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Mind-body problem-Chomsky/Nagel

by bohm2
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apeiron
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Sep23-11, 09:08 PM
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It should be noted that the molecule-water example, commonly used, is not a very telling one. We also cannot conceive of a liquid turnng into two gas by electrolysis, and there is no intuitive sense in which the properties of water, bases, and acids inhere in Hydrogen or Oxygen or other atoms.
The liquidity example is a good one to examine.

The reductionist assumption is that everything can be accounted for as the sum of the action of the parts. So phizzicsphan's focus on "exterior properties".

The systems view, by constrast, says the causes of things are alway dichotomous and hierarchical. Yes, there is bottom up construction based on local properties or freedoms, but also always some matching global shaping context, some set of downward acting constraints.

(The "clever" part of this is that constraints are responsible for the local freedoms as constraints limit vague potential to crisp definite "directions" of action. While equally, those local freedoms have by definition to be of a kind that will keep reconstructing that global context of constraints. So each side is making the other synergistically, or ultimately, semiotically - semiosis being about a more specific model concerning the nature of global constraints.)

Anyway, when it comes to a liquid state, you need two things to account for its persistence as an equilibrium balance of causes. You need local thermal/kinetic jostle and you need global pressure/containment.

You need molecular bonds of some kind of course to create an actual potential for interaction. But this potential is the part of the story that is the continuum (it connects all the phases of H2O). To inquire into molecular bonds is a larger question. You are asking about what makes atoms and electromagnetism. But talking here about liquidity as an emergent state, we want to focus sharply on the actual variables. Which are local average kinetics and global average pressure.

Now we can take any H2O molecule and assign it a thermal energy as a property. But we can't locate pressure in the molecule. That isn't even a property correctly of a mass of molecules. What causes pressure here is some form of confinement. So external constraints like a vessel, gravity, a weight of atmosphere - something that is the source of the limits exerting a downward causality from "outside", or a larger spatiotemporal scale.

The causes of liquidity are thus dual. Two things in dynamical balance - local kinetics and global constraints - result in what is actually the interior property, the emergent quality, that we are labelling liquidity.

Worrying about other kinds of things, like the predictability of electrolysis or solvent actions, is an unnecessary complication of the discussion. The simplest description of liquidity boils down to a local freedom (thermal motion of particles) and their global constraints (there is no liquidity without suitable constraints being imposed). And it is clear liquidity emerges not from just one or other variable, but the balancing of both the bottom-up and the top-down.

A reductionist will try to argue that it is all about the molecular bonds. Well, at least they might remember that as the clinching idea presented to them in school chemistry class. But the significance of the bonds is that they are a constant that does not change. Every H2O molecule is identical in its inter-molecular attraction (given a normal range of temperature ad pressure).

So to squeeze liquidity or any other form of difference out of the something which does not change is of course going to seem paradoxical. There is just no liquidity (or gassiness, or solidity) intrinsic in the bonds as a further property. The bonds alone offer no account of the dynamics. And can't do.

Think about this. What if the inter-molecular bonds were in fact all much weaker, or much stronger? This alone would make no difference to whether a collection of molecules were liquid or solid or gas. It would determine nothing new. The story would still come down an emergent balance of local temperature and global pressure.
bohm2
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Sep24-11, 01:23 AM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
A reductionist will try to argue that it is all about the molecular bonds. Well, at least they might remember that as the clinching idea presented to them in school chemistry class. But the significance of the bonds is that they are a constant that does not change. Every H2O molecule is identical in its inter-molecular attraction (given a normal range of temperature ad pressure).

So to squeeze liquidity or any other form of difference out of the something which does not change is of course going to seem paradoxical. There is just no liquidity (or gassiness, or solidity) intrinsic in the bonds as a further property. The bonds alone offer no account of the dynamics. And can't do.

