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  • #31
    Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
    "Well, to me, self-awareness is that which I don't have when I'm not self-aware (e.g. asleep)."

    You're defining X to be something you don't have when you're not-X. That is circular and content-free.

    But I only find myself in a position of having to explain things this way because materialists like to play games pretending they don't understand what amaterialists mean by qualia, subjective experience, etc.,.

    It's a pointless distraction from the hard fact of consciousness and experience.

    I think consciousness is probably brain function. Whether that is a material/physical interaction depends on whether you think brain function is material/physical, I guess.
    Ultimately yes - and, yes, these two issues are very closely tied together.

    I think what needs to be accepted here is that materialism/physicalism/atheism is a belief system. A faith. And one that requires a huge leap of faith at that.

    To believe that consciousness is the result of material/physical interactions one must first belive that the phenomenal universe (be it described in terms of materialism or physicalism) is self-sustaining and then that meaterial/physical interactions generate everything we consider part of subjective, qualitative experience.

    Yes, the self-sustaining part is just as equally applied to any useful conception of "God" but at least "God", as a conscious mind, is predicated on something known to exist (our own conscious minds).

    ~
    HypnoPsi

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
      It's a matter of unbelief in god. No one said anything about not believing anything at all.

      On the contrary, many a skeptic/atheist has tried to argue that they just don't have beliefs. (Indeed, as I recall there was some discussion about the impossibility of this stance within the skeptics movement itself within the last couple of years.)

      However, that said, my question has to be why don't atheists just come clean about this and be more open about it? If atheists accept that atheism inherently means believing in the Universe being self-sustaiing, etc., then why don't prominent atheists and atheist groups not present their arguements for this for a change.

      Those of us who are theists know that to believe in God requires faith. Shouldn't the question then be what belief requires the most faith?

      ~
      HypnoPsi

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by HypnoPsi
        But I only find myself in a position of having to explain things this way because materialists like to play games pretending they don't understand what amaterialists mean by qualia, subjective experience, etc.,.
        Professional philosophers are constantly debating those definitions. It's only obvious if you simply declare it so. But we're talking about self. That's at least as squirrely. If I remove those inner experiences that you think define the self one by one, when does your self disappear? Do you really have no self while you're asleep? I think you want a self all the time, no?

        I think what needs to be accepted here is that materialism/physicalism/atheism is a belief system. A faith. And one that requires a huge leap of faith at that.
        I think you should stop tossing materialism and atheism in the same bucket. It's tiresome. Clearly a person could believe in a physical god. Not believing in god is not a belief system.

        To believe that consciousness is the result of material/physical interactions one must first belive that the phenomenal universe (be it described in terms of materialism or physicalism) is self-sustaining and then that meaterial/physical interactions generate everything we consider part of subjective, qualitative experience.
        Correct. The self-sustaining belief has evidence to back it up, so it's a justified belief. The belief that consciousness is brain function also has evidence to back it up, but we are certainly collecting more every day.

        Yes, the self-sustaining part is just as equally applied to any useful conception of "God" but at least "God", as a conscious mind, is predicated on something known to exist (our own conscious minds).
        We might as well stop having this part of the discussion. God is taken by analogy to human consciousness---which you can barely define---and the analogy doesn't carry very far. I'm not impressed. You can stop repeating this.

        ~~ Paul

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
          That won't do. Something makes a rock the same rock from one moment to the next. Is that the rock's self?

          ~~ Paul
          No, nothing makes it the same rock from one second to the next. We call it the same rock because from one second to the next we experience very similar qualia. But unlike mental substance material substance does not exist.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
            Originally Posted by Interesting Ian
            There's an implicit assumption here that the consistency of our perceptions must have a cause. But I strongly suspect that he wouldn't be able to justify this assumption. We feel that the orderly nature of our, say, visual perceptions must have some cause. They cannot just be like that. But why precisely?
            I'm sorry, Ian, but I'm not going to fall for this. I'm willing to play the "it's just so" game for low-level existents, but not for the entire structure of the external world. If you don't feel obliged to explain the consistency of the entire universe, then I see no reason to consider your theory over any other "it's just so" theory. You're not explaining anything.
            I don't believe that the consistency of our perceptions have no explanation, or no cause. I'm saying that it might be argued that they do not. Indeed this is something which atheists should be very sympathetic about. Things and order can simply exist without any ultimate underlying reasons. The Universe together with it's orderly nature might simply exist without having been brought into being by anything else.

