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Three Arguments on Moral Realism

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I agree with this, it's irritating and will miss something.

    If the person isn't directly attributing their theory to a specific theory don't try to throw them in one. They might be using bits from everything. Or they could be independently generating ideas on their own.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    I *do* have trouble determining wether I think a thing because I generated it or I picked it up from other people.

    And I know why this would occur, but it still doesn't help.

    That's not at all the same thing. Thinking things because you've been influenced by other people does not mean it's not you thinking those things. You can never be in doubt as to whether or not a given feeling is your feeling. Let me put it this way: there are lots of people right now with the sensation of blue going on in some region of their visual field. Nonetheless, you know that the sensation of blue you have looking at these forum backgrounds is your sensation, not one of the ones others are experiencing. You cannot be certain that those others exist, you cannot even be certain that your brain exists, but you are certain that your sensations exist. This is what it means to say that you are singular self.

    Smash Bros - 4639-8632-8299 (WA)
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Maybe a visual aid will clarify:

    TwinSuns.JPG

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Maybe a visual aid will clarify:

    Mostly, it clarifies that you have no grasp of the argument. Not really sure how I can make it clearer.

    Smash Bros - 4639-8632-8299 (WA)
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    I *do* have trouble determining wether I think a thing because I generated it or I picked it up from other people.

    And I know why this would occur, but it still doesn't help.

    That's not at all the same thing. Thinking things because you've been influenced by other people does not mean it's not you thinking those things. You can never be in doubt as to whether or not a given feeling is your feeling. Let me put it this way: there are lots of people right now with the sensation of blue going on in some region of their visual field. Nonetheless, you know that the sensation of blue you have looking at these forum backgrounds is your sensation, not one of the ones others are experiencing. You cannot be certain that those others exist, you cannot even be certain that your brain exists, but you are certain that your sensations exist. This is what it means to say that you are singular self.

    Fair enough, I guess. In terms of how you are defining it anyway, not to say I agree with that definition. :P

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Mostly, it clarifies that you have no grasp of the argument. Not really sure how I can make it clearer.

    :|

    Okay, I guess you are not someone who gets visual aids.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I get it.

    Where does one sun end and the other begin. They combine between them. Right?

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I get it.

    Where does one sun end and the other begin. They combine between them. Right?

    Exactly. While it appears clear that they are individual entities, there is no distinct border between them, and where you draw the line is going to be somewhat arbitrary, but is required due to the limitations of our language at this time.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    I get it.

    Where does one sun end and the other begin. They combine between them. Right?

    Which is what makes it obvious that he doesn't understand what selfhood is.

    Smash Bros - 4639-8632-8299 (WA)
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    You can't draw the line with two balls of burning gas.

    That gas combining is the same gas as in the outer shell of the sun.

    You could only define it by going into the core of the sun where more complicated reactions are taking place and as you say, that's getting fucking arbitrary.

    It's a damn good example.

    @Zakkiel: No, it's showing what he thinks of as self hood. Your definition of self hood is not everyones. You are demonstrating your arrogance every time you declare an arbitrary definition true for all.

    I don't agree that what someone is certain of experiencing is something they can intrinsically define as happening only to an individual self. You can affect peoples sensations with outside influences in a way that they believe it is coming from themselves.

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  • hippofanthippofant Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I'm a little late to this thread guys, so sorry if I'm dredging this up, but I'm a little confused with what's wrong with the evolutionary explanation for morality. I don't particularly understand what physicalism has to do with it at all and I'm rather interested actually, so I hope MrMister doesn't mind if I derail his thread if this is derailment....

    Also, as a backgrounder, I do have an academic background in molecular/evolutionary biology, so forgive if this brief intro to evolution is unnecessary, but I think its applicability becomes obvious in this way.
    Spoiler:

    My belief then is that, fundamentally, evolution occurs in basically every situation, including in the case of morality. There are many mitigating factors that can confuse things and there are many chance events that disturb our predictions, but that's the case in biological evolution too.

