Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by QuantumTroll » Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:30 am

sgttomas wrote: Sorry for the confusion. I didn't mean that this metaphysical decision cannot be explained by physical emergence. It obviously is! I am emergence and I am explaining it. What I am saying is that this is only understood at the meta-level. There is no sense to be made of motions. Motions do not have meaning, yet meaning emerges from matter. Then we may use our emergent meaning to explore the meaning of emergence! ...it's a very "strange loop" to quote Douglas Hofstadter.
Yay, agreement!
sgttomas wrote:
QT wrote:"Emergence is transcendence."-sgtt.
In what sense? Transcendence has a lot of definitions :P .
lol.

I guess I mean it in the sense that existence precedes essence.

btw...I know I've said before that "meaning is primary", which would seem to contradict "existence precedes essence". I resolve this by invoking meaning as primary only after the fact. Meaning/essence, is entirely dependent on and formed by the physical. However, once meaning is established, it takes on the primary role in terms of knowledge (we don't deal with matter, but meaning).

....man, this topic can be very convoluted!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes indeed. So you hold that "existence precedes essence", and this I agree with. And emergence is the way by which is sort of thing can happen. That makes sense. Being human, we apply symbols and meaning to things and deal with the symbols and their meaning in our thoughts and communication. This, also, makes sense. While I agree that "meaning is primary" for human thinking, meaning is not absolutely primary because the existence of humans (and solar system etc) precedes it. Great. While that's not the same "transcendence" I usually think of when I use the term, this definition has some definite advantages.
I'm talking about emergence in the sense that groups of interacting simple objects can have surprising properties as a group. This is purely a physical relationship, so it strides directly against religious transcendence , and even (my understanding of) Kantian transcendence.
I don't believe you are correct in saying this is a purely physical relationship. You invoke meaning when you say that physical objects can have group properties. "Group" is a category of meaning. ....am I being Kantian here. ???

thoughts?
Uh oh, trouble in paradise. Human minds can group things arbitrarily, and then it's not physical. However, a slab of iron is a physical group. Iron atoms form magnetic domains with certain group properties. Humans are needed to identify the group and to measure the group properties, but the iron makes the magnetic domain groups whether humans are present or not. I would argue that group properties (emergence) are a physical relationship.
My philosophy produces a minimum of hairy philosophical adventure, much to your chagrin I'm sure. If I'm right, then meaning is something humans (and possibly other mammals) use to operate in the world. Is this not a physical solution?
Yeah, I guess so. Having read more of your thoughts, I think I can agree with you.

This is what I want to emphasize, though: consciousness is entirely rooted in the physical, yet the properties of consciousness are not physical and the analysis of the physical necessarily invokes the non-physical (meaning). It's non-dualism, because there is no other substance than the physical. But it's necessary to keep motion and notion distinct when describing reality.
Hmm, I'll have to think about what it means to say "the properties of consciousness are not physical". My initial reaction is to say that if emergent behavior is physical (as I argued above) and consciousness is entirely rooted in the physical, then the properties of consciousness are also physical. But I stumble when I try to identify properties of consciousness and think about whether they're physical. Perhaps the phenomenon of consciousness is too far removed from the physical foundation for the properties to be recognizably physical? In the same way, Newton's Laws are far so removed from Quantum Mechanics that they don't resemble each other at all despite the fact that QM turns into Newton's Laws at medium distances.
If "God expands infinitely", is responsible for RE, or loves us all very much, then I would like for this to be shown to follow from the current context's definition of God (which in this case was Being Itself).
Being Itself allows me to imagine anything in existence as reflecting something of the reality of God. Anything I imagine. My imagination is potentially boundless, therefore so too is God.

QED. :geek:
Hehehe. It's cute that you think imagination proves things.

Hmm, I'm afraid I have to disagree with you here. Reality can be described in physical terms only. Even an emotion like love can be characterized by brain activity and the level of dopamine in certain parts of the brain, etc.
Two levels to explore: the physical activity, and the emergent meaning. Reality is composed of physical objects, only, however a complete description of reality invokes meaning, which is not physical. Meaning is the notion that emerges from the motion. A collection of data can be interpreted by a third party as representing love, however this description still invokes meaning (in this case, the observer of the data). The meaning of "love" must be correlated with the physical motions by an emergent consciousness.

