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How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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acep milah: on 11/16/17 at 8:39am UTC, wrote Thank you article, Also read this article [URL=]Obat...

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Branko Zivlak: on 4/7/17 at 16:06pm UTC, wrote Dear Mr. Palmer Thank you very much for your detailed and well-intentioned...

Donald Palmer: on 4/7/17 at 7:33am UTC, wrote Dear Branco, I am not a physicist (I was trained in mathematics), so some...

Dizhechko Semyonovich: on 4/7/17 at 5:15am UTC, wrote Dear Sirs! Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of...

Branko Zivlak: on 4/6/17 at 20:38pm UTC, wrote Dear Mr. Palmer Your conclusion is: But do we even have adequate...


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A devilish new framework of thermodynamics that focuses on how we observe information could help illuminate our understanding of probability and rewrite quantum theory.

Gravity's Residue
An unusual approach to unifying the laws of physics could solve Hawking's black-hole information paradox—and its predicted gravitational "memory effect" could be picked up by LIGO.

Could Mind Forge the Universe?
Objective reality, and the laws of physics themselves, emerge from our observations, according to a new framework that turns what we think of as fundamental on its head.

November 22, 2019

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: INTENTIONAL ESSAY by Donald G Palmer [refresh]
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Author Donald G Palmer wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 15:11 GMT
Essay Abstract

Assumptions about what is a theory and what is a mathematical model are considered related to the question “How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intentions?”. Theory cannot be reduced to a mathematical model and requires conceptualization. So aims and intensions arise from the concepts, not the mathematics. From this the question of whether we have the appropriate mathematical tools to model aims and intensions is considered.

Author Bio

Trained as a mathematician, Donald Palmer has followed the world of computers in his career. He received a BA in Mathematics from Earlham College, then a Masters in Mathematics from Villanova University. He ran his own computer services and software development company for 11 years, before entering the bio-pharmaceutical world, where he now works designing software. He has worked on numeric representational concepts and written a short book on modeling of scale in the physical world.

Download Essay PDF File

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 05:34 GMT
Dear Donald,

Good essay, which makes many important points.

I agree that “It would be a dangerous mistake to think the mathematical models are either the reality or, by themselves, can define reality.”, and that

“If we consider ‘random’ to mean ‘without rules or laws’, then it seems difficult to understand how directed change, with or without ‘aims’ and ‘intensions’, can occur. Some action that changes randomness into directed change (according to some rule or law) would be required, which would seem to violate the initial assumption of randomness everywhere. So the concept of ‘random’ as meaning ‘without rules or laws’ can be easily discarded. Science presumes there are rules and laws (that humans can understand) that govern the universe.”, and that

“Mathematical structures are needed for the ‘how’ of directed change as well as the ‘where’ and ‘when’, but not the ‘what’ and ‘who’ and certainly not the ‘why’ of change. The ‘what’, ‘who’ and potentially ‘why’ involve conceptualizations and theory – not mathematical laws.”, and that

“Does this inclusion of all possibilities mean we have an explanation or even a model of aims and intensions? The model purports to ‘explain’ our universe, but, as noted before, the mathematical model is not reality. If the model accurately mimics reality, then using probability we should be able to provide the specific results of one or the other situation (will the tossed coin come up ‘heads’ or ‘tails’?). However, this is precisely the results that the mathematical structure of probability cannot provide – the results of a specific situation.”

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Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 13:51 GMT
Thank you for reading, Lorraine

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 10:57 GMT

Great essay, beautifully written and compellingly argued. It helps that I agree on every point. Would you agree my logical 'Law of the Reducing Middle' (removing the problematic 'excluded middle') so Bayesian between 2 of anything including sheep!?

I greatly appreciated reading from a trained mathematician; "The mathematics of a physical theory is an attempt to model...

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Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 12:43 GMT
Thank you for the kind words, Peter,

I have read your essay and find it quite interesting. Only having mathematical aspects of a theory can lead to mis-understanding of what we are doing.

I agree we do need to re-consider certain assumptions underlying current physics. In particular is the assumption that we have the appropriate tools (mathematical as well as theoretic) in order to properly model reality.

I have argued, in a few places, that we need new (rather extended) mathematical tools in order to measure aspects of the universe we currently are unable to measure. In addition, we need to consider if we have a correct theoretic concept of the universe - do we really only experience three dimensions?

Let us all work toward a new understanding!

