Thursday, May 21, 2015

The laws of logic and the laws of physics

To reason is to hold a belief governed by logical relations and logical laws. But matter is governed by the laws of physics, not the laws of logic. A entailing B, or A's being evidence for B, has to at least some of the time be causally responsible for S's believing B. But if the laws of physics determine everything, the laws of logic and evidence are inoperative in the formation of belief. How are the laws of logic, laws that are not spatiotemorally local, have anything to do with the formation of beliefs, when all the causes of what anyone believes are spatiotemporally local?
Attempts to "naturalize" the mind always fudge categories.
Any attempt to reduce intentionality to something nonmental will always fail because it leaves out intentionality. Suppose for example that you had a perfect causal account of the belief that water is wet. This account is given by stating the set of causal relations in which a system stands to water and to wetness and these relations are entirely specified without any mental component. The problem is obvious: a system could have all those relations and still not believe that water is wet. This is just an extension of the Chinese Room argument, but the moral it points to is general: You cannot reduce intentional content (or pains, or "qualia") to something else, because if you did they would be something else, and it is not something else." (Searle, Rediscovery p. 51).

72 comments:

Ilíon said...

Or, to put it more succinctly – and in a way that Searle wishes devoutly to avoid – IF atheism is indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN there exist no entities capable of engaging in acts of reasoning.

But, there are entities capable of engaging in acts of reasoning; namely, ourselves.

Therefore, atheism is not the truth about the nature of reality.

Furthermore, since *all* attempts to formulate a rational-and-logical argument that atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, after all, will and must founder on the now-established fact that atheism inescapably contradicts known truths about reality, it follows that there are, nor never can be, and *good* arguments for atheism.

cl said...

For Pete's sake, we all get this Ilion, but you know damn well the response: we aren't actually capable of reasoning, we just have the illusion thereof.

Ilíon said...

C.L.Hufnstuf "For Pete's sake, we all get this Ilion ..."

I'm not seeing the evidence that "we all get this".

cl: " ... but you know damn well the response: we aren't actually capable of reasoning, we just have the illusion thereof."

And what is the *proper* response to that?

Hint: it ain't "respectful dialogue" -- you can't have a "respectful dialogue" with someone who so disrespects you that he will lie to your face. And in this situation, it's not merely lying about some fact or other, it's lying about the very nature of reality and about the first and most self-evident fact about ourselves.

There are three, and only three, general categories of explanation of why a person asserts a false thing:
1) he is incapable of understanding the truth of the matter -- this is to say that he is too stupid to understand it;
2) he is fails at understanding the truth of the matter -- this is to say that he is ignorant in some way, which prevents his understanding it;
3) he declines to state the truth of the matter -- this is to say that he is dishonest in some manner about the matter.

There is *no one* capable of composing a commbox post who is too stupid or too ignorant to understand that -- non-exhaustively --
* human beings can and do reason soundly and validly, which is to say, it's *not* true that "we just have the illusion" that we reason;
* human beings can and do know some truths, which is to say, it's *not* true that we can't know anything with certainty;
* IF atheism is indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN there exist no entities capable of engaging in acts of reasoning;
* Therefore, atheism is not the truth about the nature of reality.

As there is no adult any of us are ever likely to encounter who is too stupid or too ignorant to understand the all above points, when we do encounter an individual who denies any of them, we therefore know that we are dealing with a dishonest person: at a minimum, we have identified a liar; though, by the content of the lie, he's not a mere liar, but intellectually dishonest.

*ALL* so-called atheists deny at least one of the above four points that no one can reasonably-or-rationally deny. THEREFORE, *all* so-called atheists are seen, by the very fact of denying the reality of God, to be intellectually dishonest. The one word denoter of such persons is: fool.

cl said...

There are three, and only three, general categories of explanation of why a person asserts a false thing:

Correct, o genius who seems to derive great pleasure from an over-inflated sense of vocabulary! Problem is, you ALWAYS jump to 3 and seem to get a huge boner over calling all atheists liars - and it's gotten REALLY old.

In fact, it's about as detracting from intelligent conversation as the guys Vic banned. And the one super irate theist with the Jewish name.

As there is no adult any of us are ever likely to encounter who is too stupid or too ignorant to understand the all above points, when we do encounter an individual who denies any of them, we therefore know that we are dealing with a dishonest person: at a minimum, we have identified a liar; though, by the content of the lie, he's not a mere liar, but intellectually dishonest.

Right, it just *CAN'T* be that the devil *ACTUALLY DOES* blind the minds of unbelievers like that silly old book says. Who cares if Peter says have an answer to all, with salt and grace? Just call 'em liars and ask questions later! Man, for somebody who prides himself on his logic, you sure are bad at detecting false dichotomies - and quite good at failing to incorporate exegesis in your fluff.

Just my opinions, won't respond to you again on this thread, so make sure your last word is jam-packed with lyin, er, I mean.. Ilion effort!

SRV said...

I believe there are honest atheists, that is, atheists who think the evidence and arguments are against theism.

They may believe that the concept of God is itself incoherent, or that the "problem of evil" can't be reconciled with the existence of an all powerful creator, or that naturalism is so obvious that believing in the supernatural must be just superstition, delusion, wishful thinking, etc.

The atheist is wrong on all of those counts, but I can't assume that every atheist is therefore being "intellectually dishonest" or is a "liar".

Theists must present the case for God, which isn't really hard to do, and hope that the truth (and faith in God opening eyes) will reach even the most skeptical minds.

Ilíon said...

While there are certainly 'atheists' who are *generally* honest, no 'atheist' is honest with respect the very question that defines them.

Even if there were no positive arguments for the reality of God, the obvious inescapable logical entailments of denying God prove that atheism is false. SInce there is no excluded middle, as "God is not" is false, then "God is" is true.

There is no way around this.

There is no way that a person of normal intelligence can *honestly* claim that he's too stupid, or too ignorant, to understand this. As there are *only* three options, with those two possibilities ruled out, only the last s left: he he knows, but refuses to acknowledge, the truth of the matter.

And waving around the co-called "problem of evil" just compounds the dishonesty. For, the atheistic "solution" -- the *only* one available under atheism -- to the "problem of evil" is to deny that anything is evil (or good) in the first place.

Ilíon said...

Your problem, Hufnstuf -- I mean, aside from your Stockholm Syndrome -- is that rigor of reasoning, the derivation of, and foreceful statement of, definite conclusions from valis reasoning applied to true premises, "offends" you.

Your problem is that you wan to be able to have things both ways.

But that's not how the world works.

Ilíon said...

The truth is, *I* am the one who is being charitable toward the so-called atheists.

Contrary to the comforting lie that Hufnstuf retails above ("Problem is, you ALWAYS jump to 3 and seem to get a huge boner over calling all atheists liars..."), I do the very opposite: I always assume that people say untrue things because they don’t understand something about the matter.

Even with respect to ‘atheists’ *as* God-deniers, I give them the benefit of the doubt whenever I can: that they just haven’t thought carefully about the matter yet.

Look at Hufnstuf’s “solution” to the question of why it might be that so-called atheists continue to deny the reality of God, even though that denial logically commits them to denying that human beings can know truth and can reason to previously unknown truth, and indeed, to denying that they themselves even exist –


C.L.Hufnstuf:Right, it just *CAN'T* be that the devil *ACTUALLY DOES* blind the minds of unbelievers like that silly old book says.

*That’s* charity? *That’s* taking them seriously as persons and rational beings? *That’s* acknowledging them to be moral agents, the very image of God?

How, pray tell, can a moral agent bearing the image of God have his mind blinded by demons without his own cooperation in the hypothetical blinding? What? Are demons more powerful than God?

Since Hufnpuf wants to “argue” this on the basis Scripture, what of Paul’s very clear teaching – under the inspiration of God, no less -- that *no man* has any excuse for denying the reality of God? Now, if *no man* has any excuse for denying the reality of God –pace Vallicella, and as I am continuously demonstrating via reason without appeal to Scripture – then that also means that any blame for any hypothetical blinding by demons *also* lies with the person himself.

Moreover, *if* Hufnstuf (and B.Prokop) want to pretend that it’s not that ‘atheists’ choose to assert what they know to be false, but rather, due to demonic influence, are incapable of understanding and thus assenting to the truth of the matter, then what in the Hell is he/they doing “arguing” with ‘atheists’, trying to persuade them to assent to a truth of which he/they just got through saying the ‘atheists’ are wholly incapable of assenting?

