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Free Will and Innocence

 
Poldano
 
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24 June 2016 22:25
 
NL. - 24 June 2016 07:54 PM

...

Yes, I think there’s an incredibly ethereal concept of ‘potentiality’ involved here. Say little Johnny, at the end of his first year of school, did not learn to read because he does not care about reading and spent all his time drawing pictures in comic books. Perhaps a mentor resolves to instill a sense of “responsibility” in Johnny, and after this he is an upstanding first grade citizen who is quite driven by this internal code. It gets back to “other possible universes”, doesn’t it? If everything is deterministic, then this was always going to be the unfolding of events, from time immemorial. The chain of events that led up to Johnny being who he is, and the mentor being who they are, and the school existing in the first place, and on and on. On the other hand, in some other hypothetical universe (say one where Johnny was placed in a horrible foster home and had a sort of anti-mentor,) things could and would have gone differently for Johnny, whereas things really could and would not have gone any differently for the rock I mentioned in my last post, at least in terms of literacy. The rock ain’t reading in any possible world. Johnny may or may not be. Does it matter if, in this world, there was only one possible outcome anyways? Do agents who have a sort of flexibility depending on hypothetical worlds have a characteristic that makes them in some indefinable way ‘freer’ in will than the rock? Honestly, I don’t know what follows from that. It seems intuitive that the increased potentiality of a sentient mind makes a different in that it could be different in other possible worlds, but then, we’re not in other possible worlds, are we, we’re in this world, which may well be entirely deterministic with, at most, a bit of randomness thrown in. It seems to me that there is something here that is difficult to parse with words.

To say the least.

I think there’s a conceptual limitation to our common notion of causality, which is Aristotelian efficient causality. That notion does not scale well to emergent phenomena. There is a very true sense in which emergent phenomena are largely epiphenomenal to the course of the universe. There is not much that emergent phenomena like humans are likely to be able to do to modify the expansion of the universe, for instance. So, when we try to use efficient causality to predict the future or explain the past and present completely, we might be applying a tool inappropriately to the material being worked. The actual mass and energy encoding the information content in emergent phenomena may have no measurable effect on the course of the universe, just as the actual electrical charges in the dynamic memory of a computer have no measurable effect on the mass of the computer. On the other hand, it matters quite a bit to us that our masses are arranged in the forms we have rather than in the form of undifferentiated bacterial slime or dinosaurs, despite the masses of the different arrangements being equally insignificant to the mass of the earth.

 
 
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26 June 2016 08:06
 
Poldano - 24 June 2016 10:25 PM

To say the least.

I think there’s a conceptual limitation to our common notion of causality, which is Aristotelian efficient causality. That notion does not scale well to emergent phenomena. There is a very true sense in which emergent phenomena are largely epiphenomenal to the course of the universe. There is not much that emergent phenomena like humans are likely to be able to do to modify the expansion of the universe, for instance. So, when we try to use efficient causality to predict the future or explain the past and present completely, we might be applying a tool inappropriately to the material being worked. The actual mass and energy encoding the information content in emergent phenomena may have no measurable effect on the course of the universe, just as the actual electrical charges in the dynamic memory of a computer have no measurable effect on the mass of the computer. On the other hand, it matters quite a bit to us that our masses are arranged in the forms we have rather than in the form of undifferentiated bacterial slime or dinosaurs, despite the masses of the different arrangements being equally insignificant to the mass of the earth.


Ha ha, see this is the point where I throw up my hands and say “Oh, it’s beyond semantic categories or something!”. What can ‘epiphenomenal’ mean in the context of determinism, where everything can be described as “something that happened Because Causality”? And yet somewhere in there, what is at least a subjective experience of agency and meaning happens, and is itself a driver in this large causal pattern. There seems to be something distinct about this particular ‘category’ of determinism but perhaps this is simply an illusion when this category ‘views itself’ - again, this is the point where I throw up my hands!

 
 
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26 June 2016 21:56
 
NL. - 26 June 2016 08:06 AM
Poldano - 24 June 2016 10:25 PM

To say the least.

