Re: virus: (un)selfishness

Martz (
Sat, 26 Apr 1997 12:50:10 +0100

On Sat, 26 Apr 1997, Robin Faichney <> wrote:
>Martz wrote:
>>On Fri, 25 Apr 1997, Robin Faichney <> wrote:
>><snip Dennett, self, Cartesian Theatre and dualism>
>>OK. We're back down to definitions again. I'm obviously using 'self' in
>>a looser manner to you. For the purposes of this discussion do a quick
>>mental search-and-replace and where I have said 'self' substitute 'the
>>biological entity under discussion'. Does that help?
>Don't think so, sorry!

Are you sure?

>>See above. 'Self-interest' becomes 'in the interest of the biological
>OK, so you're talking about the entity as a whole. Fair enough.

See. It *did* help.

>Except that, if in pursuit of the motivation of an action you
>descend to the level of individual neurons (which I think is what
>you suggested),

No. I suggested that until we were capable of doing so we would never be
able to prove motivation. I did not suggest it alone would answer the
questions for us. In fact if memory serves I didn't even claim that
mapping neuron firings *would* help. I'm sure there was a 'perhaps' in
there somewhere.

>>>>It also tells us that reflection alone *cannot* reveal our motives to
>>>>us. It also requires examination from an outside source.
>>>No, it just tells us introspection is not entirely reliable.
>>???...That's what I just said.
>There's a difference between saying that something is generally
>insufficient, and saying it's not always sufficient. OK, it's a
>matter of degree, but it seemed significant to me here.

I stand by my original statement. If it isn't "entirely reliable" (or at
least reliable within certain *known* error bounds) then it is telling
us nothing but a handful of maybes. I can try to analyse my motives from
now until doomsday and whatever answers I find may be acceptable to me
but if I intend to try to *prove* motivation (which is what we were
discussing) I need *reliable* data and *reliable* methods.


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