Regarding Archimedes (a philosophy of math anecdote) 2019-10-13T21:25:27.271Z · score: 2 (4 votes)
On Freud's examination of the Uncanny in Literature 2019-06-14T17:40:25.520Z · score: 2 (1 votes)
The Outsider and the Onlooker (on esoteric meaning in fiction) 2019-06-11T20:02:41.386Z · score: 4 (2 votes)
On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic 2019-06-09T20:42:56.370Z · score: 5 (3 votes)
In Defense of Those Reclusive Authors 2019-06-09T14:14:38.644Z · score: 11 (7 votes)
Word-Idols (or an examination of ties between philosophy and horror literature) 2019-06-09T00:31:28.544Z · score: 11 (6 votes)
Two labyrinths - where would you rather be? 2019-06-08T17:48:51.069Z · score: 15 (10 votes)


Comment by kyriakosch on Reply to Paul Christiano's “Inaccessible Information” · 2020-06-09T07:22:55.670Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

" Presumably the machine learning model has in some sense discovered Newtonian mechanics using the training data we fed it, since this is surely the most compact way to predict the position of the planets far into the future. "

To me, this seems to be an entirely unrealistic presumption (also true for any of its parallels; not just when it is strictly about the position of planets). Even the claim that NM is "surely the most compact [...]" is questionable, given that obviously we know from history that there had been models able to predict just the position of stars since ancient times, and in this hypothetical situation where we somehow have knowledge of the position of planets (maybe through developments in telescopic technology) there is no reason to assume analogous models with the ancient ones with stars couldn't apply, thus NM would not be specifically needed to be part of what the machine was calculating.

Furthermore, I have some issue with the author's sense that the machine calculating something is somehow calculating it in a manner which inherently allows for the calculation to be translatable in many ways. While a human thinker inevitably thinks in ways which are open to translation and adaptation, this is true because as humans we do not think in a set way: any thinking pattern or collections of such patterns can - in theory - consist of a vast number of different neural connections and variations. Only as a finished mental product can it seem to have a very set meaning. For example, if we ask a child if their food was nice, they may say "yes, it was", and we would have that statement as something meaning something set, but we would never actually be aware of the set neural coding of that reply, for the simple reason that there isn't just one.

For a machine, on the other hand, a calculation is inherently an output on a non-translatable, set basis. Which is another way of saying that the machine does not think. This problem isn't likely to be solved by just coding a machine in such a way that it could have many different possible "connections" when its output would be the same, cause with humans this happens naturally, and one can suspect that human thinking itself is in a way just a byproduct of something not tied to actual thinking but the sense of existence. Which is, again, another way of saying that a machine is not alive. Personally, I think AI in the way it is currently imagined, is not possible. Perhaps some hybrid of machine-dna may produce a type of AI, but it would again be due to the DNA forcing a sense of existence and it would still take very impressive work to use that to advance Ai itself; I think it can be used to study DNA itself, though, through the machine's interaction with it.

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-11-14T04:55:00.914Z

Thank you all for your answers... I will be taking this piece out, cause ultimately it isn't anything good :)

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-11-03T14:18:37.012Z

Cthulhu ^_^

Well, this is only an introductory part. The glyphs are to be described later, and they stand for the meaning of the intense emotion. Much like the idol symbolizes the emotion as a whole, the glyphs on it are specks which may be analyzed.

If I may, to address both yours and MakoYass gist of the replies:

-I do feel that the summation of the excerpt is not loyal to the idea I had - which, to be sure, means I did fail, cause I cannot ask of the reader to see just what I aimed. That said, my own summation would be as follows:

1) vengeful acts seem to be usually not very analyzed, particularly by their agents

2) even in the case of calculative agents, this doesn't change in the crucial part (the calculative agent still won't examine the actual emotion, it is just that in their case they are more able to distance themselves from it).

