Re: Emotions (was: Indeterminism

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2006 16:18:42 +0200

Le 29-juil.-06, à 18:23, David Nyman a écrit :

> "No doctor!" Or rather, it depends what you mean by 'what really
> describes me'. What I have argued is that, at the 'physical' level of
> description, running a hardware-independent computation could never
> 'really describe me' in one of the main senses of 'describe' - to
> demarcate or individualise. This, IMO, is because there are necessary
> isomorphisms to brain function that could not be preserved in a
> hardware-independent implementation (because of the lack of constraint
> on what the hardware is doing).

At this stage you should try to be specific about the reasons why an
hardware independent isomorphism cannot exist, or perhaps you are just
saying that "first person feeling" would not be genuine if they were
not related to some 'physical reality' in which case I could agree.

> However, I would be content that if
> the necessary isomorphisms to brain function at the 'physical' level
> were fully emulated within comp, - i.e. the 'hardware' is itself
> emulated - then 'what really describes me' could be preserved. Of
> course, within comp, all these levels are superposed.

In this list/context "superposed" is perhaps saying too much but those
"level" (which here are better described by person's notion or point of
views) are precisely related.

> Interestingly, to return to the 'doctor' test, our willingness or
> otherwise to undergo this has interesting connections to the
> unnameability of the first person. Even when we believe in the
> 'continuity' of our personhood under these conditions, our interest in
> preserving this continuity can only be sentimental, or possibly moral,
> rather than 'concrete'. Since all 'I's are equally unnameable, we
> should be absolutely agnostic as to which 'I' we are. As comp is
> 'processing' all of us, comp *is* a superposition of all of us.

If you agree, with Lee Corbin, that after a self-duplication(*) you are
both of the reconstitution despite they will have divergent
experiences, then you can be open that there is only one first person,
just experimenting different histories. But strictly speaking this
should remain comp-undecidable and could be a matter of personal
taste/attachment, etc. Here comp can lead to a variety of beliefs and
practices. The key is a bit paradoxal: as long as you don't impose your
version of "personal identity" to others I think you remain coherent
with the necessary comp modesty in those matters. But there is a sense
in which comp superposes us all, like the quantum without collapse.

(*) comp makes it possible that you are "read and cut" in Brussels, and
"pasted" in both Beijing and Kigali, say. Such self-fuplication are
well-suited to illustrate the difference between 1 and 3 person point
of view. This leads to a notion of 1-person indeterminacy, and
'hardware' should emerge (and emerges, albeit slowly) from a possible
measure of relative self-indeterminacy.

> I will read with interest (although it may well be beyond my
> mathematical grasp). However, how do you feel about my suggestion
> above that comp (being the superposition of all persons - the
> 'context' in which personhood arises) - is by this token essentially
> 'personal'?

I am not sure. Feel free to dig in that direction, but it seems to me
it is easier to accept some sharable part of 3-mathematics and build
from that. Especially when we have an unavoidable self-reference for a
vast class of machines. Thanks to Turing & Co. we can see, like Godel
already saw in 1933, that godelian self-reference cannot describe a
knower, but then, using some math trick we can define a knower in term
of self-reference+ truth which provides a good candidate for a notion
of first person (even unameable by the machine). Somehow a "physical
reality" is what Number-Nature needs for entangling closely enough the
many possible independent computations, so as to made first person
stable and partially sharable. *many*-worlds prevent such approaches
against solipsism.
Perhaps I agree that the context in which particular personhood arises
is first person (plural), but the context in which personhood per se
arise is eventually "reducible" to the behavior of the roots of a
universal diophantine polynomial (or choose your favorite turing
universal systems).

> No, I'm prepared to believe in the 3-reality of numbers plus the
> independent personal reality of the number domain. IMO, only in the
> presence of such personal reality could individual personhood be
> structured and demarcated though numbers.


> As I have suggested above, I would rather postulate that the number
> domain is personal, than that some (theological?) first person
> constructed them. Numbers are then 'primitive' in that we do not need
> anything else to account for the appearances we observe. Within this,
> IMO, personal point-of-view would be a function of structural
> relationships and demarcation.

All right.

> We may be getting 'terminological' again. IMO, if 'many persons and
> their many worlds' can arise, then the context in which this occurs is
> 'personal'. 'Numbers together with their additive and multiplicative
> structure' sounds like a nice abstraction, but for it to do the
> necessary work, this concept must refer to a context in which personal
> reality exists.

Mmh... Danger of getting in circle here. Given that I work and write
with 3-propositions, I cannot follow you here. To be simple the comp
ontology would be Numbers, then a Universal Diophantine Equation (or
any turing universal system), then many computations some involving
self-referentially correct machine (relatively to their most probable
computations "bearing" them). Those will develop by incompleteness a
first person (always basically frustrated solipsistic person wanting to
control everything: some times I call it the barbarian), and luckily
enough in hopefully non solipsistic context the third person point of
view (the one able to conceive and listen to some other possible first
person view albeit in that indirect ways relying on third person/first
person plural phones).
That eventually there is a duality making it possible to choose the
first person point of view as the most basic one cannot yet be entirely
ruled out for sure, but comp and the quantum without collapse makes it
as unlikely imo.

> No, I mean (as I have mentioned above), that if comp emulated the
> 'hardware', then the isomorphisms could be preserved at the (emulated)
> 'physical level. Hence this does not violate the primitivity of
> numbers.

OK, but do you see this moves invite you to provide a definition of
"first person" in third person term. Comp succeeds partially, but then
justified completely why its success cannot be but partial. Indeed
eventually the physical appearances emerges from the never completely
specifiable border of the person.
The platonic number does not emerge, and I agree they are mysterious,
but here too we can understand that we cannot infer our beliefs in them
from any weaker beliefs.

>> Careful with wishful thinking.
> I am, I hope, always careful, especially with wishful thinking (is
> this an example of recursion?)

If this is wishful thinking, then this an example of recursion. But
then that's not wishful thinking, so it is not an example of recursion.
But then it is wishful thinking ...
... and then it is certainly an example of meta-recursion ... (I will
stop here ;)


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Received on Sun Jul 30 2006 - 10:20:51 PDT

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