On 7/6/2012 5:18 PM, David Nyman wrote:
On 6 July 2012 18:01, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be <mailto:marc...@ulb.ac.be>> wrote:

        /I am sure your analysis might help to better apprehend
        consciousness, and can perhaps better handle the amnesia
        situation. But you have not (yet) convinced me that it has to
        be termed into a new form of *assumed at the outset*
        indeterminacy. The probability of "being me" is a sort of
        Dirac distribution: it is one, for "me", and zero for the
        others. The probability of becoming "me", is perhaps close to
        one on the transitive closure of the computations, and is
        complex to compute for particular brain instantiation./

Thanks for your detailed critique up to this point, Bruno. I understand of course that you are particularly concerned to assess its consistency with comp. By contrast, as I have said, my own motivation has been more generally to find a heuristic for navigating some of the thornier conceptual puzzles presented by consciousness. I understand that the kind of global probability distribution entailed by this notion is poorly defined in a strict mathematical sense. The global distribution is simply assumed ex hypothesi by the stipulation of a class of all sentient moments, and the "relative probability" of any sub-class of moments is then assumed to derive from a kind of global frequency-interpretation as a consequence of the unique "stochastic succession" of moments. This is essentially what Hoyle had in mind with his pigeon hole metaphor, and it stands or falls in terms of its utility as a mode of thought for certain purposes; no more, no less.

Consequently the "/*assumed at the outset* indeterminacy" /just follows automatically from//the specification of the heuristic; as moments succeed each other without extrinsic ordering, the personalised spatio-temporal characteristics associated with each successive moment have in this sense no prior determination. The notion of "succession" here simply grounds the bare notion of experiential transition, and the consequence of each such transition is to localise the knower in terms of an underlying "real system". This system, in turn, can readily be assumed to be as complex as necessary to account for the unfolding relative scenarios thus recovered.

A feature of this view is that all subsequent notions of indeterminacy are inherited from a single primitive notion, which is assumed to mediate _all_ questions of who, where, when and relative to what. For example, it grounds the relative probabilities of the "future outcomes" of individual persons as well as more general "anthropic" or observer self-selection issues. One could see this as a useful conceptual simplification or a step too far, I guess. "The probability of being me", seems to be, as you say, all or nothing; but in terms of the heuristic it is weird but inevitable that this must always seem to be the case in the context of a given occasion of experience. The "probability of becoming me" (or that there will be a "me" to be) depends, as I think you imply, on the entire web of relations encoded in the real system.

Thank you again for the critique. I hadn't really thought to "convince" you, but you have helped me to test the usefulness of the view under stress, as it were. I continue to find it helpful, but I will of course always be on the look-out for cases where it might seriously mislead. We cannot hope for full illumination in such matters, but a small guiding light can often help us negotiate a conceptual obstacle in the path.

Dear David and Bruno,

I am very informed by your discussion so far. I really appreciate the patience and depth of the discussion! I would only add that the idea of a "single primitive notion, which is assumed to mediate all questions of who, where, when and relative to what" is a form of Pre-Established Harmony ala what Leibniz had in mind to explain the synchronization of the Monads. I see this idea as problematic because it assumes something that is completely unphysical and even impossible! It is my claim that any such PEH is equivalent to a solution to an optimization or satisfaction problem and such require computations to be actually performed to be said to have solutions. One can claim that a solution exists and even privite a proof of this existence, but this is no substitute for actually having the solution in hand so as to use it. The real world requires that we physically instantiate our computations; we have to do work to gain knowledge of solutions to problems. The idea that there exists a Mediator of all questions is not sufficient if we do not have the means to acquire the exact nature of the "who, where, when and relative to what". We have to be very careful about this "assumed from the onset" stuff! Yes, it is necessary to assume things even for the sake of discussion of ideas, but to assume that they are de facto primitive and/or a priori is often a fatal mistake.



"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
~ Francis Bacon

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