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Thread: Chris Langan's CTMU

  1. #1 Chris Langan's CTMU 
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    I am setting up this thread to discuss the Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU), which is the brainchild of the American autodidact Chris Langan. The following brief explanation of the CTMU is due to Chris Langan, and it focuses on the CTMU's theistic applications. More information can be found in the longer paper at http://www.megafoundation.org/CTMU/A...TMU_092902.pdf.

    "Scientific theories are mental constructs that have objective reality as their content. According to the scientific method, science puts objective content first, letting theories be determined by observation. But the phrase "a theory of reality" contains two key nouns,theory and reality, and science is really about both. Because all theories have certain necessary logical properties that are abstract and mathematical, and therefore independent of observation - it is these very properties that let us recognize and understand our world in conceptual terms - we could just as well start with these properties and see what they might tell us about objective reality. Just as scientific observation makes demands on theories, the logic of theories makes demands on scientific observation, and these demands tell us in a general way what we may observe about the universe.

    In other words, a comprehensive theory of reality is not just about observation, but about theories and their logical requirements. Since theories are mental constructs, and mentalmeans "of the mind", this can be rephrased as follows: mind and reality are linked in mutual dependence at the most basic level of understanding. This linkage of mind and reality is what a TOE (Theory of Everything) is really about. The CTMU is such a theory; instead of being a mathematical description of specific observations (like all established scientific theories), it is a "metatheory" about the general relationship between theories and observations…i.e., about science or knowledge itself. Thus, it can credibly lay claim to the title of TOE.

    Mind and reality - the abstract and the concrete, the subjective and the objective, the internal and the external - are linked together in a certain way, and this linkage is the real substance of "reality theory". Just as scientific observation determines theories, the logical requirements of theories to some extent determine scientific observation. Since reality always has the ability to surprise us, the task of scientific observation can never be completed with absolute certainty, and this means that a comprehensive theory of reality cannot be based on scientific observation alone. Instead, it must be based on the process of making scientific observations in general, and this process is based on the relationship of mind and reality. So the CTMU is essentially a theory of the relationship between mind and reality.

    In explaining this relationship, the CTMU shows that reality possesses a complex property akin to self-awareness. That is, just as the mind is real, reality is in some respects like a mind. But when we attempt to answer the obvious question "whose mind?", the answer turns out to be a mathematical and scientific definition of God. This implies that we all exist in what can be called "the Mind of God", and that our individual minds are parts of God's Mind. They are not as powerful as God's Mind, for they are only parts thereof; yet, they are directly connected to the greatest source of knowledge and power that exists. This connection of our minds to the Mind of God, which is like the connection of parts to a whole, is what we sometimes call the soul or spirit, and it is the most crucial and essential part of being human.

    Thus, the attempt to formulate a comprehensive theory of reality, the CTMU, finally leads to spiritual understanding, producing a basis for the unification of science and theology. The traditional Cartesian divider between body and mind, science and spirituality, is penetrated by logical reasoning of a higher order than ordinary scientific reasoning, but no less scientific than any other kind of mathematical truth. Accordingly, it serves as the long-awaited gateway between science and humanism, a bridge of reason over what has long seemed an impassable gulf."


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  3. #2  
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    Hi Ergonotimor, thanks.

    Scientific theories are mental constructs that have objective reality as their content. According to the scientific method, science puts objective content first, letting theories be determined by observation. But the phrase "a theory of reality" contains two key nouns,theory and reality, and science is really about both. Because all theories have certain necessary logical properties that are abstract and mathematical, and therefore independent of observation - it is these very properties that let us recognize and understand our world in conceptual terms - we could just as well start with these properties and see what they might tell us about objective reality. Just as scientific observation makes demands on theories, the logic of theories makes demands on scientific observation, and these demands tell us in a general way what we may observe about the universe
    Agreed, mostly.

    In other words, a comprehensive theory of reality is not just about observation, but about theories and their logical requirements. Since theories are mental constructs, and mentalmeans "of the mind", this can be rephrased as follows: mind and reality are linked in mutual dependence at the most basic level of understanding. This linkage of mind and reality is what a TOE (Theory of Everything) is really about. The CTMU is such a theory; instead of being a mathematical description of specific observations (like all established scientific theories), it is a "metatheory" about the general relationship between theories and observations…i.e., about science or knowledge itself. Thus, it can credibly lay claim to the title of TOE.
    Not sure I would term it as a "mutual dependance" though. Our minds are certainly subservient to the nature of reality, but not vice versa in my opinion.

