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Hi Dick!

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Posted by Harvey on August 29, 2002 17:33:04 UTC


It's always good to hear from you!

***First, you are wasting your time with Luis as, whenever he wants, he just misrepresents what others say and argues with that instead of what they say. It's just a ploy!***

I fully disagree with this. Philosophy requires the pursuit of many different viewpoints.

***Harv: The term 'bias' entered the discussion because it is evident that you hold your particular ontology (i.e., a version of psychologism) to be the correct one. It appears to have so much biased your perspective that you cannot even conceive of being wrong. D: I am afraid that complaint goes also to you.***

Absolutely correct! I am just as biased as anyone. The issue is not that we have bias, the issue is what sub-conceptual schemes are we prepared to give up if they do not cohere with layers having presumably more precendence (e.g., conventions non-fallacious reasoning, etc).

***Harv: The question I've asked two times has not been answered ("I want to ask you again, Luis, how do you know that your (bias) is an absolutely correct bias?"). Your response indicates that you won't even question that you have a biased view, nor will you even entertain being wrong in how you analyze the foundations and fallibility of your knowledge. D: Here you bring up exactly the issue I have circumvented. Of course, I do put the whole burden right back on mathematics which I admit to depending upon; however, without mathematics (which I personally define as the invention and study of internally self consistent systems) any discussion of anything is rather a waste of time. The circumvention occurs because, using only mathematics, I can construct a completely general model of what you know which aligns quite nicely with my "ontological bias" thus that bias becomes immaterial (it is without material consequence).***

True to only a certain extent. Mathematics still depends on axioms. The choice of axioms, of course, holds a high precedence, and is not easily avoidable (although, axioms of math are constantly questioned and have been questioned). The problem, though, is that mathematics has nothing to do with the external world, so you need more ontological commitments besides the mere math axioms that you use to construct your model. Without those other commitments, you would have no means to 'hook' your model into the world of physics (i.e., the material universe).

***[P1''] - My subconscious leads me to believe that there is a world 'out there' that is separate from my inner thoughts (my conscious awareness) which I call 'reality'. Ultimate reality is what I perceive must really be 'out there' and I define that to mean that ultimate reality cannot be reduced to misperception, chemical imbalances in our cognitive abilities, inaccurate human theories of nature (including the concept of "sense impressions"), etc., etc., etc. !***

How do you know from P1'' that you have a sub-conscious? This concept is also developed from P1'. The most basic interaction I can contemplate is the flood of images, sounds, smells, etc that come to 'me'. The 'me' is simply that which reacts to the images, sounds, smells (i.e., sense impressions). If I describe this, the best that I can say is P1'. If I introduce the term 'conscious' or 'sub-conscious', then I have introduced something additional to P1'. In order to communicate this point more clearly, all I have to ask is "how do you know that you have a conscious?". Your answer, I imagine, is "because I feel myself reacting to my thoughts of images, sounds, smells, etc". This is P1'. P1'' reduces to P1'.

***Harv: You need others to be biased in a like minded way, otherwise you could never have any basis by which to establish a convention in logic, math, etc. D: That is why I work with mathematics. As far as I am aware, it is the only bias which even begins to approach universality.***

Perhaps 'logic' might be more basic since you need some type of logic to make mathematics meaningful to the questions you wish mathematics to address. In addition, you need logic to even obtain meaningful axioms of math. Paul and I have argued this point more than once, but each time we each agree to disagree. I agree, of course, that mathematicians treat the basic definitions and symbols as undefined (i.e., meaningless), however whenever we are talking about P1' and applying math to it, we are necessarily adding meaning to our axioms.

Okay, so you are working at a basic level (math), maybe not the most basic level, but at a fundamental level. At least it is more reasonable (i.e., epistemologically more adequate) to do so. However, in the process of making these additional assumptions, the question is whether you are describing ultimate reality or merely settling for an epistemologically more adequate approach. Well, if you are starting from P1' (and hence P1''), then you are not describing ultimate reality and nor could you even hope to do so (as even you, I think, might agree). The problem, then, is exactly what kind of epistemological value do you obtain. This is the main problem since good explanation is never enough to have high epistemological value (at least in the majority of the experience of humanity). Good explanations - even good statistical analysis explanations - require prediction to reach a higher epistemological value. Simply validating what we already know does not raise the epistemological value. You have to make accurate new predictions, otherwise it is to be considered more fallible 'knowledge'. That is the only means we have to ascertain that we aren't working with Bible Codes (even a mathematician's version of a Bible Code - which, incidentally, the 'Bible Code' is trying to pawn itself as being).

***P3' (Many possibilities but I'll go with this logical path), humans do not have access to all theoretical implications of any phenomena of which we possess theories. {Dick: That's fine but your defense of P3 is in essence completely circular: since QM is a theory, the "principles of QM" are an aspect of the theory}***

I didn't mean to infer that these principles are the building blocks of the QM theory, rather they are accepted bedrock principles of QM (e.g., uncertainty principle). To reject those principles is currently equivalent to rejecting the theory.

