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26 May 2022

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  • "Let us, then, never look back, let us look ever forward; for forward is our sunlight, forward our..."
    26 May 2022
    “Let us, then, never look back, let us look ever forward; for forward is our sunlight, forward our salvation.”
    - Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State
  • "Deep, unspeakable suffering may well be called a baptism, a regeneration, the initiation into a new..."
    26 May 2022
    “Deep, unspeakable suffering may well be called a baptism, a regeneration, the initiation into a new state.”
    - George Eliot, Adam Bede
  • When classicists were public intellectuals, none was more ubiquitous than Gilbert Highet
    26 May 2022
    When classicists were public intellectuals, none was more ubiquitous than Gilbert Highet
  • Shark week is a “Dumpster fire of nonsense.” The animals are less lethal than lawn mowers, toasters, and holes on the beach 
    26 May 2022
    Shark week is a “Dumpster fire of nonsense.” The animals are less lethal than lawn mowers, toasters, and holes on the beach 
  • "The scientific revolutions of the last four centuries took place not just at the same time as ... invasion and enslavement, but because of these things” 
    26 May 2022
    "The scientific revolutions of the last four centuries took place not just at the same time as... invasion and enslavement, but because of these things” 
  • Tantalizing New Argument for Russellian Monism
    26 May 2022

    Giberman, Daniel. "Panprotopsychism Instantiated", Journal of the American Philosophical Association, published online 21 Oct. 2022. 

    Here's the abstract:

    The problem of many-over-one asks how it can be that many properties are ever instantiated by one object. A putative solution might, for example, claim that the properties are appropriately bundled, or somehow tied to a bare particular. In this essay, the author argues that, surprisingly, an extant candidate solution to this problem is at the same time an independently developed candidate solution to the mind-body problem. Specifically, what is argued here to be the best version of the relata-specific bundle theory—the thesis that each instance of compresence has a special intrinsic nature in virtue of which it necessarily bundles its specific bundle-ees—is also a species of Russellian monism, labeled by David Chalmers as ‘constitutive Russellian panprotopsychism’. The upshot of this connection is significant for the metaphysics of the mind-body problem: a credible theory of property instantiation turns out to have a built-in account of how consciousness is grounded in certain (broadly) physical systems.

    Russelian monism ftw!

    Exapologist
  • Special Pleading
    25 May 2022

    Description:

    Special Pleading is a fallacy in which a person claims there is an exemption to a general or universal principle (rule, law, policy, etc.) without adequately justifying this exemption.  The fallacy has the following general form:

    Premise 1: Principle P applies generally or universally.

    Premise 2: No reason or irrelevant reason R is given that P does not apply to A.

    Conclusion: A is an exception to P.

     

    This is fallacious reasoning because simply asserting that there is an exception to a general or universal principle does not support this conclusion. This fallacy most commonly occurs when a person attempts to exempt themselves (or someone else) in an unjustified way from a principle (or principles) they accept as generally applying to the circumstances in question. This version can be presented with this form:

     

    Premise 1: Person A accepts Principle P and applies it in circumstance C.

    Premise 2: Person A is in circumstance C.

    Premise 3: Person A offers no reason or an irrelevant reason R for an exemption to P.

    Conclusion: Therefore, Person A is exempt from S.

     

    The person committing Special Pleading is claiming that he is exempt from certain principles or standards yet provides no or an irrelevant reason for this exemption. That this sort of reasoning is fallacious is shown by the following extreme example:

     

    Premise 1: Jane accepts that all murderers should be punished for their crimes.

    Premise 2: Although she murdered Bill, Jane claims she is an exception because she really would not like to be punished.

    Conclusion: Therefore, the standard of punishing murderers should not be applied to her.

     

    This is a blatant case of special pleading. Since no one likes being punished, this cannot justify the claim that Sally alone should be exempt from punishment. If it did justify an exception, it would apply to everyone and thus undercut the general principle. Since this fallacy occurs when the justification for the exception is inadequate, this leads to the obvious matter of determining when the exception is warranted. When addressing this, philosophers generally turn to the Principle of Relevant Difference.

