Is software physical?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by baftan, May 28, 2010.

  1. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    My impression was that baftan was raising the issue of freedom/creativity in thoughts, something which seemed less clearly present in DNA, molecules, even neural structures.

    Further humans have come up with formulas in pure math that often after these humans died turned out to represent actual relationships 'out there'. Baftan, I think, raised the issue of formulas not because he was confused about how they related to external reality, but rather raising the issue of how brains/neurons can come up with things that are new, never before thought of, and, in many cases true. I am adding in the issue of formulas that turn out not simply to be elegant and of interest only to mathematicians - some of whom even would have preferred the formulas had no use - some pure math guys and gals actually like math for math's sake - but then these very formulas turn out to be useful in describing natural phenomena. How do brains come up with such things?
     
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  3. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    I have a suspicion that there may be little agreement about what is software and what is hardware in 'brains'. My first impression was baftan considered thoughts the software, or perhaps even mental states - iow qualia, mind as experienced by 1st person. But I think others may see software as part of the hardwiring of the physical brain itself as can be noted by third parties.

    Last, I cannot see how you can program something to experience - unless you believe in some form of panpsychism so this step is not necessary in the programming.

    The program would have to include some injunction to 'experience' and I cannot see how this does not take on an almost religious aura.

    IOW as a lay philosopher I am questioning the software/hardware analogy. I do not think it has been empirically shown that the brain functions (especially in total) as a computer and that some kind of programming can possibly explain all the brain/mind related phenomena.
     
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  5. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    I wouldn't know the degree of agreement, but I only discovered yesterday that Daniel Dennett gave a lecture on exactly the same issue we are discussing in here.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/WarOnYourMind


    I watched the first day lecture, and strongly recommend to anyone who finds this issue interesting (I wish I watched it before I started this thread). It's more than an hour long, but Dennett use a simple language and presentation is well organised with slide shows and animal/computer comparisons.

    Now I am going to watch the second day of the lecture which is on consciousness. If it inspires me, I might start another thread.


    Dennett deals with this "qualia" issue in some other lecture, and according to him, what we call "qualia" is simply an illusion, a magic trick. I have a suspicion on this issue, not because of the mind's natural ability to create "illusions" (I have no doubt about it); but my suspicion is rather on the formulation of the term itself (qualia). Because Dennett dismisses the "hard problem of consciousness"
    (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness). That is to say, he doesn't accept one of the main questions of "hard problem" (-Why do qualia exist?-) on ontological basis :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOxqM21qBzw

    Note that this is also an hour long lecture and is not specifically about this thread (software).
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
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  7. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant in the thread. It seemed like in the other thread, at least, you were drawing a distinction between hardware - the brain - and thoughts as software - iow something philosophy could look at. Chrunchy cat seemed to be thinking of the physical structure of the brain as both hardware and software. So I thought you might be writing a little at crosspurposes.

    Yes, Dennett tend to take a computational/functionalist position on brains/minds.


    Which to me makes no sense at all. What is an illusion without an experiencer. Something is experiencing phenomena and being fooled by them. The behaviorists spent much of the middle of the last century dominating phsychology and they too, odd, denied private experience. I can only think of this as a reverse hallucination. Did they really not experience pain, or did they simply react like automata without awareness when they were burned?


    Generally when people talk about consciousness they seem to assume
    1) discontinuity - iow words most of the universe is not conscious, but at a certain point - iow is an emergent property.

    There is no evidence this is the case.

    2) complexity is the key quality. And that there are degrees of consciousness. Often that we have the most, chimps and dolphins quite a bit but less and so on down.

    There is no evidence of this either.

    From these assumptions many functionalists hypothesize that once computer programs are sufficiently complex and can mimic the various - externally noted - functions of brains/minds - the computer/AI will be intelligent and conscious. This computational model is, in parallel, saying that brains run on a kind of programming ONLY.

    This whole position seemed faith based to me. We have no evidence that different consciousnesses are weaker, lesser or simpler - though we can see that various brains/minds can do less things or more thing, we cannot state how much or little consciousness there is. WE cannot show that consciousness is not inherent in matter in general rather than arising at some, at this point unnamed, level of complexity. We cannot demonstrate that all the functions of brains/minds can be replicated by computers. We are nowhere near demonstrating that consciousness will arise in machines - rather, as one other possibility it is dependent on the type of material - carbon based complexity or whatever. We have no idea what programming would create an illusion for some experiencer in a computer. Why is there anything in there to notice the illusion?

