On 09 Dec 2009, at 20:51, Rex Allen wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 2:28 PM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be>
>> On 08 Dec 2009, at 09:50, Rex Allen wrote:
>>>>> In such a reality, things just are what they are. If you find
>>>>> explanations "good" and others "bad", that's just the
>>>>> residue of more fundamental physical processes which are
>>>>> unconcerned with such things.
>>>> Having predictive theories was no doubt selected by evolution - as
>>>> well as a
>>>> psychological to see meaning in things.
>>> Evolution isn't a fundamental law, right? There is no "evolution
>>> field" or particle. Evolution doesn't "select" anything. Evolution
>>> has no causal power.
>> Of course it has!
>> It is like with the numbers or the combinators, once the initial rule
>> of the game is above the universal number/machine treshold, you get a
>> creative bomb. This generates new and new things, none having their
>> behavior ever completely unifiable in any theory.
> In the physicalist view, evolution is an "emergent" law, right?
I will say yes, for the sake of the argument. But I tend to consider
evolution as a mathematical phenomenon, described in part by
"genetical algorithmic", and I would distinguish evolution-the math,
and its particular manifestation relatively to us (our computational
histories/history). The second is only a more instantiated version of
> emerges out of the local interactions of fundamental entities, and
> none of these local interactions have anything to do with "evolution".
OK, but remember that I am arguing that the "fundamental entities" of
physics are not fundamental at all. They are themselves complex object
which have evolved, although in this case the evolution is not at all
a physical process, but a purely arithmetical one.
This is OK. if you want to keep a physicalist stance, just consider
that with the computationalist hypothesis, the elementary particles
are just numbers, and their interaction are given by addition and
multiplication. (You can take the combinators S and K, and the
operations Kxy = y; Sxyz = xz(yz), if you don't like numbers, ...).
> But evolution doesn't ADD anything to those local interactions...it
> can be completely reduced to them.
You can say so. But again, with such phrasing, the emergence of the
physical world can be said to have also not add anything too.
> We "see" evolution...but it only
> exists in our minds, as a tool for our understanding. It's not
> something that exists "in the world". Again, taking the physicalist
We see "space, time, and energy", but it only exists in our minds ...
Actually, we don't see those things. Physicists share only number
relations, and we lived uncommunicable qualia.
> So, to rely on Davies for articulation purposes again:
> "Darwinism provides a novel form of causation inasmuch as the causal
> chain runs counter to the normal descriptive sequence.
> Chronologically, what happens is that first a mutation is caused by a
> local physical interaction, e.g. the impact of a cosmic ray at a
> specific location with an atom in a DNA molecule. Later, possibly many
> years later, the environment ‘selects’ the mutant by permitting the
> organism to reproduce more efficiently. In terms of physics, selection
> involves vast numbers of local forces acting over long periods of
> time, the net result of which is to bring about a long-term change in
> the genome of the organism’s lineage. It is the original atomic event
> in combination with the subsequent complicated events that together
> give a full causative account of the evolutionary story. Yet
> biologists would be hard-pressed to tell this story in those local
> physical terms. Instead, natural selection is described as having
> causal powers, even though it is causatively neutral – a sieve."
OK, but, assuming comp, if UDA is correct, you can extend this remark
to the hole physical reality. To say that a proton attracts an
electron is a metaphor to describe interference between infinities of
computations, themselves being metaphor for describing purely number
>>> Again, assuming reductive physicalism, the initial state of the
>>> universe and the fundamental laws of physics (which may or may not
>>> have some sort of random aspect) completely determines what
>>> animals we
>>> observe in the present. Evolution is just a useful fictional
>>> narrative that helps us think about what we observe. A
>>> description of
>>> what we observe, not an explanation for it.
>> And why not add, in that case, ... like time, space, universe, laws
>> are also convenient fiction for describing what we observe?
> So I'm certainly fine with taking a Kantian view of time and space,
> and even the appearance of causality, as being aspects of our
> experience of the world...and not things that exist outside of our
> experience of them.
> And since we use our perceptions to build our mental image of the
> universe, then this mental image also has nothing to do with what
I understand what you say, but this is a form of reductionism that I
prefer to avoid, because people could conclude then that all the
emerging things does not exist, except the numbers. But this, even
staying in pure arithmetic, will be false. For example consciousness
will exist in the sense that it exists some numbers having ----some
peculiar self-referential complex property ----. Prime numbers,
universal numbers, and their "particles" will exist in a sense
describable by number existence. And consciousness, feeling, qualia,
will similarly related to (infinite) number properties, not entirely
accessible by those "conscious number", yet available to other
numbers. No machine can known its own theology, but most machine can
known the theology of a smaller (than itself) machine.
