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fracture


Mar 28, 2007, 11:59 PM
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Re: [jt512] Best Boulderer Ever [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
The universe is inherently quantitative. When elements burn they give off radiation at specific wavelengths. Gravity is proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance between objects. Light travels at a specific speed c.

None of that is under dispute.

In reply to:
In reply to:
The entire concept of an "object" is organism-relative.

What a load of philosophical bullshit. Do you deny that the moon exists?

No. And not bullshit; I think this is pretty much an unavoidable consequence of the theory of evolution.

In reply to:
But regardless, all those divisions actually exist, whether they are useful to any organism, or not.

They exist now. Lots of things exist now that didn't before complex organisms evolved. Consciousness, for example. This isn't as weird as it sounds.

In reply to:
So what? The world exists regardless of what any of us happens to be thinking about at any particular moment. When I look at a glass of water, I'm not thinking about the individual water molecules or the hydrogen bonds that between them, but so what, they're there.

Yeah. So what? ...

In reply to:
In reply to:
Things seem the way they seem because we evolved to think about them that way.

Ridiculous. Tell that to Hawking.

That's practically a tautology, Jay....


chainsaw


Mar 29, 2007, 8:57 AM
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Re: [fracture] Best Boulderer Ever [In reply to]
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I can't believe you guys are seriously continuing this discussion. Can't you get a room or something? TAKE IT TO ANOTHER RELEVANT THREAD! This thread is about the best boulderer ever, you guys have hijacked it in an effort to use the biggest words to sound the smartest in a pointless debate about nothing. Please go away, you won't be missed.


jt512


Mar 29, 2007, 11:47 AM
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fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
The universe is inherently quantitative. When elements burn they give off radiation at specific wavelengths. Gravity is proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance between objects. Light travels at a specific speed c.

None of that is under dispute.

In reply to:
In reply to:
The entire concept of an "object" is organism-relative.

What a load of philosophical bullshit. Do you deny that the moon exists?

No. And not bullshit; I think this is pretty much an unavoidable consequence of the theory of evolution.

In reply to:
But regardless, all those divisions actually exist, whether they are useful to any organism, or not.

They exist now. Lots of things exist now that didn't before complex organisms evolved. Consciousness, for example.

Sure, but not the wavelengths of the emissions from the combustion of strontium, the number of planets revolving around the sun, Planck's constant, and the speed of light. Your earlier point was that numbers are inherently metaphors; mine is that they are not. They are inherent to the Universe.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Mar 29, 2007, 2:07 PM)


chainsaw


Mar 29, 2007, 12:45 PM
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jt 512 + fracture = retards
FUCK OFF


SoloJoe


Mar 29, 2007, 6:18 PM
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Second that motion


diophantus


Mar 29, 2007, 7:13 PM
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fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
The universe is inherently quantitative. When elements burn they give off radiation at specific wavelengths. Gravity is proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance between objects. Light travels at a specific speed c.

None of that is under dispute.

Light can be slowed down in a super-atomic cloud to around 38 mph. Other methods allow light to be slowed while remaining in phase.


(This post was edited by diophantus on Mar 29, 2007, 7:25 PM)


jt512


Mar 29, 2007, 7:55 PM
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diophantus wrote:
fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
The universe is inherently quantitative. When elements burn they give off radiation at specific wavelengths. Gravity is proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance between objects. Light travels at a specific speed c.

None of that is under dispute.

Light can be slowed down in a super-atomic cloud to around 38 mph. Other methods allow light to be slowed while remaining in phase.

That's not even relevant to the irrelevant side topic.

Jay


diophantus


Mar 29, 2007, 9:35 PM
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jt512 wrote:
diophantus wrote:
fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
The universe is inherently quantitative. When elements burn they give off radiation at specific wavelengths. Gravity is proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance between objects. Light travels at a specific speed c.

None of that is under dispute.

Light can be slowed down in a super-atomic cloud to around 38 mph. Other methods allow light to be slowed while remaining in phase.

That's not even relevant to the irrelevant side topic.

Jay

Oh, sorry. Please continue.


fracture


Mar 30, 2007, 10:06 PM
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jt512 wrote:
fracture wrote:
In reply to:
But regardless, all those divisions actually exist, whether they are useful to any organism, or not.

They exist now. Lots of things exist now that didn't before complex organisms evolved. Consciousness, for example.

Sure, but not the wavelengths of the emissions from the combustion of strontium, the number of planets revolving around the sun, Planck's constant, and the speed of light.

I don't disagree. (I thought I already said that.)

... Let me see if I can lay this out as clearly as possible. (Also I'll mention that it'd really help if you employ the principle of charity: try to understand before trying to refute.)

