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Thread: Determinism And Rationality.

  1. #81
    tWebber Boxing Pythagoras's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    I have no idea why you aren't still a theist. It seems that God would explain all this better than nature...
    It certainly made my justification for the B-Theory easier! Rather than needing to get into physics and Relativity (which was still a large part of the reason I was convinced of the B-Theory when I was a theist) I could frame the notion around God's omniscience.

    Alack and alas, now I gotta trudge through the harder stuff to explain my views.
    "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
    --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    Action is actually not too difficult to understand on the B-Theory. The psychological experience of time's passage is certainly a more difficult topic, but I think there are reasonable paths towards reconciling it with Tenseless models of Time.
    The psychological experience of time's passage (PETP) is my main reason to reject at least a *pure* tenseless/static model of time. A sort of hybrid between A and B theory would be conceivable to me, where past, present and future are all equally real for the natural/physical world, but where our consciousness exists in a sort of time envisioned by the A-theory of time, moving from each moment of time in the natural world to the next. But a purely tenseless view of time doesn't make sense to me, because even the "illusion" of change is itself true change, and on any purely tenseless view of time it seems to me like you would have to posit that the PETP is just that sort of illusion of change. Or to put it in another way, for your consciousness to experience the "illusion" of change your mind needs to move from one state to another, which means that even if nothing else in reality truly changed, at least your consciousness/mind did.

  3. Amen Boxing Pythagoras, Jim B. amen'd this post.
  4. #83
    tWebber Boxing Pythagoras's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    The psychological experience of time's passage (PETP) is my main reason to reject at least a *pure* tenseless/static model of time. A sort of hybrid between A and B theory would be conceivable to me, where past, present and future are all equally real for the natural/physical world, but where our consciousness exists in a sort of time envisioned by the A-theory of time, moving from each moment of time in the natural world to the next. But a purely tenseless view of time doesn't make sense to me, because even the "illusion" of change is itself true change, and on any purely tenseless view of time it seems to me like you would have to posit that the PETP is just that sort of illusion of change. Or to put it in another way, for your consciousness to experience the "illusion" of change your mind needs to move from one state to another, which means that even if nothing else in reality truly changed, at least your consciousness/mind did.
    I don't think locomotion through spacetime is necessary for PETP. All that would seem to be necessary is for a psychological state at a given moment to have memories related to temporally prior moments, stimuli related to that present moment, and no experience of temporally subsequent moments.

    While this is obviously quite speculative, it seems perfectly plausible to me that-- if a deterministic physical theory of consciousness could be found-- the physical structures and processes which compose these sorts of directed psychological states might display the same sort of increasing entropic trend which seems to define a preferred direction for Time elsewhere in physics.
    "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
    --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    I don't think locomotion through spacetime is necessary for PETP. All that would seem to be necessary is for a psychological state at a given moment to have memories related to temporally prior moments, stimuli related to that present moment, and no experience of temporally subsequent moments.

    While this is obviously quite speculative, it seems perfectly plausible to me that-- if a deterministic physical theory of consciousness could be found-- the physical structures and processes which compose these sorts of directed psychological states might display the same sort of increasing entropic trend which seems to define a preferred direction for Time elsewhere in physics.
    I'm not sure how your suggestion about psychological states solves the issue of how something completely static and unchanging can give rise to the perception of change. It seems to me like even if you have all of the things you list above regarding psychological states, it would still not be a sufficient condition for the experience of time's passing to occur in someone's mind. Since every psychological state of a particular consciousness exists simultaneously at every moment of time in a static, unchanging way, it seems to me like there's no mechanism to explain why we have the experience of a "preferred" timeframe that we call the now/present, and why we we also have the experience that the now that we experienced a few moments ago is "now" the past. If a purely tenseless theory of time were correct, with consciousness arising purely through physical/natural phenomena, it seems to me like what we would experience would not be the illusion of an everchanging present, but instead for each particular person, we would have a separate consciousness for each given moment in time, and each of those states would be eternally stuck in that particular psychological state, without there even being the illusion that change is taking place.

    To me, it seems like that change and stasis(permanence? unchangingness?) are such deeply fundamental concepts, that you cannot get one from the other. Even when we talk about the "illusion" of change (like the illusion of time's passing, as in this discussion) what we're talking about is that our minds experienced a change in our perception of the outside world, but that the outside world itself didn't change but stayed static, contrary to the experience of change in our minds. But if we then posit that not even our consciousness changed, that even our psychological states are static, then it becomes incomprehensible to me how we could have the experience of change, or changing experiences (I'm not sure if those two are the same, or two different concepts). If psychological states exist statically(sp?) and unchangingly, it seems to me like our experiences would reflect that by never involving the notion of change.
    Last edited by Chrawnus; 05-14-2020 at 06:23 PM.

