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Posted by Harvey on April 11, 2002 16:39:54 UTC

Hi Dick,

***No, I had no intention of name calling. The term "idiot" is a very specific type of mental problem. The word comes from the same source as the word idiom and refers to a facility in learned behavior as opposed to thinking; an idiot is someone who cannot think beyond what they have specifically learned. Oft times they can have knowledge and abilities far beyond the average but "thinking" is not one of their strong points. Sometimes it is very difficult to detect an idiot as the ability to think is very difficult to test.***

Come on... Name calling is name calling. Let's agree not to do it. We're both professionals.

***"You are saying that my definition (which has been put forth as completely unconstrained) "inherently involves people" because ... as far as we know" ... Why did you insert the phrase unless you wanted to constrain it to something which included the concept "people". Can you not comprehend that the moment you do that, you need to show me that the concept "people" is required in all possible universes!"***

I think you are missing my point. You haven't defined 'numbers' in your paper. Had you defined numbers you would see that it is a human concept. A human concept necessarily involves humans. You or I have no idea if this concept is held by non-humans or simply 'exists' independently. If it does, great then your definition might make some sense. But, we cannot say that it does, so you cannot define numbers without it being a human concept (unless you want us to propose that numbers 'exist', but then that would be speculative).

***Does it now? If we are going to include all possibilities, why not include the possibility that the concept "numbers" exists outside the existence of humans? In fact, why not include the possibility that the concept can exist in the absence of anything else? It appears to me that your position is, in reality, that only things which you can conceive of exist! I am sorry Harv but that is the constraint put forward by all authorities and any thinking person can comprehend the danger in that error.***

Sure, it is possible that numbers exist (i.e. platonism is correct), but you are taking on a very significant assumption in your paper. Why not just assume that Unicorns exist? Or, that Bugs Bunny exists? It's possible, right? However, your paper is trying to remove false assumptions that lead to error, and yet your first assumption is as big as they come (hotly contested by nominalists, btw). You are advocating the existence of not only numbers, but universals. If numbers exist, then so does all of mathematics. So does pi, phi, triangles, squares, circles, spheres, etc, etc. For that matter, circles with different diameters exits, triangles with different lengths exist, imaginary numbers exist, Hilbert space exist, mathematical models exist, all computer algorithms exist, etc, etc. What you are assuming is so metaphysically 'heavy' that you are doing exactly the opposite of what you were trying to accomplish. You have assumed the world by assuming that numbers aren't merely human concepts.

***The entire human race is brought up to think that exclusion of the impossible is the route to clarification and understanding of any problem. On the contrary, a brief examination of the advances of mankind indicated that it is exactly what was thought to be impossible which turned out to be central issue in almost every major breakthrough. It is the mode of common human thought to strip things down to what they think are the essential features of a problem. It is very difficult for most people to comprehend an all inclusive attack.***

You can include the possibility for something to exist, but that doesn't mean you assume the existence of something. Your definition of reality assumes the existence of metaphysical structures that have absolutely no physical evidence of their existence. This is the kind of assumption that few people can accept without a great amount of skepticism.

***But, as I said earlier, just exactly why do you think I should concern myself with concepts which can not be communicated?***

We are talking about definitions. You defined reality as a set of numbers, but you refuse to define 'numbers' as a human abstract concept to represent things. In other words, you would rather propose the existence of mathematical objects that exist 'out there' (where?) rather than take a more reasonable position.

***Of issue is, does there exist any set of information which can not be represented via that model; and don't bother with the incommunicable issue as, if it is incommunicable, I won't bother representing it! To omit it is not a loss as I cannot communicate it anyway.***

In other words, if it can be represented in human language then it can be represented by the human concept of numbers. I can accept that. We can represent any referenced object by a number, so who could argue. The problem is the other assumptions that you make which I have cited many times.

Warm regards, Harv

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