Dear Lee,

Are you the continuer of Niels Bohr? Seriously! The argument that your making is very similar to the argument that lead to the Copenhagen Interpretation. ;-) This is not a crtitisism, you are making some very good points.

My problem is that I agree with both you and Russell and am having a hardtime finding the middle ground. ;-)



----- Original Message ----- From: "Lee Corbin" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: <>
Cc: "EverythingList" <>
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2005 10:06 PM
Subject: RE: what relation do mathematical models have with reality?

Russell writes

Sadly, your wish for the common sense understanding of "reality" to hold
will be thwarted - the more one thinks about such things, the less
coherent a concept it becomes.

Well, all that I ask is that the *basics* be kept firmly in mind
while we gingerly probe forward.

The basics (basic epistemology, that is) include

1. the map is not the territory, and perception is not reality

2. the words we have for things are not the things themselves,
  but only labels

3. we must *not* use basic language and terminology that conflicts
  with that used by twelve-year olds

For most of us in this list, the 3+1 dimensional spacetime we inhabit,
with its stars and galaxies etc is an appearance, phenomena emerging
out of constraints imposed by the process of observation.

Right there is the problem. Let's focus on what you are *referring*
to in your first sentence: "the 3+1 spacetime with its stars and
galaxies".  We must keep clear the difference between what you are
*referring* to and our observations of it, or our perceptions of it.
They're not at all the same thing.

So when you use the dread "is" and write "For most of us... the
spacetime *is* an appearance", we've already gone over the edge.
No. The spacetime that you probably meant is *not* an appearance,
and we should not talk about it as if it is an appearance. *It*
is whatever is out there. Yes, our understanding of it may be poor.
Yes, it may not be at all as we *think*.  In fact, it cannot in
in any literal sense *be* what we *think*.

I'm just urging everyone to keep in mind this key difference,
that's all.  If we lose the language of realism, we lose our
real ability to communicate. There is no longer any constraint
at all that keeps one's words having meaning to others.

I understand and appreciate your remaining remarks.


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