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A universe from nothing… BS
Posted: 22 January 2012 10:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]  
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srrr - 22 January 2012 09:35 PM
rammaq - 22 January 2012 09:00 PM
Michael Kean - 22 January 2012 07:54 PM

Life and non-life are two different arrangements of fundamental constituents that have a fuzzy and fractal border between them, just like the border between the USA & Canada - or just like the borders between all other pairs of things and their fallible concepts.

‘Arrangement’ is merely a shorthand term for what we find at a given region in space. It is not an entity on its own.

Let’s look at this picture:
http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/2301/patt.png
What we have there are two fundamental particles at a given region of space. 

Now you can either subsume all that the picture shows under the label ‘arrangement XY’, or you can describe it in terms of the particles and the space. Regardless of which option you choose, both the term ‘arrangement XY’ and the low-level description will refer to the same things, namely to the particles and the space.

So if you talk about the arrangement, you only talk about the particles and the space, not about something in addition to them. The arrangement simply IS this:
http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/2301/patt.png

As for the border between two arrangements:

It doesn’t exist.

There is no physical boundary or ‘area’ that specifies what belongs to an arrangement and what doesn’t. These boundaries are arbitrarily set by humans. For example, there is no rule or law that tells us that the blade of grass next to your house does not belong to your house anymore, or that China doesn’t belong to Europe anymore. There isn’t even a physical justification for saying that the air around our bodies doesn’t belong to our bodies anymore (when does the air you breath, or the water you drink, stop to be an external thing and begin to belong to you?).

It surely seems to us, when we look at the world, that there are configurations which are sharply distinct from each other, but if we zoom in a bit more (on the subatomic level), then we cannot identify a boundary between these configurations anymore.

Exactly right. Wow you take the words right out of my mouth. Heres an image i once made to explain it:


http://i40.tinypic.com/111q8zq.jpg


Situation A and B are both different configurations. Yet the only difference between the two situations is a quantitative difference (in the spacetime between the orbs). The same goes for any other physical configuration.

I’m sorry but all of this is quite ridiculous.  If you want to deny any real differences in reality then fine - walk away - but look out for the next tree in your path in the real world you model as having no meaningful differences!  Situation A & B are different in arrangement and so different in their properties and real-world effects.  For instance if the orbs have mass then the gravitational forces active in A as opposed to B will be different, resulting in different behaviour.  Likewise if the orbs represent electrical charges or magnets or transmitters of sound or sources of light or quarks, etc. etc.  So the behaviour of reality arises from arrangement alone.  Remember that the next time there’s a tree in front of you!  Your model of reality needs to assist people in their daily lives - not put a stumblingblock in their way!  I have tried to agree with you srrr whenever I was able to do so.  All of what has now been said covers old ground which I’m not prepared to go over yet again.  Bottom line is that you seem to think fundamental particles and primordial consciousness always existed.  In my book these things blatantly contradict your own position of a denial of strong emergence in your terms and a denial of something from nothing.  It’s as simple as that.  End of story.

[ Edited: 23 January 2012 04:26 PM by Michael Kean]
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Posted: 22 January 2012 10:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]  
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If something always existed, how is this incompatible with the idea that creationes ex nihilo (which strong emergence is a type of) don’t happen?

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Posted: 22 January 2012 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]  
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rammaq - 22 January 2012 10:37 PM

If something always existed, how is this incompatible with the idea that creationes ex nihilo (which strong emergence is a type of) don’t happen?

Sorry rammaq - you need to read all the posts from the last batch of posts you did to the current set.  I’m not prepared to repeat everything again.  I don’t believe in your idea of strong emergence or creationism either.

[ Edited: 22 January 2012 11:31 PM by Michael Kean]
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Posted: 23 January 2012 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]  
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Michael Kean - 22 January 2012 10:05 PM
srrr - 22 January 2012 09:35 PM

Situation A and B are both different configurations. Yet the only difference between the two situations is a quantitative difference (in the spacetime between the orbs). The same goes for any other physical configuration.

I’m sorry but all of this is quite ridiculous.  If you want to deny any real differences in reality then fine [...]

Do you think spacetime isnt real? Or did u not read what i wrote (see the bold bit)?