    1. There is variation in morality, as different individuals and societies have different moral beliefs.
    2. Morals are inheritable in some rough, obscure way. Many people absorb the morals of their parents or guardians; many also absorb the morals of their societies, however you define it. Yes, many individuals reject these "inheritable" morals, but many individuals "reject" the genes they're given as well, via the process of mutation. The moral beliefs of many individuals morph over time as they're exposed to new ideas and belief systems; so too do your genes, as they're exposed to replication errors and mutations from environmental factors. The key isn't how faithful or stringent this inheritance is, but rather that there is a general pattern of inheritance.
    3. Different moral beliefs demonstrate differing levels of persistence. This, I don't know that I can provide any proof for. I guess the best argument I have here is that a society that ascribes high moral value to science and technology is more likely to survive than a society that ascribes high moral value to traditions and conservatism, assuming all other qualities are the same. With societies, as compared to organisms, we're dealing with a relatively small sample space with more confounding factors, so I guess here I rely on my own intuition to make this leap.
    4. Individuals and societies compete. Some individuals reproduce; others don't, but on the individual level, the patterns are not easily observable. On the societal level, it's easier to see how societies compete, but it's harder to ascribe any moral system to a society and then to ascribe its higher survival value to its moral system, but again, as an example, an aggressively expansionist and warlike society will likely wipe out a pacifist peacemaking society and take over their territory and resources.

    This from these four premises, if you agree that they apply to morality, I'd conclude that the moral belief systems we have -now- are the results of evolution. So in response to a question earlier about whether or not aliens would have the same morals as we did, I'd say no. The conditions under which their moral systems developed would be as drastically distinct as the conditions under which their biological systems developed. There may be some general rules - like they would have to avoid mutually assured destruction - that would likely be incorporated in their moral systems, but not necessarily, so long as mutually assured destruction was avoided in some, not necessarily moral, way.

    And as for Zakkiel's assertion that there exists a contradiction here:
    Evolution caused our conception of morals

    and

    Reason causes our conception of morals

    I'd say that's an incorrect perception of the situation. If one holds an evolutionary belief system, which I might - I'm not sure - then reason is also a product of evolution. Evolution is the process in which variation is produced (mutation), probabilistically compared (competition), propagated (inheritance) and selected for survival. Reason, I would suggest, has actually been a tool in the evolutionary survival of human beings. Those of us who were/are incapable of reason are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to survival and reproduction. That is not to say unreasonable people can't exist - detrimental genetic traits exist too after all, like Huntington's chorea - or that there is only one "correct" form of reason - see the genetic variation between people - but that those of us capable of reasoning will tend to survive, so reason has propagated as a characteristic trait of our species. If reasoning in certain ways is advantageous over other ways, then those ways will tend to dominate, but perhaps not entirely.

    I would say, in the biological analogy, reason takes the place of mutation/genetic drift/migration etc,. It's a/the means by which moral variation is introduced and it sometimes disturbs the status quo of basic population dynamics, such as when somebody changes their mind. Reason is a/the means by which individuals arrive at their own individual moral beliefs, but evolution is the means of determining whether those moral beliefs survive and propagate across larger populations over the long-term. While you may have arrived at your own moral beliefs via reasoning, evolution will determine whether your moral beliefs will persist in grand scheme.

    Here is a bit of a contradiction. Evolution is probabilistic, based on deterministic facts. Morality is supposed to be absolute, based on free will. Morality stipulates that which is right and wrong; evolution doesn't care what's right or wrong, so long as it survives. This, I think, is where I diverge from most moral realists - that and I'm a skeptic - your moral beliefs lead you to perform certain actions, many of which do have an objective effect on your survival, or more importantly the survival of your moral beliefs. Survival is the only objective fact of relevance - whether a given moral belief is "right" or "wrong" in the long run is determined purely by its ability to survive. It doesn't matter how strongly how many people might believe, as the Amish do, that technology is evil or even whether technology is evil - those who embrace technology will out-compete those without it in the long run, and eventually as the population shifts and those who reject technology are wiped out, technology will be "good" - it enabled survival for those who did. It's not that there's an objective reality that technology is good - it's just that it will almost inevitably end up that technology will be good once it exists.

