On 8/16/2012 1:13 PM, Bruno Marchal wrote:

On 16 Aug 2012, at 17:52, Roger wrote:

Hi Bruno Marchal
What is physical primitiveness ?

"primitiveness of X" means that we accept the existence, and some property of X in the starting assumption we make for a theory.

Dear Roger and Bruno,

I must point out that this definition assumes the prior existence and definiteness of the entities that are defining the theory itself. This makes the theory contingent upon those priors in the sense that the theory should not be assumed to have meaningful content in the absence of those priors.

Physicalist believes that physics can reach such objects, like with the notion of atom, and then elementary particles, or strings, etc. With comp, this does not exist. The whole of physics is a branch of digital machine's science, or arithmetic (or computer science).

The beliefs of the physicalist are contingent upon and even supervene upon the prior existence and definiteness of properties of the entities capable of being labeled as physicalist (or some alternative). This is true for all entities capable of having a meaningful notion of belief. It would be a self-contradiction to propose a theory that disallows for the existence and definiteness of the entity that proposed the theory. This error is known as self-stultification.

In arithmetic, we usually take as primitive the number zero, and accept axiom like "0 ≠ s(x), for all x", with the intended meaning that 0 is not a successor of any number. But note that the proofs will not rely on any intended meaning.

But arithmetic, as a theory, does not float free of the minds (and brains) of those that understand it. The idea that arithmetic or any other abstract object or relation cannot have meaningful content in the absence of a means for it to be both believed to possibly be true (or false) and communicated about. Otherwise it is at best a delusion in the mind of a single entity.

The idea that primary matter exists is very natural. I guess a cat believe that milk is something of that sort. It has been explicitly postulated by Aristotle, who is still vague if that primariness is really an axiom of something to justify.

Aristotle simply was being consistent. He and many other philosophers do not take their own existence and definiteness for granted. Just as primitiveness is often a tacit or unstated axiom of a theory, its justification is obvious: without the assumption of a object of a theory, there is no theory.

But the followers of Aristotle will tend to reify it, and that will lead to the modern physicalism. But such physicalism is problematical once we bet that we are digital machine. At least, that is what I am arguing.

Maybe you are arguing against the positivist and empiricists that would claim no curiosity as to the ontological implications and content of the theories that they use to make predictions.



"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
~ Francis Bacon

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