Re: more, briefly

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Fri, 10 Apr 1998 11:34:08 -0500 (EST)

At 04:51 PM 4/7/98 -0400, Massimo Pigliucci wrote:
>> The evidence for the existence of the ocean is based on other
>> assumptions
>I stand corrected on that one! I guess I consider non-sensical to doubt
>the existence of sensorial perception... ;-)
>However, as Gerry pointed out, the existence of either a god or a
>creator is *still* not self-evident according to the rules of logic
>(BTW, that nothing comes out of nothing is an inference based on
>experience, not a deep philosophical conclusion...).

Dear Massimo,

Someone already remarked that the notion of a Creator is an answer to the
question of being. Science answers no ontological questions. The laws of
science describe existing things, the laws do not bring anything into being.
The rules of logic are applied to axioms, postulates or whatever someone
considers self-evident. Reasoning cannot be done in a vacuum.

>> You are confusing making decisions with changing your mind. Do you
>> really
>> have a choice before you act? I say you do. Otherwise you had no
>> choice but
>> to marry your lovely Melissa :)
>First of all, if you knew Melissa, you would *know* that I had no
>choice... ;-)

No doubt!

>> Unless you want to admit that humans are
>> programmed like commuters
>Of course we are! And the programmer is natural selection. I think you
>are confusing programmability with unpredictability. Just because human
>behavior may be unpredictable it doesn't mean that it is not programmed.
>There are two ways in which you can make a program the output of which
>is unpredictable: a) you can simply infuse a random number generator to
>make decisions; or b) more interestingly, you can write a complex
>program with feedback loops and context-dependent decision making
>processes. These programs fall into the category of "undecidable",
>meaning that not even the programmer can tell you what's going to
>happen. You just have to run the machine.

I really do not think you believe what you are saying. How does a programmed
thing thinks in terms of "ought to" or "ought not to?" No matter how
sophisticated such a "being" it would still be an automaton--a robot. I
would grant you that animals are sophisticated computers. But not man. At
least not me :)

>> I am sure Big Blue did not know that it was playing chess.
>Big Blue probably didn't, but there is absolutely nothing in principle
>that precludes a thinking computer. For one thing, to the best of our
>knowledge, that's exactly what every animal is. Second, our current
>computers are still infinitely simple compared to most animal brains, so
>the comparison is not yet fair.

A thinking computer, no matter how advanced, is not, and will never be, a
human. Ask yourself why is it so difficult to define what love is. Even our
language is not adequate to tell others what love is. The only reason people
understand love poems is that both the poet and the reader are humans. An
alien from another planter will never understand what human love is no
matter how intelligent. Much less so a thinking computer.

>> Where does wetness reside in the liquid? Clearly the notion of
>> wetness is
>> foreign to individual atoms/molecules. It may be that our
>> consciousness and
>> its actions are of this sort. But I am more inclined to think that
>> human
>> consciousness goes beyond the physical.
>The "wetness" is an emerging property of, say, hydrogen and oxygen when
>properly combined. Similarly, consciousness is clearly an epiphenomenon
>of neuronal connections in the brain. So? In both cases you have a clear
>*physical* basis. I was talking about free will, which is by no means
>the same as consciousness...ciao,

One has to be conscious of self in order to exercise his/her free will.

Take care,