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Posted by Aurino Souza on May 20, 2003 17:59:15 UTC


Since you are often bringing up the issue of the relationship between math and reality, perhaps I'll be able to use that as a hook for my own argument.

OK, it's not entirely clear why the world can, to a good extent, be described by math, but I suppose it's clear enough that there's a large degree of isomorphism between mathematics and reality. If we forget the 'why' issue we might be able to make some progress.

Also, while it's not clear what mathematics really is, I suppose we can safely say that it is, among other possible things, a language. To me, that mathematics is a language can easily be demonstrated by the fact that any mathematical statement can be translated to statements in other languages, such as English or Fortran.

With the above two in mind, it's clear to me that, if there's a large degree of isomorphism between reality and mathematics, then the same degree of isomorphism also exists between reality and other languages, such as (you guessed it) English or Fortran. So everything that can be said about the world in math can also be said in English (which some nerds just don't get). Perhaps it's worth mentioning that the opposite is not true, and that languages such as English are capable of a larger degree of isomorphism with reality than mathematicians could ever hope. But that's not important, what's important is to acknowledge that the isomorphism exists.

Now what does that have to do with consciousness, you might be thinking. Well, everything as far as I can tell. If the point of studying consciousness is to understand its relationship with the whole reality, and given that all our knowledge of reality can be expressed as a series of statements in a language, then "the problem of understanding consciousness" can be seen as "the problem of the relationship between consciousness and language". In fact, the same is true about any problem at all. For instance, "the problem of understanding cats" is the problem of discovering the relationship between the concept 'cat' and all other concepts in the language in which 'cat' is defined. And so it is for every concept with no exceptions.

Notice that there's nothing particularly original in the above, I'm just stating commonsense in a complex way. But I'm trying to make what to me is an important point: there are three concepts for which 'the problem of understanding [the concept]' leads to a dead end in the form of a self-reference. The concepts are: 'language', 'reality', and 'consciousness'.

There's more to it but I'm running out of funds for now. Let me know what you think of it.



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