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> My main problem with physicalism is that it doesn't handle abstraction well. I'm fine with monism over dualism but you need some kind of functionality with which to consider different kinds of 'stuff'. Otherwise a rock, Conway's Game of Life, and Lord of the Rings are all on the same plane of existence.

Yes! This bothered me as well, until I recently encountered Sean Carroll's philosophy of "Poetic Naturalism":

1. There are many ways of talking about the world.

2. All good ways of talking must be consistent with one another and with the world.

3. Our purposes in the moment determine the best way of talking.

One way of talking about the Game of Life simulation running in my other browser tab is as a bunch of electrons bouncing around in my computer's CPU. Another way of talking about it is as a cellular automaton obeying Conway's rules. And they're consistent with one another; e.g., if I stop the electrons by shutting down the computer, I expect the automaton to stop running.

In retrospect, it's pretty obvious. But it must not have been _too_ obvious, because it presents a viewpoint that isn't quite physicalism and isn't quite dualism, and people have been arguing back and forth about that for a long time.

Sean Carroll, The Big Picture https://www.amazon.com/Big-Picture-Origins-Meaning-Universe/...




>2. All good ways of talking must be consistent with one another and with the world.

2 sounds dubious. There are good ways of talking about world that are incompatible between them (e.g. quantum mechanics and general relativity, but even more so, opposing viewpoints not based on objective disagreement but value judgements).


QM and GR are compatible in everyday regimes. They're not compatible for extremely small, extremely dense things - but it's fair to say that implies that at least one of them is not a good way of talking about extremely small, extremely dense things.


Well noticed :-). Both of those are discussed at length in the book.

First, "ways of talking" have domains of applicability. GR's domain of applicability doesn't include the very small scale, so it doesn't make any predictions there to contradict qm.

The book also talks about value judgements, and is very explicit that different people's core values may differ from each other. So I guess poetic naturalism doesn't apply to them? That bit wasn't clear, but I would only apply these axioms to "is", not "ought" statements.


It all sounds dubious, and amounts to "It depends which model you use", which isn't necessarily a profound insight - although if you're used to confusing models with reality, it might be.

We simply have no model for consciousness. We have absolutely no idea what it is.

It isn't even worth getting started with dualism vs materialism when both are - ultimately - constructs created inside, and possibly by, the thing/experience/whatever we're trying to describe.




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