Individualism vs. Collectivism

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SpheresOfBalance
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by SpheresOfBalance »

Nick_A wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:38 am One of the most important basic and avoided questions is if a person considers themselves essentially an Individualist or a collectivist. It seems more enjoyable to argue over techniques or good and bad. But the question of Individualism vs. Collectivism as desired method to improve human nature puts us on the spot.

There are many ways to discuss it after we agree as to their basic difference so I'd like to ask you if you agree with the following distinction:

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/is ... lectivism/
The fundamental political conflict in America today is, as it has been for a century, individualism vs. collectivism. Does the individual’s life belong to him—or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state? With government expanding ever more rapidly—seizing and spending more and more of our money on “entitlement” programs and corporate bailouts, and intruding on our businesses and lives in increasingly onerous ways—the need for clarity on this issue has never been greater. Let us begin by defining the terms at hand.

Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.

Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: “Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.”1

Individualism or collectivism—which of these ideas is correct? Which has the facts on its side?
As is obvious, America is moving more and more toward collectivism. All we read of are collectives. Is this desirable? Perhaps we can discuss the essential differences and potentials for both individualism and collectivism when life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness become our desired goal..
Actually it's a stupid consideration. We'll always be individuals.PERIOD! Collectivism can only be viewed as thoughts of what's right that are agreed upon, by the majority. And they can only ever be honestly considered, as they pertain to any one or group, treading on the rights of another one or group. And that's the end of it! Equality for all! Elites are figments of your imagination. There are no necessary valid premises that instantiate such a necessarily truthful conclusion of elitism.

The only truth is that none of us asked to exist, and that we were thrown into this existence naked and afraid. None of us knows of those premises that necessarily qualify any particular life as supreme, as they are always self serving, usually more touted by the most fearful of us all. As such, there can be no conclusion that is necessarily informative of anything remotely resembling an elite. We have proven it time and time again, history informs, we're simply dumb selfish animals, all of us!
Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

SOB
The only truth is that none of us asked to exist, and that we were thrown into this existence naked and afraid. None of us knows of those premises that necessarily qualify any particular life as supreme, as they are always self serving, usually more touted by the most fearful of us all. As such, there can be no conclusion that is necessarily informative of anything remotely resembling an elite. We have proven it time and time again, history informs, we're simply dumb selfish animals, all of us!
Both the Philosopher King and the tyrant can be considered elitist. Do you see them as the same in regards to human objective quality?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

Hi again, RC:

Sorry for the delay...I've been chatting a ton with Henry, and occasionally taking issue with Peter, and both have occupied me for a bit. Besides, I like to give your responses due thought. You're not a guy one responds to in a 'flip' way. :wink:

But here we go.
RCSaunders wrote: Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:24 pm I did not say a thing is, "the sum of its qualities," I said it is whatever all its qualities are.
Okay, RC...you've got me there. I can't see a difference between those two claims. It looks to me like "sum" means "all [of] its..."
If an entity exists it must be something with some nature and it is that nature (all its attributes, properties, and characteristics) that are its qualities.
But now we have two terms: its "nature" and its "qualities." You say they're the same. I don't think they are. I think the qualities tell us what the nature is, but are not that nature.
I have no idea what you mean by, a "unitary existence," unless you are implying some kind of Platonic, "substance," that qualities (form) are impressed on.
No, nothing so difficult as that. I'm just saying that a "diamond" is more than any of its facets, and more, even than the sum of its facets taken together. It has an existence as a whole that it lacks in parts. That's why you can put a diamond in a ring, but you can't put a bunch of diamond-facets in a ring. The facet is but one aspect of the whole.

So think of it this way: the "nature" of the thing (to employ your word) is a diamond. It's "qualities" are but facets. Their combined unity is greater than the sum of the parts.
There is no need (or possibility) of some kind of mystic or ineffable stuff underlying everything.
I wasn't.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm I think that maybe here's the problem: you're using "qualities" in an unusual way. You're including in "qualities" not just adjectival properties, like width, colour, shape, age, and so on, but also unitary essence...and yet you appear unconvinced that any essence exists beyond these "qualities." So it seems to me there's a kind of amphiboly in your application of the term "qualities."

Are "qualities," in your usage, separable descriptors, or are they inseparable sub-features of the unitary whole? I can't really tell yet what you are supposing about that.
I may be using, "qualities," in an unusual way. Almost everything I say philosophically will be somewhat unusual since I disagree with almost all that goes by the name philosophy. So your question is a fair one. Here is what I mean by qualities [/quote]
Thank you for filling that out. I can accept the stipulation.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm
It is the life attribute that differentiates between the non-living entities and living organisms.
No doubt it is. But "life" is not simply an additional descriptor, or "quality," is it?
It is a quality (ontological), not a, "descriptor," (epistemological).

But qualities don't exist (ontologically) in absence of reference to the whole.

We have white paper, but no unassociated "whiteness." That's an abstraction only. The "white" doesn't exist in precisely the same sense as the paper exists...it exists only as an attribution of the paper. So I think we have to separate our ideas of "qualities" from the nouns to which we may attach them. The nouns exist (ontologically) in an absolute way, plausibly; but we cannot ever say the same about qualities. They're closer to judgments or assessments than they are to ontologically 'real' items.
There is something different about organisms that distinguishes them from non-living entities else there would be no reason to identify some things as mere physical objects and others as organisms. The name given to that difference is, "life." There is nothing to prove.
Yes, there is: there's the giving of substance to that term "something" that you use. One can justifiably ask, "Okay, so there's something different between a rock and a turtle, even when they look the same -- but what, actually is it? That's a very fair question: and to say, "Well, it's life" is really not to answer the question very well. It opens further questions, rather than closing the book.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm It seems to me that to add "life" to a description is more than it is merely to add weight, or colour, or shape, or age, or any other such physical "quality."
"Life," is not a physical quality.
Quite so.

But an objector may say, "Well, you can't have life in the absence of physicality, so far as we know." And if you supposed you had an answer to that, you'd have to say more. So I think you mean, "Not just a physical quality," though you wouldn't deny that physical properties (respiration, reproduction, circulation, and so on) are associated with it, right?
The word, "life," does not explain what life is, It only identifies that which differentiates between non-living entities and organisms.

Yeah, that's my point. Some explanation is still missing.

Life is not something, "added," that transforms a non-living entity into an organism, it is not some kind of, "thing," or, "substance," or "stuff." As I've said before, life manifests itself at the physical level as a process that maintains the organism as the kind of organism it is. I agree with you, that "the physical properties ... of an entity are still intact, but that the entity has 'died,'" if the process ceases. Such a process, however, cannot be explained in terms of physical properties alone, which means the life process is possible because non-physical properties, as well as physical properties, are also part of natural (material) existence.[/quote]
I agree about the necessity of non-physical properties -- which are nonetheless linked to physical operations, but are not just them. But I do not see how you can speak of these non-physical properties as "material." The word "material" seems inevitably to tie you back to the physical; and we have already said that explanation will not be sufficient.

We both think some non-physical property is being indicated.
The universe I live in includes living organisms which are not limited (or bound) by physical properties, which is what differentiates them from the mere physical. I assume you regard living organisms to be supernatural in some way.
It depends what we mean by "natural." The word can be used as a synonym for "routine," as in, "It's natural to like girls." It can be used as a synonym for the material word, as in "Mathematics transcends the natural world," in which case it caries the further implication of "limitedness." Elizabethans used it to mean "child," "mentally-handicapped person" and something rather naughty, at the same time. It can be used various ways -- it's a slippery little bugger, and must be watched. :wink:

What I mean when I say "supernatural" is nothing spooky. I mean something very broad and open. I just mean that something beyond the strict observed regularities of the physical world is being indicated...that physical explanations will never suffice to explain it fully. And that's something you've said is true of "life," that it's non-physical. And I'd agree.

But maybe we should say, super-physical instead of supernatural, just to keep that straight. As I say, "natural" is a misleading word.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm
In short, material existence is all that exists the way it exists.
This statement is merely presuppositional Materialism, though. It's something you have to take on faith, rather than something that can be shown. And when taken on faith, it results in absurd consequences that both of us have already rejected, such as Emergentism.
Nothing is being, "supposed," here, it is simply a statement of what I mean by material existence. Let me put it another way. Whatever there is that exists and whatever its nature is, I call that material existence.

Does it include, then, these non-physical elements, like life, that you are also saying exist?

But then I think we should avoid the word "material," as it's certain to mislead everyone on what you mean. That word already has a strong group of associated meanings, and you don't need to be swimming upstream against those. It will only make your job of explaining harder.
I would have to include the supernatural as part of, "all that exists," and therefore material existence.
This is what I mean: "material" is very frequently used to differentiate from "immaterial." But you seem to be including both in it, and I don't think people will easily understand you on that. I think I'm kind of getting it now, but I think you'll admit it's been uphill work to explain it to me...you could make your own job much easier.
The purpose of identifying material existence as material existence is to differentiate between what exists, as it exists, independently of anyone's knowledge or awareness of that existence from what only exists as the product of human consciousness, that is, between the ontological and the epistemological.

I think that distinction is important. But I think you should avoid the word "material" in making it, or else use it in the conventional ways, to make life easier for yourself as an explainer. "Material" is too closely tied to the word "matter," and people are going to think that you're saying that only that which is made of physical matter exists. I see you're not, but as I say, it's uphill work.
Everything else that exists, all knowledge and knowledge methods (language, mathematics, logic), science, history, religion, philosophy, literature, and fiction, only exists as the product of human minds and consciousness, and therefore do not exist materially.
This seems to go too far, or veers off in a bad direction, I think. People are instantly going to think "Literature does not exist materially" is an absurd claim. In one very obvious sense, that's exactly how it exists. :shock: But I think you're wanting to say that the concepts or ideas articulated in the literature "do not exist materially," and I think I can cautiously agree with that.
Our essential difference of view is, that you include what is called the supernatural in that which exists ontologically and I regard everything you call supernatural as only existing epistemologically.
Well, I think we meet over the idea that the "non-physical" to use your term, ontologically exists. And, as I propose, we can substitute the term "super-physical" to clarify that a bit.
We cannot perceive the, "life," quality, but we know what life is, because we are alive. That is what it means to say we know what life is by doing it. It is the same for consciousness and mind as well. We know we are conscious, not by perceiving our consciousness (which we could do if it were physical) but by being conscious, just as we know we can see and hear, not be seeing or hearing those perceptions, but by actually seeing and hearing. We know we have minds, though we cannot perceive them, because of our mind's nature, that is, because we must and can consciously choose all we do, can and must gain and store knowledge (intellect), and can and must think (rationality).
So that answers the epistemological question, "How do we know we are alive and conscious," but doesn't do anything for the ontological question, "What are life and consciousness, in themselves?"
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm And we do know, both deductively and by empirical means, that the universe had an origin.
Deductively I know nothing comes from nothing. Non-A cannot spontaneously become A.

