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Elegance

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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20 November 2019 17:06
 
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:14 AM

Remember, subjective and objective can intermingle quite regularly.  Having a favorite color is a subjective choice, but if a person’s house is pink, all their clothes are pink, and all their furniture is pink, the evidence that their favorite color is probably pink is objective.  It isn’t objective that pink is the best color, rather, we can objectively observe and use evidence to make a fairly solid prediction about what subjective choice that person made.

Ok. If I follow you are describing inference to the best explanation based on a preponderance of evidence, yes?

If that’s the case then it seems like a wash at best given that the operative evidence is our experience of the world. On balance this would actually seem to favor number one. Given that most people, most of time seem to perceive an elegant and ordered universe… even if for superstitious reasons. What rebuttal can we have other than our own, contrary set of experiences?

What am I missing?

 
Garret
 
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Garret
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20 November 2019 18:10
 

If a thing happens, there is only one actual reason that it happened.

Why do we see the diversity of life on our planet?  Both answers of evolution and creation cannot simultaneously be correct (neither it is a true dichotomy, it is not a requirement that one of the be correct).  If evolution is true, then a creator is unnecessary and does not actually explain anything, and if a creation is true, then evolution is just is a false reality created by the limitations of out ability to perceive the truth.

If for the moment we operate under the assumption that evolution is true, then there is significant disagreement that it is elegant.  To some, it is abhorrent.  Therefore, whether or not we view the underlying truth of reality is dependent on perspective, and the elegance is subjective (#2).

If #1 were true AND we still assume that evolution is true, then we would not see groups of people decrying how it makes no sense and is an abomination.

For the purposes of our discussion, we can completely reverse our assumption and instead assume that creation is true, then it is the scientific community who is rejecting the elegance of the religious explanation and seeking a way to tear it down.

I also suspect that if you want, I can try to find scientists who argue that evolution isn’t elegant at all.  Instead it is random chance selection that largely results in failure, and that the whole process is messy and prone to mistakes.

Lastly, if we adhere to #1, this can only be true if we ignore whether or not any given explanation for the operation of the universe has any actual bearing on reality.  If we drop this as a requirement and ask “are people likely to view their beliefs as elegant?”  Then I think the general trend will be yes, but I can still find many, many examples of how people explain reality that even they will admit are messy and disordered (ie, lacking elegance).

[ Edited: 20 November 2019 18:12 by Garret]
 
EN
 
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EN
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20 November 2019 18:20
 
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:10 PM

  Both answers of evolution and creation cannot simultaneously be correct (neither it is a true dichotomy, it is not a requirement that one of the be correct).  If evolution is true, then a creator is unnecessary and does not actually explain anything, and if a creation is true, then evolution is just is a false reality created by the limitations of out ability to perceive the truth.

 

I’m not arguing for either, but this statement has some problems. It is conceivable that an intelligent creator could have programmed a world with laws that allowed evolution. Richard Dawkins had some students write a program that allowed for natural selection of various alternatives, and it led to a sort of “evolution” of simulated beings. (I read about it in one of his books!). So creation and evolution are not necessarily inconsistent.  Carry on.

 
Garret
 
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Garret
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20 November 2019 18:31
 

Evolution is an explanation that is entirely natural.

Any explanation that includes God is now a supernatural explanation.

Or…

It is a “God of the Gaps” argument.

Neither of those is a natural explanation, and therefore, neither can be added onto a natural explanation like evolution without fundamentally changing the nature of that explanation.

Also note….. I am not giving an exhaustive list of all possible explanations about how the diversity of life came about.  There are many, many others.  I am posing two parts of a debate to provide an illustrative example.  Note that I am not including Muslim, Hindi, or Cherokee explanations.  I have already acknowledged that it is not a true dichotomy between just those two examples.  I still stand by that if someone attempts to co-opt a scientific explanation into their supernatural beliefs, they are now fundamentally changing the nature of that explanation and it is no longer scientific.  Not unless they can also provide evidence to support their supernatural beliefs.  In the same way that if Hindu people were to co-opt a single story from Christianity, the new resulting story would not be a Christian one, but a Hindi one.

