On Sat, Nov 27, 2010 at 4:06 PM, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 27, 2010 at 12:49 PM, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> "Information" is just a catch-all term for "what is being
>> represented".  But, as you say, the same information can be
>> represented in *many* different ways, and by many different
>> bit-patterns.
>>
>> And, of course, any set of bits can be interpreted as representing any
>> information.  You just need the right "one-time pad" to XOR with the
>> bits, and viola!  The magic is all in the interpretation.  None of it
>> is in the bits.  And interpretation requires an interpreter.
>
> I agree with this completely.  Information alone, such as bits on a hard
> disk are meaningless without a corresponding program that reads them.  Would
> you admit then, that a computer which interprets bits the same way as a
> brain could be conscious?  Isn't this mechanism?  Or is your view more like
> the Buddhist idea that there is no thinker, only thought?

Right, my view is that there is no thinker, only thought.

Once you accept that the conscious experience of a rock exists, what
purpose does the actual rock serve? It's superfluous. If the rock can
"just exist", then the experience of the rock can "just exist" too -
entirely independent of the rock.

Once you accept the existence of conscious experiences, what purpose
does the brain serve? It's superfluous. If the brain can "just exist",
then the experiences supposedly caused by the brain can "just exist"
also.

If not, why not?


>> SO...given that the bits are merely representations, it seems silly to
>> me to say that just because you have the bits, you *also* have the
>> thing they represent.
>>
>> Just because you have the bits that represent my conscious experience,
>> doesn't mean that you have my conscious experience.  Just because you
>> manipulate the bits in a way as to represent "me seeing a pink
>> elephant" doesn't mean that you've actually caused me, or any version
>> of me, to experience seeing a pink elephant.
>>
>> All you've really done is had the experience of tweaking some bits and
>> then had the experience of thinking to yourself:  "hee hee hee, I just
>> caused Rex to see a pink elephant..."
>>
>> Even if you have used some physical system (like a computer) that can
>> be interpreted as executing an algorithm that manipulates bits that
>> can be interpreted as representing me reacting to seeing a pink
>> elephant ("Boy does he look surprised!"), this interpretation all
>> happens within your conscious experience and has nothing to do with my
>> conscious experience.
>
> Isn't this just idealism?  To me, the main problem with idealism is it
> doesn't explain why the thoughts we are about to experience are predictable
> under a framework of physical laws.

But then you have to explain the existence, consistency, and
predictability of this framework of physical laws.

You still have the exact same questions, but now your asking them of
this framework instead of about your conscious experiences.  You just
pushed the questions back a level by introducing a layer of
unexplained entities.  Your explanation needs an explanation.

Also, you’ve introduced a  new question:  How does unconscious matter
governed by unconscious physical laws give rise to conscious
experience?


> If you see a ball go up, you can be
> rather confident in your future experience of seeing it come back down.  It
> seems there is an underlying system, more fundamental than consciousness,
> which drives where it can go.  In one of your earlier e-mails you explained
> your belief as "accidental idealism", can you elaborate on this accidental
> part?

Basically I’m just combining accidentalism and idealism.

Here’s the link to that earlier post that you refer to:

http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list/msg/74a368a670efaf16

Also the Meillassoux paper that I attached to the original post
(“Probability, Necessity, and Infinity”) that spawned this thread is
in this same vein:

http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list/browse_thread/thread/18406fb83d9fbebd

This paper addresses the exact question you raise...how to explain the
consistency and predictability that we observe, but without invoking
the unexplained brute existence of “physical laws”.

Meillassoux’s solution uses Cantorian detotalization to counter
proposed resolutions to Hume’s “problem of induction” that involve
probabilistic logic depending upon a totality of cases.

Meillassoux's main point with this digression into Cantorian set
theory is that just as there can be no end to the process of set
formation and thus no such thing as the totality of all sets, there is
also no absolute totality of all possible cases.

In other words:  There is no "set of all possible worlds".  And thus
"we cannot legitimately construct any set within which the foregoing
probabilistic reasoning could make sense."

Another interesting Meillassoux thread:

http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list/browse_thread/thread/ff5eae94f201a8cf/bd5a16097ea8d8e7


>> So the problem becomes that once you open the door to the "multiple
>> realizability" of representations then we can never know anything
>> about our substrate.
>
> This sounds a lot like Bruno.  I believe there are a near infinite number of
> indiscernible substrates that explain what you are experiencing right now.
> In some I am a biological brain, in others I may be playing a sim-human
> game, perhaps as a futuristic human being or technologically advanced alien,
> or a super-mind of an omega-point civilization which is exploring
> consciousness.  I do not, however, see the fact that I cannot know with
> certainty my ultimate substrate as a problem for mechanism or multiple
> realizability.  Whatever the substrates may be, I think they are in some
> sense equivalent by their informational content.  (Note that when I say the
> information is equivalent I mean to say it is interpreted/processed
> equivalently, the same message fed to two different programs, may have an
> entirely different meaning)

The substrates explain the existence of your conscious experiences,
but then what explains the existence of the substrates?

If the substrates can “just exist”, why can’t your conscious
experiences just exist?


>>> Information can take many physical forms.
>>
>> Information requires interpretation.  The magic isn't in the bits.
>> The magic is in the interpreter.
>>
>
> I agree, but I would also add an interpreter needs something to interpret.
> The information is devoid of meaning without an interpreter, so it is the
> information+interpretation that creates a meaningful message.

Things might be that way.  But this requires an explanation of the
existence of the information and the interpreter.  And then an
explanation of the explanation.  And then an explanation of the
explanation of the explanation.  And so on.

Down the rabbit hole of infinite regress.  Doesn’t seem promising, and
doesn’t seem necessary.

Why not just accept accidental idealism?

Rex

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