Thursday, June 25, 2015

Essays for and against MUH

I mentioned the FQXi essay contest winners, and here are a couple more.

French Canadian physicist Marc Séguin won one of the two second prizes with this:
My God, It’s Full of Clones: Living in a Mathematical Universe

Imagine there’s only math — physics is nothing more than mathematics, we are self-aware mathematical substructures, and our physical universe is nothing more than a mathematical structure “seen from the inside”. If that’s the case, I will argue that it implies the existence of the Maxiverse, the largest imaginable multiverse, where every possible conscious observation is guaranteed to happen. ...

In the end, I believe in the Maxiverse because it is the ultimate playground for the curious mind. Living forever… across wildly divergent realities… who could ask, literally, for anything more than the Maxiverse? And if I’m right, somewhere within its infinitely complex simplicity, one of my F-clones is having a drink with one of your F-clones, and we’re having a big laugh about it all. Cheers!
He endorses Max Tegmark's Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, and more. While Tegmark contradicts himself about whether he believes in infinity, Sequin believes that he exists in a infinite number of copies.

This is not even good science fiction.

Lee Smolin won a third prize, and after a lot of dopey comments, ends with:
In closing, I would like to mention two properties enjoyed by the physical universe which are not isomorphic to any property of a mathematical object.

1. In the real universe it is always some present moment, which is one of a succession of moments. Properties off mathematical objects, once evoked, are true independent of time.

2. The universe exists apart from being evoked by the human imagination, while mathematical objects do not exist before and apart from being evoked by human imagination.
The first property is silly. You can say that math objects are independent of time, just as you can say they are independent of space, temperature, energy, or any other physical property. Unless of course the math is interpreted as modeling those things, as they usually do in mathematical physics.

The second is just anti-Platonism. Many or most mathematicians believe that math objects like the real numbers do exist independently of humans.

1 comment:

  1. "Many or most mathematicians believe that math objects like the real numbers do exist independently of humans." This by definition is a type of platonic mysticism that harkens back to the worship of the Logos.

    I am so over the tired academic delusion that somehow Math magically transcends all time, space, reason, and human artifice, then at the same time gives the middle finger to philosophy. In fact Math is entirely the quantified child of philosophy, and it really shows, especially when the intentionally opaque interpretations mathematicians take and make are utterly dependent on the initial philosophical assumptions made centuries ago.