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Thread: The last and final argument about reality.

  1. #13621
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    I'm always looking for more succinct ways of summarising MDR thinking. I recently came across this quote from the sci-fi author Philip K Dick:

    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".

    Nicely summarises recent, somewhat lengthy posts about the 'non-mental elements' of MDR, I think(?)
    I think what that quote does is helps people distinguish between making mind-dependent models that work to make sense of consistencies of experience, which is what the "reality" concept is all about, from just choosing to believe things and hoping that they will somehow be true by power of will or something. The former is scientific and has been proven effective over history, whereas the latter is unscientific and has proven very dangerous (as current events remind us). Early in the thread we saw people who chose to believe their concept of reality was an MIR, or even that it "referred to" some MIR that had to be there or else their concept of reality wouldn't work, and they tended to mistakenly characterize MDR thinking as being like fantasy, like Harry Potter vs. the real world. But they didn't recognize that Harry Potter fantasy is merely at one extreme end of mind involvement, just as their own MIR belief is at the other extreme end of mind noninvolvement. A working understanding is not at either end, however.

    By contrast, MDR thinking allows us to find all kinds of evidence that neither of those extremes are consistent with the observations. So Dick's definition of reality is a useful one, but it is actually (as you are saying) more consistent with MDR than with MIR, though I think MIR believers tend to see it as a kind of justification for their beliefs. They might say that the only mind involvement is the choice to believe something, which doesn't change the reality, but that is not at all the only mind involvement. The irony of that stance is, they might not see that the "belief" Dick is talking about could just as easily be belief in MIR. So Dick's statement could be adapted to this thread as saying that MDR is that which, when you stop believing in an MIR, doesn't go away. That has always been my central critique of MIR belief as having anything to do with scientific thinking-- if it had any importance to science, it would matter if you stopped adhering to that belief, but it doesn't matter at all to not believe it.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2020-Jan-08 at 07:05 AM.

  2. #13622
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I think what that quote does is helps people distinguish between making mind-dependent models that work to make sense of consistencies of experience, which is what the "reality" concept is all about, from just choosing to believe things and hoping that they will somehow be true by power of will or something. The former is scientific and has been proven effective over history, whereas the latter is unscientific and has proven very dangerous (as current events remind us). Early in the thread we saw people who chose to believe their concept of reality was an MIR, or even that it "referred to" some MIR that had to be there or else their concept of reality wouldn't work, and they tended to mistakenly characterize MDR thinking as being like fantasy, like Harry Potter vs. the real world. But they didn't recognize that Harry Potter fantasy is merely at one extreme end of mind involvement, just as their own MIR belief is at the other extreme end of mind noninvolvement. A working understanding is not at either end, however.
    Yes .. I think those comments also really help in clarifying a (statistical) distribution way of looking at who gets to be considered objective (and who doesn't).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G
    By contrast, MDR thinking allows us to find all kinds of evidence that neither of those extremes are consistent with the observations. So Dick's definition of reality is a useful one, but it is actually (as you are saying) more consistent with MDR than with MIR, though I think MIR believers tend to see it as a kind of justification for their beliefs. They might say that the only mind involvement is the choice to believe something, which doesn't change the reality, but that is not at all the only mind involvement. The irony of that stance is, they might not see that the "belief" Dick is talking about could just as easily be belief in MIR. So Dick's statement could be adapted to this thread as saying that MDR is that which, when you stop believing in an MIR, doesn't go away. That has always been my central critique of MIR belief as having anything to do with scientific thinking-- if it had any importance to science, it would matter if you stopped adhering to that belief, but it doesn't matter at all to not believe it.
    (The latter) is the way I took the Dick quote .. but I get the MIR viewpoint you're making there, also.

    Folks are quick to make accusations that perceptions don't make 'reality' go away (which we hammered out a few posts ago). In a way, the minimalist non descriptive approach to the 'non mental elements' concept, also relies on a statistical distibution way of looking at things too, I think.

