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Does information need a physical substrate?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 9th, 2018, 2:37 am

Thomas you made a good point, I acknowledge that. If we do have an abstraction that is false then it still could exist in our brains as a false abstraction. Me bad.

I want you to consider the internal mental process that precedes the implantation of abstract conclusions. Can the mouth eat itself can the eyes see their own color can a hand hold itself? Can the physical mind record abstractions that it does not create?

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Burning ghost
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Burning ghost » October 9th, 2018, 6:04 am

Does “the same different yellow substance of riddled drama with samples of ferment” mean anything?

If hte terminology you’re using shifts too far beyond common parse then you’re prone to falling into th belief that words carry more weight than phenomenological experience.

Language and communication has necessary limits and an ambiguity. By all means skirt around its borders and be aware how easy it is to slip beyond sensible discourse with one or two misplaced words.
AKA badgerjelly

Fooloso4
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Fooloso4 » October 9th, 2018, 4:23 pm

BigBango:
What I would like you to consider is that our current understanding of "physicality" is tarnished by sciences need to empirically verify its character.
Empirical or physical evidence of what is physical does not tarnish our understanding of what is physical, it grounds it.
To this end science only manages to identify 10% of the mass of the universe.
The assumption that science has identified only a portion of the mass of the universe is based on empirical evidence. What the unknown mass is may be guided by mathematical or abstract models but if it is to be known it will become known in empirically verifiable ways, whether directly or indirectly.
In favor of the dual aspect position is the fact that mental abstractions do not seem to be subject to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Decomposing corpses have nothing contribute to abstract thought.

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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Fooloso4 » October 9th, 2018, 4:26 pm

TH:
But what Plato says is all ancient hoohar. It's just based on his ignorance of the world, purely inventive.
He gives no account of how and why his "forms" can exist. It's nothing more than idle speculation; a theory that does no work.
Perhaps it is that your comments are based on your ignorance of Plato, but whether or not that is the case would require a careful and detailed reading of Plato, something that you have evidently decided is not worth doing.

He does in fact give an account of how and why the forms must exist, but it is propaedeutic and rhetorical, zetetic and skeptical. This is, however, a subject for a different topic. One I would be glad to discuss, but only if we are discussing the dialogues themselves and not merely what others have said about them.
Truth is just a relation, as is the 'abstraction'.
When we say that ‘X’ is just what is being related? What is it an abstraction from? What establishes its truth? Consideration of such problems points to the reason Plato posits the Forms.

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » October 10th, 2018, 8:32 pm

Jumping in here as a possible dual-aspect-ist, as opposed to a dualist. My ontology has two things: stuff and patterns. Stuff exists, patterns are real. Some patterns are discernible in stuff, so for example, the number three is discernible in three trees.

So to the OP: Information needs a physical substrate, pretty much by definition. I’m pretty sure the “form” in “information” refers to physical form.

Now things get interesting when we talk about semantic information. We have semantic information when the physical form can be reasonably interpreted to represent an arbitrary pattern (arbitrary in that there is no obvious causal-physical relation the object pattern represented and the physical form doing the representing). And so, a set of neurons firing in a certain way can represent the Pythagorean Theorem, or “tyranny”, or “John the married bachelor.”

I should point out that any given physical formation could embody more than one set of semantic information. Exactly how information is interpreted depends on the interpreting mechanism. But in the brain, the mechanism creating the physical formation and the mechanism interpreting that formation are likely to be coordinated so as to produce a useful result.

So what would Plato think of this?

*

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 10th, 2018, 11:35 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
October 9th, 2018, 4:23 pm
BigBango:
What I would like you to consider is that our current understanding of "physicality" is tarnished by sciences need to empirically verify its character.
Empirical or physical evidence of what is physical does not tarnish our understanding of what is physical, it grounds it.
To this end science only manages to identify 10% of the mass of the universe.
The assumption that science has identified only a portion of the mass of the universe is based on empirical evidence. What the unknown mass is may be guided by mathematical or abstract models but if it is to be known it will become known in empirically verifiable ways, whether directly or indirectly.
In favor of the dual aspect position is the fact that mental abstractions do not seem to be subject to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Decomposing corpses have nothing contribute to abstract thought.
Of course empirical/physical evidence does ground our understanding of the physical. What I was trying, very poorly, to say is that because this empirical verification has such a high standard of proof it can only establish the physical nature of 10% of the mass of the universe. The other 90% certainly has some characteristics that put, at least some of it, in the class of the "physical" yet not empirically verified as physical substance. After all, we do assert that the other 90% exists exactly because it produces gravity, a recognized characteristic of the "physical.

It is that conundrum or lack of evidence that fuels our arguments about whether or not reality has a "dual aspect mental/physical" character or is just purely physical or even simply mental as in idealism or if I am correct, Platonic or Berkelian. I welcome your analysis.

I should add that Leibniz is the clearest and most convincing, in my mind, of the dual aspect reality theories wherein "substance" is always a combination of indivisible "monads", the mental "forms", dominating the infinitely divisible physical nature of reality. I might add that his theories are quite consistent with our own philosopher Tamminen.

How, may we ask, does that argument bear on the OP which asks " does information need a physical substrate?".

My answer is that the "mental forms" or "subject" as our Tamminen asserts is ontologically primary in its relation to physical matter, whatever that may be. Therefore the "mental/subject" has information in the form of experiential states that have no physical correlate in itself other then those physical events that gave rise to that experience. Therefore the "mental/subject" has information that relates to physical reality but is not in itself "physical".

