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I take Susskind to mean that the smaller multiverse subsets form parts of the full multiverse set – I could be getting that wrong though, would need to re-read. Anyway, it’s a side issue to what you’re getting at here I think, and I do see your point now. I’m going to have a look into this – I think it’s mentioned in Smolin’s Time Reborn…
Hi Marcus, I think your interpretation of the different types of multiverse is the standard one (although Susskind suggests they may all be equivalent here: /, so I'll go with that. However, I'd interpret the fine tuning cases in a different way. To take your analogy of the golf balls and the cliff, each ball represents some fine-tuned property (ftp), which means that to represent a whole universe we need to roll each ftp ball towards the cliff (along with a load of non-ftp balls that we don't care about here) and wait for them all to stop. We then take a snapshot of the position of all the ftp balls and call this entire snapshot a possible universe U1. We then do this again and again so we have U1 to Ux (where x is the number of possible end states for the ftp balls in combination). When we've done this so that we have every possible combination (minus any duplicates - we'd not really be rolling the balls to work this out of course!) we'll have a small subset of universes where one or more ftp balls are perched on the cliff (each ftp ball has a smaller or larger range of perching values). There will be an even smaller subset where every ftp ball hit a value in its acceptable perching range, and it's *this* subset that is amenable to our being here. You reference this amenability as being "another thing entirely for literally *every* parameter found so far appears to be fine-tuned to unlikely values". But isn't it just another subset? a smaller one for sure, but not "another thing entirely". The anthropic principle still says that since we do exist there is no possible way we could be in anything but that tiny subset, no matter how 'unlikely' it appears. Does that makes sense, or am I missing something you're getting at here? Matt (infovoy)
Hi Marcus, This particular 'fine tuning' is just as susceptible to explanation by a multiverse as the others though isn't it? Do you reject that possibility? Matt
I certainly think they're interesting questions, not only for free will but experiential consciousness generally. A related phenomenon you might consider is dream. It seems to me at least that there remains a strong sense of self in dream even though we have no actual sensory input to experiential consciousness (unless our unconscious monitoring forces itself upon up due to danger). On the face of it this would suggest that imagination can come with agency (imagining while awake) or without it (dreaming while asleep) and the self is retained in both scenarios. But is the dream self the real self being fooled, another related self or not a self at all? It might also be interesting that the self in the dream environment is so easily and fully convinced it's in a waking (or at least 'normal') environment. Lastly there's lucid dreaming, where one can apparently switch between the two modes of feeling non-agency or agency over the imaginative content. I won't pretend to have considered whether these are relevant points or what they might mean yet, but they may be food for thought... Matt
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2015 on Phenomenology of Free Agency at Flickers of Freedom
Hi Gregg, On question 2a regarding the asymmetry between intentional states and sensory states, how would you characterize imagination? If it's a sensory state the asymmetry would break down in that case wouldn't it? Matt
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2015 on Phenomenology of Free Agency at Flickers of Freedom
Is it that those who have the intuition factor-in a utilitarian view by considering the consequences of the manipulation, whereas those who don't have the intuition are considering only the moral transgression itself, defined by the manipulators' motives?
