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Set-Up For Question 6

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Posted by Harvey on December 3, 2004 18:49:58 UTC

I don't want to frustrate you by asking question after question, so I'll answer your post first, and ask my question 6 in another post. The purpose of the question 6 is to focus on substance rather than get distracted by all the philosophical issues that are raised in these discussions.

Out of curiosity, would you please let me know how you feel "physical" is to be defined without an explanation of what you are talking about? Think about it a little.

Well, I don't know about you, but I seek an explanation when I encounter a physical phenomena that I don't understand. So, for example, when I was young I noticed that planes could fly, so I asked my father why a plane can do that. I had no previous experience of seeing an object move in the air, and I wanted to understand how that was possible. As it turns out, I do experience the power of wind and I can be shown how a plane's wing can overcome gravity by the shaping the wing in a certain design. Nothing that is explained is ever beyond my immediate experience of tangible, physical things which I see day in and day out.

I also feel you are confusing yourself when you hold that one cannot refer to something which is undefined. I have in my mind a hieroglyphic text which I have seen used in several different places; however, what it means is presently beyond my knowledge. I would call it undefined and yet I can refer to what it means (in fact, I just did) and I think further study of its use might indeed lead me to understand what it means. In your world, your logical position seems to be that it must be referring to a "physical thing" or it would require no explanation. That seems to be an extremely limited view of the concept normally referred to by the term "explanation".

If you don't understand the meaning of hieroglyphics, then it is gibberish to you, right? The only reaon why you know hieroglyphics have meaning is because you 'see' and 'hear' authorities telling you and putting their words in writing (etc) which say hieroglphics aren't gibberish.

You say, "I don't know what you want 'explanation' to mean if you cannot refer to physical things". Certainly you cannot explain "physical things" until after you have explained what a "physical thing" is and thus your concept of an explanation is wholly inadequate.

I can explain a physical thing by pointing to it, or by picking it up and dropping on someone's foot. They get the idea real quick. But, I cannot show them a concept such as 'renishiness'. Someone is going to ask me to put 'renishiness' in physical terms that they can understand. If I say 'renishiness' is like 'quagineshness' but just as much 'ness' to it, they will say that my explanation still has no reference to any physical thing, so they cannot understand what I'm saying. Unless I can point to something that they can reduce to things they understand, they are going to pretty much ignore me.

You ask for a definition of explanation in the absence of a definition of "physical". I thought I made my concept of an explanation quite clear: "I define 'An explanation' to be a method of obtaining expectations from given known information". (Expectations are answers to some questions and neither the answers nor the questions need to be defined for one to comprehend the relationship herein implied.) If you can think of an "explanation" which does not fall under that definition, let me know.

But, known information is reducible to physical things. In your case, I'm asking for the basic meaning of an explanation which doesn't depend on referring to physical things. So far, you have not done so. In fact, your saying you need to define physical things with an explanation, which doesn't make any sense since all explanations are made in the context of physical things, so it's absurd to model an explanation without having some reference to something physical.

In my opinion, Aristotle's position is ludicrous as it merely ignores the problem: i.e., "another form of knowledge" is clearly not a defendable source and simply amounts to nothing more than an assumption that one "knows" the correct answer a-priori; a rather overwhelming assumption. From our discussion I have come to the conclusion that you believe Aristotle's position to be the only valid conclusion.

Not so. I'm not arguing for a particular theory of explanation. All I'm saying is that if you are going to define or model an explanation, you must do so in context of the properties of a phenomena that you are tying to explain. It is ludicrous to say that you must define the physical properties by first providing a model of an explanation. At first, there is nothing to explain when you first encounter a physical thing. That is, you are not forced to ask for an explanation. An explanation is something you would like, but as long as you are warm, well fed, and happy, you could live just fine. If you seek to understand something, all that means is that you would like to put the things you don't understand in the same familiar setting as the things you do understand (e.g., being warm makes you feel cozy, being well fed makes you lose the need to eat, etc).

No one is saying what is an explanation. All I'm saying is that an explanation to be satisfactory must at least refer to the things you are familiar (i.e., physical things), otherwise you will never feel satisfied with that explanation.

My position is akin to the idea of circular demonstration; however, instead of requiring that "for some set of fundamental principles, each principle could be deduced from the others", I point out that there exists no explanation of anything which cannot be mapped into my model. That is to say that what one chooses as "fundamental principles", is immaterial to the final solution. No matter what that solution might be, it can be mapped into the model I present.

And, what you are not considering is that to explain or model an explanation is to first tell me what physical phenomena of an explanation that you are trying to model. In other words, if someone says they are going to explain why the sun is hot in summer but cold in the winter, I know the 'physical things' they are trying to make sense of, and I expect that whatever they explain is going to be based on what I already know (i.e., what I have already been able to extend my knowledge from my immediate environment to an environment which now includes the nature of atmospheric conditions, weather fronts, etc.). In your case, when I ask what 'physical things' you are going to explain, you look at me cross eyed as if I had asked you what color is your dog's bark. I'm not asking anything so impossible. I merely want to know what 'physical things' or what physical phenomena do you want to model. For example, when modeling an explanation, do you wish to model how we identify a phenomena that is worthy of a scientific explanation? Are you modeling how physical phenomena is framed into a scientific explanation, etc? All such models are understandable since they refer to physical things. When you start saying you are modeling a concept without a reference to physical things, and then say any such reference to a physical thing requires you to model an explanation first, then that only tells me that you have no sense of what an explanation is in the first place. It's cart before the horse and the horse takes off leaving you stranded. In fact, you don't even realize that you have been left stranded!

The essence of my position is that any logical construct no matter what axioms it is based on can be modeled by my model and, as I can clearly demonstrate a mapping of my model into modern physics, any explanation can be mapped into our current accepted world view of reality. This opens the door to an infinite number of possible solutions. The only differences in that collection of solutions is the complexity of the predicted consequences: in other words, the predictive value of the perspective.

This is what I mean that you don't realize that you have been left stranded by your horse. With your horse gone, all you can do is convince yourself that you are saying something meaningful, but all you have done is refer to your horse (i.e., physical thing) who is no longer with you. So, you are acting like you are in motion going somewhere important, but you are stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Once one accepts the validity of my work, some serious philosophical issues come up which are quite at odds with currently accepted ideas of reality. I had hoped to discuss some of this with someone. Sorry it took me so long to get back!

That's quite alright. But, if you really want someone to take your work seriously, then you need to stop trying to define an undefined concepts with more undefined concepts and instead focus on modeling physical things such that the undefined concept is understood in context. For example, if you really want to create a model of an explanation, then what you need to do is model physical things which are not understood all that well (e.g., the origin of the universe) and show how your model produces empirical data which only your model can predict. That first establishes it as a cosmological theory. Then you take it to the field of economics, and you show how it can model the stock market and predict a stock's closing value prior to the market's opening (let me know when you get this far, I'd like to make a few mil before you report the findings), and so on. Eventually you can say that you have successfully modeled the concept of explanation by showing that every explanation that can be thought of by man is not only conceptualized by your model, but in addition, it produces results which no other model can produce. People will eventually become convinced that you have modeled an explanation since the output is the same as people's experience, hence you have modeled an explanation. You will be famous and people will think of you like Paul thinks of you. Until then, you will be waiting for your horse to come back.

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