There is no need for supernaturalism or dualism, to be sure. I don't like to say that reality can be described in physical terms only because I think it diminishes the physical/metaphysical parallel.
Chemists don't like it when physicists say that all chemistry is really just physics at heart. Biologists don't like it when chemists say that all biology is just chemistry. Is biology or chemistry diminished by physicists' egos?

You make a good point, however. We would lose a LOT if these emergent behaviors aren't appreciated in their own right and if people insist on taking things back to the fundamental level. I think we see eye to eye on this :)
I fear that I still don't understand what transcendence (and god) is...
....hm. ....me neither ;)

I mean, I can sort of peer into this void of understanding (what does it really mean that consciousness emerges from matter?!?!?!??!) but I can barely do anything to resolve it.
That sort of question can only be answered with some serious hallucinogens. Of course, the "answer" lasts no longer than the trip, so enjoy it while you have it ;)

addendum:My Linux install at work displays a "fortune" at log-in. Today it was this: "It was real. At least, if it wasn't real, it did support them, and as that is what sofas are supposed to do, this, by any test that mattered, was a real sofa." Is this as profound and as relevant to this discussion as I seem to think?

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by sgttomas » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:04 am

QuantumTroll wrote:Yes indeed. So you hold that "existence precedes essence", and this I agree with. And emergence is the way by which is sort of thing can happen. That makes sense. Being human, we apply symbols and meaning to things and deal with the symbols and their meaning in our thoughts and communication. This, also, makes sense. While I agree that "meaning is primary" for human thinking, meaning is not absolutely primary because the existence of humans (and solar system etc) precedes it. Great. While that's not the same "transcendence" I usually think of when I use the term, this definition has some definite advantages.
8-)
Uh oh, trouble in paradise. Human minds can group things arbitrarily, and then it's not physical. However, a slab of iron is a physical group. Iron atoms form magnetic domains with certain group properties. Humans are needed to identify the group and to measure the group properties, but the iron makes the magnetic domain groups whether humans are present or not. I would argue that group properties (emergence) are a physical relationship.

*snip* (sgtt)

...Hmm, I'll have to think about what it means to say "the properties of consciousness are not physical". My initial reaction is to say that if emergent behavior is physical (as I argued above) and consciousness is entirely rooted in the physical, then the properties of consciousness are also physical. But I stumble when I try to identify properties of consciousness and think about whether they're physical. Perhaps the phenomenon of consciousness is too far removed from the physical foundation for the properties to be recognizably physical? In the same way, Newton's Laws are far so removed from Quantum Mechanics that they don't resemble each other at all despite the fact that QM turns into Newton's Laws at medium distances.
that.....is a great analogy.

perfect.
Hehehe. It's cute that you think imagination proves things.
lol

It proves I have a powerful imagination, at least! :ugeek:
Chemists don't like it when physicists say that all chemistry is really just physics at heart. Biologists don't like it when chemists say that all biology is just chemistry. Is biology or chemistry diminished by physicists' egos?

You make a good point, however. We would lose a LOT if these emergent behaviors aren't appreciated in their own right and if people insist on taking things back to the fundamental level. I think we see eye to eye on this :)
8-)
That sort of question can only be answered with some serious hallucinogens. Of course, the "answer" lasts no longer than the trip, so enjoy it while you have it ;)
Y'know....the answer still lingers. Here, back to TED for a minute:

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

...so all that talk about the energy being, and her loss of personal identity....been there, done that. Not by stroke, but by consumption of mushrooms (loss of a distinct personal identity made up of a past and a projected future) and salvia (sensation of energy connection to the universe, expansion of self to massive proportions). What lingers is something along the lines of what Jill Taylor ended her talk with.

