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Moral Nihilism

Started by xSilverPhinx, January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM

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Davin

Quote from: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 05:49:35 PM
nothing emerges from thiz scenario that cannot be predicted and explained from ordinary material procezzes.
Emergent properties are things that exist within a grouping of things that do not exist in the individual parts. Whether it's currently explainable or not doesn't matter to the definition. Alone, the heat, wood, and oxygen do not have fire. Combined they do. So fire is an emergent property of that combination.

I know it's explainable, that's why I chose such a basic example, so that it would match our level of discourse. If you want to have a higher level discussion, then I'm down for that too.

Quote from: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 05:49:35 PM
if thats what "emergent propertiez" means, then i dont see anything with mind and consciousnezz that cannot be explained in a similar way.
I'm not even talking about whether we have any choice in the matter. We could very well be mindless automatons acting out our commands from genetics and environment in response to stimuli, and that wouldn't make "fun" not an emergent property. What chemical, particle, or whatever material thing does "fun" come from? Does "fun" exist on its own out in the universe, or does it only exist in a complex system like a brain? You don't have many options to this question. Either you can point to a material thing that is "fun," you accept that fun is an emergent property, or you continue to avoid.
Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

billy rubin

#61
Quote from: Davin on February 07, 2020, 07:56:27 PM
I know it's explainable, that's why I chose such a basic example, so that it would match our level of discourse. If you want to have a higher level discussion, then I'm down for that too.

let's keep it basic, davin. i don't see anything complicated in it. there is nothing that you can call "mind" which cannot be explained in material terms. "fun" consists of biofeedback that results in stimulation of the pleasure centers in your brain.

by the way, i'm going to make a suggestion for you to consider.

your posting style is personally aggressive and makes you seem to be a socially challenged individual. maybe you are a socially challenged individual, or maybe you just don't have the self-awareness to see how you appear to other people.

i'm here for civil conversation, and to learn things that i don't know. i'm not into enabling people with a compulsion to spread their bad attitude or petty malice. so if that's what you plan on continuing, this is my last response to you, ever.

make a decision, davin, and we'll take it from there.



Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Recusant

Quote from: billy rubin on February 06, 2020, 10:47:39 AM
perhaps the useful point to continue is the material/immaterial queztion.

i assert that mind is in fact material, being exactly the brain in motion, electrochemically.

the working of the mind--consciouness-- can be observed with electronic instruments. when the physical signals cease, the mind is observed to cease as well. when they return, so doez the mind.

memory is the foundation of consciousnezz. without memory the mind becomes mere reflexive responses to stimuli. memory is physical, and can be located physically in various portionz of the brain.

because mind is consciouznezz worki g with memory, and consciousnesz and memory are material, the mind is material.

I wrote a response to an earlier version of this post, but the same response works for this version, so . . .

Nobody has mentioned mind-body dualism, but I want to be clear that I don't think the position I've advanced is dualist. I don't think that minds can be separated from brains. Rather, I'm asserting that minds can be understood as a manifestation of events and actions taking place in brains. Physical actions and events are not physical objects, nor are they material in the sense that physical objects are.

As an illustration: a bat striking a ball is a physical event. That event is not the same type of thing as either a bat or a ball. You can hold a bat or a ball in your hand, but you can't hold the striking of a ball by a bat in your hand. An event is not a material thing, but a physical occurrence in space-time. In the same way, a mind is not a material thing, but a large number of events taking place in a brain. A brain does thinking, but brains are not thought.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


billy rubin

i for one wasn't thinking you were proposing a dualism, as in body/spirit, for instance.

but yes, i agree that a physical object is not the same as the events that include that object. a ball rolling down a hill is not the act of rolling, it is a ball.

but then it gets fuzzy, it seems to me. memories are clearly physical--stored information. the act of retrieving them and processing them into the present is not an object, but is rather a manipulation of objects. when does the process of juggling become distinct from the juggled objects, or even from the juggler? i'm not sure.

what about a smell, or a touch? where does process separate from components? but what about the memory of the smell of the grass you cut yesterday? the memory of the smell is a physical bit oif coded data, stored electrochemically between neurons. to retrieve the memory into thought, you pull the physical chain and then re-live a series of experiences that exist only as material. the actual process of experiencing the memory is inseparable from the physical, material reactions needed to bring it into existence.


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Recusant

I have not suggested that minds and their constituent components are separable from brains. Rather I dispute the assertion that minds are material things. I think I've explained clearly why I don't agree with an assertion that they are, and I have yet to see a sound argument against my position here.

