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 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:22 am

Londoner wrote:'What things are and their causal relations' are descriptions of phenomena, not noumena.
Not necessarily, since when we are describing phenomena we are referring to how the noumena appears to us. In other words, because things as they appear to us are intrinsically related and depend of things in themselves, our perceptions can give us keys to knowing how the world of things in themselves works. Unless you thought that things as they appear to our senses are not intrinsically related to things in themselves.
Londoner wrote: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.
I already explained quite a few posts back what I defined as "real". To that you responded with the following objections, all inmersed in subjectivism: 1) that "real" cannot be defined, that it's a mere tautology and can't refer to "things in themselves". 2) that all we have access are constructions of the mind and everything "arises from us". To claim something to be real, according to you, is to make a claim about the nature of perception, not of the thing in itself. I gave lenghty explanations of my views opposing that conception, so I won't repeat them now.
Londoner wrote: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 guess you didn't realize that you just did what you started saying you never do. If experiences are "the products of our own organs of perception and understanding", then they are self-generated.
Londoner wrote: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'.
Of course we can drop the "ergo": "I am" has a full meaning on its own. Now, if you will not agree that this famous sentence, which is said to be part of the beginning of modern Western philosophy, is a capital sentence in philosophy, I shall respect your opinion.

How about "To be or not to be"?
Londoner wrote: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 forget that in English, as in all languages, there are non-copulative expressions, like Descartes' famous sentence and even sentences without verbs: "trees, therefore life". We can say "I am" because we can say "I exist" and the negative form will be "I am not". That's the way it's constructed in English, but in Spanish is even more straightforward: "yo soy" the affirmative form and "yo no soy" the negative form.
Londoner wrote: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.
Again, you are forcing non-copulative expressions to be copulative, ignoring the use of the verb "to be" as "to exist".

Londoner wrote: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.
Verbs link the subjects to other expressions and form the predicates. They are also part of the predicates. "To exist" is a verb and forms a predicate.
Londoner wrote: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.
But as I quoted, you did say that you know about their internal life. This is what is contradictory: you affirm and reaffirm that you don't know, that you cannot know, and all of the sudden you know.
Londoner wrote: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.
Just the same way you don't find useful categorizing philosophical ideas in schools or doctrines, I don't find useful categorizing them as "mainstream philosophy" or "commonplace of philosophy", as if they were neutral, non-arguable philosophical ideas. And that's precisely a very good reason to categorize them in the schools or doctrines they belong to, so that they don't pretend to be neutral and out of question.
Londoner wrote: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?
But you don't know of "real" other people, just the perception on your mind of other people, right? So how can you tell something about "people in themselves"?

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:19 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
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.
It's not correct that minds are what physical brains do. What the brain does is the physiology of the anatomical brain. Mind is something else. What the brain does can be looked at by means of scientific instruments, but what we usually mean by the mind cannot be looked at by scientific instruments'
It may be thought that I am falling into to substance-dualist trap but not so. I hold to what wise Spinoza said "The mind is the idea of the body". In other words the thing we are taliking about is brain-mind. Brain and mind are identical but viewed respectively objectively or subjectively.

In an earlier post you asked, Conde, "And where do particular minds "dwell", so to speak?"

According to 'the mind is the idea of the body' , and trying to ignore your metaphor " dwell", I'd say that particular minds are identical to particular bodies but particular minds can be viewed subjectively only, whereas particular bodies including brains can be viewed objectively.

Sorry about misquoting you. That was what I wrote.

Your notion of the meanings of the several names for theories of existence seems to be your own notion. I and apparently others here have read the same books so we can discuss by means of the same lexicon. I'm sorry, but I don't really know how to discuss any further unless we share the same basic lexicon regarding theories of existence.

Conde Lucanor wrote:
You forget that in English, as in all languages, there are non-copulative expressions, like Descartes' famous sentence and even sentences without verbs: "trees, therefore life". We can say "I am" because we can say "I exist" and the negative form will be "I am not". That's the way it's constructed in English, but in Spanish is even more straightforward: "yo soy" the affirmative form and "yo no soy" the negative form.
Ser and Estar are each Spanish for the English 'to be'. Ser applies to permanent situations such as " I am a human being" whereas estar applies to temporary ones such as " I am hungry".In view of the two Spanish verbs for 'to be' I have wondered if native Spanish speakers are especially able to view the eternal now, after the linguistic determinism thesis. From the perspective of the eternal now, existence is a predicate; I am means "I exist in the relative world"(as compared with eternity 'where' existence is neither here not there) .

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Londoner » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:16 pm

Conde Lucanor wrote:Me: 'What things are and their causal relations' are descriptions of phenomena, not noumena.
Not necessarily, since when we are describing phenomena we are referring to how the noumena appears to us. In other words, because things as they appear to us are intrinsically related and depend of things in themselves, our perceptions can give us keys to knowing how the world of things in themselves works. Unless you thought that things as they appear to our senses are not intrinsically related to things in themselves.
You use this word 'related', which begs the question. If we posit there is a noumenal world behind phenomena, then by definition phenomena are 'related' to the noumenal, but the point is we do not - cannot - know how.

