The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.

The April Philosophy Book of the Month is The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight

How does one find True Knowledge?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
Post Reply
User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1240
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » December 12th, 2018, 4:31 pm

RJG wrote:...the impossibility of conscious causation...
Belindi wrote:True, there is never absolute conscious causation however there are degrees of conscious causation which ktz called " internal locus of control".
Not so. There is no gray area (or "degrees of") in a logical impossibility. One cannot 'come' before that which one comes 'after'. X<Y and X>Y are mutually exclusive, (i.e. logically impossible to co-exist).

Belindi, just ask yourself ...is there ANYTHING that you are conscious of, 'before' you are conscious of it? Hopefully you will agree that this is nonsense; and a strict logical impossibility.

We cannot consciously cause 'anything', because 'everything' that we are conscious of, has 'already' been caused/scripted/created. ...and if you disagree, then please tell me what you know of (are conscious of) before you know it, so as to then possibly cause it's knowing.

Burning ghost wrote:If you polish a turd it’s still a turd.
Thanks BG, I can always count on you for a good insult. ...it is flattery to my ears. For you to care so much to insult me, means that I must have said something so irrefutable that you cannot rationally refute it. ...it means that all you got left to argue with are just insults.

Burning ghost wrote:See you in 2020 ... maybe time will humble you a tad - judging by the past 5-6 years I’m not exactly overly optimistic.
Hopefully by then you will learn how to argue more effectively (note: casting 'insults' only highlights your inabilities). But, like you say "I'm not exactly overly optimistic".

Chewy brian wrote:Very well... I will try now to attack only your argument.
Aaah, how refreshingly novel, ...good man Chewy!

Chewy brian wrote:You seem to begin with the idea that thoughts must be experienced to exist…
Not so. I am not doubting the existence of non-conscious thoughts (brain/memory activities).

Chewy brian wrote:..and that this implies, to you, that thoughts are only experienced…
Yes, any thoughts that we consciously experience are only 'experienced' thoughts.

Chewy brian wrote:...and never authored or controlled by the thinker.
Correct - consciously "experiencing" thoughts does not mean consciously "authoring" thoughts.

Chewy brian wrote:I assume you think (no pun intended) that they come from the subconscious or unconscious, then. Is this what you assert?
Yes, the thoughts that we consciously experience are non-consciously created.

Chewy brian wrote:I suppose you think we have no control over any aspect of our subconscious or unconscious, and they both act of their own accord, or in some random or caused way totally out of reach of our consciousness. Is this what you are saying?
Correct. Since we are not conscious of our non-conscious activities, we therefore can't have 'conscious' control over them.

Chewy brian wrote:Your stance of seems to be the conclusion of this train of thought, then. But, the logic only works when and if the reader assents to the premises upon which it is built. I don't assent to your premise, so I don't feel the need to follow along to the conclusions you draw from it.
You have lost me here. Which premises are you alluding to? The impossibility of conscious causation has nothing to do with these comments above. It has to do with the impossibility of something coming 'before' that which it comes 'after'. Causation implies 'before' and consciousness implies 'after'. We can't get 'opposites' on the same side of the equation, so as to then consciously cause anything. Conscious causation is an oxymoron. Causation<X>Consciousness

Chewy brian wrote:Many folks have raised objections to these premises, and you seem to run back to 'logical impossibility' rather than addressing their concerns thoughtfully. I hope, instead, that you might take the time to address my concerns thoughtfully.
I would love to, if you could specifically point out the flawed premises that lead to the flawed conclusion.

Chewy brian wrote:1-Do we know for a fact that our unconscious, subconscious and conscious thought processes do not work together? Intuitively, it makes sense that they would. We are all on the same team, right? And, we often run on autopilot, performing basic tasks like breathing, standing in place or walking across a spectrum of awareness, from totally involuntary to a peripheral vision type of awareness without any focus. Yet, the conscious mind can take control at any point. Doesn't all of this point to the idea that these systems are not separate, but overlap? If I decide right now to take a deep breath, my conscious mind takes over an unconscious process, so the overlap seems self-evident in that case, implying that more overlap could exist.
Aren't you just begging the question here? In essence, you are saying I have conscious control because I can consciously control. No offense, but you can't "decide" (not "consciously" anyways). For any 'decision' that you may be conscious of, precedes your consciousness-of-that-decision. All bodily actions are totally involuntary. Our consciousness of our bodily actions is always 'after' the action itself, and certainly never 'before' so as to then be considered "consciously caused".

I suspect that the close proximity in time (200+ milliseconds) between the bodily action/reaction/experience, and then the following consciousness-of-the-action, is the cause of the problem. The mind puts the consciousness-of-the-action in front of the action itself, thereby creating the illusionary feeling of "conscious causation" (aka "free-will").

Chewy brian wrote:2-What about subconscious work that occurs to resolve a problem put aside by the conscious mind? I may forget someone's name, and give up trying to remember, only to have the name 'emerge' to me a bit later. I had pushed it out of my conscious mind, yet the subconscious took the ball and solved it for me. My conscious mind wanted to know that name. If it did not, one presumes it would never have come to mind later. So, did I not 'author' the emergence of the idea of the name, through my conscious wish to know it? Like a boss directing work, I am responsible for the thought if I asked or ordered my subconscious to work on it.
Again, this is more begging the question. You are making the pre-assumption that you can consciously do something that ultimately ends up causing something. Your "wish" and "wanting to know" are just conscious 'experiences', that you falsely assume as conscious actions, or "ordering your subconsciousness". Just because you 'experienced' your wishes and wants does not mean that you 'caused' your wishes/wants, that may have ultimately caused the subconscious action.

