What is Existence?

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androidbleepboop
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Part II of a video series on the nature of reality

Postby androidbleepboop » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:11 pm UTC

Hello again xkcd forum! I published part II in my video series on ontology this week, I hope you will enjoy it and share your thoughts on it. Thank you one and all for your feedback on the last one- hopefully this one will clarify some of the points I was unable to make properly in the first video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFQ36zXbm00

There's a script link in the video's info, if reading is more to your taste. (If nothing more, hopefully it will save Deva some time, haha)

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Re: Part II of a video series on the nature of reality

Postby setzer777 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:00 am UTC

script wrote:Since the Abstract is unchanging, it is perfectly timeless. No matter what the ultimate
fate of our physical Universe is, the Abstract will remain untouched and unchanged
forever, shining out as the soul and sole fabric of reality, giving rise to new Universes
and lives and feelings again and again, endlessly
.


Emphasis mine.

I don't see how this follows at all from the other stuff. Couldn't one of the truths about physical reality be that it only extends through a certain finite region of time?
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Re: Part II of a video series on the nature of reality

Postby PeteP » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:24 am UTC

Oh a text version, splendid.
http://ge.tt/5nurfqY1/v/0 wrote:<Error>
<Code>PermanentRedirect</Code>
<Message>The bucket you are attempting to access must be addressed using the specified endpoint. Please send all future requests to this endpoint.</Message><RequestId>B87BFFC42E83FD8E</RequestId><Bucket>s3.kkloud.com</Bucket>
<HostId>1y5hV1WYVYNpnqt2JQtV4IKCldU3LY1bOR8e0WYCtx3ydjaTvgxX5G7lrcvTIfbM</HostId>
<Endpoint>s3.kkloud.com.s3.amazonaws.com</Endpoint>
</Error>

Yes a fascinating point about existence, we can only reach the bucket over a specific endpoint. So how can we discern whether the bucket has an independent existence or whether it is just a temporary form of a part of the endpoint?

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Re: Part II of a video series on the nature of reality

Postby brenok » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:28 am UTC

Spoiler:
PeteP wrote:Oh a text version, splendid.
http://ge.tt/5nurfqY1/v/0 wrote:<Error>
<Code>PermanentRedirect</Code>
<Message>The bucket you are attempting to access must be addressed using the specified endpoint. Please send all future requests to this endpoint.</Message><RequestId>B87BFFC42E83FD8E</RequestId><Bucket>s3.kkloud.com</Bucket>
<HostId>1y5hV1WYVYNpnqt2JQtV4IKCldU3LY1bOR8e0WYCtx3ydjaTvgxX5G7lrcvTIfbM</HostId>
<Endpoint>s3.kkloud.com.s3.amazonaws.com</Endpoint>
</Error>

Yes a fascinating point about existence, we can only reach the bucket over a specific endpoint. So how can we discern whether the bucket has an independent existence or whether it is just a temporary form of a part of the endpoint?

You are missing the Point. The very Existence of reality, in conjunction with the greater Scheme of Things, is what defines Physicality itself. Without the Framework from which all Things are Addressed, all the Buckets of Existence cease to have a meaningful endpoint, bringing their endpoint upon themselves. It's clearly a post-ultrafinitist Neokantian analysis of Redirections and a brief rumination about the nature of B87BFFC42E83FD8E

Wasn't there a thread about this already? Is a new one really neccessary?

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Re: Part II of a video series on the nature of reality

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:01 am UTC

So you're a platonist?
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:23 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:So you're a platonist?
Yes- though an updated Platonist. Or at least, in order for me to be considered a Platonist, you have to realize I give Platonism a different reading than it traditionally has. My problem with Platonism is that there's a disconnect between the realm of "ideal forms" and the apparently "non-ideal forms" that make up our physical reality- I don't see there being a separation between the two, but a continuum wherein physical objects are directly based on the abstract foundations of logic. I don't see any reason to conceive of chairs as being "non-ideal" facsimiles of the "one true ideal chair", as Platonism is often read to suggest. On the contrary, I see chairs as being a spatial (geometrically based) form shaped to serve a purpose (i.e. information causally arranged to fulfill a logical purpose).

I think the ancients were reaching towards the same ideas I'm putting forward, but a knowledge of modern science allows these ideas to be fleshed out much more fully.

PeteP wrote:Yes a fascinating point about existence, we can only reach the bucket over a specific endpoint. So how can we discern whether the bucket has an independent existence or whether it is just a temporary form of a part of the endpoint?


Haha, I didn't realize the link wouldn't work from here for everyone. There's a link in the video's info, try that one.

setzer777 wrote:
script wrote:Since the Abstract is unchanging, it is perfectly timeless. No matter what the ultimate
fate of our physical Universe is, the Abstract will remain untouched and unchanged
forever, shining out as the soul and sole fabric of reality, giving rise to new Universes
and lives and feelings again and again, endlessly
.


Emphasis mine.

I don't see how this follows at all from the other stuff. Couldn't one of the truths about physical reality be that it only extends through a certain finite region of time?


Very interesting point. I wouldn't say that what you're saying is definitely impossible, but I don't agree with you for several reasons.

If we're thinking about the possibility of time being finite, that would indicate that time had a starting point. In that case, you're probably of the opinion that the Big Bang was the starting point of time, but what then caused the Big Bang? I would contend that the Big Bang would have been impossible without the logical context outlining the laws of physics, the logic which gives rise to the possibility of there being energy, atoms, space and time; this logic is what I describe as the abstract, logic which necessarily exists due to the logical impossibility of its nonexistence. If you agree that the Big Bang would be impossible without this logic existing prior to the Big Bang, you probably also agree that such logic, being necessarily existent, is itself timeless, that is, existing unchanged over time. Now, if the Big Bang happened due to the existence of this logic, and this logic exists unchanged forever, what would keep this logic from causing another Big Bang, perhaps at the end of the finite region of time bound in this particular Universe?

