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The blurred reality of humanity - Comments

PurplePanda's Avatar Comment 1 by PurplePanda

I thought "I think therefore I am" was simply a way of me proving to myself I (in some form or another) exist. It doesn't say anything about anyone else, you could all be figments of my imagination.

Even if I thought I didn't exist, I'd simply be wrong, because there has to be something doing that thinking.

Right?

I was never much of a philosopher anyway...

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:20:30 UTC | #605768

Ode2Hitch's Avatar Comment 2 by Ode2Hitch

Panda that is exactly what the cogito is.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:28:42 UTC | #605775

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 3 by Alan4discussion

I think - therefore I am - I think!

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:32:19 UTC | #605776

sbooder's Avatar Comment 4 by sbooder

What a load of old bollocks.

Any thought or idea along these lines comes from the brain which is connected to the body, it is all one.

Shit I hate Philosophy.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:26 UTC | #605778

legal9ball's Avatar Comment 5 by legal9ball

Jullian points out that the illusion of self is not nothing. We do indeed have a self - an illusory self. But I like Sam Harris' point better. The illusion of self is itself an illusion. When you actually pay close attention to your subjective experience of yourself, like Hume, you can only discern the experience, and never the one who experiences. We do have a self, which is an illusion of an illusion of a self.

Zoltan Torey points out in "The Crucible of Consciousness" that we experience ourselves as uncaused because until all of the neurological events that in fact do cause our consciousness to "turn on" have occurred, there is no inner self to be aware of such preliminary events. It seems to us like we pop out of nowhere.

Maybe this is why we're such suckers for the supernatural. If we can exist as uncaused causal agents, why can't god?

Jack

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:40 UTC | #605781

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 6 by AtheistEgbert

I do not think, therefore I do not exist!

Most philosophers are crackers. They spend an awfully long time in their armchairs pretending to achieve greatness. Nietzsche made philosophers lap on the couch and thus began the therapy of philosophers.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 11:18:31 UTC | #605786

mmurray's Avatar Comment 7 by mmurray

Comment 1 by PurplePanda :

Even if I thought I didn't exist, I'd simply be wrong, because there has to be something doing that thinking.

The thinking has to be happening somewhere but that is in the brain. Why does there have to be something doing the thinking?

Michael

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 11:42:53 UTC | #605791

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 8 by Rich Wiltshir

This article offers me some comfort that my late father-in-law's demise to altzeimers may not have been the harrowing experience(s) we all feared. I'd hate to draw a conclusion just because it comforts me: somebody clarify for me please. I'm sure that I'm probably wrong in saying altzeimers takes you a slice at a time!

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 11:46:40 UTC | #605792

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 9 by Michael Gray

Philosophy is nought but pretentious mental masturbation.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:01:36 UTC | #605797

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 10 by Stephen of Wimbledon

I loved this article.

More like this please.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:11:13 UTC | #605801

Brif's Avatar Comment 11 by Brif

Descartes believed that mind and body are separate entities. The mind (some would call it the soul) is something non-physical that thinks, dwelling inside a physical body which acts. What he should have said was, "I think, therefore my thoughts exist", which leaves open the question of whether "I" - my unique conscious personality - is anything more than simply the product of my mental processes, carried out inside a bodily organ; the brain.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:40:39 UTC | #605807

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 4 by sbooder

What a load of old bollocks.

Ah, but its postmodern bollocks. I miss the good old days when bollocks was truly bollocks, and one did not have to suffer existentialist angst over whether some philosopher might explain it away.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:00:12 UTC | #605809

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 13 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 7 by mmurray

The thinking has to be happening somewhere but that is in the brain. Why does there have to be something doing the thinking?

eTh asnewr si impsle, s'it eth rainb htat rceaste 'tihgns' ni eth irfst lacep. eTh earl orwld si tno adem fo 'tihgns'.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:09:49 UTC | #605813

edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 14 by edmundjessie

I think most sane people know there's no ghost in the machine, what's incredible is that our machine is remarkable enough to be able to continue to provide the illusion of a ghost even after contemplating this knowledge.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:10:30 UTC | #605814

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 15 by Steve Zara

But, of course, there is a cart – it's just that it is nothing other than the ordered collection of parts. In the same way, there is a self – it is simply no more than the ordered collection of all our experiences.

