Re: Books on rationality

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sat Jun 08 2002 - 23:50:03 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> And how do you know there IS any material substrate? How do you know you're
> not in a simulation right now, which is running in another simulation, which
> is running in another simulation? You can't. The best you can do is have
> faith.
> You can say "I know this stone is real because I kick it and it hurts," but
> that could be the case in a simulation too, and the evil scientist running
> the simulation could switch it off in 5 seconds.
> This is elementary stuff, but realist philosophers don't seem to get it.
> This kind of denial of the obvious reminds me of religious doctrines, which
> is why realist philosophy often reminds me of a religion.

You don't have to instantly resort to faith every time you hit a stumbling
point. You pause. You wait. You ask yourself whether there's a way around
the stumbling point. The instantaneous resort to faith is not act of a
rational mind, it's the act of a mind that was looking for an excuse to
resort to faith. Rationality is not so easily balked.

And with that said... why would rationality have any trouble dealing with
the possibility that our universe is a computer simulation? How does the
proposed objective fact that our universe is a computer simulation in any
way obviate the notion of objective reality?

And how does faith help in the slightest?

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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