Instead of pointless “dialogue”, why is he not praying for them? You know, *really* praying for demonic deliverance?

=======
C.L.Hufnstuf:Just call 'em liars and ask questions later! Man, for somebody who prides himself on his logic, you sure are bad at detecting false dichotomies …

As I’ve demonstrated via reason, over and over again, *I* am not engaging in false dichotomies. Rather, because this fool hates truth, he demands “answers” that cannot stand. And then condemns me for declining to join him in his intellectual dishonesty.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that all of us would appreciate not hearing about Illion's boners ever again.

Ilíon said...

I can assure one and all that Ilíon has always found others' interest in, nay obsession with, his boners, actual or potential, to be most disconcerting.

DougJC said...

Victor,

"But if the laws of physics determine everything, the laws of logic and evidence are inoperative in the formation of belief. "

I'd say the laws of logic are defined by the laws of physics, they don't operate independently. Evolution can't produce purposeful behavior in even the simplest bacterium without complex logical relationships between inputs, states and outputs. It seems reasonable to say that a bacteria seeks out food via the laws of physics while also seeking out food via a protein-instantiated DNA program which makes use of logical relationships between sensory, memory and action.

"How are the laws of logic, laws that are not spatiotemorally local, have anything to do with the formation of beliefs, when all the causes of what anyone believes are spatiotemporally local?"

In the sense I mean, the laws of logic are just as spatiotemporally local as physics, but exist in the evolved DNA of biological organisms, which in turn instantiates proteins, which generates brains containing enormously complex neural networks, which in turn operate logically with sensory inputs, memory and action. What we believe, then, is caused by the laws of logic and the laws of physics.

"The problem is obvious: a system could have all those relations and still not believe that water is wet."

A conscious belief can not be just a set of relations but seems to require an agent-awareness model of those sets of relations. "Water is wet" can be set up in a physical system without any mental component seeming to emerge until you create a second physical system that treats the first as an "agent" having "beliefs" and reports "Yes" or "No" depending on whether "Water is wet" exists in that physical system. Combining both physical systems should give you something much closer to what we perceive as conciousness (this is Graziano's theory of consciousness).

Crude said...

It seems reasonable to say that a bacteria seeks out food via the laws of physics while also seeking out food via a protein-instantiated DNA program which makes use of logical relationships between sensory, memory and action.

'The laws of physics' have no place for "seeking out", "programs" or even "relationships" between anything. That gets into issues of intentionality and aboutness. Introduce those at the physical level, and naturalism is left behind.

In the sense I mean, the laws of logic are just as spatiotemporally local as physics, but exist in the evolved DNA of biological organisms, which in turn instantiates proteins,

There is no way to cash this out without ultimately collapsing back into the problem Victor outlines. If we imbue matter with non-mechanistic properties from the outset, then the problems with mechanistic views don't obtain - but then we're no longer talking about 'the laws of physics' as they're meant here.

A conscious belief can not be just a set of relations but seems to require an agent-awareness model of those sets of relations. "Water is wet" can be set up in a physical system without any mental component seeming to emerge

By all means, then provide this system in a way which doesn't ultimately smuggle back in the mental, intentionality, etc.

Grazziano does exactly the same thing. "Yet the brain can easily construct information, and information can depict anything, even things that are physically impossible." he says, but when time comes to cash that out, it's right on back to either smuggling, or reductionism or eliminativism, which just highlights the same problems all over again.

Ilíon said...

VR: "To reason is to hold a belief governed by logical relations and logical laws. But matter is governed by the laws of physics, not the laws of logic. ... But if the laws of physics determine everything, the laws of logic and evidence are inoperative in the formation of belief. How are the laws of logic, laws that are not spatiotemorally local, have anything to do with the formation of beliefs, when all the causes of what anyone believes are spatiotemporally local?"

DJC: "I'd say ..."

Translation: No, it's not 'that', it's 'this' -- [this is a very common tactic, by the way, and one not uncommon amongst those who set themselves to dispute what I say]

But, what does 'this' turn out to be? Why, precisely 'that'.

DJC: "I'd say the laws of logic are defined by the laws of physics, they don't operate independently. Evolution can't produce purposeful behavior in even the simplest bacterium without complex logical relationships between inputs, states and outputs. It seems reasonable to say that a bacteria seeks out food via the laws of physics while also seeking out food via a protein-instantiated DNA program which makes use of logical relationships between sensory, memory and action."

This fellow is denying the very substance of "logical relations and logical laws", attempting to turn the phrase "logical relations" into another way of saying "physical/material relationships" and the phrase "logical laws" into another way of saying "physical/material cause-and-effect".

In other words, this fellow seeks to empty the phrases "logical relationships" and "logical laws" of any possible meaning, all the while pretending to be doing nothing of the sort.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I responded to Vic's Argument from Reason and shown it proves nothing: http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/01/prior-prejudices-and-argument-from.html

Victor Reppert never imagines that anything "new" can arise in a cosmos built of matter and energy. He still thinks in terms of the cosmos being nothing but isolated billiard balls. But the human brain-mind system functions by taking in data in mega-dozes, whole scenes of nature, via the senses, and reacts to these mega-sized doses of reality which constitute more than just reacting to individual atoms. Neither did brain-minds develop overnight. There's amoeba with no neurons, worms with a few neurons, all the way up to the great apes and a few other large-brained mammalian species like dolphins and elephants. As for logic, it is idiomatic, either A equals B or it does not. Animals sense differences in nature and their surroundings. Whether it is raining or not, and react to their brain-mind sensation of rain, not to individual atoms. Even a single cell species like amoeba can detect and trap prey, without a brain-mind. It is acting reasonably one might say in doing so, or at least proto-reasonably. Now imagine a brain-mind with 100 billion electro-chemically functioning neurons and a trillion connections between them. Imagine all that it can detect and react to. Vic never imagines such things. Also, determinism makes his skin crawl, but what's worse, determinism or making decisions based on "libertarian free will" utterly not connected with nature or one's wealth of knowledge? What's important is not "free will" decisions but making intelligent decisions, and that means taking in as much data as possible pertinent to each decision and prior to making it, even if that means our decisions are not libertarian "free willed." Libertarian "free will" decisions make as little sense as spinning a wheel of fortune, since by definition libertarian "free will" is a decision that can never be predicted, and that is not even decided by the most subtle of means. In fact the definition of libertarian "free will" is that a person is placed back in the same time and space and frame of mind when they first made a decision, and then see if they will continue to make the same decision endlessly. The libertarian "free will" position is that the person would be able to make a different decision. Totally unpredictable. Like I said, like spinning a wheel of fortune. Imagine a Christian placed back in time to the point when they decided to "become born again," and given a chance to change their minds. According to Vic they would be risking their eternal salvation each time they are place back in that same exact situation and frame of mind.

Ilíon said...

^ Look at that (including the rank misrepresentation of, well, *everything*, including both of what Reppert says and what he himself is saying in the very post) ... and keep telling yourselves what fine, upstanding, rational, principled, charitable, "partners" in "dialogue" these God-deniers are.

E.T.Babinski: "I responded to Vic's Argument from Reason and shown it proves nothing ...."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that Babinski's "response" is a otiose, if verbose, "Nya! Nya!" and that his alleged demonstraton that the AfR proves nothing will reduce to, "You can't compel me to admit 'A', therefore 'not-A'"

E.T.Babinski: "Also, determinism makes his skin crawl, but what's worse, determinism or making decisions based on "libertarian free will" utterly not connected with nature or one's wealth of knowledge? What's important is not "free will" decisions but making intelligent decisions, and that means taking in as much data as possible pertinent to each decision and prior to making it, even if that means our decisions are not libertarian "free willed." Libertarian "free will" decisions make as little sense as spinning a wheel of fortune, ..."

I have taken in a great deal of "data" from nature, and that "data", coupled with my "wealth of knowledge", determines that I "decide" to state that Babinski is worse than a liar, for he is a fool.

Ilíon said...

^ Meanwhile, all the hypocritical (*) shriekers, those dhimmis to atheists, refuse to understand/admit that my “rudeness” is totally in keeping with what the God-haters assert is the truth about reality and about human beings.


(*) for they all do what they falsely accuse me of doing, but "justify" it (when they do it) by saying, "He made me angry"

Edward T. Babinski said...