Let us take gravity. It could be that things in the noumenal world attract one another, but it could also be that they repel one another. Either theory would be entirely consistent with what we observe. It might also be that the noumenal world consists of God, and everything in the world of phenomena happens according to his will. Again, that theory would be entirely consistent with what we observe; no observation could disprove it.

But this doesn't matter because all science is interested in are the phenomena, the observations. The description of gravity is of what we observe, it is not a theory about the nature of the noumenal world.
I already explained quite a few posts back what I defined as "real".
In my opinion sometimes your explanations are circular. 'Real' is defined it against another word, but when we then try to find out what is meant by this other word it just refers back to 'real' again. But sometimes they refer to the opinions of other people; that 'real' is what people agree is real, which I think is a more sustainable idea.
Me: 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 guess you didn't realize that you just did what you started saying you never do. If experiences are "the products of our own organs of perception and understanding", then they are self-generated.
The important words in the sentence you quote are 'the character of our experiences'.

I can posit that there is a 'something' out there, responsible for my experience of 'seeing'. So, it is not a 'delusion' to say that 'I see something'.

However, my internal experience of 'seeing' is going to be a product of the nature of my eyes, the circumstances at that moment, the nature of my brain etc. Therefore my internal experience is removed from that 'something'. It is (I assume) related to the 'something', but it different to that 'something'.
Me: 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'.
Of course we can drop the "ergo": "I am" has a full meaning on its own. Now, if you will not agree that this famous sentence, which is said to be part of the beginning of modern Western philosophy, is a capital sentence in philosophy, I shall respect your opinion.

How about "To be or not to be"?
I do not think odd words are meaningful because they can be used in famous sentences. I think words only have a sense in use, and Descartes did not use that word (or the whole sentence) in isolation.

Similarly, Hamlet does not stop there. He goes on to explain what he is talking about.
We can say "I am" because we can say "I exist" and the negative form will be "I am not".
Yes, we can say things like 'I exist' but the question is: are they meaningful? I can only understand the meaning of your affirmation or negation if I know what it refers to. In this case it is 'I'. So, if by 'I', I understood that you meant 'a material body' or 'an individual consciousness' or 'citizenship of a nation' then I could make some sort of sense of them. But in that case, 'exist' would be standing for these or some other predicate, just like we learn that Hamlet's 'be' stands for 'remain alive'.

But if the 'I' does not stand for anything, then 'I am not' has no subject. In that case, we can drop the meaningless 'I' and we will be just left with 'not'. We can certainly write the word 'Not' on its own, but nobody will understand what we mean.
Me: 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.
But as I quoted, you did say that you know about their internal life. This is what is contradictory: you affirm and reaffirm that you don't know, that you cannot know, and all of the sudden you know.
It is conditional. If other people have an internal life, then I also know that this internal life is not identical to my own.

I think other people have an internal life like my own because I see that they behave in a way similar to the way I behave. But only similar. So the same evidence that causes me to guess they are like me, also tells me they are not exactly like me.
Just the same way you don't find useful categorizing philosophical ideas in schools or doctrines, I don't find useful categorizing them as "mainstream philosophy" or "commonplace of philosophy", as if they were neutral, non-arguable philosophical ideas. And that's precisely a very good reason to categorize them in the schools or doctrines they belong to, so that they don't pretend to be neutral and out of question.
The question here is what school or doctrine your own ideas represent. I think that the sort of things I am saying are commonplaces in that they are compatible with all modern (post Kant) philosophical schools of thought; that although different people approach the problems I have outlined in different ways, they all recognise them as problems. Everyone understands what I am referring to; they would read this stuff and think Kant, or Russell, or Wittgenstein or whatever.

But I cannot get a clear idea of what you are saying, I cannot relate it to any particular school of thought, not even pre-Kant. (Of course that doesn't mean it is wrong, it may be that I just can't get my head around what you are saying. )

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

Post by Conde Lucanor » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:57 pm

