On 29 Jan 2012, at 04:05, Pierz wrote:
On Jan 29, 10:57 am, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
On 1/28/2012 3:15 PM, Pierz wrote:
On Jan 28, 11:04 pm, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:
On 26.01.2012 07:19 Pierz said the following:
As I continue to ponder the UDA, I keep coming back to a niggling
doubt that an arithmetical ontology can ever really give a
satisfactory explanation of qualia. It seems to me that imputing
qualia to calculations (indeed consciousness at all, thought that
may be the same thing) adds something that is not given by, or
derivable from, any mathematical axiom. Surely this is
from a mathematical point of view. Every mathematical statement
only be made in terms of numbers and operators, so to talk about
*qualities* arising out of numbers is not mathematics so much as
numerology or qabbala.
Here of course is where people start to invoke the wonderfully
protean notion of emergent properties . Perhaps qualia emerge when
a calculation becomes deep enough.Perhaps consciousness emerges
a complicated enough arrangement of neurons. But I ll venture an
axiom of my own here: no properties can emerge from a complex
that are not present in primitive form in the parts of that
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
of the parts - physical properties such as elasticity, electrical
conductivity, volume and so on that belong to the individual
But nobody invoking emergent properties to explain consciousness
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.
Let my quote Jeffrey Gray (Consciousness: Creeping up on the Hard
Problem, p. 33) on biology and physics.
"In very general terms, biology makes use of two types of concept:
physicochemical laws and feedback mechanisms. The latter include
the feedback operative in natural selection, in which the
variables that determine survival are nowhere explicitly
within the system; and servomechanisms, in which there is a
locus of representation capable of reporting the values of the
controlled variables to other system components and to other
The relationship between physicochemical laws and cybernetic
in the biological perspective on biology poses no deep problems. It
consist in a kind of a contract: providing cybernetics respects
of physics and chemistry, its principles may be used to construct
kind of feedback system that serves a purpose. Behaviour as such
not appear to require for its explanation any principles
Roughly speaking Gray's statement is
Biology = Physics + Feedback mechanisms
Yet even at this stage (just at a level of bacteria, I guess
there is no
qualia yet) it is unclear to me whether physics includes
laws or they emerge/supervene. What is your opinion to this end?
What are "cybernetics laws"? Can they be written down like the
Standard Model Lagrangian
or Einstein's equation?
Yes. In many ways. If you have already the phi_i, which can be derived
from the laws of addition and multiplication, that you can write down,
you can extract many things from little equations. Auda is a
consequence, at some level of theoretisation, of B(Bp->p)->Bp (Löb's
formula). The physical reality of the machine is described in the
formula p->BDp, with a new B defined from the Löbian one used above.
I think it's clear that in approaches such as Gray's, which are
on a conventional materialist ontology, any laws invoked must
ultimately rely on/emerge from physical laws. In fact, that's
Gray's qualifier "providing cybernetics respect the laws of physics
and chemistry". "Respects" in this clause means that cybernetics
be subservient to physics, therefore emergent from it. However the
laws of physics do not include cybernetic laws - the fundamental
equations of physics are actually reducible to a handful of
you can write down on a couple of sheets of paper. In terms of the
point I am making regarding qualia, Gray's argument is one variant
the theme of the type of reasoning I object to. It's all there in
"Behaviour as such does not appear to require for its explanation
principles additional to these."
The issue isn't explaining behaviour, it's explaining consciousness/
qualia. These approaches always end up conflating the two, their
proponents getting annoyed with anyone who isn't prepared to wish
the gap between them.
But most people seem to think that the two are linked; that
philosophical zombies are
impossible. Are you asserting that they are possible?
Well of course they are linked. As for the problem of zombies, I of
course have to agree that they seem absurd. But to me the zombie
argument elides the real question, which is the explanation for why
there is anyone home to find the zombies absurd. Why aren't zombies
having this discussion? In the traditional materialist worldview,
there is nothing to explain that. We observe that we aren't, in fact
zombies and then the materialist observes that the his/her predictions
would be the same if there were no consciousness and so s/he loses
interest in the issue and effectively shrugs and says "oh well". But
there are some problems, though I expect you'll have little truck with
them. I could, for instance, refer you to a study of near death
experiences in the Lancet in which a person in cardiac arrest and
flatlining on the EEG was able to report the presence of a pair of
sneakers on a high window ledge of the hospital during an OBE which he
would have no way of knowing were there. There is a huge amount of
evidence along these lines that consciousness does not in fact
supervene on the physical brain. Other evidence, for instance, comes
from LSD research conducted in the fifties (see Stanislav Grof's
work). Of course there's also vast and incontrovertible evidence that
consciousness, under normal conditions, does supervene on brain state
and structure, so we are left with an anomaly that in most cases is
resolved by denying the evidence of the exceptions. This is not all
that hard to do when the evidence is to be found in consciousnesses
of subjects rather than 'instruments' and cannot easily be subjected
to controlled experimental trials. But even a single personal
experience can override the weightiest scientific authority - as
Galileo looking through the telescope and seeing 'impossible'
mountains on the moon. So one can have a personal conviction that
'something is wrong with the conventional view' without necessarily
being able to present conceptual or experimental proof for one's
conviction. Therefore, I prefer to keep reminding people that
something utterly central to their existence - in fact the defining
feature to that existence: our awareness of it - remains without an
explanation. Even the estimable David Deutsch - arch rationalist and
materialist - concedes that we have no explanation for qualia. We only
differ in our belief as to how far-reaching the revisions to our
understanding will have to be in order to achieve that explanation.
Maybe Bruno has found it, but for the reasons I am trying to explicate
in this thread, I'm not convinced yet.
Fair enough, pierz. I think the UDA is far simpler than MGA, which you
seem to grasp.
AUDA is deeply based on theoretical computer science and logic. I have
made attempt to explain, but in a mailing list people tend to forget,
or to run away once there are too many symbols, so I can only refer to
BTW, while I am with Craig in intuiting a serious conceptual lacuna in
the materialist paradigm, that doesn't necessarily enamour me of his
alternative. His talk of 'sense making' seems to me more like a 'way
of talking about things' than a theory in the scientific or
philosophic sense. It doesn't really seem to explain anything as such,
but more to put a lot of language around an ill defined intuition.
Sorry Craig if that wrongs you, but like others, I would like to hear
something concrete your theory predicts rather than just another
interpretive slant on the same data.
I wanted to discuss this issue in another thread
but at the present the discussion is limited to the question of
information is basic physical property (Information is the
Entropy) or not.
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