• apokrisis
    4.5k
    Inspired by the twists and turns of modern physics with its foundations in permutation symmetries, structural realism has become a big thing in metaphysics. The slogan is “relations without relata”. Reality exists by conjuring itself up out of a pure holism of relations.

    It's controversial because of course there must be something concrete, individual and material to be related, right?

    Everyone is familiar with the first few exchanges between structural realists and their opponents. The structural realists say things like “only structure exists”, “relations without relata”, and the opponents freak out...

    ...You can’t just continue as if you accepted this framework — by speaking of relations — but subtract the entities and hope for the best. Individuals are too embedded within the standard framework; predicate logic provides no sentences about relations that don’t also concern individuals.

    https://www.eddykemingchen.net/uploads/4/6/1/3/46137503/talk_-_structural_realism__eddy_conference_.pdf

    The thesis that relations are internal is admirably summed up in Karen Barad’s statement that “relata do not precede relations” (Meeting the Universe Halfway, 334). The thesis that relations are external is the claim that entities can break with whatever relations they happen to entertain to other entities at a particular moment and enter into new relations with other entities...

    ...What is Barad saying? On the one hand, she appears to be saying that entities, “relata”, are generated out of relations. We have the relation first, and then the entities second. On the other, she appears to be claiming that these entities, “relata”, can have no subsistence or being apart from that relation. They are what they are only in and through this relation such that they can have no being independent apart from this relation.

    In my view, this thesis is a catastrophe for ontological thought, empirical investigation, and concrete practice.

    https://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/relata-do-not-precede-relations/

    So in some way, structural realism has to be the fundamentally correct ontology. It is the picture of reality which science has arrived at. But also, its proponents are tending to sweep its obvious problem under the carpet. At the end of the day, there must be some kind of material principle - a theory about the relata - to give a structure of relations something to sink its organising teeth into. The notion of what we mean by "material" might then come to seem the very opposite of what materialists normally think by the term. But what the hey. That seems a good thing.

    Jumping ahead, the answer for me is that the issue can be resolved by identifying the material with the accidental. So structuralism rules. And it rules by the constraint of freedoms, a restriction on the accidental. But that is then a permissive kind of regulation as "what doesn't matter" doesn't get restricted.

    This is the essence of permutation symmetry. If a change - swapping elements about - doesn't make a difference, then it is not really any kind of change. The structure is preserved. There is a stability of being that is impervious to the most radical instability of its parts. Indeed, Being is defined by this structural ability to ignore fluctuations and thus in fact to be emergently grounded in the very fact of fluctuations. Or accidents, in other words.

    This of course is a metaphysics that goes back to Ancient Greece. Heraclitus said you never step in the same river twice. But you always get just as wet.

    But anyway, this view says that the structure of reality is indeed founded in something beyond itself - some relata. However this relata is the antithesis of anything that is solid, material, enduring ... foundational in a conventional sense. Instead it is an absoluteness of fluctuation, indeterminism, instability, flux, chaos. It is the everything that amounts to nothing until there is a structure of constraint to reign it in and turn it into a concrete, substantial, formed, somethingness.

    Understood this way, structural realism becomes the modern, science-supported, new hylomorphism.

    The mistake of structural realism is simply to do away with the traditional notion of a material foundation - an ontology where the relata precede the relations - and fail to then articulate a replacement understanding of the material principle as one that is essentially a chaos of fluctuations, a "realm" of pure accident.

    You would then have the two poles of being, the two limiting extremes, which actually give reality a relational structure. You would have a system based on an emergent balancing act. You would have the now triadic world of a permutation symmetry where structure regulates change, and yet change still continues to the degree that it doesn't matter.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k
    If a change - swapping elements about - doesn't make a difference, then it is not really any kind of change.apokrisis

