Re: Artificial Philosophizing

From: <>
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 11:30:59 -0500

Bruno wrote:
> ... and note that the coherence of taking simultaneously
> both a and b above is provided by the incompleteness
> results (Godel, ...) which can be summarized by "... no
> machine can grasp all aspect of machine".
> Bruno

Thanks, Bruno, for the above and also your more lengthy response, and
also to Jef for your response below. After I posted the question below
about Bruno's a) and b) I realised that I had set up a false dichotomy,
and I was bracing for the appeal to Godel which Bruno and in a way also
Jef responsed with. I've been trying to figure out how best to pose
what I was actually trying to get at and I've been busy, but I wanted
say thanks for the response. For now, I think that there's a problem
with defining what a machine is. As Bruno said, now we really don't
know what a machine is. So in the absense of a precise definition,
perhaps we end up running away from ill-defined words like "machine",
"reason", "soul", "faith", etc., for who knows what personal "reasons".
  I recognize that part of the problem is a difference in philosophy,
the prime example being the Platonic vs. Aristotelian. I guess this
underscores the importance of Jeanne's original question about the
place for philosophy in subjects like Artificial Intelligence. Perhaps
this is obvious to most of us here, but it is an interesting question.
In fact, the very question "Why philosophize?" is actually
philosophizing. We humans just can't get away from it. It's what we
do naturally. And perhaps this is part of what I'm trying to get at.
A machine has to be interviewed by a human in order to philosophize.
We humans are somehow the source of something from nothing in a way
that a machine is not (Jef's "something special about the human
experience"). This is part of the definition of a machine, as I see it.

Back to thinking.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jef Allbright <>
To: <>
Sent: Tue, 7 Feb 2006 20:18:35 -0800
Subject: Re: Artificial Philosophizing

On 2/7/06, <> wrote:
> >>So Bruno says that:
> >>a) "I am a machine."
> >>b) " man can grasp all aspect of man"

A and b above both make sense to me.

> >>Jef and Brent say that we are machines
> >>who (that?) philosophize.

I'll agree that was implied by my statement.

> I suggest we start out by concentrating on the fact that Brent and Jef
> don't agree with Bruno's b) above.

Note that I would in fact agree with both a and b above.

> (And also perhaps Bruno doesn't
> agree with himself (Bruno's a) vs. b) above)). If we truly are
> machines, then by definition we should be able to (in theory) figure
> out the "list of instructions" that we follow. But wouldn't this be
> grasping all aspects of ourselves? If not, then what part of
> is outside of the realm of being able to grasp, and if so, how can we
> say we are machines in a totally closed rationalistic/naturalistic
> world? Brent and Jef's paragraphs sound mystical to me, as mystical
> any other "first truth" assumption.

I intentionally adopted a mystical tone in response to Tom's assertion
about "modern philosophy" being the "death of humanness" since I was
trying to relate to someone who appeared to be saying that there's
something essentially special about the human experience.

So I agreed, trying to show that from the subjective point of view,
the human experience certainly is extraordinary, but that it's all a
part of an objectively knowable, but never fully known, world.

My viewpoint is mystical to the extent that Albert Einstein and
Buckminster Fuller were mystical, acknowledging the mystery of our
experience while remaining fully grounded in an empirical but never
fully knowable reality.

To go to the heart of Tom's assertion about complete self knowledge,
in order for a system to fully "know" something, it must contain a
complete model of that something within itself, therefore the system
that knows must always be more complex than that which it knows.

It seems to me that much endless discussion and debate about the
nature of the Self, Free Will and Morality hinges on a lack of
understanding of the relationship between the subjective and objective
viewpoint, and that each tends to expand in ever-increasing spheres of

Expanding the sphere of subjective understanding across an increasing
scope of subjective agents and their interactions provides
ever-increasing but never complete understanding of shared values that
work. Expanding the sphere of objective understanding provides
increasing scope of instrumental knowledge of practices that work.
Combining the two by applying increasingly objective instrumental
knowledge toward the promotion of increasingly shared subjective
values is the very essence of moral decision-making.

Paradox is always a case of insufficient context.

- Jef
Increasing awareness for increasing morality
Received on Wed Feb 15 2006 - 11:54:11 PST

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