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  1. In response to criticisms of my denial of "instantaneous velocity" or in general "instantaneous change", especially as it relates to calculus, this person has written well on the topic and reflects a lot of my own thought: http://milesmathis.com/are.html
  2. "Why" questions are leading questions. "Why" presupposes purpose, i.e. the result of a conscious act toward a goal. So the question "why do entities exist?" presupposes that a conscious entity had a reason to make entities exist. To avoid "what made the original conscious entity exist" question we might declare the original conscious entity to be "eternal". Then we are stuck asking why other entities need to be brought into existence whereas the original conscious entity does not. We realize that this is an arbitrary distinction, there is no reason to think that entities were suddenly brought into existence by the act of a conscious will. Not only is it an arbitrary assertion, but it asserts that something can be created from 'nothing', an explicit contradiction. So we avoid the arbitrary and the contradictory by stating that entities exist. In general, we should avoid "why" questions except in the context of consciousness. Why did she go to the store? Because she wanted milk. Why did the rock fall down the hill? Because it wanted to get to the bottom? In the context of inanimate objects we generally (not always) replace "why" with "how". HOW did the rock fall down the hill? A gust of wind came along and pushed it. Why did the rock fall down the hill? Because Jim decided to kick it down the hill. Why is the sky blue? I donno, because the sky wants to be blue? Because God wants the sky to be blue? The better question is, HOW does air interact with light in such a way as to make the sky appear blue? Why do objects fall to earth? Again, do they want to fall to earth? Does TFSM push them toward the earth? Instead, HOW do objects fall to the earth? i.e. how does the mechanism called "gravity" work? I realize that in most daily conversation "why" questions are used in the context of the inanimate, with no problems, because it is usually assumed that the person means "how". What I mean is, we usually don't assume the person thinks a rock, or other inanimate object, has a purpose (a why). However this doesn't always get across, and it is important to remember the underlying, implicit assumption in "why?"
  3. Understood. Hopefully this discussion got us both to think a little harder and possibly even learn something, even if neither of us is any closer to agreement. I'll close by making a statement based on my limited reading and knowledge of Oism. Rand seems to have said, on a number of occasions, that an entity is that which is "bounded" or "finite" or many other such synonyms. This would rule out "groups", since each unit in a group is bounded. However I believe it is also true that she never formally laid this down as part of Oism. I would also point out that, in addition to Euclid, Aristotle's Metaphysics speaks of "form" and other such synonyms for shape in reference to what an entity is: from Aristotle's Metaphysics Also, in general, substance ontologists focus on "that which is common to all". Shape, form, boundedness, etc. is common to all entities. This is exactly the criterion by which we distinguish physical objects from conceptualizations and avoids ambiguity, circularity, or individual opinion.
  4. What will you refer to, if not something that exists? How will you refer to it before you observe it? How will you communicate with the ET? An entity is an entity. There is no "strong sense". When we're being rigorous it's either an entity or not. If it has shape, it's an object. It may not exist because it lacks location. I am visualizing a unicorn. The unicorn I am visualizing has shape, it is an object, but it lacks location. I am visualizing a spot, it has shape, but it also lacks location. The lake you "see" at the desert has shape, it's an object, but it lacks location (assuming the lack is not actually there). The distinction between objects that exist and objects that do not is location. The distinction between that which is something and that which isn't, i.e. what we can refer to as the subject of a sentence, is shape. I said earlier that of course we can describe this entity as being made of this or that. But we cannot define the word "entity" nor define "music box" as "made of parts". This begs the question, what are the parts? The entity itself is the shape you see before you, a single discrete unit. I never even said this. Whether you call a ball that's been squeezed "Ball2" and the original unsqueezed ball "Ball1" or you call them both "ball" is a personal choice. A person is justified in classifying them separately on the basis that one is oblong and the other is spherical. Another person is justified in classifying them together based on being round. They have shape *and* location. What's color to a blind man? What's color to Nature, when no humans have ever been born? What's duration or mass? What's sound to a deaf man? Or again to Nature? Nature doesn't recognize these. It's important to distinguish between two definitions of "sound", the vibration of entities and the human act of perceiving and identifying "sound". If a tree falls it vibrates the atoms of air around it. If there is a human present they perceive "sound". Now apply this to "color". An atom by itself may emit light. If there is a human present they may compare their perception of it to their perception of another atom emitting light differently and call the difference "color". In general