• noAxioms
    1.1k
    Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?
    ― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

    The quote above is a popular one, and it seems to speak to the old basic question of why there is something instead of nothing. This problem seems inherent in any sort of objective realism (where existence is a property), which is almost all views. The lack of a satisfactory answer to this challenge is why I had to abandon such realism.
    The last question in the quote seems to contain some errors and implied assumptions.

    First of all, the universe is treated like an object, which seems a complete category error. Objects are finite physical arrangements of matter (systems). They exist in (are contained by) time. They are all created (caused) by the rearrangement of pre-existing matter/energy into a different form. Their boundaries are apparently human designations, a product of our language.
    The universe (defined perhaps as the entire quantum structure defined by a full descriptive unified set of equations) doesn't seem to fit this description at all, except for how it is used in language, which perhaps explains the strong bias. The universe is more like the set of real numbers, but with the addition of rules, temporal and otherwise. The structure contains time, and is not contained by it like objects are.

    The numbers act as objects (not temporal, so not 'caused' in this case). Objects are members, and so one can say an integer is not prime if there exists an integer factor other than 1 or itself. There's the word 'exists' there, but it doesn't imply any sort of objective platonic existence, only that said factor is a member of the set of integers (a subset of a larger universe of real numbers). That universe (the set of real numbers in this case) has no need of existence in order for 12 to not be prime. It is not itself an object, hence nobody says that 13 is prime only if there exist integers (well, almost nobody).

    Secondly, Hawking begs a very strong bias that the universe (category error aside) has in fact gone to the bother of existing. He should first have asked "Does the universe go to all the bother of existing?".

    If one takes an empirical definition of existence (appropriate for a temporal interactive structure such as our universe), the problem goes away. Object X (a created system) exists to system Y iff it has affected Y in any way, which requires it to at least be in Y's past light cone. Problem solved! The universe isn't in our past light cone, but certain structures/systems are. Other parts are not, so those don't exist. It is a category error to speak of the existence of the universe itself. I suppose then that 'observed universe' can be defined roughly as the portion of the structure that is in our past light cone, and the rest doesn't exist to us any more than does a unicorn.

    Comments?
    Assuming a 'property' definition of existence, but without begging the necessity of that property for empirical observation, what distinction would be observed by something having that property vs the same thing that didn't have the property? Is that a fair question, since any attempt to demonstrate it would be flagged as begging?

    - - - -

    Disclaimers: I presume humans/consciousness to play no special role except when explicitly called out. I presume no supernatural involvement. I speak of ontology and not epistemology, so for instance I consider any physical interaction to be a measurement of some system X, and 'knowledge' of X has nothing to do with this.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    objective realismnoAxioms
    As opposed to "subjective realism"? :chin:

    Btw, I suspect you know that Hawking proposes model-dependent realism to get around astute objections like yours, noAxioms.
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    First of all, the universe is treated like an object, which seems a complete category error.noAxioms

    Secondly, Hawking begs a very strong bias that the universe (category error aside) has in fact gone to the bother of existing. He should first have asked "Does the universe go to all the bother of existing?".noAxioms

    From the point of view of Aristotelean hylomorphism, Peicean semiotics, ontic structural realism, etc, the Cosmos is not an object, but a process. It doesn’t exist but persists. It isn’t created but it develops. And it is substantial in its being due to being the intersection between structural constraints and material possibility.

    So in this view, you start from a material vagueness or everythingness - a quantum foam of possibility - and this then reacts with itself to become a more limited and stable arrangement of somethingness. Existence evolves in a least action or path integral fashion where everything cancels down to whatever definite form can stabilise the situation and make for an orderly Universe unfolding in dissipative fashion in an emergent spacetime.

    This says the essence of the Universe is best captured in mathematical models of its structural principles. It is all about symmetry and symmetry breaking as this is how a stable order can emerge from pure instability. Maths does a good job speaking about the system of constraints that are the necessary aspect of a reality that self selects for its long run persistent order.

    But then there must also be the material potential as that which “breathes fire” into the equation. There must be quantum action or hot fluctuation to give the constraints the initial state of disorder to tame, in some sense.

    This too could be mathematically modelled we would hope. Or at least logically and metaphysically modelled. But it is the slipperier side of the story.
  • L'éléphant
    851
    The last question in the quote seems to contain some errors and implied assumptions.noAxioms
    I disagree. Hawking was simply stating a situation matter-of-factly. If you want to put it in philosophical terms -- Hawking is saying that science does not answer the normative question of: "...why there should be a universe ..."

    In my opinion, Hawking was giving a correct or reasonable assessment of a scientific model or theory.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k


    This is how I understand what he is saying as well.

    Rules and equations do not give rise to the universe. The model describes the universe. It takes it as given. That it is is neither modeled nor explained.
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    Thank you for your replies. I will respond, but getting time on a shared device sometimes leaves me away for long periods. This reply was started some 7 hours before I finished it.

    As opposed to "subjective realism"?180 Proof
    Per the disclaimer at the bottom, no, it isn't at all about subjectivity which seems to only apply (by definition?) to conscious systems.
    So existence as an objective property (realism) as opposed to the empirical definition: Existence by interaction, a relation of sorts.

    Btw, I suspect you know that Hawking proposes model-dependent realism to get around astute objections like yours, noAxioms.
    It doesn't seem to address the problem at all. Model-dependent reality seems pretty much totally intuitive, a view that seemed obvious (to especially neurologists) long before Hawking gave it that particular name. It seems to describe an interface between our conscious perception of the world and the noumena that's 'out there', whatever its nature. This model tends to be quite pragmatic and works excellently until analyzed rationally. I'm after a model of what's 'out there' that stands up to rational analysis, and MDR seems more a model of the interface between the two.

    The article speaks of idealism vs. realism, but it seems this is only an epistemological statement, not an ontological one, which is what I'm trying to address.

    From the point of view of Aristotelean hylomorphism, Peicean semiotics, ontic structural realism, etc, the Cosmos is not an object, but a process. It doesn’t exist but persists. It isn’t created but it develops.apokrisis
    This sounds like a description of something contained by time. I see it more as a mathematical structure, whole, not developing. It is a bit like Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis (MUH), but without the ontology attached to it, the necessity of the fire breathing that Tegmark also finds necessary to include realism along with the hypothesis that wasn't in need of it.

    So in this view, you start from a material vagueness or everythingness - a quantum foam of possibility - and this then reacts with itself to become a more limited and stable arrangement of somethingness. Existence evolves in a least action or path integral fashion where everything cancels down to whatever definite form can stabilise the situation and make for an orderly Universe unfolding in dissipative fashion in an emergent spacetime.
    I find this somewhat hard to understand, but it seems sensible enough. From it, one can derive that any observer can only 'unfold' in a portion of this foam that is stable enough for the emergence of observation.

