Re: Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Mar 09 2008 - 19:09:57 MDT

Stathis writes

> I don't see how what you suggest is possible. A computer, or a brain,
> is a finite state machine. We might note that Monday = {Si...Sj} and
> Tuesday = {Sm...Sn}, i.e. a discrete number of states covering each of
> the days. Where is the extra information that allows the observer's
> experience to differ depending on whether the computations are
> causally connected?

Perhaps you missed my reply to Nick. As I wrote to him

    [Nick wrote]
> "Loss of consciousness" implies something the observer would
> notice. I'm confused.

    Oh, sorry, [Nick]. I would like to claim that a loss of consciousness
    indeed might pass unnoticed by the "subject" in this case. I should have
    stated that.

    For example, let's say that all of Monday except the last seven minutes
    is a genuine computation on some genuine computer, and that in
    executing Monday, the computer goes through N states per minute.
    Let's further say that during the last seven minutes, each of the 7*N
    states was not computed at all, but was loaded from completely
    random states somebody produced from a random number
    generator BUT JUST SO HAPPENED by sheer chance to be
    identical to the 7*N states that would have been computed.

    Then I claim

    (1) during those 7 minutes the subject, i.e. the person, was
          not conscious (or alive)
    (2) later he would have absolutely no way of knowing that
         those 7 minutes were in any way different, unless he
         learned about it indirectly some time later.

    For, to the person, it might just as well have been, I claim,
    the same as if he stopped being conscious at 23:23 on Monday,
    and then at 12:00:00 am on Tuesday morning had some memories
    of those 7 minutes added, memories that would be identical to
    the memories he would have obtained had he been calculated
    the whole time.

In short, the experience differs only by being vacuous at certain times.
Of course, the experiencer is unable to report on this state of affairs
any more than Humphrey Bogart can report on his entire lack of
experience whenever "Casablanca" is shown. For there, just as
for the instant between Monday and Tuesay, Humphrey's state
from one instant to the next is not computed, just looked up.

In your very appropriate terminology Monday = {Si...Sj} and
Tuesday = {Sm...Sn}, but while S(j-1)->Sj is characterized
by information flow, that's not true of Sj ->Sm, unless either
j = m (as in one of your hypotheses), or somehow Sm really
is computed someway from Sj.


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