There is no fuzziness in this, in my opinion. Certainly memories must be in some way physical (I don't think it's fully understood just how they're "stored"). However, memories are something that minds utilize; they are not equivalent to minds. The mind can be understood as the product of electrical and chemical events occurring in a brain but these events are not material things, while a brain is a material thing.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


billy rubin

#65
im thinking about this


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

billy rubin

#66
.i think the difference here is partly just terminology.

when i use the term "material," i explicitly refer to electrochemical processes as included. the mind is the electric current that illuminates the light on your porch. material electrons in motion. when abzent, your light goes out.

still thinking. im trying to decide whether the current that runs through the wires can be considered a separate component from the functioning circuit itself. im not sure it can.

ive brought this up before and deleted it. but its appropriate. think of a river. a river is not a static object like a ball or a bat. if you remove the process, the events, as you say, from a river it is no longer a river. what we call a river requires active traction, flow, turbulence, erosion, deposition, meandering, floods, ebbs, and lots of other things that must be dynamic to exist. take them away and the river ceases to exist as a river. perhaps it haz become a cutoff meander, or an oxbow lake. whatever it is, excluding process haz made it into somethi g else.

in cases like these, material is inseperable from immaterial in the nature of the subject.


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Dark Lightning

Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 01:22:26 AM
i made a double post, so here is a picture i took of the grand tetons instead



Only a horny French man on an exploration would have seen teats in those mountains, but since they were pointed out, they seem to be there.

Doesn't look like that from the other side, btw.

billy rubin

#68
gros venture is a bit east of them

The Big Belly

i like th t image. four different horizons, stacked. i should have waded out to stomp that dead bush and make the image completely without depth, but the znow was preetty deep


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Davin

Quote from: billy rubin on February 07, 2020, 10:44:11 PM
Quote from: Davin on February 07, 2020, 07:56:27 PM
I know it's explainable, that's why I chose such a basic example, so that it would match our level of discourse. If you want to have a higher level discussion, then I'm down for that too.

let's keep it basic, davin. i don't see anything complicated in it. there is nothing that you can call "mind" which cannot be explained in material terms. "fun" consists of biofeedback that results in stimulation of the pleasure centers in your brain.
Right, we have to take this a step at a time because you keep doing things like this. We have to create a foundation of things we agree upon, and build up from there. But you consistently avoid making that foundation and jump straight to knocking the whole thing down. So do you agree with the definition and example of emergent properties, can you point to the element that makes fun that is not emergent, or are you going to continue to avoid having any semblance of a rational discussion?

I mean, look in the second bit:

Quote from: billy rubin
there is nothing that you can call "mind" which cannot be explained in material terms. "fun" consists of biofeedback that results in stimulation of the pleasure centers in your brain.

You claim that fun exists in a system, great. The question is, does fun only exist in a system like that, or does it exist on its own outside of a system?

I'm not trying to trick or deceive. If fun only exists in the system, then it's an emergent property. If fun exists outside of a system, on its own, then it's not an emergent property.

Quote from: billy rubin
by the way, i'm going to make a suggestion for you to consider.

your posting style is personally aggressive and makes you seem to be a socially challenged individual. maybe you are a socially challenged individual, or maybe you just don't have the self-awareness to see how you appear to other people.
I appreciate your opinion. I see that you're trying to open up this personal suggestion stuff and are attacking me directly, but I feel like that's not a very civil way to behave so I will refrain from responding in kind.

Quote from: billy rubin
i'm here for civil conversation, and to learn things that i don't know. i'm not into enabling people with a compulsion to spread their bad attitude or petty malice. so if that's what you plan on continuing, this is my last response to you, ever.
I'm here for civil discussion. That's why I engage and consider all the points you respond with. But you do not, you avoid and ignore a major majority of my posts, which makes me think that you're not really here for civil discussion.

Quote from: billy rubin
make a decision, davin, and we'll take it from there.
Aside from taking things as far as you do, I'm following the basic rules that if a person treats me a certain way, then they tacitly agree to be treated the same way. See how I treat other people. I respond in kind because I assume that how people treat other people is how they want to be treated. You've made your decision on how you to treat me, if you don't like it coming back at you, then you can stop at any time.
Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

billy rubin

that was your last strike, davin.