The piece would then move on to examining whether the emotion which tends to lead to vengeful action (in cases where it is potent enough; eg to lead to murder in reciprocation) was actually tied to the event which triggered it; and therefore to examine if such an agent is actually negating the source of injury. The main idea is that no, it isn't much tied, but it is felt as tied and due to lack of ability to analyze the mental phenomenon it is usually the case that seeking to just negate the idol of it (the emotion) suffices here for the individual.

Emotions can serve as a block. The metaphor of the idol is tied to the one about the barrier mentioned earlier on. The underlying issue, however, is that if you are presented with an emotional wall, you would have to undertake more complicated steps to approach the matter differently; in a way, reacting to the emotion is like throwing back a ball you got into your yard, from someone who threw it behind a tall wall. But you can also try to go to the area from where it got sent to you - yet, for whatever reason or balance, apparently this was not the automatic development of this situation.

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-10-31T16:19:14.849Z

" People don't live merely to survive: we're hardwired to propagate our genes. If you cannot think abstractly and articulate your ideas well, you will have difficulty attracting a mate. People who have disabled their ability to examine themselves will be quickly eliminated from the gene pool. Hence, it seems unlikely that such an illness will occur because it goes against how natural selection has shaped us. "

I don't disagree with the gist of the above. However it is tricky to assign clear intentions to a non-human agent, assuming one views biological undercurrents as an analogue to an agent in the first place. Which brings us to:

" This reasoning seems to rely on the assumption that the mind was designed by some kind of agent. Who do you think is deciding whether it "makes sense" to allow an expansion of the ability to think? Our best theory is that cognitive expansion resulted as a series of mutations that improved the ability of our ancestors to survive. One does not need to appeal to the fact that "Day Zero illness" does not "make sense" to argue for its implausibility. It is implausible simply by the fact that it is a priori highly unlikely for any novel previously unobserved phenomenon to exist in the absence of a very strong theory that predicts it. "

If I assume such an illness can exist, it doesn't mean I can pontificate on the way in which it would be triggered. Certainly some mental illnesses seem to be more common in modern times - despite the ability to account for them and measure number of patients more efficiently. Some slightly related illnesses that do exist are those which have aphasia as a core part. Usually in pre-modern times one finds more elaborate personal accounts by poets and other authors, of such sensations or states; eg in the case of an aphasia-like state, there are two good examples, one from Baudelaire (the french poet) and his sense that he was "touched by the wing of idiocy" etc, and the very dramatic story of the deterioration of Guy De Maupassant (important story-writer), who in the end "reverted to an animal state".

However, as I noted, the hypothetical illness I wrote about is not just an individual case with elements of aphasia. Primarily my background for asking the question has been that any human is not primarily (in my view) an outward/social oriented being, but in the vast majority of cases humans are indeed social agents (due to a variety of reasons; usually having to do with clear rewards). However, below all that there is the person in their world of consciousness, as part of the greater world of the mind. It may be, therefore, that a risk can be picked up (more on by what it will be picked up later) as serious enough if it somehow attacks the inner world, that even a massive exodus from formations about anything closer to a surface (like interests in the external world) may occur. In such case, assuming it is possible, it would be easier to cause not a full erasure of memories or skills, but a negation of the ability to stabilize them, as briefly presented in the definition of the new illness in the OP.

As for your point about all this having to allow for the mind being created by an agent - no, that isn't so. I certainly have no reason to think the mind was created as a set work, nor (of course) that it existed a priori or may be sensed as existing a priori even figuratively. The way in which it developed (mutations etc) doesn't by itself have to cancel the possibility of a non-yet seen illness appearing. After all, as you agreed, not much of the final (such a thing cannot even exist) form of a mind can manifest, given this system of connections cannot exhaust all its possible rearrangements during the person's lifetime (likely not even if the person could live for 1000 years). I do approach this from a more literary (which, sadly, at times means even less literal...) point of view, given literature and philosophy is where my interests and studies lie.

