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2016-08-30
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
If 

(1) all atoms in a form that does consciously experience, would behave the same if individually they had the same surroundings in a form which does not. 

and 

(2) The reasons for the behaviour would be the same in both cases. 

then 

(3) What the form was consciously experiencing is not a reason for any atomic behaviour. 

because given (2) the reasons for each atom's behaviour are the same reasons as when in a form that is not consciously experiencing. 

2016-09-14
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel
I don't.

2016-09-30
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel
If I understand you correctly nor do I.

It could laid out a little more clearly, I think, and then it would be a useful argument. 

2016-10-03
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel
Thanks for the feedback, and here is the idea behind the argument fleshed out slightly more, and aimed at what I believe to be the rough mainstream physics interpretation of reality.

Mainstream physics interpretation: The universe is a physical one and within it is either fundamental matter elements (strings or particles) and fields, or just fields. Whichever it is, the contents participate in making up forms which consciously experience and forms which do not.  A goal of physics is to represent within the physics model the features which directly influence how the fundamental matter elements or a field's likeness of them behave. Those features are the same regardless of whether the matter and/or fields are participating in the composition of forms which consciously experience or not. Therefore the laws of physics do not distinguish between whether the behaviour is taking place within a form which consciously experiences or not.

The problem: The problem with interpreting the evidence we have for reality like that can become apparent when considering when the matter elements(s) and/or field(s) participate in the non-consciously experiencing forms that it posits.  What the conscious experience of such a form is like cannot be one of the features directly influencing the behaviour of any field and/or matter element of the form composition,  because the form is not consciously experiencing, so there is no conscious experience to be like anything.  So if the belief was correct that the direct influential features, that physics is being interpreted as attempting to model, were the same regardless of whether the field and/or matter element was participating in a consciously experiencing form or not, then what the conscious experience was like could not be logically thought to be one of the features directly influencing the behaviour of any field and/or matter element participating in a consciously experiencing form either.

There is no indirect influence which does not directly influence anything.  But if what is consciously experienced is not directly influencing the behaviour of a single field or matter element as the belief has been shown above to imply, then what is it directly influencing (which is not a field or matter element) in order to influence the behaviour of our forms?

If what the conscious experience was like was theorised to have no potential direct influence over anything:  It could not even be an indirect influence to your behaviour.  That would imply that no
consciously experience could ever act as evidence, because to act as evidence it would have to have had direct influence of some kind. So what you consciously experience could not act as evidence that reality is one in which forms have been consciously experienced for example. If you believed that what you consciously experience is evidence to you that reality is one in which forms have been consciously experienced, then it is illogical to hold that belief whilst also holding believing a story which implies that what is consciously experienced has no potential direct influence on anything.

Also if one were to suggest that the fields and/or matter elements consciously experience (in a panpsychic view for example) and that that feature is what one or more of the physics variables refers to, then, it seems to me, that there would still be the issue that the behaviour would reduce to what it was like to be individual fields and/or matter elements, which would be different from what it was like to be a certain arrangement. 

I am not sure whether this form is more useful, but any feedback appreciated.  



2016-10-03
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel
Errr .. would any response I make matter?   As whether I make an attempt at a conscious reply has no actual bearing on whether I make a reply or not. 

Conscious or not has no affect on my behavior (i,e, replying) ...  so whether this is a conscious reply or not is a moot point. 



2016-10-04
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Ian Stuart
Do you think you can tell that reality is not a zombie universe?

2016-10-04
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel
Yes, of course.  My point being that if the behaviour is not linked to conscious choice, then whether I decide to make a reply or not is outside my hands, and the reaction to that response will also be outside my hands . or even outside the reader's hands .. 

2016-10-05
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Ian Stuart
The point I was getting at was that is an implausible "if", because presumably you were basing your claim that you can tell it is not a zombie universe on your knowledge of the fact that you are consciously experiencing (the evidence that you have regarding the issue), and so it did make a difference. Unless you are in denial that it was that evidence you were basing your claim on (and presumably you know whether you were or were not), then like I mentioned in the more fleshed out version of the argument (in the first reply I gave to the post) it would then be illogical to hold the position that what you consciously experience cannot influence your behaviour.

