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Philosophy Book Club

Jeanette M. N.
wickedatheist
Denver, CO
Post #: 3,138
iDave:

Well I was trying to play off of Alexander's (and thus Ken Robert's) apparent religious motivation (with you being the wicked atheist and all). Anyway, from what I grok so far, it is the alleged irreducibility of these so-called intentions that could pose a problem for scientists who like to reduce everything to atoms and frisky dirt.

Yet Ken Roberts is also a materialist. It's just that Ken thinks there's a place for "complexity theory" within the materialist viewpoint, as well as a need for it.

But I don't know why he thinks that, because mostly this discussion keeps boiling down to some eye-gouging between the major players, interspersed with some urging to go read some books rather than asking for an explanation here.

Though obviously I am at a disadvantage in this discussion, since I'm not knowledgeable about the philosophers being discussed, and it all sounds like a lot of name-dropping to me. So I was just observing... though I haven't found any answers here, just lots of comic relief.

Anyway, I don't know if you can bring this dead board back to life. Those two were the only ones really engaged in discussion on this board, and as you can see it didn't go anywhere but in circles and dropped off a month ago.
A former member
Post #: 986
iDave: Well I was trying to play off of Alexander's (and thus Ken Robert's) apparent religious motivation (with you being the wicked atheist and all). Anyway, from what I grok so far, it is the alleged irreducibility of these so-called intentions that could pose a problem for scientists who like to reduce everything to atoms and frisky dirt.

Jeanette: Yet Ken Roberts is also a materialist. It's just that Ken thinks there's a place for "complexity theory" within the materialist viewpoint, as well as a need for it.

But I don't know why he thinks that, because mostly this discussion keeps boiling down to some eye-gouging between the major players, interspersed with some urging to go read some books rather than asking for an explanation here.

Yes, well regardless of a person's alleged bias, what stands out is the absence or avoidance of dialog. I say "Rabbits are green," you say "No they aren't, see, here's a picture," I say "Rabbits really are green but there is not enough space in the margin of this page for me to prove it." The dialog ends with a whiff of superiority or elitism. After all, Ken is an educator and, in the tradition of Socrates, could lead us "street people" through his argument. But it must stand up to simple stupid questions like "Where are the intention particles?" These bottom-up questions keep us grounded, question assumptions, separate church and state.

Jeanette: Anyway, I don't know if you can bring this dead board back to life. Those two were the only ones really engaged in discussion on this board, and as you can see it didn't go anywhere but in circles and dropped off a month ago.

This forum is great for in-depth discussion of books and issues whenever two or more people are curious. Folks may be on vacation or they may be so confused by intentionality that they moved on to Theology and Rock Climbing. I just purchased The Intentional Stance after reading this interesting thread and will hopefully be better informed if it picks up again. Better late than never? wink
A former member
Post #: 987
Not sure if I mentioned this before but there is a book discussion format I've seen that worked well in other forums and might be fun to try here, maybe as an extension to the normal book group (or for slow pokes like me).

One person volunteers to be moderator for, say, The Book. Moderator starts a thread called The Book (book discussion) and posts a message:

This week we are reading Chapter 1 of The Book. In this chapter, The Author discusses blah and blah. Please send any questions to me.

Moderator receives questions from participants and Posts Them Anonymously to The Book thread for anyone to respond to.

Participants may also post questions directly if they prefer.

Everyone strives to keep discussion to The Book (challenging!), to avoid veering into politics or personalities.

It goes like this, one chapter per week (more or less depending on difficulty), with subtopic discussions continuing freely.

Since I just purchased The Intentional Stance, I could moderate this one if there is interest, if original book study group hasn't resolved all the issues under the sun. wink
Jeanette M. N.
wickedatheist
Denver, CO
Post #: 3,144
iDave (or would that be youDave?):


I just purchased The Intentional Stance after reading this interesting thread and will hopefully be better informed if it picks up again. Better late than never? wink

Aaarrrgh! Never would be better than late for that one. Spry was actually right about something... the horror! That book clearly was not written for a general audience. (And Dennett's general audience writing is hard enough for me.)

I have no doubt that you'll understand it just fine, Dave. But I only made it to page 95, as predicted by the prophet Sprydel... and that much reading didn't leave me with anything to discuss. But have fun with the others, if they're willing to suffer that way.

As for the idea of a chapter-by-chapter book discussion via message board, that sounds like fun. And since I can barely find time for the book group I'm already in, a slow-paced book discussion would be the only other book group I could possibly take on. But not The Intentional Stance, thanks.
A former member
Post #: 988
Jeanette: iDave (or would that be youDave?):

Ha ha. Reminds me of that woman in Colorado (?) who changed her name to 'U' or 'You'. That would be fun.

iDave: I just purchased The Intentional Stance after reading this interesting thread and will hopefully be better informed if it picks up again. Better late than never?

Jeanette: Aaarrrgh! Never would be better than late for that one. Spry was actually right about something... the horror! That book clearly was not written for a general audience. (And Dennett's general audience writing is hard enough for me.)

Yes, well I may grow sick of intentionality after a few chapters, or not. I always liked Richard Feynman's comment that "Everything is interesting if one has time to explore deeply enough." In this case, the historical volume of ideas about mental goings-on certainly has depth, perhaps some of it is "crap." We'll see how Dennett interprets "crap;" probably differently than Ken (or Spry!) does. If I get hooked and become an intentionality geek, I may ping Ken to pursue questions on- or offline.

I think Ken summarized his "crap" back on page 8:

Ken Roberts: The root cause of [Dennett's] failure is due to the poverty of his ontology, and his acceptance of a model of causation that is exclusively "bottom up". But individual neurons aren't conscious. We might say that their individual consciousness is equal to zero. And, as we all know, we can keep adding zeroes together forever without ever getting to one. Dennett's strategy amounts to denying that one exists. To move beyond this absurdity, we have to think about how the whole can greater than the sum of the parts -- or perhaps how the parts can be something other than what we think they are.

So Ken dislikes Dennett's reductionism: the mind isn't the brain, the mind deserves to be a bonafied thing in our ontology of "all the things there are."

Ken argues "individual neurons aren't conscious." We have a clear idea what "neurons" mean but "conscious" is exactly what we're trying to define here so this assertion (like so many others?) begs the question. Without even trying to define "consciousness," we can already say, intuitively, that neurons are "smarter" than water molecules, yes? So Ken's argument is fuzzy, or "crappy" as Dennett might say.

Anyway, looking forward to wading through yet another battle between the Gods and Giants.

Regards,
U.
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