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Davy_Jones
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I do think the discussion about reality has failed to demonstrate the flaws in the concept.

 

Last night (to me) or yesterday afternoon to her, along with millions of others I watched Radacanu win the US open (congratulations to her).

So whose 'reality' was correct ?

Was it really yesterday afternoon or last night ?

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11 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

 

Take, for example, the reification of atoms around the turn of the 20th century.

Prior to then, atoms had been widely regarded as simply a "useful fiction"  . . . much as other members in this thread speak about current theoretical posits.

Then, thanks to the work of Perrin et al, all of a sudden atoms were real. And scientists said so explicitly.

Have they?  Again,  the word fetish can drive otherwise sane people to make atoms to be real in the same sense that soccer balls are real.   But anyone who's had a Bose Einstein Condensate around, where all the atoms merge into a single quantum mechanical entity,  might wonder if they're real in quite the same way. 

Generally,  I think "observables" describes the appearances without assigning the ontological status that we give macro-level stuff like soccer balls.   

OK,  time for scrambled eggs and Fats Waller.   I ain't misbehavin.

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9 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

I've heard Isaac Newton say it.

"Hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses... And to us it is enough that gravity does really exist, and act according to the laws which we have explained, and abundantly serves to account for all the motions of the celestial bodies, and of our sea."

That is NOT true, and could not have really happened!
You are not 300 years old so you could not possibly have heard him say that.
On the other hand, it is certainly true that he said that,

Don't you see the variability of the word 'true' ?

12 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

Prior to then, atoms had been widely regarded as simply a "useful fiction"  . . . much as other members in this thread speak about current theoretical posits.

Atoms are now real ?
Their effects and interactions can be observed and measured for sure ...
Ask Mr Perrin if the mass of three quarks, which cannot be separated, that make up a proton/neutron in an atom, add up to the mass of said proton/neutron.
Ask him to measure the diameter of one of those quarks, or an electron, that make up those atoms.
Then ask him by what definition of reality do the masses of three dimensionless points add up to less than 2% of the mass of the particle they make up.
Surely his definition of 'real' is not the same as yours.

 

I am learning a little Philosophy from you, as I hope you are learning a little science from me, however I must admit, I am a little puzzled by this Philosophical technique you are using.
What do you call it ?
Beating your head against the wall, and insisting others use your definitions to describe their concepts, even after being repeatedly tol that your definition is not applicable ?


Oh, and I fail to see why the opinions of the scientists you quote are any more relevant than the opinions of the scientists on this forum.
If anything, they simply illustrate the variability of words like 'real' and 'true' to scientists, as opposed to the one-and-only definition, written on a gold bar and stored in a vault in France, that you Philosophers think everyone should use.

 

Edited by MigL
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8 hours ago, MigL said:

That is NOT true, and could not have really happened!
You are not 300 years old so you could not possibly have heard him say that.
On the other hand, it is certainly true that he said that,

Don't you see the variability of the word 'true' ?

Oh, for crying out loud, Mr Eastwood. I was being . . . shall we say playful. And I think you know it. (And the next person who says "obtuse" gets shot. Seems to be a fave word around here.)

Does it count that I feel 300 years old right now? :)

 

8 hours ago, MigL said:

Atoms are now real ?
Their effects and interactions can be observed and measured for sure ...
Ask Mr Perrin if the mass of three quarks, which cannot be separated, that make up a proton/neutron in an atom, add up to the mass of said proton/neutron.
Ask him to measure the diameter of one of those quarks, or an electron, that make up those atoms.
Then ask him by what definition of reality do the masses of three dimensionless points add up to less than 2% of the mass of the particle they make up.

What I said was "Then, thanks to the work of Perrin et al, all of a sudden atoms were real. And scientists said so explicitly."


Whereas previously atoms had been regarded as "useful fictions" by the majority of relevant scientists, within a relatively short period they were being assigned ontological reality by the majority -- and said so explicitly.