when people say sound or color I interpret this as the human experience of hearing and sight. If I'm not referring to these human experiences I usually talk simply about motion and light. But there is no *guarantee* that every single entity that exist emits light, so light emission cannot be a fundamental, primitive aspect of all entities. As far as motion is concerned, we cannot even conceptualize or talk about motion without talking about *that* which is moving. So again motion cannot be a primitive aspect because it begs the question of what is moving? What distinguishes it? I never said this either. Shape is *primitive*. By this I mean that, in order to perceive, identify, conceptualize, and talk about any of the other properties we first need a shape before us. We cannot conceptualize motion without *that* which is moving. We cannot conceptualize light emission without *that* which is emitting light, or without visualizing light. What is doing all these things, what is vibrating, emitting, etc.? To answer this question you will irrevocably have to point at a shape. The property that is intrinsic to ALL entities is shape. An entity may have more characteristics, but shape is the bare minimum to qualify as an entity. Additionally entities that exist have location. What typically happens is the person listening has an association with the words you're using. The imbue your statement with their own meaning. When talking about mundane or everyday things we all tend to imagine or mean the same things and this works fine. In other kinds of discourse it is catastrophic. The person listening takes your statements to mean what THEY would mean if THEY said it. The end result is that you neither conveyed any meaning to them and they did not learn anything from you. The only way around this is to point at the entities that serve as the subject of your statements. At a bare minimum, what you point at will have shape. It will have to. You offer a lot of criticism, although it's clear you don't yet fully understand. But I have not seen anyone provide a definition of "entity" other than as a "self evident primary". But this is unacceptable, this means that what qualifies as an entity is a matter of personal opinion. X is something for me but not for you, and that's okay cuz everyone's different and special. Nature doesn't care about your personal opinion. Shape does not make provisions for opinion, it restricts the word "entity" to that which you can point at. This leaves it clear, rigorous, and non-circular. Other definitions, such as that which you can see/touch, are circular because they invoke another entity to do the seeing/touching. It's not a definition, it's a proof. An entity was an entity before you saw it or touched it, what qualified it as an entity before then? Another definition, an entity is "made of X", is also circular because it says an entity is that which is made of entities. So, can you offer better the circular see/touch and made off criteria or the useless "self evident primary"?
  5. None of what you said addresses the incident issue. What is the attribute which is intrinsic to all entities? Do all entities emit light? Do they all have inertial mass? When we strip away these attributes, what is left? What is the last attribute which, if we strip it away, we no longer have an entity?
  6. If you have never perceived Barack, then when you say "the current president of the United States", you are using a floating abstraction. You have no idea what you're referring to. On the other hand, if I perceive this keyboard on my desk, *then* talk about it, then I am dealing with *this* keyboard on my desk. It's the opposite of absurdity, to deny what you see right before you is absurd! There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that you are perceiving an object. If you see a shape, you are obviously perceiving that shape. Now, whether you conclude that there is an object *there* (at some location), that it is wet (like a lake), or any other of a number of characteristics about it is up to your prior experiences with similar shapes. Your prior experience being limited, you could be wrong. However, obviously if there is a shape there, there is a shape there. If you see a shape, you see a shape. That you deny this is beyond me. All irrelevant. An object is not what it does, which is all I said, and which you did not argue against. Okay now we're moving from color to interaction with light. Does an entity have to interact with light to be considered an entity? The argument here is that there is only a single criterion for entity-hood: shape. An entity doesn't have to emit or absorb light to be considered an entity. All it needs is shape. Of course not. Shape doesn't refer to a specific shape. It simply refers to the quality of having shape. This quality is static. Unlike color/light, which is dynamic, i.e. 