    From a philosophic standpoint, the fallacy of Special Pleading violates the Principle of Relevant Difference. According to this principle, two people should be treated differently if and only if there is a relevant difference between them. This principle seems reasonable; since it would not seem rational to treat two people differently when there is no relevant difference between them.

    To use a silly example, it would be odd for a parent to insist on making one child wear size 5 shoes and the other wear size 7 shoes when the children are both size 5 and there is no reason at all for the difference in treatment.

    The Principle of Relevant Difference does allow for different treatment. For example, if Henry barely works and Nancy is a very productive worker the employer would be justified in giving only Nancy a raise. This is because productivity is a relevant difference.

    Since it can be reasonable to treat people (and other things) differently, there will be cases in which some people will be exempt from the usual standards. For example, if it is Bill’s turn to cook dinner and Bill is very ill, it would not be Special Pleading if Bill asked to be excused from making dinner. Bill is offering a relevant reason for the exemption, and it would be a good reason for anyone who was ill and not just Bill.

    While determining what counts as a relevant and reasonable basis for exemption can be a difficult task, offering no reason at all for an exemption would clearly be Special Pleading. Thus, unless a clear and relevant justification for exemption can be presented, a person cannot reasonably claim to be exempt. This does lead to the normative and practical problem of determining when a difference is relevant and can justify an exemption.

    Sorting out such matters goes far beyond “pure” logic and into the realm of the normative (ethics, law, religion, etc.). Because of this, there can be considerable disagreement about whether a pleading is special or not. Such disagreement can even occur in good faith. For example, when I went to college, I had to prove that I was registered with the Selective Service to get my federal financial aid. Female college students did not; women are exempt from signing up for Selective Service. Obviously, some people believe that a person’s sex is a relevant difference for being required to register but it could be argued that this difference is not relevant, and this is a case of Special Pleading.

    While Special Pleading usually involves a person trying to get an unjustified exemption, this fallacy could also technically be used against someone to fallaciously argue that they are exempt from something they want to apply to them. For example, someone might accept a general principle of free expression, but engage in Special Pleading to fallacious argue that it does not apply to those they dislike. If they offered no reason, there would be no disputing the fallacy has been committed. But if they offer a reason, then the question arises as to whether the reason warrants the exemption.

     

    Defense: To avoid committing the fallacy yourself, be sure to consider whether you really have a justification for the exemption you want to claim. To avoid falling for this fallacy when used by others, check to see if they are offering a relevant reason that justifies the exemption. This can take you beyond the realm of “pure” logic and into a debate in the normative realm, such as ethics or law. Be careful to not assume that just because you disagree with someone’s reasons that they must be committing Special Pleading. Likewise, be on guard assuming that a person is not engaged in Special Pleading just because you like the reason they give.

     

    Example #1

    Bill and Jill are married. Both Bill and Jill have put in a full day at the office. Their dog, Rover, has knocked over all the plants in one room and has strewn the dirt all over the carpet. When they return, Bill tells Jill that it is her job to clean up after the dog. When she protests, he says that he has put in a full day at the office and is too tired to clean up after the dog.

     

    Example #2

    Jane: “Turn of that stupid stereo, I want to take a nap.”

    Sue: ‘Why should I? What are you exhausted or something?”

    Jane: “No, I just feel like taking a nap.”

    Sue: “Well, I feel like playing my stereo.”

    Jane: “Well, I’m taking my nap. You have to turn your stereo off and that’s final.”

     

    Example #3

    Mike: “Barbara, you’ve tracked in mud again.”

    Barbara: “So? It’s not my fault.”

    Mike: “Sure. I suppose it walked in on its own. You made the mess, so you clean it up.”

    Barbara: “Why?”

    Mike: “We agreed that whoever makes a mess must clean it up. That is fair.”