I should also give at least one parallel (it won't be perfect, and it may lead to problems as well...) with a procedure which allows for a new development on a larger scale, while it wasn't picked up individually up to then. Given that if something like the DZI would exist, it wouldn't have been picked up before, it can be said that what was doing the picking-up or noticing certainly would not act on the same level as an individual (eg some individual sufferer or some aphasia-like condition). This would perhaps be possible, if the complexity of both the trigger and the formations which pick up the trigger were again far larger. In effect, in my hypothetical, the general idea was that some core pattern or patterns - not created by any agent; not conscious and not accounted for - does exist, which would signal due to special relation to the unconscious mind some particular and grave danger. Such patterns do not even have to be intelligible to an individual in the first place. In that, perhaps, it deteriorates somewhat to the realm of fiction; yet most complicated patterns aren't making a full impression on someone who views them. In fact we can be said to be surrounded by patterns which are not picked up, due to our position or lack of related interest to notice. Maybe - that is the hypothesis - a slight difference will lead to the unintended formation of a curious pattern which happens to be related not to the thinker but to some scheme in the mental world. After all - here comes the parallel - it isn't rare to see the opposite happen, for humans project math formations into external objects (eg the fibonacci and other φ related patterns, on shells etc). If we can project math onto the external world (which isn't anthropic or mathematical; math is not cosmic, in my view), why shouldn't some formation there present us with other elements and balances of our own mental world?

That such would be catastrophic, or cataclysmic, is just an assumption.

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-10-31T15:37:42.196Z

" The idea that consciousness is an phenomenon unrelated to brain structure and neural connections, is not helpful" is something I agree with. My question meant to have you argue in what way this hypothesis prerequisites a duallistic view.

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-10-31T01:04:53.691Z

Hi, I read the synopsis in that wiki page. While the Snow Crash story seems highly unlikely, indeed there isn't any prerequisite of understanding (by the conscious person) so that a change may take place. One could go as far as to claim that understanding by its very nature rests mostly on not understanding, while focusing on something to be understood.

I certainly am not aiming to define possible conditions under which something like the DZI may occur. Those may or may not exist. However it isn't by itself unrealistic that if we suppose that the vast majority of any mental goings-on in one's mind at any given mind are not conscious, some pattern with crucial similarities to those yet not conscious mental goings-on may affect them; up to a very crucial degree.

That said, an obvious difference with the Snow Crash story is that I am not talking about anything consciously constructed. DZI would not be a man-made virus. In essence the question is more tied to whether the start of consciousness itself was 'clean' in regards to not allowing for any reverting to a previous state or a collapse due to the risk of such reverting. For what it's worth, I do doubt that man developed consciousness in a clear-cut case of advancing and bettering one's chances in the world.

If you wish, you can elaborate on how you mean "weird dualism". If I attempt to guess - likely falsely - I'd imagine that you formed the view the hypothetical DZI had to affect just one part of the mind or just some ability which can reform or be provided by other parts (as in cases of people who suffer brain injury and in time may form new connections and means to generally possess again the same - or 'same' - abilities).

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-10-30T18:40:46.684Z

Intuitively, I think it is possible it will appear.

Rationally, one may consider the following as well:

-not much time has passed since the first use of language (by prehistoric people) to this day, so it can be assumed that only a negligible part of the possible mental calculations/connections has occured

-there is no direct survival bonus through ability to think in complicated manner; on the other hand there is arguably an cost-effective logic in disabling great freedom in self-examination

However it may take centuries for that to happen.

At any rate, it is just my guess - there are so many unknowns about the mind that this may too be impossible to actually happen. One reason why it would be unlikely is that, ultimately, if so grave a danger was built-in a system, it would make more sense to never allow as an option the expansion of ability to think in the first place.

Comment by kyriakosch on Sequence introduction: non-agent and multiagent models of mind · 2019-10-30T18:38:22.481Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wish to examine a point in the foundations of your post - to be more precise, a point which leads to the inevitable conclusion that it is not problematic in this discussion to use the term 'agent' while it is understood in a manner which allows a thermostat to qualify as an agent.

