Robert Campbell

The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics

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I guess that an elephant gives birth to another elephant but not to a tiger, a snake, a boulder, a piano, or a limerick, isn't "much at all."

LOL! I guess an amoeba can never become an Einstein then - only another amoeba! Are you really going to go there Merlin?

Further that doesn't violate the Law of Identity at all. Because if an elephant was ever to give birth to a boulder or a piano, the LOI would simply reassure us that it was in its nature to do so! - just as it was in the amoeba's nature to become an Einstein.

What are the specific characteristics of an elephant that would enable it to give birth to a piano?

That's the great thing about the identity theory of causation -- it doesn't permit you to fantasize and then call it philosophical reasoning. We might call this a line of demarcation between foolishness and philosophy. Which side of the line are you on?

Ghs

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Here's something I've always had a problem with when I encounter the argument that a tautology does not tell you anything about reality (within the context of calling the fundamental axioms tautologies).

There is always an insinuation that a tautology has no relation to reality, that it is just a word that describes itself. Thus any connection it may have to reality is irrelevant at best.

Yet they accept that something has to exist before it can be real enough to describe.

I see a contradiction (a stolen concept, to be more precise). I am curious as to why they don't.

Michael

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Here's something I've always had a problem with when I encounter the argument that a tautology does not tell you anything about reality (within the context of calling the fundamental axioms tautologies).

There is always an insinuation that a tautology has no relation to reality, that it is just a word that describes itself. Thus any connection it may have to reality is irrelevant at best.

Michael

There's a radical difference between people who think primarily in terms of reality and people who think primarily in terms of what is already floating about in their heads. The first kind have reality to refer to and understand the tautology; the second kind have no clue what is being referred to. The first kind find inductive reasoning normal and natural; the second kind cannot do it at all, genuinely new thoughts are alien and anathema.

Shayne

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I am sorry Martin, but you cannot actually imagine infinity, and its absurd to say so. You can actually imagine until you die of sleep but you will only have imagined a finite amount of things, vast black reachs of space or a string of eights lying on their sides - but they will be a finite number of black spaces and lemniscates.

"Goes on forever" and "doesn't reach an edge" are not definitions of infinity. They are definitions of unboundedness. These are two separate concepts You can potentially walk around the surface of a sphere forever and not reach an end. That doesn't make the surface of a sphere infinite.

What is the problem of a universe that doesn't have an actual size? Where no real relation exists between the size of a real entity and the universe as a whole?

Can you explain to me the problem with dividing a number by zero? Do you remember the expression being called undefined?

The concept of size depends on the notion of a defined unit. If the universe is the sum of all objects, then it has the size of those objects. To say that all units lack size is to use the abstraction to deny the concrete upon which it is based.

Mathematically, infinity "equals" a constant divided by zero

n/0 = infinity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_by_zero

Equations with such undefined terms are not valid equations - they are the exact mathematical equivalent of a contradiction in logic.

Fallacies based on division by zero

It is possible to disguise a special case of division by zero in an algebraic argument,[1] leading to spurious proofs that 1 = 2 such as the following:

With the following assumptions:

59fbcec15fbbc8744c0a4309c126a8a8.pngThe following must be true:

d2e283e91dee2cad966314a84da9f1d5.pngDividing by zero gives:

469c83d5e0959e4caaceea20df153c53.pngSimplified, yields:

c4c9b852c938da096b69fc257a7a8d82.pngThe fallacy is the implicit assumption that dividing by 0 is a legitimate operation.

The supposed opposition finite universe - i.e., universe with defined traits - versus and infinite universe, with undefined traits, is the same as a contradictory versus a non-contradictory universe. There is no contradictory universe. There is no such alternative, and the subject is not one that requires faith or further investigation.

An infinite universe is one in which all statements about the universe are both true and false. That is what some people call a contradiction. Check your premises.

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n/0 = infinity

n/0 is undefined. If n != 0 then there exists no number m such that n = 0*m. 0/0 is also undefined. There exist no unique m such that 0/0 = m. This is so because 0 = 0*m for any number m. In any case n/0 is not infinity or any other number. n/0 is undefined and 0/0 is indeterminate. Neither is well defined.

Let n and x both be non-zero. Then n/x has a large magnitude if x has a small magnitude*. Given an large number N one can find a magnitude W such that n/x > N is magnitude of x is less than W. In short, n/x can be made as large as one likes if one makes x small enough.

Ba'al Chatzaf

*magnitude is sometimes called absolute value.

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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Here's something I've always had a problem with when I encounter the argument that a tautology does not tell you anything about reality (within the context of calling the fundamental axioms tautologies).

There is always an insinuation that a tautology has no relation to reality, that it is just a word that describes itself. Thus any connection it may have to reality is irrelevant at best.

