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Mysical, Randomness & Determinism

  1. Sep 18, 2004 #1
    A hundred questions about reality and truth, but let I start with just three.

    Explaining my point

    I would like to define the term mysical. Mysical phenomena are the physical phenomena that many would call non-physical, or the non-physical phenomena that many would call physical, like 1) the abstract world (logical and mathematical propositions, infinity and relationships concepts (determinism)), 2) the subjective world (ideas, emotions, feelings, control, will) and 3) the living world (life itself).
    I will discern mysical and material phenomena. Material phenomena aren’t merily composed out of ‘matter’, but I impute light e.g. also within its scope.

    I would like to convey my concept of randomness in regard to nature. It’s my opinion that it’s impossible to know if it’s deterministic or randomly. If we observe a random phenomenom like radioactive decay, it’s always possible to suggest some underlying principle or law. The randomness in that case is pseudo-randomness caused by a chaotic system, whos slightly different starting parameters give rise to a whole range of possible (seemingly random) outcomes. But we are not done yet! It’s always possible to suggest some underlying randomness in regard to these starting points. You can not be sure what is the nature of the ‘deepest’ level.

    ‘Physical’ determinism suggests that the deepest level obeys a law. There is always a relation between an event and another. Nothing happens totally random (except the first cause?). I suggest that everything that happens is a mix between laws and randomness. In regard to time: every state depends of the state before and some random noise.


    Can the mysical exist without the material?

    Would randomness explain the difference between reality and the mysical (ideas and concepts e.g.)? If every event contains some true randomness how could it be identical to a concept? That’s only possible by chance!

    How can symmetry breaking explained without chance? Requirements? Aren’t the requirements at random?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2004 #2
    Other questions

    Chance & Reality
    4) How narrowly is chance related with reality? If something happens by pure chance, something else could happen too. Why should just this option be called ‘real’?

    Chance & Matter
    5) How narrowly is chance related with matter? What about the concept of ‘probability waves’? Doesn’t this indicate a manner to assign a kind of ‘reality factor’ to matter? What about the concept of ‘virtual particles’?

    6) Is energy related with laws or randomness? Does a event-cause relationship imply a kind of energy? Or does the differences obtained by randomness?

    7) Does something contain information as it obeys laws or as it contains randomness? Is it not a mixture of both?

    8) Is there a need for a big bang if matter arises spontaneously continously? There is no need for a first - special, unique - cause when there are random causes. A random cause is not caused itself (randomness isn’t an actor).

    The mysical from an alien perspective
    9) Would a non-physical entity (a real alien) recognize us as ‘living’ or would it see us as extremely sophisticated physical plants/structures? What makes the mysical non-physical? (This handles only the life-aspect of the mysical phenomena).

    Reality, singular or plural?
    10) Is the mysical just as real as the material? Is it just the coupling between it that mankind thinks that the mysical can be reduced to the material?

    Relation with the 'pure physics' discussion
    Many ideas and concepts I read in the topic Can everything be reduced to pure physics? have I used to ponder my questions in a form you already used.

    Aliens and the physical
    Reality or realities
    I most often agree with you, Les Sleeth.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2004
  4. Sep 18, 2004 #3
    Words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a given context. Not least of all, words such as "Reality", "Truth", and "Symmetry Breaking".

    For all anyone knows, what we call symmetry breaking has symmetrical origins. An example of this can be seen in Fractal Geometry. What may superficially appear to us to be utterly random often displays symmetry upon closer analysis. The opposite has also occured, what often superfically appears very orderly to us has upon closer inspection turned out to have apparently random and chaotic origins.

    Note that it is impossible to prove a negative. By definition the random, chaotic, mystical, etc. are merely the absence of demonstrable order. To ask the question of "how can symmetry breaking be explained by chance" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. By definition the random has no order and, thus, no explanation.
  5. Sep 18, 2004 #4
    I know. If something isn't clear just ask. Where did I use the words 'reality' and 'truth' else than in the first sentence where I talked about pondering questions or in questioning form (4)? I stated all of above to make my gut feelings about 'reality' and 'truth' a little bit more tangible. Not to define them beforehand.

    Order turns out to be random
    Most people are determinists in some kind of way and wouldn't suggest the latter. Can you give me an example?

    Disproving impossible
    I did note that. See the last line under 'Randomness' in my first post.

