My studies are in Philosophy (I am a graduate of the University of Essex), and Ι work as a literary translator (English to Greek). Published translations of mine include works by E.A. Poe, R.L. Stevenson and H.P. Lovecraft. I sometimes post articles at

KyriakosCH's Comments

Sequence introduction: non-agent and multiagent models of mind

I wish to examine a point in the foundations of your post - to be more precise, a point which leads to the inevitable conclusion that it is not problematic in this discussion to use the term 'agent' while it is understood in a manner which allows a thermostat to qualify as an agent.

A thermostat certainly has triggers/sensors which force a reaction when a condition has been met. However to argue that this is akin to how a person is an agent is to argue that a rock supposedly "runs" the program known as gravity, when it falls. The issue is not a lack of parallels; it is a lack of undercurrent below the parallels (in a sense, this is causing the view that a thermostat is an agent, to be a 'leaking abstraction' as you put it). For we have to consider that no actual identification of change (be it through sense or thought or both) is possible when the entity identifying such change lacks the ability to translate it in a setting of its own. By translating I mean something readily evident in the case of human agents - not so evident in the case of ants or other relatively simpler creatures. If your room is on fire you identify this as a change from the normal, but this does not mean there is only one way to identify the changed situation. Someone living next to you will also identify that there is a fire, but chances are the (to use an analogy) code for that in their mind will differ very significantly from your own. Yet on some basic level you will be in agreement that there was a fire, and you had to leave.

Now an ant, another being which has life - unlike a thermostat - picks up changes in its environment. If you try to attack it it may go into panic mode. This, again, does not mean the act of attacking the ant is picked up as it is; it is once against translated, this time by the ant. How it translates it is not known, however it seems impossible to argue that it merely picks up the change as something set, some block of truth with the meaning 'change/danger' etc. It picks it up due to its ability (not conscious in the case of the ant) to identify something as set, and something as a change in that original set. A thermostat has no identification of anything set, because not being alive it has no power nor need to sense a starting condition, let alone to have inside it a vortex where translations of changes are formed.

All the above is why I firmly am against the view that "agent" is to be defined in a way that both a human and a thermostat can partake in it, when the discussion is about humans and involves that term.

On why mathematics appear to be non-cosmic

I do suspect that when things make sense it is because of a drive of the sense-making agent to further his/her understanding, but I think that unwittingly it is actually a self-understanding and not one of the cosmos. If the cosmos does make sense, it isn't making sense to some chance observer like a human who is at any rate a walking thinking mechanism and has very little consciousness of either his own mental cogs or the dynamics between his own thinking and anything external and non-human. That this allows for distinct and verifiable progress (eg, as noted in my OP, anything up to space-traveling vehicles) is not due to some supposed real tie between observer agent and cosmos, but due to inherent tie between observer and translation natural (and inescapable past some degree) to said observer of the cosmos.

Two labyrinths - where would you rather be?

I generally agree, and I am happy you found the discussion interesting :)

In my view, indeed the Babylonian type of labyrinth does promote continuous struggle, or at least multiple points of hope and focus on achieving a breakthrough, while ultimately a majority of the time they won't lead to anything - and couldn't have lead to anything in the first place. The Arabian type at least promotes a stable progression, towards an end - although that end may already be a bad one.

Most of the time we simply move in our labyrinth anyway. And with more theoretical goals it can be said that even a breakthrough is more of a fantasy borne out of the endless movement inside the maze.

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