Materialism is logically imposible

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Terrapin Station »

The only problem with probability is that I only buy frequentist probability (I don't buy Bayesian approaches), and even that I'm skeptical about. ;-)
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Immanuel Can »

Terrapin Station wrote:The only problem with probability is that I only buy frequentist probability (I don't buy Bayesian approaches), and even that I'm skeptical about. ;-)
Ha. Well, what else can we go on? Barring reference to probability, we are not just unable to do any scientific "knowing," but also can make no reasonable judgments about what is likely to be true or work well in our personal lives. :?
uwot
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by uwot »

Immanuel Can wrote:Ha. Well, what else can we go on? Barring reference to probability, we are not just unable to do any scientific "knowing," but also can make no reasonable judgments about what is likely to be true or work well in our personal lives. :?
I don't think many people routinely make judgements about probability, as this implies. We generally proceed on the assumption that what experience has taught us happens will continue to do so; when it doesn't, we deal with it and, if necessary, adjust our expectations. That is true also for scientists.
Ginkgo
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Ginkgo »

Noax wrote:
Even if we stretch the word "experience" far beyond the accepted meaning then we might say that a laptop "experience"s a low battery charge. However, the point of the hard problem is to demonstrate the QUALITATIVE nature of experience. Even at this huge stretch a machine's "experiences" have no quality, or in the broad sense, qualia. Unless of course we are prepared to say that a laptop when experiencing low battery charge has some type of first person introspective aspect that accompanies the "experience".
Noax wrote: First off, I deliberately reached as far away as I could, looking at traditionally non-conscious things. The accepted meanings of 'experience' and 'conscious' carry the bias that it is human (or sufficiently near-human) experience, but the line where the word no longer applies is always left off of the definintion. So I had to start by discarding the biases and using the terms to describe things that are not traditionally conscious in attempt to identity why I went too far.
Noax wrote: Yes, experience and consciousness have a qualitative nature, but that means the qualitative nature varies from one end of the spectrum to the other. A rock feels no hunger, but a laptop does. It is low on the spectrum, but not at the absolute end of it. But the dualistic solution to the problem is a binary solution, not a qualitative one. At some point (never specified), physical explanations no longer suffice, and the immaterial mind must suddenly be added to explain things. There would be an obvious discontinuity in the qualitative experience, but no discontinuity is ever proposed. There should be a line: Vertebrates have it but bugs don't, in which case that distinction must be justified by more than just "there's a big physiological difference between the two".
Sorry I took so long to get back to you but i have been very busy of late.

A rough guideline that can be used to determine if something has a first person perspective is usually Nagel's claim that, "An organism is conscious if there is something it is like to be that that organism." Obviously there is nothing it is like to be a rock or a laptop because they have no first person perspective. Whereas, there is something it is like to be human. As you point out the demarcation line is only very rough. Is there something it is like to be a starfish? Probably not. Is there something it is like to be a dog? There probably is.

Noax wrote: The first-person aspect is also separately brought up. The laptop seems to sense low battery in first person. What else knows about the low battery if not the laptop itself? I means not all experience is first person. I experienced cancer in second person. I wasn't conscious of it until somebody told me. The laptop doesn't detect its hunger that way. Still, I feel the first-person ground (the Nagel argument) is going to be more fruitful than the qualia one. The first--person aspect, if it can be identified, would be a binary difference amenable to the binary solution that dualism posits. You have it or you don't. So why doesn't the laptop or pinball machine have first person experience? From a physicalist standpoint, I must insist that both quite obviously do.
When people such as Chalmers and Nagel talk about "experience" they mean the term to apply to a first person perspective. The qualia argument is a first person perspective contained within Nagel's exposition as well.
Noax wrote:
I never claimed the machines had the same qualitative experience as we do. Everything experiences things differently, and the differences between the experience had by something seems directly proportional to the physical differences between us. I just claimed the laptop has qualitative experience of hunger, very simple and dissimilar to our experience since I deliberately chose something as dissimilar as I could imagine. Or did you choose that? I forgot. It is a good example.
I still can't see how a laptop can "experience". If it is not conscious then it can't "experience" anything. This is how the terms "experience" and "consciousness" apply to philosophy of mind.
Noax wrote: The thing that stands out in your reply is "certain introspective quality". Perhaps I'm trying to identity that certain introspective quality, which, the way it is worded, is something you might have or do not have. Can consciousness be defined as introspection?
Yes, I would say it can.
Noax wrote: There's no way AI will be able to ponder its self? Is not detection of internal state a low form of introspection? Fiction is full of AI and/or other things becoming self-aware. Is that a binary event, or more of a sliding scale. If one has rational thought, I really don't see what prevents introspection. An immaterial mind seems to add nothing to such an ability.
If we use the word "introspection" to include consciousness then we have excluded machines.
Londoner
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Londoner »