What are logic and reason? Are they things or processes? I suspect that language fools us into thinking that all nouns are objects of some sort, because by naming something we make it appear more static. Writing down words in a book indeed makes them appear more solid and static, but such words mean nothing unless humans are actively processing them, thinking about what they are reading with their mind, making the information in the book come alive.

It takes a human to recognize what makes sense and what doesn't. Humans generalized and eventually summarized what they discovered and named it, "the laws of logic." But humans didn't stop there, Aristotle's basic rules are no longer all there is to logic. Today there's fascinating discussions concerning the nature of logic, non-classical logic, logical pluralism, paradoxes, vagueness, contradiction, questions concerning liars and heaps, new essays on the a priori, the origins of reason, the origins of objectivity, epistemological problems of knowing, empty names, shadows, holes, the law of noncontradiction, transconsistency, as well as discussions of learning, development and conceptual changes.

A naturalist might add that the only atoms in the cosmos that we know for certain can employ abstract logic and reasoning are those found in the human brain. But those are atoms working in unison, arranged in an order that is indebted to an evolutionary progression of species over time, and which also depend on the cerebral development and sensory input a human baby processes on its way toward adulthood, a baby that must also be raised by other humans. (Without being around humans that speak a language and who themselves are embedded in a culture with a long history of acquiring knowledge that baby might not even learn how to speak, let alone be able to employ abstract logic and reasoning, i.e., if raised instead by dogs, it would probably bark.)

Edward T. Babinski said...

How mysterious is it for a brain-mind to come up with something that it calls "logical distinctions?" Is it a mystery that some things resemble (or don't resemble) other things? "A equals A," "A does not equal B," "A is greater or lesser than B," and so forth. Such recognitions, illustrated symbolically, are so basic that even the simplest and earliest of electronic computers was capable of running symbolic logic equations. In contrast note that computer programmers have had a devil of a time trying to develop a computer that can sense, recognize and react to similarities and differences in their immediate environment. Animals do far better than computers in the latter respect. Even amoeba can detect, pursue and trap prey, all without a brain. Above the level of amoeba there's the worm Caenorhabditis elegans with only 302 neurons in its brain by which is it able to sense its surroundings and react to them. Join together 100 billion neurons with 100 trillion connections between them and you have a human brain, capable of much, much more.

The human brain can think symbolically, but of course if it couldn't we wouldn't have language in the first place, let alone logic and math. But logic is self-referential and axiomatic, starting with "A=A" just as math begins with "1=1." Reality is trickier. And one must experiment, question and juggle ideas to test how they match up, and continue to experiment to discover more. It's an ongoing process, but so is all thought.

Edward T. Babinski said...

No mere system of words and nouns can categorize and catalog all of nature. Librarians recognize such a difficulty whenever someone writes a book that crosses genres or crosses scientific disciplines, or when geographical boarders and names of countries change, along with the many different languages with words unique to them, not to mention the subtle way words may change their common usages or meanings over time. Psychology is like that too, attempting to define people's behavior patterns using a limited number of terms, but people's dispositions and motivations lie along a spectrum, making strict categorizations of each person's "psychology," difficult to say the least.

Anyone can form their own system of categorization, but all system require perpetual tweaking, from the Dewey Decimal System of organizing books in a library -- to the Library of Congress System -- to Google's system of ranking links via algorithms that seek hub sites that link to other hub sites with a similar focus, and comparing number of "hits" at each hub for different words -- which provides an analogy for how a neural network functions, and as google continues to refine its algorithms based on the world's search patterns, until perhaps the world's search patterns can provide a simulation of the brain's own patterns, I say perhaps.

Some categorization systems are more comprehensive and capable of absorbing new categorizes as they arise or change, while others grown more unwieldy over time as categories continue to multiply and change.

What about the vagueness inherent in words themselves, the fuzziness? Take the word "heap." If you start with a tiny particle of something, and add another, then another, exactly at what point do all the particles become a heap? At what exact point does a chair's width make it no longer a chair but a couch? Or think of the many things upon which one might sit upright, called "chairs," everything from the standard four legged chair to an amorphous bean bag. There is no divine "chair" in some world of Platonic absolutes. Speaking of fuzziness, if we had the technical ability to replace individual base pairs in the DNA of a chimpanzee, making each of its genes more closely resemble those in the DNA of a human being, after which replacement of which DNA base pair could you now declare the chimpanzee to be a human being? What if one reversed such an experiment, changing a human being into a chimpanzee one DNA based pair at a time?

Edward T. Babinski said...

Lastly, what about mathematical equations? Are they more mysterious than language or logic? Or can they also be understood as human made models of reality as in the previous cases? An analogy may help us decide. Let's picture nature as consisting of squiggly lines. We want to understand those lines better. A scientist can not concentrate on all of reality with all its squiggly lines at once. So he concentrates on one squiggly line at a time, tying to isolate that squiggle and then tries to devise a mathematical model that approximates the movement of that line, hoping that such an equation continues to prove useful when he widens the picture in both time and space and reintroduces more of nature's other squiggly lines back into the picture, some of which may influence the movement of the original line in ways he can't predict. In other words, mathematics is like building models that mimic things we see. But models are not reality in themselves, nor are words equal to things. Nor are maps equal to the territory. Models, words, maps are approximations, the best we have to work with. For a recent book the delves into such questions see, Why Beliefs Matter: Reflections on the Nature of Science by E. Brian Davies, and also this list of books on the history and philosophy of mathematics.

Philosophical world views are models as well, not reality. There's always some way for a philosopher to add qualifications and hypothetical explanations and maintain their world view in the face of questions. And we each have our own estimates of the worth of others' ideas and experiences, based on our own, along with whatever world view we've relied most heavily on in the past that made the most sense to us and which our brain-mind stubbornly maintains rather than switching world views every week. The fact that philosophical world views are all models also reminds me of the words of E. M. Cioran:
The great philosophical systems are actually no more than brilliant tautologies. What advantage is it to know that the nature of being consists in the "will to live," in the "idea," or in the whim of God or of Chemistry? A mere proliferation of words, subtle displacements of meanings. "What is" loathes the verbal embrace, and our inmost experience reveals to us nothing beyond the privileged and inexpressible moment. (E. M. Cioran, "Farewell to Philosophy" in A Short History of Decay)
Further reading: "Theism's Pyrrhic Victory" in The Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 : 4 (2002) by Paul Jude Naquin, Louisiana State Univ. Naquin's paper addresses Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism in Warrant and Proper Function. "The goal of this essay is to show that traditional theism suffers from a malady similar to the one that Plantinga claims to find in metaphysical naturalism."

Edward T. Babinski said...

Dearest Ilion, I am what one might call an agnostic though I dislike labels. All I deny is that the canonical Christian Bible makes perfect sense, along with various so-called infallible arguments for the existence of a "personal" "caring" deity. How personal and caring? I wonder looking at the revelation of God known as "nature." I wonder about a lot of things that apparently you and Vic have all sewn up firmly in your bag of certainties.

Neither do I have to claim that everyone's religious or supernatural seeming experiences are false in order to ask the question, "How can God expect us to know what to make of the diversity of religious beliefs and miracle stories? We are presented with a mixed bag of evidence." Quite a large mixed bag for anyone who take a moment to stick their noses outside of the orthodox "Christian" environment: http://religiousmiracles.blogspot.com/2013/02/miracles-of-all-religions-provide-crazy.html

Same goes for those who dare to stick their noses outside of the "Evangelical apologetics" and "Evangelical scholarship" tents.

I was born again in my mid-teens, elected president of my Christian campus group, and tried my damndest after college to lead some well educated friends back to the fold. I read all of Lewis' apologetic works, the Inklings, all of Williams. And I read McDonald and Chesterton (30 or so of his works), anyone whom Lewis suggested. Some fine writers, but their arguments for the exclusivity of Christianity and its superiority over all manner of other religions and ways of thinking about the world struck me as unsustainable, and I could no longer honestly say the Creed in church, so I honestly had to leave.





Ilíon said...

^ at least, it appears, someone taught him to insert some line-breaks in his wall-of-text vapidity.

Ilíon said...

Let's not let E.T.Babibski's first run-on "contribution" to this thread get list in his more recent "contributions".

E.T.Babibski: "Victor Reppert never imagines that anything "new" can arise in a cosmos built of matter and energy. He still thinks in terms of the cosmos being nothing but isolated billiard balls ..."

