Le 18-janv.-07, à 06:38, Brent Meeker a écrit :

> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> To avoid to much posts in your mail box, I send all my comments in 
>> this post,
>> Hi Brent,
>> 1a) Brent meeker wrote (quoting Jim Heldberg) :
>>     Atheism is not a religion, just as a vacant lot is not a type of
>>     building, and health is not a form of sickness. Atheism is not a
>>     religion.
>>     --- Jim Heldberg
>> It seems to me that Jim Heldberg confuse the scientist (indeed) 
>> attitude of agnosticism and atheism.
>> Let D = the proposition "God exists", "~" = NOT, B = believes.
>> An agnostic is someone for which the proposition "~BD" is true. (And 
>> "~B~D" could be true as well)
>> An atheist is someone for which "B~D" is true.
> But what does "true" mean?  Does it mean provable? and on what basis?  
> Does it mean "our best guess"

I am using "true" in its usual informal sense here. To be more precise 
here would be a 1004 fallacy. In the technical part, all proposition 
are purely arithmetical, and if you want you can defined that notion of 
arithmetical truth in set theory for example. But the Tarski definition 
of truth is enough in the present context. The proposition P intended 
by the sentence A is true when it is the case that A.

>> The atheist is a believer. As John M often says, an atheist already 
>> has some notion of God such as to be able to believe it does not 
>> exist.
>> Now most atheist are already "believer" in believing "religiously" in 
>> Primary Matter (a metaphysical entity).
>> I'am agnostic in both sense. I do not believe in God, nor do I 
>> believe in Matter. Those terms are not enough well defined.
>> I do neither believe in the inexistence of God, nor in the 
>> inexistence of Matter. I wait for more data.
> Right.  "God exists" is not well enough defined to believe or 
> disbelieve - both "God" and "exists" being ill defined.  But I think 
> "theism" is well enough defined.  Theism is the belief in an immortal, 
> supernaturally powerful person, who is concerned with the welfare and 
> behavior of human beings.  I believe this god of theism does not 
> exist.  As to other gods, such as the god of deism or pantheism, I'm 
> agnostic - I don't believe they exist and I don't believe they don't 
> exist.  In all the above "believe" means my considered opinion - not 
> something mathematically provable, but something I think is provable 
> in the legal sense of "preponderance of the evidence" or in the 
> scientific sense of "in accordance with our best model".

OK, but here you do the inverse of the 1004-fallacy. I was thinking we 
were already more precise than that. There is a problem of vocabulary. 
You continue to use the word "God" as related to our particular 
history. I just defined "theology of a machine" by the truth about that 
machine (whatver that truth is).  Given that I limit myself to 
self-referentially correct machine, the provable sentences by the 
machine are included in the truth about the machine. The inclusion has 
to be proper due to incompleteness of all such machines. Unlike the 
christian theologians, I have no (not yet) evidence that "God" (truth, 
the ONE, ...) is dedicated to the welfare of man (although I have 
evidence that man, or at least some man, are dedicated too the serach 
of truth.
Also, nobody has proved the existence of a primitive physical universe. 
With the present definition of theology, the belief in a physical 
primitive universe *is* a theological proposition. And I have shown 
that such a belief is epistemologically incompatible with the belief in 
comp (that there is a level where "I" am Turing emulable).
The Mechanist position in the philosophy of mind is just 
(epistemologically) incompatible with, not the belief in a physical 
universe", but with the belief in the primary nature of that physical 

> So atheism is not a religion - it's the belief that a particular class 
> of religion is mistaken.  To reject a belief that is contrary to the 
> evidence is not a matter of faith.  It doesn't take faith to believe 
> there is no Santa Claus.

It does not take faith to NOT believe in Santa Klaus. It does take 
faith (if only in your own consistency) to believe that you will never 
believe in Santa Klaus. Now I (re) define locally and in a first 
approximation GOD as the ultimate reality, for which I do have 
evidence. Thanks to Plotinus and Augustin there is case that this 
notion of GOD is closer to the christian notion than a "primitive 
physical universe", for which I have no evidence at all (beyond the 
usual extrapolation of self-consistency that all higher mammal seems to 
do all the time).
I am closer to the atheist when I say that the GOD is not a person (or 
is a zero-person). But with comp, I have to abandon "materialism", even 
in the weak sense that there is a primary notion of matter.
Materialism, for a computationalist (who has understand the complete 
UDA) is a form of vitalism: it invokes something nobody can verify, and 
which (by UDA) is shown to explain absolutely nothing. Like the 
collapse of the wave, it is not even defined.
The use of materialism in physics, since Aristotle, is just a provisory 
metaphysics used to postpone the delicate questions. I have not yet 
find a paper by physicist (except Bunge) which really assumes, in some 
scientist modest way, the hypothesis of materialism.

