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By the way, the problem that decoherence attempts to solve is how it is possible that out of quantum mechanics arises a macroscopic world that is more or less consistent with the Western metaphysics you lambast.

That is the real problem. How do you construct a metaphysics that at the same time contains heuristics for the microscopic and for the macroscopic.

I agree with a lot of people that quantum gravity is likely to result in this new heuristics, but I honestly fail to see how 1) any quantum gravity is going to be testable other than by internal consistency (which you lambast), that is, how experiments are going to be accessible; 2) how knowledge of quantum gravity could affect (or would have affected) political economy.

Feynman once said that the problem with hard-nosed scientists is not that they lack imagination but that what they imagine is constrained by everything they know to be approximately true.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:06:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"other than by internal consistency (which you lambast)"  

???

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 02:11:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I misread you as to at what point Mathematics went wrong.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 02:15:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my complaint was, that 30 years after Goedel showed mathematics was not exactly planted on solid bedrock, mathematicians were still pretending that it was.  

I had no complaint about internal consistency--but what we were getting was faith.  In a sense there was no choice about that, but I thought that in that case we should own up to it.  

Then again, a non-formal proof of consistency, might serve, but--and now I am wandering off-topic, perhaps those funny little symbols were not as important as everybody thought?  I was slowly coming around to the intuitionist view that mathematics should be comprehensible.  Even if the intuitionists treated Cantor very badly--which they did--they weren't wrong about everything.  Hilbert's project had its uses, but the core of it had failed.  It was time to let mathematics be done in a style appropriate to its content.  

So during this period, it was the logicians, not the mathematicians, who were my guides.  They wanted proof of consistency but knew they had not gotten it, and owned up.  They knew they needed to do something about it, too, even if what they did lay outside of logic.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 02:51:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally I think we'd be well served by taking a constructivist approach to mathematics. A lot of the apparent paradoxes and monsters of functional analysis go away if you take a constructivist approach. Which, in fact, is good for applied mathematics such as physics because a lot of conundrums just melt away.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 03:10:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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