Holistic thinking - formulating a more complete physics

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  • #1
sascha
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In comparison with other physics forums I enjoy the special qualities of this one. People here seem to be more open to a friendly dialogue (rather than indulging in personal aggressions, as is widespread) in the aim of developing more complete views and insights. The implied capacity to 'listen' is an essential condition for really advancing, also in all forms of science.

The situation here inspired me to propose this new thread. Originally I come from natural science, but my field became philosophy of science. I would like to collaborate with you specialists towards formulating explicitly a more complete physics and maybe chemistry. You may wonder on what basis I arrive at this idea, which might seem a bit lunatic to some.

Since many years I am interested in precise holistic thinking, quite generally, i.e. covering all forms of getting to know (in fact I developed a transdisciplinary approach to this effect). This is not a new topic; yet interestingly enough, in the presently usual approaches even holism cannot be approached truly holistically, but only in aspect holisms (epistemic, ethical, methodical, methodological, ontic, quantum, semantic, sociological etc. holisms). So with respect to the ultimate objective one is not really getting anywhere.

The main reason for this fragmentation is in the vastly majoritarian approach to approaching. It is called the 'scientific' approach. The style is to hope for objectivity by looking 'from outside' at the thing (from gluon to universe, passing by language, life, society, consciousness, personal identity, etc.). But finally this 'god's eyes view' reveals more about how gods are imagined to be than about the real nature of the approached object, whose ultimate intrinsic features elude the onlooker. Kant expressed this as the problem that the 'thing as such' cannot be known.

Indeed, the methodological structure implicit in mainstream philosophy and science allows no strictly complete and secure knowledge. This results from the habit of basing approaches on fundamental assumptions ('atomic facts', axioms, hypotheses, measurements, postulates, etc.), including the assumption that cognizing cannot proceed without any primal assumption. Yet this is a way of 'talking' into the problem before it can unfold fully. This is why today's sciences and holisms are self-limited.

But this limit is not the human condition. Everything appears to the mind according to the developed and applied categoreality, which is shaped by what is foundationally effective in thinking. It seems to be unfathomable, or needing to be interpreted in natural science (which is self-limited). The interesting fact is that by 'listening' to problems instead of introducing 'plausible' biases, even deeply hidden prejudicial elements can gradually be filtered out, eliminating pointless conflictuality.

This is exactly what my transdisciplinary approach proves systematically, then showing a way out of the usual treadmill. Instead of fundamental assumptions, its basis is a law of nature which governs the conceptuality in all mental processes, and which is more fundamental than the 'laws of logic'. The result is a system which can fully handle self-reference -- on which all formal systems get wrecked (this is why at the very end of the lines there are problems such as those of decidability in metamathematics, the crux of the continuum hypthesis, the indeterminism of QT, the floating character of RT, etc., etc.).

So now I am curious about who is curious about all this and would like to collaborate in the outlined endeavor. In case you have mainly doubts you might start by formulating these, to which I will respond.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Can I be honest with you? While I feel that science can lok at things in many ways, I also have the sinking suspicion that your approach is little more than an excuse to introduce fuzzy trancendental New Age thinking into places it simply doesn't belong.
 
  • #3
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by sascha
But this limit is not the human condition. Everything appears to the mind according to the developed and applied categoreality, which is shaped by what is foundationally effective in thinking. It seems to be unfathomable, or needing to be interpreted in natural science (which is self-limited). The interesting fact is that by 'listening' to problems instead of introducing 'plausible' biases, even deeply hidden prejudicial elements can gradually be filtered out, eliminating pointless conflictuality.
But unless I'm mistaken, science has nothing to do with the human condition here, but with science itself. In which case there's really nothing holistic about it. Could that be because it's more of a left-brain discipline, as opposed to religion, which is more of a right-brain discipline? Whereas science wishes to disassociate itself from that which is inherently (seemingly) superstitious by nature.

And yet, when you really get right down to it, isn't it more of a struggle between male versus female? And, by not integrating both of these qualities, aren't we in fact limiting our ability to achieve a balanced view? If you're interested, I go into more detail in the following thread, The Center of Existence.
 
  • #4
Religion isn't a discipline. Further, a "natural philosophy" of some sort would be a more suitable fit with science.
 
  • #5
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Zero
Religion isn't a discipline. Further, a "natural philosophy" of some sort would be a more suitable fit with science.
Albeit there are certain religious practices which require the disciplining of the mind. And by the way, why does the word disciple sound so much like the word discipline?
 
  • #6
Originally posted by Iacchus32
Albeit there are certain religious practices which require the disciplining of the mind. And by the way, why does the word disciple sound so much like the word discipline?
Why do you draw conclusions based on relatively flimsy 'evidence', like words that sound alike? 'Police' and 'politician' both come from the same root word, but you know not to call the mayor when someone is breaking into your house.
Religion isn't the proper way to deal with the human issues that you think science ignores, mostly because 1) people cannot even agree on a religion(because they are all myth), 2) religion has a huge blind spot when it comes to evidence with refutes it, and 3) religion is based on dogma, which would stifle science if it could.
 
  • #7
quantumdude
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Originally posted by Zero
Religion isn't a discipline. Further, a "natural philosophy" of some sort would be a more suitable fit with science.

Even more to the point, "natural philosophy" is physics! Isaac Newton called it "natural philosophy".
 
  • #8
Originally posted by Tom
Even more to the point, "natural philosophy" is physics! Isaac Newton called it "natural philosophy".
Well...Newton isn't the best example...he was a bit of a fruitcake! And, of course, he was trying to use his 'natural philosophy' as almost a new religion.
 
  • #9
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Zero
Why do you draw conclusions based on relatively flimsy 'evidence', like words that sound alike? 'Police' and 'politician' both come from the same root word, but you know not to call the mayor when someone is breaking into your house.
It's funny, but I looked up both words in the dictionary and thought that's what it said (that disciple meant "student") but, that was my mistake. :wink:


Religion isn't the proper way to deal with the human issues that you think science ignores, mostly because 1) people cannot even agree on a religion(because they are all myth), 2) religion has a huge blind spot when it comes to evidence with refutes it, and 3) religion is based on dogma, which would stifle science if it could.
Actually there's no reason why religion can't be more "rational" in it's approach, that's a given. And yet you have to ask, whose pursose does science really serve by not promoting "wholeness?" Does it really serve humanity? Or, something else?

How about more material and more things, which require more and more maintenance, which require more and more material things, in order to maintain that? Isn't that kind of the way it works? The more "nice" things you have, the more time it takes to maintain them, including the time it takes to go to work and pay for them, and the less time you really have to enjoy any of it?

At the very least it makes life complicated -- or, even a drudgery -- not to mention what it does for the environment. While there may come a time when we find ourselves serving "the machine."
 
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  • #10
What is 'wholeness', and how does 'scinece' not embrace it??
 
  • #11
Originally posted by Iacchus32
Actually there's no reason why religion can't be more "rational" in it's approach, that's a given.
Explain please.
And yet you have to ask, whose pursose does science really serve by not promoting "wholeness?" Does it really serve humanity? Or, something else?
Do you actually believe science doesn’t serve humanity?
…How about more material and more things, which require more and more maintenance, which require more and more material things, in order to maintain that?
Take for instance a bulldozer; it saves valuable man-hours that can be put to better use elsewhere. If this were not true nobody would bother to make or own one. The time and labor involved in repair work is more than made up for by increased productivity, allowing you to pursue other activities.
Isn't that kind of the way it works? The more "nice" things you have, the more time it takes to maintain them, including the time it takes to go to work and pay for them, and the less time you really have to enjoy any of it?
Not true; it actually provides you with more options, see above.
At the very least it makes life complicated -- or, even a drudgery -- not to mention what it does for the environment. While there may come a time when we find ourselves serving "the machine."
I will tell you what drudgery is; it is digging a water-well with your just your bare hands and a stick, crapping into a hole, and wiping with a leaf before heading back to cave. Yes, you will be getting away from “the machine” alright, and I guarantee it will give you some time to think, too…
 
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  • #12
quantumdude
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After reading sascha's initial post, I can see that no one is getting the point. As a result, it is going completely off topic. I'm going to ask Zero and Boulderhead to slug it out with Iacchus32 somewhere else, preferably in the old Religion Forum.

