Ontological Silliness

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Ontological Silliness

In keeping with other discussions about the supernatural, I'd like to beat what appears to be a dead horse just a little longer. The slightly different angle with this one is this "existence" debate.

If gods (or sprites or ghosts) exist, they must exist in some other way than people (or turtles or chairs) do. Thus, the existence of a god is a bit of a silly debate, with a ready conclusion: a god does not exist -- at least as other things exist. Gods would require a special type of existence in order for us to say that such a non-thing "exists".

Now, is that special pleading, or equivocation? I'm stumped at exactly what error is being made, here, when a claim of "this here god exists" is presented.

I mean, if you were going to be straightforward with people, you'd have to have a disclaimer on "existence". It's weaselly from the get-go! Picking a special god doesn't make it any different: "Does God exist?" seems to mean, "If we can bend the rules of existence way out of wack, can I introduce the possibility of an impossible creature?"

And by that time, a thoughtful debater will be stuck with the mechanics of how insane the whole conversation is. Because yes, if we can change the rules, then the rules don't have to apply, and we can get anything we can imagine.

But does that give us anything resembling a reliable ontology? Of course not! It's dead in the water. So could a god exist? The problem is that anything we label as a god still cannot exist in any way that anyone uses the word exist. That's not a strictly semantic argument, either. If you want to know whether something exists, then there should at least be some parameters around what existence means. You have to have some kind of language to work with, after all.

So do gods exist? No, not unless we change the use of the word "exist" completely.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I was not

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I was not trying to distinguish this man from other men per se.  Rather I was suggesting that pharaohs were believed to be gods--nothing more. For arguments sake, I was supposing that if they were indeed gods would this not make them knowable? Otherwise, it is really not a matter of defining gods but a limit of empirical observation.

In our current context, given that we've seen them as skeletons, I'd have to say they're not gods (or were not gods). Yes, they were believed to be gods, but we might have to make the call that the people who revered them as gods were wrong. That wouldn't be addressing empirical observation, that would be addressing belief directly.

We're deep in equivocation territory, though. If those men were gods (and also men) then we have an example of a god that is entirely physical, yes. I'm not going to tell you the pharoes didn't exist. I believe they did. Their bones are good evidence of that. Does that really cover all the gods we could discuss? No, because of your following examples:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

The distinction is a practical one in that no one is seriously supposing Inspector Gadget, Bob Dobbs, the Fly Spaghetti Monster, or an Invisible Pink Unicorns as gods yet others do suppose Yahweh, Allah, and Vishnu as gods.

Granted, those are fictional characters, and recognized as such. But the problem distinguishing between god and myth seems to be a matter of time period you live in. Zeus is no longer revered, so he's not "real". It appears, again, that we're discussing a kind of social belief, rather than a belief based on experience or empiricism.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

But Bob has lots of options when doing his laundry that you can suggest. How would you suggest God do his laundry?

I suppose a god could use its divine washing machine or its divine washboard to do its divine laundry. At the end of the day, it is tired and kicks up in its divine Lazyboy and watches the Cowboys play football. Smiling

Well exactly. The "divine" modifier is required for anything that a god does, because there's no way for a god to do anything in a way that we could understand.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Not all gods are the same and I think it would be a hasty generalization to say so. Strictly speaking, if a god was strictly transcendent and we are bound only what we can know through our senses, then yes, we could not describe such a deity.

Okay, by "strictly transcendant", you mean to say "empirically unknowable", do you? Can I safely extrapolate that such a being can never be known? I don't want to put words in your mouth, but that appears to be what you're saying.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But per this conversation, I think I have touched on a couple of ways that one might know--the possibility that humans have knowledge apart from what one can know empirically or the possibility that a deity makes itself known through empirical means.

Both of those possibilities are what we're trying to get at, yes. In the former, you'd have to convince me that other knowledge is comparable in quality to that achieved through an empirical process, and in the latter -- where it seems that we could make a hypothesis and accept evidence -- you would have to suggest what we were looking for.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

If there is no union categorically between "godness" and "humaness" I would say there is no way to empirically know about gods, but this is not true in all cases.

Okay. It's the cases where there is a union categorically that we should cover now. I can't think of any examples, though. I don't mean to make you do the heavy lifting, but I honestly can't think of an example. The god-man above looks more like an argument from public opinion than an actual example of overlap.

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HisWillness wrote:The idea

HisWillness wrote:

The idea of emergent properties is what I was stabbing at, so when you say the material involved in the emergence is not as important as the result, I get all confused. That might be my putting words in your mouth, though.

Er... yes, you might be. Sticking out tongue

Forget emergent properties altogether, you can safely assume I think emergentism is an awkwardly contrived waste of paper for the duration of this discussion. The essential properties of matter are terribly, tragically underrated in such thinking.

 

HisWillness wrote:

It's difficult for me to grasp the idea of mind outside of a biological context, but this type of mechinism would operate differently than a biological mind anyway.

I'm debating that point. No it wouldn't, doesn't, operate in a manner dfferent to the minds of biological entities. I'd ask you to scrap the supervenience model and consider the essential attributes of matter as a complete description of intellect. Answering your second question we would judge sentience as comparative to a fundamentally different model of mind and its relationship to biology.


HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:

But we don't formally know the universe is ordered in time, in fact we are quite formally aware that it bucks such an arrangement, and hard.

In what context is the time-ordered universe disagreeable? I'm not sure I know which arrangement is being bucked, here.

In the context of relativity "the universe" is not ordered in time, evidently it is only perception which is ordered this way as a proportion of c.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:
Assume the analogue is a structure of psychology and model reality wrt the logic gate or, preferably, wrt the known physical parameters of the logic gate; as we might with a detector instead of a 'human'.

I thought we had to do that anyway, and that was part of our process of eliminating bias.

Fair statement. What I mean, I guess, by the emphasis, is that there is this one more bias to remove which is probably the most pervading, subtle bias we'll have discovered yet.

HisWillness wrote:


 We are learning the limitations of our psychology, so when would we know enough about them to model reality?

We possibly just won't. But we can apply extended knowledge to reposition any current model accordingly, that's interesting enough, yeah?

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Luminon wrote:I see you're

Luminon wrote:

I see you're in lack of a serious metaphysics. There are clearly defined concepts, which can be further discussed. Otherwise, you're in a dead end, because of a lack of information.

Are you saying this because I have not posted anything about by metaphysical commitements? This is at best an argument from silence and really irrelevant to the conversation at hand.

Luminon wrote:

Surprisingly, esoteric teachings do not have a notion of gods as such. There is only one God that is All, and all is God. Shortly said, God is both immanent and transcendent, and beings (including people) are potentially divine, but practically it depends on their ability to express God actively and correctly.

I'm glad that you believe this way about your god, but you are basically saying you like vanilla icecream when we are talking about all forms of desserts...Again, this is irrelevant to the convesation at hand.

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Eloise wrote:Forget emergent

Eloise wrote:

Forget emergent properties altogether, you can safely assume I think emergentism is an awkwardly contrived waste of paper for the duration of this discussion. The essential properties of matter are terribly, tragically underrated in such thinking.

Okay, good stuff. That's what I was asking.

Eloise wrote:
I'd ask you to scrap the supervenience model and consider the essential attributes of matter as a complete description of intellect.

How do we avoid the problem of that being a simple case of projection? What I mean is, when we decide that the universe is intellect, and we also differentiate between a horse's intellect and ours? Is this a radical departure from the common definition of intellect?

Eloise wrote:
Answering your second question we would judge sentience as comparative to a fundamentally different model of mind and its relationship to biology.

I guess so! If we've determined that the universe is intellect, then by our everyday conception of intellect, the universe is sentient. At least, I can't think of a non-sentient intellect.

But that appears to be an issue of the meaning of "intellect".

Eloise wrote:
In the context of relativity "the universe" is not ordered in time, evidently it is only perception which is ordered this way as a proportion of c.

And our perception is lined up with entropy. What can we make of that? (It's not a leading question, I actually don't have an answer.)

Eloise wrote:
What I mean, I guess, by the emphasis, is that there is this one more bias to remove which is probably the most pervading, subtle bias we'll have discovered yet.

Oh, I see. Okay. And did you mean time direction by that?

See, I'm with you that we just reflect the pattern already set out by a universe arranged such as it is. I only get lost on the finer points.

Eloise wrote:
But we can apply extended knowledge to reposition any current model accordingly, that's interesting enough, yeah?

Of course! Otherwise, I wouldn't engage in this discussion! I've always been interested in the limits of understanding and knowledge. How would we apply "extended knowledge"? I'm not sure what that means.

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HisWillness wrote:In our

HisWillness wrote:
In our current context, given that we've seen them as skeletons, I'd have to say they're not gods (or were not gods). Yes, they were believed to be gods, but we might have to make the call that the people  who revered them as gods were wrong. That wouldn't be addressing empirical observation, that would be addressing belief directly.

The Egyptian pharaohs are an example of a particular type of deity, namely a deity that exists as a man. The truth of the Egyptians' beliefs is not the issue as I'm not seeking to establish the pharaohs as gods or even suggesting that they were gods. I was assuming for the sake of argument that a god existed as they suggested in a modal sense. This has more to do with typology than it did with specific example and I was suggesting a god in that fashion would be knowable. This sort of god is different from gods in the tradition of classic theism. I'm not seeking to affirm, deny, or even evaluate the content of their beliefs epistemically, and to do so would seem to be a red-herring of sort.

HisWillness wrote:
We're deep in equivocation territory, though.

I think it would be equivocation if one did not delineate between these sorts of deities and other sorts of deities, but I think there is a distinction that prevents from being equivocation. It would be equivocation if one was not distinguishing between deities and human beings in general. A god-man type deity would be a sub category within the larger scope of all deities.

HisWillness wrote:
Granted, those are fictional characters, and recognized as such. But the problem distinguishing between god and myth seems to be a matter of time period you live in. Zeus is no longer revered, so he's not "real". It appears, again, that we're discussing a kind of social belief, rather than a belief based on experience or empiricism.

Not exactly. The difference is a differentiating between beliefs and ad hoc options. Even Zeus would not be categorically ad hoc even if no one currently believes he exists. James' "live option" label is a pragmatic pruning tool similar to Occam's Razor.

HisWillness wrote:
Well exactly.

The "divine" modifier is required for anything that a god does, because there's no way for a god to do anything in a way that we could understand.

I could remove the divine qualifier if you'd like to make it less divine. But I do not think that would make it any less intelligible that it was before.

HisWillness wrote:
Okay, by "strictly transcendant", you mean to say "empirically unknowable", do you? Can I safely extrapolate that such a being can never be known? I don't want to put words in your mouth, but that appears to be what you're saying.

I think you could extrapolate that such a being could not empirically be known if it was strictly transcendent and had no interaction with the observable world.

HisWillness wrote:
Both of those possibilities are what we're trying to get at, yes. In the former, you'd have to convince me that other knowledge is comparable in quality to that achieved through an empirical process, and in the latter -- where it seems that we could make a hypothesis and accept evidence -- you would have to suggest what we were looking for.

A priori knowledge could arguably be a higher quality because a posteriori knowledge is contingent upon a priori knowledge (ie. logic, math, etc.). But I do not know that a test would be possible because inevitably it would be question begging.

HisWillness wrote:
Okay. It's the cases where there is a union categorically that we should cover now. I can't think of any examples, though. I don't mean to make you do the heavy lifting, but I honestly can't think of an example. The god-man above looks more like an argument from public opinion than an actual example of overlap.

If one was arguing from public opinion, then would be seeking to appeal to public opinion to verify the truth of the belief. This is an epistemic evaluation of the beliefs--a discussion about epistemology and a distraction from the discussion on ontology.

And I thought we were dealing with these cases with the examples of Zeus (a god that became a man) and the pharaohs (gods that are men), as these would be categorical unions between humans and gods.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:The

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The Egyptian pharaohs are an example of a particular type of deity, namely a deity that exists as a man. The truth of the Egyptians' beliefs is not the issue as I'm not seeking to establish the pharaohs as gods or even suggesting that they were gods. I was assuming for the sake of argument that a god existed as they suggested in a modal sense.

You're losing me -- modal reasoning is about what is or is not the case. So when you say you're not suggesting that they were actually gods, but reasoning that they were in a modal sense, I'm confused.

It's important to understand whether or not you will accept them as bona fide gods, because I know I don't, I just don't know your position.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
It would be equivocation if one was not distinguishing between deities and human beings in general. A god-man type deity would be a sub category within the larger scope of all deities.

And why not a subset of men instead of deities? Or are you arguing for both, such that the set of god-men is a literal intersection between the set of gods and the set of men?

That would be arguing that you believe the Egyptians' claims that their pharoes were gods. For the sake of argument, I imagine.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
Granted, those are fictional characters, and recognized as such. But the problem distinguishing between god and myth seems to be a matter of time period you live in. Zeus is no longer revered, so he's not "real". It appears, again, that we're discussing a kind of social belief, rather than a belief based on experience or empiricism.

Not exactly. The difference is a differentiating between beliefs and ad hoc options. Even Zeus would not be categorically ad hoc even if no one currently believes he exists.

Oh, I see. I have no problem sticking to gods that aren't ad hoc (that is, have a history of worship in earnest).

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
James' "live option" label is a pragmatic pruning tool similar to Occam's Razor.

It's not quite like Occam's Razor. In James' argument (in his Will to Believe), a live option is merely one that appeals, and so unlike Occam's Razor, which suggests one pick the least convoluted answer to a question (roughly), a live option is a way of saying one that's on the table because someone thinks it sounds right. That would include options like the subject of wishful thinking. So it's very much unlike Occam's Razor.

