Free Will and Pascal's Wager

Potential proof of free will and sense of Pascal's Wager

Atheism, secularism & freethought etc.

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Does the Wager make sense now?

Yes
1
5%
No
19
90%
Maybe
1
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Total votes : 21

Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#481  Postby newolder » Mar 19, 2017 7:42 pm

I think archibald may be taking the Pattern Information Soul Snippet. :dunno:

What's the necessity for this pluralisation of ideas to replace the soul idea? Does your razor need sharpening? Or a visit to SpecSaversTM to help maintain focus on the central notion?
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#482  Postby John Platko » Mar 19, 2017 7:54 pm

newolder wrote:I think archibald may be taking the Pattern Information Soul Snippet. :dunno:

What's the necessity for this pluralisation of ideas to replace the soul idea? Does your razor need sharpening? Or a visit to SpecSaversTM to help maintain focus on the central notion?


About here we realised the discussion would go better if we used a term that didn't bring along so much baggage for some. The use of the word soul seemed to trigger the religion immunity system of some members causing the thread to be filled with their antibodies. A syntactic transformation cleared the problem right up.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#483  Postby newolder » Mar 19, 2017 8:01 pm

John Platko wrote:
newolder wrote:I think archibald may be taking the Pattern Information Soul Snippet. :dunno:

What's the necessity for this pluralisation of ideas to replace the soul idea? Does your razor need sharpening? Or a visit to SpecSaversTM to help maintain focus on the central notion?


About here we realised the discussion would go better if we used a term that didn't bring along so much baggage for some. The use of the word soul seemed to trigger the religion immunity system of some members causing the thread to be filled with their antibodies. A syntactic transformation cleared the problem right up.

You have abandoned the soul idea for another idea with less religious baggage? When you claim "cleared the problem right up", it reads like you are ready to publish. Let me know when & where...
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#484  Postby archibald » Mar 20, 2017 10:21 am

John Platko wrote:I didn't find Deutsch's explanation of explanations to be vague. I found him to be shining light on something fundamental to all attempts at understanding. The mode we use to try to explain something has an effect on the quality of the explanation. So in order to get the best understanding that we can, we must search out the best mode of explanation.


Sure, but that's not exactly detailed (or novel) is it? 'A lot of words' is not necessarily the equivalent of 'detailed'.

John Platko wrote:The Greeks had an explanation for what was responsible for creating different material things that they observed - the atom. Dalton improved on that explanation and he used a new mode to do it. As did Bohr. Followed by Heisenberg, Dirac, etc.. And now people are searching for better modes of explanation so better understanding will be obtained.


'The Greeks' were not homogenous, of course. It was the atomists who thought in terms of atoms. And in their case, they turned out to be the very lucky winners of the good explanation lottery in hindsight. I thought we'd done this already. The analogy with the atom only works if CT is in fact useful and/or accurate, which we will have to wait and see about, because at this time it's vague and speculative.

John Platko wrote:Deutsch highlights the problem of insisting that one must stick to the current mode of explanation - and how especially bad that is when the explanation is false.


Deutsch claims that, but I don't think it's clear yet whether the existing mode of explanation is false or that his is true or better.

John Platko wrote:Closer to this discussion, some here seem to be stuck in a mode of explanation for the observable commonly described as: the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. I presented a new mode of explanation for that observable. One which I think provides better understanding, so it is therefore a better explanation.


Possibly. Possibly not. I've been running with it with an open mind and it's interesting and I'm enjoying talking to you about it.

I will say this, there's that word immortal again. You keep using it, even though we agree it's inaccurate. And recently you've used the word immaterial again too. You haven't by any means won me over about either of those. In fact I'd say that you are on a sticky wicket with both of them. I think 'reasonable values of immortal' is a bit of an optimistic fudge, and implies at least 'a very long time', which I do not think pertains to for example a human IP. As I said, I'm thinking 'very fragile' is more the case. 'Substantially gone very soon after death', etc.

John Platko wrote:And we can apply this fundamental concept of increasing our understanding by searching out other modes of explanation to all sort of things.