Back to sascha...

Originally posted by sascha
In comparison with other physics forums I enjoy the special qualities of this one. People here seem to be more open to a friendly dialogue (rather than indulging in personal aggressions, as is widespread) in the aim of developing more complete views and insights. The implied capacity to 'listen' is an essential condition for really advancing, also in all forms of science.

OK, so here you are taling about people 'listening' to each other. I only pause to make a note of it because you are later going to talk about how scientists should 'listen' to problems. The first use of the word 'listen' is clear, but the second is not.

The situation here inspired me to propose this new thread. Originally I come from natural science, but my field became philosophy of science. I would like to collaborate with you specialists towards formulating explicitly a more complete physics and maybe chemistry. You may wonder on what basis I arrive at this idea, which might seem a bit lunatic to some.

The first thing I would like to see from you is a precise definition of "completeness" as it pertains to the above.

Since many years I am interested in precise holistic thinking, quite generally, i.e. covering all forms of getting to know (in fact I developed a transdisciplinary approach to this effect). This is not a new topic; yet interestingly enough, in the presently usual approaches even holism cannot be approached truly holistically, but only in aspect holisms (epistemic, ethical, methodical, methodological, ontic, quantum, semantic, sociological etc. holisms). So with respect to the ultimate objective one is not really getting anywhere.

OK, so how in your opinion can one make progress toward the ultimate objective? Indeed, how can one even know that one is making progress towards it? You seem to think that we can do it be including all "aspect holisms", but how would you even know you were including them all?

My doubt on your idea here is that it seems to take for granted that the "ultimate objective" can be known a priori. Not only is there no reason to think that that is the case, but there is every reason to think that it is not the case.

Indeed, the methodological structure implicit in mainstream philosophy and science allows no strictly complete and secure knowledge. This results from the habit of basing approaches on fundamental assumptions ('atomic facts', axioms, hypotheses, measurements, postulates, etc.), including the assumption that cognizing cannot proceed without any primal assumption. Yet this is a way of 'talking' into the problem before it can unfold fully. This is why today's sciences and holisms are self-limited.

Again, you seem to be coming from the idealist approach that the "ultimate objective" can be known a priori. Why should one accept that?

But this limit is not the human condition. Everything appears to the mind according to the developed and applied categoreality, which is shaped by what is foundationally effective in thinking. It seems to be unfathomable, or needing to be interpreted in natural science (which is self-limited). The interesting fact is that by 'listening' to problems instead of introducing 'plausible' biases, even deeply hidden prejudicial elements can gradually be filtered out, eliminating pointless conflictuality.

Here it is: How does one "listen" to a problem?

This is exactly what my transdisciplinary approach proves systematically, then showing a way out of the usual treadmill. Instead of fundamental assumptions, its basis is a law of nature which governs the conceptuality in all mental processes, and which is more fundamental than the 'laws of logic'. The result is a system which can fully handle self-reference -- on which all formal systems get wrecked (this is why at the very end of the lines there are problems such as those of decidability in metamathematics, the crux of the continuum hypthesis, the indeterminism of QT, the floating character of RT, etc., etc.).

That's a remarkable claim.

So now I am curious about who is curious about all this and would like to collaborate in the outlined endeavor. In case you have mainly doubts you might start by formulating these, to which I will respond.

To sum up:

*What does it mean for a physics to be "more complete" than another physics?
*What does it mean to "listen" to a problem?
*You seem to think that humans are endowed with innate, a priori knowledge of the universe. If so, why?
*How exactly does your approach sidestep Goedel's theorem?
 
  • #13
drag
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Greetings !

Welcome to PF sascha ! :smile:
Originally posted by sascha
This is exactly what my transdisciplinary approach proves systematically, then showing a way out of the usual treadmill. Instead of fundamental assumptions, its basis is a law of nature which governs the conceptuality in all mental processes, and which is more fundamental than the 'laws of logic'. The result is a system which can fully handle self-reference -- on which all formal systems get wrecked (this is why at the very end of the lines there are problems such as those of decidability in metamathematics, the crux of the continuum hypthesis, the indeterminism of QT, the floating character of RT, etc., etc.).
Well that's FASCINATING ! Like Tom, I would certainly
like to hear about ANY progress in that respect.

In general though, though I'm no expert in the field of
the philosophy of science, I think that a distinction
must be made between an approach from within this field
and science itself. Basicly, science needs to be devoid
of philosophical features - it is just a matter of
basing experience from observation in a universal way for
all known reasoning systems - that is, building assumptionless
structures as long as they work and not ascertaining their fundumental truth/falsehood or some absolute aspects of the
Universe.
Originally posted by Tom
*What does it mean for a physics to be "more complete"
than another physics?
In light of the above quote, I'd guess he means - TOE.
Originally posted by Tom
*What does it mean to "listen" to a problem?
*You seem to think that humans are endowed with innate, a priori knowledge of the universe. If so, why?
Yes, I'd like to know that too. Aristotle, for example, also
could be said to have "listened" to problems, but we
don't use his "physical" laws today...:wink:
Originally posted by Tom
*How exactly does your approach sidestep Goedel's theorem?
I suppose that an approach/solution like the one proposed
above would, for one thing, have nothing for Godel's theorem
to be applied to in the first place - no specific constituents.
Does it make sense ? No, for now.
But the Universe doesn't either... :wink:

Doubt or shout !

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #14
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Tom
After reading sascha's initial post, I can see that no one is getting the point. As a result, it is going completely off topic. I'm going to ask Zero and Boulderhead to slug it out with Iacchus32 somewhere else, preferably in the old Religion Forum.

Back to sascha...
Unfortunately you can't bring up the notion of "holism," and in effect the human condition, without considering the impact religion has had. Which was the only reason I brought it up in the first place, to see what considerations, if any, sascha had given it. And actually, I was more concerned in hearing sascha's comments, than "slugging it out" with the aforementioned parties.

If sascha doesn't want to discuss it that's fine, and yet, it's been well over 15 hours since the original post. Does that make the whole thing off-limits until the mean time? While it's rather obvious that no one seems to be getting the point. :wink:
 
  • #15
sascha
127
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Sorry guys, my access to Physicsforums did not work properly yesterday, and then I needed some sleep...

Thanks Tom, for your observation. It put the debate back on track again, away from psychological projection. The interjections about New Age, religion (in the sense of faith), male versus female, general impressions about natural philosophy and wholeness, etc., do not yet get to the bottom of what I think we should, for disentangling the problem and address positively what I would like to. Especially Tom and Drag have posed conxcrete questions that lead further.

The difference between 'listening' to each other and 'listening' to a problem seems, at first sight, to be considerable, because 'listening' to each other seems to happen through speech (using a discontinuity of linguistic elements), while 'listening' to a problem maybe sounds bizarre to some. But in fact, all forms of listening have their origin in an activity. Listening is not hearing (a passive attitude). It takes quite some awareness of one's own mental life to notice the difference, but then this new awareness leads further.

Why? Because deeply 'listening' (to whatever is of real interest) is the path towards a gradual grasp of completeness that goes beyond completeness theorems in logical systems. If people like Goedel were not able to listen in this way, they would not be able to transcend the limits of the formal systems which they discuss. But they do, concretely. So this approach to 'listening' is no Now Age fad. Iacchus32 has mentioned the need of disciplining one's mind; it can be done in many ways. My point is that discipline by imposing something (an axiom, assumption, faith, postulate, ...) is concretely not of the same open quality as 'listening'; it is self-limiting: at the end of the line, the result mirrors the primal assumption. For example in QT we get indeterminacy, as a result of having heuristically posited the atomistic idea of 'pieces'. QT is so fascinating because it shows so clearly this structure of premise and result with its inverting quality (expecting 'pieces' and being forced to acknowledge non-pieces: nonlocality, and the barrier of complementarity). As to the inverting quality, I would like to remind the thinkers here that infinity has precisely this quality. I guess now and then we will come back to this.

