Re: MD Hume, Paley and Intelligent Design

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sun May 01 2005 - 15:09:31 BST

  • Next message: Mark Steven Heyman: "Re: MD Quality and the Nuremberg-Tokyo Tribunals"

    > [Platt previoulsy]
    > > The point I would make is that the
    > > capacity to express preferences is an intrinsic property of static patterns, from
    > > inorganic on up, and this capacity is characteristic of consciousness.
    > [Arlo]
    > Agree. But... maybe its this word, "consciousness", that's bothering me. To
    > me, "consciousness" implies "identity awareness", that is to be conscious
    > something has to have an awareness of "I am". It doesn't have to be a
    > symbolic awareness, as I'd say my dog (for example) has some awareness that
    > he is distinct from the sofa he is sleeping on, even if he lacks a symbolic
    > "I am" in this awareness. But this a gray area for me, one I have not fully
    > thought out, so I'm not making any claims, just telling you what the word
    > implies to me at this point in my thinking.
    > Anyways, when you say that the capacity to express preferences, from
    > inorganic on up, is a characteristic of consciousness, that's where I stop
    > and think "does a quartz crystal have 'consciousness'"? Does an amoeba?
    > Does a planet repsonding to inorganic quality we call "the law of gravity"?
    > This is why I questioned the use of "conscious designer" in your support of
    > ID. It implies an aspect of cognition, consciousness- I am, that I don't
    > personally ascribe to Pirsig's Quality.
    > Your thoughts?

    I don't believe the group has ever settled on the meaning of consciousness
    vs. awareness vs. experience. To me, they are all more or less synonymous.
    I have no trouble attributing consciousness to an amoeba since it responds
    to its environment to sustain itself in what appears to be a purposeful
    way. Quartz crystals and planets are more difficult to ascribe
    consciousness to, but I think perhaps Pirsig, in saying iron filings
    "value" or prefer movement toward a magnet, suggests that filings have
    internal awareness of their environment, albeit far, far less than our
    own. Long ago the group engaged in a debate on the question, "Are atoms
    aware." As I recall, the consensus was that the MOQ, to be consistent,
    required a "yes" answer. In this respect, the MOQ follows the doctrine of
    > [Arlo previously]
    > Then you say that the value experiences we have suggest a larger design? I
    > think this is where I am getting confused, maybe because I'm not sure what
    > you mean by "if you believe patterns are designs"?
    > [Platt]
    > > To me a pattern is synonymous with a design, like the Merriam-Webster
    > > dictionary says in defining "pattern:" "4) an artistic, musical, literary
    > > or mechanical design or form." (Note the aesthetic connotation that fits
    > > nicely with Pirsig's attraction to high quality harmony.)
    > [Arlo]
    > That makes sense. I think the trouble I have with "design" is that it is
    > used often to imply an external "conscious designer", and given what I said
    > above about my interpretation of "conscious", I think that's where I get
    > stopped. To say that we see a pattern, or a design, and say this pattern is
    > attributable to DQ, I have no problems with.
    > But to say that we see a pattern, or a design, and say this pattern is
    > attributable to a conscious designer, does not sound right to me.

    I understand your hesitation. Given our cultural glasses, to admit to a
    conscious designer is tantamount to admitting to God. Furthermore, your
    hesitation is based on the unresolved question of whether patterns are
    intrinsic, or whether they are the result of our need to conceptualize, as
    you express so well in the following exchange.

    > [Platt]
    > > But, referring to your point about "conceptualizations" above, I guess we
    > should bear in mind that patterns and designs are conceptualizations, too.
    > [Arlo]
    > Yes, see, this is where I have problems accepting "design" as "proof of a
    > "conscious designer". Patterns and designs "do not exist", we sort them and
    > give them names and recognize them as "patterns", but I don't believe them
    > to be anything more than conceptualizations we use to describe quality
    > (whether inorganic, biological, social or intellectual). Of course, like I
    > said, this is an area where I am only thinking through things, so my
    > statements are presented here only as "thinking outloud", not definitive
    > statements of belief.

    I would say that concepts do "exist" as intellectual patterns. The
    question for me is: "Is the pattern high or low quality?" Like you, I'm
    not certain that "intrinsic patterns" is a high quality concept. On the
    other hand, for purposes of "do-or-die" reality where we find it necessary
    to manipulate our environment, we necessarily assume such patterns to be
    high quality, like the mathematical patterns of physics making our current
    conversation via computers possible.

    These thoughts are also tentative rather than definitive. What do you


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