    Mind and reality - the abstract and the concrete, the subjective and the objective, the internal and the external - are linked together in a certain way, and this linkage is the real substance of "reality theory".
    Again, this seems to suggest that a subjective mind affects reality in some way other than simply being a subset of reality itself and itself being subject to the nature of reality. The phenomenon of Mind, as far as we know, is simply the operation of a dynamic, interconnected pattern of matter and energy, its operation being determined by reality itself. It is only abstract from it's own viewpoint.

    Just as scientific observation determines theories, the logical requirements of theories to some extent determine scientific observation. Since reality always has the ability to surprise us, the task of scientific observation can never be completed with absolute certainty, and this means that a comprehensive theory of reality cannot be based on scientific observation alone. Instead, it must be based on the process of making scientific observations in general, and this process is based on the relationship of mind and reality. So the CTMU is essentially a theory of the relationship between mind and reality.
    I don't quite understand how this is stating anything new. We all know we are limited in our ability to grasp reality. The tenets of the scientific method already embrace it. We know that our limits of understanding has been imposed by the range of experiences we encountered during our evolutionary development. Am I missing something?

    In explaining this relationship, the CTMU shows that reality possesses a complex property akin to self-awareness.
    Does this refer to the rules of our universe and how these rules affect the interaction of matter and energy? I am having a hard time making the leap to the interaction of matter and energy according to rules being even loosely akin to self-awareness. The term "self" implies the existence of extant information apart from the mere results of interaction between particles, of philosophical concepts, concepts in general. What mechanism is supposed to hold these concepts?


    That is, just as the mind is real, reality is in some respects like a mind. But when we attempt to answer the obvious question "whose mind?", the answer turns out to be a mathematical and scientific definition of God.
    I guess one could ask those questions, but why automatically gravitate towards an anthropomorphic description? The "whose mind" question is not very obvious to me.

    This implies that we all exist in what can be called "the Mind of God", and that our individual minds are parts of God's Mind.
    As noted above, I don't see how this lose description can mean anything other than the fact that our minds are subsets of reality and subject to the rules of the universe. Why invoke a god concept?

    They are not as powerful as God's Mind, for they are only parts thereof; yet, they are directly connected to the greatest source of knowledge and power that exists. This connection of our minds to the Mind of God, which is like the connection of parts to a whole, is what we sometimes call the soul or spirit, and it is the most crucial and essential part of being human.
    And here any semblance of logical progression breaks down. All I see are a bunch of non sequiturs. Where does this knowledge and power suddenly come from? What is a soul? Why is a "soul" required to make us human?

    Thus, the attempt to formulate a comprehensive theory of reality, the CTMU, finally leads to spiritual understanding, producing a basis for the unification of science and theology. The traditional Cartesian divider between body and mind, science and spirituality, is penetrated by logical reasoning of a higher order than ordinary scientific reasoning, but no less scientific than any other kind of mathematical truth. Accordingly, it serves as the long-awaited gateway between science and humanism, a bridge of reason over what has long seemed an impassable gulf.
    I wholly disagree. I haven't seen evidence of "logical reasoning of a higher order than ordinary scientific reasoning". It seems more like, as is so often the case, an attempt to reconcile pre-existing notions with objective reality by making a series of unfounded and vague assumptions.


    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  4. #3  
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    "Hi Ergonotimor, thanks."

    You're very welcome.

    "Agreed, mostly."

    Fair enough. We can tackle the specifics later.

    "Not sure I would term it as a 'mutual dependance' though. Our minds are certainly subservient to the nature of reality, but not vice versa in my opinion."

    Our minds not only determine the reality we see, but exercise a constraint on our perception of reality. Ultimately, what we can and cannot perceive of reality is what determines our reality. Our minds create our reality and our reality creates our minds.

    "Again, this seems to suggest that a subjective mind affects reality in some way other than simply being a subset of reality itself and itself being subject to the nature of reality. The phenomenon of Mind, as far as we know, is simply the operation of a dynamic, interconnected pattern of matter and energy, its operation being determined by reality itself. It is only abstract from it's own viewpoint."