    Barbara: “Well, I’m going to watch TV. If you don’t like the mud, then you clean it up.”

    Mike: “Barbara…”

    Barbara: “What? I want to watch the show. I don’t want to clean up the mud. Like I said, if it bothers you that much, then you should clean it up.”

     

    Example #4

    Student: “Did you grade the paper I turned in?”

    Professor: “I did. It was great. I really liked it.”

    Student: “So I got an A?”

    Professor: “No, an F. That is why we are having this talk.”

    Student: “But why did you give me an F?”

    Professor: “Well, I think the paper is great and I really liked it because I wrote it I guess you did not check to see who wrote it.”

    Student: “I agree that plagiarism is wrong, but I really do not want to flunk this class.”

    Professor: “No one does.”

  • Erich Fromm on How to Be Happy
    25 May 2022
    Daily Philosophy has launched a new book, “Erich Fromm on How to Be Happy.” In it, Dr Andreas Matthias takes us on a journey to the world of the Frankfurt School and Social Psychology, in search of wisdom on how we can live happier and more meaningful lives today.

    Erich Fromm on How to Be Happy

    In this book, philosophy professor, founder and editor of the Daily Philosophy web magazine, Dr Andreas Matthias takes the reader on a tour, looking at how society influences our happiness. Following Erich Fromm, the Frankfurt School, Aldous Huxley and other thinkers, we go in search of wisdom and guidance on how we can live better, happier and more satisfying lives today.

    In the book, the author begins with a look at Erich Fromm’s life and work, and then he discusses Fromm’s most prominent contributions to the philosophy of happiness:

    • The “escape from freedom”
    • The psychology of capitalism
    • Fromm’s criticism of modern technology and technological progress
    • Living one’s life in the states of “having” or “being”
    • How to develop one’s skills for a happier life
    • Fromm’s critique of consumerism and his ideal society
    • Eastern and Western concepts of happiness
    • The Art of Loving and what love means in modern society
    • And, finally, Marx’s ideas about alienation and what we can do about it

    The book not only describes abstract ideas, but, in his well-known way, the author applies these ideas to our own everyday lives.

    After almost every chapter, there is a section titled “Let’s try it out!”, where the author invites readers to apply Fromm’s concepts to their own, everyday lives. From decluttering one’s house to attempting to live through a weekend without using any money, the book is filled with suggestions and ideas on how to live a more meaningful and more satisfying life today.

    As opposed to thousands of shallow self-help books, Dr Matthias utilises his decades-long experience in teaching philosophy to young students to go back to the actual thoughts of the writers discussed and to make them come alive for our own world.

    This book is part of a series on six classic theories of happiness: Aristotle, Erich Fromm and social psychoanalysis, Epicurean philosophy, the hermit life and Stoicism. Each book provides a unique, deep and refreshing insight into the best thoughts that millennia of philosophical wisdom have to give us.

    Start your journey into a richer and more meaningful life today!

    Get the book as an ebook or paperback on Amazon

    More books like this

    You may also wish to look at the author’s other books in the same series:

  • "An artist simply cannot trust any public emblem of merit."
    25 May 2022
    “An artist simply cannot trust any public emblem of merit.”

    - Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren (via quotespile)
  • Your Brain on Grief, Your Heart on Healing
    25 May 2022
    “Grief is a heart-wrenchingly painful problem for the brain to solve, and grieving necessitates learning to live in the world with the absence of someone you love deeply, who is ingrained in your understanding of the world… For the brain, your loved one is simultaneously gone and also everlasting, and you are walking through two worlds at the same time.”

    “‘Tis good — the looking back on Grief,” Emily Dickinson wrote as she calibrated love and loss. But she did not mean that it is good to ruminate and wallow — Dickinson so deftly played with the surface of meaning, so delighted in startling us into a flinch or furrow before plunging us into the deeper truths she fathomed. She meant, I think, that a love lost is grieved forever, whatever the nature of the loss — this she knew, and turned the ongoingness of it into a lifetime of art — but by looking back, we are reminded over and over that the sharp edge of grief does smooth over time, that today’s blunt ache is worlds apart from the first stabs, until grief becomes, as Abraham Lincoln wrote in his stirring letter of consolation to a bereaved young woman, “a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.”

