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The ontological status of universals
Posted: 21 December 2011 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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W4U,

The type of Realism that I’m asking about is distinct from scientific realism or the broad sense in which we posit the existence of things independent of minds. I could be classified as a scientific realist. The metaphysical realism, most famously argued by Plato is one in which universals/abstract objects exist in some other realm. Some might argue that the “realm” in which platonic forms exist is the only real one. In any case, they’re not thought to be of the same world as the instantiations, so to speak.

Contrast that with something like scientific realism where science isn’t claiming the stuff we can’t see directly is of some other world, but that it’s all part of the same world, whether directly observable or not. I find nothing immediately wrong with this view.

I have only used the word potential as defined by major dictionaries as quoted in post #8

I believe what has been overlooked heretofore is the fact that potential indisputably preceeds every event in the universe, physical or metaphysical. Without the “presence” of potential no event can occur. It is the common denominator of everything.
...
Metaphysical Potential: 1) a latent universal constant which may become reality when called upon, i.e. mathematical function.

These are the claims I was talking about. This view goes beyond the simple dictionary definition in that you seem to be suggesting some extra power involved with the way in which something must be able to come into existence. Let me clarify. If you’re simply defining that in order for something to exist, it must have the potential to exist, then it entails a simple tautology, which I find no problem with. However, it’s not very interesting. That’s akin to saying that for something to happen, it must be possible. Okay, but not very profound and I don’t see why there’s such a strong focus on “potential” for you. It doesn’t appear to add anything substantial to our grasp of things like the concepts are used in physics.

If you’re saying there’s more to “metaphysical potential” than simple possibility; that it’s some kind of force or some extra property of the universe, then this is something I think must be argued for and not simply asserted. The examples used to validate your conception of potential in metaphysics seem to be a type of confirmation bias because you seem to only be relying on a tautological definition and saying things validate it after the fact with any added predictive capabilities.

[ Edited: 21 December 2011 10:15 AM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 22 December 2011 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Kaizen
If you’re saying there’s more to “metaphysical potential” than simple possibility; that it’s some kind of force or some extra property of the universe, then this is something I think must be argued for and not simply asserted. The examples used to validate your conception of potential in metaphysics seem to be a type of confirmation bias because you seem to only be relying on a tautological definition and saying things validate it after the fact with any added predictive capabilities.

I was proposing that Potential is in fact an inherent fundamental metaphysical cosmological latency. It is derived from, and the sum of the universal cosmological constants as we know them to govern every action or condition in the universe…......and was a latent excellence even before the beginning of this or any other universe!

IMO the beauty of this concept lies in its mundane simplicity. It is fundamental to everything physical, virtual, and metaphysical. It is an inescapable fact and that is why we pay so little attention to it. It’s a “given” in the physical world (we use the term everywhere).
But philosophically it offers a much larger implication.
Our search for a natural metaphysical condition which transcends but is causal to reality itself must start with the question if there is a common denominator to everything, independent of time or space as we know it and even to any action or condition which is beyond our event horizon.
The only description we have of such a condition is contained in the word Potential.  As David Bohm posited, it is the “implicate of that which is expressed in the explicate”. He postulates that the implicate (latency) is “pure potential” which by means of its mathematical and other constant characteristics becomes explicate (instantiated) in the course of events, which includes the beginning of the cosmos.
In its implied (unformed) state, Potential has the potential to express itself in infinite ways and complexity, except as restricted by its fundamental mathematical function.

Perhaps an example of implicit potential is the concept of Causal Dynamic Triangulation (CDT).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_dynamical_triangulation

Causal dynamical triangulation (abbreviated as CDT) invented by Renate Loll, Jan Ambjørn and Jerzy Jurkiewicz, and popularized by Fotini Markopoulou and Lee Smolin, is an approach to quantum gravity that like loop quantum gravity is background independent. This means that it does not assume any pre-existing arena (dimensional space), but rather attempts to show how the spacetime fabric itself evolves

[ Edited: 23 December 2011 03:55 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 23 December 2011 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Write4U - 22 December 2011 04:11 PM

In its implied (unformed) state, Potential has the potential to express itself in infinite ways and complexity, except as restricted by its fundamental mathematical function.

That is vagueness. From this article HERE

A state of unformed and immaterial potential. A kind of plastic fog out of which more substantial shapes swim into concrete existence. It would be a state which is both an everything and a nothing. But in a vague way.

Specifically, ontic vagueness:

Ontic vagueness by contrast says the physical world itself can be in some ill-determined or undecided state.

Quantum vagueness:

Quantum states are states of undetermined potential that need to be collapsed by an “act of observation”. A particle exists as a wavefunction – a band of possibilities.

Vagueness and quantum potential:

A number of theorists have started to use the term vagueness to describe a state of quantum potential.

So, the “heart of reality” is vagueness.