  3. #13623
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    It all boils down to the fact that it is natural, given how human minds work and their limitations, to come to a general model of reality that says all that is "mind" emerges from all that is "reality." This is more or less how we are taught to think, and we would probably come to that model on our own even if we weren't constantly taught it. We are trained by example to look for language about reality that removes us from it, and then looks for us to spring from it without leaving any mark on it, intentionally ignoring the easily demonstrable fact that even the successful use of language itself relies on a lifetime of interaction between how we think and perceive. We simply choose to forget that if our minds were very different, the way we would make sense of our reality would also be very different, despite the mountain of evidence of people with very different minds describing the nature of reality very differently. So the common model is, it's all the same reality, it's completely objective, everything relating to our minds emerges from that reality without any interaction with it, and then in some kind of final step to the process our minds enter and introduce variations from person to person in how they think about that pre-existing reality. The model is, MDR springs from MIR, but only MIR actually exists.

    And where it all falls apart is when you ask the simple question, "so when you personally talk about reality, including what is going on in your life, or what matter is made of, or the laws of physics, or how did humans evolve, or what is the difference between right and wrong, or what gets you out of bed in the morning, are you talking about that MIR thing you believe in, or your MDR that you say sprung from it?" Just have them answer that, and revisit what they mean by "what actually exists." While you're at it, you can ask them, "do you exist, and if so, does that require that you be some kind of MIR?"

  4. #13624
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And where it all falls apart is when you ask the simple question, "so when you personally talk about reality, including what is going on in your life, or what matter is made of, or the laws of physics, or how did humans evolve, or what is the difference between right and wrong, or what gets you out of bed in the morning, are you talking about that MIR thing you believe in, or your MDR that you say sprung from it?" Just have them answer that, and revisit what they mean by "what actually exists." While you're at it, you can ask them, "do you exist, and if so, does that require that you be some kind of MIR?"
    LOL, "MIR does not compute...MIR does not compute...MIR does not...wizz...bang...tinkle...tinkle............ ."

  5. #13625
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    Exactly.

  6. #13626
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    There is a multipage article on Reality in this week’s New Scientist, and it covers many points without actually getting to MDR.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  7. #13627
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    Newscientist has some interesting articles about "reality" in current edition-

    https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/reality/

    Never been sure if it "New Scientist" or a contraction of "News Scientist" ?
    If the former- was there a prior magazine called "The (old) Scientist"?
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  8. #13628
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    Yes they appear to be touching on similar themes, but it disappears behind a pay wall before they say much of interest (when they say "read more", they should have said "read a teensy bit more.") I do hope the articles eventually get to the actual crux of the matter: what people mean when they use their word "reality" is not just one thing, it is contextual, purposeful, and subject to change. This is all quite easily demonstrated. What is paradoxical, then, is that even though the various things people mean by that term exhibit those attributes, what most people think reality is has none of those attributes. So the models people use when talking about "reality" are not what they think they mean by the term. Therefore, what they think they mean is inconsistent with the way words actually acquire meanings: their language about reality is internally inconsistent.

    The way to fix the internal inconsistency is to take a scientific perspective. In that perspective, the only things that are testable are models. So any scientific attempt to define "reality" will be a model, and models are always contextual, purposeful, and subject to change. Poof, inconsistency gone-- it's just not what most people think they are talking about when they talk about reality! This is the difference between science and faith, but in an often unrecognized context.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2020-Feb-06 at 02:05 PM.

