From: mike99 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Dec 12 2002 - 18:46:07 MST
Samantha Atkins wrote:
> > Michael LaTorra writes
> >>I think many people, especially intellectuals, can be seduced
> by the meme of
> >>idealism. The idealist (or Platonic) concept that information
> (or Forms)
> >>precede material manifestation is very attractive to people whose lives
> >>revolve around theorizing, computation, and programming. Many
> >>mathematicians and logicians succumb to this point of view
> (Raymond Smullyan
> >>and Saul Kripke, for instance). Some physicists do, too (e.g., Frank
> Not so fast. If we happen to be in a sim, then it is quite
> proper to speak of information preceding what *we currently
> consider to be* "the material manifestation". If we are not in
> a sim, it is likely that we will someday choose to be in a
> computationally mediated reality in whole or part where the
> "matter" is not really primary to the inhabitants of the VR
> unless they choose to forget the nature of their "reality".
If we limit ourselves to the domain you specified, namely what "we currently
consider to be the material manifestation" then you are correct. But why
limit ourselves to that? Why not plunge into the depths of reality, seeking
the foundation of it all?
Matter must still exist at the lowest level of implementation. It is
irrelevant whether we, as observers, are in a simulation that resides
immediately above that material level, or whether we live in a sim embedded
in another sim embedded within still another sim, unto as many iterations as
one cares to go. It is simply not possible for there to be sims all the way
down. At the lowest level, the bedrock of reality is material.
That is my claim. Why do I make it? Because it seems reasonable to me and
because it comports with our everyday experience. If that experience is in
fact merely experience within a simulation, then our sim is fortuitously (or
designedly) emulating the reality that lies however many levels below us.
Can I prove this claim? No. I cannot prove this claim any more than I can
prove that other minds exist. I am not a solipsist even though disproving
solipsism is not logically possible.
So I take this leap of faith. Why do I take it? Because I find that seeking
answers within a materialist model has proven to be more scientifically and
technologically fruitful than any other approach. This does not mean that
one cannot make great progress in mathematics, logic, philosophy and the
arts by taking an idealist approach. Clearly, many have done so by that
route. But when it comes to designing experiments that tease out the
responses of nature, or to designing machines that improve our ability to
predict and control reality, the materialist approach is without peer.
Basically then, I argue for materialism for pragmatic reasons.
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