Various philosophical musings
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05-02-2018, 04:17 AM
RE: Various philosophical musings
I see! Interesting.

I'm not sure whether we will ever be able to model brains that accurately. Do you think it's theoretically possible, though? Or is there is some inherent level of unpredictability?

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05-02-2018, 04:29 AM (This post was last modified: 05-02-2018 04:58 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Various philosophical musings
(05-02-2018 04:17 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I'm not sure whether we will ever be able to model brains that accurately. Do you think it's theoretically possible, though? Or is there is some inherent level of unpredictability?

One problem, as I see it, is that although human motivations are often fairly straightforward, situations alter cases. In other words, consciousness was evolved so creatures could take advantage of changing situations. As William James pointed out, the fish wouldn't have to bite every time it saw a worm if it also recognized a fisherman's hook.

However, situations themselves are often unpredictable, and consciousness responds to variables in situations and often to selected variables at that, depending on focus. That includes internal (hidden) variables. So there is no summation of stimuli, but only a selection of stimuli. In other words, the interest in the bait varies not only with the hook but with the hunger.

Even further, consciousness confuses interpretations with realities so consistently as to be inherently unpredictable itself as well. Even knowing the situations won't necessarily help you predict what people will do. The hook may be there but hidden, making the conscious interpretation of a safe meal inaccurate.

But all of that just means you have to take conscious as well as unconscious factors into account to make predictions. You have to know not only what people are paying attention to but how they interpret it as well.

How do you define consciousness?
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05-02-2018, 05:26 AM
RE: Various philosophical musings
Okay, so I think you're saying the brain has inherent unpredictability? My question is about the brain overall, regardless of how it functions. If I know enough about the brain, and I know what external stimuli it experiences, can I predict its responses with almost certain accuracy? We don't know, is the answer, but my guess would be that we could. It seems you don't agree, which is fine of course.

The exact definition of consciousness seems to be in some dispute, but I'd say it's {an experience which is} an emergent property of a functioning brain.

Whether an "experience" is something that can be scienfically defined, I don't know, so I put that part as optional. Other people here can probably do far better than me.

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05-02-2018, 11:55 AM
RE: Various philosophical musings
(05-02-2018 05:26 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Okay, so I think you're saying the brain has inherent unpredictability?

I mentioned three levels which make brains unpredictable with anything too close to 100% accuracy. Those levels are the complexity of the material world, the selectivity of consciousness, and the varying interpretations possible.

So the bait may or may not have a hook (simplified complexity).
The fish may or may not be hungry.
And the fish may or may not think a hook is present, even if it is present.

Consciousness is involved in all three factors.

The fish is aware of external information.
The fish is aware of internal information.
And the fish's perceptions may or may not be accurately interpreted (assuming for the sake of the example that its consciousness works at that level).

This is a somewhat over-simplified schematic of how consciousness is involved in decision making and is therefore causally effective, at least in my opinion.

Such conscious factors muddy the water and make behaviors inherently unpredictable, even in such a simplified form, because subjective states do not translate into objective information.

How do we know when and whether the fish sees a hook, since its vision is guided by selective attention?
How do we know when and whether the fish is feeling hungry and therefore looking for food, since its internal perceptions are also selected?
How do we know whether the fish accurately interprets the situation?

The whole idea of determinism is that behaviors all boil down to objective factors. If they are sometimes influenced by subjective factors which are not themselves translatable objectively, then the case for determinism fails. This is especially so when consciousness considers possible alternative interpretations when it lacks complete objective information, which it always does. In other words, consciousness fills in the blanks of its own perceptions with assumptions, at least at a higher level of cognition. How can we begin to objectively interpret the subjective interpretative process when the possible interpretations are so varied and draw on stored experiences we have nothing like objective assess to? Objectively we see chemical reactions and electrical responses rather than the pictures and meanings which are subjectively experienced during such considerations.

This is why I say symbolic causes are not the same as objective causes. They are inherently subjective and not available for consideration, unless we ask people to tell us about them as a part of our analyses.
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06-02-2018, 05:15 PM
RE: Various philosophical musings
(02-02-2018 09:57 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  
(02-02-2018 04:02 PM)Dr H Wrote:  If the deity in question is omniscient, then he/she/it knows that your faith isn't real.
So pretending to believe is an exercise in futility.

Unless, of course, the deity is real AND poseurs get into heaven.
Of course if that's true, then real faith is meaningless. Tongue

Absolutely, yes.

Also, I deem any deity who decided to include suffering here to be a disgusting monster. And with the usual omniscient claims, it knows that too. Yet it apparently wants me to lie to it and tell it that it's great, when we both know I don't mean it. What kind of pathetic deity are we talking about here? Again, this is a lot to assume about this diety, and there's no reason to do so. Maybe it wants me to tell the truth, and that's how I "win".

We went astray when we abandoned the ancient deities of the Greeks, Norse, etc. There we had gods that were assumed to have human passions, pretensions, conceits, and caprices. It made for a far more understandable pantheon.

At some point much of humanity decided that God needed to be above all that sort of thing, despite the abundant evidence that He, if He actually existed, continued to wallow in these human foibles. Rather than face the music and admit that we created this God in our own image, instead we provided a 2000 year sinecure for untold numbers of priests, bishops, and theologians.

--
Dr H

"So, I became an anarchist, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
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21-02-2018, 05:46 AM
RE: Various philosophical musings
"[William Lane] Craig committed a related mistake when he argued that 'without God there are no objective moral values, moral duties or moral accountability' and that 'if life ends at the grave, then ultimately it makes no difference whether you live as a Stalin or a Mother Teresa.' Call this 'Craig's Categorical Error': assessing the value of something by the wrong category of criteria. In my [Michael Shermer's] new book, recently published, Heavens on Earth, I debunk the common belief that without God and the promise of an afterlife, this life has no morality or meaning. We live in the here and now, not the hereafter, so our actions must be judged according to the criteria of this category, whether or not the category of a God-granted hereafter exists."

https://www.scientificamerican.com/artic..._text_free
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21-02-2018, 06:21 AM
RE: Various philosophical musings
I find quite the opposite to be true (to what WLC says). If this life is a test for some bored voyeur, before the "real" life starts, that makes this life quite a lot less meaningful to me. The belief that this life is all you get makes it far more valuable.

I think the mistake is often the assumption that our life has to have some meaning external to itself; to count towards something else, or to please some external being.

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