    So to me the whole thing is an extreme example of cart before the horse. Of assuming that one knows the results of future research now - I mean why bother even doing it?

    To say qualia are illusions is rather humorously self-contradictory. It is like telling someone they are blind because they saw a mirage instead of a real oasis.
     
  8. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    This illusion does not imply a type of dream or mirage. It focuses rather on "tricks". Perceptions -and naturally the judgements derived from those perceptions- are based on sensory misinterpretation. It's like watching an illusionist/magician and not being able to figure out how the trick is done. Magician is real, the tools that magicians are using (cards, saw, box, etc. depending upon the tricks) are real, audience and their brain cells are real and no one is blind or sleeping. Yet somehow, audience does/can not perceive what is really going on. Trick is the presentation itself. There is no way to confuse this type of illusion with dreaming about unrealistic creatures or -as you put it- "faith based".

    Calling these people as functionalists, behaviouralists or dualists will not make their experiments and the knowledge we obtained from these studies somewhat less important. Dennett is not refusing the existence of consciousness at all; he offers mainly two things:

    1. Consciousness does not have any specific neural compartment (physical equivalent). That is to say, neurologists will never be able to find any special department on brain which contains a place for what we call "qualia"; because they will always and only find little biologic robots. In this sense, consciousness is the name of a mental "regime" (this word is mine, not Dennett's), it's real, but it's software. Therefore its ontology should be scrutinized and formulated philosophically.

    2. Human consciousness difference is related to how human brain is hard-wired; that's true. In his example animal (you also brought it up), chimpanzees have almost same amount of neurons on their brain and great deal of basic functions (seeing, hearing, and some other mammal-specific features) are exactly the same with human brains. Yet, no matter how hard you try, you can not teach human language to chimpanzee, let alone capture their attention. This is all about the way those brain cells are organised in a specific way in humans. However -this point is crucial, I mean very crucial-, human consciousness regime (how we define self/other, how we define right/wrong, how we define moral/immoral etc.) has its own cultural evolution history and we can not find answers on this issue with figuring out how human brain hard wiring differs from chimpanzee (or dolphin) brains. This is simply irrelevant with capital "I". So, ironically, "hard problem of consciousness" is not "hard wired" after all; it's just we approach the issue from a wrong direction. For me, we are methodologically wrong if we are searching consciousness on neurons.

    If you dismiss Dennett on ideological basis (because I couldn't capture any specific reason other than this) I offer you one of the most philosophy friendly neuroscientist in the market: Dr. V. S. Ramachandran. Here he delves directly into the topic; Consciousness, Qualia, and Self. 8 minutes video, strongly recommended:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTWmTJALe1w
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  9. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    I am certainly not contesting the fact that we can draw faulty conclusions from perceptions. But if the above is correct it does not in any way address the hard problem of consciousness: that anything is experienced. It doesn't matter if what is experienced is misleading or leads to faulty conclusions. The mere fact that there is experience at all is the hard problem. Calling qualia an illusion does not address this issue.

    I am not sure how much actual 'studies' Dennett does. He is a philosopher. And note: here he is doing philosophy about the hardware of the brain....

    Here we have a philosopher drawing conclusions about what we will not find in the brain. IOW he is doing precisely what you thought philosophers should not be doing.

    I am not sure where the issue of special department of the brain for qualia is a response to. I never asserted there was such a place. In fact I agree with this idea. It has some empirical support. But it doesn't mean that computational theories are correct or that neuroscientists will not find a physical basis for qualia/experience. I would also say that they are likely to be very interesting in figuring out how this happens. It is a real phenomena and thus, according to physicalist accounts of reality - most scientists are physicalists - there need to be an explanation for how certain physical phenomena lead to experience.
    Above you say that qualia should be studying philosophically. Here you are saying that consciousness is hardwired in the human brain. If consciousness is hardwired in the human brain, then whatever allows for qualia is also hardwired in the brain


    I don't dismiss him on ideological grounds, I disagree with him. He is an interesting and challenging thinker. I've read quite a bit of his work. I just think he makes assumptions, where a more cautious philosopher or scientist would remain agnostic. He assumes some of the things I mentioned earlier despite there being no empirical evidence supporting them. He assumes we will be able to mimic the functions of the brain and that whatever we make like this will necessarily have consciousness in the sense we have. This is faith based.

