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(Big Think)   Enough with the magical thinking: the Universe really is 100% reductionist   (bigthink.com) divider line
    More: Obvious, Universe, Physics, Quark, Particle physics, Standard Model, Emergence, Strong interaction, General relativity  
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1019 clicks; posted to STEM » on 09 Aug 2022 at 2:55 PM (6 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2022-08-09 11:24:28 AM  
And with this one elegant article religion was eliminated from Earth entirely.

It was the dawn of the second age of enlightenment.

images.dailykos.comView Full Size
 
2022-08-09 1:22:39 PM  
I'm a reductionist, too.  White wine reductions...red wine reductions...have you tried my coq au vin?
 
2022-08-09 2:05:53 PM  
Consciousness is the hardest part to grasp in reductionism. Why are we aware of ourselves? Where's the bootstrap that is pulled up by?

If someone never wondered why they are self aware, then would they be not self aware?
 
2022-08-09 3:06:06 PM  
Does Ethan like pay Drew or something? Why do we get so many articles from this guy?
 
2022-08-09 3:24:48 PM  
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2022-08-09 3:49:46 PM  
Child-like reasoning is there, captain, but barely perceptible.
 
2022-08-09 4:09:11 PM  
area man passionate defender of what he believes reductionism to be
 
2022-08-09 4:15:06 PM  

gnarlywizzard: area man passionate defender of what he believes reductionism to be


What part did you have an issue with? Not being snarky; genuinely curious.
 
2022-08-09 4:20:38 PM  

Rage Against the Thorazine: Does Ethan like pay Drew or something? Why do we get so many articles from this guy?


Other farkers seem to like the guy, but I can't imagine what that was about.

My eyes glazed over.  Was the argument the "god works miracles the way arsonists leave plausible doubt about fires?" (I think that's from Seinfeld, not sure) argument is invalid?  Or is he claiming that there really must be a solution to the three body problem, even though that's been known unsolvable with classical math for centuries?

Sounds like a physicist claiming to know everything once he studied the standard model and everything is "just details".  Good luck with psychology*.  Even engineering is mostly learning emergent laws.  Starting with Murphy's law and working down into classical thermodynamics, and electrodynamics, and even more specialized things like Kirchhoff's laws (which basically repackage conservation laws assuming that the electricity stays in the wires like the gods intended and not radiate like that heretic Maxell implied).

/* there's a movement in psychology to include the most basic biological ideas.  Might even make a "real" science
//but since that includes evolution, every ideologue comes along and tries to slip his assumptions in as "obvious" facts
///and since the US refuses to really teach evolution (good luck finding teachers that get it), way too many people will fall for it (and even more will accept the "obvious facts" as science).
/[bonus slashie] yes, there's a reason I listed Murphy's law first.  The most critical law in engineering and good luck figuring how that one emerged Evan.
 
2022-08-09 4:21:49 PM  
Wouldn't the ability to test whether Reductionism is a valid theory depend on our being able to identify, understand, and account for all the fundamental principles and factors of the universe? Except, we haven't  been able to reconcile the Standard Model and Quantum Mechanics, right? We don't really understand what happens when things get really very dense, hot, fast, or far away, right? We finally figured out that galaxies aren't as dense as they'd have to be to clump together, so we called the missing mass "dark matter," but that doesn't mean we know what it is. We noticed that space is expanding faster than we thought, but we don't know why, so we took the big old X in the equation and called it "dark energy," but we've got even less idea what that is than what dark matter is. Every few years, a new type of subatomic particle is proven, and there was a very small but genuinely terrifying chance that turning on the Large Hadron Collider might creat a singularity. We've even got Chaos Theory, which appears to agree with Reductionism in that everything is determined by fundamental principles and factors and then blows it out of the water by stating the feedback and feedforward loops of any complex system means we're never going to be able to predict a system's behavior in any meaningful way.

So, I'm going to shelve the whole Reductionism versus Emergence with the other topics under Interesting Philosophical Debates When You're Slightly Drunk Or Stoned But Let's Not Be Judgmental Assholes About It, 'Kay? on the dusty shelf in my brain's library and get back to trying to figure out the stuff that actually matters to me right now, like "how do I take care of my fruit trees so I can actually enjoy the fruit?; why doesn't my sourdough, while delicious, taste sour?; and how the frick am I supposed to learn how to count frequency beats when my tinnitus won't shut the frak up?".
 