Immanuel Can wrote: 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.
It isn't that those particular two words 'square' and 'circle' contradict each other. I gave and can give other examples; 'metaphysical continuation', 'psychological logic' and so on. The terms do not mean anything; we do not know what they are meant to describe, we don't know how such a description could be affirmed or falsified.
This amounts to a frank confession that "objective truth" is NOT an inherent contradiction, and thus is not analogous to a "square circle."
As I wrote last time, I cannot say whether it is a contradiction - because I don't know what it means!
Me: 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.
You cannot prove (whatever that is understood to mean) a proposition until you form a proposition. As to a concept 'existing', I suppose even a concept that does not make sense or isn't fully formed could be said to exist as 'a thought', but it would be an incommunicable thought.
Me: 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 have addressed the concept bit. Empirical observations are necessarily subjective. We can select aspects of our subjective experiences and posit that others share them and also posit the reason for this is the existence of an external material world. So the foundation of science is subjective experience, and an assumption that we cannot confirm is true.

You can say; OK, I accept that, but that is nevertheless what I mean by 'objective truth'. But then, how is it distinguished from all the other things we think of as 'true'? Until we can show 'objective truth' means something in particular, then it doesn't mean anything.
Me: 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.
As I wrote, what determines how we communicate is the context of what is being discussed. When discussing science, we do not include the contents of our dreams as evidence, when doing maths we disregard the aesthetics of the numerals, in this discussion we try to avoid bringing in our emotions! However, there are no firm rules. I might go to a picture gallery and see the face of my ex-girlfriend in every painting, I might choose to discuss philosophy through ad hominem comments. Others might comment that this was inappropriate, because it was unproductive, in that context, but they wouldn't find it incomprehensible.

And yes, there are also a context where discussion and agreement is impossible i.e. entirely private experiences. That is because language is about sharing; what can't be shared cannot be spoken about. So lots of contexts, all with different rules, but we manage. We don't need to opt for just one of them, indeed we can't.
Me:... 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?
I don't know how you got that from the extract you quote.

You gather that logic describes the relationship between propositions? That the truth value of any propositions in logic is something we are free to assume. So logic cannot establish their 'truth', meaning that they correspond to 'how things are'. If we wanted logic to reveal that, then we would have to identify the propositions with 'fact', meaning some piece of pure empirical experience. But we cannot do it; we cannot isolate it. On examination, we find it always comes integrated with something that is not-experience.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Immanuel Can »

Londoner wrote:we don't know how such a description could be affirmed or falsified.
There is much we do not presently know how to affirm or falsify that is nonetheless true. The universe has a size...we don't know what it is, but we know it's expanding continuously. We don't know how many drops of water are in the Atlantic Ocean, but it hardly argues that there is no water.

But your claim isn't true anyway. We know exactly how to confirm or falsify an objective truth: we find one case of such. Any one will do. What we can never verify or falsify is subjectivism; for if we did, then we'd have our one case of an objective truth -- the truth of subjectivism -- and subjectivism would be falsified thereby.

It's nowhere near so hard as you suggest.
As I wrote last time, I cannot say whether it is a contradiction - because I don't know what it means!
If I don't know Anglo-Saxon, I don't know what "hlaf" means either. It does not mean it does not mean anything. (It means "bread," or "loaf").
Me: 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 have addressed the concept bit. Empirical observations are necessarily subjective. We can select aspects of our subjective experiences and posit that others share them and also posit the reason for this is the existence of an external material world. So the foundation of science is subjective experience, and an assumption that we cannot confirm is true.
Not merely "subjective," but rather "probabilistic". More than one person can have the same probabilistic observation. And that fact argues for objective reality. We can confirm probabilistically, but not absolutely.

