Consciousness and the Cosmos

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Canute, Aug 25, 2003.

  1. Canute Registered Senior Member

    True - but it's difficult to do, all these things are connected.

    I suspect we'll be wondering that forever. Likewise the other way around.

    I can't explain it. I'm just trying to support the view that it's a better assumption than the opposite one.

    Yeah, we should watch out for this.
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  3. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Too many re's

    And, as this thread has established, this applies to consiousness as well.

    Here again, one can just as well propose that the single on thing that exists is physical. IOW a universe that is ultimately only geometry or whatnot fits the criteria for a monist explanation of the world. That's really I've been trying to point out in this thread.

    Not the consciousness we know of. Let's take a look at some of the aspects of the human mind. We have the perception of the 5 senses, sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Each is complex. For example, with vision we have countless different colors to percieve, with touch countless different sensations, and so on. Then we have the perception of emotions, which are also quite complex. Of course there is then our ability to think, which ties all those complex perceptions together. This is hardly a simple susbstance.

    Not if you want it to be able to explain our complex experiences.

    Though it's funny you should mention the razor. What is being proposed is a mind which exists in such a way that it is perfectly fine tuned to trick us into believing in an external world, as if created by a being in a vast conspiracy against us. If you hold to Occam's razor, idealism should be ruled out. It is not a simple explanation in it's own right, and pales in comparison to a geometric explanation.

    Quite honestly, I reject idealism because I'm not into conspiracy theories. As I said before, if idealism is true, someone has gone through a lot of trouble to trick us. For example, why in the world would human brains have a functioning visual cortex if the mind and perception doesn't actually occur there? The world seems to bare too much resemblance to a universe where physicalism is true for idealism to seem plausible.

    Guth certainly knows more cosmology and physics than most posters here, but his philosophy is in question here. His lazy thinking gives other physicists a bad name.

    That's a copout, because nothing ever observed can be observed without an observer. The idea of a 4D static space is logically consistent - without the need for it to be embedded in a mind.

    There is nothing wrong with something being made of nothing. A fundemental object must necessarily be so. Regardless, we can still list properties of a fundemental object, such as length.


    I'm arguing that idealism cannot provide any answers that physicalism cannot, at least in terms of ontology.

    There is also the dualism of many eastern traditions, with a ying and yang view of the universe, but it doesn't seem to fit in with the idea of objects themselves only possesing 2 properties. You seem to be arguing that existence must be monist, which makes me assume you are then arguing against the opposite dualist worldview. It doesn't mean consciousness or anything only has one property. And at rate, for anything to be able to explain the part of existence we experience, a substance must have many properties.
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  5. ProCop Valued Senior Member


    This maybe the problem we (as humans) face. Basically a substance has only one property: substanceness. We cannot understand this one property, and therefore we analise it into many sub/properties. We cannot consider effectively substanceness as we efectivelly cannot consider nothingness. Let's travel into the past and kill Aristotle...
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  7. zagen Philophanian Registered Senior Member

    Here is your main problem Canute

    What i got from your first post about this is that you wanted things to be explainable. Like why anything at all exists. When you want existance to be explainable it doesn't help to have your hypothesis create something else that is unexplainable. That would be the opposite of Occam's razor.

    The main reasons why philosophies like this don't work is because you want it to be this way. They don't help explain anything usually, they only make it more appealing to the populace. Take for instance religion, that is exactly what most religions do. They tell you what you would like to hear, that evil ppl get punished and good ppl get awarded, things like that.

    The most successful philosophies don't tell us what we want to hear necisairly but what appears to be correct, what is reasonable, and can be reached through logic, maybe even through scientific testing also.

    I'm not trying to tell you your ideas aren't good, just that we would all like things to be different than what they seem sometimes, but just because we don't want it to be that way doesn't mean we can change it by looking at it differently. What most ppl do instead of changing the way most things are viewed is to change the reason why they don't like that way.

    Basically what i'm saying is, think about why you don't like the way things are now and see if you can change that instead.

    "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." – Tolstoy
  8. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Re: Too many re's

    I've never suggested otherwise. You fail to see the significance and usefulness of taking this as an axiom rather than as a conclusion.

    One day you will look up the full meaning of the terms dualism and monism. No offence - but you always misinterpret what it means, which means we go in circles.

    You're talking about mind as usual.

    A geometric explanation is dual. Logically speaking you might as well say it started with jam dounuts.

    So do I, and neither an I.

    You miss my point.

    Guth certainly knows more cosmology and physics than most posters here, but his philosophy is in question here. His lazy thinking gives other physicists a bad name. [/B][/QUOTE]
    I've no idea what his philosophy is. However it would be better if you addressed his words rather than dismissed him as lazy.

    It's not a copout, it's the way it is. I'm not responsible for how the world works. If you mean that it's logically consistent that 4D space exists independent of mind then I'd be interested to see you prove it. It may be true and it may be false.

