Re: [OPE] information theory

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Tue Jan 06 2009 - 17:27:41 EST

[Seems like our last exchange went off-list.]

Ian Wright wrote:
> We are slightly talking at cross-purposes.
>> Materialism is opposed to this division claiming
>> everything belongs to the physical realm.
> But how does this statement differ from that of a Hegelian Idealist
> who claims that everything is a manifestation of the Spirit?
> Both Materialism and Idealism posit a single underlying substance.
> This is another reason why I don't think it is helpful to define
> materialism as the belief that "everything is physical".
> I agree that materialism requires a monist ontology. I disagree,
> however, that "physical" concepts of matter are sufficiently deep and
> general to elucidate this ontology.
> I actually think that Hegelian Idealism, especially in Hegel's Science
> of Logic, represents a more profound attempt to understand
> "fundamental" entities than the work of the physicists. P

There is an important difference between 'manifestation of the Spirit'
and the 'physical entities' I'm talking about (photons, mass, energy,
space-time, information content, etc.): the latter are concepts that
have arisen from practical problems; they are part of a framework of
theories that have improved the predictive power of human beings
immensely. The former has nothing even comparable to show. That,
ultimately, is the context one has to judge claims about reality.

This insistence on the practical context of predictive power was
something I got early on from reading Marx's Thesis on Feuerbach:

    The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human
    thinking is not a question of theory but is a /practical question/.
    Man must prove the truth --- i.e. the reality and power, the
    this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the
    reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is
    a purely scholastic question. [Emphasis added.]

//Dave Z

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Received on Tue Jan 6 17:29:37 2009

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