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Doug Blank's picture

The language of agency

That discussion was useful. After all of these years of discussing emergent solutions, I think I am beginning to understand Paul's Perspective, and understand why this group was formed. To summarize the way I understand it: "Agency" is a new thing in the universe, created from the same processes that have always existed, but it is newer than the primary forces, and it is now applying forces on the universe that are new in some fundamental way. This hypothesis does seem to warrant exploration, and I'll participate. But I am skeptical.

The hypothesis is related to some other recent philosophical theories, such as The Hard Problem (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness). But this is different, focusing on the behavior of a system rather than on the sensation of feeling conscious. Paul's point is a move forward.

But I am left wondering: will "agency" and all of the language that goes with it (intentionality, story-telling, etc.) help with the understanding of these system? Or, will it actually obscure what is really going on and hinder our ability to make progress in understanding these systems? I feel the latter, but I don't have a specific argument (yet). And this gives me a goal to work towards.

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