Who- why- where are we ?

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:33 am

Londoner wrote: 'Analytic' isn't a position, any more than 'logic' or 'science'. It consists of trying to get people to clarify what they mean. If you show they cannot do that, then you aren't taking a contrary position, you are showing they they never had a position for you to be contrary to!
As you may well know, there's actually a whole school of analytic philosophy with its own tradition. I remember Foucault saying "I'm not an analytic philosopher" and he obviously didn't mean that he was incapable of analyzing philosophical problems.
Londoner wrote: It isn't that they have been 'proven' to be independent of our subjectivity, it is that it would be self-contradictory to have 'subjective laws'. A law has to apply to everything, but to say something is subjective is to say that it only applies to the subject. And as far as my perception is subjective, a function of the accidental circumstance of my position in time and space, then it is not useful. A scientific observation thus requires that many people make many observations, so that we can identify and disregard the subjective aspects.
When saying that the subjective aspects can be disregarded by multiple independent observations, it is being acknowledged that physical laws can be proven to be independent of our subjectivity.
Londoner wrote: Winter is only OK to use in science if it is not treated as a general concept. The word has to relate to something measurable, and it has to be a particular thing since otherwise you could not compare one 'winter' to another. For example, you could have 'day length' or 'temperature' - but not both because they are measured in different ways. If it was to be useful in science we would need to know what we meant by 'winter' such that we could measure one winter against another, but if winter was some unspecified combination of two different factors we could not do this. Or, if we did specify a range of factors, in a sort of check-list, then the reason winter would be 'winter' is because we say it is! We would not be doing science, we would be making rules for language.
I completely disagree. Particulars are subsumed into general categories and it's not true that science does not move beyond particulars. It is generally agreed that science proceeds by induction, making inferences from particular cases to the general case. For example, the anatomy of particular horses is studied and then the conclusions are applied to all horses in general. In the case of winters, they are not singular, perfectly limited bodies, nor simple events, but composed of many things and many events, all of which conform the concept of winter, both the particulars and the general category. But going back to horses, if we followed your criteria, scientist could not deal with the anatomy of horses in general, but just the anatomy of particular horses, of which they could not make any inference. Even worst, as particular horses are composed of many physical parts, systems and processes, they couldn't be the objects of scientific research because we wouldn't find in the conventions of language the specified combination of factors that make a horse. You are obviously confusing single/complex dichotomy with particular/general categories.
Londoner wrote: What does the word 'capture' mean in that formulation? If I 'capture' a mouse then I have the mouse itself.

But if I have 'a mental concept (representation)' of a mouse then I do not have the mouse itself. Indeed, that 'mental concept (representation)' might be of Mickey Mouse, and thus have no connection at all with any real, noumenal, mouse.

I could only know if my 'mental concept (representation)' was connected to the real, noumenal, mouse if I could compare it; if I could put the 'captured' real, noumenal mouse alongside my 'mental concept (representation)' of the mouse and compare the two.

I do not think we can do this, we can only have the 'mental concept (representation)'. I am asking if that is your position, or do you think we can literally 'capture' the real, noumenal mouse? Or something else?
I think I made my point clear enough as to not even entertain the possibility of "getting the mouse itself".

It's not true that the only way to know if my mental representations are connected to reality is to somehow magically assimilate the object into my being and put it alongside the represented image. I can infer the reality of objects through my subjective experiences, validating my observations with the observations of other parties (observers or instruments).
Londoner wrote: I am not concerned with the meaning of objects; I do not think it makes sense to talk of objects having a meaning. I am concerned with the meaning of the words 'exist' or 'real' or 'objective' which are being applied to objects as if they described a quality of that object; as if saying 'the rock is hard' and saying 'the rock exists', or 'the rock is real' are all alike, because they have the same grammatical structure. If we confuse these sorts of statements it gets us into well known philosophical problems.
You can always go on and on making philosophical problems mere semantic problems: is it the same to say "the rock exists", than to say "the rock is", "the rock really exists", "the real rock exists", etc.? There's no useful path to follow there, at least to clarify things, but just to create smoke screens.
Londoner wrote:
I do not understand what your 'realism' is. For example, are the criteria for something being real the sort you described earlier; that it relates to a measurable physical objects, that any observations are 'objective', i.e. confirmed by others and so on?
Be cautious not to confuse the criteria for knowing that something is real with the criteria for something to be real. Something could be real without me knowing it. Still it could be known by others.
Londoner wrote:In which case we certainly cannot 'perceive ourselves to exist' - I must tell you that although I can see the parts of your body I cannot confirm there is a 'self' inhabiting them. So, why don't you deduce that your perception of yourself is a 'delusion'?
Remember that it was you who put the burden on subjectivity as the cause of not knowing if things really existed. So it is you who has to explain why our subjective experience of our own existence wouldn't count as the same type of delusion.

