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Existence and Similarity

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MisterSwig
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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Then what is perceivable about it?

If you're saying that space is imperceivable, then how did you come up with your concept of it? In order to see an object in space, you must be able to see the space in which the object exists and moves. There is nothing to space except its existence. Existence exists, and space is existence without material composition. It is simply where matter exists and moves around.

The space you see an object occupying is space. The empty space you see between objects is space. Yes, we only see regions of space, never the whole thing, because we can't get outside of space and observe it like we observe an object in space. Space is not an object and there is no "outside" of space.

Think of it like people trying to conceive of the earth before science and pictures from outer space. They could only see regions of the earth, never the whole thing at once. They knew the earth existed because they lived on it and saw it with their own eyes. But many conceived of it being flat, because that's how the region appears to them. We're in a similar situation now with space. Many conceive of it being a relationship between objects, because that's how it appears to us in our small regions of it. Well, the regions of earth might be flattish, and the regions of space might appear as relationships, but earth itself is not flat and space itself is not a relationship. Space is a medium, except it's not a material one, it's the spatial medium in which material mediums exist and move.

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

...a medium itself occupies. Otherwise it isn't a medium, it would be nothing at all. 

Material mediums occupy space, but they are also occupied by the things that use the material medium. Fish use water, humans use air, etc. The spatial medium doesn't occupy space; it is space. But it is occupied by the things that use the spatial medium. Every material thing uses space to move around.

Edited by MisterSwig
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9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

If you're saying that space is imperceivable, then how did you come up with your concept of it?

The same way you get the concept of anything else that is an attribute or characteristic.

9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

There is nothing to space except its existence.

Existence is a characteristic in the way you are using it here. If there is nothing to space except it is a characteristic, then it is a characteristic unconnected to any entity.

9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

The space you see an object occupying is space.

Or I can just say what I see is the object. It doesn't have to be occupying anything. That's why space is usually treated as a mathematical object.

Just for the fun of it, a thought experiment basically, why couldn't I say something like the medium in which everything moves is composed of something like gravitational fields, or dark matter? I'm skeptical of there being a medium rather than interacting objects which consist of fields. But if a medium is possible, I would rather go sci-fi about it and at least propose something about the nature of this medium. If there is something like a dark matter immaterial medium, I still think it is misleading to call this space because of all the baggage it has.

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19 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Existence is a characteristic in the way you are using it here. If there is nothing to space except it is a characteristic, then it is a characteristic unconnected to any entity.

That depends on what you mean by "entity," a word which very much connotes a material thing. But I'm arguing that space is immaterial. It's not a physical entity.

Also, note that in the ITOE workshops Rand pointed out that "an entity is its attributes." (p. 266) If existence is the only characteristic of space, then that's what space is, because space is its attribute, and its attribute is space. Now, I think space has at least one other characteristic: being a medium. So it's not merely existence. I was trying to emphasize its immateriality by saying "there is nothing to space except its existence."

19 hours ago, Eiuol said:

why couldn't I say something like the medium in which everything moves is composed of something like gravitational fields, or dark matter?

My understanding is that gravitational fields move with the body that they surround. They exist in a region of space that is relative to a body traveling through space. Thus, this would raise the question: if gravitational fields are the medium in which everything moves, in what are they themselves moving as they travel with their associated bodies?

As for dark matter, I don't know enough to have a strong opinion on that. My understanding is that it's still a very speculative idea. If it's actually nonluminous particles, then I'd still want to know what is the space between these dark matter particles. Does dark matter move, and if so, in what is it moving?

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3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Now, I think space has at least one other characteristic: being a medium.

That's better, but I'm still trying to figure by your thinking what other characteristics this medium has. We might avoid calling it an entity even by my standards because we don't call the ocean an entity. But I contend that there must be some kind of entity that the medium is composed of (it doesn't have to be material in the standard sense, I mean that it is composed of something that is perceivable in some manner by some tool). You seem to say that the medium is a plenum in a way, because you say it is continuous and is coextensive with everything (i.e. it spreads the entirety of the universe and permeates through every object such that object and space literally cover the same location). Since you say that it is not a void, there must be some nature to this so-called space that has some definite characteristics itself besides simply "existing". I like to come up with fictional metaphysical ideas about these things, but in reality, I have little to go on with space as a medium. Except maybe general relativity and quantum physics, but I think we get into the territory that we aren't even talking about space anymore anyway.

3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

if gravitational fields are the medium in which everything moves, in what are they themselves moving as they travel with their associated bodies?

