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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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March 17, 2018

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: On Describing Intention with Mathematics: A Descriptive Requirement by Jack Hamilton James [refresh]
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Author Jack Hamilton James wrote on Jan. 23, 2017 @ 21:28 GMT
Essay Abstract

This article presents a three-part analysis on revealing possible descriptive requirements for a math of intention. Part one, titled Philosophical Reduction, presents reductive reasoning for arriving at three possible problems that ultimately one of which a mathematics of intentionality must satisfy. Part two, titled Scientific Modelling, considers the potential resolution of these problems in light of current scientific theory, allowing the selection of a most probable problem from part one. Part three, titled Computational, Mathematical and Physical Description, considers what descriptions, and the nature of their relations, are required to satisfy the most probable problem. It is proposed in Part 3 that a threefold equivalence of description at a specific level is a necessary requirement to illustrate the formation of intention. In exposing the requirement there emerge two significant consequences for the nature of our current descriptions: a) David Chalmers ‘Hard Problem of Consciousness’ specifically results from the absence of the requirement, and similarly b) Kurt Godel’s incompleteness proofs exist as true only in an operational conception of mathematics that exists post non-inclusion of the requirement. Finally, there is reason to suggest that even if the requirement is revealed and a math of intention realised, a math of consciousness likely cannot follow from it premise – a claim very much counter-intuitive.

Author Bio

Jack is in his final months of writing his PhD in philosophy at The University of New England in Australia. His research interests include moral philosophy and psychology, environmental ethics, the philosophy of science (sociobiology), metaphysics, and decision theory.

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Author Jack Hamilton James wrote on Jan. 23, 2017 @ 23:31 GMT
This version is invalid and is being replaced shortly.

A temporary correct version is found here. click

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Author Jack Hamilton James replied on Jan. 24, 2017 @ 00:46 GMT
Correct version loaded. Thanks

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Joe Fisher replied on Jan. 24, 2017 @ 17:04 GMT
Dear Prospective Dr. James,

Please excuse me for I do not wish to be too critical of your fine essay.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

One real visible Universe must have only one reality. Simple natural reality has nothing to do with any abstract complex musings such as your “reductive philosophy” comment describes.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY. I do hope that you will read my essay and comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Author Jack Hamilton James replied on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 04:11 GMT
Thankyou Joe,

I, like I presume all other entries, agree there is only one reality.

In reply to your point about my complex musings, well they are descriptive insights, and such description must be a part of that one reality. The challenge is not to realise one reality but present a description that reflects as much in the limited ways it can. So such complex musings are a necessary path to that end, esp. given there is so much to deal with that we know in only some ways, and so much we dont know.

Kind regards,


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Lee Bloomquist wrote on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 01:54 GMT
"math of intention" =

"self = (thinking, self)"

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Stephen I. Ternyik wrote on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 08:13 GMT
While mathematics is a historical product or civilizational tool of human consciousness, intentions are more a part of human subconsciousness or deep psychology. Several experiments have shown that the human heart anticipates faster than the brain; a maths of intention would consequently aim to formulate these physiological processes of human psychology. Otherwise, it would be a pure academic artifact. These are the thoughts that came into my mind, after reading your interesting essay, Mr. James.

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Author Jack Hamilton James replied on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 08:38 GMT
Thankyou Stephen Ternyik (and Lee Bloomquist) for your alternative perspective of what was meant by intention.

When I assessed Brendan Fosters outline I found it to be very broad. I find consciousness, or intention in deep psychology as you suggest, to be insurmountable without advanced technology that is able to reveal the workings of the brain more effectively than fRMI. So the reduction of complex human intention, to the theoretically simpler intention found in basic life itself, as opposed to non-life, seemed quite appropriate, and indeed interesting. For it seems to me that describing this property should be a simpler task than describing an intention like ours. But we still haven’t achieved even this - and perhaps worse I argued that even if this is possible it seems unlikely we will be able to utilise it to the end of explaining consciousness and human intention.



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Joe Fisher replied on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 16:48 GMT
Dear Jack,

Dr. Brendan Foster’s supplemental notes for the theme of this essay contest were quite explicit. Meandering mathematical musings have failed to produce a satisfactory explanation of the real observable Universe. All Dr. Foster suggested we do am either to confirm a mathematical explanatory proof, or furnish a more reliable one.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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David Brown wrote on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 14:09 GMT
"... Ecorithms are nature's (evolution's) algorithms . This is the idea of computational theorist Leslie Valiant (4), but none have been discovered yet. ...

