RE: Rationality and altered states of consciousness

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Sep 16 2002 - 21:53:25 MDT

>Anyway, here's my latest attempt at
> defining rationality in a way that I think you'll like, Ben.

Sorry to disappoint but I'm going to nitpick a little ;)

> rationality: a force in the universe, specifically the BPT,

I do not think it's reasonable to call Bayes' Theorem a "force"!!

It's a mathematical theorem, a modeling tool, and an observed pattern in the
universe on many different scales...

> that is
> required for all nonaccidental successes to occur
> work: any nonaccidental success, where success is defined as the
> completion of a process
> Let U be the set of all processes in the Universe
> Let T be the proper subset of U that is equal to the set of all
> processes in U that work
> If x is a member of T, then x draws upon rationality

You have now created the problem of defining what "work" means, it seems to
me. Also of defining "completion."

Any subset of the universe that changes over time may be said to be carrying
out a "process". If the moon crashes into the sun, is this to be considered
rational? It's a process which comes to completion.... So by your
definition, it seems that yes, this is rational. But this doesn't accord
with my understanding of rationality at all...

> Rationality, the force, is different from rational thought, the
> consistent application of rationality in your mind. All thought draws
> upon rationality, but irrationality is often introduced into thought in
> human mind. Purely rational thought (and no one here claims to be
> capable of purely rational thought) would mean making all decisions
> following Bayesian decision theory.

Purely rational thought would mean making all decisions following
probability theory (including Bayes' theorem) *based on the universal
consisting of of all events in the entire universe*. But this is not
possible for any finite mind (even if the universe is finite, according to
Godel's Theorem).

For a finite mind, we can't talk about purely rational thought, only
maximally rational thought -- the closest to pure rationality that any
system can possibly come with a given finite experience base and finite set
of resources.

> As an aside, if you're curious why T is a proper subset of U, it is
> because the Universe is by default arational and, for example, the
> formation of stars and planets in no way draws upon rationality; all
> those successes were accidental. The Universe, as far as we know, did
> not set out with the goal of creating Earth.

Making T a proper subset of Universe does not achieve what you seem to think
it does. After all, the universe minus one molecule is a proper subset of

>I think that a person's work saving us from jumping through
> a few hoops will have far less impact than if that same person spent
> time working more directly towards the Singularity.

I think it depends a lot on the particular strengths of the person in

>In other words,
> leave the memetic battles to those like Kurzweil who are interested in
> not only SL4 technology.

Well, as it happens, I *am* interested in many things besides SL4
technology.... For example, pygmies, Russian literature, peculiar piano
chords, and cactus flesh and pot-bellied pigs. [And -- well, no I won't
even get into that, there may be minors on this list... ;->] So what???

>If you want the Singularity to happen you
> should be doing what you can to work towards it.

I personally AM, but I don't believe this is the optimal path for

-- Ben G

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