Abstract Expressions of Time’s Modalities. Thought of the Day 21.0


According to Gregory Bateson,

What we mean by information — the elementary unit of information — is a difference which makes a difference, and it is able to make a difference because the neural pathways along which it travels and is continually transformed are themselves provided with energy. The pathways are ready to be triggered. We may even say that the question is already implicit in them.

In other words, we always need to know some second order logic, and presuppose a second order of “order” (cybernetics) usually shared within a distinct community, to realize what a certain claim, hypothesis or theory means. In Koichiro Matsuno’s opinion Bateson’s phrase

must be a prototypical example of second-order logic in that the difference appearing both in the subject and predicate can accept quantification. Most statements framed in second-order logic are not decidable. In order to make them decidable or meaningful, some qualifier needs to be used. A popular example of such a qualifier is a subjective observer. However, the point is that the subjective observer is not limited to Alice or Bob in the QBist parlance.

This is what is necessitated in order understand the different viewpoints in logic of mathematicians, physicists and philosophers in the dispute about the existence of time. An essential aspect of David Bohm‘s “implicate order” can be seen in the grammatical formulation of theses such as the law of motion:

While it is legitimate in its own light, the physical law of motion alone framed in eternal time referable in the present tense, whether in classical or quantum mechanics, is not competent enough to address how the now could be experienced. … Measurement differs from the physical law of motion as much as the now in experience differs from the present tense in description. The watershed separating between measurement and the law of motion is in the distinction between the now and the present tense. Measurement is thus subjective and agential in making a punctuation at the moment of now. (Matsuno)

The distinction between experiencing and capturing experience of time in terms of language is made explicit in Heidegger’s Being and Time

… by passing away constantly, time remains as time. To remain means: not to disappear, thus, to presence. Thus time is determined by a kind of Being. How, then, is Being supposed to be determined by time?

Koichiro Matsuno’s comment on this is:

Time passing away is an abstraction from accepting the distinction of the grammatical tenses, while time remaining as time refers to the temporality of the durable now prior to the abstraction of the tenses.

Therefore, when trying to understand the “local logics/phenomenologies” of the individual disciplines (mathematics physics, philosophy, etc., including their fields), one should be aware of the fact that the capabilities of our scientific language are not limitless:

…the now of the present moment is movable and dynamic in updating the present perfect tense in the present progressive tense. That is to say, the now is prior and all of the grammatical tenses including the ubiquitous present tense are the abstract derivatives from the durable now. (Matsuno)

This presupposes the adequacy of mathematical abstractions specifically invented or adopted and elaborated for the expression of more sophisticated modalities of time’s now than those currently used in such formalisms as temporal logic.

Paulian Idea, Bayesianism and Quantum Solipsism. Note Quote.


The best way to begin a more thoroughly QBist delineation of quantum mechanics is to start with two choice quotes on personalist Bayesianism itself. The first is from Hampton, Moore, and Thomas,

Bruno de Finetti believes there is no need to assume that the probability of some event has a uniquely determinable value. His philosophical view of probability is that it expresses the feeling of an individual and cannot have meaning except in relation to him.

and the second from Dennis Lindley,

The Bayesian, subjectivist, or coherent, paradigm is egocentric. It is a tale of one person contemplating the world and not wishing to be stupid (technically, incoherent). He realizes that to do this his statements of uncertainty must be probabilistic.

These two quotes make it absolutely clear that personalist Bayesianism is a “single-user theory.” Thus, QBism must inherit at least this much egocentrism in its view of quantum states ρ.

For, the “Paulian Idea”—which is also essential to the QBist view—goes further still. It says that the outcomes to quantum measurements are single-user as well! That is to say, when an agent writes down her degrees of belief for the outcomes of a quantum measurement, what she is writing down are her degrees of belief about her potential personal experiences arising in consequence of her actions upon the external world

With regard to the Paulian Idea there are two points that are decisive for dismissing the charge of solipsism. One is the conceptual split of the world into two parts—one an agent and the other an external quantum system—that gets the discussion of quantum measurement off the ground in the first place. If such a split were not needed for making sense of the question of actions (actions upon what? in what? with respect to what?), it simply would not have been made. Imagining a quantum measurement without an autonomous quantum system participating in the process would be as paradoxical as the Zen koan of the sound of a single hand clapping. The second point is that once the agent chooses an action {Ei}, the particular consequence Ek of it is beyond his control. That is to say, the particular outcome of a quantum measurement is not a product of his desires, whims, or fancies—this is the very reason he uses the calculus of probabilities in the first place: they quantify his uncertainty, an uncertainty that, try as he might, he cannot get around. So, implicit in this whole picture—this whole Paulian Idea—is an “external world . . . made of something,” just as Martin Gardner(1) calls for. It is only that quantum theory is a rather small theory: Its boundaries are set by being a handbook for agents immersed within that “world made of something.”

(1) “Well then, it is incomplete after all. Go seek hidden variables!” But that is to misunderstand the problematic here. Theories of decision that really are theories of decision just don’t “port” to theories or visions of the world in that way. From the point of view of being a theory for taking actions and gambles, quantum theory is already all that it can be.