# Re: Mathematical closure of consciousness and computation

```On Sun, Jun 5, 2011 at 3:36 PM, Quentin Anciaux <allco...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't understand what is the purpose of such a comment... one that I've
> seen too many times.```
```
Which comment?

In general, the purpose of my comments is just to articulate my
thoughts in some more-or-less coherent and permanent form, and to see
if there are any interesting responses that point to other avenues of
investigation.  After all, I could be mistaken!

> The only logical conclusion is "Nothing is explainable
> !".... well ok then I will gonna eat my banana !

Bananas are good.  I like bananas.

> If your premises is "Nothing is explainable" then it is logical that you
> conclude that "Nothing is explainable", going in parabolic wording about it
> won't make it better.

It wasn't my starting premise, but it's pretty much the conclusion I've come to.

My basic point is this:

1.  Explanation is subordinate to description.

2.  Description is subordinate to observation.

3.  Observation is subordinate to experience.

4.  And now we want to close the circle by explaining experience.

However, our explanation of experience can only be justified by appeal
to experience - plus reason.

But what is reason?  Where does it come from?  What explains it?  What
do experience and reason have to say about reason?  Another circle.

So if our experiences correspond to something external to themselves,
and our reasoning is correct, then the equations of our descriptive
framework will be true of the world as well as of our observations,
and our explanations will true of the world as well as of our
framework.

But what reason do we have to believe that our experiences do so
correspond to an external world, and what reason do we have to trust
reason?

Our experience of dreams and hallucinations and delusions are enough
to plant the seeds of doubt about the reliability of both experience
and reason.

And then there are more abstract arguments, like the brain-in-vat
argument, the Cartesian method of doubt, and the simulation argument
(which hinges on multiple realizability, btw).

And there’s just the general question of what “reason” means in a
deterministic world, or a probabilistic world, or a purely contingent
world.

So, to the extent that reason is reliable, there are reasons not to
take Step Four seriously.

Despite all that, one could ask, why not take step four?  What’s the harm?

But, alternatively one could also ask, why take step four...what’s the benefit?

Steps one through three are perfectly compatible with an instrumental
approach to science, and don’t require any metaphysical commitments.

Only step four *requires* a metaphysical leap of faith...and that
makes step four suspect.

Rex

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