RE: History-less observer moments

From: Higgo James <>
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 09:00:01 +0100

It strikes me that you are having a partially incoherent thought right now.
So what? Those thoughts exist too. If your thought included the idea that
there was a flying rabbit in front of you, you wouldn't be wondering why you
can't see one.

I am not adamant that there is no substrate generating these thoughts: I
simply have no need of one, and it would add a layer of complexity if there
were one.

Thoughts are thoughts: it is a subjective matter whether they are 'ant
thoughts' or 'human thoughts'. Perhaps you could objectively categrorise all
thoughts including 'I am an ant' as ant thoughts. But of course, they would
not be 'being thought' by an ant. The thought exists, but there is no

I am not wedded to this all-thoughts idea, but since it answers the
philosophical problems which have beset me over the years, I see no need to
change it until a better one comes along.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alastair Malcolm []
> Sent: Saturday, 20 May, 2000 11:41 AM
> To: Higgo James;
> Subject: Re: History-less observer moments
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Higgo James <>
> > The 'why me?' thought is associated with other thoughts, and I'm not
> curious
> > about what those other thoughts are. All thoughts exist, so the question
> of
> > why this not that is silly: it's just a matter of random sampling of OMs
> to
> > use Jacques's terminology.
> I have tried to give a readily understandable example of the logical
> decomposition of a thought experience. For the case of the thought 'why is
> it *me* having this experience' (and similar such thoughts), examples of
> these will be different according to whether it is you having it, me
> having
> it, a god having it, or (usually) a super-intelligent machine having it -
> so
> it must be *logically* decomposable into thought elements. And from this
> decomposition strategy (and the concept of 'all possible thoughts'), one
> can
> start to perform a rough analysis sufficient to cast doubt on your
> fundamental idea (as I tried to do last post).
> If it is a matter of 'random sampling of OMs' then one would expect to be
> having a partly incoherent thought *now* (such as a WR floating across in
> front of the vdu, or in one's memory of the day before), because these are
> more numerous than fully coherent thoughts.
> > I don't include or exclude an 'ordinary physics universe'. If you look
> at
> > things from the right perspective you will see an 'ordinary physics
> > universe' so in that sense it exists. Objectively, it does not.
> More problems arise from an 'all possible thoughts only' scenario. Why
> *should* lifeless universes and other thought-less entities be excluded?
> How
> do thoughts arise? What constitutes a permitted thought? A chimp's
> thought?
> An ant's thought? Where in the animal chain do thoughts suddenly become
> permitted in your scheme? Do permitted thoughts include those that take a
> long (subjective) time (like some mental arithmetic)? Thoughts are not
> tidy
> discrete entities, they merge into one another and have complex internal
> structures. Also to be explained is the remarkable coincidence of us
> happening to have thoughts about a world that already provides us with a
> perfectly good alternative explanation (in principle) of those thoughts
> (ie
> science) - most thoughts would not have this. Note also that as for other
> proposed skeptical solutions, it is anyway a condition of intelligent life
> existing that this type of hypothesis will always be available as a
> theoretically possible solution - it is a contrived choice always
> available
> to any thinking entity. (An interesting alternative contrived choice, also
> not directly dismissable by empirical evidence, would be that only
> thoughts
> of the kind 'why does this experience exist' (in conjunction with
> associated
> memory-thoughts) exist, and nothing else.)
> I could probably think of some more problems/criticisms, but I think I've
> written enough.
> Alastair

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Received on Mon May 22 2000 - 01:29:31 PDT

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