[ Edited: 20 November 2019 18:36 by Garret]
 
burt
 
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burt
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20 November 2019 18:31
 
EN - 20 November 2019 06:20 PM
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:10 PM

  Both answers of evolution and creation cannot simultaneously be correct (neither it is a true dichotomy, it is not a requirement that one of the be correct).  If evolution is true, then a creator is unnecessary and does not actually explain anything, and if a creation is true, then evolution is just is a false reality created by the limitations of out ability to perceive the truth.

 

I’m not arguing for either, but this statement has some problems. It is conceivable that an intelligent creator could have programmed a world with laws that allowed evolution. Richard Dawkins had some students write a program that allowed for natural selection of various alternatives, and it led to a sort of “evolution” of simulated beings. (I read about it in one of his books!). So creation and evolution are not necessarily inconsistent.  Carry on.

Indeed. Read a SF story once where the guy running Universe Constructors was given the task of building a universe. But each time an act of actual creation out of nothing was required he ran up against objections from various special interest groups so he finally just laid down some physical laws and let evolution do it.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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20 November 2019 20:31
 
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:14 AM
Brick Bungalow - 20 November 2019 01:17 AM
Garret - 19 November 2019 02:06 PM

I think I can make an objective case that its #2.

Consider for a moment the religious v. scientific debate over evolution.

From the scientific perspective evolution is often considered elegant.  It is a relatively simple process that produces mind-boggling complexity and beauty.  It is awe inspiring and amazing that the same process that produced me also produces bacteria and great basin bristlecone pine trees.

From the anti-evolution religious perspective (not all religious people, just those that vehemently oppose ideas like evolution), the concept of evolution is abhorrent, improbable, and certainly not elegant.  It is so confusing and incomprehensible that it cannot possibly be true.

Same idea, and yet people view it completely differently.

Sean Carroll is on record saying that he doesn’t believe an elegant solution exists to explain quantum mechanics.  He thinks whatever mathematical equations that finally solve a lot of the current unknowns are likely to be messy and complicated.

Hmm. I feel like elegance is about as subjective as concepts get… so I’m not sure how it would be possible. Although I can certainly appreciate any number of cases for number two.

That’s my point.  Elegance is subjective, and my point uses objective evidence to demonstrate that.  You embedded within #2 that the concept of elegance is subjective.

Your “objective evidence” being the fact that two groups disagree? Suppose you said the earth orbits the sun and I said the sun orbits the earth. Can I use your same logic to claim that the orbital relationship between the earth and sun is “subjective?” What about the possibility that one of your two groups is mistaken?

I’m not making a case for elegance being objective here, just questioning whether your “objective evidence” proves it.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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20 November 2019 23:37
 

Without human perception or something like it, how would the universe know it possessed elegance?

Who knows what other qualities the universe may possess that we are unprepared to perceive? Or is the elegance all in our perception and what we make of it?

 
 
Garret
 
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Garret
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20 November 2019 23:53
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 20 November 2019 08:31 PM
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:14 AM
Brick Bungalow - 20 November 2019 01:17 AM
Garret - 19 November 2019 02:06 PM

I think I can make an objective case that its #2.

Consider for a moment the religious v. scientific debate over evolution.

From the scientific perspective evolution is often considered elegant.  It is a relatively simple process that produces mind-boggling complexity and beauty.  It is awe inspiring and amazing that the same process that produced me also produces bacteria and great basin bristlecone pine trees.

From the anti-evolution religious perspective (not all religious people, just those that vehemently oppose ideas like evolution), the concept of evolution is abhorrent, improbable, and certainly not elegant.  It is so confusing and incomprehensible that it cannot possibly be true.

Same idea, and yet people view it completely differently.

Sean Carroll is on record saying that he doesn’t believe an elegant solution exists to explain quantum mechanics.  He thinks whatever mathematical equations that finally solve a lot of the current unknowns are likely to be messy and complicated.

Hmm. I feel like elegance is about as subjective as concepts get… so I’m not sure how it would be possible. Although I can certainly appreciate any number of cases for number two.

That’s my point.  Elegance is subjective, and my point uses objective evidence to demonstrate that.  You embedded within #2 that the concept of elegance is subjective.