A thermostat certainly has triggers/sensors which force a reaction when a condition has been met. However to argue that this is akin to how a person is an agent is to argue that a rock supposedly "runs" the program known as gravity, when it falls. The issue is not a lack of parallels; it is a lack of undercurrent below the parallels (in a sense, this is causing the view that a thermostat is an agent, to be a 'leaking abstraction' as you put it). For we have to consider that no actual identification of change (be it through sense or thought or both) is possible when the entity identifying such change lacks the ability to translate it in a setting of its own. By translating I mean something readily evident in the case of human agents - not so evident in the case of ants or other relatively simpler creatures. If your room is on fire you identify this as a change from the normal, but this does not mean there is only one way to identify the changed situation. Someone living next to you will also identify that there is a fire, but chances are the (to use an analogy) code for that in their mind will differ very significantly from your own. Yet on some basic level you will be in agreement that there was a fire, and you had to leave.

Now an ant, another being which has life - unlike a thermostat - picks up changes in its environment. If you try to attack it it may go into panic mode. This, again, does not mean the act of attacking the ant is picked up as it is; it is once against translated, this time by the ant. How it translates it is not known, however it seems impossible to argue that it merely picks up the change as something set, some block of truth with the meaning 'change/danger' etc. It picks it up due to its ability (not conscious in the case of the ant) to identify something as set, and something as a change in that original set. A thermostat has no identification of anything set, because not being alive it has no power nor need to sense a starting condition, let alone to have inside it a vortex where translations of changes are formed.

All the above is why I firmly am against the view that "agent" is to be defined in a way that both a human and a thermostat can partake in it, when the discussion is about humans and involves that term.

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-07-07T15:22:33.126Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do suspect that when things make sense it is because of a drive of the sense-making agent to further his/her understanding, but I think that unwittingly it is actually a self-understanding and not one of the cosmos. If the cosmos does make sense, it isn't making sense to some chance observer like a human who is at any rate a walking thinking mechanism and has very little consciousness of either his own mental cogs or the dynamics between his own thinking and anything external and non-human. That this allows for distinct and verifiable progress (eg, as noted in my OP, anything up to space-traveling vehicles) is not due to some supposed real tie between observer agent and cosmos, but due to inherent tie between observer and translation natural (and inescapable past some degree) to said observer of the cosmos.

Comment by kyriakosch on Two labyrinths - where would you rather be? · 2019-07-06T22:00:36.388Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I generally agree, and I am happy you found the discussion interesting :)

In my view, indeed the Babylonian type of labyrinth does promote continuous struggle, or at least multiple points of hope and focus on achieving a breakthrough, while ultimately a majority of the time they won't lead to anything - and couldn't have lead to anything in the first place. The Arabian type at least promotes a stable progression, towards an end - although that end may already be a bad one.

Most of the time we simply move in our labyrinth anyway. And with more theoretical goals it can be said that even a breakthrough is more of a fantasy borne out of the endless movement inside the maze.

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-06-17T18:03:46.436Z

A good question. I would think that while the story doesn't have much to offer regarding conscious mental calculation and systems, it still includes a set of powerful allegories (in my article I did mention one of them: Algernon seems to stand for the somatic part, with the person turning into a purely mental entity; another allegory seems to be about the need to stop extrapolating thoughts to prevent an overload) which can, consciously or not, bring about changes to the reader's rationality.

I don't think the story has much to do with youth and experience. After all, as we all know (unless we are youths ;) ) while some knowledge only can be had by experience and thus only be gotten in time, the more theoretical types of knowledge are available to highly intelligent youths as well, eg an elementary school pupil can be already exceptionally good at math.

Comment by KyriakosCH on [deleted post] 2019-06-17T16:24:15.209Z

I entirely agree with you. The story isn't hard scifi at all, and this much is clear :)

It still is one of the gloomiest pieces of literature ever written, and it does manage to move the reader...

