[ExI] Nolipsism [was Re: Nolopsism]

Ben Zaiboc bbenzai at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 8 16:08:51 UTC 2010

The Avantguardian <avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: Ben Zaiboc <bbenzai at yahoo.com>

>> Philosophically, it may be as you say.? Practically, though, it's not really
> that useful because it makes no actual difference to the way we regard things
> like fear of death, or to the law.
>> It's in the scientific arena that nolipsism is most useful, because it explains
> what subjectivity actually is, and clears the nonsense and confusion out of the
> way.

> How so? Siddhartha Guatama said that the self was an illusion some 3000 years ago only he called it the skandha of consciousness instead of a "de se designator". What makes nolopsism more scientifically useful than Buddhism? Are you suggesting that by sweeping consciousness under a rug, it can be scientifically ignored? 

Buddhism says nothing about neuroscience.  Nevertheless, maybe the skandha of consciousness is just as scientifically useful as the "de se" designator.  Maybe they are the same thing.

This is not sweeping consciousness under a rug, it's subjecting it to the light of day.  Far from ignoring it, this is an attempt to explain it.  An attempt that to me, at least, makes pretty good sense.

>> We know, at least in theory, that subjectivity can be built into an
> artificial mind, and we can finally dump the concept of the 'hard problem' in
> the bin.

> So you think that programming a computer to falsely believe itself to be conscious is easier than to program one to actually be so. Or do you think that programming a computer to use "de se" designators necessarily makes it think itself conscious? A person could get by without the use "de se" designators yet still retain a sense of self. It might sound funny, but?a person could consistently refer to themselves in the third-person by name even in their thoughts.?Stuart doesn't think that "de se" designators are particularly profound.?Stuart doesn't need them. Do you see what Stuart means??

We seem to be getting different things from this paper.  I'm not at all suggesting that a computer (or robot) be programmed to 'falsely believe itself to be conscious', and neither are the authors (how would it even be possible? it would have to already be conscious in order to believe anything, so the belief wouldn't be false).  The suggestion is that a non-descriptive reflexive designator is necessary for general-purpose cognition, and that this is what "I" is.  Inasmuch as we regard "I" as the thing that is conscious, the "de se" designator is at the heart of consciousness.  This is not a 'false' consciousness, it's what consciousness is, whether it be in a robot or a human.  It's the ungrounded symbol that gives personal meaning to everything else.

By definition, A person could *not* get by without a "de se" designator yet still retain a sense of self, because it is the very essence of the sense of self.

Where is this third-person Stuart?  What location does he occupy? Not right now as in some temporary location defined by an external coordinate system, but at any time?  There's only one answer: "Here" (Stuart points to self).  Third-person Stuart has nowhere to point.  He has no self-centred coordinate system.  Only first-person Stuart can have such a thing.  If there is no self for Stuart to point to, he cannot answer the question, it means nothing to him.

>> The concept of a "de se" designator explains why we don't have souls, not why we
> shouldn't have property rights.?

> Property rights are no less abstract than souls. Neither seems to have a physical basis beyond metaphysical/philosophical fiat. Communists tend not to believe in either.

The difference is that the term "property rights" signifies, things that exist, as sets of rules, and are useful.  The term "souls" signifies only a fantasy, and is not useful.
Property rights have an effect on the world.  Even thought they aren't material things they still exist. Souls don't.

I think it's very very easy to misunderstand what is meant by "the self is an illusion".  It needs a fair bit of pondering.  For me, at least, the concept of "de se" desgignators makes it much clearer.

Ben Zaiboc


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