    I probably don't need to remind you apokrisis, as I've brought this to your attention numerous times already, but it's blatantly contradictory to say that there is a change which isn't a change. I don't see the point to basing an ontology in a contradiction.
  • Relativist
    491
    "The slogan is 'relations without relata'. Reality exists by conjuring itself up out of a pure holism of relations."
    That is an extreme (eliminative) form of Ontological Structural Realism. At the other extreme is Epistemic Structual Realism, and in between are flavors of the ontic that still believe relations must have relata. Even if you're right that "structural realism has to be the fundamentally correct ontology" rather than just the right epistemic attitude, it remains to be seen if the eliminativist version will blow away the others.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    but it's blatantly contradictory to say that there is a change which isn't a changeMetaphysician Undercover

    If you bothered to read with care, you would see the claim is that some changes make a difference and others don't. And if you understood physics, you would know that Newtonian mechanics was founded on the fact. Inertial freedoms exist because nature believes in the symmetries of translation and rotation. Spinning on the spot is the kind of change that doesn't make a difference to the structure of an inertial frame.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    ...in between are flavors of the ontic that still believe relations must have relata.Relativist

    Yep. The Ted Sider paper references some of these. So my point is that structural realism is either guilty as charged - it fudges the issue on relata. Or as Sider wants to argue, it is left with some pretty unappealing answers - unappealing as they boil down to some kind of standard, if mumbled, materialism.

    So my approach is to take relata seriously, but take them to what would be the other extreme for the materialist. Instead of relata being the fundamentally definite and individuated, I would make them the fundamentally indefinite and vague. I would reduce the material aspect of the story to mere fluctuation or accident. That then lets structuralism come in and claim responsibility for all the resulting organisation of the meaningless mess it got presented with.

    So you can claim the relata precede the relations. But the relata then have no kind of stable identity that could dignify the claim that they "exist" in a way that "precedes". There are in fact no relata before the formative hand of the relations arrive to constrain things to the degree there now seem to be relata to pick out.

    Even if you're right that "structural realism has to be the fundamentally correct ontology" rather than just the right epistemic attitude, it remains to be seen if the eliminativist version will blow away the others.Relativist

    Yes. As I say, a monistic approach based on relations is no better than a monistic approach based on relata. When faced with a chicken and egg dichotomy like this, the proper resolution is not to try to win by eliminating one or other half of the dyad but instead, accept that the bigger story is the one of a triadic relation. Each half of the equation becomes now the other's cause.

    The question is what does that then actually mean in terms of the metaphysics. My argument is that we have to reconceive the material half of the equation in a way such that it is the precise opposite of how materiality is normally conceived.

    (And that way, structural realism does win! :) )
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k
    If you bothered to read with care, you would see the claim is that some changes make a difference and others don't.apokrisis

    And, the change which does not make a difference "is not really any kind of change".

    And if you understood physics, you would know that Newtonian mechanics was founded on the fact.apokrisis

    Well, I do philosophy, not physics. As an epistemological principle it makes sense to say that some changes are relevant to the subject at hand, and others are not, therefore some changes do not make a difference to us in relation to this subject. But as an ontological principle, it is contradictory to say that if a change doesn't appear to make a difference to us, it is therefore not really any kind of change at all. The fact that you have called it "a change" indicates that it has made a difference to you.

    Inertial freedoms exist because nature believes in the symmetries of translation and rotation.apokrisis

    What do you mean by "nature believes in..."? Do you consider nature to be a thinking, reasoning, "believing" being?

    By the way, it was demonstrated by Aristotle that the relations necessarily precede the relata (relata being "things"). You would see this clearly if you would give up on the idea that there are differences which do not make a difference. That idea obscures the law of identity, clouding your ability to see things clearly. Any "thing" when it comes into being must necessarily be the thing which it is, or else it would be something other than itself. It is impossible that a thing could be something other than itself, by way of the law of identity. Therefore, any thing when it comes into existence must necessarily come into existence as the thing which it is. So, every thing, when it comes into existence, must be preceded by its formula (relations) which determine what it will be, or else it would come into existence as any chance, or random thing. We observe that things do not exist as chance or random objects. Therefore a thing's formula (relations) must be precede the thing's material existence.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    Well, I do philosophy, not physics.Metaphysician Undercover

    So given this thread is about ontic structural realism, it may not be the discussion for you.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k