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:55 am

Belinda wrote: By "Theories of Existence" I mean, roughly speaking:

1. Monist theories of existence.
a). Materialism(Physicalism)
b). Idealism (Immaterialism)
c). Neutral monism.

2. Dualism.

All theories of existence aim to be "realistic" .By "realistic" do you you mean practical? If so, Ithink that neutral monism most practically fits with modern science.
By realistic I just mean that you can permanently and consistently bind the concepts to the entities and events from which they were inferred. A realistic theory of the moon will be one which will describe accurately its concrete objective properties. I don't think anything but materialism can give us realistic explanations of the universe.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Londoner » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:18 am

Conde Lucanor wrote: As you may well know, there's actually a whole school of analytic philosophy with its own tradition. I remember Foucault saying "I'm not an analytic philosopher" and he obviously didn't mean that he was incapable of analyzing philosophical problems.
Analytic philosophers tend to look at philosophical problems by examining the language in which they are expressed. Yes, it could be called a tradition, but the contention was that is was a 'doctrine' or 'position'. I don't see there is much point in continuing to argue this point; if analytic philosophy is a doctrine, what is it?
I completely disagree. Particulars are subsumed into general categories and it's not true that science does not move beyond particulars. It is generally agreed that science proceeds by induction, making inferences from particular cases to the general case. For example, the anatomy of particular horses is studied and then the conclusions are applied to all horses in general.
This might be true if you are a vet, or a punter at the racetrack. But these are not sciences because such people have a specific purpose, for example to keep horses healthy or select winners. But those considerations are not scientific. Science looks at the underlying structure, and the underlying structure of a horse - and the way the anatomy of a horse responds to physical forces and in its chemistry it is no different to the underlying structure of anything else in the universe. If the horse dies and rots away, that is significant for the vet or the punter, but as far as science goes the dead horse is responding to exactly the same physical laws as it did when it was alive. The further we move from the particular the better, ideally we are looking for formulas - or a single formula - that applies to absolutely everything.

A vet or a punter might be called scientific in the sense that they apply a rigorous method, keep records etc., but strictly speaking they are not doing physical science.
It's not true that the only way to know if my mental representations are connected to reality is to somehow magically assimilate the object into my being and put it alongside the represented image. I can infer the reality of objects through my subjective experiences, validating my observations with the observations of other parties (observers or instruments).
Here you use the phrase 'connected to reality'. This begs the question of 'how connected'? A hole in the ground is 'connected' to a mole, but it does not resemble a mole in any respect.

And if it is the reported observations of other parties that validate your own observations, turning them from subjective into objective, then a claim that your observations are 'objective' is not a claim about the observations themselves, but about other people. 'Objective' then means the same thing as 'other observers agree'. (And I'm fine with that.)

Although there is a problem with the word 'observations', since (like 'capture' in the previous post) it cannot be meant literally. There is no single sense in which we 'observe' the world. For example, we describe the world in terms of generalisations, we employ logic in our descriptions, we apply different criteria about what counts as an observation depending on the subject...we only get other people to agree with us if we are all on the same page. For example, I can get others to agree with my observation that I 'have dreams', but only because we all understand it is not an observation in the sense of 'seeing'. And we can only communicate our observations using language, but then we are already at one remove from our observation. Language contains more than the bare observation; it must do since the bare observation is particular and mine alone - I have to turn it into a generality in order to communicate.
You can always go on and on making philosophical problems mere semantic problems: is it the same to say "the rock exists", than to say "the rock is", "the rock really exists", "the real rock exists", etc.? There's no useful path to follow there, at least to clarify things, but just to create smoke screens.
I can always go on pointing out such problems...because the problems are there to be pointed out!

As I have remarked before, I do not think you can come up with a coherent account of what 'realism' means. I think you will always be obliged to paper over the cracks by using figurative terms that will not stand up to analysis.
Remember that it was you who put the burden on subjectivity as the cause of not knowing if things really existed. So it is you who has to explain why our subjective experience of our own existence wouldn't count as the same type of delusion.
I don't know why you keep bringing in this word 'delusion' as if I had been saying our experiences were 'delusions'. I have said nothing of the sort.

I'll say once again, my position is that phrases like 'really existed' make no sense. As opposed to 'un-really existed' or 'really non-existing'? As I wrote last time, 'existence' is not a predicate. If you treat it as if it was you just tie yourself up in knots.