The lack of absolute certainty in science should trouble us hardly at all, because it's still a wonderful, effective tool of knowledge, even if it can't deliver absolute truth. It still works nicely.
Until we can show 'objective truth' means something in particular, then it doesn't mean anything.
Are you affirming the above statement as true? :wink:
each person sees it differently.
True and yet false. It is perspectively different, but not substantially different. Were it otherwise your worry that we could not communicate at all would be quite right.
As I wrote, what determines how we communicate is the context of what is being discussed.
Ah. What does it mean to have a "common context" if nothing is the same? :D
I might choose to discuss philosophy through ad hominem comments.
You could choose to try. But it wouldn't be philosophy unless the ad hominem concerns you articulated were relevant to the question in hand. Ad hominems are usually irrelevant, but not always.
And yes, there are also a context where discussion and agreement is impossible i.e. entirely private experiences. That is because language is about sharing; what can't be shared cannot be spoken about.
Quite so.
So lots of contexts, all with different rules...
And yet the very definition of a "rule" is that it's common.... :D
Me:... 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?
I don't know how you got that from the extract you quote.
You said that "logical relationship" is one of the things that "has not proved possible" -- unless you did not mean your pronoun "this" to include logic, which could be the case but your syntax does not show.
You gather that logic describes the relationship between propositions? That the truth value of any propositions in logic is something we are free to assume.
No, it isn't. We have to have confidence in whether or not the premises are true in order to validate the syllogism and warrant the conclusion. Untrue premises do not conduce to a true conclusion.
So logic cannot establish their 'truth', meaning that they correspond to 'how things are'.
Yes. But we must not overlook our level of inductive certitude.
If we wanted logic to reveal that, then we would have to identify the propositions with 'fact', meaning some piece of pure empirical experience.
Yes. And we would arrive at inductive certitude, but not absolute certainty. And that is all we can do, but also all we need to move to the logic stage.
On examination, we find it always comes integrated with something that is not-experience.
Meaning what particular "thing"?
Londoner
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Londoner »

Immanuel Can wrote: There is much we do not presently know how to affirm or falsify that is nonetheless true. The universe has a size...we don't know what it is, but we know it's expanding continuously. We don't know how many drops of water are in the Atlantic Ocean, but it hardly argues that there is no water.
Assuming we know what is meant by 'universe' or 'drops' we would know what we would need to do in order to answer those questions, even if it was not practical to do so. But that is not the case with 'objective truth' or the other examples I have given.
But your claim isn't true anyway. We know exactly how to confirm or falsify an objective truth: we find one case of such. Any one will do. What we can never verify or falsify is subjectivism; for if we did, then we'd have our one case of an objective truth -- the truth of subjectivism -- and subjectivism would be falsified thereby.

It's nowhere near so hard as you suggest.
Then why not give an example?

I just do not understand how you could falsify an objective truth, if you could falsify it, then it wouldn't be an example of an objective truth. Or, if 'objective truths' are only true in a context, i.e. true providing we just assume other things are true, then why aren't people free to make different assumptions, thus making the 'objective truth' subjective?
Me: As I wrote last time, I cannot say whether it is a contradiction - because I don't know what it means!
If I don't know Anglo-Saxon, I don't know what "hlaf" means either. It does not mean it does not mean anything. (It means "bread," or "loaf").
I would ask the Anglo Saxon; 'What is hlaf?' He would point to some bread and I would then know what it meant. But if he couldn't point to anything...?
Me: I have addressed the concept bit. Empirical observations are necessarily subjective. We can select aspects of our subjective experiences and posit that others share them and also posit the reason for this is the existence of an external material world. So the foundation of science is subjective experience, and an assumption that we cannot confirm is true.

Not merely "subjective," but rather "probabilistic". More than one person can have the same probabilistic observation. And that fact argues for objective reality. We can confirm probabilistically, but not absolutely.
I don't understand the reference to probability. An observation is an observation, in what sense is it probabilistic? Whether my perception directly correlates to an external world, or whether it is created and then put into my head by a Cartesian demon, I can never know. I can never get outside my own head to observe that only 33% of my perceptions are demonic. Likewise, I cannot say that 60% of my idea of 'extension' comes from me and 20% from God and 20% from the material world.

As I wrote, we can posit an external reality, made up of independent matter, but that is a metaphysical hypothesis. No amount of observation can verify or refute it. We could instead posit that all our experiences come directly from God; it makes no difference as far as scientific observation is concerned.
The lack of absolute certainty in science should trouble us hardly at all, because it's still a wonderful, effective tool of knowledge, even if it can't deliver absolute truth. It still works nicely.
Yes. So does 'objective truth' describe all propositions that are useful?
Me: Until we can show 'objective truth' means something in particular, then it doesn't mean anything.
Are you affirming the above statement as true? :wink:
I'm saying that unless 'objective truth' means something, statements that include it as a term would not be propositions, thus they are neither true nor false. As I keep pointing out, saying something is 'meaningless' is not the same as saying it is 'untrue'.
Me: So lots of contexts, all with different rules..
And yet the very definition of a "rule" is that it's common.... :D
Not in my dictionary! I think all rules apply within a particular context.
Me:... 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 said that "logical relationship" is one of the things that "has not proved possible" -- unless you did not mean your pronoun "this" to include logic, which could be the case but your syntax does not show.
It has not proved possible to 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.
Me: You gather that logic describes the relationship between propositions? That the truth value of any propositions in logic is something we are free to assume.
No, it isn't. We have to have confidence in whether or not the premises are true in order to validate the syllogism and warrant the conclusion. Untrue premises do not conduce to a true conclusion.
You are mixing validity and soundness. 'Socrates is a horse, horses have tails, thus Socrates has a tail' is entirely valid in logic. That is why logic normally deals in symbols, because a 'P' can stand for any proposition.
Me: On examination, we find it (the piece of pure empirical experience) always comes integrated with something that is not-experience.

