Re: What is this stuff? (was: US observations and notes)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Dec 16 2001 - 08:46:13 MST

Samantha Atkins wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> >
> > Samantha Atkins wrote:
> > >
> > > In my opinion, it is not "subjective" unless opposed to too
> > > limited a notion of "objective". It is defintely not
> > > "go-by-the-feel-of-it" as it often requires going against your
> > > feelings to do that which you would prefer not to but know
> > > should be done. It is not "take-it-on-faith" but take it beyond
> > > where logic and reason alone will take you. It is not
> > > anti-scientific-method but it is not limited to the scientific
> > > method as if it were the only oracle of truth or a capable guide
> > > to life.
> >
> > What is this spirituality stuff? Where does it come from? How does it
> > work? Can we see it in action? Which parts of the human mind are we
> > talking about here?
> It is not "stuff". It always was. You can see it work
> everywhere when you know how. It is not dependent on parts of
> the brain although some are involved when humans experience
> certain aspects of it.

Okay, so in your view of the world, there's something external to humanity
which humans make use of in order to reach conclusions that are beyond the
reach of "rationality" as usually understood. Is this a fair
description? Or are we talking about a Platonic as opposed to material
existence here, in the same sense that a mathematician might say that
mathematics has always existed and that it works everywhere when you know
how to see it?

"You can see it work everywhere when you know how" is needless to say a
rather suspicious statement. I can see gravity work even if I know
nothing about General Relativity. I may not know that it's called
"gravity", but I can still see the effects. Where the model of the
universe is incomplete (saying nothing about gravity) there is a
perceptible gap, an observed effect without a hypothesized cause, and this
gap in the worldview is where new knowledge enters. Let us suppose for
the sake of discussion that I do not understand this thing called
spirituality. Where is the corresponding gap in my worldview that needs

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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