So far, so good.
Empirically I know what exists exists and that there is no evidence that existence could ever not have existed.
"Existence existed"? That's seems hopelessly self-referential. We aren't saying much thereby. We aren't saying WHAT existed. Clearly, the universe did not always exist. So what was there?
Except for the crackpot Hawking, cosmological hypotheses do not say there was ever nothing or that nothing preceded the so-called, "big bang."
I agree. We can't just say, "Nothing made the universe happen." Nothing does nothing.
It is, after all, not science in any case, because the past cannot be directly examined, and is all conjecture.
Oh, I would disagree. True, we cannot use direct observation: but deduction is very powerful here...I would argue, overwhelmingly powerful. If nothing comes from nothing, the universe came from something. But that something cannot have been the universe itself. So what was it? We might not know -- at least by this method -- but we know for sure something non-material and eternal preceded the arrival of the universe, because of the impossibility of an infinite regress of causes.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm ... what if Someone could come along and tell you, "You're not here struggling between womb and tomb with no real or actual purpose. You're not a cosmic accident whose all on your own to fake meaning out of nothing. I made you, and I love you, and I want you to be fully what you can be. I want you to make your choices (and will defend your right to do so absolutely, even if you have to live with some bad outcomes as a result). But as for me, I want you to grow into the best self you can be, and then not just decay and die, but have eternal prospects of happiness, relationship, exploration, wonder and creativity -- and I'm prepared to lay down my life to make it possible for you."
I would know it was a lie and the speaker was either demented or a rogue. My life is not a, "struggle," it is joy and victory every day.
How fortunate you are, then.

But I was speaking poetically, on behalf of the human race, not on your account only. The human race has more than its share of such experiences. But what part of "I want you to grow into the best self you can be, and then not just decay and die, but have eternal prospects of happiness, relationship, exploration, wonder and creativity -- and I'm prepared to lay down my life to make it possible for you" makes the speaker a rogue? :shock:
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm
If the universe were different in any way from what it is, there would be, "no coherent matter ... no people, no planets, ... nothing." But that puts a limit on your God. If God could have made life possible in any kind of universe, then there is nothing necessary about all the scientific limitations you site as proof God had to make the universe just as it is, but if life and existence are only possible in the universe such as it is, God could not have made this universe different.
Let's suppose that's so. If it were, we have no frame of reference from which to comprehend it. ...
The, "frame of reference," is the universe as it is.
That won't help, because you're asking us to imagine a universe that is utterly different from this one, and shares none of the fundamental dynamics of this one. This is a thing we cannot really do, and do not have reason even to think is possible. So such a line of inquiry goes nowhere: we cannot do it, anymore than any of us, even the best cosmologists, can comprehend the size of this one little universe in which we already live. You're simply asking the impossible of us. So it's not much of a thought experiment, is it?

Is there another kind of "universe"? We shouldn't then call it "universe." Is there another kind of "life"? But since it shares no features with "life" as it appears in this universe, we cannot even imagine what it would be. No deductions can be made from such an asking.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm
You and I both know the universe has an exact nature and that there is nothing random or accidental about it.

Is that true? You don't believe that the universe happened by accident? You don't believe, for example, in the Big Bang? You believe something non-random created the universe?
Yes it's true. I do not believe in the, "big bang." I believe the universe is what it is and has the nature it has, period, which does not require that it was created.
I can only say that the greatest cosmologists of our time would disagree. They might not want the word "created," and prefer a term like "commenced," but they would point out to you that all the empirical evidence we now possess seems to point irrefutably to an origin-of-the-universe.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm You're arguing from something that clearly undermines your theory that the universe can "just happen," to the conclusion that it "just happened" into existence. You're accepting the evidence for design, and then concluding that it all happened without design.
The universe did not, "happen." The universe simply is what it is and requires nothing to make it what it is. The idea that the universe was, "designed," is exactly what you accuse me of, an ex post facto conclusion based on the fact the universe has a specific nature; but that nature does not require a designer anymore than the wonderful patterns of the Grand Canyon or Painted Dessert required a designer.
Image
Ah, but you've overlooked a key feature of that the universe itself and life in particular have different from the coloured rocks in the Grand Canyon or the Painted Desert: specification.

The rocks in the Painted Desert do not specify anything. But if you went down to the Grand Canyon, and saw that the ripples in the rocks were shaped into the words, "Clive wuz here," what would you think? :shock:

I doubt very much you would say, "Wow: isn't it amazing how billions of years of water passing over rocks created this?" No, you'd go looking for the delinquent with the spray can: because you'd know that rocks plus time do not specify anything. But Clive does.
...a concept for which there is no evidence and call it God.
Ah. But the jury's still out on that, I hope. :wink:
Thank you for that and for inquiring about my health. There are physical problems, but nothing to worry about.
I'm glad. I trust they're not overwhelming? And perhaps I may hope they will decrease and improve with time, too?
I know you must be looking forward to Christmas. I do enjoy much of the music [the old, mostly classical themes, Bach, Mozart, Handle, Beethoven, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Purcel, Elgar, Monteverdi, Tchaikovsky, Telemann, Pachelbel, Luther, not the modern stuff] and the simple joy and pleasure I see in others at this time of year, and wish all the best of that for you and yours.
Well, at the risk of being seasonal, and since you enjoy classics, can I regale you with this? I hope you enjoy it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE

Yours,

IC
Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:16 pm
Nick_A wrote: Mon Dec 09, 2019 4:22 am In your opinion...
Well, not that my opinion matters on that question, of course...whether or not Jesus was what He said He was is framed as a matter of fact, not opinion. And that would be true no matter what view one took on that.
...was Jesus the physical body who visited the earth or the resurrected Man who achieved human evolution?
Was He a physical man? Yes. Was He the resurrected Man? Yes. Was he a product of human evolution? Decidedly not.
Simone Weil
"To believe in God is not a decision we can make. All we can do is decide not to give our love to false gods.
IC
Was He a physical man? Yes. Was He the resurrected Man? Yes. Was he a product of human evolution? Decidedly not.
Conscious evolution is a universal possibility as is mechanical evolution and involution. They are part of a process which sustains our universe known in the East as the Breath of Brahma. Jesus demonstrated through the Crucifixion and resultant Resurrection the results of conscious evolution.
I don't think that's true at all. It makes me think maybe she didn't actually know God, or understand what was required. It's certainly the opposite of what Jesus said about belief. He declared one had actively to exercise faith in Him.
Simone knew God far better than you or I do since she experienced the Christ. There is a reason why she is called a mystic. It is hard to find people with logical minds who can experience also the quality of mind necessary to experience the reality above Plato’s divided line. Simone was one of the rare ones.
Well, that's purely negation. Not-believing will not make you a believer in the right thing. It may well make you nothing but a universal skeptic, and leave you knowing nothing at all.


It may but for people with the capacity for spiritual discrimination, it is exactly the quality which reconciles Christianity with atheism
Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.
- Simone Weil, Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the divine
the Simone Weil Reader, edited by George A. Panichas (David McKay Co. NY 1977) p 417
God is not in the world. The world is a living machine governed by natural laws serving a universal purpose. Awakening refers to to the conscious human potential to be more than the creature of reaction we know of as animal man. The atheist is skilled at understanding the natural laws producing science. The awakened man has the conscious potential to be more than a creature of reaction responding to natural laws serving the world but also to become able to serve a conscious purpose which unites above and below.
I don't have a problem with the suggestion that God makes His appeal at some time to all people. And I don't deny the value of skepticism. But I don't think it's skepticism that produces the encounter with God.
The poison of skepticism becomes, like alcoholism, tuberculosis, and some other diseases, much more virulent in a hitherto virgin soil. Simone Weil
Simone is referring to emotional skepticism. As I understand it, emotional skepticism is a dominating attitude of denial and very common on philosophy sites. Intellectual skepticism is the awareness of BS free from emotional judgment Do you agree with the distinction between emotional and intellectual skepticism?
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

Another facinating way to consider the relationship between collectivism and individualism is to view the grand collective, Plato's great beast, as a living organism. If we exist as part of a living organism that reacts to natural laws and cosmic influences much like life in the jungle, what does that say about individualism? From Wiki:
In sociology, the social organism is an ideological concept in which a society or social structure is viewed as a "living organism". From this perspective, typically, the relation of social features, e.g. law, family, crime, etc., are examined as they interact with other features of society to meet social needs. All elements of a society or social organism have a function that maintains the stability and cohesiveness of the organism.

The model or concept of society as an organism is traced by Maclay from Aristotle via a number of thinkers including Comte.[1] It was then developed in the late 19th century by Émile Durkheim, a French sociologist. According to Durkheim, the more specialized the function of an organism or society the greater its development, and vice versa. Generally, culture, politics, and economics are the three core activities of society. Social health depends on the harmonious interworking of these three activities. This concept was further developed by Rudolf Steiner in his lectures, essays and books on "The Threefold Social Order" from 1904 for the next two decades. Hence, the "health" of the social organism can be thought of as a function of the interaction of culture, politics and rights, and economics, which in theory can be studied, modeled, and analyzed. The conception of an "organismic society" was elaborated further by Herbert Spencer in his essay on "The Social Organism".

Steiner's Fundamental Social Law" of economic systems emerged during his work on social order: "Most of all, however, our times are suffering from the lack of any basic social understanding of how work can be incorporated into the social organism correctly, so that everything we do is truly performed for the sake of our fellow human beings. We can acquire this understanding only by learning to really insert our "I" into the human community. New social forms will not be provided by nature but can emerge only from the human "I" through real, person-to-person understanding—that is, when the needs of others become a matter of direct experience for us."[2]

In the 2002 book, Darwin's Cathedral, David Sloan Wilson applies his multilevel selection theory to social groups and proposes to think of society as an organism. Human groups therefore function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals. He claims that organisms "survive and reproduce in their environments" and that: "Human groups in general, and religious groups in particular, qualify as organismic in this sense".[3]
So if our society is not a collection of individuals but rather the expression of a single unit reacting to cosmic and natural laws, can individuality be an expression of this unit or must an individual be an expression of an influence outside of the domain of the Great Beast and what the Great Beast as a reacting animal must be unaware of

The true individual isn't defined by society but by the conscious ability to connect the above with the domain of the social organism below.
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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders »

Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm Hi again, RC:

Sorry for the delay...
Good. It's a nice excuse for my own tardiness.

I do appreciate your honest comments, but please do not worry about being, "flip." I appreciate a good jab from time to time.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:24 pm I did not say a thing is, "the sum of its qualities," I said it is whatever all its qualities are.
Okay, RC...you've got me there. I can't see a difference between those two claims. It looks to me like "sum" means "all [of] its..."
Qualities are not entities (things or objects) such as we mean when we say something is the, "sum of its parts." A, "sum," would be adding things together, but to add something to something else, it must already exist. There are no "free" or "wild" qualities to add to anything because, as you will note yourself, qualities only exist as qualities of existents. Qualities only exist because the entities they are the qualities of exist and have those qualities.

What I'm trying to evade is the mistaken notion that something is, "made up," of qualities as though you could take some redness, roundness, sweetness and tartness and add them together to get an apple.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm
If an entity exists it must be something with some nature and it is that nature (all its attributes, properties, and characteristics) that are its qualities.
But now we have two terms: its "nature" and its "qualities." You say they're the same. I don't think they are. I think the qualities tell us what the nature is, but are not that nature.
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language one meaning of nature [#6] is, "The set of inherent characteristics or properties that distinguish something." If all of an entity's qualities are identified, but they are not its nature, what is its nature beyond whatever its qualities are? What is an entity's nature if it is not its qualities?
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm No, nothing so difficult as that. I'm just saying that a "diamond" is more than any of its facets, and more, even than the sum of its facets taken together. It has an existence as a whole that it lacks in parts. That's why you can put a diamond in a ring, but you can't put a bunch of diamond-facets in a ring. The facet is but one aspect of the whole.

