[extropy-chat] Be[ing] or Not Be[ing]

scerir scerir at libero.it
Mon Apr 19 13:38:57 UTC 2004

From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky"

> I recall reading a secondhand assertion that the medieval theologians were
> arguing over whether the number was infinite or finite, that is, whether
> space was infinitely divisible.

The Aquinas wrote about that too ( in the 'Summa', part 1, see quaestiones
50-53, http://www.gmu.edu/departments/fld/CLASSICS/aquinas.p1.html or, in
English, at http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1.htm )

Surprising enough, angels and quantum objects have more than one
property in common.

<It is befitting an angel to be in a place;
yet an angel and a body are said to be in a place
in quite a different sense. A body is said to be
in a place in such a way that it is applied
to such place according to the contact of
dimensive quantity; but there is no such quantity
in the angels, for theirs is a virtual one.
Consequently an angel is said to be in a corporeal
place by application of the angelic power
in any manner whatever to any place.
Accordingly there is no need for saying that an angel
can be deemed commensurate with a place, or that he occupies
a space in the continuous; for this is proper to a located
body which is endowed with dimensive quantity.
In similar fashion it is not necessary on this account
for the angel to be contained by a place;
because an incorporeal substance virtually
contains the thing with which it comes into contact,
and is not contained by it: for the soul is in the body
as containing it, not as contained by it.
In the same way an angel is said to be in a place
which is corporeal, not as the thing contained,
but as somehow containing it.>

Aquinas' angels, like wavefunctions, are forms, are images
of procedures (by which a system is made to interact with
another system), are indivisible and, at the same time,
extended objects. Two angels cannot be in the same place,
but they have virtual positions, and can be in an extended place.
They can go, from one place to another, being unobservable
in between (positivism or instrumentalism). They also <exist
in exceeding great number, far beyond all material multitude.>

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