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Everything posted by DocWatts

  1. This needs to be emphasized more. We've been trying to create in a laboratory over the course of a few decades what took hundreds of millions of years to develop through natural selection. Add to that that a science is still very far from understanding how consciousness works and how life emerged from non-living material, and it would behoove us to approach these claims the topic with more skepticism and humility.
  2. I'd disagree with this slightly. While it's true that a bee's mind doesn't use symbolic processing, I'd instead argue that bees are on a spectrum of general intelligence, along with people. The most sophisticated AI that we have still can't come close to replicating all of the things that a bee can do.
  3. If anyone is interested, I did a write up on the subject of AGI for a book I'm working on, where I delve into some of the substantial barriers to creating AGI, owing to fundamental differences between living minds and machine intelligence. (Apologies if these pages get uploaded out of order).
  4. Is it though? The idea that AGI is just around the corner is akin to thinking that one is making progress towards reaching the moon because they've managed to climb halfway up a very tall tree.
  5. @Leo Gura Hope you're doing well Leo, and that you're taking care of yourself. Appreciate all the work you've put into your content, and for cultivating a relatively non-toxic little online community 😎
  6. Really want to see a character arc for this Ork now, where he learns to integrate and embody the Spiral stages 😁
  7. First off, very cool 😎 My take: it could be that the skulls are symbolic of how he's integrated and embodied aspects of Red instead of denying and repressing it. Perhaps he knows that violence is sometimes situationally appropriate (though regrettable), and that death is a necessary aspect of life. Or perhaps he's transcended a fear of death.
  8. 'The Integral Vision' is a pocket sized introduction to his work that can be read in a few days. If after that, you find that you're connecting with his philosophy and want a longer and more substantive introduction, 'A Theory of Everything' would be the next one to pick up. 'Sex, Ecology, Spirituality' is generally considered to be his magnus opus, and explores Integral Theory (ie the philosophy that undergirds almost all of Wilber's work) in a ton of depth. But it's also 1000 plus pages and not for the faint of heart (though in fairness despite its length he does a reasonably good job of using an accessible writing style ).
  9. Best thing I did for my intellectual development over the past five or six years was to take a step back from this site, along with Ken Wilber, Integral, Spiral Dynamics, and the other paradigmatic 'scaffolding' I'd been relying on, since it forced me to develop my own perspective. #PierceTheBubble
  10. This one gets on my nerves for how intellectually lazy it is. It's the equivalent of trying to have a substantiative sociological discussion with someone, only for the person on the other end to say something asinine like "you say that you don't like capitalism, even though you're writing this on a phone that you bought at a store." Then, me: "Welp, guess that's on me for having the audacity to exist now instead of some unspecified other time and place I guess" 😂
  11. Thanks! By this heuristic, neither metaphysics nor phenomenology are sealed / walled off from one another, as one's pre-existing metaphysical beliefs influence how things are disclosed to us in our direct experience. And vice versa. (For instance, the content of a person's mystical experiences is heavily contingent upon which religion one was brought up in, to list just one example). I guess the broader point of my heuristic is that neither metaphysics nor phenomenology should be treated as an Absolute Ground for knowledge, they should be applied in a more contextual and flexible way depending upon what one is trying to understand. As for drawing inferences, we can reasonably infer that some things necessarily have to be true for us to be able to have different types of experiences. For instance, certain things about our physiological structure have to necessarily be in place for us to be able to experience the world in certain ways. This also includes the type of relationship that we have with Reality, which is different for living beings than it is for non-living entities (such as a disembodied AI like Chat-GPT). And at the same time there's no such thing as a 'neutral' phenomena, since every observation about some aspect of Reality is necessarily experienced from a point of view, and thus involves us. Which is to say that because of our physiology and the structure of our minds, we don't like in a 'neutral' version of Reality. Instead we live in an experiential Reality that comes 'pre-arranged' in terms of our needs and capacities.