Along these lines, I believe not only that time will never end, but that it also never began- it's quite mindbending to think about, but if the logical basis for reality exists necessarily, that is, if it is impossible for it not to exist, then there was never a time when it did not exist, and never will be. If physical Universes occur as a consequence of the existence of this timeless logic, then there's no reason to conclude that there was a time when physical Universes didn't exist, nor is there any reason to think there will be a time when physical Universes don't exist.

As a side note, I think the conclusion that the Big Bang represents the beginning of time is erroneous, if you look at time as change due to causality, that is causes preceding effects. Whatever caused the Big Bang existed as a cause prior to the occurrence of the Big Bang, the effect, and that initial change represents time passing, that is, time prior to the Big Bang. Furthermore, I'm of the view that there can be no uncaused cause- there never was a first cause, and never will be a final effect (every effect is the result of a prior cause and acts as a cause for future effects).

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby setzer777 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:55 pm UTC

It sounds like you are assuming that whenever one thing is necessary for another, there must be a timelike interval separating the two things. This is not necessarily true.

Suppose that logic is true at every possible moment of time, and suppose that time can only exist if logic is true. It doesn't follow from either of those things that for time to exist at any moment in time* there must be a preceding moment of time where logic is true.

*This already seems as odd to specify as saying that position exists at every possible point in space.
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:37 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:It sounds like you are assuming that whenever one thing is necessary for another, there must be a timelike interval separating the two things. This is not necessarily true.


I see what you're saying. I'm not exactly putting that forward- I can picture there being countless logical consequences based on the most basic logical necessities which are instantaneously (no timelike interval involved) true. In the case of logic giving rise to physics and the existence of energy, it all gets quite muddy to me, because exactly what logical progression takes logic from the most basic truths to the profound complexity of the laws of physics is light years ahead of my powers of reasoning to deduce.

However, (and I make the argument for this more fully in Part I), it seems clear to me that the passage of time in particular is literally nothing more than changes to the information in the Universe due to causes giving way to effects. In this view, it would only make sense to say that time has a beginning if there is an initial cause which is not itself the effect of any prior cause. The thought of this just doesn't make any sense to me- from everything I can observe and reason about the Universe, everything which exists has a reason (logical), a cause. You might be familiar with the Principle of Sufficient Reason, an idea which I strongly, strongly agree with. (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sufficient-reason/)

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby setzer777 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:46 am UTC

How do you reconcile that view with relativity and the fact that the passage of time is demonstrably affected by things like gravity and velocity?
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:39 am UTC

Another fascinating question! I've actually been planning on making a brief video to address that exact concern.

It gets pretty complicated in the details, because, you know, relativity, but here goes: To answer this, we first have to ask, "why does time slow for reference frames (RFs) which are moving at higher relative velocities, or in gravitational fields of greater magnitude?" For simplicity, let's just consider relative motion (keeping in mind that everything said for RFs in motions applies equally to RFs in gravitational fields, as the equivalence principle shows).

The short answer is that spacetime is compressed in the moving RF relative to a stationary RF. This is famously demonstrated by the example of a light-and-mirror clock on a traincar vs. a similar clock on a stationary RF (http://youtu.be/HHRK6ojWdtU?t=7m23s)-- the light in the moving RF has to travel a farther distance as observed from the stationary RF, and because light speed is constant, the clock it is situated in ticks at a slower rate relative to the stationary clock. However, on board the train, the train clock is observed to bounce light straight up and down; time on board the train does not appear to be slowed.

Here we have an oddity- the clock on board the train is both passing light diagonally to itself as observed from outside, yet straight up and down to itself as observed from the inside. Relativity accounts for this through theorizing that spacetime is compressed on board the traincar relative to the spacetime in the stationary RF. In other words, though the light appears to be bouncing straight up and down from on board the train as usual, in actuality the light has farther to travel to make its journey; the compressed spacetime packs more space into the traincar which the light must traverse over more time.

The causal framework underlying the physics of atoms and molecules, and by extension, the mechanics of people and objects we can touch and see, is fundamentally based on the behavior of light. This is made clear by quantum electrodynamics, (by many accounts science's most predictively and explanatorily successful theory) which reveals that the mechanics between charged particles are mediated through the exchange of photons, packets of light. For example, when you press down on your spacebar, what's really happening is the electrons in your thumb's molecules are exchanging photons with the electrons in the molecules of the keyboard via the electromagnetic field; the only thing you are actually touching is light.

Wherever spacetime is compressed, light has to travel a farther distance through space and time to cause the effects it does, and this results in every physical interaction unfolding more slowly in spacetime-compressed regions. Therefore, in any reference frame where spacetime is compressed due to gravitation or due to relative motion, clocks will tick more slowly, chemical reactions will unfold more slowly, signals passed between neurons will move more slowly, etc.: time in effect is slowed explicitly because changes take longer to unfold relative to RFs where spacetime is not as compressed.

As you can see, this jives perfectly with the theory that time is nothing but change due to causality, and in fact this theory has explanatory value in that in conjunction with quantum electrodynamics and relativity, it can explain why clocks are seen to tick slower in moving reference frames: light therein has to travel farther through spacetime to cause its effects.
Last edited by androidbleepboop on Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:19 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby setzer777 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:33 am UTC

It seems bizarre to ascribe causality to abstracts. Especially when combined with your assertion that there can be no initial cause. Does that mean that logic has a cause? The truth that everything has a cause has a cause?
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Jorpho » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:57 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:My problem with Platonism is that there's a disconnect between the realm of "ideal forms" and the apparently "non-ideal forms" that make up our physical reality- I don't see there being a separation between the two, but a continuum wherein physical objects are directly based on the abstract foundations of logic. I don't see any reason to conceive of chairs as being "non-ideal" facsimiles of the "one true ideal chair", as Platonism is often read to suggest. On the contrary, I see chairs as being a spatial (geometrically based) form shaped to serve a purpose (i.e. information causally arranged to fulfill a logical purpose).
How is this a "continuum" ? A continuum between two states implies the existence of an arbitrary number of states between the two. A form is either spatial or it isn't; it can't be sort-of spatial.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:10 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:It seems bizarre to ascribe causality to abstracts. Especially when combined with your assertion that there can be no initial cause.


