Re: The Game of Life

From: Marchal <>
Date: Tue Dec 21 08:56:31 1999

Gisle Reigstad Tangenes wrote:

>I guess it's time to reveal the terrible secret: Your list is infected by
>a biological naturalist.

Terrible indeed !

>My Searlean objection ...

... and a Searlean one ! You know I have read Searle very carefully.
I like him very much because he looks sincere and he tries very much
to be clear (unsuccesfully IMO). He is one of my favorite exemple
of *deeply* wrong philosopher :-) (at least in philosophy of mind).

> ... to the above brand of functionalism
>is, How can computation as such be sufficient to generate consciousness,
>when it obviously isn't an intrinsic process of any physical system?

>To clarify: There is a distinction between intrinsic and
>observer-relative features of reality. The former include all properties
>that are logically independent of the intentional attributions of
>observers, such as the molecular structure of the object I am sitting on.
>The latter are properties that exist only relative to such attributions,
>such as being a chair. The problem here is that computation, to quote
>Searle, is "not a machine process that like neuron firing or internal
>combustion; rather, computation is an abstract mathematic process that
>exists only relative to conscious observers and interpreters" (*The
>Mystery of Consciousness*, 17).

I am not sure that the distinction between intrinsic and
observer-relative is not itself observer-relative. You take "the
molecular structure" as intrinsic and I will tell you below why
I don't. It seems you take the notion of "physical things" as granted,
but I don't.

But even if there were intrinsic features of physical reality, it is
hard for me to understand how consciousness would rely on it.
What in the brain/body/universe do you think to be intrinsically
necessary for consciousness ? Sodium ions? Carbon atoms? Quark?
Quantum phenomena in microtubules?
(Searle's comparison between aware-thinking and photosynthesis is
really a philosophical category mistake, I think).

>Computation and all other syntax is
>observer-relative, and in one sense exists only from a 1. person point of

Computation has almost nothing to do with syntax, and is not
observer-relative, at all.
To my knowledge it is even the less "observer-relative" thing I can
think about. Perhaps you confuse a computation with your own possible
interpretations of that computation? or with a possible concrete
implementation of that computation.

But before we come to blows, let me try to explain you briefly
my "methodology":

First I *assume* computationnalist as a working hypothesis. I am
open to the idea that comp is false. Perhaps biological naturalism
is the correct approach, despite Searle!

By comp I mean: 1) the idea that there is a level of substitution
such that I survive with a functionnal and digital substitution made
at that level. Unlike so-called functionnalist I don't put any
restriction on the level. My 'brain' could be the whole quantum
multi-universe, my reasoning will still go through;
2) the classical Church thesis. This is very important because it is
Church thesis which make computations intrinsical and
 syntax independent; 3) a minimal amount of arithmetical platonism. I
guess this is maybe unnatural for a biological naturalist. It is
nevertheless the simple idea that arithmetical truth is independant of
me. For exemple the idea that the statement "there is an infinite
number of primes" is true independently of me.

Then with 1), 2) and 3) I prove that physics is necessarily a branch
of the psychology of machine (a science which does not depend on
the choice of the machines thank to Church's thesis).

And this gives us a realm where we can begin to ask, if not
understand, where the laws of physics come from.

I am aware that this entails a complete reversal of the general
current paradigm : it is not consciousness which emerges from
the physical activities, but the exact contrary: matter is a
high emergent concept.
Poetically 'physical realities' are a product of dream sharing, where
a dream is an immaterial (arithmetical) computation viewed from
the 1-points of view.

Received on Tue Dec 21 1999 - 08:56:31 PST

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