Though I am new to the list I have been reading your fascinating posts
on this troubling issue of "reality" and subjectivity
so please pardon if I skip the protocol and delve into the discussion
right away. I have a background in computer
and cognitive science if you want to know, but little chance to
engage in exchanges on philosophical matters
such as the ones in which you guys are involved in. Forgive me if I
misunderstand some of the finer details (yes I know,
the devil is there...)
From: Bruno Marchal <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Sent: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 18:35:18 +0200
Subject: Re: subjective reality
Hi Lee ,
> It was just a figure of speech. You are free, of course, to use
> the word "reality" any way you want. I'm not comfortable for using
> it to describes one's subjective impressions, feelings, etc.
But I am not using the word "reality" to *describe* one's subjective
impression, it seems to me I am just acknowledging the existence of
those subjective impression in many persons.
To acknowledge something is to admit that something has some kind of
"reality", it seems to me.
And it seems you did acknowledge those experiences too). To describe
them, in the limit, I can only point you to great poets and artists,
and they will hardly mention the word "reality".
Well, astists will probably argue that they are quite concerned with
reality in their own way. You don't want to confuse your
subjective impressions (qualia) with the fact that you have them or
report them. The later are the subject of scientific inquiry while the
former may not qualify. Scientific Reality is definitely more specific
than reality in general. There is also much that
one can aknowledge without admiting to its reality. I have heard of,
say, alien abductions but would not swear to their reality,
though others may differ.
You just seems to want those experiences are just an unnecessary
epiphenomenon, and you would like that science never adresses what they
really are and where they came from.
For you it looks like "consciousness" is just a sort of subjective
mirror partially reflecting an objective third person describable
reality in which we are embedded. And science should never leave the
third person discourse. All right?
Now, please understand that I agree (100%) with the last sentences:
science should never leave the third person discourse.
But this does not prohibit science of looking to herself, and to try
theories (hypotheses) about third person discourses, and even to
*discover* sort of first person discourse canonically associated to
some mathematical object.
By taking the comp hyp enough seriously it just happens that
"consciousness", or just the "ability to guess the existence of one (at
least) world" is not a little detail. Or it is a little detail but then
remember that the devil is hidden in the little details. Why? Because
if I am correct in my derivation it makes the physical law emerging
from number theory.
I would argue that numbers are rather objective, perhaps even more than
physical laws and surely so if you are right, no?
If that derivation is just a piece of your subjectivity that may dash
your hopes to convey it to others...
There is also an "animal" called *self-delusion* that inhabits this
realm between the subjective and the objective and amounts
to taking for real what isn't quite so. But why bring it into this
already confusing and confused exchanged.
> So you say. And I confess I haven't the energy (and probably not
> the preparation) to study your thesis. So I'll wait for the experts
> to acclaim you. No one will cheer louder: "I knew him *before*
> the world saw the truth to COMP! He even knows who I am!".
My heart appreciates very much. My poor brain, or some reasoner who
appears to succeed to manifest himself through it, relatively to you,
is a little bit astonished: you are amazingly honest and confess you
could give a weight to authoritative argument. Ah la la.
I think it would be better to get the understanding by yourself, then
you could say " I thought it", but perhaps you do get some
understanding, I think :-)
Actually my work is "the work" which people should understand by
themselves, if only to understand the second part where they must
understand that machine can understand it by themselves, in some
You could also be disappointed. Although the conclusion is startling,
technically my contribution is modest and leads quickly to soluble but
A paper entitled "Theoretical Computer Science and the Natural
Sciences" should appear soon, though.
Oh, it seems you agree than! "The Work" goes well with your
theological inclinations, seems to me though I am as hopeless
about understandiing it as Lee is...
> My friends and I (and probably Daniel Dennett and so on) believe
> that people who demand a 1st person "account of the world" (e.g.
> Chalmers) will never get anywhere.
