Monday, February 25, 2008

Go with the Flow...

...it's what a dead fish would do! Speaking of fishy things, what would a Naturalistic picture of the mind look like? Would the mind be, basically, the brain processing information about the body's surroundings; that information being a bit like the copy (not the paint) in some painting of some external pattern caused by the (bearer of the) latter, much as I see the Moon because that image was caused by the Moon?
......But the Moon also causes the tides, whose patterns therefore resemble those of the Moon's orbit; and while the brain processes its information, estuaries do channel tidal waters between banks that are shaped, in part, by those very waters. And while the brain has evolved, to be a relatively stable system, so have land masses (without river-dragons perceiving pearls, presumably). The thing is, the structure of a physical process is just a set (of spatio-temporal correlations)...
......So we could find isomorphic structures (e.g. of a brain's mind momentarily believing that, since there is believing, hence there is a believer) physically instantiated within land masses (e.g. as a subset of the chemical structure); and so it seems that the only reason why materialistic theories of mind are not in serious trouble is that they don't actually exist (as actual theories). And since they don't, we can't actually apply Occam's razor to the extra-physical bits (not without losing a lot of predictive power).
......Now, there are other approaches to mind, but the scientific way to judge between property and substantial dualism would be to compare what they suggest (about the extra aspects of the world) with what the world itself indicates (we should test apposite aspects, of course; psychical and parapsychological researchers have tended not to). So, whereas property dualism seems to suggest a lot of empathic communion, a natural ease to telepathic exchanges of information (at least wherever brains had not evolved to block it), such as should be noticable were it there, do we actually find that?
......No, whereas substantial dualism suggests (since our quantum-mechanically physical brains are somehow affected by our choices) that we should expect micro-psychokinetic effects (more than telepathic ones, if our souls are as distinct as they seem to be) in living brains, which would naturally be more obscure. Maybe such effects could also be observed (less naturally, but then we are creative creatures) in other physical systems, although such things (unlike spoon-benders and poltergeists) have yet to be investigated properly (even though such effects are essentially controllable); but why? (Is it that Naturalism is unscientific?)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Less blogging; more slogging!

Well, today's attempt to approximate quality by quantity didn't seem to work, so what I'll do next is less blogging; more slogging out of rigorous arguments, that's what I need to do (for a while anyway). E.g. why do I think that hash, # = 1/0, is a proper number? At the moment my attitude is well, why do we think that a half, 1/2, is a proper number? Because it's an answer to "How much?" (and also, halves being primitive numbers, an answer to "How many?"), e.g. if 3 apples are divided equally between 2 boys, how many apples do they each get? One and a half. Apples being smoothly extended objects (more or less), 1 apple can be divided into 2 equal parts, into halves. Similarly (and more generally) if a unit amount of any continuum is divided into N equal parts, those parts should have measures of 1/N.
......And in particular, if # is the cardinality of the continuum (the number of points in a line full of points) then the parts will be points, with measures of 1/# = 0. That 0 is not, as the cardinal 0 and (intuitively) the more primitive half were, an answer to "How many?" but rather to "How much?" (cf. how likely we are to hit any particular point if an infinitely fine dart is thrown at random at a line of points, none of which it would be impossible to hit); and note how differently the primitive 1/2 and the rather more discovered 0 (and similarly #) relate to 'many' and 'much.' Anyway, if continua are full of points, # is a proper number (just like 0 is). Not very compelling, perhaps; but then, that's why I'll be blogging less, for a bit (if I hold myself to that)...

The sky is blue, therefore it exists

Quine thought (I gather) that revising our logic is not an option (is illogical) because to do so would be to make too many changes throughout our web of beliefs; but we might expect inferences made automatically (unconsciously) to change as readily as our natures (as we grow up, and fall under new hormones, or take on new roles, or as we grow old and lose some neurones, and so forth)—an upsetting but not untypical thing for brains to do—and inferences made more rationally (consciously) had already changed enormously by Quine's time (set-theoretical proofs having replaced Euclidean intuitions) without massive upset to most mathematics, or to the scientific method. There were huge changes to our physical (and social) world-views, of course, and there must be some ordering to our rational revisioning; but what?
......I suspect that, really, we still reason according to the Euclidean intuitions that still structure the (paradigmatically) real world around us; that we don't actually have a choice about that. Consequently we can revise our theoretical logics (e.g. adopt a quantum logic for physics, if that's easier for the physicists) without that affecting many of our scientific beliefs; although lots of people therefore have a rational distrust of modern science, because it seems (when viewed by the natural light of our common sense) quite illogical beyond its technological applications.

Blue Sky Thinking

Look at the blue of the sky and say to yourself “How blue the sky is!”—When you do it spontaneously—without philosophical intentions—the idea never crosses your mind that this impression of colour belongs only to you. And you have no hesitation in exclaiming that to someone else. And if you point at anything as you say the words you point to the sky.
That’s from Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, 1953, para 275; cf. Kevin Ayers, 1970—"Blue is the colour of sky, and I won’t even try to explain how or why, I’ll just show you the sky."

Wither with a whither

Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.

That's from Thomas's Out in the Dark,
from The Great War.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ancient Philosophy

If you think the world is
a clutter of existence
Falling through the air
with minimal resistance
You could be right,
how would I know?
Colossal youth is showing the way to go

That's from Moxham's Colossal Youth, 1980

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Odyssey Theodicy

I've renamed my theodicy as above (see that link: but basically, the acceptability of this world's evils follows from our volunteering, in a previous, more heavenly life, for these lives, which are worthwhile because of a divine purpose which is a plausible possibility given open theism) because I love repetitive syntax in titles, but also because the Odyssey connotes how our souls volunteered, for these dangerous (morally and physically) incarnations, because (we're brave and) being here, so remote (epistemically) from the Heaven where we belong (and long to be), creates a certain sensitivity (as below) to the divine, thereby enabling the transcendental possibility of other Creators (of which there may well be none) to be investigated scientifically.
......Because our dreams are human-made they are (in themselves, like our thoughts) further from our Creator even than the Earth, but they're also (in consequence) a way for us to express our deepest longings (and they're akin to that other stuff that godlike creatures can create, music). They're also (by design) the natural medium though which God (and the gods) can
communicate with us personally (facilitating the aforementioned sensitivity). And to keep us safe (and on track) God also intervenes in the wider world, causing the great transformation of science, monotheism, history and literature (e.g. the tales of the travails of the traveller Odysseus, inspiring dreams which might appear, to an overseeing god, like so many slightly charged particles, arranged in arrays precisely tuned to such fields as a greater charge might generate), and more recently the incarnation of God as Jesus.