Yet they accept that something has to exist before it can be real enough to describe.

I see a contradiction (a stolen concept, to be more precise). I am curious as to why they don't.

Michael

There are two points to be made here.

First, a tautology is not the same thing as a self-evident truth. All tautologies are self-evident truths, but not all self-evident truths are tautologies.

Second, consider the tautology "A is A." This axiom serves as a foundation and regulator of our reasoning. If you defend a position that, when analyzed, says that A is not A, then you have a serious problem on your hands.

This is really the point of the identity theory of causation. If you posit causal chaos, this reduces to the statement that nothing is what it is. This is a meaningless statement, so the anti-causal theory that entails it is bunk.

The identity theory of causation does not tell us about particular causes and particular effects -- these are things we learn from experience -- but it can tell us when we are speaking gibberish.

This is particularly useful when dealing with physicists. :rolleyes:

Ghs

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n/0 = infinity

n/0 is undefined. If n != 0 then there exists no number m such that n = 0*m. 0/0 is also undefined. There exist no unique m such that 0/0 = m. This is so because 0 = 0*m for any number m. In any case n/0 is not infinity or any other number. n/0 is undefined and 0/0 is indeterminate. Neither is well defined.

Let n and x both be non-zero. Then n/x has a large magnitude if x has a small magnitude*. Given an large number N one can find a magnitude W such that n/x > N is magnitude of x is less than W. In short, n/x can be made as large as one likes if one makes x small enough.

Ba'al Chatzaf

*magnitude is sometimes called absolute value.

Well, of course, n/x -> infinity as as x-> 0. I did not want to confuse the matter above. The point is that as the universe reaches infinite size, all real entities reach zero size. Certainly you do not deny this.

Large enough is not actually infinity. An infinitesimal is not actually zero.

If the universe is "actually" infinite in mass or other such attributes, Bob, is the relation of a body of finite mass defined in relation to that of the universe, or undefined?

Edited by Ted Keer

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What are the specific characteristics of an elephant that would enable it to give birth to a piano?

There's a perfectly good scientific theory called genetics that not only explains why an elephant will probably not give birth to a piano, but also might explain how an amoeba might become an Einstein. No antique Scholastic spells need be invoked.

That's the great thing about a testable theory - it doesn't let you pass off pretentious verbal posturing as important intellectual endeavour. Which side of the line are you on?

Edited by Daniel Barnes

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What are the specific characteristics of an elephant that would enable it to give birth to a piano?

There's a perfectly good scientific theory called genetics that not only explains why an elephant will probably not give birth to a piano, but also might explain how an amoeba might become an Einstein. No antique Scholastic spells need be invoked.

That's the great thing about a testable theory - it doesn't let you pass off pretentious verbal posturing as important intellectual endeavour. Which side of the line are you on?

No, genetics does not prove that a piano cannot miraculously slip out of an elephant's Kant.

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What are the specific characteristics of an elephant that would enable it to give birth to a piano?

There's a perfectly good scientific theory called genetics that not only explains why an elephant will probably not give birth to a piano, but also might explain how an amoeba might become an Einstein. No antique Scholastic spells need be invoked.

That's the great thing about a testable theory - it doesn't let you pass off pretentious verbal posturing as important intellectual endeavour. Which side of the line are you on?

No, genetics does not prove that a piano cannot miraculously slip out of an elephant's Kant.

Well then neither does the LOI!

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What are the specific characteristics of an elephant that would enable it to give birth to a piano?

There's a perfectly good scientific theory called genetics that not only explains why an elephant will probably not give birth to a piano, but also might explain how an amoeba might become an Einstein. No antique Scholastic spells need be invoked.

That's the great thing about a testable theory - it doesn't let you pass off pretentious verbal posturing as important intellectual endeavour. Which side of the line are you on?

No, genetics does not prove that a piano cannot miraculously slip out of an elephant's Kant.

Well then neither does the LOI!

No. The law of identity does not 'prove' anything - in the sense of providing concrete evidence for specific claims. One cannot deduce any specific truths from it alone. But my statement above is only trivially true because it amounts to saying you can't prove a negative.

The law of identity is 'merely' a restatement of the facts. But it cannot be denied. One cannot claim that a thing is not what it is. One cannot, for example, claim that the universe is not the size that it is. And claims that a quantum entity is both particle-like and wavelike are not denials of the law of identity. The nature of such entities is to be both wavelike and particle like. There are plenty of claims made by would-be philosophers which are thrown out of court because they violate it.

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Aspect's Experimental Set-Up

Here's a section from The Age of Entanglement which describes Alain Aspect's becoming excited by Bell's 1964 paper and explaining to Bell an idea for an improved experimental design.

It also includes material on the status meanwhile of two other experimenters, Clauser and Fry.

There are morsels of nourishment for everyone's respective biases in the excerpt. I'll reserve comments for later.

