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Everything posted by vexspits

  1. I think it can mean different things in different cases. Swanson brought up the example of concepts. Of course they exist, but do they exist in the same way as a table, a chair, or a tree? They don’t exist materially do they? Could you rearrange the molecular structure of a concept? I don’t think so. I think the best way to approach the question: “What does it mean to exist?” is to not assume that it has only one meaning. One should examine a particular case and then ask: “In what sense does it exist?”
  2. Yes true. But I needed this setup and this choice of observers because I thought it was the only way to highlight what I am trying to point to: A spatial relationship between whatever exists while both lightning strikes do —something etched that would not be affected by an interval of time; something that points to “a time” that differs from an ordinal tx point assigned through the use of a clock interval. I’m kind of at a loss as to how to say it other than a state of affairs consisting of a bolt here, one there, two observers here, char marks on the train and on the embankment there etc. They all exist in a particular spatial relationship to one another, and they don’t have this relationship “at a time”; the relationship itself constitutes “a time”.
  3. Sorry, I was thinking of @studiot's post: “The point of the example is that the lightning bolts strike and mark permanently both the train and the platform together…” So what I meant was: M1 (train) finds herself in the middle of the char marks left on the train, while M (embankment) finds himself in the middle of the char marks left on the embankment. Now that is assuming the scenario described in the original thought experiment: where the strokes of lighting are simultaneous with respect to the embankment according to Einstein’s definition: “…A and B are simultaneous with respect to the embankment [if]…the rays of light emitted at the places A and B… meet each other at the mid-point M of the length A —> B of the embankment.”1 Again, despite the fact that the strokes are not simultaneous in M1’s frame, she would still find herself in the middle of the char marks left aboard the train; and that’s because her position, in Einstein’s words, “naturally coincides with” M’s position when the flashes of lighting occur. It seems like a commonality between the frames despite the time order discrepancy between them. 1 https://www.bartleby.com/173/9.html
  4. I’m not sure. But I don’t think it matters. I think what you said here: is good advice, and what all three of you (yourself, @studiot, and @swansont) are pointing to: the fixed distances comparable after the fact, is exactly what I have in mind. M1 and M would find themselves right smack-dab in the middle of the char marks left by the lightning bolts. As to how this applies to “coexisting events” is another matter; something that, I suppose, should be placed in philosophy. Thank you (and also both @studiot and @swansont) for your engagement and your patience.
  5. Yes the lack of a rigorous definition is a problem. I certainly can’t define it mathematically. If I say, “…while there is a lightning bolt…”—what does that mean? What is this “while” business? I can’t say “at the same time” because that brings us right back to what you noted about the strikes both occurring at a shared tx point in only one frame. I guess what I’m trying to point to when I say, “coexisting events” is something that cannot be confirmed to be the case for two events distanced from one another in Einstein’s thought experiment due to the limiting velocity of information. You would have to collapse the interval between the event itself and the event of its observation which would require some form of information transmission of infinite velocity—impossible. So if I ask the question: “Is there some definite fact of the matter regarding Einstein’s bolts of lightning quite apart from the “time order” in which they are deemed to occur in different frames of reference according to the time of physics?” What would this fact be and how would I find it out? Apart from a mathematical definition, the only thing I can come up with involves information transmission that “belongs” to a given frame of reference. So if, along with the mirrors “inclined at 90 degrees” which Einstein allotted, we equipped both observer M on the embankment and observer M1 on the train with two light bulbs connected to transformers connected to two electrodes that “coincide” with the two bolts of lightning, then both M and M1 would see the bulbs next to them light up “at the same time”. Yet, relying on the reflected light from the mirrors, M1 would reach a different conclusion. Both forms of information transmission (EM energy wave along reference-frame wire and light wave through the air) seem to point to something different. It’s this “something different” I’m trying to get a grip on.
