RE: MD A bit of reasoning

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Tue Oct 19 2004 - 19:54:25 BST

  • Next message: Mark Steven Heyman: "MD Poetic Quality"


    > msh asked:
    > My questions to you, and anyone else who wants to answer are: Would
    > this scientific development convince you that awareness is
    > fundamentally materialistic?
    > scott:
    > Probably not. There is no denying that consciousness is affected by
    > the workings of the brain. But that does not, and I don't see how
    > anything can, discriminate between the idea that the brain creates
    > consciousness and the idea that the brain channels consciousness. So
    > if a machine could pass the Turing test, how do we know it is not
    > channelling, just as a human brain does?
    > msh says:
    > You're right. Your position is impossible to falsify. That, to me,
    > is reason enough to say it isn't rational. (Notice I didn't say
    > "wrong.")

    [Scott:] Then the MOQ is not rational, since it can't be falsified either
    (at least I don't see any way to do it).

    > msh asked: If not, is there any scientific or
    > rational development that would?
    > scott said:
    > Who's to say? "Any scientific or rational development" is
    > meaningless. And what do you have in mind of a rational development
    > that is not scientific?
    > msh says:
    > I was thinking of a mathematical or logical proof, an ontological
    > argument, no measurement required.

    [Scott:] Proof only really works in mathematics, where the starting
    assumptions are simply assumed, and every term is precisely defined, and
    one figures out what can be deduced within that framework. But, of course,
    with mathematics one cannot say anything about quality, reason,
    consciousness, etc. With philosophy one can, but it is unavoidably
    irrational, given your view of rationality (which is itself irrational by
    that view). The way out, in my opinion, is to just accept rationality as a
    fact -- we somehow value some statements over others for what we label as
    their rationality. We can recognize some forms of reason, which we call
    logic, but can't really apply logic to philosophical questions as well as
    we can to mathematical ones, since the terms used are insufficiently
    precise. Philosophy is all about questioning assumptions, changing the
    meaning of terms, finding new terms and assumptions, and see where one gets
    to. So my reasoning against the material view of consciousness is a matter
    of showing that its assumptions lead to absurdity (the Munchausen fallacy).
    As reasoning it is not bulletproof, of course, but it just seems to me to
    be more rational than the reasoning that upholds materialism.

    By the way, a consequence of just accepting rationality is the basis for
    considering it on a par with Quality, which is also just accepted.

    I guess I would like to see what you consider to be a rational,
    non-scientific, non-mathematical argument that has some philosophical

    > msh said:
    > If not, would you then agree that your continued belief in the non-
    > material nature of consciousness is irrational?
    > scott:
    > As long as there are non-materialist explanations for the same data,
    > choosing materialism or non-materialism is always a non-scientific
    > choice. Would you say that, based on current knowledge, including
    > your knowledge of what it is like to be conscious, a belief in a
    > material nature of consciousness is rational?
    > msh says:
    > Nope. I don't have enough information to judge. Which is why I
    > suspend judgment.

    Have you? It seems to me that you are quick to question non-material views,
    but not material views, on consciousness or anything else.

    - Scott

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