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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

Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,744
PREFACE


I wish to clarify something important about how this book is written.

It is customary, I know, for presentations about issues such as the one this book is about to refer plentifully to "sources," so that the reader can explore further the specific issues being discussed. However, I have not done that in this book, for two main reasons.

First, the concepts being referred to in this book have been written about by many, many people, and there is no way to refer to one, or a few, of these people who would stand out as being unusually important.

Second, it is my belief that the very existence of this problem (the "mind-body problem"), and its related problems, is due to a great extent to linguistic confusion, produced by the inherent ambiguity of language. Therefore, in this book I have attempted to develop a specific, highly consistent lexicon, the purpose of which is to obtain as great clarity as possible in communication and understanding. As soon as I would refer to some other individual's work, I would have to be taking into account how that individual was using his or her words in what he or she was presenting. This would immediately make this extremely difficult task dramatically more complex and difficult.

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.

Lest it be thought otherwise, I wish to assure the reader that I am fully aware of the possibility of a person being absolutely convinced that he or she has arrived at some "truth" that seems obvious and "undeniable," only to be shown later (if willing to be shown) that there are fundamental flaws in his or her way of thinking. I wish to assure the reader that I do not have the kind of feeling of certainty and confidence that I was just referring to. So I will be among those who will be interested in whether or not what I have presented here stands the test of conscientious scrutiny by others. I truly hope that it will, because I currently maintain the tentative belief that I am making a significant contribution.

I do wish, also, that the reader will read what I have written conscientiously, with an effort to understand everything that is written within the context in which it is written. I am well aware that it is possible for someone who is reading something to have a strong wish to demonstrate that there are flaws, and therefore to be prone to read superficially and thereby allow the words and sentences being read to mean something different than what they are actually meaning in the context in which they are written. Most of the words that I use in this book can have more than one meaning, and if a meaning other than what I am using is assigned to my words, I can be made to appear to be saying things that I am not saying and would not say. I have already had this experience in other things that I have written. The reader should indeed look for flaws in what he or she is reading, but the flaws should be with regard to the actual meanings of what is being written, rather than substituted meanings produced by using the words differently.

I do hope that I am making a contribution, but I fully acknowledge that I could be mistaken. Only time will tell, so to speak, and, of course, I may never know. Nevertheless, what follows is the result of many, many hours of work that has been not only quite difficult but also quite solitary, since it has not been possible to have any kind of prolonged, in-depth, meaningful conversation about these issues. If you, the reader, fully understand what I am trying to convey in this book, I believe you will understand what I have just said. This remains to be seen.

Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 152

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 asked you only one question, "Do I have this right?", to see if I understood your answer correctly.


...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.

Where did I say or even allude that you were seeking "personal pleasure"? I thought you'd be pleased that I had applied my knowledge gained from your last book on Homo Rationalis and used your own term "motivational state". From page 44 of that book (btw, you may want to check the "Files" list on this site as the file labelled as your first book is just another copy of the Mind-Body book):


The new term is “motivational state.”

We know that animals have a tendency to behave, to do things. This tendency may vary from time to time anywhere from an apparent lack of such tendency to a very strong tendency. For instance, we can place a harness around a rat and attach it to a string that is also attached to a scale, such that we can measure the amount of force with which the rat is pulling to try to get somewhere. In some experiments it can be shown that the closer the rat is to a goal (e.g., food), the harder it will pull to get there. We do not know at this point exactly what is going on in the nervous system and other parts of the animal that results in this variable intensity of motivational states, but it is quite an accepted fact that it happens. So, motivational states have variable amounts of strength.

These motivational states are quite varied, and go by different names. The most common general names for these states are “drives,” “emotions,” “feelings,” “wishes,” “wants,” etc. All of these states tend not only to produce behavior, but to produce specific kinds of behavior that are related to different kinds of outcomes, depending on the motivational state. For instance, hunger motivates different behaviors than does thirst, sexual drive, pain, itching, anger, fear, envy, etc. What motivational states have in common is the tendency to produce behavior or the tendency to change behavior from what it might otherwise have been if the
motivational state had not been present.