    I have also read some of his work. I could link you to stuff from Searle, Penrose, Velmans....

    But it might be better to refer you to objections to computational models....

    like connectionism.... (as one example amongst a number)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectionism

    But simply referring me to experts comes off like an appeal to authority, one of them you use, ironically, is a philosopher.

    At this point there are a number of hypotheses about the brain out there - on the level of connectionism/computationationism - and none of them has enough empirical back up to be called a theory.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  10. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    Doreen, either we are definitely not talking about the same issue or we are not communicating with the same language. I have started to develop a "hard" belief that your intentions are self-satisfaction driven rather than topic driven. How am I slowly coming to this point? Let's see:

    What are we going to call qualia then? Hard cells? How do you define the illusion and why didn't you address the difference between two illusion types that I submitted? Is it because you don't see any categorical difference between them, or is it not satisfying your point of view? Which one?

    Wrong, wrong, and a double misleading statement: First, as you perfectly noted, he is a philosopher and if you are not sure how much actual studies Dennett does necessarily on philosophy, you can always satisfy your quest with checking out lots of sources on net. It's not my problem: Because I didn't bring up his career on this discussion; I simply offered a couple of lecture videos related to this topic, that's all.

    Secondly, how did you come up with an idea that he does philosophy about hardware? Which part of his lecture or comment was about how neurons do their synaptic connections? You can not point out this information as he has never done such a thing. He rightfully tries to differentiate a philosophical problem from a non-philosophical discipline. That's all he does. If you are so keen about your claim that "he does philosophy on hard-wire" you must come up with evidence.

    And think about this: It was you, since the beginning, who were claiming "philosophers has things to say on hard-wire of the brain". It was you who submitted some confused undergraduate articles and good-wishers dealing with "how can we combine neurology and philosophy?". If Dennett was seriously doing what you are accusing him, again, it was going to be you showing him as an evidence. So, you are either intentionally or in a "not-actually-knowing-what-she-talks-about" fashion blaming him to make a point. Ok, what is the point? Is he doing philosophy on neurons or not? Very simple question for you.

    Do you really understand what you are claiming/not claiming in above description? Must be very lucky if you do, because it sounds like one confused statement to me. People can get confused, that's understandable, yet we need to at least be able to guess which part they are confused. "Empirical support" please, if it's not going to make big problem...

    A modern version of trying to relate the idea of soul in an extremely blurred and a confused fashion. "Most scientists are physicalists" does not mean that "there need to be an explanation for how certain physical phenomena lead to experience". "Most scientists are physicalists" is an unheard statement and is produced by yourself only to support your mysticism.

    I realised that my sentence was going to create this misunderstanding and already corrected it before you warned. Still I take the blame. Anyway, read the new version.

    If this disagreement is not on ideological basis, could you tell me what is the basis of your disagreement?

    If you read them as you read what or how you read things in here, try harder.

    Agnostic? Scientist? What's going on?

    Unlike your empirical evidences, isn't it Doreen. Bless you... Who says philosophy should follow the empirical evidences? Can you show me the definition of this "empirical philosophy" for philosophers sake please?

    If he was "assuming we will be able to mimic the functions of the brain..." you might have been right on being "faith based". However, sorry, again it's one of your unsubstantiated allegations about his presentation. Not true.

    Hold it there, I will remind you this sentence very soon, below...

    What makes you think that I am not aware of them? Could it be another of your assumptions? Thinking on behalf of me Doreen? Knowing already that I am not aware of mumbo jumbos and deciding that it is time to refer me some of the objections. How patronizing...

    If you want to talk about emergent processes we have to substantiate our discussion on a definite terminology or even the examples that will be discussed. Or we have to agree if there is going to be any row when I enter words like "evolution" into the discussion...

