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# What can we know of reality?

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DoctorDick:

I am afraid you are looking at the numerical indices as yielding order information which they certainly are not.
Then how do you intend to predict? If T(a) > T(now), it's representative of the future or that implies the prediction does it not? I'm afraid that the mistake I'm making, have made and probably will continue to make... is to try and fit stuff into my world view.

You implied that a was finite. It consists of all past presents. And as each moment passes, we add a new plane to the matrix, or am I missing something else here?

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DoctorDick: Then how do you intend to predict? If T(a) > T(now), it's representative of the future or that implies the prediction does it not? I'm afraid that the mistake I'm making, have made and probably will continue to make... is to try and fit stuff into my world view.
Maybe so, maybe not. We will have to get into that later as it is difficult for me to unravel what is going on in your head. I will try to make the issue of predicting a little clearer down the road, at the moment I am headed out of town and really don't have the time to detail that.
You implied that a was finite. It consists of all past presents. And as each moment passes, we add a new plane to the matrix, or am I missing something else here?
That is true; however, it is the explanation which does the predicting. At the moment, we are not discussing any specific explanation and the indices are no more than arbitrary labels. They will only cease to be arbitrary when referenced as specific: i.e., as in an explanation. The only order specified here is the increase in the information available to us (t is an index on our change in knowledge); it is not necessary that the information we learn be seen as being attached to the time we learn it. The explanation might very well interpret a certain set of information tagged with a given t index should be assigned to a totally different time. In fact, one of the important issues here is that our solution to the problem should be based on what we know, not necessarily on the order that we came to know it. In the final analysis, the explanation includes assigning specific values to all the indices mentioned in the argument so far.

I hope that clarifies the issue – Dick

PS I will be out of town for the next month and won't always have direct access to the web so I might not be too prompt with my responses.

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DoctorDick:

We will have to get into that later as it is difficult for me to unravel what is going on in your head.
lol. actually, lmao. I have that problem all the time.

Perhaps I can help. Why don't we just say that we'll deal with causality later.

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• 2 weeks later...

To DoctorDick et al,

What can we know of reality ? Not a great deal as it happens.

We can only make constructs and attempt proofs of the constructs we believe to be true through Mathematics (a test of rationalism) and also through experiment (a test of empiricism).

We cant even know if reality is real but the consideration of the question is ultimately fruitless in that nothing would ever get done if your world view is 'reality isn't real nothing really matters'.

You are kind of forced by a serious of reward and punishments to accept reality is real.

For example

If you do work that ends up in you getting food and drink. You survive.(reward)

If you dont do work and recieve no food and drink. You die. Rather painfully.

(punishment)

(the term 'work' is being used in a way even if you are not currently employed such as foraging for food and water or going to the shops and buying some)

But whether death and life have any ultimate meaning is a question that cannot be answered in any logical or meanigful way. That is to say we cannot know they have meaning or not.

All we can do is create constructs that through consensus we 'believe' to be 'true'.

Such as the sky is blue or 1+1 = 2.

According to Plato knowledge is a subset of of 'belief' and 'truth' and I agree with this statement.

So statements like 1+1=2 or the sky is blue.

Form knowledge as they are by consensus of opinion both 'believed' and 'true'.

Statements like 'You go to heaven when you die' are only part of the set of 'beliefs' and cannot form the set of 'truths' as it is not possible to prove both mathematically and through experiment by consensus of opinion that this statement is 'true' and therefore cannot be knowledge.

This is not to say that statements like 'You go to heaven when you die' are not true but simply you cannot 'know' they are 'true'.

This my opinion on the subject sorry I am coming at it a bit late in the day.

But it's very interesting, so I thought I would add my thoughts to it.