'a' photon must be emitted or absorbed. Also unlike "mass", which involves acceleration. Also unlike "tangible", which involves the action of touching. An object doesn't have to move, make a sound, emit light, etc. to be an object. Do you agree? Does the apple have to emit red light to be an entity? Does it have to fall off the tree? An entity would still be an entity, even if it never did anything. What makes it an entity in the absence of conscious observation and actions? The fact that it has shape. Without shape, there is nothing. We are not visualizing an entity anymore. In our minds we can strip away photon emission, inertia, etc. and there is still shape. The shape is what you point to and name. Its ALL the ET sees. Everything that comes after is treating the word as a concept. It's an entity before you ever pointed to it and named it. It was an entity not because it had color or weight, but because it had shape. By shape I don't mean it was triangular or pyramidal or whatever. By shape I mean it does not spontaneously spread out and become infinite, i.e. shapeless. It remains a finite, discrete thing. Intelligible, usually. Meaningful, almost never. Flawed logic. Let me translate: (1) Either there is something outside of a bounded space/shape x, or there is nothing outside of a bounded shape x. As: (1) Either there is an object outside another object x, or there is not an object outside another object x. This is all "nothing" means, it means "no object". When you say "there is no nothing" it is implied that you are saying "there is no nothing that exists". This just means "there is no no object that exists" which means "there is an object that exists". This is the only way to make this statement meaningful, avoiding contradiction. 3 does not follow from 1 and 2. There's either a 2nd object or not. Either way, an object is that which has shape. Surely an object doesn't spontaneously acquire shape only by virtue of rubbing shoulders with another object. Let's take this a different route. An object does not have to have taste, color, etc. to qualify as an object. It needs shape as a minimum. Without shape, how will you see it, touch it, taste it, visualize it, etc.? Without shape none of the others are possible. Without shape, what is coming up against your tongue? What hits your eyeball? Obviously a puddle is not a candle and they are not the same object.
  7. You're the one who is not understanding. The purpose is to step back and ask what the universe would be like if we were omniscient. Then we draw deductions about what humans will observe in such a universe. If what we observe is consistent, this is support for the universe as we imagined it. Replace the word "space" with any other word. If you claim X is "suffused" then I have a right to ask you what IS X? Then it is your responsibility to point to X. If unable to point to the actual X, you will at least have to show a picture or model. If you cannot fulfill this simple minimum condition, then "X" is a wildcard, a floating abstraction. What's 'a' field? I'm not asking for a description or a quantification, I'm asking you what IS it, paleface? I'm an ET. Impossible. Motion cannot be transferred like an entity itself. Transfer itself involves motion. You're talking about the motion of motion. We still need to see 'a' field/EM wave, so we can even know what's moving. Then they are most certainly not entities. Empty: nothing Are you saying space is nothing or that it is an enclosure, inside of which there is no entity present? Is space like a box? transferring motion? Moving motion? You've gotta be kidding me. Point. Space is an attribute? And all this time I thought you were saying it was an entity! This is insane. This summarily converts all attributes into entities, a completely absurd notion.
  8. I shouldn't have stated that the "friend" was moving at 0.5*c. What I said wasn't meant to be taken quantitatively but rather qualitatively. When you move faster relative to your friend you both calculate the same speed of light, although you both perceive different distances-traveled and different "times". So if you're moving toward the light source at .5*c and your friend is "stationary" s/he sees light going at a speed of 1/1. You see it going at 0.577/0.577 = 1. You will of course observe a doppler blue shift but a relativistic red shift. To know which way it goes you'll just have to calc it, wikipedia has lots of great articles on rel, here's the one on the relativistic doppler shift: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativistic_Doppler_effect
  9. You need to distinguish between the concept of a keyboard, something this long, this color, this shape, etc. and *this* keyboard on my desk. When you simply utter "the keyboard on altonhare's desk", unless you perceive it, you're not referring to *this* keyboard on my desk. You never verified its existence because you never identified it in the first place. You may have verified a claim i.e. there is something this long, this shape, etc. at this location. You verify whether this statement is true or not. Since 2 and 3 contradict 1, we must discard 1. It is not possible to doubt if a particular object exists since I am perceiving it. First of all, color is an awful counterexample. Color is a dynamic concept, it requires motion to observe and conceptualize color. Since no object IS what it DOES, we immediately discard all dynamic attributes as primitive, intrinsic characteristics common to all objects. How is there color without a consciousness to name something yellow and another thing blue? How is there color without a consciousness to conceptualize "color"? Certainly you don't propose that one atom identifies another as blue. Shape does not require a consious observer. Shape, in the primitive sense, has nothing to do with conscious identification or comparison. Objects have shape whether you're looking or not, even if all humans (or life for that matter) die off. With no life, no consciousness, there is no "color" or "rough". There are only shapes at locations. The concept "group of entities" does not consist of any entities because... it's conceptual. Entities may be described as consisting of entities, but not concepts. Also, since "made of" is a description by a conscious observer, entity in the primary sense refers to a single, discrete unit. In the moment where you point to it and name it, it is just itself. You have