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Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 11 2010,17:03   

Utunumsint's thread rekindled some thoughts over differing views of reality.

The Born-Einstein letters include Einstein saying…
“Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘old one’. I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not playing at dice.”

This has been paraphrased as a simple declaration “God does not play dice.”

I have notice most of the “dueling metaphysics” revolves around the placeholder for unknown causes.  Can randomness be a cause?

To be clear, by “randomness” I mean a result with no deterministic cause.  The individual digits of PI are not random.  A pseudo random-number generator is not random.

What about the results of a die roll?

Under pure Newtonian physics, it would not be random.  The actions and reactions might be too complex to be easily measured but if they could be, the result would be predictable (i.e. deterministic).  However, we now know reality includes Quantum Physics with its built-in uncertainty principle.

The causes behind quantum effects may forever be unknown. Does that mean we should presume these causes are random?

Should we presume they have a purpose?

This probably depends on one's definition of "purpose".

Is life and consciousness a necessary precondition for purpose?

If so, it would lead to a metaphysical presumption that somehow life is more than just a collection of material and chemicals.

If not, purpose could possibly be ascribed to the universe itself.

As for the cause of the universe, my metaphysical presumption is to believe in an endless series of cycles.

Think of a plot of tan(x) where “x” is the equivalent to a concept of time (call it cosmic duration) which is outside of space-time.  The Y-axis relates to entropy and perceived time.

Think of us as being around x=0.  If we extrapolate back, we consider the universe as starting pi/2 cosmic duration ago and having increasing entropy ever since.  For pi/2 into the future see increasing entropy until everything has collapses into Black Holes which completely evaporate via Hawking Radiation.

At pi/2 the whole thing starts over again.

What “purpose” could we presume with such a universe?

Well existance is an obvious possibility.

Another purpose could be to cause the next universe to exist.

I included the words “a discussion” in the title of this thread to indicate that I am not planning on engaging in a debate.  I am honestly interested in hearing what other people’s thoughts are on these subjects.  I suspect just about everyone has a placeholder, a presumption, to make sense of things until more and better information comes along.

In the past, I would have posted these ramblings on Telic Thoughts.  However, they have become too similar to Uncommon Descent for my tastes.

I appreciate being permitted to post here, and I will try not to abuse the privilege too much.

Thanks,
Thought Provoker

  
fnxtr



Posts: 2603
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 11 2010,17:33   

I've just got to the point in "The Road to Reality" where Penrose is talking about complex number polar co-ordinates.  Maybe it isn't a sine wave, TP, maybe it's a helix.

Purpose?  Maybe the whole universe is a spandrel.  There's that biblical admonition about thinking we're the potter when really we're the clay. Maybe we're neither, we (and everything else, all the fields of force that manifest as matter, apparently) are just the noise of the potter's wheel.

--------------
"But it's disturbing to think someone actually thinks creationism -- having put it's hand on the hot stove every day for the last 400 years -- will get a different result tomorrow." -- midwifetoad

"I am in a rush to catch up with science work." -- Gary Gaulin

  
qetzal



Posts: 311
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 11 2010,17:45   

TP,

I don't claim any particular insight into metaphysics. Definitely not my area of expertise. But for the sake of discussion, my thoughts are these.

If we define "purpose" as something like "a function or outcome anticipated by some intentional agent," then I see no reason to believe that the universe has a purpose. However, I also think possible that the universe could have a purpose without any of us being able to discern as much.

Is life and consciousness required for purpose? I think that depends. Again, if we're going to define "purpose" as above (which I think is the intuitively obvious definition), then there has to be some intentional agent involved. Even then, however, I see no obvious requirement that a universe with purpose must contain life and consciousness. The intentional agent that defines the universe's purpose could be outside the universe itself. In that case, the universe would only need to contain life and consciousness if that's what the outside intentional agent demanded. Obviously, we would (probably) have no way to know about any of that.

Even if we somehow concluded that life and consciousness are required for whatever purpose the universe is supposed to have, I don't see how that supports a metaphysical presumption that life is more than just a collection of materials. Maybe the purpose of the universe is to entertain the outside intentional agent, and he is only entertained if the universe contains life and consciousness. In that case, why would life need to be more than matter?

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,12:00   

Thank you for replying to my post.

