Sorite’s Paradox Reconsidered: Materialism Defeated

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dave (@dkman)    1 year, 4 months ago

According to the Sorite’s Paradox there is no true meaning to qualitative quantities. The most popular example of explaining this paradox is the term ‘heap.’ If a pile of sand is first recognized as a heap of sand, then where would the line be drawn on how many grains of sand would have to be removed for the remaining grains of sand not to be considered a heap? The paradox states that there couldn’t possibly be any precise number of grains of sand would define the pile as a heap, and therefore everyone’s perceptions are wildly different and the word has no real meaning.
It seems preposterous to believe that such a word has no relative meaning to different people. If I was in front of a pile of sand, and one grain of sand was removed at a time I can guarantee that the pile would never be less than a certain size whether my internal definition be 10285 grains of sand or 5621 grains of sand. An exaggerated example of what I mean is that I would never let the pile get lower than 10 grains because that would violate my perception of a heap of sand. Now if this experiment was done 1000 times on me I might get all different numbers of what my final grain count was, but it would never get to lower than 10 grains of sand. There is a finite range of numbers that create this barrier between heap and not a heap. Since there is a finite difference in my perception of heap, this word does have meaning. The Global meaning of the word heap will differ, but can be expressed with relatively little difference between two different people without mentioning exact quantifications. The fact that humans are able to communicate qualitative descriptions to each other such as feelings and so forth means that our brains are not just physical machines. Therefore we cannot be duplicated by artificial intelligence. I am not a robot; I have a brain and a soul.
I was previously very materialistic on my views of the mind, but now I’m leaning more towards dualism. Am I jumping the gun here? As I realize it is a very steep dismount.

1 votes, posted 12.08.2012 at 8:01 pm
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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

Some things can be darker shades of gray than others.

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Stephen (@zhaetur)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dkman, What do you mean by materialistic views of the mind?

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dkman, Going from the Heap definition to not being a robot is a huge leap of faith, and not something I would agree with.

The thing is the brain is always comparing to what it has just seen – a single grain of sand removed from a heap is not very different than the previous heap. What a conventional computer would do different is that we would most likely program it to count the sands, or count the weight, or count the radius, and give a definition.

However, it would be just as easy to make a computer compare the new heap to the old heap, and make a qualitative distinction; is it pretty similar, or pretty different? If its pretty similar, its still a heap.

Now the mind isn’t stupid, so eventually we go out of context – we see from a new angle “If I were to simply sit down here now, I would probably not call this a heap”

This could not be done so simply with a computer as above, however it would be simple enough to program it do to do so – every few seconds or minutes re-check to make sure the total radius of the heap is in a certain range.

I was thinking along some similar lines, and I’m sure you’ve come across this question as well; if the entire human body was arranged, molecule by molecule, in the fraction of a second (don’t need to know how/why) – would this human body be conscious?

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

I also don’t know why I have to explain this: the way our brains process things does not necessarily mean we have a magical or immaterial being (aka soul) inside us.

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@zhaetur, modern neuroscience is materialist in nature. You may want to look into methodological naturalism.

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

There is no heap.

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dave (@dkman)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@ijesuschrist

You make some valid points, thanks for your input. And yes that last thought did pop into my mind while pondering this, according to your opinions you think we do not possess consciousness? Sorry if I have missinterpreted. As far as the lines of consciousness go, I believe it is not made up of mass, nor is it physical. Would you disagree with this?

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dkman, We are conscious, certainly, but consciousness is only the ability to perceive reality, it does not interact with reality and has no control, i.e. there is no “free will”.

Although I wish we had free-will, and our consciousness was the “pilot” – I don’t think that is the case. Consciousness is just some crazy, CRAZY side effect of a complex brain.

But “where is the color red?” will always intrigue me to question this…

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Nick (@splashartist)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dalniente, What differentiates us being magical wether we have a soul or not? even if we don’t I would say our existence is amazing on its own without glitter added. What you speak of is paradox. All things funneling to the Tao end in paradox. I would say that’s pretty magical. LOL.

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@splashartist, notice that I also said “immaterial” and “soul.” Are we made of matter? Yes. While I appreciate our shared wonder of life (I want to do research in the future), you have a trick of words going on there.

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Nick (@splashartist)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dalniente, Exactly, the infinite that cannot be understood by our simple, finite minds. Is this all there is? Going so deep down the rabbit hole until you realize what you seek cannot be understood with out paradox but only experienced? Are our brains the creator of consiousness or are they the receivers? That’s the trick.

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@splashartist, I said that I was using the supernatural definition of “magical.” While I agree with you that there is a possibility that our consciousness is a product of some immaterial (the opposite of materialism)…thing, there is no evidence to support that, and (as you probably know) assumptions should not be used lightly in science. I was really remarking on the OP’s non sequitur reasoning.

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Nick (@splashartist)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dalniente, For sure! Cheers!

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dave (@dkman)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@ijesuschrist
your quote “consciousness is just some crazy crazy side effect of a complex brain” is self-contradictory to your own beliefs. How would you define a ‘complex brain’? Consciousness and anything subjective really cannot have any meaning to you if you truly believe what you typed.

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dkman, hows it contradictory?

