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Panpsychism
Posted: 06 February 2008 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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This is about the longest drum roll on the forum.

Is anything going to come out of the cannon?

Bring forth thy stone tablets that we may level our patios with quantum precision and heaping stacks of adjectives.

I thought (pardon the pun) you were going to be about mental stuff.

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Posted: 06 February 2008 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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Nhoj Morley - 31 January 2008 11:34 AM
PantheistAnonymous - 15 January 2008 05:30 PM

What is quantum mysticism?

Quantum-Ready Mysticism is just like Digital-Ready Speakers.

It is odd how the word quantum is sexy but kumquat is not.

quantum mysticism is pre-critical. It can not be criticized in the here and now.

It can, if you do it slowly and carefully, taking all due precautions.

Salt Creek - 05 February 2008 04:20 PM
AtheEisegete - 05 February 2008 03:46 PM

I shall reveal the truth slowly, carefully, and taking all due precautions.

AE, if he hasn’t already, really needs to read Sokal’s “Transgressing The Boundaries: Towards A Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”.

AtheEisegete - 05 February 2008 06:16 PM

I did - wonderful - I know what you’re thinking!
I spoof not. I just got fed up with being dull.

Alan Sokal is one such painstaking and careful critic. Or as Kristin Scott Thomas’s character said to one of the other guests at one of the innumerable weddings and/or funerals, “Why be dull?”

Actually, I think “kumquat” is a much sexier word than “quantum”. Bleep bleepity bleep.

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Posted: 06 February 2008 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Nhoj Morley - 06 February 2008 12:27 PM

Bring forth thy stone tablets that we may level our patios with quantum precision and heaping stacks of adjectives.

OK. Start with young Ludwig Wittgenstein, who in his Tractatus said “I am my world” and “the world is the totality of facts, not of things.” Facts are what makes true propositions true, and consistent sets of truths define worlds. For Wittgenstein, there was one set of facts and one world, but that was a prequantum view.

More recently, Saul Kripke developed a logic of worlds that generalizes the view and fits serendipitously with quantum worlds as envisaged by Hugh Everett. Last summer, in fact (that is, in this world), David Deutsch and associates proved that probability theory works as intended with Everett’s views, so all this is now decent science.

It goes like this (drum roll). Quantum reality is a “blooming, buzzing confusion,” to quote William James. The logic enters with worlds, seen as consistent sets of facts. In the new view, these emerge from the confusion and separate gradually (at the quantum level) from their neighbors. To use words due to Roger Penrose, I shall call the prefactual confusion the omnium and call quantum entanglement quanglement.

As we cruise through time, we quangle with the omnium to create ever more facts (sounds political, I know, but this is basic ontology now). New conformations of reality come into being, and as time passes come into existence (conceived as being with a past timestamp). In general, our subjective worlds (which are as objective as anything in the omnium) grow bigger, or perhaps go through successive phases or stages or determinations. Think of either one bubble growing bigger or a series of bubble stages, each more or less encompassing its predecessors. These are mindworlds.

A mindworld is centered on a subject. Or rather, a mindworld is the momentary embodiment or extension or realization of a subject. A subject is reflected one-to-one (equal and opposite) in such an objective configuration, such a constellation of facts, such a quangled constellation of the omnium.

Worlds emerge just as a timeline emerges in the omnium. By an amazing (to me) stroke of luck, some physicists recently realized that you could formulate quantum mechanics in a time-free system, by reconstructing time as an emergent property of a suitable series of such nested mindworlds (they didn’t use my word, of course, since I am still a prophet in the wilderness so far as tenured academics are concerned). This is important because it gives us room to unite quantum theory and gravitation (general relativity) in a single consistent framework - the holy grail of quantum gravity, the big TOE (theory of everything)!

So as time goes on, we quangle with more omnium and create more facts, thus blowing bigger bubbles of consistency, like rafts of sanity, in the phenomenal phantasmagoria. We emerge with our timeline and our world states. A world without a subject is a contradiction in terms. Scientists who imagine the universe before humans evolved are of course themselves the subjects, imagining an imaginary world that is intentionally (this is philosophical jargon for symbolically related, like word to thing) related to the imagined configuration of the omnium.

I am equal and opposite to my world. As worlds evolve, I evolve too, in a cosmic dance of quantum exquisitude. You and I, and others, the whole lot of us, inhabit similar worlds that to a rough approximation (if you squint enough) often look the same. So we can agree on quite a lot. Our worlds are in fairly thoroughgoing quanglement. Of course there is no perfect isomorphism there. But for some people, like lovers, there’s quite a lot. The mathematician Hardy once said that all mathematicians are isomorphic. Basically, he meant they agree pretty exactly about what counts as good math.