Besides, James' argument was for genuine options, which a person would have to think were live, forced, and momentous. The fact that James' argument is unclear is another reason why it cannot directly compare to Occam's Razor.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
Well exactly.

The "divine" modifier is required for anything that a god does, because there's no way for a god to do anything in a way that we could understand.

I could remove the divine qualifier if you'd like to make it less divine. But I do not think that would make it any less intelligible that it was before.

But that's the point. The divine qualifier must be used for any terms used in describing the actions of the divine. There is something specifically telling about that, especially since we cannot pin down what that would mean.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I think you could extrapolate that such a being could not empirically be known if it was strictly transcendent and had no interaction with the observable world.

Okay. So in such cases, by what type of process could one gain knowledge of such a being? I'm suggesting there are no such processes that can be distinguished from purely fantasizing (by which one could accidentally form the correct idea of such a being, but could arguably not actually be said to posess knowledge).

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
Both of those possibilities are what we're trying to get at, yes. In the former, you'd have to convince me that other knowledge is comparable in quality to that achieved through an empirical process, and in the latter -- where it seems that we could make a hypothesis and accept evidence -- you would have to suggest what we were looking for.

A priori knowledge could arguably be a higher quality because a posteriori knowledge is contingent upon a priori knowledge (ie. logic, math, etc.). But I do not know that a test would be possible because inevitably it would be question begging.

Question begging in the sense that we believe our test will work, or in the sense that all a priori knowledge is an assumption, or ... ?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If one was arguing from public opinion, then would be seeking to appeal to public opinion to verify the truth of the belief. This is an epistemic evaluation of the beliefs--a discussion about epistemology and a distraction from the discussion on ontology.

It's no problem to stick to the ontology as long as it's clear what you're saying. It seems as though you're suggesting that pharoes are part of a superset of gods, in which case gods exist as long as they're actually just men labelled as gods. The fuzzy area is whether or not we're saying that they're still just men, and if so, why we should insist that the label has any bearing on the argument.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
And I thought we were dealing with these cases with the examples of Zeus (a god that became a man) and the pharaohs (gods that are men), as these would be categorical unions between humans and gods.

It's still fair to play with the ideas, though. If we determine that pharoes are men, but also gods, and that Zeus (who can change into a swan or a bull, for instance) is a god, and that Yaweh and Allah are both gods, then we have three things that can be said to be different, but are all called "gods". We would have at least identified the beginnings of why the label "god" is so confusing.

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Just a comment here - the

Just a comment here - the whole point of taking these ideas about the nature of the Pharaohs seriously is precisely because the society at the time did hold these beliefs; 'public opinion' is really just another way to describe that fact - to denigrate any aspect of the argument as merely an 'appeal to public opinion' is to massively miss the point.

 

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HisWillness wrote:

You're losing me -- modal reasoning is about what is or is not the case. So when you say you're not suggesting that they were actually gods, but reasoning that they were in a modal sense, I'm confused.

Modalities deal with counterfactuals. I was suggesting a counterfactual world in which pharaohs exist--a mere possibility, not necessarily an actuality.

HisWillness wrote:

It's important to understand whether or not you will accept them as bona fide gods, because I know I don't, I just don't know your position.

I do not think it is necessary to know whether or if I would accept them or not. I was suggesting them as a type of empirically knowable god if they did exist, that's all.

HisWillness wrote:

And why not a subset of men instead of deities? Or are you arguing for both, such that the set of god-men is a literal intersection between the set of gods and the set of men?

Both..strictly speaking. To cache it out in terms of sets, I'm not saying all men are gods or all gods are men, but that there is a union of the set of gods and the set of men that would form a set of god-men which would be a subset of both.

HisWillness wrote:

That would be arguing that you believe the Egyptians' claims that their pharaohs were gods. For the sake of argument, I imagine.

Not that I actually believe it, but that a pharaoh would be in the god-men set described above.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Besides, James' argument was for genuine options, which a person would have to think were live, forced, and momentous. The fact that James' argument is unclear is another reason why it cannot directly compare to Occam's Razor.

"Live" options were to prevent absurdity...that's all. Occam's Razor is similar in that it trims away absurd explanations. Granted, this is not a one to one correlation, but it seems that the intent was same.

 

HisWillness wrote:

But that's the point. The divine qualifier must be used for any terms used in describing the actions of the divine. There is something specifically telling about that, especially since we cannot pin down what that would mean.

I was suggesting that if I removed the modifier, it would not substantially change the statement, which is what in some ways would make things as such knowable especially if there is some overlap.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Okay. So in such cases, by what type of process could one gain knowledge of such a being? I'm suggesting there are no such processes that can be distinguished from purely fantasizing (by which one could accidentally form the correct idea of such a being, but could arguably not actually be said to posess knowledge).

A purely transcendent being that did not interact with the observable world could be accessed through a priori revelation, but that's about it. I'm not supposing that a god of this sort would be knowable though, but this sort of deity does not represent the whole of deities either.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Question begging in the sense that we believe our test will work, or in the sense that all a priori knowledge is an assumption, or ... ?

 

We test our assumptions using our assumptions to conclude our assumptions are true... That's question begging.

 

HisWillness wrote:

It's no problem to stick to the ontology as long as it's clear what you're saying. It seems as though you're suggesting that pharaohs are part of a superset of gods, in which case gods exist as long as they're actually just men labelled as gods. The fuzzy area is whether or not we're saying that they're still just men, and if so, why we should insist that the label has any bearing on the argument.

I'm thinking of a set of all possible gods, preferably in the Jamesian since of live options. Does this make sense?

 

HisWillness wrote:

It's still fair to play with the ideas, though. If we determine that pharoes are men, but also gods, and that Zeus (who can change into a swan or a bull, for instance) is a god, and that Yaweh and Allah are both gods, then we have three things that can be said to be different, but are all called "gods". We would have at least identified the beginnings of why the label "god" is so confusing.

I'm not opposed to dealing with the ideas, so long as they are dealt with appropriately and in the right context, and partially why I think things need to be taken on a case by case bases. I do not think that god-talk is meaningless, but it is certainly hard to speak in generalities. But again, this is not unique to god-talk either.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Modalities deal with counterfactuals. I was suggesting a counterfactual world in which pharaohs exist--a mere possibility, not necessarily an actuality.

Oh, I see what you mean. My mistake.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I do not think it is necessary to know whether or if I would accept them or not. I was suggesting them as a type of empirically knowable god if they did exist, that's all.

Okay. Well we can consider it, of course. In that case, gods are literal men. Their ontologies are uncomplicated, really.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

Besides, James' argument was for genuine options, which a person would have to think were live, forced, and momentous. The fact that James' argument is unclear is another reason why it cannot directly compare to Occam's Razor.

"Live" options were to prevent absurdity...that's all. Occam's Razor is similar in that it trims away absurd explanations. Granted, this is not a one to one correlation, but it seems that the intent was same.

Yes, I'm sure the intent was the same. And they're both a kind of parsimony, so I see the connection. It's just that prima facie judgments of ideas are often misguided, and can get carried along for ages simply because they "seem right". Like Platonic Forms, which have caused so much trouble philosophically.

ubuntuAnywhere wrote:
I was suggesting that if I removed the modifier, it would not substantially change the statement, which is what in some ways would make things as such knowable especially if there is some overlap.

So the idea is that if there is, in fact, some overlap between the divine and the physical, then knowledge could pass between the divine and the physical. Now, we have the problem of discovering how this could be so. I'm not sure, myself. In fact, I argue against it forcefully to find out if such an interface could topple my currently held radical notion that gods are impossible.

Note, of course, that the sensationalistic "gods are impossible" is just an entertaining prelude to spirited debate, and not a serious estimation of the status of pharaohs.

ubuntuAnywhere wrote:
A purely transcendent being that did not interact with the observable world could be accessed through a priori revelation, but that's about it. I'm not supposing that a god of this sort would be knowable though, but this sort of deity does not represent the whole of deities either.

Again, a non-interaction with the brain causing "revelation" is fairly unclear. I say "non-interaction" because the mechanisms of the brain are observable, but the deity as defined doesn't interact with the observable world, and thus not the brain.

ubuntuAnywhere wrote:
We test our assumptions using our assumptions to conclude our assumptions are true... That's question begging.

It would be question begging if each of the assumptions you mentioned were exactly the same assumption. I don't know if that's necessarily always the case.

What's interesting is that even though your statement makes it seem as if epistemological processes could all be said to be equal in terms of success, they aren't. If our epistemologies all boil down to an orgy of question begging, then why are some more successful than others?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm thinking of a set of all possible gods, preferably in the Jamesian since of live options. Does this make sense?

It makes sense, I just fear a nonsensical conclusion. Once we've determined that to be a god is a whole host of possible things, then we can say that, for instance, gods exist as long as they're pharaohs.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not opposed to dealing with the ideas, so long as they are dealt with appropriately and in the right context, and partially why I think things need to be taken on a case by case bases. I do not think that god-talk is meaningless, but it is certainly hard to speak in generalities. But again, this is not unique to god-talk either.

Of course not. But all god-talk that I've encountered is meaningless for one reason or another, so it colours my view of things. For instance, with the pharaohs, my first reaction is "yeah, but they're just men". It's hardly a comprehensive argument, but it appeals to the minimalist in me. To address the possibility of an overlap between the divine and the physical, we would be in an area where I believe the danger would be talking about things we have no access to (specifically, the divine), leading us to a terribly circular position.

How do we know about the divine if we have no interaction with it? If we do have interaction with it, is the divine physical in one moment, and not in another? How would we know these things without physical interaction? etc.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:/* Style

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

I type a post on a Windows machine, and what do I get??? grr...

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HisWillness wrote:So the

HisWillness wrote:

So the idea is that if there is, in fact, some overlap between the divine and the physical, then knowledge could pass between the divine and the physical. Now, we have the problem of discovering how this
could be so. I'm not sure, myself. In fact, I argue against it forcefully to find out if such an interface could topple my currently held radical notion that gods are impossible.

Empirically, I'd hope that a god of this sort would be wowing us with miracles or providing extraordinary evidence of some kind. One could then pick up Hume's approach to such things or use historical methods to validate the miracles.

HisWillness wrote:

Note, of course, that the sensationalistic "gods are impossible" is just an entertaining prelude to spirited debate, and not a serious estimation of the status of pharaohs.

Right...we're really not talking about the impossibilities of God's but the knowabilities of gods regardless of whether they actually exist or not.

HisWillness wrote:

Again, a non-interaction with the brain causing "revelation" is fairly unclear. I say "non-interaction" because the mechanisms of the brain are observable, but the deity as defined doesn't interact with the observable world, and thus not the brain.

This depends on how much of the brain someone wants to make mind, as some think that the essence of the mind is not restricted to the organ in one's skull.

HisWillness wrote:

It would be question begging if each of the assumptions you mentioned were exactly the same assumption. I don't know if that's necessarily always the case.

Recalling our conversation on empiricism, it would be like validating empiricism empirically. Probably not necessarily, but what Gödel showed is that some assumptions could be shown to be true using other assumptions although they are valid assumptions in and of themselves. This could create high degrees of circularity. Where would one begin? At least with empiricism, things stack up nicely where one thing or a combination of things leads to another.

HisWillness wrote:

What's interesting is that even though your statement makes it seem as if epistemological processes could all be said to be equal in terms of success, they aren't. If our epistemologies all boil down to an orgy of question begging, then why are some more successful than others?

That's not what I'm getting at all. I'm not denying that some are better than others, am I? If I am, please enlighten me.

HisWillness wrote:

It makes sense, I just fear a nonsensical conclusion. Once we've determined that to be a god is a whole host of possible things, then we can say that, for instance, gods exist as long as they're pharaohs.

Well, I'm not sure that's what I'd would do with it. You'd be right in saying that "god" is a broad term and for that reason one needs to be careful when talking about "god". I fear altogether to often that some make the assumption that all gods are more or less the same, when that's not necessarily true. Some even go the other way and say absurd things. For instance, I read a paper once written by a Christian that said that all Muslims were atheists because they believed in a nonexistent god from the perspective of that particular Christian. This was an obvious categorical mistake. All this is to say that without careful evaluations of particulars or smaller sets than "all gods", we could easily fall into the traps of hasty generalization or bifurcation.

HisWillness wrote:

Of course not. But all god-talk that I've encountered is meaningless for one reason or another, so it colours my view of things. For instance, with the pharaohs, my first reaction is "yeah, but they're just men". It's hardly a comprehensive argument, but it appeals to the minimalist in me. To address the possibility of an overlap between the divine and the physical, we would be in an area where I believe the danger would be talking about things we have no access to (specifically, the divine), leading us to a terribly circular position.


One of my earlier contentions was that we could define anything ad infinitum to the point it becomes meaningless, but with this said we should be clear with what we are talking about too.
Concerning the overlap, I think a large portion of the overlap is contingent on what the particular deity claimed to be and if what it was doing in the physical world lined up with its claim--a consistency check of sort.
HisWillness wrote:

How do we know about the divine if we have no interaction with it? If we do have interaction with it, is the divine physical in one moment, and not in another? How would we know these things without physical interaction? etc.

It would be non sequitur to suggest that there is a way to empirically know a god that does not interact with the world. Empirical observation is great at gleaning knowledge from the world, but by definition cannot glean knowledge from anything other than this.

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'Non-empirical

'Non-empirical knowledge' can only tell us the implications of our assumptions, not whether our conclusions accurately reflect reality outside our conceptual world-model.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

I type a post on a Windows machine, and what do I get??? grr...

Hehe. You knew something bad was going to happen, didn't you? I'm surprised the thing didn't crash four times on you. I'd say you got off easy.

 

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

I type a post on a Windows machine, and what do I get??? grr...

Hehe. You knew something bad was going to happen, didn't you? I'm surprised the thing didn't crash four times on you. I'd say you got off easy.