I think there’s a conceptual limitation to our common notion of causality, which is Aristotelian efficient causality. That notion does not scale well to emergent phenomena. There is a very true sense in which emergent phenomena are largely epiphenomenal to the course of the universe. There is not much that emergent phenomena like humans are likely to be able to do to modify the expansion of the universe, for instance. So, when we try to use efficient causality to predict the future or explain the past and present completely, we might be applying a tool inappropriately to the material being worked. The actual mass and energy encoding the information content in emergent phenomena may have no measurable effect on the course of the universe, just as the actual electrical charges in the dynamic memory of a computer have no measurable effect on the mass of the computer. On the other hand, it matters quite a bit to us that our masses are arranged in the forms we have rather than in the form of undifferentiated bacterial slime or dinosaurs, despite the masses of the different arrangements being equally insignificant to the mass of the earth.


Ha ha, see this is the point where I throw up my hands and say “Oh, it’s beyond semantic categories or something!”. What can ‘epiphenomenal’ mean in the context of determinism, where everything can be described as “something that happened Because Causality”? And yet somewhere in there, what is at least a subjective experience of agency and meaning happens, and is itself a driver in this large causal pattern. There seems to be something distinct about this particular ‘category’ of determinism but perhaps this is simply an illusion when this category ‘views itself’ - again, this is the point where I throw up my hands!

I don’t disagree with anything you said that I understand.

The thing that one is trying to explain can never really be epiphenomenal in any traditional sense. It can only be epiphenomenal to some other explanation. When restricting explanations to objectively measurable phenomema, and excluding subjective phenomena, all subjective phenomena are epiphenomenal. When attempting to construct a completely objective world model, nothing subjective can be included in that model. If that model is meant to demonstrate all that is caused and all that can be caused, then any additional things can be said to be nonexistence in terms of the model. The problem is that subjective phenomena are all that we are really sure do exist. Causality itself is part of an attempt to explain phenomena that are evident to us subjectively. The wholly objective view therefore loses sight of the initial impetus for its own existence.

A wholly objective view is also necessarily incomplete, because it does not admit as valid evidence any information that is known to only a single subject. Thus, the unique and objectively unverifiable components of each subjective viewpoint are ignored, and assumed to contain no useful information. This equates validity with utility in practice, when the two do not even mean the same thing in principle.

 
 
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26 June 2016 22:10
 
Poldano - 26 June 2016 09:56 PM

The thing that one is trying to explain can never really be epiphenomenal in any traditional sense. It can only be epiphenomenal to some other explanation. When restricting explanations to objectively measurable phenomema, and excluding subjective phenomena, all subjective phenomena are epiphenomenal. When attempting to construct a completely objective world model, nothing subjective can be included in that model. If that model is meant to demonstrate all that is caused and all that can be caused, then any additional things can be said to be nonexistence in terms of the model. The problem is that subjective phenomena are all that we are really sure do exist. Causality itself is part of an attempt to explain phenomena that are evident to us subjectively. The wholly objective view therefore loses sight of the initial impetus for its own existence.


Right - I guess what I’m saying is that this is the point where I begin to question the usefulness of semantic categories. At some level of abstraction those boundaries become so arbitrary that it almost seems like the time to shrug your shoulders and go “Ok, if you want to frame it that way then X follows from Y, but we just kinda made up X, so it seems more like a word game than anything.” Perhaps one could say that this is the level where philosophies like perspectivism have the most utility, though.

A wholly objective view is also necessarily incomplete, because it does not admit as valid evidence any information that is known to only a single subject. Thus, the unique and objectively unverifiable components of each subjective viewpoint are ignored, and assumed to contain no useful information. This equates validity with utility in practice, when the two do not even mean the same thing in principle.


I think dynamics like this are best described in terms of relation-ality. Subjective experience has objective consequences via the output it causes, and vice versa. So even if we don’t experience it directly, we arguably do still experience it in some ethereal way.

 
 
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26 June 2016 23:24
 
NL. - 26 June 2016 10:10 PM
Poldano - 26 June 2016 09:56 PM

The thing that one is trying to explain can never really be epiphenomenal in any traditional sense. It can only be epiphenomenal to some other explanation. When restricting explanations to objectively measurable phenomema, and excluding subjective phenomena, all subjective phenomena are epiphenomenal. When attempting to construct a completely objective world model, nothing subjective can be included in that model. If that model is meant to demonstrate all that is caused and all that can be caused, then any additional things can be said to be nonexistence in terms of the model. The problem is that subjective phenomena are all that we are really sure do exist. Causality itself is part of an attempt to explain phenomena that are evident to us subjectively. The wholly objective view therefore loses sight of the initial impetus for its own existence.


