• tim wood
    9k
    Can you run a computer program absent a computer and power? And the program itself not either the computer or the power, nor the power and computer the program. Apparently you have an idea you like. Fine and good. But you also said it made perfect sense to you. Unless you're defining sense as what you like, I mean to press you as to the sense. Of course if it's just what you like, then there's no point.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    There probably isn't a point, I said upfront that I'm not capable of convincing you nor would I even want to. Most people don't see the would this way, I don't expect them to.
  • tim wood
    9k
    You're missing it. Convincing is a matter of rhetoric. But your claim, that you aver is sensible to you, is categorical/dialectical and calls for a demonstration. I am not asking for a dissertation - which I would not understand anyway - but in this case just your sense of the sense of it.

    That is, you have encountered some ideas which at least in part if not entirely you have bought. Well, now they're yours and you have brought them home. Unbox them and show and demonstrate these things you bought so that we may share in your appreciation of them.

    And I have repeatedly adverted to what I think is a flaw in the machinery that causes it to fail on startup. Kindly try to reconcile that - it's fair enough to ask, when sense is claimed, what the sense is.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    I've made as much sense of it as I'm going to. If you don't understand the intuitive notion that the rules by which reality evolves from past states to future states might be mathematical or computational, or loosely analogous to those ideas, at the root of reality, then that's it. There's nothing else for me to show you.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    If you're interested in hearing a couple scientists talk about it casually, and wildly speculate far beyond that, this is pretty good:

    https://spotify.link/zMHaM1TQiDb
  • tim wood
    9k
    Sure, I get that and entirely agree. But what I'm hearing - am I mishearing? - is that reality just is the rules. But rules are human inventions intended to encapsulate and express aspects of the reality, and reality is not but is instead something else. Or, I invite you to go out into reality and find any rule or any pattern, and you won't, because those are in the eye of the beholder and not reality itself.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    I respect your opinion.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    That podcast I linked before - if you don't want to listen to the whole thing, the most relevant bit is between 20min - 35min. They're talking about the idea that the universe is mathematical, how that idea has been strengthened over time in their view, and then wildly speculating on Max's opinion on a potential consequence of that being true (Sean Carroll agrees that the universe is mathematical but I don't think he necessarily agrees with Max's further speculation)

    https://spotify.link/zMHaM1TQiDb
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    ↪Gnomon
    Thank you for the references. I think if you read/listen to them critically, they omit just exactly the detail needed. For example, on the assumption that information is an efficient cause, then how can that work?
    tim wood
    If the "detail" you're looking for is empirical evidence, it's probably not forthcoming. Mathematics is a language for science, not an object to be studied under a microscope. Likewise, Energy is an intangible invisible force that is observed only in its physical effects, not as a ding an sich. Both Math & Energy are now regarded, by scientists & philosophers, as forms of Generic Information. Basically most of the referenced links in my posts are philosophical/theoretical generalizations & opinions, not empirical evidence. So, the bottom line is : do you trust these theoretical scientists to know what they are talking about?

    Since the advent of Quantum Theory, there has been a divergence between Theory & Practice. Classical physics, beginning around the 16th & 17th centuries, replaced the traditional philosophical observations & interpretations of Aristotle & such, with repeatable, recorded experimental evidence. But, on the quantum scale of reality, things are not that simple. Heisenberg defined the distinction between classical and quantum as "Uncertainty". For example, statistical observations cannot be just recorded as fundamental facts, they must be interpreted in the light of personal or conventional beliefs about their indirect observations. That's why Quantum Bayesianism*1*2 begins with subjective interpretations (beliefs) and adjusts the percentage of Certainty as more evidence comes in. Some empirical Quantum scientists, such as Feynman, objected to the Copenhagen incursion of philosophy into physics. Yet today, many quantum physicists are mathematical theorists (i.e. philosophers), who do no empirical work at all.