It didn't take much. I'm back on my Linux box configuring a Linux firewall...and all is well.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

Again, a non-interaction with the brain causing "revelation" is fairly unclear. I say "non-interaction" because the mechanisms of the brain are observable, but the deity as defined doesn't interact with the observable world, and thus not the brain.

This depends on how much of the brain someone wants to make mind, as some think that the essence of the mind is not restricted to the organ in one's skull.

I'd still say the mind supervenes on the physical brain, but I think that's predictable, given that I'm a physicalist. Brain injuries and diseases make up so much evidence that it's difficult for me to see where there's an unaccounted-for aspect of mind that I'm missing in saying that. (You're obviously welcome to a counter-example, I just can't think of one.)

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Recalling our conversation on empiricism, it would be like validating empiricism empirically. Probably not necessarily, but what Gödel showed is that some assumptions could be shown to be true using other assumptions although they are valid assumptions in and of themselves. This could create high degrees of circularity. Where would one begin? At least with empiricism, things stack up nicely where one thing or a combination of things leads to another.

We're obviously on a well-trodden path, here. But there's a bit of a hitch, in that we're getting stuck in the [a priori-a posteriori | analytic-synthetic | necessary-contingent] swamp, and we're having a hard time getting out of it. One interesting consequence of matching the a priori-a posteriori dichotomy with epistemology is that the very definition of a posteriori invokes experience. You've said as much, of course, but it seems like we might get to the conclusion that if a truth is an a posteriori truth, then it's baseless. It might even suggest a trivalent situation where a priori statements can be said to be true, but a posteriori statments can neither be said to be true nor false.

So you're right that saying something like "the observable universe behaves consistently" could be regarded as an assumption (or as induction). But it's an assumption that remains unfalsified. I'm not suggesting it's true, considering my distaste for Platonic forms, I'm saying it has been shown a posteriori to be true to a high degree. That would be using experience to justify an assumption, such that only given experience can we say the assumption has done well for itself. It's a fair criticism, but what can we say of the success? That it's merely circular? There seems to be something more to it than that.

On the other hand, the idea that the epistemological process only has access to the observable world seems a priori, since to say we are limited in our experience to what we can possibly experience is a tautology. No problem there.

What throws a monkey wrench in the whole thing for me is when what seems to be the unobservable world "reveals" itself, when that would be a glaring contradiction. In that case, perhaps our familiar dichotomies are broken, but I don't know to discuss that point meaningfully.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
All this is to say that without careful evaluations of particulars or smaller sets than "all gods", we could easily fall into the traps of hasty generalization or bifurcation.

But on the other hand, so many particulars apply to the set of all gods, that the set becomes a very difficult thing to manage. If we could say that in the set of gods, we're considering only gods worshiped in some earnest way before 2009, would that be a place to start? (You seemed to have an earlier concern about the difference between whether or not a god was worshiped or merely a work of fiction.)

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Concerning the overlap, I think a large portion of the overlap is contingent on what the particular deity claimed to be and if what it was doing in the physical world lined up with its claim--a consistency check of sort.

I'm not sure we've ever heard directly from a deity, so that might be difficult. Do you mean comparing religious texts to reality in some way?

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HisWillness wrote:I'd still

HisWillness wrote:
I'd still say the mind supervenes on the physical brain, but I think that's predictable, given that I'm a physicalist. Brain injuries and diseases make up so much evidence that it's difficult for me to see where there's an unaccounted-for aspect of mind that I'm missing in saying that. (You're obviously welcome to a counter-example, I just can't think of one.)


Some sort of dualism might satisfy this. Many religions suggest that the essence of a person is not merely physical, but also spiritual. But this again is not necessarily empirically detectable, and really contingent upon the success of the establishment of transcendence.

HisWillness wrote:
...but it seems like we might get to the conclusion that if a truth is an a posteriori truth, then it's baseless.


Baseless in what manner? That a posteriori truth is based on something that is not a posteriori itself? Such things would not necessarily be baseless, but based on something of a different nature and therefore have to be treated differently. It would baseless in the case of infinite regress or circularity, but that not necessary if one takes an axiomatic approach.

HisWillness wrote:
It might even suggest a trivalent situation where a priori statements can be said to be true, but a posteriori statments can neither be said to be true nor false.


Certainly, a posteriori truth can said to be false, but absolutely-beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt-100-per-cent true, perhaps not without exhaustive knowledge. But this does not mean that we can have great confidence in these truths, such that for all practical purpose they are true, though not necessarily true.

HisWillness wrote:
So you're right that saying something like "the observable universe behaves consistently" could be regarded as an assumption (or as induction). But it's an assumption that remains unfalsified. I'm not suggesting it's true, considering my distaste for Platonic forms, I'm saying it has been shown a posteriori to be true to a high degree. That would be using experience to justify an assumption, such that only given experience can we say the assumption has done well for itself. It's a fair criticism, but what can we say of the success? That it's merely circular? There seems to be something more to it than that.


I hope I'm not coming across as saying that a posteriori truth is somehow doomed to failure or that's its not useful. I think a posteriori is trustworthy and robust enough to treat it as though it were truth in the deductive since. But at the same time I'm not going to throw everything else out the window in favor of it as this would be a more holistic epistemology.

HisWillness wrote:
On the other hand, the idea that the epistemological process only has access to the observable world seems a priori, since to say we are limited in our experience to what we can possibly experience is a tautology. No problem there.

What throws a monkey wrench in the whole thing for me is when what seems to be the unobservable world "reveals" itself, when that would be a glaring contradiction. In that case, perhaps our familiar dichotomies are broken, but I don't know to discuss that point meaningfully.


I'd think of it in the terms of the union of sets. Should the unobservable world reveal itself such that it was observable, then if would be a union of these two worlds, but it would have to be observable to be revealed in an observable world, thereby maintaining the dichotomy. The contention here though would be on the matter of discerning the two apart. If the unobservable world came into the observable world and existed in the same manner one might expect things of the observable world to behave, then there would be no discernable difference. But if it did not behave in the same manner one might expect it to, then we could conclude either that my understanding of the observable world is wrong (that is lacking or blatantly wrong), or this is not something of the observable world, which is the Humean definition a miracle.

But this of course creates other problems. A common plot device in science fiction is using one's advanced technology to fool less technological advanced beings into thinking of one's self as a deity. Author C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". The question here is, do we table the event until a reasonable explanation is discovered or do we accept it as a magic? The problem is that it may very well be magic and no explanation could ever be found to explain it and one waits eternally. At the end of the day, I'm not sure. I think James may have been onto something when he suggested that every individual has a different threshold as to how much convincing it would take for that person to accept a given proposition as true. With that said though, I do not think this is an excuse to write such things off as meaningless, in fear that one may mess some truth along the way.

HisWillness wrote:
But on the other hand, so many particulars apply to the set of all gods, that the set becomes a very difficult thing to manage. If we could say that in the set of gods, we're considering only gods worshiped in some earnest way before 2009, would that be a place to start? (You seemed to have an earlier concern about the difference between whether or not a god was worshiped or merely a work of fiction.)


I'm not suggesting that there are particulars that do not apply to all gods, otherwise one could not have a set of all gods. I think, "All gods worshipped in some earnest way before 2009" is not bad place to start. Sure.

HisWillness wrote:
I'm not sure we've ever heard directly from a deity, so that might be difficult. Do you mean comparing religious texts to reality in some way?


That's one way to do it. I'm not suggesting we try in this forum because I honestly do not feel like playing devil's advocate (or a god's advocate Smiling ) for any particular religion. Angelobrazil or Luminon may be better people to have this sort of discussion with for their particular religions.

 

 

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UbuntuAnyone wrote:

UbuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
I'm not sure we've ever heard directly from a deity, so that might be difficult. Do you mean comparing religious texts to reality in some way?


That's one way to do it. I'm not suggesting we try in this forum because I honestly do not feel like playing devil's advocate (or a god's advocate Smiling ) for any particular religion. Angelobrazil or Luminon may be better people to have this sort of discussion with for their particular religions.

I'm sorry I wrote so much. You'd have better to ask only for what you want to know, because all of this would be enough for an university degree. Anyway, I divided it into paragraphs, so you can pick by theme. I hope it's an interesting reading.
(Clarification) I want to make clear once more, that esotericism is not a religion. Esotericism is a science and philosophy of the evolution of consciousness. It is not based on belief, but empiricism and logical assumption. It has also a great explanatory and unifying power. Of course, it's subjected to development as any other area of knowledge.

(Philosophy) However, I'm pleased with your idea to suggest me as a source of information. I was already all itchy seeing you guys debating hypothetically and idly what is already known and written down. I will try to point out some basic misconceptions. Generally, I believe that just like other sciences divided from philosophy, ontologic hypotheses should also be replaced with practical inquiry into the nature of our world. It is possible if scientists and esotericists will combine their effort together. If esotericism does not seem scientific enough to you, you're free to help. Catch up a little with where the research currently is, and push it further.

(Dualism) Firstly, things like ivisible and visible world, are an illusion. It is never "one or the other", but a question of degree. Dualism only depends on our senses. If we have better senses, there is no dualism, because the so-called invisible world is visible to us. We are currently undergoing a phase in our evolution, when the contact of humanity with 'invisible worlds' is minimal. This is because humanity as such has to estabilish a firm relationship and interaction with the material world and develop the quality of intellect. However, this phase is currently going to a gradual transition into another phase, when we will use the newly acquired intellect and technology to gain a control over the currenly 'invisible worlds'. Of course, along this process, there are trifles like saving ourselves from self-destruction.

(God as a title) Secondly, there are no gods or deities. There are forms of life, dense-material or not. There is an extreme variety of them, but "god" is a cultural phenomenon, not a real life form.
Neale Donald Walsch wrote 'Conversations with God'. However, the being he interviewed wasn't THE God. It was an astral being without a physical body (so-called discarnate) glad to have a guy in this world who will serve as a channel. It was not someone necessarily better than any of us. Just because it works like a mysterious voice in someone's head, astral channeling gets so much of usually undeserved attention.
God is not something we talk to, it is something we are.
Wow, a deep thought, I must write it down somewhere! Smiling

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'd think of it in the terms of the union of sets. Should the unobservable world reveal itself such that it was observable, then if would be a union of these two worlds, but it would have to be observable to be revealed in an observable world, thereby maintaining the dichotomy. The contention here though would be on the matter of discerning the two apart. If the unobservable world came into the observable world and existed in the same manner one might expect things of the observable world to behave, then there would be no discernable difference. But if it did not behave in the same manner one might expect it to, then we could conclude either that my understanding of the observable world is wrong (that is lacking or blatantly wrong), or this is not something of the observable world, which is the Humean definition a miracle.

(Subjective invisibility) My stomach twitches from the misplaced philosophy. AFAIK, there is a matter of various density, but this doesn't make it necessarily invisible. We are evolutionarily accustomed to see only a small spectrum of matter, but that's a problem of our eyes and brain, not that something is fundamentally invisible as such.
For a healthy person there is no danger than they would permanently mistake the 'invisible world' (even if currently visible) for the dense-physical world. You wouldn't mistake a solid object for a liquid or gas, right? If you can see it or touch it, you see the difference, if not immediately then soon. However, according to esoteric sources, our dense world is a condensate of a less dense world. It is possible to condense, let's say an etheric matter into a physical object, which will look like a materialization out of nothing. But such an objects sometimes have a tendency to de-condensate back into their original state, which in return looks like vanishing into nothingness. A typical example is UFO, which does not fly away, but can just disappear, even from a radar screen.

(Magic) As for the magic/technology false dichotomy, I'd say that in their most perfect form, they are one and the same thing. No springs and gears, no pentagrams and blood, but a qualified manipulation with shape, light, sound, thought and frequencies.

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Luminon wrote: (Philosophy)

Luminon wrote:

 

 (Philosophy) However, I'm pleased with your idea to suggest me as a source of information. I was already all itchy seeing you guys debating hypothetically and idly what is already known and written down.

 

A follower a given religion usually his or her religion as the arbiter of truth, otherwise he probably would not be a follower.  I suppose your reference to things “already written down” is a reference to your particular religion’s teachings. Per the topic at hand, I’m not really interested in delving into the particulars of your’s or anyone else’s religion because I fear it would detract from the focus.

 

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Some sort

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Some sort of dualism might satisfy this.

I really haven't seen one that does. The problem is accounting for the need of a soul in any given explanation.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Many religions suggest that the essence of a person is not merely physical, but also spiritual.

Yes, of course. It keeps them in trade, after all. But the spiritual aspect is still internally incoherent. It's supposed to be non-physical, and yet people ascribe to the spiritual all sorts of properties that they have no access to an understanding of. So the spiritual remains something fanciful, rather than something worth seriously considering.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But this again is not necessarily empirically detectable, and really contingent upon the success of the establishment of transcendence.

Neither of which are seemingly accessible to any kind of reasoning or knowledge, be it a priori or a posteriori.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But at the same time I'm not going to throw everything else out the window in favor of it as this would be a more holistic epistemology.

I'm still not sure what you're suggesting should be added to the empirical method.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'd think of it in the terms of the union of sets. Should the unobservable world reveal itself such that it was observable, then if would be a union of these two worlds, but it would have to be observable to be revealed in an observable world, thereby maintaining the dichotomy.

Except that from our point of view, and ontologically speaking, we would have to have an example of something that suddenly appeared out of nowhere before we decided that such things were something other than fantasy. It's all fine and good to reason about fantastic objects like God, but what would make me think that they were nothing other than a 2,000 year-old middle-eastern fantasy?

At this point, I have to ask you: how do we tell the difference between gods and fantasies? (Or wishful thinking, or projection, etc.)