Cheers

:)

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I'll continue on with the rest later.
Am I to presume that you have already expressed your problems with my post twelve to this thread? That would be that you understand and agree with the rationality of the remainder of that post.
The absolute first step in that analysis is to recognize that, under my definition of an explanation, there exists only one explanation which requires no epistemological construct at all. That is what I call the ”what is”, is “what is” explanation. That explanation amounts to nothing more than a table of ontological elements available at a specific time. It is a table of the x indices associated with each t index which constitute the past (what is known). A flaw free ”what is”, is “what is” explanation is one which is consistent with the known past. (A valid ”what is”, is “what is” explanation would be one which was a table of valid ontological elements available at each specific t.)

One problem with the ”what is”, is “what is” explanation is that it gives us not a hint as to what to expect; but that does not mean that it yields no expectations. The expectations yielded by the ”what is”, is “what is” explanation are: exactly what was seen so long as the index t refers to the past and exactly equal probability for all possibilities when the index t refers to the future.

If one's expectations are to be seen as given by a mathematical function of those points defined by the indices in that (x,t) plane then the abrupt change in the nature of that function at the boundary of the past (i.e., the function changes abruptly in what has been defined as the present) is a very interesting phenomena. It is essentially equivalent to the phenomena often referred to as “the collapse of the wave function: our expectations go from zero everywhere (from a mathematical perspective, the (x,t) space is continuous so equal probability for every point is exactly zero) to one for every entry in our ”what is”, is “what is” table of indices and zero for every point not in that table.

Note that the above analysis is valid for all pasts within the referenced data. Prior to any specific present becoming part of “the past” the expectations are exactly as describe in the previous paragraph (there is no prediction) and immediately after that present becomes part of the past the entries in the table become fixed (and the actual indices in no way contradict the expectations as they could have been anything).

What makes that explanation “flaw free” is that it yields exactly the ontological elements upon which it is built (including the temporal relations). What makes it worthless is that it makes utterly no usable prediction. What makes it interesting is that it defines exactly what kind of conditions any “flaw free” explanation must fulfill: it must match the ”what is”, is “what is” table exactly. The only difference between a valuable explanation and our ”what is”, is “what is” explanation is that the “valuable” explanation yields non uniform expectations outside that defined ”what is”, is “what is” table: i.e., it establishes some kind expectations above and beyond “anything goes” and gives non zero expectations outside the established past (it is capable of making predictions).

If you have arguments with what I have said, I am ready and willing to defend them further. If you feel my deductions so far are rational and acceptable, I will precede further.

I actually find it somewhat difficult to believe that you see the above as a totally uncontentious presentation. Qfwfq, if you are still reading this, do you find the above clear and reasonable?
But it's very interesting, so I thought I would add my thoughts to it.
Snoopy, I am very happy to see you find the discussion interesting; however, if you carefully review your post, I think you will find it to be a list of things you think are true. The central theme of this presentation is that thinking something is true is of no consequence (outside of mathematics which is being used as a language here under the presumption that the definitions and operations defined under mathematics are the most agreed upon collection of concepts available to us). The construct I am designing is to be applicable to any set of beliefs; sort of like the Dewy Decimal System for enumerating library volumes is designed to be applicable to any publication. If that goal is not clear to you, let me know and I will try to clarify my meanings.

Why don't we just say that we'll deal with causality later.
Speaking of causality, it is also possible to conceive of an explanation which would require some established future to be drawing us towards a fixed outcome. Not that I am proposing such a thing but rather that, unless we can prove such a thing is not possible, our representation must be capable of accommodating such an explanation. The central point being that “causality” is a component of one’s epistemological constructs and not a phenomena required of an underlying valid ontological reference.

Have fun -- Dick

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Qfwfq, if you are still reading this, do you find the above clear and reasonable?
I was able to follow it, yeah.
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Snoopy, I am very happy to see you find the discussion interesting; however, if you carefully review your post, I think you will find it to be a list of things you think are true. The central theme of this presentation is that thinking something is true is of no consequence (outside of mathematics which is being used as a language here under the presumption that the definitions and operations defined under mathematics are the most agreed upon collection of concepts available to us). The construct I am designing is to be applicable to any set of beliefs; sort of like the Dewy Decimal System for enumerating library volumes is designed to be applicable to any publication. If that goal is not clear to you, let me know and I will try to clarify my meanings.