  6. Amen Jim B. amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Boxing Pythagoras's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    If a purely tenseless theory of time were correct, with consciousness arising purely through physical/natural phenomena, it seems to me like what we would experience would not be the illusion of an everchanging present, but instead for each particular person, we would have a separate consciousness for each given moment in time, and each of those states would be eternally stuck in that particular psychological state, without there even being the illusion that change is taking place.
    You're fairly close to how I understand it, here.

    Now, if the only thing present in the psychological state was its experience of the stimuli present at that moment, I would agree with you. However, memory is the key differentiator, here. For any given psychological state, the memories of the temporally prior moments would seem to form an unbroken chain leading to its present. Every individual psychological state would have the impression, as a result of its memories, that it had arrived to its present moment from its previous moments. And since none of those psychological states would be aware of the direct stimuli available at any other moment in time, each state is under the impression that it is the only one which exists.

    You know that old thought experiment about a guy created 5 seconds ago with 30 years worth of memories? On the basis of his memory, that man would be convinced that he had lived all of those 30 years and would not be able to discern simply from his own psychological state that he hadn't lived those 30 years. This would be true for him even if we looked only at a freeze-frame of his psychological state solely in the exact moment of his creation, right? Now, imagine if, one second after that man was created he is destroyed; and imagine a second man is created at that exact moment in the exact same spatial position with all the same memories which the first had been given at creation PLUS the memory of what Man #1 experienced prior to being destroyed. Man #2 would be convinced that he was, indeed, the same person as Man #1 and would be unable to tell that there was any sort of disjunction. Another second passes and Man #2 is destroyed while Man #3 is created with the original memories plus memory of Man #1's experience prior to destruction plus memory of Man #2's experience prior to destruction. Man #3 would be convinced he had experienced all of the things in his memory despite the fact that he had only just been created. This process could be repeated indefinitely with each newly created Man being truly convinced that he had been having continuous experiences the entire time.

    Compressing the amount of time from a full second down to half a second, or a tenth, or a Planck second, or even to a single moment wouldn't alter this. Each Man in the chain would still be convinced that he had experienced everything in the chain prior to his existence and would have the impression of a continuous, changing existence leading up to that moment.

    A B-Theory chain of temporally ordered psychological states would be exactly the same, except without all the messiness of ontological creation and destruction. Each psychological state would be convinced it had arrived at that moment through a continuous flow of moments in time.
    Last edited by Boxing Pythagoras; 05-14-2020 at 08:01 PM.
    "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
    --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    You're fairly close to how I understand it, here.

    Now, if the only thing present in the psychological state was its experience of the stimuli present at that moment, I would agree with you. However, memory is the key differentiator, here. For any given psychological state, the memories of the temporally prior moments would seem to form an unbroken chain leading to its present. Every individual psychological state would have the impression, as a result of its memories, that it had arrived to its present moment from its previous moments. And since none of those psychological states would be aware of the direct stimuli available at any other moment in time, each state is under the impression that it is the only one which exists.

    You know that old thought experiment about a guy created 5 seconds ago with 30 years worth of memories? On the basis of his memory, that man would be convinced that he had lived all of those 30 years and would not be able to discern simply from his own psychological state that he hadn't lived those 30 years. This would be true for him even if we looked only at a freeze-frame of his psychological state solely in the exact moment of his creation, right? Now, imagine if, one second after that man was created he is destroyed; and imagine a second man is created at that exact moment in the exact same spatial position with all the same memories which the first had been given at creation PLUS the memory of what Man #1 experienced prior to being destroyed. Man #2 would be convinced that he was, indeed, the same person as Man #1 and would be unable to tell that there was any sort of disjunction. Another second passes and Man #2 is destroyed while Man #3 is created with the original memories plus memory of Man #1's experience prior to destruction plus memory of Man #2's experience prior to destruction. Man #3 would be convinced he had experienced all of the things in his memory despite the fact that he had only just been created. This process could be repeated indefinitely with each newly created Man being truly convinced that he had been having continuous experiences the entire time.

    Compressing the amount of time from a full second down to half a second, or a tenth, or a Planck second, or even to a single moment wouldn't alter this. Each Man in the chain would still be convinced that he had experienced everything in the chain prior to his existence and would have the impression of a continuous, changing existence leading up to that moment.

