Re: Many Worlds?

From: Wesley R. Elsberry (
Date: Mon Jan 03 2000 - 20:21:59 EST

  • Next message: "Re: Many Worlds?"

    MikeBGene wrote:
    >In a message dated 1/3/00 6:55:24 AM Dateline Standard Time,
    > writes:

    WRE>Further stuff showing that B&T made the original error and MikeB
    WRE>simply repeated it credulously, deleted.
    MB>An alternative explanation is that Wesley cannot appreciate
    MB>the subtlety of the relationship perceived by B&T and thus
    MB>flippantly insists an error was made.

    That's one alternative. It isn't a particularly likely
    alternative, but it does count as an alternative.

    WRE>Wheeler's "Many Worlds" hypothesis isn't about the number of
    WRE>planets in the universe, which the Democritus quote appears
    WRE>to address.

    MB>I think I see Wesley's problem - he is interpreting too
    MB>literally and doesn't see the general mode of reasoning
    MB>(briefly highlighted in the previous post) behind the literal

    That's also a possible explanation. Again, this one is
    not likely.

    MB>The question is why is Wesley so selective about these literal
    MB>interpretations? Consider that same posting also had this:

    MB>"And speaking of borrowing, does this sound familiar?:

    MB>"When we see some example of a mechanism, such as a globe or
    MB>clock or some such device, do we doubt that it is the creation
    MB>of a conscious intelligence? So when we see the movement of
    MB>the heavenly bodies‰¥Ïhow can we doubt that these too
    MB>are not only the works of reason but of a reason which is
    MB>perfect and divine?"

    MB>No, this is not from William Paley, but instead was written
    MB>by the Roman lawyer and orator, Marcus Cicero (106-43 BC)."

    MB>Why doesn't Wesley also take issue with the fact that Paley
    MB>didn't compare a clock with the heavenly bodies? Why do
    MB>I want to say something about selectively straining out gnats?

    Mike apparently can't accept that some of the examples he
    quotes pass muster while others do not. The Cicero quote
    counts among the better examples. The Democritus one is so
    poor that I still count it as an error. Mike has not so far
    produced an argument that would lead me to believe that it is
    not an error.

    WRE>I don't have a problem with the questions of teleology being
    WRE>discussed by the ancients.

    I'd like to draw Mike's attention to the above sentence in

    WRE>I do have a problem with ancient
    WRE>quotes that don't connect to the modern counterpart being
    WRE>put forward as examples.

    MB>They connnect as generic approaches to the world. Your error
    MB>is in looking for connections that are too specific.

    Analogies vary in quality along a scale. Some people are
    willing to set a (very) low acceptance threshold for
    analogies. The weakness of the Democritus::Many Worlds
    analogy puts me in mind of the weak analogies given as if
    damning evidence in John A. Stormer's jingoist masterpiece,
    "None Dare Call It Treason".

    WRE>Perhaps further context in Democritus
    WRE>would show that he was not talking about planets and their
    WRE>number, but rather whole universes.

    MB>At the time of Democritus, what makes you think such a
    MB>distinction was all that significant?

    It isn't my argument to make. Either B&T or Mike, as their
    effusive agent, should show that the difference is not
    significant. Despite much bluster, that is conspicuous by
    its absence from the discussion.

    MB>Nevertheless, this misses the point.

    If the point was that teleology has a long history, I had
    already stipulated that.

    WRE> But until such information
    WRE>becomes available, I will continue to be a skeptic of the claim
    WRE>that Democritus prefigured Wheeler in any significant sense.

    MB>In my opinion, your skepticism is based on a trivial
    MB>distinction that misses the larger point. But it doesn't
    MB>matter to me if you continue as a skeptic. So be it.

    I didn't miss the larger point, I stipulated it. The "larger
    point" of an extensive history for teleology is not set aside
    because one of the examples given is clearly inappropriate.
    However, the mere fact that one or more of the proffered
    examples are appropriate does not rescue a poor example from
    critique. Why weaken the argument by bringing up a quote that
    does not have an appreciable link with its supposed modern


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