When we look back at the history of the universe, including the history before our own existence, and describe it, we are doing so using the features of the brain that we've evolved to have. (Again: not a disputable point, or at least not by appeal to Hawking; you might try Michael Behe if you're desperate.)

What this means is that we can (and do) say there were eight planets in our solar system 3.5 billion years ago, and we mean the same thing we mean when we say there are eight planets in our solar system now. And there are (and were) eight planets in our solar system: it's a fact. However (and as a direct result of the theory of natural selection), what it means to say that---what it means for that to be a fact---is slightly different from what we have traditionally taken it to mean. It is a claim about reality, yes, but it is also a claim partially about a particular type of primate brain (which is, of course, now part of reality).

Division of the universe into separate "objects" can be done in any number of ways. Some ways are interesting to organisms like us, and some aren't. My position is not the same as saying objects don't exist (I'm neither an object- nor a number-eliminativist), but it is also false to say that objects are part of reality in a mind-independent way (whatever you want to call that). What I'm saying is that they are useful fictions---they are theoretical creations used by minds to reason about things more efficiently. They exist, just like numbers and colors, but you have to look at things the right way in order to see them.

Since there are so many ways to divide the universe into objects, prior to the evolution of minds either nothing could have been meaningfully "said" regarding the number of planets in our solar system, or pretty much anything could be said (based on the near-infinite number of possible object-division methods that could, however slim the chances, be used by some future organism with a mind); but as long as the same idea is meant, it doesn't really matter which way you want to describe it. (Your statement above that "all those divisions exist" could jive with the latter, if you want.) This issue isn't particularly important, except that it can be used to help in understanding what it means now for it to be true that "there are (and were) eight planets in our solar system". (And yes, I know it is also obvious that nothing could've actually been said, regardless of what could hypothetically "meaningfully" be said: no minds existed either to do the saying or to grok the meaning.)

More about color might help, since it is a lot less fundamental in our thinking than objects. Color-vision and color evolved at the same time (organisms became flashier as other organisms developed ways to detect that flashiness). It is inherently organism-relative, and it is much easier to explain why than it is with numbers or object-division or "folk psychology" stuff: different organisms have different types of cells in their retinas. For example, we have trichromatic vision-systems, while pigeons detect color using a tetra-chromatic system.

So does red exist? Well, yes. It exists in a way similar to centers of gravity or numbers. And when we think about red as if it were a property of a surface (or as a property of light), we are engaging in a form of metaphorical reasoning that uses fictional concepts to make its deductions. It isn't sensical to call it "false" reasoning, because the deductions are made in a (mostly) inference-preserving way---in this situation (a brain evolved by natural selection), the results are what matter, not the shortcuts used to compute them. So the "property of redness" does "exist" (there's no denying everyday sentences like "red exists" or "that ball is red"), but it exists metaphorically (as a useful fiction---an abstract way to think about something more complex).

In reply to:
Your earlier point was that numbers are inherently metaphors; mine is that they are not. They are inherent to the Universe.

What does that mean? (If you're saying numbers are extremely useful for describing the Universe, I agree.)


(This post was edited by fracture on Mar 30, 2007, 11:16 PM)


curt


Mar 30, 2007, 11:15 PM
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fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
fracture wrote:
In reply to:
But regardless, all those divisions actually exist, whether they are useful to any organism, or not.

They exist now. Lots of things exist now that didn't before complex organisms evolved. Consciousness, for example.

Sure, but not the wavelengths of the emissions from the combustion of strontium, the number of planets revolving around the sun, Planck's constant, and the speed of light.

I don't disagree. (I thought I already said that.)

... Let me see if I can lay this out as clearly as possible. (Also I'll mention that it'd really help if you employ the principle of charity: try to understand before trying to refute.)

When we look back at the history of the universe, including the history before our own existence, and describe it, we are doing so using the features of the brain that we've evolved to have. (Again: not a disputable point, or at least not by appeal to Hawking; you might try Michael Behe if you're desperate.)

What this means is that we can (and do) say there were eight planets in our solar system 3.5 billion years ago, and we mean the same thing we mean when we say there are eight planets in our solar system now. And there are (and were) eight planets in our solar system: it's a fact. However (and as a direct result of the theory of natural selection), what it means to say that---what it means for that to be a fact---is slightly different from what we have traditionally taken it to mean. It is a claim about reality, yes, but it is also a claim partially about a particular type of primate brain (which is, of course, now part of reality).

Division of the universe into separate "objects" can be done in any number of ways. Some ways are interesting to organisms like us, and some aren't. My position is not the same as saying objects don't exist (I'm neither an object- nor a number-eliminativist), but it is also false to say that objects are part of reality in a mind-independent way (whatever you want to call that). What I'm saying is that they are useful fictions---they are theoretical creations used by minds to reason about things more efficiently. They exist, just like numbers and colors, but you have to look at things the right way in order to see them.

