[ExI] What can be said to be "wrong", and what is "Truth"

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 3 22:02:56 UTC 2008

On Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 12:29 PM, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> It's the unfounded assumption of the existence of an objective point
> of view (which some people here get), or even of an objective measure
> of where one stands in relation to a hypothetical asymptotic objective
> point of view (which fewer people get.)  And the point I try to convey
> is that from the point of view of any necessarily subjective system of
> observation, there is no rational justification for any claim that our
> present model of truth is nearer of farther from Truth.

OK.  Can you restate "objective point of view" in solely subjective
terms?  I consider this an aside from thread.  If there is no reality
in a supposed objective view, why/how have we become so dependent on
it?  The same could be asked of nearly every effort humanity has
employed since inception that we can recognize today as an incoherent
crutch.  (and have already been mentioned)

> ..., or to *any* model of how things Really Work.  It's not just that
> our language is necessarily imperfect, or that our measurements are
> necessarily imperfect, but that fundamentally we lack any basis for
> knowing how far up or down we are on the tree of subjective reality.

How pervasive is the objective view- that you speak of "how far up or
down" when the measurement can only be made subjectively.  I believe I
understand what you mean here.  I comment on it to illustrate that a
complete deconstruction of "objective references" requires something
better to replace its [incomplete|flawed] utility.

> And that's perfectly all right.  Indeed -- and this is my point --
> we're better off in practical terms to acknowledge this inherent
> subjectivity, removing the unwarranted conceptual bump from our model,
> to reduce the friction involved in further updating our model in a
> world of accelerating change.

That is perhaps the most succinctly you have stated your position of
which I am aware.  You might appreciate that it contains zero
occurrences of "increasingly".

> of the more general principle I'm trying to convey.)  Now, in an
> environment of accelerating change, focus must shift from "solving
> problems" specified explicitly or implicitly within a seldom changing
> or punctuated but slowly changing model of reality, to "improving our
> problem solvers" applicable to staying in the Red Queen's Race.

Yes.  I accept your proposition.  I am convinced.  No doubt many of us
have felt this way without being able to express it as you have.  What
now?  You have made an observation and confirmed that the problem you
defined was existent in another (subjective) frame of reference.  Do
you have a proposal for getting to this point in less effort for our
next conversation?  Does it have general applicability for dealing
with someone with no a priori context?

>> You said, "you MUST have a subjective point of view."  I agree.  And so must you.
> Huh.  I thought it should be clear that I meant any "you".

Sorry, those primitive statements were rhetorical devices to begin
establishing the ground I intended to cover.

> Seems you're dealing in superpositions again.  My point is that every
> intentional agent must, by definition, have a point of view.  No


> abandoning, merging, or superimposing of POV is involved.  I'll assume
> you've already read my follow-up post, a somewhat poetic expression
> using the metaphor of a tree.  It fully accommodates the necessarily
> subjective view of each individual leaf (agent, human, man, woman,
> athlete, artist, robot, dolphin, dog, ...) interacting with others in
> its local environment, discovering agreement on the basis of their
> branches combining with increasing probability in the direction of the
> (assumed) root of reality.

Yes.  Order comes from the "logical" realization of leafs that they're
part of branches?  Is that a perspective of the relationship between
branches and leaves?  On this fractal metaphor is there some reason to
limit discussion only to the conceptual leaps you illustrated?  Why
aren't leaves directly compared with the trunk?  They both share the
"common reality" (tree) and have "evolved aspects of their nature
[...] in common."  I'm not sure how they can "discover agreement on
the basis of their
branches combining with increasing probability in the direction of the
(assumed) root of reality."  I suggest there is to way to assume a
root of reality any more than it is possible to discuss the reality of
an objective point of view.  There is also no reason there would be
any more relationship between two leaves on a single tree than any two
trees in a forest.
  I return to a fractal nature without an objective grounding.
Imagine a Menger sponge composed of Necker cubes.  Pick any arbitrary
boundary then go one unit over.  Where are you?

> Thus there is an inherent basis for increasing probability of
> increasing agreement on increasingly fundamental principles of
> "reality" supporting the ongoing actions of any group of agents.  This
> is the central point of my "Arrow of Morality" message.

We've been discussing an arrow of morality?  Is there only one arrow?
How is the direction determined?  If there's more than one, do we add
their vectors to determine net progress?  No wonder we never get
anywhere.  :)

> P.S. This morning I came across a reminder of possible relevance:
> Most people are not intuitively comfortable with the concept of
> mathematical induction, by which reasoning in terms of X can be shown
> to be absolutely mathematically true regardless of the actual X.  Its
> exact analogue in programming is recursion, with which many otherwise
> competent programmers remain uncomfortable.  This has a direct bearing
> on my point.

It's turtles all the way down
It's turtles all the way up
It's turtles all the way forward and back
"I like turtles"

Not as poetic as your tree... I really had no way out  :)

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