    Look who's talking? You are the one who started to introducing articles, how much did you read on what, and as you just did above, throwing some names. I introduced only couple of videos. You are ideologically motivated Doreen, can you analyse the "appeal to authority" sentence for a starter? What do you imply? Or what does "ironically is a philosopher" mean? Haven't you just checked the sub-forum title? Where are we?

    At what point? Or Is it one of your famous "end of discussion" flavoured conclusions? I repeat, you are discussing for the sake of discussion. You have no point to make, you are constantly contradicting to your own statements, and you can do anything to blur the subject including misreading and misrepresenting what people say. I know I promised myself not to engage any long discussions with you, but you just tempted me again.

    Instead of defending your ideology, why don't you just make some comments on subject topic. Remember, it was your question in the first place. Or is it your other strategy: Ask questions and don't try to answer it at all...
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  11. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    4,096
    Sorry, I can't see where you categorized 2 types of illusions. If it was in the Dennett I did not watch the videos.

    Please don't speculate about my motives. This is Ad hom and no help at all to a discussion.

    You mentioned 'experiments', please go back and read your post. One tends NOT to do experiments in philosophical studies. I assumed, given your word choice, you were thinking of scientific experiments. Please take responsibility for at least some of the confusion.

    I pointed it out directly. He said, according to you....

    So he is saying that no specific area of the hardware of the brain is the site of consciousness. This is making a claim about hardware. If he was referring to, for example, emotions instead of consciousness, his assertion would be 1) partially incorrect and 2) clearly an assertion about hardware. Here he is referring to hardware in relation to consciousness. He further says that neurologists will only find 'biologic robots', which has implicit claims about what kinds of phenomena will be discovered in brains. IOW that the hardware involved runs like robots do This is not a neutral claim, and, again, it is about hardware.

    I said hardware. I did not say he referred specifically to synaptic connections. Why would you shift to one portion of possible claims about hardware in this way? See above for where he refers to hardware.

    Yes. I was pointing out the irony of you using a philosopher who is doing this given your position that they should not.

    I have no problem with what Dennet writes about. I though this was clear. I do disagree with some of his conclusions and find myself thinking the hypotheses of philosophers and neuroscientists other than Dennet are more likely to be true, but I have no problem with him arguing/asserting certain things about hardware. I thought you did - in general about philosophers.

    You told me that Dennet said there was no specific site of consciousness in the brain as if this was a response to something I said. I don't know why you brought the issue up. I had expressed problems with the software idea and the computational hypothesis of brains. Then you mentioned Dennet's idea - seemingly in response to this.

    No. I was not making a case for the existence of 'souls'. Again, I am not sure why you bring this up.

    But they are trying to find out the physical basis of this phenomenon.
    What mysticism? I have not made a single mystical claim. I am critical of the software analogy. As far as categorizing scientists as physicalists this is not controversial. Ask the scientists here. It simply means that they do not believe there are immaterial entities. And Dennett is also a physicalist. By his own description.

    I have presented, already, some reasons why I think considering the software model to be at the very least hasty in an earlier post. You read this or you didn't. I do see you did not respond. I consider it a claim without sufficient empirical evidence. How do we know that all brain fuctions can be created and in fact do exist via computational processes? (note: because I question this does not mean I believe in souls or even less am making a case for it here. I already pointed out another model, the connectionist one, that does not have souls, and which I think fits better than computational models) I see the computational model is as especially weak in relation to the hard problem. What leads people to believe that we can program into existence an experiencer? I can see where this might be possible, but it has never been done and we do not understand how experiencing or consciousness came into existence. To then say that we know it has a computational base seems unsupported to me. Why do you believe it to be true? What scientific studies do you know of that show that consciousness is computational? that we can create an experiencer via computational models?

    Dennet is a major proponent of the computational model of brains....

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dennett2/dennett2_index.html

    see video there.

    Dennett is popular with AI researchers precisely because he believes we can via computational approaches completely mimic the brain. Which is all peachy. He gets to have his opinion. I don't see any reason for his level of certainty.

    What? Why do you insist on making this personal?

    Agnostic in general means not committed to a belief on an issue. It is often related specifically to the God issue, but I meant it in its broad sense. Another synonym would be undecided.

    and again, personal. I have not made a specific claim about how the brain runs, what consciousness is and how we can recreate it. Dennett has. You seem to agree with Dennett. I get to be critical and point out the lack of empirical evidence. Remember we do not have to make a claim about how brains ultimately run or function. Dennett has. I think it is way too early.

