# Is time just an illusion?

by Outlandish_Existence
Tags: illusion, time
P: 249
 Quote by Doctordick Most people are not "forced to try and refine their world-view. There is another option: you can deny the new information. Sometimes that is easier than trying to incorporate it into one's world view. Denial tends to lead to what I call compartmentalization: some people, even respected exact scientists, can hold two conflicting theories as both being correct by simply never bringing the conflict to mind.
Yeah that's true, I guess we all do that to an extent. I know I do. But then I think there is kind of a rationale behind such behaviour too. We find ourselves thinking "there must be a perfectly good explanation to that new information if I just spent the time to really check it out, and my time is better spent elsewhere".

That is what we do because we hear so much silly stuff all the time. Say, when you hear that someone saw a ghost or whatever. That same thought kept many scientists on denial when they heard it doesn't look like planets go around the earth after all etc...

 The problem is that success is quite difficult and, if we are to survive, we have to compartmentalize, most people just don't admit it. I began to consciously compartmentalize before I started grade school. When I was about four, my father told me that "anyone who believes more than ten percent of what he hears, or fifty percent of what he reads, or ninety percent of what he sees with his own eyes is gullible!"
Heh, when I was a kid, my father said something to the effect of "the more people there are believing something, the more likely it is they are believing a lie". I realized that people's values and beliefs are strongly a cultural thing, and so I disregarded "everyone thinks so" as a criteria for figuring out what to believe. I kind of started seeing dumb behaviour all around me. I guess it went on from there.

Anyway, onto the topic again.

 In order to understand this, you have to understand the fundamental nature of the "what is", is "what is" explanation. The "what is", is "what is" explanation has utterly nothing to say about the future. But it does describe the past! Since it does have a temporal element (the "t" index I introduced) it can be examined as a collection of "presents". It follows that any "valid" explanation of that information must yield expectations consistent with that structure: i.e., what actually happened at "t".
So when you say "expectations" here, it always means expectations about something in the past? Hmmm, this was confusing because I hadn't figured out you were talking about a method of handling this sort of information without actually having to mark down every single element in every single "present" (and if we could mark everythign down, indeed we wouldn't need any fancy functions, since we could just look at a specific t)

Okay, if this is correct, I think I can go back to that earlier post (tomorrow, it's late :)

 Anssi, I have been thinking this afternoon and perhaps I can make my position a little clearer. The issue is the chicken and egg nature of ontology and epistemology. Each and every epistemology (without exception) requires an ontology. There is but one path out of the dilemma and it lies with the definition of "an explanation". If one defines "an explanation" to be "a method of obtaining one's expectations from the known information", there exists but one explanation which requires no epistemological structure: that is the "what is", is "what is" explanation. Thus, if one can come up with a notation capable of expressing the ontology behind the "what is", is "what is" explanation, one has created a representation of the ontology behind any explanation. The issue behind the above statement is the fact that any epistemology needs to be understood and, in order to understand that epistemology, one must be able to first deduce the implied ontology. Before it is understood, any explanation is a "what is", is "what is" structure, the only issue being that the underlying ontology is defined by the implied structure of the ontology. From the perspective of the "what is", is "what is" explanation, that means that the ontological elements are actually labeled. The important fact is that exactly what symbols are used to perform that labeling is unimportant. The nub of the observation is that the structure of the "what is", is "what is" explanation is the only structure which provides a basis for thinking about ontology in the absence of an epistemology. If we are interested in an exact scientific examination of the field of ontology, the "what is", is "what is" explanation is the only explanation of use to us. Anytime any element of that ontology is actually labeled, you are discussing epistemology, not ontology. It follows that, though one is free to discuss the problems which arise when one goes to actually label those ontological element, one can not actually label them without exiting the field of ontology. This is the mistake made by everyone: they exit the field at the first opportunity. Does that make any sense to you?
Well yeah, I think I know what you are saying. Us "exiting the field" is the same moment as when we think we now understand reality. For a child that idea is quite natural; we all thought we knew what reality was like (and it was exactly "like" how we perceived it) before we had recognized any serious problems in our worldview. Of course when you start realizing there are problems, there's still long way to go before you can appreciate how deep those problems really are...

And then you are faced with the problem that is; to discuss or to think about those problems you need to be thinking in terms of some "defined things" even when you understand these things are so merely because you have defined them so. (e.g. I am talking about the problem in terms of the cortex and other familiar naturalistic concepts)

And even when this is understood, whenever you are trying to figure out what someone else is trying to say, and especially when they are proposing a new paradigm, you are trying to figure out how to understand the concepts they are using. Since trying to understand someone is a case of trying to define (or refine) an epistemological solution, it is kind of the same as "trying to exit the field of ontology". Since this is naturally what we do all the time, I guess it's to be expected it is an issue when trying to explain a method for keeping one foot "in the field" of ontology.

-Anssi
 P: n/a Clearly above you say: ....there exists but one explanation which requires no epistemological structure: that is the "what is", is "what is" [A=A, Law of Identity] explanation.... Then you say: ....I am pointing out that every epistemological structure requires the Law of Identity [A=A] explanation.... So, you claim that while the [A=A, aka your "what is" is "what is"] explanation requires no epistemological structure (in fact, it is the only such explanation), all other possible explanations do have epistemological structure that require the [A=A] explanation...correct ? You also say this: Identity itself is the opening axiom to any epistemological structure. I do not agree. EXISTENCE ITSELF is the opening axiom to any epistemological structure. Identity comes latter in the presentation. A non-existent cannot have Identity.
P: 625
 Quote by Rade EXISTENCE ITSELF is the opening axiom to any epistemological structure. Identity comes latter in the presentation. A non-existent cannot have Identity.
Ah then, you must hold that Super Man exists! I will never comprehend you; you seem to have this compulsion to post before you think. How can you possibly discuss the existence of something which you can't identify? I am personally aware of a great many "epistemological structures" which do not require existence; what do you think the plot of a SF film is?
P: 249
Okay, back to that earlier post.

So first of all I understood we have established that "x, tau, t"-structure so to be able to represent reality. And had we made an attempt to define ontological elements, we could lay down some "presents" on that table accordingly.

 Quote by Doctordick One's expectation are no more than a "true/false" decision on any given present. In the "what is", is "what is" explanation, the method is no more than "look in the table". If a particular list is in the table the answer to your expectations is, "true". If it is not there, the answer is false. If we could really contain, in our minds, a complete collection of all "presents" going to make up our past, then that might be a useful view but that feat is somewhat beyond our mental capabilities. What we would really like is a procedure (think of it as a fundamental rule) which would accomplish that result for a any single ontological element.
And here we are looking at a method of "seeing what existed in the past" without having all the information about each and every moment we ever experienced? The "result" is simply, whether or not a single ontological element existed in a particular t?

 The first "invalid ontological elements" I would like to add, is a very simple set. As defined, all real presents consist of specific changes in my knowledge of valid ontological elements.
I have to proceed very carefully here so I can be sure I get the right idea.

"All real presents consists of specific changes in my knowledge of valid ontological elements", what does this mean? I thought we represented presents in terms of "what exists in each present", as oppose to what has changed (since previous present?). Or are you just saying that because we can see what has changed between presents if we have information about what existed at each moment?

 I have already eluded to the fact that I am using numerical labels because I can then talk about that "method of obtaining one's expectations" as a mathematical function. The "true/false" can be seen as a "one/zero" dichotomy and I am using numerical labels for that "known knowledge" (those specific "valid ontological elements" which constitute the "reality" of any given "present") so the method is a mathematical function: i.e., it transforms one set of numbers into a second set (you give me a set of numbers which could possibly be a real "present" and that "mathematical function" returns either a one or a zero (depending upon whether or not that collection of numbers is in that table of my "what is", is "what is" explanation.
"It transforms one set of numbers into a second set of numbers"; what does this second set represent? Or do you refer to that "1" or "0" (true or false) as the "second set"?
And so does this function return "1" if the specific set is found in any "present" in the past?

