Re: Dreaming On

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 11:22:23 +0200

On 10 Aug 2009, at 02:59, David Nyman wrote:

> 2009/8/7 Bruno Marchal <>:
>>>>> If it isn;t RITSIAR, it cannot be generating me. Mathematical
>>>>> proofs only prove mathematical "existence", not onltolgical
>>>>> existence. For a non-Platonist , 23 "exists" mathematically,
>>>>> but is not RITSIAR. The same goes for the UD
>>>> Is an atom RITSIAR? Is a quark RITSIAR?
>>> If current physics is correct.
>> Then it is not "RITSIAR" in the sense of the discussion with David.
>> Real in the sense that "I" am real. is ambiguous.
>> Either the "I" refers to my first person, and then I have ontological
>> certainty.
>> As I said on FOR, I can conceive that I wake up and realize that
>> quark, planet, galaxies and even my body were not real. I cannot
>> conceive that I wake up and realize that my consciousness is not
>> real.
>> Ontological first person does not need an "IF this or that theory is
>> correct".
>> You are reifying theoretical constructions.
> I think need to take a hard line on RITSIAR. I feel that the key lies
> in what Bruno terms the certainty of the ontological first person
> (OFP): i.e. the sine qua non of reality as it is uniquely available to
> us.

I thought you were using "RITSIAR" in this 1-person way. But it seems
Peter Jones was using in in a 3-person way. But all the 3-things
belong to the realm of the dubitable, and none can be real in the
sense I am real.
I can know that I am real, but I cannot *know* for sure that I have
fingers, or that I am made of atom, or that my hair are brown. This
"knowledge" is of the conjectural, theoretical type.

> Since this is inescapably the foundation of any and all
> judgements whatsoever, it is simultaneously both the both point of
> departure and the 'what-is-to-be-explained' of RITSIAR.

"to-be-explained" means to be explained in a theory. I show that comp
leads to a simple theory for the ontology (any universal machine, like
a tiny fragment of arithmetic will do), and a slightly less simple
epistemology (arithmetic + the induction axiom, so that we get the
self-awareness theorem: Bp -> BBp (if I believe p, I believe that I
believe p).

> In this light
> it becomes self-evident that any and all explanatory entities -
> physical, computational, or whatever - are severely restricted to the
> domain of epistemology.

I don't see why. I would not put arithmetic in epistemology, or only
in a very large sense of epistemology, the epistemology of the 0-
person views!. It seems clearer to accept them ontologically like in
the usual practice of math. Could be only a vocabulary problem here.

> IOW - as Bruno says above - they are
> theoretical constructions.

Yes, but this does not mean those construction does not refer to
something real independently of us, and this is what I assume for
comp. Even if the whole existence get annihilated, 17 would still be

> So far so obvious. But - as has again been recognised immemorially -
> solipsism is a dead-end and hence we seek a theory to capture the
> relation between the OFP and its environment. But immediately we are
> faced with the notorious 'explanatory gap', and it seems to me that
> its most precise expression is in the gap between ontology and
> epistemology. Indeed, what conceivable strategy could raise these
> theoretical constructions - to which the OFP uniquely lends existence
> - to the ontological certainty of their host? Is there a coherent way
> to conceive what it could mean to *be* a theoretical entity (as
> opposed to postulating or observing one)?

It is the point of saying "yes" to the doctor. You don't say yes
because the new brain is a good modelisation of your brain, but
because you bet it will enact yourself completely, relatively to the

> There is something
> quintessential that stubbornly eludes capture, because epistemological
> access never tells us what an entity *is* - only what can be
> ascertained of its 'externalised' properties. And lest we be tempted
> to accept the sum of these properties as exhausting 'existence', we
> need only turn to the self-evident corrective of the OFP.
> So the gap must remain, and I think that now I see why Bruno appeals
> simply to the 'ordinary' mathematical sense of existence - because
> COMP, under this analysis, is an epistemological schema, and its
> entities are theoretical constructions.

You may confuse the reality of number, and the reality of machine/
theories talking about those numbers. Numbers are not viewed as
theoretical construction. The theoretical construction are our
theories on the numbers. It simplifies things.

> Hence the question of jumping
> the ontological gap is in abeyance, perhaps permanently, but in any
> case in the realm of faith.

All theories demands faith, but the faith needed for understanding
that 17 is prime is not comparable to the act of faith needed to say
yes to the doctor.

> And if this is true for COMP, then
> mutatis mutandis it is true for physics.

This is hard for many people, because our faith in a physical worlds
relies on billions years of prejudice. Only the greeks, from -500 to
+500, have dare to doubt it, and this gave rise to science, including
theology. But Aristotle, and mainly its middle age disciples have
reintroduced the naturalist dogma.

> It's no use appealing to
> notions of 'what it's like to be a brain' - nor what it's like to be a
> COMP-quale - because we can never say that it is 'like anything to be'
> the stuff of epistemology.

Assuming comp we can still say that it is like you feel right now.
Only zombie cannot understand, but if they are good zombie, they will
have no problem to fake that they understand.

> Hence we must see our theorising and
> observing - in physical, computational, or whatever terms - *in
> relation* to ontological certainty, not as constitutive of it.

That's right.

> This
> necessarily weakens what can be ascertained by theory or by
> observation, but at least keeps us honest.
> The unavoidable consequence of the foregoing is that atoms, quarks and
> numbers cannot be RITSIAR.

I thought this was obvious.

> Rather, they stand in some theoretical
> relation to RITSIAR, but strictly on the epistemological side of the
> explanatory gap. They are 'real as far as theory takes us', or if
> further jargon is unavoidable: RAFATTU.