So....did you eat those pretty mushrooms? (took a look at your profile. nice pics!)
addendum:My Linux install at work displays a "fortune" at log-in. Today it was this: "It was real. At least, if it wasn't real, it did support them, and as that is what sofas are supposed to do, this, by any test that mattered, was a real sofa." Is this as profound and as relevant to this discussion as I seem to think?
Heh, awesome.....and yes, yes it is.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by KR Wordgazer » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:45 pm

QuantumTroll wrote: I appreciate this attempt to clarify, but I still don't quite understand. Religion and God are about finding meaning in life, but if I find meaning in life is that God? Also, can one find meaning in stuff that has no actual bearing on reality? I think so, and I'd rather find meaning in something "real". I guess for you the meaning of the belief itself is important, so it doesn't matter whether God "actually exists" because God's existence is more about you finding meaning than an actual supranatural being. Am I on the right track in understanding what you mean by God?
Hmm. I'll try to answer your questions one at a time.

If I find meaning in life, is that God? No, qualified.

No. in that if your meaning in life is not that entity/consciousness I know as God, then your meaning in life is not God. However, finding meaning in life is, essentially, religious, whether it's a theistic religion or not. Whatever it is that you live and die for, your feelings and attitudes about that thing, relationship or principle are religious in essence.

Can one find meaning in stuff that has no actual bearing on reality? Well, yes-- but I think one has to at least think the "stuff" is real. In other words, one can mistakenly find meaning in stuff one thinks is real but actually isn't, but I don't think a sane and rational person can deliberately find meaning in that which he or she knows to be unreal.

I guess for you the meaning of the belief itself is important, so it doesn't matter whether God "actually exists" because God's existence is more about you finding meaning than an actual supranatural being. Am I on the right track in understanding what you mean by God?

Actually, no. It does matter very much to me whether God "actually exists." It's just that I don't think science addresses meaning, and religion does. I couldn't find meaning in something I didn't believe to be real. It's that I don't look at God as just another causal agent, or religion as a system for finding what causes things.

Let me put it this way. Materialists a hundred years ago would find it "unnecessary" to believe in quarks or strings-- because they would be looking for what appeared to them, in their knowledge, to the simplest explanation for the physical universe. Nevertheless, quarks and strings existed all along, anyway. I still find the scientific materialist way too limited. I think that the simplest explanation is not always the real one, and that just because an element of an explanation is "unnecessary" does not make it unreal or non-existent. Your background is in science; mine is in law. In law, when you are trying to figure out what happened in a series of events, it is often the case that the simplest explanation is, in fact, not the true one-- as witnessed by the way people thought to have committed crimes are now being released on new DNA evidence. Similarly, as I said in another thread, I remember being a child and how frustrating it was when my parents would not accept the complicated explanation for something which happened, which I knew to be true, and instead went for the simplest explanation, which falsely blamed me.

Given my experiences, I believe the existence of God more fully covers the way things are, than "emergence." But that doesn't mean my primary purpose for beleiving in God is as a way to explain the way things are.
One of the difficulties is that I've never been religious, none of my family is in the least bit religious, and most of my friends as well. The world on this side of the looking-glass is still appears strange and impossible to me, so you guys need to be my guides ;) . Any Lewis Carrol fans here, btw?
I'm a Lewis Carroll fan, too! :D
Wag more.
Bark less.

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by sgttomas » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:07 pm

I guess for you the meaning of the belief itself is important, so it doesn't matter whether God "actually exists" because God's existence is more about you finding meaning than an actual supranatural being. Am I on the right track in understanding what you mean by God?

Actually, no. It does matter very much to me whether God "actually exists." It's just that I don't think science addresses meaning, and religion does. I couldn't find meaning in something I didn't believe to be real. It's that I don't look at God as just another causal agent, or religion as a system for finding what causes things.
I think you miss his point about "actually exists", which is to refer to some tangible impact on physical reality. In that sense God doesn't actually exist as a physical entity. However, the impact of God on physical reality occurs through the medium of thought. The imprint of God is how we physically respond to our awareness of God.
Given my experiences, I believe the existence of God more fully covers the way things are, than "emergence." But that doesn't mean my primary purpose for beleiving in God is as a way to explain the way things are.
Emergence is just a way to make a physical connection to consciousness. What that consciousness explores is a separate issue.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:26 pm

