Back to Existence: Physically Real vs. Platonic

From: Lee Corbin <>
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006 09:01:06 -0700

Stathis wrote, Friday, June 30, 2006 12:24 AM

> A book is the analogy that came to mind, but there is an
> important difference between this and conscious experience.
> Books, sentences, words may not need to be physically
> collected together to make a coherent larger structure,
> but they do need to be somehow sorted in the mind of an
> observer; otherwise, we could say that a dictionary
> contains every book ever written or yet to be written.

Okay, suppose that there are no observers, and the Earth
has been burnt to a cinder except for one copy of Milton's
"Paradise Lost", and one copy of the Oxford English dictionary.
It seems to me that we should say that just two books still
exist. Do you agree?

(Sorry for asking what you have said many times one
way or the other; I'm not clear as to who has said

Supposing that you do agree that these two book in our
spacetime still exist, then as you have said, all the
words in "Paradise Lost" can be found in the Oxford

Next we begin the slippery slope argument where Paradise Lost
is broken apart into its separate pages and scattered
throughout the cosmos. I agree with you that in one sense
Milton's book no longer exists, but it still does exist in
the sense that there is enough redundancy to piece it back
together again were a new sentient life form to come into
being, and to find those pages, and to bind them.

What I disagree with is your statement that the mind of the
observer really played any key role. True, in most realistic
situations it helped for the new sentient race to have minds
and to exercise them in the conscious collection of these
far flung pages; but accidental solar winds from millions
of stars per chance could have done exactly the same thing.
So the book would come back into existence again, totally
without observers being present anywhere in the universe.

> I know some people on this list have attempted world-
> building with OMs, but my starting point is the less
> ambitious idea that consciousness can in principle
> extend across time and space without being specially
> linked. If a person's stream of consciousness were
> chopped up into seconds, minutes, days or whatever,
> using whatever vehicle it takes to run a human mind,
> and these moments of consciousness randomly dispersed
> throughout the multiverse, they would all connect up
> by virtue of their information content. Do you
> disagree that it would in principle be possible?


P.S. Apologies to all: I have not been able to keep up
with list volume, and so am sorry if I am repeating
(or failing to address) subsequent arguments made by
others. It seems a risk worth taking; experience seems
to indicate that we usually make different points.

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Received on Sun Jul 02 2006 - 11:55:56 PDT

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