  9. #13629
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    As evidenced by the length of/ interest in this post, I think the 'philosophy of science' has broad interest.
    This is my personal take on why-
    At age 15, I decided that the religion i was brought up in was pure bronze-age fantasy. I became fascinated by science and what it could tell me about the 'real' world. I think this is a common phenomenon- the rejection of subjective organized religion, and replacement with objective science.... so it comes as quite a shock to find out that atoms aren't really little solar systems, that particles are waves in some models, at some times.... that subatomic particles are not just tiny versions of billiard balls...
    One starts to realize that those strong foundations that 'science' is supposedly resting on are sunk into shifting sands... and this is very very disturbing to an atheist!
    If one can't believe in religion, and one can't believe that science gets us closer to any truth about reality.... what are we left with?
    BUT... i think the more one ponders this central idea.. the more one is awe inspired .. you know.. by .. "Life, The Universe, and Everything". The universe creates the mind, and the mind creates models of the universe. Like a snake eating it's tail.
    I'd like to see philosophy of science taught in high-school and science degrees at university.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  10. #13630
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    As evidenced by the length of/ interest in this thread, and the topic's appearance in pop sci magazines... I think the 'philosophy of science' has broad interest.
    This is my personal take on why-
    At age 15, I decided that the religion i was brought up in was pure bronze-age fantasy. I became fascinated by science and what it could tell me about the 'real' world. I think this is a common phenomenon- the rejection of subjective organized religion, and replacement with 'objective' science.... so it comes as quite a shock to find out that atoms aren't really little solar systems, that particles are waves in some models, at some times.... that subatomic particles are not just tiny versions of billiard balls...
    One starts to realize that those strong foundations that 'science' is supposedly resting on are sunk into shifting sands... and this is very very disturbing to an atheist!
    As KenG and others point out - this is probably due to a misunderstanding of the nature of 'science', and limitations of 'the scientific method'.
    If one can't believe in religion, and one can't believe that science gets us closer to any truth about reality.... what are we left with?.. other than "Epistemological Vertigo".
    Giving up on naive scientific realism can feel as traumatic a shift in mental-state as giving up on religion.
    BUT... i think the more one ponders this central idea.. the more one is awe inspired ..The universe creates the mind, and the mind creates models of the universe. Like a snake eating it's tail.
    I'd like to see basic 'philosophy of science' taught in high-school and science degrees at university.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  11. #13631
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    One starts to realize that those strong foundations that 'science' is supposedly resting on are sunk into shifting sands... and this is very very disturbing to an atheist!
    It's because science isn't taught right that we get the wrong idea about just what is the "foundation" of science. The foundation of science is not the successful models and theories that we trot out in front of students, it is that which doesn't shift-- it is the body of objective observations. And science doesn't rest on that foundation, in fact it doesn't rest at all-- it is always working, always questioning, always coming up with new ways to observe that can generate new surprises. The most important question in science is always, "what can we observe next that will knock our previous theories on their keesters?" That's the fun of science, but it's rarely taught that way. Science at the elementary and high school level (and beyond, frankly) is virtually always taught as a body of knowledge. But that isn't what science is at all, science is a process for obtaining knowledge of a specific type (relating to the consistencies of objectively testable phenomena, which results in demonstrable predictive power over objective outcomes). That distinction on the surface isn't problematical, we have a process and it results in knowledge, so let's teach the knowledge first and maybe later on get into how the process works. But there is a remarkable and rarely mentioned paradox built right into the process of doing science: its reliance on constant testing makes it a self-correcting process! So knowledge doesn't simply pile up like geological strata, it's alive, like a constantly changing ecosphere. It always amazes me when people say things like "scientists used to think X, but now we know Y," without even the slightest whiff of appreciation of the fundamental paradox in that statement.
    If one can't believe in religion, and one can't believe that science gets us closer to any truth about reality.... what are we left with?..
    We are left with a better understanding of the difference between science and belief. Whether or not one can believe in religion has little to do with science, there have been many very religious scientists, and very atheistic scientists, they simply use their faith and their science for different things. The problem only comes in when we think we are supposed to believe in science-- but science has nothing at all to do with belief. Science makes and tests models, you not only don't have to "believe in" the models, you are probably a better scientist if you don't. But what then is scientific knowledge? It is the predictive power we have attained over objective outcomes by judicious application of well-tested models. That's what "truth" means in science-- and it's all it means. There's simply nothing there to "believe in"-- there's only the knowledge that the model has done well, and the likely expectation that it will someday be replaced by an almost completely different understanding. History has borne this out, over and over-- the deeper our theories attempt to get "under the surface," the more likely they are to need replacing by something even more profound later on.
    Giving up on naive scientific realism can feel as traumatic a shift in mental-state as giving up on religion.
    I agree, but then it's not really necessary to give up on either-- it is only necessary to regard them as articles of faith, rather than testable models. It's all about knowing the difference, because we do not find it possible to test everything, given our limited intelligence and technology.
    BUT... i think the more one ponders this central idea.. the more one is awe inspired ..The universe creates the mind, and the mind creates models of the universe. Like a snake eating it's tail.
    Exactly-- a profound idea is always like opening a door, moreso than closing one. It's like first you had a door the led out into the yard, and you were amazed by all the fine things in that yard, but were later disappointed to discover the yard was not everything-- there is another door into a wider world outside the yard. And though that can be unsettling, it can also open you to even more remarkable discoveries. For me, the most valuable thing that discovering new doors does is, it provides a sense of humility about what we get to know, and what we must ultimately regard as mystery. An appreciation for mystery is a useful counter to the closedmindedness that can come from attitudes like scientific realism, and many evils of our planet were perpetrated by someone who thought they knew something that they did not, in fact, know at all.
    I'd like to see basic 'philosophy of science' taught in high-school and science degrees at university.
    So would I, but the problem is that there isn't much consensus there, and science is a place where people really like consensus! It's the black sheep of the science family, and the paradoxical elements of its existence really bug people, but teaching it might help us finally understand what science actually is-- something I think we sorely need.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2020-Feb-07 at 06:38 PM.