2022-08-09 4:38:44 PM  

we_want_a_shrubbery: gnarlywizzard: area man passionate defender of what he believes reductionism to be

What part did you have an issue with? Not being snarky; genuinely curious.


the author is mischaracterizing the reductionism vs emergence debate in philosophy. its not simply that one or the other is right, there's a lively debate about what the terms even mean.

reductionist philosophies do not necessarily reduce to physical particles either. some philosophical writings claim to reduce the universe into concepts or other abstracts instead of physical objects. these will count as reductionist according to this author's logic as long as they don't make possible emergent properties.

so clearly the guy's beef isn't just with emergence theories supposed lack of material backing. yet all of his arguments against emergence are exactly that.

the guy doesn't even address any of the actual philosophical arguments for emergence. he criticizes emergence for not being backed up by science, but since emergence is a philosophical concept and not a scientific one, that's a bit like criticizing your dentist for giving bad stock tips.

in short, its clear to me that the guy doesn't understand the issue, or the philosophical terms he's juggling with. he might be a phdxin astrophysics, but he only has an internet degree in philosophy.

so instead of engaging with concepts like emergence and reductionism on their own terms, he's just steamrolling them with scientific knowledge that only has bearing on his weak construction of those terms. he's strawmanning, really
 
2022-08-09 4:40:18 PM  
In such a case shouldn't big think be called small think?

And if I know whatever Ethan says already, does this make him the reductionist, or the reductioned?

It's a pity. A couple of years after rightfully obtaining his Astrophys Phd but chosing not continue in active research, he turned his hand to high school teaching. Possibly inspired by this, he started blogging. In around 2013 he won a couple of awards and the sun was shining upon this Ethan fellow. He figured out that to get attention to his blog site, he could spam away like a young Ebaum's world, and everything would be good and he would be wonderful. Forever.

Except that his competitors caught up and overtook him in the mid 2010s and he's been hopelessly outclassed since. He's done nothing to advance science in that time. He just keeps rehashing the same thirty-odd essays into heartbreakingly poor fresh takes.
 
2022-08-09 4:42:40 PM  

gnarlywizzard: in short, its clear to me that the guy doesn't understand the issue, or the philosophical terms he's juggling with. he might be a phdxin astrophysics, but he only has an internet degree in philosophy.


Or as the Germans say, a Fachidiot.
 
2022-08-09 4:48:18 PM  
I also want to add that the author's main argument relies not on evidence, but on potential future evidence not yet in existence

"what appears to be emergent to us today, with our present limitations of what its within our power to compute, may someday in the future be describable in purely reductionist terms. Many such systems that were once incapable of being described via reductionism have, with superior models (as far as what we choose to pay attention to) and the advent of improved computing power, now been successfully described in precisely a reductionist fashion. Many seemingly chaotic systems can, in fact, be predicted to whatever accuracy we care to arbitrarily choose, so long as enough computational resources are available.
Yes, we can't rule out non-reductionism..."

he makes two logical fallacies (1 potential future evidence is not evidence, 2 just because things happened a way in the past doesn't mean they will continue to happen that way in the future) and then concedes that non-reductionism is plausible

so yeah, weak arguments all up and down this waste of an article
 
2022-08-09 4:48:26 PM  

gnarlywizzard: in short, its clear to me that the guy doesn't understand the issue, or the philosophical terms he's juggling with. he might be a phdxin astrophysics, but he only has an internet degree in philosophy.


I commend the Youtube (ongoing) series by Sean Carrol, "Mindscape". The key difference in Carrol's interviews is that he's genuinely interested in what other great thinkers and experts have to say. The way their conversations evolve is fascinating. His AMAs are quite fun, too.
 
2022-08-09 4:51:14 PM  

PartTimeBuddha: gnarlywizzard: in short, its clear to me that the guy doesn't understand the issue, or the philosophical terms he's juggling with. he might be a phdxin astrophysics, but he only has an internet degree in philosophy.

I commend the Youtube (ongoing) series by Sean Carrol, "Mindscape". The key difference in Carrol's interviews is that he's genuinely interested in what other great thinkers and experts have to say. The way their conversations evolve is fascinating. His AMAs are quite fun, too.


thanks, ill check it out
 
2022-08-09 5:06:24 PM  

gnarlywizzard: I also want to add that the author's main argument relies not on evidence, but on potential future evidence not yet in existence

"what appears to be emergent to us today, with our present limitations of what its within our power to compute, may someday in the future be describable in purely reductionist terms. Many such systems that were once incapable of being described via reductionism have, with superior models (as far as what we choose to pay attention to) and the advent of improved computing power, now been successfully described in precisely a reductionist fashion. Many seemingly chaotic systems can, in fact, be predicted to whatever accuracy we care to arbitrarily choose, so long as enough computational resources are available.
Yes, we can't rule out non-reductionism..."

he makes two logical fallacies (1 potential future evidence is not evidence, 2 just because things happened a way in the past doesn't mean they will continue to happen that way in the future) and then concedes that non-reductionism is plausible

so yeah, weak arguments all up and down this waste of an article


Well, if the article is correct, he had no choice but to write the article and you had no choice but to create this post. It was all a roll of the cosmic dice.
 