Greens my favorite color, the sunrise is beautiful, but I believe consciousness is still pretty much a side effect. Its not contradictory, right?

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@ijesuschrist, I think your confusion is really just the OP’s non sequitur reasoning.

Our brains process subjective things! BAM! We have a soul!

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dalniente, <_<

actually if that were true it would be quite a discovery, we don’t process subjective thing, I don’t think – we process objective things in incredible feats of neurology. We can say something is the same, when its not, because we have ranges of acceptability…

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@ijesuschrist, sure we can. Consciousness can be tricky to define, but it allows us to have qualitative experiences. What’s really tricky is how consciousness emerges.

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dalniente, I don’t think we have qualitative anything, just a summation of quantitative which emerge as “qualitative: There is no such thing as qualitative in my book…

Let me use the example as the Heap;
The “Heap” is a qualitative thing; we see a thing, its pretty large, its big, its a heap!

But really what we are seeing is its at a distance of X (+/-) Y
And has a radius of Z (+/-) W
Thus our heaps equal { >/= (x-5) ; >/= (z-5) }
Or some bullshit like that, but the brain doesn’t work like a hard drive or a mother-board. The values change, day to day, and the relationships change as well. This brings about an emergent “free-will” I guess. But, overall, we are just incredibly dynamic beings, bent on trying to define consciousness.

Edit: dude i tried just tried to read what I wrote and i am drunk and this may be terrible. drink me more beer for me.

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@ijesuschrist, oh the inadequacies of human knowledge!

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dalniente, the real fucked up thing is the mind is able to contemplate “consciousness” in its own actions. Like I am doing now. The brain believes it is consciousness, at least the conscious part, but most of the brain remains unconscious – no?

It is quite odd to simply hear – in consciousness – “I am conscious” – no?

It means there is some kind of communication between consciousness and the mind, be it physical or “metaphysical”…

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@ijesuschrist, I’ve stayed up too long working on my Mindmap thing.

There was a communication error between us, which I partly blame on how tired I’ve been for the last several hours. Various causes can lead to qualitative experiences in individuals; consciousness allows those individuals to be aware of those experiences. Something isn’t “sour” or “loud” unless they’re experienced that way. So of course qualitative experiences are the end result. I think the confusion is rooted in the question of how those experiences emerge: is the current model on the right track, or do we owe consciousness (those qualitative experiences, etc) to something immaterial? I meant that I think it’s much more likely that the current model is on the right track.

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dunny (@dunny79)1 year, 4 months ago ago

I have thoroughly enjoyed tuning in on this discussion, but I ask that @ijesuschrist restates what his position on the mind’s capacity to find mutual understanding in matters that are, to simply say, enumerated.

I understand the rational behind @dalniente‘s argument here. He makes a strong, conservative perspective.

Are you in some way eluding to the concept of “inherited experiences” or are you suggesting that, given science’s minimal understanding of the brain, there is some shared, omnipotent consciousness on which brainwaves travel?

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@ijesuschrist, going off of what you and I said…

You: “…the mind is able to contemplate “consciousness” in its own actions.”
Me: “So of course qualitative experiences are the end result.”

One of my faults (especially when my judgment is impaired, like it is now in my sleep-deprived state) is that I sometimes fail to communicate things that are bleeding obvious to me. I take them for granted. Sometimes that can result in a communication error.

In the case of the confusion over “process,” my mind used two different meanings:

1) To process, as in processing quantitative things into qualitative experiences. Of course qualitative experiences are the end result!
2) To process, an in “contemplating” or “thinking about” experiences. (“Hold on, let me process this.”)

My apologies!

@dunny79, thanks, but I hope this post (and the one before this) will answer part of your question. Going to bed now!

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Anonymous (@)1 year, 4 months ago ago

@dalniente, I seriously don’t know what you’re getting at. I was quite drunk last night (finished my first semester of PhD! WOO!) and am still a bit hazy this morning…

When I said “The real weird thing is consciousness is aware of itself” it had nothing to do with any prior discussion, I was simply blurting out what I wanted to say.

Which is still weird, and has occupied my mind for the past 3 days now. (Oh and yes I agree things are qualitative, the color red, although grounded to a physical, quantitative wave-length, is a subjective, qualitative experience – if I were to deny this … I don’t know)

But anyway, am I missing something here? Am I getting lost in circular logic, because this seems incredibly odd to me:
In the standard, emerging model, we believe that the brain can account for everything, right? There is no soul, nothing unexplainable about the mind – all our feelings, thoughts, qualitative and quantitative that can be experienced, are processes of the mind.

Somehow, consciousness emerges from this brain, this mind, what some seem to believe is due to the entirety of the brain working = voila consciousness. As someone once said: “I don’t think anyone will solve the problem of consciousness in my life time. Its a hard problem.” Some famous Neuroscientist, idk who.

Anyway;
So consciousness is a product of the brain, and obviously the brain is aware that it is conscious, otherwise I wouldn’t be having this discussion. Yet consciousness itself usually lags behind actual neural network decisions, but we have this illusion that consciousness is doing everything. God damnit I’m losing myself again. I will come back to this. Maybe in a new thread cause kind of getting off topic here, now.

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