Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Mundi Omnicriminalibus I

 The Mental Grundnorm of Morality  

Coherence and Consistency of Sense

When one considers the reasons for someone's beliefs, or for their actions, one common denominator is their own commitment.  You may hear all the reasons in the world for believing in your own senses, but it is a moot point. You believe in your senses only after the fact of something so plainly evident that they are beyond question to begin with.  By what reference point do you doubt your senses?  You may do so only by a reference point that takes them for granted, one which is within the frame of reference that it can only selectively call into question, and in a relative way.  In other words, one cannot reasonably doubt the senses per se, but can reasonably doubt only their veracity relative to a functional norm of sensation, or one may doubt them with regard to an interpretation of them, which is a matter different than the senses as such.  

When it comes to beliefs and actions, one is either operating with a sense of one's bodily environment, of the world, or one is not.  And if one is, that relation of the self to the world must either be consistent and clear to the point of validly registering at least some facts of the world relative to one's own body, or they are not properly senses at all.  They are then only sensations, the raw material of the subjective side of sense.  But the only functional meaning of the term "to sense" is that one's senses bear a validly informative relation to the world.  Without going into the arcane turf of philosophy on the matter, one can also deduce from these premises other facts about the senses. For example, that if one were to demonstrate the invalidity of a sense, one must have at least one other sense which validly operates to serve as a frame of reference for that demonstration.  If my sense of sight is distorted so that I falsely see as crooked what is in fact straight, I can demonstrate this only by another sense, such as by the sense of touch.  The old saw of a twig seeming distorted under the surface of water is just a sufficient example.

 Beyond Brain and Body

One's reasons for belief in one's senses being therefore in this way unconditional, there are required conditions for their doubt, which can be established only by reference to the senses.  Even if one were a "brain in a vat", whose only form of sensory experiences where those supplied by its nerves being stimulated by some means, the fundamental ground of experience is unchanged in essence. Let's suppose that such stimulation were achieved through some complex connections to an electronic device or other system.  That is posited in the hypothesis as an abnormal environment for the brain's reception of sense data. Then one's very hypothesis constitutes a reference to the facts of the sense environment of that brain as being abnormal, perhaps fundamentally so.  It is not receiving its sense experiences from their valid source, therefore it is assumed that they are invalid in the hypothesis. Further, discussions of convincing simulations being likewise assumed to be simulations by necessity. It is necessarily the case as provided by the hypothesized fact of their being simulations, but also in that the subjective domain of experience which corresponds to them. That is because it is receiving falsified input about its environment, which is plainly evident in the hypothesis of a brain in a vat which experiences any other sensations of its bodily locus other than being a brain in a vat. Normal brains are nestled in the organic environment in which they formed from their beginnings as a protoplasm.  Those bodies are in effect a part of  the brain, as they are in a homeostatic relationship with it that has a common, genetic origin.  That's part of any  information it would have normally ever  received from the world or about it.

There are interesting cases that can be contrived in even this scenario.  For example, what if the brain in the vat is electromagnetically connected to the body, located elsewhere, so that it receives without any lag the sensations supplied to that healthy, living body.  They would be supplied by microprocessors on all the relevant nerves in the donor body, which send signals to their counterparts which are directly connected to the nerve endings which extend from the brain.  Say that its a brain in a vat on Mars (the motive for which being top secret).  Well that's a matter of interest because that means that, at one's bodily location, one "seems" to be where the body is, but couldn't be by the normal definition of a body, viz., one with a brain in its cranial vault.  But that fact being different could be acknowledged by the brain if it were to investigate and find this out to be true.  But the senses by which it would do so would have to manifest the physical fact per some set of sensations.  

Take the scenario further and say that there is a strange, deep under wraps black operation in the CIA, justified under pretexts of national security ("we gotta keep up wit' da rush-ins") or perhaps justified as being pertinent to deep space exploration.  In this project they have established a system of siphoning signals from the nerves by means of some microprocessor attached to a signal-donor's nerves and which can be sent to any receiver.  A neurosurgeon working in that project, being one such donor, opens the cranial vault of the body on Earth whose brain is in a vat on Mars. In that process, his optic signals are being transmitted not only to his own brain through his own nerves, but also to the brain on Mars to which the body on the table belongs (normally the primary signal donor to that brain). As a result, the Vat Brain receives signals that are organic in origin (its Earthbound body).  But these are transmitted through a process that is non-organic to the original process genetically created of contiguity between nerve endings and the brain.  Moreover, one set of sense experiences, his sight, is being received from the neurosurgeon through his donor signals.  

