On 26 Feb 2011, at 22:55, benjayk wrote:

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
in interpretation and we should not be too quick in disregarding
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
We may also understand things by seeing their truth is not (at least
practically) reducible to anything we have a good understanding of.

Yes, I agree. But this need to be done relatively to a very clear theory about what we do understand.

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

"anything else" is much too big. It is part to the object of study in the search of a TOE.

I thought you are not a reductionist?

I am not a reductionist indeed. On the contrary I show that consciousness and matter are not reducible to number relations or theories, except by taking them all, as we are obliged to do when we say "yes to the doctor". When we accept that our brain can be described as a machine, then we can understand our consciousness is not reducible to finite collections of numbers, but to infinite collections, and that some aspect of consciousness (private qualia) are not reducible at all, although they can handled by machines and numbers. This is counter-intuitive and rather hard to figure out, but thanks to the comp hyp, this can be (meta--formalize, even by introspecting universal machine (the Löbian machine's 'interview' does just that).

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.

The problem is not in making sense of some expression, but in agreeing about *some* meaning, and this usually with some goal in mind.

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
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
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

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

Yes. It makes no 'useful' sense.

Bruno Marchal wrote:

Bruno Marchal wrote:

That is why I like comp, because it allows (and forces)  to derive
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
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

Not at all. To be formalize, we must be able to use any terms in place of any terms. You cannot do such a substitution for "I am conscious". But you can use any terms and symbols once you have formalize in first order logic. Only the inference rules (like saying that you can deduce B from A & B) needs the inevitable amounts of informality.

Intuitively it seems perfectly vald.
Also, if we cannot formalize "I am conscious" can we formalize anything at

Yes. But few things can be completely formalize. yet, natural addition, natural numbers multiplication, and addition + multiplication on the real numbers can be completely formalize. Addition and multiplication on the natural numbers can still be formalize but not completely (some truth will escape any theory attempting to do so).

Can we formalize some content of consciousness without formalizing "I
am conscious"?

Yes. You might need to study a bit of logic to grasp this. We can formalize completely addition, and it is a content of consciousness.

And if we can't formalize content of consciousness what can
we formalize? After all we just have our consciousness and its content.

We can formalize, usually incompletely, some content of consciousness (usually mathematical). Once a realm is rich enough yo define universal numbers (machines), we, or any alien, gods, etc. can never formalize (find a theory) completely such a realm.

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.

Hmm... It is more a theorem, or a default assumption. It is obvious that we suppose that someone is not a zombie when saying "yes" to the doctor.

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).

Of course. What I said is hat I am not using the axiom that "bruno marchal is conscious", but the whole comp idea is that you are supposed to be conscious when saying yes to a doctor. Comp is a theory of consciousness (and matter). It presupposes the existence of those things (then it shows they are not fundamental, and that matter is less fundamental than consciousness, ontologically. The partial reduction are: numbers => consciousness => matter.

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.

I am open that it leads to a falsity, in which case we refute comp. But up to now, we get only a quantum-like sort of weirdness.

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
especially those holding unconventional beliefs, will appreciate
You will not have the masses or authorities behind you, though (they
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

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
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"
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?

No. (except by bad scientist). All theories are really question made precise.

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).

Yes, but when we search a TOE we search to go beyond the humans. So we have to separate human science from some ideal science (like the one of the universal numbers when they introspect themselves).

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)
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-
It is very important to distinguish "authority" and "authoritative
argument". The first are appreciable, the second are perverse in all
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.

Which reality?
Physical reality? OK, but that is the Aristotelian assumption, which I do not follow.

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.

We can use them as theory, which means hypothesis. We can rely on personal intuition, inspiration. Anyway, there is no problem with authorities, only with authoritative argument.

Usually the authority doesn't say "Believe me because I say I am right",


"Believe me because <some greater authority> shows I'm right".

Not really. An authority will say "believe this proposition if you can justify it from what you already believe in". Of course, in the natural science we do use a notion of plausibility, due to the fact that we cannot do all preceding experiments, but eventually you are the only judge.

The priest
appeals to God as the authority,

That is the authoritative argument, unless the priest only says "listen to God". But if he says "God told us this and that", it is no more religious but only a con men, a misleader, a scammer, a confidence trickster. I tend to think that God is the most trustful authorities, and due to that, the one which should never quote in an argument. Appeals to God (or miracle) in argument is scam.

the politician in democracies to the "will
of the people", the scientist to controlled experiments, the mathematician
to mathematicial truth.

