E Prime, truth and Plato

A collection of posts regarding E Prime and my part in the discussions (I am Basho)
Edited for clarity (taken out sigs etc)

Names are in BOLD

ppowers
Site Admin
Location: Redwood City, CA

E and E-Prime Taken from “Quantum Psychology” by Robert Anton Wilson* Note the word “sombunall” translates to “some but not all”

In 1933, in Science and Sanity, Alfred Korzybski proposed that we should abolish the “is of identity” from the English language. (The “is of identity” takes the form X is a Y. e.g., “Joe is a Communist,” “Mary is a dumb file-clerk,” “The universe is a giant machine,” etc.) In 1949, D. David Bourland Jr. proposed the abolition of all forms of the words “is” or “to be” and the Bourland proposal (English without “isness”) he called E-Prime, or English-Prime.

A few scientists have taken to writing in E-Prime (notable Dr. Albert Ellis and Dr. E.W. Kellogg III). Bourland, in a recent (not-yet-published) paper tells of a few cases in which scientific reports, unsatisfactory to sombunall members of a research group, suddenly made sense and became acceptable when re-written in E-Prime. By and large, however, E-Prime has not yet caught on either in learned circles or in popular speech.

(Oddly, most physicists write in E-Prime a large part of the time, due to the influence of Operationalism — the philosophy that tells us to define things by operations performed — but few have any awareness of E-prime as a discipline and most of them lapse into “isness” statements all too frequently, thereby confusing themselves and their readers. ) Nonetheless, E-Prime seems to solve many problems that otherwise appear intractable, and it also serves as an antibiotic against what Korzybski called “demonological thinking.” Most of this book employs E-Prime so the reader could begin to get acquainted with this new way of mapping the world; in a few instances I allowed normal English, and its “isness” to intrude again (how many of you noticed that?), while discussing some of the weird and superstitious thinking that exists throughout our society and always occurs when “is” creeps into our concepts. (As a clue or warning, I placed each “is” in dubious quotation marks, to highlight its central role in the confusions there discussed).

As everybody with a home computer knows, the software can change the functioning of the hardware in radical and sometimes startling ways. The
first law of computers — so ancient that some claim it dates back to dark, Cthulhoid aeons when giant saurians and Richard Nixons still dominated the earth — tells us succinctly, “Garbage In, Garbage Out” (or GIGO for short).

The wrong software guarantees wrong answers, or total gibberish. Conversely, the correct software, if you find it, will often “miraculously” solve problems that had hitherto appeared intractable. Since the brain does not receive raw data, but edits data as we receive it, we need to understand the software the brain uses. The case for using E-Prime rests on the simple proposition that “isness” sets the brain into a medieval Aristotelian framework and makes it impossible to understand modern problems and opportunities. A classic case of GIGO, in short. Removing “isness” and writing/thinking only and always in operational/existential language sets us, conversely, in a modern universe where we can successfully deal with modern issues.

To begin to get the hang of E-Prime, consider the following, the first sentence written in Standard English and the second in English Prime.

Standard English
1. The photon is a wave.

English Prime
1. The photon behaves as a wave when constrained by certain instruments.

Standard English
2. The photon is a particle.

English Prime
2. The photon appears as a particle when constrained by other instruments.

Standard English
3. John is unhappy and grouchy.

English Prime
3. John appears unhappy and grouchy in the office.

Standard English
4. John is bright and cheerful.

English Prime
4. John appears bright and cheerful on holiday at the beach.

Standard English
5. The car involved in the hit-and-run accident was a blue Ford.

English Prime
5. In memory, I think I recall the car involved in the hit-and-run accident as a blue Ford.

Standard English
6. That is a fascist idea.

English Prime
6. That seems like a fascist idea to me.

Standard English
7. Beethoven is better than Mozart.

English Prime
7. In my present mixed state of musical education and ignorance Beethoven seems better than Mozart to me.

Standard English
8. Lady Chatterly’s lover is a pornographic novel.

English Prime
8. Lady Chatterly’s lover seems like a pornographic novel to me.

Standard English
9. Grass is green.

English Prime
9. Grass registers as green to most human eyes.

Standard English
10. The first man stabbed the second man with a knife.

English Prime
10. I think I saw the first man stab the second man with a knife.

In the first example a “metaphysical” or Aristotelian formulation in Standard English becomes an operational or existential formulation when rewritten in English Prime. This may appear of interest only to philosophers and scientists of an operationalist/phenomenologist bias, but consider what happens when we move to the second example.

Clearly, written in Standard English, “The photon is a wave,” and “The photon is a particle” contradict each other, just like the sentences “Robin is a boy” and “Robin is a girl.” Nonetheless, all through the nineteenth century physicists found themselves debating about this and, by the early 1920s, it became obvious that the experimental evidence depended on the instruments or the instrumental set-up (design) of the total experiment. One type of experiment always showed light traveling in waves, and another type always showed light traveling as discrete particles.

