Re: Barbour's mistake: An alternative to a timless Platonia

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 15:50:13 +0200

Hi John,

Le 30-sept.-06, à 21:45, <> a écrit :

> Whatever we 'concentrate on' for comprehensibility, is *our* way of
> doing.
> Within our HUMAN comprehension. We cannot concentrate on things we
> cannot
> comprehend.

I don't understand. We do research because there are things which we
don't comprehend with the hope to comprehend them.
We don't comprehend the cosmos but we can look at it and learn things.

> Don't even KNOW such things.

I can know things like pain and pleasure, although there are no theory
which can explain them. But I can look at them and interrogate them.

> We may assume that "there may be
> incomprehensible other features' inaccessible to our human mind, but
> *so*
> they are. So we may say that numbers (??) or comp CAN comprehend more
> than
> we do, but nothing can be said about that 'more' in human discours. We
> cannot even phantasize about 'those' items.

I know that many on this list have a trouble with Godel's
incompleteness theorem. The revolutionary character of such a theorem
is that it explains how numbers and machines (and we are that, once we
assume comp) can apprehend, if not comprehend, their limitations.
Machine can look, well, not right into their blind spot, but on the
border of their blind spot, and discover its creative nature.

> What I referred to is that we cannot detail such unknowables (= the
> incomprehensibles) into our image-composition of the existence.
> How do you know that (those?) numbers HAVE limitations to see?
> My "human prejudice" is the recognition of my limitations.

All what I claim is that this "prejudice" is much more general than
human. Even without the comp assumption we can show that all machine
developing correct theories about themselves will discover such
limitations, and even discover the common mathematical structure of
those limitations. The UDA shows the physical laws come from that.

> If you include into your discours the features comprehensible for the
> numbers or comp (beyond the human one) you must reduce the number- or
> comp
> comprehensibility to a human level to talk about it.

The number comprehensibility is a priori simpler, but then longer.

> Like: To turn infinite into very much/big.

Big finite things are usually more complex than the infinite which has
been introduced mainly for simplifying things.

> Domesticate the wild.
> I find it neither sad nor comical. I find it incomprehensible.

I apologize if I have been a little rough. My point is that many
interventions you are doing fit very nicely with what I try to express
myself, except that I refer to machine's limitations instead of human
limitations (this is natural once we assume the comp hyp.).
Since Post, Godel, Turing, etc. the study of machine's limitation has
become a branch of math and/or computer science, and this gives,
assuming comp, a way to tackle more systematically that limitation
phenomena. Of course this leads to more technical posts. I will perhaps
put some label like [tech] so that people who wants to skip more
technical posts can do it even automatically.
On the contrary the Universal Dovetailer Argument (UDA) needs only a
very minimal amount of computer science, to get the idea of universal
I think most people understand the first seven steps of the eight steps
version of the UDA like in my "SANE" paper. The 8th step is
intrinsically more difficult.


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Received on Tue Oct 03 2006 - 09:51:19 PDT

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