Materialism is logically imposible

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Immanuel Can »

Terrapin Station wrote:"Subjective" refers to things that occur in minds, or we could say that it refers to things that are "of minds." (And we can leave aside the ontological question of just what minds are for the moment--that doesn't matter for this definition.)
That definition merely seems a tautology. Of course anything that takes place only in a mind is "subjective." No new information is added by saying so.

The question, it seems to me, is whether there is any relationship between the mind in question and the reality outside of it.
"Objective" refers to the complement of "subjective"--so everything that occurs that doesn't occur in a mind, or that's not "of a mind."
So there is an "objective" reality, then. But you remain unconcerned about how well the "subjective" relates to it?
So if my view occurs in my mind, then my view can't be objective, right? Subjective, after all, refers to "in a mind."
I see. Essentially, you've said, "A view that occurs in my mind occurs in my mind." Not exactly a revelation that will stop the presses, is it?

But does this things that occurs in the mind actually relate to anything else? Now, THAT would be the relevant question.
surreptitious57
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by surreptitious57 »

Immanuel Can wrote:
But does this thing that occurs in the mind actually relate to anything else
Yes it does since the brain processes information it receives from the senses
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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surreptitious57 wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:
But does this thing that occurs in the mind actually relate to anything else
Yes it does since the brain processes information it receives from the senses
And the senses get that information from.....? :D
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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The senses get the information from the external physical environment and
then it is processed by the brain which decides how to respond accordingly
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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surreptitious57 wrote:The senses get the information from the external physical environment and
then it is processed by the brain which decides how to respond accordingly
So you're an objectivist and a dualist?
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Terrapin Station
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Immanuel Can wrote:Essentially, you've said, "A view that occurs in my mind occurs in my mind." Not exactly a revelation that will stop the presses, is it?
Well, and so it's very odd to argue against that. Yet people do argue against it. I've mentioned this before. Sometimes I'll pare discussions down to something as simple as "If P, then P," or "Your user name is Immanuel Can" or something like that, just to see if the other person will even start arguing with something that simple--and often they do. I'm not interested in arguing for its own sake. Too many people online seem to have that as a motivation.
So there is an "objective" reality, then.
Yeah, I had said this a number of posts back.
But you remain unconcerned about how well the "subjective" relates to it?
In my opinion that's pretty straightforward. I'm a naive realist on theory of perception, and worries about epistemic certainty have always seemed rather silly to me.
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by surreptitious57 »

Immanuel Can wrote:
So you are an objectivist and a dualist?
Objective reality exists independent of all subjective interpretation
And there is a specific demarcation between the mind and the body
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Terrapin Station wrote:In my opinion that's pretty straightforward. I'm a naive realist on theory of perception, and worries about epistemic certainty have always seemed rather silly to me.
Hmm. Well, in general, I agree...at least for the most part. However, I do accept the critique that our senses are quite fallible and easily misled, and as I said earlier, I do accept the objection that perception is, at least in secondary respects, perspectival -- so I don't completely write off the problems with epistemic certainty. Yet, like you, I would emphasize the general reliability of common perception first. Certainty is difficult...I would argue that human knowing is mostly inductive, and whenever it is so (as in all science, for example) it is probabilistic, depending on creating better "odds" of being right, rather than being absolutely certain; and hence it cannot be absolutely certain. Generally reliable, yes, highly effective, yes...but something less than absolute.

In all this, the general stability of reality needs to be explained by the pure subjectivists. As I see you also would believe, I find they go too far, overemphasizing the personal and perspectival, and ignoring overwhelming fact of commonality in perception and the massive fact of the stability of reality itself, which seems always to "push back" against all our wishes and resist all the skewing of our perceptions. There is certainly something objective "out there" that is the focus of the debates about who is right...that we can safely say. And we are not so perspective-bound that we cannot discuss it, for sure.

