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Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group Message Board › Dialogue between Derik and Bill (but others are welcome) related to the book

Dialogue between Derik and Bill (but others are welcome) related to the book on the Mind-Body Problem and other matters

Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 147
(Now when I use the word “rule,” I am not implying that the rule came into existence by virtue of the decision of a deity or other entity that that's the way things were going to be. How these rules came into existence I do not presume to know or to have any valuable ideas about. We are used to the idea of things being “made,” and of those things therefore having a “maker,” but this way of thinking is just something that we are used to doing. The fact that things have a tendency always to happen in a certain way does not logically imply necessarily that someone or something has caused that tendency to exist. And even if someone or something, a maker, did indeed make it that way, we would want to know why, and why there was a maker, etc., so we would still be without a final explanation. So I am sticking only to talking about what we actually find that tends predictably to happen under given circumstances, i.e., certain kinds of situations.)

The bolded portion above is a prime example of an assertion of your metaphysical beliefs, beliefs for which no rationale is given and are not addressed later in the book. In other words, you've made a value judgement about what matters, about what is worthwhile to "stick to" and what is not. This belief you have--"sticking only to talking about what we actually find that tends predictably to happen under given circumstances" is better than formulating a belief about very rare or one-time events (e.g., the origin of our universe)--is a metaphysical one, and sits atop a foundation of deeper metaphysics you've not shared with your reader. Indeed, it's possible you yourself may be unaware of it.

There are many, many occasions in your book where you've made similar value judgments, founded on what can only be your own metaphysics about what you value. This is what I was beginning to touch on the last time I joined our discussion group session: ethics must necessarily precede empiricism. One must first believe accuracy and predictability to be "good", or for survival to be "good", or something else to be "good" in order to act at all.

So it may be that the way you've gone about solving of the mind-body problem and the metaphysics underpinning this approach is merely a child of your core ethical belief, the REUEP. And so, in the above quoted paragraph, would it make sense to add something on the end such as follows? "I recognize this is a value judgment by the author to consider accuracy and predictability 'worth sticking to', and I do so on the basis of my ultimate ethical principle, arbitrarily chosen by said author."
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,738
(Now when I use the word “rule,” I am not implying that the rule came into existence by virtue of the decision of a deity or other entity that that's the way things were going to be. How these rules came into existence I do not presume to know or to have any valuable ideas about. We are used to the idea of things being “made,” and of those things therefore having a “maker,” but this way of thinking is just something that we are used to doing. The fact that things have a tendency always to happen in a certain way does not logically imply necessarily that someone or something has caused that tendency to exist. And even if someone or something, a maker, did indeed make it that way, we would want to know why, and why there was a maker, etc., so we would still be without a final explanation. So I am sticking only to talking about what we actually find that tends predictably to happen under given circumstances, i.e., certain kinds of situations.)

The bolded portion above is a prime example of an assertion of your metaphysical beliefs, beliefs for which no rationale is given and are not addressed later in the book.
Please note that I am not asserting any metaphysical belief in the bolded sentence. I am only clarifying for the reader what it is that I am talking about, so that the reader will not assume that I am talking about some additional things. Your assertion that I am asserting a metaphysical belief is simply that, namely, an assertion. What is the evidence that I am not doing what I say I am doing? What is the evidence that when I say I am only talking about X, I am in reality talking about Y?

In other words, you've made a value judgement about what matters, about what is worthwhile to "stick to" and what is not.
See, you are again leaving out the context and implying a different context in which my statement is presumably made. When I say that “I am talking only about X, so please don’t assume that I am also talking about Y,” it is in the context of what I am trying to do at the moment of my talking about X. What I am talking about is only what we generally mean by the term “explanation,” pointing out that there is some lack of clarity in people’s minds about which possible meaning the term “explanation” might have. I am clarifying how I am using the word in this chapter, that is, what I am meaning by the word when I use it.

This belief you have--"sticking only to talking about what we actually find that tends predictably to happen under given circumstances"
What you are quoting is not a belief. It is not a complete sentence, and cannot model a belief. What you quote is only a designation of what it is that I am doing. And what I am doing is something that I am doing only for the purpose of carrying out what I am doing in the whole paragraph, which is part of what I am doing in the chapter, namely, clarifying what we generally mean by “explanation” and “causation,” and stating that that is how I will continue to use those words. Your lifting that sentence fragment out of its context and stating that it is an ethical belief of mine as to how we should do something else, e.g., live our lives, is a distortion of the meaning of what I am writing.

