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Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics & Consciousness Message Board › The methodology of physics and the (other) natural sciences

The methodology of physics and the (other) natural sciences

A former member
Post #: 133
Dear Camilla,

I may have figured out where we actually differ.

You keep saying things like this:

Strong Emergent features ... arise ONLY in consideration of the solution of some equations of states' being unpredictable perhaps insoluble/unsolvable, due to ill-defined start conditions.

And I keep replying:

No. Equations are not insoluble by virtue of ill defined start conditions, it is a characteristic of the equations themselves, an issue of principle. I think that makes formal unpredictablity an ontological attribute, not epistemic.

And I do not think you have ever responded to this point. I'm sure you have read it, but have you registered it?

The definition of unpredictablity is bound up with the behaviour on non-analytic systems, which in turn are defined as systems whose equations of state permit to no analytic mathematical solution.

I cannot emphasize this too highly. Unpredictablity in no way depends on any errors in or badly defined start conditions.

Until you accept this, or can explain to me why it is not true, we cannot proceed.


A former member
Post #: 117
Will: I very much like your six point description. Except that I'm not quite so keen on the use of 'a-conscious' event terminology, as it moves away from the otherwise admirable plain English and invokes the notion of consciousness. Science cannot be done without consciousness being involved. But do we need to say that or to invoke memories of the Copenhagen quantum interpretation? What's wrong with 'observable events'?

Paul: As I mentioned the other day, I reckon I could put up some arguments to the effect that the photon has no trajectory and does not pass through either of the two slits. There are several clues to this, the most obvious being that it is impossible to observe a photon in the course of its transit from A to B. That which cannot be observed (almost by definition in this case) cannot be said to exist(?). I might add that I joined this group because I have read up quite a bit on alternative interpretations of quantum physics, which is fascinating. I'm surprised this hasn't been discussed yet. Perhaps one day.

A former member
Post #: 134
Point taken Andrew, I've replaced "a-conscious" with "objective" in my original post #75 on page 1 of this thread.

A former member
Post #: 118
Oh yes, I see that back on page 1 you originated the 6 points, Peter. You mean 'observable' not 'objective' presumably?

I see also that I made a comment then about the description not doing justice to quantum physics. What lies behind that comment is the meaning or role of causality in quantum behaviours. I don't want to elaborate now but would do so if it matters in a future discussion.
lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 174

Well, Will was at least sticking to the admirably clear, disambiguating terminology of (science-friendly!) philosopher Ned Block. However, if we're all now finally agreed -- and l think (?) with Andrew's backing -- then we don't need to used Peter's neologism: reportable.

Subjectivity is of course precisely what distinguishes consciousness from everything else. (Everything else is reportable!)

Am l allowed henceforth -- preferably back on one of the other 2 dedicated threads -- to use just "consciousness" simpliciter? Or instead "phenomenal consciousness"? (ls the qualifier "phenomenal" now just a little bit redundant?) How about "secondary qualities" -- as opposed to the objectively specifiable, algebraically indispensable primary qualities? (l.e. the dimensions of physics and engineering calculations, which caused such recent dismay when l started deploying such an innocuous term!) If "secondary qualities sounds a bit 17th century and powdered-wiggish, then how about the more up-t-date phenomenal qualities, or indeed sensory qualities? (All of these latter denoting the sensed reds, sensed smells of fresh roast coffee, sensed toothaches, sensed Middle C's, and experienced desires to use a toliet in the immediate future, and whatnot.)

Or what about, simply, objective vs subjective?

What about reverting to one of the original 2 dedicated threads to continue discussing where we left off, now that we have an agreed language?

A former member
Post #: 135
Hi Andrew,

I was trying to get rid of "a-conscious", and "objective" seems to fill the bill.

"Observable" might be better, thanks.

lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 175

Re Andrew's response about the 2-slit experiment, it should perhaps be pointed out for the benefit of newcomers to the debate (or to QM in general) that a "particle" is a theoretical entity.

