Thought vs Matter/Energy

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby Serpent on February 7th, 2020, 1:37 am 

Reg_Prescott » February 6th, 2020, 10:19 pm wrote:

Fixing is not my business, good sir.


Which elicits the question - What is?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on February 8th, 2020, 11:25 pm 

Hyksos

I apologise for the length of this reply, but so many things have been thrown at me.

I am truly astonished by the level of contention that my comments on maths and inevitability have generated in you.

I have not said that the mathematics of QM is invalid, nor that proves things which contradict the traditional laws of physics. It isn’t and it doesn’t. Neither have I said that Dr.Arkani-Hamed doesn’t believe in that mathematics. I don’t know why you suggest that I have, because I believe that he does justifiably do so.

But the mathematics of QM does approach things in a fundamentally different way to traditional mathematics – and that fundamental difference lies in the deployment of probabilities to account for different outcomes. That said, if the factors we observe do allow us to narrow the odds to 100% then QM will exactly recreate traditional laws.

I thought it was undeniable that the mathematics of Newton and Einstein produces single outcomes as part of a balanced equation. However where experiments repeatedly produce more than one outcome to a given start point, for unknown reasons, then the use of probabilities is the only way in which the mathematics could cope with it.

We might speculate that it is down to hidden factors, (determinist theory), or we could accept that true randomness and spontaneity exist – ie.
Spontaneity – an outcome without a prior cause
Randomness – more than one outcome from a specific/precise start point

The case is not proven either way, and you cannot say that it has been. But if true spontaneity or randomness do exist then it must surely be true that traditional maths could not work because the equations wouldn’t balance.

It would be foolish for anyone to deny experimental results that give us multiple potential outcomes from a precise start point, so nobody denies the validity of using QM maths with probabilities, but that doesn’t answer the philosophical point of what is causing those differences.

In terms of inevitability Dr.Arkani-Hamed said these specific words….
“These two ideas about Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are so incredibly constraining that they make the structure of the universe around us, inevitable. So you can imagine that if you handed some reasonably competent theoretical physicist the laws of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and locked him up in a room; didn’t allow him to observe the outside world; and asked him just from the power of his thoughts, to describe what the world could possibly look like, ….. he should come out and describe the world exactly as we see it.

This is a quite amazing fact, and you need both Relativity and Quantum Mechanics for it to be true. So in a sense, the structure of the world around us is inevitable. That’s one of the real intellectual triumphs of the 20th century.”


That comment is very specific and unequivocal, and it is very much in line with determinist principles and the basis of traditional maths. It doesn’t say anything about the factors which we observe but struggle to explain. But as we see, he does state specifically that they do lead to inevitability.

But Dr.Arkani-Hamed does go on to say that Relativity and QM pose some impossible questions in relation to time and the scale of the universe etc., (ie. questions of origin), so they almost certainly need to be modified in our next description of reality. Indeed, (as I mentioned before), he says that

“Almost all of us believe that spacetime doesn’t exist – spacetime is doomed, and has to be replaced by some more primitive building blocks. And it is also conceivable that …. we may have to put limitations on Quantum Mechanics.”

And he says this by reference to resolving some aspects of cosmology, and also why the ‘microscopic universe’ (as he describes it), exists at all.

To be honest, I hear this a lot from almost all of the senior physicists I have heard/encountered. It is nothing new – and nothing which I thought was in dispute. But it is also very different from our ability to predict the outcomes of particular QM experiments.

It is true that the widest versions of Quantum Theory have allowed people to explore wider possibilities, but they are not proof and have certainly not nailed the philosophical questions.

As mentioned before, I personally do believe in some level of true randomness and spontaneity, but the thing that stops me from expecting chaos is that generally the range of possible outcomes in most scenarios is limited – which implies that there is some form of pattern/structure that stops an infinite set of possibilities in all circumstances. But the truth is that none of us really know.

You asked me to be specific about where physical principles seem to be being broken as a way of showing the potential for a 2nd type of stuff – but ignore the 3 examples that I have already given.

The various permutations of the dual slit experiment, from ‘Wheeler’s Delayed Choice’ to the ‘Quantum Eraser’ experiments have thrown out a series of dilemmas that cannot be resolved on existing principles about the nature of matter. Wave particle duality was a vague notion to describe the observed effects but not to explain them, at least, not in any way that we understand physical matter to work normally. Even the very nature of a wave, (as described), is at odds with the descriptions which some people throw out.

Whether we look at waves on the surface of a pond created by someone’s finger, or pressure waves caused by a train going through air, it is not the finger or the train which transforms to generate the waves – it is the pool of fluid through which the finger or train is passing that produces the wave. Yet wave particle duality says that it is (effectively) the finger or the train which magically transforms into a wave – contrary to everything we know and understand.

Neither does this notion of wave particle duality explain the various experimental results above, without suggesting and relying on a particle’s supposed ‘sense’ of what is coming and in some cases, going back in time to change previously detected results. Doesn’t sound very convincing to me.

On the other hand, a hidden/undetected pool of other stuff would explain all results very simply and in ways which conform to our basic understanding of how physical matter operates. The only thing that stands in the way of that simple explanation is the fact that we haven’t detected any other type of stuff. The same could be said of Dark Energy – which might be a potential candidate for this stuff. But whatever it is, it could equate to a dualist 2nd type of stuff.

In relation to my second example, while I am not a theoretical physicist, I have heard the outcomes of the experiments to test Bell’s Theorem, in different ways but with the same basic conclusion. On a UK science programme, (Secrets of Quantum Mechanics), which I saw recently, a well known physicist (Jim Al-Khalili) described the essence of experiments to track paired particles which had been structured in such a way that the results could never possibly/logically generate a value greater than 2 – but it did – time and time again. The principles had therefore been broken.

