Functions and variables (was: What Is Qi? Method of Authority)

[eetu pikkarainen 2017-02-28]

BA: I don’t believe that the environment calculates anything. A soap bubble is spherical because molecular forces tend to contract the soap film until the pressure inside the bubble becomes strong enough to resist any further contraction. I could use mathematical computations to model this process, but that does not mean I believe that the soap bubble is doing any calculating. That said, I do believe that there are actual entities in the environment, like distance or area or inter-shock interval. As an observer I might represent these mathematically in a model, but that is a very different thing from believing that the environment is computing these things.

Bruce thank you for this excellent comment.

I am sorry that this goes aside from proper control or perception theory, but I still want to stress the important of explication of the ontological commitments in science. Much of this debat has been about the ontological status of functions and variables. For me function is a certain kind of relation where certain input creates certain output. Thus it is a dependence relation. Now we could ask whether there are dependence relations in environment. I think there must be, otherwise we could not talk about natural powers and natural laws. As you say it is very different thing to describe those depences by mathematical function equations. Even though I am a constructivist, I still believe that the dependence between mass and energy was there even before the equation e = mc2 was invented.

Also the dependence between the area of a square and the lengths of the sides of that square is there even though nobody calculates nor even formulates the function.