    I'd have said that existence is defined by (not evolved into) the ordered state. Ontology sort of works backwards, with future measurements defining the existence of past states.

    I disagree. Hawking was simply stating a situation matter-of-factly. If you want to put it in philosophical terms -- Hawking is saying that science does not answer the normative question of: "...why there should be a universe ..."L'éléphant
    The question Hawking asked I find to be the wrong questions for the reasons I stated. I agree that science isn't going to provide answers since such answers don't impact empirical observations. What I see as mistakes are not scientific ones.

    Rules and equations do not give rise to the universe.Fooloso4
    Can you demonstrate this? Mathematics seems to not require ontology to work. Most people don't say that the sum of three and five is eight only if the set of numbers has the property of existence, so the set of numbers does seem to give rise to that particular sum.
  • jgill
    2.4k
    So in this view, you start from a material vagueness or everythingness - a quantum foam of possibility - and this then reacts with itself to become a more limited and stable arrangement of somethingness. Existence evolves in a least action or path integral fashion where everything cancels down to whatever definite form can stabilise the situation and make for an orderly Universe unfolding in dissipative fashion in an emergent spacetime.

    I find this somewhat hard to understand, but it seems sensible enough.
    noAxioms

    It's poetic as well.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    From an intelligent design, à la William Paley's clock, perspective what can something do that nothing can't? From all the data we've collected, from the oceanic depths to the stars above, what does it look like the universe is created for? Does this telos, whatever it is, necessitate a something, is this telos impossible with nothing?

    If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. — Carl Sagan

    Maybe God just wants apple pie! :snicker:

    Perhaps the telos of the universe isn't inferrable from the current stage it's in; could it be that there is evidence in re that, but we haven't found it yet?
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    I'm after a model of what's 'out there' that stands up to rational analysis ...noAxioms
    Well, my point about was that Hawking is that he does not to assume "objective realism" but model-dependent realism. I don't know what you mean by "rational analysis" here; care to elaborate?

    As far "out there" ontology, I think the best we can do rationally is determine – derive – what necesarily cannot be "out there", that is, cannot be real (e.g. impossible objects, impossible versions of the world, impossible worlds). I suppose, noAxiom, what's "out there" depends on what you/we mean by real. By all means, if my speculation (link) does not suffice,, propose an alternative "model".
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?noAxioms

    The lack of a satisfactory answer to this challenge is why I had to abandon such realism.[/quote]

    So is your claim that there is no why, and so that leads you to some kind of idealism rather than the usual realist response, which is to shrug and say anthropically, it is what it is?

    You need to join the dots and spell out your alternative. The OP has no clear argument that I can see.

    If you balk at the term “existing”, then why isn’t “persisting” an improvement?

    To exist does require some kind of grand reason. It does seem like a big effort to create something and one can always wonder, why bother?

    But to persist is simply to keep going because it can’t really be helped. Persistence embodies its own reasonableness. It is already to be bothered enough.

    Does the Sun exist or persist? Is it always having to give an answer as why it even bothers to continue or is that simply an inevitability given that it embodies a dissipative structure that must play out its unfolding pattern in time?

    If you switch from the object-oriented ontology you criticise to a process or structuralist ontology, then you don’t have to abandon realism quite so quickly. Structuralism also had the advantage that it sounds half-like idealism to a lot of folk anyway. :razz:
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    Rules and equations do not give rise to the universe.
    — Fooloso4
    Can you demonstrate this?
    noAxioms

    Both the human beings formulate rules and equations and the world they describe exist. The claim that the rules and equations are prior to and give rise to the world is a hypothesis. No set of rules and equations formulated by human beings has given rise to a world. Or do you think that if we keep at it long enough we will?
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    Well, my point about was that Hawking is that he does not to assume "objective realism" but model-dependent realism.180 Proof
    Sure, but that's just an interface between our perception and what's actually going on. The paper you linked only makes mention of that interface layer, not that to which it is interfacing. I'm trying to do the latter, to create an interface to a rational model that resolves the kinds of problems identified in Hawking's statement that I quoted in the OP.

    I have not read The Grand Design. It apparently goes through a history of models and I'm not sure if that history ends with a model that solves the issue brought up in said quote.

    I don't know what you mean by "rational analysis" here; care to elaborate?
    I pointed out what I thought were inconsistencies in realist statements such as the one I quoted. This isn't really about Hawking, but he stated it more clearly. The question makes assumptions which I identified, and it seems to not have a satisfactory answer. It seems irrational. But if the two assumptions (one of them a category error) are not made, the problem seems to go away, and the model resulting seems to lack this otherwise perplexing problem.

    As far "out there" ontology, I think the best we can do rationally is determine – derive – what necesarily cannot be "out there", that is, cannot be real (e.g. impossible objects, impossible versions of the world, impossible worlds).
    I see no point in that. I can make a square circle, but I see no enlightenment by pondering such things.

    I suppose, noAxiom, what's "out there" depends on what you/we mean by real.
    Given my empirical definition of existence, what's real, at least in our temporal structure, is what's measured, which means what's real is different for this than it is for that. That's just a definition, not a model.

    My model is a mathematical structure, and no, I don't claim it 'is real' since there's no specification of 'real to X'. This is similar to Tegmark's MUH, but not with Tegmark's property realism, but more like Rovelli's relational realism.


    So is your claim that there is no whyapokrisis
    No, my claim is that there isn't any existence property to apply the query 'why'. Hawking's question is like asking why time flows, when it should first ask if time flows.

    and so that leads you to some kind of idealism
    That anything (a rock on Pluto say) defines its own list of what exists? I suppose that could be categorized as idealism of a sort, with minds and such playing no role at all.

    The OP has no clear argument that I can see.
    I propose a mathematical structure, similar to MUH. I don't propose that said structure has the property of existing since it seems to empirically not differ from the same structure not having that property. That's my alternative.
    The point of the OP was not to promote that particular model, but rather to argue that having the property of existence, or lacking it, has no empirical distinction. It is thus inappropriate to assume it, especially when it brings up contradictions.

    If you balk at the term “existing”, then why isn’t “persisting” an improvement?
    Persisting seems to imply an object contained by time. I don't know how to apply the term to a different category.

    To exist does require some kind of grand reason. It does seem like a big effort to create something and one can always wonder, why bother?
    Galaxies exist to me, and they do it without a grand reason to do so. I know of no entity which expended a big effort to create them. They're actually pretty hard to prevent given the conditions we measure.