  12. #13632
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    ... I do hope the articles eventually get to the actual crux of the matter: what people mean when they use their word "reality" is not just one thing, it is contextual, purposeful, and subject to change. This is all quite easily demonstrated. What is paradoxical, then, is that even though the various things people mean by that term exhibit those attributes, what most people think reality is has none of those attributes. So the models people use when talking about "reality" are not what they think they mean by the term. Therefore, what they think they mean is inconsistent with the way words actually acquire meanings: their language about reality is internally inconsistent.

    The way to fix the internal inconsistency is to take a scientific perspective. In that perspective, the only things that are testable are models. So any scientific attempt to define "reality" will be a model, and models are always contextual, purposeful, and subject to change. Poof, inconsistency gone-- it's just not what most people think they are talking about when they talk about reality! This is the difference between science and faith, but in an often unrecognized context.
    I wish it were that simple! Sometimes the context is created by invoking the more tenuous concepts used in science/math.

    For example, I've recently encountered someone (of Faith) who is taking science/math's version of causality and attempting to logically argue that reality must therefore have what he refers to as a 'First Cause' .. which is hard to unravel when the Big Bang is also being discussed. This reopens the can of worms (dealt with here a long time ago) of science's judiciously connected notions of causality, randomness and free will. The notoriously misinterpreted butterfly effect is also invoked to enable free will to escape the clutches of predestination (predeterminism) ..

    The context of the 'scientific perspective', itself, (which is exactly what this thread addresses), then materialises (in mind) and then in the so-called 'First Cause' conversation. (Thank goodness for the existence of this highly valuable thread and the others dealing with causality, the butterfly effect, etc!)

  13. #13633
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    As evidenced by the length of/ interest in this post, I think the 'philosophy of science' has broad interest.
    ...
    I'd like to see philosophy of science taught in high-school and science degrees at university.
    Plant, the Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. is the highest qualification that a student can earn at University.

    The link below is for a Ph.D. thesis by Brian Patrick McEvoy, 'Genetic investigation of Irish ancestry and surname history', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Department of Genetics, 2005. He was originally researching Cows and thought that the same methodology might apply to humans, so this paper is an exercise in simplicity for a seemingly very hard problem.

    http://www.tara.tcd.ie/handle/2262/77578

  14. #13634
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    For example, I've recently encountered someone (of Faith) who is taking science/math's version of causality and attempting to logically argue that reality must therefore have what he refers to as a 'First Cause' .. which is hard to unravel when the Big Bang is also being discussed.
    I can see two separate logical fallacies in their argument. It sounds like they are saying that because science has found useful the concept of causation, we can extrapolate to the claim that everything that happens must have a cause, except for somee first cause that "got the ball rolling." That is not good logic, because a simple mathematical system provides a counterexample. The integers have the property that all integers have another integer that directly precedes them, but one cannot argue this requires a "first integer."

