Re: Emulation and Stuff

From: David Nyman <>
Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 02:47:04 +0100

2009/8/18 Jesse Mazer wrote:
>> Peter Jones wrote:
>> Primary matter is very much related to the fact that some theories of
>> physics work and other do not. It won't tell you which ones work, but
>> it will tell you why there is a difference. It solves the white rabbit
>> problem. We don't see logically consistent but otherwise bizarre
>> universes because they are immaterial and non-existent--not matter
>> instantiates
>> that particualar amtehamtical structure.
> But then it seems like you're really just talking about consciousness and
> qualia--of all the mathematically possible universes containing possible
> self-aware observers, only in some (or one) are these possible observers
> actually real in the sense of having qualia (and there qualia being
> influenced by other, possibly nonconsious elements of the mathematical
> universe they are a part of). There's no need to have a middleman called
> "primary matter", such that only some (or one) mathematical possible
> universes are actually instantianted in primary matter, and only those
> instantiated in primary matter give rise to qualia. If you *are* going to
> add unobservable middlemen like this, there's no real logical justification
> for having only one--you could say "only some mathematically possible
> universes are instantiated in primary asfgh, and only some of those give
> rise to qwertyuiop, and only the ones with quertyuiop can give rise to
> zxcvbn, and only ones with zxcvbn can give rise to qualia and
> consciousness".

AFAICS the assumption of primary matter 'solves' the white rabbit
problem by making it circular: i.e. assuming that primary matter
exists entails restricting the theory to just those mathematics and
parameters capable of predicting what is observed; since white rabbits
are not in fact observed, it follows that no successful mathematics of
primary matter has any business predicting them.

This is not to say that such circularity is necessarily vicious; its
proponents no doubt see it as virtuously parsimonious. Nonetheless,
one of the chief arguments for the pluralistic alternatives is that -
by not applying a priori mathematical or parametric restrictions -
they may thereby be less arbitrary. This of course leaves them with
the problem of the white rabbits to solve by other means.


>  > > In that case you might as well call it "primary ectoplasm" or "primary
> asdfgh".
>> You might as well call "2" the successor of "0". All symbols are
>> arbitrary.
> My point was just that I think it's *misleading* to use the word "matter"
> which already has all sorts of intuitive associations for us, when really
> you're talking about something utterly mysterious whose properties are
> completely divorced from our experiences, more like Kant's "noumena" which
> were supposed to be things-in-themselves separate from all phenomenal
> properties (including quantitative ones).
>> > And are you making any explicit assumption about the relation between
>> > this "primary matter" and qualia/first-person experience? If not, then I
>> > don't see why it wouldn't be logically possible to have a universe with
>> > primary matter but no qualia (all living beings would be zombies), or qualia
>> > but no primary matter (and if you admit this possibility, then why shouldn't
>> > we believe this is exactly the type of universe we live in?)
>> The second possibility is ruled out because it predicts White Rabbits.
> I don't agree, there's no reason you couldn't postulate a measure on the set
> of mathematical possibilities which determined the likelihood they would
> actually be experienced by conscious observers--this measure might be such
> that white-rabbit worlds would be very improbable, it might even pick out a
> unique mathematically possible universe where the possible observers are
> actually conscious, while assigning zero measure to all other
> possibilities.
> >

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Received on Tue Aug 18 2009 - 02:47:04 PDT

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