    Does the Sun exist or persist?
    Meaningless question as asked. It exists to me but it doesn't exist to say the (arbitrary) galaxy IOK-1 in the state that we see it. The sun (now) measures IOK-1 (then), but IOK-1 (then) doesn't measure the sun (at all). Most existing objects persist for a while.

    Is it always having to give an answer as why it even bothers to continue
    The question was never why it bothers to continue (persist), but why it bothers to be in the first place. With any realist position, the reality of whatever one suggests to be real is never satisfactorily explained. Why is this 'thing' real and not something else, everything else (cop-out since the property becomes indistinguishable from anything), or nothing? If the property is has no distinguishing characteristics, it is superfluous, and I'm doing away with it, thus solving the problem.

    or is that simply an inevitability given that it embodies a dissipative structure that must play out its unfolding pattern in time?
    A dissipative structure (especially a deterministic one) defines all its future states. That it actually plays out these states (structure contained by time) or not has no effect on those states. So me making this post is part of the dissipative structure regardless of the ontology of that structure, and regardless of some fire-breathing actually going to the trouble of playing it out. Hence the fire breathing is unnecessary, so the question must first ask if there is fire breathing, and not why there is fire breathing.

    I'll take a look at structuralism. I've actually been looking and have failed to put a name to what I'm trying to convey. Surely somebody else suggests such a thing.


    the human beings formulate rulesFooloso4
    Per disclaimer in OP, I am talking about neither epistemology nor anthropocentric anything. I'm talking about the nature of the universe itself, proscriptive mathematics, not the descriptive mathematics that humans use in their modelling.
    Perhaps I have misunderstood your sentence, which I admittedly truncated and thus took out of context, but I actually couldn't parse the sentence (context) as a whole.

    The claim that the rules and equations are prior to and give rise to the world is a hypothesis.
    Yes, it is. But it's not a claim that humans are prior to those equations.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    The claim that the rules and equations are prior to and give rise to the world is a hypothesis.
    Yes, it is.
    noAxioms

    Okay, so I will respond as you did to me. Can you demonstrate that this hypothesis is correct?

    In any case, this is not what Hawking was talking about. Why reference him when you are addressing something different?

    As to the problem of existence as a property, this is a good example of why Hawking held philosophy is such low regard.
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    The hypothesis that the rules and equations are prior to and give rise to the world.

    Okay, so I will respond as you did to me. Can you demonstrate that this hypothesis is correct?Fooloso4
    I didn't claim that I could, not. That's why it is a hypothesis. You seemed to claim that it cannot be, which seems to be a positive claim, hence me asking for an argument demonstrating (without begging a different view) the impossibility of the hypothesis.

    I did reword the hypothesis a little from what you posted. Your syntax made it sound like I was making a claim that the sentence itself was a statement of hypothesis, which, while true, wasn't my point at all.

    In any case, this is not what Hawking was talking about. Why reference him when you are addressing something different?
    He seems to exactly be addressing a problem that I also see. Certainly I don't see him suggesting the hypothesis that you summarized. But if I've misunderstood Hawking's use of language, I'm open to correction. Did he not make a category error in referencing the universe in the same was as one does an object? Did he also not presume some kind of realism in the asking of his question?

    As to the problem of existence as a property, this is a good example of why Hawking held philosophy is such low regard.
    And yet this fairly famous quote is purely philosophy. I see philosophy from him on occasion, and quite a bit from other publicly vocal physicists such as Carroll and Tegmark.
    I hold philosophy in quite high regard, but find I must know my physics in order to do so. For Hawking, the physics is the primary goal, and the philosophy isn't especially required for that.
  • litewave
    707
    Assuming a 'property' definition of existence, but without begging the necessity of that property for empirical observation, what distinction would be observed by something having that property vs the same thing that didn't have the property?noAxioms

    I can't imagine such a distinction and that's why I think that existence in the most general sense should be understood as it is in mathematics: as logical consistency. An object exists iff it has a logically consistent definition (identity) in a universe of discourse. And I suggest that all possible (logically consistent) universes of discourse are reducible to the universe of pure sets, which is constituted by empty sets (non-composite objects) at the bottom and their collections and collections of their collections etc. After all, all concrete objects seem to be collections and all general objects (properties) seem to be reducible to less general objects and ultimately to concrete objects. That's why in mathematics all general objects are reducible to pure sets. Mathematics describes the structural/relational aspect of reality, which is reducible to set membership relation. Necessity seems to require that there also be something that stands in those relations, or "fills the structure", so to speak, and this something is the non-structured or qualitative aspect of reality, or qualities that seem to subsume other qualities via the set membership relation.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    You seemed to claim that it cannot be,noAxioms

    My claim was with regard to what Hawking said, which had to do with rules and equations formulated by physicists. With regard to your hypothesis, what evidence or arguments do you or others have to regard this as more than speculation?

    He seems to exactly be addressing a problem that I also see.noAxioms

    Where does he claim anything like the idea that existence is a property? The universe exists and there are properties of the universe, but that does not mean that existence is a property of the universe.

    Did he also not presume some kind of realism in the asking of his question?noAxioms

    A great deal of confusion arises when certain assumptions are made on the basis of terminology -

    Hawking is a realist
    Realists claim that existence is a property
    Therefore Hawking claims that existence is a property of the universe

    What does he say to indicate that he presumed that existence is a property? The idea that existence is a property makes no sense. Something must exist in order to have properties.

    And yet this fairly famous quote is purely philosophy.noAxioms

    Do you mean this famous quote:

    Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

    The following from "The Grand Design" makes clearer what his criticism is about:

    Model-dependent realism short-circuits all this argument and discussion between the realist and anti-realist schools of thought.

    This speaks directly to what is at issue.

    There is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality. Instead we will adopt a view that we will call model-dependent realism: the idea that a physical theory or world picture is a model (generally of a mathematical nature) and a set of rules that connect the elements of the model to observations. This provides a framework with which to interpret modern science.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    measurement — noAxioms

    All sensations are actually measurements:

    1 Color: Wavelength/frequency
    2. Sound: Ditto
    3. Touch/pain: Pressure, Temperature
    4. Taste: Chemical composition & concentration
    5. Smell: Ditto

    Food for thought: We experience numbers as sensations (re ideaesthesia)
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    Persisting seems to imply an object contained by time.noAxioms

    No. It is a process manifesting temporality. You are just then projecting your object-oriented ontology on to that.

    Time and space are emergent properties in a systems or process philosophy view. The mathematical description of time and space are thus talk of limiting states of being. Everything is a pattern of relations and that then defines limits in terms of the arc from its least developed to its most developed state.

    How does your MUH style approach handle the evolution of probabilistic systems which require stuff like least action principles and central limit theorems? Temporality has to be real so a sum over histories can really happen as an evolutionary event.

