On 2/4/2012 8:58 AM, David Nyman wrote:
On 4 February 2012 12:22, Bruno Marchal<marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
No, I am not. I bet that comp is TRUE, but I don't see COMP as requiring
that the physical world is supervening on numbers (up to isomorphisms) as
So you have to explicitly show what is not valid in the UDA1-8. You miss
something, let us try to find out what.
I am not missing a thing, Bruno. You are missing something that is
obvious to the rest of us.
If someone else can confirm this, and put some light on what Stephen is
saying, I would be pleased.
Bruno, I used to think that you were indeed missing "something that is
obvious to the rest of us". I don't think so any longer, because I
understand now that you are presenting a theory and your arguments
consequently derive strictly from the axioms and assumptions of that
theory. I don't pretend to understand all aspects of that theory of
course, but through discussion and the contrast of ideas I have come a
bit closer than when I started.
I don't know if it will help at all for me to state here my
understanding of what might motivate the theory in the first place,
but I'll try. Firstly, as you have so often said, the
informational/computational theory of mind (CTM) is more or less the
default assumption in science. Indeed this conclusion seems almost
unavoidable given that brain research seems to imply, more or less
unambiguously, the correlation of mental states with relations,
rather than relata. However, CTM in its uncritically-assumed form
continues to be combined with the additional assumption of an
Aristotelian primitively-physical state of affairs. This leads
directly either to denialism of the first-person, or alternatively to
some ill-defined species of property dualism. These consequences by
themselves might well lead us to reject such primitive-physicalism as
incoherent, even without an explicit reductio ad absurdum of the
unambiguous association of conscious states with "physical
computation". Either way, in order to retain CTM, one is led to
contemplate some form of neutral monism.
The question of what form such a "neutral" theory should take now
arises. Since the theory is explicitly *computational*, the axioms
and assumptions of such a theory should obviously be restricted to the
absolute minimum necessary to construct a "computational universe" (in
the traditional sense of "universe") or rather to indicate how such a
universe would necessarily construct itself, given those axioms and
assumptions. The basic assumption is of a first-order combinatorial
system, of which numbers are the most widely-understood example.
Given the arithmetical nature of such a universe, construction and
differentiability of composite entities must necessarily derive from
arithmetical assumptions, which permits the natural emergence of
higher-order structural integration via the internal logic of the
system. Of particular note is the emergence in this way of
self-referential entities, which form the logical basis of
Since the reality of first-person localisation is not denied in this
theory (indeed the theory positively seeks to rationalise it), the
system is not posited as having merely third-personal status, but as
possessing a first-person self-referential point-of-view which is
associated with consciousness. Perhaps it is this aspect of the
theory which is the most tricky, as it cuts across a variety of
different intuitions about consciousness and its relation to the
phenomena it reveals. For rather than positing a primitively-physical
universe which "instantiates" conscious states, the theory must
reverse the relation and posit conscious states that "instantiate"
physical phenomena. In so doing, it exposes itself to empirical
refutation, since those phenomena must be, at least, consistent with
ordinary observation (although they also predict, in the limit,
observations of high improbability).
It is this last issue of instantiation which seems to be one of main
bones of contention between Stephen and yourself, though I'm not sure
why this is the case. From my own perspective, unsophisticated though
it may be, it seems reasonable that the emergence of "truly physical"
phenomena should indeed be the result of "personal instantiation" in
the conjunction of consciousness and computation. After all, when do
questions as to what is "truly physical" emerge, other than in the
context of what is "truly experiential"? The rest is calculation.
Does my claim that our primitive ground must be neutral with
respect to any properties make any sense? It like the zero of arithmetic
from which we can extricate any set of positive and negative quantities
in pairs such that their sum is equal to zero. What I see in Bruno's
interpretation of COMP is that it permits for the primitive to have a
set of properties (numbers and + and *) to the exclusion of its
complementary opposites. Since this is a violation of neutrality, thus I
see a fatal flaw in Bruno's Ideal monist interpretation.
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