Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics & Consciousness Message Board › What IS "consciousness"?

What IS "consciousness"?

A former member
Post #: 65
Dear Camilla,

Total non-sequitur.


You originally objected to my claim that I had never used the word "causal" and was unclear what it actually meant in the context of the post under discussion (made by Ian).

Your correctly quoted a large number of cases where I had used the word "causal" as part of the terms "causal network" and "causal network".

I responded that I had only used the word "causal" as part of those terms, and never on its own.

You response was interesting - I shall deal with it in my next post - but quite irrelevant: a total non-sequitur.

It does not matter whether or not you can find the definitions of "causal network" and "causal network". All that matters is that my original statement - namely that that I had never used the word "causal" and did not know what it meant in the context of Ian's post - is in no way invalidated by my use of the terms "causal network" and "causal network".

Maybe I should have said:
. never used the word "causal" on its own
but that was abundantly clear from the context and I deemed it a quite unnecessary addition unless I were dealing with someone who was deliberately attempting to take my words out of context and misconstrue them in a vain attempt to prove me wrong on some point.



Peter

A former member
Post #: 66
Dear Camilla,


It's taken an hour to trawl for your definition of causal network.

I originally proposed it in the eMail exchange between you, Ian, Andrew, and myself.

I don't think it has ever been (correctly) transferred to this message board.

And do you know what?
All the formatting, the all important italicising, is not there.
Do you remember I told you and Ian for it to be corrected so that the copy would not confuse others?
Well now, it just looks silly.
And frankly, I can't recall what was supposed to mean what.
Does anyone else on here know either?

This is the relevant extract from the page:

If I may define “causal network” as an attribute of the system, and “causal network” as a separate entity from the system in question, embodying all the rules/inferences of its “causal network” in a form which can be used to compute/predict the future behaviour of the system.

That is indeed Ian's version of my original eMail statement. Ian's version appears in the last post on page 4 of this thread.

The original had one crucial difference: the second “causal network” was in italics indicating a defined term as distinct from normal English usage, as we had all agreed.

So the original read:

If I may define “causal network” as an attribute of the system, and “causal network” as a separate entity from the system in question, embodying all the rules/inferences of its “causal network” in a form which can be used to compute/predict the future behaviour of the system.

I felt obliged to introduce this distinction as the term "causal network" was being used with both meanings, allowing properties of the causal network of a system to be transferred to its causal network leading to all manner of fallacious conclusions. My terminology was accepted at the time so I have continued to use it.

On a purely technical point, I have suggested that we use underline to denote defined terms in Andrews thread as the message board does not destroy underlines when you quote another post. No such problem with italics existed in the original eMail exchange of course.


Find it yourself since you couldn't be bothered to simply repeat what you had intended by these two duplicates, helpfully, above. Wouldn't that have been the proper thing to do?

No, it would not. I was responding only to your assertion that I had previously used the word causal. The meaning of the terms causal network and causal network were not in dispute or germane. In fact only the meaning of "causal" on its own was relevant. There was no point whatsoever in looking up the definition of causal network vs causal network.


You won't find many people who are going to play your frequently obfuscating games by trawling about to satisfy definitional rules you've set up.

I think it would be quite wonderful if we could conduct this discussion without recourse to precise definition and rigorous logic; but I fear that is not possible.


If I make one suggestion given how much time I've put into this search for so little reward - it's that we should choose proper existant terminology for these different terms. Then anyone can read them.

Excellent idea. You did not demur when I originally proposed this particular terminology. I do not know what the "proper existent terminology" is. I see you have some suggestions...


We can decide about that in the morning - for now I'll assume "causal network" means what it says, the same as causality, external to the system in my book not an attribute.

So if I understand you correctly your "causal network" is the same thing as my "causal network" and you have no term for my "causal network". Hmmmm... no, on re-reading, your causal network seems to have some of the properties of both my causal network and my causal network.


This is actually quite hard, replete with opportunities for misunderstanding, but I hold it to be extremely imortant, so I'll address it in a post of its own, next.



System should only be used really for real world processes

I have carefully used the word system only with the meaning originally proposed by you and Ian.

reserving some form of the term function for the rule and inference bearing descriptor.

We need to get the concepts clear before deciding the terms, and I think the word "function" will continue to cause trouble, but I'm happy to consider any set of terminology that encompasses all the key concepts.

Please see next post.


Those are simply my suggestions.

Then we can unpack the difference between and reliance upon causality, prediction and, if any, supervenient (emergent) behaviours to an agreed standard.

