Dear Arturo, Dear Colleagues, 

> On 11 May 2018, at 18:36, wrote:
> Dear Bruno, 
> I'm sorry, but I cannot agree.

I take a disagreement as a courtesy to pursue a conversation, which would be 
boring without them.

But, what I say has been proved, peer reviewed by many, so it is perhaps more a 
matter of understanding than of agreeing.

Or you are just telling me that you disbelieve in Mechanism. I prefer to remain 

Mechanism is my working hypothesis. The idea is to take it seriously until we 
find a contradiction (internal or with the observation). It is a common by 
default type of hypothesis, held by many people, notably most materialist. But 
here I can prove that (even weak) materialism (the belief in ontological 
primary substances/matter) is inconsistent with (even weak) mechanism. See my 
papers for this, it is not entirely obvious. 

> "eve­ntually I found a co­nceptually isomorphic explanation in ari­thmetic."  
> Isomorphy is a dangerous claim: the underliying mechanisms in biology could 
> be something other than isomorphism (i.e., an Ehresmann connection in a 
> hyperbolic manifold, as it occurs in gauge theories).

Nothing in the observation point on either primary matter, nor on non 
mechanism. I am not sure why you think that Ehresmann connection or gauge 
theories are non mechanist. Actually Mechanism entails that the physical 
phenomenology cannot be mechanistic. You might confuse Mechanism in the 
cognitive science with digital physics. 

Digital physics (the idea that the physical reality is Turing emulable) does 
not make any sense. It entails mechanism, but mechanism entails the falsity of 
digital physics (see my paper or ask question: that is not obvious). So, with 
or without Mechanism, Digital Physics makes no sense.

> Futhermore, you simply change the name of the primum movens, the first 
> principium: instead of calling it physics, you call it arithmetic.  This is 
> as fideistic as the Carnap's physicalist claims.  

Physics assumes Arithmetic.

Arithmetic do not assume physics.

I can follow you with the idea that arithmetic still ask for some faith, but 
the amount is less than assuming a primary physical reality.

Then, I have never heard about parents taking back their kids when they are 
taught elementary arithmetic.

Also, with mechanism, we need to assume only a Turing universal machinery. With 
less than that, we get no universal machinery at all. With one of them, we get 
all of them. I simply use arithmetic because everyone are familiar with it. The 
theology and physics of machine do not depend on the choice of the universal 
system assumed at the start. It is an important new invariant of physics. 
Indeed, it determines entirely physics (always assuming Mechanism (aka 

> "If you think that a brain is not Turing emul­able, you might be the one to 
> whom people can ask".  The burden of the final proof is yours, because your 
> claim is stronger and less conventional than mine.

Mechanism is a common, implicit or explicit, hypothesis among philosophers and 
scientists. It is a very old theory, already in “the question of Milinda” (a 
buddhist old text), and of course Descartes. Diderot identified it with 
rationalism. That makes sense, because to assume its negation consists in 
adding something for which we do not have any evidence (until now).

Maybe you confuse computable (like automata) and semi-computable (like Turing 
machine). It is the existence of universal machine which is responsible for the 
incompleteness of theories, because there is no complete theory possible for 
anything enough rich to prove the existence of universal machine, like, 
amazingly enough, already very elementary arithmetic.

>   If you say that angels do exist, you have to provide the proof, it's not me 
> that have to provide the proofs that they do not exist.  

But you are the one saying that “angels” exist, with “angels” pointing on 
something not “computable nor semi-computable” in nature or the mind …

Mechanism is just the conjunction of the Church-Turing thesis (CT) + “yes 
doctor” (YD, the idea that we can survive with a brain digital prosthesis). A 
version of Mechanism is that there is no magic at play in our body.

Then it seems that you claim a form of weak materialism, but there too, you are 
the one reifying the notion of primary-matter. That is a strong axiom in 
metaphysics, and there are no evidences for it. It is a natural extrapolation 
from the mundane experience, and we can understand why evolution has select 
such a belief, as we need to take the existence of prey and predator seriously. 
But this, as the Indian and Greeks understood a long time ago, does not provide 
any evidence of primary matter (a notion absent of any book in physics).

> "I will ask your evidence for the wave collapse." This is indeed a strange 
> claim.  There are tons of published papers that demonstrate the wave 
> collapse. 