Since there are so many ways to divide the universe into objects, prior to the evolution of minds either nothing could have been meaningfully "said" regarding the number of planets in our solar system, or pretty much anything could be said (based on the near-infinite number of possible object-division methods that could, however slim the chances, be used by some future organism with a mind); but as long as the same idea is meant, it doesn't really matter which way you want to describe it. (Your statement above that "all those divisions exist" could jive with the latter, if you want.) This issue isn't particularly important, except that it can be used to help in understanding what it means now for it to be true that "there are (and were) eight planets in our solar system". (And yes, I know it is also obvious that nothing could've actually been said, regardless of what could hypothetically "meaningfully" be said: no minds existed either to do the saying or to grok the meaning.)

More about color might help, since it is a lot less fundamental in our thinking than objects. Color-vision and color evolved at the same time (organisms became flashier as other organisms developed ways to detect that flashiness). It is inherently organism-relative, and it is much easier to explain why than it is with numbers or object-division or "folk psychology" stuff: different organisms have different types of cells in their retinas. For example, we have trichromatic vision-systems, while pigeons detect color using a tetra-chromatic system.

So does red exist? Well, yes. It exists in a way similar to centers of gravity or numbers. And when we think about red as if it were a property of a surface (or as a property of light), we are engaging in a form of metaphorical reasoning that uses fictional concepts to make its deductions. It isn't sensical to call it "false" reasoning, because the deductions are made in a (mostly) inference-preserving way---in this situation (a brain evolved by natural selection), the results are what matter, not the shortcuts used to compute them. So the "property of redness" does "exist" (there's no denying everyday sentences like "red exists" or "that ball is red"), but it exists metaphorically (as a useful fiction---an abstract way to think about something more complex).

In reply to:
Your earlier point was that numbers are inherently metaphors; mine is that they are not. They are inherent to the Universe.

What does that mean? (If you're saying numbers are extremely useful for describing the Universe, I agree.)

And, there we have it. To paraphrase Hawking: The Best Boulderer Ever, in a Nutshell."

Curt


nevenneve


Apr 1, 2007, 6:41 PM
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Dammit Curt, that's one hell of a plum you just plucked.


jt512


Apr 2, 2007, 10:34 AM
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fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
fracture wrote:
In reply to:
But regardless, all those divisions actually exist, whether they are useful to any organism, or not.

They exist now. Lots of things exist now that didn't before complex organisms evolved. Consciousness, for example.

Sure, but not the wavelengths of the emissions from the combustion of strontium, the number of planets revolving around the sun, Planck's constant, and the speed of light.

I don't disagree. (I thought I already said that.)

...

Division of the universe into separate "objects" can be done in any number of ways. Some ways are interesting to organisms like us, and some aren't. My position is not the same as saying objects don't exist (I'm neither an object- nor a number-eliminativist), but it is also false to say that objects are part of reality in a mind-independent way (whatever you want to call that). What I'm saying is that they are useful fictions---they are theoretical creations used by minds to reason about things more efficiently. They exist, just like numbers and colors, but you have to look at things the right way in order to see them.

I don't think there is anything organism-dependent, fictional, or theoretical about the existence of the planet Mars. It's there. We've landed things on it.

In reply to:
More about color might help, since it is a lot less fundamental in our thinking than objects. Color-vision and color evolved at the same time (organisms became flashier as other organisms developed ways to detect that flashiness). It is inherently organism-relative...

I can agree that color is inherently organism-dependent. The cup of coffee I'm drinking, however, is not.

In reply to:
And when we think about red as if it were a property of a surface (or as a property of light), we are engaging in a form of metaphorical reasoning that uses fictional concepts to make its deductions.

Again, I disagree. There is nothing metaphorical or fictional about the color of an object, even if we agree that not all organisms perceive the object as red.

In reply to:
In reply to:
Your earlier point was that numbers are inherently metaphors; mine is that they are not. They are inherent to the Universe.

What does that mean? (If you're saying numbers are extremely useful for describing the Universe, I agree.)

I'm saying that the speed of light is c, that the hydrogen ion does have a line in its emission spectrum at a wavelength of 12,818 Angstroms. These are quantitative properties of the Universe.

What's he metaphor for the number e raised to the power i ?

Jay


diophantus


Apr 2, 2007, 11:07 AM
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jt512 wrote:
fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
fracture wrote:
In reply to:
But regardless, all those divisions actually exist, whether they are useful to any organism, or not.

They exist now. Lots of things exist now that didn't before complex organisms evolved. Consciousness, for example.

Sure, but not the wavelengths of the emissions from the combustion of strontium, the number of planets revolving around the sun, Planck's constant, and the speed of light.

I don't disagree. (I thought I already said that.)

...