    Simply put, without minds reality would not be real and would thus contradict itself. In their most general sense, minds are information processors, and if we're not processing information about reality (and vice versa) we are utterly independent of it.

    "I don't quite understand how this is stating anything new. We all know we are limited in our ability to grasp reality. The tenets of the scientific method already embrace it. We know that our limits of understanding has been imposed by the range of experiences we encountered during our evolutionary development. Am I missing something?"

    The passage in question is essentially a succinct response to several attempts at so-called "Theories of Everything" that are based entirely in the scientific method. What Langan is saying is that (e.g.) string theory will not be complete until science has a proper metaphysical framework. (There are some more specific issues with string theory, but these may be ignored for the example's sake.) Some scientists become enraged at the mere mention of metaphysics, but it is important to keep in mind that the various attempts by modern pseudo-metaphysicians at constructing a proper philosophy should not reflect on the importance of this most general and important subject.

    "Does this refer to the rules of our universe and how these rules affect the interaction of matter and energy? I am having a hard time making the leap to the interaction of matter and energy according to rules being even loosely akin to self-awareness. The term 'self' implies the existence of extant information apart from the mere results of interaction between particles, of philosophical concepts, concepts in general. What mechanism is supposed to hold these concepts?"

    Langan shows that when one boils consciousness down to information processing, reality can be accused of being conscious. Moreover, given that there is nothing real enough outside of reality to determine the behaviour of reality, reality can be accused of possessing free will.

    "I guess one could ask those questions, but why automatically gravitate towards an anthropomorphic description? The 'whose mind' question is not very obvious to me."

    In fact, the presupposition that a "who" must be human is rather anthropomorphic. The reason "who" is used instead of "what" is that reality is self-aware.

    "As noted above, I don't see how this lose description can mean anything other than the fact that our minds are subsets of reality and subject to the rules of the universe. Why invoke a god concept?"

    Reality happens not only to be a mind but a rather important mind which effectively has properties such as omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, all of which are associated with most versions of God. (Note that this applies not just to the Christian God.)

    "And here any semblance of logical progression breaks down. All I see are a bunch of non sequiturs. Where does this knowledge and power suddenly come from? What is a soul? Why is a 'soul' required to make us human?"

    Well let's analyze the passage.

    "They are not as powerful as God's Mind, for they are only parts thereof;"

    Given that this God is an abstract entity whose mind is reality, I think you'll agree.

    "yet, they are directly connected to the greatest source of knowledge and power that exists."

    God, having all of reality as a mind, is clearly the greatest source of knowledge that exists. Also, being a superset of everything else powerful, this can be deemed the greatest source of power that exists.

    "This connection of our minds to the Mind of God, which is like the connection of parts to a whole, is what we sometimes call the soul or spirit, and it is the most crucial and essential part of being human."

    This statement could be made for rabbits as easily as humans. However, the difference is the degree of connection. The fact that we are able to formulate a model like the CTMU is a brilliant example of this connection.

    "I wholly disagree. I haven't seen evidence of 'logical reasoning of a higher order than ordinary scientific reasoning'. It seems more like, as is so often the case, an attempt to reconcile pre-existing notions with objective reality by making a series of unfounded and vague assumptions."

    It's not a matter of creating notions to fit preconceived boxes but of building the boxes around the notions. Let's review Langan's reasoning. Without minds, we would not be able to interact with reality in anyway and we would thus not be a part of it. In other words, our minds can be said to "descriptively contain" reality while reality "topologically contains" our minds. Moreover, our minds are fundamentally information processors and so is reality. Thus, reality can be described as a mind. Given the existence of this mind, it can be said to belong to something even if that something is reality itself. This something can be called God given that it necessarily shares several key properties with traditional interpretations of God. These properties include omniscience (guaranteed by its processing all information), omnipotence (guaranteed by its determining its own logical structure), and omnipresence (guaranteed by its being present at every existent location). Moreover, the fact of our minds being embedded in this greatest of all minds to the extent that we share enough of its logical structure to theorize about it shows that we are special. This connection is termed the "soul" because the soul was traditionally what made humans and/or animals stand above (e.g.) rocks. Of course, all this does not mean that we deserve to be treated better than other, less intelligent beings, but it does mean that we have an added responsibility by dint of our veritably 'larger' souls.

