Are all models wrong?

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Steve3007
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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Steve3007 » January 15th, 2020, 5:44 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:That's conflating objects and concepts of objects when we have them.
To clarify what I said: When I refer to the sensations from which we construct the mental model of an object, I mean actual and potential sensations. I think it is physically meaningless to propose the existence of an object that could not, even in principle, be the object of sensations. But it's fine to propose the existence of an object that could potentially be sensed, but is not currently the object of any sensations. In fact, it's meaningless to propose the existence of an object without any notion of how it could potentially be sensed.
"When we have them" also indicates that we don't always have concepts of objects in conjunction with objects. We can experience them simply as particulars, for example. (And without making predictions about them, etc.)
I'm not sure what you mean by "We can experience them simply as particulars, for example."
That's talking about yourself. Not the table as the table. There's a difference.
I disagree. As I said, I think it's talking about the hypothesized cause of a related set of actual and potential sensations in myself and/or others. The whole point of an objective proposition such as "there is a table here" is that it proposes the existence of an object. Hence "objective".

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 7:49 am

Steve3007 wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 5:44 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:That's conflating objects and concepts of objects when we have them.
To clarify what I said: When I refer to the sensations from which we construct the mental model of an object, I mean actual and potential sensations. I think it is physically meaningless to propose the existence of an object that could not, even in principle, be the object of sensations. But it's fine to propose the existence of an object that could potentially be sensed, but is not currently the object of any sensations. In fact, it's meaningless to propose the existence of an object without any notion of how it could potentially be sensed.
Putting aside whether I agree with all of that, okay, but the point is that most objects are in no way dependent on us, our concepts, etc. The only ones that are, in a sense, are artifacts--objects we create, but those are only dependent on us insofar as they wouldn't exist as they do without us having ideas about creating them first, and then once we create them, they're no longer dependent on us in any manner. We could completely disappear and automobiles, computers, etc. would continue to exist as objects.

So why are we focusing at all on us and our concepts when we talk about objects?
"When we have them" also indicates that we don't always have concepts of objects in conjunction with objects. We can experience them simply as particulars, for example. (And without making predictions about them, etc.)
I'm not sure what you mean by "We can experience them simply as particulars, for example."
Sometimes people counter with "To think of it as a 'tree' you need to have the concept" etc. What I'm saying is that we can perceive something like a tree without thinking about it (aside from the perception being present, if you count that as a "thought"), without assigning any language to it, any concepts, etc. It's just that particular thing appearing.
That's talking about yourself. Not the table as the table. There's a difference.
I disagree. As I said, I think it's talking about the hypothesized cause of a related set of actual and potential sensations in myself and/or others.
Why talk about your sensations all the time, though? That always seems oddly self-centered to me. It's "making everything about oneself."
The whole point of an objective proposition such as "there is a table here" is that it proposes the existence of an object. Hence "objective".
Points are subjective. And so are all propositions. Propositions can be _about_ objective things, though.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Steve3007 » January 16th, 2020, 12:23 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:Putting aside whether I agree with all of that, okay, but the point is that most objects are in no way dependent on us, our concepts, etc.
Yes, and, in my view, that is the key thing that an objective proposition proposes. The proposition "here is a table" proposes that any suitably situated observer will see a table and it proposes that the reason for this is that there exists an object called a table. It's the same, in principle, as a law of physics or any other proposition that seeks, by the process of Induction, to extrapolate from the specific to the general; to take the patterns in a finite set of observations and predict what an indefinitely large number of possible observations would find, as a result of the proposed objective existence of a world "out there".
The only ones that are, in a sense, are artifacts--objects we create, but those are only dependent on us insofar as they wouldn't exist as they do without us having ideas about creating them first, and then once we create them, they're no longer dependent on us in any manner. We could completely disappear and automobiles, computers, etc. would continue to exist as objects.
Yes, I appreciate that but I don't think it's relevant to the point we're discussing.
So why are we focusing at all on us and our concepts when we talk about objects?
Because, in my view, it would be literally meaningless to talk of an object which could never, even in principle, be detected, either directly or indirectly, by any form of observation or measurement. In Bertrand Russell's book on the Theory of Relativity ("ABC of Relativity") he (a bit whimsically) likens it to the poem about the Aged Aged Man in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, who says:

"I was thinking of a plan to dye one's whiskers green,
But always use so large a fan that they could not be seen."
(Sorry. A bit of a strange digression there, but it just sprang to mind.)