    Stability of the kind that allows talk of objects - mathematical, or otherwise - only emerges once free change has gone to some equilibrium limit where further change ceases to be actual change. Dynamical balance, in other words.

    So it is confusing when you seem to back both Rovelli’s active relationalism and Tegmark’s frozen Platonism. It doesn't add up.

    Meaningless question as asked. It exists to me but it doesn't exist to say the (arbitrary) galaxy IOK-1 in the state that we see it. The sun (now) measures IOK-1 (then), but IOK-1 (then) doesn't measure the sun (at all). Most existing objects persist for a while.noAxioms

    Gobbledegook. The point was that the Sun is a classic example of something that exists as a dissipative structure. It is formed as the dynamical balance of its gravitational collapse and thermal expansion.

    The only relevance of IOK-1 is that it is so far off that it doesn't materially count when it comes to this dynamical balance persisting for billions of years until the fusion fuel runs out. The Sun likewise needs every other significant mass to also be sufficiently far away.

    It may share a lightcone with IOK-1 as a few stray ultracold photons may be absorbed into the Sun's dynamical equation. This may even be understood in retrocausal fashion as a real relation ruled by an actual least action sum. But the crucial contextual or relational fact is that the Sun is sufficiently remote from everything else to form its own local "objectness" in being a persistent ball of gas fusion.

    It can't not be related to everything all the way out to the cosmic event horizon and so share the same space and time. But what matters is that this cosmic context is in general a statistically empty heat sink in a flat gravitational balance so far as the Sun is concerned. No forces act on it in a way that makes a damn difference to it being a self-organising ball of fusion.

    With any realist position, the reality of whatever one suggests to be real is never satisfactorily explained. Why is this 'thing' real and not something else,noAxioms

    Evolutionary arguments are realist. Their mathematical logic is also undeniable. In any ensemble of possibilities, there will be interactions. A collective statistical state will evolve as a consequence. Global order will arise out of chaos just because every interaction becomes some degree of limitation on every other. Complete freedom always averages itself to some collective persistent state just because anything else would be logically impossible.

    So a relational view of ontology just gives you a global selection principle for nothing. If something is real, and another is not, you know that some global macrostate favoured the one outcome and suppressed the other in a blind statistical fashion.

    And if you believe in quantum retrocausality, it gets even better. The Wheeler-De Witt universal wavefunction could even pluck its own necessary initial conditions out of its past. The dissipative structure of the future cooling~expanding heat sink Cosmos could act as the constraint selecting for that kind of Big Bang beginning. The ends did justify the means.

    A dissipative structure (especially a deterministic one) defines all its future states. That it actually plays out these states (structure contained by time) or not has no effect on those states.noAxioms

    Well if you smuggle in the qualification of "determinism" then sure, you recover an ontology of that kind.

    But I thought I was explicit. My view follows Peirce in regarding indeterminism (or logical vagueness) as fundamental. Determinism is what evolves in the systems approach. You have the emergence of global constraints that shape local freedoms. You have a fixity of cosmic law and some persistent grain of local action. You get the Universe as we actually find it – a limit-based story of global symmetries and their local invariances.

    I'll take a look at structuralism. I've actually been looking and have failed to put a name to what I'm trying to convey. Surely somebody else suggests such a thing.noAxioms

    I have to say that you seem to be trying to fuse two polar opposite ontologies. One is based on static existence – it just moves its objects from the real world to some Platonic realm. The other is based on cosmic darwinism and self-organising emergence. Stability is merely a state of well-regulated change. Existence is a process of achieving a long-run dynamical balance.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    My model is a mathematical structure, and no, I don't claim it 'is real' since there's no specification of 'real to X'. This is similar to Tegmark's MUH, but not with Tegmark's property realism, but more like Rovelli's relational realism.noAxioms
    You don't seem to grasp either Tegmark's or Rovelli's ideas of fundamental immanence, which like Spinoza's and Epicurus', entail that there is no "out there" – reasoning about reality necessarily happens only within, or in relation to, reality (i.e. relations of relations, multiplicity of structures, "the totality of facts, not things" (TLP), etc), such that reasoning is just another relation entangled with relations and encompassed by relations – and that "the view from nowhere" or ontological exteriority, is an illusion of "pure reason". This is why I think 'kataphatic ontology' fails (as I pointed out previously in the link ) from attempting to say what cannot be said because saying presupposes 'being at all'. As far as I can tell, noAxiom, your position conflates platonism (essential forms) & positivism (empirical facts) in way that seems "irrational".

    Also, I think you're looking for a "model" in the wrong place; at most, philosophy, proposes interpretations, criteria, methods, sometimes paradigms, (via gedankenexperiments) for evaluating and remaking models" but, in my understanding, metaphysics alone cannot deduce a defeasible, explanatory model of nature or reality as such.
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    I can't imagine such a distinction and that's why I think that existence in the most general sense should be understood as it is in mathematics: as logical consistency. An object exists iff it has a logically consistent definition (identity) in a universe of discourse.litewave
    That sounds about right, except in our temporal structure, I'm defining the 'universe of discourse' to be what is measured by a given system state, which for the most part is the events in that system's past light cone. The entire universe seems to lack any of that empirical sort of existence since there's nothing to measure/collapse it.
    Of course the nature of the mathematical quantum structure has been left entirely unspecified. If one models Bohmian mechanics, existence isn't relative at all, and the entire universe is defined. There's no collapse. If the structure follows say MWI, it becomes more empirical/relational like I describe.

    After all, all concrete objects seem to be collections and all general objects (properties) seem to be reducible to less general objects and ultimately to concrete objects.
    Can you give an example of this?


    With regard to your hypothesis, what evidence or arguments do you or others have to regard this as more than speculation?Fooloso4
    That it solves the reality problem of explaining the reality of whatever one suggests is real. It solves it by not suggesting it, or even giving meaning to such a property.'

    Where does he claim anything like the idea that existence is a property?
    When he suggests that fire needs to be breathed into it, making it real, a property since no relation is specified or implied. Tegmark uses the exact same phrase with the same meaning.

    The universe exists
    There you go. That's an objective statement (ignoring the category error). This universe exists. Some other universe perhaps doesn't. What's the difference except for this one property of existence? Is there a set of things that exists and another disjoint set of things that don't? How does that meaningfully distinguish one from the other?

    Hawking is a realist
    Realists claim that existence is a property
    Alternative, except for him not being explicit about it? What else does anybody mean when they suggest something is real, without implication of a relation? What does he mean about breathing-fire if not the setting of this property?

