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Thread: the uncertainty principle

  1. #1 the uncertainty principle 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope
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    This is an element in Physics as I suppose is very well known.

    I wonder if an analogous situation might be said to pertain in the realm of abstract knowledge.

    To my mind the uncertainty principle arises in Physics because the observer of an event comes to intrude upon the event by virtue of the fact that any observation requires an influence on the object being observed , causing the observer and the observed to fuse into a conjoined system and preventing the desired measurement taking place.

    Now to explain why I am wondering if a similar situation might arise in an abstract or intellectual circumstance.

    Suppose you have a choice to make or a judgement to cast about something ..
    Well you reflect for a while and you say , with a greater or lesser degree of certainty, *this is what I think about this*
    Next ,suppose that we are invited to reflect a little more closely and that we succeed in gathering our thoughts and adding to them , either with new evidence or by better organizing our previous reasoning.
    We might find our judgement confirmed or altered nut it is hard to believe that ,if this process was repeated interminably that our mind would not be changed.

    A moral dilemma that may have seemed quite clearly delineated would surely become quite tenuous and shifting.

    In other words ,in the same way as extreme proximity to a physical object blurs rather than clarifies our view of it then an overrefined examination of an intellectual (or moral) situation also quite befuddles the mind.

    So is this true and ,if so, does the analogy with the physical situation hold?
    If it does hold ,is this just coincidence or is there an underlying connection between the 2? (the Material amd the Ideal?)


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  3. #2  
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    what you are argueing is that there is no such thing as right and wrong. only what seems right to some people and what seems wrong to them. it is an arguement that cannot be proven or disproven. determinism in any sort(that would include the physical laws that govern the world) philosophically implies that there is no right or wrong because the system could not evolve in any other way. there is merely a particular sequence of interactions between particles that would cause your brain to release more chemicals that make you feel "happy". if that is your definition of good then yes there is a such thing and reflection on which events will happen would cause you to determine one of them to be prefferable. but if you believe there is a such thing as universal morality then you will quickly find that because the system(let's say society) evolves one way because of the laws of physics, that it well always contain some right and some wrong because physical laws govern the world on such a basic level that there is no such thing as wright and wrong, the equations just don't consider them.

    if newton were right, and there were also a such thing as right and wrong for the mind to even be considering, the law of universal gravitation would look like this "two bodies are attracted to each other with a force equal to the mass of one object times the mass of the other object times the gravitational constant, all divided by the distance between the two squared... unless such an attraction would cause someone to be killed or otherwise injured." this is obviously not the case.

    all in all, you're right. if you reflect on something long enough the line between right and wrong blurs and you break stuff down into a series of events in your head, and you're going to pick the one that physics predicts your brain will direct your body to do.


    physics: accurate, objective, boring
    chemistry: accurate if physics is accurate, slightly subjective, you can blow stuff up
    biology: accurate if chemistry is accurate, somewhat subjective, fascinating
    religion: accurate if people are always right, highly subjective, bewildering
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  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope
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    thanks for your answer. Unfortunately my reply is being plagued by the phenomenom I am attempting to discuss and so I have already abandoned my first draft
    Anyway I instinctively shy away from determinism as being a cop out.
    It reminds me of the way they stone victims in Iran (or is it the Sudan?) where nobody gets to be responsible...
    Apart from that ,yes , I have always felt tha an exact knowledge of what is right is impossible to grasp and by being so tempting to accept furthermore it can be damaging and corrupting.
    However I think it is a different matter if you are talking about the knowledge of what is wrong as it is so easy to verify.
    If you bake a cake with rotten eggs then probably something has gone wrong somewhere.
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  5. #4  
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    your analogy shows that if we bake a cake with rotten eggs it will not taste the way you expect the cake to taste. in this sense it is very wrong. stoning people doesn't turn out the results you have come to expect a civilized criminal justice system to turn out. however in both cases the determination of right vs wrong comes from your ideas of how it should be. if you had no experience with how a cake would taste, you would not think that there was anything bad about the cake, you would only think that cakes in general do not cause you're brain to produce the chemicals that other foods cause it to produce.

    a similar thing applies to stoning, if you had no opinion about what right and wrong was, you would see nothing particularly bad about the stoning of people in iran. you would simply observe that people die as a result of minor infractions against the law. and while my social programing makes me believe that this loss of human life is wrong, i realize that there is nothing "naturally negative" about it, it is just my opinion of the results that this situation produces.
    physics: accurate, objective, boring
    chemistry: accurate if physics is accurate, slightly subjective, you can blow stuff up
    biology: accurate if chemistry is accurate, somewhat subjective, fascinating
    religion: accurate if people are always right, highly subjective, bewildering
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope
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    I will try and follow you down the path you have taken in your argument (it is a diversion from my initial question but none is really addressing it EDIT-I now think I was wrong anyway....).

    I have the gut feeling that when something is *wrong* I will know it to a greater degree then if I find something to be right.

    You maintain that this is just a jarring chemical juxtaposition between my previous experience of a related event.
    That without previous relevant experience this would sinply amount to a novel observation without moral undertones.

    I agree that this does happen but I wonder if you are not arguing in favour of ignorance?

    Surely it is the whole poinf of our limited life experience to acquire experience that can then be used in new situations? (there I can see I have idendified a *good" that I was previously suggestion was anathema....... are contradictions inherently good as Marxism ,I think , would have it?)
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  7. #6  
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    well, even to reffer to life as having a meaning or a point you diverge from science. and although this is a philosophy forum i am attempting to keep this as close to hard science as possible. when you add baking soda to vinegar there is no real "point" to the reaction, only a variety of things it can do due to its endothermic nature and ability to produce pressure. similarly there is no point to life, it a series of chemical reactions within an open system(organisms).

    now of course you can impose a reason to the reaction between baking soda and vinegar, perhaps to split open a water bottle. and you could impose a reason on life, but again it's not a natural reason.
    physics: accurate, objective, boring
    chemistry: accurate if physics is accurate, slightly subjective, you can blow stuff up
    biology: accurate if chemistry is accurate, somewhat subjective, fascinating
    religion: accurate if people are always right, highly subjective, bewildering
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