Chewy brian wrote:3-If my conscious mind can never author a thought, do you the contend that my subconscious or unconscious is capable of anything which appears to be achieved by my conscious mind? Can my unconscious play chess?
Yes. Every time you play chess, you only know of your moves (bodily actions) after you have experienced it. (You certainly can't know before). We have been led to believe that our consciousness does stuff. But this is false. As odd as it sounds, our bodies do as they do, and we become aware (conscious; knowing) of said bodily actions/reactions/experiences shortly thereafter.

Chewy brian wrote:As it occurs to me that I should use the bishop to take your rook, is this emerging from my unconscious?
Yes. And let's take a slow and honest look at this, step by step:

1. You consciously experienced the thought/feeling "I should use my bishop to capture your rook", then...
2. You consciously experienced the urge to move your arm, then...
3. You consciously experienced the movement of your arm, then...
4. You consciously experienced the sliding of your bishop, and the subsequent taking of the rook, then...
5. You consciously experienced the thought "I'm awesome, he's dead meat now", then...
6. Etc etc

Notice that everything you consciously experienced was just an experience (a passive, one-way inward happening). There was never an experience of a non-experience (...an active; out-going causative action). All experiences are just experiences.

Chewy brian wrote:What do you think happens, if anything, at the level of consciousness, other than observation? Does our conscious mind at least choose from alternatives presented to it, or can it only observe?
No, the conscious mind can only observe, as it gets it's 'content' from the reactive body. Without 'something' to be conscious of, then there is 'nothing' to be conscious of; hence no consciousness. The body via bodily reactions/experiences, provides the 'something', i.e. the 'content' of one's consciousness.

There is another OP in this forum, that I presented a year or so ago, called "What is CTD?" which goes into much more detail of the relationship of our conscious realization of the real-time actions. CTD is our "conscious time delay".

Chewy brian wrote:4-How do we know that we do not author and experience thoughts simultaneously? Back to the example of the bicycle ride... As I ride a bicycle, I also have the experience of riding a bicycle. There is no conflict or flaw in logic there for most people. I believe my conscious mind is authoring the ride, and experiencing the ride, and I don't think the riding emerges from my subconscious.
But EVERY micro experience involved in your bike riding experience is just a series of sequential experiences (one-way passive happenings). Consciously 'experiencing' yourself riding a bike, does not mean that you consciously 'caused' yourself to ride the bike. Just as when you consciously experience (see/hear) your neighbor riding his bike, it does not mean that you consciously 'caused' his bike riding. The only real difference between the two experiences is the group of sensory reactions involved. Why do you believe you 'caused' one and not the other, when you only consciously 'experienced' them? Could it be that we were raised (indoctrinated) to believe such?

Chewy brian wrote:Similarly, it is not impossible (for many people) to think that they both author and experience their thoughts.
The question to ask them then is "how do they know they think"? If they answer with "well, I experienced…(this, that, or whatever)" then stop them right there and raise the red flag. Consciously 'experiencing' something does not mean consciously 'causing' that something. One cannot logically experience a non-experience; a out-going action. We can only experience experiences (those effects, that impinge upon us).

Chewy brian wrote:It seems reasonable to say that memories must be accessed, but that novel thoughts can be directed by the conscious mind. So, do you attribute decisions, speaking, physical movements and such to the conscious mind? Don't we experience these things as we work through them, then?
If we experience them then they are just experiences. Again, we can't (nor can the conscious mind) do the impossible. We can't consciously do or cause anything. We can only consciously 'experience' that which we've (non-consciously) done.

Chewy brian wrote:Please, if you will, respond to all four points. I do not make any as an attack on your logic, but rather on the premises upon which you build the logic, mainly the idea that I can not author a thought.
Again, it is not clear to me which premises you are talking about. I presented the logic below. Do you disagree with one of these premises?
  • P1 -- Causation<X -- causation precedes (comes 'before') that which it causes. As in all causal (cause and effect) relationships, cause 'precedes' that which it causes. One cannot cause-X, unless it 'precedes' X.

    P2 -- X>Consciousness -- consciousness follows (comes 'after') that which it is conscious of. One cannot be conscious-of-X, without a pre-existing X to be conscious of.

    Conclusion -- Causation<X>Consciousness -- The conscious causation-of-X is therefore logically (and mathematically) impossible. One term defeats the other. "Conscious causation" is therefore an oxymoron; on par with "square circles" and "married bachelors". The before/after relationship defeats itself.
This means that we are not the 'authors' of our thoughts; we don't "think" (consciously cause/author) our thoughts, we only just (consciously) "experience" our thoughts.

Chewy brian wrote:You, and you alone, seem to be arguing in this thread from a supposed position of certainty.
Yes, ...from a position of 'logical certainty'. And logical truths are not determined by popularity.

Chewy brian wrote:The heavier burden of proof is therefore upon you.
Not necessarily. The logic is very simple and clear. It is valid and sound. Although none of us like its conclusion, it is nonetheless logically true/certain. If there is flaw in this logic, which I claim there is none, then the burden rests upon those claiming the logic is flawed.

Chewy brian wrote:Surely you must see that an attack on the premise requires a refutation of the attack to defend the premise, rather than a return to the logic, which needs no defense.
As I've said before, I have no problem with being proven wrong, but you gotta prove me wrong. Casting insults (not by you, but others) is not a very effective means of proving someone wrong. If there is a flaw in the logic, then let's keep it simple and non-personal, and just point out the flaw. Easy peasy.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 350
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by chewybrian » December 12th, 2018, 9:03 pm

RJG wrote:
December 12th, 2018, 4:31 pm
Again, it is not clear to me which premises you are talking about. I presented the logic below. Do you disagree with one of these premises?
  • P1 -- Causation<X -- causation precedes (comes 'before') that which it causes. As in all causal (cause and effect) relationships, cause 'precedes' that which it causes. One cannot cause-X, unless it 'precedes' X.