Division of the universe into separate "objects" can be done in any number of ways. Some ways are interesting to organisms like us, and some aren't. My position is not the same as saying objects don't exist (I'm neither an object- nor a number-eliminativist), but it is also false to say that objects are part of reality in a mind-independent way (whatever you want to call that). What I'm saying is that they are useful fictions---they are theoretical creations used by minds to reason about things more efficiently. They exist, just like numbers and colors, but you have to look at things the right way in order to see them.

I don't think there is anything organism-dependent, fictional, or theoretical about the existence of the planet Mars. It's there. We've landed things on it.

In reply to:
More about color might help, since it is a lot less fundamental in our thinking than objects. Color-vision and color evolved at the same time (organisms became flashier as other organisms developed ways to detect that flashiness). It is inherently organism-relative...

I can agree that color is inherently organism-dependent. The cup of coffee I'm drinking, however, is not.

In reply to:
And when we think about red as if it were a property of a surface (or as a property of light), we are engaging in a form of metaphorical reasoning that uses fictional concepts to make its deductions.

Again, I disagree. There is nothing metaphorical or fictional about the color of an object, even if we agree that not all organisms perceive the object as red.

In reply to:
In reply to:
Your earlier point was that numbers are inherently metaphors; mine is that they are not. They are inherent to the Universe.

What does that mean? (If you're saying numbers are extremely useful for describing the Universe, I agree.)

I'm saying that the speed of light is c, that the hydrogen ion does have a line in its emission spectrum at a wavelength of 12,818 Angstroms. These are quantitative properties of the Universe.

What's he metaphor for the number e raised to the power i ?

Jay

This reminds me of a joke. So this guy gets on a bus, and as the bus pulls away from the stop he starts running up and down the isle screaming "I'll integrate you! I'll differentiate you!" at all the passengers. Needless to say everyone was terrified, and naturally everyone pulled the cord and jumped off at the next stop, including the driver, except for one man on the back of the bus. The crazy man ran to the back and yelled at the guy "Aren't you scared? I'll integrate you! I'll differentiate you!" The passenger looked at the crazy man and said "No. I'm e^x (e to the power of x)." Hahahahahahahaha


fracture


Apr 2, 2007, 10:35 PM
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jt512 wrote:
fracture wrote:
More about color might help, since it is a lot less fundamental in our thinking than objects. Color-vision and color evolved at the same time (organisms became flashier as other organisms developed ways to detect that flashiness). It is inherently organism-relative...

I can agree that color is inherently organism-dependent. The cup of coffee I'm drinking, however, is not.

If I take your words at face value, I'd be remiss if I didn't retort that the cup of coffee you're drinking is actually part of the (extended) human phenotype. Claiming it is organism-independent would be like claiming your pinkie-finger is organism-independent.

However, maybe you mean something a little different. If what you're saying is that the matter currently serving to function as that particular cup of coffee, whatever it happens to be, and regardless of how it got there, exists in an organism-independent sense, then I agree 100%. But the fact that it is currently being a "cup of coffee" (which is a verifiable fact; "objective" in any important sense) is a fact which is intrinsically tied to a class of observers (us). I'm sure you'll agree that the notion of a "cup of coffee" is organism-dependent.

In reply to:
In reply to:
And when we think about red as if it were a property of a surface (or as a property of light), we are engaging in a form of metaphorical reasoning that uses fictional concepts to make its deductions.

Again, I disagree. There is nothing metaphorical or fictional about the color of an object, even if we agree that not all organisms perceive the object as red.

I can't tell what you're saying here. (But maybe it's because you apparently didn't say anything, except that you think I'm wrong.)

Maybe you can make your position clearer by answering some questions:

Prior to the evolution of color-vision systems, did the "color of an object" exist? If, in 2050, every human who is not red-green color-blind is mass-murdered in the weirdest genocide ever, would red and green still exist as independent "colors of objects"? What if (a few centuries later) every organism with eyes is mercilessly slaughtered (by a new race of super-intelligent, eyeless machines)? What if eyes had never evolved?

And what other color-like properties do we need admit the existence of? Suppose that one day, organisms will evolve another sense organ, which can detect the folor of something: do folors-of-objects exist today, despite the lack of an observer, or do we have to wait?

In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
Your earlier point was that numbers are inherently metaphors; mine is that they are not. They are inherent to the Universe.

What does that mean? (If you're saying numbers are extremely useful for describing the Universe, I agree.)

I'm saying that the speed of light is c, that the hydrogen ion does have a line in its emission spectrum at a wavelength of 12,818 Angstroms. These are quantitative properties of the Universe.

I don't disagree with either of those statements (unless there's something special hidden in the italics). If that's really all you mean by saying numbers are "inherent to the universe" (and I'd be surprised if it is), then I agree, and I'll reply: numbers are metaphorical and "inherent to the universe", the latter point having no relation to the former.