    But a far worse problem with the logic is that it violates the way science works-- we don't use scientific principles to tell reality how it must work, we use reality to say which scientific principles work. Take conservation of energy. This is a strong scientific principle because we don't know of any violations in a closed system. But we don't then say that the universe must obey conservation of energy, and indeed there is evidence that the universe as a whole does not obey that principle, or at least it is tricky to find a way to define energy such that it does. There are so many examples of wrong scientific logic because so few people seem to understand what science actually is and how it works!
    This reopens the can of worms (dealt with here a long time ago) of science's judiciously connected notions of causality, randomness and free will. The notoriously misinterpreted butterfly effect is also invoked to enable free will to escape the clutches of predestination (predeterminism) ..
    Yes, that is indeed a thread of its own. We don't need to force the free will concept to fit the science we already have, we need to find a way to talk scientifically about the concept of free will. That's the concept we already have, and it's our job to use science to make sense of it, not to tell free will what it needs to be based on what we already know (which isn't much).
    The context of the 'scientific perspective', itself, (which is exactly what this thread addresses), then materialises (in mind) and then in the so-called 'First Cause' conversation. (Thank goodness for the existence of this highly valuable thread and the others dealing with causality, the butterfly effect, etc!)
    It all comes down to the recognition that all these things we talk about (first causes, sensitivity to initial conditions, free will, etc.) are models that we are defining and testing, and making fit inside our own heads. None of them are "stuff that just is." I swear, it's as if people think these words and concepts are handed to us by our environment, and all we do is attach labels to them. No, we do much more than label them, we are responsible for all those concepts. To see that, simply note that you could not hand a dictionary to an alien and expect to be able to converse with them-- because a dictionary only makes matches between labels, it is not how words acquire meaning. We make sense of the words, we give the words meaning, all based on how our minds and perceptive abilities function in their environment (and the same holds for every word I just used). The error people make is in thinking that this obviously true statement somehow implies we can control what works, or that we can just dream up anything we like and it will be true, like a fantasy-- but no, we find by experience that successful interactions with our words and concepts are constrained in many ways, but they are still quite demonstrably still our words and concepts. Nothing is "handed to us," nothing is "stuff that just is." If there is one thing that the history of science is abundantly clear about, it's that-- so why is it so rarely appreciated?

  15. #13635
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I can see two separate logical fallacies in their argument. It sounds like they are saying that because science has found useful the concept of causation, we can extrapolate to the claim that everything that happens must have a cause, except for some first cause that "got the ball rolling." That is not good logic, because a simple mathematical system provides a counterexample. The integers have the property that all integers have another integer that directly precedes them, but one cannot argue this requires a "first integer."
    Yes .. the logic is visibly flawed, but when determinism in nature is assumed as being innately true, even though the butterfly effect demonstrates it isn't, its logic's (including math's) base of determinism, that suddenly becomes the focus of 'the trial', rather than the flawed logic of this supposed 'first cause'. (Not that anyone except the very few of this thread's participants would see that, mind you).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    But a far worse problem with the logic is that it violates the way science works-- we don't use scientific principles to tell reality how it must work, we use reality to say which scientific principles work.
    .. and yet, its our use of the scientific process which informs our meaning of objective reality, (although this would just be part of the tiger chasing its tail ... I take it that your use of 'reality' above, is in the sense of making use of the 'expediency' model for simplifying the mind dependency of that particular version of what you mean by 'reality'..).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Take conservation of energy. This is a strong scientific principle because we don't know of any violations in a closed system. But we don't then say that the universe must obey conservation of energy, and indeed there is evidence that the universe as a whole does not obey that principle, or at least it is tricky to find a way to define energy such that it does. There are so many examples of wrong scientific logic because so few people seem to understand what science actually is and how it works!
    Yes .. it just goes on and on and on! And when one encounters folks having seemingly over-developed 'logic lobes' strengthened by the desire to weaponise logic for the sake of winning arguments, science ends up getting thrown under the bus in achieving those supposedly lofty goals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Yes, that is indeed a thread of its own. We don't need to force the free will concept to fit the science we already have, we need to find a way to talk scientifically about the concept of free will. That's the concept we already have, and it's our job to use science to make sense of it, not to tell free will what it needs to be based on what we already know (which isn't much).