Good point- you’re referring to my sentence 2 posts back, “everything which exists has a reason (logical), a cause.” I agree that this doesn’t fit the framework. After all, causality explicitly refers to change over time, yet the abstract is designated as everything in existence which never changes. The word causality does not apply.

The sentence in question is a bit sloppy, because if I’m being precise (and I ought to be, if I’m sticking to my framework), it would be better to say that everything abstract has a reason, and everything concrete has a cause.

Since causality is a phenomenon related to changes to concrete information over time, it only applies specifically to the concrete.

In my view the type of “causality” which applies to the abstract is automatic logical consequence, so while I wouldn’t say logical rules cause logical consequences (because that would imply change over time), I would say that logical rules are the reason for their logical consequences.

setzer777 wrote:Does that mean that logic has a cause?


This is a very incisive question.

In my view the necessary Truths, the foundations of logic, are fundamentally self-causing; they exist due to the impossibility of their own nonexistence. In the parlance I put forward above, the reason for the existence of a necessary truth is that it cannot be untrue.

Let me use an example I’ve been saving for video III. This is what I consider to be a prototypical example of a self-causing truth:

Nothingness cannot exist.

Let me just be clear that this “capital N” Nothingness is different from everyday nothingness. For example, “I have nothing in my pockets” is a useful construction, but it is not equivalent to saying “I have Nothing in my pockets”; the latter is false, because there is air in my pockets, and space- these things are not Nothingness. The Nothingness I’m speaking of is the opposite of Existence; it contains no information, is not a vacuum, not emptiness. It is not anything.

The reason I hold this up as an example of a necessary truth is because it’s clearly impossible for it to be false. For it to be false would imply that Nothingness can exist, but if Nothingness were something that could exist, by that very fact it wouldn’t be Nothingness.

I believe all necessary Truths are founded on the resolution of paradoxes in this way. It would be paradoxical for Nothingness to be a something that exists, and therefore, it is forever the case that Nothingness is not. The consequential result of the existence of this Truth is that Existence cannot not exist; for Existence not to exist, it would have to be Nothingness, yet as we’ve seen, Nothingness cannot be.


setzer777 wrote:Does that mean... the truth that everything has a cause has a cause?


In general, abstract truths exist because they are true, logically valid. The cause of their existence is therefore the simple fact that they are not false. This particular truth would stand as a consequence of the fact that everything has a cause (or more precisely, everything has a reason)- it is a consequence of that fact, and not a prerequisite to it.


Jorpho wrote:
androidbleepboop wrote:My problem with Platonism is that there's a disconnect between the realm of "ideal forms" and the apparently "non-ideal forms" that make up our physical reality- I don't see there being a separation between the two, but a continuum wherein physical objects are directly based on the abstract foundations of logic. I don't see any reason to conceive of chairs as being "non-ideal" facsimiles of the "one true ideal chair", as Platonism is often read to suggest. On the contrary, I see chairs as being a spatial (geometrically based) form shaped to serve a purpose (i.e. information causally arranged to fulfill a logical purpose).
How is this a "continuum" ? A continuum between two states implies the existence of an arbitrary number of states between the two. A form is either spatial or it isn't; it can't be sort-of spatial.

Hmm- I'm suggesting a logical continuum between the abstract logic of geometry and the concrete information in the chair, not a spatial continuum. The abstract logic does not itself take up space, but it underlies and defines the existence of space. This is the continuum I'm referring to- the spatial form occupied by the chair depends directly upon the existence of the logic of geometry, and couldn't exist in the absence of the existence of that logic. The word continuum in this case is used to show that there's no break between the chair's existence and the logic underlying the chair's existence; the chair's being is inextricably founded on the logic's existence.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Jorpho » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:33 am UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
androidbleepboop wrote:My problem with Platonism is that there's a disconnect between the realm of "ideal forms" and the apparently "non-ideal forms" that make up our physical reality- I don't see there being a separation between the two, but a continuum wherein physical objects are directly based on the abstract foundations of logic. I don't see any reason to conceive of chairs as being "non-ideal" facsimiles of the "one true ideal chair", as Platonism is often read to suggest. On the contrary, I see chairs as being a spatial (geometrically based) form shaped to serve a purpose (i.e. information causally arranged to fulfill a logical purpose).
How is this a "continuum" ? A continuum between two states implies the existence of an arbitrary number of states between the two. A form is either spatial or it isn't; it can't be sort-of spatial.

Hmm- I'm suggesting a logical continuum between the abstract logic of geometry and the concrete information in the chair, not a spatial continuum. The abstract logic does not itself take up space, but it underlies and defines the existence of space. This is the continuum I'm referring to- the spatial form occupied by the chair depends directly upon the existence of the logic of geometry, and couldn't exist in the absence of the existence of that logic. The word continuum in this case is used to show that there's no break between the chair's existence and the logic underlying the chair's existence; the chair's being is inextricably founded on the logic's existence.
But of course there's a break. The logic underlying the chair's existence has no spatial form; it can also exist independently of an extant object defined by that logic.

Or to put it another way: if there is no "break", what form would that "break" take it if actually existed?

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby FierceContinent » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:04 pm UTC

they exist due to the impossibility of their own nonexistence


That's a good line. :)
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:17 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:But of course there's a break. The logic underlying the chair's existence has no spatial form; it can also exist independently of an extant object defined by that logic.

