Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> So our disagreement seems to be quite subtle. It seemed to me you  
>> wanted to
>> make numbers the absolute thing. But when we are really modest it  
>> seems to
>> me we have to admit the meaning in numbers is an intersubjective  
>> agreement
>> in interpretation and we should not be too quick in disregarding  
>> seemingly
>> contradictory statements as completetly false.
> We try to understand things by reducing them to things we already  
> consider having a good understanding of.
> If not we are doing obstructive philosophy, cutting the hair kind of  
> activity.
We may also understand things by seeing their truth is not (at least
practically) reducible to anything we have a good understanding of.

If we understand consciousness can not be reduced to anything else, we
learnt something.

I thought you are not a reductionist?

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> But this does suppose the kind of understanding that 1 is different  
> from 2.
Of course I understand that 1 is different than 2. But nevertheless I can
also makes sense of 1=2 (for example it might express the same as 1X=2X,
that is, the object we are talking about has no distinction of quantities).
I also see the difference between lion and animal. But it nevertheless makes
sense to say that a lion is an animal or that an animal is a lion.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> By the way I have some doubts about 0 being properly conceived of as a
>> number. It might be more useful to conceive of it as a non-number  
>> symbol,
>> like for example infinity. Zero makes some things in mathematics  
>> messy if
>> interpreted as a number. For example "removable discontinuities" in
>> functions (I don't know what the right term is in English): If we  
>> have the
>> function (x+1)(x-1)/(x+1)(x+2), this functions is not defined for  
>> x=-1, but
>> in a sense it clearly should be and indeed if we reduce the terms  
>> (which
>> seems to be seen as valid, although we implicitly divide through  
>> zero) it is
>> defined for x=-1. So this suggest that it would be better to give  
>> zero a
>> relative meaning, so that for example 0/0 may mean different things in
>> different contexts (like the symbol x).
>> I have no clue how this could be formalized, though. Also it may be  
>> I'm just
>> interpreting some inconsistency that is not there due to my lack of
>> understanding.
> Such problem are usually handled in an analysis course.
Unfortunately no, at least not in school. As I remember it came down to "We
get a function '(x-1)/(x+2)' that removes the discontinuity by analyzing the
limits at the undefined x", but this doesn't answer the question why there
is function that "should be" - but isn't - defined at a point in the first
place. Maybe it is just an inappropriate use of intuition and there is no
sense in that the function "should be" defined any more than 3/0 should be

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>> That is why I like comp, because it allows (and forces)  to derive  
>>> the
>>> psychological existence, the theological existence, the physical,
>>> existence, and the sensible existence from the classical existence of
>>> numbers, which is simple by definition, if you agree with the use of
>>> classical logic in number theory.
>> Honestly I still have doubts about this. The reason is that there is  
>> always
>> the implicit axiom "I am conscious." (for example a bit more  
>> explicit in
>> "Yes, Doctor"), which is incredibly general.
> The statement "I am conscious" is not just general. It cannot be  
> formalized at all, and is not part of any scientific discourse (as  
> opposed to the sentence "I am conscious").
I'm not so sure. Isn't saying "I am conscious" formalizing that I am
conscious? Intuitively it seems perfectly vald.
Also, if we cannot formalize "I am conscious" can we formalize anything at
all? Can we formalize some content of consciousness without formalizing "I
am conscious"? And if we can't formalize content of consciousness what can
we formalize? After all we just have our consciousness and its content.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> I am not sure that if we take
>> "I am conscious" as axiom,
> I don't do that.
This is a bit like saying if we have the axiom "There is a number 0 and a
successor of 0, s(0)", there is no axiom "There is a number 0".
If we say "Yes doctor" we say "I bet that if I get an artificial brain my
state of consciousness will remain enough invariant so that I feel myself to
be the same person as before".
My consciousness can only remain invariant if I am conscious in the first
place, so the axiom "I am conscious" is included.

Otherwise you make the same mistake as a scientists using numbers in their
theories but denying the existence of numbers (and so ultimately the axioms
they use).

