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Has Any Objectivist Intellectual Discussed This Topic in Depth?

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3 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

If you remove either the activity, or the resulting experience of determinate objects, you destroy both intelligence and nature.

(Nature here is used to mean: that which does not appear to be intelligent, dynamic or alive).

I partially disagree with this.

Consciousness has requirements, and if you remove the requirements, the consciousness no longer exists. However, nature does not require consciousness. It does not need anyone to be aware of it. It exists regardless of consciousness. So removing the requirements of consciousness does not destroy nature (or even affect it).

For example, nuclear fusion existed (e.g., in the sun) before it was discovered. It existed even though no one was aware of it. If civilization falls and people again become unaware of it, it will still exist.

The same thing is true of distant galaxies, neutrinos, and other discoveries.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Sounds like you're lying to your self. You obviously have a preferred understanding/explanation of it and it is probably far more firm and developed than you wish to admit. The depth of your inquiry shows it.

My inquiry hardly has the 'depth' that you mention. I'm actually merely presenting ideas from famous philosophers. It's not my understanding that's developed, it's the topic itself that has received a lot of development historically. If you read any material on this, you might change your mind about the 'depth' part.

My personal experience shows that as time passes, more and more insights develop from things I've studied or thought about in the past. I doubt this phenomenon will ever have an end. So I can almost guarantee that I am utterly unable to predict what will suddenly 'click' in my mind months from now, completely shaking off my previous assumptions.

This post I wrote a few months ago is the anthitesis of the ideas presented in this thread. There, I tried to give an O'ist rebuttal of idealism without using the cringe-worthy canned responses that O'ists like to repeat as if quoting from the Gospel.

1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

What is the definition of intelligence that is being used here? As in conscious intelligence.

Your body will heal your finger if you cut it, and will switch to burning stored fat if you starve it. This is an unconscious form of intelligence, different from the kind involved in planning your weekend.

1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

And why simply "appears to be" in the statement above? As in why not say "is alive".

If consciousness is an active and dynamic process, then all of your perceptions are infused with life, whether you're conscious of your own freedom, or of some dead object like the bed in your room. So if you postulate a self-sustaining, self-generated consciousness (which is not a by-product of something else), you can study its way of grasping things. For instance, to conceptualize your own freedom, you need a process of differentiation, i.e. a complementary grasp of what the alternative is (something completely unfree and subject to mechanism -> Nature).

Edited by KyaryPamyu
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56 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Your body will heal your finger if you cut it, and will switch to burning stored fat if you starve it. This is an unconscious form of intelligence, different from the kind involved in planning your weekend.

But this is ascribing intelligence to natural phenomena. Changes that occur to maintain equilibrium, or any reaction, any effect, can be seen as being a result of unconscious intelligence. Isn't that arbitrary? Also using occam's razor, what is the point of adding the intelligence factor when "it is what it is" suffices?

The question should come up "to what end?" What is the ultimate reason for the natural world? Why not accept that there is no non-arbitrary reason that is not false? And in the case of the arbitrary one, shouldn't it be ignored?

A plant growing toward the sun, a spider creating a web can be seen as living intelligence that is not of the human form. As if that kind of reaction/perception is infused with life. We have to be careful here or the metaphors will overwhelm us.

Reaction is not infused with life. Even perception in the sense of identification is not infused with life, as a light detector, or temperature gauge or any measurment device can be seen as intelligenty distinguishing stuff but it simply reacts to something.

Furthermore, isn't the final arbiter of human consciousness, the possession of freewill?

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

But this is ascribing intelligence to natural phenomena.

Intelligence is a natural phenomena. So is life.

You probably mean that not all goal-oriented action is volitional. That's true when talking about plants, but the philosophers I'm referencing don't use 'intelligence' as a synonym for volition. They measure goal-orientation in degrees, with rocks showing virtually none and volition being the most potent and developed form of goal-orientation.

1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Why not accept that there is no non-arbitrary reason that is not false?

This is probably obvious, but people don't typically adopt claims if they think they have no backing and evidence. This question is like saying "if you're homeless... why not buy a house!"

The whole scientific and philosophic enterprise consists of validating and proving things. Needless to say, philosophers tend to be a bit more meticulous than average. If they claim something that's non-intuitive, they probably have some good reason for it (and that reason is seldom nihilism, or similar :P )

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21 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:
1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

But this is ascribing intelligence to natural phenomena.

Intelligence is a natural phenomena. So is life.

But that would only imply that intelligence is a subspecies of natural phenomena. That does not mean that natural phenomena necessarily has a property ... which is intelligence. But that is metaphorical. Otherwise, the case is being made for God, or intelligent design and therefore purposeful. I see the psychological benefit, I simply don't have a way to prove such an intelligence.

 

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Like it or not, Easy Truth, intelligence and even information are held to be part of nature as well as part of the human psyche. There has been discussion on both terms here at OO. A lot rests on establishing the context to frame the understanding within. Once a usage of a term enters the language it can be difficult to withdraw it.

