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#96- The Nature of Consciousness A Conversation with Thomas Metzinger

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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10 September 2017 16:13
 

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Thomas Metzinger about the scientific and experiential understanding of consciousness. They also talk about the significance of WWII for the history of ideas, the role of intuition in science, the ethics of building conscious AI, the self as an hallucination, how we identify with our thoughts, attention as the root of the feeling of self, the place of Eastern philosophy in Western science, and the limitations of secular humanism.

#96- The Nature of Consciousness A Conversation with Thomas Metzinger

This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
dhave
 
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10 September 2017 19:48
 

You never really know, an intelligent fellow says he’s been meditating for 41 years, yet you sense he is just talking about selflessness.  I don’t know.  Just don’t know.

I think Thomas has many compelling points and look forward to reading his ego book.  The comment near the end about him doubting that 80% of the population will ever get the sophisticated rational issues we are discussing stands out.  It reminds me of posters who wonder why we are talking about all this heady stuff when people Still don’t have enough to eat.  Are we in denial?

The comment that Buddhist communities are in denial of death seems odd.  Not sure which ones he visited but, from my experience, dedicated practitioners, at least in Tibetan traditions, spend Much of their time contemplating death, actually going to graveyards (it gets a bit weird), these practices work with the fact of impermanence and serve as motivators.

Regards,
Dave.

 
 
Saint Ralph
 
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11 September 2017 02:08
 

Wow, guys, what a dreary discussion.  At least toward the end there.  If the point of existence was solely further existence, yes, we might want to end it all, or our faithful super-intelligent “servants” might conclude that the moral thing to do would be to end it for us.  David Benatar wrote a book, “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence,” back in ‘08 that was even drearier than your discussion, concluding that we should close the human race like a failed business, and go home.  His premise was that, even in what we call exemplary lives, there is, on balance, more suffering than happiness and if we can’t end up in the black on the happiness/suffering ledger, even when we do everything right, then we have lost the war against suffering and we need to check out—and for God’s sake don’t bring anyone else into this horror.  What we miss is that never-ending existence and lack of suffering are NOT the point and never were.  They seem to be, because, as you say, we are programmed to promote our continued existence and fix whatever’s bothering us at any cost.  But . . .

The point of existence, gentlemen, has always been ENTERTAINMENT.  Seriously: entertainment.  That’s why we’ll watch “Leave It To Beaver” and “Schindler’s List” and enjoy them both.  Suffering is part of the show.  Yes, it’s ugly, and yes, you needn’t be told to avoid it at all costs.  That happens reflexively all by itself.  The kind of suffering the Buddha came to end, or at least ameliorate, is the self-imposed suffering we indulge in by grabbing for shiny objects and not catching hold of them.  That sort of suffering can be greatly reduced by devaluing shiny objects in our minds.  You don’t feel bad about missing the brass ring if you didn’t want it in the first place.  In the end, the Zen master realizes that he never suffered anyway because none of the components of his suffering—self, body, oppressors, disease, misfortune, whatever—ever existed.  It was all part of the show.

And puh-leeeeze don’t go immolating the planet to alleviate the suffering of beetles being eaten daily by chameleons in Madagascar.  Wildlife is wildlife and it’s part of the show, already.  To think you need to put the entire planet out of its misery is to misunderstand life entirely; it’s to assume that the world—the universe—is somehow wrong.  It’s not.  It is far, far less likely to be wrong than you are to be wrong about it.

Some complain that calling entertainment the whole point of existence implies an Entertainer and/or an Audience and, in the ultra-orthodox, super-devout Atheist world we claim to live in there simply isn’t room for either one, or any intelligence of any kind, for that matter.  Fret not.  There IS an entertainer AND an audience, but there is nothing supernatural required: you are sitting on their asses or standing in their shoes as you read this.

Embrace the Void, y’all!

[ Edited: 12 September 2017 12:30 by Saint Ralph]
 
 
Probus
 
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11 September 2017 04:52
 

Fascinating conversation. I found Thomas Metzinger’s thought experiment quite intriguing. The idea that a super-intelligence might come to the conclusion that humanity is better off dead, is actually somewhat related to the Buddhist concept of Nirvana. Is it a coincidence that most of the Eastern traditions (who focus more on introspection, than rationality and intellectual conversation) seem to regard life as mainly a source of suffering from which we need to detach ourselves. Their concept of the ideal state of existence, is actually not very different from non-existence. Compare the concept of Nirvana with for example the Christian idea of heaven.

