Various philosophical musings
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24-10-2017, 06:08 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
(24-10-2017 08:02 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  That makes sense, but the problem is that it seems kind of circular to me. We have to assume that we currently have access to the memories of what reality is like, and the kind of logic we'd expect from it; and aren't instead getting it completely wrong, but being convinced that it's right. We kind of have to assume we're not dreaming right now.

What are the alternatives? We all have to start somewhere.
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24-10-2017, 08:36 PM (This post was last modified: 24-10-2017 08:40 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: Various philosophical musings
There is no alternative as far as I can see, which is why I feel it's impossible to ever come to a reasonable conclusion about whether I'm dreaming. The sensible approach is to say it doesn't matter, since I must live in this reality regardless, whatever it is. But it's a frustrating conundrum! It's just one of the reasons I don't try and objectively define "real" anymore. This reality is as real to me as any other, at this present time.

(24-10-2017 01:37 PM)Cheerful Charlie Wrote:  What to do about Russellian Teapots?
Supernaturalism or metaphysical naturalism?

As far as I can see, the idea of supernatural is not demonstrated, there is no evidence, nor proof, no logical deduction that needs be taken seriously to mean the idea of supernaturalism must be taken as real or meaningful. So that concept belongs with magic, occultism, vitalism and other such concepts. It at best offers fuzzy, unprovable rhetorical support for other bad ideas. It creates gaps to stuff God into.

Metaphysical naturalism then abandons all of that because it is so intellectually useless. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Proponents of supernaturalism cannot demonstrate that it exists, or demonstrate what its attributes, abilities and limits are. So my take on it is, supernaturalism is useless woo.

I place the concept of supernaturalism in the category of Russel's Teapot until there is good evidence to demonstrate its existence. It is not my burden to disprove it, though I note it is utterly useless which is a strong clue it does not exist.

The other thing I dislike about metaphysics is what I call possibilism. If a woo peddler claims "It is possible that X" where X is unlikely, supposedly then I have to admit it is possible. "Maybe fairies do exist, it is possible!" This tired old rhetorical trick does not mean that one does not have to show evidence for believing a given claim. Possibilism in its many forms tries to shift the burden of evidence to the skeptic.

I am thus a hard core, militant metaphysical naturalist.

The question of what is possible is very interesting. Generally speaking, I would say that we don't know what is possible, further than what we've already seen to be possible.

Is it possible fairies exist? We don't know. The rules of reality may not allow for them, whatever they are. So we may learn in the future that in fact it's not possible they exist, meaning it never was possible.

I'd say Russel's Teapot is a more likely candidate to exist than the supernatural, and a more useful idea, because it at least has a definition that isn't circular or nonsensical.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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24-10-2017, 08:45 PM (This post was last modified: 24-10-2017 08:56 PM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Various philosophical musings
(24-10-2017 08:36 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  There is no alternative as far as I can see, which is why I feel it's impossible to ever come to a reasonable conclusion about whether I'm dreaming.

On rare occasions you can certainly become aware you're dreaming when you are indeed dreaming. But why would you want to realize you're dreaming when you're actually awake? Do you enjoy trying to make yourself out as crazy?

All the construct of dreaming-versus-waking is supposed to do is to differentiate between those two conscious states. There is no guarantee of the accuracy of your perceptions implied in the fact that you happen to be awake, just a greater verifiable accuracy than dreaming -- which is truly a mess of a state and very similar to madness.

We verify our perceptions are largely accurate through comparing them with accounts of other people's perceptions. Is the porch light on? Yes or no. Has someone fed the cat? Yes or no. Is it almost time to go to bed? Yes or no. The waking world is a useful social construct at the very least, and is highly consistent and dependable even beyond our superficial sense perceptions, as scientists have learned. What more could you possibly want from the state?
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24-10-2017, 08:51 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
(24-10-2017 08:45 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(24-10-2017 08:36 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  There is no alternative as far as I can see, which is why I feel it's impossible to ever come to a reasonable conclusion about whether I'm dreaming.

On rare occasions you can certainly become aware you're dreaming when you are indeed dreaming. But why would you want to realize you're dreaming when you're actually awake? Do you enjoy trying to make yourself out as crazy?

All the construct of dreaming-versus-awake is supposed to do is differentiate between those two conscious states. There is no guarantee of the accuracy of your perceptions implied in the fact that you happen to be awake, just a greater verifiable accuracy than dreaming -- which is truly a mess of a state and very similar to madness.

I just find it interesting to think about. I'm fully aware it's of no practical importance.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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24-10-2017, 09:04 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
(24-10-2017 08:51 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  
(24-10-2017 08:45 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  On rare occasions you can certainly become aware you're dreaming when you are indeed dreaming. But why would you want to realize you're dreaming when you're actually awake? Do you enjoy trying to make yourself out as crazy?

I just find it interesting to think about.

Perhaps it's because dreaming depends so much on waking habits and perceptions to construct its own content that there can be such interesting confusions and parallels between the two states.
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24-10-2017, 09:07 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
Coming back to possibility:

Of course, it's always possible that any conclusion we have drawn is wrong. That's just intellectual honesty.

However, it still doesn't mean everything is possible. Any particular thing may be possible, or it may not. One or the other is true, and we don't know which, beyond our current observations.

