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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 1:46 am 
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After invoking Maude's Law, I'll answer this one because it is interesting and not invoking any dieties.

Forrest wrote:
Slamlander wrote:
Deterministic, in the software context, is code that is absolutely predictable, like ones and zeros. Quantum Mechanics doesn't enter into it and is irrelevent. ALL digital systems have no choice but to be fully deterministic. Therefore, we cannot use them to build AIs. BTW, this was also the context of our previous discussion along these lines.

Analog Neural nets do something that digital neural nets cannot do and that is to have an infinite variation between two values. Digital systems, because they are digital systems, have a finite and fixed number of values within the same context.


This is precisely what I mean by us using different notions of "deterministic": analog systems, in classical (pre-quantum) models, were still considered fully deterministic, in the sense that physics and philosophy (e.g. questions regarding free will, consciousness, etc) use.

Other than the fact that I am still convinced that such mislaid concepts of determinism are still bending a knee towards distant Rome (those spouting non-determinism were once burnt at the stake, as agents for Satan, the Lord of Chaos. Please take that for the slightly-red herring it is :wink: ).

Were I to write a decent paper on the subject, the core statement would be:
Quote:
Digital systems are mathematically discontinuous, by definition, there is no way to implement a true function in a digital system where f(x)=y can yield all possible values for y, rather only an approximation that yields strictly determined y values, at strictly determined step-values of x and intermediate values of x cannot yield other than those strictly determined y values.


Of course, there would be loads of mathematical proof of the above and as I said, I don't have the time to write such a paper. I would hope that I would not have to prove that discontinuous functions are not functions, by definition, as one learns that in first semester Calculus.

There is also the further statement:
Quote:
Such discontinuous functions are fully deterministic by their nature, due to the fact that their output is strictly limited to yield only the pre-determined results.


This is a more difficult proof, but it is possible. However, it would take even more work than the previous statement. Note the use of deteminism here. It is not quite the same as used in the quantum world and indeed irrelevent to it. This would be a proof against the possibility of using digital systems to build an Artificial Intelligence. Essentially, most, if not all, AI workers realised this in the late 80's and that's why work in the field has fallen off so rapidly. Hopes are now being pinned on work in neural nets, begun largely at MIT, as a possible source of a new computing model that would allow us to build an AI.

Forrest wrote:
I believe I asked this question before, but I'll ask again: in your sense of "deterministic", assuming quantum theory to be false (that is, assuming that the world is fully deterministic in the physical, philosophical sense), would weather patterns be a deterministic system or not?


Weather patterns are chaotic and therefore barely deterministic. They are like Three-card Monte, where the observer becomes sufficiently confused by the motions that they lose track of the queen. However, weather systems are analog systems, and not digital. Indeed, one could argue against the efficacy of computational climate models, based on the arguments above and I have indeed made such arguments. No amount of processing power will negate the aforementioned arguments.

Forrest wrote:
Also, do you distinguish your sense of "indeterminism" from <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonlinear">nonlinearity</A>, or is the subject of the forgoing wiki link the sort of thing you're talking about?


That is an interesting question (THE interesting question). Frankly, I wasn't considering it, as the aforementioned can atest. I would observe, however, that one cannot have any linear or non-linear effects when all the base functions are discontinuous. Using proper analog neural nets, however, it is quite possible to have both and indeed, some of the neural net effects appear to be non-linear and therein lies the hope for eventual Artifical Intelligence.

I might point out that there will probably be some point where quantum effects will enter into the effort. One of the new computational models is a Quantum Computer. No, it isn't Science Fiction, early work in that area does exist (IBM Watson Labs and Hitachi Data Systems) and is showing quite some promise.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 9:07 am 
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Slamlander wrote:
PsionicsNOTMagic wrote:
Eh. I doubt anyone here has a degree in physics.
...
Please note: The entire post above this line is a joke, except the first sentence.

The fact of the matter is, there are those that say that, for us to have free will, God blinds himself to the far-off future. This seems to be true, as with Satan, Lucifer, and many events on Earth in the Old Testament.


I might point out that the Bible that you mention is the best selling and most popular work, of fiction, of all known history. But, it is a work of fiction and it is completely irrelevent to the current topic. However, it does bring me to invoke Maude's law.