2022-08-09 5:11:51 PM  

HempHead: Well, if the article is correct, he had no choice but to write the article and you had no choice but to create this post. It was all a roll of the cosmic dice.


a physically reductionist universe doesn't necessarily entail determinism.

in fact most philosphers believe that what we call free will is compatible with a deterministic universe.

also you can have a deterministic universe with emergent properties. determinism itself is an emergent property of the indeterminate quantum realm
 
2022-08-09 5:13:54 PM  

HempHead: gnarlywizzard: I also want to add that the author's main argument relies not on evidence, but on potential future evidence not yet in existence

"what appears to be emergent to us today, with our present limitations of what its within our power to compute, may someday in the future be describable in purely reductionist terms. Many such systems that were once incapable of being described via reductionism have, with superior models (as far as what we choose to pay attention to) and the advent of improved computing power, now been successfully described in precisely a reductionist fashion. Many seemingly chaotic systems can, in fact, be predicted to whatever accuracy we care to arbitrarily choose, so long as enough computational resources are available.
Yes, we can't rule out non-reductionism..."

he makes two logical fallacies (1 potential future evidence is not evidence, 2 just because things happened a way in the past doesn't mean they will continue to happen that way in the future) and then concedes that non-reductionism is plausible

so yeah, weak arguments all up and down this waste of an article

Well, if the article is correct, he had no choice but to write the article and you had no choice but to create this post. It was all a roll of the cosmic dice.


This is typical thinking when someone's relationships fail.  No one has to do it, but quite often they do. "It just wasn't on the cards." "He stabbed me and left me on the side of the road for dead." "Nobody gets me -- because nobody can get me!"

I say this honestly wishing that Ethan was better at his job.
 
2022-08-09 5:14:18 PM  

Rage Against the Thorazine: Does Ethan like pay Drew or something? Why do we get so many articles from this guy?


I think what happened is a bunch got submitted and accepted by chance a couple of years ago and people complained, so the admins thought it'd be funny to accept any that were submitted to annoy people
 
2022-08-09 5:25:21 PM  

covfefe: Consciousness is the hardest part to grasp in reductionism. Why are we aware of ourselves?


What else should it be? Like, I can see my hand. I can feel if I scratch it. Those are physical signals received by my brain which can also associate them so that I know that it's my hand. It feels like I'm "here" because my brain is being fed (and feeding itself) information. I don't see how it could feel like anything else.

It seems the only difficulty is that we lose a convenient (but wrong) definition of "soul" or whatever and requires us to address moral questions regarding animals and intelligent machines.
 
2022-08-09 5:41:46 PM  

New Farkin User Name: Rage Against the Thorazine: Does Ethan like pay Drew or something? Why do we get so many articles from this guy?

I think what happened is a bunch got submitted and accepted by chance a couple of years ago and people complained, so the admins thought it'd be funny to accept any that were submitted to annoy people


Eh. Ethan's been about for a decade. He was never as good as Bad Astronomer, but then again, who could be?

For me, I think it's only the last two years or so that I've been thinking, "Bloody hell, this article is actually crap." Which would, of course, fit the Ancient Fark Meta: How The Media Passes Off _____* As News."

I've asked the people who roundly support Ethan what they actually see in him that they couldn't get elsewhere. Since his posts have been a daily item for so long, I carried the unanswered question of one day onto the next. I received some nasty abuse.

My read on Ethan Siegel is that when he was young, and his heart was an open book. He used to say...

Actually, no. He's just not worth it.
 
2022-08-09 5:46:47 PM  

falkone32: covfefe: Consciousness is the hardest part to grasp in reductionism. Why are we aware of ourselves?

What else should it be? Like, I can see my hand. I can feel if I scratch it. Those are physical signals received by my brain which can also associate them so that I know that it's my hand. It feels like I'm "here" because my brain is being fed (and feeding itself) information. I don't see how it could feel like anything else.

