Bruno Marchal wrote:
> On 10 Dec 2009, at 03:23, benjayk wrote:
>> For me numbers don't make independent sense of the appearance (!) of  
>> matter,
>> too. Since I cannot conceive of any meaning of the number 2 without
>> reffering to some "real" (in the sense of every day usage) object.
> Then all physical theories are circular, and explains nothing. All  
> theories in physics presuppose arithmetical truth (and even analytical  
> truth, but this is just to simplify the derivations).
Well every theory is circular in that there are always axiom(s) that are
presumed to be true (and meaningful), and in that the theory is just correct
if the reasoning is correct, which can never be proven.

Basically it just comes down to whether you like or accept the reasoning and
the axioms.
Theories and science are just a tool.

You may feel that some "too circular" theories don't explain anything, but
you can only say they don't explain anything to you.
Honestly I think you are a bit dishonest to yourself here, since you already
presume the appearance of matter, unless you can make theories about numbers
without perceiving anything, which I doubt. When you do abstract math you
nevertheless work with matter, that is, word written on paper or on a
computer screen. So either you can indeed make sense of a circular theory or
you have to agree that no theory explains anything (or you manage to
manipulate numbers without having the experience of perceiving matter). Or I
missed your point.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Of course, the human conception of the numbers depends on the human  
> conception of his neighborhood and life, but when searching a TOE we  
> have to agree on the simplest objects (ontology) from which we derive  
> the others (phenomenology).
For me this is not meaningful. What kind of phenomology could be derived
from the "fundamental" numbers? Basically just that they need to be
phenomena and that they are not expressible in terms of something else. But
this for me has little to do with what the phenomena *are*. It's like a
theory saying: "There is something, but don't aks me what it is." 
And I don't see what's especially simple about numbers. For me they are more
complex than many everyday 
objects, because they rely on dualistic notions like classical logic and an
absolute inequality of something (1 is absolutely not 2).

Indeed the theory of natural numbers may be the simplest formal system, but
I am reluctant to see formal systems as "real" objects.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> So numbers don't give rise to arithmetical truth,
> You need addition, multiplication and classical logic.
But this only works because you presume it leads to some kind of truth and
that addition and multiplication are meaningful (you presume classical
So if anything numbers give rise to an expression of truth in terms of your
systematization of it. Not too suprising.
This only works if you like numbers especially much and they help you
understand truth. One could as well deny that addition is meaningful without
context (eg because two rainddrops melt into one: 1+1=1)...

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> but truth gives rise to
>> (expresses as) numbers.
> Which truth. What do you mean by 'truth' here?
I don't know (well I do know in some ways, but expressing them adequatly
would probably be impossible). What is arithmetical truth? According to
tarski you can't tell me, either.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Maybe "what really exists" is not a meaningful thing to ask in first  
>> place,
>> because if something "really" exists, it certainly cannot be  
>> expressed with
>> words.
> Why? This is like asserting there is no TOE, before searching.
I cannot search a theory of everything, because it is a meaningless notion
for me.
Searching it for me feels like searching something that is not there (it
feels *bad*).

Though in another way I think we already have a theory of everything a
theory can explain *ultimately* (which is *not even remotely* close to
everything, since the more you trascend a theory the "bigger" the
possibilities get):
The theory is that all theories are either contradictory or incomplete (we
have to go beyond theories to access truth). I think Gödel already made the
quest for the "complete" theory meaningless.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>  But  
> elementary arithmetics does explain both consciousness, including its  
> non definability
That's funny, because this is little more than empty words for me. If your
theory explains something, it needs an definition of it, or it only explains
that it doesn't explain that which it doesn't defines, except *that*.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> , and matter, including both its computational and non  
> computational aspects.
For me matter is explained by the fact that it is touchable, seeable, and so
forth. Elementary arithmetics cannot do that. So no, it doesn't explain
matter for me.
Maybe it does explain that you cannot reduce experience of matter and maybe
it can explain measurable features about it; I don't know. But it certainly
doesn't explain the (for me) fundamental thing about matter, namely that it
feels how it feels to interact with it.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> If you have a better explanation, I can listen, but why not study the  
> existing explanation?
My "explanation" is that every explanation in words is suboptimal/incomplete
and you need to trascend words in order to get a better explanation. You
could say as well: The best explanation of anything is to experience (and if
you want to, try to understand it or to explain it in terms of another
experience), not to reduce the experience to anything else.
Another try: The only ultimate explanation for everything is that everything
is the ultimate explanation. Or that there is no divorce between explanation
for reality/everything and reality itself - they are the same! After all,
*what could* explain everything, except itself :D? It's acknowledging that
circularity is valid, though not useful in all expressions and contexts.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> So why aks a question that can't be answered with words at all?
> It is up to you to show the question cannot answered at all, and for  
> this you need a theory.
No I don't. You already see in front of you that the answer to any ultimate
question (ultimate *for you*) is not to be found in words (since words only
appear *in* your experience, which I take as meaning that experience is more
ultimate than words) so any theory is superfluous in that matter.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Probably we generally should take words less serious (especially with
>> regards to fundamental questions) and expect no satisfying answers  
>> from
>> them.
> This is giving up research. Of course, you can always do that.
It is very unfortunate that you think you can only research in terms of
Personally I think research always starts in experience and words are for
conveying some part of what you experienced to someone else. But since we
don't know what our words exactly mean to someone else we better don't take
them too serious.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Nevertheless, to invoke a vague theory or philosophy to dismiss  
> automatically the theories bring by others will not help to progress.
I disagree. An openly vague theory at least doesn't claim to be precise,
which I think is better than a vague theory that claims to be precise. And
on fundamental matters, all theories are vague for us, otherwise we would be
able to comprehend everything at once - I have yet to meet a person who
understands everything. COMP is very vague for me, because in order for it
to be clear, you would need to understand what numbers are. But this is
probably impossible, since they are already infinitely complex.

I think your way of thinking (in this paragraph, not neccesarily in general
;-)) is somewhat dangerous, because it leads to pseuodo-precision and
pseudo-control. From wanting to be clearer than you can (or others can
understand), dangerous things like authorative religion and states (in the
form of various repressive systems / ...cracys like democracy) emerge.
I am *not* against making clear theories. I'm against acting like having a
clear theory, when actually the theory makes nothing clear for most people.
And all theories regarding fundamental things make very little clear, which
shows itself in the theory making no realistically testable predictions and
in having no practical application (like string theory).
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