            There might be a physical world existing independent of consciousness, but even if we embrace the notion that there must be some metaphysical explanation for the consistency of our perceptions, it seems to be a meta-consciousness is a more sensible hypothesis than some consciousness-independent reality.

            External here is being used in the sense of something existing external to our perceptions of it i.e it exists unperceived. Now how can we have evidence for something existing whilst unperceived?
            Because you look at it, look away, and then look back and it's still there. It exists unperceived, for some meaningful definition of exists.
            First of all what is it that exists when you look away? Not anything like what you perceive. Consider the environment in a computer game. Your character might be looking at a table in that game. The reality of that table consists in certain pixels being a certain colour. Now if your character turns 180 degrees clearly those pixels no longer exist. Why should you think that reality is any different?

            Secondly we can always dream up a hypothesis which explains certain facts. But it is incorrect to say these facts constitute evidence for the hypothesis. Evidence is collected by dreaming up a hypothesis to explain the observed facts, then gathering additional data to see whether this additional data is consistent or inconsistent with the hypothesis. If consistent it constitutes evidence. If inconsistent then arguably the hypothesis has been falsified.

            But we can't do this for a consciousness-independent reality. What possible additional empirical data could we gather to lend support to a consciousness-independent reality? It might of course be reasonable to believe in such a reality anyway were it not for the case that such a reality must be wholly unlike our perceptions of it, and indeed wholly mysterious in its nature.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Interesting Ian
              No, nothing makes it the same rock from one second to the next. We call it the same rock because from one second to the next we experience very similar qualia. But unlike mental substance material substance does not exist.
              But something makes the rock the same from moment to moment, and it is not our consciousness of it. The rock must have a self.

              ~~ Paul

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Interesting Ian
                I don't believe that the consistency of our perceptions have no explanation, or no cause. I'm saying that it might be argued that they do not. Indeed this is something which atheists should be very sympathetic about. Things and order can simply exist without any ultimate underlying reasons. The Universe together with it's orderly nature might simply exist without having been brought into being by anything else.
                Its orderly nature is due to laws. They may simply exist, but at least they are low-level, discernible, and explicable. My objection to "everything is explained by consciousness" is that it's too high-level and it's derived from a weak analogy.

                There might be a physical world existing independent of consciousness, but even if we embrace the notion that there must be some metaphysical explanation for the consistency of our perceptions, it seems to be a meta-consciousness is a more sensible hypothesis than some consciousness-independent reality.
                I don't see why it's more sensible, except by fiat.

                First of all what is it that exists when you look away? Not anything like what you perceive. Consider the environment in a computer game. Your character might be looking at a table in that game. The reality of that table consists in certain pixels being a certain colour. Now if your character turns 180 degrees clearly those pixels no longer exist. Why should you think that reality is any different?
                But the pixels do exist, in the model of the physical world maintained by the program. All I'm saying is that the trees in my backyard exist in some form when I am not looking at them.

                Secondly we can always dream up a hypothesis which explains certain facts. But it is incorrect to say these facts constitute evidence for the hypothesis. Evidence is collected by dreaming up a hypothesis to explain the observed facts, then gathering additional data to see whether this additional data is consistent or inconsistent with the hypothesis. If consistent it constitutes evidence. If inconsistent then arguably the hypothesis has been falsified.
                The original data and the new data are both facts supporting the hypothesis. The only way to trash the hypothesis is to find data inconsistent with it.

                But we can't do this for a consciousness-independent reality. What possible additional empirical data could we gather to lend support to a consciousness-independent reality? It might of course be reasonable to believe in such a reality anyway were it not for the case that such a reality must be wholly unlike our perceptions of it, and indeed wholly mysterious in its nature.
                I agree that observations of the external world do not lend support to any particular metaphysical model of the external world. How does that help or hurt idealism vs. physicalism?

