Hi Bruno,

    I am a little tired and testy so please forgive me if I am curt and rushed 
in my response. I have time now to write so I will, but be warned... 

From: Bruno Marchal 
Sent: Friday, January 28, 2011 11:03 AM
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com 
Subject: Re: A comment on Maudlin's paper “Computation and Consciousness”
Dear Stephen, 

On 28 Jan 2011, at 01:13, Stephen Paul King wrote:

  Dear Bruno,


  From: Bruno Marchal 
  Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 1:23 PM
  To: everything-list@googlegroups.com 
  Subject: Re: A comment on Mauldin's paper “Computation and Consciousness”

  On 25 Jan 2011, at 15:47, Stephen Paul King wrote:

        SPK: The supervenience thesis is separate from the Turing thesis and 
Mauldin does a good job in distinguishing them.
  Just to be clear, what Maudlin call "supervenience thesis" is what I called 
"physical supervenience thesis", to distinguish it from the computationalist 
supervenience thesis.
  The computationalist supervenience thesis is basically what remains when we 
keep comp, and understand that the Phys. Sup. thesis has to go away in the comp 

      My claim is that we can push physical supervenience far into the 
background but in the cases where interaction between entities occurs it cannot 
be eliminated entirely. My proposal is that for interactions we must have both 
MEC and MAT, as MEC or MAT taken alone provide insufficient support for 
supervenience. This is what I see Maudlin’s argument proving.

    SPK: The problem that I see is in the properties of physicality that are 
assumed in Mauldin’s argument. It is one thing to not be dependent on what 
particular physical structure a computation can be run on (assuming a realistic 
supervenience), it is another thing entirely to say that a Turing machine can 
be “run” without the existence of any physical hardware at all.

  Well, in the branch ~MEC v ~MAT, Maudlin seems to prefer MAT, so he seems 
with you on this, I think.

      No, I am claiming that for interactions between entities (and the models 
thereof) we must have MEC and MAT. In situations, like in most of your theory, 
interactions are not a factor thus your thesis follows smoothly in that frame. 
This is why I constantly ding you for being solipsistic. I would hope that you 
would do the same for me if I where equivalently in error. One must be able to 
defend one’s beliefs. Judge and prepare to be judged.
The work has been done. It is up to you to tell me where is the error, which 
has to exist if you want have, like many, both MEC and MAT. 
I insist that I have no theory. I just show that MEC implies a reduction of the 
mind body problem to a body problem. You cannot use the fact that the body 
problem is not yet solved as a critic of the argument.
And then the arithmetization of the argument provides enough evidence that a 
good arithmetical tensor product can exist, so solipsism is also not proved 
from MEC. But ~MAT is proved from MEC. I cannot sum up a long argument in each 
paragraph, so I refer you to the explanation that I have already given.
Either you take the argument into account, or you refute it or at least explain 
why you are not convinced, in the course of the argument. Each time someone 
explain me why h/she is not convinced, if patient enough, come to understand 
he/she can no more say yes to a doctor without adding some magic in either 
consciousness or matter. 


    This is only an avoidance of the problem by the claim that it does not 
exist, begging the question. I am asking questions about interactions, if you 
want to insist that only bodies (as immaterial numbers!) exist so be it. I will 
keep asking how it is that their static relations generate the appearance of 
multiple mutually irreducible 1-p. We each share a common universe of 
experience and we, not being solipsist, believe that that universe that we can 
agree and bet on seems to involve interactions between what seems to be 
necessarily independent entities. I want to understand how you think that your 
argument can explain this appearance? 
    I accept your premise for the sake of the discussion and to try to 
understand your argument that proposes the reduction of the mind-body problem 
to a body problem, but this tells me nothing about how the resulting bodies 
(plural!) interact with each other. Maybe I need to go through my argument that 
the mere existence of a set of all possible representations of interactions 
between bodies is insufficient to derive the appearance that I have as 1-p. I 
will be doing this in the course to the conversation with Travis, if he is 
willing. It has to do with the Concurrence problem and the NP-Complete problems 
that are involved in any model of interactions between separable entities that 
are not synchronous. 


  [BM]OK. And the problem with the word physical is that it means different 
things in different settings. The main confusion is between fundamentally 
physical, or material, with a conception of primary matter, or it means 
"related to this or that physical theory" based on abstract mathematical 

      OK, let us focus carefully on this problem! We have no evidence for and 
plenty of sound arguments against the idea that existence at its primitive 
level (assuming a well founded ontology) is material, pace Garrett, but that 
does not equal a proof of any sort that MAT does not exist. 