The same is true of the faster than light experiments – and by the way, I never said that the paired particles communicated via some hidden messenger particle – just that the effects equated to faster than light communications – by many orders of magnitude.

So please, let’s have your responses to these specific examples that I gave before.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby hyksos on February 15th, 2020, 1:38 pm 

lateralsuz,

I worry you are no longer talking to us. At least 80% of your post is clearly passages copied from a book, or a website or some other source. In particular,

The various permutations of the dual slit experiment, from ‘Wheeler’s Delayed Choice’ to the ‘Quantum Eraser’ experiments have thrown out a series of dilemmas that cannot be resolved on existing principles about the nature of matter. Wave particle duality was a vague notion to describe the observed effects but not to explain them, at least, not in any way that we understand physical matter to work normally. Even the very nature of a wave, (as described), is at odds with the descriptions which some people throw out.

It is baldly obvious that you are not the author of this paragraph. If I had to guesstimate, I would assume you copy-pasted this passage out of a book by Finipolscie.

So please, let’s have your responses to these specific examples that I gave before.

I have effectively, pointedly, relevantly replied to everything you have posted in this thread, and you just persist on repeating yourself.

As mentioned before, I personally do believe in some level of true randomness and spontaneity, but the thing that stops me from expecting chaos is that generally the range of possible outcomes in most scenarios is limited – which implies that there is some form of pattern/structure that stops an infinite set of possibilities in all circumstances. But the truth is that none of us really know.

No. We do know this pattern/structure that limits. Quantum mechanics does not always entail these sorts of "interesting" 50/50 probabilities studied by condensed-matter physicists and debated by "philosophers" on the internet. You can tune an optics experiment to get 100% outcomes. That 100% is, in fact, predicted by QM itself.


In terms of inevitability Dr.Arkani-Hamed said these specific words….

I am a huge fan of this man , and I have followed him for years. Your attempts to put words into his mouth and speak for him to me, as if I need your help understanding him -- this is both parts insulting and blasphemous.

What Nima is communicating to the room is that QM and GR are not a "Free-for all" that allows anything. Quite the opposite, those theories are highly constraining, in terms of the kinds of universes they permit. On other parts of this forum, I have quoted Nima in regards to how finely tuned the laws of physics are. If some of these fundamental constants were off by 1 part in trillions, the universe wouldn't even form stars. It is those things that Nima is pointing to when he says that our existence here is near "inevitable".

One example is that if the cosmlogical constant were off by 1 part in 10^-27, the universe would be completely empty. To hell with stars, there wouldn't even be rocks. So yeah, it's highly constraining.

The same is true of the faster than light experiments – and by the way, I never said that the paired particles communicated via some hidden messenger particle – just that the effects equated to faster than light communications – by many orders of magnitude.

It's good that you didn't say that. That would be Hidden Variable Theory. Nobody adopts this position anymore. No respectable scientists says this. Your stuffing this into the mouths of working scientists is frankly annoying.


We might speculate that it is down to hidden factors, (determinist theory), or we could accept that true randomness and spontaneity exist – ie.
Spontaneity – an outcome without a prior cause
Randomness – more than one outcome from a specific/precise start point

The case is not proven either way, and you cannot say that it has been. But if true spontaneity or randomness do exist then it must surely be true that traditional maths could not work because the equations wouldn’t balance.

Yes. You are rubbing up against a principle that is called Laplacianism. I told you this already, but your brain did not digest it. Will you persist in repeating yourself and will we go in circles?

The universe is not a big deterministic machine. This statement is not my "internet guy opinion". In 2020, mankind and his civilization can measure the effects of vacuum fluctuations on cold superconductors. Under experimental conditions to boot, and then publish graphs of the quantified results.

In 2020, mankind has performed Loophole-free Bell's Inequality experiments. Nature defied the inequalities yet again, just as it had been doing for the last 30 years.

This thing we live in, this universe, is not a machine. The vacuum of space will 'bump' electrons around a superconductor and cause them to re-organize into higher states of order, even when those electrons have no energy. That is vehemently impossible according to classical physics. This is not 1973. This stuff is not speculated on chalkboards anymore. It is observed.

I don't expect layman outside of condensed matter physics, or laymen outside a university to know these things. That would be an unfair expectation on my part. If you want to get into this topic, here are the keywords to google

{ condensed matter physics }

{ quantum phase transition }

{ quantum phase transition superconductor }

{ quantum field theory vacuum }

{ Bell's inequalities }

{ Hidden variable theory }

I could give you two dozen examples just like the one below. But this should give you a good idea of what you should be looking for and finding. This is an abstract from a peer-reviewed article published in the journal, Nature, in 2018. You should know that the authors of the such papers cannot make claims in the ABSTRACT that cannot be demonstrated concretely. You cannot put speculation or opinion in an abstract. I have placed bold onto the parts that should pique your attention.

some random CMP pub wrote:Superconductor-insulator transition is one of the remarkable phenomena driven by quantum fluctuation in two-dimensional (2D) systems. Such a quantum phase transition (QPT) was investigated predominantly on highly disordered thin films with amorphous or granular structures using scaling law with constant exponents. Here, we provide a totally different view of QPT in highly crystalline 2D superconductors. According to the magneto-transport measurements in 2D superconducting ZrNCl and MoS2, we found that the quantum metallic state commonly observed at low magnetic fields is converted via the quantum Griffiths state to the weakly localized metal at high magnetic fields. The scaling behavior, characterized by the diverging dynamical critical exponent (Griffiths singularity), indicates that the quantum fluctuation manifests itself as superconducting puddles, in marked contrast with the thermal fluctuation. We suggest that an evolution from the quantum metallic to the quantum Griffiths state is generic nature in highly crystalline 2D superconductors with weak pinning potentials.