Interesting stuff, if hard to swallow in this no-compromises Zombie Animals version! I suspect that most libertarians would want to ascribe free will to us alone (or at most us and our nearest competitors in the animal intelligence stakes), but one question to ask for sure is why we wouldn't want to go the whole way and simply deny them phenomenal consciousness. I think there's something in your cat gravel example. I've lived with cats most my life, and it always amazed me how they can be so unaware of the human world of contextual understanding around them. For example, if one were to change a fundamental aspect of their world, like replacing their owners with walking-talking apple pies that acted just like the humans they were used to, would they give that a second glance? I think you could change anything in their world, and as long as a certain set of basic needs remained satisfied for them, they'd not pay it any attention. One also sees this in the non-reaction of surrogate cuckoo parents, where they are totally duped despite the cuckoo chicks being twice the size (and presumably smelling unlike) their own chicks. And of course, this lack of understanding can lead to our ability to introduce individuals of different species to one another in a parent/child relationship that would usually not get along in the wild. One immediate question here is whether human infants - who intuitively appear to lack free will in a similar way to animals perhaps - would also be zombies in that sense? If they were, then it would interesting to think about at what points the "lights come on" as it were, and a possible avenue for evidence. I for one have vague recollections (possibly false recollections of course!) of a primitive phenomenological world. This was elicited recently by zooming in on an old photo with my play-pen in the background, and flashing back in recognition of the toys and decorations in it. I recalled scenes of indistinct shapes and colours, perhaps what one might expect in getting used to a new experiential world. That said, personally I'm more attracted to a more intermediate view where phenomenal consciousness is sourced non-materially, but the resultant door that opens for free will is not available to other animals, because they are missing a key element; perhaps some form of cognitive sophistication. However, I'm unsure whether I'd locate that key element non-materially, or as an emergent feature of the same physical path of complex systems that would be needed even for zombies. If pushed I'd lean towards the latter picture. Anyway - food for thought! Thanks, Matt
Thanks for the reply Marcus. You write: "...I'm not sure [LQG]... can do the work you want it to do. All LPG does is merge standard quantum mechanics with relativity. Perhaps LPG can provide some explanation of the Planck length, how does it promise to explain the various phenomena that the P2P Hypothesis does (superposition, wave-particle duality, entanglement, etc.)?" As I understand it, the maths of LQG 'feature' those phenomena in the same way that QM itself does, but admittedly, like QM, it doesn't tell us how those match up with what we'd consider 'physical reality'. However, compared to QM, LQG (and all QG theories) take the story one step back, so entanglement for example is a central feature in the mathematical base (spin networks, CDT or whetever) from which the further mathematics of an emergent spacetime and QM are derived. However, I think your point here is that P2P gives a 'physical reality' story, in that it posits a mechanism of interaction between an external conscious agent and a reading-off of data on the higher frame. This then lets us see why these features are present in the first place. If I have you right there, the point is taken. All I would say in defense is that you're still left with the question of what explains the existence of the higher frame itself, the external conscious agents, and their mechanism of interaction (I think you acknowledged this previously). But this regress is unavoidable isn't it? You write: "...if your claim is that that configurations of consciousness give the "flesh and bones" to LQG to begin with, then I say you're invoking far, far more magic than the P2P Hypothesis does (as the P2P Hypothesis gives a simple mechanism -- peer-to-peer network communication -- to explain things that you seem to want to attribute to consciousness alone)." That's not quite my view, as it's not consciousness giving the flesh and bones, but rather experiential properties or qualia. As an analogy we might thin of the higher frame as the water beneath a frozen sea. Each water molecule represents the simples of the higher frame: free floating experiential properties. The relations between these simples represent the mathematics of a QG theory from which spacetime can emerge. Emergent spacetime then is water molecules in a certain configuration that forms ice at the surface of the sea, and the ice is the lower frame, with its new set of traditionally-physical simples and properties. I can't see any reason why I couldn't replace my [LQG --> emergent space --> lower frame] with your [String theory --> holographic principle --> lower frame], and in fact I think these may be equivalent, with the latter being the view from the lower frame (as strings are above the Planck scale) and the former the view from the higher frame (as LQG has no scale being nonspaciotemporal). Again, Smolin has suggested that the two theories may be equivalent in that sense (but we'll come to him later!). I think our main difference is that I want to then place conscious observers *within* the higher frame, whereas you place them outside. In my frozen sea analogy, I have conscious agents as an emergent feature of the higher