So think of it this way: the "nature" of the thing (to employ your word) is a diamond. It's "qualities" are but facets. Their combined unity is greater than the sum of the parts.
Of course a facet is only one aspect of a diamond. You may be forgetting I say an entity is whatever all its qualities are. A "diamond" is certainly more than any of its facets, but it's not more than all its qualities, which must include its facets. And it is a mistake to call a thing's qualities, "parts." Facets are not thing's added to a diamond, they are actually, along with all its other qualities, what a diamond is.

Unless it is uncut, you cannot put a diamond in a ring without its facets because without those facets it would not be a diamond.

You seem to think that after all of a diamond's qualities have been identified, there is still something more that simply identifying those qualities leaves out. Is that right? If so, can you say what that something more is?
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm I think that maybe here's the problem: you're using "qualities" in an unusual way. You're including in "qualities" not just adjectival properties, like width, colour, shape, age, and so on, but also unitary essence...and yet you appear unconvinced that any essence exists beyond these "qualities." So it seems to me there's a kind of amphiboly in your application of the term "qualities."
I don't think there is any ambiguity in my meaning. I'm satisfied with the dictionary definition I quoted above. A thing is whatever its inherent qualities are, period. Since, ontologically every entity is a unique existent there is no ontological essence. Epistemologically, entities with similar qualities can be identified and that similarity is their epistemological essence.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm We have white paper, but no unassociated "whiteness." That's an abstraction only. The "white" doesn't exist in precisely the same sense as the paper exists...it exists only as an attribution of the paper. So I think we have to separate our ideas of "qualities" from the nouns to which we may attach them. The nouns exist (ontologically) in an absolute way, plausibly; but we cannot ever say the same about qualities. They're closer to judgments or assessments than they are to ontologically 'real' items.
I think this is central to everything else we are discussing. You may not have intended it, but you are confusing the ontological and epistemological. Entities are not, "nouns," and qualities are not, "adjectives." Outside the human mind, there are no nouns or adjectives.

The ontological is all that is independent of any human awareness or knowledge of what is. The ontological is all that exists, however it exists, (which is what I mean by its "nature"), whether you or I or anyone else knows it exists or knows anything about it.

So once more I'll say, an entity is all it's qualities, and nothing else. Qualities do not exist independently of the entities they are the qualities of, but an entity, sans qualities, does not exist, and whatever qualities an entity has it must have or it would be a different entity. Since an entity's qualities exist, whether anyone is aware of those qualities or knows what they are, an entity's qualities exist ontologically.

A sheet of paper has all the qualities of paper: it is thin, flexible, smooth, durable, fibrous, opaque or translucent, has some color, and is chemically a mixture of cellulose fibers and water. If a thing is not thin, flexible, smooth, durable, fibrous, cellulose and water, and is transparent and has no color it is not paper. It might be glass or cellophane or plastic or ice, but it is not paper.

So, when you say, "The 'white' doesn't exist in precisely the same sense as the paper exists...it exists only as an attribution of the paper," it is a mistake. "Exist," only means, "is." Something either is or it isn't. There are different kinds of existents. There are entities, qualities, events, and relationships, but if they exist, they exist. In the case of entities and their qualities, neither exists without the other. There are no entities without qualities, and there are no qualities without the entities they are the qualities of. If an enitity exists, its qualities exist.

If you have a sheet of paper it will be some color. If it is white, it cannot also be some other color (or transparent) and be that "white" sheet of paper. A thing's qualities are not something, "added to," or, "a modification of," an entity, they are that entity's, "set of inherent characteristics or properties," that are what it is.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm Yes, there is: there's the giving of substance to that term "something" that you use. One can justifiably ask, "Okay, so there's something different between a rock and a turtle, even when they look the same -- but what, actually is it? That's a very fair question: and to say, "Well, it's life" is really not to answer the question very well. It opens further questions, rather than closing the book.
"Life," is not a physical quality.
Quite so.

But an objector may say, "Well, you can't have life in the absence of physicality, so far as we know." And if you supposed you had an answer to that, you'd have to say more. So I think you mean, "Not just a physical quality," though you wouldn't deny that physical properties (respiration, reproduction, circulation, and so on) are associated with it, right?
Every physical entity has the attribute (quality) "mass." If a thing does not have mass it is not a physical entity. Every organisms has the attribute (quality) "life." If a thing does not have life it is not an organism. Saying a thing has mass does not explain what mass is. Mass is not actually a thing, not something added to something that makes it a physical entity. It is the name given to certain aspect of a physical entity that determines how it will behave, especially relative to other physical entities. Life is not a thing or something added to something that makes it an organism. It is the name given to a certain aspect of a physical entity that determines how it behaves as a living organism.

If you want to know what mass is, you have to know how something with mass behaves. If you want to know what life is, you have to know how something with life behaves, differently than it would behave if it didn't have that attribute.

"How does mass make an entity have momentum and resist acceleration?" would be considered an absurd question, because it is that behavior of physical entities that is called mass. That is just what they do because they are physical and is what being physical means. "How does life make an organism behave in a way that sustains itself as the kind of existent it is?" is also an absurd question, because it is that behavior of organisms that is called life. That is just what they do because they are organisms and is what being alive means.

Mass, of course, is only one of the physical properties (or qualities) which all physical entities have, along with temperature, charge, state, and chemical properties, etc. Only some physical entities also have the non-physical property life, however. What makes life non-physical is that, unlike the physical properties, it cannot be directly perceived or examined by physical means and can only be known because it is manifest as behavior which deterministic physical properties (qualities) alone cannot account for. As I've said before, that living behavior manifests itself, at the physical level, as a process that maintains the organism as the kind of organism it is, a process no merely physical quality can explain or make possible.

===================================================

Now I want to address a particular question you've alluded to in several comments. I'll just quote what I think is pertinent:
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm I agree about the necessity of non-physical properties -- which are nonetheless linked to physical operations, but are not just them. But I do not see how you can speak of these non-physical properties as "material." The word "material" seems inevitably to tie you back to the physical ...

It depends what we mean by "natural."

But then I think we should avoid the word "material," as it's certain to mislead everyone on what you mean. ... It will only make your job of explaining harder.

This is what I mean: "material" is very frequently used to differentiate from "immaterial." But you seem to be including both in it, and I don't think people will easily understand you on that. I think I'm kind of getting it now, but I think you'll admit it's been uphill work to explain it to me...you could make your own job much easier.

I think that distinction is important. But I think you should avoid the word "material" in making it, or else use it in the conventional ways, to make life easier for yourself as an explainer. "Material" is too closely tied to the word "matter," and people are going to think that you're saying that only that which is made of physical matter exists. I see you're not, but as I say, it's uphill work.
I am referring to your objection to my use of the words, "material," and, "natural," as I have used them. I thoroughly understand why you are not comfortable with the way I've used those words, though I think you are beginning to understand how I use them, even if you do think they are the best. I just want to briefly explain why I have chosen to use those words as I do.

I wrote earlier that what I mean by material existence is whatever exists, as it exists, independently of anyone's knowledge or awareness of that existence. Used that way, I mean the same thing as I mean by ontological existence, or natural existence. My only purpose is to differentiate what exists ontologically (materially or naturally) from what exists epistemologically (psychologically). I regard those as the two fundamental categories of existence; that is, nothing exists that is not either ontological or epistemological.

The reason I do not use the term, "physical," to refer to the ontological is because the physical implies physical attributes only, and I know that life, consciousness, and mind exist ontologically (independent of anyone's consciousness or knowledge of them) but cannot be understood in terms of physical properties.

When I first began to understand these things I wrestled with what to call ontological existence because I knew, "physical," was incomplete, but every other term seemed to smack of the mystical or supernatural. I agree that, "material," unless explained as I explain it, is ambiguous and likely to be mistaken for physicalism by those who use the word "material" meaning, "physical matter." Quite frankly, if there were a word that could unambiguously mean all of ontological existence, i.e. all the exists as it exists including all physical, life, consciousness, and mental attributes, I would use it. Unfortunately, since, as far as I know, no philosopher or other intellectual as ever understood this, no such word has ever been coined.

I am not, however, the least bit concerned with whether or not others will be able to understand my meaning. My purpose for using the language I have is for my own understanding, not to be able to explain it to others. I'm certainly not adverse to explaining my meaning for anyone who really wants to understand it, but I have no great urge or desire to convince anyone else of a truth they really do not want. But I am always ready to learn. If you know a word that I might use instead of, "material," that would do the job, please suggest it.

===================================================
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm
Everything else that exists, all knowledge and knowledge methods (language, mathematics, logic), science, history, religion, philosophy, literature, and fiction, only exists as the product of human minds and consciousness, and therefore do not exist materially.
This seems to go too far, or veers off in a bad direction, I think. People are instantly going to think "Literature does not exist materially" is an absurd claim. In one very obvious sense, that's exactly how it exists. :shock: But I think you're wanting to say that the concepts or ideas articulated in the literature "do not exist materially," and I think I can cautiously agree with that.
I'm sure there are many people who believe literature consists of physical books or other printed material. It is, really, as you suggest, the concepts and ideas that literature refers to, not the medium in which it is printed or presented. In reality no printed material has any ideas or concepts in it. A printed page means nothing until someone who can interpret the printed symbols converts them into meaning. The actual content of all literature only exists in the minds of those who produce it and in the minds of those who read it. There is no literature in a book, only marks on paper.

Books, paper, and ink spots certainly exist materially, but books, paper and ink spots are not literature.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm
We cannot perceive the, "life," quality, but we know what life is, because we are alive. ...
So that answers the epistemological question, "How do we know we are alive and conscious," but doesn't do anything for the ontological question, "What are life and consciousness, in themselves?"
I think I did address the question of what life is above (comparing mass as a physical property to life as an organism's property). If not, the article, "The Nature of Life," should fill the explanation in.

Briefly, consciousness is an attribute (quality) only possible to living organisms found only in the more complex animals. Consciousness is the direct perception of those aspects of physical existence which can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted. Like life, it is not a physical quality and cannot be observed by any physical means. Only the actual conscious organism is aware of its own consciousness.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm Clearly, the universe did not always exist. ...
IC, I know you believe that, but it is not, "clear," at all. It is not possible that there was ever nothing. It does not matter if, "the greatest cosmologists of our time," all believe it or teach it. The "greatest scientists of their day," taught that heavier then air human flight was not possible, that anesthesia would not work, that life appeared spontaneously, and that we would all be dead from global warming ten years ago. The day will come when, "the greatest cosmologists of our time," along with all the greatest psychologists, environmentalists, and evolutionists will be looked back on as total fools only a little less absurd than the gullible masses who believed them.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm
... My life is not a, "struggle," it is joy and victory every day.
How fortunate you are, then.
But it is not, "fortune," it is a chosen way of life and it is available to anyone who is willing to pay the price for it. Most are not and look for short-cuts and easy answers, and get what they deserve.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:58 pm Well, at the risk of being seasonal, and since you enjoy classics, can I regale you with this? I hope you enjoy it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE
Thank you so much for the link. Handel was a genius. I noticed that the only one's standing during the little concert were the singers. How things have changed.

All the best to you!

RC
[/quote]
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Ansiktsburk »

Nick_A wrote: Thu Dec 12, 2019 4:54 am Another facinating way to consider the relationship between collectivism and individualism is to view the grand collective, Plato's great beast, as a living organism. If we exist as part of a living organism that reacts to natural laws and cosmic influences much like life in the jungle, what does that say about individualism? From Wiki:
In sociology, the social organism is an ideological concept in which a society or social structure is viewed as a "living organism". From this perspective, typically, the relation of social features, e.g. law, family, crime, etc., are examined as they interact with other features of society to meet social needs. All elements of a society or social organism have a function that maintains the stability and cohesiveness of the organism.

