• Nickolasgaspar
    722
    But knowledge needs a reference frame, a perspective, or a filter, to construct the empirical world withHaglund
    -Our empirical language and reasoning.

    -"The knowledge of these is not part of empirical knowledge."
    -Of course it is. Our symbolic language all the meaning and concepts within are developed by our interactions as toddlers with our environment.

    Without this a priori knowledge you wouldn't even be able to start the gathering.Haglund
    -Even our a priori predisposition to syntactic composition, numerical symbols etc are the product of thousands of years interacting with our empirical world. There is a reason why toddles and animals are startled by a cucumber laying on the floor instead by a tomato....
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    You seem to be describing.....
    — Harry Hindu

    Good that it only seems.
    Mww
    Seem: to give the impression of being; To appear to be probable or evident.

    If it isn't how it seems, then maybe you should explain what you see the difference between belief and knowledge as being, instead of being sarcastic? But if sarcasm is all you have then that is sad, not good.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Acquisition of what amounts to a measurement of an unmeasurable thing is of little concern to me. Not being a realist, I don’t give meaning to realist statements like “there are X many universes”, be X 0, 1, some other number, finite or otherwise. My universe is confined to a limited distance. That’s a relation relative to any given event (physics definition) in my life.noAxioms

    Hmm. It seems strange to say that you are not a realist when you've been engaged with me in this conversation for some time now. Is it your belief that I only exist when you are reading my posts? Is it your belief that I am only a post on an internet philosophy forum and not a real human being even though you have never seen me? Do you only exist when I read your posts?

    You're the one that brought other universes into the discussion, no?

    Is 2+2=4 a realist statement? Is it conditionally true only if either quantity is real or there are real things that can be quantified, or is it unconditionally true even without there being anything real to count? I can make it a little harder by picking a non-integer since it eliminates the relevance of just counting things.noAxioms
    Now I'm not really sure by what you mean as "realist". I am a direct realist when it comes to the mind and an indirect realist when it comes to the world. Our minds are of the world and about the world, thanks to causation (information).

    Math and language are approximations of the world and about the world thanks to causation (information). As you pointed out, math problems like dividing by three gives you a an infinite regress answer. Our present goal in the mind determines how many significant digits we use (how close the approximation needs to be) to accomplish that goal. Is the goal to divide the last piece of pie among three people equally, or is the goal getting a spacecraft to Mars?

    I see the reality as like an analog signal and our minds are digital interpretations of that analog signal. Our minds need to categorize the world to make sense of it to accomplish even the most basic goals.

    Tegmark listed four different ways to do that. His first is the kind I referenced above, a set of finite sized hyperspheres that overlap, separated only by distance. That’s four different ways to define a cat.
    I’m the first to admit that defining a word is a human language thing. It isn’t a physics thing at all. What delimits the cat from the not-cat? At exactly what point does the cat and food system become just cat?
    In Dr Who, a character had a teleport device strapped to his wrist. Hit the button and you’re suddenly somewhere else. My immediate (no hesitation) reaction to that was to ask how it knew what was you and what wasn’t. In terminator it was a nice define sphere and if your foot was outside that line, it doesn’t go with you. But the wrist device needed to know apparently that the clothes needed to go with you, but not say the post against which you’re leaning, despite the post being closer to the device than many of your body parts. It really bothered me, never mind the whole impossibility of the device in the first place, which I readily accept as a plot device.
    noAxioms
    So we can't determine whose posts are whose on this forum? I have often thought about it the way you are describing it but I eventually come back to the idea that there must be some kind of distinction between objects that does not only exist in our minds.

    Sure there exists similarities in all animals, but there are clear differences too. It depends on what you are comparing. When trying to explain how life evolved there will probably some issues in distinguishing a non-living cell from a living cell, but there is surely a difference between a cat and a fish that does not simply exist in our minds.

    It seems to me that similarities and differences exist not as a product of our minds, but as a result of similar or different causes, which are not necessarily mental.

    If categories only exist in our minds does that mean that every organism is unique (there is only one of everything) and we can share similarities as a result of common causes, or does that mean that there are no boundaries and there is only one thing (reality, mind, etc.) and there are no individuals? The latter seems to imply solipsism.

    I’d have said that abstract is abstract and there is no cat until something names/models it. The word cat is strictly a mental construction. So are atoms if you come right down to it, but at least atom has a physics definition that the cat lacks. I’m not asserting anything here, just giving my thoughts.noAxioms
    Then what are we naming or modeling? There is something that we are naming and the naming refers to the similarities of particular organisms. I don't think the similarities and differences are products of our minds. Categories are useful most of the time and are only challenged when we find things that challenge the boundaries. But those are few and far between, which must mean something. It means that similar causes leave similar effects, but every cause is unique. Similarity and uniqueness are not contradictions. You can share characteristics of others thanks to your similar causes but you are also an individual in space-time accumulating your own life experiences.

    The lies have a huge bearing on my ability to survive. So it must be the rational beliefs, far more likely to be true, that have no bearing. I’d say they do, but the rational side isn’t in charge, but instead has a decent advisory role for matters where the boss hasn’t a strong opinion. Fermi paradox solution: Any sufficiently advanced race eventually puts its rational side sufficiently in charge to cease being fit.noAxioms
    If you are able to say that they are lies, then you obviously know what the truth is is yet you are still able to survive. How is that?

    It seems to me that the ability to adapt to a wide range of environments is a result of our our rational side (science and technology). Being able to survive in a wide range of environments, and potentially all environments, is about as fit as you can get.

    I have to admit that the rational side is like an engineer, not having goals of its own, but rather is something called upon to better meet the goals of its employer, even in cases where the goals are based on known lies. But I’m not sure whose goals you think are not being realized. They’re working on ‘live forever’.noAxioms
    Then the engineer has the goal of meeting the goals of its employer, or of having an income to support themselves and their family, which are not lies, but are actual states-of-affairs in the world. When you lie, you have the goal of misleading others or yourself. To be capable of lying you must know the truth.
  • noAxioms
    979
    Hmm. It seems strange to say that you are not a realist when you've been engaged with me in this conversation for some time now.Harry Hindu
    Realists are not the only ones who claim the ability to communicate.

    Keep in mind that I am expressing a view, not a belief. I'm not asserting that my way is the truth, and thus technically I am not asserting that all of the things I qualify as 'lies' are actually false. But they have serious problems that seem more substantial than with alternative views. So I'm not evangelizing my pet theory, but rather looking for feedback to help find the holes in it. In that capacity, this conversation is a big help. I suppose to fully describe what I've worked out, it would need to be explained in more detail and these posts are just a pragmatic rough sketch. The details are harder to discuss in natural language since a sort of B-speak would be necessary which avoids not only references to the present, but also to persistent identity, and that gets cumbersome. So anyway, the rudiments of a relational take on things:

    You exist relative to me. It’s a relation born of measurement, at least in this universe. It is not a function episemology. There are billions of people I don't know which nevertheless exist relative to me.
    Being a non-realist means that the property of being real (existence) is undefined. Relations are not affected by the meaningless property. There is precedent. People have no problem saying a unicorn has a horn on its head despite the lack of existence of the horn, or running a simulation of a car hitting a wall to measure its safety properties despite the lack of existence of the car. The unicorn horn exists relative to the unicorn despite their lack of the meaningless property. I don’t exist to the unicorn since it doesn't measure me.

    It’s something like the Rovelli view, except I’ve seen it expressed that it implies a sort of momentary ontology where a system exists only at the moments in which it is measured, and not between, but the moon is quite there (relative to us) when not being looked at. For one thing, it is pretty impossible to not continuously measure the moon, and for another thing, you can’t un-measure a thing, so the moon once measured exists to all humans, even humans that might not exist relative to me say in some other world.

    Humans/life forms play no special role in this. It isn’t about epistemology. You always existed relative to me long before either of us posted on any forum. We exist relative to my mug since it too has measured us, despite the fact that the mug doesn’t know it. Any interaction whatsoever is a measurement, so the only way to avoid it is by isolation by distance or Schrodinger’s box and such.

    Simple exercise: With begging the opposing view that being real is necessary for A to relate to B, design a device that can detect if it is real or not. It’s kind of similar to asking the presentist to design a device that measures the rate of advancement of the present, an absolute clock of sorts. Thing is, there’s no empirical difference between the rate changing by say a factor of 100, or stopping altogether. Absent an empirical test, assertions about the reality of the posited thing (the present) is superfluous. Likewise, being real seems to be superfluous to empirical observations, so dismissing it opens different options for consideration.

    You're the one that brought other universes into the discussion, no?
    But I hopefully didn’t go so far as to suggest that these other universes exist. I'd have expressed that our universe doesn’t exist relative to them, and they don’t exist relative to us.

    Is 2+2=4 a realist statement? Is it conditionally true only if either quantity is real or there are real things that can be quantified, or is it unconditionally true even without there being anything real to count?
    — noAxioms
    Now I'm not really sure by what you mean as "realist". I am a direct realist when it comes to the mind and an indirect realist when it comes to the world. Our minds are of the world and about the world, thanks to causation (information).
    For one, that’s more specific than the typical description. ‘Realist’ is an adjective of sorts and the word on its own doesn’t say what you’re realist about. My big beef against realism is how one explains the reality of whatever one considers real. So the deist types just add a layer to the ‘cause of the universe’ but fail to explain the existence of the deity vs the nonexistence of same.

    OK, about the 2+2=4 thing: This is probably the shakiest part of my view: Is the sum of (just to pick a non-counting example) 3.600517 and 12.8119 objectively equal to 16.412417 or is it contingent on instantiation of those values somehow somewhere, on say a calculator adding those specific values. The latter would require the thing performing the calculation to be more fundamental (it would exist, relative to the sum) than the sum of the value. I propose otherwise. I suggest the sum is 16.412417 even in the absence of anything calculating that particular operation or two objects of those dimensions somehow being combined, or in particular, even in the absence even of the meaning of something being objectively real (e.g. ‘nothing’ is a meaningful objective state of reality, so I don’t suggest ‘there is nothing’). From this premise (that mathematics doesn’t require instantiation to be valid), I can build our universe. There are other hurdles, but that’s been one that bothers me.

    As you pointed out, math problems like dividing by three gives you an infinite regress answer.
    That’s just a decimal representation of a third. A number is a number, regardless of the impossibility to express that number precisely in any conceivable representation. I mean, pi is a number expressible with a single character, but most real numbers cannot be expressed exactly. This doesn’t affect the number itself, it just affects the ability of it to be physically represented.

    Our present goal in the mind determines how many significant digits we use (how close the approximation needs to be) to accomplish that goal. Is the goal to divide the last piece of pie among three people equally, or is the goal getting a spacecraft to Mars?
    My goal doesn’t involve anybody or anything actually performing a calculation. That would make the truth of 2+2=4 contingent on the thing doing the adding. A simulation does such calculations, and yes, they’d be approximate. I’m not talking about a simulation, which is just a sub-structure implemented on a deeper structure, all very much like the deity-universe relationship.

    So we can't determine whose posts are whose on this forum?
    On what statement of mine did you conclude something like that? Done correctly, the quotes are signed.

    there is surely a difference between a cat and a fish that does not simply exist in our minds.
    I wasn’t talking about the difference between a cat and something similar to a cat. I’m talking about the boundaries of a specific cat or river or whatever. Which atoms belong to the cat and which do not, and precisely when does that designation change? Physics doesn’t care about it. It is just a language thing. But build a physical device that say cleans a cat and you’ll have to define the boundary to a point so it doesn’t waste it’s time grooming the carrier or something.

    There is something that we are naming and the naming refers to the similarities of particular organisms. I don't think the similarities and differences are products of our minds.
    With organisms, not, it isn’t just a mental thing. Two eukaryotic organisms are the same species if they can produce fertile offspring together. It gets harder to distinguish different species of organism that reproduce via mitosis.
    We are getting seriously off topic here.

    If you are able to say that they are lies, then you obviously know what the truth is is yet you are still able to survive. How is that?
    Because the part in charge doesn’t believe the ideas that the rational part comes up with. The boss very much believes the lies and the rational part is fine with the goals that come from them. Mostly...

    It seems to me that the ability to adapt to a wide range of environments is a result of our our rational side (science and technology).
    No immediate argument, but * rant warning * I do notice that we rationally can see the environmental damage being done, but the parts in charge do not. For all we pride ourselves in being this superior race, we act less intelligent than bacteria in a limited petri dish of nutrients. The bacteria at least don’t see the problem. We do and we (temporarily at least) have all this technology at our disposal, and don’t do anything different than the bacteria. * end rant *

    Being able to survive in a wide range of environments, and potentially all environments, is about as fit as you can get.
    Being able to sustain that ability would make us far more fit. So far, from the point of view of the planet, we’re just another pandemic, an extinction event. The first one (Oxygen Catastrophe) never went away and resulted in astonishing complexity that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred. If I could name a goal for the human race, it is to do that sort of thing again. Move to the next level instead of collapse back down to pre-bronze-age conditions.

    In order to lie you must know the truth.
    I suppose, yes, but it's still a falsehood despite lack of deliberate deceit by any willed entity.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    You exist relative to me. It’s a relation born of measurement, at least in this universe. It is not a function episemology. There are billions of people I don't know which nevertheless exist relative to me.
    Being a non-realist means that the property of being real (existence) is undefined. Relations are not affected by the meaningless property. There is precedent. People have no problem saying a unicorn has a horn on its head despite the lack of existence of the horn, or running a simulation of a car hitting a wall to measure its safety properties despite the lack of existence of the car. The unicorn horn exists relative to the unicorn despite their lack of the meaningless property. I don’t exist to the unicorn since it doesn't measure me.
    noAxioms
    It comes down to what you mean by "exist". Imaginings exist in the same way non-imagined things exist. They are both real in the sense that they have causal power. The imagining of a unicorn (mental states) can cause a human to use colored ink and paper to form an image of a unicorn on it (physical states). The difference between an known thing and an imagined thing is that one is understood to represent things whose existence is not dependent on a mind and the other's existence is completely dependent upon a mind. An imagined thing is not a representation of anything. It is a thing in and of itself. The word, "unicorn", or a piece of paper with colored ink would be the representation of a unicorn in and of itself.

