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# Unknowability

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Andie,

I'm trying to understand what you mean by "inherent inability to factor out the process of observation".

If we could "factor out the process of observation" what would be different?

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If you attend a football game and I asked you to write down what you perceived, your words on the page would be a "causal existent" of your observations - but they would not BE the football game.  You

Can you give an example of entity A that may do one of two actions in context X? I don't mean an example of metaphysical possibility where entity A may act in several ways depending on the context. I'

A choice to focus still follows a methodology implicitly so that method is always followed, and if the same context repeated, you'd repeat your choice. It is metaphysically possible to make a differen

QM is identification up to the point of ignorance.  At the point of ignorance, some interpretations of it violate the law of identity.

When a QM physicist says a physical system in state |Q> = a|q1> + b|q2>  he is stating THE state it is in.   It is a single state ... and although expressed in terms of probabilities of out come (statistically speaking)... the system is claimed to be a single state.  It is what it is.  Not what it is not.

The measurement may turn out to be q1 or q2 with probabilities depending upon how the system is measured but the system is not in state q1 or q2 before hand, that would be something different, it is in state |Q>.

|Q> identifies a state up to a point of ignorance about whether q1 or q2 will be measured... and until q1 or q2 are measured we cannot (currently cannot) say anything about which will be measured, and until there is a measurement/interaction/interference the thing is and will remain in state |Q>.

Now someone can  see |Q> as logically implying or logically necessitating that (because we don't know whether q1 or q2 will be measured) Q is somehow indefinite or lacking identity.  But that ignores what |Q> means and that it is what it is, a statement about potential outcomes IF measured.

Now if you ask well what about the q1-ness or q2-ness of |Q> BEFORE it is measured... on some level this question is meaningless and unfair, it poses problems because it asks something of |Q> which is not literally IN Q, q1 and q2 are only possible OUTCOMES of doing something to |Q>.

The extended version of A=A would mean that A (xy) = A (yx). But it's not. The Born equation gives A(xy) =A(yx)(h). Basically, in ceteris paribus situations (A=A), the sequence in which quantities are measured  determines outcome.

This runs contrary to both Newtonian Mechanics --even revised with the Lorentzian!--and Gen Rel. Given the same initial conditions of A in two examples, we obtain the same outcome (well, actually four in Gen Rel...another story...).

Andie

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Andie,

I'm trying to understand what you mean by "inherent inability to factor out the process of observation".

If we could "factor out the process of observation" what would be different?

There is no possibility of measuring quanta w/o the 'observer factor'.

Andie

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There is no possibility of measuring quanta w/o the 'observer factor'.

Andie

I agree.  In fact, this is also true on the macro level.  An observation (or description, or measurement, or model) of some thing is a thing itself, and it is not interchangeable with that which is being observed.

QM is a model, used to describe what is observed.  QM's relationship to quanta is that of a set of drawings to a building, or a compact disk recording of a symphony to the live performance.

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The extended version of A=A would mean that A (xy) = A (yx).

A is A is not a proposition - it is an axiom.  Your A (xy) = A (yx) is NOT an axiom, it is an algorithm, based on an axiom(s).

That internal angles of a triangle = 180 degrees is not an axiom - it is a proposition.  But it is based on axiom(s).  Under different axioms, the angles need not equal 180 degrees.

A is A, by itself is fairly meaningless.  To be understood, it must be integrated into a much wider context than you appear to be doing.  By context dropping, you are changing axioms mid-stream.  I'm not sure what you are intending to demonstrate by doing so.  For the sake of argument, what changes if A is not A?  Does the Universe shift?  Does life have no meaning?  Is all to be forsaken?

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The extended version of A=A would mean that A (xy) = A (yx). But it's not. The Born equation gives A(xy) =A(yx)(h). Basically, in ceteris paribus situations (A=A), the sequence in which quantities are measured  determines outcome.

This runs contrary to both Newtonian Mechanics --even revised with the Lorentzian!--and Gen Rel. Given the same initial conditions of A in two examples, we obtain the same outcome (well, actually four in Gen Rel...another story...).