    ... Maybe this isn't moral realism at all. I'm not so good at defining schools of thought. If it's not, feel free to correct me, so I don't sound like an ass if I call myself a moral realist....

  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    You can't draw the line with two balls of burning gas.

    That gas combining is the same gas as in the outer shell of the sun.

    You could only define it by going into the core of the sun where more complicated reactions are taking place and as you say, that's getting fucking arbitrary.

    It's a damn good example.

    If it applied. If he understood the paragraph I posted, he would understand why it doesn't.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Actually, it questions the assumptions in your paragraph.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Actually, it questions the assumptions in your paragraph.

    This.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Actually, it questions the assumptions in your paragraph.

    This.

    The only assumption I made in writing that paragraph is that you, the reader, exist as a mind. It is really impossible to write a paragraph with fewer assumptions outside of pure logic. The unknowability of others is a fact, indeed the bedrock fact of all reasoning about the world, and has been known as such since at least Descartes.

    Smash Bros - 4639-8632-8299 (WA)
  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    The unknowability of others is a fact, indeed the bedrock fact of all reasoning about the world, and has been known as such since at least Descartes.

    ...unless you believe in God, because Descartes says that God is more knowable than the self.

    Not to turn this into a religious thread.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Actually, it questions the assumptions in your paragraph.

    This.

    The only assumption I made in writing that paragraph is that you, the reader, exist as a mind. It is really impossible to write a paragraph with fewer assumptions outside of pure logic. The unknowability of others is a fact, indeed the bedrock fact of all reasoning about the world, and has been known as such since at least Descartes.

    This has been assumed as such since Descartes.

    No, your assumption is that the existence is functionally separate, yet people can be influenced in ways that diffuse their self identity, resulting in actions they would not normally make that they cannot easily attribute to a singular entity. Do you say members of a mob are due to themselves or due to the mob.

    It's easy to cop out and say it's their personal responsibility, but in practise (and this is regardless of culture or morality) a large number of people can diffuse what people define as their "self identity" to the point that the line between that person and the other in the mob becomes meaningless.

    In fact one of the primary ways of dealing with a mob is to call each individuals attention to their "self", through name/personal characteristics/a mirror, etc. The intent is to remind them of what their definition of self should be, because it's being lost in the crowd.

    I can't define who is who easily in crowd dynamics, I can only describe what happens. Some of the shit that happens in large group situations is beyond bizarre.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    See: Black Friday at Wal*Mart :P

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I didn't even fucking touch that thread.

    Any explanation of situational influences in there would have had a violent reaction against the status quo, so I didn't see the point.

    But yes.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Actually, it questions the assumptions in your paragraph.

    This.

    The only assumption I made in writing that paragraph is that you, the reader, exist as a mind. It is really impossible to write a paragraph with fewer assumptions outside of pure logic. The unknowability of others is a fact, indeed the bedrock fact of all reasoning about the world, and has been known as such since at least Descartes.

    This has been assumed as such since Descartes.

    No, your assumption is that the existence is functionally separate, yet people can be influenced in ways that diffuse their self identity, resulting in actions they would not normally make that they cannot easily attribute to a singular entity. Do you say members of a mob are due to themselves or due to the mob.

    It's easy to cop out and say it's their personal responsibility, but in practise (and this is regardless of culture or morality) a large number of people can diffuse what people define as their "self identity" to the point that the line between that person and the other in the mob becomes meaningless.

    In fact one of the primary ways of dealing with a mob is to call each individuals attention to their "self", through name/personal characteristics/a mirror, etc. The intent is to remind them of what their definition of self should be, because it's being lost in the crowd.