Night night.


Excellent


Thanks


Peter
A former member
Post #: 67
Dear Camilla,

You said:

We can decide about that in the morning - for now I'll assume "causal network" means what it says, the same as causality, external to the system in my book not an attribute.


And my initial thought was:
So if I understand you correctly your "causal network" is the same thing as my "causal network" and you have no term for my "causal network".

But then I thought:
Hmmmm... no. On re-reading, your causal network seems to have some of the properties of both my causal network and my causal network.

I'll re-state my definition again here but clarify it slightly in accordance with what I now think you mean by "causal":

I define “causal network” as an attribute of the system, the physical processes that determine its state through time or the causal processes that cause it to move from one state to another; as opposed to the causal network which is a separate entity from the system in question, embodying all the rules/inferences of its “causal network” but in a form which can be used to (try to)compute or predict the future behaviour of the system.


It's quite possible that the difference between us on this point is entirely semantic, representing only the genuine difficulty in expressing these abstract ideas clearly.

So let me start again at the beginning.

======================================­======


First let me say that I think we should either ignore QM issues or hypothesize a Universe in which the Greeks were right and the atom was indeed unsplittable. I don't believe that consciousness et. al. depend on QM uncertainty, but allowing QM into the discussion sure as hell complicates things.

This yields a deterministic Universe under the definition proposed by you and Ian, as I understand it.

OK?


Secondly, I do not want to fall into the trap of telling you what you mean by certain terms, so I'll stick to my definitions of "causal network" and "causal network" for now. Once we have agreed the concepts we can adopt new terminology if we wish, of course.

OK?


Thirdly I would like to suggest that we regard any system under consideration as (what I would term) "complete" and it's causal network would also be "complete". By this I mean that any aspects of the external environment that impact its behaviour shall be regarded as a part of the system and of its causal network. This is a purely technical proposal to avoid continuously having to refer explicitly and separately to the bits of the environment that affect the system.

OK?


Now, from looking at what you have said, I gain the strong impression that the terms causal and deterministic refer essentially to the same concept. You could say that:
. "the causal network determines the future state of the system"
or that:
. "the causal network causes the system to be in that particular state at that point in the future"
and the difference between these two statements lies purely in the phraseology.

If you agree then I think I understand what you mean by the word "causal" on its own.

Have I got this correct?


Carrying on, I think that your causal network and mine may be the same even though you say it is:
. external to the system in my book not an attribute
as opposed to my assertion that it is:
. a part of or an attribute of the system

Part of the problem was that I was at pains to put as much clear blue water between my causal network and causal network as possible. Let me put it another way. The causal network is part of reality. It is the thing that actually determines the behaviour of the system (or maybe an exact representation of the set of causal rules that determine the behaviour of the system).

It may help if I introduce the equations of state of the system. In any deterministic Universe I'm pretty certain that the equations of state must always exist and must always precisely determine the way the state of the system changes through time. They clearly then specify the causal network, but are equally clearly outside of and apart from the system if only by virtue of being one level of abstraction away from the reality.

If then, I suggest that those equations represent the operation of the physical processes involved in causality; then I'm guessing that your definition of "causal network" maps onto the equations, whereas mine maps onto the physical process themselves.

Since what (to my mind) matters is that both definitions are addressing the real system, I would expect that if you agree with this, you also agree that the difference between us on this point is trivial, purely one of terminology., and of no significance wrt the main discussion of consciousness.

Yes?


Now, there was another reason for introducing the equations of state, and accepting that they must always exist and must always in principle be perfectly accurate, perfectly precise, in a deterministic Universe.

Because my key point is that for any non-analytic system the equations of state admit to no analytic solution.

This fundamentally limits what we can know about the sytem and whether or not we can predict its behaviour.

Where we genuinely differ, and what I believe we want to discuss, is the nature of those limitations.

But this post is concerned only with clearing up misunderstandings, and agreeing terminology so that we can conduct that discussion.

If I'm right about your views then my causal network will correspond broadly to your "functions".

Correct?


If so, then it only remains to observe that I do have some genuine concerns about your suggested terminology:

Then that function or f(x)cn = the supposed function that best attempts to describe a real world system embedded in the causal network. Putting N/A beforehand would tell us it is non analytic.

1. For a non-analytic system there is no single function that "best attempts to describe a real world system"
2. The use of notation for functions that is similar to that employed in mathematics runs the risk of implying that this use of the word function is the same as the mathematical use, leading to us fallaciously ascribing to such functions properties that they do not in fact posses.