  6. In the train/embankment thought experiment, might we, at the very least, say of the two events referred to as the lightning bolts striking the two locations on the train that they coexist at those respective locations—meaning that while there is a lightning bolt that exists at point A on the moving box car, there is also one that exists at point B on the moving box car? Yes @J.C.MacSwell your discussion with @Markus Hanke clarifies the sense of “coexist” I had in mind: not the sense in which they coexist in spacetime. So in the example of decaying muons given by Markus—we’d be talking about two in my living room that both decayed there during the first 2 microseconds of the, say, 13 milliseconds it took my brain to visually process the first letter of this post. @studiotYes, two events at the same location vs two events at different locations: So couched in the language of the text you cited: Two events that in one frame are at the same point in space envisaged at the same moment will—if I’m not mistaken—in another frame also be at the same point in space and envisaged at the same moment. Whereas “…what in one frame is the same moment at two different points, will in general be mapped in another frame as different moments…” Now I suppose two events (such as bolts of lightning) can’t share a point in space at the same point in time, but at the very least they may share a boundary, one so constricting as to approximate sharing a “point in space”. And it seems that whether “coexist” and “simultaneous” point to the same thing along every frame of axes depends on the degree to which the events are confined within such a boundary. If that is true, it means that any concurrence between the two is merely circumstantial; it no longer seems reasonable to say that “coexisting events” and “simultaneous events” are synonymous. As mentioned in the OP: I ask because, well, we have for instance this passage: "The theory of relativity implies that simultaneity is relative to a frame of axes. If one frame of axes is moving relative to another, then events that are simultaneous relative to the first are not simultaneous relative to the second, and vice versa….Those who think that there is a continual coming into existence of events (as the present rushes onward into the future) can be asked “Which present?” It therefore seems difficult to make a distinction between a real present (and perhaps past) as against an as-yet-unreal future [italics are mine]".1 And then we have a quote from Adrian Bardon: "Just like 'here', 'now' is a term that has no application in a description of the world that excludes people’s subjective beliefs and attitudes. To include 'now' in that description would presume an absolute present that Einstein’s theory dispenses with when it dispenses with absolute simultaneity [italics are mine]".2 If simultaneity has no bearing on whether two or more events among many make up a succession of them (as in the Leibnizian definition of time), then how does the fact that it is relative dispel (or dispense with) such an absolute succession? 1 https://www.britannica.com/science/time/Contemporary-philosophies-of-time 2 Bardon, Adrian; A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time;  Oxford University Press 2013; p,94.
  7. In physics when we say two events occurred simultaneously at two locations--is that synonymous with saying they coexisted at those two locations? When we say the words “coterminous events”, it is taken for granted that we mean the two events coexist at a particular location and also that they occur simultaneously. However, to a layman like me, the advent of Special Relativity seems to have changed the concurrence between the two in the following way: We can no longer take it for granted that coexisting events that are not coterminous will also be simultaneous, because in Einstein’s original thought experiment (train/embankment) where he outlines his “most natural definition of simultaneity”, its determination depends on intervals, and the “how long” of these are shown to depend on the motion of the observer with respect to the wavefronts of light that inform him of the event’s “time”, and do not seem to serve as any indication of whether the events (in this case two bolts of lightning) coexisted. I submit this to you all because it exposes the thinking of someone who is unable to understand how the relativity of simultaneity dispels any conceivable form of absolute coming-into-existence of events, or absolute “now”—perhaps creating an opportunity here to clear up misconceptions I suspect many laymen have. PS. I started this thread in the philosophy sub-forum, but it was automatically transferred to the physics sub-forum.
  8. Like Strange, I too find this to be an interesting question. Next time your brain cools, could you break down that sentence further? I'd like to know how you view it retrospectively (under better atmospheric conditions).
  9. Like Markus, I agree 100% with you that for an observation to take place, there would be some act of a finite speed involving a range of motion that could be measured with a clock. But also, like Markus, I don’t see how it is relevant to his claim about non-homogeneity in the scenario he describes. Again, in his words: “it is simply the failure of all spatial regions of that universe to be identical”. When you say, “that seems to me to be a problem with our common definition of change” in some ways I can very much relate. If you look at a sample of definitions of the intransitive verb as described on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary you get: “to become different” “to undergo transformation, transition, or substitution” these all very much point to a process, which suggests a range of motion. But that is not what Markus is describing. As he says, “It isn’t a process, it’s a relationship.” (Studiot also pointed out that there are other notions of change apart from transformation). So I get how it conflicts with at least one “common” definition, but I’m not sure about which “common definition” you are speaking of—the one you say “HAS to be observed.” Please forgive me if I’ve misrepresented you or misunderstood your remarks.
  10. Well I was not trying to deny this, I was trying to persuade you to temporarily toss it out the window, because it seemed pointless to point it out: Saying “time is there” in order for the cup to persist is extraneous, as I emphasized, “…in the sense that it doesn’t contradict the notion of change as presented by Markus”. In any case, upon re-examining your previous post you appear to have already conceded that point. Cheers
  11. I think it might be more a matter of some “idea of time” being inside your thinking. Which is perhaps why you add, “at the same time” to “all the parts are present together” which to me adds nothing. Just for the hell of it, as an experiment, you might try throwing the word “time” out the window (and all its accompanying baggage), and focus on relationships that persist (such as distances between positions on a cup) and the inherent structure as a whole that arises out of those persisting relationships. Instead of thinking “the inherent structure exists at a time” just think: “the inherent structure exists”. Or “it persists”, not “it persists through time”. Now if you cry fowl here and say, “The only way the structure can persist is through time”, I submit to you that you’re adding something vague and extraneous in the sense that it doesn’t contradict the notion of change as presented by Marcus. We have to be clear that we are talking about a parameter, not some other notion of time which you or I might espouse. PS. Although I have to admit, I’m very curious as to how you would define “time” outside the time of physics. Maybe a new thread in the philosophy sub forum.
