[Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

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[Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:25 am UTC

(For this thread, unicorns are the placeholder "nonexistent thing" for my examples.)

So, although Burden of Proof is empirical canon at this point, it still is a rather unsatisfactory response to a question as legitimate as any: the question that asks how, if you can't prove that unicorns don't exist, do you know they don't exist? The traditional answer is that you can't, and I think we can all agree on this; however, I wish to expand on that answer.

I find a fundamental difference between absolute reality, that which exists as an absolute, and relevant reality, which I will call relevance for this thread. Relevant reality is that which is, as the name suggests, relevant. The difference between the two is that absolute reality exists absolutely, regardless of whether we can know that a given object in absolute reality exists or not. Relevance is a subset of absolute reality; relevance is everything that can be observed (See farther down), and therefore still contains existing things, but does not contain the unobservable but existent things that could exist in absolute reality, such as unicorns. Therefore, unicorns could exist, but aren't relevant because they are unobservable.

This is my reasoning for Observation=Relevance:
Code: Select all
Relevance can be defined as when something has an effect on another thing, and therefore is relevant to the thing it is having an effect on.

For something to be said to have an effect on something else, we must be able to observe that effect.

We can only observe things by the effect they have on us, even so minimal as by the photons it emits for our eyes or the indirect ways our instruments detect them.

Therefore, all things that can be observed (directly or indirectly) have an effect.

Therefore, all things that have an effect on something are relevant to that thing by way of that effect.

Therefore, all things that have an effect on us are relevant to us.

Therefore, all things we can observe are relevant to us by way of their effect on us.

Therefore, anything we cannot observe is not relevant to us because it has no effect on us due to being unobservable.


So when Johnny says that you can't prove that unicorns don't exist, he's right; but you can prove that they're irrelevant by way of their lack of evidence.

Because of this, I think that the Burden of Proof is not so much a requirement of proving the existence of something in reality, as it has been used, but is rather a necessity of proving something's relevance. It's all semantics, but it's interesting, and it gives you a smart response next time Johnny says his unicorn (or god, as probability would have it) can't be proved nonexistent. It's even more devastating, in my opinion, to be able to logically prove such silliness irrelevant, which is much more biting in its own way that nonexistence.

Do you guys agree that observation=relevance and burden of proof is better suited for relevance than reality? Input is welcome.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:23 am UTC

Theological Non-cognitivism etc.

It's a pretty standard idea in philosophy that a statement which cannot be falsified or verified is a meaningless or logically incoherent. Metaphysics and Ontology are rejected by Logical Positivists.

Afterall, we could be in a BIV situation where everything we observe has no relation to 'Absolute Reality'... who cares though? That's a meaningless situation to discuss, regardless of whether we're in a BIV or not we're still experiencing the same 'Relevant Reality'.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Greyarcher » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:33 am UTC

I presume you apply this model of reality on an individual basis, meaning that individuals' relevant realities differ insofar as the effects that individuals can observe differ? For instance, I'm sure some people in isolated tribes will never observe the effects of many events in modern society; these events would therefore not be part of their relevant reality.

If that is so, I infer there are quite a number of things that are outside our relevant realities and in the realm of absolute reality then. And since we're not static, what exists in our relevant reality can change, yes?

If this is basically what you meant, I'm more or less inclined to agree. I mentally threw a couple scenarios at it, and sometimes the rebuttals and phrasings are a bit odd, but it basically works.

Also, random nitpicking:
Relevance is a subset of absolute reality; relevance is everything that can be observed (See farther down), and therefore still contains existing things, but does not contain the unobservable but existent things that could exist in absolute reality, such as unicorns
There's a bit of odd flipflop with "existent things that could exist". You mean "hypothetically existent things" or somesuch, yes? Since the stuff of absolute reality is hypothetical insofar as it's unobservable.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Whitebeard » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:41 am UTC

I think that the Burden of Proof is not so much a requirement of proving the existence of something in reality, as it has been used, but is rather a necessity of proving something's relevance.


If you can prove that something exists in reality, then you have proven that it is relevant.
If you can prove that something is relevant, then you have proven that it exists in reality.

I understand the difference in realities you describe, but the act of offering proof nullifies that difference. The Burden of Proof does not change it's meaning. However, if Johnny claims that unicorns exist the burden is on him. By saying "you can't prove that unicorns don't exist" he's begging the question, and that's a logical fallacy.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:57 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:
Also, random nitpicking:
Relevance is a subset of absolute reality; relevance is everything that can be observed (See farther down), and therefore still contains existing things, but does not contain the unobservable but existent things that could exist in absolute reality, such as unicorns
There's a bit of odd flipflop with "existent things that could exist". You mean "hypothetically existent things" or somesuch, yes? Since the stuff of absolute reality is hypothetical insofar as it's unobservable.


So absolute reality is only hypothetical while relevance is a subset of that?

