regi

Ayn Rand And The End Of Love

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58 minutes ago, Rodney said:

Should I send the essay to comment (at) usabig (dot) com ?

Please send it to rcs (a) usabig (dot) com.

The link to the paper you metioned did not work. Elsevier moves things around.

Looking forward to seeing your essay; I'll look for whatever might relate to something I said. Makes it a kind of mystery. (Don't feel pressed. Whenever it's convenient for you)

I wouldn't worry too much about straying from the theme of this thread. It's been of the rails almost from the beginning.

All my best,

Randy

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35 minutes ago, Rodney said:

Science is an effort to discover truth, not an exercise in the persuasion of others.

Rodney,

We never even got to persuasion.

We were talking about checking premises. Tony thinks introspection is all the checking you need (or so he said). I disagree. I think looking at facts is also important in checking. Especially when newly discovered facts start contradicting the premise.

Michael

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Just Google the author and title--I did just now, and found a download link. But believe me, unless you are an advanced mathematician, it won't really give you much. I understood just enough to verify that one of the classes of numbers he discusses is identical to my 4D numbers. The focus of his work did not include any discussion of extension to more dimensions.

I've sent my essay to you (the revised version), and a 'typos' file. If you like it, I'd be grateful if you mentioned it on one of your sites, with the lulu link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/rodney-rawlings/understanding-imaginaries-through-hidden-numbers/ebook/product-22011204.html . Or even if you think it's nuts. :blink:

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52 minutes ago, Rodney said:

Wow. Fourteen years ago and great discussion with Citizen Rat (Bill Tingley), Ed Thompson, and Reginald Firehammer, whoever that was.

Thanks for the reminder.

Randy

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1 hour ago, Rodney said:

I wrote an essay pertinent to this some years ago: http://solohq.org/Articles/Rawlings/;_or,_How_Objectivists_Are_Not_Materialists.shtml .

Rodney,

I just read it. (And it's a good article for the time.)

However, a lot has happened since 2004.

Let's just say the effects of modern discoveries in neuroscience and modern psychology (and other advances) are similar to the effect of the Internet on communication. It's not a trivial change, it's massive.

For instance, a lot of what you implied to be beyond the physical in psychology is now physically understood and manipulable. I agree with you that science that involves non-measurable things does not have to be measurable, but when things are measurable, it's kinda stupid to say measurement should be excluded or is not important. The fact is, things about the brain and mind that were not measurable or even physically observable in 2004 (as opposed to a purely subjective experience which is called "introspection" in Objectivism) nowadays are.

I suggest reading this thread further, although some of the back and forth can get tedious. However, there is a lot of information in it that will make some of the arguments much clearer (as opposed to a 2004 lens).

After looking at some of that information, I don't mind differing viewpoints. In fact, I welcome them precisely because the discoveries are so breathtaking and upending these days. There is a hell of a lot to think through that some of the older intellectual frames no longer accommodate.

But I tend to get a bit snotty when someone says they don't need to look at new information because, based on their older information which works just fine, thank you very much, they already know everything relevant. To go back in time, that they don't need to look at internal combustion because they already know how horses work and a horse, by God, doesn't eat gasoline.

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony thinks introspection is all the checking you need (or so he said).

Tony thinks introspection is all the checking you need (or so he said). If you are talking about consciousness, introspection is all there is to check. All the physiology, neurology, and chemistry that can be studied never ever examines consciousness itself. To relate any of the physiological aspects to consciousness depends entirely on the testimony of those who actually have the conscious experience, because consciousness itself has no physical attributes that can be examined. Consciousness has no mass, no charge, no temperature, no energy, or any other physical attribute. All that can be studied at the physical level are events related to it according to the testimony of those actually having the experience.

The Taste of Cinnamon, for example, is actually the "taste" one consciously experiences when the olfactory nerves are stimulated by a chemical called an "ester" with the name "cinnamaldehyde." The physical behavior of the nerves in response to cinnamaldehyde, and even the behavior of those aspects of the brain involved can all be described, but none of that physical, electrical, chemical action is a description of the conscious experience we call "tasting cinnamon."

