RE: UDA revisited

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 20:42:34 +1100

David Nyman writes:
> You're right - it's muddled, but as you imply there is the glimmer of
> an idea trying to break through. What I'm saying is that the
> 'functional' - i.e. 3-person description - not only of the PZ, but of
> *anything* - fails to capture the information necessary for PC. Now,
> this isn't intended as a statement of belief in magic, but rather that
> the 'uninstantiated' 3-person level (i.e. when considered abstractly)
> is simply a set of *transactions*. But - beyond the abstract - the
> instantiation or substrate of these transactions is itself an
> information 'domain' - the 1-person level - that in principle must be
> inaccessible via the transactions alone - i.e. you can't see it 'out
> there'. But by the same token it is directly accessible via
> instantiation - i.e. you can see it 'in here'
> For this to be what is producing PC, the instantiating, or
> constitutive, level must be providing whatever information is necessary
> to 'animate' 3-person transactional 'data' in phenomenal form, and in
> addition whatever processes are contingent on phenomenally-animated
> perception must be causally effective at the 3-person level (if we are
> to believe that possessing PC actually makes a difference). This seems
> a bit worrying in terms of the supposed inadmissability of 'hidden
> variables' in QM (i.e the transactional theory of reality).
> Notwithstanding this, if what I'm saying is true (which no doubt it
> isn't), then it would appear that information over and above what is
> manifested transactionally would be required to account for PC, and for
> whatever transactional consequences are contingent on the possession of
> PC.
> Just to be clear about PZs, it would be a consequence of the foregoing
> that a functionally-equivalent analog of a PC entity *might* possess
> PC, but that this would depend critically on the functional
> *substitution level*. We could be confident that physical cloning
> (duplication) would find the right level, but in the absence of this,
> and without a theory of instantiation, we would be forced to rely on
> the *behaviour* of the analog in assessing whether it possessed PC.
> But, on reflection, this seems right.
You seem to be implying that there is "something" in the instantiation which
cannot be captured in the 3rd person description. Could this something just
be identified as "the raw feeling of PC from the inside", generated by perfectly
well understood physics, with no causal effects of its own?
Let me give a much simpler example than human consciousness. Suppose that
when a hammer hits a nail, it groks the nail. Grokking is not something that can
be explained to a non-hammer. There is no special underlying physics: whenever
momentum is transferred from the hammer to the nail, grokking necessarily occurs.
It is no more possible for a hammer to hit a nail without grokking it than it is
possible for a hammer to hit a nail without hitting it. Because of this, it doesn't
really make sense to say that grokking "causes" anything: the 3rd person
describable physics completely defines all hammer-nail interactions, which is why
we have all gone through life never suspecting that hammers grok.
The idea of a zombie (non-grokking) hammer is philosophically problematic. We would
have to invoke magic to explain how of two physically identical hammers doing identical
things, one is a zombie and the other is normal. (There is no evidence that there is
anything magic about grokking. Mysterious though it may seem, it's just a natural part
of being a hammer). Still, we can imagine that God has created a zombie hammer,
indistinguishable from normal hammers no matter what test we put it through. This would
imply that there is some non-third person describable aspect of hammers responsible for
their ability to grok nails. OK: we knew that already, didn't we? It is what makes grokking
special, private, and causally irrelevant from a third person perspective.
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Wed Nov 29 2006 - 04:44:16 PST

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