Quote (fnxtr @ Feb. 11 2010,17:33)
I've just got to the point in "The Road to Reality" where Penrose is talking about complex number polar co-ordinates.  Maybe it isn't a sine wave, TP, maybe it's a helix.

I'm glad to hear you are still making your way through the book.  Trust me, Penrose has only begun bending, folding and otherwise warping reality.  Minkowskian geometry is tame compared to Twistor Space.

Quote (fnxtr @ Feb. 11 2010,17:33)
Purpose?  Maybe the whole universe is a spandrel.

Then I ask why isn't everything considered a "spandrel" including your decision to comment?

I suggest there is no such thing as true randomness.

A counter argument is there may be no such thing as true purpose.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,14:08   

TP:
   
Quote
I suggest there is no such thing as true randomness.

A counter argument is there may be no such thing as true purpose.


I think I see the connection you're making, but will disagree (because I'm so disagreeable! §;o) I get the feeling that Penrose really does believe there's such a thing as 'noncomputability' when dealing with consciousness. Which is sort of like uncertainty in non-conscious events. Noncomputable doesn't mean random OR deterministic.

IOW, me being an unpredictable factor in a stochastic economic theory does NOT mean my decision to buy Apple instead of Verizon today was in any way random. Or in any way deterministic just because it's not random. It would simply be my decision - my conscious choice. Made by me for any number of perfectly rational reasons that belong only to me and not to everybody else buying stock on the market today.
Something a market-watcher could not predict for me as a 'particle' in the 'system' being examined ahead of time based on any history of Apple or Verizon stock up to the moment my choice is registered. Hell, I might as easily decide not buy any stock at all today, and sell GE tomorrow! §;o)

...does that make sense?

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,15:41   

Thank you for replying to my post.

Quote (qetzal @ Feb. 11 2010,17:45)
Even if we somehow concluded that life and consciousness are required for whatever purpose the universe is supposed to have, I don't see how that supports a metaphysical presumption that life is more than just a collection of materials. Maybe the purpose of the universe is to entertain the outside intentional agent, and he is only entertained if the universe contains life and consciousness. In that case, why would life need to be more than matter?

What I was attempting to point out is the repercussions of concluding life and consciousness is required for any claim of purpose, period.
I suggest humans are inherently prejudiced to think of themselves as being something special.

“I think, therefore I am” has arrogant connotations.

It is a presumption of self existence with an implied sense of consciousness.  This generally leads to a biased view of what is capable of intent and, therefore, purpose.

In many games (e.g. World of Warcraft) there are AI objects programmed with the “intent” of killing player characters.  A similar example is a Windmill with the “intent” of pumping water.  Do these things only qualify as having purpose because a special clump of matter imbued the non-living thing with this special characteristic?

This comes close to the “specified complexity” meme forwarded by the ID Movement.  Do you really want to go there?

I suggest it could be argued viruses demonstrate intent and purpose even though most people presume they lack consciousness and may not qualify as life.

I will end this comment here with a reminder this thread is mostly about presumptions with a sprinkling of semantics.  What do we presume is meant by “purpose”?

I will get into more substance with my reply to Joy’s comment.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,16:02   

Hi Joy,

 
Quote (Joy @ Feb. 12 2010,14:08)
I think I see the connection you're making, but will disagree (because I'm so disagreeable! §;o) I get the feeling that Penrose really does believe there's such a thing as 'noncomputability' when dealing with consciousness. Which is sort of like uncertainty in non-conscious events. Noncomputable doesn't mean random OR deterministic.

<snip>

...does that make sense?

Yes, but you cheated because of our many conversations in the past.

I agree that Penrose is claiming consciousness is simultaneously non-deterministic and non-random.

Penrose/Hameroff is suggesting the most logical (and maybe only) source of something that is both non-deterministic and non-random is Quantum Mechanics.  Ergo, it is extremely likely that consciousness is a macro expression of quantum effects.

If the term “purpose” is defined as basically a non-random, non-deterministic effect, then quantum effects may have purpose by definition.

This thread with probably end up discussing free will.  If it is an illusion, I don’t see how a person can have any intent fundamentally different than rivers intending to flow to the sea.

This comes down to metaphysical presumptions and their logical repercussions.

