Cody and Tony (on “Relations”)

   (The dialogue between Cody, a Codicalist, and Tony, a Platonist, continues.)

CODY: Are all relations physical, or are some relations nonphysical?

TONY: I’d say yes. Being uncountably infinite is a property (one-place relation), but it’s not physical. Being the sidekick of Sherlock Homes is a relation, but it’s not physical. Do you count “linguistic” relations, e.g. as physical.

CODY: There is only an uncountably infinity if physical hypercomputing (of a sufficient Turing level) can be found to occur in nature or in a machine we make.
    – Hyperarithmetical sets and iterated Turing jumps: the hyperarithmetical hierarchy
    – Reverse mathematics, countable and uncountable: a computational approach
    – Effective Mathematics of the Uncountable

“The sidekick of Sherlock Homes” (or all “linguistic” things for that matter) is physical: It’s print in books, magnetic states on disks, chemicals on films, neuronal states in brains, … .

TONY: Relations, per se, are neither physical nor nonphysical. Relations can be between physical things; or nonphysical things; or, even between physical and nonphysical things.

CODY: An ontology of physical + nonphysical is Platonism or Dualist Mentalism (which physicalism rejects).

The confusion between “linguistics” and “physics” — between (mathematical/formal) models/languages and (physical) reality/substrate — is what Victor Stenger defined as “platonism”.


Philip Thrift

Let’s get physical


1. Either there are some physical things X, or everything is nonphysical.

2. Assume that there are some physical things X. For whatever y, add y to X if y resembles some member or members of X via a Wittgensteinian family resemblance.

3. Whatever is left out in the end is nonphysical.

4. Physicalism says nothing is left out.

(Is the substrate physical or nonphysical, or a mixture? Those arguing for a mixture have the burden of distinguishing one from the other, whereas for physicalists this burden is lifted.)


Philip Thrift

The middle way of codicalism



linguistic / substrative
analytic / continental
theoretic / noumenic
informational / phenomenological


Philosophy in the past century has been something of split occupation, one turned towards ways of seeing, and the other towards ways of being.

Codicalism — the intercourse of informational linguistic empiricism (neopragmatism) — and phenomenological substrative transcendentalism — is a project to meld the split.

“[The purpose of philosophy], Deleuze argues, is not to interpret or reflect, but to experiment and to create.”
Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine


cf. Groundless Grounds: A study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger


Philip Thrift

Tony and Cody dialogues (continued)


Continuing the dialogue (culled from the blogs) between Tony (a Platonist/Positivist) and Cody (a Codicalist/Pragmatist).


TONY: I have found that philosophical approaches [to questions about the existence of God] are very helpful and that approaches modeled on science of really of very little help. On this basis I am happy to conclude that the existence of God is a philosophical and not a scientific question. [ref]

CODY: That there are different kinds of “truths” to be determined: one kind existing in a one domain studied by science and another kind in another domain by philosophy, would be Platonism, I think, in Rorty’s sense, and thus rejected (on a pragmatic basis). A Pragmatist might say the questions of “God” may not be scientifically resolvable, but they are not philosophically resolvable either — or that either is equally advantaged or disadvantaged to answer such questions.

TONY: If you asked me whether or not the existence (or non-existence) or God is a “different kind” of truth than a scientific truth I would have to hear a good bit more of what you meant by kinds of truth.

CODY: I am guided first by a pragmatist definition of ‘truth’ (vs. platonist or positivist) in Rorty’s “Platonists, Positivists, and Pragmatists” (from Introduction, Consequences of Pragmatism). I expand on this in “Philosophy’s (pragmatic) function” In the end, I think the endeavor to separate what’s in the domain of science vs. what’s in the the domain philosophy is not a pragmatic one. They both may have developed their vocabularies (languages), frameworks, and paradigms, but these can overlap, migrate, and intermingle.

TONY: Arguments modeled on science tend to fail because they do not appreciate the subtleties of the concepts and the ambiguities of implication. Philosophical arguments fare better because they are highly responsive to just these issues.

CODY: I think this a too strong a distinction, but as I have characterized philosophy as the foundry and criticism of vocabularies, I do see philosophy as distinct in that philosophers study the nature of vocabularies in themselves.


TONY: The important issue is whether there are big epistemological divides between different areas of knowledge that have different “ways of knowing”; or whether the world, and thus knowledge, is essentially unified. [ref]

CODY: Even given a final “unified” common inner “machine” language (whatever its “unconventional” features could be: quantum, super-recursive, phenomenological, … ) underlying all of nature, there could still be in the future (as there is now) a “disunified” babel of “higher-level” languages, frameworks, and paradigms for (and within) different domains: math, physics, chemistry, biology, logic, psychology, art, music, politics, ethics, … .


