As Ouspensky argued well (nearly a century ago) in Tertium Organum (following Kant), our concepts of time and space are human constructs based on our conscious experience as members of the human species, and there is no reason to think they have a basis in reality outside that perspective. Laurence Glazier.

It is naive to believe human concepts are merely arbitrary constructs. Oliver Wendell Holmes drew the distinction between the (simplistic) simplicity on this side of complexity, and the (enlightened) simplicity that emerges on the far side of complexity.

The child believes that things are as they appear. The philosopher doubts that things are as they appear. But perhaps, at a more enlightened level still, the child was correct and things are indeed as they appear. (Perhaps as Samuel Johnson, when he could no longer tolerate the "ingenious sophistry" of philosopher Berkeley's "proof" that matter does not exist, said: "I refute it thus" and kicked his foot on a large stone.)

The belief that space and time are arbitrary constructs is, alas, an insight on the wrong side of complexity. Of course they are arbitrary constructs. So are numbers and mathematics, for that matter.

These are 18th and 19th century insights, and far from the final word. The truly miraculous thing, as Einstein always marveled, is that by manipulating these "arbitrary constructs," we can, astoundingly, make accurate predictions and create real changes in the world.

James Clerk Maxwell envisioned electromagnetism as having hydrodynamic properties, and based on this–as it turns out–false model, derived equations that worked.

So if man-made concepts (as if there were any other kind) are merely arbitrary, how then do we explain the miracle that these constructs enable us to do things in the real world?

I liked Larry's point about Ouspensky's never having traded. There's a great chess quote from Emanuel Lasker he reminded me of:

"On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not survive long. The creative combination lays bare the presumption of a lie; the merciless fact, culminating in checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite."

Nothing like the real world of trading to expose, in the long run at least, the weaknesses in one's thinking.


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