Actually, this is one of the main point where I differ from George
Levy (OK George?), although I could make sense of it. The point is, and
Dennett agrees on this, that, in cognitive *science*, we need to
develop some third person discourse on the first person discourses.
OK, strictly speaking the quantum and physical discourses appears at
some first person (plural) level.
Chalmers is not getting anywhere(*), ok. Perhaps we agree on this.
Dennett might have evolved in his position but the whole effort behind
cognitive science has long been that of "unpacking"
the notion of "qualia" out of the philosophical discourse. But that is
hardly the same as explaining the 1st person discourse in
3rd person language. Explaining what elation or sadness correspond to
in terms of neural processes does not help me find
out why I am elated today and sad tomorrow. Usually those experience
are much easier to explain and in objective terms.
(*) Using Everett to defend dualism! See the quite good explanation
how Everett is deeply monist in the book:
PRIMAS H., 1981, Chemistry, Quantum Mechanics and Reductionism,
Springer-Verlag, Berlin (second, corrected edition : 1983)
> That the "hard problem" or
> whatever is just a horrible consequence of the way sense impressions
> traveling on neurons give rise to people thinking that their
> own perceptions are a sort of reality independent of the physical
> reality. We think that this is a sort of delusion, although the
> very #?!&[EMAIL PROTECTED] structure of our language hideously leads from that
> to "who or what is being deluded?".
> This might be a good time to ask what is meant by that word you
> just used. Hal explained "computationalist hypothesis" as used
> by philosophers, e.g., that a robot (that was just CPU driven)
> could be conscious.
Actually this is the strong AI thesis. Logically comp is stronger,
because comp is the thesis that "I" am a machine (I, You, ...). Comp is
stronger because the fact that machine could think does not entails
that only machine could think! (despite Occam!).
Now comp is weaker than most functionalism in the philosophy of mind,
because comp asserts only the existence of a level of substitution at
which we are Turing-emulable. Functionalist reason like if the level
was known, but that's impossible.
> have believed that since 1966 when I used
> to argue about it with people in high school. *Lots* of people
> believe that. I have taken "COMP" to be Bruno's Thesis, in which
> practically everything can be derived fundamentally from the
> integers alone, using Gödel's results, and other rather recently
> discovered truths.
No no. That's the theorem. Comp is precisely the conjonction of Church
Thesis, of some amount of belief in arithmetic, + the act of faith
saying "yes" to *some* digitalist surgeon.
All what I say, I derive it (hopefully correctly) from comp.
It is also different from Schmidhuber (and many others) who makes the
thesis that there is a "physical universe" and that it is computable
(programmable). I think that comp is quasi-incompatible with this.
Quasi-incompatible, indeed! Thanks for clearing this out. It is
understandable why you need a 1st person belief statement
if your hypothesis is that You (Bruno) are a machine. I will grant you
that straight away, as it occurred to me already while
noticing that most of your interventions "loop" around that COMP thing.
You, Bruno Machinal are a machine! I will even grant
you that I am a machine and will say "yes" to your digitalist, if he
hasn't replaced all my parts yet. But let me ask you: doesn't
everybody have to believe you for your hypothesis to be true? And if
everyone does so, doesn't it automatically cease to
be an hypothesis and become the universal religion of happy machines?
> So I dismiss the 1st person, remarking that it's "existence" is
> but only to be expected. If an ape or a parrot could talk, it
> could yak on about it's impressions. And they'd be of little
> but therapeutic value.
Thanks for acknowledging the therapy! With comp, this would mean the
appearance of the physical world originates in some intrinsic universal
machine self-therapy. It makes sense...
I must go now. Apology for not having respected the order of your
paragraphs, but my computer take some initiative apparently!
Funny, mine just did the same!!! It erased something about Bip Bip or
some such thing. Oh well... It may just need some
good self-therapy. God knows what will come out of that...
Best wishes with ... "the Work",
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