The quantum fluctuations are manifest. Further, they are markedly different than the phenomena of thermal fluctuation, as is stated directly afterwards.

(Let me translate that into english) : The electrons in a superconductor are being bumped around by fluctuations that are not heat, and not some un-accounted for residual heat. The authors call that "thermal fluctuation" and state , that aint it,brother. The electrons are being bumped by ...something else... something of a markedly different nature. What would that be?

It is the vacuum. The vacuum of space.

For emphasis, I repeat this is not a needle in a haystack. I could find two dozen more abstracts like this that say similarly crazy things about vacuum fluctuations. E.g. "...deviations of the mean field strength are accounted for by vacuum fluctuations." No, I'm not joking.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby hyksos on February 15th, 2020, 1:44 pm 

So yeah, you have all the key words which will act as portals into this topic. The ball is in your court to find the time and effort and motivation to read up and get prepared. Laplacianism (universe-is-giant-machine) was stated by Laplace 206 years ago. Two hundred and six.

The 20th century as a bombshell (in more ways than one). At the end of the day, you're dealing with a topic that caused even Albert Einstein to start rambling incoherently about God throwing dice. If philosophical speculation and opinion don't float your boat, you're in luck -> there are experiments.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby TheVat on February 15th, 2020, 8:31 pm 

Hyksos, I will consider your long post, touching on CMP, Bell, etc. as a useful resource here, to return to. I appreciate the time you take on this sort of topic. LaPlace's demon has been pretty well exorcised. That old deterministic view of nature was what prompted Niels Bohr to make his famous quip: "Prediction is difficult, especially the future."
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on February 20th, 2020, 10:59 am 

Hyksos / The Vat

I sometimes feel we are talking angrily at each other, when closer examination says that we are often on the same side - possibly with a slight twist.

We got onto these long diatribes because of an original comment which was trying to suggest the possibility of a 2nd type of stuff underpinning reality. If Strict Causality underpins the level of reality that we occupy, then evidence of randomness and spontaneity as defined, may point to another influence.

If we agree on the various examples you mentioned, including loophole free Bell inequalities - then that only strengthens the evidence for 'other factors' - whether that is hidden variables or true randomness and spontaneity.

Can there be any other possibilities than these 3?

If not, we are in agreement... again. But if there are , then I would genuinely like to know what the difference might be, in broad terms.

In terms of background / default positions within science - I did not put the words into Dr.Arkhani-Hamed's mouth. He said them all by himself - and he did specifically say that 'inevitability' was one of the great intellectual achievements of the 20th century.

He also specifically referred to it in relation to Quantum Mechanics - so I am not deliberately twisting his words - he said them. Yet, for the reasons I described, there are ways to reconcile my interpretation and yours. The two are not necessarily incompatible - but while you have committed to one perspective, I would like to keep options open when neither side is actually proven.

It remains true that mathematics generally only delivers a single outcome - which is why determinism has had such a long reign. The fact that so many scientists still do not wish to ditch their use of mathematics shows an intrinsic desire to retain its principles - even if we do recognise that multiple outcomes do seem to arise - particularly at the quantum level. So there is a considerable mixing of philosophies here.

The way we live our lives gives me the instinct that determinism cannot be the full story - even if it might be true for the majority of physical interactions at our level of reality. But the point remains, that true spontaneity and randomness would destroy the traditional maths that has described scientific principles to date. If you deny true spontaneity and randomness then there can only be hidden variables - isn't that true?

In your example, you suggested that the vacuum of space caused particles to bump around - but a vacuum in this context is a hidden variable - and in itself shouldn't be able to do anything as I thought it is the pressure and energies of occupied space that causes effects, (when a vacuum implies 'nothing').

So when I find, and then fully accept, the evidence of multiple outcomes etc. I wonder where the evidence will take us, (as I am sure we all do). Due to the use of probabilities, my sense is also that the mathematics of QM can only describe and not explain.

If I interpret you correctly, your preference and mine is to believe that the experimental results do make the world 'not inevitable' but in that case, crude logic would suggest that chaos should ensue. Yet it doesn't.

In terms of the topic of this thread, there are still a lot of determinists in the world, who believe that everything is inevitable - not just the actions of the physical world.
I think it is also worth re-opening the debate on Dualism for the reasons stated earlier.

Due to the strong separation of the reality that we occupy, and the different rules which seem to apply to sub-atomic particles (the quantum world) it may be that our speculation about a 2nd type of stuff may simply reflect the different layers of reality. But the old arguments surrounding the principles of dualism would still be valid in either case, I think.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on February 23rd, 2020, 4:49 am 

Hyksos

On re-reading my last post I see that I didn't fully put your points into the perspective that I (and others) see them...

Quantum mechanics does not always entail these sorts of "interesting" 50/50 probabilities studied by condensed-matter physicists and debated by "philosophers" on the internet. You can tune an optics experiment to get 100% outcomes. That 100% is, in fact, predicted by QM itself.


If QM has circumstances that generate a 100% outcome, it is delivering inevitability on that point - ie. a single mathematical outcome. If you are saying that maths can deliver more than one outcome, (other than through descriptive probabilities), then I don't understand how. As I understand it, Maths is determinism.

If someone were to say... "it is guaranteed that there can only be these 3 (or 35 or 300) outcomes"... this would imply a deterministic cause for such a focus. The philosophical interest lies in true multiple outcomes without an apparent cause.

True Randomness and Spontaneity, as defined previously, have no cause. If they did, they would represent a hidden variable. If you try to explain your examples through analogies with vacuums etc - you are implying a cause and therefore a hidden variable.