    Something must exist in order to have properties.
    A unicorn has the property of having a horn on its head. So I disagree with this assertion. The property does seem to be inherited, so only a real unicorn can have a real horn on its head, but I'm not claiming the unreal unicorn has a real horn on its head. On the side, you're not real to the unicorn, but that's using my definition, not the property one.

    Do you mean this famous quote:

    Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.
    No, I mean the quote in the OP. This one is known as well, and I agree with it, which is why I don't bother much with philosophers that did their work over a century ago before relativity and QM. I'm actually trying to contribute to this effort of keeping up.

    Model-dependent realism short-circuits all this argument and discussion between the realist and anti-realist schools of thought.
    Not sure what he considers an anti-realist to be here, or if I'm on that side.


    No. It is a process manifesting temporality.apokrisis
    What's an example of a process that doesn't manifest temporally?

    Time and space are emergent properties in a systems or process philosophy view. The mathematical description of time and space are thus talk of limiting states of being. Everything is a pattern of relations and that then defines limits in terms of the arc from its least developed to its most developed state.
    Seems ok.

    How does your MUH style approach handle the evolution of probabilistic systems
    Perhaps by not being one of the probabilistic ones. I agree that dice-rolling seems to require a form of reality.

    stuff like least action principles and central limit theorems? Temporality has to be real so a sum over histories can really happen as an evolutionary event.
    I thank you for this. Food for thought, which is what I'm after here. I suspect I'll be going over the replies more slowly after the incoming rate dies off. Much of your terminology requires research on my part.

    So it is confusing when you seem to back both Rovelli’s active relationalism and Tegmark’s frozen Platonism. It doesn't add up.
    The frozen Platonism is precisely what makes me reject the view. The mathematical part makes sense, but without the ontology, or only with the relational ontology.

    The sun (now) measures IOK-1 (then), but IOK-1 (then) doesn't measure the sun (at all). Most existing objects persist for a while.
    — noAxioms

    Gobbledegook. The point was that the Sun is a classic example of something that exists as a dissipative structure.
    It exists to us as such a thing, yes. Yes, it is a dissipative structure, but it is a counterfactual statement to say it exists to the IOK-1 that we see. This is of course a QM dependent suggestion, but I'm typically going with one of the local ones. Under say Bohmian mechanics again, yes the sun exists as a part of the entire universe (relative only to that), and isn't dependent on a relation with a system within it. But Bohmian mechanics embraces counterfactual definiteness.
    As mentioned above, this is part of keeping up with modern developments in science.

    The only relevance of IOK-1 is that it is so far off
    The IOK-1 that we see is so far in the past that our sun is nonexistent (not even close to being in its past light cone). If somebody there got into a really fast ship and followed a neutrino from there to this location in space, the probability of finding our sun here is nil. BTW, I chose IOK-1 because its name was short and it was reasonably far off.

    It may share a lightcone with IOK-1
    It doesn't. Our sun exists nowhere in the past light cone of the IOK-1 state that we see.

    So a relational view of ontology just gives you a global selection principle for nothing. If something is real, and another is not, you know that some global macrostate favoured the one outcome and suppressed the other in a blind statistical fashion.
    You don't seem to understand what I'm trying to convey at all. You describe an objective division, not a relational one.

    Well if you smuggle in the qualification of "determinism" then sure, you recover an ontology of that kind.
    Agree. It does indeed get fun once you put retrocausality into it. I have no hard evidence that this isn't the case, but I'd have a struggle to fit it into my view, which admittedly works better with deterministic mathematics.

    But I thought I was explicit. My view follows Peirce in regarding indeterminism (or logical vagueness) as fundamental. Determinism is what evolves in the systems approach. You have the emergence of global constraints that shape local freedoms. You have a fixity of cosmic law and some persistent grain of local action. You get the Universe as we actually find it – a limit-based story of global symmetries and their local invariances.

    The other is based on cosmic darwinism and self-organising emergence.
    Not sure how you got that out of it.


    You don't seem to grasp either Tegmark's or Rovelli's ideas of fundamental immanence, which like Spinoza's and Epicurus', entail that there is no "out there" – reasoning about reality necessarily happens only within, or in relation to, reality (i.e. relations of relations, multiplicity of structures, "the totality of facts, not things" (TLP), etc), such that reasoning is just another relation entangled[ with/i] relations and encompassed by relations – and that "the view from nowhere" or ontological exteriority, is an illusion of "pure reason".180 Proof
    That was a mouthful. I probably indeed don't grasp it, so at least more food for thought before I comment intelligently.

    As far as I can tell, noAxiom, your position conflates platonism (essential forms) & positivism (empirical facts) in way that seems "irrational".
    I thought I was trying to avoid Platonism.

    but, in my understanding, metaphysics alone cannot deduce a defeasible, explanatory model of nature or reality as such.
    That admittedly sounds like what I'm trying to do. I even have example mathematical structures that are far simpler (finite), but have some similar traits like being temporal, 'wave function' collapse and the relational existence that comes with it.
  • litewave
    707
    That sounds about right, except in our temporal structure, I'm defining the 'universe of discourse' to be what is measured by a given system state, which for the most part is the events in that system's past light cone. The entire universe seems to lack any of that empirical sort of existence since there's nothing to measure/collapse it.noAxioms

    In the most general definition of existence, which is equivalent to logical consistency in any (logically consistent) universe of discourse, it is not required that an object have causal relations to other objects or that an object even exist in a spacetime at all. Spacetime with causal relations is a specific universe of discourse, a part of a larger reality. And since as I said all universes of discourse are reducible to pure sets, a spacetime is reducible to pure sets too, actually since spacetime is a concrete (rather than a general) object, it is a pure set. Space is defined as a special kind of set in point-set topology and time is defined as a special kind of space in theory of relativity, so the whole spacetime is a space, which is a set. Causal relations between parts of a spacetime are a special kind of relations between sets in a spacetime (events), where certain events are logically entailed in prior events and spatiotemporal regularities we call laws of physics, in the context of the arrow of time, which is the increasing entropy (disorder) of spatial structures along the time dimension.

    "After all, all concrete objects seem to be collections and all general objects (properties) seem to be reducible to less general objects and ultimately to concrete objects."

    Can you give an example of this?
    noAxioms

    By concrete objects I mean objects that are not properties of any objects. For example, the apple that is sitting on my desk right now is not a property of anything, so it is a concrete object. But it has the property of redness, which is a general object that is instantiated in concrete red objects. And redness has the property of color, which is another general object that is even more general than redness because it is instantiated in specific colors such as redness, and ultimately in concrete objects that have those specific colors. But redness, color and other properties (general objects) are not collections, because collections of what would they be? Properties are said to have instances (instantiations, examples) instead of parts; properties are kind of diffused in their instances, thus establishing certain kinds of similarity between the instances. The most general property seems to be existence, whose instances are all existing objects, including existence itself.
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    What's an example of a process that doesn't manifest temporally?noAxioms

    Precisely. There couldn’t be in a sense except that - like the Heat Death de Sitter state - it might mark the effective end of measurable change or difference and so time that has “come to a halt”.