Just as we have developed a way of modeling specific beliefs and predictions with propositions, we have also come to model specific motivational states with propositions. The “motivational state,” then, is a hypothetical state existing in a nervous system or “mind” (or metaphorically in a group) that can be modeled with a particular kind of proposition, namely, a sentence that follows the format, “(subject) wants (object).”

Since writing this, have you since changed your thinking on the definition of a "motivational state" such that it now concerns only one seeking pleasure? Is it now somehow distorting, demeaning, obscuring and all the other things you accused me of doing to say that, "Bill wants homo sapiens to endure less preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death" is a motivational state?

I still don't clearly understand how you define "important" and "most important", but I'll try to answer your questions:

- - -


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.

The word "important" is most commonly used to designate value. You have a wish, there are things that are relevant how to achieve that wish, and those things you call "important". A very small subset of those things you call "most important" (e.g., the Homo Rationalis book).

I too have a wish, there are things that are relevant to achieve that wish, and those things I also call "important". A very small subset of those things I also call "most important".

So while we may use some of the same words--"important" and "most important"--to designate value, each of us may be designating value on different wishes and relevant things. And so you asked...

Do you have the same wish that I do?

No. I wish for all people to be reconciled to God through the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This would have the beneficial after-effects of dramatically reducing PSDED, among many others, but I do not wish this as an end in and of itself.

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?

No. Any studies on the topic of strongest desires find a plurality in the camp of, "I want to be happy." Virtually no one offers, unprompted, "...reducing preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death."

Do you have a different wish that conflicts with that wish?

It depends what you mean by "conflicts". I wish for all people to be reconciled to God through the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In the sense that one can wish both wishes and remain consistent in their motivational states, they do not conflict. In the sense that I have limited resources and must make choices about how I spend them on my wishes, they do conflict.

Do you consider something more important than doing something about that enormous amount of preventable tragic PSDED?

Yes, that all people to be reconciled to God through the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

If so, does it conflict with efforts to prevent that preventable tragic PSDED?

Again, it depends on what you mean by "conflict". In the sense that there do exist efforts that have the beneficial effects of doing both, it does not conflict. In the sense that the execution of such efforts given scarce resources usually involves making tradeoffs between objectives, it does conflict.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,751
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 asked you only one question, "Do I have this right?", to see if I understood your answer correctly.
Your question was with regard to the five statements listed just prior to that question, each one of which required a different answer from me. That’s five questions. Next (below) you are presenting one of those five statements that you were asking me about, and my answer to it.
..­.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 understood, they would probably agree with me, and that reading the book would 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.

Where did I say or even allude that you were seeking "personal pleasure"?
Reread those five statements of yours portraying my motivation.
I thought you'd be pleased that I had applied my knowledge gained from your last book on Homo Rationalis and used your own term "motivational state". From page 44 of that book (btw, you may want to check the "Files" list on this site as the file labelled as your first book is just another copy of the Mind-Body book):
Thanks! I’ve corrected the problem.
The new term is “motivational state.” [Here, Derik, you are quoting from my first book. To save space, I am leaving the rest of this out, since I do not believe it is relevant.]

Since writing this, have you since changed your thinking on the definition of a "motivational state" such that it now concerns only one seeking pleasure? Is it now somehow distorting, demeaning, obscuring and all the other things you accused me of doing to say that, "Bill wants homo sapiens to endure less preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death" is a motivational state?
That’s not what you said. I am indeed trying to do something for other people, now and in the future. The way you characterized what I was doing was nothing like that.

I will have to ask you to review my response, including the quoted Preface, from which you have lifted this one word, “important,” that you are claiming not to understand, and then to look at your five statements that presumably represent your understanding of what I meant. There is almost no similarity between those five statements and anything I have written. Again, you keep representing my statements regarding [what I believe to be important to us all] as being statements only about [what is important to me]. And all of this has nothing to do with the ideas in the book.
(Continued in next post)
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,752
(Continued from previous post)
I still don't clearly understand how you define "important" and "most important", but I'll try to answer your questions:
The word “important” has multiple meanings, depending upon context. The word in “important to the fate of our species” means something different than it does in “important to me.”
- - -

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.