Yes I understand what you are trying to do. Just doubt the validity of why you are trying to do it.

Mathematics cannot explain the universe alone.

E= hV

means nothing unless you know what h and V represent and you have to use language to do that.

Cheers

;)

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I was able to follow it, yeah.
Well, that shows feint interest if I have ever seen it. Put that together with the addition to your signiture:

:hyper::hihi: ... :sleeps:

I can only presume that your interest is somewhat lacking. As Idsoftwaresteve has not responded for almost a month, I am beginning to get the idea that I have exceeded everyone's attention span again.

If you have arguments with what I have said, I am ready and willing to defend them further. If you feel my deductions so far are rational and acceptable, I will proceed further.
If Idsoftwaresteve responds or someone else expresses an interest, I will continue. If not, I will let the discourse die.
Yes I understand what you are trying to do.
Now why is it that I tend to doubt that?
Just doubt the validity of why you are trying to do it.
This line makes no sense to me at all. You "doubt the validity of why” I am trying to do something? I presume English is not your first language.
Mathematics cannot explain the universe alone.
Now that, of course, is a very common belief; but I am afraid I have never seen any proof of such a statement! Do you happen to have a proof? If you do, I would love to see it.
... means nothing unless you know what h and V represent and you have to use language to do that.
In that case, it is incumbent upon you to explain to me exactly how you come to know the meanings of those words you intend to use to “explain” what “h and V” represent.

In actual fact, I am of the opinion that the true power of language is that it makes it very easy to hide the fact that you do not know the truth of your beliefs. Instead, it makes it quite easy to hide the problem of understanding that process by burying it in a problem so difficult that everyone backs off from trying to solve it and, instead, takes the trivial out of presuming their understanding is a mere self evident truth not worth examining. Mathematics, on the other hand, puts the hard problem directly in front of you. My point is that millions upon millions of children solve that “hard problem” every year.

I am not claiming that the solution is correct (as does almost everyone else) but I am claiming it is a solvable problem and that I have discovered a solution. My difficulty is quite simple: no one seems at all interested in looking at my solution. The reaction is universal and simple: everyone takes it as given that “there can exist no solution to that problem”. So be it!

It's been fun -- Dick

PS – I saw a “T” shirt today with an excellent quote on it.

Be what you are; say what you think and feel

Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind!

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I can only presume that your interest is somewhat lacking. As Idsoftwaresteve has not responded for almost a month, I am beginning to get the idea that I have exceeded everyone's attention span again.

Mustn't one first have everyone's attention in order to exceed its span?

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I was hoping to gradually get a better understanding of what you mean by the things you talk about, you were doing a better job of explaining it all, in this thread. Don't be touchy about my sig. Being my sig, it doesn't concern just that post, or even just this thread, you should well know this, and I added it some time after that post too. G'night. :shade:

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[quote name=Doctordick;181278

This line makes no sense to me at all. You "doubt the validity of why” I am trying to do something? I presume English is not your first language.

Now that' date=' of course, is a very common belief; but I am afraid I have never seen any proof of such a statement! Do you happen to have a proof? If you do, I would love to see it.

In that case, it is incumbent upon you to explain to me exactly how you come to know the meanings of those words you intend to use to “explain” what “h and V” represent.

[/quote]

Wow you are really grumpy.

It is not incumbent on me to prove that math alone cannot explain the universe.

The general view is that math along with experiment and some natural philosophy can explain the universe.

This is my view as well, so I don't have to prove anything.

Your statements that you can 'prove' that you can do everything with mathematics 'alone' without experiment and natural philosophy is unusual and I think you need to 'prove what you are saying'.

Can you prove what you are saying ?

I have seen no evidence that you can but remain generally interested to see if you can or will you just revert to illogical insults to people who take an interest in what you are saying.

Cheers

:cheer:

(La connaissance est sans valour à moins que vous la mettiez en pratique.)

QEdit: don't start an unnecessary pissing contest.