This makes me wonder, whether meditative introspection taken to the extreme might literally be a self-defeating exercise. In other words, existence itself might seem trivial or even counter-productive. Not in a traditional suicidal way, but more like the way a super-intelligence would not hesitate to turn itself off. If Thomas Metzinger is right that the self is basically the only thing that strives for existence, then humans venturing too deep into the selfless aspects of our consciousness might actually lead to extinction.

[ Edited: 11 September 2017 04:54 by Probus]
 
NL.
 
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11 September 2017 07:02
 

Maybe I’m projecting, but I felt a certain kinship with Thomas in that he appeared to be haunted in the same way I sometimes feel haunted. For him, it happened when he climbed to that upper bookshelf, for me, I think it happened on my first retreat, but same subjective end result. Imagine you move to a faraway, distant land - service work or research in a remote area, space travel, however you want to frame it - and you live in physical circumstances that, to your mind at least, are relatively good. I’m not talking about nirvana, I mean an average life - perhaps you’re happy, perhaps you’re a bit morose, perhaps you’re neurotic, but however you are, you go about your life in a relatively stable manner.


And then one day you get a letter from back home informing you that your entire family is being held and tortured in the most devastating ways. In fact, they are continuously killed and brought back to life just so that they can be tortured again. They are being torn to shreds by tigers, beaten in hidden prisons by tyrannical governments, dying of excruciating cancers, and every other horror you can think of. Not only that, but it has been going on for years while you were gone - in the past, they are being slowly crushed with rocks and burned alive as people jeered and spit on them for being witches. They were stretched on racks for running away as slaves, or had their eyes cut out in medieval dungeons over petty disputes.


Again, imagine that is your actual family (and friends, let’s say,) that all this is happening to. Nothing physically in your current life has changed. Arguably, 99.99% of your mental life is the same as well - you have just added a single train of thought to the system. But how would you feel, if this really happened? In the end, when Harris said “Ah, well, we could just wish the animals well as we left” (and, presumably, any hypothetical sentience on other planets that we don’t know about,) my thought is - would you say that if it was one of your kids? If you got to take 99% of the people in your life - family, friends, acquaintances, fans, colleagues, educators, and so on - to absolutely unknown depths of well-being and joy, but you had to leave behind one of your kids? Would you say “Well, sorry honey, the math works out, you can see there is infinitely more well-being over here than your miserable fate over here. Good luck!”. There is something in that equation that simply can’t be quantified in statistics and proportions. 


On the other hand, I did think Thomas kind of avoided (as I assume he’s heard of it,) the fact that in Buddhism craving for non existence is also a no-no. Presumably wiser people, who understood more, had their reasons for that.

 
 
dhave
 
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11 September 2017 08:32
 
Probus - 11 September 2017 04:52 AM

Fascinating conversation. I found Thomas Metzinger’s thought experiment quite intriguing. The idea that a super-intelligence might come to the conclusion that humanity is better off dead, is actually somewhat related to the Buddhist concept of Nirvana. Is it a coincidence that most of the Eastern traditions (who focus more on introspection, than rationality and intellectual conversation) seem to regard life as mainly a source of suffering from which we need to detach ourselves. Their concept of the ideal state of existence, is actually not very different from non-existence. Compare the concept of Nirvana with for example the Christian idea of heaven.

Hmm..  Try Nagarjuna for some rational and intellectual conversation; he was famous for frustrating the cr*p out of debaters.  Gelugpa’s start with years of study in logic and debate before they introduce meditation.  Other schools start with meditation.

I wouldn’t say the goal is to “detach from life”, that’s dissociation, an identity disorder.  The goal is to first notice and then to let go of grasping, grasping for the idea of inherent existence (of anything), grasping to keep your sh*t together, to keep your new car from being dented.  It is this grasping that leads to the suffering part and, if the super-computer were really smart, it would get this and devise novel methods to wake people up rather than giving up and flipping the power switch.

This makes me wonder, whether meditative introspection taken to the extreme might literally be a self-defeating exercise. In other words, existence itself might seem trivial or even counter-productive. Not in a traditional suicidal way, but more like the way a super-intelligence would not hesitate to turn itself off. If Thomas Metzinger is right that the self is basically the only thing that strives for existence, then humans venturing too deep into the selfless aspects of our consciousness might actually lead to extinction.

It would have killed us eons ago if it did not work pretty damn well.

Survival instinct is genetic, everywhere, self-awareness is a fun new add-on.

Regards,
Dave.

