Something Instead of Nothing

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:49 pm

iambiguous wrote:Some think that their own attempts are freely chosen, while others think that, in thinking this, the attempts in and of themselves are just another manifestation of what we still don't know about how mindless matter could have evolved into brain matter evolving into human minds.


gib wrote: But you only say this because you were never not going to say it.


No, I keep pointing out that I do not have access to an argument that is able to convince me that I was either able to choose not to say it or that I was not able to choose not to say it.

And that the argument you propose is likely to be embedded in the same antinomy. The one revolving around the exact relationship between the brain as matter and the mind as brain. A relationship that [seemingly] can only be understood to the extent someone understands the existence of existence itself.

iambiguous wrote:
gib wrote:And BTW, why are you agreeing with me? What happened to the gap between what you think you know "in your head" and all that would be needed to know in order to say for sure what we are attempting to come to grips with?


But how would anything that we either agree or disagree about not still be embedded in the gap between what we think we know about these things here and now and all that can be known in about them in order to assess the reality of existence essentially, necessarily?


gib wrote:That's my question to you.


Actually, that's my question regarding the entire exchange. Is it unfolding only as it ever could have going back to an essential understanding of existence itself, or do we have the capacity to both ask and answer these questions with some measure of autonomy going back to an essential understanding of existence itself?

iambiguous wrote:I'm basically at a loss regarding why you can't own up to this profoundly significant chasm.


gib wrote: I'm at a loss regarding why you think I'm not owning up to it. I'm just not troubled by it.


But that just takes us to this: Were you ever able not to not be troubled by it?

Again, if, hypothetically, we lived on a planet that was wholly determined, an observer from an autonomous planet, could note that you are not troubled by it. But then his friend points out that, unlike them, you were never able to freely choose to be or not be troubled by it.

Though sure my thinking here could be flawed. If so, then, using this example, straighten me out.

iambiguous wrote:But how does this not immediately take us on to the next question: do you think that what you do think here is something that you chose to think "of your own free will"?


gib wrote: Everything takes you to that question, Biggy.


No, everything takes me to the question of how it can be determined that "everything" -- "anything" -- here was or was not ever within my capacity to have chosen otherwise.


gib wrote: That's just a generalization of the same question.


Note to others: What point do I keep missing here? However general or specific the questions, we either choose to ask them "of our own free will" or we were never able not to ask them.

iambiguous wrote:...there is no question that we choose our subjective experiences. Instead, the question is the extent to which it is possible that "I" could have freely chosen another experience instead. Or that I could have freely chosen to react to the experiences of others otherwise.


gib wrote: Clarity at last!!! Thanks Biggy! You see, now I understand your position a bit better.


Clarity? How clear can we be about any of this until an argument is framed that resolves the question such that all rational men and women are obligated to embrace it.

And how on earth is that possible until an argument is framed connecting the dots between this resolution and the ontological understanding of existence itself?

Or are your posts [and your book] as far as we need go?

gib wrote: So I see the banana as yellow because I choose to, but I could not have made any other choice (which is why it doesn't feel like a choice)... does that mean it's not really a choice, or that we only have one choice? And if it's not really a choice, does that make meaning impossible? As in, I see the banana as yellow, but that doesn't mean anything--certainly not that the banana is yellow.


In a wholly determined universe this would seem to be just the banana matter and the brain matter going through an "experience" that was never, ever going to unfold in any other way. Was never, ever able to. What's mindboggling of course is still the part where matter evolves into mind able to convince itself that the meaning it imparts to the experience seems to be one that the mind was able to not choose instead.

I note this...

iambiguous wrote:But I'm the one who has to live from day to day with what I have "here and now" thought myself into believing is true about these things. And, your own contentions to the contrary, it is a really, really, really grim point of view.


...and somehow you are convinced that these points reflect an effective response to it:

gib wrote: Let me tell you something about human nature, Biggy: we may get a certain measure of comfort out of the thought that there is a benevolent God watching over us, or an afterlife of everlasting bliss, or that we are free to make choices in this world, or that what we think we know is directly connected with the truth. But we are creatures of evolution, creatures built for survival. We are predominantly focused on finding means of survival in this world. So while all the above may give us a certain measure of comfort, there are far more pressing things to worry about. What good would it do us in the game of survival to count on an afterlife to secure our survival and well being? What good would it do us to believe in freedom from the laws of nature when the laws of nature are what we count on to predict and control our world? What good would it do us to worry about knowing the absolute truth about the very essence of ontology when all we really need to know is what's immediately in front of us and how to maneuver through the world in order to survive? If anything, evolution wants us to to have a grim outlook on the afterlife, for how better to motivate us to put off death for as long as possible? Evolution would want us to believe in the laws of physics, for how better to enable us to predict and control our world, thereby making survival that much easier.

For this reason, we are far more inclined to cling to and defend our beliefs and values regardless of whether they bring us comfort or are really, really, really grim. How pleasant or depressing our beliefs and values are is a very small factor in what motivates us to cling to or reject our beliefs and values. Evolution doesn't mind putting its children through a lot of shit--forced to endure a painful life with an asbolutely grim outlook--so long as our survival is ensured. And we are given the tools by which to do this to ourselves. We are creatures of thought. Cogitation is one of our most useful tools of survival. We try to figure things out, and once we do--once we've formed a cognitive model of the world that informs our values and our actions--we cling to it like a newborn to its mother. And if we don't figure it out ourselves, we learn it from others--through our upbringing, through frequent contact with our social groups, through trusted authorities, etc. <-- This means that our beliefs and values perform and very powerful social function. Clinging to our beliefs, therefore, is not only a matter of fearing ignorance or being wrong, but of maintaining harmony and cohesiveness with our community. It helps communication immensely, and oils the wheels of friendly socialization, of healthy relationships, or being accepted. This is primarily why we cling to our beliefs and value, why it matters very little how delightful or grim they are. When our beliefs and values are torn apart, a terrible sense of insecurity settles in; we feel naked, defenseless, forced to grope in the dark. And we risk the scorn of our peers who will ultimate outcast us. While it may be a grim prospect that we are not really free, or that the knowledge gap is unbridgeable, or that the obliteration of the 'I' upon death is inevitable, the tearing down of our beliefs and values is absolutely horrifying.

The fact of the matter is, you could easily believe in whatever you want. Believing in something based on faith is one of the most natural things the human mind can do. Other people do it all the time. And I keep telling you, Biggy, you're not special. You could convince yourself that you have an answer. Whatever seems the most plausible. Make all that grimness go away. There's not really a lot stopping you except an instinct, one that we all share, to cling to whatever beliefs and values you've been clinging to up until now.


None of this enables me to grasp if my "really really really grim point of view" is or is not "beyond my control".

And none of it enables me to grasp in turn the extent to which the things that I cling to or defend is or is not "beyond my control".

We do seem able to grasp that the evolution of life on earth has culminated [so far] in the minds of our own species. But that doesn't resolve the quandaries embedded in dualism, in the mysteries entangled in the part where the brain ends and the mind begins.

And then, for others, the part where the mind ends and the soul begins.

And "the fact of the matter" is that I don't know if what I come to "easily believe" is or is not in turn "beyond my control". I only think I know this based on all of the information and knowledge and ideas I have fortuitously bumped into over the course of living this one entirely unique life.

Same with you.

Really, can you even begin to grasp all of the information, knowledge and ideas that you have not yet happened upon relating to these relationship.

Explored in, for example, these arguments: https://www.google.com/search?q=free+wi ... es&ie=&oe=

iambiguous wrote:Bingo. You admit that your own answers here may be right, may be wrong. But [from my frame of mind] that's not the point. Instead, the point is that you have managed to convince yourself that there is a right answer to be had here. So, again, why not yours. It's the part about having an answer -- any answer -- that propels the objectivist mind.


gib wrote: I don't get it. Are you saying that my "I may be right, I may be wrong," attitude implies that I have the answer? Or that there is an answer out there and it may be mine but it may not?


Okay, let's try to pin this down more. Do you believe that, in regard to the relationship between the brain as matter and the human mind this matter has evolved into, "I" is able to understand it such that it can be determined whether or not "I" am freely choosing to type these words or, instead, "I" was never able not to type them?

To what extent do you construe your arguments here as true objectively? To what extent are you able to demonstrate that there is in fact one right answer and that you are convinced it is yours?

Otherwise you would seem to embrace the assumption that "I'm right from my side and you're right from yours". Based entirely on the intital conflicting premises that the arguments falls back on.

gib wrote: If I'm right, then there is an answer out there and it's mine. If I'm wrong, then *maybe* there's an answer out there that isn't mine, or maybe there is no answer. Maybe the truth is beyond human comprehension.


Or maybe you were never able to come to any other conclusion but that one. Your "theory of mind" being just another sequence of dominoes toppling over "inside your head" reconfiguring necessarily into a sequence of words in a book that was never able not to be written.

But this "intellectual contraption"...

gib wrote: I struggled with this for a while when trying to flesh out the logic of my theory of mind. The question for me was: how can I propose to know anything about the things outside my mind when my own theory says that 1) such knowledge would really be just another mental artifact inside my mind (an intellectual contraption as you put it), and that 2) anything outside my mind is necessarily incomprehensible (except maybe for other people's minds)? But then I stumbled upon a whole new way of thinking about the relation between knowledge and the known. I call it the "key and lock" model--to be contrasted with the "copy" model. It says that our concepts and knowledge of the things outside our minds are not to be thought of as "copies" of those things, but as keys to a lock. The concept or knowledge in the head is like a key and the things conceived or known are like the lock for that key. <-- The point being that they didn't have to "match" but that there could still be a connection between them, that the one could belong to the other.

