Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum? I doubt it.

inspectormustard
atheist
inspectormustard's picture
Posts: 537
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum? I doubt it.

The following may be horribly depressing for some. You've been warned. 

 

Another post asked "Is there scientific evidence for a soul?" To which I replied in my internal monologue "there isn't even a sound philosophical proof for a soul. All the supposed evidence is just doctored up homunculus arguments." I could be wrong, maybe there are other bad proofs that don't fall into that category. Any thoughts?

The soul thing led me to start looking at that one big "certainty," cogito ergo sum. I'm fairly certain that free-will and conciousness are illusions brought on by various formalization problems, so das kognitive Bestehen began to look juicy and ripe for skepticism. Little did I know that mountains of madness awaited whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. Well, not really; just the abyss part.

 I have a problem with the instantiation principle, since in my mind it falls into a circle that looks like this:

1. If something has a propety it exists at least in concept.

2. Existance is a property.

3. Non-existance is a property.

Therefore if something is non-existant it exists. Or, if 3 is somehow discounted, then non-existance does not exist despite having properties of its own. Or I divided by zero somewhere without noticing.  If so, what about this concept:

"I am observing myself thinking about observing my thoughts."

 How many of me are there? It's not multitasking. It's just a brief recursion or, worse, <i>iteration</i> of an internal model of thought. Obviously there's a lot of heuristics going on in there. Otherwise sparks would be spraying out of all our ears. 

For those unfamiliar with this stuff there are a lot of good, humbleing books (Daniel Dennet) on how small we are even in our own heads. Good unless you depress easily, in which case you should avoid them.


LovE-RicH
LovE-RicH's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2007-01-18
User is offlineOffline
The giant Gremlin that

The giant Gremlin that swallowed our planet Earth yesterday has the property of non-existance, therefore it exists?Smiling In my head, yes. Is it worth to debate whether it exists outside my head? No. Why? Let's wait for a philosopher to join the thread.Eye-wink


inspectormustard
atheist
inspectormustard's picture
Posts: 537
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
Heheh. Deludedgod has

Heheh. Deludedgod has touched on this topic a few times, and I think we share similar views on it. Just came about it in different ways (I reinvented the wheel).

 

Still, it's something a lot of people would probably be interested in hearing about away from the in principle disproof of McYahweh. I'm no philosopher, just a jack of trades

 


wavefreak
Theist
wavefreak's picture
Posts: 1825
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
inspectormustard wrote: 1.

inspectormustard wrote:

1. If something has a propety it exists at least in concept.

2. Existance is a property.

3. Non-existance is a property.

Therefore if something is non-existant it exists. Or, if 3 is somehow discounted, then non-existance does not exist despite having properties of its own. Or I divided by zero somewhere without noticing. If so, what about this concept:

This seems wrong to me. Non-existence is a property of what? It is not a property of something that doesn't exist but rather a property of something speculated to exist. It is a property only an abstraction can have. So the idea about Big Foot exists and one of the properties of that idea is that Big Foot does not physically exist. 


todangst
atheistRational VIP!
todangst's picture
Posts: 2840
Joined: 2006-03-10
User is offlineOffline
inspectormustard

inspectormustard wrote:

Another post asked "Is there scientific evidence for a soul?" To which I replied in my internal monologue "there isn't even a sound philosophical proof for a soul.

The problem is far worse than that: the term 'soul' is incoherent when used to reference anything immaterial or supernatural.

 

Quote:

All the supposed evidence is just doctored up homunculus arguments."

There is no evidence for immateriality and supernaturalism, and there can be no evidence for such 'entities' as they are incoherent.

A hypothesis must begin with operational terms. Operational terms require an ontology for the theory. Terms like 'immaterial' and 'supernatural' violate basic metaphysics/ontolgy, and are therefore incoherent.

