Metaphysical Death Match: Mental vs. Physical

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Jerry Hull

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Aug 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/24/99
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There is a horrendous problem with the customary picture of the mental
vs. the physical, that almost everyone ignores or shrugs away. Viz.,
there is no place for the mental in the physical world: it does not
fit in anywhere! Many folks conveniently assume that the mental is
somehow "in the head", but if you look inside the head it's not there.
All you can find are brains and other physical stuff. So the only
apparent alternatives are to (1) try to shoehorn it somewhere else in
the physical world, e.g. in overt behavior, in a manner that is
ultimately uninteresting or irrelevant to the traditional claims of
mentality; or (2) simply declare that it does not exist, an
unfortunate fiction of pre-scientific philosophical witch-doctoring
Despite all this, mental stuff seems hard to exorcise, like the
headache that persistently stares out of our eyes when we awake after
an evening of overindulgence, reminiscent of an old bit of doggerel:

There is a man upon the stair,
A little man who isn't there.
I saw him there again today;
How I wish he'd go away!

But we can learn something from an intriguingly analogous problem in a
very different area of philosophy: ethics. There the difficulty is
how to locate values in a world of facts. Facts consist of what "is"
the case. whilst values consist of what "ought to be the case". Now
we know where to find facts: they are the concern of science. We
have all sorts of sophisticated tools for determining or hypothesizing
what is or is not the case. But they never seem to tell us what ought
to be the case. I may feel that something is wrong, but that's just
my feeling -- i.e., a fact about me. Just because I feel something is
wrong does not imply it is wrong. Indeed, even if everybody agreed
(and they never do) that something is wrong, that does not make it
wrong; anymore than everybody believing the world is flat would make
it flat.

So moral philosophers typically try (1) to find room for values
somewhere in the world of fact, some kind of "queer fact" that
inevitably turns out to be uninteresting or irrelevant to the
traditional concerns of ethicists; or (2) they simply declare that
values do not exist, an unfortunate fiction of pre-scientific
philosophical witch-doctoring. Sound familiar? Still values doggedly
persist, even in the claim that "we ought not believe they exist"!

In the case of morality, the scales start to fall from our eyes when
we realize that the inability to locate value in the world of fact
demonstrates that there is something askew about the usual conception
of the world of fact. Indeed, the conventional picture has things
exactly backwards. Value is not (at best) some kind of queer fact;
rather, fact is a kind of value. Truth value is indeed a kind of
value. Not just a borrowed mathematical sense, but in the sense of
something that is valued because of its usefulness for beings with
purposes and desires and the ability to act. "Truth" is the accolade
we confer upon those representations that best depict the way things
are. Knowing how things are and are not is, obviously, extremely
valuable to any being that can and must choose what to do.

Let me suggest an analogous solution in the mind-body arena. The
inability to locate mind in the physical world shows that there is
something askew in the conventional conception of the physical world.
Indeed, it has things simply upside-down. Mentality is not (at best)
a kind of queer, misconstrued physicality; rather physicality is a
kind of mentality. This may seem unconvincing, at first, because we
are so accustomed to think of the mental as what is left over when one
has determined what is physical -- a subset. Rather, I am suggesting,
it is the superset.

The conception of the physical world is achieved by excluding
everything that is person-variant. This is, of course, extremely
useful for the purposes of science, because it gets out of the way
vast domains of things where there are ambiguous or conflicting
procedures for resolving disagreements with others. Instead of using
your foot and my foot, or the current king's foot, as a unit of linear
measure, we instead all agree to use this stick with two marks on it.
Instead of using how things look to me or how they look to you, for
telling if something is "red", we agree to use this spectrometer
reading. By being person-invariant, such "objective" measures are
biased towards noone in particular and therefore equally useful for
all.

But because the physical world, and the honor of "objectivity" that we
confer upon it, is useful for all hardly entails that what is not
useful for all -- the person-variant, the "subjective" -- does not
exist. It is still the unavoidable backdrop for all of our
experiences, the "little man" that won't go away no matter how we try
to deny or ignore it. The mental, I am suggesting, is not what is
excluded from consideration when we restrict our attention to the
person-invariant, but rather the encompassing domain in which that
restriction or exclusion occurs. And that which is left over, when we
compose our model of "physical reality", is no less real for not
existing in the same way for others.

--
Jer
"When you are at sea, keep clear of the land",
Publilius Syrus

Andomar

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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There is something physical in the head that may
well represent conscience: neural activity. How
do 1,000,000,000 neurons behave when you put them
together?

When you throw 1,000,000,000 water molecules together,
they all add up statistically. But neurons manage
to take all their interactions and manifest them
on a large scale. This 'manifestation' might
well be the 'mental reality'.

Interestingly, when neural activity stops, the
person-variant reality ceases to exist. But the
physical reality is still there. Therefore,
mental reality must be a subset of physical
reality.

Jerry Hull

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 01:26:10 +0200, Andomar <not...@like.the.sun>
wrote:

This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
(as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
"mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
claim I was trying to make.

Andomar

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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> This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
> causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
> and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
> entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
> the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
> (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
> "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
> claim I was trying to make.
>
-----

Actually, "dependant on" might be a better phrase than "caused by".
Is it possible for a superset to depend on a subset...? I guess so.

Your claim that causality is a part of the mental world but not
of the physical world is interesting. But might it not be possible
to explain causality by pointing out certain physical properties
of the brain? Let's say this and that neuron interact in these
ways, to make a human think according to causality.

In that case, causality would be a part of the physical brain.

Jerry Hull

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 05:55:04 +0200, Andomar <not...@like.the.sun>
wrote:

>> This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
>> causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
>> and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
>> entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
>> the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
>> (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
>> "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
>> claim I was trying to make.
>

>Actually, "dependant on" might be a better phrase than "caused by".
>Is it possible for a superset to depend on a subset...? I guess so.
>
>Your claim that causality is a part of the mental world but not
>of the physical world is interesting. But might it not be possible
>to explain causality by pointing out certain physical properties
>of the brain? Let's say this and that neuron interact in these
>ways, to make a human think according to causality.
>
>In that case, causality would be a part of the physical brain.

The whole point of my little essay was to sketch out a landscape in
which there is a place for the mental as well as the physical. No
doubt our conception of causality has some foundation in the physical
brain. But on the other hand, the very notion of the physical brain
is a product of mind.

Jim Balter

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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For clarity on this subject, I suggest the "What is my theory?"
section of Daniel Dennett's introduction to his _Brainstorms_.
There he lays out the approachs and problems of type identity
theory, Turing machine functionalism, token functionalism,
type intentialism, and so on. His text is a gem, and provides
a framework for thinking about these issues that I think is quite
necessary in order to avoid a complete muddle. Dennett attempts
to answer the question "What do two people have in common when they
both believe that snow is white?" and shows how various views fail
simple tests. Just recognizing that one needs to be able to provide
answers to such questions in light of one's theoretical views is a
huge step.

--
<J Q B>


Soenke N. Greimann

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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Jerry Hull wrote:
>
> On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 01:26:10 +0200, Andomar <not...@like.the.sun>
> wrote:
>
> >There is something physical in the head that may
> >well represent conscience: neural activity. How
> >do 1,000,000,000 neurons behave when you put them
> >together?
> >
> >When you throw 1,000,000,000 water molecules together,
> >they all add up statistically. But neurons manage
> >to take all their interactions and manifest them
> >on a large scale. This 'manifestation' might
> >well be the 'mental reality'.
> >
> >Interestingly, when neural activity stops, the
> >person-variant reality ceases to exist. But the
> >physical reality is still there. Therefore,
> >mental reality must be a subset of physical
> >reality.
>
> This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
> causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
> and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
> entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
> the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
> (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
> "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
> claim I was trying to make.

Reinforcing exactly nothing, sorry. :-/

The fact that A causes B is most definitely present in the physical world,
else we would not be able to perceive it. As for the term "causality" and
all the baggage we attribute to it, they are most definitely mental, but
the root of things lies in the physical world.
Causality is not a constraint we impose on the physical. It is an observed
fact that is present in the physical and which we then incorporate into
the mental. In that sense, your whole paragraph is sort of contradictory.

Perhaps you are confused because the physical world manifests itself in
each of our individual minds, and therefore assume that some things that
are physical are in fact mental...



> --
> Jer
> "When you are at sea, keep clear of the land",
> Publilius Syrus

Sönke N. Greimann
E O I R

--
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi
dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

Jerry Hull

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 17:52:01 +0200, "Soenke N. Greimann"
<grei...@uni-trier.de> wrote:

>Jerry Hull wrote:
>>
>> On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 01:26:10 +0200, Andomar <not...@like.the.sun>
>> wrote:

>> >Interestingly, when neural activity stops, the
>> >person-variant reality ceases to exist. But the
>> >physical reality is still there. Therefore,
>> >mental reality must be a subset of physical
>> >reality.
>>
>> This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
>> causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
>> and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
>> entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
>> the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
>> (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
>> "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
>> claim I was trying to make.

>The fact that A causes B is most definitely present in the physical world,


>else we would not be able to perceive it. As for the term "causality" and
>all the baggage we attribute to it, they are most definitely mental, but
>the root of things lies in the physical world.
>Causality is not a constraint we impose on the physical. It is an observed
>fact that is present in the physical and which we then incorporate into
>the mental. In that sense, your whole paragraph is sort of contradictory.

Causality is NOT something we "perceive", except insofar as we PRESUME
it underlies the phenomena of perception. As Hume made abundantly
clear, all we "perceive" is constant conjuction, which in some
circumstances we believe provides warrant for the assumption of a
law-like regularity. That every event has a cause is NOT something we
learn from experience -- it is something we impose upon experience.
And indeed we are justified in doing so, insofar as it tends to work
out in practice (although QM imposes certain qualifications).

My point is that the very NOTION of the "physical world" represents a
form of mental modeling which, albeit useful, is both logically prior
to the physical world and not itself as such part of it. Where's the
contradiction?

Andomar

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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"Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:
>
> Jerry Hull wrote:
> >
> > On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 01:26:10 +0200, Andomar <not...@like.the.sun>
> > wrote:
> >
> > >There is something physical in the head that may
> > >well represent conscience: neural activity. How
> > >do 1,000,000,000 neurons behave when you put them
> > >together?
> > >
> > >When you throw 1,000,000,000 water molecules together,
> > >they all add up statistically. But neurons manage
> > >to take all their interactions and manifest them
> > >on a large scale. This 'manifestation' might
> > >well be the 'mental reality'.
> > >
> > >Interestingly, when neural activity stops, the
> > >person-variant reality ceases to exist. But the
> > >physical reality is still there. Therefore,
> > >mental reality must be a subset of physical
> > >reality.
> >
> > This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
> > causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
> > and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
> > entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
> > the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
> > (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
> > "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
> > claim I was trying to make.
> The fact that A causes B is most definitely present in the physical world,
> else we would not be able to perceive it. As for the term "causality" and
> all the baggage we attribute to it, they are most definitely mental, but
> the root of things lies in the physical world.

Causes might not be present in the physical world. It might be that
two events you give a causal relation are in fact different
manifestations of the same event. Or in fact, totally unrelated.
It's not very long ago people assumed a causal relation between
a solar eclips and economic disaster. I don't think such a relation
is part of the physical world at all!

Also, "cause" is not a measurable, so it's not physical. It's
something you make up in your mind and then assume is true.

I agree with Jerry on this one.

Sergio Navega

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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Jerry Hull wrote in message <37c428a...@news-server.stny.rr.com>...

>On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 17:52:01 +0200, "Soenke N. Greimann"
><grei...@uni-trier.de> wrote:
>>The fact that A causes B is most definitely present in the physical world,
>>else we would not be able to perceive it. As for the term "causality" and
>>all the baggage we attribute to it, they are most definitely mental, but
>>the root of things lies in the physical world.
>>Causality is not a constraint we impose on the physical. It is an observed
>>fact that is present in the physical and which we then incorporate into
>>the mental. In that sense, your whole paragraph is sort of contradictory.
>
>Causality is NOT something we "perceive", except insofar as we PRESUME
>it underlies the phenomena of perception. As Hume made abundantly
>clear, all we "perceive" is constant conjuction, which in some
>circumstances we believe provides warrant for the assumption of a
>law-like regularity. That every event has a cause is NOT something we
>learn from experience -- it is something we impose upon experience.
>And indeed we are justified in doing so, insofar as it tends to work
>out in practice (although QM imposes certain qualifications).
>


This is beautiful, Jerry. But I'm not sure I agree.
If our ideas of causality doesn't come from experience, where
did they come from? Why we impose this upon experience and
not the opposite?

