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Posted by Mike Levine on August 1, 2003 13:38:35 UTC

Hi Dick

I think I got your message, though it is always possible that I misunderstood. The message seemed to be that you were not interested in thinking about the things I brought up.

Actually, what I really think is that you are over-confident. It's not what you say but how you say it; you leave little room for discussion as seem to think your perspective is the only acceptable perspective. Now notice I do not know if you are right or wrong, it just doesn't look like you have the ability to get down to my level and contemplate my ignorance. I might be wrong about that, I'm still waiting for a better opportunity to talk.

Let's give this a try:

What I have done (unless of course there is an error in my work) is that I have proved physics (and thus, most of science) is tautological.

Can you contemplate the fact that the statement above does not impress me? I can imagine you thinking, "gosh, I'm telling this guy the most amazing thing and he's not impressed; how come?". Believe me, I know the feeling as I often go through it myself. So let me try and explain why I'm not impressed.

I have lived long enough to hear all kinds of claims. In a vein similar to yours, I have heard more or less the following:

"What I have done is that I have proved physics is the essence of reality"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is mathematical"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is eternal"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is universal"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is abstract"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is mental"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is consciousness"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is freedom meeting freedom within freedom"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is spiritual"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is optional"
"What I have done is that I have proved physics is a lie"

And so on and on. If you peruse the internet for a while, you become convinced that people have no clue what physics is, as they definitely have a problem agreeing on it. Now you come and tell me it's a "tautology", and all I can possibly do is add "tautology" to the pile that already includes strange stuff such as "freedom meeting freedom within freedom"

Can you, even for a second, understand how I feel?

Again, I'm not saying you're wrong. It's perfectly possible that physics is a "tautology", or "freedom meeting freedom within freedom" for that matter. It all depends on what the speaker means, and except for ordinary, worldly things such as "can I have a hot-dog and a Coke please", the intended meaning of sentences cannot be conveyed that easily, if at all.

I can tell you this much though: in my book, "physics" can't possibly be a "tautology", because not everything that is true about "tautology" is true about "physics". For instance, I know for a fact that physics, as expressed today, often leads to infinities. If physics were a mathematical tautology, that would just not be possible. As you know, physicists in general dislike infinities, because to them it means something in their theories is wrong, even though they can't always tell what.

In any case, the above is a bit beside the point. The point is, if you want to interest me in your ideas, and I'm certainly interested in learning new things, we have to find a common language first. Abstract, elusive, ambiguous philosophical terms such as "tautology" do not make for a good start in any conversation.

Maybe I am being simple minded, but the only common element I can find between Alan and I is the apparent fact that no one understands what either one of us are saying.

That happens to be exactly what I had in mind. To which I'd like to add that both of you seem to think there is a way to explain where you are coming from, based on the fact that you understand where you are coming from. And that is a non-sequitur, in reality people have to keep most of their wisdom to themselves for want of words that allow them to express themselves. A sad state of affairs, but I suppose it's inevitable given our primitive stage in the intellectual evolution of the universe.

I'd be interested in your opinions on these issues.

Regards, ML

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