Sure. That is why I provide a proof, or an argument.

    OK, did you notice that I am arguing for then below here about existence? 
Do you understand the ideas that I am trying to express?

      Please recall that existence, per say, is not a “property” that an entity 
can *have*. Existence is only supervening upon its possible forms of expression 
not on the chance that such are observed as there will always exist entities 
that are not yet within the class of entities that the UD has already 
dovetailed upon. This follows from the fact that the UD must run eternally (per 
UDA) and all of the proofs of Gödel's incompleteness.)
      What I am arguing for is that we need a finite form of MAT for our models 
to be sound. We can show that this finite form of MAT is degenerate and can 
even vanish in some limit (such as in a Russellian neutral monism where the 
differences between mind and body vanish because the ability to distinguish 
between them vanishes), but necessary at our level of expressiveness it is 

    SPK: We also had a recent paper that discusses how “information is 
converted into free energy” by a Maxwell Demon-type feedback system. It seems 
to me that there is a lot of confusion about what relationship there is between 
information and matter, so my inquisitiveness could be seen as an attempt to 
make sense of this mess.
  And the word "matter" is similarly ambiguous, and never defined, except by 
Aristotle which provides the "& Dp" idea, implicitly used by the Platonist 
Plotinus to define matter in the way used by the self-observing machine.
  Matter is what is indeterminate, and oppose to intelligibility (Bp). It is of 
the type ~Bp, that is D#. This is coherent with the idea that a physics is, 
before all thing, a probability or plausibility calculus. Cf also Timaeus 
(Plato) bastard calculus, and the Kripke semantics of "Dp" in modal logics: Dp 
= it exists a world satisfying p.

      A very good point, Bruno. But I think that you would agree that Dp is 
trivial if by itself given, as I explained above, that existence is necessary 
possibility. We need more than Dp in our semantics! We need a local1-p 
necessary definiteness of properties even if that definiteness vanishes in 3-p. 
I take quantum mechanics as screaming this message over and over but like the 
cries of Cassandra it falls upon dead ears.

      Most people, including most philosophers, do not explicitly talk about 
questions of the the reality or non-reality of the immediate content of “being 
in the world”. Descartes did in his Meditations and came to the conclusion that 
a dualism was needed. Regretfully his proposal had a fatal flaw because (for 
one thing)  he used the Humean notion of causality (including the principle of 
locality – as did Maudlin!), but this failure by Descartes does not necessitate 
the unsoundness of all forms of dualism. Pratt has sketched out a form of 
dualism that works! I am just trying to expand on his idea. But my hardest 
challenge is getting my fellow philosophers to stop being crypto-solipsists! 
Our modelizations must include some form of interactions between many minds. 
Interactions between minds and bodies is easy, interactions between minds is 
People interact when they are multiplied collectively. There are plenty such 
interactive computations in arithmetic. The problem which remains consist to 
show that such collective computations win the "measure battle".
To postulate physics or quantum computation at the start is a conceptual 
treachery once we assume comp, and it prevents the simultaneous derivation of 
quanta and qualia. The 8 hypostases gives a phenomenology of many forms of 

[SPK] (Screaming and ranting is heard in the background.)

    Have you noticed that I am proposing a way to model a competition between 
computations as a way to solve the measure problem?

    SPK:       One idea that could be proposed is that information is a 
relationship in a triple such that a difference exists between two that makes a 
difference for the third. I am sure that this can be put into more formal 
terms. Turing Machines aside, we are not really getting to the problem until we 
have a good set of tools with which to examine the question of how to determine 
the substitution level of a given system and even if substitution is possible. 

  Here I disagree 100%.
  It is proved that if we are machine, then we cannot define and prove what is 
our substitution level. No machine can ever know which machine she is. This is 
what I have called the Benacerraf principle in older post (and my theses).
  For any machine defined as such in a 3-way, the substitution level is built 
in the plan of the machine, by definition.

      Your disagreement is with a straw man, Bruno, not with my argument here, 
although I did use poor wording there. I was considering the physical aspect of 
substitution, as in the for example case of replacing biological neurons with 
silicon chips. Please remember that you are a monist and I am not, so our 
definitions differ in subtle ways. Your idea of Machine is purely ideal. For me 
machine has dual aspects, physical and informational. In my thoughts, a machine 
can have physical substitutability with another machine under bisimilarity, 
where the substitution maintains the invariance of the informational structure 
(a Complete Atomic Boolean Algebra for the classical case of Chu2). We can copy 
physical states up to the quantum limit, but we cannot copy the information 
that is relevant to determining the quantum states of those machines because of 
the non-commutativity of canonical conjugates.

