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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Jeffrey Schmitz: on 5/19/20 at 2:30am UTC, wrote Dear Dean, It is interesting to hear from the humanities about these...

Luca Valeri: on 5/17/20 at 22:48pm UTC, wrote Dear Dean, I enjoyed a lot to read your well written essay. I endorse...

Ian Durham: on 5/16/20 at 21:50pm UTC, wrote Great essay Dean. It caused me to think of the various work that has been...

Cristinel Stoica: on 5/16/20 at 7:37am UTC, wrote I enjoyed this essay very much! Very logical and deep analysis. Its...

Michael Kewming: on 5/12/20 at 22:46pm UTC, wrote Hi Dean, Thanks for a beautifully written essay. Framing the Godel's...

Malcolm Riddoch: on 5/12/20 at 5:18am UTC, wrote Hi Dean, and thank you for this wonderfully philosophical essay! Our...

Edwin Klingman: on 4/26/20 at 22:39pm UTC, wrote Dear Dean, You argue for “deep incompleteness” with respect to our...

Boris Egorov: on 4/18/20 at 15:22pm UTC, wrote Dear Dean, Thank you for the interesting essay. I agree with you that...


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FQXi FORUM
September 19, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Deep Incompleteness: What Laplace's Demon Doesn't Know by Dean Rickles [refresh]
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Author Dean Rickles wrote on Mar. 20, 2020 @ 14:04 GMT
Essay Abstract

This essay argues for a deep incompleteness infecting our knowledge both of the ultimate nature of reality and, by extension, the problem of why existence. Our way into the problems is through a slightly an unorthodox treatment of Laplace's Demon.

Author Bio

Dean Rickles is Professor of History and Philosophy of Modern Physics at the University of Sydney, where he co-directs the Sydney Centre for Time. Specializing in quantum gravity, his books include A Brief History of String Theory: From Dual Models to M-Theory (Springer, 2016) and Covered in Deep Mist: The Development of Quantum Gravity, 1916-1956 (Oxford University Press, 2020). His current projects include a biography of physicist John Wheeler and a 3-volume historical investigation of the problem of why there is something rather than nothing.

Download Essay PDF File

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 04:27 GMT
Respected Professor Dean Rickles,

Nice arguments please....Your words in Page 2 in foot note...........Ultimately, my claim is that the impossibility of a theory of everything is the purely epistemological problem of not knowing what the world is made of, as evidenced by our constant, often radically changing theories. It is the lack of direct access to the nature of things that forbids this, and this is a result of finding ourselves part of the system we aim to study......................

I say, The nature and Universe are having hidden secrets still and the man is yet to find out many. The more he finds the more will unwrap....

I feel some of your concepts are represented in my essay also. Just Have a look at “A properly deciding, Computing and Predicting new theory’s Philosophy”

Best regards

=snp

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Mar. 22, 2020 @ 09:10 GMT
Dear Dean,

once again, you present an intriguing and well-argued essay. The initial question you pose---about how far we can stretch Gödelian results---is something that sometimes raises some eyebrows, and in principle, with good reason: Gödel's theorems have a very precisely defined range of applicability, that of axiomatic systems with a certain expressive power. Hence, or so the...

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Harrison Crecraft wrote on Mar. 28, 2020 @ 21:55 GMT
Dear Dr. Rickles,

Thank you for a well-written and thought-provoking essay. You clearly describe the problem of completely describing a universe, when its description requires a split between an observer and the rest of the universe. But what if this spit is not arbitrary, but is an essential feature of an objective but contextual physical reality?

In my essay, I outline the general postulates for the “orthodox” interpretation of physics (HCM in my essay). The key postulate for the orthodox interpretation is postulate 4, which can be interpreted to state that the universe has no ambient surroundings. When expressed this way, it is accepted as obvious and without question. However, in my essay, I recast the postulate as asserting that physical reality exists in complete and perfect isolation from its positive-temperature ambient background, and I further argue that even the universe itself has an ambient background defined by the 2.7 K cosmic microwave background. When expressed this way, postulate 4 is seen as an idealization that does not exist in reality. There is no perfect isolation, and there is no ambient background at absolute zero. I refer to this interpretation, where any physical system necessarily exists within the context of its ambient background, as the DDCM. Perfect and complete description of a system as it exists within the context of its actual ambient background is defined by perfect reversible observation and measurement by an ambient observer.

I would value your thoughts on the relevance of my analysis on your excellent essay.