>> But assuming comp, I must confess that I have *reason* to put some 
>> more credo on Plotinus, and other platonist approaches, on 
>> "mind/god/matter" and fundamental principle, than on the aristotelian 
>> primitive matter theory. Actually, I infer the same belief from the 
>> empirical quantum data.
>> 1b) Brent wrote to John M:
>>     Values existed longer before humans.
>> So you are a bit Platonist too .... :)
> Yes, I'm willing to contemplate different kinds of existence - so  
> that mathematical structures made be said to exist and statements like 
> "Sherlock Holmes was a detective." are in some sense true while 
> "Sherlock Holmes was a Russian." are false.


> But whether arithmetic is more fundamental than matter - I'm agnostic.

Then you would be kind to point exactly where you miss the point in the 
UDA. Or perhaps you are just saying that you are agnostic with respect 
to comp? That is ok, I am too, and that is why I have work hard to 
distill a testable version of comp.

> > 1c) Brent wrote (to Stathis):
>>     How is this infinite regress avoided in our world? By 
>> consciousness
>>     not representing the rest of the world.
>> That is an interesting idea. You could elaborate a bit perhaps? I do 
>> agree with your most of your recent replies to Stathis about the 
>> question "does a rock think?". But perhaps not entirely for the same 
>> reason as you. We will see.
> It's a half-baked idea, so I'm not sure I can fill it out.  But it is 
> similar to Stathis's point that language (and all symbolic 
> representation) must be grounded in ostentive definition.  In Stathis 
> example the conscious computer is conscious by virtue of reference to 
> a real world - which has now been replaced by a simulator.  But in a 
> closed system, with no outside reference, the ostensive definition 
> itself must be represented computationally.  And in what sense is it a 
> representation of an ostensive definition?  Only in virtue of some 
> meta-dictionary that defines it as such in terms of still other 
> representations.

When you ask your computer to print a document, the computer typically 
does not search the meaning of the words "print" or "document" in a 
dictionary. Other more subtile self-reference are handled by the 
diagonalization technic which makes it possible to cut the infinite 
regresses. IF and when I come back on the Fi and Wi, I will give you 
Kleene second recursion theorem which solves all those infinite regress 
appearing in computer self-reference.

>>     The world is what it is and representation is not essential. I
>>     suppose this is somewhat like Peter's "primitive substance" whose
>>     only function is to distinguish things that exist from their
>>     representation.
>> yes, but then the question is "what are you assuming to exist?"
> Our best model seems to be the quantum fields of the standard model.

Quantum field theory (QFT) does assume numbers, and strictly speaking 
relates numbers with numbers (actually they appear also mathematically 
as invariant of knots, but this is out-of-topic right now). QFT, like 
QM compress a lot of information concerning our local appearances, but 
it does not tackle the fundamental question (that is: it postulates 
quanta, and does not address qualia at all). Quantum thermodynamic can 
be said closer to the qualia, but in a still very implicit way, and 
almost by chance.

> But I think it is the wrong question to ask "what do you assume to 
> exist".

When we got startling results, or address very fundamental questions, I 
think there is a time where we should be able to put all the cards on 
the table. I think we have to accept the axiomatic method. If not we 
could realize one day that we are just mislead by vocabulary, and that 
is a waste of time relatively to the question of the content of our 

> You don't start with assuming something to exist, that's a 
> mathematician's axiomatic approach; you start with what you observe, 
> with appearances.

I don't believe in "just appearance". Those "appearance" is the result 
of both observation together with theories. Even a baby who begins to 
distinguish its hands and its mother's hand relies on theories whose 
results from millions years of researches.

> You may be able to model them with different ontologies and then the 
> question is, "How can you test them."

