Re: Dreams and Machines

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 13:29:37 +0200

On 23 Jul 2009, at 01:18, David Nyman wrote:

> 2009/7/22 Bruno Marchal <>:
>>> explanatory redundancy. Hence I'm a monist (or a non-dualist) who -
>>> given the singular incorrigibility of first-person 'experiential
>>> reality' - concludes that though whatever underlies remains forever
>>> *unknowable* it must nonetheless perforce be 'real in the sense
>>> that I
>>> am real' (RITSIAR - a gnomic acronym that has surfaced before on
>>> this
>>> list).
>> Hmm... OK. Nice. Not completely convinced yet.
> Let's try to be clear(!) I don't intend 'RITSIAR' to refer merely to
> the 1-person, but to the 0-person and all the other persons you can
> think of. Why? Because given that "I" am indubitably RITSIAR, then
> whatever "I" emerge from must also subsist in a status that is also
> RITSIAR in some uneliminable *ontological* sense. Naturally I don't
> intend by this that either the One, or 3-person descriptions,
> literally call themselves "I", but rather that what is ontologically
> RITSIAR in the 1-person is irreducibly so in the whole, and vice
> versa. As an analogy, if - merely for the sake of argument - we were
> to choose to ascribe fundamental 'materiality' to the world', then we
> also must consistently hold that all and any constituent parts and
> sub-wholes subsist in ontological 'materiality' by the same token.
> Not to do this would be equivalent to accepting sudden non-linear
> step-changes in *ontological* status merely as a function of scale -
> which AFAICS is incoherent - i.e. I wouldn't have a clue what this
> could possibly mean.
> I don't want us to talk past each other merely on the basis of
> incommensurable jargon - if there's anything I can do to make this
> point clearer, I'll go on trying.

I think I do agree with you. The problem is more pedagogical. RITSIAR
involves the notion of "I", which is *very* delicate. Some will
identify "I" with the body, and concludes that "I" is material, for

>>> 1) The unknowable is singular (i.e symmetrical, holistic,
>>> indivisible:
>>> e.g. Plotinus' One)
>> "unknowable"?
>> or unprovable, uncommunicable, that is unbelievable, unjustifiable.
> Here I'm saying that the *undifferentiated* One is unknowable, because
> 'knowing' is here posited precisely to subsist in differentiated
> ways-of-being adopted by the One *posterior* to its bare,
> undifferentiated 'presence'. Hence, this 'bare presence' or personal
> ground is a priori both unknowing and unknowable. 'Knowledge'
> subsists in the multiplicity of distinguished ways-of-being that
> emerge from the bare presence of the One: i.e.
> 'getting-a-grip-on-Oneself'.

Again, I do agree with you. Again you refer to "knowability", a term
on which philosophers fight since millenaries.

>> The excluded middle principle is what you need to think and dream
>> about what you build, and what can follow, and talk on it with
>> others.
>> You need it somehow to believe in another one. Also, it prevents not
>> the falsity of solipsism, but the falsity of any doctrinal (3-
>> communicable) solipsism.
> I'm not abandoning the principle, rather I was pointing to the fact
> that in analysis at this level, there is something deeply mysterious -
> apparently paradoxical in terms of mutually exclusive 'opposites' -
> about a 'seamless' unity nevertheless being 'differentiable'.

Sure. Plotinus wrote many chapter on this. How could the ONE be
responsible for the MANY without lying to its own nature. Difficult

> As a
> matter of personal psychological compulsion, I feel it necessary to
> point this out, to forestall someone else asking "how can you claim
> that 'parts' ultimately subsist in the context of a 'seamless' whole?"
> If you like, I consider myself to be a sort of dualist in this sense:
> that there seems to me ultimately to be an inescapable duality
> (meaning two irreducible ways of being) between intuitions of 'whole'
> and 'part'.

You are right. My problem is that I have a theory, so I can provide
answer in the frame of that theory. I can show that correct machine
can guess ONE = MANY, and I can show they are bound to discover things

(ONE = MANY) entails I will never be able to understand that (ONE =

> Once we have reasoned as far as we can in terms of
> 'ultimates', we're left with nothing to 'separate' the 'whole' into
> 'parts'. If we believe we can 'actually' *sever* the 'whole', what do
> we suppose 'lies between' the 'parts' (e.g. the old notion of 'atoms
> in the void')? Nothing? One may simply say that this of course is
> the well known tension between intuitions of the 'continuous' and the
> 'discrete'. But at this level of discourse, there seems to be
> something wrong that can't be fixed by invoking higher-order 'limit'
> theories unavailable even in principle at this depth of analysis.

I think that you are right. But of course I can only say: I think your
intuition fits well in the comp theory (when it is taken seriously).