Think about this. What if the inter-molecular bonds were in fact all much weaker, or much stronger? This alone would make no difference to whether a collection of molecules were liquid or solid or gas. It would determine nothing new. The story would still come down an emergent balance of local temperature and global pressure.
What about this reductionist argument:

Where there is discontinuity in microscopic behavior associated with precisely specifiable macroscopic parameters, emergent properties of the system are clearly implicated, unless we can get an equally elegant resulting theory by complicating the dispositional structure of the already accepted inventory of basic properties. Sydney Shoemaker has contended that such hidden-micro-dispositions theories are indeed always available. Assuming sharply discontinuous patterns of effects within complex systems, we could conclude that the microphysical entities have otherwise latent dispositions towards effects within macroscopically complex contexts alongside the dispositions which are continuously manifested in (nearly) all contexts. The observed difference would be a result of the manifestation of these latent dispositions.

So I'm guessing a reductionist can claim that we lack these "latent dispositions" because we don't have a complete physical theory, yet?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties-emergent/

Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
I'm not saying the symbol side is "fake" by any means. But symbols are arbitrary. An 'a' does exist, but it has no meaning alone, and it's place is no better or worse served by a 'b'. But, you can't have an alphabet of just 'a' so there is something meaningful about how the symbols exist, but it's not their labels (i.e. it's not the symbol itself).
This is an interesting point. That sounds like an "intrinsicality" argument since anything can be a symbol. What determines what is a symbol comes from the subject. That seems like an argument against symbolic or semiotic function?
Pythagorean
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Sep24-11, 02:55 AM
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
What about this reductionist argument:

Where there is discontinuity in microscopic behavior associated with precisely specifiable macroscopic parameters, emergent properties of the system are clearly implicated, unless we can get an equally elegant resulting theory by complicating the dispositional structure of the already accepted inventory of basic properties. Sydney Shoemaker has contended that such hidden-micro-dispositions theories are indeed always available. Assuming sharply discontinuous patterns of effects within complex systems, we could conclude that the microphysical entities have otherwise latent dispositions towards effects within macroscopically complex contexts alongside the dispositions which are continuously manifested in (nearly) all contexts. The observed difference would be a result of the manifestation of these latent dispositions.

So I'm guessing a reductionist can claim that we lack these "latent dispositions" because we don't have a complete physical theory, yet?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties-emergent/



This is an interesting point. That sounds like an "intrinsicality" argument since anything can be a symbol. What determines what is a symbol comes from the subject. That seems like an argument against symbolic or semiotic function?
Whether it can be a symbol or not depends on the system context, as it should. If everything were red, we'd all effectively be blind. If the universe were all one temperature, nothing would happen.
apeiron
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Sep24-11, 03:25 AM
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So I'm guessing a reductionist can claim that we lack these "latent dispositions" because we don't have a complete physical theory, yet?
So far as I recall, Shoemaker takes a fairly systems view of causality. It is not clear that this is his own argument rather than him musing on what a reductionist might say.

But anyway, the systems answer is that it works the other way round.

What this idea of latent dispositions appears to be saying is that the parts of a system have some set of properties. There are those that are used or apparent at one level of development, but other unseen ones may come into play with more complex forms of organisation.

The reductionist of course wants the parts to be as simple as possible. Really, it is hard to explain why there should be anything rather than a nothing. But to be fundamental, a part should at least have as few properties as decently possible. Every new property is an addition to a growing collection. It seems troublesome that a part could both have many properties, and also that some of these are subtle enough to be hidden until some kind of complexity harnesses them and brings them to the fore.

The systems approach views the situation the other way round. Reality at root is vague. Any locale in an undeveloped state will have an unlimited number of degrees of freedom. While things are indeterminate, the "properties" of the local scale are infinite because unbounded - but also not really properties as such because, being everything at the same time, this adds up to nothing definite.

So the first point is that a "part" has a potential infinity of properties, and then has to become some actual part by becoming bounded in its freedoms. It is no surprise that a part has many "latent dispositions" as it starts with an infinity. The task then is to constrain these dispositions so that they do something useful in the context of a system.

