Bruno, I want to thank you for such a complete commentary on my recent
posts - I will need to spend quite a bit of time thinking carefully
about everything you have said before I respond at length.  I'm sure
that I'm quite capable of becoming confused between a theory and its
subject, though I am of course alive to the distinction.  In the
meantime, I wonder if you could respond to a supplementary question in
"grandmother" mode, or at least translate for grandma, into a more
every-day way of speaking, the parts of your commentary that are most
relevant to her interest in this topic.

Let us suppose that, to use the example I have already cited, that
grandma puts her hand in a flame, feels the unbearable agony of
burning, and is unable to prevent herself from withdrawing her hand
with a shriek of pain.  Let us further suppose (though of course this
may well be ambiguous in the current state of neurological theory)
that a complete and sufficient 3-p description of this (partial)
history of events is also possible in terms of nerve firings,
cognitive and motor processing, etc. (the details are not so important
as the belief that such a complete history could be given).  From the
point of view of the reversal of the relation between 1-p and 3-p in
comp, is there some way to help grandma how to understand the
*necessary relation* (i.e. what she would conventionally understand as
"causal relation") between her 1-p *experience* of the pain (as
distinct from our observation of her reaction) and whatever 3-p events
are posterior to this in the history?  For example, what would be
distinctively missing from the causal sequence had she been
unconscious and had merely withdrawn her hand reflexively?

I suppose this amounts to a repetition of the question - how is the
*painful experience* itself causally indispensable to the 3-p events
we associate with it?  I seem to see that in a sense, given the comp
reversal of the relation between physics and consciousness, the 3-p
events do indeed "emerge" out of the pain.  But this still seems to
beg the question: how do the 3-p events depend on the brute fact of
the *painfulness* of the pain, as opposed to the objective *existence*
of an infinity of computations?  I realise that this is a very strange
question, and it may indeed stem from some confusion of theory and
topic as you suggest.  Could you possibly mean - perhaps this is
implied in the term "objective idealism" - that the indescribable
background of the infinity of computations ultimately has no
independently "objective" existence - i.e. that it is fundamentally
the very same kind of existent that ultimately emerges in the
qualitative experience of subjects?  And then that the 3-p histories
are the "quasi-objective" component of this subjectivity (with the
crucial caveat that access to such "objectivity" can't in itself ever
give any subject complete *knowledge* of their situation)?


On 23 February 2010 14:18, Bruno Marchal <> wrote:
> David,
> First of all, as I have already said, you seem to be well aware of the
> hardest part of the hard problem of consciousness. And this gives me the
> opportunity to try to explain what you are missing. Indeed, in this post, I
> will try to explain how comp does solve completely the conceptual hard
> problem of consciousness. (With the usual price that physics  becomes a
> branch of machine's theology).
> On 22 Feb 2010, at 15:00, David Nyman wrote:
>> On 22 February 2010 07:37, Bruno Marchal <> wrote:
>>> What do you mean by "implicit" here? What is implicit is that the
>>> subjectivity (1-p), to make sense, has to be referentially correct
>>> relatively to the most probable histories/consistent extensions.
>> What I mean by implicit is "already accounted for", at least according
>> to the assumptions of the closed 3-p hypothesis, which of course is
>> what I'm questioning.
>>> Then the incommunicable and private aspect of those knowledge and qualia
>>> is
>>> provided by the theory of knowledge and the quale logic, provided by the
>>> respective intensional variant of G and G*. The difference between G and
>>> G*
>>> (provable and true) is reflected in those intensional variant.
>> Yes, but G and G*, and indeed all formally expressible logics, are
>> themselves closed 3-p (i.e. objective) notions - i.e. they would exist
>> and possess the same explanatory power in the absence of any
>> accompanying *qualitative* component.
> I am not sure what you mean exactly by closed 3-p or even objective. But it
> is OK (I see it is a minor question of vocabulary).