In reply to:
What's he metaphor for the number e raised to the power i ?

Not "the".

In the particular (scientific, falsifiable) theory I was mentioning earlier, there's a couple dozen conceptual metaphors and metaphorical blends involved. I can't really just sum it up here; if you're interested, you might check out the book Where Mathematics Comes From by Lakoff and Nuņez. (It ends with a "case study" of e^(pi * i) + 1, which I think also should address your question.)

That theory may or may not turn out correct. But if it turns out false, I think something similar (with an evolutionary basis to the ontology of numbers) will need to take it's place. We simply can't scientifically explain mathematics (a behavior of an evolved organism) by starting with the assumption that there are timeless, massless, positionless, and by-definition unobservable entities "out there". That is not scientific: a Platonic ontology for math has about as much empirical "street cred" (to me) as belief in an anthropomorphic God.


(This post was edited by fracture on Apr 2, 2007, 11:20 PM)


jt512


Apr 3, 2007, 1:26 PM
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fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
fracture wrote:
More about color might help, since it is a lot less fundamental in our thinking than objects. Color-vision and color evolved at the same time (organisms became flashier as other organisms developed ways to detect that flashiness). It is inherently organism-relative...

I can agree that color is inherently organism-dependent. The cup of coffee I'm drinking, however, is not.

If I take your words at face value, I'd be remiss if I didn't retort that the cup of coffee you're drinking is actually part of the (extended) human phenotype. Claiming it is organism-independent would be like claiming your pinkie-finger is organism-independent.

However, maybe you mean something a little different. If what you're saying is that the matter currently serving to function as that particular cup of coffee, whatever it happens to be, and regardless of how it got there, exists in an organism-independent sense, then I agree 100%. But the fact that it is currently being a "cup of coffee" (which is a verifiable fact; "objective" in any important sense) is a fact which is intrinsically tied to a class of observers (us). I'm sure you'll agree that the notion of a "cup of coffee" is organism-dependent.

Well, the cup and the coffee in it were made by an organism. But once they are made, they have an objective physical existence. Their function, though, is clearly organism-dependent.

In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
And when we think about red as if it were a property of a surface (or as a property of light), we are engaging in a form of metaphorical reasoning that uses fictional concepts to make its deductions.

Again, I disagree. There is nothing metaphorical or fictional about the color of an object, even if we agree that not all organisms perceive the object as red.

I can't tell what you're saying here. (But maybe it's because you apparently didn't say anything, except that you think I'm wrong.)

Maybe you can make your position clearer by answering some questions:

Prior to the evolution of color-vision systems, did the "color of an object" exist? If, in 2050, every human who is not red-green color-blind is mass-murdered in the weirdest genocide ever, would red and green still exist as independent "colors of objects"? What if (a few centuries later) every organism with eyes is mercilessly slaughtered (by a new race of super-intelligent, eyeless machines)? What if eyes had never evolved?

I'd say that the simple answer to the questions is "no," but the simpler argument that color is organism dependent is simply that there are organisms that perceive the color differently, or not at all.

In reply to:
And what other color-like properties do we need admit the existence of? Suppose that one day, organisms will evolve another sense organ, which can detect the folor of something: do folors-of-objects exist today, despite the lack of an observer, or do we have to wait?

I'd say that it doesn't exist.

In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
Your earlier point was that numbers are inherently metaphors; mine is that they are not. They are inherent to the Universe.

What does that mean? (If you're saying numbers are extremely useful for describing the Universe, I agree.)

I'm saying that the speed of light is c, that the hydrogen ion does have a line in its emission spectrum at a wavelength of 12,818 Angstroms. These are quantitative properties of the Universe.

I don't disagree with either of those statements (unless there's something special hidden in the italics). If that's really all you mean by saying numbers are "inherent to the universe" (and I'd be surprised if it is), then I agree.

No, I'm not trying to trap you. That's all I'm saying.

In reply to:
...and I'll reply: numbers are metaphorical and "inherent to the universe", the latter point having no relation to the former.

I don't understand that statement.

In reply to:
In reply to:
What's he metaphor for the number e raised to the power i ?

Not "the".

In the particular (scientific, falsifiable) theory I was mentioning earlier, there's a couple dozen conceptual metaphors and metaphorical blends involved. I can't really just sum it up here; if you're interested, you might check out the book Where Mathematics Comes From by Lakoff and Nuņez. (It ends with a "case study" of e^(pi * i) + 1, which I think also should address your question.)

That's funny because (1) I ordered that book a couple days ago, and (2) it addresses for all intents and purposes the very question I asked (e^i).

