[ExI] observer dependent vs. observer independent
gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Tue May 7 01:13:58 UTC 2013
Some philosophers find it useful to identify two ways in which things can be considered real.
Observer dependent things exist only relative to some observer or observers. An example is paper fiat currency. A $100 bill is worth a certain amount of goods and services only because observers assign that value to it. Aside from those observers, it is an essentially worthless piece of paper. Another example would be the score of a baseball game. The score is seen as something real and meaningful only because observers have assigned rules and meaning to the game.
Observer independent things exist regardless of an observer. Most people would agree that such things as mountains and planets are real, independent of any observer.
What of brains and digital computers?
Computers are observer dependent. A computer exists *as such* only relative to some observer who regards it as a tool for doing computations. The observer/operator assigns that meaning to it.
Unlike computers, it seems the human brain/mind is observer independent. You would consider yourself real even if all observers of you were to vanish. One might claim this is due only to self-observation, but that idea seems to lead to the old problem of infinite regress and the homunculous fallacy. (Who is observing yourself observing yourself, and so on?)
So then we have two different kinds of things here to consider: observer independent brains and observer dependent computers.
I think computationalists in the philosophy mind err when they try to equate the brain to a computer, and this in one way in which they do it. They are merely observers assigning syntax and computational states to the physics of the brain, making it seem observer dependent when it is not.
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