Let's even allow that the signals produced on the transmitter end are identical to those manifested on the receiving end. For the sake of argument let the processors have the power to alter the signal form so there is no incompatibility, and therefore allows for how the brain's normal donor eyes would have seen the same phenomenon, and transmits that modified signal to Vat Brain).  In this process, signals sent by the neurosurgeon reveal to Vat Brain that while it may have sensations of being "at" that body, it is a body that is without a brain in it.  One felt by him to be his (and maybe under his control), but seen by him through eyes that aren't even his own.  That would point out to him that factors of correlation which might have been assumed at any prior stage of  his experience of the world bear only a tenuous relationship with his experience of it when it comes to the foundations of his sense experience.  There is the question of organic infrastructure, structural continuity (also organic), and then of course the accuracy of representation of any  nerve signals by any  artificial means, at all, since all are by definition inorganic.  One might consider non-native organic alterations, and things get even more tenuous.  What if one could let that Vat Brain have its neural input signals received from a camera positioned nearby, on one which faces VB's vat and allows it to see itself.  Even if we allow all these factors to run smoothly so that it is just as if  a normal person were looking at the vat from that position, there would still be interesting problems to consider.

One problem is that this creates a viciously pessimistic epistemology, one not unlike a simulation theory problem.  For example, let it be said that a person arrives at VB's vat to say hello one day.  At the position where he faces the camera across from VB's vat he looks into it and speaks, thinking he is interacting with VB.  VB sees this person standing there looking "at" it through his camera, and interacting with it, in fact.  What neither know is that VB's camera is positioned so that it sees itself while thinking it is seeing a vat across from it.  VB is in vat B, and lead to believe that it is vat A.  Vat A has the camera on it which communicates information to VB (in vat B), so that it sees itself, but believes it is looking, in effect, at vat A.  When the visitor arrives (an interrogator from the NSA, perhaps), he faces away from VB, and looks at a camera that communicates with him, but has been lead to believe, like VB itself, that the camera is on the tank, just below it, looking out from VB also in that tank.  But VB is not in vat A, but in vat B, across from the camera.  That means that the entire time this has gone on, VB was interacting face to face with a visitor who had his back to it.  It also means that the entire time that VB has been seeing another brain in a vat, it has been looking at itself.

Those are certainly some epistemically and even metaphysically interesting scenarios.  But no matter how those are analyzed, they would not change the nature of the senses themselves, as indicators of those facts, whether or not the brain is located in the cranial vault or a vat or anything else.  The only thing that would change would be the position of the brain with respect to the body.  None of these issues would matter differently even if the consciousness of sensation within a mind were not located in reference to any entity, a brain or otherwise.  The seeing of the brain in the vat by the mind which is putatively "located at" that brain would not, via sensation itself, indicate anything about the mind's relation to the brain in any positive sense.  Only privations of its own experience, somehow correlated evidentially with that brain, to that mind, could give any indications.  Stimulation directly applied to that brain, though excitatory of it and correlated with experiences that the mind may have as a result do not, except correlatively, indicate any actual relation either, especially if those correlations cannot be further substantiated than by sense experiences of evidence, which all may be falsified.

This is easy to demonstrate by simply positing that the brain had all along been native originally to the neurosurgeon's body (or worse, the interrogator's!), and that the brain which is being distally identified with that body as its own, were actually a brain in the vat nearby, maybe vat C (the neurosurgeon's brain is perhaps across from vat C, in Vat D). Though even that alteration of the scheme still posits that some brain was properly indigenous to that body, it needn't be demonstrative per se to the mind just which mind is supposedly located at which brain, or that it is indeed "at" that brain at all.  For by the same method it could have been deceived that it was located at that brain rather than at another.  Likewise, bodies proper relations to any given brain can be similarly obfuscated, and things can get very complex.  But the basic modality of the experiences which will refer to these facts of the world, correctly or not, will be senses organic with and native to the mind which must experience them, even if no body or brain ever really had a mind "in" it.  