From what I gather, most mathematicians think Lakoff is nuts, although mathematics educators think his work has more merit. I've also read bits of Lakoff's earlier book (from '79 I think, and I don't recall the title), and I thought that his theory was on pretty shaky ground. His "time is money" metaphor seemed especially off the mark. Furthermore, it was difficult to deduce what his methodology was. Bad science (uncontrolled observations) combined with philosophy was my best guess. I think the authors did generate some interesting, testable hypotheses, and apparently some recent results from neuro-something-or-other are consistent their hypotheses.

Jay


shadowgnu


Apr 3, 2007, 1:56 PM
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Sure. Light moves at speed c.... but I move at speed v. As great as it sounds... c isn't constant just like v isn't constant. That is all.


fracture


Apr 3, 2007, 6:59 PM
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jt512 wrote:
Well, the cup and the coffee in it were made by an organism. But once they are made, they have an objective physical existence. Their function, though, is clearly organism-dependent.

I can swallow that wording. I think the only potential place we're disagreeing (and maybe we aren't) is that I want to stress that their function (and meaning) is an instrinic part of defining what they are. The physical matter involved is not all that makes the cup of coffee a cup of coffee. It is what it is partially because of what it means to a type of organism. If we replaced an arbitrary molecule in the liquid with an identical one (or even a different one), or poured a few more drops into it from the pot, we probably wouldn't be inclined say it was a different cup of coffee. If we smashed it with a hammer, then melted and distributed the shards to the corners of the earth, your "cup of coffee" would no longer exist, despite the fact that all the involved matter still does.

Really what I've been trying to argue for (probably much less clearly than I could) is something along the lines of saying that matter behaving in particular functional states can actually create new entities that have a sort of existence. The fact that some entities cannot be said to exist in the same way as the smallest physical particles doesn't mean they cannot be said to exist at all---it's just a separate species of existence (to put it in a Rylean way, I guess).

Another good example case is the question of the existence of genes: at some point in our evolutionary history, there was certainly nothing we really ought call "genes", just a bunch of replicators of some sort (they could even have been made out of mud puddles, supposedly). Over a gradual transition, however, it becomes more useful (in terms of the explanatory power we get out of it) to invent the abstract (and perhaps metaphorical) entity of the "gene", based on the meaning (from our viewpoint) of a particular type of molecule (DNA).

All that "exists", from one perspective is DNA molecules, proteins, mRNA, etc. There's no "genes" in that picture. But, that may not be a very useful picture in terms of predictive power (depending what you want to predict). For example, from this level in the "physical stance" (as Dennett calls it---where nothing but the entities of whatever physical theory can be said to exist; que annak: "it's all physics, man"), only a sort of Laplacean demon (a creature or computer existing outside of the universe, with exact knowledge about the universe, unlimited resources of time and space for its computation, and probably capable of solving the halting problem) could make accurate predictions about human behavior. In contrast, humans can perform the same trick extremely rapidly---seemingly magically---with finite constraints on time and space for computation. We do it (probably using evolved hardware) using a bunch of lossy concepts (in this case, beliefs, ideas, dispositions, personality traits, selves) that allow us to mostly get the same results much quicker by ignoring a lot of (usually) irrelevant details.

Since they improve predictive power, there is justification for allowing these sorts of entities in various scientific theories, despite the fact that we also should recognize that they don't exist from other descriptive stances. So it's not scientifically irresponsible to talk and theorize about beliefs, genes, or numbers, but it is scientifically irresponsible to take these reasoning tools too literally, and pretend that beliefs objectively exist in a separate "mind"-universe, or that numbers or genes are some sort of eternal Platonic forms.

I don't know if that is any clearer than it was before, but it was worth another go. :)

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In reply to:
Maybe you can make your position clearer by answering some questions:

[..]

I'd say that the simple answer to the questions is "no," but the simpler argument that color is organism dependent is simply that there are organisms that perceive the color differently, or not at all.

Sounds like we can agree then.

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In reply to:
...and I'll reply: numbers are metaphorical and "inherent to the universe", the latter point having no relation to the former.

I don't understand that statement.

It sounded like you were saying that numbers cannot be both "inherent to the universe" and metaphorical. But if you mean what you say you mean by the former, I don't think that is the case.

Personally, I'd rather say numbers and mathematics are extremely useful for describing the universe, rather than "inherent" to it, if I wanted to get across that notion. And in particular, I don't think we should find that fact all too surprising, since many mathematical advancements (though certainly not all) were driven by "real world" needs (e.g., game theory, floating-point arithmetic, the theory of computation, calculus, error-correcting codes, etc).

In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
What's he metaphor for the number e raised to the power
i ?

Not "the".

In the particular (scientific, falsifiable) theory I was mentioning earlier, there's a couple dozen conceptual metaphors and metaphorical blends involved. I can't really just sum it up here; if you're interested, you might check out the book Where Mathematics Comes From by Lakoff and Nuņez. (It ends with a "case study" of e^(pi * i) + 1, which I think also should address your question.)

