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: 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, as 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 insistance "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.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I'm

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
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.

Oh, I see. Yes, of course fiction has meaning, it just doesn't propose existence.

As a more "grounded" example, an architect can produce drawings of a building not yet built, and until the project is finished, I suppose the plans would count as fiction. As a possibility. That would be a real example of how imagination and reality can overlap.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I've heard a lot about what others have told me, as 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?

Considering I'm arguing that the non-natural is pure fantasy, I suppose it would.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
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 insistance "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".

No, I'm just following the Boolean interpretation of logic, wherein universal propositions ("all S is P" or "no S is P" ) carry no existential import. When you introduce "world", you're implying existence without warrant.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
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 see. I got confused because my original post was concerned with existence. You mean like Kripke semantics modal logic? Or do you mean establishing causality in an empirical setting? Intuitionistic logic?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
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.

I'm not sure I understand. What rules are we following, then?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
This seems to be a problem with most of the work that was started by the logical positivist and their progeny.

Popper really did kill the Vienna Circle. You have no argument from me there.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Because the given scenario exposes a problem, to dismiss such things as irrelevant is a red herring.

If we'll never know the difference, we'll never know the difference. Those are just the rules of the game. Presenting any possibility where we'll never know the difference is irrelevant. The key word is "never". If you want to change the rules and say there's a possibility we might know the difference at some point in the future, that's another thing entirely.

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HisWillness wrote:Oh, I see.

HisWillness wrote:

Oh, I see. Yes, of course fiction has meaning, it just doesn't propose existence.

As a more "grounded" example, an architect can produce drawings of a building not yet built, and until the project is finished, I suppose the plans would count as fiction. As a possibility. That would be a real example of how imagination and reality can overlap.

Right.

HisWillness wrote:

No, I'm just following the Boolean interpretation of logic, wherein universal propositions ("all S is P" or "no S is P" ) carry no existential import. When you introduce "world", you're implying existence without warrant.

I see. I got confused because my original post was concerned with existence. You mean like Kripke semantics modal logic? Or do you mean establishing causality in an empirical setting? Intuitionistic logic?

I'm not sure I understand. What rules are we following, then?

I suppose what I'm getting at is, what is "necessarily P". (Kripke is generally the primer on the subject, but it has been more advanced in the last 30 years or so.) That is that I cannot say that what I know to exist exists necessarily, I cannot suppose criterion for necessary existence then, only criterion for possible existence.

HisWillness wrote:

Popper really did kill the Vienna Circle. You have no argument from me there.

Popper fine tuned I think. His concern was with the problem of induction, which was the hallmark of the positivist's empiricism.

HisWillness wrote:

If we'll never know the difference, we'll never know the difference. Those are just the rules of the game. Presenting any possibility where we'll never know the difference is irrelevant. The key word is "never". If you want to change the rules and say there's a possibility we might know the difference at some point in the future, that's another thing entirely.

Because we can't know the difference, we assume it to be true axiomatically, otherwise we slip into some sort of solipsism. But it is nevertheless an a posteriori statement that is assumed to be true and cannot be empirically induced or be falsified.

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Thomathy wrote:I think

Thomathy wrote:

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.

Are you saying then that I should be able to imagine a way for demons, angels, etc. to exist in the way a that natural things exist?

 

Thomathy wrote:
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.

I tihnk what William James was getting at is that some people are willing to believe somethings with little or no evidence making them credulous for those particular instances, but at the same time demand mountains of verification for other things. Maybe I did read you wrong.

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The "problem of induction"

The "problem of induction" arises from a misunderstanding of the nature of inductive reasoning.

Inductive reasoning is the only path to what can count as something approaching actual knowledge of reality beyond the world of our imagination. It cannot be argued about by ordinary logic which is not equipped to handle arguments based on likelihoods and probabilities.

Criticisms of inductive reasoning also miss the point that no system of handling ideas can be self-justifying, including basic logic and math.

The only systems which allow some form of 100% proof of statements are ultimately tautologies, deriving conclusions from pre-defined assumptions or 'axioms'. They cannot make definitive statements about empirical reality, but insofar as the axioms of the system can be adequately mapped to elements of empirical reality, the conclusions, or 'theorems', of the system can be extremely useful tools for exploring and analyse empirical data and observations, as with mathematics. We have a choice: a system of ideas can either be internally certain and provable (apart from Göedel statements), or can make useful, justifiable, but not absolutely provable statements about reality, but not both, it seems.

Also, there are no demonstrably 'necessary' entities - that is an incoherent medieval assumption, along with 'final causes' and other such ideas. Any discussion of such things, as with talk of the realm of 'non-natural' entities is the worst form of question-begging, also describable as "Ontological Silliness".

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:Inductive

BobSpence1 wrote:
Inductive reasoning is the only path to what can count as something approaching actual knowledge of reality beyond the world of our imagination. It cannot be argued about by ordinary logic which is not equipped to handle arguments based on likelihoods and probabilities.

Ordinary logic in what sense? I thought this is what Baysean inferences were all about.

BobSpence1 wrote:

The only systems which allow some form of 100% proof of statements are ultimately tautologies, deriving conclusions from pre-defined assumptions or 'axioms'. They cannot make definitive statements about empirical reality, but insofar as the axioms of the system can be adequately mapped to elements of empirical reality, the conclusions, or 'theorems', of the system can be extremely useful tools for exploring and analyse empirical data and observations, as with mathematics. We have a choice: a system of ideas can either be internally certain and provable (apart from Göedel statements), or can make useful, justifiable, but not absolutely provable statements about reality, but not both, it seems.

Popper's falsification principle helps prevent question begging because some one could ascertain certain things based on how they define the test. A prime example are the intelligent design proponents that set the criterion then prove their own criterion. There in this system no way to falsify the system. If some one wanted to show something like Ohm's Law to be false, that person need only show one example where current was not the quotient of voltage over resistance.

Why is it an either-or proposition though? It seems that one needs axioms to get to empirical observation.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Also, there are no demonstrably 'necessary' entities - that is an incoherent medieval assumption, along with 'final causes' and other such ideas. Any discussion of such things, as with talk of the realm of 'non-natural' entities is the worst form of question-begging, also describable as "Ontological Silliness".

Is this absolutely certain if one  "can make useful, justifiable, but not absolutely provable statements about reality"? Also, How does "talk of the realm of 'non-natural' entities" result in question begging?

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Are you

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Are you saying then that I should be able to imagine a way for demons, angels, etc. to exist in the way a that natural things exist?

Not at all.  The question is about their existence in the first place.  I'm still concerned with how anyone could possibly know that they exist and know that they're not natural.  Frankly, I'm bewildered by the claim that anything can exist in this universe without being natural.  It's possible we're working from different definitions of what is natural.  To me it seems as though anything that exists in this universe exists as something in this universe and is necessarily natural and cannot be supernatural/not natural/non-natural.  Things that don't exist, don't exist, if you'll forgive the tautology.

Simply, it seems to me that if someone were to witness anything happening in this universe (as anything they witness must be) then there must be an explanation for that that is contained within this universe and is therefor natural.  Their ignorance of the process by which that something happened, even if all their present knowledge contradicted its possibility or that something truly confounded them and even without the tools or means with which to determine the cause or process by which that event happened, is no reason to suspect that something they have seen or otherwise observed is not some natural thing.

It is exactly the mistake ghost hunters or believers in miracles make to name an event supernatural because they don't know how else to explain it, because it contradicts some knowledge they have of how they think the universe works or because they are biased.  The ghost hunter thinks she sees a ghost and the Christian who finds a parking space after praying thinks her prayers have been answered and a miracle performed so he can park his car.  The fact, however, is that both events can be (and for most of their occurrences in the case of ghost sightings have been) explained and if the ghost really was seen or if the prayer really was answered, then there must be an explanation for that; ghosts and miracle parking spots would not be supernatural.

(Will or Bob, someone, tell me I'm making sense! Please.)

Quote:
I tihnk what William James was getting at is that some people are willing to believe somethings with little or no evidence making them credulous for those particular instances, but at the same time demand mountains of verification for other things. Maybe I did read you wrong.
I understand that.  Do you believe me to be credulous?  Have you a given example?  I think that you have read me wrong.

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


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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Inductive reasoning is the only path to what can count as something approaching actual knowledge of reality beyond the world of our imagination. It cannot be argued about by ordinary logic which is not equipped to handle arguments based on likelihoods and probabilities.

Ordinary logic in what sense? I thought this is what Baysean inferences were all about.

But Bayesean inferences do not produce true/false predicates, they produce probabilities.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

The only systems which allow some form of 100% proof of statements are ultimately tautologies, deriving conclusions from pre-defined assumptions or 'axioms'. They cannot make definitive statements about empirical reality, but insofar as the axioms of the system can be adequately mapped to elements of empirical reality, the conclusions, or 'theorems', of the system can be extremely useful tools for exploring and analyse empirical data and observations, as with mathematics. We have a choice: a system of ideas can either be internally certain and provable (apart from Göedel statements), or can make useful, justifiable, but not absolutely provable statements about reality, but not both, it seems.

