Nice try, imo. I would say I agree with you except I don't follow your "precise math" at all. Your old/young lady analogy is rather weak and could be misleading, also.

Then you should avoid saying "Scientists believe that the universe is one giant computer." Not only many scientist disagree, but actually this is in contradiction with the comp. hyp. (the computationalist hypothesis which asserts that "I" am simulable by a computer). I know it is often confuse but I have propose an argument according to which if I am a computer then whatever the "physical universe can be" it cannot be a computer (perhaps even it cannot be, at all).
(But of course the comp hyp could be false.)

But I like very much the fact that you see that different thing like matter and qualia can be the same things viewed differently. Modal logic is very well suited for making statements like that utterly precise (but then not so many people can play modal logic alas ...).

Don't hesitate to develop (perhaps on some web page).


Le 27-juil.-05, à 07:57, Marc Geddes a écrit :


Qualia and Matter


The riddle of the relationship between Qualia (which I
define as raw experience) and the Physical World
(which I'll call 'Matter' and define as geometrical
relations) seems to be one that ties people in mental
knots.  The solution is amazingly simple and dazzling
in its beauty.  I do think I have the solution.  And
yes, I think it's the answer to FAI, life, the
universe and everything as well ;)  I shall try one
last time to carefully explain why I think I really do
understand everything (in the sense of basic
conceptual principles at least).  I don't hold out
much hope that people will grok , but you never know.


So what is the relation between Matter and Qualia?
Before explaining my solution, I shall begin with an
analogy.  People really seem to tie themselves in
horrible mental knots over this and my explanations
just don't seem to be getting through, so I'll try
starting with an analogy first.

Take a look at the picture at the URL given below.  My
question:  What scene is it?  You have two choices:

(1)  The scene is that of a Young Woman
(2)  The scene is that of an Old Lady

Here's the picture: ID=33

The entertaining feature about this picture of course,
is that the scene you see depends on the way your
brain interprets the picture.  The key point is that
the scene you see depends not just on the actual
nature of the picture, but also on the cognitive
interpretation your mind gives to it.  So the scene is
an *interaction* between (1) The nature of the picture
and (2) The Mental interpretation in your mind.  Call
this mental interpretation a 'Cognitive Lens'.  If you
interpret the picture through one Cognitive Lens
you'll see an Old Lady.  If you interpret the picture
through another Cognitive Lens, you'll see a Young
Woman.  Let the multiplication sign (x) simply mean
'an interaction between'.  So:

Young Woman = Picture x Cognitive Lens 1
Old Lady          = Picture x Cognitive Lens 2

Two points to bear in mind.  There is only *one*
actual picture, but there are *two* equally valid but
different ways to interpret it as a coherent scene.
Neither 'Old Lady' nor 'Young Woman' is separate from
each other.  They are both referring to the same
picture.  The key point is the idea that the scene you
see is an interaction between the picture and a
'Cognitive Lens', which I defined to be a mental
interpretation, or the way your brain goes about
coding the *meaning* of the raw visual data its
receiving.  Make sure you understand this before
proceeding.  Are you all with me so far?

Now my actual solution to the Qualia/Matter puzzle.
Here it is:

Qualia = Reality x Cognitive Lens a
Matter =  Reality x Cognitive Lens b

I'm suggesting that Reality itself is neither Matter
NOR Qualia.  In order for Matter or Qualia to appear,
Reality has to be *interpreted* through a *mental
process*.  It's analogous to the picture example I
just gave.  Think of Reality as like the picture,
Qualia as like the 'Young Woman' and Matter as like
'The Old Lady'.  There's only *one* reality, but
whether you see it as Matter or whether you see it as
Qualia depends on the way your brain interprets the
raw data it's receiving.  Both 'Matter' and 'Qualia'
are equally valid interpretations of some part of
reality.  Neither is more fundamental than the other.