 

I did consider typing " . . . all of a sudden atoms were taken to be real" just to be super clear but withheld thinking it would be obvious. If it was less than clear, sorry; I am now clarifying.


(If atoms are indeed real, then they were real at the time of the dinosaurs, real in 1900, real now, and will be real when we're all dead . . . unless you're a social constructivist. I'm not, and I highly doubt anyone else here is.)


And why mention this at all? To provide further evidence, as if any more was needed, to refute various claims (see OP and the entire thread passim) to the effect that scientists/physicists do not try to describe reality, scientists do not deal with reality, hard-nosed scientists do not talk about metaphysical airy-fairy will-o-the-wisps such as truth and reality.


What current scientists, including those here, happen to feel about the reality of atoms does nothing to vitiate the refutation. All it takes is one flying bird. 

 

8 hours ago, MigL said:

Surely his definition of 'real' is not the same as yours.

I have not provided a definition of real, in this thread or any other.
 

8 hours ago, MigL said:

I am learning a little Philosophy from you, as I hope you are learning a little science from me, however I must admit, I am a little puzzled by this Philosophical technique you are using.
What do you call it ?
Beating your head against the wall, and insisting others use your definitions to describe their concepts, even after being repeatedly tol that your definition is not applicable ?

See above. I have given no definition of real.
 

But yes, echoing your own thoughts, I'm sincerely pleased to have this opportunity to learn from so many knowledgable people, including yourself. The seemingly insatiable nastiness and character defamation, though, (which the mods incomprehensibly do nothing about) from certain members has me very close to cashing in my chips.

 

8 hours ago, MigL said:

Oh, and I fail to see why the opinions of the scientists you quote are any more relevant than the opinions of the scientists on this forum.

The reason is that, in a debate over the the truth of the claim "birds don't fly", pointing out a few penguins and cassowaries (as my opponents have been doing) carries little weight. Pointing to just one soaring eagle, on the other hand, serves to refute the claim immediately. I've pointed out a veritable flock of seagulls . . . to little avail it seems.


(Now apply that, mutatis mutandis, to the claims we actually are debating -- see my will-o-the-wisp comments a few paragraphs above)
 

8 hours ago, MigL said:

If anything, they simply illustrate the variability of words like 'real' and 'true' to scientists, as opposed to the one-and-only definition, written on a gold bar and stored in a vault in France, that you Philosophers think everyone should use.

For the third time, I have offered no definition of real. What I have done is refute the claims just mentioned. It is not true that there are no scientists (cf. "there are no birds that fly") that are trying to describe reality, aiming for truth, and all the rest. They said so themselves!


How many times does Mr Sinatra have to sing to falsify "Ole Blue Eyes never sang a song in his life"?

 

Peace and love to all.
 

Edited by Davy_Jones
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14 hours ago, studiot said:

I do think the discussion about reality has failed to demonstrate the flaws in the concept.

 

Last night (to me) or yesterday afternoon to her, along with millions of others I watched Radacanu win the US open (congratulations to her).

So whose 'reality' was correct ?

Was it really yesterday afternoon or last night ?

Hmm, does not seem like a problem to me. No doubt there are difficulties with the concept; this doesn't appear to be one, though.

Isn't this like saying,  The coin has two sides: one heads and the other tails. Our concept of reality is a mess"?

When one side of the planet is illuminated, the other is not.

When it's summer in Canada, it's winter in Australia.

Where's the problem?

In the philosophy of language, they talk about indexicals (words such as "I", "now". "here". etc.), that is, certain statements are indexed according to the person, time, place, etc. of utterance.

Therefore, taking indexicals into account, there is no contradiction between the statements "It's hot here", when uttered by yourself, and "It's cold here" when uttered simultaneously by me. Both can be true.

Edited by Davy_Jones
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1 hour ago, Davy_Jones said:

Oh, for crying out loud, Mr Eastwood. I was being . . . shall we say playful. And I think you know it. (And the next person who says "obtuse" gets shot. Seems to be a fave word around here.)