In principle yes, but this doesn't mean that every new speculative mode we alight upon is going to add anything. That's where I'm at.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#485  Postby archibald » Mar 20, 2017 10:25 am

John Platko wrote:So obviously the soul does not need neurons to exist. Whether or not a mind can exist without neurons is irrelevant to discussion of souls. However, when we're talking about the immaterial nature of the soul, i.e. the spiritual part of a human being, that does not mean that it does not require some physical substrate to exist - nothing is known that doesn't require some physical substrate of one sort or another. But the soul, like many things, can exist in whole or part on many different types of physical substrates.


:ask:

Immaterial nature. Hm.

I'm really not sure. You may have an unnecessary dichotomy (immaterial plus substrate). That's an odd thing for a physicalist to have.

I accept that it's hard to avoid using dualist language at times and that we all succumb to it.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#486  Postby archibald » Mar 20, 2017 12:20 pm

John Platko wrote:I would suggest that if we want our IP to last it should have the same quality that a gene needs to last, it should be useful for survival in those it is passed on to (or if you want to be more technically fussy, useful for it's own survival). So IP that tends towards being helpful for life to grow will have more legs. And IP that incorporates better explanations of reality, i.e. is a better approximation of the truth, will out last poorer approximations of the truth. IP that has those qualities will have a higher probability to thrive and spawn new IP than IP that provides explanations that are poorer. e.g. not many people are generating new IP using Aristotle's metaphysics compared to the people using modern physics. And I don't think the IP of the those using metaphysics today is going to have legs.


Yes, I think this is better than anything I suggested. You are using the analogy with genes and evolution, which seems as useful here as it would if we are talking about memes (which in many ways your 'snippets of IP' do seem to resemble).

Let me add a thought, possibly one that you will like, given the other thread you linked me to. Is a catchy tune useful for survival? If so, survival of what? Itself only? I try to use this example because a catchy tune doesn't seem to need to be true or false, or an explanation.

John Platko wrote:But I don't want to give the impression that IP is just about conscious information. IP is about more than that. There's our unconscious IP too.


Indeed.

Though I do think that if we want to talk about souls (or the equivalent by a different name) the bigger issue is the durability of people's IPs. To my way of thinking, these do not even remain intact while we're alive. In a trivial way, my IP is not what it was yesterday. In a less trivial way, a person's personality may change dramatically over the years, they may become mean-spirited and cynical if life does not pan out for them. And in a very fundamental way, if they get severe old age dementia it is not really them any more.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#487  Postby archibald » Mar 20, 2017 12:21 pm

felltoearth wrote:Haven't finished this article and there's a lot to dig into here.

I have other questions which may become objections in time, mainly to do with the use of language with regard to CT. It seems extremely vague, yes.

https://adamsopticks.wordpress.com/2013 ... dern-myth/


Really interesting article which I enjoyed reading.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#488  Postby archibald » Mar 20, 2017 12:27 pm

John Platko wrote:Now consider again the set of all physically possible transformations. For almost every such transformation, the story of how it could happen is the story of how knowledge might be created and applied to cause it. Part of that story is, in almost all cases, the story of how people (intelligent beings) would create that knowledge, and of why they would retain the proposal to apply it in that way while rejecting or amending rival proposals (so a significant determinant is moral knowledge). Hence, from the constructor-theoretic perspective, physics is almost entirely the theory of the effects that knowledge (abstract constructors) can have on the physical world, via people. But again, the prevailing conception conceals this.


Oh I'm not sure about this rather bold claim. This may or may not be a good description of something, but I don't think it's a good description of physics. 'Almost entirely via people'? My guess is that there was a LOT of physics going on in the universe, for a very long time, before people came along, and still is, in what appears to be the vast majority of the universe not peopled.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#489  Postby John Platko » Mar 20, 2017 1:33 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:I didn't find Deutsch's explanation of explanations to be vague. I found him to be shining light on something fundamental to all attempts at understanding. The mode we use to try to explain something has an effect on the quality of the explanation. So in order to get the best understanding that we can, we must search out the best mode of explanation.


Sure, but that's not exactly detailed is it? 'A lot of words' is not necessarily the equivalent of 'detailed'.


It would have been more detailed if Deutsch used set theory to explain it. Which could be done, but not very appropriate in the situation he was asked the question. But it's not like he was coughing up a deepity. I will tuck it into the same IP pouch in my head were I keep, for example, the constructor rule of thumb: "measure twice, cut once" that another master taught me.