Comment by kyriakosch on Yes Requires the Possibility of No · 2019-06-15T03:30:42.880Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

While "yes requires the possibility of no" is correct, one should also establish whether or not either yes or no is meaningful itself in the context of the examination. For example, usually one is not up against a real authority, so whether the view of the other person is in favor or against his/her own the answer cannot be final for reasons other than just the internal conflict of the one who poses (or fears to pose) the question.

Often (in the internet age) we see this issue of bias and fear of asking framed in regards to hybrid matters, both scientific and political. However, one would have to suppose that the paradigmatic anxiety before getting an answer exists only in matters which are more personal. And in personal matters there is usually no clear authority, despite the fact that often there is a clear (when honest) consensus.

An example, from life. A very beautiful girl happens to have a disability - for example paralysis or atrophy of some part of her body. There is clear contrast between her pretty features (face, upper body etc) and the disabled/distorted one. The girl cannot accept this, yet - as is perfectly human - wishes to get some reassurance from others. Others may react in a number of different ways. The answer, however, to any question posed on this, can never be regarded as some final say, and in a way it happens that what is being juxtaposed here is not a question with an answer, but an entire mental life with some nearly nameless input of some other human.

In essence, while yes requires the possibility of no, I think that the most anxiety-causing matters really do not lend themselves well to asking a question in the first place.

Comment by kyriakosch on What makes people intellectually active? · 2019-06-13T20:35:22.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is a nice quote by Socrates (iirc it is in the dialogue with the geometrician Theaetetos*) where Socrates mentions one of the views about the origin of philosophical thinking, namely that it is born from the sense of dazzle (thamvos, in Greek). He meant (in context) that when a thinker senses something impressive and unknown, he/she is bound to examine it.

Thamvos is, of course, distinct from anxiety, such as when the sense is negative or even horrific.

In essence I agree that one of the prerequisites for intricate thought is the ability (and chance) to be impressed by something you come across, a trigger, whether external or internal.

*you should check the dialogue for other reasons too. For example it includes the (possibly) first ever reference to the Spiral of Theodoros of Cyrene.

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-12T22:41:27.364Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

" Well, here is the point where we disagree. In my view, equations for e.g. gravity or quantum physics are given by nature. Different species may use different syntax to describe them, but the freedom to do so would be quite limited. "

Yet differences of syntax connote relative uniformity in the observers as well as presupposing science being cosmic (also math being cosmic, where it relates to scientific examination). In my view supposing that indeed the cosmos (something clearly external to our mind) is examined and accounted for in a way which allows some hypothesized own (cosmic) rules to be picked up albeit in a slightly or somewhat particular manner by each observer, is a little like assuming that current AI in computer games actually identifies a sprite as a horseman and merely picks up the horseman as what the code translates it as. When (at least in this example; ie the fault may lie in the analogy) the game AI is obviously entirely incapable of identifying any "horseman" or any other form or trait, and just runs a code which has "horseman" only arbitrarily and in-code be tied to anything the AI can pick up. Likewise, it seems to me, a human runs (as well as reacts to; cause contrary to a current game AI we also have the ability to self-reflect) a human code which inevitably turns anything external into something anthropic. In the end, much like that AI, us humans also only deal with our own code and nothing else, regardless of the fact that the code is applied to specific and distinct phenomena (move the horseman, check if it is good to use a low HP unit against a rebel, etc).

" The fact that Kepler tried to have it one way, but it turned out to be other way, is an evidence for "the universe having its own mind about the equations", isn't it? "

My point is that it is a bit suspect (granted, this is just intuitive) that so simple and distinct a 2d geometrical form as an ellipse, is actually for us humans front and center in phenomena including the movement of heavenly bodies. Sure, by itself it isn't against math being cosmic, but I really doubt humans are so important OR that the ellipse is not a human concept but something cosmic. I'd need to elaborate on this, but yes, it is impressive in my view.