 

 
 
Probus
 
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11 September 2017 08:38
 
NL. - 11 September 2017 07:02 AM

If you got to take 99% of the people in your life - family, friends, acquaintances, fans, colleagues, educators, and so on - to absolutely unknown depths of well-being and joy, but you had to leave behind one of your kids? Would you say “Well, sorry honey, the math works out, you can see there is infinitely more well-being over here than your miserable fate over here. Good luck!”. There is something in that equation that simply can’t be quantified in statistics and proportions.

I don’t see that as a problem with statistics or proportions. I think it has more to do, with all the inherent biases that occupy the human mind. A clear sign that I’m biased, is when the validity of a moral argument seems to completely change the moment you insert “my own child” into the equation.

On the other hand, I did think Thomas kind of avoided (as I assume he’s heard of it,) the fact that in Buddhism craving for non existence is also a no-no. Presumably wiser people, who understood more, had their reasons for that.

Well, if Buddhist craved for non-existence we would most likely have no Buddhist around anymore. That said, there is a undeniable similarity between the concept of Nirvana and non-existence. It’s also clear that Buddhist traditionally consider life a source of suffering and that the road to “salvation” is to gradually detach ourselves from the world. Of course, you can’t just commit suicide. There is a protocol for how this process is to be completed. Nonetheless, the end result seem to be non-existence. I would challenge any Buddhist to explain in a coherent way how Nirvana is any different from a universe void of consciousness.

 
Probus
 
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11 September 2017 09:01
 
dhave - 11 September 2017 08:32 AM

I wouldn’t say the goal is to “detach from life”, that’s dissociation, an identity disorder.  The goal is to first notice and then to let go of grasping, grasping for the idea of inherent existence (of anything), grasping to keep your sh*t together, to keep your new car from being dented.  It is this grasping that leads to the suffering part and, if the super-computer were really smart, it would get this and devise novel methods to wake people up rather than giving up and flipping the power switch.

If Nirvana (or some similar concept) is the ultimate goal… then I think it’s fair to say that the ultimate goal is detachment from life as we know it (or the physical world if you like). Incarnation seem to be nothing but a process towards this goal. For most Buddhists, it might be about letting go of grasping… but, isn’t that because they are still on a very basic level of their journey towards Nirvana. I can’t see how you could ever reach Nirvana, without detaching yourself from the world we live in.

Survival instinct is genetic, everywhere, self-awareness is a fun new add-on.

Nonetheless, suicide one of the leading causes of death in the western world. In other words it’s clear that this “new add-on”  can drastically change a persons behavior to the point of actively defeating even our most basic instincts. Hence, I don’t find it hard to imagine that meditation could possibly override primal features like the survival instinct. So far, only a selected few (usually monks) have been able to devote their lives to meditation and introspection. It’s not hard to imagine a future, where most people have more spare time than they know how to spend. In such a world, who knows where the human psyche might wander.

[ Edited: 11 September 2017 09:04 by Probus]
 
dhave
 
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11 September 2017 09:06
 

Oh dear, I really need to get back to work.  One more.

Probus - 11 September 2017 08:38 AM
NL. - 11 September 2017 07:02 AM

On the other hand, I did think Thomas kind of avoided (as I assume he’s heard of it,) the fact that in Buddhism craving for non existence is also a no-no. Presumably wiser people, who understood more, had their reasons for that.

Well, if Buddhist craved for non-existence we would most likely have no Buddhist around anymore. That said, there is a undeniable similarity between the concept of Nirvana and non-existence. It’s also clear that Buddhist traditionally consider life a source of suffering and that the road to “salvation” is to gradually detach ourselves from the world. Of course, you can’t just commit suicide. There is a protocol for how this process is to be completed. Nonetheless, the end result seem to be non-existence. I would challenge any Buddhist to explain in a coherent way how Nirvana is any different from a universe void of consciousness.

Yes, NL, craving for Nirvana is also grasping.  In fact, both Nirvana and Samsara are empty so there is ultimately nothing to grab even though they are quite different relatively speaking.

Protus, do dogs exist?  The best explanation I’ve heard for why dolphins like to jump out of the water is that it is “fun”.  Are they dead?

So Buddhism had stages.  First there was Hinayana, the “smaller vehicle”, and monks would try to achieve nirvana and get the hell off the planet.

Then there was Mahayana, or “great vehicle”, the legendary Bodhisattva role model, where you don’t get to leave until you get everyone else off the planet.  So the Bodhisattva is very much In The World, helping to relieve suffering where she can.