                ~~ Paul

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                  Originally Posted by Interesting Ian
                  Materialists hold that colours as we know them through our senses (as opposed to the scientific definition of particular wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation) are not actually constitutive of reality. Colours as experienced (i.e colour qualia) are a creation by the brain. They are not really out there. This physical external world is purely quantitative. It is nothing like what we see, smell, hear or feel. The materialist is obliged to hold that everything that we ever see is a lie.
                  As I said, not a lie, but a model.
                  Our senses tell us that the external world is of a particular character, full of colours, sounds, smells etc. But according to modern scientific wisdom this is not the case. Therefore it follows that what our senses tell us is a lie given that modern scientific wisdom is correct.

                  This is not the case for an idealist. For example, when we perceive a red car, we might be directly participating in God's conception of that car. The quantitative world of science merely describes the patterns in our perceptual qualia -- it need not denote any mind-independent reality.
                  And that is the difference between science and metaphysics. Anyway, who cares? Do you feel better with a metaphysic that might mean you're playing with god? Why?
                  Yes it makes me feel better. It makes reality more enigmatic, mysterious and exciting. This is in stark contrast to the materialists conception of reality that we are mere bags of meat subsisting in a purposeless meaningless UNiverse, and that we will all soon to cease to exist for the whole of eternity.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Amaterialist HypnoPsi View Post
                    Oh yes - the thread in that forum I linked to in my post on the first page of this thread basically became just far too nasty for me to be bothered with.

                    The JREF forum is moderated in only one direction it seems.

                    I have to hand it to Paul though - he seems like a decent sort and I'm glad he's taken up my offer to continue the discussion over here.

                    I also want to say I was very pleased to see that when I stumbled across this forum just before Christmas. You may recall we had a few brief private conversations on the JREF forum.

                    You don't live too far away from me - so I'll keep you posted on any big events we have going on up here north of the border.

                    ~
                    HypnoPsi
                    I certainly remember you, can't remember the pm's though. North of the border? In Scotland? OK that'd be great.
                    Last edited by Interesting Ian; January 18th, 2009, 08:28 AM. Reason: Misspelling of a word

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Amaterialist HypnoPsi View Post
                      They basically just won't change to a position that means they've been wrong all their years - no matter how compelling or logical the argument against their views is.

                      There's nothing new in that.

                      What I consider to be most inconvenient about materialists is their current attempt to take total control of what goes into the minds of the next generation. Alas, it really is nothing more than an inconvenience as youth always rebels when they think something is being hidden from them.

                      Psi research is growing fabulously with more and more people getting interested in it.

                      The only thing we need to do is point out to as many people as possible that there are very good reasons to be skeptical of a self-generating and self-sustaining Universe and of such things as conscious toaster ovens.

                      It's a strange thing about people but they really are much more able to accept that they should be skeptical about something rather than that they should believe in something.

                      You see, there's much less work in skepticism. You don't have to present any evidence. You just have to be skeptical - and for most people it's much easier to be skeptical of conscious toaster ovens than it is to actively present evidence for psi (which means digesting tons of complex scientific papers).

                      All we need to do is just remember the fact that we are winning here, however slowly.

                      ~
                      HypnoPsi
                      We are winning? I don't really get that impression. I don't reckon that psi will be accepted to exist by the scientific establishment any time this century. There's too many people fanatically opposed to it. People like Pixymisa (and there are many people like him) are just beyond all reason. But I hope I'm wrong.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Interesting Ian
                        Our senses tell us that the external world is of a particular character, full of colours, sounds, smells etc. But according to modern scientific wisdom this is not the case. Therefore it follows that what our senses tell us is a lie given that modern scientific wisdom is correct.
                        Science doesn't tell us that there is nothing corresponding to color, sound, smell, etc. There are wavelengths of light, sound waves, odoriferous chemicals, etc. Our brain models them as color, sound, smell, etc. What's the problem here?

                        If you want to call these lies, be my guest. Every painting, movie, book, and so forth are also then lies.