QuantumTroll wrote:
Metacrock wrote:
QuantumTroll wrote: Judging my Metacrocks arguments for God, I still think I'm correct to some extent. God is, to some extent, about explaining some things. It's one of the main ways people get hooked on God. A discussion must have some kind of focus, and I do not think this is a bad one because it addresses some common Christian talking points.
Not me. I had an experience.All the major spiritual people I know had experiences. Explaining things was not really important at all. Yes I does involve explaining some things, but they are thing physics can't explain, like the why! not the how but the why!
Right, you had an experience, and God explains the experience. How is this NOT "explaining human experience"? We're talking past each other here, and I can't figure out why...
I said it its explaining things physics can't explain But when those things happened I didn't say "O gee I just have to explain this." I just accepted it because it was real to me.

God is a priori. the religious a priori is the only God argument we need.


you have no ultimate answers. nothing in physics can take us beyond event horizon (big bang). You can't explain why there was one, or what it means or what the basis of all things is. you cannot expalin the basis of reality. You can't even give me one single piece of data that tells us if the Big Bang is the ultimate origin or if string membranes exist.
The fact that physics has unfinished business is not relevant to this discussion. I think we can characterize reality based on what we've already discovered.

obviously we can't or there would be no religion. you are not taking into account what religion is. the sense of the numinous is real to people. you are juts making your straw man idea of religion. It's a priori. that's what I mean by religious a priori. it's a thing in itself. it works by its own standards, it can't be judged the standards of another paradigm.
You don't have an anti-God design argument. Design works in favor of God. The anthropic argument is one of the finest God arguments. and you have no argument that takes it down.
QT:Um, what? Remember, I'm not arguing against the existence of God, I'm arguing for the sufficiency of natural laws to explain human life.
that is a self contradiction. Because by "sufficiency" you just mean "there's no need for God" is it is an argument against God. The lack of need for God = argument against God's existence.

Your argument flawed because you are merely losing the phenomena. you are just cutting off the top half of life and all the stuff that leads to belief and pretending no one sees it and it's not really there.


The only counter-argument I've heard is "but God could be behind it all", which isn't a counter-argument at all because I agree with that statement.


when are you going to start reflecting people's argument honestly and the way they used them? I put forth a complex and sophisticated position involving the concept, religious a priori and you just come back and say "God could be behind it all." is that what I really said? no it is not and you know it is not. No way does that do justice to the arguments I've made.

why can't you refute them honestly?



I guess "nothing in physics can take us beyond the Big Bang" is a counter-argument, but it's very weak because
weak! weak! it's the whole of the matter, it's the whole nub of the matter. why can't you deal honestly with arguments? If it doesn't your pre conceived bigoted notions you just dismiss it as though it means nothing that is not thinking. that is nto what the big thinkers do. that's the cowards way. "that doesn't' fit the precieved I made all ready so it jsut can't be. I can't accept it so it doesn't exist.

pantywaste arguemnt panty waste way to argue. dishonst silly pantiwaste.


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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:32 pm

The point is you can't think about why there is something at all rather than nothing at all without coming to the realization that there has to be some basic reality o the universe such that we should feel it is holy. In other words, there has to be something like what we call God. You can't understand anything about life without understanding that. Atheists are trying to cut off all realization about life, about being what it means to exist, just so they can keep their little pretense going; there's no reason to believe in God because I have science to tell me x,y,z.

but science doesn't tell you about the important things that religion does. without cosmological necessity there could be no evolution. there could be no emergent anything without cosmological necessity. But you dismiss that by just pretending it's not important to explain that God explains, ti's only important to explain the things you can explain without God. that's the little trick you playing on your self to get around the fact that science doesn't really explain anything that matters.


take any one of my 42 arguments for God, every single one of them is something science can't explain without resorting to God. That's 42 separate reasons right there that disprove your assertion.
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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:36 pm

sgttomas wrote:Hey, that TED is a cool site!