What I mean by a physics being "more complete" than another physics is that I aim at a physics that sets out on categories which do not limit at all its boundaries. The traditional approch to physics was through the mass point and the force vector. So what I am aiming at is not just a question of degrees, i.e. of refining the idea of points into the field concept, or something like that, but to think the problem of physics -- the nature of matter -- in a truly universal way. We will gradually have to get into this, we can't do it in a few sentences.

Tom asked for a precise definition of "completeness" as I mean it. This is a delicate matter, because defining has a similar effect as presupposing. Hence I prefer to characterize as well as possible what I mean; then we can gradually become more precise (this is a bit more 'hermeneutical' than 'scientific', but 'science' is producing its problems precisely by being too rash in its 'scientific' attitude, wanting to nail down details too quickly).

There is a link between completeness and holism(s). But how can it be understood adequately? The hope of reaching secure strict completeness and holism by summing up all aspect holisms is doubtful to my sense, because on that path we can integrate only linguistic structures, not that which is underlying. This is again demonstrated nicely by QT, where the attempt to integrate the 'counter-intuitive' truths led to ideas of 'entanglement' and 'decoherence', which illustrate the problem , but are not explanations in the strict sense of tracing back phenomena to universal laws of nature.

We will certainly have to deal with the difference between language (as a principle) and thinking (as a principle). Nowadays this difference is being eroded by the 'linguistic turn' (assuming that thinking is structured linguistically). The result is that many are compelled by empirical evidence to notice that not all of thinking can be of this nature. Tom's question about sidestepping Goedel's theorem has a lot to do with this. Let me quote a piece of an article which I published a few years ago concerning this:

***
Kurt Goedel revealed limits to formal logical systems ('languages'). Yet he was capable of thinking through this question in non-formal terms. Without operating clearly on this 'meta-level' he could not have found the solution, i.e. the non-formal idea that joins all the problem's opposites. He disclosed hesitantly being a Platonist — knowing he would be attacked if admitting this in public. Are we any better off today? So he presented his result through a formalization (his substitution method). Hence his proof is not a general one, it reaches only up to first-order predicate calculus. Interestingly enough, the same proof of non-decidability was offered in the same period by Paul Finsler, approaching the subject not from a formal point of view, but discussing the content of thought. His more broad, thus less formal but philosophically highly relevant approach to the same topic complements Goedel in a decisive way. But it was not received very graciously, because everybody wanted formal results, believing these offer more 'truth-value'. The limit of 'truth-values' is not well recognized yet. Booth / Ziegler [1996] (Finsler Set Theory: Platonism and Circularity; Birkhaeuser, Basel / Boston / Berlin) offer an integrative view of the problem and solution between GÚdel and Finsler. ((The only trouble in this book is its many typos and similar traces of flimsy editing))
***

I can well understand why also Tom believes that I "seem to think that humans are endowed with innate, a priori knowledge of the universe". But this is not the case. I think the problem is not solved by assuming something "innate" (as even much of cognitive science is now led to assume, because it remains in the discontinuous principle of language, it cannot reach the nature of real thinking, which can handle continua of content).

For a positive answer concerning this aspect, let me add another piece of an article of mine, an idea which till now has been published only in German: I will put this into a second post (because of the reasonable limit to 10'000 signs}.
 
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  • #16
sascha
127
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So here comes this piece of an article:

***
It is generally useful to distinguish between the language of intelligibility and the language of manipulability. The first consists of laws (forms of order, pure structure), which we grasp by means of concepts, ideas, representations, that can be communicated by using names and predicates; all forms of understanding are ways of grasping the ultimately relevant order. The language of manipulability consists of names and predicates ('handles' for catching 'things' in representations). At first glance it seems to contain also the aspect of intelligibility; only upon thinking through the network of all names and predicates, one can notice that it cannot cover strictly the whole, that something is missing somehow, or produces surprises. Remaining in the language of manipulability makes it impossible to know exactly what goes wrong. Sticking to the language of manipulability, while believing it can serve as language of intelligibility, logically leads to the belief that the encountered limit is absolute — while only the belief in the language of manipulability is absolute. Such knots are unnecessary.

A first step is to distinguish the mode of language from fully coherent thinking. This difference was abolished in the 'linguistic turn'. In its heyday, reviving the distinction must sound like blasphemy to many. But this god is, as we saw, not firmly in his saddle — held only by belief, not ultimate knowledge. We should note a basic regularity: Within the use of language one can formulate all sorts of contradictions, from 'straight is curved' through '3+5=9' and antinomies like 'I am now telling a lie', down to voluntary deception — while it is in no way possible to think these linguistic structures in one single coherent thought (also in the sense of Frege's 'Gedanke'). Whoever has adopted fundamental suppositions that lead to antinomies is then compelled — for accommodating coherently the antinomies — to remain in the corresponding set of several elements (signs), which are intrinsically interrelated according to the nature of the causal prejudice. But 'interrelation between a set of signs' is the intrinsic law of being a language, not mere noise. Any person sticking to a assumption becomes thus dependent on the principle of language for keeping together the assumption's effect. Without language, everything would fall to pieces for this psyche, in extremis it would go mad; after all, languages can contain only the past. Using the personal pronoun 'I' can be authentic (out of psychic integrity) or false (if stuck to language), while fully understanding the unity of personal identity is impossible when remaining within the principle of language. The connection between problematic suppositions and a subsequent addiction to language is of course not limited to single persons, but can arise in styles of politicians or writers, schools of thought, philosophical or scientific positions, etc.. The thrust of 'publish or perish' contributes to understanding, but also adds to verbosity, since talking much can cloak contradictory basic assumptions.

Language is always a corpus of dis-unity, but which allows on the other hand to gain time for solving problems caused on the level of pure ideas. This is possible only through 'pulling together' into one thought all content of the respective corpus. One then finds so-to-say the 'face' of that corpus. For being able to do this, the material and social conditions become crucial, because they allow or inhibit this activity. For example, electrosmog or noise limit the capacity to reach the rock bottom of personal unity, by imposing energetic disequilibria. Also personal strife or social tension has a limiting effect, which can drive conflict into escalation. Forceful separation, aggression, is the material form of language.

In any linguistic constellation it is thus important that a context exist which fosters a view of the whole, beyond this constellation. Otherwise, when compelled to remain within language, authenticity (in Heidegger's sense) is compelled to hide in 'justifications'. A mind locked up in the circuit can never go beyond piecemeal — however attractive the seeming clarity of crisp formal logical structures may look. The only real way to complete reality is to face the 'face', the implied content as such. In fact, this is always done when finding new solutions, even in discussing pure logic; but the point is to declare all the means. Whoever can't dare this degree of self-awareness, or prefers sham existence, keeps operational the dimness of inauthenticity interactivity, which on its own must lose the overall coherence.

It is common to say that humans differ from animals by making tools and having language. This is a way of forgetting that the really decisive capacity of humans is to think totally coherently, since also some animals have a certain capacity to use language and can make primitive tools. But what animals never can achieve is to grasp and handle pure ideas (like 'the geometric plane') and ideals (such as 'beauty'), because pure ideas and ideals have to do with the ultimate, the whole. Real ideals — like truth, harmony, understanding, love, freedom — are as such never coercive, but dialogically open and universal, and they allow self-reference (as opposed to formal logical structures). It is thus no coincidence that ideals are also called moral ideas: morality has to do with reflecting the respective content within its context, thus covering the whole. In this respect animals — like mechanisms and formalisms — hit their limit. Presently it is fashionable to bet on the principle of language, on formalisms and mechanisms; but this is only because the corresponding problems have not been completely thought through. Yet bad experiences are no good incentive...
***

Are these two posts of some help for the moment?
 
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  • #17
drag
Science Advisor
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Greetings !

Hmm... Intersting reading. I did not quite understand what
you were talking about at first but past the first third
of your second post I started to, indeed interesting.