I don't think this is right. A cart isn't doesn't have its parts continually changing all the time.

The question of the self is like the question of P G Wodehouse's typewriter. Over time all the parts had been replaced. Is it still the same typewriter?

I don't believe there is a self at all.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:22:16 UTC | #605815

mjones's Avatar Comment 16 by mjones

Comment 3 by Alan4discussion :

I think - therefore I am - I think!

I think I am, there for I am, I think.

  • George Carlin
  • Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:31:15 UTC | #605820

    edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 17 by edmundjessie

    "People with Cotard's syndrome, for instance, can think that they don't exist, an impossibility for Descartes."

    And this is not an impossibility at all. Descartes only mistake was in interpreting his supposition religiously and taking it as proof he had a soul. The premise remains true. He thinks therefore he is, even if he doesn't know he is. The fact there is cognition alone remains a good enough premise by which to determine the existence of something (whatever that something might be).

    Lets face it in our case we all know that something is just another organism evolved over millions of years to fleetingly provide us our current biological form and foothold in reality, a foothold with no place before, after or outside of that sphere (a horribly constructed sentence but true enough). We are not transcendental moths or butterflies dreaming we're men or any of the other nonsense certain types of philospher and theologian have founded whole disciplines on in a bid to preserve their safe positions outside of science.

    I think and you think therefore i am and so are you!

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:36:55 UTC | #605822

    Matt B's Avatar Comment 18 by Matt B

    I like Sam Harris' assertion that what we experience as the "self" is simply the biproduct of another program running through our brain, almost an illusory side effect.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:44:48 UTC | #605828

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 19 by Schrodinger's Cat

    Comment 14 by edmundjessie

    I think most sane people know there's no ghost in the machine

    My computer has a ghost in it. It is called Windows Vista. It's not a real, physical, tangible thing...yet it 'exists'.

    One could break down the processing components and argue ' See...there's nothing here but electrons moving about !'. And nowhere will you find some ethereal 'essence of Vista' existing as an indivisible whole or 'self'. But I strongly suspect that is all completely missing the point.

    In the case of Vista, the 'ghost' is not dependent on the machine. The fact that it can be copied to another machine clearly illustrates that it does indeed have have a substantive existence.....though clearly that is not an existence independent of physics. Even software requires a material world to exist.

    I would define the 'ghost' as a specific meaningful pattern of matter. Information. Having spent years in computing, I have no problem with seeing the 'ghostly' aspect of information processing. Not least because something...somewhere...has to decide that it all means something. That is the aspect of 'self' that one cannot explain away so readily. It's one of the reasons why, for example, Searle's 'chinese room' thought experiment exists.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 14:05:08 UTC | #605834

    Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 20 by Steve Zara

    Not least because something...somewhere...has to decide that it all means something. That is the aspect of 'self' that one cannot explain away so readily.

    I have never understood this fuss about "meaning". Meaning is just another attribute of information, which is that the information has associations. It's a feeling of recognition. It's not that different from other attributes of a sentence, such as the number of words it contains or the language it is written in. We don't insist that there needs to be some special something to know that a sentence is long, so why does there need to be some special something to know that a sentence has associations? It's only a report from our memories that the sentence has triggered associations.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:03:54 UTC | #605850

                                              rui's Avatar Comment 21 by rui

    Comment 4 by sbooder

    Any thought or idea along these lines comes from the brain which is connected to the body, it is all one.

    Er, isn't this what baggini thinks to? That's what i understood from the article. He is just saying consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. No Ghost in the machine.

    To take an even simpler example, water is not something that has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom: it just is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. In the same way, we are not things that have experiences – we just are our experiences.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:26:17 UTC | #605858

                                              rui's Avatar Comment 22 by rui

    Comment 15 by Steve Zara

    I don't believe there is a self at all..