    It's odd, I thought you were bringing him into the discussion as supporting the software metaphor. He does support this idea, but if you don't think so, yourself, I can't see why you brought him in. Again, this is not a controversial statement I am making. If you look anywhere in the debates around computationalism you will find Dennett as one of the strongest advocates of this position.
    I really can't see how my links are a personal attack after posting links to me. This is simply more ad hom, mindreading.

    we disagree with each other. You are just giving it a pejorative label. Why are my positions ideology and your positions whatever they are? Or Dennett's? Or Searle's etc?
    I don't see what there is to analyze. An appeal to authority is a kind of fallacy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

    Note: I said it came across like. Ì didn't even say it was one for sure. I wasn't sure. But it seemed to be in place of responding or making an argument. So it struck me like that. Further: when I wrote that I was focused on your post and its contents, whereas in this post you are focusing, also, on me as a person. Mine was not ad hom. This post of yours contains ad homs.
    A philosopher commenting on hardware is ironic, given that you are including it in your post, given what you have said earlier. The context is what makes it ironic.

    I am putting you on ignore baftan. There was no need to attack me or label my beliefs ideology.

    I reported your post here also.

    As far as my take on 'is software physical?' As I mentioned earlier I don't think one definition of software - as it relates to brains - is at work in the thread. Which is why I raised the issue in an earlier post regarding your and CC's takes on the word. With a definition of the term in the context of brains - what phenomena or entities is it referring to, that is - I could weigh in, but that's all moot for me, given your post above.

    Bye.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2010
  12. superluminal . Registered Senior Member

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    Software is a concept, just as a "story" is a concept. When you write the story on paper, the representation of the story is physical. The story remains a non-physical concept. When you type code (and compile/link into memory), the representation of your software is physically contained in memory cells full of electrons.

    The story or software is always a concept with physical representation in neural nets or paper or bits. I argue that the concept is always non-physical itself since it is made up of patterns of physical elements.
     
  13. glaucon tending tangentially Moderator

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    Mod Note:

    Waay too harsh baftan.

    Given that this is a text-based discussion, one has to be much less ready than you are here in judging the position of another. I can tell you based solely on experience here that you've unfairly mis-characterized Doreen. As you note right at the start, it is entirely possible that you're both misunderstanding each other. On a forum like this, that is the more prudent position to take..

     
  14. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    Gloucon, I already made my point to Loreen, and not only in this particular thread, in the other one (see: "thinking and philosophy") as well; you can check how things have developed.

    I basically accused her as acting ideological. I studied politics in Degree level and it has never occurred to me that being "ideological" would be taken as an insult. I apologize for putting you in such a stupid discussion. But I am not apologizing from her, neither I will not complain about her in moderation level, although I believe I have right to do that on rightful bases. I already ignored her for the sake of this sub-forum and for that I guarantee there will be no further discussion between me and her.

    Just one last thing for being harsh: You can check many of my earlier discussions especially in religion threads; I had been way too harsh, and others had reacted similar manner. Yet never got any warning from anybody, and I never complained about the tone myself, let alone getting red coloured messages.

    I will not touch this particular thread any more as I believe I made my point quite clear already. Thank you for allowing me to express myself.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  15. glaucon tending tangentially Moderator

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    5,502

    Philosophical discussions are not, by definition, about 'making your point'.


    And if you're going to make such an accusation, be sure to be prepared to defend it. And, certainly, not in here. This is the Philosophy forum: deal with the issue, not the person.

    And I have Degrees in Philosophy; nonetheless, despite how upset I get on numerous occasions of befuddlingly apparent glaring inability of comprehension, it behooves me to refrain from prejudice, and deal with the content in front of me.

    In short, be constantly aware of how your post may be perceived, as well as received.

    Otherwise, all is good.
     
  16. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

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    2,985
    Software in computers are indeed physical all the way, as there are no parts of it that can be deemed non-physical. The only non-physical aspect of it is within your own mind, if it can't be proven that the software has a mind of itself that is.

