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Metaphysical status of First Person Experience

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On 11/14/2018 at 10:20 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

Find the error (according to Objectivism) in the following:

 

1. Everything existing in reality exists independent of any person's perception, knowledge, consciousness, experience etc.

 

 

Consciousness and the contents of consciousness are also existing within Existence ('reality').  But the contents of a particular  person's consciousness are most definitely not independent of that person's consciousness.   Contents of consciousness refers to many things and includes the first person experience a.k.a. the subjective perspective.  Premise 1 is not self-contradictory just wrong.

Re: the transporter sidebar; thats just the "Ship of Theseus" problem again where every last plank and furnishing has been replaced and all at once rather than a piece at a time.  This paradox attempts to create a dichotomy between matter and form, substance and structure, and people reveal something about themselves when they favor one or the other as the essence of identity.  Paraphrasing Aristotle, there is no form without matter and no matter exists without form so there should be no dichotomy.

In my resolution, the transported is not identical with the transportee.  But ships, rivers and people are all always changing their parts over time even without transporters and we still use the same names for them.  Names are the way to bring a conceptual consciousness to bear on concrete particulars, and our concepts for particular ships, rivers and people allow for and encompass non-essential variation.  A transporter duplicates the traveler with no measurable variation so of course the name should stay the same.  After the practical matter of the name has been settled it is pointless to dwell further on the abstract degree of identity between the before and after versions of the traveler.  Pointless, because the transported person should not be treated any different than if he had not used the transporter.  

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@StrictlyLogical

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Now if we look at a DIFFERENT process, one of replacing dying cells, fixing DNA, allowing the body and brain to heal itself, and (possibly one day) achieve indefinite life (until the heat death of the universe), then we have a slow transformation which we already all undergo as we grow and as material enters our bodies and leaves our bodies... this is not the same ... why?  Because of continuity... the being was not destroyed here and rebuilt there... it never died it never stopped functioning as it normally does.

Can you please clarify what you mean by "indefinite life" and why you say it is "possible?"  The "slow transformation" would still have to be occurring like you said.  "Slow" still implies a definite lifespan.  The transformations would have to completely stop for it to be indefinite.  Now maybe it can slowed down to the point that you'd still be around when the heat death of the universe comes about, but it still wouldn't be indefinite.

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SL
When you do the DA stuff I don't know who is who, I will just put in my two cents and talk about the particular statements:

When I am asleep, and others are conscious of my existence, do I exist?

Doesn't including a "subjective/objective delineation" necessary to deal with this issue.
Subjectively speaking:
Every item in existence, exists dependent on my consciousness of it
That includes me as one of the items in existence.
I do need to be aware of "my awareness of myself" in order for me to have "conscious awareness of myself". 

Objectively speaking:
Every item in existence, exists independent of any consciousness of it (mine or others).
That includes me as one of the items in existence.
I do not need to be aware of "my awareness of myself" in order for me to have "conscious awareness of myself". 

I need to be aware of "my awareness of myself" to know that I exist to have the full subjective perspective, the subjective perspective of self.
But the objective perspective of self comes from the fact of knowing "I was asleep, they know I was here even though I don't"
I can't be aware of the fact that I am not aware of myself.

Also

Philosophically speaking, is there an awareness that is not conscious? (you say "conscious awareness" - seems redundant)
Are you saying subconscious awareness of self? (certainly not unconscious awareness)
My understanding is that philosophically, consciousness means "conscious of". Not the levels of consciousness in psychology.
 

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On 11/17/2018 at 2:09 AM, Grames said:

But ships, rivers and people are all always changing their parts over time even without transporters and we still use the same names for them.  Names are the way to bring a conceptual consciousness to bear on concrete particulars, and our concepts for particular ships, rivers and people allow for and encompass non-essential variation.

How much awareness of anything do you have to have for it to be itself?
Split second awareness? or some sort of continuous awareness?
Doesn't induction requires a series of "hits" to one's perception mechanism.

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9 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

How much awareness of anything do you have to have for it to be itself?
Split second awareness? or some sort of continuous awareness?
Doesn't induction requires a series of "hits" to one's perception mechanism.

"It to be itself" is very similar to "A is A".  For a thing to be itself does not require any awareness at all.  Awareness is secondary to and dependent upon prior existing things.

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On ‎7‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 10:08 PM, [email protected] said:

@StrictlyLogical

Can you please clarify what you mean by "indefinite life" and why you say it is "possible?"  The "slow transformation" would still have to be occurring like you said.  "Slow" still implies a definite lifespan.  The transformations would have to completely stop for it to be indefinite.  Now maybe it can slowed down to the point that you'd still be around when the heat death of the universe comes about, but it still wouldn't be indefinite.