    Regarding "how can that work?", I have my own personal theory, but I also post links to sites where professional scientists publish their own philosophical opinions on the "how" question*3*4. The empirical and philosophical research is ongoing on many fronts. For example, the Santa Fe Institute for the Study of Complex Systems is at the cutting edge of Quantum Information knowledge. But it also looks for enforming & causal effects in Biology & Chemistry*5. Little of this ongoing research is textbook stuff at the moment, but the direction is obvious : everything in the world is a form of Information, including Mathematics, Mind, & Matter*6. :smile:


    *1. Quantum Philosophy :
    In physics and the philosophy of physics, quantum Bayesianism is a collection of related approaches to the interpretation of quantum mechanics, the most prominent of which is QBism (pronounced "cubism"). QBism is an interpretation that takes an agent's actions and experiences as the central concerns of the theory.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Bayesianism

    *2. Unraveling QBism :
    In QBism, the wave function represents an observer's subjective beliefs about the possible outcomes of a measurement rather than an objective description of reality.
    https://medium.com/physics-philosophy-more/qbism-a-technical-discourse-34109e2b3c16

    *3. Information causality :
    Information causality is a physical principle suggested in 2009. . . .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_causality#cite_note-1

    *4. Information converted to energy :
    Physicists in Japan have shown experimentally that a particle can be made to do work simply by receiving information, rather than energy
    https://physicsworld.com/a/information-converted-to-energy/

    *5. New paper answers causation conundrum :
    Called downward causation . . . . However, as soon as one spends a little time considering how this causality works, trouble arises.
    https://www.santafe.edu/news-center/news/new-paper-answers-causation-conundrum

    *6. Information and the Nature of Reality :
    Many scientists regard mass and energy as the primary currency of nature. In recent years, however, the concept of information has gained importance.
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/information-and-the-nature-of-reality/811A28839BB7B63AAB63DC355FBE8C81
    Note --- several of the authors of this anthology are associated with Santa Fe Institute

    *7. From Matter to Life, Information and Causality :
    If information makes a difference in the physical world, which it surely does, then should we not attribute to it causal powers?
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/from-matter-to-life/4DA89C33D0FF29E749E6B415739F8E5A
    Note --- several of the authors of this anthology are associated with Santa Fe Institute
  • tim wood
    9k
    If you and I were to describe the world we might say that apples fall, smoke rises, planets rotate and revolve and career though space, boy gets girl, uranium radiates, dogs bark, and so forth. And I imagine this just is information, though admittedly fanciful. But what of the world itself? My view is that the world knows nothing of information, knows nothing of anything. It exists as the stuff in it that constitutes it. These things interact in certain ways and not in others. And thus the world goes from this moment to the next. No information, no patterns, just immediate continuous evolution. Information, then, being merely the convenient case-labels and fictions attached, in our case, by people for people. And no doubt on a distant planet some or all of the information is radically different.

    Bell's inequality merely tells us at least some of our information is wrong or at least incomplete. We start with what seem like very reasonable suppositions, and the world says, nuh-uh that doesn't work. And then we get Feynman and others who say with becoming modesty that they do not understand it even as they work with it. But at the same time a whole cottage industry arises that replies to the world and insists that it must work on models we create, on the basis of information, even to the extent of saying that the world itself just is information!

    And the only way that makes any sense is by defining "information" in very peculiar ways, such that "information" and information no longer share meaning.

    Do laws govern the universe? Of course not; how could they, the universe primordial to any law? But do some laws seem to accurately describe how the universe seems to work? They do. But to then attribute efficiency to the law is to my way of thinking begging-the-question ignorance. Now, your exemplary practice of providing sources is admirable, but to the extent that I can access them and understand them, I find they steer clear of the issues I raise. I turn then to you to make as clear as you can - to demonstrate without ifs - that the universe is just information. Or alternatively to demonstrate that the universe as a great primordial evolving beast and nothing more is a wrong-headed view, in terms that may hope to compel assent.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    My view is that the world knows nothing of information, knows nothing of anything. It exists as the stuff in it that constitutes it. These things interact in certain ways and not in others. And thus the world goes from this moment to the next. No information, no patterns, just immediate continuous evolution.tim wood
    Would you characterize the world model described above as "Materialism", or "Physicalism", or merely "Atheism"? No information, no patterns, no interrelationships, just atoms whirling in the void? The missing element is Meaning, which is significant only to evolved creatures capable of knowing, and knowing that they know, hence possessing a Self Concept, and the concept of Other Minds.

    Before Shannon defined it in terms of abstract mathematical values, the original definition of Information was "knowledge in a mind"*1. The "form" part of Information simply refers to an Idea (a mental concept), rather than a material thing. For example, "uncertainty" is a state of mind, and Information Theory is intended to reduce the uncertainty of a communication*2. A world of mindless "stuff" would not know the feeling of uncertainty, only a world of persons can feel & know. Are you a thing, or a person?

