On Sun, Nov 28, 2010 at 10:15 PM, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

Do you believe as you type these responses into your computer you are
helping bring new thoughts into existence?  If I understood the other
threads you cited on accidentalism, it seems as though you do not believe
anything is caused.  Wouldn't that lead to the conclusion that responding to
these threads is pointless?

> 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.

Believing thought alone exists doesn't give any explanation for why I see a
relatively ordered screen with text and icons I understand, compared to
something like this:

There are far more possible thoughts that consist of a visual field that
looks random, do you find it surprising you happen to be a thought which is
so compressible?

Accepting that rocks exist allows the understanding that some of these rocks
have the right conditions for live to develop on them, and evolve brains to
use to understand the worlds they appear on.  The thoughts of those life
forms is not likely to look like random snow, since that would not be useful
for their survival.  If I start with thought as primitive, and try to
explain that thought under accidental idealism I can go no further.  While
it explains the existence of thought (by definition) it seems like an
intellectual dead end.

> 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?

Rather than say the brain causes conscious experience to exist, I think it
is more accurate to say the brain is conscious, or the brain experiences.
Stated this way, it isn't superfluous.

> >> 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.

I see no reason we should abandon this goal, there is no evidence that the
progress of human understanding has reached an impasse.

> 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.
Mathematical or arithmetical realism seems like a good place to stop.  It is
easy to accept that mathematical truths simply are.  If it can be
demonstrated that this leads to consciousness through some level of
indirection then this may also explain existence, consistency and
predictability, etc.

> Also, you’ve introduced a  new question:  How does unconscious matter
> governed by unconscious physical laws give rise to conscious
> experience?
How does unconscious matter become conscious?  I think it is a similar
question with a similar answer to "How does unliving matter become alive?"
The answer is through the right organization.  I think a conscious
organization of matter is a process that is aware of information.  Awareness
likely involves at least one of discriminating, comparing, understanding,
knowing or interrelating information.

> > 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."

What about idealism, is there no "set of all possible thoughts"?  If not,
what are the implications for your theory?

> 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.
Once you get to mathematical truth, will you really need an explanation for
why 1 + 0 = 1?

> Down the rabbit hole of infinite regress.  Doesn’t seem promising, and
> doesn’t seem necessary.
> Why not just accept accidental idealism?
> Rex
It doesn't seem to lead to anything fruitful, but perhaps I do not
understand it well enough.  Do you see it providing any answers of the
following questions:

Why are there thoughts about brains?
Why can my thoughts contain memories of successful predictions made with an
understanding of physics?
What is my thought likely to be 10 seconds from now?
Why is my thought compressible rather than incompressible randomness?
Why do my thoughts contain ideas about a many billion year history of


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