Translation: Victor Repprt isn't quite as, shall we say, sharp, as E.T.Babibski. I mean, look, he doesn't even know how to put scare-quotes around the word 'new' as I just did in asserting that something that doesn't exist can just pop into being out of entities possessing no potential to exhibit it.

E.T.Babibski: "But the human brain-mind system functions by taking in data in mega-dozes, whole scenes of nature, via the senses, and reacts to these mega-sized doses of reality which constitute more than just reacting to individual atoms. Neither did brain-minds develop overnight. There's amoeba with no neurons, worms with a few neurons, all the way up to the great apes and a few other large-brained mammalian species like dolphins and elephants ..."

Translation:
1) there is no such thing as a human mind (which is one of the primary points of contention; and since I just slipped through the denial of them, I win, I win!); that's just and old "folk phychology" concept, akin to an old wives tale;
2) even though my very own metaphysics asserts that the cosmos is nothing but matter and energy moving/chaning in space and time, when it comes to disputing with Victor Reppert concerning the implications of that metaphysics, because I can assert that he's too stupid to imagine that "new" (and do note the scare-quotes) things, things not potentially present in "matter in motion" -- and which I'm going to deny the existence of, anyway, by asserting that they are the same as what-they-are-not -- I have thereby put paid to his silly objections to the logical implications to my assertions (and I win, I win!);
3) as proven [Ilíon: ha!] above, to speak of the so-called human 'mind' is just to speak of the human brain;
4) because atoms can be arranged in complex configurations [Ilíon: which is to say, in configurations comprising two or more atoms], and because I can assert that Victor Reppert is too stupid to imagine physical entities more complex than "individual atoms", I have thereby put paid to his silly objections to my assertion that 'minds' (which don't exist, anyway, certainly not as he means the term) can just come into being from non-minds (and I win, I win!);
5) even though the very existence of data depends upon the logically prior existence of some 'mind' (which doesn't exist, anyway) or other which is "taking in data in mega-dozes", because I am asserting that data causes 'brains' to come into being, and that the term 'mind' is just another term for 'brain', I have thereby put paid to his silly objections to my assertion that 'minds' (which don't exist, etc) can just come into being from non-minds (and I win, I win!);

E.T.Babibski: "As for logic, it is idiomatic, either A equals B or it does not. Animals sense differences in nature and their surroundings. Whether it is raining or not, and react to their brain-mind sensation of rain, not to individual atoms. Even a single cell species like amoeba can detect and trap prey, without a brain-mind. It is acting reasonably one might say in doing so, or at least proto-reasonably ..."

Translation: There is no such thing as 'logic', nor 'reason', and certainly not as Victor Reppert means the terms [Ilíon: do look up 'idiomatic' on your own time]

Ilíon said...

E.T.Babibski: "Now imagine a brain-mind with 100 billion electro-chemically functioning neurons and a trillion connections between them. Imagine all that it can detect and react to. Vic never imagines such things ..."

Translation: Look! This isn't that difficult, you moron! If you just imagine that materialism captures the essential truth about the nature of reality, and of human 'brains', then I win, I win!

E.T.Babibski: "Also, determinism makes his skin crawl ..."

Translation: Because I can assert that Victor Reppert is reacting emotionally to the logical implications of determinism -- that is, because I can assert that his logical-and-rational objections to the logical implications of determinism don't even exist -- well, as you know, I win, I win!

E.T.Babibski: "... but what's worse, determinism or making decisions based on "libertarian free will" utterly not connected with nature or one's wealth of knowledge?"

Translation: Because I can misrepresent what I say (and the logical implications of it), and what Victor Reppert says (and the logical implications of it), and indeed can misrepresent the very concept of "libertarian free will", well, as you know, I win, I win!

E.T.Babibski: "What's important is not "free will" decisions but making intelligent decisions, and that means taking in as much data as possible pertinent to each decision and prior to making it, even if that means our decisions are not libertarian "free willed." Libertarian "free will" decisions make as little sense as spinning a wheel of fortune, since by definition libertarian "free will" is a decision that can never be predicted, and that is not even decided by the most subtle of means ..."

Translation: Even though am denying even the possibility of 'intelligence' and, indeed, the possibility of the making of decisions, you need to pretend that I am not doing so ('cause, if you don't so pretend, I might not win). Further, since I can assert that "free will" is the same thing as "randomness" [Ilíon: the reader may recall that that I had pointed out, just the other day, that materialists do, and must, deny the reality of agent freedom and "explain" it as mere "randomness"], I have thereby put paid to Victor Reppert's silly objections to the logical implications to my assertions about the nature of reality and of human 'minds" (and, I win, I win!)

Ilíon said...

====
E.T.Babibski: "Libertarian "free will" decisions make as little sense as spinning a wheel of fortune, since by definition libertarian "free will" is a decision that can never be predicted, and that is not even decided by the most subtle of means. In fact the definition of libertarian "free will" is that a person is placed back in the same time and space and frame of mind when they first made a decision, and then see if they will continue to make the same decision endlessly. The libertarian "free will" position is that the person would be able to make a different decision. Totally unpredictable. Like I said, like spinning a wheel of fortune ..."

Hmmm. So, Babinski can assert that Victor Reppert is merely reacting emotionally to the logical implications of determinism -- that is, he can assert that Reppert's logical-and-rational objections to the logical implications of determinism don't even exist -- but somehow, we are required to not notice that he has just admitted that his (ahem) objection to "free will" is precisely the anti-rational intolerable (to him) fright at the fact that, definitionally, a "free will" is, well, free, that it is non-deterministic, that the reality of agent freedom cannot be accounted for under determinism, that freedom is the opposite of determinism.

When you get down to it, Babinski's (ahem) argument is this: Reppert's metaphysics is contrary to, and mutually exclusive of, my metaphysics. Since it is intolerable to me that his metaphysics be correct, I have thereby proven that my metaphysics is correct.

At the same time, Babinski, like all materialists, doesn't actually believe his own metaphysical commitments. He asserts that evey "decisin" we make is determined by prior physical/material states -- that is, he denies that we even *make* decisions -- but you all know that if I decide to keep fisking him, he's going to start whining at Reppert to ban me ... as though I have any choice in what I say and how I say it.

Materialists are intellectually dishonest to the core.

=====
Charity does not involve "cleaning up" what people have said, so as to make it the "nicer" thing one wishes they had said. Charity does not start with the position "I would never have said what he just said, therefore he must have said something more like what I would have said". Rather, charity is the obligation to do one's best to understand what people mean by what they say, no matter how they may have said it.

Ilíon said...

E.T.Babibski: "...I am what one might call an agnostic though I dislike labels. All I deny is that the canonical Christian Bible makes perfect sense ..."

Look at this fool! Just a few posts back (the last one I've had tiime to read, the one I just fisked), he wrote a lengthy (and run-together) post wherein he asserted raw determinism and materialism. Now he's trying to claim that he's merely an 'agnostic' -- that is, an 'atheist' who doesn't have the balls to own to his own atheism.

If one is intellectually dishonest, as Babinski is, "one might call" anything anything. Who cares?

E.T.Babibski: "... though I dislike labels."

Translation: I dislike the accurate disingushing of, and subsequent denotion of, the differences between one thing and another.

Ilíon said...

E.T.Babibski: "...I wonder about a lot of things that apparently you and Vic have all sewn up firmly in your bag of certainties. ..."

You "nice" people, you willing dhimmis to the atheists, you people who will, if you must, deny Truth Himself for the sake of a patronizing pat on the head from the people who hate he whom you claim is your Lord, never get it through your heads that as far as they're concerned, there is no real difference between saintly you (*) and mean ol' me.

(*) Your "saintliness" generally amounts to imagining yourself to be more righteous than God.

Steve Lovell said...

CL,

Genuine question: Was your initial response to Ilion, "we just have the illusion [of reasoning]", something you really believe?

I'm hoping it was a tongue in cheek remark, but it's sometimes difficult to tell on the interweb.

Steve

DougJC said...

Crude,

"'The laws of physics' have no place for "seeking out", "programs" or even "relationships" between anything. That gets into issues of intentionality and aboutness. Introduce those at the physical level, and naturalism is left behind."

