Speakpigeon wrote: ↑Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:28 pm
Scott Mayers wrote: ↑Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:34 pm
My graph covers all possibilities. So my point is to ask whether my existence, "I", is something that comes into existence from relative non-existence or, alternatively whether "I" always existed absolutely (non-relatively).
If I am non-solipsistic, I don't interpret all that exists as something that I am a part of. Thus there must at least be SOME non-"I" in totality....some place where "I" lacks existence (like point a), AND some place where "I" exists (like point d). Whether we gradually BECOME "I" is possible, it is indifferent to the transition between points a and d in that shaded zone. It may be discrete (like the sudden appearance of "I") or continuous (like the gradual approach to becoming "I"), both possibilities that lie in that shaded zone.
This means that ONLY if you assume a definite distinction between 'times' where we exist versus non-existence, we cannot assume our own perception of existence is neither without assuming it all belongs IN that shaded area. And if this is true, then all we can infer is a type of "solipsistic" reality because we always 'exist' in some degree in that shaded area.
No, your graph doesn't cover all possibilities. To see that, you need to look at your implicit assumptions.
Obviously, you could say what you say of the "I" about anything. For example, the universe: Did the universe came into being at some point in time or has it always existed? Well, it may be both if time was infinite and yet had a beginning and began with the universe itself, perhaps because it's a property of the universe rather than a dimension containing the universe. And that's just one "simple" logical possibility.
This is covered in the graph. It is the shaded part ONLY. I place all options on one graph. If I were to express what you are thinking, I'd require separating the graphs but you can infer this by treating existence of reality apart from "I" [horizontal axis is the Universe with or without us using 'time' as the objective
I was also ignoring the direct concern about reality apart from what we observe because you need to argue from our own subjective
experience to infer what is or is not true of the world apart from ourselves.
The other aspect I already suggested is that the "I" is an ambiguous entity and our default view of it may well be completely wrong.
For example, I favour the idea that the "I" is in effect two distinct but familiar things coming together. There is something we may call "consciousness", or "subjective experience". And then there is the mental data that make up the self: percepts, sensations, impressions, ideas, intuitions, memories etc. These data should be seen as what is usually called our qualia. Yet, qualia here are somehow experienced by something else which is what I called "subjective experience" or "consciousness".
So, now, in terms of existence, we have the choice. For example, I would say that it may be reasonable to think of the qualia experienced as somehow produced by a physical body. If so then the existence of qualia is dependent on that of the body and we can assume that qualia sort of emerges gradually as the brain develops and the body starts interacting with its environment. And then we still have the question of the existence of consciousness (or subjective experience). Given the apparent dualism between the physical and consciousness, it might well be the case that consciousness doesn't emerge from the body like our qualia perhaps do, but that it exists somewhat like we imagine spacetime does: it's everywhere and always there. And, crucially, it may be the same one universal consciousness for experiencing all of us. Maybe even a consciousness that also exists outside our universe, somewhat like God would.
And that's just one logical possibility but it's already well outside your graph with its only two possibilities.
Unless you prefer to limit yourself to Descartes' concept of the "I" as the thinking thing. If so, I would vote for a gradual coming into existence of the "I" as the brain develops and as the person starts to interact with its environment. Isn't that good enough?
I'm trying to reduce all extraneous information. The graph only represents "I" with respect to "U" (I'll use "U" for the universe and may remind us of "you" as well). As such, the 'time line' suffices to represent U, for whatever possible reality where "I" may exist, "I" may not exist, both or neither. This exhausts all possible mapping of existence. ONLY what WE (the "I") experiences in U is what I'm asking a question about: Does "I" exist in some "U" for all times, sometimes, or no times? And then, if we bias ourselves to time as having 'order', where the positive horizontal axis exists moving to the right, does "I" always exist with "U" or not? (solipsistic interpretation or not because if we treat "U" as only extant upon our own experience alone, then the subjective experience of existence is all we might interpret "U" to be.)
If "I" am not always extant with "U", what evidence
counts as telling me that there is any
time U exists without me (other than the imperfect 'inductive' inferences)? You used the word, "consciousness", to which I must point out that with respect to 'observing', anything 'observes', not just conscious beings, in that they are things that react within their environment. So a rock 'observes' reality, for instance, when light or atoms 'hit' it and affect it in some way. The question would be whether the rock exists if "I" wasn't there to observe it. [similar to whether a tree falling in the woods without anyone being around makes a sound or not]
If all we can "deduce" is bound to our own existence, then for all practical purposes, "I" and "U" are one and the same. We only INDUCE
that "I" is not "U" because the "I" lacks the capacity to know all it experiences by default. But if we still were the "U", our experience of being only a limited subset could also possibly represent some fact of our own creation: that some greater "I" we are CHOSE to limit our own awareness locally. So, this would be like thinking you could BE "God" and are just not presently aware of this because you were/are powerful enough to "lift a rock too heavy for you to lift" sort of thing. Certainly if "I" was "U", then this is one possibility.
However, because we ARE 'limited' from the perspective of being "I" now, what can we be certain of not knowing and thus, asking, is what can I use of my experience to infer whether I was born or not? We know that we have real technology that can knock our consciousness out, such as anesthetics. This seems to work merely by preventing our memory from recording anything. Given we use 'memory' as some intrinsic part of "I" necessary to exist in the moment, it is possible that the "I" may have existed prior
to our inferred birth but that the memory of it is not accessible from the perspective of "I".
So the graph exhausts all the possibilities of "I" existing with "U". Either there is a time where "I" existed or not; If "U" is distinct from "I", then "I" is a subset of "U" only, and is thus at least 'finite' from one end, like being born on one end and dying on the other. I didn't ask here whether we persist eternally or not because I am only concerned if there is ANY division between "I" and "U". So if there is some rationale for being 'born', whatever we may deduce about this can be true about any other 'end', like dying.
The question I am asking is how do we determine if "I" has any
finite boundary with respect to "U"? The option to add both a discrete and continuous option in the shaded area is to include the possibility of defining "I" as either the act of being initially conceived OR to some point later where we officially may define ourselves as the "I" we seem to define ourselves as now. All that matters is to determine if there is at least some time, x, where I did not exist, to know for certain that "I" was born. If we can't deduce
this, are we stuck with inducing
our existence as a mere subset of "U"?