• Isaac
    7.4k
    It's odd. It has always been the case (though few would ever have found out) that two observers viewing objects moving at different relative speeds would measure them to be different lengths, Two cavemen would have experienced this (had they ever measured near light-speed moving objects). Up until Einstein, we might have been tempted to see this as an indicator of the relativity of truth. "Bob says the ship's 10 feet, but Jim says it's 40, we've no reason why they're measuring it differently, I guess the truth of it is just different for Bob than Jim".

    Someone really smart comes along and explains the exact cause of that difference, explains the factors of the real world which cause it to be 10 and 40 feet respectively (and not 3 inches, 6 miles, or anything else), and instead of putting the matter to rest, his work gets held up as proof of the original error being right, rather than the resolution of that error.
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    Einstein predicted it based on science. Confirming observations were made after the predictions.Real Gone Cat

    Of course. But Einstein was compelled to ask the question 'Doesn't the moon continue to exist when nobody's looking at it?' There are very deep questions about the nature of scientific realism brought up by modern physics, many of which seem to implicate the requirement for an observer, thereby undercutting the idea that reality is 'just so' independently of any act of observation.

    It is based on the converse view, that the laws of physics are the same for all observers.Banno

    It is true that relativity explains the apparent discrepancy of the measurement of objects moving in different reference frames, but notice that it must include reference to the observer - which is related to what disturbed Einstein about later developments in quantum physics.

    The dependence of what is observed on the choice of experimental arrangement made Einstein unhappy. It conflicts with the view that the universe exists "out there" independent of all acts of observation. In contrast, Bohr stressed that we confront here an inescapable feature of nature, to be welcomed because of the understanding it gives us. In struggling to make clear to Einstein the central point as he saw it, Bohr found himself forced to introduce the word "phenomenon". In today's words, Bohr's point - and the central point of quantum theory - can be put into a single, simple sentence. "No elementary phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is a registered (observed) phenomenon." ...In broader terms, we find that nature at the quantum level is not a machine that goes its inexorable way. Instead what answer we get depends on the question we put, the experiment we arrange, the registering device we choose. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to happen. — John Wheeler, Law without Law

    But nobody knew that such a difference could be observed prior to Einstein's theory.
  • Real Gone Cat
    220


    Not sure what you mean. What was the original error?
  • Isaac
    7.4k
    Not sure what you mean. What was the original error?Real Gone Cat

    It was a hypothetical. I'm just saying that it has always been the case that two observers would measure objects at different lengths depending on their relative speed. We might hypothetically have put this down to the idea that the ship's length is a feature of the observer, until Einstein showed how that was not the case, but rather actual physics could cause that phenomena.

    I just find it odd that rather then being seen as a resolution of a potential error (seeing the ship's length as a feature of the observer), Einstein's work is so often held up as proof that this is the case.
  • Real Gone Cat
    220


    But not Relativity. It's effects are NOT dependent on the mind of the observer. Differences in observations are due to the position and speed of the observers.

    And I am uninterested in pop-science descriptions of QM.
  • Banno
    17.4k


    Special relativity and quantum mechanics are quite distinct. Care must be take not to confuse the two.

    Neither of us are, I believe, physicists - I only studied it at undergrad level. A good rule of thumb is that when non physicists start to talk about physics, it is time to leave. The physics is in the equations, not in the pop-science.

    And perhaps finally, physicists are just as bad at doing philosophy as philosophers at doing physics.
  • Real Gone Cat
    220


    I'm sorry, still lost. What's the difference between "resolution" and "proof" in this case?
  • Banno
    17.4k
    I thought it was a good point. Think @Real Gone Cat is overthinking it. Nothing fun about having to explain a joke.
  • Isaac
    7.4k


    Yes. Still surprised at how much gets lost in this medium of communication. It seems I'm understood less often than than I am misunderstood. I never have this trouble at work.

    ... Or maybe I do and no one ever dared say... now there's a thought.
  • Isaac
    7.4k
    still lost.Real Gone Cat

    The idea doesn't deserve this amount of scrutiny. It's simply that Einstein solved what might have otherwise been put down to mind-dependence. It's ironic that he's now used to defend mind-dependence. He showed that there was an observer independent reason for the difference in measurement, that it was not all in the mind of the observer, that it was, in fact, caused by the external state of the universe (the speed of the objects and the location of the observers).

    It doesn't seem that way because no-one ever made such measurements to be confused about.

    I thought it would clarify if presented a hypothetical world in which the odd measurement came first and the explanation after.

    It clearly didn't.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    All I can say is that the external material world isn't necessary. :snicker:

    When purported knowledge mates with skepticism, faith is born!
  • Real Gone Cat
    220


    Oh, I didn't know Relativity was used to support idealism. My bad.

    I know anti-realists like to trot out QM as support, without really understanding it. Using science to put down science.
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    A good rule of thumb is that when non physicists start to talk about physics, it is time to leave.Banno

    And a very convenient one. The Enlightenment philosophes had no hesitation in blaring about LaPlace's Daemon when they felt it supported their lumpen materialism. But when Heisenberg and Bohr come along, oh let's keep shtum, we know nothing.

