A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

Happy Birthday To The Blog, Blogging Will Be Light

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on March 10, 2007


It’s been one year from the opening of A Brood Comb. Many thanks to the readers and all helpful comments and emails in the last year.

The blogging will be light in future on this blog. I feel that I need to think more on some issues before posting further, and that will take lot of time, lot of reading, learning and thinking. Also, I have some professional projects that I need to spend more time on (Which in past few years consisted mostly of developing of the LCMS system in Xyleme).

In this post let me just recapitulate some of the views I hold in general.

1.The notions of physics are incommensurable with the everyday notions of color, sounds, intentionality (“thinking of”, “seeing X”, “fearing X”, etc…), emotions, and so on. The project of reducing the second to the first seems to me as impossible as the project of the Pythagoreans of reducing everything to a math notions. And it seems to me also as analogous one, number being one abstraction, and physics adding new ones like mass, position, time, momentum, energy, and so on.

2.Dualism in general is accepting this given position, but instead of taking that the problem is in the impossibility to reduce the world to a set of abstract notions used in physics, it takes the assumption of “physical world as ground” as given, and tries to place those other notions in the realm of mental, which is seen as separate. The problem of interaction and the lack of it (in epiphenomenalism) instead of solving, produces a lot of new issues.

3.So, instead of these views, I think that the more plausible view is where we accept a richer world as a ground instead of that one described by physics. What is meant by richer is open for discussion. At least, it should be as rich as the world of naive realism and include the notions of which we are directly aware as mentioned in the point 1. Then we talk about physical description of that world, without reducing it to merely physical world.

4.In relation to 3., an account of the relation is needed between the world and its physical description. In simplest form this relation is understandable as one of abstraction – any measurement of physical quantity being abstraction (in sense that one ignores lot of things, and attends just to one specific aspect). More specifically measurements are connected to the “ideal measurement apparatus” – what constitutes a measurement of time, what constitutes a measurement of length, of speed, and so on. I take seriously the possibility that if one understands exactly those measurements, and the symmetries that appear as a result of the nature of those measurements – that lot of what we call “physical laws” will be merely a consequence of the nature of the concepts of physics (connected to the the ideal measurements concepts). If that is so, those “physical laws” will tell us about the world just as much as the mathematical theorems tells us.

5.As an abstract description, the physical can’t describe fully the world. I think that that phenomena as quantum mechanical uncertainty is related to this thing. In describing the richness of the world through abstract categories, necessarily there will be a missing information. In connection to the nature of measurements mentioned in 4, I hope it to be possible for this to be understood more clearly, by appeal to the nature of the physical measurements and their relations.

6.In relation to 4 – instead of the mystical relations of dualism, in this picture we have a possibility of relation between the world and its physical description (or any other abstract description), and we are expecting in this picture for whatever is happening in the world, to be also visible at the abstract levels. So, even the physical laws might be just on level of mathematical theorems (i.e. tell us nothing about the world), whatever is happening in the world will be visible on physical level, and more than that the physical laws will hold (for the description given on that level). However, as mentioned in 5, some things are lost, and thus we can talk about two things… “Abstractifacts”… things whose functioning is connected merely to some abstract categories – and the human made machines would fall in this category (also the procedures like those for multiplying two decimal numbers on paper would fall here). And real things whose functioning is not reducible to those abstract categories. The humans and animals would fall in this category, namely are not abstractifacts, as the possibility of their to access the non-abstract notions can’t be analyzed in terms of abstract notions. A consequence of this would be for example that zombies are impossible, because they can’t be created based on abstract models.

7.It is possible for the subject to become aware of the world and the relations of the notions used to describe it (including the metaphysical, epistemological and other notions), and only as far this is possible, the philosophy is possible. In such way, I’m inclined towards idealism and seeing the world as a reasonable place. As, in this view the “problematic” things aren’t pushed under the carpet of the mental, nor are (wrongly) equated with physical abstractions, but are in the world, and are accessible to the subjects in that world, the issue of other minds is also handled not by appeal to everyone having theories about the intentional behavior and mental processes of the other, but by learning about real phenomena in the (unreduced) world – phenomena which can be noticed.

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Even there will not be lot of posts, I will check and maintain the blog including the list of philosophy lecture videos, which gets 50-100 hits every day, and the blog aggregator that gets around 20-30 visitors every day. You are welcome to submit a link to a new video, or link to a new philosophy blog to be added to the aggregator (or maybe some other feature/change you would like to see there)…

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