Saturday, April 20, 2013

Objective vs Subjective and Miscellaneity

There are a few common misconceptions I would like to address...

This objective/subjective confusion is rampant, but they are not a dichotomy, they are not opposites, they are not mutually exclusive, they are two different levels of description.

The subjective exists, it has an objective reality. We can observe it and measure it to varying degrees. Not perfectly but our tools are rapidly improving. The difficulty or even impossibility of teleporting your brain states onto my brain so I can experience them is just a physical difficulty (and one of complexity).

Sure, Pain IS subjective, your brain takes in your entire sensorium and makes a calculated inference if it should signal pain or not - it can also be easily fooled. But this process is taking place in an objective reality, we can trace the signals into the brain and see the brain processing them and responding to them. 'Blue' is a description of a brain state that exists in objective reality, it doesn't even matter if our experience of 'blue' is different, it points to the same underlying physical phenomena and it takes place in an objective sense. Just because brains can be in states that do not point to some physical phenomena doesn't mean the experience isn't objectively taking place. One is the Map, the other is the Territory. The Map also exists, but we shouldn't confuse the two.

The 'addition' taking place in the following video is objective, despite the dominoes not knowing anything about mathematics themselves:

Scale that up a trillion fold and that is exactly what your brain is doing, physically and electrochemically, it is performing computation.

The evidence suggests that, for neuro-similar people, our subjective experiences are very similar -- and for neurologically divergent people, their subjective experiences are different. Someone with tetrachromacy has a subjectively different experience of 'color' than people with 2 or 3 pigments. But for trichromates, with otherwise similar brains, their experience of 'blue' and 'happy' and 'pain' are correspondingly similar both in terms of brain states and as described subjectively. When someone is neurologically dissimilar their descriptions of experiences differ from others (e.g., reports of synesthetes). Incidences of brain damage give us sometimes profound insights into the subjective impact of the physical brain. Our sense of empathy presumes and works because of these correspondences, it picks up on a multitude of cues and can closely reproduce the brain states of another person in the subject, giving us some ability to 'know' what others are experiencing.

But this doesn't mean that what you 'feel' maps to objective reality, that isn't a necessary property of existing objectively.

The link that @GSpellChecker gave is evidence of this ability to measure the 'subjective':

Fine-tuning is an appeal to ignorance (we don't know the range of possible physics so this cannot be measured), but we're going to conclude God did it anyway.

Objective morality hasn't been established and Euthyphro represents a huge challenge to the presumption of a God, even if we could establish Objective morality. This claim is especially funny coming the person who denies the objective reality of our subjective experiences of 'pain' and 'blue'.

Cosmological arguments are a combination of begging the question and arguments from ignorance and, at best, only establish a 'first-cause' for our universe. This is typically followed by a long line of fallacies and appeals to claim this cause is willful, intelligent, loving, and every other property they wish to attribute to their god, but it's Philosophical garbage. But the fundamental issue is that the premises of the Cosmological arguments are presumed on ignorance.

First of all, @GSpellChecker said it was 'not a credible scientific claim'. This is correct and the later claim that this doesn't mean something isn't true is a complete non sequitur to the point made. This goes back to the whole fundamental purpose of scientific investigation. Yes, there could be a China Teapot in orbit around Mars but our conclusions are not better off for having made them up. If you want to demonstrate that the China Teapot is actually there you need to make a series of falsifiable claims that establish this (they would need to give a signal characteristic of a teapot and be sufficient to distinguish the measurements from other possibilities). Until you can do this then the claim remains in contention.

The problem is that there are a infinite number of completely absurd claims that might be true, we must have some filter.

I address the second prong of this in my post Where do you find 'love' in the brain?

No, it was indicated as a necessary component of a physical model that predicted it would exist and if it didn't exist then the model was wrong.

But again, there are an infinite number of possible absurd 'gods' and 'teapots', there is no predictive model that suggests one is necessary.

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