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.
I think the exact opposite. We should NEVER use the word exists in
reference to what is merely the subject of human perception, aka
BRUNO: Hmm.... That might aggravate the naturalist or materialist
Just a tad...
ROGER: Why ? Naturalist and materialist entities are extended and so
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
still have physical presence. Leibniz refers to these as "well-founded
phenomena." You can still stub your toe on
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
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
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
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
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
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 ExP(x), or
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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