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Posted by Harvey on February 27, 2002 16:48:26 UTC


***H: We don't know if a concept is communicable until we attempt to communicate it and we see if the other party appears as if they understand it. D: Notice that, in my earlier post, I provided infinite time as part of my definition of "communicable". Whether or not something is communicable is not really of issue here; it is an issue to be settled at the end of the game: i.e., after the communicable concept has been communicated. Until it has been communicated any concept must be regarded as possibly incommunicable and after it has been communicated, it certainly cannot be classified as incommunicable. This is certainly not an issue to be decided at the beginning of the attempt to communicate.***

I'll go along with that.

***H: In day to day communication we pay little heed to those obscure factors, but they are always lying under the surface to distort the message. D: Exactly to the point. At any moment in the transaction, we must always maintain the position that what we think has been communicated might be in error. This position must always be maintained as a possibility which may be altered later: i.e., due to some subtle misinterpretation, there always exists the possibility that our understanding of the communication is faulty. H: Nevertheless, we can establish communication by establishing a number of areas where we can understand each other, and this is why communicable concepts are even possible. D: This statement appears to contradict the position I just expressed. My position is that the fact of communication is always essentially assumed. Although the existence of this communication may apparently be well defended by a large number of events which appear to be direct consequences of communication, we must always remember that the possibility of error exists!***

Yes, the possibility of error exists, however there is greater possibility when there appears to be a misunderstanding or miscomprehension of the message. For example, if I told you that green is my favorite color and 5 seconds later you said 'what did you say?', then the appearance is that miscommunication has occurred. On the other hand, if you asked me immediately afterward that I must prefer green MM's over red MM's, then I would suppose that you understood what it means for green to be my favorite color (although for the record I like red MM's). The more that one gives the appearance of understanding a message, the more likely it is that one does in fact understand that message. This is one important factor in establishing good communication - to determine how well a message was received. We never know for sure, but we seek to have a pragmatic justification for believing that a message was properly received. Similarly, we have pragmatic justification to say we understand the Universe when the appearance is that we do (whether we actually do understand the Universe is another matter entirely).

***H: Rather than get all caught up in our inability to communicate, we keep tossing out analogies, descriptions, definitions, etc which we hope will bridge the difference in the way we think so that we can form a common understanding. By forming this common understanding it is hoped that our communication is effective enough so as to be effective. D: That is the standard way of attempting communications. I wish to lay that aside and instead, consider the nature of the fundamental problem which confronts us.***

This is where I am somewhat skeptical. If communication (either with sender/receiver, or individual/Universe) is by appearance, then how can we avoid but addressing only the appearance as it appears to our sense impressions (i.e., the method used by science)? To focus on any other means but appearances seems to me to be a doomed effort.

***Reiterating, "whether or not something is communicable is not really of issue here"! What is of issue is how I am going to handle the problem of analyzing the communication itself in order to assure that I do not fail to include the possibility that I have misinterpreted something.***

That's right, appearances can be deceiving.

***With regard to that problem, there exist two very different aspects of what I will present. First, there is the aspect of how I want to catalog and examine that communication. This I claim to be a totally free issue: i.e., I can catalog and analyze it in any way I choose. You may argue that I am wasting my time but there exists no issue of right or wrong here with one single very specific exception. That single exception is the possibility that there exists some communication or part of a communication which cannot be cataloged or analyzed by the procedure which I will propose.***

If communication (either between sender/receiver or individual/Universe) is by appearances, any cataloging of the 'facts' is also dependent on appearances. As you say, what if a great deal of the 'facts' are misleading, then it follows your cataloging will be false. For example, Greek philosophers attempted to catalog the world into basic substances (e.g., earth, wind, air, fire, ether, etc). Such cataloging is entirely fictious to us today because the appearances were too misleading to properly catalog. Today we catalog elements based on the periodical table which we feel we have better justification only because the appearance is that we actually understand based on our predictive accessments. In the ancient Greek case, we have a cataloging attempted with any real knowledge of nature, and in the second the cataloging is done with what appears to be real knowledge of nature. Which one do you consider successful?

***With regard to this issue, error is not a possibility. My reasons as to why I propose any given way of cataloging the data are not a real issue at all. It is, in fact, present only to provide some connection to tangible roots you refer to in your comments to Paul. As you say, these abstract concepts which I am presenting did not arise from nothing; rather they are based on much thought about what I knew when I started down this path. Sort of like someone wandering in the jungle, why he took a particular turn is immaterial if the issue is what he found.***

If your abstract concepts are based on thought about what you knew when you started, then what separates your attempt from Thales who was one of the pioneers in ancient Greece of categorizing substances?

***Although I would call these observations insights into the nature of the problem, whether they are indeed true insights or instead mere deluded perceptions is of no real consequence. What is of consequence is where they lead me. It is very important that you realize that the truth or error of the perceptions themselves has no bearing whatsoever on the final issue.***

Let's assume for argument sake that they lead you to some profound conclusions. How do you verify those conclusions? If you insist that you don't need to be verified because they are based on mathematical reasoning, then how do you verify that the observable variables of the Universe assigned to mathematical variables are actually correct assignments? Maybe you are mistaken in your assignments.

***So, in essence, I am going to show you a way of cataloging arbitrary communications which yields some rather astounding relationships. To find fault in what I present, you need to show that there exists a communicable concept which cannot be represented as I propose to represent it.***

Since communication is by appearances, how do you know what you do not know? That is, if something is incommunicable, how would you know that it is or isn't unless appearances led you to that conclusion. What if the incommunicable had no appearance by which to decide the issue. For example, Thales may have been surprised that is basic constituents of the world where based on faulty appearance. In actuality he lacked the ability to communicate the real nature of matter. The real constituents were incommunicable (as far as Thales is concernced), but there is no way for him to know that.

Warm regards, Harv

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