    P2 -- X>Consciousness -- consciousness follows (comes 'after') that which it is conscious of. One cannot be conscious-of-X, without a pre-existing X to be conscious of.

    Conclusion -- Causation<X>Consciousness -- The conscious causation-of-X is therefore logically (and mathematically) impossible. One term defeats the other. "Conscious causation" is therefore an oxymoron; on par with "square circles" and "married bachelors". The before/after relationship defeats itself.
This means that we are not the 'authors' of our thoughts; we don't "think" (consciously cause/author) our thoughts, we only just (consciously) "experience" our thoughts.
Chewy brian wrote:Surely you must see that an attack on the premise requires a refutation of the attack to defend the premise, rather than a return to the logic, which needs no defense.
As I've said before, I have no problem with being proven wrong, but you gotta prove me wrong. Casting insults (not by you, but others) is not a very effective means of proving someone wrong. If there is a flaw in the logic, then let's keep it simple and non-personal, and just point out the flaw. Easy peasy.
First, thank you for taking the time to reply to my points. I see we are still talking through or past each other a bit, or at least have very different perspectives. Without trying to judge your motives, etc., I will simply put out the theory that you perhaps accept our current level of understanding in science as indisputable truth, whereas I see it as a best guess or working theory. Science seems, to me, to be a journey rather than a destination. At many points in history one could have accepted the understanding ready for us at that moment, and much of it would turn out to have been flawed (viewed through our present understanding).
Science is a social phenomenon: what is accepted as a good explanation or proof
has changed considerably through the last three centuries. In the same way, what
people call “understanding” changes quickly. Think about molecular biology in its first
fifty years or so: identifying a gene as responsible for a disease or a phenotype was
a perfectly acceptable “understanding”. Today, we know that genes are not binary
switches and are usually part of complicated networks of chemical reactions: the
type of required understanding is changing.
http://cbcl.mit.edu/publications/ps/MIT ... 12-014.pdf

In this case of the nature of consciousness, I think it is fair to say that we don't understand it very well, so there is even less reason to run with what little we know as if it were written in stone.

I have no issue with your logic. The issue is with the premises, as in:

1-Every brown dog can play golf
2-My dog is brown
3-My dog can play golf

As for the premises...
Causation<X -- causation precedes (comes 'before') that which it causes. As in all causal (cause and effect) relationships, cause 'precedes' that which it causes. One cannot cause-X, unless it 'precedes' X.
Causation in terms of consciousness is slippery. Is my consciousness something physical, and therefore bound by such 'laws'? Can you define its physical properties, as you could with a stone, a radio wave, the sun, a television set, the earth's atmosphere...? If my consciousness can not be nailed down in terms of measurements like mass, temperature, location, decibels, or *anything* similar, then it is not unfair for me to theorize that it is in fact not physical. Its behavior, which (when it causes actions without a prior cause) seems to defy the laws of physics, is further possible evidence that it may not be physical. So, that is one objection.

Putting that aside, the process of thought creation is still up for grabs. If my higher level consciousness decides on a task, and "assigns" it to a lower level of consciousness, then when the end result "emerges", it is a result of the initial input of the conscious mind. Think of the consciousness as the CEO of a corporation, and the lower levels as various managers and lower level employees. If the CEO says: "Write me a report about the nature of consciousness", and then later receives the report, he will be responsible for initiating the process, and will experience the results. The CEO could experience the details of the report as something new and unexpected to him, and he will decide what action is warranted as a result of the report's implications. The CEO both caused and experienced (new to him) the report, and so we may also both cause and experience thoughts by delegating their creation or fine tuning to lower levels, and then experiencing them when they are ready.

I submit that this clumsy tortured idea of the CEO is a fair representation of the way consciousness works. Our mind moves ideas up and down through the levels of consciousness based on their level of urgency or interest. As I said above, we can take over many lower functions, like balance or breathing as needed or desired, just as the CEO can run the cash register if he wishes.

You must admit that our consciousness, unlike our other faculties, is reflexive. I can't smell my smelling, or hear my hearing, or see my seeing. But, I can think about the way I think. And I can decide that I wish to think a different way in the future, and my future thoughts may be quite different as a result (this is why I keep bringing up anger management or twelve step programs, for example). My actions today can bring forth new thoughts for me to experience in the future that would not otherwise have come forth. I will both cause and experience them.
X>Consciousness -- consciousness follows (comes 'after') that which it is conscious of. One cannot be conscious-of-X, without a pre-existing X to be conscious of.
Certainly lots of folks will take issue with this, including myself. My opinion of a situation may come after my awareness of the situation, but the opinion does not simply emerge for me to witness, but is rather formed by me. It is my opinion, which I understand as I create and reform it, just as I experience my creation of a clay ashtray as I form it. The ashtray doesn't appear for me to experience, and neither does the opinion, in the opinion of many people. "Conscious of..." often substitutes for "aware of...", but consciousness is more than awareness. It is awareness combined with reactions, judgments and willful acts. All but the awareness are arguably formed as they are experienced, like the bike ride or the ashtray.
Conclusion -- Causation<X>Consciousness -- The conscious causation-of-X is therefore logically (and mathematically) impossible. One term defeats the other. "Conscious causation" is therefore an oxymoron; on par with "square circles" and "married bachelors". The before/after relationship defeats itself.
This means that we are not the 'authors' of our thoughts; we don't "think" (consciously cause/author) our thoughts, we only just (consciously) "experience" our thoughts.
It seems like a big "if", but if this is true, does it mean anything important to us and our perception that we are in control? Again, I would say that our consciousness is comprised of many layers working together as a team. I think this is hard to deny, as many functions carry on without much, if any, input from the highest level of consciousness. What difference does it make if the thought emerges from the highest level or a lower one, if the effect is the same, and if all the levels are still part of "me"? And, doesn't this whole line of thought beg the question of what causes the unconscious thought of which we 'become aware'?