This contradiction created considerable consternation. As noted earlier, some quantum theorists joked about “wavicles.” Others proclaimed in despair that “the universe is not rational” (by which they meant to indicate that the universe does not follow Aristotelian logic. ) Still others looked hopefully for the definitive experiment (not yet attained in 1990)which would clearly prove whether photons “are” waves or particles.

If we look, again, at the translations into English Prime, we see that no contradiction now exists at all, no “paradox,” no “irrationality” in the universe. We also find that we have constrained ourselves to talk about what actually happened in spacetime, whereas in Standard English we allowed ourselves to talk about something that has never been observed in spacetime at all — the “isness” or “whatness” or Aristotelian “essence” of the photon. (Niels Bohr’s Complementarity Principle and Copenhagen Interpretation, the technical resolutions of the wave/particle duality within physics, amount to telling physicists to adopt “the spirit of E-Prime” without quite articulating E-Prime itself.)

The weakness of Aristotelian “isness” or “whatness” statements lies in their assumption of indwelling “thingness” — the assumption that every “object” contains what the cynical German philosopher Max Stirner called “spooks.” Thus in Moliere’s famous joke, an ignorant doctor tries to impress some even more ignorant lay persons by “explaining” that opium makes us sleepy because it has a “sleep-inducing property” in it. By contrast a scientific or operational statement would define precisely how the structure of the opium molecule chemically bonds to specific receptor structures in the brain, describing actual events in the spacetime continuum.

In simpler words, the Aristotelian universe assumes an assembly of “things” with “essences” or “spooks” inside of them, where the modern scientific (or existentialist) universe assumes a network of structural relationships. (Look at the first two samples of Standard English and English Prime again, to see this distinction more clearly.)

Moliere’s physician does not seem nearly as comical as the theology promulgated by the Vatican. According to Thomist Aristotelianism (the official Vatican philosophy) “things” not only have indwelling “essences” or “spooks” but also have external “accidents” or appearances. This “explains” the Miracle of the Transubstantiation. In this astounding, marvelous, totally wonderful, even mind-boggling Miracle, a piece of bread changes into the body part of a Jew who lived 2000 years ago.

Now the “accidents” — which include everything you can observe about the bread, with your senses, or with the most subtle scientific instruments — admittedly do not change. To your eyes or taste buds or electron microscopes the bread has undergone no change at all. It doesn’t even weigh as much as a human body, but retains the weight of a small piece of bread. Nonetheless, to Catholics, after the Miracle (which any priest can perform) the bread “is” the body of the aforesaid dead Jew, one Yeshua ben Yusef, who the goys of the Vatican call Jesus Christ. In other words, the “essence” of the bread “is” the dead Jew.

It appears obvious that, within this framework, the “essence” of the bread can “be” anything, or can “be” asserted to “be” anything. It could “be” the essence of the Easter Bunny, or it could “be” Jesus and the Easter Bunny both, or it could “be” the Five Original Marx Brothers, or it could “be” a million other spooks happily co-existing in the realm outside spacetime where such metaphysical entities appear to reside.

Even more astounding, this Miracle can only happen if the priest has a Willy. Protestants, Jews, Zen Buddhists etc. have ordained many female clergy-persons in recent decades, but the Vatican remains firm in the principle that only a male — a human with a Willy — can transform the “essence” of bread into the “essence” of a dead body.

Like the cannibalism underlying this Rite, this phallus-worship dates back to Stone Age ideas about “essences” that can be transferred from one organism to another. Ritual homosexuality, as distinguished from homosexuality-for-fun, played a prominent role in many of the pagan fertility cults that got incorporated into the Catholic metaphysics. See Frazer’s Golden Bough and Wright’s Worship of the Generative Organs. It requires a phallus to transmute the bread into flesh because some of our early ancestors believed it requires a phallus to do any great work of
Magick.)

In Standard English we may discuss all sorts of metaphysical and spooky matters, often without noticing that we have entered the realms of theology and demonology, whereas in English Prime we can only discuss actual experiences (or transactions) in the spacetime continuum. English
Prime may not automatically transfer us into a scientific universe, in all cases, but it at least transfers us into existential or experiential modes, and it takes us out of medieval theology.

Now, those who enjoy theological and/or demonological speculations may continue to enjoy them, as far as I care. This book merely attempts to clarify the difference between theological speculations and actual experiences in spacetime, so that we do not wander into theology without realizing where we have gotten ourselves. The Supreme Court, for instance, wandered into theology (or demonology) when it proclaimes that “f*ck” “is” an indecent word. The most one can say about that in scientific E-Prime would read: “The word ‘f*ck’ appears indecent in the evaluations of x per cent of the population,” X found by normal polling methods.