So I'd like to find some other word here...



Peter
Camilla M.
user 7151822
London, GB
Post #: 22
Blimey! There's so much here that I do not understand.
I know my limitations. I don't believe that I will understand it even if I reread and reread and try to break it down as I just have and then ask you questions for about a week.

I'd better chuck in the towel on this thread.
You three can finish this discussion and let's hope something genuinely fruitful comes from it.

I will just say that I've got all this way though life, understanding the results of physics and able to dicuss them without ever ascribing attributes that seem to me entirely mathematical to a material subsystem. In fact, I thought that was the point, keep the two streams of entity separate, information from the material.
Physical properties are another matter since certain ones (Locke's Primary qualities) describe the objects, colloquial convention can have them imbued onto the objects and they can change at different aggregate scales usually with a loss of information as statitistics get averaged and so on, as discussed recently.

Also, I refer to causality as a process, rather than to the causal network.
I assumed I knew what you meant there. - I'm sorry to say I can't recall agreeing to those baffling definitions you've kindly reiterated above. I don't think I'd even seen them except in the copied over peculiar form on here and at that stage I thought it was about reinventing the epistemological vs ontological divide but giving things the same name, only one in italics. Maybe that's instinctive to mathematicians but it sure gets muddled in my brain and means I have to stop and think now which is which and what follows from that, each and every time.

Here's a couple of your points whose conclusions really really might worry other people reading too.

I define “causal network” as an attribute of the system, the physical processes that determine its state through time or the causal processes that cause it to move from one state to another; as opposed to the causal network which is a separate entity from the system in question, embodying all the rules/inferences of its “causal network” but in a form which can be used to (try to)compute or predict the future behaviour of the system.

I regard the causal network as distinct from its embedded physical subsystem. No appreciable difference? Just seems odd to call the causal network an attribute of its subsystem.

Now, there was another reason for introducing the equations of state, and accepting that they must always exist and must always in principle be perfectly accurate, perfectly precise, in a deterministic Universe.

Because my key point is that for any non-analytic system the equations of state admit to no analytic solution.


I still consider these mix up epistemology with ontology.
Whether we know in advance how the state vector will proceed, it will proceed deterministically, moreover that means by definition in such a way as you agreed somewhere on here that it would do the same again if it could be rewound back to the exact same starting and continuing conditions (not that that is possible.)
I'm not sure why there are such terms as non analytic functions if they do not in any way shape or form attempt to best describe some function/system? I don't say that they manage to capture the system in the same exact way that analytic functions do, that would be the point. But why talk about something that doesn't exist?

If they do exist, why use their non predictability or inability to fully predict some system, as a reason to suppose that the ontology or material components of the referred to system under scrutiny should produce and repeatably so in variants of similar functions such unusual properties or processes as consciousness?
It seems to be asking too much that an unpredictable process, what you call an unpredictable process, should at once produce both these factors: an unusal species of property/process that keeps recurring.

I couldn't understand this either:

Thirdly I would like to suggest that we regard any system under consideration as (what I would term) "complete" and it's causal network would also be "complete". By this I mean that any aspects of the external environment that impact its behaviour shall be regarded as a part of the system and of its causal network. This is a purely technical proposal to avoid continuously having to refer explicitly and separately to the bits of the environment that affect the system.

You see, I see it as that if some factor is part of the locally effective environment then it's axiomatically part of the wider causal network. I don't know what the causal network would be if it were "incomplete"? But I still consider we have to refer specifically to the effective environmental factors when they make their effect, rather than have them gobbled up inside the description of the material system.

I can agree with this below if system means what I called f(x).

In any deterministic Universe I'm pretty certain that the equations of state must always exist and must always precisely determine the way the state of the system changes through time. They clearly then specify the causal network, but are equally clearly outside of and apart from the system if only by virtue of being one level of abstraction away from the reality.

But not this that followed:

If then, I suggest that those equations represent the operation of the physical processes involved in causality; then I'm guessing that your definition of "causal network" maps onto the equations, whereas mine maps onto the physical process themselves.

No, I mean material process by "causal network".
I think I understand why it would seem to refer to the network link description perhaps, to the momentum exchanges etc. as another kind of description. Maybe I have always got that emphasis wrong.
But I simply see it as a pulled out overview of the real world network through time of the material process itself.
Not the separate abstract full state vector description.