    I can't define who is who easily in crowd dynamics, I can only describe what happens. Some of the shit that happens in large group situations is beyond bizarre.

    Of course you can define who is who. Mobs are not magical people-fogs.

    For the rest, you're still talking about the causes of feelings and actions. But I'm not arguing that people are causally singular. People in a mob are influenced by each other. That does not make them a telepathic hive-mind.

    Smash Bros - 4639-8632-8299 (WA)
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Actually, it questions the assumptions in your paragraph.

    This.

    The only assumption I made in writing that paragraph is that you, the reader, exist as a mind. It is really impossible to write a paragraph with fewer assumptions outside of pure logic. The unknowability of others is a fact, indeed the bedrock fact of all reasoning about the world, and has been known as such since at least Descartes.

    This has been assumed as such since Descartes.

    No, your assumption is that the existence is functionally separate, yet people can be influenced in ways that diffuse their self identity, resulting in actions they would not normally make that they cannot easily attribute to a singular entity. Do you say members of a mob are due to themselves or due to the mob.

    It's easy to cop out and say it's their personal responsibility, but in practise (and this is regardless of culture or morality) a large number of people can diffuse what people define as their "self identity" to the point that the line between that person and the other in the mob becomes meaningless.

    In fact one of the primary ways of dealing with a mob is to call each individuals attention to their "self", through name/personal characteristics/a mirror, etc. The intent is to remind them of what their definition of self should be, because it's being lost in the crowd.

    I can't define who is who easily in crowd dynamics, I can only describe what happens. Some of the shit that happens in large group situations is beyond bizarre.

    Of course you can define who is who. Mobs are not magical people-fogs.

    For the rest, you're still talking about the causes of feelings and actions. But I'm not arguing that people are causally singular. People in a mob are influenced by each other. That does not make them a telepathic hive-mind.

    By what metric are you defining who is who.

    I hope it's not physical. We are talking about self here, from an individuals point of view.

    We are not talking about observing someone else acting.

    You have a very pessimistic view of other peoples opinions Zakkiel, I wish you would stop assuming people are making ridiculous points that they are not.

    The key distinction is that you wouldn't be able to easily measure or perceive that a mobs actions are (your ridiculous strawman is being used but it's still a fucking strawman) "telepathic hive mind" or influenced by a complicated series of interactions. You can't measure either of them, there's too many variables. By the same view the essentialist view of self as an individual point is pretty useless, as you can't measure that reliably either.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008

    By what metric are you defining who is who.

    I hope it's not physical. We are talking about self here, from an individuals point of view.

    ...

    By the same view the essentialist view of self as an individual point is pretty useless, as you can't measure that reliably either.

    Of course I'm talking about a physical metric, as that is the only one that applies to distinguishing other people. Unless you mean to say that a person in a mob themselves can't define who they are. This is entirely possible. A person with severe brain damage or under the influence of some drugs probably can't either, because the cognitive faculties necessary to handle the question have been impaired. A sufficiently impaired person also can't do basic addition. This is not reason to "question" the "assumption" that 5+6=11.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    It's amazing how easy it is for someone to distory their sense of self. You can make someone react to touching a hand that they simply think is theirs.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    No, but it is enough to question it's application. I'm not saying those two suns aren't separate. I'm saying you can't usefully distinguish between them just because you can conceive that they should be separate.

    Incidentally, where the hell did this offtopic shit about self come from.

    I'd like to drop it now, if you don't mind. Save it for a selfhood thread or something.

    Let's move back to moral reasoning. Unless you have an objection that reasoning requires self? (I'm just asking in case)

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I agree. I'm still waiting for that evidence.

    And then later I will ask why anyone should care.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    It's amazing how easy it is for someone to distory their sense of self. You can make someone react to touching a hand that they simply think is theirs.
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The self is physical.

    Care to clear this up?

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Care to clear this up?

    Being physical does not make something infallable.

    See: Computer hacking.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Care to clear this up?

    Being physical does not make something infallable.

