I doubt Marchal's ideas will be made widely known or popularized in the foreseeable future.  The problem isn't with the name of his theory, or with any problem with Bruno per se beyond this:  There doesn't seem to be an easily reducible way to summarize the theory in a manner that is digestible to anyone beyond the highly specialized in similar fields.  I certainly understand the basics of some of his ideas, but when it gets into all his logical analysis I just have never found myself willing to devote myself to the time required to really get into the detail of where he is coming from.  And I would consider myself highly interested in these topics and at least reasonably intelligent.

Even something as mundane as the MWI (to this group at least) runs into a brickwall when presented to the layperson.  You should see the conversations I have with my wife.  Tell people everything is made of strings.  Or space and time can be warped and curved.  They may not understand the science and math behind it at all, but at least you are speaking their language. 

The world is not ready for his ideas.  Even for the most part the world of scientists in my opinion. 


Benjamin Udell wrote:
Hi, Bruno,

You're tending -- too selectively, arbitrarily -- to try to go by what was meant by words many hundreds and even some thousands of years ago. Original or early meanings can be very illuminating, but a lot has happened since then, and there is some degree of _stare decisis_ in these matters. Words like "property" (originally, a non-essential differentia, i.e., an idiosyncrasy) and "physics" (which meant "pertaining to growth, especially to plants as growths," as in _phyton_, "plant") could not withstand the standard which you apply. And it's best if you seem to prioritize your theory much, much higher than you prioritize the correcting of wrongs which you believe to have been done in theologically related politics over a thousand years ago. And you can't simultaneously do that and justify the use of the word "theology" as the correction of an ancient wrong and restoration of the original, legitimate meaning. People just don't care _that_ much about pedigree or ancient politic
 s. And if you don't really care that much either, but are basically just seeking a justification, it's good to pick one which will bear up under the weight which you place on it, so that you don't give the appearance of over-prioritizing such ancient occurrences. And if you do actually care that much, then you should consider whether you care about your machine theory even more. It's good to give your intended audience the sense that you share & understand their concerns and are familiar with the same intellectual world as they are.

Your best arguments on terminology all seem founded in the present, e.g., the vagueness of the word "metaphysics," plus its causing opprobrium among scientists. However, if its causing opprobrium among scientists is a sufficient objection, then the opprobrium which the word "theology" will cause among scientists is a sufficient objection too. The opprobrium would likely be even greater, and the objection, therefore, that much stronger. Add to that, the opprobrium which would be caused by your use of the word "theology" among religious people generally in proportion as your theory were to gain fame or notoriety. What will they say?

Worst-case scenario: They'll say and believe that you're founding a religion of worship of some Big Machine in the Sky. 

Imagine having myriad academic people and highly religious people united, as strange bedfellows, against you, and declaring against that which they call the nightmarish bastard offspring of a shotgun wedding between religion and science. Even Romeo's & Juliet's circumstances were less forbidding.

Of course lots of people have startling and evocative theories, deriving physics from various abstract considerations. The odds of your particular theory's becoming famous seem small to a comparatively ignorant outsider like me. Yet, if you have confidence in the persuasiveness of yourself & your theory, then you should think very carefully before actually naming your theory as a new and scientifically based competitor in the religious field, and subjecting your theory, your intentions, and yourself to wild caricatures which people will "take as gospel" and spread as gospel and which will form the basis of their dispositions to act in regard to you if the occasion ever arises or is made to arise.

