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Existence and Similarity

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MisterSwig
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On 11/5/2021 at 6:04 AM, Boydstun said:

Electromagnetic waves are not composed of electrons, but of photons.

Thank you, Stephen. That clears up a confusion I had. I need to study and think about this more before responding.

16 hours ago, Boydstun said:

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

I make a distinction now between space and location. So the space itself wouldn't be a characteristic of a particle, as the particle is always traveling through different space, never remaining in the same space. But the particle's location is relative to other objects and thus can remain a constant characteristic qua relationship to these objects by which location is measured.

1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

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.

My picture of the atom is of a nucleus carrying most of the mass, and electrons rapidly zipping around the nucleus. So most of the empty space is between the nucleus and the orbits of the electrons. I've read that the electrons form a "cloud" around the nucleus, thus the space isn't mostly empty. But if this idea is based on observation, couldn't it be an optical illusion? Consider how rapidly spinning propellers on a plane appear as blurs, when in reality the propellers are not blurs. The electrons could be moving around so quickly that they merely appear as a cloud that fills the space.

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The picture of the atom as having most of its mass in the nucleus is correct, to be sure. The talk of the electrons being a cloud (even when there is only one electron in the atom or cation) is a metaphor (probably the best metaphor) for the careful, actual modern account given in the link of the post just before yours just now. The finest-resolution imaging of atoms today are images constructed by machine processing of data output from our interactions with atoms through instrumentation. Those resulting constructed images do indeed show atoms with their electrons as clouds, but we do not interpret the image as our simply perceiving tiny clouds, but as a result consistent with our actual modern account which has itself been forged (thanks to mathematical characterization in physics) from instrument-yielding content for observational experience. There is no direct or nearly direct sensory perceptions of electrons in an atom and no sensory illusions therewith for us to take up.

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17 hours ago, Boydstun said:

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.

Please clarify what "centered on the electron" means.

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2 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Please clarify what "centered on the electron" means.

Good question. I'm not sure now if that is a right expression. I'll just leave the issue for further possible pursuit in the future, and leave this nice link from UC Davis for a start.

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No more physics talk from me for now. I've got to get back to finishing my Dewey/Rand project (12). On completion of that (say, end of this year), I'll be ready to get back to the EW II writing project, which is to give my philosophy of logic, of mathematics, and of science in the general frame from EW I -and in the course of writing EW II, maybe I can come back to this.

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On 11/3/2021 at 8:42 PM, Eiuol said:

He eventually defines place as simply the boundaries of any particular entity. 

That's not my understanding. Aristotle makes a distinction between two boundaries: form and place. Form is the boundary of a thing. Place is the motionless boundary of the body which contains that thing. Place is neither the form nor the matter of the movable thing it contains, because the contained thing can separate from the containing place.

While Aristotle observed that place is not the thing which is in place, he unfortunately conceived of place as a container, or a form-like boundary. Seemingly a vestige of Plato's influence, Aristotle upheld a form-matter dichotomy. But instead of relegating forms to another world, he attempted to place them in this one.

Aristotle asks great questions, such as what it means for one thing to be "in" another thing, but he did not have Rand whispering in his ear, "Check your premise!"

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Aristotle makes a distinction between two boundaries: form and place. Form is the boundary of a thing. Place is the motionless boundary of the body which contains that thing. Place is neither the form nor the matter of the movable thing it contains, because the contained thing can separate from the containing place.

I don't know what you're talking about. Form is not a boundary, unless you mean the shape of something. The boundary he explicitly says is place. Yes he begins with what you're saying, but that's not what he ends up with. 

But perhaps that's the way I'm reading it. There is some ambiguity. He does say it is like a container that can't move. But it doesn't have independent existence, it isn't a special category, it isn't the attribute of something singular, it is just the innermost motionless boundary of what contains. But this kind of boundary is always within something else, it doesn't just spread out. So it is a boundary of something, even if it is not literally equal to that boundary and it is mostly relational.

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Seemingly a vestige of Plato's influence, Aristotle upheld a form-matter dichotomy.

There is nothing wrong about the form and matter distinction, although Rand got wrong what Aristotle meant. Form is the abstract description of what makes a thing what it is, quite similar to the essential of a concept, but it also describes for the sake of which something acts and its pattern of action. Matter is what something is in physical terms but of course something can't exist without having some pattern of action and sake for which it acts. That's why matter according to Aristotle is only a potential. Importantly, neither form nor matter is even close to platonic because he never tries to make form into something concrete or something that can exist independently and act.

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Aristotle asks great questions, such as what it means for one thing to be "in" another thing, but he did not have Rand whispering in his ear, "Check your premise!"

He usually spends the most time checking premises.

Anyway, I should have said the most important parts for this conversation are those about the void, chapters 6 and 7 and 8 that I mentioned.

Edited by Eiuol
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On 11/9/2021 at 2:20 PM, Eiuol said:

There is nothing wrong about the form and matter distinction, although Rand got wrong what Aristotle meant. Form is the abstract description of what makes a thing what it is, quite similar to the essential of a concept, but it also describes for the sake of which something acts and its pattern of action.

I don't know what Rand got wrong about Aristotle. To him "form" wasn't the description of a thing's essence, it was the thing's actual essence. He considered a thing to be a composition of its form and its matter. Matter was potential, but form was actual. His whole system resulted in the belief that there was a pure form which was the Prime Mover.

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

To him "form" wasn't the description of a thing's essence, it was the thing's actual essence.

It's not just a description, true, but form is abstract and many times he says it is what makes a thing what it is in the way that a knife is a knife by having such a pattern of action or identity as to go towards cutting, an identity which the entity acts out. But the form is nothing metaphysically real except in the sense that having an identity is real. Form is actualization, not itself actual. Matter is potential because the things that a knife is made out of, the steel, the atoms, the handle, none of these things actually have a nature unless and until it has a pattern of action or an identity, so conceptually speaking, you can distinguish form from matter. But they are absolutely inseparable. 

1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

His whole system resulted in the belief that there was a pure form which was the Prime Mover.

It's more about his belief in the shape of the universe and how things move, he just applied his theory about form and matter to it as well. But I didn't get to reading Metaphysics yet. But we can section this off to another thread to talk about another time.

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On 11/6/2021 at 7:58 AM, Boydstun said:

There is no direct or nearly direct sensory perceptions of electrons in an atom and no sensory illusions therewith for us to take up.

But we do see atoms, and the atoms are composed of electrons that are exterior to the nucleus, so that when we look at an atom, we are seeing the electrons in the form that we can see them. Correct?

For example, here is Nadlinger's picture of an illuminated strontium atom. And below is a video of gold atoms being bombarded with an electron beam.

 

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

so that when we look at an atom, we are seeing the electrons in the form that we can see them. Correct?

Not the electrons, no. Not any more than I see your skin cells by looking at you.

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William, I'd say we are visually seeing an output display which we rightly interpret intellectually as electrons in an array of atoms. The intellectual integration is major in the interpretation of what is behind the output display. "Seeing" and "perceiving" have a broad sense (as remarked by Aristotle in De Anima), but in the narrow and more basic sense of visual seeing, or sensory perception, I'd say strictly speaking we are not seeing the electrons, however economical it is for speech in the right context to simply contract into saying, less precisely, we are seeing electrons bound to atoms in the display.

Edited by Boydstun
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