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View Poll Results: Are you significant? (see OP for question)

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  • Yes, I am significant, my existence is not pure chance

    13 40.63%
  • No - My creation was not pure chance, but I am still insignificant

    5 15.63%
  • No - I am the result of chaos theory at work

    11 34.38%
  • I do not exist

    4 12.50%
  • Other (please post)

    4 12.50%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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  1. #11
    Senior Member Langrenus's Avatar
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    I want to respond, but will refrain

    Geoff, how are you planning to cross-reference to religion?

  2. #12
    respect the brick C.J.Woolf's Avatar
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    No. The actuality of my existence is but one of a very large number of possibilities.

    My apologies if someone else said it better.

  3. #13
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    .
    Last edited by JivinJeffJones; 09-12-2007 at 03:22 PM.

  4. #14
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    Jumble up any sufficiently large set of variables, and a pattern will emerge. A butterfly flaps its wings and a storm hits Florida etc.

    The human mind/personality can be seen to be the emergent result of the chaos within the human brain... neurones, chemicals and external stimuli.

    In this instance, the billions of organisms can be seen to be the set, and your existence along with other humans an emergent property of its chaotic nature.
    None of this makes a jot of sense.

    The human mind certainly doesn't "emerge" from "chaos." That doesn't follow, since emergence isn't even contigent on chaos in the first place.

    In short, chaos theory concerns the unpredictability of complex systems, because even the small difference in initial conditions can have far reaching consequences. The inability of any measuring instrument to capture a sufficiently high resolution report of the initial conditions, effectively places a physical constraint on human knowledge. The clasic example is the weather, where the initial conditions are so complicated that even if all our physical theories are true, we still wouldn't be able to accurately predict it. The "chaos" is a reflection not upon the system itself, but our relationship to the system, which will forever appear "chaotic" to limited beings like ourselves.

    Though emergent processes are often chaotic in this sense, in no way does emergence depend on chaos. The notion that the mind results from chaos in the human brain is particularly misguided.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  5. #15
    Senior Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    Wow, this is going to be an interesting discus...

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Hillberspace could explain it, I'm sure - I'd PM him if you really want a painful... I mean... complete answer.)


    Nocturne pretty much nailed the distinction between chaos and emergent properties, anyway.

    There's really two questions at work here, I think.

    The first it the question of teleology - is there a plan at work? Is there a purpose (divine or natural) such that our existence plays a role? Theories derived from religions like Christianity answer this with a resounding 'yes,' of course - God exists, He created the Universe with a plan (whether you believe in evolution as his tool or you believe in a young Earth), and humanity, and we as individuals, were created as part, even as the focus of, that plan.

    Biologists, on the other hand, reject teleology. Random variation is a cornerstone of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and there has been experimental validation of this belief. Variations don't occur in order to bring about a specific outcome - the outcome (even something as broad as survival) is a side effect.

    The second question, which gets even more at the heart of randomness, is what would happen if we "played back the tape?" If we were able to rewind the Universe, undoing every chemical reaction, and then allowed it to run again, would we see the outcome the same as we see it now?

    Although most people would answer no, this is a little bit more of an open question, and it is perhaps a matter of degree - how far can you rewind the tape without having a completely different outcome? If a few bits of matter had zigged rather than zagged, would we have today a world of dinosaurs rather than mammals? Could a different set of species have survived one of the mass extinction events, and if so, what would life on Earth look like today?
    JBS Haldane's Four Stages of Scientific Theories:

    1. This is worthless nonsense.
    2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
    3. This is true, but quite unimportant.
    4. I always said so.

  6. #16
    Lallygag Moderator Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    None of this makes a jot of sense.

    The human mind certainly doesn't "emerge" from "chaos." That doesn't follow, since emergence isn't even contigent on chaos in the first place.

    In short, chaos theory concerns the unpredictability of complex systems, because even the small difference in initial conditions can have far reaching consequences. The inability of any measuring instrument to capture a sufficiently high resolution report of the initial conditions, effectively places a physical constraint on human knowledge. The clasic example is the weather, where the initial conditions are so complicated that even if all our physical theories are true, we still wouldn't be able to accurately predict it. The "chaos" is a reflection not upon the system itself, but our relationship to the system, which will forever appear "chaotic" to limited beings like ourselves.

    Though emergent processes are often chaotic in this sense, in no way does emergence depend on chaos. The notion that the mind results from chaos in the human brain is particularly misguided.
    Well, that was pretty blunt. I'm glad I don't make a jot of sense

    My terminology was loose. Sorry, I was driving at consciousness being an emergent property of the underlying mass of unpredictability within the human head. It's a theory, that's all.

    Though perhaps a subject for a different thread, there are a multitude of theories as to how and why the human mind arises, yes?

    I was referring, perhaps poorly, to the studies of someone far more qualified than myself, in this book :

    Basic Books

    Seems to me that the unformed (for example infant) human mind starts in a chaotic, disordered state -neurones randomly firing as the individual learns- or perhaps just such a fundamental lack of understanding of how the brain operates, that it appears to be so (?).

    As a result the human mind and consciousness can indeed be seen to be a property that arises from the seething mass underneath, of a system largely unpredictable.

    In what way is that so particularly misguided. I'm (slightly) insulted!

    Can you enlighten me as to how my mind does arise? I would welcome an explanation that could help me understand how consciousness arises with a better fit than it being an emergent property.

    Yes, I *know* this isn't a strong academic subject of mine, but I'd hope to be willing to learn and ignorant rather than misguided.

    -Geoff

  7. #17
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    ' "I" is an illusion. Only God is real.' Rumi
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  8. #18
    Senior Member wyrdsister's Avatar
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    Good question Geoff.

    I'm not here by chance, my ancestors must have done something good.

    I'm here to procreate and be a good human. Coz I want to be.

    Will I ever really know if it is destiny? Nope maybe only at my death.

    Some chance obviously played a part... but some was because my ancestors were clever and shrewed for sure!
    Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon and Nordic culture roughly corresponding to fate. It is ancestral to Modern English weird, which has acquired a very different meaning.

  9. #19
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    I made a wrong vote yesterday. Let me correct to:
    - Yes, I am significant, my existence is not pure chance.

    I'm starting to believe in destiny/faith. I don't believe that chaos really exist or that anything is random.
    Verbal IQ Test

    SubFacor IQ score = 65
    Subscale percentile = 1

    You appear to have a very limited vocabulary and lack the ability to identify the correct responses for a variety of different questions. A deficient vocabulary can hinder you in many ways; you may struggle to find the correct words when speaking, fail to understand what others are communicating to you, or come across as inarticulate to others.

  10. #20
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Park View Post
    I made a wrong vote yesterday. Let me correct to:
    - Yes, I am significant, my existence is not pure chance.

    I'm starting to believe in destiny/faith. I don't believe that chaos really exist or that anything is random.
    Hmm, just out of curiousity...

    If there is such a thing as fate/destiny/predestination, why would your life become more significant? That is to say, if you are predestined, are you not also predestined to have a child (or not) and continue on the predestination path? Why does this imply significance? You share far less dependencies that say, the stars, the moon, the earth... all of which would be equally predestined...

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