Since what (to my mind) matters is that both definitions are addressing the real system, I would expect that if you agree with this, you also agree that the difference between us on this point is trivial, purely one of terminology., and of no significance wrt the main discussion of consciousness.

By now I don't know which you call the real system.
Or even whether that should be real system.
I don't know whether the abstract functional as in f(x) description, the epistemological, is the "real" one and if so on what grounds, or the real world material process, the ontological furniture, is the "real" one?
You can guess that I'm a realist in the philosophical use of that word, plumping for the latter.
So it really wouldn't have been a trivial issue wrt consciousness if we had carried on.

I think I discussed the nature of the limitations to our knowledge of real world processes, far above.
I do not think this is the fulcrum of the discussion on here, I've long been aware that you do.
I believe there are two types of knowledge about processes, in advance and retrospectively.
Even where both are incomplete nothing follows that either necessitates or suggests consciousness.
That was the nub of my response to your argument.



Camilla M.
user 7151822
London, GB
Post #: 23
Right, I should bow out having explained something. It's important to me to leave more gracefully, I'm not really that grumpy except at about 4 in the morning. There's been a level of frustration for me when people will not justify their positions on here, just cling to various unsubstantiated beliefs whilst over on the other thread currently have taken to repeating their dissing of some fatuous invention of a philosophical 'school' whilst simultaneously accusing two of us of being a spurious species of a kind of preNewtonian scientific dinosaur, all because I'd mentioned the perfectly respectable concept reductionism...blah blah blah. Unfortunately, ad hominem is par for the course on public fora. Shouda known better, shouldn't I?

Anyway, the reason I had to end abruptly without a thank you for your effort to reply in earnest without self-protective blather (message 65 excepted) in messages 66 & 67, Peter, was that I had used up the very last character in that message! I can see it took a lot of effort.
I am sorry that my brain is not up to these definition criteria.
I honestly don't think that way, I'm not mucking about.
It seems that this sort of functionalist thinking inclines towards what's called instrumentalism, the map rather than the territory, the inferences, attributes & numerical descriptions first, before the furniture participating in any process we may examine. Being a realist not an instrumentalist for the most part, I go the other way. That is probably why talk of a causal network means something distinctly different to both of us.

That said, I did make some howlers last night. When I reread it, some points were badly made or even used the reverse term than intended, I notice now. Might be worth leaving with those cleared up.

So you'd said:
I define “causal network” as an attribute of the system, the physical processes that determine its state through time or the causal processes that cause it to move from one state to another; as opposed to the causal network which is a separate entity from the system in question, embodying all the rules/inferences of its “causal network” but in a form which can be used to (try to)compute or predict the future behaviour of the system.

I did not mean to say the following as it came out, I realise talk about a subsystem might have seemed odd, as if did I mean the universe was a subsystem? No, I didn't.

I regard the causal network as distinct from its embedded physical subsystem. No appreciable difference? Just seems odd to call the causal network an attribute of its subsystem.

I mean: That whenever we are talking about a physical process as a subsystem of the causal network, then both are separate entities for my brain AND it's the former subsystem, that would be an attribute of the latter, if either are to be considered that way. Also, any descriptive mathematical function e.g. the equations of state, would be separate again from both (rather than as attributes I take it you meant?)

Also where you'd said:
Now, there was another reason for introducing the equations of state, and accepting that they must always exist and must always in principle be perfectly accurate, perfectly precise, in a deterministic Universe.

Because my key point is that for any non-analytic system the equations of state admit to no analytic solution.


I now realise you might take it that the state equations just ARE the same as the process described? Perhaps not. This got very confusing, particularly for causal network where I couldn't see why we also had to refer to a
causal network as well; is THIS = to the equations of state?

Moving on.
This is where I made a spectacular howler I think:

I can agree with this below if system means what I called f(x).

It should be system.
But you know, it was late and I was continually having trouble with which was which.

In any deterministic Universe I'm pretty certain that the equations of state must always exist and must always precisely determine the way the state of the system changes through time. They clearly then specify the causal network, but are equally clearly outside of and apart from the system if only by virtue of being one level of abstraction away from the reality.

Finally, elsewhere I don't understand this business about reporting and reporting.

I am aware that certain internal states, e.g. colour, can only be reported on in words, not repeated or shared in kind.

Nevertheless under your convention this could mean:

1. A report is a physical process that can be shared whilst a report is what?

a) The equation of state of the report??
b) A duplicate?
c) An internal to the system report of the report?

So those were my problems.

It's late again, I've got to go.