It seems the only difficulty is that we lose a convenient (but wrong) definition of "soul" or whatever and requires us to address moral questions regarding animals and intelligent machines.


where are memories stored?

what configuration of particles in my brain translates to the mental picture of a squirrel with big nuts I'm holding right now?

think about this...even if you had a complete copy of my brain down to the atom rendered in a computer somewhere, if you wanted to know if it was thinking about a squirrel with big nuts, you'd still have to actually ask it "how big?" to know. nowhere in that complete physical picture of the brain is the content of its consciousness.

accounting for consciousness is the kind of philosophical question where reductionism comes into play. if the content of our thoughts is nonphysical, how does it interact with the physical world, i.e. humans making decisions and having apparent free will. and if consciousness does reduce to physical objects, where exactly in my brain is it written the diameter of the squirrels nuts?
 
2022-08-09 6:12:00 PM  
Some qualities are emergent.  Reductionism falls flat on its face when it comes to explaining emergence, though it does a great job at counting the parts.
Mathematics has done a great job at accepting this since Godel.  The author, not so much.
 
2022-08-09 6:12:25 PM  
I don't like reductionism. It assumes that everything than is possible is already fixed, and on the large scale of space/time that may be true, but it seems to me that not everything is or even can be determined. Reductionists seem to be of the opinion that we should stop trying to learn about the universe, because nothing can be gained from searching, because everything is predetermined and the default answer to every question is "no". This is a very uncurious and unscientific philosophy, akin to the religious philosophies reductionists claim to scorn.

I suppose my long, rambling quasi-paragraph can be reduced to "The problem with reductionism is reductionists.".
 
2022-08-09 6:31:59 PM  

RedVentrue: I don't like reductionism. It assumes that everything than is possible is already fixed, and on the large scale of space/time that may be true, but it seems to me that not everything is or even can be determined. Reductionists seem to be of the opinion that we should stop trying to learn about the universe, because nothing can be gained from searching, because everything is predetermined and the default answer to every question is "no". This is a very uncurious and unscientific philosophy, akin to the religious philosophies reductionists claim to scorn.

I suppose my long, rambling quasi-paragraph can be reduced to "The problem with reductionism is reductionists.".


I don't know though.. wouldn't every reductionist be trying like mad though to add another irreducible thing (type of matter, fundamental force, quantum whatever) because that would lead to a more full understanding of the universe?

And also make them incredibly rich?

I tend to think that a reductionist is simply someone (scientist) who does not invoke "magic" in their explanations of natural phenomena.
 
2022-08-09 6:39:09 PM  

RedVentrue: I suppose my long, rambling quasi-paragraph can be reduced to "The problem with reductionism is reductionists.".


I think more accurately your problem is with people who say "We know all we can know! Go away!" rather than people who ask, "Well, we've found this out, but how to we test the limits of this result?"
 
2022-08-09 6:42:48 PM  
Some people say that the universe is infinite. Infinite is pretty big (you may think it's a long way to the shops etc)

There are a finite amount of ways to arrange matter if you limit yourself to the observable universe. In an infinite universe, every possible arrangement MUST exist somewhere. An infinite number of times.

This would mean an infinite number of you are reading these exact words. They read them a couple of minutes ago, they will read them in a couple of minutes, or seconds, or years.

These exact words are constantly being read, by an infinite number of you, for the rest of time.

Anyway, getting back to reductionism and TFA, as everything is happening everywhere all at once, and will continue to do so, it's almost meaningless to discuss things like superdeterminism, reductionism, or even emergence.

It's all going to happen somewhere with 100% certainty, including visible universes where all evidence points to superdeterminism, or towards emergence, or reductionism.

That doesn't mean any of them are true, they just appear true because of where you are stood. When all situations happen with 100% certainty, what does 'true' even mean anyway?
 
2022-08-09 6:55:13 PM  
And, to be clear, the "null hypothesis" is that the Universe is 100% reductionist.

lh3.googleusercontent.comView Full Size
 
2022-08-09 6:58:13 PM  

dready zim: In an infinite universe, every possible arrangement MUST exist somewhere. An infinite number of times.


this isn't true. Cantor's diagonal argument shows that you can use an infinite series to construct a completely different infinite series that shares no members with the original series
 
2022-08-09 7:04:59 PM  

gnarlywizzard: in fact most philosphers believe that what we call free will is compatible with a deterministic universe.


That is not remotely true. In fact this topic is hotly debated among philosophers, most of them with no serious understanding of what determinism at the level of physical law actually means. However, the arguments that free will is compatible with determinism have been roundly discredited.

Fortunately for their proponents, having your theory thoroughly disproven is not a reason to continue holding.

There is also the problem that nobody has a remotely plausible hypothesis of what free will is in physical terms, or how it can arise from physical law.