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness wrote:I really

HisWillness wrote:

I really haven't seen one that does. The problem is accounting for the need of a soul in any given explanation.

I would agree, but even more so insist that nothing really accounts for this problem...It's one of those special things in philosophy that has the special label "problem".
HisWillness wrote:

Yes, of course. It keeps them in trade, after all. But the spiritual aspect is still internally incoherent. It's supposed to be non-physical, and yet people ascribe to the spiritual all sorts of properties that they have no access to an understanding of. So the spiritual remains something fanciful, rather than something worth seriously considering.

Like I said, I do not feel that there is any problem-free solution (as I've yet to see one) all the way from the naturalistic explanations through the entirely transcendental explanations. But I'm willing to live with the consequences of whatever ideas I accept.
HisWillness wrote:

Neither of which are seemingly accessible to any kind of reasoning or knowledge, be it a priori or a posteriori.

I thought about dropping this because it seemed like it would be going down a road we've already traveled, as it is really the same discussion over issues of a possible union of two worlds or some sort of internal access to the transcendent.
HisWillness wrote:

I'm still not sure what you're suggesting should be added to the empirical method.

I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with the empirical method. I'm supposing something is needed to account for the empirical method other than the empirical method itself.
HisWillness wrote:

Except that from our point of view, and ontologically speaking, we would have to have an example of something that suddenly appeared out of nowhere before we decided that such things were something other than fantasy. It's all fine and good to reason about fantastic objects like God, but what would make me think that they were nothing other than a 2,000 year-old middle-eastern fantasy?
At this point, I have to ask you: how do we tell the difference between gods and fantasies? (Or wishful thinking, or projection, etc.)

Like I said, this is largely contingent upon the particular truth claims of a religion about a particular god. I'm not suggesting that that any of them are necessarily true, but if they were, then we would want empirical observations such as historical evidence, miracles, or authentic religious experiences among other things. I hope we'd then look for some sort of existential ((this is my existential side showing itself)) validation from the particular religion's teachings--that is does it philosophically map onto the world and accurately describe the conditions and provide a meaningful rubric to evaluate the world.
 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:A

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

A follower a given religion usually his or her religion as the arbiter of truth, otherwise he probably would not be a follower.  I suppose your reference to things “already written down” is a reference to your particular religion’s teachings. Per the topic at hand, I’m not really interested in delving into the particulars of your’s or anyone else’s religion because I fear it would detract from the focus.

Don't label everything you don't understand as a religion. Don't underestimate people's ability to observe and work with facts. What is written down, are both original teachings, and researches of people, which confirm the original theories, by the way. We are no followers. We verify everything in practice and our results give sense with the rest of the world and other researches. It's not a separated religion, but an unified 'theory of everything'. This is why I think it's worthy of study, it transcends all minor and contradictory teachings and religions.
 

I can not detract you from the focus, because you have no focus.  If you only theoretize, you can be wrong just as well as right. Instead of theoretizing, you should gather practical results. It is absurd to judge if something is "internally incoherent". The world just is, regardless how incoherent or counter-intuitive it's properties may seem to us, or if we like it or not. There is more than enough of data in global publications to compile a statistical overview about the structure of things like human spirit, invisible worlds, and so on. There is no need to be stuck with guesswork.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:A

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

A follower a given religion usually his or her religion as the arbiter of truth, otherwise he probably would not be a follower.  I suppose your reference to things “already written down” is a reference to your particular religion’s teachings. Per the topic at hand, I’m not really interested in delving into the particulars of your’s or anyone else’s religion because I fear it would detract from the focus.

Don't label everything you don't understand as a religion. Don't underestimate people's ability to observe and work with facts. What is written down, are both original teachings, and researches of people, which confirm the original theories, by the way. We are no followers. We verify everything in practice and our results give sense with the rest of the world and other researches. It's not a separated religion, but an unified 'theory of everything'. This is why I think it's worthy of study, it transcends all minor and contradictory teachings and religions.
 

I can not detract you from the focus, because you have no focus.  If you only theoretize, you can be wrong just as well as right. Instead of theoretizing, you should gather practical results. It is absurd to judge if something is "internally incoherent". The world just is, regardless how incoherent or counter-intuitive it's properties may seem to us, or if we like it or not. There is more than enough of data in global publications to compile a statistical overview about the structure of things like human spirit, invisible worlds, and so on. There is no need to be stuck with guesswork.

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


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Luminon wrote:Don't label

Luminon wrote:



Don't label everything you don't understand as a religion. Don't underestimate people's ability to observe and work with facts. What is written down, are both original teachings, and researches of people, which confirm the original theories, by the way. We are no followers. We verify everything in practice and our results give sense with the rest of the world and other researches. It's not a separated religion, but an unified 'theory of everything'. This is why I think it's worthy of study, it transcends all minor and contradictory teachings and religions.




I suppose I should expect this sort of response from esoterist, as it seems anyone who is not an esoterist is labeled as being ignorant of esoteric teachings or having misunderstandings of esoteric teachings.



Quote:


I can not detract you from the focus, because you have no focus.  If you only theoretize, you can be wrong just as well as right. Instead of theoretizing, you should gather practical results. It is absurd to judge if something is "internally incoherent". The world just is, regardless how incoherent or counter-intuitive it's properties may seem to us, or if we like it or not. There is more than enough of data in global publications to compile a statistical overview about the structure of things like human spirit, invisible worlds, and so on. There is no need to be stuck with guesswork.





Please don't take this offensively, but this seems to be a bad case of special pleading. Any sort of belief system that makes truth claims about universal truths, theories of how the universe came to be and how it works, assertions about gods, explanations of non-natural phenomenon, among other things is, well...a religion. Consider your entire second paragraph--this statement is a rather matter-of-fact statement about the way of the world made in much the same way religions make statements. Religions walk around claiming to be "philosophies", "practical guides to life", or other such pseudonyms to avoid the stigma of religion. But being a religion does not make you wrong or somehow invalid. I generally like to read about religions and I think religious thinkers have much to offer. Also, it is pretty hard to avoid such things when one reads philosophy because the inherent religious nature of philosophy.



Because I have not asserted anything about a particular belief system or talked about metaphysical commitments does not inherently mean that I do not have any. We were discussing the issues raised in the OP, and for that reason, I do not want to meander down a road that does not really deal with the issue at hand. If you want to discuss your beliefs, start a thread with an issue that concerns your belief and talk about it there. I tend to gravitate towards philosophical discussions, as that is what I like to talk about. So if you post something in that arena, I'd be more than happy to talk about it.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I would

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I would agree, but even more so insist that nothing really accounts for this problem...It's one of those special things in philosophy that has the special label "problem".

The "problem" would be for someone to demonstrate why the soul explanation is the best available explanation. In the absence of evidence AND a compelling reason to believe that such an entity should be considered, the dualist has an uphill climb. What, exactly, is not accounted for that the soul explanation gives us?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with the empirical method. I'm supposing something is needed to account for the empirical method other than the empirical method itself.

But the empirical method holds up logically as well. So I'm not sure what you would need, or what you feel is missing. Given that an empiricist is simply someone who tests carefully, the available knowledge to that person is what can be tested carefully. Of course, nobody's actually a strictly perfect empiricist. We also use reasoning.

[edit: I suppose I should clarify that the empiricist I'm talking about here is a kind of reliabilist empiricist, and so the above was hastily applied to all empiricism, which wouldn't be accurate]

One place to use reasoning is the idea of things that are impossible to test. I don't mean limited by our current technology, I mean completely impossible to test no matter what technology we might develop. In our discussion, we've called it "unobservable", and when I say that, I mean literally impossible to observe by any means.

Given our relationship to the unobservable, we have no way to talk about it in a way that would make sense at all. Statements about the unobservable would have to be based on ideas borrowed from our observable world, as there is no other way for us to consider it. In doing so, we place a huge supposition on the unknown.

So when you talk about sets of the observable and unobservable, it's a bit difficult to say that the unobservable would even participate in a process of being part of a set. It's such an unknown that applying the concept of set to it may not apply.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
At this point, I have to ask you: how do we tell the difference between gods and fantasies? (Or wishful thinking, or projection, etc.)

Like I said, this is largely contingent upon the particular truth claims of a religion about a particular god. I'm not suggesting that that any of them are necessarily true, but if they were, then we would want empirical observations such as historical evidence, miracles, or authentic religious experiences among other things.

I think this is why I'm repeating myself. I don't understand what you're suggesting. Historical evidence where gods are concerned are holy books or myths. Maybe it should be a more specific question: how do we tell the difference between "authentic" religious experiences and pure fantasy?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I hope we'd then look for some sort of existential ((this is my existential side showing itself)) validation from the particular religion's teachings--that is does it philosophically map onto the world and accurately describe the conditions and provide a meaningful rubric to evaluate the world.

Maybe you've seen one, but I haven't. I've read a lot of the Bible, some Koran, some Buddhist texts, etc., but while there are lots of quaint metaphors (and odd instructions), there really isn't anything that maps to reality. I mean apart from the assumption that the characters are human, but that happens in fiction, too.

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HisWillness wrote:The

HisWillness wrote:

The "problem" would be for someone to demonstrate why the soul explanation is the best available explanation. In the absence of evidence AND a compelling reason to believe that such an entity should be considered, the dualist has an uphill climb. What, exactly, is not accounted for that the soul explanation gives us?

A dualistic relationship helps account synergistic relationship between the brain and the more abstract content it contains, which seems to necessitate belief in such a thing. Naturalistic explanations seem to be philosophical lacking while dualistic accounts run into the mind-body problem. In any case, if one gets one thing, it creates problems in other areas. I have yet to find an account that was fully satisfying, but I'm okay with that.

HisWillness wrote:

But the empirical method holds up logically as well. So I'm not sure what you would need, or what you feel is missing. Given that an empiricist is simply someone who tests carefully, the available knowledge to that person is what can be tested carefully. Of course, nobody's actually a strictly perfect empiricist. We also use reasoning.

[edit: I suppose I should clarify that the empiricist I'm talking about here is a kind of reliabilist empiricist, and so the above was hastily applied to all empiricism, which wouldn't be accurate]

Sure. I never said it didn't. Per our discussion on empiricism, I am not entirely satisfied with a system whose hallmark is truth testing through empirical observation but cannot validate itself. I do not think we disagree here. I think I have been careful not to use the word "empiricism" and "empirical observation" interchangeably, as I do not think they are the same thing. Empiricism is a philosophical school in the traditions of Hume and Locke, while empirical observation is something that it heralds, but is not necessarily unique to empiricism. I generally qualified empirical observation with "strictly speaking" and the like to denote that I was talking about the act of empirical testing barring all other epistemic modes of justification.

HisWillness wrote:

One place to use reasoning is the idea of things that are impossible to test. I don't mean limited by our current technology, I mean completely impossible to test no matter what technology we might develop. In our discussion, we've called it "unobservable", and when I say that, I mean literally impossible to observe by any means.
Given our relationship to the unobservable, we have no way to talk about it in a way that would make sense at all. Statements about the unobservable would have to be based on ideas borrowed from our observable world, as there is no other way for us to consider it. In doing so, we place a huge supposition on the unknown.
So when you talk about sets of the observable and unobservable, it's a bit difficult to say that the unobservable would even participate in a process of being part of a set. It's such an unknown that applying the concept of set to it may not apply.


Ok...that helps in knowing where you are coming from. I was referring to things that are unobservable as things beyond the limits of empirical observation, and then suggesting a hypothetical union of the two worlds on an element in the unobservable world that could exist in the observable world while maintaining the properties it possessed in the unobservable world. Does this make sense? I do not think one would have to burrow anything from the observable world if one was making a direct observation on such an element.

HisWillness wrote:

I think this is why I'm repeating myself. I don't understand what you're suggesting. Historical evidence where gods are concerned are holy books or myths. Maybe it should be a more specific question: how do we tell the difference between "authentic" religious experiences and pure fantasy?

I think it is a function of the extravagance of the claims and the credibility of the witnesses. The extravagance between "I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought milk" and "I found another world through a hole in the ground" is drastically different, but there is nothing to suggest one is any less a lie than the other in and of themselves. What if I could not show you this world through the hole in the ground nor I could not produce the milk, receipts or other evidence that I had been to the store? Carl Sagan's book Contact deals with this issue after Dr. Arroway comes back from her travel throughout the galaxy yet cannot prove she went. C.S. Lewis deals with this issue in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when Lucy comes out of the wardrobe for the first time and her siblings accuse her making the whole thing up. The professor then suggests that since she is not habitual liar, then she may be telling the truth. And I'm not sure this particularly unique to religious experience--what is there to distinguish any sort of witness' experience about anything from being pure fantasy. As I've mentioned before, this is where I think historical methods become the means of investigation.

HisWillness wrote:

Maybe you've seen one, but I haven't. I've read a lot of the Bible, some Koran, some Buddhist texts, etc., but while there are lots of quaint metaphors (and odd instructions), there really isn't anything that maps to reality. I mean apart from the assumption that the characters are human, but that happens in fiction, too.

I think this really comes down to a matter of issue of personal credulity William James brought up--how much convincing does an individual need before he or she accepts something as true. (But this of course is my existential side showing itself again.)

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:A

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
A dualistic relationship helps account synergistic relationship between the brain and the more abstract content it contains, which seems to necessitate belief in such a thing.

I'm afraid I can't let this part slide by. You're suggesting that the solution to the "synergistic relationship" between the brain and its contents is a ... what, exactly?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Naturalistic explanations seem to be philosophical lacking while dualistic accounts run into the mind-body problem. In any case, if one gets one thing, it creates problems in other areas. I have yet to find an account that was fully satisfying, but I'm okay with that.