Spontaneity is required if you believe that the universe suddenly came into existence - whether generating a balance of positive and negative outcomes, (as Steven Hawking suggested in his book The Grand Design), or just 'positive' matter on its own. Spontaneity or randomness is also required if you suggest that an eternal sequence (such as an eternal 'bang - crunch sequence' of big bangs) were to suddenly change and come to an end, (as the accelerating expansion of the Universe might suggest).

True randomness is required to explain the world as we see it, if there is genuinely no other cause.

The reason for suggesting that a '2nd type of stuff' underpins reality is that these dilemmas over a lack of cause appear in many fields of science. This 'universality' begins to suggest a fundamental factor that is currently beyond our ability to detect it.... If science considers 'Dark Energy' on a similar basis, then the two may be the same thing.

As I mentioned before, particles riding a wave made from a pool of 'other stuff' would also perfectly describe the outcome of the Dual Slit experiments without concepts such as wave-particle duality. I feel this Dualist possibility worth considering.

If not, we must surely be saying that the evidence is a reflection of true randomness and spontaneity.

The bottom line of all this is to be honest about the underlying reality of these multiple outcome experiments. Which of the 3 possibilities do they represent? If you genuinely believe in spontaneity or randomness then we should call out the evidence as examples.

I suspect that Dr. Arkani-Hamed is also aware of these factors, and as part of that, he sees that overall we do not get the chaos that true randomness and spontaneity would seemingly generate. This may explain his comment (on camera - and therefore undeniable). Finipolscie tries (quite well I believe) to describe the full range of perspectives on this subject, (with a full set of references to scientific facts to prove the points), and in doing so he is rare in honestly pointing-out these factors.

Within the range of thinking, and perhaps in line with Dr.Arkani-Hamed's comments, there is a recognition that if true spontaneity or randomness might exist (as the evidence might suggest), then the touch points between structure and chaos must be quite limited or controlled.

I found that to be a profound insight - even if it is only one perspective.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on February 23rd, 2020, 5:28 am 

But what has all this to do with thought?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on March 1st, 2020, 4:39 am 

Hi Charon

I believe I gave you one level of answer to this same question on 6 December and 15th Jan.

The more recent posts (above) illustrate that science is now being pulled in two ways over the evidence. The continued use of mathematics to describe physical events will traditionally lead to single inevitable outcomes - yet as I and Hyksos have pointed out, there are now proven examples where we feel that outcomes are not inevitable. These may also re-open the possibility that there is a different type of stuff co-existing with matter/energy in the Universe - the basic premise of 'Dualism' and various forms of 'pluralism'.

So where are the touch points between the structure and inevitability that we normally see in matter/energy, and the factors, (whatever they may be), that stop it being inevitable? Outside the lab, and in the real world, the biggest potential source of evidence for non-inevitability is Thought.

There are Thought experiments you can conduct in your own home to try and demonstrate a lack of inevitability, but the Determinist (single inevitable outcome) counter-arguments are quite strong too. For that reason you have to focus-in on examples which can clearly demonstrate a strong case for true spontaneity or randomness (outcomes that are not inevitable). If you want examples then, dare I say it... try reading the first two chapters of Finipolscie's books. He has some good examples.

However the implication is that if Thought is capable of being the only common factor which "causes matter/energy to deviate from its inevitable path" then it might be based in another type of stuff - and therefore not entirely based in matter/energy. Buildings would never arise in nature without the influence of Thought etc....
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby A_Seagull on March 1st, 2020, 5:20 pm 

lateralsuz » November 30th, 2019, 6:56 pm wrote: "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path."



This is false on the basis that there is no 'inevitable path'. Certainly matter does what it does, but there is no inevitability about it. The 'butterfly effect' or inevitable chaos of complex systems ensures the unpredictability of future events. The notion that there is a deterministic path is based on unjustifiable extrapolation of over simplified theoretical systems.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on March 1st, 2020, 9:00 pm 

lateralsuz -

You did give an answer before and I think I said that thought too was energy/matter. Which it is, by the way, I'm not being dogmatic.

I'm not sure that this discussion isn't really the old chestnut of free will vs determinism. Apparently no one's solved it yet. As far as I know.

It's fairly inevitable that mathematics will provide ordered, definite outcomes. 2+2 is going to equal 4. But I'm not sure one can apply that to everything. Tomorrow is unknown. The future is far from fixed and definite.

But I don't think thought is responsible for that. We don't know the future but it isn't thought that has created that state of affairs. Thought doesn't control life. Thought is limited to what it knows, and it doesn't know life. Life is the unknown. Would you agree to that?
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Thought vs Matter/Energy - Revisited

Postby lateralsuz on March 8th, 2020, 7:19 am 

As a summary of where the debate had reached....

Traditional philosophical thinking tried to portray Matter/Energy as being so bound by the laws of mathematics (which is essentially deterministic) that it could only produce an inevitable and therefore fixed outcome. Our perception of randomness in day to day life, on this philosophical basis, was therefore explained as an illusion, based on a confusion between our ability to predict something, as opposed to the underlying inevitability, *due to factors we didn't know). Philosophically this is Determinism.

In contrast, Thought was held out as an example where outcomes were not inevitable, and therefore it was regarded as a 'different type of stuff' because it didn't comply with the fixed regime applicable to Matter/Energy. Various philosophies on this theme, I believe, are labelled under the general category of Idealism.

Whether you believe in different types of stuff or different levels of reality with different rules; there does seem to be a clear separation between which things potentially displayed true spontaneity or randomness (ie. without prior cause), and the things which rigidly conform to fixed rules with singe outcomes.

Logically and perhaps philosophically, the touch points with any true randomness or spontaneity must be narrow as we do not see chaos everywhere.

