Ontological Silliness

HisWillness
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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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HisWillness wrote: The way

HisWillness wrote:

The way we communicate an idea and the way it's stored in the brain are different.

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.

 

If the ideas are indiscernible, then they are the same idea, which I am saying is necessary for convergence and meaningful discussions. On the other hand, ideas are contingent entities--that is they need a brain in order to exist.

HisWillness wrote:

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.

I'm not saying it is a separate thing per se, and for that reason it seems paradoxical to me.

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

Logic, mathematics, some basic assumptions like the world we think exists actually exists, other minds exist, I exist. How's that for starters

HisWillness wrote:

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

Information science concerns itself with how information is exchanged so is by definition interdisciplinary. It involves your aforementioned disciplines plus a plethora of others were information is gathered, organized, and distributed. Hermeneutics are a part of these processes.

HisWillness wrote:

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.

I'd agree, but the same can be said for reporting as well.

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

HisWillness wrote:

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.

I think history is a fruitful field as historians can study the lasting effects and recorded accounts of particular events and learn a plethora of information. It may be the case that it is all we have to go by on many things.

HisWillness wrote:

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.

I'm not trying to compare the two because they are, in most cases, apples and oranges. If historical evidence does not compete, what can one say of historical scientific evidence? I try not to promote one and forsake the other, as I think a holistic epistemology requires both.

HisWillness wrote:

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.

I'm not suggesting that it is quantifiable, but putting such things is quantifiable terms illustrates the point. Even some arbitrarily low number can be reliable given enough witnesses. We can say with a great deal of confidence that some event happened if a plethora of witnesses independently reporting that event. Now, this does not mean the event actually happened. I'm suggesting that such testimonies plus the lasting effects of the event can help one have a clear understanding of what might have happened.

HisWillness wrote:

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).

I'm not suggesting legal evidence is scientific, but rather that testimonies for some event are historical evidence. I do not bring up by legal friend's analysis for legal purposes, but to suggest that 10 people telling of an event 10 different ways is probably more credible than 10 people telling the exact same story.

HisWillness wrote:

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.

Evidences of a different kind...right. Archaeologist use different methods that laboratory sciences do. The one thing laboratory science cannot do is test events that have already occurred, which denies repeatability. If this is the case, then another method is needed.

HisWillness wrote:

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.

I've read scientific journals...yeah...they aren't very fun, and they are painstakingly precise. My physics professor in college made us write such things for every lab we did. My reports would be pages upon pages describing my research before hand, the hypothesis I wanted to test, the procedure on how to test it, a description of the actual procedure itself, the results, an analysis of the results, conclusions from the results, and further possible hypothesis. (My biology professors were more lax, but at the same time, biology was much more popular and they'd have to read all those reports!) I don't regret having done them, because it helped me more appreciate the work put into scientific investigation.

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Thomathy wrote:Which, I

Thomathy wrote:


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.

Good. I hope I don't either.

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Hambydammit wrote: A cynic

Hambydammit wrote:

 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.  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. 

This would be a broad definition of naturalism but I'm not sure anyone could such a definition without question begging. One cannot call something "natural" without propping up the definition as a premise. If one does do this, then naturalism really becomes indiscernible from what one would call "reality" or ontology itself. In that case, why even have such a demarcation it at all?

Also, you'd be right is saying that this makes what is traditionally referred to as "supernatural" natural, but I am not sure I would want to do that because it could invoke confusion and allows for the introduction of teleology into naturalistic systems, which would seem to"un-naturalize" them.

 

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:Assessing

BobSpence1 wrote:

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.

Certainly. Less than clearly observed events would pehaps require more scutiny than more clearly observed events.

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 Quote:This would be a

 

Quote:
This would be a broad definition of naturalism but I'm not sure anyone could such a definition without question begging. One cannot call something "natural" without propping up the definition as a premise. If one does do this, then naturalism really becomes indiscernible from what one would call "reality" or ontology itself. In that case, why even have such a demarcation it at all?

That's precisely my point.  The "supernatural" doesn't have to fight against full-fledged naturalism.  It doesn't even make it that far.  It can't even pass muster against what I'm loosely calling "definitional naturalism."  It fails the test of basic ontology because it is defined without a universe of discourse -- borrowing from naturalism, or more precisely, borrowing from valid ontologies to create a pseudo-ontology that sounds great but doesn't actually have a universe of discourse from which to evaluate it.

Quote:
Also, you'd be right is saying that this makes what is traditionally referred to as "supernatural" natural, but I am not sure I would want to do that because it could invoke confusion and allows for the introduction of teleology into naturalistic systems, which would seem to"un-naturalize" them.

You agree that everything is natural, but you are hesitant to say so for fear of causing confusion?  That's confusing.  

It seems you are begging the question by assuming your own premise -- that teleology is somehow "not natural."  Teleology, like everything else in the universe, is a "thing."  It's musings, conclusions, and premises are also things.  Could it be that you've fallen prey to a simple category error?

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

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.

Certainly. Less than clearly observed events would pehaps require more scutiny than more clearly observed events.

Even clearly observed, but unfamiliar or unusual, events may be widely mis-reported.

Then there is the problem of witnesses comparing their experiences of unusual events, and adjusting their accounts, consciously or not, so that reports of some unusual event witnessed by many people may have some basic shared error, either of seeing some aspect which wasn't actually there, or sometimes even worse, failing to notice some key aspect that would have cast the whole thing in a very different light.

These reservations obviously apply most clearly to reports of 'miraculous' events.

I still think you are grossly over-simplifying this.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:If the

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If the ideas are indiscernible, then they are the same idea, which I am saying is necessary for convergence and meaningful discussions. On the other hand, ideas are contingent entities--that is they need a brain in order to exist.

That's fine, but again misleading. When people share ideas, it's clear that enough of a convergence is all that's necessary, not a total convergence. We don't have to have the exact same idea of a triangle to understand the word "triangle", and thus, there is no reason to believe that the idea exists independent of brains communicating.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not saying it is a separate thing per se, and for that reason it seems paradoxical to me.

That's the reason it's not paradoxical. We don't need to think of exactly the same idea to have the same idea -- it's all approximation. No paradox.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Logic, mathematics, some basic assumptions like the world we think exists actually exists, other minds exist, I exist. How's that for starters

That's great. How is that any different than a naturalist's empirical epistemology? You were hinting that your concern was something missing, but I can't know what that is unless you tell me (see above).

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Information science concerns itself with how information is exchanged so is by definition interdisciplinary. It involves your aforementioned disciplines plus a plethora of others were information is gathered, organized, and distributed. Hermeneutics are a part of these processes.

What? Since when is hermeneutics a science? You're mixing disciplines all right, but hermeneutics is clearly an art, and not a science. Information gathering, organization, and distribution could certainly be approached in an analytical, controversial way (art), but where there's science, there's math.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
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.

I'd agree, but the same can be said for reporting as well.

"Reporting"? Do you mean in contrast to repeatability? I'm not sure what you're referring to.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I think history is a fruitful field as historians can study the lasting effects and recorded accounts of particular events and learn a plethora of information. It may be the case that it is all we have to go by on many things.

Yeah, but with a lot of history, you're really groping in the dark. Take the Roman Empire, for instance. Despite a huge network of clerks from 25BC to 300AD, there's still a ridiculous paucity of information about that period. If you only have three or four writers, and each of them have their own take on things, you're not getting "facts", you're getting "as close to facts as possible". With so little actual information, there isn't much that hasn't been argued about regarding, say, the reign of Augustus or of Nero.

So when you say "It may be the case that it is all we have to go by on many things", you're right. Historically, what we have is "crap", to quote my favorite Classics professor. It's going to take us a long time to sift through it.

To compare that to strictly controlled testing would be a silly claim at best.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not trying to compare the two because they are, in most cases, apples and oranges. If historical evidence does not compete, what can one say of historical scientific evidence?

Crap! Yes, crap. Galileo paved the way, but his calculations were nothing compared to Newton, who himself produced a lot of crap. One of the greatest geniuses who ever walked the earth, mind you, but he produced quite a lot of crap. We just ignore that and move on.

Even 30 years ago, we didn't have the methods and means we have now. Historical science is certainly ground-breaking, and for that, it's a monumental achievement, but the actual science of Newton's day was an unfortunate mess.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not suggesting that it is quantifiable, but putting such things is quantifiable terms illustrates the point. Even some arbitrarily low number can be reliable given enough witnesses. We can say with a great deal of confidence that some event happened if a plethora of witnesses independently reporting that event. Now, this does not mean the event actually happened. I'm suggesting that such testimonies plus the lasting effects of the event can help one have a clear understanding of what might have happened.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you're talking about miracles. The one serious problem with probability where miracles are concerned is that you can't handle a statistically improbable event like it's a statistically probable event. When physics students do the same, boring old experiments, they unwittingly push the probability of miracles into a tight corner of forever extending nines.

When considering probability, it helps to establish possibility. For instance, abiogenesis has never been shown to have happened definitively. But different aspects of abiogenesis have been shown to be possible, thus bolstering the argument for the probability. Miracles have never passed that first hurdle, so abiogenesis is still more probable than a miracle.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not suggesting legal evidence is scientific, but rather that testimonies for some event are historical evidence. I do not bring up by legal friend's analysis for legal purposes, but to suggest that 10 people telling of an event 10 different ways is probably more credible than 10 people telling the exact same story.

Thus illustrating why testimony is unreliable. If they all told the same story, we could guess that they were unreliable. If they all tell different stories, then the collage we put together is unreliable to what we might piece together as the "real" story.

Fine for legal purposes, but weak for science.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Evidences of a different kind...right. Archaeologist use different methods that laboratory sciences do. The one thing laboratory science cannot do is test events that have already occurred, which denies repeatability. If this is the case, then another method is needed.

See above.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I've read scientific journals...yeah...they aren't very fun, and they are painstakingly precise.

Exactly. The difference between historical journals and scientific journals is glaring. There can be no serious comparison, as historical journals come from the arts department, and scientific journals come from the science department. I'm not saying "never the twain shall meet", but the two can't be taken as equal sources of evidence, especially when no self-respecting historian would put up that kind of pretense.

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HisWillness wrote: That's

HisWillness wrote:

 

That's fine, but again misleading. When people share ideas, it's clear that enough of a convergence is all that's necessary, not a total convergence. We don't have to have the exact same idea of a triangle to understand the word "triangle", and thus, there is no reason to believe that the idea exists independent of brains communicating.

 

 

I'm suggesting that if we converge, then any remaining attributes are not necessary to the idea. If we are talking about triangles, then I need not have the measurement of the angles or its sides to talk about it.

 

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Logic, mathematics, some basic assumptions like the world we think exists actually exists, other minds exist, I exist. How's that for starters

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

That's great. How is that any different than a naturalist's empirical epistemology? You were hinting that your concern was something missing, but I can't know what that is unless you tell me (see above).

 

 

I do not see a way to falsify that what I presume to be reality empirically. Logic, mathematics, and other sorts of things cannot be falsified empirically because to do so would be question begging. Empirical observation is productive, but limited. For this reason I think it needs something akin to foundationalism.

