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>  
> wrote:
>> On 08 Dec 2009, at 09:50, Rex Allen wrote:
>>>>> In such a reality, things just are what they are.  If you find  
>>>>> some
>>>>> explanations "good" and others "bad", that's just the  
>>>>> epiphenominal
>>>>> residue of more fundamental physical processes which are  
>>>>> themselves
>>>>> 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  
the first.

>  It
> 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
> view.

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  
theoretical relations.

>>> 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
> exists.

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  
>>> in
>>> 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
> way.

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  
>> see
>> 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  
universal numbers.
Consciousness also, but is more fundamental than matter: NUMBER =>  
CONSCIOUSNESS => MATTER, is the probable "causal" (in some precise  
number theoretical sense) relation.
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
> part.
> 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
> event).

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  
befuddle us.

> Why do my conscious experiences have the particular contents that they
> do?

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  
>>> has
>>> 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  
>>> he
>>> 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.

Most probably.

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.

Bruno Marchal



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