    This is of course a QM dependent suggestion, but I'm typically going with one of the local ones.noAxioms

    But BM is nonlocal. Any QM interpretation must now incorporate Nonlocality or contextuality of some form.

    I would argue that what QM tells us is that counterfactual definiteness is only available in the limit rather than being a basic property of reality. As in decoherence, it emerges with thermal scale. You can get arbitrarily close to the binary yes or no of the classical view of material events, but never achieve actual counterfactuality. As Zeilinger argues, when you get down to commutative variables like position and momentum, you just can’t ask both questions of nature in the same act of measurement.

    So generally now, the contextuality that is the nonlocal wholeness is accepted, which makes locality an emergent property. There is no actual wavefunction collapse. But with thermal decoherence, you effectively constrain the indeterminism to a point that is functionally determinate. This effective threshold is down around the nanoscale of quasi classical physics.

    The IOK-1 that we see is so far in the past that our sun is nonexistent (not even close to being in its past light cone).noAxioms

    I’m not following. I thought your argument was about us being in its future light cone, hence retrocausality. IOK-1 emits a photon. It eventually strikes an instrument on Earth. A quantum eraser set-up could have become part of the story at any point along its trajectory. Therefore spooky action at a temporal distance of some kind. The future lightcone has to support these kinds of contextual connections. You get a proper sum over histories story and so the local view of time is only the emergent or effective one. The one history remembers because It represented the least action path.

    Agree. It does indeed get fun once you put retrocausality into it. I have no hard evidence that this isn't the case, but I'd have a struggle to fit it into my view, which admittedly works better with deterministic mathematics.noAxioms

    Emily Adlam is doing nice work on contextuality and retrocausality - https://arxiv.org/pdf/2201.12934.pdf
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    Replies are a bit slower from me now since I have some good feedback to digest, and somebody has thrown a short notice wedding at me (not mine) which is going to eat some of the time I have to respond promptly.

    In the most general definition of existence, which is equivalent to logical consistency in any (logically consistent) universe of discourse, it is not required that an object have causal relations to other objects or that an object even exist in a spacetime at all.litewave
    Of course. My example with the primes illustrates that, and doesn’t use my ‘measures’ definition. The measurement thing seems to only work for something like our physics: temporal with locality, and hence it only works for local interpretations at that, as Apo points out below.

    Some of the set theory stuff is over my head.

    The most general property seems to be existence, whose instances are all existing objects,
    But of course that’s the exact opposite of what I’m trying to convey: the meaninglessness of existence as a property.


    But BM is nonlocal.apokrisis
    Yes, so some of my definitions (existence based on measurement) don’t work under something like BM.

    Any QM interpretation must now incorporate Nonlocality or contextuality of some form.
    Is contextuality another word for locality? Because there are interpretations that incorporate neither.

    I would argue that what QM tells us is that counterfactual definiteness is only available in the limit rather than being a basic property of reality. As in decoherence, it emerges with thermal scale. You can get arbitrarily close to the binary yes or no of the classical view of material events, but never achieve actual counterfactuality.
    You’re saying that classical physics approaches counterfactuality, just as it approaches locality. But QM doesn’t actually say whether one, the other, or neither is a basic property.

    The IOK-1 that we see is so far in the past that our sun is nonexistent (not even close to being in its past light cone).
    — noAxioms
    I’m not following. I thought your argument was about us being in its future light cone, hence retrocausality.
    It is in the sun’s past light cone, so the sun’s measurement of it causes its existence relative to the sun. That’s the retrocausality for ontology, given the measurement definition.
    The sun is only sort of in the future light cone of IOK-1. It (the system in the state we see) can’t measure our sun, and our sun is only a low-probability outcome, assuming non-deterministic empirical physics.
    An example of the distinction, Everett’s interpretation is completely deterministic, but not empirically deterministic since there is no way to predict what you’ll have measured in tomorrow’s observation.
    BM on the other hand is deterministic in both ways, and in that interpretation, the sun exists relative at best to the universe, and the relation to IOK-1’s light cones is irrelevant.

    IOK-1 emits a photon. It eventually strikes an instrument on Earth.
    From IOK’1’s point of view, that’s a counterfactual statement. It’s not meaningful in a local interpretation.

    A quantum eraser set-up could have become part of the story at any point along its trajectory.
    BM has that kind of retrocausality as well. Local interpretations don’t, so there’s no erasing or spooky action in them.
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    You’re saying that classical physics approaches counterfactuality, just as it approaches locality. But QM doesn’t actually say whether one, the other, or neither is a basic property.noAxioms

    But QM sets it all up. It says there are two questions that could be asked that would fully dichotomise your coordinate system – your basis of measurement. The catch is – on the finest scale of resolution – you can't ask them both at the same time. The issue of commutative order kicks in.

    So QM stands for the division of reality into its complementary extremes – the standard move of metaphysical logic since Anaximander and even before. You have position and momentum as your two crucial measurements that define "something actually happening in the spacetime vacuum".

    Or in a less clearly defined fashion – as time remains outside the current quantum formalism – you have the complementarity of time and energy as the coordinate system for measuring quantum action. Another way of looking at "something actually happening in the spacetime vacuum", that then fuzzes out on the fine grain view due to Heisenberg uncertainty.

    So QM sets up the bivalent metric that is needed to measure a hierarchically organised cosmos – one which is defined in terms of the classical local~global scale distinction.

    Note how position speaks to the local invariance that derives from spin – one arm of Noether's/Newton's conservation of angular momentum principle. And momentum speaks to the other arm of translational coordinate invariance – the matching global view when it comes to measuring some classical difference that ain't in fact a difference, being simply a first derivative inertial freedom, and thus a ground zero as your measurement basis ... in a world that is now explicitly dynamical as rotation and translation are its ground states.

    And note how QM sets even this up as the quantum vacuum is never empty, just has some dynamical balance as its ground state. Time remaining outside the formalism is how the world starts already energetically closed ... making QFT a little semi-classical and in need of QG to unite it with the fundamentally open perspective of GR. Another more basic level of cosmic coordinate defining.

    Anyway, side-tracked as usual. QM poses its dichotomous question with its commutative order catch. Classical mechanics – the notion of a quantum collapse – then delivers some counterfactually definite measurement.