    A world that "knows nothing of information" is a world without Ideas, a world without Meaning, just Things doing whatever Energy forces them to do. If that is the case, what is the purpose of Philosophy? Does it put food on the table for "things that interact"? Are you saying that the only form of information you are interested in is in the form of "stuff"? What kind of "stuff" do you get from this forum? :smile:

    *1. Information Etymology :
    late 14c., informacion, "act of informing, communication of news," from Old French informacion, enformacion "advice, instruction," from Latin informationem (nominative informatio) "outline, concept, idea," noun of action from past participle stem of informare "to train, instruct, educate; shape, give form to"
    https://www.etymonline.com/word/information

    *2. Information theory :
    Information theory studies the transmission, processing, extraction, and utilization of information. Abstractly, information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_theory


    a whole cottage industry arises that replies to the world and insists that it must work on models we create, on the basis of information, even to the extent of saying that the world itself just is information!
    And the only way that makes any sense is by defining "information" in very peculiar ways, such that "information" and information no longer share meaning.
    tim wood
    Another term for that "cottage industry" you mentioned is Philosophy. And yes, Philosophers & Scientists do indeed "define information in peculiar ways". One of those ways is to create imaginary "models" of reality, that are not in themselves real, but ideal*3. Another term for a mental model of reality is Theory. Do you know the real world directly, or only by means of models & theories (a la Kant)?*4

    Gregory Bateson was a people-watcher, and defined Information in a strange", but human-oriented way *5. Claude Shannon was an engineer, not a philosopher, and he redefined Information in an odd way : as a degree of uncertainty (i.e. entropy). But what is Uncertainty to a bit of stuff? What difference does Entropy make to a rock?

    On this forum, do you communicate information to mindless things, or to the minds of unseen persons, for whom that knowledge might make a difference in their understanding of the world? A world with "no pattern" is a world of Random Noise. Do you hear the static, and miss the signal?*6 :cool:


    *3. It from Bit :
    It from bit symbolises the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom — at a very deep bottom, in most instances — an immaterial source and explanation; that what we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe.
    Note --- John Archibald Wheeler was a quantum physicist, not a philosopher. But this theory is philosophical, not scientific. The metaphysical philosophy of Materialism accepts his physical science, but rejects his metaphysical philosophy.

    *4. On Reality :
    "Uncertainty" is NOT "I don't know." It is "I can't know." "I am uncertain" does not mean "I could be certain." ____Werner Heisenberg
    Real Things vs Appearances :
    The world as it is before mediation Kant calls the noumenal world, or, in a memorable phrase, Das Ding an sich, a phrase which literally means “The thing in itself”, but whose sense would be more accurately caught by translating it as “the thing (or world) as it really is”(as distinct from how it appears to us).
    https://philosophynow.org/issues/31/Kant_and_the_Thing_in_Itself
    Note --- Empirical Science aspires to reality, but due to the "mediation" of the imperfect senses, must be content with "appearances" :
    Appearance vs. Reality in the Sciences : https://academic.oup.com/book/7392/chapter-abstract/152237212?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    *5. A bit of Information :
    "What we mean by information - the elementary unit of information - is a difference which makes a difference, and it is able to make a difference because the neural pathways along which it travels and is continuously transformed are themselves provided with energy."
    https://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/information-difference.html
    Note --- During the early period of Quantum science, Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. His first "difference" is physical, but the second "difference" is metaphysical (i.e. meaning), hence philosophical.

    *6. "Call it the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Error : we can be wrong, or we can know it, but we can't do both at the same time"
    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/uncertainty-principle
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    Do laws govern the universe? Of course not; how could they, the universe primordial to any law?tim wood
    My two bits worth :
    I assume you meant that the universe is lawless, and completely random. Of course, the "Laws of Physics" are human interpretations of how the world works, as experienced by highly-evolved creatures with both senses and reasons. But our sensory experience of those lawful behaviors has occurred only in the last few million years of evolution. And modern scientists have picked-out the law-like Order within a background of Randomness. Do you view the universe as a Big Accident that just happened to haphazardly produce highly-organized creatures who ask question about the origins of Order?

    Since the Big Bang, Nature has been coasting along on the angular momentum (vector) from a primordial burst of Energy of unknown etiology. The "angle" Nature takes over Time, seems to be regulated by primordial limits on the path of causal Energy. Which we know in retrospect as The Arrow of Time. Evolution is autonomous only in the details, due to random mutations (rearrangement of structure). Other than those details, the general direction was set in the initial conditions. Which included a trigger and the power to evolve, to change.