I guess you are okay with that. My curiosity is still fairly active, though, and my copy of "Correlative Neuroanatomy" seems to get by fine without mention of anything other than the brain and its biochemistry. So where is the naturalistic explanation lacking philosophically?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Per our discussion on empiricism, I am not entirely satisfied with a system whose hallmark is truth testing through empirical observation but cannot validate itself. I do not think we disagree here.

Still not sure about the nature of your dissatisfaction, though. What exactly needs to be validated?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I generally qualified empirical observation with "strictly speaking" and the like to denote that I was talking about the act of empirical testing barring all other epistemic modes of justification.

That's my mistake for getting fast and loose with the terminology. I should have been clear that I endorse a scientific empiricism in line with Popper's principle of falsification.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Ok...that helps in knowing where you are coming from. I was referring to things that are unobservable as things beyond the limits of empirical observation, and then suggesting a hypothetical union of the two worlds on an element in the unobservable world that could exist in the observable world while maintaining the properties it possessed in the unobservable world. Does this make sense? I do not think one would have to burrow anything from the observable world if one was making a direct observation on such an element.

Maybe I haven't been clear on the intractability of the problem. If something is beyond the limits of empirical observation permanently, then one cannot assume it would fit into a set. There exists an infinity of possibilities for an unknown. If, however, something is merely unobserved (that is, we may at some point be able to observe it given adequate technology, etc.) then it's safe to say that it would fit into a set, as there is good reason to believe that observable things will exhibit behaviour consistent with the rest of the observable universe.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

I think this is why I'm repeating myself. I don't understand what you're suggesting. Historical evidence where gods are concerned are holy books or myths. Maybe it should be a more specific question: how do we tell the difference between "authentic" religious experiences and pure fantasy?

I think it is a function of the extravagance of the claims and the credibility of the witnesses.

Is the credibility of the witness really an issue when, on one hand, we have three hundred years of hard physical evidence support consistent behaviour of matter, and on the other, we have one person's claim that the consistent behaviour of matter has become inconsistent temporarily? It's not just a little unlikely, it's extremely unlikely.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Carl Sagan's book Contact deals with this issue after Dr. Arroway comes back from her travel throughout the galaxy yet cannot prove she went. C.S. Lewis deals with this issue in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when Lucy comes out of the wardrobe for the first time and her siblings accuse her making the whole thing up. The professor then suggests that since she is not habitual liar, then she may be telling the truth.

I don't mean to be rude, but I won't consider fictional accounts in a discussion about ontology. It's not being snarky or anything, I just think it muddies the waters.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
And I'm not sure this particularly unique to religious experience--what is there to distinguish any sort of witness' experience about anything from being pure fantasy. As I've mentioned before, this is where I think historical methods become the means of investigation.

And I'll still bet on 300 years of physical evidence first. What are the odds that all that evidence was overturned by a few reports of miracles? Not good.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I think this really comes down to a matter of issue of personal credulity William James brought up--how much convincing does an individual need before he or she accepts something as true. (But this of course is my existential side showing itself again.)

In the case of a physicalist like me, it would take a simple falsification of my main assumption that the physical is, and other things have not adequately been shown to be.

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HisWillness wrote:I'm afraid

HisWillness wrote:

I'm afraid I can't let this part slide by. You're suggesting that the solution to the "synergistic relationship" between the brain and its contents is a ... what, exactly?

I guess you are okay with that. My curiosity is still fairly active, though, and my copy of "Correlative Neuroanatomy" seems to get by fine without mention of anything other than the brain and its biochemistry. So where is the naturalistic explanation lacking philosophically?

The synergistic relationship is the interdependence of ideas and the brain containing them. Ideas are not necessarily the the neurological paths that store, retrieve, and relate the ideas in our minds, because if that were the case, no one idea would ever be the same from person to person because we do not share the same brain. But removed from our brains, the and idea does not seem to have any meaning. I'm not talking about physiology. It does a darn good job of explaining how information is stored in our brains and what happens when reasoning goes on etc. and that, at least in my evaluation, is not the issue, but more so with the relationship of ideas to the brain. I've read Dawkins work in cognitive studies and have dabbled in Dennett's work on cognitive studies as well, and it seems their work it is largely contingent on the success of analogies between information theory and genetics, and it seems to leave the heavy lifting to genetics. I think Dennett's version is more tenable, but honestly found it suffering the problems for which dualistic provide solutions. On the other hand, Decartes and Kant have attempted to offer dualistic approaches. Decartes collapses into circular reasoning in his attempt to ground ideas external to the mind, and Kant grounding basically suffers from the ailments of platonism.  This is by no means exhaustive survey either, but I think it illustrates the problem. Explanations that assert some form of transcendence run into the problem described above.  But at the same time, naturalistic explanations, as mentioned, rely on an analogy to genetics and preclude that information is strictly empirical, such that it naively eliminates the possibility that information may come from other sources. I'm not necessarily suggesting that there are other sources, but at the same time I'm not closed off to the possibility. But like I said, I'm not completely satisfied with anything I've read, but I'm okay with that.

HisWillness wrote:

Still not sure about the nature of your dissatisfaction, though. What exactly needs to be validated?

The empirical method...that is the fact that the empirical method discovers truth, but that it cannot empirically validate itself.

HisWillness wrote:

That's my mistake for getting fast and loose with the terminology. I should have been clear that I endorse a scientific empiricism in line with Popper's principle of falsification.

When dealing with science I endorse scientific empiricism too in the line of Popper's principle.

HisWillness wrote:

Maybe I haven't been clear on the intractability of the problem. If something is beyond the limits of empirical observation permanently, then one cannot assume it would fit into a set. There exists an infinity of possibilities for an unknown. If, however, something is merely unobserved (that is, we may at some point be able to observe it given adequate technology, etc.) then it's safe to say that it would fit into a set, as there is good reason to believe that observable things will exhibit behavior consistent with the rest of the observable universe.

There may be infinite possibilities but I'm suggesting at least a single instance of an element that does not behave consistent with the rest of the observable universe, that's all.

HisWillness wrote:

Is the credibility of the witness really an issue when, on one hand, we have three hundred years of hard physical evidence support consistent behavior of matter, and on the other, we have one person's claim that the consistent behavior of matter has become inconsistent temporarily? It's not just a little unlikely, it's extremely unlikely.

But it is not necessarily false either. Hume dealt wit this some, but his conclusions were not that such things do not happen, but that it would be irrational to think they happened. But if something was authentic, then one would be irrational to think otherwise.  So it seems we're at an impasse if we take accept Hume and an actual event occurs. But If one were to produce cogent evidence for an extraordinary event, what would we do then?

HisWillness wrote:

I don't mean to be rude, but I won't consider fictional accounts in a discussion about ontology. It's not being snarky or anything, I just think it muddies the waters.

The examples were merely illustrative. I do not really want to deal with the particulars of these novels.

HisWillness wrote:

In the case of a physicalist like me, it would take a simple falsification of my main assumption that the physical is, and other things have not adequately been shown to be.

But do realize that the qualifier for such an assumption has to do with cogency of demonstration, not with the lack demonstrations themselves.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I suppose

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

I suppose I should expect this sort of response from esoterist, as it seems anyone who is not an esoterist is labeled as being ignorant of esoteric teachings or having misunderstandings of esoteric teachings.

That's the life. If you want to be good at your job, like a doctor, lawyer, teacher or pilot, you have to study and practice. It's the same with esotericism. Why should it be different? There is a local saying, "no educated person ever just fell from the sky."
No offense, but it's really mysterious to me, how you and Will can discuss things without actually caring about them, it's so.....strange, that it is almost fascinating, if it wouldn't be so tedious. It's like two permanently blind people would try to invent the notion of colors, but only philosophically. In that example, I don't know where the goal is, but I'm sure that it's not seeing the colors.
 

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Please don't take this offensively, but this seems to be a bad case of special pleading. Any sort of belief system that makes truth claims about universal truths, theories of how the universe came to be and how it works, assertions about gods, explanations of non-natural phenomenon, among other things is, well...a religion.
The funny thing is, that esotericism is not supposed to make such a statements. Every good esoteric book (for example from Alice Bailey + the Tibetyan) has explicitly stated in the foreword, that readers should not take this as the final, infallible truth, but should instead verify this according to their reason, life experience and intuition, even if it would lead to rejecting the book. The authors also never claim about themselves, that they are great initiates. They're really modest and authentic.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Consider your entire second paragraph--this statement is a rather matter-of-fact statement about the way of the world made in much the same way religions make statements. Religions walk around claiming to be "philosophies", "practical guides to life", or other such pseudonyms to avoid the stigma of religion. But being a religion does not make you wrong or somehow invalid. I generally like to read about religions and I think religious thinkers have much to offer. Also, it is pretty hard to avoid such things when one reads philosophy because the inherent religious nature of philosophy.
I think this is worth discussing, because AFAIK philosophy, religion and esotericism are different things.
I have other criteria to suggest. All right, perhaps later.

 

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Because I have not asserted anything about a particular belief system or talked about metaphysical commitments does not inherently mean that I do not have any. We were discussing the issues raised in the OP, and for that reason, I do not want to meander down a road that does not really deal with the issue at hand. If you want to discuss your beliefs, start a thread with an issue that concerns your belief and talk about it there. I tend to gravitate towards philosophical discussions, as that is what I like to talk about. So if you post something in that arena, I'd be more than happy to talk about it.
OK. Just perhaps at some moment, try to summarize what you have discovered together, if you have discovered something, and if it was a purpose of all this to discover anything at all.

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Luminon wrote:No offense,

Luminon wrote:
No offense, but it's really mysterious to me, how you and Will can discuss things without actually caring about them, it's so.....strange, that it is almost fascinating, if it wouldn't be so tedious. It's like two permanently blind people would try to invent the notion of colors, but only philosophically. In that example, I don't know where the goal is, but I'm sure that it's not seeing the colors.

Sometimes you have to cover a wide array of items to converge on an idea...this is the nature of philosophy, as its hardly ever that an idea does not have broad implications on other ideas.

Luminon wrote:
I think this is worth discussing, because AFAIK philosophy, religion and esotericism are different things.

 

I'd probably say that religion and philosophy are different, but not mutually exclusive.

Luminon wrote:

OK. Just perhaps at some moment, try to summarize what you have discovered together, if you have discovered something, and if it was a purpose of all this to discover anything at all.

It would require a book to define what I think...maybe one day I will write it down, die, and some one will read it and think it's the greatest things since sliced cheese or get bored and not really care (hopefully the latter). I will gladly reveal things as needs be.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:The

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The synergistic relationship is the interdependence of ideas and the brain containing them. Ideas are not necessarily the the neurological paths that store, retrieve, and relate the ideas in our minds, because if that were the case, no one idea would ever be the same from person to person because we do not share the same brain.

But our ideas aren't the same from person to person, and it is because we don't share the same brain. You need only point to miscommunication to see that demonstrated. Even when clear communication takes place, each person has his or her own conception of something, omitting and including different details. Anecdotally, you can try that on any number of friends you like: just ask them to describe a mouse. You all know what the class of things qualifying as "mouse" is, but none of you will have the exact same conception.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not talking about physiology. It does a darn good job of explaining how information is stored in our brains and what happens when reasoning goes on etc. and that, at least in my evaluation, is not the issue, but more so with the relationship of ideas to the brain.

Then you're suggesting that ideas are made of something, but it's something indeterminate, that doesn't present itself physiologically?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I've read Dawkins work in cognitive studies and have dabbled in Dennett's work on cognitive studies as well, and it seems their work it is largely contingent on the success of analogies between information theory and genetics, and it seems to leave the heavy lifting to genetics.

You could read Oliver Sacks if you want a more entertaining version of neurology. Also more in keeping with the state of the art, frankly (and he just writes books for a lay audience). I wasn't even aware that Richard Dawkins (if that's the Dawkins you mean) was active in the neuro-sciences. I suppose it's predictable that he'd have a genetic take on it, though. Dennett's work being philosophical, I can see your interest there.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I think Dennett's version is more tenable, but honestly found it suffering the problems for which dualistic provide solutions.

I don't see that in your criticism. Your contention is that he's making an argument by analogue, so maybe you haven't presented your real criticism. I doubt you mean that dualism solves the problem of argument by analogue.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But at the same time, naturalistic explanations, as mentioned, rely on an analogy to genetics and preclude that information is strictly empirical, such that it naively eliminates the possibility that information may come from other sources. I'm not necessarily suggesting that there are other sources, but at the same time I'm not closed off to the possibility. But like I said, I'm not completely satisfied with anything I've read, but I'm okay with that.

Y'know, the conversation isn't going to get any less civil if you announce that you're a dualist. I'll still argue the point with you, but unless you suddenly become unhinged (unlikely), I can assure you that I consider these discussions entertaining diversions from staring at financial charts, and won't give you some kind of "Aha! I've got you! You're insane!" moment.

That said, I think we might have to define these "other sources" of information. I've argued that we have the ability to get some quality control with empirical observation, in that we're clear on the domain we're addressing. With "other sources", we're in a whole range of dubious material.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The empirical method...that is the fact that the empirical method discovers truth, but that it cannot empirically validate itself.

But philosophically speaking, it doesn't discover truth, it discovers falsehood. You've pointed that out yourself. That's the implication of Popper's work. We can determine if something is false, but not true. One can only say that the modern scientific method has yet to falsify itself utterly and completely.

That's largely why my method of discussion attacks ideas as falsifiable or not. If something is unobservable, then we are completely unable to falsify it. That means it enters a place of mystery to which no attributes can be applied. One cannot assume anything about the mysterious, because the danger is that our biases find their easiest home there.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
There may be infinite possibilities but I'm suggesting at least a single instance of an element that does not behave consistent with the rest of the observable universe, that's all.