    Ontic structural realism is a philosophy which I am prepared to argue against. So it appears more likely that I'm not the participant for you, than that this is not the discussion for me. As usual, you demonstrate a keen disposition for inverting reality.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k
    Yes. As I say, a monistic approach based on relations is no better than a monistic approach based on relata. When faced with a chicken and egg dichotomy like this, the proper resolution is not to try to win by eliminating one or other half of the dyad but instead, accept that the bigger story is the one of a triadic relation. Each half of the equation becomes now the other's cause.apokrisis

    Again, this is fundamentally illogical, to say that two things cause each other. It is nothing more than an infinite regress of coexistence. When all monist approaches prove faulty, the appropriate solution is to move on to dualism (as the ancient Greeks demonstrated), not to produce another faulty monism by claiming the two parts of dualism are united as one, in a triadic system.
  • Relativist
    491
    I recommend reading the article at the SEP. It is a good survey of the various flavors of SR, and identifies objections to each.

    My takeaway is that there's more reason than ever to be agnostic to ontologies.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k
    Everyone is familiar with the first few exchanges between structural realists and their opponents. The structural realists say things like “only structure exists”, “relations without relata”, and the opponents freak out...

    ...You can’t just continue as if you accepted this framework — by speaking of relations — but subtract the entities and hope for the best. Individuals are too embedded within the standard framework; predicate logic provides no sentences about relations that don’t also concern individuals.

    [/quote]

    Of course relations are among things, but that doesn't require that the things are other than hypothetical. There are relations among hypothetical things. There's no reason to believe that there are any things other than hypothetical things.

    So in some way, structural realism has to be the fundamentally correct ontology. It is the picture of reality which science has arrived at. But also, its proponents are tending to sweep its obvious problem under the carpet.apokrisis

    What problem? You mean the unsupported assumption that there's such a thing as a thing aside from its relations? ...or the fact that Ontic Structuralism isn't consistent with Materialism?

    You seem to agree with Ontic Structuralism, but why Realism? it's an obvious truism that all we experience is our experience. Then why make up a Realist metaphysics? I suggest that what makes sense is Ontic Structural Subjective Idealism.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    You seem to agree with Ontic Structuralism, but why Realism? it's an obvious truism that all we experience is our experience. Then why make up a Realist metaphysics? I suggest that what makes sense is Ontic Structural Subjective Idealism.Michael Ossipoff

    Well, I do take reality seriously. And so that motivates a concern to arrive at its best model. Idealism doesn't make any sense. It doesn't address the central fact of experience ... which is that it seems divided into a part that is recalcitrant world for some reason.

    So as I say, I already accept it is about our pragmatic models of something that actually needs explaining. Just saying "everything is experience" explains neither the "we" that is doing the experiencing, nor the "world" that resists our wishes.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    I recommend reading the article at the SEP. It is a good survey of the various flavors of SR, and identifies objections to each.Relativist

    But it is also pretty dismissive of all those objections. It shows that they are ill-founded. Or that atomism makes its own even wilder leaps of faith in claiming the brute existence of relata while trying also to deny the causal reality of constraining structure.

    So my OP points out that OSR can't simply ignore the problem of relata. However it can work towards a completely minimalist version of relata as "mere accidents" - meaningless fluctuation.

    And as SEP says, that is how some in OSR see it too:

    In any case, eliminativism does not require that there be relations without relata, just that the relata not be individuals. French and Krause (2006) argue that quantum particles and spacetime points are not individuals but that they are objects in a minimal sense, and they develop a non-classical logic according to which such non-individual objects can be the values of first-order variables, but ones for which the law of identity, ‘for all x, x is identical to x’, does not hold (but neither does ‘x is not identical to x’).

    So you don't require the brute existence of primitive individuals to stand as the relata. All you require is some principle of individuation - a constraint on random accidents or chaotic variety such as for there to be something "there" to get the game of stable existence going.