Andie

Show me how Born ACTUALLY claims a thing (defined as what it is) is not what it is.

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Yes, quantum mechanics contradicts the law of identity.

Yes, in the same way that Libertarian volition does.

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Yes, in the same way that Libertarian volition does.

I never received a satisfactory answer from the determinists on that point. Suppose an entity can act in two different ways under the same circumstances (of course I'm thinking of man which can either focus or unfocus the mind). Why is that entity in violation of identity? Its possible actions are finite and limited. It still HAS to act one of the two ways- it still has an identity. It still is something.

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A is A is not a proposition - it is an axiom.  Your A (xy) = A (yx) is NOT an axiom, it is an algorithm, based on an axiom(s).

That internal angles of a triangle = 180 degrees is not an axiom - it is a proposition.  But it is based on axiom(s).  Under different axioms, the angles need not equal 180 degrees.

A is A, by itself is fairly meaningless.  To be understood, it must be integrated into a much wider context than you appear to be doing.  By context dropping, you are changing axioms mid-stream.  I'm not sure what you are intending to demonstrate by doing so.  For the sake of argument, what changes if A is not A?  Does the Universe shift?  Does life have no meaning?  Is all to be forsaken?

I believe that you are quite correct in stating that, by itself, A=A is meaningless. For example, both Aristotle and Leibniz used 'identity' as a basis of system building within logic.

Therefore, the Commutative Law, or AB=BA is based upon the assumed 'identity'  that both A and B possess the same quantity on both sides of the equation: that A really does equal A, and B really does equal B.

In QM measurement, however, the commutative principle seems not to hold true. This means that the sequence of measurement determines the outcome.

By 'seems', one has to say that either all multiplication is not commutative, or that, in actuality, the asserted A and B's on both sides of the equation are not identical. Therefore A does not equal A, and/or B does not equal B.

I would dare say that, faced with this dilemma, all working scientists and mathematicians would strongly prefer to give A=A the heave ho- rather than The Commutative Principle. After all, there are still checkbooks to balance and your children's multiplication table to scrutinize. And after all, you yourself stated that, by itself, identity is somewhat useless...

AH

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Andie,

It's clear from my review of your posts that you don't consider yourself an Objectivist - nor do you believe that Objectivism has any merit or worth.

Why are you here, on this forum?  Man, life is too short to be wasting it as you are.  Why are you wasting YOUR time?

Edited by New Buddha
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I never received a satisfactory answer from the determinists on that point. Suppose an entity can act in two different ways under the same circumstances (of course I'm thinking of man which can either focus or unfocus the mind). Why is that entity in violation of identity? Its possible actions are finite and limited. It still HAS to act one of the two ways- it still has an identity. It still is something.

Presuming this might be me, I made it clear I'm not a determinist. I only seem to be, but all I said is I don't say there are distinct forms of causality. All we can do is point out subtypes by pointing out which entity is acting. Yes, logically speaking, having identity means that it has to act in one way at a time. I'm saying based on observing the world, only one CAN happen. Things can and will only act in one way in a specific context - volition refers to choosing a single action by a specific method to make that choice. There are choices because abstracting away the specific method leaves us with volition. We know SOME method is used, but that's it. As a result, we get a concept of volition. If we DON'T abstract away the method, it violates identity by either being wholly determinist, or by granting that you can have NO idea why that particular method was used if insisting on libertarian free will (it could act in multiple ways without regard to circumstances).

You did not answer my thought experiment all the way, so that's why you're not getting a satisfactory answer.

Edited by Eiuol
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I never received a satisfactory answer from the determinists on that point. Suppose an entity can act in two different ways under the same circumstances (of course I'm thinking of man which can either focus or unfocus the mind). Why is that entity in violation of identity? Its possible actions are finite and limited. It still HAS to act one of the two ways- it still has an identity. It still is something.

When we say that "food nourishes" we mean that it has, does and will nourish us; that our knowledge of its past nature dictates something real about its future.  To be is to continue being.