The fact that the logic of geometry exists independently of any spatial object does not represent a logical break between the logic of geometry and the spatial object in question. The point I'm making is that the expressions of that logic (spatial objects) depend on the existence of that logic, not the other way around. The fact that the existence of the underlying objects does not depend on the existence of its consequences does not in any way represent a break in the logic between the two, it just clarifies their relationship (i.e. that one logically depends upon the other, not that both mutually depend on each other).

You've actually highlighted an important distinction between the Necessary Truths me and Setzer777 have been discussing, and truths which exist as a consequence of other truths. In the case of Necessary Truths, there is a codependence between the reason the Truth is true and its consequence. For example, "Nothingness cannot exist" and "Existence must exist" depend upon each other; one cannot be true without the other one being true. On the other hand, spatial truths like "my basketball has a volume (4/3)π times the cube of its radius" is a consequence of the existence of the logic of geometry, but the existence of the logic of geometry does not depend on the existence of my basketball in any way.

Jorpho wrote:Or to put it another way: if there is no "break", what form would that "break" take it if actually existed?

This is one of the reasons I am not a Platonist in the traditional sense. Platonists generally hold that the realm of ideal forms, analogous to the abstract in my terminology, is separate from the world we live in. Just what constitutes this break is ill-defined, and I see it as unnecessary and incorrect.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Jorpho » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:05 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Or to put it another way: if there is no "break", what form would that "break" take it if actually existed?
This is one of the reasons I am not a Platonist in the traditional sense. Platonists generally hold that the realm of ideal forms, analogous to the abstract in my terminology, is separate from the world we live in. Just what constitutes this break is ill-defined, and I see it as unnecessary and incorrect.
In what sense is the break ill-defined? The ideal form cannot in itself be spatially expressed. Seems fine to me. (Not that it's in any sense practical or useful in everyday life, but then, what is?)

Perhaps the issue is that while you may reference "spatial truths like 'my basketball has a volume (4/3)π times the cube of its radius'" as "a consequence of the existence of the logic of geometry", there is no such "truth" underlying the nature of what it is to be a chair.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Fri May 02, 2014 3:58 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:In what sense is the break ill-defined? The ideal form cannot in itself be spatially expressed. Seems fine to me. (Not that it's in any sense practical or useful in everyday life, but then, what is?)

Perhaps the issue is that while you may reference "spatial truths like 'my basketball has a volume (4/3)π times the cube of its radius'" as "a consequence of the existence of the logic of geometry", there is no such "truth" underlying the nature of what it is to be a chair.


Yes, exactly. That's a great way to put it.

Except I would say that "the "truth" underlying the nature of what it is to be a chair" is the logical nature of what constitutes any thing we would consider a chair. For example, a large stone you happen upon in the woods might be good for sitting, but most would not call it a chair; it wasn't formed by humans for sitting. The information making up the existence of any one chair usually includes the fact that it was causally formed by a person or people in order to fulfill its purpose. The factuality of that information, like all information, is only possible because the logic which holds that information to be true exists.

Now, the question I'm struggling with now for the next video is, "what does it really take for logic to exist?" Like I say at the end of the video, in my view the theory so far can't account for how logic is actually instantiated, how it holds true. Like a few of you've been pointing out, it's not clear how it's determined in the first place that Necessary Truths are necessary, how it's known that they should be true rather than false. I have an idea of how to answer this question, but I want to work on fleshing it out before going into it.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Jorpho » Fri May 02, 2014 1:16 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:Except I would say that "the "truth" underlying the nature of what it is to be a chair" is the logical nature of what constitutes any thing we would consider a chair. For example, a large stone you happen upon in the woods might be good for sitting, but most would not call it a chair; it wasn't formed by humans for sitting. The information making up the existence of any one chair usually includes the fact that it was causally formed by a person or people in order to fulfill its purpose.
But you say "usually"! Are there not objects that may be considered chairs despite not having been causally formed by a person or people? Mightn't the stone have subjective qualities which resemble that of the ideal chair and allow it to serve as such? For that matter, I suspect there are experiments in ergonomics out there which were formed for the purpose of being a chair but that I would have difficulty recognizing as such.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:21 am UTC

New video is up! I think you'll really enjoy this one, whether you ultimately agree or not. Let me know your thoughts on it, and we can keep this discussion train rollin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLA02-ubvFY

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby ahammel » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:16 am UTC

Some things never change:

http://ge.tt/3XnEAIs1/v/0?c wrote:<Error>
<Code>PermanentRedirect</Code>
<Message>The bucket you are attempting to access must be addressed using the specified endpoint. Please send all future requests to this endpoint.</Message>
<RequestId>91BB49772031E5DD</RequestId>
<Bucket>s3.kkloud.com</Bucket>
<HostId>cgKSwunODEtCr6/A5wG27uiDbOK5cQnpoUMA9LkPHLuRO5gTkVYdXKRKJy9128J8</HostId>
<Endpoint>s3.kkloud.com.s3.amazonaws.com</Endpoint>
</Error>
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:29 pm UTC

http://ge.tt/3XnEAIs1/v/0?c

I gather that this link isn't working for you. I'm not sure why, it has a handful of downloads which indicates it works for other people. Works for me- what browser are you using?

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby ahammel » Sat Sep 06, 2014 7:24 pm UTC

Doesn't work on Firefox v. whatever the latest FF is. Sort of works in Android Chrome (I can download it but but read it online).

Why is it a pdf anyway? What's wrong with just putting the text on the description of the YouTube video?
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Jorpho » Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:18 pm UTC

It works for me in Firefox, too. Though I agree, using a PDF seems hugely unnecessary. 'Tis only 2900 words.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:23 am UTC

That's a good point- I sort of like the idea of keeping the description area brief, since it seems a bit cleaner. I hadn't anticipated the issue of the link not working. In any case, what do you think of the ideas put forward?

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby ahammel » Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:26 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:In any case, what do you think of the ideas put forward?