The word "important" is most commonly used to designate value. You have a wish, there are things that are relevant how to achieve that wish, and those things you call "important". A very small subset of those things you call "most important" (e.g., the Homo Rationalis book).
Again, subtle misrepresentation. You are again referring to my stated belief as to what is important to everyone as being a statement only of what is important to me. (And there is a difference between a book being the most important book and a book being the most important thing.)
I too have a wish, there are things that are relevant to achieve that wish, and those things I also call "important". A very small subset of those things I also call "most important".

So while we may use some of the same words--"important" and "most important"--to designate value, each of us may be designating value on different wishes and relevant things.
Most important to everyone (what I was referring to)? Or most important to me, or you?
And so you asked...

Do you have the same wish that I do?
Now here we are indeed talking about what is important to you and to me.
No. I wish for all people to be reconciled to God through the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This would have the beneficial after-effects of dramatically reducing PSDED, among many others, but I do not wish this as an end in and of itself.
Yes, I understand. You and I do not have the same value hierarchy. This may be a source of the problem in getting to discussing the book.
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?

No. Any studies on the topic of strongest desires find a plurality in the camp of, "I want to be happy." Virtually no one offers, unprompted, "...reducing preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death."
Another subtle misrepresentation, this time of my question. I did not mean or imply that people would spontaneously use those words, nor do I think anyone would assume I meant that upon reading what I wrote.

This thread is for discussion of the ideas in the book regarding the mind-body problem. The result of your posts is to take the discussion far away from those ideas, distorting what I have written such that the only responses I can reasonably have are ones designed to try to undo the distortions you are creating. The book gets lost. And what I have observed in the past is that when I express dissatisfaction with what is happening, you then imply that you are winning by characterizing me as getting upset, or “amygdala hijacked.” So to avoid that, I have to submit to endlessly continuing to respond to the distortions. This feels to me like some sort of game. I wish we could have a different kind of dialogue.
Do you have a different wish that conflicts with that wish?

It depends what you mean by "conflicts". I wish for all people to be reconciled to God through the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In the sense that one can wish both wishes and remain consistent in their motivational states, they do not conflict. In the sense that I have limited resources and must make choices about how I spend them on my wishes, they do conflict.

Do you consider something more important than doing something about that enormous amount of preventable tragic PSDED?

Yes, that all people to be reconciled to God through the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

If so, does it conflict with efforts to prevent that preventable tragic PSDED?

Again, it depends on what you mean by "conflict". In the sense that there do exist efforts that have the beneficial effects of doing both, it does not conflict. In the sense that the execution of such efforts given scarce resources usually involves making tradeoffs between objectives, it does conflict.
Okay, so would you say that our difference regarding what is more important is that:

I would not accept a set of religious beliefs if the result of people doing so was to cause tragedy, whereas

You accept (your) religious beliefs irrespective of whether they might cause tragedy?

I realize that you do not believe that your set of religious beliefs, if adopted by everyone, would lead to tragedy, but the question is as to whether, if they would, you would continue to hold them.

But there is the additional question as to the clarity of the goals we advocate for:

I believe that people can more easily understand what pain, suffering, disability, and early death mean than they can understand what “being reconciled to God through the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ” means. An abortion clinic bomber could claim to have your highest value as his or her highest value, but not nearly as easily claim to have mine.

But this difference in our values may have a role in what is going wrong in this discussion of the book on the Mind-Body Problem.

I first state in the Preface why I have written the book, stating that I think the issue is important (to everyone) because the problem underlies an enormous amount of pain, suffering, disability, and early death for our species. Then I present my solution to the problem, the main part of the book. Then I clarify how that solution is important to us all.

You stay with the issue as to what the word “important” (as used in the Preface) means, such that we never get to what the book is actually about, and this somehow seems to have relationship to your belief that we should have faith in God as our most important value.

