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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on September 13, 2002 12:54:05 UTC

Hi Harv,

Your agreement is quite astonishing! In fact, I have been slow to answer as I am trying to be as careful as possible to be as clear as I can be. As I said earlier, the "things" referred to are what I want to discuss. First, I contend that, without making any commitment at all as to what they are, I can conceptually divide the "things" referred to into two very different categories. The first category consists of those "things" which exist (those things which constitute elements of "Ultimate Reality") and the second category consists of those "things" which do not exist in "Ultimate Reality" but are only believed to exist by the person referred to in point #4.

I am not suggesting that there exists any way to distinguish between these two things, but rather that the two categories are fundamentally different in a very specific way. Let me put it another way: of those things which the person referred to in point #4 believes exist, it is possible that some may truly exist. Unless he just happens to guess the "things" constituting "Ultimate Reality" it is very probable that many others could be held as invalid concepts: that is, if he actually knew "Ultimate Reality" he would not see belief in them as necessary.

On the other hand, before one jumps to that particular label (invalid carries significant conceptual baggage with it), one should first ask why these other "things" are there. It seems to me to be very reasonable that without these additional "things" that person cannot generate a rational mental model. What I am suggesting is that, without these "things", he has no answers to questions significant to his understanding of the universe (true or not true, these are the building blocks of his conception). What is significant here is that these "things" are open: he can choose anything he wishes as these things have nothing to do with "Ultimate Reality" and everything to do with his personal explanation (his mental picture of the universe).

So I reach my fifth point (not near as easy to communicate as the first four): those "things" which are not part of "Ultimate Reality" are not constrained in any way. True or false is not an issue here at all: the only fact of significance is that the conceiver finds them useful to his personal explanation.

***5. Fifth, those "things" which are not part of "Ultimate Reality" can be absolutely anything.***

Notice that I do not eliminate any explanations (any mental models of reality); whether those explanations could be called good or poor is a completely separate issue. It is very important that I do not constrain the possibilities in any way as, if I do, I might accidentally eliminate a possibility which could be the most valuable explanation possible (valuable to be defined later).

Have fun -- Dick

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