    My takeaway is that there's more reason than ever to be agnostic to ontologies.Relativist

    But why take that view when mathematical physics has added so much to what we know about fundamental reality? Why would you suddenly lose faith in metaphysics right at the point science is delivering so many answers?
  • Relativist
    491
    "But why take that view when mathematical physics has added so much to what we know about fundamental reality? Why would you suddenly lose faith in metaphysics right at the point science is delivering so many answers?"
    Ontology must be consistent with our knowledge of the world. Our knowledge of the world, in terms of fundamental physics, is not settled. Should we treat quantum fields as fundamental? Quantum field theory is not even complete, since it doesn't include gravity. Are points in spacetime "individuals"? Do we depend on haeccity for individuation? What about string theory?

    If physics doesn't have a firm answer, how can ontology? Hawking used the term "model dependent realism" which never was actually realist ontology. It seemed to amount to pretending the particular model you're working with is "real." That doesn't make for a good ontology, but it's a good description of where physics is.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    Our knowledge of the world, in terms of fundamental physics, is not settled.Relativist

    On the other hand, a heck of a lot of alternatives have been eliminated. And we have arrived at the inevitable truths of permutation symmetry. The progress of physics is undeniable. The old theories haven't been disproved. They have been absorbed into ever more mathematically general frameworks.

    Should we treat quantum fields as fundamental? Quantum field theory is not even complete, since it doesn't include gravity. Are points in spacetime "individuals"? Do we depend on haeccity for individuation? What about string theory?Relativist

    You are complaining about the fact that science has both moved so far and seems to have clear ideas about the issues that still need to be resolved.

    Sounds like success to me.

    If physics doesn't have a firm answer, how can ontology?Relativist

    Metaphysics should be more like science then. The goal is not to claim absolute certainty but to support a position of minimal uncertainty.

    And that is precisely what OSR would do in going off mathematical-strength constraints on material uncertainty.

    You are setting an impossible standard for knowledge. And that makes it easy to say, well guys, let's not even try then. But as a pragmatist, I accept already that the task is to minimise our uncertainty about what might be the case. And progress in that sense is always possible. But you now have to be willing to make some intellectual effort.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k
    And as SEP says, that is how some in OSR see it too:



    In any case, eliminativism does not require that there be relations without relata, just that the relata not be individuals. French and Krause (2006) argue that quantum particles and spacetime points are not individuals but that they are objects in a minimal sense, and they develop a non-classical logic according to which such non-individual objects can be the values of first-order variables, but ones for which the law of identity, ‘for all x, x is identical to x’, does not hold (but neither does ‘x is not identical to x’).

    So you don't require the brute existence of primitive individuals to stand as the relata. All you require is some principle of individuation - a constraint on random accidents or chaotic variety such as for there to be something "there" to get the game of stable existence going.
    apokrisis

    Off you go, deeper into contradiction. Instead of realizing that the direction you take is wrong, because it's steeped in contradiction, and turning around to get out of this ontological quicksand, you sink yourself in deeper. Now you have objects which are not individuals. This object which is not an individual, what is it, a multitude of objects? Oh right, you don't respect the law of identity, so you allow that a multitude of objects have the same identity, and are therefore, one and the same object. An object is not an individual, it is a multitude.

    Why would you say "all you require is some principle of individuation"? If you are denying the existence of individuals, then a principle of individuation provides you with nothing but a fiction. What good is such a principle, other than to create a fictitious individual? And a fictitious individual cannot be the placeholder for an actual individual in any true ontolology.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    This object which is not an individual, what is it, a multitude of objects?Metaphysician Undercover

    In OSR, objects are the individuated. So they are the result of a multiplicity of possibilities being limited.

    Why do you find metaphysics such a struggle?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k
    In OSR, objects are the individuated. So they are the result of a multiplicity of possibilities being limited.apokrisis

    Do you not read your own quotes? This is from your passage above, from SEP:

    French and Krause (2006) argue that quantum particles and spacetime points are not individuals but that they are objects in a minimal sense, and they develop a non-classical logic according to which such non-individual objects can be the values of first-order variables, but ones for which the law of identity, ‘for all x, x is identical to x’, does not hold (but neither does ‘x is not identical to x’).

