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The sad jar of atoms and the spaniel of destiny - Comments

PrayForMe's Avatar Comment 1 by PrayForMe

I really wish I could understand your posts.

I'm pretty sure you're saying something meaningful here, but your poetic language baffles me. This really isn't meant to be rude, I occasionally 'get' some of your posts, and when I do, find them to be interesting, but this one's beyond me, I'm afraid.

Matt

Fri, 20 May 2011 09:08:07 UTC | #628701

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 2 by irate_atheist

I think Russell Blackford would agree with the premises and conclusions. At least, he'd like to. All contingent on the anti-immortals not preventing the mind-fridge being built in the kitchen, of course. But I bet some of them were against all fridges in the first place and it never stopped the rest of us plugging them in.

Fri, 20 May 2011 09:32:56 UTC | #628710

Sample's Avatar Comment 3 by Sample

You had me with the word "spaniel" but then my head exploded.

Mike

Fri, 20 May 2011 09:47:08 UTC | #628715

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 4 by Schrodinger's Cat

Consciousness is an illusion in the generally understood sense.

" If conscious experience is not real, what is ? " ( David Chalmers )

Fri, 20 May 2011 10:29:34 UTC | #628723

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 5 by irate_atheist

Comment 5 by Schrodinger's Cat -

There is no 'I'.

Does that explain it better?

Fri, 20 May 2011 10:33:36 UTC | #628724

edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 6 by edmundjessie

We seem to have had a lot of these free will/ determinism discussions recently, though admittedly this is the first one to use the phrase 'spaniel of destiny.'

Fri, 20 May 2011 10:52:04 UTC | #628728

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 7 by irate_atheist

Comment 7 by edmundjessie -

Consider yourself lucky that the lobster of inevitability was not invoked.

Fri, 20 May 2011 10:56:27 UTC | #628730

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 8 by phil rimmer

S.Cat

" If conscious experience is not real, what is ? " ( David Chalmers )

Realer than my experience is the cultural apprehension of the the world, the universe. It is sturdier with greater utility. It overrides my questionable experiences with increasing frequency as my receiving equipment goes off tune. Its reach exceeds mine. It has processes that mimic mine but through time have evolved to be lean disinterested machines, e.g. those of maths, logic (and lower still) professional thinking. It has senses that don't merely outstrip mine but may yet scale the universe, 29 orders of magnitude up and down.

I get little experiential tastes of what culture apprehends, but it tells me tales of what it experiences everyday. It taiks to me. Its doing it now.

As Irate says. Its not "all about me".

Fri, 20 May 2011 11:15:48 UTC | #628737

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 9 by Schrodinger's Cat

There is no 'I'.

Oh dear. Well there is no 'is' either. And where exactly is 'there' ? Time to let the Oozlum bird out of it's cage.

Fri, 20 May 2011 11:29:37 UTC | #628739

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 10 by Schrodinger's Cat

Anyone who thinks conscious experience is not real, is welcome to write a post on what they consider is real.......without using it !

Fri, 20 May 2011 11:33:02 UTC | #628740

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 11 by phil rimmer

I get little experiential tastes of what culture apprehends, but it tells me tales of what it apprehends everyday. It taiks to me. Its doing it now.

Language tidied up for S.Cat.

Culture is a reality apprehending machine.

"Experience" is of course real also, just not necessarilly (indeed less likely to be) about (external) reality.

Fri, 20 May 2011 11:50:24 UTC | #628743

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 12 by irate_atheist

Comment 12 by phil rimmer -

"Experience" is of course real also, just not necessarilly (indeed less likely to be) about (external) reality.

Nor, indeed, to be correct.

Schrodinger's Cat - Define 'I'.

Fri, 20 May 2011 12:14:02 UTC | #628749

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 13 by phil rimmer

Blessed Raven.

You are right we shall get to immortality be default, but the ennui of a looming eternity will probably drive an interest in changing our minds, quite literally, through re-engineering.

Mankind's vested interest in our death (once a person's brain has seized up/stopped changing, we need its problem solving replacement) may be served by such a brain pimping process.

Entities (people? minds?) shouldn't be allowed to permanently coalesce without replacement. The sexy meeting of different minds creates novelty. Maybe minds should meet and spawn new minds...?