Maude wrote:
In any forum discussing free will, eventually someone brings in notions of God, or Goddess, and tries to build argument around such a mythical and mystical being. When such happens, the thread may be considered a dead-end. The presence of such a mythically omnipotent being simply trumps all other argument and the other participants are better off playing 'jacks' on the nearest freeway.


Thank you.


What I'm saying is that, even if we assume a being such as God exists, there is still the possibility of free will as it is thought of.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 10:43 am 
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Slamlander wrote:
Other than the fact that I am still convinced that such mislaid concepts of determinism are still bending a knee towards distant Rome (those spouting non-determinism were once burnt at the stake, as agents for Satan, the Lord of Chaos. Please take that for the slightly-red herring it is :wink: ).

That's odd, because most incompatiblists I've heard of or met (who are almost universally indeterminists, since they don't want to deny the existence of free will) are also Cartesian Dualists, and think of free will as some spooky metaphysical ability - a much more mystical, religious way of thinking than the "the universe is a giant deterministic machine, and free will is just a neat functional characteristic of these particular hunks of matter called humans" which most Enlightenment-era philosophers spouted. Never heard anything about indeterminists being chastised by the church before...

Regarding your notion of determination, it seems you're saying a system is deterministic if it has only a discrete set of possible outputs, rather than a continuous range of them, correct? Could the function that gets you outputs from inputs by truly random, and the system still be deterministic then? So say you have f(x) = round(x*rand,0), with your rand value coming from a true random source like brownian motion (presuming that such really is truly random). Your function is only going to have integer outputs, getting you a discontinuous (and therefore deterministic, in your sense) function, but which integer outputs you get could not be calculated solely from the inputs (nor could it be calculated from knowledge of the entire state of the universe just prior to sampling your rand value), giving you a random (and therefore indeterministic, in my sense) function.

So you seem to be saying simply that artificial intelligence requires analog systems, even though those analog systems could be deterministic in my sense. I'll admit that I don't know enough about programming to weigh in either way there, though some earlier responses to you sounded like a plausible answer to why digital systems could replicate the necessary features you say we need analog systems for. But that's not my forte so I leave that to you guys. However, while I haven't read much Sarte, who seems to be your favorite author on this topic (there's this unfortunate disconnect between Continental and Analytic philosopher; we don't read each other's works), but I know that your sort of determinism is not the sort spoken of by any of the modern philosophers, or, amongst contemporary ones, any of the analytic branch that we study over here. When we talk about determinism, we're not talking about discrete vs continuous functions at all. We're talking only about whether the inputs entail the outputs.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 10:46 am 
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Slamlander wrote:
I might point out that the Bible that you mention is the best selling and most popular work, of fiction, of all known history. But, it is a work of fiction and it is completely irrelevent to the current topic.


Whether or not the Bible is fictitious or not is a matter of debate in and of itself.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 1:30 pm 
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Yorik wrote:
Slamlander wrote:
I might point out that the Bible that you mention is the best selling and most popular work, of fiction, of all known history. But, it is a work of fiction and it is completely irrelevent to the current topic.

Whether or not the Bible is fictitious or not is a matter of debate in and of itself.

Big chunks of it are an excellent historical source.It's just the early supernatural stuff that is shaky. Of course, you always like to verify the details of any historical source if you can, but dumping a useful text because you dislike the theology is sloppy scholarship.

Most of the New Testament is a collection of sermons made to various Jewish-Christian congregations in Asia Minor. No good reason to consider them fictional. The Gospels are a mix of passed-down, contradictory stories about the life and sermons of the Christian messiah. There is a scholarly theory that all of the gospels are fictional and Jesus of Nazareth never existed, but a lot of other scholars find that one an eye-roller.

Revelations, as I understand it, is considered a metaphor by the traditional churches, and has been since the time of St. Augustine. Some modern Evangelical Protestants, the kind who like to proclaim all of the Bible literal truth, are the only Christian faction who try to take Revelations literally. One tries to avoid letting people who think like that take charge of your air force, as they might think a nuclear Armegeddon is a good thing for the world. Not sure how common those people are.

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If you want to view the bible as an historical document, then you may also want to see the bits that are left out. What you get is an edited version, slanted by the Pauline Church to proselytise whatever theology they're pushing out. The "bible" we see is a layer of translations above the "original" set of documents, a selected set chosen by the levantine sect that won-out in the early years ACE. See the Catholic Churches reaction to the various discoveries of additional texts post WW2. One was almost surpressed with a vengeance such was the fear of the catholic church at it's "revelations".