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Wow you are really grumpy.
He knows that he is. If you're annoyed by his grumpiness, just avoid the thread. If you want to see how he can prove what he claims, exercise patience. Without comparing knowledgeabilty or the likes.
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• 4 weeks later...

The question "what can we know of reality" is answered thus:

1. To have knowledge is to say you have a mental grasp of the "fact(s)" of reality.

2. The facts of reality are that which exist.

3. There is nothing antecedent to existence (or the facts of reality)--existence is a self-sufficient primary.

Therefore the answer to the OP question reduces to an axiom not open to discussion---reality exists and you (we, I) know it.

This is what I know of reality--but I would be interesting in hearing what the OP author [Doctordick] knows of reality. For example, does he know he exists ?

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This is what I know of reality--but I would be interesting in hearing what the OP author [Doctordick] knows of reality. For example, does he know he exists ?
Rade, you just don't read what I write do you. The question is not “What DO we know of reality?” (or should I say what you think you know of reality) but rather “What CAN we know of reality?”, a completely different issue.

I am truly sorry that you have such trouble understanding what I say. If I knew how to improve matters, I would.

Therefore the answer to the OP question reduces to an axiom not open to discussion---reality exists and you (we, I) know it.
And exactly how do you know that your world view isn't just an incompetent illusion?

Have fun -- Dick

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Doctordick, yes, I agree there is a big difference between "can" we know and "do" we know "reality". And the solution is very simple. If you would read again what I presented you will see that I deal only with what humans in general "can" know--but I then ask what you in specific "do" know. The only thing you (or me, or they) "can" know about reality is that "reality exists". The only thing you "do" know about reality is that you are real--you exist (recall the argument of Descarte--I am). So we find an axiomatic dialectic entanglement between the "can" and "do" process of knowing reality (they evolve hand in hand). I think your OP question is thus answered.

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• 1 month later...

In early July of this year, due to the apparent lack of interest in this thread together with the fact that I had run into into a bright interested party on the “physicsforums.com” (a Mr. Anssi Hyytiäinen), I essentially let the thread slide out of my interest. At the time, Qfwfq had expressed some interest so I sent him a private note indicating where this conversation was continuing. I received no response from him so I have no knowledge of either his current interest nor whether he did indeed continue to follow the discussion; however, I do notice that the original thread is still quite near the top of the “Philosophy of Science” forum which seems to indicate not much interest in the subject of philosophy of science to begin with though quite a few seem to have viewed my thread.

I sent Tormod and Qfwfq a private message concerning the fact that Anssi and I can no longer continue our conversation there as I have been “banned for ever” from posting on physicsformus.com for the crime of “posting crackpottery” (a charge I would certainly deny). I wanted them to know that I would not post here if they were seriously bothered by the possibility that my thoughts were worthy of censorship. I asked if it would be acceptable to them for Anssi and I to continue our conversation here as most forums seem to lack a decent LaTex implementation. It has been five days since I asked and I have received no response. That being the case, I will simply post an answer to Anssi as if permission were given. What I am presenting is no more than a simple (though quite long and complex) logical analysis of the problem facing any intelligent entity placed unprepared into an undefined universe.

If anyone wishes to pick up on the conversation, I suggest they glance at the following posts I made to Anssi essentially covering the material the two of us have discussed which has not been discussed here. These posts are to the physicsforums thread, “Is time just an illusion?”

Post #462 - The relationship between shift symmetry and differentials with respect with that shift.

Post #464 - Converting the differential with respect to the shift to a sum of partials with respect to the arguments.

Post #466 - An explanation of some of the details in post #464.

Post #468 - Using the power of adding “invalid ontological elements to establish a rule.

Post #471 - Using the accumulated deduced relationships to write down a coherent constraining equation.

Post #477 - A fairly succinct summary of the presentation up to this point with emphasis on “invalid ontological elements”.

Post #478 - A continuation of post #477

Post #510 - Clarification of several subtle points somewhat overlooked by Anssi.