A few comments, if I may :

1. I'd like to point out that I still do not quite
see why our basic ability to understand - think, can
or should reveal anything fundumental like you implied.
I do agree with you that if, and that's a very large "if"
for now, some practical approaches of this type are
formalized - 'cause for now we still have no other way
of treating them first - we have to formalize them somehow for
now, then these approaches could potentially be useful.
(Though at the moment I can't even imagine how to start.)

2. Further more, you have, for some reason, made a strong
and partially fundumental distinction between us and animals
and even us and machines which I disagree with. This fundumntal
ability to think, that I agree with you that language and formalization possibly limmit, may be grater for us but I see
no reason to assume that except its high level it is anyhow
unique compared to other animals or even (at their own
very low level, for now) machines.

3. I'm wondering wheather you can tell us something about
the scientific approach (if such exists at the moment) to this
subject. That is, is there research that tries to find the
answer to our level of thinking or even that of other animals.
For example, a modern computer, once its tasks are finished
will stop working, further more it is completely unadapted
to operate in most conditions with any "value" for itself
or its mission. Yet, we and other animals can adept to
a great deal of conditions and we can find paths to achieve
certain goals in them - physical adapatation - general survival,
pshycological adaptation, and so on (though even our "circuits"
occasionaly get "fried").

I personally, would try to approach it from bottom up in
a purely scientific manner - first we have single celled
organisms that form after release of potential energy of
atoms and molecules in certain materials at a certain state.
Then things already start to get hazy as we come to
reproduction, beyond that we're looking at creatures at
an ever increasing scale operating according to the same
basic "program" but on a growing amount of levels and with
growing complexity of situations and adaptability. (Basicly,
Evolution and some of the relevant modern scientists are also
trying to find these answers today.) This way, if we can make sufficient progress maybe we could finally explain one of the
greatest puzzles - consciousness, and then we could also strive
for the above mentioned "ultimate" core of it - thought.

Personally, I wouldn't choose that as my life's goal, and not
because I don't think it's worth it, it's just a bit difficult...:wink:

Doubt or shout !

Live long and prosper.
 
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  • #18
sascha
127
2
Hi Drag,
there is no doubt that much of what I say seems a bit strange to the average scientific ear these days, which is accustomed to the bottom-up look and would like to have that in all respects. Its trouble comes only at the very end of the line, in the ultimate consequences.

You seem to believe our ability to think cannot really reach to a full understanding of understanding. But simultaneously you expose the reasons for this limit, because you advocate a formalizetion as if this principle would warrant per se the sought success. In contrast, I would advocate ploughing through the questions, slowly and thoroughly, because of the inherent limits of formal systems. They cannot handle self-reference -- while, in seeking the idea of the mind, we are looking simultaneously at the agency (that which does the thinking) and the acted upon (the realm of ideas, here for thinking the idea of the mind's own functioning). The question is how we can manage this requirement: complete self-referentiality.

In your next point you expose a second reason for believing in the above limit, because automatons (whether Turing machines or instinct-driven beings or people who automated their mental reactions) can indeed not deal with what is required for a full understanding of understanding. This is why I maintain my distinction.

The scientific approach in this subject matter is riddled with difficulties, because categoreally today's science seeks agency in material objects. Laws and forces, not being measurable, can't be taken for the decisive aspects. Nevertheless, empirical reality is as it is, and it compels this scientific approach to seek the agency in ever smaller material objects -- in the same way as physics was compelled to shift the crux of the problem of what matter is into ever smaller entities -- with no end in sight, or rather: limited only by the amount of energy pumped into the system needed for measuring. As long as one seeks the idea of matter in empirical evidence (not in a fundamental clarification of the categories through which one thinks about matter), one will always reach only relative answers, i.e. relative to the experimental arrays. The bottom-up quest has indeed a limit, which is the more virulent the more the object is autonomously alive. The operative mind is the crux.

When it comes to explaining things like consciousness, the question is with how little one acquiesces as to what an explanation is thought to be. Nowdays vivid descriptions, giving a hunch of what is going on, are often taken for explanations.
 
  • #19
radagast
484
1
Originally posted by Zero
Why do you draw conclusions based on relatively flimsy 'evidence', like words that sound alike? 'Police' and 'politician' both come from the same root word, but you know not to call the mayor when someone is breaking into your house.
Religion isn't the proper way to deal with the human issues that you think science ignores, mostly because 1) people cannot even agree on a religion(because they are all myth), 2) religion has a huge blind spot when it comes to evidence with refutes it, and 3) religion is based on dogma, which would stifle science if it could.

Discipline
5. A set of rules or methods, as those regulating the practice of a church or monastic order.
6. A branch of knowledge or teaching.

While many of the things you say may be right, these two definitions of discipline can be applied to a religion, therefore, by definition a religion can be a discipline.
 
  • #20
Originally posted by radagast
Discipline
5. A set of rules or methods, as those regulating the practice of a church or monastic order.
6. A branch of knowledge or teaching.

While many of the things you say may be right, these two definitions of discipline can be applied to a religion, therefore, by definition a religion can be a discipline.
There is a reason for those to be the fifth and sixth definitions.
 
  • #21
I don't understand what you are getting at, I feel like an idiot, could you please define the problem to me like I'm a 5 year old?
 
  • #22
sascha
127
2
I think in this question between religion and science, discipline and vagueness, belief and knowledge, bias and open-mindedness, there is more potential of mutual understanding than what the discussion is revealing. I think as much Zero has a point, as does Iacchus32, who have clashed against each other in this issue. To my sense, the strife is due to thinking in inadequate categories. So let me propose what I think is more useful.

Already in medieval times (scholastic period), a useful distinction was developed: that between (a) confessio and (b) religio (both are latin words). They denote (a) an act of faith, professing or declaring something, following a linguistic structure, which can thus never strictly cover the whole (but maybe refer to it), and (b) seeking the link to the whole, abandoning known limits for openly querying.

The point here is that as much religion as science display confessio and religio -- but of course only the latter is a really fruitful attitude. The first (confessio) usually develops when some pragmatic success seduces people to believe that now they really know. Think for example of how Planck was told that he should not study physics, because soon everything knowable would be known due to the fantastic advances in mechanics. But then, life and reality go on and on, and, with the increase in touching the whole, new aspects arise, making necessary a period of religio again. There is a dialectics in the process. Thomas Kuhn has been expressing the same to-and-fro in terms of "paradigm change" between "normal science" (confessio) and "revolutionary science" (religio).

The principle of 'discipline' itself can be approached from these two sides. On the one hand there is the presuppositional path (assumptions, axioms, beliefs, hopes, premisses, postulates, etc), which are rigid elements for disciplining the mind, and therefore useful only for specific topics, because the whole as whole eludes them. On the other hand there is the discipline of being totally aware of what one really would like to understand -- i.e. not just abstractly positing a verbal question and then operating in formal ways, but letting oneself (one's mind, one's thoughts) follow the content and implications of that aspect. Then one becomes increasingly open to the whole of the chosen perspective. This is simultaneously a more explicit expression of what I mean by 'listening to a question'.
 
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  • #23
Originally posted by sascha
Think for example of how Planck was told that he should not study physics, because soon everything knowable would be known due to the fantastic advances in mechanics. (religio).

So, you are saying that the religious viewpoint is invalid, right?
 
  • #24
sascha
127
2
Zero, your quote puts two things together, which were not together in my post: What Planck was told, which pertains to confessio (believing in a state of the art), and the word 'religio' (which pertains to the gesture of generally opening up). Now I am not sure what you mean. I say that as much the religious as the scientific viewpoint become invalid, or at least only partially valid, as soon as they stop being open to what they have not yet understood. Faith, in whatever form, is ultimately self-limiting with respect to what it allows to know. I say the gesture of confessio is ultimately not fruitful, i.e. as soon as questions arise concerning the whole of the interconnections, in whatever quest or endeavor. For this type of query, only the gesture of religio (seeking the link to the whole) can lead further. Maybe the latin words are a bit misleading. But that's that terminology.
 