I'm getting really confused when reading the rest of the post... I'm trying to proceed through your post without understanding the reason for almost any manipulation of those ontological elements, hoping things would clear up, but my head is filled with questions. What I'm wondering now is; if we first have some kind of partially filled "x, tau, t"-table, how could it contain knowledge about the un-filled parts? I must be too far off the mark again to be able to make any sense out of this...

I figured you said there exists a function that would yield the complete table, if we just give it... what? Partial table?

-Anssi
P: n/a
 Quote by Doctordick Ah then, you must hold that Super Man exists! ....I am personally aware of a great many "epistemological structures" which do not require existence; what do you think the plot of a SF film is?
Well, lets see, the "plot" of a SF film is a thing that exists.
And Super Man is of course nothing more than the imagination of the human mind forming union of two concepts "man", (the reality that humans do exist) and "super" (implied as supernatural which may exist somewhere but by definition is outside science). It seems clear Dr.D., when you claim ... Ah then, you must hold that Super Man exists !...that you do not agree with logical conclusion that man's imagination is nothing more than the ability to rearrange the things (your valid ontological elements) he has observed in reality. If this claim is false, then provide examples of things you imagine that are not a rearrangement of some aspect of reality. There are no epistemological structures that do not require first some existence that you wish to acquire knowledge of--to claim as you do is the same as saying you have the ability to acquire knowledge of no"thing". When your imagine Super Man, you "know" he does not exist, imagination is a sense of the "what if ?"--speculation, not a road to knowledge.
P: n/a
 Quote by Rade Well, lets see, the "plot" of a SF film is a thing that exists.
I think Doctordick was saying that even things that do not exist can have explanations, therefore not every "epistemological structure" must necessarily refer to some ontology.

 There are no epistemological structures that do not require first some existence that you wish to acquire knowledge of--to claim as you do is the same as saying you have the ability to acquire knowledge of no"thing"
This is obviously wrong, but it might be difficult for me to explain why. Self-consistent logical structures do not need to refer to any"thing" but themselves. For instance:

a = b
b = c
c = d

That is an epistemological structure, on which we can even do "science" to discover that a = d.
P: 625
Anssi, it is certainly possible that you understand what I have presented but I get the strong feeling that your understanding is just a little askew; just enough to lead to bothersome complications. I think one of the problems here is that your expectations are more complex than what I am presenting: i.e., you reading things in there which are not there. This leads to subtle misinterpretations of what I say which may tend to lead you astray. Perhaps a quick and dirty presentation of the central issues would be helpful.

As I said above, the "what is", is "what is" explanation is the only explanation which does not require an epistemological construct. When I defined an explanation as a method of generating your expectations, I had in mind the concept of yielding the probability which would describe your expectations that a particular state was to be expected. Of course, the "what is", is "what is" explanation yields only zero for any state not actually in the basis of that explanation (i.e., what is known or thought to be known). Thus it is that "the method" is, "look at the table of 'what is' which you have to work with. (Again, I am working in the abstract so that the great extent of that table is not an issue.)

I think you understand that the symbols used to refer to the ontological elements of the "what is", is "what is" explanation are immaterial so that I can use numerical reference labels. Since the explanation yields a number (the probability of a specific state) and the specific state is described by a set of numbers, it follows that, from this perspective, any explanation is fundamentally a mathematical function. The "what is", is "what is" table is a representation of that function for those specific instances which are known. Any flaw-free explanation must also yield exactly those points (they represent the information the explanation is to explain).

Thus it is that the only difference between the desired explanation and the "what is", is "what is" explanation is that the desired explanation yields expectations for states not in the known set (i.e., it is capable of making predictions for the future). Thus it is that any explanation constitutes a mathematical function which fits the points established by the "what is", is "what is" explanation and, in addition, yields values for points not in that set. What all scientists are looking for, are the simplest relationships which fulfill that requirement.

This is a point fitting problem: i.e., one is looking for a mathematical function which fits the entire collection of points displayed in that table. As anyone who has studied mathematics understands, there exist an infinite number of algorithms which will fit any finite set of numbers. That is why the issue of "simplest" arises. Now one man's "simple" is often another's "complex" so we should leave the issue open and consider only the consequences of fundamental constraints on the possibilities.
 Quote by AnssiH So first of all I understood we have established that "x, tau, t"-structure so to be able to represent reality.
Slightly askew of what I was describing; what this structure is to represent is "what we think we know". Reality has been defined to be "a valid ontology". What we know of reality is only a part of that "valid ontology" (there may exist ontological elements of which we are unaware and they are not in our "data base") and, in addition, you must keep in mind that there exists absolutely no way of determining whether or not a particular ontological element we think we know is valid or not. Thus it is that I find the phrase "to represent reality" to be somewhat misleading. This can easily lead to sloppy thinking and is best avoided.

There is also a second issue which must be kept in mind: the (x, tau, t) representation is being designed to represent the "valid ontological elements" we know and, as such, the difference between valid and invalid elements must be kept in mind during the analysis of that design. Note that I earlier commented that we can ignore the existence of invalid elements within the actual data being represented as any acceptable explanation must explain all the data which certainly must include the valid components (we are, after all, looking for a mathematical function which fits "all" the known points).
 Quote by AnssiH And had we made an attempt to define ontological elements, we could lay down some "presents" on that table accordingly.
Making an attempt to define ontological elements has almost nothing to do with what is being represented here (i.e., with the logic of the representation itself) as defining the ontological elements is essentially no more than setting down a specific set of (x, tau, t) labels for each element. The representation is a set of points in an (x, tau, t) Euclidean space. By my definition of the t index, the collection of points (which I have chosen to represent as B) with identical "t" indices are representations of a specific present. It follows that the representation itself has time (as I have defined it) embedded in the representation. Time is nothing more or less than the t axis.
 Quote by Doctordick One's expectation with regard to "known information" are no more than a "true/false" decision on any given present. In the "what is", is "what is" explanation, the method is no more than "look in the table". If a particular B(t) is in the table the answer to your expectations is, "true". If it is not there, the answer is false.
Here I am speaking of the representation itself as an abstract structure; the table (which represents the "what is", is "what is" would, by definition, include all of the information known to us (our entire personal past so to speak). But represented in a totally abstract form.
 Quote by AnssiH And here we are looking at a method of "seeing what existed in the past" without having all the information about each and every moment we ever experienced? The "result" is simply, whether or not a single ontological element existed in a particular t?
No, the structure is designed to represent "each and every moment we ever experienced". My next comment was to point out that, if we did indeed have the mental capability to actually construct and record that table (as an information base we could consciously consult) the idea of using such a thing might be useful. Don't take that comment as anything more than a mere comment on the circumstance. As I said, that feat is clearly beyond our mental capabilities and it would be much more useful to have some sort of rule which would tell you if a particular B(t) existed in the table. I am doing no more than pointing in a direction which would yield what I would think of as "a useful explanation"; useful in the sense that we would prefer a rule which would not exceed our mental capabilities.
 Quote by Doctordick What we would really like is a procedure (think of it as a fundamental rule) which would accomplish that result for a any single ontological element.
I tried to prepare you for this perspective when I commented on that post where I had asked the question, "How do you tell the difference between an electron and a Volkswagen?". As I said then, you will find my answer a few posts down from there. The correct answer is the labels, "Volkswagen" and "electron", presume a great quantity of information about the rest of the universe is either understood or unimportant. Identification is itself a statement of what will be taken as valid associated acceptable criteria. In other words, we are talking about a single ontological element (or an object, which I earlier defined to be a collection of ontological elements) of the set B(t) where the rest of the elements of B(t) are either unimportant or known.