You might give one reference. I have never found one. I would say that there 
are evidences for the wave only. 
The collapse is an addition to avoid the many-histories/worlds/minds, which 
follows from taking the wave seriously, as the experimental interference 
invites us to do. It introduces an non intelligible cut between the observed 
and the observer. It introduces indeterminacy and non locality. And there are 
many incompatible theories for the collapse, which is indeed rather non 

Then, with Mechanism, the problem is that we have to extract the wave too, from 
*all* computations, and not just the quantum one. But that is what I have done: 
I extracted a quantum logic where machines have to expect it: a measure on all 

> You may discuss why and how it occurs, but you cannot negate this clear, 
> polite, puzzling, experimentally-detected phenomenon.

I would suggest you to study the work of Everett, who by using only the wave 
and Mechanism, explains entirely the appearance of a collapse without assuming 
Then, as I say, bu using mechanism, Everett missed that all computations are 
already in arithmetic, and that universal digital machine cannot detect in the 
first person way if they are emulated by any basic particular universal 
machine, and the wave itself required to be explained by digital information 
theory (aka computer science).

Here, very often people misses that all computations are not just described in 
elementary arithmetic, but are realised, in virtue of the true relations among 
numbers. 99% of this has been found by Gödel, but Gödel missed the point, done 
later by Turing, Post, Church, Kleene, etc.

> I think that your theory has just analogies with quantum dynamics, and the 
> analogy is the worst enemy of science.
There is no analogy. When you say “yes doctor”, the digital brain in the head 
will not be an analogy. The rest followed by logic and elementary arithmetic.

> This seems the same type of theories that claim, for a simple analogy, that 
> the brain and consciousness work at quantum levels. 
But if we postulate collapse, all the evidence becomes evidence for this. Yet, 
Abner Shimony has refuted, or show the amount of magic, needed to sustain that 
consciousness reduces the wave packet. 

You might study my papers, as all what I say just follow from CT + YD. 
(Church’s Thesis + “Yes doctor”). Sometimes I call it Indexical 
computationalism, to distinguish it from Digital physics (in metaphysics. 
Digital physics can be useful as an approximation in some branches of physics).

> Sorry, but diplomacy has never been my first virtue…

No problem Arturo, as long as you don’t use insult or mockery, or ad hominem 
remarks, or things like that, which I take as “I have no argument but dislike 
what you did”.

My feeling is that you might ignore the important difference between computable 
and semi-computable, and you might think that mechanism is a reductionism, when 
it is more like a vaccine against the reductionist conception of machine and 
numbers, enforced by the incompleteness theorem.

You can guess that mechanism is less reductionist than non-mechanism, as the 
mechanist will say yes to his daughter when she want to marry a man with a 
prosthetic brain, where the non-mechanist will treat such a man as a less 
human, if not a( philosophical) zombie. Then you seem to assume a primary 
physical universe, which eventually do not make sense with the mechanist 

To sum up; I have done two things: 

- I have shown that (weak) mechanism is logically incompatible with (weak) 
materialism. So there is no problem with Materialists who reject Mechanism: as 
they should.

_ I have shown, by keeping up with my mechanist hypothesis, how to recover the 
physical appearance and its stability from arithmetic (or anything Turing 
equivalent). That makes Mechanism testable, by comparing the physics “in the 
head of the universal machine/number” with the observation. I did indeed 
extracted already the propositional physical logic, and got a quantum logic, 
which fits well with the one of the quantum physical logician (and is richer, 
so it makes new prediction). If mechanism is false, this provides in the Mong 
run a method to evaluate how much mechanism is wrong, and, who knows, to detect 
primary matter. But up to now, the empirical study of nature confirms 
Mechanism, more than Materialism.

I don’t know if mechanism is true or false. But I will not hide that I find it 
elegant. Arithmetic gives the third person sharable information, and 
incompleteness + non definability gives a platonic sort of first person 
information “theology” which includes the physical (material) appearances as an 
unavoidable phenomenology. I predicted the many-worlds from mechanism and 
arithmetic much before I knew about quantum physics, but it took me 30 years of 
works to derive precisely the quantum logical formalism. Needless to say, many 
open problems remains, but if we count the experimental evidences, they all add 
yup to mechanism, and none add up to (even weak) materialism. With Mechanism, 
Mark Burgin is right: information is not physical, but so is matter and the 
whole object of physics. Abstractly; the reality becomes the universal mind 
(the mind of the universal Turing machine) and the physical is the border of 
the universal mind viewed from inside that universal mind. Again, I do not 
defend that claim. I show it testable only.