  
Albatrossity2



Posts: 2780
Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,16:10   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 12 2010,16:02)
This comes down to metaphysical presumptions and their logical repercussions.

The most common of those repercussions would be



Enjoy your presumptions.

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Doc Bill



Posts: 1039
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,16:43   

Quote
This comes down to metaphysical presumptions and their logical repercussions.


Let me shorten this for you:

Quote
This comes down to bullshit.


You're welcome.  Call me when the keg's tapped.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,17:11   

Hi Albatrossity2,

Thank you for your input and the picture.

I agree animals are funnier when they do it and I suspected some people would find the conversation uninteresting.

However, it appears you were interested enough to attempt to disuade others from joining in the conversation.

So, did you act with purposeful intent?

Or was the feeling of making a choice, simply an illusion?

What is your presumption?

  
qetzal



Posts: 311
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,17:30   

TP, you originally wrote:

Quote
Is life and consciousness a necessary precondition for purpose?

If so, it would lead to a metaphysical presumption that somehow life is more than just a collection of material and chemicals.


As written, it sounds to me like you are actually claiming that the first statement logically implies the second. If so, I disagree. However, if your point is only that many people arrogantly assume that life is more than material, then I agree.

Quote
In many games (e.g. World of Warcraft) there are AI objects programmed with the “intent” of killing player characters.  A similar example is a Windmill with the “intent” of pumping water.  Do these things only quality as having purpose because a special clump of matter imbued the non-living thing with this special characteristic?


Like you said, it depends on how one defines purpose. If purpose is defined as something that only conscious living organisms can have, then people can have it and windmills can't.

FWIW, I doubt that "purpose" really exists in the sense that most people seem to mean it. That is, people may (or may not*) have intent, but I doubt that people (or anything else) have a purpose in the sense of some duty or goal or expectation that has been established for them by some outside intentional agency (e.g. God).

+++++
*You've noted the issues of randomness, determinancy, & free will, but that's much further down the rabbit hole than I care to fall today.

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,17:31   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 12 2010,16:41)
It is a presumption of self existence with an implied sense of consciousness.  This generally leads to a biased view of what is capable of intent and, therefore, purpose.

In many games (e.g. World of Warcraft) there are AI objects programmed with the “intent” of killing player characters.  A similar example is a Windmill with the “intent” of pumping water.  Do these things only qualify as having purpose because a special clump of matter imbued the non-living thing with this special characteristic?

Much fog can be lifted, IMHO, by recognizing that what human beings do is "purposing" and "intending," rather than "having purpose" and "having intentions." People engage in purposing. Windmills and AI characters clearly do not.

Further, I would argue that a sine qua non of purposing is the abilty to represent. Purposing entails (I would say by definition) creating and manipulating representations of desired outcomes. Windmills do not represent. Nor do AI characters. To the extent that they "have a purpose," that reflects their origins in the activity of an agent capable of this particular form of representation.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Albatrossity2



Posts: 2780
Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,17:33   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 12 2010,17:11)
However, it appears you were interested enough to attempt to disuade others from joining in the conversation.

I'm not trying to dissuade anyone; I defy you to find any words to that effect in my brief comment.

On the contrary, as I tell the denizens at Mike/Julie's DM blog when I sporadically check in there, I keep hoping that they will actually come up with something interesting. But as Tom Ames noted, there is not hope of generating a scientific hypothesis if all you have is suspicions and feelings and doubts.

ID is fascinating in that it seems to take a tremendous amount of time and energy to discuss, but never amounts to anything.

I can't take credit for this, but I don't remember who said it first: ID is to science as masturbation is to intercourse.

Seems pretty accurate to me.

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,18:08   

Quote (Albatrossity2 @ Feb. 12 2010,22:33)
[SNIP]

I can't take credit for this, but I don't remember who said it first: ID is to science as masturbation is to intercourse.

Seems pretty accurate to me.

And I will always disagree. Masturbation is enjoyable, a productive use of one's time, can unencumber the mind for future activity and has utility.*

IDC....not so much.

Louis

* Plus you don't need to dress up to masturbate.** IDC is allllllll about the dressing up of turds in tuxedos to pretend they are respectable turds. I saw an IDCist doing a jigsaw the other day. They had all the pieces out and couldn't make them fit to make the picture on the box, which was a tiger. I took pity on them and helped them put the Frosties back in the packet. This is either a terrible joke, or a perspecacious insight. Or both.

