Well, I am obviously a rather strange person with a rather strange outlook. When I was probably about three years old, my father (who had just had a somewhat intense argument with a relative) told me that "anyone who believes more than ten percent of what he hears, or more than fifty percent of what he reads, or more than ninety percent of what he sees with his own eyes is gullible!" At the time, I had no idea what "percent" was nor what "gullible" meant; but I certainly knew I didn't want to be one (I think I had the idea it was a birth defect of some kind, like "hydrocephali") and wanted to be very careful about what I believed.
I am sure you are aware of the adult penchant for teasing children. I very soon noticed that they were always quite pleased whenever I caught them pulling my leg (so to speak). It was not long before I was totally convinced that adults lied to children all the time. I never took it as malicious; in fact, I thought they did it in order to train us not to be gullible (which may in fact be the real reason behind that common phenomena). Now every child wants to be adult so I soon started pretending I believed everything they said, going right along with the adults when they talked about santa claus, the easter bunny or any other "stories" they put forth.
To make a long story short, when I went off to school, I wasted an awful lot of my time trying to figure out what part of what the teacher said I was supposed to believe. It didn't make me a good student and by the third grade, I was pretty well convinced I was indeed gullible as I had found it very difficult to figure out what I was supposed to believe and I began trying to hide my inability to solve the problem. The other kids seemed not to be bothered at all; they had no problem rolling out the same kinds of stuff the adults produced apparently not bothered in the slightest by the inconsistencies. I didn't find out that they really believed it all until those late night bull sessions at the fraternity house in college. I was initially quite astonished by their beliefs (but that's another story).
Just a funny anecdote; one day, when I was in the third grade, the teacher said, "it is against the rules to use a word in its definition because you would have to know the meaning of the word to understand the definition". Now I didn't say anything but it immediately occurred to me that the same problem existed if one didn't know the meaning of one of the words in the first definition: i.e., the original word could not be in the second definition or we wouldn't be able to understand it. Clearly, from this perspective, the dictionary is a totally circular construct (there is nothing in there but words).
Not realizing (at the time) how complex a problem that is, I went to the dictionary in the class room to see how many definitions I had to look up before I found the original word in the collection of definitions. Since, from my child's perspective, I didn't see any reason to pick any particular word as my start point, I chose "a", the first entry in the dictionary. I was quite astonished when I read the definition. The dictionary said, "a: the first letter of the alphabet, a pronoun ...". I immediately closed the dictionary and went back to my desk convinced the teacher had just given us a gullibility check, and confident that she and I were on the same page. However, it did start me thinking about how one knows that they are not wrong about what they think the meaning of a word is. By the way, I think you would be astonished by how often "a" is used in the definition of "a".
Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that, counter to the studied opinion of Eric England,
First, let's get this one straightened out. The English language, taken all the way back to its roots, and with all of its inter-implications recognized, is a about as vague as a bullet in the head.
the verbal languages used by mankind are fraught with possible misinterpretation. Even mathematics, the most well defined language has its problems.
As I said, I was a very poor student and, in the forth grade, my teacher took me aside after class where she told me that I shouldn't worry about tests. She said that the tests were really tests of her ability to teach and that she needed to know where she had failed. Being the person I was, I thought she wanted to know what I did and did not understand so I thereafter viewed studying for a test as cheating. I did the homework, read the assignments and listened to what the teachers said but I never studied for a test again. I let my teachers train me to answer their tests and utterly stopped worrying about believing anything they said; however, it freed my mind to think about the problem of "how do you decide what to believe". In many respects, that was the only thing I thought about, I just went with my gut without thought on everything else.
I ended up in physics because, other than mathematics (which has very little to say about reality), physicists seem to do a better job of defending their assertions than any other fields. That is, they did until I got to graduate school. In graduate school, they got to be as bad as all the other fields; as I would say, "chock full of required beliefs". I went to graduate school in physics because I wanted to understand reality, not because I wanted to "do physics" and they seriously let me down. I distinctly got the impression that the more educated people got, the less they thought about what they believed.
