One more time, Sysiphus

Trapped in the Purgatory of an Endlessly Repeated ongoing conversation:

Dear Dr Andreassen, Out of a spirit of charity, despite the fact that you will not hear me this time any more than you heard me the last countless number of times, I will explain again.

I never disagreed with the idea that atomic motions can be predicted. That idea is absurd.

You say I did disagree. I assume this is because you classify the deliberate motions of Shakespeare’s body to be an atomic motion. In your words ” To wit, you disagreed that the motion of Shakespeare’s atoms can be predicted using only physical information. Which is not the same as saying they can’t be predicted, period…”

Your article of faith (it is not a position you have ever defended, only asserted) is that in the same way a carbon-14 atom in the stomach of Shakespeare has a rate of decay that can be predicted, or has four covalent bonds to form predictable chemical compounds, in just such a way as that, the motions of his pen hand and hence whether the play is a tragedy or comedy can be predicted.

Your thought is not only in error, it is unrelated to reality. No one in physics has ever put forward a theory of animate motions of playwrights. Physicists, including Newton, have put forward theories of celestial and atomic motions. Indeed, it was Newton’s great contribution to science that he combined the theory of ballistics, collisions  and planetary motion in to one theory of gravity.

So, you are arguing only that the motions of the hand are predictable in principle.

In the motions of the hand, you both mean the deliberate motions and the nondeliberate motions. You both mean the animate motions and the inanimate motions. You both mean the motions that can be described by efficient cause and the motions that can be described by final cause. You both mean the motions of the living and the motions of the dead.

I make a distinction you do not make. I cannot explain this distinction to you no matter how clearly and how often I have tried, and no matter what simple and lucid examples and explanations I offer, and no matter whether or not I answer any questions about it. You never ask me any questions about it. You never give a counter argument. You never explain why the distinction is invalid. You do not explain what you don’t understand about the distinction. You act as if I never spoke at all, and then you repeat your one article of faith again, with the monotony of the Ephesians crying out “Great is the Diana of Ephesus!”

Here is the distinction again: of things, some are alive and some are dead. Alive things are animate and dead things are inanimate. For an inanimate object, all of its motions can be described and defined in terms of the outside forces acting on them. By outside forces I do not mean only forces originated physically outside the body; I also include things like chemical reactions or the tension on a mainspring inside a pocketwatch. The motion of the hand of a pocketwatch is due to an outside force, namely, a man winding the stem. Outside forces act without deliberation. The man winds the stem and imparts tension to the mainspring whose unwinding, hindered by the escapement, turns the hour hand. The watch does not decide at noon to point its hand helpfully at the 12 mark on its face out of love for its master, nor in reaction to any instinct of hunger or sex drive.

For animate objects, some of the forces acting on the body are outside forces just like the mainspring in the watch, such as, for example, the reaction of chemical elements in the stomach rendering food into nutriment. The prime example of this used in our discussion is that of a man being shot out of a cannon. He passes through the air on a ballistic course just the same as if he were a corpse. We have to suppose that there are no tools like parachutes he can use to arrest his motion, and that there is no air resistant for him to use to alter his tumble.

Some of the forces acting on the body, however, are internal, that is, deliberate. This is not a new type of external force. This is not a theory that the insubstantial ghost of his spirit is hovering nearby, and uses telekinesis, to push brain atoms into a new configuration which trigger neural actions which triggers muscular motions.  This is a different dimension of understanding, a different as horizontal is from vertical, as different as brightness is from color.

Now, if your position were correct, then all animate motions can be described and defined in terms of inanimate motions. All deliberate motions can be described and defined in terms of non-deliberate component motions. All final causes can be described and defined in terms of efficient causes.

To bolster your article of faith, you have, to date, make one circular argument. That argument is the thought experiment which says this: 1. assume we live in a universe where all animate motions can be described and defined ergo reduced to inanimate motions, so that if an automaton mimicking Shakespeare’s inanimate motions were built with all the inanimate motions identical in their initial positions, the end positions of Shakespeare’s inanimate motions could be accurately predicted. 2. Posit that such an automaton has been built and has predicted such motions accurately 3. Therefore we live in a universe where all animate motions can be described and defined ergo reduced to inanimate motions.

The argument assumes exactly what it proves. You go back and forth between restating, without giving any reason to believe, point one and point two. When I agree that the inanimate component of Shakespeare’s motions can be predicted by an automaton, on the grounds that inanimate motions are all external and are defined by external forces, you seem to think I have agreed that his deliberate motions caused by internal desires are likewise defined. When I say they are not, you accused me of inconsistency.

When asked to defend the roots of your argument, your argument boils down to the idea that animation motions must be made up of or defined by inanimate motions because you have never had the idea that it could be otherwise.

We have been discussing this without any result or even any movement from either of our initial positions for years now. I told you at the beginning that the matter simply and absolutely cannot be discussed without a discussion of epistemology and ontology, that is, without you examining your theory of what it means to know and what it means to be.

Your theory is a theory of metaphysics, not of physics. It cannot be proved by experiment, because the experimental results are the same no matter if one metaphysical theory is true or is untrue.

Your attempts to find an experiment to prove your metaphysical point are vain. You are only making those attempts because you are ignoring the difference between an imaginary thought experiment and a real experiment that takes place in reality, and in your imaginary experiment, one of the things you tacitly imagine is that your unspoken theory of metaphysics is correct: you then imagine the result, and then you make an odd leap of illogical and assume this confirms the theory, ergo making it a theory of physics.

I have written at length, listing every possible outcome of the thought experiment, and showing why it is either a circular argument or inconclusive for determining the metaphysical theory.

So why are you here? What are you trying to prove? You cannot and will not argue the philosophical point philosophically, that is, by defining your terms and making the proper technical distinctions to resolve ambiguities. When gross logical errors are pointed out to you, such as when you make a circular argument, all you do is pretend that no one said anything, and you go back to stating your article of faith again. You do not know how to have a two-way discussion, and you are unwilling to learn. What do you want from me? Why are you trying to discuss philosophy with me when you obviously hate philosophy?




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