In any choice you make, you could have chosen otherwise- IF you had conceived of that choice differently.  This is a true counterfactual; a statement about what would have been the case, if something else was different from reality.  The statement "if food did not nourish" is a perfectly valid and coherent thing to express, and of great cognitive value because of the fact that food has always and will always nourish.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possible_world

Everything that is, is necessary.  That means that everything which will be, is necessary.

A contingent fact is a contradiction.

If you'd like a single objection, it would be that your assertion contradicts the principle of bivalence.

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Good thread. I must add that starting a philosophical discussion with reference to Quantum Mechanics is fraught with pitfalls. First among them from a objectivist point of view (actually from scientific point of view as well) is the concept of identity. When Maxwell Planck derived the equations defining the minimum rate at which a black body could radiate energy, he was drawing a line in reality. Above this line you can have things, below this line  you cannot. Below that line you can have energy behaving similarly to a thing on occasion, but keep watching and it will be just energy. So when you contemplate sub atomic "particles", remember they have the same kind of "identity" that a curl traversing the bonsai pipe-line has. When I am in the curl I know all about it's speed and direction, but I have no idea where the beach is, beyond "not here".

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Good thread. I must add that starting a philosophical discussion with reference to Quantum Mechanics is fraught with pitfalls. First among them from a objectivist point of view (actually from scientific point of view as well) is the concept of identity. When Maxwell Planck derived the equations defining the minimum rate at which a black body could radiate energy, he was drawing a line in reality. Above this line you can have things, below this line  you cannot. Below that line you can have energy behaving similarly to a thing on occasion, but keep watching and it will be just energy. So when you contemplate sub atomic "particles", remember they have the same kind of "identity" that a curl traversing the bonsai pipe-line has. When I am in the curl I know all about it's speed and direction, but I have no idea where the beach is, beyond "not here".

Thanks for the interesting post.

Krauss' book, "Something from nothing", dwells upon the non-identity of the vacuum state...and how its fluctuation caused the universe to appear. To this end, it's really the god- pushers who challenge him with their claims that 'nothingness' makes no sense (see the you tube!)

OTH, other scientists seem to understand that no-thing means 'only beneath the empirical radar; we simply have a situation in which a non-measurable theoretical entity causes thing-ness.

Or put another way-- 'identity' means 'empirical there-ness'.

AH.

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I would dare say that, faced with this dilemma, all working scientists and mathematicians would strongly prefer to give A=A the heave ho- rather than The Commutative Principle. After all, there are still checkbooks to balance and your children's multiplication table to scrutinize.

Without identity, what is it that one multiplies or balances?

Below that line you can have energy behaving similarly to a thing on occasion, but keep watching and it will be just energy. So when you contemplate sub atomic "particles", remember they have the same kind of "identity" that a curl traversing the bonsai pipe-line has.

Above that line, though, all energy is some form of kinetic energy.  Heat is the motion of orbiting electrons; combustive and metabolic energy are both essentially the motion of rearranging molecules; with the exception of gravity and electromagnetism, themselves, all energy that's evident to a layperson is some sort of motion (and even gravity and electromagnetism, themselves, exert their influence through motion).

So it seems to me (in a vaguely fuzzy way) that there's a pattern implied there; a pattern which, when extended to "energy without matter", would literally mean that there is motion without a mover.  I realize that "energy without matter" is one of the basic concepts of modern physics, but I still don't know quite what to make of it (unless the thing that's moving is time/space itself, which doesn't really make sense either, but does seem like a step in the right direction).

Is there something I'm missing, there?

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I would dare say that, faced with this dilemma, all working scientists and mathematicians would strongly prefer to give A=A [sic] the heave ho- rather than The Commutative Principle. After all, there are still checkbooks to balance and your children's multiplication table to scrutinize. And after all, you yourself stated that, by itself, identity is somewhat useless...

AH

Many working scientists and mathematicians probably gave the law of identity the heave ho without even being aware of having done so, hence the dilemma(s). However, when one arrives at a contradiction, the approach is to check one's premises. One or more of them are false. 3 groups of 4 being the mathematical equivalent of 4 groups of 3 is readily shown true. Checking for adherence to the law of identity step by step along the chains of reasoning that leads to the described dilemma is less readily done so.