Then there was a third major category, you can look it up.

Waking up is the opposite of non-existence.  You will laugh heartily when you forget your name.  Hell is right here, sometimes a nightmare, we might call that not really existing, not really who you are, not really alive.

Regards,
Dave.

 

[ Edited: 11 September 2017 16:09 by dhave]
 
 
dhave
 
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11 September 2017 10:33
 

One more quickie, then I’ll shut up, I swear to God.

Probus - 11 September 2017 09:01 AM
dhave - 11 September 2017 08:32 AM

Survival instinct is genetic, everywhere, self-awareness is a fun new add-on.

Nonetheless, suicide one of the leading causes of death in the western world. In other words it’s clear that this “new add-on”  can drastically change a persons behavior to the point of actively defeating even our most basic instincts. Hence, I don’t find it hard to imagine that meditation could possibly override primal features like the survival instinct. So far, only a selected few (usually monks) have been able to devote their lives to meditation and introspection. It’s not hard to imagine a future, where most people have more spare time than they know how to spend. In such a world, who knows where the human psyche might wander.

You have a vivid imagination.  Dude, the reason you want to commit suicide is because you cannot stand being your “self,” but there isn’t one.  Kapeesh?

There are different types of teachers, different strokes for different folks I guess.

Some teachers are sweet, full of compassion, soothing your concerns and reassuring you that the practice will relieve these troubles.

Other teachers, rude boys, take the opposite approach when you tell them how hard it is to go on, what with your girlfriend leaving, being dissed on twitter, and the cat continuing to crap on the bed.  In an effort to explode the narrative, they might ask earnestly if you have considered suicide.  Yikes!

Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 percent
Of everything you think
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself—-
And there isn’t one.
—Wei Wu Wei

Regards,
Dave.

 
 
NL.
 
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11 September 2017 12:08
 
Probus - 11 September 2017 08:38 AM

I don’t see that as a problem with statistics or proportions. I think it has more to do, with all the inherent biases that occupy the human mind. A clear sign that I’m biased, is when the validity of a moral argument seems to completely change the moment you insert “my own child” into the equation.


Just so I’m clear on your position - are you saying that Harris would be a better person if he took a deal wherein he could condemn one of his children to years of torment, so that he and a large group of other people could go experience unparalleled bliss, if the bliss to suffering ration was sufficiently high? I’m asking earnestly - I mean obviously this would make him a horrible dad, but you think this is what’s required of him to be, in an ethical sense, a good person?


Some people do see utilitarianism in this way, and it’s difficult to refute questions like this with anything but dueling subjective intuitions (i.e., even if you use well-being as a measure, what should the distribution of well-being be - extreme happiness for a few that outweighs the misery of many, vs. mild unhappiness for everyone, etc. - which variables are you giving the most weight to in those calculations), but first I want to make sure I understand you correctly. (To be clear, I disagree with your assessment, at least as a one-sided factor. Humanity has always balanced utilitarianism with idealism but just because there is dynamic tension there, I don’t think that means we should do away with idealism, in fact, I think we’d be some dystopian version of The Obsolete Man without it. To some degree, I think the idealistic side means we have to recognize any individual consciousness as infinitely valuable in its own right, and you cannot compare measures of different infinities with less / more measures.)

Well, if Buddhist craved for non-existence we would most likely have no Buddhist around anymore. That said, there is a undeniable similarity between the concept of Nirvana and non-existence. It’s also clear that Buddhist traditionally consider life a source of suffering and that the road to “salvation” is to gradually detach ourselves from the world. Of course, you can’t just commit suicide. There is a protocol for how this process is to be completed. Nonetheless, the end result seem to be non-existence. I would challenge any Buddhist to explain in a coherent way how Nirvana is any different from a universe void of consciousness.


This is where Buddhism gets more into the metaphysical, to my mind - so I think you could argue that you think their position is incoherent (the whole ‘it’s beyond words’ thing does, after all, have to be taken on faith, and I’m not going to pretend it’s something that I personally understand, although I have some faith that understanding is possible there,) but just as an academic note, in Buddhism the stated position is very much that annihilationism and the craving for it (Vibhava-tanha is the name, if I Googled correctly, ha ha!) are ‘wrong view’.

[ Edited: 11 September 2017 12:24 by NL.]
 
