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Help Me, Captain Philosophy! [Aug. 16th, 2006|04:51 pm]
I took a relatively interesting philosophy quiz (here) that characterizes me as a metaphysical Realist, an epistemological Subjectivist, and an ethical Utilitarian.

The corresponding viewpoints aren't a horrible match -- they're better than the subcategories listed under the polar opposite "Reductionist/Absolutist/Relativist" type, but still, there were a bunch of questions where none of the answers really fit what I believe. There are lots of these questions to which my answer is really mu -- either the question is ill-posed, or there's not enough context to give a proper answer.

So, not that I actually expect anybody on my flist can answer the question, but: Can you help me find a label for my philosophical outlook?

In a nutshell, here's what I think. There are two kinds of thing in the world: physical things, and informational things. A rock is physical; a 30-60-90 triangle is informational. Your mind is software (informational) that runs on the hardware of your body (physical). Part of your mind is a model of the objective physical universe; this model is imperfect, being fed by your imperfect perceptions of the universe, but there's an isomorphism between model and reality.

Here's the part that seems to be unconventional: I've come to believe that statements about physical things are qualitatively different than statements about informational things. In particular, boolean truth is applicable only to purely informational propositions. Statement about physical things evaluate to what I'll call "floating-point truth".

So what is that? Property dualism? Fuzzy-logic Aristotelianism? Any ideas?

[User Picture]From: bryree
2006-08-16 11:45 pm (UTC)
It is a dualism...Hmmm...I shall puzzle on it during Merchant.
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[User Picture]From: bryree
2006-08-18 02:54 am (UTC)
OK. Not a dualism as I read more. That would seem to require the teo types of things to be more opposed than relational, as they seem to be for you. Would informational things exist in ways at all analogous to the existance of spiritual things in other philosophies, as you understand them?
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2006-08-18 01:56 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... Mostly not, I think. My understanding of other philosophies is too shaky to say for sure, but some examples of informational things include: numbers, words, Hamlet, Beethoven's 9th, this blog, digital photos, taxonomic classifications, emotions, and your mind.

Some of those may be analogous to things conventionally regarded as spiritual, but I think most are not.
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[User Picture]From: bryree
2006-08-18 11:23 pm (UTC)
It is unclear to me whether or not informational things 'exist' independently of Physical things. Sure, the statements we can make about them are qualitatively different, and they can exist independently of one another - but to what extent? It seems in your worldview that informational things, though independent of physical things in some ways, are ontologically bound to the physical.

For instance: You can have 'triangle' or 'book' without pysical objects defining them, but what if there were not (ever) physical things? Would there still be 'triangle' or 'book' or 'three?' It seems I would not. Do I have an accurate understanding? Or ask a cogent question? ;)
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2006-08-19 03:22 am (UTC)
Well, but contrariwise, could you have physical things if there were no informational things? Would there still be [this apple here] without there being a 'one' or a 'here'?

I think a universe without either one is sufficiently outside our understanding that I don't think we can sensibly say anything about it...

It's like matter and energy. Does a universe with only one, and not the other, make any sense to us?
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