The Script wrote:I'll just pause here to say that, while there are several different arguments I could make in favour of the Idealist position, I don't think the case is definitively closed by any of them—this stuff is just outside the realm of human certainty.
Listen: I am honestly very annoyed with you. After two pages of reading impressive sounding statements about metaphysics, I get what amounts to a footnote saying "BTW guys, I'm not going to bother making a case that any of that is true."? Is that how you think philosophy works?
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Sep 08, 2014 7:19 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:That's a good point- I sort of like the idea of keeping the description area brief, since it seems a bit cleaner. I hadn't anticipated the issue of the link not working. In any case, what do you think of the ideas put forward?


Copy-pasted from the PDF as PDFs are terrible
Spoiler:
∞∞∞
Ok, part III. Have we pinned down the nature of reality yet?
Well, we’ve certainly covered a lot of ground so far, but there are still some loose ends to
tie up, and some really interesting ideas to be reached through doing so. In this video,
I’m gonna talk about what it takes for the information making up reality to exist, and
discuss what this means for our place in the world. Again, I don’t think for a minute that
the viewpoint developed here is definitely correct beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I find
the destination we reach from following this line of reasoning offers a uniquely beautiful
and sensible perspective on reality.
Keep in mind also that I’m covering all of these complex ideas pretty quickly, with the
hope that you will pause the [script] and think over the points whenever you want to. It
might help to watch the prior videos, especially part 2, to help understand where I’m
coming from with these arguments. Also note that there’s a PDF summarizing the
pertinent points from this series in the video’s description.
∞∞∞
Ok then, so far in this series we’ve established that the physical Universe, including
space, time, and matter, can be understood as being nothing else than an unfathomable
set of dynamic information. Information, remember, is a word for the facts which are
true of reality. We also covered the point that such facts can only be true in reference to
logic, and further that the natural form which logic takes has the automatic consequence
of giving rise to the Universe in all its unimaginable complexity and beauty.
Though expansive, this explanation for the nature of Existence has so far left
unanswered the central question, “What does it take for information to exist- in other
words, what does it take for a truth to be true?”
This question is quite perplexing, in part because it steps fully outside the realm of the
empirically observable and pokes at the very foundation of reality. If, as we’ve
established, physical reality is but information based on the existence of logic, what does
it take for logic to exist, and for information to be based on it?
As an in-road on this difficult question, note that through all the numerous topics we’ve
covered thus far in this series, one key aspect of reality has been missing: consciousness.
This facet of existence is simultaneously the most familiar and the most mysterious. It’s
also the most significant, since it’s the faculty through which we experience every other
aspect of existence.
There’s sometimes a bit of confusion about the word consciousness, so let me clarify my
meaning. Consciousness is simply the phenomenon of experience, wherein
sensations of any flavor or type are felt by a subject. Absolutely every
experience of any kind is described by this term. Under this paradigm, any being which
has experiences is therefore a conscious being.
Now then, we can observe that the only way we can know a fact to be true, whether that
fact is a rational idea like 3 times 3 is 9 or a fact of sensation like sunlight feels warm in
summer is through experiencing the reality of that fact, whether through
comprehending its meaning or through directly sensing it as true. There is not a single
thing we can say or know about the Universe that does not come to be known to us
through this primal faculty, the faculty of experientiality, of consciousness. Might this
provide some clue as to the fundamental nature of facticity, of trueness and falseness?
I argue (and other much more eminent thinkers have argued) that yes, this is in fact our
only reliable clue in the pursuit of this video’s question: just as we can only perceive the
reality of any truth through conscious experience, Truth in general can only have reality
through being Known to be true. That is, all of the endless gallery of facts flooding our
Universe are only true, only exist because they are experienced as being true.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that the Universe only exists in the
minds of humans, or in the minds of the living creatures populating the Universe. After
all, the Universe gives rise to the existence of living creatures, so the Universe wouldn’t
be around to first give rise to us if it only existed through our perception of it.
What I am putting forward is that the being of the Universe and all of Existence is
fundamentally experiential, fundamentally mental, because the only way the
information making up reality can exist is through being Known to exist. So, for
example, in video 2 I put forward the argument that mathematics exists as a foundation
for the physical Universe. Here I’m further arguing that the foundation for the existence
of mathematics is the Conscious realization of the infinitude of Truths inherent to
Existence and underlying the logic of mathematics.
This conception is broadly known to philosophers as Idealism, a metaphysical
framework which holds that the actual stuff of existence, the fabric of reality itself, is
Awareness, Perception, Knowing, or any other word describing the essence of
Consciousness. It’s called idealism because it maintains that reality is fundamentally
made up of ideas, and is the belief that something can only exist through being Known
to exist. This precept applies directly to the context developed in parts I and II of this
series: a fact can only be Known to be true through the Awareness of its logical content.
That is, information can only exist through being Known to logically cohere, through
being Known to not be false.
Idealism holds that the absolute basis of reality is a fundamental subjectivity which
experiences the reality of existence into being, both through Knowing the unspeakable
volume of physical facts making up the state and evolution of our Universe, and the
infinite and eternal sum of Abstract possibilities. Another way of saying this is that every
fact describing reality, no matter how minute or trivial, is accounted for, and that
account is held in the Knowledge of some fundamental Knower. For example, If I
change the color of the text from gnome’s teeth green to 90’s binder pink, the content of
Universal Knowing is altered by that action to account for the new diodic binary of those
pixels and the causal chain which led to that change, and which follows from it,
including you witnessing that change.
I’ll pause here to say that while there are several different arguments I could make in
favor of the Idealist position, I don’t think the case is definitively closed by any of themthis
stuff is just outside the realm of human certainty. Instead of hammering the point,
I’m just going to get right into the interesting part: what this perspective means for the
nature of existence and our place in it.
∞∞∞
First of all, what is the nature of this fundamental Knower?
Well, while I think it’s definitely outside the bounds of any human capacity to
comprehend such a One in any level of detail or certitude, following our premise that
reality only exists through being Known, we can conceive of the Knower in this case as
the supreme being, the heart and soul of existence.
I’m tempted to call this infinite, all-pervasive Awareness God, because this is the word I
grew up with for the highest, most perfect being. However, I’m also extremely hesitant
to use the word, because it has a whole host of seemingly erroneous associations. Let me
try to clarify the distinction between my view of this Supreme Being and the traditional
view of God which was familiar to our distant ancestors.
• I can’t see any reason to think of God as supernatural, as being separate from or
lording over reality. My view of God coincides with the context of modern scientific
knowledge, in which it appears that the Universe behaves causally in accordance with
logical rules, and there is no reliable evidence of a supernatural influence which
trumps those rules. It appears that God is instead the experiencer of what is True
following the logic extended from the Necessary Truths discussed in video 2. That is,