The first question is if gravitational fields are characteristics, or if they are metaphysically real manifestations of every object. In which case things move as an interaction with gravitational fields, and gravitational fields fill up every apparent gap in the universe. The second question is if there can be gravitational fields independent of a body. I don't think so. I don't think that's how they are conceived. Anyway, this is along the lines of my idea. That the space in between that we see has something there, but not a fluid or something like that. As far as I know in physics, there are many things that could work out as this thing in between that is neither entity nor medium. Rather, there is a feature about objects that is metaphysically real and cannot exist independently of objects. 

The challenge is if it is sufficient to say that only 2 objects are needed for movement, one pushing, one being pushed, like I'm suggesting with 2 gravitational fields from 2 different objects. You are saying that it is not, and we need some third substance or third type of thing going on. 

This deals with similar questions you are asking. Also the chapters 1 to 8, but 3 to 4 might be most relevant. http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/physics.4.iv.html

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11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I'm still trying to figure by your thinking what other characteristics this medium has.

Offline you asked about dimensions. I'm not sure if space should be considered a dimension. Currently I don't conceive of it as one. In my view space itself cannot be measured because it has no physical limits or boundaries. Isn't a "dimension" supposed to be measurable? A region or section of space can be measured in the standard dimensions, but if you try to measure "all" of space as a "whole," I don't know what that would mean. Since, logically, there can be no "outside" of space, it thus cannot have a physical limit or fixed volume. Space doesn't have a container. It's not a "whole," as we think of material wholes.

This raises the issue of metaphysical infinity. Rand addressed the notion in the ITOE workshops on page 148: "'Infinity' in the metaphysical sense [as opposed to the mathematical sense], as something existing in reality, is another invalid concept. The concept 'infinity,' in that sense, means something without identity, something not limited by anything, not definable."

I'm not a believer in metaphysical infinity, and I don't think it applies to my concept of space. I'm trying to define space as an immaterial existent that functions as a medium for all matter. It does not have physical identity or limits, because it's not material in nature. But it does have spatial identity and limits. It cannot be literal nonexistence and it cannot be material.

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You seem to say that the medium is a plenum in a way, because you say it is continuous and is coextensive with everything (i.e. it spreads the entirety of the universe and permeates through every object such that object and space literally cover the same location).

I have rejected the classical "plenum" idea because, logically, I don't see how space could be entirely filled with matter and still allow for movement, as discussed earlier in the thread. If you're suggesting an immaterial "plenum" only sparsely populated with material things, that's closer to what I mean. Though we'd have to analyze your phrase "the entirety of the universe," as it might imply that the plenum is a kind of "whole" or "object." (Sometimes, in moments of weakness, I refer to space as a "thing," but I do so only in the most unspecific sort of way, not intending to imply a whole or an object, but merely an existent.)

As far as object and space "covering the same location," that's close to what I mean, except that space doesn't literally cover a location; it's what's necessary for a location to exist, as locations are relative to material things which require space to move around and create distance between each other.

13 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Since you say that it is not a void...

I don't believe I said that in the way you mean, since a void would refer to the amount of things in space, not the amount of things composing it. For example, we can say that the vacuum of outer space is not a literal void because it still contains some particles. But those particles are not what constitutes space.

14 hours ago, Eiuol said:

This deals with similar questions you are asking. Also the chapters 1 to 8, but 3 to 4 might be most relevant. http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/physics.4.iv.html

Thanks. I'll read it and report back.

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On 11/1/2021 at 9:28 AM, MisterSwig said:

For example, we can say that the vacuum of outer space is not a literal void because it still contains some particles.

Suppose you removed the particles, or whatever is there that is material. How would you differentiate what is left with absolute nothingness? Presumably what is left after you remove the material things is space, and if you remove space, absolutely nothing would exist.

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Suppose you removed the particles, or whatever is there that is material. How would you differentiate what is left with absolute nothingness?

Space exists, and absolute nothingness doesn't exist. As long as there is still space remaining, then it's not nonexistence.

3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Presumably what is left after you remove the material things is space, and if you remove space, absolutely nothing would exist.

I don't think it's possible to remove space. Space must be immaterial precisely because if you could remove it, then you'd be left with the contradiction of the existence of nonexistence, and that defies logic.

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16 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

I don't think it's possible to remove space. Space must be immaterial precisely because if you could remove it, then you'd be left with the contradiction of the existence of nonexistence, and that defies logic.

Since in this case space and stuff always exist simultaneously, this is more reason to think that space is a characteristic. Because if you actually were only left with "space" there couldn't be anything actually there that exists, by your own admission. And you could not be left without space either, because then things would not have location. If entities are metaphysical primaries, then space must be derivative of those primaries. I don't see how space could have any independent existence, or at least why you suppose there are 2 metaphysical "types".

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Since in this case space and stuff always exist simultaneously

Again, there must be empty space, otherwise nothing could move. I accept the science that shows atoms to be 99.9% empty space, which helps explain why air is invisible.

