Hi Stephen P. King  and Bruno,

The notion of primitiveness seems to me at least to be very similar to 
Leibniz's notion of what is real.
Leibniz believed that that which can be further divided is not real, since it 
always be divided once more, and he even seems to have believed that atoms
(or fundamental particles, in our day) are infinitely divisible.  So according 
Leibniz (and Berkeley), matter is not real. There's nothing "there" there.

According to L, only ideas of things that had no parts (at least at the scope 
considered magnification, to my mind) and were complete wholes could thus be 
considered real, and he called such things substances and crowned them
as monads. Thus the logical descriptions of things (such as "a man") is
real, but his corporeal body is not. 

This may partly be to L's concept of a monad as being a living homunculus,
so that it would have to include at least the categories of mind, heart
and body).


Roger , rclo...@verizon.net
Leibniz would say, "If there's no God, we'd have to invent him so everything 
could function."
----- Receiving the following content ----- 
From: Stephen P. King 
Receiver: everything-list 
Time: 2012-08-16, 18:57:27
Subject: Re: What is physical primitiveness

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 

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 

    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

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to