On Sat, Jun 4, 2011 at 4:14 PM, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jun 4, 2011, at 1:03 PM, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Sat, Jun 4, 2011 at 1:51 PM, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Godel showed no single axiomatic system captures all mathematical truth,
>>> fixed set of axioms can at best approximate mathematical truth. If
>>> mathematical truth cannot be fully captured by a set of axioms, it must
>>> exist outside sets of axioms altogether.
>> Then perhaps the correct conclusion to draw is that there is no such
>> thing as "mathematical truth"?
>> Perhaps there is just human belief.
> Perhaps so, perhaps there is only Rex's beliefs. Perhaps only rex's beliefs
> at this exact moment.
Not obviously impossible. Thought not obviously necessitated either.
Does the possibility that there are only Jason’s beliefs at this exact
moment scare you?
Would you prefer it to be otherwise?
> What model for decision making can there be with such a
> world view?
But we don’t need metaphysics for decision making.
We must act. And there’s nothing guide those actions except that
which can be “distilled” from past experience.
But what to make of the distillate? Is it just a compact description
of past observations? Or is it a “true” description of reality?
Classical mechanics turned out to be a compact description of past
observations. No one looks to Newton’s equations for metaphysical
guidance, do they?
But computationalism is, you think, a true description of reality?
> But what explanatory power does that offer?
It seems plausible to me that physics (or computationalists) may be
able to generate a complete, compact framework that describes the
world that I observe.
And since I observe behavior of the people around me, and the
framework is a compact description of my observations, then I should
be able to “explain” people’s behavior in terms of the framework.
And if I can explain my neighbor’s behavior in terms of the framework,
maybe I can explain my own behavior in those terms as well.
Explanation is something that occurs *within* a descriptive framework.
Those explanations don’t reach beyond the framework.
Going “metaphysical” (instead of instrumental) with an explanatory
framework could only be justified if we had some reason to believe
that our observations plus our reason gave us reliable access to what
But notice that “reason” shows up twice in that sentence...which is a problem.
>>> The fractal is just an example of a simple formula leading to very
>>> output. The same is true for the UDA:
>>> for i = 0 to inf:
>>> for each j in set of programs:
>>> execute single instruction of program j
>>> add i to set of programs
>>> That simple formula executes all programs.
>> Following those instructions will let someone "execute" all "programs".
> What is the engine providing the computations which drive the universe?
That assumes that computations do drive the universe.
Which is the assumption that I’m questioning.
>> Or, alternatively, configuring a physical system in a way that
>> represents those instructions will allow someone to interpret the
>> system's subsequent states as being analogous to the "execution" of
>> all "programs".
> Do you think pi has an objective (not human invented or approximated) value,
> whether or not any person computed it?
I think that everyone who starts from the same assumptions and makes
the same inferences will always reach the same conclusions regarding
the value of pi.
> Is there an answer to the question what is the googleplexth decimal digit of
> pi given no one in this universe could ever computed it?
Is there an answer to the question of whether this penny would have
melted had I taken an oxyacetylene torch to it yesterday - given that
this didn’t actually happen?
If there is an answer to the inner question, and that answer is “yes”
(or “no” for that matter), what makes it “yes” (or “no”)?
So I can answer the question today relative to some explanatory
framework. But given that the framework is just the distillation of
past experience, and is only intended as a guide to action...the
answer I give today about what would have happened yesterday isn’t
meaningful except in relation to the framework. It’s “for
entertainment purposes only”.
In the “real world” (whatever that is), I’d guess that there is no
fact of the matter about what would have happened yesterday with the
penny and the torch.
SO...applying the same reasoning to your question:
I’ll say that relative to some framework that includes my experience
with the assumptions and inferences and rules needed to calculate pi -
the answer is yes. Because in that framework, given enough time and
enough “universe”, it seems likely that someone *could* calculate the
googleplexth digit of pi.
But that answer is for entertainment purposes only...since it is an
answer based on a framework distilled from past experience for the
purposes of guiding action which is instead being applied to a purely
hypothetical situation that has no chance of being enacted.