Fri, 20 May 2011 13:08:52 UTC | #628770

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 14 by irate_atheist

It goes without saying, of course, that you either need to be a genius or possess the ability to use google in order to understand the reference to a sad jar of atoms. And if anyone thinks Bendigeidfran can use google, well, good luck to you.

Fri, 20 May 2011 13:29:49 UTC | #628776

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 15 by phil rimmer

if anyone thinks Bendigeidfran can use google, well,

Yes its sad. "The spaniel of destiny" was meant to refer to Cervantes....

Fri, 20 May 2011 13:49:05 UTC | #628784

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 16 by irate_atheist

Comment 16 by phil rimmer -

Bendigeidfran says, "What's cervantes?"

QED.

Fri, 20 May 2011 14:03:22 UTC | #628790

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 17 by Mark Jones

Excellent stuff. Bendi's like a cross between Dylan Thomas and James Joyce.

Or do I mean Max Boyce and Dave Allen?

I read it as Daniel of Spestiny anyway.

Fri, 20 May 2011 14:47:32 UTC | #628812

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 18 by Schrodinger's Cat

Schrodinger's Cat - Define 'I'.

'I' is that without which there would be no definition of 'I'

......watches as the Oozlum bird circles perilously close to a certain orifice.

Fri, 20 May 2011 14:52:08 UTC | #628814

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 19 by phil rimmer

watches as the Oozlum bird circles...

Who is the one with the delusion here?

And where did that "I" just disappear up?

Fri, 20 May 2011 15:05:18 UTC | #628818

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 20 by irate_atheist

Comment 20 by phil rimmer -

Up the junction, if my neurons recall correctly.

Fri, 20 May 2011 15:11:09 UTC | #628824

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 21 by Schrodinger's Cat

Who is the one with the delusion here?

You might pause to ponder how, if your entire perception of the world is mediated via a subjective illusion, and it is, you can ascertain that any of that experience is objective when you've argued that the very medium by which you perceive it is illusory.

Fri, 20 May 2011 15:48:34 UTC | #628846

edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 22 by edmundjessie

In the beard full of butterflies that is the mind of man, a lone quail sleeps, and dreams of something more; to hear the sprightly melody of a merry lark, and be uplifted by it's song; not by the playful interactions of an indifferent parade of atoms marching in unison to create an illusory cognitive dance to the happy songbirds tune; but by something more: for this same sensation to be a touch from the hand of God, a supernatural epiphany enacted upon his immortal soul (beard).

But alas, it cannot be so, the atoms form too sensibly in his brain (quail) to accept the fanciful play of spectre upon spectre, and the poor phenotype is left to wonder instead: can a weeping android dream at least of a post post-modernist world? For that would surely be a world with slightly less suffering and that is all the android can think sensibly of now.

Fri, 20 May 2011 18:01:34 UTC | #628911

edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 23 by edmundjessie

NOTE: (apologies if none of that means a great deal i'm just trying to get into the spirit (sic: 'emergent phenomena') of things).

Fri, 20 May 2011 18:02:33 UTC | #628912

Corylus's Avatar Comment 24 by Corylus

Comment 15 by irate_atheist :

It goes without saying, of course, that you either need to be a genius or possess the ability to use google in order to understand the reference to a sad jar of atoms. And if anyone thinks Bendigeidfran can use google, well, good luck to you.

I thought it might be Plath's bell jar. Google tells me I woz rong. [Sniff]

Fri, 20 May 2011 18:52:07 UTC | #628924

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 25 by phil rimmer

if your entire perception of the world is mediated via a subjective illusion, and it is,

Its reset every time with you.

Just because a channel is subject to distortion doesn't mean that the apprehension of reality by varieties of other external, non-conscious (eg cultural) machines can't eventually encode reality in sufficient varieties to allow the transference into our brain of some tractable understanding of that reality, at least in part and in a continuously refining manner.

The nature of distortion of the "subjective" channel needn't be known for our ultimate ability to work our way around it. We must of course assume that the mapping required doesn't continually change, however this is no different from the assumptions we make about all of physics. Nor should we expect to experience reality, only apprehend it..