 

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Information science concerns itself with how information is exchanged so is by definition interdisciplinary. It involves your aforementioned disciplines plus a plethora of others were information is gathered, organized, and distributed. Hermeneutics are a part of these processes.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

What? Since when is hermeneutics a science? You're mixing disciplines all right, but hermeneutics is clearly an art, and not a science. Information gathering, organization, and distribution could certainly be approached in an analytical, controversial way (art), but where there's science, there's math.

 

 

I was suggesting that hermeneutics is a sub-discipline under information science.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

"Reporting"? Do you mean in contrast to repeatability? I'm not sure what you're referring to.

 

 

Reporting on scientific experimentations....that's what I'm getting at. In any case, one has to interpret results from test and report those results; others also read and interpret results. The very fact peer-review exists suggests that scientific experimentation is prone error. But don't hear me say that it is useless because it has problems.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

Yeah, but with a lot of history, you're really groping in the dark. Take the Roman Empire, for instance. Despite a huge network of clerks from 25BC to 300AD, there's still a ridiculous paucity of information about that period. If you only have three or four writers, and each of them have their own take on things, you're not getting "facts", you're getting "as close to facts as possible". With so little actual information, there isn't much that hasn't been argued about regarding, say, the reign of Augustus or of Nero.

 

So when you say "It may be the case that it is all we have to go by on many things", you're right. Historically, what we have is "crap", to quote my favorite Classics professor. It's going to take us a long time to sift through it.

 

Crap! Yes, crap. Galileo paved the way, but his calculations were nothing compared to Newton, who himself produced a lot of crap. One of the greatest geniuses who ever walked the earth, mind you, but he produced quite a lot of crap. We just ignore that and move on.

 

Even 30 years ago, we didn't have the methods and means we have now. Historical science is certainly ground-breaking, and for that, it's a monumental achievement, but the actual science of Newton's day was an unfortunate mess.

 

 

I'd be cautious about calling anything old "crap" as it could be taken as an appeal to novelty. In 200 years, will people of that day be calling what we discover today "crap"? Likewise, we're not dealing strictly with written documents, but also with lasting effects such as the spread of Roman ideas, artifacts, ruins, and other sort of things. Consider for a moment the Latin, the language of the Romans. It has had a profound impact on communication today in the form of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese...even English, and we can study these effects.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you're talking about miracles. The one serious problem with probability where miracles are concerned is that you can't handle a statistically improbable event like it's a statistically probable event. When physics students do the same, boring old experiments, they unwittingly push the probability of miracles into a tight corner of forever extending nines.

 

 

I'm not talking about miracles per se, but any obscure event. 'm not barring miracles, but should one occur per the Hume's definition of miracles, this is not empirically testable definitionally speaking. If one could repeat the behavior consistently, then it is not a miracle. Because of this, miracles resemble historical events more so than they do scientific tests, so to suggest that such things statistically improbable is really a categorical error.

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

When considering probability, it helps to establish possibility. For instance, abiogenesis has never been shown to have happened definitively. But different aspects of abiogenesis have been shown to be possible, thus bolstering the argument for the probability. Miracles have never passed that first hurdle, so abiogenesis is still more probable than a miracle.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

 If they all told the same story, we could guess that they were unreliable. If they all tell different stories, then the collage we put together is unreliable to what we might piece together as the "real" story.

 

 

 

Are these two not doing the same sort of thing--making an inference to the best possible explanation based on the given data?

 

HisWillness wrote:

 

Exactly. The difference between historical journals and scientific journals is glaring. There can be no serious comparison, as historical journals come from the arts department, and scientific journals come from the science department. I'm not saying "never the twain shall meet", but the two can't be taken as equal sources of evidence, especially when no self-respecting historian would put up that kind of pretense.

 

 

The difference, I think, has to do with the kind of research being done, as they are apples and oranges, so the sort of precision is different. Historical research attempts to exhaust the known resource for a particular subject before making any sort of conclusion on the matter. I've read some dissertations in archaeology from the libraries...these things will spend thousands of words talking about artifacts someone dug up somewhere. These words cover the find details about the find, other finds in the area, the relative history related to the find, and what sorts of implications such a find has on the relative history of the find.

 

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:These

BobSpence1 wrote:

These reservations obviously apply most clearly to reports of 'miraculous' events.

I still think you are grossly over-simplifying this.

I do not think this is necessarily restricted to "miraculous" events as there could be other sorts of events that are equally as obscure, such as "paranormal" phenomenons. I think it would be intellectually dishonest to dismiss such things on such ground because obscurity does not imply that something is fanciful. It may be that things are inconclusive, but not necessarily false. Either until more and/or better surfaces, we table it.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

These reservations obviously apply most clearly to reports of 'miraculous' events.

I still think you are grossly over-simplifying this.

I do not think this is necessarily restricted to "miraculous" events as there could be other sorts of events that are equally as obscure, such as "paranormal" phenomenons. I think it would be intellectually dishonest to dismiss such things on such ground because obscurity does not imply that something is fanciful. It may be that things are inconclusive, but not necessarily false. Either until more and/or better surfaces, we table it.

I was not restricting the comment to the 'miraculous', and the 'paranormal' would be an obviously related area. I am not sure "obscure" is an appropriate way to refer to such phenomenon. The sort of event which these reservations most strongly apply to would be phenomena in either category that have become popular ideas, that are widely discussed and so people have come to have a somewhat common expectation of what it would 'look like'. This would tend to increase the probability of them reporting similar (and inaccurate) things from some shared experience, regardless of what they actually saw.

Historical events are not easily subject to replication and scientific study, but eye-witness behavior and psychology is.

I am not trying to dismiss such things on the grounds of "obscurity" - I don't really see what "obsurity" has to do with it. In fact, the more genuinely obscure a phenomena was, the more credence I would give to a report claiming a 'sighting'.

I am pointing out that there are aspects of human tendencies to see what they expect to see and be blind to even major features of their visual field when looking for something else, and that there are aspects of the psychology of groups that it would very dishonest to ignore when assessing the reliability of a report from many 'eye-witnesses' about some event which could be fairly considered unlikely a priori, especially if it has become a popular 'meme', such as an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary appearing in some 'unusual' place.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I'm

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm suggesting that if we converge, then any remaining attributes are not necessary to the idea. If we are talking about triangles, then I need not have the measurement of the angles or its sides to talk about it.

The reason for that is my point: we make categories as approximations, and can then discuss the categories. In doing so, we don't need the ideas to be separate from brains, except in forms of communication, a process which is obviously not perfect. So it would seem that there is a strong case to be made for ideas being products of brains and communication, and nothing more.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I do not see a way to falsify that what I presume to be reality empirically.

Just follow an empirical method. What parts of what you presume to be reality are troubling you?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Logic, mathematics, and other sorts of things cannot be falsified empirically because to do so would be question begging.

But logic and mathematics don't need to be falsified empirically. In fact, one important aspect of Boolean logic (as opposed to Classical/Aristotelian logic) is that it allows scientists to reason without making any presuppositions about existence. Newton's Laws of Motion, for example, present the idea of bodies that are not acted upon by any external forces. Newton isn't suggesting that such bodies exist (or are real), but can reason about them just the same.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Empirical observation is productive, but limited. For this reason I think it needs something akin to foundationalism.

Empirical observation is limited in the very specific way we've discussed, though. In understanding that we can only falsify, we give up believing that we will find an absolute empirical truth. I understand that you consider empiricism to be lacking, but is it the lack of a "capital-T" Truth that bothers you?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Reporting on scientific experimentations....that's what I'm getting at. In any case, one has to interpret results from test and report those results; others also read and interpret results. The very fact peer-review exists suggests that scientific experimentation is prone error. But don't hear me say that it is useless because it has problems.

We were talking about how it compares to historical interpretation. It doesn't, really. A historian will not pretend to have uncovered a scientific fact by textual analysis, because that would be well beyond the scope of what is reasonable. The interpretation of scientific results involves more statistics than musings, and addresses error in a way that historical papers cannot.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'd be cautious about calling anything old "crap" as it could be taken as an appeal to novelty. In 200 years, will people of that day be calling what we discover today "crap"? Likewise, we're not dealing strictly with written documents, but also with lasting effects such as the spread of Roman ideas, artifacts, ruins, and other sort of things. Consider for a moment the Latin, the language of the Romans. It has had a profound impact on communication today in the form of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese...even English, and we can study these effects.

That's not the same thing. You're now actively conflating historical and scientific research, and that's a category mistake.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not talking about miracles per se, but any obscure event. 'm not barring miracles, but should one occur per the Hume's definition of miracles, this is not empirically testable definitionally speaking. If one could repeat the behavior consistently, then it is not a miracle. Because of this, miracles resemble historical events more so than they do scientific tests, so to suggest that such things statistically improbable is really a categorical error.

To apply statistics to it at all is a category mistake. Glad we settled that. If we're speaking in these strict terms, though, then historical events are indeterminate subjects of relative controversy (which is a good description of the state of affairs). Reasonably speaking, if we have full-motion video of an event, we have more evidence than if we have a written account. But ultimately, we have an event about which we are -- first and foremost -- ignorant.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Are these two not doing the same sort of thing--making an inference to the best possible explanation based on the given data?

Of course. The "given data" of demonstrated possibilities corresponding to miracles is a null set. The set of demonstrated possibilities corresponding to abiogenesis, on the other hand, is not null. If I were implying absolute truth, I would be making an argument from silence, but I'm only suggesting the best possible explanation based on the given data.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The difference, I think, has to do with the kind of research being done, as they are apples and oranges, so the sort of precision is different. Historical research attempts to exhaust the known resource for a particular subject before making any sort of conclusion on the matter. I've read some dissertations in archaeology from the libraries...these things will spend thousands of words talking about artifacts someone dug up somewhere. These words cover the find details about the find, other finds in the area, the relative history related to the find, and what sorts of implications such a find has on the relative history of the find.

That's all well and good, but archaeologists don't make the same claim to a prediction of behaviour that scientists do. Their methods and procedures are completely different in nature. The archaeologist presents possibilities for an ongoing mystery. The physical scientist actually predicts that you, too, can find the same results that s/he did by following the same procedure. The nature of those two claims are so completely different that "apples and oranges" doesn't cover it.

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HisWillness wrote:The reason

HisWillness wrote:

The reason for that is my point: we make categories as approximations, and can then discuss the categories. In doing so, we don't need the ideas to be separate from brains, except in forms of communication, a process which is obviously not perfect. So it would seem that there is a strong case to be made for ideas being products of brains and communication, and nothing more.

The point I was getting at was that if we do not need particular attributes, then we shave them away and actually converge on the same idea. The reason I proposed talking about the idea of "2+3=5" is that it is precisely what it says, nothing more and nothing less. If one suggests that a brain is an attribute of this idea, then the idea contains more attributes than it is actually using, and we are not talking about the same thing. The abstraction of such ideas makes them independent of the brains, yet contingent upon at least one brain for an existence.

HisWillness wrote:

Just follow an empirical method. What parts of what you presume to be reality are troubling you?