And Deutsch's explanation of the quality of explanations explains why he sailed beyond the current paradigm of physics in search of a paradigm that would be better able at explaining what is inexplicable in the current paradigm. It also explained a lot of what I do to understand ideas like: soul, demon, God, ... Search out better modes of explanation for what people are trying to explain.



John Platko wrote:The Greeks had an explanation for what was responsible for creating different material things that they observed - the atom. Dalton improved on that explanation and he used a new mode to do it. As did Bohr. Followed by Heisenberg, Dirac, etc.. And now people are searching for better modes of explanation so better understanding will be obtained.


'The Greeks' were not homogenous. It was the atomists who thought in terms of atoms. And in their case, they turned out to be the very lucky winners of the good explanation lottery in hindsight. I thought we'd done this already. The analogy with the atom only works if CT is in fact useful and/or accurate, which we will have to wait and see about, because at this time it's vague and speculative.


But why were the atomists winners? It's not like they were right, atoms are not solid, atoms are not indivisible. What was captured in their explanation that was right enough for them to be winners?

My answer is that their description captured the archetype, the most important attribute, of the atom.

Deutsch's explanation of explanations is useful independent of CT. And CT may not be a useful model to encapsulate all known physics, as Deutsch desires, but that doesn't make it useless. It has already teased out bits of understanding about the behavior of reproducing chunks of information, Knowledge, memes, whatever you want to call them.




John Platko wrote:Deutsch highlights the problem of insisting that one must stick to the current mode of explanation - and how especially bad that is when the explanation is false.


Deutsch claims that, but I don't think it's clear yet whether the existing mode of explanation is false or that his is true or better.



Yep. He makes that clear.





Possibly. Possibly not. I've been running with it with an open mind and it's interesting and I'm enjoying talking to you about it.



I would suggest more detailed talk, giving examples of observed IP, and descriptions of what mechanisms could account for their behavior.



I will say this, there's that word immortal again. You keep using it, even though we agree it's inaccurate. And recently you've used the word immaterial again too. You haven't by any means won me over about either of those. In fact I'd say that you are on a sticky wicket with both of them. I think 'reasonable values of immortal' is a bit of an optimistic fudge, and implies at least 'a very long time', which I do not think pertains to for example a human IP. As I said, I'm thinking 'very fragile' is more the case. 'Substantially gone very soon after death', etc.


The word immortal is not attached at the hip to the word soul. Not everyone who uses the word soul thinks of it as being immortal. I think of it, in the same way the atom was thought of as being indivisible. The atom is hard to divide but it's not indivisible. I'm happy to use a different word, one that captures the idea that the life span of IP is not limited by biological factors, only the need for a physical substrate and success in it's ability to survive. Any ideas? "enduring"? :dunno:

My interest in this is of practical nature. So I'm not so interested in corner cases like heat death. And, I do think these things can last for many generations. Feel free to call out any words that you find "baggage" loaded and substitute a different word that carries the important aspect of the original word.





In principle yes, but this doesn't mean that every new speculative mode we alight upon is going to add anything. That's where I'm at.


You mean with CT? Sure. I judge CT by how it helped organize the mechanisms I needed to define a domain for blues lick idea mutations. I was floundering a bit in the complexity of it all and CT brought everything into sharp focus for me.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#490  Postby John Platko » Mar 20, 2017 1:41 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:So obviously the soul does not need neurons to exist. Whether or not a mind can exist without neurons is irrelevant to discussion of souls. However, when we're talking about the immaterial nature of the soul, i.e. the spiritual part of a human being, that does not mean that it does not require some physical substrate to exist - nothing is known that doesn't require some physical substrate of one sort or another. But the soul, like many things, can exist in whole or part on many different types of physical substrates.


:ask:

Immaterial nature. Hm.

I'm really not sure. You may have an unnecessary dichotomy (immaterial plus substrate). That's an odd thing for a physicalist to have.

I accept that it's hard to avoid using dualist language at times and that we all succumb to it.


I'm happy to fix the language problems. When I think immaterial I think of the immaterial quality of information - the way it's not bound to one material. The substrate isn't the information. The organization of the substrate carries the information or you could say, the information organizes the substrate.