I might comment that, as the future is fundamentally unknown, "the rest of the elements are known" is the assumption that they either won't be different or the difference is predicted. Another way to see this is to realize that the behavior of the significant element is based on the presumption that the behavior of the associated criteria is correctly understood. All this is just buried in assumptions too voluminous to even discuss. If we are going to be "exact" we need to avoid all these assumptions.
 Quote by AnssiH And here we are looking at a method of "seeing what existed in the past" without having all the information about each and every moment we ever experienced? The "result" is simply, whether or not a single ontological element existed in a particular t?
In a sense yes; but certainly not clear the way you put it. What I am describing is a rule which would yield the existence of a single specific ontological element in that incomprehensible table. First, remember that we are talking about what we would like "a useful explanation" to provide which means we are talking about a useful epistemological construct (i.e., a specific set of labels have been introduced in that "what is", is "what is" explanation). That means that we would like to have a rule which would yield the (x, tau) indices in our (x, tau, t) representation (those different ontological elements in that representation) which are going to be regarded as the same ontological element in that epistemological construct.

Or, to put it a little simpler, we would like a rule which would give us the appropriate (x, tau) indices as a function of time given that all the other points in that B(t) are known (or unimportant, which is really the same thing). This is essentially what any rule discovered by science tells us about the behavior of things. It is presumed that the rest of the universe is either unimportant or has its impact embedded in the rule: the rules of science talk about the behavior of objects (how specific identified entities behave).
 Quote by AnssiH I have to proceed very carefully here so I can be sure I get the right idea.
The proposed representation of the "what is", is "what is" explanation is essentially identical to the common Newtonian representation of reality (i.e., a space "x" coordinate and a time "t" coordinate) except that it is neither three dimensional or continuous (Newtonian "time lines" constitute a presumption that these points are the same entity) and no "measure" of any kind has been introduced (neither in the space or time axes). Sort of, "the actual facts we have to explain" are being represented as collections of known points in a (x, tau, t) space.
 Quote by AnssiH Or are you just saying that because we can see what has changed between presents if we have information about what existed at each moment?
If there has been no change, how do you know the "t" index of the referenced ontological element should be different? How do you know you are talking about a different "time"?
 Quote by AnssiH And so does this function return "1" if the specific set is found in any "present" in the past?
In this case, your use of the word "any" worries me. The "what is", is "what is" explanation has been laid out as a table of indices B(t) which describes that set of points in the (x, tau, space) which represents ontologically recognizable cases of what you think you know (the basis of your future epistemological solution). The table provides you with the set of answers to the question, does the specific set of points, B(t) exist in that table? B(t) can be seen as a set of numbers and the answer can be seen as either a one or a zero representing "yes" and "no". Thus, your expectations concerning "what you think you know" can be seen as a mathematical function: i.e., the function yields the probability that a specific "present" (annotated as B(t) ) is a valid entry in that "what is", is "what is" table of what you know.

Now, an acceptable scientifically usable explanation has to go a bit further. If it makes no predictions, it is a pretty worthless explanation. What that is essentially saying is that the scientifically usable explanation must yield the probability that a specific "present" ;not in that "what is", is "what is" table of what you think you know; will turn up as an acceptable entry via a change in your past (what you know or what you think you know): i.e., the future.

Fundamentally, this is a point fitting problem and it is well known that there are an infinite number of functions which will fit a finite number of points. Which function you choose to "believe" valid (your epistemological theory) must satisfy two very important constraints: first, it must agree with your knowledge of the past and second, it needs to be simple enough to mentally comprehend. Those two constraints are the cause of the underlying need for compartmentalization. Since this presentation is an abstract analysis of ontological constraints and not concerned with the complexity of epistemological solutions, compartmentalization is not a pertinent factor.
 Quote by AnssiH What I'm wondering now is; if we first have some kind of partially filled "x, tau, t"-table, how could it contain knowledge about the un-filled parts?
It can't! But you must see that any table (the actual set of ontological events our epistemological solution must explain) is essentially incomplete: i.e., we are not all knowing and the future will bring forth entries for that table which we don't currently have. What we would like to have is a rule which would tell us what those entries should be. Now that "rule" might be wrong but there is one thing we know for sure, any valid rule must yield the entries for the table which we already have: i.e., if our expectations for entries not in the table are to be given by some function, that function must first yield, exactly, the entries representing what we know (or think we know). If it doesn't then it is either the wrong "function" or something we thought we knew was wrong: i.e., the "theoretical epistemological solution represented by that ontology together with that "function" is wrong. The fundamental issue here is normally referred to as "induction" and there is no logical defense of induction other than, "it's something I understand and, gee it seems to work"
 Quote by AnssiH I figured you said there exists a function that would yield the complete table, if we just give it... what? Partial table?
Not the complete table, but rather, our "expectations" for the entries to the table; a subtly different statement. The idea that "there exists a function" which would, forever, yield the complete table, is equivalent to saying that the complete universe is a knowable thing. That there exists a function which yields a complete table (for the known past) at this moment, is a fact; there are, in fact, an infinite number of functions which satisfy that requirement. The problem is that most all of them are far to complex to even consider as usable representations of reality. But that is not my concern as I have no interest in developing an epistemological solution; what I am concerned about are the constraints on the fundamental behavior of ontological elements in any epistemological solution, a very different issue.
 Quote by nabuco I think Doctordick was saying that even things that do not exist can have explanations, therefore not every "epistemological structure" must necessarily refer to some ontology.
I would have said, "some valid ontology". Otherwise, I think your comment is accurate. Perhaps you can talk a little sense into Rade. My major complaint is that standard languages are chock full of vague definitions and these lead to misunderstandings. I am afraid Rade's central purpose is to accent these misunderstandings and that serves no purpose except confusion.

I hope I have not confused any of you further -- Dick
P: 249
 Quote by Doctordick Anssi, it is certainly possible that you understand what I have presented but I get the strong feeling that your understanding is just a little askew
Me too! :) I basically know what this is about, but I am struggling with some important details regarding how you handle the tables to a useful end.

 As I said above, the "what is", is "what is" explanation is the only explanation which does not require an epistemological construct. When I defined an explanation as a method of generating your expectations, I had in mind the concept of yielding the probability which would describe your expectations that a particular state was to be expected.
i.e. that a particular state that occurred in some moment in the past was to be expected according to other "presents" around it?

The "explanation" can be seen as a mathematical function that could be used to transform one x,tau-present to another present?

 I think you understand that the symbols used to refer to the ontological elements of the "what is", is "what is" explanation are immaterial so that I can use numerical reference labels. Since the explanation yields a number (the probability of a specific state) and the specific state is described by a set of numbers, it follows that, from this perspective, any explanation is fundamentally a mathematical function. The "what is", is "what is" table is a representation of that function for those specific instances which are known. Any flaw-free explanation must also yield exactly those points (they represent the information the explanation is to explain).
i.e. we are looking for a function that would produce the changes in our known past? An infinite amount of such functions exists, but most are terribly complex, and that is why we are looking for a simplest such function? So it is not that different from traditional theoretical physics, except we are trying to keep the elements of reality undefined? Even then, we need to try and define some things before we can build any sort of x, tau, t-table? Is this correct?

