Re: Platonic materialism, and Truth

Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 11:32:14 -0800

Anders replies to the Willow:
>> Indefinite lifespans are boring?
>Hardly. But the universe becomes a very boring low-density lepton gas;
>Tipler promises excitement... ;-)

I don't see anything more exciting about the Tipler scenario than
about the Dyson scenario. Boredom and excitement are not a function
of ones environment but a function of how well or poorly adapted
one is to the most recent changes in ones environment. Maladaptation
is easy to produce, because new challenges are fairly easy to find,
particularly when ones goals are centered around self-creation
and self-improvement.

A side note on Reilly and Gregory's debate on truth. Truth is a
guiding ideal that has evolved over time. I don't think that it is
a condition that we can use descriptively of anything; rather, I
think it is a condition that we aspire to, and that aspiring to
this condition has been quite helpful to us in our projects so far.
To have the truth: that is something to strive for, not something
to claim that one has achieved. Richard Rorty recommends that we
bag the notion of truth for disposal because we do not understand
it and because the notion has been used in a destructive way in
some debates, but I still think Rorty is foolhardy in his exhortation.
Let's not rip up and shred *all* of the traditions that have gotten
us this far, at least not until we're sure we understand how they
are helpful to us as well as how they are harmful to us. I tend to
be quite sceptical of claims to understanding of that sort, because
I don't think we have reached that stage in our discussion of truth
yet. So far I see people either idolatrizing truth or demonizing
it... real analysis will begin once people start looking at both
the useful and the disadvantageous sides of our guiding ideal, our
love of truth. It is not our only guiding ideal.

By "a guiding ideal that has evolved over time", I mean a poorly
understood active information structure encoded in human brains
that has developed mostly through a process of cultural (meme?)
evolution that could very easily have been entirely beyond the ken
of the people in whose brains the development was taking place.
An unintended consequence, like most of the good things in life.
I try to keep my discussion of such things as "truth" fairly
concrete; it seems to me to be the only way to proceed in investigating
something that has resisted investigation for so many millenia.
This is why I agree so emphatically with the Churchlands that
philosophers in our day and age need to attend to neuroscientific
data and neuroscientific theory.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++