> Nonetheless, the unknowable - unknowably - somehow resolves this
> paradox. But maybe I'm the only one who cares about this. Or maybe
> it's just gibberish.

Almost! Yet I do agree. The consistency of machine theology comes from
the fact that its main part is not provable by the machine on which
the theology applies. Like Plotinus or Proclus theology, machine's
theology is negative. We have to have faith in those truth, and the
faith eventually is reduced to some self-involvment in "yes-doctor"
practical kind of things, when we assume the comp theory.

>>> 8) Taken together, 5, 06 and 07 collapse into a basic intuition of
>>> existence as - always and everywhere - constituted by a 'personal
>>> self-actualisation' which is posited to be characteristic of reality
>>> 'from the ground up'.
>> ? This belongs to the incommunicable part. If you communicate it, you
>> bet on the existence of someone else, and on something sharable. But
>> then you do science, and in honest science you share only doubts.
>> Do you see what I see?
>> Do you believe what I believe?
> Hm, I think there may be a misstep in emphasis here. The key
> intuition, which I was deriving step-by-step up to that point, is that
> whatever it is that we take to be 'real' or 'existent' - and by that
> token fundamentally RITSIAR - must thereby be both 'personally
> present' and 'self-actualising'.

This is fuzzy. I can agree, and I can disagree.

> In my terms, this would have to be
> so whether we take RITSIAR to be based on Number, 'matter' or
> spiritual green cheese. I agree this isn't science, and hence is
> 'immodest' or theological - or guesswork. But nevertheless I can't
> make any sense out of science or any other attempt to account for what
> I (or you) see or what I (or you) believe unless I ground this in such
> intuitions. Can't help it. And you're going to say 'yes, the Lobian
> machine would say exactly that'! But does that mean that such an
> intuition isn't in some deep sense foundational? And hence that it is
> - in that foundational sense - explanatorily 'true'?

This is a very difficult point. Where the machine will say "I am not a
machine", and where we have to acknowledge she is 100% right. But how
could a machine be right when saying "I am not a machine"? This is due
to the fact that the first person associated to the machine (the
knower) is indeed not a machine from the machine first person point of
The beauty is that, although seemingly very paradoxal, the comp math
here can give a precise and transparent sense to such talk.

>> I prefere the phrasing "is the truth of an arithmetical statement,
>> like "there is no biggest prime number" true (or false) dependent of
>> you?" I don't think it is RITSIAR, although only RITSIAR can really
>> appreciate it here and now.
> Yes, I know you prefer this phrasing, and I'm going to say that this
> is the nub of some of the most intractable debates that have gone on
> in this list since it started. The burden of what I've been arguing
> above is that if you want to ground reality, existence, being or
> whatever cognate you like on any intuition whatsoever, then that
> intuition must be credibly RITSIAR - not merely 1-person subsets of
> it, but the whole 0-person superset.

You may be right. I have no answer on this (yet).

> If RITSIAR isn't there from the
> start - i.e. if it's not the basic ontology - then it can't be 'jammed
> in' at a later stage. Consequently, if you want to rest your
> 'numerical ontology' on 'truth', then 'truth' is your foundational
> criterion of 'what is RITSIAR': i.e. 'present and self-actualising'.
> IOW, it would have to be the case that "I" - the 1-person - and the
> One in which "I" subsist, are RITSIAR entirely in virtue of such
> present and self-actualising 'truth'. And moreover such truth is a
> *necessary* or tautological truth - it doesn't depend on contingent
> existence in the sense that 'matter' might. Hence it 'conjures'
> worlds into existence merely in virtue of its truth.

Yes, I agree. But it is dangerous talk, it is near the truth which
become false when asserted. Assuming comp, we can bypass such
"danger", by studying the "theology" of a simple machine which
simplicity provides us with the knowledge that the machine (by
construction) will be consistent and (arithmetically sound). Then we
can lift that theology on ourself, by making explicit both the comp
assumption, and the "hope" we are arithmetically sound. If not, we
became inconsistent. I think that theology *is* the scientific field
which requires the utter most rigor. It invites to many travels "near
Here I should not say "I agree". I should say that, in case I am
arithmetically sound and comp is true, my "guardian angel (G*)" would
agree with you, but *I* can't.

> Now I'm not at this point (or perhaps at any point) arguing
> conclusively against such a notion of 'existence'. I just want to
> know if you think that this line of argument is invalid or incoherent
> and not just that it is 'predictably Lobian'!