^ But anyway, the point is that as my theory stands today, I have a way of conceptualizing a connection between what I think I know "here and now" and what there actually is out there in the world. I know I haven't explained it in enough detail for you to get it, but there it is. Still, it doesn't provide me with a right to say I know I'm right. The keys I have in my mind *may* be the right ones for the locks out there, but they may not be. And this includes the very "key and lock" model that allows me to say this. If the key and lock model is wrong, then I'm back to square one--having to take seriously the prospect that what I think I know here and now can't match anything out there--and this remains a possibility even while taking comfort in what my key and lock model of knowledge allows me to believe.


.... is entirely too abstract to be of any practical use to someone like me. How on earth would/could this be related to the actual behaviors that we choose? In either the either/or world or in the is/ought world?

So, in regard to your increasing exasperation with me as someone not able to grasp the points you make, is that just an exercise in polemics? Or do you really believe that, as intellectual contraptions go, yours is right up there with the best of them. And mine is not.

iambiguous wrote:The fucking answer!!!

To me, that's analogous to insisting that you believe in the existence of the fucking God! And then demonstrating that He does in fact fucking exist!!


gib wrote: Fuck yeah!!!


Sure, as long as just insisting that something is true need be as far an one goes.

iambiguous wrote:
gib wrote:You phrase it: "I could have chosen different, if I wanted to."--the catch being that your wanting to is the determining force that decides your choosing one way or another. That we were destined to choose one way over another is neither here nor there with compatibilism.


But my wanting to is or is not no less entangled in my having to want to.


gib wrote: That's exactly what I just said.


But: Is that exactly what you were only ever able to say? And, if so, what are the existential implications of that regarding all of the other things that you think, feel, say and do?

How on earth is your theory of mind relevant here? And, in a wholly determined universe, how is anything that you claim to mean here not just the next sequence of dominoes "in your head" as nature unfolds necessarily.

And then the part about how time fits into all of this. Is the future only as it ever can be? And what is this "time" that matter topples over mechanically into?

And the fact that you figure you are more comfortable with what you think you mean here is only just another inherent component of reality itself. Yet you express it as though this were an accomplishment of yours. An accomplishment that you were never able not to achieve if "I" is no less determined than all other matter. And you point out that you can't help me in what may well be a world in which there was never any possibilty of you not thinking and feeling this.

gib wrote: Now, I realize this is just another intellectual contraption but I hope it at least offers you a way of thinking about determinism that doesn't have to imply that reason and logic are ultimately illusory.


If the reason and the logic that any particular mind is able to utilize to function only as it ever could have functioned then that reason and logic exist only as they ever could have existed in turn.

But we do not seem to have the capacity to determine if this is in fact the case or not. It's just that some think they do have that capacity and others think they don't.

Then it's either/or [if it is either/or] all the way down to whatever brought into existence the existence of existence itself.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:30 pm

phyllo wrote:
Here we go again...

1] first you seem willing to exchange substantive posts regarding one or another philosophical issue
2] then over time something analogous to contempt seems to creep into your posts...I become the issue
3] then you abandon the exchange -- actually responding to the points I raised above -- for a "retort" like this one
4] then you steer clear of me altogether until the next "round"

Or, rather, so it seems to me.


For one thing, you repeat yourself. It's like I'm reading the same things over and over. If I try to shift to something new, then you either don't understand, or you ignore it completely or you ignore it by shifting to something you prefer to talk about.


Okay, I'll leave it to others to determine for themselves how accurate accusations of this sort are. Provided of course this is something that they are actually able to determine for themselves freely, autonomously.

phyllo wrote: And then there is the fact that you don't seem to remember anything that I have written. I wrote several times about my ideas of self which seem to be completely lost on you. What you remember seems to be mostly a stereotype person - not me. This is particularly evident when you bring up my 'supposed' thoughts about God, religion and communism.


Okay, let's give this one more shot...

1] Explain and describe your ideas about the self in a particular context we might all be familiar with. How are these ideas integrated into actual behaviors that you choose such that the manner in which you construe the meaning of God, religion and Communism become easier to understand.

2] How is your argument embedded less in an existential contraption and more in a set of assumptions that all rational men and women are likely to adhere to.

3] how do you go about making moral choices on this side of the grave given the manner in which you construe the fate of your self on the other side of it?

And how is all of this then understood by you given the arguments of some that, in a determined universe, all such explanations and descriptions are only as they ever could have been given that the mind is a manifestation of the brain is a manifestation of the matter that interacts given laws embedded in how the existence of existence itself came into being.

As for the part about "rational human beings", my aim is always to zero in on an actual contexts in which behaviors come into conflict. And then to explore the extent to which any particular behavior might be called rational or irrational. And then in exploring how that might be demonstrated beyond "general description" arguments embedded in intellectual contraptions.


phyllo wrote: If you can't distinguish good and bad in general (or in a context), then how can you possibly distinguish rational and irrational in general (or in a context)???


So, what do you do? You head straight back up into the clouds.

What is generally -- fundamentally -- good and bad in any particular context? Let's focus in on conflicting value judgments from the news that the objectivists on both the left and the right might construe to be in sync with that which is generally good or generally bad.

How does any particular "I" come to embrace one frame of mind here rather than another? Assuming that human autonomy does in fact exist.

phyllo wrote:

Think about what you are asking.

You can't explore it because you have no basis for deciding what is rational and what is irrational. There is no way to get off the starting line.
:confusion-shrug:


On the contrary, I make a clear distinction between that which we are able to determine is in fact true for all of us or is in fact false for all of us --- regarding any particular context.

The basis for determining what is in fact true revolves around the extent to which it can be demonstrated that what we believe is true is in sync with the laws of nature, with mathematical proofs, with empirical evidence and with the logical rules of language.

Does God exist?
Is abortion immoral?
Is building Trump's wall the right thing to do?
Are the choices we make autonomous?
Did everything explode into existence out of nothing at all?

And on and on and on.

What needs to be known by any particular "I" to answer these questions objectively?

Then the part [on this thread] where it is demonstrated that this knowledge is something that any particular "I" is able to acquire autonomously.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:55 pm

Mad Man P wrote:
iambiguous wrote:If there is an actual door, I will see it just as you two do. Instead, my focus is on the extent to which I am choosing to see it given that I could have freely chosen not to see it. Or given that this choice -- all of our choices -- are really only as they ever could have been.


You're only reiterating the implications of a deterministic world. Everything from the smallest event to the most complex are only as they ever could have been.


What I am reiterating is the fact that I am pulled in both directions when trying to determine if in fact this is true.

Mad Man P wrote: But consider that our species forms low resolution mental models of the world and the mechanics that propel one event into the next, and that this allows us to imagine alternative outcomes of past events and predicting outcomes of some future events.

That is not to say they ever could have been different.. but our ability to imagine it being different if only we had done x instead of y, is how we might adjust our behavior and navigate the world.


But how is this ability to imagine and to navigate not in turn wholly in sync with that which could only ever have been.

Instead, some might argue, the natural evolution of matter into the human brain has created this truly extraordinary matter. Mind matter actually able to become conscious of itself as matter able to convince itself that "I" is choosing what it does "freely".

This is what neuroscientists are attempting to pin down. But: Have they accomplished it?

I suspect instead that all of us will go to the grave believing that what we think we know is...is what exactly?

How do we even begin to grapple with these relationships given that gap between what we think we know and all that there is yet to be known?

Sure, we can marvel at questions this big. And they make for some truly intriguing answers.

But the answer?

Mad Man P wrote: Even if every thought or action we ever have or take is predetermined, it does not change the process by which they arrived...

It is parts of this process we might take ownership of and the results of those parts that we could call "choice"


This is [admittedly] the part I may well be tripping up on. How is the "process" itself not but one more manifestation of a wholly determined universe?

Does "I" have any more autonomous control over that?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:12 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote: These were certainly my experiences: 1)
phyllo wrote: For one thing, you repeat yourself. It's like I'm reading the same things over and over. If I try to shift to something new, then you either don't understand, or you ignore it completely or you ignore it by shifting to something you prefer to talk about.


Right: Repetition if it applies or not. And as if one has not understood what is repeated.


Okay, you too:

1] Explain and describe your ideas about the self in a particular context we might all be familiar with.

2] How is your argument embedded less in an existential contraption and more in a set of assumptions that all rational men and women are likely to adhere to.

And how is all of this then understood by you given the arguments of some that, in a determined universe, all such explanations and descriptions are only as they ever could have been given that the mind is a manifestation of the brain is a manifestation of the matter that interacts given laws embedded in how the existence of existence itself came into being.


Yeah, after a while I get enough of it


Karpel Tunnel wrote: And when you get irritated, he interprets this as his discussion partner feels threatened. Not once can he consider that it might be for the reasons given. He certainly leaves open that his interpretation might be incorrect, but cannot manage to actually consider ANY OTHER INTERPRETATION for why others get angry. And despite his own philosophy he will happily tell someone else what they believe and what their minds are like. Through the mists of dasein he only finds one thing, every time.


Yet another round of huffing and puffing in which I become the issue.

Look, if you have no respect for either the points I make or the manner in which I express them, fine. Move on to others. But here you are piling on with Phyllo in order to inform others of just how far removed I still am from taking philosophy seriously.

Like you do, right?

Anyway, with any luck, your own contributions to this thread will only have been what they could ever have been.

Not unlike, for example, mine.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:13 pm

So, what do you do? You head straight back up into the clouds.
I ask you to state what rational and irrational mean so that we can discuss it in this forum and you accuse me of heading up into the clouds. Are you fucking kidding???
The basis for determining what is in fact true revolves around the extent to which it can be demonstrated that what we believe is true is in sync with the laws of nature, with mathematical proofs, with empirical evidence and with the logical rules of language.

Does God exist?
Is abortion immoral?
Is building Trump's wall the right thing to do?
Are the choices we make autonomous?
Did everything explode into existence out of nothing at all?

And on and on and on.

What needs to be known by any particular "I" to answer these questions objectively?