Okay, a single thing that doesn't behave consistently with the rest of the observable universe. How many rules does the thing break, exactly?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

Is the credibility of the witness really an issue when, on one hand, we have three hundred years of hard physical evidence support consistent behavior of matter, and on the other, we have one person's claim that the consistent behavior of matter has become inconsistent temporarily? It's not just a little unlikely, it's extremely unlikely.

But it is not necessarily false either. Hume dealt wit this some, but his conclusions were not that such things do not happen, but that it would be irrational to think they happened.

Absolutely. We're not talking about exhaustive knowledge of a specific event, here. With the relationship between claims and belief, it's so unlikely that the behaviour of the physical world changed temporarily that to believe such things would put one closer to a crazy person than sane.

But for rational behaviour in a counter-example, take the recent discovery of high-temperature superconductivity (the 80s is sort-of recent): nobody believed the first researchers who discovered that superconductivity could occur above 30 K. The mathematical model just wouldn't have it. But evidence of the behaviour produced a quick turn-around, and then an explosion of interest.

So it really depends on the type of thing we're talking about, and the quality of evidence (which, of course, is limited to supporting an idea, and not proving that it is true).

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But if something was authentic, then one would be irrational to think otherwise.

The problem is determining authenticity without some kind of reasonable evidence.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
So it seems we're at an impasse if we take accept Hume and an actual event occurs. But If one were to produce cogent evidence for an extraordinary event, what would we do then?

We would have a new type of physical event! Just like high-temperature superconductivity above.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

In the case of a physicalist like me, it would take a simple falsification of my main assumption that the physical is, and other things have not adequately been shown to be.

But do realize that the qualifier for such an assumption has to do with cogency of demonstration, not with the lack demonstrations themselves.

Yes, absolutely. I wouldn't, for instance, consider a magic show as evidence for magic.

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HisWillness wrote:But our

HisWillness wrote:

 

But our ideas aren't the same from person to person, and it is because we don't share the same brain. You need only point to miscommunication to see that demonstrated. Even when clear communication takes place, each person has his or her own conception of something, omitting and including different details. Anecdotally, you can try that on any number of friends you like: just ask them to describe a mouse. You all know what the class of things qualifying as "mouse" is, but none of you will have the exact same conception.

 

 

I think this may be a confusion with problems with language rather than a problem with ideas. A mouse, whether it be of the pointing device variety or the animal variety, has to do with the word "mouse" having more than one meaning, not necessarily the content of the idea. If I say "mus musculus" or "house mouse", I'm communicating the same idea.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

Then you're suggesting that ideas are made of something, but it's something indeterminate, that doesn't present itself physiologically?

 

 

I'm not sure what ideas are made of, but I do not think it is merely physiologically but I'm not sure that it's independent of physiology either--a dilemma or sort.


 

HisWillness wrote:

 

You could read Oliver Sacks if you want a more entertaining version of neurology. Also more in keeping with the state of the art, frankly (and he just writes books for a lay audience). I wasn't even aware that Richard Dawkins (if that's the Dawkins you mean) was active in the neuro-sciences. I suppose it's predictable that he'd have a genetic take on it, though. Dennett's work being philosophical, I can see your interest there.

 

I don't see that in your criticism. Your contention is that he's making an argument by analogue, so maybe you haven't presented your real criticism. I doubt you mean that dualism solves the problem of argument by analogue.

 

 

Dawkins wrote on information theory (calling it memetics) and theory of the mind in his books The Selfish Gene and The Devil's Chaplain. He does not spend a great deal of time talking about physiology but building an analogy between genetics (his area of expertise) and information. The analogy breaks down on when one starts trying to identify and ground "memes", as it seems to suffer from many of the problems Platonism suffers from. Dennett picks up where Dawkins leaves off trying to ground ideas in behaviors, such as religion in altruistic behaviors reflected in animals. I'm not sure if this is not question begging, because to call something "altruistic" is to suppose meaning when he is trying to establish it, and likewise he seems to attempts to establish teleological means were there should not be any. Does this make sense?

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

Y'know, the conversation isn't going to get any less civil if you announce that you're a dualist. I'll still argue the point with you, but unless you suddenly become unhinged (unlikely), I can assure you that I consider these discussions entertaining diversions from staring at financial charts, and won't give you some kind of "Aha! I've got you! You're insane!" moment.

 

 

See my dilemma above if you want to know where I stand (or fall if you prefer). I think these are kind of fun, and a break from staring at computer code all day. Perhaps I am insane because I can't make up my mind.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

That said, I think we might have to define these "other sources" of information. I've argued that we have the ability to get some quality control with empirical observation, in that we're clear on the domain we're addressing. With "other sources", we're in a whole range of dubious material.

 

 

I'm willing to scrutinize it, but not because it does not fit into my preferred mode of epistemic evaluation. I generally take a philosophical, attempting to evaluate an idea from within its own framework. Now, this is not always possible, but at least it gets me reading about stuff and learning more.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

Okay, a single thing that doesn't behave consistently with the rest of the observable universe. How many rules does the thing break, exactly?

 

 

1 or more I suppose. But the appearance of breaking rules would not be the same thing as breaking rules.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

Absolutely. We're not talking about exhaustive knowledge of a specific event, here. With the relationship between claims and belief, it's so unlikely that the behaviour of the physical world changed temporarily that to believe such things would put one closer to a crazy person than sane.

 

But for rational behaviour in a counter-example, take the recent discovery of high-temperature superconductivity (the 80s is sort-of recent): nobody believed the first researchers who discovered that superconductivity could occur above 30 K. The mathematical model just wouldn't have it. But evidence of the behaviour produced a quick turn-around, and then an explosion of interest.

 

So it really depends on the type of thing we're talking about, and the quality of evidence (which, of course, is limited to supporting an idea, and not proving that it is true).

 

The problem is determining authenticity without some kind of reasonable evidence.

 

 

Right. Hume dismisses miracles (magic, if you please) by the credulity of the witnesses (i.e. uneducated people) and the few number of witnesses. He things it would be irrational for a more sophisticated person to believe such thinks happened based on the testimony of such things. I was suggesting in the face of good evidence and numerous, credible witnesses, what would we do. Would we still dismiss such things?


 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote: Right.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

 

Right. Hume dismisses miracles (magic, if you please) by the credulity of the witnesses (i.e. uneducated people) and the few number of witnesses. He things it would be irrational for a more sophisticated person to believe such thinks happened based on the testimony of such things. I was suggesting in the face of good evidence and numerous, credible witnesses, what would we do. Would we still dismiss such things?

 

 

Well, we might have something to investigate.  Dismiss such things?  No.  Magic, however, suffers from very serious problems that put it beyond the possibility of there being evidence or credible witnesses:  If there were evidence we could not call it magic and if there were credible witnesses they must have rather witnessed a natural phenomenon that could be investigated.  Is any of that problematic?


 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I think

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I think this may be a confusion with problems with language rather than a problem with ideas.

No, I'm talking about how people hold ideas in their heads. I'm not talking about equivocation (which would be the mistake you mention about confusing a live mouse with a pointing device). Different people hold the same idea in their heads differently. Get someone to describe a mouse, and everyone will pick different details to give you first, and the range and variety of details will show the disparity.

We may call the idea of the mouse the same, but you were talking about how the ideas are held in the brain. I would contend that they're not stored the same way in each brain, and the proposition that they are stored exactly the same leaves a question of "how" that is not solved by an "immaterial" idea.

That's apart from the fact that "immaterial" is incoherent to communicate.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not sure what ideas are made of, but I do not think it is merely physiologically but I'm not sure that it's independent of physiology either--a dilemma or sort.

It's not really a dilemma if you're just saying you don't know. "Merely phisiological" leaves the question "what else, then?" What other than physiological?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Dawkins wrote on information theory (calling it memetics) and theory of the mind in his books The Selfish Gene and The Devil's Chaplain. He does not spend a great deal of time talking about physiology but building an analogy between genetics (his area of expertise) and information.

Okay, it's no wonder it's not a good explanation to you, philosophically. It's not a philosophical explanation. Dennett's ideas I can see, but again, if he's making an argument from analogue, then it fails, and we don't have to consider it. But just because two authors (really, one) haven't given you a naturalistic neurology, that doesn't mean the naturalistic or physicalist view of supervenience of the mind to the brain is invalid.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
See my dilemma above if you want to know where I stand (or fall if you prefer). I think these are kind of fun, and a break from staring at computer code all day. Perhaps I am insane because I can't make up my mind.

I don't think indecision can be called insane.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm willing to scrutinize it, but not because it does not fit into my preferred mode of epistemic evaluation.

So what IS your preferred mode of epistemic evaluation?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
1 or more I suppose. But the appearance of breaking rules would not be the same thing as breaking rules.

Of course not. Just like a magic show isn't evidence of magic.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Right. Hume dismisses miracles (magic, if you please) by the credulity of the witnesses (i.e. uneducated people) and the few number of witnesses. He things it would be irrational for a more sophisticated person to believe such thinks happened based on the testimony of such things. I was suggesting in the face of good evidence and numerous, credible witnesses, what would we do. Would we still dismiss such things?

Legally, no. Scientifically, yes. Witnesses are notoriously unreliable, and can be easily misled, regardless of their level of sophistication.

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'Information Theory' is

'Information Theory' is not really what Dawkins was referring to by 'memetics'. There is arguably a quantifiable amount of information in a particular meme, but this would apply to literally any statement or proposition, and is not directly relevant to the central idea of memetics.

It is about how some ideas or sets of related ideas come to acquire some degree of coherence as a concept which lends itself to being passed on from mind to mind without significant change, by analogy with a gene which is passed on to descendants of an organism. This in turn allows a version of the Darwinian algorithm to come into play, allowing 'memes' to develop and evolve and persist in an evolutionary process somewhat separate from biological (genetic) evolution.

So memes do not have to be beneficial to the members of the species whose minds they inhabit. They do not rely on biological reproductive fitness to 'survive', rather the degree to which they appeal to and so lodge in the mind, and the degree to which they encourage the individual to pass it on.

 

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HisWillness wrote:

No, I'm talking about how people hold ideas in their heads. I'm not talking about equivocation (which would be the mistake you mention about confusing a live mouse with a pointing device). Different people hold the same idea in their heads differently. Get someone to describe a mouse, and everyone will pick different details to give you first, and the range and variety of details will show the disparity.

However one describes, arguably they are describing the same sort of thing because the object of description, in this case a mouse, is the same thing. This gets back to one of my earlier contentions concerning the OP, which stated that nothing would be definable and everything would collapse into meaninglessness if this were allowable, which is why I'm all for spending time defining ideas so we can discuss them with being as two ships passing in the night.

HisWillness wrote:

We may call the idea of the mouse the same, but you were talking about how the ideas are held in the brain. I would contend that they're not stored the same way in each brain, and the proposition that they are stored exactly the same leaves a question of "how" that is not solved by an "immaterial" idea.

That's apart from the fact that "immaterial" is incoherent to communicate.

Perhaps it is unsolvable, but I do not think it is a problem immaterial being incoherent, but the paradoxical relations between such things.

HisWillness wrote:

It's not really a dilemma if you're just saying you don't know. "Merely phisiological" leaves the question "what else, then?" What other than physiological?

If I assert "2+3=5" and you do to, then we are either asserting the same idea, or two separate ideas with identical content with the only distinction between the two is the brain containing them. The former has to be independent of the brains, while the latter is not. The latter would, however, make it impossible to converge on the idea that 2+3=5 because an intrinsic part of this sort of idea is the brains containing it. But if the content of the idea is really the idea, an not the idea itself, then it is not necessarily part of your brains. But then suppose we both cease to exist. In this case there are no brains to contain the idea, and it dies.

HisWillness wrote:

Okay, it's no wonder it's not a good explanation to you, philosophically. It's not a philosophical explanation. Dennett's ideas I can see, but again, if he's making an argument from analogue, then it fails, and we don't have to consider it. But just because two authors (really, one) haven't given you a naturalistic neurology, that doesn't mean the naturalistic or physicalist view of supervenience of the mind to the brain is invalid.

 I'm not suggesting that it is. I just have not found an explanation that is satisfactory from any philosophical school.
HisWillness wrote:

So what IS your preferred mode of epistemic evaluation?

Epistemically, I'm a primarily foundationalist of sort, and hold to a correspondence theory of knowledge. The particular manifestation of this is largely contingent upon what I'm dealing with. For science, I use scientific empiricism. For history, historical methods. For mathematics, mathematical methods etc. Secondarily, I use modes like coherence and pragamatism modes too as I generally like systems to be internally consistent and useful too.
HisWillness wrote:

Legally, no. Scientifically, yes. Witnesses are notoriously unreliable, and can be easily misled, regardless of their level of sophistication.

I was asking about witnesses and evidence, that's all. Witnesses can be unreliable, but evidence too can be misinterpreted. The hermeneutics applied to evidence can be as much a problem as witnesses can be.
 

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BobSpence1 wrote:This in

BobSpence1 wrote:

This in turn allows a version of the Darwinian algorithm to come into play, allowing 'memes' to develop and evolve and persist in an evolutionary process somewhat separate from biological (genetic) evolution.

I like the idea because of the analogy it has to evolution, which has lots of explanatory power. But I think the analogy breaks down on memes themselves.

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You can thank my nephews for

You can thank my nephews for the wait, I did reply twice already.

HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:
I'd ask you to scrap the supervenience model and consider the essential attributes of matter as a complete description of intellect.

How do we avoid the problem of that being a simple case of projection?

By the usual methods of predicting and testing, no doubt. We'd retain the standard that says we can ascertain an objective property when it demonstrates independent momentum in a controlled experiment.

HisWillness wrote:

What I mean is, when we decide that the universe is intellect, and we also differentiate between a horse's intellect and ours? Is this a radical departure from the common definition of intellect?

