What is it about woo that upsets you?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I have to admit that I haven't read Tegmark's book. (Nor am I really motivated to.) But that being said, I get the impression that Tegmark is promoting a very strong version of old-time Platonism. Mathematical truths 'exist' in some mysterious abstract way that accounts for their objectivity ( the fact that mathematicians around the world agree with each other about the validity of particular proofs). That's not all that controversial (most mathematicians are Platonists I think) and it's something that I'm inclined to agree with).

    But as I understand it, Tegmark seems to go further than that, by insisting that this hypothetical Platonic abstract world of mathematics is all that really exists. (Plato himself probably would have agreed.) Everything else is reducible to it. When we look at physical objects, what we are really looking at is mathematics. While that idea does resemble currently trendy structural realism in metaphysics, I'm not entirely prepared to buy it.

    I'd like to know how Tegmark explains how particular mathematics is somehow instantiated in particular physical events, while other mathematics isn't and remains entirely conceptual among the mathematicians. And what about all of life and reality that doesn't seem so easily quantifiable? (Maybe I should read the book, eh?)

    I've said before and I continue to believe that a lot of this is an artifact of how theoretical physicists are trained. What they are taught in their classrooms is all mathematics, Hamiltonians and Lagrangians and Hermitians so on. If they encounter a physical problem, the procedure they are taught is to plug the variables in the problem into their mathematics, turn the crank and produce a solution. So it's probably natural to start thinking that the mathematics is what's most truly real and most fundamental in reality, and the world of experience just kind of emerges from the mathematics somehow.

    I'm not aware of how, or even whether, Tegmark works consciousness into his speculations. The quantum tubules and the cell-biology stuff isn't Tegmark's as far as I know. That's W4U channeling Hameroff. Tegmark and Hameroff are W4U's big ideas at the moment, and he's trying to work them together even if they don't quite fit.

    In Tegmark's version, our physical reality seems to be an emanation, the physical instantiation, of the abstract realm of mathematics that theoretical physicists are always scrawling on their chalkboards. (Remember RPenner's posts?)

    I'm reminded of Neoplatonism, where physical reality and consciousness all kind of emanate from higher metaphysical planes of being, each of which is more real than the ones below it. The Neoplatonists thought that there were a number of "higher planes" (we see that idea in modern occultism), ascending through a World Soul or a 'Demiurge' that creates our reality, up to a higher Plato-inspired level of the timeless unchanging Forms (mathematics seems to originate here). And finally even the multiplicity of forms emanate like light out of their transcendent Source, the single indescribable "One".

    I'm not sure that Tegmark and his supporters are even aware that he, and theoretical physics along with him, are distant descendants of a much older intellectual tradition that also gave rise to a great deal of the Western occult tradition.

    The two are one and the same thing in his mind. It's his grand idea. The tables and the chairs are mathematics, made solid. Solidity is just physical interaction, simply more mathematics in his scheme and he no doubt has equations to "prove" it.
     
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I agree, why speculate if the subject is science? What is, isn't all there will be but until there's more, why speculate?
     
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  5. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe there is an inherent desire in us all to wonder how we fit into the universe. Is the universe in control or are we?

    Maybe not all of us

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    lol
     
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not against speculating or dreaming or thinking or whatever, I'm just saying if the subject happens to be what currently is, then speculating excessively about what might be (without doing anything about it) is a different topic.
     
  8. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I hear you. Would that be considered “woo,” to you?
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Nor am I against it. What frustrates me is the sheer number of threads that get derailed by this one-note song.
     
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  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Not necessarily. If we are talking about the physics of the Moon and the subject turns to what if there were more gravity on the Moon, that's a different subject. There isn't "more" gravity on the Moon.

    Speculating about the technology that could be incorporated into lunar buildings to simulate gravity (even if not currently possible or feasible) wouldn't be woo. Speculating about an idea that is a little out there is still not woo as the person proposing it isn't "certain" that he is right, with no evidence.

    Obvious, woo isn't a defined term so you can define any way that you wish.
     
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  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    That's the main point. Not only the one note but the one note played over and over for page after page.

    That applies to many threads on this site and it's why I appreciate when more people like Wegs come along and participate. I come and go on this site a lot just like Wegs (and many others I'm sure). When there is more "conventional" discussion (more fruitful) going on, I stay around longer and enjoy it much more.

