May 14, 2017

Natural world doesn't entirely obey computable physics


I am not sure from which authority you are able to say that these are the only four. Why not Plato, Nagarjuna, Avicenna, Aquinas, Spinoza and Kant. You even say these are the only four. This seems unsubstantiated. You would have to go through reading all the primary sources from Plato to Russell and Sartre to reach such a conclusion.

To demand that all philosophers and teachers of philosophy should be familiar with Hegel is like demanding of all physicists or teachers of physics to have read all the works of Galileo. That you may have a liking for these four philosophers is fine, but please do not make it a demand on everyone.

The original dialectic is of Heraclitus and Parmenides in the West. But we have scant writings of them and then we have the dialectic method in Plato. Hegel's is a takeoff from Kant as all post Kantian philosophy is. Kant gets a lot from Leibniz and Leibniz is the one I would rather spend time reading and rereading.

May 13, 2017

Only four thinkers have been successful in coherently narrating the mystery of our existence: Hegel, Whitehead, Sri Aurobindo, and Heidegger
I pick out the four in the sense that they provide a neat (single-book) narrative but for others, it has to be sourced from multiple texts and the end result might lack fidelity. Besides, in these four, one can find elements of others in the past and contemporary science too.

May 13, 2017

Sri Aurobindo wrote about Heraclitus as follows:
"The philosophy and thought of the Greeks is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating, the most fruitful of clarities the world has yet had... Professor R. D. Ranade has recently published a small treatise on the philosophy of Heraclitus. From the paging of the treatise ..."

Don't hesitate to ask any question, Priyedarshi. My problem is that I work on Mechanism since a very long time, and it is hard to sum up. It is normal that you find that there is a lot, and I am aware that what I say might seem a bit out of the ordinary. Note also that I do not defend mechanism. In fact I show it refutable, but then, today the evidences seems to defend it. It is highly counter-intuitive, but that is what we can expect: our brains have been made to survive, not to search the truth.

I like mechanism because it provides a very precise theology, with a transparent interprétation in term of numbers and numbers relations, and that theology gives a pretty etalon to compare all theologies. The theology of the machine appears to be close to Parmenides, Plato, Moeratus of Gades, Plotinus, Proclus, and other neoplatonists. If mechanism would be true, it would not be a coincidence, but a wittnessing that thiose researcher where autoreferentially correct in their introspective studies.

May 14, 2017

On 13 May 2017, at 08:22, john.kineman wrote:

[A lot of the discussion on this forum centers around ideas about mechanisms and/or non-mechanisms. And yet it is clear to me that the scientific world has a very limited idea about this difference, or believes there is no significant distinction. So, I think it is worth discussing.
I have studied the work of mathematical biologist Robert Rosen for the past 20 years, in a very deep way and even extending his theories about life. MOST fundamental to his work is this distinction about what is a mechanism and what is not. He convincingly argued, using mathematical proofs in Category Theory along with biological empiricism (the conclusions require both), that life cannot be a mathematical machine.]

I am aware of the work of Robert Rosen, and I think that many of its saying is correct, but eventually I think such analysis confirms more mechanism than it attacks it. He weakened its conclusion by his critics on Church's thesis. He seems to have a reductionist conception of machine, but the machine themselves refutes already that form of reductionism.

[There have been mainly three kinds of response to this work. One is strong confirmation and support for it. In opposition tends to be arguments that it is irrelevant or that a mistake was made (generally not comprehending the work - these are mainly wild guesses wanting to be on the 'right' side of history defending the mainstream).]

The mainstream is more physicalist than it is possible with mechanism. Rosen also is physicalist, at least implicitly.

[The third response is to ignore it, a response that is facilitated by the difficulty in comprehending Category Theory (although that was only one line of reasoning). Rosen provided theorems and proofs but presented the claim in common language. He did not want to do a synthesis, however, which several after him have attempted. Part of his socio-political belief was that the knowledge was too early for acceptance, and I think he also felt it would hurt his career. He did well in professional life by keeping his statements highly technical, and I think that made it easy for people who understood to follow them, and easy for those who felt threatened to ignore them. Here is a plain-spoken piece he wrote as a commentary on other work: Rosen, R. (1991) Beyond dynamical systems. Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 14, 217–220.
In the above reference Rosen discusses some very obvious things about transcendent mathematical functions that can only be approached in the limit of computable (simulable) closed-form quantitative mathematics. The reason no closed-form solution is available is because the function does not exist within a closed syntax, which is what the positivistic classical science (Hilbert's Formalization program) was assuming and where we got the idea of a mechanism.]

But Hilbert confused provability and computability. Today, we know that Church thesis makes compuatbility into an absolute notion, at the price of making provability a relative, forever incomplete notion.