When we see causality as emerging from our experiences, I guess
we can justify better its origins: it is the world "driving us" to
conclude that. But assuming different origins for our notions of
causality (or our need to have it) with things other than
experience leaves an open hole: where it comes from?

Regards,
Sergio Navega.


Seth Russell

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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Jerry Hull wrote:

> There is a horrendous problem with the customary picture of the mental
> vs. the physical, that almost everyone ignores or shrugs away. Viz.,
> there is no place for the mental in the physical world: it does not
> fit in anywhere!

This is the first time I've heard this problem squarely addressed, thanks
for your timely post. I have tried to combined the gestalt of your post
with the "privileged viewpoints" idea that I have been toying with to
arrive at a couple of diagrams that I would like to share with the group.

The first diagram pictures the one and only single universe. It shows all
of humanity as a single figure against the background of the rest of the
universe. It shows the relative positions of our personal mental spaces
to the shared mental space of our human culture. It pictures the
boundary interface between this humanity and the shared "physical" space,
but time and space are not represented in the diagram. see
http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_outside.gif

> The mental, I am suggesting, is not what is
> excluded from consideration when we restrict our attention to the
> person-invariant, but rather the encompassing domain in which that
> restriction or exclusion occurs. And that which is left over, when we
> compose our model of "physical reality", is no less real for not
> existing in the same way for others.

The second diagram pictures the same thing (in fact you can see it is the
same diagram), but it is from the new perspective you propose. see
http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_inside.gif

Every point in the surface of both diagrams represent a fact. The points
are ordered by cause and effect. There are a number of aspects of reality
that these mentographs do not correctly picture. Can anyone spot the
problems?

Sometimes we see things before we can hear them.

Seth Russell
Want a introduction to Knowledge Representation?
see http://www.clickshop.com/ai/symknow.htm

Seth Russell

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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"Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:

> Jerry Hull wrote:
> >
> > This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
> > causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
> > and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
> > entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
> > the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
> > (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
> > "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
> > claim I was trying to make.
>

> Reinforcing exactly nothing, sorry. :-/

> The fact that A causes B is most definitely present in the physical world,
> else we would not be able to perceive it. As for the term "causality" and
> all the baggage we attribute to it, they are most definitely mental, but
> the root of things lies in the physical world.
> Causality is not a constraint we impose on the physical. It is an observed
> fact that is present in the physical and which we then incorporate into
> the mental. In that sense, your whole paragraph is sort of contradictory.

I think you completely missed Hull's valid point that the relationship
"caused-by" is quite distinct from the relationship "a subset of". And in
passing I note that the pattern of cause and effect can be observed
supervening on facts of the natural world as well as facts of the mental
world. For the former consider the pattern [when I release my grip on this
ball, it will fall to the ground]; and for the latter consider the pattern
[the change in the value of my stock has made me very happy]. Please note
that both of those patterns of cause and effect can be publicly verified.

Seth Russell

Anders N Weinstein

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
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In article <37c2bb78...@news-server.stny.rr.com>,

Jerry Hull <Jerry Hull> wrote:
>There is a horrendous problem with the customary picture of the mental
>vs. the physical, that almost everyone ignores or shrugs away. Viz.,
>there is no place for the mental in the physical world: it does not
>fit in anywhere!

There cannot really be any such problem, or else it would have to arise
and make difficulties for the ordinary use of psychological terms,
something that occurs millions of times every day all over the world.
Since the folk do not in fact run up against any horrendous problem
"locating the mental in the physical world", the problem must be merely
apparent, an artifact of one way of framing the issue.

Let me just give a simple example of what I mean. Psychologists have
taken to studying the development of psychological concepts in children
under the heading "the child's theory of mind". One way they do this is
called the "false belief task". The child is shown a container like a
candy box, understood normally to contain candy, then shown that it
contains pencils instead. The child is asked something like "what will
Mary [another child] think is in the box?". At age three they often say
"pencils"; by age five, they can appreciate that there may be a discrepancy
in others' cognition between appearance and reality, and say "candy".

Now the psychologists in question have various theories about what
accounts for this development. But my point is that this young child
has thereby evinced a basic competence with a psychological concept,
with the concept of other minds. The child might go on to express the
expectation that Mary will be surprised on opening the container, that
Mary might reach for the container when asked for candy, etc. This is
how we operate with these concepts.

Now where is this problem of locating the mental in the physical world?
No such problem has arisen. We only have a pseudo-question like "where
is Mary's belief?", one which may simply have no answer, since the
notion of location in space does not have a ready use for beliefs. (We
can ask where *Mary* is, which way she is looking, etc and relate these
to what she will believe and do.)

>fit in anywhere! Many folks conveniently assume that the mental is
>somehow "in the head", but if you look inside the head it's not there.

I don't think we actually do believe the mental is in the head.
In any case I agree with you that it is not in the head.
Rather, the question "where is it" does not have much point.

>All you can find are brains and other physical stuff. So the only
>apparent alternatives are to (1) try to shoehorn it somewhere else in
>the physical world, e.g. in overt behavior, in a manner that is
>ultimately uninteresting or irrelevant to the traditional claims of
>mentality; or (2) simply declare that it does not exist, an
>unfortunate fiction of pre-scientific philosophical witch-doctoring

I take it these alternatives are not exhaustive. In particular, the concept
of "behavior" being relied on in (1) seems hopelessly crude -- that is
what makes it seem uninteresting.

It seems clear that the use of psychological concepts by our child
involves relations to observable behavior. But I don't think you can
say this is "uninteresting": it puts a quite distinctive
conceptual construction on this behavior, so as to see it *as*
expressive of a subjective cognitive perspective on the world, one in
which representation may differ from reality.

So it may be that the psychological or mind-laden characterization is
irreducible to any other description of behavior, in particular that
psychological terms do not reduce to behavioral ones. Still they
may supervene on overt behavior, so that in employing these concepts
we are seeing the meaning *in* the behavior, somewhat as one can
read emotion in a face or see a figure in a pointillist painting without
attending to the individual dots.

So I am happy to accept a *kind* of dualism all right. But it's just a
perfectly innoccuous *conceptual* dualism between a high-level,
mind-laden description vs. a low-level, mechanistic description of
human doings. The high-level description may be irreducible, but it is
still a description that does not float free and independent of the
movements of the body.

Compare: an aesthetic description of a painting may use an irreducible
higher-level conceptual scheme, but does not float free and independent
of where colored pigment is arrayed on the canvas. I recommend always
thinking of discerning the mentality in human behavior as akin to
discerning a face in a picture.

>Despite all this, mental stuff seems hard to exorcise, like the
>headache that persistently stares out of our eyes when we awake after
>an evening of overindulgence, reminiscent of an old bit of doggerel:

I am certainly not trying to "get rid of" what you call mental "stuff".
For example, I am not trying to get rid of the idea that people have
beliefs about the world around them that can differ from the reality.
I am frankly not trying to get rid of anything, just trying to understand
how the *actual* concepts we have function.

>But we can learn something from an intriguingly analogous problem in a
>very different area of philosophy: ethics. There the difficulty is
>how to locate values in a world of facts. Facts consist of what "is"
>the case. whilst values consist of what "ought to be the case". Now
>we know where to find facts: they are the concern of science. We

But it seems there are many more facts than just the scientific facts.
For example, there are social facts, to say nothing of the facts of
common sense. Ultimately there may be no viable notion of "fact"
beyond: a topic whereby human judgement meets constraint, i.e. on which
we are not rationally free to judge what we will. And that might make
room for the idea of value facts as well.

Certainly our ordinary perception of human behavior and the world is
as permeated with value as it is with other sorts of meaning -- morally
repugnant actions provoke anyone with a suitably cultivated sensibility
to react to them immediately *as* offensive, for example, and it may
be impossible to extricate the valuational from the affective components
of the experience.

Again, I think it helps to focus on things like "seeing-as" and
remember that there is in cognitve life no seeing that is not some kind
of seeing-as. Seeing-as physical is one kind, seeing-as mental
another, and perhaps seeing-as valuable (repugnant, evil, admirable)
yet another. Since there is no concept-free Humean epistemic basis
apart from what can be the content of some such seeing-as, it would
seem that there may be no basis for drawing invidious distinctions in
point of "objectivity" among different putative contents of
experience.

>The conception of the physical world is achieved by excluding

>everything that is person-variant. ...


>But because the physical world, and the honor of "objectivity" that we
>confer upon it, is useful for all hardly entails that what is not
>useful for all -- the person-variant, the "subjective" -- does not
>exist.

As a pluralist and a phenomenologist who certainly believes in
subjectivity, I believe I can agree with some of this. However, I don't
see how it solves the apparent problem *you* raised about finding a
place for the mental. Do you want to use it to defend a form of
idealism about the physical (which it does not seem to entail)? For
remember that the *conceptual* priority of the mental over the physical
that you suggest ("our concept of the physical is that of the person
invariant") does not entail any *ontological* priority of the mental.
If there was no room for the mental in the natural world before we take this
suggestion, there is still no room afterwards, unless you think that
you have shown it to be constructed as a kind of subset of a mental ontology.

I would also want to rely on a concept of "objectivity" according to
which facts about someone's subjective state are "objective" facts
albeit facts that concern a subjective topic. The objective is whatever
we can have constrained discourse on in our common language, and
that includes mental states of persons.

jddescr...@my-deja.com

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
In article <7q1gad$c5q$1...@usenet01.srv.cis.pitt.edu>,

--------------------------see original---------------------------------

Excellent points in your post. It sounds like the ideas I've been
trying to express where, like computers in general, the basics are very
simple and can be combined into extraordinarily complex compounds but
it is all clearly understandable and describeable and estimateable. Is
there any "school" of ai thinking that shares your broad and clear
perspective on these questions,particularly about objectivity and
subjectivity? Thanks for the help. JD

------------------------------------------------------------------------


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

Soenke N. Greimann

unread,
Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
Jerry Hull wrote:
>
> On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 17:52:01 +0200, "Soenke N. Greimann"
> <grei...@uni-trier.de> wrote:
>
> >Jerry Hull wrote:
> >>
> >> On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 01:26:10 +0200, Andomar <not...@like.the.sun>
> >> wrote:
>
> >> >Interestingly, when neural activity stops, the
> >> >person-variant reality ceases to exist. But the
> >> >physical reality is still there. Therefore,
> >> >mental reality must be a subset of physical
> >> >reality.
> >>
> >> This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
> >> causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
> >> and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
> >> entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
> >> the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
> >> (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
> >> "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
> >> claim I was trying to make.
>
> >The fact that A causes B is most definitely present in the physical world,
> >else we would not be able to perceive it. As for the term "causality" and
> >all the baggage we attribute to it, they are most definitely mental, but
> >the root of things lies in the physical world.
> >Causality is not a constraint we impose on the physical. It is an observed
> >fact that is present in the physical and which we then incorporate into
> >the mental. In that sense, your whole paragraph is sort of contradictory.
>
> Causality is NOT something we "perceive", except insofar as we PRESUME
> it underlies the phenomena of perception. As Hume made abundantly
> clear, all we "perceive" is constant conjuction, which in some
> circumstances we believe provides warrant for the assumption of a
> law-like regularity. That every event has a cause is NOT something we
> learn from experience -- it is something we impose upon experience.
> And indeed we are justified in doing so, insofar as it tends to work
> out in practice (although QM imposes certain qualifications).
>
> My point is that the very NOTION of the "physical world" represents a
> form of mental modeling which, albeit useful, is both logically prior
> to the physical world and not itself as such part of it. Where's the
> contradiction?

The contradiction lies in your accepting physical causes at first and then
going on claiming that causality is "imposed" by us onto physical reality.
And that is contradictory in my book.

There most certainly is something like the real world, it is merely that
none of us can provide an accurate description of what it "really" looks
like. We can find common ground, in fact quite much of it, and call that
"objectivity" FWIW.

