Re: JP Barlow, Ph.D, Social Engineering

Crosby_M (
Thu, 26 Sep 1996 17:14:00 -0400

On Thursday, September 26, 1996 1:24PM Jeff Dee wrote:
>Crosby_M wrote:
>> The *universe* consists of all things that have existed across
>> space-time, some of which once existed but no longer do. What is the
>> status of these in the 'monochrome' view?

>Good point. I should have phrased my question differently. I would
>define things that 'used to be' and 'could be, but aren't yet' as
>'facts' - they're just facts we may not be aware of at the moment.
>Don't you agree?

I agree that they are facts; but ... (see last paragraph)

>>>we cannot see more than facts.
>>>At most, we can *imagine* (not 'see') non-existent things
>> And what else is our seeing or hearing, based as it is upon limited
>> spectrums with lots of 'noise' to be filtered and ghosts of past
>> patterns to be fitted or dumped?

>'Limited spectrums' still employ photons, which exist.
>'Noise' may obscure what we're trying to perceive,
>but that noise *exists* [snip]
>The fact that what we see may require interpretation
>does not mean that we see non-existent things. [snip]

I think the problem we're really having here is what Reilly Jones
recently identified:
"It is an exceedingly common error to mix up ontology with epistemology,
with what is there, facts, with what we can know about them, our degrees
of uncertainty, if you will. Facts are facts, two things don't happen
at the same moment, only one thing does. We may see it dimly, or from
different perspectives, but only one thing happens at any given instant
of time."

Aside from the fact that many things *do* happen at the same time (as
Sarah Marr pointed out in her incisive response to Reilly), even from
one observer's perspective, there are also cases where we can have a
split perspective of the same individual thing.

Here's an example that physicist David Bohm (of 'holographic universe'
fame, or infamy to some) liked to use: Suppose there is a fish in a long
rectangular tank with a camera at one end and another camera on the
side. Visitors to the aquarium only see two monitors, one of which
shows a fish swimming straight toward them, the other showing a fish
swimming laterally. The observer could easily conclude that there are 2
fish when, 'in fact', there is only one. Now, what happens to the
'fact' when we play a further trick by exchanging the fish for a
computer simulation of a fish?

I guess I can understand that there is a meaningful distinction between
what exists (ontology) and what we can know about what exists
(epistemology). For example, I know that the Moon exists (unless it has
somehow been destroyed since last night and I haven't heard about it
yet) independently of my knowing it. But, these are sort of macro or
constant facts. In more dynamic situations, I have trouble seeing what
the use of ontology is - too many things we've never seen before have to
pass through our perceptual filters, and our knowledge of them is so
susceptible to distortion. (Although, if I were blind and was hit by a
car I couldn't see while crossing the street, the existence of that car
would quickly become more important to me than my perception of it.)

To make a long story short, I think I'm saying that, in most dynamic and
novel situations, WE CANNOT 'SEE' THE FACTS DIRECTLY, only the portion
of those facts that makes it through our sensors and pattern-matching
routines. While those portions may still be 'facts' in some ontological
sense, from a practical perspective they may amount to an illusion in
the limited context with which we interpret them.

While I don't quite follow it, and it's probably easy to misuse, I think
Ian Goddard's 'holistic logic' also makes this point that it's very
difficult to identify a distinct fact apart from the environment in
which it is embedded. Yes, a tree that falls in the forest does make a
sound even if we are not there to hear it; but, how can that be a fact
*for us* (except perhaps through some vague, holistic 'butterfly

Mark Crosby
"the world which is providing information to your senses is forever
beyond your direct reach (you don't see the world; you see the *effect*
the world has on you)."
- David Musick (just posted)