Your “objective evidence” being the fact that two groups disagree? Suppose you said the earth orbits the sun and I said the sun orbits the earth. Can I use your same logic to claim that the orbital relationship between the earth and sun is “subjective?” What about the possibility that one of your two groups is mistaken?

I’m not making a case for elegance being objective here, just questioning whether your “objective evidence” proves it.

You’ve completely misunderstood my example.  At no point did I claim or argue that scientifically derived concepts are subjective.  I didn’t say it.  I didn’t imply it.  If you inferred it from what I wrote, then you misread what I wrote.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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21 November 2019 10:11
 
Garret - 20 November 2019 11:53 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 20 November 2019 08:31 PM
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:14 AM
Brick Bungalow - 20 November 2019 01:17 AM
Garret - 19 November 2019 02:06 PM

I think I can make an objective case that its #2.

Consider for a moment the religious v. scientific debate over evolution.

From the scientific perspective evolution is often considered elegant.  It is a relatively simple process that produces mind-boggling complexity and beauty.  It is awe inspiring and amazing that the same process that produced me also produces bacteria and great basin bristlecone pine trees.

From the anti-evolution religious perspective (not all religious people, just those that vehemently oppose ideas like evolution), the concept of evolution is abhorrent, improbable, and certainly not elegant.  It is so confusing and incomprehensible that it cannot possibly be true.

Same idea, and yet people view it completely differently.

Sean Carroll is on record saying that he doesn’t believe an elegant solution exists to explain quantum mechanics.  He thinks whatever mathematical equations that finally solve a lot of the current unknowns are likely to be messy and complicated.

Hmm. I feel like elegance is about as subjective as concepts get… so I’m not sure how it would be possible. Although I can certainly appreciate any number of cases for number two.

That’s my point.  Elegance is subjective, and my point uses objective evidence to demonstrate that.  You embedded within #2 that the concept of elegance is subjective.

Your “objective evidence” being the fact that two groups disagree? Suppose you said the earth orbits the sun and I said the sun orbits the earth. Can I use your same logic to claim that the orbital relationship between the earth and sun is “subjective?” What about the possibility that one of your two groups is mistaken?

I’m not making a case for elegance being objective here, just questioning whether your “objective evidence” proves it.

You’ve completely misunderstood my example.  At no point did I claim or argue that scientifically derived concepts are subjective.  I didn’t say it.  I didn’t imply it.  If you inferred it from what I wrote, then you misread what I wrote.

You’re blurring your argument by introducing the concept of “scientifically derived.” Isn’t claiming that a concept can be “scientifically derived” just another way of saying it’s “objective?” Or “not subjective?” That it does not depend on belief or bias?

What you’re saying now, whether you intend to or not, is that your disagreement-among-groups argument hinges on prior knowledge that elegance is not a “scientifically derived concept.” Otherwise, the disagreement-among-groups argument wouldn’t apply, just as it doesn’t apply to orbits. So in other words, as long as elegance is already known to be subjective (i.e., not “scientifically derived”), then we can use your disagreement-among-groups argument as “objective evidence to demonstrate that [elegance is subjective].” Brilliant!

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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21 November 2019 16:55
 
Nhoj Morley - 20 November 2019 11:37 PM

Without human perception or something like it, how would the universe know it possessed elegance?

Who knows what other qualities the universe may possess that we are unprepared to perceive? Or is the elegance all in our perception and what we make of it?

Agreed. I don’t think these are scientific or even rational measurements. (They aren’t irrational either)

The point, for me is that we exist within the world. We don’t have some independent vantage point. Our consciousness gives us a window but that window is, itself a constituent and expression the very system we are evaluating. This, too is merely inference and I don’t propose to prove it. You may accept it or not.

If I experience elegance or inelegance as an attribute of the total system it can’t be objective because there is no control. There is no null set of worlds with which to establish a spectrum of value. It is an aesthetic judgment. My only reference is my own creative imagination of a different world. 

When I ask a question like this I’m not really fishing for argument or persuasion. It’s more just curiosity about your mind. How do you think about a question like this?

 
Garret
 
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Garret
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21 November 2019 19:26
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 November 2019 10:11 AM
Garret - 20 November 2019 11:53 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 20 November 2019 08:31 PM
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:14 AM
Brick Bungalow - 20 November 2019 01:17 AM
Garret - 19 November 2019 02:06 PM

I think I can make an objective case that its #2.

