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Posted by Harvey on May 27, 2003 16:50:54 UTC

Hi Tim,

***Harv, you find Dick's paper a confusing mesh, but not Frieden's. hmm, it's only my opinion but i believe Occum would vote for Dick's paper over Frieden's (that is if the math is correct & i don't know that, yet).***

I have no major objection to using mathematics in epistemology. That doesn't mean I agree with the results, but I think it is reasonable to argue that our sciences are somehow limited by some inherent weakness in our interation with the world. For example, it is relatively easy to demonstrate that our visual cortex can be fooled using certain perceptual tricks (e.g., the tall person in a large room with large furniture can make them appear like a short person). It's not hard to imagine that our human 'logic' could lead to some restricted results in the physics that we can conclude if we remain consistent with that 'logic'. This, in my view, is what Frieden could be close in demonstrating. That is, if he were able to predict the new physics equations that were successful at matching to our observations, then he would have constructed a very powerful argument that we approach the world of measurements with something akin to Fisher sampling, and therefore our 'logic' naturally leads to Frieden's results.

But, Dick doesn't go here. He is all over the board with respect to his model. He throws in comments about reality, subconscious, time, Einstein's misuses of incorrectly defining time in some ontological fashion, etc and quite frankly it is not the work of a professional. Frieden, as much as he is open to criticism from an epistemological perspective, he at least makes an effort to construct his Fisher sampling model in the context of modern physics and not wild-eyed claims in philosophy of someone who has little or no knowledge in philosophy.

***i think he starts out making an attack (or at raises doubts) on the foundational underpinning (epistemology) of science and then revises the ontology of science by changing those underpinnings. why would he do this? well he does so because he knows first that science history shows the variability of the epistemology of science such that a revision of the ontology of science is required.***

There's nothing wrong with Dick's motivations, it is his technique and method that I question. One of his initial mistakes is when he tries to define reality as a set of numbers. This only exemplifies that Dick has no inkling for the subject matter as far as I'm concerned.

***he also does not trust the unbridled vagueries that the subconscious affords us in an epistemological sense from the data of reality that is filtered through our senses.***

That's fine, but he never provides any reason as to why it is that he can justify his model says anything about anything. He merely assumes that because he has duplicated some of physics that he has come upon something significant for that reason. There is a great deal of debate in science as to why physics can be produced from first principles (e.g., symmetry arguments), and Dick acts as if such a debate doesn't exist (or even that he knows of such a debate). You can't accomplish your objectives of some how providing underlying support for scientific epistemology unless you can demonstrate that your path is any more certain than the path taken by science. As it turns out, Dick's path is far less certain since he can't even replicate the science we already have. At least Frieden has done that, and, I for one, am impressed. But, I'm not really that impressed if one cannot anticipate future discoveries. It's a big so what as far as I'm concerned if you can't go further. It might as well be the bible code as far as I am concerned. Until I can find another method of discovery that is capable of producing new discoveries, I continue to rely on scientific epistemologies as a matter of pragmatic choice. That's all the reason that I need.

***an example of why this might not be an over stated concern would be how intuitive galilean velocity transformations are to us. this is so even now that we know the speed of light is allways 'c' for any observer regardless of his velocity relative to the light source. but when we apply the postulates of relativity to the velocity question we find we must use the Lorentz transformation to obtain more accurate results. the point here is now to be more accurate we can't just use an intuitive mathematical approach but must use a consciously reasoned approach that takes into account the fact that light travels 'c' for any observer. neither the fact that the speed of light is allways 'c' for any observer or the Lorentz trasformation is intuitive. so it is that it seems reasonable to take our subconcious renderings with a grain of salt.***

Tim, we can take our 'subconcious' renderings with as much salt as we choose, but even doing this requires that you first assume a whole bunch of other things that all come to you prior to having any inkling of a subconscious. It makes no sense at all, to me, to doubt our sense impressions when you need a whole history of having sense impressions before you can even consider that to be an intelligible choice. J.L. Austin in his famous book 'Sense and Sensibilities' had made this argument. Hilary Putnam has been one of those who has since championed this argument. It makes no sense to question those things that make sense unless there is sufficient reason to question those things. And, by sufficient reason, I don't mean that we've seen our reasons fooled before, because that is not a sufficient reason. We must have clear evidence that our sense impressions are wrong and then we can and should doubt them. Does that mean our sense impressions are about the way the world really is? No. It only means that it is our only line of connection with the world, and cutting that line of connection because 'we might be fooled' is akin to a mountain climber cutting his rope tying him to the mountain because he might slip and fall. You just don't engage in this kind of folly, no matter how much more enlightened it makes one feel.

Warm regards, Harv

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