Re: An idea to resolve the 1st Person/3rd person division mystery - Coarse graining is the answer!?

From: <>
Date: Sun, 06 May 2007 08:14:58 -0000

On May 6, 12:03 am, "Stathis Papaioannou" <> wrote:
> On 04/05/07, <> wrote:
> It seems to me that 'coarse graining' could provide a means for time
> > to 'stratify' into different levels. Now let me elaborate a little.
> > Coarse graining is the 'level of detail' at which we observe reality.
> > If we observe reality 'with a magnifying glass' as it were, we see
> > lots of details. As we 'zoom out' and observe more higher level
> > general features of reality, detailed information is lost. The
> > question is: Is it really true that the higher level descriptions of
> > reality are completely *reducible* to the lower level descriptions of
> > reality? (See for instance 'Non-reductive physicalism'). The idea
> > here is that 'the higher level' dsecriptions come about because of
> > coarse graining and that there are features of these higher level
> > descriptions that are not completely reducible to the lower level
> > descriptions.
> I've looked up "non-reductive physicalism" and it still seems to me an
> oxymoron. Could a person's mental state be different even though his
> physical state is unchanged? If so, then this implies that there is at least
> in part some non-physical process giving rise to consciousness. It may be
> the case, but it isn't physicalism.
> --
> Stathis Papaioannou

Non-reductive materialism *doesn't* say that a person's person state
could be different even though his physical state is unchanged. If it
did, you are right, it wouldn't be materialism. In all forms of
materialism, the person's mental state has to be completely fixed by
the physical state.

What non-reductive materialism *does* say is that high-level
properties of a complex system are not completely reducible to
descriptions in terms of lower level properties. That is, there exist
real (objective) high-level properties of a system which cannot be
replaced by low-level descriptions.

Unfortunately reductionism appears to *the* modern day dogma of
science and it seems to be near impossible to get through to anyone in
the grip of this dogma. 'Eliminative materialism' is all the rage
these days aka Daniel Dennett and co who think that consciousness is
'just a fiction' (even though Dennett uses these same-said high level
cognitive processes to reason his way to his absurd conclusion).

We know for sure (via the argument from indispensability) than there
exist mathematical concepts (for instance uncomputable numbers and
infinite sets) which *cannot* be identified with finite physical
processes. Yet we see great minds desperate to try to deny the
existence of uncomputables (J.Schmidhuber on this very list just
showed up recently and tried to argue that only discrete math is
real!) - even though in fact Cantor put infinite sets on an infallible
footing long ago (and Abraham Robinson did the same for
infinitesimals). See this link for an artilce I wrote giving a quick
demolition of the arguments against infinite sets:

The bottom line is that if infinite sets are real (and they are!)
reductive materialism is false.

But it doesn't stop there: Science itself (via the notion of 'laws of
physics') uses concepts which are supposed to be *universal* in
scope. But universals by definition cannot be empirically identified
with any finite physical concept. Again the very use of universals
('laws of physics') actually falsifies the reductionist claims.

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Received on Sun May 06 2007 - 04:15:10 PDT

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