not begun to describe it in any way. This thing you are pointing at is associated with this sound you utter. So yes, at that moment, entity in the primary sense is referring to a single unit. The distinction is not artificial in the least. People make this equivocation all the time and it's the source of a lot of confusion and absurdity. You can certainly kick a table or a chair. Technically you cannot say that you kicked a piece of furniture, but we know what you mean. In everyday casual language this distinction is generally unimportant because we all have similar ideas about furniture and baseballs. But in deeper discussions, especially in science, the distinction is absolutely crucial. So no, no absurdity is present except insofar as one feels comfortable in using loose, casual speech and uncomfortable otherwise. You're used to saying that you can kick concepts because everyday concepts are widely agreed upon and well understood. You've become so used to it that you think it's absurd not to be able to speak this way. What you mean by "I kicked a piece of furniture" is "I kicked an object that is either a chair, a table, a cabinet, .... etc." In casual speech we don't have time for this kind of precision and it's just not necessary. But scientific language demands more precision than everyday speech. And indeed everyday speech is riddled with imprecision! That's why we call it "casual" instead of "scientific". In casual language we can speak of actions as causal primaries! i.e. her jumping caused the boat to rock. But we know only entities are causal primaries, not actions or attributes. In casual speech we can say completely ridiculous things like "anger took him over" or "love brought them together" or "parliament voted". All of these casual sentences speak of action, but what's acting? An entity? Do you really propose everday, casual speech as the standard by which we should decide the matters we are debating? If it leads to an absurdity in everyday speech, no good, not allowed? In more rigorous terms we say she hit the boat repeatedly then the boat rocked. Here "she" is the subject of the sentence, which must be an entity with shape (unlike love and jumping). "Hit" is the action she performs, boat is the entity she performs the action on, and "repeatedly" is an adverb that qualifies her action. "She" is the causal primary, boat is the entity being acted upon, and rocking is the resulting action. If you want to communicate with the ET, what will you say? A concept caused the boat to rock? An action? If an action, an action of what? You will have to point at the entity and illustrate the action. "Jumping caused the boat to rock" absolutely will not do it for the ET. You can't show the ET 'a' jumping. Groups seem to be where we're having the most friction. Mental groupings are concepts though, just as love and anger are. Therefore it is just as irrational to say that 'a' group hit you as it is to say that anger hit you. No group of objects is an object. "Group" is summarily conceptual. And exactly, in both your examples you are naming TWO entities. TWO entities is not ONE entity. No GROUP of objects is ONE object. You already said it, they are "physical characteristics". They are comparisons/conceptualizations that humans have made. An object, all by itself, just "sees" shape. An atom does not recognize mass or frequency. You absolutely need a human being to make observations and take measurements and then conceptualize "mass" and "frequency". I did not say they are "less objective". I am identifying the most primitive characteristic intrinsic to *all* objects. The table has shape *before* you point to it and name it. It is not brown, mahogony, hard, flat, etc. until you compare it to something else. The table doesn't have shape only when you're looking at it. edge, boundary, those are synonyms. boundary, as a synonym of shape, has nothing to do with an interface between two objects. With shape, there is no comparison taking place. Certainly an object doesn't spring into being when another object comes along. You're saying an object has no shape, no extent, unless we're looking at it!? Does my infamous keyboard disintegrate when I leave then reform when I come back? Right, you said it, human standards. Now again I'm not saying these characteristics can't be objective. However I am identifying that characteristic of an object that it had before humans ever came about. Even when nobody is around with a tape measurer, a camera, a retina, etc. This characteristic is absolutely critical to identify and maintain rigorously in scientific discussion. Again only because you're comfortable with loose, casual speech and uncomfortable with the opposite. Your level of comfort with using almost any term in the capacity of "object" is bizarre to me. Object means something very specific. Its this loose language, especially with regards to objects, that leads to huge meaningless debates, circular reasoning, absurd questions, and lots of wasted time. The question of "Is X an object? is not a matter of anyone's opnion, it is not up for debate. If it has shape, it's an object. If someone wants to propose that X is an object, they can point. Whether you name the object before you with the same name that you used before is irrelevant. How narrow (or wide) you decide to make your criteria for categories such as "chicken" or "candle" is entirely up to you. As far as I'm concerned it's a candle, then it's a puddle. They are not the same. You may decide that it's a candle, then it's still a candle. Perhaps your criteria for naming something "candle" is "whatever is made of wax". My proposal is not without precedent. Euclid more or less said this, but ultimately failed to actually implement the shape criterion:
  10. Hey cmd, I appreciate you reiterating where the whole discussion came from to keep everything in the right context and to keep us on track. I was discussing this with another objectivist. I'll give some examples to illustrate the point. You tell me there is something round and hard in my front yard at home you call X. I'm at work. I come home and see a baseball in my front yard. Did I verify that it exists? Or did I verify that you were telling the truth? I contend that I verified if you were telling the truth or not. I observe the baseball, consistent with what you said, therefore you were telling the truth. How could I verify if *it* existed if I did not even know what *it* was before I observed it? I did not know what it was, because I had not yet perceived it. I form a mental conception of something that is round and hard. I visualize it, imagine feeling it in my hands. I see no reason something that is both round and hard cannot exist. Now, you propose that I can "verify whether it exists". Here, "it" immediately refers to something particular, my mental conception. I already know my mental conception exists in my mind. So I cannot verify whether my mental conception exists. If "it" is referring to "something out there that is both round and hard" then, upon discovering a baseball, you did not verify whether the baseball exists or not! You *discovered* something with characteristics you have already observed in the past. Before you discovered the baseball, you were never referring to the baseball itself. You were referring to a mental conception. So you could not verify whether the baseball existed, because you were never referring to it in the first place. You never referred to the baseball itself until you observed it. It does change. Determination is different than observation. Very different. I observe that which exists. I do not determine that what I am observing exists. This is wrong, I admit. I didn't think this through enough, what I should have said is that whatever I conceptualize or observe is, of course, something particular. So X is always something particular. However X is either something I observe or something I conceptualize. I don't verify whether each of these exists. One I am conceptualizing already and the other I am observing already. Objects move. What's the big deal? I explain the event/observation by saying that some fundamental object sticks to others. When these fundamental constituents move they shake loose from each other. This is a theory to explain the event. I still disagree with (2). I observe objects that exist. I do not grasp, determine, conceptualize, etc. their existence. If you refer to something like a television, computer, etc. as an object you are treating it as a single thing. As soon as you talk about how it was made, what it is made of, etc. you are dealing with the concept of a TV or computer. What you pointed at was the object. Your description of it is a conceptualization. I am not saying entities are only things that are grasped directly by perception. I am saying an entity is that which has shape. I am also not saying that you cannot describe an entity as being made of entities. Any definition besides "shape" for entity qua entity cannot be used consistently. An object has shape all on its own. Other properties such as color, sharpness, roundness, roughness, etc. require the comparison/conceptualization of a conscious observer. An object in the primary sense just has shape, it is intrinsic. I am not saying that an entity such as a music box is not made of entities. I am distinguishing in what context we can use a word to refer to an object and in what context we cannot. We can only use the word "music box" to refer to an object if we are referring to the shape which we point to. We cannot refer to conceptualizations and groups as if they were objects because, quite simply, they are conceptualizations and not objects. The music box is not 'a' group of gears. The music box is itself, it is what I pointed to. "Group of gears" is a conceptualization of the spatial proximity of entities. This avoids the absurdity of asserting that the Eiffel Tower and my left toe is an object. That kind of nonsense is right out. It identifies the most primitive, intrinsic quality common to all objects. It makes the word "object" unambiguous. It prevents absurdity like asserting that the Eiffel Tower and my left toe are 'a' object. Groups are not objects. A music box is NOT a group of gears. A music box is a music box is a music box. It is what I point to. It may be made of gears, this is a description of it, not a definition of it. We cannot haphazardly replace the word "music box" with the phrase "group of gears" wherever we want because one refers to an object, a shape, and the other refers to a conceptualization, the mental association of entities under some criteria. The shape criterion It is free of observers, other objects and "proof". Whether an object is big, heavy, red, soft, smooth, rough, etc. is a matter of a person's perception and comparison. An object is not identified as rough unless there is another object to compare it to that is not rough. An object is not colored unless there is at least one more object of a different color. An object is not big unless there is at least one object that is small. Shape, on the other hand, an object has shape even if it is the only object in the universe. The only alternative to shape is shapeless, i.e. nothing. There is no nothing. What I am presenting is not as bizarre as it sounds.