The answer is only relevant relative to the framework that generated
it and there’s no grounds for ascribing metaphysical significance to
the framework, and so there’s no grounds for ascribing metaphysical
significance to the answer.
There is no fact of the matter except relative to the framework.
It’s like asking “who would win an arm wrestling match between the
Incredible Hulk and Spiderman”. I can confidently say the Incredible
Hulk. But that answer doesn’t really mean anything outside of the
“Marvel Universe”. The Marvel Universe has no metaphysical
significance, and so my answer to this hypothetical question involving
it has no metaphysical significance either.
> If there is, then there are also objective values to the omega constant, or
> the state of the uda after X steps. These values exist without the need for
> someone to execute them, anymore than we need to compute the billionth digit
> of pi for it to have it's value.
Relative to some detailed fictional framework, sure. Such an
imagination you have!
>>>> Is extraordinary complexity required for the manifestation of "mind"?
>>>> If so, why?
>>> I don't know what lower bound of information or complexity is required
>>> for minds.
>> Then why do you believe that information of complexity is required for
> I think information is a critical component of consciousness. The very
> definition of consciousness: "having awareness of ones own thoughts and
> sensations.". Awareness is defined as having knowledge or information.
> Therefore consciousness is the possession of information (about ones
> thoughts ir sensations).
We can say that we have information about what we are aware of...but
that is not the same as saying that awareness *is* information.
Information is a difference that makes a difference. But it has to
make a difference *to* someone.
A randomly generated string of bits can be identical to a string of
bits representing an image...but the randomly generated string of bits
contain no real information whereas the image file does.
The difference being that I know how to correctly interpret an image
file, but there is no “correct” interpretation of a random string of
But with the right “interpretation” any information can be found
anywhere. The magic is all in the interpreter, not in what’s being
Information is observer-relative. Observers aren’t information-relative.
> There are also reasons to believe in the informational basis if
> consciousness due to multiple realizeability. Minds can take different
> physical forms because information cab take many physical forms.
I can take anything to represent anything else. So “representation”
is multiply realizable.
But again, that has to do with me, not with information. If I
remember what my encoding scheme was, I can “re-present” things to
myself. If I forget what my encoding scheme was, or that I even
encoded anything - then all I have are a bunch of bits...which for all
I know might be random.
If they really were random bits, but for some reason I was convinced
they weren’t - I might find all sorts of “meaningful” interpretations
of them using all sorts of decoding schemes - but none of these would
In this case, I’m doing all of the work...the bits aren’t doing
anything. Which, as it turns out, is also true of non-random bit
strings. I do all of the work. The bits are just reminders...hints.
I think you’re getting it all backwards. Representation depends on
me. I don’t depend on representation.
You’re saying: “Hey, look at all the great things I can do with
representation! What if I represented myself in some way??? Would
that be me?”
Well...no. That would be a representation of you. Representation is
something you do, not something that you are.
> Lastly there is an argument realted to zombies. A zombie cannot feel any
> different or be less conscious than a conscious person who is physically
> identical. This is because the informational content of both the person and
> the zombie is necessarily the same (given the identical physical states).
> Therefore the conscious person does not and cannot know anything more about
> what they are feeling or experiencing than the zombie does. Both must be
> equally conscious.
That’s one way of looking at it. That might be true relative to some
explanatory framework. But it’s true for entertainment purposes only.
Like the Hulk-Spiderman matchup above.
>>>> Is it that these recursive relations cause our experience, or are just
>>>> a way of thinking about our experience?
>>>> Is it:
>>>> Recursive relations cause thought.
>>>> Recursion is just a label that we apply to some of our implicational
>>>> The latter seems more plausible to me.
>>> Through recursion one can implement any form of computation.
>> But, ultimately, what is computation?
> A process. More specifically one that connects a succession of states via
> some well-defined relation(s).
So why would a process that connects a succession of states via
well-defined relations - in addition to being that - *also* be my
conscious experience of sitting in this chair drinking coffee, writing
Why would that be? Why would this process be *two* things instead of
just one? Not interpretable as two things (by me) - but really,
intrinsically two entirely different things?
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