[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

*To*: Chris Crawford <chriscrawford@wave.net>*Subject*: The Unity of Data and Principle*From*: Bob <mantic@brightok.net>*Date*: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 15:13:34 -0600*CC*: idrama@flutterby.com*Organization*: MANTIC STUDIO*References*: <B6A2E3AD.5E1%chriscrawford@wave.net>*Sender*: owner-idrama@flutterby.com

Well, Chris, you pointed me back to some of your old articles so I finally have an opportunity to argue one of them. This isn't completely off-topic in the I-Drama forum but it's a roundabout way of getting to the point. However, I apologize in advance for the lecture I'll launch into. I'll start with the quote (taken from <http://www.erasmatazz.com/library/JCGD_Volume_8/How_To_Play_God.html> ): "The realization that toppled this literal interpretation is that laws and data are not separate entities; laws are highly digested forms of data. For example, let us take the elementary scientific observation that 2 + 2 = 4. Now, that's about as simple, obvious, and uncontroversial as a theory can be. But this law is not some ethereal hypothesis cooked up in of the fevered mind of an effete academic. Instead, it represents a digestion of a vast amount of data. If I take two apples and put them in a box, and then I add two more apples, when I look in the box, I'll see four apples. Surprise, surprise! But, if I put two oranges in a box, and then add two oranges, when I look in the box I'll see four oranges. The same thing happens if I use kumquats, or monkeys, or pencils, or planets. After thousands, nay, millions of such experiences, I have been able to conclude that two things added to two more things yields four things: 2 + 2 = 4. This is not airy-fairy theorizing &emdash; this is a gigantic mountain of data reduced to a short statement." That seems like something nobody in their right mind would argue with, eh? But I had my eyes opened about the inaccuracy of this very concept early on. Here's how: Forget that you have been indoctrinated into the religeon of mathematics for a moment and become little Johnny, sitting at the head of the class as Teacher is about to start preaching... er... teaching. Now, Teacher has a box of apples. They look really tasty and you know all about apples; you even have your eye on the biggest, reddest apple in the box. Teacher picks up an apple and displays it to the class. "This is ONE apple." She tells everyone. You, Johnny, see that it has a green spot on it, and an ugly dent... and it's rather small. Teacher reaches back in the box and picks another apple. The very one you were drooling over. She holds it up and proclaims: "And THIS is ONE apple." She holds out the apple, "ONE apple," and then the other, "plus ONE apple." Then she does something silly; she holds them both out and declares that these "are TWO apples." How many problems are there with that? From the semantic angle, these apples changed their very state of being; suddenly they are no longer ONE apples but TWO apples. What is a TWO apple? Wouldn't a TWO apple be twice as big, twice as red, and twice as shiny as the ONE apple Johnny is lusting in his heart over? And when she puts them down on her desk side by side they look like the Prince and the Pauper. So surely ONE apple is not equal to ONE apple. The only way to combine the ONE apples equally this way would be to get a blender, and a blender wouldn't produce a TWO apple... only apple-sauce. And she can compound the problem: she hands out the apples to the class by TWOs, but Amy got that big, red, shiny apple and Johnny got a little green one and a smashed one with a big brown spot and a worm in it. As surely as a ONE apple wasn't the same as another ONE apple, a TWO apple isn't any more equal. Laws and data ARE separate entities. And Johnny isn't a very happy boy. The point I'm making is that the math is an exact while the reality is approximation. A simplefication for the sake of efficiency, and the concept of TWO is not necessarily identical to ONE and ONE together. Defy that doctrine that tells you the inequality is solved by balancing weight and quality with a paring knife, too ... because what's left of at least one specimen by that method is no longer a ONE apple. The whole idea is pretty odd upon initial exposure -- fortunately Johnny is young and trusting, and maybe if he's lucky Amy has a crush on him. This is the preamble I picked up to an explanation of plot in fiction at it's simplest representation (it may go back generations, so I can't claim the wisdom behind it). Plot is the resolution of ONE force put together with another ONE force as surely as TWO is the resolution to ONE plus ONE. It's kinda fuzzy in the same way. Going at it with the physical representation, you have conflict as ONE boxer thrown together with another ONE boxer (it could as well be a pair of TWO boxers, or sets of FOUR or TEN); the resolution isn't exactly a TWO boxer, but it is the result of the combination. Boxer-sauce? In most stories the elements involved are wandering around a little more etherial territory, but still aren't so equal as they may seem, much less as equal as the abstract 'numbers' of elementary mathematics. The elements being emotions. When maternal love (ONE emotion) and profound patriotism (ONE emothion) get thrown together the resolution may be whether Johnny goes off to war. Johnny-sauce. The resolution of principle and data? Results may vary. ;) Apologies in closing, as well. Cheers, --Bob

**Follow-Ups**:**Re: The Unity of Data and Principle***From:*Chris Crawford <chriscrawford@wave.net>

**References**:**A melange of reactions***From:*Chris Crawford <chriscrawford@wave.net>

- Prev by Date:
**A melange of reactions** - Next by Date:
**Re: open conflicts** - Prev by thread:
**A melange of reactions** - Next by thread:
**Re: The Unity of Data and Principle** - Index(es):