Popper's falsification principle helps prevent question begging because some one could ascertain certain things based on how they define the test. A prime example are the intelligent design proponents that set the criterion then prove their own criterion. There in this system no way to falsify the system. If some one wanted to show something like Ohm's Law to be false, that person need only show one example where current was not the quotient of voltage over resistance.

That seems very confused. Of course you cannot falsify any system from within it. But I don't really see how that applies to Intelligent Design.

The Intelligent Design proponents don't actually use a separate system, they explicitly try to set their ideas within regular science. They make 'predictions' that certain things are impossible because of extreme improbability, based on what they claim are fully scientific, ie based on empirical evidence and assumptions, such as that there are no uses for even slightly incomplete assemblages of the components making up the bacterial flagellum. This was explicitly falsified by evidence of various organs made up of different combinations of the same proteins as in the flagellum. Their error was the assumption that structures that were effectively incomplete or different combinations of the same bits would have to have been targeted at the flagellum function, and so could not be functional. They did not allow that the evolutionary pathway could go thru stages where the 'incomplete' structures could have alternative useful functionality.

They also make assumptions about things being impossible to evolve by pure chance, but had not done their sums correctly, since applying many of their statistics to the actual rate of reproduction of bacteria would mean that many of these 'impossible' things had plenty of time to evolve, even if pure chance was the sole mechanism involved.

So they made plenty of claims which were easily shown to false. Their error was to make a number of untested assumptions which when examined simply collapsed.

Ohm's law is not a prediction, it is really just a definition of resistance, ie the ratio of the applied voltage to the current flowing thru a component. Many components do not display a linear resistance, so your version of Ohm's Law was 'falsified' long ago. For such components, which include virtually all semiconductors, there is an incremental resistance which will be seen by small signals superimposed on a DC current, defined as the slope of the voltage/current curve, ie dv/dI.

Popper's falsification principle is a separate issue, claiming that theories for which we can't imagine an observation which would refute it should not be considered truly scientific. But this is unworkable in general, and doesn't allow that theories, for which we can't devise or imagine an observation which would clearly disprove it, may still be perfectly usable and useful - all that is required is that is does make successful and useful predictions, in more cases and with fewer or preferably no 'errors' than the available alternatives. If a new theory makes more accurate predictions in more cases, it automatically supersedes the old one. 

Quote:

Why is it an either-or proposition though? It seems that one needs axioms to get to empirical observation.

But the 'axioms' of empirical systems are just the definitions of the terms employed to describe the observations and evidence, and those within the deductive (mathematical and logical) tools used to analyse the data and construct the theories, so they are there, but subordinate to the main thrust of the empirical arguments.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Also, there are no demonstrably 'necessary' entities - that is an incoherent medieval assumption, along with 'final causes' and other such ideas. Any discussion of such things, as with talk of the realm of 'non-natural' entities is the worst form of question-begging, also describable as "Ontological Silliness".

Is this absolutely certain if one  "can make useful, justifiable, but not absolutely provable statements about reality"? Also, How does "talk of the realm of 'non-natural' entities" result in question begging?

The statement that we cannot make absolutely provable and/or 100% certain statements about external reality (ie outside the realm of purely deductive, tautological systems) is as close to being certain as anything I can imagine. To assume otherwise would be hard to justify without assuming knowledge beyond what we can be confident about.

Talk of the realm of something as intrinsically undefined as the 'non-natural' begs the question that it can be defined. History is replete with examples of 'non-natural' assumptions being replaced by empirical and scientific theories and observations. It is simply a label for what we do not have a current explanation - the question-begging is the assumption that we will never have an explanation. When you stretch it further to include things such as gods and demons which are imagined to have attributes and powers not explicable or 'possible' within the current empirical understanding of nature begs the question whether they are actually possible in any meaningful sense.

Non-empirical systems are inherently subservient to the empirical, serving at best as tools or guides or sources of ideas to base hypotheses on to be tested. Actually study of reality is now a much more fruitful source of new ideas than the purely intellectual exercise of the imagination. The effort to explain various strange observations ultimately generated the highly counter-intuitive ideas of quantum mechanics and relativity.

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

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

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Thomathy wrote:Not at all. 

Thomathy wrote:
Not at all.  The question is about their existence in the first place.  I'm still concerned with how anyone could possibly know that they exist and know that they're not natural.  Frankly, I'm bewildered by the claim that anything can exist in this universe without being natural.  It's possible we're working from different definitions of what is natural.  To me it seems as though anything that exists in this universe exists as something in this universe and is necessarily natural and cannot be supernatural/not natural/non-natural.

A non-natural entity imaginably could have natural components. This is the sort of union of two worlds I was speaking with will about. If this were possible, then it would be reasonable to believe that knowledge about another world would be knowable. Call that world heaven, hell, Oz...I dunno.

Thomathy wrote:
Simply, it seems to me that if someone were to witness anything happening in this universe (as anything they witness must be) then there must be an explanation for that that is contained within this universe and is therefor natural.  Their ignorance of the process by which that something happened, even if all their present knowledge contradicted its possibility or that something truly confounded them and even without the tools or means with which to determine the cause or process by which that event happened, is no reason to suspect that something they have seen or otherwise observed is not some natural thing.
I would beg to differ, because the very nature of such things would be reason to believe that it defies what I know to be natural, which would be something not-natural. If such an event had a non-natural cause, then the conclusion would be correct. If the cause were not accessible by empirical means, then any attempt to understand the cause by empirical means would be vain.

Thomathy wrote:
It is exactly the mistake ghost hunters or believers in miracles make to name an event supernatural because they don't know how else to explain it, because it contradicts some knowledge they have of how they think the universe works or because they are biased.  The ghost hunter thinks she sees a ghost and the Christian who finds a parking space after praying thinks her prayers have been answered and a miracle performed so he can park his car.  The fact, however, is that both events can be (and for most of their occurrences in the case of ghost sightings have been) explained and if the ghost really was seen or if the prayer really was answered, then there must be an explanation for that; ghosts and miracle parking spots would not be supernatural.

Sure. I'm not suggesting that there is not an explanation for everything. I'm simply asking the question, what if something like that did happen? I think you are making sense...perhaps I'm the deluded one.

Thomathy wrote:
I understand that.  Do you believe me to be credulous?  Have you a given example?  I think that you have read me wrong.

You're not credulous. In fact, you'd be the opposite of such, as skeptics generally need more evidence than most to assert something as true.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:
Simply, it seems to me that if someone were to witness anything happening in this universe (as anything they witness must be) then there must be an explanation for that that is contained within this universe and is therefor natural.  Their ignorance of the process by which that something happened, even if all their present knowledge contradicted its possibility or that something truly confounded them and even without the tools or means with which to determine the cause or process by which that event happened, is no reason to suspect that something they have seen or otherwise observed is not some natural thing.
I would beg to differ, because the very nature of such things would be reason to believe that it defies what I know to be natural, which would be something not-natural.
But you don't know all that is natural.  Simply because something is inexplicable or defies what you know to be natural does not mean that it is not natural; it just means that you don't know what it is.  I cannot figure out how ignorance could be a justification for calling something non-natural.

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If such an event had a non-natural cause, then the conclusion would be correct. If the cause were not accessible by empirical means, then any attempt to understand the cause by empirical means would be vain.
And it would be impossible, if you could not access it by empirical means, to have witnessed/experienced the event at all.  And how could you know what the cause is if you can't test it?  How can you know anything about something you can't know anything about?  You couldn't even know what is was or that it existed.  You've created an example of an unfalsifiable claim.  There's no reason to suspect that such things are worth more than the thought required to think them up and its exactly because they're things we, by definition, can't know anything about.

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:I suppose

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I suppose what I'm getting at is, what is "necessarily P". (Kripke is generally the primer on the subject, but it has been more advanced in the last 30 years or so.) That is that I cannot say that what I know to exist exists necessarily, I cannot suppose criterion for necessary existence then, only criterion for possible existence.

That's exactly what I was talking about in the original post. Once we've decided that no thing can necessarily exist, we've really changed the meaning of "existence" and "being" to allow for all manner of creatures, including ad hoc monsters, angels and will-o-the-wisps. Simply by "possible existence".

So the only thing I could suggest to remediate the problem would be some reasons to believe that certain things are imaginary, and others are real.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Popper fine tuned I think. His concern was with the problem of induction, which was the hallmark of the positivist's empiricism.

That's a fair point. The principle of validation was way off the mark, though. It went well beyond mere induction.

On the other hand, Bayesian inference does a great job with the problem of induction. I don't think it "solves" the problem, but it's pretty good.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Because we can't know the difference, we assume it to be true axiomatically, otherwise we slip into some sort of solipsism.