Now, since worlds are emergent and slightly fuzzy at the edges, so am I, so are we. We are limits of our worlds, to use another Wittgensteinian concept. Our worlds tend to define us, asymptotically, and we tend to exist, but in fact hover in a state of being (until we die, perhaps, when you could say we fall into existence as has-beens).

Essential to this concept is circularity. The universe coils back on itself through me to see itself, as Wigner, Feynman and other fine men have said. This I can model with a logic that owes a lot to Gödel and Hofstadter - Douglas Hofstadter, you may recall, wrote a big, slightly mad book about Gödel and last year a nice book called I Am a Strange Loop. A strange loop is a logical loop that involves a change of levels, so it looks paradoxical, like a Möbius strip with a twist to give it just one side.

My own modest contribution to all this was first to see how worlds of facts could be given a formal semantics that mapped into layers of the cumulative hierarchy of pure well-founded sets in such a way that the ordinal dimension looked like time and the transition from being to existence was reflected in the ontological transition from proper classes to sets, but let’s skip the pedantry for now. Second, it was to invent the concept of mindworlds and suggest a mapping to collective photon states in brainwaves (oops, sounds nutso!).

Better stop here for a reality check.

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Posted: 06 February 2008 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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AtheEisegete - 06 February 2008 04:10 PM

OK. Start with young Ludwig Wittgenstein, who in his Tractatus said “I am my world” and “the world is the totality of facts, not of things.”

That may be where he started when he was young, but I doubt if he’d have said such a thing by the time Wittgenstein was your age, AE.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 07 February 2008 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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homunculus - 06 February 2008 10:08 PM

That may be where he started when he was young, but I doubt if he’d have said such a thing by the time Wittgenstein was your age, AE.

Many brilliant young thinkers do their best work when young, and Wittgenstein was no exception. He never repudiated the Tractatus and suggested binding it together with the Philosophical Investigations to represent his life’s work. Consider Kripke’s more mature reflections on the solipsistic tendencies of the Tractatus and deduce that the message there is still interesting (in a Kabbalistic way, perhaps) even if an older man might say things differently.

As I see it, old Wittgenstein simply bracketed his earlier work, by contextualizing and relativizing the transgressive narrative behind the numbered propositions. No repudiation there, and none possible consistent with the cultural pluralism of the later fragments. Basically, Wittgenstein never reached that height of monomaniac passion again.

I understand his predicament. My own warp-speed flights into the mystic realms of set-theoretic metaphysics were the highest I ever soared. Since then I have had my hands full working out the consequences and finding new ways to evangelize for the vision. C’est la vie ...

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Posted: 08 February 2008 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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AtheEisegete - 07 February 2008 04:04 PM

Many brilliant young thinkers do their best work when young, and Wittgenstein was no exception.

Since Salt Creek hasn’t yet accused you of obscurantism, AG, I might as well further engage you as you seem willing to communicate with sub-180 IQ sorts. In my own case, far sub-180. I trust his judgment, or at least lack of an overt one in this case. And I do vaguely remember how amazingly my mental wherewithal once seemed able to work out questions like the present one. I do take consolation in the fact that at age 52, I can easily put things aside when they begin to strain against the surface of my inner cranium, a feat I was unable to accomplish at age 15. A case of acquired retardation, I suppose, but I’ve lived long enough to be able to appreciate what I now lack. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Wittgenstein had mentally revised what was to become the words of his Tractatus many times before they went to press. I’ve also heard that Einstein was a mere child when he decided that time was a more convenient variable than it was then assumed.

But let’s not forget Wittgenstein’s overriding life concern: that words tend not to apprehend anything with the thorough treatment commonly assumed. In another current thread on this forum, the argument seems to be resting on ideas/thoughts/insights/hallucinations being nothing resembling that which is assumed to consist of matter. The categories seem to me distinct enough not to share a describing word, such as “exist,” unless the words are taken as homonyms. Or would you argue that even that distinction is irrelevant or mistaken?

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 08 February 2008 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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homunculus - 08 February 2008 10:35 AM

In another current thread on this forum, the argument seems to be resting on ideas/thoughts/insights/hallucinations being nothing resembling that which is assumed to consist of matter. The categories seem to me distinct enough not to share a describing word, such as “exist,” unless the words are taken as homonyms. Or would you argue that even that distinction is irrelevant or mistaken?

Well, yes, because of panpsychism. In some ways, all of reality is like ideas, thoughts and so on. The quantum quacks, as I shall cheekily dub them, in What the Bleep overdid this line of thought, in my not remotely humble opinion, but I think it can be spelled out more soberly. Existence has a subjective side, a “qualia” side perhaps, and a more conventionally objective side, where thing that exist are rooted in the great externality. The subjective side of existents (note that “ts”) may be hard to discern (what are the qualia for the Big Bang for example?), but recall that everything that surfaces in any way in consciousness has ipso facto acquired a phenomenal side, albeit at some arbitrarily convoluted intentional remove from its origins.