    What do you mean by self?

    But whatever it means, i can't really grasp the idea that i'm not myself. Is it me, or this is another of those conclusions that plays with the meaning of words to define something out of existence. I'm starting to think that when certain memes overpopulate the brains... people start thinking weird things about themselves. Altough it's impossible to stop thinking, i think i feel my self better when i'm contemplating a sunset while feeling the summer brise. No words, jus me and the sun.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:34:54 UTC | #605859

    Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

    What do you mean by self?

    Some persistent unified thing that is the generator of thoughts.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:55:36 UTC | #605871

    Drizzt Do'Urden's Avatar Comment 24 by Drizzt Do'Urden

    Some persistent unified thing that is the generator of thoughts.

    I don't know about you but my brain has been persistently generating thoughts my entire life.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 16:02:07 UTC | #605873

    Alan Dente's Avatar Comment 25 by Alan Dente

    If I get bored at work and totally zone out, am I essentially blinking in and out of existence? Can someone answer this from Descartes, please? Thanks.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 16:13:57 UTC | #605878

    God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 26 by God fearing Atheist

    Many writers, such as Blackmore and Metzinger, draw the conclusion that the self is an illusion. This is true in the sense that it is not what it seems to be. But that is not to say that the self doesn't exist.

    Blackmore says "that is not to say that the self doesn't exist." See 2005 Skeptics Society Annual Conference @ 14:30

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 16:37:12 UTC | #605885

    Agrajag's Avatar Comment 27 by Agrajag

    Comment 3 by Alan4discussion

    I think - therefore I am - I think!

    No; you're MAGNETIC INK!
    Steve

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 16:51:58 UTC | #605890

    edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 28 by edmundjessie

    Comment 25 by Alan Dente :

    If I get bored at work and totally zone out, am I essentially blinking in and out of existence? Can someone answer this from Descartes, please? Thanks.

    Descartes means if you are thinking you can be sure that you in some way exist, not that thinking is the pre-requisite cause of existence. Thinking is only the means by which you can be sure you're alive, it's the best indicator of proof you can use with your reason alone. But he's not saying thinking is all that keeps you alive. It's 'I think, therefore I am' not 'I am only in existence because I think.'

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 17:01:53 UTC | #605893

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 29 by Schrodinger's Cat

    Comment 20 by Steve Zara

    I have never understood this fuss about "meaning". Meaning is just another attribute of information, which is that the information has associations. It's a feeling of recognition. It's not that different from other attributes of a sentence, such as the number of words it contains or the language it is written in. We don't insist that there needs to be some special something to know that a sentence is long, so why does there need to be some special something to know that a sentence has associations? It's only a report from our memories that the sentence has triggered associations.

    I don't know why you have to keep defining anything you don't agree with as a 'special something'. Your whole line of reasoning becomes circular.....such that your 'a priori' basis is actually the conclusion of your thinking.....which then feeds back to affirm to you that your original thinking was correct !

    What, exactly, does the 'knowing' ? There surely has to be something that knows A is associateed with B. You might argue that a pattern recognition device 'knows' that pattern A is the same as pattern B. But it doesn't. To use your own eliminative materialism.....it's all just electrons. Where in this is the 'recognition' that A and B are the same ? The only place at which any such observation occurs is when the user.....a conscious human being......perceives the output.

    The whole issue is plagued with Searle's 'Chinese Room'. It cannot be dismissed as easily as just 'asociations'.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 17:26:28 UTC | #605900

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 30 by Schrodinger's Cat

    Comment 26 by God fearing Atheist

    Many writers, such as Blackmore and Metzinger, draw the conclusion that the self is an illusion.

    How can the very entity that defines what is illusory.....itself be an illusion ?

    It's about as much sense as an old Sufi proverb, about how the Moon was asked what was it's greatest wish......and it replied that it's greatest wish was that the Sun would go out so that it could shine as the most brilliant object in the sky.

    Tue, 22 Mar 2011 17:34:09 UTC | #605904