But for you to say that we impose causality upon reality is - quite
frankly - wrong. We perceive causality within reality, yes. But if
you say that we impose it upon it that would mean that we ourselves
create it. And that would amount to consciously willing everything
to happen. Do you do that? If you twitch and throw your glass of milk
all over your cookies, did you _will_ that to happen??? Rather it has
different causes, which we are able to perceive, given enough
opportunity. We do not impose it upon reality. Sorry, but even if
Hume says it, it is not any more true for it. First come the
experiences, then come the law-like regularities. But if they weren't
real to start with, they'd not be apparent to us. Elementary.



> --
> Jer
> "When you are at sea, keep clear of the land",
> Publilius Syrus

Sönke N. Greimann

Soenke N. Greimann

unread,
Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
Seth Russell wrote:
>
> "Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:
>
> > Jerry Hull wrote:
> > >
> > > This only shows that what is called "mental" can be ascribed physical
> > > causes. I certainly don't want to deny this. However, "caused by"
> > > and "a subset of" are two very different notions, & the first hardly
> > > entails the second. Note that "causality" is a constraint we place on
> > > the physical world, but it is not, as such, part of the physical world
> > > (as Hume can be interpreted as pointing out). This makes causality
> > > "mental" in my large ("superset") sense of the term, reinforcing the
> > > claim I was trying to make.
> >
> > Reinforcing exactly nothing, sorry. :-/
> > The fact that A causes B is most definitely present in the physical world,
> > else we would not be able to perceive it. As for the term "causality" and
> > all the baggage we attribute to it, they are most definitely mental, but
> > the root of things lies in the physical world.
> > Causality is not a constraint we impose on the physical. It is an observed
> > fact that is present in the physical and which we then incorporate into
> > the mental. In that sense, your whole paragraph is sort of contradictory.
>
> I think you completely missed Hull's valid point that the relationship
> "caused-by" is quite distinct from the relationship "a subset of". And in
> passing I note that the pattern of cause and effect can be observed
> supervening on facts of the natural world as well as facts of the mental
> world. For the former consider the pattern [when I release my grip on this
> ball, it will fall to the ground]; and for the latter consider the pattern
> [the change in the value of my stock has made me very happy]. Please note
> that both of those patterns of cause and effect can be publicly verified.

Granted. Might be that I missed an aspect here. But both of your examples
are very much part of the real world. You are not abstractly happy, or are
you? There are several physical and very real causes which result in your
"feeling happy". That kind of de-mystifies it, I know, but it is all real.
Nothing ethereal or mystical here, IMHO.

As for the relationship "caused by" and "subset of", please clarify. Or
Jerry might. The way he put it, I objected to what he said. If he said
something else, all right, let him clarify it...

> Seth Russell

Seth Russell

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
"Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:

I find your term "real world" too ambiguous to use at this level of precision. I
prefer the term "verifiable", so that your "real world" could be modeled as a
collection of facts and relationships between that collection such that they can
be verified. With those terms we can start to classify (partition) worlds as
composed of different kinds of facts and their relationships: natural world
(physical world if you prefer), private personal worlds, social worlds, biological
worlds e.t.c. That I am happy, is not something that *you* can in any way
verify. In my way of thinking that qualia is an element of my personal mental
world along with those other experiences and innate abilities that compose what I
am. That world is very real to me and I can verify it, but you will not be able
to find its objects (facts and relationships) in your real world unless I choose
(or am compelled) to place them there by my behavior. That is simply the human
predicament.

There is nothing mysterious about that description. If you want to only describe
things in terms of the natural world (which you cannot even directly experience),
and if (like many others) you want to deny the very existence of these other
verifiable worlds, then your science will be deficient and inefficient in
predicting the future. Lots of luck in the pursuit of your physical biases.

Seth Russell
Thinking about how AI could work?
see http://www.clickshop.com/ai/conjecture.htm

Seth Russell

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
Jim Balter wrote:

> For clarity on this subject, I suggest the "What is my theory?"
> section of Daniel Dennett's introduction to his _Brainstorms_.

Grumble, homework again tonight.

Seth Russell
Business Development
Http://Www.ClickShop.Com
Renton, Washington, USA
ICQ 251252

Neil W Rickert

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:

>There is a horrendous problem with the customary picture of the mental
>vs. the physical, that almost everyone ignores or shrugs away. Viz.,
>there is no place for the mental in the physical world: it does not
>fit in anywhere! Many folks conveniently assume that the mental is
>somehow "in the head", but if you look inside the head it's not there.
>All you can find are brains and other physical stuff.

Isn't that like saying that if you look around in the environment,
all you can find are physical stuff, including electromagnetic
waves. But television soap operas are nowhere to be found.

In other words, what you find when you look (inside the head or
elsewhere), depends a great deal on how you do the looking.

>But we can learn something from an intriguingly analogous problem in a
>very different area of philosophy: ethics. There the difficulty is
>how to locate values in a world of facts. Facts consist of what "is"
>the case. whilst values consist of what "ought to be the case". Now
>we know where to find facts: they are the concern of science.

I couldn't disagree more. Philosophers may have deluded themselves
into believing that "we know where to find facts." However they give
no better accounting of facts than of values. The best they seem
able to do is to present worthless tautologies such as "facts consist

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
ande...@pitt.edu (Anders N Weinstein) writes:
>Jerry Hull <Jerry Hull> wrote:

>>There is a horrendous problem with the customary picture of the mental
>>vs. the physical, that almost everyone ignores or shrugs away. Viz.,
>>there is no place for the mental in the physical world: it does not
>>fit in anywhere!

>There cannot really be any such problem, or else it would have to arise
>and make difficulties for the ordinary use of psychological terms,
>something that occurs millions of times every day all over the world.

Presumably, by "the physical world", Hull intended the world that is
describable by physics. That world does not contain ordinary
psychological terms either. At best the argument you gave seems to
make the point that folk psychology derives from the mental world,
rather than from the physical world.

The real problem is the failure of philosophy to be more than a
program of indoctrination into a system of "Just So" stories.


Neil W Rickert

unread,
Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
ande...@pitt.edu (Anders N Weinstein) writes:

>I say rather (with Sellars and Strawson and numerous others) that the
>concept of persons as subjects of both psychological and material
>object predicates has a prominent place in "the common sense world",
>the world as it presents itself to us. I agree that is not the world as
>it is represented in physical theory.

That is a reasonable enough way of putting it.

>I also say that the world as represented in physical theory is not
>the whole of reality, but only a subset of it.

I am inclined to disagree with that. I would prefer to say that the
world of physical theory is a model of the world, rather than a
subset. It does not model everything (presumably this is the point
you were making). But what it does model it also idealizes, and this
is why I do not accept that it is a subset.

>>The real problem is the failure of philosophy to be more than a
>>program of indoctrination into a system of "Just So" stories.

>Hmm. What real problem?

The failure to account for human cognition.

>I would say the real problem is confusing the world of physics with the
>sum total of all that is real. That is why the alleged mind-body
>problem did not appear before Descartes' -- it had to await the rise of
>the the modern mathematical conceptualization of nature.

I would prefer to say that it is due to a failure to recognize that
the world of physics is not reality itself, but is an idealized model
of reality. And physic works so well because it is an idealization.
That is roughly the point being made by Nancy Cartwright in "How the
laws of physics lie."


Neil W Rickert

unread,
Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to
ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:
>On 25 Aug 1999 18:25:04 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
>wrote:

>Irreducibly mental stuff cannot be found anywhere in the physical
>world.

If there is no such thing, then it is not surprising if it cannot
be found.

> Or, to put it another way, irreducibly 1st person stuff (and I
>here intend 'stuff' as a neutral category) cannot be found in the 3rd
>person world. So you have the choice of either declaring that mental
>stuff does not exist (nihilism), identifying it with something in the
>physical world (reductionism), or expanding what exists beyond the
>confines of the physical world (call it what you willism). I take
>these to be mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive alternatives.

There is another alternative. We can try to reduce the 3rd person
world to the 1st person world.

>>I couldn't disagree more. Philosophers may have deluded themselves
>>into believing that "we know where to find facts." However they give
>>no better accounting of facts than of values. The best they seem
>>able to do is to present worthless tautologies such as "facts consist
>>of what 'is' the case."

>Facts are what true statements are about. Trivial? Perhaps.
>Tautological? No.

Of course it is tautological. And a pretty trivial tautology
at that.

> It makes the question of whether something is a
>fact decidable.

Nonsense. What makes it decidable, is that there are humans making
the decisions. But this is just an example of where something
presumed to be 3rd person (facts) reduces to the first person.

> We have very sophisticated consensual procedures for
>adjudicating claims about what is or is not true = what is or is not
>the case:

Sure. But these procedures do not derive from your tautological
definition. Rather, they arise out of personal judgements (the 1st
person again).

>We definitely do NOT have equivalent consensual procedures for
>resolving disputes over values.

Disputes over values can usually be presented in such a way that they
become disputes over facts.


Anders N Weinstein

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
In article <7q1uqo$4...@ux.cs.niu.edu>,

Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote:
>ande...@pitt.edu (Anders N Weinstein) writes:
>>Jerry Hull <Jerry Hull> wrote:
>
>>>There is a horrendous problem with the customary picture of the mental
>>>vs. the physical, that almost everyone ignores or shrugs away. Viz.,
>>>there is no place for the mental in the physical world: it does not
>>>fit in anywhere!
>
>>There cannot really be any such problem, or else it would have to arise
>>and make difficulties for the ordinary use of psychological terms,
>>something that occurs millions of times every day all over the world.
>
>Presumably, by "the physical world", Hull intended the world that is
>describable by physics. That world does not contain ordinary
>psychological terms either. At best the argument you gave seems to
>make the point that folk psychology derives from the mental world,
>rather than from the physical world.

I don't remember using any thing that looks like a concept of "the
mental world".

I say rather (with Sellars and Strawson and numerous others) that the
concept of persons as subjects of both psychological and material
object predicates has a prominent place in "the common sense world",
the world as it presents itself to us. I agree that is not the world as
it is represented in physical theory.

I also say that the world as represented in physical theory is not


the whole of reality, but only a subset of it.

I don't want to make too much of the idea of different "worlds".
I think we can intelligibly say that my paying my rent occurs
as an event in the "world" of economics, not the world of physics.
Still to do so I have to move the pen over the check and lay down
ink that adheres to the surface or whatever. So it seems the
event has "a foot in both worlds", it does not take place in some
separated immaterial realm.

>The real problem is the failure of philosophy to be more than a
>program of indoctrination into a system of "Just So" stories.

Hmm. What real problem?

I would say the real problem is confusing the world of physics with the

Jerry Hull

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 14:46:38 -0300, "Sergio Navega" <sna...@ibm.net>
wrote:

>Jerry Hull wrote in message <37c428a...@news-server.stny.rr.com>...

>>Causality is NOT something we "perceive", except insofar as we PRESUME


>>it underlies the phenomena of perception. As Hume made abundantly
>>clear, all we "perceive" is constant conjuction, which in some
>>circumstances we believe provides warrant for the assumption of a
>>law-like regularity. That every event has a cause is NOT something we
>>learn from experience -- it is something we impose upon experience.
>>And indeed we are justified in doing so, insofar as it tends to work
>>out in practice (although QM imposes certain qualifications).
>

>This is beautiful, Jerry. But I'm not sure I agree.
>If our ideas of causality doesn't come from experience, where
>did they come from? Why we impose this upon experience and
>not the opposite?

No doubt there is a genetic basis for the inclination to regard things
causally, just as there is for the inclination to view them
mathematically and logically. In all of these cases, it is clear why
there would be an evolutionary advantage to such modes of thinking.

>When we see causality as emerging from our experiences, I guess
>we can justify better its origins: it is the world "driving us" to
>conclude that. But assuming different origins for our notions of
>causality (or our need to have it) with things other than
>experience leaves an open hole: where it comes from?

Regardless of where it comes from, it is useful and successful. It
doesn't matter if the inspiration for a scientific hypothesis can be
traced to a bit of undigested beef (like the ghost of Marley). What
counts is how well it works.