(4) Valiant L, "Probably Approximately Correct: Nature's Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World" ..." (typo in original at time of this communication)

According to Leslie Valiant, "... the goal of learning is to perform well in a world that isn’t precisely modeled ahead of time. A learning algorithm takes observations of the world, and given that information, it decides what to do and is evaluated on its decision. A point made in my book is that all the knowledge an individual has must have been acquired either through learning or through the evolutionary process. And if this is so, then individual learning and evolutionary processes should have a unified theory to explain them."
ters-and-life/ "Searching for the Algorithms Underlying Life" by John Pavlus (interviewing Leslie Valiant), 28 January 2016

It seems to me that there are serious problems with the scientific definitions of "goal", "learning", and what it means to "perform well". Does an oak tree learn? Is there learning in the system consisting of acorns and oak trees within a Northern hardwood forest? Does Valiant's concept of "ecorithm" involve deep problems in the foundations of quantum theory? How relevant is what Francis Crick called "molecular psychology" to the theory of machine learning?

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Stephen I. Ternyik replied on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 15:28 GMT
An algorithm is about existing knowledge, the heuristic method applies to learning. Ecorithms may apply to the animal and human mind, plants are not capable of moving. The molecular Aufbau (construction) of living matter does not apply to technical automata, automated information cannot 'die'. Consequently, algorithms of life and death are surely existent and can be formulated in a unified mathematical theory.

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Author Jack Hamilton James replied on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 21:25 GMT
Thanks for the thread commentary. Stephen's comment here is what fascinates about ecorithms, because if life arises from the physical as Tegmark argues (and life has this property of intention in its mere movement) then there must be some kind of mathematical theory of 'transference', where such life algorithms are generated by non-physical interactions.

"The molecular Aufbau (construction) of living matter does not apply to technical automata, automated information cannot 'die'. Consequently, algorithms of life and death are surely existent and can be formulated in a unified mathematical theory."

My initial philosophical thoughts on ecorithms as the 'gap filler' deterministically explaining the success of evolution at the organism level can be found your link text[/here.]



Joseph J. Jean-Claude replied on Jan. 26, 2017 @ 01:55 GMT
Dear author,

Clearly the length limits imposed by the contest have constrained you to develop your proposal almost as an algorithm, which makes it quite difficult to read.

Nevertheless I gather that you are discussing the requisites for an eventual formal mathematical description of how life evolved from matter.

You conclude the following at the end: "We are descriptively stranded, and so whilst we may reveal a math of intention I doubt that it will provide a math of consciousness." I have to say that I disagree with your conclusion, because I unequivocally show in my essay the mathematical elements belying both consciousness and intentionality. There is one other essay here among the ones I have seen that does offer as well some mathematical elements to "meaningful information" as a prelude to intentionality and consciousness.

There is always a danger in setting limits a-priori or from a metaphysical viewpoint to what is feasible, although the effort to frame the solution elements to a problem cannot be overstated.

I suspect that your essay would have been more interesting and perhaps more eloquent if presented in a more natural language and structure, with less use of shortcuts.

Good luck.



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Stephen I. Ternyik wrote on Jan. 26, 2017 @ 11:07 GMT
Ecorithms within evolution (?) makes sense, a very good article. The Tegmark-Valiant argument of computational evolution is a decisive one; however, a clear disntinction between maths (tool) and computation (evolution) must be elaborated. Human technological (tech-know-logical) is most probably an extension of natural evolution; with the help of mathematical tools, the human mind could rise over the animal mind while advanced computation makes the algorithms of life and death more accessible, in terms of scientific models. The heuristic part of this research quest is for me the most exciting, i.e. how does a living and learning organism like a human being detect algorithms ?

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Stephen I. Ternyik wrote on Jan. 26, 2017 @ 11:08 GMT
Human technological= evolution =(missing word)

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Harry Hamlin Ricker III wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 15:04 GMT
Hi, The good part is that this essay appears to address the question posed for the essay contest. However, this essay is too esoteric and doesnt seem to have any purpose, objective, or focus.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 17:22 GMT

A heuristic approach which is keenly relevant and smartly done but which actually defines the inscrutability of the topic. Contrarily, I wonder if my essay has any great precision in touching on aims and intention.

Jim Hoover

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 03:40 GMT
Thanks for the Good analytical essay James,

You discussed nicely many present day problems in this science.

Your words in section 4a….. ‘Is it a unique part or property that differs life from non-life? (If so we have a discovery problem)’…..

1. Brain is analogous to Computer hardware

And Mind is analogous to Computer software say operating system....

The life to non-life is the failure of software...

Eg., We see in the "Brain dead" people, all hard ware is working, but software not working.... So if we can find out way to upload software again, such people may live...