    We have proven the existence of God in a paragraph by reasoning logically. That beats any attempt at the same that uses the scientific method.
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  5. #4  
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    Our minds not only determine the reality we see, but exercise a constraint on our perception of reality. Ultimately, what we can and cannot perceive of reality is what determines our reality. Our minds create our reality and our reality creates our minds.
    Objective reality creates our minds and our minds create subjective reality. Those adjectives change the nature of that sentence dramatically.

    Simply put, without minds reality would not be real and would thus contradict itself. In their most general sense, minds are information processors, and if we're not processing information about reality (and vice versa) we are utterly independent of it.
    I think we are going to get confused by objective - and subjective reality here. Of course the universe would exist whether there was life in it or not. Where is the contradiction? If our minds were isolated from an external world, like if we were a brain in a jar, then the mind would not be aware of anything other than itself, but objectively the mind contained in the brain is still very much a part of reality. Why wouldn't it be? It sounds almost like a head in the sand argument. The ostrich is still very much in danger of being eaten, no matter where it's head is.

    Langan shows that when one boils consciousness down to information processing, reality can be accused of being conscious.
    How though? There is a difference between the processing of information and a more fundamental cause and effect dynamic. The processing of information requires a patterned construct, set up to produce a result that is useful to some purpose. The only mechanisms capable of that are living organisms and their manipulations of matter. Nothing else in the universe is capable of something like this that we know of. How is the basic functioning of the universe, apart from the emergent patterns that is life, anything more than a cause and effect dynamic?

    In fact, the presupposition that a "who" must be human is rather anthropomorphic. The reason "who" is used instead of "what" is that reality is self-aware.
    A "who" question need not presuppose the answer to be human, agreed, but it has not been shown that reality is self-aware.

    Reality happens not only to be a mind but a rather important mind which effectively has properties such as omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence,
    How do you know? The universe is everywhere by definition yes, but it does not have unlimited power as far as we know. It can't even in principle function as a mind, because different parts of it are causally isolated from others. Information has no way to traverse the whole universe. Where is he getting these claims from?

    Well let's analyze the passage.

    "They are not as powerful as God's Mind, for they are only parts thereof;"

    Given that this God is an abstract entity whose mind is reality, I think you'll agree.
    Only as fart of some wishful fairytale. It has not been established that the universe can even in principle function as a mind.

    God, having all of reality as a mind, is clearly the greatest source of knowledge that exists. Also, being a superset of everything else powerful, this can be deemed the greatest source of power that exists.
    Again, a mind of god needs complexity, but the only thing with that level of complexity are living organisms. Without this complex patterned construct, knowledge becomes mere raw data.

    This connection of our minds to the Mind of God, which is like the connection of parts to a whole, is what we sometimes call the soul or spirit, and it is the most crucial and essential part of being human."

    This statement could be made for rabbits as easily as humans. However, the difference is the degree of connection. The fact that we are able to formulate a model like the CTMU is a brilliant example of this connection.
    How does this follow? These are leaps of faith, rather than logical reasoning. Can't you tell the difference? We can come up with all sorts of concepts, real and imagined, because of our evolutionary past. Why is that not good enough for you?

    Let's review Langan's reasoning. Without minds, we would not be able to interact with reality in anyway and we would thus not be a part of it
    This a bit of circular reasoning, surely? So if a mind doesn't exist, it can't be a mind? How obvious is that?

    Moreover, our minds are fundamentally information processors and so is reality. Thus, reality can be described as a mind.
    This does not follow. Only in the vaguest, woolly sense can you make this assertion, but then you use the precise definition to continue the sequiturs. It doesn't work.

    We have proven the existence of God in a paragraph by reasoning logically. That beats any attempt at the same that uses the scientific method.
    I don't agree at all with this declaration, not by a long shot.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  6. #5  
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    "Objective reality creates our minds and our minds create subjective reality. Those adjectives change the nature of that sentence dramatically."