Belinda wrote: It's not correct that minds are what physical brains do. What the brain does is the physiology of the anatomical brain. Mind is something else. What the brain does can be looked at by means of scientific instruments, but what we usually mean by the mind cannot be looked at by scientific instruments'
What the brain does is mental processes, what is called cognition. Theories of cognition are theories of mind, because mind and cognition are the same thing.
Belinda wrote: It may be thought that I am falling into to substance-dualist trap but not so. I hold to what wise Spinoza said "The mind is the idea of the body". In other words the thing we are taliking about is brain-mind. Brain and mind are identical but viewed respectively objectively or subjectively.
A dead body, a dead brain, cannot process anything and there is not a mind in such cases, even though we can still see the brain and the body. Viewing them objectively or subjectively will not change this fact. They can't be identical. To view them as identical and "respectively" seems to imply that they are two separate things, so the substance-dualist trap is not avoided. The functions of a car are not detachable from the car itself, but they are not identical to the car. In any case, saying that a car and its functions are identical does not help identifying the nature of those functions. In the same way, you have not identified what the mind is.
Belinda wrote: I'd say that particular minds are identical to particular bodies but particular minds can be viewed subjectively only, whereas particular bodies including brains can be viewed objectively.
Whatever I think of is the object of my subjective reflection. It can be my own mind or the mind of others, as well as my brain or the brain of others. What makes them subjective or objective does not depend on what I direct my reflection to (mind or brain), but where they stand in relation to me. It happens that my own mind is self-reflecting and therefore, it can only be regarded as subjective, but that's not the case if I think of other people's minds.
Belinda wrote: Your notion of the meanings of the several names for theories of existence seems to be your own notion. I and apparently others here have read the same books so we can discuss by means of the same lexicon. I'm sorry, but I don't really know how to discuss any further unless we share the same basic lexicon regarding theories of existence.
I'm very doubtful that everyone has read the same books and all that there is to read, although many will be common. I do feel classifications are useful, but only as guidelines, not as closed canons, otherwise they may turn into dogmas. In any case, I'm confident that the way I classify theories of existence is not a wild departure from known views.
Belinda wrote: Ser and Estar are each Spanish for the English 'to be'. Ser applies to permanent situations such as " I am a human being" whereas estar applies to temporary ones such as " I am hungry".In view of the two Spanish verbs for 'to be' I have wondered if native Spanish speakers are especially able to view the eternal now, after the linguistic determinism thesis. From the perspective of the eternal now, existence is a predicate; I am means "I exist in the relative world"(as compared with eternity 'where' existence is neither here not there) .
As a native Spanish speaker, I don't feel like the distinction between "ser" and "estar" corresponds exactly to permanent/temporary. You can be (estar) in a permanent or temporary state or be (ser) something permanently or temporarily. Many times they are interchangeable with no difference of meaning: "ser loco" o "estar loco" is the same for "to be crazy". And sometimes the adverb or adjective does not correspond the same to each one: you can say "John está perdido", but not "John es perdido", a common mistake of non-native speakers that would want to say "John is lost".

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:19 pm

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Belinda wrote:
Your notion of the meanings of the several names for theories of existence seems to be your own notion. I and apparently others here have read the same books so we can discuss by means of the same lexicon. I'm sorry, but I don't really know how to discuss any further unless we share the same basic lexicon regarding theories of existence.
Conde L replied)
I'm very doubtful that everyone has read the same books and all that there is to read, although many will be common. I do feel classifications are useful, but only as guidelines, not as closed canons, otherwise they may turn into dogmas. In any case, I'm confident that the way I classify theories of existence is not a wild departure from known views.
But I don't know what your theories of existence are, what classification you use.I explained mine in a simple list format. This is the way I was taught, beginning with a study of Descartes' idea of ontic "substance".

I will have to look again at usages of ser and estar.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:38 am

Londoner wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:Not necessarily, since when we are describing phenomena we are referring to how the noumena appears to us. In other words, because things as they appear to us are intrinsically related and depend of things in themselves, our perceptions can give us keys to knowing how the world of things in themselves works. Unless you thought that things as they appear to our senses are not intrinsically related to things in themselves.
You use this word 'related', which begs the question. If we posit there is a noumenal world behind phenomena, then by definition phenomena are 'related' to the noumenal, but the point is we do not - cannot - know how.
We can sum up this to 3 options. Either:
1) There is a noumenal world behind phenomena.
2) There is not a noumenal world behind phenomena.
3) We cannot know that there is or there isn't a noumenal world behind phenomena.
I pick 1. What's your pick?
Londoner wrote:Let us take gravity. It could be that things in the noumenal world attract one another, but it could also be that they repel one another. Either theory would be entirely consistent with what we observe.
No, they wouldn't. What we observe consistently is the application of Newton's principles of things attracting each other.
Londoner wrote:It might also be that the noumenal world consists of God, and everything in the world of phenomena happens according to his will. Again, that theory would be entirely consistent with what we observe; no observation could disprove it.
So let me get this straight: and it could be that the noumenal world consists of God, and nothing in the world of phenomena happens according to his will, right?
Londoner wrote:But this doesn't matter because all science is interested in are the phenomena, the observations. The description of gravity is of what we observe, it is not a theory about the nature of the noumenal world.
Again: does it mean that it is possible that as a phenomena, gravity has nothing to do with the noumenal world?
Londoner wrote:In my opinion sometimes your explanations are circular. 'Real' is defined it against another word, but when we then try to find out what is meant by this other word it just refers back to 'real' again.
Could you give an example?
Londoner wrote:But sometimes they refer to the opinions of other people; that 'real' is what people agree is real, which I think is a more sustainable idea.
I never referred to "opinions of other people", which sounds like a untrustworthy source of information. I talked about observations.
Londoner wrote:I can posit that there is a 'something' out there, responsible for my experience of 'seeing'. So, it is not a 'delusion' to say that 'I see something'.
Let's translate that sentence using the terms we've been dealing with: "I can posit that there is a 'noumena' out there, responsible for my experience of 'phenomena'. So, it is not a 'delusion' to say that 'I see noumena'. Do you agree with that sentence?
Londoner wrote:I do not think odd words are meaningful because they can be used in famous sentences. I think words only have a sense in use, and Descartes did not use that word (or the whole sentence) in isolation.
First, I don't see any "odd words". Secondly, there are one word sentences. By definition, sentences have meaning, so one word can be a sentence and have meaning. Third, in the sentence from Descartes, there's the linking adverb "therefore (ergo)" joining two clauses: "I think (cogitus)" and "I am (sum)". Clauses are expressions that have a complete meaning, therefore, "sum" expresses a complete thought by itself alone.
Londoner wrote:Similarly, Hamlet does not stop there. He goes on to explain what he is talking about.
As all texts, plays are composed of multiple sentences. That does not mean, each sentence does not have a meaning on its own.
Londoner wrote:Yes, we can say things like 'I exist' but the question is: are they meaningful? I can only understand the meaning of your affirmation or negation if I know what it refers to. In this case it is 'I'. So, if by 'I', I understood that you meant 'a material body' or 'an individual consciousness' or 'citizenship of a nation' then I could make some sort of sense of them. But in that case, 'exist' would be standing for these or some other predicate, just like we learn that Hamlet's 'be' stands for 'remain alive'.