[In effect he demonstrates conclusively that mechanisms exist within contextual definitions that provide an external "semantics".]

Yes, but not necessarily a physical one. The arithmetical reality defines all the context possible, and indeed gives some role to non mechanical context, and imposes some non computability in the machine theology and in the machine physics. The problem might be that Rosen still use mechanism in a materialist context, which, I think (and can argue) are incompatible.

[We get away with a mechanistic view in classical physics by pushing the external semantics -- the origin problem -- outside the system of study. By doing that we thus study only simulable problems - mechanisms, and it works because a highly interactive dynamical system, such as our world and universe, will establish a common context - which we see as space-time. The exceptions exist as a result of causal boundaries within that context (quantum isolation as in Hameroff/Penrose model for consciousness, or super-luminal space-time expansion in cosmology, to name a few).]

But Hameroff seems to accept mechanism. Only Penrose is against Mechanism. Hameroff seems OK with the idea that the brain is a quantum computer, which do not violate Church's thesis. If the brain is a quantum computer, the immaterialist consequences of mechanism stiil go through, and we have to derive physics from the theology of numbers. Only Penrose is coherent with that respect. He keeps materialism, and so reject mechanism.

[The thing is that ANY space-time separation IS such a causal boundary. Even the distance between events - which is why uncertainty appears. If the scale of context-defining interactions is finer than the scale of observation, it looks solid. If the other way around, you must get multiple contexts - the appearance of relativity or multiple universes.]

The separation of the numbers is enough for that task. The problem with mechanism, is that we cannot invoke the "primarily physical" at all. This is not well known, and I can give reference, or explain this entirely.

[Mechanisms are contextual and entailed with their contexts. Therefore, contextual relations with mechanisms must be studied to understand reality. Neither contexts nor mechanisms are 'wrong' or dismissable; they for a complementarity principle at the level of existence and operation as fundamentally immiscible knowledge. Immiscible means they cannot be reduced, but the relation, which is a holism, can be known. Maybe instead of the worn-out term 'holism' we should invent the term "relationism" as opposed to mechanism.]

I am not sure I understand. Mechanism is also a relationism, and by the first person indeterminacy (no machine can know which machine she is, nor whoch computations support it, it is an highly holist relationism which is in play. Rosen is right and well inspired, but what he says is a logical consequence of mechanism. I think that he misunderstood Church's thesis, perhaps also Gödel's theorem, which makes Mechanism into a sort of vaccine again reductionism.

[More generally, however, responses over his career (he passed in 1998) have been noticeably absent of any disproof or much counter argument except to dismiss the question. There have been some papers claiming he made a mistake, but they were quickly debunked (e.g.: Louie, A.H. (2007) A Living System Must Have Noncomputable Models. Artificial Life, 13, 293–297.)
I have posted references to this work on this list before, and I'll add some here. But I realize that the literature is overwhelming and none of us can manage to sort it ourselves without a compelling track to follow. Reading Rosen is a mind-opening experience - some say mind-blowing experience. I have compared its logic to the Veda, although Rosen himself did not have religious interests as such, nor, it appears, any inquiry into Eastern Philosophy. In essence he re-discovered Eastern philosophy de-novo (although his ideas were certainly informed by the early quantum physicists, many of whom were Vedic scholars). I have referred to him (in a commentary in the 2012 republication of his book on Anticipatory Systems) as "The Einstein of Biology". Those familiar with his work tend to agree.]

That is why I can appreciate some of Rosen conclusion, but again, they are enforced by "modern" (digital) mechanism. I show also the big price: we have to derive physics from arithmetic (through machine self-reference), and, up to now, it seems possible and partially working.

[A mathematical machine is what we SHOULD mean by mechanism.]

Nice to hear that.

The word "model" is  a bit ambiguous here. Physicists and logicians use the word "model" in quite opposite sense. But mechanism entails this for the two sense of the word.

Most properties and attributes of machine are not computable/simulable, including its material constitution which has to be a non computable sum of all computation going through its actual state of mind. Rosen argument is correct, as far as I can judge, but works in the mechanist frame.

[An iteration of ‘‘efficient cause of efficient cause’’ is inherently hierarchical. A closed path of efficient causation must form a hierarchical cycle. Both the hierarchy and the cycle (closed loop) are essential attributes of this closure.]

Not sure I understand this. I have to say that I am skeptical on the notion of cause. causality is a highly emergent notion, with Mechanism.

[In formal systems, hierarchical cycles are manifested by impredicativities, or the inability to replace these self-referential loops with finite syntactic algorithms.]

