Santa Barbara CA
Registered: Dec 2007
It looks like you're right that we won't benefit much from further dialogue, but I'll give it one last shot.
You state that science is the ultimate arbiter of reality. I agree that science takes over from ontology in terms of empirical experiment.
But the topic you bring up, string theory, is a great example of, first, the overlap between ontology and science, and, second, the limits of science and our current ontology.
String theory has been explored seriously for about thirty years now, yet it has yielded no testable predictions. It also posits extra dimensions and other very interesting ontological features. M Theory, the latest version of string theory (under some interpretations) also posits "branes" that may be different universes, which can interact in some ways, possibly explaining dark matter/dark energy and thus satisfying the problems with relativistic gravity that astronomers have observed at the cosmic scale.
Strings are purely theoretical constructs, as are quarks, electrons, etc. They may exist in actuality, but we don't know currently b/c we simply can't peer deep enough to know. They're abstractions, so science at this level is very similar to ontology: it posits constructs and sees if they stick and are helpful in testable predictions, etc.
Here's a great quote from Anton Zeilinger, one of today's preeminent physicists, re the real nature of the photon (from Nature, 2005):
"When analysing quantum interference we can fall into all kinds of traps. The general conceptual problem is that we tend to reify — to take too realistically — concepts like wave and particle. Indeed if we consider the quantum state representing the wave simply as a calculational tool, problems do not arise. In this case, we should not talk about a wave propagating through the double-slit setup or through a Mach–Zehnder interferometer; the quantum state is simply a tool to calculate probabilities. Probabilities of the photon being somewhere? No, we should be even more cautious and only talk about probabilities of a photon detector firing if it is placed somewhere. One might be tempted, as was Einstein, to consider the photon as being localized at some place with us just not knowing that place. But, whenever we talk about a particle, or more specifically a photon, we should only mean that which a ‘click in the detector’ refers to."
So a photon is not, according to Zeilinger, a real thing. Rather, as we understand it today, it is simply the click of a detector indicating some relationship between the photon emiter and the detector - a notion that is supported by my interpretation of Cahill's gebit nodal network ontology as allowing us to drop "energy" as a thing from this ontology and replace it with network connections between gebits.
Last, you have still not given me a single hook to hang my hat on regarding how information can have any existence independent of matter. You have said, thus far, essentially: "Some people like to think of information as fundamental. I have no idea how it might have any independent existence, but I'm fine thinking it does b/c I'm not too concerned about ontology as it's all a silly game really."
I think perhaps we will simply have to agree that you're not interested in ontology.
You can focus on science and mathematics and I'll continue to worry about creating a comprehensive ontology that meets the basic tests of rigor/rationality.
I highly recommend Griffin's Chapter 3 in Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism as an overview of the criteria for a good ontology.
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