I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

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Brian Wachter
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I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by Brian Wachter »

In "Helgoland," Carlo Rovelli steers his magnificent Relational Quantum Mechanics straight into the void. He follows the threads of "interactions," his former ontological primitive, into the null space created in materialism when the material is removed and all that is left are reflections of objects that no longer exist.

The funny thing is this is extremely parsimonious--Occam's Razor is used to cut off the very hand of philosophy itself: "There is no ultimate or mysterious essence to understand--that is the true essence of our being."

So mind at large explicitly doesn't exist for Rovelli.

I would be mad too, if M@L were my ontological primitive.
As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges...


—Rainer Maria Rilke
j.joerg@posteo.de
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by j.joerg@posteo.de »

I could well imagine that talking of subject and object, of mind and matter, only makes sense in a relational framework and that a non-relational ontological primary (neither subject nor object and jet both at the same time) cannot be described, understood and made sense of in linguistic terms.

An incomprehensible ontological base that cannot even be thought of, would not be satisfactory to the intellect and would naturaly upset the mind. But I would suggest sitting with this fundamental discomfort and let it sink in deeply. Otherwise one might fall prey to corner oneself in a place that would remind me of the place where materialist corner themselves today. Especially when ones intellectual and social identity is intertwined with the philosophical path of finding truth or even with a certain position towards truth like materialism or idealism.

I could imagine, that Rovelli´s stance would ultimately end up for example in some sort of whiteheadian, non-substance process ontology where the ontological primary cannot be made sense of in terms of logic, thinking and language. One might only be able to state, “it is” and not even that. Isness. One could only be it but not say anything about it. No-thing would quite be a suitable description of that.
An ontology however that would spin off from a self-referential strange-looping Being as the ontological primary would be even more parsimonious than a Mind at Large that requires being and awareness in its base. And if an ontology that considers the whole of existence as a non-substantial dissociative process of the ontological base could take all of physics, chemistry and biology as the science of that dissociative process, it might even be explanatory more powerful. Exsistence (and thinking) would actually be an infinite regress in action...
Ben Iscatus
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by Ben Iscatus »

In "Helgoland," Carlo Rovelli steers his magnificent Relational Quantum Mechanics straight into the void. He follows the threads of "interactions," his former ontological primitive, into the null space created in materialism when the material is removed and all that is left are reflections of objects that no longer exist.

The funny thing is this is extremely parsimonious--Occam's Razor is used to cut off the very hand of philosophy itself: "There is no ultimate or mysterious essence to understand--that is the true essence of our being."
I really like your first paragraph, Brian! But I don't follow your second paragraph. To me, Rovelli seems to be trying to reduce materialism to interactions, but mysteriously omits Awareness. As BK says, even stuck in a sensory deprivation tank with amnesia, we would have endogenous Awareness. Rovelli is ignoring this, isn't he? Perhaps he's also an Illusionist.
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Brian Wachter
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by Brian Wachter »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:48 pm ...Perhaps he's also an Illusionist.
I don't know how to categorize Rovelli as he stands in "Helgoland." If you read the Stanford Encyclopedia article on RQM, it seems "interactions" are his ontological primitive. I believe this is the Rovelli that BK originally supported. But in his new book, he seems to abandon that in favor of what some on the board are labeling nihilism.

In philosophical terms he may well be. But after a cursory first read, "Helgoland" doesn't feel like nihilism. It feels like Buddhism.
As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges...


—Rainer Maria Rilke
j.joerg@posteo.de
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by j.joerg@posteo.de »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:48 pm As BK says, even stuck in a sensory deprivation tank with amnesia, we would have endogenous Awareness. Rovelli is ignoring this, isn't he?
BK is assuming this. He is not knowing or proofing this. After all, what you experience in a deprivation tank is the neural input of the by far biggest sensory organ you have, the proprioceptive and interoceptive feeling signals of your own body. The neural signaling of free nerve endings you can not shut off, only by death.