    It all comes down to the recognition that all these things we talk about (first causes, sensitivity to initial conditions, free will, etc.) are models that we are defining and testing, and making fit inside our own heads. None of them are "stuff that just is."
    Hmm .. yes .. I agree its easier just to take the position that science actually has nothing to say about causality, free will or randomness .. until someone can connect any of those notions with empirical evidence/data.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I swear, it's as if people think these words and concepts are handed to us by our environment, and all we do is attach labels to them. No, we do much more than label them, we are responsible for all those concepts. To see that, simply note that you could not hand a dictionary to an alien and expect to be able to converse with them-- because a dictionary only makes matches between labels, it is not how words acquire meaning. We make sense of the words, we give the words meaning, all based on how our minds and perceptive abilities function in their environment (and the same holds for every word I just used).
    However, 'aliens' are also constructs of the very minds that invented dictionaries there though, Ken (so they must be assumed to possess our meanings, or ours must assume theirs, also)! - Just fooling around here .. from my LiS forum identity ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    The error people make is in thinking that this obviously true statement somehow implies we can control what works, or that we can just dream up anything we like and it will be true, like a fantasy-- but no, we find by experience that successful interactions with our words and concepts are constrained in many ways, but they are still quite demonstrably still our words and concepts. Nothing is "handed to us," nothing is "stuff that just is." If there is one thing that the history of science is abundantly clear about, it's that-- so why is it so rarely appreciated?
    I think, because the alternative of the supreme being, or the existence of mind independence, is still more Occam's Razor(ish) .. where Occam's is embedded in philosophical logic and is thus, more strongly aligned with math logic, which in turn itself reveals so many truths in science for us(?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    I take it that your use of 'reality' above, is in the sense of making use of the 'expediency' model for simplifying the mind dependency of that particular version of what you mean by 'reality'..).
    Yes, reality is a contextual scientific concept of great expediency-- and it means something different in every context in which it has shown said expediency. That's how we know it's not "just something that is."
    [quote]

    I agree its easier just to take the position that science actually has nothing to say about causality, free will or randomness .. until someone can connect any of those notions with empirical evidence/data.
    And when such connections are made, we should assume they will be limited to the contexts in which they apply. What "free will" means to a philosopher might be barely recognizable to what it means for a neuroscientist, for example-- the notions have to only be close enough to be not worth inventing entirely new terms, but then people make the mistake of thinking "free will" is just one thing. Words never work like that, were we all born yesterday?
    I think, because the alternative of the supreme being, or the existence of mind independence, is still more Occam's Razor(ish) .. where Occam's is embedded in philosophical logic and is thus, more strongly aligned with math logic, which in turn itself reveals so many truths in science for us(?)
    I have no objection to the concept of mind independent reality as a model, it is certainly a pretty good model in a lot of situations. The problem is that as a model, it contains an internal contradiction (as models are invented and judged by minds in demonstrably mind dependent ways). It is actually nothing new for models to include internal inconsistencies, the common problem is in taking the models too literally. Just like the logic that says "if we find the model we call causation is useful in many contexts, it implies everything that happens must either be caused, or be a first cause." It's the wrong "algebra of combining models", like the error of saying that if what we mean by "the Moon" is a model, and what we mean by "Neil Armstrong" is a model, then the model "Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon" cannot be useful unless regarded as a model walking on a model!