Indeed, who knows where the bodies of these brains actually are?  Even that of the subject on the table, only putatively assigned to VB, may be in the room next door.  Proximity in space, or in time, or both (spatiotemporal correlation), do not yield identities in substances, nor do they establish per se any causal relations between mind and matter.  This is not directly possible even in a world where normally these correlations will approach 1 and leave us with no better alternatives for causal models pertaining to the relations of mind and body.  The brain/body complex  just happens to be the only phenomenon to which human mental events correlate in this way, that we know of (or most(?) of us know of).  So even in the world we know (or seem to know), there is no objective evidence concerning a direct relation between the brain and body which can, through direct sense experience providing correlational evidence, ever truly and substantially establish either a causal correlation nor establish the directionality or nature of that causal connection, between the mind and the material world.  That might put out a weak scientific counterargument to prevailing theories of psychobiology, but its exceptional nature is sufficiently grounded in a model which accepts those prevailing theories in charitable good faith. This is done in order to reveal something of importance about the metaphysical domain which is truly at issue, which involves the nature of qualia and their reference to the objects of sense experience, to include the brain itself, which is ever only just one other object of sense experience.  The circumstance of scientific study which establish a conceptual scaffold over that sense object, however structured and however buttressed by empirical data, must still be revealed to a mind through the qualia of sense experience that can be epistemically teased away from any identification with any sense object, to include the brain, through the same apparatuses of science used to discover evidence for theories about them.  The interior essence of the mind's epistemic qualia (or axiological qualia, or metaphysical qualia), do not reduce to correlations between objects within its own sense experience, no matter how well constructed (or falsified).

Mental Reality Irreducible to Sense Objects

This could be conducted upon only brains in vats, without respect to bodies, whose outer appearances were correlated to minds located "somewhere", and the same problem would arise.  There is no demonstrable relation of the mind to the brain, nor to the body, nor to any combinations of any brain or any body, that cannot be proved irrelevant to the relations of any given brain to any given body, other by sheer correlationism and an arbitrary instantiation of it through some given frame of reference.  But the whole matter of sensation of  any relations of anything with anything else always requires a mind to experience the subjective pole of that experience and for the objective pole of that experience to be a set of facts "about the world", which need in no direct way other than that relate to the mind per se.  Though there is some significant difference which is apparently the case between a brain and its body, there is an even more significant difference which is incontrovertibly the case between a mind and either of those two objects.  While the physical environment of the brain isolates it from the body in ways physically, sensibly detectable to a mind, the metaphysical "environment" of the mind allows for only the most tenuous connection to any physical phenomena. Yet, despite this being taken to be true, the system of sensation which correlates a mind to the objective pole of phenomena must obtain a certain minimum of coherence and clarity in order to be a valid set of determinants for any mental conditions which may reference them.

The senses must be understood as an organic whole with respect to any phenomena that they sense, or there is no sensation of anything.  That is an unconditional ground of the experiences to be had about which there can be any meaningful interpretation (again, one would have to have a valid set of such in order to demonstrate the existence of an invalid set). That minimum validity of sense experience must be assumed in order for there to be any conditions binding enough to give cause for any interpretation of it.  Then the primary instantiation of any case of experience is there in that fundamental aspect of any experience, and it is simply a matter of sorting cases according to their validity.  That leads to opportunities to posit hypotheses about matters derived in and through that process, so that one can both understand sensation "as such" and also matters inclusive to it, but which go beyond its given presentation to the mind.  The mind may then "operate upon" that sensorium and develop an ontology of its objects and a heuristic of their relevance to one another according to a given frame of interpretation, and then the relevance of any further objects which may be discovered within or without that initial scheme.  The mind may then also determine the significance of any relevant findings according to further ramifications that do not reduce to any arbitrary set of relevancies between objects, but are instantiated as possible only through a further operation of the mind which concerns the qualia of its own experience, which are facts inherent to the mind, though perhaps found only with the relevance of its sensory fields.