Meaning what particular "thing"?
It depends on what you pick as your candidate for the piece of pure empirical experience. If it is something 'big', like 'seeing a tree' then this necessarily involves ideas like extension and many more. So attempts were usually to find 'atoms of experience', very simple irreducible points, something like 'green-ness!' or 'hardness!' with the idea that more complicated ideas like 'tree' were made from these simple atoms glued together with logical connectives, so 'tree' meant a list of these atoms joined with 'ands' and perhaps 'nots' or 'ors'. But when we attempt to name these atoms, we find that the words still come encumbered (as one might expect given the public nature of language).

(You are asking me to produce a one paragraph precis of a whole lot of complicated philosophy; what I write will inevitably be crude, so please don't just extract odd sentences for criticism. Sometimes you just have to start with Russell or whoever and follow the philosophical river.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Immanuel Can »

Londoner wrote:Then why not give an example?
I just did. There is an objective size to the universe at any given moment, and an objective amount of water in the oceans of the Earth.
I just do not understand how you could falsify an objective truth, if you could falsify it, then it wouldn't be an example of an objective truth.
You're misunderstanding falsifiability. It doesn't mean something IS false; it means that there is a way to prove a thing false IF it were false.

"The world is a sphere in space" is a true but falsifiable statement, in that sense. It's falsifiable because we could take a picture from space, and know if the world was not a sphere but a pyramid or flat plane, and that would show it was not a sphere IF it were not a sphere. But it is.
Or, if 'objective truths' are only true in a context.
No, they're true for everyone, and all the time.
i.e. true providing we just assume other things are true, then why aren't people free to make different assumptions, thus making the 'objective truth' subjective?
People are "free to make" any assumptions they want. But that's different from saying that their assumptions are therefore true, or are as realistic as any other person's assumption. Some assumptions are plausible and true; some are plausible but false; some more rare ones are implausible but true, and a great number are implausible and false. We don't even have to say which are which to know that that's true.
I would ask the Anglo Saxon; 'What is hlaf?' He would point to some bread and I would then know what it meant. But if he couldn't point to anything...?
So your thought is that nobody can point to an objective truth? But that's not so. The Earth is a sphere in space, for example. Are you convinced that's not true? :shock:
I don't understand the reference to probability. An observation is an observation, in what sense is it probabilistic?
Because we have observed something one time does not guarantee that the same thing will always be the case. The classic example is "black swan." Unless you travel to Australia, you might never see one, and thus for you it would be a perfectly plausible assumption that all swans are white. But you'd be incorrect to take it farther than to say, "All swans are probably white," for we have discovered that black swans do, in fact, exist. So if you declared "All swans are white," you would be saying something highly plausible, but also untrue.

Probability is all empirical knowledge ever gives any of us. Now, some are very high probabilities -- excellent probabilities -- but others are less so, and some are perilously low. Still, that's what science provides.
Whether my perception directly correlates to an external world, or whether it is created and then put into my head by a Cartesian demon, I can never know. I can never get outside my own head to observe that only 33% of my perceptions are demonic. Likewise, I cannot say that 60% of my idea of 'extension' comes from me and 20% from God and 20% from the material world.
So far as it goes, that is true. You will have to go with what is plausible or probable; if you insist on absolute certainty, you cannot have it, and will never make any decision. You'll have to try out your hypothesis (whatever you decide it should be) and then live or die on the results.