A former member
Post #: 68
Dear Camilla,


I'm very sad.

By your own admission you didn't understand what I weas trying to say, yet on re-reading I find my explanation clear and logical (though somewhat pedantic in search of precision) and (almost) totally devoid of mathematical terms.

And the fact that I have failed to explain to you what I'm trying to say is what makes me sad.

Note: I say "almost" because I did use the words "equation" and "solution", but I see no sign that these gave you any trouble. If you can find it in your heart to accept that "equation" and "solution" are words in English than I hold that my post #67 was indeed totally devoid of mathematical terms.

Oops, non-analytic ... lol. But I trust you agree I have tried extremely hard both to define and describe this term, and explain why I think it is so important.



Now, you are clearly an intelligent lady, and (though I say it myself) I do have a long history of successfully explaining complex abstract concepts to a wide variety of people; so I am thinking:

. Where do these misunderstanding stem from?
. What can I do to resolve them?

The second question is the one we really want to answer, but the first is the key to achieving that.

I have some suggestions. I'd like to propose them and then act on the, please.


I think there are three reasons why we keep misunderstanding each other.


1. Though I have tried as much as possible to keep technical mathematics out of my posts, there is no question that I have a style (developing very precise definitions and applying very rigorous logic to them) which is deeply mathematical. If only for lack of familiarity, you are (at best) "uncomfortable" with this style. You describe your concerns thus: "... instrumentalism, the map rather than the territory ..." and I concede I understand exactly what you mean. My one line response would be "No, I am using instrumetallist techniques combined with very carefully crafted definitions to get the best of both worlds - to find broad important features of the territory while being certain that they really are true". I will try to provide examples which may help...

2. My specific choice of definitions stems from motivations that have nowhere been stated, so I make (logically valid) choices as to how to define certain terms which appear to you as "unnatural". This is particularly apparent in the bit about "complete" systems and their associated "complete" causal networks. In brief, I had adopted definitions which anticipated issues of identity entering the discussion, and which also maintained a symmetry in the definitions (because I generally find this improves clarity). I'll explain this more fully later.

3. We clearly disagree very strongly about some substantive issues. These issues are so fundamental that they pervade our thinking, causing explicit and implicit misunderstandings. Again, I'll develop this later on, but give two examples now. First, you believe in Reductionism and I believe in Strong Emergence. Both these beliefs lead to (or are bound up with) other important issues. I am quite certain that Reductionism and Strong Emergence are mutually incompatible, and that (given some sufficiently rigorous definitions) that I can prove this mutual incompatibility. Second, we clearly have very different ideas about what constitutes an important or significant difference between two entities. My view can be summarized in this way - If A and B are closely related and I can take any line of argument couched in terms of A, and I can modify it changing only the phraseology and without affecting the logic or validity so that it is couched in terms of B, then A and B are not different in any important way. Note: I'm not asking you to accept this viewpoint, just understand it.


It really would be nice if I had confirmation from you that you understand what I've written and agree with it before continuing.

But message boards don't work that way. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So I'll post this as it is and continue to work on it...



tbc


Peter


A former member
Post #: 69
Dear Camilla,


Splitting this up into multiple posts does seem to provide added structure that is useful: like (short) chapters in a (short) book.


Because I realize it would be helpful to be clear about what I am (and am not) tryong to achieve here: and in what ways I am prepard to compromise.


What I am trying to to is clear up misunderstandings and enable effective communication. It is inevitable that the areas on which I decide to focus and the terms I choose to define will centre around ideas that I hold, and moreover hold to be important. I am well aware that you do not agree with many of those ideas. However, these definitions and terms do not promote those ideas, they just provide a means of expressing them. You can use my terminology to argue against my ideas just as effectively as I can use that terminology to promote them.


I should also make it clear that I am completely prepared to modify the definitions of terms to make them more amenable to you provided these conditions are met:

1. The definitions shall not obscure distinction that any of us hold to be important
2. The terms chosen should as much as possible suggest the the meaning of the defined terms
3. The terms and the way they are used or written should not suggest or imply any attributes or properties that those terms do not posses


I am of course aware that you are uncomfortable with my entire style. I cannot so easily agree to modify it because my perception of what you want me to do (which must, clearly, be wrong) is "throw away precise definitions and rigorous logic". I cannot conceive that you want me to do that, but I cannot modify my style to make it more amenable to you without your active and constructive input. I can contract only to try...