I’m beginning to understand why all those famous philosophers get accused of using impenetrable jargon! My usage of the word phenomena and its cognates is in polite deference to Immanuel Kant, who contrasted the phenomenal world with the noumenal world, or in modern terms the world of appearances with the reality behind those appearances. Since in his view the phenomenal world included everything we could ever practically know, the noumenal world fell away as something of a shadow, as Hegel and others quickly pointed out. But the problem with letting noumena go completely is that you get left with a potentially self-serving idealism, as indeed Karl Marx in effect pointed out. Hard facts remain, and if they look economic then you get left with Marxism and its ideological consequences.

So, back to panpsychism. The omnium is an eternal chaos that first acquires temporal order and classical facticity (oops, sorry, that was a word from Heidegger) when we quangle with it via the sort of interactions that physicists tend to see as measurements. We choose what to study and bring that part of reality to sharp focus, while all around is the blooming buzzing confusion (words from William James) that I am calling the omnium (word from Roger Penrose).

It is our interaction with the omniatic flux that brings consistency and time into the picture. We make it make sense - or not - depending on how methodically we do what we do. We carve out a path in the blooming buzzing omnium. As a religious person might see it, a higher power guides our steps along the straight and narrow path and makes our timeline a good one.

Creating a consistent take on being and time is what all this is about - Being and Time was Heidegger’s big book. This is no coincidence. He got the question right. But we can all dispute the answer(s) unto eternity ...

My answer: psy(cho)phy(sics).

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Posted: 08 February 2008 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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homunculus - 08 February 2008 10:35 AM

Since Salt Creek hasn’t yet accused you of obscurantism, AG, I might as well further engage you as you seem willing to communicate with sub-180 IQ sorts. In my own case, far sub-180.

I wouldn’t let your IQ score bother you too much, hommy. All an IQ test does is measure ones ability to take IQ test. In fact Alfred Binet, the father of the IQ test, only designed his test to help find children who might be in need of special attention, and cautioned against using his test to rank pupils according to mental worth. Most IQ test are so broad in their scope that they really don’t reflect genuine learning, and timed test discriminate against more methodical thinkers.

I would suggest checking out Stephen J. Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man or Peter Sacks Standardized Minds to see two powerfull indictments of the veracity of IQ testing.

Or you could check out this brief online article about the history of IQ test.

I wish I had known this stuff before I wasted 30 bucks getting into Mensa. (Or that I had learned just how loopy many people in Mensa really are)

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Posted: 09 February 2008 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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Sorry, AG, but “panpsychism” sounds like magical thinking to my ear.

A tendency to Tie Things Together (TTT) is one of the most useful and chemical-inducing attributes humanity has, in my opinion. Not only does such an approach tend toward the poetic, but it can actually solve enormously intractable problems.

But thinkers such as Wittgenstein, Heisenberg and Schrödinger are perhaps the most over-interpreted philosophers in history. For instance, Schrödinger was not explaining details about how things work as much as he was explaining how absurd the world seems to be when viewed through a fine enough lens. Cats don’t live or die according to whether or not they’re being observed by human beings. His famous example is meant to portray an, at least temporarily, closed door on proposed theoretical underpinnings. He was not trying to tell the poets of the world to warm up their pencil sharpeners. The same goes for what Heisenberg famously announced. Wittgenstein, in my interpretation, was intensely interesting in quieting the dreaded TTT tendency, and did his best to take it down a notch or two.

Celsus, thanks for the encouraging words, and I appreciate what you’re getting at in the Quantum Enigma thread.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 09 February 2008 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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homunculus - 09 February 2008 09:23 AM

Sorry, AG, but “panpsychism” sounds like magical thinking to my ear.

A tendency to Tie Things Together (TTT) is one of the most useful and chemical-inducing attributes humanity has, in my opinion. Not only does such an approach tend toward the poetic, but it can actually solve enormously intractable problems.

But thinkers such as Wittgenstein, Heisenberg and Schrödinger are perhaps the most over-interpreted philosophers in history. For instance, Schrödinger was not explaining details about how things work as much as he was explaining how absurd the world seems to be when viewed through a fine enough lens.

Indeed, TTT is the origin of concepts and the origin of organized mind (as well as disorganized, but let that be for now).

Homunculus, you may be right about the big 20C Germans, and you are totally right about Schrödinger’s cat.

Panpsychism arises from this hard fact. Everything we see or know or become in any way acquainted with becomes something for us through our minds. In this sense, not only physics but life, the universe and everything are all psycho (logical or illogical).

