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 Be the first pioneers to continue the Astronomy Discussions at our new Astronomy meeting place...The Space and Astronomy Agora Alan's Strategy: Just Write More Than Can Possibly Be Commented Forum List | Follow Ups | Post Message | Back to Thread TopicsPosted by Harvey on July 22, 2003 16:33:31 UTC

Alan,

As my title suggests, you're not succinct enough in your reply. In any case, I'll try to reply with enough succinctness from this getting out of hand:

Now; I once saw Christopher Langan on Television; he is reputed to have the highest IQ in U.S.A. He has a website for discussing his "CTMU" or "Cognitive Theoretical Model Of The Universe".

No, the person who constructed the test had to be smarter so that he could have made the test for Chris. I know someone who's IQ is also 220+. Believe me, this is nothing to be all that much concerned about.

It seems that to even talk of "time passing"; rather than "time stopped" requires a BREAK into two pieces ("before" and "after").

You're oversimplifying. Why not just say that there are two sides to the universe, the side behind or below you, and the side in front or above you? Reasoning based on this kind of logic is just about as valid. You really need to study philosophy of science. I'm not going to comment any further on this subject because obviously you don't know what you are talking about, but I could tell you that until I'm blue in the face and you still wouldn't change. Some people are just born to be ignorant and enjoy the bliss of their ignorance. I'm afraid that's you Alan.

Harv: "object X lies on plane P", if, and only if, "object X lies on plane P" actually expresses an object X lies on plane P as a mathematical abstract reality, and object X lies on plane P obtains in this mathematical abstract reality...
We have no way to specify what it means for an abstract object to 'lie' on a plane." Alan: We do? Chris Langan's "question and answer together". In "math world" we say "2 + 2 = 4" for each case? From a free association perspective; "object " "lie" and "plane" need only meet in a certain order?

I mentioned above who he is; and that I think reputation is not the only revelant factor in discussions; content is relevant too.

It's obvious to me that you have no interest in truth, just in whatever your imagination digs up. That's fine, but do yourself a favor and hang a sign around your neck saying "I am a kook", it will help identifying you a lot easier.

Harv: "This 'free association' is all based on human language and extends from human imagination. The point about defining truth in terms of abstract concepts is that they don't have any tangible meaning when talking about the actual words 'object', 'lie', 'plane', etc." Alan: But...? You deliberately excluded "tangible meaning" by seeking to have math statements correspond to facts in a math world ????

No, I didn't. I said that the problem with a Tarskian T schema approach to defining mathematical truth is that you cannot find any meaning in the terms such that you can satisfy the quantifiers of such a definition. That means that ultimately you cannot fully define mathematical truth. You have to settle for a metaphysical description which can still be believed, but the interpretation issues will be so wide that there's much room for error. This is fine from a philosophical perspective since many words of interest fall into this terrain (e.g., possibility, other worlds, logic, God, etc). It appears that the idea of fully defining mathematical truth is outside the limits of humans. All we can do is provide a scheme by which mathematical truth is understood as being.

Harv: "Without something tangible, we can only define our terms to a certain point, at which we have to work based on some kind of belief system." Alan: What is "tangible"? Doesn't every situation give scope for "faith" in Existence?

Basically, yes. However, once we leave the tangible world, we have no means to reliably say anything with any authority. This is world that divides philosophy and science. With science, we have more authority to say something of significance that requires us to submit to its influence. In the case of metaphysics, we might have reasons to accept it for our own level of satisfaction, but this isn't going to influence someone who doesn't have the same satisfaction needs (or who is unwilling to admit they have the same satisfaction needs). The mathematical truth definition, if left non-tangibly attached to the physical world, is never going to be resolved and will always be subject to debate. This keeps it from ever being a 'definition' in the sense that it is unlikely to be ever universally accepted.

Harv:"For example, if someone asked me what does it mean for an apple to lie on the desk, I merely have to take the apple and show them how the apple presses against the desk. Perhaps I can press the apple into the desk such that it starts to mash into the desk, all of which I am trying to convey a tangible meaning and thereby translate 'apple', 'lie', and 'desk' into a set of images and sounds that provide tangible meaning." Alan: Doesn't an abstract concept like "government" still rely on a bedrock of world-experiences? Sophisticated concepts may look detached from the concrete but on closer inspection of the personal world-experience of the individual with the abstract concept; you might find it to be built out of experiences regarded more traditionally as "tangible"?