  • #25
Iacchus32
2,313
1
Originally posted by sascha
On the other hand there is the discipline of being totally aware of what one really would like to understand -- i.e. not just abstractly positing a verbal question and then operating in formal ways, but letting oneself (one's mind, one's thoughts) follow the content and implications of that aspect. Then one becomes increasingly open to the whole of the chosen perspective. This is simultaneously a more explicit expression of what I mean by 'listening to a question'.
This has more to do with experience then, which science doesn't wish to addresss, because it's too subjective. And yet, this "is" the human condition.

This is what bothers me so much, because it's like saying I don't have a right to exist, except within certain prescribed parameters. Hmm ... How about a petri dish? While it also implies that I don't have a right to think, and make up my own mind about matters ... for there is only one view, "the empirical view."

And yet if you can't see it for yourself, how do you know "the truth" of anything? Which in fact is what distinguishes between determinism and free will and, I just happen to enjoy my freedom -- what little of it I have that is. :wink:
 
  • #26
sascha
127
2
Iacchus32, I am not sure that experience is a sufficient condition for what I was trying to get at. This is the empirical side, so to say. But the chosen concepts / categories are at least as important, because they determine the differences in what is actually 'seen' (interpreted) in one and the same the empirical evidence, depending on the viewpoint (remember e.g. my post of 08-29-2003 07:55 PM concerning optical illusions, on the 'bias against materialism' thread). Many still seem to forget that the criteria for judging empirical reality can never be found in empirical data themselves, since they are implicit already in the way of choosing / organizing the data.

On the other hand, experience can be helpful in sustained endeavors, going through a long process of gradually finding an insight which a short fling can't yield.
 
  • #27
Originally posted by sascha
Zero, your quote puts two things together, which were not together in my post: What Planck was told, which pertains to confessio (believing in a state of the art), and the word 'religio' (which pertains to the gesture of generally opening up). Now I am not sure what you mean. I say that as much the religious as the scientific viewpoint become invalid, or at least only partially valid, as soon as they stop being open to what they have not yet understood. Faith, in whatever form, is ultimately self-limiting with respect to what it allows to know. I say the gesture of confessio is ultimately not fruitful, i.e. as soon as questions arise concerning the whole of the interconnections, in whatever quest or endeavor. For this type of query, only the gesture of religio (seeking the link to the whole) can lead further. Maybe the latin words are a bit misleading. But that's that terminology.
That 'religio' was a typo on my part, not an intentional linking of two ideas. What I am saying is that the viewpoint presented to Planck was a religious one.
 
  • #28
sascha
127
2
Yes, Zero, what Planck was told came indeed from what you call a religious viewpoint. What I try to offer by the distinction of 'confessio' vs. 'religio' is a clarification: What is usually called religion need not only be humbug, even though it has mainly degenerated to confessio (expressions of faith, blind belief e.g. in an idea of God, which often consists of mere projections of human desires such as omnipotence, which then are reflected in corresponding institutions), while what is usually called science sometimes also displays the characteristic of confessio, namely where a somewhat successful point of view is being made absolute (nowadays one encounters this for example in some interpretations of QT and RT). The Planck anecdote is an older example of such a staunch belief.

One interesting point about the gesture of 'religio' is that it opens the door to a mental technique for overcoming limitedness. Note that it requires no basic assumption at all. On the contrary, it consists in consciously leaving away all of them, including all the blahblah that usually arises in the mind while it is dealing with something of interest, distracting the attention from that real interest. This mental technique requires a lot of mental disciplne -- and comes very close to what many religions have in principle been fostering before they formalized their content into forms of confessio. This again is paralleled by trends in science to formalize all and sundry, which has the same sclerotizing effect.

Another interesting point is that this mental technique is not just blind empiricism, observing in a detached way (which also an instrument can do), and it is not not just blind rationalism (which you would maybe call idealism), operating in mere abstractions. This mental technique combines both, since it involves conceretely the person's wholeness -- pure idea plus will and action. Actually the person gets into experiencing its mental activity, which usually occurs more or less in automatized ways (betting on this horse is why formalizations and mechanical data processing are so attractive to many; for example Mentat is a person who operates like this).

Iacchus32 complained that science doesn't wish to addresses experience; I might add that science has a lot of trouble in addressing change and development in general, not only in evolution theory. The shift lately towards process perspectives reflects more of a desire than of an accomplishment. I guess this is so because science did not develop categories that are fruitful for addressing the implied totalities, which moreover are alive and thus fully processual. In the course of developing the approach which I propose on this thread, we will get positively into that. But I would like to unravel it through the curiosity of the participants, rather than through a monologue.
 
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  • #29
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Greetings sascha !

(I appologize for this late response. :smile:)
Originally posted by sascha
there is no doubt that much of what I say seems a bit strange to the average scientific ear these days, which is accustomed to the bottom-up look and would like to have that in all respects. Its trouble comes only at the very end of the line, in the ultimate consequences.
While that may turn out to be correct, which we don't
know yet :wink:, my approach is not the result of a
preferance rather of an absense of choice. Abviously,
given additional options I wouldn't deny any of them
without scrutiny. But are there other options ? Even
you yourself have not presented so far in your messages
any real alternative that can be followed.
Originally posted by sascha
You seem to believe our ability to think cannot really reach to a full understanding of understanding. But simultaneously you expose the reasons for this limit, because you advocate a formalizetion as if this principle would warrant per se the sought success. In contrast, I would advocate ploughing through the questions, slowly and thoroughly, because of the inherent limits of formal systems. They cannot handle self-reference -- while, in seeking the idea of the mind, we are looking simultaneously at the agency (that which does the thinking) and the acted upon (the realm of ideas, here for thinking the idea of the mind's own functioning). The question is how we can manage this requirement: complete self-referentiality.
O.K. I agree with you, but again, if you'll excuse my being blunt
for a moment - there's an old Russian saying - "let's not share the
skin of a bear we've not yet killed". :wink:
Originally posted by sascha
In your next point you expose a second reason for believing in the above limit, because automatons (whether Turing machines or instinct-driven beings or people who automated their mental reactions) can indeed not deal with what is required for a full understanding of understanding. This is why I maintain my distinction.
In that case, I understand the reason for the distinction,
for now. But again, who said that we can understand that ?
This is somethig quite fundumental alright and it presents
a difficulty we may never be able to deal with. Perhaps even,
a fundumental barrier of our minds we can never cross.
Originally posted by sascha
The scientific approach in this subject matter is riddled with difficulties, because categoreally today's science seeks agency in material objects. Laws and forces, not being measurable, can't be taken for the decisive aspects.
You seem to have a partial misconception about modern
science. There is no distinction of the "material"
that it supposedly deals with. Rather a distinction
of all the data we have and the conclusions about it
into data & conclusion that CAN accept true/false
values and those that can not. It is abvious, today, that
if we may a claim about the Universe - all the data input
one has, then it should have the quality of being either
false/true/as yet undetermined according to the data.
Otherwise, today, we have no other useful way of dealing
with the data and consequent conclusions.

Of course, all that - science - sits upon the philosophical
"cloud" - that tells us that these interconnections
and data/conclusion distinctions we make are themselves
only matters of perspective and nothing is really certain -
a fundumental result of the extension of the scientific
reasoning principles to their philosophical origins that
are in a constant state of paradox - the PoE - Paradox of
Existence, which I believe is pretty much what we're
talking about here as well. That is, if we ever manage
to create a system that is not a system - a way of handling
self-referation and ideas without ideas and self-referation,
then not only will we probably (though the "probability
scale" probably has no validity in this statement )
be able to "understand" how we think - we'll probably be
able to understand the entire Universe. (Kin'na makes the
problem seem more difficult, doesn't it...:wink:)
Originally posted by sascha
The operative mind is the crux.
Indeed.
Originally posted by sascha
When it comes to explaining things like consciousness, the question is with how little one acquiesces as to what an explanation is thought to be. Nowdays vivid descriptions, giving a hunch of what is going on, are often taken for explanations.
I think that in this case even the slightest initial
glimpse at the way to go would already be of great
significance.