I think our subjective existence 'exists' in that when I talk about 'subjective existence' other people know what I mean. They know what a claim that something has subjective existence implies. And when I say that the moon exists, they also know what I mean, they know what that claim implies. But the two claims are different. The meaning of each claim arises entirely from the two subjects. There is not an additional subject 'existence', such that if I observe myself and observe the moon I will find 'existence' in both places. (I could make the same point about the word 'real')

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:08 pm

Conde Lucanor: I understand now that by "realistic" you mean that you hold the theory of existence called materialism(physicalism).


I understand how materialism is seemingly reasonable, as empirical scientific knowledge encroaches upon what was once the mental territory of pure thought and even creative speculation.

Have you ever thought that all which we take in the everyday and the science sense to be real, may depend from mind? I'm not trying to persuade you, as I think that materialism is a respectable theory of existence.Just wondering and suggesting.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:20 pm

Londoner wrote:
This might be true if you are a vet, or a punter at the racetrack. But these are not sciences because such people have a specific purpose, for example to keep horses healthy or select winners. But those considerations are not scientific. Science looks at the underlying structure, and the underlying structure of a horse - and the way the anatomy of a horse responds to physical forces and in its chemistry it is no different to the underlying structure of anything else in the universe. If the horse dies and rots away, that is significant for the vet or the punter, but as far as science goes the dead horse is responding to exactly the same physical laws as it did when it was alive. The further we move from the particular the better, ideally we are looking for formulas - or a single formula - that applies to absolutely everything.
Londoner, what do you think about that basic event of the Standard Theory in physics, that of the release of a photon by an electron, as a candidate for "a single formula- that applies to absolutely everything ?

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:33 am

Londoner wrote:
Analytic philosophers tend to look at philosophical problems by examining the language in which they are expressed. Yes, it could be called a tradition, but the contention was that is was a 'doctrine' or 'position'. I don't see there is much point in continuing to argue this point; if analytic philosophy is a doctrine, what is it?
As I explained before, I made such distinctions here for practical purposes, to see the broader context of the discussion, more than an interest in making a precise delimitation of philosophical schools.
Londoner wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:I completely disagree. Particulars are subsumed into general categories and it's not true that science does not move beyond particulars. It is generally agreed that science proceeds by induction, making inferences from particular cases to the general case. For example, the anatomy of particular horses is studied and then the conclusions are applied to all horses in general.
This might be true if you are a vet, or a punter at the racetrack. But these are not sciences because such people have a specific purpose, for example to keep horses healthy or select winners. But those considerations are not scientific.
Anatomy is a science, a branch of biology. I don't think veterinarians or punters do scientific research on anatomy of horses. Neither is the news weatherman doing the scientific papers on climate science. There are scientists doing that job and these professions may just apply that knowledge.
Londoner wrote:Science looks at the underlying structure, and the underlying structure of a horse - and the way the anatomy of a horse responds to physical forces and in its chemistry it is no different to the underlying structure of anything else in the universe.
I don't agree with such a view, but anyway, using your own criteria, none of that could be known to be true, at least not universal and necessary, but just corresponding to a preset construction of your mind.
Londoner wrote: Here you use the phrase 'connected to reality'. This begs the question of 'how connected'? A hole in the ground is 'connected' to a mole, but it does not resemble a mole in any respect.
To be on your same page, I just used your own language when you said: "...my 'mental concept (representation)' was connected to the real...". If it is a faulty concept, you may want to correct it in your own argument first.

Perception implies a relation between the object perceived and the mind through the senses. When we think of our concepts being real is that we find that the mental representation corresponds, is faithful to the object. In that sense, they are "connected".
Londoner wrote:And if it is the reported observations of other parties that validate your own observations, turning them from subjective into objective, then a claim that your observations are 'objective' is not a claim about the observations themselves, but about other people. 'Objective' then means the same thing as 'other observers agree'. (And I'm fine with that.)
You are confusing a few things here. Please be reminded that we are discussing how the subject knows that something in his/her subjective mind, in his/her perceptions, is real. In other words, how can he/she trust him/herself that what is perceived has existence outside of his/her mind. That is the question; we are not discussing how he/she can demonstrate to someone else something to be real. We are not dealing yet with what the subject can claim to others and what is the status of such claims. In other words, we are not talking yet about discourse, even though in the broader context of philosophy and science it is useful. And the answer to the question of how can we trust our minds is that my observations can be independently verified. As said about the little experiment of the object in the room and two independent observers, you don't need to utter a word for it to work. And then, of course, we can take that basic notion of our subject/object relationship and put it into play in the realm of discourse, scientific practices, etc., but the notion of things having objective existence outside our minds prevails.