Quote:

The soul thing led me to start looking at that one big "certainty," cogito ergo sum. I'm fairly certain that free-will and conciousness are illusions brought on by various formalization problems, so das kognitive Bestehen began to look juicy and ripe for skepticism. Little did I know that mountains of madness awaited whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. Well, not really; just the abyss part.

I have a problem with the instantiation principle, since in my mind it falls into a circle that looks like this:

1. If something has a propety it exists at least in concept.

2. Existance is a property.

No, it is not.

Please read your Kant.

You've just used 'existence' as a predicate and thereby violated basic rules of ontology.

To exist is to exist as something, you cannot separate existence from identity. You cannot refere to existence sans identity.

A way to understand this issue can be found by considering the following example.

The red ball exists.

What does the word 'exists' add to the sentence that is not already encapsulated in the word 'ball'? Unless we are using the term 'existence' to denote whether it is abstract or real, it denotes nothing at all. It is redundant, because the word 'ball' already necessarily possesses identity, and therefore, exists.

Therefore, existence is not a property, it is the recognition of properties. i.e., that an entity has properties.   

Quote:

3. Non-existance is a property.

If existence is not a property, then certainly non existence is not a property. The concept of 'non existence' only exists in contradistinction to existence and identity. It denotes the empty set: zero characteristics  It is not a property.

I think you are confusing your signs (the terms) for what they signify, if anything. 

Quote:

Therefore if something is non-existant it exists.

This is the madness that your above assumptions lead you to - how can SOMEthing be NOTHing? The problem is solved by recognizing that existence and non existence are not properties, they are references to the existence or lack thereof, of properites.

 

 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


Chaoslord2004
Chaoslord2004's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2006-02-23
User is offlineOffline
todangst wrote: You've just

todangst wrote:
You've just used 'existence' as a predicate and thereby violated basic rules of ontology.

Which rules?

 

todangst wrote:
you cannot separate existence from identity

Of course you can.  A round square = a round square.  Surely this identity statement is true, but it obviously doesn't exist.  We make identity claims all the time, even though the objects don't exist.  Any claim relying upon possible worlds is such a case.  Any reference to transworld identity is another.  Or, take a simple example:  A unicorn = a horse like creature with one horn.

 

todangst wrote:
What does the word 'exists' add to the sentence that is not already encapsulated in the word 'ball'?

the fact that the red ball exists.  Just saying "the red ball" does not capture this.  What if we are talking about a hypothetical red ball?

I understand where you're comming from.  I mean, Bertrand Russell and Frege defended a similiar view:  That to even say "that x" was to say "there exists an x, such that P(x)." 

 

todangst wrote:
Unless we are using the term 'existence' to denote whether it is abstract or real, it denotes nothing at all. It is redundant, because the word 'ball' already necessarily possesses identity, and therefore, exists.

That doesn't follow.  many things follow the law of identity but don't exist...such as unicorns, goblins, trolls, vampires, ect... 

 

todangst wrote:
Therefore, existence is not a property, it is the recognition of properties. i.e., that an entity has properties.

I'm not convinced that existence isn't a property.  Maybe it isn't, but I havn't heard any good arguments against its being a property.

"In the high school halls, in the shopping malls, conform or be cast out" ~ Rush, from Subdivisions


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
It's a bit complex off the

It's a bit complex off the top of my head, but I'd approach it from a Wittgensteinian perspective - investigate how we use 'exists' in the language game of ontology and show that it doesn't play the part of a property. Atleast not a property in the descriptive sense (a property that could be part of a definition), perhaps if we called it an evaluative property then that would solve the confusion?

I also disagree with Todangst' claim of the immaterial soul being incoherent.
The mind is surely conceptually different from its physical 'realizer'.
Even reductive physicalists make it a contingent identity between physical properties and mental properties, like "water = H20", rather than a conceptual identity like "triangle = three sided shape".

