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Comment author: tingram 21 December 2013 08:53:48PM 5 points [-]

A cucumber is bitter--throw it away. There are briars in the path--turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, "And why were such things put into the world?"

--Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.50

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 June 2013 09:23:09PM 6 points [-]

Which is exactly Dennett's point in context: the idea that you are a brain in a vat is only conceivable if you don't think about the computing power that would be necessary for a convincing simulation.

Dreams can be quite convincing simulations that don't need that much computing power.

The worlds that people who do astral traveling perceive can be quite complex. Complex enough to convince people who engage in that practice that they really are on an astral plane. Does that mean that the people are really on an astral plane and aren't just imagining it?

Comment author: tingram 07 June 2013 02:07:15AM 0 points [-]

I suggest you read the opening chapter of Consciousness Explained. Someone's posted it online here.

Comment author: khafra 04 June 2013 11:44:13AM 2 points [-]

It just takes some imagination. Hollow out both the Earth and the Moon to reduce their gravitational pull; support the ladder with carbon nanotube filaments; stave off collapse by pushing it around with high-efficiency ion impulse engines; etc.

I agree, though, that philosophers often make too much of the distinction between "logically impossible" and "physically impossible." There's probably no in principle possible way to hollow out the Earth significantly while retaining its structure; etc.

Comment author: tingram 04 June 2013 01:50:23PM 4 points [-]

I think that often "logically possible" means "possible if you don't think too hard about it". Which is exactly Dennett's point in context: the idea that you are a brain in a vat is only conceivable if you don't think about the computing power that would be necessary for a convincing simulation.

Comment author: tgb 03 June 2013 06:38:48PM 2 points [-]

That's an interesting opening comment on regretting choosing to speak more than choosing not to speak. In particular, it brings to mind studies of the elderly's regrets in life and how most of those are not-having-done's versus having-done's. These two aren't incompatible: if we remain silent 20 times for every time we speak, then we still regret remaining silent more than we regret speaking even if we regret each having-spoken 10 times as much as a not-having-spoken. Still, though, there seems to be some disagreement.

Comment author: tingram 03 June 2013 10:08:10PM *  3 points [-]

Obviously the fact that it's translated complicates things, and I don't know anything about Danish. But I think the first sentence is meant to be a piece of folk wisdom akin to "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." That is, he's not really concerned with the relative proportions of regret, but with the idea that it's better (safer, shrewder) to keep your counsel than to stake out a position that might be contradicted. In light of the rest of the text, this is the reading of the line that makes the most sense to me: equivocation and bet-hedging in the name of worldly safety are a symptom of the sin of despair. Compare:

Possibility then appears to the self ever greater and greater, more and more things become possible, because nothing becomes actual. At last it is as if everything were possible--but this is precisely when the abyss has swallowed up the self.

Comment author: tingram 03 June 2013 05:23:24AM 18 points [-]

It is said, for example, that a man ten times regrets having spoken, for the once he regrets his silence. And why? Because the fact of having spoken is an external fact, which may involve one in annoyances, since it is an actuality. But the fact of having kept silent! Yet this is the most dangerous thing of all. For by keeping silent one is relegated solely to oneself, no actuality comes to a man's aid by punishing him, by bringing down upon him the consequences of his speech. No, in this respect, to be silent is the easy way. But he who knows what the dreadful is, must for this very reason be most fearful of every fault, of every sin, which takes an inward direction and leaves no outward trace. So it is too that in the eyes of the world it is dangerous to venture. And why? Because one may lose. But not to venture is shrewd. And yet, by not venturing, it is so dreadfully easy to lose that which it would be difficult to lose in even the most venturesome venture, and in any case never so easily, so completely as if it were nothing...one's self. For if I have ventured amiss--very well, then life helps me by its punishment. But if I have not ventured at all--who then helps me?

--Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 03 June 2013 01:36:03AM 4 points [-]

I'm someone who still finds subjective experience mysterious, and I'd like to fix that. Does that book provide a good, gut-level, question-dissolving explanation?

Comment author: tingram 03 June 2013 01:42:43AM 1 point [-]

I think it does. It really is a virtuoso work of philosophy, and Dennett helpfully front-loaded it by putting his most astonishing argument in the first chapter. Anecdotally, I was always suspicious of arguments against qualia until I read what Dennett had to say on the subject. He brings in plenty of examples from philosophy, from psychological and scientific experiments, and even from literature to make things nice and concrete, and he really seems to understand the exact ways in which his position is counter-intuitive and makes sure to address the average person's intuitive objections in a fair and understanding way.

Comment author: tingram 03 June 2013 01:31:31AM 8 points [-]

He [the Inner Game player] reasons that since by definition the commonplace is what is experienced most often, the talent to be able to appreciate it is extremely valuable.

--W. Timothy Gallwey, Inner Tennis: Playing the Game

Comment author: tingram 03 June 2013 01:25:56AM 12 points [-]

From the remarkable opening chapter of Consciousness Explained:

One should be leery of these possibilities in principle. It is also possible in principle to build a stainless-steel ladder to the moon, and to write out, in alphabetical order, all intelligible English conversations consisting of less than a thousand words. But neither of these are remotely possible in fact and sometimes an impossibility in fact is theoretically more interesting than a possibility in principle, as we shall see.

--Daniel Dennett

Comment author: lukeprog 14 May 2013 11:58:56PM 10 points [-]

The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them — especially not from yourself. Instead of turning away in denial when you make a mistake, you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind...

Daniel Dennett

Comment author: tingram 15 May 2013 10:07:37PM 0 points [-]

Out of curiosity, would you happen to know which book this is from?

Comment author: tingram 01 May 2013 09:21:16PM *  6 points [-]

To recognize that some of the things our culture believes are not true imposes on us the duty of finding out which are true and which are not.

--Allan Bloom, Giants and Dwarfs, "Western Civ"

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