I would argue that they insist in choking on the "gnat" (subjectivism) and somehow accidentally swallow the "camel" (objective reality), so to speak. :wink:
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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surreptitious57 wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:
So you are an objectivist and a dualist?
Objective reality exists independent of all subjective interpretation
And there is a specific demarcation between the mind and the body
Yes and yes, then. Interesting.
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Terrapin Station wrote:I've always felt that the desire for certainty was odd.
I think it is sometimes immaturity; experience teaches most people that things are rarely black and white. In some cases, it's a lack of sophistication, some people are just a bit dim. In others it's, in my view, pathological; some people simply don't have the cerebral machinery to see beyond their own world view, right wing and religious conservatives being the most common examples. They are generally parochial and disproportionately moral deontologists.
Terrapin Station wrote:And in my view, there's no requirement for knowledge to be certain. It just needs some sort of support or justification.
I agree. The only things that are logically water tight are what Parmenides and Descartes said: there is not nothing and there is experience, respectively. Other than that, we accept things as 'true' for essentially instrumentalist purposes.
Terrapin Station wrote:I also don't see all experience as theory-laden. I'm a naive realist on phil of perception.
I didn't mean to suggest that experience itself is theory laden; it is what it is. It is our interpretation which is theory laden.
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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This reply had looked like a mere asserted contradiction to me, and hence the Python quote, but apparently you believe there is more to it than that.
attofishpi wrote:No, because you laptop does not have anything remotely close to consciousness. Machines have 0 degree of consciousness, as much consciousness in fact as a rock. Your laptop merely has the ability to advise its user - someone who is conscious that he\she needs to plug in the charger.
A machine only mimics 'intelligence' - binary data stored in silicon chips in no way shape or form permits consciousness.
So consciousness is either the ability to self-fuel (babies are not conscious!), or is anything not silicon based? Why the bias against a silicon gate, which performs almost exactly the same function as a neuron? If you're not a physicalist, then why can't the silicon-based being also get one of these minds? What is the rule about what gets one and what doesn't? Pointing to a rock doesn't help me identify that distinction, it just indicates you have no idea what it is, but you're sure it exists somewhere between you and the rock. Not much of a commitment to your view.

Is it life that distinguishes? A non-reproducing machine AI is not conscious, but bacteria is?

Or is it a God thing? The distinction is that God gave us, and nothing else, these minds and nothing else is conscious? A silicon AI cannot have a mind since God doesn't want them to have it. Not sure what your view is, but at least that would be a distinction.

I've asserted that consciousness is a qualitative spectrum, not a binary thing that is true or false. It means it is possible to be more conscious than a human, since the spectrum is open ended. So there is no distinction since there is no crossing from false to true. You speak of "0" above like you might agree with this, like it is possible to be "0.2" or "17" on the scale, with "1" being us. This contrasts with the assertion that thing X is not conscious, as opposed to merely less conscious. That assertion implies a binary relationship, in which case a distinction must be identified if you want me to take your claim seriously. Mere examples at opposite ends of my spectrum seem to bolster my spectrum view. Pick two things that are as similar as possible, but one having the critical distinction and the other not. That would lend weight to the binary definition.
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Londoner wrote:If that were true, then to say, as you do, "Objective truth is like a squared circle" is also a nonsense statement. The noun has no referent in reality, according to you. Moreover, it's not objectively true: it's just a statement of subjective feeling.
This is getting mixed up! I didn't write that; you did. I quoted you. Now I have quoted you quoting me quoting you...
A "pink elephant" has no referent in reality. But "pink" is a coherent concept, as is "elephant." It's the combination that has no referent in reality. Likewise, "square" and "circle" are coherent ideas with referents in reality. It is only the combination that is problematic. And in that case, it's problematic in a very particular way: not that the parts have no referent in reality, but in that they contradict.
I would have no problems with 'pink elephant'. There is no reason why an elephant could not be pink. If I said 'fetch me a pink elephant' people would know what to look for, even if they had problems finding one.

That is not the case with 'square circle'.
Now, do the words "objective" and "truth" have no referents? That seems implausible, especially since we're talking about them, but also because they are widely used in other contexts, such as "subjective truth" or "objective facts." So whether or not they fail to have a referent in reality is an empirical, not conceptual problem. I know of no conceptual analysis that shows objective truth conceptually cannot exist: all critics insist that it does not empirically exist.
Yes, 'objective truth' could exist as a concept, provided we could frame that concept. I do not think we can.

It isn't a matter of searching through an inexhaustible box of truths looking for an objective one (and saying that 'absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence'). The problem is that we do not know what we are looking for. I'm still not clear what 'objective' means.
That's an important caveat. The question of objective truth cannot be settled by appealing to a merely alleged incoherence of the term "objective truth." It can only be solved by empirical demonstration that no such thing exists. But if we ever succeeded in empirically proving it, we would thereby disprove it in exactly the same stroke.
I don't see why the question of 'objective truth' wouldn't be thoroughly settled by pointing out the phrase was incoherent, or meaningless.