That's funny because (1) I ordered that book a couple days ago, and (2) it addresses for all intents and purposes the very question I asked (e^i).

From what I gather, most mathematicians think Lakoff is nuts, although mathematics educators think his work has more merit.

It would be very easy to misinterpret that book as simply being a sloppy presentation of math, rather than something about math that isn't math itself. In the couple reviews (IIRC, two) I read by people from a math background, this very much seemed to be a problem. One (IIRC, mostly favorable) reviewer even thought "conceputal metaphor" was just a imprecise way to say "isomorphism"! (And the authors are probably largely at fault, btw; see below.)

Also funny is some accusations of Relativism or Postmodernism. Although the authors, for unknown reasons, do seem to give those far more respect when handling than they really deserve, they also spend time to explicitly argue that their philosophical views do not fit in with that sort of position.

In reply to:
I've also read bits of Lakoff's earlier book (from '79 I think, and I don't recall the title), and I thought that his theory was on pretty shaky ground. His "time is money" metaphor seemed especially off the mark. Furthermore, it was difficult to deduce what his methodology was. Bad science (uncontrolled observations) combined with philosophy was my best guess. I think the authors did generate some interesting, testable hypotheses, and apparently some recent results from neuro-something-or-other are consistent their hypotheses.

Well, since you've ordered a copy, I might as well give you my unabriged thoughts on it (not that you can stop me, heh):

I certainly don't agree with everything in WMCF. (You'll see some nonsense-claims in the first chapter about strong AI and Functionalism, without any support; and see below.) I think the writing is mediocre to bad (and overly repetitious), and I think they are not always sufficiently clear about which parts of the theory enjoy empirical support (and to what degree), and which parts are speculation that still lacks any testing. (The vast majority of the book is the latter.) Also, I don't think it explains/defines some of the theoretical entities (like "conceptual metaphor") well enough.

Sounds like you probably read some of Metaphors We Live By? My understanding is that back when that was written, the theory relied almost exclusively on linguistic evidence (which would be compatible with a purely-linguistic phenomenon, which is not the interpretation they want). I don't know anything about it, but supposedly there is more evidence now (including from non-linguistic sources); I don't know how good or bad it is (if you look into it, please let me know what you think). It is clear, in any regard, that they intend the theory to be tested, and not to be accepted on a priori philosophical grounds. In fact, they see cognitive science as being historically burdened with too much of the latter (which is maybe true, but also understandable).

I also disagree with many of their statements about the impact of their theory. They frame it as potentially overturning much of traditional western philosophy, which is maybe true, but only if you mainly restrict that and ignore a lot of stuff from the past 60-100 years (which is mostly when it gets worth paying attention to, anyway). Contrary to their claims, many important ideas really seem to remain intact or be only slightly modified. It also seems to me that Lakoff and Johnson's "multi-level" ontology and the idea of Embodied Realism (from Philosophy in the Flesh) is right in-line with Dennett's Intentional Stance (above), and accordingly, with some sort of functionalism (and thus strong AI).

Speaking of which, I also don't like that Lakoff and Johnson and Nuņez dismiss AI research that operates at a level which ignores the brain (though this obviously stems from their rejection of functionalism). Yes, it's true that you cannot completely ignore the brain, but I don't think anyone really thinks you can anymore. It feels like they are attacking a straw man, and devaluing very useful work and real progress that has been made (including before we even had toys like MRI and PET to play with). Not to mention that models of non-human forms of cognition are certainly worthwhile in their own regard; there's no good reason that an intelligent machine would need to think in precisely the same way we do. (Especially if your goals in creating intelligent machines are pragmatic and not philosophical.)

(And as a total aside, I don't really see how you can accept the theory of evolution without accepting strong AI. If the "survival machines" built by small, unthinking molecules can think, how can we believe that other machines built by those thinking survival machines couldn't in principle also think? What new data could we even find that would conclusively discount this as a possibility in principle?)

Getting back to WMCF: despite those complaints, there is a good and very interesting idea there. And as I was saying, I think something like this (when it comes to numbers and mathematics) is very likely true. We will eventually discover how the evolved features of our brains manage to create various types of abstract entities, and it will very likely not jive with the viewpoints in earlier (pre-Darwinian) thinking on the topic. I think it is pretty safe to say that like Consciousness, Meaning (which is necessary for some of these types of existence) has not always been part of the universe: accordingly any scientific theory involving (or explaining) either is going to need to have some concept of how they plausibly could have shown up.


(This post was edited by fracture on Apr 13, 2007, 2:16 PM)


fracture


Apr 3, 2007, 7:10 PM
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shadowgnu wrote:
Sure. Light moves at speed c.... but I move at speed v. As great as it sounds... c isn't constant just like v isn't constant. That is all.