Then the part [on this thread] where it is demonstrated that this knowledge is something that any particular "I" is able to acquire autonomously.
Is that it? Is that your definition of rational?

A rational human is someone who demonstrates that a belief "is in sync with the laws of nature, with mathematical proofs, with empirical evidence and with the logical rules of language".

Is that your answer?

If it is, then we can tackle abortion.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:44 pm

phyllo wrote:
So, what do you do? You head straight back up into the clouds.
I ask you to state what rational and irrational mean so that we can discuss it in this forum and you accuse me of heading up into the clouds. Are you fucking kidding???


And I responded to that above:

As for the part about "rational [or irrational] human beings", my aim is always to zero in on actual contexts in which behaviors come into conflict. And then to explore the extent to which any particular behavior might be called rational or irrational. And then in exploring how that might be demonstrated beyond "general description" arguments embedded in intellectual contraptions.

We have tools in the either/or world for distinguishing between reasonable and unreasonable thoughts and feelings and behaviors. Are those tools applicable in turn to the is/ought world?

Well, the only recourse we have is to focus in on the behaviors of particular human beings out in a particular context and discuss that which we contrue to be either rational or irrational.

Right?

Only this tread is more intent on exploring the extent to which, in regard to human interactions, the is/ought world is actually just another manifestaion of the either/or world.

The basis for determining what is in fact true revolves around the extent to which it can be demonstrated that what we believe is true is in sync with the laws of nature, with mathematical proofs, with empirical evidence and with the logical rules of language.

Does God exist?
Is abortion immoral?
Is building Trump's wall the right thing to do?
Are the choices we make autonomous?
Did everything explode into existence out of nothing at all?

And on and on and on.

What needs to be known by any particular "I" to answer these questions objectively?

Then the part [on this thread] where it is demonstrated that this knowledge is something that any particular "I" is able to acquire autonomously.


phyllo wrote: Is that it? Is that your definition of rational?


You [and others here] are the ones ever intent on defining it. I am more intrigued instead with the extent to which one can take his or her definition out into the world of human interactions and note for us the actual existential parameters/implications of what they think it means.

phyllo wrote: A rational human is someone who demonstrates that a belief "is in sync with the laws of nature, with mathematical proofs, with empirical evidence and with the logical rules of language".

Is that your answer?

If it is, then we can tackle abortion.


Yeah, that's one way in which to encompass it out in the world of human interactions. Is it the only way? Maybe not. All I can do in places like this is to take note of other arguments.

So, let's focus in first on what it means to "tackle abortion" given the manner in which you define rational.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:11 pm

You [and others here] are the ones ever intent on defining it.
You're the one who is constantly using the word 'rational' in your posts.
If you don't have a definition for it, then what are you saying in your posts?
Yeah, that's one way in which to encompass it out in the world of human interactions. Is it the only way? Maybe not. All I can do in places like this is to take note of other arguments.
So you won't commit yourself to one definition of 'rational'.

That makes it kind of difficult to demonstrate what all rational men and women are obligated to believe.

If it's impossible to figure out what 'rational' means, then what's there to discuss?
So, let's focus in first on what it means to "tackle abortion" given the manner in which you define rational.
If you had a definition of 'rational' then you could determine whether abortion is consistent with that definition or not.

That would be a demonstration of what all rational men and women are obligated to believe about abortion.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:08 pm

phyllo wrote:
You [and others here] are the ones ever intent on defining it.
You're the one who is constantly using the word 'rational' in your posts.
If you don't have a definition for it, then what are you saying in your posts?


First of all, as I note over and over again, any defintion that any of us give is only applicable given the gap between how we define rational and how any definition of it is either in sync or out of sync with a conplete understanding of existence itself.

So, is how our species defines rational here on planet earth close enough to whatever the exact definition in fact is from the perspective of, say, God or of some pantheistic entity?

Yeah, that's one way in which to encompass it out in the world of human interactions. Is it the only way? Maybe not. All I can do in places like this is to take note of other arguments.


phyllo wrote: So you won't commit yourself to one definition of 'rational'.

That makes it kind of difficult to demonstrate what all rational men and women are obligated to believe.


I'm willing to start with the definition derived from the OED:

rational:

The quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic. The quality of being able to think sensibly or logically.

Okay, how "on earth" in any particular context where the behaviors of human beings come into conflict is that applicable?

And, in using that definition, is it rational or irrational to think that those behaviors are chosen autonomously by free human beings?

In other words, how exactly would I [would any of us] go about demonstrating that one frame of mind here is either the most rational assessment or the only rational assessment?

You first.

phyllo wrote: If it's impossible to figure out what 'rational' means, then what's there to discuss?


We can discuss whether or not it is impossible to figure out what 1] rational or 2] "rational" or 3] Rational means. And then take that meaning out into the world of conflicting human interactions in a world where those conflicts may or may not be just more dominoes toppling over onto each other as they were only ever able to in the first place.

And then we can explore what it means to speak of "the first place". The Big Bang? The Garden Of Eden? The will of God?

So, let's focus in first on what it means to "tackle abortion" given the manner in which you define rational.


phyllo wrote: If you had a definition of 'rational' then you could determine whether abortion is consistent with that definition or not.

That would be a demonstration of what all rational men and women are obligated to believe about abortion.


Okay, back to the OED:

rational:

The quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic. The quality of being able to think sensibly or logically.

abortion:

An operation or other procedure to terminate pregnancy before the fetus is viable or the premature termination of pregnancy by spontaneous or induced expulsion of a nonviable fetus from the uterus.

morality:

Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Given these definitions, is it or is it not moral to abort a human fetus?

Or, given your own definitions.

In fact, you seem inclined to embrace James S. Saint's "definitional logic" here. If, of course I understand you.

Sure, if someone defines rational and abortion such that "by definition" an abortion is immoral, that is as far as he need go insofar as as something is true "in his head."

Or his your point here different?
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Meno_ » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:31 pm

Left out: The legal definition , which usually rules here on earth.

In outer space on another planet millions of miles distant , we can't yet know.

Was Kant right or wrong about some acts are irrevocable right or wrong?

Is it wrong for me to write this here and now? Would an innate feeling rule over common sense?

Can my penmanship compare to some. kind of hidden rule?

See how the figure of speech has a silent commitment to meaning?
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:41 pm

We can discuss whether or not it is impossible to figure out what 1] rational or 2] "rational" or 3] Rational means.
Obviously it's possible since there is a meaning written out in the dictionary.

Is there something wrong with that meaning? If yes, then what is wrong with it?
Okay, back to the OED:

rational:

The quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic. The quality of being able to think sensibly or logically.

abortion:

An operation or other procedure to terminate pregnancy before the fetus is viable or the premature termination of pregnancy by spontaneous or induced expulsion of a nonviable fetus from the uterus.
The word 'logic' is fairly specific but the words 'reason' and 'sensible' are too general. One would need to get a more precise meaning for those words. I can't do that because I don't have an account on OED.
morality:

Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Given these definitions, is it or is it not moral to abort a human fetus?
Notice how you shifted the goal posts from figuring out if abortion is rational to figuring out if abortion is moral.

Nice try.
Sure, if someone defines rational and abortion such that "by definition" an abortion is immoral, that is as far as he need go insofar as as something is true "in his head."
That assumes that you can give words any definition that you like. In fact, the dictionary definitions are a compilation of how words are used by people. The words reflect something that people see in the world - they see rationality and abortion - and they create the words which represent it. 'Rational' is some characteristic thought and/or behavior.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:31 pm

iambiguous wrote:
Mad Man P wrote: Even if every thought or action we ever have or take is predetermined, it does not change the process by which they arrived...

It is parts of this process we might take ownership of and the results of those parts that we could call "choice"


This is [admittedly] the part I may well be tripping up on. How is the "process" itself not but one more manifestation of a wholly determined universe?

Does "I" have any more autonomous control over that?


I fail to see why being a part of the universe should pose a problem... Even given determinism, by being a part of the universe, you are by definition part of the equation that determines what happens next.

Consider that in the fullness of time, even a non-deterministic universe, in which we all have magical autonomy somehow, will end up being immutable...
In such a universe you cannot change your past or make it different, yet would you not own your choices from the past all the same?

You focus on our ability to do differently.. but our ability to do differently is inconsequential to the question...
What matters is our will... that we chose according to our will.

You cannot be free from yourself... and I suspect that is where you are stuck.
You are something you did not choose, but what you ARE is someone that has, does and will choose...
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby gib » Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:34 am

iambiguous wrote:No, I keep pointing out that I do not have access to an argument that is able to convince me that I was either able to choose not to say it or that I was not able to choose not to say it.


Ah, but have you ever consider that maybe you keep pointing that out because we live in a universe in which the laws of matter make it such that you could never have not pointed that out?

BTW, why are you so hung up on this particular question? Why not be like Descartes and worry about evil demons? Or question whether we're in the Matrix? Or whether this is all just a dream? There's a million and two scenarios you could bring up that throw certainty and agency into question. Why the one about laws of matter making your brain think, say, and do stuff?

iambiguous wrote:But that just takes us to this: Were you ever able not to not be troubled by it?

Why would I care?

Again, if, hypothetically, we lived on a planet that was wholly determined, an observer from an autonomous planet, could note that you are not troubled by it. But then his friend points out that, unlike them, you were never able to freely choose to be or not be troubled by it.

Haven't those aliens got anything better to do?

Though sure my thinking here could be flawed. If so, then, using this example, straighten me out.


Nope, it's pretty spot on... and pointless.

iambiguous wrote:Clarity? How clear can we be about any of this until an argument is framed that resolves the question such that all rational men and women are obligated to embrace it.


Sorry Biggy, got my clarity. I ain't givin it back.

iambiguous wrote:None of this enables me to grasp if my "really really really grim point of view" is or is not "beyond my control".


