Re: Objective versus subjective reality: which is primary?

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Tue Jul 19 2005 - 09:24:29 MDT

How very strange it feels, to read an obviously intelligent and
carefully thought out train of thought--and to have it seem so
inside-out. I have been interested for many years in understanding how
to encompass both points of view in order to achieve more effective
cooperation between the two camps.

Ben, I agree with you that an understanding of the relationship between
subjective and objective points of view is essential for a coherent
understanding of the nature of consciousness (and "self", "qualia",
"free will" and "morality") and is therefore relevant to this list.

Your usage of the term "primary" may add some confusion to this
discussion, but also may hint at the actual crux of the matter. Saying
something is "primary", meaning first, is not necessarily the same as
saying it is more /fundamental/ or that that it is more /encompassing/,
in terms of explanatory capability. I would certainly agree though,
that to any of us subjective selves, our subjective experience is
primary in terms of /immediacy/. This would seem to make the awareness
of logical contradiction, as with awareness of any kind, "primary" from
a subjective point of view.

But when we consider which point of view provides the greatest
explanatory capability (even for subjective concepts such as values), a
more objective view provides both the advantage of greater detail as you
pointed out, but similarly provides the advantage of the bigger picture
where multiple subjective views combine to cancel out those observations
which don't match their external reality and to reinforce those parts of
individual subjective models which more closely match their external
environment. Overall, an increasingly bigger view of thing tends to
increasingly approximate what works and is thus considered more correct.

What more is there to say?

- Jef

Ben Goertzel wrote:

>This brief, informal philosophical essay (on the relative primacy of
>objective vs. subjective reality) may serve to annoy objectivists and
>empiricists on this list:
>Warning: the essay is not about technology hardly at all. But I guess that
>issues of the nature of reality are relevant to the Singularity. Since one
>of the key aspects of the Singularity is that reality as we know it may
>cease to exist, it seems relevant and worthwhile to think about the extent
>to which reality exists in the first place.... (And it turns out that, in
>my experience, this kind of deep philosophical exploration is actually often
>useful for guiding scientific thinking about concrete and important topics
>in AI and cognitive psychology....)
>-- Ben G

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