Thanks for your detailed answer. I will wipe some of the previous
exchanges below to unclutter the post:
From: Bruno Marchal <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
I don't think there is a clear-cut frontier between Science and
Philosophy, except those artificial frontiers introduced by academic
for "financial purposes" (to be short).
Actually I don't believe there are scientific field and non scientific
field. I believe in scientific attitudes, which is a mixture of modesty
and willingness to share questions with other.
Scientists who pretends not doing philosophy are just taking some
philosophy for granted, like the naturalist assumptions of Aristotle.
And in ALL fields, passion and emotion *can* mislead our scientific
attitude. This is human, and even *machine*.
Could not agree with you more...
> Well, astists will probably argue that they are quite concerned with
> 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.
reality in their own way. You don't want to confuse your
But scientific "reality" is not bounded. The shape of earth was a
matter of philosophy and theology at some time. My personal qualia and
first person views cannot be used in a scientific paper, of course. But
qualia and first person view can be addressed in third person way. For
this we build theories, which are just hypothetical world view
Again I fully agree, though I am sure you are aware that "mentality"
and "identity" are among the most difficult problems that
science has tried to tackle and that what we think we know about such
matters pales in comparison with what we are sure we
don't know! Even just building theories may be more forthcoming in
some domains than others, irrespective of testing them.
> There is also much that
> one can acknowledge without admitting to its reality. I have heard
of, > say, alien abductions but would not swear to their reality,
> though others may differ.
This is just ignorance. Science is *the* most efficacious way to
accept that we are ignorant.
It is the motor of science. If you have a scientific interest in alien
abduction you can always search for a piece of unknown metal, or for
tackling the plausibility problem of the account. Etc. As I mentioned
before one of my favorite text to illustrate what is the scientific
attitude is given in a book of parapsychology (the "In search of the
light' by S. Blackmore). Of course the whishfull thinkers in
parapsychology doesn't like it because it is negative (She shows the
protocol errors in most parapsychologists experiments).
That is a wonderful point you make above! But my own was that
acknowledging something may not exactly be the same as admiting its
reality; it can in fact be just the oposite when what is acknowledge is
someone else's belief for instance. How
(consensual) reality is acquired is a pretty complicated and still
mysterious process. I would venture that a lot of what we
would count as "subjective reality" is just that! (more below)
> I would argue that numbers are rather objective, perhaps even more >
than physical laws and surely so if you are right, no?
Yes. I find personally that the fact that 17 is prime is less doubtful
than any third person materialist ontological commitment. But I am
perhaps wrong and I don't really care. As a logician I am mainly
interested in the consistency of sets of beliefs, and validity of
arguments. My point is that materialism and digital mechanism (comp)
are just incompatible.
In this we agree.
> If that derivation is just a piece of your subjectivity that may
dash > your hopes to convey it to others...
By derivation I really mean "demonstration". It is valid for anyone
(accepting classical logic applies on the elementary arithmetical
truth). Sorry if this looks contemptuous.
It may very well be contemptuous but I cannot fault your
"demonstration" since I see no reason why materialism would
be compatible with your hypothesis! If I understand it correctly this
is that one materially supported conscious entity could
be entirely (and analytically) replaced by a digitally constructed one
without it even being conscious of it. Am I right? Is
this what you COMP ? If so you are right in one thing: it is one hell
of a stronger contention than the strongest AI hyp
(and that much more unlikely).
> Oh, it seems you agree than! "The Work" goes well with your >
theological inclinations, seems to me though I am as hopeless
> about understanding it as Lee is...
OK. This means you are serious like Lee. I certainly don't expect
people to understand it quickly! The people in this list does not know
(I think) that they are one century in advance!
(and then they doesn't know I'm two centuries in advance ;-)
(Don't infer I'm some sort of genius: it is just years and years and
years of work + open mindedness).
Oh don't worry about that! There is genius in knowing that your are
not! And since you are a machine your years and years
and years may surely add to two centuries! No wonder you outrun your
Anyway, the matter subject is not so easy. It crosses many hard
fields, and leads to many hard to swallow conclusions. Bohr said that
if you understand quantum mechanics, it means you are missing
something. The comp hyp is like that. The more you understand the more
you realize truth is beyond fiction. Now, feel free to read my
argumentation and ask question if you are interested.
