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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on September 2, 2002 18:05:54 UTC

Hi Harv,

I have moved this to the top as the number of trolls on this forum is completely out of hand. You will note that I have completely omitted any response to your comments. That is because 99% of what you say is based on misunderstanding my post. I have already become acutely aware of your penchant for jumping to conclusions as to what I am trying to say and see no reason to add wood to that fire.

Harv: Good!! We are making progress! Let me clarify this delicate issue. I am anti-realist in some aspects of my view. That is, I do not think that portions of ultimate reality is knowable (in the full sense of the word). Where I differ from the general anti-realist position is that I think approximate structures exist.

I am sorry you consider this a delicate issue as I consider it an absolute non-issue. You are already presenting me with answers: you do not think that portions of ultimate reality are knowable; you think "approximate structures" exist. Just as an aside, even these "answers" are poorly expressed. In the first one it is certainly unclear as to which statement you are trying to make; are you trying to say "no portion of ultimate reality is knowable or that there are portions of ultimate reality which can not be known. And in the second, why is the adjective approximate required? Isn't an approximate structure a structure? Please don't bother to respond to my aside as, with regard to what I am trying to communicate to you, the entire spread of possible answers are fine: your position on the questions is completely immaterial. My comment here is absolutely nothing more than an aside as the issue is how does one go about answering these kind of questions, not what the answers are!

Meanwhile, since you insist on discussing ontology first, I will give you a succinct statement as to my position on this issue. First, I do not know the answer; however, if something really exists than it really exists. Perhaps even more than one thing really exists! Perhaps things really exist who's existence has made no impact on the universe I am aware of! When I think about how I am going to attack the question, I want to make sure that I leave these possibilities explicitly open: i.e., one should not bother to look for answers until after it is firmly established that the attack has not inadvertently assumed an answer to any of these very important questions.

Central to a rational attack on any problem is that no answers to the problem can be specified as an opening position; that amounts to presuming an answer to the question you are trying to answer! When it comes to the problem of thinking about what exists or what does not exist, the specific possibilities discussed above should be explicitly held open in any attack.

Considering the fact that if nothing exists, we have nothing to discuss, please give me your specific arguments with the following three statements.

1. First it is possible that some specific thing (or perhaps several specific things) may exist.

2. Second, it is possible that some of those things which exist have no direct consequences in the physical universe available to my studies.

3. Third, some of those things described as having no direct consequences in the physical universe available to my studies may have consequences in the future.

What is your position on those three statements? And do you have any succinct beliefs which you feel only a bigot could reject?

Have fun -- Dick

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