    This directly opposes what you stated above "In OSR, objects are the individuated."
    Why do you find metaphysics such a struggle?apokrisis
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    This directly opposes what you stated aboveMetaphysician Undercover

    Yeah. So particles and spacetime points would be objects in a minimal sense. That minimal sense would include a "violation" of the law of identity - in the sense that the principle of non-contradiction would fail to apply. It would not be the case that x is x', but nor would it be the case that x isn't x'. Thus what is being asserted is that the identity of x is fundamentally vague - under the Peircean view that vagueness is defined by the failure of the PNC to apply.

    Sounds good to me. The game thus moves on from ontologising objects to ontologising vagueness.

    It does not eliminate the material principle. My point, as stated in the OP, is that we shouldn't expect structuralism to be able to do that when it comes to relata. But it is a radical change to ontologise uncertainty, indeterminism, instability and fluctuation as what is "materially fundamental".

    The vague is definitionally that which lacks individuation ... and hence is also the prime material for any consequence process of individuation.
  • Relativist
    491
    The SEP article proposes:

    " So one way of thinking about structural realism is as an epistemological modification of scientific realism to the effect that we only believe what scientific theories tell us about the relations entered into by unobservable objects, and suspend judgement as to the nature of the latter."

    That sounds the most reasonable to me, and it's consistent with what I'm terming being agnostic to ontology.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    We could suspend belief about whatever it is that might move the needle on the dial. But why even bother doing metaphysics then? That sounds like no fun at all.

    Besides, you are taking the position that there are in fact objects that are unobserved. Which is hardly a stance eschewing an ontic commitment. You are just being the usual kind of material realists who fully expects QM to reveal its hidden variables some day. There is nothing philosophically neutral in this take on OSR.

    So I am happy to instead to change the game and replace the unobserved object with the observer-created relata. Objects are what emerge as a vague everythingness becomes constrained. And structuralism is all about those kinds of systems of constraint. Permutation symmetry now formalises the notion of differences that don’t make a difference and so a nautural limit to constraint or symmetry breaking itself.

    So no need for metaphysics to suspend judgement. Physics has already told us that hidden variables and other conventional materialistic notions have failed. That judgement is in. Now make of it what you will.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k
    Yeah. So particles and spacetime points would be objects in a minimal sense. That minimal sense would include a "violation" of the law of identity - in the sense that the principle of non-contradiction would fail to apply. It would not be the case that x is x', but nor would it be the case that x isn't x'. Thus what is being asserted is that the identity of x is fundamentally vague - under the Peircean view that vagueness is defined by the failure of the PNC to apply.apokrisis

    Fundamental to an object's identity is it's spatial temporal location, that's what provides its uniqueness, its particularity, its individuality. Without this form of identity, we would just have a modified ancient Greek atomism, in which the world is made up of fundamental particles, each one exactly the same, and indistinguishable from each other, therefore each one having no particular identity. It is the object's spatial temporal location which gives it its individuality, and we, in identifying the continuity of that spatial temporal location are able to give it an identity.

    OSRists, following the accepted principles of modern physics (principally relativity) apprehend this identity as relations which are external, extrinsic to the object itself. Therefore they claim that spatial temporal location is not intrinsic to, essential to, or necessary for the identity of the particle. So they deny the very thing which provides the identity of an object, its spatial temporal location, as not necessary to its identity. They are left with numerous particles which have the very same identity, because there is no way to differentiate between them, just like Greek atomism. Identity is minimized.

    The glaring problem is that the theories of modern physics, are woefully inadequate, deficient in their capacity to provide the physicist with the means to determine the spatial temporal locations of fundamental particles. Therefore, the principles used in physics do not provide the means for identifying fundamental particles, because identity is based in spatial temporal location. The OSRist, in turn, trying to justify the deficiencies of physics, claims that spatial temporal location is not essential to identity. They're left with a "minimal" form of identity, in which many particles are the same, loosing the uniqueness, particularity, individuality, which a distinct spatial temporal location gives to an object.