    This is easy to do, due to thermal decoherence, when you stand right in the middle of the local~global divide in terms of measurement scale. Newtonian mechanics is what you see in a low temperature and inertially constrained reference frame. You can measure position and momentum in a way that seem to give you concrete initial conditions and so a deterministic trajectory for every event ... after the "retrocausal" principle of least action has been built into your Newtonianism as Lagrangian mechanics.

    But as you head down to the Planck scale, it all gets too small, hot and fuzzy. Your classical coordinate system falls apart.

    Well at least to a degree as you can answer one question at a time, if not two. That would be the advantage of QM not actually including time as another moving part of its story, just parking it on the semi-classical sidelines as an informal time~energy kluge that is also quite useful over all scales where time does seem to have a linear lightcone flow – where the general thermal arrow prevails and the fine-scale retrocausal corrections don't cause enough minor temporal eddies to matter.

    It is in the sun’s past light cone ... The sun is only sort of in the future light cone of IOK-1.noAxioms

    Yep. There is an asymmetry in the scale terms I just described. Time is the great big flowing river with its irreversible thermal history. The fact that is has all these tiny retrocausal eddies is something that gets washed away in the general big picture view. It is only once you get down to wanting to measure the most local grain of events – as in some set-up like the quantum eraser – that you can measure this other face of time.

    Each individual act of thermalisation is its own bit of history. It might take billions of years for a distant galaxy to complete the photonic interaction that allows it to cool down at its end and the sun to heat up by the same amount at this end. Almost all of the radiation by an IOK-1 would be absorbed by some far more local particle. Probably interstellar dust not even light years away.

    So really long-distance retrocausality would be matchingly rare as well. The time it took for an 1OK-1 photon to reach us would have impact on the overall statistical flow of the cosmic thermal arrow.

    And even then, the arriving photon would look red-shifted by its long journey. We would see that QM had balanced its accounts. The metric expansion of space is included in the equation. That is why radiation gives you extra bang for your thermalising buck. The hot photon is a very cold photon by the time it has retrocausally connected two very distance locales in spacetime and so dissipated some quanta of energy in a decoherently definite, quasi-classical, fashion.

    Everett’s interpretation is completely deterministic, but not empirically deterministic since there is no way to predict what you’ll have measured in tomorrow’s observation.
    BM on the other hand is deterministic in both ways, and in that interpretation, the sun exists relative at best to the universe, and the relation to IOK-1’s light cones is irrelevant.
    noAxioms

    Why offer BM and MWI as your orienting dichotomy of interpretations? Both are really old hat sounding these days.

    I say it is better to treat collapse and collapseless ontologies as simply mapping out the limits of the real story – the one where there may be no actual true collapse, but then indeed an effective collapse due to thermal decoherence and a relational understanding of QG.

    Reality is always contextual and so "collapse" becomes a matter of degree – determined by the scale of observation.

    On the finest grain, no collapse can be found. You just have the two questions you would have to answer to give you your bearings in a classically-imagined cosmos.

    On larger scales – ones where the spacetime metric is larger and cooler, where lightcones have the time and space to have their equilbrating effect on questions about location and momentum – then a sharp sense of classical reality emerges from the quantum vagueness and uncertainty.

    Time appears to flow like a constant c-rate thermal arrow. Space appears to remain as gravitationally flat and thermally even as it ever was – at least on the scale of galactic structure where it all should settle down to a conformal or scalefree metric.

    I was going to ask, have you checked out Penrose's twistor model which is an attempt to map everything to exactly this kind of conformal metric – a lightcone view of spacetime?

    From IOK’1’s point of view, that’s a counterfactual statement. It’s not meaningful in a local interpretation.noAxioms

    Another little point here. The fact that the photon was absorbed by a detector at one particular point in all the points that it could have hit on the same lightcone is where you find the counterfactuality in the local view.

    From IOK-1's point of view, does it give a stuff where its emitted photon lands? It sprayed the wavefunction in every possible direction. There was some probability of it going off in the precisely opposite direction. And even hitting the general vicinity of the experimenter's lab still leaves a lot of scope for narrowing things down.

    So the degree of counterfactuality is only maximised – collapsed to its limit – in the sense that the photon landed "here", and not any other "there", on the holographic boundary that is the surface of your lightcone that defines the particle's "past".

    BM has that kind of retrocausality as well.noAxioms

    BM is explicitly nonlocal. The problem is that it isn't relativistic without fudging the Born rule. So it has fatal shortcomings.

    This is why I lean towards interpretations that are "kind of nonlocal" in a way that is complementary to the way they are "kind of local". That is, dichotomistic interpretations where each aspect emerges as the limit of its "other". So causal sets and other emergent spacetime models like that.

    Adlam speaks of the new "all at once" interpretation where accepting nonlocality in both time and space – going further than BM for instance – allows you then to recover your local view in terms of the resulting sum over possibilities.

    The principle of least action finally becomes an element of reality, not some spooky teleogy that has to be invoked to make the results come out right in the measurable world.
  • litewave
    707
    "The most general property seems to be existence, whose instances are all existing objects,"
    But of course that’s the exact opposite of what I’m trying to convey: the meaninglessness of existence as a property.
    noAxioms
    Meaningless because everything has it? I would say it's just a trivial fact. The more general a property is, the more objects have it. So it seems trivial that the most general property is had by all objects.
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    So QM stands for the division of reality into its complementary extremes – the standard move of metaphysical logic since Anaximander and even before. You have position and momentum as your two crucial measurements that define "something actually happening in the spacetime vacuum".apokrisis
    QM theory says nothing of the sort. BM maybe does. A statement concerning "something actually happening in the spacetime vacuum" is a counterfactual, a principle which QM cannot demonstrate.

    The fact that is has all these tiny retrocausal eddies is something that gets washed away in the general big picture view.
    1) This assumes nonlocality. There is no retrocausality under a local interpretation.
    2) I had to go very big picture with the IOK-1 thing because you asked if the sun existed, and I had to reach pretty far to a system relative to which the sun is not only not measured, but isn’t even a very probable future outcome.

    Why offer BM and MWI as your orienting dichotomy of interpretations?
    I’m not. I was illustrating what I meant by the nonstandard term “empirical determinism”.

    I say it is better to treat collapse and collapseless ontologies
    The one I describe can be described either way. Dropping to 3rd person, Noax at t1 (Noax1) has a cat in superposition of states in a box. Noax2 observes at a live cat. Did the wave function collapse? Depends if you consider Noax1 to be the same entity (a persistent one) as Noax2. If so, the wave function collapses when Noax opens the box. If not, there’s no collapse, only two wave functions relative to different system states (beables if you want to know an appropriate term for them).