That conscious experience cannot even be described. To know what that experience of tasting cinnamon is, one must actually have that experience. One can say to another, "it tastes like cinnamon," but unless one actually has had that experience the description means nothing.

Since the emotions are conscious experiences, the only evidence of emotions are those conscious experiences themselves. Six people observed to have exactly the same physiological events occurring in their brains and nervous system might have entirely different conscious emotional experiences. There is only one way to know if that is true or not. Those having the experience must say, as well as they can, what their experience is. There is no way to examine another's emotional experience.

Randy

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1 hour ago, Rodney said:

I've sent my essay to you (the revised version), and a 'typos' file. If you like it, I'd be grateful if you mentioned it on one of your sites, with the lulu link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/rodney-rawlings/understanding-imaginaries-through-hidden-numbers/ebook/product-22011204.html . Or even if you think it's nuts.

Will do, and will do search for the article as well.

Thanks Rodney!

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1 hour ago, regi said:

If you are talking about consciousness, introspection is all there is to check.

Randy,

That (and the following in your post) is an opinion, I suppose...

At least, so long as this is your belief, I know you will not be one of those who looks with an open mind. I know you will look at some things because you asked me for a list, but--under that belief quoted above--I suspect the looking will not be in the (1) Identify correctly ---> (2) Evaluate mode. It will likely be in the (1) Pre-formed prejudice (your belief) ---> (2) Identify anything that supports the prejudice, and ignore (or rationalize, but mostly ignore) the rest mode.

I don't have much argument against beliefs like that (dogma). I can point to things I have found worth looking at and thinking about. I cannot make one look at, identify correctly, or think about them. I certainly have no wish to keep butting heads with people who are happy in their faith--of using grapefruit and apples and oranges to describe the solar system to flat-earth believers. :) 

I'm not claiming consciousness can be created in a test tube (yet), but it can be turned on and off at will in a lab. And it can be enhanced with nootropics and other cognitive enhancers, and seriously modified with antidepressants like serotonin reuptake inhibitors. If you use psychedelics like LSD, you can totally alter the way consciousness functions (but that's old news). They are already implanting images--physically--in people's brains as false memories. Quadriplegics are now operating computers by thinking alone through brain implants. Then there's neuroplasticity (where the mind alone physically alters the brain). Etc. etc. etc.

There's a brave new world opening up and we are privileged to live right as this is happening. I'm just not going to be discussing much more whether it exists. 

I've got to explore it right now and that's too much work to keep repeating, "It exists, it exists, it exists," to people who say, "No it doesn't, no it doesn't, no it doesn't."

For those interested but not convinced, let them read the relevant material (a start is posted in my list above in this thread) or watch the relevant videos and come to their own conclusion as to its existence. For those who already know everything and don't want to look at anything except reinforcements for their own beliefs, we're still friends. :) 

Michael

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

when things are measurable, it's kinda stupid to say measurement should be excluded or is not important.

I would not have said that. My point was that science is not restricted to the study of physical things. Psychology, I said in answer, is saturated with concepts of consciousness. Remember the focus of the article, to answer a religionist's charge that Objectivism is materialist. 

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33 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

That (and the following in your post) is an opinion

It's not an opinion, Michael. Unless you can read minds, unless you can actually consciously experience another individual's conscious experience, only the individual can experience it.

Do you claim to be able to be conscious of another's consciousness, to know what they experience when seeing, or feeling, or experiencing their internal states through interoception?

If not, then you have the same opinion I have.

Randy

 

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1 hour ago, regi said:

Do you claim to be able to be conscious of another's consciousness, to know what they experience when seeing, or feeling, or experiencing their internal states through interoception?

Regi,

On some things, sure.

This stuff is in its infancy and the cases are quite primitive, but they exist. Recorded (and implanted) images in the visual cortex, for example, are more like smudged silhouettes, but they are there.

But then again, I read.

