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Jon
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February 24, 2012, 11:22:19 PM
 #21

Two or more identical perceptions does not entail death of the former. It does not refute the possibility of reincarnation.

The Communists say, equal labour entitles man to equal enjoyment. No, equal labour does not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you have laboured and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then – ‘it serves you right.’ If you take the enjoyment, it is your right.
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February 25, 2012, 12:06:21 AM
 #22

Two or more identical perceptions does not entail death of the former. It does not refute the possibility of reincarnation.

I'm not quite agreeing with you, from a common sense point of view.

Also, on a different note, consider this: you lose consciousness, for whatever reason, i.e. being put under for surgery, passing out, sleep, etc. When you regain consciousness, what does that mean, exactly? The most likely scenario is you only think you were the person you were before you lost consciousness, precisely because you have those memories - in a sense, you are fooled into believing you exist as something moving through time.

Let's take it further. For most every conscious instant of your life, you possess the memory of being what you were, thus you have this sense of identity, whereas the truth of the matter is, you might as well be the recreated replica of yourself as Captain Kirk is when he beams down to a planet.

To reiterate: Captain Kirk steps into the transporter room and is vaporized - killed. His form is recreated exactly on the planet's surface at the molecular level, and thus the new Captain Kirk has the memories of the former Captain Kirk, and thus believes he is the former Captain Kirk, but he isn't. The former Captain Kirk is dead.

However, this isn't just happening to Captain Kirk. It happens to everyone, every moment of their life.
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February 26, 2012, 09:30:04 AM
 #23

Haha another thread on this. I will move my discussion here (unless first ascent wishes to keep them separate).

My understanding of Chalmers is based on reading this and this. Basically, I disagree with him because he does not really consider why we accept other fundamental concepts (instead he accepts them without requiring an explanation of "why"), and he ignores that the ineffability of experience may be due to the serial structure of language rather than that consciousness arises due to fundamental aspects of our universe (more degrees of freedom in response to changes in surroundings -> higher consciousness). From this we can gather that limitations on communication make it impossible to describe your experiances to an entity that is either more or less conscious than you. If every "conscious" entity is different in some way, then consciousness is indeed ineffable.

Star Trek transporters:
The transporters are designed to only use the energy from the vaporization to prevent the creation of multiple replicates. Of course this fails when you see people being transported from locations without transports, an external source of energy would be needed to accomplish this feat... but you could still design it to only have access to enough energy to replicate one person. I guess things could go wrong, especially when transporting more than one person, but whatever... it's star trek. The biology technobabble drives me crazy, they could have just paid a biologist some small amount of money to consult rather than have the characters spout nonsense to millions of people. I guess it wasn't worth it since most people just don't care either way.

The molecules that make up a person are "fungible".
E= mc^2. The important thing is which molecules are in which position in space relative to each other. So in essence "the self" is a form of very high resolution spatial coordinates of a wide set of molecules. There is space-time and energy, the way that energy is distributed throughout space-time is the most basic form of "information". If the distribution of energy was uniform, there would be only two pieces of information: The total energy and the volume of space-time. For currently unknown reasons the distribution of energy is non-uniform. This is observable fact, and all of the "Hard Questions" are ultimately different approaches to determining why the distribution of energy is non-uniform. Some theories rely on the idea (chalmers) that information is as/more fundamental than distribution of energy.

Why is there space-time and why is there energy?

This is like asking why 1=1. It is hardwired in our brains to understand that 1=1. If what was previously thought to be "one" is actually divisible upon further examination, then ok. This is an error due to understanding the degree of granularity, not a problem with 1=1. As far as anyone can derive from what has been observed the the granularity is determined by the planck constant:



The total energy available to the universe is estimable if we assume the speed of light is independent of spatial coordinates, the rate of expansion of the universe is constant, and the distribution of energy is constant if smoothed at large scales.  (arguable, and if the rate of expansion of the universe continues to accelerate we will never have a way know if this is really true outside of "time travel"). The second factor is the upper bound on the wavelength of light, which is currently considered to be infinite. An upper bound on the wavelength (or mathematical proof it could not exist) would be the most important number ever measured.

So it may be impossible to "prove" that 1 always equals 1, regardless of what our brains are capable of comprehending.

Our brains have the structure they do because:
It is a robust solution to the problem of "make this species (species=capable of breeding) reproduce at a faster rate than they die " in the context of "an environment that unpredictably changes over the course of time". Understanding the nature of the universe has been irrelevant to this process, except in the context of relative rhetorical skill, and leadership ability. There is no reason we should expect to be able to comprehend concepts of 1/=1, etc (e.g. "consciousness") outside of how it allows us to predict the behavior of other systems (the most relevant and unpredictable of which is other humans) based on our past experience.