I assume this a part of a model of determinism, and this process helps you believe in a fully determined world. But, I don't want to attribute motives to you. You seem to be saying: "tough luck if you don't like it, but this is what it is." However, I think a real scientific slant on this would be to admit that we don't have the answer yet, and treat your conclusion as conjecture rather than fact. I admit the possibility that your description of these processes may be correct, while holding a different view as my opinion or best guess on a difficult subject. You must agree that logic is just a subset of philosophy, or thinking in general, and it is only as sound as the premises with which it begins. You are on shaky ground because we can not even define the nature of the subject at hand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU2y6ztlMAQ

It is both the only subject capable of understanding itself and the least understood of the subjects within our reach. The stoics said it is a bit of God dwelling within each of us. While this label may not sit well with you, it is as apt a description as any, and perhaps the best, in the sense that it is beyond our understanding, and God represents such things. I choose to leave consciousness in this category for now, only in the sense that a full understanding of it is not yet within our grasp. I can't see a benefit in rushing to any judgment about it, least of all the one you are choosing.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1240
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » December 12th, 2018, 11:17 pm

chewybrian wrote:I will simply put out the theory that you perhaps accept our current level of understanding in science as indisputable truth, whereas I see it as a best guess or working theory.
Not at all. You have me pegged wrongly. Although I have respect for science, science is based on experiential (subjective) evidence, and should never be trusted to yield objective truths ("true knowledge").

chewybrian wrote:Science seems, to me, to be a journey rather than a destination. At many points in history one could have accepted the understanding ready for us at that moment, and much of it would turn out to have been flawed (viewed through our present understanding).
You and I are on the same page here. The (a posteriori; subjective) truths of Science constantly evolve and change. The truths of Science are therefore fallible. Whereas the (a priori; objective) truths of Logic/Math are constant; never changing. The truths of Logic/Math are therefore non-fallible.

I have said many times - "Logic always trumps Science". Science can never defeat logic. If something is logically impossible, then all the science in the world cannot make the impossible, suddenly possible.

chewybrian wrote:In this case of the nature of consciousness, I think it is fair to say that we don't understand it very well, so there is even less reason to run with what little we know as if it were written in stone.
Agreed. And that is why I am always careful to equate consciousness as "knowing" when making my arguments. For example when saying "consciously experiencing", I typically interject "knowingly" in parenthesis as in "consciously (knowingly) experiencing", so as to make clear my meaning.

chewybrian wrote:I have no issue with your logic. The issue is with the premises, as in:

1-Every brown dog can play golf
2-My dog is brown
3-My dog can play golf
Well of course, if the premises are not true, then the argument (syllogism) is not 'sound'. The above is (mathematically) 'valid' but certainly not 'sound' as premise 1 is not true.

RJG wrote:P1. Causation<X -- causation precedes (comes 'before') that which it causes. As in all causal (cause and effect) relationships, cause 'precedes' that which it causes. One cannot cause-X, unless it 'precedes' X.
chewybrian wrote:Causation in terms of consciousness is slippery. Is my consciousness something physical, and therefore bound by such 'laws'? Can you define…
Chewy, this premise has NOTHING to do with "consciousness". The purpose of this premise is to establish the chronological relationship of 'causation' to that which is caused [X]. The causation-of-X ALWAYS 'precedes' the X.

Do you agree that this premise is true? ...or are you trying to say that it is false?

chewybrian wrote:If my higher level consciousness decides on a task, and "assigns" it to a lower level of consciousness, then when the end result "emerges", it is a result of the initial input of the conscious mind.
But all this hinges on the higher level consciousness ability to "consciously decide" (i.e. consciously cause), ...right?

chewybrian wrote:I can't smell my smelling, or hear my hearing, or see my seeing. But, I can think about the way I think.
Close. You can only experience the smells, and never the smelling itself. You can only experience the sounds, and never the hearing itself. You can only experience the sights, and never the seeing itself. And likewise, you can only experience the thoughts, and never the thinking itself.

chewybrian wrote:And I can decide that I wish to think a different way in the future…
Not so. You can only consciously experience the decision, and never the deciding itself.

chewybrian wrote:...and my future thoughts may be quite different as a result (this is why I keep bringing up anger management or twelve step programs, for example).
Yes, your future experience of thoughts are the result of present experiences. Unfortunately you have no say-so in the thoughts that you experience. (They have already been scripted!) You only get to experience them, not consciously create/script/"think" them.

But hopefully you are surrounded by good, positive non-conscious influences that result in good, positive thoughts to be experienced. Note: it is not the knowing of the influences that matter, it is the influences themselves that matter. Everything that we are conscious of has 'already' happened.

chewybrian wrote:My actions today can bring forth new thoughts for me to experience in the future that would not otherwise have come forth.
Agreed.

chewybrian wrote:I will both cause and experience them.
Not so. Every thought that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted, ...right? (...every sound that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted, ...right? ...every smell that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted? ...right? ...every sight that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted, ...right?)