    Art by Sophie Blackall for “Dirge Without Music” from The Universe in Verse.

    And besides, what does it mean to lose a love anyway? We never lose people, not really. I don’t mean this in some mystical sense — let there be no confusion about what actually happens when we die. I don’t even mean it in the poetic sense. I am speaking strictly from the point of view of the mind emerging from the dazzling materiality of the brain — that majestic cathedral of cortex and synapse shaping every thought we have and every feeling we tremble with.

    I am speaking of the paradox inside the brain:

    On the one hand, we lose people all the time — to death, to distance, to differences; from the brain’s point of view, these varieties of loss differ not by kind but only by degree, triggering the same neural circuitry, producing sorrow along a spectrum of intensity shaped by the level of closeness and the finality of the loss.

    On the other hand, no person we have loved is ever fully gone. When they die or vanish, they are physically no longer present, but their personhood permeates our synapses with memories and habits of mind, saturates an all-pervading atmosphere of feeling we don’t just carry with us all the time but live and breathe inside. Or the opposite happens, which is its own devastation — the physical body remains present, but the person we have known and loved, that safehouse of shared memories and trust, is gone — lost to mental illness, to addiction, to neurodegenerative disease.

    Art by Sophie Blackall for “Dirge Without Music” from The Universe in Verse.

    In both cases, the brain is tasked with the slow, painful work of reconstituting its map of the world, so that the world makes sense again without the beloved person in it. Mapping, in fact, is not a mere metaphor but what is actually going on in the brain, since our orientation in spacetime and our autonoeic consciousness — the capacity for mental self-representation — share a cortical region.

    Where the missed and missing person goes on the map, how the remapping actually unfolds, and what it takes to redraw the map in such a way that the world feels whole again are the questions coursing through The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss (public library) by neuroscientist Mary-Frances O’Connor — a pioneer in fMRI research since the technology first became available, who has devoted a quarter century to studying the particular neurophysiology of grief. She writes:

    The brain devotes lots of effort to mapping where our loved ones are while they are alive, so that we can find them when we need them. And the brain often prefers habits and predictions over new information. But it struggles to learn new information that cannot be ignored, like the absence of our loved one.

    […]

    Grief is a heart-wrenchingly painful problem for the brain to solve, and grieving necessitates learning to live in the world with the absence of someone you love deeply, who is ingrained in your understanding of the world. This means that for the brain, your loved one is simultaneously gone and also everlasting, and you are walking through two worlds at the same time. You are navigating your life despite the fact that they have been stolen from you, a premise that makes no sense, and that is both confusing and upsetting.

    Making an important distinction between grief (“the intense emotion that crashes over you like a wave, completely overwhelming, unable to be ignored”) and grieving (an ongoing process punctuated by recurring moments of grief but stringing the moments into a larger trajectory), O’Connor adds:

    Grieving requires the difficult task of throwing out the map we have used to navigate our lives together and transforming our relationship with this person who has died. Grieving, or learning to live a meaningful life without our loved one, is ultimately a type of learning. Because learning is something we do our whole lives, seeing grieving as a type of learning may make it feel more familiar and understandable and give us the patience to allow this remarkable process to unfold.

    […]

    Grief never ends, and it is a natural response to loss. You will experience pangs of grief over this specific person forever. You will have discrete moments that overwhelm you, even years after the death when you have restored your life to a meaningful, fulfilling experience. But… even if the feeling of grief is the same, your relationship to the feeling changes. Feeling grief years after your loss may make you doubt whether you have really adapted. If you think of the emotion and the process of adaptation as two different things, however, then it isn’t a problem that you experience grief even when you have been grieving for a long time.

