Comments on "Requesting a Debate on the Kalam Cosmological Argument"

nigelTheBold
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Comments on "Requesting a Debate on the Kalam Cosmological Argument"

Here's a thread for discussing the Presuppositionalist vs. Stosis debate in the thread, Requesting a Debate on the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Not that Stosis has formally accepted. But if he (or someone else) does, this is the thread in which to comment.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

...it is obviously possible for something not to change.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Stosis: anytime someone uses the word "obvious," they mean, "This is a point you can't argue, because I can't defend it."

*cough*(entropy)*cough*

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Further notes from my

Further notes from my drunken mind:

1. Hilbert's Hotel is a comment on conception, not reality. The idea of a hotel with an infinite amount of rooms, each of which has a guest, does not relate to the idea of "infinity" at all, and is so irrelevant. There are different degrees of infinitude: some things are more infinite than others. Basically, if you had a hotel with an infinite amount of rooms, and an infinite amount of guests, not all rooms would be filled. Or: you'd have an infinite number of guests sleeping in the lobby.[1]

2. Anything that lacks the basic temporal dimension cannot cause anything, as causality is defined temporaly. This is obviously true.

3. Yes, the claim that the KCA reserves traits for the creator does indeed engage the argument. It's the crux of the KCA argument, in fact. By neutering the universe as a potential self-causing agent, but granting the creator that privelege, the KCA commits the fallacy of special pleading. That is the entire point of the KCA, the the pivot of the manufactured paradox.

4. I am so fucking drunk. Singha beer might not be as good as it used to be before they changed their recipe, but it's still pretty good beer. And, it's all I can get here in Thailand at the moment. Therefore, all of my arguments above might be wrong.

 

[1] EDIT ADDENDUM: This is illustrated with the following exercise: there's an infinite number of points between 0 and 1. Are there more infinite points between 0 and 2? Look up Georg Cantor if you want to learn more. As Cantor himself said, "Set theory is rad."

He was a child of the '80s.

Well, really, of the '70s. The 1870s. That's how long we've known that Hilbert's Hotel was a nonsensical idea, fit only for backwards children and philosophers. But at least the backwards children actually stand a chance of understanding, one day.

 

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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 Quote:Stosis: anytime

 

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Stosis: anytime someone uses the word "obvious," they mean, "This is a point you can't argue, because I can't defend it."

Well, that's the whole foundation of the Kalam (or any) Cosmological Argument.  It's like if we call it obvious enough times, people will accept it... you know?

The Kalam makes the same error as any other argument I've seen involving necessary creators.  It gets things ass-backwards by claiming premises that can only be established after making observations.  I mean... hell...  That's how any argument works.

I think the place where people screw up the cosmological argument is in misunderstanding how and why we can justify a thing as "self-evident."  There are only a small handful of things that are self evident, and they are necessarily so because of the need for their existence prior to even questioning their existence.

My existence is self-evident (to me).  I cannot ask the question "Do I exist" without begging the question.  I have proven my existence by the very act of questioning it, and it can be no other way.

With a creator, it is not so.  All I have to do is conceive of a nonsentient, natural beginning for the universe, and I have proven that god is not self evident.

What the Kalam argument misses is that its "obvious" premises fall to the same fallacious reasoning.  "All that exists has a cause" is not necessarily true.  We can observe interactions in this universe and reason that there are causal relationships between matter/energy, but the argument in question is not talking about what has happened after the universe existed.  It is quite specifically talking about something before it.  Never mind that linear time may not be as um... straightforward... as all that, but the point remains that if we are talking about something existing outside of our universe in any way, we cannot presume to know anything about what is or is not self evident outside of our universe.

In fact, the only thing we can possibly say is that at this time, nothing at all is self evident outside of our universe since absolutely nothing is evident in any way whatsoever.

That being the case, the initial premise for any cosmological argument must be invalid:  1) All that exists has a cause.

It's just a premise out of thin air.  

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:That being

Hambydammit wrote:

That being the case, the initial premise for any cosmological argument must be invalid:  1) All that exists has a cause.

It's just a premise out of thin air.  

And is doubly-damning, as it is usually followed by rationalizing something that exists without cause. Note the contortions Presup had to go through to cloud the issue enough to try to defend it, while refuting it.

This all makes my brain hurt.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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 Yeah, I've never

 Yeah, I've never understood how anyone ever thought invoking a contradiction would solve the problem of an unsupported premise.  We learned not to do that in the first week of Logic 101.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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 This is why I won't debate

 This is why I won't debate the KCA anymore.  My part of the debate would be too simple.  I'd simply demand a non-contradictory argument without any unsupported premises.  I'd then sit back and pretend to listen to three hours of babble, pack my shit up and go home with my trophy.

You know what else bugs me about not just the KCA, but most of the god arguments that try to invoke science or logic?  They miss the whole idea of reduction.  Logic reduces the same way math does.  If you take that mountain of drivel from presup, it ought, if it is truly logic, to reduce to a... um... oh hell... what do they call those... well formed something or other... god, it's been so long since I took logic...