If there was evidence that 1 did not equal 1, could language describe this in a way that "satisfied" those that did not spend a lifetime examining the data and modelling it? I think not. The problem of communicating "experience" needs to be addressed before drawing conclusions as to the nature of "experience", "consciousness", etc.

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February 26, 2012, 04:38:28 PM
 #24

Star Trek transporters:
The transporters are designed to only use the energy from the vaporization to prevent the creation of multiple replicates. Of course this fails when you see people being transported from locations without transports, an external source of energy would be needed to accomplish this feat... but you could still design it to only have access to enough energy to replicate one person. I guess things could go wrong, especially when transporting more than one person, but whatever... it's star trek. The biology technobabble drives me crazy, they could have just paid a biologist some small amount of money to consult rather than have the characters spout nonsense to millions of people. I guess it wasn't worth it since most people just don't care either way.

Energy input is irrelevant. One could just as well discuss the teleporters in the lab of Jeff Goldblum's character in The Fly. The point is, given a perfectly good transporter (not one which mixes your DNA with a fly's DNA), would you use the transporter?

As for the rest of what you said, in time...
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February 26, 2012, 05:27:15 PM
 #25

Star Trek transporters:
The transporters are designed to only use the energy from the vaporization to prevent the creation of multiple replicates. Of course this fails when you see people being transported from locations without transports, an external source of energy would be needed to accomplish this feat... but you could still design it to only have access to enough energy to replicate one person. I guess things could go wrong, especially when transporting more than one person, but whatever... it's star trek. The biology technobabble drives me crazy, they could have just paid a biologist some small amount of money to consult rather than have the characters spout nonsense to millions of people. I guess it wasn't worth it since most people just don't care either way.

Energy input is irrelevant. One could just as well discuss the teleporters in the lab of Jeff Goldblum's character in The Fly. The point is, given a perfectly good transporter (not one which mixes your DNA with a fly's DNA), would you use the transporter?

As for the rest of what you said, in time...

Yep if they got the error down to less than what occurs in an hour it would be worth it. Maybe even a day or a couple months of error.  Star trek never explored this but the error could make you smarter, it is more likely accelerate the slow dying process though. But look at how many people play the lottery...
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February 26, 2012, 05:37:38 PM
 #26

My understanding of Chalmers is based on reading this and this.

Your exposure to Chalmers is limited. Let's call this fact A.

Basically, I disagree with him because he does not really consider why we accept other fundamental concepts (instead he accepts them without requiring an explanation of "why")...

See fact A, above. Why would you assume this?

... and he ignores that the ineffability of experience may be due to the serial structure of language rather than that consciousness arises due to fundamental aspects of our universe (more degrees of freedom in response to changes in surroundings -> higher consciousness). From this we can gather that limitations on communication make it impossible to describe your experiances to an entity that is either more or less conscious than you. If every "conscious" entity is different in some way, then consciousness is indeed ineffable.

Conscious experience does not defy description. It is in fact quite easy to relate one's experience to another. Do not confuse sharing of experience with understanding the causal relationships which give rise to consciousness.
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February 26, 2012, 05:41:39 PM
 #27

Star Trek transporters:
The transporters are designed to only use the energy from the vaporization to prevent the creation of multiple replicates. Of course this fails when you see people being transported from locations without transports, an external source of energy would be needed to accomplish this feat... but you could still design it to only have access to enough energy to replicate one person. I guess things could go wrong, especially when transporting more than one person, but whatever... it's star trek. The biology technobabble drives me crazy, they could have just paid a biologist some small amount of money to consult rather than have the characters spout nonsense to millions of people. I guess it wasn't worth it since most people just don't care either way.

Energy input is irrelevant. One could just as well discuss the teleporters in the lab of Jeff Goldblum's character in The Fly. The point is, given a perfectly good transporter (not one which mixes your DNA with a fly's DNA), would you use the transporter?

As for the rest of what you said, in time...

Yep if they got the error down to less than what occurs in an hour it would be worth it. Maybe even a day or a couple months of error.  Star trek never explored this but the error could make you smarter, it is more likely accelerate the slow dying process though. But look at how many people play the lottery...

So you would submit yourself to being killed? I'm assuming then that you equate teleportation to that of waking up in the morning, or more accurately, the idea that every moment of your life is like being killed and reborn, where your current state is only related to your prior state because you have the memory of the prior state.
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February 26, 2012, 06:33:03 PM
 #28

Star Trek transporters:
The transporters are designed to only use the energy from the vaporization to prevent the creation of multiple replicates. Of course this fails when you see people being transported from locations without transports, an external source of energy would be needed to accomplish this feat... but you could still design it to only have access to enough energy to replicate one person. I guess things could go wrong, especially when transporting more than one person, but whatever... it's star trek. The biology technobabble drives me crazy, they could have just paid a biologist some small amount of money to consult rather than have the characters spout nonsense to millions of people. I guess it wasn't worth it since most people just don't care either way.

