- Jan 2020
David Chalmers: I think I may have introduced this actually years ago. I call it “The law of minimization of mystery”. I was making fun of some people who wanted to tie consciousness and quantum mechanics. But I do think there are interesting potential links between the two. I mean. The problem in quantum mechanics is not just that it’s mysterious.It’s a very specific problem. How do the standard dynamics of quantum mechanics which has these two processes: Schrodinger evolution and wave function collapse. Mostly the wave function evolves this way, except on certain times, when you make a measurement, the wave function changes in this special way, and that’s totally standard quantum mechanics.
Some great points here.
He is saying something like "consciousness collapses the quantum wave function"
Bundling quantum mechanics and consciousness together… “The law of minimisation of mysteries” (a sarcastic point).
“maybe these two weird things are just one weird thing”
But it seems natural because there is this mysterious. Process, collapse of a wave function, that happens on measurement and what is measurement but conscious observation?
I’ve argued you need something new in the story and the kind of view I’ve been drawn towards are views that take consciousness as something sort of fundamental and irreducible in our picture of the natural world in the same way that we take space and time and mass and charge as fundamental. We’re used to the idea that some things are fundamental. If you can’t explain electromagnetic phenomena in terms of your old laws, your old properties and laws, spacetime, mass, Newtonian dynamics, you bring in something else. Electric charge, Maxwell’s laws.Likewise, I think for consciousness. So I’ve been drawn towards views that take consciousness as fundamental and what that comes to in practice in philosophy is either you’ve got the choice between either a dualist view where you’ve got. You’ve got the physical world, which is one thing, and then you’ve got say the mind, you’ve got consciousness, which is another thing.They’re both fundamental properties distinct from each other. And then there are laws that connect them. That’s one view. And the other view is panpsychism, which says consciousness is somehow present at the very basis of the physical world and maybe the physics that we know and love basically somehow fundamentally involves consciousness somehow.
Should we consider consciousness as a fundamental of the universe like space-time mass and magnetism? I.e., Irreducible.
This leads to dualism and panpsychism. The latter apparently asserts that there is some element of consciousness that is part of the equation and physical processes and maybe its present everywhere.
think the most interesting of which is that this whole idea of consciousness is an illusion. A pathology built up by our cognitive systems to believe we have these special properties of consciousness introspectively, even though we don’t.
"Illusionism" (1.21:15) There is an argument that our brain and the physical processes trick us into thinking we have the special properties of consciousness.
I don’t understand this argument, if we don’t have consciousness then who is in there that can be tricked?
David Chalmers: Yeah, but I also think there are these sociological effects where most people think… we got this on the PhilPapers survey that most people think that most people think a certain thing, even though most people think the opposite.
Inconsistency between first and second orderly beliefs among philosophers... in the survey there are many cases where people think everyone thinks A when actually most people think B.
I’m sure that many of them are among listeners potentially. It seems like there’s a bit of a stream of this among rationalists and I often find natural scientists, I just can’t get them to accept that there’s like anything strange about consciousness existing.
people who deny that there is anything puzzling or special about consciousness. ... These people are just being JERKS.
David Chalmers: Well, the big obvious thing that can be said in defense of philosophy here is the thing that I said already. Which is philosophy by its nature is the field where there’s disagreement, because once we obtain methods for producing an agreement on questions and reasonably decisive ways, we spin it off and it’s no longer philosophy.So from that perspective, philosophy has been this incredibly effective incubator of disciplines. Physics span out of philosophy. Psychology span out of philosophy. Arguably to some extent, economics and linguistics span out of philosophy. So what usually happens is not that we entirely solve a whole of a philosophical problem, but we come up with some methods of say, making progress experimentally or formally on a certain subquestion or aspects of that question and then that gets spun off. The part that we haven’t figured out how to think about well enough that remains philosophy.
I hadn't appreciated this point before
Robert Wiblin: Yeah. I guess in politics it seems that that brings out people’s tribal instincts, so they tend to group together for practical reasons, if not intellectual reasons, like kind of all sharing the same views or like wanting to fall into line and are particularly incentivized to do that. An interesting thing, I’ll provide a link to a study looking at how ideologically tightly grouped are people in politics, which found that uneducated people just like have views all over the place. Their views on one question don’t really predict their views on another.
The Ezra Klein take on Donald Kinder and Nathan Kalmoe’s "Neither Liberal nor Conservative: Ideological Innocence in the American Public. "?
So are you saying that you think political people group together more in politics than philosophers do in philosophy? Hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison here, of course, as most people don't think deeply about these philosophical questions.
David Chalmers: I don’t know. Where I come from, 0.56 is a pretty high correlation coefficient. So I don’t know. Maybe it depends on the area.
seems high to me also
And I think at that point, wherein something like in a verbal dispute, which can happen in these cases where you have different people mean different things by free will and well, I think that diagnosis is more apt for some of these questions than for others, but like this is the case again where your average philosopher uses free will, well the thing tied to moral responsibility. Many people outside philosophy may still think, ah, why use free will for that? I want to use free will for this other thing. This ability to fundamentally go against the laws of nature. And then we just have a difference about which one is worth caring about.
Free will cop-out
They get into the discussion of free will and they answer the question they think is easy -- moral responsibility is compatible with a lack of free-will (they say, they never presented the complete argument).
This feels like somewhat of a cop-out, akin to a political spokesperson answering the question they wanted to answer and not the one you asked. (And then claiming they answered your question).
Free will ... People aren't primarily interested in it for the 'moral responsibility' question.
I want to know if I have free will to know if I'm in control, to know if anything I do matters or if I'm just an automaton/robot.
Now someone interested in free will could say, well, that wasn’t what I cared about (moral responsibility).
I'm that guy. I'm saying exactly this.
What is it like to be you right now? You’re seeing this text on the screen, you smell the coffee next to you, feel the warmth of the cup, and hear your housemates arguing about whether Home Alone was better than Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. There’s a lot going on in your head — your conscious experiences
First of all, this is a great podcast and a great episode. Lots of great exchanges. This actually 'adds value' (cringey term, sorry) in terms of your understanding of those topics that come up in deeper-than-deep late-night wistful hours conversations. If you are interested in what it means to live you should listen to this episode. Don't waste your life not listening to this episode.
- Dec 2019
David Chalmers on the nature and ethics of consciousness
Anyone here? I'll add my notes, wonder what others think.