Brian, this is a very critical/important concept to try to grasp. Once the realization sets in that our conscious thoughts are ALREADY scripted for us, then the impossibility of consciously scripting/causing one's own thoughts becomes more obvious.

RJG wrote:P2. X>Consciousness -- consciousness follows (comes 'after') that which it is conscious of. One cannot be conscious-of-X, without a pre-existing X to be conscious of.
chewybrian wrote:Certainly lots of folks will take issue with this, including myself. My opinion of a situation may come after my awareness of the situation, but the opinion does not simply emerge for me to witness, but is rather formed by me. It is my opinion, which I understand as I create and reform it, just as I experience my creation of a clay ashtray as I form it. The ashtray doesn't appear for me to experience, and neither does the opinion, in the opinion of many people. "Conscious of..." often substitutes for "aware of...", but consciousness is more than awareness. It is awareness combined with reactions, judgments and willful acts.
Does the process of awareness consume time? How about the reactions, judgements, and willful acts, do these consume time? Or does all this "conscious" activity happen "instantaneously" (in zero time)? And as a side comment, even if were possible to process a conscious event in zero time, it still would not be good enough. If we wish to consciously 'cause' something, then one must be conscious-of-X prior to one being conscious of X. (which of course is a non-sensical logical impossibility)

If one is conscious of their experiences, doesn't this mean that the experience is the trigger (happens 'before') all the conscious activity associated to this experience?

And if the consciousness-of-X (experience) happens after the X (experience), then doesn't this then make this premise true?

RJG wrote:Conclusion -- Causation<X>Consciousness -- The conscious causation-of-X is therefore logically (and mathematically) impossible. One term defeats the other. "Conscious causation" is therefore an oxymoron; on par with "square circles" and "married bachelors". The before/after relationship defeats itself.

This means that we are not the 'authors' of our thoughts; we don't "think" (consciously cause/author) our thoughts, we only just (consciously) "experience" our thoughts.
chewybrian wrote:It seems like a big "if", but if this is true, does it mean anything important to us and our perception that we are in control?
Firstly there is no "if" with this conclusion. The conclusion is a mathematical certainty (is mathematically 'valid'). And if the premises are true, then the conclusion is also 'sound'.

Secondly, if I understand your question/comment correctly, then I can't disagree with you. If one can't comprehend and accept the results of logic, then it doesn't change one's false illusion (perception) of their own conscious control ("free-will").

chewybrian wrote:It is both the only subject capable of understanding itself and the least understood of the subjects within our reach. The stoics said it is a bit of God dwelling within each of us. While this label may not sit well with you, it is as apt a description as any, and perhaps the best, in the sense that it is beyond our understanding, and God represents such things. I choose to leave consciousness in this category for now, only in the sense that a full understanding of it is not yet within our grasp. I can't see a benefit in rushing to any judgment about it, least of all the one you are choosing.
You seem to be implying that there may be some 'missing' information out there that could invalidate the logic that I've posited. If so, then this is just an "appeal-to-ignorance" (i.e. fallacious reasoning).

The 'not-knowing' (ignorance) does not invalidate that which is 'known'. -- the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. -- If it is logically impossible - to come 'before' that which you come 'after', then no amount of "missing" information could EVER invalidate this simple truth.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 350
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by chewybrian » December 13th, 2018, 6:43 am

RJG wrote:P1. Causation<X -- causation precedes (comes 'before') that which it causes. As in all causal (cause and effect) relationships, cause 'precedes' that which it causes. One cannot cause-X, unless it 'precedes' X.
chewybrian wrote:Causation in terms of consciousness is slippery. Is my consciousness something physical, and therefore bound by such 'laws'? Can you define…
Chewy, this premise has NOTHING to do with "consciousness". The purpose of this premise is to establish the chronological relationship of 'causation' to that which is caused [X]. The causation-of-X ALWAYS 'precedes' the X.

Do you agree that this premise is true? ...or are you trying to say that it is false?
I am agreeing with you that this premise has nothing to do with consciousness, but in my case, I am saying this is so because consciousness may not be a physical thing. If not, then none of the laws, like this one, which seem undeniably true for physical things, need apply to consciousness. I believe that I make decisions (as most people do). This means I often break the chain of causation and start a new chain where the only cause is my new decision. Though my consciousness emerges from prior causes, it grows into something which transcends these causes and gains the capacity to overcome or override them. I decide what to have for breakfast; just me. I can abdicate this responsibility and allow circumstances to take charge, but this abdication is in itself a choice, so there you go. Such a simple belief as this knocks out the possibility of building your castle of logic upon a premise which supposes to understand how consciousness works, or to write 'laws' about its functions.

I noticed that you made no effort to answer my call to describe the physical nature of consciousness. I don't think you could, and if not, then it might be a new and unknown type of matter, energy, or some new category, or... it might not be physical at all.
chewybrian wrote:
...and my future thoughts may be quite different as a result (this is why I keep bringing up anger management or twelve step programs, for example).
Yes, your future experience of thoughts are the result of present experiences. Unfortunately you have no say-so in the thoughts that you experience. (They have already been scripted!) You only get to experience them, not consciously create/script/"think" them.

But hopefully you are surrounded by good, positive non-conscious influences that result in good, positive thoughts to be experienced. Note: it is not the knowing of the influences that matter, it is the influences themselves that matter. Everything that we are conscious of has 'already' happened.
No. You can be surrounded by the best people, with all the resources in the world at your disposal, yet still spiral into depression, drugs, whatever. All the 'intervention' in the world can not save you unless and until you assent. On the flip side, you can come from the worst circumstances and overcome through your own choice not to let it pull you down.