    It’s something like the Rovelli view, except I’ve seen it expressed that it implies a sort of momentary ontology where a system exists only at the moments in which it is measured, and not between, but the moon is quite there (relative to us) when not being looked at. For one thing, it is pretty impossible to not continuously measure the moon, and for another thing, you can’t un-measure a thing, so the moon once measured exists to all humans, even humans that might not exist relative to me say in some other world.

    Humans/life forms play no special role in this. It isn’t about epistemology. You always existed relative to me long before either of us posted on any forum. We exist relative to my mug since it too has measured us, despite the fact that the mug doesn’t know it. Any interaction whatsoever is a measurement, so the only way to avoid it is by isolation by distance or Schrodinger’s box and such.
    noAxioms
    This is the really mind-bending part. In what way does some system exist independent of it being measured? If any interaction is a measurement and humans/lifeforms are not special in this role, then the Moon and Earth existed prior to humans as a measurement? Are you saying that it is measurements, or relations, all the way down, and are what is real or exists? Any system is a relation between its constituents and the constituents are also systems. It seems like an infinite regress, but it could also be that reality is infinite and eternal.

    My big beef against realism is how one explains the reality of whatever one considers real.noAxioms
    Is your beef against realism a real state-of-affairs that can be explained? I understand your explanation (your use of scribbles) to not be the actual beef you have against realism but the explanation of such and that your beef against realism is a real state-of-affairs that I can only be aware of by your use of scribbles, with your scribbles being the effect of your beef with realism and your intent to explain just that. So, am I correct in my assumption that your explanation is of a real state-of-affairs (that you have a beef with realism) that is true despite if you had explained it or not, or even if I believed your explanation or not?

    OK, about the 2+2=4 thing: This is probably the shakiest part of my view: Is the sum of (just to pick a non-counting example) 3.600517 and 12.8119 objectively equal to 16.412417 or is it contingent on instantiation of those values somehow somewhere, on say a calculator adding those specific values.noAxioms
    The answer to the question of if values added together objectively equals another value seems to be proved by finding those values in the universe independent of the scribbles we use to represent those values - meaning that values can't be just other scribbles. What is the relationship between the scribbles. 3.600517 and 12.8119 and 16.412417? Why is there a relationship at all? There must be something going on inside the calculator that forms a relationship between them that is more than just the rearranging of scribbles.Why does the calculator always display 16.412417 when pressing specific buttons in a specific order on a calculator?

    My goal doesn’t involve anybody or anything actually performing a calculation. That would make the truth of 2+2=4 contingent on the thing doing the adding.noAxioms
    Your goal doesn't perform the calculation. It determines what kind of values and the calculations, or measurements that you will use, as well as how specific you need your measurement to be successful in achieving your goal. The success or failure of your goal is dependent upon those values and calculations being representative of some actual state-of-affairs or not, and not just being some scribbles being rearranged in your head at whim.

    On what statement of mine did you conclude something like that? Done correctly, the quotes are signed.noAxioms
    This:
    I wasn’t talking about the difference between a cat and something similar to a cat. I’m talking about the boundaries of a specific cat or river or whatever. Which atoms belong to the cat and which do not, and precisely when does that designation change? Physics doesn’t care about it. It is just a language thing. But build a physical device that say cleans a cat and you’ll have to define the boundary to a point so it doesn’t waste it’s time grooming the carrier or something.noAxioms
    Which scribbles belong to you and which belong to me, and why? It seems that physics is what explains how some scribble is yours and which are mine by causation. If it were just a language thing, then I can simply rearrange quotes, and some of your posts would be mine. What is plagiarism?

    Doesn't the fact that I can design a physical device that isn't a human being but possesses sensors like a human being that can determine the boundary of a cat in the same way a human can, mean something? It must have something to do with both of us having sensors and what those sensors were designed to sense (a boundary) that exists independently of the representations of those boundaries in the human mind.

    Because the part in charge doesn’t believe the ideas that the rational part comes up with. The boss very much believes the lies and the rational part is fine with the goals that come from them. Mostly...noAxioms
    If the rational part is fine with the goals, then the rational part must share the goals because the rational part must realize that the boss and itself are part of the same being that the outcomes of their behaviors affects them both. Then the rational part doesn't seem rational at all if it doesn't at least attempt to overthrow the boss when it determines that the boss is making the wrong decision that will impede their natural and social fitness.

    No immediate argument, but * rant warning * I do notice that we rationally can see the environmental damage being done, but the parts in charge do not. For all we pride ourselves in being this superior race, we act less intelligent than bacteria in a limited petri dish of nutrients. The bacteria at least don’t see the problem. We do and we (temporarily at least) have all this technology at our disposal, and don’t do anything different than the bacteria. * end rant *noAxioms
    This is not specific to humans. Alpha-males in most species are fine with maintaining the status-quo where they maintain their power and access to resources and mates at the expense of everyone else in the group.
  • noAxioms
    979
    It comes down to what you mean by "exist".Harry Hindu
    Well under the relational view, it’s defined as a relation. Pretty sure I spelled that out before. X exists relative to Y. If you want to get down and dirty, the relation seems to depend on the nature of the structure defining X and Y. So for instance, in this universe it seems that quantum decoherence defines X to Y: Y measures X when information of X leaks to Y. But quantum rules hardly apply in a system without quantum mechanics, or even causal physics, so for instance 3 is less than 5 and thus 3 and 5 mutually exist in relation to each other. That one is not a temporal relation.

    The difference between an known thing and an imagined thing is that one is understood to represent things whose existence is not dependent on a mind and the other's existence is completely dependent upon a mind.
    The point of the unicorn example was to show that expression of such relations is commonplace. I picked a unicorn because it exemplifies a thing lacking the property of existence. I’m talking about a unicorn, and not the abstraction or representation of one.

    This is the really mind-bending part. In what way does some system exist independent of it being measured?
    Your wording uses ‘exist’ as a property, and is thus meaningless in the relational view. In short, using quantum rules, a thing doesn’t exist relative to Y if Y hasn’t measured it, and thus there is no existence relative to Y in the absence of measurement. A photon ‘in flight’ for instance isn’t measured by anything. It is probably the number one example of a counterfactual. Existence of an unmeasured photon is denied pretty much by any non-counterfactual interpretation of physics. Not so with a classical pulse of light, but such a pulse has been measured.

    If any interaction is a measurement and humans/lifeforms are not special in this role, then the Moon and Earth existed prior to humans as a measurement?
    Relative to what? Question is meaningless without that.

    Are you saying that it is measurements, or relations, all the way down, and are what is real or exists?
    Relations all the way down, yes. Exists no, since that isn’t a relation. No, I’m not saying relations are ‘real’.
    Any system is a relation between its constituents and the constituents are also systems. It seems like an infinite regress
    Not infinite. There’s only finite stuff that exists relative to me for instance, all of it in my past light cone.

    Is your beef against realism a real state-of-affairs that can be explained?
    Not being a realist, my ‘beef’ does not have the property of being real, but it’s real to me.

    So, am I correct in my assumption that your explanation is of a real state-of-affairs (that you have a beef with realism) that is true despite if you had explained it or not, or even if I believed your explanation or not?
    It being categorized as ‘real’ is meaningless (not even wrong). It is real to me, and also to you regardless of my having explained it or not. Explaining it just changes some epistemology, but the measurement was unavoidable since there’s no practical way for the two of us to isolate from each other.

    What is the relationship between the scribbles. 3.600517 and 12.8119 and 16.412417? Why is there a relationship at all? There must be something going on inside the calculator that forms a relationship between them that is more than just the rearranging of scribbles.
    I don’t like the talk of scribbles since I’m not in any way suggesting that the numbers require representation in any way in order for them to relate in this way. To sink the view you’d have to show that the relationship is necessarily only formed by some process in the calculator or some other instantiation, and I don’t think that can be demonstrated. Lack of ability to demonstrate this doesn’t prove the view, but most views such as this are interpretations, not provable theorems.

    Your goal doesn't perform the calculation. It determines what kind of values and the calculations, or measurements that you will use, as well as how specific you need your measurement to be successful in achieving your goal.
    Nothing needs to calculate or quantify anything. This is sort of an exercise in logic, finding a view consistent or somehow self-contradictory.

    The success or failure of your goal is dependent upon those values and calculations being representative of some actual state-of-affairs or not, and not just being some scribbles being rearranged in your head at whim.
    Both cases seem to constitute instantiation. If a state of affairs is actual (real), then the sum seems contingent on that reality. If it is just scribbles, then it is contingent on being represented somewhere. I want the sum to be what it is without any of this, for the sum to be objectively this one value, not contingent on anything. I don’t see why 2+2 isn’t 4 until being instantiated, so I consider the suggesting of it being an objectively true relation isn’t immediately falsified on logical grounds.

    If it were just a language thing, then I can simply rearrange quotes, and some of your posts would be mine. What is plagiarism?
    I say it is just a language thing, without which there would be no defined ‘you’ to rearrange quotes. Indeed, there is no meaning to plagiarism in physics without definitions of system boundaries.

    Doesn't the fact that I can design a physical device that isn't a human being but possesses sensors like a human being that can determine the boundary of a cat in the same way a human can, mean something?
    It’s actually pretty hard to do. Closest I can think is a self driving car which needs to glean objects and then sort out which ones are potentially mobile. The cars still get it wrong sometimes.

    Mostly...
    — noAxioms
    If the rational part is fine with the goals, then the rational part must share the goals because the rational part must realize that the boss and itself are part of the same being that the outcomes of their behaviors affects them both.
    — Harry Hindu
    Mostly...

    Then the rational part doesn't seem rational at all if it doesn't at least attempt to overthrow the boss when it determines that the boss is making the wrong decision that will impede their natural and social fitness.
    Well that’s what it’s there for, so of course.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    The point of the unicorn example was to show that expression of such relations is commonplace. I picked a unicorn because it exemplifies a thing lacking the property of existence. I’m talking about a unicorn, and not the abstraction or representation of one.noAxioms
    But how can you talk about something that doesn't exist? As I said before, it can't be a representation if what it "represents" doesn't exist. It is the thing itself and "unicorn" the word is the representation of the abstraction. Yes, you are talking about unicorns, and unicorns only exist as abstractions. Abstractions are the relation between various sensory impressions. Unicorns are an abstract amalgam of horses and horns. We can only ever talk about our ideas and mental states. Whether those ideas and mental states are representative of other things is a different question. I don't see a difference in the idea of existence for abstractions or non-abstractions for they both have the causal power and I defined existence as having causal power.

    Now that seems like what you are talking about here:
    X exists relative to Y. If you want to get down and dirty, the relation seems to depend on the nature of the structure defining X and Y. So for instance, in this universe it seems that quantum decoherence defines X to Y: Y measures X when information of X leaks to Y.noAxioms
    Then the structure for defining X and Y is prior to the relation of X and Y? How does this structure exist as a relation to what? And when I ask how does it exist, I'm asking how does it have causal power as in causing a relation between X and Y?

    Your wording uses ‘exist’ as a property, and is thus meaningless in the relational view. In short, using quantum rules, a thing doesn’t exist relative to Y if Y hasn’t measured it, and thus there is no existence relative to Y in the absence of measurement. A photon ‘in flight’ for instance isn’t measured by anything. It is probably the number one example of a counterfactual. Existence of an unmeasured photon is denied pretty much by any non-counterfactual interpretation of physics. Not so with a classical pulse of light, but such a pulse has been measured.noAxioms
    It seems to me that a relation is a type of property.

    Do relations exist? If so, then relative to what?

    If any interaction is a measurement and humans/lifeforms are not special in this role, then the Moon and Earth existed prior to humans as a measurement?
    Relative to what? Question is meaningless without that.
    noAxioms
    Relative to each other. So for the Moon to exist it must have a relation with something, say the Earth, and this relation existed before humans, right? If humans are not special in this role then you don't necessarily need an observer for quantum decoherence. You just need other relations, no?

    Are you saying that it is measurements, or relations, all the way down, and are what is real or exists?
    Relations all the way down, yes. Exists no, since that isn’t a relation. No, I’m not saying relations are ‘real’.noAxioms
    :gasp:
    So relations are like unicorns?

    There’s only finite stuff that exists relative to me for instance, all of it in my past light cone.noAxioms
    Yeah, but that stuff exists relative to other stuff, not just you. It also existed before you and will continue to exist after you, no? Or are you saying that all other relations of things other than with you do not exist when you don't? That would be solipsism.

    It being categorized as ‘real’ is meaningless (not even wrong). It is real to me, and also to you regardless of my having explained it or not.noAxioms

    Not being a realist, my ‘beef’ does not have the property of being real, but it’s real to me.noAxioms
    But I am a realist. So now what? You like to postulate other universes when you don't believe that there actually are. Is it so hard for you to pretend that maybe you're not an anti-realist? You say 'real' has no meaning and then go on to categorize your beef as being real and existing as a relation with you.

    Our conversation is unraveling quickly. What is meaningless is your use of language.
    It’s actually pretty hard to do. Closest I can think is a self driving car which needs to glean objects and then sort out which ones are potentially mobile. The cars still get it wrong sometimes.noAxioms
    Not really. My iRobot vacuum cleaner seems to locate the walls of the house just fine and never tries to clean the outside. It also seems to sense areas that are more dirty as it focuses on cleaning those areas and then moved to other areas when done.

    I can also program a computer to send me e-mails when its temperature or power consumption reaches a certain threshold.

    Basic sensors can be designed to detect basic boundaries. Boundaries can be stable or dynamic, like in your driving car example. Dynamic boundaries I would agree are more difficult to manage.