frame, but not the same emergent feature that causes spacetime emergence. This feature remains embedded in the higher frame, but causes the experiential properties to become trapped in some way and reflect back on themselves. We might think of bubbles forming under the frozen sea. However, the whole picture does get murky here admittedly, and perhaps what you've termed "magic" is needed to get any such picture running. Again, point taken. "...I do have to say that I'm not (at all) a big fan of Smolin's philosophy of science...." I'll have to defer to your judgement on the philosophy, but I do think Smolin has some interesting ways of looking at things. I prefer that to physicists who just take mainstream physicalist view without question and present it as fact. i have the book you mention but haven't fully read it. I think I'm right in saying that it deals with topics that go beyond what we're discussing here. The link I gave last time isn't actually a Smolin paper, but have you read "Three Roads to Quantum Gravity"? It's in there (and as suggested by the article below) that I think many of his ideas I refer to here are presented. You write: "I think that if you want to preserve the reality of consciousness (as nonphysical), there's no way around this. You *have* to adopt either panpsychism or idealism. You can't get consciousness out of something non-conscious ("proto-consciousness"). Either the stuff is conscious at bottom (in which case you have panpsychism or idealism), or it's not (in which case you have functionalism or something -- consciousness from non-consciousness -- that is incoherent)." Is it incoherent to suggest that you could build an experiencer (the bubbles) out of non-experienced proto-experiences (the molecules in the sea)? I'm unsure. I won't offer any refutation of that as I don't have the wherewithal to try, but perhaps it's something I need to think- and read-on more! Anyway, I mocked-up a quick diagram that may help make sense of (or clarify the lack of sense in!) what I'm suggesting. Thanks for the indulgence, and I'm looking forward to reading your latest post later... Cheers Matt
Hi again Marcus, With some of the talk here going back to monism and property dualism, I thought I'd expand a little more on what we discussed previously, in case there's anything useful to you. You previously wrote: "Like all monists, I think you have to take quantum phenomena as basic and unexplained, which I think is a problem" and "You have to take the Plank length as brute/fundamental" What I'm thinking of as a monist "higher frame" would be described by a mathematical theory of quantum gravity that is background independent (i.e nonspaciotemporal), much like LQG or (notably for this discussion) string theory with the holographic principle. Physicists motivation for a background independent theory is that general relativity is itself background independent, but of course, QG also has to have quantum mechanics fall out of it's math. It's these idea that motivate me to identify the nonspaciotemporal mathematical model of QG with the source of abstract ideas (qualia), along with it being the source of the physical (GR & QM) already as its raison d'être. For me this potentially provides a monist setting that does explain quantum phenomena mathematically. The Planck length would remain what it is now, the boundary between the spacetime that emerges from quantum gravity, and the abstract mathematics of the theory itself. As I understand it (and I could be mistaken!) the above is mainstream speculative physics, but from here on in I'm metaphysically speculating on a whole new level of course! By situating the phenomenological simples of imagination in the higher frame (as you have too), we can suggest that a) they fit naturally there, being nonspaciotemporal in nature, and b) their configuration might provide the relations needed to give a nonspaciotemporal mathematical model the flesh and bones its needs to form relations in the first place. So an ontology of abstract imaginings, related in a way that form the basis of QG mathematics, and the lower frame GR/QM emerging from that. There's more to say here regarding the higher frame as the source of counterfactuals and conscious agents. Maybe we'll go there later. Of course, the emergence of something physical from something abstract seems odd to say the least. All I can say here is that as I understand it, this is what the maths suggests in these models. Below is a link to where I first read about the idea, although Lee Smolin also writes about it. Lastly, in reply to your worries about "proto-experiential properties", I have this too, but without it I think the higher frame becomes purely idealistic, and we start to wonder who's doing the thinking. By having the higher frame as non-experiential (not relying on conscious agents for emergence to the lower frame to happen), we avoid that and can cater for a non-conscious higher frame, and a lower frame before consciousness came on the scene. Another way out might be panpsychism I think, if the higher frame only houses experiences rather than any consciousness, and the lower frame bears consciousness throughout. However, I prefer the former idea because it leaves room for some aspects of consciousness (the imagination at least) in the higher frame, possibly providing an opening for free will. Sorry to get back into my own idea, but I'm hoping their alignment with some of yours and their similar goals may lead you to indulge further speculation on my part... Cheers, Matt