I only keep objecting because we have no reason to think there's any difference, either. Maybe that's the real place where we disagree. You may see all answers to a certain problem as equally likely, and I don't. Or something like that. Actually, I doubt that's true. I've just been enjoying reading about different systems of logic recently, so I'm playing with them mentally.

This conversation and a couple of others have led me to believe that classical bivalent logic leads us down the path of sophistry. It's obviously valuable for many practical problems, but because it presents so many odd problems, I now doubt that "true" and "false" actually have regal significance. "True" means "true given this context of discourse", naturally, but I think there are some deeper problems with "true" that haven't yet been settled.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But it is nevertheless an a posteriori statement that is assumed to be true and cannot be empirically induced or be falsified.

You're right that it can't be falsified. It can also be shown that given an infinite number of possibilities, the probability that one of those possibilities is the correct explanation is zero. (Don't take that as me thinking I've hit you with an air-tight argument -- it's just math.) We also have no reason to believe that any one explanation is better than another (in the case of our brains being in a jar, in another jar, or in 38 successive Russian doll jars).

What I'm getting at is that we have a great many reasons to discount the idea, and only a single, imaginary "what if" to lead us in the direction of solipsism (or even merging the imaginary with the real). It makes me think that there might be a better case against solipsism than for.

The only thing that bothers me about your "a posteriori" statement above is that the only way we can understand that a proposition is a priori is through experience. I don't intend that to be a deeply meaningful statement, there's just something about that that doesn't sit well with me.

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BobSpence1 wrote:But

BobSpence1 wrote:


But Bayesean inferences do not produce true/false predicates, they produce probabilities.



Right. Induction based on Bayesian inferences produces high degrees of quantifiable certainty. This is an analytical approach to statements like, "it likely that" or "it is the probably the case".
BobSpence1 wrote:


That seems very confused. Of course you cannot falsify any system from within it. But I don't really see how that applies to Intelligent Design.



That is the point: that one " cannot falsify any system from within it". Intelligent design, as presented by Dembski, seems to be a misapplication of Bayesian probabilities. I'm not sure if there is to apply Bayesian inferences to design, but  Dembski does so by supposing something he calls "specified complexity", but one has to ask, how does one know what is specifically complex a posteriori? The answer seems rather arbitrary, so falsification becomes impossible because the specified complexity is a self-created tautology, and really results in a bunch of question begging.
BobSpence1 wrote:


But the 'axioms' of empirical systems are just the definitions of the terms employed to describe the observations and evidence, and those within the deductive (mathematical and logical) tools used to analyse the data and construct the theories, so they are there, but subordinate to the main thrust of the empirical arguments.



Subordinate in what manner? I really do not understand what you are getting at.

BobSpence1 wrote:


The statement that we cannot make absolutely provable and/or 100% certain statements about external reality (ie outside the realm of purely deductive, tautological systems) is as close to being certain as anything I can imagine. To assume otherwise would be hard to justify without assuming knowledge beyond what we can be confident about.

Talk of the realm of something as intrinsically undefined as the 'non-natural' begs the question that it can be defined. History is replete with examples of 'non-natural' assumptions being replaced by empirical and scientific theories and observations. It is simply a label for what we do not have a current explanation - the question-begging is the assumption that we will never have an explanation. When you stretch it further to include things such as gods and demons which are imagined to have attributes and powers not explicable or 'possible' within the current empirical understanding of nature begs the question whether they are actually possible in any meaningful sense.



Non-natural, definitionally speaking, is the antithesis of natural. The way I was suggesting one might know such things supposes one has a good understanding of what is natural, and some event defies this understanding. It could be the case that one does not know that explanation, but saying that there may be an explanation for the event is an argument from silence. If one witnessed such an event, it would seem that one would have reason to believe that the event's cause was indeed non-natural. If every bunny that was observed being born came from a rabbit, then one has good reason to believe that all bunnies come from rabbits. But one day a man starts making bunnies from a black silk hat. There is nothing about the hat that would suggest that it is rabbit, and there is nothing about the hat to suggest that it produces bunnies. This would defy my understanding of where bunnies come from, and insofar as I can tell, the hat is not capable of making bunnies. One under these conditions it seems one would have reason to believe that what caused the bunnies to come into existence was not natural.

BobSpence1 wrote:


Non-empirical systems are inherently subservient to the empirical, serving at best as tools or guides or sources of ideas to base hypotheses on to be tested. Actually study of reality is now a much more fruitful source of new ideas than the purely intellectual exercise of the imagination. The effort to explain various strange observations ultimately generated the highly counter-intuitive ideas of quantum mechanics and relativity.



I tend to think that anything with less certainty is subservient to the something with more certainty. Tautologies would be more certain that even the most certain of any Bayesian inferences. Empirical observation themselves seem to be contingent upon an axiomatic assertion about one's ability to make empirical observation.
 

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HisWillness wrote:That's

HisWillness wrote:

That's exactly what I was talking about in the original post. Once we've decided that no thing can necessarily exist, we've really changed the meaning of "existence" and "being" to allow for all manner of creatures, including ad hoc monsters, angels and will-o-the-wisps. Simply by "possible existence".

So the only thing I could suggest to remediate the problem would be some reasons to believe that certain things are imaginary, and others are real.


Necessary existence and possible existence are not the same thing as existence. When we speak of such things such as in couterfactuals, we are not granting existence, merely talking about existence with such qualifiers. Possible existence does not mean they actually exist. Any sort of possible existence that does not obtain is not "real", ontologically speaking.

HisWillness wrote:

On the other hand, Bayesian inference does a great job with the problem of induction. I don't think it "solves" the problem, but it's pretty good.

A quantitative analytical approach to such problems IMHO is less arbitrary than statements like "it is highly probable that".

HisWillness wrote:
This conversation and a couple of others have led me to believe that classical bivalent logic leads us down the path of sophistry. It's obviously valuable for many practical problems, but because it presents so many odd problems, I now doubt that "true" and "false" actually have regal significance. "True" means "true given this context of discourse", naturally, but I think there are some deeper problems with "true" that haven't yet been settled.

I don't think we should relegate "true" to the trash heap, as I think that which is "true" is static, but our attempts to reach it are less than satisfactory. But I'm okay with that, and I'll keep trying.

HisWillness wrote:

You're right that it can't be falsified. It can also be shown that given an infinite number of possibilities, the probability that one of those possibilities is the correct explanation is zero. (Don't take that as me thinking I've hit you with an air-tight argument -- it's just math.) We also have no reason to believe that any one explanation is better than another (in the case of our brains being in a jar, in another jar, or in 38 successive Russian doll jars).

I'm not suggesting we do, but any sort of brain-in-a-vat scenario would produce the same implication. I do not really care about whether it is a Russian doll jar or a brain in a Wookie's toenail.

HisWillness wrote:

What I'm getting at is that we have a great many reasons to discount the idea, and only a single, imaginary "what if" to lead us in the direction of solipsism (or even merging the imaginary with the real). It makes me think that there might be a better case against solipsism than for.

The only thing that bothers me about your "a posteriori" statement above is that the only way we can understand that a proposition is a priori is through experience. I don't intend that to be a deeply meaningful statement, there's just something about that that doesn't sit well with me.

I was suggesting assuming that which I observe actually exists is the only way to avoid solipsism, so any consequential empirical observations are based upon this assumptions. This does raise the question about mental events--are mental events (thought experiments, etc.) "empirical" in that one learns through such experiences?
 

 

 

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Thomathy wrote:But you don't

Thomathy wrote:

But you don't know all that is natural.  Simply because something is inexplicable or defies what you know to be natural does not mean that it is not natural; it just means that you don't know what it is.  I cannot figure out how ignorance could be a justification for calling something non-natural.

I'm not suggesting that I do know everything that is natural, just a pretty good understanding about what is natural. It is an antithesis--a proof (in the logical sense of the word) by contradiction, if you will. But sense bivalence is not possible, I have to go with based on what I know.

Thomathy wrote:

And it would be impossible, if you could not access it by empirical means, to have witnessed/experienced the event at all.  And how could you know what the cause is if you can't test it?  How can you know anything about something you can't know anything about?  You couldn't even know what is was or that it existed.  You've created an example of an unfalsifiable claim.  There's no reason to suspect that such things are worth more than the thought required to think them up and its exactly because they're things we, by definition, can't know anything about.

This is only the case if one limits oneself to empirical means, but if there were some other means to gain knowledge about the non-natural cause, then one could have a way to know.

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

But you don't know all that is natural.  Simply because something is inexplicable or defies what you know to be natural does not mean that it is not natural; it just means that you don't know what it is.  I cannot figure out how ignorance could be a justification for calling something non-natural.

