> The debate, for example, over whether the
> computational supervenes on the physical doesn't hinge on the 'ontic
reality' of the fundamental assumptions of physicalism or
> computationalism. Rather, it's about resolving the explanatory
> commensurability (or otherwise) of the sets of observables and
> relations characteristic of these theoretical perspectives. Indeed what
else could it possibly be for humans (or machines) with only such data at
our disposal?
> David

I got overwhelmed by work and dropped the other thread... apologies...

I have realised I have a fundamentally different view to 'computational'
and 'physical' and 'number'. On reflection it seems to be that when most
of the folk on this list think of 'number' they think of it as the
idealised numbers - numbers that are perfect. There are no fuzzy edges or
'remainders' in these numbers. We can use them to represent quantities of
notional objects and the behaviour of the objects follows the rules of the
idealised numbers. All good.

But what numbers are used in the construction of the 'physical'? My
particular ontic prejudice :-) all along has been that the physical is
simply a reified computation, but not on idealised numbers. I suppose all
number comes down to logical operations whetween types... but the
'numbers' underlying the mathematics can be any arbitrary event( as a
type) any instance(s) of a type. A collection of such instances operating
together literally become the mathematics.

In this approach the 'chair', to me, literally is a computational outcome.
The 'proof' process has no end and the mathematics automatically enacts
proofs (this is the 2nd law of thermodynamics at work). The chair is a
continually unfolding proof within the mathematics of these
'numbers_that_are_not'. The fact that we are also proofs within the same
mathematics means that we, in having perceptual faculties, get to label
whatever it is we are in as 'physical'. This does not mean that there is
no such thing as 'real'. What it means is that the computation that we are
is the only reified computation. That computation is just not one done on
the idealised numbers.

To me, saying that computation on idealised numbers is the only 'real
computation' ( = distingishing between chair and math) is like choosing
one isotope of carbon and declaring it to be the 'real' carbon
(mathematics)...When in fact all the isotopes are carbon(mathematics),
just on different bases. Or perhaps that the only 'real' colour
representation is RGB, not CMYK or any of the others equivalents.

Choosing a perfect number set to perform mathematics and do computing and
formal proofs works really well and we have been able to use it to great

However, I find I cannot distinguish between a 'chair' and a 'mathematical
concep' and a 'mathematical proof' and a 'computation' and 'the physical'
and the 'real'. They are all the same thing. In fact in this particular
case it's a damned nuiscance we have different words forcing us to make
the distinction and have predispositions to regard them as such.

I reached this position independently and you may think I'm nuts... I
can't help what I see... is there something wrong with this way of
thinking? I seemed to have reached it naturally and only recently realised
that I was thinking very diffrerently to everyone else... or maybe I'm
not, but just misunderstand... hard for me to tell. Perhaps you can help!


Colin Hales

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