There is a sense in which "seeking out", "programs", "relationship" imply the existence of a mind and that would not be the sense I'm using them. But there is also a sense in which "seeking out", etc, implies motion, direction, following the nature of matter/energy/physical laws whatever those are. Like the way a dropped rock seeks the ground. That's solely how I would be using it here.

"By all means, then provide this system in a way which doesn't ultimately smuggle back in the mental, intentionality, etc."

I'm not aware that I've done that. I'm specifically not imbuing matter with mental properties.

DougJC said...

llion

"This fellow is denying the very substance of "logical relations and logical laws"

Not at all. The sense in which "logic laws" are the perception and grasping of language symbols in certain kinds of precisely defined relationships by a conscious mind I grant as well, but note that it also can follow step-by-step from physical law. With biological machinery that follows logical relationships (much like transistors follow AND/OR), the human mind is effectively built out of logical relationships (or more likely Bayesian but that's perhaps beside the point). Awareness/consciousness of this logical relationship and it's law-like nature is the bigger question, not the origin of logical relationships in the first place. But awareness/consciousness can still be modeled as two physical processes, one treating the other as an "agent" being "aware" of sensory perception, thoughts, emotions, etc. Combine these two into one biological organism and you have something that behaves as fully conscious (whether it is therefore necessarily fully conscious might be another issue).

Crude said...

Doug,

There is a sense in which "seeking out", "programs", "relationship" imply the existence of a mind and that would not be the sense I'm using them. But there is also a sense in which "seeking out", etc, implies motion, direction, following the nature of matter/energy/physical laws whatever those are.

In other words, you're saying 'seeking out', 'programs', 'relationship', but you don't mean any of those things. You just mean blind machinations of a system that has no direction, meaning, or purpose.

The only way your appeals even begin to sound plausible is when that ambiguity is in place thanks to those words. Remove the ambiguity, and remove any explanation - even the hint of one - along with it.

I'm not aware that I've done that. I'm specifically not imbuing matter with mental properties.

Actually, you're specifically imbuing matter with mental properties in your language - but when that's pointed out, you redefine 'program' and 'seeking out' and 'relationship' to mean 'not a program', 'not seeking out whatsoever' and 'no relationship at all'.

With biological machinery that follows logical relationships (much like transistors follow AND/OR),

Back to 'logical relationships, but by that I mean no logical relationships at all'.

Transistors don't 'follow' and/or. That's an interpretation we place on them, at best - remove our minds from the picture, and there's no and/or at work, nor is there any 'logical relationship'. There's not even a transistor, because there's nothing around to intrinsically delineate what part of the otherwise undifferentiated clump of matter is a 'transistor', which given process that takes place is the 'start', which is the 'end', what's relevant and what's not.

You have no logical relationships in such a system, or at least you don't have any by virtue of a purely mechanistic process itself. There's no logic and no relationship there. You can certainly derive a relationship using a mind - you can sketch a map in the dirt and say 'This is Texas, and over here is Louisiana'. But remove the mind, and you remove the map as well.

Ed,

Few read what you say, because you run at the mouth while communicating very little - and what you do communicate, you fumble. I hope that helps.

jdhuey said...

<¡>"...the obvious inescapable logical entailments of denying God prove that atheism is false."

Nobody on this blog has ever shown that there are any logical entailments resulting from God not existing. People here state that they have, but they are mistaken.
If God does not exist then the world is exactly like it is. We simply have no need for that hypothesis.

The AFR is flawed and certainly not obvious. Everything we know about how the mind works indicates that it is derived solely from our embodied selves - there are no ghosts in the machine.

Victor Reppert said...

The entailments would have to be from the fact that mental states are not fundamental to the universe. This doesn't entail theism directly, though it does rule out the philosophies of mind that most atheists hold. Nagel would be an exception.

Victor Reppert said...

In fact, one atheist on this site defended a Nagel-type atheist position, and two of his fellow atheists suspected him of being a Christian in disguise.

DougJC said...

Crude,

" You just mean blind machinations of a system that has no direction, meaning, or purpose."

Yes, no meaning or purpose since those are "mind" concepts, but there is direction to distinguish the actions of natural law from randomness.

" you redefine 'program' and 'seeking out' and 'relationship' to mean 'not a program', 'not seeking out whatsoever' and 'no relationship at all'."

Partly but not completely. If you describe DNA as "not a program" that leaves out the similarities it has to computer programs that are not necessarily mind-dependent: the idea of compression for one. You start with a DNA strand, add energy, and through a series of fairly deterministic transformations, get a biological organism. Those transformations are accomplished solely via the laws of physics and happen precisely because of the way DNA is structured. There's nothing about the arrangement that requires mental properties to function properly and it's highly unique in its use of energy and matter.

"Transistors don't 'follow' and/or. That's an interpretation we place on them, at best - remove our minds from the picture, and there's no and/or at work, nor is there any 'logical relationship'. There's not even a transistor, because there's nothing around to intrinsically delineate what part of the otherwise undifferentiated clump of matter is a 'transistor', which given process that takes place is the 'start', which is the 'end', what's relevant and what's not."

All strictly true, but there is still the phenomena of one clump of matter in law-like relation to another clump of matter. Without minds, the universe still functions according to apparent laws that give rise to certain configurations, patterns, and regularities of matter and energy. Some patterns are common, some less so.

If those patterns and regularities can give rise to self-aware organisms, the same regularities and patterns will become part of the conscious experience of those organisms and given names and symbols.

Or I can make that less controversial by supposing that patterns and regularities give rise to organisms that lack qualia but still possess physical systems that identify some mobile lumps of matter as "agents" and peculiar behavior of "agents" as "awareness". In this case, those organisms should still be able to give names and symbols to those regularities and patterns in nature much the way organisms possessing qualia do. In this way physical reality alone seems capable of giving rise to organisms that might act as if they are fully conscious and that might talk about logical beliefs.

David Brightly said...

...remove our minds from the picture, and ... There's not even a transistor, because there's nothing around to intrinsically delineate what part of the otherwise undifferentiated clump of matter is a 'transistor', ...

I can see reasons for thinking that the logical does not succumb to the physical but the argument here overreaches itself. By the same token, absent human minds, there are no spindly appendages on insects, and no process of movement within them, by which the insects get around. Nor any insects.

Ilíon said...

some liar:"Nobody on this blog has ever shown that there are any logical entailments resulting from God not existing. People here state that they have, but they are mistaken."

VR:"The entailments would have to be ..."

You're trying to reason with someone who will lie to your face? This fellow has been posting here for months: it is not ignorace that explains how he comes to say that no one on this blog has ever shown that there are any logical entailments of God's non-existence. And it clearly isn't stupidity that explains his saying it. The only option left is that he is speaking from a stance of dishonesty. And, due to the particular nature of the subject matter, his lying isn't *merely* lying, he's engaging in intellectual dishonesty (aka: intellectual hypocrisy).

VR:"The entailments would have to be from the fact that mental states are not fundamental to the universe. This doesn't entail theism directly, though it does rule out the philosophies of mind that most atheists hold. Nagel would be an exception."

Your first sentence is not false, but it it incomplete; and your second sentence, the conclusion based on it, is false.

There are no such things as "mental states" if there are no such things as minds. So, if atheism were the truth about the nature of reality, then it is not *simply* that it is a "fact that mental states are not fundamental to the universe", but rather that it is a fact that there is no *mind* who is "fundamental to the universe" (and, after all, that's just a restatement of Western-style materialistic atheism).

And, if it is a fact that there is no mind who is "fundamental to the universe", then it is also a fact, as it is a logical entailment of the previous (alleged) fact, that agent freedom is not "fundamental to the universe". That is, Western-style materialistic atheism directly entails absolute mechanical physicalist/materialistic determinism. (Any non-materialistic atheism also entails determinism; for the determinism isn't "in" the matter, it's in the denial that there is a mind who is fundamental to reality),

So, if atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then *every* event and state-change that may occur in reality is mechanically determined by prior events and states.

Now, if *every* event and state-change is mechanically determined by prior events and states, then there are no such things as agents; for the single most salient fact about an 'agent' is that he is not wholly determined: neither by the mechanical results of prior events and states, nor by "random" (i.e. "uncaused") events and states.

Or, to limit the scope of our investigation to "the universe", as you have done: if atheism is the truth about what is "fundamental to the universe", then *every* event and state-change of "the universe" is mechanically determined by prior physical events and states.

Again, if *every* event and state-change is mechanically determined by prior physical events and states, then there are no such things as agents, as in the above more general demonstration.