    You, apokrisis, will claim that this is all part of the vagueness of reality, reality is inherently vague. But this is wrong, the appearance of vagueness is caused by nothing other than deficient theories. The inability to determine the spatial temporal location of a particle, and therefore identify that particle, is a direct result of the mindset of modern physicists which makes spatial temporal location relative rather than absolute. .
  • Relativist
    491
    "I am happy to instead to change the game and replace the unobserved object with the observer-created relata. "
    That seems an unjustifiable belief, that observers create. Reminds me of devotees of the Copenhagen interpretation of QM who consider observation to cause wave function collapse.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k


    ”You seem to agree with Ontic Structuralism, but why Realism? it's an obvious truism that all we experience is our experience. Then why make up a Realist metaphysics? I suggest that what makes sense is Ontic Structural Subjective Idealism.” — Michael Ossipoff
    .
    Well, I do take reality seriously.
    .
    No one’s suggesting that you not take reality or Reality seriously. It’s just a question of what you think it consists of. Materialists think that all of Reality consists of the physical world. In general, “Realists” think that describable reality is objective rather than subjective.
    .
    Sure, take it seriously, and we can disagree on what Reality or describable reality consists of.
    .
    And so that motivates a concern to arrive at its best model. Idealism doesn't make any sense. It doesn't address the central fact of experience
    .
    It recognizes that there’s no reason to believe that experience isn’t the fundamental reality of the describable world.
    .
    ... which is that it seems divided into a part that is recalcitrant world for some reason.
    .
    I don’t know what you mean by that. Maybe you’re referring to our experience of a physical world that isn’t exactly how we’d choose for it to be if it were really custom-made just for us.
    .
    As I’ve said, the one requirement for experience is consistency. …because there’s no such thing as mutually-inconsistent facts or a true and false proposition. I’ve told, elsewhere, why that’s tautologically true.
    .
    Your experience-story is the story of a physical animal’s experience of its physical world, the world in which its experience-story is set. That world obeys logic, and its own laws, which aren’t always the same as our preferences.
    .
    And the infinity of such hypothetical life-experience stories must inevitably include some that aren’t so good, or are really bad, at least in parts, but sometimes in the (at least near) entirety of their worldly-life part.

    .
    So as I say, I already accept it is about our pragmatic models of something that actually needs explaining.
    .
    Metaphysics is about explanation of the describable realm. I’ve described such a metaphysics, one that differs from others, such as Materialism, by not using or needing any assumption or brute-fact.
    .
    Just saying "everything is experience" explains neither the "we" that is doing the experiencing, nor the "world" that resists our wishes.
    .
    Sure it does, and I’ve described how it does.
    .
    Why is there you? Because there’s a hypothetical life-experience-story with you as its protagonist.
    .
    Why is there that? Because there inevitably is every consistent life-experience story.
    .
    Why is there the world that resists our wishes?
    .
    There’s the world, because an experience-story necessarily has a setting.
    .
    Why does that world resist our wishes? Because, as I said above, consistency is the one requirement of an experience-story. A consistent life-experience story, one that obeys logic and its own laws, isn’t always going to obey our wishes, as I discussed above in this reply.
    .
    Why were you born in a worse societal world instead of in a better one? You’re born into a world that’s consistent with the person that you are. …one whose inhabitants are the kind of people who’d beget someone like you. You’re in a life because of yourself, and you’re in a societal world like this one because of yourself.
    .
    Michael Ossipoff
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    That seems an unjustifiable belief, that observers create. Reminds me of devotees of the Copenhagen interpretation of QM who consider observation to cause wave function collapse.Relativist

    When I say observers, I'm not talking about human consciousness causing a wavefunction collapse. I'm talking about how thermal contexts would decohere. So I would be taking a quantum information approach - accepting that quantum "weirdness" is bound up in the structural fact that you can't ask a particle about two contrary properties, like position and momentum, in the same act of measurement. You get quantum behaviour at the limit be cause you can't constrain the uncertainties of an event in both its complementary directions in the one go.