So, for this reason, it's important, when attempting to make objective propositions about the state of affairs existing in the physical world, to start with what is observable. This becomes particularly important when examining what is observed in the context of Quantum Mechanics. But maybe more on that later or elsewhere?

Sometimes people counter with "To think of it as a 'tree' you need to have the concept" etc. What I'm saying is that we can perceive something like a tree without thinking about it (aside from the perception being present, if you count that as a "thought"), without assigning any language to it, any concepts, etc. It's just that particular thing appearing.
Ok, I see. I don't see that as directly relevant to our discussion either.
Why talk about your sensations all the time, though? That always seems oddly self-centred to me. It's "making everything about oneself."
I see why you would say that but, as I've alluded to, I think that when one thinks carefully about things it turns out that's the only way to make sense of the world - to start with what is observed and not, at least initially, make assumptions as to what those observations are caused by.

---

As I've suggested above, this view is, in part, influenced by the empirical findings of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. If you're interested, I started a topic a while ago to discuss a particular experiment in Quantum Mechanics which illustrates curious things about what is observed, possible models for them and the philosophical implications of those models.

Here's a link or two:
viewtopic.php?p=232485#p232485
viewtopic.php?p=110699#p110699

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 6:28 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 12:23 pm
I see why you would say that but, as I've alluded to, I think that when one thinks carefully about things it turns out that's the only way to make sense of the world - to start with what is observed and not, at least initially, make assumptions as to what those observations are caused by.
Again, I find that outrageously and annoyingly (when someone can't talk about anything without constantly filtering it through their epistemological framework) self-centered.

And it's essentially a form of idealism. I'm a realist--and a direct realist at that. Idealists trying to assert that idealism is a default position are way off track.

Re quantum mechanics, I think a lot of the ontological assumptions made simply amount to poor philosophizing, and a lot of it stems from mathematical platonists reifying mathematics (which unfortunately plagues physics in general). My approach is more or less positivist (although not at all as a cheerleader for logical positivism, which had problems, including a completely off-base view of meaning, a seemingly uneducated view of metaphysics, etc.)

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by gater » January 16th, 2020, 7:12 pm

Are all models wrong? - no, The model I made for the Universe is perfect, accurate, and true.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Consul » January 16th, 2020, 8:37 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 12:23 pm
Because, in my view, it would be literally meaningless to talk of an object which could never, even in principle, be detected, either directly or indirectly, by any form of observation or measurement.
If you were right, this statement of yours would be literally meaningless, since your talking therein of such an object. But your statement isn't literally meaningless, it it?

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent." – L. Wittgenstein

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one has just spoken!
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Steve3007 » January 17th, 2020, 3:06 am

Consul wrote:If you were right, this statement of yours would be literally meaningless, since your talking therein of such an object. But your statement isn't literally meaningless, it it?
Good point. Comment withdrawn.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Steve3007 » January 17th, 2020, 3:28 am

Terrapin Station wrote:Again, I find that outrageously and annoyingly (when someone can't talk about anything without constantly filtering it through their epistemological framework) self-centered.

And it's essentially a form of idealism....
If you think it's about being self centred then in my view you've missed the point. I disagree that it is a form of idealism. I do not deny the existence of tables. I explicitly propose their existence and explicitly propose that their existence is not dependant on any property of my, or any other, mind.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Tamminen » January 17th, 2020, 5:33 am

Consul wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 8:37 pm
Steve3007 wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 12:23 pm
Because, in my view, it would be literally meaningless to talk of an object which could never, even in principle, be detected, either directly or indirectly, by any form of observation or measurement.
If you were right, this statement of yours would be literally meaningless, since your talking therein of such an object. But your statement isn't literally meaningless, it it?

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent." – L. Wittgenstein

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one has just spoken!
We can speak of logical impossibilities, like round squares, and we can speak of ontological impossibilities, like objects that cannot ever have any relationship with any conscious subject, even in principle, but the internal contradiction in such talk shows that it cannot refer to anything real. It is meaningful only as a way of showing what is not possible. It defines the limits of logic and the limits of ontology. Note that the existence of flying horses and unicorns is within the limits of logic and ontology.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Steve3007 » January 17th, 2020, 6:00 am

A reasonable rejoinder from Tamminen there.