> G and G* are formal modal logics, and it happens that they describe
> completely (at some level) the self-referential discourse of ideally
> self-referentially correct machines.
> We have no interest in those formal theories per se, if it were not for
> their semantics, including their interpretations in arithmetic, and their
> intensional variants.
> I come back on this below.
>>  This is just another way of
>> gesturing towards the Really Hard Problem - that the qualitative
>> component, per se, is seemingly redundant to the account if we assume
>> we already have a closed, or sufficient, non-qualitative explanation.
>> Consequently these logics AFAICS lead to the same paradoxical
>> conclusions as the closed 3-p physical hypothesis - i.e. that the
>> references to qualitative experiences - even those references we
>> ourselves produce - would occur even in the absence of any such
>> experiences.  This would leave us in the position of doubting the
>> basis even of our own statements that we are conscious!
> And this would be very paradoxical indeed. But you are wrong in saying that
> those logics lead to those paradoxes. Probably because you are wrong in
> saying that those logics are "closed".  Those logic are tools or systems
> talking about *something*, provably in some correct sense. More below. I
> prefer to read first your whole post, so that I can avoid confusing
> repetitions.
>> I want to seriously discuss the proposition that certain behaviours
>> are actually contingent on qualitative experience, as distinguished
>> from any accompanying 3-p phenomena.  That is, for example, that my
>> withdrawing my hand from the fire because it hurts indispensably
>> requires the qualitative *experience* of pain to mediate between 1-p
>> and 3-p narratives.  This would of course mean in turn that the
>> explanatory arc from stimulus, through cognitive processing, to
>> response would be, without the qualitative component, in some way
>> demonstrably incomplete as an explanation.
> Indeed. May be it would help to remember that with comp, we already know
> that the physical world is a 1-p construct; It is not 3-p (as amazing as
> this could seem for a materialist). The only 3-p is given by
> arithmetic/logic/computer science.
>>  ISTM that this would make
>> it impossible to ignore the implication that the context in which we
>> conceive 3-p processes to be situated (whether we are talking in terms
>> of their physical or mathematical-logical expression) would itself be
>> capable of taking on "personal" characteristics in apparent
>> interaction with such processes.
>> Something related to this, ISTM, is already implied in the background
>> to 1-p indeterminacy, observer moments, the "solipsism of the One"
>> etc, because all these notions implicitly contain the idea of some
>> general context capable of embodying and individuating "personal"
>> qualitative experience - given relevant 3-p-describable structure and
>> function.  But in order for that personhood not to be vacuous - i.e.
>> redundant to the supposedly primary 3-p narrative - such personal
>> qualitative states must be conceived as having consequences, otherwise
>> inexplicable, in the 3-p domain, and not merely vice-versa.  How to
>> incorporate such consequences in the overall account is indeed a
>> puzzle.
> A puzzle? No more ... (see below).
>>>> Not only can't we prove it, but we couldn't, from a 3-p pov, even
>>>> predict or in any way characterise such 1-p notions, if we didn't know
>>>> from a 1-p perspective that they exist (or seem to know that they seem
>>>> to exist).
>>> This is not true I think. Already with the uda duplication experience,
>>> you
>>> can see predict the difference, for example, the apparition of first
>>> person
>>> indeterminacy despite the determinacy in the 3d description. This is
>>> captured by the difference between (Bp and p) and Bp, and that difference
>>> is
>>> a consequence of incompleteness, when self-observing occurs.
>> I don't deny what you're saying per se, but I'm commenting on this
>> because it brings out, I hope, the distinction between purely formal
>> descriptions of 1-p notions, and actual first-personal acquaintance
>> with qualitative experience.
> I think you are confusing a theory or a machine discourse WITH the subject
> matter of the theory, or the object of discourse of the machine. In that
> sense formal theory (sufficiently rich to talk on numbers) are already NEVER
> closed in your sense. Arithmetical TRUTH, which plays a key role here is NOT
> a formal object. Indeed it is a provably non formalizable object.