So no, it is not the case that "most philosophers believe" this. Free will remains the most challenging problem in philosophy, and the more we understand about the brain, the more problematic it becomes.
 
2022-08-09 7:11:18 PM  

we_want_a_shrubbery: I tend to think that a reductionist is simply someone (scientist) who does not invoke "magic" in their explanations of natural phenomena.


PartTimeBuddha: RedVentrue: I suppose my long, rambling quasi-paragraph can be reduced to "The problem with reductionism is reductionists.".

I think more accurately your problem is with people who say "We know all we can know! Go away!" rather than people who ask, "Well, we've found this out, but how to we test the limits of this result?"


I agree. Reductionism as a philosophy is something I can accept. The reductionists argument boiled down to "Accept what I say because I've said it." is what I have a problem with. It seems to be a common end point in those kind of debates. They seem to argue from the point of view that they are the arbiter of what reality is. This is not so simple.
 
2022-08-09 7:11:29 PM  

HugeMistake: gnarlywizzard: in fact most philosphers believe that what we call free will is compatible with a deterministic universe.

That is not remotely true. In fact this topic is hotly debated among philosophers, most of them with no serious understanding of what determinism at the level of physical law actually means. However, the arguments that free will is compatible with determinism have been roundly discredited.


59 percent of professional philosophers agree with some form of compatibilism according to a 2020 survey. that's most.

how is compatibilism "discredited"? show your sources.

also how and why is it still being hotly debated amongst philosophers if compatibilism is discredited?
 
2022-08-09 7:17:28 PM  
also reductionism and determinism aren't the same thing. you can have a nondeterminist universe that nevertheless reduces to physical objects

and by that same token a deterministic universe with emergent properties is not only possible but in fact is pretty close to the mainstream philosophical picture of the nature of existence
 
2022-08-09 7:19:19 PM  

gnarlywizzard: dready zim: In an infinite universe, every possible arrangement MUST exist somewhere. An infinite number of times.

this isn't true. Cantor's diagonal argument shows that you can use an infinite series to construct a completely different infinite series that shares no members with the original series


That's why I limited the volume to what we can observe, everything within the event horizon so to speak. This is still everything that could possibly interact with you in an expanding spacetime. All we will ever see. The observable universe is not an infinite set though, it is a finite one and so Cantor does not apply.

The contents of the finite volumes will repeat because we exist in a quantised spacetime. There is a planck scale and a planck time. This granularity reduces the options for any finite volume to less than infinite, and in an infinite universe, the finite combinations contained within each event horizon must repeat.
 
2022-08-09 7:21:14 PM  

HugeMistake: gnarlywizzard: in fact most philosphers believe that what we call free will is compatible with a deterministic universe.

That is not remotely true.


True or not, the appearance or illusion of free will is very much compatible.
 
2022-08-09 7:22:11 PM  

dready zim: There are a finite amount of ways to arrange matter if you limit yourself to the observable universe. In an infinite universe, every possible arrangement MUST exist somewhere. An infinite number of times.


This is a popular fallacy, but a fallacy nonetheless. I've seen even professional cosmologists fall into this trap.

An infinite universe might contain every arrangement. Or it might contain the Milky Way exactly one, and infinite copies of the Andromeda galaxy*. Or it might contain the local galactic supercluster repeated over and over, but nothing different. Or there might be so many possible arrangements that it would take longer than the life of the universe for it to repeat itself. Or because the universe is always aging, if the universe missed a chance to make a second Milky Way early on, it will never get another chance.

And since the universe is aging, one could argue that in fact no state can ever be revisited precisely. Even if the same arrangement of matter came around a second time, dark energy will have strengthened by then and the future state will diverge from the last time.

Or - and this is one of the really cool things about infinity - it might never repeat itself, but still not contain every possible arrangement. Some arrangements might simply not be reachable as the universe explores possible states; or only reachable once. Compare a trivial example, a one dimensional universe with just two kinds of particles we'll call A and B. This universe might be arranged as follows; assume for the sake of the argument that "significant objects" in this universe are defined as a string of Bs delimited by two As.

ABABBBABBBBBA...

(I can easily write a generator rule that turns each AB*A into the next one; we'll call that a physical law in this universe).

The sequence ABA is never going to appear again. Nor is any other sequence of AB*A going to repeat. And yet this universe is infinite. Furthermore, no sequence with an even number of Bs is ever going to appear - those states are legal, but unreachable with the laws of this universe and the given starting point.

If I can do this with practically the most trivial imaginable one dimensional universe, imagine what I could do with three dimensions and an entire zoo of particles and forces.