Anyway, you know what I'm talking about.  A statement that is reduced down to strict logical language:  All B is C.  No d is f.  That sort of thing.

That mess that presup is spouting doesn't reduce to anything coherent.  At least if it does, it's too complicated for me to figure out.  It certainly appears to be too complicated for presup to figure out... and if that's the case... why is he trying to make the argument?  If he's fooling us and he can reduce it... well... 

But yeah... that's why I don't argue against KCA.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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nigelTheBold wrote:Not that

nigelTheBold wrote:

Not that Stosis has formally accepted. But if he (or someone else) does, this is the thread in which to comment.

If Stosis does not respond in a reasonable amount of time, I would like to debate you instead. You are, after all, the author of the post that kickstarted the debate. If not you, then Hamby. If not Hamby, then anyone.

Q: Why didn't you address (post x) that I made in response to you nine minutes ago???

A: Because I have (a) a job, (b) familial obligations, (c) social obligations, and (d) probably a lot of other atheists responded to the same post you did, since I am practically the token Christian on this site now. Be patient, please.


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 Presup, I've already

 Presup, I've already explained why I don't debate KCA.  There's simply nothing to debate since the premises themselves commit two glaring logical fallacies.  A debate with me would be really boring, since all I would do is repeat the two fallacies until the premises were restructured without internal contradiction or unsupported premises.

In other words, you've got my entire rebuttal in this thread.  It would be pointless for me to repeat it in a "formal" setting.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

Not that Stosis has formally accepted. But if he (or someone else) does, this is the thread in which to comment.

If Stosis does not respond in a reasonable amount of time, I would like to debate you instead. You are, after all, the author of the post that kickstarted the debate. If not you, then Hamby. If not Hamby, then anyone.

These debates always boil down to this:

What property does God posses that solves the infinite regress? Why can't the universe have this property? Why can't the universe be eternal and without a cause, if God can be?

Just give us a short answer, otherwise why waist time debating?

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen


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Stosis has declined. I'd

Stosis has declined. I'd like to get nigel to defend his post, but if he also declines it's open to anyone.

EXC wrote:
These debates always boil down to this:

What property does God posses that solves the infinite regress? Why can't the universe have this property? Why can't the universe be eternal and without a cause, if God can be?

Just give us a short answer, otherwise why waist time debating?

If you had read the version of KCA in my OP, you would already know how KCA attempts to answer that question.

Q: Why didn't you address (post x) that I made in response to you nine minutes ago???

A: Because I have (a) a job, (b) familial obligations, (c) social obligations, and (d) probably a lot of other atheists responded to the same post you did, since I am practically the token Christian on this site now. Be patient, please.


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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

Stosis has declined. I'd like to get nigel to defend his post, but if he also declines it's open to anyone.

EXC wrote:
These debates always boil down to this:

What property does God posses that solves the infinite regress? Why can't the universe have this property? Why can't the universe be eternal and without a cause, if God can be?

Just give us a short answer, otherwise why waist time debating?

If you had read the version of KCA in my OP, you would already know how KCA attempts to answer that question.

No you haven't answered the question. All you've done is commit the logical error of assuming the conclusions as premises and created a circular argument.

The laws of thermodynamics do not prove the universe must have a beginning or a cause.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen


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Hambydammit wrote: Quote:I

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
I cannot ask the question "Do I exist" without begging the question.  I have proven my existence by the very act of questioning it, and it can be no other way.

1.  How does your account of existence deal with counterfactuals?  If you were four feet taller, would you still exist?  If you were an invisible pink unicorn, would you still exist?  If you didn't exist, would you still exist?

2.  I can imagine various imaginary creatures claiming they exist, and try to argue with them about it.  They tell me they exist even when I know I just made them up, but I have no way to convince them of the fact.  An imaginary creature denying its own existence should be considered an insane imaginary creature.  But if every sane speaker claims to exist, whether or not the speaker is real or imaginary, doesn't that dilute the significance of the claim?

3.  What is it that makes an actuality different from a potentiality?  Do potential people have any way of knowing they are not actual?  What makes us think we are actual rather than merely potiential?

I disagree with Descarte's "I think therefore I am," because imaginary creatures also think.  (If you deny that imaginary creatures can think, for consistency you'd have to also deny that imaginary unicorns have one horn - and that leads a really messy can of worms.)

In my view, that we exist is not an observation, its' not a fact we can know a priori.  It's a definition.  We define the term "exists" so that it fits us.  Then we use the same term to describe other things that are like us in that respect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:1.  How does your

 

Quote:
1.  How does your account of existence deal with counterfactuals?  If you were four feet taller, would you still exist?  If you were an invisible pink unicorn, would you still exist?  If you didn't exist, would you still exist?