For instance if the orbs have mass then the gravitational forces active in A as opposed to B will be different, resulting in different behaviour.  Likewise if the orbs represent electrical charges or magnets or transmitters of sound or sources of light, etc. etc.  So the behaviour of reality arises from arrangement alone.  Remember that the next time there’s a tree in front of you!  Your model of reality needs to assist people in their daily lives - not put a stumblingblock in their way!  I have tried to agree with you srrr whenever I was able to do so.  All of what has now been said covers old ground which I’m not prepared to go over yet again.  Bottom line is that you seem to think fundamental particles and primordial consciousness always existed.  In my book these things blatantly contradict your own position of a denial of strong emergence in your terms and a denial of something from nothing.  It’s as simple as that.  End of story.

You mention gravity and mass, both fundamental properties (mass is part of the equation E=MC² and interchangable with energy). Also you mention electric charge which is another fundamental property. Light is plain electromagnetism, which is also fundamental. Everything you said supports what im saying: that physical objects differ only quantitatively from eachother. Thats what physics tells us anyway.

[ Edited: 23 January 2012 09:04 AM by srrr]
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Posted: 23 January 2012 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]  
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Michael Kean - 22 January 2012 07:54 PM

Sorry - this is inaccurate.  Particle physics at best only tentatively suggests that the current set of fundamental particles (which include “forces” BTW) are “foundational”.  They are subject to testing and falsification just like everything else.  This is how science works.  Nothing in physics is foundational in the sense I think you mean it here and in the sense you might subjectively apply it to PC.  And many areas of science, such as biology, are based on those arbitrary definitions, such as a definition of life.  This is well acknowledged but unfortunately unavoidable for fallible agents such as ourselves.  Finally, as we advance in our knowledge of the fundamental constituents of our universe we get closer and closer to concepts quite alien to us.  Will we even think in terms of fundamental particles in 1,000 years time?  Who knows?  So your use of the word “physical” in your last sentence is ill-advised.  A physicality that incorporates all the non-physical “forces” is already tricky enough.  But I agree perceived differences will always be around.  How we will characterise the most basic “differences” would be anybody’s guess.  Will we all casually characterise matter as simple “topological defects embedded in the quantum foam” and space as those defects that are not “topologically preserved”?  Doesn’t sound, in the ordinary sense, solidly “physicalist” to me.

Yes particle physics is tentative, yet lo and behold, physicalists believe that reality is “physical”, and that no matter how “the physical” will turn out to be, it wont ever have consciousness as an ingredient. Remember im just putting myself in the shoes of a physicalist here and sticking to known physical facts. What else should i reason from wrt to physicalism if not the facts physics has revealed? If physicalists believe in something other than what current physics tells us about the world, then thats no longer physicalism. Strong emergence is an example of something that contradicts known physics and science.


As for biology, yes it is based on arbitrary definitions. Biology is basically a higher level description of what happens with the fundamental particles and forces inside organisms. In principle it is possible to describe it all in terms of those particles and forces, and that means the higher level description is redundant, but in practice this is impossible to do, such a description would be faaaar too long. We wouldnt be able to communicate properly with eachother. So we invent new names, new labels, based on arbitrary definitions, and this helps us out socially. For instance, i could call you a “human”. That doesnt change the fact that physically, you just consist of elementary particles and forces.

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Posted: 23 January 2012 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]  
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Michael Kean - 22 January 2012 03:39 PM

So starting with the last thing you said first, I now understand clearly that you think PC has always been there.  Wow! Something from nothing!  BTW I never said or even semantically suggested that the physical or panprotostuff has always been there.  The concept of anything always being there is totally contrary to the idea and philosophy of an emergent universe.

I thought you accepted weak emergence? Weak emergence implies that something exists, and that that something has quantitative differences over time.

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Posted: 23 January 2012 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]  
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Michael Kean - 22 January 2012 04:22 PM

If you fully supported weak emergence then you would agree that PC also weakly emerged.  So you don’t fully support weak emergence.  This is the contradiction in all your thinking.  You ridicule reductionism but also accept it.  You ridicule science but speak as though today’s fundamental particles are irreducible and that PC was always there: This is something science would never do.  You reject mysticism but mystically stand on the rock of your PC.

