Artificial equine

One critique of strong-AI that was suggested by Chomsky but not made explicit is that intelligence is too bound up with human life to be artificially replicable by mimicking some human cognitive behaviors. It would be obtuse to describe automobiles as a triumph in the advance of an artificial equine project, as though “horsepower” were a real distillation and capturing of what horses are, or to see scuba gear as a definitive step forward in the march to the achieve the artificial piscine, as though all our previous attempts to swim underwater were crude, unscientific anticipations what we finally achieved though compressed gas, heel fins, regulators, etc.

This dovetails with the claim that the sciences are reductive in the sense that they want all things formally in one algebraic genus and materially in one tactile genus, which makes any specific difference problematic. If there were horse scientists, they would not only be baffled by life and consciousness, but by whatever difference constitutes the equine, which would be known from within by the houyhnhnm philosophers but is unknowable to us.

Short Special Metaphysics

1.) What is actual before it actual knows, knows that a limited and finite domain of being exists and is oblivious to the rest (like taste qua taste is oblivious to color)

Mind is not limited to knowing that a finite domain of being exists while being oblivious to the rest (it knows that there are knowns and mysteries.)

Mind is not actual before it knows. (the proof also follows on the supposition that there are no mysteries)

2.) What must be first produced or given energy and direction a tergo to act needs to be actual before it acts

Whatever arises from a causal history is first produced or given energy and direction.

Whatever arises from a causal history needs to be actual before it acts.

Whatever is not actual before it acts does not arise from a causal history.

Mind is not actual before it acts.

3.) Whatever is not actual before it acts, acts without interacting.

Mind is not actual before it acts.

So mind acts without interacting.

Force and energy are features of interactive systems (e.g. those falling under the Third Law)

Mind acts and moves without force and energy.


Probability is teleological

Probability is teleological and can describe natural things to the extent they are also. Here’s the argument:

Surprising things are chance events in the sense opposed to teleology.

Probability calculations seek to drive out surprise.

So probability calculations seek to advance the teleological and drive out the chance that is opposed to this.

You flip the fair coin a hundred times. You expect about 50-50 heads-tails with a margin of error of 5. Failure to get this is surprising in the sense we want to focus on. This allows logically for the following responses:

1.) You suspect the coin isn’t fair.

2.) You wonder if your model of probability is adequate.

3.) You treat the event as an outlier that rarely happens and that would wash out with a larger sample size or running the trial a few more times.

Notice that as long as #1 and #2 are ruled out #3 is all that’s left, but if we fail to disprove #3 we have to either retool #2 or add some epicycles to it, since we can’t develop a theory that assumes we are systematically deceived about what we’re observing, as a systematic belief in #1 would require. In other words, since we have to drop #1 as a long-term theoretical solution, all probability is a standoff between #2 and #3, with the one driving out the other.

#3 is chance in the sense that is opposed to teleology. This is why Aristotle defined chance as essentially rare, since by definition if it happens more than rarely it is taken as a fact that refutes your theory. Your model is built to predict outcomes, and this allows for prediction failure only in the case of outlier phenomena. Notice that when we call the #3 events rare this does not mean the same thing as “improbable”. All sorts of improbable events (like getting four of a kind, say) can be predicted by a theory. #3 events are improbable in the sense of being entirely outside the model that established both what will count as probable and improbable. The chance event, strictly speaking, has no probability whatsoever. While it is improbable in some sense (equivocal) of the term, in the technical sense we want to target now it is a-probable. And so we hit on a harmony between Aristotle’s account of chance as rare and TOF’s and Brigg’s antiphon-axioms that there is no probability outside the model and randomness is never a cause. Probability theory can never absolutely rule out chance, but it is (a) entirely outside the model and (b) lacks the sort of necessary connection that is the sine qua non of cause-effect relations. The reason why there is no probability outside the model is that, without the model, we have no way to distinguish #3 events, which are essential to any account of probability to distinguish.

In other words, while there is certainly some (equivocal) sense of chance or randomness that probability theory deals with, it is intrinsic to the theory that it exclude and seek to drive out chance in sense #3. But this is the only sense of “chance” or “randomness” that is teleology excludes.  It is only in this sense of chance that expectation of outcomes is frustrated, i.e. when the order between conditions and outcomes becomes necessarily frustrated and so intrinsically rules out teleology. Since it is just this sort of thing that probability seeks to minimize, marginalize and rule out, probability theory is intrinsically teleological. Q.E.D.