The model or concept of society as an organism is traced by Maclay from Aristotle via a number of thinkers including Comte.[1] It was then developed in the late 19th century by Émile Durkheim, a French sociologist. According to Durkheim, the more specialized the function of an organism or society the greater its development, and vice versa. Generally, culture, politics, and economics are the three core activities of society. Social health depends on the harmonious interworking of these three activities. This concept was further developed by Rudolf Steiner in his lectures, essays and books on "The Threefold Social Order" from 1904 for the next two decades. Hence, the "health" of the social organism can be thought of as a function of the interaction of culture, politics and rights, and economics, which in theory can be studied, modeled, and analyzed. The conception of an "organismic society" was elaborated further by Herbert Spencer in his essay on "The Social Organism".

Steiner's Fundamental Social Law" of economic systems emerged during his work on social order: "Most of all, however, our times are suffering from the lack of any basic social understanding of how work can be incorporated into the social organism correctly, so that everything we do is truly performed for the sake of our fellow human beings. We can acquire this understanding only by learning to really insert our "I" into the human community. New social forms will not be provided by nature but can emerge only from the human "I" through real, person-to-person understanding—that is, when the needs of others become a matter of direct experience for us."[2]

In the 2002 book, Darwin's Cathedral, David Sloan Wilson applies his multilevel selection theory to social groups and proposes to think of society as an organism. Human groups therefore function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals. He claims that organisms "survive and reproduce in their environments" and that: "Human groups in general, and religious groups in particular, qualify as organismic in this sense".[3]
So if our society is not a collection of individuals but rather the expression of a single unit reacting to cosmic and natural laws, can individuality be an expression of this unit or must an individual be an expression of an influence outside of the domain of the Great Beast and what the Great Beast as a reacting animal must be unaware of

The true individual isn't defined by society but by the conscious ability to connect the above with the domain of the social organism below.
Would say that groups in general are more orgasmic than organismic.
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

Ansiktsburk
Would say that groups in general are more orgasmic than organismic.
I agree. The collective as an unconscious living organism has egoistically associated the orgasm with the primary goal of life goal of life. But what of the individual trying to become normal?
"The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment."
― Malcolm Muggeridge
The true individual isn't defined by society but by the conscious ability to connect the above with the domain of the social organism below.

I've learned by experience both in real life and online that appreciating the limitations of the human condition is a most hated idea. It seems only logical that a normal human being would have the head as the leader with the emotions making what we want to do possible with the body being the means to get it done in the real world. But the human condition has made it so that the body of the human organism living as part of the great collective leads the emotion which in turn limits thought to dualistic associative thought incapable of sustained conscious attention .

Yet throughout history there have always been those with the awareness of the human condition as it exists within them and have made the efforts to establish a normal balanced relationship between thought, emotion, and sensation necessary to open to experience conscious awareness of above and below. They will become the individuals and if they become famous, will be hated by the collectives for disturbing the peace. Some have even been invited to drink the hemlock.
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

We are coming to a clear understanding of our essential areas of agreement and departure, I think, RC. And I'm not yet sure how to resolve it. Perhaps we will need to move forward in a new direction, and come back to it. I'm not sure.

To summarize, our main point of contention is over essence. I tend to think there's more to an entity than the sum of its qualities, and you tend to identify the qualities (all taken together) as as close to an "essence" as anything is going to get...but without the essence.

Or so it seems from here.

Here are some points on which you and I totally agree, I think:
RCSaunders wrote: Sat Dec 14, 2019 9:19 pm
  • Qualities only exist because the entities they are the qualities of exist and have those qualities.
  • What I'm trying to evade is the mistaken notion that something is, "made up," of qualities as though you could take some redness, roundness, sweetness and tartness and add them together to get an apple.
  • If an entity exists it must be something with some nature and it is that nature (all its attributes, properties, and characteristics) that are its qualities.
However, I added the following claim:
But now we have two terms: its "nature" and its "qualities." You say they're the same. I don't think they are. I think the qualities tell us what the nature is, but are not that nature.
And you asked:
What is an entity's nature if it is not its qualities?
My answer is: the holistic, integrated entity, of which the "qualities" are only aspects.

Look at it this way. Ask the question, "Who is RC?" One quality is that he's male. Another, that he's a biped. Another, that he's English. Another, that he likes classical music and good food. We could go on until we've listed every quality we can identify that corresponds to RC.

But at the end, will we thereby have an RC? Or could I fully understand all of those qualities, and what they entail, and yet because I have never met RC, would have to admit that I did not really know RC?

To me, that's highly plausible. How does it seem to you?
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 pm I think that maybe here's the problem: you're using "qualities" in an unusual way. You're including in "qualities" not just adjectival properties, like width, colour, shape, age, and so on, but also unitary essence...and yet you appear unconvinced that any essence exists beyond these "qualities." So it seems to me there's a kind of amphiboly in your application of the term "qualities."
I don't think there is any ambiguity in my meaning. I'm satisfied with the dictionary definition I quoted above.
I find it insufficient.

At one time, I shared your tendency to trust dictionaries. After all, they're carefully assembled by editorial boards, and are usually much more precise than people are in common speech. That makes them very useful, and generally reliable. And I thought that was enough.

That was, until I worked in a department of medicine, doing editorial work, and was introduced to the medical dictionaries. There, I found levels of definition that were completely absent from a Websters or a Compact Oxford, even when the same words were being defined. And I came to see that different dictionaries have different levels of precision, depending on the audience they are designed to serve.

Later, when I was doing translation work, I encountered the complete set of the Exhaustive Oxford dictionaries, with their minute etymological histories. What an eye-opener! And again, I saw that our ordinary dictionaries are largely composed of "good enough" definitions, not of exact definitions adequate for every purpose. Linguists need one dictionary, doctors another, philosophers a different one...because all are doing the kind of work that requires fine distinctions not necessarily useful to the ordinary layperson, but indispensable to the expert.

So when I say I don't find that dictionary definition adequate, I'm not slamming that dictionary. I'm just saying that the definition it provides is insufficiently precise for our purposes. We're into a specialized level of discourse that an ordinary dictionary simply doesn't anticipate. We need precise, philosophical definitions, and perhaps some stipulated terms as well.
Since, ontologically every entity is a unique existent there is no ontological essence. Epistemologically, entities with similar qualities can be identified and that similarity is their epistemological essence.
I don't think it's a simple as this, RC.

It is true that every object is -- in some ways -- unique. But it is just as true to say that it is the possessor of those qualities it has in common with other entities...and in that sense, is not utterly unique. And surely a complete account of an objects ontological identity cannot simply exclude all the qualities it has in common with other objects for no reason but that they are common. That wouldn't make sense, and would leave us with only half the qualities of any object to describe.
I think this is central to everything else we are discussing. You may not have intended it, but you are confusing the ontological and epistemological. Entities are not, "nouns," and qualities are not, "adjectives." Outside the human mind, there are no nouns or adjectives.
Let me put it more precisely then.

A "noun" is what we use (linguistically) to describe our experience (epistemologically) of an existent (ontologically) person, place, thing or idea. And "adjective" is a descriptor (linguistically) we apply on the basis of qualities we perceive (epistemologically) to adhere to those ontologically real entities.
an entity is all it's qualities, and nothing else.

And I think that its unitary, holistic reality is greater than the sum of fragmentary epistemological attributions we call "qualities." However, I'm not sure how to resolve our difference of opinion on that, so I'm going to have to keep thinking about how to do that.
So, when you say, "The 'white' doesn't exist in precisely the same sense as the paper exists...it exists only as an attribution of the paper," it is a mistake. "Exist," only means, "is." Something either is or it isn't. There are different kinds of existents. There are entities, qualities, events, and relationships, but if they exist, they exist.
Existence is itself an on-off property: and yet, types of existence exist. For instance, RC exists -- as a unique human being. The UK exists -- but only as a political and geographical arrangement, not as a thing that could be found ready-made, like RC. Handel's Messiah exists -- as a musical composition that must be played. Unicorns exist -- as one of various mythological beasts in the stock of human lore. The root of 3 exists -- as a mathematical concept....and so on.
In the case of entities and their qualities, neither exists without the other. There are no entities without qualities, and there are no qualities without the entities they are the qualities of. If an enitity exists, its qualities exist.
Still true. But it does not follow from the necessity of both entities and their qualities existing simultaneously that entities are nothing but the sum of their qualities. Like I say, RC -- to meet you would surely be more than to know all your qualities.
If you want to know what life is, you have to know how something with life behaves, differently than it would behave if it didn't have that attribute.

That's only epistemological, RC. That's what "if you want to know" implies, too. You're not telling us anything about the ontological nature of life.
The reason I do not use the term, "physical," to refer to the ontological is because the physical implies physical attributes only, and I know that life, consciousness, and mind exist ontologically (independent of anyone's consciousness or knowledge of them) but cannot be understood in terms of physical properties.
With this, I must agree.
When I first began to understand these things I wrestled with what to call ontological existence because I knew, "physical," was incomplete, but every other term seemed to smack of the mystical or supernatural. I agree that, "material," unless explained as I explain it, is ambiguous and likely to be mistaken for physicalism by those who use the word "material" meaning, "physical matter." Quite frankly, if there were a word that could unambiguously mean all of ontological existence, i.e. all the exists as it exists including all physical, life, consciousness, and mental attributes, I would use it. Unfortunately, since, as far as I know, no philosopher or other intellectual as ever understood this, no such word has ever been coined.
Then perhaps it is of urgent necessity that you coin the right word, RC. There's no law against you doing so. And it has the distinct advantage that if you do this, you will not be mistaken for speaking of either what is conventionally called the "material" or "natural," or to alluding to what has conventionally been called the "supernatural" either. I would say, just choose carefully, with due etymological attention to what you intend to convey, and then make a new word.

Shakespeare did it. Hardy did it. Heck, rappers on the streets of Detroit and Chicago have done it routinely (with less skill, obviously). There's no law against you inventing the right word for your own concept.
My purpose for using the language I have is for my own understanding, not to be able to explain it to others.

I don't think those goals are easily separable, RC. It's only when we explain clearly to another that we are really assured we've understood our own idea fully. But I don't think that task is undoable for any idea that is true.
Briefly, consciousness is an attribute (quality) only possible to living organisms found only in the more complex animals. Consciousness is the direct perception of those aspects of physical existence which can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted.
Hmmm...not good enough as a definition, I think.

Much of which we are conscious is not unambiguously the product of sense. Concepts, for example. Or the "self," which we seem to feel we all know: it has no smell, touch, taste or colour. If it can be "felt," it is not in a physical way. Emotions are perhaps sometimes products of the physical, but sometimes appear unbidden.
Like life, it is not a physical quality and cannot be observed by any physical means. Only the actual conscious organism is aware of its own consciousness.