 
Probus
 
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11 September 2017 13:33
 
NL. - 11 September 2017 12:08 PM

Just so I’m clear on your position - are you saying that Harris would be a better person if he took a deal wherein he could condemn one of his children to years of torment, so that he and a large group of other people could go experience unparalleled bliss, if the bliss to suffering ration was sufficiently high? I’m asking earnestly - I mean obviously this would make him a horrible dad, but you think this is what’s required of him to be, in an ethical sense, a good person?

I think it’s important to distinguish between morality in the objective and the subjective sense. We accept that individuals have biases. In some sense, we even regard these biases as good or at least an inherent part of what it means to be human. One of these biases, is that we accept that parents care more about their own children than other children. At the same time, we realize that we need other moral guidelines when dealing with societies or the world as a whole. If there’s a fire, we generally accept that a father will save his own child first. If that father was a professional firefighter the situation would be more complex. If the people in charge of the fire department made rules that relatives and friends should always be saved first in the event of a fire, I think most of us would find such rules unacceptable. At least, from a utilitarian perspective there is no conflict between these two perspective. As long as humans are governed by primal instincts and biases we can’t ignore them when having moral discussions. If we would demonize a father for saving his son, simply because it might be considered immoral in the objective sense, then from an utilitarian perspective it would only create more suffering in society. In a world filled with completely rational agents, we would not have to make a distinction between the subjective and the objective… but, we don’t live in such a world and any rational moral framework has to take into account the reality we are living in.

Some people do see utilitarianism in this way, and it’s difficult to refute questions like this with anything but dueling subjective intuitions (i.e., even if you use well-being as a measure, what should the distribution of well-being be - extreme happiness for a few that outweighs the misery of many, vs. mild unhappiness for everyone, etc. - which variables are you giving the most weight to in those calculations), but first I want to make sure I understand you correctly. (To be clear, I disagree with your assessment, at least as a one-sided factor. Humanity has always balanced utilitarianism with idealism but just because there is dynamic tension there, I don’t think that means we should do away with idealism, in fact, I think we’d be some dystopian version of The Obsolete Man without it. To some degree, I think the idealistic side means we have to recognize any individual consciousness as infinitely valuable in its own right, and you cannot compare measures of different infinities with less / more measures.)

Utilitarianism is often portrayed as this purely rational moral framework void of all emotional or intuitive variables. From my perspective, that is a straw man. As I explained above, you can’t construct a utilitarian argument without taking into account the human condition and what it means to be a human being (with all our flaws and biases). Yes, measuring well-being is hard. Yes, it’s hard to balance well-being against suffering. It’s easy to point at complex moral dilemmas, and draw the conclusion that utilitarians don’t have any straight answers. That is not necessarily a bad thing, from my perspective. I’m much more vary of moral frameworks that claim to have straight answers to complex dilemmas. This is the problem with idealism, from my perspective. You can answer almost any question based on a particular ideology, but at what cost? When we look at history, too much reason has not been the problem. Idealism and ideologies are what has caused truly monstrous moral frameworks in the past. Do people exploit utilitarianism? Absolutely. But, that’s just because it’s such an effective form of moral reasoning. I would suggest, it’s really the only valid form of moral reasoning (from a rational perspective). I’ve never heard people criticize utilitarian moral arguments when they are in line with preconceived moral conceptions. What I have seen though, is people exploiting pseudo-utilitarian arguments to defend moral conceptions that are actually based on ideology or idealism.

At least, this is my perspective. Perhaps other proponents of utilitarianism would disagree.

This is where Buddhism gets more into the metaphysical, to my mind - so I think you could argue that you think their position is incoherent (the whole ‘it’s beyond words’ thing does, after all, have to be taken on faith, and I’m not going to pretend it’s something that I personally understand, although I have some faith that understanding is possible there,) but just as an academic note, in Buddhism the stated position is very much that annihilationism and the craving for it (Vibhava-tanha is the name, if I Googled correctly, ha ha!) are ‘wrong view’.

I guess you are right. It might be due to ignorance, but I often find it hard to understand what practitioners of Eastern religions mean. What sounds like wisdom to them sounds like blatant contradictions to me, haha smile  That’s why I love mindfulness. I get the “good stuff”, without having to trouble my mind with all the metaphysics…

 
JT91
 
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11 September 2017 14:13
 

Interesting as always.  I found Metzinger’s comments about Germany as being the current exemplar of a liberal democracy amusing.  Thinking back to Sam’s interview with Douglas Murray, it appears that even if they are this, which I don’t think they are, they sure won’t be for long if you believe Murray.