" Of course an alternative explanation is that the scientists -- mostly men, at least in history -- unconsciously prefer shapes that remind them of boobs. "

I thought these forums were meant for discussing things which aren't perfectly clear :D

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-11T22:44:53.019Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

" If the hypothetical aliens live in the same universe, they will probably develop natural numbers, some version of calculus, probably complex numbers, etc. Because those are things that describe the universe. "

I think that they might not. Of course I cannot be certain, but at least in the hypothetical I meant aliens which indeed do not have even the concept of a natural number or other similar concept. And in my view the notion of a sum (a oneness, something specific and easy to contrast to other objects or qualities) is quite possibly (tied to) the most crucial human mental characteristic. The basis of any thought is that it is sensed as distinct from any other thought, regardless of its baggage of unconscious elements.

I can imagine (as an idea) an intelligent alien species which does not have a notion of a sum or a oneness. To that hypothetical alien species there isn't really an external and an internal. This by itself does not have to prevent those aliens from having advanced science, but I personally doubt it would be mutually intelligible to our own.

In my view nothing describes the actual universe, but there are many possible (species-dependent) translations of the universe. Those are always tied to a phenomenon (what is picked up by sensory or mental organs) and not the actual thing.


That said, another interesting question might be (assuming math and science aren't cosmic) just why we identify quite a lot of significant patterns as relatively simple forms. For example the elliptic and parabolic trajectories of heavenly bodies, or the (near) spheroid form of some others. Again my suspicion is that has to do with human perception, but it is a good question why so specific a form would be picked up. Recall how even Kepler was originally regarding the ellipsis as way too easy and convenient a form to account for movement in space, and was considering complicated arrangements of the platonic solids :)

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-11T20:32:50.426Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I will try to offer my reflection on the two matters you mentioned.

1)First of all whether this development may have been social. It would - to a degree - but if so then it would be a peculiar and prehistoric event:

If I was to guess, at some point (in deep prehistory) our ancestors could not yet be able to communicate using anything resembling a language, or even words. Prior to using words (or anything similar to words) prehistoric humans would only tenuously tie their inner world (thinking & feeling) to formulated or isolated notions. It is highly likely that logical thinking (by which I mean the basis of later formalization of logic, starting -at the latest- with Aristotle) wasn't yet so prominent a part in the human mentality. It is not at all impossible, or even (in my view) that improbable that some degree of proto- rationalization had to occur so that prehistoric humans would manage to think and sense less of something less organized, and move towards becoming able to establish stable notions and consequently words and a language.

2) Secondly, this would be also inherited. I do suppose that ultimately math (by which I mean more complicated math than the one we currently are aware of) serves somewhat as a dna-to-consciousness interface. But even if this is so, due to point 1 it wouldn't really connote mathematical parameters as being more important than other parameters in the human mind or overall organism.

But there is another point, regarding your post. I think that a non-mental object (for example any external object) cannot be identified as it actually is by the observer/the one who senses it. In philosophy there is a famous term, the so-called "thing-in-itself". That term (used since ancient times) generally means that any object is picked up as having qualities depending on the observer's own ability and means to identify qualities, and not because the actual object has to have those qualities or anything like them. The actual object is just there, but is not in singularity with the observer; the observer translates it through his/her own means (senses and thought). Your point about the object possibly having math inherently is interesting (I do understand you mean that its form is shaped due to actual, real properties, and those are just picked up by us), yet it should be supplemented with the note that even if the object (for example one of those shells) had properties itself which create that spiral and then we notice it, it would have to follow that either we noticed the spiral without distorting the thing-in-itself as an observer of it, or that we picked up some property which didn't actually have any mathematical value but was (in some strange way) isomorphic to the spiral when translated for a human observer's sensory organs. If the latter somehow was true then the external object had no mathematical property, and we picked up some math property because we seem to project math even in more ways than one. If the former was true then we are in singularity with the observed object and nothing is actually distinct in the cosmos (certainly anyone senses their own self as distinct from something external). And in both cases it would not connote that math are cosmic, given the case where math were part of the observed object would present a case where we are so full of illusions that we think (incorrectly in that case) ourselves distinct from a shell, when in "reality" we would not have been.