Quantum Mechanics has reinforced this separation to a degree because it has found many examples which seem to offer multiple outcomes instead of single outcomes to any given scenario... but only at the quantum level... where different rules seem to apply... and which is not the normal level we occupy.

Quantum Mechanics must deploy 'probabilities' to overcome the determinist nature of mathematics, but in so doing, I have suggested that it can only describe outcomes, not really explain them... because probabilities fudge the issue of multiple outcomes.

In a book by the author Christophe Finipolscie, there was a suggestion that multiple outcomes could ONLY be explained in 3 ways:

A hidden variable - providing a cause... eg. a different type of stuff
True Spontaneity - something starts with no cause
True Randomness - multiple outcomes for no reason... ie. without cause.

I would like to know which category people feel that the multiple outcomes in QM fall?
Is there another possibility to add to the list?

I would also like to know if people feel there is any merit in re-opening the case for Dualism or even for a 2nd type of underlying stuff, based on the findings from QM?

Thank you.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on March 10th, 2020, 3:27 am 

Seagull

This is false on the basis that there is no 'inevitable path'. Certainly matter does what it does, but there is no inevitability about it. The 'butterfly effect' or inevitable chaos of complex systems ensures the unpredictability of future events. The notion that there is a deterministic path is based on unjustifiable extrapolation of over simplified theoretical systems.


I believe you are confusing predictability with the underlying inevitability which the maths says is there.

The reason why this topic was originally posted in the Philosophy forum was that it revisits the old philosophical debate in the light of new scientific evidence.

Determinists argue that we are unable to predict the future because we don't know all of the active factors that are influencing any given situation, but if we did, we would see the underlying inevitability of everything.

I still disagree with that, due to some of the experimental results previously mentioned, and because it conflicts with my experience of life, (as I guess it does yours too), so the core of this debate is whether you feel that true randomness and spontaneity are occurring; (see recent summary of debate if you don't know what I mean by that).
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on March 10th, 2020, 3:56 am 

Hi Charon

Sorry it took a while to reply to your post, but when my topic was moved to an entirely different section (from the Philosophy forum where it belongs, to an obscure area of the Science forum), without me being told what happened to it, this is what happens.

You said
It's fairly inevitable that mathematics will provide ordered, definite outcomes. 2+2 is going to equal 4. But I'm not sure one can apply that to everything. Tomorrow is unknown. The future is far from fixed and definite.


As has been said before, Determinist theory is that we may not be able to predict the future because we don't know everything that is happening in a given situation, but if we did have that knowledge, we would see that the underlying nature of things was 'inevitability'.

I disagree with that, as you will see from my earlier posts, because of some of the experimental results from Quantum Mechanics. Yet the maths still underpins all of science, except for QM's use of probabilities - (reflecting an inability to explain things in deterministic terms).

But I don't think thought is responsible for that. We don't know the future but it isn't thought that has created that state of affairs. Thought doesn't control life. Thought is limited to what it knows, and it doesn't know life. Life is the unknown. Would you agree to that?


If I interpret you correctly, your comment mixes various factors, including the confusion between prediction and inevitability.

The other factor, Thought, doesn't influence everything, but the original quote suggested that it was the primary cause of fundamental change, (ie. a break in the path of inevitability). But why 'thought'?

The philosophical argument, as I understand it, is that our ability to think in ways that seem to show randomness and spontaneity, indicates that our minds employ a very different set of capabilities. It is not necessarily 'thought' itself, but the different source of those capabilities.

So if you believe that Matter/Energy underpins everything, then it must be bound by strict causality because that's what the maths indicates.

Yet we have those awkward results from QM, which I and Hyksos accept, but they still need to be explained.

If you accept that they show multiple outcomes instead of a single inevitable outcome, then why do you think that is? The author I got the idea from, makes a good point as far as I can see, by saying that there are only 3 generic possibilities, and you have to choose which of the 3 applies in any situation with multiple outcomes. (see recent summary if you need it).

So if you believe that matter/energy underpins everything, which of the 3 factors do you believe applies?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby davidm on March 10th, 2020, 11:18 am 

I still don’t know what the point of this thread is. Thought is a pattern of matter and energy on physical brains — it is not something different from matter and energy. It is a configuration of both, albeit a highly unusual one. QM doesn’t change this.

As to QM itself, its supposed indeterminism, anti-realism, and non-locality (Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance,” which he derided) are derivations of Copenhagen, or Copenhagen-style, interpretations, or meta-theories, of QM. QM is fully deterministic, with no spooky action at a distance, and no anti-realism, under both Everett’s relative-state formulation (Many Worlds) and under superdeterminism, favored by Sabine Hossenfelder, which means superdeterminism must be seriously considered, if only because Sabine is pretty bad-ass. :-D

That said, both Many Worlds and Superdetermism may carry unpalatable ontological and/or epistemological implications — in the former case, that there are virtually endless copies of each of us on the wave function, and in the latter case, that we are forever forbidden to conduct an experiment to show that QM is fully deterministic; we are always condemned to get a false result. That this fact would undermine the entire foundation of the scientific enterprise doesn’t seem to bother Sabine, though, so who am I to object? ;-D

In any case, nature has no obligation to conform to our expectations of it.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on March 11th, 2020, 12:22 am 

lateralsuz -

I'm sorry you were cast into outer darkness of obscure science... but you're back!

See, my trouble is I don't do theory. To me, theory is just guesswork and gets us nowhere. You said this about one of them:

As has been said before, Determinist theory is that we may not be able to predict the future because we don't know everything that is happening in a given situation, but if we did have that knowledge, we would see that the underlying nature of things was 'inevitability'.


Really? How do they know that?

Of course there is relative predictability. If I pick up something, and let go, it'll fall. If I put my hand in a fire it'll burn.

