[extropy-chat] Role of Observer is not Relevant

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Fri Apr 6 18:10:00 UTC 2007

On 4/6/07, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 4/1/07, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> > On 4/1/07, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > On 3/30/07, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Did the number 0x0bd11a0bb188f291956549705169a996110841d4 exist?
> > >
> > > ### Yes! Always and forever, timeless, just as any element of the
> > > platonic plenum.
> >
> > Rafal, I don't pretend to be able to dissuade anyone from any abstract
> > belief, but along with infinite primes and infinite variations on
> > infinities, do you also believe that "redness" "exists" in the
> > "platonic plenum?"
> ### Yes, I can even see it sometimes.

Thanks, your response contributes significantly to my understanding of
your position.  If I may ask another calibrating question:  Do you
have an opinion on the validity of subjective Bayesian probability?

> There is a problem with believing in too few entities - if one insists
> that entities not proven to exist should be assumed not to exist, then
> one necessarily places himself at the conceptual center of the
> universe.

I agree with Einstein's statement that explanations should be as
simple as possible, but not simpler.

My POV is that *every* agent is necessarily at the "conceptual center"
of their universe, and by recognizing this one forms a more accurate
model of "the way things work", formerly known as "reality."

Since understanding is essentially modeling, at various levels of
abstraction, it seems obvious to me that a model gains nothing (and
necessarily loses by misallocating its probability mass which must sum
to unity) by positing entities for which there is no evidence.  This
is not the same as denying the possibility of other entities, (indeed,
acknowledgment of the inherent incompleteness of any model implies the
existence of entities outside the model) but only saying there is
nothing to say about them, so for *all* practical purposes, they don't

Let's keep in mind though that all observation is necessarily indirect
to some extent so it's not as if we're ruling out any of the fringe
observations, highly indirect and nearly in the noise that must be
included in our observational unity.

> If I say that there is nothing beyond the most distant
> object I can see, then my position is very special.

We should distinguish between "saying there is nothing", and "there is
nothing to say".
-- Zen Jef

If I were to say "there is nothing", that would imply a claim of
additional information outside my model, and such a claim is clearly
incoherent. I am left with "nothing to say." This seems to me the
strongest possible argument for the necessity of the subjective point
of view.

The logical incoherence in your rendition of platonism may be more
apparent if we point out that by positing the "existence" of
unobservable entities, we must admit that there's nothing to
distinguish between highly probable unobservable entities and highly
improbable unobservable entities.  Therefore, it seems to me, the
"platonic plenum" amounts to a meaningless mush.

> Since I don't think I am that special, I am forced to assume that
> there are entities in existence (i.e. having at least one property)
> that I have not observed, nor will ever be able to observe or think of
> even in principle. This leads me to modal realism, and therefore, yes,
> "redness" exists.

To address your repeated point that you are not justified in thinking
you are special, I certainly agree.  You take this to mean that you
are forced to reason from an approximation of an objective view.  I
take it to mean that any agent reasons from an expanding subjective
view.  The essential difference is that my view is ontologically

- Jef

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