This prominent scientist says life is meaningless… and he’s serious |314|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, May 10, 2016.

  1. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    Can you explain what you mean by saying that my comment is emotional?
     
  2. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    Hi Stephen
    You misunderstood my comment.
    I was referring to the personal meaning of life in this world for conscious souls

    About your notion of meaning and information:
    Meaning refers to an experiencing subjective consciousness – a knower
    That is the proper use of the word; ditto with information
    Your notion of meaning as an inherent ontological quality in objective reality is a projection of your mental model
    which collapses the meaning of meaning into a meaningless term
    Any aspect of objective reality can be meaningful information for an experiencing consciousness
    But meaning and information refer to a process in the cognising consciousness

    The issue for you I submit may be that you want a model of reality which excludes consciousness as a distinct existent. And even though your model is entirely subjective and mental – existing only in your personal subjective consciousness – you want it to be completely objective and true of Reality

    That is where the danger of fundamentalism comes in
    When we begin to believe that the nature and structure of Reality is identical with our personal beliefs

    It is useful to develop and present your kind of computational perspective on reality as a metaphor or model which may provide useful insights and agency and technology. But I submit it is not useful to conflate ones model with ontological objective Reality

    The history of science is replete with models which have outlived their usefulness and been discarded. That is the way it ought to be and will continue to be as human knowing and science grows and expands and hopefully deepens

    Mistaking our mental constructions to explain Reality for Reality itself is the most common human intellectual error and obstruction to science and truth

    Just my views

    All the best
     
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  3. Stephen Wright

    Stephen Wright New

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    My rough sketch model as posted here, is surely not clear. I am not looking for a notion or a mental model. I am looking for data and predictive procedures that can be searched for patterns revealing structure in nature. The study of Psychology is a valid science and can teach us a lot about the factual side of the behavior of living things, from an 3rd person view.

    It makes sense to talk of YOUR or MY body. But in fact,the atoms that we both feel ownership of - are really just part of the physical environment we all inhabit. We are not just our inner environment - when it comes to meaningful events and actual occasions. Objectively each person can be observed in their environment.

    Personal meaning is a real thing, but it is only part of a bigger picture. Objective circumstance in our many environments can be seen as objective meaning and it conforms to natural logic (such as found in natural languages like DNA/RNA, in understanding sound as rhythm and music, etc). The sum total of universal meaning is not in the nerve cells of earth's primates. It includes the biotic environments of all living things as well.
     
  4. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    What you seem to be overlooking is that your search….
    “for data and predictive procedures that can be searched for patterns revealing structure in nature”
    …which is the universal endeavour of all truth-seeking human-beings
    Is an endeavour which is carried out in mind by subjective consciousnesses using mental capacities, models, schema etc

    It is important in the philosophical bigger picture to be clear that although our mental models give us real knowledge and agency in objective reality, they are not themselves objective reality. This has been clearly demonstrated time and again in the records of human intellectual endeavour

    You are correct that our bodies are part of the earth; specifically of the biosphere; and we know the earth through their senses and our mental capacities.
    But if you will observe your own knowing, you will immediately see it is completely subjective and inner; and everything in your life that is meaningful for you is known to you as meaningful within your own personal consciousness

    From what you say you are a monist of the physicalist or objective form. I know you deny this, but all you are doing is applying the computational model of information processing to material reality; replacing the physical atoms or quarks or strings - or any other theoretical ultimate physical bit you care to use - with computer bits. You are replacing atoms with bits and physical processes with logic

    So it's all mixed up
    Physical stuff (whatever it really is) belongs in objective material reality
    Logic belongs in rational minds
    And bits belong as elementary states in computers

    Being a monist of the physicalist or objective form means that subjective consciousness cannot be accommodated satisfactorily in your model; so it is occluded or ignored; and thinking – or mentally modelling the environment is characterised in your understanding as if it were an objective environmental process.
    But all you have to do is become aware of your awareness and your thinking to see that it is not an objective environmental process. It is radically subjective and mental; inner and private and personal

    It is useful to apply computational information theory models to reality; but it is not useful to confuse or conflate the two
     
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  5. Stephen Wright

    Stephen Wright New

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    very amusing. Elementary states refer to the states of matter. I have no idea what an elementary state is - in a computer. A bit is a binary digit. It is a numerical/logical concept.

    I don't think you understand at all, the ideas I am trying to convey. They are not complex ideas - just new to you, I will be able to refer to published works by others on most matters I am presenting. You are guessing all over the place, and answering with normative ideas that are as old as the hills. You respond without referencing the significant terms. Do you know what an object-oriented program is?
    http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/object-oriented-programming

    Before human minds - our natural environment used logical and entropic strategies, such as DNA/RNA programming. Let me try again to point out - Sean Carroll thinks there is no meaning in interacting particles; except that which we mentally assign them.

    This is a fallacy, as glaring as the idea that the earth is flat.

    I am responding that relations between particles can be more or less ordered and can form meaningful patterns where living things can create information objects that predict actions in their environments -- billions of years before the human mind existed.
     
  6. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    Yes you are right I have no idea what you are talking about
    All the best
     
  7. Stephen Wright

    Stephen Wright New

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    I can understand your disdain. Sorry to be firm. IR and Luciano Floridi are brand new on the scene. However, it should be noted that in 2008 he was the first philosopher/logician awarded the very prestigious Gauss Professorship, in its history of funding research for physicists and theoretical mathematicians.

    The idea of a "substantial" object - made up of meaningful probable futures and bits of data - goes against the heart of our innate perception of the world. 5 senses detect reality and the mind describes it - is what every person knows. I assert that mind is sense that detects ambient information objects.

