Re: The problem of cognitive closure

From: Carl Feynman (
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 11:50:06 MST

Ben Goertzel wrote:

> Of course, any representational system that has equivalent power
> to higher-order predicate logic, has the capability to express any
> known philosophy.

This is a very ambitious statement. Maybe any philosophy within 20th-century
Anglo-American analytic philosophy could be represented by higher-order
predicate calculus (HOPC). But consider the following examples:

-- Zen Buddhism can only be learned by spending a very long time meditating.

-- Kabbalism should only be learned by married men over 40, as less mentally
sturdy people might damage their minds when they learn it.

-- "Capitalism and Schizophrenia" by Deleuze and Guattari is designed to
baffle the reader into a position where they realize nothing is knowable and
everything is a matter of interpretation. (Or something like that-- it's open
to interpretation.)

I don't hold any of these philosophies; I consider them useless, nonsense, and
useless nonsense, respectively. But they are all philosophies, that can be
held by the human mind, but not (I think) represented accurately by HOPC. The
important thing is that to know them involves changes in parts of the mind
other than the part that maps neatly into HOPC. They can't be learned by
internalizing lists of claims, which is what HOPC can represent. It might be
that they cannot be represented by any mind not fairly similar to human,
including its physiological underpinnings.

Of course, there is some wiggle room in the word "represent". For example, a
sufficiently powerful mind could simulate ("imagine") a human being who held
such a philosophy, and when called upon to act according to the philosophy,
run the simulated entity through a situation, and act the same way. But
that's representation without understanding.

I think restricting your AI to representing things in HOPC is asking for the
kind of cognitive closure Mr. Porter is worried about.

--Carl Feynman

PS. JOIN message coming soon!

PPS. This just occured to me: "the part of the mind that maps neatly into
HOPC" may be equivalent to "the part of the mind open to conscious belief
revision". Many philosophies involve changes by means other than conscious
belief revision.

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