    Also, all physical things cannot be touched. Electrons can't be touched, etc., that it is unable to be touched isn't a definition of non-physical.
     
  17. bardlehel Registered Member

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    I came across this thread seeing what others thought on this topic. Forgive a late reply and consequential bump.

    I've thought a lot about this being a Cog Sci major in college.

    Stepping away from the debate about AI and qualia (which are always fun topics for me), I will stick with the nature of software.

    As described above, software falls in the realm of 'information.' To ask if software is physical is to act if information is physical or not. And, then, we reach the question of what is 'physical' and what isn't. I believe we who are pure physicalists fall into a limited view (or perhaps we do) and get caught up in semantic issues.

    Those familiar with Marr's Three Levels when describing the human mind breaks apart hardware, algorithm and implementation. Hardware is what we consider physical. The analogy would be a piece of paper and pencil markings if we were to write a letter. The hardware itself must exist for the software/message to do anything in the 'physical' world. The algorithm is what you are going to write--the intent/the function. And the implementation is the exact wording you use--it is the machine language spelling out an algorithm that then gets represented through a series of ON and OFF digital switches in a computer.

    there is some independence between these levels. We can take a software program, or more simply, an algorithm, and code it on different mediums. As stated above, the algorithm is a specific arrangement, that given a specific context, performs a function. in purely physical terms, whether you have one string of ON-OFF symbols on a hard drive of your computer, that arrangement is independent of the physical representation on the hard drive. to reiterate, it is information that needs a physical medium, but is independent of the medium because it can be replicated in different forms.

    But, is information physical? It depends on how you define 'physical.' Information is something abstract. It must be represented physically, but the physical representation does not imply the information. It is the same as asking if an idea is physical. Concepts can be modeled through connectionist representations. but that arrangement in the network is not something you can pick up or touch. the number series 1 2 3 4 5 6 is not physical in this sense either. but i can type it into arabic numeral symbols which the software in your brain will perceive and process. Numbers are abstract concepts though.

    I would argue that information, which is represented by an arrangement of some physical medium, is not by definition, physical because physical things would need to conform to physical laws--or at least as we tend to think about them (laws of motion, thermodynamics, etc).

    But all of this, then, leads to a debate on whether abstract concepts have existence.
     
  18. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    I have thoughts on this matter. My thoughts are matter (!). A "thought" is a special dynamic arrangement of matter and is a well known fact from now on. It is possible to give me a drug that allows my existing memory to function normally, but prevent me from remembering anything new. It is well known that a bump on the head of a certain type could destroy my ability to remember the past. If you scratch a vinyl record badly, the reproduction of the music (software) will be spoiled. The software on your (traditional) hard drive consists of a special arrangement of charged particles that can be converted to human readable form on the screen or in the speakers (for example) or be used to perform calculations by the CPU etc. A simple strong magnetic field nearby could destroy the software by re-arranging the charges in an undesirable way, although, strictly speaking, there would still be software on the computer, just not the kind you wanted. The BIBLE is a special arrangement (traditionally) of ink, paper, glue etc. It can be burned (shock) and edited when copied (heresy). People (and their minds) have been burned for reading the Bible in English. We don't have the original manuscripts, so the Bible (word of God) is dynamic (unlike the Koran in Arabic).

    Some software is relatively stable, such as a precious photo or an important email or your date of birth. Some software changes more or less continuously, such as your age, that is, it is dynamic. Our thoughts are dynamic (for most of us !) and they are special (they are not simply random) and they are an arrangement of brain matter as the above examples clearly show. So, it follows that your thoughts could not exist without matter. A disembodied mind or soul is an impossible object (like a round square or a married bachelor). Therefore a mind could not create matter where there was none previously. Therefore God did not create matter ! (sorry to spoil your wishful software).
     
  19. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    The distinction between hardware and software in computing is largely artificial. Hardware is something that can be changed--you can run the same software on different hardware as long as it can be compiled (cross-compiled).
    Software is so-called because it can be changed more easily (i.e. transistors and circuits are "hard-coded", stored programs and memory contents are "soft-coded"). Initially, computers like the one used by the code-crackers at Bletchley Park were hard-coded, the programming was built in to the hardware, software and programmability were introduced later.

    But hardware is "programmable" if you can alter or upgrade it.
     

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