    Well in that case we're wasting our time. I cannot accept creation ex nihilo. Have you read Sartre on nothingness, or anything on the problem of substance and qualities?

    You said it was basic logic, and nothing to argue about. I was suggesting that basic logic is all we can argue about, and what we are arguing about.

    I disagree but no matter, I am not proposing idealism.

    Whose idea was that?

    That seems muddled but I think I agree with it.

    I'm not sure this discussion is going to move on unless you check out what the terms dualism and monism (in their metaphysical and epistemelogical sense) really mean.
  9. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Re: REflection

    Quite agree - esp. re Aristotle.
  10. Canute Registered Senior Member

    I can see how you thought this, but it is a misunderstanding. My hypothesis doesn't create anything.

    Aargh - religion. Are you suggesting that philosophies that one wants to work can't work precisely because one wants them to work? Hmm, it's a novel idea.

    Couldn't agree more, except that logic does have some limits.

    I don't want to make anything different to what it seems. In fact I think things are exactly as they seem. Do you think I'm just in search of self-importance or reassurance?

    I'm quite happy with the world as it is thanks, give or take a few billion human beings. You're mistaken in reading wishful thinking into my hypothesis rather than (imo of course) just common sense.

    You're right to say that many people adopt 'philosophies' because they're in search of some comfort. But please note that I'm not one of them. Sure I'm into Buddhism, but I got there via logical positivism and devout scepticism, and I remain an atheist.
  11. zagen Philophanian Registered Senior Member

    I think it does creat the idea that conciousness came before physical matter which you cant explain.

    I didn't mean that they dont work because ppl want them to work, only that it's a trend, that when ppl make their philosophies that they want they usually become only what they want, not rleating to reality.

    That is just from your first paragraph i picked out which all seem to be personally motivated. Now i know some of it may be out of context, but you whole overtone to your arguemnt has seemed to be your hoping that the universe has answers where you want there to be, and because you don't understand why there isn't.

    Though I very much agree that it is common sense to wonder about such subjects and to hypothesise anything that seems rational. It's just your hypothesis has holes (such as wondering where conciousness came from even though it's near nothing) and like everyone else has said, doesn't seem to answer the question why there's something rather than nothing. You seem to want to have the classic idea of a small (near nothing state, conciousness) grow into a larger (physical state) because it seems nicer and is easier to understand.

    I'm sorry if it seems like i'm trying to attack you personally or anything, but i actually have seen this argument or it's like before and was concluded (by a much smarter person than me) very soon after it was proposed by simple, but a lot of logic. But i do not remember his exact ideas to contradict your hypothesis, which is why i didnt bring it up before. But since it doesn't seem like this argument can be concluded I thought i would add it before i moved on.

    Edit: I thought this link might be helpful on why conciousness starts in the physical world.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2003
  12. Canute Registered Senior Member

  13. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Re: Re: Too many re's

    I don't know what you mean.

    Given the context of these discussions, I don't see how your use of the word could be interpreted to mean anything other than the dualism of mind and matter. What exactly are you trying to say about it? You haven't clarified. In any case, consciousness cannot offer anything special that something physical cannot.

    Consciousness and the mind are inseperable, at least to us. Even if you want to try to claim that consciousness is somehow a seperate "thing" in it's own right, you still have to explain how it can create our very complicated experiences. This is especially true given that you want to claim consciousness is all that actually exists. If it is, then is must be complex enough to produce a human mind. There is nothing simple here.

    Here again you must clarify on what you mean, precisely. I've given some examples of dualistic schools of thought (eastern, mind/matter) but you seem to be talking about something else. What exactly about geometry is dual? Then how do you turn around and say consciousness does not suffer from the same problem?

    Well that's really what this is all about, isn't it? What is your point, Canute?

    On that thought, the idea that consciousness is all that exists, typically is called idealism. Mind and consciousness are usually also not taken as seperate things. But it shouldn't change the argument, because if consciousness is all there is, why does the world we experience reek so much of physicalism? Why does it look exactly like a world where the physical actually does exist? If we're talking about which hypothesis is a simpler one (physical or consciousness) then this is a very important question.

    Prove it? Do you recall that something logically consistent is a proposal that suffers from no self inconsistencies? Since a 4D universe does have any such contradictions, by definition it is logically consistent. Unless of course, you know of any. There, that was easy.

    It has nothing to do with creation ex nihilo, as I've said. It just means (being made of nothing) that a fundemental object is not made of other, smaller objects. A string for example, has it's own properties and is not made of smaller particles. That's all it means.

    I don't see how existential drivel is relevant here.

    You can't argue about logical consistency. You can only argue about the premises of arguments.

    Actually, I think it's you who will have to clarify here. I've already provided some examples of dualism, but you haven't clarified what exactly you have in mind. For example, what exactly about geometry do you consider dualist, and then contrast it with consciousness, which does not? Clarifiy, and we can move on.
  14. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Re: REflection

    Substance is just a broad term to denote something with it's own existence. We might as try to consider existence as a property as well. But any substance we examine will have attributes we call properties.