Right. But once it is, it's not in doubt at all anymore...at least, not to the conscious entity itself, by definition.
Clearly, the universe did not always exist. ...
IC, I know you believe that, but it is not, "clear," at all. It is not possible that there was ever nothing. It does not matter if, "the greatest cosmologists of our time," all believe it or teach it.
I think it's not just empirically the best-supported belief, and not only the argument favoured by the experts: I would argue it's mathematically certain. So I can't stay with you there, RC.
The "greatest scientists of their day," taught that heavier then air human flight was not possible, that anesthesia would not work, that life appeared spontaneously, and that we would all be dead from global warming ten years ago. The day will come when, "the greatest cosmologists of our time," along with all the greatest psychologists, environmentalists, and evolutionists will be looked back on as total fools only a little less absurd than the gullible masses who believed them.
I don't think you'd want to use the failures of past science to argue that science was no good today, would you? I mean, you could try that, but I don't think it's going to get much acceptance.

It's going to be pointed out right away that science was never anything else but a discovery of the highest-probability beliefs, and that it has a kind of self-correcting property that moves us from worse explanations to better ones. It's also going to be pointed out that the only way you're able now to point to things like the mistakes about air flight or anaesthesia is because those are cases that have been corrected, and they would not have been corrected without science.

So you've got an uphill battle on that argument, I would think.
Thank you so much for the link. Handel was a genius. I noticed that the only one's standing during the little concert were the singers. How things have changed.
I think few of today's folks are familiar with the tradition of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. I wish our schools did a better job of teaching these things, but most of them don't. Our postmodern world sees the past as either a wasteland of past mistakes only, or as a garbage dump through which the postmodernist can ransack, in order to assemble his own idiosyncratic montage. Lamentable, but that's how it is.

Merry Christmas Season to you. May you have a roaring fire, and plenty of roast swan, root vegetables and figgy pudding...and not a few friends. :wink:

IC
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

A human individual is a "middle". If the great collective or the Great Beast is considered as God or the highest expression of collective human consciousness then the quality of the individual is below the great beast and actually can be considered an atom of the great Beast. However when God is considered as the ONE described by Plotinus, then the conscious human individual is a middle between the Beast and God.

As we know the seven tone musical scale is a series of notes connected by qualities of vibrations. From this perspective any note within the scale can only be defined by the notes directly above and below it. The note fa cannot be defined without knowledge of the vibrations of both mi and sol directly below and above it.

Human individuality cannot be defined by qualities but can only be defined through the laws of being which are based on knowledge of vibrations. Man as a conscious individual is a middle between the Absolute and the great Beast. The man animal living within the confines of Plato's cave is a middle between the Great Beast and the materiality and essential qualities which comprise the human essence.

An individual defined by society is of a lesser objective quality then the conscious individual defined by the laws of being creating the vertical scale of being.

The Great Beast or society itself is god for the man animal. The Absolute is God for conscious man which realizes its relationship as a middle between both God and the Beast. The conscious middle or the true individual receives quality from above so as to give to below. Obviously such great souls are few and far between on earth but it is our potential to become such great souls.
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders »

Hi again, IC.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am We are coming to a clear understanding of our essential areas of agreement and departure, I think, RC. And I'm not yet sure how to resolve it. Perhaps we will need to move forward in a new direction, and come back to it. I'm not sure.
I'm not sure anything needs to be resolved. We certainly have differences, but I think we agree on what is essential, that human beings must deal with each other honestly and by reason, which I think we do.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am To summarize, our main point of contention is over essence. I tend to think there's more to an entity than the sum of its qualities, and you tend to identify the qualities (all taken together) as close to an "essence" as anything is going to get...but without the essence.
Not exactly. I think "essence," regarded as ontological, is a mistake. Many things have similar qualities, but as individual entities, that similarity, while an ontological fact, does not constitute another ontological fact called, "essence." The recognition, epistemologically, of the similarity in entities is the, "essence," of those entities that are the referents of universal concepts.
Here are some points on which you and I totally agree, I think: ...[/quote]
Good starting place.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am However, I added the following claim:
But now we have two terms: its "nature" and its "qualities." You say they're the same. I don't think they are. I think the qualities tell us what the nature is, but are not that nature.
And you asked:
What is an entity's nature if it is not its qualities?
My answer is: the holistic, integrated entity, of which the "qualities" are only aspects.
If I've understood what you've written in the past, you reject the whole, "emergence," hypothesis, but holism is the basis of that hypothesis.

From: Complexity, Reductionism, and Holism in Science and Philosophy of Science
... holistic approaches of this kind lead to the concept of emergence insofar as, both in the sense of the confirmation holism and also in the sense of semantic holism, it is the system-properties that give us information about the behaviour of the system. These properties are in turn emergent. Emergence says again that it is impossible to use characteristics of elements and the interrelations between these to describe characteristics of ensembles or make predictions about them. The core element of a strong emergence thesis is a nonderivability or non-explainability hypothesis of the system characteristics shaped from the characteristics of the system components.
This seems to me to exactly describe what you are calling holism.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am Look at it this way. Ask the question, "Who is RC?" One quality is that he's male. Another, that he's a biped. Another, that he's English. Another, that he likes classical music and good food. We could go on until we've listed every quality we can identify that corresponds to RC.

But at the end, will we thereby have an RC? Or could I fully understand all of those qualities, and what they entail, and yet because I have never met RC, would have to admit that I did not really know RC?

To me, that's highly plausible. How does it seem to you?
There is a difference between an entitiy's ontological nature and the epistemological identification of that entity. There are two questions to be considered here. The first question is, "what is RC?" As an ontological entity, RC is all his qualities, known or unknown. The second question is the one you asked, "who is RC?" Epistemologically, the identity of any entity are all those qualities of the entity that are known that identify what kind of entity it is and differentiates that entity from all others.

In the case of RC, the kind of entity is a human being and what identifies RC is whatever attributes you know about RC that differentiate him from all other human beings you know with whatever attributes you regard as unique to RC. It is not necessary to have exhaustive knowledge of any individual's attributes to be able to epistemological identify him.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am At one time, I shared your tendency to trust dictionaries.
I can hardly believe you wrote that after all the times I've said I do not rely on any authority for what I think or believe. I certainly don't put any reliance in dictionaries. I only quoted the definition because it said precisely what I mean by a thing's nature, "The set of inherent characteristics or properties that distinguish something." When I quote someone or something I think it is honest to cite the source. I wouldn't have mattered if the description had come from a dictionary or some drunk from the corner bar, it is still correct.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
Since, ontologically every entity is a unique existent there is no ontological essence. Epistemologically, entities with similar qualities can be identified and that similarity is their epistemological essence.
I don't think it's a simple as this, RC.

It is true that every object is -- in some ways -- unique. But it is just as true to say that it is the possessor of those qualities it has in common with other entities...and in that sense, is not utterly unique. And surely a complete account of an objects ontological identity cannot simply exclude all the qualities it has in common with other objects for no reason but that they are common. That wouldn't make sense, and would leave us with only half the qualities of any object to describe.
Nothing is excluded in my definition of an entity's nature. An entity is all its qualities, which necessarily includes any qualities it has that other entities have, but it is only an entity's own qualities that are its own nature as an existent, and it would have that nature and be the existent even if it were the only existent in the universe with those qualities. That, of course, would be impossible.

In my "Ontology Introduction," I wrote:
The axiom of identity, originally stated by Aristotle, is, A is A, or "a thing (or existent) is what it is." But what exactly is a thing's identity? It is one of the most important questions of philosophy. "A is A," is fine, but what exactly is A? A thing certainly is what it is, but what is a thing anyway? There are three corollaries to the axiomatic concept of identity which answer this question. Those corollaries are, the necessity of qualities, the necessity of difference, and the necessity of relationship. By necessity is meant that all three corollaries are true of all existents and there can be no existent of which all three are not true."

Corollary 1: The Necessity of Qualities Anything that exists must have some qualities and those qualities are its identity, that is, what it is.

Corollary 2: The Necessity of Difference Anything that exists must be different in some way from everything else that exists. No two things can be identical. This includes the explanation: "Every existent has some quality or combination of qualities which is different from some quality or combination of qualities of all other existents."

Corollary 3: The Necessity of Relationship Anything that exists must have some relationship to everything else that exists. Nothing can exist that does not have some relationship to everything else that exists. This includes the explanation: This corollary is actually the converse of the previous. It really says that everything that exists must share some quality or qualities with other things that exist. Nothing can be totally unique or isolated.
I've included these notes because there is no way you can guess what I'm thinking if I don't make my thoughts explicit. For example, if you knew these were my ontological views you could not have thought I, "excluded," any of an entities qualities for any reason, especially because they were the same as some other entity's qualities.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
I think this is central to everything else we are discussing. You may not have intended it, but you are confusing the ontological and epistemological. Entities are not, "nouns," and qualities are not, "adjectives." Outside the human mind, there are no nouns or adjectives.
Let me put it more precisely then.

A "noun" is what we use (linguistically) to describe our experience (epistemologically) of an existent (ontologically) person, place, thing or idea. And "adjective" is a descriptor (linguistically) we apply on the basis of qualities we perceive (epistemologically) to adhere to those ontologically real entities.
IC, this just not true. You seem to think nouns are the epistemological equivalent of ontological entities or existents and adjectives are the epistemological equivalent of ontological qualities. Most (probably all) entities are identified by concepts called nouns, but many qualities are also identified as nouns (mass, temperature, force, odors, flavors, etc.). Furthermore, the linguistic function of adjectives is not description. Grammatically adjectives are called, "modifiers," meaning they modify, change, or adjust the usual intention of a noun, e.g. "soft speech," or noun form, e.g. "loud yelling." Nouns may be used as modifiers as well as identifiers of entities, such as, a math teacher, a post-hole digger, or a garbage collector. By the way, I have never run across the word, "descriptor," outside the computer field, usually related to data bases and information storage and retrieval. I'm not saying it's not used in other ways because I suppose it could be.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
an entity is all it's qualities, and nothing else.

And I think that its unitary, holistic reality is greater than the sum of fragmentary epistemological attributions we call "qualities." However, I'm not sure how to resolve our difference of opinion on that, so I'm going to have to keep thinking about how to do that.
I don't think our difference can be resolved. In some sense you think an entity is, "greater," than all of its qualities. I'm not sure what, "greater," can mean in this context, since greater is usually some value of degree or measurement, but I assume you just mean, "more than," an entity's qualities. Our difference is this, if you specify what that, "more" is, it will be, in your view, something that transcends an entity's qualities alone, while to me, whatever that "more" is, it is just another quality of the entity.

It might help if you could give an example of something that in some way is, "more," than just its qualities. It is not necessary to enumerate all of it qualities, I'll understand generalities (e.g. such'n'such kinds of qualities), to illustrate how an entity can be more than its qualities.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
So, when you say, "The 'white' doesn't exist in precisely the same sense as the paper exists...it exists only as an attribution of the paper," it is a mistake. "Exist," only means, "is." Something either is or it isn't. There are different kinds of existents. There are entities, qualities, events, and relationships, but if they exist, they exist.
Existence is itself an on-off property: and yet, types of existence exist. For instance, RC exists -- as a unique human being. The UK exists -- but only as a political and geographical arrangement, not as a thing that could be found ready-made, like RC. Handel's Messiah exists -- as a musical composition that must be played. Unicorns exist -- as one of various mythological beasts in the stock of human lore. The root of 3 exists -- as a mathematical concept....and so on.
There are different modes of existence, the fundamental two modes are ontological existence and epistemological existence. I was speaking only of entities, therefore only ontological existence. The UK, musical compositions, fictions, myths, and mathematics only exist epistemologically.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
In the case of entities and their qualities, neither exists without the other. There are no entities without qualities, and there are no qualities without the entities they are the qualities of. If an enitity exists, its qualities exist.
Still true. But it does not follow from the necessity of both entities and their qualities existing simultaneously that entities are nothing but the sum of their qualities. Like I say, RC -- to meet you would surely be more than to know all your qualities.
I think I see one reason we are seeing this differently. Of course meeting me, just as meeting you, would be more than just encountering my or your attributes we share as human beings. The difference here is the context. I have been assuming the context of entities' ontological nature, what kind of existents entities are. Your context is much broader because it includes everything that can be true about a particular entity.