*Actually it doesn't, obviously, but you get the point.
 
2022-08-09 7:28:09 PM  

dready zim: gnarlywizzard: dready zim: In an infinite universe, every possible arrangement MUST exist somewhere. An infinite number of times.

this isn't true. Cantor's diagonal argument shows that you can use an infinite series to construct a completely different infinite series that shares no members with the original series

That's why I limited the volume to what we can observe, everything within the event horizon so to speak. This is still everything that could possibly interact with you in an expanding spacetime. All we will ever see. The observable universe is not an infinite set though, it is a finite one and so Cantor does not apply.

The contents of the finite volumes will repeat because we exist in a quantised spacetime. There is a planck scale and a planck time. This granularity reduces the options for any finite volume to less than infinite, and in an infinite universe, the finite combinations contained within each event horizon must repeat.


I dont see how this is true? why MUST every configuration happen? whats to stop one or more configurations of matter from just never happening? especially if other configurations can alway repeat. why can't some arrangements repeat endlessly while others are physically possible but never occur in actuality? and other configs maybe occur many times but them stop and never occur again.
1/3 = .3333333.... the decimal is infinitely long but contains a finiture number of elements and 8 isnt one of them.

according to your logic, 8 MUST occur an infinite number of times in .333333....
 
2022-08-09 7:36:38 PM  

HugeMistake: dready zim: There are a finite amount of ways to arrange matter if you limit yourself to the observable universe. In an infinite universe, every possible arrangement MUST exist somewhere. An infinite number of times.

This is a popular fallacy, but a fallacy nonetheless. I've seen even professional cosmologists fall into this trap.

An infinite universe might contain every arrangement. Or it might contain the Milky Way exactly one, and infinite copies of the Andromeda galaxy*. Or it might contain the local galactic supercluster repeated over and over, but nothing different. Or there might be so many possible arrangements that it would take longer than the life of the universe for it to repeat itself. Or because the universe is always aging, if the universe missed a chance to make a second Milky Way early on, it will never get another chance.

And since the universe is aging, one could argue that in fact no state can ever be revisited precisely. Even if the same arrangement of matter came around a second time, dark energy will have strengthened by then and the future state will diverge from the last time.

Or - and this is one of the really cool things about infinity - it might never repeat itself, but still not contain every possible arrangement. Some arrangements might simply not be reachable as the universe explores possible states; or only reachable once. Compare a trivial example, a one dimensional universe with just two kinds of particles we'll call A and B. This universe might be arranged as follows; assume for the sake of the argument that "significant objects" in this universe are defined as a string of Bs delimited by two As.

ABABBBABBBBBA...

(I can easily write a generator rule that turns each AB*A into the next one; we'll call that a physical law in this universe).

The sequence ABA is never going to appear again. Nor is any other sequence of AB*A going to repeat. And yet this universe is infinite. Furthermore, no sequence with an even number of Bs is e ...


I've bolded the part that you seem to have glossed over.

Sure, if you have a single infinite set, strange things happen to the maths, but if you have an infinite number of finite sets they repeat.

In our universe, everything we can interact with is within an event horizon. Call it a finite set if you like.

Logically, as it is finite, we can reduce it to a set of 1 bit. 0 or 1, that's every possibility. Of course, you can arrange those bits an infinite number of ways, -010100 etc but you are repeating the sets. There will be an infinite number of universe 1 and also universe 0. In your example, there will be infinite copies of A and also B. The arrangement of As and Bs is irrelevent.

Our universe has many more possible combinations, but a finite number. Any finite set, however large, arranged infintely, will repeat an infinite number of times.
 
2022-08-09 7:38:11 PM  

gnarlywizzard: dready zim: gnarlywizzard: dready zim: In an infinite universe, every possible arrangement MUST exist somewhere. An infinite number of times.

this isn't true. Cantor's diagonal argument shows that you can use an infinite series to construct a completely different infinite series that shares no members with the original series

That's why I limited the volume to what we can observe, everything within the event horizon so to speak. This is still everything that could possibly interact with you in an expanding spacetime. All we will ever see. The observable universe is not an infinite set though, it is a finite one and so Cantor does not apply.

The contents of the finite volumes will repeat because we exist in a quantised spacetime. There is a planck scale and a planck time. This granularity reduces the options for any finite volume to less than infinite, and in an infinite universe, the finite combinations contained within each event horizon must repeat.

