RE: Back to Existence: Physically Real vs. Platonic

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2006 18:51:27 +1000

Oops, it seems I got my threads crossed! I do agree that the book *exists* even if it isn't read, or never will be read.


> From:
> To:
> Subject: RE: Back to Existence: Physically Real vs. Platonic
> Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2006 14:53:06 -0700
> Stathis agreed with most of my long post, but then wrote
> > > 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.
> > OK, but first you would have to wait for chance or whatever to
> > put the book back together again, and then you would have to wait
> > for someone to read it if it's going to be of any use, right?
> > It's not performing its bookish function at any given time unless
> > it is being read, and it's not going to be readable until it's
> > assembled in the appropriate way.
> Well, that applies to old books hidden in secret passages in monasteries.
> We ought to say that they exist, but have been currently forgotten about.
> But the books are still there, even if no one knows about them, just as
> a falling tree creates sound, even if no one is there to listen. (Feynman
> chimed in on this one saying that the falling tree makes scratches on
> leaves that corresponded to the vibrations through the air, and so it
> did make a sound---and who is going to argue with Feynman? :-)
> > Chopped up moments of conscious experience, on the other hand, do *not*
> > need to be specially ordered nor do they need to have an external observer
> > to appreciate them (although they would be less lonely if they did), ...
> I know what you are saying, and agree. But as we are evidently arguing
> about what the term "exists" should mean (i.e. how we should use it, given
> that its usage does shape our thinking), then I'm stubbornly clinging to
> the idea that the book existed too.
> I guess you are right: the set of OMs in question has a certain additional
> benefit or use: they are of use to the person himself.
> Lee
> > because (a) they have their own observer built in, by definition, and (b) their ordering is a function of their information
> content, not a function of specially being linked up by someone. This is expressed well in Greg Egan's "Permutation City", in which
> the upload's moments of conscious experience are implemented here, there, backwards, forwards, etc. on a distributed computer
> network, but the result from the inside (as it were) is of a single continuous conscious stream. This is not the case for an
> external observer: the widely distributed computations have to be specially ordered and interpreted to make any sense, just as the
> words in a book have to be specially ordered, and without this ordering they are so much noise. But for the observer implemented by
> the computations himself, the ordering follows implicitly from the nature of the information being encoded, as surely as 3 follows 2
> and precedes 4 .
> Stathis Papaioannou
> <
> >

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Received on Wed Jul 05 2006 - 04:52:28 PDT

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