I think you still dont understand what weak emergence is. Heres an example: Imagine that two planets in space slowly move away from eachother. In situation A the planets are 1 million km apart. In situation B they are 2 million km apart. Thats it. That is weak emergence. If they moved 3 million km apart, it still is just weak emergence. Did the planets vanish? No. Did the spacetime vanish? No. So here we have weak emergence, and none of the ingredients involved vanished. Thats why its weak emergence: it doesnt say anything vanished or popped into existence, because that would be magical strong emergence.


Now for the sake of argument, lets pretend that both planets are conscious of their surroundings. As they move away from eachother, their surroundings change, and they experience this difference. So you see, there is weak emergence, and there is consciousness in both situations. Weak emergence implies that consciousness exists and that at any moment in time, there is always some quantity of it. If there werent some quantity of it, you would need strong emergence to explain why some quantity of it exists now. Weak emergence is only ever about quantitative differences. The idea that now a quantity of C exists (in brains) and that in the past it didnt, is the opposite of weak emergence. Its the equivalent of saying that a completely motionless universe suddenly starts moving without a cause.

[ Edited: 23 January 2012 11:24 AM by srrr]
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Posted: 23 January 2012 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]  
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srrr - 23 January 2012 08:59 AM

Everything you said supports what im saying: that physical objects differ only quantitatively from eachother.

I’m sorry but does the word “only” effectively portray the richness of all the behaviours and effects of those quantitative differences that is our universe?  Not on your life.  Does it help or hinder our appreciation of the universe?  This is my objection.  So often I agree with part of what you say - e.g. that everything is made of fundamental constituents (at different levels) - but not with the thrust of your statements - e.g. that because this is so, arrangement, behaviour, effect, count for next to nothing (instead of everything).

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Posted: 23 January 2012 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]  
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srrr - 23 January 2012 09:22 AM
Michael Kean - 22 January 2012 07:54 PM

Finally, as we advance in our knowledge of the fundamental constituents of our universe we get closer and closer to concepts quite alien to us.  Will we even think in terms of fundamental particles in 1,000 years time?  Who knows?  So your use of the word “physical” in your last sentence is ill-advised.  Will we all casually characterise matter as simple “topological defects embedded in the quantum foam” and space as those defects that are not “topologically preserved”?  Doesn’t sound, in the ordinary sense, solidly “physicalist” to me.

Yes particle physics is tentative, yet lo and behold, physicalists believe that reality is “physical”, and that no matter how “the physical” will turn out to be, it wont ever have consciousness as an ingredient. Remember im just putting myself in the shoes of a physicalist here and sticking to known physical facts. What else should i reason from wrt to physicalism if not the facts physics has revealed? If physicalists believe in something other than what current physics tells us about the world, then thats no longer physicalism. Strong emergence is an example of something that contradicts known physics and science.

What else should you reason with?  What about letting cutting-edge science out of your pre-conceived philosophical boxes so it can get on with doing science?  Science doesn’t need your “physicalist” straightjacket to do science.  And who is talking about strong emergence as you define it besides you?  All it does is muddy the waters.

As for biology, yes it is based on arbitrary definitions ... and this helps us out socially.

Exactly.  Something your downplaying of quantative differences fails to do.

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Posted: 23 January 2012 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]  
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srrr - 23 January 2012 11:05 AM
Michael Kean - 22 January 2012 03:39 PM

So starting with the last thing you said first, I now understand clearly that you think PC has always been there.  Wow! Something from nothing!  BTW I never said or even semantically suggested that the physical or panprotostuff has always been there.  The concept of anything always being there is totally contrary to the idea and philosophy of an emergent universe.

I thought you accepted weak emergence? Weak emergence implies that something exists, and that that something has quantitative differences over time.

Weak emergence does not assume that something exists without emerging from something else before it.  In a classical sense this would lead to an infinite regress.  But in a QM sense this is not necessarily so.  Here we have particle-antiparticle pairs & uncertainty, etc.  So weak emergence does not support any kind of creationism or something from nothing in the classical sense.

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Posted: 23 January 2012 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]  
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srrr - 23 January 2012 11:17 AM

Thats why its weak emergence: it doesnt say anything vanished or popped into existence, because that would be magical strong emergence.

No - weak emergence would still hold in a QM world where particle-antiparticle pairs have fleeting existence and even separate at the edge of a black hole (leading to Hawking radiation).  None of this would be magical - just strange according to outmoded philosophies.

