Sunday, July 28, 2013

O Humanist! O Naturalist!

O Humanist! O Naturalist!

You trickster!  You say you have accomplished it/ have you?

You have succeeded at unmanning man without the need for a physical operation.

You have taken away his spirit. . .

You offer a spiritual circumcision/ not a physical one. . . as if this present era were the first time that had been tried. . .

And to whom do you offer this sacrifice?  Before the image of what?  For are you not the denier of images? After all/ if the image actually stands for something/ we can't very well say it is merely an appearance. . .

Is your offering a real sacrifice/ or is yours only an empty gesture?  But how could you of all people make a distinction here?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The King

In ancient times/ to have order/ you had to have a King.

The King brings order to the unruly kingdom.

But what is a king?  Its merely a role in a system of meaning.  There is nothing about the physical properties of a person that necessarily makes them fit to be king.  There have been tall kings and small kings and fat kings and skinny kings.  To be king/ you just have to be coronated by the right crowd.

The world still has a King.  He is called the second.

He is defined as follows:

the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.

The King is an arbitrary physical process.  But there is something special about the King: the subjects of the realm are forbidden from measuring how long this physical process takes.  We can measure every other physical process in the world/ but not our King.  Further/ if we want to measure any other physical process in the world/ we have to use the King (or one of his governors) to measure it.

With respect to all the other physical processes in the world/ we can construct testable hypotheses and theories relating to those physical systems.  We can't construct a testable hypothesis about our King.  He exists by definition: he is exactly one second.  He cannot be measured.  He exists outside the scientific description of nature.  But without our King/ there would be no kingdom/ no order in the world.

The King is the physical picture of Time.  He is an Icon.  The Word made Flesh.

Without the King/ we could not measure the temporal extension of physical processes.  Without the King/ we couldn't translate between a physical world and our mathematical symbolism.  Through him/ all empirically measurable things can be translated into a mathematical representation in time.

Don't worry.  Some day he will be deposed.  But then we will get a new King.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How to Find God

The expression of necessity can only be the form of an arbitrary rule.

A one-way sign tells us in what direction we have to go.  A mathematical rule tells us the results of the next number in the series.

There is no necessity in the world/ only in the grammar of our expressions.

Everything in the world can either be or not be.  Everything is possible. 

We observe and measure fragments of the world and we make generalizations.  Yet there are no real causes observable in nature.  The past is gone: it cannot act in the present.  We generalize from correlations based on repeated observations.  Yet in this process a mathematical structure is revealed.  Mathematics is not the language of the universe/ mathematics is a language that we invented.  However/ perhaps we can view the universe as an expression of mathematics?

If we are to regard the universe as the expression of a language/ then we are saying that the universe has a meaning.  If the universe has a meaning--even only a mathematical meaning--then there would have to be a source of that meaning.  Otherwise/ science is like attempting to crack a coded message/ only to find that it is not a code at all/ but random nonsense that the printer churned out.

But this is only a way of seeing the world/ not a scientific description.


An icon is a picture.  Icons cannot be said to be true or false.  They can be good or bad/ fitting or unfitting.

An icon is both similar to what it represents and dissimilar to what it represents.

For example/ a ray of light is an icon of the sun.  It is similar and dissimilar to the sun.

We can't talk about icons.  Unlike a sign/ the relationship between an icon and its object does not satisfy conditions of bivalence.  An icon can neither be said to be the same as its object/ nor can it be said to be different from its object.  A ray of light is not the sun nor is it other than the sun.  Icons are manifestations of their objects.

A world of icons is a world of contrast.  A world of signs is black and white.

Is it possible that certain things could only be shown?

The Sign

The Sign stands for an object.  The sign cannot stand for itself or it would not be a sign.

The "universe" cannot be a sign.  The sign for the universe would have to exist outside the universe.

If a scientist talks about the universe/ either she is not actually talking about the universe/ or her language does not signify.

What does not signify cannot be assigned a truth value.

There is no such thing as a theory of the universe.

The Universe

The Universe.

There can be no scientific account of the universe. 

Consider an experiment that might be conducted in any introductory physics class.  We have a block/ and a plane that we can expand to different angles.  The plane has equidistant lines along its surface.  We have a stop watch/ and a scale for measuring the angle of the plane.

Our stop watch blips at periodic intervals.  We set the plane at a particular angle/ say 30 degrees.  At each blip/ we observe and record the measured position of the block on the plane.  We run this experiment several times/ and we graph the results of the experiment in a two dimensional space/ one axis being time and the other being space.  It now looks like we have a mathematical picture of some isolated thing existing in "space and time."

But what does it mean for the particle to be at a particular location in space?  It means that it is at a particular place with reference to our ruler.  What does it mean for the block to be observed moving at a certain time?  It means that we observe the motion of the block with respect to our stop watch.  We compare one physical process/ the one we are measuring/ with another physical process that is not measured.

In any quantitative endeavor/ there always has to be a reference point by which we measure something.  If we are talking about time/ we need a clock/ and we have to take what the clock shows as being infallible.  If we are talking about space/ we need the functional equivalent of a meter stick.  We regard what the meter stick shows to be infallible.  We can never measure our standard in as much as we are treating it as the standard.

It is easy to be confused here.  I can measure the length of a meter stick/ and I can measure my clock/ for example/ how long it takes for the hour hand to move from one point to another point.  The clock could be fast or slow.  However/ if I measure my clock or my meter stick/ I must take another physical system to serve as an infallible standard of measurement.  When we say it is infallible/ this is not a statement about knowledge/ it is a statement about our attitude toward the measurement standard. 

Measurement presupposes a standard that cannot itself be measured.  It is defined a priori.  What is measured is measured with reference to the standard. 

A meter is defined as the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299792458th of a second.  We cannot empirically determine how long that distance is/ it is a definition.  In order to apply the definition/ we require a clock that shows the correct time.   We cannot measure how long a physical process occurs within our clock: the clock tells time.  Because the clock tells time/ we can measure how long another physical process occurs by measuring it with reference to our clock.  In order to quantitatively define anything/ we have to define a physical paradigm by which we measure other things with respect to that aspect.  The physical paradigm cannot itself be measured.  The physical paradigm is not capable of empirical description.

We do not change our standards of measurement because they are shown to be wrong.  We change our standards of measurement because we develop other standards of measurement that are shown to be more precise.

When we measure something/ we give a description of the thing measured relative to the standard of measurement.  When we determine how long something is/ we determine the length in approximate ratio to the path light travels in a vacuum over a certain time interval as measured by an infallible clock (e.g. our paradigm clock).  When we give the time interval of a physical process/ we talk about the physical process in reference to another physical system/ our clock.

Quantitative science presupposes a normative system of measurement standards.  The standards of measurement cannot be described empirically.  They are defined.  Science can only deal with the relationship of the parts.  The idea of the universe/ conceived of as a unified physical process/ has no place in the scientific description.  I should want to say that if one can come to believe in the universe/ then belief in God should be no trouble.  He (or she) is the person standing outside the universe checking his metaphysical watch.