Derik, I don’t know how you are approaching the task of giving me feedback on what I have written, but it seems as if you are not actually trying to understand what I am writing but instead looking for fragments of what I write and making them seem like I am saying something different than what I am actually saying, by making it seem like the fragments are in different contexts than the contexts that they are actually in.

What this chapter is about is the concepts of “causation” and “explanation,” not anything about whether there is a God or not. Do you agree or disagree with my statements about what those concepts generally mean? Do you think they have a different meaning than that which I am describing in this chapter? If so, could you state what you believe is a more correct usual meaning?

This belief you have--"sticking only to talking about what we actually find that tends predictably to happen under given circumstances"is better than formulating a belief about very rare or one-time events (e.g., the origin of our universe)--is a metaphysical one, and sits atop a foundation of deeper metaphysics you've not shared with your reader. Indeed, it's possible you yourself may be unaware of it.
So again, please note that you are changing the subject and talking about something that of course interests you, such as whether I “believe in God,” but that is not what the chapter is about.

There are many, many occasions in your book where you've made similar value judgments,
founded on what can only be your own metaphysics about what you value.
I do not agree with your statement, which is a statement about the book in general. I am asking you to quote the specific sentences that you think are unclear or incorrect in the context in which they are written, and explain why you consider them unclear or incorrect. I do indeed express certain value judgements later in the book, when I am dealing with the implications of the solution to the mind-body problem, and I state the value judgements clearly, but this statement that you are referring to is nothing like that. I am simply stating the relationship between how we use the terms “causation” and “explanation” and the fact that things are predictable, that is, follow certain “rules,” or consistent ways of happening.


This is what I was beginning to touch on the last time I joined our discussion group session: ethics must necessarily precede empiricism. One must first believe accuracy and predictability to be "good", or for survival to be "good", or something else to be "good" in order to act at all.
And I don’t agree. We don’t have to call something good in order to want to do it and therefore do it. Wanting to do it doesn’t mean believing it is the right thing to do. But that is another subject. It has nothing to do with what this chapter is about. I didn’t say that I believed that sticking to a certain meaning of the two terms in question was the right way to live life. I only am saying that this is what we generally mean by these two terms, and that I am being consistent in using them that way.

So it may be that the way you've gone about solving of the mind-body problem and the metaphysics underpinning this approach is merely a child of your core ethical belief, the REUEP.
Why not raise this speculation if you actually see what you consider to be an example of it?

And so, in the above quoted paragraph, would it make sense to add something on the end such as follows? "I recognize this is a value judgment by the author to consider accuracy and predictability 'worth sticking to', and I do so on the basis of my ultimate ethical principle, arbitrarily chosen by said author."
Because that is not at all what I am saying in this paragraph or chapter. Please try to understand what I am actually saying, rather than speculating on something you think I am probably saying beneath the surface. What is the actual sentence (complete sentence) that you think is unclear or incorrect in the context in which it is written, and why do you think that?
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 148
I also would like to clarify why I consider this problem, or set of problems, probably regarded by many as rather obscure and therefore unimportant, to be the most important philosophical problem that our species faces. This is because of my belief that it is extremely important, and increasingly so, that our species be able to come to agreement about certain basic things, and that what those basic beliefs are be as accurate as possible. Our species has become more and more able to do extremely influential things, and so while we have been able to do increasingly useful and wonderful things, potentially ultimately beneficial to us all, we have simultaneously become able to make extremely influential, and even tragic, mistakes, that will impact the whole future of our development as a species on this planet. Inaccuracy of our beliefs leads to the making of mistakes, and inability to agree tends to promote paralysis of decision-making.

We have to have a way of coming to agreement, and a way to optimize the chances of that which we are agreeing to being accurate. That would mean, I believe, that we should develop a relatively easily understood and agreed-upon lexicon for understanding and communicating about our most basic, fundamental ways of viewing everything. I do know that the vast majority of people will immediately say that what I am trying to accomplish is impossible, and therefore many people will simply not have any interest in pursuing the effort. I am hoping, however, that (1) I am correct, and (2) that there will be a few people who will make the effort to understand what I am offering, and will then advocate to others that such effort be undertaken.