Yes, but things like 'government' can be shown to be very tangible in terms of buildings, people, documents, e-mails, etc. The point is that we can define government using these tangible assets such that any argument on meaning boils down to understanding something tangible. In the case of metaphysics, we have to look at abstract features that are wide open for interpretation and belief. The 'definitions' provided are for satisfaction purposes, not for some universal acceptance. Good definitions at least provide satisfaction and universal acceptance. We lack the latter in the case of metaphysical issues. That doesn't mean the less equipped definition is not helpful or lacks purpose, it just means its not a full definition in the sense of having the universal appeal that good definitions should possess.

Harv: "In the case of abstract objects and rules, we cannot reduce these abstractions to anything other than abstractions". Alan: I do not think so. Given the building of life-experiences argument above........... (one might say "abstract" and "concrete" are "one".................? So I defer to quoting "If You have faith as a grain of mustard seed; you could say "move" to this mountain, and it would move". It's not that I am "evangelising" unreasonably; if I find words attributed to Jesus Christ appear most apt why not quote them? It would be censorship to deny His voice.....

Life experiences are great for having satisfaction for a metaphysical argument. I am not denying this very important aspect to what metaphysics provides. My point is simply that you cannot look for others to accept those definitions of metaphysical topics unless they have a life experiences that dictate that acceptance (e.g., raised Christian).

Harv: That's okay if we want to believe something that requires an abstraction since many very important concepts of the world fall into this category, but when defining an abstract concept like truth with the hope of giving us a sound definition (remember a definition is a reduction to something more tangible), then we must meet a higher criteria than just axiomizing terms". Alan: What is "definition"? It requires giving a context to something; a "SAME" background against which it can be seen from DIFFERENT perspectives without getting muddled with those other things it is being "met" by? Example: definition of "car" must allow you to "see" "car" against say variations in wheel design without getting muddled between "car" and "wheel". You require a "tangibility" to "definition"? Well one might include life-experience background; YOUR historical world-interaction basckground, to impart more tangibility?

We cannot go into your life experiences and confirm if this is a valid definition for the item that you are describing. For example, your definition of God will be different than a Muslim's definition. Who decides? Well, if God were tangibly accessible, then anyone could decide this issue by comparing the tangible God with the life experience definition that different people have of God. The point is that we cannot do this, so the definitions of God are not really good enough to establish a real definition per se. A real definition must have universal appeal, otherwise it lacks the conviction of everyone knowing that it is valid. The definition of a car can be agreed to because everyone has access to a car and can examine it to see if the definition meets our tangible experience with the car. We can still have definition problems with tangible things, but we are often arguing over specifics and not generalities. When it comes to metaphysical descriptions, no such examination can take place so the terms are based on life experiences (as you suggest) which vary greatly.

Harv: " These terms must take on something we can directly experience and experience in a manner which doesn't allow for inconsistencies" Alan: Very good point it seems...... But that requires "total recall": if you are fully conscious of your own world-interaction history and personal experiences; you are not going to get muddled? In full consciousness you are free from confusion.... as surely everthing is as defined as it needs to be within the limits of freedom of definition....

Well, here you seem to toss yourself overboard - an apparent intellectual suicide. I have no idea how to decide when someone is fully conscious or even when I am fully conscious. All I know is that a group of experts can look at tangible items and come up on a definition that fits the description and functionality of the item in question. In terms of metaphysical terms, I understand that each 'expert' will be referring to items that they cannot examine, and that they will construct vastly different definitions having no chance of comparing and contrasting those definitions against the intangible thing. The 'definition' is whatever is meaningful, but beyond that, don't expect universal agreement.

Harv: "This is a key impediment to defining mathematical truth since this is what we cannot accomplish". Alan: Well; I think that it is possible to expose the nature of math; it appears to have a shell or skeleton-like structure reminiscent of a pyramid of layers of "ones"; it appears to involve a "Zeno's arrow" like self-referential character; it appears to be about sticking labels to things and grouping them together; where it is used with algebra or concepots seems to be where physics governs it as "math INSIDE math". Example: "a physics concept" becomes a counting system of its own; each timne you find that concept you are counting by its math redistributing in your regular math......

Exactly, you think. Someone else thinks differently. And someone else thinks even more differently, and so on. You haven't defined anything, but just given the unique definition that satisfies your human experience. Can't deny you that right, but it's not a real definition. If we can construct a universal definition that has all of the controversial stuff removed such that a few differing definitions are possible, then you can have that put in a dictionary, but even that's not satisfactory for a definition if we really want a definition that is based on reality and not on hearsay or majority opinion.