What you see normally is an ideologically-bent document shorn of most historical reference, laden with centuries of spin and linguistic uncerainty given a patina of theological ideology masquerading as faith and certainty. After all, we are talking about a document belonging to the most successful organisation in human history. At this distance, and with the amount of power that the church(es) still wield, we are unlikely ever to obtain an uncontested clear-eyed objective view of said document. Indeed, with post-modernisms lack of interest in pursuing objective truth, it appears that there can be no modern, systematic attempt at skepticism towards the bible.

I don't believe that crap about God and free-will someone spouted earlier on - that sounds like more proselytising.

Free-will as illusion seems reasonable - we cannot predict the outcome because of the complexity.

Boss Out of Town wrote:
Yorik wrote:
Slamlander wrote:
I might point out that the Bible that you mention is the best selling and most popular work, of fiction, of all known history. But, it is a work of fiction and it is completely irrelevent to the current topic.

Whether or not the Bible is fictitious or not is a matter of debate in and of itself.

Big chunks of it are an excellent historical source.It's just the early supernatural stuff that is shaky. Of course, you always like to verify the details of any historical source if you can, but dumping a useful text because you dislike the theology is sloppy scholarship.

Most of the New Testament is a collection of sermons made to various Jewish-Christian congregations in Asia Minor. No good reason to consider them fictional. The Gospels are a mix of passed-down, contradictory stories about the life and sermons of the Christian messiah. There is a scholarly theory that all of the gospels are fictional and Jesus of Nazareth never existed, but a lot of other scholars find that one an eye-roller.

Revelations, as I understand it, is considered a metaphor by the traditional churches, and has been since the time of St. Augustine. Some modern Evangelical Protestants, the kind who like to proclaim all of the Bible literal truth, are the only Christian faction who try to take Revelations literally. One tries to avoid letting people who think like that take charge of your air force, as they might think a nuclear Armegeddon is a good thing for the world. Not sure how common those people are.

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ri[[3r wrote:
What you see normally is an ideologically-bent document shorn of most historical reference, laden with centuries of spin and linguistic uncerainty given a patina of theological ideology masquerading as faith and certainty. After all, we are talking about a document belonging to the most successful organisation in human history. At this distance, and with the amount of power that the church(es) still wield, we are unlikely ever to obtain an uncontested clear-eyed objective view of said document. Indeed, with post-modernisms lack of interest in pursuing objective truth, it appears that there can be no modern, systematic attempt at skepticism towards the bible.

Dude, I've got good news for yah from the western academic world. There's an immense body of legitimate skeptical analysis of the Bible available. "The Church(s)" supported a good deal of it over the millenia and lost almost all of its/their power to suppress unpleasant criticism back in the 18th Century. Conservatives, liberals, secularists, atheists, theologists, Marxists, philosophers, archeologists, linguists, feminists, monarchists, and everyone else have all had their shot at the texts. Wander on over to a good local university library and there will be hundreds of volumes of fascinating discussions to mull over.

The PoMOs are annoying to many of us, of course, because, in the words of Chingatchgook "They are a people apart, and make no sense." Per an academic friend of mine, they even have their own tables in the university lunch room. But, they have been going out of fashion for years and empirical schools of thought still flourish.

ri[[3r wrote:
Free-will as illusion seems reasonable - we cannot predict the outcome because of the complexity.


But if we are aware of the complexity, what is the illusion in our free will? As long as there is no omniscient observer supervising our individual actions, we are as free to decide as we need to be for all practical definitions of the term.

Per Scientific American, the absolute size limit of a non-repeating universe is something lint 10 to the 10th to the 216th power cubic meters. Within those bounds, we have as much free will as we need, if our actions cannot be absolutely predicted by empirical analysis.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 11:09 pm 
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One of my problems with the Catholic Church is that they're unable to accept that maybe the beliefs set down before or after Jesus are not The One Truth.

To me, I have to say that Jesus was the one to listen to. Anything he DIDN'T mention is debateable... unless Buddha said it, then it's probably best to go with Buddha.

Anywho!