The way this usually works, pretty much in any field, is that you define what a term means and then the common meanings for that word are irrelevant to the discussion. For example work = force X distance. Not what most people think of when you say work.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#491  Postby John Platko » Mar 20, 2017 2:29 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:I would suggest that if we want our IP to last it should have the same quality that a gene needs to last, it should be useful for survival in those it is passed on to (or if you want to be more technically fussy, useful for it's own survival). So IP that tends towards being helpful for life to grow will have more legs. And IP that incorporates better explanations of reality, i.e. is a better approximation of the truth, will out last poorer approximations of the truth. IP that has those qualities will have a higher probability to thrive and spawn new IP than IP that provides explanations that are poorer. e.g. not many people are generating new IP using Aristotle's metaphysics compared to the people using modern physics. And I don't think the IP of the those using metaphysics today is going to have legs.


Yes, I think this is better than anything I suggested. You are using the analogy with genes and evolution, which seems as useful here as it would if we are talking about memes (which in many ways your 'snippets of IP' do seem to resemble).

Let me add a thought, possibly one that you will like, given the other thread you linked me to. Is a catchy tune useful for survival? If so, survival of what? Itself only? I try to use this example because a catchy tune doesn't seem to need to be true or false, or an explanation.


I would say a tune IP is subject to a fitness function which determines the probability of its survival. If we dive down deep into a tune - which we can do in my other thread, we can start to see what qualities come into play. Some of them seem to be very mathematical - the relationships between notes that are in harmony and notes that are not. The fitness function is determined by a complex set of personal, cultural, and physical variables. Some of which change with time (modern music has more dissonance than earlier music), some of which seem more fundamentally rooted in our physical reality. For example, the way a string vibrates, or air moves in a pipe, seems to have a large effect on musical note IP.

I like musical examples because they are not trivial, they are interesting, they lend themselves more to computer modeling and experiment than some other forms of IP.




John Platko wrote:But I don't want to give the impression that IP is just about conscious information. IP is about more than that. There's our unconscious IP too.


Indeed.

Though I do think that if we want to talk about souls (or the equivalent by a different name) the bigger issue is the durability of people's IPs. To my way of thinking, these do not even remain intact while we're alive. In a trivial way, my IP is not what it was yesterday. In a less trivial way, a person's personality may change dramatically over the years, they may become mean-spirited and cynical if life does not pan out for them. And in a very fundamental way, if they get severe old age dementia it is not really them any more.


The way I think about that is to imagine a person like a sparkler (the firework sort of thing). The sparkler is lit by some other fire and then it continues on its dynamic process of burning and sending off sparks. It's in a continual state of change, it's certainly not the same sparkler it was before it was lit. As the sparks fly off, most burn out and their effect does little more than contribute to pollution, but another spark might land on a piece of dry wood and burn down the house. Perhaps the sparkler gets captured by the imagination of a child watching it and that inspires her to study chemistry. When the sparkler burns out, is it gone?

My interest in this subject is essentially an optimization/minimization problem. How to optimize the sparklers tendency to inspire the study of chemistry and how to minimize the sparklers tendency to burn down the house. And while there is a ripple effect of the sparkler in time, my ability to study the dynamics is best concentrated on shorter term effects, how to keep the sparkler from burning the child's hand. Not so much the very long term ripple effects caused by the house burning down.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#492  Postby John Platko » Mar 20, 2017 2:48 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:Now consider again the set of all physically possible transformations. For almost every such transformation, the story of how it could happen is the story of how knowledge might be created and applied to cause it. Part of that story is, in almost all cases, the story of how people (intelligent beings) would create that knowledge, and of why they would retain the proposal to apply it in that way while rejecting or amending rival proposals (so a significant determinant is moral knowledge). Hence, from the constructor-theoretic perspective, physics is almost entirely the theory of the effects that knowledge (abstract constructors) can have on the physical world, via people. But again, the prevailing conception conceals this.


Oh I'm not sure about this rather bold claim. This may or may not be a good description of something, but I don't think it's a good description of physics. 'Almost entirely via people'? My guess is that there was a LOT of physics going on in the universe, for a very long time, before people came along, and still is, in what appears to be the vast majority of the universe not peopled.


I take it that he is just talking about Knowledge there, i.e. information chunks that have certain attributes. There is some of this in DNA, but he's saying the majority of Knowledge (that we can measure - i.e. excluding alien life forms etc.) comes from humans.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#493  Postby archibald » Mar 21, 2017 10:56 am

John Platko wrote:It would have been more detailed if Deutsch used set theory to explain it. Which could be done, but not very appropriate in the situation he was asked the question. But it's not like he was coughing up a deepity. I will tuck it into the same IP pouch in my head were I keep, for example, the constructor rule of thumb: "measure twice, cut once" that another master taught me.