The sensible approach, given we have a limited amount of time and resources, is to focus our efforts on those ideas which have some sort of evidence to back them up. Those that don't can wait until they do, especially since they haven't shown themselves to be of any consequence, even if they exist.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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29-10-2017, 08:59 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
(22-10-2017 11:28 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I think you overthink it. To me it just means that which currently defies natural explanation. So as we find more and more natural explanations for shit it should refer to a monotonically decreasing subset of shit we can't explain, right? Converging to what though?

I think there are concepts which are intrinsically ineffable but it's hard to explain. Big Grin
I have to defend Rob here, I don't think he's particularly overthinking it. God is supposed to be "outside nature" and that makes "outside nature" ( = "supernatural") an incoherent concept. Anything outside the natural world cannot be examined or described or discussed by us denizens of the natural world. Once you start claiming god has attributes or desires then he's inherently part of the natural world simply because of your knowledge claim. This also applies to other invisible beings (angels, Satan, demons) and to invisible realms (heaven, now and in the afterlife).

"Supernatural" isn't just a placeholder for what we don't understand, it is a hand-waving dismissal of every request we make for substantiation of theist truth-claims.
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31-10-2017, 01:50 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
I can answer all of your questions and cut you in for a nice piece of change, just as soon as I get the Nigerian government to release the funds to which I am rightly heir.

Just send my your bank account number, PIN and SSN, and I'll take care of the details.

Big Grin

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01-11-2017, 02:47 AM
RE: Various philosophical musings
So it's you who has been sending me all those emails... Tongue

I thought I would have more musings by now, but they've kind of disappated among other threads. One notable thing is that many theists seem to use "creator" and "designer" interchangeably. If we forgot for a minute the obsession with "God" having to be omni-everything, which is blatantly absurd, we can have a situation where our reality is created by someone who has no idea how it will all pan out. This is, in fact, a much more believable hypothesis than someone who planned every detail specifically regarding humans, but used hugely unnecessary means to get there (and created a reality which is almost entirely filled with redundant space).

I think that because the idea of being outside our reality is so hard to think about, many theists have a very simple idea of how it would work. However, when you consider that we make computer simulations, it's easier to visualize. If elements of those simulations somehow became conscious, we'd then be their "God". Suddenly we don't look so impressive. Even if we have near-total power with regard to this reality of theirs, we have fuck all back in our own. And crucially, we have no way to tell if something has really become conscious, as far as I can tell. (By that, I mean that a genuine experience is going on, something akin to our own.) This touches upon the problem of other minds, since technically I can't know that about others in my own reality either.

That brings up an ethical point actually: if parts of my simulation would qualify for "consciousness" in all the ways I'd apply to a being in this reality, doesn't this make them no longer just a program but actually deserving of "rights"? If the answer is no, then I don't see much difference between that and me deciding other beings in this reality don't deserve rights because they only show signs of conscious experience also.

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02-11-2017, 06:04 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
(01-11-2017 02:47 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  So it's you who has been sending me all those emails... Tongue
Well . . . <ahem> ... maybe my associates. Yes

Quote:I thought I would have more musings by now, but they've kind of disappated among other threads. One notable thing is that many theists seem to use "creator" and "designer" interchangeably.
Buzzwords go in and out of fashion, even in religion.


Quote: If we forgot for a minute the obsession with "God" having to be omni-everything, which is blatantly absurd, we can have a situation where our reality is created by someone who has no idea how it will all pan out. This is, in fact, a much more believable hypothesis than someone who planned every detail specifically regarding humans, but used hugely unnecessary means to get there (and created a reality which is almost entirely filled with redundant space).
Ever read Vonnegut's Sirens of titan ?

It's notable for a number of things (The Church of God, The Utterly Indifferent), but the overall theme is that an alien robot sets in motion life on Earth, evolution, and all of human history, for the sole purpose of having humanity reach a sufficiently high level of technology to manufacture a replacement part for his disabled spaceship. And in the end the part looks like, and functions as, a bottle opener.

Quote:I think that because the idea of being outside our reality is so hard to think about, many theists have a very simple idea of how it would work. However, when you consider that we make computer simulations, it's easier to visualize. If elements of those simulations somehow became conscious, we'd then be their "God". Suddenly we don't look so impressive. Even if we have near-total power with regard to this reality of theirs, we have fuck all back in our own.
I think using "reality" in the plural sense is, in some regard, an abuse of language. We're not "outside" the reality of the simulations you suggest, nor are they a "different" reality. They're just a subset of reality. If the simulations were somehow conscious, they might not be fully aware of all aspects of reality (ie., us), but that doesn't mean they might not develop theories and eventually learn more about it.

The hard thing, maybe, is to realize that there is no "outside".

Quote:And crucially, we have no way to tell if something has really become conscious, as far as I can tell. (By that, I mean that a genuine experience is going on, something akin to our own.) This touches upon the problem of other minds, since technically I can't know that about others in my own reality either.
We don't even have a satisfactory universally agreed-on definition of "consciousness". The first chapter of Julian Jaynes' notorious book explores a whole laundry list of possible definitions for "consciousness" and ends up rejecting every one of them.

Quote:That brings up an ethical point actually: if parts of my simulation would qualify for "consciousness" in all the ways I'd apply to a being in this reality, doesn't this make them no longer just a program but actually deserving of "rights"? If the answer is no, then I don't see much difference between that and me deciding other beings in this reality don't deserve rights because they only show signs of conscious experience also.
Are rights something that must be "deserved", or are they innate? Does something require consciousness before it deserves rights? Are "rights" something granted from without, or are they something only recognized in contrast with their negation -- ie, when something interferes with them?

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