Rovelli is maybe assuming that there can only be an experience of something. And if there is no experience of anything, then there is no experiencing. Experience would need a subject object divide. I could follow Rovelli in this assumption. It doesn't seem ignorant to me. It rather seems not to assume something beyond the reach of science and experience...
Ben Iscatus
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by Ben Iscatus »

OK then, if Rovelli's not an illusionist, perhaps he's a closet animist. As David Abram says, animism is "a participatory way of perceiving that simply defies any sharp distinction between things that are animate and things that are inanimate. To the animate sensibility, everything is animate - everything moves - although some things, like granite boulders, move much slower than other things, like coyotes or swooping hawks".
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Brian Wachter
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by Brian Wachter »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:37 pm OK then, if Rovelli's not an illusionist, perhaps he's a closet animist. As David Abram says, animism is "a participatory way of perceiving that simply defies any sharp distinction between things that are animate and things that are inanimate. To the animate sensibility, everything is animate - everything moves - although some things, like granite boulders, move much slower than other things, like coyotes or swooping hawks".
I would say he's an "anti-animist" because in Helgoland he declares that a conscious observer is an "object" like any other. He also goes to great lengths to posit that we are on track to crack the hard problem with neuroscience. I'm a big fan of RQM but the latter pill I find hard to swallow.
As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges...


—Rainer Maria Rilke
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DandelionSoul
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by DandelionSoul »

Brian Wachter wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:50 pm
Ben Iscatus wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:37 pm OK then, if Rovelli's not an illusionist, perhaps he's a closet animist. As David Abram says, animism is "a participatory way of perceiving that simply defies any sharp distinction between things that are animate and things that are inanimate. To the animate sensibility, everything is animate - everything moves - although some things, like granite boulders, move much slower than other things, like coyotes or swooping hawks".
I would say he's an "anti-animist" because in Helgoland he declares that a conscious observer is an "object" like any other. He also goes to great lengths to posit that we are on track to crack the hard problem with neuroscience. I'm a big fan of RQM but the latter pill I find hard to swallow.
He honestly struck me as something like a panexperientialist. At any rate, there's a bit of a trick here with how he approaches the Hard Problem:

First, he deconstructs the naive materialist understanding of matter altogether.

Then he reconstructs matter as a network of relations with the first-person perspective being fundamental.

Then he acts like his conception of matter is the same conception that e.g. Chalmers is talking about when he discusses the Hard Problem and just can't understand why it's a Hard Problem, apparently without noticing that he's now redefined matter in just such a way that it naturally avoids the Hard Problem.

He's more or less reinvented some flavor of idealism or panpsychism, and then levies nonsense critiques against both of those views since there's no need for anything outside of materialism once we assume "matter" only exists from a first-person perspective.

It's the "assume a can opener" of metaphysics.
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Brian Wachter
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by Brian Wachter »

DandelionSoul wrote: Tue Jul 06, 2021 12:56 am
He honestly struck me as something like a panexperientialist. At any rate, there's a bit of a trick here with how he approaches the Hard Problem:

First, he deconstructs the naive materialist understanding of matter altogether.

Then he reconstructs matter as a network of relations with the first-person perspective being fundamental.

Then he acts like his conception of matter is the same conception that e.g. Chalmers is talking about when he discusses the Hard Problem and just can't understand why it's a Hard Problem, apparently without noticing that he's now redefined matter in just such a way that it naturally avoids the Hard Problem.

He's more or less reinvented some flavor of idealism or panpsychism, and then levies nonsense critiques against both of those views since there's no need for anything outside of materialism once we assume "matter" only exists from a first-person perspective.

It's the "assume a can opener" of metaphysics.
Interesting critique. Like a Dennett "assume a can opener?" More clever?
As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges...


—Rainer Maria Rilke
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DandelionSoul
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Re: I understand why BK is upset with Rovelli

Post by DandelionSoul »

Brian Wachter wrote: Tue Jul 06, 2021 1:44 am Interesting critique. Like a Dennett "assume a can opener?" More clever?
I'm not sure what you mean, but I got the phrase from the joke that takes a jab at economists:

A physicist, chemist, and economist are stranded on an island with only canned food available and no can opener. The physicist and chemist set to work trying to devise ways to open the can, and the economist says, "Assume we have a can opener..."
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