    I don’t like the talk of scribbles since I’m not in any way suggesting that the numbers require representation in any way in order for them to relate in this way.noAxioms
    Scribbles don't necessarily represent anything. That is the difference between what makes a scribble a number or word and not just a scribble. So are 2 and 4 scribbles or numbers? If they are scribbles then asking if any relationship between them is objectively true is a silly question. If they are numbers, then they represent something.
  • noAxioms
    979
    This discussion started out with a relevant comment about a priori knowledge that 2+2=4 or some such, and while that point is still on the table, things have certainly evolved into a side discussion (for which I’m massively grateful since you’re at least trying to hear me out). I don’t know if mods here are in the habit of splitting off side discussions. I see such sidetracks happening in many lengthy threads, so I suspect it isn’t site policy to split. Some sites split topics given even a hint of discussion not directly related to the OP.
    I see little evidence of active mod activity on this site, but I also see a delicious absence of true trolls here, so maybe I’m just not privy to the silent but deadly actions being taken.
    I’m a mod myself on another forum (not a philosophy site) and have split my share of topics, and that site indeed seems to be a troll (and spam) magnet.

    Sorry for the long post, but more details are needed to answer at least the one question.

    But how can you talk about something that doesn't exist?Harry Hindu
    I didn’t say it doesn’t exist. I said that there is no meaning to ‘X exists’ or ‘X doesn’t exist’. It puts us and the unicorn on equal footing. To the unicorn, I don’t exist, so all nice and symmetrical.
    Continuing to use language that presumes realism is inhibits the ability to discuss a view that doesn’t. I looked at nihilism, but it seems to give meaning to such a property, but asserts that nothing has it. So it gives meaning to ‘exists’, but then says nothing exists. So I’m not a nihilist. I cannot find a reference to what I’m describing.

    It is the thing itself and "unicorn" the word is the representation of the abstraction.
    Agree with that.

    unicorns only exist as abstractions.
    Under a relational view, this statement is not even wrong. It references a realist bias (that there is a property of ‘exists’ and we have it and unicorns do not, making us real and not the unicorn). Step one is to drop that bias, because the view needs to be driven to contradiction without resorting to it.

    If you want to get down and dirty, the relation seems to depend on the nature of the structure defining X and Y. So for instance, in this universe it seems that quantum decoherence defines X to Y: Y measures X when information of X leaks to Y.
    — noAxioms
    Then the structure for defining X and Y is prior to the relation of X and Y? How does this structure exist as a relation to what?
    — Harry Hindu
    Much better question. Yes, it is a structure, and if that’s what you mean by infinite regression, there isn’t infinite regression. The structure, if not a sub-structure of something deeper, doesn’t exist relative to anything.
    The view is a mix of Tegmarks mathematical universe hypothesis (MUH, mathematical structures being fundamental, but without the ontology suggested), Everett’s relative state formulation (RSF, also known as MWI: one universal wave function, making it a mathematical structure) with no wave function collapse, and Rovelli’s relational view (RQM), which is mostly just RSF with different ontology including collapse. RSF has a single postulate: “All isolated systems evolve according to the Schrodinger equation”. This doesn’t mention ontology at all, but somehow MWI evolved into somethings that suggests the existence of the universal wave function. MUH similarly suggests that various mathematical structures ‘exist’, and heated discussions ensue over exactly what ‘breathes the fire of existence’ into one structure and not another, which is exactly the sort of problem I'm trying to avoid.

    I bring all this up for terminology purposes. Level 1 is universes separated by physical distance (visible universes). Level 2 comes from inflation bubbles that have different physical constants like multiple dimensions of time and field strengths that don’t allow particles to form and such. Level 3 is other worlds per MWI. Level 4 is unrelated structures, of which I have a few choice examples. All of these ‘universes’ are inaccessible to us, hence (in relational terminology) don’t exist relative to our Earth.
    The first three of these levels are part of the same quantum structure, so that one structure encompasses all these different components.
    I think that’s an important point since the relation between them is more like the relation between 3 and 5 and not a relation of Y measures X. So all the components of a structure are related as being a member of the whole, which is very different from the concept of an ‘existence’ relation which involves measurement and only applies to temporal structures with causal physics.

    Some of my pet examples:
    1) The Mandelbrot set is an oft-cited example of a non-temporal two-dimensional structure in the complex plain. It is complex, beautiful, but not being a causal structure, there’s no measurement going on. I’d say that Mandelbrot discovered the set, not that he created it. It can be independently discovered by anybody without any specific empirical observation, hence is a priori knowledge. The parts of the set relate to each other in a member-of relationship. Value X is a member of the set. Value Y is not.

    2) The set of all possible chess states, including move history. This is not in any way to be confused with a game being played. This is a temporal structure and serves as a wonderful analogy to wave function collapse. The structure is finite: There is a maximum length possible game something on the order of 5 thousand moves. It is temporal: It starts at some initial state, and time is measured by half-moves (one move is a move by both white & black). Each state has one prior parent state and several child states. This is thus a causal structure of sorts. Each state can only be caused by its parent. Relative to any position Y1, the parent X exists but the sibling states (Y<n>) do not exist, so each move effectively collapses the ‘wave function’ of how the game can possibly further proceed, all very much like alternate futures disappearing from our existence into other worlds under MWI. All the states still relate to each other with the ‘member of the structure’ relation, which I think I’m going to need to name.

    3) Conway’s game of life (GoL) is a fairly classic and crude analogy to our physics. It has one dimension of time and two of space (there are versions with more), a speed of light, and causality. It is a counterfactual structure unlike quantum physics, so it is unclear how a ‘measures’ relation might be expressed. It is complex enough to simulate itself, which is more than I can say about our physics. It lacks a specific initial condition, so each initial state defines a different structure.

    And when I ask how does it exist, I'm asking how does it have causal power as in causing a relation between X and Y?
    Causal powers are inherent in the structure properties. It’s real obvious in the GoL example. Any defined state defines all the subsequent state in the same way that 2+2 determines the sum 4 despite the lack of any calculator instantiating the sum.

    Do relations exist?
    There are views that are realist about relations. I’m trying to avoid being realist about anything, so no, it is not meaningful to discuss the existence of relations except as relations to its relata. Yea, I suppose ‘measures X’ can be thought of as a property of Y.

    the Moon and Earth existed prior to humans as a measurement?
    Relative to what? Question is meaningless without that. — noAxioms
    Relative to each other.[/quote]
    Think MWI here. The moon seems a direct result of a specific Theia event. So some worlds have a moon, and yes, it orbits what can be named Earth. Some worlds have a different Theia event leaving a much different Earth any different moon or no moon. Relative to a world where the Theia impact did not occur, there is probably still something that is the future version of what had become our Earth in our world. Some (most) worlds don’t have our solar system at all. Some worlds have unicorns on them, but probably not human maidens to adopt them. The ones with unicorns (evolved from the same primitive live as did we) very much have a moon in their sky. The exact same Theia event exists relative to the unicorn as it does to us. The branching of worlds that cumulated in those two states most certainly occurred. It’s like two very different chess game states (one with (horny) knights still on the board, one with only bishops) both sharing a common first dozen moves.

    So for the Moon to exist it must have a relation with something, say the Earth, and this relation existed before humans, right?
    Yes, our prehistoric Earth is related to our prehistoric moon. They very much measure each other, in a Bang-Ding-Ow way (I hope you get that reference).

    If humans are not special in this role then you don't necessarily need an observer for quantum decoherence. You just need other relations, no?
    With the exception of one (Wigner) interpretation that was so unpopular that it was abandoned by its creator, decoherence or wave function collapse has absolutely nothing to do specifically with humans or consciousness of any kind.

    There’s only finite stuff that exists relative to me for instance, all of it in my past light cone.
    — noAxioms
    Yeah, but that stuff exists relative to other stuff, not just you.
    — Harry Hindu
    That it does. Some of it exists relative to the unicorns, as I spelled out above, but nothing particularly recent.

    It also existed before you and will continue to exist after you, no?
    Relative to say my mailbox after I’m gone, stuff that was in my past light cone will be in its past light cone, so yes. I assumed the name noAxioms, but I do hold a few axioms that are not necessarily self evident or true, but without which no progress can be made. These include that my sensory input is not a lie. If I’m being fed fiction (evil BiV scenario), then I have zero knowledge and cannot help getting it wrong, sort of like the N Koreans. (Two Korean references in the same post, wow). I also assume humans are not in any way special. That path leads to a different dark hole.

    Or are you saying that all other relations of things other than with you do not exist when you don't? That would be solipsism.
    Yea, it would. The Wigner interpretation mentioned above can be driven to solipsism, which is why Wigner abandoned it.

    But I am a realist. So now what?
    Now you punch holes in my idea.

    You like to postulate other universes when you don't believe that there actually are.
    Same with the unicorns, but I don’t postulate their existence, I just reference them. Yet again, it is meaningless to talk about if they actually are or are not. Lacking the meaning of the property, the other universe is on no more or less stable ground than this one. That’s the beauty of it.

    Is it so hard for you to pretend that maybe you're not an anti-realist? You say 'real' has no meaning and then go on to categorize your beef as being real and existing as a relation with you.
    Which is different than any of that just existing.

    Our conversation is unraveling quickly. What is meaningless is your use of language.
    I’m trying. Part of the problem is that most basic assumptions are part of the language, such as all the verb tenses that presume presentism. It’s all very pragmatic, but not so useful when it gets in the way of understanding a different point of view. So other than my continued nattering about using existence, ‘is’, or being real in an objective way, please point specific points out where my language gets in the way.

    That is the difference between what makes a scribble a number or word and not just a scribble. So are 2 and 4 scribbles or numbers?[/quote]I’m talking about the latter. What is written down is a representation, an abstraction of sorts, not the thing.

    If they are numbers, then they represent something.
    Well, that goes against my original question of if they needed to represent anything. I think somebody working in pure mathematics (not applied) would still say that 2+2=4.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    with no wave function collapsenoAxioms

    The problem in MWI is shifted towards the branching points. Tegmark's view suffers from the question what math structures are made of of approximations. If no exact solutions exist, what's the structure?
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    This discussion started out with a relevant comment about a priori knowledge that 2+2=4 or some such, and while that point is still on the table, things have certainly evolved into a side discussion (for which I’m massively grateful since you’re at least trying to hear me out). I don’t know if mods here are in the habit of splitting off side discussions. I see such sidetracks happening in many lengthy threads, so I suspect it isn’t site policy to split. Some sites split topics given even a hint of discussion not directly related to the OP.noAxioms

    For what it's worth, the original discussion about a priori knowledge has mostly played itself out. As the original poster, I have no objection with you carrying on your discussion here if that's what you want to do.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Our conversation is unraveling quickly. What is meaningless is your use of language.
    I’m trying. Part of the problem is that most basic assumptions are part of the language, such as all the verb tenses that presume presentism. It’s all very pragmatic, but not so useful when it gets in the way of understanding a different point of view. So other than my continued nattering about using existence, ‘is’, or being real in an objective way, please point specific points out where my language gets in the way.noAxioms
    And I appreciate your intellectual honesty and the time you are devoting to addressing all points. I wish that was a more common virtue on these forums. I can't complain too much as this forum is far better than any interaction you can have on Twitter or FB, and the moderators seem to have loosened their grip on some of the speech that can be used over the past year or two. It's certainly one of the better places to have these kinds of discussions on the internet. First, I'd say that we need to eliminate any contradictions.

    I didn’t say it doesn’t exist. I said that there is no meaning to ‘X exists’ or ‘X doesn’t exist’. It puts us and the unicorn on equal footing. To the unicorn, I don’t exist, so all nice and symmetrical.
    Continuing to use language that presumes realism is inhibits the ability to discuss a view that doesn’t. I looked at nihilism, but it seems to give meaning to such a property, but asserts that nothing has it. So it gives meaning to ‘exists’, but then says nothing exists. So I’m not a nihilist. I cannot find a reference to what I’m describing.
    noAxioms
    You're free to use language however you wish, but I would think that you'd want me to understand so that you aren't wasting your time. I'm fine with abandoning terms like "realism", "exist" and "real" if that works for you. My main goal here is to figure out where we might be using different terms but are still talking about the same thing or not.

    First, I need to understand what you mean by "exists". You contradict yourself by saying that there is no meaning in using the phrase, "X doesn't exist", and then you go on to say that that to the unicorn, you don't exist. It seems to me that the unicorn's existence is dependent on your existence to imagine it's existence. If the term, "exists" is the problem and is what is causing this contradiction, feel free to use a different term that captures your meaning.

    In what way did you exist before you and I had our first interaction? Did I exist? Did you exist prior to our first interaction? If so, in what way did we exist? Again, you are free to use whatever terms you want, so saying that it is meaningless doesn't help. If it is meaningless then tell me what you do mean without contradicting yourself. Contradictions are meaningless.

    If you'd like, for the purpose of this discussion, we can say that existence, or exists, is just a state-of-affairs, or what is the case. X and Y are each separate state-of-affairs and any potential relation between them is another state-of-affairs. If there can be two states-of-affairs prior to any relation (potential vs. actual) then the the two states-of-affairs are not dependent on the relation. You could say that once they do form a relation the two states-of-affairs are now different states-of-affairs, but not totally different as they still maintain links to the past as in each subsequent relation is an effect of prior states-of-affairs.

    If X exists in relation to Y, then what are X and Y independent of the relation? Just because I had no information about you prior to us meeting, does that mean that you didn't exist until I did? Does this mean that there are not parts of the world that have changed as a result of you being in it independent of my first meeting with you? This is what I mean by exists - that it is a relation of causation. As such, the unicorn in your mind exists as a causal event of you having experienced the idea before. The unicorn in your head is not the unicorn in my head and this is the result of us both having different experiences in learning about and conceiving of unicorns. This also puts us and the unicorn on equal footing in that we all exist as a result of some causal relationship as well has being the cause of other things, like this conversation we are having - something that would not exist if we did not exist prior to starting it.

