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Things I know.

Joe King
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Being a bit of a sceptic, I sometimes wonder about what I know and what I just think I know, or am just guessing. By "know" I mean completely 100% without a doubt - a statement that even the most pedantic MD poster could not disagree with! Even statements like "I know that I'm real" may not be true - I may be a simulation/dream etc.

Up until recently I've always thought that there was only one thing that I could 100% without a doubt know: "There is not nothing". This is because the thought itself is something, so makes itself true.

A couple of days ago I suddenly had an idea - the thought "There is nothing" only has meaning because I think it does - its just a series of sounds, but it has meaning because I recognise a pattern in it. This leads to another question - is the pattern in this statement another "thing" that definatly exists? Perhaps I could now say there are two things that I know:

1) There is not nothing
2) There is not no patterns

I'm not too sure about this though. If this is true, then there could be a whole host of other things that are true. Can anyone else think of any other things that are 100% true?

Obviously this is complete meaningless drivel - even though I don't know that my job exists, I act as if I'm assuming it does. Its just a case of probabilities I suppose - things which I think are probably true I treat as being true, even though I don't know if they are or not.
Jeroen Wenting
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truth is relative.
Anything is true only for a certain range of values for true and wrong for all other values of true.


42
Arjun Shastry
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Value of true means?


MH
frank davis
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
truth is relative.
Anything is true only for a certain range of values for true and wrong for all other values of true.


First, allow me to re-phrase Joe's "There is not nothing" as "There is something". Under what range of values would that be false?

You could attempt to point to some area where there is an absolute vacum of some sort and say there is nothing there, so for that particular set of coordinates in time and space there is not something, but the statement never claimed there was something everywhere, but implied just that somewhere, something exists.

This "truth is relative" claim is repeated too often by some (not Jeroen) as an attempt to deny any possibility of finding truth on any assertion, whether scientific, philosophical, moral or even in personal relations. Truth does exist however. Wihtout getting into quantum physics since we don't normally act and live in the sub-atmomic realm, Under any specific set of circumstances and consitions, a statement is either true or false, but not both, or arbitrarily one or the other. In that real world sense, truth is not relative. Sometimes there are implied conditions in truth assertions or sometimes they need to be made more specific, but it helps no one to simply leap into the pit of inanity and howl that all truth is relative.
KR Campbell
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Originally posted by Joe King:


Obviously this is complete meaningless drivel - even though I don't know that my job exists, I act as if I'm assuming it does. Its just a case of probabilities I suppose - things which I think are probably true I treat as being true, even though I don't know if they are or not.


In that case, could everyone here please assume that I have a job in order to increase the probability that I do.

frank davis
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Originally posted by Arjun Shastry:
Value of true means?


"True" means there is a correlation between the agreed upon semantic constructions and some aspect of reality that can be observed or logically deduced.

Besides the "truth is relative" pit of inanity, the "semantic word game" pit is next in popularity...
KR Campbell
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Wasn't that where the search for absolute truth in mathematics came from.. and then along came Russell's Paradox?
fred rosenberger
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  16

There is no absolute truth in mathematics. Every branch, at it's most basic level, relies on a given set of postulates. these are supposed to be statements that are so OBVIOUSLY true, that nobody could doubt them.

Euclid came up with 5 or so for geometry. given a line and a point not on the line, there exists exactly 1 line in the plane through that point that never intersects the original line. etc.

they all make sense and are beleiveable. but then sombody said "what if there WAS more than one line...", and they went on to develop a perfectly valid, stable branch of math called "Non-Euclidean Geometry". and we're now finding places where it is actually useful


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Max Habibi
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There is no absolute truth in mathematics.

I would disagree here, and argue that there is absolute truth only in mathematics. That is, 1 != 0, regardless of the observer, while the statement "she is sitting on the left" is true, and relative.

By and large, mathematical truth is considered to be timeless.

M


Java Regular Expressions
fred rosenberger
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  16

Originally posted by Max Habibi:

That is, 1 != 0, regardless of the observer



I disagree with this statment, for three reasons.