Are you under the impression I'm trying to help you?

iambiguous wrote:Okay, let's try to pin this down more. Do you believe that, in regard to the relationship between the brain as matter and the human mind this matter has evolved into, <-- That's not what I believe but we'll go with that. "I" is able to understand it such that it can be determined whether or not "I" am freely choosing to type these words or, instead, "I" was never able not to type them?


Given the picture you're giving me (brain evolving into mind), and the sciences these brains have collectively built up and share amongst themselves, I'd say the picture is looking pretty deterministic. I mean, I don't know how anyone can confirm that with certainty (is someone going to monitor each and every movement of every particle in every brain at all times?), but the most parsimonious picture is that the laws of chemistry, biology, and electrodynamics (all of which are at work in the brain) all work together to keep the brain pretty much under their control. Then there's the quantum consciousness theorists who want to take quantum indeterminism and amplify it to the level of neurons, thereby giving credence to the idea of free will (your of free will), and I don't know enough to rule that out.

I guess in brief, I flip a coin and say no, "I" is not able to determine whether "I" freely choose or has no choice.

iambiguous wrote:To what extent do you construe your arguments here as true objectively? To what extent are you able to demonstrate that there is in fact one right answer and that you are convinced it is yours?


Why do I feel like I'm writing an essay?

I just flipped a coin. I'm not certain about my answer at all. And it's not even my answer because it's prefaced by an assumption that I don't agree with (brain evolving into mind).

iambiguous wrote:Otherwise you would seem to embrace the assumption that "I'm right from my side and you're right from yours". Based entirely on the intital conflicting premises that the arguments falls back on.


Well, sure, relativistically speaking everyone's right from their own side.

What are the conflicting premises again?

iambiguous wrote:So, in regard to your increasing exasperation with me as someone not able to grasp the points you make, is that just an exercise in polemics? Or do you really believe that, as intellectual contraptions go, yours is right up there with the best of them. And mine is not.


It's mainly an excuse to write out my thoughts (it's not really polemical); and it's partially for anyone to read, not just you.

iambiguous wrote:The fucking answer!!!

To me, that's analogous to insisting that you believe in the existence of the fucking God! And then demonstrating that He does in fact fucking exist!!

gib wrote:
Fuck yeah!!!

Biggy wrote:
Sure, as long as just insisting that something is true need be as far an one goes.


FUCK YEAH!!!

You know what you need Biggy? A sense of humor!

iambiguous wrote:But: Is that exactly what you were only ever able to say? And, if so, what are the existential implications of that regarding all of the other things that you think, feel, say and do? Write a 3 page essay specifying the advantages and disadvantages of your answer. Site 5 sources to support your point. You have 30 minutes.

How on earth is your theory of mind relevant here? Hey, if you can't handle traditional compatibilism, you don't want to know what my theory has to say about. And, in a wholly determined universe, how is anything that you claim to mean here not just the next sequence of dominoes "in your head" as nature unfolds necessarily.

Ugh... we've been over this.

And then the part about how time fits into all of this. Is the future only as it ever can be? And what is this "time" that matter topples over mechanically into?

Huh? When did time come into the picture?

And the fact that you figure you are more comfortable with what you think you mean here is only just another inherent component of reality itself. No, my comfort comes from la-la land. Yet you express it as though this were an accomplishment of yours. Now you're projecting. An accomplishment that you were never able not to achieve if "I" is no less determined than all other matter. Aaah, so you don't think I deserve the credit. And you point out that you can't help me in what may well be a world in which there was never any possibilty of you not thinking and feeling this.


Yeah, pretty grim huh?

iambiguous wrote:If the reason and the logic that any particular mind is able to utilize to function only as it ever could have functioned then that reason and logic exist only as they ever could have existed in turn.

But we do not seem to have the capacity to determine if this is in fact the case or not. It's just that some think they do have that capacity and others think they don't.

Then it's either/or [if it is either/or] all the way down to whatever brought into existence the existence of existence itself.


And here we come full circle. Did the existence of existence exist before the existence of existence started to exist? In other words, did something come from nothing? And if so, why something instead of (a continuation of) nothing?

You and me, Biggy, let's tackle this one and put it to rest once and for all.

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 22, 2018 6:39 pm

phyllo wrote:
We can discuss whether or not it is impossible to figure out what 1] rational or 2] "rational" or 3] Rational means.
Obviously it's possible since there is a meaning written out in the dictionary.

Is there something wrong with that meaning? If yes, then what is wrong with it?


In what context though?

If the dictionary says that rational means "the quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic" is there something wrong with the argument that Hillary Clinton is now the president of the United States?

Is there something wrong with the argument that Clinton ought to have been elected because she got more of the popular vote?

Is there something wrong with the argument that Trump is doing a superb job as the president of the United States?

Can the dictionary definition clarify or resolve conflicted arguments in each context?

Okay, back to the OED:

rational:

The quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic. The quality of being able to think sensibly or logically.

abortion:

An operation or other procedure to terminate pregnancy before the fetus is viable or the premature termination of pregnancy by spontaneous or induced expulsion of a nonviable fetus from the uterus.


phyllo wrote: The word 'logic' is fairly specific but the words 'reason' and 'sensible' are too general. One would need to get a more precise meaning for those words. I can't do that because I don't have an account on OED.


Suppose you had access to the most precise meaning of "reason" and "sensible" in the world. Would this then allow you to state that, "given these definitions", it is 1] reasonable and sensible to abort a human fetus, or 2] it is not reasonable and sensible to abort a human fetus.

morality:

Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Given these definitions, is it or is it not moral to abort a human fetus?


phyllo wrote: Notice how you shifted the goal posts from figuring out if abortion is rational to figuring out if abortion is moral.

Nice try.


Note to others:

All I am able to assume here is this: that he is making a solid argument I keep missing. Shifting the goal posts is basically my point. To speak of something being both irrational and moral or rational and immoral...what on earth does that mean given a particular context precipitating particular conflicting behaviors around an issue like abortion?

There are any number of philosophers down through the ages who had intertwined rationality and morality. My argument instead is only to suggest that the relationship is embedded more in...

1] an existential contraption fabricated and then refabricated at the intersection of identity, value judgments and political power
2] an existential contraption embedded in a particular historical, cultural and interpersonal context
3] an existential contraption ever subject to reconfiguration in a world of continency, chance and change

Sure, if someone defines rational and abortion such that "by definition" an abortion is immoral, that is as far as he need go insofar as as something is true "in his head."


phyllo wrote: That assumes that you can give words any definition that you like.


That was always my point with James. Then I would challenge him to bring his own definitions out into the world of conflicting goods.

phyllo wrote: In fact, the dictionary definitions are a compilation of how words are used by people. The words reflect something that people see in the world - they see rationality and abortion - and they create the words which represent it. 'Rational' is some characteristic thought and/or behavior.


Well, let's take this general description out into the world that we live in. What things can we say -- what facts can we demonstrate -- about abortion that ought to be embedded in the "characteristic thought" of all rational people. If by characteristic thought we mean thought in sync with the actual material, physical, phenomenal interactions of men and women.

Or, again, I am simply missing your point here altogether. Some "technical" aspect of philosophical discourse that is always over my head.

And I am always willing to concede the possibility of that.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:09 pm

In what context though?

If the dictionary says that rational means "the quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic" is there something wrong with the argument that Hillary Clinton is now the president of the United States?

Is there something wrong with the argument that Clinton ought to have been elected because she got more of the popular vote?

Is there something wrong with the argument that Trump is doing a superb job as the president of the United States?

Can the dictionary definition clarify or resolve conflicted arguments in each context?
Your reply consists entirely of questions. You don't have anything to say about what I wrote. No statements. :-?

And instead of addressing "is there something wrong with the meaning of the word 'rational', you shift to "is there something wrong with this (fill in the blank) argument".
Suppose you had access to the most precise meaning of "reason" and "sensible" in the world. Would this then allow you to state that, "given these definitions", it is 1] reasonable and sensible to abort a human fetus, or 2] it is not reasonable and sensible to abort a human fetus.
Now you shift to the words 'reasonable' and 'sensible' instead of sticking with word 'rational'. #-o

Yeah, you could say that given clear definitions, abortion is rational or abortion is irrational.
Shifting the goal posts is basically my point.
Yeah, I have noticed that. As soon as things start to become clearer, you change the words or the context in order that answers are continually out of reach.
Well, let's take this general description out into the world that we live in. What things can we say -- what facts can we demonstrate -- about abortion that ought to be embedded in the "characteristic thought" of all rational people.
Why do you turn it around?

Just state the characteristic thoughts of rational people and then evaluate whether abortion is consistent with those thoughts.

Is that really too complicated?
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:17 pm

Mad Man P wrote: Even if every thought or action we ever have or take is predetermined, it does not change the process by which they arrived...

It is parts of this process we might take ownership of and the results of those parts that we could call "choice"


This is [admittedly] the part I may well be tripping up on. How is the "process" itself not but one more manifestation of a wholly determined universe?

Does "I" have any more autonomous control over that?


Mad Man P wrote: I fail to see why being a part of the universe should pose a problem... Even given determinism, by being a part of the universe, you are by definition part of the equation that determines what happens next.


My point revolves more around the extent to which we can know for certain that you failed to see something only because you were never able not to fail to see it.

What if, in being part of the equation that determines what comes next, that which does come next comes only as a result of you and I and all the other matter in the universe unfolding as it ever could have given the physical laws of matter? And then it would seem [to me] that human consciousness is just this really, really weird matter -- matter having evolved into being conscious of itself as matter grappling with whether or not anything it ever thought, felt or did had any possiblity of changing what does come next.

Mad Man P wrote: Consider that in the fullness of time, even a non-deterministic universe, in which we all have magical autonomy somehow, will end up being immutable...
In such a universe you cannot change your past or make it different, yet would you not own your choices from the past all the same?


