How many words do we have and how many distinct concepts do we have?

by [anonymous] 5y17th Dec 201420 comments


In another message, I suggested that, given how many cultures we have to borrow from, that our language may include multiple words from various sources that apply to a single concept.

An example is Reality, or Existence, or Being, or Universe, or Cosmos, or Nature, ect.

Another is Subjectivity, Mind, Consciousness, Experience, Qualia, Phenomenal, Mental, ect

Is there any problem with accepting these claims so far? Curious what case would be made to the contrary.

(Here's a bit of a contextual aside, between quantum mechanics and cosmology, the words "universe", "multiverse", and "observable universe" mean at least 10 different things, depending on who you ask. People often say the Multiverse comes from Hugh Everett. But what they are calling the multiverse, Everett called "universal wave function", or "universe". How did Everett's universe become the Multiverse? DeWitt came along and emphasized some part of the wave function branching into different worlds. So, if you're following, one Universe, many worlds. Over the next few decades, this idea was popularized as having "many parallel universes", which is obviously inaccurate. Well, a Scottish chap decided to correct this. He stated the Universe was the Universal Wave Function, where it was "a complete one", because that's what "uni" means. And that our perceived worlds of various objects is a "multiverse". One Universe, many Multiverses. Again, the "parallel universes" idea seemed cooler, so as it became more popular the Multiverse became one and the universe became many. What's my point? The use of these words is legitimate fiasco, and I suggest we abandon them altogether.)

If these claims are found to be palatable, what do they suggest?

I propose, respectfully and humbly as I can imagine there may be compelling alternatives presented here, that in the 21st century, we make a decision about which concepts are necessary, which term we will use to describe that concept, and respectfully leave the remaining terms for the domain of poetry.

Here are the words I think we need:

  1. reality
  2. model
  3. absolute
  4. relative
  5. subjective
  6. objective
  7. measurement
  8. observer

With these terms I feel we can construct a concise metaphysical framework, consistent with the great rationalists of history, and that accurately described Everett's "Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics".

  1. Absolute reality is what is. It is relative to no observer. It is real prior to measurement.
  2. Subjective reality is what is, relative to a single observer. It exists at measurement.
  3. Objective reality is the model relative to all observers. It exists post-measurement.

Everett's Relative State formulation, is roughly this:

  1. The wave function is the "absolute state" of the model
  2. The wave function contains an observer and their measurement apparatus
  3. An observer makes a measurements and records the result in a memory
  4. those measurement records are the "relative state" of the model

Here we see that the words multiverse and universe are abandoned for absolute and relative states, which is actually the language used in the Relative State Formulation.

My conclusion then, for you consideration and comment, is that a technical view of reality can be attained by having a select set of terms, and this view is not only consistent with themes of philosophy (which I didn't really explain) but also the proper framework in which to interpret quantum mechanics (ala Everett).

(I'm not sure how familiar everyone here is with Everett specifically or not. His thesis depended on "automatically function machines" that make measurements with sensory gear and record them. After receiving his PhD, he left theoretical physics, and had a life long fascination with computer vision and computer hearing. That suggests to me, the reason his papers have been largely confounding to the general physicists, is because they didn't realize the extent to which Everett really thought he could mathematically model an observer.)

I should note, it may clarify things to add another term "truth", though this would in general be taken as an analog of "real". For example, if something is absolute true, then it is of absolute reality. If something is objectively true, then it is of objective reality. The word "knowledge" in this sense is a poetic word for objective truth, understood on the premise that objective truth is not absolute truth.