Londoner wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:You can always go on and on making philosophical problems mere semantic problems: is it the same to say "the rock exists", than to say "the rock is", "the rock really exists", "the real rock exists", etc.? There's no useful path to follow there, at least to clarify things, but just to create smoke screens.
I can always go on pointing out such problems...because the problems are there to be pointed out!
But then you are shooting to phony ducks because semantic problems are not real problems.
Londoner wrote: I don't know why you keep bringing in this word 'delusion' as if I had been saying our experiences were 'delusions'. I have said nothing of the sort.
If not said, at least implied. What else can be called the notion that our primary intuition, our belief that sensory data refers to objects, is a false belief and that it is our mind that constructs the objects.
Londoner wrote:I'll say once again, my position is that phrases like 'really existed' make no sense. As opposed to 'un-really existed' or 'really non-existing'? As I wrote last time, 'existence' is not a predicate. If you treat it as if it was you just tie yourself up in knots.
But you keep constructing predicative statements with the copula "to be". When you say of something that it "is", you are denoting a particular mode of its existence. Phrases like "really is" are equivalent to "really exist" and do make sense.
Londoner wrote:I think our subjective existence 'exists' in that when I talk about 'subjective existence' other people know what I mean.

According to your own claims, you don't know and can't ever know that other people exist. All you know is that you have representations of people in your mind. Everything that follows from that premise makes no sense, becomes fortuitous and arbitrary.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:43 am

Belinda wrote:Conde Lucanor: I understand now that by "realistic" you mean that you hold the theory of existence called materialism(physicalism).


I understand how materialism is seemingly reasonable, as empirical scientific knowledge encroaches upon what was once the mental territory of pure thought and even creative speculation.

Have you ever thought that all which we take in the everyday and the science sense to be real, may depend from mind? I'm not trying to persuade you, as I think that materialism is a respectable theory of existence.Just wondering and suggesting.
Perhaps everyone has given thought to this possibility, but as all materialists have realized at the moment of leaving behind any trace of idealism, it is unrealistic. Ultimately, such subjective idealism must reduce its claims to the existence of the Absolute, and more precise, its mind, but then one would have to wonder, among other things, why that world of ideas inside the mind of the Absolute would behave according to materialistic laws.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:25 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Perhaps everyone has given thought to this possibility, but as all materialists have realized at the moment of leaving behind any trace of idealism, it is unrealistic. Ultimately, such subjective idealism must reduce its claims to the existence of the Absolute, and more precise, its mind, but then one would have to wonder, among other things, why that world of ideas inside the mind of the Absolute would behave according to materialistic laws.
I doubt if more than a fraction of one percent of people give any thought at all to theories of existence.

Idealism is subjective insofar as each mind is different from every other mind, so how can idealism reduce its claims to the Absolute, or even to the absolute? I know that we say 'mind' as if it were everywhere the same like oxygen; but this is only a figure of speech.

I have no notion of what "inside the mind of the Absolute" means.The way you give the Absolute a capital letter looks to me as if you equate it with God in some sense. The absolute the opposite of the incomplete or particular ; that's all it means. Minds are particular minds there is no such thing as absolute mind.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Londoner » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:39 pm

Conde Lucanor wrote: Me: Science looks at the underlying structure, and the underlying structure of a horse - and the way the anatomy of a horse responds to physical forces and in its chemistry it is no different to the underlying structure of anything else in the universe.
I don't agree with such a view, but anyway, using your own criteria, none of that could be known to be true, at least not universal and necessary, but just corresponding to a preset construction of your mind.
Unless we think a horse is not part of the material world, then surely the scientific explanations of what a horse is made of, its chemistry, physics and so on, would be the same as for anything else.

It is true that science cannot know what is true in the metaphysical sense. It does not claim to, it only measures the phenomenal. not the noumenal. And since we live in the world of phenomena, science is very useful!
Perception implies a relation between the object perceived and the mind through the senses. When we think of our concepts being real is that we find that the mental representation corresponds, is faithful to the object. In that sense, they are "connected".
And how do we know that it 'corresponds/is faithful to' the object? What tool do we use to 'find' that, the tool we use cannot be 'perception/through the senses' because those are what we are testing. But how else can we know objects?
You are confusing a few things here. Please be reminded that we are discussing how the subject knows that something in his/her subjective mind, in his/her perceptions, is real. In other words, how can he/she trust him/herself that what is perceived has existence outside of his/her mind... And the answer to the question of how can we trust our minds is that my observations can be independently verified.
This is what you wrote earlier, except now you have introduced a second term 'verified'. Do 'verified' and 'real' mean the same thing? Or is it possible that others could 'verify' your observations, yet the observed thing not be 'real'? Or that the observed thing be 'real' yet your observations not be 'verified'? If 'real' and 'verified' don't mean the same thing, then one would not confirm the other. But if they are the same thing then this formulation is a tautology.
Me: I can always go on pointing out such problems...because the problems are there to be pointed out!
But then you are shooting to phony ducks because semantic problems are not real problems.
I'd say that if an argument cannot be clearly formulated then that shows it has problems.
Me: I don't know why you keep bringing in this word 'delusion' as if I had been saying our experiences were 'delusions'. I have said nothing of the sort.
If not said, at least implied. What else can be called the notion that our primary intuition, our belief that sensory data refers to objects, is a false belief and that it is our mind that constructs the objects.
When I look at a tree in the garden, I do not think the tree is very small and two-dimensional, even though that is what I see. Even though I cannot sense this directly, I think the tree is only small because it is far away. I think the tree has sides and a back, although I cannot see them. I think the tree has other properties, like hardness. At night, the tree is black, but I am aware that under other conditions it is green. If I look away, then turn back, I do not think the tree has disappeared and then a new tree has appeared. I am aware that although the tree appears solid, it is actually made of tiny particles held together by invisible forces. I understand the tree as a type of plant, in some ways similar and in other ways different to other plants. I know that in Italian the same object would be an 'albero'....and so on.