I'm not suggesting that I do know everything that is natural, just a pretty good understanding about what is natural. It is an antithesis--a proof (in the logical sense of the word) by contradiction, if you will. But sense bivalence is not possible, I have to go with based on what I know.

But you don't know anything about the non-natural.  What you know is that you don't know anything about the event you experienced.  Ignorance is not an excuse to call something non-natural.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Thomathy wrote:

And it would be impossible, if you could not access it by empirical means, to have witnessed/experienced the event at all.  And how could you know what the cause is if you can't test it?  How can you know anything about something you can't know anything about?  You couldn't even know what is was or that it existed.  You've created an example of an unfalsifiable claim.  There's no reason to suspect that such things are worth more than the thought required to think them up and its exactly because they're things we, by definition, can't know anything about.

This is only the case if one limits oneself to empirical means, but if there were some other means to gain knowledge about the non-natural cause, then one could have a way to know.
Why the stretch with the hypothetical?  If there were any means of gaining knowledge about something it must be empirical.  If it's something other than what we're used to, we would simply expand empirical to include it.  It would be a matter of semantics at that point.  I'm afraid you seem to have completely overlooked what I wrote about the universe and existence.

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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"Natural" is ordinarily used

"Natural" is ordinarily used to distinguish that which is not caused or produced by humans. By analogy it can presumably extended to exclude things that are assumed to be directly the result of the conscious actions of other conscious entities at any type.

This distinction only makes sense under Dualism, where mind and its effects are considered essentially distinct from the rest of reality, ie, 'Nature'.

But this distinction is more problematic today when we have pretty good reason to consider minds as part of nature. So arguing about this topic is really begging the question as to the validity of Dualism.

Apologies for not getting back here earlier, my ISP had a glitch with my internet connection which I wasn't able to resolve till an hour or so ago.

I will try and expand my comments on empiricism, etc later.

 

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Thomathy wrote:But you don't

Thomathy wrote:

But you don't know anything about the non-natural.  What you know is that you don't know anything about the event you experienced.  Ignorance is not an excuse to call something non-natural.

I'm not supposing that it is not natural based on what I know about what is non-natural, but based on what I know about what is natural.

Thomathy wrote:

And it would be impossible, if you could not access it by empirical means, to have witnessed/experienced the event at all.  And how could you know what the cause is if you can't test it?  How can you know anything about something you can't know anything about?  You couldn't even know what is was or that it existed.  You've created an example of an unfalsifiable claim.  There's no reason to suspect that such things are worth more than the thought required to think them up and its exactly because they're things we, by definition, can't know anything about.

 

Per my discussion with will, I asserted that events of the nature in question resemble historical events moreso than scientific tests. If this is the case, then of course I cannot tests the cause, but that's not a problem with the event itself, but a limit of empirical tests. But if you want to falsify it, simply provide a reasonable natural cause for such an event.

Thomathy wrote:

Why the stretch with the hypothetical?  If there were any means of gaining knowledge about something it must be empirical.  If it's something other than what we're used to, we would simply expand empirical to include it.  It would be a matter of semantics at that point.  I'm afraid you seem to have completely overlooked what I wrote about the universe and existence.

I did not miss what you said about the universe and existence, I did not feel it was necessary to rehash it, but if you want to go back and read over the discussion I had with Will pertaining to the union of two worlds.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Thomathy

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

But you don't know anything about the non-natural.  What you know is that you don't know anything about the event you experienced.  Ignorance is not an excuse to call something non-natural.

I'm not supposing that it is not natural based on what I know about what is non-natural, but based on what I know about what is natural.

Which isn't everything.  Which means you can't possibly have reason to call the event non-natural.  It's a bald assertion.

Quote:
Per my discussion with will, I asserted that events of the nature in question resemble historical events moreso than scientific tests. If this is the case, then of course I cannot tests the cause, but that's not a problem with the event itself, but a limit of empirical tests. But if you want to falsify it, simply provide a reasonable natural cause for such an event.
Well, since you're only making an assertion, you might as well say that.

Quote:
I did not miss what you said about the universe and existence, I did not feel it was necessary to rehash it, but if you want to go back and read over the discussion I had with Will pertaining to the union of two worlds.
Oh, don't.


 

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Until we are provided with

Until we are provided with some actual criteria for what kind of phenomena, observation, event can only be ascribed to a 'non-natural' influence, the 'non-natural' deserves no more ontological status than the closely related God-of-the-Gaps 'argument'.

There are obviously plenty of conceptual 'worlds' which are inherently 'non-natural' insofar as they violate various well-established principles of empirical reality, ie that which we actually observe in some sense. But since there are a literally an infinite number of alternative conceptual worlds, many mutually exclusive, it really would be absurd and unworkable to elevate any such 'non-natural' world to respectability purely because we think we can imagine it, and that it may have some popularity as an idea.

I say 'think they can imagine' to cover the cases where the attributes have well-established labels, such as 'infinite' or' 'omnipotent' that do not stand up to closer examination.

 

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Thomathy wrote:ubuntuAnyone

Thomathy wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

But you don't know anything about the non-natural.  What you know is that you don't know anything about the event you experienced.  Ignorance is not an excuse to call something non-natural.

I'm not supposing that it is not natural based on what I know about what is non-natural, but based on what I know about what is natural.

Which isn't everything.  Which means you can't possibly have reason to call the event non-natural.  It's a bald assertion.

Any sort of assertion that is an antithetical assertion is an assertion based upon some mode of defining something. Why is that a bald assertion?

 

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:Until we

BobSpence1 wrote:

Until we are provided with some actual criteria for what kind of phenomena, observation, event can only be ascribed to a 'non-natural' influence, the 'non-natural' deserves no more ontological status than the closely related God-of-the-Gaps 'argument'. 

 Concerning criteria, I would agree. But the criteria itself may be outside the scope of empirical observation.  Calling something non-natural does not ascribe any sort of ontological status to such things, nor does assert what the particular cause may be. The difference I think between something like the sort of events in question and a god-of-the-gaps explanation has to do with the nature of the event. God-of-the-gaps explanations suppose supernatural causes as explanations for unobserved events such as the origin of life among other things. The events question on the other hand are well observed.

 

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Until we are provided with some actual criteria for what kind of phenomena, observation, event can only be ascribed to a 'non-natural' influence, the 'non-natural' deserves no more ontological status than the closely related God-of-the-Gaps 'argument'. 

 Concerning criteria, I would agree. But the criteria itself may be outside the scope of empirical observation. Calling something non-natural does not ascribe any sort of ontological status to such things, nor does assert what the particular cause may be. The difference I think between something like the sort of events in question and a god-of-the-gaps explanation has to do with the nature of the event. God-of-the-gaps explanations suppose supernatural causes as explanations for unobserved events such as the origin of life among other things. The events question on the other hand are well observed.

Ok, so can you point to an observed event, or a category of event, which you know is non-natural? And if so, why?

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BobSpence1 wrote:Ok, so can

BobSpence1 wrote:

Ok, so can you point to an observed event, or a category of event, which you know is non-natural? And if so, why?

I was thinking about what such an event would look like. The bunny-from-a-hat I described ealier would be one such event. Hume defined such things as a transgression of natural law. What we have been talking about is that natural laws assumes I have exhastive knowledge of such things, but I do not. But I do suppose that I can have a pretty good understanding about what is natural even if I do not know exhaustively what is natural. If some events defies that understanding, such as in the bunny-from-a-hat example, then I think there is reason to believe that the cause of such an event is not natural.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:


Non-empirical systems are inherently subservient to the empirical, serving at best as tools or guides or sources of ideas to base hypotheses on to be tested. Actually study of reality is now a much more fruitful source of new ideas than the purely intellectual exercise of the imagination. The effort to explain various strange observations ultimately generated the highly counter-intuitive ideas of quantum mechanics and relativity.



I tend to think that anything with less certainty is subservient to the something with more certainty. Tautologies would be more certain that even the most certain of any Bayesian inferences. Empirical observation themselves seem to be contingent upon an axiomatic assertion about one's ability to make empirical observation.
 

Tautologies are more certain than empirical claims, but do not necessarily convey any useful information about the nature of actual reality. Logic and math are essential tools to be employed in analysing actual data and observations, to establish likelihoods and degrees of confidence to be ascribed to ideas about what actually exists beyond the world of ideas. Without actual 'real world' data and observation to be understood, the deductive tautologies are not really very useful, and similarly, empirical analysis and induction requires the essential disciplines of logic and math as tools to make more precise assessments of our models of reality. Without the framework of empirical science, we would have no basis for deciding what is more likely to be 'real', or what assumptions are going to be most useful. We do not need anything to be proved in any absolute sense, for these empirical induction to be extremely useful.

I see the empirical, inductive environment as 'superior', in that it addresses whatever we can grasp of external reality, despite its inevitable degrees of uncertainty, and is the only way we can decide what deductive, tautological systems are actually useful in the task of understanding 'Life, the Universe, and Everything', as distinct from being just word games and fantasy.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Ok, so can you point to an observed event, or a category of event, which you know is non-natural? And if so, why?