Yeah, it's quite a departure from that. We'd not be invoking terms like "horse's intellect" at all since without a supervenience model (or any kind of duality for that matter) no such thing should exist. A horse wouldn't have an intellect, this is a dualistic concept, a horse and a specific modulation of space-time interaction (with parameters near those of humans, hence lending to our proclivity to detect its level of interaction and label it similarly to ours) would be terms referencing the same thing.

 

His Willness wrote:

But that appears to be an issue of the meaning of "intellect".

Indeed it is.

Even in the common conception of intellect, though, it essentially boils down to an organisation of interactions. We have hitherto considered biological organisation as the only organisation in which discrimination, inference or rationality is possible, ie we have only considered biological substrates for the phenomenon of consciousness.

If we consider that this is because the organisation of interaction in a biological field is specifically modulated in the context of time and space, it becomes apparent that we consider biological intellect as the only intellect because it is the only organisation of interactions around a coordinate which exists under parameters similar to those of our own organisation. Or in a more accessible sense, we can say for example, a rock thinks "way to far ahead" or the universe thinks "too far afield" for us to notice it thinking at all.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:
In the context of relativity "the universe" is not ordered in time, evidently it is only perception which is ordered this way as a proportion of c.

And our perception is lined up with entropy. What can we make of that? (It's not a leading question, I actually don't have an answer.)

There is an answer to that, I'm sure.

For me, I am considering a point source of specific momentum as the fundamental identity of any individual, then percieved entropy is like a ripple effect arising from the vorticity where the point source meets the fluid dynamics of the extended universe.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Oh, I see. Okay. And did you mean time direction by that?

Definitely. Time direction and also it's magnitude. Both quantities are peculiar to local kinetics, so they are highly subjective. We can't take our perception of time on earth or anywhere as an indication of what time is universally.

HisWillness wrote:

 How would we apply "extended knowledge"? I'm not sure what that means.

I just mean extended as in beyond ignorance, knowledge we have of which we were previously unaware. Nothing more than that.

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Thomathy wrote:Well, we

Thomathy wrote:

Well, we might have something to investigate.  Dismiss such things?  No.  Magic, however, suffers from very serious problems that put it beyond the possibility of there being evidence or credible witnesses:  If there were evidence we could not call it magic and if there were credible witnesses they must have rather witnessed a natural phenomenon that could be investigated.  Is any of that problematic?

I used to play, to quote an old friend, "satanic nerd games" like  Dungeons and Dragons. In the game I would cast fireball spells. Suppose I were able to actually do this. Fireballs occur naturally, but this one was the product of magic. There would be no discernable difference between the effects of my magic fireball and the naturally occuring fireball. The discernment between magic and a natural phanomenon would then be contingent upon the witnesses.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I used to

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

I used to play, to quote an old friend, "satanic nerd games" like  Dungeons and Dragons. In the game I would cast fireball spells. Suppose I were able to actually do this. Fireballs occur naturally, but this one was the product of magic. There would be no discernable difference between the effects of my magic fireball and the naturally occuring fireball. The discernment between magic and a natural phanomenon would then be contingent upon the witnesses.

If the discernment is contingent upon the witness and the difference between the effects is indiscernible, then I wonder about the difference in the phenomena themselves.  In any case if the phenomenon occurs, then it is necessarily natural.  Calling it magic and meaning what magic has hence forth meant would only be playing word games.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:However

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
However one describes, arguably they are describing the same sort of thing because the object of description, in this case a mouse, is the same thing.

No, it's the same type of thing. Keep in mind that we're talking about how people store ideas in their heads. They must do so in an approximating fashion, because storing information about every molecule of even the same mouse in our minds would be impossible for a human being. So we approximate. In the case of the general concept of "mouse", the approximation narrows the range of attributes.

So when you said earlier that we manage to have the same ideas in our heads despite not having the same brains, and that pointed to ideas being somehow separate from the brain, it's easy to demonstrate that it's simply not the case. Our approximations are easily shown to be different.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
This gets back to one of my earlier contentions concerning the OP, which stated that nothing would be definable and everything would collapse into meaninglessness if this were allowable

I wasn't talking about physical things in the OP, so it wasn't a slippery slope towards "everything" collapsing into meaningless. I was talking about things that have no reason to be considered interactive parts of the physical world. The idea that we can even discuss those things is suspect, as the way we form our ideas relies heavily upon our experience of physical interaction.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Perhaps it is unsolvable, but I do not think it is a problem immaterial being incoherent, but the paradoxical relations between such things.

Except that "immaterial" is incoherent. There's no paradox between something that is determinate and something that is indeterminate. We can determine the behaviour of matter, but there's nothing that we can say about the "immaterial" that won't be baseless nonsense, because we don't even have a way to ground a priori knowledge in something completely mysterious. A posteriori knowledge is more obviously lacking.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If I assert "2+3=5" and you do to, then we are either asserting the same idea, or two separate ideas with identical content with the only distinction between the two is the brain containing them. The former has to be independent of the brains, while the latter is not.

Not so fast. You're suggesting that the way we communicate that idea IS the idea itself. In your scenario, we both make a mathematical assertion using our shared convention for asserting such things. That says nothing about how the idea is stored in our heads, which is what we're discussing.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The latter would, however, make it impossible to converge on the idea that 2+3=5 because an intrinsic part of this sort of idea is the brains containing it. But if the content of the idea is really the idea, an not the idea itself, then it is not necessarily part of your brains. But then suppose we both cease to exist. In this case there are no brains to contain the idea, and it dies.

If the two brains needed to exist to keep the idea going, then the idea depends on the brains, does it not? The argument that ideas are things in and of themselves would require that they could exist outside of communication. Communication, after all, is a physical act.

HisWillness wrote:
Epistemically, I'm a primarily foundationalist of sort, and hold to a correspondence theory of knowledge. The particular manifestation of this is largely contingent upon what I'm dealing with. For science, I use scientific empiricism. For history, historical methods. For mathematics, mathematical methods etc. Secondarily, I use modes like coherence and pragamatism modes too as I generally like systems to be internally consistent and useful too.

How do you reconcile a correspondence theory of knowledge with Popper's falsification? It seems like on the correspondence theory (or at least many forms of it -- you haven't been specific) Popper would be creating an asymmetry with his non-commutative truth value.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I was asking about witnesses and evidence, that's all. Witnesses can be unreliable, but evidence too can be misinterpreted. The hermeneutics applied to evidence can be as much a problem as witnesses can be.

Both witnesses and hermeneutics are unreliable from a philosophically evidence-based point of view. Not "can be", but "are". And notoriously so. 30 or so witnesses watched David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear. Obviously it didn't, but they would have to testify that it did.

As for hermeneutics, Heidegger and Gadamer hit the nail on the head by arguing that a text was an attempt to communicate the experience of the writer to the reader (broadly speaking). Thus, in matters of truth and falsity, hermeneutics is largely unhelpful. We can form a context, but not necessarily a measure of reliability. That's unavailable to us, making historical documents a step down from archeological finds, which are themselves generally incomplete.

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HisWillness wrote:No, it's

HisWillness wrote:

No, it's the same type of thing. Keep in mind that we're talking about how people store ideas in their heads. They must do so in an approximating fashion, because storing information about every molecule of even the same mouse in our minds would be impossible for a human being. So we approximate. In the case of the general concept of "mouse", the approximation narrows the range of attributes.

So when you said earlier that we manage to have the same ideas in our heads despite not having the same brains, and that pointed to ideas being somehow separate from the brain, it's easy to demonstrate that it's simply not the case. Our approximations are easily shown to be different.

I do not think that works, because in our whittling of attributes to converge on an idea, the general concept would have to be independent of the brain containing it because it would have to be an abstracted from the molecules in the brains.

HisWillness wrote:

I wasn't talking about physical things in the OP, so it wasn't a slippery slope towards "everything" collapsing into meaningless. I was talking about things that have no reason to be considered interactive parts of the physical world. The idea that we can even discuss those things is suspect, as the way we form our ideas relies heavily upon our experience of physical interaction.

Right...I was talking about one of my contentions, not your OP. I was asserting that a slippery slope forms when one begins to define even physical things, which unless there is a convergence, then it can slip into meaninglessness. I suggested that perhaps we deal with definitions that were "good enough" for our purposes.

HisWillness wrote:

Except that "immaterial" is incoherent. There's no paradox between something that is determinate and something that is indeterminate. We can determine the behaviour of matter, but there's nothing that we can say about the "immaterial" that won't be baseless nonsense, because we don't even have a way to ground a priori knowledge in something completely mysterious. A posteriori knowledge is more obviously lacking.

I'm not trying to ground a priori truth, rather only assert what is necessary in order to make sense of the world that I presume to exist. I think I have to do this in before I can even begin to assert anything about the world.

HisWillness wrote:

Not so fast. You're suggesting that the way we communicate that idea IS the idea itself. In your scenario, we both make a mathematical assertion using our shared convention for asserting such things. That says nothing about how the idea is stored in our heads, which is what we're discussing.

I'm not talking about communicating the idea, but merely making the conjecture in one's brain.

HisWillness wrote:

If the two brains needed to exist to keep the idea going, then the idea depends on the brains, does it not? The argument that ideas are things in and of themselves would require that they could exist outside of communication. Communication, after all, is a physical act.

I'm suggesting the idea only needs one brain to exist, but it exists independent of the number of brains, so any given brain may contain the idea, but is itself not necessary for the idea to persist, save one brain. That creates a paradox.

HisWillness wrote:

How do you reconcile a correspondence theory of knowledge with Popper's falsification? It seems like on the correspondence theory (or at least many forms of it -- you haven't been specific) Popper would be creating an asymmetry with his non-commutative truth value.

Popper's concern, as you've mentioned in the past, is not about the discovering new truth but eliminating truth claims that are not true, but this is restricted to empirical methods. As far as I can tell, your concern with non-communtative truth values is outside the scope of Popper's falsification because empirical observation is limited to a posteriori truth claims. This is not really asymmetry but a limit, and generally why I consider empirical modes a sub-discipline of a more holistic epistemology.

HisWillness wrote:

Both witnesses and hermeneutics are unreliable from a philosophically evidence-based point of view. Not "can be", but "are". And notoriously so. 30 or so witnesses watched David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear. Obviously it didn't, but they would have to testify that it did.

As for hermeneutics, Heidegger and Gadamer hit the nail on the head by arguing that a text was an attempt to communicate the experience of the writer to the reader (broadly speaking). Thus, in matters of truth and falsity, hermeneutics is largely unhelpful. We can form a context, but not necessarily a measure of reliability. That's unavailable to us, making historical documents a step down from archeological finds, which are themselves generally incomplete.

If witnesses and hermeneutics are unreliable, then evidence itself is unreliable, because inevitably evidence, not just events, is hermeneutically filtered by those examining it.
 

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Thomathy wrote:If the

Thomathy wrote:
If the discernment is contingent upon the witness and the difference between the effects is indiscernible, then I wonder about the difference in the phenomena themselves.  In any case if the phenomenon occurs, then it is necessarily natural.  Calling it magic and meaning what magic has hence forth meant would only be playing word games.
The difference would be cause...one cause is natural, the other non-natural, namely magic.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:
If the discernment is contingent upon the witness and the difference between the effects is indiscernible, then I wonder about the difference in the phenomena themselves.  In any case if the phenomenon occurs, then it is necessarily natural.  Calling it magic and meaning what magic has hence forth meant would only be playing word games.
The difference would be cause...one cause is natural, the other non-natural, namely magic.

 

 

Pardon?  How can it be magic?  Can it be proven to be non-natural?  How can something non-natural happen in the first place?  The universe is natural and all that is within it is natural.  Anything that takes place within it must be natural.  What exactly would 'non-natural' be?  And how could we even begin to identify it and why would we call something that happens in this universe magic if it happens in this universe?  I'm afraid that this is exactly what I meant by playing word games.  Calling it magic and meaning what magic has hence forth meant would only be playing word games.  Further, you're begging the question or otherwise are engaged in some circular reasoning.  '[...] [N]on-natural, namely magic.' is quite meaningless unless you propose to identify this supposed non-natural/magic cause.


 

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"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Thomathy wrote:What exactly

Thomathy wrote:

What exactly would 'non-natural' be?

I'm trying to wade through the barrage of questions. I think this is really what you are asking.

But really,  what is so hard to understand about it? Non-natural causes would be causes that originate from non-natural agents...gods, demon, pixies, djinns, some sort of spiritual force channeled by some mere mortal. If you want to use your definition of natural, perhaps these entities exist in another plane of existence. I can imagine any number of things. Pick one. Imaginations are quite good at coming up with ideas that are not actual. I never said it actually had to exist, as it was purely  counterfactual.

One things pertaining to the OP and this too, if one wanted to, one could turn the table on the one crying, "meaningless" saying any sort of attempt to rebut the claim of a god or pink unicorn or fairy is meaningless because such a person does not understand what he is talking about. So ultimately, I think such sort of discussions are zero sum.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I do not

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I do not think that works, because in our whittling of attributes to converge on an idea, the general concept would have to be independent of the brain containing it because it would have to be an abstracted from the molecules in the brains.

The very fact that we're having a mis-communication about this point is illustrative of how important communication is in forming ideas.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

Except that "immaterial" is incoherent. There's no paradox between something that is determinate and something that is indeterminate. We can determine the behaviour of matter, but there's nothing that we can say about the "immaterial" that won't be baseless nonsense, because we don't even have a way to ground a priori knowledge in something completely mysterious. A posteriori knowledge is more obviously lacking.

I'm not trying to ground a priori truth, rather only assert what is necessary in order to make sense of the world that I presume to exist. I think I have to do this in before I can even begin to assert anything about the world.