Hi Marcus, You write: "In terms of "where" consciousness is located, the answer is simple: it's located outside of the physical information/holographic plate..." This is the first point on your model where I become reluctant to go there, and I guess the reason is an aversion to dualism. However, this is no reason to not consider it, and there are so many other aspects of your model that I like that perhaps you'll convince me in subsequent posts. You write: "You have to take the Plank length as brute/fundamental--as resulting from phenomenological simples beneath it. The way I see it, there are two problems here."... Briefly, your worries on the details of my scheme are well justified, and only scratch the surface! it is of course just an amateur pet theory, not a philosophically justified - or less still scientific - one. As I touched on before, the point for me is to look for parallels between alternative metaphysical positions and speculative physical theories, but of course, it's inevitably going to be hobbled with being based on my own very basic understanding (and vitally misunderstanding!) of the science. As with all amateur pet theories, the chances of anything in there being more than an interesting fiction in there is negligible. That's the reason I'm here: looking for philosophical ideas that explore similar alternative metaphysics, but that have the virtue of being vetted by someone who knows what they're doing! That said, I think pet theories have both a practical and an artistic value all of their own - (they are like Lynchian world, hence the theme of my site) - but I won't wax lyrical on that here. As I say, I find these exchanges helpful in dissecting my own ideas, and in this case interesting because your view is attractive in itself - look forward to more. Matt
Marcus, You write: “if our actions are libertarian-free, then they *are* categorically determined by us. We, and we alone, are categorically responsible for them.” I agree with this. We follow lower-frame unconscious and subconscious motivations, but some brain process that has access to the higher frame gives us the ability to countermand those motivations. “Which is just to say that "The categorical imperative" (Kant's fundamental moral principle) applies to us” Here I’m still struggling to see the justification is choosing Kant’s moral principle over any other. This is what I meant by suggesting it ‘to be ‘primitive’. I guess just don’t think moral principles should be fundamental. Again I’ll say that for me this is an optional add-on to the theory, but I’d prefer to find that there’s a fundamental principle that belongs to the causative description of the higher frame, and then derive a moral principle on that. For example, (and this is sketchy at best) it might be that since the higher frame ontologically consists of experiences (via proto-experiential simples) and agents (as complexes of experience), agents ignoring the principle are causally exposing themselves to inevitable negative consequence that affects their wellbeing. If we visualize the causal nexus of the higher frame as a shape, one might imagine a principle of least action where left to its own devices, the nexus always takes a spherical shape (as spherical shapes like planets form in the physics of the lower frame due to a similar principle). Having agents with free will on the scene means that they are able to countermand the principle of least action and pinch parts of the perfect sphere out of shape temporarily, but the principle of least action implies that nature will always strive to bring back the perfect sphere. Not sure if that will make sense to you at all – lots more to say (I have an unusual take on morality I suspect) and lots of holes and problems with such a mechanism, but something like that is what I want if morality is involved. “On my current view, the holographic plate has two aspects--quantitative and qualitative aspects--and both aspects are only experienced when read by consciousness, which is a brute, libertarian free "window" onto both aspects (consciousness is, quite literally, a *light* that illuminates both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the holographic plate). Does that make sense?” So I’d be better to say that the higher frame still “bears both physical and phenomenal properties by dual-aspect” in my language, but that there is no second simple or emergent phenomenon in the higher frame that is a conscious agent (or even part of a conscious agent). Instead your conscious agents are outside the higher/lower frame system altogether, reading data those frames, and our experience consists in that data. Is that a better description? If so, the obvious question is “where?”… “Could you say a bit more about your model? It sounds like you want to say that consciousness is fundamental, and everything else (including the physical world) emerges from it. Is that right? If so, it sounds like the many-minds interpretation of quantum mechanics” That’s correct, except consciousness itself isn’t fundamental, but rather the causal structure of the sub- or pre- (words don’t suffice) Planckian domain which consists of ontological simples bearing proto-experiential properties. The relations between the simples provide the information by which the super-Planckian domain emerges, and describing that process is the project of LQG or something like it. But within the sub-Planckian domain, special causal configurations of proto-experiential properties result in the in-domain emergence of conscious agents. One might imagine a closed loop of proto-experiential properties that combine to form a volume that is self-reflective. The conscious agents are sub-domains within the larger proto-conscious domain, but they draw on the proto-experiential properties of the rest of the domain to provide the imagery that represents the super-Planckian domain (in which the rest of the system of which they form a part resides – i.e. the brain). There’s more to say