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Posted by Harvey on June 19, 2002 04:41:21 UTC

Hi Alan,

***"We have to understand each other's conceptual framework (e.g., materialism, idealism, etc) before we can understand how to properly interpret empirical findings." And how do we understand another's conceptual framework?***

We have to find common views and start from there. The most practical method is by discussing where we differ in our opinions. Bridging conceptual frameworks is difficult, but not impossible.

***How do we relate our network of relationships of ideas with that of another? How do we map the other's network? Enter: R. Stafford's derivation of the laws of physics as the minimum tautological framework of information exchange!***

No. Dick's main failing was that he could never accept that his approach also was a conceptual framework that had an assumed ontology. The key is not trying to avoid assuming an ontology (which is impossible in my view), rather we must 'test' our ontology against all the rational arguments that can be made against it and see how it stands. To do this you cannot rely on the interpretation of mathematics, but must encounter full philosophical inquiry. Obviously Dick didn't care for this approach, hence the reason he finally packed his bags and left.

***It seems to me that Luis is using the word "material" in a different sense than Harv is.***

I agree that Luis is using the word 'material' in a different sense, but I don't believe he is consistent in its usage. Stay tuned.

***Luis's meaning of "material" seems to include all that IS, so by definition everything is material. Harv uses the word "material" in the sense of matter or energy ?***

Well, if that were the case, then the question becomes how do you know 'all that is'? This is the question that we cannot carelessly assume we know the answer. We need to inquire with our best philosophical and scientific tools to answer this question as well as we can.

***You look out the window and see material objects. But your experience of these objects is influenced by your prior collection of ideas. Thus a meteorologist might see patterns in the sky that a non-scientist might not identify.***

You got it. The conceptual framework that we interpret 'material objects' is why the term 'material level' is quite misleading. As I type this I notice that the table supporting my arm is hard and solid. At one time this appearance was so convincing that the ancient Greeks simply thought it was composed of a fundamental substance called 'earth'. Of course, we don't call hard substances 'earth' any longer. We have found a means to look beyond those appearances and no longer consider 'earth-stuff' as a real material substance. We know that solid surfaces such as this table next to me is mostly empty space that is held tightly together by the special properties of matter so that it appears solid and flat. There is no 'solid material level' of substance as perhaps Aristotle might have labelled it in one of his lectures.

***You interact with material things; update your way of looking at the world, and these ideas partly shape your interaction and perception of new material things. So what is first? An idea, or a matter-experience?***

The answer in my view is provided by an evolutionary account. Conceptual frameworks evolved along with the organism and a certain amount of wiring was encoded in the genetic code. Instinct, genetic predisposition, etc is all part of our conceptual make-up, which exists prior to our first sentient experience. Hence, an idea is encoded in our genes prior to our matter-experience. We cannot help but perceive the world with 4 billion years of evolutionary history somehow tainting that perception. If we evolved differently, then 'our' conceptual framework would be quite different, and presumably our matter-experience (as you call it) would also be quite different.

***But "What is first" is a time-based question. The answer is that something basic underpins both matter and idea, something outside time: relationship.***

I'm not sure what you are referring to here. Are you talking about cosmology?, stellar evolution? biological evolution?, evolution of consciousness? our conception? our first sentient thought? our birth? our first conscious thought? The history of the universe is apparently a spectrum where one series events gradually merge into another series of events. The issue of what is 'first' is perhaps an unnatural label that has many proto- and post- events that lead up to and follow such 'first events'. Humans establish the criteria we use to identify what is first, and this criteria is often arbitrary.

***Creation: "idea" becomes "object"; "idea" and "object" are one. You are one of God's ideas!***

This is getting a little off the subject. The point here is that conceptual frameworks precede our perceptualizing of the world (otherwise, how could we perceptualize if there were no framework by which to interpret the sense impressions?). Getting into pre-cosmology is another subject entirely.

***How R. Stafford steps beyond math, physics, and philosophy: he identifies how ideas and objects can be thought of as the same thing. So the controversy "philosophical basis first" versus "materialism first" is solved by stepping outside time and seeing the chicken and the egg, the wave and the particle, matter and energy, as coming from a common origin through the law of non-contradiction.***

I don't agree with this at all. Dick's steps only perpetuate the problem since it confuses epistemology with ontology and ontology with epistemology. I still to this day believe that Dick has no clear idea what these two concepts mean, and I think he mixes up the two concepts. We cannot remove ourselves from our conceptual framework, because if we could do that, then we would not have 4 billion years of evolutionary history behind us. But, that's impossible because we *do* have 4 billion years of history behind us. It is like someone who was a prisoner of war and then trying to lead his life as if he wasn't a prisoner of war. This is impossible! Once you are a prisoner of war you are stuck having the experiences and conceptual framework of someone who was a prisoner of war. That Dick couldn't see this very simple fact is very frustrating. I tried. (Reminds me of the old Country and Western song "Mama tried").

It sounds like you miss Dick. You should probably send an e-mail to Aurino. I think he wants to tell you were Dick and him have settled in their new forum home (just a guess).

Warm regards, Harv

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