Anyway, naked experience is remarkably void of information. Meta-experience is much more the ticket.

Fri, 20 May 2011 21:13:36 UTC | #628976

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 26 by phil rimmer

Comment 25 by Corylus

Google takes us to two poets. This one is still in his jar

Fri, 20 May 2011 21:37:57 UTC | #628989

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 27 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 27 by phil rimmer

Just because a channel is subject to distortion doesn't mean that the apprehension of reality by varieties of other external, non-conscious (eg cultural) machines can't eventually encode reality in sufficient varieties to allow the transference into our brain of some tractable understanding of that reality, at least in part and in a continuously refining manner.

Ah, I see.......so consciousness is a total illusion, except when one happens to be reading a scientific paper.

Fri, 20 May 2011 22:22:57 UTC | #629011

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 28 by phil rimmer

so consciousness is a total illusion,

I think that would make things untenable, if you intend 100% distortion.

except when one happens to be reading a scientific paper

In a sense we have always "done" science, just informally but definitely not continually.

Nor am I in anyway claiming "a paper" clears the distortion by revealing the mapping. Its an ongoing process.

Fri, 20 May 2011 22:42:05 UTC | #629016

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

Comment 29 by phil rimmer

In a sense we have always "done" science, just informally but definitely not continually.

I take your point, but I'm sure you likely see mine too. I thoroughly dislike 'blanket' terminology by way of dismissal of anything. I see it as being the true 'unscientific'...........and the use of the word 'illusion' thrown about like confetti is one such example.

I've no doubt that experience contains many illusions. But to argue that experience is an illusion creates more problems than it solves. It's all to easy to envisage a priviledged third party perspective on things...and forget that if experience is illusory then so too ( by definition ) is that very perspective that one imagined was outside of the illusory loop.

I don't see how one can then claim that through the fog of illusion one can grasp 'objective reality'. That is philosophical bootstrapping. The subjective somehow mysteriously pulling the objective out of its ass......while at the same time claiming that the very mechanism of such perception is illusory.

I think when Chalmers states " If conscious experience is not real, what is ? "......the question has a good deal more to do with what we mean by 'real' than to do with consciousness per se.

Fri, 20 May 2011 23:03:19 UTC | #629021

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 30 by phil rimmer

I've no doubt that experience contains many illusions. But to argue that experience is an illusion creates more problems than it solves.

Agreed, that's why I have stopped using it in this context. I much prefer using the term mapping as a description of getting from an external element of reality (assuming its out there) to some specific experience it may cause. Magenta (a much more useful illustration than red in matters of perceptual experience) maps in some ways we can "see". Instead of experiencing directly the outputs of the red and blue receptors these two sensors, tuned to different wavelengths along a linear scale, combine to a singular experience, magenta, by virtue of that linear scale creating a loop in perceptual space and marking out an area (colour space) enclosing singular, simple colour experiences. Data is mapped and compressed many times in the experience of magenta, a spectrogram of a petal from a theoretically perfect machine would be notably fuzzy and smeared. On a real spectrometer it would be rather smoother. Out of the cones we get 3 amplitudes only (in terms of rate of firing). Finally we experience a singular colour We clearly can't map back from magenta to the spectrogram. Magenta is a just good enough experience to mediate a suitable evolutionarily viable behaviour.

With monochromatic light sources (observing that a longer wavelength blue and red produce the same magenta experience as a shorter wavelength pair we can start to imagine the colour space in our brains. It takes a huge number of such experiments (triangulations of sorts) to map out an experience-predictive colour space. I see all of reality as being susceptible to such “triangulations”. I think it entirely feasible that reality may consist of nothing but localised fields, or it may be a simulation from a hyper intelligent mega being, or it is a holographic projection from the edge of space. I am not convinced that these alternatives cannot theoretically be discerned one from another using “triangulations” from machines.

For the bulk of my life I have not expected subjective experience to be particularly informative about reality. Attributes of reality can be measured though. Experience alone has never made reality tractable. It seems weird to expect it would. (I don’t fully buy into Steve’s view of evolution leading us to accurate reality experiences. I think it moves a little in that direction, but just good enough is good enough when mediating behaviours.)

Sat, 21 May 2011 09:14:26 UTC | #629117