I do realize this may seem way too "philosophical" (and in a bad way). Philosophy has had problems since ancient times (this itself is already examined by Plato himself: how philosophy may seem very alienating and problematic). Yet the gist of the matter is that (in virtually all serious philosophers' view) there is no reason to think that we as observers pick up any actual non-anthropic reality. We do pick up a translation of something, and this translation is enough to allow us to advance in various ways, including being able to build space-traveling rockets. This is so because we always stay within the translation, and to us the cosmos is witnessed in translation. But a translation of something is not in tautology with the thing itself. My own suspicion is that different intelligent species will not have compatible translations (because they would likely even lack fundamental notions we have; for example they may not sense space or movement or other parameters, and sense ones we cannot imagine. Intuitively I suspect even so alien a species could develop tech and science of a very high level).

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-11T00:09:43.088Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, yes, I do not mean why the Fibonacci spiral approximates the Golden Spiral. I mean why we happen to see something very close to this pattern in some external objects (for example some shells of creatures) when it is a mathematical formation based on a specific sequence.

I referred to it to note that perhaps we project math onto the external world, including cases where we literally see a fully fledged math spiral.

There are other famous examples. Another is The Vitruvian Man (proportions of man by Vitruvius, as presented by DaVinci). One would be tempted to account for this by saying math is cosmic, yet it may just be it is anthropic and the result is a projection of patterns. That math is very important for us (both consciously and even more so unconsciously) seems certain; yet maybe it is not cosmic at all.

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-10T17:44:00.492Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you. Intuitively I would hazard the guess that even non-obvious systems (such as your example of the story which rests on axioms) may be in the future presented in a mathematical way. There is a very considerable added hurdle there, however:

When we communicate about math (let's use a simple and famous example: the Pythagorean theorem in Euclidean space) we never focus on parameters that go outside the system. Not only parameters which are outside the set axioms which define the system mathematically (in this case Euclidean space) but more importantly the many more which define the terms we use: I do not communicate to you how I sense the terms for A, B, squared, equality or any other, regardless of the likelihood of myself sensing them in my mind in a very different way to you. It's the same relative communication which is used in every-day matters: if one says "I am happy" you do not sense what is very specifically/fully meant, although the term is a fossil of specific connotations, so some communication is possible, and often no more is needed. Likewise no more is needed to present a math system like that, but certainly far more will be needed to present a story or the subconscious in math terms (and within a given level; outside of that set the terms will remain less defined).

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-10T17:38:39.004Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you mean my example using people who were born blind, I meant that much like they develop their own system and theory to identify what they cannot sense (visible space), so do all humans in regards to identifying how the external world/the cosmos functions. It isn't about which one is "less real", unless we claim that there is one being (or one group of beings etc) which witness an actual reality. That itself is highly debatable (eg Descartes, and some other thinkers, usually reversed such a role for a deity).

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-10T17:36:14.098Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If those aliens are able to understand notions such as momentum, it would be because they can (in whatever way; sense or other) understand more fundamental notions which may be non-cosmic. Some good examples of such notions, from Eleatic philosophy (Parmenides, Zeno etc) are size, form, position, movement (change) and time. To a human, those ideas tie to something evident. An alien may not have them at all. An alien closely resembling humans may have them (as well as math).

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-10T13:03:33.321Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, crows are a good example of non-human creatures that use something which may be identified as math (crows have been observed to effectively even notice the -its practical manifestation, obviously - law of displacement of liquids :) )

I used human as a synecdoche here, that is chose the most prominent creature we know that uses math, to stand for all that (to some degree) do. Even if we accept that crows or other creatures have a similar link (itself debatable) it still would link math to dna found on our planet. My suspicion is that what we identify as math is a manifestation of relations, sequences or outcomes of dna, more easily observable in human self-reflection and sense (which is why I mentioned the shells we see in the form approximating the golden ratio spiral).