Playful? hmmm, yeah, I have seen many of your posts making silly claims, and then * I'm only joking* quickly added. I am no psychologist but I smell something.

1 hour ago, Davy_Jones said:

Whereas previously atoms had been regarded as "useful fictions" by the majority of relevant scientists, within a relatively short period they were being assigned ontological reality by the majority -- and said so explicitly.

Science is a discipline in eternal progress, that may change as further observational and experimental data adds to our knowledge. You are claiming nothing new sensational, controversial, or in any way invalidating what most here have been trying to explain to you.

1 hour ago, Davy_Jones said:

(If atoms are indeed real, then they were real at the time of the dinosaurs, real in 1900, real now, and will be real when we're all dead . . . unless you're a social constructivist. I'm not, and I highly doubt anyone else here is.)

Ummm, yeah sure, so? Ancient stone age man also saw gods in the Sun, the Moon, Mountains etc. Science/knowledge progresses. Raed previous answer.

1 hour ago, Davy_Jones said:

And why mention this at all? To provide further evidence, as if any more was needed, to refute various claims (see OP and the entire thread passim) to the effect that scientists/physicists do not try to describe reality, scientists do not deal with reality, hard-nosed scientists do not talk about metaphysical airy-fairy will-o-the-wisps such as truth and reality.

I'm really not to sure what you are waffling on about, but yes, it is indeed true that scientists are not out to reveal and "supposed' truth and/or reality. Do you now accept that?

1 hour ago, Davy_Jones said:

I have not provided a definition of real, in this thread or any other.
 

See above. I have given no definition of real.
 

For the third time, I have offered no definition of real

What you have done and continue to do imo, is try and confuse and side step the issue at hand. What your definition [which you say you havn't given] of truth and reality is, is your own. Scientific models and theories do not have that as their goal.

1 hour ago, Davy_Jones said:

For the third time, I have offered no definition of real. What I have done is refute the claims just mentioned. It is not true that there are no scientists (cf. "there are no birds that fly") that are trying to describe reality, aiming for truth, and all the rest. They said so themselves!

What claims are those? I'm really interested in knowing what you believe you have refuted. I'll start the ball rolling....gravity is real, although we do not know its true nature.....Not all birds are able to fly? True, not all birds can fly...Atoms are real and always have been real, although our limited knowedge for a lot of time, prevented us from knowing that fact. 

In concluding, I respectfully suggest you quit practising your faulty philosophy with us, and accept what is real, what is not real, and the unknown aspect of a deeper truth and reality when applied to the universe.

 

Edited by beecee
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2 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

And the next person who says "obtuse" gets shot.

I know I'm not first, but you continue to be obtuse.

2 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

I have not provided a definition of real, in this thread or any other.

Bullshit.

By providing one example after another of what you believe to be real you are defining for us what you think reality is. For example, In your second post in this thread: "I think the cannonball is real -- really real -- real even if no one is looking, its motion is real, and that physics describes this reality for us". 

Your position seems to be that the physics describing the cannon ball "describes this reality". 

So now you are obfuscating by claiming "well, I never actually said the words "The definition of reality is...""

Your little tap dance is fooling no one.

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The following is not particularly relevant to the OP, but if no one has any objections, I offer it for reflection (since the reality of gravity was touched upon).

The question is this: Is it possible that we, or at least all those who currently believe in its reality, might one day come to believe that gravity is not real, that it does not exist?

Newton was a cautious man. Though he did explicitly assert gravity really does exist, he shied away from "feigning any hypotheses" regarding its nature. What he did do, however, was to impute gravity as the cause--the common cause--of various observable effects (falling apples, motion of the planets and comets, tidal behavior, etc.).

Then along came Einstein, also attributing gravity to be the common cause of the aforementioned effects, and a few others to boot (time dilation, etc.).

Now, suppose one day we come to learn, or at least believe, that what we now attribute to a common cause (gravity) is in fact the result of multiple causes. What would we then say?