This is indeed an important difference in our beliefs. I would suggest we discuss it in a separate thread. The book does have some things to say about belief in God, but only at the end of the book, requiring, in order to understand it, having read and understood what has been written before it.

Let’s try to move on.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 153
Thanks, Bill. To be clear on the kind of response you are looking for, do you want me to...
- answer the questions from your last post that seem to expect a response?, or
- sum up where we (or maybe just I) stand on this first observation of perceived incorrectness/unclarity and "try to move on"?
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,755
Derik,

If you still really believe that you have discovered a sentence that is either unclear or incorrect in the context in which it is written, I would like for you to present it again, quoted in its context, with your statement as to why it seems unclear or incorrect.

My understanding at this point is that you consider a sentence of mine to be unclear because the meaning of the word "important" is unclear. My understanding is that you can't tell that I am saying that I believe something is important to all of us, our species, but instead believe that I am using the word to refer to what is important just to me. If that is what you believe, I would like for you to quote what I have said that leads you to that belief.

If that word is not the source of the ambiguity, please clarify what word, or sentence, is.

I cannot imagine that there are no mistakes or ambiguities in what I have written, but what you have written so far does not appear to me to be an example. If you believe that I am misinterpreting something you have said, please quote what you have said and what I have said that indicates I have misunderstood.

I believe you have the capability for finding flaws in what I have written, and it will be valuable to me for you to do so.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 154

If you still really believe that you have discovered a sentence that is either unclear or incorrect in the context in which it is written, I would like for you to present it again, quoted in its context, with your statement as to why it seems unclear or incorrect.

The bolded sentences of the below excerpt from page 3 are the first sentences I encounter in your book that are, in my view, unclear or incorrect in the context in which they appear.


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.

I understand from your subsequent posts on this message board that, by "important", you mean the following:


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.

And so, concerning the book, my remaining lack of clarity stems from:
- Not having defined "important" in the above way in the book itself
- Not having articulated in the book why "the effort to avoid preventable tragic PSDED" sits at or near the top of your "value hierarchy" (your words)--this is one form of the concealed metaphysics underlying the book I referenced earlier
- Not having demonstrated in the book how a clear, accurate answer to the mind-body problem results in significantly less preventable, tragic PSDED


My understanding at this point is that you consider a sentence of mine to be unclear because the meaning of the word "important" is unclear. My understanding is that you can't tell that I am saying that I believe something is important to all of us, our species, but instead believe that I am using the word to refer to what is important just to me.

But then the above quote makes me wonder anew if we really have nailed down a definition of "important" with enough certainty that you and I can use it in constructive dialogue? Is "important to all of us, our species" and "important just to me" using the word in the same way? I suspect not. How can something be important or valuable to "all of us" or a "species" in the aggregate? Is it not the case that any act of valuation is necessarily carried out by one and only one mind?
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,757

The bolded sentences of the below excerpt from page 3 are the first sentences I encounter in your book that are, in my view, unclear or incorrect in the context in which they appear.


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.

I understand from your subsequent posts on this message board that, by "important", you mean the following:


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.
Yes, that is correct.


And so, concerning the book, my remaining lack of clarity stems from:
- Not having defined "important" in the above way in the book itself
I believe the two sentences following the one you have bolded adequately imply what I mean by important to our species, especially “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.” If you don’t think so, please expain why.

- Not having articulated in the book why "the effort to avoid preventable tragic PSDED" sits at or near the top of your "value hierarchy" (your words)--this is one form of the concealed metaphysics underlying the book I referenced earlier
I believe that most readers will have a strong wish to avoid, if possible, preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death. I don’t know what concealed metaphysics you are referring to. If you believe it is there, please state what you believe it is.

- Not having demonstrated in the book how a clear, accurate answer to the mind-body problem results in significantly less preventable, tragic PSDED
That’s partly what the book is about, and you will have to read it through to the end to find out.


My understanding at this point is that you consider a sentence of mine to be unclear because the meaning of the word "important" is unclear. My understanding is that you can't tell that I am saying that I believe something is important to all of us, our species, but instead believe that I am using the word to refer to what is important just to me.