But if the 'I' does not stand for anything, then 'I am not' has no subject. In that case, we can drop the meaningless 'I' and we will be just left with 'not'. We can certainly write the word 'Not' on its own, but nobody will understand what we mean.
Verbs are part of predicates. A stand alone verb is a predicate, as in "I run, I sleep, I am, I exist".
Londoner wrote:It is conditional. If other people have an internal life, then I also know that this internal life is not identical to my own.
But that will be only a phenomenal connection of your perceptions, not necessarily happening in the noumenal world, right?
Londoner wrote:I think other people have an internal life like my own because I see that they behave in a way similar to the way I behave. But only similar. So the same evidence that causes me to guess they are like me, also tells me they are not exactly like me.
Same question: your "evidence" will be just the conjunction of events in your perception, not necessarily happening in the noumenal world, right?
Londoner wrote:The question here is what school or doctrine your own ideas represent. I think that the sort of things I am saying are commonplaces in that they are compatible with all modern (post Kant) philosophical schools of thought; that although different people approach the problems I have outlined in different ways, they all recognise them as problems. Everyone understands what I am referring to; they would read this stuff and think Kant, or Russell, or Wittgenstein or whatever.
As I said before, I think you approach these problems from the philosophical perspectives of idealism, moving among different versions of solipsism, subjectivism, etc. I don't subscribe to any of those. And there are, even among idealist philosophers, those who oppose to many of such views. The case in point: Hegel, which asserts the unity in the subject/object relationship.
Londoner wrote:But I cannot get a clear idea of what you are saying, I cannot relate it to any particular school of thought, not even pre-Kant. (Of course that doesn't mean it is wrong, it may be that I just can't get my head around what you are saying. )
I'm just a plain materialist. A dialectical materialist, if you want to be more precise.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:11 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
I'm just a plain materialist. A dialectical materialist, if you want to be more precise.
Please would you define what you mean by materialist, and dialectical materialist? The way you use those terms doesn't seem to fit what I have been taught is the accepted , 'ontic substance', scheme. To begin with, do you agree that 'ontic substance' is the widely -accepted and understood image at the bottom of theories of existence?

Sometimes you seem to say you are a materialist in a layman's sense of someone who believes that existence is physical, or material. Yet you don't agree that to be a materialist you need to account in some way for mind, even if you say it's nothing but an epiphenomenon. And, you cannot be both a substance dualist and a materialist at the same time, they just don't fit together.

You wrote to Londoner:
I think you approach these problems from the philosophical perspectives of idealism, moving among different versions of solipsism, subjectivism, etc. I don't subscribe to any of those.
Okay. However to be a philosophical materialist you need to be able to understand the alternative points of view, maybe even to waver a little bit before deciding for materialism-physicalism. Every metaphysician including the idealist can view theories of existence from all points of view.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Londoner » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:41 am

Conde Lucanor wrote: We can sum up this to 3 options. Either:
1) There is a noumenal world behind phenomena.
2) There is not a noumenal world behind phenomena.
3) We cannot know that there is or there isn't a noumenal world behind phenomena.
I pick 1. What's your pick?
It is not like picking a football team to support. If the truth is we cannot know there is a noumenal world then that is the truth. This situation may feel unsatisfactory, but that does not justify pretending to have knowledge we can't have.

