Further Refinement

In order to understand a particular pendulum I must think of it in relation to an ensemble of pendulums and other objects similar to it under a wide variety of circumstances.  Technically this would be the extension or denotation of the word ‘pendulum.’

A physical description of a particular pendulum would refer just to that one object.  Appended to that description could be some idealized equations of motion along with suggested algorithms for their solution.

Which is the real pendulum?  Is it the representative of the ensemble I imagine or is it the ‘physical’ one?  Surely the essence of ‘pendulum-hood’ is captured only by the ensemble in my imagination, but is that extensional meaning essential to the reality of the actual pendulum?

Within the reality of the pendulum is the latency of the ensemble.  This is the implication of what it is to be that pendulum.  The ontology must subsume the epistemology, or we have no pendulum at all.  We would have merely the residuum of an abstraction.  On the one hand we have the actual pendulum, on the other hand we have the ‘physical’ pendulum.

But this is only half the problem for physics.  The above employed extensional theory of meaning is false.  The meaning of a word is now known to extend beyond its extension or denotation.  Intension or connotation is essential to any meaning.  I then contend that the full meaning or idea of the word must somehow be subsumed in the actual object, or that object is bereft of its actual, physical (sic) potency, i.e. it’s reality.

That a particular Steuben vase is fragile is not just a figment of my imagination.  It actually is fragile.   Yet all the physical formulas that might be brought to bear on the vase will neither denote nor connote its fragility.  One could even provide a strain formula for the particular type of glass that could quantify a breaking point, and paste that formula on the vase to serve as a ‘fragile’ sign.  One could even program a computer to ‘infer’ fragility from the formula and print the appropriate sign on the vase.  We now infringe on the realm of semiotics, and physics is not about semiotics.

The vase is not merely physical; it contains the ‘ghost’ of its own latency.  I am pointing out that if we are concerned about ghosts in the machine, we need look no further than the nearest vase.  This fact should make the inherent limitations of physics patently obvious in comparison with the robust nature of reality.


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rev. 1/25/00