owlthatissuperb OP t1_j66ya8x wrote

Curious if you can provide any quotes/etc that back up your claims about Penrose saying "nothing exists outside of time and there is no such thing as outside of time."

Penrose is frequently described as a Platonist [1] [2] [3] [4]. The opening paragraph on Platonism from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [5] says:

> Platonism is the view that there exist such things as abstract objects — where an abstract object is an object that does not exist in space or time and which is therefore entirely non-physical and non-mental.

I find this diagram really useful for thinking about Penrose's picture of reality.

[1] https://www.cantorsparadise.com/is-roger-penrose-a-platonist-or-a-pythagorean-f98ee8e70d9c

[2] https://astudentforever.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/a-defense-of-mathematical-platonism/#:~:text=Roger%20Penrose%20is%20a%20British,three%20worlds%20and%20three%20mysteries%E2%80%9D.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penrose%E2%80%93Lucas_argument

[4] https://www.whyarewehere.tv/people/roger-penrose/

[5] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism/


owlthatissuperb OP t1_j65pddu wrote

This is something a LOT of philosophers think about, not just theists. E.g. Plato would say that mathematical truths are eternal--they exist independent of time. Physicist Roger Penrose, an Agnostic, would likely agree.

Penrose has some really out-there conceptions of time if you're interested in philosophy of time, especially with an angle towards physics. He's been doing some great interviews on IAI.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_j63oh02 wrote

This is a really common thing in philosophy though--we need rigorous technical definitions in order to make sure we're discussing the same thing.

There is a lot of discussion in the philosophy of time about the nature of eternity and infinity. You might find this article interesting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_space_and_time


owlthatissuperb OP t1_j61eyn8 wrote

Eternity is typically seen as “outside” of time. Aquinas was probably the first to articulate this fully:

> Endless time is not eternity: it is just more of time. Eternity differs in essence, not merely accidentally in quantity. Endless time is an elongation of time. More of the same thing is essentially the same thing. … There is a crucial difference between the "now" of time and the "now" of eternity…. The "now" of time moves; the "now" of eternity does not move in any way

See [here](https://www.anselm.edu/sites/default/files/Documents/Institute of SA Studies/ and here for some interesting discussion and counterpoints.

I’ll also note that omnipresence is only infinite if the universe is infinite, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Whether omniscience is infinite kinda depends on how you define it. There are some interesting problems that come up if you try to give a technical definition.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_j5r0g1i wrote

I think you’re creating a strawman here. Is there actually a Bible passage that calls God “infinitely old” or an “infinity of infinities”?

Regardless, Christian theology is very diverse. There’s a wide range of ideas on the nature of God.

I have my own issues with mainstream Christian theology, but I’d try and study up on it before dismissing it all out of hand. Any objection you can think of, the theologians have studied and responded to ad nauseam.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_j5l0j71 wrote

That's not quite right, from Planck's perspective.

Planck is essentially adopting a new axiom. He's taking this axiom on faith. Like all axioms, it doesn't depend on further justification.

Otherwise, yes, without an axiomatic foundation, we end up in an infinite regress. The same is true for math and any other system of logic.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_j4mib3d wrote

Planck specifically argues against faith that contradicts evidence (what he calls "faith in miracles")

But he points out that you need faith to have any sensible view of the world. Otherwise you get stuck in an epistemic trap, like solipsism or positivism.

The key is picking beliefs that are (a) compatible with evidence and reason, and (b) which serve some larger aesthetic, philosophical, or moral purpose.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_j34da0w wrote

> In fact, there is no experience of free will at all. Free will is not a sensation, but a conclusion we draw about our sensations.

My experience on LSD (described in the article) contradicts this, as do the experiences of people suffering from DP/DR.

Our sense of choice is very primary, on par with (maybe part of) proprioception. It's very distressing to see it disappear. I'd guess that someone who doesn't believe in free will would find the loss of choice-sensation just as disturbing as someone who does.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_izf0h4i wrote

Yes I do think you can still run CLDs as a model--but they're much more chaotic. They would typically be modeled using differential equations, which can be really sensitive to a slight change in conditions. E.g. even a tiny miscalculation for the weight of one edge might cause the system to enter into a totally different equilibrium.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_iz2pjrl wrote

When I'm talking about labeled vs unlabeled, what I really mean is that we have some intuition for how the labeled dataset might behave. E.g. "an increase in money supply causes an increase in inflation" is a better causal hypothesis than "an increase the president's body temperature causes an increase in inflation". We can make that judgement having never seen data, based on our understanding of the system.

Having made that hypothesis, we can look back to see if the data support it. The combination of a reasonable causal mechanism, plus correlated data, is typically seen as evidence of causation.

If you don't have any intuition for how the system works, you don't have the same benefit. All you can see are the correlations.

E.g. in your x->x^2 example, if all you had were a list of Xs and Ys, you couldn't tell if the operation was y=x^2 or x=sqrt(y). Without any knowledge of what the Xs and Ys refer to, you're stuck.


owlthatissuperb OP t1_iz0gk1h wrote

Yeah I mostly agree with you. Here's the distinction I'll make:

If you have a starting hypothesis (e.g. an increase in the money supply will cause inflation), you can very much go back and look at historical data to find support for your hypothesis.

But if you have a completely unlabeled dataset (just a bunch of variables labeled x, y, z, ...), and can see how those variables change over time, there's no way to look at the data and say with any confidence that "x has a causal impact on z"


owlthatissuperb OP t1_iz0fsy9 wrote

I haven't followed your technical example yet but I plan on it. Thanks for that!

> What else could our brains possibly be doing when they learn?

I don't think this argument says much--our brains use fuzzy heuristics all the time, and people were really bad at understanding causality (see things like raindances and voodoo) before experimental science came along (which manipulates the world to see how it reacts).


owlthatissuperb OP t1_iyxpix4 wrote


Yeah I agree with you. Typically, when you get into academic research, the domain experts fully appreciate how complicated the situation is, and know how to properly interpret causal claims.

> Econometrics, the economic sub-discipline of statistics, is almost chiefly concerned with understanding when we can say that statistical estimates can be interpreted as causality

IMO (and this is controversial), you can never infer causality from looking passively at data--data alone can't discern between causation and correlation. It can only lend support to a working theory (i.e. if you already have a proposed causal mechanism).

The only way to infer causality is to reach into a system and modify it. If you can turn the "cause" knob and consistently observe the effect, you can infer causality. But passively peering in and seeing "when A changes, the B tends to change too" doesn't get you there (even if e.g. there's a time delay).

But I do think others would disagree with me.