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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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Karpel Tunnel
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 25th, 2018, 7:29 am

Belindi wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 11:59 am
Big Bango, "------ "Standard Theory" because it is concerned with the physical nature of small objects."

But very small objects are relatively small, whereas theories of existence itself are to do with absolutes.

Ontology is concerned with theories of existence itself . Theories of existence itself deal with whether or not the Standard Theory is about physical existence or alternatively about mental existence. Big Bango, if there were no minds would the Standard Theory exist? You may perhaps have opinion about it but you cannot have evidence one way or the other.
The Standard Theory is part of one kind of physicalism. It takes a stand on ontology and so has a metaphysical aspect or ground. It certainly does other things on top of this axiom. It is part of the general scientific monism.

Belindi
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Belindi » October 25th, 2018, 11:56 am

Karpel Tunnel, I think you have clarified the issue.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 25th, 2018, 1:08 pm

KT, well said!

It seems now is a good time to return to the subject of the OP, "Does information need a physical substrate?".

There are three fundamental facts that suggest an answer to that question.

1.) Science's "strong" empirical methods only yield physical attributes of 10% of the mass of the universe.

2.) The other 90% of the mass of the universe generates gravity therefore it does have some physical characteristics, gravity generation for one, as does the physical matter with which we are familiar.

3.) Our experiential states are not obviously instantiated in the physical matter with which we are familiar.

There are then several speculations that could account for the real nature of our experiential states.

a.) Our experiential states are instantiated in a lower physicality that we have yet to discover. In this case, the argument between the physicalists and the dual substance theorists is basically an argument about what one should call this yet to be discovered, lower level, physicality "essentially physical" or "the physical nature of the mental aspect of being".

b.) The other possibility, the one I favor, is that the mental aspect of reality never occurs by itself, without existing within a framework of physicality. Of course that was Leibniz' assertion as he theorized the nature of substance to be both indivisible "monads" ruling over an infinitely divisible physicality. Of course this ontological stance is quite consistent with Tamminen's assertions.

Focusing on this last speculation, we can then began to introduce how these layers of substance/mental could be connected "fractally".

The conclusion about "Does Information need a physical substrate?" then depends on what one decides between option a.) or b.).

Karpel Tunnel
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 27th, 2018, 5:31 am

An issue I have raised before is that 'physical' is an open-ended category. When science (meaning something like 'scientific consensus') decides that something exists, they will call it physical, regardless, so far, of its characteristics. Even if it has no mass, or if it is a field, even if it can exist in the same place as something else. My guess is this will continue. So when we say X must have a physical substrate, it is not clear to me what we are committing ourselves to. To me it seems like we are saying it is real. Or that it can be verified to exist. Since we don't know what 'causes' consciousness, we don't know, yet, what is or is not conscious. We have tended to work away from ourselves. The like us, the more willing we are to grant consciousness, and even here very reluctantly, especially in the scientific community. But this is generally based on function - what something can do. The more intelligent, the more likely we are to grant consciousness. Intelligence measured via abilities -and of course ones like ours. Plants, that are generally slower, non-mobile, and seem to us not making choices or decisions, are only now beginning to be granted the potential of having consciousness. And here, again, based on functions. We now see that many functions, choices actions are happening but often slower than ours and other animal choices. Though not always slower. To a pantheist, obviously, the jury is still out. This is focusing on conscousness, but I think there is a similar issue with information. If we keep expanding what is considered physical, well then anything we consider real with come under the category 'physical' but then the term has lost its meaning. If we can't know if the universe is a simulation - which some physicists argue is not only possible, but even likely - then the distinction between the physical and information is pretty hazy, though in some ways the q uestion is 'can there be physical without an information substrate?'

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » October 27th, 2018, 7:36 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
October 27th, 2018, 5:31 am
An issue I have raised before is that 'physical' is an open-ended category. When science (meaning something like 'scientific consensus') decides that something exists, they will call it physical, regardless, so far, of its characteristics. Even if it has no mass, or if it is a field, even if it can exist in the same place as something else. My guess is this will continue. So when we say X must have a physical substrate, it is not clear to me what we are committing ourselves to. To me it seems like we are saying it is real. Or that it can be verified to exist.
Excellent points KT. As far as science is concerned nothing exists until it can be shown to be "physical". Sciences only concession to that principle is QM's notion of quantum superstition wherein cats are both dead and alive until observed. My answer to that conundrum is to assert that philosophy still needs to guide scientific research so that it does not get stuck using narrowly defined empirical methods. After all, science does not really observe "quarks". It just sees that the theoretical expectations about how a collision of particles effects detectors made of matter implies their theoretical properties are true. Of course "consciousness" will always be left out of the equation. What we need to insist on is that given that experiential states are not "physically observed" properties of our recognized matter then we must suspect that there are lower levels of "physicality" that instantiate experiential states. I don't care if you call that lower level a "mental" level or "physical level yet discovered. What I do care about is that this lower level is seen as the instantiated physicality of a "mind" that operates on and effects the nature of that physicality to preserve the attachments that the mind or being values.