And Deutsch's explanation of the quality of explanations explains why he sailed beyond the current paradigm of physics in search of a paradigm that would be better able at explaining what is inexplicable in the current paradigm. It also explained a lot of what I do to understand ideas like: soul, demon, God, ... Search out better modes of explanation for what people are trying to explain.


I think we are going in circles here. Until Deutsch comes up with something, I'm fine with calling his theory 'potentially interesting'. Beyond that, It's wait and see. For all we know CT could be this year's new fashion and next year's fish and chip wrapping paper. The fact that he is trying to come up with something new and that you are trying to come up with something new (about something else) has to be judged on how successful either of you are. In all honesty, so far, I don't think either of you has really come up with much that is new or better than any existing paradigm.

John Platko wrote:

But why were the atomists winners? It's not like they were right, atoms are not solid, atoms are not indivisible. What was captured in their explanation that was right enough for them to be winners?

My answer is that their description captured the archetype, the most important attribute, of the atom.

Deutsch's explanation of explanations is useful independent of CT. And CT may not be a useful model to encapsulate all known physics, as Deutsch desires, but that doesn't make it useless. It has already teased out bits of understanding about the behavior of reproducing chunks of information, Knowledge, memes, whatever you want to call them.


At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseam, the analogy with atom only works with other things if those other things go on to be validated and vindicated the way atom was (and the way that other speculative assertions by ancients weren't). This is not yet the case for either what you are saying about souls or what Deutsch is saying about CT.

John Platko wrote:I would suggest more detailed talk, giving examples of observed IP, and descriptions of what mechanisms could account for their behavior.


Sure, and in a way we have been doing that when we have been considering human IP, which at this time I am seeing as very fragile and transitory. This is the example I'm happy to continue discussing in more detail, since it seems in many ways to be rather central to the quite anthropocentric nature of a lot of what has been put forward about souls.

John Platko wrote:The word immortal is not attached at the hip to the word soul. Not everyone who uses the word soul thinks of it as being immortal. I think of it, in the same way the atom was thought of as being indivisible. The atom is hard to divide but it's not indivisible. I'm happy to use a different word, one that captures the idea that the life span of IP is not limited by biological factors, only the need for a physical substrate and success in it's ability to survive. Any ideas? "enduring"? :dunno:


I think it's already fairly well accepted that things like ideas can be perpetuated through generations. This is not a new idea. I'm not yet sure what this discussion is adding to it.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#494  Postby archibald » Mar 21, 2017 10:58 am

John Platko wrote:I'm happy to fix the language problems. When I think immaterial I think of the immaterial quality of information - the way it's not bound to one material. The substrate isn't the information. The organization of the substrate carries the information or you could say, the information organizes the substrate.

The way this usually works, pretty much in any field, is that you define what a term means and then the common meanings for that word are irrelevant to the discussion. For example work = force X distance. Not what most people think of when you say work.


Ok, but I think you are assuming a duality from the outset, between the immaterial and the substrate. As a physicalist, I'm happier to say that there's only one, and that the physical IS the information, or vice versa.

I'm happy to explore this specific idea, because I'm not wedded to it.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#495  Postby archibald » Mar 21, 2017 11:01 am

John Platko wrote:I take it that he is just talking about Knowledge there, i.e. information chunks that have certain attributes. There is some of this in DNA, but he's saying the majority of Knowledge (that we can measure - i.e. excluding alien life forms etc.) comes from humans.


Well, he did specifically use the word physics, not the word knowledge. If he's conflating or equating the two then I think that's a bit ropey. Either way, he said physics and I can only judge what he says by what he actually says.

I still totally disagree in either case. It all sounds very anthropocentric.

Apologies for not addressing every single point you made. Please take it that if I haven't, it's because I'm pretty fine with the ones I haven't commented on. I wouldn't wish to give the impression that I'm being wholly dismissive or critical. I wouldn't be having this extended discussion if I thought it might not potentially come up with something. :)

At this point, I'm just not sure if it has yet. Well, no, it has, it's been fun. What I mean is, it doesn't seem to have come up with anything yet that's essentially different from the way I would have already seen or explained things.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#496  Postby John Platko » Mar 21, 2017 1:44 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:It would have been more detailed if Deutsch used set theory to explain it. Which could be done, but not very appropriate in the situation he was asked the question. But it's not like he was coughing up a deepity. I will tuck it into the same IP pouch in my head were I keep, for example, the constructor rule of thumb: "measure twice, cut once" that another master taught me.