Whether or not God exists is not the argument I'm trying to make. The argument I'm trying to make is that, if there were an omnisentient observer, that being could determine the One True Future from the One and Only Past or the One and Only Present. That is what modern science tells us, yes? Thus, even if that being does NOT exist, then we are still in a deterministic system.

Edit: I blame any typos or errors on tiredness. I am going to bed now.

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Boss Out of Town wrote:
Dude, I've got good news for yah from the western academic world. There's an immense body of legitimate skeptical analysis of the Bible available. "The Church(s)" supported a good deal of it over the millenia and lost almost all of its/their power to suppress unpleasant criticism back in the 18th Century. Conservatives, liberals, secularists, atheists, theologists, Marxists, philosophers, archeologists, linguists, feminists, monarchists, and everyone else have all had their shot at the texts. Wander on over to a good local university library and there will be hundreds of volumes of fascinating discussions to mull over.


I didn't say that. To be clear, I think each generation or epoch has produced it's own critique of the past. I don't think this will happen for the current generation; at least what appears to be happening is that the Pomos - who like them or loathe them seem to be the current of intellectual thinkers - have given up any sense of critiquing anything in favour of some form of laisse-faire historical story-telling in which all worlds are possible, and none of it "true".

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PoMos :confused:

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:11 am 
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Slamlander wrote:
PoMos :confused:


Postmodernists?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:27 am 
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PsionicsNOTMagic wrote:
[snipe]There is actually no need for said omnisentient being to exist. The only thing that needs to exist is the fact that the omnisentient being, should S/He exist, would be able to determine the One True Future.

And, since a being of omnisentience could determine a One True Future, then there is, in fact, only One True Future.


Just because something could exist does not mean that it will exist. Just because I could find the winning lottery ticket on the street does not mean that I will find it. You are basically stuck in a teleological loop there, what you are saying is that an end will bring about its means. Which is irrational. If god exists, you cannot prove His existence in that manner. Unless you are positing an insane God in which case go right ahead..


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:38 am 
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Killjoy wrote:
Slamlander wrote:
PoMos :confused:


Postmodernists?


I was thinking the Pomo tribe of indians in California, but, hey Post-modernist fits as well!!!!

The Modernists go up to the 40s - Pound, Eliot, Picasso, Gropius, Sartre, Nietsche, Heidegger. Then, somewhere in the mid-sixties, it goes tits-up and we start getting the Postmoderns: out go the grand-designs, in come the structuralists, the deconstructialists (athough some of them were modernists), the post-colonialists, Marcuse, Derrida, Baudrillard, Foucault etc etc. In poetry, we have the Beats, the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets.

Now everything is a text, and no one body holds the key to knowledge. All the knowledge systems or discourses are equal. Science loses it's speicial place as the defender of Objective Truth, because there is no such thing as Objective Truth. So, story-telling gets the same status as science. There's a famous pomo paper wherein some idiot asserts that people like the magicians & alchemists of the Middle Ages deserve the same status as, say, Einstein.

Now there is Science Studies run by arseholes who are proud to have failed, or not even studied Science. People like Behe, who claim they are continuing the Age of Enlightenment but who support crap like IDS before the Dover court.

Surprisingly, what the post-modernists forgot (surprisingly in that Pomo is based pretty much wholesale on Marxism) is that everything is a power-struggle, let in the religionists, and you have a theocracy rather than a democracy of knowledge systems.

I do have a counter to the pomo theories, although I'm not really a philosopher. One could claim that theology isn't a pure discourse, in the sense that religious faith always trumps discourse. Science OTOH, is a purer form of discourse because power-relations, or bogus calls to authority (the catholic church is one long bogus call to authority, impressed by cudgels if neccessary), cannot hold for long in a system where if something works, then that triumphs. "faith" in the scientific arena, *never* trumps discourse. So, given a soap-box, I would argue for a hierarchy of discourses. But I'm not French.

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Killjoy wrote:
Slamlander wrote:
PoMos :confused:

Postmodernists?

Yo.

Roughly, a school of thought that borrowed jargon and concepts from linguistics, Marxist class theory, and Lucanian psychology to make the point that all knowledge is interpreted text and should be treated as such. That is, there is no such thing as objective analysis, merely different degrees of subjectivity, and all analysis is done for political (in broadest cultural definition) purposes, whether the analyst realizes it or not.