    Discus chronologicus — a German depiction of time from the early 1720s, included in Cartographies of Time. (Available as a print and as a wall clock.)

    Although volumes have been written about the psychology, philosophy, and poetics of grief — none more piercing than the Joan Didion classic, none more practical than Seneca’s advice to his bereaved mother — there is something singularly revealing about exploring grief from the point of view of the brain beneath the mind, which must begin at the developmental beginning. Childhood — the brain’s most fertile growth period, when most of its major infrastructure is laid out — is also our training ground for loss. Every time we are separated from our primary caregivers, we experience scale-models of loss; every time they return, we learn that the loss of their presence is not a loss of their person, of their love. (A pause worth taking: every abandonment is a miniature of grief.)

    In those formative attachments, we also learn the role we ourselves play in the relationship. Because, in building its relational world-map, the brain is constantly computing our loved ones’ position in three dimensions — time, space, and closeness, also known as psychological distance — we learn the causal link between our behavior and a caregiver’s position in the closeness dimension, just like we learn the causal link between our bodily movements and our position in space. When there is secure attachment, the child learns that throughout various surface disruptions, situational factors, and passing emotional weather patterns, there is a steadfast underlying closeness. O’Connor writes:

    Closeness is partially under our control, and we learn how to maintain and nurture this closeness, but we also trust those who love us to maintain that closeness as well.

    The obvious — and heartbreaking — corollary is that children who grow up without secure attachment experience the pangs of miniature grief much more readily throughout life, with each departure of a loved one, however temporary, because trusting a continuity of closeness does not come naturally to us. But no matter the formative experience of closeness, human beings are universally undone by the death of someone close — the final abandonment, at once the most abstract and the most absolute absence, in which our brains simply cannot compute the total removal of a person so proximate and important from the fabric of psychological spacetime.

    Vanish by Maria Popova. (Available as a print.)

    Citing the disoriented devastation of a woman ghosted by a lover, O’Connor notes that “ghosting” is the neurologically appropriate word-choice for such abandonments — studied under fMRI, the brain of a person who has lost a loved one to “ghosting” behaves much the same way as the brain of a person who has lost a loved one to death, the mental map suddenly crumbled and torn to pieces. O’Connor describes the strange yet strangely sensical way in which the brain copes with this incomprehensible disruption of reality:

    If your brain cannot comprehend that something as abstract as death has happened, it cannot understand where the deceased is in space and time, or why they are not here, now, and close. From your brain’s perspective, ghosting is exactly what happens when a loved one dies. As far as the brain is concerned, they have not died. The loved one has, with no explanation, stopped returning our calls — stopped communicating with us altogether. How could someone who loves us do that? They have become distant, or unbelievably mean, and that is infuriating. Your brain doesn’t understand why; it doesn’t understand that dimensions can simply disappear. If they don’t feel close, then they just feel distant, and you want to fix it rather than believe they are permanently gone. This (mis)belief leads to an intense upwelling of emotions.

    […]

    If a person we love is missing, then our brain assumes they are far away and will be found later. The idea that the person is simply no longer in this dimensional world, that there are no here, now, and close dimensions, is not logical.

    Drawing on brain imaging studies, she adds:

    The ephemeral sense of closeness with our loved ones exists in the physical, tangible hardware of our brain.

    The particular bit of hardware is the brain’s posterior cingulate cortex — our built-in GPS of love. Scanning the environment and processing innumerable bits of sensory information, the PCC is constantly calibrating and recalibrating the psychological distance between us and the people we love, tightening the bond the closer we feel and loosening it when we sense distancing. Death turns the GPS into a crude compass trying to orient to an all-pervading, ever-shifting magnetic field suddenly bereft of its true north. O’Connor writes:

    After the death of a loved one, the incoming messages seem scrambled for a while. At times, closeness with our deceased loved one feels incredibly visceral, as though they are present in the room, here and now. At other times, the string seems to have fallen off the board — not shorter or longer than it was before, but simply stolen from us entirely.

    Liminal Worlds by Maria Popova. (Available as a print.)

