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Can We Find The Start Point?

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on March 26, 2002 21:24:12 UTC

Hi Harv,

I am sorry that you find my attempts so difficult to understand. You need to read the original post on this thread again carefully (but please, do not try to read between the lines)

http://www.astronomy.net/forums/god/messages/15690.shtml

What I was trying to say there was that I have come to realize that, in order for you to understand what I have done, you need to understand the original problem I attacked. That is what I was referring to when I said, "before I can do that, we must come to an understanding of my concept of what I am working with". Reading it now I see I was not clear at all. Sorry about that.

As I said, the original problem I solved was extremely simple; but, once having discovered a solution, I realized that the solution could be generalized far beyond the original situation.

You need to examine paragraph number seven of the post 1560.shtml referenced above.

Harv, according to you, "[one] cannot have a problem unless there is a question."

To paraphrase paragraph #7,

It is the forgone conclusion of everyone that absolutely nothing can be done towards the solving of a problem prior to knowing what the [question] is (everyone postpones thinking about solving a problem until they have some idea what the [question] is: i.e., they presume *nothing* can be done if "what the [question] is" is unknown). I hold that presumption to be false! You will never be able to understand my thoughts if you cannot bring yourself to consider that very problem.

Your position is exactly the position I referred to: you believe that absolutely nothing can be done towards solving a problem about which you know absolutely nothing. You don't have to convince me of that fact; I accept it, I know you are totally confident that nothing can be done and you can come up with a million good reasons that your position is very well founded. However, as I said, I hold that presumption to be false. Instead of presenting me with your arguments as to why that presumption is true (which believe me, I am very well aware of) you should instead be asking "why in the world would he think it is false"?

Now that you understand that I do really hold that presumption to be false, you should comprehend why I have no need of your arguments as to why it has to be true. Of course you think it is true, so does everyone else; if they didn't, they would have attacked the problem a thousand years ago! The actual fact is that such a problem is simply inconceivable to them.

Let us see if I can at least make the problem conceivable to you.

So, let us look at the idea that "nothing can be done". Now I know that statement is false on the face of it. I can certainly go home and watch television! The solution of the problem just might be in the next "Man Show". After all, I don't know what the question is so I can't prove it won't be!

But of course, that is not what you mean!

So let us shift your position a bit: let's shift it to "nothing *useful* can be done". So our difference in opinion has now, in essence, shifted to a question of the value of watching the "Man Show". Now the issue is clearly one of opinion and not of fact. Your opinion is "Nothing useful can be done" my opinion is "I think there is something useful which can be done".

From this difference of opinion, there are only two paths which are rational to take! First, we could agree to disagree and forget this whole discourse which sure is the easy out but it certainly does not explain my position (unless you just want to call me nuts and forget it). Or, I could show you what I propose to do and then, when I finish, and you understand what I have done you can decide for yourself if you think what I did was useful or not. You certainly cannot make that decision if you do not understand what I am proposing to do.

I only ask two things of you: first, seriously consider the problem as "my trying to prepare myself to answer an some unknown question" (something we are both well aware of appearing to consist of "absolutely nothing worthwhile") and second, point out any step where you think what I say I wish to do cannot be done. This is a real world problem and has nothing to do with philosophy; it is pure out and out deductive logic!

Of important significance is that this is preparation only and at no point have I said I can answer any question. The only issue is: "is where I end up a valuable place to be?" And you certainly cannot know that unless I can take you there. That you think it is a worthless trip is fully understood so you need not try to convince me of that.

Does anything here make sense to you -- Dick

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