Energy input is irrelevant. One could just as well discuss the teleporters in the lab of Jeff Goldblum's character in The Fly. The point is, given a perfectly good transporter (not one which mixes your DNA with a fly's DNA), would you use the transporter?

As for the rest of what you said, in time...

Yep if they got the error down to less than what occurs in an hour it would be worth it. Maybe even a day or a couple months of error.  Star trek never explored this but the error could make you smarter, it is more likely accelerate the slow dying process though. But look at how many people play the lottery...

So you would submit yourself to being killed? I'm assuming then that you equate teleportation to that of waking up in the morning, or more accurately, the idea that every moment of your life is like being killed and reborn, where your current state is only related to your prior state because you have the memory of the prior state.

I'll address your other points with in context qoutes later. The simple answer to this is yes. The better answer to your question is that you are equating death/killed to change for no reason. Death is an extreme subset of change. The moment of death is not a mundane moment. Also, life is the process of dying.
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February 26, 2012, 07:17:28 PM
 #29

This is observable fact, and all of the "Hard Questions" are ultimately different approaches to determining why the distribution of energy is non-uniform. Some theories rely on the idea (chalmers) that information is as/more fundamental than distribution of energy.

This is simply not true. Consider both the Hard Problem and the following "Hard Question": why is there something, rather than nothing?

A uniform distribution of energy, either within a finite space, or infinite, would seem to be something, rather than nothing. With regard to the Hard Problem, it is not the question as to what information is. Sadly, you're again committing the same errors you've committed in the past. That is to say, you're mining papers for nuggets of information to give what you believe is an understanding of a topic. Those topics would be Chalmer's view on consciousness, and climate change and how man influences it in different ways, and how climate change affects life on Earth.

Did I mention that you should read some books? Try these:

The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory by David Chalmers
The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery
The Future of Life by Edward O. Wilson
The Dominant Animal by Paul Ehrlich
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February 26, 2012, 07:56:46 PM
 #30

I have admittedly only read two of chalmer's summary papers. But neither addressed my point (unless I misunderstood his characterizations of reductionists)

Quote
why is there something, rather than nothing?

This is the main point I gathered. He believes there is no reason to think consciousness necessarily arises from a complex system (ie a brain). Well, we have a sample of n=1 system as complex as a human brain that can communicate consciousness in a way we understand, and this system displays consciousness. From this data we can gather that physical processes can lead to consciousness, but say nothing about the likelihood of this. He proposes that these physical processes may not always lead to consciousness, but this is based off no data. It is entirely plausible that a system like the brain always results in consciousness.
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February 26, 2012, 08:20:36 PM
 #31

I have admittedly only read two of chalmer's summary papers. But neither addressed my point (unless I misunderstood his characterizations of reductionists)

Quote
why is there something, rather than nothing?

That's actually a question independent of consciousness, although, as you're interpreting it, can also be used to address why consciousness exists.

This is the main point I gathered. He believes there is no reason to think consciousness necessarily arises from a complex system (ie a brain). Well, we have a sample of n=1 system as complex as a human brain that can communicate consciousness in a way we understand, and this system displays consciousness. From this data we can gather that physical processes can lead to consciousness, but say nothing about the likelihood of this. He proposes that these physical processes may not always lead to consciousness, but this is based off no data. It is entirely plausible that a system like the brain always results in consciousness.

Again, you're simplifying observations made by Chalmers, and then answering questions with answers that you think are satisfactory. Consider this: Which physical processes give rise to consciousness, and whatever they are, let's call them P1. Does P1 alone give rise to consciousness, or does it require P1 + P2 to give rise to consciousness?

So, it would help to know what P1 is exactly, and it would help to know if there is a P2 that is also required. Sort of Philosophy of Mind's Dark Energy, so to speak.
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February 26, 2012, 08:24:22 PM
 #32

Furthermore, suppose it is just P1 that is required? What is it about P1 that allows something to come into being that just doesn't seem to fit with cosmology and physics. In other words, can you reconcile how physics (in its ultimate form) could essentially explain everything and yet not predict consciousness?
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February 26, 2012, 08:27:29 PM
 #33

Right, the question is whether it is:

p1 +p2

p1 x p2

p1^8 - p2^-3

etc

The human brain can only intuitively understand simple relationships. For example, it is known for misunderstanding exponential functions which are relatively simple compared to all the interacting factors that give rise to consciousness.
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February 26, 2012, 08:36:15 PM
 #34

Furthermore, suppose it is just P1 that is required? What is it about P1 that allows something to come into being that just doesn't seem to fit with cosmology and physics. In other words, can you reconcile how physics (in its ultimate form) could essentially explain everything and yet not predict consciousness?

