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I Guess The Greeks Considered Socrates To Be A 'Rakshasa'?

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on May 31, 2003 18:45:06 UTC

Hi Harv,

I really don't want to start up another wasted effort to educate you but, here I go again!

I might be misinterpreting him, but here is my take on it:

Yes, I think you are very definitely misinterpreting me! To begin with, I have never pretended to be a philosopher; but I do concern myself very seriously with the duty of an objective scientist.

You keep interpreting my model as a supposed valid model of reality. That is not really what it is. What it is, is a model of anything (any communicable thing anyway) which could lie on the source end of that pipeline. My model includes a logically constructed pipeline. The problem with the existence of the pipeline is that there is absolutely no way of examining its operation thus the only tool available to consider its performance is logic itself.

We have a number of important questions here; each of which must be examined very carefully!

1) Does the pipeline I refer to exist?

The answer to that question is very simple. Are your perceptions an exact representation of reality? Or do illusions really exist? The "pipeline" is nothing more than my name for whatever it is that produces "illusions"! It is also exactly what I am referring to every time I use the word subconscious. Ontology!! Does the pipeline exist or doesn't it? It would be very simple for you to prove the pipeline does not exist, just show me a perception which can be examined without depending on perceptions in any way and I will admit the pipeline does not exist (i.e., the concept of its existence is unnecessary)! Personally, I believe its existence is necessary! And I also believe there is no evidence for any direct contact between our conscious awareness and reality: i.e. we depend entirely on that "thing" for everything we know! If you do not believe the "thing" I call "the pipeline" exists, then please put forth your arguments in a form which can be discussed. Perhaps you can convert me!

2) Do scientists take the existence of such a pipeline into account in their analysis?

I think you answered that question yourself!

NO, NO, NO. This is metaphysics and even philosophers stay away from this issue.

As I said, people like Harv just don't like to think about the problem and will use whatever cavil they can dream up to cut off debate. For a very simple reason! It is a problem he does not know how to solve thus, in his mind, a waste of time to consider. And he doesn't think anyone else should consider it either!

3) Can the existence of that pipeline have real consequences?

If it has no consequences, then what are illusions? Anyway, if you don't think about it, you certainly can't answer the question. I just want people to think about it! Suppose some experimenter wanted to look for waves in liquid helium in a dewar and used a rod of quartz connected to a float on the helium. Now, if I came to him and asked, "have you taken into account resonance in the rod"? Would you say that was a stupid question?

As I said earlier, the current scientific position is: if it can not be tested it must be believed to be true. With regard to this universal unexamined belief, I comment: when belief in that perception leads to totally inconsistent results we assign the title "illusion" to the effect and go back to believing everything else. The fact that we are aware of some illusions implies the pipeline has real consequences and that at least some of them are detectable through the use of logic.

4) Is the pipeline an aspect of the universe subject to analysis?

Now this is a horse of a different color (to quote someone). What is it? Is it part of reality or is it part of our model of reality? Well, let's ask the question in another way: are illusions real or are they a consequence of how our subconscious functions. It seems to me that the standard interpretation of this situation is that illusions are not real, they are mental constructs created by our minds. If one is to accept that idea, then the only rational answer is that the pipeline is something to be explained.

Scientifically we have a very unusual thing here. It consists of something which absolutely cannot be examined and yet its existence has real analyzable consequences. It can be examined in terms of the internal consistency of its product (our perceptions themselves).

Finally, here is a very serious question; a question I cannot even get Paul to think about. (Sorry about that comment Paul, but I think it is true.)

5) Is it reasonable to assume that everyone's pipeline (their subconscious) works exactly the same as everyone else's?

That appears to be the assumption of everyone who thinks about the nature of awareness. It seems to me that the assumption is an astonishing leap of faith. Maybe somebody out there understands how the pipeline works and can prove that only one possibility can exist. If so, I would like to see that proof. Personally, I hold it is an extremely unreasonable assumption; particularly when faced with the fact that the phenomena is totally unavailable for examination. In addition, one might consider the large number of "nuts" in the world: i.e., the people whose mental image of the world is severely distorted from the norm! If that is not solid evidence for variation in the functioning of the pipeline, I do not know what is.