I was thinking about what such an event would look like. The bunny-from-a-hat I described ealier would be one such event. Hume defined such things as a transgression of natural law. What we have been talking about is that natural laws assumes I have exhastive knowledge of such things, but I do not. But I do suppose that I can have a pretty good understanding about what is natural even if I do not know exhaustively what is natural. If some events defies that understanding, such as in the bunny-from-a-hat example, then I think there is reason to believe that the cause of such an event is not natural.

 

So if you observed a magician appear to perform such a feat on stage, and, like me, you could not come up with an explanation of how he did it, are you actually saying you would seriously entertain the idea that you had actually witnessed  a 'non-natural' event????

That is the worst possible example I can imagine to support what you seem to be trying to say here, altho I will concede I am almost at a loss to work out your point in this whole argument.

From my experience, 'magic' tricks epitomize how easily we can be confronted with scenarios which appear totally inexplicable, until we have it explained to us, and then we may well wonder why we didn't see it. Our personal inability to understand how some phenomena could occur 'naturally' is the worst possible basis for establishing any legitimacy for the 'not natural'. I have attended a talk and demonstration by James Randi on this topic, and it was extremely enlightening.

 

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BobSpence1 wrote: So if you

BobSpence1 wrote:


 



So if you observed a magician appear to perform such a feat on stage, and, like me, you could not come up with an explanation of how he did it, are you actually saying you would seriously entertain the idea that you had actually witnessed  a 'non-natural' event????


 




I think that would be a straw-man representation at what I'm getting at. I was suggesting that I had access to such things such that I could scrutinize. A magic trick on a stage is a far cry from what I am suggesting. The difference from what I am getting and a parlor trick is that the "magician" would let me actually investigate the hat, bunny, with high levels of scrutiny.



 

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

So if you observed a magician appear to perform such a feat on stage, and, like me, you could not come up with an explanation of how he did it, are you actually saying you would seriously entertain the idea that you had actually witnessed  a 'non-natural' event????

I think that would be a straw-man representation at what I'm getting at. I was suggesting that I had access to such things such that I could scrutinize. A magic trick on a stage is a far cry from what I am suggesting. The difference from what I am getting and a parlor trick is that the "magician" would let me actually investigate the hat, bunny, with high levels of scrutiny.

OK, but there are 'tricks' where they do actually allow individuals to closely examine the setup, and watch them closely, sometimes one-on-one, and still manage to 'fool' us.

I know this is not quite you are suggesting, but it still relies on the examiner knowing what phenomena are actually 'naturally' possible. The bunny-in-a-hat would 'only' require that teleportation of macro objects was actually possible. This is in fact NOT strictly impossible, thanks to Quantum Theory. In fact there are phenomena described by QT that really do seem to be beyond even our theoretical understanding, but are empirically testable. I tend to think there really is not even a category for your 'not natural' to logically occupy. This a real risk with anything defined purely negatively as you seem to be doing.

I go back to what I commented before, the 'true' sense in which people regarded things as not within the 'natural' realm was when they were manifestations of 'mind' in the Dualistic sense. Dualism envisages Mind being able to influence matter by a pure act of Will - in the human case, limited normally to controlling our physical bodies, or in the case of gods and demons being able to control other objects and events. This is a positive definition of what is considered as not natural. Doesn't mean it is actually accurately reflects an aspect of reality, but it is logical, given the central assumption of Dualism.

It makes far more sense to me, once someone has the belief in Mind as something essentially different from the world of 'mere' Matter, or 'Nature', which of course I don't, than the purely negative idea of 'non-natural' simply as what can't be fitted into the category of the 'natural', which just does not seem to be workable.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Any sort

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Any sort of possible existence that does not obtain is not "real", ontologically speaking.

As long as possibility is warranted, sure. My argument is essentially that the supernatural is the imagination.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

On the other hand, Bayesian inference does a great job with the problem of induction. I don't think it "solves" the problem, but it's pretty good.

A quantitative analytical approach to such problems IMHO is less arbitrary than statements like "it is highly probable that".

Okay, but when you have a "90% probability that," then isn't that a high probability?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I don't think we should relegate "true" to the trash heap, as I think that which is "true" is static, but our attempts to reach it are less than satisfactory. But I'm okay with that, and I'll keep trying.

That's again chasing the noumenon, which was the program of the logical positivists (to a certain extent), but there's really no argument to be had that hasn't been covered already on it. How does one then handle the knowledge that merely defining a class of things as "true" does not make them completely true? We can only say with certainty that a certain percentage of behaviours are predictably true in the universe, and of those, we can only say that they behave that way a certain percentage of the time. As such, there is no capital-t truth that humanity will ever obtain.

But honestly, I think that's just an archaic problem of our language, and our thought that if we name something, it's in our dominion. We have no reason to assume that our labels have any power in and of themselves, so why would the inverse work? Why would things in and of themselves match our labels? Percentages are an excellent way to express our knowledge, as we only seem to be capable of approximate knowledge anyway.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I was suggesting assuming that which I observe actually exists is the only way to avoid solipsism, so any consequential empirical observations are based upon this assumptions. This does raise the question about mental events--are mental events (thought experiments, etc.) "empirical" in that one learns through such experiences?

Yes, of course. The process of working through a mental event is certainly a learning experience, and thus empirical. It's not, however, very rigorous empiricism, as I'm guessing you're noting with the quotes.

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HisWillness wrote:As long as

HisWillness wrote:

As long as possibility is warranted, sure. My argument is essentially that the supernatural is the imagination.

So long as it is not grounded, sure.

HisWillness wrote:

Okay, but when you have a "90% probability that," then isn't that a high probability?

What is a "high" propbability. This seems to create a sorties paradox. I can at least pin down a 90% probability.

HisWillness wrote:

That's again chasing the noumenon, which was the program of the logical positivists (to a certain extent), but there's really no argument to be had that hasn't been covered already on it. How does one then handle the knowledge that merely defining a class of things as "true" does not make them completely true? We can only say with certainty that a certain percentage of behaviours are predictably true in the universe, and of those, we can only say that they behave that way a certain percentage of the time. As such, there is no capital-t truth that humanity will ever obtain.

But honestly, I think that's just an archaic problem of our language, and our thought that if we name something, it's in our dominion. We have no reason to assume that our labels have any power in and of themselves, so why would the inverse work? Why would things in and of themselves match our labels? Percentages are an excellent way to express our knowledge, as we only seem to be capable of approximate knowledge anyway.

How so? I think this may be confusing and epistemic grounds for truth with how certain one is that his or her beliefs are indeed true.

HisWillness wrote:

Yes, of course. The process of working through a mental event is certainly a learning experience, and thus empirical. It's not, however, very rigorous empiricism, as I'm guessing you're noting with the quotes.

Ritght. I do not suppose mental events are empirical per se, at least in the traditional understanding what it means to be empirical, which traditionally seperates sense experience from a priori "experience".

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BobSpence1 wrote:Tautologies

BobSpence1 wrote:

Tautologies are more certain than empirical claims, but do not necessarily convey any useful information about the nature of actual reality. Logic and math are essential tools to be employed in analysing actual data and observations, to establish likelihoods and degrees of confidence to be ascribed to ideas about what actually exists beyond the world of ideas. Without actual 'real world' data and observation to be understood, the deductive tautologies are not really very useful, and similarly, empirical analysis and induction requires the essential disciplines of logic and math as tools to make more precise assessments of our models of reality. Without the framework of empirical science, we would have no basis for deciding what is more likely to be 'real', or what assumptions are going to be most useful. We do not need anything to be proved in any absolute sense, for these empirical induction to be extremely useful.

I see the empirical, inductive environment as 'superior', in that it addresses whatever we can grasp of external reality, despite its inevitable degrees of uncertainty, and is the only way we can decide what deductive, tautological systems are actually useful in the task of understanding 'Life, the Universe, and Everything', as distinct from being just word games and fantasy.

On pragmatic grounds then. Fair enough.

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BobSpence1 wrote:OK, but

BobSpence1 wrote:

OK, but there are 'tricks' where they do actually allow individuals to closely examine the setup, and watch them closely, sometimes one-on-one, and still manage to 'fool' us.

The sort of hat I was talking about was the sort of hat more akin to a quantum-teleporter or something.

BobSpence1 wrote:
I know this is not quite you are suggesting, but it still relies on the examiner knowing what phenomena are actually 'naturally' possible. The bunny-in-a-hat would 'only' require that teleportation of macro objects was actually possible. This is in fact NOT strictly impossible, thanks to Quantum Theory. In fact there are phenomena described by QT that really do seem to be beyond even our theoretical understanding, but are empirically testable. I tend to think there really is not even a category for your 'not natural' to logically occupy. This a real risk with anything defined purely negatively as you seem to be doing.

