Doug Porpora wrote:
I apologize for diverting this list into a discussion of mind-body. I came onto the list to explore Tegmark's thesis about our persons' being endlessly duplicated. It seems to me that this thesis depends not just on cosmology but also on what we know about persons. It struck me that the discussion here assumed without question (i) reductionism and (ii) determinism.
I don't think these assumptions hold even in physics. You can all correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that the Pauli Exclusion Principle is not explainable by the properties of atomic parts. It is an emergent property of an entire atom. Similarly, there is good reason to think that determinism does not hold at the quantum level.
Whatever is the case in physics, after long debate, (i) and (ii) above have been rejected at the human level by most current social scientists. So the relevance of my line of questioning was what difference it makes to Tegmark's thesis if assumptions (i) and (ii) are relaxed.
One difference it might make is that the whole universe is not computable because our own behavior is not computable.
Our behaviour is computable. Our minds are (fancy, large-capacity, massively parallel), computers.
Non-determinism and computation can co-exist happily.Just compute the deterministic parts and accept the non-deterministic
input when you get it. Happens all the time. Also, even within computation, non-determinism is not a show-stopper. Many
computational algorithms are equally valid in result if there is non-determinism at some stages of the algorithm execution.
People are thinking too much of "the simple hand calculator" kind of computation, and not of complex, concurrent,
layered-system symbolic computation when they criticize what computation is like or can do.
Computation does not entail reductionism and a rejection of emergent-system notions. In fact, emergent systems (as a concept and
research area) have gained popularity recently probably because it was realized by many computer programmers/researchers
that they were creating emergent systems. (e.g. the web with google is a pretty compelling example of an emergent system. It's
also, because of concurrency and the non-deterministic way in which information (input) is added into the system in
real-time, essentially non-deterministic system (with some chaotic regimes) at any global level of analysis.