RE: Books on rationality... uh, Philosophy?

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Jun 09 2002 - 17:14:36 MDT

Thanks to Martin Moore for attempting to change the subject
of this thread to something more appropriate. I find the
level of the SL4 threads to be extremely thoughtful and
sophisticated, so am disappointed that sometimes no effort
is made to spawn appropriate headers.

Ben writes

> What is most interesting to me in late 19'th century & 20'th century
> philosophy is the attempt to forge a middle way between shallow, naive
> rationalism/empiricism (which holds there is a single objective reality, and
> a single right answer to every question)

While rationalism/empiricism (which I might have called
scientific materialism) does conjecture that there is a
single objective reality, it hardly maintains that there
is necessarily a single right answer to every question.

Elsewhere I thought that you wrote (but perhaps it was
someone else) that we could all be talking about the
same thing, but using different terms (and perhaps 
different concepts).  Yes, it should be possible even
starting from a solipsist POV that having a *model* of
an objective reality would be very practical, and 
certainly could not be dismissed out of hand as an
Specifically, where do you find fault with the conjecture
that there is a material universe "out there" and that we
are evolved creatures within it?  (Pace your raising the
issue of our brains being in vats in Moscow or are
emulated in a simulation---see below.)
> Perhaps our communication is getting tangled up in the
> various shades of meaning of words like "objective reality."
Perhaps.  But (again speaking from the POV that starts with
our own subjectivity) *objective reality* begins with the
claim that the galaxies, stars, and our own Milky Way
galaxy exist independently of Earth life's evolved attempts
to learn about them.  David Deutsch, in whose PCR and objective
camp I'm squarely in (see his brilliant "The Fabric of Reality")
extends this basic claim to:  there is a multiverse.
To address, I think, some of these questions you also wrote:
> And how do you know there IS any material substrate?  How do you know you're
> not in a simulation right now, which is running in another simulation, which
> is running in another simulation?  You can't.  The best you can do is have
> faith.
Faith?  Why, no.  It's entirely possible that *this* is a simulation,
although the point is seldom made that *this* as a pointer may have
more than one referent.  Evidence seems to indicate that the multiverse
is real, and so *this* evaluates to both the simulations in some
universes and an original material evolution from a big bang in others.
> This is elementary stuff, but realist philosophers don't seem to get it.
Realist philosophers going all the way back to J. J. C. Smart have 
dealt quite adequately with hypotheses that our brains are in vats.
> This kind of denial of the obvious reminds me of religious doctrines,
> which is why realist philosophy often reminds me of a religion.
Well ;-)  this realist is quite prepared to listen to any evidence
that surfaces that *this* is also a simulation.  I support efforts
to look for such efforts, e.g. GUT theories like Fredkin's.  Indeed
I do think it likely that *this* evaluates to a simulation as well
as to the several original material instantiations.
Lee Corbin

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