  12. Hello michel123456: As Studiot said, it depends on how you define change, and Markus is careful to initially put quotation marks around that word before he gives an example. And when you say "in your mind", you are offering nothing more than another definition. Strictly speaking, Markus never said anything about changing the spatial coordinates; he said the curvature changes with respect to different spatial coordinates.
  13. Certainly not unique to English. You mentioned Spanish: Acabar con/de/por Dar a/con Estar de/con/para/por I would just focus on the problematic word (belief) and the few instances in which it makes you stumble, find an appropriate pattern, paste it on your kitchen wall in a large font, stare at it every day during your morning coffee until it is drilled into your head. So, say, in the case of an opening sentence where you are doling “it” out: "I'm going to give you a piece of advice" or, "Let me give you some input" Just avoid the “companion”, pick something like: “Let me share with you a belief (of mine)” and stick with it like it is the best thing since sliced bread. And yes, “forget about the distinction between "belief" as countable and "belief" as uncountable.” My two cents.
  14. Hi Ghideon: If you took ten real-world situations you faced this week, had a list of what you reported as wishes/beliefs and a list of possible actions, you would find a probability way outside of chance there was some correspondence between the two lists. In the A.I scenario you describe, it seems to me that there would be no such probability of correspondence between the two. It also seems to me that as soon as you give the A.I. awareness, this discrepancy would become apparent even to it. And without any possibility of revision (evolution) to the scheme the programmer (nature) provided, the correspondence between the two lists would forever fail to rise above chance! And if you provided the A.I. with the capacity to suffer—my God! What a horrifying scenario you (we) have imagined! LOL
  15. Hi Joigus: Based on your previous posts, I suspect that the arguments you present will fail to strike at the heart of Eise’s position. I believe you two will remain at an impasse. I’m going to take John Searle’s position as an example because I think his to some degree reflects yours (and also those of many other posters who’ve contributed here over the past few pages). Searle considers the compatibilist view a cop out1. He thinks its advocates avoid “the problem” which he defines in the form of a question: “Is it the case for every decision I make that the antecedent causes were sufficient to determine that very decision?” 1) If yes, then no free will. 2) If there is a decision where the antecedent causes were not sufficient to determine the outcome, then, he says, “there is a possibility of free will”. For 2) to be the case, according to Searle, there would have to be a gap of sorts between antecedent events and the act of deciding; one wherein you/I/we could participate (I can already hear Eise crying: “Dualist trap!”). Searle does acknowledge that there can be an experiential gap during which the higher level reasoning takes place, but then he adds, “If the neurobiological level is causally sufficient to determine your behaviour, then the fact that you have the experience of freedom at the higher level is…irrelevant.” And of course Searle points to the evidence of neurobiology as highly suggestive that it is sufficient cause. Eise seems to be saying the opposite: “…the 'determining relation' between us and our constituents is an emergence relationship, not a causal relationship” (my emphasis). Not only is the neurological level not “causally sufficient” to determine the decision, it is not even causally related to it! (And this sends many of us reeling!)2 Although Dennett thinks we should focus on the biological level (and not that of physics), here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joCOWaaTj4A he appears to care little about the relationship between the neurobiological level and our decisions. He says what matters is making a distinction between “determined” and “inevitable” which, upon first hearing, is also enough to send one reeling (or worse, provoke one to slap him in the face!). Of course he does go on to elaborate: “To be clear on this we have to see what “inevitable” means—it means unavoidable. So then we have to get clear on what avoiding is, and then we can begin to see the biological dimension.” He then characterizes evolution over earth history as “an explosion of avoidance”—everything from dissolution, to being eaten, to starving to death. Avoidance is the result of “anticipating and taking corrective measures”; the ability to project possible futures (or at least those we think are possible) and avoid them. To me this seems to run roughshod over everything Searle says: Whether there was something (an agent?) intervening somewhere along the way doesn’t seem to strike at the core (spirit?) of the idea. And so I think any arguments about causality across the levels, whether below governs above, etc will experience a similar fate vis-à-vis what it is Dennett and Eise point to. Simply put: One either does or does not agree that such avoidance abilities render determinism and free will compatible. It’s either “good enough for you” or it isn’t. And that is pretty much the end of it. 1 The view which he encapsulates here as: “…you are determined by certain sorts of causes such as your desires instead of somebody putting a gun at your head”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rZfSTpjGl8 2 Perhaps I will later try to defend this position in some shape or form even if it is not Eise’s.