This would be, under the definition given, the means to falsify the claim that some event's cause was non natural.

BobSpence1 wrote:
I go back to what I commented before, the 'true' sense in which people regarded things as not within the 'natural' realm was when they were manifestations of 'mind' in the Dualistic sense. Dualism envisages Mind being able to influence matter by a pure act of Will - in the human case, limited normally to controlling our physical bodies, or in the case of gods and demons being able to control other objects and events. This is a positive definition of what is considered as not natural. Doesn't mean it is actually accurately reflects an aspect of reality, but it is logical, given the central assumption of Dualism.

It makes far more sense to me, once someone has the belief in Mind as something essentially different from the world of 'mere' Matter, or 'Nature', which of course I don't, than the purely negative idea of 'non-natural' simply as what can't be fitted into the category of the 'natural', which just does not seem to be workable.

I think this is getting at my central critique, which suggested that if some sort of event were to indeed have a non-natural cause, then the problem would not be with the event itself, but more so with the way I was attempting to explain the event. I would then vouch for a more holistic epistemology that would somehow incorporate the actual explanations for such events and explain natural events. Each sort of event would apply the respective modes of investigation properly, insofar as they can investigate whatever the phanomenon may be. I suppose then, it is up to the one claiming to have an explanation to provide a reasonable mode of understanding should such an event occur. I do not think that labeling it antithetically is the explanation, but rather a categorical statement about the explanation.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

As long as possibility is warranted, sure. My argument is essentially that the supernatural is the imagination.

So long as it is not grounded, sure.

That's my point -- it can't be grounded. There's nothing to ground it to.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

That's again chasing the noumenon, which was the program of the logical positivists (to a certain extent), but there's really no argument to be had that hasn't been covered already on it. How does one then handle the knowledge that merely defining a class of things as "true" does not make them completely true? We can only say with certainty that a certain percentage of behaviours are predictably true in the universe, and of those, we can only say that they behave that way a certain percentage of the time. As such, there is no capital-t truth that humanity will ever obtain.

But honestly, I think that's just an archaic problem of our language, and our thought that if we name something, it's in our dominion. We have no reason to assume that our labels have any power in and of themselves, so why would the inverse work? Why would things in and of themselves match our labels? Percentages are an excellent way to express our knowledge, as we only seem to be capable of approximate knowledge anyway.

How so? I think this may be confusing and epistemic grounds for truth with how certain one is that his or her beliefs are indeed true.

Are you talking about strength of belief? I was making it so that we had a number, following your suggestion that we avoid vague "high" and "low" language. If one is 80% certain of something, that's definitely more certain than 70%. Is that not also a comment on epistemic grounds? Or are the numbers completely unrelated where epistemic grounds are concerned?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Ritght. I do not suppose mental events are empirical per se, at least in the traditional understanding what it means to be empirical, which traditionally seperates sense experience from a priori "experience".

An "a priori experience"? Am I missing something? How can an experience be a priori? Was that just a typo?

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There is good evidence that

There is good evidence that we have some "built-in" brain mechanisms which help us interpret our observations of external objects, which could be considered 'a priori', although I don't think it would make sense to call them "experience".

The distinction is surely between actual observation of reality vs our imagination and intuition.

 

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:



ubuntuAnyone wrote:



HisWillness wrote:


As long as possibility is warranted, sure. My argument is essentially that the supernatural is the imagination.



So long as it is not grounded, sure.



That's my point -- it can't be grounded. There's nothing to ground it to.


In what manner of speaking is there nothing to  ground to to?



HisWillness wrote:


Are you talking about strength of belief? I was making it so that we had a number, following your suggestion that we avoid vague "high" and "low" language. If one is 80% certain of something, that's definitely more certain than 70%. Is that not also a comment on epistemic grounds? Or are the numbers completely unrelated where epistemic grounds are concerned?



Beleifs would be what a I perceive to be true, but what I believe to be true may not be true. I do not think this is chasing noumenology, but it's proponents hit upon this idea.



HisWillness wrote:


An "a priori experience"? Am I missing something? How can an experience be a priori? Was that just a typo?



It was not a typo...That's why I was asking about it...that is what some have called "mental events".

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Degree of confidence, that

Degree of confidence, that can be expressed as a percentage, in what we believe, makes the difference between things we have heard about that we are prepared to accept as true until we see evidence to the contrary, right up to those beliefs that we are sufficiently confident about to consider counting as 'knowledge'.

'Mental events' are really just 'thoughts' - it makes no sense to label them 'a priori'.

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:In what

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
In what manner of speaking is there nothing to  ground to to?

The imagination? I'm confused. How exactly do you, yourself, differentiate between real and imaginary?

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

Are you talking about strength of belief? I was making it so that we had a number, following your suggestion that we avoid vague "high" and "low" language. If one is 80% certain of something, that's definitely more certain than 70%. Is that not also a comment on epistemic grounds? Or are the numbers completely unrelated where epistemic grounds are concerned?

Beleifs would be what a I perceive to be true, but what I believe to be true may not be true. I do not think this is chasing noumenology, but it's proponents hit upon this idea.

I thought this would be an amicable solution. It seems as though we're limited in what truth we can appreciate, given a limited amount of time, so a percentage gives us a good indication as to what tends toward being true. If one takes the position that we will never have 100% truth on any matter anyway, that seems a practical and rational decision. If, for instance, things continue to fall to the earth at 9.8 m/s2, it would stand to reason that one could only slightly doubt that such behaviour would continue. You could safely say that 9.8 m/s2 was a fact of nature, with the understanding that variances in observation are taken into account as error.

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

An "a priori experience"? Am I missing something? How can an experience be a priori? Was that just a typo?

It was not a typo...That's why I was asking about it...that is what some have called "mental events".

Explain how that's possible. If true propositions are either a priori or a posteriori, and a posteriori refers to those learned from experience, how can an a priori proposition be an experience?

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BobSpence1 wrote:Degree of

BobSpence1 wrote:
Degree of confidence, that can be expressed as a percentage, in what we believe, makes the difference between things we have heard about that we are prepared to accept as true until we see evidence to the contrary, right up to those beliefs that we are sufficiently confident about to consider counting as 'knowledge'.

Or take as "fact", which makes sense.

BobSpence1 wrote:
'Mental events' are really just 'thoughts' - it makes no sense to label them 'a priori'.

That one really confused me. I'm not sure how to think of thought events as somehow a priori. I thought a priori truths were just tautologies.

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HisWillness wrote:BobSpence1

HisWillness wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Degree of confidence, that can be expressed as a percentage, in what we believe, makes the difference between things we have heard about that we are prepared to accept as true until we see evidence to the contrary, right up to those beliefs that we are sufficiently confident about to consider counting as 'knowledge'.

Or take as "fact", which makes sense.

BobSpence1 wrote:
'Mental events' are really just 'thoughts' - it makes no sense to label them 'a priori'.

That one really confused me. I'm not sure how to think of thought events as somehow a priori. I thought a priori truths were just tautologies.

That's pretty much the way I see it.

What do you think of my idea that the only sense in which the 'non-natural' has some 'positive' definition, at least the way it has mostly been used, is as referring to 'minds' or 'agents', in a Dualistic context. So Gods, djinns, demons, etc are clearly 'non-natural', as non-human agencies.

So since we have gained so many significant insights into the nature of mind in a purely 'natural' context, whatever justification there ever may have been for giving those ideas any currency has pretty much evaporated, as with other 'gap' style 'arguments'.

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HisWillness wrote:The

HisWillness wrote:

The imagination? I'm confused. How exactly do you, yourself, differentiate between real and imaginary?

I thought this would be an amicable solution. It seems as though we're limited in what truth we can appreciate, given a limited amount of time, so a percentage gives us a good indication as to what tends toward being true. If one takes the position that we will never have 100% truth on any matter anyway, that seems a practical and rational decision. If, for instance, things continue to fall to the earth at 9.8 m/s2, it would stand to reason that one could only slightly doubt that such behaviour would continue. You could safely say that 9.8 m/s2 was a fact of nature, with the understanding that variances in observation are taken into account as error.

I was confused too...I was not sure what you were talking about when you said "they can't be grounded". Imagination, so it seems is not necessarily not real, as one can imagine something that is quite real. My delineation is between real and not real, which what I believe to ground epistemic truth. I think you're right is that "we're limited in what truth we can appreciate" because without exhaustive knowledge of all truth we do not know.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Explain how that's possible. If true propositions are either a priori or a posteriori, and a posteriori refers to those learned from experience, how can an a priori proposition be an experience?

I'm not suggesting that such things are possible. I was asking about such things. Proponents of event causation tout acts of the will, that is deciding to act, is a necessary precursor to acting, and thereby a mental event. I personally do not ascribe to such things, as I am more a proponent of agent causation.