  12. My take, for anyone who's interested. What stands out to me is that there's an interesting commonality between those who adhere to scientism and those who propagate various forms of pseudo-scientific magical thinking, and it's a failure to recognize that there's both a phenomenological and a metaphysical dimension to phenomena. The former is concerned with how things are disclosed to us in the immediacy of our direct experience, and the latter deals with our interpretive schemas about the overall functioning and purpose behind Reality. Put another way, the phenomenology is an 'inside-out' approach, while metaphysics is (typically) an 'outside-in' approach. Which of these two dimensions is more appropriate to emphasize in any given scenario depends entirely upon what it is that you're trying to understand. Which is to say, the 'correct' methodology is always tied to a purposive context. The reason that this distinction matters is that something can have considerable value when approached from a phenomenological framing, apart from the metaphysical claims that its attached to. The rituals and practices found within many of the worlds wisdom traditions are often ways of intuiting important phenomenological truths, using whatever metaphysical framing device that culture had access to at the time. For instance, from the vantage point of the physiology of the human body (ie an 'outside-in' approach), the chakras 'do not exist'. But as a way of systemizing the lived experience of how energy moves throughout our bodies, its utility or 'truth' becomes clear. Pseudo-scientific thinkers tend to get into trouble when they advance dubious metaphysical claims, while scientific materialists have a long history of throwing the baby out with the bathwater for phenomenological truths that don't fit into their limited worldview.
  13. If you're new to Wilber, don't start with Religion Of Tomorrow. Start with one of his shorter, more accessible books where he introduces the basics of Integral Theory. Integral Theory is the meta-theory that pretty much all of Wilber's philosophy is an articulation of. 'The Integral Vision' is a pocket sized introduction to his work that can be read in a few days. If you're interested enough to continue with his work, perhaps move on to 'A Theory of Everything' for a more fleshed out introduction to his meta-theory. Afterwards, his other books explore the applications of Integral Theory for different domains (such as religion, psychology, etc). Starting with Religion of Tomorrow is a bit like jumping into trigonometry or calculus without a solid foundation in algebra. Also, it's entirely possible that you may just not 'click' with Wilber, and that's perfectly okay! While I think Wilber's an amazing philosopher, he's not everyone's cup of tea.
  14. Unfortunately, for anything as complicated as a phone or a computer appalling and exploitative labor conditions are the norm. The materials for these products are sourced from some of the poorest regions of the world, and usually assembled in sweat shops. That's not just true of electronics, but likely all of the clothes you own as well, not to mention for most of the objects in your home. This isn't because people living in developed countries are 'evil', that's the buy in for being able to live in an industrial society. Instead of agonizing over if X or Y consumer product is more or less ethical, you'd be better off putting your time and energy into supporting NGOs, activists, and progressive political candidates that are working to reform the worst aspects of this system. In the developed world, it wasn't 'consumer choice' that curbed the worst excesses of capitalist exploitation, it was labor and citizen activism that lobbied governments to put rules in place to protect workers, consumers, and the environment.
  15. Unfortunately what we're seeing, and have been seeing, is a normalization of political violence. While a full blown civil war seems unlikely, localized shootings, coup attempts, and assassinations are likely to continue at an accelerated pace. A scary side effect of this normalization of violence is that if America does backslide into an authoritarian form of government (whether through a Trump dictatorship, or through an eventual successor to the MAGA cult), this is preparing (or 'grooming', as much as I dislike the word) segments of the American public to accept violent oppression of dissent by state as an acceptable practice. Or at the very least, not to be shocked by forms of political violence and state oppression that have been common in other parts of the world, but haven't become the norm in the States.
  16. I'd argue that Continental philosophy is perhaps too broad of an umbrella to be that useful of a category, considering that it encompasses as diverse a spectrum as: Hegel's Absolute Idealism, Marx's dialectical materialism, Nietzsche's genealogy of morals, Heidegger's Being-In-The-World phenomenology, along with postmodern philosophy.
  17. Aside from the fact that there's obviously a huge difference between someone's stated and revealed preferences (ie what someone says that they'll do, vs what they actually do when you observe them), I wonder what the percentage would Push the button if they were given the person's (who selected at random) name and picture, along with a short biography about their life. My intuition is the percentage would be drastically lower for the same reason that it's psychologically much easier to kill someone by pushing a button that causes a drone to launch a missile, than it is to look someone in the eye as you're stabbing them through the chest.