I don't think that substance dualism is incoherent, but to remain coherent it has to take the Leibniz 'parallelism' or Malebranch 'occasionalism' measures in order to retain this coherence. And that is a serious problem! Laughing out loud

Oh, and as a philosopher I just couldn't let this slide:

inspectormustard wrote:

Another post asked "Is there scientific evidence for a soul?" To which I replied in my internal monologue "there isn't even a sound philosophical proof for a soul.


What do you mean 'even'?
A sound philosophical proof would be much superior to scientific evidence! Sticking out tongue

Quote:
The soul thing led me to start looking at that one big "certainty," cogito ergo sum.

I don't think that this was actually an argument for the soul.
It was an argument that the existence of the self was an a priori certainty. That this 'self' was separate from the body came through later arguments.


todangst
atheistRational VIP!
todangst's picture
Posts: 2840
Joined: 2006-03-10
User is offlineOffline
Chaoslord2004

Chaoslord2004 wrote:

todangst wrote:
You've just used 'existence' as a predicate and thereby violated basic rules of ontology.

Which rules?

The ones explained above concerning redundancy - existence, in the proper sense of the term, could only be a property if it 'added something' to an entity's ontology.

Using 'existence' as a predicate - a basic error in ontology.

Read Kant in regards to the ontological argument (necessary being), this is where the point is first raised. 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existence/#Ont 

todangst wrote:
you cannot separate existence from identity

Quote:

Of course you can.

Of course you cannot. Identity necessarily implies existence, and to exist is to exist as something and thereby have identity.

Quote:

A round square = a round square. Surely this identity statement is true, but it obviously doesn't exist.

Chaos, in order to refer to something as true, you necessarily refer to a proposition that exists. What an abstraction denotes may not exist, but the abstraction itself exists as a concept and this concept has identity.

todangst wrote:
What does the word 'exists' add to the sentence that is not already encapsulated in the word 'ball'?

Quote:

the fact that the red ball exists.

I already deal with this above. You are using the term "exist' to denote instantiation: i.e. to denote that red ball is also located outside of your brain. Ontologically, saying that the red ball 'exists' adds nothing that is not already necessarily implied by asserting 'red ball". For a ball to be a ball, it must exist. For something to be red, it must exist.

 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


todangst
atheistRational VIP!
todangst's picture
Posts: 2840
Joined: 2006-03-10
User is offlineOffline
Strafio wrote:

Strafio wrote:
It's a bit complex off the top of my head, but I'd approach it from a Wittgensteinian perspective - investigate how we use 'exists' in the language game of ontology and show that it doesn't play the part of a property. At least not a property in the descriptive sense (a property that could be part of a definition), perhaps if we called it an evaluative property then that would solve the confusion?

I don't see why there is confusion. The term 'existence' is necessarily redundant, because an object's identity already implies existence. I think people are tripping over the difference between a hypothetical ontology and an ontology for a real world entity, but the concept of location subsumes the second sense of 'existence' that people are using here.

Quote:

I also disagree with Todangst' claim of the immaterial soul being incoherent. The mind is surely conceptually different from its physical 'realizer'.

If you disagree, please present a grounds for how you can disagree. Until you can provide an ontology for 'mind' that differs from 'brain' and does not steal from materialism, your claim leads to incoherence.

Quote:

Even reductive physicalists make it a contingent identity between physical properties and mental properties, like "water = H20", rather than a conceptual identity like "triangle = three sided shape".

As long as they are speaking coherently, however, they are using physicalism. So I don't know why you think this is relevent.

 

Quote:

I don't think that substance dualism is incoherent,

I'm not refering to a duality of different physical entities. This has no bearing on the matter of immateriality or supernaturalism.

 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


Chaoslord2004
Chaoslord2004's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2006-02-23
User is offlineOffline
todangst

todangst wrote:
Chaoslord2004 wrote:

todangst wrote:
You've just used 'existence' as a predicate and thereby violated basic rules of ontology.

Which rules?

The ones explained above concerning redundancy - existence, in the proper sense of the term, could only be a property if it 'added something' to an entity's ontology.