(Those of you familiar with Hilary Putnam's celebrated "Twin Earth" thought experiment will see the parallels).

One option would be to say:
"Gravity is real. It is the collective name we give to a plurality of causes."


Another option, however, would be to say . . . "Gravity doesn't exist. We were wrong" . . . and assign individual names to each of the multiple causes.

I'm not suggesting this is likely (I've no idea how likely it is). What it does show, I think, is that the putative reality of gravity remains an open question.

Would we call a substance on Twin Earth that is superficially indistinguishable from our water, but does not have the chemical formula H2O, water? Or would we give it another name?

Intuitions differ.

Edited by Davy_Jones
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42 minutes ago, zapatos said:

Bullshit.

Your little tap dance is fooling no one.

Not being as uncouth as you, coupled with my superior upbringing  and refinement, I resisted with all my might to say the same thing!!😉😜

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2 minutes ago, beecee said:

Not being as uncouth as you, coupled with my superior upbringing  and refinement, I resisted with all my might to say the same thing!!😉😜

I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, but I seem to have much less patience than I used to have.

Either that or it has to do with my tendency to chew with my mouth open. 😆

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47 minutes ago, zapatos said:

I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, but I seem to have much less patience than I used to have.

If I may, and with authentic respect… It’s likely bc you’re living now in a world where patience with bullshit and dissemblance leads to needless death and avoidable suffering… and you’re one of the good ones who desires neither 

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15 hours ago, TheVat said:

But anyone who's had a Bose Einstein Condensate around

Whoa! Remind me to visit your house some day, sounds like the place to be...

 

On 9/12/2021 at 10:21 AM, Davy_Jones said:

Then, thanks to the work of Perrin et al, all of a sudden atoms were real. And scientists said so explicitly.

I must admit I am baffled by this - you are a philosopher yourself, so surely you must see the issue with this? 

When you probe a sample of matter on atomic scales, what are you really going to find? Will you find ‘atoms’? Of course not. What you will find are ensembles of electrons, protons and neutrons, in various configurations, plus an abundance of vacuum. That is all. What we call ‘atom’ is a convenient convention to give a short name to such quantum mechanical ensembles, largely for historical - not scientific - reasons. They are real, but only in a conventional sense; ontologically there is no such thing. No experiment will ever detect the ‘atom-ness’ of an atom, because the only thing there is on that scale are electrons and nuclei.

But it gets worse. If we decide to crank up the energy and probe said protons and neutrons, we find that they themselves are also ensembles of more fundamental particles, being quarks and gluons. So on subatomic scales, there’s no such thing as protons and neutrons either, they are convenient conventions too, but don’t exist as independent entities in and of themselves.

So what about quarks and electrons? Surely they are ‘real’? When you try and take a closer look at them, they turn out to be pretty slippery bastards - try to confine them into smaller and smaller areas, and they move about more and more wildly. Try to measure their momenta, and suddenly you can’t pin them down any more. Send them through a double slit, and they behave like waves; try to measure their spin vector, and each time you laboriously determine one component, the other two get erased! It’s like trying to nail jelly to the wall. 

So to our dismay, even the very notion of ‘particle’ turns out to be just a convenient tool. Even such a seemingly innocuous concept as ‘number of particles in a given volume’ turns out to depend on who’s counting them! There’s not really such a thing in reality - there might be something there, but it’s nothing like our intuitive notion of a particle, unless you zoom out far enough so that quantum effects become negligible.

So what are we left with? The most basic elements of reality we currently know of - and this is almost certainly not the deepest level - are quantum fields. So we don’t have a universe with 10^120 particles with independent existence - all we have is one spacetime with 37 (depending on how exactly you count) quantum fields. That is all. You don’t have any more independent existence than does that flock of birds, since both are just complicated ensembles of the same 37 quantum fields (according to current knowledge). On those scales you are not different from those birds, and on other scales you are not the same. There’s no contradiction - both are correct. You take what is found on human scales to be absolutely real only because that happens to be the scale your sensory apparatus is able to probe.