** Although it is nice to treat yourself...erm...so I've heard. It was J-Dog what told me, and the other Dog, that Frenchman. I have my suspicions about them. They may support the wrong rugby teams.

--------------
Bye.

  
Doc Bill



Posts: 1039
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,18:31   

Don't forget the monkeys, Louis!  Lovely hairy things they are. I could ...
never mind.

Let's get down to bullshit, shall we?

First, I recommend highly the book by HG Frankfurt, "On Bullshit" in which he addresses this very point.

Second, why are you here TP?  I mean on the planet, not this thread. Easy.  You're here because every organism in your direct line of ancestry survived.  All of them.  Including the lemur-thing that managed not to starve or get eaten before he reproduced.  Including all the pikaia's that didn't freeze, get squashed, eaten or starve before they reproduced.  Including all the people over the last couple of million years who didn't die before they could start a family.  That's why you are here.

You want purpose?  I'll give you purpose.  Your purpose is to help perpetuate our species.  Your purpose is to raise and teach and be kind to children.  Your purpose is to do no harm and to be a good steward of the land.  Your purpose is to leave the world a little better than you were given it.  Your purpose it to live an honorable, charitable life.

How are you doing so far, TP?

Now, I'm the first to admit that all the purpose stuff is bullshit, but it's my bullshit and I like it.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,19:47   

Hi qetzal,

To my statement...

"If so, it would lead to a metaphysical presumption that somehow life is more than just a collection of material and chemicals."

You responded with...
 
Quote
As written, it sounds to me like you are actually claiming that the first statement logically implies the second. If so, I disagree. However, if your point is only that many people arrogantly assume that life is more than material, then I agree.


Assumptions are logical givens.  I treat presumptions as a placeholder until something better comes along.

It was my intent to suggest the first statement (purpose requires living consciousness) would lead to a presumption living consciousness is something special.

It would be a logical default position, IMO.

 
Quote
FWIW, I doubt that "purpose" really exists in the sense that most people seem to mean it. That is, people may (or may not*) have intent, but I doubt that people (or anything else) have a purpose in the sense of some duty or goal or expectation that has been established for them by some outside intentional agency (e.g. God).


Personally, I am too egocentric and internally motivated to presume anybody or anything can give me purpose.

"I think, therefore I am".

God may exist.  He/she/it could be a supernatural kid with a chemistry set that created me, but that doesn't mean I will submit and worship the creator.

My thoughts, my motivations, my morals, etc are primary.

It may mean I am considered arrogant, but God shouldn't complain.  He made me that way.  ;)

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,20:01   

Hi Reciprocating Bill,

Thank you for joining in the conversation.

To my...
'A similar example is a Windmill with the “intent” of pumping water. Do these things only qualify as having purpose because a special clump of matter imbued the non-living thing with this special characteristic?'

 
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,17:31)

Much fog can be lifted, IMHO, by recognizing that what human beings do is "purposing" and "intending," rather than "having purpose" and "having intentions." People engage in purposing. Windmills and AI characters clearly do not.


I was not trying to engage in equivocation.  It was my intent (pardon the possible pun) to ask if AI and windmills were doing "purposing" and "intending".  You answered in the negative.

 
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,17:31)

Further, I would argue that a sine qua non of purposing is the abilty to represent. Purposing entails (I would say by definition) creating and manipulating representations of desired outcomes. Windmills do not represent. Nor do AI characters. To the extent that they "have a purpose," that reflects their origins in the activity of an agent capable of this particular form of representation.


Is this a "sine qua non of purposing" or is it a sine qua non of consciousness and it is consciousness that is a requirement for "purposing" and "intending"?

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,20:16   

Hi Albatrossity2,

I didn't want you to feel left out.

Yes, I agree this thread could arguably be called mental masturbation or as Doc Bill might say, "bullshit".



And to you Louis,

I consider it an honor that you joined in the fun.

Most of the time, I'm not sure whether you are being insulting or not.  Either way, your comments are fun to read.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,20:34   

Hi Doc Bill,

 
Quote (Doc Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,18:31)
Let's get down to bullshit, shall we?

First, I recommend highly the book by HG Frankfurt, "On Bullshit" in which he addresses this very point.