Best regard,

Harrison

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Apr. 15, 2020 @ 14:09 GMT
Dear Prof. Rickles,

thank you for a clear and well argued essay. It contains a number of unconventional elemens that are very interesting (I particularly liked how you related these problems to ancient Insian philosophy and Jung's work).

If you have time, I would appreciate if you can have a look at my essay as well.

All good wishes,

Flavio

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Boris Egorov wrote on Apr. 18, 2020 @ 15:22 GMT
Dear Dean,

Thank you for the interesting essay. I agree with you that science gives no direct access to truth. What we believe is right today can be refuted tomorrow and our current worldview can be replaced by another one. This is how any scientific revolution works.

I wish you good luck

Boris

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Apr. 26, 2020 @ 22:39 GMT
Dear Dean,

You argue for “deep incompleteness” with respect to our knowledge of ontology, focused on the ‘observer-system’ split (or ‘mind/world’ split) as if these are fixed boundaries. I do not believe you have exhausted the possibilities and in fact present a perspective that I believe offers a solution you have not considered: Deciding on the nature of time and space.

I invite you to read my (updated) essay and welcome comments, pro or con.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Malcolm Riddoch wrote on May. 12, 2020 @ 05:18 GMT
Hi Dean,

and thank you for this wonderfully philosophical essay! Our phenomenal finitude as part of the whole that sustains us is where I start, and from Everett's perspective we are just entangled subsystems of the wave function of the universe where as you point out so forcefully, "a subsystem cannot observe a totality of which it is part".

In order to know the totality of the whole, the daemon would have to interact with the whole and so enter into and become entangled with it. And if one might stand free omniscient outside the whole system, I have the feeling that there would be nothing to see there at all, entanglement being that which 'gives us' observers as something from nothing.

Thanks!

Malcolm

Je suis, nous sommes Wigner!

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Michael James Kewming wrote on May. 12, 2020 @ 22:46 GMT
Hi Dean,

Thanks for a beautifully written essay. Framing the Godel's theorem connection to reflexivity was a great line of inquiry. As you point out, Laplace Demon must be something outside the system with access to an infinite amount of resources if it is going to look inwards to the universe as some deterministic machine.

It might be interesting to connect the notions of reflexivity (the split between world and I) with indeterministic theories such as statistical mechanics. Any I immersed in a world will read inputs/output back to that world. However since it doesn't have access to everything in its own self-contained hardware, it will also input/output some level of noise. In any case, you might find my essay noisy machines interesting.

Thanks,

Michael

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on May. 16, 2020 @ 07:37 GMT
I enjoyed this essay very much! Very logical and deep analysis. Its conclusion is the way I interpret the first two verses of Chapter 56 in Tao Te Ching (I linked to them to avoid giving direct spoilers in the comment). (By "those who" from these verses I don't necessarily understand persons, but rather states of experience corresponding to different coarse grainings, more details in this comment). Cheers, Cristi

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Member Ian Durham wrote on May. 16, 2020 @ 21:50 GMT
Great essay Dean. It caused me to think of the various work that has been done over the years on building a minimal ontology of the world. I have muddled around with this myself over the years (I think we may have even discussed it at one point or another). The subject/object division is, of course, at the very heart of any such ontology (if it exists -- as George Ellis has suggested, there may not be a minimum or a maximum). The ancient Buddhist and Hindu writers had some very interesting things to say about this. The so-called "mind only" school of Buddhist thought is particularly interesting in this regard, though one could argue that it denies any objective truth or reality.

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Luca Valeri wrote on May. 17, 2020 @ 22:48 GMT
Dear Dean,

I enjoyed a lot to read your well written essay. I endorse deeply "deep incompleteness". But it is difficult to think away the metaphysical Laplace's demon: a demon that stands for the deep reality that cannot be known by things within that reality. But which stands as judge, whether our theories are truth or not, or knows that our knowledge is necessarily incomplete.

The...

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Jeffrey Michael Schmitz wrote on May. 19, 2020 @ 02:30 GMT
Dear Dean,

It is interesting to hear from the humanities about these subjects. This essay has the framework of a top-notch history of Philosophy lecture. This was one of the few essays that left me wanting more.

You have changed my mind on Jung. What little I have read about Jung presented him more about ornamentation than enlightenment. Great for fiction writers, but of little use those wishing to find the nature of things.

My only small critique is that I agreed with everything right away, there was no "Donald Duck is God" statement that you had to go uphill into the wind and rain to defend.

Best of luck,

Jeff Schmitz

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