Have you had basic philosophy?  If I was four feet taller and existed, then I would exist.  If I were an invisible pink unicorn, either the words "invisible," "pink," and "unicorn" would all have to refer to things that exist, or I would not exist.  If I didn't exist, I wouldn't exist.  It's pretty simple.

Quote:
2.  I can imagine various imaginary creatures claiming they exist, and try to argue with them about it.

How nice.

Quote:
They tell me they exist even when I know I just made them up, but I have no way to convince them of the fact.  An imaginary creature denying its own existence should be considered an insane imaginary creature.  But if every sane speaker claims to exist, whether or not the speaker is real or imaginary, doesn't that dilute the significance of the claim?

Do you have any idea how far you've jumped off the deep end here?  You're talking about things that deal with assertions made after the acceptance of existence.  Establishing the existence of something other than "I" is an entirely different matter than establishing the self-refuting nature of existence.  I might be the only existing thing, and I might be bat-shit crazy -- so crazy that I imagine the entire universe to exist.  Even so, my existence is self-evident by virtue of my ability to question my existence.  My state of mind is irrelevant.

Quote:
3.  What is it that makes an actuality different from a potentiality?  Do potential people have any way of knowing they are not actual?  What makes us think we are actual rather than merely potiential?

Can I just skip ahead to the part where I chide you for not reading something after Descartes?

Quote:
I disagree with Descarte's "I think therefore I am," because imaginary creatures also think.  (If you deny that imaginary creatures can think, for consistency you'd have to also deny that imaginary unicorns have one horn - and that leads a really messy can of worms.)

Somehow, you've managed to convolute two meanings of "existence," and it's screwing you up very badly.  The "invisible pink unicorn" that exists in my brain is a concept.  It is not made of matter/energy.  Though I can be conceptualized, I exist regardless of whether or not anyone does, in fact, conceptualize me.

A "concept" is at least a second-order "thing."  That is, its existence is dependent on "mind."  Consider that if the universe had exactly the same amount of matter/energy that it does now, but there were no "minds" in the universe, there would be no concepts.  Concepts do not add or take away from physical reality (though they can indirectly change physical reality to some extent when they are held by beings capable of altering their environment) and so are not "things" in the sense in which I am a thing.

Quote:
In my view, that we exist is not an observation, its' not a fact we can know a priori.  It's adefinition.  We define the term "exists" so that it fits us.  Then we use the same term to describe other things that are like us in that respect.

Your view is wrong.

 

 

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This debate was over on

This debate was over on nigel's 1st post.

I would have pointed out the same illogical conclusion.

It was too obvious.

There's nothing left to debate. It's over.


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Hambydammit wrote: Quote:1.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

Otishpote wrote:
1.  How does your account of existence deal with counterfactuals?  If you were four feet taller, would you still exist?  If you were an invisible pink unicorn, would you still exist?  If you didn't exist, would you still exist?

 

Have you had basic philosophy?  If I was four feet taller and existed, then I would exist.  If I were an invisible pink unicorn, either the words "invisible," "pink," and "unicorn" would all have to refer to things that exist, or I would not exist.  If I didn't exist, I wouldn't exist.  It's pretty simple.

 

Basic philosophy?  Yes.

I was hoping you'd say how you arrive at those answers, not just what those answers are. 

I'd still like to know how you deal with counterfactuals.  "If you born in Saudi Arabia, would you still be an atheist?"  Does that question have a truth value and what ultimately makes its truth value what it is, even if you weren't born in Saudi Arabia?  How in your view can any counterfactual statement be true if it's conditional part is not actually the case?

 

Hambydammit wrote:

Otishpote wrote:
They tell me they exist even when I know I just made them up, but I have no way to convince them of the fact.  An imaginary creature denying its own existence should be considered an insane imaginary creature.  But if every sane speaker claims to exist, whether or not the speaker is real or imaginary, doesn't that dilute the significance of the claim?

Do you have any idea how far you've jumped off the deep end here?  You're talking about things that deal with assertions made after the acceptance of existence.  Establishing the existence of something other than "I" is an entirely different matter than establishing the self-refuting nature of existence.  I might be the only existing thing, and I might be bat-shit crazy -- so crazy that I imagine the entire universe to exist.  Even so, my existence is self-evident by virtue of my ability to question my existence.  My state of mind is irrelevant.

Are you applying a different standard for testing your own existence than that which you apply to other things?  Doesn't that involve the fallacy of equivocation?

You agreed to the meaningfulness of talking about imaginary things when you said if you were 4 feet taller you'd exist.  Isn't it a fact that a 4 foot taller version of you is simply imaginary and doesn't exist?  And in what sense could anyone taller than you still be you?  Isn't your physical size part of who you are?

