Foundations of Logic on “Truth”

[ 27/Jan/21 – Foundations of Logic – long thread on Truth]

The Anil Seth video above is a good simple introduction to a very complex subject.

It now seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that what we experience is not “reality itself”, but a subconsciously created model of reality (which includes within it a model of us).

We seem to be able to do successive levels of abstraction on that, and via various sets of disciplines be able to experience ourselves experiencing, then experience the experience of observing the experience of the observation of experience, ….

We can also take it back the other way, and through various forms of discipline reduce experience to various basic levels. One such is the discipline of breath holding, for deep diving. When practicing for extended periods (hours at a time, days on end, for years) and taking breath holding past the 7 minute mark, then one gets to experience minimal levels of consciousness; and if one is a student of neuroscience (as I was in the early 70s) then one can perform levels of self experimentation in these states (and various others).

As someone who has continued throughout the last 50 years to both experiment with my own personal limits in a wide range of disciplines, and to keep a watching brief on the areas of biochemistry, neuroscience, computation and artificial intelligence; as well as exploring the realms of logics and modelling more generally; it is clear to me beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that the simplest possible logic system (the binary true/false) is but the simplest of an infinite set of possible systems.

Such simplicity has a certain level of utility at many levels of evolution and operation, but that does not mean that it is an accurate model of the reality within which we exist – however much utility it has in some sets of contexts.

It seems clear to me from my experience of being, and the evidence sets and interpretive schema I have investigated, that reality is vastly more complex and fundamentally uncertain than a simple binary model of truth can comprehend.

Yes, certainly, our existence as thinking beings is the realm of consciousness, and just as the naive reality of experience is that the sun goes around the earth has been shown to be the result of us standing on a spinning ball of stuff that is orbiting our local star, in an outer arm of our local spiral galaxy; so too have the tools of a modern understanding of cosmology, evolutionary biology and neuroscience demonstrated beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt (for anyone willing to put in the time to be as unbiased as possible in the examination of the evidence sets available) that consciousness is the result of the multiple levels of complex computational systems within our brains and bodies and cultures; and at the simplest level possible involve the use of symbols to create a model of a model – inside a machine that typically clocks states at about 14 Hz but can operate up to around 200Hz in various states of consciousness, and can in extremis be taken somewhat slower).

Thus one can certainly use statements of symbols to model simple systems with binary truth values; and that does not actually tell us much about the nature of us, nor the wider context of our existence.

And understanding the utility and power of the simplest of logical systems in building models is a good and necessary first step on a path to understanding that there is an infinite set of sets of possible systems of truth values – of which True/False is but the first and simplest; but not necessarily the most powerful (certainly not when attempting to understand the nature of us).

[followed by “Buut if “we” are capable of expeirnce realization that “we” are not experiencing “real reality”. Then the realization “we” are experiencing cannot be real in any way.
It’s a strange flavour of the liars paradox.”]

Jeoffrey Wortman
That is a very simplistic approach to a very complex system – and doing so is necessarily nonsense.

The reality seems to be that the model that we experience as our “experiential reality” is in most contexts close enough to be survivable.

Anyone who has been to a professional magic show will be aware that there are many ways of exploiting the simplifications that our brains use to make reality seem to be other than what it is.

It is actually a very complex subject.

Any approximation to reality that is better than random can be selected for in an evolutionary context. Any that is better than some other variant will have a selective advantage.

The thing about evolution is that it tends to punish slowness much more harshly than inaccuracy or false positives. Excessive use of energy also tends to be punished by natural selection.

The idea of “useful approximation” is a very complex one, and often very context dependent (at multiple levels).

It seems highly unlikely to me that anyone has an accurate model of reality, and some models will be more useful in some contexts than others. The one I have took me decades to develop, and many thousands of hours of contemplation and application of many different interpretive schema to different datasets. (And I am an autistic spectrum geek with a 160+ IQ – so by definition far from “normal”.)

[followed by]


My initial response was not simplistic.

You presented a simplistic strawman of my argument, then proceeded to burn it – then failed to address any of the points I raised subsequently.

Being able to actually consider another’s position is not an attribute you seem to be exhibiting.

Saying “The issue about evolution is that it is just a narrative within the anglosaxon mind” is utter nonsense.

Evolution is a reality. It is the only explanation currently available as to how complexity may emerge from simplicity. It has vast sets of evidence present. It is an amazing suite of processes. The logic of the systems can start relatively simply and then proceed to explore successive levels of additional strategic complexity. The evidence is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

Evolution shows how successive levels of complexity can emerge in contexts where cooperation can deliver greater benefit than competition.

I am beginning to suspect that you have little interest in genuine enquiry.


In respect of evolution – have you any awareness of any other explanation for how complexity can emerge from simplicity?

I don’t.

If you do, then please share it.

As simple as that in a very real sense!

All prior explanations had complexity coming from greater complexity (some version of a complex creative god).

I made no claim about evolution necessarily leading to complexity, in fact I was quite explicit about the sorts of contexts in which complexity could emerge.

For me it is clear, that what we have is the possibility of successively more accurate approximations to whatever reality actually is. Some of the approximations are very accurate and very useful in some contexts.

The idea that the earth is flat is perfectly adequate if all you want to do is build a house. If your ruler is only accurate to mm accuracy, and your building is less than 100m in any dimension, then within the limits of the accuracy of measurement in that context – the earth is indeed flat. It is a useful approximation in that context.

In the context of trying to get to the moon, it does not work – one needs a heliocentric view of the solar system and Newtonian mechanics.
To get a functioning GPS system you need to use relativistic spacetime and quantum mechanics.

Is any one of them perfectly true?

I doubt it.

And each is useful in context and to some required degree of accuracy.

It is in this sense, that I say that we now have vast sets of evidence that what we experience as reality is actually a simplification of what is actually there, and it is a simplification that is generally close enough to allow us to survive.

For me to attempt to explicitly detail all of the complexity present in the models that I use would take more than a century, and would be inaccurate before it was finished (as it would have evolved in the process).

You have avoided addressing any of the evidence sets I have provided. You have instead argued points completely unrelated to what I wrote.

If someone has little time or tools or interest to investigate science, then the idea of a god provides a useful explanation for the obvious complexity present. But science has proceeded by performing experiments to distinguish between the utility of competing explanatory systems. Modern physics is hard – demands complex math. Modern biology is hard, demands lots of difficult concepts. And when someone puts in the time, does the hard work, develops the abstractions, then it is beautiful. But it is not simple. I know of no method of getting to those levels of abstraction that does not involve a lot of time and effort.

And I have investigate other explanatory frameworks. I have read the bible and several other religious texts. I have read quite a bit of philosophy. I have joined various groups, tried out various practices. In a sense I can see a certain level of utility in each of them, and for me it is the tools and evidence sets of science that provide the greatest power – and they are not at all simple, and my understanding is mine, and not one generally shared.

[29 Jan 21 ]

If by “unmovable engine” you refer to the Aristotelian notion of the “primum movens” then it is not actually simple – it is by definition the most complex thing possible. I can see how in face of the evidence of experience, but without the tools of cosmology or evolutionary biology, or Bayesian tools or games theory, that such a notion had a certain sort of sense to it, it most certainly does not survive in the presence of the evidence sets we have available today (if one is willing to take the time to seriously look, and to actually try different explanatory frameworks).

You seem to be the second person today to, in discussion with me, refute evidence because it conflicts dogma.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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