And that’s my central point - if you probe reality on human scales, then you and me and the birds are ‘real’. If you probe it on molecular scales, then atoms are ‘real’. If you probe it on atomic scales, then ‘subatomic particles’ are real...and at the bottom, what is real are quantum fields, according to current knowledge. Hence, there is no one reality - what is real depends on the scale of the instrument that probes reality. It is scale-dependent. This is called contextuality. You will never find a ‘bird’ if you use the LHC to look - even if you look in the same region of spacetime. And when you look at subatomic constituents, then sometimes you’ll find waves, sometimes various quantum objects, depending on how you set up the probe. Mostly, you’ll find nothing at all.

I will for now forgo any mention of counterfactual definiteness and the empirical violation of Bell’s Theorem, which puts further nails into the coffin of ‘reality’. Or what might happen if you look still deeper, beyond quantum fields. Or you could go the other way - what happens if a hypothetical very large organism (~10 billions of light years in size) tries to build a machine to observe my cat? Because the speed of light is so slow on such scales, metric expansion would rip this life form apart long before he could become conscious of the outcome of that measurement. My cat could never become part of his reality.

So what is real depends on how you probe! That is why both ‘bird’ and ‘37 quantum fields’ are equally valid realities, but in different contexts and on different scales. Neither one is more ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ than the other, but both are contextual and scale-dependent conventions. They are both real enough and useful, but only in their own contexts.

I will leave it at this for now. Personally I think the rabbit hole is much deeper than this still - I happen to think that reality doesn’t just depend on how you look, but also on who’s looking. But I won’t get into this here.

Edited by Markus Hanke
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I do wonder whether the human race will ever tire of hunting and burning witches.

Re: (and I refer to the more malevolent elements in the thread, not you nice folks) the latest scandal from the quidnuncs around the scuttlebutt regarding myself imposing definitions on others

Are we to believe now that I, perhaps with the help of a time machine, held a gun to the head of Einstein, Weinberg, Perrin, and all the rest, mercilessly forcing them to conform to my idiosyncratic definition (which I have never proposed in the first place) of reality?

"Your obeisance to lexicographical tyranny or your life, sucker!"

Let's suppose that what the Council of Grand Inquisitors says is correct, and we're all working with more-or-less different understandings of the terms truth and reality. It's not even all that implausible; intuitions do vary from person to person.

The facts remain, however, that contra the opposition claims, there are scientists who are trying to describe reality as they understand the term ; there are scientists who speak of, who "deal with", truth and reality whatever these things mean to them.

They said so! What next: they're all deluded liars?

I could, of course, be quite wrong about all this. Wouldn't be the first time. 

Isn't it wonderful, though, that we live in an enlightened age where people can speak freely without fear of an auto-da-fé.

Cough, cough.

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15 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

The facts remain, however, that contra the opposition claims, there are scientists who are trying to describe reality as they understand the term ; there are scientists who speak of, who "deal with", truth and reality whatever these things mean to them.

This sounds reasonable to me - I’m ok with the above.

Also, scientists very often use convenient conventions simply because they are what it says on the tin: they are very convenient and useful. ‘Atom’ is much more convenient than ‘quantum mechanical ensemble of bound particle states’, or the even more cryptic quantum field theory version of it.

15 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

I could, of course, be quite wrong about all this. Wouldn't be the first time. 

I don’t think you are ‘wrong’, I can see where you are coming from. But I do think you might be reading some of these quotations a little too literally. Scientists often forgo rigour and use sloppy terminology when speaking to lay audiences. What we say and what we mean are sometimes different things!

But I think the main issue is what we mean by ‘reality’. And as I’ve tried to show in my previous post, this is not at all a straightforward concept, because it isn’t absolute - it’s relative and contextual, and depends on how you detect it. Quite a bit like space and time in fact!

