• What is Change?
    Some say that we have a change when a thing has a property at one time that it does not have at another.Bartricks

    Just drop the temporal bias and this will work. It's properties that change.

    We talk of unnoticed changes. How could these be, if change relies on sensation?
  • God exists, Whatever thinks exists, Fiction: Free Logic
    Yep. Kripke would say that Homo Floresiensis was not a hobbit, because the chain linking our use of "hobbit" to it's original use leads specifically to the imaginary race. But we might better think of this as a new use.
  • Best way to study philosophy
    I haven't read any philosophical matter, but I'd think that theology is a good place to start.john27

    Indeed - showing where theology is mistake is one, quite common, way to hone your critical skills.
  • Bannings
    Show me how you get that.tim wood

    You'r weird.
  • Bannings
    "espousing: 1. adopt or support (a cause, belief, or way of life)." (Online dictionary.)tim wood

    I am an unrepentant misogynist. For me, the concept that a woman should be considered the equal of a man, if he is any kind of man, is simply fucking ludicrousMichael Zwingli

    How you could read that as not adopting and supporting sexism is beyond me.
  • The dark room problem
    you keep disappearingapokrisis
    I'm still here.
  • The Strange Belief in an Unknowable "External World" (A Mere Lawyer's Take)
    how we know what the external world isHanover

    See how this assumes an external world?
  • The dark room problem
    The fact that a theory can explain all evidence doesn't distinguish between a good theory and a vacuous theory.SophistiCat
    Well, not quite. We want a theory that rules out things that are contradicted by the evidence.

    ...there is no way to establish which is the case other than scrutinizing the theory and how it purports to explain evidence. There are no easy shortcuts here to dismissive judgements.SophistiCat

    Yes! I quite agree. Small steps.

    ...seems to have an explanation for everythingSophistiCat
    Just to be sure, I'm not saying that PP/PEM seems to have an explanation for everything; but that it would be wrong to read it as having an explanation for everything. Does anyone here do that? Perhaps.
  • The dark room problem
    Not sure this is the right word. It seems to me that the very sophistication of the approach leads some to over-applying it.

    And I don't mean the authors of the articles referred to here, who seem almost surprised at the potential of their theorising, but those who might take their work as already having solved the problems of consciousness.
  • The dark room problem
    That's the long-expected post. Your habit of attacking the messenger has been noted by others.

  • The dark room problem
    It is for the contrived definition of "living" that seems to be used here, almost entirely by definition. If life is nothing but avoiding non-anticipated stimuli, then minimising non-anticipated stimuli means living longer?the affirmation of strife

    I'm not sure that's it. The argument is apparently along the lines that avoiding non-anticipated stimuli explains not only individual behaviour but environmental fit with respect to evolution. That's an astonishing claim, if it can be maintained.
  • The dark room problem
    Interesting. But that reinforces, rather than helps dispel, an instinctive distrust of theories that explain everything.

    You do understand that I am agreeing with you that this is an interesting area of research? But you seem to think that this little exercise has explained consciousness. That strikes me as overreach, and it seems I am not alone.

    I'm too old to watch videos. If you have a point you wish me to understand, write it or link to an article.
  • The dark room problem
    Cheers. I'm more interested in just causing mischief, but will take a look.
  • The dark room problem
    presented a particularly neat summation of the Watkins' article. In particular:
    The more interesting and hard problem is that all and some statements don't just inspire research hypotheses, they are conceptually related to research hypotheses and thus inspire research hypotheses. "All and some" statements purport to tell us how stuff works, so we go out looking as if it works that way.fdrake
    Hence the theory of evolution inspired wider research that was itself confirmable or falsifiable; and so on. Conservation laws are each examples of scientific statements that are neither falsifiable nor verifiable, but which have the singular advantage of underpinning expansive and efficacious explanations. They work.

    It tries to oversimplify human behavior,dimosthenis9
    Indeed, it does. So the question becomes one of how successful it is at doing so. It might be - indeed it seems likely - that this approach will lead to a better understanding of the function of various neural bits and pieces. It seems less likely that it will be able to explain why one person likes vanilla yet the other chocolate. And it will not demonstrate why you should vote Green. The temptation to look to unifying explanations is to be avoided if it leads to oversimplification.
  • The dark room problem
    So here's a bit more for the pot:

    The Dark Room Problem

    Again the point is made that an explanation for everything is an explanation for nothing.

    And again, the key discussion in relation to this is Watkins. Here's a link to his article: Confirmable and influential metaphysics. There's a thread on it elsewhere in the forums. I commend section seven, in which Watkins shows how to rationally assess what he calls "haunted universe" statements, such as "every action can be explained in terms of avoiding surprise".

