Executable mathematics



Philip Thrift


The connectional vs. the equational paradigm in physics


Like the functional/processual paradigm difference in programming, the equational/connectional paradigm difference in physics appears.

Now the entire physical universe would be encompassed by a set of equations – or perhaps just one equation.
A Theory of Everything

Computer simulations and custom-built quantum analogues are changing what it means to search for the laws of nature.
The End of Theoretical Physics as We Know It

The growth of connectional models in physics

On the connectional vs. equational paradigm in physics: The connectional could profoundly change what is both practically and philosophically viewed as a model in physics, and that the equational is left behind in a past era of platonism.




The Self

In the 1990s many analytic philosophers were inclined to deny that the expression ‘the self’ referred to anything at all. Others said that its meaning was too unclear for it to be used in worthwhile philosophical discussion. A third group thought that the only legitimate use of ‘I’ and ‘the self’ was its use to refer to the human being considered as a whole. This paper rejects these views. It makes a proposal about how to endow ‘the self’ with sufficiently clear meaning without taking it to refer to the whole human being. One needs to begin with phenomenology, with self-experience, with the experience of there being such a thing as the self. One can then approach the questions about metaphysics of the self—questions about the existence and nature of the self—in the light of the discussion of the phenomenology of the self.

Genuine, realistic materialism requires acknowledgement that the phenomena of conscious experience are, considered specifically as such, wholly physical, as physical as the phenomena of extension and electricity as studied by physics. This in turn requires the acknowledgement that current physics, considered as a general account of the nature of the physical, is like Hamlet without the prince, or at least like Othello without Desdemona. No one who doubts this is a serious materialist, as far as I can see. Anyone who has had a standard modern (Western) education is likely to experience a feeling of deep bewilderment—category-blasting amazement—when entering into serious materialism, and considering the question ‘What is the nature of the physical?’ in the context of the thought that the mental (and in particular the experiential) is physical; followed, perhaps, by a deep, pragmatic agnosticism.

Even if we grant that there is a phenomenon that is reasonably picked out by the phrase ‘mental self’, why should we accept that the right thing to say about some two-second-long mental-self phenomenon is (a) that it is a thing or object like a rock or a tiger? Why can’t we insist that the right thing to say is simply (b) that an enduring (‘physical’) object—Louis—has a certain property, or (c) that a two-second mental-self phenomenon is just a matter of a certain process occurring in an object—so that it is not itself a distinct object existing for two seconds?

I think that a proper understanding of materialism strips (b) and (c) of any appearance of superiority to (a). As for (c): any claim to the effect that a mental self is best thought
of as a process rather than an object can be countered by saying that there is no sense in which a mental self is a process in which a rock is not also and equally a process. So if a rock is a paradigm case of a thing in spite of being a process, we have no good reason not to say the same of a mental self.

But if there is a process, there must be something—an object or substance—in which it goes on. If something happens, there must be something to which it happens, something which is not just the happening itself. This expresses our ordinary understanding of things, but physicists are increasingly content with the view that physical reality is itself a kind of pure process—even if it remains hard to know exactly what this idea amounts to. The view that there is some ultimate stuff to which things happen has increasingly ceded to the idea that the existence of anything worthy of the name ‘ultimate stuff’ consists in the existence of fields of energy — consists, in other words, in the existence of a kind of pure process which is not usefully thought of as something which is happening to a thing distinct from it.

As for (b): the object/property distinction is, as Russell says of the standard distinction between mental and physical, ‘superficial and unreal’ (1927: 402). Chronic philosophical difficulties with the question of how to express the relation between substance and property provide strong negative support for this view. However ineluctable it is for us, it seems that the distinction must be as superficial as we must take the distinction between the wavelike nature and particlelike nature of fundamental particles to be.

Obviously more needs to be said, but Kant seems to have got it exactly right in a single clause: ‘in their relation to substance, [accidents] are not in fact subordinated to it, but are the manner of existence of the substance itself’.


What next? one asks. See

    The neuroscientist and the PEA


Philip Thrift




“How did we ever get the notion of the mind as something distinct from the body? Why did this bad idea enter our culture?”
Richard Rorty

Is psychology a natural science?

The historical mistakes of Galileo’s Error and Descartes’ Dualism removed consciousness from scientific vocabulary.

Galen Strawson: Panpsychism vs. Physicalism?

There is no reason William James’ “psychical units” cannot exoand the vocabulary of science.

cf. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/reduction-biology/

As biology (science of life) may not the “reducible” to physics+chemistry, psychology (science of consciousness) may not be “reducible” to biology. It is it’s own domain (with overlaps).


