Terrapin Station wrote:Re the latter part, I actually agree and think that in a way (sans strict interpretation per my definition of "objective") that it's a truism about everything.
Ok. A reason why I thought we might disagree is because of our recent discussion, and disagreement, about the ontological status of energy. As we know, you regard energy as a property of the dynamic relations of matter. As such, it clearly could not, without contradiction, be said to exist in the absence of matter (a property can't exist without the thing of which it is a property). I proposed that observational evidence suggests energy exists as a "thing", in the same sense that matter exists as a "thing". Except that I would tend to put it as: it is useful to regard
energy as existing like that. It is that proposition which leads me to suggest that my use of the word "matter" in a previous post in this topic was too specific, and to suggest the more general alternative wording that I gave.
Generalizing from that, I would have to say that the number of sorts entities that we propose to exist as "things" depends on what we actually observe to apparently be the case. Given my tendency to say things like "It is useful to regard...", this probably leads down a route towards a sort of observation-centric, instrumentalist, anti-realist view of the world. In a conversation several months ago you noted that lots of physics-oriented people that you've talked to tend to take positions like that, and they often tend further towards an idealist, "observer-created reality" kind of view, and/or what you regard as the reification of abstract concepts like mathematics.
Anyway, I'm going on about this for too long and it's not massively relevant to the substance of your post, so I'll park it there for now.
This relates to my ontological "perspectivalism" or "reference pointism" or whatever we want to call it.
The basic idea, including the "groundwork," is that:
(i) physicalism is the case a la everything extant being comprised of matter, relations (which amount to structures as well) and processes (or in other words, everything is dynamic relations of matter)
Ok. That is consistent with the things you've said previously. It seems that physicalism is thereby defined as the view that all real things are composed of a thing we call matter and the behaviour and interactions of matter.
(ii) properties are simply the characteristics of matter/relations/processes, where (a) properties are particulars (particular characteristics), and (b) everything necessarily amounts to properties,
This mention of "particulars" would presumably be the nominalist rejection of the idea of real classes (because classes are abstract concepts and therefore not real.)
(iii) all matter, relations and processes are unique particulars a la nominalism, and thus so are all properties,
And so would this.
(iv) properties are also unique at all "reference points"--that is, all observation (in the scientific sense) locations (locations being spatio-temporal),
This part, taken on its own, seems
to be saying that those properties of matter mentioned in part (ii) are different depending on the reference point/observation location from which they are viewed. But the following part, below, seems to suggest that by "reference point" you mean the location of the matter/object, not of any observer. To clarify, which of these things do you mean by the terms "reference point" and "observation location" as used in (iv)?
(v) there are no "correct" or "preferred" reference points (objectively). There are simply different reference points.
This is the part which in the context of science would be called relativity. Not just Einstein's relativity, but the thing which is generally viewed as having started with Galileo and extended via Newton and electromagnetism to (the theories which are conventionally attributed to) Einstein (but obviously the name of the person that we happen to use to label ideas isn't relevant to analysis of those ideas). I think it's one of those ideas that has often been extended, metaphorically, to other realms, such as ethics. And metaphors, like any other models, can sometimes be strained beyond the manufacturer's recommended tolerances.
I think one way that the concept of relativity is sometimes misused, or at least strained, is when people say things like "everything is relative", as if the principle of relativity proposes that nothing can be said to be constant for all observers and that literally everything "just depends on your point of view". But the principle of relativity explicitly identifies those things that are
constant to all observers. That's its point. I think people who say "everything is relative" often completely miss that point. (I'm not saying you've done that. Just making a general point about misconceptions around relativity.)
So, it follows from all of this that the properties of anything, at the reference point of "being (part of) that thing" (so in other words, say that we're talking about something like an electron, the reference point in question would be the spatio-temporal location of the electron in question) are not accessible from a different reference point. In other words, the properties are different from a reference point that's not identical to the spatio-temporal location of the electron in question. And they'd be different from every different reference point.
What you seem
to be saying here is simply that two things that are otherwise the same as each other are different by virtue of being in different spatio-temporal locations. Is that what you're saying?
So it's not just the case that for brains, there are properties that are not "objectively accessible"--that is, that are not accessible from reference points that aren't the brain in question, but that's a truism for everything.
Ok. So you're saying that there are properties of every object (not just of brains) that are not accessible unless you are
that object. I think.