Me, I'll go with the higher-probability hypotheses, and leave the low-probability ones to the more daring. :D And you?
As I wrote, we can posit an external reality, made up of independent matter, but that is a metaphysical hypothesis. No amount of observation can verify or refute it. We could instead posit that all our experiences come directly from God; it makes no difference as far as scientific observation is concerned.
True enough. Go with probability, and you'll get as close to right as human beings ever do, outside of maths and logic.
Yes. So does 'objective truth' describe all propositions that are useful?
No; but true-to-reality things are more likely to prove effective in working on the world around us than false-to-reality things. That usefulness is not proof of their truthfulness, but rather a byproduct of it. There are certainly false things that have proved "useful" for some purpose too -- consider lies, for example. Their usefulness depends on them only appearing to be truthful, but actually being false, and thus proving useful to the liar.
Me: Until we can show 'objective truth' means something in particular, then it doesn't mean anything.
Are you affirming the above statement as true? :wink:
I'm saying that unless 'objective truth' means something, statements that include it as a term would not be propositions, thus they are neither true nor false. As I keep pointing out, saying something is 'meaningless' is not the same as saying it is 'untrue'.
It's neither meaningless nor untrue, though. So that line of argument doesn't really help your case. To make your case, you would need to SHOW, not merely assume, that objective truth were empirically non-existent. Because the words qua words in it make perfect sense, and do indeed mean something quite specific. You have already said earlier the problem with objective truth is not that such a thing could not possibly exist, or is conceptually incoherent -- so the remaining problem is merely empirical.

But again, if you empirically prove that objective truth does not exist, you've just proved it does. :wink:
Me: So lots of contexts, all with different rules..
And yet the very definition of a "rule" is that it's common.... :D
Not in my dictionary! I think all rules apply within a particular context.
Then the context has to be "common." For there is no "rule" that is merely an idiosyncratic choice of a single person: a "rule" has to be something that applies to more than one person or circumstance -- like the "rules" of football. Otherwise, it "rules" nothing.
You said that "logical relationship" is one of the things that "has not proved possible" -- unless you did not mean your pronoun "this" to include logic, which could be the case but your syntax does not show.
It has not proved possible to 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.
Logic can be rendered symbolically, within a closed system, like maths. So what you are saying is only applicable to language-based uses of logic, and not to symbolic logic. Thus logic can "express" its "relationships" in "pure" terms.
You are mixing validity and soundness.
I am not. I'm noting the difference between linguistic problems and logical ones. Linguistic problems only apply to non-symbolic logic. Rather, you are forgetting symbolic logic, and assuming that the fault is with logic itself, instead of the linguistic components of logic syllogisms.

The problem's not in logic itself. Logic is fine stuff.
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Noax
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Noax »

Ginkgo wrote:A rough guideline that can be used to determine if something has a first person perspective is usually Nagel's claim that, "An organism is conscious if there is something it is like to be that that organism."
So what exactly does that mean? I can word it as "There is something for some other thing to be that thing. I really dislike 'organism' first of all because it already presumes only 'organisms' can have it. Anyway, my little addition may or may not be acceptable. It seems not to require that some other thing actually is doing the 'being', but it nevertheless seems to be a begging wording. So what does Nagel mean by the wording given then (minus the organism presumption)?

I will give it this: It is a binary quality, not a variable scale. I might be more conscious than a laptop, and something might be more conscious than me. But if there is something to be like me and not something to be like the laptop, then it is off or on.
Obviously there is nothing it is like to be a rock or a laptop because they have no first person perspective. Whereas, there is something it is like to be human.
Why is that obvious? I don't find it obvious at all. Simple devices detect their internal or external state, and very much in first person. The laptop doesn't experience the low battery of a different laptop. We apparently use the phrase 'first person' differently. To you it is not mere detection of local state, but something more. I'm trying to identity that missing thing, because I cannot so far. I mean sure, the laptop is not me, so it is third person to me, but I'm not the one detecting the low battery. Everybody (else) is by definition second or third person to me, so that does not mean that the laptop does not experience its battery in first person.
As you point out the demarcation line is only very rough. Is there something it is like to be a starfish? Probably not. Is there something it is like to be a dog? There probably is.
Between a starfish and dog. That is still really far apart but admittedly the narrowest range I've had somebody suggest. Most just pick rocks, a safer bet. So thank you. Won't hold you to it if we actually identify something the starfish doesn't have.

