On 13 Nov 2008, at 00:16, Kory Heath wrote:
> On Nov 12, 2008, at 9:33 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> First, I have never stop to work on that and try to share the
>> with people interested in the matter.
> True. You're tireless! (That's a complement.)
>> Second, it happens that sometimes I think the burden his on him to
>> tell us what he means by a physical universe.
> I totally agree. But most people will just wave their arms and say,
> "What do you mean? We're obviously in a physical universe. What's
> problematic about that?"
I think there is a reason for that. Million of years of Darwinian
brain washing. But we can't complain, it has also been brain-building.
Note that the Greek are the first to rationally take a distance from
that, and by this move created modern science including theology as
the most fundamental science. But humanity was perhaps not mature
enough, so when Aristotle reintroduced the idea that matter is basic,
both scientist and theologian get back to it.
Of course poets and mystics know better ....
> And then the burden is back on us to explain
> why the concept of "physical existence" is more problematic than it
> seems. Burden Tennis.
This is the reason why I have developed the Movie Graph Argument
>> It is not a question of taste. It is a question of acknowledging use
>> of logic and assumptions, and finding either hidden assumptions, or
>> imprecise statements or invalid argument step(s).
> I see your point. But there are issues of clarity or focus, and to
> some extent those are a matter of taste. I'd like to read an essay (by
> anyone) that lays out a clear argument in favor of the position that
> computations don't need to be implemented in order to be conscious.
Be careful with the term. The MGA is subtle and to explain it we will
have to be more precise. For example here it is better to remember
that only *person* are conscious. Computations are not conscious (be
it soft or hard wired).
> believe this argument can be made without reference to Loebian
> machines, first-person indeterminacy, or teleportation thought-
MGA is a completely different thought experiment. It looks a bit like
UDA, but it is deeply different.
> I hope you don't find my criticism too annoying.
Not at all. But many in this list said it was obvious that the UD does
not need to be run, and I remember that I thought that explaining MGA
was not really necessary. Even you, right now, seem to agree that
computation does not need to be implemented. This does not motivate me
too much. The MGA is far more subtle than UDA, and it is a bit
frustrating to explain it to people who says in advance that they
already agree with the conclusion. Even Maudlin did complain to me
that few people have understand its Olympia reasoning. Many confuses
it with other type of criticism of comp.
> It's easy for me to
> sit on the sidelines and take potshots, while you've done a lot of
> actual work. And remember that I do, in fact, believe that
> computations don't need to be implemented in order to be conscious, so
> you're usually preaching to the choir with me.
> My point is that, I can
> imagine Dennett reading your posts, and saying "Ok, that makes sense
> *if* we accept that computations don't need to be implemented in order
> to be conscious. But I still don't see why I should believe that."
Dennett, like many "naturalist" is not aware that the notion of matter
is not obvious at all. The greeks were much more aware than all those
who followed, of the mind body problem (except Descartes and
Malebranche). Today people thought about the "consciousness" problem,
when the real trouble is in defining both mind and matter and relating
them. And Dennett seems not to be aware that modern physics has not
progressed at all in the "hard problem of matter", on the contrary,
modern physics (quantum physics) makes the problem of matter even
harder (which in a sense *constitutes* a progress of course). The QM
many worlds saves the idea that matter is something objective, but
even the many worlds does not explain what matter is, and if it is, at
Dennett gives a good criteria of what could be an explanation of
intelligence or consciousness. It has to be something relating NON-
INTELLIGENT (or non-conscious) entity in such a way it explains
intelligence or consciousness. This is the basic idea behind Putnam's
functionalism, or even computationalism (which is the belief that
functionalism is true at least at some level of description of oneself).
So, why does Dennett not ask the same for an explanation of matter.
Matter should be explained without any use of the word matter, and so
it should be explained by relating only ... non material entities. But
nobody asks for that. Why? Because we are hardwired for not doubting
matter. We take for granted that matter is made of ... matter.
Now, physics, if you look at it, never uses the concept of matter. It
is so typical in Newton physics where the material sun can become a
"material point" whose only role is to attract or repulse other
material point. Matter is explained in term of relative actions
occurring in a space-time frame.
Even today, if you ask a string theorist what a string is made of, or
what a brane is made of, they look at you like if you are doing some
metaphysics just for annoying them, or they begin a lengthy
explanation where only mathematical objects appear.
I am not sure physicist really believe in matter, but they fake such
belief for evacuating what they feel to be "only" a philosophical
problem, actually they try to escape the mind-body problem---except
few philosophers, don't take what I am saying to literaly.
It is only when you grasp the mind body problem, that you realize you
have to be a bit more cautious when talking about mind *and* about
And MGA has been invented only to explain that mechanism does not, per
se, solve the mind-body problem. Indeed it makes the matter problem
the *only* big problem. Mind is well taking into account by "machine
discourse", which are well taken into account by computer science and
> I guess what it comes down to is that the Movie Graph Argument on its
> own doesn't seem fully convincing to me. But it's quite possible that
> I don't fully understand that argument. (I have my own reasons for
> believing that computations don't need to be implemented in order to
> be conscious, and sometimes I think some of them are functionally
> equivalent to the MGA, but I'm not sure.) Where is the clearest
> statement of the MGA?
Now I feel guilty. There is just no presentations of the MGA in
English. The MGA appears the first time in my 1988 paper, written in
It appears in full detail in my "Brussel's Thesis", 1994, which I have
been obliged to write in French (by moral harassment). Then it appears
in my PhD thesis in France, which I did begin in english, and then I
have been force to translate in french (I have been unlucky, it was
not harassment, but the first year of application of the "Loi Toubon",
forcing all thesis to be written in french). Note that in the two
theses, MGA precedes UDA.
In this list, I have always suggest people to read the Maudlin"s paper
1989, which develops a similar argument. Actually, some objections (by
Barnes) to Maudlin does not work on MGA. And one objection to MGA, the
conterfactual objection, is answered by Maudlin. It is easy to extend
MGA 1988 a few bit so that it handles the counterfactual objection
answered by Maudlin 1989 (and thats give the new MGA described in my
Perhaps the time has come I explain the MGA on the list? Would you be
interested? It seems that both you and Stathis already accept the
conclusion. So ...
Are there still people believing in the necessity of matter for
consciousness (yet grasping UDA[1...7] ) ?
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
For more options, visit this group at