1) what do you mean by 1? can you define 1 for me?

2) what do you mean by "!="?

3) what do you mean by 0?

and besides, haven't you ever seen this proof?

let x = y = 1;
x^2 = y^2
x^2 - y^2 = 0
(x+y)(x-y) = 0
x+y = 0
x+x = 0
2x = 0
x = 0
1 = 0!!!

(yes, i know where the error is)
Mapraputa Is
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frank davis
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Originally posted by fred rosenberger:
There is no absolute truth in mathematics. Every branch, at it's most basic level, relies on a given set of postulates. these are supposed to be statements that are so OBVIOUSLY true, that nobody could doubt them.

Euclid came up with 5 or so for geometry. given a line and a point not on the line, there exists exactly 1 line in the plane through that point that never intersects the original line. etc.

they all make sense and are beleiveable. but then sombody said "what if there WAS more than one line...", and they went on to develop a perfectly valid, stable branch of math called "Non-Euclidean Geometry". and we're now finding places where it is actually useful


An assertion of truth involves a relationship. The relationship involves the postulates, the facts, the circumstances, and other background items that may be implied. To say that truth is relative because it involves postulates, facts , and other such things is to really say nothing of any conseqeunce or significance at all. That's the whole reason a truth is asserted, because a claim is being made about set of circumstances, postulates, and facts.

The statement that "truth is relative" doesn't really say anything at all, its inane. Its equal to saying that "An evalaution of the consistency between an assertion of facts, postualtes, and circumstances and a socially agreed upon semantic construction depends on the actual facts, postulates, and circumstances that have been included in the assertion". Truth is ALWAYS in relation to something, so what intellectual progress is made when saying truth is therefore relative?

I think we have to draw the line someone, even in MD, moderators should censor completely meangingless statements since they have no meaning and nothing will be lost. "Truth is relative" should be first on the list.
Max Habibi
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well, relatively speaking, I have to disagree. While some very truths are absolute, the vast majority are relative.

M
[ June 30, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Mapraputa Is
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Fred: what do you mean by 1? can you define 1 for me?

In the beginning there was nothing.
Nothing was the empty set - �.

Then there was a set whose member was �, which is {�}. So there were two sets: � and {�}. Then there was the third set, whose members were our � and {�}: {�, {�}}

The first set has no members, the next has one, the next has two... That's how numbers 0, 1, 2... started to be...
Mapraputa Is
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Herb: I think we have to draw the line someone, even in MD, moderators should censor completely meangingless statements since they have no meaning and nothing will be lost.

You got it completely wrong, bro!

Listen to what our fearless boss said:

"The forum stays for now. Only it will be enforced to be "meaningless drivel". Therefore nobody could possibly ever object to having a post removed. If somebody did care, that would indicate that they thought the post had meaning. And by that definition, it should have been removed."
Paul Wheaton. About to close the MD forum . JavaRanch. 2004. p. 1.
[ June 30, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Max Habibi
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I disagree with this statment, for three reasons.

1) what do you mean by 1? can you define 1 for me?


Yes, but I've delve into some elementary Set theory, then we'd have to start with a definition of operations, groups, rings, etc.

...
and besides, haven't you ever seen this proof?


(yes, i know where the error is)

My father is a mathematicians, my mother is an economist, and my sister and I both got our math degrees, so we I grew up with little puzzles like this: dinner conversation was distinguishing between Rings and Groups and proving that 1 != 0, so this sort of discussion take me back quite a ways.

Mathematics is, in my opinion, as close as we get to a language that's free of the linguistic loopholes that plague other forms of communication.

This may, in part, be helped by the fact that Mathematics is not at all concerned with the real world, but with it's own internal representation of fictional spaces. The real world uses mathematics in engineering, statistics, etc., but those are distinct disciplines.

M
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Herb: I think we have to draw the line someone, even in MD, moderators should censor completely meangingless statements since they have no meaning and nothing will be lost.