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BobSpence1 wrote:What do you

BobSpence1 wrote:

What do you think of my idea that the only sense in which the 'non-natural' has some 'positive' definition, at least the way it has mostly been used, is as referring to 'minds' or 'agents', in a Dualistic context. So Gods, djinns, demons, etc are clearly 'non-natural', as non-human agencies.

So since we have gained so many significant insights into the nature of mind in a purely 'natural' context, whatever justification there ever may have been for giving those ideas any currency has pretty much evaporated, as with other 'gap' style 'arguments'.

Defining a "mind" is a rather difficult task, as dualists have struggled with this notion for ages, and I do not see that the problem is solved. Most attempts I have read that attempt to somehow give naturalistic accounts on how the mind works end up question begging, in that they either suppose meaning when trying to establish it.

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

What do you think of my idea that the only sense in which the 'non-natural' has some 'positive' definition, at least the way it has mostly been used, is as referring to 'minds' or 'agents', in a Dualistic context. So Gods, djinns, demons, etc are clearly 'non-natural', as non-human agencies.

So since we have gained so many significant insights into the nature of mind in a purely 'natural' context, whatever justification there ever may have been for giving those ideas any currency has pretty much evaporated, as with other 'gap' style 'arguments'.

Defining a "mind" is a rather difficult task, as dualists have struggled with this notion for ages, and I do not see that the problem is solved. Most attempts I have read that attempt to somehow give naturalistic accounts on how the mind works end up question begging, in that they either suppose meaning when trying to establish it. 

Of course Dualists have struggled with the concept - yet another indication that their position is untenable, and becoming less justifiable with each new insight into the workings of the mind gained by neuroscience and cognitive studies.

Naturalistic accounts of the mind don't need to bother addressing 'meaning' at all in the sense you seem to be, it is irrelevant.

'Meaning' is purely a subjective thing, an association between different concepts within a mind, that is all. You seem to be the one 'begging the question' that meaning is something more than this.

'A means B', in a dictionary sense, is straightforward and a simple matter of learning and experience.

'What is he ultimate meaning of A?' is true question begging, since it assumes there is some ultimate 'purpose' for A, which only makes sense in the context of some higher creative power with specific intentions for the Universe - a massively question-begging assumption. 

Without that basically Theistic context, 'meaning' in this more abstract sense only refers to what 'A' signifies in the life and experience and desires of the particular mind contemplating it.

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BobSpence1 wrote:'Meaning'

BobSpence1 wrote:

'Meaning' is purely a subjective thing, an association between different concepts within a mind, that is all. You seem to be the one 'begging the question' that meaning is something more than this.

'A means B', in a dictionary sense, is straightforward and a simple matter of learning and experience.

'What is he ultimate meaning of A?' is true question begging, since it assumes there is some ultimate 'purpose' for A, which only makes sense in the context of some higher creative power with specific intentions for the Universe - a massively question-begging assumption. 

Without that basically Theistic context, 'meaning' in this more abstract sense only refers to what 'A' signifies in the life and experience and desires of the particular mind contemplating it.

One cannot suppose "association between different concepts within a mind" apart from some sort of inherent meaning to such things as "concepts" and "mind", otherwise this seems to create solipsism or worse.

On the other hand, by simply asking "What is the ultimate meaning of A?" I make a common sense objection to it because my question intrinsically is attempting to understand some thing's meaning. Whether it actually exists or not is really not the issue, but the fact that I am getting at such things is because I at least have a primer for such things as "ultimate meaning or A".

But ultimate purpose and ultimate meaning are not necessary to have some sort of meaning and really not my concern. My concern really is more fundamental, which has to do with establishing purpose and meaning in the first place.

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'Purpose' is the intended

'Purpose' is the intended result of a course of action. It seems to me to be totally pointless and confused to try and find anything more 'fundamental' than this in the concept, and despite an element of recursiveness in the definition, the meaning and use of the word 'concept' is even more straightforward.

As we use such terms in a discussion, the mutual understanding of what is being referred to normally converges sufficiently to allow fruitful discourse. We never have perfect agreement on any of these terms, but that is not necessary for them to be useful.

Similarly, just because there is a degree of fuzziness attached to the concept of 'mind' does not stop us making useful statements about it.

Don't quite know what you are getting at when you say you have a 'primer' for 'ultimate meaning of' anything. Yes, the expression has a long history of usage, but that doesn't mean it actually means anything outside the context of a 'ultimate' mind.

I hope by 'inherent' meaning of those words you just mean the common usage of the words in normal discourse - there is no 'inherent' meaning assigned by some external authority.

Meaning and purpose are not a priori - they do not exist 'in the first place', they emerge from our personal thought processes.

it would appear we have a genuine communication problem - your ideas about many of these concepts seem orthogonal to mine...

 

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:'Purpose'

BobSpence1 wrote:

'Purpose' is the intended result of a course of action. It seems to me to be totally pointless and confused to try and find anything more 'fundamental' than this in the concept, and despite an element of recursiveness in the definition, the meaning and use of the word 'concept' is even more straightforward.

As we use such terms in a discussion, the mutual understanding of what is being referred to normally converges sufficiently to allow fruitful discourse. We never have perfect agreement on any of these terms, but that is not necessary for them to be useful.

Similarly, just because there is a degree of fuzziness attached to the concept of 'mind' does not stop us making useful statements about it.

Don't quite know what you are getting at when you say you have a 'primer' for 'ultimate meaning of' anything. Yes, the expression has a long history of usage, but that doesn't mean it actually means anything outside the context of a 'ultimate' mind.

I hope by 'inherent' meaning of those words you just mean the common usage of the words in normal discourse - there is no 'inherent' meaning assigned by some external authority.

Meaning and purpose are not a priori - they do not exist 'in the first place', they emerge from our personal thought processes.

it would appear we have a genuine communication problem - your ideas about many of these concepts seem orthogonal to mine...

What I am getting at is, "why even ask, 'why'?". I'm not suggesting that one needs an 'ultimate mind' for such things to exist, but rather that the notion that I can have meaning is fundamental to the particulars meaning of certainy things. Under a naturalistic frame work, the meaning is consequential rather than fundamental, which seems backwards. To suggest that meaning and purpose "do not exist 'in the first place', they emerge from our personal thought processes" seems to be question begging, because one cannot have thought processes apart from meaning. Fuziness of minds and concepts aside, I'm more concerned about how such things get any meaning in the first place.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

'Purpose' is the intended result of a course of action. It seems to me to be totally pointless and confused to try and find anything more 'fundamental' than this in the concept, and despite an element of recursiveness in the definition, the meaning and use of the word 'concept' is even more straightforward.

As we use such terms in a discussion, the mutual understanding of what is being referred to normally converges sufficiently to allow fruitful discourse. We never have perfect agreement on any of these terms, but that is not necessary for them to be useful.

Similarly, just because there is a degree of fuzziness attached to the concept of 'mind' does not stop us making useful statements about it.

Don't quite know what you are getting at when you say you have a 'primer' for 'ultimate meaning of' anything. Yes, the expression has a long history of usage, but that doesn't mean it actually means anything outside the context of a 'ultimate' mind.

I hope by 'inherent' meaning of those words you just mean the common usage of the words in normal discourse - there is no 'inherent' meaning assigned by some external authority.

Meaning and purpose are not a priori - they do not exist 'in the first place', they emerge from our personal thought processes.

it would appear we have a genuine communication problem - your ideas about many of these concepts seem orthogonal to mine...

What I am getting at is, "why even ask, 'why'?". I'm not suggesting that one needs an 'ultimate mind' for such things to exist, but rather that the notion that I can have meaning is fundamental to the particulars meaning of certainy things. Under a naturalistic frame work, the meaning is consequential rather than fundamental, which seems backwards. To suggest that meaning and purpose "do not exist 'in the first place', they emerge from our personal thought processes" seems to be question begging, because one cannot have thought processes apart from meaning. Fuziness of minds and concepts aside, I'm more concerned about how such things get any meaning in the first place.

To me, your idea seems backward.

That's the fundamental point of disagreement. Thought processes are the primary events. It makes absolutely no sense to me to say 'meaning' is somehow necessary to have thought processes. Thought processes arise as a result of the interactions between neurons in the brain. The closest I can come to seeing thought processes as dependent on 'meaning' is that a primary  thought typically is about some object or action, which is what the thought 'means'. But this is just another way of saying that coherent thoughts are 'about' something, and that is their 'meaning'. We then have thoughts about other 'thoughts', which start to crystallize into 'concepts', as we perceive patterns and associations, and we build up ever more complex and abstract concepts. This seems to me to blindingly obvious.