Your perception or outlook on life greatly influences your experiences. Different people can experience the same thing very differently. And, the same person can have very different experiences in effectively the same circumstances by changing their outlook. I've done this, so I known it can be done. When someone assents to the process of anger management, or narcotics anonymous, or stoic philosophy (it's all pretty much the same thing), then the thoughts that are 'scripted' into their head going forward will be very different. Their conscious choice to change results in a new script. Similarly, I can not communicate directly with you right now, but must move my thoughts through the keyboard, the computer, some server somewhere, etc, until you get them. But, I still communicate my thoughts to you, so what is the difference?
chewybrian wrote:
My actions today can bring forth new thoughts for me to experience in the future that would not otherwise have come forth.
Agreed.

chewybrian wrote:
I will both cause and experience them.
Not so. Every thought that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted, ...right?
You've missed my point. If I start the ball rolling, and a thought later 'emerges' as a result, then I was the cause. In a sense, I ask or direct my subconscious to work on something, and then receive the results. As such results were arrived at outside my consciousness, it may come to me as something new. Yet, I caused it to come to me. You've already consented that my conscious choices can change the nature of the output from my subconscious. Well, at that point, I 'own' it. They are not 'scripted' outside my conscious control by some boogieman of the unconscious who is independent of me. It's all me. I can direct the scripting. I can also choose not to direct it, yet again this is still a choice.
chewybrian wrote:
It is both the only subject capable of understanding itself and the least understood of the subjects within our reach. The stoics said it is a bit of God dwelling within each of us. While this label may not sit well with you, it is as apt a description as any, and perhaps the best, in the sense that it is beyond our understanding, and God represents such things. I choose to leave consciousness in this category for now, only in the sense that a full understanding of it is not yet within our grasp. I can't see a benefit in rushing to any judgment about it, least of all the one you are choosing.

You seem to be implying that there may be some 'missing' information out there that could invalidate the logic that I've posited. If so, then this is just an "appeal-to-ignorance" (i.e. fallacious reasoning).
But, I'm not trying to apply logic at all. Instead, I am only trying to show that this subject is not yet ready for logic, because we don't know enough about it to put forth a premise upon which we can build. We can take our opinions, and run as far as we want to go with them, as long as we realize that such logic doesn't prove anything without a sound premise as a take off point.

The real world is messy and unknown. All knowledge is subjective, even though we may consent to agree on some things and call them objective. Logic is a nice place to visit, where everything makes perfect sense. You enter this world through the door of a premise to which you assent. For the logic to have any serious meaning, you must have broad agreement on the premise. In this case, the great majority of the people in the world disagree with your premise. No matter how much sense it makes to you, the logic is built upon the swamp of your shaky premise, and as such won't sway me, or most other people, as this thread has shown.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1240
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » December 13th, 2018, 9:44 am

RJG wrote:P1. Causation<X -- causation precedes (comes 'before') that which it causes. As in all causal (cause and effect) relationships, cause 'precedes' that which it causes. One cannot cause-X, unless it 'precedes' X.

Do you agree that this premise is true? ...or are you trying to say that it is false?
chewybrian wrote:I am agreeing with you that this premise has nothing to do with consciousness, but in my case, I am saying this is so because consciousness may not be a physical thing. If not, then none of the laws, like this one, which seem undeniably true for physical things, need apply to consciousness. I believe that I make decisions (as most people do). This means I often break the chain of causation and start a new chain where the only cause is my new decision. Though my consciousness emerges from prior causes, it grows into something which transcends these causes and gains the capacity to overcome or override them. I decide what to have for breakfast; just me. I can abdicate this responsibility and allow circumstances to take charge, but this abdication is in itself a choice, so there you go. Such a simple belief as this knocks out the possibility of building your castle of logic upon a premise which supposes to understand how consciousness works, or to write 'laws' about its functions.
Non-sequitur. My premise is apples, your response is oranges.

RJG wrote:Every thought that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted, ...right?
[Missing answer] -- Chewy, is this a YES or NO?

chewybrian wrote:If I start the ball rolling, and a thought later 'emerges' as a result, then I was the cause.
Yes, if you consciously cause the ball rolling, then you can claim to have consciously caused the emerging thought. If one can do the impossible, then one can rightly claim to have done the impossible.

chewybrian wrote:In this case, the great majority of the people in the world disagree with your premise. No matter how much sense it makes to you, the logic is built upon the swamp of your shaky premise, and as such won't sway me, or most other people, as this thread has shown.
The great majority of people disagree with, or deny, my conclusion, not the premise. I think most people understand and agree that - cause precedes effect.


********** The logical proof of the impossibility of "conscious causation" ***********

P1 -- Causation<X -- causation precedes (comes 'before') that which it causes. As in all causal (cause and effect) relationships, cause 'precedes' that which it causes. One cannot cause-X, unless it 'precedes' X.

P2 -- X>Consciousness -- consciousness follows (comes 'after') that which it is conscious of. One cannot be conscious-of-X, without a pre-existing X to be conscious of.

Conclusion -- Causation<X>Consciousness -- The conscious causation-of-X is therefore logically (and mathematically) impossible. One term defeats the other. "Conscious causation" is therefore an oxymoron; on par with "square circles" and "married bachelors". The before/after relationship defeats itself.


***************************

Conscious causation; free-will, creating one's own thoughts, mental causation, conscious control --- are all defeated with this simple logical proof. The psychological acceptance of this logical truth is a whole 'nother matter.