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Davin

Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

Recusant

#72
Quote from: billy rubin on February 09, 2020, 08:41:54 PM
.i think the difference here is partly just terminology.

when i use the term "material," i explicitly refer to electrochemical processes as included. the mind is the electric current that illuminates the light on your porch. material electrons in motion. when abzent, your light goes out.

still thinking. im trying to decide whether the current that runs through the wires can be considered a separate component from the functioning circuit itself. im not sure it can.

ive brought this up before and deleted it. but its appropriate. think of a river. a river is not a static object like a ball or a bat. if you remove the process, the events, as you say, from a river it is no longer a river. what we call a river requires active traction, flow, turbulence, erosion, deposition, meandering, floods, ebbs, and lots of other things that must be dynamic to exist. take them away and the river ceases to exist as a river. perhaps it haz become a cutoff meander, or an oxbow lake. whatever it is, excluding process haz made it into somethi g else.

in cases like these, material is inseperable from immaterial in the nature of the subject.

I think that you would agree that to the best of our current knowledge, minds do not and cannot exist without brains. However, can brains exist without minds? Belated though it may be, perhaps it's worthwhile to agree on a definition (hat-tip to Davin) here.

I usually consult two dictionaries initially when I'm looking for a reference from which to attempt to build consensus on definitions: Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary. Merriam-Webster is online, though one needs a paid account to get their unabridged version. Oxford English Dictionary is as well, though for that one needs either a paid account or access through their library. I prefer the OED itself, though there are a couple of free dictionary sites (Lexico and the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries) run by the same organisation.

So, for mind--

From Merriam-Webster:

Quote2a: the element or complex [. . .] of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons [. . .]

b: the conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism

c: the organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

QuoteThe seat of awareness, thought, volition, feeling, and memory; cognitive and emotional phenomena and powers considered as constituting a presiding influence; the mental faculty of a human being (esp. as regarded as being separate from the physical); (occasionally) this whole system as constituting a person's character or individuality.

From Lexico:

QuoteThe element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.

I think we might conclude that a mind requires a particular level of consciousness to qualify for the name. It would warp the meaning of the word to claim that a flatworm or an ant have a mind, while to deny that dogs, dolphins, bonobos, ravens, etc. have minds seems much too restrictive.

With the above in mind :sidesmile: I will assert that functioning brains can exist without minds, but minds cannot exist without functioning brains. A river that doesn't do "rivering" does not remain a river, agreed, but a brain that doesn't do "minding" remains a brain, despite the fact that it doesn't have the capacity for consciousness and thought. I think it's almost certain that the majority of brains on this planet are not conscious, and do not think. They don't have the capacity to bring something novel into the world. Many of them don't even really have the capacity to learn and understand things on an individual level, though at least some of them must contribute to the evolution of instinct.

The fully functioning brain of a human being is qualitatively different from the fully functioning brain of an ant. The difference being that the human being has a mind while the ant does not.

A mind is not separable from a brain (at least as of now--there are speculations about transferring minds from brains to sufficiently complex non-biological substrates, and perhaps at some point there will be computers with minds), but a mind is not the same thing as a brain, either. It seems that you may be acknowledging here that a mind is not a material thing like a brain.

Whether you do acknowledge that or not, we might return to the question of whether meaning really exists. To me the statement "there is no meaning in the universe" is nonsensical because there clearly is meaning in the universe--that which is assigned by minds. It follows then that the claim that "morality has no meaning" fails as well. I already explained why I consider "objective meaning" to be inherently self-contradictory and therefore of no utility in understanding this topic.

I agree that from some mythical "objective" point of view, using the well-being of the species as a basis for morality is arbitrary. However, I think that the well-being of the species is as close to being "objectively" superior to any other basis for morality as we are going to achieve.

I'll return to another earlier point as well--

Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM. . . but if i decide that morality must be based on survival of a planetary ecosystem, rather than the continued survival of my own species, then the greatest moral act i could perform might be the extinction of the human race. after all, human beings are not good for a balanced, self-sustaining natural ecology. and so on.

I don't think this actually refutes the basis for morality that I've proposed. We know that in the past, the planetary ecosystem has been wiped out by the strike of a meteorite. The survival of the planetary ecosystem may at some point in the future be dependent on the intervention of Homo sapiens to prevent another such event. A morality based on survival of the planetary ecosystem is required to take that into account if it's going to be self-consistent. Regardless, our species is part of the planetary ecosystem, and a morality based on the well-being of the species would of necessity encompass ensuring the well-being of the ecosystem, as I said previously.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


billy rubin

gawd my worst nightmare

a post even longer than the ones i write

recusant, im thinking about this, but would you pleaee clarify what you mean by "objective," as in objective morals, objective meaning, and so on? ive seen the term used so many ways (along with subjective) that i no longer know what people mean when they use it.


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Tank

Quote from: billy rubin on February 10, 2020, 08:25:45 PM
gawd my worst nightmare

a reply longer than the ones i write

:rofl:

This is why I don't get involved in the blood bath known as philosophy.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
"Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt." ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.