Hi Hal,

I am not sure I can give you much feed back on what you advance below because these go well beyond the little I understand about these questions of metaphysics. In general I think you can strech some of conventional definitions in order to find out where that gets you but if you try and strech all of them at once you risk not knowing what you are talking about anymore. I'll give it a shot but please forgive me where I can't really say much...

Godfrey Kurtz
(New Brunswick, NJ)

-----Original Message-----
From: Hal Ruhl <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: everything-list@eskimo.com
Sent: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 17:42:13 -0400
Subject: Re: subjective reality

Hi Godfrey:

At 03:10 PM 8/24/2005, you wrote:

>Hi Hal,
> My first comment was directed at your previous sentence which read > something like: "The list of course would have properties that seem > incompatible as simultaneous properties of a single object, but > nevertheless definitions create such objects as the "is not" member of > the definitional pair. So the All is - in total - self incompatible, but > so what? " I thought, from it, that you meant to say that your Everything > list contains contradictory attributions like "X is a car" and "X is not > a car" for the same X. I obviously
>misunderstood you.

The distinction is between existence and reality. While the whole list is taken as existing the assumption does not hold that every "is" and "is not" definable object can also have reality. I find it difficult to accept some combinations of "X is ***..." and "X is not ***..." as being simultaneous properties of the same object that can have reality or of any of its sub components but "round square" is perhaps not so unacceptable. For example in a discrete point universe where for one of its components half the applicable points are arranged "square" and half "round" this being a state in some sort of transition sequence of states wherein that component goes from being round to being square. Now when this particular state has reality in a sequence of such states does it not contain a "round square"?

I see but again I caution you about the use of those words, "reality" and "existence". I think the first one has been more in the province of physics and that is why Einstein gave himself the trouble of defining it as a "metatheoretic term". Mathematicians, even the ones who are not ashamed of professing platonism, never actually give you a definition of their "platonic reality" , since they don't quite believe they can map the whole realm of "platonic forms" or don't even believe that can be done (as Godel insisted). They will however prove "Existence" and Non-Existence theorems about some of these objects that you can build from attributions such as your infamous "round square" (though I am not aware of
any proof concerning this particular ontological thorn).

I sympathize with the more "liberal" metaphysical point of view about what abstracta exist as defended, for example by Ed Zalta following Meinong and Mally (check is humorous Metaphysics Research Lab at Stanford: http://mally.stanford.edu/ ) though I don't agree with his view of mathematical objects in particular. So I would grant you "a list" of sorts even containing "fictional objects" such as the round-square if you exclude from it any reference to physical objects. I just don't know how useful something like that would be....

> About your first assumption, as you restate above, I would venture to > say that QM suggests that the existence of such list is very unlikely if > by 'reality" one understands "physical reality" as defined by EPR, that > is, as composed by distinct elements > bearing properties that are independent of the means of observation used > to assign them to such objects. This is the gist > of Einstein's famous question "Is the moon there when nobody looks?" and > all that folklore.

I am making a distinction between existence and reality. Reality is a transitory state that some definable objects can have. Further I think it is incorrect to try to exclusively argue from a very small sub set [sample] of the objects that can have reality - presumably the states of our universe - back to the system that embeds them.

Again, those (states of our universe) are exactly the objects whose reality attribution is more problematic! I am not sure how to drive this point accross to you. There is a paper posted today in the phsyics arXiv that you may want to read as it is
exactly on this subject:


If it turns out that quantum mechanics is part of the valid description of our universe [The issue is I believe an open one] then the embedding system should allow for that. This does not preclude other universes for which quantum mechanics is not part of the description.

Well, I think it is hard to argue that QM is not a "part of the valid description of our universe" so I cannot agree with you above! All empirical indications, so far, are to the contrary. What is an open question is whether it is the ONLY valid part or whether it is the valid description of the WHOLE universe since we still lack one.

>Now if by "reality" you mean
> platonic reality, I think it is a good question whether such list may > exist or not. You will have to ask a mathematician...

I am of the opinion that the line items on my list are just numbers. I believe that most participants in this venue would allow that "Numbers exist" is a possible starting point and that this is could be considered a type of Platonism. I just renamed numbers as "properties" so as to include all their interpretations [sets of other numbers].

Here I don't fully understand you. I am willing to admit that numbers exist or that they have a reality that is independent of my own existence or yours but I think that means that "numbers have properties" rather than "numbers are properties (of something else)"; if I believe the latter I don't think I could claim to be a platonist...

>(I am assuming it is contains an countable infinity of entries, no?)

Well there is a difference between listing and counting. I may not be able to count the reals [at least in this universe] but I think a mathematician who allows for continuous dimensions in a 3D space will also allow that in such a space I can list the reals just by drawing a line segment of arbitrary length on a note pad. Since my list has no dimensionality restrictions I suspect it can be one for one with the continuum.

Hal Ruhl

Sorry Hal, I don't see very well how a list can be "one-to-one with the continuum"! That may be a default of my imagination...



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