Re: Emulation and Stuff

From: David Nyman <>
Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 01:43:53 +0100

2009/8/17 Flammarion <>:

> I am trying to persuade Bruno that his argument has an implict
> assumption of Platonism that should be made explicit. An  assumption
> of Platonism as a non-observable background might be
> justifiiable in the way you suggest, but it does need
> to be made explicit.

Yes, this is why I felt it might help the discussion to make the
possibility of such an assumption explicit in this way.

> Bruno's theory may well be falsifiable. But then it is hardly
> a disproof of materialism as it stands.

Agreed - not as a knockdown blow - although as you know his argument
is that materialism is incompatible with the computational theory of
mind; and of course I've also been arguing for this, although my
alternative (i.e. a theory, rather than an intuition) wouldn't
necessarily be the same as his.

>> I think the core of the problem is a tendency to mentally conjure
>> platonia as a pure figment;
> I am not sure what you mean by that. Anti-Platonic philsoophies
> of maths, such as formalism, are considered positons supported by
> arguments, not vague intuitions.

Yes, I don't dispute that. But aside from this, perhaps one could say
that we tend to assume that ideas about 'platonias' have sense but no
reference. However, some physicists - Julian Barbour for one - use
the term in a way that clearly has reference, as I think does Bruno.
One should perhaps recall that the appeal to number as a causal
principle (to use the logic of 'paraphrase') can't be met by any
merely human concept of number. IOW for reality to emerge from
number, whatever the putative referents of human number terminology
may be, they must at some level be uniquely cashable in terms of

>> this will not do; nor is it presumably
>> what Plato had in mind.  Rather, platonia might be reconceived in
>> terms of the preconditions of the observable and real; its theoretical
>> entities must - ultimately - be cashable for what is RITSIAR, both
>> 'materially' and 'mentally'.  On this basis, some such intuition of an
>> 'immaterial'  (pre-material?) - but inescapably real - precursory
>> state could be seen as theoretically inevitable, whether one
>> subsequently adopts a materialist or a comp interpretative stance.
> I don;t see why it is necessay at all, let alone why
> it was inevitable. You were earlier comparing it
> to a hypothetical background ontology. How did
> it jump form (falsifiable) hypotheiss to necessary
> and inevitable truth?

It didn't. I was just suggesting that embracing some more 'agnostic'
background schema of this kind might actually be helpful in
appreciating the scope and limits of explanation. For example, just
how far down the explanatory hierarchy do we have to go before it
starts making less and less sense to insist on characterising the
explanatory entities as 'material'? Are superstrings material? Is
quantum foam material? Are
whatever-are-conceived-as-the-pre-conditions for their appearance in
the scheme of things material? What is surely at issue is not their
'essential' materiality but their properties as appealed to by theory
(i.e. the ones to which we would resort by paraphrase). Perhaps our
ultimate explanatory entities need be conceived as no more 'material'
than necessary for us to depend on them as plausible pre-cursors of
the more obviously material; but of course, no less so either.

While I've got you here, as it were - I don't see why this wouldn't
apply equally to the mental: IOW our explanatory entities need be
conceived as no more 'mental' than necessary for us to depend on them
as plausible precursors of the more obviously mental; but no less so


> >

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Received on Tue Aug 18 2009 - 01:43:53 PDT

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