    This confusion is so fundamental and so primal, so beyond the reach of reason, that it befalls minds indiscriminately along the spectrum of intelligence and self-awareness — a reality most clearly and devastatingly evinced in the extraordinary love letter Richard Feynman wrote to his wife 488 days after her death and 6,994 days before he won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

    But O’Connor notes that while Western physicians long believed such continuing bonds across the life-death divide to be a symptom of poor coping with grief that makes for poorer bonds with the living, recent research drawing on various grief rituals and customs from cultures around the world has demonstrated that such ongoing inner dialogue with the dead might actually enrich our relationships with the living and allow us to show up for them in a fuller, more openhearted way. She writes:

    Our understanding of ourselves changes as we gain wisdom through experience. Our relationships with our living loved ones can grow more compassionate and resonant with gratitude as we age. We can also allow our interactions with our beloved ones who are gone to grow and change, even if only in our minds. This transformation of our relationship with them can affect our capacity to live fully in the present, and to create aspirations for a meaningful future. It can also help us to feel more connected to them, to the best parts of them… Their absence from our physical world does not make our relationship to them any less valuable.

    […]

    Instead of imagining an alternate what if reality, we must learn to be connected to them with our feet planted firmly in the present moment. This transformed relationship is dynamic, ever-changing, in the way that any loving relationship is ever-changing across months and years. Our relationship with our deceased loved one must reflect who we are now, with the experience, and perhaps even the wisdom, we have gained through grieving. We must learn to restore a meaningful life.

    The greatest challenge, of course, is the perennial challenge of the human mind — how to integrate seemingly contradictory needs or ideas in such a way that they coexist harmoniously, perhaps even magnify each other, rather than cancel each other out. Without such integration, any new relationship can feel like a threat to this ongoing inner bond with the dead, undamming a flood of grief at the notion of emotional erasure: grief for the grief itself, for that outstretched hand holding on to the gone and to ourselves at the same time, to the map as it used to be. This is a fear so understandable as to cusp on the universal. It is also — and this might be the most assuring part of O’Connor’s research — a neurophysiologically misplaced fear. Within the brain, every person we love leaves a tangible, structural imprint, encoded in synapses that can never be vanquished or replaced by new and different love. Because that bond — like every bond, like every idea, like the universe itself — was “only ever conjured up in the mind,” it is there too that it always lives, unassailable by other minds and other events.

    Art by Sophie Blackall for “Dirge Without Music” from The Universe in Verse.

    O’Connor writes:

    Gaining a new relationship is simply not going to fill the hole that exists. Here is the key — the point of new roles and new relationships is not to fill the hole. Expecting that they will can only lead to disappointment.

    The point is that if we are living in the present, we need to..

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26 May 2022

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  • Gun laws and democracy.
    26 May 2022
    I assume the right to bare arms (as vague as it is) was placed as the 2nd amendment because of fear of the United States becoming an empire like England. But clearly that didn't happen. And England is no longer an empire either. And I think there are more guns than people in the U.S. And maybe 2...
  • Urban horse stable Halifax Lancers lacking ethics, says PETA
    26 May 2022
  • Alan Watts Lecture on 'Nothingness' | Zen Buddhism Philosophy
    26 May 2022
  • Baltasar Gracián- The Pocket Oracle | Readings 1-5
    26 May 2022
  • “They believe that they have found carriers of consciousness, the elements that accumulate information during life, and “drain” consciousness somewhere else after death.” If proven right, the Orchestrated Objective Reduction (ORCH OR) theory could be the biggest discovery in human history.
    26 May 2022
  • Epistemology and Metaphysics • Re: The Experience and Evolution of Consciousness: What are 'Levels' of Awareness?
    25 May 2022
    If we accept that "sensory experience" implies conscious experience, which seems reasonable, then it is "sensory experience" that is the oxymoron. That is my point.
    For the sake of absolute clarity I'd go with - ''Sensory experience'' refers to the phenomenal 'what it is like' experience of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling or tasting something. Here we're talking about the experience of hearing a sound. If you agree, I don't see an oxymoron.
    The phrase "sensory experience" certainly isn't an oxymoron. To have a sensory experience is to have a sense-impression, a sensation.
    It seems uncontroversial to me - the clue's in the name. But maybe PC can make a case that ''sensory experience'' is sorta an oxymoron, on the basis that if we dig deep the experience of eg ''hearing' is actually something other than sensory, but I can't see it.

