# fubarobfusco comments on Natural Laws Are Descriptions, not Rules - Less Wrong

31 08 August 2012 04:27AM

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Comment author: 07 August 2012 05:04:53PM *  28 points [-]

A: But why are the dynamics of the electromagnetic field derived from Maxwell's Lagrangian rather than some other equation? And why does the path integral method work at all?

B: What do you mean by "why"?

A: Hey, wait a minute, I'm asking the questions here! Um ... I mean ... I want an explanation of what makes the world that way.

B: Really, you do? You didn't like the last three explanations I gave you. What was wrong with them?

A: They didn't go deep enough. They explained things in the world in terms of deeper and deeper levels, but there was always something left to explain.

B: What would it feel like to have a deep-enough explanation? What are some things for which you think you do have a deep-enough explanation?

A: I don't know. Arithmetic, maybe? I don't feel the need to have a deeper explanation of 1 + 1 = 2, I'm happy saying that it just does equal two, and if you set it up to be different you'd just be talking about some operation other than addition on the naturals.

B: I wonder why arithmetic feels adequately explained to you, but electromagnetism doesn't? What would it feel like if arithmetic were as problematic to you as electromagnetism is?

A: ... I'd be asking why 1 + 1 = 2, I suppose. I wouldn't know the answers to questions that are intuitively obvious; or I wouldn't trust my intuition about them.

B: So you have intuitions about natural numbers, but not about electromagnetic fields?

A: I guess not.

B: Any ideas why not?

A: Well, nobody does! Arithmetic really is obvious — even birds can count, and they really aren't very bright.

B: Crows and parrots are. But you're right, it doesn't take advanced symbolic reasoning to count. Lots of animals do it instinctively, and presumably we do too. We have instincts that tell us that \$\$ and \$\$ put together would look like \$\$\$\$, and not like \$\$\$\$\$ or \$\$\$. It's difficult to imagine what it would even mean to question that.

A: So what are you saying? I don't look for explanations of arithmetic because ... my instincts don't allow me to?

B: Or, truths of arithmetic have been coded into your instincts by evolution, but truths of Maxwell's equations aren't.

A: But dude! How the fuck do you know they're truths? You're assuming just what I wanted to challenge in the first place! Stop petting the prince!

B: So now what you're after is "by what mechanism do we know that they're true" rather than "what mechanism makes the world operate that way"? You're satisfied with epistemology rather than metaphysics?

A: Well, it would be a start ...

Comment author: 07 August 2012 09:33:34PM *  4 points [-]

B: Or, truths of arithmetic have been coded into your instincts by evolution, but truths of Maxwell's equations aren't.

A: But dude! How the fuck do you know they're truths?

B: Regarding arithmetic, I know they're truths because I've defined the underlying territory. I - collectively speaking - decided on axioms from which the whole tree of lemmata and corollaries spawns. Granted, I cannot fully track all the branches of the tree due to Goedel, there will be true statements that follow from my axioms that I'll never be able to trace back to the roots (which would be the proof), but the statements that I do prove I can rely upon to be true.

Why? Because it is I who made up the whole system, I don't need to match it to any external system of unknowns. Unlike my model of physics.

Comment author: 10 August 2012 02:29:03PM 2 points [-]

For the record, Tegmark 4 feels "deep enough" for me because it's a TOE without any arbitrary choices.

Comment author: 21 August 2012 03:32:08AM *  0 points [-]

Metaphysics is when one tries to understand macrophysics. Symbols are from how conscious beings process and use info, which they do in different places and with different bodies/processors encoded with info from all their previous places all the way back to the beginning or infinity. All these differences are what I refer to as "perspectivism," which we have to correct for in trying to understand macrophysics and in helping beings.

I can think of only one way in which a human can output a TOE useful to other humans: there being plenty of cosmic info encoded in him to express through symbols that can be easily decoded by other humans. But if there's plenty of info in them, what about in other bodies? People are realizing that there's more encoded in, sought, and processed by beings than they previously realized (e.g. consciousness in non-humans, latent savant skills, latent creativity, etc. In the case of Derek Amato, an acquired savant, what would've happened if he didn't have a piano with which to process and express info? Would he have been stuck with racing thoughts or considered crazy, lame, or autistic, like in Yellow Wall Paper or as with Cassandras, who have trouble communicating info to left-brains to use?