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Without identity, what is it that one multiplies or balances?

Above that line, though, all energy is some form of kinetic energy.  Heat is the motion of orbiting electrons; combustive and metabolic energy are both essentially the motion of rearranging molecules; with the exception of gravity and electromagnetism, themselves, all energy that's evident to a layperson is some sort of motion (and even gravity and electromagnetism, themselves, exert their influence through motion).

So it seems to me (in a vaguely fuzzy way) that there's a pattern implied there; a pattern which, when extended to "energy without matter", would literally mean that there is motion without a mover.  I realize that "energy without matter" is one of the basic concepts of modern physics, but I still don't know quite what to make of it (unless the thing that's moving is time/space itself, which doesn't really make sense either, but does seem like a step in the right direction).

Is there something I'm missing, there?

Einstein's Special Relativity allows for the conversion of all matter to energy: E=MC^2.

We also know that the universe began as a flux in the vacuum state of energy, and created matter only after the later formation of stars.

AH

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Many working scientists and mathematicians probably gave the law of identity the heave ho without even being aware of having done so, hence the dilemma(s). However, when one arrives at a contradiction, the approach is to check one's premises. One or more of them are false. 3 groups of 4 being the mathematical equivalent of 4 groups of 3 is readily shown true. Checking for adherence to the law of identity step by step along the chains of reasoning that leads to the described dilemma is less readily done so.

I'm sorry to belabor a point: please accept my apologies.

3x4 =4x3 expresses the Commutative principle that doesn't hold true when quantum thingamapoos are measured.

The contradiction is real; the checking of premises means looking over the data and measurement standards once again, with peer review as well.

Within the world of theoretical physics, the scientist who offered the major challenge (after the demise of Einstein) was Bell, and his 'inequality' challenge. 'Prove' said he, that QM isn't just a bunch of illogical mumbo-jumbo.

Okeedokee...the cutting edge proof came from Alain Aspect's lab in the basement of a dingy building in the Latin Quarter, Paris, between 1971 and 1978. Now since i'm not competent enough to judge, you'll have to read about it yourself!

My understanding, however, is that 95% of the informal, peer-group polling accepts Aspect. The subatomic world seems off-limits to the restraints of formal logic. So it goes, but again, i have no personal opinion other than what i'm obliged to say when in the presence of my best-bud- know-it-all. Fortunately, she's in Atlanta doing Phych, while i'm in the Hispanic parallel universe of Lit. Ole to that!

Andie

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My points were that the commutative principle is true, and the law of identity is valid. The false premise(s), thus, lie elsewhere.

Your acknowledgement that you do not consider yourself competent enough to judge Alain Aspect's 'cutting edge proof' for yourself speaks volumes. The fact that the rigorous guidelines for the application of logic takes effort only means that to do so, like mathematics, one has to learn how to apply them properly to arrive at the correct answers.

Shooting from the hip, so to speak, does not demonstrate an exercise of good gun control, unless you can consistently hit your targets.

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DR,

My quote button's not working...

My lack of judgmental competency refers to particle physics, not logic, thank you. Even the great Feynman wrote that QM isn't, logical; I'm happy to be in good company.

OTH, i would think that, given the now rather commonplace data, it would be incumbent on those who want to preserve both identity and commutativity to demonstrate how that might be done.

Again, i refer to the garden-variety solution of tossing out identity and saying that the each individual observation simply measures a discreet phenomena. That way A is not B is not C, et al...

Quanta simply contain the capacity to demonstrate fluxes in eigenstates--altogether consistent with the flux in the original quantum vacuum that created the universe. After all, 'something from nothing' sounds fairly outside the law of identity, yes?

Andie

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Let me remind you that the law of identity and the commutativity are not on trial here.

It is up to those who desire to posit QM's veracity to demonstrate its compliance with these incontrovertible truths in this court. 0/0 is undefined, not 1 here.

