The acronyms in the letter:
In this reproduced email, we quote a portion (one paragraph) of the exact words of Donald T. Palmgren to avoid verbatim copying of his original email. Renselle's words are verbatim.
Context: Prompted by Donald T. Palmgren's remarks, Renselle responds to one paragraph in particular. Renselle's 14Mar1998 (this) email response makes some strong points about SOM science rebutting the following Palmgren comments in his 12Mar1998 email to The Lila Squad (one paragraph quoted in part but contiguously, as written by Palmgren):
"I'm not saying that scientific facts like F=ma are untrue. As I've said before, F=ma is scientifically true. But how is it that science is true. (First of all, science is a social enterprise... [and from there you should be able to go on yourself].) Scientists and logicians prove. I don't. I ask questions (like) what does it mean to prove what's a proof? ("Quality" or anything else you get out of a metaphysical inquiry will be an answer. An answer is the result of a proof; a proof is the result of a question. What's a question? Could it be that what really exists are questions!!!?? Noooo, that's TOO strange! But couldn't this mean that Good = a "force for greater information content?")"
Here's the email -
Donny's latest email on monument circling is well taken. Thanks Donny! We are not as far apart as I thought. My new view of your position on philosophy and MoQ is 'better' than my prior static pattern. Your latest email used DQ to evolve it.
Also, Platt put in his position on Bo's conjecture about "SOM as the intellect of MoQ." Given Donny's remarks and Platt's position, I felt it might be worthwhile to review some of what we do know about the SOM intellect, and what it has REALLY accomplished.
Now keep in mind that I regard SOM highly. It HAS accomplished much, and our modern science arose from its Phoenix. But we in TLS are attempting to compare SOM and MoQ and we are Quality-attracted to the position that MoQ is 'better.' MoQ is not the last word, just a better evolutionary step above/beyond SOM.
Also, SOM will not give up its control over our minds easily, so in some sense, like the Brujo, if MoQ is to move to the fore, there will be a philosophical struggle. That struggle will last a long time, unless the rewards for the change from SOM to MoQ become economic. I think that is about to happen. We are experiencing the leading edge of that now. Pirsig, James, Bohr, et al., suffered for their attempts to move MoQ-like ideas to the fore. But today, the world is already less SOM-like than it was at the turn of the century.
The following sounds like I am an enemy of science. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just think many of the classicists have kept their heads in the sand and their theme song is, "Status quo is the way to go." The title of their theme song is pure SOM.
With that in mind...
Donny gave us some topics that are core SOM areas for dialogue. He also gave us an opportunity to compare these core areas to MoQ.
I use the concept of presumption/assumption in this treatise. Again, do not be mislead. I know that we HAVE to make some presumptions. It's just WHICH presumptions we make are critical to the 'goodness' of our adopted philosophy.
Let's talk about three topics here and see if we can make the point that SOM misleads us by illusion and delusion via (ill-chosen) presumption:
2) the indefinables of science
3) the scientific method of proof
Topic 1 - the presumed scientific truth f=ma
This exact equation works only approximately in classical Newtonian science. It will not and does not work generally in relativistic mechanics, nor in quantum mechanics, nor in relativistic quantum mechanics. So to call it a scientific truth is a stretch unless you characterize your statement with the above just mentioned qualifications.
Topic 2 - the presumed defined indefinables of science
f=ma says that force equals the product of mass and acceleration. Acceleration is the second derivative of distance or length with respect to time.
So in the equation f=ma we have the following primitive variables: mass, length, and time. In classical mechanics it is possible to express all (yes, that's right - ALL!) quantities in terms of these three primitives.
Every one of these is a physical indefinable. None is expressible or definable in terms simpler than themselves. They are presumed terms. They are analogues. Analogues just like all the ontologies, and just like SOM and MoQ.
If you disagree, please give us your definition of say..., why don't you start with time? Then we would love to see your definition of length. And last but not least please render your definition of mass.
The whole of classical SOM science, essentially rests on indefinables. Ask any classical physicist. They resort to measurement: objective observation and objective measurement.
The saving grace is that mass, length, and time ARE measurable analogues. But to say they are ABSOLUTELY true...hmmm... No, that would be deception. (Has SOM deceived us? SOM wouldn't do THAT, would it?)
Topic 3 - the scientific method of presumed proof
One often hears descriptions of the proof process which are not the way classical SOM science performs the proof process. (Note: David Deutsch in his brand new book, 'The Fabric of Reality,' takes a new tack on the scientific proof process using the word 'explanation.')
The accepted classical SOM scientific proof process is provisional (thankfully) based upon absence of contradictory results when we test a scientific hypothesis or theory. In other words in SOM something is proven until it is disproven. (Note the SOM insistence on dichotomy here: true versus false. Contradiction offers classical science that opportunity for the value-free T/F choice.)
So, again, to say that something is TRUE because we have scientific proof is, again, in essence a deception.
That is what Pirsig has been trying to tell us! We cannot know absolute truth. To put truth at the apex of our examination of the nature of reality is wrong! SOM 'truth' is unworthy of that honor.