Right - I guess what I’m saying is that this is the point where I begin to question the usefulness of semantic categories. At some level of abstraction those boundaries become so arbitrary that it almost seems like the time to shrug your shoulders and go “Ok, if you want to frame it that way then X follows from Y, but we just kinda made up X, so it seems more like a word game than anything.” Perhaps one could say that this is the level where philosophies like perspectivism have the most utility, though.

...

When semantic categories don’t seem to be working, try throwing some of them out. This is a principle of machine learning, so it might as well be a principle of human learning as well.

NL. - 26 June 2016 10:10 PM

...

A wholly objective view is also necessarily incomplete, because it does not admit as valid evidence any information that is known to only a single subject. Thus, the unique and objectively unverifiable components of each subjective viewpoint are ignored, and assumed to contain no useful information. This equates validity with utility in practice, when the two do not even mean the same thing in principle.


I think dynamics like this are best described in terms of relation-ality. Subjective experience has objective consequences via the output it causes, and vice versa. So even if we don’t experience it directly, we arguably do still experience it in some ethereal way.

Your relation-ality seems a lot like what I have called correspondence in other threads. I have further described it as viewing the same object (in a very general sense) from two different points of view. Objectivity and subjectivity are two different points of view, in terms of information provided. For that reason it’s pointless to say that one or the other is epiphenomenal; that would be like saying that the front end of a rocket is epiphenomenal because the back end is where the force comes from. What is still needed, however, is keeping track of what information is available from each point of view. In this respect, there are many subjective points of view, one from each individual, while there is generally intention to maintain only a single objective point of view, one which combines together the subjective views from all other individuals. Objectivity necessarily requires selection, so it can be quite arbitrary and subject to the relative powers of the selectors.

I hope this is not straying too far from Free Will and Innocence. I suppose I could add something to bring it back there at some point.

 
 
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27 June 2016 02:08
 
frankjspencejr - 26 March 2016 02:12 PM

Free Will
Doesn’t the “Non-reality” of Free Will (as Richard Double describes it), which I agree with, argue for the moral and ethical “innocence” of everyone, including the Greenwalds and even the jihadists of the world? By that I mean that the concept of “should” becomes descriptive rather than prescriptive without free will. We can say that it would be better so far as outcomes or experiential consequences are concerned for someone to act one way vs another but not that one “should” act one way vs another, given the lack of ultimate control over one’s own behavior. “Should” implies “can”, “should have” implies “could have”.

In the interest of steering things back on track maybe we could pull this statement apart a bit:

Is it accurate or reasonable to suggest that causal determinism eliminates responsibility and/or implies innocence? Or, is a lack of free will the same thing as a lack of control?

While I follow the reasoning I think that I ultimately reject the premise. I think it’s a category error. Now, I’m not necessarily arguing that moral responsibility, guilt and innocence are thick concepts. Instead I just want to say that the physics of human agency is not the proper acid test for them.

I think that responsibility has more to do with fitness. Perhaps human beings are simply machines. Machines exist to fulfill certain functions to certain standards. When they fail we either correct the deficiency that caused the failure or we dispose of the machine.

Similarly innocence cannot be derived from determinism because it assumes too much. An inanimate object is unaware but we don’t generally assign it innocence. Even a baby or an imbecile isn’t truly innocent (I don’t think) because they don’t actually have the capacity for guilt. When we use the word innocent in its urgent sense I think we mean that a person is capable of being guilty but doesn’t happen to be guilty. I think the idea assumes agency.

‘Should implies can’ Again, no. ‘Should’ points to obligation and purpose. You ‘should’ put gasoline in your car and milk in your cereal. Again, I get the intuition but I think it’s mixup. Persons should not abuse one another regardless of whether they have the personal power to avoid doing so. Shoulds hang upon some stated outcome and the optimum or solitary means of attaining it. I anticipate the persistent objection but I think it hearkens back to the earlier points.

Moral concepts have purchase because they fulfill a human need not because they describe the world.

 
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27 June 2016 19:44
 
Poldano - 26 June 2016 11:24 PM

When semantic categories don’t seem to be working, try throwing some of them out. This is a principle of machine learning, so it might as well be a principle of human learning as well.


Hmm. But then, this just shifts the locus of the argument to what we mean by ‘working’, yes? Is that arbitrary? I think this is an interesting philosophical question but I don’t claim to know.