>> Where could the explanation begin?
> I'd say there is no explanation. It just is what it is. As Brent
> said...it's descriptions all the way down.
But with comp, by UDA, we already know that the physical world admits
description ad infinitum, normally.
>>> Which is not that radical a claim, I think. Computationalism even
>>> it's physical (non-Bruno) version implies the same thing. We
>>> could be
>>> in a simulation or some sort of virtual reality, and it would be
>>> impossible to detect.
>> If computationalism is true its physicalist version entails 0 = 1. I
>> guess by "non-Bruno" you mean false.
> I wasn't saying that the physicalist version is preferable to your
> version. I do not hold the physicalist position myself. But since it
> seems to be the predominant view, I tend to use it as my reference
> point, as a base-line.
But then you will be lead to a contradiction. I may be wrong, because
systematic error are still possible. But by default, until someone
find what is wrong in UDA, physicalism is impossible, once we assume
the comp hyp and taken it seriously.
It is epistemologically contradictory. You can postulate matter, but
you can't link it to consciousness in any way. With comp, primitive or
fundamental matter is as ridiculous than accepting evolution *and* the
idea that God has made the world in six days. From a strictly logical
point of view, you can do that, but it violated OCCAM. And it is even
more weird, given that no one has ever defined primitive matter, nor
used it in physics, except as a metaphysical background for not being
pressed to address the mind body problem. That is good methodology,
but no more.
> But, while physicalist computationalism seems to have some strange
> implications (movie graph argument/Maudlin/Dust Theory/etc.), it COULD
> be the case, right? Matter could be required as a substrate for
> consciousness generating computations. Maybe reality just is that
OK. But only if we are not machine.
> But I think you and Kant are right...there's no way to know. Even
> in theory.
I disagree on this. We cannot know if comp is true, but we can know if
comp is false. It is enough to compare the physics which has to be
derived from comp, and the "observed physics".
>> have you some doubt about the validity of the UDA? Let me know, to
>> what needs to be still clarified.
> My only doubt about UDA is that it seems to make the same assumption
> as physicalism...that consciousness can't be fundamental. That
> something else must underlie it, and "cause" it.
Not really. We suppose only that "here and now" my consciousness is
invariant for this or that transformation of my brain.
Then consciousness will be something fundamental in the sense that it
is related to "eternal" true relation between many numbers.
> But if numbers can "just exist", and matter can "just exist", then why
> can't conscious experiences "just exist"?
Numbers can just exist, and this is the last unsolvable mystery. Yet
we can explain (assuming comp) why this mystery is absolutely
unsolvable. It is not possible to explain numbers without assuming
numbers (or combinators, etc.)
Matter cannot exists primitively, but can exist as appearance for some
numbers, and those appearance obeys laws, reducible to the math of
Consciousness also, but is more fundamental than matter: NUMBER =>
CONSCIOUSNESS => MATTER, is the probable "causal" (in some precise
number theoretical sense) relation.
(probably even NUMBER => CONSCIOUSNESS => MATTER => HUMAN
CONSCIOUSNESS => HUMAN NUMBERS). Here the last two steps would explain
why we don't accept easily (intuitively) the origin).
> We can see matter as able to represent the contents of our conscious
> experience...e.g., "these electrons represent my neural structure".
Who has ever seen matter?
Our brain interpret information, and build useful metaphorical links.
> We can see numbers as representing the same types of things...in fact
> we use them an abstraction layer from the electrons.
> But since practically anything can represent nearly anything else,
> it's ultimately all in the mind of the beholder.
The representation must account for the observation. If not you can
slip into solipsism.
> So to me
> consciousness has as much of a claim to being "fundamental" as numbers
> or matter.
Matter is definitely not fundamental. Comp leads to a Plotinus, or
Aristotelian conception of matter. Matter appears to be the border of
the ignorance of the universal machines. Plotinus would say that
matter is where God loses his power. For Plotinus, matter is the last
thing created by God, or emanating from the ONE, and more by
incompetence than by will.
> The only catch being, "how can something as complex as a conscious
> experience be irreducibly fundamental?"