============

Since this thread has become incredibly long and has many different subjects going at once, I started a new thread on the topic of Quantum Entanglement and moved the book excerpt there.

LINK

Ellen

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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I am sorry Martin, but you cannot actually imagine infinity, and its absurd to say so. You can actually imagine until you die of sleep but you will only have imagined a finite amount of things, vast black reachs of space or a string of eights lying on their sides - but they will be a finite number of black spaces and lemniscates.

Here you appear to be equating imagining with counting or visualizing. They are not the same thing. It would take me infinitely long to count an infinite number of entities in an infinite universe, but that doesn't mean that I can't imagine such a thing, only that I can't count it or visualize it. Then again, according to the BBT, the universe is finite but at least several hundred billion light years in size. Can you visualize an unbounded universe several hundred billion light years across, with untold billions of galaxies, each with billions and billions of stars? Can you count all these stars? Of course not. But you can certainly imagine it.

"Goes on forever" and "doesn't reach an edge" are not definitions of infinity. They are definitions of unboundedness. These are two separate concepts You can potentially walk around the surface of a sphere forever and not reach an end. That doesn't make the surface of a sphere infinite.

You're correct that infinite and unbounded are not the same thing. When I said that in an infinite universe, space goes on and on forever, I wasn't using this as a definition but as a characteristic. I also said that an infinite universe went on forever without ever repeating the same region of space. Whereas in a finite yet unbounded universe, you would eventually return to the same region of space.

What is the problem of a universe that doesn't have an actual size? Where no real relation exists between the size of a real entity and the universe as a whole?

Can you explain to me the problem with dividing a number by zero? Do you remember the expression being called undefined?

You keep insisting that there has to be an actual ratio between the size of the universe and the size of a real entity within the universe. This is just question begging. There can only exist such a ratio if the universe is finite in size. So assuming that such a ratio must exist is to already assume that the universe is finite. But there is no logical reason to assume this.

Your use of a mathematical analogy is rather ironic, since you criticized DF for using a mathematical analogy between the infinite set of real numbers and the universe to justify a possibly infinite universe. Now you are attempting to use a mathematical analogy to prove the opposite. Neither analogy proves anything. The universe is real physical existence. Mathematics is an abstraction.

The concept of size depends on the notion of a defined unit. If the universe is the sum of all objects, then it has the size of those objects. To say that all units lack size is to use the abstraction to deny the concrete upon which it is based.

I have no idea what you're talking about. You can define anything you want as a "unit" of the universe. For example, you could say that each cubic kilometer of space is one unit. Well, if the universe is finite, then there would only be a finite number of such units. If the universe is infinite, then there would be an infinite number of such units. In neither case does the unit lack size. The unit as you have defined it is one cubic kilometer of space, whether the universe is finite or infinite. The only difference is that the finite universe has a finite number of such units, while the infinite universe has an infinite number of such units.

Mathematically, infinity "equals" a constant divided by zero

n/0 = infinity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_by_zero

Equations with such undefined terms are not valid equations - they are the exact mathematical equivalent of a contradiction in logic.

You are drawing a completely inapplicable analogy between a mathematical expression and the physical universe. It's true that expressions with a divide by zero are undefined. This has absolutely nothing to do with the physical universe. There is no logical contradiction to an infinite universe.

Martin

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I am sorry Martin, but you cannot actually imagine infinity, and its absurd to say so. You can actually imagine until you die of sleep but you will only have imagined a finite amount of things, vast black reachs of space or a string of eights lying on their sides - but they will be a finite number of black spaces and lemniscates.

Here you appear to be equating imagining with counting or visualizing. They are not the same thing. It would take me infinitely long to count an infinite number of entities in an infinite universe, but that doesn't mean that I can't imagine such a thing, only that I can't count it or visualize it. Then again, according to the BBT, the universe is finite but at least several hundred billion light years in size. Can you visualize an unbounded universe several hundred billion light years across, with untold billions of galaxies, each with billions and billions of stars? Can you count all these stars? Of course not. But you can certainly imagine it.

To imagine is to form an image, whether visual or otherwise. You are not forming an image. At best you are defining the term negatively, and saying to yourself that you imagine not stopping. But this is a definition by negative terms. You have not reduced your abstraction to its concretes. To fail to do so is to fail to understand Objectivism.

I most certainly can imagine 100 Billion stars. A cube of ten stars by ten stars by ten stars has a thousand stars. Ten by ten by ten of those is a million. Ten by ten by ten of those is a biliion. a square of ten by ten of those is a hundred billion.

I don't have the time to count out each star, but I could easily see that many dots on paper in an hour. How long will it take you for you to see your infinite number of stars?

You aren't able to reduce the concepts you use to their concretes - i.e., you do not mean what you think you say.

Edited by Ted Keer

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What are the specific characteristics of an elephant that would enable it to give birth to a piano?

There's a perfectly good scientific theory called genetics that not only explains why an elephant will probably not give birth to a piano, but also might explain how an amoeba might become an Einstein. No antique Scholastic spells need be invoked.

That's the great thing about a testable theory - it doesn't let you pass off pretentious verbal posturing as important intellectual endeavour. Which side of the line are you on?

I was talking about elephants as they currently exist, not as they might evolve in the future. The identity theory of causation is not a theory of evolution and has nothing to say on this matter. The claim that elephants might evolve so as to give birth to pianos is neither a scientific nor a philosophical theory. It's just a stupid remark that you pulled out of your ass. And you won't find anything of cognitive value up there.

I thought you were claiming that elephants as they currently exist might give birth to pianos. This may not have been a correct assumption on my part, given your reference to genetics, but if it was, how would you test this particular theory?

Btw, the specific causal theories based on an identity approach to causation are as testable as any other theory of causation. And it's not a scholastic theory. But I don't mean to trouble you with the facts.

Ghs

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You are drawing a completely inapplicable analogy between a mathematical expression and the physical universe. It's true that expressions with a divide by zero are undefined. This has absolutely nothing to do with the physical universe. There is no logical contradiction to an infinite universe.

You have not defined and cannot define what you mean by infinity.

I seriously doubt you wantto say math is not applicable to reality.

Either the relation between the size of the universe as a whole to the size of a body within the universe is defined or it is not defined. If the ratio of the size of an object like an atom to the size of the universe is some real, however large, whole number ratio, then the universe has a definite size expressable in a ratio of the size of the atom to the size of the universe. It is only if the size of the atom in relation to the size of the universe is equivalent to zero that the universe is infinite. But then the ratio is undefined, and all statements about the universe in relation to any real life objects are equal to equations where you divide by zero, and anything goes, and you are stating a contradiction.

I am happy to explain, Martin, if you have any questions. If you want to keep trying to prove your statements, define your terms without using negative definitions, don't ask me to prove a negative by asking why such and such shouldn't be the case and reduce your statements to meaningful concretes.

Edited by Ted Keer

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You are drawing a completely inapplicable analogy between a mathematical expression and the physical universe. It's true that expressions with a divide by zero are undefined. This has absolutely nothing to do with the physical universe. There is no logical contradiction to an infinite universe.

You have not defined and cannot define what you mean by infinity.

I seriously doubt you wantto say math is not applicable to reality.

Either the relation between the size of the universe as a whole to the size of a body within the universe is defined or it is not defined. If the ratio of the size of an object like an atom to the size of the universe is some real, however large, whole number ratio, then the universe has a definite size expressable in a ratio of the size of the atom to the size of the universe. It is only if the size of the atom in relation to the size of the universe is equivalent to zero that the universe is infinite. But then the ratio is undefined, and all statements about the universe in relation to any real life objects are equal to equations where you divide by zero, and anything goes, and you are stating a contradiction.

I am happy to explain, Martin, if you have any questions. If you want to keep trying to prove your statements, define your terms without using negative definitions, don't ask me to prove a negative by asking why such and such shouldn't be the case and reduce your statements to meaningful concretes.

Isn't infinity itself a negative concept thus worthy of a negative definition? To wit: lack of finity?

Everything is finite and has to include the universe. The universe is infinite only epistemologically not metaphysically. The former is optional, the latter is not. Infinity is simply lack of data and knowledge. To imagine infinity is to imagine a bunch of finite things and attributes of things continuously multiplied--that is, to imagine the finite, actually. The infinity of the finite is a contradiction. It is only an idea. If the universe is a whole it isn't infinite for the infinite can't be bounded by anything. Either nothing is infinite or everything is. The finite universe is seemingly bounded by infinite nothing. Existence or non-existence. Finity or infinity. Infinity as an attribute cannot be attached to anything without evaporating both the thing and itself conceptually.

Now, what is the real boundary of the universe to make it a whole since to be bounded existentially by nothing is no boundary at all? The boundary or boundaries are the internal binding factors.

--Brant

question: What happens to light if it encounters no resistance?

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You are drawing a completely inapplicable analogy between a mathematical expression and the physical universe. It's true that expressions with a divide by zero are undefined. This has absolutely nothing to do with the physical universe. There is no logical contradiction to an infinite universe.

You have not defined and cannot define what you mean by infinity.

I seriously doubt you wantto say math is not applicable to reality.

Either the relation between the size of the universe as a whole to the size of a body within the universe is defined or it is not defined. If the ratio of the size of an object like an atom to the size of the universe is some real, however large, whole number ratio, then the universe has a definite size expressable in a ratio of the size of the atom to the size of the universe. It is only if the size of the atom in relation to the size of the universe is equivalent to zero that the universe is infinite. But then the ratio is undefined, and all statements about the universe in relation to any real life objects are equal to equations where you divide by zero, and anything goes, and you are stating a contradiction.

I am happy to explain, Martin, if you have any questions. If you want to keep trying to prove your statements, define your terms without using negative definitions, don't ask me to prove a negative by asking why such and such shouldn't be the case and reduce your statements to meaningful concretes.

Isn't infinity itself a negative concept thus worthy of a negative definition? To wit: lack of finity?

Everything is finite and has to include the universe. The universe is infinite only epistemologically not metaphysically. The former is optional, the latter is not. Infinity is simply lack of data and knowledge. To imagine infinity is to imagine a bunch of finite things and attributes of things continuously multiplied--that is, to imagine the finite, actually. The infinity of the finite is a contradiction. It is only an idea. If the universe is a whole it isn't infinite for the infinite can't be bounded by anything. Either nothing is infinite or everything is. The finite universe is seemingly bounded by infinite nothing. Existence or non-existence. Finity or infinity. Infinity as an attribute cannot be attached to anything without evaporating both the thing and itself conceptually.

Now, what is the real boundary of the universe to make it a whole since to be bounded existentially by nothing is no boundary at all? The boundary or boundaries are the internal binding factors.

--Brant

question: What happens to light if it encounters no resistance?

First, yes, finity simply means coming to an end. Other words for infinite are incomplete and imperfect.

And you ask the right question. If we imagine all of space as a three dimensional container then we either expect to get to the edges, or balk at them. Not wanting to come to the edge is what makes those who insist on infinity balk - since they can't conceive of an alternative. The solution is to imagine space as a three dimensional container curved back on itself in the fourth dimension.

Imagine that we are two dimensional beings living on a flat surface. From our experience, that surface will either come to an edge or go on for ever. But imagine if some three dimensional God picked up the paper we flat figurse lived on, and folded it so that the top edge joined the bottom edge, and the right edge joined the left edge. We could now potentially travel an huge but finite distance toward the top of the page, returning upward from the bottom, and end up returning to our starting point.

Now imagine if we are flat squares one millimeter across living on the surface of a sphere the size of the Galaxy. Local "space" will look perfectly flat and normal as far as we can see. We could never live long enough to travel around our universe. BLike a flatworm circumnavigating the earth, being two dimensional, we would find it impossible to visualize that the "flat" surface we live in is actually a sphere. But our universe would be both finite (the surface of the sphere is huge compared to us, but exists in a real, mathematically defined and expressible relation to us) and unbounded with no edge and no flat plane stretching out to where there is nothing. We could potentially travel as far as we like in any distance. We might find we had returned home after half an eternity. But we would never reach an edge. No empty space or wall, just normal space everywhere we went.

Simply apply the same analogy to ourselves in the next higher dimension. Imagine that the universe is a cubical cardboard box 13-plus billion light-years an edge. Now imagine that the top of the box is curved in the fourth dimension around to the bottom, so that if you flew up through the top you would enter in to the box again from the bottom. The same with the north and south sides and east and west sides of the box. So that no matter what direction you flew in you would always be in the box, just like ship flying off the screen in the game asteroids. Now just get rid of the cardboard, and imagine the volume of the box is curved in a fourth dimension without the "edge" being there. Now you have a finite space in which you can potentially keep traveling forever but which bounds itself. There is no edge, no space "outside the box."

A finite, unbounded (or more precisely, self bounded) universe: this is a meaningful model of the universe which can be explained in concrete terms. It requires no self-contradictions, no space that no matter how big it is is even bigger than it is. No incoherent nonsense defined in negative terms. This model can be studied, and understood mathematically.

No need for what some people call faith.

Edited by Ted Keer

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I was talking about elephants as they currently exist, not as they might evolve in the future. The identity theory of causation is not a theory of evolution and has nothing to say on this matter. The claim that elephants might evolve so as to give birth to pianos is neither a scientific nor a philosophical theory. It's just a stupid remark that you pulled out of your ass. And you won't find anything of cognitive value up there.

I thought you were claiming that elephants as they currently exist might give birth to pianos. This may not have been a correct assumption on my part, given your reference to genetics, but if it was, how would you test this particular theory?

Judging from the above, you don't actually seem to have any idea what I was claiming or not claiming. So you were typing this because...?

Btw, the specific causal theories based on an identity approach to causation are as testable as any other theory of causation. And it's not a scholastic theory. But I don't mean to trouble you with the facts.

Ok let's hear 'em.

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I was talking about elephants as they currently exist, not as they might evolve in the future. The identity theory of causation is not a theory of evolution and has nothing to say on this matter. The claim that elephants might evolve so as to give birth to pianos is neither a scientific nor a philosophical theory. It's just a stupid remark that you pulled out of your ass. And you won't find anything of cognitive value up there.

I thought you were claiming that elephants as they currently exist might give birth to pianos. This may not have been a correct assumption on my part, given your reference to genetics, but if it was, how would you test this particular theory?

Judging from the above, you don't actually seem to have any idea what I was claiming or not claiming. So you were typing this because...?

Btw, the specific causal theories based on an identity approach to causation are as testable as any other theory of causation. And it's not a scholastic theory. But I don't mean to trouble you with the facts.

Ok let's hear 'em.

So you've given up on the elephant/piano thing. Smart move. But should any fugitive thought rattle around in your head in the future -- for example, if you think you might evolve into an eggplant or, even less likely, that you might eventually have something intelligent to say -- please do let us know about it.

Ghs

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I responded to this post earlier, but I want to give an illustrative quotation.

As I noted previously, Brand Blanshard defends the same identity theory of causation as H.W.B. Joseph; he even quotes the same passage by Joseph that I quoted, along with a few more. So did Blanshard subscribe to the simplistic and outdated view of causation that GS mentions? Well, here is just one passage (from The Nature of Thought, II, 456-57) where Blanshard discusses this issue. Judge for yourself.

The second point is more important, namely that relevance has degrees. It is a mistake exposed long ago to imagine that what the inductive methods approve as the cause is the only relevant circumstance, or that the factors "eliminated" are revealed as irrelevant absolutely. In scientific inquiry, the cause usually means the efficient or precipitating cause. But in no case is this the only condition of the result. Indeed conditions that are eliminated by inductive canons [blanshard is thinking of J.S. Mill's famous discussion] may be as essential to the result as those selected. Take the first method on [Mill's] list, which in this respect is typical, the method of agreement. It would reject as irrelevant any circumstance that is not present with the result uniformly. A series of typhoid cases is examined; the water supply is declared to be the only constant factor; it is therefore pronounced guilty, and the variable supplies of milk and what-not are exonerated. But if a factor may be accounted relevant when it affects the result, then, judged as a measure of relevance, this method will not stand a moment's examination. There are two types of factor it eliminates. It eliminates, first, factors which, though present throughout the series, are also present constantly outside it, such as fixed conditions of climate, gravitational pull, the existence of the sun and fixed stars, the solidity of the earth's surface. Are these irrelevant? Obviously Yes, if you rule out, to begin with, everything but the efficient or precipitating cause. But just as obviously No, if you attach to "relevant" what in a discussion like this is the only appropriate meaning, namely affecting the result. For it is at least as certain that the non-existence of the sun and gravitation would have made a difference to the result as would the absence of a particular water system. If so, then in the required sense these factors are plainly relevant. Secondly, the method eliminates all factors that are not present throughout the series. Patient A has just recovered from diphtheria, B has tuberculosis, and C is a centenarian but because these conditions do not repeat themselves in all cases, they are pronounced [by Mill] to be in no case relevant to the result. Now whatever "logic" may tell us, we know better than that. To typhoid fever as it appears in any actual patient, there is no one factor that is relevant to the exclusion of all else; we know perfectly well that his general state of health, his age, even his disposition, his philosophy, and his religion, may exercise their influence, each in its appropriate and perhaps minor degree, upon the complexion of his disease. To say that relevance must be present absolutely and in perfection or else in zero quantity, that the presence of a certain bacillus is everything, and all else shall count as nothing, is merely arbitrary. Innumerable conditions contribute in innumerable degrees.

It is curious, is it not, that Blanshard can hold the supposedly vacuous and tautological view of causation defended by Joseph and yet articulate anything but a simplistic view of particular causes and effects. This is even more curious when you learn that the latter is dependent on, and arises from, the former.

If you were curious why I get so sharp and impatient with the philosophic ignoramuses on OL who make grandiose pronouncements without having read any of this material, now you know why.

Ghs

This discussion of Blanshard shows why modern science uses statistical methods and speaks about correlation rather than causation. These philosophers would be better of simply studying statistics instead of spinning their verbal tires like this.

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Isn't infinity itself a negative concept thus worthy of a negative definition? To wit: lack of finity?

Everything is finite and has to include the universe. The universe is infinite only epistemologically not metaphysically. The former is optional, the latter is not. Infinity is simply lack of data and knowledge. To imagine infinity is to imagine a bunch of finite things and attributes of things continuously multiplied--that is, to imagine the finite, actually. The infinity of the finite is a contradiction. It is only an idea. If the universe is a whole it isn't infinite for the infinite can't be bounded by anything. Either nothing is infinite or everything is. The finite universe is seemingly bounded by infinite nothing. Existence or non-existence. Finity or infinity. Infinity as an attribute cannot be attached to anything without evaporating both the thing and itself conceptually.

Now, what is the real boundary of the universe to make it a whole since to be bounded existentially by nothing is no boundary at all? The boundary or boundaries are the internal binding factors.

--Brant

question: What happens to light if it encounters no resistance?

It is not conceptually difficult (for me) to imagine a finite yet unbounded universe. It seems clear to me that since we know light doesn't travel in straight lines in the presence of gravitational fields then it must eventually come full circle, if you will. It would be impossible to navigate your way out of the universe under these circumstances. Indeed, it is the infinite universe that doesn't make sense and (to me) psychologically uncomfortable.

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Your attacks on DF portray you as downright naive regarding your idea of reality. Like someone who kicks a ball, the ball rolls, and who says: "Here we have a clear cause and effect-relationship".

I just kicked my dog and he let out a yelp.

His view of cause and effect is downright naive. Maybe reading some posts by DF will set him straight.

....

With your sophisticated understanding of causation, maybe you can give me some advice.

The advice is not to transfer your everyday exerperiences of cause and effect in the macrosopic scale where the laws of classical physics apply, to the world of quantum physics.

I call this the "fish fallacy": Imagine a fish in the ocean could reflect on existence and rejected the idea of life outside water being possible on the grounds that it does not match a fish's idea of "objective reality".

My kitchen is a mess, and my downright naive view of reality leads me to believe that I am actually going to have to take some action to clean it up.

Is there some QM magical spell I can utter so the kitchen will instantly clean itself, with no cause?

I ask this because you know so much more about physics than I do.

I'm a layperson in physics just like you, so we both have to rely on books about QM written by scientists for laypersons to get at least a glimpse of this fantastic world.

Excerpt of an interview with the famous quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger: (bolding mine)

http://www.signandsight.com/features/614.html

Entanglement – we should imagine this as...

AZ: ...there is no way of imagining it. The Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger coined the term in 1935 and also said that the twist in the phenomenon of quantum physics is that it forces us to bid farewell to all our dearly held ideas about the world.

Help us do this!

AZ: When two particles collide like billiard balls at a quantum level, then they are immediately linked or "entangled". Neither of the two particles has a clearly defined position or a clearly-defined momentum: location and speed are uncertain, as we say.

Heisenberg's famous uncertainty principle.

AZ: Exactly. But then I can go and measure, say, the momentum of one of the entangled particles. By way of this measurement, the momentum which was previously uncertain can now be determined. The peculiar thing is that in the same instant, the second particle also gains a clearly-defined momentum. No matter how far away it is.

Albert Einstein called this effect "spooky action at a distance"

AZ: Right. But the truly strange is yet to come.

I can't wait.

AZ: The result of my measurement of the first particle is completely random. There is no way of predicting it, on principle. But as soon as I have the result, I can deduct the momentum of the second participle.

So I can accurately measure the momentum of the second particle, even if it is hundreds of billions of kilometres away.

illustration of a non-local four-proton entangled state

AZ: Theoretically yes. The effect has so far been proved across a distance of a hundred kilometres. The amazing thing is that there can be no exchange of information between the two particles. They react absolutely in synch, although they could could never know anything of each other's existence. You can think of it as two dice far away from each other that always land on the same number, without there being any kind of mechanism which connects them. Absurd!

Uncertainty, coincidence, spooky effects – doesn't it make you dizzy sometimes?

AZ: It's all pretty crazy. The spooky effect at a distance is a process outside time and space that even I can't really imagine.

But in case you believe that reading a few books on QM for laypeople will suffice to "lecture" someone like Dragonfly on questions which present themselves to him who has delved far deeper into the subject as any layperson can, you are in error (to put it mildly).

If you asked more questions for clarification instead of using polemic, you could actually learn more.

Example:

You told Ellen in # 1203: "And don't give me any more BS about "non-local hidden variables." (Ghs)

In # 1145, you wrote "I'm not even sure what "non-local" is supposed to mean -- and I certainly don't have a "theory" about it." (Ghs)

But if you are not sure what non-local is supposed to mean, how can you conclude that an argumentation with non-local hidden variables is "BS"?

Why didn't you just ask Ellen: "Could you explain what non-local hidden variables are and illustrate with an example?"

Edited by Xray

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Isn't infinity itself a negative concept thus worthy of a negative definition? To wit: lack of finity?

Everything is finite and has to include the universe. The universe is infinite only epistemologically not metaphysically. The former is optional, the latter is not. Infinity is simply lack of data and knowledge. To imagine infinity is to imagine a bunch of finite things and attributes of things continuously multiplied--that is, to imagine the finite, actually. The infinity of the finite is a contradiction. It is only an idea. If the universe is a whole it isn't infinite for the infinite can't be bounded by anything. Either nothing is infinite or everything is. The finite universe is seemingly bounded by infinite nothing. Existence or non-existence. Finity or infinity. Infinity as an attribute cannot be attached to anything without evaporating both the thing and itself conceptually.

