Re: PHIL: Church vs Turing

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Tue, 14 Jan 1997 23:38:30 -0600

> >I don't share your pessimism; you seem to think that anything
> >Noncomputable is never going to be explained
> If an event does not have a cause there is nothing to explain.

Well, since I believe in quantum mechanics, I guess I can just give up
and go to church, then.

> >it seems to me that noncomputable things exerting causal
> >influences on our Universe are part of the "laws of physics"
> >and can thus be examined by the tools of science.
> If an event does not have a cause there is nothing to examine.

So you *don't* believe in quantum mechanics, then? I mean, what are we
examining and explaining, in quantum mechanics, if not random,
non-causal events which obey precise but probabilistic mathematical

Point being: noncomputability is not synonymous with non-causal, and
non-causal is not synonymous with epiphenomenal, and *only* epiphenomena
(dual-aspect theory things) mean you should give up and go to church.

> What would make me shave my head and put on my saffron robes is if something
> simple and had no parts could produce something as complex and glorious as
> consciousness or even intelligence. I'm willing to accept the Bit and
> Induction as axioms, but I draw the line at consciousness, it would mean that
> science could not help us in the one area that was most interesting to every
> one of us. Science would be like plumbing, useful at times but dull as
> dishwater.

I agree. I think that Chalmers and Searle are both wrong, dual-aspect
epiphenomal theories are just plain silly, and "zombies" who write
elaborate treatises on consciousness are logically inconsistent. I
refuse to accept consciousness as a basic, structureless part of the
world; it clearly exerts a complex causal influence on our thoughts and
is therefore examinable by the laws of physics. Suggesting that
consciousness should be placed on a level with mass or spacetime, as
Chalmers would have it, is tantamount to giving up, and calling
consciousness a "soul" doesn't solve a damn thing. I don't think that
consciousness can be identical with the instantiation of some
computation, but I do expect it to be identical with some complex,
objective physical phenomenon embodying many of the properties which we
ascribe to consciousness, including, for example, inherent unity of the
experiential field - something that seems impossible with discrete ones
and zeroes.

I don't see it in terms of "giving up and going to church", just in
terms of "giving up". Are we in methodological agreement anyway?

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.