TONY: If matter/energy had slightly different characteristics, the ratio between a circle and its diameter in the plane might have been 3? [ref]

CODY: If one could still build computers in such a universe, one could presumably make one that computes Machin-like formulas, so “computable pi” would be the same in both. (One approach to mathematical physicalism is given here:
Mathematical Facts in a Physicalist Ontology.)


Philip Thrift

Platforms, Frameworks, and Politics


Political parties codify their frameworks in what are called platforms, e.g. the Platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties. In software vocabulary (cf. Framework vs. Platform), the Platform of a party is more of a framework — an operating set of principles that guide the politician — whereas a platform in a political context would be the infrastructure — committees, conventions, primaries, … — supporting the operation of the party.

There is one point of view, that “the focus ought to be on individuals, not parties, and on their character more than the specifics of what they say they will do once elected” (What Would a Stoic Do? Presidential candidates). If that is a “Stoic” view, then an “anti-Stoic” (which could be Codicalist or Pragmatist) view would be the opposite: The focus should firstly be on the Platform (framework) of the party and secondly on the character of the politician.

Some use the term “ideology” in a disparaging, negative way to denigrate politicians who identify with a Platform. But if an ideology is seen in a positive way as a framework, then a politician without an ideology is a person without principles to operate within the context of, and that should be viewed in a negative way.

When one actually reads the entire Platforms, one should get a very good sense of the moorings of the politician who adopts the party he/she is representing. It’s true each politician once in power will make adjustments and deviations from the Platform — in the face of new facts and the need to compromise for practical reasons (as programmers can do to override some features of software frameworks: “extensibility – A framework can be extended by the user usually by selective overriding or specialized by user code to provide specific functionality”) — but the Platform should tell you what’s primarily important about the character of the person who identifies with that party.

For example, if you read the Republican Party Platform and come away disgusted* at its moral deficiency, there should be no reason for you to vote for a Republican politician, no matter what their so-called “character” is presented to be, because they have adopted a party with that Platform as its codical framework. There are those who say Platforms don’t matter. But they really do, in the end, tell you a lot about how the politician will vote or govern in office.

Frameworks (political Platforms) matter.


* “Incompetence obscures the real issue. Conservatism itself is the villain that is harming our people, destroying our environment, and weakening our nation. Conservatives are undermining American values through legislation almost every day. This message applies to every conservative bill proposed to Congress. The issue that arises every day is which philosophy of governing should shape our country. It is the issue of our times. Unless conservative philosophy itself is discredited, Conservatives will continue their domination of public discourse, and with it, will continue their domination of politics.”

by George Lakoff (2006). Still applies today. Replace George Bush with any potential Republican 2016 nominee.


Philip Thrift

Programs of the future


Today’s programs process data. Tomorrow’s programs will process (programmable) matter.

For example, programs written in languages for synthetic biology will be compiled into biochemical assemblies that roam the natural world, not merely simulations that run on a conventional computer. The simulation is not the assembly.

Compiling programs to material assemblies instead of informational, symbol-manipulating simulations will be the new computing. These are substrative vs. linguistic compilers, programs with phenomenological vs. informational semantics.

In Heidegger’s inimitable linguistic play on the Greek roots, “‘phenomenology’ means … — to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself.”

Philip Thrift

Descartes’ elephant


The elephant in the room in Descartes’ meditations is whether or not we can claim anything to be true.

For codicalists (and other pragmatists), what is (computes to be) ‘true’ (or ‘false’, etc.) is an expression of a particular (coding) language (with its own rules of judgment) that one is using for some purpose, not some entity that is independently, eternally true. That includes ‘2+2=4’ and ‘It is raining outside’.

In the codicalist — the intercourse of linguistic pragmatism and substrative transcendentalism — view, what’s beyond the limits of our babel of languages is there, but we will have continuing doubts of what that there is.


Note. Codicalism thus could be compared with the OFS of Markus Gabriel: “The ontology of fields of sense (OFS) is committed to a combination of ontological pluralism, ontological realism and metametaphysical nihilism. It is a view of reality according to which all sorts of things are real (in their respective fields of sense) without there being a single reality to which all real things belong.” Whether the substrative there of codicalism, in contrast, would be a singular or pluralistic reality is an issue, but the codicalistic there is independent of human beings.

At this point I think that Markus Gabriel’s “fields of sense” (cf. Fields of Sense: A New Realist Ontology by Markus Gabriel, Reviewed by Tom Sparrow) is, from a codicalistic view, another confusing of (our babel of) languages with substrate: sense fields is just another language (instrument) invented to try to make sense of the extralinguistic (extracodical, noumenic) substrate (reality) of nature.


Philip Thrift