> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com
> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf
> Of Eric Boyd
> Sent: Friday, May 14, 1999 12:28 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: virus: maxims and ground rules and suppositions
> TheHermit <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> The "truth" is the way that their map relates to the universe, and the
> way that our map relates to the universe which provides the contextual
> background for these truths. Note that context for both "truths" is
> the way the universe functions. Not the way our interpretations
> function. Which could be as bad as that proposed by the babble or as
> good as that we have today (which is effectively infinite). Any space
> going race will likely have an equal understanding of the nature of
> the universe as us.
> You have again missed my point.
Reply follows... Skip to "Main Argument" below to avoid sidetracks if you like.
> I agree (unlike psypher) that the
> universe has certain properties.
I don't think that psypher is saying the "real" universe has no properties. I think he thinks that it does, but perhaps he thinks that they are not "useful" or perhaps not "universal". If the former I disagree with him, if the latter, we don't know yet, and in some ways can't ever know about all of them at once. However, I will attempt to make the point here that we can know enough to be useful.
> These are not truths -- they are
I will attempt to falsify this position later in this reply.
> They become truths only when you attempt to describe or
> communicate them -- only when represent them with a symbol system
> (truth is a map, not the territory).
I think you take Heisenberg's "observer" too literally. The observer need not be a person, it can be another interaction. As such, meaning can be created in the interactions between things, "matter", "energy" and (possibly, unproven) concepts.
> You may do it with mathematical
> notation, or with pretty pictures, or with sequences of sounds, or (no
> doubt) hundreds of systems that we humans can't even use (due to lack
> of sensory apparatus).
Despite theorizing all sorts of interesting things, there is a limited set of properties of atoms available for devising sensing systems. I suspect that we have already defined most of the possible sensory mechanisms.
> In any case, the nature of that encoding
> system is the context ("frame of reference") in which your message
> rests -- and it depends not on the universe so much as on how humans
> see and interact with that universe.
This is one form of encoding. I will try to persuade you that there are others in a moment...
> I can easily imagine an alien
> species which interacts with it's world only via chemicals -- smell
> and taste -- and for that species, every last one of our "frames of
> reference" is incomprehensible -- even possibly inaccessible.
It seems unlikely (not impossible, James White (I recommend his "Sector General" series), has done some interesting exploration along these lines) that such a creature would be much interested in extraplanetary activity, as the only way it could discover space and solar bodies would be to discover electromagnetic radiation or gravitational interference patterns (via theoretical understanding? (based on chemical bonds?)) have to have a superb understanding of electromagnetic and or gravitic phenomena, followed by the construction of equipment to convert electromagnetic radiation into something suited to its senses. This means that if it ever reached the point of space travelling that it would need to be on a similar level to ourselves as regards physics. Perhaps more advanced regards chemicals.
As an aside, this proposed creature is unlikely, as the inability to detect a predators or foodstuff from a distance means that either there are no predators dangerous to it and, or foodstuff is so plentiful that it has no need to become a predator itself. Either way, it would have no stimulus to develop tool using capabilities or to develop complex evaluation brain functions.
> If they
> are intelligent, no doubt they will have encoded "Pi" as a truth via
> some chemical scheme
No doubt at all.
> -- which we could only understand with about the
> same difficulty we are now encountering in understanding DNA.
Have we run into a new difficulty with DNA? Tell me more please?
Main Argument here:
I haven't missed your point at all. I think we agree on everything but a suitable formulation. It gets back to what is a statement of truth and what is the universe. I like the original meanings of words where they do not interfere with my audiences understanding, so:
For "Universe" I generally use the definition given as the Primary in the WWWebster 1 : the whole body of things and phenomena observed or postulated sometinmes using the meanings in 2, 3 or 4 when the context is clear that this is what is meant. When using it in the sense of c, I would only use it as c(1).
>From the WWWebster
Main Entry: uni·verse
Etymology: Latin universum, from neuter of universus entire, whole, from uni- + versus turned toward, from past participle of vertere to turn -- more at WORTH
1 : the whole body of things and phenomena observed or postulated : COSMOS: as a : a systematic whole held to arise by and persist through the direct intervention of divine power b : the world of human experience c (1) : the entire celestial cosmos (2) : MILKY WAY GALAXY (3) : an aggregate of stars comparable to the Milky Way galaxy
2 : a distinct field or province of thought or reality that forms a closed system or self-inclusive and independent organization 3 : POPULATION 4
4 : a set that contains all elements relevant to a particular discussion or problem
5 : a great number or quantity <a large enough universe of stocks... to choose from -- G. B. Clairmont>
For truth, I use meanings 1, 2 and 3.