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> But maybe I don't get a crucial thing.
> Digital Mechanism is not a trivial hypothesis. It contradicts the part  
> of the theology of Aristotle used by most believers and non believers  
> since 1500 years. (To be short).
Yes, the basic idea seems easy but if you dig deeper you see that if we take
consquences in account it becomes really difficult.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> I don't have the experience that "everyone" is doing war to me, when
>>>> I am
>>>> very much inclusive in what I believe to be true (or good). Some
>>>> people,
>>>> especially those holding unconventional beliefs, will appreciate  
>>>> your
>>>> openness.
>>>> You will not have the masses or authorities behind you, though (they
>>>> like
>>>> people reiterating their beliefs in strong and authoritative
>>>> manner). But
>>>> neither do I want to. Well, maybe in some way I would like to, but
>>>> then I
>>>> would probably fall into the trap of authoritarianism myself. There
>>>> seems to
>>>> be inherent tension between being believed in and not being
>>>> authoritative.
>>> Not really. Authoritative argument are symptoms of lies or bad faith.
>>> If you trust truth (which is hard given that it is unknown) you fear
>>> nothing.
>> The problem is that we either formulate total modesty (or rather we  
>> get as
>> close as we can about it and say "I really don't know so I better  
>> don't pose
>> any possibility that might influence you in what you think is right"  
>> or
>> better "..." ) or we pose some truth to be the truth; and as soon as  
>> we do
>> this, some might take us to be an authority.
> That is why in (ideal) Science we never do that. We just never posit  
> something as being true.
If we propose a theory isn't it implied that we think the theory is true?

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>  We posit things, and if you don't like them,  
> you can always propose another theory. Scientist pretending that we  
> know things, per science, are philosophers confusing pseudo-religion  
> with science. That's human weakness, not science weakness.
I don't think we can seperate science and science as praticed by humans.
Science is a human creation (at least relatively here on earth).

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> We don't necessarily decide if
>> we want to be an authority. You don't have to say "I am right and  
>> you have
>> to obey me", we may say "Everything is fine and you can't do  
>> anything wrong
>> and you don't have to do anything" (like some spiritual teachers do)  
>> and
>> thus prevent personal progress, because there are seen as authorities.
> We can follows authorities, although we are the only judge to evaluate  
> if they are authorities. In science, authorities never use  
> authoritative arguments. The media and bad popularization book does  
> that all the time, but they are deeply wrong. They fall in pseudo- 
> religion.
> It is very important to distinguish "authority" and "authoritative  
> argument". The first are appreciable, the second are perverse in all  
> situations.
> When authoritative argument are used for the bad cause, it leads to  
> the possible good.
> When authoritative argument are used for the good cause, it leads to  
> the very bad.
> Why? Because authoritative argument kills its cause. When the cause is  
> bad, it kills the bad, which is good, and when the cause is good, it  
> kills the good, which is bad.
I believe in somse sense we have to appeal to an authority to convey
something. We believe things because of authority, if it is only the
authority of reality.

But then we are lead to the next problem: Either we leave undefined what
reality is, in which case we don't convey much - or we use some model of
reality which than acts as the authority.
Usually the authority doesn't say "Believe me because I say I am right", but
"Believe me because <some greater authority> shows I'm right". The priest
appeals to God as the authority, the politician in democracies to the "will
of the people", the scientist to controlled experiments, the mathematician
to mathematicial truth.
If we don't explicitly say what our authority is we only cover up what our
authority is, which makes it harder to check if our authority is right.

So I think the good thing in science is that we make clear our authorities.
We say we believe because of the results of controlled experiments. Or
because of our faith in the axioms of mathematics.