 

Your relation-ality seems a lot like what I have called correspondence in other threads.


Correspondence as in mirroring? It seems to me that accurate representation of information - be it in learning, understanding, teaching, etc. - must necessarily involve “mirroring + ....something” (If it were absolutely identical it would just be one and the same, after all.)

I have further described it as viewing the same object (in a very general sense) from two different points of view. Objectivity and subjectivity are two different points of view, in terms of information provided. For that reason it’s pointless to say that one or the other is epiphenomenal; that would be like saying that the front end of a rocket is epiphenomenal because the back end is where the force comes from. What is still needed, however, is keeping track of what information is available from each point of view. In this respect, there are many subjective points of view, one from each individual, while there is generally intention to maintain only a single objective point of view, one which combines together the subjective views from all other individuals. Objectivity necessarily requires selection, so it can be quite arbitrary and subject to the relative powers of the selectors.


Ha ha, in the words of Colby and Akon “and I know your game girl”. There is a cool discussion of this somewhere in A History Of Western Philosophy - by one of the Greeks, I think. The idea that such a system necessitates the idea of a sort of disembodied third party observer to oneself, and to be truly “objective” some other observer would have to take in the POV of that observer, but then, this would create a new POV that would need to be taken into account by another observer, and so on, so that it’s “turtles all the way up”. I can’t recall what the author of this argument concluded - I think perhaps that this hypothetical all-seeing and seemingly unrealizable POV was God’s? Mystic concepts aside, it seems that the only other possible configuration would be something of a circular one, which leaves out the ‘problem’ of infinity.

 
 
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28 June 2016 17:43
 
NL. - 27 June 2016 07:44 PM

...

Ha ha, in the words of Colby and Akon “and I know your game girl”. There is a cool discussion of this somewhere in A History Of Western Philosophy - by one of the Greeks, I think. The idea that such a system necessitates the idea of a sort of disembodied third party observer to oneself, and to be truly “objective” some other observer would have to take in the POV of that observer, but then, this would create a new POV that would need to be taken into account by another observer, and so on, so that it’s “turtles all the way up”. I can’t recall what the author of this argument concluded - I think perhaps that this hypothetical all-seeing and seemingly unrealizable POV was God’s? Mystic concepts aside, it seems that the only other possible configuration would be something of a circular one, which leaves out the ‘problem’ of infinity.

The infinity that results is exactly equivalent to saying that there is no limit to the refinement of viewpoint possible, or in other words that there is no limit to what can be known. We are each capable of considering multiple viewpoints, so it is not the case that each viewpoint needs a person. Objective viewpoints are constructed, and are communicable among persons by language, and we can each consider at least one objective viewpoint in addition to our own native subjective viewpoint. In additions, we are capable of theories of mind not only for ourselves but for others, and we can thereby imagine (model) at least a portion of each subjective viewpoint of each other individual of whose location we know.

In an attempt to point back to the thread topic, (1) innocence has everything to do with an individual’s knowledge, and (2) determinism’s downfall as a theory useful for the resolution of problems in applied reason is the inability to obtain complete predictive knowledge of facts and principles. By default we must assume that we as individuals are the entire stack of causes that determine our behavior, even if we lack complete knowledge of them, unless we can obtain knowledge that other individuals comprise a greater quantity or degree of causality for them. The alternative is to yield both responsibility for and authority over that which we claim to be able to control and to have a right or privilege to control.

[ Edited: 28 June 2016 18:04 by Poldano]
 
 
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28 June 2016 18:03
 
NL. - 27 June 2016 07:44 PM

...

Hmm. But then, this just shifts the locus of the argument to what we mean by ‘working’, yes? Is that arbitrary? I think this is an interesting philosophical question but I don’t claim to know.

...

Working == Contributing to a necessary and sufficient explanation for, in this context.

NL. - 27 June 2016 07:44 PM

...

Correspondence as in mirroring? It seems to me that accurate representation of information - be it in learning, understanding, teaching, etc. - must necessarily involve “mirroring + ....something” (If it were absolutely identical it would just be one and the same, after all.)

...

By correspondence I mean that the causes of the observed phenomena are one and the same. So it is not mirroring, and mirroring is perhaps an inapplicable concept here.