Post #515 - A little more clarification for Anssi.

Post #520 - An attempt to get Anssi back to the central thrust of the presentation (some important issues).

Post #528 - Anssi's final post, after which the thread was locked.

I opened another thread in order to answer Anssi and made a reference to “having been caught by the thought police”. That post was deleted and I was permanently banned from posting. The following is essentially the answer to Anssi's questions

To summarize where I'm at;

I understand the addition of invalid ontological elements, in order to:

- make the number of elements the same in each "present".

- make sure there are no identical present (to make "t" retrievable).

- make sure there are no identical presents even if any given single ontological element was removed from any given present (to make sure a missing element could be retrieved from the table if we were given all but one element)

(Btw, since each tau was associated with a specific X, they together constituted a "single element", i.e. a "missing element" always refers to a "x & tau"-pair... Right? Thought I'd say it out loud since this can cause confusion)

Absolutely correct.
Then, a function "f" was defined, as the function which outputs the missing element when input with any given "present" missing any given element. Seen as a vector function:

{An equation which the new LaTex software apparently won't generate if it is inside a quote}

(I don't know what "X hat" and "tau hat" mean, and so I couldn't figure out what the middle part of that equation says)

The equation referenced above is:

$\vec{(x,\tau)}_n = x_n\hat{x}+\tau_n\hat{\tau} = \vec{f}((x,\tau)_1,(x,\tau)_2, \cdots , (x,\tau)_{n-1})$

That's a common notation used in analytical geometry; “x hat” denotes a unit vector in the x direction and “tau hat” likewise denotes a unit vector in the tau direction. Thus [imath] x_i\hat{x} +\tau_i\hat{\tau} [/imath] is a vector pointing from the origin to the point [imath](x, \tau)_i[/imath].

Then, a function F was defined, as the difference between the missing index and the result of the function "f". I.e;

{Again, LaTex failure inside the quote}

(Perhaps I asked this before but forgot; what does equiv mean there exactly?)

The missing equation:

$F((x,\tau)_1,(x,\tau)_2, \cdots , (x,\tau)_n) = \vec{(x,\tau)}_n - \vec{f}((x,\tau)_1,(x,\tau)_2, \cdots , (x,\tau)_{n-1}) \equiv 0$

It depends on the context but it is either “equivalent” or “identical to”.

Would it be correct to say that F is a function which "tests" every element of a "present" with some function f? Or is it more proper to just say it is "any function which returns 0 when its input with a full present"?
Neither really. All I am saying here is that, if a mechanism exists to recover any specific (x,tau) point in the ”what is”, is “what is” table (which includes all invalid ontological elements necessary to the explanation expressed by the table), then that mechanism itself can be used to define a function who's roots are exactly the entries in the table. It is essentially a proof that there exists a "rule" function F who's roots define the table.
And here I start to struggle little bit more. I'm note sure how does the above turn into:

{Same problem!}

I understood this is just one of many functions that satisfies the requirements for F, and since we have chosen it as F, it will have an effect on what labels we put on the ontological elements. To quote you:

"It is thus a fact that the equation will constrain all labels to be different and any specific collection of labels can be reproduced by the simple act of adding “invalid ontological elements” until all the wrong answers are eliminated."

What I don't understand is the latter part of that sentence. Perhaps I have misunderstood something, but maybe you could just explain in more detail, how is it that it reproduces a specific collection?

The missing equation in the quote is:

$\sum_{i \neq j} \delta(x_i - x_j)\delta(\tau_i - \tau_j) = 0$

Yes, I think you have misunderstood. The real issue here is that the sum over Dirac delta functions (set equal to zero) is completely equivalent to the English statement “no two points appear twice” as, if any two points in a (x,tau) plane do appear twice, the contribution from the term where i and j represent those two terms is positive infinity; in which case, the sum certainly isn't zero.

