Re: Abstractism

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Mon Jan 28 2002 - 10:17:17 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Abstractism
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    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Fri, Jan 25, 2002 at 11:24:02AM -0800, Dace wrote:
    > > 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:
    > >
    > Robin,
    > 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.

    What is potential constrains actuality. If we don't know about
    potentiality, we have no way to distinguish between what's possible and
    what's not. If potentiality is not objectively real, then there is no
    difference between what's possible and what's not. Science is as concerned
    with discovering what's potential, as what's actual.

    > 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.

    That's what physical information is. See below.

    > "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.

    This topic has been done to death on this list. IF you're sufficiently
    interested, join the philosophy of information list and we'll discuss it

    "The distinction between mind and matter is in the mind, not in matter."
    Robin Faichney -- inside information --

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