Re: [pcp-discuss:] Re: Fwd: Comments on _One Half Of A Manifesto_by Jaron Lanier

From: Don Mikulecky (mikuleck@HSC.VCU.EDU)
Date: Mon Nov 20 2000 - 20:45:53 GMT

  • Next message: Norman K. McPhail: "Re: [pcp-discuss:] Re: Fwd: Comments on _One Half Of A Manifesto_by Jaron Lanier"

    You have much of it right, but the prognosis is pretty much off. Once we realize
    that all our models of reality have been simple *because* of the superposition of
    *one* formal system, that which is the study of simple mechanisms, over the natural
    system in the modeling relation, we are set free. We now place all we have learned
    from doing that back into perspective and open the doors for all kinds of things
    that no longer are to be screened out by that methodological censorship. I don't
    think most folks with any sense of awe for the real world are threatened by an
    admission that we can only get at it one way at a time. The impediments come from
    those seeking "unifying" theories and who belive that if one approach is "right" it
    means all others are wrong.

    You are right about the nested circularity of using the modeling relation to
    capture itself. That's a start. When we see our new approaches tackling
    self-reference head on we can know we have broken free from old restrictions and
    are beginning to see *more* of what reality is all about.

    "Norman K. McPhail" wrote:

    > Don:
    > You know I've always thought and said that the use of the notion and
    > word "complex" with respect to the relationship between models and
    > reality was arbitrary and generally off base. In more precise terms,
    > here is why:
    > First of all, most people use the word complex to mean the opposite of
    > simple. And most assume there is little or no room for any middle
    > ground between the simple and the complex. This, in my book, is a
    > classic example of the use of "or" logic or what you might call a formal
    > model.
    > Correct me if I'm wrong, but your model of the modeling relation is, a
    > formal model. To me, this is the same as the Cretan who said that all
    > Cretans are liars. Because he is a Cretan, there is no way to tell
    > whether he is telling the truth or lying. So there is no way to
    > decipher this self referencing statement about statements. Whenever you
    > get this kind of circular reasoning, it is called an error or confusion
    > of logical types.
    > In other words, this seems to be a formal statement that is assumed to
    > be either true or false about whether all formal statements, or all
    > statements for that matter are true or false. One major problem with
    > this line of reasoning is that there is an excluded middle in the
    > statement about statements that says all statements with an excluded
    > middle are false.
    > In this proposition, we must take it as a given truth that all simple
    > models are false. But if they are false, then this model about simple
    > statements may also be false. As a result, there is no way to make sense
    > of this simple model that says that, in effect, all models are simple
    > and all simple models are false, including this one.
    > So to my way of thinking, this notion that all simple models are false
    > is a classic confusion of logical typing. It is also an "or" logic
    > statement about statements that is patently confusing on its face.
    > The only justification for using such a ruse is that to anyone that
    > thinks it through, it tends to confirm Godel's notion that there is no
    > way to get the uncertainty out of our models. And I think we agree that
    > all our models have limits and uncertainties that we should always keep
    > in mind.
    > However, I don't think this should be taken to mean that all our models
    > are, of necessity, simple approximations of marginal or no value.
    > Further, there is nothing in anything you have said that convinces me
    > that we humans are incapable of modeling both the physical and non
    > physical aspects of our being. And just because our models are less
    > than perfect, we should no abandon our efforts to understand beyond what
    > we perceive to be the limits of our understanding.
    > Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but I interpret the dichotomy you
    > advocate to mean that all human models are simple and therefore none of
    > our models can ever hope to come close to improving any aspect of our
    > human understanding. I guess the implications of this latter point are
    > the ones that bothers me most. The apparent absoluteness of your
    > proposition could easily lead to a fatalistic and hopeless attitude that
    > could, in turn, lead us to give up trying to learn more about our
    > selves, each other and the universe we are a part of. If there is one
    > thing of which I am certain in all this, it is that such a fatalistic
    > attitude is not what you intend to foster.
    > Norm
    > "Donald C. Mikulecky" wrote:
    > >
    > > Let me try it another way. There is a true dichotomy here. "Complex is the
    > > *real* world. The *only* "simple" things arise in our models of that world..
    > > Don
    > >
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