Using 'existence' as a predicate - a basic error in ontology.

Read Kant in regards to the ontological argument (necessary being), this is where the point is first raised.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existence/#Ont

todangst wrote:
you cannot separate existence from identity

Quote:

Of course you can.

Of course you cannot. Identity necessarily implies existence, and to exist is to exist as something and thereby have identity.

Quote:

A round square = a round square. Surely this identity statement is true, but it obviously doesn't exist.

Chaos, in order to refer to something as true, you necessarily refer to a proposition that exists. What an abstraction denotes may not exist, but the abstraction itself exists as a concept and this concept has identity.

todangst wrote:
What does the word 'exists' add to the sentence that is not already encapsulated in the word 'ball'?

Quote:

the fact that the red ball exists.

I already deal with this above. You are using the term "exist' to denote instantiation: i.e. to denote that red ball is also located outside of your brain. Ontologically, saying that the red ball 'exists' adds nothing that is not already necessarily implied by asserting 'red ball". For a ball to be a ball, it must exist. For something to be red, it must exist.

 

I know where I went wrong.  I was confusing hypothetical ontologies with regular ontology.  So back to my example, a round square = a round square.  What it should be, is "if the round square exists, then it equals itself."  I see where your comming from.

In a way, we are not really dealing in metaphysics anymore.  Questions regarding the nature of identity are questions for the philosophy of language.  It's a matter of showing that two propositions with a diferent "sense" denote the same object.  For that matter, any identity such as "A = A" is uninformitive as Frege pointed out. 

"In the high school halls, in the shopping malls, conform or be cast out" ~ Rush, from Subdivisions


Chaoslord2004
Chaoslord2004's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2006-02-23
User is offlineOffline
Strafio wrote: Even

Strafio wrote:
Even reductive physicalists make it a contingent identity between physical properties and mental properties, like "water = H20", rather than a conceptual identity like "triangle = three sided shape".

In Naming and Necessity Saul Kripke argues that there are a posteriori necessary truths, such as "water = H20" and "heat = molecular motion."  He argues that "water" and "heat" and proper names are rigid designators, meaning they designate the object in all possible worlds.  I recommend the book.  It basically Humes the notion that names are determined by properties.

Now, why might Kripke say this?  I mean, it does seem odd that water = H20 is a necessary truth.  I forget Kripke's exact argument, but here is a good reason to think that such terms are necessary truths.  When using a word across possible worlds, we cannot change the meaning of the word.  For if you could do this, you could say "round squares exist is some possible world p...and by that I mean, chickens."  You could prove a bunch of nonsense if changing the meaning of words was allowed. 

"In the high school halls, in the shopping malls, conform or be cast out" ~ Rush, from Subdivisions


inspectormustard
atheist
inspectormustard's picture
Posts: 537
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
todangst wrote: To exist

todangst wrote:

To exist is to exist as something, you cannot separate existence from identity. You cannot refere to existence sans identity.

A way to understand this issue can be found by considering the following example.

The red ball exists.

What does the word 'exists' add to the sentence that is not already encapsulated in the word 'ball'? Unless we are using the term 'existence' to denote whether it is abstract or real, it denotes nothing at all. It is redundant, because the word 'ball' already necessarily possesses identity, and therefore, exists.

Therefore, existence is not a property, it is the recognition of properties. i.e., that an entity has properties.

Mmm, ah, I see.

todangst wrote:

Quote:

3. Non-existance is a property.

If existence is not a property, then certainly non existence is not a property. The concept of 'non existence' only exists in contradistinction to existence and identity. It denotes the empty set: zero characteristics It is not a property.

I think you are confusing your signs (the terms) for what they signify, if anything.

Quote:

Therefore if something is non-existant it exists.

This is the madness that your above assumptions lead you to - how can SOMEthing be NOTHing? The problem is solved by recognizing that existence and non existence are not properties, they are references to the existence or lack thereof, of properites. 

