X-Message-Number: 21628
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 17:49:19 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Qualia and Upmorphing

Robert Ettinger, #21618, writes in part:

>If my guess about qualia is right, or even close, then the upmorphist view is
>not only unproven, but untenable. A quale, once more, may be a kind of
>standing wave in the brain, binding space and time. Certainly it could be
>described, hence an extreme upmorphist might claim it within bounds--but I
>don't know of a single person who holds the most extreme view, namely, that
>(say) a written description of a system and its evolution in time "is" the

Very roughly speaking (and noting that important clarifications are 
necessary), the upmorphist holds that "isomorphism is everything": any 
system should thus be completely equivalent to and interchangeable with its 
isomorphic image, whatever that image may be. It might be argued then that 
a universe with real history would be no different in any fundamental way 
from a (hypothetical) giant book with every event recorded in static form. 
You could match every actual event with an appropriate description in the 
record. Assuming the record is not over-rich, you could also go the other 
direction too, that is, match every event-description with a corresponding 
actual event to provide a full two-way correspondence. Yet intuition cries 
out. A static record simply *cannot* be equivalent to something actually 
happening--can it? Surely a book has no feeling!

As an answer to this conundrum (trying to be brief), I would first note 
that "there are isomorphisms and there are isomorphisms"--only what we 
should call the "right" isomorphism will establish what should be 
considered a full equivalence. In particular we want to map events in a 
reasonable way, one-to-one, between the two systems, with appropriate, 
corresponding properties holding. Second, it seems safe to say that a book 
recording all events in the universe could never be present in this very 
universe, so we should never have to deal with this question in 
full-blooded form. A book that records *some* events, and very detailed, is 
certainly a possibility, however. If detailed enough in the right ways I 
would, I think, concede that it described states of consciousness relative 
to a "frame of reference" (I call it that for want of a better term, hoping 
the meaning is clear) that is also described in the book. In a partial way, 
then, the book would be its own self-contained reality or universe, yet 
there would be no reason to concede that its characters were conscious in 
*our* universe, that is to say, relative to our frame of reference, 
something quite different from that of the book. Moreover, such a record 
could, at best, possess an acceptable isomorphism with only a limited 
portion of events in the world at large. So it could never substitute, 
mathematically or otherwise, for a would-be immortal who hopes to 
experience an infinite amount of subjective time and events.

Stretching our imaginations, however, we might envision a separate universe 
similar to ours in all respects (events and so on) that is somehow sidewise 
in time to us, and us to it, so that each reality would serve as a static 
record ("giant book") of the other. In this case it seems that a full 
isomorphism would be possible, and we could not distinguish one universe as 
"real" versus the other being "only a description." In a sense "we" could 
be said to inhabit both universes on an equal footing so that, in an 
important way, the two could be taken as one.

In summary, I think that for me a static representation of a time-evolving 
system (call it a "description") could, in very special, hypothetical 
instances be said to "be" the system. But, for the really important cases 
involving consciousness and feeling, this would happen, if at all, in ways 
that are probably unobservable. Yet, as I see it, the upmorphist view is 
not invalidated by the possibility of a non-standard modeling of time.

Mike Perry

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