It is hard to talk about normal things like sports, ("Our team would have won had the referee been paying attention!" ) without speaking of imaginary places (such as a world where some referees pay attention) just as if they were real.  And if you think physicality is the best criteria for whether something exists, referees that do pay attention are physical, by definition, even if sports fans have never found one.  Likewise, a nonexistant light-year tall lump of matter in the shape of the words, "Made by God!" is physical.  That's by definition, since we are talking about something made of matter, and matter is physical.  Being physical is not a sufficient criteria for something to be actual.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

Otishpote wrote:
3.  What is it that makes an actuality different from a potentiality?  Do potential people have any way of knowing they are not actual?  What makes us think we are actual rather than merely potiential?

 Can I just skip ahead to the part where I chide you for not reading something after Descartes?

 You can do what you'd like, although it would be more interesting if you could also answer the harder questions.

 I am pretty sure though that Karl Popper, Albert Einstein, A. J. Ayer, Bertrand Russel, Ayn Rand, David Lewis, Douglas Hofstadter, David O'Brink, and Roger Penrose are all after Descartes.  

 

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Otishpote wrote:
I disagree with Descarte's "I think therefore I am," because imaginary creatures also think.  (If you deny that imaginary creatures can think, for consistency you'd have to also deny that imaginary unicorns have one horn - and that leads a really messy can of worms.)

 Somehow, you've managed to convolute two meanings of "existence," and it's screwing you up very badly.  The "invisible pink unicorn" that exists in my brain is a concept.  It is not made of matter/energy.  Though I can be conceptualized, I exist regardless of whether or not anyone does, in fact, conceptualize me.

 I am right that for you existence just means physicality?  Numbers don't exist?  Ethical absolutes don't exist?  A four foot taller version of you doesn't exist?

 Karl Popper, David Lewis, David O'Brink, and Roger Penrose would certainly disagree with that.  

 Reality isn't an intrinsic quality of the world itself.  There isn't some mystical essense that our world has and all other possible worlds lack and imaginary creatures lack.  There is no magical pixie dust inside our world to make it exist.  The realness of our world isn't something any God can on a whim turn on or off by just flipping a divine switch.  There is no divine clay that when made into the same shape as some possible world, then makes that world suddenly become actual.  There's no divine filing cabinet where possible worlds are filed away and where all the worlds in one drawer are magically real while those in the other drawer are mere unused options for other ways worlds can be.  Rather, actual worlds and possible worlds are just different instances of the same thing, differing only in their contents and configuration.  What makes our world actual for us is, and could only ever be, just one thing - simply that it is OURS.

 The imaginary unicorn in my brain is my recognition of what physically exists in an alternative world.  "Invisible pink" is a contradiction, though, and doesn't exist in any world.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

 A "concept" is at least a second-order "thing."  That is, its existence is dependent on "mind."  Consider that if the universe had exactly the same amount of matter/energy that it does now, but there were no "minds" in the universe, there would be no concepts.  

 Minds discover concepts that exist to be found.  Minds didn't cause there to be an infinity of prime numbers, we simply discovered proof that there are.  Concepts exist independently of whether they are ever discovered.  If you read Karl Popper, you'll find he included them in in what he called "the third world."

 

Hambydammit wrote:

 Concepts do not add or take away from physical reality (though they can indirectly change physical reality to some extent when they are held by beings capable of altering their environment) and so are not "things" in the sense in which I am a thing.

 Which boils down to merely saying that some things are like you in a particular way that concepts are not.  When Karl Popper refers to things existing in his third world, he's pointing to a manner in which concepts are like you.  But he felt that in order for concepts to be like you in some manner, they'd have to exist.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Otishpote wrote:
In my view, that we exist is not an observation, it's not a fact we can know a priori.  It's a definition.  We define the term "exists" so that it fits us.  Then we use the same term to describe other things that are like us in that respect.

 Your view is wrong.

 I respect you, and really appreciate your opinion and your having taken the time to respond.  Thank you.

Notice, though, that I've avoided ever saying your view is wrong.  Maybe existence is to philosophy as the parallel postulate is to geometry.  Maybe there are rational and logically consistent versions of philosophy that understand "existence" in radically differing ways.  Platonists and non-Platonists are probably both right, but only under differing sets of definitions. 

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:I was hoping you'd

 

Quote:
I was hoping you'd say how you arrive at those answers, not just what those answers are.

Your questions don't have anything to do with the self evidence of my existence.  They're dealing with how to determine the truth value of our sense perceptions of what "things" are in an epistemological sense.  That is, there are two different questions we must ask:

1) Do I exist?

Yes.  I must exist, for I have asked the question, and I could not do so if I did not exist as something.

2) What do I exist as?

This is where all of your questions are leading.  Words like "invisible" and "unicorn" and "four feet taller" are all descriptions of ontological properties.  That is, they are symbols which correspond (at least in one mind) with properties that are proposed to be real.  As real properties, they give a truth value of "true" to the question, "Does X exist as Y?"

What you're missing is that we can (and must) know that we exist before we can ask the question of what ontological realities constitute our existence.

I'm honestly surprised you missed this if you've had basic philosophy.  This is the foundation of the whole damn thing.  There are three axioms, each of which precedes proof because of their necessity for any knowledge to exist whatsoever.  They are the axioms of identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded middle.