Ilíon said...

But, *we* are agents. We *all* know that we are agents: so, when that intellectual hypocrite with whom VR was attempting to reason, or any of the others, demands that someone "prove" that we are agents, claiming that this isn't a self-evident fact, then you know that you're dealing with someone who will assert that 0=1 if that suits his purpose: that is, not a mere liar, but a an intellectually dishonest person, an intellectual hypocrite.

Notwithstanding that, we can, as it turns out, prove that we are agents, using the method of proof by contradiction (which is the method I am presently using to prove that God is).

For, if we are not agents, then we are wholly deternimed by prior events and states. That's just a restatement of the definition of non-agency.

Now, if we are we are wholly deternimed by prior events and states, then we do not, and cannot, engage in acts reasoning. For, when engaging in an act of reasoning, the proper movement from 'A' to 'B' is not determined by any prior event or state (whether physical/material or not), but rather is demanded by the logical relationship obtaining between 'A' and 'B'. Gentle Reader will notice that I didn't say that the movement from 'A' to 'B' is determined by the logical relationship: this is because, as we are agents, as we are indeed free, we are free to refuse to make the movement demanded by logic-and-reason: that is, we are free to engage in intellectual dishonesty.

But, if we are not agents, that is, if we are wholly deternimed by prior events and states, then while the words, "If 'A' then 'B'; 'A', therefore, 'B'" might come out our mouths, there was on our part no decision to say it, and there was no prior act of reasoning behind our saying it. If one says it, he says it because prior events and states determined that the words come out his mouth. It could as well have been the words "If 'A' then 'B'; 'A', therefore, 'tomato'" that came out one's mouth.

But, the foregoing demonstrates an act of reasoning (and valid reasoning, at that, however much the intellectual hypocrites deny it). So, since we *can* reason, it is necessarily true that we are agents, that we are free, that we are not wholly determined by prior events and states.

So, as we have seen, one of the logical entailments of God-denial is affirmation of the assertion that we are not agents. And, as we have seen, another of the logical entailments of God-denial is affirmation of the assertion that we cannot engage in acts reasoning.

Another logical entailment of God-denial is that we cannot know any truths. The proof of this is as above, and I'm not going to walk the reader through it again. This is to say that we cannot know anything. And thus, we cannot speak the truth; nor can we lie, that is we cannot choose to speak what we know, or reasonably ought to know, to be untrue. Certainly, words may come out of our mouths that an agent, if one existed, may recognize are being true or false. But, if God-denial is the truth about the nature of reality, then there are no agents, and *we* cannot recognize the words coming out our mouths as being true or false, nor as having any meaning whatsoever.

Ilíon said...

The ultimate logical entailment of God-denial is that we ourselves don't even exist. I've walked through the reasoning behind that statement before; and I'm not going to do it again here (moveover, Gentle Reader is intelligent enough to see that it follows from the above).

When a so-called atheist says something like, and tries to convince you to believe that, "The self is an illusion", while his statement is internally incoherent (and is, indeed, self-refuting), he *is* generally trying his best to express this ultimate logical entailment of God-denial. That is, if there is no God, then there is no you!.

But, the proposition that you are not is false, and you *know* that it is false. Therefore, as the proposition that you are not is logically entailed by the proposition that God is not, it logically follows that the falsehood of the entailment proves the falsehood of initial premise: that is, the proposition that God is not is false, and you *know* that it is false. And, if the proposition that God is not is false, then the contrary proposition, that God is, is true; and you *know* that it is true.

Therefor: no man has any excuse for continuing to deny the reality of God. All men who continue to refuse to affirm the reality of God -- both 'atheists' and 'agnostics' -- are doing so because they *choose* to be intellectually dishonest on this matter. And, since this is the most fundamental question about the nature of reality, and of ourselves, it follows that no one should ever trust that any of them are telling the truth about anything. Certainly, they *may* tell the truth about some matter that doesn't immediately seem related to the ultimate question, but it is irrational of you to trust that they are doing so, for you *know* that they willingly lie about this question behind all other questions.


that liar, again:"If God does not exist then the world is exactly like it is. We simply have no need for that hypothesis."

If God is not, then there are no such things as hypotheses.

If God is not, then it is no lie (*) if I assert that JDHuey kidnaps and then rapes and murders babies, and then eats the corpses to hide the evidence. If God is not, then were I to assert this thing, that is simply "the world [being] exactly like it is".

(*) In this context, even actually making such a statement is not a lie at all, even had I not made it clear that I'm not making any such statement, for it would have been made to demonstrate the point of what is entailed by the lying fool's assertion that God is not.

jdhuey said...

"The entailments would have to be from the fact that mental states are not fundamental to the universe. ...it does rule out the philosophies of mind that most atheists hold."

This is the rub. I do not remember that anyone on this blog has really demonstrated that a mental process as envisioned by an atheist philosophy of mind has been ruled out. It has been asserted many times but never demostrated.

The arguments put forward by Searle are hardly convincing. In fact, when I read books that cover research in consciousnes by people like Stanislas Dehaene or Antonio Damasio, it becomes evident that a lot of the objections by Searle are based on faulty conceptions of how the brain works.

Even you seem to have a faulty concept of a 'brain state'. It seems to me that you use that term as if the brain were a static system that transitions from one state to another. But the brain is a continuously dynamic system with massively interacting networks. You can say that the brain is in a state of paying attention or is asleep or is aroused or is calm but those states are processes not configurations.

Victor Reppert said...

Perhaps I can put this as follows. Suppose I say that I can build a cat out of legos. I mean a real cat, not something that looks like a cat. And, I have lots of legos, and can put those legos into many interesting configurations. Perhaps they even function dynamically, as opposed to statically. It seems to me that no matter how complex these lego-formations are, it won't produce a cat, simply because there is a fundamental difference in kind between legos and cats.

It seems to me that no matter how much detail you use to specify the state of the brain, so long as you don't fudge categories, no mental state is entailed by all the physical state-descriptions. The physical always leaves the mental underdetermined. Now we can project the mental into the physical, but then we are going to need a mind to do the projecting, and so we aren't really going from the physical to the mental in the required way.

jdhuey said...

llion,

Or it could be the case that I and the others are simply correct and you are wrong (and perhaps delusional).

jdhuey said...

The problem is not that Legos are not like cats but that Legos are not like atoms. A cat is not the same kind of thing as an atom but it is composed of atoms.

If you have something that can serve the same function as an atom and you configure them into the same visual and functional configuration that we call a 'cat'. And the results looks like a cat and acts in all ways like a cat, then in what way is it not a cat?

Ilíon said...

(you know what he is): "Or it could be the case that I and the others are simply correct and you are wrong (and perhaps delusional)."

And it could be the case that the moon is made of green cheese.

There is no such thing as "delusion" if atheism is the truth about the nature of reality.

And I call Gentle Reader to obverve that this fool will *never* even attempt to show that I am wrong. Certainly, he will assert that I am wrong. And he will assert that I haven't successfully made the case, imagining that he can trick me into playing "Prove it again, Sam". But, he will *never* even attempt to how or where I have made the fatal error he alleges.

It's logically impossible to reason with these people

cl said...

Steve Lovell,

Was your initial response to Ilion, "we just have the illusion [of reasoning]", something you really believe?

No. It was an hypothetical response to Ilion's "argument" that doesn't entail "dishonest liar," but some people have problems seeing gray. By "some people" there I mean Ilion, who asserts adamantly that he has no problem with false dichotomies while heaping them up. He also pretends to be charitable while coming up with crap like this:

All men who continue to refuse to affirm the reality of God -- both 'atheists' and 'agnostics' -- are doing so because they *choose* to be intellectually dishonest on this matter.

No wonder atheists and agnostics like to mock Christians for impenetrable ignorance!

What interests me is, why were you hoping it was a tongue-in-cheek remark?

jdhuey said...

llion,

Ok. You don't want to make your case again. Fine. How about you just point to where you think you have made your case. You write very well and alot but you don't say anything of substance, so it would be easy to miss the spot where you actually said something interesting. Just give a reference.

cl said...

jdhuey writes,

If you have something that can serve the same function as an atom and you configure them into the same visual and functional configuration that we call a 'cat'. And the results looks like a cat and acts in all ways like a cat, then in what way is it not a cat?