    I think a realistic layman's grasp of the philosophical issues suggested by quantum physics is not 'pop science'. There are quite a few worthwhile popular science books on the subject.
  • Real Gone Cat
    220


    Along those same lines, someone on TPF once raised the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment with reference to the half dead cat. I wryly asked if the cat knew. My comment went unnoticed.
  • Banno
    17.4k
    And a very convenient one.Wayfarer

    ...especially for those who would use it for nefarious purposes. It's a tad more complex now than in LaPlace's day.

    I know anti-realists like to trot out QM as support, without really understanding it. Using science to put down science.Real Gone Cat

    If meaning is use, then physicists ought shut up and calculate...

    Thus, Wittgenstein, even in his early work, suggests that the realist versus anti-realist debate is meaningless because both sides are trying to say things that are only showable. From this early Wittgensteinian perspective, a mathematical equation – in fact, any equation, including the ones governing quantum mechanics – is like a photograph of reality. Like photographs, we do not need anyone to interpret its meaning as realist or anti-realist. We do not need a Copenhagen or a many-worlds to indicate the sense of the equation to us, because it is already as apparent as it is ever going to be. To ask what the wavefunction represents is like asking what Michelangelo’s statue of David or Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night represents: any explanation beyond the mere facts is insufficient and subjective.
  • Michael
    10.6k
    So do you accept that the fundamental furniture of the Universe is material in nature? Whatever that turns out to be?Wayfarer

    The "whatever that turns out to be" makes the very question "is the Universe material in nature?" a meaningless question. See Hempel's dilemma.
  • Isaac
    7.4k
    My comment went unnoticed.Real Gone Cat

    All the very best comments go unnoticed, see it as a badge of honour.
  • Banno
    17.4k
    Oh, and this, too.

    Commentary on my article “Quantum Wittgenstein” in Aeon Magazine

    An approach for which I have much sympathy.
  • Isaac
    7.4k


    Fantastic articles both. Thanks for linking them.

    The latter particularly said 'narrative' a lot, so it gets my vote. I shall have to up my game if I want to win (genuinely playing 'lifetime use of the word 'narrative'' with some colleagues - apparently I say it a lot! Personally I think that just happens to fit their narrative)
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    We’ll aware of Hempel, mainly via this forum!
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    I follow that author on Medium.
  • Tom Storm
    4.3k
    Oh, and this, too.

    Commentary on my article “Quantum Wittgenstein” in Aeon Magazine
    Banno

    They were a very good read. Thanks.
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    I don’t agree with that analysis. It’s an attempt to duck the genuine conundrum which really is metaphysical. My interpretation here with a supporting citation

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/711348
  • Mww
    3.3k
    “.....Instead what answer we get depends on the question we put...”
    (Physicist, 1983)

    “...approach nature with the view, indeed, of receiving information from it, not, however, in the character of a pupil, who listens to all that his master chooses to tell him, but in that of a judge, who compels the witnesses to reply to those questions which he himself thinks fit to propose....”
    (Philosopher, 1787)

    The more things change, the more they stay the same, for both genius and clown.
  • Isaac
    7.4k
    My interpretation here with a supporting citation

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/711348
    Wayfarer

    I don't understand how that citation supports your interpretation. The authors (of the paper) state...

    This new duality omits Descartes’ res cogitans

    ...and...

    it should be noted that with respect to quantum mechanics, res potentia is not itself a separate or separable substance that can be ontologically abstracted from res extensa

    I'm also interested in how you square your belief earlier that...

    I claim that numbers, scientific principles, lexical and logical laws, and much more, are real.Wayfarer

    ...with the author's prescription that...

    QP ... do not obey the Law of the Excluded Middle (LEM) or the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC).

    If you believe the laws of logic are real and yet also believe that res potentia are real then it seems you believe two contradictory things.

    Also, you've argued the primacy of the interpretation of the observer. I wonder how you square that with the corollary of the res potentia concept that...

    measurement is a real physical process that transforms quantum potentiae into elements of res extensa, in a non-unitary and classically acausal process, and we offer specific models of such a measurement process.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10k
    I take the question of how things are to be subservient to the question of what to do. We only need to know how things are so far as it helps working out what to do.Banno

    You have your priorities reversed, and this is probably why you perceive an interaction problem with dualism. You place your own desire to act, "what to do" as higher in priority to "how things are". But in reality, many things are impossible for any of us to do, because of the state of "how things are". We must therefore give priority to "how things are", in order to determine "what to do".

    Without any respect for the priority of 'what actually is', "how things are", and the force of necessity which this bears upon us, any determination of "what to do" is unjustifiable. In other words, "what to do" can only be justified by the logically prior, and necessary, "how things are". Your refusal to accept the reality, and priority, of necessity, leads you to believe that 'the necessary' cannot interact with the real world.