the causal cascade which has physics and physical reality arising from the logical
consequences of the existence of the Necessary Truths plays out and has substance
only through God’s Knowing of that cascade.
• From this perspective God is reality, in that every aspect of reality exists solely through
being Known to truly Exist in God’s Awareness. Nature is the natural embodiment of
God’s Knowledge, and there’s nothing supernatural anywhere in existence.
This brings me to an important point I want to make: In my view, nothing happens for a
reason. That is, nothing happens as part of a divine plan- there’s no one in reality
balancing the moral scales of justice, no cosmic reward for good behavior or punishment
for evildoers, no overarching cosmic narrative which we each play an important role in.
This is why the worst possible things sometimes happen to the best of people- it’s not
because there’s some entity controlling the world which allows those terrible, unjust
things to happen, it’s simply because such an outcome is physically possible. In other
words, everything that is possible in reality given the laws of physics is allowed to
happen. I’ll expand on the moral ramifications of this line of thinking shortly.
∞∞∞
The next important point is that the Idealist perspective can explain quite a bit about the
mysterious phenomena of human and animal consciousness.
To see what I mean, note that our brains act as information processors, gathering facts
from the outside world and logically integrating them and modeling their content. This
modeling creates a self-contained copy and reinterpretation of the information
gathered. The Idealist view holds that every fact in existence is coexistent with the
fundamental Awareness of the truth of that fact- so, for example, when the information
gathered by retinas is modeled and reproduced by a brain, the experience of sight
accompanies the existence of that information. When sound waves vibrate eardrums
and are mentally processed, hearing is felt. In general, in brains, the facts comprising
the reality of the world which arrive through the sense organs are mirrored and
reproduced, and the reality of those reproductions is, like all information, accompanied
by the experience of the existence of that information in the Knowing of the supreme
being.
Again, wherever information exists, God’s Awareness of that information, the
experience of the reality of that information, exists. That is to say, the conscious
experience we enjoy in life is simply a natural extension of the conscious
experience which underlies the existence of the Universe: it is the
Fundamental Awareness which is coexistent with any information present
in Existence. This includes the experience of the information which plants integrate
and respond to in their lives, and likewise that which cells process in their various
complex activities. Consciousness positively surrounds us and pervades us, with even
the most minute bacteria likely possessing some degree of personal experientiality. Even
the behaviors of atoms are Known in all their intricacy to the infinite Knower.
In this view, the one who experiences all of our experiences is the same one who Knows
the Universe into being. That is, the one looking out on the world through your eyes is
God.
In this view there is no separation between you and God. There’s no fundamental
separation between you and anything- it’s all one fabric, one substance. Everything is in
God and of God’s Knowing. Of course, in life one can only experience the region of God’s
awareness which is attached to and generated by their brain’s informational activity.
If true, this would have profound moral implications, which I’ve already partly gone into
in my first video, “Who Experiences your Life?”. A human self would really be a particle
of God’s awareness which exists due to the information-modeling performed by the
brain. Conscious experience in life would therefore be a window through which God
perceives and acts upon the world. We would all be One in our identity with God, and if
this is the case we should really wise up and treat each other better.
This is what I consider to be my most important point: this understanding should help
us cultivate compassion for one another, and for all conscious beings, because the same
one who experiences my life is the one who experiences your life. With this knowledge
there’s no way I could happily take advantage of you while benefitting myself, because in
causing pain in you I am also fundamentally causing pain in me, by causing pain in the
experiencer of reality which we all share and embody.
This brings me back to the disavowal of divine justice I was speaking about before.
Again, I see there being no divine plan for the Universe: it just exists and proceeds as an
expression of logical possibility derived from the Necessary Truths. Because of this, truly
senseless and awful things can and do happen, like children dying or suffering due to
illness, or the countless instances of torture and cruelty we inflict on one other. This is
not because the world is cruel, or because God doesn’t care for us.
Crucially, in this view God is along for the ride, through experiencing all lives- the one
who is subject to all the chaos, the tumult and strife of the world, is also the one giving
rise to it all, the Knower of reality. God is alive in every being that has experiences, and
must live out any life that happens to arise in this Universe or any possible Universe.
This runs the gamut from the most blessed, pleasurable lives possible to the most hellish
or tragic outcomes.
It all unfolds with an automatic sort of justice which can replace in our wondering the
idea of divine justice. Every victim of torture, and simultaneously, every torturer is an
embodiment of God living out both sides of one of the countless, sometimes tragic
possibilities open to reality. Every act, heroic or cowardly, loving or hateful, creative or
destructive, is taken by the supreme being, and the full consequences of those actions
are suffered or enjoyed by that very same being.
This is the big secret which life hides from us, behind an illusion we can’t help but
believe, because it superficially appears that we each have a personal selfhood separate
from all others. This belief makes us each feel so important, a feeling we desperately
want to feel. Unfortunately, it also makes possible acts of evil, acts of willful subjugation
and manipulation, because it frames life as a competition between rivals, obscuring the
real picture. This belief in our fundamental separateness gives rise to many of the foibles
and tragedies that mar the human experience, and I think the moment we leave this
outdated conception behind we step into a new, more benevolent world.
From the Idealist perspective, we shouldn’t be terrorized by the prospect of dying. Of
course, I wouldn’t bet my life on it, but I really don’t think dying is the worst possible
thing. Though it is extremely difficult if not impossible from within life to believe it,
dying is likely just as beautiful a thing as being born. I believe that to die is to wake up to
being God, with perfect understanding and boundless comprehension. To live is to wake
up in any of the countless outrageous circumstances the Universe can cook up, and to
have no idea where you came from or how you got there- to have no idea what you’re
supposed to do, aside from what your instinctual sensations motivate you to do.
I think that outside of life, there is nothing else for Consciousness to do but be God and
know the infinitude of sacred Knowledge which gives rise to Nature. I think that God
simultaneously experiences every texture and flavor of every life everywhere
simultaneously, in a boundless dance of experientiality infinitely beyond all human
imagining or realizing. From the inside of those lives, one can only feel just what
information is privy to that life, but from the outside, all is Known simultaneously and
fully from every angle and at every scale. So to die into being God is just about the best
possible thing that could happen to anybody, and also, to wake up into life, that is to
wake up to not being God is the most interesting possible thing that could happen to
God.
Let me just make clear that I’m not pretending it isn’t absolutely heart-wrenchingly
awful when someone you care about dies, for the many reasons we all know too well. It
is consoling for me to imagine that for the deceased, death is a portal to a miraculous
state of unity with God, but since I still desperately want my loved ones here with me,
alive goddammit, this feeling doesn’t have much of a role in the acute grieving process.
There is so much more that could be said on these topics, but I’d rather respond to your
questions and comments than keep going here. Please leave a comment if you have one
to add- I’ll be happy to read and answer. @hem.
hum munnanunnanuh. HUM munnanunnanuh. hum munnanunnanuh. HUM
munnanunnanuh. Eluhorum, Allorah, Alun


