how is it possible that it's state can be communicable with a single number? For instance, seconds since the big bang? Or, from the discussion with apokrisis, 2.725K?
  • Time is an illusion
    If time is every process in the universe, then how is a single number sufficient to tell us the current state of time?
  • Time is an illusion
    A thermometer measures temperature and perhaps represents a conception of temperature, but in no way can you say a thermometer *is* temperature.
  • Time is an illusion
    That seems over-broad though, like saying that "Time is the universe." What isn't a process, or a part of one?
  • Time is an illusion

    I don't understand the conflation of the measurement of time and time itself. CBR might be a universal clock. But does it make sense, in response to the question "What is Time?", to point to a clock? Is there any justification in believing that time itself would stop if the universe were to stop expanding?
  • Time is an illusion

    Then how can a range over all processes have a speed relative to specific processes?
  • Time is an illusion

    When you said "time is just process.", I took that to mean that you regard time as somehow the abstract essence of processes. If not that, then what?
  • Time is an illusion



    Thanks for the stimulating reply. I am still stuck though.

    A realm of objects in eternal inertial motion is already as rock-bottom unchanging as you are going to get.

    We can imagine space as a 3D euclidean space, divided into a mesh of invisible little points or cubes. Motion then has an absolute meaning, as moving with respect to this mesh.

    But, this is a fiction. Motion is meaningful only relative to other frames of reference. That is fine, as objects are distributed throughout space, with their own separate velocities. But, if we were to claim that the *entire* universe is moving at some velocity, then, without this lattice of cubes to move against, this is exactly equivalent to saying that the universe is completely stationary.

    But what if we treat time as a 1D line, analogous with space? Then, unlike with space, every object is at the same point, and moving through time at the same rate. Which, unless you imagine absolute points along this 1D line, analogous to the lattice of cubes in space, is also like saying that every object is motionless in time. Or, if you invoke relativity, then objects are only moving in time to the degree that relativistic effects are observed.

    If we aren't moving through time, then how did I seem to start this at time t, and arrive at t + 20 seconds when I finished? Do we need the imaginary points, or some other unobservable, "unchanging backdrop thing"?

    Or can we dispense with time altogether? Everything is just process, at rates relative to each other and nothing else, in an eternal present? I am ignorant as to whether physics actually requires an ontologically existent time, as opposed to a formal notion which makes the equations work.
  • Time is an illusion
    How can Process Itself have a speed relative to actual processes?
  • Time is an illusion

    You can measure it's average position, the rate of jumping, it's average instantaneous speed between jumps... I'm talking about speed in the sense of rate of change.

    Another reason time can have no speed: change in time over time makes no sense.
  • Time is an illusion

    That is not an example, that is the topic. I have no faith in your authority as a physicist. And you yourself said that Einstein was an eternalist.

    I would say it is logically impossible for something to have no speed, and yet be dynamic.
  • Time is an illusion


    Not having speed is not the logical equivalent to is not dynamic.

    Explain then, or provide an example.
  • Time is an illusion

    Time does not have a speed.
    Speed is a measure of distance traveled in an amount of time.
    It does not make any sense to say time has a speed.

    Any dynamic process, a chemical reaction for example, has a speed. "Rate", if you prefer.
    Time, as you point out, cannot have a speed/rate.
    Therefore, time cannot be a dynamic process.

    You introduce a problem, how can a thing which is static be converted into an abstraction which is dynamic?

    Perhaps the entirety of time exists all at once, no one moment is more privileged than the next. What we perceive as a dynamic 3-dimensional system is really a static 4-dimensional one. The extra dimension gives "room" to project a 4-d static reality as a dynamic 3-d abstraction, just as the different chemical properties of different wavelengths of light allow for their projection as colors.
  • Time is an illusion

    Reality is not colorful, but it is colorful as we perceive it, or in the abstract, as you put it. According to you, this should be impossible. Or is there a difference between these two cases?

    Yes, time is a dimension. But saying that is not enough, time also keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future. We seem to be moving through this dimension, at a constant speed.
  • Illusive morals?
    I think the confusion arises because morality is in it's nature both objective and subjective. As you say, mores are not whims of the moment; they persist in the face of an individual's belief or disavowal of them, in the same manner that a teapot does. Mores may be studied and classified, and books are written about them which can be said to be accurate, or not. And yet, moralities are subjective, in that it has no reality outside of the minds of the societies which formulate them.

    The situation is analogous to the valuation placed on money, or gold. That money is valuable is a real, objective fact of the world; it makes the difference between someone wielding enormous power vs. a stack of worthless paper. And yet, there is nothing objective in the world which confers on money it's value, outside of the collective agreement of the individuals who use it.

    Maybe a new term is called for. Morality is neither objective nor subjective, but rather collective.
  • Time is an illusion

    Er ... no ... ever heard of relativity?
    Yes... and if one is foolishly brazen enough to issue grand pronouncements on the nature of time, he should at least mention relativity!

    So yes, time does have a speed, when measured against other frames of reference. And of course, these relative speeds are incredibly minute, at least as far as the everyday world is concerned.

    But I am arguing that time has no absolute speed. We can easily accept that motion can have only a relative speed, this accords more or less well with our intuitive understanding of motion. But with time, it is much more difficult. It clashes with the intuitive notion that time is plodding forward at a constant rate.

    So the problem remains: there are at most minute measurable differences, in most cases, in the relative speeds of time. But there is no such thing as an absolute speed of time. And without a speed, how can time, as we understand it, operate at all?