Consider for a moment the religious v. scientific debate over evolution.

From the scientific perspective evolution is often considered elegant.  It is a relatively simple process that produces mind-boggling complexity and beauty.  It is awe inspiring and amazing that the same process that produced me also produces bacteria and great basin bristlecone pine trees.

From the anti-evolution religious perspective (not all religious people, just those that vehemently oppose ideas like evolution), the concept of evolution is abhorrent, improbable, and certainly not elegant.  It is so confusing and incomprehensible that it cannot possibly be true.

Same idea, and yet people view it completely differently.

Sean Carroll is on record saying that he doesn’t believe an elegant solution exists to explain quantum mechanics.  He thinks whatever mathematical equations that finally solve a lot of the current unknowns are likely to be messy and complicated.

Hmm. I feel like elegance is about as subjective as concepts get… so I’m not sure how it would be possible. Although I can certainly appreciate any number of cases for number two.

That’s my point.  Elegance is subjective, and my point uses objective evidence to demonstrate that.  You embedded within #2 that the concept of elegance is subjective.

Your “objective evidence” being the fact that two groups disagree? Suppose you said the earth orbits the sun and I said the sun orbits the earth. Can I use your same logic to claim that the orbital relationship between the earth and sun is “subjective?” What about the possibility that one of your two groups is mistaken?

I’m not making a case for elegance being objective here, just questioning whether your “objective evidence” proves it.

You’ve completely misunderstood my example.  At no point did I claim or argue that scientifically derived concepts are subjective.  I didn’t say it.  I didn’t imply it.  If you inferred it from what I wrote, then you misread what I wrote.

You’re blurring your argument by introducing the concept of “scientifically derived.” Isn’t claiming that a concept can be “scientifically derived” just another way of saying it’s “objective?” Or “not subjective?” That it does not depend on belief or bias?

What you’re saying now, whether you intend to or not, is that your disagreement-among-groups argument hinges on prior knowledge that elegance is not a “scientifically derived concept.” Otherwise, the disagreement-among-groups argument wouldn’t apply, just as it doesn’t apply to orbits. So in other words, as long as elegance is already known to be subjective (i.e., not “scientifically derived”), then we can use your disagreement-among-groups argument as “objective evidence to demonstrate that [elegance is subjective].” Brilliant!

Nope.  That still isn’t what I said.

If you’re going to try to poke holes in what I said, you should at least understand what I said in the first place.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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22 November 2019 01:30
 
Brick Bungalow - 21 November 2019 04:55 PM

Agreed. I don’t think these are scientific or even rational measurements. (They aren’t irrational either)

The point, for me is that we exist within the world. We don’t have some independent vantage point. Our consciousness gives us a window but that window is, itself a constituent and expression the very system we are evaluating. This, too is merely inference and I don’t propose to prove it. You may accept it or not.

If I experience elegance or inelegance as an attribute of the total system it can’t be objective because there is no control. There is no null set of worlds with which to establish a spectrum of value. It is an aesthetic judgment. My only reference is my own creative imagination of a different world. 

When I ask a question like this I’m not really fishing for argument or persuasion. It’s more just curiosity about your mind. How do you think about a question like this?

It is plain that curiosity is behind your post. I have already had this argument with myself. Once, I would have accepted your comments as read. I appreciated the elegance of the philosophical conundrums and illusions of self, consciousness and agency. Any apparent absurdity is mere mental short-comings and this view is what enlightened humans have to learn to accept and live with. Like accepting uncertainty as your lord and savior, only it isn’t a lord and doesn’t save you from anything.

The case is nicely packaged in your post. In deciding that there must be something wrong with it, I am breaking faith with The Boss and most of his fans. The flaw screams out now and there is no shutting it up. It falls apart where you say we have “a window”. Of course we do have such a blessing, and let’s say that it comes from being a living product of biological evolution instead of consciousness. It is, as you say, a single vantage point. As a tool of science or rationality, it has some problems and fundamental limitations. Yet we ascribe some amazing abilities to it and admit that it is absurd to do so.