That's reasonable use of the word 'if'. But when someone says 'if we knew everything' I go to sleep. If we knew everything we wouldn't be here!

You see my point.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on March 11th, 2020, 12:48 am 

The other point is this:

We don't know everything. It might be impossible to know everything because things are changing all the time. Everything - literally everything- we know has already happened. That's a fact. 'To know' means that. All knowledge is of what has been.

No one knows what will happen in the next second. Given the nature of life there is some continuity. It's very likely the sun will rise tomorrow, we'll all still be here, etc etc. But that's only based on the fact that it's been that way for so long we take it for granted.

But even that's not guaranteed. I could get hit by a truck tomorrow and that would be that. It's happened to many, many people already, and worse. So we don't know.

Therefore there is unpredictability and not knowing. Simple.

But there's a school of thought that says everything might look unpredictable but actually everything's already worked out, it's just that we don't know it. Let's say that that's not a theory, that someone is saying that clearly. They claim to have had such an insight and, for them at least, it is actually the fact.

Those who believe in God might say that. They might say that everything that ever was, is, or will be, has already happened. In other words everything just 'is' although, to us, everything's unfolding slowly, which is time.

But that doesn't change predictability, or rather unpredictability. Everything 'just being there' - if that is indeed the case - doesn't mean that you or I can predict subtle outcomes. It might imply inevitability but not predictability. So actually the two are different.

That's the other point. Predictability isn't the same as inevitability.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby davidm on March 12th, 2020, 2:03 pm 

Sabine Hossenfelder and Tim Palmer on Superdeterminism

If anyone understands all this, please explain it to me! :-)
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby bangstrom on March 13th, 2020, 1:22 am 

davidm » March 12th, 2020, 1:03 pm wrote:Sabine Hossenfelder and Tim Palmer on Superdeterminism

If anyone understands all this, please explain it to me! :-)


My understanding of the article is that "Superdeterminism, the idea that no two places in the universe are truly independent of each other” is a valid explanation for quantum phenomena. This is counterintuitive to our observation of the macro world where objects only interact by direct physical contact.

In QM non-local interactions among remote particles are possible so long as the conditions between the particles permit. Two or more separate particles can interact simultaneously as if space and time between them did not exist. Even if the particles are widely separated or even galaxies apart.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby davidm on March 13th, 2020, 9:52 am 

Here is a wiki brief on superdeterminsm, which I think gets to the heart of the matter that Sabine only gestured at in her article. Note the discussion at the end on how superdetermism, if true, undermines science itself.

Needless to say, if superdeterminism is true, there is definitely NO indeterminism, randomness, or spontaneity in QM, or anywhere else in nature, and there never has been and never will be. Everything is absolutely pre-determined since the big bang. Needless to say there is no free will on this scenario; in fact there are no contingent events of any kind. Every true proposition is necessarily true, which also undermines standard logic.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby TheVat on March 13th, 2020, 10:19 am 

Wow, that first article just shattered what I thought I'd gleaned about hidden variable theories. Thank you.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby bangstrom on March 13th, 2020, 8:06 pm 

davidm » March 13th, 2020, 8:52 am wrote:[
Needless to say, if superdeterminism is true, there is definitely NO indeterminism, randomness, or spontaneity in QM, or anywhere else in nature, and there never has been and never will be. Everything is absolutely pre-determined since the big bang. Needless to say there is no free will on this scenario; in fact there are no contingent events of any kind. Every true proposition is necessarily true, which also undermines standard logic.


Ruth Kastner has some thoughts on the matter within the confines of John Cramer’s Transactional Interpretation of QM. In Cramer’s theory, our spacetime consists of waves moving both forward and backward in time much the same as photon particles do in the old Wheeler-Feynman Absorber theory and we are moving into a future that is pre-destined to follow the laws of physics starting with conditions existing in the present and it has been like this since the beginning of time.

The implication of either Cramer’s theory or the W-F theory leads to the conclusion of a block universe where the movie is already in the can and nothing can be done to change it. Kastner finds this conclusion inescapable but she also finds it philosophically unsatisfying because it rules out freedom of choice and the ability to change the future so there must be a loophole. Kastner speculates that, in Cramer’s theory, quantum events only take place when there is a convergence of waves from both the future and the past. This implies that past conditions, and not just present conditions, can also shape the future in a way similar to the Mandela effect on a quantum level. So the future isn’t set in stone.

This returns randomness and spontaneity to QM since there is a random chance that an event in the now could have been determined by either the future or the past.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby hyksos on March 14th, 2020, 1:52 am 

laterelsuz,

True randomness is required to explain the world as we see it, if there is genuinely no other cause.

This is the only part of your posts where I see you achieving clarity. It is like I am watching you have an epiphany in front of my eyes.

I referred you to the vacuum of space nudging electrons around. The textbook explanation for this physical phenomenon is that it is uncaused. Don't misunderstand this. The cause cannot be found on account of it hiding from our view, but because there is not a cause. It's not there. The cause does not exist.

True spontaneity exists in modern science. That's the textbook explanation. When the vacuum of space fluctuates it is not caused by anything. What is more ironic, this is likely the 4th time I have told you this in this thread alone.


But the point remains, that true spontaneity and randomness would destroy the traditional maths that has described scientific principles to date.

This already happened in history. The craziness began in 1905, and was finished by about 1930.


If I interpret you correctly, your preference and mine is to believe that the experimental results do make the world 'not inevitable' but in that case, crude logic would suggest that chaos should ensue. Yet it doesn't.

Your ''Crude logic'' is wrong here. The universe is far too weird for you to figure it out on a forum like this. Quantum mechanics is maddening. There is no simple way to describe it using the monkey ideas that our brains carry around.