 Thus it is that the only difference between the desired explanation and the "what is", is "what is" explanation is that the desired explanation yields expectations for states not in the known set (i.e., it is capable of making predictions for the future). Thus it is that any explanation constitutes a mathematical function which fits the points established by the "what is", is "what is" explanation and, in addition, yields values for points not in that set. What all scientists are looking for, are the simplest relationships which fulfill that requirement.
Yeah ok, this sounds like it perhaps answers what I just asked... I think :)

 This is a point fitting problem: i.e., one is looking for a mathematical function which fits the entire collection of points displayed in that table. As anyone who has studied mathematics understands, there exist an infinite number of algorithms which will fit any finite set of numbers. That is why the issue of "simplest" arises. Now one man's "simple" is often another's "complex" so we should leave the issue open and consider only the consequences of fundamental constraints on the possibilities.
Yup.

I've also been wondering how should one express something like, say, a definition for "space" in the "x, tau, t"-table? Is it about identifying space in different manners? Hmmm...

Quote by Doctordick
 Quote by AnssiH So first of all I understood we have established that "x, tau, t"-structure so to be able to represent reality.
Slightly askew of what I was describing; what this structure is to represent is "what we think we know". Reality has been defined to be "a valid ontology". What we know of reality is only a part of that "valid ontology" (there may exist ontological elements of which we are unaware and they are not in our "data base") and, in addition, you must keep in mind that there exists absolutely no way of determining whether or not a particular ontological element we think we know is valid or not. Thus it is that I find the phrase "to represent reality" to be somewhat misleading. This can easily lead to sloppy thinking and is best avoided.
True.

 There is also a second issue which must be kept in mind: the (x, tau, t) representation is being designed to represent the "valid ontological elements" we know and, as such, the difference between valid and invalid elements must be kept in mind during the analysis of that design. Note that I earlier commented that we can ignore the existence of invalid elements within the actual data being represented as any acceptable explanation must explain all the data which certainly must include the valid components (we are, after all, looking for a mathematical function which fits "all" the known points).
Hmmm... here "invalid elements" refers to elements we think exists but are merely artificial parts in our worldview? As oppose to the elements you added arbitrarily to the "x, tau, t"-tables in post #398?

 And had we made an attempt to define ontological elements, we could lay down some "presents" on that table accordingly.
Making an attempt to define ontological elements has almost nothing to do with what is being represented here (i.e., with the logic of the representation itself) as defining the ontological elements is essentially no more than setting down a specific set of (x, tau, t) labels for each element.
Yup, in other words, we have to have attempted to make some definitions before we can have any filled "x, tau, t"-table in our hands, right? That's what I think I said; as soon as we have made an attempt to define ontological elements, we can lay down some "presents" on the table according to our definitions, but not before? Even if these labels are taken as abstract references to "possible ontological elements", we can't label anything until we have assumed it is a "thing"?

I'm being pressed for time, so I'll continue from here soon...

-Anssi
P: 249
Quote by Doctordick
 And here we are looking at a method of "seeing what existed in the past" without having all the information about each and every moment we ever experienced?
No, the structure is designed to represent "each and every moment we ever experienced". My next comment was to point out that, if we did indeed have the mental capability to actually construct and record that table (as an information base we could consciously consult) the idea of using such a thing might be useful. Don't take that comment as anything more than a mere comment on the circumstance. As I said, that feat is clearly beyond our mental capabilities and it would be much more useful to have some sort of rule which would tell you if a particular B(t) existed in the table. I am doing no more than pointing in a direction which would yield what I would think of as "a useful explanation"; useful in the sense that we would prefer a rule which would not exceed our mental capabilities.
I tried to prepare you for this perspective when I commented on that post where I had asked the question, "How do you tell the difference between an electron and a Volkswagen?". As I said then, you will find my answer a few posts down from there. The correct answer is the labels, "Volkswagen" and "electron", presume a great quantity of information about the rest of the universe is either understood or unimportant.
Yup... So this is essentially the same as saying, we define objects by observing properties (functions/behaviour)? The difference between an electron and a volkswagen, as they exist in our worldview, is how we have defined them; how they relate to other things in our worldview, or how they behave. When we observe something (an electron or a volkswagen), it is their their behaviour that we observe and recognize them as such (walks like a duck...).

 Identification is itself a statement of what will be taken as valid associated acceptable criteria. In other words, we are talking about a single ontological element (or an object, which I earlier defined to be a collection of ontological elements) of the set B(t) where the rest of the elements of B(t) are either unimportant or known.
So, when you say "What we would really like is a procedure (think of it as a fundamental rule) which would accomplish that result for a any single ontological element.", is this about finding a mathematical function that would explain the "journey" (the behaviour) of a single ontological element through a series of t's? (I feel my assumptions are shaky... :)

 Or, to put it a little simpler, we would like a rule which would give us the appropriate (x, tau) indices as a function of time given that all the other points in that B(t) are known (or unimportant, which is really the same thing). This is essentially what any rule discovered by science tells us about the behavior of things. It is presumed that the rest of the universe is either unimportant or has its impact embedded in the rule: the rules of science talk about the behavior of objects (how specific identified entities behave). The proposed representation of the "what is", is "what is" explanation is essentially identical to the common Newtonian representation of reality (i.e., a space "x" coordinate and a time "t" coordinate) except that it is neither three dimensional or continuous (Newtonian "time lines" constitute a presumption that these points are the same entity) and no "measure" of any kind has been introduced (neither in the space or time axes).
Yeah okay, this is starting to sound clearer and clearer. As we are laying down "pasts" in the manner you are proposing, we can start forming mathematical functions that explain the changes between presents. And a function that explains all our past in this manner, can be considered valid.

With a small extra assumption one can assume it also predicts the future, much like newtonian mechanics can be used to make predictions?

 And so does this function return "1" if the specific set is found in any "present" in the past?
In this case, your use of the word "any" worries me.
Yup, I clearly had picked it up wrong.

 Fundamentally, this is a point fitting problem and it is well known that there are an infinite number of functions which will fit a finite number of points. Which function you choose to "believe" valid (your epistemological theory) must satisfy two very important constraints: first, it must agree with your knowledge of the past and second, it needs to be simple enough to mentally comprehend.
Yup! I think I now have a better idea about what you are saying, and I can again return to that old post... Next time!

-Anssi
P: 625
Anssi,

I don't know that it is beneficial to try to understand my previous posts as they are cast in what I thought you knew at the time. Since this could be in error, trying to understand those posts could be counter productive. Perhaps you should first read the following carefully.

I am beginning to suspect that your major problem is that you are trying to figure out how this attack is going to help you construct valid epistemological solutions to understanding the universe. It isn't (or at least is not designed to do such a thing); as I have tried to make clear, any useful solution is "is just buried in assumptions too voluminous to even discuss". The issue is, "If we are going to be "exact" we need to avoid all these assumptions". On the other hand, if we avoid these assumptions, the correct solution is going to be so out of reach as it is guaranteed unachievable (beyond our ability to comprehend).

That is why I keep harping on the issue of not trying to find a valid epistemological solution: it is fundamentally an unachievable goal. What I am trying to do is to present to you an abstract "exact" representation of the problem; which is an achievable goal (i.e., the representation is achievable, not the solution). I have laid out the representation as a "what is", is "what is" explanation because that structure is easily understood (as a representation, not as a real usable entity).