What I mean by an entity's nature is whatever it is in terms of all its intrinsic qualities and nothing more. Everything else about an entity, its behavior and its relationships are determined and delimited by its nature and are extrinsic. What you and I are as human beings is all those qualities that are our nature, e.g. physical, living, conscious, rational-volitional beings. We are both human beings because we both have the same nature, and it is that nature that determines what kinds of behavior and relationships are possible to us.

While we both have the same intrinsic nature, everything else about us, our history, what we have done and learned, the beliefs we have come to, the characters we have developed, are extrinsic characteristics, not intrinsic qualities. As individual's, all those extrinsic characteristics are certainly part of, "who we are," but they do not define our nature as entities (human beings). I think this is the major difference in our view.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
The reason I do not use the term, "physical," to refer to the ontological is because the physical implies physical attributes only, and I know that life, consciousness, and mind exist ontologically (independent of anyone's consciousness or knowledge of them) but cannot be understood in terms of physical properties.
With this, I must agree.
Good for us!
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am Then perhaps it is of urgent necessity that you coin the right word, RC. There's no law against you doing so. And it has the distinct advantage that if you do this, you will not be mistaken for speaking of either what is conventionally called the "material" or "natural," or to alluding to what has conventionally been called the "supernatural" either. I would say, just choose carefully, with due etymological attention to what you intend to convey, and then make a new word.

Shakespeare did it. Hardy did it. Heck, rappers on the streets of Detroit and Chicago have done it routinely (with less skill, obviously). There's no law against you inventing the right word for your own concept.
That is probably good advice. If we had this discussion twenty or thirty years ago I might have attempted coining and defining my own word for material or natural existence in my view. I'll still consider it, but I'm reminded of something Oscar Wilde said about good advice, "I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself." In this case, however, I'll keep and consider it.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
Briefly, consciousness is an attribute (quality) only possible to living organisms found only in the more complex animals. Consciousness is the direct perception of those aspects of physical existence which can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted.
Hmmm...not good enough as a definition, I think.

Much of which we are conscious is not unambiguously the product of sense. Concepts, for example. Or the "self," which we seem to feel we all know: it has no smell, touch, taste or colour. If it can be "felt," it is not in a physical way. Emotions are perhaps sometimes products of the physical, but sometimes appear unbidden.
I'm assuming by, "sense," you mean what I mean by perception: seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting, and interoception (our direct consciousness of our physical/biological states). I know you will not agree but I want to explain what I mean. We are only conscious of concepts by means of perceivable words (written and signed, i.e. seen, or spoken, i.e. heard) which are the symbols for concepts. Our, "self," is our consciousness, but we cannot perceive our consciousness (we cannot see, hear, feel, smell, or taste it), we know our consciousness because we are conscious. The emotions are physiological reactions to our conscious perception, thoughts, beliefs, values, and intentions and therefor are percepts of the physical body. I have no idea what an, "unbidden," feeling means. Some people have inexplicable feelings because they are so out of touch with their own thoughts, beliefs, and values, but, except for those feelings caused by hormonal imbalances (such as women experience during menopause) or other physiological problems mistaken for emotions, the emotions all have explanations. I'm not making an argument here, only explaining why I do not agree conscious experience is of anything other than the physical, because there is nothing else to be directly conscious of.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am I don't think you'd want to use the failures of past science to argue that science was no good today, would you? I mean, you could try that, but I don't think it's going to get much acceptance.
It certainly won't get much acceptance. We are living in the age of gullibility and paranoia. The world of politics is in the business of keeping people perpetually terrified and looking to their political saviors to save them from imminent environmental, economic, health, and terrorist disaster, and the pseudo-scientific quacks are busy, "scientifically proving," the political lies. Anything and everything can be put over today in the name of, "science." I doubt if, for every thousand so-called scientists, more than one is a legitimate scientist.

The real scientists of history have always been the mavericks, always rejected in their own day, just because they were the ones going against the popular view of the, "greatest scientists of their day." Most of their discoveries were condemned when they made them, and the only reason their discoveries were finally accepted was not because better science came along, but because they were right and the fact that the principles they discovered worked was impossible to resist.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am It's going to be pointed out right away that science was never anything else but a discovery of the highest-probability beliefs, and that it has a kind of self-correcting property that moves us from worse explanations to better ones. It's also going to be pointed out that the only way you're able now to point to things like the mistakes about air flight or anaesthesia is because those are cases that have been corrected, and they would not have been corrected without science.
You are right. That's exactly the kind of malarky the pseudo-scientists and their psychophants promote, because it makes it possible for them hoodwink the gullible public into believing anything they say. If you really think anasthesia, the bacterial cause of infection, heavier than air flight, and the nature of electromagnetism were accepted because of better science, I think you are unaware of the history. Nothing the scientists discovered had to be improved by better science. Their success was do entirely to the fact that a few brave individuals who understood the discoveries of the real scientists, in defiance of the, "best scientists and academic opinions of their day," began to implement that knowledge in their work and technology, and their success made the science behind their work irrefutable.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
Thank you so much for the link. Handel was a genius. I noticed that the only one's standing during the little concert were the singers. How things have changed.
I think few of today's folks are familiar with the tradition of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. I wish our schools did a better job of teaching these things, but most of them don't. Our postmodern world sees the past as either a wasteland of past mistakes only, or as a garbage dump through which the postmodernist can ransack, in order to assemble his own idiosyncratic montage. Lamentable, but that's how it is.
So much has been lost. While I do not agree with much religious sentiment, the irrational hatred self-described atheists, cultural Marxists, and postmodernists have for religion, especially Christianity, and all that came from it has deprived the world of so much. Charlene and I have been listening to one of our favorite operas, Giacomo Meyerbeer's, "Les Huguenots," (Gli Ugonotti) with the glorious Joan Sutherland and Franco Corelli. The opera uses Luther's, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," throughout as a major theme. Almost every great composer used that great hymn, even Wagner and Debussy, in their own compositions. It is that kind of real value the nihilists would deprive the world of.

Merry Christmas with all that means to you and yours!

RC
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

Hail fellow well met:

'Tis the season to be jolly. I trust some jolliness is beginning for you, too. :)
RCSaunders wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:15 pm I'm not sure anything needs to be resolved. We certainly have differences, but I think we agree on what is essential, that human beings must deal with each other honestly and by reason, which I think we do.
Indeed so.

Good thinking is like a bottle of vintage red wine...best shared with friends and conversation, and really just not as good alone.
If I've understood what you've written in the past, you reject the whole, "emergence," hypothesis, but holism is the basis of that hypothesis.

I do reject the emergence explanation of consciousness. I don't think it can be made coherent at all.

However, it does not follow that because holism is required as one of various foundation stones of the emergence hypothesis, that holism itself is wrong. The emergence hypothesis also requires causality as one of its foundation stones...but we would not therefore argue that causality was an illusion, would we? Another would be realism about the physical world; but you and I are not Berkeleyan Idealists, are we? Of course not.

The fault in the emergence hypothesis, I would suggest is not from its holism but from at least two other of its foundation stones: Materialism and Progressive Evolutionism. The former gratuitously reduces consciousness to an inexplicable emergent of materials, and the latter tries in vain to propose progressive processes by which such an emergence can happen. And I think both fail miserably.

But not so for causality, and not so for realism; and not so for holism.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am Look at it this way. Ask the question, "Who is RC?" One quality is that he's male. Another, that he's a biped. Another, that he's English. Another, that he likes classical music and good food. We could go on until we've listed every quality we can identify that corresponds to RC.

But at the end, will we thereby have an RC? Or could I fully understand all of those qualities, and what they entail, and yet because I have never met RC, would have to admit that I did not really know RC?

To me, that's highly plausible. How does it seem to you?
There is a difference between an entitiy's ontological nature and the epistemological identification of that entity.
Yes, and I'm not talking about epistemology. So lets rule that out.

I'm only going so far as to say, is there a difference between saying, "I have encountered all the qualities one might attribute to RC, and "I have encountered RC."

Now, I realize you want to say, "Yes, but I mean ALL the qualities of RC, so I'm still the sum of my qualities." I say so, because you wrote:

Nothing is excluded in my definition of an entity's nature. An entity is all its qualities, which necessarily includes any qualities it has that other entities have, but it is only an entity's own qualities that are its own nature as an existent, and it would have that nature and be the existent even if it were the only existent in the universe with those qualities. That, of course, would be impossible.

And I see that way of putting it.

But I still have a strong intuitive feel that something's missing there. In some ways, to say that an entity is merely the sum of its qualities is reductional. But I'm not sure I can impart such an intuition, and at the moment I perhaps lack the analogy or linguistic terms to make that concrete for you, so there I have to pause.

I will keep working on a way to say what I'm thinking. I just don't quite have a grip on how to do that yet...
... if you knew these were my ontological views you could not have thought I, "excluded," any of an entities qualities for any reason, especially because they were the same as some other entity's qualities.
Fair enough. The misunderstanding was mine.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am
I think this is central to everything else we are discussing. You may not have intended it, but you are confusing the ontological and epistemological. Entities are not, "nouns," and qualities are not, "adjectives." Outside the human mind, there are no nouns or adjectives.
Let me put it more precisely then.

A "noun" is what we use (linguistically) to describe our experience (epistemologically) of an existent (ontologically) person, place, thing or idea. And "adjective" is a descriptor (linguistically) we apply on the basis of qualities we perceive (epistemologically) to adhere to those ontologically real entities.
IC, this just not true. You seem to think nouns are the epistemological equivalent of ontological entities or existents and adjectives are the epistemological equivalent of ontological qualities.
Woah, woah. Halt. I did not say that.

I said nouns are linguistic markers, not that they are epistemological experiences, and not that they are ontological entities, and not that they are equivalent.

Nothing is "equivalent" in those three levels. At the linguistic level, what we say is a human response to an experience. The experience is an epistemological response to the presence of an ontological entity. But at each of those three levels, we're getting more removed from the thing-in-itself. They're not at all equal, or even fully equivalent. Just as the epistemological level is but an existential perception, and a very one-sided one, of the ontologically real, so too the linguistic is but a mere human attempt to frame in symbolic terms the existential perception, which is itself but a single-sided, percipient-dependent, perspectival experience stimulated by the ontologically real.

In other words, the three are connected, but not by way of equality, and not by way of human infallibility either.
I don't think our difference can be resolved. In some sense you think an entity is, "greater," than all of its qualities. I'm not sure what, "greater," can mean in this context, since greater is usually some value of degree or measurement, but I assume you just mean, "more than," an entity's qualities. Our difference is this, if you specify what that, "more" is, it will be, in your view, something that transcends an entity's qualities alone, while to me, whatever that "more" is, it is just another quality of the entity.
That captures our relative positions well. And as I say, I'll need to keep working on the next way to approach the difference. I don' have it in mind at the moment...things are still too fuzzy and intuitive. I have to (so to speak) "get it out of the back of my brain and into the front" before I can explain it another way.
It might help if you could give an example of something that in some way is, "more," than just its qualities. It is not necessary to enumerate all of it qualities, I'll understand generalities (e.g. such'n'such kinds of qualities), to illustrate how an entity can be more than its qualities.
That's what I was hoping to do with my example of encountering RC. But I see it left residual doubts, so I'll need to come at it another way, as I say.
There are different modes of existence,
Yep.
I think I see one reason we are seeing this differently. Of course meeting me, just as meeting you, would be more than just encountering my or your attributes we share as human beings. The difference here is the context. I have been assuming the context of entities' ontological nature, what kind of existents entities are. Your context is much broader because it includes everything that can be true about a particular entity.
Oh. Interesting!

