Re: Two voices in the void!

From: M. Robbins <>
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 13:48:15 -0800 (PST)

Hey Eddie, et. al.,

I haven't had time to retrieve the archives, so I hope you don't mind
putting my two cents in here . . .

On Sat, 14 Nov 1998, Eddie Edmondson wrote:

> Hi Jacques & Wei Dai
> Is there anybody else out there?
> I subscribed 6 October after Max pointed me in this direction, but total zilch happened until now. Do we need to get the ball rolling, or is it there already, but just inaccessible from my e-universe? I'm happy to kick it off, with the following text extracted from a mail I sent to MT:
> "I hope you will allow me to contribute some postulations (no reply is
> necessary, but I do hope you can find time to read):
> 1. Mathematics is a continuum, putting it into discretely labelled packages
> may hinder thought.

I'm not sure what this means . . . certainly our mathematical models of
the universe represent it as continuous, but I don't know how mathematics
itself can be a continuum . . . maybe you can fill me in . . .

> 2. I believe the total math continuum exists independently of any universe,
> i.e. it was there "before" "our" big bang, and "outside" of our space.

Are you are suggesting that mathematical theorems are necessarily existent
abstracty entities, like some people take propositions and states of
affairs to be? Or is this something else?
Also, what's a "universe" on your usage? Is it a spatiotemporally unified
concrete set of existents? Is it a possible world in some abstract
representationalist sense?
> 3. Assuming the total math is consistent (it seems to be so far), then it
> can never be complete (Godel): there is an infinity of theorems to be
> discovered.
There are undoubtedly an infinite number of theorems to be discovered, but
this isn't a consequence of Godel's incompleteness proof as I understand
it. Godel's proof merely tells us that for every logical system, some
statements that are strue in that system will necessarily be unprovable in
that system. So is you are taking mathematics to be such a system, there
will be within this sytem unprovable, but true theorems.

> 4. We should regard theorems as the cause of physical laws, not just the
> explanations for them. Relativity's a good model to ponder about on this
> one, as is the 4-colour map.

Cause in what sense? How does one set of abstract entities "cause"
another set of abstract entities?
> 5. It follows from 3 and 4 that there exist mathematical causes for the
> creation of an infinity of universes and all the physical laws pertinent to
> each universe: you can start with a set of axioms and arrive at a set of
> dimensions, a set of physics and a set of physical phenomena. And in any
> universe, if a theorem can have a valid physical representation, then the
> representation will be realised.
I don't see how this follows. Not unless you are assuming that
mathematical theorems can somehow be the hylarchic cause of the universe
 (or all universes). The last statement here strikes me as a very
quiestionable maxim. Why assume that all (mathematically consistent?)
possibilities will be actualized? On the normal causal model, concrete
existents must be appealed to in a causal explanation of concrete
existents. Obviously this won't work in a causal explanation of the
entire universe (or set of universes). But that, in itself, doesn't
justify appeal to such an anomalous form of causation.

> 6. Our existence is proof that there is at least one theorem which allows a
> dimensional system which is (reasonably) stable in both time and space.
> There may be an infinity of other stable dimensional physical systems.
> There's certainly an infinity of others which aren't.
> 7. We may be able to prove there's a universe which differs from ours, for
> example, only by a change in the zillionth decimal place of the ratio of
> electron/proton mass. Would it sustain observers? We should in theory be
> able to deduce whether there are valid rules which would allow
> self-awareness to come into being.
> 8. If we can deduce all of 7 above from within our own universe, by using
> the "Universal" mathematics, then we have also demonstrated that existence
> of the other universe does not require its own internal sentience, or SAS.
> I'm afraid that leads to the conclusion that awareness - internal or
> external - is not a requisite for existence. I love your ideas, but I think
> you're pushing anthropic principles too much. We're here because we're here
> because we're here, and that's that (and as you say, "luck" has nothing to
> do with it). The fact that vastly complex chemical feedback processes exist
> which generate "life" doesn't prove anything outside of those processes. The
> external world is solely and completely defined by mathematics, and we are
> just a small part of that definition.

I agree with you here - as far as I've seen, anthropic principles can give
us only trivial conclusions with regard to the origin of the universe,
unless one commits some modal fallacy in the reasoning (or, unless, the
principle itself is formulated in an absurdly strong fashion).
> > If you read this far, thanks for your indulgence. Good luck in your
> researches. And congratulations on your marketing skills!"
> As Stephen Hawking says in a talk-over (synthesize-over?) for a British Telecom ad on TV here,
> we must keep talking, keep talking, keep talking....
> James Edmondson
I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for getting the ball rolling . . .

Received on Sat Nov 14 1998 - 13:49:34 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:06 PST