ROADMAP (well, not yet really...

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 15:03:50 +0200

...but I send it anyway .... It is a way to recall that I think the
main point I want to convey has already be defended by many thinkers a
long time ago.


Interrupting a thread which was going much too technical, George asked
me to explain the main points like if I was talking to a grandmother. I
guess he means someone with some motivation but with no background in
math, physics or computer science. Now this is not so much difficult,
but I guess it will be disappointing for those who asks a little more.
So I will begin by a short explanation to the "grandmother" and I will
finish by extending the grandmother to ...well, hopefully you all :),
and that will be a roadmap, that is not only a summary, but a plan for
progressing (in my work and in our discussion).

Now if the grandmother knows about Aristotle and Plato, I can sum up by
saying that about the nature of matter, we can show that if we assume
that we are (numerical, digital) machine then Plato's theory of Matter
is correct and Aristotle's theory of Matter is incorrect.

If grandmother asks for recalling the main difference between Plato and
Aristotle's theories of matter, I would just say that in Plato, the
visible (observable, measurable) realm is taken as appearances or
shadows related to a deeper unknown reality. Aristotle's theory is more
subtle. Matter corresponds to what can take any shape, and as such is
defined by its indeterminateness. This is an impressive progress, but
alas, Aristotle will reify that indeterminateness, and will suppose the
independent existence of a substrate (defined as something entirely
determinable by its parts when we act upon it), and in that manner will
be at the origin of naturalism, physicalism, materialism, and we know
the success this idea will have.

And now if Grandmother is interested, probably I would offer her an
exemplar of Plotinus Enneads, and suggest she read the Ennead 3
treatise II, where he corrected Aristotle theory's of matter
(indeterminateness, obscurity, privation, ...) with respect to the
Plato theory. And that's it.

"And what about the formidable success of modern physics?" asks the
No doubt that as a methodology, Aristotle hypothesis has been a clever
simplification which has without doubt played a key role in the
development of "modern" science. But if you look in the details, modern
physics does not even rely on Aristotle's reification of matter, it
just ease the mind for the ontological background. Now, when you do
that reification, even just in "modern physics" you will suffer many
form of "hallucinations", like wave packet collapsing at infinite speed
or like proliferation of "classical physical worlds" (some "na´ve" view
on the many worlds), etc.

But what if grandmother does not care about history, and would like a
sketch of the "modern" reasoning? OK that's for tomorrow ...


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Received on Fri Aug 11 2006 - 09:05:54 PDT

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