Getting back on topic --

Therefore Descartes error was in assuming that he could "think" his thoughts, when in actuality, he could only just 'experience' his thoughts. Descartes is not a "res cognitans" (a "thinking thing") as he falsely claimed, but merely only just an 'experiential' thing. This error led to Descartes false dualistic conclusion (mind and body).

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3601
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Fooloso4 » December 13th, 2018, 10:04 am

ktz:
I had originally come back in here just now to suggest that OP basically lifted his Descartes critique and premise on agency, or lack thereof, from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil without giving any credit …
Thank you for drawing attention to Nietzsche.
… if anyone's interested I'll start quoting BGE:17
I am interested. I decided to post it because I struggled to understand what he was saying until I referred back to an earlier section. Here it is:
With regard to the superstitions of logicians, I shall never tire of emphasizing a small, terse fact, which is unwillingly recognized by these credulous minds—namely, that a thought comes when "it" wishes, and not when "I" wish; so that it is a PERVERSION of the facts of the case to say that the subject "I" is the condition of the predicate "think." ONE thinks; but that this "one" is precisely the famous old "ego," is, to put it mildly, only a supposition, an assertion, and assuredly not an "immediate certainty." After all, one has even gone too far with this "one thinks"—even the "one" contains an INTERPRETATION of the process, and does not belong to the process itself. One infers here according to the usual grammatical formula—"To think is an activity; every activity requires an agency that is active; consequently"... It was pretty much on the same lines that the older atomism sought, besides the operating "power," the material particle wherein it resides and out of which it operates—the atom. More rigorous minds, however, learnt at last to get along without this "earth-residuum," and perhaps some day we shall accustom ourselves, even from the logician's point of view, to get along without the little "one" (to which the worthy old "ego" has refined itself).(BGE 17)
He is not denying that we think: “ONE thinks”. What he rejects is an “interpretation of the process” by which “the ‘one’” “does not belong to the process itself”.

This is easier to understand if we look an earlier section:
Boscovich has taught us to abjure the belief in the last thing that "stood fast" of the earth--the belief in "substance," in "matter," in the earth-residuum, and particle- atom: it is the greatest triumph over the senses that has hitherto been gained on earth. One must, however, go still further, and also declare war, relentless war to the knife, against the "atomistic requirements" which still lead a dangerous after-life in places where no one suspects them, like the more celebrated "metaphysical requirements": one must also above all give the finishing stroke to that other and more portentous atomism which Christianity has taught best and longest, the SOUL- ATOMISM. Let it be permitted to designate by this expression the belief which regards the soul as something indestructible, eternal, indivisible, as a monad, as an atomon: this belief ought to be expelled from science! (BGE, 12)
But if we stop there we will not understand him. He continues:
Between ourselves, it is not at all necessary to get rid of "the soul" thereby, and thus renounce one of the oldest and most venerated hypotheses--as happens frequently to the clumsiness of naturalists, who can hardly touch on the soul without immediately losing it. But the way is open for new acceptations and refinements of the soul-hypothesis; and such conceptions as "mortal soul," and "soul of subjective multiplicity," and "soul as social structure of the instincts and passions," want henceforth to have legitimate rights in science. In that the NEW psychologist is about to put an end to the superstitions which have hitherto flourished with almost tropical luxuriance around the idea of the soul, he is really, as it were, thrusting himself into a new desert and a new distrust--it is possible that the older psychologists had a merrier and more comfortable time of it; eventually, however, he finds that precisely thereby he is also condemned to INVENT--and, who knows? perhaps to DISCOVER the new. (BGE 12)
He is not critical of Descartes “I think” but of the notion of a thinking substance, which Descartes identifies with his immortal soul. The soul is not something we have. In his refinement of the soul-hypothesis Nietzsche posits a “soul of subjective multiplicity”. This solves the problem of the seeming mystery of a thought that comes when it wishes rather than when I wish. It is not that the thought has some kind of independent existence and comes to me from elsewhere, but simply that there is not something within me, an “I” or “ego” or “little ‘one’” that is the agent of my thoughts. This is not a denial of agency, it is a denial of something within me, some substance or soul-atom that is the agent.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 350
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by chewybrian » December 13th, 2018, 10:18 am

RJG wrote:
December 13th, 2018, 9:44 am
RJG wrote:Not so. Every thought that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted, ...right?
[Missing answer] -- Chewy, is this a YES or NO?
This does not suffice?
(me)I believe that I make decisions (as most people do). This means I often break the chain of causation and start a new chain where the only cause is my new decision. Though my consciousness emerges from prior causes, it grows into something which transcends these causes and gains the capacity to overcome or override them.
If that, or every effort I made along the way does not make my answer plain, then, >>>no<<<.
RJG wrote:
December 13th, 2018, 9:44 am
chewybrian wrote:In this case, the great majority of the people in the world disagree with your premise. No matter how much sense it makes to you, the logic is built upon the swamp of your shaky premise, and as such won't sway me, or most other people, as this thread has shown.
The great majority of people disagree with, or deny, my conclusion, not the premise. I think most people understand and agree that - cause precedes effect.
Yes, the vast majority of the vast majority of humans who believe they have a soul which transcends anything material will also assent, as I would, that cause and effect applies to all material things. Many would make the same finding I make, which is that you are attempting to apply such rules where they have no authority, or at least where there is too much doubt to allow anything beyond opinion.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

Eduk
Posts: 2466
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Eduk » December 13th, 2018, 10:34 am

Many would make the same finding I make, which is that you are attempting to apply such rules where they have no authority, or at least where there is too much doubt to allow anything beyond opinion.
Actually RJG is making the same mistake that you are (if you are asserting a non material soul). You are both, from a position of ignorance, making claims which you have no reason to believe.
Unknown means unknown.