By "indefinite" I only mean nothing inherently (within the body) limiting the lifespan.  e.g. as long as there is enough energy left in the universe to extract the heat and work to perform the ongoing repair and maintenance (external resources) etc. you'll live.

Assuming the universe is slowly dying of heat death via entropy and expansion, it does not have indefinite potential for energy use... so the transformations required for consciousness would eventually stop. 

Asymptotic death is interesting... life could be extended by slowing life down, but the quality and quantity of life would be spread out over more and more time... and eventually at the end normal subjective experiences would not be able to complete prior to the exhaustion of the universe... if you had the last grams of available heat energy to burn in your artificial brain you may not even finish your final thought.... and it might last millions years while your "rationing system" asymptotically feeds your dying mind... until it finally exhausts your stores.

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@StrictlyLogical

But there is always an inherent limit with all living beings.  The living human body is a far from equilibrium thermodynamic system that actively undergoes a continuous progression from non-equilibrium energy state configuration (low entropy) to equilibrium energy state configuration (high entropy).  This is a defining characteristic of all living things.  It's the reason that you're able to actively change over time in the first place.  There's a certain amount of irreversibility that cannot be reversed.  A certain amount of that progression cannot be halted otherwise you wouldn't be alive in the first place.

Edited by [email protected]

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4 hours ago, [email protected] said:

@StrictlyLogical

But there is always an inherent limit with all living beings.  The living human body is a far from equilibrium thermodynamic system that actively undergoes a continuous progression from non-equilibrium energy state configuration (low entropy) to equilibrium energy state configuration (high entropy).  This is a defining characteristic of all living things.  It's the reason that you're able to actively change over time in the first place.  There's a certain amount of irreversibility that cannot be reversed.  A certain amount of that progression cannot be halted otherwise you wouldn't be alive in the first place.

Exactly... if you stop eating or breathing you die too.

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@StrictlyLogical

Well I agree.  Although, I would be a little bit careful about the way you think about eating or breathing.  The actions of eating and breathing are actions that are under your higher-level conscious control, more or less.  Also, neither of those are necessary for a living being to exist from moment to moment.  You can stop breathing for minutes and you can still exist throughout that entire temporal duration.  I think the longest record someone held their breath was 22 minutes but that's beside the point.  And eating you can stop for weeks and continue to exist.  So there some differences in the nature of these actions and the actions that your living body continuously does from moment to moment and all throughout your entire life without your conscious control.  It's these lower-level bodily metabolic and neural actions that drive your ability to choose to eat or breathe in the first place and it's these actions that are continuously operating and piling on more and more entropy (bringing the body from a non-equilibrium to an equilibrium state) and they can't be interfered with.

Edited by [email protected]

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11 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/31398-metaphysical-status-of-first-person-experience/&page=2&tab=comments#comment-359673

I don't know why there is no spot for putting a like on that post, so I'll just state that I appreciate it, as well as other posts of this contributor.

Try signing in. I don't see the heart icon when not signed in, but do when I am.

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No, even when I'm signed in, no heart icon shows for him/her. It shows for everyone else (except for myself, which is sensible). I am signed in under Safari---I'm unable to make posts here if signed in under Chrome.

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7 hours ago, [email protected] said:

It's these lower-level bodily metabolic and neural actions that drive your ability to choose to eat or breathe in the first place and it's these actions that are continuously operating and piling on more and more entropy (bringing the body from a non-equilibrium to an equilibrium state) and they can't be interfered with

I get the feeling we are arguing over nothing, or over a misunderstanding of what the other has stated.  In fact I'm not sure what you are stating or what your quibble is with what I stated, or what Boydstun likes about what you said as against anything I meant.

I use the term "indefinite" to mean as long as there is a source of energy which can be used to fuel all the necessary processes of life and the manmade repair of any deterioration thereof.  Of course both require energy and perhaps a person armed with future nanotech would use up 10 times more energy than a person of today eating his Wheaties, and the local energy of the universe he has access to will be used up all the quicker...but with ongoing repair life continues ... until that repair is no longer possible... when the energy is no longer available.

Realistically, it does not depend on the heat death of the entire universe, just the local area, if the rate of decrease the energy density is dropping fast enough, the average rate energy usage for travel to gather energy from location to location might become larger than the rate of energy gathered... energy will soon not be replenishable... and then the rationing would begin. 