You have to keep your eye on the details here; F=0 is the rule which controls what entries in the ”what is”, is “what is” table are allowed. What we must assume exists (those invalid ontological elements) depends on what rule we choose. Likewise, what rule we choose (what F function our explanation requires) depends upon what we assume exists; these are interdependent factors which are part of our explanation. They are not set by those valid ontological elements embedded within that table. Remember, we are free to create any “invalid” ontological elements we wish; so long as both valid and invalid ontological elements obey the same “rule” embodied in our explanation).

I have simply plucked the rule [imath]\sum_{i \neq j} \delta(x_i - x_j)\delta(\tau_i - \tau_j) = 0[/imath] out of thin air. (Oh, I have some good reasons which arose in my head over forty years ago, but that's actually immaterial here.) Having plucked the rule out of air, the only real question which remains is, what invalid ontological elements does the rule require? The only way to answer that question is to examine the “valid” ontological elements (which you should remember was defined to be “reality”) and come up with the proper “invalid” ontological elements which make that rule (that no two valid ontological elements can appear twice) yield exactly the results of our experiments (what appears to us to be reality).

The only thing my proof does is point out that there always exists a set of “invalid” ontological elements which will indeed constrain the “valid” ontological elements to exactly what ever they happen to be. Look at an (x, tau) plane. Paint all the points referring to actual “valid” ontological elements white. Then paint the rest of the plane black. If the invalid ontological elements are taken to be the black points, the rule, no two ontological elements appear twice, clearly constrains the valid ontological elements to exactly what they are (none of the black points can be references to valid ontological elements).

Now, one thing you must remember here. The invalid ontological elements don't have to be the entire plane minus the valid ontological elements. Those valid ontological elements constitute what we actually know of reality (what our explanation is to explain) and that knowledge might include some uncertainty. In that case, some of the black points should be omitted. This is why I originally stated the process in the form “... by the simple act of adding “invalid ontological elements” until all the wrong answers are eliminated”. No black point can be a “valid” ontological element as, if it were, the rule, no two valid ontological elements appear twice, would remove what could be a valid ontological element from the set allowed by the rule.

Then we get to the probability function. Thank you for the helpful information about "complex conjugate". I understand the need of squaring psi, but I don't know what the psi itself was to accomplish. I went back to the old posts, but all I can find is the idea of seeing any result of any function as a vector. (I do remember the stuff about squaring and re-normalizing)

Consequently, I cannot figure out what you mean by;

With the “invalid ontological elements” I introduced to make that sum over Dirac's delta function become the F function I needed, I know that, whenever I have the correct set of numerical references to my ontological elements,

{the sum over Dirac delta functions set equal to zero}

If I don't, then that sum is infinite! Against this I also know that, if I have an incorrect set.

{psi set to zero}

as the probability of seeing that particular set of references must be zero and that probability is to be given by the sum of the positive definite squares of the components of psi (that means that every one of those components must be zero and psi must totally vanish). This means that no matter what arguments are inserted as numerical references to that collection of ontological elements, the product of those two above must be zero (if one isn't zero, the other is). It follows that

{The sum over the Dirac delta functions times psi = 0}

without exception.

Perhaps you could explain that to me in more detail?

$\sum_{i \neq j} \delta(x_i - x_j) \delta(\tau_i - \tau_j) \vec{\psi}(x_1,\tau_1,x_2,\tau_2, \cdots , x_n, \tau_n, t) =0$

is an equation which must be obeyed by psi under the rule that no two ontological element references can appear twice: i.e., psi must be zero if the sum over Dirac delta functions is not zero. I don't think it can be put any clearer than that.

Hope I have clarified things a bit -- Dick

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Before I get to reply to the previous message, I think I should spend some time explaining the context of the discussion and comment the lock-up of the PF thread. I don't want people to mis-interpret the context of the discussion, as evidently (and frequently) happened in PF.

Simply put, the discussion is about:

Logical constraints that any model/theory/worldview must conform to if they are internally coherent

(i.e. when they do not contain logical self-contradictions)

These logical constraints are NOT leading us towards any specific ontology. If anything, they indicate that many sorts of ontologies can always be built without sacrificing the internal coherence of our worldviews (i.e. they would be "semantically different" but "logically the same")

We are NOT discussing any specific theory. We are discussing the "general structure of theories".

