Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Le 04-déc.-06, à 08:34, Tom Caylor wrote :
> > The existence of a personal God who is not silent answers the questions
> > in a way that an impersonal god or reality does not...
>
> I certainly have a methodological problem with such an idea. This is
> due to my motivation in the subject. I am searching an explanation of
> what is a person, so assuming the existence of a person (any person,
> godlike or not) seems to me to beg the question...
>

In my view, your motivation is not large enough.  I am also motivated
by a problem: the problem of evil.  I don't think the real problem of
evil is solved or even really addressed with comp.  This is because
comp cannot define evil correctly.  I will try to explain this more.

> Note also that the major critics by the neoplatonists on Aristotle,
> besides their diverging opinions on the nature of matter, is the
> non-person character of the big unnameable, but then for Plotinus the
> "second God" (the second primary hypostase is "personal"), and indeed
> G* has a personal aspect from the point of view of the machine. I agree
> (comp agree) with Plotinus  that the big first cannot be a person. The
> second one can. To be sure Plotinus is not always completely clear on
> that point (especially on his chapter on free-will).
>

None of Plotinus' hypostases are both personal and free from evil (as
well as infinite, which we agree is needed (but not sufficient, I
maintain!) for the problem of meaning).

> ...
> > An impersonal origin results in everything
> > finally being equal.
>
> Why? This reminds me Smullyan describing two possible reactions of a
> human in front of the comp hyp:
> 1) The human does not trust himself and believes that machine are
> stupid at the start. His reaction about comp is: "I am machine thus I
> am as stupid as a machine".
> 2) The human trust himself: his reaction with the comp hyp is "Cute, it
> means machine can be as nice as me".
>

Where you can really see that numbers are impersonal is in the fact
that they don't solve the problem of evil.  Yes, Man is finite and cf
Sartre, Plato etc. is not a sufficient integration point within himself
for meaning.  But man, as a person, is also noble and cruel in his
relationship with himself and other persons.  With an impersonal core,
the universe/multiverse is totally silent in this area.  With an
impersonal core, Man's alienation with himself and other persons is
only because of chance.  With an impersonal core, man is simply
statistically out of line with the rest of the universe.   With an
impersonal core, the only possible definition of "right" vs. "wrong" is
statistical (e.g. the average), and ultimately there is no difference
between cruelty and non-cruelty.  As Marquis de Sade said, "What is, is
right".  If we were all tied to a computer which takes the average and
spits it out as the current definition of "right", then after a while,
if it weren't for meaningless random fluctuations, it would filter into
a constant and we would all end up flat-lining.

> ...
>
> > Impersonal+complexity does not produce personal.
>
>
> I would like to see a proof of that statement. The comp first person
> seems to me to be a counterexample, unless you assume at the start the
> negation of comp (and weaker-comp).
>

See above paragraph.  Impersonal+complexity produces something with
evil intrinsically in the mix, and no real solution can exist.  See
below for more on this.

> > This is the problem Plato had.  He knew that you need absolutes in
> > order to have meaning.  Plato's gods weren't big enough to be the point
> > of reference needed to define a person.  The gods and fates were
> > continuously fighting one another.
>
> You are right, but Plato did not know about Church thesis, or
> incompleteness.
>
> > I know you get some nice relative
> > forms, G*/G and all that.  But in the end it is all meaningless.
>
> You are quite quick here. Why would machine's beliefs and hopes be
> meaningless?
>
>

You are talking about relative meaning, meaning relative to the
machine.  This is why I said *in the end* it is all meaningless.
Meaning has to address evil and nobility.  See below.

>
> > As
> > Satre pointed out, no finite point has any meaning without an infinite
> > reference point.
>
>
> I totally agree with Sartre's point here. Church thesis is exactly what
> gives an absolute infinite reference point.
>

OK, even saying for the sake of argument Church's Thesis gives an
absolute infinite reference point.  This is not sufficient for solving
the problem of evil.  When you change the language or reference frame
from one machine to the other, suddenly evil (in one machine's
perspective) gets redefined.  This is the problem that happens for
example in marriage.  The two person's see each other as a machine in
an impersonal universe, and the cycle of "I'm withholding love or
respect until I get love or respect from you" starts and doesn't end...
until at least one person makes the choice to tap into (and hold onto)
the ultimate Person who provides the infinite source of unconditional
love), resulting in the manifestation of nobility rather than cruelty.

>
> ...
>
> > Everything that there is is there.  But this is the ultimate in begging
> > the question. The question remains, why is everything (I see) there?
> > Why do I exist?
>
> We have to accept something, if only because we cannot explain prime
> numbers without accepting the numbers, then comp explains why numbers
> talk like if they were sensible person, like if they were not numbers,
> like if they believe in a physical reality and beyond.
> And above all, G* explains why those beliefs are correct.
> I can indeed sum up a part of the interview by: machine will correctly
> discover their unnameable self and G* will correctly prove that such a
> self is not a machine from the first and third person point of view.
>

My view is that, yes because of the limitations of finite systems, cf
Godel incompleteness, certain things are unnameable *relative* to the
system, BUT that this does not necessarily imply that the absolute core
of Everything has to be unnameable by anyone.  I claim that the
absolute core of Everything is nameable by the core Himself, a Person.
And He has told us His name: "I AM THAT I AM".  He is infinite (we are
not), and He is absolutely good and loving (we originally were and will
be).  More below.

