> IAN: I would be interested to know where you get
> your definition of "atomism." I get mine from the
> the classical Three Laws of Thought that define
> the structure of atomist identity (in short):
>
> 1) A is A.
> 2) A is not both A and not-A.
> 3) A is either A or not-A.
>
> This defines a clear demarkation around A that
> excludes holism by 100% and thus is atomism by
> 100%. What definition of atomism is more exact?
Well, MINE for one. :)
> Your definition of atomism desribes a meta-rela-
> tion of three relations (A,B), (A,0), and (B,0)
> and observes that as (A,B) changes, the other
> two remain static, true! But that's NOT a defin-
> tion of identity, atomist or holist, and thus
> is not a standard by which the "right" or the
> "wrong" defintion is to be determined. So:
>
> * Why is "atomist identity" as defined by the 3
> Laws of Thought a "wrong" definition of atomism?
>
> (Our disagreements revolve around definitions,
> and it seems that we agree on everything else.)
Well, it's basically this problem: lots of people consider themselves
atomists (myself included!) because I believe that one can define the
identity of A in terms of its relationship to only PART of its holistic
identity and still make sense. More precisely, I'd say that identity of A
(as defined by holism) is governed by *everything* that is not-A; but the
atomist's definition of identity (which I'll call partial identity to
avoid confusion) is simply the relationship between A and a particular
other value; usually 0. The net identity is the sum of the partial
identities of everything relative to everything else, which is always 0.
In the previous world consisting of A and B, we can see that one partial
identity is that A is one greater than 0 and another is that B is two
greater than zero; the latter partial identity may change without
affecting the truth of the former partial identity: B may grow to twenty
greater than zero, but A will remain one greater than 0. Since 0 will
become twenty less than B in the process, the whole identity of A will
change, eventually leaving the net identity zero. However, the truth of
partial identities are not necessarily affected by changes in other
partial identities, and thus, to some extent, partial identities are
"atomistic" in the sense that they exhibit some degree of independence,
even though the total identity cannot behave in this way, and even though
the identity of the partial identities themselves will be affected as that
which is not-"partial identity" changes. The important thing for
atomists is that the truth of a partial identity can remain unchanged by
the truth of other partial identities; perhaps truth itself is just a
partial identity of any given statement.
This is useful in many cases where I don't know certain values on the
identity matrix, but I can nonetheless say things about the partial
identities I do know; I may even use the fact that net identity is equal
to zero in order to find unknown values on the table. As you can see,
this is totally compatible with holism, and yet smacks of atomism.
So my definition, in the clearest form you'll get from me at this hour:
Atomism is the statement that the truth of partial identities does not
necessarily change as other partial identities change.
> IAN: I think your accusation is in error! Cutting
> to the quick: here again our difference is one of
> definition. Your defining "mystical" as "a statement
> about LESS than all data," such as 0 = 1. Based on
> that you then construct a series of matrices with
> obviously illogical information and then conclude
> that the "mystical" must be illogical. Yes! But
> if, and only if, your definition is THE definition.
>
> My definition of "mystical" is "a statement about
> the unity of ALL data." Based upon that, I then
> construct a matrix that defines ALL identities
> and sums them into a statement about ALL things.
>
> So the real question here is: Why is a definition
> of "mystical" as "a statements about not-all things"
> the right definition of the "mystical" ? As I said,
> I think we agree on all else but two definitions.
Well, here I must fall back on utility: when we use words to
communicate, the best words are those which are the best mutually
understood by the parties to whom we are communicating. Adopting a
commonly held definition makes communication easier and makes you better
understood by others.
When most people say "identity" they mean partial identity; similarly when
they say "space" they mean partial space, and when they say "time" they
mean partial time. If the best definition is that which is best
understood, you are better off saying that identity, space and time can
all be non-zero (again, meaning partials) but that the sum of all
identities relative to all other identities is zero and that this is the
whole truth.
Similarly, when people refer to mysticism, they usually intimate something
which is not predicted by Newtonian physics actually taking place.
However, as we can clearly see, your theories of identity and Newtonian
physics go hand in hand; you cannot use the identity matrix to prove
that psychic phenomena are possible or that reality is infinitely
malleable by the human mind or that 0 = 1; all of these are popular
conclusions of mysticism as practiced and defined by others. This reason
alone may be sufficient reasoning to abondonit.
If this has not been sufficiently convincing for you, this e-mail exhange
may be sufficient evidence that using another person's definitions is
useful: to be blunt, I would never use the word "Identity" with anyone
else in the same way I use it when talking with you; only by reading your
web site, by understanding your matricies and ultimately adopting your
definitions, have I even begun to convince you that we atomists aren't so
bad after all. (A task which a series of great minds on this list have
apparently tried and failed to do.) I must admit, I balked when I read
your conclusions that there was no identity, no space and no time; when I
understood that you were using a different definition of identity, time
and space than most, however, the theories followed; at the same time it
has allowed me to demonstrate that some form of atomism is compatible with
holism; but again, not according to the definitions which you hold, but
only by creating a new term "partial identity" which I tried to use to
sneak past your mental defenses against anything atomist.
By adopting the definitions of your "opponent" while remembering the whole
truth, you can gain a better understanding of their position, and are also
more convincing with your own position. You might even discover that
you're saying the same thing.