Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ordinatio Ex Machina

More thoughts on Idealist Accidentalism.

By "idealist" I'm referring to metaphysical idealism...that what fundamentally exists is mental, not physical. And by mental I mean either consciousness or existing only as an aspect of consciousness. For example, there is my conscious experience of a dream, and then there are the things that appear in my dreams that I am conscious of...houses and chairs and trees and people. Both categories of things are mental. The trees that appear in my dreams only exist as an aspect of the dream.

And by "accidentalism" I mean the theory that nothing that exists or occurs is caused. There is nothing that connects or controls the flow of events. The only rule is that there are no rules to appeal to.

So "idealist accidentalism"...the view that what exists is mental, and that there is no underlying process that explains or governs this existence.

Explaining the order of our experience by positing the existence of orderly underlying processes (as with reductive physicalism, for example) is just begging the question...because then what explains the order of those underlying processes?

The total amount of mystery was conserved. We just transferred the mystery to a new location - from our conscious experience to a hypothetical underlying process. We are unwilling to accept that our experiences "just are" orderly, so instead we appeal to an underlying process which "just is" orderly. "Ordinatio Ex Machina".

Not only that, but this reductionist approach raises the question of why we would be so lucky as to have our conscious experiences generated by underlying processes that "cause" us to have correct knowledge of those very processes.

We can only know what the underlying process causes us to know. Thus, the tendency to believe true things can't be a special feature of humans. Rather, it would be a special feature of the process that underlies human experience.

Note that this is a problem with any rule-based explanation of reality, not just with reductive physicalism and the like.

But the only alternative to a rule-based explanation of reality is accidentalism, isn't it?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Idealistic Accidentalism

Zero hits on Google. I claim it as mine.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Science and Happiness

If evolutionary theory is correct, it seems to me that if the overall environment remained relatively stable for an extended period of time - then regardless of how it ended up, humans would be at about same level of happiness.

A paradise or a hell, the species should evolve towards the same overall happiness level.

We can only be "excessively" happy, or excessively unhappy, in a world that we aren't well adapted to.

My reasoning is that happiness serves a motivates us to do things that enhance our reproductive success.

Unhappiness also serves a motivates us to avoid things that decrease our reproductive success.

Happiness is useless as a motivational tool if it's too hard *or* too easy to achieve.

Unhappiness is useless as a motivational tool if it's too hard *or* too easy to avoid.

There has to be some optimum "motivational" mix of happiness and unhappiness...and I'd think it's always approximately the same mix.

Even in a hellish world, humans would be about as happy as they would be in a paradise...once they (as a species) had adapted.

Which brings me to my next point. IF evolutionary theory is true, then scientific advancements only increase human happiness to the extent that it puts us into situations that we're not well adapted to.

AND, given enough time, we *will* adapt to all scientific advancements...and a key part of this adaptation will be to reduce the amount of happiness that they generate.

We can only be "happier" than cavemen when we are in a situation that we are not well adapted to.

For instance, food. Most people really like sweets and salty greasy foods. Much more than they like bland vegetables and whatnot.

The acquisition of junk food makes us happy BECAUSE those things were hard to acquire a few hundred years ago...and if you're living in resource-poor circumstances, then calories and salt are just what the doctor ordered.

BUT...we're now out of equilibrium. Junk food is at least as easy to get as vegetables, if not easier. So our evolved preferences push us to consume more than is good for us.

Given time, and if we allowed heart disease and diabetes to do their work, the human race would eventually lose their taste for such unhealthy fare, as those with genetic tendencies in that direction died off. Anticipating a greasy meal of pizza and consuming it would no longer make us as happy. Because that happiness is too easily satisfied to provide the optimal level of motivation.

In the future, I would think that our taste for junk food will decrease while our taste for vegetables and fruit will increase.

Further, this "adjustment process" isn't just true of food. It should be true of everything.

Even something that IS good for us will cause less happiness if its easily available, because there's no real harm in not being highly motivated to get it - since you'll get it even if you're relatively indifferent to it. Also, even good things can become detrimental if over-indulged in.