  11. Concepts can indeed refer to attributes. The problem we have here is that "collection of entities" refers to some attribute of entities such as proximity. Since attributes cannot perform actions we cannot logically use concepts such as groups/collections in a sentence as if they were entities. Often we do this anyway as a convenient shorthand and, if the terminology and the abstraction is familiar enough, no meaning is lost. On the other hand, the entity itself is what you see before you, something you take at face value. Your understanding of the entity (how it was made, how it was put together, what it is used for...) is in your mind. The abstraction/conceptualization in your mind cannot perform actions or be acted upon. You cannot kick "it". It makes no sense to. You can kick the entity, the man or the bee or the dog. You cannot kick your mental association between entities, no matter how strong your mental association may be.
  12. Hey cmd, before I respond I want to say I appreciate your constructive criticism and commentary. You are not, in this case, talking about a particular thing. You conceptualizing based on particular things you have already observed. You're guessing that you may observe in the future something that is hard, round, etc. Can a thing be both hard like wood and round like a balloon? You're not talking about verifying the existence of a particular thing.Then you stumble across a baseball. Did you verify the baseball existed? No, you just observed it and it happens to share conceptual characteristics with things you have already observed. The baseball is a particular thing that exists. Your concepts of round and hard are just characteristics of things you have observed before. I am simply arguing that you do not and cannot verify whether a particular thing exists. I'm making the distinction between verifying the existence of a particular thing and simply observing that which happens to share conceptual characteristics with things you have already observed. You may have verified that there is an entity with such and such characteristics, but you didn't verify whether *a particular thing* exists. First off, I don't really understand the distinction you're trying to draw between us. I take in direct percepts that define my ontology and then draw deductions/conclusions from that. You construct your ontology from percepts. So we both build our ontologies from percepts. Second off, I agree that existence is not a perceptual determination. I've been pounding on that, in fact. I observe that which exists. I don't determine, verify, etc. if *this* thing exists. I observe it. That's my whole argument against people talking about verifying whether X exists. If they have not observed X then X is not something particular and since everything that exists is something particular, they are not verifying whether X exists. You might say that the mental conceptualization represented by X exists. But when you stumble upon the baseball you cannot make the leap to saying you verified *it* (qua it) exists. I have observed a balloon and a block. I felt and saw sharp edges on the block but not on the balloon. I refer to this comparison as "round" versus "blocky". I also felt that the balloon was squishy/soft, I could push in on it. The block I could not. I refer to this comparison by describing the balloon as "soft" and the block as "hard". I wonder if there is an object that is both round and hard. I don't think there's any reason not, so I guess there is one. I discover a baseball. It is both round and hard. I did not verify whether *the* baseball existed. I simply discovered something which I could describe via previous conceptualizations. The fact that I guessed right is good luck or good intuition. 2 is absolutely not my claim. Entities exist whether we perceive them or not. I observe that which exists doesn't mean that which I don't observe doesn't exist. Your first statement is misconceived. You are misusing the word "consist". 'A' group is a concept, a mental construct, and cannot be said to "consist" of anything. This is why it contradicts your correct statement (4). Concepts, by definition, do not "consist of" entities. "Groups of entities" do not consist of entities. Its a concept, a mental association of entities. The problem here is the way you're using the word "object" or synonymously "entity". When we point at something and name it (treat it as an object) it is taken at face value. It is a single standalone thing. When you start talking about *how* it was made, *what* it is made of, etc. you are describing and conceptualizing. You point at a table and say "table". The ET just sees one standalone thing. The table is an object. The ET knows nothing about what it is made of, how it was made, what it's used for, etc. When you talk about what the table is made of you are conceptualizing it, i.e. you are using the word "table" to refer to the concept of cutting wood into specific shapes and putting it together so people can eat off it... etc. When talking about table qua table, or any entity qua entity, it is not "made of parts". In the primary sense an entity is simply that which you point at and has shape. There is no caveat for being a "sum of its parts". As soon as you talk about it being a sum of other entities you are dealing with a concept and not an object. You are dealing with the concept of atoms bonding or chopping trees etc. No entity, in the primary sense, is a "sum of parts". In the primary sense "entity" encompasses a single distinguishing characteristic, shape. The problem here is in (3). You went from music box qua music box in (1) to music box that was made by putting these entities (gears) together in this specific way in (3), which is explicitly a concept. The act of putting together the music box with gears is conceptual. This is an equivocation between music box the object and music box the concept.