All I am doing is representing "what we know" (or think we know) as points in a (x, tau, t) space. A table of those points is capable of representing any knowledge of any kind. That is all there is to it! In doing so I defined two very important indices: "x" and "t". The index "x" is there to express "difference" (different "x" means "different ontological element") and the index "t" is there to express "difference in what we know" (different "t" means "a change in our knowledge"). The index "tau" is only there because representation as points in an index space is incapable of specifying multiple occurrences of the same ontological element (an essential part of any "usable" explanation).
 Quote by AnssiH Yup... So this is essentially the same as saying, we define objects by observing properties (functions/behaviour)?
No, not exactly. We define objects by the circumstance within which we find them. If the surrounding circumstance is not the certifying circumstance for that object, then we are looking at something else. The fundamental issue is that B(t) for all the other significant entities is "known". There is a subtlety here which is very important and much neglected. When we discover some familiar behavior outside the certifying circumstance, we call it a metaphor. The issue here is possibly not as important to understanding my perspective as I think but it seems to me that it is very important to recognize that, whenever we speak of something specific, we are actually presuming the surrounding circumstance is clearly understood.
 Quote by AnssiH So, when you say "What we would really like is a procedure (think of it as a fundamental rule) which would accomplish that result for a any single ontological element.", is this about finding a mathematical function that would explain the "journey" (the behavior) of a single ontological element through a series of t's? (I feel my assumptions are shaky... :)
Yes; that is what I am saying ordinary useful explanations accomplish (with regard to either "single ontological elements" or collections of such elements where internal behavior of the collection can be neglected: i.e., objects as I have defined them).
 Quote by AnssiH Yeah okay, this is starting to sound clearer and clearer. As we are laying down "pasts" in the manner you are proposing, we can start forming mathematical functions that explain the changes between presents. And a function that explains all our past in this manner, can be considered valid.
Again, I think your understanding is a little askew of what I am saying. All I am saying is that "your expectations" (since they can be seen as a number associated with each specific B(t) which itself is expressed as a set of numbers) can be seen as a mathematical function. Since any flaw free explanation can be expressed as a specific "what is", is "what is" explanation (i.e., little more than a specific set of labels), all explanations can be seen as mathematical functions which must yield those true/false results for that table which represents what "we think we know" (since we are free to symbolize the elements any way we choose). It would be more appropriate to say that any function which does not yield all of our past must be considered "invalid" (i.e., it is most definitely flawed).

You must be careful to understand that the function is to produce "your expectations" and, "your expectations" are not necessarily what actually happened. For example, the "what is", is "what is" explanation yields the expectation for a specific B(t) (given that all B(t) for lesser values of t are known) is simply, "any B is equally possible" (and the probably of "one of any" is zero since the number of possibilities for "any" is infinite). So, the "what is", is "what is" explanation yields exactly the correct answer for the past (it is flaw free) but fails as a "useful" explanation as it tells you utterly nothing about the future (or, for that matter, any B(t) not in the table of what you know).
 Quote by AnssiH With a small extra assumption one can assume it also predicts the future, much like Newtonian mechanics can be used to make predictions?
One can make no such assumption! The future is totally undefined and no prediction can be logically defended. On the other hand, our expectations are another matter. This is where induction plays a roll. It is also why I brought up that "Volkswagen" vs "electron" issue. If some part of the future is known then expectations for associated events can be predicted (by comparison with statistics of the past). When it is the future, portions of it may be known by elimination: i.e., if the surrounding circumstance is not the certifying circumstance for the event of interest, the event of interest didn't occur and no expectations exist. On the other hand, if the surrounding circumstances are the certifying circumstance, your expectations will be that the event of interest will occur. This is the very issue of induction and you need to understand the implications (maybe not now, but later anyway).

For the moment, I think your real difficulty is that you are trying to read more into what I have said than I have said.

Looking to hear from you -- Dick
P: 249
 Quote by Doctordick Anssi, I don't know that it is beneficial to try to understand my previous posts as they are cast in what I thought you knew at the time. Since this could be in error, trying to understand those posts could be counter productive. Perhaps you should first read the following carefully. I am beginning to suspect that your major problem is that you are trying to figure out how this attack is going to help you construct valid epistemological solutions to understanding the universe. It isn't (or at least is not designed to do such a thing); as I have tried to make clear, any useful solution is "is just buried in assumptions too voluminous to even discuss". The issue is, "If we are going to be "exact" we need to avoid all these assumptions". On the other hand, if we avoid these assumptions, the correct solution is going to be so out of reach as it is guaranteed unachievable (beyond our ability to comprehend).
Well, what I've gathered before this presentation is that a large number of valid epistemological solutions are bound to exists; ones that express different ontological elements but are merely semantically different, and produce essentially the same predictions for reality (only the predictions too are expressed in those different ontological elements)

What you are saying above, I reckon, is the same thing. Any valid solution hinges on a some set of undefendable assumptions, and staying on the objective ground is achieved only by not doing those assumptions, and to achieve this you are expressing this "x, tau, t"-table.

And I've gathered that any specific (filled) "x, tau, t"-table is a epistemological solution (valid or invalid), since some assumptions have been made so to be able to fill it.

I didn't assume - while writing the previous post - that this sort of framework is meant to be something that could tell us what ontological elements really exist (since I find the whole question meaningless and confused one), but I did assume it is good for finding internally coherent solutions (keeping in mind each is only a solution, not the solution). Are these false assumptions?

 That is why I keep harping on the issue of not trying to find a valid epistemological solution: it is fundamentally an unachievable goal.
Yeah, that's what I would hope people would understand, apparently there are many ways to arrive to this conclusion.

 What I am trying to do is to present to you an abstract "exact" representation of the problem; which is an achievable goal (i.e., the representation is achievable, not the solution). I have laid out the representation as a "what is", is "what is" explanation because that structure is easily understood (as a representation, not as a real usable entity).
Yup, I think I understand this, but then I may have made some wrong assumptions that nevertheless yield sensical interpretation of what you are saying ;)

One thing I've been wondering though, perhaps you can try and explain the role of symmetry again. Was the point of that simply that it is "differences" that give us any ground for our attempts to classify ontological elements?

 No, not exactly. We define objects by the circumstance within which we find them. If the surrounding circumstance is not the certifying circumstance for that object, then we are looking at something else. The fundamental issue is that B(t) for all the other significant entities is "known". There is a subtlety here which is very important and much neglected. When we discover some familiar behavior outside the certifying circumstance, we call it a metaphor. The issue here is possibly not as important to understanding my perspective as I think but it seems to me that it is very important to recognize that, whenever we speak of something specific, we are actually presuming the surrounding circumstance is clearly understood.
I'm wondering if there are some important details in this description that I am missing. It sounds to me like a semantically different way of saying that we define(classify) objects by observing behaviour, or patterns, or however I would wish to express the situation, that would nevertheless be just a (necessarily) vague picture painted with semantical concepts (pattern, behaviour, etc...)

Basically it seems to make sense to me. As long as we cannot say in any objective sense there exists some thing X, we are merely conceptualizing reality into some set of components, and what allows us to do that, can be in my opinion expressed equally well as "surrounding circumstances", or "stable patterns", as long as one understands the necessary weaknesses of these descriptions... (surrounding circumistances of "what"? or "stable in what sense?")