So no, I do not have the same opinion as you.

(It exists! It exists! It exists! No it doesn't! No it doesn't! No it doesn't! - That's a fine ongoing level of discussion for a philosophy board. It makes us all look like retards. :) )

Michael

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1 hour ago, Rodney said:

I would not have said that. My point was that science is not restricted to the study of physical things. Psychology, I said in answer, is saturated with concepts of consciousness. Remember the focus of the article, to answer a religionist's charge that Objectivism is materialist. 

Rodney,

I got that. I wasn't trying to refute your article. 

I was just trying to state (probably more awkwardly than normal due to the constant repetition of other points) that much more has a physical form than was thought possible in psychology at the time you wrote that, just like there is much less volition in free choice than thought before.

But volition is there and, as I believe à la Rand, what is there is a causal agent, meaning it creates first cause.

Michael

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If I understand your point, I would reply that consciousness being an irreducible primary (I assume you agree with Rand on that), we will never be able to say that THIS physical state is a complete explanation of THAT conscious state--however many connections one might prove. Therefore, if the former contradicts the latter, we should assume that more investigation is required of the former. 

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40 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I got that. I wasn't trying to refute your article. 

Rodney,

Apropos, there are a few points in your article I do dispute, mostly dealing with religion. I am not part of any religion, but I got tired of getting my ideas about religion second hand from Rand under a hostile rubric of "mysticism," so I have gone through several college-level studies (mostly The Great Courses) and read a slew of religious books from cover to cover (The Bible, the Qu'ran, all 3 Mormon books, some Buddhist materials, the Bhagavad Gita, Augustine's Confessions, lots of stuff including a course, believe it or not, on the nature of evil, and so on--and I know I'm leaving out a lot).

This study gave me a deeper appreciation of where this stuff came from rather than simply dismissing it as an attack on the mind.

I haven't read the book, Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society by David Sloan Wilson, yet, but I own it, have skimmed through it and have read some comments by others on it. So I know I will probably agree with it. The thesis is that religions served as social glue so societies that had them tended to survive and reproduce, while societies without such social bonds tended to succumb to extinction.

Michael

 

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I would agree with that.

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28 minutes ago, Rodney said:

If I understand your point, I would reply that consciousness being an irreducible primary (I assume you agree with Rand on that), we will never be able to say...

Rodney,

I don't know enough to agree with Rand on this point anymore. I used to know enough to agree with her without thinking further about it. :)

To be clear, I believe it is plausible that there are parts of reality humans have not yet evolved organs to observe. And, if this is the case, consciousness might be part of a stratum of reality humans are now acquiring the ability to grok. In that case, consciousness would be more than an irreducible primary, it would be an incomplete one.

As to what we will never be able to say, I've seen and studied too much to foretell "never" in the future. I used to predict the future in this manner and sometimes I miss the feeling of certainty. :) 

I only state certainties nowadays on things I know, not on things I could never know owing to my human size and limitations. I find it better to say, "I don't know," rather than say something like, "God doesn't exist." I am pretty sure certain conceptions of God don't exist, but if we are referring to a higher power beyond the capacity of humans to perceive at the present, I can't state something like that as a fact. Especially since I believe humans are still evolving. I see no reason to presume we evolved up to our present state, then stopped. That would break the evolutionary pattern with no cause for the break.

I prefer to explore the parallels between Rand's metaphysics and the Hebrew God, for instance, as I wrote about recently somewhere around here. If you remove the stories and anthropomorphic personalization, the Hebrew God resembles Rand's idea of existence. Rand said, "Existence exists." Yahweh said, "I am that I am." Rand posited there was only one reality. Yahweh said there was only one God. Rand said reality encompassed humans. Yahweh said he encompassed humans. And so on.

I can know this stuff and see the parallels. I don't know the other (and probably will not develop such capability in my lifetime). So I prefer to say I don't know.

Oddly enough, once I adopted that position, it gave me more certainty than my former certainties ever did. At least I know I have to fit my certainties to my human size, not to the size of all of reality, past, present and future.