Let me make this abundantly clear:  If these axioms were not true, the very concept of knowledge would be utterly and irreconcilably incoherent.  It wouldn't even be contradictory, for we couldn't establish the existence of contradiction!

Quote:
I'd still like to know how you deal with counterfactuals.  "If you born in Saudi Arabia, would you still be an atheist?"  Does that question have a truth value and what ultimately makes its truth value what it is, even if you weren't born in Saudi Arabia?  How in your view can any counterfactual statement be true if it's conditional part is not actually the case?

I'm sorry.  None of this has anything to do with the question at hand.  The question you've proposed is orders of complexity higher than the question of my existence.  It's not a question that can be answered in a simple way.  Before even beginning to address such a question, we have to address very complicated questions of science.  

Quote:
Are you applying a different standard for testing your own existence than that which you apply to other things?  Doesn't that involve the fallacy of equivocation?

Yes, No.

Yes, the standard for testing my own existence precludes logical proof because it is a necessary precursor to logical proofs.  It is true by retortion.  (I said refutation in a previous post.  Pardon the typo.  Retortion.)  That's the whole point of what I was saying.  The existence of "I" is the self evident truth from which epistemology and ontology follow deductively.  There are two -- and only two -- choices.  Either the axioms are true, or coherence is utterly impossible.  Yes, that is paradoxical, and yes, that is another way of demonstrating the necessary truth of the axioms.

No, it doesn't involve the fallacy of equivocation because the fallacy itself rests on the truth of the axioms.

Quote:
I am right that for you existence just means physicality?  Numbers don't exist?  Ethical absolutes don't exist?  A four foot taller version of you doesn't exist?

The statement "I exist" is referring to the "thing" that asks the question "Do I exist."  At the point of asking the question, there is nothing known except for the existence of "I."  It is jumping the gun to speak of physicality or numbers or ethics.  These "things" require more than awareness of existence.  We must come to some sort of belief about that which we perceive.

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Minds discover concepts that exist to be found.

No.  Things exist, and minds form concepts of those things.  Without minds, there are no concepts, only things.

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Minds didn't cause there to be an infinity of prime numbers, we simply discovered proof that there are.  Concepts exist independently of whether they are ever discovered.  If you read Karl Popper, you'll find he included them in in what he called "the third world."

Yes.  Minds did not cause the physical reality of the universe to exist.  The universe predated minds.  Minds are capable of observing and categorizing the universe, and the act of doing so "creates" concepts -- mental representations of that which exists.

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Which boils down to merely saying that some things are like you in a particular way that concepts are not.  When Karl Popper refers to things existing in his third world, he's pointing to a manner in which concepts are like you.  But he felt that in order for concepts to be like you in some manner, they'd have to exist.

And this is where most people make the error of equivocation.  Yes, concepts exist, but not in some kind of Platonic (or Popperesque) magical world of concepts.  They exist in minds.  It really is as simple as that.  It's not really "wrong" to say that there is a "third world" of concepts.  It's wrong to conceive of this as something other than an interesting conceptual way of categorizing things in brains.  To take an easy example, we can think of numbers.  I can see that there are three empty beer cans on my desk at this time.  It's certainly undeniable that there are, in fact of empirical reality, units of matter, each of which is identifiable to me as a beer can, and that by agreement of language, I call the group of matter "three."  However, without my own perceptions of reality, there are no longer three beer cans.  There are atoms.  "Beer Can," "Empty," and "Three" are all descriptions of concepts which enable me to categorize and interact with the physical universe.  Without my ongoing awareness of my existence within the universe, none of those things exist anymore.

We could certainly say that the "potentiality" for the existence of numbers and qualities exists without me, but that's really a pretty banal observation.  All it really says is that the universe exists as something.  Yes, I know it's still a bit of a leap from "I exist" to "The universe exists as something," but it's not really that big a leap, and I'm trying to address the specific issue without going into a full philosophy course online.

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Notice, though, that I've avoided ever saying your view is wrong.  Maybe existence is to philosophy as the parallel postulate is to geometry.  Maybe there are rational and logically consistent versions of philosophy that understand "existence" in radically differing ways.  Platonists and non-Platonists are probably both right, but only under differing sets of definitions.

I have yet to hear a useful or coherent description of how existence could not exist.  Until and unless I hear that, I'm comfortable saying that you're wrong in thinking existence isn't self-evident.

Quote:
I'd like a second opinion, if anyone else here is as well read.

Search the site for Todangst.  He hasn't been around for a while, but he has lots of letters after his name, and they all have to do with Philosophy.

Also, search for Deludedgod's posts.  He is one of the smartest, most well read, and highly educated people you're ever going to meet.  He has far more qualifications than anyone else on the site.  He has plenty of chops for a basic philosophical discussion.

 

 

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again, it's by definition, not self-evident

I still don't buy into my existence being "self-evident".  Maybe I am misunderstanding your definition of "self-evident."