***C2' Hence, we are not capable of fully knowing [ultimate] reality. D: Absolutely true! At any moment, we only have a limited portion of "ultimate reality" to work with! What I refer to as "knowable data"! What is even of deeper significance here is that we have no way of determining the difference between that data and the erroneous stuff our subconscious has led us to believe: that portion of the information we build theories out of which is just a figment of our imagination (the class I refer to as "unknowable data")***

I would say that we have no portion of 'ultimate reality' to work with. We don't have access to this data is what I'm trying to say here. All we have access to is the flood of images, sounds, smells, etc that we are reacting to. What that is, we cannot say if it is 'ultimate' information or trivial information. We strongly feel based on the flood of images, sounds, smells, that we have good reason to believe that we are accessing ultimate reality, but we may be disillusioned. For example, a schizophrenic may have very good reason to believe they are experiencing ultimate reality with one of their dillusions, but that doesn't make it so. They too are experiencing a flood of images, sounds, smells, etc, but much of it could be quite misleading.

***Harv: in that case we still have the problem of dealing with implications of implications, the practicality of us having access to all observable implications, etc. D: I deal directly with the problem of the fact that we only have a limited portion of "ultimate reality" to work with and am astounded that you have no interest in following the logic of that procedure. Your concern seems always to be the idea that such issues cannot be thought of.***

I have no problem playing math games to try and duplicate the epistemological knowledge of science, however where I have a problem is that I cannot accept epistemological methods that do not produce predictive success on their own merit. It is fine if a purely mathematical-based epistemological model can produce the same 'knowledge' as produced by our well-accepted scientific/epistemological-based methods, but this is only half the success. The other half of that success (and, by far, the most important part) comes from predictive success. Without this added half, we have no way to know if we are dealing with Bible Codes or a new means to produce more certain-type knowledge (i.e., very reliable such as the scientific 'method'). Unfortunately, without this other half there is no way to determine if you have produced a Bible Code or your discovery is more important than the contributions of Einstein and Newton combined (which it would be if you could make the predictions since a pure mathematical model would be more fundamental than the scientific models and thereby presumably lead to far, far more successes at understanding nature than the scientific models). Now, which is more likely, that you have reached the level of a combined Einstein-Newton, or simply produced another Bible Code as is common in the history of science? I wish I had a dollar for every Bible Code (in one version or another). To date, no one has been able to surpass the reliable success of the so-called scientific method. In fact, Bible Codes are always trying to duplicate the success of scientific methods, they seem to completely ignore the predictive requirements that science attains. It is not so easy to predict, but it is a heck of a lot easier to explain once you have the predictive models at hand.

***So all that is left is that we do the best we can with what we can agree on! Mathematics and its implications???***

Oh, agreed. We can throw a whole bunch of tools at trying to make reasonable accessments of the world. We can apply logical analysis to ontological questions such as what philosophers try and do, or we can apply mathematics and try to answer ontological questions (philosophers are also aided by these methods), etc. However, we are engaged in philosophy and not science and not mathematics.

Unfortunately, most philosophers are not interested in constructing a mathematical epistemological-based answer that produces a great deal of existing physics. Philosophers fear Bible Codes as much as the next guy. Philosophers mostly concentrate in dwelving into questions which lay the groundwork for future scientific success (or better understanding past scientific successes). For example, current interest in the philosophy of science is heavy into the realism/anti-realism debate, the role of language, the nature of scientific laws, the nature of mathematical models, work related to neurobiology and cognitive science (e.g., AI), counterfactuals, causality, the nature of space-time, reductionism and holism in science, scientific methodologies, factors in favoring theory acceptance, the nature of scientific evidence, biological divisions of species, genus, families, interpretations of quantum mechanics, interpretations of probability within science, etc. And, this is just one field within philosophy. Working to solve these kind of problems helps to avoid misconceptions in scientific work. In terms of understanding science, it is better to analyze the philosophical claims of science and understand them in terms of the successes and failures of science rather than trying to duplicate the success of science. We can add more to our understanding of science using this means, but this does not entail duplicating the results of science (anymore than the philosophy of law tries to duplicate the success of the judicial system). It simply tries to understand the philosophical implications and as well as perhaps the metaphysical implications of science.

***Ok, then let's drop the issue and go for agreement instead. (Now you could say nuts can agree with one another and I would say that is true, they can - but how often do they?)***

It seems 'nuts' agree fully when they face a common foe, but their disagreements are often swept under the rug and reappear after the foe has departed.

***Now my position is that all you say is well and good; however, I have not the competence to judge the correctness of such things, I must leave that to my subconscious. I give my life over to my subconscious; I do what ever seems to be the best thing at the time and have been quite successful with that approach. It is my opinion that anyone who thinks they can solve such things on a conscious level is deluding themselves. Very little can actually be understood on a conscious level and that fact should be paramount in your mind. Tautologies are important because the are able to reduce long involved arguments to nuggets which can be comprehended on a conscious level. With a tautology, if you accept the nugget as true then all that follows is true. If you don't then it's not! It's all as simple as that!***

Dick, your 'subconscious' is a pscyhological concept that was used to better understand the working of the mind. If you reduce this picture to its pre-ontology, I think you will see that even the 'stream of moments' that we experience are reducable to P1'. We are simply rationalizing a collection of moments into a rational structure which we can characterize as our experience of the world. From there we begin to characterize different levels of awareness that we have of that experience, and so on. However, prior to recognizing a 'stream of moments', our raw experience is simply 'now' combined with feeling this, smelling that, hearing this, and seeing that (P1'). What happens after that is based on an attempt to rationalize this experience into something meaningful (e.g., time, space, conscious, logic, etc).

Warm regards, Harv

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