Abilities like rationality might seem less amazing if we stopped attributing them to the window. It is only a single vantage point that sees the physical world which is its reality. It is a reference or control to further perceptions of the window. That means flexible internal vantage points for whom the window is reality. That need not suggest anything as elegant as a soul or receding homunculi. The window is a convergence of perception. Why presume our brains can have only one? It seems like one but what if that is the real illusion to crack?

 
 
LadyJane
 
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22 November 2019 08:24
 

Elegance can only emerge from Vulgarity.  Like Order in the Chaos.

The succeeding results of evolutionary struggle seem like a thing of beauty once you understand how the process unfolds.  It’s all aesthetical until figuring that out.  Which is why we can appreciate music without reading notes or a painting without understanding colour theory.  Or, to refine the tapestry metaphor, if we were looking at the backside of the tapestry we’d be staring directly at the inner workings of the weaver’s pattern.  With all its tricks and flaws.  But we’re not born looking at the back of the tapestry.  We are born facing the front side.  Where the landscape of the world meets the limits of our perception within a landscape of the universe that meets the limits of our imagination.  We aren’t looking at both directly at the same time.  And the concept of beauty is based mostly on a feeling.  The grander view only avails itself when we learn to appreciate it from all the angles.

One ant marching looks like a mental disorder.  Many ants look like an army.

 
 
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22 November 2019 09:29
 
burt - 20 November 2019 06:31 PM
EN - 20 November 2019 06:20 PM
Garret - 20 November 2019 06:10 PM

  Both answers of evolution and creation cannot simultaneously be correct (neither it is a true dichotomy, it is not a requirement that one of the be correct).  If evolution is true, then a creator is unnecessary and does not actually explain anything, and if a creation is true, then evolution is just is a false reality created by the limitations of out ability to perceive the truth.

 

I’m not arguing for either, but this statement has some problems. It is conceivable that an intelligent creator could have programmed a world with laws that allowed evolution. Richard Dawkins had some students write a program that allowed for natural selection of various alternatives, and it led to a sort of “evolution” of simulated beings. (I read about it in one of his books!). So creation and evolution are not necessarily inconsistent.  Carry on.

Indeed. Read a SF story once where the guy running Universe Constructors was given the task of building a universe. But each time an act of actual creation out of nothing was required he ran up against objections from various special interest groups so he finally just laid down some physical laws and let evolution do it.

Why would somebody inquire whether the universe is created? It’s a pretty old idea, and we don’t know what sorts of ideas predate it. It’s an inquiry, but the capacity to tell stories that are entertaining to me is just a nice feature of an organism that tells stories.

Is it really so difficult to figure out how somebody who could create crude change in his environment would inflate the idea in the telling of fun stories about what might possibly be the case? Stories about what might possibly be the case are quite generally based on something known to be the case, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Creativity is there simply in the telling of stories, but it’s not an unrestricted creativity, as already pointed out.

As long as we keep inquiring, and keep wanting to make more inquiries it’s OK. Expect the unexpected, as Joe Blake said. Trouble with that is that when it happens, you were expecting it, and that leaves you vulnerable to the truly unexpected.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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22 November 2019 10:22
 
Brick Bungalow - 18 November 2019 04:27 PM
Jb8989 - 18 November 2019 12:54 PM

Do I have to choose!? That was a beautiful post. It reminds of the PR thread about whether beauty existed in objective reality because it was a purely angular and geometric understanding of things.

I adore the concepts of elegance and grace. In fact it was my people here who put me onto the beauty of the flow of movement.

Of course not. There is no dichotomy. I am merely trying to survey peoples perceptions.

If we have to frame it as a switch I could simply ask, is the universe elegant or inelegant, on balance?

I think things like elegance, grace, and beauty exist objectively. Think about it, we’re defined by how similarly limited we are. To stand out from that naturally is something. And it’s not like everyone can’t tell. They’re all in agreement whether they admit it or not because they’re all preoccupied trying to have it. When someone who truly does enters the scene it’s palpable, and I’d argue even cross cultural. Of course we can’t know a sensation. We can feel them in ourselves but we can’t know anyone else’s, and the disconnect is what we call subjectivity. But I think there’s a general social agreement on things like elegence and beauty that might just be a mathematical recognition of things.

 
 
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