Turning next to the nigmatic John who “is” unhappy and grouchy yet also “is” bright and cheerful, we find a surprising parallel to the wave/particle duality. Remaining in the reality-tunnel of standard English, one might decide that John “really is” manic depressive. Or one speaker might decide that the other speaker hasn’t “really” observed John carefully, or “is” an “untrustworthy witness.” Again, the innocent-looking “is” causes us to populate the world with spooks, and may provoke us to heated debate, or violent quarrel. (That town in Northern Ireland mentioned earlier — “is” it “really” Derry or Londonderry?)

Rewriting in English Prime we find “John appears unhappy and grouchy in the office” and “John appears bright and cheerful on holiday at the beach.” We have left the realms of spooks and re-entered the existential or phenomenological world of actual experiences in spacetime. And, lo and behold, another metaphysical contradiction has disappeared in the process.

To say “John is” anything, incidentally, always opens the door to spooks and metaphysical debates. The historical logic of Aristotelian philosophy as embedded in Standard English always carries an association of stasis with every “is,” unless the speaker or writer remembers to include a date, and even then linguistic habit will cause many to “not notice” the date and assume “is” means a stasis (an Aristotelian timeless essence or spook.)

For instance, “John is beardless” may deceive many people (but not trained police officers) if john becomes a wanted criminal and alters his appearance by growing a beard. “John is a Protestant” or “John is a Catholic” may change any day, if John has developed a habit of philosophical speculation.

Even stranger, “John is a Jew” has at least five different meanings, some of which may change and some remain constant, and only one of which
tells us anything about how John will behave in spacetime….. “John is a plumber” also contains a fallacy. John may have quit plumbing since you saw him last and may work as a hair dresser now. Stranger things have happened. In E-Prime one would write “John had a job as a plumber last I knew.”

Trivial? Overly pedantic? According to a recent article Professor Harry Weinberg — curiously, an old acquaintance of mine — once tried to emphasize these points to a class by trying to make them see the fallacy in the statement “John F. Kennedy is President of the United States.” Dr. Weinberg pointed out that the inference, Nothing has changed since we came into this classroom, had not been checked by anybody who insisted the statement about Kennedy contained certainty. Weinberg, like his students, got the lesson driven home with more drama than anybody expected, because this class occurred on November 22, 1963, and everybody soon learned that during that class time John F. Kennedy had died of an assassin’s bullet and Lyndon B. Johnson had taken the oath as President of the United States.

That makes the idea kind of hard to forget, doesn’t it?

Looking at sample five — “The car… was a blue Ford” we might again encounter Bertrand Russell’s two-head paradox. It seems a blue Ford exists “in” the head of the witness, but whether the blue Ford also existed “outside” that head remains unsure. Even outside tricky psychology labs, ordinary perception has become problematical due to the whole sad history of eye-witness testimony frequently breaking down in court. Or does the “external universe” (including the blue Ford) exist in some super-Head somwhere? It seems that the translation into E-Prime — “I recall the car… as a blue Ford” better accords with the experiential level of our existence in spacetime than the two heads and other paradoxes we might encounter in Standard English.

James Thurber tells us that he once saw an admiral, wearing a 19th Century naval uniform and old-fashioned side whiskers, peddling a unicycle down the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York. Fortunately, Thurber had broken his glasses and had not yet received replacements from the optometrist, so he did not worry seriously about his sanity. In the Castro section of San Francisco, a well-known homosexual area, I once saw a sign which said ‘HALF GAY CLEANERS’ — but when I looked again, it said, ‘HALF DAY CLEANERS’.

Even Aristotle, despite the abuse he has suffered in these pages, had enough common sense to point out, once, that “I see” always contains fallacy; we should say, “I have seen.” Time always elapses between the impact of energy on the eye and the creation of an image (and associated name and ideas) in the brain, which explains why three eyewitnesses to a hit-and-run such as we postulate here may report, not just the blue Ford of the first speaker, but a blue VW or maybe even a green Toyota. I once astonished a friend by remarking, apropos of UFOs, that I see two or three of them a week. As a student of Transactional Psychology, this does not surprise or alarm me. I also see UNFOs, as noted earlier — and I do not rush to identify them as raccoons or groundhogs, like some people we met earlier. Most people see UNFOs, without thinking about the implications of this, especially when driving rapidly, but sometimes even when walking. We only find UFOs impressive because some people claim they “are” alien spaceships. My UFOs remain Unidentified, since they did not hang around long enough for me to form even a guess about them, but I have found no grounds for classifying them as space-ships. Anybody who does not see UFOs frequently, I think, has not mastered perception psychology or current neuroscience. The sky contains numerous things that go by too quickly for anybody to identify them.

My own wife has appeared as an UNFO to me on occasion — usually round
two or three in the morning when I get out of bed to go to the john and then encounter a Mysterious and Unknown figure emerging from the dark at the other end of the hall. In those cases, fortunately, identification did not take long, and I never reached for a blunt instrument to defend myself. Whatever my critics may suspect, I never mistook her for a squirrel.