But then the above quote makes me wonder anew if we really have nailed down a definition of "important" with enough certainty that you and I can use it in constructive dialogue? Is "important to all of us, our species" and "important just to me" using the word in the same way? I suspect not.
Correct. But this is wording that is, I believe, understood and used by most of us.

How can something be important or valuable to "all of us" or a "species" in the aggregate? Is it not the case that any act of valuation is necessarily carried out by one and only one mind?
As I have stated, “important” has more than one meaning. It would appear that you do not wish to ever use the word “important” in some phrase such as “important to us all” or “important to most of us.” I believe the meaning of such phrases is adequately clear to almost everyone. I believe that people readily describe things as being important to groups of people. It is customary, I believe, to refer to something that is important to the majority of individuals in a group as being important to the group. This is little different than using sentences that have the word “we” or the word “they” in them. And this problem with the word “important” seems to have nothing to do with the ideas presented in the book about the mind-body problem. I suggest, unless you can clarify what the hidden metaphysics is that you are worried about, that we move on. What would be even more helpful would be if you started a new topic regarding this issue such that the current discussion would no longer be detracting from the purpose of this topic.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 155


And so, concerning the book, my remaining lack of clarity stems from:
- Not having defined "important" in the above way in the book itself
I believe the two sentences following the one you have bolded adequately imply what I mean by important to our species, especially “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.” If you don’t think so, please explain why.

What can I say, really? There is certainly no scientific rigor I can employ to counter what you "believe the two sentences... adequately imply". One and only one person has read your book, that person found it curious that the author decided to "adequately imply" what a critical word means instead of define it, and the author doesn't see an issue. So I suppose there is nothing more to say!



- Not having articulated in the book why "the effort to avoid preventable tragic PSDED" sits at or near the top of your "value hierarchy" (your words)--this is one form of the concealed metaphysics underlying the book I referenced earlier
I believe that most readers will have a strong wish to avoid, if possible, preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death. I don’t know what concealed metaphysics you are referring to. If you believe it is there, please state what you believe it is.

"...most readers will have a strong wish..." What does that have to do with the point at hand? My lack of clarity is around why you place it at or near the top of your value hierarchy. The reader never learns why you value this at all, much less why you value it so highly? This evaluative rationale is metaphysical in nature, and concealed from your audience.

You've asked me to speculate as to what these metaphysical beliefs of yours might be, but doing so would be just that--speculation. It would be much more expedient and clarify a great deal if you would do that yourself here or, even better, in the book. To take just the class of value-assigning beliefs, they might include...
- A pleasant (JCA-enhanced and/or PSDED-free) moment in any given human life is valuable
- An unpleasant (JCA-free and/or PSDED-enhanced) moment in any given human life is less valuable than a pleasant moment
- The value of a pleasant moment is equal from human life to human life, independent of race, ethnicity, age, time of occurrence (now or in the future), etc.
- Over a given time period and a given group of human lives, the aggregate value of the sum of pleasant moments is worth proportionally more than that of one pleasant moment (e.g., 5 pleasant moments is worth 5 times more than 1 pleasant moment)
- An action that creates one or more pleasant moments for another is valuable
- Any collection of actions that creates many pleasant moments is more valuable than an alternate collection of actions that creates few pleasant moments

You can see how fruitless this is for me to try to guess. Who better qualified to state your metaphysical beliefs than you yourself?
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,765
Is the following a satisfactory summary of this dialogue?

Bill’s book essentially says:

The solving of the mind-body problem is extremely important to our species because it underlies our inability to agree regarding some very basic beliefs, and to have what we agree to be accurate, and this inability to agree to a set of accurate basic beliefs leads to much tragedy. Solving the problem therefore may enable us to avoid much tragedy.

Derik:

Define “important.”

Bill:

Relevant to the presumed wish we all have to avoid unnecessary tragedy.

Derik:

No. “Important” can only refer to one person’s value, not to what we all value. Nothing can be important to us all. Bill, you can only say something is important to you; you cannot say that you believe that something is important to us all.
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