TGB wrote:The video's problem is not that it contains philosophy, but that the philosophy that it contains is either trivial or not supported by argument.


I'll bother reading it after you answer this - Are your points no longer trivial and supported by arguments? Also, what's up with the invisible bits at the end?
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:44 am UTC

Just to pull one point at random:

I argue (and other much more eminent thinkers have argued) that yes, this is in fact our only reliable clue in the pursuit of this video’s question: just as we can only perceive the reality of any truth through conscious experience, Truth in general can only have reality through being Known to be true. That is, all of the endless gallery of facts flooding our Universe are only true, only exist because they are experienced as being true.


Can you name an eminent thinker who has argued this?

(ST's point is also relevant here: You say "I argue," but as far as I can tell you do not argue for this claim. You merely assert it.)
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Castor87 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:11 am UTC

"something" is reality. "nothing" is not reality

Think about nothing existing.

Nothing is no time, no space, not even darkness, since darkness is something.

If you can see something, then it is real. If you can feel something, then it is real. If you believe you are here, then you are here.

If you do not believe you are here, you are still here anyway.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Sat Sep 13, 2014 5:56 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:After two pages of reading impressive sounding statements about metaphysics, I get what amounts to a footnote saying "BTW guys, I'm not going to bother making a case that any of that is true."? Is that how you think philosophy works?

I don't think there's one specific way that philosophy works. The arguments in favor and against an idealist position have been made time and time again, and are well known. Look up "idealist metaphysics" on wikipedia to see. Like I said, I'm not trying to prove the position, because I don't think it can be proved with certainty. Doesn't mean it isn't interesting to follow the line of reasoning to its end, as I do in the rest of the video.

SecondTalon wrote:Are your points no longer trivial and supported by arguments?


Grammatically, that question asks if my points are no longer supported by arguments, implying that you feel they were before.

As a refresher, note that an argument is an assertion backed up by reasoning in favor of that assertion. Here's an example: (assertion) my points never were trivial and unsupported by arguments. (reasoning in favor of assertion) Each assertion is accompanied by the reasons why I believe that assertion to be true.

The invisible part is just fooling around, meant to cause one to scratch one's head a bit.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Can you name an eminent thinker who has argued this?

Of course, there are many: Kant, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hegel, Royce, Ernst Mach, Ludwig Boltzmann, John Searle, and Brand Blanshard, to name a few.

Castor87: agreed!

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Sep 13, 2014 6:38 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:I don't think there's one specific way that philosophy works.

I wouldn't say that there's one specific way that philosophy works, but I would say that there are many ways that it doesn't work. Such as what's going on in your video.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Of course, there are many: Kant, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hegel, Royce, Ernst Mach, Ludwig Boltzmann, John Searle, and Brand Blanshard, to name a few.

I'm not familiar with all these thinkers, but the three that I am familiar with (Kant, Berkeley, and Searle) do not think that "Truth in general can only have reality through being Known to be true." I don't think Spinoza thought that, either.
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby ahammel » Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:46 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:I don't think there's one specific way that philosophy works. The arguments in favor and against an idealist position have been made time and time again, and are well known. Look up "idealist metaphysics" on wikipedia to see.
If, in order to learn about Idealist metaphysics, I have to look it up on Wikipedia, then what was the point of the video? Not to teach me anything about Idealist metaphysics, obviously.

I doubt if the arguments for and against idealism are "well known" to the kind of audience you're likely to attract by posting YouTube videos. (I'm beginning to suspect that they aren't that well known to you either.)

SecondTalon wrote:Are your points no longer trivial and supported by arguments?


Grammatically, that question asks if my points are no longer supported by arguments, implying that you feel they were before.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he probably meant "(no longer trivial) and (supported by arguments)", not "no longer (trivial and supported by arguments)".

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Can you name an eminent thinker who has argued this?

Of course
You probably should have done in the video, then.
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:02 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Are your points no longer trivial and supported by arguments?


Grammatically, that question asks if my points are no longer supported by arguments, implying that you feel they were before.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he probably meant "(no longer trivial) and (supported by arguments)", not "no longer (trivial and supported by arguments)".


