Bruno Marchal writes:

> > > 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 a real world - which has now been replaced by a simulator.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.

An association has been made between "print" and "document" with objects 
in the real world. You can work out what the print command is on an unknown 
computer by experimenting with different inputs and observing outputs. But 
if the real world is internalised, even if you could work out regularities in 
the 
syntax of an unknown computer (and I don't know if this is necessarily 
possible: 
it might be a military computer with syntax deliberately scrambled with a 
one-time 
pad) you would be unable to work out what it originally meant - what the 
computer 
is thinking. It is like finding an unknown language without a Rosetta stone or 
any 
cultural background which might help you with a translation. This reminds me of 
the 
impossibility of sharing 1st person experience: you can only do so if you share 
some 
3rd person quality allowing at least some interaction.

Stathis Papaioannou
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