You wrote:

Perhaps an example of implicit potential is the concept of Causal Dynamic Triangulation (CDT).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_dynamical_triangulation

Causal dynamical triangulation (abbreviated as CDT) invented by Renate Loll, Jan Ambjørn and Jerzy Jurkiewicz, and popularized by Fotini Markopoulou and Lee Smolin, is an approach to quantum gravity that like loop quantum gravity is background independent. This means that it does not assume any pre-existing arena (dimensional space), but rather attempts to show how the spacetime fabric itself evolves

CDT suggests that spacetime is fractal near the micro Planck scale. From the same wiki you cited:

At large scales, it re-creates the familiar 4-dimensional spacetime, but it shows spacetime to be 2-d near the Planck scale, and reveals a fractal structure on slices of constant time.

The universe itself could also be fractal. From the wiki on fractal cosmology

In July 2008, Scientific American featured an article on Causal dynamical triangulation,[18] written by the three scientists who propounded the theory, which again suggests that the universe may have the characteristics of a fractal.

Here is a video of Renate Loll talking on the Quantum Origins of Space and Time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv2gBjQ8xIo

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Posted: 23 December 2011 11:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Thanks kkwan for those links.

The link on “Vagueness” seems to confirm my intuitive philosophical understanding (if not in strict terminology), even as I am wholly unqualified to speak on the subject with any authority… cheese

With some visual editing Renate Loll’s presentation on CDT would make an excellent presentation on NOVA. The camera man obviously was not a pro.
Renate’s narrative was spectacular in clarity and continuity, and entertaining to boot. An hour well spent… excaim

[ Edited: 24 December 2011 12:10 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 December 2011 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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W4U, You may be right.  Everything that is, is, because it happens to be the most probable “potential” at the moment/place.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 28 December 2011 02:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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TimB - 27 December 2011 07:35 PM

W4U, You may be right.  Everything that is, is, because it happens to be the most probable “potential” at the moment/place.

So improbable things don’t happen?

Stephen

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Posted: 28 December 2011 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 December 2011 02:22 AM
TimB - 27 December 2011 07:35 PM

W4U, You may be right.  Everything that is, is, because it happens to be the most probable “potential” at the moment/place.

So improbable things don’t happen?

Stephen

IMO, not without a modifying condition (potential) which increases the probability of an event. Causality must meet certain conditions to produce a result. One of these conditions is mathematical consistency.
perhaps an example:  Although H2O is the constituent molecule of water there must be sufficient H2O molecules present (a condition) to produce the liquidity of water. Even then if the temperature is below 32 F (a modifying condition) the result will not be liquid water, but ice. If then we introduce a second modifying agent, heat (energetic potential), raising the temperature to above 32 F (a condition) and causing the ice to melt, the result will be liquid water. Thus the probability for an event to happen in a specific way depends on the confluence of conditions and/or modifiers, which raise or diminish the probability factor.
Is that not the very foundation of science, predictability based on probability? I grant that in the case of the dual slit experiment, the result cannot be precise, but we can still predict the result of the probability wave with some statistical accuracy.

But perhaps I am misinterpreting the question. Can you cite an example?

[ Edited: 28 December 2011 03:36 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 28 December 2011 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Write4U - 28 December 2011 03:32 AM

But perhaps I am misinterpreting the question. Can you cite an example?

I’ll start by saying I ask because I’m baffled by probability not because I have an idea of my own and think you are wrong.

What is the probability of throwing 6 sixes in a row?

a very low probability, right?

But you’re saying that in cases in which it happens the probability is raised.

So what does that mean? Really, it’s not a low probability occurence?

Or does probability mean more than one thing?

If it means more than one thing can you tell me the different meanings?

Stephen

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Posted: 28 December 2011 02:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 December 2011 04:58 AM
Write4U - 28 December 2011 03:32 AM

But perhaps I am misinterpreting the question. Can you cite an example?

I’ll start by saying I ask because I’m baffled by probability not because I have an idea of my own and think you are wrong.

What is the probability of throwing 6 sixes in a row?

a very low probability, right?

But you’re saying that in cases in which it happens the probability is raised.

So what does that mean? Really, it’s not a low probability occurence?

Or does probability mean more than one thing?

If it means more than one thing can you tell me the different meanings?