It does look like a book I might enjoy reading.  I will look into it.  Thanks.

 
Quote (Doc Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,18:31)
Second, why are you here TP?  I mean on the planet, not this thread. Easy.  You're here because every organism in your direct line of ancestry survived.
<snip>
That's why you are here.

I presume you are correct.  More than that, I pretty much assume it is correct.

 
Quote (Doc Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,18:31)
You want purpose?  I'll give you purpose.  Your purpose is to help perpetuate our species.  Your purpose is to raise and teach and be kind to children.  Your purpose is to do no harm and to be a good steward of the land.  Your purpose is to leave the world a little better than you were given it.  Your purpose it to live an honorable, charitable life.

How are you doing so far, TP?

I think I am doing fairly well but, then again, I might be a little biased.

I have raised four children to be independently minded and self sufficient.  They all seem destined to help others.  My third youngest is a gay rights activist even though she, herself, isn't gay.  I could do better in the carbon footprint department, but we reuse our grocery bags and generally recycle.  I think charities have our number on speed dial.  My wife is a sucker.

I try hard to be a straight shooter.  Although the temptation to become sarcastic is very strong at times.


 
Quote (Doc Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,18:31)
Now, I'm the first to admit that all the purpose stuff is bullshit, but it's my bullshit and I like it.

That is what I was looking for in this discussion.  An investigation of unsupported presumptions people have.  This is sometimes called a "bullshit session".

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,20:45   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 12 2010,21:01)
Is this a "sine qua non of purposing" or is it a sine qua non of consciousness and it is consciousness that is a requirement for "purposing" and "intending"?

Hey TP -

If representation is necessary for consciousness, and consciousness for purposing and intending, then representation is necessary for purposing and intending. Whether it is sufficient is another, interesting question.

That said, any definition of "purposing" that I can recognize as such requires representation in the sense I describe above - representation of desired outcomes. Both "representing that" and "desiring that" are intentional notions in the sense of Brentano's intentionality. So the minimum requirement for purposing, by definition, appears to be a capacity for states characterized by (Brentano's) intentionality (i.e. "aboutness").

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,21:17   

TP:
 
Quote
Yes, but you cheated because of our many conversations in the past.


§;o)

 
Quote
Penrose/Hameroff is suggesting the most logical (and maybe only) source of something that is both non-deterministic and non-random is Quantum Mechanics.  Ergo, it is extremely likely that consciousness is a macro expression of quantum effects.


Well, you know I agree. And that I expect that's right where the evidence will eventually lead, even though it's bound to leave behind a whole passel of flat-earthers on both 'ends' who will quietly fade into oblivion as they die off and energetic young scientists take the new paradigm as far as they're able to go with it. Then some young guns will do the same to them. Such is the way of things, science is not exempt (even if it hosts way too many Zombies at present).

I'm checking out, just cannot deal with this level of delinquency on purpose - though I admit recent presence is purposeless slumming, just bored with being snowed in and there's six new inches so far tonight. Have contacted whatever passes for "moderation" around here, will not post further until and unless a certain member of the youth gang is deterred. Since that's entirely unlikely to happen, I'll just wish you good luck reaching the same conclusion in record time - there is nothing resembling discussion to be had here. Once again I am reminded of why that is...

Ciao!

  
Doc Bill



Posts: 1039
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,21:22   

I'm an arrogant ass, TP, but I try to be an honest arrogant ass.

I stand corrected (somewhat) when Louis tells me that sheep are better lovers than monkeys;  at least I'm open to the possibility.

But, I'm a reductionist.  All is chemistry and physics, ultimately physics.  I believe I have free-ish will in that I appear to be able to make certain choices governed by physics, chemistry, my psychology and the physical world (all of which are chemistry and physics).  But, I don't think I'm predestined to have Special K for breakfast tomorrow.  In fact, I'm going to have Cheerio's just to mess with the Cosmos.

As for metaphysics, philosophy and theology, it's all bullshit.  Clearly.

Where's my beer?

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,22:43   

Hi Recipricating Bill,

   
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,20:45)
If representation is necessary for consciousness, and consciousness for purposing and intending, then representation is necessary for purposing and intending. Whether it is sufficient is another, interesting question.