Jerry Hull

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On 25 Aug 1999 18:25:04 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
wrote:

>ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:
>
>>There is a horrendous problem with the customary picture of the mental
>>vs. the physical, that almost everyone ignores or shrugs away. Viz.,
>>there is no place for the mental in the physical world: it does not
>>fit in anywhere! Many folks conveniently assume that the mental is
>>somehow "in the head", but if you look inside the head it's not there.
>>All you can find are brains and other physical stuff.
>

>Isn't that like saying that if you look around in the environment,
>all you can find are physical stuff, including electromagnetic
>waves. But television soap operas are nowhere to be found.

Television soap operas are usually found on television in the
afternoon (tho some have aired at night).

>In other words, what you find when you look (inside the head or
>elsewhere), depends a great deal on how you do the looking.

Irreducibly mental stuff cannot be found anywhere in the physical
world. Or, to put it another way, irreducibly 1st person stuff (and I


here intend 'stuff' as a neutral category) cannot be found in the 3rd
person world. So you have the choice of either declaring that mental
stuff does not exist (nihilism), identifying it with something in the
physical world (reductionism), or expanding what exists beyond the
confines of the physical world (call it what you willism). I take
these to be mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive alternatives.

>>But we can learn something from an intriguingly analogous problem in a


>>very different area of philosophy: ethics. There the difficulty is
>>how to locate values in a world of facts. Facts consist of what "is"
>>the case. whilst values consist of what "ought to be the case". Now
>>we know where to find facts: they are the concern of science.
>

>I couldn't disagree more. Philosophers may have deluded themselves
>into believing that "we know where to find facts." However they give
>no better accounting of facts than of values. The best they seem

>able to do is to present worthless tautologies such as "facts consist


>of what 'is' the case."

Facts are what true statements are about. Trivial? Perhaps.
Tautological? No. It makes the question of whether something is a
fact decidable. We have very sophisticated consensual procedures for
adjudicating claims about what is or is not true = what is or is not
the case: scientific experiments, pure & applied logic & math, &c.


We definitely do NOT have equivalent consensual procedures for
resolving disputes over values.

--

Jerry Hull

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On 25 Aug 1999 23:07:42 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
wrote:

>ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:
>>On 25 Aug 1999 18:25:04 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
>>wrote:
>

>>Irreducibly mental stuff cannot be found anywhere in the physical
>>world.
>

>If there is no such thing, then it is not surprising if it cannot
>be found.

And if there is such a thing, then it poses a problem.

>> Or, to put it another way, irreducibly 1st person stuff (and I
>>here intend 'stuff' as a neutral category) cannot be found in the 3rd
>>person world. So you have the choice of either declaring that mental
>>stuff does not exist (nihilism), identifying it with something in the
>>physical world (reductionism), or expanding what exists beyond the
>>confines of the physical world (call it what you willism). I take
>>these to be mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive alternatives.
>

>There is another alternative. We can try to reduce the 3rd person
>world to the 1st person world.

That's one way of putting what I have suggested. You did read it?

>>>I couldn't disagree more. Philosophers may have deluded themselves
>>>into believing that "we know where to find facts." However they give
>>>no better accounting of facts than of values. The best they seem
>>>able to do is to present worthless tautologies such as "facts consist
>>>of what 'is' the case."
>
>>Facts are what true statements are about. Trivial? Perhaps.
>>Tautological? No.
>

>Of course it is tautological. And a pretty trivial tautology
>at that.

It's a DEFINITION, Neil, what do you expect?

>> It makes the question of whether something is a
>>fact decidable.
>

>Nonsense. What makes it decidable, is that there are humans making
>the decisions. But this is just an example of where something
>presumed to be 3rd person (facts) reduces to the first person.

Gee, do they make decisions just any old way, or is there some
procedure or rule involved? One would expect a person with a
mathematical background to appreciate the notion of decidability
beyond the connotation that a decision was involved.

>> We have very sophisticated consensual procedures for
>>adjudicating claims about what is or is not true = what is or is not
>>the case:
>

>Sure. But these procedures do not derive from your tautological
>definition. Rather, they arise out of personal judgements (the 1st
>person again).

False opposition. The one hardly rules out the other. Indeed, you
are agreeing with my thesis, but are just so damn disagreeable that
you attack everything I say. Good old Neil.

>>We definitely do NOT have equivalent consensual procedures for
>>resolving disputes over values.
>

>Disputes over values can usually be presented in such a way that they
>become disputes over facts.

We know how to resolve the dispute over which of us is taller. But we
don't know how to resolve the dispute over whether abortion (or
premarital sex, or the death penalty, &c.) is right or wrong.
Indisputably, there are factual matters involved in such disputes.
But at bottom they continue to be unresolved because of valuative
disputes.

Which is all beside the point. You concede that there is a difference
between between factual and valuative disagreements, even tho you are
mistakenly optimistic about the ability to reduce the latter to the
former.

Jerry Hull

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 22:50:24 +0200, "Soenke N. Greimann"
<grei...@uni-trier.de> wrote:

>Jerry Hull wrote:

>> Causality is NOT something we "perceive", except insofar as we PRESUME
>> it underlies the phenomena of perception. As Hume made abundantly
>> clear, all we "perceive" is constant conjuction, which in some
>> circumstances we believe provides warrant for the assumption of a
>> law-like regularity. That every event has a cause is NOT something we
>> learn from experience -- it is something we impose upon experience.
>> And indeed we are justified in doing so, insofar as it tends to work
>> out in practice (although QM imposes certain qualifications).
>>

>> My point is that the very NOTION of the "physical world" represents a
>> form of mental modeling which, albeit useful, is both logically prior
>> to the physical world and not itself as such part of it. Where's the
>> contradiction?
>
>The contradiction lies in your accepting physical causes at first and then
>going on claiming that causality is "imposed" by us onto physical reality.
>And that is contradictory in my book.

Then something is wrong with your book. Nothing prevents us from
accepting as real the things we impose on the world. Nor have I
denied that the world is such as to facilitate that imposition.

>There most certainly is something like the real world, it is merely that
>none of us can provide an accurate description of what it "really" looks
>like. We can find common ground, in fact quite much of it, and call that
>"objectivity" FWIW.

Of course there is the real world. And we can describe what it
"really" looks like. That's why we call it some things "real" and
others "imaginary". But I refuse to be drawn again into a pointless
discussion of your self-confuting brand of epistemic skepticism.

>But for you to say that we impose causality upon reality is - quite
>frankly - wrong. We perceive causality within reality, yes. But if
>you say that we impose it upon it that would mean that we ourselves
>create it.

Go back and read what I have said. I claim that we are often
justified in supposing the existence of nomological relationships
amongst things. The imposition of causality NEED NOT BE spurious or
arbitrary. The point is that the process of determining such
relationships involves MENTAL activities which are PRESUPPOSED BY the
notion of the physical world, but which ARE NOT THEMSELVES PART OF IT.
Hence, the physical world does not exhaust reality.

Soenke N. Greimann

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
Jerry Hull wrote:
>
> On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 22:50:24 +0200, "Soenke N. Greimann"
> <grei...@uni-trier.de> wrote:
>
> >Jerry Hull wrote:
>
> >> Causality is NOT something we "perceive", except insofar as we PRESUME
> >> it underlies the phenomena of perception. As Hume made abundantly
> >> clear, all we "perceive" is constant conjuction, which in some
> >> circumstances we believe provides warrant for the assumption of a
> >> law-like regularity. That every event has a cause is NOT something we
> >> learn from experience -- it is something we impose upon experience.
> >> And indeed we are justified in doing so, insofar as it tends to work
> >> out in practice (although QM imposes certain qualifications).
> >>
> >> My point is that the very NOTION of the "physical world" represents a
> >> form of mental modeling which, albeit useful, is both logically prior
> >> to the physical world and not itself as such part of it. Where's the
> >> contradiction?
> >
> >The contradiction lies in your accepting physical causes at first and then
> >going on claiming that causality is "imposed" by us onto physical reality.
> >And that is contradictory in my book.
>
> Then something is wrong with your book. Nothing prevents us from
> accepting as real the things we impose on the world. Nor have I
> denied that the world is such as to facilitate that imposition.

You seemed to say that A is present in B. Then you went and said we only
put A into B by using our minds, as it wasn't there before.
I say A is (and always was) present in B. We experienced A in B and
developed a model (involving the use of "A" and "B" to describe A in B.

Or are you talking about the "concept" of causality, which has been
created?



> >There most certainly is something like the real world, it is merely that
> >none of us can provide an accurate description of what it "really" looks
> >like. We can find common ground, in fact quite much of it, and call that
> >"objectivity" FWIW.
>
> Of course there is the real world. And we can describe what it
> "really" looks like. That's why we call it some things "real" and
> others "imaginary". But I refuse to be drawn again into a pointless
> discussion of your self-confuting brand of epistemic skepticism.

Go ahead. Bury your "imaginary" head in the "imaginary" sand then.
As if I care...



> >But for you to say that we impose causality upon reality is - quite
> >frankly - wrong. We perceive causality within reality, yes. But if
> >you say that we impose it upon it that would mean that we ourselves
> >create it.
>
> Go back and read what I have said. I claim that we are often
> justified in supposing the existence of nomological relationships
> amongst things. The imposition of causality NEED NOT BE spurious or
> arbitrary. The point is that the process of determining such
> relationships involves MENTAL activities which are PRESUPPOSED BY the
> notion of the physical world, but which ARE NOT THEMSELVES PART OF IT.
> Hence, the physical world does not exhaust reality.

Your mental activities are not part of the physical world? Now that _is_
an interesting statement. Care to prove it???
If I induce brain death in you, your mind will most definitely cease to
exist. No matter what you may happen to believe about any afterlife you
_will_ be dead. No extraphysical mental activity left.

What we suppose about the world is based on our perception of this world
and nothing else. Perhaps little men talk to you from the mental world,
they haven't really called me on the meta-phone yet to tell me of this
mental universe of yours.

Any mental processes about events and their relationship can be traced
back to the perception (however indirect) of such events and are very
much part of my everyday physical existence. For you to say that they
are not themselves part of the physical world invokes a division between
mental and physical that is arbitrary at best. The physical world does
not cease to exist inside of my skull, it is merely the abstract nature
of my perception of thought processes within my brain that creates the
illusion that my mind is something else than physical processes inside
my brain.

Cheerio



> --
> Jer
> "When you are at sea, keep clear of the land",
> Publilius Syrus

Sönke N. Greimann

Sergio Navega

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
Jerry Hull wrote in message <37c4b17...@news-server.stny.rr.com>...

>On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 14:46:38 -0300, "Sergio Navega" <sna...@ibm.net>
>wrote:
>
>>Jerry Hull wrote in message <37c428a...@news-server.stny.rr.com>...
>
>>>Causality is NOT something we "perceive", except insofar as we PRESUME
>>>it underlies the phenomena of perception. As Hume made abundantly
>>>clear, all we "perceive" is constant conjuction, which in some
>>>circumstances we believe provides warrant for the assumption of a
>>>law-like regularity. That every event has a cause is NOT something we
>>>learn from experience -- it is something we impose upon experience.
>>>And indeed we are justified in doing so, insofar as it tends to work
>>>out in practice (although QM imposes certain qualifications).
>>
>>This is beautiful, Jerry. But I'm not sure I agree.
>>If our ideas of causality doesn't come from experience, where
>>did they come from? Why we impose this upon experience and
>>not the opposite?
>
>No doubt there is a genetic basis for the inclination to regard things
>causally, just as there is for the inclination to view them
>mathematically and logically. In all of these cases, it is clear why
>there would be an evolutionary advantage to such modes of thinking.
>


I agree that we're built to notice simple causal associations, at
least in the very low level, close to sensory inputs. Obviously
this emerged because of evolutionary constraints. But this
is very far from the level of causality that we're talking here.
In my vision, there's no doubt that this "high level" causal
models that we (almost automatically) build is almost all
dependent on our world experiences. It is something that is
*perceived*, something that some do better than others.

Take any child, 4 to 5 years old, and ask her what is the cause
of the wind. Piaget did that and was amazed by the reports he
listened. Child say that trees wave their leaves and this
provokes the wind. They also say that waves on the beach
"carry" the air when they're rolling and this also provokes
wind. Causality is something that we build progressively,
based on our visions of the world.