You still seem unwilling to address the position I have been arguing throughout; that because some phenomena exhibit a regularity and independence from our will we can posit there is a noumenal world - but we cannot know what it is like.
So let me get this straight: and it could be that the noumenal world consists of God, and nothing in the world of phenomena happens according to his will, right?
No, it is the other way round. The noumenal world that we posit causes the events we experience as phenomena might be God or anything else; it could be we are all in the matrix, it could be that the apple falls to the ground because it wants to be at one with the universe.... There are no end of theories about the noumenal world that would be compatible with observed phenomena like gravity. We cannot use phenomena as a guide to what might be behind phenomena. Newton himself says this; he only describes the regularity of phenomena, he does not offer metaphysical theories about why they are regular. Hypotheses non fingo.
Me: I can posit that there is a 'something' out there, responsible for my experience of 'seeing'. So, it is not a 'delusion' to say that 'I see something'.
Let's translate that sentence using the terms we've been dealing with: "I can posit that there is a 'noumena' out there, responsible for my experience of 'phenomena'. So, it is not a 'delusion' to say that 'I see noumena'. Do you agree with that sentence?
Things as we see them are termed 'phenomena', as distinct from 'noumena'. So to say 'I see noumena' would not be a 'delusion' but a misunderstanding of what the word 'noumena' means.
Verbs are part of predicates. A stand alone verb is a predicate, as in "I run, I sleep, I am, I exist".
Yes, they look similar but do you really not see the difference between these phrases? I keep asking you to consider what a negation would be: 'I do not run, I walk' but 'I do not am, I...am not'?

Or alternatively, what conditions would make these phrases true or false (i.e. what is their meaning)? 'I run' is false if I am not running. But 'I exist'? If there is an 'I' to have the condition 'not existing' - then it does exist!

You can treat 'exist' or 'am' as simply standing for a logical connective, like the minus or plus sign in maths, in which case it has no meaning in itself.

Or you can make the 'I' stand for a proposition, like 'I - a live human', do (or don't) exist. Then it has meaning because 'exist' now refers to something.

Honestly, all this stuff was worked over in excruciating detail by philosophers trying to relate logic expressed in language to maths. I can see you are not convinced but cannot think of any other ways to explain it.

Briefly:
Same question: your "evidence" will be just the conjunction of events in your perception, not necessarily happening in the noumenal world, right?
My evidence is inductive. If phenomena are seen to repeat themselves I will assume this to be a general rule and anticipate the same pattern will apply in future. That there does seem to be rules are what makes me guess there is something behind phenomena, (life is not a dream) but I cannot know what that thing is.
I'm just a plain materialist. A dialectical materialist, if you want to be more precise.
Surely 'dialectical materialism' is an understanding of history? 'Materialism' in that sense means social and economic factors. And one can be a 'materialist' in the sense of thinking matter is prior to thought, without claiming we have access to some noumenal world behind phenomena. A dialectical materialist would consider the sort materialism that claimed that we had access to this realm that was beyond experience was just another version of idealism.

I think I could claim to be more of a materialist than you are!

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Arising_uk
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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Arising_uk » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:27 pm

Londoner wrote:As I was saying to Conde Lucanor, that would only show that we share the same perceptions (and because we do not have insight into other minds we could not even know that for certain), not that our perceptions were in some metaphysical sense 'true'.

It would not give us 'certainty about the reality of the universe' since we might all be suffering from the same cognitive bias.
We do have an insight into others 'minds' and that's language.

It would show that we are sharing the same perceptions of something independent of the both of us I'd have thought. As if only dependent on me the other wouldn't see it and vice versa, that we both see it seems to hint that something is there.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Londoner » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:45 am

Arising_uk wrote:
Londoner wrote:As I was saying to Conde Lucanor, that would only show that we share the same perceptions (and because we do not have insight into other minds we could not even know that for certain), not that our perceptions were in some metaphysical sense 'true'.

It would not give us 'certainty about the reality of the universe' since we might all be suffering from the same cognitive bias.
We do have an insight into others 'minds' and that's language.

It would show that we are sharing the same perceptions of something independent of the both of us I'd have thought. As if only dependent on me the other wouldn't see it and vice versa, that we both see it seems to hint that something is there.
I agree that the fact others can see something when I can hints that it is not just a figment of my imagination, in the same way that the something is persistent for me, it does not appear and disappear at random, or according to my wishes. (I cannot be certain however; these other people may also be products of my own imagination, generated by the Matrix, or whatever)

But even if I assume other people have a consciousness like mine, I cannot know that I have the same perceptions as them. I learn the meaning of words by seeing when other people use them. If every time I have the experience you associate with seeing-red, I find other people say 'green', then the word I will learn to use to describe my experience of seeing-red will be 'green'. That being the case, we can all continue to look at the grass and agree it is 'green', even though I am having a different experience to everyone else.