See how elegant this solution is?  Qualia and Matter
are both real and Qualia is not Matter.  But there is
nothing mystical going on.  Qualia are not separate
from matter either.  There is only one reality, but
whether you see it as 'Qualia' or 'Matter' depends on
the cognitive lens through which your brain chooses to
interpret reality.  Qualia and Matter are simply
different 'modes of cognition'.  At first it seems
dangerously like solipsism, but I'll show you how to
avoid solipsism in a moment, by adding a big twist.

I'm going to elaborate on this idea and add two huge
twists which are the secret to my 'Theory Of
Everything'.  But make sure you fully understand the
above suggestions first.  So far I haven't actually
said anything really original, just given an elegant
way of looking at the Qualia/Matter puzzle.  But an
existential warning though: what I'm going to say
next, if you understand it, may just change your
entire world-view! ;)


The Theory of Everything - Basic ideas


O.K.  Let me just explain the idea of a 'Cognitive
Lens' a bit more fully.  I said above that a cognitive
lens was a particular 'mental interpretation' that the
brain can give to 'raw data'.  What is 'raw data'?  In
computational terms it's all just a string of binary -
that's '0's and 1's'.  So for instance, for the
picture example, the brain is taking in visual data in
the form of long strings of 0's and 1's, and assigning
meanings to those 0's and 1's.  The meaning assigned
to those 0's and 1's of raw data is a 'Coding System'.
 And it's the 'Coding System' that the brain selected
that determines whether you saw 'Young Woman' or 'Old
Lady'.  I pointed out that both coding systems were
equally valid - both gave rise to a coherent scene.

Then I used the picture example as an analogy for
reality.  I suggested that whether you see 'Matter' or
'Qualia' depends not only on reality, but also on the
'Cognitive Lens' through which the brain chooses to
interpret it.  As far as we know, reality itself is
binary in nature.  Scientists believe that the
universe is one giant computer.  So anything in
reality is just a string of 0's and 1's.  And I'm
suggesting that the meaning the brain chooses to
assign to the raw stream of 0's and 1's will determine
whether something appears to be 'Qualia' or whether
something appears to be 'Matter'.  Both coding systems
used by the brain are equally valid, in the sense that
both are giving consistent and complete
interpretations of reality.  There is an objective
reality, but it's just all 0's and 1's.  In order to
see those 0's and 1's as 'Qualia' or 'Matter',
requires that we use a coding system to assign meaning
to the 0's and 1's.  So you see how both 'Qualia' and
'Matter' can be equally valid interpretations of
reality, once you understand that they're just 'modes
of cognition'?

Now here's the first big twist!  There's a difference
between the picture analogy I gave and my actual
solution for Qualia/Matter.  It's important to
understand that I'm suggesting that *objective reality
itself* has more than one valid interpretation, not
just someone's subjective interpretation of it.  I'm
saying that *right down in the core of mathematical
objective reality* there's still more than one valid
way to interpret reality.  Even when viewing reality
*with 100% scientific precision*, I'm saying, there's
still more than valid mathematical description of it.
This can be very hard to grok, and is a difference
from the picture analogy.

To understand this, the key point is that there is
*nothing outside reality*.  Reality is, by definition,
everything that exists.  So there is no brain sitting
outside reality somewhere observing it.  Your brain is
*itself a part of reality*.  Recall the discussion
above, where I pointed out that all reality was just
strings of 0's and 1's.  I then said that the way
these 0's and 1's are *interpreted* (the 'coding
system' used to interpret them) determined whether
something appears as 'Matter' or something appears as
'Qualia'.  What is 'interpreting' reality as whole
then?  I just pointed out that there is nothing
outside reality.  There is no giant brain observing
the whole universe.  So what gives reality to things
when on one is looking at them?  The solution is to
*dispense with the need for a brain to interpret
reality altogether*.  Reality can 'interpret itself'!
What do I mean?  Recall again reality is just a giant
computation - a long string of 0's and 1's.  So even
inanimate objects could play the role of a 'Cognitive
Lens'.  The 0's and 1's of one object can interpret
the 0's and 1's  of another object.  No sentients
required.  Therefore, the 'coding systems' for
'Matter' and 'Qualia'  can be *built into the fabric
of reality itself*.