    The unfolding of evolution is not impelled & guided by internal "laws". Instead, we infer the primordial "Laws" from observation of natural behavior. And some of us attribute such lawful behavior to a preternatural Lawmaker, imagined as a human king. As far as Cosmologists know though, Space & Time did not exist before the Bang. But how could nothingness "bang" without available Energy, or produce angular momentum without some input of direction? :smile:
  • tim wood
    9k
    Likely you encountered in one of Shannon's books that while five bits is enough to encode all English letters, it was inefficient because five bits can represent 32 different possibilities. He went on to argue that that certain aspects of English text, the aspects themselves including redundancy, were meaningful and thus you didn't need to represent all the letters; and he concluded by observing that an English text could be represented - I find it on line - by 2.62 bits per letter(!).

    And you're correct, or at least in agreement with one of Kant's translators, I think Lewis White Beck, that the much more common locution is not ding an sicht, but rather ding an sicht selbst. The thing in itself as it is in itself.

    Would you characterize the world model described above as "Materialism", or "Physicalism", or merely "Atheism"? No information, no patterns, no interrelationships, just atoms whirling in the void?Gnomon
    I wouldn't characterize it. I have a memory of something read that I think came from Wittgenstein, that all theories are templates placed over the world, and not to be mistaken for the world itself or how it works. And buying that, I have no urge to resort to templates - except of course when my human business requires me to.
    A world that "knows nothing of information" is a world without Ideas, a world without Meaning, just Things doing whatever Energy forces them to do. If that is the case, what is the purpose of Philosophy?Gnomon
    And here we ought to travel carefully. The proposition appears to be that if the universe is without meaning, then it cannot have beings in it - part of the universe - for which meaning is an issue. But it does have such beings, or so the beings themselves believe, and so therefore the universe must itself have meaning and be meaningful. And this would be an example of the fallacy of amphiboly, when the grammar of an argument allows for different meanings for the same term.

    I assume you meant that the universe is lawless, and completely random.... Do you view the universe as a Big Accident that just happened to haphazardly produce highly-organized creatures who ask question about the origins of Order?Gnomon
    No. not lawless and completely random, but evolving within whatever degrees of freedom it has to evolve, which you and I might call laws. And yes, it appears that life may be pretty common in the universe, and that thus sophisticated forms might well arise. It's observed that chimps and humans differ by only a slight percentage of DNA, so it is not far-fetched to imagine that a different life form from another planet somewhere might be stunningly different from us.

    A book, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe, offers the idea that our universe swims in a sea of universes that come and go, and that depending on the values of certain - six - variables, the universes are short-lived or enduring, support life or don't, and so forth. Not testable, but a theory that undercuts any need of special pleadings or any God. But to bring it all back to ordinary ground, I hold that things happen and happen either for a reason or by magic. I don't believe in magic, but at the same time I don't suppose I know reasons, beyond those that models present and that seem to work - or to be a bit more honest, that people tell me and that seem to make sense.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    A book, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe, offers the idea that our universe swims in a sea of universes that come and go, and that depending on the values of certain - six - variables, the universes are short-lived or enduring, support life or don't, and so forthtim wood

    Sounds remarkably similar to max Tegmarks mathematical universe.

    It seems to me to also imply a sort of mathematical causality - if these numerical values change, that causes a different kind of universe, it causes different behaviours in the different universes.
  • tim wood
    9k
    mathematical causalityflannel jesus
    Hmm! If you know what "mathematical causality" is, please (you) offer here a brief summary. Of course I am looking for how that which is called mathematics can be an efficient cause - buying all the while that mathematics is the descriptor par excellence.

    But these mathematics are always after the fact (even when used predictively). Is there, can there be, a mathematics before the fact? Consider accounting. There are certainly principles of accounting, but any actual accounting is always the accounting for and about something. It is not possible to do accounting for something that isn't. The thing, whatever it is, is "always already" something that is. That is, is accounting in this sense a complete model of mathematics, or is there something more? I think the math must be about something, because even if as abstract math about nothing, then it is about nothing.

    Or maybe everyone has mistaken efficient cause for formal and maybe even final cause. This gets tricky and tangential: it implies a teleology, and a clear separation of causes, which in modern usage is by no means clear.

    Or if the universe just is mathematics, then it must have come into existence with the universe and evolved with it. But to have evolved as it has implies that somehow it must itself not be primordial or original, but subject to something else not itself - that, or in some sense it must have pre-existed its own existence.