So again, that this grass isn't changing its colour at random - for either of us - is a hint that it is different from dream-grass or imaginary-grass. But it doesn't tell us that our own particular perception of its colour is 'true'.

(Lots of this stuff in Wittgenstein.)

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:20 am

Londoner wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:We can sum up this to 3 options. Either:
1) There is a noumenal world behind phenomena.
2) There is not a noumenal world behind phenomena.
3) We cannot know that there is or there isn't a noumenal world behind phenomena.
I pick 1. What's your pick?
It is not like picking a football team to support. If the truth is we cannot know there is a noumenal world then that is the truth. This situation may feel unsatisfactory, but that does not justify pretending to have knowledge we can't have.
So you have stated clearly that you have chosen curtain #3: "We cannot know that there is or there isn't a noumenal world behind phenomena."
What matters now is if you are consistent with your own line of thought, since that position leads to its logical consecquences, which you should be perfectly conscious of and embrace willfully. However, as it is shown, you don't, and instead of fine-tuning the concept, you get into blatant contradictions, often asserting that we can be certain of things that you had said we couldn't be certain of. Let's see:

First, let's go back to the 3 possibilities we listed above and point at the fact that claims #1 and #2 are posited as claims we are certain of. Claim #1 implies a connection between noumena and phenomena, which is logically impossible in claim #2. They are also mutually exclusive: if you claim #1, you automatically deny #2 and vice versa.

Claim #3, however, does not deny them, it doesn't claim one to be certain and the other not to be certain; it just acknowledges that they are both possible, one of them being true or false, one of them been a claim we are certain of. We just wouldn't know which one.

But then your next statement (as many others before) completely contradicts your own claim:
Londoner wrote:...the position I have been arguing throughout; that because some phenomena exhibit a regularity and independence from our will we can posit there is a noumenal world...
(Let's omit for a moment that modifier you include at the end of the sentence, which is just there to alleviate the obvious contradiction). There you go taking side for claim #1: "there is a noumenal world behind phenomena".

And even more, by accepting the claim above, you are also acknowledging that there's a connection between noumena and phenomena, that the first one determines the latter, and that it is the reason why we can assert that there is a noumena. If you had not included that statement, you could have argued for another claim that if there is a noumenal world, it does not determine, it is not behind phenomena, which would have thrown away any claims of connections between noumena and phenomena. You argued that lack of connection before, but this time you didn't.

If we were to remain faithful to the claim that "we cannot know that there is or there isn't a noumenal world behind phenomena", we couldn't posit as a statement of truth that there is a noumenal world, all we could say is that it is possible that there is, as it is possible that there isn't. One might assume by mere faith any possibility without asserting it. However, by admitting that there's a connection, that phenomena is determined by noumena, that your internal experience is not removed from the noumena (which you claimed before it was), implicitly you have already taken side for the claim that there is noumena.

Now let's go back to you claim with that modifier at the end of the sentence:
Londoner wrote:we can posit there is a noumenal world - but we cannot know what it is like.
The claim of not knowing what the noumena behind phenomena is like, requires the assertion that it is not possible to claim a connection between noumena and phenomena. That contradicts your own statements.

In Plato's cave, the shadows are determined by the fire behind the observers, so whenever they thought the shadows are not the "things in themselves", but "things as they appear to us" with regularities exhibited independent of our will and indicative of the noumena, such regularities would say something about the characteristics of the noumenal fire that produce such shadows and not others. You would know something about the fire just by acknowledging its connection to the shadows, so that if the shadows exhibited one behavior, it can be said to correspond to a compatible cause in the fire.

If it were claimed that it may be that the shadows are not determined by the noumenal fire, then the fire could be absent, there would be no noumena, just the shadows. Everything would be an illusion.
Londoner wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:Verbs are part of predicates. A stand alone verb is a predicate, as in "I run, I sleep, I am, I exist".
es, they look similar but do you really not see the difference between these phrases? I keep asking you to consider what a negation would be: 'I do not run, I walk' but 'I do not am, I...am not'?
I can show you the similarities: they are all composed of a subject and predicate, all of the predicates are composed only of the verb and all the verbs are intransitive.
Londoner wrote:Or alternatively, what conditions would make these phrases true or false (i.e. what is their meaning)? 'I run' is false if I am not running. But 'I exist'? If there is an 'I' to have the condition 'not existing' - then it does exist!
If that were true, then a phrase like "I live" would also be inadmissible. Following your own logic, if there is an "I" to have the condition "not living", then it does live. All that there is in this cases is just the paradox created by the point of view of the speaker, not that the use of intransitive verbs conveying existence is not allowed.
Londoner wrote:You can treat 'exist' or 'am' as simply standing for a logical connective, like the minus or plus sign in maths, in which case it has no meaning in itself.