    I was going to ask, have you checked out Penrose's twistor model which is an attempt to map everything to exactly this kind of conformal metric – a lightcone view of spacetime?
    Another thing to do then. Thx.

    From IOK-1's point of view, does it give a stuff where its emitted photon lands?
    Most of them (say photons emitted more than a millisecond ago) don’t land at all, and even that is a counterfactual statement. The ones that don’t land don’t really exist (have a particular trajectory say) in a local view.

    And even hitting the general vicinity of the experimenter's lab still leaves a lot of scope for narrowing things down.
    Per my disclaimer, this has nothing to do with experimenters and labs, which are just there for our purposes. I’m just saying that your wording makes it sound like collapse (if the universe works by some collapse interpretation) doesn’t only occur in labs or when humans are involved. If the wave function is merely epistemological, then I suppose humans are very much involved, but I said up front that this isn’t about epistemology.

    BM is explicitly nonlocal. The problem is that it isn't relativistic without fudging the Born rule. So it has fatal shortcomings.
    I wasn’t aware of this. Can you expand or provide a link about this issue?


    Meaningless because everything has it?litewave
    Meaningless because there’s no distinction between everything having it and nothing having it. As the most general property, it seems entirely superfluous since I don’t know how the less general properties would be any different for the lack of this most general property.

    I would say it's just a trivial fact.
    And I’ve referred to it as just a trivial assumption. Nobody seems to be able to defend it without begging it.

    In your terminology, I see existence as a relation of “member of some universe of discourse”. But at the most general level, such a definition reduces to the meaningless “everything is a member of the set of everything” from which one cannot in any way deduce if that set has any members or not.
  • litewave
    707
    Meaningless because there’s no distinction between everything having it and nothing having it. As the most general property, it seems entirely superfluous since I don’t know how the less general properties would be any different for the lack of this most general property.noAxioms

    So the property of logical consistency is "superfluous"?
  • L'éléphant
    851
    First of all, the universe is treated like an object, which seems a complete category error. Objects are finite physical arrangements of matter (systems). They exist in (are contained by) time. They are all created (caused) by the rearrangement of pre-existing matter/energy into a different form. Their boundaries are apparently human designations, a product of our language.noAxioms

    Secondly, Hawking begs a very strong bias that the universe (category error aside) has in fact gone to the bother of existing. He should first have asked "Does the universe go to all the bother of existing?".noAxioms

    Sorry, I still don't get your objections to the quote from Hawking. And I mean by this, that you sound overzealous in laying down your reasons. As good as they are, they overextend what Hawking was saying. If I try to stretch the Hawking quote, I would say that Hawking had stripped what he was saying of all that assumptions such as universe being treated as objects. Hawking did not give any opening to warrant this sort of objections to his statement.

    So, bottom line, you make a good point, but misplaced.
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    So the property of logical consistency is "superfluous"?litewave
    I do believe I read your definition incorrectly the first time, taking it for 'is a member of a universe of discourse'. But no, you said essentially 'logical consistency', which I suppose is a relation to a set of logical rules, which themselves need to be self-consistent. I'm fairly good with that definition. It does make it sort of a property. It just doesn't distinguish any ontological difference between us and say a unicorn, the latter being something most people would not say 'exists', but you would.

    My only opinion is that I've not likely measured a unicorn, but my 'measure' definition is definitely restricted to certain causal structures such as a local interpretation of our physics.


    Sorry, I still don't get your objections to the quote from Hawking. And I mean by this, that you sound overzealous in laying down your reasons. As good as they are, they overextend what Hawking was saying.L'éléphant
    That's actually probably true. I'm reacting to my interpretation of the words. But what else is meant by the "breathes fire", "makes a universe", "should be a universe", and "bother of existing"?
    If my interpretation of those words is a bit overzealous, then what did Hawking actually mean by them?


    What for instance, other than the ontological property itself, would distinguish two sets of rules and equations, one which exists, has fire breathed into it, and the other doesn't exist, no fire, etc. Suppose they're even the same empirical thing. Let's say one is described by MWI, and the other one by Bohmian mechanics. They're very different sets of equations, but both describe the same Earth with us in it. What would be the empirical difference between L'éléphant in the one universe vs L'éléphant in the other? What test could either L'éléphant perform that identified which one was the existing one?

    Per litewave's definition, both are logically consistent, so they both exist equally, which is just a tautology.

    If I try to stretch the Hawking quote, I would say that Hawking had stripped what he was saying of all that assumptions such as universe being treated as objects.
    The 'object' thing is not the core of my objection, just a side one. It is admittedly only relevant in a structure (such as our universe) that defines a coherent concept of objects, where the objects have some of the properties I listed.
    The 2nd objection is the main one, since it applies to all the phrases I listed above
  • litewave
    707
    It just doesn't distinguish any ontological difference between us and say a unicorn, the latter being something most people would not say 'exists', but you would.noAxioms

    Well, everything exists in the way it is defined, of course. If a unicorn is consistently defined as a fairy tale creature then it exists as a fairy tale creature. But if a unicorn is defined as standing in front of my house right now then I would say it is not a logically consistent definition and therefore such a unicorn doesn't exist. The proof that such a definition of unicorn is inconsistent is simple: there is no unicorn standing in front of my house, so it would be inconsistent if a unicorn were standing where it is not.
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    Well, everything exists in the way it is defined, of course. If a unicorn is consistently defined as a fairy tale creature then it exists as a fairy tale creature.litewave
    First of all (read disclaimer in OP), I'm not talking about the concept of a unicorn, which is what any fictional story character is, fairy tale or otherwise. I'm talking about an actual equine creature with a single horn on its head somewhat similar to that of a narwhal, evolved from some ancestor that is also our ancestor. It's not logically inconsistent, hence the unicorn exists, per your definition. It probably doesn't blow rainbows out of its butt.

    But if a unicorn is defined as standing in front of my house right now
    Now you're changing the definition of 'exists' to the one I gave. My post said that a unicorn exists, per your definition of 'exists'. You seem to deny it only because you switch to an empirical definition in your logic: only things that you see can exist. A unicorn isn't itself logically inconsistent, it's just (fairly) inconsistent that it's in front of you and you nevertheless cannot sense it. A large mammal would probably be visible if it was right there in your presence.

    So once again I'm reading your definition incorrectly. Maybe it's not an empirical thing, but a 'member of this world' thing, which is a very different definition than just being logically consistent. I agree that a unicorn here on our world is not consistent with our particular universe of discourse, but I didn't ask if it existed in our universe of discourse, I asked if it exists (the general property form, not the relation with our concrete world), and it being in our particular universe of discourse is not a requirement for its logical consistency.
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