Philosophical assumptions (was RE: Books on rationality)

From: mike99 (
Date: Sun Jun 09 2002 - 21:06:01 MDT

I wrote:
> Let it suffice to say for now that, regardless of the aesthetic or
> philosophical value you may place on existentialist and post-modernist
> writings, I presume that in your work-a-day life as project
> leader in charge
> of building a god-like artificial superintelligence, you of necessity must
> assume, at least for heuristic purposes, that a material, logically
> consistent, objective reality exists. At least, that would seem prudent to
> me! If I'm wrong and you do presume a relativist, subjectivist, variable
> "reality" (Don't the po-mo's always put that term in problematic quotation
> marks?) then please tell us more about that.

Ben replied:
I never do find it necessary to assume that a material, logically
consistent, objective reality exists, no.

I assume that

1) my subjective reality has certain properties of persistence and
consistency over time

2) this subjective reality of mine has other beings in it (e.g. my
collaborators) whom I can usefully modeled as if *they* have their own
subjective realities, which intersect substantially with mine (though not
necessarily agreeing with mine precisely).

These are the minimal pragmatic assumptions I need to make to proceed with
my life, so they are the assumptions I habitually make.

And this is not just abstract mumbo-jumbo -- this is *really* how I
feel/think about the world. It seems to serve me OK.

Is this identical to what you mean by assuming a "material, logically
consistent objective reality." I don't think so....

But nor is it identical to nihilistically assuming nothing at all.

-- Ben G

Thanks for clearing that up! As you said Ben, your assumptions are not
identical to what I mean by a material, logically consistent objective
reality. In practice though, I don't think they are inconsistent with my
meaning either if one judges by the effects of our respective assumptions
about reality (subjective or objective) have on individual behavior.

The way you function in the world is not inconsistent with there being a
material, logically consistent objective reality. You merely choose not to
make the assumption that there is such a thing. But neither do you
"nihilistically assum[e] nothing at all." So, to me, our respective
assumptions about reality amount to personal preferences that affect nothing
in the world except our opinions about. It seems to me that your assumption
about your subjective reality exhibiting "persistence and consistency over
time" yields the same operational behaviors on your part as the assumption
that reality of whatever flavor is law-bound, logical and unaffected our
wishes about it except insofar as wishes lead to action.

Mike LaTorra

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