Finally, for clarity, from now on in this thread I shall indicate defined terms by underlining them (as per Andrew's thread) rather than putting them in italics, purely because this horrible message board forces everything into italics when you quote a post.



Peter

A former member
Post #: 71
Dear Camilla,

In this next Chapter I'm going to try to identify the points which most cause misunderstanding and try to explain what I mean with examples rather that totally abstract definitions and logic.

Hopefully that will help.


I think "report on" will prove a good place to start.

Broadly, early on, Ian claimed that:
. "You cannot report on a p-conscious event."
and my initial reaction was:
. "Rubbish, I can tell my friend that I find a particular shade of red very vivid, but that I think blue tends to be rather cold and should only be used to decorate rooms in hot climates."

The problem is obvious: I understood "report on" with its normal English meaning of "talk about or describe in an informal and (possibly) subjective way". Ian, by contrast, meant (something like) "provide and objective, quantitative, scientific account".

Both usages are valid, and both are likely to occur in this discussion. Indeed, even earlier I had actually said (using different words) that an AI is able to "talk about or describe in an informal and (possibly) subjective way" a sensation like a colour; and immediately received a response that seemed to suggest I had said that an AI could "provide and objective, quantitative, scientific account" of a sensation like a colour.

So I proposed that Ian's usage be adopted as a defined term indicated (now) by underline, which yields the following sentence.

You can report on p-conscious events like sensations but you cannot report on them.


Now, I really like this. It expresses something important on which I believe we all agree. It does so with amazing efficiency and brevity. To my mind the juxtaposition of "report on" and "report on" forces you to confront the difference between them, and massively improves clarity by making you focus on precisely what these two phrases mean.

I fully accept that others may not agree, or may find this approach overly mathematical, or maybe think I like it just because I thought of it and/or it's clever-clever.

I can only assure you that is not the case and tell you where the motivation for this approach came from:
. Sailing
. IT
. Philosophy

Let's be quite clear - I didn't invent it, I stole it because it works so well in these other domains.


First sailing: there is a book of Racing Rules (for sailing vessels) that dates back to the mid Victorian era. It defines very clearly in any conceivable circumstance which yacht has right of way over which other yacht, what the consequent limitations on the first yacht' right to manouvre are, what the obligations and rights of the other yacht (the one that has to get out of the first one's way) are, etc.etc.

This is important because yachts don't have brakes, but they are heavy and their front end is sharp. When they bump into each other it is certainly irritating, often expensive, and occasionally life-threatening.

This book - The IYRU Racing Rules - has entire chapter devoted to definition of terms, all of which appear in a special font in the main text to distinguish them. It is a bit intimidating at first, I grant you; but it is model of completeness and clarity, relative compact, and constantly subjected to the acid test or real incidents on the water. We know it works.

Over the years many people have tried to improve this document, but no-one has ever found a way to reduce the dependance on defined terms. If you remove them it immediately becomes completely incomprehensible.

And it's not like it is that bad. I was racing dinghies and I/C teaching sailing by the age of 14, so I had to read mark learn and inwardly digest the IYRU Racing Rules by then. No big deal...


Typical (good) IT documentation is really very similar. While it is critical to choose what terms to define and also get those definitions correct, the fact is that good IT documentation has to solve the general problem of describing an abstract and complex system both precisely and clearly. You always end up with a small central nub of ideas, defined as defined terms which embody the key concepts of how the entire system works.


However, my motivation for setting up definitions in this way, and in particular for using terms which suggest the "formal meaning" of the idea you want to capture, with the direct result that the formal meanings stand in very stark counterpoint to the normal, informal meanings, comes from philosophy: and in particular from "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter. He uses precisely this technique, and I have to say that I (and countless others) think this injects clarity, humour and precision into the book.

So, quite shamelessly, I stole that technique. It works. And I have to admit that, because it came from the domain of Philosophy I did assume that everybody else here would be conversant with the technique and with the sort of formal logic it gives rise to. It seems I erred. Sorry.




tbc



Peter






lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 147

Incidentally anyone who as a result of our occasionally heated exchanges has acquired an interest in the "freewill" non-issue could do worse than to attend the following philosophical talk (with ensuing debate):

30 April 2012 | 16.15 - 18.00

Choice and Voluntary Action

Maria Alvarez
(Kings College London)

The Woburn Suite
Senate House
University of London


Malet Street, London WC1 (5 mins walk from Goodge Street Underground station on the Northern Line, Tottenham Court Road)




lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 164

Dear All

The above-listed talk has been cancelled. Sorry.

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