Evil Is Any Violation of This Grundnorm

There is no closure of this relation defined by any given arrangement of those fields per any particular kind of body or surrounding/pervading world of actual and potential objects of relevance. There is only a posited closure, a conditional closure.  But the logic which binds the possibilities within that posited closure (this mind, this brain, this body, this environment, these relevant senses, these relevant significances) either has or does not have coherence and consistency.  There is or is not a valid operation in and upon these coordinates, and this might be thought to be the "grundnorm" of that mind in its relation to that world.  There cannot be a meaningful disjunction between phenomena of the mind and its world that does not indicate the resolution of an inconsistency in a more coherent and consistent conjunction of phenomena which must then take their rightful place over and above that former inconsistency.  Some inconsistencies can be resolved toward a more correct connection to the ultimate grundnorm of the reality of all matters which could have, did, can, do, might and will obtain only through a special sort of assessment.  That assessment defies artificially imposed norms that depend upon the fundamental ground of reality but yet distort them in some way with respect to their relevance and significance for the mind, and can be understood only as the resistance to a violation of an ultimate "Truth".  That violence cannot be perpetrated except as a deformation imposed upon what would otherwise have taken place in a way organic to itself and both independent of and different than the deformation imposed.

That a mind can be in this condition at all indicates there is already a disjunction between that mind and its world through the body and its vicissitudes.  But that disjunction occurs not in a vacuum, and there are by necessity other minds involved.  There cannot be a deformation in the fundamental condition of a being unless it is imposed against it by another being.  And in the world of the minds of human beings, this imposition can have at its source only the willful operation of another human being, either actively or passively, but of another mental agent inevitably and however manifest in relation to human beings.  Since separating someone from the Truth, or obstructing their relation to their own ground of being (equivalently) is understood to be a deception which serves as the consequence of some willful agent, the only way to understand this is as a violation of one being by another.  The violating being may be a reckless idiot, oblivious to the effects of his own actions, or he may be a malicious actor.  But in no way can they be understood to be in a condition of True Amity, or even Comity, because those ideas involve a consilient, consensual, or at least non-violent interrelation between beings.  Deception, whether intentional or not, whether for the sake of some gain or not, cannot be friendly.  In this way, the violation of a Right which is fundamental to a being, is a violation of a grundnorm that can and must embody the "should" of all modal matter as mentioned previously, enabling their conversion into the most primal form of "should" in each case, converting each form of "is" into a corresponding "ought".

How endemic such a condition of Enmity is within a given set of mental relations (within a mind and between minds) is the primary indicator of the overall condition of that arrangement.  Where any element of that arrangement causes, supports, furthers or condones that enmity it is in its very nature "evil".  Any analysis of what ought to be is a response to what ought not to be, surely.  All considerations of Justice are brought up in the aftermath of injustice, but naturally must precede them as the form of things being as they "ought to have been".  The primary form of injustice, which originates in an evil intent or negligence in every case, is the violation of a being's integrity, which always manifests as a harm to its epistemic and ethical integrity simultaneously.  All other considerations of Justice must be grounded in this consideration, and can be found to flow from it as their most  primary norm of reference.  Indeed, any violations on any level of phenomena threaten more fundamental violations, and any fundamental violations threaten further violations in their effects on any consequential and related matters.  

One needn't be a brain in a vat to encounter extreme violations in the integrity of one's knowledge of oneself, one's world, and their relations.  Where such violations exist, culpable agents must also exist.  And where those crimes are ramified by a sufficient degree of aggravating factors, such as systemic arrangements operating as a racket for their enablement, to include such which are reinforced by advanced and asymmetric information and technology accumulations and developments, then in those cases the world of those who are subjected to those violations may be disturbingly similar to those of Vat Brain worlds, where the fundamental features that should  have been operative in the world of an agent and its interactions with other agents (the sum total of which are "The World") are subject to those violations such that systematic and reinforced metacrimes occur.  How this is so will be illustrated by events in the real world which demonstrate a strong affinity of character with maleficent aspects of Vat Brain worlds.

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