    Are you saying that X and Y are states-of-affairs prior to the state-of-affairs of existing in relation to each other? Does one come before the other?

    unicorns only exist as abstractions
    Under a relational view, this statement is not even wrong. It references a realist bias (that there is a property of ‘exists’ and we have it and unicorns do not, making us real and not the unicorn). Step one is to drop that bias, because the view needs to be driven to contradiction without resorting to it.noAxioms
    But that isn't what I've been saying at all. I've been saying that unicorns exist as well as us because they are both causal. Abstractions are the effects of an experienced mind and the ink scribble, "unicorn" is the effect (representation) of that abstraction. Certain experiences cause certain abstractions to exist within our minds and those abstractions in turn cause us to behave in certain ways like drawing scribbles and pictures of unicorns - none of which would exist had not the previous conditions been met.

    So all the components of a structure are related as being a member of the whole, which is very different from the concept of an ‘existence’ relation which involves measurement and only applies to temporal structures with causal physics.noAxioms
    I don't see how. You're simply talking about spatial relations in the components being a member of a whole. I don't believe in any fundamental scale of reality independent of some view of reality. Wholes and members of wholes are the products of different views (measurements) of the same thing.

    I bring all this up for terminology purposes. Level 1 is universes separated by physical distance (visible universes). Level 2 comes from inflation bubbles that have different physical constants like multiple dimensions of time and field strengths that don’t allow particles to form and such. Level 3 is other worlds per MWI. Level 4 is unrelated structures, of which I have a few choice examples. All of these ‘universes’ are inaccessible to us, hence (in relational terminology) don’t exist relative to our Earth.noAxioms
    If they don't exist (have a causal relation) relative to the Earth, then how did humans on Earth come to contemplate it or know about it? How did we acquire this information? How do physicists and philosophers come to talk about this? How did you come to talk about such things?

    There are views that are realist about relations. I’m trying to avoid being realist about anything, so no, it is not meaningful to discuss the existence of relations except as relations to its relata. Yea, I suppose ‘measures X’ can be thought of as a property of Y.noAxioms
    The only property of Y? If so, then it seems that Y is dependent upon the there being an X to measure, but then what is X?

    What you seem to be saying is that there is X and Y and Z is the relation (existence) between them. My question is what is X and Y independent of this relation, as in you and I before we ever met.

    I'm not sure if this is an adequate example, but think of a 3D open-world game installed on your computer. Before you run the game, the game is just a program written in some computer language stored as an executable file on your hard drive. All the events within the game have already been written. The past, present and future events within the game all exist at once within the program. The programmer already knows what will happen and has happened before running the program, but the player does not. It is only in playing the game - of living the life of one of the characters in the game - that time's passage becomes apparent, but outside of the game there is no time as all the causal events of IF-THEN-ELSE in the code happen all at once. Everything is happening all at once and it is our own mental participation within this that stretches these causal relations into independent causes and effects (time).
    the Moon and Earth existed prior to humans as a measurement?
    Relative to what? Question is meaningless without that.
    — noAxioms
    Relative to each other.
    noAxioms

    Think MWI here. The moon seems a direct result of a specific Theia event. So some worlds have a moon, and yes, it orbits what can be named Earth. Some worlds have a different Theia event leaving a much different Earth any different moon or no moon. Relative to a world where the Theia impact did not occur, there is probably still something that is the future version of what had become our Earth in our world. Some (most) worlds don’t have our solar system at all. Some worlds have unicorns on them, but probably not human maidens to adopt them. The ones with unicorns (evolved from the same primitive live as did we) very much have a moon in their sky. The exact same Theia event exists relative to the unicorn as it does to us. The branching of worlds that cumulated in those two states most certainly occurred. It’s like two very different chess game states (one with (horny) knights still on the board, one with only bishops) both sharing a common first dozen moves.noAxioms
    Sounds like causation to me. Seems that thinking of MWI is thinking of causation. So we seem to be using different terms while talking about the same thing. "Results of specific events" is talk of effects of specific causes.

    These include that my sensory input is not a lie. If I’m being fed fiction (evil BiV scenario), then I have zero knowledge and cannot help getting it wrong,noAxioms
    You know that you exist. How you exist is a different story. You know you have a mind, but the relation between your mind and the world would be a different story. So you would still possess some knowledge. Even evil BiV scenarios cannot make a case against "I think, therefore I am". Anything beyond that would be assumptions. An evil BiV scenario would still be a world in which brains and vats exist, and I wonder if the evil scientist knows if he isn't a BiV himself, or what it's universe is like that can have brains and vats and evil scientists - doesn't sound much different than the universe I currently find myself in.

    But I am a realist. So now what?
    Now you punch holes in my idea.noAxioms
    First, I have to understand your idea. :smile:

    You like to postulate other universes when you don't believe that there actually are.
    Same with the unicorns, but I don’t postulate their existence, I just reference them. Yet again, it is meaningless to talk about if they actually are or are not. Lacking the meaning of the property, the other universe is on no more or less stable ground than this one. That’s the beauty of it.noAxioms
    Would it be fair to say that you are referencing a state-of-affairs (potential or actual)? What is the nature of the thing that you are referencing and how is it different than the state-of-affairs of referencing, or what is the case of referencing?

    Is it so hard for you to pretend that maybe you're not an anti-realist? You say 'real' has no meaning and then go on to categorize your beef as being real and existing as a relation with you.
    Which is different than any of that just existing.noAxioms
    Then "real" and "existing" are dependent on each other - you cannot have one without the other? In a way, I do agree with you. Abstractions exist and are real in the same way as non-abstractions in that they are all states-of-affairs. They are what is the case. They have causal power. Again, we seem to be saying the same thing in some respects, just using different terms and means of expressing it.


    That is the difference between what makes a scribble a number or word and not just a scribble. So are 2 and 4 scribbles or numbers?
    I’m talking about the latter. What is written down is a representation, an abstraction of sorts, not the thing.noAxioms
    But scribbles are concrete things as well, ink marks on paper, patterns of light on your computer screen, or voices in the air. The abstraction is the causal relation between the ink marks and what caused them, which is some idea in the mind. How does an abstraction cause ink marks to appear on some paper? How does reading ink marks on paper cause an abstraction in the mind? To answer such questions seems to me to require thinking of unicorns and ink marks, as you put it, "on equal footing.", in dissolving the distinctions that we normally think of between mind and world, body and mind. They both have a causal influence. They are both effects of prior causes and causes of subsequent effects. In this sense, I think of everything as information - the relationship between causes and their effects.

    If they are numbers, then they represent something.
    Well, that goes against my original question of if they needed to represent anything. I think somebody working in pure mathematics (not applied) would still say that 2+2=4.noAxioms
    Which my response was that they wouldn't represent anything. They'd be scribbles. I don't know what pure mathematics (scribbles) is if it isn't applied (representations). I'd have to ask the pure mathematician why they are thinking of or writing the scribbles, 2+2=4. How did they come to think of these particular scribbles? Are they just copying some scribbles that they have seen, or is there some purpose to thinking of and drawing the scribbles, 2+2=4?
  • noAxioms
    979
    The problem in MWI is shifted towards the branching points.Hillary
    I am not promoting MWI, but if I was, I am unaware of it positing ‘branching points’ at all. It is a common misconception that “at certain magic instances, the world undergoes some sort of metaphysical “split” into two branches that subsequently never interact”. That seems closest to what I suspect you’re referencing.
    Tegmark's view suffers from the question what math structures are made of of approximations. — Hillary
    While I’m definitely adopting a good chunk of Tegmark’s MUH, I am unaware of this issue with approximations. A reference might help clarify.

    I can't complain too much as this forum is far better than any interaction you can have on Twitter or FBHarry Hindu
    I do notice a lot of terse replies in most threads, but that’s more like a conversation over a table with continuous interaction. I’m frequently not around for hours (days?) and must reply in full to all points necessary. I do try to keep my reply shorter than the post to which I’m replying, but I’m failed at that lately. I mean, who actually wants to read a long post like this?

    First, I need to understand what you mean by "exists". You contradict yourself by saying that there is no meaning in using the phrase, "X doesn't exist", and then you go on to say that that to the unicorn, you don't exist.
    I don’t exist relative to the unicorn. It’s expressed as a relation. “X doesn’t exist” is meaningless because no relation is specified.

    If you really cannot accept the name ‘unicorn’, then just think of it as some word arbitrarily assigned to some creature on a different evolutionary future than the ones with humans.

    Some relations are bidirectional. X and Y are both members of some common structure and are related in that way. So the unicorn seems to relate to us as both being part of the same structure, the structure perhaps being expressed as a universal wave function. So I’m typically pitching the unicorn as some alternate evolutionary path on this same planet. It’s a reasonable creature (minus the rainbow blowing out of its butt) and it would be dang unlikely that it’s not a valid future of Earth state from say 100 million years ago.

    Some relations are unidirectional such as Y measures X, meaning Steve the stegosaurus exists to me but I don’t exist to Steve. This sort of relation seems only to work with structures with a Hilbert space going on, such as the chess states example, but not with the GoL example. Nothing measures anything in GoL. There’s no ‘wave function’ collapse, meaning measurement has nothing to do with the existence of related states. GoL is entirely deterministic in one direction, so in that sense, relative to any given state, all future states are determined and thus they relate to that given state. Future states exist relative to it, but past ones do not since GoL doesn’t have a unique history property like our universe, so prior state cannot be determined. It’s sort of the opposite of our physics in that way.

    It seems to me that the unicorn's existence is dependent on your existence to imagine it's existence.
    This is expressed without a relation. It very much exists relative to anything that gets gored by that horn. I’m not suggesting that imagination/abstraction has any causal powers beyond creation of ideas. I’m talking about the unicorn, not the idea of a unicorn, but I necessarily must use ideas to discuss it just like I necessarily must use ideas to discuss the mug in front of me.
    If the term, "exists" is the problem and is what is causing this contradiction, feel free to use a different term that captures your meaning.
    Plenty of philosophical views redefine words like ‘exists’ and ‘universe’ to mean different things, but I get your point. What other word conveys to me that we can interact, that it is not possible that you are not in the world I see, or more in particular, that some part of your worldline is within my past light cone? I don’t have a word that better expresses that, except it has to include the relation: You exist to me. You don’t exist to the unicorn, but Steve probably does (yes, the very same Steve).

    In what way did you exist before you and I had our first interaction? Did I exist?
    Let’s say I’m older. If you qualify ‘me’ and ‘you’ as unique worldlines, then no part of your worldline was in the past light cone of my younger moments, so you didn’t exist to me then, but some part of my worldline is in the past light cone of your first moment, so I always exist to you, even if I die first, just like Steve exists to us despite the termination of its worldline.

    Did you exist prior to our first interaction?
    Our first interaction took seconds. Quantum decoherence occurs incredibly quickly, especially when there’s no vacuum separating us. It has nothing to do with being human or any kind of say deliberate information transfer. Remember one of my few axioms: Nothing special about humans or even life.

    If so, in what way did we exist?
    After that decoherence, each of our states is a function of the state of the other. But the state of the unicorn is not a function of our state.

    If you'd like, for the purpose of this discussion, we can say that existence, or exists, is just a state-of-affairs, or what is the case.
    Only if you say ‘the state of affairs relative to X’ since the state of affairs is technically different for every event X. The wording implies a moment in time, and so far I’ve avoided that by talking about worldlines instead of events at specific times along those worldlines.
    Having thought about it, we can replace ‘X exists relative to Y’ with ‘Y measures X’. This identifies a unique relation that seems to apply only to a very limited number of structures. The ‘fellow member of some structure’ relation is different. Then perhaps we could avoid the word ‘exists’ altogether.

    X and Y are each separate state-of-affairs
    Neither a worldline nor an event along a worldline is especially a state of affairs, but there is a state of affairs relative to it. I am not ‘war in Ukraine’, but there is a state of war in Ukraine relative to me (a system at say the time of posting this). On the other hand, I, as a system at a specific time, constitute the state of that system, and thus am a local state of affairs. By identification of a time, I’ve dropped down to speaking of events instead of worldlines, which opens up a different can of worms about identity of those events.

    If there can be two states-of-affairs prior to any relation (potential vs. actual)
    If a measurement has been taken, then that measurement makes the measured state actual to the measurer. If not, then none of the potential states exist relative to that non-measurer, just like neither the dead state of cat nor the live state of cat exists relative to the exterior of the box. There I go using ‘exists’ again, but it seems trivially tautological to say “If not, then none of the potential states are measured relative to that non-measurer”. Ontology in this universe is measurement. To say something exists in the absence of measurement is to assert the principle of counterfactual definiteness, a principle which necessarily must reject locality and thus accept things like cause significantly (years) after its effect.
    Maybe we’re talking past each other, but that’s how I’m best able to work in your wording into a relational description.

    If X exists in relation to Y, then what are X and Y independent of the relation? Just because I had no information about you prior to us meeting, does that mean that you didn't exist until I did?
    Our meeting had nothing to do with it. You had information on me, which is what decoherence does. Technically, X existing to Y means X is some ‘state of affairs’ in the past causal cone of Y, which is approximated by a light cone, but in special circumstances where information transfer is totally inhibited (Schrodinger’s box), can be a smaller subset than that.

    Does this mean that there are not parts of the world that have changed as a result of you being in it independent of my first meeting with you?
    Meeting has nothing to do with anything. I (worldline) exist relative to the state of affairs of this planet today (event), therefore it has measured me (worldline).

    This is what I mean by exists - that it is a relation of causation.
    It seems to be a relation of non-counterfactual wave function collapse, a relation unique to non-counterfactual physics that support it. A universe counterfactual physics such as GoL or Bohmian mechanics, the definition doesn’t work since these models posit existence that is not a function of measurement. Causality in GoL is straightforward, but really complicated in Bohmian mechanics where the state of a system might be determined by causes in the far future. I’m not concerned with this since my model holds to locality for this universe. No reverse causality.