    All of this suggests that the mathematics of "mathematical causality" is not the mathematics of the schools such as I encountered it. And if it isn't, then what is it?
  • Apustimelogist
    425
    What does it really mean for the universe to be mathematical though? Doesn't seem like its about platonic math objects floating around but if not that I have no clue what it means that the universe is math.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    it's a good question, and even though I feel like I have an intuitive understanding of the idea, I don't think I could express it clearly myself.

    It's talked about to some degree here, https://spotify.link/zMHaM1TQiDb
  • jgill
    3.7k
    What does it really mean for the universe to be mathematical though?Apustimelogist

    The kart before the horse. What is mathematics, first? I've been a mathematician for over a half century and can not give a clear definition. There are numerous pages on Wikipedia that revolve around this question. How did math arise in human thought? Through language and observations of what we now consider logical - cause and effect - in the physical world?

    Is there math without symbols? Well, yes, if one has the patience to express mathematical ideas through common language. What of the visual aspect of the subject? Well, there have been blind mathematicians who have been quite accomplished. I knew one: Larry Baggett, at the University of Colorado. So one could replace symbols with ordinary language, which seems to imply math is a substrata we contemplate by one or the other.

    So, when Tegmark speaks of the mathematical universe - a creation whose structure is somehow mathematics - how can that be? Doesn't structure require a framework of sorts? And one would think physical. Maybe a collection of homeomorphic entities, that share a mathematical description, which in turn provides a uniform structure that somehow reifies.

    Heady stuff that I predict will be left by the wayside of time. Or not.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    So, when Tegmark speaks of the mathematical universe - a creation whose structure is somehow mathematics - how can that be? Doesn't structure require a framework of sorts? And one would think physical.jgill

    I have the opposite intuition - doesn't a physical structure require a framework of sorts? And one would think mathematical (or computational/algorithmic).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k
    Is there math without symbols? Well, yes, if one has the patience to express mathematical ideas through common language. What of the visual aspect of the subject? Well, there have been blind mathematicians who have been quite accomplished. I knew one: Larry Baggett, at the University of Colorado. So one could replace symbols with ordinary language, which seems to imply math is a substrata we contemplate by one or the other.jgill

    Common language uses symbols, but of a different type from mathematics. The mathematical symbol is principally a visual object, while the symbol of common language is principally an aural object. There is a big difference in meaningful purpose, or usefulness between these two types of symbols. The aural symbol serves to aid us in communication and assists in providing for our immediate needs. It's temporal existence is fleeting though. The visual symbol persists through time and serves as a memory aid. As an extension of memory (external memory) it enhances computational capacity.

    We have developed ways to unify the two. Mathematical symbols have aural names, and aural words have letters which allow them to be written in the visual form. I believe that it is this ingenuity, which provided for the combining of these two, which led to the explosion of human development in the latest era of human development, beginning with cave painting, perhaps. The private memory aid of visual symbols became combined with the communicative power of common aural symbols, when the visual symbols were talked about, thereby producing a unification of distinct human memories which increased computational capacity exponentially.
  • Apustimelogist
    425



    Actually, thinking about it, I don't even really know what it means for the universe to be physical either in a similar way, since all I have is my experiences and my experiences definitely so not provide a direct link to the physical reality beyond my sensory boundaries. In so far as physical models are just predictive instruments that usually involve math substantially, then the boundaries of what it means to say the universe is physical (in the sense of our models) or mathematical blurs. But then, maybe its trivial, because we can impose mathematical language on almost anything in some way.
  • jgill
    3.7k
    I have the opposite intuition - doesn't a physical structure require a framework of sorts? And one would think mathematical (or computational/algorithmic).flannel jesus

    When we construct a building we lay plans, then follow through physically. So those plans underlie a physical project and provide a "framework", which can be destroyed if we wish without endangering the building. Not so in a mathematical universe. Somehow the building reifies the plans and the two can not be separated. Or whatever.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    Would you characterize the world model described above as "Materialism", or "Physicalism", or merely "Atheism"? No information, no patterns, no interrelationships, just atoms whirling in the void? — Gnomon
    I wouldn't characterize it. I have a memory of something read that I think came from Wittgenstein, that all theories are templates placed over the world, and not to be mistaken for the world itself or how it works. And buying that, I have no urge to resort to templates - except of course when my human business requires me to.
    tim wood
    Are you using Wittgenstein as an authority to justify an evasive non-position on a philosophical question? Does that side-step imply that you have no philosophical worldview, or just that you don't want to expose your subjective personal "template" to objective critical analysis? I too, am wary of being dismissively labeled, but it's a risk I'm willing to take, in the interest of refining my beliefs in the give & take of philosophy. Perhaps you would be willing to deny the labels that don't apply to you?