Which is what hierarchy theory is about. How the global scale constrains the freedoms of the local scale, limiting local freedoms to turn infinite potential into crisply bounded actuality.

So latently, anything is possible. But due to downwards acting constraints, this freedom becomes increasingly constrained. Parts become ever more definite and particular as complexity or global organisation increases.

Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
This is an interesting point. That sounds like an "intrinsicality" argument since anything can be a symbol. What determines what is a symbol comes from the subject. That seems like an argument against symbolic or semiotic function?
No, rather it is the basis of semiosis and the epistemic cut. The whole point of symbols is that they are as detached as possible from any physical considerations. Rate independent information needs to be separate from rate dependent dynamics for there to be a semiotic relation between syntax (the realm of symbols) and semantics (the real world they refer to).
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Sep24-11, 06:08 PM
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The reductionist of course wants the parts to be as simple as possible. Really, it is hard to explain why there should be anything rather than a nothing. But to be fundamental, a part should at least have as few properties as decently possible. Every new property is an addition to a growing collection. It seems troublesome that a part could both have many properties, and also that some of these are subtle enough to be hidden until some kind of complexity harnesses them and brings them to the fore.
Some reductionists argue that, in fact, it is quite possible, in physics, to have a fundamentally important new property, completely different from any that had been contemplated hithero, hidden unobserved in the behaviour of ordinary matter. Although not the best example, one can argue that general relativistic effects "would have totally escaped attention had that attention been confined to the study of the behaviour of tiny particles." (Penrose).

Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
No, rather it is the basis of semiosis and the epistemic cut. The whole point of symbols is that they are as detached as possible from any physical considerations. Rate independent information needs to be separate from rate dependent dynamics for there to be a semiotic relation between syntax (the realm of symbols) and semantics (the real world they refer to).
This is the part that confuses me when trying to understand Chomsky. He favours an internalistic semantics:

The internalist denies an assumption common to all of the approaches above: the assumption that in giving the content of an expression, we are primarily specifying something about that expression's relation to things in the world which that expression might be used to say things about. According to the internalist, expressions as such don't bear any semantically interesting relations to things in the world; names don't, for example, refer to the objects with which one might take them to be associated. Sentences are not true or false, and do not express propositions which are true or false; the idea that we can understand natural languages using a theory of reference as a guide is mistaken. On this sort of view, we occasionally use sentences to say true or false things about the world, and occasionally use names to refer to things; but this is just one we can do with names and sentences, and is not a claim about the meanings of those expressions.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning/#ChoIntSem

http://www.lainestranahan.com/wp-con...han_Thesis.pdf

Actually, I thought this is what Pythagorean was arguing for. Looks like I misinterpreted his/her post.
apeiron
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Sep24-11, 06:12 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
So latently, anything is possible. But due to downwards acting constraints, this freedom becomes increasingly constrained. Parts become ever more definite and particular as complexity or global organisation increases.
In case this is too abstract, think of the classic substance~form argument. A lump of clay is a formless material. It could be potentially formed into an infinity of designs. It's "latent dispositions" are unbounded.

Humans can come along and impose constraints on that potential. A potter might make a vase. Or more interestingly, an engineer might impose even more "logical" form on matter to create screws, pistons, cams, ratchets, valves.

A lump of metal might be said to have these mechanical qualities as hidden dispositions - but only in the sense that just about any form could have been imposed on the substance. And it is plain how that form actually emerged - by a person with an idea, by an external source of information that cannot be called a hidden disposition of the metal.
apeiron
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Sep24-11, 08:21 PM
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
Some reductionists argue that, in fact, it is quite possible, in physics, to have a fundamentally important new property, completely different from any that had been contemplated hithero, hidden unobserved in the behaviour of ordinary matter. Although not the best example, one can argue that general relativistic effects "would have totally escaped attention had that attention been confined to the study of the behaviour of tiny particles." (Penrose).
This was phizzicsphan's argument - hidden microproperties are always conceivable. A reductionist is free to make any claim. But why would we take such a claim seriously unless there is a theory and data to show this to be so.