Or you can make the 'I' stand for a proposition, like 'I - a live human', do (or don't) exist. Then it has meaning because 'exist' now refers to something.
What refers to something is the predicate. That which it refers to is the subject. All of the phrases above had a subject and a predicate, so they had meaning. You are left then only with the possibility that the verb had no object to which the action is directed, but there are intransitive verbs which still convey full meaning.
Londoner wrote:one can be a 'materialist' in the sense of thinking matter is prior to thought, without claiming we have access to some noumenal world behind phenomena.
You can't be a materialist without being a realist. Materialists are monistic, acknowledging one physical world, which is experienced through the senses.
Londoner wrote:I think I could claim to be more of a materialist than you are!
That is very unlikely. You haven't yet figured out that there's a material world, only the world of your internal experiences. Now, if Bishop Berkeley is to be considered a materialist, then so be it!!

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:43 am

Belinda wrote:you don't agree that to be a materialist you need to account in some way for mind, even if you say it's nothing but an epiphenomenon. And, you cannot be both a substance dualist and a materialist at the same time, they just don't fit together
Materialism is monistic and will not acknowledge any substance dualism. That notion belongs to some forms of idealism, like Plato's Theory of Forms. Materialists do account for mind and it is not necessary that it be a "ontic substance". Going back to the car analogy, a materialist won't believe that an immaterial substance, namely the car's soul or mind, is what makes a car operate. There are physical parts that make it work. Similarly, there's an organic, physical brain, which performs some activities that we call cognition, mind, etc., and that's consistent with a monistic view of existence, that is also materialistic.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Belinda » Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:36 am

Conde Lucanor, you see some model for existence theories which I don't see. I wish I did understand what model of existence theories your thoughts append to.

You wrote:
Going back to the car analogy, a materialist won't believe that an immaterial substance, namely the car's soul or mind, is what makes a car operate. There are physical parts that make it work. Similarly, there's an organic, physical brain, which performs some activities that we call cognition, mind, etc., and that's consistent with a monistic view of existence, that is also materialistic.
I am not a materialist, according to the model of existence theories I was taught, yet I too don't believe that the car's soul or mind makes the car work. I'd also describe a soul or mind as do you as "an immaterial substance". I also agree there's an organic, physical brain, with mass if you like, which "performs activities". (I disagree slightly with you if you are claiming that cognition is the sole activity of the brain but that point is tangential)

I don't agree that all the foregoing are solely claims of materialists. Cartesian dualists, neutral monists, and idealists(immaterialists) also would agree with all of the foregoing claims.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Londoner » Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:23 am

Conde Lucanor wrote: So you have stated clearly that you have chosen curtain #3: "We cannot know that there is or there isn't a noumenal world behind phenomena."
What matters now is if you are consistent with your own line of thought, since that position leads to its logical consecquences, which you should be perfectly conscious of and embrace willfully. However, as it is shown, you don't, and instead of fine-tuning the concept, you get into blatant contradictions, often asserting that we can be certain of things that you had said we couldn't be certain of. Let's see:
There are no logical consequences to saying you can't know something. You only start doing logic once you have made an assumption that something is either true (or false).

If 'there is (or there isn't) a noumenal world behind phenomena' was an empirical question, then we couldn't answer it empirically because empiricism is about phenomena. If you claim to be in a position to know, then it must be on the basis of non-empirical evidence. I notice that in your last reply you bring in Plato's cave! As I wrote last time, are you sure you are a materialist?
First, let's go back to the 3 possibilities we listed above and point at the fact that claims #1 and #2 are posited as claims we are certain of. Claim #1 implies a connection between noumena and phenomena, which is logically impossible in claim #2. They are also mutually exclusive: if you claim #1, you automatically deny #2 and vice versa.

Claim #3, however, does not deny them, it doesn't claim one to be certain and the other not to be certain; it just acknowledges that they are both possible, one of them being true or false, one of them been a claim we are certain of. We just wouldn't know which one.
I don't understand why you think 'claims #1 and #2 (there is, or isn't, a noumenal world) are posited as claims we are certain of'. Nor do I understand why you write that Claim #3 (that we cannot know) does not deny them. You cannot both assume you know something and also that you don't.

And I would add that in the case of the options you offered, (there is or isn't a noumenal world, or we don't know), they are actually all equally meaningless because we have no idea what the word 'noumenal' refers to. Only that it is 'not-phenomenal'. If somebody was to show you something and ask; 'Is this noumenal?' the answer must always be 'No', because if they could show it you then it must be phenomenal, not noumenal. So when we mention the 'noumenal' we have literally no idea what we are talking about!
But then your next statement (as many others before) completely contradicts your own claim:
Londoner wrote:...the position I have been arguing throughout; that because some phenomena exhibit a regularity and independence from our will we can posit there is a noumenal world...
(Let's omit for a moment that modifier you include at the end of the sentence, which is just there to alleviate the obvious contradiction). There you go taking side for claim #1: "there is a noumenal world behind phenomena".
The word 'posit' is important.