Best regards,


> --
> Inviato da Libero Mail per Android
> venerdì, 11 maggio 2018, 06:03PM +02:00 da Bruno Marchal 
> <>:
> Dear Arturo,
>> On 10 May 2018, at 15:23, 
>> <> wrote:
>> Dear Bruno, 
>> You state: 
>> "IF indexical digital mechanism is correct in the cognitive science,
>> THEN “physical” has to be defined entirely in arithmetical term, i.e. 
>> “physical” becomes a mathematical notion.
>> ...Indexical digital mechanism is the hypothesis that there is a level of 
>> description of the brain/body such that I would survive, or “not feel any 
>> change” if my brain/body is replaced by a digital machine emulating the 
>> brain/body at that level of description".
>> The problem of your account is the following:
>> You say "IF" and "indexical digital mechanism is the HYPOTHESIS”.
> Yes, indeed. It is my working hypothesis. The idea came when asking myself 
> how an amoeba can build an amoeba. Then I discovered the solution provided by 
> molecular genetics, and eventually I found a conceptually isomorphic 
> explanation in arithmetic. Note that by making explicit the use of the level 
> of description, my hypothesis is much weaker than most form of 
> computationalism you can see in the literature. My reasoning would remain 
> valid even if my body is the entire universe, described by quantum string 
> theory with 10^(10^100) exact decimals.
>> Therefore, you are talking of an HYPOTHESIS: it is not empirically tested 
>> and it is not empirically testable.  
> I start from an hypothesis and show, on the contrary that it is testable. I 
> predicted well before I knew anything on quantum mechanics that Mechanism 
> entails that if we look at nature below our substitution level, we should 
> find the trace of infinitely many computations, and only later did I discover 
> that quantum mechanics, without the wave collapse, entails something very 
> similar. But Mechanism leads also to a complete formalism for both quanta and 
> qualia, and here too, the theory/hypothesis match with facts. As it predicts 
> a richer formalism, some crucial tests remain to be done. 
>> You are starting with a sort of postulate: I, and other people, do not agree 
>> with it. 
> I prefer to not say my opinion. I am not defending Mechanism. I show it 
> testable. My goal consists in showing that we can do metaphysics with the 
> scientific method, where we never claim that something is true, just that the 
> evidences makes it plausible.
> The negation of the digital mechanist theory is usually considered as more 
> “extra-ordinary”, as it implies either actual infinities, or some sort of 
> magic. If you think that a brain is not Turing emulable, you might be the one 
> to whom people can ask: what is your evidence? You might need to refer to 
> something non computable in Nature and not recoverable through the first 
> person indeterminacy. Note that mechanism entails that physics is NOT 
> emulable by a Turing machine, and that consciousness is NOT emulable by a 
> machine), so you need special sort of infinities. In fact, 
> non-computationalism can only benefit from the study of computationalism, as 
> it shows what is need for a theory to be a non-computationalist theory of 
> mind. 
>> The current neuroscience does not state that our brain/body is (or can be 
>> replaced by) a digital machine.
> At which level?
> Except for the famous but controversial “reduction of the wave packet” we 
> still don’t have find in Nature a non computable process. That might exist, 
> as we can “mathematically” find non computable solution to the Schroedinger 
> equation, but those are not of the type we observe anywhere.
>> In other words, your "IF" stands for something that possibly does not exist 
>> in our real world.  Here your entire building falls down.  
> ?
> It falls down because you are making the contrary hypothesis, the hypothesis 
> that something is not Turing emulable in nature, nor recoverable by the first 
> person indeterminacy. That might be possible, but that has not been proved, 
> nor even really defined. Your own hypothesis falls down by a similar argument 
> than yours, but your own hypothesis is not as well clear as mine, unless you 
> invoke the wave collapse? In that case, I will ask your evidence for the wave 
> collapse.
> You cannot use the word “real”. That is the same mistake than using the word 
> God. What is real is what we search. We cannot start from the answer.
> My feeling is that you confuse the universal machine, which is only partially 
> computable, and confronted to a lot of non computable truth in arithmetic 
> with the pre-Godelian conception of the machine, closer to to the notion now 
> called automata. I guess I will have opportunity to make this clear.
> I would like to insist (and detailed perhaps later) that Mechanism is the 