For me, in order for our existence to be self-evident, we'd need to have a fair and workable definition of existence prior to showing that it obvious we fit the definition.  But in practice, philosophers cheat by using a definition of existence (or of actuality) that is from the start contrived to ensure that they themselves qualify to be part of the set of entities it specifies.

Some philosophers (like David Lewis, who I've yet to find any disagreement with) have adopted a usage where all possible entities are said to exist, but only entities that are in a particular manner more like us (being our worldmates) are considered actual.  His definitions can be followed objectively and are useful.  But again, in this scheme, our actuality is established by definition, rather than being a fact one can discover or reason to.

My problem is that I can't see why people find something that is true by mere virtue of a definition to be surprising. But that's what people imply when they seek reasons for why the world exists.  I agree that I exist, because I am necessarily part of the set of all possible entities.  And I agree that I am actual, because I am necessarily maximally like myself, and am necessarily my own worldmate.  But neither of those conclusions are surprising or demand any mystical explanation for why they are true.   Among all possible worlds, it is simply inevitable that one of them would have someone like me in it.

 

 

 Hambydammit wrote:
I'm honestly surprised you missed this if you've had basic philosophy.  This is the foundation of the whole damn thing.  There are three axioms, each of which precedes proof because of their necessity for any knowledge to exist whatsoever.  They are the axioms of identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded middle.

The law of identity doesn't define existence.  Nonexisting things are identical to themselves just as existing things are.  And while the law of identity says things can have characteristics, nonexisting things can have characteristics.   The law of noncontradiction implies that something can't exist and non-exist at the same time, regardless of what we mean by exist, but doesn't rule out everything possible existing or nothing at all existing, or any subset of the set of all possible things existing at the expense of others.  The law of the excluded middle implies an entity either exists or it doesn't, but still doesn't tell us which is which.   None of those principles you cited have anything to do with how to determine what exists and what doesn't.  Also, there are several logically consistent formal systems of mathematical logics where the law of the excluded middle isn't required - thus these axioms (at least the third, and debatably the second) are not quite as essential as you make them out to be.

 


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Considering models for why the worlds exists

 I can only think of four models for a fundamental basis for what ultimately makes the world exist.

1.  The world exists because it was constructed from divine or otherworldy substance.

Some divine ether, clay, spirit, or whatever you want to call it is at the basis of our world, and makes our world real.   Only worlds that have been formed from this substance can truly exist.

2.  The world is actual because its reality was somehow magically switched on.

Our world exists because among the set of all possible ways of being, some magical switch was thrown to suddenly toggle our world to be actual.  Or our world is like a page picked up (selected randomly or by God or however) from book of all possible worlds, and placed on a desk - where just being on the divine magic desk somehow is enough to make the world described in the page be an actual world. 

3.  The world simply exists in God's mind

Our existence somehow comes directly from God thinking about us.

4.  All possible worlds necessarily exist.

Our world exists because it is one of many ways a possible world can be, and all possible worlds necessarily appear to be actual for their own inhabitants.  The inhabitants of another possible world would believe different things are actual than we do, but that it not a problem.  It is the same as people in different cities not all refering to the same place when they say "here".  

 

 

I can not come up with any other models that are not somehow equivalent to one of these, and I find none of the first three models to be satisfying.

I don't like that 1 and 2 involve arbitrary magic at a higher level, and simply invite unending questions of what makes them true.  In option 1 the divine ether needs a place itself to exist in while being formed in our world.  Where would the ether have come from? In option 2 there's an unresolved issue of what makes the switch or desk work the way it does.

Model 3 has a problem with how does God decide what world to think about.  If he considered all the possible worlds in order to see which one is best, what is to prevent all those worlds from flashing into existence as he thinks of them?   And how would we know we are the world he ultimately decided on, that we are not simply existing in one of the brief flashes?  If he avoids thinking of them, how's he to not wonder if he shouldn't have thought about a world better than the one he did?  Model 3 seems to have many of the same problems as models 1 and 2, and the only way to resolve those problems may result in model 3 having the same effects as model 4, while not being as parsimonious.

 

Model #4 not only has no arbitrary magic left unexplained, it is also elegantly symmetrical - no one way for things to be is given preference over any other way for things to be.  Model #4 also covers the situations described in all counterfactual statements.  There is no asking what if things were otherwise than they are, since all possible options were invoked from the start.

In contrast, models 1, 2 and 3 all invoke metaworlds where the right conditions must occur to cause our world to exist.  And in those metaworlds we can imagine alternative realities, such as where there are two kinds of divine ether rather than one, or multiple pages are placed on the desk at once.  That leaves us not merely with the thought of living in an actual world mysteriously selected from the set of all possible worlds - but also with an actual metaworld mysteriously selected from a set of all possible variations of metaworlds.  That is far less elegant than the simple set of possible worlds of model 4.

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:I still don't buy

 

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I still don't buy into my existence being "self-evident".  Maybe I am misunderstanding your definition of "self-evident."