My point (and I want to be short but some people in the list get
similar points, even if when we discuss it between us we insist on the
differences of course), so my point is just that if we make the comp
hypothesis in the cognitive science (including some amount of
mathematical platonism, and Church thesis), then, literally, physics
*is* a branch of computer science. And so the comp hyp is testable:
derive physics from computer science and compare it to empirical
physics. I have done a piece of that, and currently comp passed already
non trivial tests.
Oh but you make it sound so easy! See: its is the "derive physics from
computer science" that I have my first problem with!
Easier said than done, I'm afraid. Stephen Wolfram sent me his huge
book but I remain as unconvinced by it as everyone
else who has read it about his "tinker bell" version of Quantum
Mechanics. I heard Ed Fredkin a number of times and,
though he is quite charming, I don't think he has any better answer to
More specifically: I believe QM puts a big kabosh into any non-quantum
mechanistic view of the physical world. If you
don't get that, than maybe you don't get a lot of other things, Bruno.
Sorry if this sounds contemptuous. It is meant
Incidentally, the reverse reduction of computer science to physics
seems to be a lot more hopeful specially since most
computations seem to run a lot faster in physical computers than on...
(what are the alternatives again?). OK, no one
has built a truly quantum computer just yet but a lot of people think
they are about to do it!
> Explaining what elation or sadness correspond to in terms of neural
> out why I am elated today and sad tomorrow. Usually those experience
processes does not help me find
are much easier to explain and in objective terms.
I'm not sure I understand. I think no "experiences" can be easily
explained in 3-person terms.
remember that if comp and my derivation is correct, eventually the
very brain itself emerges from first person experiences (and here I
agree with George Levy).
Now, (and here George Levy disagrees), first person experiences
emerges from third person sharable relation between numbers. Please,
take this with some grain of salt until you have your personal evidence
for a plausible explanation of what I am saying here.
Sure will (take it with and entire salt mine)! My point is that we
already have ways of explaining other people's experiences
on the basis of empathy or antipathy and in terms of direct causation.
Bill Clinton was found of saying "I feel your pain" and
no one called him on that obvious lie! I can think of some numbers
that would tell me about the pain others are feeling
(checked the price of gas today? $2.59 a gallon!!! That hurts!!!)
All what I say is that if me, you or X says "yes" to the mechanist
doctor, then "the universal religion of machine" are given by a
mathematical theory which is testable because, as a religious theology,
it provided a 100% precise cosmogony. If from comp you deduce that
electron have no weight, then comp is refuted. That could be
problematical in case you have already say "yes" to the doctor!
Ooops! Sure would be problematic, wouldn't it? I better think a bit
about that "yes" again.
Seriously, I see nothing wrong with what you saying as long as you
couch it in that "faith-based" argumentation.
Your argument is cute and may very well be defensible that way. This
day and and age it may actually be better supported
that way than as hard clad science, who knows?
> Best wishes with ... "the Work",
Many thanks. "the works", as you say, is divided into two parts. An
informal, but (hopefully) rigorous and complete, argument showing that
physics is derivable from comp. That argument is not constructive. Its
easyness comes from the fact that it does not really explained how to
make the derivation.
Oh, what a pity! I was kind of bracing to see that derivation! I am
sure it would drive your point across a lot quicker.
Oh well, I could probably give you a couple of other outrageous
hypothesis from which you could derive the whole
of physics, not constructively of course! You are the logician but
isn't it the case that from an assuredly false premise
you can derive anything?
The second part is a translation of that argument in the language of
the "universal machine itself". This, by the constraints of theoretical
computer science, makes the proof constructive, so that it gives the
complete derivation of physics from computer science. Of course God is
a little malicious, apparently, and we are led to hard intractable
purely mathematical questions.
You are welcome,
Oh gosh! Another let down! Well maybe those pesky Quantum Computer
builders can rescue you after all one day. As
I heard that you plan to become immortal (after a little digital
plastic surgery) you will have the time to wait for it!
Bruno: you seem to hold quite estimable principles about the
fundamentals of scientific practice and you seem much less
threatening than your digitalist surgeon. When I have a chance I'll
check your papers out and see what I can make out
of them. Thanks for the summary, though.
Don't work too hard,
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