Replace "cat" with "human" and the answer is: the lack of internal dialog that is the keynote of reasoning. That's how your configuration would differ from a human.

Now, the interesting thing is, neither one of us can prove anything here. All you have to do is say, "Oh no cl, my configuration *HAS* the same process of internal reasoning that we do. I, of course, would call you out as a loon. But per the well-known problem of other minds we're at an impasse.

jdhuey said...

cl,

Ok. If we replace an ersatz human for the ersatz cat and in all respects this person looks, behaves and talks just like a real human then why would you think that 'it' has no internal dialog? Why would I be a loon for thinking that a thoughtful and articulate human had a mind?

cl said...

Ok. If we replace an ersatz human for the ersatz cat and in all respects this person looks, behaves and talks just like a real human then why would you think that 'it' has no internal dialog?

Computers don't feel happiness or pain, but the burden would be on you to prove that "it" *DID* have the internal dialog in question (namely, qualia).

Ilíon said...

This post is really about recent comments by C.L.Hufnstuf, but I'm going to start with a further fisking of E.T.Babinski, as understanding something he wrote will help the reader understand Hufnstuf.

E.T.Babibski: "...I wonder about a lot of things that apparently you and Vic have all sewn up firmly in your bag of certainties. ..."

Babinski is claiming by implication and insunuation that *he* isn't making any truth-claims, and that *he* isn't "presuming" (the reason for the scare-qoutes will become obvious) to say that he's certain that he knows anything to be true ... and that, therefore (by an act of Magick), the truth-claims he makes while pretending not to make any are superior -- "more true", as it were, as irrational as that is -- to any contrary truth-claims that Victor Reppert or I might make, and moreso as we claim certainty of any truth-claim.

Did you follow that? His anti-argument runs thusly:
* Ilíon (and Reppert) claim that 'A' it true;
* Ilíon (and Reppert) claim to be certain that 'A' is true by the arct of reasoning 'X';
* Therefore, Ilíon (and Reppert) are "arrogant";
* Therefore, whatever argument Ilíon (and Reppert) may have prevented to establish the truth of 'A' may be hand-waved away;
* Therefore, 'not-A' -- which is what I want to believe, anyway -- is "more true" than 'A';

This isn't rational or logical, of course: it's the very epitome of anti-rational and anti-logical. But such post-modernist bullshit is what most of you have been marinated in since at least grade-school. For at least the past fifty years, the whole point of public "education" has been to teach people to be unable to think critically.

Most of you don't even notice it anymore; which is, after all, the whole point -- if someone like Babibski can mock Reppert (or me) for being certain that our reasoning is correct and that therefore the conclusions we state are true, then most of you will automatically and anti-rationally "conclude" that Babibski has demonstrated via rational-and-logical argument that what Reppert (or I) have said is false, or at best undecided.

But, of course, no such thing was done. There was not even any attempt to present a counter-argument. All Babinski did was to sneer, and most of you, like Pavlov's dogs, reacted as you have been trained to do.

Ilíon said...

So, with that understanding under our belts, let's look at the most recent gem from C.L.Hufnstuf --

Steve Lovell: -- "Was your initial response to Ilion, "we just have the illusion [of reasoning]", something you really believe? [or was it tongue-in-cheek]"

C.L.Hufnstuf: -- "No. It was an hypothetical response to Ilion's "argument" that doesn't entail "dishonest liar," but some people have problems seeing gray. By "some people" there I mean Ilion, who asserts adamantly that he has no problem with false dichotomies while heaping them up. He also pretends to be charitable while coming up with crap like this:

"
All men who continue to refuse to affirm the reality of God -- both 'atheists' and 'agnostics' -- are doing so because they *choose* to be intellectually dishonest on this matter."

No wonder atheists and agnostics like to mock Christians for impenetrable ignorance!
"

Can you see what he has done? Hufnstuf has never even attempted to show that *anything* I have ever said is not supported by logical argument. He has never even attempted to present a counter-argument to show that I have erred in some way.

No, just as Babinski did (and for that matter, nearly everyone who sets himself up to dispute anything I have said), he just waves his little hands and by Magick my arguments become "arguments".

You know, when I simply dismiss something as a pseudo-argument, I do so on the basis of already having shown it so, at least once.

Heaven forbid that I should say, "'A' is true, it cannot be false: here is why"

Why, that would be "arrogant" certainty! Tha might anger the people who hate God; that might attract their scorn; they might not pass out patronizing pats on the head to the likes of C.L.Hufnstuf.

cl said...

Hufnstuf has never even attempted to show that *anything* I have ever said is not supported by logical argument. He has never even attempted to present a counter-argument to show that I have erred in some way.

That's correct, I haven't attempted to show that *anything* you have ever said is not supported by logical argument. The Gentle Reader usually has no problem seeing Ilion's illogic on their own, but that's not why I won't spill more than 60 seconds worth of ink on you: it's logically impossible to reason with people like you. People so impressed by their own tin-can vocabulary and ideas like a cup overflowing with tea. People so angry, condescending and arrogant that being *right* and being a *jerk* is all that ever matters. I learned the fruitlessness of discussing anything with people like you long ago.

So please, go troll somebody else, and get over yourself.

cl said...

jdhuey / Steve Lovell

If either of you want to pursue our comments, find me at my blog.

For The Record,

I quit commenting here a long time ago, basically entirely because of im-skeptical and Paps, but I think we all need to be honest here: Ilion is just as bad as both of them. It's not productive when somebody with such a high need for emotional gratification and attention dominates every thread, insulting everybody not unlike Loftus (except maybe a *tad* more cogent at times), and muddies up the waters with stupid jokes and trite retorts.

The intellectual environment definitely got better here when you lost those two jokers, and I suspect it would do the same if you lost Ilion, especially from the atheist's perspective.

Take care DI, there are many better things to do in life than respond to trolls and know-it-alls. Spend your time wisely! Don't waste it on wise-asses!!

DougJC said...

Victor,

"It seems to me that no matter how much detail you use to specify the state of the brain, so long as you don't fudge categories, no mental state is entailed by all the physical state-descriptions."

Specifying the state of the brain can only be done in terms of mental states of an observer--that is, a 1000-word essay of brain state description is nothing without an observer to appreciate it and ground each word in true experential meaning. All explanations presuppose mental states and can not avoid that presupposition. So the only physical state description you need for mental states is whatever description will trigger the same mental state in the observer and you've nailed it.

Victor Reppert said...

But that seems to entail some form of idealism. If an observer is required to account for mental states, then the chain of explanation terminates in the mental, not the nonmental.

Victor Reppert said...

I hope people can keep discussion productive by knowing what to ignore. But as I have shown recently, my patience does have its limits.

in6days said...

Getting back to the cat. I buried my cat " fluffy" on Saturday . Saw him lying at the edge of the garden on a bed of straw while I was cutting the grass . It was fluffy alright . All the atoms were there . Yet he was dead. Lifeless. What is life ? Spirit small "s"? Or is it reducible to neurons failing or molecules no longer " fizzing" ? I'm expected to believe that it's all reducible to atoms. Ofcouse these atoms somehow came into being uncaused and over millions of years produced cats and consciousness of some sort but it's all a product of the physical . Such thinking believes intricate sand castles can be made from wind and erosion on some sea shore . Self existent eternal matter without a purpose produces the illusion of thought ,while obeying laws of logic and the laws of physics which are just the way things are. Right .

Ilíon said...

VR:But that seems to entail some form of idealism. If an observer is required to account for mental states, then the chain of explanation terminates in the mental, not the nonmental.

That was clear from the start … and the materialist (whether ‘the’ is taken as individually or collectively) will not acknowledge that it falsifies his materialism.

Look again at DJC’s most recent post to which you are responding –

DJC:Specifying the state of the brain can only be done in terms of mental states of an observer--that is, a 1000-word essay of brain state description is nothing without an observer to appreciate it and ground each word in true experential meaning. All explanations presuppose mental states and can not avoid that presupposition. So the only physical state description you need for mental states is whatever description will trigger the same mental state in the observer and you've nailed it.

He’s asserting both ‘A’ and ‘not-A’, simultaneously. And he’s asserting that the assertion of both simultaneously is the proof that there is no difference between them.

Ilíon said...

VR: "I hope people can keep discussion productive by knowing what to ignore. But as I have shown recently, my patience does have its limits."

