Re: Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Mon Mar 10 2008 - 07:50:13 MDT

Stathis writes

>> 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.
> I understand what you're saying, but how could the machine "know" if
> Sj ->Sm is the result of an operator who is aware of what he is doing
> or a child that just happens to twiddle the right knobs?

Exactly to the point!

> A central idea in the theory of computation is that the substrate
> and mechanics of its implementation is irrelevant.

I'll leave it to you and others to judge how severely I'm challenging
this thesis. In your lovely Monday/Tuesday 48-hour computation of
an entity's consciousness, indeed, just how important is the way
that Sm (the first state of Tuesday) has come to "depend" on the
last state of the Monday computation Sj?

Again, I submit that there must be a *causal* connection between
Sj and its successor Sm, and that it be a *calculation*, i.e., that
Sm be *computed* from Sj. And that if Sj arises solely by chance
(or a child twiddly knobs) then it is not a bonafide computation.

To take a more extreme case, suppose again that the last seven
minutes of Monday had suffered just this same lack of what I
call bonafide computation, and that all the states of those seven
minutes had arisen strictly by chance. Then we begin the inevitable
downward spiral (e.g. see "The Story of a Brain" in Hofstadter
and Dennett's "The Mind's I"). I say that it leads to ABSURDITY,
and the weak point in the chain MUST be this point at which,
as I say, "no actual computing is done".

> If you drop that idea you may as well say that only brand name
> neurons are capable of consciousness.

No, I don't need to go that far! :-) My target is merely rocks
being conscious, or patches of dust between here and the Hyades
supercluster being 0.99999999999 of Stathis's experience in life.


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