If you think about it from the perspective of E-Prime, the world consists mostly of UFOs and UNFOs. Very few “things” (spacetime events) in the air or on the ground give us the opportunity to “identify” them with certainty.

In example six — “That is a fascist idea” versus “That seems like a fascist idea to me” — Standard English implies an indwelling essence of the medieval sort, does not describe an operation in spacetime, and mentions no instrument used in measuring the alleged “fascism” in the idea. The English Prime translation does not assume essences or spooks, describes the operation as occurring in the brain of the speaker and, implicitly, identifies said brain as the instrument making the evaluation. Not accidentally, Standard English also assumes a sort of “glass wall” between observer and observed, while English Prime draws us back into the modern quantum world where observer and observed form a seamless unity.

In examples 7 and 8, Standard English again assumes indwelling spooks and continues to separate observer and observed; English Prime assumes no spooks and reminds us of QUIP (the QUantum Inseparability Principle, so named by Dr. Nick Herbert), namely, the impossibility of existentially separating observer and observed.

Meditating on example 9 will give you the answer to a famous Zen koan, “Who is the Master who makes the grass green?” It might also save you from frequent quarrels (mostly occurring between husbands and wives)about whether the new curtains “are really” green or blue.

Example 10 introduces new subtleties. No explicit “is” appears in the Standard English, so even those trained in E-Prime may see no problem here. However, if the observation refers to a famous (and treacherous)experiment, well-known to psychologists, the Standard English version contains a hilarious fallacy.

I refer to the experiment in which two men rush into a psychology class, struggle and shout, and then one makes a stabbing motion and the other falls. The majority of students, whenever that has been tried, report a knife in the hand of the man who made the stabbing (knife-wielding)motion. In fact, the man used no knife. He used a banana.

Look back at the re-translation into E-Prime. It seems likely that persons trained in E-Prime will grow more cautious about their perceptions and not “rush to judgement” in the manner of most of us throughout history. They might even see the banana, instead of hallucinating a knife.

Exercises
1. Have the group experiment with rewriting the following Standard English sentences into English Prime. Observe carefully what disagreements or irratibility may arise.

* “The fetus is a person.”
* “The zygote is a person.”
* “Every sperm is sacred/Every sperm is great/If a sperm is wasted/God gets quite irate.” (M. Python)
* “Pornography is murder.” (A. Dworkin)
* “John is homosexual.”
* “The table is four feet long.”
* “The human brain is a computer.”
* “When I took LSD, the whole universe was transformed.”
* “Beethoven was paranoid, Mozart was manic-depressive, and Wagner was megalomaniac.”
* “Today is Tuesday.”
* “Lady Chatterly’s Lover is a sexist novel.”
* “Mice, voles and rabbits are all rodents.”
* “The patient is resisting therapy.”
* “Sin and redemption are theological fictions. The sense of sin and the sense of redemption are actual human experiences.” (paraphrased from Ludwig Wittgenstein.)

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healerhead
Location: Iowa

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 3:09 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Okay, I didn’t read the whole article, but I’ll go back and finish it. I just wanted to say that, in my line of work, I’m not allowed to say “it looks like….” or “it appears to me that…”. These prases would be considered “Tragic” by some people, and it seems to them and me that a person who talks like that is wishy-washy.

My line of work out of the way. It would appear to me, that writing like this might help, but mostly it just seems like a way to not really say anything. It IS verbage that is like our society, which would say that what you believe is fine and what i believe is fine and can’t we just all get along.

If you are a person who has a sense that there IS “T”ruth, then it becomes extremely watered-down to say that it “appears to be true” or “it appears to be true to me”. I’m sure you can tell by my use of the word “is”, I am one of those people.

Also I might mention that when speaking like this, I’m not suprised to see that it takes an entire book for a person to say that E Prime IS the way we should think and speak. Which goes against the entire premise of the book to begin with.

Because of the thought put into the article, I’ll close w/ the following.

“I found this article to be” a stimulating.”

HH

edit: Actually, after reading then skimming the rest of the article, I became irratated

[clip rant]. What a beautifully woven circle for the brain to run around.
_________________
Kilgour
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 3:34 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
The fact is, we are not designed to see the truth in anything. If you look at anything in your life, it is based on perception only. When you get mad at someone it is perceived they offended you. Yet in a final inquiry you can find out they never meant what you heard.

So, this means that things really to “appear to be” and nothing really “is” what we take it to be. “Is” is a subjective thing that we impose for our own feeling of solidity. The reality, even in a scientific sense, is nonexistent. If you look at an object, it is really a bunch of atoms with big spaces between them. When you look at the atom, its a bunch of particles with a bunch of space around them. When you look at the particles, they are expressions of mathematics with probability expressions- they really dont exist except as a potential. Extrapolating this back up to the macro scale, the object you were contemplating doesnt really exist. It seems to exist but in reality (as dictated by science) it isnt there at all. The concept of object is a construct by our minds to put understanding on an image. So what is real? And what only “appears” to be real. Its something being discussed in cosmological physics today.
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Motormouth
Location: Iowa

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 3:50 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
This is going to turn into a nice conversation. Thanks for your thoughts, Kil.