We did some work on this line…

2. Another observation …. How can we measure consciousness?

What do you say?

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 03:48 GMT
I request you also have look at my essay on Dynamic Universe model and give your esteemed opinion….

Best wishes


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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 06:21 GMT
Dear James,

I saw your post on my essay, you are very intelligent, very nice,

Thank you very much for your nice remarks, I request you to please have look at my blog also

I like to work with you for a combined paper on your subject...

best Wishes to you...


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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 10:12 GMT
Hi james

I want you to have visit to my essay to...

where ……………reproduction of Galaxies in the Universe is described. Dynamic Universe Model is another mathematical model for Universe. Its mathematics show that the movement of masses will be having a purpose or goal, Different Galaxies will be born and die (quench) etc…just have a look at the essay… “Distances,...

view entire post

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 14, 2017 @ 21:16 GMT
Jack Hamilton James,

I think you've written an excellent essay on the assigned topic. You consider how 'mindless math' could lead to aims and intentions (associated with life versus non-life) and analyze possibilities, including a.) discovery, b.) recipe, c.) recipe for emergence. You then discuss the interesting perspective that the emergence (internal recipe) is equivalent to a math description (external recipe) and physics/measurement type description (encumbered recipe) only at the time of emergence. Not sure I see the absolute necessity of this but it feels right.

The key question is: is consciousness inherently universe, or an artifact? You know from my essay that I believe it is inherent. 'Thinking' or 'intelligence' is an artifact, derived from structural 'logic'. This deals with past, present, and future, while conscious awareness is always of 'Now'.

Chalmers, once viewed as the Dean of consciousness, admits that he hasn't a clue, "but it must be physical". He notes that

"Panpsychism is not as unreasonable as is often supposed, and there is no knockdown argument against it."

But "For theory of consciousness, new fundamental features and laws are needed."

Finally, Santayana:

"All of our sorrow is real, but the atoms of which we are made are indifferent."

I wrote a book 10 years ago that I think you might enjoy. Gene Man's World ISBN-13:978-9791765-5-5.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Jack Hamilton James replied on Feb. 15, 2017 @ 07:14 GMT
Thanks for your kind comments Edwin.

I certainly assumed math as the root of ontology as I wanted to start from Tegmarks premise (MUH).

Ive reflected further here:

ill read your book in a few months once im clear of my PhD, and another book ive already promised to read.



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Author Jack Hamilton James wrote on Feb. 15, 2017 @ 07:15 GMT
I've written a follow-up article to my entry if anyone is interested.



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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 14:14 GMT

Beautifully written essay, right on topic, logically set out and argued, so rather head and shoulders above very many.

In scoring 'agreement' isn't a criteria but I do agree most argument and propositions.

I was particularly interested in your analysis of; "Can we explain behavioural movement of life in quantum terms?(3) (And so intention appearing)."

However through my own last 2 essays (the last scored top!) I've developed a classical analogue of QM, and now show a mechanism able to reproduce the orthogonal complmentarity of Cos[su]2 curves, so apparently allowing access into the physical world at that scale. Of course it may take 10 years and many suicides before any such heresy enters doctrine! but the mechanism is simple an reproducable so seems rather self apparent. Perhaps if you know enough of QM's foundations (but haven't bought it's weirdness) you may comment.

Do you think we'll be entirely 'descriptively stranded' forever?

But back to yours. Excellent job and a deserved score boost coming (and best of luck with your PhD).

Best wishes


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Author Jack Hamilton James replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 08:17 GMT
Thanks Peter, Have responded in your essay. Best, Jack

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 08:25 GMT
Dear Jack Hamilton James!

I appreciate your essay. You spent a lot of effort to write it.

If you believed in the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes, then your essay would be even better. I invite you to familiarize yourself with New Cartesian Physic

I wish to see your criticism on the New Cartesian Physic, the founder of which I call myself.

The concept of moving space-matter helped me:

- The uncertainty principle Heisenberg to make the principle of definiteness of points of space-matter;

- Open the law of the constancy of the flow of forces through a closed surface is the sphere of space-matter;

- Open the law of universal attraction of Lorentz;

- Give the formula for the pressure of the Universe;

- To give a definition of gravitational mass as the flow vector of the centrifugal acceleration across the surface of the corpuscles, etc.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential in understanding the world. To show this potential in essay I risked give «The way of The materialist explanation of the paranormal and the supernatural” - Is the name of my essay.

. Visit my essay and you will find something in it about New Cartesian Physic. Note my statement that our brain creates an image of the outside world no inside, and in external space. Hope you rate my essay as high as I am yours. I am waiting your post.


Dizhechko Boris

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