    Now it is time to consider living things, embedded in the the environment, as receivers and organizers of energy, materials, opportunities and bytes of data..

    http://www.socphilinfo.org/node/79
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
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  8. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    I quote this directly from the piece you quoted....

    "Please note the words “will be described as”. They are important as they stress that the entity is described in those terms, not that a human being – or any other entity – is only or essentially a cluster a data. It is just a way of looking at entities or, more correctly, the explicit choice of a Level of Abstraction"

    and I repeat the important passages that state what I have been failing to explain to you....

    It is not that a human being is a cluster of data. It is just a way of looking at entities. It is the explicit choice of a level of abstraction.

    I cannot put it any clearer than those words which you yourself chose to post

    But since you posted them, I doubt you will understand even now

    ps: look up the term bit - and you will learn that as well as being a mental construct a bit is also an elementary state of a device in a computing mechanism
    ie the basis of a computer is a device that has two possible states eg open or closed, conceptualised as 0 or 1
    The modern computer has lots of these devices
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  9. solarplexus

    solarplexus Member

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    It's taken me a while to listen to this episode due to the nature of the thing. I've run out of other historical episodes, so finally go around to listening to this guy. Heh. Hope it's all right to revive this thread. The below is about the podcast, not the 18 pages of forum thus far.

    This brand of conversation always leaves me wondering, "What does it take?" In this particular talk, I ending wondering more pointedly if there is some line of logical dialectic that might invite such a person to reconsider their position.

    It's almost like you need to preface the conversation with truth serum or an NLP barrier breakdown to bring both parties into a state of mutual willingness to see the other side. And then you have to have an arbiter to ensure that certain points can't be sidestepped without being addressed.

    The hard stuff of this disconnect, though, may be that we're stuck measuring Sean's "science" with materialism-based tools for the most part. He doesn't like the storytelling- / witness-based evidence that NDE research relies on, I imagine (many of his camp don't). He wants a machine that can see consciousness; with this as a starting point, where can he go?

    Most folks don't appreciate that science itself is not exact. Experiments always come to their conclusions after N trials are decided as sufficiently compelling by a human element. That's not fact. In the end, we're choosing where and what to believe. Gravity happens a lot. It's not proven, though. In fact, we don't know why it happens. We just have data that implies stuff and we agree that it's pretty likely to still happen tomorrow.

    So Sean doesn't want to learn about NDE research. That's not really surprising. He's got a paradigm he's happy with.

    While I appreciate the staying power Alex shows by continuing the conversation, I tend to wonder if it's even possible to steer this ship. At least as a public forum, this might be helpful to the fence sitters or truly curious.

    This is useful to consider: Once after lots of NDE reading and frustratingly fruitless conversation with atheists, I happened to open the Bible (hadn't opened it lately; serendipity...). The chapter I'd opened up to was John 9. As I read, I found the metaphor encouraging and it stuck with me: Jesus heals a blind man and incenses the Pharisees. At 9:18 these mainstream fundamentalists are so committed to their disbelief that they start doubting he was ever blind or that his parents have the right guy. On and on, they grasp at various other unlikely explanations.

    This is what I see when I talk to guys like Sean anymore. I'm ready to let them sort it out later. It doesn't frustrate me as much because I've come to accept that there's no amount of proof that will convince them. Hey, you could have Jesus Christ come and heal your local blind-from-birth guy and they'll still doubt it. Maybe they need to open up from within at some point. Or have their own NDE. Even having another atheist switch sides doesn't do it for them ('member that guy?).

    Thanks, Alex. Always appreciate the podcast and the subject matter you're after.
     
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  10. Alex

    Alex New

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    I've come to a similar poisition. my personal spiritual mantra/question for this situation:
    6. Is it possible those who think differently (about rather obvious stuff like this) are on their own journey?

    my process of getting to this little bit of occasional acceptance has been a growth thing for me :) i.e. I never really believed that people like Sean were for real... I thought it was some kinds of act or something.
     
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  11. malf

    malf Member

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    It has been my experience that many skeptics think the same about proponents, the "how can they really think that?" response... It is good to move past this, for both 'sides'.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  12. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    But Carrol is no skpetic.
    He isn't skeptical at all about his radical conviction that "we got it all figured out" and that scientific reductionism "explains it all".

    He might be good at what he does (and I personally think so) but his intellect doesn't strike ma as that of a "great thinker". He's a good physicist rambling about ultimate questions and pretty much making a fool of himself. History of science is full of those characters. :D

    Cheers
     
  13. solarplexus

    solarplexus Member

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    I think this is what keeps pulling me back: I keep expecting to eventually hear something close to a solid, logical argument. And hopefully I'd be able to spot where it's flawed, point it out to them and they'd kindly reply, "Oh, huh, yeah. Ok, sure. I think I see how that would be. Cool. Thanks."

    I have had similarly disheartening results from talking with fundamentalists.

    Naive fantasy, but my love of both the topic and of mutual logic is really willing and waiting for such a talk to transpire someday.
     
  14. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Well when people have personal anomalous experiences that's one reason why they "believe in that stuff"
     
  15. solarplexus

    solarplexus Member

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    Right, I agree and understand. I'm on that side :) It's interesting/baffling that there's a whole camp devoted to invalidating so many people's real and awe-inspiring experiences. To what end?
     
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  16. malf

    malf Member

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    I wasn't talking about Carrol.
     
  17. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    Regardless of motivation, attempting to invalidate people's real experiences is surely folly.
     
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  18. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    Well ... You quoted Alex referring to Carrol ;)
     

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