Now, "metaphysics" and "theology" both seem like bad ideas for names, given the intellectual climate. Nevertheless, between the two, I think metaphysics is preferable, for the reasons that I've stated here & elsewhere. As to the meaning of "metaphysics," the biggest problem is the number of people, for whom it is synonomous with "supernatural issues," in languages other than English (I'm told that such is the primary meaning of the Spanish "metafisica."). Not much that one can do about that, but at least most such people are far from your intended audience. There might indeed be confusion over the use of the "meta-" prefix. But I suspect that most people take the word "metaphysics" as a whole, it's a familiar word. Certainly, for what it's worth, in English many will take it as a whole, because that's the kind of language that English is, words are heard in English differently than they are, for instance, in German, whose speakers like a feel for the elements of a compou
nd. !
 In English we often just traffic the whole word unanalyzed across speech. It is quite possible in English to go through life without any awareness, for instance, that the words "cross" and "crusade" are cognate.

The word "metaphysics" will be taken in various senses developed within philosophy itelf. Its primary sense is not "book after the physics book," obviously, whatever its ancient origin, about which hardly anybody worries in construing it in current philosophical use. ("Do you think Bruno just means a book after a physics book?" Nobody will ask such a question.) About the best that one can do is to try to come up with a meaning which stands up in terms of modern traditions in philosophy. As I said, there have been traditional developments, and you can count on C.S. Peirce, who even wrote an "ethics of terminology," to have knowledgeably & respectfully synthesized those developments into his account of metaphysics as a field up to his time http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/peirce/cl_o_sci_03.htm :

i, General Metaphysics, or Ontology;
ii, Psychical, or Religious, Metaphysics,
~ 1, God
~ 2, Freedom
~ 3, Immortality
iii, Physical Metaphysics (real nature of time, space, laws of naure, matter, etc.)

"The second and third branches appear at present to look upon one another with supreme contempt." - Peirce, 1903

That's all the stuff that you're talking about, even if you might not arrange it in that order.

I just looked at "The Ethics of Terminology," for a phrase on which to search for the paper online (but it seems not to be online), and there's some stuff in there worth reproducing here. It's in _The Essential Peirce, Volume 2._

"... The first rule of good taste in writing is to use words whose meanings will not be misunderstood; and if the reader does not know the meaning of the words, it is infinitely better that he should know that he does not know it."

By that criterion, I think that "metaphysics" is less bad than "theology."

"Yet if I were to develop the reasons the force of which I feel myself, I presume they would have weight with others.
"Those reasons would embrace, in the first place, the consideration that the woof and warp of all thought and all research is symbols, and the life of thought and science is the life inherent in symbols; so that it is wrong to say that a good language is _important_ to good thought, merely; for it is of the essence of it. Next would come the considerations of the increasing value of precision of thought as it advances. Thirdly, the progress of science cannot go far except by collaboration; or, so to speak more accurately, no mind can take one step without the aid of other minds. Fourthly, the health of the scientific communion demands the most absolute mental freedom. Yet the scientific and philosophical worlds are infested with pedants and pedagogues who are continually endeavoring to set up a sort of magistrature over thoughts and over symbols. It thus becomes one of the first duties of one who sees what the situation is, energetically to resist everything like arbitrary d
 ictation in scientific affairs, and above all, as to the use of terms and notations. At the same time, a general agreement concerning the use of terms and of notations, -- not too rigid, yet prevailing with most of the co-workers in regard to most of the symbols, to such a degree that there shall be some small number of different systems of _expression_ that have to be mastered, -- is indispensable. Consequently, since this is not to be brought about by arbitrary dictation, it must be brought about by the power of rational principles over the conduct of men.
".... For every symbol is a living thing, in a very strict sense that is no mere figure of speech. The body of the symbol changes slowly, but its meaning inevitably grows, incorporates new elements and throws off old ones. But the effort of all should be to keep the _essence_ of every scientific term unchanged and exact; although absolute exactitude is not so much as conceivable.