That said, any definition of "purposing" that I can recognize as such requires representation in the sense I describe above - representation of desired outcomes.


Excuse my desire to keep coming back to consciousness but, to me, an ability to represent isn't very significant.

For example, many years ago I was in charge of a simulation project for the investigation of various torpedo verses target scenarios.

The software stored representations of multiple objects in memory and applied six-degree of freedom motions to them resulting in the creation of a physical, tangable product in the form of graphs and charts. Does that mean my software was doing "purposing"?  

As you indicated sufficency is another issue.

Whether we call it an additional requirement or an expansion of definitions, I suggest you would agree there is something more.

Please take a look at this chess problem


  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,22:56   

Hi Joy,

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 12 2010,21:17)
I'm checking out
<big snip>
Ciao!


Actually, I don't think they have been too bad on this thread.  Then again, I have always been more understanding of testosterone driven chest thumping.

I hope you will change your mind.

Either way, I will probably see you around.

  
Doc Bill



Posts: 1039
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,23:02   

And I've been pretty understanding of the undereducated nitwits, eh TP?

Got something besides undereducated nitwitness?

I didn't think so.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2010,23:16   

Hi Doc Bill,

   
Quote (Doc Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,21:22)
But, I'm a reductionist.  All is chemistry and physics, ultimately physics.  I believe I have free-ish will in that I appear to be able to make certain choices governed by physics, chemistry, my psychology and the physical world (all of which are chemistry and physics).


"free-ish will" ?!?!?

How wimpish is that?

You and I probably agree on the reductionist part.  Especially, the reduction down to physics.  Quantum physics to be more exact.

One of the things I have taken away from my research into all things Penrose is that he is focused on combining everything into one reality.  He is attempting to merge relativistic space-time into Quantum Mechanics and vice versa.  Then there is the everyday macro world.

The only way the total puzzle fits together for Penrose is if consciousness is a macro expression of quantum effects.

   
Quote (Doc Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,21:22)
But, I don't think I'm predestined to have Special K for breakfast tomorrow.  In fact, I'm going to have Cheerio's just to mess with the Cosmos.


:D LOL


   
Quote (Doc Bill @ Feb. 12 2010,21:22)
Where's my beer?


Here you go...


  
fnxtr



Posts: 2603
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 13 2010,01:39   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 12 2010,10:00)
Thank you for replying to my post.

     
Quote (fnxtr @ Feb. 11 2010,17:33)
I've just got to the point in "The Road to Reality" where Penrose is talking about complex number polar co-ordinates.  Maybe it isn't a sine wave, TP, maybe it's a helix.

I'm glad to hear you are still making your way through the book.  Trust me, Penrose has only begun bending, folding and otherwise warping reality.  Minkowskian geometry is tame compared to Twistor Space.


Heh. I still stumble on the e^i(pi) + 1=0.  "Wait, what?"

 
Quote
     
Quote (fnxtr @ Feb. 11 2010,17:33)
Purpose?  Maybe the whole universe is a spandrel.

Then I ask why isn't everything considered a "spandrel" including your decision to comment?


(shrug) Some would say it is. "Since everything is but an apparition..." etc.

We think things matter because they affect us.

Whether that has some greater ... hmm... cosmic meaning... who knows.

 
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I suggest there is no such thing as true randomness.

A counter argument is there may be no such thing as true purpose.


Everything in moderation, then? (Or maybe just a moderate number of things in moderation, everything in moderation seems a bit extreme)

There are limits to all freedoms, aren't there?

As far as I can tell, I can choose which shirt to wear but I can't choose to teleport to work.  

Quantum indeterminacy has limited probabilites, dunnit?

I see a tendency in the posts above to conflation of "purpose" in the sense of "function" (i.e. windmill) with "purpose" in the sense of "will", as one would use the phrase "on purpose".

This smacks a bit of grade 10 chess club conversation, so I may shy away from it.  Unless Louis dives in again.

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"But it's disturbing to think someone actually thinks creationism -- having put it's hand on the hot stove every day for the last 400 years -- will get a different result tomorrow." -- midwifetoad

"I am in a rush to catch up with science work." -- Gary Gaulin

  
Albatrossity2



Posts: 2780
Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 13 2010,06:51   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 12 2010,21:17)
I'll just wish you good luck reaching the same conclusion in record time - there is nothing resembling discussion to be had here. Once again I am reminded of why that is...