And Deutsch's explanation of the quality of explanations explains why he sailed beyond the current paradigm of physics in search of a paradigm that would be better able at explaining what is inexplicable in the current paradigm. It also explained a lot of what I do to understand ideas like: soul, demon, God, ... Search out better modes of explanation for what people are trying to explain.


I think we are going in circles here. Until Deutsch comes up with something, I'm fine with calling his theory 'potentially interesting'. Beyond that, It's wait and see. For all we know CT could be this year's new fashion and next year's fish and chip wrapping paper. The fact that he is trying to come up with something new and that you are trying to come up with something new (about something else) has to be judged on how successful either of you are. In all honesty, so far, I don't think either of you has really come up with much that is new or better than any existing paradigm.


Are you sure you understand the power of Deutsch's theory to bring a new perspective to all sorts of things?

And exactly what do you mean by "judged on how successful either of you are." I'd like to see how that metric applies to other explanations.




John Platko wrote:

But why were the atomists winners? It's not like they were right, atoms are not solid, atoms are not indivisible. What was captured in their explanation that was right enough for them to be winners?

My answer is that their description captured the archetype, the most important attribute, of the atom.

Deutsch's explanation of explanations is useful independent of CT. And CT may not be a useful model to encapsulate all known physics, as Deutsch desires, but that doesn't make it useless. It has already teased out bits of understanding about the behavior of reproducing chunks of information, Knowledge, memes, whatever you want to call them.


At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseam, the analogy with atom only works with other things if those other things go on to be validated and vindicated the way atom was (and the way that other speculative assertions by ancients weren't). This is not yet the case for either what you are saying about souls or what Deutsch is saying about CT.


I thought we already agreed that there is some aspect of a person that can live after they die. You think it's fragile, I think it's more durable than you. Perhaps it best to check back with your ideas on that after you had more than a couple of days to think about the IP that lives on after a person dies.

The point being, I think you already have validated the concept of soul being similar to the concept of atom - some immaterial (in the sense that information is immaterial) aspect of a person (IP) that lives on after a person dies. All we seem to disagree about is the "regarded as immortal" part, which to me is like arguing if atoms are indivisible in the sense the ancients meant it. To argue that miss the main point under discussion. Which is, there is something immaterial about a person that lives on after them. That something continues to effect reality. It can enrich others lives or it can be detrimental to their lives. And that makes it worth worrying about.


John Platko wrote:I would suggest more detailed talk, giving examples of observed IP, and descriptions of what mechanisms could account for their behavior.


Sure, and in a way we have been doing that when we have been considering human IP, which at this time I am seeing as very fragile and transitory. This is the example I'm happy to continue discussing in more detail, since it seems in many ways to be rather central to the quite anthropocentric nature of a lot of what has been put forward about souls.


Yes, you say you think IP is fragile, but you don't give any explanation why. What do you base your opinion on? In my family, there are regular observations of IP from people long dead. And that IP seems to be thriving in the youngest generation. I wish some of that IP was as fragile as you suggest.



John Platko wrote:The word immortal is not attached at the hip to the word soul. Not everyone who uses the word soul thinks of it as being immortal. I think of it, in the same way the atom was thought of as being indivisible. The atom is hard to divide but it's not indivisible. I'm happy to use a different word, one that captures the idea that the life span of IP is not limited by biological factors, only the need for a physical substrate and success in it's ability to survive. Any ideas? "enduring"? :dunno:


I think it's already fairly well accepted that things like ideas can be perpetuated through generations. This is not a new idea. I'm not yet sure what this discussion is adding to it.


I'm not claiming that the idea that there is some immaterial part of a person that lives on after death is a new idea. :no:. (It's an old and obvious idea which should not require 25 pages for me to explain - but we're dragging along a lot of baggage.)