  18. While there are certainly vegans who try to proselytize the lifestyle and are extremely ideological/judgemental about, in my experience most vegans I've come across treat it more like a personal set of ethics that they adhere to. (Which is how I treat it as well, despite the fact that I'm vegetarian with a 'mostly' vegan diet.) In practice, the minority of vegans who are heavily ideological are also the ones that by definition are the most visible. Vegetarians/vegans who treat it as a personal set of ethics aren't the people you see debating others on social media. Which is to say that there's a selection bias at work here. Also that's an assumption on your part that vegans are mostly scientific materialists. In my personal experience the overlap with veganism has much more to do with SD-Green values than it does with scientific materialism, and plenty of SD-Green folks are into stuff like New Age spirituality, etc. And yeah, the developmental blindness of SD-Green (which you allude to) is a valid point.
  19. For those of us in the US, doomerism doesn't help, but neither does downplaying what's at stake in 2024. At heart of MAGA fascism is a segment of extremely selfish people who don't want their culture to change to become more equitable, and are willing to support political violence, oppress their fellow citizens, and dismantle American democracy to ensure that doesn't happen. Roughly 30% of the country would be enthusiastic supporters of a Trump dictatorship. So if you were ever going to take an interest in politics, or take a more active role in politics through activities like canvasing, now is the time.
  20. Hello friends, and happy 2024! I thought I might share a bit more of what I've been working on lately for my philosophy book, '7 Provisional Truths', which aims to be a 'guided tour' to how we acquire valid knowledge about Reality, and provide an in-depth exploration of epistemology to non-specialists. I've also jokingly referred to it as a 'Field Guide' to construct awareness. While I'd normally post this in the 'Intellectual Stuff' section, I thought I might shake things up and post it here since it has everything to do with consciousness. And namely, much of what I'll be exploring in the book is the centrality of nonconceptual, pre-reflective knowledge in our everyday life. In this section, I provide an overview of BEING-IN-THE-WORLD. The expression is meant to capture an important and often overlooked aspect of the human condition (overlook by traditional Western philosophy, at any rate). Namely, the lack of any absolute boundary between ourselves and the 'outside' world. Its basic significance is that what we understand 'a person' to be has huge ramifications for where our search to understand 'knowledge' begins. ___________________________ Being-In-The-World ___________________________ Back in the introduction to this book, it was mentioned that dissecting the works of academic philosophers isn’t the ‘point’ of the guided tour we’re undertaking. While that still holds true, for this topic in particular, we’ll be loosening this precept just a bit, for reasons that will soon become apparent. This is because any in-depth exploration of Being-In-The-World can’t help but be pulled towards the individual who not only coined the term, but used it as the cornerstone of a new approach to philosophy, upending 2000 years of established thinking on the subject. That individual is the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), and he’s among the most important thinkers in all of Western philosophy. If you haven’t heard of him, it’s likely because his work has a reputation for being notoriously difficult, written with close to zero consideration for non-specialists. His most significant contribution to philosophy, ‘Being And Time’ (1927), is full of dense, technical language that can be indecipherable for someone who’s not already deeply versed in philosophical concepts. Indeed, anyone who’s put the time and effort into comprehending Heideggar’s writing might describe the experience as almost akin to learning a second language! Needless to say, delving into the intricacies of obtuse academic texts isn’t our focus, so we’ll confine ourselves to his notion of Being-In-The-World, since it’s directly relevant for our present purposes. Recall that in our previous chapter, we defined ‘Being’ as a form of understanding. More specifically, it’s our most basic and primordial way of understanding people, places, and things as people, places, and things. It’s how we understand a cup as a cup, or a chair as a chair, in an immediate and intuitive way. When we say that something is a particular type of thing, we’re referring to its being. What Being-In-The-World refers to, then, is the type of ‘being’ that people have, which is characterized by our concernful involvement with the everyday world. It’s a way of understanding ourselves that emphasizes the centrality of our embeddedness within the world for how we experience and comprehend Reality. Additionally, the expression also points to the conditions from which we attain the background of familiarity with the world that other forms of knowledge depend on. This latter dimension of Being-In-The-World is what we’re primarily interested in, as