>>  It's the latter that I'm claiming is
>> non-computable from any formal premise
> You are entirely right here. Both "I", and the Löbian machine agree with
> you.
>> (which, as I think we'd both
>> agree, is the essence of the HP).
> OK. In which case you will see how that problem is solved.
>> It's one thing to say that
>> "self-observing occurs", and quite another to actually experience
>> self-observing.  But beyond this, ISTM that we must also believe that
>> the *experience* of self-observing entails consequences that the mere
>> *description* of "self-observing" would not, to avoid the paradoxes
>> contingent on the idea that qualitative experiences are somehow
>> redundant or merely "epiphenomenal".
> OK.
>>>> One of the
>>>> places it leads (which ISTM some are anxious not to acknowledge)) is
>>>> the kind of brute paradox I've referred to.  So what I'm asking you is
>>>> how is this different from a comp perspective?  Can our 3-p references
>>>> to 1-p phenomena escape paradox in the comp analysis?
>>> Yes, because we do accept the truth of elementary arithmetic. We can
>>> study
>>> the theology of simple (and thus *intuitively* correct) Löbian machine.
>>> We
>>> *know* in that setting that the machine will be aware of an explanation
>>> gap,
>>> etc.
>>> Again, the price is that we have to recover physics without introducing a
>>> 3-p physical world.
>> I see that it is already important that comp predicts the *existence*
>> of an explanatory gap.
> It is a part of the solution. But not the entire solution indeed.
>>  But what does it say about how that gap is to
>> be bridged:
> Le me anticipate. It says that the gap cannot be bridged in any experiential
> way. No more than you can bridge the gap between any axiomatic theory on
> numbers, and the informal arithmetical truth.
>> i.e. about the relevance of the *experience* - as distinct
>> from the bare description - of the 1-p notions, to the unfolding of
>> the integrated 1-p + 3-p narrative?
> Actually the *experiences* are so much relevant that without them, the
> physical world would not even exist. Of course I am NOT talking of the human
> experiences, but really on all the experiences of all Löbian machines.
>>>> Do you
>>>> believe that such a "closed" explanation is fundamentally unable to
>>>> account seriously for consciousness for the reasons I've cited?  Is
>>>> there any way to "re-open" it outside of comp?
>>> Not in a way which is not already provided by comp. But unless you weaken
>>> comp so much as becoming "God", weakening comp does not provide different
>>> clue for solving the consciousness/reality problem.
>>> You may try, but 1500 years of materialism seems to lead only to person
>>> eliminativism. Where comp and its weakening reintroduce automatically a
>>> knower, a feeler, a better, etc.
>> Can you say anything about the way in which the knower/feeler/better's
>> actual *experiences* (as distinct from their bare description) make a
>> difference to the unfolding of histories in the comp hypothesis?
> Yes. The histories emerge from those experiences, and none are formal
> object. They are not generated by the UD, only filtered by persons. But like
> 'meaning' we can approximate them by infinite formal structures. Infinite
> structures may look locally syntactical, but they are not. Infinity is
> before all things a quale itself. No finite formal things can describe them.
> But we can have some informal intuition.
>> Can
>> it be shown that qualitative experience is per se indispensable to
>> giving an adequate account of persons and their histories, thus
>> avoiding the paradoxes which result from the assumption of the
>> independent sufficiency of the purely formal descriptions?
> Yes. Those experiences are indispensable already in the same sense that the
> number 4564310089 is indispensable in arithmetic. It is there. You cannot
> say that number theory make sense without that number. Likewise, comp
> explains why the experience are there, and why we cannot eliminate them. But
> comp provides also a major role to those experiences. Not only they provide
> the logic of physics (and the whole physical realities after that), but they
> define what persons are, mainly the owner of those experiences. It can give
> a role of consciousness: relative self-speeding up of a universal machine
> relatively to another probable universal machine. Comp explains why the
> consciousness (quale) is needed in that process. See below.