                        Yes it makes me feel better. It makes reality more enigmatic, mysterious and exciting. This is in stark contrast to the materialists conception of reality that we are mere bags of meat subsisting in a purposeless meaningless UNiverse, and that we will all soon to cease to exist for the whole of eternity.
                        Sorry, science is much more exciting than fairy tales we make up. Fairy tales are too easy.

                        I guess it's just a question of personality.

                        ~~ Paul

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                          Science doesn't tell us that there is nothing corresponding to color, sound, smell, etc. There are wavelengths of light, sound waves, odoriferous chemicals, etc. Our brain models them as color, sound, smell, etc. What's the problem here?
                          a) I did not say that science tells us this. That's a lie which materialists always like to propagate. I said modern scientific wisdom i.e peoples' interpretation of science, not science per se.

                          b) There is no problem. But the hypothesis is an unreasonable one.

                          If you want to call these lies, be my guest. Every painting, movie, book, and so forth are also then lies.
                          No they are not lies. But what we see is a lie because what we see does not remotely correspond to what the real external world is like.

                          Sorry, science is much more exciting than fairy tales we make up. Fairy tales are too easy.

                          I guess it's just a question of personality.

                          ~~ Paul
                          Science is relatively exciting. The materialists interpretation of science however can certainly not be described as exciting. It is a horror story of the very worst kind. I prefer fairy tales to horror stories, especially when the horror stories have neither any empirical evidence nor good philosophical reasons for supposing them to be true.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Interesting Ian
                            a) I did not say that science tells us this. That's a lie which materialists always like to propagate. I said modern scientific wisdom i.e peoples' interpretation of science, not science per se.
                            Huh? "Modern scientific wisdom" is peoples' interpretation of science? What does that mean? Let me rephrase what you said:

                            Our senses tell us that the external world is of a particular character, full of colours, sounds, smells etc. But according to people's interpretation of science this is not the case. Therefore it follows that what our senses tell us is a lie given that people's interpretation of science is correct.

                            Sorry, no clue.

                            No they are not lies. But what we see is a lie because what we see does not remotely correspond to what the real external world is like.
                            An abstract painting is a lie: It certainly doesn't correspond to the external world. What we see certainly does correspond to the external world, or we would walk off cliffs and eat rocks.

                            When you say that our experience of green does not correspond to a certain wavelength of light, you are implying that there could be some experience that does correspond to those wavelengths. What would you expect our experience of color to be like if it did correspond?

                            Science is relatively exciting. The materialists interpretation of science however can certainly not be described as exciting. It is a horror story of the very worst kind. I prefer fairy tales to horror stories, especially when the horror stories have neither any empirical evidence nor good philosophical reasons for supposing them to be true.
                            What exactly do you think you're gaining if your fairy tale is true?

                            ~~ Paul

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Amaterialist HypnoPsi View Post
                              Hi all,

                              Right now as I type this a debate has erupted on another forum (you know, the one run by that organisation fronted by that Amusing magician) with the materialists/skeptics/atheists claiming that toaster ovens and fridges are conscious and self-aware.

                              (If the mods allow it I'll post a link to the thread.)

                              I'd like to to know what folks here - especially the materialists/skeptics/atheists - think of this whole idea of computer consciousness?

                              ~
                              HypnoPsi

                              P.S. To be fair, I should state my position: I think it's nonsense.

                              P.P.S Happy New Year.
                              I wish I had seen this thread sooner.

                              Back in about 1980, I used to believe in computer consciousness. After shed loads of money had been spent on Artificial Intelligence, and nothing much had come of the subject, I began to have second thoughts. Since then, the physicist Roger Penrose has proposed a good argument against the validity of AI.

                              I have written a lot more about this in various threads on skeptiko.

                              David

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by David
                                Back in about 1980, I used to believe in computer consciousness. After shed loads of money had been spent on Artificial Intelligence, and nothing much had come of the subject, I began to have second thoughts. Since then, the physicist Roger Penrose has proposed a good argument against the validity of AI.
                                Are the AI folks trying to make computers conscious?

                                ~~ Paul

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