A reductionist would at least have to come up with a compelling instance of the kind of thing that they are talking about - show that it has been true of at least one system.

Special relativity at least might have been derived from time dilation of muon decay (or that would have been an observable demanding of some explanation).

I'm not sure how Penrose might have argued that general relativity shows "no observable effects" at the microscale. Perhaps you can give the source.

But then also the systems argument is that the global shapes the local, so it is not even necessary that that the global be visible as local properties. The argument would in fact seem the reverse. It would be a proof that GR is a maximally global description because it so purely resides at a global level in modelling.

It is of course the central project of current fundamental physics to unite GR and QFT. And the lack of success could be due to this point. Shrink GR to the limits of the microscale and instead of arriving at crisp micro-observables, you get the radical indeterminacy of singularities.

Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
[I]The internalist denies an assumption common to all of the approaches above: the assumption that in giving the content of an expression, we are primarily specifying something about that expression's relation to things in the world which that expression might be used to say things about.
The whole page you linked to is a result of the confusion of following reductionist approaches to reality.

As I keep arguing, the systems/semiotic approach says reality starts in vagueness, in radical indeterminancy, and then has to be constrained in its unbounded freedoms to become a something, a crisply definite entity or state.

A symbol stands for a constraint to be applied to naked meaning. It limits the freedom that the world can have.

So a word like "cat" is a token that constrains your thoughts. But there is still plenty of freedom that exists in what you might be thinking about. It could be a Persian, a lynx or Krazy Kat.

Further words can syntatically constrain the meaning, reducing the freedom of your thoughts. So a "fluffy cat". A "fluffy, white cat". etc.

A reductionist thinks meaning is constructed atomistically so therefore words somehow have to stand for some definite entity. But symbols work not by representing but by constraining. It is the limits that they can construct which are the causal source of their power.

So it is not about externalism or internalism, but about top-downism (which - the remarkable bit - is constructible from atomistic elements, discrete symbols).

It is the fact that symbols are global constraints, yet look like reductionist atoms, that probably does cause so much confusion. But anyway, to construct constraints you do also need rules - actual syntax. Which leads us even further towards modelling, semiosis and hierarchy theory.
bohm2
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Sep24-11, 09:19 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
This was phizzicsphan's argument - hidden microproperties are always conceivable. A reductionist is free to make any claim. But why would we take such a claim seriously unless there is a theory and data to show this to be so..
The same argument could be said about semiotics, I think? I didn't fully understand his paper but I think phizzicsphan argues at least, in part, that the new "novel" property that may offer insight in how consciousness can emerge from matter is (in part) the non-locality/non-separability implied at the micro-level in the Bell experiments (e.g. Aspect, etc.) and/or entanglement of QM? Maybe he can elaborate, how?

With respect to hidden microproperties vs semiotics consider using the semiotic approach to pre-quantum physics. A reductionist at that time would have argued that the reason why we can't get Newtonian physics to spit out chemical stuff is because there are hidden microproperties that have yet to be discovered. They would have been right, I think. Would the semiotic approach predicted QM via a different approach? I can't see how except maybe as a model to describe the stuff after the fact. But again, I might be confused as I have a bit of trouble understanding the practical implications and predictions although you have done a good job describing the general perspective. Moreover, I've come across these weaknesses even by those who support the systems/semiotic approach. I'm not sure if you agree with this assessment but here is what Marcello Barbieri writes about biosemiotics:

Biosemiotics is a new continent whose exploration has just begun, and it is not surprising that people have gone off in different directions. In addition to the difficulties that arise in any new field, however, biosemiotics is also having problems of its own. Today, the major obstacles to its development come from three great sources of confusion.

1. The first handicap is that biosemiotics is wrongly perceived as a philosophy rather than a science, and in particular as a view that promotes physiosemiotics, pansemiotics, panpsychism and the like. Here, the only solution is to remind people that biosemiotics is a science because it is committed to exploring the world with testable models, like any other scientific discipline.

