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Paul Grobstein's picture

classification, decoding, and story telling

I'm glad we agree there is no reason to be either surprised or distressed "that we are always working in 'subjective worlds' that may be different in different people."  And that "Only with many viewpoints do we dilute individual bias" (see The Objectivity/Subjectivity Spectrum).  And that statistics (and humans, see The Odds of That) "is quite susceptible to the acceptance of a hypothesis as supported when it is indeed false."  Against that background, let me push the argument a little further?
Yes, story tellers are inevitably "classifiers" but I don't think that is "synonymous" with "decoders," for reasons that relate to the issue Anne raised in an earlier session about sending an understandable message into the future.   The notion of "decoding" contains an implicit assumption that there is something fixed and unique (if not "intended") that is represented in the coded form and that needs to be recovered, that there is "meaning" or "information" independent of the coder and decoder.  That seems to me tantamount to slipping an only slightly disguised "reality" back into the discussion.  My own guess is that neither information nor meaning (to say nothing of reality) exists independently of a decoder/encoder (see Information?: An Inquiry).  Statistics can tell us whether there is a deviation from randomness but nothing about the "meaning" of that deviation.   For that we need not a decoder but a story teller who classifies for particular reasons.  And have to face the consequence that different story tellers with different reasons will classify differently.   
"So what?", as Peter says, "does it matter?"  I think it does, since it suggests that our task as inquirers is actually to create information/meaning, rather than to uncover/discover it (cf Empirical Inquiry: Limitations and Possibilities).  And that's a quite different sort of task than the one we're used to/were trained to do.  And it means that different stories may be different without any of them being dismissible/wrong.   Along those lines, the distinction between "time is finite" and time with "no beginning, no end" is directly relevant.  One can make a serious argument that "time" is a construction, a story element, rather than a fixed something out there (cf Timing the conscious and the unconscious).  Hence it makes perfectly good sense that there exist multiple stories about it.      


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