Re: Determinism

Date: Sun Apr 15 2001 - 22:19:33 BST

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    Subject: Re: Determinism
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    References: <3AD88C1F.14920.40C75F@localhost>; from on Sat, Apr 14, 2001 at 05:42:55PM -0500
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    On 15 Apr 2001, at 14:35, Robin Faichney wrote:

    > On Sat, Apr 14, 2001 at 05:42:55PM -0500, wrote:
    > > On 14 Apr 2001, at 13:44, Robin Faichney wrote: > > > One may
    > logically subdivide any event into smaller and smaller > > timeslices.
    > If doing so with causation results ultimately in a > > durationless
    > event, then the same will apply to every other event, and > > if this
    > is the "correct" approach, then all events are "really" > >
    > durationless. Is that a useful or in any sense desirable stance to >
    > > take? Because it looks to me like a contortion designed
    > specifically > > to evade the fact that, given the usual concept of
    > causation, it does > > not extent vertically up *or* down the
    > hierarchy of levels of > > explanation. > > > History would be what
    > happens between events; the spatiotemporal > passages that carry us
    > from one to the other.
    > But between events nothing happens, and therefore no time passes. So
    > you have durationless events separated by durationless non-events. The
    > more you explain your view, the less sense it makes.
    Wrongo; the biliard ball travels after it has been hit, due to inertia.
    > > I also hasten to add
    > > that your entire concept of level with unbreachable barriers...
    > I never suggested unbreachable barriers.
    Causationally unbreachable.
    > > In other words, in your world, the entire universe at every instant
    > > is both caused by the entire universe in the preceding instant, and
    > > the cause of the entire universe in the succeeding instant,
    > > regardless of contiguity or noticeable influence.
    > At the highest level of explanation, that's exactly right.
    At the Buddhist level of belief, this is the dogma/doctrine of
    codependent origination.
    > > Such a definition in effect
    > > renders causation meaningless, for you cannot distinguish it from
    > > anything else, since it becomes omnipresent, even in empty space.
    > You forgot all about levels, didn't you?! :-) When you start making
    > distinctions, you have to work at a lower level than that of the
    > universe as a whole. This is not rocket science, Joe.
    Levels are imposed upon objects; they reside in the constructing
    mind. The art of philosophical description is contained in the
    capacity to carve reality at its natural joints, but we decide what is
    natural, not reality.
    > > > > let us look at P-E pairs, however. When
    > > > > they come together, what entity survives their mutual
    > > > > annihilation?
    > > >
    > > > You're fixating on "entity". The effect is clearly the absense of
    > > > the pair.
    > > >
    > > Your own cut-and-pasted words:
    > > that the concept of causation requires the causal
    > > entity to precede that instant, and the caused one to survive it.
    > > Are you repudiating them now?
    > "Entity" was the wrong word -- I misspoke. I repudiate that word, if
    > you like. "Situation" would have been better.
    This fits into the dogma of codependent origination, wherein every
    world-condition is absolutely dependent upon the preceding one,
    and absolutely causative of the succeeding one. It is another way
    to assert superdeterminism, wherein causality becomes relabeled
    dharma. It is an article of religious belief, not scientific knowledge.
    > > One can point to the alteration of a
    > > presence (configuration, location, etc.) as an effect, but an
    > > absence, as you state?
    > Why not?
    See below.
    > > If nothing can be the effect of something,
    > > then can it also be it's cause?
    > You're the expert on something coming out of nothing, so why don't you
    > tell us?
    No, I'm expecting something to be generated by something else,
    and yet be able to assert a degree of causal control upon that from
    which it emerges, as has been shown by numerous scientific (PET-
    scan) studies. Your religious bias seems to cause you <g> to
    have problems accepting scientific conclusions. I guess it's just
    your dharma-karma.
    > > We (well, some of us) impose causative sequentiality upon
    > > objects, which merely spatiotemporally change with the passage of
    > > time. No causal entity can be separated from the interacting
    > > objects and pointed to in isolation, because it is a cognitively
    > > imposed addition, with no mind-independent existence (David Hume's
    > > point). It is what you would call maya, and what others consider a
    > > construction.
    > But Joe, it is *you* who are saying the normal concept of causation is
    > maya, and *me* who is saying that's what *your* intellectual
    > gymnastics amount to!
    So you then support the idea of a Platonic Form of Causation
    floating out there in the celestial spheres? If you reject both
    bottom-up and top-down causation, you are left with Spinozan
    noninteractive parallelism, where it is just a happy coincidence that
    anything whatsoever fits with anything else. I'm saing that
    causation is not universal, but it is a useful concept for explaining
    how it is that people can be asked to and assent to perform certain
    cognitive tasks and the appropriate cortical areas subsuming such
    functions routinely light up. The only difference between this and
    control over more distal areas of the body (of which the brain is a
    part), such as me thinking that I will type this sentence, and then
    doing so, is a difference of degree, not kind.
    > > > You're confusing me with someone else, again. Scott Chase, I
    > > > think, this time. I talk consistently about vertical causation,
    > > > and view the bottom-up variety as no more valid than top-down.
    > > > The only move that can occur between levels is a change in
    > > > viewpoint, going for more detail or for a broader scope.
    > > > Switching between a magnifying glass and a scanning electron
    > > > microscope does not affect the specimen being studied, only which
    > > > aspect of it is seen. Atoms don't *cause* molecules, because
    > > > groups of them *are* molecules. Neural activity doesn't *cause*
    > > > our decisions, because it *is* our decisions. Sure, you can use
    > > > the word "cause" to cover such emergence, but only at the price of
    > > > generating confusion. Top-down and bottom-up causation are both
    > > > artefacts of sloppy thinking.
    > > >
    > > The large gaps you seem to be committed to imposing upon the
    > > data are rendered apparent only if you peruse over a vast gradation;
    > > there is little difference between one SEM and another one set to a
    > > bit less magnification.
    > A vast gradation is exactly what there is, in the context of interest.
    > The gradation between neural activity and consciousness is easily vast
    > enough to allow deterministic activation of neurons at one extreme and
    > conscious decision-making at the other.
    Not if they interrelate, which they undeniably do. In fact, we are
    not even talking about two completely distinct levels; one might
    glibly refer to emergent materialism as 'one and a half -ism'.
    > > > By the way, your favourite example of "top-down causation", the
    > > > correlation between subjects' reports and PET scans, is perfectly
    > > > covered by what I call "diagonal causation", as fully explained on
    > > > the web page.
    > > >
    > > Ok, now this is TRULY hilarious! There can be, according to you, NO
    > > vertical causation, only horizontal causation, and (of course?)
    > > diagonal causation (hello! Diagonals, or slopes, are composed of
    > > both horizontal AND vertical components, dewde!).
    > If you'd bothered to read it, you'd have seen that only the horizontal
    > component is true causation, while the vertical component is
    > translation between the explanatory frameworks associated with
    > different levels. Where you find yourself getting so excited over an
    > apparent error, it's wise to check your facts before "shooting off".
    Sophistry is a poor substitute for rationality.
    > --
    > Robin Faichney
    > Get your Meta-Information from
    > (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)
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