>>When we see causality as emerging from our experiences, I guess
>>we can justify better its origins: it is the world "driving us" to
>>conclude that. But assuming different origins for our notions of
>>causality (or our need to have it) with things other than
>>experience leaves an open hole: where it comes from?
>
>Regardless of where it comes from, it is useful and successful. It
>doesn't matter if the inspiration for a scientific hypothesis can be
>traced to a bit of undigested beef (like the ghost of Marley). What
>counts is how well it works.
>

But it does matter where it comes from!
The undigested beef may be a good way to be satisfied with the
origins of hypotheses, maybe enough to sweep all this question
below the rug. This is the typical way philosophers treat these
things.

However, I argue that this is among the greatest problems that
AI has to solve (it may be difficult to make a robot to have
undigested beefs). Until we find ways to understand where this
thing comes from, I doubt that we'll succeed in making intelligent
machines. Which leaves me with a strong impression that AI will
not be solved by philosophers ;-)

Regards,
Sergio Navega.


Soenke N. Greimann

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
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Seth Russell wrote:
>
> "Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:
>
> > Seth Russell wrote:
> > >
> > > I think you completely missed Hull's valid point that the relationship
> > > "caused-by" is quite distinct from the relationship "a subset of". And in
> > > passing I note that the pattern of cause and effect can be observed
> > > supervening on facts of the natural world as well as facts of the mental
> > > world. For the former consider the pattern [when I release my grip on this
> > > ball, it will fall to the ground]; and for the latter consider the pattern
> > > [the change in the value of my stock has made me very happy]. Please note
> > > that both of those patterns of cause and effect can be publicly verified.
> >
> > Granted. Might be that I missed an aspect here. But both of your examples
> > are very much part of the real world. You are not abstractly happy, or are
> > you? There are several physical and very real causes which result in your
> > "feeling happy". That kind of de-mystifies it, I know, but it is all real.
> > Nothing ethereal or mystical here, IMHO.
>
> I find your term "real world" too ambiguous to use at this level of precision. I
> prefer the term "verifiable", so that your "real world" could be modeled as a
> collection of facts and relationships between that collection such that they can
> be verified. With those terms we can start to classify (partition) worlds as
> composed of different kinds of facts and their relationships: natural world
> (physical world if you prefer), private personal worlds, social worlds, biological
> worlds e.t.c. That I am happy, is not something that *you* can in any way
> verify. In my way of thinking that qualia is an element of my personal mental

Sure I can verify it. I can hook you up to an EEG and measure the amount of
hormones in your bloodstream. I can draw up a more or less accurate diagram
of what is happening inside your body (and brain) and say. "Seth is happy."
Given the right equipment and measuring techniques it's not at all a problem.

Any distinction between "worlds" is arbitrary at best (even though we do
tend to categorize - it is how we work, after all...) and IMHO the only
productive way of distinguishing worlds is to have the real world on one
side and the countless perceptions of this world by intelligent individuals
on the other. Anything else I find a little confusing and obfuscatory.

> world along with those other experiences and innate abilities that compose what I
> am. That world is very real to me and I can verify it, but you will not be able
> to find its objects (facts and relationships) in your real world unless I choose
> (or am compelled) to place them there by my behavior. That is simply the human
> predicament.

Are you referring to dreams and fantasies??? I think that within little
more than a couple of century, the workings of the brain will be dismantled
and analyzed to the point where thoughts can be isolated and deciphered by
the correct measuring equipment. Today, I can't really verify that in your
mind you are riding a Jet Ski at Laguna Beach, but I can probably pick up
the thoughts on an EEG, even if I can't exactly pick out which one of the
little scribbles refers to Jet Ski riding at Laguna Beach - if any - after
all you might have been lying :-)

> There is nothing mysterious about that description. If you want to only describe
> things in terms of the natural world (which you cannot even directly experience),
> and if (like many others) you want to deny the very existence of these other
> verifiable worlds, then your science will be deficient and inefficient in
> predicting the future. Lots of luck in the pursuit of your physical biases.

Why is it a bias. I accept the presence of your mysterious world. I merely
point out to you that it is in no way mysterious and in no way different
from the physical world, but a part of it. You insist on creating some sort
of metaphysical paradise where there is none.

This is kind of reminiscent of attributing thunder to giants throwing
boulders on the far side of the mountain. You have no proof for the
assumption that your thoughts and the world you create are _not_ a part
of the physical world. If you have, I would care to see it...



> Seth Russell
> Thinking about how AI could work?
> see http://www.clickshop.com/ai/conjecture.htm

Sönke N. Greimann

Andomar

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
> This is kind of reminiscent of attributing thunder to giants throwing
> boulders on the far side of the mountain. You have no proof for the
> assumption that your thoughts and the world you create are _not_ a part
> of the physical world. If you have, I would care to see it...
>
He presented the assumption; isn't it your job to prove him wrong?
So far, your own conjectures haven't been proved either. What
kind of proof did you have in mind anyway. The only area
in which proofs hold is mathmatics; not comp.ai.philosophy :)

Soenke N. Greimann

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to

Did you read my post? I did present ways of finding things out about him
that could be used to tell how he feels, given enough sophistication.
The technology is there, it only needs to be advanced some more.

Besides, there isn't really a way to prove negatives, is there? If I
claim that there is an invisible, intangible dragon inside my garage (and
no, you can't smell him either) how are you going to prove me wrong???

Claiming some sort of mental wonderland is like claiming that there is
a dragon inside a garage. I have suggested things that are indicators
that the emotions and fantasies are very much part of the physical. The
ball is back over the net, no?

I can agree that there might be some confusion with regard to a specific
thought's aspect. (ie. on the one hand the physical manifestation and on
the other hand the meaning it has to the entity in question) However,
any meaning I or anyone else attribute to any given thought is embodied
by another thought in itself, no? So any "concept" or "model" we create
is real with respect to its existence as a thought-pattern inside the
brain.

Seth Russell

unread,
Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
"Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:

> > I find your term "real world" too ambiguous to use at this level of precision. I
> > prefer the term "verifiable", so that your "real world" could be modeled as a
> > collection of facts and relationships between that collection such that they can
> > be verified. With those terms we can start to classify (partition) worlds as
> > composed of different kinds of facts and their relationships: natural world
> > (physical world if you prefer), private personal worlds, social worlds, biological
> > worlds e.t.c. That I am happy, is not something that *you* can in any way
> > verify. In my way of thinking that qualia is an element of my personal mental
>
> Sure I can verify it. I can hook you up to an EEG and measure the amount of
> hormones in your bloodstream. I can draw up a more or less accurate diagram
> of what is happening inside your body (and brain) and say. "Seth is happy."
> Given the right equipment and measuring techniques it's not at all a problem.

Yep, and I would even go so far as to assert that some day a bio physicist will be able
to say with certainty that when a particular pattern is recorded on his instruments,
that a designated person is sensing blue. The point is that no matter how precisely he
measures that pattern, it will never never look blue. Incidentally this is not just my
half baked idea - I got it first from Chalmers and it has been acknowledged by many who
study the philosophy of mind. Now I suspect that some day we will have a consensus of
theoretical physicist looking very similar to the Penrose/Sarfatti train of thought that
models why it is that the internal life (view) must emerge. The assertion, jumping just
a little bit ahead of the theory and measurements, is that the physical pattern and the
inner experience are the same identical thing; but cannot ever be perceived the same by
virtue of their relative perspective.

> and IMHO the only
> productive way of distinguishing worlds is to have the real world on one
> side and the countless perceptions of this world by intelligent individuals
> on the other. Anything else I find a little confusing and obfuscatory.

Uhh ... isn't that exactly the way I pictured it in my diagrams?
http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_outside.gif
http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_inside.gif

> > There is nothing mysterious about that description. If you want to only describe
> > things in terms of the natural world (which you cannot even directly experience),
> > and if (like many others) you want to deny the very existence of these other
> > verifiable worlds, then your science will be deficient and inefficient in
> > predicting the future. Lots of luck in the pursuit of your physical biases.
>
> Why is it a bias. I accept the presence of your mysterious world. I merely
> point out to you that it is in no way mysterious and in no way different
> from the physical world, but a part of it.

Nor would I deny that. You really should read a little bit more carefully.

> You insist on creating some sort
> of metaphysical paradise where there is none.

Nope, you have hallucinated that in my writing.

> This is kind of reminiscent of attributing thunder to giants throwing
> boulders on the far side of the mountain. You have no proof for the
> assumption that your thoughts and the world you create are _not_ a part
> of the physical world.

I did not say they were not.

Seth Russell

Andomar

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
> Besides, there isn't really a way to prove negatives, is there? If I
> claim that there is an invisible, intangible dragon inside my garage (and
> no, you can't smell him either) how are you going to prove me wrong???
>
Well, I'll put you on an advanced Thought-O-Meter and check if the
symbol for 'imaginary dragon in garage' exists in your brain.

The interesting question is wether it's possible to make a
Thought-O-Meter.
If it is, thoughts exist in reality. If it isn't, there must be a part
of the mental world that is outside of reality. In the later case
Jerry's
point would be valid and mental would be a superset of physical.

My feeling says that making a good Thought-o-Meter is theoretically
impossible.

Neil W Rickert

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:
>On 25 Aug 1999 23:07:42 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
>wrote:
>>ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:

>>>Facts are what true statements are about. Trivial? Perhaps.
>>>Tautological? No.

>>Of course it is tautological. And a pretty trivial tautology
>>at that.

>It's a DEFINITION, Neil, what do you expect?

I expect a DEFINITION to actually DEFINE something.

When X and Y are well know names for the same undefined concept, I
don't see that it is any definition at all to state that X is Y.

>>> It makes the question of whether something is a
>>>fact decidable.

>>Nonsense. What makes it decidable, is that there are humans making
>>the decisions. But this is just an example of where something
>>presumed to be 3rd person (facts) reduces to the first person.

>Gee, do they make decisions just any old way, or is there some
>procedure or rule involved?

If deciding is a matter of following rules, then it is all in the
third person. So your argument for an irreducibly first person
aspect would seem to contradict your apparent belief that decision
making is the following of rules.

> One would expect a person with a
>mathematical background to appreciate the notion of decidability
>beyond the connotation that a decision was involved.

Perhaps one has to be trained in philosophy to be so confused as to
think that ordinary decision making has anything much to do with the
mathematical notion of decidability.

>Which is all beside the point. You concede that there is a difference
>between between factual and valuative disagreements, even tho you are
>mistakenly optimistic about the ability to reduce the latter to the
>former.

Don't speak for me. I have made no such concession.


Jerry Hull

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On 26 Aug 1999 13:16:37 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
wrote:

>ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:

>>It's a DEFINITION, Neil, what do you expect?
>
>I expect a DEFINITION to actually DEFINE something.
>
>When X and Y are well know names for the same undefined concept, I
>don't see that it is any definition at all to state that X is Y.

I still don't understand what you are objecting to. There is a way of
determining whether or not something is a fact, AKA is the case, AKA
is true. Does it bother you that there are different ways of
expressing this point? There is no equivalent procedure for resolving
disputes concerning values.

>>>Nonsense. What makes it decidable, is that there are humans making
>>>the decisions. But this is just an example of where something
>>>presumed to be 3rd person (facts) reduces to the first person.
>
>>Gee, do they make decisions just any old way, or is there some
>>procedure or rule involved?
>
>If deciding is a matter of following rules, then it is all in the
>third person. So your argument for an irreducibly first person
>aspect would seem to contradict your apparent belief that decision
>making is the following of rules.

Apparently you have not kept straight the different strands of this
argument. I have nowhere asserted that decidability is the basis for
claiming 1st person irreducibility.

>> One would expect a person with a
>>mathematical background to appreciate the notion of decidability
>>beyond the connotation that a decision was involved.
>
>Perhaps one has to be trained in philosophy to be so confused as to
>think that ordinary decision making has anything much to do with the
>mathematical notion of decidability.

If you will look back, it was you that first introduced human decision
making into the context of decidability. Have you been reading
philosophy lately? It apparently has done little for your
temperament.

>>Which is all beside the point. You concede that there is a difference
>>between between factual and valuative disagreements, even tho you are
>>mistakenly optimistic about the ability to reduce the latter to the
>>former.
>
>Don't speak for me. I have made no such concession.

Well, you have clipped away the remarks in which that concession is
implicit. Is that the same as not having made it? Here's what you
said:

>Disputes over values can usually be presented in such a way that they
>become disputes over facts.

