Re: Certainty, Experiments & Facts

Reilly Jones (70544.1227@CompuServe.COM)
28 Sep 96 00:31:12 EDT

Eric Watt Forste wrote 9/27/96: <Is it not possible for someone to help you with
regard to one aspect of your values while simultaneously hindering you with
regard to some other aspect of your values?>

Certainly. Fortunately, you have clarified the priorities of your life, you
have a coherency of values clustering around your highest purposes, which
support each other. This has allowed you to refine your judgments with
experience, to have honed your emotional acuity, your powers of discrimination.
The fine art of compromise, so essential to civilization, comes into full play
here, this is what makes life so interesting. You'll know when you've been
helped overall vs. hindered.

Of course, if you have incoherent values, or are tugged in opposing life
directions, then you're just bobbing on the waves anyway.

EWF: <I suspect it would depend on the situation.>

Ha ha! Situational ethics, the NEA's biggest support for statist miseducation

EHF: <But even if I decided it was a hindrance (for instance, because the
mistake in question was not a very important one), I'd probably choose to be
tolerant of such things.>

Exactly, you only tolerate unimportant intentions or actions. The tolerated
know they are unimportant. It's very grating to them.

EHF: <As for your assertions about "only one thing can happen at a time", do you
disagree that there are many computations being carried out in different parts
of the brain simultaneously at any given moment?>

Assertion, huh? Does this indicate that you also think that two contradictory
events can occur at the same place, at the same time? Sheesh! Where could
objectivity arise if this were the case? I disagree that any computations at
all take place in the sense I think you are using the word. I agree that when I
think 1 + 1 = 2, that a computation has occurred in my brain, subjectively, of
course, since there is no way for anyone to look into my brain and "know" what I
just did, with certainty. Of course, I can't simultaneously do the computation
1 + 1 = 2 and 1 + 1 = 3, not at the exact same time, although I suspect some
gifted accountants may be able to do it. As to computations at the molecular,
or atomic, or sub-atomic level, which is what I think you are referring to here,
they are epistemological models we impose on whatever is actually going on in
there, most likely just bits of stuff bumping around in preferred directions,
the path of least resistance and all. Yes, this stuff is bumping all around in
the brain, but not contradictory events at the same place, at the same time.

EWF: <That is, do you deny parallelism and think that cognition only occurs at
the focus of attention and that the human brain is not capable of "background
processing", as it were?>

Not at all. Searle's concept of the "background" is very useful. So is
Gelertner's "spectrum of attention" in "The Muse in the Machine". I believe
that the centrality of attention, has to do with the fact that motor action is
sequential, because time is sequential. PET's and SQUID's have shown very
fascinating shifting patterns of activity over wide areas of the brain, but if
you take a snapshot at an instant of time, the scans don't produce two pictures
showing totally opposite areas of activity, the scans produce one picture,
showing one event at one place. Of course, the time it takes to process the
pictures is much longer than the Planck moment time scales, so the pictures
really are smears of activity anyway.

Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology: | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'