Damn it's tricky to use natural language to discuss these issues :)

 Again, I think your understanding is a little askew of what I am saying. All I am saying is that "your expectations" (since they can be seen as a number associated with each specific B(t) which itself is expressed as a set of numbers) can be seen as a mathematical function. Since any flaw free explanation can be expressed as a specific "what is", is "what is" explanation (i.e., little more than a specific set of labels), all explanations can be seen as mathematical functions which must yield those true/false results for that table which represents what "we think we know" (since we are free to symbolize the elements any way we choose). It would be more appropriate to say that any function which does not yield all of our past must be considered "invalid" (i.e., it is most definitely flawed).
Yeah I agree. Natural language just keeps tricking me :)

 You must be careful to understand that the function is to produce "your expectations" and, "your expectations" are not necessarily what actually happened. For example, the "what is", is "what is" explanation yields the expectation for a specific B(t) (given that all B(t) for lesser values of t are known) is simply, "any B is equally possible" (and the probably of "one of any" is zero since the number of possibilities for "any" is infinite). So, the "what is", is "what is" explanation yields exactly the correct answer for the past (it is flaw free) but fails as a "useful" explanation as it tells you utterly nothing about the future (or, for that matter, any B(t) not in the table of what you know).
So whenever you are referring to the "what is, is what is" explanation, you are just referring to the table of known past, but not any of the assumptions that one has made about the behaviour of the elements marked down in that table?

But in order to fill any table, you must have made some assumptions regarding the identity of those elements, right? (Even though you have made these assumptions knowing well that they are undefendable) Hmmm, or is it possible to mark down mere differences? Hmmmm

 With a small extra assumption one can assume it also predicts the future, much like Newtonian mechanics can be used to make predictions?
One can make no such assumption! The future is totally undefined and no prediction can be logically defended. On the other hand, our expectations are another matter. This is where induction plays a roll.
Yeah. Is my assertion valid if I reiterate that by "prediction" I don't mean explicitly knowing the future, but merely having some anticipation for it... I tend to use this terminology because of the meaning "prediction" has in the context of an intelligent organism trying to make useful predictions about the future (useful for survival). That is, our predictions fail all the time, and they are always based on undefendable set of assumptions. Yes?

 It is also why I brought up that "Volkswagen" vs "electron" issue. If some part of the future is known then expectations for associated events can be predicted (by comparison with statistics of the past).
I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say "...part of the future is known..."? If we have "certain expectations" for some part of future (by having made some set of "undefendable assumptions")

 When it is the future, portions of it may be known by elimination: i.e., if the surrounding circumstance is not the certifying circumstance for the event of interest, the event of interest didn't occur and no expectations exist. On the other hand, if the surrounding circumstances are the certifying circumstance, your expectations will be that the event of interest will occur. This is the very issue of induction and you need to understand the implications (maybe not now, but later anyway). For the moment, I think your real difficulty is that you are trying to read more into what I have said than I have said.
Yeah, probably... And the complications introduced by natural language :)

-Anssi
P: 625
Hi again Anssi,

I have been trying to sculpt with "Poser" and, so far, not being very successful; but I am learning things. I was surprised to find your post so soon when I looked this evening. And I agree with you whole heartedly; it is quite easy to become confounded by the complications introduced by natural language. That is exactly why I continue to insist that you make no attempts to find epistemological solutions consistent with my representation. What I am saying is that my representation is universal in that absolutely any explanation can be cast in exactly the form of that "what is", is "what is" table.

Essentially, if there exists a workable explanation of anything, any attempt to understand that explanation amounts to exactly the same problem as understanding anything else: i.e., all of the knowledge required to understand that explanation can be expressed in exactly the same model (as points in a (x, tau, t) space).
 Quote by AnssiH Well, what I've gathered before this presentation is that a large number of valid epistemological solutions are bound to exists
Again, there is no reason to make that assumption; it is entirely possible that only one exists. The real issue here is that we do not have the power to settle that question and even consideration of it is counter productive as it distracts us from the serious problem of maintaining objectivity. And don't be upset by that comment as I am as guilty of being drawn into unproductive side issues as is anyone here.
 Quote by AnssiH What you are saying above, I reckon, is the same thing. Any valid solution hinges on a some set of undefendable assumptions, and staying on the objective ground is achieved only by not doing those assumptions, and to achieve this you are expressing this "x, tau, t"-table.
Essentially, yes!
 Quote by AnssiH And I've gathered that any specific (filled) "x, tau, t"-table is a epistemological solution (valid or invalid), since some assumptions have been made so to be able to fill it.
The actual answer to this question is, "maybe, maybe not". You sort of have the horse on the wrong side of the cart. The real issue is that the table cannot represent a flaw free epistemological solution without being specifically filled out as, if the table does not exist, the explanation cannot be checked against it. These issues once again get hairy because real epistemological solutions (theories) make both assumptions about what exists and assumptions about things which exist not being important. The only important fact here is the fact that an epistemological argument itself consists of a set of symbols which can be expressed in exactly the same table we are discussing. The subtlety of this can get profound and we really ought not to be drawn off into that discussion. Please, let us put it off until I have presented my full model.

There are essentially three things I want to do with that "what is", is "what is" table before I get into the issue of symmetry. All three of these steps involve adding "invalid ontological elements". I claim this as a reasonable thing to do because all epistemological solutions do this kind of thing: i.e., they invent reasons for things to be the way they are and, if that invention allows them to explain things and, all results are consistent with the existence of those invented things, then there exists no reason to deny that invention. In particular, we have the fact that there exists no way to tell the difference between an invented ontological element and a valid ontological element. This is a freedom available in ontological constructs not available in epistemological constructs and I will eventually show you that it is exactly this freedom which allows one create a solution to the problem. But that will come later; for the moment, all I want is for you to allow these three steps and understand exactly what the three steps provide.

The first step involves the issue of "expectations" being a mathematical function of "what we think is known": i.e., P(B(t)), the probability of having the set B(t), is a function of that B(t) where B is a set of number pairs (x and tau indices). At the moment, this is a very strange mathematical function as the number of arguments changes with the index "t". I am afraid I have never heard of such a function from the mathematical community. However, in this case, the problem is easily eliminated; all one need do is propose a collection of "invalid ontological elements" to fill in the gap. So our "what is", is "what is" table now has the same number of entries for every "t" (we just don't know what they are).

You must understand that their existence is now a presumed fact and that our past includes not knowing exactly what references should be attached to them (other than the fact that they are seen occasionally at other times: i.e., they are members of some supposedly known B(t). If you happened to know a flaw free epistemological solution, you would know which occurrences went with that solution. But, as far as we are concerned, they are still undefined as we have no epistemological solutions; but at least the mathematical function which yields our expectations has the same number of arguments in every case.

The second set I wish to add has to do with the "t" index. If time is to be a communicable element of an epistemological solution then the value of that index must be deducible from the "what is", is "what is" table. That means that, given a particular set of (x, tau) indices supposedly defining a particular B in the table, it must be possible to deduce the appropriate index "t" to be attached to that set. Again, this is easily solved by adding "invalid ontological elements" (i.e., fictitious entries in the table which will establish every entry B as different from every other such entry). If you need a procedure for developing these entries, I will give you a specific procedure; however, there are clearly a number of different procedures which will accomplish this goal. The end product is a table where, given a specific B (a specific collection of (x, tau) indices) one can examine the table and, by elimination, discover what the t index had to be.

Analysis of this second set leads to the development of the third set. If I can make the index "t" recoverable from the "what is", is "what is" table then it is clear that the same procedure can make other indices recoverable. In particular, I am interested in recovering a specific "x" index, given that all the other indices defining a particular B(t) are known. Once again, it is easily shown that addition of fictitious entries in that table can make every B(t) different even if any specific "x" index is missing. This means that, given (n-1) of the n indices (remember, our first step was to make the number of indices in every B the same: i.e., after that is accomplished, n has a specific value and the second step merely increments that value whatever that value happens to be. But the net result is that, given those (n-1) indices, we can consult our table and immediately declare what the missing index had to be.

