[extropy-chat] Role of Observer is not Relevant

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Mar 28 00:41:56 UTC 2007

Jef writes

> To be meaningful, any statement necessarily entails a context, and
> context is necessarily subjective; it always only represents a partial
> view.  Is the following sequence random or is it meaningful? Depends
> entirely on context.
> "01101101011001010110000101101110011010010110111001100111011001100111010101101100"

The meaning of that sequence, or whether it is random, surely does,
as you say, depend on context.  But I can assert the following

S:  "The string above contains no substring consisting entirely
      of seven 1's."

I say that S does not depend on subjectivity or context or
what-have-you.  S ought to be regarded as simply true.

True, you have to know what is being said by the sentence,
the meaning, and to understand that an aspect of reality is being
addressed, and this does requires knowing English and all. You
probably want to say that S (so that I don't have to type it
out again) cannot be separated from being expressed in
English, from depending on a comp-sci meaning of "substring",
and so on. 

Here we probably just differ.  To me, S is only *about*
that blasted string.  The intent is never to focus on S itself,
but only what it's about. S merely represents a true state of 
affairs. To those who can understand it, S is making a true
claim about something entirely divorced from S, namely,
that string you composed.

> In scientific communication, every effort is made to specify the
> context as explicitly and completely as practical, while recognizing
> that it can never be complete.
> When philosophizing about the limits of meaning this inherent
> subjectivity becomes most critical, even if not apparent.  And when
> the philosophical subject turns to subjectivity itself, people often
> embark down the recursive rabbit hole futilely looking for an exit
> that can't possibly exist.

To me, most of the excursions where we turn focus away from
what we are talking about and instead towards the representations
themselves of those things we are talking about  invite infinite regress,
and lack of clarity.

Here is another sentence that I like to throw down in discussions
like this, which I call H, the Great Hawaiian Truth:

H:  "Some people have been to Hawaii."

To me, it's just a cardinal mistake to either try to dispute its
truth, or to try to complicate a very simple proposition by 
muddying the waters with notions of context or subjectivity.

> George Berkeley's epistemology was idealist (as yours seems to be. I
> recall you favor the idea of platonic existence of numbers, which is
> symptomatic of the same mindset.)  Mine takes a pragmatic form.

No, I'm a pretty hard-core realist. Just a *mathematical* Platonist,
though I'll concede that it's probably impossible to completely 
isolate the mathematics from the rest of all ideas.

> As a pragmatic realist, I am saying that we achieve best results by
> considering something to exist only to the extent that it is observed,
> and observation is always only indirect.

So you mean to say that S Doradus doesn't have planets because
they have not been observed?   What if---per impossible to you?
---they do exist and they nonetheless affect something that is
observed?  And what if they're only the sizes of atoms, and don't
perceptively affect anything?  Sounds to me like you are trying to
deconstruct common sense.

Here is an Einstein quote for you, before you say anything about
that last:

"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday
thinking. It is for this reason that the critical thinking of the physicist
cannot possibly be restricted to the examination of the concept of
his own specific field.  He cannot proceed without considering
critically  a much more difficult problem, the problem of analyzing
the nature of everyday thinking."           ---"Physics and Reality"

>> Has there been any miscommunication here?  I get the feeling that, to
>> use my description above, Stathis has reverted to talking about the
>> process P...which happens to contain an (impotent) experiencer,
>> who is, shall we say, only reflecting on certain memories and abstract
>> thoughts and isn't perceiving anything outside of himself.
> I found it very difficult to parse the preceding paragraph, but one
> element stood out:  Rather than saying it "contains an experiencer",
> can you see it as "expressing an experiencer"? Do you see an essential
> difference?

Well, I've already made one mistake by saying that a system has an "internal
experiencer".  All I meant, was "the system has an experience", but it caused

In the instance you give above, I should not have said that a *process*
contains an experiencer; indeed, that is confusing.  Perhaps "expresses"
would have been a better word choice, as you suggest.  Or maybe just
"that process is having an experience".


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