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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Modal Realism Consciousness
    "When I profess realism about possible worlds, I mean to be taken literally. Possible worlds are what they are, and not some other thing. If asked what sort of thing they are, I cannot give the kind of reply my questioner probably expects: that is, a proposal to reduce possible worlds to something else.
    I can only ask him to admit that he knows what sort of thing our actual world is, and then explain that possible worlds are more things of that sort, differing not in kind but only in what goes on at them."

    (Lewis [1973], p.85)



    1. Possible worlds exist — they are just as real as our world;
    2. Possible worlds are the same sort of things as our world — they differ in content, not in kind;
    3. Possible worlds cannot be reduced to something more basic — they are irreducible entities in their own right.
    4. "Actual" is indexical. When we distinguish our world from others by claiming that it alone is actual, we mean only that it is ours — we live here.
    5. Possible worlds are unified by the spatiotemporal interrelations of their parts; possible worlds are spatiotemporally isolated from each other.
    6. Possible worlds are causally isolated from each other. (more)

    Now, insert the word MIND instead of Worlds and the universe makes sense

    1. Possible Minds exist — they are just as real as our Mind;
    2. Possible Minds are the same sort of things as our Mind — they differ in content, not in kind;
    3. Possible Minds cannot be reduced to something more basic — they are irreducible entities in their own right.
    4. "Actual" is indexical. When we distinguish our Mind from others by claiming that it alone is actual, we mean only that it is ours — we live here.
    5. Possible Minds are unified by the spatiotemporal interrelations of their parts; possible Minds are spatiotemporally isolated from each other.
    6. Possible Minds are causally isolated from each other.

    where is my mind?

    (part of the Ultrashorts project)

    11 comments
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    Comments:


    Rourke     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    I really like the metaphor you've expounded here. In the words of Max Velmans:
    "While the world we experience is a representation that depends for its existence on human perceptual processing, the reality so represented does not." - Understanding Consciousness

    The worlds minds construct co-exist with and yet are genuine alternatives to each other. I like to think that the closest model of fundamental reality available to us is the conglomerate expression of every possible mind in union. In this sense, each mind specialises in referring to its own special facet of reality, but to realise all reality's facets one needs an exponentially divergent curve of possible minds; one needs to take a cross section of all minds exist-ant, as well as all the minds which are possible.

    The more types of mind which evolve, the better the conglomerate model of reality which is manifest amongst them.

    And by the way, I tend not to agree with position number 6:
    6. Possible Minds are causally isolated from each other.

    i would hope that just by writing this comment my reality has fed somewhat into yours. There could never be a Space Collective if this condition held true.
    Wildcat     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    Obvious, thank you for the interaction, of course your reality interacts with mine, and vice versa, and it goes without saying that possible minds are not causally isolated, there are however two reasons why i chose to allow number 6, first because we do not have a full understanding (nor for that matter a coherent definition) of what causality really means. second because I wished to maintain a certain poetic quality of the connect Worlds/Minds .

    we may need in the future, to redefine what is Mind and I do mean it here with capital M (meaning the universal Mind) as juxtaposed to the mind (the particular mind). See my ColleX paper) and Spaceweaver addendum.

    yes all minds/worlds are connected, but of what kind is the connection, causal or otherwise, and in what fashion does the mind/MIND relate to itself, that is the question.

    I do believe that you touch someting very deep in your Myth exploration, yet i think it demands a very extensive elaboration.
    Spaceweaver     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    To wildcat and obvious: Philosophically speaking, the proposition that Minds/Worlds are causally closed, and the proposition that Minds/Worlds do interact, are not contradictory. Actually, at least for Minds it is quite plausibly the case. Intuitively it may seem that wildcat's response above was caused by obvious' comment, and my comment is caused by both above comments. But, a different description of wildcat's or obvious' or my mind may be given entirely in terms of causally closed thought-sense processes.
    Wildcat     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver: please elaborate on :"causally closed thought-sense processes".

    I do not know that i understand precisely what you refer to, nevertheless my present understanding of causality involves a stochastic process in a multi-dimensional fuzzy phase space in which it may be "possible but not necessary " to describe the posts of Obvious, Wildcat and Spaceweaver as causally related.

    as an aside, it may very well be that causality in its entirety is only a communication device that has no "real world" value.
    Spaceweaver     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    Proposition 4 about Worlds and Minds is problematic. Indexical is a linguistic perhaps a poetic concept. But in the light of realism, this indexical carries profound differences:

    1. The 'actual' world as the world as we live in, is the only world we know to be supporting our autopoiesis as living systems. We know as the mere fact of being alive. For all other possible worlds we can only assume that knowledge. That's a big difference not a mere linguistic one.

    2 The more abstract and interesting difference, is the difference in computation. Only one world/mind is being computed to the extent of being actual. All other possible worlds are only computed sketches within the computation of the actual. We often hide from ourselves this difference in resolution of details.

    I would suggest that all possible worlds are but aspects of the actual, so there are no possible worlds apart from the actual. The actual is the one and only world there is. If we take it to minds... well There is only one Mind.