Not sure what you mean here. Human autonomy is either magical or real. The past can't be reconfigured but if we live in a non-deterministic present the future would seem to be only any number of possibilities. Or, existentially, probabilities.

Even our autonomy is circumscribed by nature and nurture, by genes and memes. By a particular "lived" life.

And from my own frame of mind -- re the is/ought world -- what we own is embedded in an "I" that I construe to be an existential contraption "thrown" into a particular world at a particular time.

Mad Man P wrote: You focus on our ability to do differently.. but our ability to do differently is inconsequential to the question...
What matters is our will... that we chose according to our will.


We'll have to bring this down to earth. Let's note a particular context in which we have the actual option to freely choose different behaviors.

We "will" this instead of that. And this precipitates consequences. Then others come along and reject those consequences. They "will" something else that precipitates conflict.

What can we all agree is true objectively here and what is only subjective points of view that may or may not be demonstrable to others.

Mad Man P wrote: You cannot be free from yourself... and I suspect that is where you are stuck.
You are something you did not choose, but what you ARE is someone that has, does and will choose...


Apply this to yourself. Describe how it is applicable regarding your own interactions with others. How are you stuck or not stuck given the extent to which you can grasp why you chose some things but not others.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:38 pm

gib wrote:
iambiguous wrote:No, I keep pointing out that I do not have access to an argument that is able to convince me that I was either able to choose not to say it or that I was not able to choose not to say it.


Ah, but have you ever consider that maybe you keep pointing that out because we live in a universe in which the laws of matter make it such that you could never have not pointed that out?


Only on practically every post of mine on this thread.

gib wrote: BTW, why are you so hung up on this particular question? Why not be like Descartes and worry about evil demons? Or question whether we're in the Matrix? Or whether this is all just a dream? There's a million and two scenarios you could bring up that throw certainty and agency into question. Why the one about laws of matter making your brain think, say, and do stuff?


Huh? Over and again I make note of how, if we go far enough out on the metaphysical limb, there are all manner of "explanations" that might encompass this exchange: sim worlds, the demons, senility, dreams, solipsism...

But all of this still comes down to the extent to which we can determine if anything at all that happens to us happens because the choices that we made autonomously necessitated that something else didn't happen instead.

iambiguous wrote:But that just takes us to this: Were you ever able not to not be troubled by it?


Why would I care?


And this is the part where I ask if it was ever within your capacity to freely choose to care or not care.

Again, if, hypothetically, we lived on a planet that was wholly determined, an observer from an autonomous planet, could note that you are not troubled by it. But then his friend points out that, unlike them, you were never able to freely choose to be or not be troubled by it.


Haven't those aliens got anything better to do?


Suppose they don't. Respond to the point I made.

Though sure my thinking here could be flawed. If so, then, using this example, straighten me out.


gib wrote: Nope, it's pretty spot on... and pointless.


This sounds more like a "retort" to me than an attempt to argue how in fact I can be straightened out.

iambiguous wrote:Clarity? How clear can we be about any of this until an argument is framed that resolves the question such that all rational men and women are obligated to embrace it.


gib wrote: Sorry Biggy, got my clarity. I ain't givin it back.


What's this then, a witticism? :wink:

iambiguous wrote:None of this enables me to grasp if my "really really really grim point of view" is or is not "beyond my control".


gib wrote: Are you under the impression I'm trying to help you?


I'm under the impression that you are somehow able to reconcile "metaphysical determinism" and "psychological freedom" "in your head" such that whatever you try to do you were never able not to try to do...but that this doesn't bother you.

iambiguous wrote:Okay, let's try to pin this down more. Do you believe that, in regard to the relationship between the brain as matter and the human mind this matter has evolved into...


gib wrote: That's not what I believe but we'll go with that.


No, you seem to have concocted an explanation that, what, starts with mind?

..."I" is able to understand it such that it can be determined whether or not "I" am freely choosing to type these words or, instead, "I" was never able not to type them?


gib wrote: Given the picture you're giving me (brain evolving into mind), and the sciences these brains have collectively built up and share amongst themselves, I'd say the picture is looking pretty deterministic. I mean, I don't know how anyone can confirm that with certainty (is someone going to monitor each and every movement of every particle in every brain at all times?), but the most parsimonious picture is that the laws of chemistry, biology, and electrodynamics (all of which are at work in the brain) all work together to keep the brain pretty much under their control. Then there's the quantum consciousness theorists who want to take quantum indeterminism and amplify it to the level of neurons, thereby giving credence to the idea of free will (your of free will), and I don't know enough to rule that out.

I guess in brief, I flip a coin and say no, "I" is not able to determine whether "I" freely choose or has no choice.


So, how does this general description analysis relate to the extent to which your own particular "I" is able to understand it such that it can be determined whether or not your "I" is freely choosing to type those words or, instead, was never able not to type them?

gib wrote: I'm not certain about my answer at all. And it's not even my answer because it's prefaced by an assumption that I don't agree with (brain evolving into mind).


Okay, fair enough. But you seem rather certain that your answer is considerably closer to what the right answer might be [if there is a right answer] than mine. And if it is not matter evolving into mind how does mind evolving into matter [if that's what you believe] make it any easier to understand whether you either do or do not have the capacity to freely choose to do one thing rather than another.

iambiguous wrote:Otherwise you would seem to embrace the assumption that "I'm right from my side and you're right from yours". Based entirely on the intital conflicting premises that the arguments falls back on.


gib wrote: Well, sure, relativistically speaking everyone's right from their own side.


Though it would seem to be clearly the case that in regard things able to be demonstrated as either this or that, everyone's "right" is not created equal.

gib wrote: What are the conflicting premises again?


In the either/or world:

Donald Trump is or is not president of the United Sates.

In the is/ought world:

Donald Trump is or is not doing a superb job in the Oval Office.

And then the conflicting premises on this thread:

We are or are not choosing to exchange these posts of our own free will.

iambiguous wrote:If the reason and the logic that any particular mind is able to utilize to function only as it ever could have functioned then that reason and logic exist only as they ever could have existed in turn.

But we do not seem to have the capacity to determine if this is in fact the case or not. It's just that some think they do have that capacity and others think they don't.

Then it's either/or [if it is either/or] all the way down to whatever brought into existence the existence of existence itself.


gib wrote: And here we come full circle. Did the existence of existence exist before the existence of existence started to exist? In other words, did something come from nothing? And if so, why something instead of (a continuation of) nothing?


Exactly. Nothing would seem to be of more fundamental importance than connecting the dots between what we think we know now about these relationships and all that can be known [must be known] in order to demonstrate that what we do think we know now is in sync with the answer.

It all ties into my own assumption that having an answer is far more important to many [psychologically] than in whatever their answer might be.

After all, isn't that really the only way in which to come to grips with, among other things, death and oblivion? If there is an answer and "I" am somehow intertwined in it, then why not for all of eternity?

If somehow "I" is at "one with the universe" and the universe is always around one way or another then so am "I".

So, just out of curiosity, re your own beliefs regarding mind/matter, how do you imagine your own "I" fares once it shuffles off this mortal coil?

Is there any measure at all of comfort and consolation here for you? Because, given the way in which I think about all this, there is absolutely none for me.

At best I can only accept my own oblivion to the extent that my pain becomes so unbearable, I, like those folks in Aliens, will beg to die.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby gib » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:25 am

iambiguous wrote:Only on practically every post of mine on this thread.


But Biggy, don't you realize that you might only be saying this because you were never able not to say this?

iambiguous wrote:Huh? Over and again I make note of how, if we go far enough out on the metaphysical limb, there are all manner of "explanations" that might encompass this exchange: sim worlds, the demons, senility, dreams, solipsism...


Ok, it's just... you seem to really, really, really like to emphasize the laws of matter making us think, say, and do stuff.

iambiguous wrote:
gib wrote:Haven't those aliens got anything better to do?


Suppose they don't. Respond to the point I made.


See, this is the problem, Biggy. No one knows what kind of response you want. I said I'm not troubled by it (I forget what "it" is at this point, but that doesn't matter). You asked: what if autonomous aliens pointed out that I could never have not been troubled by it? And you want me to respond to that. Well, ok. I respond that nothing would change. I would still not be bothered by it. The only light this would shed would be that I couldn't help but to not be troubled by it. Still... I would not be troubled by it.

You seem to expect that the idea of not having a choice in the matter would somehow change things. Like now I am troubled by it.

iambiguous wrote:
gib wrote:That's not what I believe but we'll go with that.


No, you seem to have concocted an explanation that, what, starts with mind?


Yes. If you want to rephrase your question in terms of brain matter evolving from mind, be my guess, but I'd think by now you know what to expect from me--one of those metaphysical limbs.

iambiguous wrote:So, how does this general description analysis relate to the extent to which your own particular "I" is able to understand it such that it can be determined whether or not your "I" is freely choosing to type those words or, instead, was never able not to type them?


It says that my particular "I" cannot determine it either.

iambiguous wrote:Okay, fair enough. But you seem rather certain that your answer is considerably closer to what the right answer might be [if there is a right answer] than mine.


First of all, I'm not sure what your answer is. Do you just mean the belief that mind evolved from matter?

Second, I wouldn't put it in terms of "being closer to the truth". Rather, I would say "making more sense"--and only in regards to specific philosophical puzzles. It's a theory primarily designed to solve the mind/metter problem, and it has far reaching implications for the nature of existence--ironically, answering the question: why something rather than nothing.

All I claim is that with my theory, the questions of how consciousness comes out of brain matter, and what is existence and how did it come to be, don't arise. That is, they are answered. But this is different from the claim that my theory is right, that the answers it provides are actually true, that they match the state of reality outside the cognitive picture of reality it paints. I cannot say how close or how far away the theory is to that, or whether the essential nature of reality is such that a cognitive model like my theory can be said to be "close" or "far" from matching it.