I have a special place for starfish. You can rip one in pieces and you get multiple starfish. It is about the most complex creature with that property. Maybe the distinction is exactly that: There is only something it is like to be something that cannot have its identity bisected. The laptop and rock are safely not conscious then. However, humans can be bisected in theory via half-lobotomy transplants, or via MWI cloning.
I still can't see how a laptop can "experience".
I haven't found a non-begging definition of experience that precludes the laptop from having it. I consider myself just a more advanced machine, not something fundamentally different. I find it far more unintuitive that a machine cannot experience but I can, especially when the things are obviously aware of external state.
If it is not conscious then it can't "experience" anything. This is how the terms "experience" and "consciousness" apply to philosophy of mind.
Agree, the two go together, unless 'conscious' means not 'better experience', but rather 'something it is like to be it'. Different definitions perhaps, but I say the laptop has them both. Lousy experience, sure. Never claimed it was equal to ours. But if there is any, it seems like there is at least something it is like to be it.
If we use the word "introspection" to include consciousness then we have excluded machines.
This statement differentiates introspection from introspection with added consciousness, implying the introspection has nothing to do with being conscious. Not sure if you meant it that way.
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by surreptitious57 »

Immanuel Can wrote:
We know exactly how to confirm or falsify an objective truth : we find one case of such. Any one will
do. What we can never verify or falsify is subjectivism for if we did then we d have our one case of an
objective truth -- the truth of subjectivism -- and subjectivism would be falsified thereby
Objective truth can only be confirmed. Never falsified. But it can be subject to potential
falsification. Subjective truth can be falsified where the relevant objective truth is known
Londoner
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

Post by Londoner »

Immanuel Can wrote: I just did. There is an objective size to the universe at any given moment, and an objective amount of water in the oceans of the Earth.
I continue to find your notion of 'objective' elusive.

I might in theory measure the amount of water (I'm not sure about the universe) but I cannot do it objectively. I am the one doing the measurement. If that is what is meant by objective truth, how is it distinguished from any other perception or claim of 'truth'?

Or is 'objective truth' about the 'noumena', what the size of the ocean, or the universe, might be 'in itself', as distinct from as it is perceived? In that case, we can never know it.
You're misunderstanding falsifiability. It doesn't mean something IS false; it means that there is a way to prove a thing false IF it were false.

"The world is a sphere in space" is a true but falsifiable statement, in that sense. It's falsifiable because we could take a picture from space, and know if the world was not a sphere but a pyramid or flat plane, and that would show it was not a sphere IF it were not a sphere. But it is....

No, they're true for everyone, and all the time....

if you insist on absolute certainty, you cannot have it, and will never make any decision. You'll have to try out your hypothesis (whatever you decide it should be) and then live or die on the results.

Me, I'll go with the higher-probability hypotheses, and leave the low-probability ones to the more daring...
Again, the 'sphere in space' example would apply to every empirical proposition.

I have asked before if 'objective truth' simply meant the propositions used in science, or useful rules. In which case fine, but we must bear in mind that such things are not held to be true in an absolute sense, they are only true 'assuming...' And the things assumed cannot themselves be verified (or falsified) through science. (So things that met the conditions for 'objective truth' would be based on suppositions that were not 'objective truths')
So your thought is that nobody can point to an objective truth? But that's not so. The Earth is a sphere in space, for example. Are you convinced that's not true? :shock:
I was waiting for you to point to one. Before, the position seemed to be that I couldn't prove there was not an objective truth hiding somewhere. Now they seem to be everywhere! However, now you have given an example I somewhat understand what you mean by the term 'objective truth'. And my comment would be that I do not see what difference adding 'objective' to 'truth' makes.

There is perhaps a hint that we are getting into some version of 'logical positivism'. That 'objective truth' might describe propositions that are (potentially) verifiable (or falsifiable). In which case, the problem is the one I've mentioned before, that we can't clearly explain what we are falsifying. That assertions about a 'sphere in space' only make sense because they rest on a dogs dinner of other observations and assumptions.
Me: I don't understand the reference to probability. An observation is an observation, in what sense is it probabilistic?
Because we have observed something one time does not guarantee that the same thing will always be the case. The classic example is "black swan." Unless you travel to Australia, you might never see one, and thus for you it would be a perfectly plausible assumption that all swans are white. But you'd be incorrect to take it farther than to say, "All swans are probably white," for we have discovered that black swans do, in fact, exist. So if you declared "All swans are white," you would be saying something highly plausible, but also untrue.