How does one falsify that his own senses are working properly? One would be using the test subject to perform the test. Unless I can get another set of senses independent of the one's I already have, I do not see a way t o do this.

HisWillness wrote:

But logic and mathematics don't need to be falsified empirically. In fact, one important aspect of Boolean logic (as opposed to Classical/Aristotelian logic) is that it allows scientists to reason without making any presuppositions about existence. Newton's Laws of Motion, for example, present the idea of bodies that are not acted upon by any external forces. Newton isn't suggesting that such bodies exist (or are real), but can reason about them just the same.

Indeed. I do not think they need to be proven empirically either, but if I allow for such things, then I'm am not being strictly empirical. I do not like to wade out into untestable waters very deeply, so I try to limit such things.

HisWillness wrote:

Empirical observation is limited in the very specific way we've discussed, though. In understanding that we can only falsify, we give up believing that we will find an absolute empirical truth. I understand that you consider empiricism to be lacking, but is it the lack of a "capital-T" Truth that bothers you?

The lack of a '"capital-T" Truth' is not my contention. I think that things that are self-evident would be the truest things we can know. My concern is the limited scope it empirical observation, which I think I have made my contentions known about this.

HisWillness wrote:

We were talking about how it compares to historical interpretation. It doesn't, really. A historian will not pretend to have uncovered a scientific fact by textual analysis, because that would be well beyond the scope of what is reasonable. The interpretation of scientific results involves more statistics than musings, and addresses error in a way that historical papers cannot.

I'm not sure that I would call it "musing" because historical research is not, generally speaking, statistical in nature. Historians make fact-based conclusions, and such things are submitted and peer-reviewed too to help prevent absurdity and bias from prevailing.

HisWillness wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'd be cautious about calling anything old "crap" as it could be taken as an appeal to novelty...we're not dealing strictly with written documents, but also with lasting effects such as the spread of Roman ideas, artifacts, ruins, and other sort of things...and we can study these effects.


That's not the same thing. You're now actively conflating historical and scientific research, and that's a category mistake.

Studying the lasting effects of historical events is not scientific in the sense of empirical inductions, but a study of cause-and-effect relationships between events. I would be conflating to suggest that they are the same things, and I'm not. I was suggesting that history is not restricted to the study of past events, but that one can study the lasting effects of the past that exist currently to better understand the past, and that's all.

HisWillness wrote:

To apply statistics to it at all is a category mistake. Glad we settled that. If we're speaking in these strict terms, though, then historical events are indeterminate subjects of relative controversy (which is a good description of the state of affairs). Reasonably speaking, if we have full-motion video of an event, we have more evidence than if we have a written account. But ultimately, we have an event about which we are -- first and foremost -- ignorant.

I'm not sure that this is restricted to historical events, as one could suggest the moment one is done with a single scientific test, it is history, and one is "first and foremost -- ignorant"  of the events of that test. The difference obviously is that I can reproduce the test, but if one uses this as grounds for touting the superiority of one to the other, then one is not weighing evidence, one is adding it. For this reason and others, I do not think one can compare these two.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Are these two not doing the same sort of thing--making an inference to the best possible explanation based on the given data?


HisWillness wrote:

Of course. The "given data" of demonstrated possibilities corresponding to miracles is a null set. The set of demonstrated possibilities corresponding to abiogenesis, on the other hand, is not null. If I were implying absolute truth, I would be making an argument from silence, but I'm only suggesting the best possible explanation based on the given data.

Miracles or any other such conclusions do not imply absolute truth. I fail to see the relevance of this. They are inferences to the best possible explanations based on the given data.

HisWillness wrote:

That's all well and good, but archaeologists don't make the same claim to a prediction of behavior that scientists do. Their methods and procedures are completely different in nature. The archaeologist presents possibilities for an ongoing mystery. The physical scientist actually predicts that you, too, can find the same results that s/he did by following the same procedure. The nature of those two claims are so completely different that "apples and oranges" doesn't cover it.

Certainly. Elephants and plums if you prefer. Physical scientists would be way outside the scope of their discipline doing archaeology and vice-versa.
 

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BobSpence1 wrote:I am

BobSpence1 wrote:

I am pointing out that there are aspects of human tendencies to see what they expect to see and be blind to even major features of their visual field when looking for something else, and that there are aspects of the psychology of groups that it would very dishonest to ignore when assessing the reliability of a report from many 'eye-witnesses' about some event which could be fairly considered unlikely a priori, especially if it has become a popular 'meme', such as an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary appearing in some 'unusual' place.

Sure, I would take it a step further saying that most everything is like this, in that our personal credulity is really a matter of convience. I think this is demonstrated degrees of justification individuals put forward.

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Hambydammit wrote:That's

Hambydammit wrote:

That's precisely my point.  The "supernatural" doesn't have to fight against full-fledged naturalism.  It doesn't even make it that far.  It can't even pass muster against what I'm loosely calling "definitional naturalism."  It fails the test of basic ontology because it is defined without a universe of discourse -- borrowing from naturalism, or more precisely, borrowing from valid ontologies to create a pseudo-ontology that sounds great but doesn't actually have a universe of discourse from which to evaluate it.

One cannot conclude something is "natural" if one defines presupposes all as natural, which is question begging. If one does establish naturalism by fist  as such, one need not have a supernatural deity, rather just expand a definition of naturalism to include what is traditionally known as supernatural define "god" as a necessary being and suggest that contingent beings are the ones burrowing ontology, not the other way around.

Hambydammit wrote:
It seems you are begging the question by assuming your own premise -- that teleology is somehow "not natural."  Teleology, like everything else in the universe, is a "thing."  It's musings, conclusions, and premises are also things.  Could it be that you've fallen prey to a simple category error?

I'm speaking in the traditional sense of what is typically known as naturalism. I was supposing that if you allow for such a definition, there is no categorical difference between what is traditionally ascribed to the supernatural. An objection from traditional naturalism is that nature does not necessarily introduce teleology into a system, and to suppose that natural processes have teleology is question begging. If there is no such demarcation,  all one needs to do then is say is first that a god is natural and has teleological processes at work and then establish the possibility of teleology. Then one could have successful teleological arguments.

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 Quote:One cannot conclude

 

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One cannot conclude something is "natural" if one defines presupposes all as natural, which is question begging. If one does establish naturalism by fist  as such, one need not have a supernatural deity, rather just expand a definition of naturalism to include what is traditionally known as supernatural define "god" as a necessary being and suggest that contingent beings are the ones burrowing ontology, not the other way around.

Except that doesn't work because this stripped down "naturalism" still demands ontology, and the supernatural definition of god isn't coherent.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:The point

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The point I was getting at was that if we do not need particular attributes, then we shave them away and actually converge on the same idea. The reason I proposed talking about the idea of "2+3=5" is that it is precisely what it says, nothing more and nothing less. If one suggests that a brain is an attribute of this idea, then the idea contains more attributes than it is actually using, and we are not talking about the same thing. The abstraction of such ideas makes them independent of the brains, yet contingent upon at least one brain for an existence.

That abstraction is still limited to communication (at least as far as we know). Who was suggesting that a brain is an attribute of an idea? That sounds bizarre.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

Just follow an empirical method. What parts of what you presume to be reality are troubling you?

How does one falsify that his own senses are working properly? One would be using the test subject to perform the test. Unless I can get another set of senses independent of the one's I already have, I do not see a way t o do this.

That's exactly what you do: you get another set of senses independent of the ones you have. Someone else's. That's how the scientific community works.

HisWillness wrote:

But logic and mathematics don't need to be falsified empirically. In fact, one important aspect of Boolean logic (as opposed to Classical/Aristotelian logic) is that it allows scientists to reason without making any presuppositions about existence. Newton's Laws of Motion, for example, present the idea of bodies that are not acted upon by any external forces. Newton isn't suggesting that such bodies exist (or are real), but can reason about them just the same.

Indeed. I do not think they need to be proven empirically either, but if I allow for such things, then I'm am not being strictly empirical.

It doesn't seem necessary to be strictly empirical where it's ... not necessary.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The lack of a '"capital-T" Truth' is not my contention. I think that things that are self-evident would be the truest things we can know. My concern is the limited scope it empirical observation, which I think I have made my contentions known about this.

But you suggested incorporating a priori something-or-other into empiricism, which is why I still don't get it. Your argument is extremely nebulous, because you haven't differentiated your position with empiricism at all. Your a priori statements were that we exist, etc., which don't differ from an empiricist's.

You haven't actually said what it means that empiricism has a "limited scope", though. At least, not in specific terms. What are you suggesting is unattainable specifically?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not sure that I would call it "musing" because historical research is not, generally speaking, statistical in nature. Historians make fact-based conclusions, and such things are submitted and peer-reviewed too to help prevent absurdity and bias from prevailing.

You have a fairly odd view of historical research. It isn't as much like scientific research as that. It's more like a bunch of competing theses, and to use "fact", one would have to be talking about events that are so well known and documented (like the bomb dropping at Hiroshima) that there is literally no question what happened.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I was suggesting that history is not restricted to the study of past events, but that one can study the lasting effects of the past that exist currently to better understand the past, and that's all.

I've never encountered that idea before. The more serious risk with that attitude is projecting one's own era onto that of the past (which can occur frequently in historical research). 

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not sure that this is restricted to historical events, as one could suggest the moment one is done with a single scientific test, it is history, and one is "first and foremost -- ignorant"  of the events of that test.

That's exactly how the scientific community views it, though. Until the experiment has been reproduced several times, in several places, it's not considered tested, and the jury's still out.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The difference obviously is that I can reproduce the test, but if one uses this as grounds for touting the superiority of one to the other, then one is not weighing evidence, one is adding it.

Reliability is what I was talking about. How reliable is historical evidence compared to repeatable physical experimental evidence? Hardly at all. It's still evidence, but you wouldn't bet your life on it, which you could with physical experimental evidence.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

Of course. The "given data" of demonstrated possibilities corresponding to miracles is a null set. The set of demonstrated possibilities corresponding to abiogenesis, on the other hand, is not null. If I were implying absolute truth, I would be making an argument from silence, but I'm only suggesting the best possible explanation based on the given data.

Miracles or any other such conclusions do not imply absolute truth. I fail to see the relevance of this. They are inferences to the best possible explanations based on the given data.

What, miracles are inferences to the best possible explanation? In what circumstance? (Or is that not what you were saying?)

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Physical scientists would be way outside the scope of their discipline doing archaeology and vice-versa.

Unless, of course, you wanted something radiometrically dated.

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
One cannot conclude something is "natural" if one defines presupposes all as natural, which is question begging. If one does establish naturalism by fist  as such, one need not have a supernatural deity, rather just expand a definition of naturalism to include what is traditionally known as supernatural define "god" as a necessary being and suggest that contingent beings are the ones burrowing ontology, not the other way around.

Except that doesn't work because this stripped down "naturalism" still demands ontology, and the supernatural definition of god isn't coherent.

Unless one just does away with the supernatural and makes no distrinction between naturalism and ontology, that is to say that gods (like teleology) would be natural phenomenon. Under such definitions, there is no such things as supernatural and its coherence is irrelevant at that point. To say otherwise is question begging.