The bolded sentence of the above excerpt from page 3 is the first sentence I encounter in your book that is, in my view, unclear or incorrect in the context in which it appears. More specifically, it is unclear because I do not understand what you mean by "important". Once defined, it is also necessary to understand how you determine whether this or that is "important".
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,740
Okay, the remainder of that same paragraph is the answer to your first question, i.e., what I mean by "important."

To elaborate and clarify, I wish for our species not to have enormous amounts of preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death. I believe the majority of people have this same wish, or would have that wish if they thought that it was possible). By important, I mean relevant to the effort to avoid that preventable tragic PSDED, i.e., relevant to how to do so, and therefore important to all who have that wish to do so or would have the wish to do so if they thought it was possible.

Do you have the same wish that I do? Do you think it is true that the majority of people have that same wish (assuming they have a belief that it is possible), or would have that same wish if they thought it was possible?

Do you have a different wish that conflicts with that wish? Do you consider something more important than doing something about that enormous amount of preventable tragic PSDED? If so, does it conflict with efforts to prevent that preventable tragic PSDED?

Thanks, Derik!
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 149
The first sentence in the quoted paragraph purported to explain why you believed the mind-body problem was the most important philosophical problem. I'm not sure you ever got around to doing that, but I'm guessing from the rest of that paragraph, and from your last response, that:

1). The term "important", as it is used generally in the book, means fulfilling (or making progress toward fulfilling) one or more of your (Bill's) motivational states
2). An "important outcome" for the purposes of this book is an outcome that fulfills (or makes progress toward fulfilling) one or more of your (Bill's) motivational states (e.g. "I want to attend the discussion group, and I did attend the discussion group")
3). An "important philosophical problem" for the purposes of this book is a phiosophical problem that, if solved, would result in an important outcome
4). The "most important outcome" for the purposes of this book is the outcome that fulfills (or makes progress toward fulfilling) your (Bill's) strongest motivational state, that which you (Bill) desires most (e.g., Homo Rationalis)
5). And finally, the "most important philosophical problem" for the purposes of this book is the philosophical problem that, if solved, would result in the most important outcome

Do I have this right?
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,741
Derik,

I will answer all your questions. But will you first answer mine?
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 150
Derik,

I will answer all your questions. But will you first answer mine?

I'm trying to clarify your answer, Bill. I don't yet understand it, and my last post was my best guess at what you might have meant.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,742
I will answer all your questions, but are you willing first to answer mine, which are in response to what you wrote?

I will repeat:

To elaborate and clarify, I wish for our species not to have enormous amounts of preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death. I believe the majority of people have this same wish, or would have that wish if they thought that it was possible). By important, I mean relevant to the effort to avoid that preventable tragic PSDED, i.e., relevant to how to do so, and therefore important to all who have that wish to do so or would have the wish to do so if they thought it was possible.

Do you have the same wish that I do? Do you think it is true that the majority of people have that same wish (assuming they have a belief that it is possible), or would have that same wish if they thought it was possible?

Do you have a different wish that conflicts with that wish? Do you consider something more important than doing something about that enormous amount of preventable tragic PSDED? If so, does it conflict with efforts to prevent that preventable tragic PSDED?

Please answer my questions, and then I will answer yours. You do agree, I assume, that we are sharing and comparing our ideas, right?
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 151
Why repeat something I said I didn't understand?

You asked me to come to the first sentence I deemed unclear or incorrect in the context written, and I called attention to the word "important" on page 3 of the book. After your attempted clarification, I still am unclear on the linkage between some wish you have and importance, and the linkage of all that with the mind-body problem. Why proceed if this is still unclear?
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,743
Derik,

You refused to answer my questions after I had answered yours, instead asking me more questions that seem to imply that you have ignored my answers. I don’t understand what your goal is. But I will go ahead and answer your new questions.

The first sentence in the quoted paragraph purported to explain why you believed the mind-body problem was the most important philosophical problem.
No. The first sentence said that what was to follow was why I believed it. Furthermore, this passage is from the Preface of the book that gives only a beginning idea as to what the book is about and why I consider it to be important. To fully understand will necessitate reading the book. At the very beginning of the book I can’t impart the full understanding of what the book is about; otherwise a sentence or paragraph would do instead of the book. After this post I will post the Preface, so anyone reading our dialogue will be able to understand what it is that we are talking about.