It is coherent as far as you are aware of some "bets" or "hopes". It
is a question which provides the answer, as far as it remains a

>>> In other words, does this view hold that the ineluctable,
>>> independent
>>> 'necessity' of mathematical 'truth' is capable of, as it were, of
>>> *invoking* 'what is' - thereby resolving the Wittgensteinian
>>> mystery:
>>> "that the world is"?
>> With a gap. But with an explanation why there is a gap, and then
>> there
>> is the beautifulness of the geometry of the gap, and of the nature of
>> the gap, ...
> Is this a contradiction of what I just said above?

Not at all.

>>> That is, our discovery of its actual
>>> presence, prior to time and space, necessarily - radically -
>>> excludes
>>> its non-presence, but nonetheless we retain the intuition (perhaps
>>> incoherently) that - counter factually - it 'might not have been
>>> thus
>>> present'?
>> I will read this sentence ten times before breakfast. Gosh, that's an
>> hard one.
> Sorry, perhaps I'm making it harder to say than need be. I'm
> contrasting 'contingent existence' - i.e. the fact that we believe 'a
> world' to exist when in some sense 'it might not have existed' - with
> the kind of 'tautological' or 'arithmetical' necessity that I
> described above. Perhaps you don't accept the distinction, but it
> appears to me that your resting your case on the 'truth' of
> mathematical assertions as a proxy for 'existence' is tantamount to
> conjuring the world through 'necessity'. Neat trick. Maybe right.
> Dunno.
> In my own analysis, as described above, Arithmetical Reality would
> needs be grounded in a foundational 'duality' deriving from the
> logically prior 'bare presence' of the One. I would further say that
> the presence of the One is contingent: i.e. although its presence
> definitively rules out its absence, one still can't say that in such
> absence its presence would have been 'necessary'.

This could be related to the fact that we cannot prove the existence
of numbers. Our belief in numbers remains a complete mystery. But we
can conceive their absence, like we can decide to be ultrafinitist and
we can decide in non believing in comp, and all that. That is why comp
is a theory, that is, an object of doubt. RITSIAR is not. RITSIAR lead
to certainty. It lives in the land of the knower. With comp, the
knower knows, but has to stay mute. The intellect does not know as
such, but can talk, and remains coherent by adding the interrogation

> (Note to self -
> perhaps this is trying to stretch what is sayable beyond breaking
> point). Thus 'dualised presence', manifesting self-motivatedly and
> self-referentially, is basic to what is RITSIAR in everything that
> follows. The schema itself is describable and justifiable within the
> limits you specify in terms of AR etc. But in the end I would say
> that my 'bet' is that this is a descriptive schema the 'realisation'
> of which subsists in the 'dualised presence' of the One. In other
> words, we can't dispense with either theology or science: which is
> just fine!
>>> Easy, eh?
>> I didn't expect this one.
> We call this irony!
>> Sure, nice post. You still seem to reify a bit the third hypostase,
>> the universal self, the god within. It is an important one, but comp
>> makes it possible to take the ONE as a zero-person being, more like
>> "the truth" (on the machine). Then the other hypostases "emerge" or
>> "emanate" (to use Plotinus' word) from it, with their communicable
>> and
>> incommunicable statements.
> See what I mean? When you phrase it as you do above, I feel that
> we're 'violently agreeing', except that you insist on the One as being
> 'more like "the truth" as opposed to 'reification'.

This is due to the contingent and uninteresting fact that many
attributes me some original theory, when I build on a theory which
every scientist agree on, except Penrose. Some believe that
arithmetical realism presuppose a sort of realm where 0, 1, 2, 3, ...
exist in some loaded metaphysical sense, where I use 0, 1, 2, 3, ...
in the same sense that in any part of math.

> Maybe in the end
> this is just semantics. Indeed I'm not trying to say that the One is
> 'any thing'. I might be content to say that "the truth" equates to
> what is present and self-actualising, in the basic senses I attempt to
> attribute to it above, and that this is a sufficient basis for
> deriving the knowable and provable aspects of 'what is RITSIAR' whilst
> at least being able to refer in some sense to its deeper
> unknowablility.

You may be right, and we may differ only on the methodology. I try to
avoid any introspective notion of truth. Of course, when studying
consciousness, this is difficult, and I have to invoke at least one
introspective 'act' at some point. I do this by the "yes doctor" in
the comp frame. I bet my "RITSIAR" remains invariant for some
transformation of my body, whatever it is, and then I try to deduce
things. I do think that we 'violently' agree on where we can be lead,
but differ perhaps with the practical goal. My goal is addressing the
usual scientists, and showing them that we have still a lot of work to
do for solving, as much as possible, the mind body problem. Indeed, we
have to recover the whole physical appearance from one (or many)
modalities of self-reference. And then, this makes the comp theory
testable in the rather accepted sense of Popperian test.


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Received on Thu Jul 23 2009 - 13:29:37 PDT

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