    I do not think that any single criterion, such as conformity with existing science, can be laid down for assessing a haunted-universe doctrine. This taskis more like assessing the worth of a man's character than the legality of his acts. Conformity with existing science is a favourable factor, but it may be outweighed by a pragmatic estimate of the doctrine's possible influence on the future of science. There re also its bearings on psychology, history, social science, morals and politics to be systematically explored and collectively weighed

    SO there is no conclusion to be reached yet, only an interesting area to perhaps follow.

    @TheMadFool, there's your metaphysical evaluation. The rhetoric in this thread is also well worth attending to.

    Edit: fixed URL for Watkins article. The topical thread is at
  • The dark room problem
    Not sure what you mean. The free energy principle plays it's part, one must suppose, but the question is as to the extent of that part, no?
  • The dark room problem
    Half the garlic crop plucked so far. Some rot - about a quarter lost, I think. Set out to dry.

    Should have enough to last until mid winter, baring any surprises.

    But surprisingly there is a film crew about to arrive. I wonder what surprises they are avoiding. Best go have a wash.
  • The dark room problem
    And there's another problem. We _like_ confusion. The history of science is predicated on the attraction of surprise and confusion. There's nothing sweeter than an observation that doesn't fit the model. Moths to a flame.Kenosha Kid

    But it is not beyond the realms of possibility that curiosity itself drops out of the odd and obtuse considerations of thermodynamics - indeed, somehow, I suppose it must be so, if we are physical entities.

    The question then is, is this the right calculation, or is there another, or is further nuance needed?

    The point being, the point is unsettled.
  • The dark room problem
    Aren’t you just playing Buridan’s ass here?apokrisis

    Did you mean arse?

    That the free energy principle is the constraint that drives adaptive learning is what is in contention.

    Let’s get real about the scientific method.apokrisis

    Sound advice. To start, let's not take as fact that which has yet to be demonstrated.
  • The dark room problem
    The dark room is a red herring.

    What about when surprise becomes confusion?

    Yes, you can pick something (dark caves), apply it one way (our models wouldn't be fit for such an environment, maximising present surprise), and get the desired answer. Or pick something else (going night-diving), apply it in a completely different way (curiosity adds information to our model, minimising future surprise), and get a very different answer. That's not encouraging.Kenosha Kid

    Indeed, as I noted earlier, a theory that explains everything, explains nothing.
    Not clear to you or not clear to the neuroscientistapokrisis

    Both. I can minimise surprises by picking the garlic that will rot if left much longer. But in stead I came back to this surprisingly entertaining thread. Both of my actions are apparently explained by thermodynamics, and so thermodynamics explains nothing.

    That is, again, the theory is interesting but incomplete.

    Interestingly this seems to me to be much the same complaint that @Cartuna made in the Consciousness, Mathematics, Fundamental laws and properties thread - the tendency to overreach.
  • The dark room problem
    What I said still stands: the notion described in the article is interesting, but not decided.
    — Banno
    This is a reasonable conclusion.

    That's what I do. I sit in my armchair and reach reasonable conclusions. No surprises there.

    But surprisingly the sun is shining, so I'm off to look for more spiders under pots.

    Point being, despite some protestations to the contrary, it is still not clear how this fits in with thermodynamics and information theory.
  • The dark room problem
    Dark rooms for philosophizing?Cartuna

    I had in mind Descartes' "oven", in which he did his meditating. Perhaps an armchair in a comfy room with a laptop is the modern equivalent, the least surprising thing hereabouts.
  • God exists, Whatever thinks exists, Fiction: Free Logic
    I find it hard to deny the privatization of individualistic, thought generated imagery.john27

    Sure. You can play chess by yourself, but it is in essence a game for two players.

    Hobbits are for telling other folk stories.
  • The dark room problem
    A cave is no dark room.Cartuna

    Sure, caves are for things that crawl, dark rooms for philosophising. Both the big momma redback and I were surprised when I picked up the pot the other day, and she found that her cave was not as quite as she had supposed. She moved to the less surprising gap under the cupboard, I unsurprisingly put on some gloves. See how well both these behaviours are explained by surprise avoidance?

    The problem for the surprise minimisation hypothesis is explaining why Kenosha Kid goes night diving as well as why the spider likes dark crevices.