    By "template" you may mean Wittgenstein's "explanatory pictures" or merely "arbitrary belief systems". But humans seem to be born with a crude template to overlay on the outside world*1. That elementary world model is neither true nor false, but merely necessary to begin learning how to live in the real world. Immanuel Kant called the elements of knowledge "Categories of Understanding"*2. They are "pure" in the sense of not yet adulterated with conventional cultural belief systems.

    For him that list of semantic compartments was merely a philosophical hypothesis, but modern Neuroscientists also assume that the brain stores experiences in a few pre-set categories. But, even with current technology, it's hard to locate them in the neuronal network, except in the most basic senses : taste, touch, etc. The inborn categories are general & imprecise, but become more specific with experience. Some brain scientists have even postulated a specialized "grandmother" or "Jennifer Anniston" cell {see image}. But the brain-maps are not likely to be single cells, or even that particular. Instead, they are organized into broad "meanings" or "semantic categories"*3.

    Since these primitive templates (world maps) are inborn, you don't have to be "urged" to apply them to the non-self world. They automatically divide incoming sensory information into something like Kant's four categories and twelve classes. Over time, these general templates are refined into the specific concepts and comprehensive worldviews that philosophers argue over interminably. :smile:


    *1. Category Learning :
    We have instead evolved the ability to detect the higher-level structure of experiences, the commonalities across them that allow us to group experiences into meaningful categories and concepts. This process imbues the world with meaning. . . . . Categories represent our knowledge of groupings and patterns that are not explicit in the bottom-up sensory inputs
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3709834/

    *2. Immanuel Kant's Categories of Understanding :
    Kant ultimately distinguishes twelve pure concepts of the understanding, divided into four classes of three: 1. Quantity (Unity, Plurality, Totality), 2. Quality (Reality, Negation, Limitation), 3. Relation (Inherence and Subsistence (substance and accident), Causality and Dependence (cause and effect), Community (reciprocity)), and 4. Modality (Possibility, Existence, Necessity).
    https://www.thephilosophyproject.in/post/immanuel-kant-s-categories-of-understanding

    *3. New Map of Meaning in the Brain :
    “Our understanding, our knowledge about things, is actually somewhat embedded in the perceptual systems,”
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/new-map-of-meaning-in-the-brain-changes-ideas-about-memory-20220208/

    BRAIN CATEGORIES including questionable Jennifer Anniston cells
    Idea-of-grandmother-cell-a-neuron-that-reacts-selectively-on-a-pattern-Jennifer-Aniston.ppm
  • tim wood
    9k
    Are you using Wittgenstein as an authority to justify an evasive non-position on a philosophical question?Gnomon
    Interesting - I had not given it much thought. Nor will I. To my way of thinking, philosophy is what you do when you cannot do any better. Thus a philosophical question replacing any question of more substance I consider at best a dismissible question, or even nonsense.

    You're asking if my view, expressed here just below, is materialism, physicalism, or "merely Atheism."

    My view is that the world knows nothing of information, knows nothing of anything. It exists as the stuff in it that constitutes it. These things interact in certain ways and not in others. And thus the world goes from this moment to the next. No information, no patterns, just immediate continuous evolution. Information, then, being merely the convenient case-labels and fictions attached, in our case, by people for people. And no doubt on a distant planet some or all of the information is radically different.tim wood

    And that seems to me pretty clear in itself - is there something about it you did not understand that I could clarify? Why would you need a superfluous label, or template, to consider it? Or more simply, what's your point?
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    And that seems to me pretty clear in itself - is there something about it you did not understand that I could clarify? Why would you need a superfluous label, or template, to consider it? Or more simply, what's your point?tim wood
    My point was just to see if you were arguing from a well-thought-out personal worldview, or just parroting a party line (or template). For example, for all practical purposes (e.g. science & technology) I could be placed under the heading of "Materialist". But, for theoretical purposes (e.g. philosophy & ethics) I might fit better into the category of "Idealist". That's because the non-human material aspects of the world have no Ideas (words, concepts) for us to argue about : either it is, or it ain't.

