On Nov 14, 2008, at 9:29 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Now a computationalist cannot say "I believe that persons represented
> by unimplemented computations are conscious" for the reason that all
> computations have to be implemented".
Ok, I see your point. Computations are actions that people (or
computers or whatever) perform in our world. So it's still not quite
right to refer to "persons represented by unperformed computations".
But I still want some concise way of correctly saying what I'm trying
Imagine an infinite two-dimensional lattice filled with the binary
digits of PI. (Start with any cell and fill in the digits of PI in an
outwardly-expanding square spiral.) Imagine the rules of Conway's
Life. We can point to any cell in this infinite lattice, and ask, "At
time T, is this cell on or off?" For any cell at any time T, there's a
mathematical fact-of-the-matter about whether or not that cell is on
My essential position is that these mathematical facts-of-the-matter
play the role that "physical existence" is supposed to play for
materialists. If, within that mathematical description of Conway's
Life applied to the binary digits of PI, there are patterns of bits
(i.e. patterns of mathematical facts) that describe conscious persons,
I claim that those persons are in fact conscious (and necessarily so),
because those mathematical facts are as real as anything gets. They're
"all you need" for consciousness, and they're "all you need" for what
materialists call "physical reality". We can perform acts of
computation in our world in order to view some of those mathematical
facts, but those acts of computation don't create consciousness.
That's not an argument. It's just a position statement. All I'm
looking for at the moment is a good one-sentence summary of this
position. For instance:
"Mathematical facts play the role that physical existence is supposed
to play for materialists."
"All persons described by mathematical facts are necessarily conscious."
Or even just
"Collections of mathematical facts can be conscious."
Incidentally, I'd also like a name for this position. My top pick is
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