For me, in order for our existence to be self-evident, we'd need to have afair and workable definition of existence prior to showing that it obvious we fit the definition.

What you're missing is that existence must precede definition.  You're getting ontology backwards.  We must know that there is "something" before we begin discussing what "something" is.

 

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We are not the only ones who feel actual.

 

Hambydammit wrote:
We must know that there is "something" before we begin discussing what "something" is.

So we must know that there are odd perfect numbers before we can discuss what properties they must have???   That seems backwards.

In an attempt to make a deductive philosophy from self-evident principles - couldn't we first establish that there are concepts?  And establish that we can think about mathematical entities.  We'd likely find it useful to use modal logic with its existential operator to better organize our concepts.  Only later in the game would be need to establish the idea of self, and we'd show that the existential operator we've been using all along when dealing with concepts, also functions well when asking questions about ourselves and our perceptions.  In the end we could acknowledge the existential operator as merely a very useful bookkeeping device that we introduced as part of our method. 

If you saying that we have to accept that we exist, before knowing what exists means - that sounds to me like signing a blank check. (If I later find out that exists means to owe you alot of money - I woudln't be happy.)   If by we exist, you just mean we are, in the most general way, just like concepts - then sure I'll sign.  But if to you "we exist" means we are made of some mystical reality-causing substance that concepts are not, or that there is something special about the kind of enitities we are, then I don't find the fact obvious at all, and I won't sign.

 

I am not sure if being an imaginary person would subjectively feel different than being me.  I only have experience being me.  But for all I know, some imaginary people have a similar subjective feeling of actuality to what I have.  (Their having that property doesn't entail any explicit logical contradiction.)  But if that is true, then I can't use my subjective feeling of being actual as proof that I am not imaginary.  If you were four feet taller wouldn't you still have the same subjective feeling of being actual?  But a four foot taller version of you is imaginary.

Do you subscribe to a theory of counterfactuals that doesn't require we consider merely possible things to possess peculiar properties that we'd naively expect could only be true of actual things?  If so, how does it work?

 

 

 

 


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No sir, but we do have to

No sir, but we do have to know what numbers are before we can assign properties to them.


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 Quote:So we must know that

 

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So we must know that there are odd perfect numbers before we can discuss what properties they must have???   That seems backwards.

You keep making the same mistake.  We start with the observation that there is something, then we set about describing it.  We don't know that there are "odd perfect numbers" first.  We recognize something in the universe... that that thing over there has stuff on it, and some of the stuff is like other stuff... so alike that it's pretty much the same thing, but not... because that one is over here and the other one is over there...

One day, we make up a word to describe what we just observed... there are "two" things.  That's different from "one" thing.  We can look at it and see the difference.  We can also call this "three" and that "four."  

Then, we decide that we need a way to talk about how "one" and "two" and "three" are "things."  We decide to call them "numbers."

Etc... etc.. etc...

Pretty soon, someone called a "mathematician" describes a certain group of numbers as "odd perfect numbers."

We observe "something," then we describe it.

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But if to you "we exist" means we are made of some mystical reality-causing substance that concepts are not, or that there is something special about the kind of enitities we are, then I don't find the fact obvious at all, and I won't sign.

I didn't ask you to sign for that.  All that stuff you're talking about comes after recognizing that "I am."

Quote:
Do you subscribe to a theory of counterfactuals that doesn't require we consider merely possible things to possess peculiar properties that we'd naively expect could only be true of actual things?  If so, how does it work?

I sure wish I could convince you that this doesn't have anything to do with what we're talking about.

 

 

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Hambydammit (July 1, 2009 -

Hambydammit (July 1, 2009 - 4:10pm) wrote:

Otishpote wrote:

Minds didn't cause there to be an infinity of prime numbers, we simply discovered proof that there are. Concepts exist independently of whether they are ever discovered. If you read Karl Popper, you'll find he included them in what he called "the third world."

Yes. Minds did not cause the physical reality of the universe to exist. The universe predated minds. Minds are capable of observing and categorizing the universe, and the act of doing so "creates" concepts -- mental representations of that which exists.

Are you saying that we know physicality is real because physicality exhibits objective truth independent of our minds? That the entities we physically perceive aren't mere mental creations, but truths independent of our minds that we explore? But the entities we encounter via conceptualization are also in a similar manner independent of our minds. That certain concepts must imply others, and that certain formulations of concepts are viable when others formulations are not, those appear to external truths that we have no choice over. Sure, ideas come in and out of our minds from our choosing to focus our attention on them, but our physical experiences also depend on our choice of where to go and what to lend our attention to. And the world of ideas is just objective as the physical world, in that we have an expectation of other minds exploring both those worlds to encounter a lot of the same entities that we do.

