virus: Discoveries and Inventions

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 6 Feb 1997 15:55:36 -0500

>From: "Wade T. Smith" <>
>Date: Wed, 5 Feb 97 19:11:50 -0500
>Subject: Re: virus: Discoveries and Inventions
>>So I agree: Reality (including the sub-set we are discussing) is not
>>irreal. I disagree: "electrons" are not irreal. Electrons are a very
>>useful invention allowing us to explain, manipulate and predict. The
>>signified is real, the signifier is a fabrication.
>I don't know quite where you ended up there.... I also am saying there is
>a reality to each, the item and the model. I think we agree here...

Maybe. Let me try to put it another way. How many models are possible
(Infinite)? How does one decide which model to use (utility)? Assuming
there is one unchanging objective phenomena, which model is best?
Obviously this depends on the what your goal is. There are a number of
models to choose from and some have greater or lesser utility. Why are
bridges still built using Newtonian assumptions about physics, even though
we know them to be wrong? Answer: becuase the bridges still stand. In
theoretical chemistry calulations can be done at one of several "levels of
theory" taking into account more or less variables, forces and effects.
These models are "real" in that they exist, but they are not "real" in the
same way that the objective pheomena that they signify is "real" (at this
point, I expect someone even more to the "left" in terms of relative
reality to say "who says the phenomena are real?"...I don't feel like
answering that right now).

There is a Zen proverb:
"If one points a finger at the moon, the fool looks at the finger."

Which is often used as a menemonic for this meme I'm trying to communicate.
As I understand it: it is the moon that is "real"...the finger, or the
model, is simply a way of indicating what, specifically, you are talking
about...other indicators (for instance the word "moon") can suffice.

Perhaps was you mean by "Real model" is what I mean by "Useful model"? Am
I getting too hung up in the definition of "Real"? I guess I might be
over-sensitive, given that this list involves many ontological and
epistemological concepts.

>Well, of course it is probably futile to enforce anything with language,
>but in many ways, the definition of community is a group of like
>speakers. And of course there are symbols which reach a great number of
>cultures, so maybe there is a way. But not yet. We can hope. But it is
>most definitely a problem. Is memetics an approach to universalize these
>meanings, to enforce them? Is this not philosophy's great failing?

Maybe we should start a new thread: What means What? I don't have a clear
picture of your thinking in this paragraph. Maybe you could start? How
did (does) philosophy fail to provide universial meaning, why should we
define a community as a group of "like speakers" (and a little more detail
on what you mean by this), etc...

>>Is mathematics a less ambigious invention than poetry?
>Interesting question. I am wont to say that they are separate but equal
>facets of expression, in the traditional way of both supplying their own
>truths, but in this memetic context, I would say poetry is far more
>ambiguous- it uses far more memetic structures.
>I would even be wont to say that mathematics is the most anti-memetic of
>human inventions.... And as such, may be the truest.

Now, that is interesting. I would say that mathematics is the most
obviously memetic of human inventions. Why do you think it is
anti-memetic? I'm unsure of how you are defining "true". Mathematics is
certianly useful and fruitful.


Reed Konsler