  16. Yes of course; the levity I introduced--only to make a point about what the emergent property is (what we are actually looking for)--was careless, in that it belittles the other main point you've repeatedly tried to make about determinism being necessary for it to even exist in the first place. My apologies.
  17. If this is true, then whether various processes are stochastic, deterministic, a mixture of these at various stages (or something else completely unimaginable) is irrelevant; as long as somewhere in the midst of it all, we get a sentience with beliefs and wishes potentially fulfilled. Well why didn’t you just say that from the beginning! LOL All kidding aside, it was very difficult for me to “hear” you. The level of analysis you speak of seems far removed from good old, hard-boiled empirical science, which is why I so much empathize with @joigus. Even as I say "I agree with you Eise", I still (like @Prometheus) doubt the veracity of the word “free” as applied to will. Maybe something I’ll never shake—like my catholic upbringing which insidiously gives me pause to doubt when I hear myself say: “Jesus Christ was just a man”.
  18. This is no minor point to your position. Without fully grasping it, MigL’s description creates an imagination blockade: One pictures the internal processes as dictatorial to an agent, instead of picturing them as what makes up the agent—their wants, knowledge of the consequences of their actions etc. Without this perspective reversal one can’t see anything other than “passive causality” top to bottom.
  19. That last remark is Intriguing: What would an unconstrained choice be like? I mean: all choices must eventually come to only one. We are literally always constrained to one choice. So what would be the meaningful (qualitative?) distinction between one that is limited by the "internal and external forcings” and one exclusively limited by the time constraint? I’m not being facetious or picking sides, I really have no freaking idea! (Keep in mind, I’m a bit of dullard; kid gloves please).
  20. Hi MigL: Kudos on being clear about what you mean by “free”: the choice has to be free of those “internal and external ‘forcings’”. Now I know this next question will seem silly to you (and its answer self evident to you) but here goes anyway: Why would this to you constitute a free choice? Among the other requirements Ghideon has, he insists there “must be something that the A.I. [agent] realistically could want or need to achieve….” and Eise echoes this possibility of satisfying the want: “As long as I can do what I want…I have free will”. The coercive language in which you couched your description of internal and external causes seems fair to me, but once we begin to speak of the wants of “Eise”, it no longer does: The “forcing” element seems, well, forced! Let’s say we knew the possibility of which you speak existed—could have done otherwise in the exact same situation (have been "independent of the forcings"). Would that change the element of satisfying the want in any meaningful way?
  21. Thank you Prometheus: So with that iterative system we can, with a “probability of exactly 1, predict the outcome” of the next stage (to borrow from Ghideon’s phrasing), and yet there is a property of the structure that emerges from the repetitive process that could quite conceivably be "random" or impossible to predict. Is that fair to say? I’m not trying to drag you into anything. It’s just that, like iNow, I have a hell of a hard time reconciling “freedom” or “choice” with something determined.
  22. Hi Ghideon: Is it possible for a system (or some "iterative run" of one) to be deterministic and yet computationally intractable?
  23. Eise: Would another way of saying this be: “Yes, there are physical laws which the electrochemical events obey, but this really does not speak to their cause—why those events are initiated the way they are?
  24. Gentlemen: I am new to this forum, am enjoying your discussion, and felt compelled to participate. @Joigus "…so constriction of choice (less freedom)" In any realistic view, wouldn’t the relationship quickly become inversely proportional? It would only make sense given the finite information, energy, and time involved in making a choice—ultimately a shrinking interval always further constricts the number of choices that can be assessed. "And yet, your subjective impression is that you're doing exactly what you want. You see? Exactly what you want!!!" “Exactly” implies that there are no limits. I don’t think Dennett (or anyone here) is suggesting “freedom” as in: infinite degrees of—or degrees that would perfectly satisfy us. “You…can't change it.” No I can’t change it. Based on the knowledge of the circumstances and the opportunity to assess them, it’s the best I could do. I don’t have some bird’s eye view with infinite computability and processing speed; it seems we are back to jumping over the moon. When you say, “I can’t change it” (could not have chosen otherwise), you are right! But that ignores the entire process that took place while the choice was being made; as though it were of no relevance. To lump beneath the same umbrella the process that leads to each and every determined outcome is to ignore important qualitative differences. It is through an examination of those differences where you find the compatibilist version that lurks amid the four big “f”s of evolution (fight, flight, food, and reproduction), plus the added language, culture etc—the nuanced landscape in which the bag “of mostly water and chemicals…” navigates. @ Eise. I share your compatibilist view, but I still have a nagging suspicion that Joigus is right! That there are zero degrees of freedom (or at least that is what I think he is saying!). Do you sometimes have this doubt? If so, why?
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