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Reply (from A Squirrel)

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Posted by Michael Levine on July 24, 2003 13:59:55 UTC

Hi Dick

Besides the news, which can be scanned in a quarter of an hour, there isn't much new on the internet worth reading. I guess that's what makes forums like those interesting.

You do think a lot! I don't even know where to start a reply. Almost each one of your sentences can inspire a philosophical teatrise, it is really difficult for me to grasp the essence of what you are talking about. May I offer you some advice? You seem to think your ideas are radically different from anyone else's; may I suggest it's in fact your usage of language that is idiosyncratic?

It may well be that you know things other people ignore. That is true of any human being anyway. But look at my recent discussion with Harvey on languages and conceptual schemes; it's perfectly possible that what is true under your conceptual scheme is false under mine. So instead of trying to convince me that proposition X is true, which would at best prompt me to try and convince you that X is false, the only rational thing we can possibly do is find common ground between our conceptual schemes. If we are successful, we may be able to enlarge our schemes together. That's how people communicate, it works very often.

With that in mind, let me show you some of the problems between our conceptual schemes, which I'm sure cannot be overcome by stating more true facts from one scheme which are false in the other.

Thus it is that in my mental model of my mind, all the information I have available to think about consciously comes from my subconscious.

Your mental model of your mind is not part of my conceptual scheme. Therefore, I have no idea what you are talking about there.

I personally (my conscious mind) has no contact with reality at all.

In my conceptual scheme, the following statements are true:

"reality includes everything that exists"
"I exist"
"my conscious mind exists"

As a consequence, I can't possibly agree that I am out of touch with reality since I'm part of reality myself.

The only contact I have is via the illusions created by my subconscious.

In my conceptual scheme, it's not a fact that there's any difference between what I call "my subconscious" and what I call "reality". I suspect there is some difference, but I was never able to pinpoint exactly what that difference is.

Whatever reality is (and such a thing must exist or the value of the word vanishes), certainly my subconscious stands as a barrier between me and reality.

Not in my conceptual scheme. If my subconscious is part of reality, then it can't isolate me from itself. And If it's not part of reality, it's just a creature of my imagination, and pondering about the subconscious will reveal no truths about reality.

Now, even if the illusion created by my subconscious is a valid model of reality, I still know it is an illusion and, as a conscious entity, I can not perceive what is really going on

(reading on...)

I suspect that the import and meaning of that last statement will elude you.

I perfectly understand that but, in my conceptual scheme, you have fallen victim to a classic error of misconception. Of course in your conceptual scheme I'm just not able to grasp the meaning and importance of your statement.

See how serious the problem is?

If one accepts for the moment that the model of reality created by my subconscious is valid (realizing of course that there exists no proof of that) then the image I see of the monitor before me is actually on the retina of my eye (or is actually a collection of nerve pulses going to my brain or perhaps actual activity in my brain). However, try as I can, I cannot perceive it so consciously. My conscious perception is that there is a monitor about two feet ahead of me.

But by the same reasoning your eye is just a bunch of nerves connected to your brain, your brain is just a concept in your conscious mind, your conscious mind is just... what next?

That's where the "meta" stuff gets in and, before you realize it, the ground you were standing on was suddenly removed from under your feet. You may think you are flying toward the heavens, but in fact you are falling into a bottomless pit. (please excuse the poetic license)

There is no sense in questioning the ground we're standing on. Just when you think you finally found the answers, you realize the questions themselves no longer make sense.

The standard scientific position is that the given sense-data cannot be illusory and that they are the starting point for all scientific investigation.

I don't know, I think what's great about science is that, even if it all turns out to be a big illusion, most scientific truths will remain true. Do you believe otherwise? (as Alan seems to)

What is important here is that my perspective includes alternate explanations of your subconscious whereas yours presumes that collection of "squirrel decisions" which created your perception of reality is correct

That sounds to me like too bold a statement to make; I'll overlook the boldness for the sake of civility. Even so, I don't know what to say other than, "how can a squirrel stop thinking like a squirrel, and even if he could, does the squirrel learn anything that matters to squirrels by not being one?"

I suspect that the import and meaning of that last statement will elude you. And that is perfectly OK.



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