    Are you saying that X and Y are states-of-affairs prior to the state-of-affairs of existing in relation to each other? Does one come before the other?
    X is prior (earlier in time) to Y in this case. The relation is a way of expressing that the state of affairs Y is causally a function of the state of affairs X. Not sure if you’re using ‘prior’ to mean something else like ‘more fundamental than’.

    I've been saying that unicorns exist as well as us because they are both causal.
    Again, I’ve not been talking about abstractions. I’m talking about an alternate mammal species on Earth in a world with a different evolutionary history. I’m using it as an illustrative device.

    So all the components of a structure are related as being a member of the whole, which is very different from the concept of an ‘existence’ relation which involves measurement and only applies to temporal structures with causal physics.
    — noAxioms
    I don't see how. You're simply talking about spatial relations in the components being a member of a whole.
    It’s not necessarily spatial. How does 3 relate to 5? One doesn’t cause or measure the other, so it isn’t that sort of relationship, but more of a ‘members of set of numbers’ kind of sisterhood, an equal relationship. We have a similar relation with the unicorn, a different relation than the 1-way ‘measures’ relationship. OK, there is a sort of spatial relationship between 3 and 5. The chess example (a tree structure) has no immediate spatial relationship between the various states. Two states might be related by how long a tree walk would be between them, but would only have a causal relationship if that walk was one way, that the one state was a parent node of the other. The members of the Mandelbrot set are just complex numbers, relating to each other by little more than ‘fellow member of the set’ and such.

    I don't believe in any fundamental scale of reality independent of some view of reality. Wholes and members of wholes are the products of different views (measurements) of the same thing.
    I couldn’t understand that. Perhaps an illustrative example would help.

    If they don't exist (have a causal relation) relative to the Earth, then how did humans on Earth come to contemplate it or know about it?
    Each of them follows from some theory, principle, or interpretation. A level one multiverse results from the cosmological principle among other things that assume that Earth is not the exact center of a universe. Level II is from inflation theory, which otherwise leaves unexplained the ‘fine tuning’ of our universe. Each level results from a rejection of geocentrism in a different way.

    How do physicists and philosophers come to talk about this? How did you come to talk about such things?
    Because it is painfully difficult to explain empirical observations with geocentric interpretations. This is what I’m doing. I’m rejecting the bias that our universe (the spacetime in which we find ourselves) is preferred, even at the ontological level.

    [relations] only property of Y? If so, then it seems that Y is dependent upon the there being an X to measure, but then what is X?
    Dependent for what? In a causal structure, if Y measures X then Y is dependent on X to be ‘caused’, but I’m not equating ‘caused by’ with ‘exists relative to’. The relation here is one way, so Y doesn’t exist to X. It’s only a possibility to X, or to be precise, Y is a valid solution to the evolution of X’s wave function (or rather the wave function of the environment including X since X is not a closed system), but so is ~Y.

    What you seem to be saying is that there is X and Y and Z is the relation (existence) between them. My question is what is X and Y independent of this relation, as in you and I before we ever met.
    There’s two ways to answer that. Assuming the pragmatic view that natural language presumes, the view that you’ve taken with your question above, X and Y are worldlines of persistent systems (systems with identities), such as you and I or a brick.
    But the pragmatic view can be driven to contradiction in a more universal context, and thus to be technically accurate, X and Y are events, not worldlines. They represent the ‘state of affairs’ of a specific system at a specific time. Natural language then fails and one must resort to something akin to B-speak where references to meaningless persistent identities are avoided similar to how B-speak avoids references to the meaningless present. Then X and Y have have a relation of ‘measures’ or they don’t.

    I'm not sure if this is an adequate example, but think of a 3D open-world game installed on your computer.
    I’m old enough that I had to look up the term ‘open world game’.
    Before you run the game, the game is just a program written in some computer language stored as an executable file on your hard drive. All the events within the game have already been written. The past, present and future events within the game all exist at once within the program. The programmer already knows what will happen and has happened before running the program, but the player does not.
    Not sure what you mean by this. You make it sound like a movie, a story with all the events pre-planned (determinism) and no choices to be made by an outside entity (the player). The programmer certainly doesn’t know how the game will progress. There are more possible events than there is code.

    It is only in playing the game - of living the life of one of the characters in the game - that time's passage becomes apparent, but outside of the game there is no time as all the causal events of IF-THEN-ELSE in the code happen all at once.
    Not following. Outside the game the code doesn’t ‘happen’ at all, and during the game, groups of instructions are indeed executed in sequence. Usually there are several (4 to hundreds) of instruction streams running at once.
    Maybe I’m not getting your usage of ‘at once’, which I’m probably incorrectly equating to ‘at the same time’. This is sort of the language used to describe a block universe, a completely self-contained structure containing time, but without change to the structure itself. It is said that all moments of this block exist ‘at once’ and don’t ‘happen’, which is different than saying that the events are at the same time, which would be wrong as saying they’re all at the same place.

    If any interaction is a measurement and humans/lifeforms are not special in this role, then the Moon and Earth existed prior to humans as a measurement?
    -- Harry Hindu
    Relative to what? Question is meaningless without that.
    -- noAxioms
    Relative to each other.
    Yes, the Moon and Earth on which humans eventually evolve existed relative to each other. My MWI digression was due to my confusion as to which Earth and which moon since some worlds have a moonless Earth.

    You know that you exist.
    Rovelli would disagree, and I'm with him on that point. He says a system cannot measure itself (cannot collapse its own wave function) and thus cannot meaningfully assess the state of its own existence just like inability of the cat in the box to determine what the observer outside the box will observe upon opening the box. It was the reading of Rovelli on which much of my view is based. He’s the one that defines existence (at least in this universe) as a measurement relation. I’m driving it a bit further I think.

    What is the nature of the thing that you are referencing and how is it different than the state-of-affairs of referencing, or what is the case of referencing?
    It is the difference between a physical rock made of protons and such, and the abstraction (or the referencing) of a rock, consisting of mental process and discourse. I’m not talking about abstractions. A rhino is almost a unicorn, if only it leaned more on the equine side. Surely unicorns are a possible future of some fairly recent state of Earth’s biological history. The unicorn of which I speak probably doesn’t look completely like the abstraction I have in mind, but that’s also true of say you.

    Then "real" and "existing" are dependent on each other - you cannot have one without the other?
    Depends if you define them in ways that they’re synonymous or not. I’m defining ‘exists’ as a relation the way Rovelli does. I’m keeping ‘is real’ as the property so as not to take away all my vocabulary for that concept. As a non-realist, I don’t have to explain the reality of whatever I assert to be real, which removes a significant issue with any view that does. Per Rovelli’s arguments, there seems to be no empirical test for being real. Nobody seems to be able to design a device that behaves differently only when its real. That reduces ‘being real’ to an interpretational choice, and I’ve chosen to discard it as superfluous.

    But scribbles are concrete things as well
    But I’m not talking about scribbles or abstractions. You keep attempting to drive things there. I’m not disagreeing with your discussion of abstractions and scribbles, but it’s not on topic.

    If they are numbers, then they represent something.
    It is admittedly harder to think of numbers being things in themselves and not just abstractions, but imagine if mathematics worked even without humans or other life forms to utilize them. Imagine the sum of two and two actually being four and not only being four when some calculator executes the computation.
    I know, it’s like asking you to imagine something independent of an imaginer.

    Which my response was that they wouldn't represent anything. They'd be scribbles.
    No, they’d not be scribbles, which is an abstraction. I’m not talking about abstractions or any instantiation of the numbers. I’m proposing that mathematics is more fundamental than the scribbles that allow us to abstract it.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    I am not promoting MWI, but if I was, I am unaware of it positing ‘branching points’ at all. It is a common misconception that “at certain magic instances, the world undergoes some sort of metaphysical “split” into two branches that subsequently never interact”. That seems closest to what I suspect you’re referencingnoAxioms

    Yes, indeed. The branching points are the points where a superimposed state splits into the two separate states after measurement. There is no collapse here, but the state before is different from the state after to conserve unitarity. That's the only reason the MWI is developed, to conserve unitarity. But the splitting is non-unitary, although it seems there is no collapse at all.

    Tegmark doesn't say what the math structures are made of and non-exactly solvable problems or processes, which are most in nature, have no corresponding structure, while the processes exist.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Rovelli would disagree, and I with him. He says a system cannot measure itself (cannot collapse its own wave function)noAxioms

    Every interaction involves a collapse of the wavefunction. All particles in the universe were interacting from the moment they were created and still are interacting. By means of photons and CMBR, by local interactions, by gravity, and by the other two basic forces. The total wavefunction is constantly reshaping and collapsing.
  • Hillary
    1.9k


    In nature, there are in fact very few instances of exact mathematical shapes, apart from straight lines and spheres. All mathematical exact special functions are rarely seen and appear only in strict experimental set-ups.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    I don’t exist relative to the unicorn. It’s expressed as a relation. “X doesn’t exist” is meaningless because no relation is specified.noAxioms
    You dont necessarily need to specify a relation if it is implied. It seems to me that "X doesn't exist" would be a relation between X and the one making the statement.

    If you really cannot accept the name ‘unicorn’, then just think of it as some word arbitrarily assigned to some creature on a different evolutionary future than the ones with humans.noAxioms
    Where is this creature in relation to me? Doesn't "X exists (in relation to the one making the statement)" and "X doesn't exist (in relation to the one making the statement)" describe two different kinds of relations? If so, then what is the difference? What other types of relations are there besides "exist/not exist"?

    It's not about the name by itself. It's about the name's relation to what it references, and whether or not it actually references something or if we just believe that it does. Can we say the same for the name, "god"? Can there not be relations where we believe relations to be? Can there be relations that we aren't aware of and therefore cannot talk about? What about the infinite number of creatures that have no name?

    What if I were to say, "there is no relation between X (me) and Y (unicorns/god/Harry Potter)"? If "X exists" and "X doesn't exist" are both relations, then what use of language describes no relation? What use of language describes a relation between X and Y, a relation between Y and Z but no relation between X and Z? If there are X, Y and Z and only two of them have a relation, then how do we describe that situation? Would Y be the relation between X and Z? Can there be an X and a Z with no relation?

    It’s a reasonable creature (minus the rainbow blowing out of its butt) and it would be dang unlikely that it’s not a valid future of Earth state from say 100 million years ago.noAxioms
    What do you mean by it being a reasonable creature vs the version that has rainbows blowing out of its butt? If we can talk about both versions, then what makes one string of scribbles more reasonable than the other? What do the different strings, "some creature on a different evolutionary future than the ones with humans" and "some creature with a rainbow blowing out of its butt" of scribbles reference, and how does what one string reference differ from what the other references?

    Some relations are bidirectional. Some relations are unidirectional such as Y measures X, meaning Steve the stegosaurus exists to me but I don’t exist to Steve.noAxioms
    But you said that X doesn't exist in relation to Y is a relation. So there is a bidirectional relation. It seems to me that in saying that X (me) does not exist in relation to Y (Steve) is to say that there is no relation at all. Only this way can there be a unidirectional relation because there is no relation rather than a different relation. Or, there could be no direction at all to relations, which seems to make more sense. What if I were to say that there is not a direction to relations? What effect does that have on your statement of the opposite? What would be the type of relation between the two conflicting statements (string of scribbles)?

    "It seems to me that the unicorn's existence is dependent on your existence to imagine it's existence."
    This is expressed without a relation. It very much exists relative to anything that gets gored by that horn. I’m not suggesting that imagination/abstraction has any causal powers beyond creation of ideas. I’m talking about the unicorn, not the idea of a unicorn, but I necessarily must use ideas to discuss it just like I necessarily must use ideas to discuss the mug in front of me.noAxioms
    Then are you talking about the mug in front of you or your idea of the mug in front of you. There is the possibility that you could be hallucinating, or lying. Drawing the scribbles, "unicorn" is caused by your idea of a unicorn, imaginary or not. If you had never heard of unicorns, would you be able to write the scribble, or a draw a picture? It seems to me that your imagination is the effect of prior ideas. Could you imagine a unicorn if you had never seen a horse or a horn? Imaginings are unique amalgams of prior experiences.

    What other word conveys to me that we can interact, that it is not possible that you are not in the world I see, or more in particular, that some part of your worldline is within my past light cone? I don’t have a word that better expresses that, except it has to include the relation: You exist to me. You don’t exist to the unicorn, but Steve probably does (yes, the very same Steve).noAxioms
    "Causation".

    Let’s say I’m older. If you qualify ‘me’ and ‘you’ as unique worldlines, then no part of your worldline was in the past light cone of my younger moments, so you didn’t exist to me then, but some part of my worldline is in the past light cone of your first moment, so I always exist to you, even if I die first, just like Steve exists to us despite the termination of its worldline.noAxioms
    But I wasn't aware of your existence, nor were you aware of mine, until our first interaction. So you seem to be implying that there can be relations that exist without our awareness of them, which seems to answer one of my questions I asked earlier in this post. Is awareness a relation? If so, then in what way is the relations of awareness and existence different? A "worldline" would be another relation, no? What is a "worldline" a relation of?

    Did you exist prior to our first interaction?
    Our first interaction took seconds. Quantum decoherence occurs incredibly quickly, especially when there’s no vacuum separating us. It has nothing to do with being human or any kind of say deliberate information transfer. Remember one of my few axioms: Nothing special about humans or even life.

    If so, in what way did we exist?
    After that decoherence, each of our states is a function of the state of the other. But the state of the unicorn is not a function of our state.
    noAxioms
    I'm not asking about our interaction. I'm asking about your "worldline" prior to our interaction, which is just an exchange of scribbles on a screen. After all, I might not be a human at all. I could just be a program like Eliza that you are having a conversation with, which goes to what I was asking before in how what ideas we may have could be incompatible with what is actually the case.