So I do think my mind constructs 'tree', from a mass of sources, of which my immediate sensations are a very small part. However, would it be reasonable to say that for you, everything about the tree except the immediate sensations are a 'delusion'? If not, then we can agree that the word 'delusion' is not tied to the way we interpret our immediate sensations.
Me: As I wrote last time, 'existence' is not a predicate. If you treat it as if it was you just tie yourself up in knots.
But you keep constructing predicative statements with the copula "to be". When you say of something that it "is", you are denoting a particular mode of its existence. Phrases like "really is" are equivalent to "really exist" and do make sense.
If the 'to be' is linked with another word it shows how that word is to be understood; its tense etc. If I say I 'want to be happy' that isn't saying I want two separate things; 'happiness' and 'being'.

Phrases like 'really is' and 'really exist' only make sense if linked to some other word. 'Londoner really is happy (he's not pretending)'. 'Londoner really exists (I didn't make him up)' If there wasn't a subject, what would those phrases mean? 'It really is' It really is what? 'It just really is'.
Me: I think our subjective existence 'exists' in that when I talk about 'subjective existence' other people know what I mean.
According to your own claims, you don't know and can't ever know that other people exist. All you know is that you have representations of people in your mind. Everything that follows from that premise makes no sense, becomes fortuitous and arbitrary.
That's right, I cannot know that other people have an internal life like my own. It seems likely, and if I work on the assumption that they do then it usually works out (although I also know they do not have an internal life exactly like my own). That is a commonplace of philosophy.

It doesn't follow that consequently everything is 'fortuitous and arbitrary' because that is not how we use those words. A claim that something is 'real' is not usually taken as a claim to have metaphysical knowledge, to know the 'noumenal'. Similarly, our lack of ultimate metaphysical certainty is not what we mean when we say something is 'arbitrary'.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Harbal » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:09 pm

Londoner wrote:
When I look at a tree in the garden, I do not think the tree is very small and two-dimensional, even though that is what I see. Even though I cannot sense this directly, I think the tree is only small because it is far away. I think the tree has sides and a back, although I cannot see them. I think the tree has other properties, like hardness. At night, the tree is black, but I am aware that under other conditions it is green. If I look away, then turn back, I do not think the tree has disappeared and then a new tree has appeared. I am aware that although the tree appears solid, it is actually made of tiny particles held together by invisible forces. I understand the tree as a type of plant, in some ways similar and in other ways different to other plants. I know that in Italian the same object would be an 'albero'....and so on.
I have an imaginary tree in my garden to which none of the above applies. How do you explain that?

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:04 am

Belinda wrote:I doubt if more than a fraction of one percent of people give any thought at all to theories of existence.
You are right. What I meant is that idealism in its various forms is the most popular approach. Even without much reflection on the issues of existence, idealism is implicit in many everyday's concerns of people, their basic understanding of the world.
Belinda wrote:Idealism is subjective insofar as each mind is different from every other mind, so how can idealism reduce its claims to the Absolute, or even to the absolute?
For the simple reason that subjective idealism is a monistic doctrine. To solve the issue of having minds without their material brains, which would account as dualism and some form of materialism, subjective idealism must look for the universal, all-embracing mind. Because the relations among minds must be governed by a subjacent order, and because the very concept of mind implies autonomy, will and purpose, that is, a well delimited agent; a deterministic stance must be assumed in which all minds are nothing but manifestations of the all-embracing mind, the one and only autonomous mind, the Absolute.
Belinda wrote:I have no notion of what "inside the mind of the Absolute" means.The way you give the Absolute a capital letter looks to me as if you equate it with God in some sense. The absolute the opposite of the incomplete or particular ; that's all it means. Minds are particular minds there is no such thing as absolute mind.
And where do particular minds "dwell", so to speak?