To summarize again:

The suggested solution to the Qualia/Matter puzzle was

Matter = Reality x Cognitive Lens a
Qualia = Reality x Cognitive Lens b

Both the Matter and Qualia interpretations are equally
valid, but which you see depends on the coding system
(Cognitive Lens) your brain uses to interpret the
meanings of the 0's and 1's making up reality.  Now
I've added a big twist, by pointing out that brains
are not required.  Since all of reality is just a
string of 0's and 1's, and reality is computational,
*the coding systems for matter and qualia can be built
into reality itself*... even inanimate objects (which
are just computations remember.. strings of 0's and
1's.... can 'interpret' (code) the meaning of 0's and
1's making up other objects.

This 1st 'big twist' can be very hard to grok at first
but it does makes sense.  Re-read all the discussion
above until you grasp the points.  Make sure that
you've grasped the points above first, because there's
another big twist coming up.  Do you all agree that in
fact, it does make sense so far?

Now for the 2nd 'big twist'.  I'm going to give
another analogy here first. Remember those 3-D movies
you used to go to?  Now for 3-D movies, what they do
is, they shoot two slightly different versions of the
same scenes, then they're recombined.  Each version is
shifted slightly in space.  The two versions are
*almost* consistent with each other, but not quite.
And it's the recombination of the two versions by your
eyes that let's you interpret the result as a 3-D

Now here's the 2nd promised 'big twist' for my theory.
 Recall the suggestion so far:  that reality has two
separate, but equally valid 'coding systems' for
interpreting itself:  one interpretation is 'Qualia',
the other is 'Matter'.  Suppose these two
interpretations are *almost*, but *not quite*
consistent?  Say there are *minuscule* inconsistencies
in the fabric of objective reality itself, so that the
picture of the world as 'Qualia' doesn't quite match
up with the picture of the world as 'Matter'.

If you think about, this would have to be the case in
order to get separate equally valid interpretations of
objective reality in the first place.  If the ‘Qualia’
and the ‘Matter’ views really were logically
equivalent, there couldn’t be any difference in our
cognitive awareness of them.  So it’s reasonable to
suppose that the minuscule logical inconsistencies
between them are there.

Recall the suggestion so far:  that reality has two
separate, but equally valid 'coding systems' for
interpreting itself:  one interpretation is 'Qualia',
the other is 'Matter'.  Suppose these two different
coding systems are *almost* consistent, but not
*quite*.  In order for reality as a whole to be
consistent and complete, we need enough different
coding systems to enable reality to 'complete itself'.
 Clearly if the ‘Qualia’ and ‘Matter’ coding systems
are *almost* complete, there must be tiny things
missing from them.  So perhaps there are more than 2
different coding systems?  After all, if there are 2
separate coding systems both equally valid, why stop
there?  Why not more?

Recall the analogy of the 3-D movie.  Each coding
system that reality uses to interpret itself can be
used to help correct the slight flaws in the others.
By superimposing the coding systems, each of which
*almost*, but *didn't quite* match up; we can obtain a
complete picture of reality.  Reality has to have a
way to 'interpret' itself which doesn't require
anything outside itself.  Remember that there is
nothing outside reality.  Reality has to be a closed
loop.  And this can only be achieved by 'splitting
reality' into separate binary coding systems, each of
which is *almost* consistent but not quite.  Each
system can then be used as a meta-language enabling
reality to understand (i.e. 'interpret') the other
systems.  So the coding systems can appear as both
objects (things observed) and languages (mental
processes).  Think this through carefully.