    Only if you say ‘the state of affairs relative to X’ since the state of affairs is technically different for every event X. The wording implies a moment in time, and so far I’ve avoided that by talking about worldlines instead of events at specific times along those worldlines.
    Having thought about it, we can replace ‘X exists relative to Y’ with ‘Y measures X’. This identifies a unique relation that seems to apply only to a very limited number of structures. The ‘fellow member of some structure’ relation is different. Then perhaps we could avoid the word ‘exists’ altogether.
    noAxioms
    If X (some state of affairs) exists in relation to Y (you) and X (some state of affairs) exists in relation to Z (me), then how do we know that X is the same state of affairs that we are talking about? It seems to me that we would always be talking past each other, and if that is the case, then I don't see any reason to continue this interaction. There must be some reason you are communicating with me - what is that reason if not to share one's ideas about a state-of-affairs that exists for both of us? Does this conversation exist just for us, or for others who might come along and read our posts? Is it the same conversation for us - the participants as it is for non-participating readers? Are both of us and readers suppose to find our conversation useful? What would it mean for some conversation to be useful?

    Neither a worldline nor an event along a worldline is especially a state of affairs, but there is a state of affairs relative to it. I am not ‘war in Ukraine’, but there is a state of war in Ukraine relative to me (a system at say the time of posting this). On the other hand, I, as a system at a specific time, constitute the state of that system, and thus am a local state of affairs. By identification of a time, I’ve dropped down to speaking of events instead of worldlines, which opens up a different can of worms about identity of those events.noAxioms
    The war in Ukraine is a relation between Russia and Ukraine, so you're talking about relations in relation to another relation. You are a relation between your various organs and stored information that make you you. In other words, it's (causal/information) relations all the way down.

    If a measurement has been taken, then that measurement makes the measured state actual to the measurer. If not, then none of the potential states exist relative to that non-measurer, just like neither the dead state of cat nor the live state of cat exists relative to the exterior of the box. There I go using ‘exists’ again, but it seems trivially tautological to say “If not, then none of the potential states are measured relative to that non-measurer”. Ontology in this universe is measurement. To say something exists in the absence of measurement is to assert the principle of counterfactual definiteness, a principle which necessarily must reject locality and thus accept things like cause significantly (years) after its effect.
    Maybe we’re talking past each other, but that’s how I’m best able to work in your wording into a relational description.
    noAxioms
    If you are older, then in what way did I measure you prior to our interaction? It seems to me that you were a state-of-affairs (a relation between you and your friends and family and everything else you've interacted with, or that has measured you) prior to our interaction. So when we interacted, was I measuring a prior measurement?

    Our meeting had nothing to do with it. You had information on me, which is what decoherence does. Technically, X existing to Y means X is some ‘state of affairs’ in the past causal cone of Y, which is approximated by a light cone, but in special circumstances where information transfer is totally inhibited (Schrodinger’s box), can be a smaller subset than that.noAxioms
    I had no information on "you" until we met. Even then, we haven't actually met. I've only met scribbles on a screen. You could be a computer program and not a human. Until I actually meet you in person, then your scribbles are all that exists in relation to me. Are your scribbles a measurement of you? Do your scribbles exhaust all there is to be you? If not, then there is some state-of-affairs that makes you you that I am not aware of, or haven't measured.

    Meeting has nothing to do with anything. I (worldline) exist relative to the state of affairs of this planet today (event), therefore it has measured me (worldline).noAxioms
    Of course it does. I haven't actually met you. I have met your scribbles. What relation does the state-of-affairs of your scribbles on this screen have with the state-of-affairs that is you? Are the scribbles all there is to being you?

    It seems to be a relation of non-counterfactual wave function collapse, a relation unique to non-counterfactual physics that support it. A universe counterfactual physics such as GoL or Bohmian mechanics, the definition doesn’t work since these models posit existence that is not a function of measurement. Causality in GoL is straightforward, but really complicated in Bohmian mechanics where the state of a system might be determined by causes in the far future. I’m not concerned with this since my model holds to locality for this universe. No reverse causality.noAxioms
    Seems like a use of scribbles (on state-of-affairs) that references another state-of-affairs that exists independent of my awareness or belief in or understanding of such. If I don't understand what you just said, then what does that say about the state-of-affairs that you are referencing? If it's understandable to you but not to me, then have we not established two different relations that are incompatible with each other? Is your understanding of what you just wrote and my lack of understanding of what you just wrote about the same state-of-affairs (the state-of-affairs that your scribbles reference, not the use of the scribbles)? If you are not writing about some state-of-affairs that I can measure in the same way that you have, then how do we know that our ideas are about the same thing?

    Again, I’ve not been talking about abstractions. I’m talking about an alternate mammal species on Earth in a world with a different evolutionary history. I’m using it as an illustrative device.noAxioms
    Sounds like an abstraction to me. Where is this alternate mammal species in relation to the scribble, "unicorn" and where is this different evolutionary history in relation to the scribble, "different evolutionary history"?

    I don't believe in any fundamental scale of reality independent of some view of reality. Wholes and members of wholes are the products of different views (measurements) of the same thing.
    I couldn’t understand that. Perhaps an illustrative example would help.
    noAxioms
    Sound like something similar to this:
    Rovelli would disagree, and I'm with him on that point. He says a system cannot measure itself (cannot collapse its own wave function) and thus cannot meaningfully assess the state of its own existence just like inability of the cat in the box to determine what the observer outside the box will observe upon opening the box. It was the reading of Rovelli on which much of my view is based. He’s the one that defines existence (at least in this universe) as a measurement relation. I’m driving it a bit further I think.noAxioms
    The problem with this though is that it requires a measurer for any state-of-affairs to be the case, but then who measures the measurer? It's measurements all the way down.

    It’s not necessarily spatial.noAxioms
    A disagreement. If you and I disagree about the nature of some state-of-affairs, then are we taking different measurements of the same state-of-affairs and talking about our measurements and not the state-of-affairs that is being measured? Again, it seems to me that the implication of your use of scribbles is that we can never talk about what is measured. We can only talk about our measurements which would be two different states-of-affairs, and we would be talking past each other. So what is the point of having a conversation if we can't talk about the same state-of-affairs?

    Not sure what you mean by this. You make it sound like a movie, a story with all the events pre-planned (determinism) and no choices to be made by an outside entity (the player). The programmer certainly doesn’t know how the game will progress. There are more possible events than there is code.noAxioms
    Sure there are choices, but not an infinite number of choices. You can only make choices that are made available in the code. Any other choice would crash the program, or simply produce an error (which is part of the code). The player's actions are constrained by the code.

    Not following. Outside the game the code doesn’t ‘happen’ at all, and during the game, groups of instructions are indeed executed in sequence. Usually there are several (4 to hundreds) of instruction streams running at once.
    Maybe I’m not getting your usage of ‘at once’, which I’m probably incorrectly equating to ‘at the same time’. This is sort of the language used to describe a block universe, a completely self-contained structure containing time, but without change to the structure itself. It is said that all moments of this block exist ‘at once’ and don’t ‘happen’, which is different than saying that the events are at the same time, which would be wrong as saying they’re all at the same place.
    noAxioms
    Outside the game the code is a state-of-affairs - one that can be downloaded and then loaded into the computer's memory. Once loaded in the computer's working memory the code transforms inputs to outputs per it's instructions. The code remains the same even though different players may make different choices (inputs) that produce different outputs, but all are constrained by the code. A player will most likely never execute some bit of code because they never made the choice to pursue that part of the game and chose to pursue another part, but that doesn't mean the code for those inputs are not there. It just means that those functions in the program were never used or executed. The open world is one particular world. It may be a fantasy world as opposed to a sci-fi world. That world is defined by the code. All potential actions by a player are constrained by the code. A player can't use a baseball bat in the game if there is no code for a baseball bat in the program. The player can only use objects that are in the game and go to places that are in the game. The events in the game force the player along a specific timeline. If the player wastes to much time exploring or taking on different quests that are not part of the main quest then the villain ends up taking over the world and that timeline is defined by the code. All of these events and objects are defined by the code that was written before any player loaded the game on their computer. We are both playing the same game, which is to say that we are using the same code and restricted to the same timeline and events despite the fact that we may make different choices in playing the game. No matter who plays the game, the villain takes over the world at a particular point per the instructions in the program.

    It is the difference between a physical rock made of protons and such, and the abstraction (or the referencing) of a rock, consisting of mental process and discourse. I’m not talking about abstractions. A rhino is almost a unicorn, if only it leaned more on the equine side. Surely unicorns are a possible future of some fairly recent state of Earth’s biological history. The unicorn of which I speak probably doesn’t look completely like the abstraction I have in mind, but that’s also true of say you.noAxioms
    Then how do we know that we are talking about the same thing?

    But I’m not talking about scribbles or abstractions. You keep attempting to drive things there. I’m not disagreeing with your discussion of abstractions and scribbles, but it’s not on topic.noAxioms
    My point is that we can talk about scribbles and abstractions in the same way we can talk about unicorns and mugs. We are talking about relations and scribbles and what they reference is a type of relation, so it isn't off-topic. I'm trying to understand the relation between your use of scribbles and what they reference, and how that relation would be useful to me if to me it is a different relation than it is to you. In effect we would be talking past each other.

    How is what you are talking about when not talking about scribbles or abstractions, the same for me if they are different relations or measurements? If "X exists in relation to you" and "X exists in relation to me", are you talking about the relations or X? If you're talking about the relation, then how can I ever understand the relation between you and X when I am not you, but I am me and the relation between X and you and X and me are two different things. If you aren't talking about abstractions then you aren't talking about relations. You are talking about X independent of any relation. Only then would I find your use of scribbles useful or understandable to me.

    It is admittedly harder to think of numbers being things in themselves and not just abstractions, but imagine if mathematics worked even without humans or other life forms to utilize them. Imagine the sum of two and two actually being four and not only being four when some calculator executes the computation.
    I know, it’s like asking you to imagine something independent of an imaginer.
    noAxioms
    The same goes for any scribble, like words. I don't understand what you mean by mathematics working even without humans to utilize them. It seems that for something to work, it needs to be utilized. How would the sum of two and two equal four if not by there being a quantity of some thing, and for there to be a quantity of some thing there must be a category of some thing that different, yet similar, things fall into. For there to be two of anything and subsequently four of anything, there must be a category of things in which there is at least two things that fit into that category, or else there would be only one of everything.

    If "2+2=4" is more than just scribbles on this screen, then what is the relation between the scribbles and what they refer to? What form would 2+2=4 take if not just a string of scribbles, but is something more fundamental? In what way would 2+2=4 be the case independent of these scribbles? You would need to illustrate 2+2=4 without using these scribbles. Maybe you could use unicorns. :nerd:

    No, they’d not be scribbles, which is an abstraction. I’m not talking about abstractions or any instantiation of the numbers. I’m proposing that mathematics is more fundamental than the scribbles that allow us to abstract it.noAxioms
    What I am asking for you to illustrate the form that this fundamental nature of mathematics takes independent of the scribbles. Does this help?

    aa + aa = aaaa

    Interesting. You can add scribbles just like you can add unicorns.

    Scribbles are not abstractions. Don't you have scribbles in front if you in the same way that you can a mug in front of you?

    Scribbles are tools that we use to communicate in the same way that a hammer is a tool that you use to build a house, or a mug you use to hold your coffee.

    Is, "alhg;alhdjlshtjh;ajhj;thjk b:Jbfjht" an abstraction? The reference between the patterns of light on your computer screen and what they reference is the abstraction. The relation is arbitrary. In other words, the relation between the patterns of light and what they reference would be the abstraction and in talking about (some) relations you'd be talking about abstractions. This explains why your relation with unicorns and my relation with unicorns are abstractions in the sense that they are not the unicorn, but the relation between unicorns and each of us, and in talking about the relation, we'd be talking about different things (the relation), not the unicorn.
  • noAxioms
    979
    Tegmark doesn't say what the math structures are made ofHillary
    Because he proposes they’re fundamental. If they were made of something, they’d not be fundamental. He makes no mention of precision issues AFAIK. But I don’t agree with his ontology.

    In nature, there are in fact very few instances of exact mathematical shapes, apart from straight lines and spheres. All mathematical exact special functions are rarely seen and appear only in strict experimental set-ups.Hillary
    I cannot think of a single ‘exact mathematical shape” even in a ‘strict experimental set-up’, especially since all matter shapes are comprised of seemingly a finite number of dimensionless points with only probabilistic positions.

    You dont necessarily need to specify a relation if it is implied.Harry Hindu
    Only if the implication is obvious, which it often isn’t in this discussion. So with the unicorn, it’s not implied. One often has to be explicit such as when you ask if the earth and moon exist without humans which explicitly excludes the implied reference of ‘relative to that which asked the question’.

    It seems to me that "X doesn't exist" would be a relation between X and the one making the statement.
    Yea, but then one gets careless and says something like “I exist” which is tautologically meaningless (per Rovelli). My ontology is pretty straight-up Rovelli’s relational view, so most of what I’m repeatedly explaining is that.


    If you really cannot accept the name ‘unicorn’, then just think of it as some word arbitrarily assigned to some creature on a different evolutionary future than the ones with humans.noAxioms
    Where is this creature in relation to me?
    It isn’t in relation to you, at least not in the Y-measures-X sort of relation. Both you and the unicorn measure Steve (the stegosaurus, remember him?), so you’re related to each other (a bi-directional relation) in that sense. Bryce DeWitt (coiner of term ‘MWI’) would have said that you and the unicorn exist on Earth in separate worlds with Steve being in the common history of both, neither existence being more preferred than the other, but MWI doesn’t define existence as a function of measurement. Only collapse interpretations do.