This passage does distinguish between disputes over values and
disputes over facts, does it not? And does not a distinction imply a
difference? And the claim that the former "usually" can be reduced to
the latter suggests that they cannot always be, no? Or do you not
mean what you say? Please enlighten me.

And to follow up on your point (which you seem to have dropped rather
abruptly), tell me what facts you would use to resolve the dispute
whether my interests ought to be treated as more important than yours?

Sergio Navega

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
Andomar wrote in message <37C57C60...@like.the.sun>...

I don't think it is theoretically impossible. I may concur that it's
a hell of a hard thing to do. The fundamental question is that for
the Thought-o-Meter to understand a specific neural pattern of
activities in one brain, it must correlate this pattern with all
the *remainder* patterns of that brain. Taken in isolation, the
visual patterns that constitute a rose may mean a romantic sensation
to a woman or a painful menace to an allergic man.

The things that are mental have, one way or another, some kind of
correspondent in neurobiological terms, although it is often
very elusive, ambiguous and distributed. The intangible dragon in
one's garage exists, indeed.

Regards,
Sergio Navega.


Jerry Hull

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On Thu, 26 Aug 1999 19:41:52 +0200, Andomar <not...@like.the.sun>
wrote:

>The interesting question is wether it's possible to make a
>Thought-O-Meter.
>If it is, thoughts exist in reality. If it isn't, there must be a part
>of the mental world that is outside of reality. In the later case
>Jerry's
>point would be valid and mental would be a superset of physical.

This is not what I am claiming. You overlook the deviousness of
infinite sets. The thoughts that represent the physical world are a
proper subset of our thoughts. However, that so-modelled physical
world maps onto everything, including all of our thoughts. Not unlike
the ability to map the even integers onto all the integers, even tho
they represent a subset of same.

Jerry Hull

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On Thu, 26 Aug 1999 10:39:16 -0300, "Sergio Navega" <sna...@ibm.net>
wrote:

>Jerry Hull wrote in message <37c4b17...@news-server.stny.rr.com>...

>>No doubt there is a genetic basis for the inclination to regard things
>>causally, just as there is for the inclination to view them
>>mathematically and logically. In all of these cases, it is clear why
>>there would be an evolutionary advantage to such modes of thinking.
>
>I agree that we're built to notice simple causal associations, at
>least in the very low level, close to sensory inputs. Obviously
>this emerged because of evolutionary constraints. But this
>is very far from the level of causality that we're talking here.
>In my vision, there's no doubt that this "high level" causal
>models that we (almost automatically) build is almost all
>dependent on our world experiences. It is something that is
>*perceived*, something that some do better than others.

Squirrels have an instinct to chew on nuts, but at first do so rather
randomly. Skill at opening a nut comes only with experience. I
suspect humans with causality are not unlike squirrels with nuts.

>Take any child, 4 to 5 years old, and ask her what is the cause
>of the wind. Piaget did that and was amazed by the reports he
>listened. Child say that trees wave their leaves and this
>provokes the wind. They also say that waves on the beach
>"carry" the air when they're rolling and this also provokes
>wind. Causality is something that we build progressively,
>based on our visions of the world.

Our early notions of causality (ontogenetically and phylogenetically)
are extremely anthropomorphic.

>>Regardless of where it comes from, it is useful and successful. It
>>doesn't matter if the inspiration for a scientific hypothesis can be
>>traced to a bit of undigested beef (like the ghost of Marley). What
>>counts is how well it works.
>
>But it does matter where it comes from!
>The undigested beef may be a good way to be satisfied with the
>origins of hypotheses, maybe enough to sweep all this question
>below the rug. This is the typical way philosophers treat these
>things.

I'm only saying that you can separate questions about the success of a
way of thinking from questions about its genesis. Please don't fall
into the unfortunate & much abused habit of making generalizations
about philosophers. We are all philosophers when we debate issues
such as these.

>However, I argue that this is among the greatest problems that
>AI has to solve (it may be difficult to make a robot to have
>undigested beefs). Until we find ways to understand where this
>thing comes from, I doubt that we'll succeed in making intelligent
>machines. Which leaves me with a strong impression that AI will
>not be solved by philosophers ;-)

If it is solved it will undoubtedly be by someone thinking
philosophically, regardless of the title on their door (or the Bigelow
on their floor). And anyway, it does not seem any great problem to
teach a machine intelligence to think in causal terms. Teaching it to
think WELL is another matter.

Jerry Hull

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
On Thu, 26 Aug 1999 16:08:42 +0200, "Soenke N. Greimann"
<grei...@uni-trier.de> wrote:

>> >Jerry Hull wrote:

>> Then something is wrong with your book. Nothing prevents us from
>> accepting as real the things we impose on the world. Nor have I
>> denied that the world is such as to facilitate that imposition.
>
>You seemed to say that A is present in B. Then you went and said we only
>put A into B by using our minds, as it wasn't there before.
>I say A is (and always was) present in B. We experienced A in B and
>developed a model (involving the use of "A" and "B" to describe A in B.

You would benefit from a reading of Hume here, tho perhaps you share
the unconstrained disrespect others evince concerning philosophers.
In nature we can see that Y follows X; & perhaps that everytime X
occurs, Y occurs. But we don't otherwise see the NECESSITY that X be
followed by Y, that we nonetheless impute to causal connections. So
whence that necessity?

>> Go back and read what I have said. I claim that we are often
>> justified in supposing the existence of nomological relationships
>> amongst things. The imposition of causality NEED NOT BE spurious or
>> arbitrary. The point is that the process of determining such
>> relationships involves MENTAL activities which are PRESUPPOSED BY the
>> notion of the physical world, but which ARE NOT THEMSELVES PART OF IT.
>> Hence, the physical world does not exhaust reality.
>
>Your mental activities are not part of the physical world? Now that _is_
>an interesting statement. Care to prove it???

Our model of the physical world is a subset which we map onto the
superset including mentality. It only seems puzzling if you are
unfamiliar with the properties of infinite sets.

>If I induce brain death in you, your mind will most definitely cease to
>exist. No matter what you may happen to believe about any afterlife you
>_will_ be dead. No extraphysical mental activity left.

Of course.

>What we suppose about the world is based on our perception of this world
>and nothing else. Perhaps little men talk to you from the mental world,
>they haven't really called me on the meta-phone yet to tell me of this
>mental universe of yours.

They tell me your phone seems to be off the hook. I told them to keep
trying.

>Any mental processes about events and their relationship can be traced
>back to the perception (however indirect) of such events and are very
>much part of my everyday physical existence. For you to say that they
>are not themselves part of the physical world invokes a division between
>mental and physical that is arbitrary at best. The physical world does
>not cease to exist inside of my skull, it is merely the abstract nature
>of my perception of thought processes within my brain that creates the
>illusion that my mind is something else than physical processes inside
>my brain.

The notion that we learn everything from experience -- radical
empiricism -- has not been in vogue for years and years. The reason?
It doesn't work. Whence our ability to learn from experience? Did we
also learn that from experience? Look out -- Oh no! -- it's an
infinite regress!

Jim Balter

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
"Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:
>
> Seth Russell wrote:

> > I find your term "real world" too ambiguous to use at this level of precision. I
> > prefer the term "verifiable", so that your "real world" could be modeled as a
> > collection of facts and relationships between that collection such that they can
> > be verified. With those terms we can start to classify (partition) worlds as
> > composed of different kinds of facts and their relationships: natural world
> > (physical world if you prefer), private personal worlds, social worlds, biological
> > worlds e.t.c. That I am happy, is not something that *you* can in any way
> > verify. In my way of thinking that qualia is an element of my personal mental
>
> Sure I can verify it. I can hook you up to an EEG and measure the amount of
> hormones in your bloodstream. I can draw up a more or less accurate diagram
> of what is happening inside your body (and brain) and say. "Seth is happy."
> Given the right equipment and measuring techniques it's not at all a problem.

You are talking past each other, because you are using different
concepts of "happy". You will never completely measure "happy" to
Seth's satisfaction because whether he is happy depends on whether he
"feels" happy, and he could easily find himself "feeling" happy if
there isn't a fixed correlation being "feeling happy" and some set of
body states. You are proposing a "type identity theory" of happiness;
Dennett points out the problem with such theories:

"
This is all utterly unlikely. Consider some simpler cases to see
why. Every clock and every can-opener is no doubt nothing but a
physical thing, but is it remotely plausible to suppose or insist that
one could compose a predicate in the restricted language of physics and
chemistry that singled out all and only can openers and clocks? (What
is the common physical feature in virtue of which this grandfather
clock, this digital wristwatch, and this sundial can be ascribed the
predicate "registers 10:00 A.M."?) What can openers have peculiarly in
common is a purpose or function, regardless of their physical condition
or even their design, and the same is true of clocks.
"

Dennett then goes on to talk about "Turing machine functionalism"
theories, which are a better match for can openers and clocks than are
type identity theories. But these break down too, for mental
properties:

"
The supposition that there could be some principled way of describing
all believers and pain-sufferers and dreamers as Turing machines so
that they would be in the same logical state whenever they shared a
mental epithet is at best a fond hope. There is really no more reason
to believe you and I "have the same program" in /any/ relaxed and
abstract sense, considering the differences in our nature and nurture,
than that our brains have identical physico-chemical descriptions.
"

Dennett's answer is "token functionalism". This involves the
intentional stance, rules of attribution, and predictive principles.
Basically, our natural language terms provide a sort of calculus of
mentalism, whereby we can informally conclude that someone else is
happy or has a belief, or that we are happy or have a belief. There is
no measurement being taken, there is no exactitude involved. It isn't
as though there is some binary test I can make that determines that I
am happy; in most cases, I don't make a determination at all, and when
called upon I often find myself in an indeterminate state. There may
be clear indicators that I am happy, or clear indicators that I am
sad, based on the topics I am thinking about and the approach I am
taking toward them, but this is all very inexact, not something cut and
dry, not a matter of looking inside myself and simply "seeing" whether
I am happy or sad. Whether I am happy or sad is a *judgement* I make,
an *attribution*, and there are a large number of vague criteria,
learned from my culture, that I use to make that determination, so that
when I use the words "happy" or "sad", I communicate the idea that
those publicly shared criteria apply to me. This is expressed in
human natural language, and it cannot be reduced to the language of
physics except in the indirect sense that we, as language users, and
the language we use, can all be explained in physical terms, and
according to genetic and cultural evolutionary history, which can in
turn be explained in terms of physical phenomena.

To reject a "physical identity" notion of mental attributes does not
require embracing a dualistic or mystical view that there is some
special mental "stuff", any more than we need to embrace some sort of
"registers that it is 10:00A.M." stuff, or some sort of "checkmates in
three" stuff (to invoke another calculus that cannot be directly
reduced to physical terms). What it does require is some philosophical
sophistication, and the recognition that, when we use a word like
"happy", we are not and never have been referring to some specific
physical thing or state, but rather are invoking a complex web of
reference built into our natural language, that can be as much
dependent on how often our individual mothers smiled during our
childhoods as on the levels of endorphins in our brains (which I think
is large part of where the confusion lies; this web of language
partially, and largely, correlates with specific physical events and
phenomena, but not entirely).

And given that this *is* an AI forum, it might be worth thinking about
what this says about the importance of such a web of reference as an
element of an AI, and how an AI might communicate to us when we use all
these terms that *don't* have unambiguous physical references -- how
*will* we get an AI to pick out those, and only those, things that
"register that it is 10:00A.M.", and in fact a whole Turing test
devoted to such abstractions that humans manipulate with ease?

--
<J Q B>


Neil W Rickert

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:
>On 26 Aug 1999 13:16:37 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
>wrote:
>>ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:

>>>It's a DEFINITION, Neil, what do you expect?

>>I expect a DEFINITION to actually DEFINE something.

>>When X and Y are well know names for the same undefined concept, I
>>don't see that it is any definition at all to state that X is Y.

>I still don't understand what you are objecting to. There is a way of
>determining whether or not something is a fact, AKA is the case, AKA
>is true. Does it bother you that there are different ways of
>expressing this point?

Not at all. What bothers me is when people claim that having
different ways of expressing the same point amounts to a theory of
truth, or provides us a way of resolving disputes over whether
something is a fact.

