On 14 Aug 2009, at 09:11, Rex Allen wrote:

> 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.

"I exist" could be, perhaps, tautological. But "Reality"? I don't  
think so. Certainly not from inside.

> 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.

It is hard for me to understand.
First in the comp theory, consciousness is not caused by a rule- 
following system.
The most we can say is that "my" consciousness is preserved through a  
local substitution of my body.
This can be done with remaining agnostic on what is and where  
consciousness comes from.
The conclusion will be that consciousness, or anything apprehended by  
a person in some stable way has to be realted to an infinity of  
relations between numbers. And most are not "caused" by a rule- 
following system.

> 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.

Well, I can accept this for the true relations between numbers, and  
that is a motivation for a comp-like theory. But neither consciousness  
nor matter are tautological there. Important, and certainly  
fundamental in some sense: yes. But secondary and emerging from the  

>> 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.

I think, with all my respect, that you missed the movie-graph  
argument. Consciousness is not caused or produced by anything which  
could be described by a system or a theory. Consciousness is more a  
view from inside. It is a view of the border between the mechanical  
and the non mechanical, and it is not something caused by something.  
Locally it is more something causing something.

>  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.

I have the same opinion on the notion of causality and of "free-will".  
Those are higher-order logical/semantical construction.

>> More generally, how do you see the relation between brain and
>> conscience?
> Brains only exist as something that we consciously perceive.

If by "we" you mean the universal machine, and really all of them,  
then I can make sense from your sentence.
If by "we" you mean the animal of the planet earth, I doubt it. In our  
plausibly shared long history, the moebas invented the cable even  
before going out of the sea.
Remember that with comp a brain is not a physical object. It is local  
summary of infinities of computational (in the math sense) relations  
between all the numbers.

> 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.

We are in complete agreement here. But then you can say yes to the  
doctor, and follows the consequence of the hypothesis that your  
personal consciousness don't see any change.

You see Rex, I have never been happy with the idea of those who say  
that matter or physics, is fundamental-basic, and to say that  
consciousness is fundamental-basic seems to me the same sort of "don't  
ask principle".

> 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.

Assuming comp there is a big difference, which is that when you say  
"yes" to the doctor, you don't say yes because he put the right map in  
your skull, you say yes because it put the right relevant relative  
number. The artificial brain will just simulate your biological brain,  
but it will, supposing the doctor has choose the right level, emulate  
your first person (relatively to your infinity of most probable  
(normal) histories.

>>> 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.

Not just that. I look for understanding. I criticize enough the  
scientists who confuse description and prediction with explanation.

> But this is as far
> as you can go I think.

Hmm... read UDA with attention. I think you confuse this (new?) type  
of explanation and proof with the usual Aristotelian reductions.

> For the reasons outlined above.  Your
> observations just are what they are.  There's no real explanation for
> them...only pseudo-explanations.

I am not sure you have grasped what I try to explain.

>>> 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 deeply disagree here. Even to understand a word like "content" I  
have to believe in some more basic entities which are not conscious.

> 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.
> Tautology.
> 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.

Knowing, observing, feeling, conceiving, are type of qualia. But they  
are related, and eventually what I say, is that any rational and  
conscious agent saying yes to a digital doctor can understand why and  
how those qualia are related through numbers relation, most of them of  
the type universal numbers reflecting universal numbers.

>> "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 follow you on the fact that my conscious experience here and now  
actually is. But I am already force, to give a personal sense to the  
act of writing this mail, to believe in your conscious experience.  
Now, I have reason for not taking *you* a mere useful fiction. Once I  
bet on another conscience, I get the notion of person, and on finding  
points of agreement.
Most people accept the arithmetical elementary truth, and I enjoy the  
fact that comp, that is the belief we are machine, entails a whole  
"theology" which is capable to explain where the useful fictions like  
quarks come from, behave in such or such ways, and participate in that  
infinite universal numbers reflective dreams, all this without  
eliminating persons and their will, and providing a fundamental role  
and a purpose to consciousness.

>>> 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.

None sentences makes sense for me here.
Even if physicalism is true, the material world could still have a  
highly structured shape.
And if physicalism is true, then comp is false, and I have no more any  
clues about what to say, in third person ways, about consciousness. I  
would say it does not exist, because I don't see how to weaken comp as  
to make it reappears without making consciousness a force, and then it  
would need its particle. And they should escape comp. Why not? But I  
have no evidence, and again, consciousness would be even less  
fundamental. But it is the correct, by the UDA incompatibility  
theorem, way to envisage consciousness if we want to maintain  
physicalism. And Penrose is the only one I know following that kind of  
path, except that his forces has to violate QM. This should be related  
to the fact that his Gödelian reasoning, leading to "the same result",  
was incorrect (less so in its second book than the first).

>>> 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?

It does not. That is why it is the assumption of the theory. The  
working hypothesis. The light in the dark.
And then, the beauty of it, is that, ONCE the assumption is done, we  
can understand fully and rationally why we cannot understand how a  
symbolic self-representing relation individuate into an  
incommunicable, non doubtable, lived qualia.
The tools for that understanding being computer science and  
mathematical logic.
The quale itself remains out of the explanation, like truth. It  
concerns of form of possible consciousness:  consciousness, of any  
individual, be it the consciousness of the virgin universal machine  
("cosmic consciousness", or "arithmetical consciousness") to the  
consciousness of any particular universal machine (bacteria?  
Protozoa,? Plant?, Planaria? cats? humans?, ...). None are reducible  
to any finite explanation, and all are distributed densely on the  
border between what is computable, and what is not. To be mechanical  
and universal makes you live on the border.

> 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
> state.
> Does it?

It does not. But see above. It provides the "meta" explanation of why  
it does not. Why, if we are machine, there must be a quale (an  
incommunicable but "feelable" measure) related to some modal  
apprehension of ourself relatively to other universal number. As I am  
slowly explaining in the "seven step series" thread.


PS I would be pleased if someone can suggest a better wording for  


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