  17. #13637
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    ... I have no objection to the concept of mind independent reality as a model, it is certainly a pretty good model in a lot of situations. The problem is that as a model, it contains an internal contradiction (as models are invented and judged by minds in demonstrably mind dependent ways). It is actually nothing new for models to include internal inconsistencies, the common problem is in taking the models too literally. Just like the logic that says "if we find the model we call causation is useful in many contexts, it implies everything that happens must either be caused, or be a first cause." It's the wrong "algebra of combining models", like the error of saying that if what we mean by "the Moon" is a model, and what we mean by "Neil Armstrong" is a model, then the model "Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon" cannot be useful unless regarded as a model walking on a model!
    Some believed models can be useful in the same contexts they acquired their contradictions though. Their usefulness might be in the area of deception. Hey .. it works for the professionals who practise it! They are just not following scientific (or conventional logical) processes and their truths are faith based .. usually requiring acceptance of their special pleadings (under the auspices of what they call loyality to a cause). Its highly likely they were never introduced to the basics of algebra also.

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    I think it's easier to concentrate on the difference between what a 'human' would 'think' and what a 'robot/automaton' would 'think' which leaves us with a 'MIR' that a 'robot/automaton' would never understand in a million years.

    That is just the binary result of a simple empirical test, nothing more, nothing less.

  19. #13639
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    I think it's easier to concentrate on the difference between what a 'human' would 'think' and what a 'robot/automaton' would 'think' which leaves us with a 'MIR' that a 'robot/automaton' would never understand in a million years.

    That is just the binary result of a simple empirical test, nothing more, nothing less.
    Sounds like a simple, present-day, human thought experiment to me ..

  20. #13640
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Sounds like a simple, present-day, human thought experiment to me ..
    That robots wouldn't understand because they don't actually think, they just process data.

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    Again we must beware of the tendency to imagine that words like "think" just mean stuff, like "thinking" is some actual thing that is handed to us. But of course that's not true, the word "think" means only what we want it to mean, it's our word, our model. And like any model our minds create, it is always going to be contextual (so it will mean different things in different contexts and to different minds), purpose-based (we have some reason for developing the concept), and subject to change (as our knowledge of how the mind works increases, and the situations in which we need the concept evolve). So what all that means is, we have to do a great deal of work exploring what we want our word "think" to mean, before we try to say whether or not an automaton can do it. That's why the notion has received a lot of attention in science fiction circles, it's a recognition of the hard work that must be done to find a way to give meaning to "think" that can handle things like advanced robots. One meaning might be something we specifically reserve for minds we recognize better (our own, for example, but then we must also recognize how little we do know our own minds or what we are doing when we think), and another meaning might be explicitly extended to include advanced robots, for whatever contextual purposes might be required there. The same holds for words like "understand"-- how often have we seen someone try to say something to Siri or Alexa or Watson, and we say "Siri can't understand that", etc.. Just what do we mean when we say that? How well do we really understand the things other people are saying to us? How is what I'm writing right now being understood, or not being understood, by the people reading it? Do I even know what I'm saying myself?

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    I'm starting to realise just how much MIR believers absolutely hate semantics as the basis for an objective test. The best arguments I've seen thus far are:
    (i) people are quite capable of misunderstanding the concepts they're invoking in their own language and;
    (ii) people deliberately use deception in order to avoid exposing the weaknesses of the positions they take (particularly when it comes to reality).

    Both are quite valid, so the tools of logic are brought to bear. Logic then also brings along the baggage of the existence of assumed truths, which complicates the matter further. I can't help thinking robots couldn't avoid such assumed truths, as these would necessarily be intrinsic to whatever we'd end up calling their 'thinking'(?)