Kilgour wrote:
The fact is, we are not designed to see the truth in anything. If you look at anything in your life, it is based on perception only. When you get mad at someone it is perceived they offended you. Yet in a final inquiry you can find out they never meant what you heard.

I’m sure you’ll find the word “is” in my post, but I dont’ buy the entire thought process. I’d be suprised to find any of us that could post (without taking a bunch of time editing) w/out using that word. Let’s not even go that way.

Anyway, I wanted to say that there is a truth in the above senario. The truth is that I hurt someone w/ my words, intended or not. To say you did not intend is to look from inside out, instead of looking from the other point of view. Granted, it’s impossible to go through life w/out hurting people like this from time to time, but our intent does not change that I did, in fact, hurt someone.

Short and sweet,
HH
_________________
Kilgour
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 3:58 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
The difference is in the distinction. If you hurt somebody and did not mean to, then you made a mistake. Mistakes happen. If you had malice and intended to hurt someone, then its a different meaning. The fact of the situation gets broken down by the following flow chart

A: action 1
B: effect 1
C: interpretation of action 1

The reality is, you did something, someone got hurt. You/they took it to mean something. The distinction comes in at the point of interpretation. IF you recognize that “it didnt mean what you think it means” then you alter the perception of reality. Your actions dictate what reality happens in a hurt situation. If you took the stance that it was malicious then that means one thing. If you took the stance it was an accident, totally different meaning. Neither one is true but the distinction is one you can make on your own. The facts of any situation are only A and B. C is always created by a thought process.
_________________
Kilgour
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 4:08 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
One of the best distinctions of reality is one that happens in every household.

Example

Wife asks husband to do the dishes.
Husband watches the ballgame and forgets about the dishes.
Wife bursts out crying and tells the husband he doesnt love her anymore.

This is a classic- I have seen it many times and experienced variations on it as well.

The fact is
1. A request to wash dishes
2. The dishes didnt get done.

The interpretation is
a. He doesnt love me.

Followed in a matter of time- divorce. No divorce from the dishes, but from the interpretation that spouse doesnt love spouse because of the action.After that point the wife will start gathering evidence to support the position the husband doesnt love her. And there is plenty of evidence. He leaves his shoes in the entrance, he doesnt pick up his dirty laundry. He comes home late from work (my god plan the traffic! and avoid those accidents LOL) Finally she is so convinced that he doesnt love her she seeks out a) lawyer b) friend

This is no means a one sided thing- I just happened to use wife for the example. There is no meaning to this example, though some people may thinK I am against wives or something. Overall, makes you want to wash those dishes, doesnt it lol
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Basho
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 4:14 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post
Quote:
Yet in a final inquiry you can find out they never meant what you heard.

Someone should tell this to my wife!

Well, back on track. Another excellent article of Wilsons. He is the author of a few of my favorite books; “The Illuminatus Conspiracy” and “Prometheus Rising” amongst others and I often refer to his thoughts when expounding to those who will listen (an unfortunate and ever dwindling number).

e prime is the language of the philosopher in an argument and my wife can detect my “dropping” into its rythms whenever we get into one. I have always found that it allows me to remain very calm and “rational” (much to the chagrin of others!) and not easy to hoodwink or sway needlessly. (but then I registered as an INTJ last time I checked).

Tell me, where did you get it? If you have a store of his works or know where I can get them online speak up!

Basho

I forgot to mention that E Prime allows one to be more sure of what is true. It illuminates the reality of truth and its effects.

…in fact… hang on….

Sorry for the length:

Truth and knowing.

—————
xoebe
Location: Ventura, CA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 4:46 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
It annoys me that lawyers – and logicians – insist that we speak in terms like that. For example, you can say, “I believe the defendant is a nitwit.” But you can’t say “The defendant is a nitwit.”

That is stupid. It’s correct logic. But it’s stupid. Any statement that is made by any human being ever, is *understood* (or should be) to have a host of unstated qualifiers. That’s both the advantage of language – rapidly conveyed expression – and the weakness – potential ambiguity.

Here’s a site I ran across that vexes me sorely:
http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/BadMeteorology.html

Yeah – he’s right. But he’s a f&*!ing nitwit.

Dammit Pat, now i am all riled up. I am gonna mess with every dumbass I run across today.

Edit: There’s a great book, “That’s Not What I Meant” By Deborah Tannen. It’s not exactly about logic, it’s about how we “frame” language and interpret (or misinterpret) our conversations. She has lots of examples of conversations that end in a fight. Funny to read, and eye-opening as well.

Edit once again. The whole idea of logic is artificial anyway. 2+2=4 is assumed to be true for every instance of 2+2 only because nobody has ever seen any other result. Given the right circumstances, that may not be true. Mathematicians will pull their hair out when they read that.