    And it ain't there yet.
  • God exists, Whatever thinks exists, Fiction: Free Logic
    Communal meaning generally similar privations of the concept, amalgamated in the general physical and mental outline of the hobbit.john27

    Needs an edit.
  • The dark room problem
    So I understand that you think the dark room objection carries some considerable force against the surprise avoidance hypothesis because behaviour is more complex than can be explained by that hypothesis. Is that right?
  • The dark room problem
    Sure, all that. What I said still stands: the notion described in the article is interesting, but not decided.
  • Looking for advice to solve an ethical conundrum
    So, what would you people say is the most moral course of action in this situation? Where should she go?Amalac

    Where she chooses. Even though her connection with reality is diminished, she ought be involved in any decisions made about what happens to her. All you can do is provide whatever support and advice you can. But take care not to feel responsible for her choices.
  • God exists, Whatever thinks exists, Fiction: Free Logic
    Simply put, it's about the concept, Hobbits.Sam26

    This bothers me. Not you, but others, will quickly decide that the concept "hobbit" is some sort of mental creature, and so exists in minds, and conclude that their concept of hobbit is different to your concept of hobbit, that concepts-of-hobbits are private, and all the nonsense that ensues.

    But hobbits are part of a shared game, the rules of which, although set by Tolkien, are subject to modification; Hobbits are a communal exercise.
  • The dark room problem
    Andy Clark (of The Extended Mind)SophistiCat

    Did we do a thread on that article? Perhaps its time for another look. Clark is a co-author on the Free-energy minimization and the dark-room problem article of the OP.
  • The dark room problem
    No mice were harmed in the preparation of that article.
  • The dark room problem
    That's much clearer than you first posts, which left me with the impression that you simply weren't addressing the article.
    There are other, better, more factual reasons why we fear dark caves.Kenosha Kid
    The difficulty with the surprise avoidance theory is that, even here, it provides an answer: the cave is to be avoided precisely because it holds surprises. You are right to draw attention tot he methodological issue, which seems to me to be the same as that addressed by Watkins, and used as the basis for a previous thread: namely that if any action on the part of an organism can be explained as avoiding surprise, then the explanatory value of the theory is zero. Those who see it as true in some a priori fashion (Apokrisis?) will always be able to explain any given observation in terms of the theory, but at the cost of introducing ad hoc hypotheses to make it fit.

    The problem is in trying to model all human behaviour according to one general rule when in fact it is an interplay between many physical processes evolved at different times in different environments, some overriding. Our fear of lurking tigers _is_ quite different from our innate curiosity for the novel, and should be treated as such.Kenosha Kid

    I would not be at all surprised to see in a few years a crusading pedagogue explaining how the only way to teach kids is to minimise the surprises to which they are exposed. And there will be schools that follow that advice, with mixed success.

    But then, it is fascinating to see ideas from different areas coming together in a more unified theory. The explanatory power of surprise avoidance will take years, and much subtle empirical evidence, to evaluate.
  • The dark room problem
    As I recall, I was quite content in my darkened room until I was expelled from it by a nightmare squeezing that left me beached on a bloody sheet gasping for breath. Breath was the second surprise. Darkened rooms are unavailable for a longer lease than about 9 months. Thereafter, minimising surprise involves seeking out surprise, aka novelty, in order to familiarise oneself with it. I think this is known as "learning|".unenlightened

    Yep. That's the argument.
  • The Strange Belief in an Unknowable "External World" (A Mere Lawyer's Take)
    The flies get out of the bottle and then a whole new generation of flies gets in.Cuthbert

  • God exists, Whatever thinks exists, Fiction: Free Logic
    "Paris", "London" and "porridge" were used, in order to mention, in this case, nothing.bongo fury

    I don't follow that. It's use, not mention. As for use in order to mention... I've no idea what your point might be.
  • God exists, Whatever thinks exists, Fiction: Free Logic
    "therefore Gollum exists".jorndoe

    Quite fun, isn't it?

    But see Inexpressibility of Existence Conditions. It seems we can't conclude that Gollum exists.
  • The dark room problem
    If free energy is the difference between expectation/prediction and actual sensory input, then the lower the free energy, the better the agent's prediction of its environment.Caldwell
    Yes, you are right, and I agree. Lower free energy implies adaptive fitness.

    This was what brought on my confusion:
    In fact, adaptive fitness and (negative) free energy are considered by some to be the same thing.

    And to get that, we also need that adaptive fitness implies lower free energy. It must just be my getting used to a new way to see adaptive fitness.

  • God exists, Whatever thinks exists, Fiction: Free Logic
    What was used, what mentioned?

    Porridge is porridge, but not "porridge", to be sure, but how would this be relevant?
  • The Strange Belief in an Unknowable "External World" (A Mere Lawyer's Take)
    To those who believe in a kind of transcendence, ie. the religious, the spiritual, the theists. Those who have a stake is some unknowable thing out there being one way and not another.baker

    The gullible? Perhaps you do have a point.