Weak emergence implies that consciousness exists and that at any moment in time, there is always some quantity of it. If there werent some quantity of it, you would need strong emergence to explain why some quantity of it exists now. Weak emergence is only ever about quantitative differences. The idea that now a quantity of C exists (in brains) and that in the past it didn’t, is the opposite of weak emergence.

  All rubbish!  Weak emergence implies the very opposite!  That PC emerged; that it didn’t always exist as is!!!  This is like saying a house always exited because it is made of bricks. Houses ‘emerge’ from bricks and not vice versa. In this sense if bricks are considered fundamental at one level, weak emergence says there is still a lower level you haven’t considered yet.  This is true all the way down to the nothingness between protons Krauss talked about (i.e. after you have accounted for all the forces or interactions or ‘mediating particles’ between the real particles).  At this level there is only quantum uncertainty and instability, which I think is the same thing as Reg Cahill’s quantum foam.  But there’s nothing to assure us that the “virtual” quantum foam is finally fundamental or foundational “data” (i.e. without order or information) either.  But “on average” it could be.  Either way, weak emergence can’t be violated (wthout magic, that is).  Now where did all those damned antiparticles go… smile

[ Edited: 23 January 2012 05:09 PM by Michael Kean]
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Posted: 23 January 2012 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]  
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Michael Kean - 23 January 2012 02:04 PM

e.g. that everything is made of fundamental constituents (at different levels)

The physical world isn’t divided into ‘levels’ or ‘layers’ such as particles -> atoms -> molecules -> cells -> living things and so on. The higher levels are just abstractions that exist in our minds.

Physically, all there is are basic ingredients, in terms of which every supposed ‘high-level’ phenomenon can be completely and accurately described.

Look at this picture:
http://216.237.157.40/ionetics/silkywater/Images/watermole.gif
This is a water molecule. People often think that molecules have some kind of higher-level existence, i. e. that there is a realm where the fundamental particles reside and a realm where the molecules reside, but as the picture shows, a molecule is merely many fundamental particles with space between them. The fundamental level is all there is.

Higher-level terms such as ‘molecule’ for fundamental particles are comparable to the term ‘team’ for eleven football players, in that they subsume many entities under a single term. This is quite helpful, since it makes our social conversations shorter (instead of ‘particle A at position X and particle B at position Y and particle C at position Z etc.’ respectively ‘Casillas and Xavi and Villa and Torres etc.’, we can simply say ‘molecule A’ or ‘the Spanish team’), but we shouldn’t forget that these terms are abstractions. They aren’t physical entities that actually exist in some higher realm.

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Posted: 23 January 2012 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]  
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rammaq - 23 January 2012 04:39 PM

The fundamental level is all there is.

  One question for you rammaq: Did the fundamental level strongly emerge?

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Posted: 23 January 2012 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]  
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I think that whatever the fundamental level really is, it did always exist. So no strong emergence.

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Posted: 23 January 2012 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]  
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rammaq - 23 January 2012 05:51 PM

I think that whatever the fundamental level really is, it did always exist. So no strong emergence.

Ok - so no strong emergence or weak emergence either, just “freeze frame” magic!  Good luck with that trick, rammaq.  Or if not magic then god-like mystery and dogma backed by absolutely nothing you can point to in reality!  Do you know something the rest of us don’t?  Has some god given you a special revelation?  Unless of course you want to go along with a “quantum foam” idea, in which case I would suggest to you that no one else is sure of what might lie within the quantum foam as yet, so why not keep your options open like myself and many others in the meantime?  Dark matter / dark energy / Cahill’s quantum gravity and rejection of Einstein’s theory ... Are you sure you want to commit to an “always existed” position already?  One thing we know is that everything else after your hypothesised fundamental level weakly emerged.  So I’d stick with weak emergence until proven otherwise.  And if there is no fundamental level then of what use are your diagrams?  They don’t explain anything!  And for the same reason, neither does srrr’s idea of “primordial consciousness” or panpsychism or Platonic idealism.


So you’re left with three choices - strong emergence’s magic, “it always existed” dogma or weak emergence’s reality.  Think again…

[ Edited: 23 January 2012 06:53 PM by Michael Kean]
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