On 9/22/2012 5:25 AM, Roger Clough wrote:
ROGER: Hi Bruno Marchal

I think we should only use the word "exists" only when we are
referring to physical existence.

Dear Roger,

I think the exact opposite. We should NEVER use the word exists in reference to what is merely the subject of human perception, aka "physical existence".

BRUNO: Hmm.... That might aggravate the naturalist or materialist human penchant.

    Just a tad...

ROGER: Why ? Naturalist and materialist entities are extended and so physically exist.

Why might wish to consider that that "extension" is the result of observation and not independent of it. What I just wrote will be controversial, as it seems to make "what exists" subject to human whim, but I am trying to make a more subtle point. The physical world has properties that we can observe by performing observations and we have learned, from very careful experiment and logical analysis, that those properties cannot be "definite" prior to the measurements. This is not to say that measurements "cause" properties, no. Measurements "select" properties. "Objects" prior to measurement have a spectrum of "possible properties" and not "definite properties. This is the lesson of QM that must be understood. To claim otherwise is to claim that nature has a preference for some basis. We to understand that every single act of interaction that occurs in the universe is, at some level, an act of measurement. If we consider that there are a HUGE number of measurements occurring all around us continuously, that this and this alone is responsible for the appearance of a "definite" physical world that has properties "objectively". It does this in the sense that that definiteness does not depend on the actions of any one individual observations or interaction; it depends on the sum over all of the acts of interaction.

What I say here is how I think Leibniz would respond.

Thus I can truthfully say,
for example, that God does not exist.
Wikipedia says, "In common usage, it [existence]
is the world we are aware of through our senses,
and that persists independently without them."

BRUNO: But that points on the whole problem. With comp and QM, even when you observe the moon, it is not "really" there.

ROGER: Yes it is. Although I observe the moon phenomenologically, it still has physical existence in spacetime
because it is extended.

You are not the only observer of the moon! There is a subtle passive-aggressive solipsism in this idea that "the moon exists without me" , as if to imply the possibility of the converse: "the moon would not exist without me".

No, By Leibniz' Monadology, all extensions are an "appearance" and not inherent or "innate". The definiteness of the Moon follows from the mutual consistency required to occur between the percepts of each and every monad such that an "incontrovertible" (empty of inconsistency) relation can exist between them. This in the language of computer science is known as "Satisfiability".

At least that's Leibniz' position, namely that phenomena, although illusions, still have physical presence. Leibniz refers to these as "well-founded phenomena." You can still stub your toe on
phenomenological rocks.

Yes, but Leibniz' position was that phenomenological appearance flowed strictly from the Pre-Established Harmony between monads and had no existence or "reality" otherwise.


"Existence has been variously defined by sources. In common usage, it is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. Others define it as everything that is, or simply everything."

I am one of those "others". We cannot conflate the definiteness of properties that we perceive with the bundling together of those properties in some particular location that results because of the requirement of mutual consistency of our physical universe. Existence, qua innate possibility to be, cannot be constrained by any a prior or contingent upon any a posteriori. It must simply be. So leave it alone.

On the other hand, Platonia, Plotinus, Plato, Kant and Leibniz,
take the opposite view or what is real and what exists. To them ideas
and other nonphysical items such as numbers or anything not extended in space,
anything outside of spacetime are what exist, the physical world out
there is merely an appearance, a phenomenon. Following Leibniz,
I would say of such things that they live, since life has
such attributes.

But Leibniz did not give us a complete and consistent ToE. His P.E.H. is deeply flawed and his explanation of the world that logically follows from the synchronization of the monad's perceptions <http://www.angelfire.com/md2/timewarp/leibniz.html>was woefully pedantic and flawed. I suspect that he simply did not want to try to speculate on the subject but his hand was forced by his need to defend his ideas against the savage attacks from the likes of Voltaire and others.

I believe that Leibniz' Monadology can be rehabilitated and that it presents us with the general outline of a way of thinking that is consistent with the message of QM, that there is no preferred basis and that all appearances of a physical world are purely phenomenological. Convincing the classicists and the substance monists that this is the case, well, not so easy.

BRUNO: Hmm... Then numbers lives, but with comp, only universal or Lobian numbers can be said reasonably enough to be living. You might go to far. Even in Plato, the No? content (all the ideas) is richer that its living part. I doubt Plato would have said that a circle is living. Life will need the soul to enact life in the intelligible.

Of course! It has God, the supreme monad to do this. In QM terms we have the idea of the entire universe as a QM system, and we have the mysterious Wheeler-Dewitt equation describing its timeless Hamiltonian.

Plato's One is a special case, since it is a monad of monads,

Yes, it was the Completion of all possible monads. It must be complete for obvious reasons and it must be Consistent for logical reasons, but if we examine this idea carefully, we find that there is a problem. It cannot be both simultaneously and be effective.

And more esoteric thinking treats numbers more as beings:


BRUNO: The person and its body. OK. For the term "exist" I think we should allow all reading, and just ask people to remind us of the sense before the use.

With comp, all the exists comes from the "ExP(x)" use in arithmetic, and their arithmetical epistemological version, like []Ex[]P(x), or []<>Ex[]<>P(x), etc.

Can not you see, Bruno, that this stipulation makes existence contingent upon the ability to be defined by a symbol and thus on human whim? It is the tool-maker and user that is talking through you here.

That gives a testable toy theology (testable as such a theology contains the physics as a subpart).

Testable, sure, but theology should never be contingent. It must flow from pure necessity and our finite models are simply insufficient for this task.

ROGER: You lost me, except I believe that a main part of confusion and disagreement on this list
comes because of multiple meanings of the word "exists",
which brings me back to where I started:

I think we should only use the word "exists" only when we are
referring to physical (extended) existence.


    We agree, Roger, in our disagreement.




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