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HisWillness wrote:That

HisWillness wrote:
That abstraction is still limited to communication (at least as far as we know). Who was suggesting that a brain is an attribute of an idea? That sounds bizarre.

If and the only difference between the idea in your brain and the idea in my brain is the brain containing it, then a property that keeps them from being the same idea is the brain. Otherwise, the idea is the same idea.

HisWillness wrote:

That's exactly what you do: you get another set of senses independent of the ones you have. Someone else's. That's how the scientific community works.

I was thinking about personally getting another set of senses, but even then, it would seem to be question begging, as I could only guarantee that the senses are working the same way. This is the same sort of question concerning a whether or not I am just a brain in a vat or if whether the world around me actually exists. I can neither affirm nor deny either one of these, and this is what I see as a limit of empirical observation unless I can somehow get outside the system. The problem with having someone else do it is that I need to affirm that my own senses are working in order to trust that what is being fed to my brain from another soruce is actually information that my senses are detecting.

HisWillness wrote:

It doesn't seem necessary to be strictly empirical where it's ... not necessary.

Right.

HisWillness wrote:

But you suggested incorporating a priori something-or-other into empiricism, which is why I still don't get it. Your argument is extremely nebulous, because you haven't differentiated your position with empiricism at all. Your a priori statements were that we exist, etc., which don't differ from an empiricist's.

I'm suggesting incorporating empirical observation into something else, not the other way around. What I think is a more holistic epistemology is something that asserts a necessary set of axioms and works from there. Empirical observation is contingent upon a basic belief that my senses are working properly and that I exist.

HisWillness wrote:

You haven't actually said what it means that empiricism has a "limited scope", though. At least, not in specific terms. What are you suggesting is unattainable specifically?

See above.

HisWillness wrote:

You have a fairly odd view of historical research. It isn't as much like scientific research as that. It's more like a bunch of competing theses, and to use "fact", one would have to be talking about events that are so well known and documented (like the bomb dropping at Hiroshima) that there is literally no question what happened.

I really do not see how such things are "odd". The conclusions themselves may not be "fact" if that's what you mean.

HisWillness wrote:

I've never encountered that idea before. The more serious risk with that attitude is projecting one's own era onto that of the past (which can occur frequently in historical research).

I'm not suggesting one project one's own era onto the past, but abduct knowledge from the lasting effects. The suggestion I made concerning the Latin language is one such thing. Other lasting effects are things like artifacts and ideas. Is this "odd"?

HisWillness wrote:

Reliability is what I was talking about. How reliable is historical evidence compared to repeatable physical experimental evidence? Hardly at all. It's still evidence, but you wouldn't bet your life on it, which you could with physical experimental evidence.

I'm not suggesting that reliability is not a problem with historical evidence. But not historical evidence is unreliable. One could contend that one holds certain historical events with a greater deal of certainty than others.

HisWillness wrote:

What, miracles are inferences to the best possible explanation? In what circumstance? (Or is that not what you were saying?)

My magic fireball per my discussion with Thomathy. But this of course is contingent upon something like this happening, which as far I know, no one I know has ever witnessed such a phenomenon.

HisWillness wrote:

Unless, of course, you wanted something radiometrically dated.
Sure.
 

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 Quote:Unless one just does

 

Quote:
Unless one just does away with the supernatural and makes no distrinction between naturalism and ontology, that is to say that gods (like teleology) would be natural phenomenon. Under such definitions, there is no such things as supernatural and its coherence is irrelevant at that point. To say otherwise is question begging.

Perfect.  I agree completely.  Now, the burden is on the claimant to provide a coherent ontology for a formerly supernatural thing.  I'll be holding my breath and turning blue in the face.

 

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Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
Unless one just does away with the supernatural and makes no distrinction between naturalism and ontology, that is to say that gods (like teleology) would be natural phenomenon. Under such definitions, there is no such things as supernatural and its coherence is irrelevant at that point. To say otherwise is question begging.

Perfect.  I agree completely.  Now, the burden is on the claimant to provide a coherent ontology for a formerly supernatural thing.  I'll be holding my breath and turning blue in the face.

 

But now the same problem exists for this reformed naturalism, as it inherits the purported incoherence of the supernatural. We can define it into existence, but now we have an on going debate about what is and is not natural (which really is what does and does not exist). At the end of the day, I really do not see how this would solve anything, which is why I asked early on why do it.

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It does not 'inherit(s) the

It does not 'inherit(s) the purported incoherence of the supernatural', it rejects the whole dubious category. The ideas and reported phenomena that made up whatever was envisaged to fit into that category are re-assessed within the criteria of naturalistic reality, and either rejected as completely incoherent with no evidence of significance to support them as more than purely mental/psychological events, or shelved for the time being in the proper category of 'insufficient evidence to judge', ie, 'We Don't Know'.

You are conflating the category of Supernatural itself with the things which have been put into the category. The category itself is incoherent, the things that may have been assigned to that category may or may not be.

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:It does not

BobSpence1 wrote:

It does not 'inherit(s) the purported incoherence of the supernatural', it rejects the whole dubious category. The ideas and reported phenomena that made up whatever was envisaged to fit into that category are re-assessed within the criteria of naturalistic reality, and either rejected as completely incoherent with no evidence of significance to support them as more than purely mental/psychological events, or shelved for the time being in the proper category of 'insufficient evidence to judge', ie, 'We Don't Know'.

You are conflating the category of Supernatural itself with the things which have been put into the category. The category itself is incoherent, the things that may have been assigned to that category may or may not be.

 

Under such a definition of naturalism, conflating is impossible because the supernatural category no longer exists thus its coherence is irrelevant. On the other hand, elements from the traditional  supernatural category are now allowed within a naturalistic ontology and now the reformed naturalistic ontology has the same purported problem with incoherence. If an idea is "re-assessed within the criteria of naturalistic reality" one has to allow for full scope of possibilities previously allowed in the supernatural category.  To says otherwise is question begging.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

It does not 'inherit(s) the purported incoherence of the supernatural', it rejects the whole dubious category. The ideas and reported phenomena that made up whatever was envisaged to fit into that category are re-assessed within the criteria of naturalistic reality, and either rejected as completely incoherent with no evidence of significance to support them as more than purely mental/psychological events, or shelved for the time being in the proper category of 'insufficient evidence to judge', ie, 'We Don't Know'.

You are conflating the category of Supernatural itself with the things which have been put into the category. The category itself is incoherent, the things that may have been assigned to that category may or may not be.

 

Under such a definition of naturalism, conflating is impossible because the supernatural category no longer exists thus its coherence is irrelevant. On the other hand, elements from the traditional  supernatural category are now allowed within a naturalistic ontology and now the reformed naturalistic ontology has the same purported problem with incoherence. If an idea is "re-assessed within the criteria of naturalistic reality" one has to allow for full scope of possibilities previously allowed in the supernatural category.  To says otherwise is question begging.

 

No, you missed the point - the kind of spurious principles gratuitously allowed as 'possibilities' in the standard 'supernatural' category, in order to allow various popular ideas some spurious intellectual respectability, are disallowed.

They now have to be examined under more rational and coherent  standards.

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BobSpence1 wrote:No, you

BobSpence1 wrote:

No, you missed the point - the kind of spurious principles gratuitously allowed as 'possibilities' in the standard 'supernatural' category, in order to allow various popular ideas some spurious intellectual respectability, are disallowed.

They now have to be examined under more rational and coherent  standards.

 

This is precisely why I think it is question begging, because if one disallows such things in how one defines naturalism, then the ways in which gods exist are no longer exist and affirming their existence is impossible. If one concludes that they do not exist or merely that we cannot know, is based on the premise, which is why I think it is question begging.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

No, you missed the point - the kind of spurious principles gratuitously allowed as 'possibilities' in the standard 'supernatural' category, in order to allow various popular ideas some spurious intellectual respectability, are disallowed.

They now have to be examined under more rational and coherent  standards.

This is precisely why I think it is question begging, because if one disallows such things in how one defines naturalism, then the ways in which gods exist are no longer exist and affirming their existence is impossible. If one concludes that they do not exist or merely that we cannot know, is based on the premise, which is why I think it is question begging.

That really depends on just what we are disallowing from the old 'supernatural' category.

Affirming that something exists just because one can string some words together into a grammatically correct statement and it feels like it 'makes sense' to you should not count as a valid knowledge claim, but many supernatural claims amount to little more than this.

The 'omni' and 'infinite' attributes of Gods render the 'God' concept incoherent for a start - they are essentially undefined when you use such adjectives. They certainly cannot be incorporated in standard logical arguments in any meaningful way.

Obviously we can't stop people discussing such things, just that that field of discourse should not be given equivalent ontological status to naturalistic, empirical scientific naturalism. Until such discourse can come up with something testable in some coherent way, it should be left to those who still think medieval metaphysics has something to contribute to knowledge.

 

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

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BobSpence1 wrote:That really

BobSpence1 wrote:

That really depends on just what we are disallowing from the old 'supernatural' category.

Affirming that something exists just because one can string some words together into a grammatically correct statement and it feels like it 'makes sense' to you should not count as a valid knowledge claim, but many supernatural claims amount to little more than this.

The 'omni' and 'infinite' attributes of Gods render the 'God' concept incoherent for a start - they are essentially undefined when you use such adjectives. They certainly cannot be incorporated in standard logical arguments in any meaningful way.

If one does not allow all of it, then one is denying some things from the former supernatural category existence prima facie, and one would be question begging to conclude anything because of these denials. But one does not need to redefine naturalism to point out that religious language can be  ambiguous. The question then becomes how might one know such things, which is largely been what Will and I have been talking about throughout this thread.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Obviously we can't stop people discussing such things, just that that field of discourse should not be given equivalent ontological status to naturalistic, empirical scientific naturalism. Until such discourse can come up with something testable in some coherent way, it should be left to those who still think medieval metaphysics has something to contribute to knowledge.

Some theists see this as an artificial burden placed upon them, as they do not see a need to test such claims and point to the fact that such verification principles themselves testable.

 

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

That really depends on just what we are disallowing from the old 'supernatural' category.

Affirming that something exists just because one can string some words together into a grammatically correct statement and it feels like it 'makes sense' to you should not count as a valid knowledge claim, but many supernatural claims amount to little more than this.

The 'omni' and 'infinite' attributes of Gods render the 'God' concept incoherent for a start - they are essentially undefined when you use such adjectives. They certainly cannot be incorporated in standard logical arguments in any meaningful way.

If one does not allow all of it, then one is denying some things from the former supernatural category existence prima facie, and one would be question begging to conclude anything because of these denials. But one does not need to redefine naturalism to point out that religious language can be  ambiguous. The question then becomes how might one know such things, which is largely been what Will and I have been talking about throughout this thread.

BobSpence1 wrote:

I am denying the validity of principles that something does not need justification by anything more than appeal to intuitive feelings, I am not denying the existence of the elements that might have been 'justified' by such weak or empty principles  within the context of 'supernaturalism'. If they cannot be justified by anything more substantial, then tough.

You still seem to be conflating the principles and arguments used within the supernatural context with the phenomena they are attempting to demonstrate or explain. I am denying the validity of the former.