This means that the missing index can be seen as is a function of the other indices. Again, we may not know what that function is but we do know that the function must agree with our table. What this says is that there exists a mathematical function which will yield

$$(x,\tau)_n(t) = f((x,\tau)_1, (x,\tau)_2, \cdots, (x.\tau)_{n-1},t)$$

It follows that the function F defined by

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

is a statement of the general constraint which guarantees that the entries conform to the given table. That is to say, this procedure yields a result which guarantees that there exists a mathematical function, the roots of which are exactly the entries to our "what is", is "what is" table. Clearly, it would be nice to know the structure of that function. If you understand what I have just written (which is somewhat of a restatement of an earlier post) then, I will proceed to the issue of symmetry and how that concept further constrains the nature of the function which is to yield the probability of our expectations.
 Quote by AnssiH ... (since I find the whole question meaningless and confused one), but I did assume it is good for finding internally coherent solutions (keeping in mind each is only a solution, not the solution). Are these false assumptions?
Finding solutions is not the critical issue here; finding constraints on solutions is another matter and one which we are going to solve: i.e., rules of thumb which will clearly delineate a flawed solutions.
 Quote by AnssiH One thing I've been wondering though, perhaps you can try and explain the role of symmetry again. Was the point of that simply that it is "differences" that give us any ground for our attempts to classify ontological elements?
I will attack that issue as soon as you make it clear that you understand the reasons and the rationality of including the "invalid ontological elements" I have described above.
 Quote by AnssiH I'm wondering if there are some important details in this description that I am missing. It sounds to me like a semantically different way of saying that we define(classify) objects by observing behaviour, or patterns, or however I would wish to express the situation, that would nevertheless be just a (necessarily) vague picture painted with semantical concepts (pattern, behaviour, etc...)
The issue is that there are two important patterns here; first, the behavior of the "defined entity" and, second, the surrounding events which define that "defined entity". What a lot of people miss is the fact that surrounding events are a critical issue in identifying "defined entities". I really don't think you have a serious problem here as you have demonstrated a very analytical approach to your perspective. For the moment, I think these issues can be laid aside.
 Quote by AnssiH So whenever you are referring to the "what is, is what is" explanation, you are just referring to the table of known past, but not any of the assumptions that one has made about the behavior of the elements marked down in that table?
Exactly right. It is my overt intention to make no steps which place a constraint of any kind on the behavior of these elements.
 Quote by AnssiH But in order to fill any table, you must have made some assumptions regarding the identity of those elements, right? (Even though you have made these assumptions knowing well that they are undefendable) Hmmm, or is it possible to mark down mere differences? Hmmmm
Again, the answer is, "yes and no". Again, you are getting the horse behind the wagon (so to speak). I can certainly fill in the table (if I am careful) in a way which does not yield any direct epistemological solution but I certainly cannot have a solution in mind and fill out that table in a manner defending that solution which does not include some assumptions (and some "invalid ontological elements").
 Quote by AnssiH That is, our predictions fail all the time, and they are always based on undefendable set of assumptions. Yes?
Again, you are getting into subtle issues and I can show you that our predictions need not fail all the time; however, success is very closely related to magic: i.e., misdirection of attention.
 Quote by AnssiH I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say "...part of the future is known..."? If we have "certain expectations" for some part of future (by having made some set of "undefendable assumptions")
No, by defining the circumstance in such a way that success is guaranteed. As I said, it's magic and you have to understand the nature of magic. But please, don't worry about this for the time being. We can get back to it after you understand what I am talking about.

As you have said, "Damn it's tricky to use natural language to discuss these issues :) ." Let us go on; things will become clearer later.

Thanks for your attention -- Dick
P: n/a
Dr.D.--a question. When you made this statement above

 Quote by DOCTORDICK ...you must keep in mind that there exists absolutely no way of determining whether or not a particular ontological element we think we know is valid or not...
are you saying that there is absolutely no way for "you" to determine whether or not "you" (e.g., Dr.D. as an ontological element) are "valid" or not ? Thanks for clarification.
P: 249
 Quote by Doctordick I have been trying to sculpt with "Poser" and, so far, not being very successful; but I am learning things.
For serious sculpting, you definitely want to check out ZBrush;
http://www.pixologic.com/home.php

Thank you for restating the issues regarding the useful mathematical functions for "x,tau,t"-table. Now I don't have to keep jumping back to that old post that much :)

 The first step involves the issue of "expectations" being a mathematical function of "what we think is known": i.e., P(B(t)), the probability of having the set B(t), is a function of that B(t) where B is a set of number pairs (x and tau indices).
Hmmm... That way you put that; "the probability of having the set B(t) is a function of that B(t)" was so odd that I first suspected a typo... But reading back to the older posts and scratching my head a bit, perhaps you are saying essentially that it is possible to build a function which yields the probability that a given "present" (or portion of?) exists somewhere in an "incomplete past" which we are representing as an x,tau,t-table?

It is possible I am getting something topsy turvy, but it is very difficult to think of meaningful questions since my idea about this is still rather shaky... Perhaps partially because I am not sure where this is heading. You said earlier this is somewhat similar to newtonian mechanics, so I must assume that once we have built an "x,tay,t"-table, we have not only assumed what ontological elements existed at given moments, but also how they behave?
 At the moment, this is a very strange mathematical function as the number of arguments changes with the index "t". I am afraid I have never heard of such a function from the mathematical community. However, in this case, the problem is easily eliminated; all one need do is propose a collection of "invalid ontological elements" to fill in the gap. So our "what is", is "what is" table now has the same number of entries for every "t" (we just don't know what they are). You must understand that their existence is now a presumed fact and that our past includes not knowing exactly what references should be attached to them (other than the fact that they are seen occasionally at other times:
The text I emphasized in italics is clearly and important bit since you specifically said I must understand it... ...which is unfortunate because I don't :)
I understand you end up adding invalid (arbitrary?) elements on purpose so to make the mathematical functions easier to handle, but I don't understand why their existence is a presumed fact after you have specifically said they are invalid elements? Since this is so blatantly odd, I don't think you have made an error, but I must be getting some idea rather topsy turvy... :I

 i.e., they are members of some supposedly known B(t). If you happened to know a flaw free epistemological solution, you would know which occurrences went with that solution. But, as far as we are concerned, they are still undefined as we have no epistemological solutions; but at least the mathematical function which yields our expectations has the same number of arguments in every case. The second set I wish to add has to do with the "t" index. If time is to be a communicable element of an epistemological solution then the value of that index must be deducible from the "what is", is "what is" table. That means that, given a particular set of (x, tau) indices supposedly defining a particular B in the table, it must be possible to deduce the appropriate index "t" to be attached to that set. Again, this is easily solved by adding "invalid ontological elements" (i.e., fictitious entries in the table which will establish every entry B as different from every other such entry). If you need a procedure for developing these entries, I will give you a specific procedure; however, there are clearly a number of different procedures which will accomplish this goal. The end product is a table where, given a specific B (a specific collection of (x, tau) indices) one can examine the table and, by elimination, discover what the t index had to be.
This stuff about obtaining the t-index was something I was confused about earlier too, but thought it would get clarified further down the road.

I'm wondering what does it mean that there is an "appropriate index t" to be attached to some set. The t is just an arbitrary number isn't, it, since t was introduced just to be able to express a set of presents.

I do understand the need to add invalid elements so to make sure no two presents are identical, I just don't get what relevance the "t" value is going to have...

