On 03 Aug 2009, at 07:51, Rex Allen wrote:

> On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 3:21 PM, Bruno Marchal<marc...@ulb.ac.be>  
> wrote:
>> Rex proposes something like:
>> It is radical, and it is difficult to say if it explains anything. I
>> suspect the goal could be personal enlightnment instead of a search  
>> in
>> a communicable theory which should or could explain the observable  
>> and
>> non observable (but "feelable", like pain) phenomena.
> On Sat, Aug 1, 2009 at 2:19 AM, Brent  
> Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>>> The only thing we have direct access to is our conscious experience.
>>> Trying to explain the existence of this conscious experience in  
>>> terms
>>> of what is experienced inevitably leads to vicious circularity.
>> If you explain the existence of a pain in your tooth by a cavity  
>> the experience may lead
>> to a dentist - and less pain in your experience.
> I am proposing, I suppose:
> So obviously it seems useful to postulate the existence of things like
> quarks and electrons, which we then use to make predictions about what
> will happen if we do this, that, or the other.  However, I think there
> is good reason to believe that this only holds true in our own
> relatively well-behaved part of what is actually a vast experiential
> wilderness.
> Any proposal that has our consciousness as being "caused", whatever
> the causal mechanism, is open to the possibility that we are caused to
> experience something that is not reflective of the reality that
> produced the experience.  Dreams, delusions, hallucinations,
> brains-in-vats, and computer simulations of brains all offer real or
> conceivable examples of scenarios where what is experienced might lead
> one astray in trying to determine the underlying nature of things.
> If our conscious experience is caused, then for all we know we're
> giant amorphous blobs floating in 12 dimensional space, but with just
> the right internal causal structure to produce the conscious
> experience of being humans in 3-dimensional space.

You are using the identity thesis. It is inconsistent for any rational  
agent who believe that its own consciousness is invariant for a local  
functional substitution.

> Or we could be
> "Boltzmann Brains", produced by the random fluctuations of particles
> in just the right way to produce the illusion of our current
> experiences.

Same remark. If we are machine, Boltzmann brain does not work, unless  
they have the right relative statistics, but then they are no more BBs.

> Given enough time, exactly our experience would be
> produced, regardless of the underlying physics of the Boltzmann
> Universe that we actually inhabit, just through a brute random search
> of the space of possibilities, combination and recombination of all
> possible configurations.  OR (per Bruno) we could be mathematical
> algorithms existing only in some immaterial platonic sense.

No we aren't. There are no such identifty thesis consistent with the  
comp hyp.
Comp makes consciosusness more fundamental, than usual identifty  
theses permit.

> Or identical experiences, plus all variations, of being Brent or Bruno
> might be caused by each of the above mechanisms at different times and
> in different places.  An infinite number of universes, or a universe
> of infinite size, or with an infinite amount of time, or a quantum
> mechanical multiverse with infinite branches, or a platonic Plenitude
> containing all possible mathematical/algorithmic structures, would all
> seem to be possibilities, and not even mutually exclusive ones.

This is slightly less wrong, but consciousness is distributed on such  
multi-realities. It defines them in the limit.

> BUT, I don't think so.
> All causal explanations for consciousness (even Bruno's) ultimately
> rely on fiat assertions that "this causes conscious experience",

I permanently avoid the notion of causality in search of the  
fundamentals. Causlaity is like free-will, it is something which  
emerge at some high level, of description.

Comp is not "brain produces consciousness". It is the assertion of the  
existence of la level of description of my "body" such that I will not  
experience anything usual in the case my "body" is substituted by an  
equivalent , for that level, digital device.
That is the "yes doctor". It does not presuppose that the brain causes  
consciousness or thing like that.

> without providing any convincing explanation for why this should be.

With comp, such explanation cannot be given. If a doctor shows any  
such beliefs in the completeness of such an explanation, you better  
run away, and search for a more modest doctor.
But we can have convincing evidences that comp makes sense. Today's  
physics implies comp, today biology implies comp, today's  
neurophysiology implies comp. Non-comp needs to speculate about many  
things we have no evidences at all. But despite this, few realize that  
comp is incompatible with the aristotelian idea that there is a  
physical universe operating primitively. Comp shows that Plato's  
theory is more coherent than Aristotle theory.
Even yours is more coherent, yet quite vague.

> It's not so much causation as correlation, as far as I can see.

Sure. And the point is that such a correlation cannot be one-one. You  
can attach consciousness to a body (your friend's body, for example),  
but if you say "yes to the doctor", you can understand that you cannot  
attach your experience to any body (nor physical, mathematical, etc.).  
On the contrary, bodies should be said to be "caused" by, or emerging  
from,   consciousness.

And then computer science suggest a definition of consciousness as a  
state of true belief in a reality.

> As I mentioned, I'm sure that the brain can be viewed as representing
> the contents of my experience.  And I'm sure that a computer program
> could also be written that would represent the contents of my
> conscious experience and whose representational state would evolve as
> the program ran so that it continued to match what I experience over
> time.  But this would not mean that the program was conscious, or that
> my brain is conscious.

Exactly,  that is even a key point.

> The living brain and the executing computer program both just
> represent the contents of my conscious experience, in the same way
> that a map represents the actual terrain.

This is ambiguous. If you agree that this does not force you to say  
"no" to the doctor, despite he will handle only those "map-like"  
representations, then I am OK with you.

> However, I question the need to push the explanation down to a
> separate layer.

Because to put consciousness as primitive does not explain neither  
consciousness, nor matter, nor their relation.
You may be right, but then we are waiting for the theory, and the  

By the way, what is the status of your theory with respect to comp?

> So we are at the top of your ontological stack, I
> assume.  And we look below us to see what supports us.  But then we
> have to look below that level to see what supports it, and below that
> level to see what supports it, and so on.  Infinite regress.  Turtles
> all the way down.

If you accept the structure (N, + x) we can use beautiful method to  
solve infinite regress. That is what does "recursion theory" all the  
If you don't accept (N, +, x), how will you explain the fact that we  
are consciously talking about (N, +, x)?

> But instead why not look at our own experience, which is the only
> thing we know directly, as the foundation of the ontological stack.

You can try. Good luck. I can agree that we know our experiences, and  
even better that anything else. But as such, those are the things we  
cannot communicate to others, at all. That is why only great artist,  
poet and musician dare to try.
That is why some scientist does the mistake of putting those  
incommunicable things under the rug. They are mistaken because they  
confuse "non communicable", with "non existence". Eventually they will  
eliminate the person.

> Everything that exists rests on the foundation of our conscious
> experience?

The problem is "our". What do you mean by that? If by "our" you mean  
"us" the universal machine, I can interpret favorably (with respect to  
the comp theory) that everything that exists rests on the foundation  
of our consciousness.
And this includes "consciousness", in a circular way, bur which  
circularity can be eliminated by theorems in computer science. Then  
consciousness appears to be a logical descendant of the instinctive  
bet that there is a reality. It provides a relative self-speeding  
power which has no bound.

> In this view, the stack goes up for as far as our
> intellect can reach.  And as our intellectual capacity expands, the
> our view of the existential landscape above us also expands.
> This, I think, makes more sense.

You should appreciate comp and its consequences, because it is closer  
to this view than you seem to realize. But you have to tell us what  
you mean by "our" to evaluate the degree of adequation between your  
insight, and what can be derived from computer science and self- 
reference logics.



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