FYI: I'm by no means a skeptic of emergence, just a skeptic of atheistic philosophy, so I'll deal with yours ;)

Also, I'm trying to deal with this subject in the context you brought it up in, namely: offering a physical theory in place of a supernatural one for the existence of human life. ...I can't deal with it directly, since I don't see the world in those terms, but I try to say my own thing while respecting what you intended.
how can you say that science explains things in such a way that the supernatural is not needed, when the atheist don't know what the supernatural is? Most Christians dont' know what it is. If you did knw it would obvious that there is no way science can replace or expalin it. It's totally beyond sicnece.

the supernatural is proven a prori, there is no way they can argue that it doesn't eixst. It's proven by the big bag. it's proven by human psychology. it's demonstrated empricially in over a dozen ways.
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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by sgttomas » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:28 pm

Metacrock wrote: pantywaste arguemnt panty waste way to argue. dishonst silly pantiwaste.
Fuck sake, Meta....chill. work it out.
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by sgttomas » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:33 pm

Metacrock wrote: how can you say that science explains things in such a way that the supernatural is not needed, when the atheist don't know what the supernatural is. Most Christians dont' know what it is. If you did knw it would obvious that there is no way science can replace or expalin it. It's totally beyond sicnece.

the supernatural is proven a prori, there is no way they can argue that it doesn't eixst. It's proven by the big bag. it's proven by human psychology. it's demonstrated empricially in over a dozen ways.
when are you going to start reflecting people's argument honestly and the way they used them? I put forth a complex and sophisticated position involving the concept, and you just come back and say "science explains things in such a way that the supernatural is not needed." is that what I really said? no it is not and you know it is not. No way does that do justice to the arguments I've made.

why can't you refute them honestly?

pantywaste arguemnt panty waste way to argue. dishonst silly pantiwaste.

- - -
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

*shrugs*
- - -

I don't have separate categories for natural and supernatural; if it exists, it is natural, or else it wouldn't exist.

I never said that science explains things such that the supernatural isn't needed. I said the supernatural isn't needed...and science can explain some things.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by QuantumTroll » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:05 pm

sgttomas wrote:
I guess for you the meaning of the belief itself is important, so it doesn't matter whether God "actually exists" because God's existence is more about you finding meaning than an actual supranatural being. Am I on the right track in understanding what you mean by God?

Actually, no. It does matter very much to me whether God "actually exists." It's just that I don't think science addresses meaning, and religion does. I couldn't find meaning in something I didn't believe to be real. It's that I don't look at God as just another causal agent, or religion as a system for finding what causes things.
I think you miss his point about "actually exists", which is to refer to some tangible impact on physical reality. In that sense God doesn't actually exist as a physical entity. However, the impact of God on physical reality occurs through the medium of thought. The imprint of God is how we physically respond to our awareness of God.
Hmm, I like this, it sounds familiar. When I first read it, it was quite exciting because I never thought of it this way. If the impact of God on physical reality occurs through the medium of thought, then it follows that I should examine the concept of God as an entity in "thoughtspace" as a phenomenon of mind (which is very remotely based on physics) as opposed to matter and conventional reality directly. Our only interface with God is our mind, and conversely that's the only way He affects the universe. So He can only be a creator of this universe if (possibly human?) minds did it, and I like the idea that ordinary minds are involved on such an occasion. I actually considered whether I should seriously try adopting this view.

But then I realized this is what meme theory is all about, except in meme theory God is not the only player. A lot of people overlook the fact that memes can have any number of origins. Most memes are mutable and ephemeral because they're meaningless. Some memes are important, however. The God meme represents the ultimate, and this position is as constant as gravity. Ideas about certain qualities like time, space, love, and existence have logical endpoints, and we can define God as the meme that gets them. Now it's a good time to bring up how beneficial religion is to quality of life.

Hmm, I can't actually see anything wrong with what I just said. Really. Sgttomas, I think you've helped me build an understanding of God that is totally consistent with - if not actually backed up by - scientific principles. If I am to be honest I have to think about bringing God into my life. What a surprising turn of events! No sense in being hasty, however, perhaps I'm tired because it's late.

I haven't even read any of the post beyond the one I quoted, so you'll have to excuse the fact that I've ignored them in this post :)

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