2016-10-05
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel

OK.  I didn’t quite get that from the posts – but after a close re-reading I get that .. I think ... 

Then I’d take issue with this.

(1)    all atoms in a form that does consciously experience, would behave the same if individually they had the same surroundings in a form which does not. 

Medical technology and concepts would disagree with this statement.  While we cannot articulate the link between consciousness and the physical brain, we can demonstrate that such a link exists. 

The range of scans now available can show which parts of the brain are associated with which conscious activities. They can trace chemical changes in the brain associated with the conscious activities. By presenting experimental subjects with a number of mental tasks, the scans show which parts of the brain are active in which activities.

There is also the concept that deep depression is caused by changes in brain chemistry AND (more importantly in this case) deep depression can cause changes in brain chemistry.

This alone would suggest that molecules do behave differently in the same surrounds (a brain) which is conscious.  The consciousness impacts directly on brain chemistry and mechanics, and therefore, behave differently in different activities of the consciousness.

Therefore, this statement, (2) The reasons for the behaviour would be the same in both cases is incorrect.  The reasons for the behaviour of molecules in the brain would be different.

 Then, What the form was consciously experiencing is a reason for any atomic behaviour. 


2016-10-05
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Ian Stuart
Obviously there is a correlation between your brain activity and what you get to consciously experience. Just consider being given an anaesthetic. Regarding your response, I think you have misunderstood the post. It deals with individual atoms, and the surroundings mentioned are the surroundings of an individual atom. Let us consider a hydrogen atom for example. Premise (1) is the chemistry of that hydrogen atom will be the same whether it is in a form that consciously experiences, or whether it is in a form that is not. So any chemical reactions of any atom taking place in a form that is consciously experiencing could be reproduced in a lab if the atoms direct environment (the atoms or molecules surrounding it, temperature etc.) could be reproduced, even though the atoms used to reproduce it would not be regarded as being in a form that does consciously experience. Premise (2) is just suggesting that the reasons for the chemical reactions would be the same, so that a chemist or physicist would not vary their explanation of why the chemical reaction happened depending on whether the chemical reaction happened in a consciously experiencing form, or whether it happens in a form that is not consciously experiencing. So a chemistry book for example does not give one explanation for why the chemistry occurs in a consciously experiencing form, and another for why it would occur in a form that is not consciously experiencing. 
You can disagree with the premises, but do you accept that they are premises made in the mainstream scientific interpretation of reality? The fleshed out argument shows it to be illogical to believe in those premises whilst also believing that what you consciously experience is evidence to you that reality is not a zombie universe.

2016-10-05
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel

Yes, I get that.  I thought about it all the way home and reduced the argument to individual atoms, and it fell into place.   I value this discussion as it has direct bearing on what I am working on at the moment, especially in the area of theories of mind. It’s taking my own thinking along interesting paths.

What I am working on suggests that experience is not evidence of reality.  It is part of how we develop knowledge, but experience is not, in and of itself, evidence that there is a world around us.  However, I do accept that, in general, experience is accepted as such in the philosophies of Europe and its derived cultures.

So I do agree that it is illogical to believe in the premises of the science of Europe and its derived cultures and to accept conscious experience as evidence that this is not a zombie universe. 

I’m reminded of a story by, I think, Vine Deloria, who talked about showing American Indian elders some scientific information.  The elders took it all in, and then laughed.  They were asked if they understood what they had been shown.  The elders responded, yes, they did.  They were asked why they laughed.  The response was “It’s only half the story …”

So, yes, your logic is spot on.  Scientific explanations are only half the story … 

So why?  Where does this go?  What’s the next step?

Quick note; I am coming from an indigenous perspective, and I have stopped using words such as “mainstream” and “western” as they are value-laden and unspecific.  I prefer to talk about the knowledge systems of Europe and its derived cultures, being more specific by swapping “knowledge systems” for science, medicine, philosophy etc. depending on the context. 


