Philosophy vs. rigor

From: Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Oct 24 2004 - 08:19:53 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> To put it another way: based on what I've seen of his work so far, I
> think Eliezer is a very good *philosopher*, but I don't think philosophy
> is all that's needed. I know he's trying to move beyond philosophy and
> make his work more mathematical and rigorous and definite, but I have my
> doubts about how far this can go without significant empiric input...
> But I don't want to diminish the power and importance of philosophy
> either. Philosophy is essential, it's just not enough. Not even when
> it's philosophy that's strongly guided by science and adopts much of the
> language of science. And I say this as someone who spent many years
> working hard on science-guided philosophy, esp. philosophy of mind...

Ben, you've made comments before on how, since you spent a dozen years
trying to work out a mathematical theory of mind / philosophy of mind, and
didn't get far enough to satisfy you, you doubt that I can get any farther
myself without significant empiric input.

What exactly would you say is the difference between "philosophical"
understanding and "mathematical and rigorous and definite" understanding?
Do you think you've come far enough, whether through your years of
philosophizing on mind, or your more recent AGI research, to describe the
difference? If you don't know, would you say that the difference is the
sort of thing on which we can only say words in the philosophy of mind
until we get significantly more empirical input? Or do you think it ought
to be possible to work out a mathematical and rigorous and definite
description of the difference between philosophical understanding and
rigorous understanding? Obviously if you can give an exact description of
the difference between philosophical understanding and rigorous
understanding, it will be of great help in moving past philosophy...

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:49 MDT