Quote:

Obviously we can't stop people discussing such things, just that that field of discourse should not be given equivalent ontological status to naturalistic, empirical scientific naturalism. Until such discourse can come up with something testable in some coherent way, it should be left to those who still think medieval metaphysics has something to contribute to knowledge.

Some theists see this as an artificial burden placed upon them, as they do not see a need to test such claims and point to the fact that such verification principles themselves testable.

And that is the problem they are stuck with.

Until they can tie their postulated entities and principles to something outside that set of ideas in some way, they have zero grounds for making any ontological claims remotely as strong as empiricism.

Even math can be caught out on the unproven axioms it necessarily requires to get off the ground. The clearest example of that to me is Euclidean Geometry, which due to its assumption about parallel lines, does not actually apply precisely to our reality, due to the curvature of space-time under the influence of gravity.

Until a realm of speculative thought can anchor itself to some aspect of empirical reality, it has no warrant for solid ontological status.

AFAICS, God concepts are very much in that realm, ie pure speculation. The only sense in which they deserve serious investigation is by Psychology, as a particular class of thought processes.

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

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BobSpence1 wrote:And that is

BobSpence1 wrote:


And that is the problem they are stuck with.

Until they can tie their postulated entities and principles to something outside that set of ideas in some way, they have zero grounds for making any ontological claims remotely as strong as empiricism.

Even math can be caught out on the unproven axioms it necessarily requires to get off the ground. The clearest example of that to me is Euclidean Geometry, which due to its assumption about parallel lines, does not actually apply precisely to our reality, due to the curvature of space-time under the influence of gravity.

Until a realm of speculative thought can anchor itself to some aspect of empirical reality, it has no warrant for solid ontological status.

AFAICS, God concepts are very much in that realm, ie pure speculation. The only sense in which they deserve serious investigation is by Psychology, as a particular class of thought processes.


This is what theists say about verificationist principles--until the principle itself can be shown to be an empirical conclusion or a logical tautology, then they say they are under no obligation to follow it. As far as they are concerned, the principle itself is pure speculation.

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:


And that is the problem they are stuck with.

Until they can tie their postulated entities and principles to something outside that set of ideas in some way, they have zero grounds for making any ontological claims remotely as strong as empiricism.

Even math can be caught out on the unproven axioms it necessarily requires to get off the ground. The clearest example of that to me is Euclidean Geometry, which due to its assumption about parallel lines, does not actually apply precisely to our reality, due to the curvature of space-time under the influence of gravity.

Until a realm of speculative thought can anchor itself to some aspect of empirical reality, it has no warrant for solid ontological status.

AFAICS, God concepts are very much in that realm, ie pure speculation. The only sense in which they deserve serious investigation is by Psychology, as a particular class of thought processes.


This is what theists say about verificationist principles--until the principle itself can be shown to be an empirical conclusion or a logical tautology, then they say they are under no obligation to follow it. As far as they are concerned, the principle itself is pure speculation.
 

Which is so backward - so until we can prove the validity of our method of verification, they feel justified in assuming their speculation does apply to reality?

That ignores the fact established rigorously by Göedel, that no system of thought can be shown to be complete in that way. You cannot verify any system of thought from within the system. At least empiricism specifically and comprehensively the vast majority of our experience in as direct a way as possible, so it makes sense to make the working assumption that it is true. Proof is irrelevant to anyone but the philosophical/metaphysical pedant.

Theists  are logically required to prove some way of demonstrating that their world-view answers fundamental questions which are apparent to all serious thinkers in a clearly 'superior' manner to all others available, and not just in an 'Gap' sense, ie, "you don't have a workable explanation so ours must be true', but without significant unsupported assumptions or seriously questionable reasoning. NOTE, I am not calling for strict proof here, which is almost certainly impossible, just as reasonable a criteria as possible.

Without such a requirement, there is no way to separate Theist ideas from any of the literally infinite number of alternative ideas which may be internally consistent but have no anchor to empirical reality. This is also why Occam's Razor is so important.

So we see that their position ultimately reduces, still, to a 'God-of-the-Gaps', or an insistence that unless we can 100% disprove God, they win...

Same old same old....

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

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:If and

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If and the only difference between the idea in your brain and the idea in my brain is the brain containing it, then a property that keeps them from being the same idea is the brain. Otherwise, the idea is the same idea.

And thus, the concept of the idea-as-thing still isn't working out, as you demonstrate. If we take ideas to be processes (that is, active brains and communication), we suffer from no such difficulties.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I was thinking about personally getting another set of senses, but even then, it would seem to be question begging, as I could only guarantee that the senses are working the same way. This is the same sort of question concerning a whether or not I am just a brain in a vat or if whether the world around me actually exists.

I thought we were okay (earlier) with assuming that. Since presumably there's no difference between the brain-in-a-vat scenario and trusting our senses, we have no reason not to trust our senses. That is, until we have a reason not to trust our senses (e.g. optical illusions, bias, etc.)

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm suggesting incorporating empirical observation into something else, not the other way around. What I think is a more holistic epistemology is something that asserts a necessary set of axioms and works from there. Empirical observation is contingent upon a basic belief that my senses are working properly and that I exist.

Right. Because unless we have good reason to go all brain-in-a-vat, we'd be making work for ourselves. The thing is, you're only making assumptions that any empiricist would make starting out. I mean, I get that you believe that testing can't be tested down to your personal level of philosophical satisfaction, but that seems to echo the brain-in-a-vat worry.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not suggesting one project one's own era onto the past, but abduct knowledge from the lasting effects. The suggestion I made concerning the Latin language is one such thing. Other lasting effects are things like artifacts and ideas. Is this "odd"?

It's odd in my experience, but that doesn't mean it's wrong or anything. Maybe I just don't know what you mean. With the Latin language, we have enough of a record to get an idea of how it developed into Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, and influenced German, etc. so there isn't as much "lasting effects" analysis going on as just looking at the use of language.

Maybe another example to illustrate what you mean would help.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I'm not suggesting that reliability is not a problem with historical evidence. But not historical evidence is unreliable. One could contend that one holds certain historical events with a greater deal of certainty than others.

Of course. Physical evidence tends to trump stories about any time period, though.

As for miracles, the only contention I have is that saying "miracle" doesn't actually help anyone's understanding. Yes, Hume meant a transgression of natural law, but that's not helpful. What we see time and time again is that if there is a "transgression" of a law, it's not that the behaviour of nature has changed, but that our understanding of it must change to accurately reflect observation. So "miracle" is a bit backwards. It implies that we have exhaustive knowledge, and that we can identify when exactly an immutable law is being broken. That's not the case if we follow the principle of falsification.

Saying "miracle" also carries with it a whole bunch of question begging. A miracle is performed (by what? why? etc.) and we manage to create a performer out of ignorance. "Miracle" doesn't actually answer anything.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If and the only difference between the idea in your brain and the idea in my brain is the brain containing it, then a property that keeps them from being the same idea is the brain. Otherwise, the idea is the same idea.


And thus, the concept of the idea-as-thing still isn't working out, as you demonstrate. If we take ideas to be processes (that is, active brains and communication), we suffer from no such difficulties.

As processes...hmm...I generally think of ideas as non-causal things. What do you perceive to be the difference in this and processes? Is a process not a thing? This may be my lack of understanding, as I haven't heard of ideas being reformed to as processes before.

HisWillness wrote:

I thought we were okay (earlier) with assuming that. Since presumably there's no difference between the brain-in-a-vat scenario and trusting our senses, we have no reason not to trust our senses. That is, until we have a reason not to trust our senses (e.g. optical illusions, bias, etc.)

Right. Because unless we have good reason to go all brain-in-a-vat, we'd be making work for ourselves. The thing is, you're only making assumptions that any empiricist would make starting out. I mean, I get that you believe that testing can't be tested down to your personal level of philosophical satisfaction, but that seems to echo the brain-in-a-vat worry.
I am okay with it. I'm, as you said, not fully satisfied with it does not satisfy me. But that's not your problem or a problem with empiricism per se, and why I go an extra step many may see as unnecessary.

HisWillness wrote:

It's odd in my experience, but that doesn't mean it's wrong or anything. Maybe I just don't know what you mean. With the Latin language, we have enough of a record to get an idea of how it developed into Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, and influenced German, etc. so there isn't as much "lasting effects" analysis going on as just looking at the use of language.

Maybe another example to illustrate what you mean would help.

How about the ancient Sumerian civilization, a civilization that pretty much died without leaving a legacy as the Roman civilization did. The lasting effects are the artifacts. The language itself has been painstakingly rediscovered over the past 200 years, so what we know of it is through reconstruction. We cannot say it has lasting effects as the Latin language does.

HisWillness wrote:

As for miracles, the only contention I have is that saying "miracle" doesn't actually help anyone's understanding. Yes, Hume meant a transgression of natural law, but that's not helpful. What we see time and time again is that if there is a "transgression" of a law, it's not that the behaviour of nature has changed, but that our understanding of it must change to accurately reflect observation. So "miracle" is a bit backwards. It implies that we have exhaustive knowledge, and that we can identify when exactly an immutable law is being broken. That's not the case if we follow the principle of falsification.

Saying "miracle" also carries with it a whole bunch of question begging. A miracle is performed (by what? why? etc.) and we manage to create a performer out of ignorance. "Miracle" doesn't actually answer anything.

I think you are right about Hume's definition assuming that we have exhaustive knowledge and that natural laws are immutable. Perhaps a modified Humean definition in historical terms might be better. First, define a miracle as a historically significant event, which would be an event that defies common events of a given type. An event like the Challenger disaster or the bombing of Hiroshima would be historically significant events compared to me getting up every morning. This is different from saying that an event is unlikely to occur because some other events occurs, but rather notes that some event happens once compared to other events of a given type. I cannot speak to the probability that something will happen, but note that compared to other events that have happened it seems less common. Second, one could define a miracle as an event whose cause is presumably non-natural as opposed to defining it as a violation of a natural law. I think this differs from Hume in that it does not presume exhaustive knowledge in the form of "natural laws" as a basis for its the definition and it offers a mode of falsification as one merely shows that such an event has a natural explanation.


One might presume this to be an explanation from ignorance, but this is to presume that there is a natural explanation for some event when there very well may not be. Under the PSR, one may very well have sufficient reason to believe that an explanation is indeed non-natural based on the given data. I've mentioned one of Clarke's "laws" before which says, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." If a magician had a black silk hat that could produced bunnies, it could that the hat is either a teleportation device that teleports bunnies from another room (which in light of our current technological understanding would appear to be magic) or it could be that the hat indeed creates bunnies ex nihilo. To assert that the hat applies some sort of physics that is unknown to us at the time would actually be an explanation from ignorance as opposed to believing with sufficient reason that the hat is indeed magic. I suppose one could suggest that we just do not know, but this seems to be dishonest if there is sufficient reason to believe that some event of this sort is indeed available.

The challenge for those who believe miracles to occur is to point to some event that does not have an a reasonable natural explanation and show they have sufficient reason to believe that it has a non-natural explanation.

