[extropy-chat] New paper by David Chalmer's definitively squashing materialism

Marc Geddes marc.geddes at gmail.com
Wed Oct 26 06:34:37 UTC 2005

On 10/26/05, justin corwin <outlawpoet at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/25/05, Marc Geddes <marc.geddes at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I'm not going to post a list where a bunch of obnoxious prats can call
> me
> > nasty names and then moderate my replies. I used to be in awe of the
> > Wilson/Yudkowsky duo but now that I think I've actually cracked the
> puzzle
> > of consciousness I realize the two of them are just another pair of
> prats
> > with high IQ's who went *thunk* against the problem of general
> intelligence
> > and are suffering from delusions of grandeur and dreams of megalomania.
> > Can't stand listening to the obnoxious lectures. I still actually wake
> up
> > at night in a cold sweat dreaming of Wilson - and not in a good way -
> > telling me : 'you must trust those smarter than you are' ;)
> well, there isn't a lot I can say here. You were moderated via several
> public List Sniper announcements, but if brilliant arguments of yours
> were deleted before they hit the list, I of course wouldn't' know
> about them.
> If you have indeed 'cracked the puzzle of consciousness', as you say,
> I should think that you would have little trouble dealing with such
> deluded folk. the Truth is always easier to defend, you know.

  I'm going to 'deal' to them quite soon. Before I was operating on pure
intuition to try to crack the general principles behind general
intelligence. Now that I've got the general principles I'm quickly trying to
put them on a firmer foundation via a proper careful study of the facts. I
should be able to put the hapless SL4 crowd out of their misery quite soon

> I actually posted your reply to his paper on David Chalmer's blog you
> know.
> > He wasn't too impressed. Check out the thread here:
> Amusing. You didn't really read his reply, did you? He's responding
> here to my claim that his arguments are unchanged by existing in a Q
> or ~Q world, which is trivially false, when I obviously meant you had
> to invert the premises in order for it to work.
> Logically true, but not particularly interesting, nor new information.
> > For instance: in Einstein's General Theory Of Relativity, it's known
> that
> > the Space-Time manifold as whole has properties which *transcend* the
> > relational properties of individual physical things. Even though
> space-time
> > is *generated by* the relations between physical things, space-time has
> > properties which *transcend* mere relations between physical things. i.e
> > the Space-Time manifold as a whole is an *entity* in its own right, over
> > and above the mere physical things which gave rise to it.
> This is gibberish. "Transcend" the relational properties of individual
> physical things? What could you possibly mean here? Are you talking
> about the relative complexity of a space-time deformation vs. the
> positions and masses that generate it, or what?

  This is not gibberish, as anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of
Einstein's General Theory Of Relativity and philosophy could tell you:
Google on the 'Relationalism' versus 'Substantivalism' debate for instance.
Relationalists (like Leibniz for instance) thought that the notion of a
'space-time manifold' was simply a convienienent device (an abstraction or
fiction) being used to describe the relational properties of matter.
Substantivalists (like Newton for instance) thought space-time had an
existence over and above the relational properties of matter.
 The debate seems to have gone in favor of Substantivalism. In General
Relativity, there are properties of the space-time manifold as a whole which
cannot be completely reduced to the local relational properties between the
matter within it.

> Prior to the work of Cantor, Robinson and Conway, one could get away with
> > claiming that infinite categories ddon't have to imply infinite
> entities,
> > but after the work Cantor, Robinson and Conway it's very clear that
> there
> > *are* infinite entities.
> You'll need to unpack this quite a bit for me, before I see your
> point. You seem to be referencing Cantor's proof via diagonalization
> for the existence of uncountable infinities (numbers not on a
> constructable number line). Assuming for the moment I accept infinite
> set theory(which his proof requires), please tell me how the existence
> of a *category* of uncountably infinite numbers (the Reals) implies
> infinite actual entities.

  Simple mathematical platonism. I think you'll find that a sizable portion
of modern scientists believe that mathematical entities are actually *out
there* in reality, not just astract fictions. The alephs (transfinites)
*are* actual numbers - entities with their own rules of arithmetic. Read
Rudy Rucker's 'Inifinity and The Mind' for very strong arguments that there
are actual infinite entities being referred to.

I further assume that you're talking about Abraham Robinson's
> Non-standard analysis, which is another poor example, since it doesn't
> actually propose the existence of entities that can be used as
> anything but analytic tools, as infinitesimals are valueless(you can
> divide by them, but adding them to anything is the same as the
> original number). A quick search shows that some mathematicians doubt
> that infinitesimals are anything but a formalism(see Wikipedia:
> Non-standard analysis).
> I am truly stumped on Conway, I guess that my googling skills have
> reached their limit of name-dropping references with no terms for
> today.

  It's a common misconception that 'infinitesimals are just analytic tools'.
On the contrary, they too are actually well defined entities with their own
rules of arithmetic. You obviously haven't read Rudy Rucker's 'Infinity And
The Mind' - probably you should ;) Conway's 'Surreal Numbers' were another
kind of non-standard analysis involving infinitesimals. The point is that
there *are* actual infinitesimal entities there - well-defined numbers with
their own rules of arithemetic - not just 'categories'.

> And since they can't be matched either directly or
> > indirectly to empirical facts, they must have a reality that transcends
> > empirical facts. The fact these entities can be *referenced* by finite,
> > computable proccesses, in no way means that they are *reducible* to
> finite,
> > computable proccesses. So materialism is false.
> This is a silly argument. This is like saying that you can conceive of
> a purple heffalump, but no such purple heffalump exists in reality,
> hence materialism is false, because there exist phenomenological
> symbols without reference that fully represent that symbol. Infinite
> sets can be talked about, but no one actually interacts with an
> infinite set, just logic that implies infinite sets. Internally
> consistent logic does not force the existence of things, or I would be
> able to say, as the mac hall kids teach us, "God is the greatest jelly
> donut in existence"
> http://www.machall.com/index.php?strip_id=189

  Um... ever heard of David Lewis and modal realism? The Many-Worlds
interpretation of qauntum mechanics? Tegmark's Multiverse theory?
 I think many mathematical platonists would insist that if there are
well-defined entities that are proven to be completely logically coherent,
these entities do exist out there something.
 Vague notions like 'God' are not well defined and so cannot be compared to
transfinites and infinitesimals, which ARE completely well-defined and

 > See what I said above. I agree that the infinite entities can be
> > *referenced* by finite, computable proccesses, but this does not mean
> that
> > the infinite entities are *reducible* to finiite computable proccesses.
> > Symbols referencing a thing (which are finite and computable) are *not*
> the
> > thing itself (which can be infinite and uncomputable).
> Okay, so you're saying that materialism is false, but all computation
> can be done by physical processes, and it's exactly the same, except
> that there are infinite things being 'referenced' by the finite
> processes.
> How do these infinite properties matter at all, if they can be
> generated by simple finite means, and do not affect what we can do?

  Well of courese if everything physical is computable (as I agree) infinite
entities cannot directly physically affect what we do, but indirectly they
might be needed for a full explanation of reality.

Remember math *is* the manipulation of symbols. We don't need to
> actually juggle potatoes to determine that five potatoes plus four is
> nine potatoes, but neither are we creating nine potatoes when we so
> reason.
> --
> Justin Corwin
> outlawpoet at hell.com
> http://outlawpoet.blogspot.com
> http://www.adaptiveai.com

  Hmm. Most mathematical platonists simply would not agree with you when you
say that: 'math is the manipulation of symbols'! Mathematical platonists
would say that there are mathematical entities out there in objective
reality, which the symbols are referencing.


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