Notice: session_start(): ps_files_cleanup_dir: opendir(/var/lib/php5) failed: Permission denied (13) in /home/astro/websites/astronomynet/htdocs/sitewide.php on line 4 Going Slow Is Sometimes Helpful. - an Astronomy Net Exploration Forum Message
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Going Slow Is Sometimes Helpful.

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on September 24, 2002 14:35:35 UTC

Hi Harv,

Sorry about the delay. Sometimes it is a little disconcerting just how volatile documentation can be. It is usually about the time you come to depend on things when they let you down. We had a electrical storm the other day and the power in the house shut down several times within a matter of a few minutes. I didn't worry about it much because my system is generally pretty robust; however, when everything was over, it had apparently corrupted some files (I suspect power failure during the boots). I know I have lost some files because I needed them to get back up. What else may be corrupted is an open question. I probably have some disappointments to face somewhere in the future.

With regard to your preference for quick pace action, I will comment that "quick pace action" clearly does not consider the broad range of possibilities and will often lead to error. Sometimes things which one person thinks of as obvious, will not be obvious at all to those who have not thought the situation out. In fact, history is full of things which everyone today takes as obvious and yet were entirely missed by our ancestors.

But, laying that all aside, you make it quite evident that you miss the central point of my proposition. My numerical labels are to be attached to anything which can be referred to. Identifying what you are referring to is an issue to be put off until some kind of understanding has been achieved. The issue is that I can label things which I think you are referring to without having the slightest idea what they are. The identification issue is one of those associations embedded in that vague and poorly defined language we are forced to use to communicate and have nothing to do with the issue I am currently attempting to communicate.

I never said we "cannot" discuss "dead horses"; what I said is that I did not have any desire to discuss them as the issues mentioned are uninteresting diversions from the main theme. That they can be referred to makes them part of "things which can be labeled with numbers". Anything which can be referred to can be labeled with a number because the reference itself may be converted to a number.

****
Harv: Why does it seem that you are trying to preclude the possibility of unidentifiables as existing?
****

It probably seems so to you because you have not taken the time to consider all the possibilities. It is exactly because I do not want to exclude any possibility that I use the term "things which can be referred to". I very much hate to exclude anything and I only exclude those "things which cannot be referred to" because I cannot conceive of any way to refer to them. Note that the category "things which cannot be referred to" can be labeled and/or referred to; it is only the things actually being referred to which "cannot be referred to" and that could very well be an empty set though I don't know that I could prove it.

****
Harv: Such a 'dead horse' is not something that your version of (6) properly handles.
****

I have no idea at all of what was going on in your head when you wrote that! I have made no comment concerning any "proper" method of labeling things with numbers; all I have said is, "It is possible to label all of these "things" with numbers".

****
Harv: And, I agree. Let's separate those 'things' which cannot ever be identified from (6), so that we know that they are not somehow including them as part of your model. Why does it seem that you are trying to preclude the possibility of unidentifiables as existing? Leave them (i.e., their possibility) out of (6) and let's get on with your other points. If you insist on eliminating the possibility of there being unidentifiable 'things', then I think that you are just trying to pull a fast one. If that is the case, then you should join the others at the G&S forum who are trying to pull fast ones (e.g., creationists). No fast ones please.
****

That paragraph is just chock full of misunderstandings and distortions of what I am saying. It is you who are trying to exclude "things" from "things which can be labeled with numbers". As I said earlier, I have no desire to exclude anything; that is why I use the term "can be referred to" and not "can be identified". It is also the reason I make no specification as to how this numbering is to be accomplished. Language consists of a collection of symbols which are used to communicate ideas; it is the abstract concept of language itself which is being represented by these numbers. I have chosen numbers because, under ordinary circumstances, no particular meaning need be attached: i.e., it is fairly simple to conceive of a set of labels (or symbols if you prefer) to be represented by a set of numbers without inadvertently attaching some meaning to those labels/symbols.

It is the avoidance of meaning which is critical to my argument. Any attachment of meaning constrains what is being represented and I want no such constraints on my considerations. With regard to "leaving things out", there is certainly no reason to leave out anything which can be referred to. That includes anything which can be referred to in any conceivable language. Perhaps you can get your mind around the idea of setting up a procedure for attacking the problem of translating an arbitrary code; there are many similarities between that problem and what I am doing.

Finally, you have referred to my "model". I have not yet presented any model; I have merely presented the issues which I feel are central to the subject I intend to model.

If you are to counter my statement, you must either find something which you cannot refer to which you can prove exists or something you can refer to where the reference you use cannot be represented with a number. I am making no constraints whatsoever on the scheme used to produce these numbers nor on the meaningfulness of any particular assignment! All I am saying is that "It is possible to label all of these "things" with numbers". In fact, putting the label "1" on each and every "thing" is entirely satisfactory: i.e., that is one of the possibilities referred to in the statement "It is possible to label all of these "things" with numbers". If you can show conclusively that that it is impossible to assign the number "one" to each and every "thing" which exists or can be thought to exist, then you have defeated point #6.

Can you comprehend what idea I am trying to refer to in point #6? Can you understand what I mean by "It is possible to label all of these "things" with numbers"? If you cannot comprehend that, then there is no purpose to going on. By the way, speaking of "fast ones", I get the distinct feeling you are searching very hard for a fast exit so that you need not consider what I am saying. Please assure me I am wrong.

Have fun -- Dick

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