Re: Against Physics

From: Rex Allen <>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 20:17:50 -0400

On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 4:01 PM, Brent Meeker<> wrote:
>Where are you trying to get? to an immortal soul?
> a ghost-in-the-machine? What's wrong with my
> mind is what my brain does?

Where I'm trying to get is that there is no explanation for our
conscious experience. It just is.

So all that we have to work with are our observations, plus our innate
reasoning processes.

Unfortunately, these two things are not enough to determine what, if
anything, really exists outside of our experience.

At best, we can take our observations and apply our innate reasoning
processes to produce theoretical models that are consistent with what
we have observed.

Kant covered all this I think.

So first, the theories on offer, carried to their logical conclusions,
don't take you anywhere. They all hit explanatory dead ends: The
universe came into being uncaused, for no reason, and everything else
follows. Or the universe exists eternally, but with no explanation
for why this should be or why it takes the form that it does. Or the
platonically existing infinities of computational relations between
all the numbers do not just represent but inexplicably "cause" our
conscious experience of a material universe. Why? Because that's the
way it is.

Second, even if any of these things are true, there's no way that
*from inside that system* we can justify our belief that the theory is
true (as opposed to just consistent with conscious observation).

And third, even if true, the bottom line for all of them is,
"conscious experience just is what it is".

For instance: Bits of matter in particular configurations "cause"
conscious experience. Fine. So what deeper meaning can we draw from
this? None. In this case the bits of matter being in the particular
configurations that they are in is just a bare fact. The universe,
considered in its entirety, just is that way. So the conscious
experience that goes with that particle configuration just is a bare

But, by all means, continue with your theoretical system building. We
have to do something to pass the time, after all.

But, to revisit your original question:

>Where are you trying to get?

Okay, I gave you my answer. So, where are YOU trying to get?

>>> "If you make yourself small enough you can avoid responsibility for everything."
>>> --- Daniel Dennett, in Elbow Room
>> Every word in your quote, except "for", has to be considered in the
>> context of Dennett's special terminology.
> Seems prefectly straightforward to me.  If you define yourself as something apart from the
> physical processes that move your arms and legs then you avoid responsibility for what
> your arms and legs do.

Right. "If you define yourself as...". Well sure. That makes it
easy, and that's what Dennett does. Just makes up arbitrary
definitions that suit his ends.

If things were that way, that's the way they'd be alright.

But, the question is, are things that way? And if you say so, what's
your full reasoning? I mean your reasoning that takes into account
the entire ontological stack of what exists, of course -- since I
don't see any discussing an arbitrary subset of what exists that
you've conveniently carved out to make some rhetorical point about
what seems perfectly straightforward to you given some particular

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Received on Mon Aug 31 2009 - 20:17:50 PDT

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