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:55 am

Londoner wrote:Unless we think a horse is not part of the material world, then surely the scientific explanations of what a horse is made of, its chemistry, physics and so on, would be the same as for anything else.

It is true that science cannot know what is true in the metaphysical sense. It does not claim to, it only measures the phenomenal. not the noumenal. And since we live in the world of phenomena, science is very useful!
It's becoming increasingly very hard to reconcile your stance on the impossibility of knowledge of noumena and your other stance on how and what things are and their causal relations. One cancels the other and the best that could be said about science would be that it's deceitful. No causal relations between things can be posited, just relations between representations, all of which will be of private production and consumption. As I'm writing this, according to your claims, all that I can know is that I'm constructing the entire situation in my mind, including the paradoxical notion that I'm debating you on that issue. On your side, assuming that you existed outside my imagination, you would be doing the same, and all my arguments are actually produced in your mind. Isn't that interesting?
Londoner wrote:This is what you wrote earlier, except now you have introduced a second term 'verified'. Do 'verified' and 'real' mean the same thing? Or is it possible that others could 'verify' your observations, yet the observed thing not be 'real'? Or that the observed thing be 'real' yet your observations not be 'verified'? If 'real' and 'verified' don't mean the same thing, then one would not confirm the other. But if they are the same thing then this formulation is a tautology.
"Verify" is a synonym of "validate". I used this term before, so I have not introduced any new concept.
Londoner wrote:I'd say that if an argument cannot be clearly formulated then that shows it has problems.
But what you're proposing is different. You're actually stating that there can't be clear formulations, because all of them are relative perspectives, particular constructions of each individual mind which ultimately get lost in different interpretations of language. If they become problematic, it's because you posit that they must be so, that they are inherently problematic.
Londoner wrote:So I do think my mind constructs 'tree', from a mass of sources, of which my immediate sensations are a very small part. However, would it be reasonable to say that for you, everything about the tree except the immediate sensations are a 'delusion'? If not, then we can agree that the word 'delusion' is not tied to the way we interpret our immediate sensations.
What you've been actually saying is that there's no way to know that the perceived tree exists outside your imagination. It's concluded then that any proposition of universal truth about the existence of the tree is by definition delusional, since there are (according to your premises) no universal truths, just unwarranted beliefs.
Londoner wrote:If the 'to be' is linked with another word it shows how that word is to be understood; its tense etc. If I say I 'want to be happy' that isn't saying I want two separate things; 'happiness' and 'being'.
The copula "want" just expresses the desire of something, and in this case linked to the verb "to be", refers to a future mode of being (of happiness). If such desired state of being is reached, the copula will be updated to its present tense value: "I am happy".
Londoner wrote:Phrases like 'really is' and 'really exist' only make sense if linked to some other word. 'Londoner really is happy (he's not pretending)'. 'Londoner really exists (I didn't make him up)' If there wasn't a subject, what would those phrases mean? 'It really is' It really is what? 'It just really is'.
"Ergo sum (therefore, I am)", a capital sentence in the history of philosophy, shows that "to be" doesn't have to take the copulative form to make sense. Since it often expresses a mode of being, it is linked to other words, but the fact that it makes sense in an intransitive form, is due to its relation to the expression "to exist", which is intransitive.
Londoner wrote: That's right, I cannot know that other people have an internal life like my own. It seems likely, and if I work on the assumption that they do then it usually works out (although I also know they do not have an internal life exactly like my own). That is a commonplace of philosophy.
No, at best it's a commonplace of idealist philosophy. But how would you know that "they do not have an internal life exactly like my own", since you can only know your internal life?

Belinda
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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:06 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
And where do particular minds "dwell", so to speak?

Do you think that minds are

1. identical with brains? Or

2. minds are entirely separate substances from brains? Or

3. brains are minds , perceived however from the point of view of an anatomist?Or

4. there are no such things as minds which are a fanciful notion manufactured by brains?

The form of words in which you ask your question, Conde, implies that you presume that minds are separate substances from brains. Do you believe that you are a mind who dwells in a body?

Conde Lucanor wrote:
-------subjective idealism is a monistic doctrine. To solve the issue of having minds without their material brains, which would account as dualism and some form of materialism, subjective idealism must look for the universal, all-embracing mind. Because the relations among minds must be governed by a subjacent order, and because the very concept of mind implies autonomy, will and purpose, that is, a well delimited agent; a deterministic stance must be assumed in which all minds are nothing but manifestations of the all-embracing mind, the one and only autonomous mind, the Absolute.
(my underline)

True, idealism is a monism. Materialism also is a monism. Metaphysical idealists believe simply that physical bodies are ideas that depend from minds: for idealists bodies are mind-dependent. This doesn't imply that bodies don't exist, but that that bodies exist mind-dependently. Materialists, on the other hand, believe that minds exist body-dependently.