Equating Trump with the Holocaust in the way he did (American parents will deny voting for Trump just as German parents denied being aware of the Holocaust) is more than a little extreme.  Trump has yet to lead a 6M person genocide, though some (like Sam) may believe he one day will. I believe the system is resilient enough to control his political excesses, though it will be a harrowing ride.  And as for coarsening the political dialogue in the US, it has been bad for some time.  It dramatically ramped up after the election due to (sorry, but it has to be said) the sore losers on the left.  I didn’t vote for him, but under the existing rules, he won.  Hard to say if he would have won had the rules been based on popular vote - you can’t simply say Hillary would have won because she had more votes.  Both campaigns would have been run using completely different strategies sans the Electoral College.  Sorry if I’m covering old ground or re-opening wounds here, but new to this Forum. 

That aside, there is no doubt he has completely ruined any respect for the Office of the President, which is extensively damaging and will be the “gift” that unfortunately keeps giving (will hurt future occupants of the office).  I used to look up to the President of the US but after Clinton and Trump its impossible.  At least Clinton had good policies. 

Good discussion on the philosophy stuff though this all gets pretty deep.  I am currently reading Robert Wright’s book on Buddhism that is mining a similar vein.  Still trying to internalize the concept of Not Self.  There are a lot of paradoxes but in other ways, it makes a lot of sense.

I am a practicing Christian, and new to the Forum though I’ve been listening to Sam’s podcasts for some time.  I have read articles but none of his books (yet). I disagree with him a lot but the podcasts are an exemplar of reasoned, nuanced discussion, the kind that makes you re-think, and sometimes adjust, your opinions.  I am still amazed at the restraint he showed in the interview with Scott Adams!  He could have really teed off on him but didn’t.  Sometimes it’s best to let those opinions speak for themselves. 
.

 
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11 September 2017 14:18
 

Metzinger’s natalism (whatever it’s called) theory reminds me of Parfit’s “Repugnant Conclusion”. Both seem like a kind of poor calculation of arbitrary incommensurables. The averaging formulae just don’t make much sense to me, the premises seem to suffer from the same problems that utilitarianism vs consequentialism does. Sam’s point about calibration differences between “happiness” and “misery” was one I hadn’t thought of.

That aside, it was a fairly easy listen. I didn’t find it as dreary as other listeners. The intro discussion about the pathology of genocide and the subsequent self-reckoning on the part of the perpetrators was interesting. I didn’t realise that the schism between continental vs analytic was partly due to WW2. His portrayal of his parent’s generation as suffering from a Dr. Jeckyll-style complex was interesting.

The most interesting points, I felt were around phenomenology, in particular Metzinger’s point that AI concsiousness may supersede human consciousness or be different in ways that we can’t ever experience. The scenario usually goes the other way - that we project and accord anthropic desires on to other (animal) consciousnesses. I found the discussion around the echolocation sensation an interesting one.

I don’t really know much about Buddhism to comment about the rest, but I think his version of Terror Management Theory closely aligns with mine in terms of aversion of death and dying as a western religious-mythical theme.

The discussion of daydreaming and inattentional blindness as a state of conscious being rather than the exception was interesting. I wasn’t aware that our waking life is _that_ distracted, but I’m pretty scatty, so that figure probably goes up in my case smile His articulation of attachment to various emotional and mental discrete “thoughts” was interesting. I don’t think I fully grasped what he was going on about there, I don’t have much meditation experience… but it does intuit to me. The earlier spar between Sam and Thomas around intuition as a reliable form of knowledge was interesting too. Perhaps they can get more into that next time.

 
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11 September 2017 15:07
 
JT91 - 11 September 2017 02:13 PM

I am a practicing Christian, and new to the Forum though I’ve been listening to Sam’s podcasts for some time.

Welcome.  Are you related to R2D2?

Regards,
Dave.

 
 
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11 September 2017 15:10
 
murraybiscuit - 11 September 2017 02:18 PM

The most interesting points, I felt were around phenomenology, in particular Metzinger’s point that AI concsiousness may supersede human consciousness or be different in ways that we can’t ever experience. The scenario usually goes the other way - that we project and accord anthropic desires on to other (animal) consciousnesses. I found the discussion around the echolocation sensation an interesting one.

I liked that too.  Reminded me of when I learned to wiggle my ears.  I was imagining I was a cat, you know when they hiss and the sides of their face pull back.  I felt the sides of my face pulling back, looked in a mirror, and voila, I could suddenly wiggle my ears.

I’ll let you know if I have any breakthroughs imitating bats.

Regards,
Dave.

 
 
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