Think of it like an riddle: what gets wetter the more it dries? If you think to yourself "a towel" you suddenly have a theory about what the thing is, and that puts the question to rest. However, you could still go to the person who posed the riddle and ask: is it a towel? In other words, you don't actually know that you got the answer right, you just have a answer that meets the criteria of the question. So you don't know if the answer is close or far away from the truth, just that it makes sense.

iambiguous wrote:And if it is not matter evolving into mind how does mind evolving into matter [if that's what you believe] make it any easier to understand whether you either do or do not have the capacity to freely choose to do one thing rather than another.


My theory is not designed to answer the question of whether we are determined or free. It's like asking: how does Einstein's theory of relativity make it any easier to understand how life began on this planet?

iambiguous wrote:Though it would seem to be clearly the case that in regard things able to be demonstrated as either this or that, everyone's "right" is not created equal.


When things are demonstrated one way or another, this changes a person's "side". If what relativism says is: X is true according to a person's "side" (where "side" just means someone's beliefs, point of view, picture of the world, etc.), and if demonstration has the power to change a person's side, then X remains true according to that person's previous side. It's just that he doesn't take that side anymore.

According to the geocentric model of the universe, the Sun orbits around the Earth. Today, nobody believes in the geocentric model of the universe. It has been demonstrated wrong, and we have switched "sides". Still, according to the geocentric model of the universe, the Sun orbits around the Earth.

iambiguous wrote:After all, isn't that really the only way in which to come to grips with, among other things, death and oblivion? If there is an answer and "I" am somehow intertwined in it, then why not for all of eternity?

If somehow "I" is at "one with the universe" and the universe is always around one way or another then so am "I".


Something like that. I've always thought that a belief in an afterlife was a way of making us feel that reconciliation will come. It's not just the comfort of knowing that we will never really die, but that everything will be made right somehow. All wrongs done to you, all the misfortunes and missed opportunities, all the unfairness, all the disappointments. A chance to finally get what you deserve (Heaven) or a chance to start over (reincarnation). It's a way of coping with the unbearable prospect that life just isn't fair... period.

iambiguous wrote:So, just out of curiosity, re your own beliefs regarding mind/matter, how do you imagine your own "I" fares once it shuffles off this mortal coil?


Here, I'm a lot more closely aligned with your views. I too believe the "I" fragments and disintegrates upon death, but unlike you, I don't believe in an absolute oblivion. I believe experience continues but there will be no "I". It parallels the body. The body, after death, decays and rots away. But it's not as though the matter that makes up the body disappears into a black hole. The molecules, atoms, and elementary particles that make up the body continue to exist and get dispersed into nature--some being carried off by the wind, some being consumed by other organisms, some mixing in with other elements, etc. I believe that there will be a continuum joining our experiences while we're alive with those of the universe after we die. Our minds will disintegrate into "pieces", like the body into atoms, and transform into qualities that merge seamlessly with those of the universe, like the molecules of the body merging back into nature. There will be no more experience of "I am gib" or "I remember my childhood" or "I am a computer programmer" or "My favorite food is pizza"--all thoughts and experiences once connected to our individuality or personal identity will be gone--unimaginable experiences that only the universe can have will replace them.

On a surface reading, most people I describe this to say it sounds relatively peaceful (although some don't)--the thought of "becoming one with the universe" sounds kind of like a "heavenly" experience--but formally speaking, I always say that what the experience is like is totally unpredictable. It may be blissful, it may be hell. It may be something completely unimaginable. So formally speaking, I don't know how I should feel about this. It's a big fuzzy question mark in my mind.

In fact, it takes an incredibly dark side according to which we ought to be terrified of death and strive to stay alive as long as possible. According to this view, the universe gave way to evolution as a means of escaping itself, of creating organisms that could function relatively independently from the rest of itself, and thereby maintaining an inner microcosm sheltered from the outer macrocosm, a sanctuary in which to rest from and forget the pain of being existence... at least for a short while.

iambiguous wrote:Is there any measure at all of comfort and consolation here for you? Because, given the way in which I think about all this, there is absolutely none for me.

At best I can only accept my own oblivion to the extent that my pain becomes so unbearable, I, like those folks in Aliens, will beg to die.


Biggy, have you ever considered that your pain might be due to something as simple a bad brain chemistry? Maybe you're brain just isn't producing enough dopamine. I mean, we all fall into bad moods. We all get depressed. And we always attribute it to something--the first things our brains can reach for--some will blame their misery on politics, some on the state of war and poverty we see the majority of the world in, some on their family, how they were never loved, some on their job and how under-paid or under-appreciate they are. But then they have better days. They have a good night sleep and wake up in a better mood. Still, that doesn't change anything. The world is still full of war and poverty, they still have the same job, their family hasn't changed... but someone, now in a better mood, they shrug it off and say: life goes on, or: yeah, it's all pretty bleak, but there's hope that things will get better. You know how it is when you get drunk, right? All of a sudden, life is great and you love everyone around you. Did life really change in the course of a couple hours of drinking? Did everyone around you suddenly become that much more lovable? Or did your brain chemistry just change. You wonder why I could agree with everything you say yet not be troubled by it. Might it not be just differences in our brain chemistry? Maybe happiness has absolutely nothing to do with the state of the world, or whether we have the answers to the most profound metaphysical questions, but rather just what kinds of juices our brains our cooking.

If you think there might be anything to this, you might want to see a doctor about medication. <-- Just something to think about.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:14 am

iambiguous wrote:
Mad Man P wrote: I fail to see why being a part of the universe should pose a problem... Even given determinism, by being a part of the universe, you are by definition part of the equation that determines what happens next.


My point revolves more around the extent to which we can know for certain that you failed to see something only because you were never able not to fail to see it.

What if, in being part of the equation that determines what comes next, that which does come next comes only as a result of you and I and all the other matter in the universe unfolding as it ever could have given the physical laws of matter? And then it would seem [to me] that human consciousness is just this really, really weird matter -- matter having evolved into being conscious of itself as matter grappling with whether or not anything it ever thought, felt or did had any possiblity of changing what does come next.


We're going in circles...
Allow me to try and summarize what has been said between us thus far in the hope that we can make progress.

Given determinism things can and will only play out one way... there is no possibility of anything big or small to be or have been any different.
But unlike fatalism, in determinism everything that does happen determines what happens next...

So imagine a row of dominos... you knock down one and then you watch the causal chain knock down all the others, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
I say that if we take ourselves to be "one of these dominoes" it would not be inaccurate to say "we knocked down the the next demino"... that without us the outcome would be different.

Your response to this seems to be to question whether or not our role in this scheme ever was a matter of "choice"... since we could not have done any different
To which I respond by saying that our ability to do otherwise is irrelevant to it being a "choice"... it's our will that makes it a choice...
And while you can argue that we could never have wanted anything other than what we wanted, I would argue that it was no less what we wanted.

We cannot be free from ourselves...


Mad Man P wrote: You cannot be free from yourself... and I suspect that is where you are stuck.
You are something you did not choose, but what you ARE is someone that has, does and will choose...


Apply this to yourself. Describe how it is applicable regarding your own interactions with others. How are you stuck or not stuck given the extent to which you can grasp why you chose some things but not others.


It's how we are put together. It's our navigation tool... we model the world and we simulate the forces at play in order to predict the outcome of our actions, then we "elect" the actions that have simulated results that are preferable to us.

It's a process in our brains... given determinism the result of that process may well be predictable... but the process still takes place.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:28 pm

phyllo wrote:
In what context though?

If the dictionary says that rational means "the quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic" is there something wrong with the argument that Hillary Clinton is now the president of the United States?

Is there something wrong with the argument that Clinton ought to have been elected because she got more of the popular vote?

Is there something wrong with the argument that Trump is doing a superb job as the president of the United States?

Can the dictionary definition clarify or resolve conflicted arguments in each context?


Your reply consists entirely of questions. You don't have anything to say about what I wrote. No statements. :-?


My exchanges with you have consisted of any number of questions and answers. And statements. And when you accuse me of having nothing to say about what you write, I've learned to just reconfigure that into not having said the thing that you would say instead.

But, okay, let's zero in here on the specific thing you say that I ignored.

This?

phyllo wrote: And instead of addressing "is there something wrong with the meaning of the word 'rational', you shift to "is there something wrong with this (fill in the blank) argument".


Until the word and the defintion and the meaning are implicated in questions [contexts] such as those I raised above, what are we really pinning down?

Pick one of them and we can explore the actual existential parameters of the word "rational". In other words, how people actually use the word "for all practical purposes" in discussions and debates relating to the lives they live.

Suppose you had access to the most precise meaning of "reason" and "sensible" in the world. Would this then allow you to state that, "given these definitions", it is 1] reasonable and sensible to abort a human fetus, or 2] it is not reasonable and sensible to abort a human fetus.


phyllo wrote: Now you shift to the words 'reasonable' and 'sensible' instead of sticking with word 'rational'. #-o


All I can do here is to appeal to others:

What crucial point is he noting here that I keep missing? As it relates to connecting the dots between the words "rational" and "abortion" and "moral obligation".

It's almost [to me] as though his posts have now become an exercise in irony.

phyllo wrote: Yeah, you could say that given clear definitions, abortion is rational or abortion is irrational.


We can say [or believe] anything. But how is it then noted that one definition allows us to demonstrate that any particular abortion either is or is not moral?

What might that "clear" definition be? Or, again, are basically talking about Saint's "definitional logic" here?

Shifting the goal posts is basically my point.


phyllo wrote: Yeah, I have noticed that. As soon as things start to become clearer, you change the words or the context in order that answers are continually out of reach.


Clearer? In what sense? In what context? Or are things always "clearer" with regard to issues like Communism when others think about it in exactly the same manner that you do?

The very embodiment of the objectivist mind. Though even here [on this thread of late] assuming this mind is arguing autonomously.