However, this is true. It has not been proven that not(not true)=true. By implication that’s true for -1(-1)=1.

Most of the foundations of logic and math are based on an assumption we have made only because it appears obvious, and is convenient.

So there. Evil or Very Mad
_________________
Basho
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 6:48 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post
Actually its because you can reduce the math to simple idea (one directly related to a percieved reality) and the fact that we rely on that is another form of custom.

Thats why at the end of 1984 Winston could say that he saw five fingers. The trick is to mess with the “percieved reality” part, nothing will allow you to mess with something someone thinks they know.
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Kilgour
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 7:10 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Edit once again. The whole idea of logic is artificial anyway. 2+2=4 is assumed to be true for every instance of 2+2 only because nobody has ever seen any other result. Given the right circumstances, that may not be true. Mathematicians will pull their hair out when they read that.

Most mathematicians will argue this point too. It is all based on point of view. I postulate that 2 + 2 = 11 in a certain universe. If you look at it, the perceived reality is 4. The reality is in the context of our cartesian universe 2 + 2 = 4 or it is 100.

We had a saying in college. 2+2=5 for very large values of 2. So, here is a rational statement with irrational concepts. The value of 2 becomes no longer a finite integer, but an abstract integer with undefined value. 2 only =2 because we say it does. No other reason exists for it to be 2. We define what 2 is and its boundaries.

Man, I love this thread hehe. Thank you for starting it Smile
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Comalies
Location: Bloomsburg, PA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 7:41 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Kilgour wrote:
Quote:
Edit once again. The whole idea of logic is artificial anyway. 2+2=4 is assumed to be true for every instance of 2+2 only because nobody has ever seen any other result. Given the right circumstances, that may not be true. Mathematicians will pull their hair out when they read that.

Most mathematicians will argue this point too. It is all based on point of view. I postulate that 2 + 2 = 11 in a certain universe. If you look at it, the perceived reality is 4. The reality is in the context of our cartesian universe 2 + 2 = 4 or it is 100.

We had a saying in college. 2+2=5 for very large values of 2. So, here is a rational statement with irrational concepts. The value of 2 becomes no longer a finite integer, but an abstract integer with undefined value. 2 only =2 because we say it does. No other reason exists for it to be 2. We define what 2 is and its boundaries.

Man, I love this thread hehe. Thank you for starting it Smile

/brain snap.

interesting.. dont worry, my brain is still in one piece.
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Rashtif

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 8:08 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Lately, I have seen the concept of E-Prime posted around quite a bit. I browse a number of sites dealing with magic and alternate realities, and this concept appears more prevalent on these sites than I remember it appearing in the past. I feel a fundamental flaw exists within the theory as I understand it. Mainly, the flaw exists with the concept of eliminating the verb ‘to be’. Such a proposition, as I understand the English language, seems impractical in practice.

I am curious whether or not anyone can read my previous paragraph and believe that I achieved success in eliminating the verb ‘to be’ from the paragraph. If the reader has not reached a conclusion regarding this question, I ask that they reread the paragraph and decide.

….
The correct answer should be “no, I was not successful in eliminating the verb ‘to be’ from the paragraph”. I shall repost that paragraph and point out the placement of all the verbs ‘to be’:

Lately, I have (to be; non-conjugated) seen the concept of E-Prime posted (to be; conjugated – has been posted) around quite a bit. I browse (to be; conjugated – am browsing, have browsed, will browse) a number of sites dealing with magic and alternate realities, and this concept appears (to be; conjugated – is appearing, has appeared) more prevalent on these sites than I remember (to be; conjugated – am remembering, have remembered) it appearing (to be; conjugated – to have appeared, to be appearing) in the past. I feel (to be; conjugated – am felling, have felt) a fundamental flaw exists (to be; conjugated – does exist, is existing) within the theory as I understand (to be; conjugated – have understood, do understand) it. Mainly, the flaw exists (to be; conjugated – does exist, is existing) with the concept of eliminating the verb ‘to be’. Such a proposition, as I understand (to be; conjugated – have understood, do understand) the English language, seems (to be; cogitated – appears to be, is) impractical in practice.

(almost sounds like someone from another country who hasn’t mastered the english language – i.e. the conjugation of verbs) As you can see, in order to eliminate the verb ‘to be’ from language, one must eliminate all conjugations of the verb as well. This would also eliminate much of the concept of time from the language (which is probably why many Ceremonial Magicians are interested in the concept). After removing all conjugations of the verb ‘to be’, the paragraph should appear as such:

Lately, I perceive the concept of E-Prime post around quite a bit. I browse a number of sites dealing with magic and alternate realities, and this concept appear more prevalent on these sites than I remember appear in the past. I feel a fundamental flaw within the theory in my understand. Mainly, the flaw with the concept of eliminate the verb ‘to be’. Such a proposition, as I understand the English language, appear impractical in practice.