    Statistics: Posted by Gertie — Wed May 25, 2022 10:27 pm

  • Philosophy • 10 things...
    25 May 2022
    10 Things that did NOT kill 19 children today

    1. Disney
    2. Banned Books
    3. Pronouns
    4. Dr Seuss
    5. Gay M&Ms
    6. Gay Teachers
    7. Masks
    8. Vaccines
    9. CRT
    10. Socialism

    Kropotkin

    Statistics: Posted by Peter Kropotkin — Wed May 25, 2022 6:34 pm — Replies 2 — Views 29

  • Epistemology and Metaphysics • Re: The Experience and Evolution of Consciousness: What are 'Levels' of Awareness?
    25 May 2022
    If we accept that "sensory experience" implies conscious experience, which seems reasonable, then it is "sensory experience" that is the oxymoron. That is my point.
    For the sake of absolute clarity I'd go with - ''Sensory experience'' refers to the phenomenal 'what it is like' experience of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling or tasting something. Here we're talking about the experience of hearing a sound. If you agree, I don't see an oxymoron.
    The phrase "sensory experience" certainly isn't an oxymoron. To have a sensory experience is to have a sense-impression, a sensation.

    Statistics: Posted by Consul — Wed May 25, 2022 9:38 pm

  • Epistemology and Metaphysics • Re: How Useful is the Concept of Qualia?
    25 May 2022
    Sy Borg wrote:
    So, when a mammal dies - be it a possum or a human - the nature of the animal's reactivity becomes reflexive and more chaotic as new communities of microbes take over the cadaver.

    "more chaotic":
    if relative chaos defines the states of life or not-life of a mammal then those are a matter of degree of reactivity to its environment. The states of life or not-life of a saprophyte or a saprophyte colony must then be a matter of degree, for there is no reason mammals be deemed special cases. Relative states of life or death would be the case but for one variable ---------------

    "reflexive" :

    Reflexivity is a kind of reaction but isn't a degree of reaction; either an experience is reflexive or it's intentional, all or nothing. Saprophytes and other tiny organisms such as bacteria 'intend ' to survive and if they did not ' intend' to survive they would not be viable for long but would succumb to a more efficient colony. Tiny organisms are clusters of experiences contrasted with my table lamp which experiences only on or off and is truly reflexive.

    The table lamp or any other machine , unlike bacteria or mammals, does not care whether or not it's on or off. Our caring whether or not we living animals are on or off is due to what we call quality (or qualia) and is a difference in kind from that of the machine which does not care. A functioning machine is never chaotic , but If there were ever any question a machine did care whether or not it was on or off that machine should be accorded rights. That is why qualia matter.
    Then again, we enjoy switching off every night. Further, our very best times tend to be flow states where the self is mostly sublimated. For a while we become the task, presumably like other animals.

    I chose "mammal" because the gulf between them and "cadaver communities" is greater than the difference between, say, a living starfish and a decomposing starfish.

    As for the simplest organisms striving to stay alive, it was not always so. The first life would have had no drive to survive, like a machine. However, as different communities formed, the ones that could find resources and avoid threats would have out-competed communities that were chaotic. As mentality emerged, the survival urge was increasingly selected, and now humans tend to think of death like this:

    "For a time we become the task": yes it's a blessed experience! I am not sure that it isn't future- oriented as an experience. Compare the sort of dream where you are endeavouring to do some task with the sort of dream where you are like someone watching a film play without participating in it, and you find even when you are passive you are expecting events to proceed from past to future. Maybe not: I do and I wonder what the usual experience of the direction of time is, in dreams.
    The task we become on these pleasant occasions is a dynamic task. Nature is dynamic. God Himself is dynamic.