Belindi
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Belindi » October 27th, 2018, 4:58 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
So when we say X must have a physical substrate, it is not clear to me what we are committing ourselves to. To me it seems like we are saying it is real. Or that it can be verified to exist.

I take physical substrate to mean caused according to identifiably physical causes. My examples of physical substrate are from the human not the natural sciences.
1. Young children playing and learning from immediately concrete experiences.(Psychology)

2. Long ago biologically- based need to measure the fertile lands of the Nile Delta , therefore mathematics especially geometry.(History)

The human sciences and the natural sciences are empirical and so their events are determined by causes and effects.

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The Beast
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by The Beast » November 3rd, 2018, 12:05 pm

Reality on omega.
What is real is contingent to what is possible. The possibilities become real when the energy of the producing cells is absorbed by the lingering line of conscious activity. The ensemble which absorbs the energy has a wave signature. In the moment of Now is detectable and thus determine real by the constructed gadgetry of our scientific community. Once this wave is produced it has an effect in the Now and pretends to be real as what we know as the Past. What is a wave will be a wave decreasing in energy until infinity for it never gets to zero as zero is not a real number but an abstract of Nothing. The absorption of the wave as the Now and the Past as the lingering memories of our life is possible by the conditions that allow the wave to exist. The point which created the wave and much like a sun might transform and cease to produce a recognizable signature in the ensemble of consciousness. That which was a wave will continue without translators never reaching what is zero. If each cell is alive the travelling waves of 2000 generations of my skin cells are going towards zero filling the micro space with what was. The cells are dependent of the energy source to maintain the line of translation or possibility but much like an extinct sun, their waves will go on towards nothingness never reaching and that which is real was first a possibility and so that which is possibility is also real. Absolute zero is not a possibility… and what is it that we call the ensemble of possibilities? The Matrix? The Universe? Under this translation of reality, the cell is the unit of life or maybe what is the engine of the cell is the unit of life or maybe…there is an original particle produced at incredible temperatures and conditions close to the boundaries of infinity what we call life and maybe there is a translator of Universal proportions. What is asserted as true is the decreasing temperatures that allow for the appearance of new particles and the periodic table in their journey to absolute zero…

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SimpleGuy
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by SimpleGuy » November 3rd, 2018, 12:22 pm

Somehow information should be somehow transferred , due to the fact that without measurement , nobody knows that it is existent. Thus information needs a measuring method.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » November 5th, 2018, 1:38 am

The Beast, thank you for an insightful foray into the metaphysics of living things.

I wonder what philosophers have influenced your theories. I think your description of reality as a product of living things traveling in time and their relationship to our measurement of them is right on.

Your theories coincide very much with Whitehead as explicated in his work "Process and Reality".

I would like you to address what might be the difference between the flow of existence for living things with consciousness and inanimate matter.

Of course, Whitehead sees conscious "actual entities" as the fundamental basis of all of reality and is therefore a "pan psychic". In my opinion, I see "living" things as different from inanimate objects. I would be interested in how you differentiate the living from the inanimate if you differentiate them at all.

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The Beast
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by The Beast » November 5th, 2018, 3:36 pm

Happy to. I enjoy the Big Fango as well.
Just like reality, it only looks that way. As to the OP: I agree that information needs a substrate. However, the almost infinite possibilities have been laid out and they arise from existence. In the case of consciousness information is the measure of its free will plus whatever deterministic forces remain. We are conscious of some of the possibilities and its measurements. The insertion of a lie should not alter the initial measurement however, it may result in the next choice of what otherwise may be deterministic and logical consequence of truth. The question is: What is a lie? If the substrate is the measurement of reality and reality is deterministic then the possibility of a lie is not intrinsic of the substrate and yet arises in it. And so, the conscious substrate of truth looks at false as the binary element and yet further as the spectrum of the true/false “greys” of our want to be reality. The question of freedom and reality is one for the imagination as the emergent capacity of the substrate. Bottom line. Living consciousness arises in the substrate as a separate entity and is as big as its possibilities or the sum of all available substrate. It exists looking at its reflection… maybe it is beautiful. Or another way is to say that the reflection is directing truth or reality. As for the nature of truth or the truth laid out before I recognized it and measured it as an spectrum moving at different speeds from the truth abstract that has no substrate. At our speed of truth and of course the origin of the species I would consider that the origin of a lie might be my truth travelling at different speed. What was true in an instant of reality is not truth in another instance due to my measurement at a different speed. Whatever happened afterwards is my imaginative capacity. I could imagine Good.

Gertie
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Gertie » November 17th, 2018, 10:27 am

Can you define ''information'' as you're using it in the OP BB?

Because imo you need to make clear that if you're using the term ''information'' to mean something more than a way of describing something else, exactly what that 'something more' is.

And simply being clear about that might answer your question.

Because obviously if ''information'' is simply a term connating ways we describe the properties of an actual thing, rather than information being an actual thing in itself, then the question is akin to asking do adjectives have an independently existing physical substrate, or categories or measurements, and no they don't.

