Re: Asifism

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 14:10:01 +0200

Le 10-juin-07, à 01:49, David Nyman a écrit :

> On Jun 9, 2:10 pm, Bruno Marchal <> wrote:
>> Le 08-juin-07, à 18:39, Jef Allbright a écrit :
>> I don't believe that people in this list would take consciousness as a
>> primary reality, except perhaps those who singles out the third
>> "universal soul" hypostasis (the first person, alias the one described
>> by Bp & p in the lobian interview) like George Levy, David, etc.
> Since my name has popped up I'll stop lurking and come clean! I've
> been thinking about this again since reading Galen Strawson's recent
> defence of 'panpsychism' in "Consciousness and its place in Nature".
> His view is that any 'emergent' phenomenon must supervene on
> fundamental properties of the same type - e.g. 'liquidity' is a
> characteristic behaviour of a fluid that simply supervenes on the
> objective characteristics of its constituent molecules, which in turn
> supervenes on quantum-level phenomena and so on down to superstrings
> or whatever. But there is no analogous narrative in which it is
> correspondingly obvious that 1st-person *experience* should ever
> 'emerge' from any objective or 3rd-person description, in his view.
> Also in mine. Reviewing some of my earlier posts on this subject, I
> would now say that my view is that our 1st-person experience is
> privileged direct evidence (i.e. the *only* direct evidence we have)
> that we, and all phenomena of which we are aware, emerge through
> differentiation of a subjective existential field. Such
> differentiation may be termed 'sense-action', because it is
> simultaneously the self-sensing relationships of (what Strawson terms)
> 'ultimates' (e.g. vibrational strings) that emerge through
> differentiation, and the source of all action and structure. We
> abstract our notion of 'physical law' from the inter-relations of such
> ultimates, but it is crucial that we do not concretise such 'law' as
> some real superadded influence introjected from 'outside' the
> existential field. Rather, we take the field for what it is, and
> accept that it feels and does as we find it. This is simply wielding
> Occam's razor with precision to prevent an infinite regress of
> 'explanation'. Ultimately, to preserve the appearances, existence must
> necessarily be self-actualising , self-motivating, and self-sensing.
> By rooting sense-action in the ultimates, we can now embed our own
> intuitive sensing and motivation firmly where it needs to be in
> ultimate reality. Fundamentally, we do what we do for (something
> like) the reasons we believe, and we feel what we feel because that is
> (something like) how reality ultimately feels about it. Our actions
> emerge from ultimate action, and our sensing emerges from ultimate
> sensing. This is crucial for questions of 'free will' and suffering
> (which I do not put in scare quotes). Our 'will' is a complex
> emergent of ultimate will-to-action, and our painful experiences are
> directly inherited from underlying layers of sense-action that
> simultaneously motivate our consequential actions.
> By contrast, the 'non-conscious' zombie is existentially and causally
> disconnected - as postulated, it is abstracted from sense-action; it
> cannot see, hear, or feel and hence cannot enact (except in *our*
> imagination). No self-sensing = no relationship = no action. The
> poor creature is a free-standing 'physical abstraction' - the
> uninhabited husk of a self-actualised subject. It's the notion you're
> left with when you posit an 'externalised world' (i.e. a model) in
> pure intellectual abstraction from concrete self-actualisation.

Up to here comp basically agree (modulo misunderstanding of my part,
I mean that what you say is not just consistent with comp (which is not
a lot after Godel: even inconsistency is consistent with comp!) but
probably near truth.

>> With comp neither matter nor mind can be taken as primitive or primary
>> reality.
> My approach proposes something like a fundamental subjective field as
> 'primitive' (in an Occamish way). Such a field is not yet mind nor
> matter, but both 'mind' and 'matter' emerge from it through
> differentiation, with characteristics that supervene naturally on
> those proposed as primitive. That is: its fundamental action is self-
> motivated and self-sensing, and consequently all complex emergents are
> experienced as self-motivated and self-sensing.

Well, perhaps OK, unless by field you assume geometry at the start.
(Geometry like physics is secondary with comp).
You could perhaps elaborate of what you mean by field.

> If valid, this
> approach is a knock-down argument against the equation of
> consciousness with computation.

Careful: comp cannot equate consciousness and computation. It can only
"equate" consciousness with higher order emergent modality (emergent on
a continuum of computations).

> The reason is that computational
> 'causation' depends on the introjection of 'rules' from a context
> external to the computed 'world',

I don't see why.

> and hence loses contact both with
> intrinsic causal self-motivation and the fundamental linkage of felt-
> sense and action.

You are quick here ...

> Hence any felt-sense a computer may possess as a
> concrete object must necessarily be independent of whatever purely
> programmed 'actions' it may be instantiating.

I do agree here. It fits comp ...

> Also, the notion of,
> say, a rock implementing any computation, and hence potentially any
> attached consciousness, is likewise struck down by the lack of
> coordination between ultimate sense-action and the notional
> computational content.

I agree, but this remains to be verified with comp. Indeed it is part
of what makes comp testable empirically.

> I've written the above fairly quickly and it's probably not very well
> expressed, but if anyone's interested I'd be happy to debate and
> enlarge. But it expresses why I think Torgny's position is absolutely
> untenable.

We do agree on that (although with comp Torgny's position is, like
first person solipsism, quasi undecidable).

> If he were 'unconscious' as he claims he would be a
> zombie, and hence, abstracted from the reality of sense-action, he
> would exist only in our imaginations.

I see your point and tend to agree. BTW, note that the Bohm
intepretation of QM is full of zombie of that kind. Without comp,
sorry, but I would much less agree with you on this point.

After Godel, Lob, .... I do think that comp is the best we can hope to
"save" the notion of consciousness, free will, responsibility, qualia,
(first)-persons, and many notions like that. Tthe "only" price: the
notion of matter looses is fundamental character, and we have to
explain matter without postulating it as usual ...). We have to come
back (assuming comp) to Plato, or better Plotinus, Proclus, ...

But I realize that few people really swallow Godel, Lob ... and
mathematical logic (except mathematical logicians). I guess that is
perhaps the real difficulty here.


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Received on Sun Jun 10 2007 - 08:10:15 PDT

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