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BobSpence1 wrote:That

BobSpence1 wrote:


That ignores the fact established rigorously by Göedel, that no system of thought can be shown to be complete in that way. You cannot verify any system of thought from within the system. At least empiricism specifically and comprehensively the vast majority of our experience in as direct a way as possible, so it makes sense to make the working assumption that it is true. Proof is irrelevant to anyone but the philosophical/metaphysical pedant.

Theists  are logically required to prove some way of demonstrating that their world-view answers fundamental questions which are apparent to all serious thinkers in a clearly 'superior' manner to all others available, and not just in an 'Gap' sense, ie, "you don't have a workable explanation so ours must be true', but without significant unsupported assumptions or seriously questionable reasoning. NOTE, I am not calling for strict proof here, which is almost certainly impossible, just as reasonable a criteria as possible.

Without such a requirement, there is no way to separate Theist ideas from any of the literally infinite number of alternative ideas which may be internally consistent but have no anchor to empirical reality. This is also why Occam's Razor is so important.

So we see that their position ultimately reduces, still, to a 'God-of-the-Gaps', or an insistence that unless we can 100% disprove God, they win...

Same old same old....


I suppose I am one of the "pedant" you speak of, because I think Wittgenstein had a point when he asserted that the task of philosophy was to clarify thought, so pardon my bantering. If at any moment you want to stop talking about this stuff, feel free.

To conclude "At least empiricism specifically and comprehensively the vast majority of our experience in as direct a way as possible, so it makes sense to make the working assumption that it is true" is to show empiricism's cohesiveness, but it really circular as the conclusion is also assumption. I really do not see how this would make it any better than something else. I like empirical modes of justification insofar as empirical modes of justifications work, but I do believe they have limits and that they are only as good as the assumptions they make. Occam's razor among other pragmatic principles help narrow the scope, but it does not guarantee what it shave away is not true.

Gödel also pointed out that one set of axioms could possibly prove another set of axioms, so which set do I choose? The choice is rather arbitrary if this is true.
 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

HisWillness wrote:
And thus, the concept of the idea-as-thing still isn't working out, as you demonstrate. If we take ideas to be processes (that is, active brains and communication), we suffer from no such difficulties.

As processes...hmm...I generally think of ideas as non-causal things. What do you perceive to be the difference in this and processes? Is process not a thing? This may be my lack of understanding, as I haven't heard of ideas being reformed to as processes before.

Any thoughts have to have time to form, so they're processes. We can watch neurons "lighting up" in certain areas of the brain when listening to music or doing math, so while the cascade of electrochemical activity doesn't follow the same pattern in every human being, it does follow a pattern.

You would break a causal paradigm of the world with a non-causal thing, wouldn't you?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
... Second, one could define a miracle whose cause is presumably non-natural as opposed to defining it as a violation of a natural law. I think this differs from Hume in that it does not presume exhaustive knowledge in the form of "natural laws" as a basis for its the definition and it offers a mode of falsification as one merely shows that such an event has a natural explanation.

We've come full circle here, as to present a cause as "non-natural", you're saying a lot. You're definitely begging the question. We at least have some knowledge of the natural world. Of the "non-natural" world, we have exactly nothing. If you're talking about a part of the natural world of which we're ignorant, that's fine, but to say "non-natural" is either meaningless, or implies more knowledge than you or I actually have.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
One might presume this to be an explanation from ignorance, but this is to presume that there is a natural explanation for some event when there very well may not be. Under the PSR, one may very well have sufficient reason to believe that an explanation is indeed non-natural based on the given data. I've mentioned one of Clarke's "laws" before which says, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." If a magician had a black silk hat that could produced bunnies, it could that the hat is either a teleportation device that teleports bunnies from another room (which in light of our current technological understanding would appear to be magic) or it could be that the hat indeed creates bunnies ex nihilo. To assert that the hat applies some sort of physics that is unknown to us at the time would actually be an explanation from ignorance as opposed to believing with sufficient reason that the hat is indeed magic.

Oh, I see. No, not exactly. Not that I haven't seen this argument before, but it's sophistry. The suggestion is again that presuming a natural explanation is a presupposition, when that's actually not the case. If we were to begin a scientific inquiry into the magic hat trick, "magic" could never be one of the hypotheses considered, because magic has neither quantity nor quality. There's nothing to test, so there's no hypothesis.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The challenge for those who believe miracles to occur is to point to some event that does not have an a reasonable natural explanation and show they have suffecient reason to beleive that it has a non-natrual explanation.

If you mean an explanation that doesn't quite fit with our current understanding of the physical world, then "sufficient reason" would mean more evidence than over 100 years of constant work by hundreds of thousands of scientists working 24 hours a day. That's an uphill climb, but it's not impossible. It would also end up being a natural explanation.

If, however, you're applying meaning to "non-natural" as though it has some, then the original problem stands: what's the non-natural made of, and how much of it is there?

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HisWillness wrote:One might

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
One might presume this to be an explanation from ignorance, but this is to presume that there is a natural explanation for some event when there very well may not be. Under the PSR, one may very well have sufficient reason to believe that an explanation is indeed non-natural based on the given data. I've mentioned one of Clarke's "laws" before which says, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." If a magician had a black silk hat that could produced bunnies, it could that the hat is either a teleportation device that teleports bunnies from another room (which in light of our current technological understanding would appear to be magic) or it could be that the hat indeed creates bunnies ex nihilo. To assert that the hat applies some sort of physics that is unknown to us at the time would actually be an explanation from ignorance as opposed to believing with sufficient reason that the hat is indeed magic.
Isn't that, then, presuming a non-natural explanation?  In both cases there is insufficient data to conclude what the explanation is.  Therefor an investigation must be conducted.  If a hypothesis is to be considered at all, then it must be natural (word games again).  If the event is non-natural, then there can be no hypothesis, and the event would be utterly unfalsifiable and we would be incapable of investigating it.  How could anyone ever have sufficient reason to conclude that an event for which there is no explanation is caused non-naturally rather than naturally without presuming much more than she can claim to know?

[mod edit to correct quote attribution]

 

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  HisWillness wrote:Any

 

 

HisWillness wrote:

Any thoughts have to have time to form, so they're processes. We can watch neurons "lighting up" in certain areas of the brain when listening to music or doing math, so while the cascade of electrochemical activity doesn't follow the same pattern in every human being, it does follow a pattern.

You would break a causal paradigm of the world with a non-causal thing, wouldn't you?

So are you saying that ideas are the chemical processes or something else?

HisWillness wrote:

We've come full circle here, as to present a cause as "non-natural", you're saying a lot. You're definitely begging the question. We at least have some knowledge of the natural world. Of the "non-natural" world, we have exactly nothing. If you're talking about a part of the natural world of which we're ignorant, that's fine, but to say "non-natural" is either meaningless, or implies more knowledge than you or I actually have.


I would make a distinction between meaninglessness and that which is unknowable. Meaninglessness would mean that it cannot be define. That which is unknowable as is not necessarily indefinable, but rather inaccessible. Perhaps asserting a non-natural cause is not saying much...it is saying something about what the cause, that it is not natural and suggesting it is something else. Now the question then falls onto what is what that "something else" may be, but that is not possible if one restricts modes of explanation to natural explanations prima facie. If the something else outside the scope of what I am using, then maybe I need to widen my scope to see if I can ascertain what that cause may be.

HisWillness wrote:

Oh, I see. No, not exactly. Not that I haven't seen this argument before, but it's sophistry. The suggestion is again that presuming a natural explanation is a presupposition, when that's actually not the case. If we were to begin a scientific inquiry into the magic hat trick, "magic" could never be one of the hypotheses considered, because magic has neither quantity nor quality. There's nothing to test, so there's no hypothesis.

To suppose it is not a possibility is to presume such things is not a valid explanation, rather than concluding this for a given event. This is question begging. Also, I think to test such a thing empirically is a categorical error. Lastly, magic is really not the issue as a non-natural cause could be any number of things.

HisWillness wrote:

If you mean an explanation that doesn't quite fit with our current understanding of the physical world, then "sufficient reason" would mean more evidence than over 100 years of constant work by hundreds of thousands of scientists working 24 hours a day. That's an uphill climb, but it's not impossible. It would also end up being a natural explanation.

If, however, you're applying meaning to "non-natural" as though it has some, then the original problem stands: what's the non-natural made of, and how much of it is there?

Again, this would be a categorical error, because I'm not looking for a testable scenario. Picking up a rock and dropping it to the ground a billion times says nothing about the possibility about some event happening tomorrow.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:To

ubuntuAnyone wrote:


To suppose it is not a possibility is to presume such things is not a valid explanation, rather than concluding this for a given event. This is question begging. Also, I think to test such a thing empirically is a categorical error. Lastly, magic is really not the issue as a non-natural cause could be any number of things.

How can you know that?  How can you know anything about the 'non-natural' in order to claim that it could be any number of things?

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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Thomathy wrote:How can you

Thomathy wrote:

How can you know that?  How can you know anything about the 'non-natural' in order to claim that it could be any number of things?

 

If something does not have reasonable natural explanation for some events and has sufficient reason to believe that the event occurred by non-natural means, then it is reasonable to think the cause was not natural. This is a conclusion based on what one knows about natural causes. To suggest that it is not a possible explanation is question begging. This is not trying to ascertain the specifics of the cause per se, but rather negate what one already affirmatively knows to be reasonable natural explanations for events.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I would

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I would make a distinction between meaninglessness and that which is unknowable. Meaninglessness would mean that it cannot be define. That which is unknowable as is not necessarily indefinable, but rather inaccessible. Perhaps asserting a non-natural cause is not saying much...but it saying something about what the cause, that it is not natural and something else. Now the question then falls onto what is what that "something else" may be. If the something else outside the scope of what I am using, then maybe I need to widen my scope to see if I can ascertain what that cause may be.

You would have already made a presupposition, though. That non-natural things can be the cause of something natural. Even saying "something else" is nonsensical, because "something" is fairly well understood, but what you mean is "non-natural X", which we don't know the quality or quantity of. Essentially, your suggestion is more ignorance. We're "widening the scope" to a cause that we don't know anything about, and suggesting that doesn't offer any explanation at all.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
To suppose it is not a possibility is to presume such things is not a valid explanation, rather than concluding this for a given event. This is question begging.

No it's not. When you present something that isn't an explanation, and say that it is, that's not valid.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Also, I think to test such a thing empirically is a categorical error. Lastly, magic is really not the issue as a non-natural cause could be any number of things.

That's precisely the problem. It can be any X that is "non-natural". Our first presumption is that it can somehow cause an effect. Our second presumption is that an infinite number of possibilities from ignorance have one or two that are probable. That's simply not the case.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Again, this would be a categorical error, because I'm not looking for a testable scenario. Picking up a rock and dropping it to the ground a billion times says nothing about the possibility about some event happening tomorrow.

So you're not looking for something that would be testable, you're looking for ... what, exactly? Because saying "magic" or "miracle" is still presenting an information vacuum. If it can't be tested, and it doesn't make sense logically, then what are we looking for?

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

How can you know that?  How can you know anything about the 'non-natural' in order to claim that it could be any number of things?