>From the WWWebster
Main Entry: truth
Inflected Form(s): plural truths /'trü[th]z, 'trüths/ Etymology: Middle English trewthe, from Old English trEowth fidelity; akin to Old English trEowe faithful -- more at TRUE Date: before 12th century
1 a archaic : FIDELITY, CONSTANCY b : sincerity in action, character, and utterance
2 a (1) : the state of being the case : FACT (2) : the body of real things, events, and facts : ACTUALITY (3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true <truths of thermodynamics> c : the body of true statements and propositions
3 a : the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality b chiefly British : TRUE 2 c : fidelity to an original or to a standard
4 capitalized, Christian Science : GOD
- in truth : in accordance with fact : ACTUALLY
So I define "The universe" as the set of all things real and imaginary and truth as being the "useable fidelity" or the "state of being the case". We agree that the real portion of universe has properties (attributes) and that these are "exists". I would oberve that they are also constraints.
How we determine truth in a given instance is more difficult. I hold to the idea that the only possible measurement of truth is the applicability, the usefulness, of a given statement for a given purpose.
It seems to me that a "statement of truth" can be rephrased as:
"Thing Assigned Attribute"
The Statement as a whole is true or false within the language of expression and context of use and depends upon the following.
The "Thing" can be true or false as a "thing" has a context within which it
is possible or impossible.
The Attribute can be true or false as it exists or does not exist as an appropriate attribute.
The Assignment can be true or false as the attribute may or may not be applicable to the something in association with the context in which the assignment occurs.
My view is that it is the "logical AND" of the three which creates the truth or otherwise of a statement. So there are eight possible outcomes to any statement and only one of those outcomes possible is "true". It will be noticed that I perceive context to be essential to the determination of truth. And in that I agree with the first part of the wannabe-maxim.
I suspect that most of the disagreement is derived from the confusion of the "truth value" of the final result (i.e. the "truth value" of the "statement of truth") and the seperate types (and indeed classes of "truth") of "truth value" which apply to the "Thing", "Attribute" and "Assignment".
But "context" (framework) is still undefined.
>From the WWWebster
Main Entry: con·text
Etymology: Middle English, weaving together of words, from Latin contextus connection of words, coherence, from contexere to weave together, from com- + texere to weave -- more at TECHNICAL
Date: circa 1568
1 : the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning
2 : the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs : ENVIRONMENT, SETTING
- con·text·less /-"tekst-l&s/ adjective - con·tex·tu·al /kän-'teks-ch&-w&l, k&n-, -ch&l/ adjective - con·tex·tu·al·ly adverb
Main Entry: frame·work
1 a : a basic conceptional structure (as of ideas) <the framework of the constitution> b : a skeletal, openwork, or structural frame 2 : FRAME OF REFERENCE
3 : the larger branches of a tree that determine its shape
I take the context as the symbolic exposition of the statement, but also implying the environment and the three constituent components identified above.
I simply extend the view that you hold. I observe that the universe is a member of the universe (all real sets are members of themselves and the universe is "real") and because the universe is the ultimate model of the universe, being self-referencing, with one-to-one correspondence with itself for every purpose, it is automatically and axiomatically true.
The Universe is.
Universe qua Universe.
>From this, I would argue that the universe is in and of itself a "statement
of truth" about the universe. How? What is the "frame of reference" for the universe? Space-time seems like the best model we have. That is the essential identifiable quality of the universe which if it differed would change every other aspect of the universe. Note that if space-time were to change, every aspect of the "real" universe would change, and this would change every statement made about anything real in the universe. So it definitely is useful, it definitely is necessary, and it definitely defines the universe as it underlies all of the structures of the "real" universe. But space-time is also an attribute of the universe. And saying that, it definitely meets the criteria for both a "frame of reference" and as a most fundamental "statement of truth" - about itself.
Seeing as we (as humans, not the CoV) seem to have proved that the "real" universe is not going to collapse; it is not (and will not be complete) thus it does not (will not) contradict Godel, Heisenberg, Schroedinger or Information Theory (Hmmm, another point which disproves the concept of an "omniescent being" and the value of the Hubbel telescope). As the "real" universe contains (or will contain) all possible real and imaginary communications at some time, any "statement of truth" in any format is (or will be) contained in the universe. Which implies a lurking, "statement of truth" as a context for every other "statement of truth". It is currently my view that this is ultimately what allows us to determine the quality of a "statement of truth" over time.
> You are saying that they are not in our universe? If not, and I don't
> think you are saying this, their science and technology has to
> parallel ours as far as it interacts with space-time. And it is in
> that context that the universe validates its own "truths". The nature
> of PI remains the same in any symbol set - because it exists outside
> of our interpretation.
> The universe doesn't have truths. The universe exists -- truths only
> come into play when we attempt to describe or communicate the nature
> of the universe. The *nature* of Pi (the "existant") remains the
> same -- but the encoding of Pi (the "truth") changes depending on how
> and who encodes it.
Just depends on the definition of truth, addressed above and the definition
of PI addressed in my earlier post today. Do we still disagree?