    So it is a structural feature - an ultimate failure of a physical context to be able to constrain uncertainty - that produces quantum behaviour at the limits of material being. And that is of course a notion of observerhood or wavefunction collapse that is in keeping with OSR.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    Materialists think that all of Reality consists of the physical world.Michael Ossipoff

    Structuralists would take an expanded view of physicalism - one in which information becomes part of the picture. A context or history is the information that bears down to constrain the possibilities of what might happen at some locale.

    So it is Wheeler's "it from bit". Materialism believes that substantial, already in-formed, matter sits at the bottom of physical existence. An informational or constraints-based ontology flips it around so that the material is whatever is left as a concrete possibility after a context has restricted its variety.

    It recognizes that there’s no reason to believe that experience isn’t the fundamental reality of the describable world.Michael Ossipoff

    If your idealism rejects physicalism, then you won't have any interest in OSR as a species of physicalism.

    As I say, I don't take idealism seriously. It's a joke. And It has nothing to do with the OP. So it is off topic.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    Fundamental to an object's identity is it's spatial temporal locationMetaphysician Undercover

    And what do you think happens to that in the case of a system of entangled particles?

    So they deny the very thing which provides the identity of an object, its spatial temporal location, as not necessary to its identity.Metaphysician Undercover

    So you want to wind physics all the way back to absolute Newtonian reference frames? Sounds legit.

    The inability to determine the spatial temporal location of a particle, and therefore identify that particle, is a direct result of the mindset of modern physicists which makes spatial temporal location relative rather than absolute. .Metaphysician Undercover

    MU has spoken. Physics is rocked to its core.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k
    Why would we think of either relata or relations as temporally preceding the other? It seems obvious to me that they'd have to obtain in conjunction with each other.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    It seems obvious to me that they'd have to obtain in conjunction with each other.Terrapin Station

    In the end, that is what I would be saying too. In the "beginning" - before some kind of ordered notion of time or action exists - there would just be the complete nullity of a vagueness. Relata~relations - as the holistic enterprise - would have to emerge together, each being the ground to the "other".

    However, having said that, it also becomes useful to envisage starts and ends in terms of that which most dominates the scene. And cosmology tells us that in the beginning, we have the maximal state of uncertainty that is the "quantum fireball" of the Big Bang. Then at the end, we have the maximal state of classical certainty that is the Heat Death.

    So material fluctuation rules at the start, and formal constraint rules by the end. The two causes of being would always have to be co-present in reality. But the balance shifts from the dominance of the one to the other.

    The structuralist story is thus that structure has to develop. The cosmos exists because it was possible for disorder to grow the regularity of lawful habit. Essentially the Universe represents a phase transition which will be complete once it expands and cools to the point where it arrives at the generalised temperature of 0 degrees.

    So in this picture, we begin over at the extreme represented by material uncertainty - the Universe as a super-dense plasma without any particular structure to its fluctuations. Then we end at the other pole where all material fluctuations have been reduced to their simplest possible form - a lingering quantum sizzle of blackbody radiation "emitted" by the cosmological event horizon.

    And then in-between - like right about now - we have the middle ground story of little atomistic bits of crud still floating around at sub-relativistic speed. We have all the fermionic matter, like protons and electrons, that are locked up knots of substance - structural defects in a spreading~cooling spacetime fabric that is wanting to flatten itself right out.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.7k
    So you want to wind physics all the way back to absolute Newtonian reference frames? Sounds legit.apokrisis

    If the identity of an object is lost, through the use of relative reference frames, then this is illogical and unacceptable as an ontological principle. So it is not a matter of winding back physics, relative reference frames might be very useful in physics. But for those (OSRists) who want to impose onto ontology what works for physics, even though it produces an illogical ontology, I would say that this is a mistake. Don't you agree? Ontology is not physics, and a principle which is accepted in the practise of physics may be unacceptable in ontology.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    If the identity of an object is lost, through the use of relative reference frames, then this is illogical and unacceptable as an ontological principle.Metaphysician Undercover

    It might be a problem for predicate logic. But that already presumes the existence of definite particulars as part of its axiomatisation. That is what the principle of identity is about. Starting off with that as the assumption already granted.

    Should ontology limit itself to that kind of atomistic or nominalistic reasoning? Why would you think so?
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