Re: Is reality unknowable?

From: Sanford Aranoff <>
Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 21:06:13 -0400

Too many messages.

I cannot read them all.

Is there a user group where these things are more organized? Hope so, else I'll
have to block these messages.

Stephen Paul King wrote:

> Dear Hal,
> No, it is not the case that such questions "have no meaning". The "Liar
> paradox", in its many forms and instantiations, convey a meaning. The
> problem, IMHO, is in the assumption that the negation is "instantaneous".
> For example, when we read the sentence "This sentence is false", we "take it
> in" as a whole, it is meaningful as a whole, but we must realize that the
> reading of the string of letters is not a process that is instantaneous or
> "takes no time" to perform. Every physical process requires some non-zero
> duration.
> This is at the heart of my argument against proposals such as those of
> Bruno Marchal. The "duration" required to instantiate a relation, even one
> between a priori "existing" numbers can not be assumed to be zero and still
> be a meaningful one. You are correct in saying that "the question has no
> meaning", but only in the Ideal sense of ignoring the reality of duration,
> even within Logic.
> Kindest regards,
> Stephen
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Hal Finney" <>
> To: <>; <>
> Sent: Saturday, October 25, 2003 11:51 AM
> Subject: Re: Is reality unknowable?
> > It's also possible that the question, although seemingly made up of
> > ordinary English language words used in a logical way, is actually
> > incoherent.
> >
> > If I say, proposition P is both true and false, that is a sentence made
> > up of English words, but it does not really make sense. I could then
> > demand to know whether P is true or false, and whatever answer you give,
> > I say that it is the opposite. If you say P is true, I point out that
> > we just agreed that P was false, and vice versa.
> >
> > This is a trivial example because the paradox is so shallow, but the
> > same thing is true for deeper paradoxes. The problem is not a failure
> > of our reasoning tools, but rather that the question has no meaning.
> >
> > So you can't always take a sequence of words and expect to get an
> > unambiguous and valid answer. You must always consider the possibility
> > that your question is meaningless. The fact that people can't necessarily
> > answer it does not imply that mathematics is unknowable or that there
> > is no such thing as mathematical knowledge. There may be other reasons
> > to think so, but it does not follow merely because a given sequence of
> > words has no consistent analysis.
> >
> > Hal Finney
> >
> >
Received on Sat Oct 25 2003 - 21:07:36 PDT

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