I only put that down because I suspect you don't comprehend where I am coming from (a childish mind trying to understand what it should and shouldn't believe).
I'm instead reduced to trying to make sense of your definitions and deductions, before I can agree to them as being analytical. As I have said many times, I haven't yet got your definition of "an explanation" in the form of a analytic truth quite straight, enough to be fully 100% convinced that your fundamental equation follows directly from that definition.
You see, right here I do not understand your difficulty. I have no idea what you mean by "trying to make sense of [my] definitions". I could be wrong but I certainly get the impression that what you are actually trying to do is relate those definitions to your beliefs: i.e., understand them in terms of your world view (which you believe to be perfectly valid).
Thus I define "An explanation" to be a method of obtaining expectations from given known information.
One cannot get much simpler than that. "An explanation"
is "what is being defined"; I don't think that part can be made any clearer. The fundamental part of the definition is that it is "a method". That would be a procedure, a means of getting from a to b, a mathematical function: i.e., b (wherever you are trying to go) being a function of a (wherever you are starting from). The story which allows you to get to b from a. If you need more on that issue, let me know and we can discuss it. The final part is calling where we start "known information" and where we want to go "expectations". To me that seems quite clear. As I have said many times, give me what you consider an explanation which yields no expectations or something which yields expectations which you don't think could be considered an explanation (I think those conditions pretty well cover the bases). And, if you don't call "what your explanations are based on" information, give me another term which seems more appropriate to you.
The sets A
are mere symbols for totally undefined sets. Their definitions are part of the explanation to be found and must be obtained from the "known information", C
The real problem is when you respond to either critique, or queries for greater clarity, with attitudes that have no place in philosophical debate.
Yeah I know, but I get impatient. These forums often hit me as being on about the same intellectual level as a box of puppies with about the same attention span. I am sincerely sorry.
You say this every time I point out that your statements about "what the modern physics viewpoint is" are false.
Here we can agree to disagree. I think you merely misinterpret the central issues in those statements you refer to.
I don't know where you get the idea that "modern physics" is based entirely upon the assumption that they knew what "the rest of the universe was doing".
As with this example, you are clearly misinterpreting my intentions when I used the phrase "what the rest of the universe was doing". What I am referring to is their overwhelming belief in the validity of their world view. I think you are having problems with exactly the same issue in your so called "attempts to understand my definitions"; in my opinion, you just don't recognize it.
The methods of natural philosophy, separated from epistemology as well as from metaphysics, are just a manner of isolating sub-problems with "assumptions" and requisites to the purpose of making them tractable. Let's take an especially amusing example:
The Theorem of Energy Conservation.
As a theorem (not the more general principle!) it is a very simple thing. What is the main hypothesis on which it rests????? Wow! Wait for this one folks... the essential, sine qua non, hypothesis I'm talking about is... that the force must be assumed to be... <roll o'the drums>
Now, let's hear what you make out of that.
I have utterly no idea of what you are driving at here. I can make no sense of it at all.
Are you saying that, from nary but the very definition of mass, one may analytically deduce the proton's mass? Well, let's hear it! So long as it's something I can make sense of, that keeps to the point without any sniping.
If you can't make any sense of what I have already said, why should I think that you could make sense of any of the deeper aspects of solving my fundamental equation? Let us get simpler things out of the way first.
I don't see why you keep saying it, and [related] things, as if it were a novelty that you are trying to teach the academia which refuses to understand it.
Well, it seems to me that I am saying some rather simple things which no one seems to want to think about. If I am wrong show me; think about them a little.
Perhaps it still might help to work on some aspects, starting from antagonism and abrasivity, but certainly I think part of your trouble lies in misconceiving what "the common position of the scientific community" is.
As far as "antagonism and abrasivity" are concerned, I apologize but I am afraid I am an old man and somewhat tired of dealing with the sensitivity of others particularly when dealing with them offers nothing but perturbation. With regard to "the common position of the scientific community", I am afraid you are not objective on that issue being somewhat tainted by your overwhelming faith in the subject as taught. Of course, that's an opinion.
Have fun -- Dick