 
 
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28 June 2016 20:05
 
Poldano - 28 June 2016 05:43 PM

The infinity that results is exactly equivalent to saying that there is no limit to the refinement of viewpoint possible, or in other words that there is no limit to what can be known. We are each capable of considering multiple viewpoints, so it is not the case that each viewpoint needs a person. Objective viewpoints are constructed, and are communicable among persons by language, and we can each consider at least one objective viewpoint in addition to our own native subjective viewpoint. In additions, we are capable of theories of mind not only for ourselves but for others, and we can thereby imagine (model) at least a portion of each subjective viewpoint of each other individual of whose location we know.


Yes, I think the idea of theory of mind and how far it actually goes (vs. how far we suppose it goes) is fascinating. I was mulling over this in another thread recently when trying to wrap my head around the traditionally liberal platform of fighting racism. It occurred to me that more traditional liberals might process this in a rather different way, i.e., the assumption that skin color is a sort of primary (unfairly, but primary) way that people are mentally categorized in the world. I can kind of infer this by seeing people who, in my more conservative upbringing, would have been considered more of an out-group member because of their beliefs and ideology than a conservative black person (especially in certain occupations - you’re a police officer or in the armed forces you have a sort of automatic respect in the paradigm I was raised in) assume that we are categorized together via ‘white privilege’. It made me realize that maybe I really don’t “get” how other people think even though it’s easy to assume we are mentally framing the world in the same way.

 

In an attempt to point back to the thread topic, (1) innocence has everything to do with an individual’s knowledge, and (2) determinism’s downfall as a theory useful for the resolution of problems in applied reason is the inability to obtain complete predictive knowledge of facts and principles. By default we must assume that we as individuals are the entire stack of causes that determine our behavior, even if we lack complete knowledge of them, unless we can obtain knowledge that other individuals comprise a greater quantity or degree of causality for them. The alternative is to yield both responsibility for and authority over that which we claim to be able to control and to have a right or privilege to control.


I agree to a point, where I differ is that I think you’re implying some sort of solid “I” or “agent” that is capable of possessing responsibility and authority here. Maybe not, again, I’m inferring. As you are a Christian, this would align with the idea of a “soul”, I guess. My view is that what you call “we” and “our” above is actually “subjective experience”, which is certainly causal and certainly important but very fluid (i.e., it changes entirely with framing - what would be a heinous act of cruelty in one situation could be benevolent altruism in another - say, someone reluctantly participating in some kind of BDSM situation or performing an emergency tracheotomy - this frame is not determined by one individual but by a larger context outside of said individual) and potentially changeable to be more in line with an agent’s POV (take, for example, historical cases of people who protested things that we now consider wrong but were totally normal at the time - at the time they occurred, the protestors were the ones who society considered ‘in the wrong’, so in that case it was a matter of shifting an entire societal frame towards more individual viewpoints.) Because of this, I think there is always a dynamic tension between the individual and the collective interpretation so that concepts like ‘responsibility’ don’t have a singular, concrete locus.

 

Poldano - 28 June 2016 06:03 PM

By correspondence I mean that the causes of the observed phenomena are one and the same. So it is not mirroring, and mirroring is perhaps an inapplicable concept here.


I think mirroring is the only way we have to infer such a process is actually taking place. Say two people both say they see an apple on a table. Maybe the apple objectively exists, maybe it exists in the matrix. But what you can say is that whatever phenomenon is happening ‘out there’ (as in, appearing external to two relatively similar systems) causes a corresponding, mirror-like reaction (I dunno, I guess an ‘apple’ neural firing pattern in the brain that, to use the word again, ‘mirrors’ that particular stimulus, and not that of an orange or a sock or a zebra) in both of these systems. We may simply be speaking about this topic at two different levels of inference.

 
 
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28 June 2016 20:53
 

Not to derail Poldano’s conversation, so in addition, and back to the OP:

I’ve never found arguments against free will to be satisfying. I suspect that if we ever find the answer it might be roughly analogous to Xeno’s paradox and Planck lengths. We’re at the stage now where we argue from Xeno’s perspective, but someone will come along and discover the Planck length of free will, and we’ll be able to put the paradox aside.

 
 
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28 June 2016 21:26
 
NL. - 28 June 2016 08:05 PM

...

