Re: is information the bottom line?

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Fri, 12 Feb 1999 11:51:37 -0600

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> The English word "why" has at least four different meanings:
> physical causation, logical implication, agentive justification,
> and agentive motive ("telos"). The teleological "why" may be
> a waste of time to investigate, but the others might not be.
> In particular, an interesting and useful question is "Is there
> a relatively simple set of initial conditions from which the
> complex Universe we see could have evolved?"

Likewise, "physical causation" has at least the following meanings: Thermodynamic causality, or using Occam's Razor to deduce that the direction of time is from smaller to larger probability volumes; relativistic causality, or the direction of time as determined by gravitation; mathematical causality, which you call "logical implication", but which also explains the verifiable fact that one planet plus one planet equals two planets; static logical causality, which refers to deductions operating on an instantaneous data-set using non-temporal rules; temporal logical causality, which refers to deductions predicting future states of a data set which evolves continuously or discretely according to process rules.

Let's see Lojban distinguish between _that_. Incidentally, this isn't a complete list.

Anyway, of all these forms of causality, the only one that I believe is objectively real is relativistic causality; all the others are simplifications therefrom. No, let me strike that: The only one which _might possibly_ be real is relativistic causality.

I don't believe in any form of logical or mathematical justification. Anything real is an experimentally detectable physical process. That also goes for the reason why anything exists at all. The reason why physical processes exist will itself be a physical process, not a logical argument or a mathematical equation. Nor will physics ever be able to explain all presently observable processes until this reason is known.

I don't believe in things that aren't experimentally detectable; there is a reason why anything exists at all; ergo that reason is experimentally detectable; QED.

Eganic, yes, but there's a reason why "Greg Egan" is the superlative conjugation of "SF author".

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

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