    Wildcat     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver, this reminds me of R.Zelazny Amber series, in it there is but one "original world" and all others are but shadows, and shadows of shadows, and shadows of shadows of shadows..ad infinitum.

    If as you claim there is only one world "the actual" and by implication there is only "one Mind" doesn't that push us back to the ultimate solipsism?

    moreover, you mention that only one world/mind is being computed to the extent of being actual, if that is so (and again I am not certain that it is so) what do you make of the multiverse? especially with regard to Tegmark?
    Wildcat     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    Addendum

    The Ultimate Ensemble or mathematical universe hypothesis (MUH) is a speculative theory of everything (TOE), suggested by Max Tegmark[1]. Related to the Anthropic principle and Multiverse theories, the Ultimate Ensemble suggests that not only should worlds corresponding to different sets of initial conditions or different physical constants be considered real, but also worlds ruled by altogether different equations. The only postulate in this theory is that all structures that exist mathematically exist also physically. The Ultimate Ensemble can be considered a physico-mathematical expression of the philosophy known as modal realism.

    Tegmark claims that the MUH is a theory with no free parameters, which is not observationally ruled out, and therefore is preferred over all other TOE's by Occam's Razor. He envisages consciousness as occurring in the form of "self-aware substructures" of mathematical structures, which he claims will subjectively perceive themselves as existing in a physically "real" world.


    The MUH, like other multiverse theories, has been criticized by some physicists or philosophers on grounds including: that it lacks a properly defined prior distribution over structures [2]; has no predictive power [3]; has problems with Godel's theorem [4] [5]; is self-contradictory because one cannot subsume all possible (partly contradictory) mathematical structures into one structure [6].

    Tegmark responds to some of these critiques in [7], where the Ultimate Ensemble is formalized as the "Level IV Multiverse".

    from wikipedia
    Robokku     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    I'm not sure that arguing with Lewis is in line with the spirit of this post, and I don't think a scientific approach to dismissing Lewisean possible worlds is going to go anywehere: most philosophers who don't like Lewisean possible world's try to reduce them to linguistic (as e.g. Lycan) or ersatz (as e.g. Plantinga) entities.

    I'm not clear on what you're saying here, Spaceweaver. You wrote,

    Indexical is a linguistic perhaps a poetic concept. But in the light of realism, this indexical carries profound differences


    What "realism" are you referring to here? If it's Genuine Modal Realism, which the post is about, then you have things backwards. Lewis' idea was to deny any ontological privelege for the actual world, so "the actual" is linguistically indexical and the actual is an epistemically egocentric understanding of reality or "logical space".

    In your point 1 you assert an egocentrically constructed understanding of the actual world which does not contradict Lewis' stance set out in the original post.

    In 2, you seem to be describing the nature of "actuality" as an indexical term, you don't establish a real ontological privelege for our world, only a perceived one. There are possible worlds inhabited by people saying exactly the same thing as you and being exactly as right as you are.

    Now, in response to obvious, there is, I think, an argument for point 6 of the MIND theory in the post, with some adjustment of 5. No time for that right now , unfortunately...
    aeonbeat     Fri, Jan 25, 2008  Permanent link
    Linguistics is just a poetic, artistic interpretation standing on a common knowledge, a way to express and impress in order to share and get more knowledge/power/energy, so we're evolving while experimenting. By the time every single mind as a part of the one whole mind interprets in the same way, mostly by self-denying, this is going to be not just being conscious about the existence of your mind (yourself), but realizing the one truth philosophy of life, as an approach, as the right way to be involved. The time that all theories unite, represented as one same perception, interpretation and experience of the physical world. Eventually by being aware of yourself through the opposite attention, since you are, where your attention is. This is closure. But still saving the self as a single part, so there is motion, e-motion. You can experience how awesome the divine godlike mind really is, if it's not in one whole, it needs to interact with itself, in order to experiment, change, create, evolve. So it splits from time to time, in order to collect itself. The best prize is here on earth, being able to experience divine feelings. You get it on credit and then come here to prove, if you really deserve it. You can fool everybody else, but yourself when you're feeling bad about something wrong done, wrong in the manner of doing something to someone, that you don't want someone doing to you. Not exactly the deed, but the results we get in form of experience through the perceptions and the nerve system, since we enjoy and dislike sometimes opposite things, because of understanding and experiencing them in different ways. Because of different knowledge, traditions, tastes, characters. Sorry if I sound too spiritual or cheesy or something, but every time I start thinking about this I get here... So this is the credit plan of the karma - buy now, pay forever...

    It is what it is...
    Spaceweaver     Sun, Jan 27, 2008  Permanent link
    To wildcat about causally closed processes: Causation is much a matter of description. Every single event have a set of causal circumstances which are basically equivalent. But observing an event and describing its causes, emphasizes some of the causal circumstances as causes, while other circumstances are only enabling background. I do not see any essential difference between seeing obvious' response as instructive to what brought you to comment, and an alternative description that accepts obvious' comment only as a trigger within a process which is entirely dependent and defined by the state of your mind. The only difference is a difference in description. And if we further investigate its source, we are back in your mind. This is as far from solipsism as anything. Since again, there is no one description which is privileged upon any other, at least not from the stand point of causation. Personally I find this philosophically embarrassing. It hints however to the important status of the observer in the construction of the so called reality.