2. The second handicap is that biosemiotics appears to be only a different way of looking at the known facts of biology, not a science that brings new facts to light. It is not regarded capable of making predictions and having an experimental field of its own, and to many people all this means irrelevance. Here the only solution is to keep reminding people that the experimental field of biosemiotics is the study of organic codes and signs, that biosemiotics did predict their existence and continues to make predictions, that codes and signs exist at all levels of organization and that the great steps of macroevolution are associated with the appearance of new codes. This is what biosemiotics is really about.

3. The third handicap is the fact that biosemiotics, despite being a small field of research, is split into different schools, which gives the impression that it has no unifying principle. Here we can only point out that a first step towards unification has already been taken and that the conditions for a second, decisive, step already exist. When biosemioticians finally accept that the models of semiosis must be testable, they will also acknowledge the existence of all types of semiosis that are documented by the experimental evidence and that is all that is required to overcome the divisions of the past. At that point, the old divides will no longer make sense and most schools will find it natural to converge into a unified framework.

Biosemiotics must overcome all the above obstacles in order to become a unified science, but this process of growth and development has already started and there is light at the end of the tunnel.


http://www.biosemiotica.it/internal_...osemiotics.pdf
apeiron
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Sep24-11, 11:59 PM
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Would the semiotic approach predicted QM via a different approach?
Well, it does predict reality is fundamentally indeterminate (vague) and requires constraints (measurement) to make the local crisp (collapse). So in fact yes, it always argued against simple atomism.

1. The first handicap is that biosemiotics is wrongly perceived as a philosophy rather than a science, and in particular as a view that promotes physiosemiotics, pansemiotics, panpsychism and the like. Here, the only solution is to remind people that biosemiotics is a science because it is committed to exploring the world with testable models, like any other scientific discipline.
I don't call this a weakness. Do you?

2. The second handicap is that biosemiotics appears to be only a different way of looking at the known facts of biology, not a science that brings new facts to light. It is not regarded capable of making predictions and having an experimental field of its own, and to many people all this means irrelevance. Here the only solution is to keep reminding people that the experimental field of biosemiotics is the study of organic codes and signs, that biosemiotics did predict their existence and continues to make predictions, that codes and signs exist at all levels of organization and that the great steps of macroevolution are associated with the appearance of new codes. This is what biosemiotics is really about.
Yes, biosemiosis actually won't achieve much except give a more principled understanding of facts already discovered unless it comes up with mathematical-level models.

There is a lot to do to turn philosophy into actual science.

3. The third handicap is the fact that biosemiotics, despite being a small field of research, is split into different schools, which gives the impression that it has no unifying principle. Here we can only point out that a first step towards unification has already been taken and that the conditions for a second, decisive, step already exist. When biosemioticians finally accept that the models of semiosis must be testable, they will also acknowledge the existence of all types of semiosis that are documented by the experimental evidence and that is all that is required to overcome the divisions of the past. At that point, the old divides will no longer make sense and most schools will find it natural to converge into a unified framework.
Again, this is a weakness only in the sense that biosemiosis is a field that is still new and hopeful.

So I don't dispute Barbieri assessment at all.
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Sep25-11, 01:03 AM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
Well, it does predict reality is fundamentally indeterminate (vague) and requires constraints (measurement) to make the local crisp (collapse). So in fact yes, it always argued against simple atomism.?
So I'm guessing it doesn't much favour the Everett or Bohmian interpretations of QM.

Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
I don't call this a weakness. Do you?
No. Assuming it's wrongly perceived as a philosophy. What is interesting is attempts by Barbieri's group to form a synthesis with biolinguistics and with linguists like Chomsky (see link below) given Chomsky's nativism and premise that syntax determines meaning. This is inconsistent with "the pragmatic context" which determines meaning for systems view.

http://www.biosemiotica.it/internal_...20Language.pdf

On the Origin of Language: A bridge between Biolinguistics and Biosemiotics

http://www.biosemiotica.it/internal_...0of%20Language

I think Chomsky would agree with Barbieri that:

animals do not interpret the world but only representations of the world. Any interpretation, in short, is always exercised on internal models of the environment, never on the environment itself.