(Eg to say entropy is a loss of information, just means actual stuff is getting simpler so there are fewer ways of describing that stuff, rather than there is actual stuff called information which is disappearing out of existence)

But if you're using the term ''information'' to mean something more than types of description, then I'd need to know exactly what, to know what's being asked.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » November 18th, 2018, 11:56 am

Nice post Gertie! I have missed your calm, on point analytical analysis of the claims being made here.

Give me a little more time to compose my thoughts and I will get back to this subject.

Later.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » November 18th, 2018, 1:46 pm

Gertie wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 10:27 am
Can you define ''information'' as you're using it in the OP BB?

Because imo you need to make clear that if you're using the term ''information'' to mean something more than a way of describing something else, exactly what that 'something more' is.

And simply being clear about that might answer your question.

Because obviously if ''information'' is simply a term connating ways we describe the properties of an actual thing, rather than information being an actual thing in itself, then the question is akin to asking do adjectives have an independently existing physical substrate, or categories or measurements, and no they don't.

(Eg to say entropy is a loss of information, just means actual stuff is getting simpler so there are fewer ways of describing that stuff, rather than there is actual stuff called information which is disappearing out of existence)

But if you're using the term ''information'' to mean something more than types of description, then I'd need to know exactly what, to know what's being asked.
To answer your question about what do I mean by information, is not an easy one because it is used in so many different ways. You are right on to ask for clarification. I prefer to use it in its more technical sense, as used in physics. This is because it is the only way I can see to expose the essential differences between a dual aspect ontology and a physical monism ontology.

Generally speaking, but still couched in physical theory, information has been shown to be equivalent to energy. In that sense it is a thing in itself and not just a mental abstraction like an "adjective". However I will try to reveal how a dual aspect ontology can blur our understanding about the necessity of information to be encoded in a "physical substrate".

The reason we can equate information with energy is that it has been shown that any pattern/mathematical in matter can be shown to be convertible to work. In thermodynamics, information then can represent a dynamic system that is equivalent to entropy. Indeed there is confirmation that the 2nd law of thermodynamics can be based simply on the system's informational content. When a system loses encoded information its entropy increases.

The point I wanted to develop here is that in a dual aspect ontology what is "mental" may only be a finer "physicality" than we have the tools to discover. Therefore I am trying to say that the physical monist cannot account for the information that may only be encoded in what they consider to be a "mental fiction" when in fact it is just a finer medium of mental/physical stuff that has yet to be discovered.

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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Belindi » November 19th, 2018, 10:00 am

BigBango wrote about " necessity of information to be encoded in a "physical substrate". "

I think that physicalist(materialist) monism or immaterialist( idealist) monism are equal as regards information. You favour the materialist(physicalist) monism. However whether every bit of information is mind dependent or whether they are independent of minds the bits of information , and by "bits of information" I'm including the whole of physics, the information is exactly the same whichever ontological substrate is true.

As for neutral monism or dual aspect monism, that's like the mentalist and the physicalist perspectives both are true. Physics the academic discipline is true or not whichever perspective you view it from.
Maybe I have not understood you, BigBango.

BigBango
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by BigBango » November 20th, 2018, 9:40 pm

Belindi wrote:
November 19th, 2018, 10:00 am
BigBango wrote about " necessity of information to be encoded in a "physical substrate". "

I think that physicalist(materialist) monism or immaterialist( idealist) monism are equal as regards information. You favour the materialist(physicalist) monism. However whether every bit of information is mind dependent or whether they are independent of minds the bits of information , and by "bits of information" I'm including the whole of physics, the information is exactly the same whichever ontological substrate is true.
I hope I can clear this up for you because I know you have some deep insights that I realized when you first posted about childhood mental development. I am not really a physical monist. I am a dual aspect theorist, like Searle, Nagel or my favorite Leibniz. I like Whiteheads pan-psychism, however I don't like how he applies it to inanimate objects. In my opinion there is room for both Aristotle's s and Whitehead's metaphysics. Take the "pan" out of Whitehead and see his animate, conscious actual entities existing in the inanimate world of Aristotle.

So, if we accept that dichotomy and the fact that they both are true, then how may we ask does that complicate our account of information as encoded patterns that are equivalent to "energy" and its equivalence to entropy. My insight tells me that "experiential states" the gold of the mentalists has information encoded in its "mentalism" that is completely lost to the pure physical monist.

While I am still a dual aspect theorist, I would grant to the physicalists that what I claim to be mental has both mental and physical dimensions. The physical part is just a different fractal layer of reality that we have yet to scientifically confirm. What this means is that if information about experiential states is encoded in this lower fractal layer then an acknowledgement of its fact serves to save the physicalist from having to account for experiential states holding information that does not seem to be accounted for in the gross physicality of our body or nervous system.

What the dual aspect theorists needs to do, instead of just banging heads with the physicalits, is motivate him to establish the nature of this lower fractal layer of mental and physical essence so that he can have some accounting for the information surrounding our experiential states.

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