    See: Computer hacking.

    You just contradicted yourself. Please fix that contradiction.

    edit* You snuck that edit in there. Yet it still makes no sense what so ever. Am I allowed to rape you or something?

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Identify the contradiction.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Pretty sure when you say physical they're thinking of the reductionist physical.

    Or the physical systems of philosophy that were defined as a reaction against some aspect of another theory, resulting in distortion of what they think you mean by it.

    As an example, to podly, saying physical probably makes him assume you are rejecting most aspects of a self based philosophy, since that's how most philosophies tend to go.

    Is this right? I see a lot of terms being responded to amongst you guys as a result of assumptions. I think it'd be a good rule for people to ask others to define their terms before jumping the gun.

    For example if you are arguing, stop and ask each other what you mean by their terms. It works.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Attack of the homonyms again? Argh.

    In the realm of philosophy, I'm not much higher up than a standard layperson. I'm using relatively simple, standard English here.

    When I say physical, I mean things like electrons and photons and gravity and so on.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    This is what I mean, not any particular theory of philosophy.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    It's amazing how easy it is for someone to distory their sense of self. You can make someone react to touching a hand that they simply think is theirs.
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The self is physical.

    I am producing my understanding of your thoughts. Please correct my errors.

    Who you ARE is the physical, material being. Your thoughts come from your brain. Your hand is your hand. When you slice a loaf of bread for enegery for your system, you hand is the one holding on to the bread with one hand and the other one slicing. The self is physical.

    Someone, then thinks that this hand is theirs BECAUSE it is their physical hand. They react because they themselves have been touched.

    What am I missing here?

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    I'm using relatively simple, standard English here.

    And that's the problem. Without prior definition, any given"simple, standard English" word covers a wide range of equivocal meanings.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    "Sense of self."

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Hachface wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    I'm using relatively simple, standard English here.

    And that's the problem. Without prior definition, any given"simple, standard English" word covers a wide range of equivocal meanings.

    Yes, but he can't use philosophy either that would make it worse.

    Hence why I told him to define his own terms before. :P

    Really a computer running a program is a really good way to think about it. It's very simplistic and implies restrictions that aren't correct, but if you could imagine a self programming, self correcting, perhaps even self building computer running a program (and yes I am lolling at needing to use self in all of those, stupid goddam language), you'd lose a lot of those unhelpful restrictions on the analogy. It's still running something, generating the program as a function of whatever it's physical process is. If the physical process halts or errors so does the program. This happens to people too. Brain lesions or physical disabilities can change people drastically so that the standard function of self doesn't apply.

    Same with children, a young child hasn't finished developing, so "self" concepts derived from an adults introspection, as in most philosophy, is being applied to an entity that hasn't reached the same level.

    You want to know something really interesting I found out. Deaf children who aren't taught sign language have massive societal difficulties with other people. They simply don't get interaction. Yet their only physical problem is with their ears.

    Language is important.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    "Sense of self."

    No. It is not sense of self. Because you specifically said
    Incenjucar wrote:
    The self is physical.

    If is there physical self, then it is not a sense of the self, their hand is their self. A
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    "Sense of self."

    would be a reflexive agency, a metaphysical Sartrean ego which reflects back upon its being in the world.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly stop you're going to hurt yourself.

    My position is physical, physical as in atoms and electrons. Stay in that context.

    The senses I'm talking about are also physical.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Podly stop you're going to hurt yourself.

    My position is physical, physical as in atoms and electrons. Stay in that context.

    The senses I'm talking about are also physical.

    That's fine. The self is physical. You are reducing it to the atoms. But you can't stop there, because atoms have sub-particles etc. So you are saying that humans are living in a fantasy-world, where they compose a hand from atoms and the hand is just a dream.

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »

    would be a reflexive agency, a metaphysical Sartrean ego which reflects back upon its being in the world.

    You should probably define your terms, too, since it's a bit unreasonable to expect everyone here to go and read Being and Nothingness.

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