So that, perception of "external reality" is always mediated/filtered through our mental organs. But I'm not sure Chomsky would be sympathetic to the view that:

the environment (in an objective sense) necessarily represents the final/ultimate object of any perception.
apeiron
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Sep25-11, 03:04 AM
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
So I'm guessing it doesn't much favour the Everett or Bohmian interpretations of QM.
That is certainly true for me.

Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
What is interesting is attempts by Barbieri's group to form a synthesis with biolinguistics and with linguists like Chomsky (see link below) given Chomsky's nativism and premise that syntax determines meaning. This is inconsistent with "the pragmatic context" which determines meaning for systems view.
It is hardly Barbieri's "group". Quite a few are hostile to his view of what biosemiosis is, let alone his attempts to make a connection with Chomsky.

Barbieri himself calls his approach code-semiosis and distinguishes it from a number of approaches including Pattee's physical-semiosis, or the more strictly Peircean sign-semiosis.

Having read his papers, my main reaction is not that he is wrong (and others right) but he over complicates the analysis whereas others (principally Pattee and Salthe) are seeking to strip things down to their barest bones. And these two are also seeking the pan- view where semiosis is described with such generality it can be appreciated as a universal process (as Peirce envisaged).
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Sep25-11, 02:48 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
Having read his papers, my main reaction is not that he is wrong (and others right) but he over complicates the analysis whereas others (principally Pattee and Salthe) are seeking to strip things down to their barest bones. And these two are also seeking the pan- view where semiosis is described with such generality it can be appreciated as a universal process (as Peirce envisaged).
This is my main problem with most semiosis theories too. I've read some Peirce and Sebeok and some others, and the posted attempt of Barbieri to bridge two fields. Again, I've always found that even the simplest models are debatable, the more complex models are based on so many assumptions and leaps-of-faith that they can only be incorrect, and given those observations it looks like most analysis deflate to too many words conveying gibberish.

It's nice with a glass of wine, though.
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Sep26-11, 11:48 PM
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Quote Quote by PhizzicsPhan View Post
matter/energy behaves according to the dual influences of the implicate order (described by Bohm and Hiley as the quantum potential or guiding wave) and explicate order (classical forces)
Here's a difficulty with Bohm's scheme that some mention. Assume a mixed ontology like his. You have:

1. A 3-dimensional space in which the N particles evolve.
2. A 3-N-dimensional space in which the wave function evolves.

They argue that you have 2 seemingly "disconnected spaces with no apparent causal connection between the particles in one space and the field in the other space, and yet the stuff in the two spaces is evolving in tandem." How is this possible? It seems to have an interaction problem equivalent to the Cartesian mind-body problem?
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
Here's a difficulty with Bohm's scheme that some mention. Assume a mixed ontology like his. You have:

1. A 3-dimensional space in which the N particles evolve.
2. A 3-N-dimensional space in which the wave function evolves.

They argue that you have 2 seemingly "disconnected spaces with no apparent causal connection between the particles in one space and the field in the other space, and yet the stuff in the two spaces is evolving in tandem." How is this possible? It seems to have an interaction problem equivalent to the Cartesian mind-body problem?
I envision it as akin to a boat on an ocean - normal physical forces constitute the wind and other surface events. The quantum potential of the implicate order constitutes the ocean currents.

More abstractly, I envision the implicate order/apeiron/ether/ground of being as the realm of pure potentiality. It is only when a particle bubbles up from potentiality into actuality that it becomes conscious and it is only when it becomes conscious that it becomes subject to the normal physical forces.