    When it's two people beating the same dead horse for hundreds of posts in thread after thread, I just pass over that. Many times when I check this site I have to just pass over all the new posts.
     
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  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Leading to the inevitable follow-up question: So what? So what if the universe has "inherent mathematical potential"? How does that change this (i.e. any given) discussion? We still study it exactly the same way. It is a philosophical issue.

    I'd be perfectly happy if W4U had a thread that delved into the implications of it, but in other threads it's just a hijack. (He thinks I'm mad at him. I'm not. I'm just ... full.)
     
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  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Doesn't the difference consist in whether an empirical model best suits reality or whether a mathematical model does? If reality is fundamentally physical in nature, then it is empirical in nature. If is fundamentally mental in nature, then it is mathematical in nature. It is still a metaphysical issue, but one that is no less crucial to understanding reality.
     
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  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Amen.
     
  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I agree. The return of wegs has instantly brought this forum to life. I don't know how she does it.

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  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    She used to 'fool' me. She seemed very agreeable and "sane"

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    and then when I thought we were getting along she would turn on me and accuse me of "being mean"

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    or something and start talking about this was why she didn't like online discussions and I would be let wondering..."what just happened"?

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    Now she seems to get the ebb and flow of conversation more although she was upset initially that I didn't discuss things in a manner which pleased her (I was "lecturing"). OK, just busting her chops a bit. I'm guessing that she can be "sensitive" sometimes online and read malice where there was none intended.

    I would like a whole forum full of Wegs however.

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  17. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I could do without the mannerisms of the Jans, Tiassas and Quanum Quacks of this world...but that's just me.

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  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    One might concisely explore the tangled mess for the heck of it... First dispensing with the formal make-believe that the rational "rooftop of inferential products" is either fundamental or the starting-point, a pretending that we never had to climb-up up a ladder from the intuitive or concrete ground below of given sensory presentations.

    IOW, the original external slash extrospective "reality" humans are extracting the models and ideational representations from is "existence" as phenomenal appearances (what we immediately see, hear, feel, smell, etc). Any other kind of "be-ing" is inferred or a reification of the aforementioned conceptual schemes and thinking.

    Quantitative and other technical "language systems" and their "principles" are description (simulation using symbols/signs), not the original perceived/measured entities and activities they characterize. Human interpretation and intent is involved in both abstracting slash formulating those conceptions from the perceived/measured affairs of the world and projecting them back onto it. Like associating an experienced object like an apple with the word or category of "fruit", representational systems can be very useful and effective. But they are inventions, not the original furniture of the non-described world.

    Since any (supposed non-mental) metaphysical existence behind appearances lacks experience to validate it in a commonsense manner -- to make it immediately real, present, or "shown" as the appearances are -- then speculations about such requires the substitution of rational activity and symbolic systems like mathematics to represent it (especially in the context of, say, scientific realism or whatever is more than just idle conjecture).

    But that doesn't mean that any being-hood which is prior in rank to the phenomenal appearances style of be-ing would literally consist of or correspond to those abstractions used. That's one knock against mathematical (metaphysical) realism or treating such as Kant's noumena or the general-form entities of the ancient Greeks' intellectual world -- that it is naively overstepping itself in jumping to conclusions like that. (That's "metaphysics" again in the context of being a proposal of what existence is like behind the facade of everyday perception or brain representations -- with the latter in turn being loaded with that directional bias coming from the "rooftop of inferential products", which deems itself to be more fundamental than the ground of given experiences we climbed up from.)
     
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  19. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    woo does not upset me nor make me angry.
    The thing is that when woo is passed out/off as science, and then poor demented uneducated and mentally lazy wretches repeat it as though it were science, that leaves me with conflicting views of pity and scorn.
    For some people, acknowledging what they do not know seems a real challenge.

    A couple years ago, I lost my local intellectual foil to cancer. We had great fun challenging each other and arguing over "scientific facts".
     
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  20. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Pixie dust. It's all about the pixie dust.

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    I'm still upset over that. Just kidding. :=}

    I think you're being too generous, but thank you! We all make the forum what it is.

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  21. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    ''Directional bias.'' Absolutely, that's a relevant point that I'm not sure has come up yet, in this thread.
     
  22. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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  23. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

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    Are you being Pixiephobic?

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