Harv: "With that kind of ostensive definition, a picture is worth a thousand words and a better understanding is obtainable". Alan: It occurs to me that "E = mc squared" translates to "a picture is worth a thousand words" in general terms. "Alternatives = freedom of definition of comparison compared" where "E" becomes "alternatives"; "m" becomes "freedom of definition"; "c" becomes "speed of speed" or "comparison of comparison" as by simple Newtonian relativity we can say "speed" involves "things moving relative to each other while still differentiable (not muddled)...."

It's always fun to see you just arbitrarily throw yourself overboard and off the boat of reason. At times you seem like you can walk around on the boat of reason, and then for apparently no reason you just take a running dive.

"For example, if mathematical truth is some kind of Tarskian 'M2' instead of its truth conditions (e.g., if A then B), then we don't look to understand mathematical truths by their truth conditions". You still do: "conditions" in math-world are still conditions that must be met.

In the case of truth conditions, we aren't concerned about a metaphysical math world. We can compare truth conditions in a tangible manner since these are just standards that everyone agrees to maintain. That's why math is about truth conditions and not mathematical truth. Truth conditions are tangible and can get universal acceptance, thereby making math possible.

Well you can look from one layer in the pyramid of life-experience to another? You seem to be proposing looking from "math statement" to "rule about math statement" instead of looking to "how I built these ideas as a child" .....? But ultimately......the child is still there.......

The child is a topic for child psychologists and pediatricians, not mathematicians and philosophers of mathematics.

Harv: 'Meeting' or 'touching' are English terms that have reference to tangible events that take place in reality." Alan: This is a very curious comment; how do you define "meeting"? I and a planet around some star in the milky way galaxy....have I met it? Maybe life is about discovering what meeting IS? It seems that creation involves meeting things.....

It's not how I define meeting, it is how dictionaries and linguistic experts define it. The term has tangible meaning, and can be demonstrated in a lab in many different ways. Maybe life is discovering what meeting is, but just not for philosophers of mathematics. They are interested in understanding what math is, among other related questions.

This is very curious .....how about: if you even mention or think of two things: they have met (in your head!).

Well, now here you have broached a subject of what your main argument should have been. In any case, my answer to this is that we have no access to how our mind processes abstract and tangible relationships, and if we start focusing on things we do not know, then we can't make any progress at all. Although, it might someday be possible to define abstract meaning based on neurology (e.g., meaning of 'lie' is when this kind of brain activity is highlighted in MRI experiments...), but this is not the case right now. Our best attempts to define a word is based on examination of what the word reference is pointing to. If it is a tangible item, then we examine the tangible item. If it points to an abstract item, then a much wider range of interpretations are possible, which eliminates any chance of agreement.

Meeting is always true by virtue of its own occurence! So it needs no definition; it is already "definition" itself; as to think of combining two items is to already combine them as possibly combined---they have already been partially "defined" as capable of being thought about by you? I'm reluctant to use the word "defined" here.... we do not usually go into describing every thing a thing meets as a part of its definition....

Alan, a definition is a human tool. It helps us identify useful concepts such that we know what it is called when we encounter that concept either directly or indirectly. If I am told by experts that mathematical truth has been defined as mathematical proofs 'matching' the Platonic realm results, then I know that when something is proved that is true not just by being derived and proved by formal methods, but it is 'true' because it exists 'out there' and this is known because of the proof. Now, of course, this is a metaphysical definition that has no way of being tangibly examined and confirmed, therefore I know there are other interpretations for mathematical truth than being a proof matching some Platonic realm. So, definitions are only what experts agree is the case about something. If there is no consensus, there is no definition offered that is accepted as the preferred definition. Where you just jumped off the ship is when you got all excited about saying something significant about 'meeting' being true by its own occurence and being definition itself. The crazy stuff here is that experts (e.g., linguistic experts) are the people who formulate definitions and publish them for a wider audience to utilize. Whether the world actually has definitions that 'exist' in the sense that there is a linked file that also 'exists' having definitions linked to a word's meaning is a metaphysical dream.

Harv: "Doesn't that mean that the former 'meeting' is just an empty word having no real meaning? Couldn't you just say two objects 'snubblebun' together and wouldn't that mean basically the same thing. The word 'snubblebun' has no physical reference, and the term is empty in terms of physical meaning. It seems that's about all you can say about two objects meeting - they are 'snubblebunning' together."? Alan: Whatever language you use: if you think of two things; they are together thought of by you.

I'm talking about the meaning of words such as what a consensus of experts would formulate. In order to publish this kind of consensus, the meaning would have to be shown on paper and the tangible references made clear. Just meaning residing in one person's head is not good enough.