On 18 Jun 2008, at 01:52, Russell Standish wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 07:28:56PM +0200, Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> On 17 Jun 2008, at 11:47, Russell Standish wrote:
>>> Of course Stenger is fairly profoundly nonplatonist in his views. I
>>> doubt he would accept COMP, for instance.
>> I am not sure.
>> It would mean that he believes that brains (or whatever consciousness
>> supervenes on) are non Turing-Emulable infinite analog machine/
>> entities. This would contradict his chapter three, where he argues
>> that the brain obeys "well known physical laws". All such known laws
>> are Turing emulable.
> What I meant was I'm not sure sure he accepts "Arithmetical
> Platonism", which is one of your founding principles of COMP.

Remember that after my conversation with P. Jones on this List I have  
purposefully chosen to give away AR (Arithmetical realism) from the  
definition of COMP. People tend to put too much in Arithmetical  
Realism or arithmetical platonism. It is just impossible to give sense  
to Church thesis (which I put in COMP) without believing in the very  
weak form of realism I am using in UDA, nor is it possible to  
understand the closure of the set of partial recursive functions for  
the operation of diagonalization. I am pretty sure Vic Stenger can  
understand those notions;
COMP is just the old doctrine that the brain/body functions like a  
machine. Church thesis and arithmetical realism are useful to make  
clear what we mean by machine, i.e; finitely describable machine.
"Arithmetical Platonism" is just the indexical belief that the truth  
or falsity of a proposition like "17 is prime" does not depend on me,  
us, the humans.

> It is
> possible to believe consciousness is Turing emulable without believing
> actual Turing machines exist in the physical universe, for
> instance.

Of course. But I don't see the point. If consciousness is turing  
emulable, then the physical universe emerges from all immaterial  
computational histories. We don't have to believe in actual physical  
Turing machine existing in a physical universe, given that those  
notion are secondary or emerging from the arithmetical reality.

> Think back to the fun debates we had with that ultrafinitist
> Torgny!

It is preferable not putting the "infinite tape" in the definition of  
a universal (Turing) machine, like in recursion theory or theoretical  
computer science, or like in Turing's theorem that a universal turing  
machine exist. The infinite tape is really just an infinitely  
extendable finite tape. This makes possible to have universal machine,  
like us, even in Torgny's ultrafinitist and physicalist context.

Universal machine theorem: EuAxAy  phi_u(x,y) = phi_x(y)      the  
"universal u" has a finite description.
With Phi_i the partial recursive functions, and (x,y) some computable  
bijection from NXN to N.

> Anyway, it is probably best to let him defend his position, rather
> than putting words into his mouth.

He wrote books on the subject, we can deduce propositions from there   
and discussed them. Of course he is welcome to clarify his position,  
but if he got the "chance" to understand the UD argument, and if he  
want to keep up the myth of a primary physical reality, then he has to  
put some actual third person infinity in the brain or to throw away  
the notions of consciousness and person, like indeed some materialist  
are doing. In that case comp is trivially true, you would even survive  
a substitution of your brain with nothing 'cause you are already dead.

I  am afraid Vic is just not aware of the subtlety of the  
consciousness problem. The way he dismisses mystical experiences as  
"just" neuron firings in the brain is rather typical. Gosh, we could  
say that the belief in a physical universe is also "just" brain  
firing. That proves nothing, and just illustrates that he believes in  
comp and use it, like many materialist, just to hold the idea that  
there is no consciousness problem.
Comp has always been the favorite hypothesis of the materialist, but  
where I use comp to try to formulate the mind-body problem,  
materialist use it to dismiss it. We are "just" machine, according to  
materialists. The problem is that (cf UDA) mechanism force us to admit  
a giant first person indeterminacy, which today lead to more  
indeterminacy than we observe in nature. Then the incompleteness  
provides everything we need to compare more scrupulously those  
indeterminacies and test the comp hypothesis. This leads to the study  
of machine's theology. I mean we have to distinguish what is true on  
machines from what machines can prove about themselves.
By not taking theology seriously enough, we give it to authoritative  
clerical powers and to popular wishful thinking ... making theology  
looks not serious and unscientific. It is a vicious circle. My opinion  
is that science is agnostic in front of any ontological commitments,  
especially fundamental one like universes and gods. But, hearing the  
creationist discourses in America, I remain sympathetic to Vic's  
intentions, despite I believe such a negative book (God does not  
exist) will give more fuel to its opponents. Putting back theology in  
the scientist curriculum, and admitting we are almost nowhere in our  
understanding of consciousness could be the best prevention against  
the popular incoherent mythes and the clerical authoritative  
manipulations of all sorts.
Science is doubt. Fundamental science is fundamental doubt.



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