J.R. Lucas and Kurt Gödel Rage Against the Machines
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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2w ago
The philosopher J.R. Lucas argued that all minds must be “alive” and (it can safely be assumed) human, not “dead” and “ossified” like “machines”. Lucas’s position is almost entirely dependent upon Kurt Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem. J.R. Lucas (left) and Kurt Gödel. (i) Alive Minds: Dead and Ossified Machines (ii) J.R. Lucas’s Many Assumptions (iii) A Single Theorem Destroys AI? (iv) Conclusion John S. Lucas (1929–2020) is well known for his paper ‘Minds, Machines and Gödel’, which will be focussed upon in this essay. More accurately, an often-quoted single passage from that paper ..read more
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Two Fundamentals of Emergence: Emergent Properties and Downward Causation
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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1M ago
Psychologist Stephen Kosslyn tells us that “there are aggregates which produce properties that can’t be predicted entirely from the elements themselves”. He also states: “Events at higher levels can in turn feed back and affect events at lower levels.” More speculatively: “The Ultimate Superset of all living things may have an equivalent status to an economy or culture.” Is Kosslyn right about all — or any — of this? In the literature, flocks of birds are often said to display “emergent behaviour”. See here. (i) Emergent Properties (ii) Downward Causation (iii) The Ultimate Superset’s Do ..read more
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Quantum Theory as Medieval Necromancy
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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1M ago
The physicist Edwin Thompson Jaynes (1922–1998) once stated the following: “Somewhere in quantum theory, the distinction between reality and our knowledge of reality has become lost, and the result has more the character of medieval necromancy than of science.” This passage has been quoted many times. So what does it mean? (i) Introduction (ii) Quantum Theory and the Copenhagen Interpretation (iii) Against Edwin Jaynes (iv) Quantum Theory and Reality (v) Peter van Inwagen’s “Ultimate Reality” The words above are often quoted (see various citations here) in the critical context of quantum mec ..read more
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David Chalmers’ Unanswerable Questions: “Why do I have THIS experience?” and “Why do we see red, rather than hear a trumpet?”
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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1M ago
The philosopher David Chalmers believes that there are answers — or just possible answers — to his questions about conscious experiences. But what if there aren’t any answers — or even any possible answers? So perhaps it’s fair to say that Chalmers simply assumes that there are answers to his questions. Left: W.H. Auden. Right: David Chalmers. The source of this quote can be found here. Firstly, David Chalmers isn’t asking for answers which refer to anything physical, functional, structural, etc.: (1) He isn’t asking for the “physical correlates” of experiences.  (2) He isn’t asking ..read more
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Did Mathematics “Know” the Universe is Expanding, When Einstein Didn’t?
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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1M ago
A New Scientist writer asks her readers two questions: (1) “How did Einstein’s equations ‘know’ that the universe was expanding, when he did not?” (2) “How is it possible that mathematics ‘knows’ about Higgs particles?”… What do these questions mean? Are they anthropomorphic in nature? (i) Introduction: Mathematics Knows Things (ii) Einstein Rejects the Universe’s Expansion (iii) Input and Output (iv) Pure Maths and Describing the World (v) Eugene Wigner (vi) Max Tegmark (vii) Lee Smolin Introduction: Mathematics Knows Things In an article called ‘Reality: Is everything made of numbers ..read more
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Are the questions “Why is water wet?” and “Why does the physical give rise to experience?” bogus?
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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1M ago
The philosopher Valerie Hardcastle tackles the mysterian’s questions, “Why is water H₂O?”, “Why is water wet?” and “Why couldn’t water be XYZ?”. Gordon Park Baker once stated that “the unexamined question is not worth answering” and that “questions, just as much as assertions, carry presuppositions”. So can we apply Baker’s words to this mysterian’s questions? (1) Introduction (2) Valerie Hardcastle’s Chat With a Water-Mysterian (3) Bogus Questions? (4) Is This Water-Mysterian Really a Materialist? (5) Water = H₂O (6) Modal Imagination This essay is primarily about Valerie Gray Hardcastle’s ..read more
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Ludwig Wittgenstein on the Arithmetical Statement “2 + 2 = 4”
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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1M ago
The philosopher Michael Dummett called Ludwig Wittgenstein a “full-blooded conventionalist” and even an “anarchist” when it came to his philosophy of mathematics. Other philosophers — mainly Wittgensteinians — strongly reject these accusations. Nonetheless, convention — obviously! - plays a part in mathematics. Firstly, it must be said that that it’s hard to tie all of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s positions and comments on mathematics together into a single ism. (Not that putting a philosopher in a neat and tidy box is of supreme importance.) And that may not simply be because Wittgenstein’s views a ..read more
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Einstein’s Brain: Does Size Matter?
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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1M ago
There’s been a lot of excited and curious talk about Albert Einstein’s brain over the decades. Or, more correctly, there’s been a lot of talk about the size of Einstein’s brain. So does size matter? Clearly, there’s often been the following underlying assumption when it comes to the many (often silly) discussions of the size of Einstein’s brain: big brain = big intelligence It may seem logical to assume that a big brain means a big intelligence… That’s until one starts to use one’s own intelligence to think about this issue. The other extreme position is that it’s all down to how each brain i ..read more
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Was Bishop Berkeley a Constructivist, an Idealist, an Empiricist or an […]ist?
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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2M ago
The 18th-century philosopher George Berkeley can be deemed to be a scientific constructivist, an idealist or an empiricist. So is Berkeley one or none of the above? Indeed, does it matter which label we attach to him? Readers will note how Bishop Berkeley’s ideas seem very contemporary in resonance. Indeed, 21st-century idealists like Donald Hoffman, Bernardo Kastrup, etc. are harking back to George Berkeley — at least to various degrees. Then again, perhaps it can be argued that Berkeley himself was harking back to even older philosophical traditions. So George Berkeley can be seen as an ide ..read more
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Fritjof Capra’s Political Reasons for Using Quantum Physics to Bring About an “Eastern Liberation”
Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy
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2M ago
Physicist, best-selling author and “deep ecologist” Fritjof Capra believes that Western ways of thinking and behaving have “brought political disorder; an ever-rising wave of violence and an ugly, polluted environment”. He offers his solution to all that. That solution is a fusion of quantum mechanics (actually, specific interpretations of QM) and Capra’s own political and religious (“Eastern”) views. “In our Western culture [] many have turned to Eastern ways of liberation.” — From Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics (see passage here). (i) Introduction (ii) Anti-Science and The Tao of Physi ..read more
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