Stephen

ok I’ll roll the dice… smile

In any random throw of a single die the probability of a six is 1 : 6 . As these are random throws, each throw is an independent event and the odds for each throw is 1 : 6.  However, if we do not throw a six for an extended sequence, by the law of averages, while the odds remain at 1: 6, the statistical probability of rolling a six on the next roll goes up slightly. Increasing the odds by the law of averages is the fundamental principle of gambling. To roll 6 x 6 is not impossible but remains unlikely.
From Answers: The chance that one dice falls on 6 is 1 out of 6. The probability that dice falls twice in a row is 1 out of 6 and 1 out of 6, that is (1/6)(1/6)=(1/6)^2=1/36. Hence the probability of six sixes in a row is (1/6)^6=1 out of 46,656.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/A_dice_is_rolled_six_times_in_succession_what_is_the_probability_of_rolling_six_sixes

However if I control the roll of the dice with a machine which can control the original throwing configuration and the force of the throw, I might well be able to create a condition which produces a hundred sixes in a row. I will have introduced a modifying potential (mathematical function) which alters the probability factor.

[ Edited: 28 December 2011 04:13 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 28 December 2011 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 December 2011 02:22 AM
TimB - 27 December 2011 07:35 PM

W4U, You may be right.  Everything that is, is, because it happens to be the most probable “potential” at the moment/place.

So improbable things don’t happen?

Stephen

The most seeming improbable things can potentially happen at any given time. But that fact figures in to the probabilities.

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Posted: 28 December 2011 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Write4U - 28 December 2011 02:27 PM

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/A_dice_is_rolled_six_times_in_succession_what_is_the_probability_of_rolling_six_sixes

However if I control the roll of the dice with a machine which can control the original throwing configuration and the force of the throw, I might well be able to create a condition which produces a hundred sixes in a row. I will have introduced a modifying potential (mathematical function) which alters the probability factor.

It only alters the probability for you and those who know about the machine.

For everybody else the probability is 1 in 46,656. (for 6 sixes)

The probability changes with knowledge.

Raising and decreasing probabilities seems to be knowledge dependent.

But when you say the reason why things happen is their raised probabilities, that can’t be knowledge dependent because it needs to be true even with no observers with knowledge.

Stephen

[ Edited: 29 December 2011 12:07 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 29 December 2011 12:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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And what if you have no idea if some process or event is random? It means that you do not know if the concept ‘probability’ applies.

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Posted: 29 December 2011 12:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Could not “random” be another word for “improbable”?  And could not “improbable” be an outlier in the bell curve of probability?

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Posted: 29 December 2011 12:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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TimB - 29 December 2011 12:47 AM

Could not “random” be another word for “improbable”?  And could not “improbable” be an outlier in the bell curve of probability?

No. If I toss a coin it is random head or tails. The probability of each one is 0.5.

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Posted: 29 December 2011 12:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Kaizen - 19 December 2011 10:09 PM
kkwan - 19 December 2011 09:52 AM
Kaizen - 18 December 2011 03:05 PM

I know this area of philosophical investigation is a mess, but I was curious about other people’s thoughts. What is the universal without any physical corresponding instantiation?

The problem of universals is firstly metaphysical….......what they are and whether they do exist (i.e. their ontological status). Whether they are knowable (if they do exist) is epistemological.

As Doug mentioned, I don’t think this particular quote is confusing epistemology and ontology.

From the wiki on the problem of universals

The problem of universals is an ancient problem in metaphysics about whether universals exist. Universals are general or abstract qualities, characteristics, properties, kinds or relations, such as being male/female, solid/liquid/gas or a certain colour, that can be predicated of individuals or particulars or that individuals or particulars can be regarded as sharing or participating in.

The three main positions:

1. Realism

The realist school claims that universals are real — they exist and are distinct from the particulars that instantiate them.

2. Nominalism

Nominalists assert that only individuals or particulars exist and deny that universals are real (i.e. that they exist as entities or beings).

3. Idealism

This position argues that the nature of reality is based only in our minds or ideas. The external world is inseparable from the mind, consciousness or perceptions. Universals are real and exist independently of that on which they might be predicated.

For instance, in the case of numbers:

1. They are real and they do exist

2. They don’t, only particulars of numbers exist.

3. They do exist independently, but reality is only in our minds.

Problem of 1. If numbers are real and they do exist, where is the realm wherein they do exist?

Problem of 2. If numbers don’t exist, then in what sense can one do any arithmetic at all?

Problem of 3. If reality is only in our minds, does it not imply no knowledge of numbers as universals existing independently is possible?

The middle ground. From the wiki on conceptualism

Conceptualism is a philosophical theory that explains universality of particulars as conceptualized frameworks situated within the thinking mind. Intermediate between Nominalism and Realism, the conceptualist view approaches the metaphysical concept of universals from a perspective that denies their presence in particulars outside of the mind’s perception of them.

Whether one is a realist, nominalist , idealist or conceptualist depends on one’s philosophy of reality.

While admittedly, my grasp of the arguments about metaphysical objects is probably lacking, I believe I’m familiar enough with these positions. I don’t see how they’re relevant to my post, however. Maybe you could elaborate on why you bring these quotes up. Thanks for your contribution in any case.

Kaizen, I thought that Kkwan nailed the answer, here, to your original post, but you thought it was not relevant?

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