The difficultly lies in the PoMos burying all their analysis in complex jargon designed to avoid tradtional language that could be interpreted as empiricism, which is held to be the false face of the oppressive monied patriarchy running Western civilization. The problem is that their jargon gets so dense and vague, their concepts so amorphous, that even they have no idea what they are talking about.

Steven Sokal exposed this directly a few years ago by writing an article for a postmodernist journal exposing modern physics as a political construction of the ruling class. After it was accepted and well-received by leading scholars, he publically pointed out that the piece was several thousand words of utter bullshit, with meaningless complex sentences of multi-syllabic jargon and deliberate logical and scientific errors in every paragraph.

Postmodernism was originally intended as a counter to the arrogance of 19th Century scholars who claimed to be objective, but patently were not, when viewed from any cultural distance--for example, German scholars who proved that German was the ur-language, French scholars who proved that Frenchmen made better phyicists, etc. It still serves that purpose when not abused. At Northwestern, they told us to just pick and choose whatever we could find useful in the PoMo toolkit, but to always write our papers so anyone literate could understand what our arguments were and how the evidence supported them.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:58 am 
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Lucanian => Lacan.

The Sokal paper is famous; however, for real laughs, have a go at some of the early Pomo papers where they hadn't yet learnt to obfuscate their teachings in obscurantist language - Derrida is the prime example. You'll keep going wtf every five seconds.

However, I try not to be too Anglo-Saxon about the French theorists; to reject all their teachings as some do is throwing the baby out with the bath-water as it were and as much as I respect Dawkins, I sometimes find his approach a little arid, a little dismissive. I think there is some mileage in using Post-modernism's approaches, possibly in the destruction of the single omnipotent observer so beloved of Scientific ontologies. However, quite what use multiple equal observers are in science, I don't know. However, as one Brit philosopher said of Derrida or Cixous, I may be butt-yodelling here.

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Didn't we have this discussion a while ago? Anyway, let me wrap up some of what I think was discussed in here.

I think the discussion pinned down the essential characteristics of a deterministic system. Determinism can be said to be a property of a system as long as it possesses no random elements.

Some of us were discussing the implications of determinism on a universal level, determinism is not a characteristic of the universe as long as even one element of the universe is random. Some people brought in God saying that only an omniscience that stood apart from the universe could know if the universe were deterministic. Others are arguing over whether smaller systems, say of a computer or the human brain are deterministic and whether this would preclude free will. I think we need to figure out what we mean by free will before we argue over whether a deterministic system could contain free will.

Post-Mods think that everything people say is constructed by their personal contexts and what we hear when other people say something is also interpreted through the listeners own contexts. There is thus no such thing as reality since everything is interpreted by each individual. Of course, this stance is flawed since it accepts that there is something which is real and apart from individual interpretation, namely that there are individuals. Although everyone lives in a world created through their own understanding, there are also material effects that are the same although interpretation of these effects may differ. A thousand soldiers killed in battle is a thousand soldiers killed, whether person A views them as heroes who died protecting their country or whether person B views them as murderers who are better off dead.


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Just because something could exist does not mean that it will exist. Just because I could find the winning lottery ticket on the street does not mean that I will find it. You are basically stuck in a teleological loop there, what you are saying is that an end will bring about its means. Which is irrational. If god exists, you cannot prove His existence in that manner. Unless you are positing an insane God in which case go right ahead..


He isn't arguing wether a god exists or not. He is arguing that we live in a physicaly deterministic universe. That if you drop a ball, that ball has only one place to go determined by the interaction of all the forces affecting it, and that with perfect knowlodge you could tell where it was going to fall. The 'omniscient being' thing is simply a thought experiment to help people grasp the idea.

My counter-argument is, perfect knowlodge might not exist. We have no proof of it. If we did, there would be no chance in quantum mechanics, we'd know the mechanisms behind the probabilisitc behaviour of different particles.

This has no bearing on free will, at least for me. Of course, we'd need a definition of free will to argue about that.

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Kian wrote:
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Just because something could exist does not mean that it will exist. Just because I could find the winning lottery ticket on the street does not mean that I will find it. You are basically stuck in a teleological loop there, what you are saying is that an end will bring about its means. Which is irrational. If god exists, you cannot prove His existence in that manner. Unless you are positing an insane God in which case go right ahead..