Yes, I think the idea of theory of mind and how far it actually goes (vs. how far we suppose it goes) is fascinating. I was mulling over this in another thread recently when trying to wrap my head around the traditionally liberal platform of fighting racism. It occurred to me that more traditional liberals might process this in a rather different way, i.e., the assumption that skin color is a sort of primary (unfairly, but primary) way that people are mentally categorized in the world. I can kind of infer this by seeing people who, in my more conservative upbringing, would have been considered more of an out-group member because of their beliefs and ideology than a conservative black person (especially in certain occupations - you’re a police officer or in the armed forces you have a sort of automatic respect in the paradigm I was raised in) assume that we are categorized together via ‘white privilege’. It made me realize that maybe I really don’t “get” how other people think even though it’s easy to assume we are mentally framing the world in the same way.

...

I’m talking about something much more fundamental than that. One can discuss social conventions and conventions of social convention without ever broaching the distinction between the real and the perceived. All you need are differences of perceptions, and some theory of agency dependent on local idiosyncratic differences in knowledge to support the existence of agency. It can be discussed without ever leaving the epistemological level, because it’s all about differences of opinion about ostensible attributes. I’m talking about the problem of determining something about reality, i.e., and ontology, from the epistemological level.

NL. - 28 June 2016 08:05 PM

...

I agree to a point, where I differ is that I think you’re implying some sort of solid “I” or “agent” that is capable of possessing responsibility and authority here. Maybe not, again, I’m inferring. As you are a Christian, this would align with the idea of a “soul”, I guess. My view is that what you call “we” and “our” above is actually “subjective experience”, which is certainly causal and certainly important but very fluid (i.e., it changes entirely with framing - what would be a heinous act of cruelty in one situation could be benevolent altruism in another - say, someone reluctantly participating in some kind of BDSM situation or performing an emergency tracheotomy - this frame is not determined by one individual but by a larger context outside of said individual) and potentially changeable to be more in line with an agent’s POV (take, for example, historical cases of people who protested things that we now consider wrong but were totally normal at the time - at the time they occurred, the protestors were the ones who society considered ‘in the wrong’, so in that case it was a matter of shifting an entire societal frame towards more individual viewpoints.) Because of this, I think there is always a dynamic tension between the individual and the collective interpretation so that concepts like ‘responsibility’ don’t have a singular, concrete locus.

...

The self is an epistemological construct. There are real causes of it. Locality appears to be one of them. As soon as the discussion enters the social realm, the issues become competing epistemological constructs. This does not mean that social phenomena are not real, but rather that they are themselves created by locally-constrained real entities that manifest as agents in our ordinary interpretations. You are pushing the limits of what I have figured out and am able to express, so I’m probably not being very clear. I am basing my theories on the existence of objective reality that is well-explained by materialism and physicalism. I’m doing that because most of the people here are materialists, and many are also physicalists. I can inductively derive objective reality solipsistically, so I’m not concerned extreme skepticism or extreme idealism very much at the moment.

NL. - 28 June 2016 08:05 PM

...

I think mirroring is the only way we have to infer such a process is actually taking place. Say two people both say they see an apple on a table. Maybe the apple objectively exists, maybe it exists in the matrix. But what you can say is that whatever phenomenon is happening ‘out there’ (as in, appearing external to two relatively similar systems) causes a corresponding, mirror-like reaction (I dunno, I guess an ‘apple’ neural firing pattern in the brain that, to use the word again, ‘mirrors’ that particular stimulus, and not that of an orange or a sock or a zebra) in both of these systems. We may simply be speaking about this topic at two different levels of inference.

I am uncomfortable with the term mirroring. It seems to me to refer to the actual recognition by one agent of the experiences of another, as in the term mirror neurons. This is not specifically what I am talking about, but it may be a part of it some of the time. I am talking about the reconciliation of points of view to yield the same causality when the points of view yield different experiences in different individuals. This cannot be achieved solely by mirroring as you describe it, although mirroring may be helpful or even necessary to establish a broader base for the induction of an identical cause. I have not figured that out yet.

 
 
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28 June 2016 21:56
 
Poldano - 28 June 2016 09:26 PM

I’m talking about something much more fundamental than that. One can discuss social conventions and conventions of social convention without ever broaching the distinction between the real and the perceived. All you need are differences of perceptions, and some theory of agency dependent on local idiosyncratic differences in knowledge to support the existence of agency. It can be discussed without ever leaving the epistemological level, because it’s all about differences of opinion about ostensible attributes. I’m talking about the problem of determining something about reality, i.e., and ontology, from the epistemological level.