Probability is all empirical knowledge ever gives any of us. Now, some are very high probabilities -- excellent probabilities -- but others are less so, and some are perilously low. Still, that's what science provides.
That is about induction, not probability. Science assumes the validity of inductive reasoning. It doesn't posit that there is a force 'probability' operating in the world. Science does not say that how a spun coin falls is directed by probability - if we knew everything about the coin and the spin we would have certainty about how it would fall. 'Probability' is a calculation we make reflecting our uncertainty, our lack of knowledge. We don't fully understand the conditions of the spin so we make a guess based on all the possible outcomes.
It's('objective truth') neither meaningless nor untrue, though. So that line of argument doesn't really help your case. To make your case, you would need to SHOW, not merely assume, that objective truth were empirically non-existent. Because the words qua words in it make perfect sense, and do indeed mean something quite specific. You have already said earlier the problem with objective truth is not that such a thing could not possibly exist, or is conceptually incoherent -- so the remaining problem is merely empirical.
Well, I don't agree that the meaning of 'objective truth' is 'quite specific' yet! I do not agree that 'the words qua words in it make perfect sense, and do indeed mean something quite specific'. I think philosophy has been wrestling with both 'truth' and 'objective' for a long time.

However, we seem to be reaching some understanding of what you mean by the term, a combination of 'useful hypothesis' and 'science' and 'assertion about the empirical world', but I think it is a precarious structure that does not bear close analysis.
The problem's not in logic itself. Logic is fine stuff.
I do not understand what point you are making.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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surreptitious57 wrote:But it can be subject to potential falsification.
You're speaking of the concept "objective truth." Particular objective truth claims are indeed falsifiable. However, it's not possible to falsify a concept qua concept, standing all by itself. In other words, the concept has to be fitted into a premise before we can speak of either verifiability or falsifiability.

Yet some concepts, like subjectivism, do contain their own internal contradictions; in which case we can declare such absurd or perhaps, as in this case, self-defeating. (Married bachelors, square circles, civil engineers... :wink: ) "Subjective truth" is a similar oxymoron, because subjectivity is entirely personal, and the word truth invokes a common metric.
Subjective truth can be falsified where the relevant objective truth is known.

But particular "subjective truths" cannot be falsified. That is because, as purely subjective, all they require is that a person declares, "I perceive X," and then nobody else's perception provides any grounds for critique. It may well be true that he perceives X; who can contradict? And if somebody says he sees pink elephants, how would we know he does not? That is, unless we compare his subjective illusion to the objective realities. But subjectivists don't believe in those, and deny that they can be applied to locating truth.

We thus cannot falsify subjectivist claims using subjectivism's required epistemological conditions. So it's by subjectivism's own declaration that it is unfalsifiable, and does not require critique from objectivists to be known as such.
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Londoner wrote:If that is what is meant by objective truth, how is it distinguished from any other perception or claim of 'truth'?
I would argue that anything that deserves to be called "truth" at all is objective. If it is merely the claimed personal experience of one individual, and fails to be replicated in anyone else or represented in the external world anyone else perceives, then in what sense is it a "truth" at all? I think the best term for such a thing is "delusion," "error" or perhaps "hallucination."
Or is 'objective truth' about the 'noumena', what the size of the ocean, or the universe, might be 'in itself', as distinct from as it is perceived? In that case, we can never know it.

Yes. But it does not matter that we cannot measure it. God can. And in any case, what we know for sure is that there IS a right answer, even if we don't currently possess it. And if that number should ever appear, it would be the same number for all persons who had the right number. Variance from it would merely be a degree of error, not a new "truth."
Again, the 'sphere in space' example would apply to every empirical proposition.
Yes...and...?
I have asked before if 'objective truth' simply meant the propositions used in science, or useful rules.
"Useful" to whom? Did you mean particular interests, or everyone in general?
In which case fine, but we must bear in mind that such things are not held to be true in an absolute sense, they are only true 'assuming...' And the things assumed cannot themselves be verified (or falsified) through science.

But science is not the ground of truth. God is. Human science is demonstrably fallible, and in any case can only yield probabilistic results, not absolute or objective ones. What God knows grounds objective truth. And our ability to know truth is only as good as our ability to participate in what He objectively knows.
So your thought is that nobody can point to an objective truth? But that's not so. The Earth is a sphere in space, for example. Are you convinced that's not true? :shock:
And my comment would be that I do not see what difference adding 'objective' to 'truth' makes.

I think it makes none. But subjectivists continually insist they have "subjective truth," so it's necessary to distinguish the actual truth from their peculiar form of delusion.
...That is about induction, not probability.
Induction yields probabilistic results. Deduction, when done by definition, yields necessary conclusions. But science is empirical and inductive, and so can only ever give us probable results...not certainty.
Science assumes the validity of inductive reasoning. It doesn't posit that there is a force 'probability' operating in the world.
I didn't say it did. But "validity" is a technical term applying to deductive syllogisms only. It is not of use in reference to induction. Check it out, if you doubt me.
'Probability' is a calculation we make reflecting our uncertainty, our lack of knowledge.