Yes, I think you're right. But I think there's an additional difference, and maybe this gives us a new way to think about it. For me, the "ontological" is grounded the mind of God. God alone has the "God's-eye" perspective that apprehends all aspects of a thing at once: thus His judgment of what a thing ontologically is, is final. So though my human, epistemological experience of reality is at least somewhat perspectival and personal, and thus not ultimate or comprehensive, the idea of ontological completeness is not thereby threatened, for me. I can say that I do not know things-in-themselves; but I believe God does, and that His "perspective," if it can be called that, is right, determinative and ultimate.

However, (and here I must beg your tolerance), it seems to me that if the only perspectives available were human ones, then the ontological is threatened. For there is NO ONE who knows the ontological truth of things, or sees them holistically, or knows their ultimate reality. Under those conditions, we may still say this much of epistemology -- that perhaps it is derived from objective reality, from the ontological, but it is not reliably reflective of that ontological reality, and neither is anyone else's. :shock:

That looks like a massive difference to me. For in that case, the ontologically real (or the holistic, if you like) is permanently inaccessible under any conditions. If it exists, it only exists as permanently unknowable (that is, as knowable only partially, and as unknowable in an ultimate way, at least), and also knowable only in association with particular qualities. Since epistemology is only capable of attending to things by their particular qualities, this would follow.

And if that's right, then the problem in our communication is that we are indeed speaking of "different worlds," in the sense that mine contains an ultimate Guarantor of the ontologically real, and yours would not. I would not dare to say that your world was therefore unreal; for your world would still potentially have an ontological reality behind it, but we human beings would not have any secure or comprehensive access to it. And apart from we human beings, there would be no speaking of the ontologically real at all. So our perspectives would be as much as we can know, or as anyone can.

Is that fair? I'm sure I must have misspoken in there somewhere, so feel welcome to pull apart that characterization and reword it as you feel it ought to be put. But have I perhaps got at least one finger on something that rings true with you?
That is probably good advice. If we had this discussion twenty or thirty years ago I might have attempted coining and defining my own word for material or natural existence in my view. I'll still consider it, but I'm reminded of something Oscar Wilde said about good advice, "I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself." In this case, however, I'll keep and consider it.
Wilde was a wilde one. I used to have a collection of his witticisms, but I think I gave it away some years ago. Still, I remember a few. One was, "Women can discover anything but the obvious." Another was "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is, not being talked about." If I recall, that last one also featured in Monty Python.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am I don't think you'd want to use the failures of past science to argue that science was no good today, would you? I mean, you could try that, but I don't think it's going to get much acceptance.
It certainly won't get much acceptance. We are living in the age of gullibility and paranoia.
True, no doubt. And knowing that gives us reason for caution, for sure. But you have to admit that it does not follow from the fact that science has made mistakes before that it must always do so, on every issue. That would be like arguing that since a boy fell off his bike three times yesterday, while trying to learn to ride, that he will fall off it three more times every day.

Not if he learns from his mistakes, he won't.
Their success was do entirely to the fact that a few brave individuals who understood the discoveries of the real scientists, in defiance of the, "best scientists and academic opinions of their day," began to implement that knowledge in their work and technology, and their success made the science behind their work irrefutable.
This has certainly been sometimes true. But not always, and not generally in defiance of science.

Take heavier than air flight, for example. It is true that the Wright brothers were more engineers than theoreticians; but they had the benefit of a lot of scientific background with which to work -- some, to be sure, from the practical, technical failures of others (often fatal), but also of an increasing scientific understanding of aerodynamics, which led them to assume that lift could be achieved by speeding currents of air above a slower "cushion" of air, by having a wing with a shorter underside length than topside length...with some propulsion, of course.

These previous scientific findings put these "technicians" within striking distance of their objective: and without those scientific precursors, the Wright brothers might well have ended up as just another failed practical try, with bloodspots to mark the failure.

I'm suggesting it's not either we trust the theoreticians or the engineers, but rather, that we should take both seriously...and I think that any good science does.
Charlene and I have been listening to one of our favorite operas, Giacomo Meyerbeer's, "Les Huguenots," (Gli Ugonotti) with the glorious Joan Sutherland and Franco Corelli. The opera uses Luther's, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," throughout as a major theme. Almost every great composer used that great hymn, even Wagner and Debussy, in their own compositions. It is that kind of real value the nihilists would deprive the world of.
Speaking of Corelli (Archangelo, not Franco :D) I love his "Concerto Grosso No. 8 in G minor," the famous "Christmas Concerto." Years ago, somebody gave me an old cassette tape of Karl Munchinger and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and the performance still delights me.
Merry Christmas with all that means to you and yours!
And to you and Charlene, of course.

IC
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders »

Hi again, my friend. Hope you are having as blessed Christmas eve and Christmas day as I am.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm 'Tis the season to be jolly. ...
It is certainly the season to be busy, trying to combine cooking, research, and writing into the same time I'd usually use for only one. I'm not complaining because it is actually what I love and enjoy about living. So, I'll take a breath and attempt a small response to some of your interesting comments.
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We're not going to agree on the concept of holism which, to me, has all the same problems as emergence. Emergence does not only pertain to evolution and consciousness, but to life itself, as well as the mind, and everything else that can be viewed as, "a whole being greater than the sum of its parts," usually contrasted with, "reductionism." Often a misapplication of synergistic phenomena is invoked as an explanation.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm But I still have a strong intuitive feel that something's missing there. In some ways, to say that an entity is merely the sum of its qualities is reductional. But I'm not sure I can impart such an intuition, and at the moment I perhaps lack the analogy or linguistic terms to make that concrete for you, so there I have to pause.

I will keep working on a way to say what I'm thinking. I just don't quite have a grip on how to do that yet...
You might be surprised to know I understand your, "strong intuitive feel," that something is "missing" from the view that an entity is its qualities and nothing more. It was, I believe, the same kind of sense that, "there has to be something more," that led scientist to assume the existence of luminiferous aether to explain the propagation of electromagnetic waves, especially after the wave nature of light was discovered. After all, if light was waves, it has to be waves of something. Of course physics has abandoned the idea of aether today, but the, "feeling," that there ought to be something to modulate for there to be waves is easy to understand.

I think something similar is behind that sense that a thing must be more than just its qualities. I think it is a mistake, but I can certainly understand it. One reason we're bound to differ on this is because I believe feelings are non-cognitive and that the only source of knowledge is reason based on the evidence of our consciousness--that's both what we are conscious of and the fact we are conscious.
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Now I have question about the following, because I really do not understand what you are saying. You are responding to my statement: "You seem to think nouns are the epistemological equivalent of ontological entities or existents and adjectives are the epistemological equivalent of ontological qualities."
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm Nothing is "equivalent" in those three levels. At the linguistic level, what we say is a human response to an experience. The experience is an epistemological response to the presence of an ontological entity. But at each of those three levels, we're getting more removed from the thing-in-itself. They're not at all equal, or even fully equivalent. Just as the epistemological level is but an existential perception, and a very one-sided one, of the ontologically real, so too the linguistic is but a mere human attempt to frame in symbolic terms the existential perception, which is itself but a single-sided, percipient-dependent, perspectival experience stimulated by the ontologically real.

In other words, the three are connected, but not by way of equality, and not by way of human infallibility either.
I have no idea what, "three levels," you are talking about, or what an, "epistemological response to the presence of an ontological entity," is. And this phrase totally bewilders me, "single-sided, percipient-dependent, perspectival experience ...." Please do not be offended but it sounds like what I call, "academic-speak." Perhaps Twain's law of adjectives would help, "when in doubt, strike it out."
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm
I don't think our difference can be resolved. In some sense you think an entity is, "greater," than all of its qualities. I'm not sure what, "greater," can mean in this context, since greater is usually some value of degree or measurement, but I assume you just mean, "more than," an entity's qualities. Our difference is this, if you specify what that, "more" is, it will be, in your view, something that transcends an entity's qualities alone, while to me, whatever that "more" is, it is just another quality of the entity.
That captures our relative positions well. And as I say, I'll need to keep working on the next way to approach the difference. I don' have it in mind at the moment...things are still too fuzzy and intuitive. I have to (so to speak) "get it out of the back of my brain and into the front" before I can explain it another way.
I think what I wrote above at least recognizes your view of, "something more." I don't think we can possibly come to agreement on it, or need to, but if there is more you think I need to understand or consider, feel free to enlighten or regale me.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm
I think I see one reason we are seeing this differently. Of course meeting me, just as meeting you, would be more than just encountering my or your attributes we share as human beings. The difference here is the context. I have been assuming the context of entities' ontological nature, what kind of existents entities are. Your context is much broader because it includes everything that can be true about a particular entity.
Oh. Interesting!

Yes, I think you're right. But I think there's an additional difference, and maybe this gives us a new way to think about it. For me, the "ontological" is grounded the mind of God. God alone has the "God's-eye" perspective that apprehends all aspects of a thing at once: thus His judgment of what a thing ontologically is, is final.
That's interesting too. It's a kind of, "Devine idealism," isn't it?

The problem with statements like, "the 'ontological' is grounded the mind of God," is the use of words which have a very definite meaning for me, with regard to human beings, but apart form them, mean nothing at all to me. An organism has "life" as an attribute, but there is no, "life," independent of living organisms. The more complex organisms have "consciousness" as an attribute, bit there is no "consciousness" independent of the conscious animals. A human being has "mind" as an attribute, but there is no "mind" independent of human beings. To attribute "life" to that which is not living is called, "animism." To attribute "consciousness" to that which is not conscious, e.g. idols, the earth, trees, etc. is a kind of spiritism. To attribute human attributes, such as "mind," to anything other than human beings is called anthropomorphism. The only meaning, "mind," has to me is a human mind, otherwise it has no meaning at all to me. I know others believe in such things, but to me there is no disembodied life, consciousness, or mind.

Now you can make your arguments based on any words you like, but if you are going to used a word like, "mind," and you want me to understand what you are talking about, you are going to have to explain what it means. The only kind of minds I know are those that know only what they have learned, and to learn had to choose to learn, and to choose they had to be capable making wrong choices as well as right ones, else there is no choice.

The problem is very simple to me. If a mind already knew everything, it could never learn anything new, which means it could never have a new experience, which means it could never do anything new (which would be a new experience) or make choice, which would mean changing what it thinks, because if it already thought it, there would be no choice or change. Essentially, an omniscient mind cannot be a volitional mind.