The concept of mind doesn't imply "autonomy, will and purpose". Minds are influenced by other minds, by states of the body including the brain, and by states of the natural environment. We know how easily minds are influenced by some politician or advertiser. We know how minds are influenced by acute fever, by some drugs, and by hormones.

You write " Materialists, on the other hand, believe that minds exist body-dependently" . What do you think is the difference between substance dualism on one hand, and materialism on the other hand?

Londoner
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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Londoner » Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:03 am

Conde Lucanor wrote: It's becoming increasingly very hard to reconcile your stance on the impossibility of knowledge of noumena and your other stance on how and what things are and their causal relations.
'What things are and their causal relations' are descriptions of phenomena, not noumena.
As I'm writing this, according to your claims, all that I can know is that I'm constructing the entire situation in my mind, including the paradoxical notion that I'm debating you on that issue. On your side, assuming that you existed outside my imagination, you would be doing the same, and all my arguments are actually produced in your mind. Isn't that interesting?
We have had this before; it is not what I said. I go over it again below,
Me: I'd say that if an argument cannot be clearly formulated then that shows it has problems.
But what you're proposing is different. You're actually stating that there can't be clear formulations, because all of them are relative perspectives, particular constructions of each individual mind which ultimately get lost in different interpretations of language. If they become problematic, it's because you posit that they must be so, that they are inherently problematic.
It isn't that the words are 'particular constructions of each individual mind'. If that was the case then we couldn't understand each other. On the contrary, words are a tool of communication - for a purpose. If two people use a word like 'real' then it is understood relative to the purpose. So, for example we might agree that 'dreams are real' (people have dreams) but also agree 'dreams are not real' (the experiences in dreams are unlike those we have when we are awake).

This means that if you want to argue that something is 'real' this can only be understood if you explain the context, what you mean by 'real'. But perhaps you can't; perhaps you find you are still including contexts with contradictory meanings. Or perhaps an explanation is circular, you explain the meaning of 'real' using other abstract terms, that also can only be understood in context. The 'real' is that which can be 'verified', things that can be 'verified' are things which are 'real'.

So if we are discussing what is 'real' - as opposed to how we use the word 'real' - we need to pin down what we mean. If we can't, we cannot have the discussion because we don't know what we are discussing.
What you've been actually saying is that there's no way to know that the perceived tree exists outside your imagination. It's concluded then that any proposition of universal truth about the existence of the tree is by definition delusional, since there are (according to your premises) no universal truths, just unwarranted beliefs.
One can have a warrant for belief without claiming one is in possession of 'universal truth'.

I have discussed at length, several times, what I think it means to say a perceived tree 'exists' and how I understand perception.

These references to 'delusions' and 'constructing the entire situation in my mind' serve to depict this exchange as if I was claiming that all our experiences are self-generated. What I am saying is that the character of our experiences, whatever their origin, are the products of our own organs of perception and understanding.

I think that my experience of the colour of a tree as 'green' is the product of ambient light, and pigmentation, the workings of the human eye and the nervous system and the brain. I think this because I note that if you change any of those factors then the experienced colour also changes. Consequently, to think that 'green' was a feature of the noumenal tree, the tree 'in itself' would not make sense.

However, although my experience of the tree is not constant, it is persistent and not in my control. Sometimes the tree looks green, sometimes (at night) it is black, but I cannot choose to see a different colour, nor can I wish the experience away, nor does the tree appear and disappear in an arbitrary manner. It is those features that make me believe that the tree is something outside my own head. And if somebody asked 'Is the tree real?' I would usually assume they were asking if my experience had the degree of persistency I have described.

So, I have reason to believe that there is something outside my head that is involved in perception. But I also have reason to think that my perceptions are not direct copies of that something.

If you continue to insist on describing this as me 'actually saying' that everything is a 'delusion' etc. I can only disagree.
Me: Phrases like 'really is' and 'really exist' only make sense if linked to some other word. 'Londoner really is happy (he's not pretending)'. 'Londoner really exists (I didn't make him up)' If there wasn't a subject, what would those phrases mean? 'It really is' It really is what? 'It just really is'
"Ergo sum (therefore, I am)", a capital sentence in the history of philosophy, shows that "to be" doesn't have to take the copulative form to make sense. Since it often expresses a mode of being, it is linked to other words, but the fact that it makes sense in an intransitive form, is due to its relation to the expression "to exist", which is intransitive.
But it doesn't. 'Ergo sum' is not a capital sentence in philosophy and does not make sense on its own. What does that 'therefore' relate to? Does 'therefore cheese' make sense? So, we can drop the 'ergo' and just have the 'sum'; 'I am'.