Well, let's take this general description out into the world that we live in. What things can we say -- what facts can we demonstrate -- about abortion that ought to be embedded in the "characteristic thought" of all rational people.


phyllo wrote: Why do you turn it around?

Just state the characteristic thoughts of rational people and then evaluate whether abortion is consistent with those thoughts.

Is that really too complicated?


No, not if you just assume that "characteristic thoughts of rational people" are always in sync with your own thoughts about it.

Or, again, sure, I'm missing your point.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:49 pm

What crucial point is he noting here that I keep missing?
You want to have a discussion but you can't or you won't even pin down the meaning of one word. A word which you use repeatedly. A word on which "demonstrations" and "obligations" hinge.

What does 'rational' mean?
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 24, 2018 12:12 am

gib wrote:
iambiguous wrote:Only on practically every post of mine on this thread.


But Biggy, don't you realize that you might only be saying this because you were never able not to say this?


Is this your own rendition of repartee? :wink:

It is precisely what might be the case here that philosophers and scientists and theologians have been grappling with since matter first evolved into minds like theirs. Or since mind first evolved into matter, as you seem to suggest.

iambiguous wrote:Huh? Over and again I make note of how, if we go far enough out on the metaphysical limb, there are all manner of "explanations" that might encompass this exchange: sim worlds, the demons, senility, dreams, solipsism...


gib wrote: Ok, it's just... you seem to really, really, really like to emphasize the laws of matter making us think, say, and do stuff.


Actually, what I like to emphsize most of all is the gap between what any particular one of us might claim to know about the relationship between the laws of matter and the things we think, feel, say and do, and all that actually can be known about the existence of existence itself.

gib wrote:Haven't those aliens got anything better to do?


Suppose they don't. Respond to the point I made.


gib wrote: See, this is the problem, Biggy. No one knows what kind of response you want. I said I'm not troubled by it (I forget what "it" is at this point, but that doesn't matter). You asked: what if autonomous aliens pointed out that I could never have not been troubled by it? And you want me to respond to that. Well, ok. I respond that nothing would change. I would still not be bothered by it. The only light this would shed would be that I couldn't help but to not be troubled by it. Still... I would not be troubled by it.

You seem to expect that the idea of not having a choice in the matter would somehow change things. Like now I am troubled by it.


The only kind of response I expect is one that either nudges my own thinking in the direction of that response or it doesn't. The alien is pointing out that you had no capacity to not not be bothered by it. But that changes nothing, true.

The difference however [from my frame of mind] is the hypothetical assumption that the aliens can choose autonomously to be or not be bothered by something. Thus if you were somehow able to leave the planet earth and be in a part of the universe where the human will is not just on automatic pilot, you would grasp the disctinction more clearly.

It's like the folks in Flatland. They are compelled to view the world through two dimensions. But there actually does exist a three dimensional world. And for all we know [re string theory] there are many more dimensions besides.

If nothing changes other than in the manner in which it must change in a wholly determined universe what does our choosing to change something mean? Our minds are matter able to broach it. Mind-boggling matter in other words. Unless there is in fact a component of mind able to choose autonomously.

...you seem to have concocted an explanation that, what, starts with mind?


gib wrote: Yes. If you want to rephrase your question in terms of brain matter evolving from mind, be my guess, but I'd think by now you know what to expect from me--one of those metaphysical limbs.


Matter into mind or mind into matter, what really changes? What you and I think about it either "metaphysically" or "psychologically", is either within our capacity autonomously or it isn't. But how "on earth" do we go about determining that given either assumption?

iambiguous wrote:So, how does this general description analysis relate to the extent to which your own particular "I" is able to understand it such that it can be determined whether or not your "I" is freely choosing to type those words or, instead, was never able not to type them?


gib wrote: It says that my particular "I" cannot determine it either.


And that would seem to be where all of us are stuck. We can only determine it to the extent that the human mind is even capable of determining why there is something instead of nothing. And why this something and not another.

It's just that we are among the few folks around the globe who give it a go. Most just leave all this stuff to God. We create these fascinating discussions, but some of us speculate on how futile it all might be. And that's beofre the part about oblivion. Or the part about the is/ought world.

iambiguous wrote:Okay, fair enough. But you seem rather certain that your answer is considerably closer to what the right answer might be [if there is a right answer] than mine.


gib wrote: First of all, I'm not sure what your answer is. Do you just mean the belief that mind evolved from matter?


Any answer that I might give may or may not be subsumed in a universe that allows for only one answer. And that answer may or may not be in sync with the answer. Though almost certainly not.

I just speculate that this is the case for all the rest of us too.

And "belief" is always my point. That gap between what we believe about the relationship between mind and matter and all that we cannot possibly know about it given all that can be known about it if the human mind is even sophisticated enough to know something like that.

gib wrote: Second, I wouldn't put it in terms of "being closer to the truth". Rather, I would say "making more sense"--and only in regards to specific philosophical puzzles. It's a theory primarily designed to solve the mind/metter problem, and it has far reaching implications for the nature of existence--ironically, answering the question: why something rather than nothing.


And then I like to point out the gap between a "general description" such as this and attempts to bring words of this sort out into the world of actual human interactions.

gib wrote: All I claim is that with my theory, the questions of how consciousness comes out of brain matter, and what is existence and how did it come to be, don't arise. That is, they are answered. But this is different from the claim that my theory is right, that the answers it provides are actually true, that they match the state of reality outside the cognitive picture of reality it paints. I cannot say how close or how far away the theory is to that, or whether the essential nature of reality is such that a cognitive model like my theory can be said to be "close" or "far" from matching it.


Okay, fair enough. I can't possibly ask more of you than this. You are making an attempt to grapple with it. And, as a result of that, I might in time learn from it. Or not. I'm just hopelessly ambivalent [here and now] about whether the things that I choose, I choose autonomously such that I will have learned from it only because I freely chose the right things. The things that allowed me to learn from it.


iambiguous wrote:And if it is not matter evolving into mind how does mind evolving into matter [if that's what you believe] make it any easier to understand whether you either do or do not have the capacity to freely choose to do one thing rather than another.


gib wrote: My theory is not designed to answer the question of whether we are determined or free. It's like asking: how does Einstein's theory of relativity make it any easier to understand how life began on this planet?


Again, I can only respect that. It's just that, in regard to that which most intrigues me philosophically -- how ought one to live? -- I have to grapple in turn with whether or not I was ever even really free to be intrigued by that.

Thus, from my frame of mind, matter from mind or mind from matter...what's the difference re dasein, conflicting goods and political economy?

iambiguous wrote:Though it would seem to be clearly the case that in regard things able to be demonstrated as either this or that, everyone's "right" is not created equal.


gib wrote: When things are demonstrated one way or another, this changes a person's "side". If what relativism says is: X is true according to a person's "side" (where "side" just means someone's beliefs, point of view, picture of the world, etc.), and if demonstration has the power to change a person's side, then X remains true according to that person's previous side. It's just that he doesn't take that side anymore.


But in the either/or world [assuming there is one] there is a right side and a wrong side to choose. One's answer is relative to that which can in fact be demonstrated to be the case for all rational human beings. With human minds, however, one can still be convinced that the wrong answer is the right answer "in his head". And, most crucially, he behaves in accordance with what he thinks is true. And it is human behavior that precipitates actual consequences.

It's just that given my own assumptions in the is/ought world there does not appear to be an essentially/necessarily right or wrong answer from which to choose.

iambiguous wrote:After all, isn't that really the only way in which to come to grips with, among other things, death and oblivion? If there is an answer and "I" am somehow intertwined in it, then why not for all of eternity?

If somehow "I" is at "one with the universe" and the universe is always around one way or another then so am "I".


gib wrote: Something like that. I've always thought that a belief in an afterlife was a way of making us feel that reconciliation will come. It's not just the comfort of knowing that we will never really die, but that everything will be made right somehow. All wrongs done to you, all the misfortunes and missed opportunities, all the unfairness, all the disappointments. A chance to finally get what you deserve (Heaven) or a chance to start over (reincarnation). It's a way of coping with the unbearable prospect that life just isn't fair... period.


But here [far and away] God is the belief of choice for sustaining comfort and consolation among the true believers. And it really isn't necessary at all to even demonstrate His existence. That's the whole point of having faith in Him. Either through one or another religious denomination, one or another Kierkegaardian leap or one or another rendition of Pascal's wager.

Instant karma in the next world.

iambiguous wrote:So, just out of curiosity, re your own beliefs regarding mind/matter, how do you imagine your own "I" fares once it shuffles off this mortal coil?


gib wrote: Here, I'm a lot more closely aligned with your views. I too believe the "I" fragments and disintegrates upon death, but unlike you, I don't believe in an absolute oblivion. I believe experience continues but there will be no "I". It parallels the body. The body, after death, decays and rots away. But it's not as though the matter that makes up the body disappears into a black hole. The molecules, atoms, and elementary particles that make up the body continue to exist and get dispersed into nature--some being carried off by the wind, some being consumed by other organisms, some mixing in with other elements, etc. I believe that there will be a continuum joining our experiences while we're alive with those of the universe after we die. Our minds will disintegrate into "pieces", like the body into atoms, and transform into qualities that merge seamlessly with those of the universe, like the molecules of the body merging back into nature. There will be no more experience of "I am gib" or "I remember my childhood" or "I am a computer programmer" or "My favorite food is pizza"--all thoughts and experiences once connected to our individuality or personal identity will be gone--unimaginable experiences that only the universe can have will replace them.


Here of course all there is, is someone [anyone] asking you to demonstrate that what you believe is true is in fact true. And then to the extent that this might provide some measure of "comfort and consolation" -- peacefullness -- for some and not for others. But it's still more than I am able to conjecture: "I" desintegrating back into star stuff. Not completely gone, but, come on, who is kidding whom.

If there is any comfort at all for me it resides precisely in that unimaginable gap between what "I" think I know here and now and all that must be known in order to know for sure.

There is only dying and finding out or dying not finding out.