You write; ' It can only be solved by empirical demonstration that no such thing exists'. But we still don't know what the 'such thing' would be. (And how do you mean 'empirical'?)
Me: Or do you consider every combination of words is meaningful?

No, it depends on whether the words themselves can be said to be meaningful, and whether their combination makes sense. Empirically, there are no square circles, and this is a result not of a deficiency in the words per se, but in the contradiction their combination entails. Again, the problem that ensues is empirical: no such thing can exist because of the inherent contradiction.

But we have no reason to think "objective" and "truth" are similar. We would have to demonstrate by way of reason or empirical fact that they were, before we could expect to be believed.
I am confused by your use of the word 'empirical'. That 'there are no square circles' is not usually understood as an empirical observation; e.g. 'I see no square circles in this geometry book'. If 'square circle' does not make sense, then the question of its empirical existence does not arise.

(The language; 'no such thing can exist because of the inherent contradiction' seems to present meaning as if it was an empirical force. As if a thing, a square circle, might exist, but the inherent contradiction prevents it. That because of the contradiction, the quantity of square circles that exist in the empirical world is zero. As I say, I think this is mistaken.)
Me: It ("Objective truth is unreal," or "Objective truth is absurd") is in the form of an assertion, it resembles an assertion...

It is one. It may be a true one, it may be a false one, or it may be an irrational one...but if it's in the form, then that is what it is, no?
Not until we have a meaning for 'objective truth'. Until then, the assertion has no subject.

(We can still write it in the form of an assertion because words are also objects. By 'objective truth' we just meant 'that 'objective truth' shaped mark on the computer monitor', or 'two words that appear in an English dictionary'. )
Me: You have not introduced a subject, an agent, only two verbs.
The existence (verb 2) of the subject is deduced from verb 1.
You cannot deduce physical existence by examining the meaning of words, nor is that what Descartes does. But I think that if we want to start a thread on Descartes we should do so elsewhere.

Me: If 'reality' has aspects, such that I might consider one aspect and you consider another, why isn't there more than one 'objective truth'?
I think it's true that people see things from different perspectives. But to say so runs the danger of being overly impressed with the variance, and under-impressed with the commonality. You and I may look at a chair, and I see the north side and you see the south: but the resounding fact is that we both see the chair. To emphasize our perspectival uniqueness too much obliterates the obvious and essential fact that we are in substantial agreement on the nature of the object.

So while perspective is a reality of perception, which I'm happy to acknowledge, we ought never to overlook the massive importance of the fact that our eyes stare out on a common world. And were it not so, all communication, sharing, deal-making, and consensus would be utterly impossible. That they are possible -- and indeed routine -- is a most remarkable observation, one we'd do well to emphasize much more strongly than any subjectivist variability.
I do not agree that we do all stare out on a common world. To stare is not to passively reflect the world; each person sees it differently. Nor do I agree that seeing things identically is necessary for communication (indeed, if we did, communication would not be necessary!) Similarity is enough.

I think how it works is that when we talk we establish context; in science we agree to will only look at certain aspects of experience, in psychology at others. And some things we cannot communicate. We do not have to fix on one.
You missed the conditional in my wording. I wrote "IF INDEED he is writing." I did not say that it would be true IF he were not, so I think perhaps the objection is off point.
If it is conditional, then I agree my objections to it as an example of 'objective truth' would be off the point because you would not have offered it as an example. 'If Londoner is writing then Londoner is writing' would just describe a logical relationship. We could substitute anything for 'Londoner' or 'writing' and it would not matter. It would read 'If X then X'. To which anyone might respond 'OK. And if not X, not X'.
Me: The problem is that we can never equate language to objects in any direct neutral (objective) way. We are never a neutral observer, language is created by social use, every word is part of a system, every particular belief we have is related to the totality of our beliefs.

There's a lot in this paragraph that needs unpacking. The first claim is unclear but possibly true, the second is true, the third is conditionally true, and the fourth and fifth I would say are quite right in very important ways. But I'm not sure we're on the same page there. I would have to ask you a bunch of stuff in order to know.
It relates to attempts to create a logical language, or to describe language logically. Roughly, the idea was that you could isolate the bits of language that relate directly to experience, distinguish them from the bits that relate to the conceptualization of experience, and from the bits that express purely logical relationships. This has not proved possible.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Londoner wrote:I would have no problems with 'pink elephant'. There is no reason why an elephant could not be pink. If I said 'fetch me a pink elephant' people would know what to look for, even if they had problems finding one.

