Re: Information and the 'physical universe'

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Mon, 05 Feb 2001 19:47:19 -0700

Bruno, I can't tell whether you're being playfully obtuse or merely
poetic, but you're not being straightforward. Of course you know what
is meant by the 'physical world'. It is that complex that we infer from
our perceptions to provide a comprehensible account of the relations
among those perceptions. If you wish to take a radically
fundamentalist position, avoiding all inference, then you can only
speak of "softness" not "softness of velvet" and you cannot presume
that you "feel only the presence of persons...". You can only feel -
to assign a source to that feeling is an inference just as is the
physical world. I think you have the direction of abstraction
backwards. Perceptions and feelings are the raw stuff of being.
Persons, velvet, and the physical world are abstracted from them.
Information is, as you say, another level of abstraction away from the
physical world - but in the direction away from raw experience.

Brent Meeker

> Hi James,
>> In conversations with friends, I am often asked why the minimal
>> Kolmogorov complexity of Tegmark's schema has any relevance to the
>> physical world. Why should information theory tell us anything about
>> the 'real' world? What grounds do we have to believe that the stuff
>> of the 'physical' world is information?
>> Bruno, without referring me to your excellent paper, could you
>> provide me with your succinct answer?
> I don't understand what you mean by 'real world', still less 'physical
> world'. I feel only the presence of persons, embedded in stories,
> trying to share (with partial success *locally and apparently*)
> experiences, from joy to conviction, from hope to humor, etc. I have
> not the slightest ground for believing in any form of substancial
> stuff ... I believe in numbers, joy, persons, dreams, hope, fear,
> chess, justice, meaning, ... and even in photon, orbitals, and black
> holes, but not
> as stuffy things (decomposable or undecomposable). I believe in the
> softness of velvet and the aroma of coffee. In that sense I am a
> materialist, but I don't belief in the aristotelian substance. Here is
> a provocative statement : matter has been invented for making us
> believe that bread and wine are part of Jesus' body, and nothing else!
> Information (in a large sense) is what remains when you abstract from
> material superstition, (or when the dream becomes lucid). Kolmogorof
> complexity is useful for having rigorous talk on randomness, ...
> (All this without comp, but with comp all this can be made more
> precise, and, sure enough, more palpable).
> Does this help you ? It is not that we have grounds for believing that
> the stuff of the world is information, it is that we have no grounds
> that there is any stuff at all ... (we have only propaganda).
> Bruno
Received on Mon Feb 05 2001 - 19:59:14 PST

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