    Doesn't "X exists (in relation to the one making the statement)" and "X doesn't exist (in relation to the one making the statement)" describe two different kinds of relations? If so, then what is the difference? What other types of relations are there besides "exist/not exist"?
    The ‘measures/exists’ relation is a strange one and I’m hard pressed to find other examples of it. It seems to be a product of a tree structure, like ‘X is a parent node of Y’ but Y is not necessarily ‘the one child’ of X, just ‘a child’, so at best, Y is a potential child of X. Most of asymmetric relations imply a mirror relation, like 3 being less than 5 implies 5 being greater than 3. There is a one-way relation of ‘is a member of’, such as I am a member of the universe, a relation between different categories (set/member). The unicorn is also such a member, so we have a relation of ‘fellow member of set U’ relation with the unicorn and the universe, which is a 3-way relation (Y and Z are members of U). There are, as you point out, negative relations. I am not an integer, a relation that I have with the set of integers.
    I would probably do better if I had formal set theory training and spoke the language more correctly. I did read a condensed summary of ‘Law of Form’ which is incredibly insightful. It seems more fundamental than mathematics, and despite my comment above to Hillary about mathematics not being made of anything, if it was, LoF would be a description of how this could be so.

    It's not about the name by itself. It's about the name's relation to what it references, and whether or not it actually references something or if we just believe that it does.
    Well, language references concepts, and thus it’s about the concept’s relation to some physical entity or not. I mean, I might talk about how a lion takes down its prey, but I’ve not identified a specific lion, so the comment pretty much associates the word ‘lion’ with the lion concept and little more. Similarly I can talk about the nearest start to a point exactly 100 billion LY north of Earth (a point on a line of the Earth’s spin axis). That’s a very specific point in space that’s real relative to us, but again references only a concept, not a particular entity. Sure, were something to be at that particular point, it would indeed measure some closest star, but relative to us there’s no fact to the matter, at least not in a universe with local physics. I didn’t identify Steve exactly. He’s some hypothetical real (measured by us) stegosaurus just like the lion. So am I referring to the actual creature, or only the concept? I certainly have the option of picking a real one like the one in museum X whose bones have been found. If that’s Steve, then there’s very much a specific physical entity corresponding to the concept brought up by the word ‘Steve’. But I’m not doing that. He’s real (measured), but not specific. The distant star is not measured and exists to me no more than does the unicorn.

    Can we say the same for the name, "god"?
    Sure, why not? The name refers to a concept, and like the distant star, doesn’t correspond to anything that I’ve measured.

    Can there be relations that we aren't aware of and therefore cannot talk about?
    My physical ontology has nothing to do with epistemology. You’re talking about relations between language and shared mental states, something on which I’ve not expended a great deal of effort.
    Concepts that have never been conceived would seemingly not have words to describe them, but the word-concept relation perhaps is still valid. This word potentially corresponds to this concept, except we know of neither, so cannot speak of either. They don’t exist to us is all.

    What about the infinite number of creatures that have no name?
    They’re not part of human epistemology, or maybe they are but we’ve never bothered to name them. You’ve already named them ‘creature’, so that already binds it into language to an extent.

    What if I were to say, "there is no relation between X (me) and Y (unicorns/god/Harry Potter)"?
    But there is since in all three cases I’m at least loosely aware of the shared concept connected to those words. If you say there’s ‘measured’ relation between you and them, I’d agree with all three. But I personally suggest the unicorn is a plausible creature of our physics that the other two are not, which in my opinion makes it (just like the distant star) a bit more related to you than is Harry Potter, but not a relation of ‘exists’. Still, more related than Harry Potter since nothing exists relative to both you and the distant star, but something does exist (Steve) to both you and the unicorn.

    If "X exists" and "X doesn't exist" are both relations, then what use of language describes no relation?
    One answer is that itself is a relation of sorts. Another answer is that it’s like the nameless thing, something which cannot be referenced, not even categorize as ‘thing’, which we’ve already done here. Again, I’m more concerned about the physics than how language and concepts and abstractions fit in, but I’m answering as best I can since these things seem of more importance to you.

    What use of language describes a relation between X and Y, a relation between Y and Z but no relation between X and Z?
    Don’t know. If there’s language to describe it, there is a relation, no? I mean, I relate to some number that is my age. Something completely incomprehensible to me (not part of this universe) also finds meaning in that same number, perhaps a number of dimensions of its functionality. But that thing (which isn’t even so much as a ‘thing’) seems fairly unrelated to me.

    What do you mean by it being a reasonable creature vs the version that has rainbows blowing out of its butt?
    The latter doesn’t seem a possible outcome of Earth evolution any more than does Harry Potter’s abilities. Maybe I’m wrong about this. I can take a garden hose and produce a fine spray in which a rainbow is visible. If that qualifies as a rainbow being blown out of the hose, then I’m sure any creature that expels spray from its butt can do it. It was the supposed supernatural magic to which I was actually trying to reference with the rainbow thing.

    But you said that X doesn't exist in relation to Y is a relation. So there is a bidirectional relation.
    Right, but that relation (say between the unicorn and I) isn’t a relation of ‘is in the causal history of’. It is instead a mutual relation of <has Steve in our causal history>.

    It seems to me that in saying that X (me) does not exist in relation to Y (Steve) is to say that there is no relation at all. Only this way can there be a unidirectional relation because there is no relation rather than a different relation.
    OK, so maybe instead of unidirectional, I should say ‘identical’. If X exists to Y and Y doesn’t exist to X, then the relation isn’t identical, but each is related to the other. My grandchild doesn’t exist to me today, but I exist to my grandchild. I’m willing to qualify that as a two way relation.

    Or, there could be no direction at all to relations, which seems to make more sense.
    Well the asymmetry needs to be expressed somehow, and that asymmetry defines a direction of sorts. The arrow of existence seems to point backwards actually. If Steve exists to me, it’s my measurement that makes him exist, so existence seems to be caused by future measurements, not past causal states. That seems to be an unintuitive property of existence being defined by measurement instead of classical causation such as you have with the GoL where existence is a function of past states, not future ones.

    Then are you talking about the mug in front of you or your idea of the mug in front of you.
    I’m talking about the mug but must necessarily utilize shared concepts to do so. The existence of the construct that I’ve happened to qualify with the word ‘mug’ is dependent on my measuring it, not on my concept or awareness or naming of it.

    But I wasn't aware of your existence, nor were you aware of mine, until our first interaction.
    Measurement is about decoherence and has zero to do with awareness. People/conscious entities are not special in this regard. I’ve said this repeatedly.

    Is awareness a relation? If so, then in what way is the relations of awareness and existence different?
    Awareness is a relation which seems to relate epistemological states to sensory input. It has nothing to do with the sort of existence I’m describing.

    A "worldline" would be another relation, no? What is a "worldline" a relation of?
    A worldline seems to be an identity, which in turn seems to be an abstraction only. It consists of a series of what are effectively events (states) related by this abstract identity, and in particular, the identity of the terminal state of the worldline. I see papers by Rovelli talking about terminal states and beables and such, the former identifying a unique worldline, and the latter identifying an observable.

    I'm not asking about our interaction. I'm asking about your "worldline" prior to our interaction, which is just an exchange of scribbles on a screen.
    An exchange of scribbles is communication, not a worldline. I’m talking about sets of physical system states, not the concept of them. Sure, you potentially are not human, but some physical process is generating your end of this discourse, not just my concept of these posts. Said process, if not human, I suppose would have a less clearly bounded worldline than would a human one.

    If X (some state of affairs) exists in relation to Y (you) and X (some state of affairs) exists in relation to Z (me), then how do we know that X is the same state of affairs that we are talking about?
    If we measure each other, then it cannot be otherwise. If I measure a dead cat and you measure a live one, then we cannot measure each other.

    There must be some reason you are communicating with me - what is that reason if not to share one's ideas about a state-of-affairs that exists for both of us?
    That’s right. Did I suggest otherwise?

    Does this conversation exist just for us, or for others who might come along and read our posts? Is it the same conversation for us - the participants as it is for non-participating readers?
    It is the same for everybody that we measure, per the logic above.
    Are both of us and readers suppose to find our conversation useful?What would it mean for some conversation to be useful?
    Seems irrelevant to the points being made.

    If you are older, then in what way did I measure you prior to our interaction?
    Interaction is measurement, so you interacted with me from the first moment. I am part of the cause of your existence, so there is no way I was ever in a state of nonexistence to you. Decoherence works very quickly most of the time and it takes extreme efforts to prevent it.

    I had no information on "you" until we met.
    I’m talking about measurement, not knowledge. None of this is about epistemology. A rock measures me as much as you do.

    I've only met scribbles on a screen. You could be a computer program and not a human. Until I actually meet you in person, then your scribbles are all that exists in relation to me.
    No. Some entity (human or not) made the scribbles, and you’ve measured that, and the scribbles is only one way you’ve made that measurement, and certainly not the first.

    then there is some state-of-affairs that makes you you that I am not aware of, or haven't measured.
    What you’ve measured and that of which you are aware are entirely different subjects. I’m only talking about the former.

    If you are not writing about some state-of-affairs that I can measure in the same way that you have, then how do we know that our ideas are about the same thing?
    Our ideas and understanding have nothing to do with your measurement of the state of affairs, an almost unavoidable occurrence. If you don’t understand what I wrote, you can ask for specific clarifications. I was contrasting quantum interpretations that hold to the principle of counterfactual definiteness vs interpretations that hold to the principle of locality vs interpretations that hold to neither principle. I’m in the 2nd camp. The two principles are mutually contradictory so they can’t both be true.

    Where is this alternate mammal species in relation to the scribble, "unicorn" and where is this different evolutionary history in relation to the scribble, "different evolutionary history"?
    It doesn’t exist relative to the scribble.

    The problem with this though is that it requires a measurer for any state-of-affairs to be the case, but then who measures the measurer? It's measurements all the way down.
    Or all the way up, yes. I see this as a solution, not a problem. My ability to measure past states of affairs is not a function of my existence (or lack of it) relative to some future state of affairs.

    If you and I disagree about the nature of some state-of-affairs, then are we taking different measurements of the same state-of-affairs and talking about our measurements and not the state-of-affairs that is being measured?
    You seem to be talking about epistemology again. It is physically impossible for us to take different measurements and still subsequently communicate. It would be a contradiction.

    Usually there are several (4 to hundreds) of instruction streams running at once. — noAxioms
    Maybe I’m not getting your usage of ‘at once’, which I’m probably incorrectly equating to ‘at the same time’. — Harry Hindu
    I mean at the same time. There are many instruction streams being executed at the same time in a modern game. Sure, there was one back in the old pacman days, but things have moved on. I’ve spent most of my career writing code that has to operate correctly even in the face of other processors accessing and changing the same data that I’m using. This all seems kind of off-topic to me. Where was this going?

    All potential actions by a player are constrained by the code. A player can't use a baseball bat in the game if there is no code for a baseball bat in the program.
    What if he builds one? The code won’t know it’s a bat, but the player can still use it if the physics of the game is sufficiently versatile. Admittedly, most games these days are still astonishingly crude and are for the most part constrained in the ways you indicate.

    Then how do we know that we are talking about the same thing?
    We’re often not. But the word ‘rock’ means something fairly similar to both of us, a consensual usage of the term, enough for pragmatic purposes.

    I'm trying to understand the relation between your use of scribbles and what they reference, and how that relation would be useful to me if to me it is a different relation than it is to you.
    OK, I think I already answered that. Scribbles reference language. Language references concepts. Concepts sometimes reference physical things. One can directly discuss the scribble in the absence of its relation to language. Here’s a scribble: W
    Where is that scribble? Is the one on my screen the same as the one on yours? Does it go away if I close the tab? Does it have a worldline? Does the scribble exist to you before I post this reply? Does any of this have anything to do with the scribble referencing something?

    If "X exists in relation to you" and "X exists in relation to me", are you talking about the relations or X?
    I’m talking what I suspect is a view that is more self consistent than most people’s choices of view, but it would help if inconsistencies were identified.
    To directly answer the question, when saying statements like the ones above, I’m probably talking about X, and the rest is implied.

    If you're talking about the relation, then how can I ever understand the relation between you and X when I am not you
    If we can talk, then my relation to X is effectively the same as yours. This is assuming a pragmatic definition of ‘me’ and ‘you’.

    The same goes for any scribble, like words. I don't understand what you mean by mathematics working even without humans to utilize them. It seems that for something to work, it needs to be utilized.
    Well I’m not postulating that necessity.

    How would the sum of two and two equal four if not by there being a quantity of some thing, and for there to be a quantity of some thing ...
    Let me put it this way. What prevents the sum of two and two from being four in the absence of anything to quantify? You have to demonstrate that the postulate above (the one I’m rejecting) is necessary, else I’m free to reject it. I’m not making a claim other than the negative claim of the necessity of the postulate.

    Scribbles are not abstractions. Is, "alhg;alhdjlshtjh;ajhj;thjk b:Jbfjht" an abstraction?
    Granted, scribbles are not necessarily meaningful language and hence don’t necessarily correspond to abstractions.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Only if the implication is obvious, which it often isn’t in this discussion. So with the unicorn, it’s not implied. One often has to be explicit such as when you ask if the earth and moon exist without humans which explicitly excludes the implied reference of ‘relative to that which asked the question’.noAxioms
    We are talking about your proposition that "X exists" is a relation. What are the components of this relation if not X and the one making the statement about X existing? There is also the relation between some scribbles and the state-of-affairs it represents ,as in " "X exists" is a relation". I'm assuming that you are using scribbles to refer to a state-of-affairs (like "X exists" is a relation) and that state-of-affairs you are referring to is not more scribbles.