Yes, it is possible to remove the verb ‘to be’ from language, but the simple removal of the verb exposes other difficulties with this form of communication. Even the author of this article had to go beyond removing the verb (which he was not at all successful at) by inserting various qualifiers. Look at his very first example:

Standard English
1. The photon is a wave.

English Prime
1. The photon behaves (to be; conjugated – is behaving, does behave, has behaved) as a wave *when constrained by certain instruments* (qualified).

Actual Removal of the verb ‘to be’
1. The photon behave as a wave.

Notice, in removing the verb ‘to be’ without inserting the qualifier, the example sentence is no more precise than it originally was. If I simply added the qualifier to the Standard English sentence, would we comprehend it any differently than the ‘English Prime’ example the author gave us?

1. The photon is a wave when constrained by certain instruments.

The answer is yes and no. Yes, because we can read the sentence above and understand that the photon behaves as a wave under certain circumstance. No, because, using either my modified example or the author’s original example, the reader still understands a sense of exactness – the exactness of the photon’s behavior under certain circumstances. Therein lies the second fundamental flaw of the author’s argument. What the author should be doing, as the article has been presented, and I have comprehended it, is not advocating the removal of the verb ‘to be’ from our language, but, rather, advocating a more exact form of communication by the insertion of qualifiers. Of course, this presumption leads me to another question: If the author – as he appears to me – is, fundamentally, advocating a form of unknowing existentialism, why is he attempting to force a form of exact communication to describe a reality which can not be known with exactness? This seems contradictory (and contraintuitive) to me. Anyway…

One of the reasons we are able to communicate so successfully using language is because language is so imprecise to begin with. You produce a string of abstract symbols (words – wave forms) which I receive and interpret into abstract thoughts. Through a cognitive process I compare and evaluate these thoughts to producing various meanings which I then re-compare and evaluate into a percieved understanding. The simple sentence “The water is blue” can be understood in a number of ways depending upon which qualifiers surrounding the sentence.

1. The water is blue. I used Tidybowl!
2. I like looking across the ocean on clear, sunny days. The water is blue.

Very different meanings depending upon – wait for it – the qualifiers surrounding the example sentence.

I would also argue that it is unnecessary for precise exactness to occur in order for acceptable communication to occur. If I were to say “2 + 2+ 2”, you would, very easily, understand my meaning to be “6”. I could say the same thing any number of ways, and you would still understand my meaning to be “6”: “2 * 3”, “3 * 2”, “1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1”, or whatever; you still understand the meaning to be “6”. It does not matter that I really – in absolute, exact actuality – meant “7 – 1”. You and I, through the use of symbols and interpretations, have successfully communicated a thought. In my example of “I like looking across the ocean on clear, sunny days. The water is blue.” You might look at the same water and perceive it to be blue-green, green, or even clear. It really doesn’t matter, at a fundamental level, because the thought was successfully communicated.

okay, now I’m going to go back and read what you other guys posted Exclamation

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Kilgour
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 8:30 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Communication is based on understanding. We speak to each others ability to listen. Therefore, concepts are established to be “thus” for our perceived understanding of the world and each other. 2=2 because we were told so and tell our children so. In a macroscopic sense there is no alternative to 2. It must be so. In the cosmological sense, the only reason we define 2 is so that we can establish a common reference point for other discussions. So, from our reference point, 2 must be 2. It cannot be anything else. What is 2 to a planet? Or a rock? Does a mosquito think of the number 2? Not in my awareness. Therefore, 2 is a concept that humans have created only for our own comfort.

Now, the concept of “becoming” or “to be”. Everything we do is from moment to moment becoming. We live into the future. We exist into the past but the only things that define the future are ones of becoming. This is a fundemental issue with mankind. We are designed to live in the past while stepping into the future. All of our feelings, actions, thoughts, are dictated by events that have happened in our pasts. This is called experience. Yesterday, we burned our hand on a fire. Tomorrow we see a fire, remember the past burn, and avoid the fire. Where it has deviated from the natural is the emotional content. We see a fire, go oh my god, I am afraid of the fire. Then we turn around and attack the person next to us, so they wont see that we are afraid. The act of becoming suddenly has been devolved into an illogical reaction to events in our past. No more action, all reaction. This can be seen in many different ways with many different events.
_________________
Rashtif

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 8:45 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Kilgour wrote:
The fact is, we are not designed to see the truth in anything.

Designed? by who or what? whole new can of worms…hehe.

Kilgour wrote:
If you look at anything in your life, it is based on perception only. When you get mad at someone it is perceived they offended you. Yet in a final inquiry you can find out they never meant what you heard.

Actually, they didn’t mean for the words they spoke, and you heard, to be percieved the way you percieved them. You heard the words just fine, the error was in your perception. I know, I know. That’s probably exaclty what you meant, and I totally agree.