Edited by Markus Hanke
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3 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

Are we to believe now that I, perhaps with the help of a time machine, held a gun to the head of Einstein, Weinberg, Perrin, and all the rest, mercilessly forcing them to conform to my idiosyncratic definition (which I have never proposed in the first place) of reality?

They don't, at least in the cases I have read. You still cannot get rid of them rose coloured gardens that you see things through. The others, you have probably misinterpreted going on your past history.

3 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

Let's suppose that what the Council of Grand Inquisitors says is correct, and we're all working with more-or-less different understandings of the terms truth and reality. It's not even all that implausible; intuitions do vary from person to person.

The facts remain, however, that contra the opposition claims, there are scientists who are trying to describe reality as they understand the term ; there are scientists who speak of, who "deal with", truth and reality whatever these things mean to them.

They said so! What next: they're all deluded liars?

No, as I and others have continually told you, reality/truth if it even exists, varies between person, and also while some maybe trying to describe realty, scientific modeling and theories by definition, do not necessarily have that as there goal. You ignoring those facts, is where obtuseness and arguing in bad faith raises its ugly head. 

3 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

They said so! What next: they're all deluded liars?

You were totally wrong with what you supposed Einstein said. No he is not a deluded liar.

3 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

I could, of course, be quite wrong about all this. Wouldn't be the first time. 

Well so far, [as far as I am aware] it has been basically the only subject you have commented on and/or started threads on...appears a real obsession, much like some religious obsessions I have seen.

3 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

 Isn't it wonderful, though, that we live in an enlightened age where people can speak freely without fear of an auto-da-fé.

Cough, cough.

The anti vaxxers where I come from were given their rights to speak freely, but needed to resort to the only persausive method they know of with violence, as they were without any evidence at all...For their trouble they got fines, jail and criminal records. 

Edited by beecee
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5 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

Hence, there is no one reality

I can agree with that, except for the 'hence' since I don't agree with the premise of scale.

Davy_Jones has also agreed that there is more than one 'reality' or if you prefer, two versions of reality can both be true.

10 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

Therefore, taking indexicals into account, there is no contradiction between the statements "It's hot here", when uttered by yourself, and "It's cold here" when uttered simultaneously by me. Both can be true.

I will come back to Davy in a moment, but first to complete my comments about Markus' post.

5 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

And that’s my central point - if you probe reality on human scales, then you and me and the birds are ‘real’. If you probe it on molecular scales, then atoms are ‘real’. If you probe it on atomic scales, then ‘subatomic particles’ are real...and at the bottom, what is real are quantum fields, according to current knowledge.

Consider a brick wall.

In my reality the wall, the bricks and the mineral particles that make up the bricks and mortar are all simultaneously real.

Indeed one could not be real without the other.

 

But what you (and Davy) said about contextuality is spot on.

5 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

This is called contextuality.

Yes you must alway qualify many things about the ground in which you are working.

 

10 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:
On 9/12/2021 at 11:19 AM, studiot said:

I do think the discussion about reality has failed to demonstrate the flaws in the concept.

 

Last night (to me) or yesterday afternoon to her, along with millions of others I watched Radacanu win the US open (congratulations to her).

So whose 'reality' was correct ?

Was it really yesterday afternoon or last night ?

Expand  

Hmm, does not seem like a problem to me. No doubt there are difficulties with the concept; this doesn't appear to be one, though.

Isn't this like saying,  The coin has two sides: one heads and the other tails. Our concept of reality is a mess"?

When one side of the planet is illuminated, the other is not.

When it's summer in Canada, it's winter in Australia.

Where's the problem?

In the philosophy of language, they talk about indexicals (words such as "I", "now". "here". etc.), that is, certain statements are indexed according to the person, time, place, etc. of utterance.

Therefore, taking indexicals into account, there is no contradiction between the statements "It's hot here", when uttered by yourself, and "It's cold here" when uttered simultaneously by me. Both can be true.

Thank you for your reply and most importantly thank you for including this most important statement.

Far more important than the squabble over reality and truth, which we all now seem to accept need further qualification to make sense.