 

I suppose my use of the term "indefinite" could be seen as implying:

Life is not a mystical essence "possessed" by natural things if reality, it is a natural process of natural things in reality.  

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@StrictlyLogical

I agree with what you said about life being a natural process and I do agree what you said about repairs not being possible if no energy is available.  But what I'm saying is "deterioration" itself can be conceptualized as a bodily high entropy state and a "repair" can be conceptualized as a lowering of that entropy.  And what i'm saying is because a living human body's basic function essentially and continuously increases entropy (to make you change over time in the first place, i.e. arrow of time), a certain amount of that entropy cannot be lowered (repaired) even if you had energy available.  You can repair excessive/unnecessary high entropy such as an injury or hunger.  What you can't repair (even if you had available energy) is the entropy associated with how long you've been in existence.  What I think is interesting is that overall bodily entropy (which continuously increases over time) can serve as an objective indicator of how long a particular living  individual with a mind has been in existence.

Edited by [email protected]

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1 hour ago, [email protected] said:

@StrictlyLogical

I agree with what you said about life being a natural process and I do agree what you said about repairs not being possible if no energy is available.  But what I'm saying is "deterioration" itself can be conceptualized as a bodily high entropy state and a "repair" can be conceptualized as a lowering of that entropy.  And what i'm saying is because a living human body's basic function essentially and continuously increases entropy (to make you change over time in the first place, i.e. arrow of time), a certain amount of that entropy cannot be lowered (repaired) even if you had energy available.  You can repair excessive/unnecessary high entropy such as an injury or hunger.  What you can't repair (even if you had available energy) is the entropy associated with how long you've been in existence.  What I think is interesting is that overall bodily entropy (which continuously increases over time) can serve as an objective indicator of how long a particular living  individual with a mind has been in existence.

Your premise assumes away repair by assuming an "inherent" perhaps intrinsic deterioration.

When a human's biological processes repair itself through healing, the state of the human is brought to a lower entropy, but in the larger system including the environment, entropy is increased.  Burning of energy and directed action allows for this.  This is how computers compute and sort and bring order, how you can clean your room or build a neat and tidy skyscraper, or localize a perfect diamond (manmade) from left over carbon under high pressures.

This concept of 

1 hour ago, [email protected] said:

overall bodily entropy (which continuously increases over time) can serve as an objective indicator of how long a particular living  individual

is not well formed.

I could apply the same argument for the neatness of a persons room..  and claim that inevitably it will become messy because of how long it existed as such... that is an oversimplification of the system and an improper application of the laws of thermodynamics.  Nothing about the human being is inherently or intrinsically non-repairable in principle... although it might be technologically difficult.

 

 

I can think of a way to create a perfectly new human being, entirely, from used unorganized organic matter.  It involves an expenditure of energy and a complex process but the result is an undeteriorated person.  The reason it is not a violation of thermodynamics is because the larger system including the environment, disorder increases.  If a sufficiently complex machine and process can do that, FROM entirely unorganized organic matter, then in principle nano technological or biologic assisted nano repair of a human being which is 90% intact, is not untenable.

 

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I could apply the same argument for the neatness of a persons room..  and claim that inevitably it will become messy because of how long it existed as such... that is an oversimplification of the system and an improper application of the laws of thermodynamics.  Nothing about the human being is inherently or intrinsically non-repairable in principle... although it might be technologically difficult.

You cannot apply the same argument to a messy room because a room does not need to go through continuous entropic processes in order to continue to exist.  It is not an oversimplification.  And even during the process of creating a new human being, that human being does not exist yet during that creation process, so that concept would not apply.  It's only after the human's continuous, entropic, and self-sustaining processes start that that concept would apply.

I don't know if this is something that is "in principle" like you said.  There is a biologist whose name is Nasif Nahle and he explains this alot better than I could.  He applies inductive first followed by deductive scientific methods in his work.  He discusses the conception of man (and all other living beings) as quasi-stable non-equilibrium systems.  These are systems that continuously increase their entropy up to a maximum value in order to stay in existence.

 

Edited by [email protected]

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When a human's biological processes repair itself through healing, the state of the human is brought to a lower entropy, but in the larger system including the environment, entropy is increased.

It may have repaired an injury or something like that but the fact remains that a living being is still older than it was after it healed than it was before it healed.  In order to sustain its life, it went through irreversible, entropic processes that drove its healing but still resulted in an overall energy state configuration closer to equilibrium.