This is simply a logical structure that is either unequivocally valid or invalid (it either contains a self-contradiction or it doesn't). And its validity or invalidity says absolutely nothing about what exists in reality. It just says something about the relationships between chosen ontological elements and their behaviour in any self-coherent model.

Also, a large issue with the discussion is about how to represent these constraints with as little ambiguity as possible. There would be many ways to express the issue, and the chosen expression form is mathematics (this means you need to know or study some mathematical concepts).

Note that the reason that was given for the lock-up of the PF thread was that "personal theories were being discussed". It is clear that a mis-interpretation occurred since the discussion was not about a theory at all.

To add insult to injury, the discussion is essentially and critically related to map/territory relationship (and General Semantics), and it was basically deemed as "crackpottery" at the philosophy section of PF. I can only assume that there are moderators who are not familiar with any philosophy, and they simply mis-interpreted the thread as a discussion about specific ontology.

---

Let me further clarify this issue from couple of different perspectives.

Ontological perspective

It is often tacitly assumed that physics is in attempt to find the true ontology of reality, in that if we came across another advanced civilization, they would share our view of how atoms are and what are their parts and how they behave. This is so assumed because it is not readily recognized that the atomic models is just one arbitrary way to understand the behaviours that we observe, and it is to an extent and arbitrary accident that we use the concepts that we do to understand the world.

The models that some other advanced civilization uses could be orthogonally different in many ways from ours. They might not have any conception of such a thing as an "atom", for example. But still their model could yield the same observable predictions as ours.

Note that good models become the framework where further models build on. That is to say, we use the pre-existing models in our further questioning of reality. For example, being able to probe the structure of the proton depended on having a good model for "electron" first. When you "bombard" a "proton" with "electrons", the experiments can be interpreted in meaningful ways only by having some prior models and conceptions of reality.

Martin Heidegger has said:

"Modern physics is not experimental physics because it uses experimental devices on its questioning of nature. Rather the reverse is true. Because physics, already a pure theory, requests nature to manifest itself in terms of predictable forces, it sets up the experiments precisely for the sole purpose of asking how (and whether) nature follows the scheme prescribed by science"

Martin Krieger has noted in "Doing Physics" that "atoms are like little factories with walls". I.e. we know what goes in, and we observe what goes out. We have some conception of WHAT was it that went in, and WHAT was it that came out, and we build a model of what happened inside. How this is done is that we try to change as few "degrees of freedom" as possible, and see how it affects the output. How we conceive "degrees of freedom", is completely up to current models.

Steven Weinberg has commented "you may use any degrees of freedom you like to describe a physical system, but if you use the wrong ones, you'll be sorry". (because the situation becomes horribly complicated to unravel)

Andrew Pickering has argued in his book "Constructing Quarks", that "the reality of quarks was the upshot of particle physicist' practice, and not the reverse" I.e. that quarks only exist in the sense that we have built such models where observable phenomena is explained by them. Protons behave as if they contain three quarks, but different models can explain the same behaviour.

William Poundstone has said:

"Scientists must be wary of nonprojectable terms. Quarks are hypothetical entities said to reside deep inside protons, neutrons and other subatomic particles. Quarks are counterfactual: Not only has an isolated quark never been observed, but (under most theories) an isolated quark is impossible. Quarks are what a proton WOULD split into, IF it could be split, which it CAN'T... ...some wonder if [the supposed properties of quarks] may be artificial complications of simple reality we do not yet understand. Possibly someday someone will hit on how things really are, and we will realize that our current physics is a strained way of describing this reality... the answer is not in the sky, but in our heads"

It should be noted that success breeds success. Once a theory turns out to be good for explaining the known or most of the known phenomena, it tends to push out rival theories. This is what happened with geocentric model. This is what happened with Newton's model of light particles, which pushed out wave-models. Later a wave theory pushed out the particle theory. Now again a particle theory has pushed out the wave theory. Are photons real now, on the virtue that our current best model works with such concepts? Or are they just part of a convenient description of reality that we are holding in our head?