Hmmm.... OK (logicians and physicians use different word here, but OK).

>  As Thales said, "The question is not what exists, but how can we 
> know."  It may be that different ontologies produce the same empirical 
> results - as quantum fields and elementary particle theories seem to - 
> and there is nothing to choose between them.

This is not obvious at all, unless you start directly from a 
physicalist assumption. Of course a more general theory is needed if 
you want to *explain* where the laws of physics come from. And such a 
more general theory has to be non physical, as John Archibald Wheeler 
has already quite convincingly explained. But the UDA proves that if 
comp is true, then Wheeler's idea are not an option, just an 
unavoidable consequence.

> >
>> 1d) Brent wrote to Mark Peaty (in Jason's thread about 
>> "irreversibility):
>>     I think there is a confusion creeping in here. I don't think
>>     "logically reversible" is misleading. It is only physical 
>> processes
>>     that can be termed reversible or irreversible. Logic lives in a
>>     timeless Platonia. Computers operated irreversibly, they dissipate
>>     heat when they they erase data. Feynman pointed out that this was
>>     not necessary and a computer that did not erase data could operate
>>     without dissipating heat (no increase in entropy).
>> The logician Hao Wang, is, as far as I know, the first to prove that 
>> a universal machine can operate without ever erasing information, and 
>> this is enough for developping notion of logical reversibility (quite 
>> useful in quantum computing). I say more in term of "combinators" in 
>> my Elsevier paper. The one which is not yet on my web page. People 
>> interested can ask me a preprint.
> If it's in English I'm interested.

Marchal, B., Theoretical Computer Science & the Natural Sciences, 
Physics of Life Reviews, Elsevier, Vol 2/4 pp 251-289, 2005.

(for the other: ask if you want a pdf). I will not put it soon in my 
web page for copyright reason.

BTW I have finish my paper on the arithmetical interpretation of 
Plotinus. And I have submit it.

>> Grosso modo you lose universality if both "eliminating info" is 
>> prohibited and "duplicating info".
>> 2a) John wrote to Jamie:
>>     Sponging the 'gedanken..' - the falling treebranch reflects in 
>> your
>>     version the omniscient arrogant reductionist position. I go with
>>     Popper: no evidence, because we cannot encompass 'totality'  (my
>>     conclusion).
>> Cute. And admitting to represent "totality" by the set of codes of 
>> total (everywhere defined) computable functions, this can be made 
>> very precise in term of the Wi and the Fi, as I try to explain from 
>> time to time in the list.
>>          I would'nt go to the primitive mechanistic AI-levels to 
>> learn about
>>     mentality unlimited. Bits (and pieces) for unrestricted relations.
>>     AI simulates (mechanically?) certain aspects of human mentality - 
>> up
>>     to a limited fashion.
>> You seem quite sure about that. How do you know? Why couldn'it be 
>> that *you* find this "limited" due to your own prejudice about 
>> numbers and machines?
>> 2b) John wrote to Brent:
>>     So noted. (However: in my feeble English 'bias' means
>>     '~prejudice' and I have yet to learn about prejudicial
>>     instruments. Unless we accept the "conscious
>>     instrument e.g. a thinking yardstick). I, as a
>>     Loebian machine, may well be prejudicial).
>> That is true!!! Are you serious about being a lobian machine? As a 
>> matter of fact, lobian machine can know and prove that they are 
>> lobian.
>> To prove being a *consistent* lobian machine is quite another matter, 
>> though ....
>> It is not impossible. *Inconsistent* lobian machine *can* prove that 
>> they are consistent lobian machine, but then they can prove the 
>> existence of Santa Klaus, and also, to be sure, of 0 = 1.
>> 3a) Stathis wrote (to me):
>>     Regarding consciousness being generated by physical activity, 
>> would
>>     it help if
>>     I said that if a conventional computer is conscious, then, to be
>>     consistent, a
>>     rock would also have to be conscious?
>> I think you could be right ... It is difficult because terms like 
>> "conventional" and "physical" are quite fuzzy.
>> I do think that if a conventional (material in the mundane sense) is 
>> conscious, most probably anything *is* conscious, and that is related 
>> to the fact that I think (assuming the comp hypothesis) that a 
>> conventional computer is *not* conscious. Consciousness is a first 
>> person attribute, and the UDA shows that it has to be associated with 
>> an (infinity) of (mathematical) computations.
> Why isn't the computer (or rock) associated with an infinity of 
> computations?  I'm assuming you mean a potential countable infinity in 
> the future.