Yanniru keeps postulating that I am modeling the pipeline. I think that is one of the reasons that he just misses the whole thing. I am not doing that at all. What I am doing is constructing a model of what could come out of the spigot if I were to designed that pipeline to my specifications. My right to do this rests entirely on the statement that the pipeline itself is unexaminable. After all, is it not part of my mental image of reality; something of my own creation? Consider your pipeline; simply because your subconscious created that pipeline is no evidence at all that it was not a personal creation. The only complaint which can be made concerning the pipeline I have designed is that what comes out the spigot does not conform to a reasonable mental image of reality.

Yanniru keeps pointing out that he can dream up ways the pipeline could function which would violate my model. Sure, I have no complaints with that at all. If he thinks the pipeline does indeed operate in a certain specific way and, if he finds an experiment which confirms that proposition, then he has discovered something very important about reality. He will have added to our wealth of knowledge of reality. The important aspect of what I present is that I have made a concerted effort not to constrain what comes into that pipeline at all; my model says absolutely nothing about reality.

If Yanniru can make such a discovery about reality, he will have shown that some aspect of that pipeline is indeed examinable. Hell, we already knew that; we know it creates illusions! However, the illusions created by my designed pipeline are developed and specified in an examinable logical process. Without constraining reality in any way, it guarantees that equation 1.27 is valid. And exactly what illusions are created? Time is an illusion created to explain change (change in what we know!) If objects are collections of information (things, those numerically labeled things) which can be logically thought about in the absence of other things (or collections of things - other objects) then my pipeline will yield the illusions that these "objects" will move around in a three dimensional space (what we "know" about them will change) and interact with other "objects" in ways predicted by classical mechanics (which must be adjusted by special relativity and general relativity). And none of this is at all a consequence of reality.

All of this is generated by my analytically designed pipeline. A design which is intimately examinable by anyone. And yet, it puts no constraints at all on the reality being represented. Can you say the same about the pipeline your subconscious has created?

The central issue here is that our subconscious is the source of what comes out of that spigot. Unless you can come up with a mechanism which creates that result, you are left with only two possibilities: you don't understand how it comes about (and don't want to think about it) or you can believe your perceptions are an exact representation of reality (in spite of those troubling illusions).

All I do is propose that my designed pipeline be adopted as an analytical tool for scientific analysis. If we can agree on mathematics and logic (which seems to garner the most agreement between humans yet achieved) then we can agree upon the specific illusions generated by that pipeline as essential parts of an acceptable mental image of reality. A foundation upon which we can confidently rest those theories essential to the advancement of science. If that is the case, we can be at least somewhat confident about what our theories rest upon. If we are just going to turn a blind eye to the issue, then how can we have any confidence at all in the foundations created by our subconscious (what we think intuitively is true)?

From Harv's interpretation of what I am doing:
By this epistemological approach I assure myself that my model will not attribute to reality things which could have been generated using an ontological approach (e.g., symmetries actually exist in reality. By doing this, I can take advantage that the symmetries generated by my model without making any undue assumptions about reality per se".

I find this paragraph very confusing. Are you saying that it is a valid ontological approach to simply say you believe illusions are real and put that forth as a rational scientific philosophy? As I said, I am no philosopher but that very much strikes me as equivalent to the suggestion that contemplating my navel is a valid research project worthy of financial support.

... crosses into making ontological distinctions (e.g., reality can be defined).

If you are going to take the position that it is impossible to define reality then I will just fall back on my original statement: i.e., people like Harv just don't like to think about the problem and use whatever cavil they can dream up to cut off debate.

To paraphrase Lord Kelvin, if you can express what you are speaking about in numbers, "you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of Science, whatever the matter may be."

There are a significant number of new predictions from my work; however, unless you can understand it, the predictions are pretty meaningless as they are, for the most part, completely outside your comprehension. Try to explain how a television set arises from an understanding of electricity to an ancient Egyptian.

Have fun -- Dick

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