On Jan 26, 1:19 am, Pierz <pier...@gmail.com> wrote:

> of my own here: no properties can emerge from a complex system that
> are not present in primitive form in the parts of that system. There
> is nothing mystical about emergent properties. When the emergent
> property of ‘pumping blood’ arises out of collections of heart cells,
> that property is a logical extension of the properties of the parts -
> physical properties such as elasticity, electrical conductivity,
> volume and so on that belong to the individual cells. But nobody
> invoking ‘emergent properties’ to explain consciousness in the brain
> has yet explained how consciousness arises as a natural extension of
> the known properties of brain cells  - or indeed of matter at all.

YES. Well said, and I agree completely. This seems to be what most
people are missing. When I press this issue, I generally get a lot of
promissory materialism - 'Science Will Provide'. There is no amount of
ping pong balls that will suddenly begin to think it is a turtle.
Anything interesting that comes out of quantities and arrangements has
to be potentially there from the beginning, and that means physical
qualities which we know as matter and energy (or body and mind in
first person).

> In the same way, I can’t see how qualia can emerge from arithmetic,
> unless the rudiments of qualia are present in the natural numbers or
> the operations of addition and mutiplication. And yet it seems to me
> they can’t be, because the only properties that belong to arithmetic
> are those leant to them by the axioms that define them. Indeed
> arithmetic *is* exactly those axioms and nothing more.

Right. There are completely different qualia associated with the same
numbers, depending on the context.

> Matter may in
> principle contain untold, undiscovered mysterious properties which I
> suppose might include the rudiments of consciousness.

We can change our consciousness by ingesting substances or
manipulating our brain directly with electromagnetism or surgery. That
suggests that matter is important in a non-trivial and highly specific
way. There is no reason I can think of to assume that all matter does
not have some sensorimotive properties.

> I call the idea that it can numerology because numerology also
> ascribes qualities to numbers. A ‘2’ in one’s birthdate indicates
> creativity (or something), a ‘4’ material ambition and so on. Because
> the emergent properties of numbers can indeed be deeply amazing and
> wonderful - Mandelbrot sets and so on - there is a natural human
> tendency to mystify them, to project properties of the imagination
> into them.

Which is an excellent way to learn about the properties of the
imagination and the psyche itself. Potentially more useful and
interesting than the properties of physics or arithmetic. Numerology
and other divinatory systems can, if they are understood figuratively
rather than literally, shed light on the 'who' and the 'why' aspects
of the universe that make the 'what' and 'how' meaningful.

> But if these qualities really do inhere in numbers and are
> not put there purely by our projection, then numbers must be more than
> their definitions.

I wouldn't make it 'our projection' in the sense that it is pure
fiction, it is just a level of semantic projection which we as humans
happen to be able to access. Does 1 imply independence, isolation,
first, top, only, etc? Yes, why not? Does 4 imply order and
practicality? Well, have you ever been in a building that uses seven
sided doors and windows? There is meaning there. It's not just
fictional, it's rooted in observation just as science is.

> We must posit the numbers as something that
> projects out of a supraordinate reality that is not purely
> mathematical - ie, not merely composed of the axioms that define an
> arithmetic. This then can no longer be described as a mathematical
> ontology, but rather a kind of numerical mysticism. And because
> something extrinsic to the axioms has been added, it opens the way for
> all kinds of other unicorns and fairies that can never be proved from
> the maths alone. This is unprovability not of the mathematical
> variety, but more of the variety that cries out for Mr Occam’s shaving
> apparatus.

Right. Disembodied experiences and intentions. It seems to me to be a
metaphysical explanation that makes the physical universe redundant
and illogical. Why not start with what we know? Consciousness and it's
relation with the brain and body are understandable when we stop
looking for the mystery and accept that our lives are part of the
universe in their native form. Once we do that, we have only to accept
that our cells and molecules also have lives that exist in their
native form but that form is not accessible to us directly as discrete
experiences, rather it is rolled into our own experience as rich


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