10 hours ago, Eiuol said:

...if you actually were only left with "space" there couldn't be anything actually there that exists, by your own admission.

That's not what I said. If only space existed then there would be unoccupied space. 

10 hours ago, Eiuol said:

If entities are metaphysical primaries, then space must be derivative of those primaries.

An entity is primary in relation to its own parts and actions, not necessarily to a different existent. 

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14 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

I accept the science that shows atoms to be 99.9% empty space, which helps explain why air is invisible.

If that's the case, why isn't everything invisible?

My understanding of the science is that at a subatomic level wave-particle duality is important, and the electrons are waves which fill the atom.  However, there is empty space between the air molecules.  The way the air molecules keep bouncing off each other keeps the air from collapsing.  To really understand why some substances are transparent and others are not requires quantum mechanics, which I haven't studied.

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On 10/31/2021 at 4:09 PM, Eiuol said:

This deals with similar questions you are asking. Also the chapters 1 to 8, but 3 to 4 might be most relevant. http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/physics.4.iv.html

Regarding Parts 1 and 2, a few points. Aristotle is presenting the problem of "place," which he appears to be using as a synonym for space. It's amazing how much he figured out with so little science available, yet he was impeded by a pre-Galilean notion of the universe. Indeed, the first known heliocentric theory (by Aristarchus) wasn't presented until decades after his death, so Aristotle didn't even have that work to consider. I don't think the problem of place (or space) can be adequately solved until you at least accept that the earth revolves around the sun. You might even need to hold the belief that all material bodies in the universe, including the sun and all the other stars, are moving constantly.

Aristotle also lacked a sufficient understanding of gravity. Not having Newton's work, he was baffled by certain motions, such as fire going up while weighty objects went down. This caused him to believe that "place" influenced such motions.

He had the concept of "regions of space," but it was very basic, limited to a geocentric view of directions.

Still he grasped that "place is something distinct from bodies, and that every sensible body is in place." That's really the observable starting point, I think. Then it's a matter of figuring out why they are distinct.

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1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

If that's the case, why isn't everything invisible?

I think it's due to density. Liquids and solids are much denser than gases, so the spaces between the atoms and molecules are smaller, and thus more light gets reflected. Unless the gas is super thick, it doesn't reflect much light. Glass is interesting and proves that molecular structure is also important to reflection and the transparency of objects.

1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

the electrons are waves which fill the atom

That's not what I was taught. Electrons aren't the only particles in an atom, so they couldn't literally fill the atom. You have protons and neutrons as well. And there must be spaces between these particles within the atom.

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

That's not what I was taught. Electrons aren't the only particles in an atom, so they couldn't literally fill the atom. You have protons and neutrons as well. And there must be spaces between these particles within the atom.

Subatomic particles can share the same space as long as they have different quantum states.

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6 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

You might even need to hold the belief that all material bodies in the universe, including the sun and all the other stars, are moving constantly.

That is what he thought. Really only the earth remains still in the sense he didn't think that the earth could go any more towards the center of the universe. I don't think it's consequential to what he thinks place is. 

6 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

yet he was impeded by a pre-Galilean notion of the universe.

Somewhat, but Galileo made things mechanistic and reified math. 

6 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

This caused him to believe that "place" influenced such motions.

What do you mean? He didn't think that place influenced motions. It is not that place influenced the motions, but that he thought the elements moved in a particular way just as we think of how oil always float on water. 

But, the first chapters are different than the later ones, he is exploring the topic. I'm mostly presenting it for the questions, not his answers. 

Edited by Eiuol
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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:
8 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

This caused him to believe that "place" influenced such motions.

What do you mean?

I'm referring to this in the first part:

Quote

Further, the typical locomotions of the elementary natural bodies-namely, fire, earth, and the like-show not only that place is something, but also that it exerts a certain influence. Each is carried to its own place, if it is not hindered, the one up, the other down.

It seems like he's saying that place influences the motions of fire and earth. Wasn't this a typical Greek view, that things moved toward their natural places? It's been awhile since I read this stuff in college. 

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6 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Subatomic particles can share the same space as long as they have different quantum states.

I don't know why different quantum states would allow for this. Besides, aren't you talking about theoretical probabilities? It's not like a physicist has observed two particles occupying the same point, is it? If so, I'd very much like to read that paper.

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It seems like he's saying that place influences the motions of fire and earth.

It's not that the place does it, he just means that these things end up in a place that is proper to their nature. He says "certain influence" which sounds like a translator's effort to suggest "something like influence but not quite actually influence". We might say that place is a final cause of the movement of fire according to Aristotle, and final cause is never a thing in his eyes. It's abstract. It's not really relevant to this discussion, things still need to move in the same way, places still need to exist. He eventually defines place as simply the boundaries of any particular entity. 

