Is X a Y?

John K Clark (
Mon, 28 Jul 1997 22:29:27 -0700 (PDT)


Eric Watt Forste <> On Mon, 28 Jul 1997 Wrote:

>Philip K. Dick, I believe, defined reality as that which doesn't
> go away when you stop believing in it.

Then I am not real.

>Is the Mandelbrot set like the gravitational field, or is the
>Mandelbrot set like Church and State (which I'm pretty confident
>would go away, or at least change rather drastically, if everyone
>stopped believing in them).

Both Church and State seem pretty real to me, unfortunately.

>Robert Anton Wilson, on the other hand, has defined reality as what
> you can get away with.

Hmm, perhaps this Wilson fellow isn't such a fool after all.

>just because I like the Anthropic Principle doesn't mean I entirely
>approve of Tipler's more recent plucking at Tommaso Aquino's laurels.
>I can't imagine why Tipler's going into competition with a
>rationalizer of witchburning.)

I agree. The Physics of Immortality is a very fine book, but if Tipler had a
good editor who dumped the historical religious mumbo jumbo, the result would
be a great book that was 30% thinner.

"Nicholas Bostrom" <> On Mon, 28 Jul 1997 Wrote:

>the proposition asserting the existence of the Mandelbrot set is not
>only consistent, it is logically true, i.e. it follows logically
>from the axioms of Zermelo-Fraenkel's set theory, the truth of which
>we do not doubt, do we.

In other words the Mandelbrot Set is consistent with the axioms of
mathematics, the axioms themselves have no proof but they just seem so true
they must be, I mean, they're really obvious, as obviously true as the nature
of reality is transparent.

I talked about consistency because that's as precise and objective a concept
as any known, truth on the other hand is as murky as reality. I also find
there is very often a disturbing circular element. What is truth? That which
is (exists). What is existence? That which is true.

I can't explain what truth is without using the idea of consistency, and
I can't use the verb "to be" either because that implies existence and
existence is what I'm trying to define. All these restrictions are too much
for me, that's why I don't talk about truth.

John K Clark

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