> less reductionist theory we can imagine. Indeed, a universal machine can 
> refute all complete theories about itself. It is a sort of universal 
> dissident. More intuitively, it does not qualify as zombie a man or woman who 
> would have survived with some brain prosthesis. The moral question will 
> eventually be this one: “do you accept that your son or daughter marry 
> someone having got an artificial hippocampus prosthesis? 
> Bruno
>> --
>> Inviato da Libero Mail per Android
>> giovedì, 10 maggio 2018, 02:46PM +02:00 da Bruno Marchal 
>> <>:
>> (This mail has been sent previously , but without success. I resend it, with 
>> minor changes). Problems due to different accounts. It was my first comment 
>> to Mark Burgin new thread “Is information physical?”.
>> Dear Mark, Dear Colleagues,
>> Apology for not answering the mails in the chronological orders, as my new 
>> computer classifies them in some mysterious way!
>> This is my first post of the week. I might answer comment, if any, at the 
>> end of the week.
>>> On 25 Apr 2018, at 03:47, Burgin, Mark < 
>>> <>> wrote:
>>> Dear Colleagues,
>>> I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion
>>>                                       Is information physical?
>> That is an important topic indeed, very close to what I am working on. 
>> My result here is that 
>> IF indexical digital mechanism is correct in the cognitive science, 
>> THEN  “physical” has to be defined entirely in arithmetical term, i.e. 
>> “physical” becomes a mathematical notion.
>> The proof is constructive. It shows exactly how to derive physics from 
>> Arithmetic (the reality, not the theory. I use “reality” instead of “model" 
>> (logician’s term, because physicists use “model" for “theory").
>> Indexical digital mechanism is the hypothesis that there is a level of 
>> description of the brain/body such that I would survive, or “not feel any 
>> change” if my brain/body is replaced by a digital machine emulating the 
>> brain/body at that level of description.
>> Not only information is not physical, but matter, time, space, and all 
>> physical objects become part of the universal machine phenomenology. Physics 
>> is reduced to arithmetic, or, equivalently, to any Turing-complete 
>> machinery. Amazingly Arithmetic (even the tiny semi-computable part of 
>> arithmetic) is Turing complete (Turing Universal).
>> The basic idea is that:
>> 1) no universal machine can distinguish if she is executed by an 
>> arithmetical reality or by a physical reality. And,
>> 2) all universal machines are executed in arithmetic, and they are 
>> necessarily undetermined on the set of of all its continuations emulated in 
>> arithmetic. 
>> That reduces physics to a statistics on all computations relative to my 
>> actual state, and see from some first person points of view (something I can 
>> describe more precisely in some future post perhaps).
>> Put in that way, the proof is not constructive, as, if we are machine, we 
>> cannot know which machine we are. But Gödel’s incompleteness can be used to 
>> recover this constructively for a simpler machine than us, like Peano 
>> arithmetic. This way of proceeding enforces the distinction between first 
>> and third person views (and six others!).
>> I have derived already many feature of quantum mechanics from this 
>> (including the possibility of quantum computer) a long time ago.  I was 
>> about sure this would refute Mechanism, until I learned about quantum 
>> mechanics, which verifies all the most startling predictions of Indexical 
>> Mechanism, unless we add the controversial wave collapse reduction principle.
>> The curious “many-worlds” becomes the obvious (in arithmetic) many 
>> computations (up to some equivalence quotient). The weird indeterminacy 
>> becomes the simpler amoeba like duplication. The non-cloning of matter 
>> becomes obvious: as any piece of matter is the result of the first person 
>> indeterminacy (the first person view of the amoeba undergoing a duplication, 
>> …) on infinitely many computations. This entails also that neither matter 
>> appearance nor consciousness are Turing emulable per se, as the whole 
>> arithmetical reality—which is a highly non computable notion as we know 
>> since Gödel—plays a key role. Note this makes Digital Physics leaning to 
>> inconsistency, as it implies indexical computationalism which implies the 
>> negation of Digital Physics (unless my “body” is the entire physical 
>> universe, which I rather doubt).
>>> My opinion is presented below:
>>>    Why some people erroneously think that information is physical
>>>    The main reason to think that information is physical is the strong 
>>> belief of many people, especially, scientists that there is only physical 