    A B-Theory chain of temporally ordered psychological states would be exactly the same, except without all the messiness of ontological creation and destruction. Each psychological state would be convinced it had arrived at that moment through a continuous flow of moments in time.
    Just curious. Where would the "30 years’ worth of memories" come from in this thought experiment? And how would they integrate with all the guy’s associates and friends accumulated over the 30 years of false memories?.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

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    tWebber Boxing Pythagoras's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Just curious. Where would the "30 years’ worth of memories" come from in this thought experiment? And how would they integrate with all the guy’s associates and friends accumulated over the 30 years of false memories?.
    For the purpose of the thought experiment, we are assuming that they are false memories which just pop into existence with him. And since all of the associates and friends and whatnot that he believes he has are from those false memories, it might be that interacting with other people or things could eventually convince him that something strange was going on. This is why I specified that he wouldn't be able to tell simply from his own psychological state that he hadn't lived those 30 years.
    "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
    --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    I'm not sure how familiar you are with the Copernican revolution, but this is exactly what happened. The prevailing understanding of physics which had stood almost entirely unchallenged for over 1500 years could not explain an Earth in motion. It was literally nonsensical on Aristotelian physics and Ptolemaic cosmology. It was entirely inconceivable on those models that there even COULD be a physical explanation for the Earth being in motion. People literally accused Galileo of being under demonic influence because he saw that Jupiter has moons. It's not like the previous understanding of the universe was basically similar to modern cosmology but with things orbiting the Earth instead of the Sun.

    In exactly the same way that Copernicanism could only be explained by completely abandoning previous models of cosmology, it may be the case that a physical theory of consciousness can only be explained by completely abandoning previous models of consciousness.
    Let's try it this way: There have been periodic paradigm shifts in physics. The shift from the universe of Newton to the universe of Maxwell required a whole new set of concepts and theories -- new kinds of concepts. But the underlying concepts of what it means for something to be regarded as 'physical' ie to be analyzable in terms of extrinsic, relational, quantitative structure and function, in terms of causal dispositions, remains constant through paradigm shifts. The fundamental dependence-relation of macro upon micro, of mereological relations ( part to whole) remain constant. That is how the meaning of the concept "physical" is fixed. Without these parameters, the meaning is not met and the thing in question becomes something else. Experimental science could not function without conceptual boundaries such as these. Perhaps the Copenhagen Interpretation problematizes this understanding, but the extent to which such interpretations have been marginalized might make it more the exception that proves the rule.


    Again, the idea that the Earth could possibly be in motion was entirely inconceivable on the prevailing understanding of the world. Relativity similarly upended our foundational notions of reality. Quantum mechanics did so after that, as well. The fact that we have difficulty even conceiving of how a thing may be possible on our current understanding is a fairly poor predictor for future understanding.
    Just as action-at-a-distance was entirely inconceivable. I agree that conceivability alone is a poor predictor, but as I said, it depends on the role that conceivability plays in the particular context in question. If the nature and scope of empirical knowledge itself is at issue rather than an empirical truth, then conceivability is a surer guide.

    I'm not sure why one would think it difficult to reconcile a notion of Truth with Naturalism. Do you think that Truth entails something which necessarily invalidates Naturalism?
    I'm not even clear on what you mean by your Concept of Truth, so I can't say much about it yet. I just haven't come across many naturalists who put so much emphasis on 'Concepts.' You do come across as a bit coy. Why not just tell us what these things are?


    Action is actually not too difficult to understand on the B-Theory. The psychological experience of time's passage is certainly a more difficult topic, but I think there are reasonable paths towards reconciling it with Tenseless models of Time.
    I think action would be difficult to understand on the B-Theory. But more to come.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    It certainly made my justification for the B-Theory easier! Rather than needing to get into physics and Relativity (which was still a large part of the reason I was convinced of the B-Theory when I was a theist) I could frame the notion around God's omniscience.

    Alack and alas, now I gotta trudge through the harder stuff to explain my views.
    Whitehead and the Eastern Orthodox think of God as occupying both the A- and B-series through His di-polar nature. The Eastern Orthodox call it His Essence and His Energies. In both cases, there is an aspect of God's nature that is unfolding with the world.

  12. Amen Boxing Pythagoras amen'd this post.
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    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Whitehead and the Eastern Orthodox think of God as occupying both the A- and B-series through His di-polar nature. The Eastern Orthodox call it His Essence and His Energies. In both cases, there is an aspect of God's nature that is unfolding with the world.
    So now God is bi-polar!
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

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