      There is a difference between information and knowledge, between what is 
computable by UTM and what is not. I do not see how my claim is not 
inconsistent with the Benacerraf principle: 
(http://www.mail-archive.com/everything-list@googlegroups.com/msg08199.html “if 
I am a machine I will never KNOWN which one.”; by my reasoning this follows 
from the “no outside observers” idea of van Fraassen. If there does not exist a 
third such that the state of that third is capable of being altered by a 
difference between a pair of states of knowledge, then there is no information 
difference in content (this is, by the way, the definition of bisimilarity!). 
Knowledge is like second order information.This is exactly the situation where 
my proposed duality vanishes! In the zero information state, there is no 
differences that could make a difference (per definition!). 
      I assume that I am a machine that requires some form of physical 
instantiation to preserve my sense of identity, my awareness of being in the 
world, but I cannot know or gain information of which ideal machine I am. 
Questions like “which physical implementation is “me”?” is similarly unknowable 
from 3-p because there does not exist a non-trivial 3-p that is a unique 
bijection of some 1-p. There are *many* possible 3-p that can be extended from 
a single 1-p. Your teleportation argument in UDA show this very well. This 
claim seems to imply that we cannot gain knowledge of “what it is like be be a 
bat” without actually being some kind of bat and is falsifiable in that sense. 
My wording may be ill-formed here, but I am betting that I am correct. 

      So where is our disagreement? 
That you seem not to see that MEC => ~MAT without singling out what is wrong in 
the argument.
Of course you can add a notion of primitive matter as epiphenomenon, but that 
contradicts the weakest form of OCCAM, if only because we have no means at all 
to *interact* with such matter. So why to reintroduce it.

    MERDE! Bruno! Can you read what I wrote previously? OK, let me calm 
down.... Is your argument completely independent of Maudlin’s? If so, then I 
need to re-read your papers and posts again. So far you are only adding lots of 
sophisticated detail to the Movie graph argument, which I pointed out has a 
problem. It assumes the classical principle of locality and ignores the reality 
of the relativity of simultaneity. 
    We have an overabundance of evidence contradicting the idea that our common 
world and the objects within it obey the principle of locality when it comes to 
their properties and evolutions and the experimental evidence for General 
Relativity is accurate to many many orders of magnitude, thus if we are going 
to make claims that the physical world does not exist based on arguments that 
are straw men because they are based on assumption in contradiction to 
experimentally established facts, we are arguing in bad faith. On the other 
hand, it is not necessarily a violation of OCCAM to introduce entities that can 
be shown to be logically necessary. I am just proposing that a weak form of MAT 
is OK, and that your (and Maudlin’s) argument that MEC => ~MAT is unrealistic 
in that it is based on constraints that are too strong.
    Adding a notion of primitive matter as an epiphenomenon is the last thing 
that I would propose because it only adds to the problem we are trying to 
solve. An epiphenomena is by definition not causally effective, and so is 
irrelevant to issues of computational supervenience. It does not help us at all 
to find a solution to the interaction problem (whether it is between bodies or 
minds). As Pratt wrote in http://chu.stanford.edu/guide.html#ratmech: 

    “We apply Cartesian logic to reject not only divine intervention, 
preordained synchronization, and the eventual mass retreat to monism, but also 
an assumption Descartes himself somehow neglected to reject, that causal 
interaction within these planes is an easier problem than between.” 

    I am having a very hard time not seeing your proposal as a secular form of 
Divine intervention! I would be a lot more sanguine to your argument if you 
could show how the divine existence of AR supervenes sufficiently to explain 
the interactions between concurrent objects. How does the mere existence of 
relationships between numbers provide sufficient structure to supervene all of 
the additional structures that we need to define the 1-p of many minds? While 
we can point to Goedelian diagonalizations as ansatz arguments, we forget that 
we can only do this because we have matter to write down our symbolic 
representations of the strings of numbers. Without the support of matter, there 
is no transitionally invariant structure to act as “tape” for our proposed 
Universal Dovetailing machine because there is no transition to be invariant 
to! If there is no time or matter, then there is no memory for our processors 
to read and write from and to. Therefore, we must have at some level a physical 
material world. That does not mean that this physical material would is not 
degenerate and that it vanishes in some limit, it just means that for the sake 
of the case of interactions of individual minds, however it is that one wants 
to define their supervenience, we need something that it is like to be a 
physical material world. .


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to