 

If something does not have reasonable natural explanation for some events and has sufficient reason to believe that the event occurred by non-natural means, then it is reasonable to think the cause was not natural. This is a conclusion based on what one knows about natural causes. To suggest that it is not a possible explanation is question begging. This is not trying to ascertain the specifics of the cause per se, but rather negate what one already affirmatively knows to be reasonable natural explanations for events.

 

 

But that's ridiculous.  The person would be claiming to know more than they can.  They are claiming to exhaustively know about every possible natural cause or arbitrarily, because of their ignorance, create a new category of things they don't know but which that event could be: non-natural.  That's not reasonable at all.  What is reasonable in that case is to admit ignorance, not suppose that something is rather non-natural when they can't possibly have any basis for that presumption.


 

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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HisWillness wrote:You would

HisWillness wrote:

You would have already made a presupposition, though. That non-natural things can be the cause of something natural. Even saying "something else" is nonsensical, because "something" is fairly well understood, but what you mean is "non-natural X", which we don't know the quality or quantity of. Essentially, your suggestion is more ignorance. We're "widening the scope" to a cause that we don't know anything about, and suggesting that doesn't offer any explanation at all.

Perhaps it is not that it nonsense, but rather that how I understand such things cannot accommodate them. This is why I in part think it is question begging.

HisWillness wrote:

That's precisely the problem. It can be any X that is "non-natural". Our first presumption is that it can somehow cause an effect. Our second presumption is that an infinite number of possibilities from ignorance have one or two that are probable. That's simply not the case.

That is why I couched things in possibilities rather than actualities. I am saying that the explanation for the event is not-natural, a statement about a state of affairs. What would you do if you were presented with blatant violation of what you perceived to be natural explanations?

Also, if one were to trim away the infinite number of cases prima facie as not possible, one is question begging. Suppose I ask you what is possible or what is meaningful and you tell me. Suppose I then offer something that does not fit these definitions. If you tell me that it is not possible or meaningless, you have done so not on account of what is being offered, but a predisposition towards such things.


HisWillness wrote:

So you're not looking for something that would be testable, you're looking for ... what, exactly? Because saying "magic" or "miracle" is still presenting an information vacuum. If it can't be tested, and it doesn't make sense logically, then what are we looking for?

I thought I explained this already, but the whole issue of testing keeps coming back up, and maybe therein lays the problem, as I do not think this is applicable under the given conditions. Something else is needed because one cannot tests onetime events.

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Thomathy wrote:But that's

Thomathy wrote:
But that's ridiculous.  The person would be claiming to know more than they can.  They are claiming to exhaustively know about every possible natural cause or arbitrarily, because of their ignorance, create a new category of things they don't know but which that event could be: non-natural.  That's not reasonable at all.  What is reasonable in that case is to admit ignorance, not suppose that something is rather non-natural when they can't possibly have any basis for that presumption.

If exhaustive knowledge is a requisite, then one cannot dismiss such possibilities without exhaustive knowledge of all possibilities. But we're not talking about certainties, we're talking about possibilities in light of events. Admitting ignorance in the face of blatant violations of what is perceived to natural explanations when one has good reason to believe otherwise is not reasonable, it's disingenuous. I'm not talking about a new category. As far as I know it has existed for longer than I've been around.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:
But that's ridiculous.  The person would be claiming to know more than they can.  They are claiming to exhaustively know about every possible natural cause or arbitrarily, because of their ignorance, create a new category of things they don't know but which that event could be: non-natural.  That's not reasonable at all.  What is reasonable in that case is to admit ignorance, not suppose that something is rather non-natural when they can't possibly have any basis for that presumption.

If exhaustive knowledge is a requisite, then one cannot dismiss such possibilities without exhaustive knowledge of all possibilities.

Granted.

Quote:
But we're not talking about certainties, we're talking about possibilities in light of events.
Mhmm ...

Quote:
Admitting ignorance in the face of blatant violations of what is perceived to natural explanations when one has good reason to believe otherwise is not reasonable, it's disingenuous.
Why does the person have good reason to believe that something they don't know to be natural is non-natural?  How can they possibly know?  How can they come to that conclusion without making, what is obvious to me is, a presumption?  They have no basis on which to base their conclusion and given that they don't have exhaustive knowledge of all that is natural then they can't safely assume that it's rather non-natural.  If they don't know, then they're ignorant.  All this, unless you can describe to me what would be good criterion on which to believe that a non-natural explanation (which the person necessarily can't know) is more reasonable.

Quote:
I'm not talking about a new category. As far as I know it has existed for longer than I've been around.
Except that there isn't anything known to be in the category.

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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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

You would have already made a presupposition, though. That non-natural things can be the cause of something natural. Even saying "something else" is nonsensical, because "something" is fairly well understood, but what you mean is "non-natural X", which we don't know the quality or quantity of. Essentially, your suggestion is more ignorance. We're "widening the scope" to a cause that we don't know anything about, and suggesting that doesn't offer any explanation at all.

Perhaps it is not that it nonsense, but rather that how I understand such things cannot accommodate them. This is why I in part think it is question begging.

You'd have to clarify what you mean. How you don't understand what, exactly? I'm suggesting that we're all ignorant of something we're all ignorant of, which strikes me as particularly obvious, but having understanding before any information at all would be a real feat.

"Maybe it's a miracle" or "maybe it's not part of the natural world" has no explanatory power at all.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I am saying that the explanation for the event is not-natural, a statement about a state of affairs.

But that's senseless. You don't know any more about the not-natural than I do. Even ignoring the possibility of ever testing an unnatural event, talking about it like it explains anything is meaningless, because you impart exactly no information in that statement.

If someone gets sick, and you tell them it's a miracle, how does that explain anything? It doesn't. In fact, I imagine you would intuitively object to the example because miracles are positive things, and associated with gods. That's begging the question. Going on the assumption that we're dealing with mostly-consistent physical systems is not.

If the explanation is "not-natural", then what would you be trying to say, anyway?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
What would you do if you were presented with blatant violation of what you perceived to be natural explanations?

Form a new explanation. It would be a natural explanation, of course, because I have no grasp of the "non-natural". Nobody does. So I have no way to provide a non-natural explanation anyway.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Also, if one were to trim away the infinite number of cases prima facie as not possible, one is question begging.

Not if they're internally contradictory, as above. Since we're able to determine what is possible and not logically, there are a good number of cases that could be eliminated.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Suppose I ask you what is possible or what is meaningful and you tell me. Suppose I then offer something that does not fit these definitions. If you tell me that it is not possible or meaningless, you have done so not on account of what is being offered, but a predisposition towards such things.

Except, again, if what you're presenting is internally contradictory. I can't really tell you what's possible or meaningful outside of the logical arena, but if something fails even in the abstract conditions of logical discourse, then there's nothing to suggest that such a thing is possible. That is, if you believe statements like "something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time." 

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I thought I explained this already, but the whole issue of testing keeps coming back up, and maybe therein lays the problem, as I do not think this is applicable under the given conditions. Something else is needed because one cannot tests onetime events.

One time events, eh? What could we be talking about?

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HisWillness wrote:You'd have

HisWillness wrote:

You'd have to clarify what you mean. How you don't understand what, exactly? I'm suggesting that we're all ignorant of something we're all ignorant of, which strikes me as particularly obvious, but having understanding before any information at all would be a real feat.

If axiomatically I'm comitted to some sort of naturalism, in light of that, any sort of non-natural cause cannot possibly make sense.

HisWillness wrote:

"Maybe it's a miracle" or "maybe it's not part of the natural world" has no explanatory power at all.

This may not have explanatory power, but it can be an accurate statement about a state of affairs, and this is all one would need to warrant some sort of investigation, and if my mode of investigation cannot accomodate the sort of cause, then maybe I need to get another mode of investigation.

HisWillness wrote:

But that's senseless. You don't know any more about the not-natural than I do. Even ignoring the possibility of ever testing an unnatural event, talking about it like it explains anything is meaningless, because you impart exactly no information in that statement.

If someone gets sick, and you tell them it's a miracle, how does that explain anything? It doesn't. In fact, I imagine you would intuitively object to the example because miracles are positive things, and associated with gods. That's begging the question. Going on the assumption that we're dealing with mostly-consistent physical systems is not.

If the explanation is "not-natural", then what would you be trying to say, anyway?


I'm not suggesting that I do, but there are plenty of people who think they do. Of course I'm going to object, because as far I know this sort of miracle does not really fit the sort of definition of a miracle that I was talking about. I've been to the doctor before (in fact, I was so sick they admitted me and I had to stay 2 days) At the end of the stay, the doctor had no explanation what made me sick or why I got better, but at the same time I do not have reason to believe that such a thing was a miracle, and given a thorough investigation, the doctor could have discovered the cause and the cure. But I'm not talking about such cases, but more so things like  magic fireballs or bunnies from magic silk hats.

All I'm asserting by such things is that the cause is not natural. If it is such thing, then I'm obviously not going to be able to explain it naturally, so another mode of explanation is needed.

HisWillness wrote:

Form a new explanation. It would be a natural explanation, of course, because I have no grasp of the "non-natural". Nobody does. So I have no way to provide a non-natural explanation anyway....Since we're able to determine what is possible and not logically, there are a good number of cases that could be eliminated.
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I can't really tell you what's possible or meaningful outside of the logical arena, but if something fails even in the abstract conditions of logical discourse, then there's nothing to suggest that such a thing is possible. That is, if you believe statements like "something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time."

To assert that, "because I have no grasp of the "non-natural". Nobody does." is to assert exactly what I'm getting at. Per my discussion with Bob, I asserted that I think that a system is only as good as the assumptions it makes, and my contention, which I believe I have expressed on many occasions, is the concern similar to a brain-in-a-vat scenario. I cannot ground the assumption that the world I am observing in some sort of empirical realism, yet you're insisting that everything that has meaning be grounded in this world. If I apply your criterion to the assumption, it fails and the whole system collapses into meaninglessness. The problem then is not so much meaninglessness, but accessibility, which goes back to the sort of discussion we had earlier concerning a union of two worlds. I am okay with making the assumption, but I also realize its implications.

HisWillness wrote:

One time events, eh? What could we be talking about?

Historical events.

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Thomathy wrote:Why does the

Thomathy wrote:

Why does the person have good reason to believe that something they don't know to be natural is non-natural?  How can they possibly know?  How can they come to that conclusion without making, what is obvious to me is, a presumption?  They have no basis on which to base their conclusion and given that they don't have exhaustive knowledge of all that is natural then they can't safely assume that it's rather non-natural.  If they don't know, then they're ignorant.  All this, unless you can describe to me what would be good criterion on which to believe that a non-natural explanation (which the person necessarily can't know) is more reasonable.


Per the magic hat and magic fireball, should someone witness something like this, see its effects, and have not have a reasonable explanation to believe it has a natural cause (that is if any natural explanation results in an appeal to ignorance), then one has reason to believe that the cause was indeed not natural. This does however does not guarantee that the cause not natural. Per my discussion with will, I think asserting "which the person necessarily can't know" is question begging.

How would you approach such events?

Quote:

Except that there isn't anything known to be in the category.