    For example, imagine a fundemental string. Now I will ignore quantum aspects for now, as they shouldn't change the point too much. At rest, it would appear that this vague notion of "substanceness" is more precisely length. That is, the string's only structure is length. But wait. The string is constantly vibtrating, and so that is classified as a property. Then there is the specific geometry of this length, which can take an infinite number of possible forms, and of course is constantly changing. That is another property. So we have 3 fundemental properties, until we do add the quantum aspects, which adds the wave function as another property the string cannot be without.

    So anything fundemental is likely to have many attributes we label as properties.
  15. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    On Alan Guth

    Let's just say a lazy philosopher. From the book you posted, he wonders why there is something rather than nothing. He was interviewed about his philosophy on this topic a while back. His solution is that the universe erupted from nothing as a quantum fluctuation. The writer doing the interview pointed out that if the universe emerged as a quantum fluctuation, the laws of physics would need to pre exist spacetime. He also pointed out that such a state is not "nothing", and that all Guth was doing with his "solution" was passing the torch from the question of why the universe exists, to why the laws of physics exist. Guth had to agree this was the case. He was trying to answer a question with the wrong answer - that is an answer to a complete different question, ie. why does the physical universe exist. He wasn't doing philosophy at all.

    Also, the fact that he complains that the existence of spacetime seems arbitrary, then turns around and postulates the existence of any old arbitrary laws of physics, shows he hasn't put much thought into the issue. Never mind how silly the idea of abstract laws of physics existing without the quantum field(s) they govern is.
  16. Canute Registered Senior Member

    So why does the universe exist isn't a philosophical question? He was a bad philosopher who wasn't doing philosophy? It's all too confusing. Frankly I couldn't care less whether his philosophy is good or bad, that's a red herring you introduced. I mentioned him as an example that physics is actually quite interested in how and why the universe arose, it isn't some arcane branch of alchemy .

    I quite agree. But what's your point? You propose geometry as being fundamental, which seems to be the same view.
  17. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Re: Re: REflection

    Of course any substance will have properties. There is no evidence that a substance is any more than its properties. What is left after you take away the qualities of a thing? This is a well know dilemma.

    And this is logical thinking? An entity can have length and no other property?

    This is perfectly obviously a non sequitor.
  18. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    No, but he's attempting to pass off the answer to that question as an answer for why anything at all exists. That is the problem I have with him.

    Well, he's trying.

    The question has nothing to do with why anything at all exists, however. To think that Guth or other scientists are actually working on that question is incorrect.

    It is much more simple to propose that the geometric world we experience today has existed forever, than to propose it was pre-existed by some unimaginable state where only some arbitrary laws of physics existed. It is also a position that does not pretend to answer the question of there is something rather than nothing.
  19. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Re: Re: Re: REflection

    Take away an object's properties and it no longer exists. Not much of a dilemma.

    Yes, why not? Are you going to say there is a logical inconsistency with the idea?

    How so?
  20. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Well OK. But it doesn;t matter. My point was that my question is not unrespectable.

    I agree with you that he's failing. I would argue it's for the same reason that physicalist arguments always fail.

    He is working on why the universe eixts, what conditions led to its existence. That's good enough for me.

    That's a sneaky use of 'arbitrary'. Take that out and I don't think you'd be able to prove your case. However I agree with you.

    I didn't think it did. It is not askable within a physicalist cosmogeny.

    I've missed one of your posts above. I'm not going to go back and work through it because I don't feel that you're considering the arguments properly. I don't mind knocking it back and forth forever but my impression is that you don't like the idea, or what you think is the idea (idealism indeed), and therefore you're not interested in understanding what I'm trying to say. Still, perhaps I explained badly. Either way we are going in circles. Let's just agree to differ.
  21. ProCop Valued Senior Member


    Let's consider an (simple) example: numberness (the basis quality of being a number). The basis quality of a number eg. number 2 is not 2 < 3 or 2 > 1 but it is its <i>comparableness</i> to other numbers. (eg. lineness is then not determined by the length of the line but by its shape ( it is not a circle)). Qualities which specify <i>what</i> the substance is are a step further (2nd level) than what I meant by substanceness. Anyway, I stated clearly that I was not able to specify the basis quality of substanceness, I only proposed that the qualities used to describe a substance, were skipping the fundamental quality of substanceness (which in my number comparition is on higher level than any actual (meassuareable) quality).
  22. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Honestly, I don't think I'm not giving enough consideration to your arguments. It's that I don't know exactly what it is you are arguing. IOW, I'm actually trying to figure out what exactly are you trying to say about consciousness. A little clarity would go a long way.
  23. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Re: RE:Beercules

    Ok, I'm not quite clear on what you mean. Let's take a string and use it as a working example. What fundemental property or quality would you say is missing if we define it's main attributes to be length, geometry, vibrtaion and wave function? Can it be labeled at all?

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