here of course, but that’s a sketch if you can make head or tail of it. On Many Minds… certainly similar but will need to come back to you on the details. One important thing is that on my view, one could remove all the special configurations that lead to conscious agents, and the sub-Plankian domain would remain, as would the emergent super-Planckian one. I don’t want a true idealism – the external world is real in the sense of not depending on consciousness – though not real in another sense in that it derives from a non-spaciotemporal base. Not sure that Many Minds is the same there? “I'm still not seeing why you think the higher frame is prior or more fundamental” I guess solely because I’m a reductionist at heart! The lowest scale of matter/energy/spacetime (quarks, strings, whatever) emerges from the non-spaciotemporal proto-experiential base, so the latter is fundamental. I look forward to your own take on this and comparison with the P2P model. Matt
Thanks for the response Marcus. On the morality question, are you saying that if libertarianism is true, that may actually necessitate a laws pertaining to agents' use of that freedom? Do you have anything in mind? You write: "On the P2P Model, it's not simply that physical information has "two sides" as it were (quantitative and qualitative sides); consciousness is actually a distinct entity that reads the qualitative and quantitative information in real time. So, I actually think dual-aspect theory *and* outright dualism might both be true" If I understand here, you're suggesting that in the higher frame, there is one type of simple that bears both physical and phenomenal properties by dual-aspect, but that additionally there's another type of simple (of different substance?) that is conscious (or proto-conscious?) Is that right? If so I take it that the lower frame is quite literally holographic: it bears no substance or properties of its own? That's different view to my own. For me, the higher frame has only one simple which bears only phenomenal properties. Consciousness emerges embodies within the higher frame, from certain special configurations of those phenomenal properties. Physical properties for me also emerge from configurations of the higher frame phenomenal properties, but the resultant physical properties are no longer embodied in the higher frame, but emerge *as* the lower frame. This is because the physical properties that emerge include space and time, and spacetime just *is* the lower frame. That frame then has new simples (strings perhaps) that combine to produce the emergent properties we are familiar with in the macro world. So two frames with emergence happening in each, and also an emergence from one (the higher) to the other (the lower). You then write: "I don't see how a higher-level dualism can be the result of a lower-level monism. Either qualities are quantities are the same kind of thing (monism is true), or they are fundamentally different kinds of things (in which case dualism is true)" From above, what I'm thinking is that the higher frame and lower frame themselves are a dualism: one houses phenomenal simples and the other physical simples. However, as the lower frame emerges directly from the higher frame, then the higher is prior or fundamental. All states of the lower frame supervene on states of the higher, and ultimately they are one and the same; not side-by-side or above and below, but superimposed. That's my sense of monism here, but I may we way off the sense that anyone else has of it! On the holographic principle I have some work to do in re-imaging certain aspects of it, and look forward to your post touching on it further. I have more questions on your ideas, especially about the multiverse and free will aspects, but will wait for more posts before turning in that direction. Cheers, Matt
Hi Marcus, First I want to say that as a speculative model of reality, there's large amount here for me to agree with here, especially in terms of its high level structure. But before I get into that I should warn you that I'm not trained in philosophy (or anything much really!). Like you perhaps, I'm a lifelong metaphysical ponderer, but unlike you it's only in recent years have been reading in and around the subject. With that in mind it's highly probable that we've arrived here via very different roads, and also that you'll likely have more philosophical justification for your ideas than I for mine. Not to mention that some of my attempts at introducing clarity via philosophical language may well be subject to naivety, confusions, or downright incoherence! So with those usual warnings attached, rather than concentrate on the areas of agreement, I'll try to dig in to some of the details where I might disagree or have alternative suggestions, and also highlight areas where I want to agree but have concerns. Bear with me, as I'll need to compare your ideas to my own, though I won't expound on those more than is necessary and will try to translate my terms into your own. For clarification if you wish, see links to my blog at the end. If I have you right, I take your higher frame to provide a home for certain aspects of consciousness as discussed, and additionally giving rise to the projection/simulation that we experience as the lower-frame external world, with the external world then in turn constraining the phenomenal aspects that obtain in relation to the senses of the higher-frame embodied consciousness. If that’s right we’re on the same page there. You also suggest that the higher frame might operate according to one of more abstract principles, perhaps a moral principle. You reference Kant, but unfortunately my ignorance strikes immediately, as of the few non-contemporary philosophers I have read, he's