 Analysis of this second set leads to the development of the third set. If I can make the index "t" recoverable from the "what is", is "what is" table then it is clear that the same procedure can make other indices recoverable. In particular, I am interested in recovering a specific "x" index, given that all the other indices defining a particular B(t) are known. Once again, it is easily shown that addition of fictitious entries in that table can make every B(t) different even if any specific "x" index is missing. This means that, given (n-1) of the n indices (remember, our first step was to make the number of indices in every B the same: i.e., after that is accomplished, n has a specific value and the second step merely increments that value whatever that value happens to be. But the net result is that, given those (n-1) indices, we can consult our table and immediately declare what the missing index had to be. This means that the missing index can be seen as is a function of the other indices.
Hmm, does this have to do with the "surrounding circumstances" that you were talking about before? I'm wondering how the information about one missing index can be embedded to the other indices of that present... Especially when some of those elements are invalid elements we added on purpose (and thus arbitrary?)

This seemed to make more sense to me in the earlier post where you explained that there's a way to first find if a present (minus 1 element) exists on the "augmented table #2", and if it does, check what the missing element was from table #1 (just check the same t).

 Again, we may not know what that function is but we do know that the function must agree with our table. What this says is that there exists a mathematical function which will yield $$(x,\tau)_n(t) = f((x,\tau)_1, (x,\tau)_2, \cdots, (x.\tau)_{n-1},t)$$ It follows that the function F defined by $$F((x,\tau)_1,(x,\tau)_2, \cdots, (x,\tau)_n) = (x(t),\tau(t))_n - f((x,\tau)_1, (x,\tau)_2, \cdots, (x.\tau)_{n-1},t) = 0$$ is a statement of the general constraint which guarantees that the entries conform to the given table. That is to say, this procedure yields a result which guarantees that there exists a mathematical function, the roots of which are exactly the entries to our "what is", is "what is" table. Clearly, it would be nice to know the structure of that function. If you understand what I have just written (which is somewhat of a restatement of an earlier post) then, I will proceed to the issue of symmetry and how that concept further constrains the nature of the function which is to yield the probability of our expectations.
Clearly I don't... Hopefully you can figure out what I'm getting wrong ,and additionally, if you think it might be helpful in clarifying these issues too, please proceed to the next step also.

 Thanks for your attention -- Dick
Thank you for your patience :)

-Anssi
P: 249
 Quote by Rade Dr.D.--a question. When you made this statement above are you saying that there is absolutely no way for "you" to determine whether or not "you" (e.g., Dr.D. as an ontological element) are "valid" or not ? Thanks for clarification.
This is a discussion about ontology, so certainly the answer is that there is no way to tell if our "self" is an ontological element. Is there a dualistic "mind"-object, or is subejctive experience a phenomenon caused by the interaction of other elements that do not have by themselves a "mind".

So even when we say "I exist" or "this apple exists", it isn't meant to be an assertion about the ontological nature of those things. How they exist ontologically is a question about "what am I made of" (with obvious complications) or "what is the apple made of" (which is essentially what physics is attempting to answer... by defining ontological elements and their behaviour in such a sense that they explain the existence of that apple as we have observed it)

I hope this clarifies the issue. The wikipedia page about "ontology" seems like an okay overview as well.

-Anssi
P: n/a
 Quote by AnssiH ...So even when we say "I exist" or "this apple exists", it isn't meant to be an assertion about the ontological nature of those things. I hope this clarifies the issue... -Anssi
Thank you, Anssi. As I see it, it is the function of "ontology" (the study of being qua being ) to establish that there are metaphysical entities (such as Anssi) that have natures and interact with other entities,--it is the function of "science" to establish the specific nature of those entities and the laws of those interactions. So, if this is what you mean when you say "I exist" to yourself, then we are seeing eye to eye, if not, then I am sorry but I have no idea what you are saying about "ontology". Cordially, Rade.
 P: 6 Wholly smokes! Lots of replies, answers, theories, thoughts on this one! “Is Time Just an Illusion?” Is enduring something within you, an illusion? Have you spent any time in pain, emotional or likewise? I realize words like “Real”, and “Illusion” can be used to fit our own purpose. Just surfing the educated crowd here… toying with the idea of where all the 21st Century Philosophers are hanging out. (I'm sure they're here somewhere.) John
P: 249
Rade, I think I understand what you are trying to say, but it appears to me that the way you have defined "ontology" to yourself could little bit non-standard (and kind of meaningless too). This could be a source of great confusion. Let's see if I can give you a meaningful reply...

 Quote by Rade Thank you, Anssi. As I see it, it is the function of "ontology" (the study of being qua being ) to establish that there are metaphysical entities (such as Anssi) that have natures and interact with other entities,--
Since you gave "Anssi" as an example of a "metaphysical entity", I believe you are still referring to the fact that our "subjective experience exists".

That my subjective experience exists doesn't lead me to believe that I am a metaphysical entity. That would be so only in dualism and in idealism. In materialism the subjective experience is thought to be caused by the interaction of smaller entities that are thought to be "metaphysical" or "ontological" elements. -> It is not given that "Anssi" is a valid ontological element.

If on the other hand you regard any thing we have defined, as something that exists ontologically, this kind of defeats the purpose of the concept "ontology", because the whole reason why there is such a field as ontology is to ask what are things that exist even when we are not there to define them as such.

We need to make a distinction between something that exists in an everyday sense, and something that exists ontologically. When I say that a star constellation is not an ontological element, I am not suggesting I am a brain in a vat and the star constellation is only in my mind. I am suggesting it is completely arbitrary accident that we have given names to some groups of stars and call them constellations; that we define them as constellations does not change the nature of reality.

Fairly obvious when I am talking about constellations, but now you have to extrapolate that idea to other things we have names for. Apple, sand, your ankle, electrons. This is ontology. "Whatever you say a thing is, it isn't" = our words may represent reality, but they are not the reality itself, they are only referring to whatever entities we have classified reality into (and how we happen to understand those entities).

In the words of Alan Watts; "What we call things, facts, or events are after all no more than convenient units of perception, recognisable pegs for names, selected from the infinite multitude of lines and surfaces, colours and textures, spaces and densities which surround us. There is no more a fixed and final way of dividing these variations into things than of grouping the stars in constellations" ---Note though that the brain does not do its model of reality based on "lines, surfaces, colours, textures, spaces and densities", but these in themselves are "concepts" that have been formed as part of that mental model of reality; they are not ontological elements either.

That inlcudes what we call our "self"! The ontological question about the existence of "self" is IMO best understood when you turn the question into one about identity. What is your identity? In a materialistic sense, while you say you exist, the whole content of your experience is still just a certain physical state of the brain, and the state you were in yesterday is not with you anymore. There is no metaphysical identity to yourself that persists, and that poses no problems to the existence of subjective experience.

 it is the function of "science" to establish the specific nature of those entities and the laws of those interactions.
Well it's a two-way street between philosophy and science. In a pure objective form, the philosophy of science should be that it seeks to build valid models (prediction-wise) about reality, but it doesn't necessarily tell you if electrons really are metaphysical entities, or just some sort of persistent patterns (~portion of reality) we happen to call "electrons". I.e. we should regard scientific models as models. Perhaps easier example is that, even though certain models explain gravity as something caused by particles called "gravitons", it doesn't mean observing gravity proves gravitons exists.

Perhaps using E-prime would help here. It's english but all references to "being" removed -> instead of saying "electron is a particle and a wave", we'd say "Electrons behave partially like a wave and partially like a particle". (And when you explain what are "waves" and "particles" in E-prime, you see you can again only refer they are "like" some conception that you hope other people understand like you do)

This stuff gets really hairy when you get deeper into it, mainly because classifying reality (or any system) into things remains to be your only way to comprehend anything at all. That's the way we work.

Hmmm, looks I write too much :P Well hopefully it was helpful.

-Anssi

 Related Discussions General Discussion 7 General Discussion 8 General Discussion 12 General Physics 32 General Discussion 5