> But I think this is confusing two things: conscious experience vs. the
> contents of conscious experience.
> The fact of my conscious experience itself seems quite simple and
> irreducible. However, what I am conscious of (the content of my
> experiences) can seem quite complex.
You are right. It is the difference between the consciousness of an
abstract virgin universal number, and its many relative manifestations
through possible (consistent) computational histories. There is an
abstract, yet tangible form of universal consciousness (of the
universal person, described by the 8 hypostases), and then it can
differentiate into all our day to day experiences.
> As an analogy, it seems reasonable to me to say: Content is to
> consciousness as an electron is to the universe.
> In a physicalist ontology, an electron is something that exists within
> the universe. An electron can't be "liberated" or taken outside of the
> universe, or considered independently of the universe of which it is a
> Similarly the things that I am conscious of exist only within the
> context of my conscious experience.
> Which is not to say that only my conscious experience exists, but
> rather that only conscious experiences exist. If physicalists can have
> multiple universes, why not multiple consciousnesses?
> Why do our conscious experiences exist? Well, why would a physicalist
> say that the universe exists? It just does. There's no explanation
> for that (at least none that doesn't depend on some other unexplained
The only unexplained event are the existence of 0, s(0), s(s(0), etc.
+ the laws of addition and multiplication.
From this (and Church thesis) the comp theories explains how, from
inside, matter and consciousness appear, including why this tend to
> Why do my conscious experiences have the particular contents that they
Again, here we can explain why we cannot explain this. Like we can
explain that no one can explain why it has been reconstituted in
Washington and not in Moscow (or vice-versa). This is what we can call
geography/history, by opposition to physics which studies laws (of the
observable by universal machine). Laws are universal. In my youth I
thought that physics was a sort of geography. Now I know that comp
preserve a big body of physical laws. The multiverse is the same for
all observers, (machine and non machine, really, except those 'quite
close to the unique "one")
> Again, I'd ask the same question for any other ontological
> theory. Why did the universe have the particular initial conditions
> and governing laws that it did, which lead to our present experiences?
> It just did. There's no explanation for that (again, at least none
> that doesn't depend on some other unexplained event).
> But, again, there seems to be no way to know for certain what *really*
> exists, a la Kant.
If you believe that the primality of 17 does not depend on you, then
you can explain why matter and consciousness is an unavoidable
consequence of + and *.
The explanation is so precise that the theory of matter can be
confronted with what we usually call "matter" (observation).
The whole of physics is made purely mathematical. It remains the
geographical propositions, which are contingent.
If we can show that the mass of the electron is not derivable from
arithmetic, then it means that the mass of the electron is contingent,
and it means that there exists electron with a different mass. Of
course we are far being able to show this.
>>> "Kant's teaching produces a fundamental change in every mind that
>>> grasped it. This change is so great that it may be regarded as an
>>> intellectual rebirth. It is capable of really removing the inborn
>>> realism which arises from the original disposition of the
>>> intellect. …
>>> the man who has not mastered the Kantian philosophy, whatever else
>>> may have studied, is, so to speak, in a state of innocence; in other
>>> words, he has remained in the grasp of that natural and childlike
>>> realism in which we are all born, and which qualifies one for every
>>> possible thing except philosophy." -- Arthur Schopenhauer
>> I agree. I am not personally sure, and I cannot really decide the
>> degree of Kant's objective idealism given that Kant is hard to read,
>> and contradict himself apparently, or it is just the the bad
>> translations I found?
> Yeah, I went straight to the commentaries on Kant, as opposed to
> trying to parse out the notoriously difficult original material.
> Kant may not have gotten everything right, but I think he is correct
> on the core issue of perception vs. reality and what can be known.
Rex, I think you are overlooking the fact that once we assume comp,
physics become *necessarily* a branch of the logic of numbers' (or any
finite entities you like) self-reference. The advantage of comp is
that it explains simultaneously the quanta and the qualia, and it
respects the person and its, most probably very fundamental,
I diagnostic you have still some some trouble grasping completely the
7th and 8th step of UDA, to be frank. It is OK, take it easy.
Few people grasps this quickly, and those who grasped it react
like ... most people react with salvia divinorum. Most want to forget
the lesson. May be the reason is that, like Descartes and Rössler
understood well, it makes consciousness so fundamental that you
understand that there is no way out of consciousness. Comp immortality
is not wishful thinking, it may be terrifying also. But science is not
driven by wishes, even if conscience can and should be.
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