Is the Mandelbrot Set real?

John K Clark (
Sat, 26 Jul 1997 14:02:53 -0700 (PDT)

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- On Sat, 26 Jul 1997 Wrote:

>>what does "exist" even mean?

>A trip to metaphysics doesn't seem necessary. I'll go with Websters:
>"to have reality or being".

Yes, and if you look up "reality" you will find "something that exists" or
its equivalent, and looking up "being" will tell you it possesses the quality
of reality. I have never found that a dictionary to be very enlightening
philosophically, probably because lexicographers are not great philosophers
but also because they get the knowledge to write their book from common usage,
and that not much use in philosophy where it's customary to push concepts to
extremes to see where they'll break.

By itself a dictionary is nothing but one big circular definition.
All the definitions in a dictionary are made of words, and those words also
have definitions made of other words also in the dictionary, and round and
round we go. The way out of this paradox is the fact that much, perhaps most,
of our knowledge in not in the dictionary because it's not made of words.

>You're redirecting the discussion into the limits of our epistemology.


>nonetheless, there is a universe out there, independent of us.

Interesting theory.

>If all humans died tomorrow the bacteria and the Virgo cluster
>would still be there, and the chair would last quite a while.

And exactly what is it that the Virgo cluster has that the Mandelbrot Set

>The sense impressions of the real things you mentioned were
>formed from the actual things. The Mandelbrot set sense impressions
>were formed from a finite approximation to the Mandelbrot set.

You're saying that The Mandelbrot set does not exist because it's too complex,
only simple cartoon like things can be real. Well OK, but then who needs to
be "real"? It would seem that possessing the quality of "reality" is not

>as you pointed out, finite representations of the Mandelbrot set
>are *very* different from the actual Mandelbrot set.

We can know something about the Mandelbrot set, we just can't know everything.
How is that different from a chair?

>I can make a program that creates the sense impressions I'd get from
>the Easter Bunny, and use it for wallpaper, but there's still no
>Easter Bunny.

Interesting theory.

John K Clark

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