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Like it or not, Easy Truth, intelligence and even information are held to be part of nature as well as part of the human psyche. There has been discussion on both terms here at OO. A lot rests on establishing the context to frame the understanding within. Once a usage of a term enters the language it can be difficult to withdraw it.

But does intelligence being part of nature mean that nature is intelligent?

Nature simply is. 

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The bent of this conversation reminded me in some sense of the topics discussed on Lex Fridman's podcast #297 with Sara Walker and Lee Cronin. The episode is very long at 4+ hours and the title and main thrust of the 'debate' is centered on the search for life outside of Earth.

But what brought it to mind in the context of this thread was the description of "assembly theory" and the 'nature' of information and data along with 'encoding' of data/information. In a sense these discussions are more 'scientific' than 'philosophic' , but the hypothesis about matter and time feel more philosophic than not. The discussions also touch on some of the other topics in this vein of late eg complexity/emergence.

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Posted (edited)

About inspired writing sessions, Rand said:

Quote

You come to a scene and you feel as if somebody else is dictating it; you do not know what is coming, it is surprising you as it comes, you write almost in a blind trance—and afterward, when you reread it, it is almost perfect. You might need to change a few words, but the essence of the scene is there.

(Art of Fiction, ch. 1)

The credit for the 'almost perfect' scene obviously goes to intelligence, yet here she puts some stress on: not knowing what's coming; being surprised as it comes; feeling as if somebody else is dictating the text; and some 'blindness' being at play. This is not too far removed from what the Romantics referred to as an unconscious intelligence in the human psyche and in other organisms.

Edited by KyaryPamyu
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6 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

The credit for the 'almost perfect' scene obviously goes to intelligence, yet here she puts some stress on: not knowing what's coming; being surprised as it comes; feeling as if somebody else is dictating the text; and some 'blindness' being at play. This is not too far removed from what the Romantics referred to as an unconscious intelligence in the human psyche and in other organisms.

This is definitely a psychological context. The unconscious intelligence is in fact conscious in a way that is not current awareness or fully conscious/awake. This is different than the context where the definition of consciousness is "conscious of".

And yes, this psychological area was  very lightly touched on in Objectivism. It is in fact the weak underbelly of the philosophy. Branden was looking at it later in his career but he was not too good at it. This area is where neurosis and creativity lie and also psychological healing. What is described in the quote is the creative mechanism.

As another problem, I would add "happiness", is best defined in the psychological context too, since pursuit of it is so important in both politics and ethics.

I don't know what the name of the non-psychological context is, it may be the philosophical context, or the epistemological context or maybe it's simply a far more abstract context than psychology.
 

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1 hour ago, tadmjones said:

A philosophy with a weak underbelly sounds like it needs a lot of work and isn’t necessarily ready for prime time.

No, it's a weakness that allows for ambiguity in certain areas. But on the whole it answers most questions in a coherent manner and allows for exploration of the rest. The other issue is philosophical strategy, meaning what will you attack first and what will you ignore. She had to pick and choose what was most important to her. As in inference was left for later and apparently not examined as much as wanted.

1 hour ago, tadmjones said:

Was that why Branden was not very good at shoring it up ?

Well, he was kicked out but even if he had remained, the need to attack mysticism without exploring the subconscious can leave out technologies that can help. For instance paying attention to your emotions is an important ingredient in both one's mental health and in discerning some ethical behaviors as in the concentration camp guard that felt bad about what he was doing but did not pay attention to it.

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On 8/30/2022 at 12:48 AM, Easy Truth said:

But does intelligence being part of nature mean that nature is intelligent?

Nature simply is. 

The way I've tried to grasp them, intelligence carries a sense of causality, while information is more akin to identity. 

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3 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

The way I've tried to grasp them, intelligence carries a sense of causality, while information is more akin to identity. 

Exactly, and to ascribe causality or volition to identity is arbitrary. Like A is causing A to be the same as itself. What is the point of doing that? For psychological healing or poetic expression one may do something like that but in terms of exploring the truth, it's a poetic addition that is unnecessary.

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Exactly, and to ascribe causality or volition to identity is arbitrary

(In O'ism) causality means: the way a thing behaves is an aspect of what that thing is like. To illustrate this in the case of volition:

Identity -> the nervous system
Causality -> the nervous system is configured in a way that allows for self-regulation
Volition -> self-regulation is currently in use

'Identity' covers everything about the nervous system; 'causality' covers only one thing: that you can trace its behaviour back to its features.

Put differently, causality is to identity as 'jumping' is to kangaroos. There is no case where you are not 'ascribing' causality to identity, since causality is simply a narrow statement about identity.

2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

For psychological healing or poetic expression one may do something like that but in terms of exploring the truth, it's a poetic addition that is unnecessary.

Ascribing 'sober dryness' to truth is only proper if you've already bought into the premise that the way things actually are is not exciting, beautiful, cool etc.

Sure, if no human existed to evaluate an apple in relation to his goal of survival, then there would be no such thing as 'healthy', 'pleasant' etc. But introduce humans into the picture and things change. Now in addition to the fact that nature just is, there are additional facts such as 'nature is a nice/horrible place to be in - for humans'.