Thus...

iambiguous wrote:Is there any measure at all of comfort and consolation here for you? Because, given the way in which I think about all this, there is absolutely none for me.

At best I can only accept my own oblivion to the extent that my pain becomes so unbearable, I, like those folks in Aliens, will beg to die.


gib wrote: Biggy, have you ever considered that your pain might be due to something as simple a bad brain chemistry? Maybe you're brain just isn't producing enough dopamine.


Yeah, sure. Grappling with this necessarily takes us in many directions. On the other hand, the same could be said about our pleasure. About anything we think, feel or do. In a wholly determined unverse in which mind is brain is matter in sync with those alleged immutable "natural laws" nothing is not going to be subsumed in necessity.

gib wrote: I mean, we all fall into bad moods. We all get depressed. And we always attribute it to something--the first things our brains can reach for--some will blame their misery on politics, some on the state of war and poverty we see the majority of the world in, some on their family, how they were never loved, some on their job and how under-paid or under-appreciate they are. But then they have better days. They have a good night sleep and wake up in a better mood. Still, that doesn't change anything. The world is still full of war and poverty, they still have the same job, their family hasn't changed... but someone, now in a better mood, they shrug it off and say: life goes on, or: yeah, it's all pretty bleak, but there's hope that things will get better. You know how it is when you get drunk, right? All of a sudden, life is great and you love everyone around you. Did life really change in the course of a couple hours of drinking? Did everyone around you suddenly become that much more lovable? Or did your brain chemistry just change. You wonder why I could agree with everything you say yet not be troubled by it. Might it not be just differences in our brain chemistry? Maybe happiness has absolutely nothing to do with the state of the world, or whether we have the answers to the most profound metaphysical questions, but rather just what kinds of juices our brains our cooking.


Clearly that is one way to look at at. Just as there are clearly other conflicting narratives. But how does that fit into "I" interacting with "we" interacting with "them" interacting on this particular planet in this particular solar system in this particular galaxy in what may or may not be this particular universe going back to something instead of nothing going back to the reason it is one rather than another going back to or not going back to God.

But there it still is: the profoundly problematic mystery that is mind. The human mind especially.

But who really knows how many extraterrestrial minds might be out there who could take this exchange in directions that none of us have ever even imagined. Perhaps never could have imagined.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:03 pm

Mad Man P wrote:
Given determinism things can and will only play out one way... there is no possibility of anything big or small to be or have been any different.

But unlike fatalism, in determinism everything that does happen determines what happens next...


Okay, I am typing these words here and now because I chose to do so. I chose to do this rather than watch a movie or take a nap or make a sandwich. But, in your view, this is not the same as holding to the fatalistic belief that "all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable"?

Even though "I" am embedded in what must happen given the laws of matter, "I" am compelled in turn to convince myself that without "I" there was no possibility of anything big or small being any different than they in fact had to be.

"I" am in sync with the universe. And even after "I" am dead and gone, the matter that constituted my mind is still a part of the universe.

And that's consolation enough?

Maybe. But I am still unable to really wrap my head around the difference.

Mad Man P wrote:So imagine a row of dominos... you knock down one and then you watch the causal chain knock down all the others, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
I say that if we take ourselves to be "one of these dominoes" it would not be inaccurate to say "we knocked down the the next demino"... that without us the outcome would be different.


The quandary however would seem to revolve more around the extent to which it can be determined that in choosing to set up the dominoes in one way rather than another, "I" was either doing this with or without some measure of autonomy.

I'm still back to this: the dominoes were set up by me but I was never really able to set them up other than as I was compelled to given that the matter embedded in "I" is no less in sync with the laws of matter than the matter embedded in the dominoes.

Mad Man P wrote:Your response to this seems to be to question whether or not our role in this scheme ever was a matter of "choice"... since we could not have done any different
To which I respond by saying that our ability to do otherwise is irrelevant to it being a "choice"... it's our will that makes it a choice...

And while you can argue that we could never have wanted anything other than what we wanted, I would argue that it was no less what we wanted.


All I can say is that this assessment "works" for you in a way that it does not for me. Calling something that we could not have done otherwise a choice is like arguing that the heart chooses to beat. That the heart "wanted" to beat.

Mad Man P wrote: You cannot be free from yourself... and I suspect that is where you are stuck.
You are something you did not choose, but what you ARE is someone that has, does and will choose...


Apply this to yourself. Describe how it is applicable regarding your own interactions with others. How are you stuck or not stuck given the extent to which you can grasp why you chose some things but not others.


Mad Man P wrote:It's how we are put together. It's our navigation tool... we model the world and we simulate the forces at play in order to predict the outcome of our actions, then we "elect" the actions that have simulated results that are preferable to us.

It's a process in our brains... given determinism the result of that process may well be predictable... but the process still takes place.


This is just another intellectual contraption to me.

Again:

"Apply this to yourself. Describe how it is applicable regarding your own interactions with others. How are you stuck or not stuck given the extent to which you can grasp why you chose some things but not others."

Let's bring the discussion out into the world of actual flesh and blood human interactions. We choose different things. Why? And how are these choices understood differently by those who embrace determinism, by those who embrace fatalism and by those who embrace autonomy.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:22 pm

phyllo wrote:
What crucial point is he noting here that I keep missing?
You want to have a discussion but you can't or you won't even pin down the meaning of one word. A word which you use repeatedly. A word on which "demonstrations" and "obligations" hinge.

What does 'rational' mean?


If you google "rationality in philosophy" you get this: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=ra ... i=scholart

So, down through the ages, any number of very, very intelligent minds have grappled with pinning down what "rational" means.

My own philosopihical bent however revolves more around taking these technical, epistemological, scholastic meanings out into the world of human interactions such that we can discuss and debate the extent to whether particular things that we think, feel, say and do can be described as rational or irrational.

And then the extent to which these descriptions are or are not only that which we were ever able to convey in what may or may not be a wholly determined universe.

To me rational means something that can be demonstrated to be true for all of us. Going all the way back to an understanding of why there is something and not nothing. And why it is this something and not another.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:35 pm

If you google "rationality in philosophy" you get this: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=ra ... i=scholart

So, down through the ages, any number of very, very intelligent minds have grappled with pinning down what "rational" means.
Yeah, I can google stuff but I was trying to get information from you.
And then the extent to which these descriptions are or are not only that which we were ever able to convey in what may or may not be a wholly determined universe.
Determined or non-determined would appear to have nothing to do with the meaning of 'rational'.
To me rational means something that can be demonstrated to be true for all of us.
I will assume that by "something" you mean thoughts and actions since objects can't have the property of being rational.

Right away, you have the problem with 'demonstrations'. It's difficult to demonstrate a lot of things. For example, you can't demonstrate advanced mathematics and science to people who are not intelligent enough to understand it, even if those people can be considered 'rational' in every respect. So who are you demonstrating it to? Other mathematicians and scientists. Right? The demonstration is only accessible to a small group.

Also, it's usually difficult to demonstrate perfectly ordinary events. If I say that I say a deer on the road today, then without photographs, video or other witnesses, I have no way to demonstrate it. Does it mean that it's an 'irrational' statement? No.

IOW, I suspect that a definition of 'rational' based on demonstration is not workable.

Then there is the difference between true/false statements and rational/irrational statements. A rational statement may well be false.
Going all the way back to an understanding of why there is something and not nothing. And why it is this something and not another.
Again, that seems to have nothing to do with meaning of 'rational'.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Sun Nov 25, 2018 8:38 am

iambiguous wrote:Let's bring the discussion out into the world of actual flesh and blood human interactions. We choose different things. Why? And how are these choices understood differently by those who embrace determinism, by those who embrace fatalism and by those who embrace autonomy.


Well fatalism discounts your actions and choices as being deterministic of your ultimate fate... that some things were always meant to be, whether you ran into traffic every chance you got or only sat at home playing video games, those fated things would happen.

Determinism states everything that happens is determined by everything that happened before... so your thoughts, actions and choices would very much play a role in determining your ultimate fate, but those same thoughts, actions and choices would too have been determined by previous thoughts actions and choices as well as the influences of the outside world etc.

People who believe in autonomy as distinct from determinism/randomness believe themselves to be supernatural, imposing their will on the natural world through their bodies but remain, partly, apart from and immune to the influences of the natural world and thus remain autonomous. They have trouble reconciling neurological disorders, the effects of drugs and brain chemistry with this view and often contort themselves into odd shapes to try and maintain it... either by denying those things and instead claiming other supernatural forces at play, claiming that such brain manipulations only make it difficult or impossible for us to command our bodies, but our will and mind remain intact or some other such invention.

Now having said all that...

I have to ask you... what is the minimum requirement for a choice?

Let's say a man has a woman and her baby held hostage at gunpoint and gives you two options, which you magically know to be true:
1) He shoots you, then he kills both of them right here and now in front of you as you bleed out
2) You ask him nicely... and he will let them go, hand you the gun and turn himself in to the police

Now you could argue, that those are only options if we discount you... you being who you are and having the values that you do, would (I hope) "chose" option 2 every single time without fail. That this is a foregone conclusion and would be perfectly predictable to anyone who knew you in the least.

Yet those are still options, no?
and that remains a choice, no?

So let us say that we take ourselves to be part of our brains...
You may ask yourself, should I go make myself a snack or sit here and read MMP's post, given determinism are those even choices?
If we discount your character (in this case those brain parts), do you have options about what to do next?
The answer is yes (even given determinism)... but just like the example above, if we knew your character well enough... the choice would likewise be perfectly predictable.

You suggest that this seems like a trick of language... but I honestly fail to see how.
The one making the choices is YOU... So if your character should turn out to be immaculately definable and thereby perfectly predictable... how does that in any way change the nature of choice?
"I'm just saying that if we want to have a fruitful discussion, we all need to know what the fuck we're talking about" - Carleas

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.
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