It is true that electrons disappear from one place in spacetime and re-appear somewheres else, and this can be demonstrated under lab conditions. While that is true, it is also true that around an atomic nucleus, the electron will conserve orbital angular momentum. Also perfectly measure-able. Orbital angular momentum results from modelling the electron as if it were a tiny stiff ball of mass orbiting its host atom like a planet going around the sun.

But wait -- didn't I just claim that the electron is a spooky ghostly thing that disappears and re-appears? Yes. Yes I did say that.

But doesn't that contradict the orbital model? No it doesn't. It might seem like "Crude logic" suggests I contradicted myself. But I did not. While it is true that electrons will "tunnel" , they will always accidentally tunnel into those places that conserve orbital angular momentum. This is not a contradiction -- it's just that quantum mechanics is weird. It is maddeningly weird. It's as if electrons know how you will choose to measure them, and then put on an act to give you the answer you wanted. If you measure them like little balls, they act like little balls. If you cool them down near insulators and measure them as waves, they act like waves.

Albert Einstein the man was extremely calm easy-going dude. He was super down-to-earth. But quantum mechanics made poor Albert... go a little coo-coo. QM made Einstein rip his shirt off, stand on a desk and start muttering stuff about God and throwing dice.

Richard Feynman famously said ,

I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.

Let's not mince words. There are two option boxes to check off. You either know about quantum mechanics, and it drives you crazy and makes you mad, or you don't know it. There is no third option. There is no box in the answer column that reads,

Code: Select all
[ ] I understand it.


That option is not available here.

and in itself shouldn't be able to do anything as I thought it is the pressure and energies of occupied space that causes effects, (when a vacuum implies 'nothing').

Maddening, aint it?

It remains true that mathematics generally only delivers a single outcome - which is why determinism has had such a long reign. The fact that so many scientists still do not wish to ditch their use of mathematics shows an intrinsic desire to retain its principles - even if we do recognise that multiple outcomes do seem to arise

There is always MWI. It is the dangerous and controversial Many-Worlds Interpretation. MWI acolytes claim that the reason why any specific event happens is because all the possible events happen at the same time. MWI retains determinism, but you pay a steep price.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on March 14th, 2020, 12:54 pm 

Quantum stuff is just the latest discovery. It's only a part of life. When something else comes along, which it will, the quantum world will lose its present consuming importance.

If we're trying to understand the nature of existence, which is immense beyond imagination, it's no good being infatuated with a small part of it. The part doesn't reveal the whole. On the contrary, within the whole the part has its place.

It's like showing a single spoke to someone who's never seen a bicycle before and expecting them to understand a bicycle.

So the whole comes first. A study, however rigorous, of the part will reveal only what the part has to offer but never the whole. If we discover many other parts, as we will do, even adding all the various parts together doesn't make the whole so there'll never be a complete perception.

And if you say the whole isn't within our grasp it still won't alter this. But the whole isn't elusive, it's there. A mind immersed in the part, or many parts, can't see beyond its own immersion so, first, it can't be immersed in anything. It has to be whole, and when the mind is whole then it is the greater whole.

I know no one wants to go down that route because we think it's unconstructive but there's no other way. Not because I say so, but because it's fairly simple. An immersed mind can't perceive anything beyond itself. Only when it's totally unimmersed is it the whole. Then, within that whole, the part has significance.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on March 14th, 2020, 9:47 pm 

Hi davidm

I still don’t know what the point of this thread is. Thought is a pattern of matter and energy on physical brains — it is not something different from matter and energy. It is a configuration of both, albeit a highly unusual one. QM doesn’t change this.


The point of this thread - and why it belongs in the philosophy forum where it began - is that your interpretation of the underlying reality, (ie. the 'Determinist Philosophy', which you you seem to be advocating ), is that it is just one view out of many. There are other interpretations which still match the available experimental evidence. Various people have tried to describe that to you, but I'm not sure that you have grasped it, even if you disagree with it.


As to QM itself, its supposed indeterminism, anti-realism, and non-locality..... are derivations of Copenhagen, or Copenhagen-style, interpretations, or meta-theories, of QM. QM is fully deterministic...


Again - Copenhagen etc. are just similar lines of theory. There have always been other interpretations.
The question is - where does the underlying evidence take us?
When the experimental results break the predicted Determinist results in fundamental and seemingly impossible ways - then the Determinist theory must be wrong. But why?

A cause or a lack of cause? That is a very fundamental question.

...both Many Worlds and Superdetermism may carry unpalatable ontological and/or epistemological implications — in the former case, that there are virtually endless copies of each of us on the wave function, and in the latter case, that we are forever forbidden to conduct an experiment to show that QM is fully deterministic


Yes that's correct - but they are just theories with no evidence to support them, other than the fact that QM produces results that break the principles of Determinist theory. They are no better than an explanation through the use of God. They're little better than fantasy because they break large parts of humanity's long-term experience of reality - simply because they want to reinforce one philosophical perception rather than another. Can't we do better than that?

At least the evidence for a dualist solution would fit the facts without breaking break other basic considerations and evidence.

In any case, nature has no obligation to conform to our expectations of it.


Agreed, but again, we don't necessarily have to confuse prediction with the underlying reality.
Our question is 'what is the nature of that reality', and does it include true spontaneity or randomness?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on March 14th, 2020, 10:07 pm 

Hi Charon

See, my trouble is I don't do theory. To me, theory is just guesswork and gets us nowhere. You said this about one of them:


You do 'do' theory because every bit of evidence has to be interpreted. The question is, which philosophy do you follow when you apply an interpretation?

You asked how Determinist Theory can come up with certain ideas...
Really? How do they know that?


The whole point is that they don't - Determinists just offer one theoretical possibility based on maths.... but there are other interpretations which might provide better solutions.

