[ExI] Uploading and selfhood (explication)

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Thu Apr 10 14:54:28 UTC 2008

On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 4:07 AM, Michael Miller <ain_ani at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I've been thinking more about this, and I think there is quite a deep
> misunderstanding between us that reflects a comment someone else made a
> while back - you're talking about ontology, whereas I'm talking about
> epistemology. This is why I keep trying to shake off the
> 'realist-antirealist' boxes, because they're irrelevant to what I'm talking
> about.

[Jumping back into this sandbox for just a moment.]

Michael, you're making a very important point -- crucial to
increasingly effective reasoning involving issues of meaning (value)
-- but your thinking strikes me as lacking an additional layer that
makes the difference between purely philosophical navel-gazing and
pragmatic modeling as a basis for effective decision-making.  Put
[too] simply, it is essential that while every agent's model of
"reality" is entirely subjective, this in no way entails
arbitrariness.  A metaphor that works for me is that we (as subjective
agents) are like the leaves of a tree of increasing possibility
connected by branches of increasing probability.  The root of that
tree represents the "reality" that we can never know.

To grasp this is to have a pragmatic (rather than "True")
understanding of the is/ought problem, and the crucial basis for
increasing agreement as to what must be considered increasingly
"right" or "moral" as we model the branches of that increasingly
objective tree supporting our increasing subjective explorations of

Apologies in advance for what might appear to be excessively abstract.
 For the record, I abhor vague mysticism, relativism (in the strong
sense), and postmodernist mental masturbation.  So, you can infer that
I mean something other than what might appear to fit such categories.
It's just that this medium of discussion is miserably poor for
conveying complex contexts.

    "The purpose of abstracting is not to be vague,
     but to create a new semantic level in which one
     can be absolutely precise."

     - Edsger W. Dijkstra, _The Humble Programmer_

- Jef

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list