    If a truly MIR exists, then robots' (or AI's) logic would surely then provide the niche advantage for their survival in such a realm .. but that realm doesn't appear to be the one we find ourselves attuned to .. for some reason ..(?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    I can't help thinking robots couldn't avoid such assumed truths, as these would necessarily be intrinsic to whatever we'd end up calling their 'thinking'(?)
    That might depend on our purpose for programming such robots. Perhaps we will someday have a reason to program a robot to question its assumptions-- perhaps that is a key part of what we call "thinking." The very idea is unsettling, of course.
    If a truly MIR exists, then robots' (or AI's) logic would surely then provide the niche advantage for their survival in such a realm .. but that realm doesn't appear to be the one we find ourselves attuned to .. for some reason ..(?)
    Yes, if an MIR believer tries to cite the fact that most people have minds evolved to believe in MIR as some kind of evidence that a true MIR has conditioned them to believe in it, you could easily counter that were that true, we would not have also evolved to be able to question what we hold to be true-- we would not have evolved to be able to discover that what we thought was true in some limited context is completely untrue in a wider domain.

  24. #13644
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    Logic is never enough for the "why?" questions that humans ask and imagined AI could ask. What is the point of being? for example. Or , what is the point of belief.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Robots don't 'believe' in MIR only people do that.

  26. #13646
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    The modelling of perceptions with a view to prediction is just as valuable to AI as to brains, An AI system could develop, or be given, the ability to predict based on an overall model. It will start with less completeness and possibly slower running, like the supercomputers that now predict the weather. I grant AI is a huge way off from a belief equivalent to MIR but I see no physical barrier.
    Last edited by profloater; 2020-Feb-16 at 09:32 AM. Reason: typo
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    The problem is that we don't know how we believe, or think, or perceive, so we can't tell if we could get a robot to do it or not. The basic problem is, if we define those actions in ways that make it pretty clear AI can't do them, we run the risk of defining them such that we cannot either. Consider the words of B.F. Skinner: "the real question is not whether machines think but whether men do."

    A useful definition of all those things requires that we be able to do them, and that may well open the door for AI to be able to do them also. Hence I would reframe that question as "is there anything we understand about our own thinking process that would preclude our using that same understanding to get machines to do it too?"
    Last edited by Ken G; 2020-Feb-15 at 04:37 PM.

  28. #13648
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    The problem is that we don't know how we believe, or think, or perceive, so we can't tell if we could get a robot to do it or not. The basic problem is, if we define those actions in ways that make it pretty clear AI can't do them, we run the risk of defining them such that we cannot either. Consider the words of B.F. Skinner: "the real question is not whether machines think but whether men do."

    A useful definition of all those things requires that we be able to do them, and that may well open the door for AI to be able to do them also. Hence I would reframe that question as "is there anything we understand about our own thinking process that would preclude our using that same understanding to get machines to do it too?"
    Yes .. it seems a vital distinction may be 'missing' by ignoring our own mind's role in coming up with the meaning of 'thinking'.

    Co-incidentally, I've now encountered yet another philosophical position, (they're endless, I reckon), of 'Panpsychism' (proponent is Galen Strawson). This one puts forward the idea that experientiality (consciousness, experience, or mental) is fundamental to reality. (I don't think we've quite thrashed this one out yet here .. not that this matters much as far as science is concerned though ..).

    Somehwere in this one, Strawson attempts to argue that matter in general is 'experiential' (which he proposes as being a fundamental of reality). So then we get arguments like 'experience involves intentionality, i.e. it's about events, which implies information and information processing... we're not talking the passive semantics of experience, in the sense that a river bank 'experiences' erosion' ... Re: the undelined part: 'But why not?', I ask .. and how passive does 'passive' have to be, before we can completely ignore the thing using such semantics?

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    I think the reality is that we are multi-dimensional beings who at this moment are experiencing a third dimensional experience in a human body.

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    That does sound like David Hume, the philosopher, who recognised experience in the formation of the mind. If we compare and contrast the shorthand phrases, "mind dependent reality" and "experience dependent reality" I think we have a definition of mind implied, but with no requirement for MIR or "reality without experience."
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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