For yet another model, I envision the implicate order as an infinite grid of 3-d pixels. When these pixels constitute empty space, it is because consciousness has not risen from implicate to explicate and thus matter has not manifested from pure potentiality to actuality. Wolfram has suggested a cellular automata model of physics in A New Kind of Physics and I think some of his ideas may have some merit. One idea I've played with a tiny amount is to extend the proximity model of cellular automata to two, three or more degrees of proximity, providing what seems to be a more natural model of how reality works, in terms of causal influences.
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Sep27-11, 07:30 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
The whole page you linked to is a result of the confusion of following reductionist approaches to reality.
I don't think it has anything to do with the reductionist stance. Chomsky favours the “internalist” perspective with respect to linguistics because:

In symbolic systems of other animals, symbols appear to be linked directly to mind-independent events. The symbols of human language are sharply different. Even in the simplest cases, there is no word-object relation where words are mind-independent entities. There is no reference relation, in the technical sense familiar from Frege and Peirce to contemporary externalists.

Thus,

Much of Chomsky’s scepticism about externalist semantics is a scepticism about the possibility of making any scientific use of truth and reference in linguistic semantics. His scepticism about truth and reference in turns seems to stem from some deep metaphysical puzzles that he likes to raise about the existence of things in the world for words to refer to. In several places, Chomsky argues that names of cities, e.g., 'London' can refer both to something concrete and abstract, animate and inanimate.

He provides a number of examples if you read his stuff; convincingly, in my opinion. This seems to be one dividing line that separates his model to those of Peirce, Bateson, etc. who argue that “such operations fundamentally derive their referential and semiotic power from a system of relations external to, though including the individual agent. From what I recall Chomsky debated Bateson/Piaget on this point years ago, I think.
apeiron
#214
Sep27-11, 08:23 PM
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
Chomsky favours the “internalist” perspective with respect to liguistics because: [I]In symbolic systems of other animals, symbols appear to be linked directly to mind-independent events. The symbols of human language are sharply different.
I think the problem here comes from taken an either/or approach. Either symbolic language is all innate/internal/whatever, or all learnt/referential/external/whatever.

My argument is about how both are true, and what that looks like.

So what is external to the "mind" is clearly the social construction of meaning. A word like London refers to something in the collective mind, if you like - a semiosis on a much larger scale. And unless you believe in telepathy, that's not an "internalist" story in the sense intended here.

And where Chomsky is really wrong (IMO, having studied the evolution of human language) is thinking that syntax is not quite simply explained in "externalist" terms.

The nested hierarchical design (the recursiveness) which he claims to be such a special feature of syntax is in fact just how the whole brain works. It is the natural architecture for cognition. The key evolutionary event was in fact the development of a further constraint on the motor output of this hierarchy. That is, the development of a throat, mouth and lips designed for chunking a flow of vocalisation. Once sound was chopped into a sequence of articulate syllables (proto-words), then it was ready to be taken over by a code with rules.

Even the rules of grammar are no big deal. Animal minds (through evolution of natural brain architecture) already model the world in terms of paying attention to the levers of control - analysing who did what to whom. Rudimentary cause and effect logic.

Once the possibility of an actual coding became possible, it is no surprise that the code emphasised this underlying epistemology, strengthening through rules (or rather, socially evolved habit) a universal logical format based on the triadic relation of subject, verb and object.

So Chomsky makes the evolution of language seem far more unnatural than its actually is (just as extreme nativists go the other way and think the story is so much simpler).

So nothing about human speech is internal in the sense that it arises mysteriously in "a mind", or any kind of mental realm.

But as I say, we shouldn't be too hasty, like the blank slate guys or behaviourists, and deny that nothing else is in play here.

And this is where the epistemic cut comes in. There really is something different going on when we compare what we could call (for the sake of familiarity) the realms of hardware and software. The physical basis of symbols is a vexed issue. Symbols do open up a new world of causality. And that is what semiosis is trying to acknowledge. There are causes at the symbol level that are not present (except as vague potentials) at the brute material level of analysis.

So semiosis must arise out of the material, but symbols do seem to come from some other place, a wee bit Platonic.