    Wayfarer would discuss a spiritual aspect of the world, which seems to me an impossible task. It's not that I deny this sublime aspect of reality, but taking seriously that it is ineffable, and hence beyond discussion. Hence it becomes a place of disagreement.Banno

    Here it is, your rejection of 'the necessary', disguised as "a spiritual aspect of the world", which you cast off as "ineffable". Reasonable philosophies commonly refer to "the necessary" by means of the term "God".

    Relativity does to show that reality is dependent on the observer.

    It is based on the converse view, that the laws of physics are the same for all observers. That reality is the same for all observers.
    Banno

    Here, you try to sneak 'the necessary' in through the back door. There is, it seems, something necessary after all, "the laws of physics". The problem with this proposed backdoor necessity has been well documented by physicists such as Lee Smolin. All the laws of physics have limitations to their applicability, and break down, fail, when approaching the extremes of their applicability. Therefore it is not true that the laws of physics are the same for all observers, and your proposed backdoor necessity, "the laws of physics are the same for all observers" is an unacceptable proposition.

    Furthermore, your claim to reject scientism is hypocrisy, as you replace "God" as your means of referencing "the necessary" with "the laws of physics" in your actions. And actions speak louder than words.
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    I don't understand how that citation supports your interpretation. The authors (of the paper) state...

    This new duality omits Descartes’ res cogitans

    ...and...

    it should be noted that with respect to quantum mechanics, res potentia is not itself a separate or separable substance that can be ontologically abstracted from res extensa

    I'm also interested in how you square your belief earlier that...

    I claim that numbers, scientific principles, lexical and logical laws, and much more, are real.
    — Wayfarer

    ...with the author's prescription that...

    QP ... do not obey the Law of the Excluded Middle (LEM) or the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC).

    If you believe the laws of logic are real and yet also believe that res potentia are real then it seems you believe two contradictory things.
    Isaac

    My view of Descartes, as I've said, is the error of making 'res cogitans' a thing - which is an implication of the term 'res'. I agree with the essential argument of Descartes regarding the indubitability of being, but not that being can be conceptualised as an objective reality. (This is in line with Husserl's appraisal of Descartes).

    So I'd ask this question:

    Kastner and colleagues also reject Descartes’ res cogitans. But they think reality should not be restricted to res extensa; rather it should be complemented by “res potentia” — in particular, quantum res potentia, not just any old list of possibilities.

    What is it, then, that creates 'res actual' from 'res potentia' if not 'res cogitans'?


    The point I agree with is:

    In the new paper, three scientists argue that including “potential” things on the list of “real” things can avoid the counterintuitive conundrums that quantum physics poses. It is perhaps less of a full-blown interpretation than a new philosophical framework for contemplating those quantum mysteries. At its root, the new idea holds that the common conception of “reality” is too limited. By expanding the definition of reality, the quantum’s mysteries disappear. In particular, “real” should not be restricted to “actual” objects or events in spacetime. Reality ought also be assigned to certain possibilities, or “potential” realities, that have not yet become “actual.” These potential realities do not exist in spacetime, but nevertheless are “ontological” — that is, real components of existence.

    That coheres with the Platonist idea that number is real - not real as an object or 'something in the world' but as what Augustine calls 'an intelligible object'. Whereas there's no provision in materialist ontology for those kinds of realities. That's why I cited that Smithsonian essay on the nature of maths before, which says 'The idea of something existing “outside of space and time” makes empiricists nervous: It sounds embarrassingly like the way religious believers talk about God, and God was banished from respectable scientific discourse a long time ago.'

    As to the sense quantum objects don't obey the 'law of the excluded middle', this doesn't make logical principles any less real in their domain of application - but shows that logic is not all-encompassing or omniscient, that it has limits. But I also note Chris Fuchs Qbism:

    Along with the researchers Carlton Caves and Rüdiger Schack, he interpreted the wave function’s probabilities as Bayesian probabilities — that is, as subjective degrees of belief about the system. Bayesian probabilities could be thought of as gambling attitudes for placing bets on measurement outcomes, attitudes that are updated as new data come to light. In other words, Fuchs argued, the wave function does not describe the world — it describes the observer. “Quantum mechanics,” he says, “is a law of thought.”

    Which brings us back to Kant.....
  • Mww
    3.3k


    ‘Tis a lonely journey, methinks.

    It’s like....why even think of owning a Model T when there is an e-Ferrari. Doesn’t matter you can’t afford to buy one, couldn’t maintain it, can’t fit the family in it, and you’re afraid to take it out on bumpy roads and rainy days......
  • NOS4A2
    5.9k


    I'm not asking about the TV. I'm asking about the rock. When I see a rock on a TV screen, am I seeing the rock directly?

    You’re seeing everything in your periphery directly. A picture or video of a rock is a rock seen indirectly.

    That doesn't make it direct. There are real, physical connections when a rock is seen in the reflection of a mirror, but I'm not seeing the rock directly. There are real, physical connections when a rock is seen on TV, but I'm not seeing the rock directly.

    I wouldn’t say you’re seeing the rock directly.
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