I'm not sure how that's an answer to "immaterial is incoherent, so there's no paradox."

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

I'm suggesting the idea only needs one brain to exist, but it exists independent of the number of brains, so any given brain may contain the idea, but is itself not necessary for the idea to persist, save one brain. That creates a paradox.

It's still only a paradox if you believe that ideas exist outside of brains with the ability to communicate. If you don't, then there's no paradox. You haven't really shown the necessity for ideas outside of brains anyway. People have brains, and can share ideas through communication. That's surely enough equipment to provide an explanation for the phenomenon of ideas. Having the idea take some imagined "non-form" seems like an unnecessary step.

ubuntuanyone wrote:
As far as I can tell, your concern with non-communtative truth values is outside the scope of Popper's falsification because empirical observation is limited to a posteriori truth claims. This is not really asymmetry but a limit, and generally why I consider empirical modes a sub-discipline of a more holistic epistemology.

So your concern is a priori (or self-evident) truths? How does one have an a priori epistemology? You're confusing me, because with Popper "limited" to a posteriori truth claims, you seem to leave only a priori open, and there, you have nothing but definitionally obvious truths. Is that, then, a statement about definition? It's unclear.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If witnesses and hermeneutics are unreliable, then evidence itself is unreliable, because inevitably evidence, not just events, is hermeneutically filtered by those examining it.

First of all, hermeneutics refers to textual analysis, and historically to biblical analysis. It's fair to say that the process of hermeneutics is unreliable, because it's so contentious and erratic. To say that it's reliable would be to imply consistent results, and those certainly don't happen.

Likewise with witnesses, who are unreliable for the same reason: inconsistency in people's ability to report without confusion, forgetting, false memory, or bias. That's the whole point of creating a careful test!

Now you're talking about perception and its relationship with memory and thought. That's not quite the same as a discussion of what we mean by "witness" and "hermeneutics". A witness is a casual observer of an event deemed significant. Casual in the sense that they were not setting out to observe the event, nor were they prepared to observe it. Witnesses are unreliable because their circumstances are stacked against them. They do not produce consistent results. 

The scientific method does produce consistent results, so it's not merely being a witness. By saying that witnesses are unreliable, that doesn't cut down all evidence, because not all evidence is equal.

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HisWillness wrote:The very

HisWillness wrote:

The very fact that we're having a mis-communication about this point is illustrative of how important communication is in forming ideas.

No doubt...but we cannot say that an idea and the way an idea is communicated are the same thing.
HisWillness wrote:

I'm not sure how that's an answer to "immaterial is incoherent, so there's no paradox."

I was answering the part concerning grounding for a priori knowledge. My contention here was answered elsewhere I believe, in that an idea can exist independent of the brain containing it.

HisWillness wrote:

It's still only a paradox if you believe that ideas exist outside of brains with the ability to communicate. If you don't, then there's no paradox. You haven't really shown the necessity for ideas outside of brains anyway. People have brains, and can share ideas through communication. That's surely enough equipment to provide an explanation for the phenomenon of ideas. Having the idea take some imagined "non-form" seems like an unnecessary step.

It's not that an idea exists outside a brain, but that an idea exists independently of many brains yet needs a brain to exist. Does that make sense?

HisWillness wrote:

So your concern is a priori (or self-evident) truths? How does one have an a priori epistemology? You're confusing me, because with Popper "limited" to a posteriori truth claims, you seem to leave only a priori open, and there, you have nothing but definitionally obvious truths. Is that, then, a statement about definition? It's unclear.

Yes, my concern is with a priori truth. A priori truth is what you said, "definitionally obvious truths" and its byproducts--truths formed based on these "definitionally obvious truths". Because Popper's concern had to do with empirical induction, he promoted falsification has a mode to eliminate ad hoc explanations, such as explanations invoking a god-of-the-gaps explanation.

HisWillness wrote:

First of all, hermeneutics refers to textual analysis, and historically to biblical analysis. It's fair to say that the process of hermeneutics is unreliable, because it's so contentious and erratic. To say that it's reliable would be to imply consistent results, and those certainly don't happen.

Likewise with witnesses, who are unreliable for the same reason: inconsistency in people's ability to report without confusion, forgetting, false memory, or bias. That's the whole point of creating a careful test!

Traditionally, hermeneutics have been applied to textual analysis, but more recently the study of interpretation has been applied more broadly to all sorts of information sciences. Indeed testing should eliminate such things and I'm all for careful tests, but they nevertheless introduce their own problems: faulty premises, small sample sizes, sample bias, false conclusions, hasty generalizations, and bias in interpretation of results. Additionally one does not always have the luxury of applying tests, such as in the case of historical events. The one advantage tests have is that they are reproducible, which events are not. For any event, all one has is post hoc data pertaining to that event in the form of witnesses and effects. I'm not touting witnesses as an alternative to testing, just realizing that not everything can be tested.
HisWillness wrote:

Now you're talking about perception and its relationship with memory and thought. That's not quite the same as a discussion of what we mean by "witness" and "hermeneutics". A witness is a casual observer of an event deemed significant. Casual in the sense that they were not setting out to observe the event, nor were they prepared to observe it. Witnesses are unreliable because their circumstances are stacked against them. They do not produce consistent results.

The scientific method does produce consistent results, so it's not merely being a witness. By saying that witnesses are unreliable, that doesn't cut down all evidence, because not all evidence is equal.

A group of witnesses independently reporting a given event, even if they are only marginally reliable (suppose they only told the truth half the time) can be remarkably reliable. The probability of six such persons (some cite this as smallest reliable sample size) independently reporting an event is less %2. Likewise, a friend of mine in the legal profession questions the validity of witnesses who all report an event the same way because it tends to indicated that they were getting their information from a single source.

I'm not cutting down evidence per se, but contending that evidence is subject to interpretations (that is hermeneutics are being applied to it), and therefore subject to the same problems witnesses are subject to.
 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

What exactly would 'non-natural' be?

I'm trying to wade through the barrage of questions. I think this is really what you are asking.

But really,  what is so hard to understand about it? Non-natural causes would be causes that originate from non-natural agents...gods, demon, pixies, djinns, some sort of spiritual force channeled by some mere mortal. If you want to use your definition of natural, perhaps these entities exist in another plane of existence. I can imagine any number of things. Pick one. Imaginations are quite good at coming up with ideas that are not actual. I never said it actually had to exist, as it was purely  counterfactual.

One things pertaining to the OP and this too, if one wanted to, one could turn the table on the one crying, "meaningless" saying any sort of attempt to rebut the claim of a god or pink unicorn or fairy is meaningless because such a person does not understand what he is talking about. So ultimately, I think such sort of discussions are zero sum.

Forgive the ...barrage of questions.

Of course we can imagine any number of things that aren't real.  That's relevant and I'll think I'll bring this back to that.  I would would say that attempting to rebut the claims about something we don't (or can't) know is impossible to do.  We can attack the propositions of the those claims, however, as unsound or invalid or illogical.  About something we don't understand, however, a rebuttal might not be meaningless.  Obviously what we don't understand is not necessarily that which we do not know, where what we don't know we can't understand.  Which, I think brings me back to the relevance of the imagination.  Many people imagine things to be real which aren't and yet believe those imaginings to be real.  I don't believe those people.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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 A cynic could say that

 A cynic could say that naturalism is self-proving.  Someone comes along and says, "Everything that exists is natural."  From then on, a non-naturalist can't possibly beat a naturalist, since the naturalist has just defined himself into truth..

This would be a valid criticism except for the fact that naturalism is not a premise but a conclusion.  It's not some arbitrary given at the beginning of an argument.  It's a conclusion based on the seemingly inevitable progression from axiom to ontology.  At the beginning, we admit our own existence and are immediately led to the conclusion that we exist as something.  When we observe that we appear not to be the only thing in existence, we must reconcile existence of "the other" with what we know of ourselves.  As far as I know, it is pragmatically impossible to think of "other" as existing while not "being something."  In other words, all that exists exists as something.

From here, we can jump to naturalism if we like, although it will be a somewhat watered down version.  We can say that the word "something" is too multi-purpose for the task at hand.  We want a specific word to describe the quality of existing as something.  We decide arbitrarily that we will use the word "natural."  Now, we are naturalists.  We believe that everything which exists exists as something, and we are not presupposing anything.  We've been through the exercises and failed to describe how something could exist without being something.  We've chosen a name to label the class we've discovered (Existing Things).

Those who would claim the existence of gods, djinns, and dark dwarves can function perfectly well within this version of naturalism.  We have made no claims about the nature of matter/energy/space/time.  We've simply demanded that anything which exists exists as something.  It is now up to the claimant to support his claim.  If he claims that demons exist "in another dimension," that's fine.  Now he has to demonstrate or define existence in another dimension.

The problem, of course, and the real reason people hide behind the natural/supernatural dichotomy is that dodging naturalism seems to be the easiest way to assert a thing's existence without giving it a thing to be.  It allows category errors and conflations to be passed right on through without objection. 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:No

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
No doubt...but we cannot say that an idea and the way an idea is communicated are the same thing.

Of course not. The way we communicate an idea and the way it's stored in the brain are different.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I was answering the part concerning grounding for a priori knowledge. My contention here was answered elsewhere I believe, in that an idea can exist independent of the brain containing it.

That's a bit sneaky, though, because it begs the question. "The" brain containing it is the problem. Your assumption is still that we have one identical idea, shared between people, when there's no way to demonstrate that to be true. Even if we were to deal with the idea of a triangle, which is a simple enough shape, there's no guaranteeing that the shape will be stored in the exact same part of the brain, or in exactly the same way. The idea of the triangle needs a living brain or a method of communication to preserve it.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
It's not that an idea exists outside a brain, but that an idea exists independently of many brains yet needs a brain to exist. Does that make sense?

Of course. But the idea doesn't exist anywhere outside of brains or communication. So presenting The Idea as a separate thing, rather than as a phenomenon of communication, is misleading.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Yes, my concern is with a priori truth. A priori truth is what you said, "definitionally obvious truths" and its byproducts--truths formed based on these "definitionally obvious truths". Because Popper's concern had to do with empirical induction, he promoted falsification has a mode to eliminate ad hoc explanations, such as explanations invoking a god-of-the-gaps explanation.

Okay, so what is it that you propose we accept as an a priori truth? What did you want to explore definitionally?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Traditionally, hermeneutics have been applied to textual analysis, but more recently the study of interpretation has been applied more broadly to all sorts of information sciences.

You're going to have to break down "information sciences" for me. It makes me think of statistics, probability, and information theory, by extension.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Indeed testing should eliminate such things and I'm all for careful tests, but they nevertheless introduce their own problems: faulty premises, small sample sizes, sample bias, false conclusions, hasty generalizations, and bias in interpretation of results.

That's exactly why repeatability is such an important part of testing. A lack of repeatability makes those things stand out like a sore thumb. Also, those problems you bring up aren't actually symptom of careful testing, but of our tendency toward bias and error.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Additionally one does not always have the luxury of applying tests, such as in the case of historical events.

In that case, one can only have historical interpretation, and not scientific fact. By scientific fact, we mean a phenomenon which is repeatable, reliable, and subject to intense scrutiny. Historians, on the other hand, have to do the best they can with what they have. Often, that isn't much.

Then, there's the controversy of ideas, the "hermeneutics", if you like, and nothing is even close to certain. In terms of reliability, historical evidence doesn't compete well with scientific evidence.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
A group of witnesses independently reporting a given event, even if they are only marginally reliable (suppose they only told the truth half the time) can be remarkably reliable. The probability of six such persons (some cite this as smallest reliable sample size) independently reporting an event is less %2.

Before using statistical percentages, we would have to determine exactly what the pertinent details of the event were, and whether they were or were not noticed by the witnesses. Reliability is highly subjective to the person asking the questions. That's why witnesses are unreliable. Telling the "same story" isn't entirely quantifiable. I'm not sure where you got a sample size of 6 (50 is the normal low for a population in psychological statistics, and even that's pushing it). The 2% you gave is a bit of a naive calculation, given that you're arbitrarilly considering that they may have told the truth 50% in the past.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Likewise, a friend of mine in the legal profession questions the validity of witnesses who all report an event the same way because it tends to indicated that they were getting their information from a single source.

Again, legal evidence is not equivalent to scientific evidence. In court, witnesses still count more than forensics, despite what you may see on television (ask your friend), so the comparison doesn't quite work. I'll grant you that either way, witnesses are still unreliable (whether they tell the "same story" or whether their stories diverge).

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not cutting down evidence per se, but contending that evidence is subject to interpretations (that is hermeneutics are being applied to it), and therefore subject to the same problems witnesses are subject to.

If you're equating scientific evidence with historical or legal evidence, then you're off base. Maybe in sociology or in psychological surveys, or other social sciences, but you can't compare the evidence gathered in physical chemistry to that of even archaeology without slipping off your horse.

If the rigour of scientific inquiry is unfamiliar to you, I'd suggest picking up a scientific journal of the physical sciences. The deep precision with which phenomena are observed repeatedly makes for a completely different quality of evidence than histories or texts.

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Assessing the reliability of

Assessing the reliability of witnesses requires much more than just observing how much they agree with each other. If the nature of what was observed is something which is subject to some common limitation of human perception, or is affected by some widely shared pre-conception which will make it more likely that they will match some less than clearly observed event with that pre-conception, then the agreement may have little or nothing to do with shared accurate observation and memory, but more with shared beliefs, preconceptions, and/or limitations of perception.

Even the legal profession acknowledges this - if a particular person has been widely publicized in the media in association with some particular sort of crime, then witnesses are far more likely to misidentify someone with vaguely similar features as the person they 'saw' committing a similar crime.

 

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