Putting it all together, the systems approach (based on good old fashioned Aristotlean causality) says this is a local construction vs global constraints deal. The sharp division is not between matter and mind, or outer and inner, but between the local and global, between constructive freedoms and the order imposed by top-down constraints. So there is a real divide to talk about.

But then holding it all still together is the epistemic cut - the understanding that it is a divide that arises via development and has to be inserted into nature. Underneath, all is still one, even though equally, nothing definite can exist until vague monadicity has been sharply separated into the dichotomies that allow the triadic relationships which are the hierarchies.

Anyway, the power of symbols is that they code for constraints. You can construct a constraint in serial fashion (as a syntactic sentence), which in turn creates a mental state within the hierarchical architecture of a brain (as I argued with the example of a white persian cat).

Acting this way, symbols have the power that we call machine-like - mechanical or computational. They can construct constraints to order (according to the "mental" habits that we have learnt). Constraints normally come from the "outside" of a system - they are imposed from levels of organisation beyond a system's control. As I said about liquidity and pressure. But through genes and words, constraints can be constructed from the "inside" of the system - the material inside rather than some immaterial inside, although still an emergently experiential "material inside".

So again, the view I'm arguing is complex - far beyond the simplicities of a Chomsky or a Skinner. But it is also what the literature supports. It is the story you can see in the neuroscience and paleoanthropology. And it is the story which can be explained causally in the kind of systems science, semiotics and hierarchy theory that have arisen out of biology dealing with essentially the same problem when talking about "life".
PhizzicsPhan
#215
Sep27-11, 10:32 PM
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bohm2, I'm still waiting for you to elaborate on your question about telepathy vis a vis Bohmian QM. Specifically, can you point me toward the source of your suggestion that each particle's wave function must be entirely isolated (I think this is what you suggested)?
bohm2
#216
Sep28-11, 01:29 AM
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Quote Quote by PhizzicsPhan View Post
bohm2, I'm still waiting for you to elaborate on your question about telepathy vis a vis Bohmian QM. Specifically, can you point me toward the source of your suggestion that each particle's wave function must be entirely isolated (I think this is what you suggested)?
This is from Mike Towler's course slides on the properties of the wave field:

Comparison with other field theories

•No ‘source’ of ψ-field in conventional sense of localized entity whose motion ‘generates’ it. ψ thus not ‘radiated’.
•At this level no ‘ether’ introduced which would support propagation of ψ. As with electromagnetism, think of ψ as state of vibration of empty space.
•Influence of wave on particle, via Q, independent of its intensity.
•Initial velocity of particle fixed by initial wave function and not arbitrarily specified as in electromagnetic/gravitational theories.
•Schrodinger eqn. determines wave evolution and particle equation of motion (unlike electromagnetism where Maxwell equations and Lorentz force law logically distinct).
•Wave equation describes propagation of complex amplitude ψ , or equivalently two coupled real fields. Complex waves often used in other field theories for mathematical convenience, but always take real part in the end. In QM two real fields required.
• ψ-field finite and carries energy, momentum and angular momentum throughout space, far from where particle located (as in classical field theories). However conservation laws obeyed by field independent of particle since latter does not physically influence former.

Furthermore, there is, no action-reaction symmetry:

in classical physics there is an interplay between particle and field - each generates the dynamics of the other. In pilot wave theory ψ acts on positions of particles but, evolving as it does autonomously via Schrodinger’s equation, it is not acted upon by the particles.

So, it seems that even the particle cannot "influence" the ψ field. Bohm writes (p.30-The Undivided Universe):

the Schrodinger equation for the quantum field does not have sources, nor does it have any other way by which the field could be directly affected by the condition of the particles.

http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mdt26/pilot_waves.html

Anyway, given the points above I can't see how a ψ field in one particle system can have an effect on another ψ field/particle system. A system of particles may be guided by a pool of information common to the whole system but that's not the same thing. It's possible that I'm mistaken, but I don't think I'm misinterpreting his model? As an aside, telepathy seems totally irrational to me.


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