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Let me remind you that the law of identity and the commutativity are not on trial here.

It is up to those who desire to posit QM's veracity to demonstrate its compliance with these incontrovertible truths in this court. 0/0 is undefined, not 1 here.

The commutative law is not on trial because that's how addition and multiplication are done.

Identity isn't either  IFF you accept the interpretation  that photons exhibit one of many states when measured (Feynman).

Nevertheless, my view of philosophy is a questioning of all truths said to be 'inconvertable'. Otherwise, you're simply deducting from a belief system.

QM's veracity has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of 95% of the Physics community. For Objectivism, that's either important or not.

In this respect, i'm just an interested party trying to define Objectivism by virtue of the genre of questions that I'm used to hearing.

So if Objectivism rejects QM that's fine. And since I don't intend to offend the beliefs of others, i'll quit posting to this thread.

AH

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The validity of the law of identity as the commutative law are such that they have to be validated by the individuals who find them important enough to do so for themselves. The axis of multiplicity provides the evidence that epistemologically justifies addition and multiplication. The law of identity is grasped by recognizing the role it plays in epistemological justification.

There is no doubt that if the methods prescribed for identifying the state of a photon exhibits multiple results arise from following what 95% of the physics community consent to. If you don't intend to offend their beliefs, that's fine.

For that matter, Objectivism isn't defined by the genre of questions that you are used to hearing .Until you iron out the wrinkles in what constitutes incontrovertible in your mind - all conclusions are going to appear as merely the 'beliefs of others'.

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The validity of the law of identity as the commutative law are such that they have to be validated by the individuals who find them important enough to do so for themselves. The axis of multiplicity provides the evidence that epistemologically justifies addition and multiplication. The law of identity is grasped by recognizing the role it plays in epistemological justification.

There is no doubt that if the methods prescribed for identifying the state of a photon exhibits multiple results arise from following what 95% of the physics community consent to. If you don't intend to offend their beliefs, that's fine.

For that matter, Objectivism isn't defined by the genre of questions that you are used to hearing .Until you iron out the wrinkles in what constitutes incontrovertible in your mind - all conclusions are going to appear as merely the 'beliefs of others'.

DW,

I had intended to gracefully remove myself from this conversation because i'm really not interested in butting heads. Yet your last post raises some interesting questions to which i'd like to respond:

* If a statement is valid, then it does not require an individual to see its 'importance'.

** IMO, The Commutative Law is not an epistemology because it doesn't justify the truth of doing addition or multiplication. Rather, it's a retrospective generality  as to what, in general, is done every time.

*** Identity is the first principle of logic. It says nothing of justifying truth-content, which is what epistemology does.

****Multiple methods yielding multiple results is another topic. I was referring to the sequence of photons within one experimental site.

***** Yes, 'academic' philosophy is all about questioning fundamentals, rather than asserting them.

****** Thinking people have 'personal doubt' that has nothing to do with the beliefs of others.

Lastly, a personal opinion: Science appears to work on 'second principles' of prioritizing what is observed over what can be asserted as 'first-principle' truths. For more on his, perhaps you might want to Google up P Maddy's article, "Second principle".

Hence the conflict between O-ism and QM...

AH

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* To determine if the law of identity is incontrovertible, it needs to be important enough to you to understand the difference between it a simply a belief.

** The Commutative Law is not epistemology. understanding why it is true employs epistemological tools.

*** Understanding the roll of identity as a first principle of logic enables you to use it as an epistemological too.

**** QM is not really my forte.

***** Questioning fundamentals is ok. It can assist one in discovering what is assert-able.

****** Thinking people can have plenty of personal doubts about many things. It is how they deal with those doubts that can make a difference.

Couching: "Nevertheless, my view of philosophy is a questioning of all truths said to be 'inconvertable' [sic]. Otherwise, you're simply deducting from a belief system." in response to:

"Let me remind you that the law of identity and the commutativity are not on trial here.

It is up to those who desire to posit QM's veracity to demonstrate its compliance with these incontrovertible truths in this court." just tells me you haven't discovered this for yourself.

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