Kilgour wrote:
So, this means that things really to “appear to be” and nothing really “is” what we take it to be. “Is” is a subjective thing that we impose for our own feeling of solidity. The reality, even in a scientific sense, is nonexistent.

I agree that Reality, as we know it, is based heavily upon our perceptions of it. However, I would argue that perception is a form of measurement, and in order for a thing to be measured, it must exist. This desk in front of me really exist. It is solid. I can pound on it, cut it, lift it, wash it, move it, whatever. You can bring over an electron microscope and show me that it isn’t really all that solid after all. Who’s right? We both are – even though we have both utilized scientific means to prove our point. It depends on which level of Reality we are operating on.

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ppowers
Location: Redwood City, CA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 8:50 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow. I really opened a can worms with this post didn’t I? Smile
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Rashtif

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:05 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Basho wrote:
The famous question “what do I have in my pocket?” is not just asked of the viewer but also of the questioner for they do not know what is in their pocket until they too check (as, for example, it may have fallen out and they haven’t noticed).

What does it have in it’s evil little pocketses, hummm? A ring! It has a ring in it’s pocketsess. Where did it get the ring, yess, my precious, we wants to know.

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Rashtif

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:43 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
You know, in reading through this thread (glad I posted before reading everything ….. WOW! I’d have never finished my post), one thing that is impressed on my mind is how far we have came from Plato’s Ideal Form. IT’s seems like we are more concerned with Abstract Thoughts (non-forms).

[quote=Kilgour]Communication is based on understanding. We speak to each others ability to listen. Therefore, concepts are established to be “thus” for our perceived understanding of the world and each other. 2=2 because we were told so and tell our children so.[/quote]

Okay, but how was the thought of 2=2 initially communicated? I mean, I understand that 2=2 because that thought was communicated to me as a child, but, doesn’t it stand to reason, that there had to be some basis before the understanding could be communicated to begin with?

How about this? 2=2 simply because 2=2, and for no other reason. The concept of 2=2 is not what was communicated to me as a child. Rather the concept that you also understand “2” was communicated to me as a child. This communication was accomplished through abstract means – either by saying “two” or drawing a symbol for “2” or otherwise indicating the concept.

I don’t know if a mosquito has any concept of “2” or not. I do not have a system of refrence to communicate to a mosquito to find out – not on that level. However, I can reasonably postulate that a mosquito has a concept of “hunger” (hence the reason it bites my arm) as well as concepts of “danger”, “flight’, and “self preservation” (hence the reason it flies away when I swat at it). My simple lack of understanding the mosquito’s Abstract Thought of “hunger”/”danger”/”flight”/”self-preservation”, does not negate the fact that these things exist, in Reality, for the mosiquito. It only means that I don’t currently have the means to comprehend the mosiquito’s perception of Reality in the same manner – or with the same level of certainty – as I understand your perception of Reality.

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Basho
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2005 11:10 am Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post
It helps if you remember that math is only a language. A special type of language that can perform operations, the results of which can be reduced down to simple ideas (I have a rock in my hand).

The actual notations of “2” are irrelevant; it is the compound idea (concept) that appears immutable.
_________________
Rashtif

PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2005 2:53 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Basho wrote:
The actual notations of “2” are irrelevant; it is the compound idea (concept) that appears immutable.

That’s exactly what I mean by an Abstract Thought (Non-Form).

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Basho
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2005 11:05 pm Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post
Ahh I’m with you.

When I first moved past Plato I was dismissive of him, but now many years later I realise that in one sense he was right.

The Forms could be seen as a way to express the idea that Concepts of ideas sit in the minds of all mankind. The reduction of these ideas to their ultimate necessities would constitute a Form. Of course, this is inherently limited in value, but I quite like the fact that he was getting somewhere. The outside that held the forms is actually inside all of us and our shared idea must have certain elements in common across all people. Idealism in extreme. I think the only thing he seriously got wrong is separating the existence of the forms from the lives of man. When man eventually dies (and by that I mean everything he has written too) then all ideas will die with him.

Nature has no triangles. 2 plus 2 will no longer = 4. And I don’t mean just the notation; the actual math will die too. We have quaint little boxes that we divide the world up into but we know in our hearts that the universe will swallow our foundational ideas without a gulp. That’s why we have things like E Prime. It allows for the understanding that our understanding is a house of cards. I hope that when/if we manage to truly understand the universe that we are able to say so with certainty, but in all honesty I remain skeptical that we wont be there shouting:

“42! (last time I checked)”

_________________
Kilgour
Location: Detroit

New postPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 4:43 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
A very succinct and well put synopsis of this entire discussion LOL. Thank you Basho.

2016-10-18T18:54:58+00:00

About the Author:

Bio: Philosopher, film maker, writer and IT expert. Occupation: IT Consultant, film-maker and writer. Interests: Debate, cooking, computer-gaming, reading, writing, videoing, martial arts, air­soft, movies, diving, skiing… (The list goes on — Basho is a philosopher and therefore into everything!)