Heheh, yes. Would it still be accurate, though, to say that the whole soul thing is just another word for a homunculus? In other words, people are run by smaller people, and therefore smaller people run those little people, and so on? I really like that reduction, since it shows just how silly even the idea of a soul (extraplanar or not) is.


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
todangst wrote: If you

todangst wrote:

If you disagree, please present a grounds for how you can disagree. Until you can provide an ontology for 'mind' that differs from 'brain' and does not steal from materialism, your claim leads to incoherence.


Simple stuff. The ontology of mind is first person phenomenology.
Such phenomonology is conceptually separate from physical properties as even reductive physicalists agree as they posit 'mental properties = physical properties' as an a posteriori truth rather than a conceptual one.

The difficulty with dualism comes with mental causation issues.

Quote:

Even reductive physicalists make it a contingent identity between physical properties and mental properties, like "water = H20", rather than a conceptual identity like "triangle = three sided shape".

Quote:

As long as they are speaking coherently, however, they are using physicalism. So I don't know why you think this is relevent.


It shows that they conceed dualism to be a conceptual possibility and establish the identity through other arguments. If dualism was incoherent then this wouldn't be necessary.

Quote:

I don't think that substance dualism is incoherent,


Quote:

I'm not refering to a duality of different physical entities. This has no bearing on the matter of immateriality or supernaturalism.

 


I know. We're talking about substance dualism like Descartes and Leibniz with the immaterial soul.
The dualism with the physicalist ontology is property dualism.

Chaoslord2004 wrote:

In Naming and Necessity Saul Kripke argues that there are a posteriori necessary truths, such as "water = H20" and "heat = molecular motion." He argues that "water" and "heat" and proper names are rigid designators, meaning they designate the object in all possible worlds. I recommend the book. It basically Humes the notion that names are determined by properties.


It's certainly on my list of things to read.
For a fan of linguistic philosophy, I have a lot to learn about it. Smiling


Topher
Topher's picture
Posts: 513
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Chaoslord2004 wrote: Of

Chaoslord2004 wrote:
Of course you can.  A round square = a round square.  Surely this identity statement is true, but it obviously doesn't exist.  We make identity claims all the time, even though the objects don't exist.  Any claim relying upon possible worlds is such a case.  Any reference to transworld identity is another.  Or, take a simple example:  A unicorn = a horse like creature with one horn.

But here you’re still relying on things that do exist. A ‘round square’ is based on ‘squares’ and ‘circles/spheres’ and because this is a contradiction when we think of a ‘round square’ we have to think of the two comprising concepts interchangeably, i.e. really really quickly.

As for a unicorn, this relies on ‘horses’ and ‘horns,’ both of which exist, and because this is not contradictory like above we can combine them to create something non-contradictory.

The fact that what we can hypothetically construct these new 'things' that don't exist doesn’t change the fact that all the components do.

So conceptual/non-existent things have identity via their seperate parts which seperatly exist.

i.e. P may not exist, but P is constructed by X, Y and Z, which do exist.

That's how I'm looking at this.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
Chaoslord2004 wrote: Now,

Chaoslord2004 wrote:

Now, why might Kripke say this? I mean, it does seem odd that water = H20 is a necessary truth. I forget Kripke's exact argument, but here is a good reason to think that such terms are necessary truths. When using a word across possible worlds, we cannot change the meaning of the word. For if you could do this, you could say "round squares exist is some possible world p...and by that I mean, chickens." You could prove a bunch of nonsense if changing the meaning of words was allowed.


Hmmm...
I think you could allow for extensional differences while preserving intension. The intension of water is the liquid. The intension of H20 is the structure of the molecules. In our world they have the same extension. In a possible world they could retain their intension while still having a different extension...
Preserving intension would prevent problems like your "by square circle I mean chicken" example, as that required a change of the intension rather than just extension.

It'll be interesting to see if Kripke considered by rebuttal.