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1240
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by RJG » December 13th, 2018, 10:35 am

RJG wrote:
chewybrian wrote:Every thought that you are conscious of has already been caused/scripted, ...right?
Chewy, is this a YES or NO?
chewybrian wrote:This does not suffice?
Does this mean YES or NO? -- Chewy, until you face this question head-on, then you are just closing your eyes to seeing this logical truth.

If your answer is NO, then please tell us which thought you are conscious of that, is not yet a thought (that has not already been scripted). In other words, tell us which thought that you are conscious of, that you are not yet conscious of.

RJG wrote:The great majority of people disagree with, or deny, my conclusion, not the premise. I think most people understand and agree that - cause precedes effect.
chewybrian wrote:Yes, the vast majority of the vast majority of humans who believe they have a soul which transcends anything material will also assent, as I would, that cause and effect applies to all material things. Many would make the same finding I make, which is that you are attempting to apply such rules where they have no authority, or at least where there is too much doubt to allow anything beyond opinion.
If you deny cause and effect, then you have lost any and all hope of conscious control (conscious causation). If our actions and thoughts are not causal, then one certainly can't claim to have 'caused' anything. Your only hope is to root for the existence of causation/determinism (cause and effect), and then hope to find a flaw in the logic I've presented.

Killing (denying) premise P1 only 'hurts' (defeats) your position.

Eduk
Posts: 2466
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Eduk » December 13th, 2018, 10:42 am

If you deny cause and effect, then you have lost any and all hope of conscious control (conscious causation). If our actions and thoughts are not causal, then one certainly can't claim to have 'caused' anything.
An uncaused cause.
Unknown means unknown.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 350
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by chewybrian » December 13th, 2018, 11:00 am

Eduk wrote:
December 13th, 2018, 10:34 am
Many would make the same finding I make, which is that you are attempting to apply such rules where they have no authority, or at least where there is too much doubt to allow anything beyond opinion.
Actually RJG is making the same mistake that you are (if you are asserting a non material soul). You are both, from a position of ignorance, making claims which you have no reason to believe.
I am only claiming two things.

1=I have an opinion.

2=I don't believe there is enough evidence to form more than opinion in this area.

I am 'attacking RJG's sense of certainty, but not inserting my own sense of certainty.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

Eduk
Posts: 2466
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Eduk » December 13th, 2018, 11:10 am

I am 'attacking RJG's sense of certainty, but not inserting my own sense of certainty.
Sorry I possibly have misunderstood you. You seem to be saying that something like cause and effect cannot be applied to something like a soul, due to areas of authority? But now you have to prove that something like a soul deserves this special position which is outside of the authority of evidence. You would need evidence that evidence wasn't authoritative. In my experience evidence is extremely authoritative, I can think of no instances where reality turned out to be wrong.
Unknown means unknown.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 350
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by chewybrian » December 13th, 2018, 11:34 am

Eduk wrote:
December 13th, 2018, 11:10 am
I am 'attacking RJG's sense of certainty, but not inserting my own sense of certainty.
Sorry I possibly have misunderstood you. You seem to be saying that something like cause and effect cannot be applied to something like a soul, due to areas of authority? But now you have to prove that something like a soul deserves this special position which is outside of the authority of evidence. You would need evidence that evidence wasn't authoritative. In my experience evidence is extremely authoritative, I can think of no instances where reality turned out to be wrong.
I don't have to hit the same threshold to claim doubt as to claim certainty. The very actions of your free will that appear to fly in the face of cause and effect are enough to cast doubt in my mind, as they do for so many people. If I can initiate a cause from my free will which is not strictly the result of prior causes, then there you go. If I walk over to the box of donuts and pick one, can you show what forces caused me to pick that one, with any certainty, or is it only your opinion that my action was fully caused, because other events are caused? Can you give me one attribute of my free will which shows it to be a physical thing? What can you tell me about it in meters, colors, newtons, decibels, miles per hour and such?

There is room for doubt, and doubt is all I am trying to show.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

Eduk
Posts: 2466
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Eduk » December 13th, 2018, 11:42 am

I don't have to hit the same threshold to claim doubt as to claim certainty.
I'm sorry but you are claiming a lot. There is a big difference in doubting whether a soul exists and doubting whether a soul doesn't exist. For one you are now forced to define what a soul is.
The very actions of your free will that appear to fly in the face of cause and effect are enough to cast doubt in my mind
As I have said to you many times. I don't think that not knowing something means that you do know something. I don't agree that causality and choice are mutually exclusive. Here in lies the problem really. You and RJG both think you know what a choice is, one of you has decided that it logically impossible and therefore can't exist and the other that it is certain and therefore causation can't exist.
Whereas I don't know what a choice is. Therefore I do not need to believe that it doesn't exist or be in doubt about the infinity of options of which it could be.
Unknown means unknown.

Eduk
Posts: 2466
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: How does one find True Knowledge?

Post by Eduk » December 13th, 2018, 11:44 am

Can you give me one attribute of my free will which shows it to be a physical thing?
Oh sorry I forgot to answer this. It trivial to do. For example if I remove your brain I remove your free will. What is more I can remove or tweak extremely specific parts of the brain in specific ways and have a multitude of effects from removing your ability to feel empathy, to recognising loved ones, to changes of mood and full on changes of character. All extremely physical.
Unknown means unknown.

Post Reply