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Posted by Aurino Souza on September 27, 2001 13:27:10 UTC

Hi Alan

I guess I'm starting to appear as a supporter for Dick (Harv once used the word 'apostle'). That is far from being the case. I only "buy into his scheme" as far as his "scheme" is exactly the same as my own. I believe so-called intelligent people are full of Language Removed but they don't realize it. I believe science is absolutely true but also absolutely irrelevant from a philosophical perspective, for the simple fact that we've made it all up. The only significant thing about science is that we CAN make one up. That's what is interesting about it but it's really no big deal, certainly not the big deal that people who see science as a form of materialist religion try to make of it.

I understand what's behind science and I'm convinced that Dick understands it the same way I do. I didn't learn anything from his paper as much as I saw in it a formal expression of stuff I have long known. That's all there is to my enthusiasm. There must be a post, buried down in the counterbalance forum, where I wrote that in the future scientists would discover that information, not matter or energy, is the essential stuff of the universe. You can imagine how happy I was when I read a post by Dick, who is a scientist, write exactly the same thing recently. In my opinion, Dick is a scientist of the future, the reason he's not well understood is because he is ahead of his time.

At the same time, I'm cynical of many of Dick's claims. First, I don't believe he is as original as he thinks he is. The central point in his presentation is that if one is concerned with truth then one should stick to logic and logic only, nothing else will do. I doubt that is a very original idea, although he makes an important point that scientists are often as illogical as anyone else. But, again, I doubt Dick is alone here, I think everyone who is skeptical of science as a source of metaphysical truths already knows that intuitively.

My second, and most serious, source of cynicism is the way Dick presents his ideas. Maybe that is not what he's really thinking but he does give the impression that physics can advance without empiricism, without the need to run experiments, because all we have to do is come up with new definitions which are consistent with existing ones and do the math. In a sense he's right, but I strongly disagree that it's always possible to come up with proper definitions by thinking alone, for the simple reason that we have no idea what we're dealing with. Sometimes we do, most often we don't. So it's easy for Dick to look at the current body of physics and say, look, this stuff which took you centuries to do is all math, all you had to do was add the numbers, no need for experiments and theories, it's all a consequence of your definitions. It's easy to say that because the experiments have been done, most bad theories discarded, and we're left with proper definitions. It's not so easy to come up with good, consistent definitions in the first place.

But that's as far as my cynicism goes. Overall I think the call for logic and lucidity when doing science, or anything supposed to be rational for that matter, could be a priceless contribution to the advance of society if only people listened to it. As it goes, though, I'm afraid the Alexes of the world will have a lot to talk about before until realize what science is really about. The good thing is that not a lot of people are listening anyway, although not always for the right reason.

As to your ideas, Alan, I really don't know what to say. Not long ago I engaged myself in building those complex personal philosophies, and I was quite successful in coming up with something that appeared perfectly sensible in my own eyes. Problem is, I realized philosophy is pretty much a waste of time so I gave it all up. I don't criticize you, I think it's wonderful to exercise your brain and find answers that satisfy your thirst for truth, I experienced that myself for a while, but these days I'm realizing more and more that real wisdom is quite simple and we all have a lot of it already. Sort of, stop discussing the chemical constitution of the beans, because the truth about the coffee is in the taste; the only truth worth knowing anyway. I hope you can understand what that means.

One final point. I think you make a mistake when you criticize Dick's reliance on mathematics. He makes it quite clear, right at the beginning of his paper, that he takes math for granted and I think he's well justified in doing so. I'm convinced that, as long as you're restricting yourself to a logical argument, it doesn't make sense to question mathematics, for the simple reason that math is a consequence of logic. If it turns out that math is not true, or that numbers are not what we think they are, then we can have no hope of ever understanding anything at all, at least not as long as logic is required for understanding. I find it funny that people don't realize that, it's so obvious to me.

Warm regards

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