Well frankly this will depend of the first "T" of RAFATTU. It depends
of the theory.
With the comp theory, quarks, electrons, planet and galaxies are not
ontologically real.
With string theory, they may be real.

>>>> The point is just that IF you survive "in the RITSIAR" sense,
>>>> with a
>>>> digital (even material, if you want) brain, then materiality has to
>>>> be
>>>> retrieved by coherence or gluing property of immaterial
>>>> computation,
>>>> or there is an error in the UD Argument.
>>> It is not clear what you mean by that. If I am transferred from a
>>> phsycial
>>> brain into a physcial computer, physicalism is unscathed. Your
>>> argument
>>> against physcialism is that is unnecessary because something else
>>> is doing the work --
>> My argument is not that. From what you say, I infer that you
>> understand the seven first steps of the UD-Argument.
>> You seem to have a problem with the 8th step, which is the step
>> showing that no "work" is needed at all. The usual number relations
>> do
>> the work, and this without any need to reify them.
> See above.
>>> But you have to assume Platonism to get your UDA, so you have to
>>> assume Platonism to refute physicalism. Without that assumption, the
>>> rest doesn't follow.. It is step 0.
>> Do I need platonism to believe in the existence of prime numbers? I
>> need only the amount of arithmetical realism for saying that the
>> (mathematical) machine x stop or doesn't stop on input y. This is
>> enough for the computational supervenience. And physical
>> supervenience
>> does not work, as the step 08 of UDA shows.
> And again.
>> It is a relief for me to see that you did look at the papers, and
>> realise I do not postulate platonism, only realism. So now you have
>> to
>> attribute this assumption as an implicit assumption. I'm afraid that
>> such an implicit assumption exists only in your imagination.
>> You reify a physical primitive reality to instantiate consciousness,
>> and you attribute me a reification of the numbers to get the same,
>> but
>> the point of step 8 is to show that such a reification, be it with
>> matter or number, cannot work.
> My argument against the *physical* instantiation of a computational
> mind (i.e. in any non-eliminative sense) rests on the claim that the
> very arbitrariness of possible physical instantiations of a given
> computation (cf Hofstadter) violates the criterion of direct
> supervention on *specific* physical entities and relations from which
> a class of emergent phenomena inherits physical - as opposed to merely
> mental (and hence egregiously question-begging) - stability.

I think that this what the movie graph argument makes necessary.

> Naturally, all this is per physics as ordinarily understood.
> Tolerating such a violation is tantamount to accepting (and this is
> notoriously claimed by Hofstadter et al) that *any* arbitrarily
> assembled set of physical entities deemed to be in the required
> 'functional' relation (e.g. - famously - in an anthill) necessarily
> stabilises exactly the same 'mental state'. AFAICS this is by itself
> quite sufficient to reveal such a 'mind' as intrinsically unphysical -
> and a fortiori un-RITSIAR.

Hmm... things are more subtle, but in a first approximation this can
be useful.
Once you say yes to the digital surgeon, you can undersatnd that you
are immaterial, in the sense you can change body everyday, like you
can buy a new car. The movie graph shows that comp makes this
immateriality contagious on the environment.

> My argument assumes, however, that - per physicalism - a running
> computation (as opposed to its specification)

It is important to distinguish a program (immaterial static object)
and a computation (an immaterial "dynamic" object, which can be finite
or infinite, but is best handled when accepting it is infinite,
because in that case a dynamic can be defined by a function from N to
anything: it is a sequence of things). If not, people get troubled by
the existence of running computation in platonia/arithmetical truth.

> necessarily requires
> *some* physical activity to transform inputs to outputs (e.g. in terms
> of logic gates). Step 8, however, seems to take a step beyond this by
> proposing that a running computation can take the form of (as opposed
> to merely being described by) a machine *state*: i.e. without the
> requirement of activity.

No, activity is required. But activity is just a function from N to
set of states. The movie graph show that a machine cannot distinguish
physical activity from such an arithmetical activity. A computation is
an infinite set of numbers such that there is a universal number
generating that sequence.

> But in precisely what sense can such a
> 'stopped' state (i.e. still within purely physical terms of reference)
> be regarded as a 'running' computation, and hence - per computational
> theory of mind - as evocative of temporal experience?

By the invocation of a universal machine/number.
The problem, well the white rabbit problem, is that if a universal
machine makes a sequence s1 s2 s" ... a computation, then there will
be an infinity of such universal machine and computations, and from
the first person point of view the person belongs to all those
computations at once.

> And in any
> case, in what way is step 8 intended to extend intuition beyond my own
> argument, which - as I have tried to show - also elicits the insight
> that the direct supervention of 'functional' relations on functions
> themselves - not on their arbitrarily-defined physical tokens - is
> central to the recovery of 'mind' from computation.

See above.

>> You talk like if we knew that a primitive physical ontology exists,
>> but we don't know that, and the seven first step are neutral on that.
>> You are the one insisting that for consciousness to exist, we need a
>> physical ontology. But the step 8 shows that with comp such a
>> physical
>> ontology, or any special ontology is spurious.
> And again, the onto-epistemological gap.

All the edges in the graph of the arithmetical hypostases represents
gap from the machine point of views. 8 gaps. In details: 8 + infinity
of gaps, because the material hypostases are graded and multiplied.
But I don't want to use AUDA too much, if some people have still
trouble with UDA.
The discovery of the universal machine is the creative bomb which
makes comp possible and plausible. Universal machine, like computers
and brains, are not trivial mathematical object at all. To study comp
without computer science, is like doing cosmology without QM and GR.
Of course we can have the deepest intuition right, by experience, but
to make a sharble verifiable theory, I am afraid we cannot dismiss
some math ...


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Received on Mon Aug 10 2009 - 11:22:23 PDT

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