He isn't arguing wether a god exists or not. He is arguing that we live in a physicaly deterministic universe. That if you drop a ball, that ball has only one place to go determined by the interaction of all the forces affecting it, and that with perfect knowlodge you could tell where it was going to fall. The 'omniscient being' thing is simply a thought experiment to help people grasp the idea.

My counter-argument is, perfect knowlodge might not exist. We have no proof of it. If we did, there would be no chance in quantum mechanics, we'd know the mechanisms behind the probabilisitc behaviour of different particles.

This has no bearing on free will, at least for me. Of course, we'd need a definition of free will to argue about that.

Right. This argument wanders into "angels dancing on the head of a pin" territory quite readily. Postulating omnicence and subatomic randomess does not actually resolve the issue of human free will because human free will is defined on a human scale, for human use.

Postmodernist theory, like Marxism, Modernism, and all other philosophies still talked about outside of joke books, is taken seriously because it has elements that are useful analytical tools in spite of the theory's fallacies, failed predictions, and oversimplifications. Marx accurately described the evolution of feudal class systems into industrial class system in 19th Century Europe. He completely botched his predictions on how that drama would play out, but the challenge for modern Democracies remains the defeat of the social forces he said would destroy them. Postmodernism drifts far to easily into the silly zone of claiming bits of the real world you dislike do not exist and no human's judgment is better than anyone else's. However, knowing that all authority has prejudice and everything real has a corresponding political/cultural construction is a powerful tool for historians.

Some of this stuff is too dangerous to teach to C students unless you include a dose of humility to go with it.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:44 pm 
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Kian wrote:
My counter-argument is, perfect knowlodge might not exist. We have no proof of it. If we did, there would be no chance in quantum mechanics, we'd know the mechanisms behind the probabilisitc behaviour of different particles.


I get the point you're getting at, but I think you've phrased it in a rather funny way.

It doesn't matter whether or not "perfect knowledge exists", which is a funny turn of phrase anyway. Knowledge has nothing to do with it, other than as part of a useful illustration of what we're really talking about, which is necessary implication, or entailment. It doesn't matter whether anybody does or, in practice, can know the entire present state of the universe, any more than it matters whether an all-knowing being does or could exist. What matters is whether the information contained in the present state of the universe entails everything about any future state of the universe; which is equivalent to saying, if you could know everything about the present state of the universe, you could in principle deduce the answer to any question about the future, but it doesn't matter whether or not anyone actually could know the entire present state of the universe.

Put another way: determinism says something of the form "if P then Q" (e.g. "if you could know everything about the present, then you could deduce everything about the future"), and that can be true whether or not P ("you could know everything about the future") is even possible. Indeterminism ala quantum theory just says no, even if you COULD know everything there was to know about the universe (which you probably can't), you STILL couldn't deduce everything about the future.

ADDENDUM: As I said earlier, all this is equivalent to saying that, if determinism is true (which it appears not to be, if you ask most physicists), there are right now facts about the future; and if it's not, then the future is undetermined, that is, no proposition about any total future state of the universe is either true OR false - there just is no fact of the matter, yet. This ties in closely with determinism having to do with (to coin a phrase, perhaps) "deducability", that is, what I said above about the future being deducible, in principle, from the present, provided you had all the facts about the present (which in practice nobody can do), and of course, sufficient computing power to compute the future state before that future actually comes around (which I imagine is impossible even in principle - Slamlander can probably comment here - but even so, the if-then statement which is the thesis of determinism could still be possible even if the antecedent thereof is impossible).

Sorry for that run-on sentence; anyway, the point I was making is that deduction is non-ampliative; if you start with a bunch of premises and do valid deduction on them, the conclusion doesn't actually contain any more information than you started with (though it can contain less). If I tell you "P" and "if P then Q", then you already have all the information (and more) that you would had if I had told you "Q" explicitly. Which is how this talk of future facts ties in to determinism. If determinism is true, and future states of affairs are logically entailed by present states of affairs (which is just to say that it would be valid to deduce the former from the latter), then all information about the future already exists right now, and no new information is ever created; if you knew everything there was to know about right now, and then you wait a few seconds and magically divine everything there is to know about that new time, you won't really have learned anything new (though you might say "unknown knowns" became "known knowns", as can happen when you deduce a surprising conclusion from well-established premises). However, if determinism is false, then every moment new information is being created, and even an omniscient being (if such a thing existed, which may not be the case or even possible, etc etc) would be constantly learning new things as history unfolded.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 10:56 pm 
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Gadzooks! I've uncovered a nest of closet philosophers here! :-o :wink:

I go away for a day and come back ... to this? :-o :roll:

ri[[3r wrote:
The Modernists go up to the 40s - Pound, Eliot, Picasso, Gropius, Sartre, Nietsche, Heidegger. Then, somewhere in the mid-sixties, it goes tits-up and we start getting the Postmoderns: out go the grand-designs, in come the structuralists, the deconstructialists (athough some of them were modernists), the post-colonialists, Marcuse, Derrida, Baudrillard, Foucault etc etc. In poetry, we have the Beats, the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets.

Now everything is a text, and no one body holds the key to knowledge. All the knowledge systems or discourses are equal. Science loses it's speicial place as the defender of Objective Truth, because there is no such thing as Objective Truth. So, story-telling gets the same status as science. There's a famous pomo paper wherein some idiot asserts that people like the magicians & alchemists of the Middle Ages deserve the same status as, say, Einstein.


Boss Out of Town wrote:
Roughly, a school of thought that borrowed jargon and concepts from linguistics, Marxist class theory, and Lucanian psychology to make the point that all knowledge is interpreted text and should be treated as such. That is, there is no such thing as objective analysis, merely different degrees of subjectivity, and all analysis is done for political (in broadest cultural definition) purposes, whether the analyst realizes it or not.

The difficultly lies in the PoMos burying all their analysis in complex jargon designed to avoid tradtional language that could be interpreted as empiricism, which is held to be the false face of the oppressive monied patriarchy running Western civilization. The problem is that their jargon gets so dense and vague, their concepts so amorphous, that even they have no idea what they are talking about.


I thank everyone for answering my PoMo question :-P Having been educated in the 70's, I guess that I'm more of a Modernist. However, I do believe that the languages we learn to speak help to determine our thought patterns (who's read Babel17?). But then, I see daily empirical examples of that, here in the ex-pat community of Nyon where; even English is not what you think it is.

Forrest wrote:
Slamlander wrote:
Other than the fact that I am still convinced that such mislaid concepts of determinism are still bending a knee towards distant Rome (those spouting non-determinism were once burnt at the stake, as agents for Satan, the Lord of Chaos. Please take that for the slightly-red herring it is :wink: ).

That's odd, because most incompatiblists I've heard of or met (who are almost universally indeterminists, since they don't want to deny the existence of free will) are also Cartesian Dualists, and think of free will as some spooky metaphysical ability - a much more mystical, religious way of thinking than the "the universe is a giant deterministic machine, and free will is just a neat functional characteristic of these particular hunks of matter called humans" which most Enlightenment-era philosophers spouted. Never heard anything about indeterminists being chastised by the church before...


You guys not only chased every single red-herring (at least, one of them well labeled) I threw out there, you managed to catch most of them :-o

ri[[3r wrote:
If you want to view the bible as an historical document, then you may also want to see the bits that are left out. What you get is an edited version, slanted by the Pauline Church to proselytise whatever theology they're pushing out. The "bible" we see is a layer of translations above the "original" set of documents, a selected set chosen by the levantine sect that won-out in the early years ACE. See the Catholic Churches reaction to the various discoveries of additional texts post WW2. One was almost surpressed with a vengeance such was the fear of the catholic church at it's "revelations".


Actually, I'm following the developments around the Nag Hammadi texts very closely and I assume that you are refering to the Dead Sea Scrolls, as being almost suppressed. That's a lesson learned and I don't think that any serious academic, of any serious school, will turn such work over to the Church, or any other theosophist again. The trust was seriously broken there and the Church was proven to be as much a suppressor of knowlege, as preserver. That and Taleban destruction of the Buddhist shrine, puts paid to any academic trust of any religious institutions. Yes, I firmly believe that the Catholic Church would have burnt the Nag Hammadi texts. After all, they were originally declared a heresy and that's why they were hidden in the first place, to protect them from the Church's fires. They would have been burnt as a matter of course.

[Damn! hit submit instead of preview! Part deux follows]

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