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12 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I don't know why different quantum states would allow for this. Besides, aren't you talking about theoretical probabilities? It's not like a physicist has observed two particles occupying the same point, is it? If so, I'd very much like to read that paper.

Not having studied quantum mechanics, I'm not in a good position to answer this.  We need a physicist to help us out here.  But I was speaking of the wave properties of electrons and meant to say that two waves can occupy the same space, not that two particles can occupy the same point.

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46 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

But I was speaking of the wave properties of electrons and meant to say that two waves can occupy the same space

Two waves might encounter each other, but the material comprising the waves (the electrons) could still collide, thus disturbing the integrity of the wave. This is why radio stations broadcast at different frequencies, to avoid interference between the electromagnetic waves. So I don't think waves can literally occupy the same space. When they try to do this, they cause collisions, like two ocean waves crashing into each other.

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49 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Two waves might encounter each other, but the material comprising the waves (the electrons) could still collide, thus disturbing the integrity of the wave. This is why radio stations broadcast at different frequencies, to avoid interference between the electromagnetic waves. So I don't think waves can literally occupy the same space. When they try to do this, they cause collisions, like two ocean waves crashing into each other.

I don't think this reflects the reality of quantum mechanical waves, but again we need a physicist to help us out here.

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William and Doug,

Electromagnetic waves are not composed of electrons, but of photons. The former are fermions (which cannot be in the same state as another fermion, including particle location), whereas the latter are bosons (which can be in the same state with another boson, including particle location). E-M waves, including radio waves, are quantum waves. They can interfere which each other, as waves, and thereby degrade the ability of the carrier wave of radio broadcast to carry information. (Also, if I remember correctly, in cases of waves in matter, such as ripples on the surface of otherwise still water, interference of waves with each other [cancellation or other alteration of each other] is not essentially due to the impenetrability of molecules [fermions].)

Of related interest: Energy Wave Theory

Edited by Boydstun
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The space, or location, of a particle is one characteristic among the characteristics constituting the quantum state of a particle.

The wavefunction of a fermion, such as an electron, is anti-symmetric, and this coincides with the Pauli particle exclusion principle for fermions. The wavefunction for a boson, such as a photon, is symmetric, and this coincides with the photon being not subject to the Pauli exclusion principle for bosons.

Symmetric and Anti-Symmetric Wavefunctions Remember from high school mathematics that when he takes the square root of the absolute value of a quantity, there are two solutions, one positive, one negative.

I don't think it is sensible to think of the de Broglie waves associated with the momentum of a moving electron (or any other massive body) as something occupying locations, rather, as centered on the electron and giving the probabilities of the electron's various future occupation of locations given what else is in the region into which the electron is moving. I think of the wave of photons in like manner. That is, in light diffraction through a double slit, I recall an experiment mentioned in the QM text by Messiah in which, using the E-M photons that are X-rays, the receiving screen on the other side of the slitted screen we are shooting with photons will show impact of a photon here, then impact of a photon over yonder on the receiving screen, then on and on until enough photons have landed on that receiving screen that a pattern is seen in the places impacted, and that pattern is just the interference wave pattern we are familiar with in classical, pre-quantum optics.

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As every schoolchild gets to know, electric charge of a body is source of an electric field around the body, and this field extends to distances indefinitely far from its source. But far enough from the source, we can speak of space being effectively field-free. And we do not reasonably doubt that there is physical space that is free of matter and free of electric fields, though freeness from electric (and gravitational) fields can be only arbitrarily close to 100%. (By 'matter' we mean stuff having non-zero rest mass.)

Regardless of how devoid of the electric field a region of matter-free space might be, it possesses a definite universal value of electric permittivity and definite value of magnetic permeability, whose inverse square root of their product has the unit (dimension) VELOCITY, and the value of that velocity, the value of that ratio, is the value of the velocity of light in vacuum.

Nothing in the preceding required our reaching knowledge of quantum physics. Rather, the preceding is only classical electrostatics and electrodynamics as of the end of the nineteenth century.

When we hear today that most of the space in an atom is empty, I gather that what is meant is that most of that space is devoid of matter (not devoid of fields). I should say that proposition is false, and that the picture of what is in the atom, by the lights of modern physics, is here.

I should say that none of the preceding knowledge as knowledge was attained by philosophers as philosophers (rather than as geometers or as modern physicists) from ancient Greece to now. That their philosophic cogitations in this vicinity sometimes reached a conclusion we now know to be true or roughly true is accidental coincidence, not knowledge and not something for which they deserve a ribbon. The prize belongs to Newton’s scientific methods and the enrichment of scientific methods since then.

Edited by Boydstun
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