    To Wildcat about "original world" and "shadow worlds": The distinctions I made are not supporting this world view, though they might seem to. I will try to clarify: Amber, was objectively the source of all shadows, it was not a matter subject to the eye of a beholder. Amber is the ultimate apex of privileged knowledge, only if you see it you see reality, otherwise you live within illusion while believing it to be reality. My view is very different: Any world I find myself in is Amber for the mere fact of me being its observer. This mere fact is the privilege of being the observer of just this world, and by that it becomes actual. Again this has nothing to do with solipsism for the privilege of being an observer is not an absolute that negates other observers.

    To Robokku about possible worlds: I find Lewis' version of modal realism redundant, and this is what I tried to convey very briefly. Ontological equivalence of all possible worlds is not the only way to go about modal realism. Lewis claims that possible worlds are causally isolated. If so what are we talking about here? If we speak about possible worlds causally isolated and ontologically equivalent this is a contradiction in terms, for how could we possibly think about anything which cannot influence our thought process. Or, what we speak about are but shadows of our actual world and has nothing to do with the so called Lewissian possible worlds.

    There is no way to establish an ontological privilege of one possible world upon others, to that I agree. However this does not (via negativa) establish the ontological equivalence of possible worlds. In simple terms, to live in a world, means to be engaged in such a manner that it takes all of me (as an entity, or a computation, you choose), and leaves nothing in me to live anything other than this very world. This makes the world I live in, my world as a figure of speech, i.e. the actual world. It is indeed an indexical, but with a profound ontological meaning. I can imagine another 'me' thinking just like me in a possible world. I can imagine many me just as easily. But to imagine all of them as being causally independent of me brings us back to the problem without really getting anywhere. Bottom line: it seems to be entirely moot to contemplate either ontological equivalence or ontological privilege of possible worlds. The actuality of this world is incomparable. But if so, we cannot possible have it as a property of any other possible world but this one! Hope this clarifies :-)
    Robokku     Sun, Jan 27, 2008  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver: Yes, it can be difficult to engage with a topic like this in brief comments - that definitely clarifies things. Hope I came across OK. And what you say really resonates with my own way of looking at things. Lewis was crazy, which is admirable, but I'm not really a sympathiser, just wanted to fight his corner a little.

    (I guess some version of the stock retort is still available to him, though: GMR provides working referents for modal language which allow the logic required for our normal discourse, and at a small ontological cost. Personally, I'd just foot the ontological bill, because, well, there just is loads of stuff.)

    Anyway, back to the Modal Realism Consciousness idea. First of all, a bit of re-writing: in the mind theory (MIND 1-6), when we say "possible minds" I take it we we are talking about other minds, not minds in possible worlds. Otherwise, I don't see what's new compared to Modal Realism. Given that, "actual" in MIND 4 should be replaced with some sensible equivalent indexical - e.g., "me" or "my mind".

    Now, MIND 5 raises some problems:
    5. Possible Minds are unified by the spatiotemporal interrelations of their parts; possible Minds are spatiotemporally isolated from each other.

    That second point first: if our minds are spatiotemporally isolated from each other, then they must be so isolated from the rest of the physical world, because of the transitivity of spatiotemporal relations. (If so, then causality between minds looks impossible, so MIND 6 holds.) However, I consider my mind to be simultaneous with the rest of the (present) world, and so, if other minds are alike, simultaneous with other minds. So minds are not temporally isolated as Lewis' worlds are.

    The first point now: how is a mind unified? In the case of Lewis' worlds, it's the mere fact of spatiotemporal interrelations between parts that unifies, not any particular such relations. That is no good for minds, since we have seen that the relations hold between minds. Could it be some particular spatiotemporal relations that define a single mind? Not easily: the temporal relations are not enough on their own, since other minds can be concurrent, and if you do locate a mind in space then either it has some extension and you will rope in some physical matter (brain cells, knee cap - wherever you put it), or it is at a point and you will need a very good story about why it's at any particular point.

    A possible answer:

    Having said that, the best way to fit MIND 1-6 into a coherent story, seems to be to go for some kind of epiphenomenalism: have the mental supervene on the physical. Each mind could then be unified by its being caused by the same physical bits, those bits being unified by particular spatiotemporal interrelations and relations to other bits of the world.

    Here's my re-write for the epiphenomenalists:

    • 1. Other Minds exist and are equally real;

    • 2. Other Minds are the same sort of things as my Mind — they differ in content, not in kind;

    • 3. Other Minds cannot be reduced to something more basic — they are irreducible entities in their own right.

    • 4. "My mind" is indexical. When I distinguish my Mind from others by claiming that it alone is mine, I mean only that it is mine — I live here. (OK, this is trivial now, but it kind of was in GMR.)

    • 5. Other Minds are unified by the causal relations of their parts to physical matter and the spatiotemporal (inter)relations of that physical matter (to the rest of the world); Other Minds are spatially isolated from each other (bear no spatial relations to one another).

    • 6. Other Minds are causally isolated from each other.

    Is it still interesting?
     
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