[ExI] The Reality of Categories

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Mon Jul 16 01:21:02 UTC 2007

Lee wrote:
> Stathis writes
> > [Lee wrote]
> >> Categories exist and are real.  And firmly maintaining that the old
> >> oak tree (before it burned down) was *not* the rock in your garden
> >> is as ontologically correct as it is to say that the rock in your garden
> >> that changed only infinitesimally *is* the same rock as it was yesterday.
> >
> > Only because, by convention, we agree that a few atoms missing and a
> > very large displacement in space and time are still consistent with
> > the term "same rock".
> Are you saying that a rock sitting next to a tree have only conventional
> differences?  Yes indeed:  quantum fields are all that there is, and we
> do not anymore have the Newtonian vacuum of space in which objects
> exist. But these *lumps* the the quantum fields are real lumps, and
> very distinct.  When you write "by convention, we agree"  you surely
> admit that any intelligent evolutionarily derived organism will detect
> these same real categories that we do.  Are you a nominalist?

It is my understanding that the physical system present in the
universe could be defined via categorics, but that because of the
problems with measurement that we can never attain the complete
picture of just what anything is. Otherwise we would have no need for
the process of science, or as a website I recently passed by wrote,
the "goal-resolution-recursion" process.

An interesting line of thought to pursue is to apply the same thinking
behind Pascal's wager without the religious toppings. Say that there
are two possible states- either the universe has real categories
backing it up, or it does not. Given no meaning to the universe, our
assignment of meaning to things becomes (heh) meaningless. Given
meaning, our nonassignment would be meaningful in the 'bad' way. You
could call it an "idealized probability" of 25% but then C. S. Peirce
might start rolling in his grave.

> I'm reading a book "How is Quantum Field Theory Possible?"
> which makes a strong case that QFT supports and affirms realism.
> Lee

Ooh, do tell. How is the book so far? Recently I have been reading up
on QFT after learning some of the basics of QED. Virtual particles as
mediators of "fields" is really intriguing to me, since we get to come
up with various explanations that (so far) work instead of resulting
to mystical permeating fields.

(Should I assign bonus points to he who can name the extropian son of
a famous QED physicist ?)

- Bryan

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