    Subjective and objective reality are one and the same on a suitable level of generality. Everything in the universe necessarily processes the laws of the universe inherently. For example, everything in the universe conforms to certain tautological principles of sentential logic by necessity. In other words, every part of the universe *descriptively contains* the laws necessary for the universe to exist in the way it does. This applies equally to our minds. That is why I say that the universe topologically contains our minds which descriptively contain the universe. Now, suppose that minds do not descriptively contain the universe. Then they would not conform to the laws of the universe and would thus be decidedly unreal. What does this say for the influence of mind on reality? It says that if nothing descriptively contains the universe, the universe topologically contains nothing, and is itself unreal. In other words, our minds are essential to the existence of the universe. There can be differences in the perceptions of local minds, but the universe is what Langan calls the "syntactic unisect" of these perceptions. That is, if these perceptions are absolutely different, then there is an absolute difference relation expressing the difference, and since all relations possess syntaxes, so does this one; thus there is a common syntax in terms of which the various perceptions are expressed.

    "I think we are going to get confused by objective - and subjective reality here. Of course the universe would exist whether there was life in it or not. Where is the contradiction? If our minds were isolated from an external world, like if we were a brain in a jar, then the mind would not be aware of anything other than itself, but objectively the mind contained in the brain is still very much a part of reality. Why wouldn't it be? It sounds almost like a head in the sand argument. The ostrich is still very much in danger of being eaten, no matter where it's head is."

    If we were a brain in a jar, we would only be isolated from the outside world with respect to our perception. Its causal mechanisms, its universal laws, would still permeate our cognition. Our mind would thus still be subject to the laws determining reality and would thus descriptively contain it yet again.

    "How though? There is a difference between the processing of information and a more fundamental cause and effect dynamic. The processing of information requires a patterned construct, set up to produce a result that is useful to some purpose. The only mechanisms capable of that are living organisms and their manipulations of matter. Nothing else in the universe is capable of something like this that we know of. How is the basic functioning of the universe, apart from the emergent patterns that is life, anything more than a cause and effect dynamic?"

    Actually, a good example for me to use here, I think, would be that of a computer. Computers process information. However, they are not "living organisms" by most people's standards.

    "A 'who' question need not presuppose the answer to be human, agreed, but it has not been shown that reality is self-aware."

    I have replied to your previous points, which I suppose were meant to attack Langan's argument.

    "How do you know? The universe is everywhere by definition yes, but it does not have unlimited power as far as we know. It can't even in principle function as a mind, because different parts of it are causally isolated from others. Information has no way to traverse the whole universe. Where is he getting these claims from?"

    The claim was not that the universe's power is "unlimited", but that it is "the greatest source of knowledge and power that exists". As for your causal isolation point, there are necessarily universal laws which all of the universe obeys, regardless of distance. For example, there is the tautological law, not (A = not A). Moreover, as is well-known in quantum mechanics where it resides as a paradox, the seemingly faster-than-light propagation of information occurs in certain circumstances. Incidentally, the CTMU offers a unique interpretation of quantum mechanics which resolves this paradox.

    "Only as fart of some wishful fairytale. It has not been established that the universe can even in principle function as a mind."

    See my above response.

    "Again, a mind of god needs complexity, but the only thing with that level of complexity are living organisms. Without this complex patterned construct, knowledge becomes mere raw data."

    Come now; reality (topologically) contains all of those living organisms. It is far more complex than any of them.

    "How does this follow? These are leaps of faith, rather than logical reasoning. Can't you tell the difference? We can come up with all sorts of concepts, real and imagined, because of our evolutionary past. Why is that not good enough for you?"

    Regardless of whether the CTMU is correct, it is a far more complex intellectual construct than what rabbits are coming up with these days, which is what I meant. As for the existence of, for lack of a better term, a soul, that follows from my previous reasoning. I've already replied to your qualms in that regard.

    "This a bit of circular reasoning, surely? So if a mind doesn't exist, it can't be a mind? How obvious is that?"

    Yes, if a mind doesn't exist it can't be a mind. However, that's not what I was directly addressing and I agree that my comment was phrased badly. On any account, I feel that it would take a significant amount of effort to rephrase that review, and that since all the information in it and qualm-answering relative to it may be found above, it is unnecessary for me to do so. I instead ask that you ignore it and go with the way I phrased all the arguments above. This is not because I feel it unmasks logical errors, but because I feel that rephrasing it would give you cause us to end up debating the same points of contention twice.
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