Today, if we approach all the data - the Universe, thought
process included, from our philosophical foundations
then we see today's ultimate answer - uncertainty.
We've been up and down the scale, and while it seems to
stretch to infinity it doesn't look like there we will
find the solution we seek. I guess what is needed now is
a "Newton of philosophy" - one who will show us how
to take our differential perspective and integrate it
into a single formula that'll hold "true"(a concept we
require in our differential Universe but probably won't
require if we figure all things out, I guess). The problem
is (if I'm allowed to continue my metaphor :smile:) that
we don't even know what the integration variable is.

Doubt or shout !

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #30
sascha
127
2
Hi Drag, sorry for my own delay in responding. You might also enjoy the thread on "incomplete knowledge".

Whether there are other options than the bottom-up approach is a question of carefully looking around. There is an absence of choice only when remaining in today's mainstream. But the interesting things never came from the majority. Usually, the prouder its rhetorics, the more it is off the track.

Sure, I have not yet shown explictly how complete self-referentiality can be managed -- because I don't want to talk to the wind. But at least I hinted at this important part of the topic, which a complete physics must come to grips with.

Concerning a "fundamental barrier of our minds we can never cross", we must be careful not to put barriers in front of us by our own beliefs and prejudices. If somebody staunchly believes it is impossible to solve a problem, e.g. for a Westerner to learn Chinese, s/he will never be able to do so. The reason is that the fundamental beliefs steer the thoughts insofar as they limit the possible ones. Hence to believe e.g. something is impossible might just as well be a cheap excuse for not having to wonder deeply about it. In any case, one cannot play around blindly with all ideas. There are consequences. Keeping an open mind is not merely a luxury, but in a deep sense necessary for sane survival.

I know that much of science presently operates in terms of data and conclusions, in truth-values of propositions. This is what the average 'scientific worker' gets to know; but it is not the interesting part -- even if only for its limited validity (after all, here we investigate a complete natural science, not the usual piecemeal). The interesting part is to know how to handle the 'philosophical 'cloud'', as you put it. There need not be Paradox of Existence. Presently there is one, because of the way today's mainstream chose to operate. As mentioned, setting out from primal assumptions of whatever sort inevitably leads -- when addressing strict totality -- to self-limitations and paradox results. The indeterminacy of the quantum approach is only one example. The reason is that basic assumptions inevitably introduce an element that is formally alien to the subject matter, by intervening before having considered its strict totality. Being of assertive character, assumptions basically express impatience. It is thus no coincidence that (as you say) today's ultimate answer is uncertainty. It is an inevitable consequence of the method.

As Tom has put it nicely on a thread about Goedel's theorem, this theorem basically says that any formal system is either inconsistent or incomplete. More explicitly, a formal system can be consistent (by choosing its basis so as to suit its specific objective), but then is necessarily incomplete (i.e. there are statements in the formal system that cannot be proved by means of the formal system itself). Or it can be complete (when all statements in the system are provable within it), but then it is necessarily inconsistent (i.e. not only the provable statements are possible in the system, but also contradictory statements).

This is the price of wanting to formalize the thought system, i.e. to introduce a set of rules that allow to handle content (statements, propositions: that which is expressed in sentences) in a mechanical way. Formality can preserve truth-values of content in a formal process, but not generate them. Trouble is engendered when unthinkingly introducing some formality. Contrary to the habitual approaches to logic, I expressed the reason for this limitation to either inconsistency or incompleteness: it is in the rpiciple of assuming something before having approached all of what would be needed for really understanding the subject matter. The effect is one of unthinking self-limitation.

The limit appears clearly even before logical steps as such arise. Already the 'simple' structure of negation reveals this: negating a statement 'A' by talking about 'non-A' is explictly possible only to the extent the formal system allows -- while nevertheless in reality the complete scope is implied which the negation really means.

Implicit negation is the basis on which the only reasonable alternative to formal systems operates: dialectics. Instead of setting out with some assumption or other, it approaches 'things' in the sense of the totality of what is implied in approaching those 'things'. There is no basic subdivision (such as 'subject – object', 'empirical – rational theories', 'epistemology – ontology', 'theoretical – practical philosophy', 'facts – values', 'nature – nurture', etc.; here in this forum a pet opposition is 'materialism – idealism'). By not introducing anything, instead focusing on the intrinsic nature of the investigated 'things', gradually the 'background' of the approach can reveal itself, i.e. the negation of what the thing appeared at first can become ever more clear. A formal system would be too limited to operate fully in this way -- while on the other hand, people like Goedel must think in this way (on a 'meta-level') for being able to handle the problems.

This might sound like I am accepting Tarski's proposal of distinguishing object-language and meta-language. But I do not. Tarski's distinction is useful for detail problems, but fails on strict totality, as it can offer no conclusive frame of reference: every meta-language is, under another perspective, again an object-language. The meta-language of all meta-languages is ... again everyday lanaguage.

This is an example for the habit of seeking solutions in details and never coming to grips with strictly the whole. Whether in the approaches to decidability, or type theory, or category theory, or the mentioned protologics (from Spencer-Brown onwards, up to Luhmann), etc., the strategy is mere tactics: mechanical rules of avoidance, new rigid assumptions -- new ways of 'talking' into strict totality. This looks like a freedom -- but it is merely a way of adding more epicycles to the systems. The effect is to shove the crux from one appearance to the next -- in the vein of Zeno's paradoxes, which boil down to a simple structure: endlessly bothering about a problem in useless terms won't lead to the decisive insight. For example worrying about pieces of length will not allow to think in terms of speed. As an effect of the tactics of avoidance, the crux is endlessly deferred. Interestingly, Tom asked me how I "sidestep" Goedel's theorem. Can he allow possible ways of not sidestepping, but really solving the issues?

The path for doing so is, as hinted at, close to the one that dialectics opened up. Instead of worrying about the plausibility of basic assumptions, which can never cover universality, it is possible to discover the law of nature that rules all mental processes and is more fundamental than the 'laws of logic'.

Studying the genesis of concepts shows that any conceptual aspect A can in the very end be thought only on the 'mental background' of non-A, the content that is strictly polar to A. This fact gave rise to many streams of thought known as dialectics, since knowing A makes aware of its intrinsic dependency on non-A; hence becoming aware of non-A can make realize what A really means. A and non-A together cover completely the universe, under one aspect: the queried one (in this example: A). Hegel unceasingly draws from this well, and we can draw a useful conclusion for a new approach: in completely exhausting any subject matter, perspectivity and universality become fully compatible.

The other side of the coin is that any query leads in the very end to a polarized conceptual space, as required for grasping fully the query's content. The more intellectual work is fathomed, the more examples abound. Heraclitus contemplating the dynamic cosmos finally conceived it as a structure of change in polarities, 'things' being opposites united in equilibria. Empedocles queried the very roots of 'things' and found 'love' vs. 'hate', affinity vs. antipathy. Aristotle's quest for the nature of change yielded 'form' vs. 'matter', Kant's query as to cognition led him to 'perception' vs. 'thinking'. The fundamental quest of the forms of being ends in 'spirit' vs. 'material matter' ('spirit' meant as forms of pure act, 'material matter' as pure non-act, 'materia prima'). Hegel untiringly demonstrated how something can finally be grasped only via its conceptual 'background', in a process that leads to conceptual supersession ('Aufhebung'). Saussure, scrutinizing the primal nature of the sign, reached 'the signifying' vs. 'the signified'. Goethe's query of the full nature of colours ended in 'brightness' vs. 'darkness'. In projective geometry, where the only invariant is linearity and where actual infinity is not a special case, but must fully be thought through at each stage, the concept of spatiality becomes complete only when thought of as space-and-counterspace (so-to-say its 'outer' side and inverse 'inner' one; the concept of space-and-counterspace has not yet been fully clarified in mathematics); in fact all complete geometrical structures display within themselves a full polarization: two aspects of the same structure. — This list, outlining the law of conceptual polarization, can be prolonged to any degree.

This law of nature governs all mental processes. We can't notice it as long as we continuously mix up topics and perspectives. Most people are bogged down by everyday life, hindered in completely coming to their senses. This is our problem, not the problem of reality: We -- not nature -- end up with a maze of incomplete theories and corresponding problems of inter- and transdisciplinarity. Remaining in the muddle makes believe the origin of all things is in absurdity and paradox; this is the 'postmodern' view. But knowing the said law allows to develop an interesting approach.