Goofing around with PW logic

Say you scroll out all possible worlds before God and he actualizes Q. What happened?

1.) Did one possible world choose another? This can’t be right, since as possible it can’t do anything.

2.) Did something in no possible world make a possible world actual? But, on the PW scheme, this means that something impossible happened.

3.) Did the actual world choose a possible one? But qua actual it is either other than a possible world or not. If other, we get #2; if not, #1.

4.) Is Q the same as God’s actual world or not? Not the same, since one can’t actualize what is already actual. Not other, since we can’t have two things fitting the description of “the actual world”, leaving us to say, for example, that God exists and does not exist in the actual world.

There are tensed statements in possible worlds. Therefore there is one actual clock for all of them. But there isn’t even one clock for us, so there are no tensed statements in possible worlds. So by PW logic,  tensed statements are impossible. Therefore this could not have been written.

Stability of regimes

The ancien régime achieved dynastic stability through the belief and doctrine that social orders arose more or less by nature: kings made kings, nobles made nobles, peasants made peasants. If we zoomed down to consider individuals there was some mobility between the strata (especially through the religious life), but the view from 30,000 feet was of a stable hierarchy with well-defined roles and orders of mediation. The age of revolution rejected all this in its assertion that all are created equal, which was never a claim about intellectual abilities or fitness to rule but most of all a rejection of the idea that human political hierarchies are provided in the way they are provided to bees or termites.

But if nature does’t provide a social animal with his governing structures then it has to provide for himself, hence the rise in theories of political systems in the 18th Century. But a system can never be experienced by a revolutionary the way the ancien régime was experienced by those who lived in it. They experienced the inevitable social anxieties and disappointments as basically natural while we experience them as results of system failures and so in need of fixing. Even if we set up a stable system it will live through its factions, which in turn will intensify the awareness of social anxieties and disappointments and so create either more factions or a constant switching back-and-forth among different ruling parties and philosophies. As Charles Taylor put it, the only infallible prediction one can make about the future of our revolutionary, post ancien regime is that any structure it establishes is fragile, as will be the opposition structure.

There is a continual desire to overcome the intrinsic fragility of post AR structures by myths that they are now established and at least quasi-natural. Our preferred means to do this is a fetishized history-myth prophesizing that human action was guided infallibly to the point of greater and greater (fill in the blank), and that resistance to this magical spirit is futile, backward, and unenlightened. You can believe this or not, but it is exactly the same sort of belief as that kings only bear kings and peasants only birth peasants. The desire to re-establish the stability of the AR is so strong that we’re willing even to accept that we’ve lost the culture war or that, say, the regime as we find it is now is, at last, the one that has been chosen by nature to last a thousand years or has been given free reign to push the logic of its beliefs to their bitter end.

The last paragraph was cynical about attempts to see nature as providing regimes to us through birth or history, but it is probably more reasonable to take any belief we can’t divest ourselves of as rational. We have to carve out some way that nature is giving us social orders. Note that this requires believing more than that nature tosses out people of different talents and it is our job to sort them into the proper slots. In this sense nature is only giving us a potential and not actual regime, and the opinion we can’t shake off requires more than this. In particular, we can’t see nature as providing us with something wicked or contrary to human flourishing, and in this sense the idea that we could “lose the culture war” in the sense of history selecting against what our best lights have determined is right and rational can make no sense and is a misapplication of the metaphor of a culture war.


Nature and supernatures

If mind is the paradigm for the supernatural and we follow Aristotle’s account of it, then the natural is actual before acting and the supernatural is not. Mind is not built out of substructure that is put in place and then knows.  In not-knowing mind does not fall back into a stasis or dormancy like an eye before it opens, with a structure in place that is waiting to be used. Mind is a subject in that it does an action, not in the sense that it is a power in some actual thing that remains actual whether we are acting or not. All this obviously rules out it being built out of cells or being the action of a central nervous system.

In nature, the power of the subject to act is in an actual thing before the action is performed; at the height of supernature the subject is only an agent and his action is not an accident; in the middle there is an accident that is not a power in an actual thing before the action of knowing.

This is why nature is in time: something actual must be constantly present to support times both of action and stasis. In the middle we have a sort of moment-time, like the premises of an argument which are discrete but not measured by some actual subject shifting from action to dormancy, and so smearing over all the time from one point to another. At the height of supernature, all division in action falls away, with its action not at one point while it fails to be at another.