We are in grave danger of forgetting that models are *models*, not reality. I am alarmed that even the philosophy section of physics forums appears to be blind to this issue. Even though this is exactly what Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), Alfred Korzybski ("the map is not the territory") and certainly Immanuel Kant (noumena) have commented about and are famous for. And there is pretty good brief account of all this on John Gribbin's "Schrödinger's Kittens", from page 188 onwards.

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Epistemological perspective

Think about the problem of trying to understand the definition of a Danish word, by reading it from a dictionary written in Danish. Just like in physics "the experiments can be interpreted in meaningful ways only by having some prior models and conceptions of reality", here the definition can be interpreted in meaningful ways only by having some prior conceptions of the Danish words used to give the definition.

If you don't know a word of Danish to begin with, you could make some guessess and assumptions and slowly try to come and understand danish. But you could not at any point have a 100% confidence level to your assumptions, you would at most only know that they yield sensical interpretation of the whole dictionary. In the extreme case, at your first conversation with a real Dane, you might realize all your assumptions were incorrect, they just happened to yield a meaningful interpretation (self-coherent but wrong) of that one book.

That is not too different from learning the language as a kid (except that the brain has got much more data to base the assumptions on). In principle, you can never have a 100% confidence level on your understanding of your own native language. Let me put it this way; When the brain is building a worldview, it needs to make a lot of assumptions about the meaning of the words, and judge the correctedness of these assumptions based on the interpretations they yield later on. I'm sure we have all had the experience of hearing something completely non-sensical, and then realizing it was because our assumption about the meaning of some word was completely topsy-turvy.

Furthermore, how is it that the human cortex interprets some sensory data as "words" or "sounds" at all? To get closer to the bottom of this, think about how is it that any patterns that are flowing into the cortex can become interpreted as the visions, sounds, scents, touch, orientation. Or how the patterns from artificial sensory systems become interpreted as meaningful perceptions. If the meanings of the patterns are initially completely unknown, any assumptions that are made about the meaning of such and such patterns are judged by how they make the interpretation of the consequent patterns meaningful. And the worldview (which is what "holds the meanings of the patterns") that gets built just needs to be logically internally coherent (=it cannot contain self-contradiction if it is to be taken as "valid"), and it needs to yield meaningful interpretation of that "unknown data".

Especially note that "patterns" and "cortex" are obviously themself concepts that exist inside the worldview that gets built about reality, and when they are used as semantical concepts to discuss how we build semantical concepts, we are merely discussing from inside of an internally-coherent worldview; we made a self-fulfilling prophecy much like "we know God exists because it says so in the bible, and the bible is the truth because it was written by God himself" (just the self-fulfilling prophecies that are our worldviews (and make our knowledge seem rational) usually contain so many logical steps that it is not easy to recognize the "circles of truths")

If you understand the above, you can pretty much understand how Kant was not on crack after all.

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So, referring to both ontological and epistemological perspective, we could say that in our worldview we have broken the reality into "sensible parts", i.e. we see "entities" (objects, space, time, radiation, sounds etc...) around us. Since we have done this, we can attach appropriate properties to these "entities" (according to our observations), and so we can make predictions about any systems that are composed of these "entities". We could break reality into any set of "things" as long as the attached properties are appropriate, but we tend to try to go with the set that yields the simplest "properties" to these "things" (because it is easier to understand reality and draw predictions that way).

Doctordick's procedure is basically about how to make logical assumptions about any unknown data. Or rather how to express the constraints that exist between the chosen "entities" and their associated behaviour (in any self-coherent model). Once more, it is about logical possibilities in our descriptions of nature, not so much about a specific ontological reality of nature.

I think any rational person can understand the issues above if they just spend the time reading what was being said, instead of concerning themselves with correcting single sentences here and there that can be always understood ambiguously and out of context.

-Anssi

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