To use a term you like, the concept of omniscience is, "incoherent." I'm not arguing with your view here, only explaining mine and why I could never agree with it. Perhaps you have some way of looking at these same things that you are willing to accept I simply am not. I think your view of, "faith," and your view that some, "feelings," (intuition, inspiration, enlightenment, perhaps) are a sound basis for knowledge are the points at which we can never agree.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm ... And if that's right, then the problem in our communication is that we are indeed speaking of "different worlds," in the sense that mine contains an ultimate Guarantor of the ontologically real, and yours would not.
That's right, we are speaking of, "different worlds," but for me the case is the opposite of your view. In spite of your, "Guarantor," you believe you cannot have any certain knowledge of reality, that it is, at best, as you have put it, only statistically likely. I know I have certain knowledge of reality and its nature. I need neither omniscience or infallibility to have that certainty. I do not need to know everything to be certain I know something. I do not need to be infallible to be certain I'm not mistaken about everything. Reality is exactly what it is, exactly as I directly perceive it and all my knowledge is about that, because there is nothing else to know.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm I would not dare to say that your world was therefore unreal; for your world would still potentially have an ontological reality behind it, but we human beings would not have any secure or comprehensive access to it. And apart from we human beings, there would be no speaking of the ontologically real at all. So our perspectives would be as much as we can know, or as anyone can.

Is that fair? I'm sure I must have misspoken in there somewhere, so feel welcome to pull apart that characterization and reword it as you feel it ought to be put. But have I perhaps got at least one finger on something that rings true with you?
I do not think you have misspoken. I think you have stated your view very well, but since, as you say, we are talking about different worlds, except for the fact we are both living in it, the world I see is the only real one and is exactly as it appears to be, while the world you see is not quite real and is filled with unseen and unfathomable things and events which you think are more real than this world we are living in. Is that fair?
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:32 am I don't think you'd want to use the failures of past science to argue that science was no good today, would you? I mean, you could try that, but I don't think it's going to get much acceptance.
It certainly won't get much acceptance. We are living in the age of gullibility and paranoia.
True, no doubt. And knowing that gives us reason for caution, for sure. But you have to admit that it does not follow from the fact that science has made mistakes before that it must always do so, on every issue.
...
I'm suggesting it's not either we trust the theoreticians or the engineers, but rather, that we should take both seriously...and I think that any good science does.
I never said science has made mistakes. What I am saying is that most of what goes by the name science to day isn't science. Half of it is sheer quackery and bunkum that uses some scientific methods (and lots of scientific jargon) to put over ideas that cannot be examined and for which there is no evidence whatsoever, and the rest is filled with those who promote hypotheses that are little more than suppositions or guesses. There is still some science being done, but precious little of what is called science today even comes close to the rigorous scientific research of the past that discovered the fundamental principles of mechanics, electricity, the nature of the chemical elements, the fundamentals of biology and medicine.

The few real advances in what is called science today are actually technological advances based on already established scientific principles discovered by real scientists. That is the only scientific authority I accept. I do not need to trust in authority, simply explain the principles and demonstrate how it works and I don't need to take anyone's word for it, because I can see and understand it for myself, just as any reasonably intelligent person can who chooses to make the effort.

Well I have to get back to work. Once again, have a wonderful and enjoyable Noel.

RC
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:34 pm Hi again, my friend. Hope you are having as blessed Christmas eve and Christmas day as I am.
Had a great one, thank you. Glad to hear yours went well.
We're not going to agree on the concept of holism which, to me, has all the same problems as emergence.
I don't think it does. "Emergence" is a supplementary quality supposed to "leap out of" a certain stage of evolutionary development. That's really hokey. But holism is not like that, because everything that has holistic integrity has it all the time...or, as you would say, has it none of the time. Either way, it's not like "emergence."
You might be surprised to know I understand your, "strong intuitive feel," that something is "missing" from the view that an entity is its qualities and nothing more. It was, I believe, the same kind of sense that, "there has to be something more," that led scientist to assume the existence of luminiferous aether to explain the propagation of electromagnetic waves, especially after the wave nature of light was discovered.

I fear that's a rather unfair analogy. I might as easily say, "the strong intuitive feel" that the Earth was round, or that new lands existed to the West, or that the Earth went around the Sun, led to the "propagation" of the view that all these things were true. Which they were, of course.

So the analogy is question-begging here, at best; and at worst, a little slanted against holism.

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Now I have question about the following...I have no idea what, "three levels," you are talking about,
Ontology, epistemology, linguistics.
...or what an, "epistemological response to the presence of an ontological entity," is.
Let's put it in a little story.

You're walking down an alley. Suddenly, a black shape launches itself at you. Your surprise elicits a response in verbal form.

The ontological fact: in reality, there is a wolf attacking you. Epistemologically, though, you think it's your neighbour's big dog. Linguistically, you yell "Down, boy." Now, the ontological fact is that you are going to eaten. The epistemological perspective you hold, though, is that your bloody neighbour has let his Alsatian off the chain again. And your linguistic response, though sponsored by the ontological facts of being attacked and the epistemological interpretation you have that tells you this is your neighbour's dog, leads you to the absurd act of addressing a wolf in English.

Ontology is not epistemology. Epistemology is not linguistics. Linguistics is not ontology. But in the analogy, all three are still related. Without the ontological fact of the wolf, there would be no epistemological belief in your mind that your neighbour had let his dog out, and you would not utter any linguistic response.

So the ontology causes the epistemology which causes the linguistics. But they are not identical, nor equal in any sense.
Yes, I think you're right. But I think there's an additional difference, and maybe this gives us a new way to think about it. For me, the "ontological" is grounded the mind of God. God alone has the "God's-eye" perspective that apprehends all aspects of a thing at once: thus His judgment of what a thing ontologically is, is final.
That's interesting too. It's a kind of, "Devine idealism," isn't it?
No, not that. An "Idealism" would hold that the world is not real, but is simply composed of ideas. The world is real, and I'm not questioning its ontological integrity, or something like that. No, all I'm saying is that for me, as a human being, my epistemology is always somewhat flawed and imperfect: I see the chair, but only one side of it, at one time. I don't know the chair as it is, in its totality -- I don't perceive the utter and complete truth about its reality. I see it as a bunch of brown lines.

However, God is not limited to that sort of epistemology. He can know the complete truth about the reality of the chair...He can see it from all sides, in all dimensions, all at once. Thus, His assessment about it will be correct, no matter how flawed mine is. There is a reality outside of the partial "reality" I see..reality as it is in the mind of God.

So the physical world is real (which Idealism would deny), but the only perfect interpretation of that reality is the kind that God can have. Human epistemology is inevitably partial, perspectival, flawed, and probabilistic in the sense that we can never be more than "probably" sure we've got a grasp on what we're seeing.

In a sense, Kant was right: we humans have no perfect grasp of reality, but everything is mediated to us through our senses, and interpreted to us by our perceiving, reasoning and cognitions. But God would know the thing as-it-is, in its full reality.
...there is no "mind" independent of human beings.
I think this has to be a very problematic claim. Human beings did not create themselves, even by evolutionary account. So from whence came this quality we call "mind"? We have said it did not simply "emerge" at some stage of material development, so how has it come about that humans have mind at all?

We have, in fact, no reason at all to suppose that mind is confined to human beings...particularly if it should turn out to be the case that God exists. In such a case, God would be the Mind par excellence, and we would be but shadowy copies or products of that great Mind.
Now you can make your arguments based on any words you like, but if you are going to used a word like, "mind," and you want me to understand what you are talking about, you are going to have to explain what it means.
Well, quite simply, you and I are two minds talking right now. We are not bodily present to each other at all. We are two entities doing a thing called "communicating" and doing it by means of symbols. That's a mind-activity.
Essentially, an omniscient mind cannot be a volitional mind.
I see no reason at all to think that's so. In fact, I would suggest that an omniscient Mind is the most ready explanation for our own volition.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:35 pm ... And if that's right, then the problem in our communication is that we are indeed speaking of "different worlds," in the sense that mine contains an ultimate Guarantor of the ontologically real, and yours would not.
That's right, we are speaking of, "different worlds," but for me the case is the opposite of your view. In spite of your, "Guarantor," you believe you cannot have any certain knowledge of reality, that it is, at best, as you have put it, only statistically likely. I know I have certain knowledge of reality and its nature.
Oh, I think that's manifestly untrue. You aren't really certain of anything...unless I am, by accident, speaking to God. You're certainly not warranted in your assertion of certainty, if you're still human. For all humans are merely local to their physical and geographical location, and to the time in which they are found. We are not omniscient: and omniscience is the sine qua non of true and absolute certainty.

I think what you must mean is that you feel certain. Which might be true, but might not be warranted.
Reality is exactly what it is, exactly as I directly perceive it and all my knowledge is about that, because there is nothing else to know.
Not so. Remember the wolf? In my story, you're momentarily convinced it's a dog. That's not at all unlikely: because how many wolves go around attacking people? So even though you are there and having an experience, you're not warranted in any "certainty" you experience then.
I do not think you have misspoken. I think you have stated your view very well, but since, as you say, we are talking about different worlds, except for the fact we are both living in it, the world I see is the only real one and is exactly as it appears to be, while the world you see is not quite real and is filled with unseen and unfathomable things and events which you think are more real than this world we are living in. Is that fair?
Well, I do not say the world is not real. I say it IS real, but you don't know all about that world with certainty. You know it only from your perspective, and only partially. And I do not suggest that the world is filled with "unseen and unfathomable things and events," merely that the things and events that do happen in this real world are not infallibly converted into true and certain knowledge for us. There is an error factor in our perceiving. Sometimes it's closer to right, and sometimes it's wildly wrong. But it's never a simple matter of seeing things perfectly: we just cannot do that.
I never said science has made mistakes.

Well, it has.
The few real advances in what is called science today are actually technological advances based on already established scientific principles discovered by real scientists. That is the only scientific authority I accept. I do not need to trust in authority, simply explain the principles and demonstrate how it works and I don't need to take anyone's word for it, because I can see and understand it for myself, just as any reasonably intelligent person can who chooses to make the effort.
I don't think this amounts to a greater claim than that we should ask our scientists to be rigorous and honest -- and with that, I have to agree.

Have a happy new year, RC.
Last edited by Immanuel Can on Fri Dec 27, 2019 7:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A »

Plato introduced me to the idea of the Beast which is society itself. It is a living organism Simone Weil elaborated on using the name “The Great Beast.” Both stressed the importance of recognizing the value of the individual with the potential for human consciousness within the lesser value of the Beast which is animal devoid of human consciousness.

Is the relationship between society and the individual related to the concept of Emergent Norm theory?

https://www.thoughtco.com/emergent-norm-theory-3026305
The Four Forms of Behavior

Researchers think that emergent norm theory occurs in four forms. While sociologists classify the forms differently, the most common forms are crowd, public, mass, and social movements.

It would seem from this perspective that the whole is one level while the individual which can emerge or evolve from it is another level of reality. Human Consciousness is what defines the individual. The Beast is defined by its restriction to animal reactive consciousness

From a universal perspective we can contemplate the relationship between a galaxy (the whole) and suns (parts)

Is there a lawful emergent relationship that allows suns to emerge from the wholeness of a galaxy? I know this as involution or the lawful universal process of unity devolving into diversity at distinct levels of reality.

From an ordinary worldly perspective we can admit that a crowd is not the same as a group of individuals. Their quantity my be the same but their quality is not. The potentials for a crowd is one thing while the potentials for an individual is another. The value for our species is that the conscious individual with help from above can emerge from the animal reactions defining the collective. Of course this is why the individual must be hated. It threatens the life of the crowd. Once a person experiences levels of reality, the relationship between the Great Beast and the conscious human individual becomes clear. We can be in the world as an atom of the Beast but not of it. Objective individuality is not defined by the world but rather our connection with what has created the world
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