10 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

In the philosophy of language,

The philosophy of language.

Yes indeed you have just qualified 'philosophy' , as I have said to you several times now and you have always side stepped.

I repeat that both Science and Philosophy need qualifying, just as we have all noted that truth and reality need qualifying.

So many needless and pointles arguments ensue when that qualification is missing.

 

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11 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

Whoa! Remind me to visit your house some day, sounds like the place to be...

 

 

Haha.  Looking back at my post, I probably could have added "the lab" to "around," in my remark about having a BEC around.  And thanks for a great post on the ontological issues that arise when one tries to ascribe human macro-level realism to the world of the very tiny, the quantum realm. 

At some point, I wonder if we break down the root meaning of reality, we simply get "what is realized" and then only those entities where the realization is potentially shared between all.  And for realization, context is everything to the truth of what is realized. 

 

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40 minutes ago, TheVat said:

At some point, I wonder if we break down the root meaning of reality, we simply get "what is realized" and then only those entities where the realization is potentially shared between all.  And for realization, context is everything to the truth of what is realized. 

And if those entities are Philosophers, they may open several threads to convince the rest of us that theirs is the only 'true' meaning of reality ?

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I'd like to direct the following to @Markus Hanke and @TheVat with regards your recent remarks on the difficulties that quantum weirdness imposes on ascribing reality to things like soccer balls and chimpanzees, say, while expressing my thanks once again for the stimulating input.

Let's start with a refresher of Schrödinger and his fuzzy pussy, which no doubt everyone here is familiar with already, but with an emphasis on the realism-antirealism implications. Correct me if I butcher the physics or the history, gentlemen, as is quite likely.

Schrödinger, along with Einstein, given their realist proclivities, were deeply dissatisfied with the dominant Copenhagen antirealist understanding of QM. Erwin, therefore, proposed his famous thought experiment in order to expose what he and Einstein took to be the inadequacy or incompleteness of the orthodox interpretation. A classic reductio ad absurdum.

So what Schrödinger said was:

"Hey guys, if what you're telling us is true, and that's all there is to the story, and we extrapolate from the micro to the macro realm, then we end up with absurd results . . . like a cat that is neither alive nor dead till someone takes a peek inside the box; a cat that, prior to being examined, exists in a superposition of  . . . er, eigenvalues and wave functions or whatever."

I'm not a physicist -- obviously! Feel free to substitute in the correct jargon.

But note that dreadful word "true" in the first sentence.

The scientific antirealist--Bohr, Heisenberg, and just about everyone here it seems--almost by definition is a person who does not think scientific theories, or at least those that posit unobservables, are true. The scientific antirealist, almost by definition, is a person who does not believe in the reality of unobservables like eigenvalues and wave functions and all the rest.

As I've been told time and time again by the antirealistically inclined physicists here, "We don't deal with truth and reality. We are not even trying to generate true theories or describe (unobservable) reality. All we do is construct models which, to varying degrees, yield accurate desciptions of what can be observed. Our models are not to be taken as representations of reality; our models are not to be considered true or false. They are like maps, and a map cannot be true or false."

And this is indeed a fairly standard instrumentalist-antirealist manifesto.

It seems to me problems and paradoxes with extrapolating from the micro to the macro level only arise if one assumes a realist stance, as Schrödinger and Einstein did. From their perspective, if it's true in the quantum world then, by extrapolation, it must be true for the world tout court; true in the world as a whole  . . . and the quantum fuzzy weirdness applies to trees as it does to quarks.

But the antirealist (apparently just about everyone here) does not think it's true at the quantum level; it's just a model, not to be taken literally. The antirealist may not address questions about the reality of unobservable theoretical posits. It does not follow, however, that Niels Bohr, say, would deny reality to a very observable angry chimp banging on his windshield.

Einstein, the realist, tossed and turned at night wondering whether the Moon ceases to have a determinate existence--a mind-independent existence--when no one is looking  . . . as QM realistically interpreted implies (as far as I understand).