Although we cannot be certain about anything, we must still create a model of how the world works in order to make sense of it, and to operate within it. For example, we assume continuity between the past and the future. It may be that the universe is created anew from second to second, we cannot know that it isn't. But by positing that it has continuity we find it fits both with how things seem and we find we can sometimes predict future experiences in a useful way.

But the model we posit isn't fixed; we have to make continual adjustments. For example, our common sense notions of time and space turned out to be wrong. Our common sense ideas about location and cause do not seem to apply at the quantum level. When we posit a noumenal world, we are saying that we assume that ultimately all these problems can be reconciled, that there is an underlying order to things. But we are not claiming to know that order.
And even more, by accepting the claim above, you are also acknowledging that there's a connection between noumena and phenomena, that the first one determines the latter, and that it is the reason why we can assert that there is a noumena
.

Yes, I acknowledge the connection in that I understand that is what the word 'noumena' means. I also understand what 'angel' is supposed to mean, but it doesn't follow that I must therefore assert angels exist, or even agree that the concept of an angel is clear or comprehensible.

I might as well bring in the idea of meta-noumena, which I will declare are the noumena behind noumena. Since you now understand the connection between meta-noumena and noumena, (as you did between phenomena and noumena), is that a good reason why we must now assert that there is a meta-noumena? We can play this game forever!
The claim of not knowing what the noumena behind phenomena is like, requires the assertion that it is not possible to claim a connection between noumena and phenomena. That contradicts your own statements.
Consider that phrase; 'knowing what the noumena behind phenomena is like' What could it possibly mean? 'Phenomena' is the same as 'what things are like'. If the noumena is different to the phenomena, then it would be 'different to what it is like' . It just makes no sense.
Me: Or alternatively, what conditions would make these phrases true or false (i.e. what is their meaning)? 'I run' is false if I am not running. But 'I exist'? If there is an 'I' to have the condition 'not existing' - then it does exist!
If that were true, then a phrase like "I live" would also be inadmissible. Following your own logic, if there is an "I" to have the condition "not living", then it does live. All that there is in this cases is just the paradox created by the point of view of the speaker, not that the use of intransitive verbs conveying existence is not allowed.....
A dead person saying 'I live' is unusual outside horror films but it is perfectly comprehensible. We understand the monster lives in a sense, but not in the usual sense. 'Live' supplies the predicate. Similarly, if we asked the person 'Are you alive?' and they answered 'I am' then we understand the 'am' is short for 'am alive'.
What refers to something is the predicate. That which it refers to is the subject. All of the phrases above had a subject and a predicate, so they had meaning. You are left then only with the possibility that the verb had no object to which the action is directed, but there are intransitive verbs which still convey full meaning.
Not if the intransitive verb contradicts the existence of its subject. 'We didn't talk' has subject, but We weren't we does not.
You can't be a materialist without being a realist. Materialists are monistic, acknowledging one physical world, which is experienced through the senses.
You think there are two worlds, the one which is experienced through the senses and also another world behind that world.

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Re: Who- why- where are we ?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:37 pm

Belinda wrote:Conde Lucanor, you see some model for existence theories which I don't see. I wish I did understand what model of existence theories your thoughts append to.

You wrote:
Going back to the car analogy, a materialist won't believe that an immaterial substance, namely the car's soul or mind, is what makes a car operate. There are physical parts that make it work. Similarly, there's an organic, physical brain, which performs some activities that we call cognition, mind, etc., and that's consistent with a monistic view of existence, that is also materialistic.
I am not a materialist, according to the model of existence theories I was taught, yet I too don't believe that the car's soul or mind makes the car work. I'd also describe a soul or mind as do you as "an immaterial substance". I also agree there's an organic, physical brain, with mass if you like, which "performs activities". (I disagree slightly with you if you are claiming that cognition is the sole activity of the brain but that point is tangential)

I don't agree that all the foregoing are solely claims of materialists. Cartesian dualists, neutral monists, and idealists(immaterialists) also would agree with all of the foregoing claims.
If it helps, I'll quote from a philosophical encyclopedia the introduction to the term "physicalism", understood to be interchangeable with "materialism". There's nothing else for me to do to make you understand what I mean to be a materialist:

"...is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on the physical. The thesis is usually intended as a metaphysical thesis, parallel to the thesis attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Thales, that everything is water, or the idealism of the 18th Century philosopher Berkeley, that everything is mental. The general idea is that the nature of the actual world (i.e. the universe and everything in it) conforms to a certain condition, the condition of being physical. Of course, physicalists don't deny that the world might contain many items that at first glance don't seem physical — items of a biological, or psychological, or moral, or social nature. But they insist nevertheless that at the end of the day such items are either physical or supervene on the physical."(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

If you are convinced that Cartesian dualists, neutral monists, and idealists(immaterialists) will agree completely with all the statements above, but are not yet to be considered materialists, it would be interesting to know what you think is the key distinction that separates them from the crowd of materialists.

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