Value-judgements such as poetic and beautiful are not just BS imposed on the 'just-isness' of nature. Value-judgements identify true facts regarding a thing's effect on your survival.

For Rand, the two most basic value-judgemets for humans are: 'the world is good/bad', and 'I am good/bad'. The first, she called the benevolent/malevolent universe premise; the second, 'self-esteem' (I am capable or incapable to live in the universe).

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Subconscious processes are related to intelligence.  But automatic body processes carried on without using consciousness, such as healing or digestion, do not involve intelligence, although we might still use the word "intelligence" metaphorically.

There are at least two related, but distinct, senses of the word "information".  One is epistemological and relates to minds trying to understand existence.  The other is the technical sense in information theory, with applications to such areas as computing, genetics, and physics.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

Subconscious processes are related to intelligence.  But automatic body processes carried on without using consciousness, such as healing or digestion, do not involve intelligence, although we might still use the word "intelligence" metaphorically.

Let's start by accepting this premise, that automatic body processes, carried on without consciousness, do not involve intelligence.

The thing is, subconscious processes qualify as both 1) automatic body processes, and 2) carried on without consciousness (the sub in 'subconscious' is there precisely to indicate that the process is outside of conscious awareness).

If you take this in account, then

1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

Subconscious processes are related to intelligence

does not hold true under your own premise. 

You can indirectly control the subconscious mind, e.g. give it a problem to solve and the solution might 'pop' in your conscious awareness later. But you can also indirectly control other automatic body processes, such as your heartbeat. Just imagine a stressful situation and you'll notice that your heart speeds up.

You can argue that the conscious mind is like a CEO who delegates lots of complex tasks to his employee, Mr. Subconscious. The boss can then revise the employee's work, but claiming that the employee did not use intelligence to complete his work seems to contradict the results.

Edited by KyaryPamyu
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 How do we describe information conveyance between non-conscious entities, eg in the bodily processes of healing a wound, the skin cells are 'programmed' to grow until they encounter another like cell . The trigger mechanism is the information that the prior adjacent cell is no longer present and growth is stimulated until the information that adjacent cells are again present triggers the growth to stop.

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, tadmjones said:

How do we describe information conveyance between non-conscious entities

This depends on whether all non-conscious entities convey information in the same manner, or if there are differences between them in this regard.

Note that the body tissue responsible for the subconscious mind might also interact with other non-conscious entities in the body.

If talking specifically about subconscious processes, then I do not consider the process of spitting out an Atlas scene the same as:

31 minutes ago, tadmjones said:

the skin cells are 'programmed' to grow until they encounter another like cell .

Edited by KyaryPamyu
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4 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Identity' covers everything about the nervous system; 'causality' covers only one thing: that you can trace its behaviour back to its features.

Agreed.

4 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Identity -> the nervous system

okay.

4 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Causality -> the nervous system is configured in a way that allows for self-regulation

okay.

4 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Volition -> self-regulation is currently in use

No, it has to be way beyond self regulation although right this second I don't know how to identify volition in an entity. But I can identify self regulation, as in: simple regaining equilibrium in with regards to inanimate objects could qualify. Does a spider have volition? But does it self regulate? yes.

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1 hour ago, KyaryPamyu said:

This depends on whether all non-conscious entities convey information in the same manner, or if there are differences between them in this regard.

Note that the body tissue responsible for the subconscious mind might also interact with other non-conscious entities in the body.

If talking specifically about subconscious processes, then I do not consider the process of spitting out an Atlas scene the same as:

I agree , my  point  or question was whether DM’s list of information types was exhaustive . I should have quoted the post .

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I need to modify my statement.

Subconscious processes are related to intelligence.  But automatic body processes carried on without using consciousness or its creations, such as healing or digestion, do not involve intelligence, although we might still use the word "intelligence" metaphorically.

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4 hours ago, tadmjones said:

 How do we describe information conveyance between non-conscious entities, eg in the bodily processes of healing a wound, the skin cells are 'programmed' to grow until they encounter another like cell . The trigger mechanism is the information that the prior adjacent cell is no longer present and growth is stimulated until the information that adjacent cells are again present triggers the growth to stop.

Should we call this "information"?  If a barrier between a volume of vacuum and a volume of gas is removed, resulting in flow of the gas into the former vacuum until it reaches another barrier, should we say that involves "information"?

 

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1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

Should we call this "information"?  If a barrier between a volume of vacuum and a volume of gas is removed, resulting in flow of the gas into the former vacuum until it reaches another barrier, should we say that involves "information"?

 

Cosmologists do describe that scenario as containing information. If I understand their meaning , discrete entities emit information in their existential being their identity. Entities such as matter can change form but not be made nonexistent, the resultant parts still exist and so does the information .

Matter can’t ‘escape’ a black hole but the information of that matter can, or is theorized to be able to.

I’m not sure that necessarily corresponds to the living cells reacting to information and the action of the gas molecules pursuing an equilibrium, but maybe ?

Edited by tadmjones
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