You got it completely wrong, bro!

Listen to what our fearless boss said:

"The forum stays for now. Only it will be enforced to be "meaningless drivel". Therefore nobody could possibly ever object to having a post removed. If somebody did care, that would indicate that they thought the post had meaning. And by that definition, it should have been removed."
Paul Wheaton. About to close the MD forum . JavaRanch. 2004. p. 1.

[ June 30, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]


OK, in that case "truth is relative" is the only statment that should be here..
Mapraputa Is
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Strictly speaking even this statement has at least some meaning and therefore should be removed!
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Strictly speaking even this statement has at least some meaning and therefore should be removed!


No, my whole point is the tautologicalness of the statement. Can you please tell me what shred of meaning the statement could posbbily have?
Mapraputa Is
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So you are saying tautologies have zero meaning? Dunno... I would say that they don't add any meaning to what we already know, but by themselves... Let's take "1 = 1" tautology. I would say its meaning is, um, that 1 = 1. I guess it depends of what meaning of "meaning" is.
Max Habibi
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I guess it depends of what meaning of "meaning" is.

Watch it!
Sadanand Murthy
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
Mathematics is, in my opinion, as close as we get to a language that's free of the linguistic loopholes that plague other forms of communication.

This may, in part, be helped by the fact that Mathematics is not at all concerned with the real world, but with it's own internal representation of fictional spaces.
M


This reminded me of this joke that I'd read www.netjeff.com/humor:


Ever Existing, Ever Conscious, Ever-new Bliss
Mapraputa Is
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Map: I guess it depends of what meaning of "meaning" is.
Max: Watch it!


Two experts, to explicate Meaning,
Penned a text called "The Meaning of Meaning",
But the world was perplexed,
So three experts penned next
"The Meaning of Meaning of Meaning".

I found this in a review for D. Hofstadter's "Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language" book recommended to me by Tom Paul.

If you will not read this book, your life is spent for nothing.
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Sadanand Murthy:


Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
So you are saying tautologies have zero meaning? Dunno... I would say that they don't add any meaning to what we already know, but by themselves... Let's take "1 = 1" tautology. I would say its meaning is, um, that 1 = 1. I guess it depends of what meaning of "meaning" is.


Not quite. 1=1 assigns the value 1 to itself which does effectively nothing and is therefore meaningless
Now if you'd said 1 == 1 instead there would have been a statement claiming that something is itself which has meaning in that it claims that something is indeed the same as it is.
Joe King
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Originally posted by Sadanand Murthy:


That reminds me of a scene in one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books where there's a guy who built an insides out house. The inside was decorated in plain bricks, and had some grass in it. The outside walls of the house had wallpaper, paintings etc. He claimed that he'd built a lunatic asylum for the entire world and that he was the only person not inside it.
Joe King
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Originally posted by Joe King:
Its just a case of probabilities I suppose - things which I think are probably true I treat as being true, even though I don't know if they are or not.


I was thinking about this some more today (I really should do some work at some point instead of thinking about stuff like this ). It made me realise that not only are there situations like above, but there are situations were there are things which I think are most likely to be not true, but I treat them as being true anyway. One example of this is the existence of chaos AKA "random events".

My personal view of the universe is that its more likely than not that its a deterministic universe in that every moment is determined by the moment before. In this view, the universe is a closed system that follows some rules (even though we don't know what they are). By this assumption there is no such thing as chaos - there are no random events. Theoretically a person who totally knows the entire system will be able to predict everything that happens. Unfortunately I do not know the entire system, I only know a small subset of it. This subset is not a closed system, so a kind of pseudo-chaos needs to be planned for - when I am planning something I always try to remember that some unforeseen circumstances will occur. This means that despite the fact that my best understanding of the universe says that chaos does not exist, I still act as if it does for the purposes of daily planning.