>>> reality, which is studied by science. At the same time, people encounter 
>>> something that they call information.
>>>    When people receive a letter, they comprehend that it is information 
>>> because with the letter they receive information. The letter is physical, 
>>> i.e., a physical object. As a result, people start thinking that 
>>> information is physical. When people receive an e-mail, they comprehend 
>>> that it is information because with the e-mail they receive information. 
>>> The e-mail comes to the computer in the form of electromagnetic waves, 
>>> which are physical. As a result, people start thinking even more that 
>>> information is physical.
>>>    However, letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical 
>>> objects are only carriers or containers of information.
>>>    To understand this better, let us consider a textbook. Is possible to 
>>> say that this book is knowledge? Any reasonable person will tell that the 
>>> textbook contains knowledge but is not knowledge itself. In the same way, 
>>> the textbook contains information but is not information itself. The same 
>>> is true for letters, e-mails, electromagnetic waves and other physical 
>>> objects because all of them only contain information but are not 
>>> information. For instance, as we know, different letters can contain the 
>>> same information. Even if we make an identical copy of a letter or any 
>>> other text, then the letter and its copy will be different physical objects 
>>> (physical things) but they will contain the same information.
>>>    Information belongs to a different (non-physical) world of knowledge, 
>>> data and similar essences. In spite of this, information can act on 
>>> physical objects (physical bodies) and this action also misleads people who 
>>> think that information is physical.
>> OK. The reason is that we can hardly imagine how immaterial or non physical 
>> objects can alter the physical realm. It is the usual problem faced by 
>> dualist ontologies. With Indexical computationalism we recover many 
>> dualities, but they belong to the phenomenologies.
>>>    One more misleading property of information is that people can measure 
>>> it. This brings an erroneous assumption that it is possible to measure only 
>>> physical essences. Naturally, this brings people to the erroneous 
>>> conclusion that information is physical. However, measuring information is 
>>> essentially different than measuring physical quantities, i.e., weight. 
>>> There are no “scales” that measure information. Only human intellect can do 
>>> this.
>> OK. I think all intellect can do that, not just he human one.
>> Now, the reason why people believe in the physical is always a form of the 
>> “knocking table” argument. They knocks on the table and say “you will not 
>> tell me that this table is unreal”.
>> I have got so many people giving me that argument, that I have made dreams 
>> in which I made that argument, or even where I was convinced by that 
>> argument … until I wake up.
>> When we do metaphysics with the scientific method, this “dream argument” 
>> illustrates that seeing, measuring, … cannot prove anything ontological. A 
>> subjective experience proves only the phenomenological existence of 
>> consciousness, and nothing more. It shows that although there are plenty of 
>> strong evidences for a material reality, there are no evidences (yet) for a 
>> primitive or primary matter (and that is why, I think, Aristotle assumes it 
>> quasi explicitly, against Plato, and plausibly against Pythagorus).
>> Mechanism forces a coming back to Plato, where the worlds of ideas is the 
>> world of programs, or information, or even just numbers, since very 
>> elementary arithmetic (PA without induction, + the predecessor axiom) is 
>> already Turing complete (it contains what I have named a Universal 
>> Dovetailer: a program which generates *and* executes all programs).
>> So I agree with you: information is not physical. I claim that if we assume 
>> Mechanism (Indexical computationalism) matter itself is also not *primarily* 
>> physical: it is all in the “head of the universal machine/number” (so to 
>> speak).
>> And this provides a test for primary matter: it is enough to find if there 
>> is a discrepancy between the physics that we infer from the observation, and 
>> the physics that we extract from “the head” of the machine. This took me 
>> more than 30 years of work, but the results obtained up to now is that there 
>> is no discrepancies. I have compared the quantum logic imposed by 
>> incompleteness (formally) on the semi-computable (partial recursive, 
>> sigma_1) propositions, with most quantum logics given by physicists, and it 
>> fits rather well.
>> Best regards,
>> Bruno
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