[Note added 13Sep1998: Some of you accuse us of stating an absolute truth in the above paragraph, "We cannot know absolute truth." That statement cannot be an absolute truth, because one absolute context was not presumed by the writer. The statement was made anthropocentrically, assuming finite human intellect in the context of finite knowledge. Our definition of absolute truth is a truth which is both complete and consistent in an unlimited context. By that definition of absolute, humans are incapable of knowing absolute truth. Humans are capable of knowing local truths with a modicum of absoluteness based on presumed context. If you disagree, please share your opinion with us. PDR. ]
[Note added 28Nov2000. Our recent review of Henri Louis Bergson's Creative Evolution provided us more philosophical evidence to use on this issue of whether or not there either is or is not a classical concept of absolute truth which is valid in any context. Classicists almost always use one of their favorite themas to 'prove' absolute truth. When a sophist or MoQite says, "There is no absolute truth," classicists (SOMites) will say in response, "You just stated an absolute truth." What they do not see, because of their CTMs, is that to a sophist or an MoQite or a quantum philosopher, classical negation is [classically] subjective! This is not easy to grasp for uninitiated, but Bergson makes it somewhat easier for us. See his Topic 39 'The Idea of Nothing,' starting at page 291. Essentially, when Bergson says "negation is subjective," he is using classical jargon to say what modern quantum philosophers would say as "classical negation in quantum reality is quantum c¤mplementation." And what we mean is that a classical -A (assume 'A' is a classical, material object which 'exists') is not a philosophical c¤mplementation of A. Rather it is a classical formal logical negation of A. But when classicists say "not A," what do they mean? That particular classical lingual obfuscation, Bergson tells us, is subjective! "Not A," is unlimited in potential semantic Value, which is what sophists, MoQites, and quantum philosophers mean. And by-the-way classicists how does one, using formal predicate logic, 'negate' a physical object?]
It gets a lot worse if you take the time to investigate.
Mathematics rests on presumptions (e.g., Peano's axioms) much similar to physical science's mass, length and time. Yet few will remind you of that when they tell you they have 'proof.' To me, and I think to Pirsig, this is SOM wool being pulled over lambs eyes.
Note that the mathematicians' purposes are different from those of the physicist. The context of the mathematicians is logical not physical. Pure mathematics is 'context-free' of the physical world, in the same sense that SOM physical science tries to be 'value-free' of the philosophical context. As far as I know, we have no context-dependent mathematics which works, in general as it moves among specific physical contexts. (The O-O methodology Magnus talks about is a weak attempt to achieve something like this.)
The great philosopher Karl Popper showed us the significant problems with induction, yet many theorists still depend on this 'tool' to assist their processes of 'proof.' (See Deutsch's book.) Induction has some value in SOM's logical realm, but it is nearly useless in SOM's physical realm. Yet 'expert' SOM scientists and mathematicians charge blindly ahead using this 'tool' to work their alchemy. MoQ invalidates induction directly by stating that we cannot predict absolutely what the next evolutionary result will be based on evolutionary history for all classes of Static Patterns of Value. MoQ says induction (within the MoQ's four layers of SPoVs) is myopic.
Provisional truth is one of our most important and valuable tools in science, but we must, if we have integrity, always associate the two words provisional and truth. The word 'provisional' acknowledges the actuality of indeterminate evolution. It also acknowledges the finite intellect of Homo sapiens.
Like SOM, MoQ has an unknown/indefinable which it calls DQ. DQ is just like mass, length, and time. We can describe it (the quality event, the edge of now, direct experience, archetypal change, surprise, etc.). But damn it, we cannot define it! And SOM classical science denies its existence!
For me, that is a large part of the MoQ's integrity. The admission, up front, that part of the new philosophy rests on the unknown. Contrast that with the deceptive essence of SOM. SOM says it can know absolute truth. SOM says it can construct GUTs and TOEs (grand unifying theories and theories of everything). That, to me, is pure SOM arrogance. Pirsig and we experience it everyday.
Why can SOM do this - claim it can explain and know everything?
Because of presumption. SOM presumes reality is divided into two classes: Subjects and Objects. SOM presumes Subjects are insubstantial and Objects are substantial. SOM presumes it can know absolute fact, absolute truth about substance.
Again, why can SOM do this - claim it can explain and know everything?
Because SOM depends upon the truth; truth based upon substantial, observable objective facts! SOM tells us that when it wants to look at something, it can. Not only can it look at objects, but SOM will tell you that those objects can be isolated from all of the rest of reality. As if not to be outdone, SOM further tells us that when it observes an object, that it can make the object hold still and remain unaffected by 'external' effects during the observation.
Now we know, today, via the new science, that is all SOM bull!
But ask SOM about value. What does SOM say? Again, it deceives! It says value does not exist because it is not verifiable and classical science has no way to classify it.
Have a great weekend Lila Squad.
"The complementary view of truth is many truths which are contextual, and by being contextual they leave room for the good to rule. It is not objectivism, which has no place for the good, and it is not relativism, which has no place for truth."
By Hugo Fjelsted Alroe in his email to The Lila Squad on 11 March 1998, 17:44 titled, "LS Re: Rambling on intellect and life."