Edited by [email protected]

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2 hours ago, [email protected] said:

You cannot apply the same argument to a messy room because a room does not need to go through continuous entropic processes in order to continue to exist.  It is not an oversimplification.  And even during the process of creating a new human being, that human being does not exist yet during that creation process, so that concept would not apply.  It's only after the human's continuous, entropic, and self-sustaining processes start that that concept would apply.

I don't know if this is something that is "in principle" like you said.  There is a biologist whose name is Nasif Nahle and he explains this alot better than I could.  He applies inductive first followed by deductive scientific methods in his work.  He discusses the conception of man (and all other living beings) as quasi-stable non-equilibrium systems.  These are systems that continuously increase their entropy up to a maximum value in order to stay in existence.

 

An entity performing an entropic process is not the same as the entire system undergoing increasing entropy.  Take a combustion engine made of diamond and fueled with gasoline.  After it ran for a while and cooled back down,  it would not itself have undergone an increase in entropy but the system including the fuel and the surroundings will have.  In fact the engine could be identical to what it was (although new grease may have to be added).

IMHO you are conflating the entropy of a system undergoing a processes according to thermodynamics with permanent decay or damage to specific parts of a system.  Entropy is not the same as decay or damage and an increase in entropy of a whole system does not necessitate damage or decay to all of its parts.

 

Healthy living muscle can burn fuel supplied from food in your bloodstream and create waste (heat and chemical waste) in the process of generating motion, entropy increases for the system as a whole (muscles + food -> muscles + waste), but there is no scientific principle which requires the healthy living muscle itself to decay by ANY amount in this process.  This is just one of the processes of life, and it does not necessitate any decay requiring repair.

 

As for Nasif... I suspect his analysis was specifically related to isolated (unaided or interfered with) living systems, not systems including a living being and a vast array of technology continually repairing that living being.

 

12 minutes ago, [email protected] said:

It may have repaired an injury or something like that but the fact remains that a living being is still older than it was after it healed than it was before it healed.  In order to sustain its life, it went through irreversible, entropic processes that drove its healing.

Even if irreversible processes (increasing entropy) drove its healing, like a lot of energy and waste products to destroy and discard a sick cell and growing a new cell to replace the old one, that does not mean decay of the living being which now has a new cell.  In the case where a new cell replaced an old cell it means the opposite of decay.

 

In any case, to summarize our positions:

I claim, with the assistance of future technological or biological processes which could repair, heal, and renew cells, tissues, neurons etc. in an ongoing fashion, in principle, life could be extended indefinitely (on condition that there is available energy to fuel the life and the future technological and biological processes).

You claim, that in principle, life could not be so extended.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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2 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

In any case, to summarize our positions:

I claim, with the assistance of future technological or biological processes which could repair, heal, and renew cells, tissues, neurons etc. in an ongoing fashion, in principle, life could be extended indefinitely (on condition that there is available energy to fuel the life and the future technological and biological processes).

You claim, that in principle, life could not be so extended.

To be clear, THIS is not a philosophical issue.  It is a technical issue.

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@StrictlyLogical

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An entity performing an entropic process is not the same as the entire system undergoing increasing entropy.  Take a combustion engine made of diamond and fueled with gasoline.  After it ran for a while and cooled back down,  it would not itself have undergone an increase in entropy but the system including the fuel and the surroundings will have.  In fact the engine could be identical to what it was (although new grease may have to be added).

IMHO you are conflating the entropy of a system undergoing a processes according to thermodynamics with permanent decay or damage to specific parts of a system.  Entropy is not the same as decay or damage and an increase in entropy of a whole system does not necessitate damage or decay to all of its parts.

Instead of “entropic” I should have been more precise and used the word “irreversible.”  The irreversible processes that have to occur in living entities in order for living entities to continue to exist do result in an internal energy state configuration change from non-equilibrium to equilibrium that manifests as decay/damage/deterioration.

It isn’t like the ideal engines we learned about in school, the ones with no internal rireversibilities.  We made simplifying assumptions in school that allowed us to show that something like a diamond engine can be thermally and mechanically loaded and then it can be allowed to cool and then afterward its entropy can maybe be equal to what it was before it was loaded, only the environment is different.  In real life it isn’t like that. 