What do you think of things till here?
 
  • #31
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Greetings sascha !
Originally posted by sascha
What do you think of things till here?
Well, quite impressive. You show some reather interesting
fundumental insights and perspectives on the issue which,
although I did recognize in a general sense, did not
consider at this level. However, one of the reasons for
that is that I never dared to imagine this is something
any of us mortals have a real power to deal with (and I'm not
a fella' who's ussualy bothered by dealing with challenges :wink:).

What can I say ? I'd love to hear (read in this case :smile:)
more beyond this stage, I'm just somewhat skeptical on
wheather there is something beyond it, for now at least.

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #32
sascha
127
2
Hello Drag!

All this is the result of long research. I have shared the essentials with people of other professions (who find it useful for them), but not yet with physicists / chemists. I know I go beyond usual paths; but I don't think I am into any folly. I guess your skepticism is the result of a widespread hunch that one should -- in spite of so-called individualism -- not go beyond the usual. Few people develop a secure hold of what is going in their psyche, beyond formal logic. But all through my life I have been very curious. I dared explore all my authentic hunches, going to the end of the lines. Uncompromised integrity is an extremely interesting place. I can only encourage others to explore it too... So I am quite ready to show you that there is indeed more to my approach than what you saw (read) till here.

The principle of going to the end of thought lines led us from the usual object-oriented approaches -- which nourished heuristically also physics, through the idea of 'pieces' of matter, until the end of that line (modern QT) revealed that 'pieces' is ultimately not an adequate idea -- to the principle of dialectics as the path that avoids the self-limitation of sticking to objects and their properties. The other side of the coin is the law of conceptual polarization at the end of a line of thought, which is more or less known in philosophy, but was not linked up clearly with dialectics till now -- partly because nowadays most philosophers follow analytic philosophy, which can't deal appropriately with dialectics and still is gnawing away at the bone of formal systems, not realizing the implied blind spot.

In contrast to assumptions, the law of nature governing mental processes constitutes a secure philosophical foundation, by dint of its universal validity. The art is in knowing how to harness it into a system; this is what I propose, including in diverse publications (in fact, here I simply take pieces out of those articles and comment a bit around them). There is a conceptual side to this approach, and (for those who are interested) also a path of mental practice, about which I might talk if somebody expresses this interest. Here I outline the conceptual side.

Concerning the content that can be cognized, nature must be orderly, otherwise nothing would be distinguishable from anything else. But approaches based on basic assumptions are not open to 'order in nature' (the structure covering all laws of nature) as a basis; they can consider only statements of laws -- talking about talking -- and then must worry endlessly about nomological or nomothetical mysteries, or resulting contradictions, etc., although these are induced by the assumptions. In contrast, a 'listening' openness will not fall into errors of 'necessitarian theory' (conceptual conflation) or 'regularity theory' (conceptual incompleteness), and it will not drift off into a space of abstractions like counterfactual and 'possible world' theory. It does not need to postulate empirical experience as a basis since it does not need to compensate any reality lost at the outset in developing the foundational categories.

We all build up our system of categories and representations by experiencing our alive bodily organization, which is constituted by the same 'language' as the whole rest of the universe. The judging instance is always the same: 'I', whether conceiving emotions or what body senses present. Insofar the now widespread question of 'how does the world get into our head?', based on the idea of some 'reality independent of our consciousness', displays an estrangement from our own potential of integral conceptualization. It splits up artificially the continuum of openness and interjects abstractly a sensory system, which is in reality precisely a bridge to otherness, not the imagined abyss. The fantasy in alienation is that our skin is the limit for understanding physical reality -- as if all our own body and it sensory system, including the brain for mental sensitivity, were not understandable in exactly the same way as all other appearances. Of course in 'summer' of the 'four seasons of being' our body is more close to us than other things. But the real question is whether we got our foundational concepts right, or in other words our categoreality.

A conceptual polarity, discovered upon fully having queried a content, does as such nevertheless not yet disclose all the implications of that content. One has to query further. But how? We already know the instrumentation for an extended interest: to follow up the queried content to its very end. The general structure starts thus by querying a content 'X'. This leads to the polar aspect 'A of X', and the polar aspect 'non-A of X'. Applying these onto themselves -- querying the polar aspect 'A of A', 'non-A of A', and then 'A of non-A', and 'non-A of non-A' -- leads to a corresponding tetrad of categories which cover totally the content 'X' of the query. The field is indeed covered, as all such tetrads converge on the principle of self-orderliness in totality -- which is the principle of being well-ordered (one might say: a law of nature).

As an example I like Aristotle's query of 'change' (or, in modern terms: processuality), which yields its 'form' and 'matter' aspects (I hope you know this; it is famous in philosophy). In his query, 'form' and 'matter' do not disclose fully what is actually operative in the 'form' aspect and what the precise qualities are of the 'matter' aspect. That is what is explored in the articles (in the German essay other queries than processuality are outlined too).

The result encompasses all structural change in anything that appears as a processual unit -- particles in physics; substances or reactions in chemistry; waterfalls; living beings, groups, cities, nations; economies; metaphores, propositions, mathematical equations, etc.. The difference between being inert and alive requires aditional criteria for the structure: heteronomy vs. autonomy, which can be partial (having organs regulating sub-equilibria, which one does not control oneself). The laws of the inert are a subset of the laws of life.

The perspective of processuality is useful for approaching directly the problem of life and death. No living being ever fears the law of death, because this law is an integral part of its life cycle. But all living beings fear the materialized process of dying as soon as it is inflicted by others. My two equilibration formulations are precisely the categories needed for distinguishing dying out of self-fulfilment from dying out of external influence (in cell biology: apoptosis vs. necrosis; today's biology can't explain why two types of death exist).

The particular properties of these categoreal structures -- which must puzzle today's mainstream -- stem from being developed coherently out of a content, thus embodying themselves the essential characteristic of that content: in the example of processuality, its sheer dynamism permeates the categories themselves. They disclose the structural identity of material and immaterial processes. The equilibrium conditions (disequilibriability and foundational equilibrium) are thus to be understood in a dynamic sense -- in the same way as everything is constituted by its intrinsic flux: energy (particle, substance), water (waterfall), material / mental metabolism (living being, group, city, nation), value (economy), conceptual content (metaphor, proposition, mathematical equation), etc., etc.. Hierarchical problems 'within' alive units, especially humans with thoughts independent of the body, stop arising as soon as one acknowledges these as part of the constitutive flux.

This form of self-referentiality, applying content fully to itself via its own intrinsic 'opposite', does not encounter the limit of systems that presuppose something for operating on content, because in this approach the content can fully unravel according to its own nature. The topic is taken as it is, with no primal distinction, not even 'subject'–'object'. The resulting structure is self-equilibrated, totally adequate to the content. Unity and differentiation are in perfect equilibrium. This view is uncompromising -- in contrast to usual ones, which lead to the destructive myth of control and domination.

In principle, any content whatsoever can be pursued and fulfilled in this way. The result always is a set of four conjugated categories. Like the basic polarities, they must be viewed conjointly; otherwise distortions arise. The categories are heuristically relevant: they disclose no direct object predicates (like: 'this is red'), but can guide observation (like: 'look out for colour') by disclosing the 'enveloping' order of intelligibility as opposed to the 'objectual' order of manipulability. It is a complete approach on the categoreal level, complementing in an exact rationalist vein the empricist approach that seeks object predicates and offers images for dialogue. Only both sides together constitute an organically competent scientific endeavour.

For those who would like to see more details, I am attaching here a PDF version of an article, which was published nearly two year ago, and received very well (for what we discuss here, see sections 3 - 5, page 11 - 28). There are also online texts, for example an application of my approach to the fundamental problem in economics, on www.paecon.net[/url] (under "Student essays": "Focusing on methodology"), or a general presentation, but in German, on [url]www.marburger-forum.de[/URL] ("Begriffliche Bedingungen fuer den Umgang mit Ganzheit und Gewissheit).