I have answered this in my preceding post to you. I will come back on 
this difficult point in my conversation with Stathis.

>> This 1-person has no shape, and can even be considered as not being a 
>> machine. I guess we will have to discuss this with more details.
>>     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.
>> Yes.
>>     The common sense view is that there is an
>>     underlying primitive physical reality generating this appearance,
>>     without which the
>>     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 "materialism".
>>     We can't just switch off the
>>     physical reality to see whether it changes the appearance, and the
>>     further we delve
>>     into matter all we see is more appearance (and stranger and 
>> stranger
>>     appearance at
>>     that). Moreover, dream and illusion are defined relative to the
>>     appearance of regular
>>     physical reality, not relative to the postulated primitive 
>> physical
>>     reality.
>> I would say "relative to a theory explaining the appearances", not 
>> just to the appearances.
>> 3b) Stathis wrote to John M:
>>     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 they
>>     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 :)
>> 3c) Stathis wrote to John in another post:
>>     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.
>>     John Searle, among others, believes this is absurd, and that
>>     therefore it disproves
>>     computationalism. Another approach is that it shows that it is
>>     absurd that consciousness
>>     supervenes on physical activity of any sort, but we can keep
>>     computationalism and
>>     drop the physical supervenience criterion, as Bruno has.
>> Yes.
>> 3d) Stathis wrote to Brent:
>>     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 observer.
>>     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:
>>     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's a reductio argument and when you've reached an absurdity it can 
> be anyone of your premises that is wrong - including comp.

That is my point.

>> 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.
>> 4) Mark Peaty wrote (to Brent):
>>     As I say, the essence of evil is the act of treating other persons
>>     as things.
>> I so agree with you. And then, with Church thesis (less than comp, 
>> thus) you can understand the reason why even some (relative) machine 
>> and some (relative) numbers should not be confused with any of their 
>> third person description.
>>     On another tack: it seems to me the extent and scope of suffering 
>> in
>>     the world is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of the
>>     total irrelevance of the concept of G/god/s. However it is not for
>>     me to go around telling those who believe in some G/god/s that 
>> they
>>     are deluded.
>> Do you agree that those who believe in a primitive physical universe 
>> could be deluded in the same manner than those who believe in some 
>> notion of God. Perhaps even in a worse manner, because many people 
>> believe that the existence of a primitive material universe is a 
>> "scientific fact". Of course not. At least in many theological text, 
>> the word "God" is used in a more axiomatic way than "Matter" is by 
>> some scientist (at lunch or during the week-end). Most religious 
>> people will never say that the existence of God is a scientific fact, 
>> and in that sense are less deluded than many materialist.
> They say the existence of God is a matter of faith and that is a more 
> certain kind of knowledge than scientific knowledge.  Because faith is 
> independent of evidence religion is a much more resistant delusion 
> than erroneous science.

Personal pain/pleasure: that is what we can believe without act of 
faith. All the rest need an act of faith, by which I mean the ability 
to believe in assumptions, that is in proposition without a proof. To 
go from "I see the moon" to "there is a moon" you need faith or ..., 
well by being non truring emulable perhaps .... (up to you to show me 
how ...).

This is provable for any monist theory. In a monist theory you have to 
embed the "theoretician" in its object of study (like Everett embeds 
the physicist in the physical world (described by the SWE), see also 
the work of the physicist Otto Rossler: his endophysics is really an 
endomathematics once we assume comp). If the "theoretician" is emulable 
by a turing machine, any everything-theory he can build has the 
property that the consistency of the big picture entails its own 
consistency, and this can only be inferred, never proved.

Our theories are counterintuitive and do handle very subtle questions, 
I really think than the axiomatic method can help. You cannot explain 
General Relativity to people who believes the Euclid fifth axiom is a 
consequence of the fourth preceding one. The same occur in our context. 
It is impossible to understand the consequences of comp for those who 
believed comp needs materialism when it is actually incompatible with 
(weak) materialism, as it has been justified.



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