In essence my suspicion is that math is tied to specific dna-to-conscious animal logistics, and serves as a kind of interface between the deep mind and consciousness, parts of which are occasionally brought up and examined more rigorously. (humans being the species which is more apt to self-reflection, makes us likely the main one here to be conscious of math concepts). I am not of the view that math is cosmic. Approaching this philosophically, it basically connotes that the external world is not mathematical, but because human examination of phenomena in scientific manner presupposes use of the human mind it inevitably is examined through math. One could hypothesize the existence of some other field, non-human, which is equally applicable to the study of the cosmos, and possibly some intelligent species of alien uses that, with compatibility with math being probably non existent.

Comment by kyriakosch on On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic · 2019-06-10T09:14:53.816Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the reply. I think that it does matter, because if math is indeed anthropic then it should follow that humans are in effect bringing to light parts of our own mental world. It isn't a discovery of principles of the cosmos, but of how any principles (to the degree they exist in parts of the cosmos) are translated by our mentality. I do find it a little poetic, in that if true it is a bit like using parts of yourself so as to "move" about, and special kind of "movement" requires special knowledge of something still only human.

To use another common metaphor: people who are born blind have no sense of how the world looks. They do come up with theories. To a degree those theories, coupled with sensory routines (counting steps to known routes, hearing and noticing smells) provide a personal model of some environment, translated in their own way. Yet the actual phenomenon, the visible world, is not available. Likewise, it seems that math is not part of anything external, and is an own, human tool, composed of particularly human ingredients and enough to model something of the world that it may allow quite complicated movement through it (including space travel).

Comment by kyriakosch on Word-Idols (or an examination of ties between philosophy and horror literature) · 2019-06-09T16:10:16.920Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The thing-in-itself indeed ties somewhat more clearly to the HPL mythos beings, in that they are (by majority; or at least the major ones in the pantheon) supposed to not be three-dimensional in the first place. The thing-in-itself is the object without having to be rendered by any specific observer's point of view.

While in (most) philosophy one doesn't examine a topic which is able to cause anxiety, the notions themselves do negate a possible anxiety which would be caused by any examination, in my view. Again, even the notion of the thing-in-itself is formulated as a singular point in a plane: you cannot analyze it to anything, because by definition it connotes impossibility to analyze or attribute qualities to it. It exists only as an idea of difference.

To use a simple example (not for you, who obviously are familiar with the notion), and to tie this to Parmenides (and Plato) which I mentioned in passing in my article:

While a desk gets picked up as something in 3D space, with form, size and other qualities, theoretically one can assume that the same object (desk) still would exist as something, even if its observer had no ability to sense space, position, movement or the other core qualities humans pick up with the senses. So the desk, assuming it exists for any observer regardless of what abilities that observer has, will have some unknown qualities that aren't dependent on observation; in this sense it is a thing as it is, a thing-in-itself, not to be known and distinct from any view we have of it.

Useful to note that while Kant made the term more popular, the thing-in-itself was already a known term in Plato's time and is mentioned frequently (eg) in the dialogue between Socrates and Parmenides.

Comment by kyriakosch on Word-Idols (or an examination of ties between philosophy and horror literature) · 2019-06-09T10:40:15.116Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you!!!

Comment by kyriakosch on Two labyrinths - where would you rather be? · 2019-06-09T00:18:17.294Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A nice story!

If I may intrude on the solar labyrinth a bit, in my view the mental world may indeed have aspects of a solar labyrinth, only that at set times (triggered by difficult to calculate events) what had been only a game of shadow and light now takes the form of the most concrete wall.

I do love your remark about the solar labyrinth not forcing the guest to even accept it as a labyrinth. Yet I think that at some point (potentially) any mental scheme which seems fleeting and easy to bypass can indeed become stable and even frighteningly immediate & demanding a solution if one is to be allowed to leave.