In reality, that thermal and mechanical loading is irreversibly transferred throughout that engine and that process is producing internal energy state configuration changes in that engine.  The bonds between all of its atoms are weakening over time as the engine’s internal energy disperses.  Eventually, after enough loading, that engine would suffer what is called “widespread fatigue damage” and break down.  Widespread fatigue damage/decay/deterioration is a manifestation of an entity’s entropy increase from irreversible changes in its internal energy state configuration.  It is a result of irreversible processes occurring in the entity.  It’s not wrong to classify damage/decay/deterioration as a source of entropy.  In an atomic/molecular context, entropy unsurprisingly is defined differently from how it’s defined macroscopically. At the atomic level, entropy is quantified by the number of equivalent energy microstates that characterize an entity’s macrostate.  Basically, this means the number of ways that energy can be distributed throughout a system in a particular macroscopic state.  A damaged/decayed/deteriorated entity which is closer to an equilibrium energy state configuration has a lot more ways that its internal energy can be distributed than an undamaged/undecayed/undeteriorated entity, i.e. a higher entropy.  So strictly speaking, entropy itself may not necessitate damage, decay, or deterioration, but the irreversible processes that result in damage, decay, or deterioration (which are a source of entropy) do necessitate it.  And in living entities, those irreversible processes have to continuously happen in order for you to exist from one moment to the next and all throughout your life.

In your example about muscles, it’s not just the food that becomes waste, the muscles themselves are changing over time in accordance with the irreversible processes they continuously have to undergo.  Even cell division is an example of an irreversible process that disperses a living entity’s energy.  Uncontrollable cell division, like cancer, is a little different from damage/decay/deterioration, but it also irreversibly changes a living entity’s energy state from non-equilibrium to equilibrium.  I came across an article that quoted an evolutionary biology professor named Joanna Masel.  She said this about aging and cancer:

Quote

Aging is mathematically inevitable — like, seriously inevitable, there's logically, theoretically, mathematically no way out.

Quote

Either all of your cells will continue to get more sluggish, or you'll get cancer.

So even a renewed cell is not necessarily a good thing.  And Nasif Nahle strongly emphasizes that living systems are not isolated systems.  He conceptualizes them as quasi-stable non-equilibrium open thermodynamic systems and he conceptualizes death as equilibrium.  And I’m not sure about this being a philosophical or technical issue but the philosophical significance I would attribute to it is this:  It is in the identity of the continuous irreversible processes that living beings have to undergo to change their energy state configuration from a non-equilibrium energy state configuration to an equilibrium energy state configuration over time. 

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Covalent bonds in organic molecules donor do not weaken over time.

 

I'm not going to argue for the sake of arguing.

18 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

In any case, to summarize our positions:

I claim, with the assistance of future technological or biological processes which could repair, heal, and renew cells, tissues, neurons etc. in an ongoing fashion, in principle, life could be extended indefinitely (on condition that there is available energy to fuel the life and the future technological and biological processes).

You claim, that in principle, life could not be so extended.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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I would ask everyone to consider the generative and regenerative power of the biological processes of life throughout the history of life on Earth. 

A new being is produced (in a single line of ancestry) every generation, going back to before humanity, to the mammals, to the reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates... etc.  you the reader is a direct descendant on that family tree of life which is continuous in time and space going back literally hundreds of millions of years in terms of vertebrates alone.  Every one of your ancestors going back to the fish) was physically borne of a mother or borne of an egg borne of a mother... and where fertilization was involved generated of a cell of a father physically put there.

Biological systems produced, new cells, through cell division or cell fusion (e.g. sperm and egg)... to grow and develop individual organisms over and over and over.  Every cell of your body has as its own ancestor, other cells, which had as its ancestors other cells .... to the cells of your parents, of their parents... of their parents.... new cells from other cells in an unbroken chain going back millions of years (at least).

Are your cells in any way "deteriorated" compared to the cell of your ancestor fish of 500 million years ago?  Are YOU somehow a degenerated version of that fish?   No.  You are healthier for life on Earth, more fit, and superior to that fish.  It is noted that you are different from that fish, but that is because the generative and regenerative power of life has been left to be guided by natural selection to produce new organisms rather than put to purposeful manmade use to extend the life of single organisms.  It's use (and modification perhaps HEAVY modification) would be a technological challenge... but not an impossibility.

 

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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Isn't it true that forces of nature have effects on the human body that cause negative results for life? This, I think, is what we mean by the deterioration of life. There is a period of initial growth to our full potential. Then it becomes a battle to maintain that full potential. In every case, however, we have lost the battle and deteriorated physically and/or mentally. I agree that through scientific advances we could extend our life, but wouldn't we have to radically change our form to avoid the negative effects on life due to forces like gravity that are beyond our control?

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