    Symmetry breaking
    a) Symmetrical origins, but with restraints! Why are the restraints such as they are? A bar bends when a certain force is applied, why that 'certain' amount? How can symmetry account for asymmetry?
    b) If we don't have an explanation for something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. We can't 'explain' true randomness just as we can't 'explain' determinism.
  6. Sep 18, 2004 #5
    Quantum Mechanics is the most obvious example of a discovery that something people assumed was orderly turned out to be random.

    Again, words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a given context. What looks asymmetrical to us today may not tomorrow. Likewise, the idea of "pure" or "true" randomness or determinism has no demonstrable meaning without a specific context.

    It's along the same lines as saying everything is pure energy. What the heck does that mean? It also introduces it's own contradiction. If everything is symmetrical, then asymmetry is symmetrical.

    Go figure. :cry:
  7. Sep 19, 2004 #6
    No context and no meaning?

    My words have no meaning or no context
    IMHO this is what you're saying about what I've written. :grumpy: Sorry? 1) I am just asking questions regarding randomness and determinism. 2) I gave my opinion that it's a relativistic issue* (we can't know what is 'actually' the case), 3) I am not playing semantic games, but proposing ideas.

    What the heck?
    What idea seems to be weird to you? Can you be a little bit more explicit?

    Ideas versus words
    I don't like it when persons judge on words in stead of the ideas contained within. If you are a relativist in regard to every verbal utterance, why do you mind to answer? Why do you take my words into consideration? If you don't understand the ideas I supposed, then ask. If you don't have the slightest idea what the difference would be between symmetry and asymmetry, between laws and changes, between randomness and pseudo-randomness, between today and tomorrow, between heck and mean, I can't help you.

    *so there is no need to repeat that
  8. Sep 19, 2004 #7
    I think I understand what you are trying to say, it is just that the way you are expressing it is rather ackward in my opinion.

    First off, to say that "Everything is relative" is, ironically, to make an absolute statement. It is along the lines of saying "There are no limits." The statement contradicts itself by imposing a limit, the limit that there are NO LIMITS. Or in your case, the limitation that you have made an absolute statement about relativity.

    This is not merely a semantic issue, but a formal logic issue and a linguistic issue. For example, To answer your questions based upon the assertions you gave:

    1) If everything is relative, then the material IS the mystical, and existence IS nonexistence.

    2)True randomness IS true order.... etc. etc.

    3)Symmetry breaking can be explained by randomness because the random IS the ordered, etc, etc.

    As you can see, the entire discussion can be broken down into a meaningless equivalence. Because words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a specific context, the only way to clearly communicate your ideas is present them in specific contexts.

    For example, 42 explains life, the universe, and everything. OK, so what the heck does that mean? Life, the universe, and everything is not a specific context so you can feel free to substitute any number or word that you want and the meaning of the sentence is still just as clear as mudd. :surprised
  9. Sep 20, 2004 #8

    I am not saying that everything is relative [1]!! I just wrote that down to say that I am not sure of my ideas, I can not say that they are the 'truth' and the 'truth' only. It are just some brackets around the whole issue, and I am ignoring them!

    In that (not-everything-is-relative) framework [2], I am talking about the next issue. The duality of laws and randomness. Laws and randomness can appear as such, but can be described with their opposite on a level lower. That is the (laws-versus-randomness-relativity) framework [3]. I go further. In the (everything-is-described-by-laws / deterministic) framework [4] I am talking about the phenomenon of pseudo-randomness. Chaotic systems can only serve as amplifiers of (pseudo?)randomness. Where does that pseudo-randomness come from? Somewhere randomness has to appear in the equations, and that's why I reject determinism.