As you surely know, there is just no pleasing some people. Someone had decided a couple of weeks ago that he needed to engage in some sort of brawl with me. As you surely noticed, my refusal to brawl, and my attempt to explain that I had not insulted him in the first place became just another "insult" justifying starting a brawl.

It's kind of funny, when you think about it. Surely, any long-time reader of your blog recognizes that my contribution to a brawl is going to include a lot of joking about it.

Steve Lovell said...

CL,

If you're still here, the reason I was hoping your response was tongue-in-cheek is that is appears to be self-stultifying. If we only have the illusion of reasoning, we cannot rightly be said to reason to that conclusion ... we'd only have the illusion of reasoning to it.

The very fact that we're here trying to have a reasoned discussion seems to suggest we're already assuming the "illusion" position is false (or at least doesn't apply to all of us all the time).

BYW, I've had a few run-ins with Ilion over the years. While we probably agree about lots of stuff, our approaches to discussion are very different. I find myself wondering what happened to the "gentleness and respect" enjoined in 1 Peter 3 v 15:

"Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience ..."

I've probably just poked the tiger or (i)lion. Let's see what happens next.

planks length said...

"Not until then did [Frost's] controllers allow him to suspect that death itself might not after all cure the illusion of being a soul - nay, might prove the entry into a world where that illusion raged infinite and unchecked. Escape for the soul, if not for the body, was offered him. He became able to know (and simultaneously refused the knowledge) that he had been wrong from the beginning, that souls and personal responsibility existed. He half saw: he wholly hated. The physical torture of the burning was not fiercer than his hatred of that. With one supreme effort he flung himself back into his illusion. In that attitude eternity overtook him as sunrise in old tales overtakes and turns them into unchangeable stone."
(C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, pp. 355-6)

Ilíon said...

Steve Lovell: "BYW, I've had a few run-ins with Ilion over the years."

Any "run-in" you've had with me is because you have insisted on it, as Hufnstuf has been doing of late.

Steve Lovell: "While we probably agree about lots of stuff, our approaches to discussion are very different."

And, it seems that *your* "approach to discussion" -- you know, allowing intellectual dishonesty to pass unremarked, except, of course, for when "he made me angry", and then all the stops come out -- is the only way to go about it.

Steve Lovell: "I find myself wondering what happened to the "gentleness and respect" enjoined in 1 Peter 3 v 15:"

Is it really any of your business? It seems to me that it's between Christ and me, not you.

I've explained, and more than once, where you people are wrong in this; and you just don't care: you (singular and plural) are more with concerned with polishing your "respectablity" with those who hate he whom you claim is your Lord than you are with helping the ones being led astray to see that they are being led astray.

Dan Gillson said...

Dr Reppert,

"But that seems to entail some form of idealism. If an observer is required to account for mental states, then the chain of explanation terminates in the mental, not the nonmental."... I don't see why idealism should be an issue. It wouldn't make our concepts and experiences unhinged from reality. (For more on this, cf. Mind and World by John McDowell.)

DougJC said...

Victor,

"But that seems to entail some form of idealism. If an observer is required to account for mental states, then the chain of explanation terminates in the mental, not the nonmental."

The Churchland's Neural Worlds and Real Worlds is a right response here I think. Neither strict idealism nor naive realism works. Instead, "the learning brain very slowly constructs a representation of the landscape or configuration of the abstract universals, the temporal invariants and the enduring symmetries that structure the objective universe of its experience" (line from Paul Churchland's "Plato's Camera: How the Physical Brain Captures a Landscape of Abstract Universals"). In this way, everything we know is grounded in mental state representations which are blindly constructed (i.e. via natural selection) neural maps of an objective universe. However, the unique nature of these neural maps is that they can be improved by trial and error. We see the same phenomena in artificial neural networks: improvement in correspondence between internal and external with trial and error.

William said...

"mental state representations which are blindly constructed"

Blindly? No. Not for those who have eyes.

"(i.e. via natural selection)"

AH, telological Dawinism. Nice hybrid.

SRV said...

Paul Churchland is an eliminative materialist, though he doesn't really believe that, because beliefs, according to his insanity, don't really exist. So let us just eliminate bringing up Churchland and others of his ilk, because they don't really "believe" in their own existence, and therefore have NOTHING (literally) to say.

David Brightly said...

I'm no expert on eliminative materialism but surely one can believe that Caesar crossed the Rubicon without there being an object that corresponds to that Caesar crossed the Rubicon? Analogy: The sea waves (verb) but there are no wave (noun) objects. And we can talk about waves (noun)---the waves are a metre high, say---and there are still no wave objects.

SRV said...


but surely one can believe

No, not on eliminative materialism (since there is no such thing as believing) so I believe you when you say you're no expert. To use your wave analogy, according to the Churchlands, there are no waves, not in any sense of the word "wave" (verb, noun or otherwise understood). Succinctly, what you fail to understand is the true lunacy of their position.

David Brightly said...

I haven't read the Churchlands so you may be right. My contact with eliminativism is largely through Alex Rosenberg's paper Eliminativism without Tears. At the bottom of page 18 he says,

It is not hard to see how a structural resemblance theory can come to the aid of the eliminativist in the project of blunting the charge of incoherence. Start with the simple case of how information about the frequency of a tactile stimulation in the finger gets stored in the neural circuitry and eventually results in a sentential vocalization by a human subject: “the frequency of stimulation has increased.” The eliminativist and the neuroscientist take this vocalization and its apparent propositional content seriously as a reliable effect of the information stored, without however treating its apparent semantic or syntactic structure as indicative of the way in which the information is stored in the relevant neural circuitry.

So if possessing information amounts to believing here we have a believing without a propositional object of belief. Lunacy?

DougJC said...

SRV,

"Paul Churchland is an eliminative materialist, though he doesn't really believe that, because beliefs, according to his insanity, don't really exist."

No, that's a common distortion of the position. What doesn't exist is belief solely as a "propositional attitude" or "declarative sentence". The basic unit of knowledge is not a belief in this sense nor can it be. Rather, Churchland shows that knowledge is richly representational and grounded in in high-dimensional maps implemented in neuron activation space. Knowledge is what neurons do.

This view seems widespread now in neuro and cognitive science (look up symbol grounding problem and embodied cognition).

So I can talk about beliefs quite meaningfully as long as I clarify that when I state a declarative sentence as a belief, it is just the tip of the iceberg of an extensive representational space in neural networks which have laboriously extracted useful feature spaces from the enormous quantity of raw sensory experience processed by my brain over my lifetime.

Far from lunacy, Churchland's view seems extremely reasonable.

DougJC said...

William,

"AH, telological Dawinism. Nice hybrid."

Well, just from observation, the universe's central purpose or teleology seems to be to become more stable in form and pattern over time. The second law of thermodynamics suggests that. The form of galaxies, stars and planets are more stable than floating cosmic dust given gravity. Lifeform patterns turn out to be more stable (once occurring) than the flux of non-life matter and energy. Lifeforms with neurons capable of mapping environments seem to be more stable and persisting (on average) than lifeform patterns without learning. Intelligent social organisms are more stable as persistent patterns (on average) than less intelligent non-social organisms. And so on. Perhaps the most stable form of all will be achieved eventually when all of matter/energy is harnessed for computing (which might be one possible future).

Steve Lovell said...

Ilion,

If you can find any examples on here of me being made angry and "all the stops coming out" (in your euphemistic phrase), please point me to them. If you can, I'll be happy to apologise for my behaviour.

There is plenty of intellectual dishonesty in online discussions, and where I think I see it you may be right in saying that I duck the issue. But if I see it, the chances are that other people see it too and that pointing it out is superfluous.

On other occasions I simply give my interlocutors the benefit of the doubt. I don't find intellectual dishonesty as easy to spot as you seem to. Perhaps my "problem" is that I share many concerns that are typical of atheists. For me atheism doesn't ultimately add up, but I can see the intellectual attractiveness of the position in several areas. To my mind, doubts and uncertainty in my faith are not to be discouraged. Rather they are a spur to further study. Hiding them or pretending they aren't there is, in the end, more harmful to one's faith.

On that, I think "Doubting Thomas" gets a bad rap in church today. He wasn't the only one who didn't believe until he'd seen. No-one else did either, he was merely the last to see.

As for your response on "Gentleness and Respect", it is of course between you and Christ. But not only between you and Christ. Peter wrote those words to other people. He thought they were worth insisting on. So do I.