The trouble is that while Determinist mathematical explanations have been very good up to a point, they are now hitting fundamental boundaries that challenge their principles. So something has to give... philosophically in terms of interpretation, but also in a way that's required to match available evidence, which is why I consider Max Tegmark to be little more than a fatasist and why we have to interpret others in a similar way if they advocate ideas that break our experience of existence.

The questions I posed are whether each of us believe that true randomness and spontaneity exist, based on QM results plus our direct experience of the unpredictable nature of Thought, and whether dualist perceptions might lead us to a better solution than Max Tegmark et al.?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on March 14th, 2020, 10:28 pm 

Hi Hyksos

I'm sorry that you still don't see me as a friend. There is also no epiphany in my thinking.

All I have tried to do is put your argument within the underlying philosophical framework.
There is no point in denying that maths is essentially Determinist, and therefore that most of science is conducted initially with a Determinist philosophy.

The question is, what is the underlying nature of the QM results, which seem to break Determinist principles?
Is there a hidden cause or not?

I am drawn to the suggestion that because the loophole-free tests of Bell's Theorem still break Determinist principles, then we should consider that true spontaneity and randomness do exist.

It is a possibility, but we cannot claim that all scientists believe this. It is not proven - because of the other logical philosophical possibilities. However, we can say that non-determinist views now have stronger evidence to support their ideas.

Your ''Crude logic'' is wrong here. The universe is far too weird for you to figure it out on a forum like this. Quantum mechanics is maddening. There is no simple way to describe it using the monkey ideas that our brains carry around.


The whole point about the philosophical arguments is that they do seem to have narrowed the options to a small number of simple possibilities. If we accept the basic principles underpinning that logic, then we might be able to pursue better options than just flogging one 'dead horse' - which the evidence already contradicts.

Why go for 'many worlds' when a simple concept of another type of stuff underpinning existence would suffice in a much simpler way?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on March 15th, 2020, 1:32 am 

lateralsuz -

You do 'do' theory because every bit of evidence has to be interpreted. The question is, which philosophy do you follow when you apply an interpretation?


No, I really don't do theory. Theory and fact are two entirely different things. It's not a theory we're posting here. It's not a theory the sun is in the sky or that we're in space.

When we deal with fact there's no confusion. There's only confusion when we leave fact and go off into something else. All philosophies are confused, otherwise they wouldn't be philosophies.

When you say 'every bit of evidence has to be interpreted' what does that mean? Either we interpret it factually, according to sensible fact, or we get thoroughly confused. Let's say the evidence is seeing smoke, an orange glow, a smell of burning... From that evidence it would be sensible to conclude there might be a fire. That there might be a fire, not that there necessarily is.

That's not theorising. No philosophy is required. There's just the evidence, which is fact, and seeing what criteria it might satisfy. Which then needs verification.

If it doesn't fit any criteria,, or there isn't sufficient data, then it's far better to say we don't know than waste time trying to guess.

Somebody who looks at factual evidence and goes off into some philosophy has missed the boat altogether. They obviously aren't interested in finding out what that evidence means, they just want to play with irrelevant ideas.

So, no, I definitely don't do theory, sorry!

Determinists just offer one theoretical possibility


Which has nothing to do with anything. Their theory becomes their problem, doesn't it? Having spun it, now they have to try to make it fit the facts. And it may not, hence a lot of dishonesty and illusion.

whether each of us believe that true randomness and spontaneity exist


What we believe has no relevance either. Belief isn't reality.

Is there randomness and spontaneity in life? Obviously there is. Plenty of things happen completely unexpectedly.

If you mean is everything inevitable because it's prearranged by some cosmic plan then I don't know - and I'm not going to theorise. If it's true then it reduces life to a mechanical, unbreakable process of cause/effect. Which means we ourselves are just unwitting slaves or pawns in the game. The future is fixed and there's nothing we can do.

If there's nothing we can do there's not much point in worrying about it, is there? Anything we think or do is predetermined anyway so there's nothing to be done except battle on and hope for the best :-)
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby davidm on March 15th, 2020, 10:39 am 

Various people have tried to describe that to you, but I'm not sure that you have grasped it, even if you disagree with it.


“Various people" have tried to describe this to me, and I have failed to grasp “it”? Really? Could you point out these “various” people and the posts in which they have tried to educate me? Because the only person I see having things explained to her, without success, is you.

I understand all of the various interpretations of QM, thank you very much. It seems, alas, that you do not. In fact, I do not think you understand this topic at all. For example, you write:

The trouble is that while Determinist mathematical explanations have been very good up to a point, they are now hitting fundamental boundaries that challenge their principles.


It would seem you do not realize that the Schrödinger equation at the heart of QM, which describes the continuous time evolution of a system's wave function, is fully deterministic. Indeterminism is not in the equation at all.

See here, for example.


But before I go on, please do point out the posts of these “various people” who have been trying — unsuccessfully, no less! — to explain stuff to me. I realize that you have been trying to explain something or other to me, without success, but you are one person, not “various people,” and you have not actually explained anything — instead, you’ve made vague, unsupported and untestable assertions.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby TheVat on March 15th, 2020, 11:46 am 

Note: this thread appears to hinge on one poster's personal interpretations of modern physics. We have a forum specifically for that approach (see our forum guidelines which you were invited to read when joining us) and it has been quite popular and not at all obscure. So please stop carping about where this thread is located and be grateful for the patience alternative and unsupported views are given here.

This thread began with an unusual theory, in which thought and matter/energy were posited as having some dualistic separation. This conjecture is largely rejected in both philosophical inquiry (at least, since Descartes time) and modern science, so even allowing it outside the Odds and Ends forum was a courtesy I didn't have to extend.
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