No problem with authorities. Much problems with authoritative arguments. I mean in the search of truth, not in many practical situations.

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.

But God, for a believer, is not a collection of ideas from people. It is what creates the people at the start. Like few physicists, since Aristotle, would say that the physical universe is a collection of ideas from physicists. That is why indeed, it is nice when we put the cart on the table, and make precise our (hypotetical) ontological assumptions clear at the start. With comp, at the start we accept consensus reality (consciousness, matter, numbers), and eventually reduce the ontology to numbers and their elementary operations. It is not a reductinosim, because the internal epistemology appears to go far beyond the numbers, and provably so.

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.

That's the point. The honest priest might say "listen to God, if you can". He/she will not say "believe in this or that because God says so".

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
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
disagreeing too much and agreeing to much. Most confusingly
agreeing to much might seem like disagreeing (with disagreeing) too

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.

We have to listen to the compaling people, and change the startegy if they are more and more complains. Democracy makes this possible, although a democracy is just a beginning path, and not the last answer. in human affair, the problems are infinite in number.

Maybe sometimes the only way to avoid
great harm is to cause relatively small harm.

Like stopping smoking tobacco, or taking a unpleasant medication. Yes. I agree.

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.

I agree. There is no criteria for good and bad, except the direct evidence by people.

Bruno Marchal wrote:

Bruno Marchal wrote:

Bruno Marchal wrote:

Of course, when someone genuinely says that all "non christian
go to hell", there are many possible "truth" behind the statement,
like "F..ck the atheists", "F..ck the agnostics", "I hate 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
evil and thus have to go to hell for justice to prevail, even if I
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
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
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

I did not say that. I said "when searching the truth, you should not believe in authoritative arguments because both logic and history can show that they lead to falsities and harm", and I did argue.

Bruno Marchal wrote:

Bruno Marchal wrote:

Bruno Marchal wrote:

I believe the only way we can learn to understand each other is if
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
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
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".

OK, and with comp you need some absolute notion to define that self- relativity.

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

I would no go so far.

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
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.

OK. That is something which I did believe and can still conceive. But now, both from comp and from some experimental study on consciousness, and on the functioning of the brain, I tend to believe that this is an illusion. It is a post amnesy which makes us believe that we were less conscious. But it the attention which is playing some trick. But you point on some difficulty of comp. That's a real subject of discussion.

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,
highly non-trivial, as seen in this non-trivial world; there seem to
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
non trivial that there is no arithmetical predicate for just
arithmetical truth. Truth is as trivial as God! It has no
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 mean "can't", and I mean it in the comp frame. It is a consequence of the theory. Roughly speaking such description, if available, led to contradictions akin the the Epimenides paradox ("I am lying" <=> " I am not lying").

I think any description will do as a description of truth, because it is the
only thing that can be described.

OK. I have to say that I answer always in the comp frame, and I guess I am refering to "description" is a rather more fromal sense than the informal common one.

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).

The set of all true proposition about all machines is not even describable by any machine. But machine can find clever trick to approximate that set, or to refer to it indirectly. Such set of truth can be extended (by analytical truth, for example, of by arbitrary "truth" involving new symbols), so in that sense such truth can be extended. Indeed, the first order Noûs is already far bigger that the ONE, and eventually the internal epistemology of any universal numbers is bigger than the whole of mathematics, and even "science", making comp the less reductionist theory ever.

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
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
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".

That s different. The difference is well captured by modal logic. It is the difference between ~Bp and B~p. 99,9% of invalid reasoning in philosophy are based on such missing nuance. Like people confuse often agnostic (~B'god exist'), and atheist (B~'god exists').

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
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

*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
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).

It is premature to explain a TOE to the schizophrenic. The goal here is not make it understood by the sane and good willing people among those who are open to many-worlds or everything-type of theories. Some schizophrenic might be in advance, like some mystic, because we are interested in consciousness, and they live altered state of consciousness, but if we can learn from them, the goal here remains to make the explanation available to 'normal' people first.

Bruno Marchal wrote:

It is the
problem with salvia, we don't really remember the key part of the
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).

That's quite possible.

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
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?

This may be a protective mechanism for not letting that advanced technological future reality intrude into ours too much. Or conversely remembering certain things maybe would suck us inescapably into advanced technological future reality (which cannot happen for
reasons of self-consistency of our local current 'earthly' selves :)

And why is
there even seemingly linear time?

In both comp and the quantum, time is bifurcating, with many futures, and less, but still infinitely, many pasts. We are in a timeless realm, but we live it, from inside, in the time and space modal manner.



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