Anything you can think of, actual or not, would be in this category: gods, djinns, ghosts, etc.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

Why does the person have good reason to believe that something they don't know to be natural is non-natural?  How can they possibly know?  How can they come to that conclusion without making, what is obvious to me is, a presumption?  They have no basis on which to base their conclusion and given that they don't have exhaustive knowledge of all that is natural then they can't safely assume that it's rather non-natural.  If they don't know, then they're ignorant.  All this, unless you can describe to me what would be good criterion on which to believe that a non-natural explanation (which the person necessarily can't know) is more reasonable.


Per the magic hat and magic fireball, should someone witness something like this, see its effects, and have not have a reasonable explanation to believe it has a natural cause (that is if any natural explanation results in an appeal to ignorance), then one has reason to believe that the cause was indeed not natural. This does however does not guarantee that the cause not natural. Per my discussion with will, I think asserting "which the person necessarily can't know" is question begging.

How would you approach such events?

Honestly.  I would admit ignorance.  There is no reason for me to ever believe that something is not natural.  I have never witnessed anything but the natural and I would be claiming knowledge I didn't have to presume that something could be non-natural only because it doesn't fit with what I know to be natural.  To do otherwise would be to commit several fallacies.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Thomathy wrote:

Except that there isn't anything known to be in the category.

Anything you can think of, actual or not, would be in this category: gods, djinns, ghosts, etc.

That doesn't make sense to me.  I cannot understand, 'Anything you can think of, actual or not ...'.  There is nothing supernatural.  You're going to have to show me some coherence to this negative category in order for me to discuss what may be in it.  A category cannot be defined by what it does not contain.  Filling it with incoherent things is not filling it with anything and in that case we wouldn't be talking about supernatural, we would be talking about the category of things that are incoherent.

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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Thomathy wrote:That doesn't

Thomathy wrote:

That doesn't make sense to me.  I cannot understand, 'Anything you can think of, actual or not ...'.  There is nothing supernatural.  You're going to have to show me some coherence to this negative category in order for me to discuss what may be in it.  A category cannot be defined by what it does not contain.  Filling it with incoherent things is not filling it with anything and in that case we wouldn't be talking about supernatural, we would be talking about the category of things that are incoherent.

I think imaginations are powerful, as they can come up with some pretty intresting stiuff.  I suppose I love imaginative works, as I'm a huge fan of fantasy finction and the like and suppose why I like to think about such things. I'm also grateful for such things, as imaginations can be productive too in the form of thought experiments. Einstien credits his discovery of relativity to a thought experiment, a product of imagination and said of such things, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." I am not suggesting everything that is imaginable exists, but having intutions into the infinite possibilities I think can be a productive enterprise for discovering more knowledge.  Also, I think that the limit you are placing is self imposed, not a necessary limit.  William James may have been on to something when he suggested that people were generally as credulous as they wanted to be.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

That doesn't make sense to me.  I cannot understand, 'Anything you can think of, actual or not ...'.  There is nothing supernatural.  You're going to have to show me some coherence to this negative category in order for me to discuss what may be in it.  A category cannot be defined by what it does not contain.  Filling it with incoherent things is not filling it with anything and in that case we wouldn't be talking about supernatural, we would be talking about the category of things that are incoherent.

I think imaginations are powerful, as they can come up with some pretty intresting stiuff.  I suppose I love imaginative works, as I'm a huge fan of fantasy finction and the like and suppose why I like to think about such things. I'm also grateful for such things, as imaginations can be productive too in the form of thought experiments. Einstien credits his discovery of relativity to a thought experiment, a product of imagination and said of such things, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." I am not suggesting everything that is imaginable exists, but having intutions into the infinite possibilities I think can be a productive enterprise for discovering more knowledge.

I think you're reading me wrong.  I have no problem with imagination.  I'm a lover of fantasy and science fiction.  I happen to agree that the imagination is a useful tool to start off a quest for knowledge.  That is key, however, that it starts a quest for knowledge.  Firmly placing something you don't understand or cannot conceive to be natural into a category of things that is incoherent and of which knowledge cannot be had is not using the imagination.  Specifically, it would be fallacious to suppose the supernatural even if you could not conceive of something to be natural; you would be suffering, then, from a lack of imagination.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Also, I think that the limit you are placing is self imposed, not a necessary limit.  William James may have been on to something when he suggested that people were generally as credulous as they wanted to be.
Surely, you mean incredulous?  Otherwise I don't understand why you suggest that I am imposing a limit upon myself and am especially willing to believe without evidence (credulous).  I don't believe I am placing limits on myself, however, unless an expectation of evidence and (valid) reason is a limit.  I'm a healthy sceptic, I think.

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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ubuntuAnyone wrote:If

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If axiomatically I'm comitted to some sort of naturalism, in light of that, any sort of non-natural cause cannot possibly make sense.

No, you just have to be committed to understanding the logic of the situation. What are you suggesting when you say "non-natural"? You can't actually define it, we can't discuss it in any meaningful way. What else does "make sense" mean?

"Non-natural" represents only ignorance.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

"Maybe it's a miracle" or "maybe it's not part of the natural world" has no explanatory power at all.

This may not have explanatory power, but it can be an accurate statement about a state of affairs

That's pure equivocation. Explanatory power IS an accurate statement about a state of affairs. "It's a miracle" has no explanatory power.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
and this is all one would need to warrant some sort of investigation, and if my mode of investigation cannot accomodate the sort of cause, then maybe I need to get another mode of investigation.

Bizarrely, it seems as though you're now simply ignoring what I've written. If you really, really need the answer to be "miracle", then ask yourself why that might be first. Because miracles don't work logically. "Miracle" is just a label on ignorance that imparts no additional information. So what drives your need for the answer to be a miracle?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But I'm not talking about such cases, but more so things like  magic fireballs or bunnies from magic silk hats.

Your assumption would then be in both cases that a miracle occurs? Why even go through that step? Using Arthur C. Clarke's "sufficiently advanced technology" gives us the hint that even when we see things that appear to be magic, they're still part of the natural world.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
All I'm asserting by such things is that the cause is not natural.

And it's a bald assertion, because causation is a feature of the natural world. You can't just assume that the non-natural ... whatever ... has causation because you feel like it.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If it is such thing, then I'm obviously not going to be able to explain it naturally, so another mode of explanation is needed.

Except that any such explanation will be meaningless, because there is no information about the non-natural.

HisWillness wrote:

Form a new explanation. It would be a natural explanation, of course, because I have no grasp of the "non-natural". Nobody does. So I have no way to provide a non-natural explanation anyway....Since we're able to determine what is possible and not logically, there are a good number of cases that could be eliminated.
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I can't really tell you what's possible or meaningful outside of the logical arena, but if something fails even in the abstract conditions of logical discourse, then there's nothing to suggest that such a thing is possible. That is, if you believe statements like "something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time."

To assert that, "because I have no grasp of the "non-natural". Nobody does." is to assert exactly what I'm getting at.

Okay, then, cards down: what do you know about the non-natural? What does anybody know about the non-natural?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I cannot ground the assumption that the world I am observing in some sort of empirical realism, yet you're insisting that everything that has meaning be grounded in this world.

No, I'm insisting that any existential propositions be clean and free of nonsense, and that the propositions have meaning. If we're discussing something logically, then let's do that. If we're discussing empirical knowledge, let's do that.

There's literally no point in proposing a situation that is imperceptible from our current situation. Since the rules of that situation are that we would never know the difference, then it suffers from an infinite regress of possibility: our brains could be in a vat that's in another vat, in a spaceship, which is flying in a giant sombrero smothered in cheese, etc, etc. The details of the vat situation are unimportant. The important part is that the illusion is perfect. As a result, there is no reason to bother with it at all.

If we had some hope of perceiving the "real" reality, fine. But the above scenario doesn't allow for that, and is reduced to irrelevance.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If I apply your criterion to the assumption, it fails and the whole system collapses into meaninglessness.

My criterion for meaning in this case is fairly simple: no internal contradictions. I don't see how an empirical method fails because of that.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The problem then is not so much meaninglessness, but accessibility, which goes back to the sort of discussion we had earlier concerning a union of two worlds. I am okay with making the assumption, but I also realize its implications.

You're still making an existential proposition with "worlds". And you're doing so without reason. Just because we can imagine something doesn't mean it warrants existence.

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HisWillness wrote:No, you

HisWillness wrote:

No, you just have to be committed to understanding the logic of the situation. What are you suggesting when you say "non-natural"? You can't actually define it, we can't discuss it in any meaningful way. What else does "make sense" mean?


I'm talking about any number of possible non-natural explanations, not one in particular, but some examples would be things such as djinns, spirits, gods, magic, etc. The non-natural cause would be the workings of such agents. I'm not suggesting these things actually exist, but we can imagine them, which in some ways, seems to give such things some sort of meaning even if it not grounded.

HisWillness wrote:

That's pure equivocation. Explanatory power IS an accurate statement about a state of affairs. "It's a miracle" has no explanatory power.

Explanatory in the sense that it gives a full-blown explanation as to how, what, why etc. To say something is non-natural is not the same as saying something is a miracle. And if you say "it's is a miracle, and the event is indeed a miracle, then statement is an accurate statement. But of course under your paradigm this explanation is not an explanation because it is seemingly meaningless.

HisWillness wrote:

Okay, then, cards down: what do you know about the non-natural? What does anybody know about the non-natural?

I've heard a lot about what others have told me I like to read fantasy, and often demons are described in the book. I would consider demons to be non-natural agents and their workings to be non-natural causes. After having read the novels about them I learned about them. I know this is purely fictional, but would this constitute "knowing" something under your paradigm?
 
HisWillness wrote:

No, I'm insisting that any existential propositions be clean and free of nonsense, and that the propositions have meaning. If we're discussing something logically, then let's do that. If we're discussing empirical knowledge, let's do that.

There's literally no point in proposing a situation that is imperceptible from our current situation. Since the rules of that situation are that we would never know the difference, then it suffers from an infinite regress of possibility: our brains could be in a vat that's in another vat, in a spaceship, which is flying in a giant sombrero smothered in cheese, etc, etc. The details of the vat situation are unimportant. The important part is that the illusion is perfect. As a result, there is no reason to bother with it at all.

If we had some hope of perceiving the "real" reality, fine. But the above scenario doesn't allow for that, and is reduced to irrelevance.


I suppose what you mean by existential propositions are propositions that refer to the existence or non-existence of entities. It seems that in your instance "that any existential propositions be clean and free of nonsense", you remove nonsense by grounding such statements in our "current situation" through empirical methods, which is what I am calling a "world". I am speaking in terms of counterfactuals and modal logic as counterfactuals help establish necessities and possibilities through supposing other-world scenarios, even if they do not exist. I'm not so much concerned about the details as I am about the implications. Because the scenario does not allow for a "hope of perceiving the 'real' reality,"  it seems that insisting that something contingent upon such an assumption that does not follow the same rules amounts to a self-defeating system. This seems to be a problem with most of the work that was started by the logical positivist and their progeny. Because the given scenario exposes a problem, to dismiss such things as irrelevant is a red herring.

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