I'm not sure you ever got around to doing that, but I'm guessing from the rest of that paragraph, and from your last response, that:

1). The term "important", as it is used generally in the book, means fulfilling (or making progress toward fulfilling) one or more of your (Bill's) motivational states
No. This is a strange distortion (that gives me the impression of being demeaning) of what I have written. It should be clear to the reader that I am talking about something being important to our species, not just me. I am writing, I think obviously, about something that I believe is important to “everyone,” whether they are aware of it or not, though if they fully understand, they will probably agree with me, and that reading the book will probably enable them to understand. (Of course “everyone,” should not be taken literally, as I believe most readers would assume.) But what I am puzzled about is why you seem to be trying to portray me as being interested only in some personal pleasure rather than as trying to be of help to others.

2). An "important outcome" for the purposes of this book is an outcome that fulfills (or makes progress toward fulfilling) one or more of your (Bill's) motivational states (e.g. "I want to attend the discussion group, and I did attend the discussion group")
I just don’t understand what you are trying to do. You seem to be trying to portray me as not really being concerned about making a contribution to the welfare of our species. You seem to be subtracting out any reference to my concern for our species. Why is this? Surely I do not convey that impression in what I have written.

3). An "important philosophical problem" for the purposes of this book is a phiosophical problem that, if solved, would result in an important outcome
It would contribute to the effort to achieve that important outcome. It would increase the likelihood of that important outcome occurring (but not guarantee it).

4). The "most important outcome" for the purposes of this book is the outcome that fulfills (or makes progress toward fulfilling) your (Bill's) strongest motivational state, that which you (Bill) desires most (e.g., Homo Rationalis)
No. I am trying to make a contribution to our species by doing something important for our species. Your only reference to this fact is your “(e.g., Homo Rationalis),” not only making reference to my goal in such a way as to make it minimally understandable to a reader of this dialogue, but also referring to it only as an example (“e.g.”). Why are you trying to obscure, as much as possible, my effort to be of help to others, instead implying that I am concerned only about myself? I am trying, in my own way, to participate, along with others, in preventing much needless, human-induced pain, suffering, disability, and early death, by solving a problem that underlies the inability of our species to do that which is necessary for our species to prevent that PSDED, namely, an inability to come to agreement about a basic set of existential beliefs that are indeed accurate, in addition to accepting an ultimate ethical principle that I believe almost everyone could adopt and would adopt if there were not such a strong tendency to avoid agreement.

5). And finally, the "most important philosophical problem" for the purposes of this book is the philosophical problem that, if solved, would result in the most important outcome

Do I have this right?
No. It would help in promoting that outcome. But it is only one small effort in that total effort that is being made by many of us who are working in behalf of our species. There are many ways in which people can work toward that outcome, namely, a vastly better way of living our lives on this planet, a way that we have never accomplished so far. But there is no guarantee that we will achieve that improved way of living.

Now, to help the reader of this post, here is the passage that you quoted:
I also would like to clarify why I consider this problem, or set of problems, probably regarded by many as rather obscure and therefore unimportant, to be the most important philosophical problem that our species faces. This is because of my belief that it is extremely important, and increasingly so, that our species be able to come to agreement about certain basic things, and that what those basic beliefs are be as accurate as possible. Our species has become more and more able to do extremely influential things, and so while we have been able to do increasingly useful and wonderful things, potentially ultimately beneficial to us all, we have simultaneously become able to make extremely influential, and even tragic, mistakes, that will impact the whole future of our development as a species on this planet. Inaccuracy of our beliefs leads to the making of mistakes, and inability to agree tends to promote paralysis of decision-making.

We have to have a way of coming to agreement, and a way to optimize the chances of that which we are agreeing to being accurate. That would mean, I believe, that we should develop a relatively easily understood and agreed-upon lexicon for understanding and communicating about our most basic, fundamental ways of viewing everything. I do know that the vast majority of people will immediately say that what I am trying to accomplish is impossible, and therefore many people will simply not have any interest in pursuing the effort. I am hoping, however, that (1) I am correct, and (2) that there will be a few people who will make the effort to understand what I am offering, and will then advocate to others that such effort be undertaken.
It is my opinion that the vast majority of people reading this would have no difficulty understanding it and certainly would not have arrived at the distorted meanings you have attributed to my words.

Let us also note that the effect of your doing this, and of refraining from answering my questions to clarify any of our differences of opinion that might be making it difficult for you to understand what I have written is to cease talking about the ideas in the book and instead engage in getting deeper and deeper into a futile maze of strange dialogue. I would really like to discuss the ideas that are presented in the book.
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