The idea that 'meaning' in any sense can exist before those thoughts occur is nonsensical to me. Thoughts are the only things that ultimately have meaning, and their meaning is their content. Something, either internal to our minds, or the content of a sensory experience, attracts our attention, triggers a thought, we think about it, and the 'thing' itself, or some aspect or attribute or action of the 'thing' that stimulates the thought becomes the meaning of that thought, or perhaps one could say the meaning of the thought is a reference to the 'thing' or some aspect of the 'thing'. That is how the meaning originates - it originates with the thought itself.

You must have a completely different understanding of the 'meaning' of the term 'meaning' than I have.

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

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BobSpence1 wrote:To me, your

BobSpence1 wrote:

To me, your idea seems backward.

That's the fundamental point of disagreement. Thought processes are the primary events. It makes absolutely no sense to me to say 'meaning' is somehow necessary to have thought processes. Thought processes arise as a result of the interactions between neurons in the brain. The closest I can come to seeing thought processes as dependent on 'meaning' is that a primary  thought typically is about some object or action, which is what the thought 'means'. But this is just another way of saying that coherent thoughts are 'about' something, and that is their 'meaning'. We then have thoughts about other 'thoughts', which start to crystallize into 'concepts', as we perceive patterns and associations, and we build up ever more complex and abstract concepts. This seems to me to blindingly obvious.

The idea that 'meaning' in any sense can exist before those thoughts occur is nonsensical to me. Thoughts are the only things that ultimately have meaning, and their meaning is their content. Something, either internal to our minds, or the content of a sensory experience, attracts our attention, triggers a thought, we think about it, and the 'thing' itself, or some aspect or attribute or action of the 'thing' that stimulates the thought becomes the meaning of that thought, or perhaps one could say the meaning of the thought is a reference to the 'thing' or some aspect of the 'thing'. That is how the meaning originates - it originates with the thought itself.

You must have a completely different understanding of the 'meaning' of the term 'meaning' than I have.

This was the discussion I had earlier with Will concerning ideas, but here moreso on thoughts. In short, one cannot arbitrarily look at electro-chemical processes in the brain and call it "meaning". What makes these "interactions between neurons in the brain" any different from those in a processor in a computer or in a test-tube in a laboratory? Insofar as I can tell, brains are necessary to have meaningful thoughts, but these interactions between neurons in and of themselves do not necessarily have meaning or produce meaning.

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


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ubuntuAnyone wrote: In

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

 In short, one cannot arbitrarily look at electro-chemical processes in the brain and call it "meaning". What makes these "interactions between neurons in the brain" any different from those in a processor in a computer or in a test-tube in a laboratory? Insofar as I can tell, brains are necessary to have meaningful thoughts, but these interactions between neurons in and of themselves do not necessarily have meaning or produce meaning.

Of course the individual interactions themselves have no meaning, any more than the voltage on the output of logic gate actually has a value of 'true' or 'false' in itself.

It is the whole dynamic process which can be described as attributing particular significance ( meaning) to specific patterns of other neuron activations. Only certain categories of complex processes will be capable of displaying the patterns of behavior what we identify as manifestations of mental phenomena.

Similarly, the program running on a computer effectively attributes 'meaning' to particular data patterns, not the processor.

So to 'see' the meaning in the thoughts in a mind, one would have to look at the pattern and flow of activation, and analyse it fairly closely, which would require the next generation of brain scanners where we may be able to resolve down to individual neuron activation. We are actually getting close to seeing how a brain processes 'thoughts' so we may well be able to identify patterns corresponding to very specific concepts.

Meaning is valid within the context of the whole process, whether running on neurons or semiconductor gates.

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

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

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

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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

 In short, one cannot arbitrarily look at electro-chemical processes in the brain and call it "meaning". What makes these "interactions between neurons in the brain" any different from those in a processor in a computer or in a test-tube in a laboratory? Insofar as I can tell, brains are necessary to have meaningful thoughts, but these interactions between neurons in and of themselves do not necessarily have meaning or produce meaning.

Of course the individual interactions themselves have no meaning, any more than the voltage on the output of logic gate actually has a value of 'true' or 'false' in itself.

It is the whole dynamic process which can be described as attributing particular significance ( meaning) to specific patterns of other neuron activations. Only certain categories of complex processes will be capable of displaying the patterns of behavior what we identify as manifestations of mental phenomena.

Similarly, the program running on a computer effectively attributes 'meaning' to particular data patterns, not the processor.

So to 'see' the meaning in the thoughts in a mind, one would have to look at the pattern and flow of activation, and analyse it fairly closely, which would require the next generation of brain scanners where we may be able to resolve down to individual neuron activation. We are actually getting close to seeing how a brain processes 'thoughts' so we may well be able to identify patterns corresponding to very specific concepts.

Meaning is valid within the context of the whole process, whether running on neurons or semiconductor gates.

But even a processor had a purpose before it was created--that is the machinery to run the program, and the program itself had had meaning ascribed to it by the programmer before the first line of code was compiled and executed.

Even if one were to isolate particular thoughts to particular patterns, I think this would be describing the "how" more so than the "what" or "why". There is nothing about any one phenomenon to think that it has meaning in and of itself than the next phenomenon.

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


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]I'm confused.Quote:But even

]I'm confused.

Quote:
But even a processor had a purpose before it was created--that is the machinery to run the program, and the program itself had had meaning ascribed to it by the programmer before the first line of code was compiled and executed.
Obviously, this is true.  The same is not true of human minds.  There was no programmer and our minds were not created in even the slightest resemblance to how one might use the word created to describe how a processor came into being.

You're not suggesting that human had a creator, are you?  I'm not sure you are ...

Quote:
Even if one were to isolate particular thoughts to particular patterns, I think this would be describing the "how" more so than the "what" or "why".
Well, it is a description of a process.  Is there even any 'what' or 'why'?  In the sense that you seem to be remarking, it is fallacious to imply that there is a 'what' or 'why'.  I can't tell if you intend to ask 'what' or 'why' or if you realise that the questions would be fallacious.

Quote:
There is nothing about any one phenomenon to think that it has meaning in and of itself than the next phenomenon.
This seems to be true.  There is nothing about human minds to think that they have meaning in and of themselves than any other phenomenon.  In fact, it seems silly to even talk about meaning in regards to human minds.  They are simply a step in evolution.  Extrapolated out, it doesn't seem necessary that any given thing have any meaning, except what a mind arbitrarily gives it (such as meaning or purpose to one's life), because it is all merely the result of an ostensibly purposeless process.

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:

BobSpence1 wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

 In short, one cannot arbitrarily look at electro-chemical processes in the brain and call it "meaning". What makes these "interactions between neurons in the brain" any different from those in a processor in a computer or in a test-tube in a laboratory? Insofar as I can tell, brains are necessary to have meaningful thoughts, but these interactions between neurons in and of themselves do not necessarily have meaning or produce meaning.

Of course the individual interactions themselves have no meaning, any more than the voltage on the output of logic gate actually has a value of 'true' or 'false' in itself.

It is the whole dynamic process which can be described as attributing particular significance ( meaning) to specific patterns of other neuron activations. Only certain categories of complex processes will be capable of displaying the patterns of behavior what we identify as manifestations of mental phenomena.

Similarly, the program running on a computer effectively attributes 'meaning' to particular data patterns, not the processor.

So to 'see' the meaning in the thoughts in a mind, one would have to look at the pattern and flow of activation, and analyse it fairly closely, which would require the next generation of brain scanners where we may be able to resolve down to individual neuron activation. We are actually getting close to seeing how a brain processes 'thoughts' so we may well be able to identify patterns corresponding to very specific concepts.

Meaning is valid within the context of the whole process, whether running on neurons or semiconductor gates.

But even a processor had a purpose before it was created--that is the machinery to run the program, and the program itself had had meaning ascribed to it by the programmer before the first line of code was compiled and executed.

Even if one were to isolate particular thoughts to particular patterns, I think this would be describing the "how" more so than the "what" or "why". There is nothing about any one phenomenon to think that it has meaning in and of itself than the next phenomenon.

Now you seem to have gone in the other direction to start assigning 'purpose' to a bunch of things that you seemed to be denying 'meaning' to before.

The 'purpose' of processor and a program is that of the person or group of people who designed and constructed and then use it.

'Phenomena' have no intrinsic purpose or meaning. Thoughts have meaning to the thinker, words have meaning to the speaker/writer and the listener/reader. Meaning and purpose are not intrinsic attributes of any object or event: they describe a relationship, a connection of some sort to a mind or group of minds or a culture.

A specific collection of shapes can have definite 'meaning' to a reader of a particular language, and none at all to someone who does not read that language. They will have or had a 'purpose' in the mind of the person who caused them to be formed into a specific instance that was spoken or written, and such 'purpose' may be inferred by the audience.

Some of what you say is consistent with what I have been saying, here and in earlier posts, other parts make no sense at all to me.

As is Thomathy, I am confused, not about my ideas and thoughts on these things, but about just what ideas you are trying to express.

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

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

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology