Thursday, July 14, 2005

The One and the Many

I have in mind a question. This is a question that has plagued me for a long time and I need to share it with all who have ears for such things. This is the question of monism versus pluralism.

So which is true? and what is truth anyhow? Is our Universe one? Is our Universe a Multiverse? Can we take the lives, the events, thoughts, and occurrences of all types as a collective epoch of a total? Are we the sum parts of larger existence? Or are we just loosely connected by happenstance? Perhaps we have no connection at all and we assume too much.

So your assignment, should you choose to accept it is this. Are we one or many? and now the hard part, Why?

Obviously, we are walking on thin ice when you reflect on the implications of your answers here; but let's take a walk on the wild side and explore the possibilities. So you tell me.

I eagerly await some feedback on this subject.

21 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

Greetings Jason.

After lots of study and soul searching over the years, it is my opinion that we are One.

One big universe. I am no different in a deep sense than you or this keyboard or this chair or the air I breathe. The one question I return to again and again is : if we are not One then can you tell me where you stop and the universe starts. You do not exist without oxygen. The plants give us air and the sun and rain nourish plants. We are not disconnected. We are only taught that this and that and that are different. Rocks behave as rocks, trees behave as trees, humans behave as they are taught to instead of how they truly are.

That's really a disjointed overview on how I see things.

I believe the actual reality of One is impossible to describe. The harder you try the farther away you get from the truth.

Sun Jul 17, 08:56:00 PM CDT  
Blogger politiques USA said...

Rocks behave as rocks, trees behave as trees, humans behave as they are taught to instead of how they truly are.
And Ronald Reagan stated that trees were polluating more than cars! Blasphemy!

I can't really talk bad about a person, but he should have gone back to western movies that's for sure:)
In Europe he was treated like one of the biggest american President (especially in France) hmmppppffffffff lol

Sun Jul 17, 09:13:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Again said...

This is the question of monism versus pluralism.


please forgive me for repeating, but as not native speaker in a philosophical discussion i want you to know what i'm talking about

monism: "the doctrine that reality consists of a single basic substance or element... The doctrine that the universe is an organized unitary being or total self-inclusive structure"

in opposition to:

dualism: "the doctrine that reality consists of two basic opposing elements, often taken to be mind and matter (or mind and body), or good and evil"
or
pluralism: "the doctrine that reality consists of several basic substances or elements"

Can we take the lives, the events, thoughts, and occurrences of all types as a collective epoch of a total? Are we the sum parts of larger existence? Or are we just loosely connected by happenstance? Perhaps we have no connection at all and we assume too much.


sorry to be lengthy, but that's exactly what i thought about since i first heart about the physical multi-universes

because in physics the multiverse theory is based on the simple fact, that in mathematics different solutions are equivalent. And because quantum theory can't work without math and math offers different solutions for a given problem (very often), the problem of physics was how to "prefer" some solutions

- or to accept each and every solution of a problem and to demand, that each has the same "reality", means each decision creates new "worlds"

to be honest - i was never a friend of that idea, but it needs some time until i realized, where the problem lies

it is the simple difference between math and physics - math is formula, physics is action and effect

formula are just structures, physic is structured behavior - and physics knows a selection mechanism for solutions: the principle of least action

so the problem of math not to be able to decide which solution is "real" is not the problem of physics, because the principle of least action choses the solution for you, it is a boundary condition which cannot be neglected

oh sure, in the macrocosm everyone knows, but...

the problem of the quantum theory now is that the solutions can superpose - but only if the systems are not that complex. The more complex the system, the less possibilities/degrees of freedom it has, i guess, that's just the quintessence of macrocosm, not some mysterious difference between the "big and the small" - something like the evolutionary process of actions and interactions in growing systems

one interesting element of this "evolutionary process" is the intertwined nature of the whole system/universe - like the EPR-Paradox for a simple spin-system shows or maybe the conclusion, that time is not a global value, but more a "system value" - something like a common vibration of a system, based on the carefully adjusted (inter)actions (why carefully? if not the system would be destroyed)

and that's the reason why the "reality consists of a single basic substance" (monism) - and this single basic "substance" is action, not matter. Action, which can be unstructured (quantum noise), low level structured (quantum systems) and high level structured (complex quantum systems without any ability to superpose its eigenvalues, so with clear "solutions")

and to reach an end ;-)

my answer is: universe is an organized unitary being

Mon Jul 18, 08:14:00 AM CDT  
Blogger JasonJ said...

Mk, I thank you for such an insightful look. This is exactly the kind of discourse I had hoped for on this subject.

If I may be allowed to quote the late Swami Vivekananda:

"Where is there more misery for hime who sees this Oneness in the universe, this Oneness of life, Oneness of everything?...This separation between man and man, man and woman, man and child, nation from nation, earth from moon, moon from sun, this separation between atom and atom is the cause really of all this misery, and the Vedanta says this separation does not exist, it is not real. It is merely apparent on the surface. In the heart of things there is unity still. If you go inside you find that unity between man and man, woman and children, races and races, high and low, rich and poor, the gods and men: all are one, and animals too, if you go deep enough, and he who has attained to that has no more delusions...Where is there any more delusions for him? What can delude him? He knows the reality of everything, the secret of everything. Where is there any misery for him? What does he desire? He has traced the reality of everything unto the lord, that center, that unity of everything, and that is eternal bliss, eternal knowledge, eternal existence. Neither death nor disease nor sorrow nor misery nor discontent is there...In the center, the reality, there is no one to be mourned for no one to be sorry for. He has penetrated everything, the pure one, the formless, the bodiless, the stainless, he is the knower, he is the great poet, the self-existent, he who is giving to everyone what he deserves"

So this is what I epitomise to be the essence of Monism. This at last is the great Oneness. This is the essence of God in the hearts of men. The comfort that warms the heart in times of dispair, the hand that guides man's every move; but is this all there really is to our existence? At the risk of sounding too Cartesian, I have to disagree....to an extent anyhow. But more on this tomorrow.

Mon Jul 18, 09:17:00 PM CDT  
Blogger JasonJ said...

Again, please forgive me. I will respond in kind tomorrow as well.

Mon Jul 18, 09:18:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Robert said...

MK reads German's comment. Head explodes. Feels much better about the whole thing. :O

Mon Jul 18, 10:14:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous JMF said...

Jason: Pardon the irrelevant intrusion here. I saw your post about the motorcycle accident the other day on [CENSORED], and just wanted to extend my heartfelt condolences. I had a similar experience years ago with a friend. His accident, fortunately, ultimately had a happy ending, but only after several touchy months of him calling me "Mom". (He was in pretty wretched shape after taking his header.) Again, so sorry to hear that -- my profound sympathies for your loss.

Tue Jul 19, 03:33:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Again said...

jasonj:

Again, please forgive me. I will respond in kind tomorrow as well.

no problem - i've read JMFs message and i can honestly say:

me and the universe can wait ;-)


MK:

Feels much better about the whole thing

fine - and how's your head<blink/>?

Tue Jul 19, 11:54:00 AM CDT  
Blogger JasonJ said...

First off, thanks to everyone for being patient while I adjust to the realities of how life throws us curves. I guess it is just how things are.

So back to THE question, that one burning question that yearns for our approval, the one true question of the sphynx if I can be allowed to make such a broad connection to such a distant piece of mythology. The one or many or as German put it, maybe even the dual. I thought about the angle of duality myself. The place I reason duality to entertain is theological in nature though. Going back to the eastern concepts of yin and yang which I cannot say I am very well versed in but understand that early Christianity stole prior to Constantine and his Nicean Conference. But could this be it? This interaction of positive and negative? This Yin and Yang to balance the uni(multi)verse? It would appear that everything meets it's match in nature. Everything living thing has it's own unique predator to keep it in line. We could even argue that we manage to somewhat contain our species with our wars and diseases.

But is it as simple as positive and negative ions; or could it be something more? Could it be that our universe is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg? What if our universe were as an atom of an even bigger particle which was a piece of matter insignificant to it's bearer? Or what if our universe expanded and contracted over and over? What if we were to relive this life we live repetatively throughout eternity as if just an anomoly akin to a sine wave? What if we are just a frequency in a wavelength of a cosmic disturbance that has no particular meaning and just 'is'.

If I may interject another analogy that I find interesting, but at a slightly more reasonable level, I would like to quote William James circa 1907 on this very idea of the one vs the many:

"It follows that whoever says that the whole world tells one story utters another of those monistic dogmas that a man believes at his own risk. It is easy to see the world's history pluralistically, as a rope of which each fibre tells a separate tale; but to conceive of each cross-section of the rope as an absolute single fact, and to sum the whole longitudinal searies into one being living an undivided life, is harder...So far, then,we see how the world is unified by it's many systems, kinds, purposes, and dramas.That there is more union in all these ways than openly appears is certainly true. That there may be one sovereign purpose, system, kind, and story, is a legitimate hypothesis. All I say here is that it is rash to affirm this dogmatically without better evidence than we possess at present."

So this is James; pragmatic approach to the one and the many. I also believe that there is some degree of plurality mixed with some degree of interconnectedness in our world. I am a child of free will. As I eluded to last night, to paraphrase Rene Descartes; I am a thinking being, therefore I am real.

I would however have to agree with Jung on the other hand that we are all bound, one to another on a subconscious level that we cannot begin to fully understand. Like schools of fishes, who instinctively turn in unison or as the Yucca moth who pollenates the yucca plant that open for one night only and lay their eggs in a complex ritual that cannot be taught considering that the yucca moth does this once in a lifetime; we are all bound by instincts that guide our lives and keep us from harms we cannot understand. We stand connected via what Jung described as a collective unconscious.

I could go on, but now I ask myself, as much as my audience, if all this has any relevance to my task? What has this subject to do with Rousseau and the Social Contract? We will get to that soon, but if anyone sees where I am leading this...I'd love to hear from you.

Tue Jul 19, 07:27:00 PM CDT  
Blogger politiques USA said...

Back on your website. I could answer this question but I think we have to define the terminology and most likely replacing everything in its context which is the one of the civilizations and there is also a question mark to its finality in the sense you have doubts if we are on the right track or not.

You exposed the problem of the antonimity of terms (pluralism, monoism and dualism) that are the mathematical phases of a mind to identify himself for or against or in a neutral way from any events catalyzing minor or major issues in the context of the personal evolution within a civilization, which is ipso facto the theme of modernity inside of the epistomoligical malaise in the sciences of the human being between general and particular time.

In this context we have to go back to a tight exam from Montesquieu and Locke's thought during the XVII and XVIIIth century and analyse how their views influenced this world and we also have to question whether their views were correct or not because they are the columns of the mental revolution during this key period that is going to revolutionize lots of things in History and Sciences as well.


It is impossible to generalize to a maximum, I thought about that too, there are only some degrees for a context, and there is always the risk of what we call "fatality" which is a french notion from Montesquieu. No matter how good the human being can be in sciences, there will always be a phase where he fails because the human being is limitated in knowledge first (a human being only know 1 out of 1 milliard solutions in knowledge, there is also a path where failure of the spirit happens) and because there are IMO many degrees of perceptions regarding an opinion for example (I think therefore I am) which is a cartesian notion (meaning common sense from Descartes). Different perceptions of reasons do mean that we are never in the center but it is only approximation. I remember a mathematical formule where 1 + 1 equal 1 and not 2 and the problem has never been solved.

There is honestly no solution to your problem IMO but I wanted to center the theme with its limitations so that we can have a concrete debate. Most likely I would say that the failure to take part into this debate or the highness of the debate would or will legitimate that a human being is indeed limited personally and also inside a civilization for the own survival of its ideals.

Tue Jul 19, 09:32:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Again said...

i need some time to "decrypt" your words. As you know, i'm physicist and therefore not

familiar with the philosophical wordings - so i have to break down texts carefully

Jason

I thought about the angle of duality myself. The place I reason duality to entertain is

theological in nature though.


i guess, most people think so. Actually, the number "2" seems to be the most "mighty" in Ancient Egypts myths - but as today, religion is a daughter of physics, not the mother. In every "myth" and "faith" you find the path back to a real physical observation/knowledge in the beginning

"once upon a time" (;-)) i stumbled about a book discussing cavern paintings - not as some Voodoo-games of naked apes, but as attempts to understand and describe the world. The authors claimed, that the common use of numbers and geometrical symbols in so many paintings prove that these signs were some kind of "writing", a theory, which seems (to some extent) to be accepted now: cavern paintings are mostly seen as narrations. They claimed, that the number 4 was a symbol for space and the number 3 was a symbol for time

3 was easy to understand - the 3 cycles of the moon were the first human method to measure time. 4 as space: think of a cross, a coordinate plane, the method to measure space

and 2?

Yin-Yang or the Ancient Egypts with the "divine 2"?

i guess you need to think of the universe as dynamic, as a universe of action to understand the Ancient Egypts, who described abstract ideas by 2 extrems - not with "a torrent of words" but simply by taking two significant elements of that abstract idea - Yin-Yang

and to describe it in mathematics: two poles, defining an axis

why you have to see the universe as dynamic? Because the least number to "handle" a process is...

two - one state never could do this. That's (btw) the problem of information, where all the definitions have to use states (because this is the only part of an action to be measured), but you have to accept, that you need the difference of states to describe action. The focus on the states is not useful


I also believe that there is some degree of plurality mixed with some degree of interconnectedness in our world. I am a child of free will.

plurality maybe true - do you know something about fractals? No, i'm not an expert in fractal mathematics, but the amazing point of fractals is, how easy the formula is and how complicated the result looks - Benoit Mandelbrots figure ("Apfelmännchen")

and that's the same with information: easy rules can create complex surfaces


btw: free will

in an structured, stable world - describable by an set-based, geometrically originated mathematics there is no possibility for free will

in an dynamical universe, based on action, where each and every structure - high precisely focused - melts away in the quantum noise, structure is not the rule, but the exception. In such a universe, free will is simply essential, because in such a universe no structured system is able to describe the whole (Gödel) and therefore has to choose

and choice needs goals to make decisions - so you may not talk about "free will" in a simple situation with just 2 possibilities, but in a reality like ours, with a brain like ours, able to handle (nearly) infinite events, storing it in a nearly infinite memory (the connections of the neurons eclipse the number of stars in the universe, AFAIK), that no physical system is able to manage it in Real Time, so you must decide by your emotions (80% standard solutions, optimized by experience - Jung?), together with the "few facts", our consciousness is able to manage

you have to choose to make decisions in every single second of your life - that is free will, because the "programm" of brain and emotions is optimized by your individual knowledge dependent on each and every space-time-point you/your body walked through in your life - and this curve is absolutely singular

so free will is not an illusion - because no one, even Mother Nature, can program a system to survive in a dynamical universe with a memory based on perfectly individual datas - the rules are precise, but the result surely isn't


if all this has any relevance to my task? What has this subject to do with Rousseau and

the Social Contract?


everything...

but i guess, i stop now ;-)

Wed Jul 20, 08:27:00 AM CDT  
Blogger politiques USA said...

PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Where the fuck is the challenge?

Thu Jul 21, 10:38:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Human said...

Peace to you and yours JasonJ. As this is way over my lil head I'll just read and maybe peep up once in a while. Cool site amd I hope I learn alot.
Your fellow Human

Fri Jul 22, 10:05:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Again said...

Human:
As this is way over my lil head I'll just read and maybe peep up once in a while. Cool site amd I hope I learn alot.

way over your lil head? i guess, that would be our fault, Human

you know, i'm a fan of the famous words of Albert Einstein: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

so i try to understand things so well, that i can explain them simply - and if i can't do it, i start to rethink, because...

you understand, i guess ;-)

so please don't say things as "lil head" - stupid people would never do this, they believe to be "very smart and clever" - and therefore i really like your posts. Think of the ancient humans painting the caverns, inventing scripting and science. The only tool they had were their eyes and brains, their "lil heads"

so if i'm not able to speak understandably, i would like you to tell me, to ask me, because what i have understood about the world and the human brain IS simple, unbelievably simple

Sat Jul 23, 11:31:00 AM CDT  
Blogger JasonJ said...

My apologies for the moments of silence here. My homelife, of course, takes precidence.

To begin I will respond to UT. After considering your comment at length, I think I understand where you are toking this and will now attempt to muddle my way through answering as best I can. If I may be permitted to quote you, you stated "Back on your website. I could answer this question but I think we have to define the terminology and most likely replacing everything in its context which is the one of the civilizations and there is also a question mark to its finality in the sense you have doubts if we are on the right track or not."

You will forgive me here, you said a mouthful. At first I thought you mistook what I was aiming at until I followed your comment to the end of my last comment. So where does all this fit into the big picture, if I may paraphrase? This is the question isn't it? Before we get into where this pertains to concerning Rousseau's perspective, we need to address where I think you are coming from. And for the sake of everyone else concerned here, we will also need to here some more from Mr Rousseau as well as some of his interlocutors before I can develop this perspective. These things take time so I appreciate everyone's patience in this matter.

Ok, so on with your problem UT. In a sense, this is an equivocation of terms. I am not normally a fan of this technique so pardon my use of taking things that are different and applying them in ways they were not meant to be used, but in the end I hope that we can find the usefullness in it all. The one and many, your "problem of the antonimity of terms"; to take this in political terms would be correct in your assumption of what I am eluding to in my last comment. And your idea of the contrast between Montesquieu and John Locke is probably one of the best places we can possibly start to review what we are talking about.

For more background than what we should probably allow here, I urge anyone who is not familiar with this dispute to do a quick wikipedia search on both Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu and John Locke. Briefly stated, John Locke is credited as being somewhat the father of the ideologies that formed the opinions which led to the American Revolution and the establishment of the American way of life. He believed in a 'government with the concent of the governed'......sounds familiar. In contrast, Montesquieu held the belief that monarchy was the better notion of a well oiled state machine. Mind you that Locke's notions were conceived at an earlier time(during the period following Descartes) than Montesquieu. This is somewhat trivial to those who have only apassing fancy for the argument, but it is important to establish the overriding political atmosphere at the time of these publications. This is because one needs to stop and consider the ramifications of dissention against the church and the feudal society in this period of history.

So Rousseau, who is a contemporary of Montesquieu, reads Locke and thinks what a great idea. He also reads Montesquieu and thinks what a great idea. Hmm, they cannot both be right, can they? Here is our paradox. This is where everyone who only wishes to see one side of any particular argument can rob from Rousseau what he wishes and say that he was really arguing for their side. Or in the case of the one who still refuses to join this debate, they argue that given Rousseau's cavalier lifestyle choices, he was indeed a socialist and a scalawag; therefore, we should totally discredit his whole presentation as rubbish.

I would go on from here to say that following through your comment, I agree that this is our universal problem and it is one that has no clear cut answer to it. I would also agree that we are limited by our abilities to even clearly define the truth. But I feel that at this time I need to defer these problems to more qualified sources than myself in the matters of such epistemological problems. Currently, I am busy reading John Stuart Mill's On Liberty; and an essay by Charles S. Peirce entitled How to Make Our Ideas Clear. Both of these authors were inspirational to William James when he was designing his lecture series on Pragmatism and indeed were the early pioneers in this particular branch of philosophical thinking. Now I have checked, and all three of these men are published on the Internet so for anyone who is not familiar with their texts and wishes to read them without searching bookstores I would offer up this option as a viable alternative.

I do not believe that the problem of one and many is inherently unsolvable. We solve all problems to our needs eventually if we apply ourselves diligently. What we arrive at is the best truth available to us given our limited abilities. This gives us something to belive in. Should we later find that what we believed to be the truth is not in fact so then we factor in the new evidence and begin the process anew. Truth is not a destination. It is merely a journey and a process for defining the opinions we believe to be the best answer to the questions that irritate our curiosities.

Sun Jul 24, 09:23:00 AM CDT  
Blogger JasonJ said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this Again. I think you will find that your perspective as a physicist and the one of a philosopher are really not that different once you step back and look at both from another perspective. Have you ever stopped to think about why man began to develop the physical sciences? In ancient times we knew not of science. Man developed ideas about where he came from and why he was here almost as early as he developed the affliction of 'I am'. To every question we find ourselves obsessivly in need of an answer. It is my opinion that science evolved out of the holes in our notions of 'I am' that philosophy could not fill. Through the ages, while science got pushed to the head of the class, philosophy was abandoned as the definative authority on truth. I am not a professional in the field of science any more than I am a professional in the field of philosophy. I have always considered myself a student of both, and as such I find myself in a position to reconcile the differences between the two perspectives.

Both are studies of the same problem and both use similar techniques in qualifying evidence. Indeed, philosophy was science before the advent of the modern notion of physical science. So I believe the problem only arises from a difference of degrees. While one attains to be exclusively empirical in nature the other makes no such generalization. I could easily use this as an attack on phsical science were I an opponent of it, but I am not. Back in the 80's Alan Bloom wrote a book called The Closing of the American Mind. In this book he argued for what I am describing here. Science has failed us in degrees like philosophy before, so he found tha we need to find a way to make both schools cooperate if we are ever to find a clear solution (pragmatism?).

I need more time to analyse your mathematical and physical angle though. We should share our different perspectives and learn fom each other.

Sun Jul 24, 09:45:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Again said...

JasonJ:
I think you will find that your perspective as a physicist and the one of a philosopher are really not that different once you step back and look at both from another perspective.

it's said, that every physicist is a philosopher, too

i guess, that's just because physicist don't want to stop thinking, because the tools don't work - and philosophers don't want to think things, which are proven wrong


Have you ever stopped to think about why man began to develop the physical sciences? In ancient times we knew not of science. Man developed ideas about where he came from and why he was here almost as early as he developed the affliction of 'I am'.

i think, it was less the "who am I"-question, but first the "where do i go"-question, when people look at their beloved deads - burials with flowers are known since 100,000 years

Through the ages, while science got pushed to the head of the class, philosophy was abandoned as the definative authority on truth.

i don't think so, because natural science knows her limits - and the deep desire for knowledge won't stop at that line just because of the limitation of the tools

Both are studies of the same problem and both use similar techniques in qualifying evidence. ...While one attains to be exclusively empirical in nature the other makes no such generalization.

sure it does - because the "generalization" of philophy is the "truth", so no philosopher will start to think "faith based". What's definitely wrong in physics, will not work in philosophy either - so the "freedom" of the one sister is the "frontier" of the other

where physics has to end - where her tools don't work - philosophy has her kingdom

but where the tools of physics work - philosophy can't (and won't) start to tell fairies, just to "win the game of thoughts"

that's the role of the daughter - the religion...

no philosopher would refuse to look through the telescope of Galileo, for to seek the truth demands to accept it

Science has failed us in degrees like philosophy before, so he found tha we need to find a way to make both schools cooperate if we are ever to find a clear solution (pragmatism?).

Science fails where her tools don't work - but tools can be (and were and will be) further developed

and the basic tool of natural science is math:

where the limits of math are, there are the limits of natural science

simply look at math to find the limitations: the set-oriented, geometry-based mathematics of Euklid was developed to measure land - to measure stable elements like fields and houses (perfectly describable by sets)

but there was another branch of mathematics/philosophy, still at those times, something like "perception-based": the physics/mathematics of Parmenides (with too much contradictions to be useful, but very interesting ideas)

now, with the definition of information (something like a mathematics based on set-creating rules instead of sets) the tools of natural science are going to pervade much more of our universe than just the unanimate part

I need more time to analyse your mathematical and physical angle though.

Take as much time as you like - "gut Ding will Weile" (Whatever is produced in haste goes hastily to waste)

Mon Jul 25, 09:00:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Again said...

sorry, PS - just to be clear:

"definition of information (something like a mathematics based on set-creating rules instead of sets)"

i don't speak about the 1000 known definitions, but about the "1001st definition of information" (no, not a fairy ;-) like "Tales from 1001 Nights")

Mon Jul 25, 09:20:00 AM CDT  
Blogger JasonJ said...

Again,
To clarify a couple of things before I move on to a different subject than the one and many, I need to offer you this rebuttal.

Ok, I need to clarify that I was referring more to the general 'I am' and not to 'who am I?'. The difference is subtle linguistically but in meaning it is substancial. I refer to I am as the initial awakening of our species. I realize that in all likelihood that this was probably more of a gradual awakening; and that one loathing creature did not just wake up one morning to realize 'who am I and why am I here?'. This thought could not cross a mind that did not have language to support it. I don't know if you ever read my rebuttal to your remarks back on warblogging about the origin of inequality from Rousseau, but I tried to address it there. Certainly language took many generations of aware human conciousness to develop and we could debate that as a completely different issue some time. But to make a long story long.....Some wretched beast, at some point in time declared 'I am, I exist' and began pondering this phenomenon. What am I? Who am I? How did I come to be? Why did Ug stop moving? What smells so bad in this cave? I believe that man was aware of his life even before he was aware that he was born to die. This was the 'I am' that I was trying to bring out.

But a trivial matter. We shoudl move on here. I got the impression that you thought that I was attacking physical science in my last comment to you and I feel I must explain where I was going with it; although I must admit you took the bait really well.

I sometimes feel the need to play Devil's Advocate in the exchange of ideas. To point out...In general, science is based on empirical knowledge. We base our scientific history on experimentation and repetition of results when the experiment is repeated. Would you agree so far? But if I may have a little room to broaden this assumption, we could easily say that basing our knowledge entirely upon empirical data admits us into a group that would have to argue for absolute monism. This is due to the fact that we say that every thing in the universe depends on laws that are always consistent; therefore, every epoch occurs in its own way because it was meant to happen that way based on its laws of motion. Wouldn't we have to admit that? Unless we can rationalize........hmm, but isn't rationalisation the opposing force to empiricism? We place a variable in the place of a supposed known quantity and say 'well, if we change this then maybe this woudl be different'. But this does not follow with our tenets of scientific discovery very well unless the theory I have proposed is misguided.

The other argument I would offer that I theologian might throw out is that even in science we tend to take things presented to us as already proven. We take them on others' word that this or that is truth. This brings in the question of dogmatism. Why do we find that we can put our 'faith' in this dogma, yet we are perfectly willing to cast that dogma out? What is it that bends our paradigms to one path but leads us away from the other? These are serious questions that we need to be able to produce answers for. Obviously the question of our belief comes from the fact that in science we can readily reproduce our expected outcome if our sincerity is called into question. I do not however, have a ready answer to the accusation of empiricism leading to monism. Perhaps you can give me something to lead me into an honest idea of how this can be any different though.

Thank you for the enlightening post.

Tue Jul 26, 08:05:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Again said...

JasonJ:

Ok, I need to clarify that I was referring more to the general 'I am' and not to 'who am I?'.

just an aside: isn't the question earlier than the answer?


I refer to I am as the initial awakening of our species...This thought could not cross a mind that did not have language to support it.

is your "I am" the Ego, the Self-Consciousness, Self-Awareness, shown by the ability to realize the own self in a mirror?

i'm a little worried to say the wrong thing, but that "Ego" is a necessary part of active information processing on a higher level - the "Ego" is just the "DNA" of active information processing, while DNA is (a special kind of) the self-image of a passive information processing system

actually, every high sophisticated computer will get an Ego, if we are able develop programs on a sophisticated active information processing base

I don't know if you ever read my rebuttal to your remarks back on warblogging about the origin of inequality from Rousseau, but I tried to address it there.

sorry, no - i surely would have replied, but i lost control over the posts because of all those spams and trolls on WB.

Some wretched beast, at some point in time declared 'I am, I exist' and began pondering this phenomenon. What am I? Who am I? How did I come to be? Why did Ug stop moving? What smells so bad in this cave? I believe that man was aware of his life even before he was aware that he was born to die. This was the 'I am' that I was trying to bring out.

so really the above "Ego"?


I got the impression that you thought that I was attacking physical science in my last comment to you

nonononono...

i guess, your impression depends on my use of the english language. I try to be precise to be understandable, but i am not able to "feel the colors" of the words, which are so important to create "context", so i use the words simply by their literal meaning, as you may find them in LEO or somewhere else. That's why i feel so "handicapped" in using English and that's why the "impressions" created by my words are often not the ones i intended to create

and to defend natural science is my second nature, because even physicists believe, that the "weapons of ratio" cannot be used on the human nature

that's simply not true. It may be true, that we UNTIL NOW cannot explain by precise formulas the human behavior, culture and soul, but actually we can start to understand it - even now

(to be precise: formulas, describing rules, not the rule-created results/datas/sets)


although I must admit you took the bait really well.

thank you very much

To point out...In general, science is based on empirical knowledge. We base our scientific history on experimentation and repetition of results when the experiment is repeated. Would you agree so far?

yes, perfectly - that's the basic nature of information - identifiable repeatability

but now, tara, there comes the modern "self-evidence", which prevents the greatest scientists on Earth to understand the simple information - billions of words, thousands of definitions of information, but the simplest thing on Earth can't be seen - because of "self-evidence"...


we could easily say that basing our knowledge entirely upon empirical data ...Wouldn't we have to admit that?

here we go again...

because we (humankind) found some deterministic processes (information) which allowed us to understand more and more of our world...

we simply generalized it - ALL processes have to be deterministic - time, the great destroyer of the Veda, was tamed by Chronos, the Greek God, than by the Abrahamic Gods, which knew everything and decided everything and controlled everything - than Newton, who claimed to be able to know the whole universe if he just would be able to know all particles and motions, than modern Quantum Theory (Bells Theorem, AFAIK)...

all based on this simple word "entirely" (basing our knowledge entirely upon empirical data)

that's what i wanted to say: in a universe based "entirely upon empirical data" - i guess you wanted to say on datas as results of processes describable by mathematical formulas, because every other "empirical data" isn't useful, is "disturbance" - there is no place for free will because of the perfect determinism

but that's not our universe - that's a wishful thinking of humans

intelligence is the "conquest of the future" because of the simple fact, that it is able to detect/identify information - because information is identifiable. And because information is repeatability, you can USE information to "see into the future", because if you know how information starts, you know how it will end

but this "conquest of the future" has a high price - the more you can grab of reality, the more you realize how much more you can't: fear of the unknown. So there is a deep desire not only for knowledge (gathering of information to foresee the future, simply to better survive) but for determinism - easily seen in the tendency of the human cultures and religions of the last 10,000 years - we now live in a nearly worldwide culture of convictions of the pre-defined: religions or set-mathematical-based science


but isn't rationalisation the opposing force to empiricism?

"rationalisation" means to understand? empiricism without rationalisation (in that sense) doesn't make any sense, because you gather datas to detect the basic rules, how it works - that's understanding, even in pure philosophy: tell me your definitions/your ideas, tell me your interdependencies and tell me your rules, than i can understand/follow your conclusions

We place a variable in the place of a supposed known quantity and say 'well, if we change this then maybe this woudl be different'. But this does not follow with our tenets of scientific discovery very well unless the theory I have proposed is misguided.

isn't that exactly, what Chaos Theory does? Changing parameters to see how the system reacts?

so why should this not follow scientific discovery? The first thing you learn as (mathematical) physicist is: control your preconditions. If the preconditions were NOT fulfilled, you can't use the formula

that simply means, that to know SOMETHING doesn't tell you anything abouth SOMETHING ELSE

or in other words: to know that a system with a given variable/quantity behaves as observed doesn't say much about the fact how it behaves under other circumstances, so to say 'well, if we change this then maybe this woudl be different' is a quite scientific question

or did i understand you wrong?


This brings in the question of dogmatism. Why do we find that we can put our 'faith' in this dogma, yet we are perfectly willing to cast that dogma out? What is it that bends our paradigms to one path but leads us away from the other? These are serious questions that we need to be able to produce answers for.

i guess that's the problem of our brain - so imagine, you have to understand an "nearly infinite reality" in a finite time with finite ressources. First thing: it is (nearly) impossible

but second thing: a reality able to create intelligent information processing systems has to have some basic qualities/properties: it must be highly "informative", means it must be highly deterministic. So, you as brain decides to focus on that deterministic behavior of your environment. You choose - by mutation and selection - the primary processes which dominate your life, you identify (remember: information is identifiable) some key-values, able to describe about 80% of the similar behavior and store those key-values and the following steps - that's (very short) a description of instincts and emotions. Advantage: you are very fast in evaluation of a given situation

Disadvantage: 20% failures

ok, i'll stop here, but if you look at the way, a brain learns, you see that it works sometimes the same way: identifying key values and than simply following steps: rituals.

They are the most easy way for teachers and for students to learn something - (dis)advantage: you need NOT to understand the basic rules, it is simply faster and easier than the "active" way of information processing, the use of rules with meta-datas, and works fine in stable environments, where processes don't change

this convenience together with our desire for information (deterministic processes) supports the evolution of rituals and dogmas

that's the reason why we love dogmas - and the reason why we (more or less easily) cast them out? Because our brain is optimized to detect information and so it knows, that information MUST BE identifiable and repeatable. Proof of contradiction: if something happens which destroys the assumption of repeatability (more than an assumption can't be derived by observation = empirical datas) our brain doesn't hesitate to discard the assumption (the dogma)

so you need a very deep "faith" to overrule this basic laws of brain


Obviously the question of our belief comes from the fact that in science we can readily reproduce our expected outcome if our sincerity is called into question.

only - and really only - if the precondition of an informative process is given. Even in hydrodynamics you have problems to get the precise-equal initial state, but that's another story ;-)

Thank you for the enlightening post.

i'm a little worried to argue so far away that people like MK or human or JMF or UT doesn't want to join the discussion - i would be very sad about that

so i would like to see some comments of them - not only to listen to their thoughts, but simply to understand a little more of your next postings ;-)

because philosophical discussions are mostly high level abstraction - even hard to understand in your mother language, so i have some problems and need some time and each comment of somebody else would help to understand a little more....

Thu Jul 28, 06:17:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Mannning said...

Recently, I read that during the first nanoseconds after the start of the Big Bang (for our Universe) that the laws of physics were suspended. It was not until some small time later that there became a "focus", and laws were again operating. I can get the quote if anyone is interested.

The implications of this are startling! And quite beyond my ability to comprehend it. In that wee nanosecond or so (or maybe it was even smaller) perhaps anything was possible! Perhaps there are other Universes as well?

I am not an epistomologist, and tend to recognize what I cannot know, and what I cannot understand. I do not understand M-Theory, for instance, and must take the word of those who do or think they do.

But that theory is where some of the new multiverse thinking came from, though it isn't very accepted to my knowledge. Of course, to old SF fans, the idea is bread and butter.

So the question as posed originally is, in my opinion, for all intents and purposes, unknowable and unprovable.

Nor should it get in the way of a debate on more practical and human grounds, just as Newton's physics gives useful answers if you don't to probe too far.

I suppose that means monism is the objective and operational conclusion of the day. It is hard enough to get one's arms around that!

Mon Aug 15, 12:13:00 AM CDT  

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