RE: Atomic Metaphysics

From: Higgo James <>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 09:46:08 -0000


Thanks for the replies.

The new paragraph gets rid of my small objection. The quibble on use of
'metaphysics' was at the end of (I think) part 4, but I don't have the paper
with me as I write. There was no error on your part, just that feeling that
I, the reader, was being boxed in to using the word in a narrower way than I
would like. This is usually a prelude to drawing a conclusion that I
disagree with but can't figure out why.

I'm right behind you in wanting to be rid of mysticism. As Arthur C Clarke
said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

On the Quantum Immortality idea: no, there is no channel selection. You
find yourself in branches where you are alive because you don't find
yourself anywhere when you're dead - anthropic principle stuff.

The issue that I am most concerned about at the moment is gradual loss of
consciousness, eg Alzheimer's. Max Tegmark raised this too in his last
e-mail. But I have made "various assumptions about the underlying reality"
and I cling to the belief that once we understand consciousness better, this
paradox will be seen as a category mistake.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Phylliss and Vic Stenger []
> Sent: 27 November 1998 19:35
> Subject: Re: Atomic Metaphysics
> This message was sent to me originally and was not on the list. However,
> it is relevant.
> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Vic,
> >
> > I'm an economist trying to understand the philosophy of
> > quantum physics. Your fine book (The Unconscious Quantum)
> > helped, but please bear with me.
> >
> > First, a couple of comments on your 'Atomic Metaphysics':
> >
> > In part 2, I'm not sure that new paradigms necessarily 'arise
> > from tentative pictures of imagined reality'. That certainly wasn't
> > the case with Copenhagen.
> I realize that my latest draft is not on the web. I will put it on. The
> offending paragraph has already been changed to read:
> In developing paradigms, scientists usually have some metaphysical picture
> in
> mind. That is, they make various assumptions about the underlying reality.
> Those assumptions can change as the paradigm develops. So, when a paradigm
> has
> reached the top by natural selection, by being the best puzzle solver in
> its
> field, the metaphysics that comes along with it should be assigned a few
> more
> points than its competitors. Conceivably, after the passage of time, one
> specific metaphysics may be found to have earned such a significantly
> higher
> score than the others that we can, for all practical purposes, take it to
> fairly represent how things "really are."
> >
> > At the end of part 4, may I suggest that you are using the word,
> > 'metaphysics' in an unusual way? It seems from the text that
> > what you mean by metaphysics is 'where we are hoping
> > physics will end up'.
> Can you cite the exact place where I give this impression? It certainly is
> not
> intended that way.
> >
> > On a separate note, I know you're not a fan of Everett's
> > interpretation... but can't we MWI-philes use Occam's razor to
> > get rid of theories which posit a collapse, or hidden variables,
> > as both inventions are surplus to requirements? It seems
> > simpler and more elegant to say that Schroedinger's equations
> > hold always.
> "than" to say?
> We have had a lot of discussion of MWI on the list recently, as well as
> the
> other notion of parallel universes that comes from cosmology and may not
> (or
> may?) be related. I whole agree that MWI was a vast improvement by doing
> away
> with collapse. It is not the formalism I objected to in The Unconscious
> Quantum. I welcomed it's doing away with collapse and the associated
> mysticism
> of quantum consciousness. It was the mysticism attached to MWI that I
> objected to - and there is a lot of that too. That's why I praised "post
> Everett" quantum mechanics, which comes under various names: alternate
> histories, consistent histories, decoherence.
> >
> > You might argue that I need to posit parallel universes, which is
> > just as bad as a wave function collapse, or a hidden nonlocal
> > variable, or time reversibility. But actually I don't. That's simply
> > a consequence of the equation. I don't need to posit it. That's
> > reality. That argument would be like saying I have to say that a
> > metal bar is shorter when it's travelling towards me if I want to
> > argue for general relativity.
> >
> > I would be delighted to hear your thoughts.
> >
> But, I noticed you still had the observer affect the outcome in your
> little
> article, which seem like you have combined the worst of both Copenhagen
> and
> MWI. Squires does something similar, with the "channel selector" being
> human
> consciousness. This strikes me as doubly uneconomical (and you, an
> economist!), an objection I also have to Bohm.
> Vic
Received on Mon Nov 30 1998 - 01:57:09 PST

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