Here I disagree strongly. Kleene's second recursion theorem shows that Mechanism handles very well those self-referential loops. Indeed, so much that some want to forbid it in computer science, but then they lost the universal computer (which is not much disturbing for them, as the universal machine is the non controllable element which can crash unpredictably).

[Impredicativities are simply part of the semantic legacy of mathematics as a language, in their expression of transcendental operations. Further elaboration on this concept may be found in abundance in [6]. The nonsimulable model in Theorem 2.6 contains a hierarchical closed loop that corresponds to the closed path of efficient causation in the natural system being modeled. In other words, it is a formal system with an impredicative loop of inferential entailment. Thus we also have:
THEOREM 2.7: If an impredicative loop of inferential entailment exists for a formal system, then it is not simulable.]

Here I do agree with Rosen, and got a similar result from mechanism (the thesis that "I" am a machine, or that "my body" is a machine). It entails that both the soul of the machine (even in its most classical definition by Theaetetus) and its materials constitution is NOT simulable.

Mechanism in philosophy of mind should not be confused with Mechanism in physics. If we are machine, then the physical reality cannot be machine simulable, nor the psychological reality (and still less the theological reality).

[A natural system that has a nonsimulable model is defined by Rosen as a complex system (Chap. 19 of [6]). A necessary condition for a natural system to be an organism is that it is closed to efficient causation (Chap. 1 of [6]). Theorem 2.7 then says an organism must be complex. The implication on the concept of artificial life is this:
THEOREM 2.8: A living system must have noncomputable models.]

I agree, in the sense "A living system must have non-computable realities".

Agains, that follows from the assumption of the existence of a level of description of my body such that I survive with a digital transplant done at that level. This entais that the physical is the sum of all computations in arithmetic going through my state, and that sum is not computable (up to the point of predicting some non computable element in physics).

[All Rosen’s theorems have been mathematically proven (although Rosen’s presentations are not in the ordinary form of definition-lemma-theorem-proof-corollary that one finds in conventional mathematics journals). Indeed, no logical fallacy in Rosen’s arguments has ever been demonstrated. Counterexamples cannot exist for proven theorems. For a detailed exposition of the underlying logic, the reader is encouraged to consult [2].
Note that Rosen’s conclusion is not that artificial life is impossible. It is, rather, that life is not computable: However one models life, natural or artificial, one cannot succeed by computation alone. Life is not definable by an algorithm. There is, indeed, practical verification from computer science that attempts at implementation of a hierarchical closed loop lead to deadlock, and hence are forbidden in systems programming [7].]

I agree, but it is a consequence of mechanism, and we can guess this, because I don't think Rosen invoked actual infinities in its argument. What Rosen (and many) missed is that mechanism makes the "body" part of the mind-body problem more problematic, and indeed, there is no other choice than to extract the physics from the machine or number  theology, and that provides a way to test mechanism. At first sight, physics looks too much computable, and local, but thanks to Quantum Mechanics, the natural world seems to obey to the necessary not entirely computable physics, and locally non localness imposed by the mechanist assumption in philosophy of mind/theology.

So, to sum up, I think Rosen is correct in his conclusion, but not t for its starting assumption. Its conclusion are close to what the ideally correct machine already can guess when introspecting itself deep enough.

Bruno Marchal
May 14, 2017

I fully agree with Rosen that there is no purely syntactic "bridge" to contextualize, however i fully disagree that this is the case of  nonlinearity which generically has torsion as its physical AND SEMIOTIC embodiment and origin, The closed loops that Rosen precisely invoked, but extended to multiple contextualization as HyperKlein bottle.

As for Rosen's "revolution" he referred to that part of his theory in which he wanted to  construct one universal example of his categories, through consideration of differentials that precisely lead to the topologies of torsion!!

Rosen should have, at least, taken a basic pregraduate course on calculus on manifolds; his ignorance of the basic maths of his own proposal was, to say the least, appalling. His manifesto for this "revolution" in terms of differential forms he copied and pasted in almost all of his books verbatim, with no elaborations. He actually did not heed his mentor's, Rashevsky, insights.

(I discussed this in Part I of my latest trilogy and the whole background, you may see you my "Klein bottle Logophysics, Self-reference, Genomic Topologies, Harmonics and Evolution").

Not to mention his ignorance that his own proposal had been started to be elaborated in physics already 50 years before him, and in biology 20 years before him, that both were being ellaborated contemporarily to him !!

For all his hype and shortcomings, i agree with some of his insights, and consider to have elaborated related ideas in my own work on the Klein bottle logophysics. As for the issue of computability, genomes appear to be algorithmically generated from the Klein bottle and very simple automata, incorporating contextuality in the Klein bottle logic, from its very form !

Diego Lucio Rapoport
May 14, 2017

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