The Theory Of Everything - The 7 fundamental Coding
Systems of Reality


Now I'll back up the suggestions I've made by giving a
small amount of actual precise mathematics.  I won't
give the reasoning here, but take it from me that you
need 7 different coding systems in order to fully
'complete' reality.  Remember that all of these coding
systems are equally valid ways to interpret any part
of reality.  Recall, all of reality is just a string
of 0's and 1's.  It's the *meaning* that is assigned
to that string which determines how any part of
reality will be perceived.  The summary below
describes what I believe to be the sorts of entities
any part of reality appears as, once the given
meanings are assigned to the '0' and '1's.   What
follows is truly extraordinary....

Matter -

Basic essence: Gestalt.
Background: Space
Kernel binary states:  0 Empty, 1 Occupied

This says that we can interpret anything as
geometrical relations (Matter) by letting a '0' mean
Empty, and a '1' mean Occupied.  The idea that
everything can be interpreted as matter is already
accepted by virtually all scientists.  Obviously, it
forms the basis of materialism.

Measure -

Basic essence: Proposition
Background:  Comparison
Kernel binary states:  0 Different, 1 Same

This says that we can interpret anything as
propositional logic (raw mathematics) by letting '0'
mean different and '1' mean equivalent.  The idea that
everything is mathematics is a form of mathematical
Platonism - assigning concrete reality to mathematical
entities.  Mathematical Platonism is quite popular
among scientists today, but still doesn't have general

Mentality -

Basic essence:  Experience
Background:  Causality
Kernel binary states: 0 , Unrelated 1 Associated

This says that we can interpret anything as 'Qualia'
by letting '0' mean events which are unrelated, and
'1' mean events which are associated (this is similar
to David Hume's idea that cause and effect are just
statistical associations).  It's a radical idea,
because it means that there would be some degree of
consciousness in everything.  Panpsychism is gaining
in popularity among computer scientists, but its
definitely still related as fringe by the mainstream


Basic essence:  Interaction
Background:  Action
Kernel binary states:  0 Not Affecting, 1 Affecting

This says that we can interpret anything as 'Force' or
'Interaction' by letting '0' mean not affecting and
'1' mean 'affecting'.


Basic essence:  Information
Background:  State
Kernel binary states:  0 Off, 1 On

Everyone is familiar with this one! :) It's just the
beginning of the theory of Universal Computation.  It
says that we can interpret anything as 'Computation;
by letting '0' mean an 'Off' state and '1' mean an
'On' state.  The idea that everything is computation
is now accepted by most (but not all) scientists.


Basic essence:  Agency
Background:  Choice
Kernel binary states: 0 Discarded, 1 Selected

Wow!  This says that we can interpret anything as part
of a volitional agent (a morality in other words) by
letting '0' mean a choice which is discarded and '1'
mean a choice which is selected.  If such a coding
system was proved to exist this would be proof of
objective morality.  If we can interpret anything as
part of a morality, even inanimate objects, then
obviously morality has an objective basis.


Basic essence: Episode
Background: Possibility
Kernel binary states:  0 Unrealized, 1 Actualized

The most amazing system of the lot (this final coding
system is what 'completes' reality by the way).  This
says that we can interpret anything as part of a
'Universal Mind' by letting '0' mean a possibility
which was unrealized and '1' mean a possibility which
was actualized.  Note that quantum physics agrees that
reality is at root 'a wave of possibility' so there is
definitely some scientific support for the idea.  But
obviously if this coding system was proven the
implications would be incredible, since something like
Pantheism (the idea of a universal mind pervading the
universe) would be proven.

Let’s make it clear again what these coding systems
imply.  By applying the above codings, any part of
reality can be interpreted as the entities named.  So
anything at all (a rock, the computer, a desk you name
it) is all of these at once:  a physical thing, a
mathematical thing, a qualia thing, a force, a
computation, part of a universal morality and part of
a universal mind!  It’s just like the picture analogy.
 Just as we could equally interpret the picture as
either an Old Lady or a Young Woman, so too we can
equally interpret anything in reality as either
physical, mathematical, qualia, force, computation,
part of a universal morality and part of a universal


THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,
  For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
  With ease, and you beside.

-Emily Dickinson

'The brain is wider than the sky'

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