Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Your Summer Reading, Sorted!

I've just finished a new version of my book in draft, The Weirdness of the World. This one includes a new chapter co-written with Jacob Barandes, on some of the bizarre consequence of spatiotemporal infinitude.

Draft available here.

I'm looking for comments and suggestions. Here's your chance to improve my book before it goes into print! Isn't that better than emailing me your insightful idea after it's too late for me to change anything?

Table of Contents

1. In Praise of Weirdness

Part One: Bizarreness and Dubiety

2. If Materialism Is True, the United States Is Probably Conscious

• Chapter Two Appendix: Six Objections

3. Universal Bizarreness and Universal Dubiety

4. 1% Skepticism

5. Kant Meets Cyberpunk

Part Two: The Size of the Universe

6. Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World

7. Almost Everything You Do Causes Almost Everything (Under Certain Not Wholly Implausible Assumptions); or Infinite Puppetry

Part Three: More Perplexities of Consciousness

8. An Innocent and Wonderful Definition of Consciousness

9. The Loose Friendship of Visual Experience and Reality

10. Is There Something It’s Like to Be a Garden Snail? Or: How Sparse or Abundant Is Consciousness in the Universe?

11. The Moral Status of Future Artificial Intelligence: Doubts and a Dilemma

12. Weirdness and Wonder


Internet Philosopher said...

Are systems really as causally sensitive as it seems they are required to be for Infinite Puppetry to make sense?

For example, we are bombarded, presumably, constantly by all kinds of particles around us, and yet our minds are peaceful (or relatively peaceful?); we have thoughts in response to macro-level stimuli; we tend to remain as we are in various kinds of stable homeostatic conditions that are resistant to miniscule causal impacts in changing their behaviors. And further, if we were to imagine a system that was that sensitive, which was sensitive to such kinds of miniscule impacts, it is hard to imagine how it would not descend into a kind of chaos, for the ripple would have to scale up and have increasingly dramatic causal impacts on everything else, and if it could not maintain whatever state or course it was on prior to that without being susceptible to such impacts, it is hard to see how there could ever be any kind of order at all. So I guess my question is: what is the place of shape, order, law, and form in this picture, and how do we understand the kinds of causal impacts that can influence us?

As another example, you might think of the picture of a set of particles that are connected in various kinds or robust structural relationships, and some wave hits it from the side and impacts it, and it starts to move in the outermost particles, but the wave slowly dampens more and more until it disappears entirely.

So if we're sticking with the ripple metaphor, won't it depend greatly on what kind of thing the ripple impacts, its degree of resistance, and whether it can be dampened in some way?

Does our causation have infinite reach? It seems like this is required for Infinite Puppetry to be possible, but it seems like whatever impact we can have is limited by the finite power of whatever it is we are sending out into the universe and the way in which other elements of the universe would in turn limit it.

I guess I'm also worried that something that causally sensitive might be incoherent. Would something that sensitive simply become dissolved by those impacts? So anything that could be one of our puppets would in fact be the kind of thing that would be destroyed by cosmic radiation or something like that (or the background basic concrete particle conditions and micro-particle interactions in their region of space)? Anyway lots of questions I had but it was super interesting!

Paul D. Van Pelt said...

I do like a good read! It may be serious, biographical, non-fiction, philosophical or what-have-you. Stopped reading sci-fi, though. Weird is, sometimes OK, too. I read an anecdotal account, years ago---one of the books which led me to philosophy. Someone else might be likewise interested. The book, Future of the Body, was written by Michael Murphy---or, that may have been Murphey. Fairly long, and heavily metaphysical.

Arnold said...

6. Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World...
...please change to...Experimental Evidence for Existence of Internal and External and In-between ourselves, then relate them to one another...

Part Three: More Perplexities of Consciousness...
...please take time to spell out aware feel sense imagine mind listen...Are they all the same as conscious today...

Is it true... nothing about the Wisdom of I am Hear Now...

I'm to old to 'read books' but love your posts...thanks

Emily said...

I read some of the previous draft last year and really enjoyed it. I meant to send you comments on a couple of points, but life got in the way and I ended up forgetting. Your writing is inventive, clear, and a lot of fun.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the comments and kind words, folks!

Internet Philosopher: You write: "So if we're sticking with the ripple metaphor, won't it depend greatly on what kind of thing the ripple impacts, its degree of resistance, and whether it can be dampened in some way?" I don't think I need to commit to a high level of perturbability in most systems. Almost every system might be robust against the perturbations of the ripple so that a small perturbation causes only small changes down the line. Other possibility is that the ripple causes *no change whatsoever*, so that there's no particle emitted by the perturbed system that travels out on a trajectory different than it would have otherwise taken. This kind of "ripple stopping" event should be rare. Even if the particle hits a black hole and is absorbed, it should slightly increase the mass of the black hole, which would then cause subtle differences in how the hole bends light nearby. We can disregard such rare ripple stoppers by always choosing m multiple particles from each perturbed system instead of just one, so that the number of particles in the ripple is n^m after n interactions, minus the ripple stoppers. (See the full text for the details of the n^m strategy.) The other kind of possibly rare event is when the ripple causes a large change in the system -- the change of the sort we are looking for (such as someone living who would otherwise have died). To solve this problem, we just wait long enough to have the rare event of the type we are looking for.

Round robin said...

Death is creeping closer.

Matthew 14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

Revelation 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

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you don't have the GUTS to
Email me !
Matthew and Revelation match up