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comment by applewood

About halfway through the article so far and enjoying it. The only thought I have at the moment is that looking at the universe in a hardware/software model seems to restrict perspectives a bit.

    One might object that this is plain anthropomorphism, an illegitimate projection of human qualities on nature. After all, why do we think that physical structure needs some intrinsic realizer? Is it not because our own brains have intrinsic, conscious properties, and we like to think of nature in familiar terms? But this objection does not hold. The idea that intrinsic properties are needed to distinguish real and concrete from mere abstract structure is entirely independent of consciousness. Moreover, the charge of anthropomorphism can be met by a countercharge of human exceptionalism. If the brain is indeed entirely material, why should it be so different from the rest of matter when it comes to intrinsic properties?

Love this paragraph, by the way.

    A second important objection is the so-called combination problem. How and why does the complex, unified consciousness of our brains result from putting together particles with simple consciousness? This question looks suspiciously similar to the original hard problem. I and other defenders of panpsychism have argued that the combination problem is nevertheless not as hard as the original hard problem. In some ways, it is easier to see how to get one form of conscious matter (such as a conscious brain) from another form of conscious matter (such as a set of conscious particles) than how to get conscious matter from non-conscious matter. But many find this unconvincing. Perhaps it is just a matter of time, though. The original hard problem, in one form or another, has been pondered by philosophers for centuries. The combination problem has received much less attention, which gives more hope for a yet undiscovered solution.

And this one too.

Great find, blackbootz, I'm really enjoying this.

Shout out to mk, because I see loose parallels with your "The brain is not a computer" article.

Devac  ·  329 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The only thought I have at the moment is that looking at the universe in a hardware/software model seems to restrict perspectives a bit.

In what non-trivial way does it restrict perspectives? To me, it was always a shorthand. A linguistic tool of sorts, not unlike explaining geometry with drawings (you don't need them, and they aren't more than crude approximations of the real thing). I'm genuinely curious about your reasons, though I'm gonna get fussy if it's going to be "things thus far unexplainable by it cannot be explained by it."

applewood  ·  329 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Keeping in mind, I'm no scientist and there are people out there way more qualified than me to be able to discuss the merits and limits of models. That said, in this particular instance, by saying "This is either software or hardware" or "this is either a particle or a wave" we're locking ourselves into think about "either or" and preventing ourselves from trying to grasp the enormity of "this is."

If we label something as "hardware" we're trying to make that thing conform to our understanding of what "hardware" implies. But, if we don't label it as one or thing or another, we allow ourselves to embrace the challenges and opportunities to try and grapple with what "it" really "is." We're not trying to conform it to us, but ourselves to it.

Devac  ·  329 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I wouldn't care about it conforming to empirical science, we're talking philosophy. As far as I care, the matter could be the result of consciousness (however you'd define it), but labels are still going to help. Do those software/hardware analogies have flaws? Yes, absolutely. Strict labels are one of them, which you can illustrate with a 256-bit (or, hell, go past binary and make it 17-based—technicallities don't matter) emulator on a 32-bit machine. It's hardware running software emulating other hardware that could run completely different software – one exceeding many of the original hardware's restrictions. Or is the software only the top thing running there? Or should we go by something more general and assume whatever software does on the original hardware is just software?

Here's how you can go funky: if the original hardware in that analogy is the physical matter, the human body would be the next step (software), which created hardware (emulator) like philosophy to emulate higher concepts (software running on the emulator).

Find the limits of labels and go from there. There's no reason to fight against something that's so goddamned convenient and versatile, even if there are strong associations to them.

applewood  ·  329 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You bring up some interesting points and I'll readily admit that by being more interested in biology as a science and pretty much not interested in physics and math at all, I start at a deficit in this conversation. Biology is a lot easier for me to grasp, because a lot of the times the conversations are less about what a thing is in its absolute essence, and more about what a thing is in relation to everything else and all that can imply. For example, a dog is a dog, but it is also an animal, a mammal, a canine, similar to and distinct from other canines, a distinct ecosystem for internal bacteria, a component of the eco system around it, it's an animal that has shaped and has been shaped by the biological and cultural evolution of man, etc. and so on. The conversations that can be had around the single concept of "dog" are near endless because a dog is so many things while only being one thing at the same time. Where as in physics, if someone says "this is an electron," while there's a lot to an electron and what it does, I often feel like the conversations around them are frustratingly limited because people are willing to let themselves limit an electron to "just an electron."

That aside, I think in essence the issue I come across boils down to my disagreeing with this statement . . ,

    There's no reason to fight against something that's so goddamned convenient and versatile, even if there are strong associations to them.

In one way, I don't think that trying to see beyond the limits of a concept is fighting against the said concept, nor rejecting it, nor having any antagonistic relationship with a concept at all. I see it as trying to see around, above, below, and through the concept to try to really get to know a thing as it really is, whether we're talking about an electron or a dog. Because both, while being quite different, are genuinely enormous concepts both as individual components as well as their relation to everything else that they interact with.

In another way, I think we're finally coming to a point, in mathematics, in language, in our ability to explore and discover things literally, and in our ability to explore and discover things conceptually, that we can really try to start understanding and describing things as they are, instead of relying on limiting and often misleading shorthand terms and descriptions. Simply put, we are starting to develop the capabilities to stop considering what things are like and instead really start considering what things are.

Please don't take this as me dismissing what you're saying or trying to antagonize you, because I understand and appreciate where you're coming from. I'm just saying, on a philosophical and personal experience level, "I disagree and here's why."

Edit: Added a sentence for clarification and emphasis.

Devac  ·  329 days ago  ·  link  ·  
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