    Since my personal worldview is multi-faceted & complementary, I have labeled it a "BothAnd" philosophy. Yet, for Either-Or One-Siders, that broad-mindedness is confusing. Another way to look at it is : my scientific worldview is both Classical (matter/energy/objective) and Quantum (mind/observer/subjective). Since the topic of this thread is a Quantum physics question, my comments will be primarily focused on the mental interpretation. Which I suspected might clash with your views. Hence, the request for clarification. So yes, my intuition has been confirmed. But there is still room for further philosophizing. :smile:
  • tim wood
    9k
    I do not know what an idea is, but I account them as existing and in a sense real. But I distinguish them - and it seems to me reasonable to do so - from stuff, the paving stones of being, so to speak; having in mind the difference(s) as, e.g., between my cup of coffee and the idea of my cup of coffee. And admittedly at the extreme boundaries, this as definitional becomes fuzzy - but what doesn't?

    But if asked, and we attempt answer, what the universe is, as I understand current understanding, it is a fog of energy, some of the energy so condensed it becomes very, very small bits of matter, all of which surging and roiling and apparently under some constraints as to what it can and cannot do. The constraints themselves just being - meaning that as a square peg won't go into a round hole, there is no meta-physical law implied as existing in itself, rather it just is, the implied law being an artifact of observation, by beings able to observe, but otherwise not-existing in itself.

    Or the challenge: to exhibit as "stuff" any idea that requires a mind to have it - no mind, no idea. Or for anything, to exhibit conclusive evidence as to its existence as a thing.

    Your use of "quantum" I could use some clarification on. That is, I think things happen, and of things that happen, they happen either for a reason (as caused in some way) or for no reason or because of magic. I buy reason. Which if correct means that all of quantum weirdness is due simply to a lack of information. Which means that quantum theory is actually just an incomplete classical theory. Whether or not it must remain an incomplete classical theory a separate question.

    That is, imho, the correct response to quantum weirdness is not to super-impose great edifices of additional weirdness as account, but rather instead to say, as with Feynman, it works but we don't know how.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    I do not know what an idea is, but I account them as existing and in a sense real.tim wood
    For the purposes of this forum, Ideas are the non-things (non-stuff) that we argue about in threads such as this. And for the most part, Ideas are limited to a tiny clique in the universe, consisting mostly of the upright animals we label as homo sapiens ; implying that other animals are not wise enough to debate about the meaning of ideas. Hence, in the Real world, no questioning humans, no ideas, no philosophy ; just atoms whirling in the void. What makes ideas moot is their immaterial "substance". Material objects are seldom the topic of TPF threads. :smile:

    Or the challenge: to exhibit as "stuff" any idea that requires a mind to have it - no mind, no idea. Or for anything, to exhibit conclusive evidence as to its existence as a thing.tim wood
    It's also the lack of material evidence for thingness, that limits Ideas to the central focus of philosophical forums, and only peripherally for scientific forums. The latter are supposedly reserved for those who "shut-up and calculate". And feckless philosophers are not welcome to blab on & on about Qualia which cannot be Quantified. :wink:

    Your use of "quantum" I could use some clarification on. That is, I think things happen, and of things that happen, they happen either for a reason (as caused in some way) or for no reason or because of magic.tim wood
    Gladly! The term "quantum" was introduced into the vocabulary of science to represent the aspects of reality that were assumed, by Classical Physics, to be continuous, but in sub-atomic experiments returned dis-continuous results. The quantum pioneers didn't describe those results in terms of Magic, but of "Nature exposed to our methods of questioning" (Heisenberg). In order to deal with both the continuous and the discrete nature of sub-atomic Nature, the pioneers re-introduced philosophical methods into empirical numerical science. That qualitative method of interpretation*1 had been banished centuries ago as too entangled with Religion & Magic. Quantum physics is unavoidably statistical, returning not absolute either/or answers but relative BothAnd percentages, :cool:

    *1. Measurement problem :
    In quantum mechanics, the measurement problem is the problem of how, or whether, wave function collapse occurs. The inability to observe such a collapse directly has given rise to different interpretations of quantum mechanics and poses a key set of questions that each interpretation must answer.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measurement_problem
    Note --- In classical physics, light was assumed to flow like water. But the quantum measurements came back in discrete bits, now called Photons, that seem to be both discrete particles and continuous waves. It's the introduction into physics of the necessity for philosophical (statistical) interpretation, that caused 20th century physics to seem weird, and even magical. :joke:

    That is, imho, the correct response to quantum weirdness is not to super-impose great edifices of additional weirdness as account, but rather instead to say, as with Feynman, it works but we don't know how.tim wood
    Feynman "did not know" what quantum duality meant, because he was looking for absolute Either/Or answers, not Einsteinian BothAnd relative approximations. His attitude of "shut-up and calculate" --- while avoiding the philosophical problem --- is what has allowed modern science to produce the 21st century technology, such as atomic bombs, cell phones, and Twitter gossip, that we enjoy today --- but would have seemed magical in the 17th century.