I don't know why you would expect or demand "precise frontiers" in meaning between important words in order for their distinctions to have your respect. Even in maths, words sometimes get fuzzy. The mathematically oriented person will, nevertheless, still feel the need to respect distinctions. There is a tendency among mathematically oriented people to disparage the vaguer distinctions made in other fields as being no real distinctions at all. This tends to create the impression that mathematically oriented people do not have strong or reliable understanding of issues in fields beyond their own. In fact, many intellectuals, mathematical & non-mathematical alike, tend to exhibit a remarkable confidence even when they are far off their own turfs, as if things outside their own turfs were a holiday from serious, doubt-weighted thought. In fact, it's not just intellectuals, it's everybody! If I weren't that way myself to some extent, I could never muster the courage to post 
to t!
 his list. Okay, a certain boldness and cavalierness is part of what is needed in order for one to do things. Nevertheless, if you feel yourself licensed to use important words loosely, nobody will take seriously any self-defense by you on the basis of distinctions in meaning. Suggesting that a bunch of words are so blurry in their distinctions that you can use them interchangeably, just means that they and still other words all can be used interchangeably against you. And, basically, you don't want to sound willfully sloppy in your use of important words at variance with traditional accepted meanings; you don't want people taking it as a representative sample of how you deal with ideas. And, as I said in some old post, the words themselves don't care about you or what you meant to do or meant to mean, and the words themselves will trap you if you give them an inch.

Since you're talking not only about metaphysics but also about machines as metaphysicians, maybe there's some way to coin a word there. 
"Metaphysicianology" sounds & looks awful. 
"Metaphysicistics." Better, but not much better. 
"Machine metaphysicisms." 
"Metaphysicology." "Metaphysicalistics." Those are, at least, pronounceable.
I'm not doing too well. It's definitely easier to criticize your word choice than to supply you with a better word choice. Still, if plain old "metaphysics" is out of the question because of the reception which it gets, then "theology" would seem even more out of the question.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruno Marchal" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: "Benjamin Udell" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Cc: <everything-list@eskimo.com>
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2006 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: belief, faith, truth

Le 30-janv.-06, à 22:07, Benjamin Udell wrote, in part, sometimes ago 
(30 January):

Most people, however, do have some sort of views, which are or have 
been significant in their lives, about what are traditionally called 
metaphysical questions -- God, freedom, immortality, psycho-physical 
relationships, etc. Many have one or another kind of metaphysical 
faith. It seems increasingly clear to me that Bruno is doing a machine 
metaphysics, or a computer metaphysics, or a metaphysics of, by, and 
for computers or machines

Yes. I am interested in what machines (and other entities) can prove 
about themselves.
And also about what is true about themselves, but that those 
machines/entitities cannot prove, but can deliver as true in a way or 
The propositional parts of those discourse has been captured by the 
modal logical systems G and G* respectively (Solovay 1976).

(I can't remember why Bruno opts for "machines" instead of "computers.").

I use "computer" for universal machine. "Ordinateur" in french. All 
loebian machines I talk about are universal machine. All universal 
machine "believing" in classical tautologies and in the laws of 
addition and multiplication, and in some induction formulas is lobian.

It's a shame that the word "metaphysics" is ruled out by (if I remember correctly, it was in a post a while back) reaction of intellectuals in Belgium.

In Belgium, in France and in other countries, I'm afraid, among most scientists, I mean.
I rule out also "metaphysics" because I don't know what it means. 
Historically it concerns the books which were on the sides of the books on physics in the texts by Aristotle (but is this a legend?).
In "metaphysics", "meta" has not the same sense that "meta" in computer sciences and mathematical logics. Create confusions.

Moreover, "machine metaphysics" is kind of catchy in its alliterative 

Sure. Look: digital machine metaphysics is a branch of metamathematics!

Metaphysics is not religion but instead a philosophical study of 
questions which are among the important ones in religion. Philosophy, 
however, can be applied in living, so the distinction is not a barrier 
impenetrable in practice (or, therefore, in theory either)

I don't even really believe in any precise frontiers between all those 
things. It is useful only for the curriculum vitae and for searching 
job and getting social profile, but any fundamental questioning is up 
to eventually move frontiers or suppress some.




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