Response to "Not Quite" by Harv (June 19) is on previous page, so reposted here:
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Posted by Alan on June 21, 2002 08:46:04 UTC
My guess is that Dick might still be reading some stuff here.
Easy to agree with a lot of what you wrote, but there are some subtle differences.
"We have to find common views".... I think Dick's paper is all about defining the tautological patterns of "common ground" during "collisions" of "concepts" (i.e, interactions of relationship-networks).
..."his approach also was a conceptual framework that had an assumed ontology." Fair comment. But the subtlety:
He claimed to try to make no assumptions (but admitted some assumptions). What he did was he started with an assumed ontology; looked at the tautological patterns associated with "common ground", and he got: his original ontology! And on the way, he found the laws of physics.
So he claimed to have "said nothing", yet was astonished to have said "the laws of physics" along the way. That's how I see it.
He tried to assume as little as possible; but you appear to be right that he still made assumptions. The key is that he ended out back with his starting ontology via the laws of physics. So he became rather skeptical about a lot of scientific activity.
"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."
I agree he seemed to overly rely on mathematics; I felt he could have questioned the foundations of mathmatics. I agree you must encounter full philosophical enquiry; but I think he felt his discovery of circular-reasoning patterns in physics applied also significantly to philosophy, or any collection of concepts. This apparantly made it harder for him, to take philosophy seriously; since he may have felt that he had short-circuited it.
But maybe he forgot that he could be in a "Mexican stand-off" with philosophy; Dick might short-circuit philosophy; but as you have tried to expain; philosophy might short-circuit Dick's claims.
Also, that very Mexican stand-off betwen Dick and philosophy might be "contained" in his work; so his work seems to "contain" itself over and over regarding whatever it interacts wth, like nesting Russian dolls, or like an expanding universe of creation, or like Chris Langan's self-swallowing sets.
(I realise my arguments get tenuous and less precise-seeming at times).
"How do we know all that is"? is certainly a more than 64 million dollar question. "Knowledge" seems to itself involve a relationship between knower and known, where that very relationship is creating that which is. Somehow we seem to be deeply caught up in the inner life of a creating God, of Existence Himself.
"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."
This seems to support that "idea" and "material object" evolve from a common origin. You seem to be talking of a materialised idea (genetic) that interacts one day with other material and generates ideas.
"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." One could simulate this with a computer prgramme; making "life-forms" that evolved to read virtual reality in different ways.
I wrote ***But "What is first" is a time-based question. The answer is that something basic underpins both matter and idea, something outside time: relationship.***
Harv wrote: "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."
Basically you answered the question: "structure" may be thought of as an outside-time concept, as eternally present. Relationships are what defines 'structure'.
Example, a relationship of steel beams may define a building; a relationship of events may define a circus performance.
"Structure" may be regarded as a collection of "hand-shakes" (as in John Cramer QED interpretation) or "agreements" or "deals" or "contracts" or logically-consistent definitions or scale-invariant connections of pattern (beyond space or time perspective; so I guess one may have a "structure" perspective!)
We are invited it appears, by the Creator of all, to create structures that exist eternally beyond space and time. The structures of logically consistent agreements appear to be in a mystical way the very body of Existence, of God. So we live in Him and He lives in us.
Maybe I seem out on a limb again with those comments.
"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."
But what IS the framework made of, originally, before it built up to a level of detail sufficient to interpret the sound associated with the shape of an "a" for example? Is it a materialised collection of ideas that became aware of itself? Whose ideas?
This seems to involve going beyond cosmology into the origin of everything.
Maybe Dick did not confuse ontology with epistemology; but saw them as two sides of one coin.
I think that Dick "removed himself from a conceptual framework" by default, by accident. He tried to minimise his framework; he looked at how it interacted with the law of non-contradiction and looked at its minimum structural patterns. He found physics laws along the way. He ended out back where he started and figured that he had as it were jumped out of the framework.
I agree with your argument about the prisoner of war. But what Dick did would be like the prisoner of war figuring out that "prisoner of war" is "a way of looking" at data such that you could look at any data in any universe and see an equivalent pattern to "prisoner of war". So he starts thinking just what is reality?
So here is a most shocking thing:
If this is true, then you are not trapped with your "prisoner of war" framework! There are alternative perspectives available!
In a sense it seems that reality can be whatever you want it to be (in honesty).
To me this sheds light on "Nothing will be impossible to you. You may say "move" to a mountain, and it will move". Or "As far as the East is from the West, so far do I remove your sins".
Do you see what I'm getting at? Apparantly we are not trapped; we can experience a different perspective. Incredibly, there can be "A new Heaven and a new Earth".
What if "what we are" is "our perspective" + "our relationship with Existence (our honesty)?
We are created as a relationship with Existence.
So the "beam" in our eyes is the "mote" in our brother's eye (More Biblical references there).
It seems that "how we see things" has a lot to do with "who we are that sees". One's soul would be "how the Creator sees one."
Thank you for very thought-provoking debate here.