RE: Are First Person prime?

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 12:06:50 +1000

Peter Jones writes:

> Computer programmes contain conditional (if-then) statements. A given
> run of
> the programme will in genreal not explore every branch. yet the
> unexplored
> branches are part of the programme. A branch of an if-then statement
> that is
> not executed on a particular run of a programme will constitute a
> counterfactual,
> a situation that could have happened but didn't. Without
> counterfactuals you
> cannot tell which programme (algorithm) a process is implementing
> because
> two algorithms could be have the same execution path but different
> unexecuted branches.

Every physical system contains if-then statements. If the grooves on the record were different,
then the sound coming out of the speakers would also be different.

> Finitism doesn't imply stasis. New frames could be popping into
> existence
> dynamically.
> > If time is continuous then in a linear universe movement is the
> > result of a series of static frames of infinitesimal duration.
> Likewise.
> > There is no room for movement within
> > a frame in either case -
> There is room within an infinitessimal frame. dx/dt is not necessarily
> zero.

No-one knows what dx/dt is. It is the smallest non-zero number, or the reciprocal of the
largest finite number. If there is room for movement within an infinitesimal interval then
it can by definition be divided up further - it isn't an infinitesimal interval. However, this is
straying from the original point I wanted to make, which is that whatever reasons there
might be against block universe theories, continuity of consciousness is not one of them.
Every digital computer has clock cycles during which nothing actually "happens", and it is
the conjunction of these cycles which makes the program "flow". There is no way from
within the program to know what the clock rate is, if there are pauses in the program, or
if it is being run in several parallel processes. You might argue that it would not be possible
to run the program at all without a causal connection between the steps, but the fact
remains, discontinuous framesd during which nothing changes give the illusion of continuous

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sun Aug 20 2006 - 22:08:43 PDT

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