Rather, I'm showing that there is a better explanation of what that something is than the one you might get in a religious setting. But because the religious setting explanation may not be as revealing as IP, or meme, or some future neurological explanation might be, that doesn't mean that it's useless, anymore than the explanation that the atomists put forth was useless.
The evidence for this is seen by how some of the techniques developed by the religious have lasted and found their way into modern psychology in renamed forms as self-talk and mindful meditation to help ease the luggage burdens some might have with more traditional words.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#497  Postby archibald » Mar 21, 2017 2:15 pm

John Platko wrote:Are you sure you understand the power of Deutsch's theory to bring a new perspective to all sorts of things?


John, I think I may have stated my position on CT. It's vague and speculative at this point. I can't answer further hypothetical questions about its supposed power.

John Platko wrote:And exactly what do you mean by "judged on how successful either of you are." I'd like to see how that metric applies to other explanations.


But I already did this. Compared to, say, information theory, which has found applications in many many areas, CT has so far come up with nothing much.


John Platko wrote:I thought we already agreed that there is some aspect of a person that can live after they die. You think it's fragile, I think it's more durable than you. Perhaps it best to check back with your ideas on that after you had more than a couple of days to think about the IP that lives on after a person dies.


I'm not sure what you think I need to check back on. Some information (patterned) may survive death of an individual, but so what? It's not the 'IP' of that person. That dies with what you're calling the physical substrate. Are you merely saying 'bits' of information survive? So what? I don't know anyone who would dispute that. We've got genes and memes and neurological memory formation and a host of other interactive processes in the melting pot already.

John Platko wrote:The point being, I think you already have validated the concept of soul being similar to the concept of atom - some immaterial (in the sense that information is immaterial) aspect of a person (IP) that lives on after a person dies. All we seem to disagree about is the "regarded as immortal" part, which to me is like arguing if atoms are indivisible in the sense the ancients meant it. To argue that miss the main point under discussion. Which is, there is something immaterial about a person that lives on after them. That something continues to effect reality. It can enrich others lives or it can be detrimental to their lives. And that makes it worth worrying about.


No I haven't validated your analogy with the atom. I've been at pains repeatedly to say why I think the analogy does not necessarily extend. And no I haven't agreed that anything immaterial or immortal lives on either. I've quite specifically said I don't agree.

It may, as you say, be worth worrying about our legacy to future others, but I don't think we need a new paradigm to do that.

John Platko wrote:Yes, you say you think IP is fragile, but you don't give any explanation why. What do you base your opinion on? In my family, there are regular observations of IP from people long dead. And that IP seems to be thriving in the youngest generation. I wish some of that IP was as fragile as you suggest.


Whatever. If you are only talking about bits of IP (and not, say, "someone's IP" which is what is traditionally understood as their 'soul'), then we don't need a new paradigm or even a new language to talk about that. It's already common currency. In that sense, you aren't really saying anything new.


John Platko wrote:I'm not claiming that the idea that there is some immaterial part of a person that lives on after death is a new idea. :no:. (It's an old and obvious idea which should not require 25 pages for me to explain - but we're dragging along a lot of baggage.)


Hang on a second. You're the one who appears to be continually dragging along the baggage. You did it there again, when you said that it's obvious that something immaterial lives on. I would dispute that that is in any way obvious.

John Platko wrote:The evidence for this is seen by how some of the techniques developed by the religious have lasted and found their way into modern psychology in renamed forms as self-talk and mindful meditation to help ease the luggage burdens some might have with more traditional words.


You may have gotten that the wrong way round. It's not that self-talk is a form of prayer, it's that prayer is a form of self talk. Given that it's likely that consciousness and sentience evolved before religion developed, I'd guess that human self talk came first.

Anyway, does it matter? I agree with you either way. But I'm really losing track of what your point actually is by now.
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#498  Postby John Platko » Mar 21, 2017 2:28 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:I'm happy to fix the language problems. When I think immaterial I think of the immaterial quality of information - the way it's not bound to one material. The substrate isn't the information. The organization of the substrate carries the information or you could say, the information organizes the substrate.

The way this usually works, pretty much in any field, is that you define what a term means and then the common meanings for that word are irrelevant to the discussion. For example work = force X distance. Not what most people think of when you say work.


Ok, but I think you are assuming a duality from the outset, between the immaterial and the substrate. As a physicalist, I'm happier to say that there's only one, and that the physical IS the information, or vice versa.