not one, and I'm even lacking a proper overview of his work (being only up to late antiquity in the History of Philosophy podcasts!). However, I am distantly aware of his "categorical imperative" from some A-level ethics many years ago and take that as an attempt at an objective deontological framework. This is an interesting idea, and – as I suspect is often the case – morality forms part of the pre-theoretic baggage I brought to the check-in desk when starting this journey. For that reason this is an idea that I’d like to agree with, but can’t at the moment. This is partly due to my being very sympathetic to mainstream explanations of morality, but mostly because if moral principles are to enter the story, I want that to happen as a consequence of the theory, not as a primitive notion. In other words I’m looking for a model that stands regardless of whether it implies moral principles or anything else beyond the phenomena investigated by science and consciousness. Having said all that, I do have some ideas in this area, but they are even sketchier than my other ideas, and full of holes and problems in regard to the mechanism. My alternative suggestions on the nature of the higher frame rests on the assumption that what we’re looking for is: 1. Capable of providing some aspects of consciousness (and in agreement with you, at least phenomenal consciousness) so bearing properties that are at least proto-conscious. 2. Abstract in some sense, so non-spacial at least, and perhaps non-spaciotemporal. 3. Capable of housing a multiverse of counterfactual possibilities. 4. Capable of giving rise to the lower frame by weak or strong emergence at the Planck scale – perhaps holographically as you suggest – more later. 5. Causal, in that there is a mechanism that’s intrinsic to it by which different states can obtain, and thus give rise to the change we observe in the lower frame. My project is to try to consider the fit of mainstream speculative physical theories that have the potential to bear the weight of these criteria (and others I’m probably neglecting to mention). Areas I’m currently interested in are the spin networks of Loop Quantum Gravity, the Possibilist Transactional Interpretation of quantum mechanics, and from a more philosophical angle, the “liberal naturalism” of Gregg Rosenberg. Something I’d like to do in the future is to compare and contrast relevant aspects of these theories, but I need to learn a lot more to do that, especially about the former two. However, I’m also attracted to other ideas, including the possibility of information being fundamental (something like Tegmark’s ideas, but at the base rather than emergent), and the types of panpsychism explored by Chalmers. If I had to say what I’m hoping to find, it’s a dualism between the higher and lower frame (mirrored by a dualism of matter and parts of the mind) that nevertheless turns out to be monistic because the lower frame arises from the higher. If that makes sense! Turning from the nature of the higher frame to interactions between it and the lower frame in regards to consciousness, again my ideas for a schema are very similar to yours I think. I’d put it that with the lower frame unfolds deterministically without self-conscious agents because non-conscious and non-self-conscious matter follows your “Hypothetical rationality”. But consciousness, embedded in the higher frame, follows something akin to “Categorical rationality” at least in the sense that a different set of rules apply, those rules being associated with the way that the frame operates even if consciousness wasn’t present – in the causal workings of LQG or PTI or whatever. I consider the best possibility for this principle to be something like a principle of least action. Lastly, on the holographic principle, this isn’t an area I’m particularly familiar with, so it’s possible I’m being led astray by my own inappropriate visualizations here. When I imagine a holographic system I’m thinking of the 2D boundary of a black hole and a projection-like structure extending holographically “inside” the black hole in a conical shape, inwards towards a point. I not sure this makes sense physically, but you may see what I see if I say that not only are the spacial dimensions coded on the boundary, but also the temporal one, and it’s that temporal dimension that is the conical extension here, with near times being right up at the boundary, and far times out towards the point. (If this picture does make sense, I have a few ideas I’d like to explore in regards to your theory, but I’ll not go into that here – maybe for the blog later) Similarly, I was also visualizing this conical structure when talking about scale, and I now think that’s a mistake. I was visualising the lower-limit point of the cone as the Planck scale, and at the upper-limit (the universe as a single object) as the holographic boundary. In other words I had the boundary as a kind of opposite-in-scale to the Planck length. This led me to worry about which end of the visualization is responsible for the interface between the higher and lower reference frame, with me positing the Planck scale and you the universe-sized holographic boundary. I’m no longer sure that makes sense at all, and your talk of “quantum collapse” at the boundary suggests we’re talking about the same thing after all. I think I’ll leave it there for now – apologies for the length of the post. As I say, without the relevant training, I’m reliant on either finding philosophers who are thinking in the same area to help me decide where I’m going right or wrong, or those who are willing to pick apart what I suggest, so it’s exciting to find so much in common, at least structurally. Thanks Matt
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