In fact, in my experience, trying to hold and proclaim a God's-eye view of everything can make you anxious as all hell.

:) 

Michael

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5 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

To be clear, I believe it is plausible that there are parts of reality humans have not yet evolved organs to observe.

That's why we build and calibrate instruments, microscopes, telescopes, interferometers, seismophones, IR detectors, spectrum analyzers.

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36 minutes ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

That's why we build and calibrate instruments, microscopes, telescopes, interferometers, seismophones, IR detectors, spectrum analyzers.

Wolf,

Partly.

Those things are to bring the parts of reality that can be perceived by the senses but are outside of human perception size to human perception size.

I'm talking about any possible parts of reality that are not accessible by the five senses (or more, depending on which theory you follow). For example, in lots of recorded history of vastly differing times and cultures, certain patterns keep repeating anecdotally like in near death experiences. One possible explanation is that we are in the middle of developing such a capacity to sense this stuff, but evolution is slow. So some of us get glimpses and others do not.

I'm not saying that's the case. I am saying I'm open to considering it enough to not bash it as twaddle and proclaim it could never be.

Michael

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
3 hours ago, regi said:

Do you claim to be able to be conscious of another's consciousness, to know what they experience when seeing, or feeling, or experiencing their internal states through interoception?

Regi,

On some things, sure.

Describe one, please.

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18 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Rodney,

 

I haven't read the book, Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society by David Sloan Wilson, yet, but I own it, have skimmed through it and have read some comments by others on it. So I know I will probably agree with it. The thesis is that religions served as social glue so societies that had them tended to survive and reproduce, while societies without such social bonds tended to succumb to extinction.

Michael

 

 

The advantages of religion which the new religionists of the Left would dearly like to emulate. They can't and have never. Mysticism (well, neo-mysticism) is always apparent, it runs on a deeper level in men's minds than simple old religions.

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On 1/23/2018 at 9:26 PM, regi said:

Since the emotions are conscious experiences, the only evidence of emotions are those conscious experiences themselves. Six people observed to have exactly the same physiological events occurring in their brains and nervous system might have entirely different conscious emotional experiences. There is only one way to know if that is true or not. Those having the experience must say, as well as they can, what their experience is. There is no way to examine another's emotional experience.

Randy

 

Randy, I've seen the same phenomenon too many times, of several background subjects photographed observing an event displaying different facial clues of their emotions. That said to me that some could be in shock, some haven't identified what they are seeing, and/or, that many have very dissimilar values/value-judgments, from downright ugly to sane and healthy. But as you say, there is no way of really knowing what each consciousness is experiencing.

If one can collectivize masses of people by a common emotion, I hardly need say, of course the potential power one has will be enormous. 

I was wondering what became of the "empathist movement" of a decade or so ago. Empathy doesn't seem as explicitly written about, taught and vocalized as then, but sure is more overtly active than ever. Compassion, nothing to fault with a person feeling it and doing anything about it, by his value and choice, has somehow gradually been coerced on us. The method to collectivized compassion is of the most primitive sort - an appeal to emotions, to show us others' (supposed, superficial, presumed) emotions and so to strike a chord in one's own. The mass movements I see on media and social media, I believe have a basic premise: "Emotions are tools of human insight".

When one has succeeded in forcing the causal reversal in one's mind, transposing value-->emotion, you get the emotional tail wagging the value dog. Broadened to more people who share a certain morality (a value), how do we know each other's values? by our emotions. How do we communicate? by emotions. To do so, as you indicate, there would have to be no end of extremely faked and forced emotions in order to properly display the 'right' emotions to the 'right' people.. Emotions which normally speaking are thankfully private and mostly not readable by others, now must be demonstrated loudly and clearly.

This ties in well to William James: "The perception of bodily changes, as they occur, is the emotion". And:

"...we feel sad because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and either we cry, strike, or tremble because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be".

One can obviously deduce that mass movements today signify behaviorism, running riot.

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Good Lord!

You mentioned a book I cited and said something I agree with.