Well said.
I think it is a precarious structure that does not bear close analysis.
Once you see that my assumption does not ground "truth" in either "science" or human perception, you may understand why I think it's possible to be more confident about the existence of objective truth. My assertion would be that it's grounded in the Eternal God.
The problem's not in logic itself. Logic is fine stuff.
I do not understand what point you are making.
I was making reference to the claim you had made earlier that logic was "not possible": but I admitted that that could have been a perception occasioned by the ambiguity of your syntax, and not your real view, so we can leave it if it seems unhelpful to the conversation.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Immanuel Can wrote: I would argue that anything that deserves to be called "truth" at all is objective. If it is merely the claimed personal experience of one individual, and fails to be replicated in anyone else or represented in the external world anyone else perceives, then in what sense is it a "truth" at all? I think the best term for such a thing is "delusion," "error" or perhaps "hallucination."
My personal experience is never replicated by anyone else, not exactly. And experiences of hallucinations are real experiences, even though nobody else can share them. And none of the things we call true are simply that experience, all such claims are made within a metaphysical framework.

That is why I continue to think it is doubtful if we can draw a line and say 'this truth is objective and that one isn't'.
But science is not the ground of truth. God is. Human science is demonstrably fallible, and in any case can only yield probabilistic results, not absolute or objective ones. What God knows grounds objective truth. And our ability to know truth is only as good as our ability to participate in what He objectively knows.
I don't see where God came in. And since we cannot know what God knows, I don't think what he might know is really relevent. God here is like the notion of 'noumena', there may be such a thing but we can never know it.
Me: And my comment would be that I do not see what difference adding 'objective' to 'truth' makes.
I think it makes none. But subjectivists continually insist they have "subjective truth," so it's necessary to distinguish the actual truth from their peculiar form of delusion.
If any of these subjectivists are reading this, I'm sure they will make their own case!
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Re: Materialism is logically imposible

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Londoner wrote:My personal experience is never replicated by anyone else, not exactly.
"Not exactly" is the right conditional there. It is, but "not exactly." Much of what we experience involves a significant commonality with other people. The differences are often more about detail or angle than large outline.

For example, you and I both presently believe we are emailing each other. That's basic. So is that we are doing so on a strand dedicated to the proposition "Materialism is logically (sic) imposible" is another basic fact. Whether or not all participants noticed the missing "p" is detail -- it does not substantially alter the large project in which we are engaged.

Much of life is like that. Perspective matters; but perspective often applies late in the game, after the general, common facts have inadvertently already been conceded by all anyway.
And experiences of hallucinations are real experiences, even though nobody else can share them.
Agreeing with this requires carefully nuancing of the word "real." The experiences are, by definition, of things that are NOT real. That the delusion is happening is true, but is true objectively -- everyone can see from the reported experiences of the hallucinator that he is having a hallucination, and they know it's a hallucination because it isn't real for them.
But science is not the ground of truth. God is. Human science is demonstrably fallible, and in any case can only yield probabilistic results, not absolute or objective ones. What God knows grounds objective truth. And our ability to know truth is only as good as our ability to participate in what He objectively knows.
I don't see where God came in.
Because He is, par excellence, The Truth. He not only incarnates the essence of truthfulness, since He defines all things as they really are, but also grounds objective truth for humanity, in that because He exists we also know objective truth exists, and because objective truth exists, we also can approximate it by listening to God.

Those who seek truth come to know Him. And those who want more truth seek Him continuously.
And since we cannot know what God knows, I don't think what he might know is really relevent.
Ah, but yes it is. A player on the basketball court may be so intent on the game he forgets the score. But he's not the scorekeeper, is he? And what the scorekeeper thinks will decide the outcome of the game.

To the extent that the player is conscious of the score, he knows the truth about how the game stands. If his estimate is off in one direction or another, that will surely affect his strategy and play. Ideally, all players would be continually conscious of the objectively correct score. But we know, being human and thus subject to error and tiredness, they may not.

God's got the objective truth "score." We don't always have it. But to the extent we conform our assessment to His, we can.
God here is like the notion of 'noumena', there may be such a thing but we can never know it.
He says we can. In fact, He says He'll tell us what we need to know. But only "he who has ears to hear" is going to hear it. We've all got ears, of course; but some of them just aren't prepared to hear certain things.
If any of these subjectivists are reading this, I'm sure they will make their own case!
I would hope so. For if they make a decisive case, they defeat themselves anyway. So let 'em try, I say. :lol: That's the absurdity of subjectivism, of course.
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