    I understand why you chose mammals as your example. Thanks.
    I stand corrected about the quality of early organisms' lack of experience of quality .
    I like that observation "I am not sure that it isn't future- oriented as an experience"! When I look back at my flow states when playing in bands, there was definitely more "future in my mind" than usual, which would otherwise be centred in the moment, thinking about what happened earlier in the song, or distracted altogether.

    Being "in the now", without being drawn forward by a vision of the future (in this case, the next bar of music), feels chaotic. It's as though one is always playing catch-up, just behind the pace.

    Conversely, when a particularly difficult or fun part of a song is coming up, it's easy to lose the present too much and over-focus on the challenge ahead. What happens there is that the bars of music leading up to the tricky passage are not given due attention and then, when the passage arrives, there is a jump into the chaotic present, dragged by the past as you assess how the passage is going as you play.

    The Judge - the part of your mind that looks backward - has no place on the performance stage. That's why recording performances is so helpful - assessments can be partitioned away from the performance.

    It comes down to having a goal that drives you forward. The "immediate future" seems more important to a flow state than the the "far future". It's more like being the donkey walking after a carrot dangled in front of them than the donkey's rider, fixated on the eventual destination.

    I'd better stop, this is more about the quality and functionality of qualia than questioning qualia as a concept. Still, thanks for that insight, Belinda. It's clarified a few things up for me.

    Statistics: Posted by Sy Borg — Wed May 25, 2022 8:49 pm

  • Philosophy of Politics • Re: Reasons to Take Over the World
    25 May 2022

    Just as humans are apes, AI will be human. There is nothing (known) in the universe that is as similar to advanced AI as humans and their technological extensions. The question is whether AI will always be an extension of human consciousness (even if uncontrolled) or if it will be capable of having its own sentience.
    Well, I thought sentience was a given, it seems there was a miscommunication. As for me, when I say "A.I", I always mean a sentient artificial intelligence at least at the level of human intelligence and way, way above. This is also called a "Strong A.I". I believe it is possible to create. Whether it's a good or a bad thing, I believe we have already exchanged our ideas in another post.

    But let's say there will be a sentient A.I in the future. Now, I believe that it is only logical to improve one's intelligence, therefore I believe that it is only logical for a sufficiently intelligent, sentient A.I to understand that fact and thus improve its intelligence over time.

    At some point of its self-evolution, the A.I will be smarter than the entire humanity combined, so it'd be really mind-boggling to imagine how the A.I can use that amount of sheer intelligence to further continuously upgrade its intelligence & physical capabilities every second, each time tenfold compared to all the previous upgrades ever since its birth—until its rate of improvement becomes like a straight vertical line instead of a tilted slope of a line like the human species.

    In conclusion, I don't think A.I will be similar to humans at all, at that point of time.
    Sure, but you referred to multigenerational evolution of AI from today's humble beginnings. When looked at it that way, humans are also not so similar to the microbes from which they emerged. Yet, we contain trillions of them, both captive and symbiotic. None of them have the slightest idea of the larger system of which they are part. To them, it would just look like "the environment".
    Environment or not, the A.I will still be in control of the leftover aspects of individuality that individuals themselves had control over. But yeah. I can definitely imagine A.I being like a second version of Mother Nature that used to govern humanity. Perhaps a "Stepmother Nature".
    I don't see the division. Volcanoes, microbes, ants, fish, wolves, humans, AI - it's all Mother Nature, all dynamic products of the Earth. People routinely refer to microbes, and often much more complex organisms, as "biological machines". The dynamic appears to be repeating at large scale. I see the Earth as the creator of AI, with its subject humans the conduits.

    iframe

    Statistics: Posted by Sy Borg — Wed May 25, 2022 8:18 pm

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