I dont see how this is true? why MUST every configuration happen? whats to stop one or more configurations of matter from just never happening? especially if other configurations can alway repeat. why can't some arrangements repeat endlessly while others are physically possible but never occur in actuality? and other configs maybe occur many times but them stop and never occur again.
1/3 = .3333333.... the decimal is infinitely long but contains a finiture number of elements and 8 isnt one of them.

according to your logic, 8 MUST occur an infinite number of times in .333333....


I said it was every possible arrangement. The unpossible ones wont happen obviously.
 
2022-08-09 7:38:44 PM  

dready zim: This would mean an infinite number of you are reading these exact words


And in an infinite number I didn't. And in an infinite number I read them with care. And in an also inifinite number I basically read them knowing the poster didn't even know the point he was making.

There's a weird idea about multiuniverse theory that it's all about the decisions folk make. As if we tweak the quantum world by our acts of will. As if our acts of will were anything other than quantum in the first place.

I have yet to see any effect of belief on any quantum experiment
 
2022-08-09 7:42:17 PM  

gnarlywizzard: why MUST every configuration happen?


I'm not going to give you basic teaching of what happens to probability when it bumps up to infinity. You seem smart enough to dive down that rabbit hole yourself. TLDR probabilities (however small) become certainties. They MUST happen.

gnarlywizzard: I dont see how this is true


Just because you do not see it does not make it not so.
 
2022-08-09 7:45:53 PM  

gnarlywizzard: HugeMistake: gnarlywizzard: in fact most philosphers believe that what we call free will is compatible with a deterministic universe.

That is not remotely true. In fact this topic is hotly debated among philosophers, most of them with no serious understanding of what determinism at the level of physical law actually means. However, the arguments that free will is compatible with determinism have been roundly discredited.


Before I get into this in detail: Give me any coherent definition of compatibilism - including a coherent, testable, operable definition of free will - and I will explain why it doesn't work. (If you like, I will explain a version of compatibilism that could work, but I don't think you will like it).


59 percent of professional philosophers agree with some form of compatibilism according to a 2020 survey. that's most.

"Some form of compatibilism" is doing a lot of work there. On closer inspection you'll find a decent number are saying "yes but not really" because they have a peculiar definition of "compatibilism" (such as "there isn't really free will in one sense, but there is still freedom to choose"); or they don't actually understand what determinism implies. Many of them cannot even agree what "free will" is. It's actually absurd to include all of these theses in a bucket called "some form of compatibilism" since many of them contradict each other

how is compatibilism "discredited"? show your sources.

Just because philosophers don't understand physics does not make it a credible theory. Here's a really good example of the kind of confused thinking going on with compatibilists Compatibilism: What's Wrong, and How to Fix It - A Keen Grasp...of the obvious (marvinedwards.me)

Notice how the author states that "causal necessity is not a meaningful constraint" and that some constraints count as causal but others, somehow, count as "freedom"! This may be useful to philosophers, but to any physical definition of causality, it's just gibberish. And it's absolutely typical of arguments for compatibilism.

And then there's this: "causal necessity is not a relevant constraint, because it always applies to every event that happens". So the author concedes that actually everything is causal, i.e. deterministic, and therefore it doesn't count. WTF?

The author - like most compatibilists - freely mixes levels of explanation without realizing they were doing it: "maybe determinism caused her to go to the restaurant, but what mood she is in, how hungry she is, what she had for breakfast, and whether she has decided to go on a diet allow her to freely choose from the menu" - while cheerfully ignoring the fact that all those other things are just high level descriptions of other states that themselves were also deterministic when you examine them more closely.

It's as if the author believes there are two independent "strands" running through the universe: physical things that are deterministic, and non-physical things like emotions and moods and choices that are not in fact determined by their physical substrates. Or as the author puts it, "Once determinism is correctly defined, it no longer poses any threat to free will." There's a fine Humpty Dumpty argument for you!

In other words, it's nonsense.

Here's a good read that covers most of the problems of compatibilism: Compatibilism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) and the continuing debates. I love the bit where it explains that one popular compatibilist response to the argument for incompatibilism is "In response to these arguments, compatibilists have denied that freedom requires the ability to do otherwise [than was actually done]". So in this definition, the "free agent" can only do one thing, but that's still freedom. WTF?

also how and why is it still being hotly debated amongst philosophers if compatibilism is discredited?

Because philosophers care very little if non-philosophers have demolished their claims. Or even if other philosophers have. As mentioned above, many of them cannot even agree what "free will" is. Or understand determinism. Remember, philosophers (and theologians) have been debating this topic for millennia without making an iota of progress; however they have been making a nice living off of it.
 