WTF?

:)

Michael

Michael, only to mention this has been a common refrain of mine, e.g. I will often prefer to talk with a ("mystical") religionist over a (neo-mystical) secular-skeptic. :) Not to worry,  there'll be something to disagree about later.

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21 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
22 hours ago, regi said:

Do you claim to be able to be conscious of another's consciousness, to know what they experience when seeing, or feeling, or experiencing their internal states through interoception?

Regi,

On some things, sure.

This stuff is in its infancy and the cases are quite primitive, but they exist. Recorded (and implanted) images in the visual cortex, for example, are more like smudged silhouettes, but they are there.

When I asked you to describe one you implied that the above was such a description. I know you are convinced it was, and I'm certain attempting to change your mind would be a waste if time.

Still I think it is of some value to explain why what you have referred to is not an example of knowing what anyone is conscious of, not to convince you, but help you see what you must do if you are interested in convincing others that this or any other examples are actually examples of knowing what anyone else is conscious of.

There is possibly another mistake you are making, which is the assumption that anyone who disagrees with you, simply has not studied the things you have.

In 2004 I published my article, "Perception—The Validity of Perceptual Evidence," in which I described all that is wrong with the Objectivist theory of perception, and described the true nature of perception. In 2016 I published a shorter version of the article, "Perception," addressing only the true nature of perception without reference to the Objectivist mistaken view.

Since my understanding of the nature of perception was finalized sometime before 1990, I have since then read almost everything that has appeared in both the news and scientific journals concerning neurological developments in the areas of consciousness and perception and have been delighted that every step forward has agreed with my theory of perception. Science does not inform philosophy, but there can be no contradiction between a correct philosophy and science, so I have been very careful to look for any such contradiction.

Now I know none of this is new to you, but just to set the background: The optic nerve, which is actually a bunch of nerve fibers (770,000 and 1.7 million) carries the results of the stimulation of the rods and cones in the retina of the eye to the visual cortex. The eyes focus the light reaching them into an image, and the light and color components of that image are detected by the rods and cones of the retina, and that detected information is transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve where the response of visual cortex to the action of those nerves is consciously perceived as the percepts of color and light that we call "seeing."

It is possible to photograph the image that is focused on the retina. It is the image of everything in the visual field, upside down. Since the light forming that image is detected by the rods and cones in much the same way the individual photo cells of a digital camera detects an image, what is transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve is each bit of light that forms the image.

If it were possible to detect what each nerve fiber was presenting to the visual cortex it would be all the visual components of the image. When I first read about experiments attempting to analyze the processes in the visual cortex responding to the information delivered by the optic nerve, I was excited, because, if successful, it would verify my theory of perception, at least with regard to vision. As you know it was successful, and proved what was delivered to the brain via the optic nerve was the image data captured by the retina.

In spite of the hoopla, all the experiment proved is that the information reaching the visual cortex was faithful to the image projected on the retina. The experiment said nothing about how one is conscious of that image. Even if it could be illustrated that a perfect image was formed in the brain (which is not) how we see that image cannot not be explained. The forming of an image is not seeing the image.

Years ago (over sixty, actually) while reading a philosophical discussion of perception, one philosopher pointed out the one question the physicalists never answer (and most apparently do not understand). If all the behavior of the brain could be fully analyzed so that every image and every sound could be identified, if how one was conscious of those images and sounds was not explained, all that would be identified is a TV running in an empty room. The thing missing from the room would be the conscious watcher and listener. The brain doesn't see or hear anything, it is only the instrument by which one consciously sees and hears. No brain activity, biological, chemical, or electrical identifies consciousness&meash;it only identifies the brain activity.

(There is, of course, the much bigger problem for the physicalist view of consciousness, the physical impossibility of the unity of consciousness which I'll let pass for now.)

So, Michael, you have not provided me an example of anyone being conscious of another individual's consciousness. If it satisfies you, than it does, but at least, perhaps, you'll understand why it doesn't satisfy me.

Randy

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