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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Fooloso4 » October 11th, 2018, 7:45 am

BigBango, how might we determine whether information needs a physical substrate? I suggest you look for cases whether there is information that is conveyed non-physically to something that is not physical. In the absence of such examples it seems reasonable to conclude that a physical substrate is needed. If you think that a mental substrate is also needed then the answer to your question about the need for a physical substrate is still that it is needed.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 12th, 2018, 12:12 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
October 11th, 2018, 7:45 am
BigBango, how might we determine whether information needs a physical substrate? I suggest you look for cases whether there is information that is conveyed non-physically to something that is not physical. In the absence of such examples it seems reasonable to conclude that a physical substrate is needed. If you think that a mental substrate is also needed then the answer to your question about the need for a physical substrate is still that it is needed.
My example of information being passed from something non-physical to something that is not physical is the way information flows in the thought process. I admit that this "information" is not being transferred from one entity to another but still it evolves within an individual passing from one thought to another without any physical substrate needed. The mental experience of the "subject" is private.

A physical substrate is only needed to communicate to other identities.

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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Fooloso4 » October 12th, 2018, 8:58 am

BigBango:
My example of information being passed from something non-physical to something that is not physical is the way information flows in the thought process.
The thought process does not occur without a physical entity that is thinking.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 13th, 2018, 12:07 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
October 12th, 2018, 8:58 am
BigBango:
My example of information being passed from something non-physical to something that is not physical is the way information flows in the thought process.
The thought process does not occur without a physical entity that is thinking.
[/quote

Yes I agree with you. But isn't there a difference between the physical stimulus for the thought and the evolution of the thought. In a dual aspect reality our consciousness or experiential states can also be about what is evolving in our minds. Therefor information flows within the mind and has no physical correlate. It is that fact that establishes our identity. This is because, by virtue of the fact of our thinking that has no physical substrate, we have a unique place in the world that others cannot know exactly because our thinking has no physical substrate within which they can gain any access.

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cavacava
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by cavacava » October 13th, 2018, 7:30 am

If we characterize a living being as having both a physicality and a "mental" nature, a subject that has experiential states, what is the status or character of the information that is "in his mind". Does that information have a physical substrate"?
Having a mind requires having a brain but the information you have in your mind is not the same as neural interactions, yet the mind can affect the body and the body can effect the mind. Thomas Nagel said:
We could express this view by saying that you are not a body plus a soul—
that you are just a body, but your body, or at least your brain, is not just a
physical system. It is an object with both physical and mental aspects: it can
be dissected, but it also has the kind of inside that can't be exposed by
dissection. There's something it's like from the inside to taste chocolate
because there's something it's like from the inside to have your brain in the
condition that is produced when you eat a chocolate bar.

Belindi
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Belindi » October 13th, 2018, 11:28 am

BigBango wrote:
If we characterize a living being as having both a physicality and a "mental" nature, a subject that has experiential states, what is the status or character of the information that is "in his mind". Does that information have a physical substrate"?
I guess this is a question for psychologists. I think it's generally held to be true that young children's understandings begin with physical substrates typically by way of play. There are probably certain attributes of concepts that are inherent and don't have to be learned by young children e.g. the human face or even the face of an animal; the two eyes are said to be a basic conformation that is an inherent pattern.

I can't remember when children are supposed to develop the ability to juggle abstract concepts, but I guess they begin to do so at primary school.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 14th, 2018, 1:04 am

cavacava wrote:
October 13th, 2018, 7:30 am
If we characterize a living being as having both a physicality and a "mental" nature, a subject that has experiential states, what is the status or character of the information that is "in his mind". Does that information have a physical substrate"?
Having a mind requires having a brain but the information you have in your mind is not the same as neural interactions, yet the mind can affect the body and the body can effect the mind. Thomas Nagel said:
We could express this view by saying that you are not a body plus a soul—
that you are just a body, but your body, or at least your brain, is not just a
physical system. It is an object with both physical and mental aspects: it can
be dissected, but it also has the kind of inside that can't be exposed by
dissection. There's something it's like from the inside to taste chocolate
because there's something it's like from the inside to have your brain in the
condition that is produced when you eat a chocolate bar.
Welcome to the forum cavacava. Dual aspect philosophers are few and far between here. Nagel is such a good example of what I am trying to establish here. The realm of a person's being that is private, because its nature is not encoded in a physical structure that is accessible by our senses. It may be encoded at some lower level of physicality but not at a level that we have access to now. What it is like to be a bat is just something we cannot get our heads around. Thanks for your post.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 14th, 2018, 1:19 am

Belindi wrote:
October 13th, 2018, 11:28 am
BigBango wrote:
If we characterize a living being as having both a physicality and a "mental" nature, a subject that has experiential states, what is the status or character of the information that is "in his mind". Does that information have a physical substrate"?
I guess this is a question for psychologists. I think it's generally held to be true that young children's understandings begin with physical substrates typically by way of play. There are probably certain attributes of concepts that are inherent and don't have to be learned by young children e.g. the human face or even the face of an animal; the two eyes are said to be a basic conformation that is an inherent pattern.

I can't remember when children are supposed to develop the ability to juggle abstract concepts, but I guess they begin to do so at primary school.
Of course you are referring to Piaget's excellent work. Thanks for bringing up this very relevant information. I am familiar with his findings but had not been focusing on its relevance to this OP until you brought it up.

We might say that a newborn is essentially just "mind" whiteout much of it having any physical substrate, except, as you mention, those inherent brain abilities that do not have to be learned. Thanks for mentioning this very relevant work by Piaget.

Belindi
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Belindi » October 14th, 2018, 12:51 pm

Do newborns have much in the way of neural connections? I understand that they learn amazingly rapidly and we can safely take it that the brain and the mind correlate in all regards.

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