Take care,


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Ines Samengo wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 20:24 GMT
Dear Donald,

I found your essay interesting. I have also focused in the fact that aims and intentions are not in the bare math, they arise from us when looking into that math. You have stressed the more conceputal part of this idea, I dealt with the information flow that I believe to take place in the observer's mind. I would appreciate your thoughts about it.

By the way, just before reading your essay, I read Ian Durham's - whom I do not know, and have no connection with. I just thougth it was funny, because the two of you seem to show opposite points of views, and I happened to read them consecutively. If I understood him right (you should read it yourself) he seems to argue that directed change can indeed arise from a random world - whether the same happens with free will, intentions and so forth is less clear. I am curious to know what you think about his toy universes.

Thanks for the interesting read!


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Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 13:54 GMT
Thank you for your insights, Ines

I will read the other essays and get back to you


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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 19:25 GMT
Dear Don Palmer,

Thanks for your comments and for your essay.

You begin your essay by noting the physical concepts and how they interact is at the center of the theory, not the mathematical laws.

You also note that the mathematics of the physical theory is an attempt to model physical concepts using mathematical structure. This seems in complete agreement with my contention...

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Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 20:37 GMT

Thank you for reading my essay and your congruent thoughts regarding it.

Having read yours, I think we have a good bit in common - as you note your 'math maps projected onto physical territory' is the same as mine (using different words).

A number of physicists have commented on the need for new mathematics in order to progress physics. I will suggest that the direction of these new mathematical tools is the need to 'upgrade' our 500+ year old system of numeric representation (decimals and positional numeric cousins) in a way that expands numeric representation to complex numbers. There is a price for this change, which involves some re-routing of current paths - however the gains are many entirely new paths.

If we could put a numeric value to sqrt(-1) (or 'i'), then the 2-part character of complex values (x + iy, which is not a complex number, but the representation of a complex number) simplifies to a single value. We would not need to 'throw out' the 'imaginary' part in order to produce 'real' observable results (what does this part represent is where some new paths emerge). This could radically change how and even what we can calculate.

Note that Donald Knuth already did this more than 50 years ago, so this is not a fantasy.

Some ideas that could assist physics and mathematics expansion...


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Joe Fisher replied on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 16:20 GMT
Dear Donald G Palmer,

Please excuse me for I have no intention of disparaging in any way any part of your essay.

I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

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

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 perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Willy K wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 05:54 GMT
Hi Palmer

I am in total agreement with you regarding the mathematical structures being different from physical conceptualizations. While the former can lead us astray without the guidance of the latter (monkeys on a typewriter was a great analogy), the latter on its own will not help us either (it would be a world where mathematical predictions cannot be undertaken). I also agree that the what, who and why belongs with physical conceptualization, while the other three – when, where and how belongs to mathematical domain.

It is good that you devoted your essay to make this subtle, but essential point. I had struggled with this distinction subconsciously while composing my essay, and that struggle is perhaps evident in the way the title of my essay was framed.

However, I differ with you on current mathematics being unable to support a theory dealing with ‘aims and intention’. My essay might be offering a possible glimpse of how really simple such a theory could be. The main challenge is to deal with the physical conceptualization in a way that is sensible enough.

Warm Regards, Willy

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Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 21:58 GMT
Dear Willy K,

Thank you for reading my essay and for commenting on it.

You have a number of interesting ideas and provide some great quotes.

This appears to be me to be a model of how humans could be manifesting extrinsic intelligence, but it seems build upon a single governmental structure. How would this model the government of a singular leader (eg. a King or Emperor)?

While I grasp that you are putting forth a model, I find it difficult to understand how this model is mathematical, beyond being a set of nested squares. Typically, a mathematical model involves measurements and/or quantifiable characteristics that are related in some operational (eg. arithmetic) manner. I do not see any of these defined in your essay and so do not understand how this is a mathematical model.

I wish you well in developing your model.


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Willy K replied on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 05:47 GMT
Dear Palmer

First of all, thanks for allowing the possibility that humans could be manifesting extrinsic intelligence. That is the real major point of my essay and I am glad you are positive there. Everything else can be improved given time.

Regarding dictatorial governments, my essay would simply note that such a structure does not qualify as an intelligent system. But that does not mean that the dictatorial system is not successful in carrying out some basic regulatory functions. As far as comparisons go, we could compare it to the difference between chimpanzee brain and human brain. I have actually already expanded my work to include this comparison (not yet published). You showed great insight in anticipating that expansion.