  13. If atoms could move faster than light then yes, you could be hit in the head with one before seeing it with your eyes. The supersonic bullet is a good analogy. The reason you and your friend both calculate the same speed of light is very simple. Your friend, travling at 0.5*c relative to you, has a clock that physically ticks slower than yours. So you see the light beam traverse a meter in a single tick of your clock, your friend sees it traverse half a meter but also only sees half a tick of his clock. You both get c=1. This is a bit patronizing and heavy-handed. Frisky is trying to visualize and understand the situation from a rational, intuitive approach in hopes of reconciling it with observations. No, light does not "seem to have a different speed" for the person moving. Light's speed is calculated exactly the same. Yeah, I've heard the "light is instantaneous" argument before and I can't conceive of any way it could possibly be true. Not only do I have issues with "true instantaneity" but every experiment ever done summarily falsifies it. In particular, a very simple setup (done in high vacuum 10^-10 mbar): Source S and detector D are separated by 1 unit distance. Turn on the source and a timer, D detects and turns off the timer. The time for this is t and the speed of light is 1/t. If light is "instantaneous" then t is the time for us to detect the change in D, which is essentially constant. Now S and D are separated by 100 unit distances. Repeat the experiment. If light is "instantaneous" but only appears to have a finite velocity because it takes some time for us to detect it, then we will get the speed of light has 100/t, where t is essentially a constant temporal offset. Thus, if light were "instantaneous" we would expect its calc'd speed to increase with the separation of source and detector. We do not observe this effect. Until the proponents of "instant light" can surmount this seemingly invincible empirical barrier, I do not know how anyone can take such an idea seriously.
  14. What can it even mean for a dimension to be "small"? An object can be small, but a concept? Brian Greene's analogies all fail. All the analogies in the world ultimately fail. In the "relativity of simultaneity" two observers come to contradictory conclusions. This is unacceptable. While observers in rel agree on if A is longer than B or if A has greater velocity than B, they disagree on the simultaneity of AB and CD. As we know there are no contradictions in reality. This indicates that time, at least as measured, is not fundamental to reality. But relativity is based on the idea that time IS fundamental. How will you "prove" that my table is 4, 5, or more dimensional? In which direction will you move it? Will you show that the inverse square "law" of gravity is different on tiny scales? But here you have just shown that the inverse square "law" is not a law but just a macroscopic correlation, a good heuristic formula. You'll have a new quantitative relationship for the attraction between bodies. Will you throw the table into a collider and tell me you pumped in more "energy" than you got out? What is this "energy", can you point to it? Show me a picture of it? Space is not "real". Space is nothing, and there is no nothing. I like your ideas on time and movement. Nope. The leprechaun I am visualizing in my mind doesn't exist. The keyboard I am visualizing in my mind doesn't exist. It exists if it has shape and location. Concepts exist although they lack shape and location if they are perceptually derived from shapes with location.
  15. How is pi() a standalone, completed "number"? i.e. a finished result? Mathematically pi() represents, as you said, a series. Not just any series, but one for which we can always write an additional term. So pi() represents an operation, something that hasn't been done yet. Specifically what hasn't been done yet is adding in the nth term in the series. So we work with the symbol pi() until we're ready to get a finished result, at which point we finally calculate a number and replace pi() with it. You cannot manipulate that which is indefinite, undetermined, or neverending. Manipulations of pi() in algebraic equations and so forth are founded on the tacit assumption that pi will be converted into a number at the end, so we can say that we were just dealing with that number all along.
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