> (Brodie: talking of "existants" is not a form of Platonic Idealism --
> it is realism. On the other hand, Pi itself is clearly a product of
> Platonic Idealism, as I said to Wade in a different posts. No
> "circles" exist -- they are a pure Platonic Form. Clearly, the
> example chosen above is a poor one to demonstrate with, but I think
> the point about realism -- the universe exists -- is clear enough even
> if the example given is actually a Platonic Form. I do intend to
> check out your reference to see what dear Dan had to say)
Platonic Idealism and the idea that "real things" in the "real" universe are conditioned by the nature of space-time are diametrically opposed. As I showed in my earlier article about the nature of PI, PI is a product of the definition of a circle in the "real" universe, which is again a function of space-time in our "real" universe. This does not imply an ideal "essence", rather the reverse. I am hoping that I have made it clear that the model I am attempting to create is based on a pragmatic view which discounts idealism in favor of utility.
I too have not had a chance to see what Dennet has to say on the matter.
> So we have an example of something where there exists a truth which is
> independent of the way in which it is expressed. And altering the
> expression of the "statement of the truth" is not going to alter the
> meaning of the truth.
> Yes. The "existant" remains the same -- but the "frame of reference"
> changes. And you cannot remove that frame of reference (the way in
> which the symbol system is to be intrepreted) without losing the
> statement of truth, or making it into an untruth (supposition, or what
> have you), in other words:
We agree as far as the "interpretation" of the "statement of truth" goes, yet this returns us to my objection to supposition.
Main Entry: sup·po·si·tion
Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin supposition-, suppositio, from Latin, act of placing beneath, from supponere Date: 15th century
1 : something that is supposed : HYPOTHESIS 2 : the act of supposing
- sup·po·si·tion·al /-'zish-n&l, -'zi-sh&-n&l/ adjective
Main Entry: sup·pose
Pronunciation: s&-'pOz, oftenest after "I " 'spOz Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): sup·posed; sup·pos·ing Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French supposer, from Medieval Latin supponere (perfect indicative supposui), from Latin, to put under, substitute, from sub- + ponere to put -- more at POSITION Date: 14th century
1 a : to lay down tentatively as a hypothesis, assumption, or proposal <suppose a fire broke out> <suppose you bring the salad> b (1) : to hold as an opinion : BELIEVE <they supposed they were early> (2) : to think probable or in keeping with the facts <seems reasonable to suppose that he would profit>
2 a : CONCEIVE, IMAGINE b : to have a suspicion of 3 : PRESUPPOSE
intransitive senses : CONJECTURE, OPINE
I do not see "untruth" or "not truth" (to allow us to use the definition of truth above), as being equivalent in any way to a supposition.
> "All statements of truth are embedded in a particular frame of
> reference from which they cannot be separated without becoming
> 1) Statements about reality which are "intrinsic". These "statements
> of truth", for example the ratios represented by PI, cannot be
> decontextualised without becomming meaningless. They do not depend on
> some other framework, the nature of the universe provides the
> framework in which they are true. Thus they cannot be seperated from
> their frame of reference - and thus the wannabe-maxim is not
> False. The ratio represented by Pi (the "existant") is not a truth.
> It is a property of the universe. Such properties have no bearing on
> the maxim, which is talking about *truth* (the map, the representation
No, it is a property of the definition of a circle which, in the "real universe", is dependent on space-time which is a function of the "real" universe. Please refer to the definition of PI addressed in my earlier post today. As such, the "truth" of "PI" relates to to the "truth" of the circle which is definitional. As such, the ratio represented by "PI" is definitional and as such it is axiomatically a "statement of truth".
> For most of (2), we agree. "All statements of truth (representations
> of Pi) are embedded in a particular frame of reference (the symbol
> system) from which they cannot be separated without becoming
> suppositions (statements whose truth value is questionable rather than
> I think I would like to entirely remove the last half of the maxim.
> "All statements of truth are embedded in a frame of reference."
I would support this formulation.
> It is both clearer and avoids the fuzzyness of "supposition". It is a
> definition of truth, rather than a statement about the universe we
> live in -- and this is the mistake that TheHermit is making.
I still don't think I am making a "mistake". Do you still think that I am?
> and equally that nobody has demonstrated that there are "statements of
> truth" of this class to which this wannabe maxim does apply.
> Do you like my modification? Every statement of truth (heck, probably
> even every statement) exists in a "frame of reference" -- I offer this
> statement as an example. It is embedded in an English frame of
> reference, not to mention a philosophical one, a visually based one,
> and (importantly -- it is the focus of my current work on an
> Epistemology of Email) an email based one. You cannot remove that
> "frame of reference" -- although you can replace it with, say, French,
> or a Formal Mathematical Notation, etc. The resulting truth is still
> embedded in a frame of reference.
I do like it. I agree that it applies to every statement. As I said above, I would support it. I would also suggest a slight modification: "The truth values of all statements are embedded in and dependant upon a frame of reference."
TheHermit < Can I go outside and play now? >