Now someone is likely to mention quantum mechanics at some point soon, and say how they are random. While that would be great (in making me feel less confused!), I'm not paying too much attention to it at the moment - we don't really understand it enough to declare that it is truly random and not just acting according to laws we don't understand. I guess if we prove beyond any doubt that quantum mechanics are totally random and have an effect outside of the smallest scales, then there could feasibly be truly random events, but I'm not convinced yet.
fred rosenberger
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  16

In the beginning there was nothing.

that's a pretty bold statement. do you have some kind of proof for that? or evidence?

Nothing was the empty set - �.


so... Nothing was something???

Then there was a set whose member was �


So now you need to define for me what a set is, and what it means to be a "member" of a set....

So there were two sets: � and {�}


so what do you mean by "two"? you just start using words/symbols without ever defining them. or does "two" simply refer to � and {�}, and nothing else?

Even this kind of math (Peano's Arithmetic?) relies on his 5 basic axioms that you have to just accept on faith. yes, they seem farily obvious, but still, none have ever been proven to be true.

What i'm trying to say (and not very clearly at that) is that even in math, we all have to agree on SOMETHING before we can start creating all that fancy stuff like, oh, 2s and 7s and 846s.
[ July 01, 2004: Message edited by: fred rosenberger ]
Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Joe King:

That reminds me of a scene in one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books where there's a guy who built an insides out house. The inside was decorated in plain bricks, and had some grass in it. The outside walls of the house had wallpaper, paintings etc. He claimed that he'd built a lunatic asylum for the entire world and that he was the only person not inside it.


ah yes, Wonko the Sane.
I've always had this nagging feeling that the man had a point, though I somewhat doubt that angels would wear Dr. Scholl footwear
But then again, according to popular definition the majority is always sane.
But then again, it's well known for insane people to claim they're sane...
Mapraputa Is
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Fred: that's a pretty bold statement. do you have some kind of proof for that? or evidence?

I was kidding! Or, more accurate, wrapped serious equations into a funny narrative.

What i'm trying to say (and not very clearly at that) is that even in math, we all have to agree on SOMETHING before we can start creating all that fancy stuff like, oh, 2s and 7s and 846s.

But of course. I am not going to argue. You asked how "1" is defined, so I answered according to my best knowledge.
fred rosenberger
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  16

Map,

sorry. your analysis is actually not far off from what i remember from my "topics in mathematics" i had about 10 years ago, so i thought you were serious. using some axioms, we basically said "given an element in a series, you can find the next element. and we know of an element that starts the whole thing. we'll call that 0. using it, we can find the next element that, just for the fun of it, we'll call 1. using that to fine the next element, we'll call 2..etc".

and i'm sorry if i sounded harsh - i wrote that WAY too early in the moring.
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
If you will not read this book, your life is spent for nothing.


I remember a lovely young woman once telling me that if I didn't love
this song, I had no soul. Whatya know, she was right.


Well I guess everything dies baby
that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies
someday comes back
Put your hair up nice
and set up pretty
and meet me tonight
in Atlantic City


[ July 01, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Thomas Paul
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This reminds me of a fake course catalog from a fictional college in a book by Woody Allen. The description of one course was, "Is knowledge knowable. If not, how do we know this?"



Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Joe King
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

But of course. I am not going to argue. You asked how "1" is defined, so I answered according to my best knowledge.


Easy - 1 is defined as being half the value of 2 and 2 is defined as being twice the value of 1

Its all a load of rubbish anyway - numbers don't really exist. They're not real - there's no 1's and 2's floating around in the atmosphere any more than there are magical quadratic equations living in the sea. Numbers are just a figment of our imagination used to attempt to give us a better understanding of a complicated universe. Of course this particular piece of logic didn't overly impress my maths teacher as an excuse for not doing the homework.....
Scott Sinclair
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A couple of days ago I suddenly had an idea - the thought "There is nothing" only has meaning because I think it does - its just a series of sounds


If you say the thought doesn't have any meaning then how can you proceed from there, since any other thought will have just as little meaning?, and any analysis of this would have just as little meaning since it is also based on thought.
 
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