But I guess I'll still withdraw my previous comment, noting that my use of the term "literally meaningless" was a bit over the top. I'll try replacing it with this:

In my view, to talk of an object which could never, even in principle, be detected, either directly or indirectly, by any form of observation or measurement is to have a conversation that never strays from the entirely analytic into the synthetic. Or perhaps I could say that it is a conversation that is purely metaphysical. Maybe one of those two options is better than the comment I withdrew.

I don't know if that's any better?

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Sculptor1 » January 17th, 2020, 6:05 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 6:28 pm
Steve3007 wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 12:23 pm
I see why you would say that but, as I've alluded to, I think that when one thinks carefully about things it turns out that's the only way to make sense of the world - to start with what is observed and not, at least initially, make assumptions as to what those observations are caused by.
Again, I find that outrageously and annoyingly (when someone can't talk about anything without constantly filtering it through their epistemological framework) self-centered.

And it's essentially a form of idealism. I'm a realist--and a direct realist at that. Idealists trying to assert that idealism is a default position are way off track.
You only think you are a realist.
But since your entire reception and sensation of the world is an ideal model that your brain generates, we are all idealists essentially.
Idealism is a default position since the world of your perception is a cerebral construct.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 17th, 2020, 7:32 am

Sculptor1 wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 6:05 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 6:28 pm


Again, I find that outrageously and annoyingly (when someone can't talk about anything without constantly filtering it through their epistemological framework) self-centered.

And it's essentially a form of idealism. I'm a realist--and a direct realist at that. Idealists trying to assert that idealism is a default position are way off track.
You only think you are a realist.
But since your entire reception and sensation of the world is an ideal model that your brain generates, we are all idealists essentially.
Idealism is a default position since the world of your perception is a cerebral construct.
Thinking that one is a realist is what being a realist is.

That one could be wrong doesn't mean that one isn't a realist.

That would be just like saying, "You only think you're a theist. But no god exists." Whether any god exists doesn't change the fact that the person is a theist. What it means to be a theist is that they believe (or they think, in other words) that a god exists.

Or, if someone says, "I believe that I'm the reincarnation of Napoleon," saying that they only think that doesn't imply that they don't believe that they're the reincarnation of Napoleon.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 17th, 2020, 7:33 am

Steve3007 wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 3:28 am
Terrapin Station wrote:Again, I find that outrageously and annoyingly (when someone can't talk about anything without constantly filtering it through their epistemological framework) self-centered.

And it's essentially a form of idealism....
If you think it's about being self centred then in my view you've missed the point. I disagree that it is a form of idealism. I do not deny the existence of tables. I explicitly propose their existence and explicitly propose that their existence is not dependant on any property of my, or any other, mind.
But all you talk about when we talk about something like tables is concepts and propositions and so on.

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 17th, 2020, 7:35 am

Sculptor1 wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 6:05 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 6:28 pm


Again, I find that outrageously and annoyingly (when someone can't talk about anything without constantly filtering it through their epistemological framework) self-centered.

And it's essentially a form of idealism. I'm a realist--and a direct realist at that. Idealists trying to assert that idealism is a default position are way off track.
You only think you are a realist.
But since your entire reception and sensation of the world is an ideal model that your brain generates, we are all idealists essentially.
Idealism is a default position since the world of your perception is a cerebral construct.
Aside from what I said above, there's zero reason to believe that one's "entire reception and sensation of the world is an ideal model that one's brain generates" (if one believes that, because then one has no grounds or believing that there are really brains, etc. in the first place--it's just an arbitrary model; one could have a different arbitrary model).

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Re: Are all models wrong?

Post by Steve3007 » January 17th, 2020, 8:01 am

Terrapin Station wrote:But all you talk about when we talk about something like tables is concepts and propositions and so on.
It's in order to emphasise that (in my view) although I'm happy to propose that objects exist and are not just figments of our heat oppressed brains, I think that in order to understand various actual, specific observations of how the world appears to behave, we have to relentlessly remind ourselves that the only way to do so is via considerations of what it is potentially possible to observe.

If we don't do that, then we might conclude such things as that it is meaningful to talk of Schrodinger's cat being alive or dead even if there is no possibility whatever of opening the box. That appears to lead to problems, as illustrated by my topic on the specific experiment of the Mach-Zehnder Interferometer. I think it might also lead to the notion that it is meaningful to talk of the physical state of a non-local physical system which is separate from the talker by a "spacelike" interval in space-time.

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