    So these assertions I didn't make, because it's fine for me to work in framework 2.
  10. Sep 20, 2004 #9
    I am obviously about as confused as possible. Sorry, perhaps someone else can follow what you are trying to say.
  11. Sep 20, 2004 #10
    The chosen framework

    The philosophical system is a kind of hierarchy:
    • Everything is relative [1]
    • Not everything is relative [2]
      • Law/change is relative [3]
      • Law/change is not relative*
        • Change is determined; change doesn't exist; the world is deterministic [4a]
        • Change is indetermined; change does exist; the world is indeterministic [4b]

    My conclusions were that [4a] seems to be wrong. Change can not be determined. So within the chosen* framework [4b] is right. (My conclusion was also that [3] seems to be right, but I didn't use that axiom) (I even don't disagree with [1], but I would reformulate it as: "every other statement is relativistic" :biggrin: I didn't use this axiom either)

    *This is the source for my thoughts to consider the influence of randomness in the world. Regarding 'real' events versus concepts, regarding 'real' particles versus virtual particles, regarding 'information' and so on (see post 1 & 2). So this has to be seen in its proper context, you're right about that. :smile:
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2004
  12. Sep 20, 2004 #11
    Ok, if the top of the heirarchy is the fact that everything is relative, this still sounds to me like you are stating a contradiction, a paradox. If so, then you can fill in the blanks that follow any way you want and it still makes the same amount of sense, that is, none whatsoever.
  13. Sep 20, 2004 #12
    What? Didn't you notice the use of indents? Ha ha, you're accusing me of relativism while I'm not. Very strange situation. How can I convince you? I am reasoning within the framework noted by a *.
  14. Sep 22, 2004 #13

    Les Sleeth

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    Well, you must be on the right track then!

    My view on one meaning of mystical is not that it is randomness per se, but rather it is the feeling a logical, reasoning mind gets when it is unable to find a fitting concept for something. It is consciousness that is "mystified," but that which is mystifying it may make perfect sense. However, there is another variety of mysticalness which I've written about extensively here at PF.

    In the realm of consciousness potentials (and in the field of religious studies), the term "mystical" has been formally applied to the experience associated with union. That experience is not mental or conceptual, and can so cannot be understood intellectually. It can ONLY be experienced, and the experience itself brings a unique understanding that is decidedly non-intellectual. Now, those standing outside the experience, relying on mentality to try to understand union experience, say it is "mystical" (or "deluded" if you are an ultra-skeptic). But those experiencing it understand it perfectly in the very intuitive way it can only be understood. So is the experience itself mystical, or is it that those looking at it sans experience are mystified?

    What makes union experience mystical to mentality is that it works exactly opposite of it. The processes of mentality are multifaceted (e.g., analysis, synthesis, etc.), but union experience requires consciousness to be whole, one, unified. So if one tries to "think" oneness, it's futile! Yet the two aren't in competition (i.e., within a single consciousness capable of both), but rather union is added to one's consciousness skills and serves as sort of the overview one maintains, with thinking pushed back to a subordinate role. And while the person who is able to both think and practice union can understand how they coexist, the person unfamiliar with union can never figure it out. So I’m saying one sort of mystical is a particular "unstructured" experience viewed from the structured perspective of mentality.

    Obviously none of that answers your points about the relationship between the order found in physical processes and randomness. I see that as another issue really, but I don't think there is any doubt the relationship exists. Your question about energy is directly related to that since energy doesn't become available without increasing the randomness of the universe. The whole universe is moving that way (toward randomness), and if it weren't nothing could have developed or evolved.

    Of course, we don't know if the universe's entropic movement toward randomness will eventually result in a chaotic state; it just might end up in a very ordered equilibrium state. For example, say you have a perfectly smooth and still mountain lake, then there is a small earthquake and the surface of the pond vibrates rhythmically. During that time there is an order to the waves appearing on the pond, and after the vibrations stop, the waves chaotically return to the perfectly still condition. So the return is chaotic, but the condition if finally reaches has the built-in order of a contained body of water, the structure of H2O molecules, surface tension, etc.

    Likewise, the randomness we observe as the universe winds down may not be indicative of the ultimate state that will be reached. In fact, to my mind the ultimate state cannot be chaotic because of the stability of physical processes we presently observe. I think beneath physical stability and the randomness of its disorganization (entropy) must lie a stable foundational plane out of which the universe’s order and duration originally arose, and to which it is now returning. Speculating what that foundational potentiality is “like” is one of my favorite subjects.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2004
  15. Sep 22, 2004 #14

    Mystical / mysical
    Yes I used the term 'mysical' (omitting the 't'), because it resembles more the not that loaded term 'physical', but tries to take into considerations phenomena that by many people not are considered as physical.

    Random questions
    The questions are about the ontological value of 'randomness' (does it exist?), from which pseudo-randomness could spring, what kind of influence randomness would have in this world, did it exist 'all the time', can laws arise out of randomness, what exactly is the 'grade' of randomness observed in quantum mechanics, what about the most influentual stochastical theory nowadays: quantum theory. I think the duality determinism versus randomness is some common denominator regarding these issues.

