Re: Abstractism

From: Dace (
Date: Fri Jan 25 2002 - 19:24:02 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Abstractism
    Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 11:24:02 -0800
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    > On Wed, Jan 23, 2002 at 05:51:40PM -0800, Dace wrote:
    > >
    > > To be real a thing must exist whether or not we believe in it. An
    > > abstraction, by definition, is a product of consciousness. It cannot
    > > exist unless we imagine it-- precisely the opposite of the ontological
    > > criterion.
    > That's wrong. Objective abstractions are explained here:


    I've chosen a couple of quotes from the text to respond to:

    "Any thing can be studied-whether by the naked eye, or using a microscope or
    a telescope or some other device-but an object's intrinsic, physical
    information includes not only what it looks like. Logically, every other
    aspect of it, from its behaviour in a vacuum or in the deepest ocean trench,
    to its electrical resistance-anything that could in principle be determined
    by any kind of experiment-can be considered part of the information that
    belongs to this thing."

    You seem to be suggesting that the information of a thing is whatever could
    potentially be extracted from that thing. Yet potentiality is precisely the
    opposite of actuality. That which is potential cannot be said to have any
    objective existence. But let's say all the potential information in an
    object has been extracted through experiments. You're still faced with the
    problem that the physical characteristics of the object become information
    only in the mind of the experimenter. Take away the experimenter, and the
    information is nothing more than the physical characteristics themselves.

    "Think of a molecule-it is basically just a number of atoms arranged in a
    particular configuration. What distinguishes that molecule from the same
    atoms arranged in some other way, is the configuration-the pattern in which
    they come together. If there is some truth in saying that an entity is
    nothing but its components (ignoring the organisational pattern), there is
    just as much in saying that it is nothing but the pattern..."

    Agreed, an object is both its material constituents and their configuration.
    But I can't for the life of me see any information in there. Information
    has to be *about* something. Information that's only about itself is
    nothing more than simple physical existence. No need to invoke the concept
    of information here.


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