I'd go further, and say that androidbleepbloop is perfectly aware of that and thinks it's clever to deliberately choose a possible (but obviously wrong) interpretation of the words someone says and thinks that a smart person makes every sentence entirely unambiguous (which isn't possible in most natural languages and would require learning something like lojban). In other words, they're communicating badly and acting smug.
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:10 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Are your points no longer trivial and supported by arguments?

Grammatically, that question asks if my points are no longer supported by arguments, implying that you feel they were before.


Holy shitballs, are you really opening the can of worms labeled "Let's go pedantic on all use of language in your presentation"?

Or, would you prefer, that I start to, use the Walken comma, instead?
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Weeks » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:02 am UTC

I wouldn't mind, at all, that you started using, the Walken comma, ST.

androidbleepboop wrote:The invisible part is just fooling around, meant to cause one to scratch one's head a bit.
I hate PDFs, so I'll have to ask, are you referring to, this?
hum munnanunnanuh. HUM munnanunnanuh. hum munnanunnanuh. HUM
munnanunnanuh. Eluhorum, Allorah, Alun
Because that just sounds like some kind of chant. Probably by the Illuminati.
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:20 am UTC

The Phenomenati.
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby addams » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:28 am UTC

Now. Now.
Both Chants and Illumination are Good Things.

Chants are Great!
I was wondering how long it would take to get around to Chants.

oh..You didn't.
..Did you?

(big sigh)
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby androidbleepboop » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:18 am UTC

ahammel wrote:You probably should have done in the video, then.


I did, except it was by means of a visual, so it didn't appear in the script. I also didn't think to add it to the script. http://youtu.be/tLA02-ubvFY?t=3m19s

eSOANEM wrote:
ahammel wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Are your points no longer trivial and supported by arguments?


Grammatically, that question asks if my points are no longer supported by arguments, implying that you feel they were before.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he probably meant "(no longer trivial) and (supported by arguments)", not "no longer (trivial and supported by arguments)".


I'd go further, and say that androidbleepbloop is perfectly aware of that and thinks it's clever to deliberately choose a possible (but obviously wrong) interpretation of the words someone says and thinks that a smart person makes every sentence entirely unambiguous (which isn't possible in most natural languages and would require learning something like lojban). In other words, they're communicating badly and acting smug.


Of course I knew what he meant. I did respond to the question as he intended it to be posed, I just briefly pointed out the error before doing so- I couldn't help it. He was, after all, attempting to dismiss my entire position in one sentence, so it was ironic that he couldn't complete that single sentence correctly.


TheGrammarBolshevik wrote: I'm not familiar with all these thinkers, but the three that I am familiar with (Kant, Berkeley, and Searle) do not think that "Truth in general can only have reality through being Known to be true."

Here are a few representative samples from each with regards to their epistemology concerning idealism.

Kant: "the reality of external objects does not admit of strict proof. On the contrary, however, the reality of the object of our internal sense (of myself and state) is clear immediately through consciousness."

On Kant, from IEP: "In the Transcendental Aesthetic section of the Critique, Kant argues that sensibility is the understanding’s means of accessing objects."

Searle: "The only epistemic basis for claims about the external world are our perceptual experiences."

(On Berkeley, from Britannica): "For Berkeley, ostensibly physical objects like tables and chairs are really nothing more than collections of sensible ideas. Since no idea can exist outside a mind, it follows that tables and chairs, as well all the other furniture of the physical world, exist only insofar as they are in the mind of someone—i.e., only insofar as they are perceived."

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Re: What is Existence?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:08 am UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:Here are a few representative samples from each with regards to their epistemology concerning idealism.

Kant: "the reality of external objects does not admit of strict proof. On the contrary, however, the reality of the object of our internal sense (of myself and state) is clear immediately through consciousness."

On Kant, from IEP: "In the Transcendental Aesthetic section of the Critique, Kant argues that sensibility is the understanding’s means of accessing objects."

Searle: "The only epistemic basis for claims about the external world are our perceptual experiences."

(On Berkeley, from Britannica): "For Berkeley, ostensibly physical objects like tables and chairs are really nothing more than collections of sensible ideas. Since no idea can exist outside a mind, it follows that tables and chairs, as well all the other furniture of the physical world, exist only insofar as they are in the mind of someone—i.e., only insofar as they are perceived."

First of all, idealism is a metaphysical position, not an epistemological position. With regards to Searle and Kant, the quotations you offer regard epistemological positions; none of them show that those thinkers are idealists. Kant in fact includes a section, the "Refutation of Idealism," in the B edition of the first Critique, and regards the whole of the Transcendental Aesthetic and Transcendental Analytic as a sustained refutation of Berkeley's "dogmatic idealism," which corresponds roughly to the view that you espouse here. Also, because your understanding of Kant is based on Wikipedia rather than on actually reading Kant, you mistakenly attribute to him the view that "the reality of external objects does not admit of strict proof," when in fact this is a view that he attributes to previous thinkers as an error (see Critique of Pure Reason, A edition p. 38).

Second, regarding Berkeley, it is true that Berkeley believes that objects only exist insofar as they are within minds. However, it does not follow from this that truths are only true insofar as they are known. In particular, it is possible (as Berkeley himself agrees) for people to be mistaken about counterfactuals concerning mental objects. For example: a reed dipped in the water exists because the reed is a bundle of ideas, which a person viewing it has in mind. But a person who sees the optical illusion of the reed "bending" in the water is mistaken because, if the reed were removed from the water, it would become clear that it is straight. It would be true that the reed is straight, even though it is neither known that the reed is straight nor known that the reed would appear straight if removed from the water.
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Re: What is Existence?

Postby Weeks » Thu Sep 18, 2014 7:58 am UTC

But you weren't there, TGB. Who is to say the laws of physics themselves haven't changed?
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