Said another way: nature’s being actual before it acts either generates or requires continuous time; mind not being actual before it acts allows for the discrete time of logical connection; God being entirely united and without division in his action is eternity.

Lucretius (3)

We cannot limit the real to some positive-negative sensory axis (sound-silence, visible-darkness, resistant- non-resistant) nor to some set of co-ordinates on these axes through time. Even after we chart everything that can be charted in this way we’re still left with the axis of real-fiction and perhaps theorizable- mysterious (in Chomsky’s sense).

The attempt to set some limits to knowledge might be tractable of we limit ourselves to what we are proportionate to knowing or most adapted to knowing, or to objects about which we can know not just that they are but also what they are and/or how they work. But the attempt to set limits on things we can know in any way is probably pointless and looks to even involve contradiction, i.e. it’s the attempt to both identify something as mysterious and be oblivious to it.

But limiting knowledge to what and/ or how knowledge is something even STA does, and so Naturalism has to be far more ambitious than that. But it’s just this ambition that divides it from being reasonable.

Lucretius (2)

Lucretius’s first move in a defense of Naturalism is to identify the real with the object of touch, and so with what either gives resistance or not. What resists is extended and divisible, and so is analyzed into what one finds after all possible divisions have been made (or the a-tomic) what does not resist is void.

The intuitions Lucretius is working from here are so fundamental that we haven’t yet come to terms with what it means to overturn them. All sensation seems to be just various ways of being struck by things, and all bodies are fundamentally inertial and are busy falling toward one another. This is what Newton saw in the apple.

For all that, our attempts to limit nature to the (even in-principle*) tangible have failed. What resists has mass, and much of the cosmos is massless without being void. I don’t know that we’ve come to terms with the scandal that this presents to our attempts to limit the real to the tangible (or to anything that is even in-principle sensible) but this is where we find ourselves. We can lean heavily on the mathematical description of the massless to diffuse the scandal, but at some point we’re going to have to accept that sensation sets no limit on what can be known even about natural things. This causes a re-alighnment of ancient physics as much as contemporary Naturalism.

*By “in principle” I mean that one can’t just maximize sense power to the point of detecting them.

Lucretius’s Naturalism

Lucretius gives a proof that nothing exists but matter and void:

Whenever something exists, it needs to be something that,
If it comes into contact with something,
no matter how light and insignificant it is,
it will increase it or make it greater…
Or else it will be intangible, and not be the sort of thing
That can resist the passage of something
and this is what we can the void.

nam quod cumque erit, esse aliquid debebit id ipsum
augmine vel grandi vel parvo denique, dum sit;
cui si tactus erit quamvis levis exiguusque,
corporis augebit…
sin intactly erit, nulla de parte quod ullam
rem prohibere queat per se transire meantem,
scilicet hoc id erit, vacuum quod inane vocamus.

De rerum natura, 433-99

This is as good as Naturalist arguments get.

1.) The real = the tangible.

2.) The tangible = what gives resistance or not (in the same way that we hear sounds and silence)

3.) What resists the sense of touch = physical.

4.) What does not resist touch = void.


Subtle distortions in the idea of self-love

-Our actions can be universally tinged with evil without being universally corrupted by self-love. Some evils are lacks of self-interest, like the sort of personality that pours itself entirely out on exterior things or cares for the needs of others to the dissipation of the self.

-Even if every evil involves pride not every evil involves a desire to subjugate others to the self. Dissipation and self-corruption is easier if we subjugate everyone – including oneself- to the herd.

-Augustine showed that Scripture’s talk of the the flesh was simply to talk of a human. He was right about this but wrong to shift from what is human to the self, since what is human is both broader than the self and distinguished from it. We should re-write the description of two cities which are divided by one loving God to the contempt of the self and the other loving the self to the contempt of God by replacing “the human” for “the self”. One can love what is human to the contempt of God without exalting himself. Every Naturalist and Secularist does this in their opinion of science, regardless of how egoistic or altruistic they are.

-A closer look at Augustine’s words in CoG XIV. 28 show some nuance:

 [T]wo cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience.

So God is the witness of conscience, i.e. that which we experience as most of all the voice of ourselves.

-But even to switch from self to human will leave off a great deal. The conquest of the sensitive appetite (i.e. the brain) is better understood as a struggle with the self than a struggle with the human. But STA has shown that this is better understood as an attempt to establish the self than to destroy it.

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