Is this supposed to be a poem?


yanqui


Apr 13, 2007, 9:30 AM
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So what was the outcome? I think this thread needs some summing up, and as far as I can tell there are at least several options, not necessarily logically exclusive:

1) We should develop two somewhat distinct and not very translatable grading systems:

a) one that emphasizes the difficulty involved in short, intense sequences a few moves long (e.g. a "V" scale), which applies to short boulder problems and/or to short crux sections (e.g. "the hardest moves") on longer sections of climbing

and ...

b) another system emphasizing the overall difficulty of longer sections of continuous climbing (e.g. a "Yoesemite decimal" scale) used for an entire roped pitch as well as longer (e.g. more than 10 meters or so) endurance style boulder problems.

2) The Yoesimite decimal grade and the V grade should be directly translatable one to the other and mean the same thing.

3) There's nothing normative about it, but as individuals we can empirically observe our existing grading systems. Here we might argue that Option 1, or Option 2, is the empirical truth about said grading systems instead of arguing about how said grading sytems SHOULD evolve.

4) Option 1 and/or Option 2 can be ruled out using pure logic.

5) Any grading system for difficulty poseses an element of the absurd (i.e. "sucks") because "difficulty" in climbing will always involve a complex array of inherently subjective aspects, which depend on individual factors like height, reach, weight, vision, endurance, strength, flexibilty, and any number of more subtle individual distinctions which can effect our percetion of difficulty. Also the climbs themselves present aspects which makes comparing them like comparing apples with oranges (e.g. comparing difficulty by comparing the hardest moves or even the hardest pitch of an alpine-style ascent of a route on Cerro Torre with the difficulty of a 4 move sit-start boulder or a 60' sport route).

6) Holloway is bouldering's Bob Beamon (cool reference, Curt).

7) Math jokes are NOT funny.


jt512


Apr 13, 2007, 9:45 AM
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Re: [yanqui] Best Boulderer Ever [In reply to]
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yanqui wrote:
7) Math jokes are NOT funny.

That's a testable hypothesis.

Try this one:

Q. What do you get when you cross a mosquito and a rock climber?

A. Nothing. You can't cross a vector and scaler.

Jay


stevej


Apr 13, 2007, 9:48 AM
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Did you just make that up on the spot or that part of your repertoire? Either way, i laughed, so you win the math joke argument.


jt512


Apr 13, 2007, 9:55 AM
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stevej wrote:
Did you just make that up on the spot or that part of your repertoire? Either way, i laughed, so you win the math joke argument.

Just make it up? Hell no. I've been hanging around this website for 6 years waiting for the chance to work that joke into a thread.

Jay


jt512


Apr 13, 2007, 10:00 AM
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stevej wrote:
Did you just make that up on the spot or that part of your repertoire? Either way, i laughed, so you win the math joke argument.

Just make it up? Hell no. I've been hanging around this website for 6 years waiting for the chance to work that joke into a thread.

So here's a mean joke: This Gaussian distribution walks up to this cute Cauchy distribution at a bar, and asks, "Hey, got a moment?"

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Apr 13, 2007, 10:01 AM)


fracture


Apr 23, 2007, 6:53 PM
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fracture wrote:
jt512 wrote:
I don't know dude: COG, the balance point of an object, seems pretty "organism-independent." Every object has a balance point.

The entire concept of an "object" is organism-relative. Organisms with complex nervous systems often model their environment by dividing it into "objects" (sometimes in multiple ways) because it is useful to do so; what granularity of this division is maximally useful is going to depend on the details of the organism (it's size, method of locomotion, primary sense-organs, what it eats, what eats it, and any number of other details).

Not to beat a dead horse, but here's a Dawkins talk that pretty much explains what I was getting at. The relevant stuff mostly starts at about 4:50 (and goes on for quite a bit).


(This post was edited by fracture on Apr 23, 2007, 7:02 PM)


sinrtb


May 9, 2007, 12:33 PM
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fracture wrote:
Prior to the evolution of color-vision systems, did the "color of an object" exist? If, in 2050, every human who is not red-green color-blind is mass-murdered in the weirdest genocide ever, would red and green still exist as independent "colors of objects"? What if (a few centuries later) every organism with eyes is mercilessly slaughtered (by a new race of super-intelligent, eyeless machines)? What if eyes had never evolved?

And what other color-like properties do we need admit the existence of? Suppose that one day, organisms will evolve another sense organ, which can detect the folor of something: do folors-of-objects exist today, despite the lack of an observer, or do we have to wait?
I somehow popped into a metaphysical bouldering thread... This is a Zen question "if a tree falls in a forest and if no one is there to see it did it make a sound?" The color red exists if our reality exists. The wavelength of light that makes the color exists regardless of perception. (My food is cooked in the microwave regardless of if i can sense the microwaves or not).

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