2016-10-06
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Ian Stuart
I agree that what we consciously experience is not evidence of a physical world (the film the Matrix touched upon the point that the conscious experience of an object is not evidence of the physical existence of that object), but that does not imply that it is not of reality, indeed what other evidence of reality have we got? 
My own position is that we are spiritual beings (minds) and that this is a spiritual experience we are being given (we are being given our conscious experiences). That mind is all that exists, and we are at the bottom end of the scale of mental capability. Without being given the experience, we would not realise our own existence. It does not appear to me to be a popular view, but I know of no philosophical argument to suggest it is not correct, and so the lack of popularity seems to be cultural biases possibly to do with historical events, rather than a product of sound philosophical reasoning. Whereas the mainstream scientific interpretation of reality as I have shown is illogical given that I know I can tell that reality is not a zombie universe. That reality is not a zombie universe is a fact I cannot be wrong about. 

2016-10-18
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel
How would you respond to the concept that our thoughts are only by-products of the chemical reactions in our brains and that the concepts of consciousness and free will is an illusion? The illusion being one of the by-products of the chemical reactions in or brains.

2016-10-18
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Ian Stuart
Well with free will, it could be asserted that we do not have free will, but I am not aware of any convincing argument for that position, so do not understand why you think it should hold any weight. The strongest argument of that type that I am aware of is from Galen Strawson, which is actually an argument that we cannot behave in a way that would make us morally responsible. The idea being that even if you had free will, you would have a preference for which way to choose, and you would not be responsible for the preference. But in response I would suggest that in the act of choosing you set your preference, and if that is said to be asking too much from free will, then I would suggest that the conclusion was being assumed. 

Regarding consciousness being an illusion, then if you mean that it is an illusion that we consciously experience then my response would be that illusions entail consciously experiencing so it would be impossible to have the illusion of consciously experiencing. If you mean that we only have the belief that what we consciously experience has any qualitative characteristics, then I would argue that that would be a different experience from what we, or at least I, have. In a similar way to which having the belief that you are experiencing a herd of flying pink elephants when the qualitative character of what you are experiencing is as it is now would be a different experience from having the belief that you were experiencing a herd of flying pink elephants while having a conscious experience which had the qualitative characteristics of the herd also. 




2016-10-20
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Glenn Spigel
Thank you.  I like this discussion.  It's still taking my mind down some very interesting paths - completely relevent to what I am working on.
I'm not convinced by arguments for the position that we do not have free will - I remain usure.  

In a previous post you said  "I agree that what we consciously experience is not evidence of a physical world."  Your answer now seems dependent on our experiences of our own consciousness. 

I would respond with a similar question.  Can you really distinguish an experience of free will from an experience of non-free will, given that we do experience ourselves as having free will?  Which is the illusion?

Or the classic problem of the butterfly dreaming she's a woman, which changes to a woman dreaming she's a butterfly, to a butterfly dreaming she's a woman. 

How would you tell based on the qualitative character of each experience? I suppose I am asking: What are the qualitative differences? 


2016-10-20
Can anyone see a problem with this reasoning?
Reply to Ian Stuart
Hi Ian, 

Regarding being able to tell that we have free will, I am not suggesting that we can, because I am not suggesting that if God wanted to give us an experience of thinking we were influencing the behaviour of the form when we weren't that we could tell. By the way, regarding the usual Free Will  arguments, I do not know if you have read the work of E.Jonathan Lowe regarding agent causation vs event causation? I found Chapter 6 of his book Personal Agency, The Metaphysics of Mind and Action useful. 

Regarding the butterfly and the woman, from my perspective, in this "room" or universe, there are rules on how we will tend to experience the neural state of the butterfly or the woman if we were to be given the experience of being either one of those forms. And those rules would tend to mean that the experience of having a butterfly form would be different from the experience of having a female human form (the neural states being different). So even if it turned out that those, if any (and I doubt there are any), given the experience of having a butterfly form were also given the experience of dreaming I would not expect the dream to be similar to the experience of being given the experience of having a female human which is dreaming. I would not expect that a butterfly dream would involve any use of human languages for example.