Materialism must be right in this sense. The stuff of minds cannot be other than the stuff of things, or the possibility of causal interaction goes down the tubes. So all we mind is stuff with a psycho side or dimension or quality or xyz.

Panpsychism is in this sense trivially true. But its implications for a properly formulated psychophysics are probably nontrivial. What are the implications? Dunno. I’m not smart enough to see full glory. But I’m trying.

Magical thinking is something I never do. Yet TTT is almost that already. We can’t escape that easily. Nor can you.

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Posted: 09 February 2008 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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AtheEisegete - 08 February 2008 04:40 PM

I’m beginning to understand why all those famous philosophers get accused of using impenetrable jargon!

Really ?
You could have fooled me.

You seem to have a jolly old time throwing out words that seem to have no other purpose than to inflate your own ego.

If you would be so kind AE, why don’t you try to restate your idea once more and this time try to actually communicate with us instead of bragging about the size of your metaphysical penis.

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Posted: 09 February 2008 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Sander - 10 February 2008 12:35 AM

. . .
If you would be so kind AE, why don’t you try to restate your idea once more and this time try to actually communicate with us instead of bragging about the size of your metaphysical penis.

I see “poet” as an honorable profession, Sander. But I agree with you in the sense that I only rarely am able to understand the point of poems. In a global sense, as information accumulates, it becomes easier to appear erudite, which is the poet’s undoing.

On the other hand, anyone who’s willing and able to apply a Monk’s (yes, the upper-case M identifies me as a TV nut) dedication to formulating the written word with almost mathematical precision is worth much to me. Unfortunately. Now we’re back to Wittgenstein’s early work, which he at least somewhat repudiated.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 10 February 2008 12:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Sander - 10 February 2008 12:35 AM

You seem to have a jolly old time throwing out words that seem to have no other purpose than to inflate your own ego.

If you would be so kind AE, why don’t you try to restate your idea once more and this time try to actually communicate with us instead of bragging about the size of your metaphysical penis.

Well, indeed, I recall that Victorian parliamentarian Benjamin Disraeli said of his colleague William Gladstone that he was “intoxicated by the exuberance of his own verbosity”. However, I am sure that James Joyce would have reveled in the felicity of this rotundly Victorian phrase as a description of his own divinely inspired glossolalia.

As for my phallic endowment, sigh, all my diverse and manifold attentions to the world of words have had the result that it has diminished beyond any possibility of recall. The sad consequence is that my metaphysical dick, so to speak, is all I have, so don’t knock it - or I shall dub thee dickhead!

But your protest is well taken. An act of informative intercourse is only consummated when the relevant information has been transmitted, and the sign of this consummation is an acknowledgment by the recipient. I must persist until I receive an OK.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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homunculus - 10 February 2008 03:02 AM

Now we’re back to Wittgenstein’s early work, which he at least somewhat repudiated.

He did, but was that wise? The Tractatus was an attempt to catch in a metaphysical gem the worldview of Fregean logic. Fregean logic was the biggest extension of logic since Aristotle, and took us far beyond the possibilities of syllogistic reasoning and Boolean logic. Gottlob Frege‘s apparatus of quantification, with his functional notation, and its application in foundational studies to formalize the pioneering set theory of Georg Cantor, took us into the new realms charted by Russell and Whitehead in their fat trilogy, Principia Mathematica.

Wittgenstein followed all this keenly. He ws as impressed as they all were by the power and scope of the new vision. And rightly, too, in retrospect. For from it flowed Kurt Gödel‘s astonishing theorems, as the barrier to completion of David Hilbert‘s 1900 foundations program, and Alan Turing‘s theorem on the halting problem, and hence the whole wonderful world of computers.

The whole digital revolution had its revelatory origins in the formalized logic that found its visionary consummation in the oracular gem of the Tractatus. It was a big achievement.

Yet behind it lay the solipsistic self-aggrandisement of a smart rich boy from Vienna. Ludwig saw that he could never top it, never even defend it rationally against the armies of flatheads who complained pedanticaly about this or that trivial detail. Recall that the whole logical positivist movement found its inspiration in that crystaline vision. Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan had similar ideas. Think of all the controversy stirred up by all that.

No, Wittgenstein went soft and woolly. To support this I need only point to his writings on mathematics. There were glimmers of insight there, but the mathematicians I have discussed it with have poo-poo’d it, I think rightly.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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AtheEisegete - 10 February 2008 06:14 AM

. . . Wittgenstein went soft and woolly. . . .

. . . which resulted in much in today’s take on linguistics and cognitive psychology. My problem with you is that you lied to this forum about Wittgenstein and what he repudiated. You are not to be trusted.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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