 


Well, this depends on the degree to which you are a perspectivist vs. a realist. In your case, I’m unclear on your stance because I think you go back and forth between the two - as you say elsewhere in this post, this is territory that you’re still kind of mulling over, so I understand, but I’m not sure how to respond because I’m not sure what position I’m responding to.

 

The self is an epistemological construct. There are real causes of it. Locality appears to be one of them. As soon as the discussion enters the social realm, the issues become competing epistemological constructs. This does not mean that social phenomena are not real, but rather that they are themselves created by locally-constrained real entities that manifest as agents in our ordinary interpretations. You are pushing the limits of what I have figured out and am able to express, so I’m probably not being very clear. I am basing my theories on the existence of objective reality that is well-explained by materialism and physicalism. I’m doing that because most of the people here are materialists, and many are also physicalists. I can inductively derive objective reality solipsistically, so I’m not concerned extreme skepticism or extreme idealism very much at the moment.

 


This is kind of a rehash of what we discussed above, but again, I think my response would depend largely on what you posit (if anything) is beyond “social phenomenon” (personally, I would say “nothing but a bright clear formless light or something”, but I also use a non colloquial definition of ‘social’ to mean any kind of relating or relationship, not just friendly chit-chat between humans.) To me, the existence of relative relationships is what we would call ‘objective’.

I am uncomfortable with the term mirroring. It seems to me to refer to the actual recognition by one agent of the experiences of another, as in the term mirror neurons. This is not specifically what I am talking about, but it may be a part of it some of the time. I am talking about the reconciliation of points of view to yield the same causality when the points of view yield different experiences in different individuals. This cannot be achieved solely by mirroring as you describe it, although mirroring may be helpful or even necessary to establish a broader base for the induction of an identical cause. I have not figured that out yet.


Hmm… in this case I think you are using a non colloquial definition (I mean mirroring as Google defines it - “correspond to”) but I’m generally happy to change lexicon to whatever makes the most sense to both parties (given what I said above, it would be rather hypocritical of me not to, ha ha!). But either way, I think you are picturing the two humans in the scenario I gave above mirroring each other. This is not what I meant - I meant they were both mirroring the apple, whatever that ‘is’ in the always ethereal ‘external reality’. Outside of internal mirroring (or whatever term you prefer) I actually see no other plausible way that such a representation could take place at all, but I’m open to ideas.

 
 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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28 June 2016 22:27
 
NL. - 28 June 2016 09:56 PM

...

Hmm… in this case I think you are using a non colloquial definition (I mean mirroring as Google defines it - “correspond to”) but I’m generally happy to change lexicon to whatever makes the most sense to both parties (given what I said above, it would be rather hypocritical of me not to, ha ha!). But either way, I think you are picturing the two humans in the scenario I gave above mirroring each other. This is not what I meant - I meant they were both mirroring the apple, whatever that ‘is’ in the always ethereal ‘external reality’. Outside of internal mirroring (or whatever term you prefer) I actually see no other plausible way that such a representation could take place at all, but I’m open to ideas.

Does a neuron firing mirror a subjective mental event, and vice versa? If so, then we might be talking about the same thing.

 
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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29 June 2016 06:58
 
Poldano - 28 June 2016 10:27 PM
NL. - 28 June 2016 09:56 PM

...

Hmm… in this case I think you are using a non colloquial definition (I mean mirroring as Google defines it - “correspond to”) but I’m generally happy to change lexicon to whatever makes the most sense to both parties (given what I said above, it would be rather hypocritical of me not to, ha ha!). But either way, I think you are picturing the two humans in the scenario I gave above mirroring each other. This is not what I meant - I meant they were both mirroring the apple, whatever that ‘is’ in the always ethereal ‘external reality’. Outside of internal mirroring (or whatever term you prefer) I actually see no other plausible way that such a representation could take place at all, but I’m open to ideas.

Does a neuron firing mirror a subjective mental event, and vice versa? If so, then we might be talking about the same thing.


Presumably. The way I picture it is - you have some external set of causes and conditions (given that all sensory information is an illusion created in consciousness, I assume this is something like a mathematical relationship in truly ‘external’ reality). Say this is the apple. A human mind comes into contact with this set of conditions and somehow ‘apple’ appears in consciousness. Why should that be? Presumably, to my mind, because a human brain fires in a pattern that mirrors those external set of conditions and this in turn, as you say, becomes the neural correlate to a conscious experience.

 
 
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