In religion (or pseudo-religion if you like that term better) they say God
is the authority, but noone really says that their God is in large parts
just a collection of ideas from people in the far past.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Authorities never uses authoritative arguments.
So the church - that is an authority to many people - doesn't appeal to God
in their arguments?
Maybe you wish people saw as authorities only people that don't use
authoritative arguments.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>>> It is far too much "politically correct'.
>>>> I don't think I am politically correct.
>>>> Saying that the state or conventional religion is harmful (or just
>>>> superfluous) - like I do sometimes - will lead you into much
>>>> opposition (the
>>>> second not so much in my particular environment).
>>>> I am not saying we shouldn't disagree (even vehemently). We may
>>>> disagree,
>>>> but at the same time realize that there is some truth to what is
>>>> being said
>>>> by the other party. I agree, though, that it is a hard line to walk
>>>> between
>>>> disagreeing too much and agreeing to much. Most confusingly  
>>>> sometimes
>>>> agreeing to much might seem like disagreeing (with disagreeing) too
>>>> much.
>>> Yes. This can be contingent, but religion is the best thing in the
>>> world until the power steals it. This lead to unending confusion and
>>> suffering, and "religion" is made into the worst thing, *especially*
>>> that some truth remains.
>>> I think religion, that is your relation with truth, is eminently
>>> private, and that no one can tell what you need to believe in, unless
>>> your belief harm others.
>> I would very much like to agree. But unfortunately "harming others"  
>> is an
>> relative and personal term itself.
> I am not sure about that. This form of relativism is a way to escape  
> our responsabilities. So we can continue to sell guns, alcohol, etc.
Maybe it is good to sell guns and alcohol if you are a decent person.
Otherwise non-decent persons will do that, which will lead to even worse
What ultimately causes harm or reduces harm is a more difficult question
than it might seem at first glance. Maybe sometimes the only way to avoid
great harm is to cause relatively small harm. 
Perhaps even war reduces harm in that it shows people how bad it is before
they have the means to use even more cruel tools at war, blind to what the
use of them practically entails.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>>> Of course, when someone genuinely says that all "non christian  
>>>>> people
>>>>> go to hell", there are many possible "truth" behind the statement,
>>>>> like " the atheists", " the agnostics", "I hate you",  
>>>>> "you
>>>>> have to obey to what I say", "You don't belong to my club", etc.
>>>> Or "I believe there will be justice and non-Christian people are
>>>> inherently
>>>> evil and thus have to go to hell for justice to prevail, even if I
>>>> don't
>>>> like it" or "I believe what I have been told, because I cannot
>>>> believe only
>>>> what I see myself".
>>> Yes. Lack of self-confidence. It is the children philosophy: p is  
>>> true
>>> because my father said so. It should no be used in the academy, I
>>> think. It can be useful in the army, or with the fire men, when quick
>>> decision have to be made. For poliltics, it is already much more
>>> complex.
>> The problem is that we can totally doubt everything everyone says.
> That's extreme relativism. But we can doubt a lot, and that is a  
> reason to find a common solid base, like with elementary arithmetic,  
> or even part of physics.
I meant to say we "can't...".

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Perhaps we should make them illegal when used against someone being  
> more than 7 years old.
But this is a strong form of authoritative argument: "You should not make
authoritative arguments because I believe you should no make authorative

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>>>> I believe the only way we can learn to understand each other is if
>>>>>> we
>>>>>> acknowledge the truth in every utterance.
>>>>> That is extreme relativism, and makes truth so trivial that it lost
>>>>> its meaning.
>>>> I think truth is a naturally very relative notion, today it might be
>>>> true
>>>> that "it rains today" on Monday and it might be false on Tuesday.
>>> That might be absolute truth disguised into indexical statement. "It
>>> rains today" is "it rains the 23 february 2011" uttered the 23
>>> february 2011.
>> Okay, but then it is plausible to say relative truth is absolute  
>> truth.
>> Which again leads to truth being a relative notion.
> If you make *all* truth relative, then you will contradict yourself at  
> some point. Descartes saw this, I think.
You mean that "All truth is relative" would have to be an absolute statment
Maybe it means "All truth is relative and absolute" and absolute/relative is
a relative distinction.
The truth is absolute, but relative to itself. "Absolute" may really mean
the same as "self-relativity".

It may be that "absolute"="relative" in some context, just as "up"="down" in
some context (my up is the australians down).

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> But paradoxically it seems like an absolute notion, too. There
>>>> really seems
>>>> to be an absolute truth regardless of circumstances.
>>>> So I am an extreme relativist, but also an absolutist.
>>> Doubt can rise only from at least a certainty, like consciousness.
>> Right, but this certainty might be a really really weak one. We are  
>> certain
>> that we are conscious, but in non-lucid dreams we experience how  
>> weak the
>> sense of being conscious can be.
> I don't think so. Why? We might only experience how weak our belief in  
> some reality can be, but not on the reality of our consciousness.
This contradicts my experience. I clearly find myself to be less conscious
when dreaming. Not only less conscious of a reality, but less consicious of
my consciousness.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> It's the same with triviality. Truth is trivial, it simply is true
>>>> and it is
>>>> hard to say anymore about it that is surely true. On the other hand,
>>>> it's
>>>> highly non-trivial, as seen in this non-trivial world; there seem to
>>>> be
>>>> infinite structures in or of truth.
>>> Logic makes that clear. Some truth are trivial (like "p -> p", or  
>>> "p &
>>> q -> p", or "0 = 0"), but the notion of truth itself is so complex  
>>> and
>>> non trivial that there is no arithmetical predicate for just
>>> arithmetical truth. Truth is as trivial as God! It has no  
>>> description.
>> Or it has every description!
> It has none. You can go from none, to an arbitrary one. Neither about  
> truth, nor about God.
I assume you mean "can't".
Why not?

