On Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 1:53 PM, Bruno Marchal<marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
>> As such, I feel that it is reasonable to say that conscious experience
>> itself is uncaused and fundamental.
> This has no meaning for me. It is like saying "don't ask".

Hmmmmm.  You don't at all see what I'm trying to say?

Okay, how about this:  Reality is tautological.

So if our conscious experience is caused by a rule-following system,
based on a sequence of determinisitc transforms applied to an initial
state...and this is true of both physicalism and your theory I
think...then our conscious experience just is what it is.  Tautology.
Everything that follows was implicit in the setup.

And there's no obvious reason that the "unpacked" version, where what
follows is made *explicit*, shouldn't be considered as a whole - with
the beginning, middle, and end states seen as existing simultaneously
and timelessly.  This makes the view that "it just is what it is" even
more obvious.

> Also, what do your theory say about accepting or not an artificial
> brain?

IF consciousness is caused, then whether you accept or not is a
forgone conclusion, implicit in the initial setup (initial state +
transformation rules) of the system that caused your conscious
experience.  So there is no real choice to "accept or decline".  Only
the conscious experience of a choice.

If consciousness is UNCAUSED and fundamental, then...same answer.
There is no real choice to "accept or decline".  Only the conscious
experience of a choice.

> More generally, how do you see the relation between brain and
> conscience?

Brains only exist as something that we consciously perceive.

I'm sure that my 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 the contents of my experience over time.
But this would not mean that the program was conscious, or that my
brain is the source of my consciousness.

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.

>> Uncaused things can't be explained.  They just are.
>> So what causes the complexity and structure of the things that I am
>> conscious of?  Nothing.  That's just the way my experience is.
> ? I can't accept this, because I am interested in the how and why of
> complexity of things and happenings.

So you can look for patterns in what you observe, and interesting ways
to represent what you have observed in the past.  But this is as far
as you can go I think.  For the reasons outlined above.  Your
observations just are what they are.  There's no real explanation for
them...only pseudo-explanations.

>> No explanation can be given for uncaused fundamental events or
>> entities.
> But what are your assumptions about those entities? You theory does
> look like what the guardian G* tells to the "enlightened machine" G:
> you will not prove your consistency. But the machine can prove that IF
> she is consistent, then G* is right about that. So, on one level, I
> understand why you say so, and at another level I explain why you say
> so.

So I lean towards the idea that only our conscious experiences are
"real".  Things obviously exist as contents of conscious experiences.
I don't have any assumptions about them.  They just are what they are,
because the conscious experience that "contains" them is what it is.

I *think* I'm leaning towards saying that a lot of this stuff about
"knowing" is just a type of qualia.  But I'm not sure.  I'm still
thinking that part out.

> "understanding" is a complex notion. Theories are not build to
> understand, but to get a coherent (hopefully correct) picture.

So I think it's reasonable to speak as though quarks and electrons are
real, if that helps the process of developing mathematical/narrative
models that fit our observations.  There are *useful fictions*, and
then there's what actually is.  Quarks and electrons are useful
fictions.  Conscious experience is what actually is.

>> I think this is more obvious if you look at the system as a "block
>> universe", where time is treated as a sort of spatial dimension, and
>> so all states of the system exist simultaneously, like my previous
>> example of the block of granite.  Why does state B follow state A?
>> Why is slice B adjacent to slice A?  Because that's just the way this
>> uncaused system is.
> It is big amorphous blob. Weird theory. I don't see the relation with
> the universe, nor even with consciousness.

So I'm saying that IF physicalism is true, then our universe is just
like that.  If physicalism is true then how else could it be?  And if
this physical universe is what causes our conscious experience, then
our conscious experience is just like that.

>> Why would arithmetical relationships result in conscious
>> experience?
> Because arithmetical relationship described the theology and the
> science of self-observing machine. No machine can know as such its own
> theology, but machine can get the theological science about simpler
> machine, and then lift its logic on themselves (so they can remain
> consistent in the process), and escape locally the incompleteness.
> I am not saying that truth is like that, but that if you say yes to a
> doctor and survive the graft, then it has to be like that.

So I can (sort of) see how a logical machine might symbolically
represent reality in this way.  BUT, this doesn't answer the question
of why there should be a conscious experience associated with the
machine symbolically representing reality this way.

Does it?


To put it slightly differently, the machine might be in a state that
could be 3rd-person interpreted as the machine representing reality
this way.  BUT, this doesn't answer the question of why there should
be a conscious experience associated with the machine being in this

Does it?

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