    Yea, but then one gets careless and says something like “I exist” which is tautologically meaningless (per Rovelli). My ontology is pretty straight-up Rovelli’s relational view, so most of what I’m repeatedly explaining is that.noAxioms
    Why would "I exist" be any different than "X exist"? You said that "X exists in relation to me". What does the scribble, "X exists in relation to me" refer to, or are you just making scribbles on the screen that don't refer to anything (in other words you aren't saying anything at all)? Are you trying to communicate a truth of reality - something that is true whether I am aware of or agree with it or not? What is your intent in putting these scribble on this screen if not to communicate some state-of-affairs, or some truth about reality?

    It isn’t in relation to you, at least not in the Y-measures-X sort of relation. Both you and the unicorn measure Steve (the stegosaurus, remember him?), so you’re related to each other (a bi-directional relation) in that sense. Bryce DeWitt (coiner of term ‘MWI’) would have said that you and the unicorn exist on Earth in separate worlds with Steve being in the common history of both, neither existence being more preferred than the other, but MWI doesn’t define existence as a function of measurement. Only collapse interpretations do.noAxioms
    What is the difference between the relations between Steve and the unicorn and me and the unicorn? I have no idea what you are talking about when you say that the unicorn and I exist on Earth in separate worlds. Are "collapse interpretations" a state-of-affairs? If not, then what are you referring to when you use the scribbles, "collapse interpretations"?

    Well, language references concepts, and thus it’s about the concept’s relation to some physical entity or not. I mean, I might talk about how a lion takes down its prey, but I’ve not identified a specific lion, so the comment pretty much associates the word ‘lion’ with the lion concept and little more.noAxioms
    I depends on what you intend to communicate. You couldn't talk about how a lion takes down its prey without watching a specific lion. If you haven't seen a specific lion take down its prey and are just going by what you have heard, is what you heard or read about a specific lion or an abstract one? How do you know how a lion takes down its prey? If abstract lions have no relation with specific lions, then what leads you to make statements about how lions take down their prey? What are you actually saying, or talking about? What is it that you want me to know or understand when reading your scribbles? Do you want me to know what specific lions do or what abstract lions do?

    Sure, why not? The name refers to a concept, and like the distant star, doesn’t correspond to anything that I’ve measured.noAxioms
    What is a concept and what is the I that holds it and talks about it? If you can talk about concepts like you can talk about specific lions, then what is the difference between the two if not some measurement?

    The latter doesn’t seem a possible outcome of Earth evolution any more than does Harry Potter’s abilities.noAxioms
    What is possible is just another abstraction which is different than what is actual. I'm not interested in what is possible, only in what is actual so maybe we should stick to lions and not unicorns because you could be wrong about what is possible, no? If not, then what you call "possible" is actually "actual".

    I’m talking about the mug but must necessarily utilize shared concepts to do so. The existence of the construct that I’ve happened to qualify with the word ‘mug’ is dependent on my measuring it, not on my concept or awareness or naming of it.noAxioms
    You only need to use shared concepts if I wasn't there sitting across from you measuring the mug with you. It would be redundant for you to say "the mug is in front of me" because the existence of the construct of the room with with you and the mug is dependent upon my measurement of the room which includes the mug being in front of you. If the mug is in front of both of us then are we measuring the same mug? If we both say, "the mug is in front of me" are we talking about the same relation or the same mug?

    Measurement is about decoherence and has zero to do with awareness. People/conscious entities are not special in this regard. I’ve said this repeatedly.noAxioms
    Strange. How can you talk about measurements or decoherence that you are not aware of? If you aren't aware of some measurement or decoherence, then those measurements and decoherence that you are not aware of that you are talking about can only be abstractions, yet you keep saying that you are not talking about abstractions.

    Is awareness a relation? If so, then in what way is the relations of awareness and existence different?
    Awareness is a relation which seems to relate epistemological states to sensory input. It has nothing to do with the sort of existence I’m describing.
    noAxioms
    But that is what I'm asking: what is the difference between the relation of awareness and the relation of existence?

    A worldline seems to be an identity, which in turn seems to be an abstraction only.noAxioms
    You've used the word, "worldline" at least a dozen times just on this page alone while at the same time asserting that you are not talking about abstractions. So, every time you've use the word to support something else you've said, what you said is based on an abstraction.

    An exchange of scribbles is communication, not a worldline. I’m talking about sets of physical system states, not the concept of them. Sure, you potentially are not human, but some physical process is generating your end of this discourse, not just my concept of these posts. Said process, if not human, I suppose would have a less clearly bounded worldline than would a human one.
    noAxioms
    Concept and abstraction are synonyms. You just described a worldline as an abstraction and then now say it's not a concept. These "physical systems states" seems to be what I've been talking about when I use the phrase, "state-of-affairs" and "what is the case". And your use of the phrase, "some physical process is generating your ends of this discourse" is what I mean when I use the term "causation". This discussion is having of problem of moving forward because you seem intent on moving goalposts and disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing. I don't see the world as convoluted or as complex as you seem to be describing it. At the end of all this scribble-making I am no closer to understanding your position than I was at the beginning.

    Let me put it this way. What prevents the sum of two and two from being four in the absence of anything to quantify? You have to demonstrate that the postulate above (the one I’m rejecting) is necessary, else I’m free to reject it. I’m not making a claim other than the negative claim of the necessity of the postulate.noAxioms
    I'm saying that the absence of anything to quantify is what prevents the sum of two and two from being four. I'm also saying that the absence of categories is what prevents quantities of anything from existing. In rejecting it you are making a positive claim that there are ways of demonstrating two and two being four independent of categories and the quantity of members that form that category. I've asked you several times now what that would look like. To reject it means that you must have some other idea of what "four being the sum of two and two" is. What do you mean by the scribble "two" and "four", if not some quantity of similar objects the define a category? You used the word, "sum". What do you mean by that if not conclusion of adding quantities? In using the terms, "two" "four" and "sum" you're making a positive assertion about something. What is it?
  • noAxioms
    979
    We are talking about your proposition that "X exists" is a relation.Harry Hindu
    It’s a definition, not a proposition.

    What are the components of this relation if not X and the one making the statement about X existing?
    In classical mechanics, the components are simply the two systems, the one measuring and the one being measured. In quantum mechanics, the thing measured (X) is a physical variable, or quantum event, and then only if the state of the measuring system becomes a function of the measured variable of the measured system.

    There is also the relation between some scribbles and the state-of-affairs it represents ,as in " "X exists" is a relation".
    An identification of a relation doesn’t seem the same as a description of a state of affairs. No physical state of affairs is described by your example comment. I suppose it is context dependent. In your context above, ‘X’ might be a state of affairs, but “X exists” is not, but the scribble “X exists” is a state of affairs which happens to represent an action having been taken, arguably not a state of affairs. At the end of last post you showed a scribble that didn’t represent anything. Similarly, some scribbles are meaningful but are not necessarily an expression of a state of affairs.

    Why would "I exist" be any different than "X exist"?
    In QM, a measurement collapses the wave function of the measured thing, but no thing (the cat say) can collapse its own wave function, at least not relative to anything not-cat, so the statement seems not to represent any sort of measurement other than one expects any system to be in a self-consistent state. The dead cat doesn’t measure live cat components and v-v.

    What does the scribble, "X exists in relation to me" refer to
    That scribble refers to language.
    Are you trying to communicate a truth of reality
    I’m trying to communicate a view of the universe (which I’m reluctant to call reality). I’m not asserting it to be any kind of necessary truth.
    What is your intent in putting these scribble on this screen if not to communicate some state-of-affairs, or some truth about reality?
    To communicate a consistent view, minimizing unresolved issues. Sorry, but I’m not some troll insisting that his pet view must be the truth.

    What is the difference between the relations between Steve and the unicorn and me and the unicorn?
    Both measure Steve, but neither you nor the unicorn measure each other. So you’re related through Steve, but not through measurement.

    I have no idea what you are talking about when you say that the unicorn and I exist on Earth in separate worlds.
    Well both measure Steve who lives on Earth, so in that sense both you and the unicorn measure a common Earth, even its only a prehistoric one. Calling them worlds is an MWI term. Other worlds exist in MWI. They don’t in a relational view since you can’t measure other worlds by definition. Those worlds can’t measure you either.

    Are "collapse interpretations" a state-of-affairs?
    No, it’s a category of quantum interpretations that posit collapse of a wave function upon measurement. RQM technically isn’t a collapse interpretation, but the classic version of it (one that has meaningful persistent objects) is.

    If abstract lions have no relation with specific lions, then what leads you to make statements about how lions take down their prey?
    You asked about how scribbles, and the language to which the relate, relate to states of affairs. This example (of how a lion typically takes down its prey) gets little further than the relation to the concept. The lion itself relates in the way a particular relates to a universal. 2+2=4 is sort of a universal statement, not a particular one.

    If you can talk about concepts like you can talk about specific lions, then what is the difference between the two if not some measurement?
    Part of the mental realm is that it only deals with concepts. The potential correspondence of those concepts to hypothetical or actual states of affairs is I believe part of the philosophy of mind. Different topic I’d say. I prefer my measurers to be rocks and such so that one doesn’t have to deal with such epistemological sidetracks.

    I'm not interested in what is possible, only in what is actual so maybe we should stick to lions and not unicorns
    No, because you very much used ‘actual’ there as a property and not a relation. If discussion is confined to things that you’ve personally measured, then the view cannot be conveyed. It necessarily must involve things that you’ve not measured, be they distant particular stars or hypothetical creatures that are only fictional to us.

    If the mug is in front of both of us then are we measuring the same mug?
    In a classical sense, yes, but the same thing can be said of Steve instead of the mug. The difference with the mug is that we mutually measure each other, but only in a classical sense.
    If we both say, "the mug is in front of me" are we talking about the same relation or the same mug?
    Only in a classical sense. If we get down to the physical variable level, then no since for instance we cannot both detect the same photon coming from the mug system. I’m trying to mostly keep the discussion at the classical level.

    How can you talk about measurements or decoherence that you are not aware of?
    Talking about stuff requires something akin to awareness, but decoherence of a system doesn’t involve talking or awareness at all. A rock can do it as much as any person.
    It seems very difficult to drive home the point that humans or consciousness is not special in physics. Are you capable of grasping such a thing?

    Is awareness a relation?
    I don’t see how it could be otherwise. The very word implies sensory input, and not just the concept of sensory input.

    If so, then in what way is the relations of awareness and existence different.
    Existence of X relative to Y doesn’t require either X or Y to be aware.

    You've used the word, "worldline" at least a dozen times just on this page alone while at the same time asserting that you are not talking about abstractions.
    Worldlines are physical, at least at the classic level. That I have a word that abstracts to my concept of one doesn’t mean that a rock doesn’t have a worldline in the absence of anything abstracting it.
    All communication is done necessarily via abstractions, but it doesn’t necessarily imply that it’s the abstractions being discussed. Classical physics is emergent from more fundamental things which don’t have classical properties like worldlines. A classical named thing (like you, me, a rock, Earth) are admittedly pragmatic abstractions. Physics doesn’t recognize them as systems with boundaries and identities, but they operate as if they did, even in the absence of language and abstraction. When I want to explicitly call out a classical object, I might call it a worldline. It implies a persistent classical identity, but no persistent quantum thing holds to the law of identity in the view I’m describing, as well as other interpretations. People are often averse those views because one’s identity is a strong bias and people don’t like having their biases challenged.
    Parfit did a lot of exploration showing how classical identity is inconsistent, but also unimportant. In my case, and dropping to B mode: noAxioms of May 10 (called noax10) cannot measure noax20, but noax20 can measure noax10. If noax10 and noax20 are the same thing, then how is one measurable and the other is not? It would be existing and also not existing, a contradiction.

    Concept and abstraction are synonyms. You just described a worldline as an abstraction and then now say it's not a concept.
    Words are concepts/abstractions. I agree with the synonym. But such concepts also have physical counterparts. I have a physical mailbox, despite the word mailbox initially invoking a mailbox concept. Concepts sometimes relate to physical states of affairs. Worldline is one such example, even if it falls apart outside the classical level.

    These "physical systems states" seems to be what I've been talking about when I use the phrase, "state-of-affairs" and "what is the case". And your use of the phrase, "some physical process is generating your ends of this discourse" is what I mean when I use the term "causation". This discussion is having of problem of moving forward because you seem intent on moving goalposts and disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.
    But I’m trying to discuss the ‘state of affairs’ and it seem to me that you keep steering things towards the mental representations of those states and not the states themselves. This is what I’ve seen pas reventing progress. I’m not trying to disagree for its own sake. Sometimes if you push for details, the goalpost does move, such as discussion of a physical thing (like a bridge) really isn’t a ‘thing’ at all on close inspection but is rather a series of physical variables which doesn’t sound much like a bridge at all.

    I’m not trying to convolute things. At the classical level, if you leave epistemology out of it, then Y measures X and thus X exists (and continues to exist even) to Y. That’s not really the heart of the view (the 2+2=4 gets closer to the heart), but it’s as far as we’ve managed to get. The one-line description above seems to be how our physics works, but I’ve examined other kinds of physics and most of them don’t work that way. Existence of things might be relative to the structure (the universe in question), but not at all relative to measurement. They exist independent of measurement. That’s not true in most interpretations of quantum mechanics, so I needed to start with a view defining existence through measurement. That part is hardly new, but we can’t seem to get past it.
    I'm saying that the absence of anything to quantify is what prevents the sum of two and two from being four.
    Just asserting this or would some contradiction result?

    In rejecting it you are making a positive claim that there are ways of demonstrating two and two being four independent of categories and the quantity of members that form that category.
    OK. Think of say a pair of complex numbers. Complex arithmetic works despite the lack of any quantity of members that form that category.

    I've asked you several times now what that would look like. To reject it means that you must have some other idea of what "four being the sum of two and two" is.
    It seems that any attempt to suggest ‘what it would look like’ reduces it from a fundamental thing to it being instantiated by a more fundamental abstractor or observer.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Münchhausen/Agrippa's Trilemma

    Also,

    Hello, hello, 911, T Clark just shot himself!
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