    Presumably the "quants" (number-crunchers) who process the data (unambiguous numerical information) of technology, are not distracted by "additional weirdness" (ambiguous philosophical questions). That wordy waste of time is reserved for a few philosophical forums, such as TPF. If you are mainly interested in Material Science, a pertinent question might be, what are you doing posting on an un-scientific forum? Trying to show the weirdos the error of their way? :nerd:

    PS___My interest in quantum physics is mostly due to its discovery of the multiple roles of meaningful & causal Information (e.g. Ideas) in the real world*2. Quantum theory is not about Matter, but about Math. And Math is about Mind : knowable relationships, not sensible objects.

    *2. Beyond Weird by Philip Ball wins Physics World Book of the Year 2018 :
    Rife with science, Beyond Weird also contains a hefty helping of philosophy, as Ball attempts to reconcile quantum reality with seemingly confounding experimental results. Quantum theory may actually be a theory about information, and how we gain it. As Ball writes, a more “if this, then that” approach to understanding the outcome of an experiment may be what we need to meaningfully understand the quantum world.
    https://physicsworld.com/a/beyond-weird-by-philip-ball-wins-physics-world-book-of-the-year-2018/
  • tim wood
    9k
    and Quantum (mind/observer/subjective). Since the topic of this thread is a Quantum physics question, my comments will be primarily focused on the mental interpretation.Gnomon

    By interpretation, I understand one or the other of two things. Literary interpretation, which to be brief I'll just dismiss as irrelevant here, and the other as an idea of a theory or model in itself, qualified as different from other interpretations - and as such subject to question and test.

    And still in the attempt to get to a central or critical question, were I to state that an electron is this sort of a thing or that sort of a thing, folks might object that those descriptions offered were problematic in some way or just plain wrong. But I assume that no one would object to the "is," that everyone would agree that an electron is, at least, a something. Yes? No?
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    But I assume that no one would object to the "is," that everyone would agree that an electron is, at least, a something. Yes? No?tim wood
    Is it? I've never seen, tasted, or touched an electron. All I know about those invisible entities is the published interpretations of quantum physicists*1. 17th century physicists had no concept of an electron, but they imagined fundamental particles of matter, that everyone had agreed on since the 5th century BC*2. Besides, its properties depend on how you look at it*3. Is that a "literary" interpretation? Unlike the simple atoms of Classical Physics, quantum-scale particles are subject to various interpretations*4. Is that still "hard" Science, or is it "literary" Philosophy, or both? :smile:


    *1. Interpretations of quantum mechanics :
    An interpretation of quantum mechanics is an attempt to explain how the mathematical theory of quantum mechanics might correspond to experienced reality.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics

    *2. Dalton's atomic theory :
    He proposed that all matter is made of tiny indivisible particles called atoms, which he imagined as "solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particle(s)".
    https://www.khanacademy.org/science/chemistry/electronic-structure-of-atoms/history-of-atomic-structure/a/daltons-atomic-theory-version-2

    *3. Electron mass is sometimes termed as rest mass because according to the special theory of relativity, mass of the object is said to vary according to the frame of reference.
    https://byjus.com/physics/electron-mass/

    *4. Subatomic Particles :
    There are more than 12 subatomic particles, but the 12 main ones include six quarks (up, charm, top, Down, Strange, Bottom), three electrons (electron, muon, tau), and three neutrinos (e, muon, tau).
    https://www.wondriumdaily.com/subatomic-particles-the-quantum-realm/#:~:text=There%20are%20more%20than%2012,e%2C%20muon%2C%20tau).
  • tim wood
    9k
    Is it?Gnomon
    We're in tough shape if we cannot decide if something is. And certainly it is absurd to opine about what something is, and even more so its special features, if it isn't. It's said that astronomers study telescopes and cosmologists the minds of astronomers. Does that say anything about QM? You above seem to be clear that QM concerns the minds of physicists. I on the other hand am persuaded there is more to the world than what someone thinks it is, and that there is a difference between the saying, and what is spoken of.

    according to the special theory of relativity, mass of the object is said to vary according to the frame of reference.Gnomon
    See this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTJauaefTZM
    Nine minutes of Fermilab, very accessible.
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