>>> In a sense, this is correct. Materialist seems to be able to use the same
>>> self-reference logic than the one used by the computationalist. But then,
>>> the point is that we are confronted to the measure problem, and the
>>> problem
>>> of the relation between 1-p and 3-p is transformed into a reduction of
>>> the
>>> physical 3-p from and only from the self-reference logic and the
>>> restriction
>>> of 3-p possibilities to the accessible state by the UD. And this works
>>> indeed. In that sense, at the propositional level, it makes sense to say
>>> that the mind-body problem is solved by comp. It remains to see how far
>>> this
>>> works. Is the comp first order logic of the hypostases compatible with
>>> the
>>> empirically observable facts.
>>> Keep in mind that, by the self-reference logic (or even just
>>> self-multiplication), we *already* know why a machine comes to
>>> differentiate
>>> quanta and qualia, and the math describes this precisely. (By the
>>> G*\G-equivalence of Bp with Bp & p, etc). If those comp quanta are the
>>> "real" quanta remains to be assessed, and if it is case, as it seems at
>>> the
>>> propositional level (already mathematically studied) this would support
>>> this
>>> theory of qualia.
>> Again, the formal differentiation of quanta and qualia, and the math
>> descriptions thereof, must be distinguished from any possible
>> consequential role of qualitative experience per se.
> I explain below, but the qualitative experiences have a huge impact on
> reality, not on the 3-p reality (arithmetic) but on the 1-p (hopefully
> plural) realities (intelligible and sensible): they make them appear
> relatively to the persons, and they make them stable (right relative measure
> (to be sure this remains to be verified)).
>>  If we are to
>> take qualia seriously as part of our explanations, they must have a
>> role distinct from their mere description.
> Absolutely so.
>>  If they do not, we're
>> faced with a situation in which the same histories are describable in
>> terms of "qualia" whether actual qualitative states are present or
>> not.
> Yes, but this cannot happen.
>>  AFAICS this is the unavoidable crux of the HP, and I don't at
>> this juncture see that it is addressed by comp or indeed any other
>> approach I've encountered (please forgive me if this is just my
>> missing the point as usual).
> I forgive you. It seems to me that we can understand the comp solution with
> just UDA, but it is far more easy with AUDA, where the complexity is reduced
> to the understanding of some "known" results in mathematical logic. See
> below.
>> Somehow we need to be able to entertain
>> a "non-formal" component in the histories to accommodate this issue,
>> or else conclude that we don't recognise any distinction of role
>> between formal description and actuality.
> Very well said.
> We need indeed to entertain such a non formal component, and may be even
> many of them.
> So here is the solution (in AUDA, I may try later to explain this with just
> UDA, but it is more confusing, given the highly counter-intuitive frame).
> Actually, there are many non formal components. Let us consider the first
> three (primary) 'hypostases" or 'machine-points-of view':
> p    (meaning p is true: this will appear to be NON FORMAL)
> Bp  (meaning "I can prove p", asserted by the machine: this will appear to
> be FORMAL)
> Bp & p (Meaning "I can prove p, and it is the case that p": this will appear
> to be NON FORMAL).
> It may looks like a paradox. The logic of (Bp & p) is, at the propositional
> level, entirely captured by the formal system S4Grz. Yet, what is captured,
> is not a formal object, and it cannot be made formal. It describes the
> necessary formal logic of knowledge, but knowledge itself is NOT a formal,
> nor formalizable, notion. Yoou can define Bp in the lngauge of the machine,
> but you cannot even just define Bp & p in the language of the machine (this
> would lead to "0 = 1", by using the diagonalization lemma of Gödel).
> It is hard, I think, to be clearer than that. S4Grz is an incredible logic
> capturing the formal structure of a concept which is NOT formalizable at
> all, nor even nameable, except by a reference to truth, which is itself not
> formalizable.