> There is no equivalent procedure for resolving
>disputes concerning values.

Having different names (fact, truth, is the case) is in no way a
procedure for resolving disputes. There is no evident difference
between having no way of resolving disputes over claimed facts and
having no way of resolving disputes over values.

>>> One would expect a person with a
>>>mathematical background to appreciate the notion of decidability
>>>beyond the connotation that a decision was involved.

>>Perhaps one has to be trained in philosophy to be so confused as to
>>think that ordinary decision making has anything much to do with the
>>mathematical notion of decidability.

>If you will look back, it was you that first introduced human decision
>making into the context of decidability.

I made no claims that connected human decision making to the question
of mathematical decidability.

>>>Which is all beside the point. You concede that there is a difference
>>>between between factual and valuative disagreements, even tho you are
>>>mistakenly optimistic about the ability to reduce the latter to the
>>>former.

>>Don't speak for me. I have made no such concession.

>Well, you have clipped away the remarks in which that concession is
>implicit. Is that the same as not having made it? Here's what you
>said:

>>Disputes over values can usually be presented in such a way that they
>>become disputes over facts.

That is not any kind of concession.

>This passage does distinguish between disputes over values and
>disputes over facts, does it not?

It perhaps could be said to distinguish between the syntactic form
used, but not between what is in dispute in each case.

> And does not a distinction imply a
>difference? And the claim that the former "usually" can be reduced to
>the latter suggests that they cannot always be, no? Or do you not
>mean what you say? Please enlighten me.

The "usually" was there to avoid being sidetracked into a pointless
argument. I had forgotten that when debating with Hull, such
sidetracking is inevitable anyway.

>And to follow up on your point (which you seem to have dropped rather
>abruptly), tell me what facts you would use to resolve the dispute
>whether my interests ought to be treated as more important than yours?

You have missed the point that the question of what is a fact is a
very slippery one. The assertion "my interests ought to be treated
as more important than yours" purports to be something with a
true/false value which makes it a claim of factuality. Any dispute
over the statement of value is at the same time a dispute over the
corresponding claim of factuality.


Neil W Rickert

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:

>You would benefit from a reading of Hume here, tho perhaps you share
>the unconstrained disrespect others evince concerning philosophers.
>In nature we can see that Y follows X; & perhaps that everytime X
>occurs, Y occurs. But we don't otherwise see the NECESSITY that X be
>followed by Y, that we nonetheless impute to causal connections. So
>whence that necessity?

Hume was clearly mistaken about this. We will sometimes say that X
causes Y even when we know that there are possible situations where X
can occur and not be followed by Y. And there are times that we will
deny that X causes Y, even though our experience is that Y always
follows X.

------------

>The notion that we learn everything from experience -- radical
>empiricism -- has not been in vogue for years and years. The reason?
>It doesn't work. Whence our ability to learn from experience? Did we
>also learn that from experience? Look out -- Oh no! -- it's an
>infinite regress!

That's a bad argument. The ability to learn is not anything we would
usually consider to be knowledge. Therefore a radical empiricist
need not claim that the ability to learn is itself acquired through
experience.


Soenke N. Greimann

unread,
Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to

Ooooh, I see...

I've just had an evening of games with some friends and rather a lot
of lager, so maybe I needed that bit of alcohol to finally get your
point. Or you just explained it better, I don't know...

Are you saying that your world of the mental thought processes leaves
a footprint in the physical through our brain waves??? If so, I may
concur, only there is no real way of determining for sure whether there
is or isn't in fact such "mere" footprinting or whether the "footprints"
actually concisely represent the whole of the thought (and concept it
embodies)

> --
> Jer
> "When you are at sea, keep clear of the land",
> Publilius Syrus

Sönke N. Greimann

Soenke N. Greimann

unread,
Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
Andomar wrote:
>
> > Besides, there isn't really a way to prove negatives, is there? If I
> > claim that there is an invisible, intangible dragon inside my garage (and
> > no, you can't smell him either) how are you going to prove me wrong???
> >
> Well, I'll put you on an advanced Thought-O-Meter and check if the
> symbol for 'imaginary dragon in garage' exists in your brain.
>
> The interesting question is wether it's possible to make a
> Thought-O-Meter.
> If it is, thoughts exist in reality. If it isn't, there must be a part
> of the mental world that is outside of reality. In the later case
> Jerry's
> point would be valid and mental would be a superset of physical.
>
> My feeling says that making a good Thought-o-Meter is theoretically
> impossible.

I could live with that, in assuming that any given Thought-o-Meter would
most likely be applicable only to one specific human and would be in
desperate need of constant firmware updating, since the human in question
would also change on a day-to-day basis, since we can't really stop
someone from making new experiences.

But nevertheless, I would suggest that if a Thought-o-Meter is possible,
even theoretically, there would not be any theoretical room for some
mystical sort of mental world in which undetectable dragons exist in
garages. (I believe that this particular example was first put forth
by Carl Sagan, but I don't remember the book, alcohol and all... #-))

Soenke N. Greimann

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
Jerry Hull wrote:
>
> On Thu, 26 Aug 1999 16:08:42 +0200, "Soenke N. Greimann"
> <grei...@uni-trier.de> wrote:
>
> >> >Jerry Hull wrote:
>
> >> Then something is wrong with your book. Nothing prevents us from
> >> accepting as real the things we impose on the world. Nor have I
> >> denied that the world is such as to facilitate that imposition.
> >
> >You seemed to say that A is present in B. Then you went and said we only
> >put A into B by using our minds, as it wasn't there before.
> >I say A is (and always was) present in B. We experienced A in B and
> >developed a model (involving the use of "A" and "B" to describe A in B.
>
> You would benefit from a reading of Hume here, tho perhaps you share
> the unconstrained disrespect others evince concerning philosophers.
> In nature we can see that Y follows X; & perhaps that everytime X
> occurs, Y occurs. But we don't otherwise see the NECESSITY that X be
> followed by Y, that we nonetheless impute to causal connections. So
> whence that necessity?

Well, I guess that we do not have any reason to believe that "if X not Y"
until we observe it. Since everything we observe is "when X, then Y", the
only thing we effectively create are group "X" and group "Y" and linking
them causally in our mind. However, this happens only following our own
observation of "when X, then Y".

There is neither reason nor need for assuming "when X, then not Y" until
we observe such a situation. Then, and only then, our model is in need
of modification or revision.



> >> Go back and read what I have said. I claim that we are often
> >> justified in supposing the existence of nomological relationships
> >> amongst things. The imposition of causality NEED NOT BE spurious or
> >> arbitrary. The point is that the process of determining such
> >> relationships involves MENTAL activities which are PRESUPPOSED BY the
> >> notion of the physical world, but which ARE NOT THEMSELVES PART OF IT.
> >> Hence, the physical world does not exhaust reality.
> >
> >Your mental activities are not part of the physical world? Now that _is_
> >an interesting statement. Care to prove it???
>
> Our model of the physical world is a subset which we map onto the
> superset including mentality. It only seems puzzling if you are
> unfamiliar with the properties of infinite sets.

Hmm... That kind of depend on your POV. If you decide to map mental onto
physical, or vice versa (I don't quite realize how you intend to do this),
you do not need two different realms of existence, do you. Since both are
interdependent and interinfluencing, they might as well be part of the
same set.



> >If I induce brain death in you, your mind will most definitely cease to
> >exist. No matter what you may happen to believe about any afterlife you
> >_will_ be dead. No extraphysical mental activity left.
>
> Of course.

So where should your "mental" world reside then?



> >What we suppose about the world is based on our perception of this world
> >and nothing else. Perhaps little men talk to you from the mental world,
> >they haven't really called me on the meta-phone yet to tell me of this
> >mental universe of yours.
>
> They tell me your phone seems to be off the hook. I told them to keep
> trying.

:-) Good comeback. I like that. I really do. LOL... Perhaps one day I'll
be able to pick up the meta-phone. But I still need you to tell me exactly
how you view this mental universe. Assume that I'm stupid, please. Perhaps
I am missing some vital point here.



> >Any mental processes about events and their relationship can be traced
> >back to the perception (however indirect) of such events and are very
> >much part of my everyday physical existence. For you to say that they
> >are not themselves part of the physical world invokes a division between
> >mental and physical that is arbitrary at best. The physical world does
> >not cease to exist inside of my skull, it is merely the abstract nature
> >of my perception of thought processes within my brain that creates the
> >illusion that my mind is something else than physical processes inside
> >my brain.
>

> The notion that we learn everything from experience -- radical
> empiricism -- has not been in vogue for years and years. The reason?
> It doesn't work. Whence our ability to learn from experience? Did we
> also learn that from experience? Look out -- Oh no! -- it's an
> infinite regress!

Why it hasn't been in vogue is most transparent. People like to be in
charge of their own lives. For someone to say that a person is only the
product of his experience plus some very limited hardwire "inborn"
capabilities does not curry favour. It does work. It is just that, as
of yet, we are to ignorant to understand the implications that are
present in the physical with respect to the "mental", which is really
a part of the physical... IMHO, the mental is a subset of the physical
at best, since we only create it because we don't know any better, yet
it leaves "footprints" (in the broadest possible sense) in the physical
world and is dependent upon it...



> --
> Jer
> "When you are at sea, keep clear of the land",
> Publilius Syrus

Sönke N. Greimann

Soenke N. Greimann

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
Seth Russell wrote:

>
> "Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:
>
> > > I find your term "real world" too ambiguous to use at this level of precision. I
> > > prefer the term "verifiable", so that your "real world" could be modeled as a
> > > collection of facts and relationships between that collection such that they can
> > > be verified. With those terms we can start to classify (partition) worlds as
> > > composed of different kinds of facts and their relationships: natural world
> > > (physical world if you prefer), private personal worlds, social worlds, biological
> > > worlds e.t.c. That I am happy, is not something that *you* can in any way
> > > verify. In my way of thinking that qualia is an element of my personal mental
> >
> > Sure I can verify it. I can hook you up to an EEG and measure the amount of
> > hormones in your bloodstream. I can draw up a more or less accurate diagram
> > of what is happening inside your body (and brain) and say. "Seth is happy."
> > Given the right equipment and measuring techniques it's not at all a problem.
>
> Yep, and I would even go so far as to assert that some day a bio physicist will be able
> to say with certainty that when a particular pattern is recorded on his instruments,
> that a designated person is sensing blue. The point is that no matter how precisely he
> measures that pattern, it will never never look blue. Incidentally this is not just my
> half baked idea - I got it first from Chalmers and it has been acknowledged by many who
> study the philosophy of mind. Now I suspect that some day we will have a consensus of
> theoretical physicist looking very similar to the Penrose/Sarfatti train of thought that
> models why it is that the internal life (view) must emerge. The assertion, jumping just
> a little bit ahead of the theory and measurements, is that the physical pattern and the
> inner experience are the same identical thing; but cannot ever be perceived the same by
> virtue of their relative perspective.

All right. I can never - ever - experience things in the same way that you do.
I am completely in agreement on that. But I am also firm in the POV that your
perceptions and experiences - whatever shape and form - are decidedly physical
and not mental. The reason for my inability to perceive as you do is as easy
as it is elegant. I am not you. :-)



> > and IMHO the only
> > productive way of distinguishing worlds is to have the real world on one
> > side and the countless perceptions of this world by intelligent individuals
> > on the other. Anything else I find a little confusing and obfuscatory.
>
> Uhh ... isn't that exactly the way I pictured it in my diagrams?
> http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_outside.gif
> http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_inside.gif

Not really, In your diagrams, the isolation of the individual mind was, IMHO
underplayed. If more of the "amoebas" (I will call your drawings of the inner
self this for now) were set adrift in the same "reality" surrounding, it would
provide a more accurate (IMHO) view of the situation... But all in all, I like
the diagrams, since they seem to point in the right direction...



> > > There is nothing mysterious about that description. If you want to only describe
> > > things in terms of the natural world (which you cannot even directly experience),
> > > and if (like many others) you want to deny the very existence of these other
> > > verifiable worlds, then your science will be deficient and inefficient in
> > > predicting the future. Lots of luck in the pursuit of your physical biases.
> >
> > Why is it a bias. I accept the presence of your mysterious world. I merely
> > point out to you that it is in no way mysterious and in no way different
> > from the physical world, but a part of it.
>
> Nor would I deny that. You really should read a little bit more carefully.