We have absolutely no evidence for their being "particles" at the sub-atomic level. What we do have is a highly localised quantum state. Hence my comments last week in connection with the the decpherence interpretation of QM. Seeing matters in (delocalised) quantum-state terms removes a lot of the perplexity, and the populist, sub-New-Scientist-type guff about "particles can be in 2 placesd at once." Wow! Gee-whiz!

Conversely, we do have an enormous amount both of observational and theoretical support for the production of interference patterns (i.e. patterns only generable by wave-like processes).

Emitted alpha particles, gamma rays and atomic nuclei are massive, and hence very short-wavelength according to the de Broglie relation [lambda] = h/mv. Decoherence simply localises quantum entanglements and distributes them over the entire bulk of the measuring instrument. the latter is mostly "self-entangled".

N.B. as earlier said the decoherence interpretation is a no-collapse interpretation. The notion "observation" does not necessarily entail the further notion "collapse of the wavefunction". That was of course von Neumann's viewpoint, and he was pursuing a "soul agenda" in advancing it! (l have that on the word of the deceased philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, a personal friend of von Neumann's and as l understand it a death-bed confidante of his as he converted to Catholicism from his original Jewish faith.)

Decoherrence "gets away with" being no-collapse because of course every extra quantum entanglement generates new possible interference effects, but uncoordinatedly and on a very fine scale. The appearance is therefore thye familiar one of classical physics.

A former member
Post #: 136
Hi Ian,

... However, if we're all now finally agreed -- and l think (?) with Andrew's backing -- then we don't need to used Peter's neologism: reportable.

I have no idea what neologism is/means but report on was your terminology and I don't think I've ever used the word "reportable".

Is this some other Peter you are referring to?

lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 176

(From Peter):

Hi Ian,

Wotcher, mate. (l’m kinda getting the hang of this bluff Antipodean chumminess.)

[Me in a previous posting): ... However, if we're all now finally agreed -- and l think (?) with Andrew's backing -- then we don't need to used Peter's neologism: reportable.

I have no idea what neologism is/means

.. a word or phrase coined especially for the occasion or novel concept ..

but report on was your terminology and I don't think I've ever used the word "reportable".

I (and Camilla) reported(!) on Ned Block’s long-established use of the phrase access-consciousness. I think that Block himself may have used the word “report” and some of its derivatives but don’t quote me on that.

Earlier on in the 2 consciousness threads l – and, again, probably Camilla – pointed out the fact of the incommunicability of the “subjective end” of sensation itself. (As opposed to peripheral signal transduction within the specialised sensory receptors, which latter is the subject-matter written down under the rubric of sensation within any biology textbook or scientific encyclopaedia). The stuff that is thus incommunicable sails under many names, and l’ll just bore the lot of you once again for the sake of newcomers, so here they are, and as far as l at least am concerned they’re entirely synonymous:

Secondary qualities
Sensory qualities
Phenomenal qualities

Access-consciousness – which phrase we’ve now sensibly and almost unanimously agreed not to use since it’s really nothing to do with consciousness proper – of course only concerns the integrated, synthesised, reportable, real-world (and ultimately physical, all of it!) content of conscious experience. As Peter earlier pointed out, we now all agree what each other are talking about whenever we acknowledge that we can all report that we’ve got toothache, but we can’t actually – thank Zeus! – communicate the toothache itself. We only trade on the fact that whenever we have had toothache, it ranges in characteristic unpleasantness from just-about-bearable to absolutely-bloody-excruciating, and any pangs of sympathy that we might feel for such a thus-stricken onlooker exist solely in virtue of a projective analogy.

Is this some other Peter you are referring to?

Yes, it’s Access-Peter. (As opposed to Phenomenal Peter. Beware of imitations!)

A former member
Post #: 137
Hi Ian,

Phenomenal as in pertaining to a Phenomena? An Emergent Phenomena? Strong or Weak , lol?

I'll check what software I have with which to Access other, virtual Peters

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