    Union experience
    Can you refer me to the posts where you're exposing the core of your thoughts? I would be interested between the differences between 'ordinary experience' and 'union experience', it's not a sensual or emotional experience either? The 'mystical' experiences I had I'd describe as loosing 'sensual experience'; a drifting in nothing. I see it as a kind of delution, yes. :devil:
    For me, reality contain things that happen by chance, and that's why experiments don't work always. Instantaneous, rare events are - due to its nature - not obtainable by inductive reasoning, or other sophisticated but restricted scientific methods. It's good common practise not to be subjective, but sometimes personal stories and experiences do convey extra information and can't be neglected.

    Deepened self-awareness?
    I'd call it a depeened self-awareness, or awareness of 'reality'. I don't see it as a very special experience (qualitatively).

    Unstructured / randomness
    That's quite on-topic. :wink:

    Extrapoling the entropy law
    Does everyone have thermo-dynamical concept of decreasing randomness in the universe on this board? Does this mean that randomness was not always there? Can I extrapolate this principle to that moment in which everything was fully determinable / fully without chance? This is what fysics want to do, isn't it? Isn't that strange?

    To be / to know
    Yes, many ontological systems will map unto our observable reality. We can't know what is 'actual' the case, if there is such a reality.

    A 'fundament', an utopia
    That's a nice thought, almost as nice as the universalistic thought of morality. About to-good-to-be-real concepts I am always doubtful. A world without pain, a world in which there is no evil. Mankind is paradise minded.
  16. Sep 28, 2004 #15

    Les Sleeth

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    Good questions, but impossible to answer of course. We can inductively imagine what conditions had to have been like to create the conditions we now experience. I like that sort of inductive exercise, but it never really answers any questions once and for all. The model I have been working on for some time has randomness as a lesser part of an absolute ontological principle; it is part of something, some "stuff" (I call it illumination) that is uncreated, infinite, and so mutable it can become all the things which now exist. The randomness of this existential stuff would have to have the potential to accidentally shape itself into an ordered state, and in that way all the order we now see could have sprung from it.

    You might check out my threads on "Empirical Induction/Panpsychic Consciousness" and the "Buddha and Dennet" dialogue; also interesting points were brought up in a thread on enlightenment in the archives. A search should find the relevant posts.

    It is a very deep subject actually. You might want to study it first before forming opinions.

    Well, you are at a physics site, and entropy is incredibly important to the formation of the physical universe.

    In terms of existence without chance, try this analogy (another water analogy, of course). Say you could compress an ocean into the size of an atom. At that point you'd be in control of the ocean in the sense you'd have the power to hold it in a compressed state. Now say you gradually release the pressure so the sphere begins to expand. You are still in control of what is happening overall, but inside the compressed sphere are dynamics going on which you can't control. It doesn't affect your decompression rate or effort, but it is not minutely controlled nonetheless.

    Similarly, I suspect there are forces controling the universe overall, but within that is randomness which doesn't have any effect on the overall situation. So there is no reason to necessarily make a paradox out of randomness and order; both might exist simultaneously and be intimately intwined.

    My suggestion, that at the base of what created the universe is something ordered, is not utopian . . . it is practical. I simply cannot see how the structure of the universe, and the somewhat orderly way it is disorganizing itself, could have arisen straight from chaotic circumstances. As I said above, ultimately the "absolute stuff" of existence might all have a strong chaotic aspect. But it seems to me that if order is established out of chaos by chance, then some set of organizational steps would be needed to form a "foundation" from which further order could spring. I guess I am simply saying that there appears to be too much order in the universe to have come straight from chaos.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2004
  17. Apr 1, 2005 #16
    i'm always dumbfoundled by the desire to ponder about these unfathomable subjects. As of now it is a waste of time, albeit a fairly entertaining waste of time :)

    The fact is:
    Randomness is irellevant per se... probability is the key. you cannot predetermine a random event, so you can only rely on probability...
    until more grounds have been broken in the physics research, you simply have to accept that the universe is governed by probability.

    and btw. what is the point in pointing out that 'everything is relative' is an absolute statement? split hairs are annoying ...
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
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