it’s directly tied to how we cope with everyday Reality. The hyphenation of Being-In-The-World, which may feel a bit awkward for someone unused to philosophical neologisms, is actually there for a very good reason. A neologism refers to a newly coined term or expression that was created to fulfill a specific need, and has yet to be widely adopted into mainstream language. For our neologism of Being-In-The-World, the hyphens are meant to express that ‘being’, more specifically the type of ‘being’ that people have, and ‘the world’ are to be understood as a single, unified concept. So, to sum up: the gist of Being-In-The-World is that we can’t understand the human condition in isolation from our absorption into the everyday world, because the two are fundamentally inseparable. This is because our interactions with a world of people, objects, environments, and culture forms the context for our very existence. Another name that could be used for our ‘concernful involvement’ with the everyday world is Care. With this in mind, what Being-In-The-World is attempting to capture is how Care is fundamental to what Reality is for us. As to the practical implications of this, we can look at how Being-In-The-World recontextualizes what it means to have knowledge, because of how it breaks from the usual Western understanding of what it means to be an ‘individual’ in the world. When Heidegger coined the expression, he was using it to articulate a crucially important aspect of the human condition that had been overlooked and neglected by the Western philosophical tradition up until that point. To simplify for the sake of brevity, what Heideggar is pointing to is the lack of an absolute boundary between ourselves and the world. This is because our absorption into the world through everyday interactions and practices is inseparable from who and what we are. Interestingly, this emphasis on the lack of separation between ourselves and the world has much more in common with Eastern wisdom traditions such as Buddhism and Vedanta, than it does with how the Western philosophical tradition had tended to approach the human condition up until that point. Our cultural understanding of what a person is is important for our present purposes because it heavily informs what our ‘starting point’ for where the beginnings of knowledge lie.
  21. My intuition is that the so called 'hard problem ' is in fact a pseudo-problem born of bad framing. Namely, it comes from trying to understand our conscious experience from the standpoint of a metaphysical (or 'outside-in') framework, rather than from a phenomenological ('inside-out') framework.
  22. When people point out that 'cruelty is the point' of Israeli policy towards Palestinians, it's to this that they're referring to. Really, the far-Right in Israel is exhibiting something very similar to the type of mentality that led to 'sun down towns' in the United States up until just a few generations ago, where black people could be openly lynched if they were caught in a white neighborhood after sunset. The point was to make life so miserable for an ethnic minority that they would just give up any hopes of trying to better thier situation, and just leave.
  23. Where deconstruction goes, an eventual reconstruction must flow if one is to be a fulfilled and productive person. Deconstruction without eventually finding something that's more truthful and constructive to fill the gap can be like a gaping wound left open. One can see this on both an individual and collective level. On an individual level, a recognition that one's identity is constructed can be a good and healthy form of growth, assuming that they can move beyond deconstruction to mindfully construct an identity that's worth living for. On a collective level, deconstructing social narratives that are built atop dominator hierarchies is a very good thing, assuming that something more truthful and inclusive can be collectively agreed upon in its wake.
  24. Considering how dysfunctional our political system has become in the US, one has to give Biden credit for accomplishing quite a bit considering the constraints he's working under. Something that I try to be vocal about when I see people who have become (quite understandably) disillusioned with US politics try to assert that there's no discernable difference between Democrats and Republicans.
  25. While there will be a lot from MAGA bitching and moaning about how they're going to start a civil war because their cult leader is finally facing legal consequences for his actions, the vast majority of them aren't going to do shit beyond whining about it online. The thing about stochastic terrorism though is that if you broadcast dogwhistle messaging that encourages violence to millions of people, a handful of those people will be unhinged enough to follow through on it. Only takes one person armed with a rifle to kill dozens of people, or to murder one of your elected officials. The FBI has been sounding the alarm on far right domestic terrorism for years. The manifestos left behind by these domestic terrorists after they go and shoot up a synagogue or a grocery store in a black neighborhood are basically bullet points of the conspiracism they've been hearing from Fox News, Alex Jones, etc.