I think any description will do as a description of truth, because it is the
only thing that can be described. I think falsehood is just a rational
category and ultimately included in truth as *less accurate* or more vague
formulations of truth - but not a total opposite.
I do think, though, that every description of truth is incomplete (I
supspect that truth itself is always incomplete, that is, eternally
extendable by more of itself).

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>>> Language are interpreted plausibly by universal machine (brains,
>>>>> bodies). The interpretation have to follow constraints to be
>>>>> sensical.
>>>> But if there are no constraints they can follow constraints.
>>> ?
>> It's similar to the omnipotence paradox. If there are no constraints  
>> it need
>> not be a constraint that there are no constraints.
> Worst than that. It needs to be not-a-constraint, but it *is* a  
> constraint.
This may just be a linguistic problem of expressing this kind of pardoxical

None of a thing may be one of a thing "none of a thing" (0=0*1).

Similarily no constraint may be a constraint "not-a-constraint".

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> I don't think we need to be afraid of any level.
>>>> If we avoid this level we will exclude persons from society that
>>>> speak in a
>>>> way that is hardly comprehensible, for example schizophrenics (I
>>>> know one).
>>> This is different. As we might feel some empathy for some person or
>>> group, we can *try* to understand. But we are not obliged to make
>>> sense. You might ended like the duchess. Someone tells her
>>> "thryunbvazo^lo-iolopik, ##", and she will tell you "Oh, you are so
>>> right, my dear".
>> You seem to like the word "iolopik". Maybe it conveys some deep  
>> truth, maybe
>> it is more connected to the way the letters are arranged on your  
>> keyboard,
>> maybe both. ;)
> No. It means "my friend". "iolopy" means friend, iolopik means "my  
> friend", on an imaginary planet, gravitating around an imaginary sun,  
> in an imaginary galaxy, in an imaginary cluster of galaxies, in an  
> imaginary branch of an imaginary solution of Schroedinger equation, if  
> that exists.

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> Among them it is quite common that they talk a way that is hard to
>>>> comprehend.
>>> *That* is the problem.
>> Yep, but it can't be solved by avoiding to make sense of them.
> I am not sure. We can learn by finding sense, but also by discarding  
> sense.
I would rather discard the NONsense and keep the sense. ;)

Of course I see what you mean. If we believe in the christian hell, it is
probably better to discard the sense that people really go to hell forever.
But this may equally (or better) interpreted as seeing the deeper sense in
"atheists go to hell" (it is there to control people, it is and was always
just an scenario *in my mind*,...).

And practically I don't think it will help if you try to discard the sense
in what the schizophrenic person says. You can't convey that (instead she
will try to interpret what you said in the way that further feeds their
delusion - "it is just a test" etc...). You can just convey that you see
some sense in what she says and this may help, if only by making her feel
more accepted (and thus less defensive and more open to help).

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> It is the  
> problem with salvia, we don't really remember the key part of the  
> experiences.
This may be a protective mechanism for not letting the salvia reality
intrude into ours too much. Or conversely remembering certain things maybe
would suck us inescapably into salvia reality (which cannot happen for
reasons of self-consistency of our local earthly selves).

Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Also heaven and hell (not in the christian sense of course) and
>> reincarnation might be emergency realities that are there as a
>> semi-consistent bridge to more consistent histories (maybe some  
>> advanced
>> technological future, where we can learn to locally manifest through
>> development and with the help of computers and live forever in a more
>> plausible way than in salvia land or heaven).
>> Just some speculation - I guess I'm wildly creative today ;).
> If mechanism is true, we can say that we are plausibly already in the  
> 'matrix'. No need to wait for an advanced technological future, we are  
> already there.
I don't know. Is the future not really defined in a way that in the future
we must necessarily remember our old present (so the future can just be a
future where what is now has already subjectively happened - which is
obviously not the case)? It seems more appropiate to me to say we live in
timelessness (out of which time emerges).

If we really are already in a advanced technological future, why are we not
- or only badly - able to communicate with the entities there? And why is
there even seemingly linear time?

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