But it's merely an assertion, for which I'm still asking for evidence, that these two worlds are fundamentally different in kind. If one doesn't require a supernatural explanation for the world of ideas, why would one insist on a supernatural explanation for the physical world? (I am not saying Hambydammit is asking for a supernatural explanation - he's not. I am tying the conversation back to other people's assertions and my whole motivation for commenting on these Kalam Cosmological Argument threads in the first place.)

Somewhere among the vast space of possible concepts, there is an entity isomorphic to our physical world, containing entities isomorphic to us. I just invoke Occam's razor and take it as a philosophical axiom, that those entities are us. There's no need to believe in two identical copies of the same thing.

Hambydammit wrote:

We start with the observation that there is something.

But we can't have any observation without having certain tools of reason. And those tools, like a pair of binoculars we can't get clean, necessary have a specks in them right where we are trying to observe. So we can't be sure if what we feel we are observing isn't just an artifact of our methods.

Hambydammit wrote:

Otishpote wrote:
But if to you "we exist" means we are made of some mystical reality-causing substance that concepts are not, or that there is something special about the kind of entities we are, then I don't find the fact obvious at all, and I won't sign.

I didn't ask you to sign for that. All that stuff you're talking about comes after recognizing that "I am."

"I am" (or the more polite "we are") is something I can agree to only if I take it to mean much less than most other people appear to be using it to mean. For other people seem to be seeking an explanation for why, as if the proposition is surprising. If I try to understand "I am" in any way that is surprising, I get an understanding that I am not sure is true.

If "I am" is necessarily true, the claim appears to lack any usefulness or significance. If it has usefulness and explanatory power, it is because we use it in a system of thought that is built from taking one of more arbitrary axioms in addition to the starting axioms of our logic. The axioms of identity, noncontradiction, and excluded middle, alone without another axiom, is insufficient for our purposes here. Adding just the starting axioms and symbols of even higher mathematical logics, provides many benefits, but is still not sufficient. Other axioms are needed before the reasoning can be put to use.

If among those other axioms we have that points exists, and that between any two points a straight line exists, we get a system of thought that could turn out to be a geometry. But to turn around and ask for an explanation for WHY points and lines exist, and getting all theological about it - I find that ridiculous. And we shouldn't think that the geometry we get is they only possible one. We get the geometry we get because we pick the axioms we do.

If among those other axioms we have that "I am", and that "I have perceptions" we've started developing an ontology. But to turn around and ask for an explanation for WHY I exist and have perceptions and getting all theological about it - I find that ridiculous. And we shouldn't think that the ontology we get is they only possible one. We get the ontology we get because we pick the axioms we do.

If you are trying to say "I am" is somehow a special statement because any useful ontology must have it be true - then is "there are points" special in exactly the same way, because any geometry must have it be true?

Hambydammit wrote:

Otishpote wrote:

Do you subscribe to a theory of counterfactuals that doesn't require we consider merely possible things to possess peculiar properties that we'd naively expect could only be true of actual things? If so, how does it work?

I sure wish I could convince you that this doesn't have anything to do with what we're talking about.

The study of counterfactuals has been a major cornerstone leading many published philosophers to reconsider how they think and speak about existence and actuality.

But anyway, it seems like we are peeling an onion. When I discard everything I read you to say is irrelevant, I'm finding nothing remains. If there is something else there that you are trying to point to, it's not apparent to me.


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 With all due respect, I

 With all due respect, I think I'm going to call it quits on this topic.  Firstly, it appears that we're just talking past each other, and secondly, I honestly don't have the time to respond with the kind of depth you are looking for.  I'll keep reading your posts, though, and maybe after a while, I'll figure out a way to communicate more effectively with you.

 

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With all due respect

Hambydammit wrote:
With all due respect, I think I'm going to call it quits on this topic.  Firstly, it appears that we're just talking past each other, and secondly, I honestly don't have the time to respond with the kind of depth you are looking for.  I'll keep reading your posts, though, and maybe after a while, I'll figure out a way to communicate more effectively with you.

You're welcome to refer me to other articles online.

My disagreement with you was just that you got adversarial and said I was wrong, when I still don't see how.  In actual practice, I am not sure if I significantly disagree with you on any practical issue, except maybe what's the best way to talk about what we believe.  I too was getting the feeling that we're just talking past each other.  I respect you a lot and know you are knowledgable and rational.  I almost always agree with and appreciate your posts in other threads here.  So being on the opposite side of an argument from you felt out of place.

 

My disagreement with Descartes' "I think therefore I am" was merely that one can't use "I think" as a means to justify the claim that one is actual.  That's because we can consider nonactual entities with any property, including thinking, or having a subjective feeling of actuality.  In contrast, an ontology that just takes "I am actual" as a postulate, being honest that it can't be proved, I have no problem with.  Such ontologies are necessary to have.   That we can't avoid the necessity to accept a certain proposition as a postulate, doesn't change that it's a postulate.   It doesn't magically elevate the postulate to the status of an observation.

 

My disagreement with others is that I can't understand why they find their existance surprising or needing some explanation, whether it's supernatural or not.  Does anyone want to defend that?