On the work not being a mathematical model, I actually agree! I have only claimed that it is a 'mathematical structure'; because it is clearly more than just a conceptual structure (conceptual structure would just imply human language). I did claim 'goal-free mathematics' and 'mathematical laws' because I thought they are inherent in all mathematical structures. I am not sure but you may disagree here. Regarding the modeling itself, it has got lot more ground to traverse before it can claim to be a formal mathematical model with all the definitions that are well laid out.

Thanks so much for taking the trouble to review my essay. I rate your own essay highly since it brought up those difficulties I was struggling with in such a poignant manner.

Warm Regards, Willy

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 15:05 GMT
Nice essay Palmer,

Your ideas and thinking are excellent

Theory cannot be reduced to a mathematical model and requires conceptualization. So aims and intensions arise from the concepts, not the mathematics.

A more direct concern for understanding where ‘aims’ and ‘intensions’ come from is the assumption that the universe is basically random (defined loosely). If we...

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Don Limuti wrote on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 11:13 GMT
Hi Donald,

Your essay is clear and takes the mysticism out of mathematics. Very nicely done. Do look at my essay and let me know what you think.

Thanks for one of the best essays,

Don Limuti

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 12:52 GMT
Dear Donald

Well, I could not agree more with you! Of course that mathematics is a tool, a powerful tool but just a tool. In spite of being an essential tool.

Mathematics allows an easy way to have control over phenomena. You take any set of data and it always possible to make a mathematical model that fits the data. It is like determining the polynomial that fits a set of points in...

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Apr. 1, 2017 @ 07:16 GMT
Hi Donald

I welcome your essay as I see there your clear position on the significance of the contest question. I see you are one of small quantity of people who have inclined to critical approach to significance this or that questions in whole. That is why I invite you to open my work. I am hopeful we can find many common points that will allows us to talk on this matter. Please let me know in my page (as I see you are not so active now)

My best wishes

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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 20:38 GMT
Dear Mr. Palmer

Your conclusion is:

But do we even have adequate mathematical tools to model and aims

intensions? This author believes we do not.

But then my essay is worth nothing. So, please, as a mathematician to find a mistake in a very simple mathematics of my essay. In my essay, there is a aims and intention of the universe to produce a proton.



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Author Donald G Palmer replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 07:33 GMT
Dear Branco,

I am not a physicist (I was trained in mathematics), so some of your essay I can only attempt to get my head around. Based upon some other comments, you seem to be onto something.

Like a couple other commentors, I am unsure how your essay relates to the main question. How do these equations imply intention for, say, humans?

Putting that issue aside, I do not see...

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Branko L Zivlak replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 16:06 GMT
Dear Mr. Palmer

Thank you very much for your detailed and well-intentioned comment.

You are right when you say: I am unsure how your essay relates to the main question. How do these equations imply intention for, say, humans?

Maybe it's about topic, that universe has aims and intention to produce a proton, that is first step to everything else. Also theme requires math, which is in the essay.

About error terms, you are right. In my previous articles I carefully counted uncertainty, but I noticed that in the competition it is not the custom. That is why, this time I reject. For example, uncertainties you can see here: Universal Gravitational Constant Via Rydberg Constant viXra:1311.0081

Ili druge članke ovde:

About underlying principle: I can repeat everything discussed in my previous articles, referenced Much, Bošković, Newton and other giants of philosophy of nature. There are plenty of professional physicists who can explain how it is that their theories provide extraordinary paradox, but mine not. I confirm my theory by numerous of applications. The number of applications confirms the Newtonian law of gravity too, which many feel is an approximation. I'm sure, most eloquent essay written by an unknown author would not have forced physicists to read it. So, I prefer to use my time finding new applications of “The Theory of Unity between the Whole and its Parts”.

And, I admit that intentional human action is not the subject of my interest.

Once again, thank you for your efforts, regarding my essay.



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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 05:15 GMT
Dear Sirs!

Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of Newton returned as the New Cartesian Physic and promises to be a theory of everything. To tell you this good news I use «spam».

New Cartesian Physic based on the identity of space and matter. It showed that the formula of mass-energy equivalence comes from the pressure of the Universe, the flow of force which on the corpuscle is equal to the product of Planck's constant to the speed of light.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential for understanding the world. To show it, I ventured to give "materialistic explanations of the paranormal and supernatural" is the title of my essay.

Visit my essay, you will find there the New Cartesian Physic and make a short entry: "I believe that space is a matter" I will answer you in return. Can put me 1.


Dizhechko Boris

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