Now, that couldn't be because you eschew arguments and evidence, feign persecution, and don't like being told the truth about your half-baked notions, could it?

Nah.

Enjoy your hermitage.

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Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 13 2010,07:10   

TP:
           
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Excuse my desire to keep coming back to consciousness but, to me, an ability to represent isn't very significant.

Well, then, I guess I am a little confused about the intent of the post to which I originally responded. There you said:
             
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What I was attempting to point out is the repercussions of concluding life and consciousness is required for any claim of purpose, period.

I suggest humans are inherently prejudiced to think of themselves as being something special.

“I think, therefore I am” has arrogant connotations.

It is a presumption of self existence with an implied sense of consciousness.  This generally leads to a biased view of what is capable of intent and, therefore, purpose.

In many games (e.g. World of Warcraft) there are AI objects programmed with the “intent” of killing player characters.  A similar example is a Windmill with the “intent” of pumping water.  Do these things only qualify as having purpose because a special clump of matter imbued the non-living thing with this special characteristic?

I took you to be saying that to insist that something like human consciousness and self-awareness are required for purposing reflects a humancentric perspective "that leads to a biased view of what is capable of intent and, therefore, purpose."

You cited the example of viruses, stating "it could be argued that viruses demonstrate intent and purpose even though most people presume they lack consciousness and may not qualify as life."

Therefore, you appeared to be saying that perhaps entities lacking something like human consciousness and "the presumption of self existence" (what is that?) may nevertheless be capable of intent, and therefore purpose.

In your subsequent post you seem to be saying (or asking) the opposite: that consciousness must be present for us to ascribe to an agent the capacity for purposing.
       
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Excuse my desire to keep coming back to consciousness but, to me, an ability to represent isn't very significant.

For example, many years ago I was in charge of a simulation project for the investigation of various torpedo verses target scenarios.

The software stored representations of multiple objects in memory and applied six-degree of freedom motions to them resulting in the creation of a physical, tangable product in the form of graphs and charts. Does that mean my software was doing "purposing"?

I would say, of course, that your software did not engage in "purposing," even as it employs representations (although these have only "derived intentionality," borrowed from your own capacity to represent, in the same sense that windmill pumps have only "derived" purpose.) As you argue, "something more" is needed - something very like the human capacity for representation and perhaps consciousness.

So, are you arguing that to insist upon something like human consciousness is humancentric arrogance and bias, a bias that inappropriately causes us to withhold an ascription of purposing from other agents - from viruses and windmills, for example?

Or are you arguing that something like human consciousness IS requisite for purposing and intention?

----

The fact of the matter is that having intentions, harboring purposes etc. are integral to our representation of human actions and agents, integral components of human theory of mind. These representations of agency have long an evolutionary and cultural histories and, in given individuals, dedicated neural structures that support this representational coin. These representations are also integral to human language and have been hugely culturally elaborated and nuanced. We are immersed in such representations and the surrounding cultural elaborations from from birth. When we refer to "purpose" and "intentions" (as well as to "accidents") THAT is the rich history of representations to which we refer.

The key question is: Can these extremely rich and embedded human ascriptions of "intention" and "purpose" be generalized from this originating context to other settings and agents, or to the natural world generally? To viruses?

Perhaps so. The notion of "work" had origins in our sense of human labor, effort, fatigue, later agumented by animal labor, but has since within physics been given a much more abstract formulation that leaves behind the connotations of human labor. Perhaps "intending" can be given such an abstract formulation as well.

But perhaps not - perhaps "intention" and "agency" are deeply and contingently textured, given how intimately they are woven into our ancient ascriptions of human agency to one another. I'm more inclined to that position.

(BTW, vis the chess position: My freeware chess software (Sigma Chess) chose to eschew taking the rook after pondering the position for a minute or so. It projects a draw-like indefinite shuffling of the white king. Has my MacBook attained consciousness?)

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Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Quack



Posts: 1961
Joined: May 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 13 2010,08:24   

Quote
This thread with probably end up discussing free will.  If it is an illusion, I don’t see how a person can have any intent fundamentally different than rivers intending to flow to the sea.

Free with respect to what?

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Rocks have no biology.
              Robert Byers.

  
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