Bruno Marchal writes:

[SP] It's difficult to find the right words here. I think we can all agree on 
the appearance
of a physical reality as a starting point.

[SP] The common sense view is that there is an
underlying primitive physical reality generating this appearance, without which 
appearance would vanish and relative to which dream and illusion can be defined.
If this is so, it is not a scientifically testable theory.
I think it is testable indirectly.  Recall that although I disagree with Penrose godelian argument, 
I do arrive at similar conclusion: you cannot have both "computationalism" and 

[SP] We can't just switch off the
physical reality to see whether it changes the appearance, and the further we 
into matter all we see is more appearance (and stranger and stranger appearance 
that). Moreover, dream and illusion are defined relative to the appearance of 
physical reality, not relative to the postulated primitive physical reality.

I would say "relative to a theory explaining the appearances", not just to the 

Well, it is relative to appearance, but people go on to theorise that these appearances are "true reality".

3b) Stathis wrote to John M:

[SP] Not really: the people who claim they saw Elvis after his alleged death 
are more
numerous and more credible than the second-hand (at best) Biblical accounts of
Jesus being sighted after his crucifixion. When I have put this to Christians 
answer that Elvis did not claim to be God etc. Well, if he had done, would that
make a difference?

I'm afraid it would have!
Reciprocally, would Jesus have been only a musician, things would have been 
different, I guess :)

Had Elvis predicted that he would rise from the dead there would have been even more Elvis post-mortem sightings, but this would not in itself have made any of it more credible.

3c) Stathis wrote to John in another post:

[SP] The constraint on meaning and
syntax would then go, and the vibration of atoms in a rock could be implementing
any computation, including any conscious computation, if such there are.

[SP] John Searle, among others, believes this is absurd, and that therefore it 
computationalism. Another approach is that it shows that it is absurd that 
supervenes on physical activity of any sort, but we can keep computationalism 
drop the physical supervenience criterion, as Bruno has.


Searle's theory is that consciousness is a result of actual brain activity, not Turing emulable. This theory is in keeping with the facts and allows us to keep materialism as well. The main problem I see with it is that it allows for the existence of philosophical zombies, such as computers that act conscious but aren't. If this were possible it would mean that consciousness was an optional evolutionary development, i.e. we could all have evolved to live in a world exactly like our own, except we would be zombies. It's not a knock-down argument, but it strikes me as odd that something as elaborate as consciousness could have evolved with no real benefit.

3d) Stathis wrote to Brent:

[SP] Any serial computation can be made up of multiple parallel computations, and vice versa. You 
can't say, aha, we've used that string for "dog" so we can't now use it for 
"cat", because who is going to patrol the universe to enforce this rule? This is what you 
are left with if you eliminate the constraint that the computation has to interact with an external 
I am aware that this is a very strange idea, perhaps even an absurd idea, but I 
don't see any way out of it without ruining computationalism, as by saying that 
it's all bunk, or only computations that can interact with the environment at 
the level of their implementation can be conscious. Because if you insist on 
the latter, it implies something like ESP: the computer will know the 
difference between a false sensory stimulus and one emanating from the 
environment... possible, but not very Turing-emulable.

I agree with Brent's remark on that: "I find that doubtful - do you have a reference?  
Isn't it the definition of "incompressible" computation that there is no way faster 
than executing each step in sequence (Brent Meeker).

3e) Stathis' answer to Brent:

[SP] I'm not referring to speed, just to doing it. For example, a serial stream of consciousness can be emulated by multiple shorter parallel streams; there is no way of knowing whether you're being run in serial, parallel, how fast the real world clock is running, etc.

I agree there is no way to know whether you are being run in serial, parallel, 
etc. But mathematically multiple shorter parallel streams have to be able to be 
glued, at least mathematically, for constituting a proper computation. If not 
literally anything can be described as a computation. That is why I explicitly 
use a mathematical definition of computation, and then(and only then) try to 
figure out what is a rock, for example.

Would you speculate that there is some indivisible atom of conscious computation? Because it doesn't seem that you need any "glue" to have a continuous stream of conscious in teleportation and mind uploading thought experiments.
Stathis Papaioannou
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