Bohr, meanwhile, who did not interpret the theory realistically, presumably slept like a log.

So my question for you guys is: Why should the reality of chimpanzees, rocks, soccer balls, and even Frank Sinatra cause you any sleepless nights . . . unless you believe quantum physics, or any science which posits unobservables, is literally true?

What's keeping you awake? Shouldn't your position, the position of any scientific antirealist who is also a commonsense realist, be:

"Of course the Moon and soccer balls and enraged chimpanzees are real" -- you
"But what about quantum physics?" - some pest
"Oh, that's just a model. You mustn't take these things literally. Goodnight!" -- you

 

No doubt I'm missing something obvious here and making a fool of myself. But, hey, we live and learn. Your explanation would be greatly appreciated.

I've assumed above from various comments in the thread that you are both more antirealistically inclined in these matters, at least with respect to QM. Forgive me if I'm misreading. If you're not antirealists yourselves, what do you think a typical antirealist would say? 

In the OP, I tried to explain the difference between (what I called) commonsense realism and scientific realism. One who assumes the latter position, denying the reality of quarks perhaps, does not necessarily hold to the former position and deny the reality of enraged chimpanzees.
 

Edited by Davy_Jones
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9 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

As I've been told time and time again by the antirealistically-inclined physicists here, "We don't deal with truth and reality. We are not even trying to generate true theories or describe reality. All we do is construct models which, to varying degrees, yield accurate desciptions of what can be observed. Our models are not to be taken as representations of reality; our models are not to be considered true or false. They are like maps, and a map cann

You've been told that because that is the way it is. You failing to see or accept that, does not invalidate it.

10 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

What's keeping you awake? Shouldn't your position be:

It's not keeping me awake at all. It's apparently you having sleepless nights and coming back with further confusing rhetoric, rather then seeing the obvious, as has been explained.

13 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

No doubt I'm missing something obvious here and making a fool of myself. But, hey, we live and learn. Your explanation would be greatly appreciated.

Well redeem your self, by telling us what gravity really is with an all inclusive observational model, over all regions of spacetime, in any situation.

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21 minutes ago, TheVat said:

@Davy_Jones, I'm fond of QBism,  to get around the troubles of quantum realist interpretations.  Limited time,  so I'll leave it there.   

(Quantum Bayesianism is the longer original term. )  

 

Oh, I know QM is a major headache to the realist. She extrapolates from quantum reality to macro-reality and gets caught up in all kinds of paradoxes and puzzles.

The question I'm asking here, though, is: Why should the scientific antirealist (like almost everyone here it seems), if he is a commonsense realist too, squirm with questions about the reality of soccer balls (as you were doing, I think)? After all, the scientific antirealist doesn't believe all that quantum stuff is true. It's just a model.

Seems to me the obvious answer he (the latter) should give is "Of course soccer balls are real. Why would you ask such a silly question?".

Edited by Davy_Jones
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1 hour ago, Davy_Jones said:

The question I'm asking here, though, is: Why should the scientific antirealist (like almost everyone here it seems), if he is a commonsense realist too, squirm with questions about the reality of soccer balls (as you were doing, I think)? After all, the scientific antirealist doesn't believe all that quantum stuff is true. It's just a model.

Scientific anti realist, realist, truth, reality etc etc 😁You're fond of pidgeon holing people as someone previously mentioned earlier.  Are you into the supernatural? I mean you are approaching this stuff, and avoiding the question, much as a religious fanatic does. 

That question again..."telling us what gravity really is with an all inclusive observational model, over all regions of spacetime, in any situation".

 

Afterall, as you are inferring, everyone else is wrong, and so many scientists/philosophers [that you have misinterpreted] support your stance, so should be easy for you.

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An essay by Aminatta Forna on the pigeonholing of writers was the  inspiration for this scenario. Illustration: Tom Gauld | Library cartoon,  Books, Jealous of me

Edited by beecee
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