So much for today (the posts are limited to 10'000 signs). What do think so far? I also wonder what others think.
 
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  • #33
sascha
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Sorry, I forgot to add the PDF in the post above, and in editing the forum software would not accept an attachment... And then, in this short new post, it always produced an error in transferring the PDF. Bizarre. Whoever would like that PDF file, can ask me directly on sascha@magnet.ch

It contains quite a long section on the use of his approach for physics. But I would like to go beyond that now -- for example through this forum.
 
  • #34
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
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Originally posted by sascha
There is a conceptual side to this approach, and (for those who are interested) also a path of mental practice, about which I might talk if somebody expresses this interest. Here I outline the conceptual side.

Sascha, I'm interested in what you have to say about the mental practice, if you would care to elaborate.

As for the conceptual side, I find your ideas intriguing but I have difficulty envisioning putting them into practice. Can you give some more concrete examples, especially with your dialectical 'tetrad'? Can you define 'content' as you have been using it? How would you use your method to resolve, for instance, the liar's paradox? For that matter, how would you use it to resolve the apparent paradoxes of quantum mechanics?
 
  • #35
sascha
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Thanks, Hypnagogue, for your pertinent questions. I will gladly get into them. Let me structure them into the order that I will follow in answering them. And let me say that you can find some of the answers, even if not all, in that article I mention as a PDF file. So now we will approach

(a) the mental practice that allows to proceed safely on the path I propose;
(b) the concreteness of utility of the dialectical 'tetrad', as a principle and in examples;
(c) the meaning of 'content', as I have been using this term;
(d) resolving the liar's paradox by means of the proposed approach;
(e) resolving the apparent paradoxes of quantum mechanics.

I will fit briefly all the points into this post, and then maybe add another one for details.

Ad (a)
The mental path consists in mastering the discipline of consciously letting our 'mental radio station' 'go dead', sustaining the intended content instead. Sustained receptive concentration finally filters out everything pointless, however vague. This is meant practically, empirically. Try yourself, experience the effect of sustained mental 'pulling' instead of 'pushing'. Self-clarification is first physical (fully relax the body: attentively accompany all muscles to the zero-force overall equilibrium), then psychic (appease idiosyncrasies, 'peace of mind': attentively accompany all thoughts to the silence of overall equilibrium), and then takes care of chosen content (allowing it -- eg. a question, a mathematical equation, etc. -- to equilibrate itself according to itself: attentively accompany the complex of content until it is poised relaxedly in itself).

Depending on the person, her interests and degree of psychic mixup, the mental discipline of sticking to a topic for its own sake may require special patience. Nevertheless, this is the totally honest way of doing philosophy or science; real progress always draws from this well. I only propose a new systematization, with a Hegelian touch.

In case you follow the example of querying processuality (not some other question), you will see that the principle of basic equilibria, as it appears in this account of the mental path, pertains to that categoreality. I chose it because here too the essential feature is how to organize a process. I have a lot more material on this mental practice, but I thought this might be sufficient for starters.

Ad (b)
Hopefully this has already shown you one splinter of practical utility of a dialectical 'tetrad'. The value of these tetrads is heuristic. As mentioned, they offer a guidance in what to look out for. They do not directly generate object predicates. In other words, the main issue is that these tetrads (fournesses of categories) offer a concrete guideline for observation (e.g. as phenomenological work, which is -- if really carefully done -- the most elaborate version of observing). This heuristic quality is a feature that today's mainstream philosophy cannot offer. The heuristics today are spread out in a vast mixture in the full range between trial-and-error and genius intuition (Einstein type, Feynman type, etc.).

In contrast, the categoreality proposed here is simultaneously totally strict and universally valid. In other words, e.g. the tetrad of processuality can be applied to any 'thing' (process) in the whole universe. In strictly all cases one can seek (i) its 'law' aspect; (ii) its 'force' aspect; (iii) the 'disequilibriability of its force structure', and (iv) the 'fundamental equilibrium of all forces of its structure'. Compared to other disciplines, this is relatively easy for a physicist to understand: that is how he sees a particle, including its metamorphoses into other particles. We will get into the 'wave' – 'particle' duality below; here it is sufficient to say that any good physicist knows that the two 'sides' are finally aspects of the same 'thing' -- results that depend on how one approaches it. This is precisely my point all along.

[Just to sum up briefly the example of querying processuality, here are the practical steps: First we query 'form' (that which sets the move into motions), then 'matter' (the necessary 'background' or 'mirror'); we ask (self-referentially): (a) what is the 'form' aspect of the 'form' aspect? and (b) what is the 'matter' aspect of the 'form' aspect? In the language of our days, the 'form of form' is the 'intrinsic law' aspect of the process / 'thing'; the 'matter of form' is the 'force' aspect of the process / 'thing'. 'Things' appear as structures of force, i.e. organized forces. In a second step, we can ask: (c) what is the 'form' aspect of the 'matter' aspect? and (b) what is the 'matter' aspect of the 'matter' aspect? Here 'form of matter' is the 'disequilibriability of force structures', while 'matter of matter' is the 'basic equilibrium of all forces of a structure'.]

Ad (c)
The term 'content' is meant here roughly as what Tom (in his thread on logic) has named 'statement' or 'proposition' -- as opposed to the 'carrier' of the meaning, i.e. the sentence, blips on the screen, etc. More in detail and less formally, 'content' is whatever is implied in the need to know. After all, in what it can explicit, a science is never complete, as there always is a gap between formulations and reality. There is always a need to go further somehow. This is the main substance of debate in the thread "incomplete knowledge".

What is intriguing in the tetradic categorization (proposed here) is that this manages to be complete -- because it is on a level beyond 'names and predicates'. This is the important difference between the 'language of intelligibility' and the 'language of manipulability'. But even here, the explicit formulation of the categories can always be made a bit more clear, or must be adapted to some cultural preference (think e.g. of how people talked differently about 'laws of nature' at the different stages of civilization).

Ad (d)
The proposition "I am lying now" can mislead to believe the (conceptual) entity stating to be lying is the (material) 'I'. A self-aware process of thinking something shows three levels to be distinguished: I1 links the concept produced by I2 to match the content experienced by I3. In this approach paradox is not avoided, but solved by actual insight.

It is interesting that research on paradoxes lately is finding that all paradoxes are a result of using conceptual elements that have not sufficiently been clarified. There is the nice example "explaining a joke is to kill the joke" -- because jokes, like paradoxes, rest on ambiguous conceptual elements. This is why all formal approaches to philosophy have trouble with metaphores and the like -- while exactly such 'vague' uses of language are needed at every turn of the road, i.e. when something really new appears that must be understood. You will find that Aristotle knew more about this creative need than the oh-so-serious "analytic" philosophers now.

This reminds me that I am curious about what Tom thinks, since he talked e.g. about "sidestepping" Goedel's theorem, not actually solving it. Yet that is precisely the interesting point.

Ad (e)
For this point, the PDF file is also useful, in sections 4 and 5. I will quote some of that, with a few interjections. I will put that into the next post. Here I can sum up the issue in the following way:

The seeming 'graininess' of reality, which is currently being followed down to the Planck level, is due to the habit of wanting to see the good old 'pieces', observable 'things' -- instead of proceeding in strictly universal categories, which don't have this threshold problem.

In my approach, the differences between one 'thing' and another 'thing' -- e.g. as quanta -- arises from not grasping that by looking only 'from outside' (not universally, i.e. in the "view from nowhere" that Thomas Nagel has been dreaming of) has the effect that one does not acknowledge the intrinsic law of one force structure as being an otherness against another force structure. The 'otherness' quality is what "perturbs" the configuration by observing / measuring, which indeed implies an otherness. In the last resort the 'otherness' accounts for the impression that matter is something palpable.

The quantum "paradoxes" are a result of reality not being 'pieces'. QT has been getting closer to this insight, inch by inch, in the course of a nearly century. But is has not yet developed the conceptual (or more exactly categoreal) means for coming fully to grips which what this really means. Which is what I am proposing.
 

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