Indiscernable Identity

Indiscernable Identity:

There is a thought experiment by the philosopher Max Black that calls into question one of the basic rules of logic: the principle of indiscernable identity. The full description of the experiment is at the link.

However, the short version is this: imagine you're told about an object x, and later about an object y. You can't see either one, perhaps because they are too small or too far; but over time your sources tell you about their various properties through experiments of one kind or another.

Over time you learn that every property that x has, y has also; and vice versa. What you would tend to conclude is that "they" are the same object: x and y simply have been given two different names. If you get to the point that you have established all of their properties, and you continued to find that they each had all and only the same properties, you could logically conclude that this was the case.

Max Black posited a universe in which there were only two objects. They each had all and only the same properties; but because they were the only two objects in the universe, there were no properties that x had that y didn't have also. (E.g., "X is five feet away from the other object in the universe." How far is y? Well, five feet.)

This would lead you to conclude logically that x and y were identical, but in fact they are not the same. You couldn't come up with any property except the name that would distinguish them, and the whole purpose of this rule is to eliminate duplicate names.

I mention all this because it occurred to me that our Buddhist had a plausible answer.

Quantum theory states that any physical system remains in a superposed state of all possibilities until it interacts with the mind of an observer. Both quantum theory and Buddhist teachings on sunyata suggest that as soon as an observer's mind makes contact with a superposed system, all the numerous possibilities collapse into one actuality. At some instant one of these possible alternative universes produced an observing lifeform - an animal with a nervous system which was sufficiently evolved to form a symbiotic association with a primordial mind. The first act of observation by this mind caused the entire superposed multiverse to collapse immediately into one of its numerous alternatives.
As soon as you introduce an observer, so that the two objects are not "indiscernable," the whole thought experiment collapses. If you could introduce an artillery officer, for example, you could tell him, "Hit that one, not that other one."

If the universe can't have but the two objects, but one of them is sentient, he will observe the other object as separate from himself. If the universe can only have two objects and they must have the same properties -- i.e., they must both be sentient -- the observing object can still identify the separate object: "That one is not me." Finally, if both objects' property of consciousness is fully the same, so that they are sharing a single consciousness, they really are the same creature.

Thus, the basic rules of logic hold -- in a universe with an observer.

If both quantum theory and logic require an observer to make certain statements about reality, does that mean that the two things are both flawed models that are the products of the same kind of conscious mind? Or does the similarity imply that the universe really does, as the Buddhist suggests, need a conscious mind to achieve actual (rather than potential) realities?

I don't know, but I met a professor with degrees in both physics and metaphysics today who was scratching his head after I asked him.


From "Hondo":

What does that tell you, with all we've spoken of lately on love and honor?

Get 'em, Buck

Get 'Em, Buck:

I think those two are settling in just fine.

Fav. Headline

My Favorite Headline From Today:

'Reid says he "won't dwell" on race-based controversy.'

That's big of you, Senator.

UPDATE: Baldilocks probably has it right. One of the classes that I had in school, actually, was a public speaking class. The main purpose of the class was to teach students how to avoid a Southern accent when engaged in public speaking. It was thought, we were told, to make you sound less intelligent to many people outside the South.

You might say, "$@#* those people," but you might also want a job from them or something. Like if you were running for office, say. Buyers only buy what they want.

Harry Reid was probably speaking more as a strategist than a racist; but that's neither here nor there. What really matters is that he doesn't dwell on it. I think that's the main thing.

Bendigo Shafter 1-3

Bendigo Shafter Chapters 1-3:

Now that most of us have the book, we can discuss the first few chapters. In this early phase, L'amour sets up all four of the major conflict types: man against nature, man against man, man against society, and man against self.

The first issue is the early snowstorm, which catches the children away from the incomplete houses. The second is the seizure of the children by the Indians, and the third arises from tensions within the village population.

The fourth conflict type is demonstrated by Bendigo Shafter's concern for his own education. He has enough, at the start of the book, to make a living with: he can build a cabin, or split and plane floors. That would have been enough for the time and place, and for many times and places: a skilled carpenter is almost always valuable, and would be easily employed at a good rate even today if it were not for the housing situation being what it is.

Some things for discussion:

1) What is the widow Macken's relationship to the rest of the townsfolk? What can you tell from how people relate to her?

2) What do you think of the late Mr. Macken's plan for education? Would you have lugged a crate of books across the prairie?

3) Which ones, and why? The date here is the mid-19th century.

Discuss in the comments below. Since this is an easy read, I'd like to propose we try to do ten chapters a week henceforth. That should put us through the book in about a month.

Of Course (Beta)

Of Course:

Cassandra took the time to run the Futurist's sources for his "Venusian Arts" piece. Here's what she found:

The first thing to note is that 63% of these links go to the same 4 sources: himself, Roissy (a pick up artist site), Spearhead (self described men's issues site that also posts about "Game" or PUA tactics), In Mala Fide (another "game" site). Nor were these the only links to PUA sites: when the rest of those links are added up, they amount to 70% of his sources.
Now, what is a "pickup artist"? We've all known them: they are men who have learned how to make a living by preying on the vulnerabilities of insecure young women.

It appears that some of them have learned how to make a living off insecure young men, too. These "PUA" are selling DVDs to "train" them. And books. And seats at seminars.

They have found a way to convince men who are hurt, or scared they will never find love, to fork over money -- and help build their reputations, which in turn builds their sales figures. The men are desperate enough, or hurt enough, not to notice that someone whose claim to fame is their ability to "play" people will probably be playing them, too.

If I were to meet someone who had been suckered into this line, and who was spending money or raising the reputation of these characters, I would probably say something like this:

"These guys are not teaching you to be a 'Master of the Venusian Arts.' They are turning you into what they would proudly call 'my latest b*tch.' They're living off you every bit as much as you fear a woman would, and they're laughing at you.

"Is that who you wanted to be?"

These so-called artists are skunks. You don't want to be one of them, and you definitely don't want to be their latest conquest.

If what you wanted instead was love, there is no shortcut to it.

If what you wanted was safety, there's none of that to be had in love either. If you've been hurt, you have to risk getting hurt again. I know it's hard. It's hard for soldiers who've been hurt in combat, it's hard for horsemen who take a bad throw, and it's hard in love.

Nevertheless: a man should ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth.

That's the whole point of being a man. A ship is to cross the ocean, and a man is to dare the perils of the world.

If what you wanted was to be was an alpha, that's what one is.