>
> > Relative truth is ultimately useless when it comes to the end of my
> > life.
>
> I agree with you. It is really the discovery of Church thesis, which
> introduces a lot of "absoluteness" in math (Godel found this
> miraculous) that I have begin to take "mathematicalism" seriously.
>

Great.  But again, because of the problem of evil, "mathematicalism" is
insufficient for a theory of absolutely Everything.  The linguistics
philosophers confine themselves to too small of a territory.

>
>
> > I would paraphrase Brent Meeker and ask, "Why does 'blind' have to be
> > the
> > default?"
>
> If "non blindness" is introduced as an hypothesis, it will prevent at
> the start any possible impersonal (blind) explanation of "vision". Like
> putting consciousness in the neuron for explaining consciousness in the
> brain: this does not explain consciousness. Not only this does not
> explain consciousness, but it makes the search of an explanation almost
> impossible.
>

Is it not possible that reality indeed has a definite personal
character, even at the core?  If so, then if you start with impersonal
blindness, i.e. "Everything is random" no matter how orderly is appears
locally, then you will never find the definite personal character of
the universe, because if you take this blind approach absolutely
seriously you will always ignore order and character and personality as
intrinsic. (Actually nobody does that consistently.  See story at end.)

>
> > My response to Bruno addresses the assumption of
> > impersonality.
>
> I'm not convinced. The assumption of a personal God, like the
> assumption of an impersonal physical universe, explains nothing. Imo.
> It explains neither mind nor matter, nor ... God.
> Now, I have much more evidence---empirical and theoretical--- for a
> (probably impersonal and immaterial) God, than for a primitive
> impersonal physical universe, which I take to be a locally useful FAPP
> superstition which does not resist reflection and introspection, as I
> try to illustrate with machine's introspection.
>
> Bruno
>
> http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/

Here is more on the problem of evil:

If we assume that there as been a continuous line of intrinsic evil in
the universe (as the impersonal core has to), then there is an unbroken
line between what man is now and what he has always been, i.e. man has
always had a thread of cruelty.  With this assumption, then the
conclusion would have to be that of French thinker Charles Baudelaire,
"If there is a God, He is the Devil".  For example in (impersonal,
pantheistic) Hinduism, there is constructive Vishnu and destructive
Kali.  Also, Albert Camus noted that with such a core there is no
reason to stand against evil, for instance in helping widows and
orphans in Christianity, because evil is just part of the way things
intrinsically are.  Finally, with such an impersonal core, with no
ultimately good personal God, there is no hope of a qualitative change
in man, since cruelty is intrinsic to the way man has always been.

The "later Heidegger" saw that this assumption that "man, the way he
is, is normal" leads to a dead end.  However, his attempted solution
was only an epistemological solution.  He put the discontinuity at
Aristotle, and called man's problem an epistemological abnormality,
rather than a moral one.  By "moral" I mean a rejection of our origin
in the ultimately good Person.  (I don't mean that evolution is false.
I mean *ultimate* origin.)  However, Heidegger's solution was not
sufficient, since he did not define evil correctly, since evil can only
be correctly defined with respect to a Personal core.  I maintain that
any impersonal core has this same instrinsic limitation.

Plato searched for a place to root his absolutes.  Neither Plator nor
the neo-Platonists found the solution because their impersonal gods
were not immune from evil.  The impersonal gods ultimately cannot
distinguish between man's finiteness and his cruelty.  Only the
infinite personal good God has a character from which evil is totally
excluded.  This is the only core for which a solution to the real
problem of evil is possible, so that everything can ultimately be
brought back into unity and wholeness.

Finally, regarding the unsolvable dichotomy in the impersonal (closed)
naturalistic system, Francis Schaeffer tells the following story:
"I remember sitting in a Lyons' Corner House near Marble Arch in London
some years ago, talking to a brilliant young physicist.  I asked him
about the latest work he was doing, and he told me about a new idea
that he thought might solve Einstein's problem concerning
electromagnetism and gravity.  He became very enthusiastic about this,
because I knew enough about the subject to stimulate him, and he was
far away in his thought.  Then I brought him back by saying, 'This is
fine for the Christian, who really knows who he is, to say that the
material universe may finally be reduced to energy particles moving in
opposite directions in a vortex, but what about your naturalistic
colleagues?  What happens to them when they go home to their wives and
families at night?'  He paused for a moment and then said, 'Oh, Dr.
Schaeffer, they just have to live in a dichotomy.'"

Tom


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