Re: Dreaming On

From: Flammarion <>
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2009 01:39:20 -0700 (PDT)

On 27 Aug, 20:11, David Nyman <> wrote:
> 2009/8/27 Flammarion <>:
> >> and hence that it can't
> >> in and of itself tell us anything fundamental about ontology.
> > I don't think it revelas it sown ontology. OTOH, it must somehow
> > be taken accounto fi in any succesful ontology because everything
> > must.
> I've considered the various comments you've made recently and I've
> been wondering how best to proceed in our discussion, to try to avoid
> going round in circles. I'd like to focus on the question of
> ontology. You say above that consciousness doesn't "reveal its own
> ontology". If by this you mean that consciousness - in virtue of its
> mere presence - doesn't provide its own analysis, then of course this
> is obviously true. But this is not what I'm getting at here. I've
> said pretty clearly that I'm trying to articulate some of the
> implications of an 'eastern' metaphysics such as Vedanta. A typical
> statement in this tradition is something like "everything is
> consciousness", and this is indeed broadly the sense in which I'm
> ascribing ontological primacy to this category.

I'm more interested in grounds than implications. If
consc. does not reveal its own ontology, some other grounds are needed
for making it basic.

> The term consciousness carries so much freight that I'd prefer some
> more neutral expression such as primitive self-availability, but as
> you've said, non-standard vocabulary carries its own burden. Anyway,
> it's the uneliminable intrinsic availability that Chalmers is getting
> at in his zombie reductio. Any claim on this as the primitive ontic
> substrate, naturally entails that all other accounts must in principle
> be reducible or paraphraseable in terms of it, and I think that in
> fact Chalmers' own information-based dual-aspect approach has
> something useful to say on this score. Essentially, at the end of the
> short exposition in "Facing up to the Problem of Consciousness", he
> summarises the problems pretty well, and comes up with more or less
> the same intuition, adjusting for vocabulary. Here's the quote:
> "Once a fundamental link between information and experience is on the
> table, the door is opened to some grander metaphysical speculation
> concerning the nature of the world. For example, it is often noted
> that physics characterizes its basic entities only extrinsically, in
> terms of their relations to other entities, which are themselves
> characterized extrinsically, and so on. The intrinsic nature of
> physical entities is left aside. Some argue that no such intrinsic
> properties exist, but then one is left with a world that is pure
> causal flux (a pure flow of information) with no properties for the
> causation to relate. If one allows that intrinsic properties exist, a
> natural speculation given the above is that the intrinsic properties
> of the physical - the properties that causation ultimately relates -
> are themselves phenomenal properties. We might say that phenomenal
> properties are the internal aspect of information. This could answer a
> concern about the causal relevance of experience - a natural worry,
> given a picture on which the physical domain is causally closed, and
> on which experience is supplementary to the physical. The
> informational view allows us to understand how experience might have a
> subtle kind of causal relevance in virtue of its status as the
> intrinsic nature of the physical. This metaphysical speculation is
> probably best ignored for the purposes of developing a scientific
> theory, but in addressing some philosophical issues it is quite
> suggestive."
> IOW, he proposes - with charming professional tentativeness - that
> experience is the intrinsic nature of the physical - i.e. in Quinean
> terms, everything is reducible to experience. This allows him to
> paraphrase the extrinsic physical account as 'pure causal flux' - i.e.
> the abstractable relational properties of what exists. It is of
> course this abstractability or extrinsicality that makes it at the
> same time shareable and incomplete. Completing the account - adding
> back the interpretation of the causal flux - then depends on *being*
> the 'instantiation' of the flux - i.e. the intrinsic properties in the
> specified relation.

> It would interest me to see how the foregoing squares with the
> criticisms you've recently made, and whether we can at least see
> exactly where the divergence is situated.
> David

1. It seems reasonable that relations must have relata. However,
need not have a rich set of properties. You could build a physical
universe out
a single type of particle and various relations.

2. Someone's perceptual data are already encoded relationally in the
of their brain, so if qualia are intrinisc properties of relata,
something needs to arrange
that they encode the same information, so some novel laws ar required
in addition to novel

3,. The Grain problem

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Received on Fri Aug 28 2009 - 01:39:20 PDT

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