[ExI] Transpersonal Extropianism?

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Tue Nov 5 14:27:03 UTC 2019

On Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 11:01 PM Will Steinberg via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

*> Unfortunately the ExI list, for all its positives, is not really a good
> spiritual resonance chamber. *

In my opinion the world already has far more spiritual resonance chambers
than it needs.

> * > I've got the idea that a lot of people here may be stuck at the
> skeptic/atheist phase, instead of pushing on to ask more deeply about the
> nature of reality and consciousness.*

People love to talk about the deep nature of consciousness but not about
the deep nature of intelligence, I think that's because one is easy but the
other is hard; any consciousness theory will work but not any old
intelligence theory will. Before making any real progress on finding the
deeper reality of consciousness (if there is one) somebody will first need
to explain how the master algorithm that causes intelligence works, and if
the philosophical rewards of finding that algorithm isn't enough it would
also have practical value, it would at the very least make you the world's
first trillionaire.

> * > Some here seem ok with the tautological "consciousness is an
> illusion"--even though, since illusions need a subject to witness said
> illusion, this leaves us at the same place as before. *

That's why it's tautological, but tautologies do have one great thing in
their favor, they're always true.

> * > Or "consciousness is what data feels like to be processed", without
> asking what is data, what is matter, *

I maintain that it is a ontological certitude that a chain of what or why
questions either goes on forever or it doesn't and ends in a brute fact.
People feel unsettled and unhappy with either possibility but nature is not
compelled to be compatible with human desires.

> *> what makes data incarnate in matter,*

Incomporial data can not be computed or even stored, for that you need a
computer or a brain. There are an infinite number of mathematical
statements but most of them, like 2+2=5, are logically contradictory,
however matter that obeys the laws of physics will not allow logical
contradictions and that's why only a material brain or computer can process
information or behave intelligently.

> *why does consciousness exist at all, *

Darwin gave us the answer to that question in 1859. Evolution can't
see consciousness
any better than we can directly see consciousness in other people, and so
it can not select for consciousness, but Evolution can select for
intelligent behavior. I know for a fact that  Evolution somehow managed to
produce at least one conscious being (me) and probably many billions,
therefore there can only be one conclusion. Consciousness must be a
byproduct of intelligence, a evolutionary spandrel.

Evolutionary Spandrel <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandrel_(biology)>.

> [...  ]
*how does it relate to the fundamental forces which we have predictive
maths for yet not even an iota of predictive maths regarding
consciousness, *

That's just not true. I predict if I send a electrical current into your
arm you will report a conscious feeling of pain. I also predict a change in
your brain will correlate with a change in your consciousness and a change
in your consciousness will correlate with a change in your brain. What more
do you need to conclude there is a cause and effect relationship?

*> At some point, the scientific community will budge, because a model that
> does not include or explain consciousness is a failure. *

When people demand an explanation fir consciousness it's not even clear
what exactly they are demanding. Would you be satisfied if I could prove
that X causes consciousness or would you say X causes consciousness but X
is not consciousness. And if after further study I then proven that X
causes Y and Y caused consciousness would you be satisfied or point out the
Y causes consciousness but Y is not consciousness? This sort of infinite
regress is not restricted to consciousness it comes up every time we say
something causes something, but it only seems to bother people when they
talk about consciousness.

John K Clark
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