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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on August 15, 2002 01:28:10 UTC

Hi Aurino,

1. ____ exists

How does it sound?

Ok, I guess. But I really don't know what exists means. The only "exists" I am aware of which is reasonably exact is the idea of a mathematical relation existing which essentially means it is not internally self contradictory.

2. It's possible to make propositions about some aspects of ____ which might or might not be true

Can you accept that?

Yes, I guess I can accept that but the issue is far down the line from where I am working. I am working with the issue of how one chooses to represent "____" . It seems to me that the issue of making propositions must be put off until we know how "____" is to be represented.

Aurino: Gotcha! That's where the trick is. Before we can talk "representation" we have to talk "proposition". More in a future post.

If that is your position then you will have to give me a proposition which lacks a representation! I am fully prepared to give you a representation which lacks a proposition (or at least lacks any known proposition).

Aurino: I'm not theorizing! All I'm doing is trying to understand the difference between ____ and any theories about ____!

The central issue of my presentation is that the representation is capable of representing anything communicable, any propositions or theories imbedded in a message using that representation is completely beside the point; an issue which can be considered by others at some later date.

Aurino: I'm not trying to coerce you into anything, just trying to find a way to communicate an extremely abstract concept.

I think I understand exactly what you are trying to do; the problem is that the abstract concept you are trying to put forward is far beyond the scope of the problem I am discussing. I think our differences can be summarized with the issue of which comes first: proposition or representation. You think proposition comes first because you are intending to deal with the problem of making propositions in the representation your subconscious has already presented to you.

As I said, "I am willing to do that" as in order to communicate I must use a ready made representation, "but" since very little of that ready made representation (created by my subconscious) is decently exact, "I insist that only those logical constructs which can be exactly defined be used." To do otherwise is to invite logical disaster. That is the reason I use mathematics.

Aurino: I want you to understand that the relationship between those symbols and the ideas you have in your head is not as straightforward as you think they are.

Well, I think you have to understand the meaning of the symbols first. Remember, I understood the representation some 30 years ago and have spent considerable time percolating the ideas which have arisen from them. When you clearly understand the meaning of the symbols, then we can discuss the relationships between those symbols and the ideas I have in my head.

Aurino: One final note on my three assumptions. All I need to know is whether you agree we can assume them or not. That's all there is to it, the rest is just a matter of working out the consequences.

I have no argument whatsoever with your assumptions. The issue is that I have not concerned myself at all with any of the issues you bring up as I cannot: I lack the tools to consider them. Absolutely all I am concerned with is "how am I going to represent the information I have to deal with?"

As you said earlier in "Gotcha!", you want to put forth propositions in the absence of representation, whereas I am interested in representation in the absence of propositions. As a computer programmer you should comprehend that issue. Certainly the hardware representation of information must be established before you begin the work of designing a programming language. Furthermore, discussing representations of "propositions" is way down the line from where I am working.

Sorry about giving you a hard time. I don't mean to do that it is just that we do need to understand one another if anything is to be communicated.

Have fun -- Dick

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