Philip Thrift


The neuroscientist and the PEA


What matters to many physicalists is the claim that consciousness and mind, in all their majesty, really are in a way just like water, dirt, and stars. They are not one of the fundamental forces, features, or properties of the world but are rather built up out of that fundamental stuff in some way just like everything else is. Construed this way, physicalism is the claim that consciousness fits into the physical world in the way that other non-fundamental things do, and in particular in the way that other biological/neural/psychological things do. If brains supervene on quantum mechanics then so does consciousness, says the physicalist.

Richard Brown, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


P1. Everything – including consciousness – is physical.
P2. Everything physical can be explained by a particle or a combination of particles (and/or their fields).
P3. Consciousness cannot be explained by current inhabitants (or any of their combinations, or any of them in terms of their currently defined particle properties) of the Particle Zoo (which includes at least the Standard Model).
P4. Consciousness cannot be emergent.

C. There must a particle (or particles) not yet in the Particle Zoo, or a particle property (or properties) not yet defined for current particles, responsible for consciousness.


“One thing we do know about matter is that when you put some very common-or-garden elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sodium, potassium, etc) together in the way in which they’re put together in brains, you get consciousness like ours – a wholly physical phenomenon. (It’s happening to you right now.) And this means that we do, after all, know something about the intrinsic nature of matter, over and above everything we know in knowing the equations of physics. Why? Because we know the intrinsic nature of consciousness and consciousness is a form of matter.”
Galen Strawson (The Guardian – book review)

“[Consciousness] is in fact the only thing in the universe whose ultimate intrinsic nature we can claim to know. It is utterly unmysterious. The nature of physical stuff, by contrast, is deeply mysterious, and physics grows stranger by the hour.”
Galen Strawson (The New York Times – opinion)


PEAs — pan(proto)experiential attributes — are basic, fundamental properties of matter, just like mass, charge, polarity, and other things physicists talk about. Matter = Quanta+Qualia.

PEAs may be along the lines of constitutive panpsychism, “holding that consciousness is naturally inherent in matter, with human consciousness built up out of this”:

Combining Minds
Luke Roelofs
(chapter preprint pdfs)

The PEA is not that outside the (growing) categories (and subcategories) of hypothetical particles. One only extends the vocabulary of science (and modeling methodology), but it is still science. In fact, PEAs may be more “scientific” than some above hypotheticals.

Physics is not a fixed catechism saying what’s allowed in its modeling language, and maybe physics in the future will be panpsychist in formulation.


linguistic pragmatism [LP][LP-2]
real computationalism [PLTOS]

Given a consciousness program and a molecular compiler/assembler, the presence of actual (vs. behavioral) consciousness depends on the material substrate of the output object.

and Why panpsychism can’t just go away.


“physics tells us only about dispositions and remains silent on their categorical grounds, which allows the panpsychist to propose experiential properties as their categorical ground”

— Philip Goff, On Conservative And Liberal Naturalism & The Science Of Consciousness


The Qualities of Qualia
David de Léon

Conscious Machines and Consciousness Oriented Programming


This would be the “reductionist” approach to constitutive panpsychism*:

Along with bosons and fermions and all the rest [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_particles ] there are:

      psychons [ https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/psychon ]

* https://books.google.com/books?id=LfeEDwAAQBAJ



      Consciousnessive Hypo-Intrinsic Massless Particle*

      * (or Property)

The CHIMP would be like the Higgs boson – the particle that gives mass to other particles – except it would interact with other particles to give (proto) experience. In articular (large, complex, integrated) configurations of particles (brains), consciousness appears.

CHIMPs are carriers of the qualia field.

Philosophy, Neuroscience and Consciousness
Rex Welshon (https://www.uccs.edu/philosophy/staff/welshon)




It from bit.

It from qubit.

It from psybit.


The vocabulary of (any) science (and there is no final vocabulary [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironism]) is never settled. There is no reason why it can’t some day include the “intrinsic”, “qualitative”. Science becomes established by what is accepted in its writing.



What if physical stuff (to use Galen Strawson’s favorite term for matter) could only be allowed (by some scientific panel I guess) to be defined in terms of fermionic properties, and bosonic properties had to be excluded (from what physicists regard as “physical”). So why the jump to exclude experiential (psychical, psychonic) properties?


The Easy Part of the Hard Problem: A Resonance Theory of Consciousness
Tam Hunt and Jonathan W. Schooler

cf. https://www.tsc2019-interlaken.ch/program/plenary-hameroff/


“while everything is physical, some physical states cannot be fully grasped unless they are occupied”
(Robert Howell)





Philip Thrift


Coding aware(ness)


aware – from PIE root *wer- (3) “perceive, watch out for.”

Programs become objects via compilations, where an object can be a

– binary machine code executable
– dynamical gate array
– nanomechanical device
– synthetic biological lifeform
– human psychological process* (human biocomputer)

At some point these objects are ‘aware’.

* A brain executes psychological processes as a star executes nuclear fusion processes.


Philip Thrift