Why does " physical IS the information" makes you happy? It would make me very :waah: not to be able to dissociate the non physical qualities of information from whatever physical substrate(s) it is organizing. And the computers we are using would not be realizable it the armies of people needed to make them a reality all had to think "physical is the information." Can anyone wrap their head around the physical state of a computer at any moment - even when it's not plugged in? I think not. We can only fantasize about such things, we can't know them. Physicalist must be some kind of religion. It requires faith that a bottom up explanation makes sense of all. The behavior of particles colliding, and billiard balls colliding can be extended to explain everything - except reality is complicated so we really can't do it until the end times - Amen.

What Deutsch and others as the link you provided show, people working at the edge of physical knowledge are stating to explore the possibility that something fundamental is missing from our explanations. That missing something is a better understanding of what information is and its' behavior. Deutsch exposes the hand waiving in Shannon's information theory, Shannon never explained exactly what information was. The idea information is like atom, or soul - an archetypal idea has been captured but further explanation is required for better understanding. As Deutsch made perfectly clear in that video where he explained explanations - the mode we use to understand something can limit how far that understanding can go. It seems to me that in the same way a conservative Christian limits their understanding of what a soul could be by insisting on a particular sects mode of explanation, so too a Physicalist can limit their understanding of what information is by insisting on a dogma like: "physical IS the information."


I'm happy to explore this specific idea, because I'm not wedded to it.


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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#499  Postby archibald » Mar 21, 2017 2:41 pm

John Platko wrote:Can anyone wrap their head around the physical state of a computer at any moment - even when it's not plugged in? I think not. We can only fantasize about such things, we can't know them. Physicalist must be some kind of religion. It requires faith that a bottom up explanation makes sense of all. The behavior of particles colliding, and billiard balls colliding can be extended to explain everything - except reality is complicated so we really can't do it until the end times - Amen.




'We don't understand something therefore [insert preferred alternative version of reality].

John, have you any idea just how frequently religious people come on to atheist forums claiming that because there's a gap in current understanding (or a gap in the fossil record, or whatever) that it can automatically be filled with some new....notion? Because at the end of the day that's all you're trying to do, and it's a sort of religious meme. Your problem is that you need to substantiate the validity of what you are saying, not just essentially tell us that you believe that it's powerful. We can't feed off the promises you optimistically offer.

That there are physical/material entities is the default position for very good reasons. That there are non-physical/immaterial entities is less clear and needs to be argued for, and I think you still have some work to do on that. That information can be instantiated in different 'substrates' does not mean that it can or does exist of itself, and I thought you already agreed on this. So what is 'immaterial information'?

I might say this, if 'something' can only exist as physical, it's more difficult to argue that it's non-physical than that it is. Try this with anything else, like 'redness' for example. Is there an immaterial redness? Can it be observed?
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Re: Free Will and Pascal's Wager

#500  Postby John Platko » Mar 21, 2017 2:52 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:I take it that he is just talking about Knowledge there, i.e. information chunks that have certain attributes. There is some of this in DNA, but he's saying the majority of Knowledge (that we can measure - i.e. excluding alien life forms etc.) comes from humans.


Well, he did specifically use the word physics, not the word knowledge. If he's conflating or equating the two then I think that's a bit ropey. Either way, he said physics and I can only judge what he says by what he actually says.

I still totally disagree in either case. It all sounds very anthropocentric.


Deutsch packs a lot in a few words, I think I'll repost his comment and highlight what I think he's saying:

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:Now consider again the set of all physically possible transformations. For almost every such transformation, the story of how it could happen is the story of how knowledge might be created and applied to cause it. Part of that story is, in almost all cases, the story of how people (intelligent beings) would create that knowledge, and of why they would retain the proposal to apply it in that way while rejecting or amending rival proposals (so a significant determinant is moral knowledge). Hence, from the constructor-theoretic perspective, physics is almost entirely the theory of the effects that knowledge (abstract constructors) can have on the physical world, via people. But again, the prevailing conception conceals this.


I think he's saying that the story we have to explain physically possible transformations is a function of both those transformations and the way we go about thinking of those transformations. (like the different ways we thought about the atom as time went on). Given that, (and I gather he thinks that the mode of thought plays a bigger role in our understanding than the physically possible transformation), the theory of physics we have is almost entirely dependent on how IP goes about creating these theories. But if you look at a physics theory, you don't see the role that knowledge played in framing the physical transformations in a certain way.

I don't see how that is contentious.
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