That is not the case with 'square circle'.
True. But the "square circle" analogy is only apt if "objective truth" is definitely known to be a thing of the same sort, that is, an inherent contradiction, not merely a thing you have not personally found. And you would need to show that it IS an inherent contradiction.

This demonstration I have not yet seen from anyone. And barring that, the "square circle" analogy is just a case of begging the question, or of assuming and asserting one's conclusion. You can safely say, "I regard objective truth as like a square circle"; but saying you regard it that way does not at all entail that it is so, or that others need to agree with you that it is.
Yes, 'objective truth' could exist as a concept, provided we could frame that concept. I do not think we can.
This amounts to a frank confession that "objective truth" is NOT an inherent contradiction, and thus is not analogous to a "square circle."

Worth noting.
That's an important caveat. The question of objective truth cannot be settled by appealing to a merely alleged incoherence of the term "objective truth." It can only be solved by empirical demonstration that no such thing exists. But if we ever succeeded in empirically proving it, we would thereby disprove it in exactly the same stroke.
I don't see why the question of 'objective truth' wouldn't be thoroughly settled by pointing out the phrase was incoherent, or meaningless.
Two reasons: firstly, because "pointing out" isn't proving. And secondly, because above, you just frankly confessed that it is not incoherent and meaningless. It could indeed exist as a concept, you said.
And how do you mean 'empirical'?
In the normal way. By some sort of demonstration that indicates that it is really so, just as science makes demonstrations. You've ruled out logical disproofs by admitting that the concept could exist. All that's left is the empirical.
I am confused by your use of the word 'empirical'. That 'there are no square circles' is not usually understood as an empirical observation; e.g. 'I see no square circles in this geometry book'. If 'square circle' does not make sense, then the question of its empirical existence does not arise.
Yes, but you denied that the concept was a problem. Like a "pink elephant," it might not exist, but there's nothing difficult about the concept itself. So the only way left to prove your case is to show that "pink elephants," or "objective truths," do not IN FACT exist...i.e. empirically.
I do not agree that we do all stare out on a common world. To stare is not to passively reflect the world; each person sees it differently. Nor do I agree that seeing things identically is necessary for communication (indeed, if we did, communication would not be necessary!) Similarity is enough.
So you've admitted there's a similarity. In that case, what we have to say is whether the similarity or the difference is the determinative factor. Are people seeing things so "differently" that they actually cannot see the same world? That's pretty self-evidently untrue, for if it were true, then such things as discussion and agreement about anything would be impossible.

So rather than denying either, we need to work on the right epistemological balance: how much does subjectivity matter, and for what, and how much should we emphasize and rely on commonality or objectivity? That's what we need to decide.
'If Londoner is writing then Londoner is writing' would just describe a logical relationship. We could substitute anything for 'Londoner' or 'writing' and it would not matter. It would read 'If X then X'. To which anyone might respond 'OK. And if not X, not X'.
Right.
... the idea was that you could isolate the bits of language that relate directly to experience, distinguish them from the bits that relate to the conceptualization of experience, and from the bits that express purely logical relationships. This has not proved possible.
You don't think logic has "proved possible"? :shock: Well, what are you endeavoring to do right now?
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Terrapin Station
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Immanuel Can, re certainty, what I mean is that it always seemed weird to me that anyone cared about it. I don't have any "drive" towards or need for certainty. It's never bothered me that something could be wrong. If it becomes clear that something I believe is wrong, I'll make the adjustments at that time. That's easy enough.

Re "perspectivalism," I don't downplay that at all, I think it's ubiquitous. But it's also not the same thing as subjectivity.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Immanuel Can »

Terrapin Station wrote:Immanuel Can, re certainty, what I mean is that it always seemed weird to me that anyone cared about it. I don't have any "drive" towards or need for certainty. It's never bothered me that something could be wrong. If it becomes clear that something I believe is wrong, I'll make the adjustments at that time. That's easy enough.
That works, but only so long as whatever it is you're considering allows you opportunity to change things if you need to. Unfortunately for us, life does not always supply such opportunities, and the first choice we make is the big one, with no way to get off the tracks once that one is made...at least in some cases. And I think that's why people tend to care about it. If there's only one chance to be right, sometimes we'd better be right the first time. :) :(

You're right that we don't have certainty...at least, not in matters of the empirical world. (Certainty in closed systems like logic or maths would be different.) However, making the high-percentage-probability guess the first time is what saves us from getting stuck badly sometimes. So high probability is a very good thing...probably the best thing we have to go on.
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