Now, what is the real boundary of the universe to make it a whole since to be bounded existentially by nothing is no boundary at all? The boundary or boundaries are the internal binding factors.

--Brant

question: What happens to light if it encounters no resistance?

It is not conceptually difficult (for me) to imagine a finite yet unbounded universe. It seems clear to me that since we know light doesn't travel in straight lines in the presence of gravitational fields then it must eventually come full circle, if you will. It would be impossible to navigate your way out of the universe under these circumstances. Indeed, it is the infinite universe that doesn't make sense and (to me) psychologically uncomfortable.

But knowing that something isn't travelling in a straight line because of some cause should enable one to correct for it, thus knowing how to travel in an actually straight line. Suppose you follow it. Then what?

Shayne

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It's fairly obvious, Xray, that this is really about a scientific priesthood and a real life, would be Dr. Robert Stadler who wants government funding for his institute. Click on the link and read the interview in full. And I must say these QM boys seem to have great faith in their instruments.

--Brant

Your attacks on DF portray you as downright naive regarding your idea of reality. Like someone who kicks a ball, the ball rolls, and who says: "Here we have a clear cause and effect-relationship".

I just kicked my dog and he let out a yelp.

His view of cause and effect is downright naive. Maybe reading some posts by DF will set him straight.

....

With your sophisticated understanding of causation, maybe you can give me some advice.

The advice is not to transfer your everyday exerperiences of cause and effect in the macrosopic scale where the laws of classical physics apply, to the world of quantum physics.

I call this the "fish fallacy": Imagine a fish in the ocean could reflect on existence and rejected the idea of life outside water being possible on the grounds that it does not match a fish's idea of "objective reality".

My kitchen is a mess, and my downright naive view of reality leads me to believe that I am actually going to have to take some action to clean it up.

Is there some QM magical spell I can utter so the kitchen will instantly clean itself, with no cause?

I ask this because you know so much more about physics than I do.

I'm a layperson in physics just like you, so we both have to rely on books about QM written by scientists for laypersons to get at least a glimpse of this fantastic world.

Excerpt of an interview with the famous quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger: (bolding mine)

http://www.signandsi...atures/614.html

Entanglement – we should imagine this as...

AZ: ...there is no way of imagining it. The Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger coined the term in 1935 and also said that the twist in the phenomenon of quantum physics is that it forces us to bid farewell to all our dearly held ideas about the world.

Help us do this!

AZ: When two particles collide like billiard balls at a quantum level, then they are immediately linked or "entangled". Neither of the two particles has a clearly defined position or a clearly-defined momentum: location and speed are uncertain, as we say.

Heisenberg's famous uncertainty principle.

AZ: Exactly. But then I can go and measure, say, the momentum of one of the entangled particles. By way of this measurement, the momentum which was previously uncertain can now be determined. The peculiar thing is that in the same instant, the second particle also gains a clearly-defined momentum. No matter how far away it is.

Albert Einstein called this effect "spooky action at a distance"

AZ: Right. But the truly strange is yet to come.

I can't wait.

AZ: The result of my measurement of the first particle is completely random. There is no way of predicting it, on principle. But as soon as I have the result, I can deduct the momentum of the second participle.

So I can accurately measure the momentum of the second particle, even if it is hundreds of billions of kilometres away.

illustration of a non-local four-proton entangled state

AZ: Theoretically yes. The effect has so far been proved across a distance of a hundred kilometres. The amazing thing is that there can be no exchange of information between the two particles. They react absolutely in synch, although they could could never know anything of each other's existence. You can think of it as two dice far away from each other that always land on the same number, without there being any kind of mechanism which connects them. Absurd!

Uncertainty, coincidence, spooky effects – doesn't it make you dizzy sometimes?

AZ: It's all pretty crazy. The spooky effect at a distance is a process outside time and space that even I can't really imagine.

But in case you believe that reading a few books on QM for laypeople will suffice to "lecture" someone like Dragonfly on questions which present themselves to him who has delved far deeper into the subject as any layperson can, you are in error (to put it mildly).

If you asked more questions for clarification instead of using polemic, you could actually learn more.

Example:

You told Ellen in # 1203: "And don't give me any more BS about "non-local hidden variables." (Ghs)

In # 1145, you wrote "I'm not even sure what "non-local" is supposed to mean -- and I certainly don't have a "theory" about it." (Ghs)

But if you are not sure what non-local is supposed to mean, how can you conclude that an argumentation with non-local hidden variables is "BS"?

Why didn't you just ask Ellen: "Could you explain what non-local hidden variables are and illustrate with an example?"

Edited by Brant Gaede

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