> Now, we can restrict 'p' on the sigma_1 true sentences (which correspond to
> the accessible state of the machine), and the logic of observability will be
> captured by the following logic and their interplay:
> Bp & p (again)
> Bp & Dt  (the logic of the measure 1 on the consistent extension: it can be
> made formal, and corresponds roughly to Ploitinus intelligible matter).
> Bp & Dt & p (the logic of sensible matter, physical sensation: it cannot
> been made formal).
> How can we understand those non formal things? Because we are ourselves,
> from our first person point of view, non formal things. We are not our body,
> nor our Gödel number, still less our indentity cart number, and trough
> introspection, perhaps on the Ramana Maharsi koan "Who am I", we can have
> some glimpse of how much "we" are really different from any possible
> description.
> Of course G* proves that all the hypostases are equivalent in the sense that
> they access (trivially for the CORRECT machine) the same set of arithmetical
> true propositions, but, the machine CANNOT know that, cannot believe that,
> cannot feel that, and this G* can also prove. That is why those non formal
> components, which are the on-bject of study of the hypostases in which "& p"
> appears, plays a so big role in the definition of both sensible person and
> sensible realities.
> So what I think you may be missing, is that a formal theory (or a machine)
> can refer correctly (without knowing that!) to informal notions, and those
> informal notions can and does play a role in the very apparition of the
> coupling consciousness/realities.
> This appears, but less clearly, already in UDA. The non formal components is
> bring up at the start, in both Church thesis, which refers to arithmetical
> truth, and in the "you" who accepts, or not, the proposition of the doctor.
> But UDA does not explain consciousness. It explains only that linking the
> non formal notion of consciousness to a formal object (the computations)
> entails the reversal physics/machine-theology/psychology. AUDA, eliminates
> somehow the indexical reference to "you", and replace it by a universal
> (Löbian) machine. But then the incompleteness phenomena, shows that the
> logic of consciousness (or first person) will be different of the logic of
> what you link the consciousness too. This appears in UDA at step 7, where
> you see that the physical machine (brain) is eventually provided by a
> measure on 1-person notions, which cannot be formalizable at all, and bear
> on infinities of computations.
> It remains only one mystery: the informal notion of number theoretical
> truth. But this again, accepting the truth (non formal) of elementary
> arithmetical proposition, provides an explanation why, we will never been
> able to solve that mystery. So comp solves the consciousness reality problem
> as far as it is possible to solve it.
> This can also be tackled formally, and it can be shown that the whole of
> physics (assuming comp) is eventually PI_2 complete IN arithmetical truth
> (that is, with Arithmetical truth as oracle). This is far beyond any
> effective complete theory. Even "God" (arithmetical truth) cannot answer all
> physical questions!
> Now, given that most Löban machine are as clever as you and me, you may
> still believe that there is a paradox. After all, when studying the theology
> of a correct machine, we know that Bp and Bp & p are equivalent. But the key
> point is that no machine can know this about herself, so its qualia will
> obey a different logic from its quanta. We just don't know our own truth
> notion, we cannot even name it. That is why we can only lift the theology of
> the correct machine on ourselves through an act of faith (like betting on a
> substitution level). But it remains a theology, which is of course not
> "close" syntactically. It points on three informal things God (truth), the
> universal soul (Bp & p) and the sensible matter (Bp & Dt & p). from this
> emerge the fabric of reality, in a sufficiently precise way as to be tested.
> I think you are confusing simply a theory and what a theory is about. It is
> very rare that a theory captures the thing it talks about. It capture tiny
> aspects of it. The comp theory is conceptually complete by referring to
> those (mathematically necessarily INFORMAL) notions, in both UDA and AUDA.
> I hope this help. I think your confusion is simple, but we use the
> distinction theory/model in a very complex setting, where simple confusion
> can easily be obscured by the complexity of the subject. I tend to believe
> that almost all errors in philosophy or theology comes either from a
> confusion between the hypostases, or from between theories and their
> intended semantics.
> Did this helped?
> Bruno
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