Now this superficially resembles other sentences, like 'I eat', but it is different. In 'I eat', the 'I' is different to the 'eat'. Because the two are different we could also say 'I do not eat'. . But we cannot say 'I do not be' or 'I am not I''. This is because the 'being',the 'existing', is already contained in the subject, we cannot introduce the subject 'I' and simultaneously take it away; 'is not'.

You can also see this if you suppose we were to ask of the person who said 'I am' what this meant, what they were being. They would reply 'I am I'. So we ask, 'And what is I?' They would again reply 'I am I'. They are stuck in this loop because by saying 'I am' they have not said anything.

I am not making this stuff up as I go along; it is mainstream philosophy The use of existence as a predicate features in well known 'ontological arguments'; these also look reasonable on first inspection because they superficially resemble the grammar of normal logic, but that is a trap.
Me: That's right, I cannot know that other people have an internal life like my own. It seems likely, and if I work on the assumption that they do then it usually works out (although I also know they do not have an internal life exactly like my own). That is a commonplace of philosophy.

No, at best it's a commonplace of idealist philosophy. But how would you know that "they do not have an internal life exactly like my own", since you can only know your internal life?
When I write 'I cannot know' that cuts both ways. I can neither know that other people do have an internal life (they are not robots) and I cannot know that they don't. You seem to think that I must make an arbitrary decision, join some philosophical school and support one view rather than another, as if 'Idealism' was a sort of cult. That isn't how it works; if we cannot know something then that is the situation. Idealism not what you suggest, it is nuanced, it covers a great range of ideas.

As to how I know other people do not have an internal life exactly like my own, it is because they sometimes do things that surprise me, or turn out to know things I don't, or not know things I do. So I hypothesise that other people do have an internal life and one that is like my own in some ways, but not entirely. Don't you?

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:40 am

Belinda wrote:Do you think that minds are

1. identical with brains? Or

2. minds are entirely separate substances from brains? Or

3. brains are minds , perceived however from the point of view of an anatomist?Or

4. there are no such things as minds which are a fanciful notion manufactured by brains?

The form of words in which you ask your question, Conde, implies that you presume that minds are separate substances from brains. Do you believe that you are a mind who dwells in a body?
Let me clarify. I'm assumming that since you asked me this...
Belinda wrote:Have you ever thought that all which we take in the everyday and the science sense to be real, may depend from mind? I'm not trying to persuade you, as I think that materialism is a respectable theory of existence.Just wondering and suggesting.
...this thread is dealing with idealism, which you are suggesting I give it a thought. So well, I gave a thought to the notion that "minds are particular minds there is no such thing as absolute mind" from the point of view of idealism. I'm not saying what I actually think of minds, just following your argument to see where it takes us. But if you were not talking from the point of view of idealism, then I can surely abort that journey.

Now I tell you what I think is the right view, consistent with materialism: minds are what physical brains do. Using a mechanical analogy, a car operates and that car's operation is not said to be a substance inside the car. It cannot be separated from the car itself and it is, figuratively speaking, attached to it, the same way a mind is attached to a brain.
Belinda wrote: True, idealism is a monism. Materialism also is a monism. Metaphysical idealists believe simply that physical bodies are ideas that depend from minds: for idealists bodies are mind-dependent. This doesn't imply that bodies don't exist, but that that bodies exist mind-dependently.
The type of idealism that we are talking about here, monistic idealism, does not conceive the existence of physical (material) bodies, so yes those bodies won't be anything but ideas. That's the mind-dependency that is allowed under such conception. But let's be clear: that's the same as the car operation without the car attached to it.
Belinda wrote:Materialists, on the other hand, believe that minds exist body-dependently.
Yes, the kind of mind that is attached to its brain as a car operation to its car.
Belinda wrote:The concept of mind doesn't imply "autonomy, will and purpose". Minds are influenced by other minds, by states of the body including the brain, and by states of the natural environment. We know how easily minds are influenced by some politician or advertiser. We know how minds are influenced by acute fever, by some drugs, and by hormones.
That is, obviously, the deterministic view of consciousness. I think it's OK to say that minds are influenced by other minds, but strictly speaking, what happens is that brains are influenced by other brains, organic functions and the environment. Minds are what brains do and you have brains in conscious organisms. Even though I agree that all those factors influence their brains, conscious beings remain autonomous within the spectrum of circumstances, which are open and fluid, given the amount of choices to be made. Will and purpose are natural, essential faculties of brains, and therefore, the concept of mind implies them.
Belinda wrote:You write " Materialists, on the other hand, believe that minds exist body-dependently" . What do you think is the difference between substance dualism on one hand, and materialism on the other hand?
I don't think I ever wrote that, but for me substance dualism constitutes idealism, since it can postulate the independence of the soul (aka the mind), as some immaterial substance, from the body.

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