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Monday, April 17, 2023


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Perceiving the note "Concert A" from an oscillation in the air of 440 cycles per second is proof positive that our minds are outside of time, that they transcend the present moment. So I think, anyway.

Joe, this may amuse you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J55u8uxLgx4

The Sellars stuff is good, thanks.

>Obviously the sine wave is continuous.

The example I gave by email was a square wave, which is eminently discontinuous!

>He thereby conflates phenomenal continuity with mathematical continuity.

We Aristotelians think of continuity in terms of potential infinity. Phenomenal continuity is simply having no 'gaps'. When the clock ticks, there is a discontinuity between the ticks and the silent gaps in between. If we increase the ticking to a frequency of about 27Hz, then there is a step change. The ticking disappears, and we hear a continuous note, A0, which some basses can actually sing. No gap, no ticks.

But there is no such step change in the physics. Simply a faster ticking.

(Obviously a Cantorean will think of a line as a set - an uncountable set - of points, and so there is a multiplicity in the Cantorean conception of the line that is simply not there in the phenomenon. But mathematics does not have to be Cantorean. Aristotelians do not agree with Cantor, nor as we know does Cantor agree with Aristotelians).

In other words, with the emergence of a musical note or pitch, there is something happening at the phenomenal level that simply is not happening at the physical level. Or rather, that kind of emergence is what defines the distinction between phenomenal and physical.

PS The term “manifest image” needs a proper context, which can be found here

Thanks for the link to the low notes, Bro Bill. Here's more (See you raise you lower you); Russian choral music especially has the very low notes. Enjoy:





I will grant you one thing: there is a serious debate between the proponents of actual infinity and those of potential infinity.

I still say you are muddled about continuity. What exactly do you mean by it? 'Homogeneity' may be the word you want.

It may also be that you are not engaging the Grain Problem at all as contemporary analytic philosophers such as Wm Lycan and your man Robinson understand it.

Where did you get the problem you mention in your e-mail reproduced above? For that matter, where did you get your mirror problem? And I continue to insist that while 'behind the mirror' has a use in standard English, you cannot use that phrase to mean 'in the mirror.' This is simply a matter of ordinary language analysis.

By continuous I mean having no gaps. 'Homogeneous' means something else.

Aristotle "Continuous are those things whose limit, at which they touch, is one". If the limits are not one, there will be a gap

>And I continue to insist that while 'behind the mirror' has a use in standard English, you cannot use that phrase to mean 'in the mirror.'

I mean strictly behind the mirror. I can locate the image as follows. Place a mirror perpendicular to piece of paper. Place an object in front of the mirror. Place two pins A and B in front of the mirror so that they 'line up' with the mirror image, i.e. so that the image, and the pins lie on the same line of sight. Then do the same with another two pins C and D.

Finally, remove the mirror and extend the line AB to behind where the mirror was, and similarly with CD. You will find that AB and CD converge at a point behind the mirror.

This is a standard experiment that used to be performed in all schools in the UK. I'm surprised you are surprised by it.

>Where did you get the problem you mention in your e-mail reproduced above? For that matter, where did you get your mirror problem?

I think the emergence of 'phenomenal pitch' is a neat way of proving the phenomenal nature of sound. It is another standard 19th century example. Rayleigh gives a nice account.

The mirror example is from schoolbook optics, as I said.

I'm not sure what 'in the mirror' means. 'In' implies a closed surface or a container, but a mirror (outside fairgrounds) is usually a plane surface.

>Thanks for the link to the low notes, Bro Bill.

Hey Joe (!) that was my link, not Bill's

PS see this https://www.physicsclassroom.com/reviews/Reflection-and-Mirrors/Reflection-and-Mirrors-Review-Answers-2

"A is true; virtual images are always located behind the mirror".

At the 6 minute mark and following in this fascinating video, there is shown a mechanical device which automatically add up different sine waves to get their composite wave. This is continuity from many sources.


Oops, sorry, Oz ! Here's some Dobro with some low notes, to hopefully make it up.


>Oops, sorry, Oz ! Here's some Dobro with some low notes, to hopefully make it up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMkeD2sUlR4

Thank you Joe I loved that! In return, and claiming victory in the very low note competition, see this 32' Untersatz in the pedal playing a C0 (15Hz) which literally shakes the church windows! https://youtu.be/FwHI3l06ack?t=897.

Oh yes, Bill, see this Octobass https://www.ludwig-van.com/toronto/2015/05/20/cool-stuff-8-the-octobass-an-instrument-capable-of-playing-below-human-hearing-range/. "There are only two originals in the world, with one found at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona".

The mirrored object is not always "behind" the mirror; two parabolic mirrors will project an image into the space in front of them:




I am unclear as well as to Sellar's resolution of the problem. However, his reference to the central nervous system in his convoluted alternative solution appears to be something in the neighborhood of what FA Hayek proposed in The Sensory Order. Written almost a decade before this Sellars excerpt, The Sensory Order has been cited numerous times in neurophysiological papers and publications right up to the present day. Although a scientific treatment of the subject, Hayek deals in some very nuanced philosophy and philosophy of science.

Hayek holds to a hard duality b/t distinct orders of categorizing and relating things, the phenomenal sensory order of qualities (colors, sound, etc.), and the physical order of science. Neither is more real than the other; Hayek specifically rejects the notion of "real" in this context as meaningless. They are instead overlapping orders, with only relative or partial similarities in how they image the relationships in the world.

He reconciles the two orders with a complex theory of what the central nervous system must be like in order to account for the partial correspondences between the two. In brief, the central nervous system collects impulses engendered by the external world into multiple classes based on the status of the nervous system as a whole with all its inputs, impulses, and feedback over time. It is the connected relations between these different classes in the nervous system that correspond in a one-to-one topological or isomorphic sense with the connected relations between the phenomenal sensory qualities.

The partial correspondence between the experience of sensory qualities and the external physical world is accounted for, then, by the adaptation of the classification process of the central nervous system over evolutionary time, permitting an organism to "behave appropriately towards its surroundings."

I fail to capture the depth of description and justification Hayek offers for his picture of the central nervous system. But suffice it to say that, epistemologically, Hayek is asserting that sensory experience is fundamentally relational and conceptual. As the Introduction says: "[Hayek's] theory may be said to substantiate Goethe's famous maxim 'all that is factual is already theory' for the field of sensory and other psychological phenomena … The qualities which we attribute to the experienced objects are, strictly speaking, not properties of objects at all, but a set of relations by which our nervous system classifies them."

The experiential continuity of Ed's musical note and the homogenous nature of Sellar's manifest image are accounted for, then, by the classification/abstraction activity of the central nervous system, which itself is an adaptive response to Sellar's particulate, scientific image of the world.

Hayek's rendition of all of this is compelling, for me at least. But I am still not sold. There is an absolute or intrinsic nature to the conscious, intentional experience that is lost, even if the relations between all sensory qualities and physical events could be established. Additionally, Hayek's is an evolutionary account, which makes it susceptible to the sort of objections found in Plantinga and others that adaptive behavior can correspond just as well with false beliefs as true ones.

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