Our current understanding of physics is incomplete and cannot predict many emergent phenomenon. From my reading, Chalmer's thinks that consciousness is a special case because it can not be directly observed by a third party.
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February 26, 2012, 11:57:19 PM
 #35

Furthermore, suppose it is just P1 that is required? What is it about P1 that allows something to come into being that just doesn't seem to fit with cosmology and physics. In other words, can you reconcile how physics (in its ultimate form) could essentially explain everything and yet not predict consciousness?

Our current understanding of physics is incomplete and cannot predict many emergent phenomenon. From my reading, Chalmer's thinks that consciousness is a special case because it can not be directly observed by a third party.

Thanks for saying what I've been trying to say in less than a paragraph.

The Communists say, equal labour entitles man to equal enjoyment. No, equal labour does not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you have laboured and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then – ‘it serves you right.’ If you take the enjoyment, it is your right.
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February 27, 2012, 03:02:22 AM
 #36

Furthermore, suppose it is just P1 that is required? What is it about P1 that allows something to come into being that just doesn't seem to fit with cosmology and physics. In other words, can you reconcile how physics (in its ultimate form) could essentially explain everything and yet not predict consciousness?

Our current understanding of physics is incomplete and cannot predict many emergent phenomenon. From my reading, Chalmer's thinks that consciousness is a special case because it can not be directly observed by a third party.

Is that why Chalmers thinks consciousness is a special case? Maybe you're right. Please elaborate.
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February 27, 2012, 04:55:53 AM
 #37

Furthermore, suppose it is just P1 that is required? What is it about P1 that allows something to come into being that just doesn't seem to fit with cosmology and physics. In other words, can you reconcile how physics (in its ultimate form) could essentially explain everything and yet not predict consciousness?

Our current understanding of physics is incomplete and cannot predict many emergent phenomenon. From my reading, Chalmer's thinks that consciousness is a special case because it can not be directly observed by a third party.

Thanks for saying what I've been trying to say in less than a paragraph.

If you (that means you, Boss) would like a better articulation of the dilemma, then read the following paper (read it slowly; do not skim it), which helps to summarize the three competing views, two exemplified by Dennett and Chalmers:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=levine%20%22on%20leaving%20out%20what%20it%27s%20like%22%20filetype%3Apdf&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CC4QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fphilosophy.stanford.edu%2Fapps%2Fstanfordphilosophy%2Ffiles%2Fwysiwyg_images%2Fraymore.pdf&ei=KwJLT9uIBszjsQL44Y3rCA&usg=AFQjCNEEsx4W2hRPYNiiQMEy2D0a8jGG9Q&cad=rja
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March 02, 2012, 02:27:24 AM
 #38

Furthermore, suppose it is just P1 that is required? What is it about P1 that allows something to come into being that just doesn't seem to fit with cosmology and physics. In other words, can you reconcile how physics (in its ultimate form) could essentially explain everything and yet not predict consciousness?

Our current understanding of physics is incomplete and cannot predict many emergent phenomenon. From my reading, Chalmer's thinks that consciousness is a special case because it can not be directly observed by a third party.

Is that why Chalmers thinks consciousness is a special case? Maybe you're right. Please elaborate.

Well he makes the argument that we cannot get evidence either way that physical processes are sufficient to give rise to experience. In lieu of data he proposes using the thought experiment of "philosophical zombies" to show that it is at least "logical" to think that they are not. From this he develops his framework of psycho-physical laws. If this framework is accurate, we should be able to look for evidence of consciousness in the form of it's effects on measurable physical processes.

The major leap of faith I see in this is that "If you can imagine it, it is possible".
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March 02, 2012, 02:57:34 AM
 #39

Furthermore, suppose it is just P1 that is required? What is it about P1 that allows something to come into being that just doesn't seem to fit with cosmology and physics. In other words, can you reconcile how physics (in its ultimate form) could essentially explain everything and yet not predict consciousness?

Our current understanding of physics is incomplete and cannot predict many emergent phenomenon.

Given scientists' incomplete understanding of physics (something I agree with), tell me, can you imagine some additions to physics which would allow for the emergent phenomenon of conscious experience? In other words, submit a theory, even if half baked and fanciful, which would show how physical processes can explain conscious experience.

Key words: half baked, fanciful.

Go for it.
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March 02, 2012, 03:01:13 AM
 #40

Point: if you find the task suggested above difficult, and the resulting ideas you might come up with unsatisfying and maybe absurd, then consider that Chalmers' ideas are no more outlandish.
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