Hmm... But it would seem that any "mental" experience would be regarded as
verifiable only by you. I could certainly find out that _something_ is being
experienced by you, but I would not really be able to tell exactly _how_ you
would experience it. Is it this, which you are trying to point out?
Nothing is true; Everything is permissible...



> > You insist on creating some sort
> > of metaphysical paradise where there is none.
>
> Nope, you have hallucinated that in my writing.

Well, it kind of appeared that way to me. If I misread you, I'm sorry.



> > This is kind of reminiscent of attributing thunder to giants throwing
> > boulders on the far side of the mountain. You have no proof for the
> > assumption that your thoughts and the world you create are _not_ a part
> > of the physical world.
>
> I did not say they were not.

Hmm... Then I wonder why you oppose my views on the subject...

> Seth Russell

Jerry Hull

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
On 26 Aug 1999 17:45:38 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
wrote:

>ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:

>>I still don't understand what you are objecting to. There is a way of
>>determining whether or not something is a fact, AKA is the case, AKA
>>is true. Does it bother you that there are different ways of
>>expressing this point?
>
>Not at all. What bothers me is when people claim that having
>different ways of expressing the same point amounts to a theory of
>truth, or provides us a way of resolving disputes over whether
>something is a fact.

What is the difficulty involved in resolving the factual dispute over
whether I am taller than you? Do you deny that esp science has
evolved procedures for resolving such disputes that are commonly used
everywhere in settling such questions? You keep claiming that there
is some problem with resolving factual disputes, but so far have
providing no clue as to what you might possibly mean.

>> There is no equivalent procedure for resolving
>>disputes concerning values.
>
>Having different names (fact, truth, is the case) is in no way a
>procedure for resolving disputes. There is no evident difference
>between having no way of resolving disputes over claimed facts and
>having no way of resolving disputes over values.

You have said this before. What might be nice would be some actual
evidence or reasoning to support your view. Or do you think that just
repeating a conclusion is sufficient to establish its truth? I have
provided examples, which you have ignored. There is more to
reasonable debate than reflexive nay-saying.

>>If you will look back, it was you that first introduced human decision
>>making into the context of decidability.
>
>I made no claims that connected human decision making to the question
>of mathematical decidability.

Well again, your disavowal is accompanied by your clipping away the
textual evidence to the contrary:

>>Nonsense. What makes it decidable, is that there are humans making
>>the decisions.

Do you know how to say "mauvais foi"? Since I used the term in a
sense clearly related to its use in mathematical contexts, either your
remarks are deliberately equivocal, or you are here relating
decidability to human decision-making. Decide which.

>>Well, you have clipped away the remarks in which that concession is
>>implicit. Is that the same as not having made it? Here's what you
>>said:
>
>>>Disputes over values can usually be presented in such a way that they
>>>become disputes over facts.
>
>That is not any kind of concession.

Starting to wriggle, are we? If someone explicitly distinguishes
between two things, it entails they regard them as distinct, which in
turn entails their implicit agreement with the proposition that they
are indeed distinct. Are you now saying you don't regard them as
distinct? Please help us keep us with your latest thoughts on the
subject.

>> And does not a distinction imply a
>>difference? And the claim that the former "usually" can be reduced to
>>the latter suggests that they cannot always be, no? Or do you not
>>mean what you say? Please enlighten me.
>
>The "usually" was there to avoid being sidetracked into a pointless
>argument. I had forgotten that when debating with Hull, such
>sidetracking is inevitable anyway.

Oh, please. The 'usually' qualified your claim of reducibility,
actually a SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE, which you have now abandoned in a
pointless attempt to disavow the implications of what you have
previoiusly said. Now exactly how am I preventing you from explaining
how to turn valuative disputes into factual disputes?

>>And to follow up on your point (which you seem to have dropped rather
>>abruptly), tell me what facts you would use to resolve the dispute
>>whether my interests ought to be treated as more important than yours?
>
>You have missed the point that the question of what is a fact is a
>very slippery one.

No, I am trying to follow up on your claim that valuative disputes
"usually" amount, in end, to factual disputes. The example I give is
of a value dispute which -- I contend -- CANNOT be settled by factual
claims. Now either this is one of those UNUSUAL instances in which
your proposed reduction does not work, or you are bound to explain how
facts can settle this issue.

> The assertion "my interests ought to be treated
>as more important than yours" purports to be something with a
>true/false value which makes it a claim of factuality. Any dispute
>over the statement of value is at the same time a dispute over the
>corresponding claim of factuality.

This is actually good. There are indeed two senses of 'fact' floating
around here. (1) What a true sentence is about, and (2) What the
true sentences of logic, math &science are about. People engaged in
this dispute argue, since there are no established procedures for
resolving the truth values of VALUE statements (i.e. those containing
expressions like 'ought', 'good', 'bad', &c.), that sense (1)
collapses into sense (2). But, of course, that is precisely the point
at issue.

It is generally accepted (pace certain contrarians) that we do have
consensual, "objective" procedures for resolving the truth status of
statements like 'X is Y inches long'. However, there is no such
general agreement as to how one might establish the truth or falsity
of statements like 'X ought to be Y inches long', particularly when
that 'ought' refers to a MORAL issue & not a practical issue, e.g. of
mechanical design, where a goal is given.

Anyway, the issue comes back to where we were at the beginning: are
there, or can there be, procedures for resolving the truth value of
value claims of the same generally acceptable validity of those
available for resolving truth issues in science (& math & logic)?
Note that I am hardly attempting to deny the existence of various
skeptical difficulties attending claims in science, &c., but rather
concerned with whether value & moral issues can come up to that same
standard (however low or high one might think it to be).

Jerry Hull

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
On 26 Aug 1999 17:51:36 -0500, Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu>
wrote:

>ZZZg...@stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull) writes:
>
>>You would benefit from a reading of Hume here, tho perhaps you share
>>the unconstrained disrespect others evince concerning philosophers.
>>In nature we can see that Y follows X; & perhaps that everytime X
>>occurs, Y occurs. But we don't otherwise see the NECESSITY that X be
>>followed by Y, that we nonetheless impute to causal connections. So
>>whence that necessity?
>

>Hume was clearly mistaken about this. We will sometimes say that X
>causes Y even when we know that there are possible situations where X
>can occur and not be followed by Y. And there are times that we will
>deny that X causes Y, even though our experience is that Y always
>follows X.

You completely miss the point. Assume all your qualifications have
been made. Still, whence the necessity?

You would do well to actually read Hume and understand what he is
getting at, rather than carping about various nuances that are
irrelevant to his argument. Of course, he is a philosopher ....

>>The notion that we learn everything from experience -- radical
>>empiricism -- has not been in vogue for years and years. The reason?
>>It doesn't work. Whence our ability to learn from experience? Did we
>>also learn that from experience? Look out -- Oh no! -- it's an
>>infinite regress!
>

>That's a bad argument. The ability to learn is not anything we would
>usually consider to be knowledge. Therefore a radical empiricist
>need not claim that the ability to learn is itself acquired through
>experience.

Sure we do. The ability to learn is something we may or may not know
how to do. Perhaps you are sticking at "knowing that" vs. "knowing
how". A stone does not know how to learn from experience. You,
presumably, do.

Soenke N. Greimann

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
Seth Russell wrote:
>
> "Soenke N. Greimann" wrote:
>
> > Seth Russell wrote:
> > >
> > All right. I can never - ever - experience things in the same way that you do.
> > I am completely in agreement on that. But I am also firm in the POV that your
> > perceptions and experiences - whatever shape and form - are decidedly physical
> > and not mental.
>
> Well I was under the impression that "your perceptions and experiences" were mental by
> *definition*. But if you are saying that "any person's perceptions and experiences exist in
> the natural world." (where you may substitute "physical" for the term "natural world"), I can
> agree with that sentence, and we can put this confusion behind us.

Agreed. *shakes hands* :-)



> > > Uhh ... isn't that exactly the way I pictured it in my diagrams?
> > > http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_outside.gif
> > > http://www.clickshop.com/ai/hull_inside.gif
> >

> > In your diagrams, the isolation of the individual mind was, IMHO
> > underplayed. If more of the "amoebas" (I will call your drawings of the inner
> > self this for now) were set adrift in the same "reality" surrounding, it would
> > provide a more accurate (IMHO) view of the situation...
>

> Yes I though long and hard about that. But bear in mind that time and space are not in any
> way represented in the diagram and that the points in the plane represent *facts* which are
> ordered proximally by the density of their cause/effect connections. The points (facts) in
> the drawn boundary line must represent the sensual surfaces and motor activators that
> interface private facts and the facts of the natural world. But I can think of no such
> boundary points that exists between private facts and public facts, and at the same time are
> proximate in terms of cause and effect, and are proximate to the sense organs. Another way to
> put that is there is no sense organ in the brain that allows you to perceive a public fact
> directly, yet there are strong cause and effect connections between public facts and private
> facts. If you can provide tangeagele examples of any facts that are (almost private but
> almost public) and at the same time are *contiguous* (in terms of cause and effect) with the
> sense organs and motor activators, then your topology is more accurate.

I presently don't have time to reply to this. (More on sunday evening CET)



> > Hmm... But it would seem that any "mental" experience would be regarded as
> > verifiable only by you. I could certainly find out that _something_ is being
> > experienced by you, but I would not really be able to tell exactly _how_ you
> > would experience it. Is it this, which you are trying to point out?
>

> Yes, you can verify my behavior but you have no access to "how it feels" from inside.


>
> > Nothing is true; Everything is permissible...
>

> This sentence seems to hang in cybermedia disconnected from the other facts of the universe.
> It certainly does not follow from anything I have written.

Did I say that? Sorry. No I just threw that in there to point out that what is
true
to me is not necessarily true to others, but may be acceptable. The quote is
from
Wilson, so it is kind of provocative...



> > Hmm... Then I wonder why you oppose my views on the subject...
>

> Which views in particular might those be?

Well, since we clarified a great deal of things above, I'll retract that and
apologize. I had the impression that you were also in favour of a "mental"
world outside and separate from the physical world...



> > Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi
> > dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
>

> Translation?

Just a stupid tag-line. It's a silly joke really... It means:
"I have a catapult. If you will not give me all your
money, I will fling an enormous rock at your head."

> Seth Russell
> Want a introduction to Knowledge Representation?
> see http://www.clickshop.com/ai/symknow.htm

Jerry Hull

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
On Fri, 27 Aug 99 13:33:55 GMT, jbze...@zsku.p.lodz.pl (jacek) wrote:

>Yes, it's really old idea that causality is something "artificial" imposed
>upon a world by a man, the same we can say about our concepts of time and
>space. Many thinkers had made much of work trying to go in reverse direction
>from percepts to raw data and after such journey discovered that end-station
>is not interesting so they however in some way had to made a journey
>backwards. A conclusion is that such concepts cannot be understand "properly"
>without study a human mind and its neuronal organization. Of course a world is
>"a source" of our concepts which means that it guides our mind from one state
>to the other, but there is no doubt that the same neuronal matery could be
>organized in some other way as an antropologhy shows clearly.
>Perhaps there are possible different mental worlds, for us incomprehensible at
>present time.

You can accept the activity of mind without concluding that its
impositions are "artificial"; at least, not in the sense of
"arbitrary". The world is such as to facilitate those impositions,
tho as with QM we sometimes have to qualify what it is we are
imposing.

Jerry Hull

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
On 27 Aug 1999 05:10:23 GMT, fsjcs...@aol.com (FSJCSpence) wrote:

>You began what I thought was a very cogent argument for idealism. Basically,
>the thing that we know without doubt (as Descartes pointed out before he went
>down the slippery religious slope) is our own existence, which in reality is
>our own personal consciousness. Everything else is a subjective construct
>within our experience, even the notion of self, and certainly the notion of a
>physical world. Yet those constructs do suggest a physical world which is made
>of matter, is objective and third-person.

I don't accept any implications of subjectivity with respect to our
conception of the world, at least not any with skiptical implications.
What we know represents the confluence of what we abstract as the
"objective" and "subjective" realms, and cannot be restricted to
EITHER.

There is an element of idealism in what I have claimed (at least so
far as I remember idealism from decades-