RE: delayed reply

From: Gilles HENRI <>
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 11:44:34 +0100

>May be you are right. May be not. I suggest you read the marvelous little
>book by Marc Steiner (1998) "The applicability of mathematics as a
>philosophical problem" (Harvard Press). It is a startling defense of
>anthropomorphism based on the developpement of the mathematical formalism
>of QM.
>If you replace "human" by "universal turing machine" you will be very
>near the spirit of my approach. I am a "Universal-machine-morphist" in
>some way. I don't put human at the center of the universe, but I put
>people there, people in the most general, although non trivial, sense
>made possible by Church's Thesis.

I think many philosophical constructions, and especially those of classical
metaphysics like Descartes, Leibniz and so on, ARE marvelous from a
theoretical point of view. What I said is that HISTORICALLY they were
never used to found any practical physical theory, although they may have
influenced our way of thinking. I didn't know Steiner's book, but you must
admit yourself that it has been written 50 years after the mathematical
developments of QM, which were first motivated by empirical facts (hydrogen
spectrum, Davisson and Germer's experiment and so on..). Even Turing's
works were motivated by the technical development of computers That's an
epistemological parenthesis. The only efficient way to select "good"
theories of reality (not mathematical ones) has always been the comparison
with observations, not pure logics.

>James wrote (recently):
>>It seems we're in agreement. You are better placed to spread the gospel of
>>the short program - didn't someone say the 'universe is counting' or
>>something? And you're the best person to complete the all-important
>>Exercice : From the statement
>> "LET A=A+1 GOTO START" generates the universe.
>>Prove (and make precise) that
>> Universes are related to
>> other universes only by correlation,
>> which is a subjective feature.
>>James, Eagle and Serpent.
>Yes the "exercice" is all important with respect to this discussion list.
>Remember Wei Dai's old question:
>You can also try to guess what is missing in a typical "Schmidhuberian"
>reply. (for exemple:

I offer a $1000 prize (seriously) if you succeed in that without adding a
statement beginning like: "And let define a universe as...., a correlation
as ... and a subjective feature as...."
But then you will prove only properties of your formal definitions of
Universes, not of the real Universe! You won't have proven that these
definitions describe correctly our Universe. Which again cannot be proven,
only verified by experiments. Back from ontology to epistemology.

>Let me try to put things another way:
>OBSERVATION gives Standart QM, which is [Schrodinger Eq + Collapse].
>EVERETT Theory is given by an ontology obeying [Schrodinger Eq];
>THEN Everett & Co. gives an phenomenological explanation why we (as
>machines) will observe the Collapse (with the right probability).

Bruno, I disagree with these statements.

1) Observation doesn't give standard QM. It has never contradicted it up to
now, which is different.
2) Everett theory (which is in fact only standard QM free from the logical
unconsistency of collapse) is not an ontology as well. The idea of a
wavefunction of the Universe is not free from ambiguity, and cannot be
considered as an ontology. In fact it is not so diffrent from Bohr's
3) Everett does not explain why we "observe" something (consciously).
Consciousness is never defined in any physical or logical theory.

Received on Fri Mar 19 1999 - 02:49:17 PST

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