2022-08-09 7:48:24 PM  

PartTimeBuddha: And in an infinite number I didn't. And in an infinite number I read them with care. And in an also inifinite number I basically read them knowing the poster didn't even know the point he was making.


Yes, absolutely, although I would correct you about knowing, you would only think you know, hehe.

PartTimeBuddha: There's a weird idea about multiuniverse theory that it's all about the decisions folk make.


I don't subscribe to that one myself, many worlds etc, I reckon time doesn't play by the same rules we experience when you get really small.
 
2022-08-09 7:49:46 PM  

dready zim: Sure, if you have a single infinite set, strange things happen to the maths, but if you have an infinite number of finite sets they repeat.


No they don't, for exactly the reasons I listed above. You could have one finite set consisting of the Milky Way galaxy; and an infinite number of finite sets consisting of the Andromeda galaxy. And the Milky Way will never recur. Or you could have one finite set with one galaxy, the next with two, the next with three... each set is finite; there are an infinite number of them; no two are the same.

If you think otherwise, I would like to see a rigorous mathematical proof that the sets must repeat. And for the record, "there are only a finite number of ways to arrange a finite number of particles" is not adequate because there are an infinite number of ways to select the finite number of particles in each finite set (which is essentially what allows them all to be different).
 
2022-08-09 7:50:26 PM  

PartTimeBuddha: I have yet to see any effect of belief on any quantum experiment


Indeed. Some people have odd ideas about it, but to me that shows they have not got a good grasp of it.
 
2022-08-09 7:52:33 PM  

dready zim: I'm not going to give you basic teaching of what happens to probability when it bumps up to infinity.


Not to be rude, but you could use that class yourself. Because you are handwaving here and relying on words to do the work of math. Probability routinely works with infinite sets (or infinite numbers of finite sets) without everything going to probability 1.

And if you want the rest of us to "see that", you're going to have to show how its true. With math, now words.
 
2022-08-09 7:54:30 PM  
People have been making the case for this sort of "promissory note" materialism since the 1950s and you know what, since then NO ONE has presented  even a vaguely plausible reductionist view of the nature of consciousness. Indeed this is why the people who have drank the materialist cool aid have gone all out and endorsed eliminativist views--basically "I believe there are no beliefs"

To be sure, there are problems with standard issue Cartesian dualism, but those problems hardly justifying head in the sand "mind is physical.. it just has to be.. hell if I know HOW" --yeah yeah there are views--read Dennett's Consciousness Explained (better titled "Consciousness ignored") to see how really smart people can end up defending absurd views.

Panpsychism or idealism in one of its various stripes has much better prospects for an intelligible philosophy of mind.
 
2022-08-09 7:56:49 PM  

dready zim: Any finite set, however large, arranged infintely, will repeat an infinite number of times.


i respectfully disagree. a finite amount of matter has room in infinite time and space for novel configurations. infinite time and space in fact guarantees novel configurations no matter how much matter you have because you always have entropy increasing and the universe expanding, literally more time and space is being made for the particles to exist and configure in, always increasing the total number of possible arrangements without increasing the elements themselves. you can arrange x particles y number of ways in spacetime z, but z is always increasing, so when you get to spacetime 2z you have some multiple of y ways of configuring the same x particles. since x stays the same it never catches up to y multiplying along with z. the evolving universe makes too mamy configurations possible.

except you cant ultimately stop entropy. at some point dark energy will have stretched the universe apart so much that every quark is beyond the event horizon of every other quark and matter can no longer be in configuration at all
 
2022-08-09 8:08:55 PM  

HugeMistake: dready zim: Sure, if you have a single infinite set, strange things happen to the maths, but if you have an infinite number of finite sets they repeat.

No they don't, for exactly the reasons I listed above. You could have one finite set consisting of the Milky Way galaxy; and an infinite number of finite sets consisting of the Andromeda galaxy. And the Milky Way will never recur. Or you could have one finite set with one galaxy, the next with two, the next with three... each set is finite; there are an infinite number of them; no two are the same.

If you think otherwise, I would like to see a rigorous mathematical proof that the sets must repeat. And for the record, "there are only a finite number of ways to arrange a finite number of particles" is not adequate because there are an infinite number of ways to select the finite number of particles in each finite set (which is essentially what allows them all to be different).


OK. No.

There simply is not an infinite number of ways to arrange a finite number of things inside a space of a finite size because that space is quantized.

There are a very large number of ways, not infinite. You are conflating very large with infinite. You appear to think infinity is a number that is very big. It's not.

If you want a rigorous mathematical proof then go study maths, specifically infinities.
 
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