If absolute reality turns out not to exist then both are in a bit of trouble!
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Greyarcher » Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:58 am UTC

G.v.K wrote:
Greyarcher wrote:Also, random nitpicking:
Relevance is a subset of absolute reality; relevance is everything that can be observed (See farther down), and therefore still contains existing things, but does not contain the unobservable but existent things that could exist in absolute reality, such as unicorns
There's a bit of odd flipflop with "existent things that could exist". You mean "hypothetically existent things" or somesuch, yes? Since the stuff of absolute reality is hypothetical insofar as it's unobservable.
So absolute reality is only hypothetical while relevance is a subset of that?

If absolute reality turns out not to exist then both are in a bit of trouble!
No no, the key part was the "unobservable but existent things" (i.e. those things that are within the realm of "absolute reality" but outside the subset of "relevant reality"). It's strange to talk about "unobservable but existent things that could exist"--if one calls it an existent thing, I imagine one would say it "does exist" rather than "could exist". That's what I was nitpicking at. And since we're talking about an unobservable thing, it seems natural to think that we'd consider it a merely hypothetical thing.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:03 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Theological Non-cognitivism etc.

It's a pretty standard idea in philosophy that a statement which cannot be falsified or verified is a meaningless or logically incoherent. Metaphysics and Ontology are rejected by Logical Positivists.

Afterall, we could be in a BIV situation where everything we observe has no relation to 'Absolute Reality'... who cares though? That's a meaningless situation to discuss, regardless of whether we're in a BIV or not we're still experiencing the same 'Relevant Reality'.

That's the point: you say it doesn't matter, which is correct, because unicorns are irrelevant. I'm not proposing that everything has no connection to absolute reality, only that it is impossible to prove that absolute reality doesn't hold unicorns in addition to, say, horses. I don't see horses themselves having a different form or nature in absolute reality. (Horses being the stand-in for observable things.)

Greyarcher wrote:I presume you apply this model of reality on an individual basis, meaning that individuals' relevant realities differ insofar as the effects that individuals can observe differ? For instance, I'm sure some people in isolated tribes will never observe the effects of many events in modern society; these events would therefore not be part of their relevant reality.

The tribe example is exactly one of the reasons I was thinking about this, after a distinctly silly person tried to argue that bush magic and voodoo were real as long as people perceived that they were. So yes, relevance really only comes down to what you can perceive personally, but we can also have cultural relevance where things can be relevant or irrelevant over a whole culture or species, such as all of humanity.

Bush magic and shamanism and such stuff would be an example of a relevant thing not existing in absolute reality; such magic doesn't even warrant being considered part of relevant reality, because it is only perceived as a result of incomplete reasoning and cognizance. But it is relevant for those individuals.

EDIT: So because they only are relevant by poor reasoning, they aren't in relevant reality. Relevant reality is a subset of absolute reality, but your personal relevance, including your mistakes of reasoning, may not be. Therefore, relevant reality could be considered everything that you can perceive or correctly as an absolute.

Here's a crappy chart where unicorns exist but are unobserved and magic doesn't exist but is believed in.
Spoiler:
_____________Absolute Reality_______________
|.......................................................|
|....................(Unicorns).......................|
|.......................................................|
|.......................................................|
|.......................................................|
|.......... ____Relevance _____...................|
|.........|.........................|..................|
|.........|.......Relevant........|..................|
|.........|....... Reality.........|...................|
|.........|......(Horses).........|...................|
|.........|.........................|...................|
|_______|_________________|______________|
...........|........................|
...........|.......Relevant.......|
...........|...Misconceptions...|
...........|......(Magic).........|
...........|_________________|

So by this, burden of proof only works for proving things to be inside or outside of the relevant reality box.

If that is so, I infer there are quite a number of things that are outside our relevant realities and in the realm of absolute reality then. And since we're not static, what exists in our relevant reality can change, yes?

Presumably, only changing to include more stuff, never less stuff, unless we personally dispel a myth or some such.

As an example, a space station being hit by an undetected meteor that has never been observed before would add more relevance to the reality perceived by everyone who sees the result. Or, more sarcastically, dying and finding out that the Greek pantheon actually exists very much adds to what your relevant reality is.

Also, random nitpicking:
Relevance is a subset of absolute reality; relevance is everything that can be observed (See farther down), and therefore still contains existing things, but does not contain the unobservable but existent things that could exist in absolute reality, such as unicorns
There's a bit of odd flipflop with "existent things that could exist". You mean "hypothetically existent things" or somesuch, yes? Since the stuff of absolute reality is hypothetical insofar as it's unobservable.

Yeah, hypothetically existent. That is poorly phrased.

G.v.K wrote:So absolute reality is only hypothetical while relevance is a subset of that?

If absolute reality turns out not to exist then both are in a bit of trouble!

Absolute reality exists unconditionally; it's only hypothetical things that could exist within absolute reality but not in relevant reality, such as unicorns, that may or may not exist.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:27 am UTC

Variance wrote:Absolute reality exists unconditionally;


Wow, that's the last thing I expected to hear!

I don't want to hijack the thread with stupid questions. Do you have a link to something which would summarise your terminology for me?
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:11 am UTC

"Absolute" Reality is the "Truth of things". For instance, we might be Brain in a Vat (BIV) and we would never be able to tell, ever. Thus the reality we experience is the "Relevant Reality" and the BIV is the "Absolute Reality" that we cannot tell anything about (but that exists and is "true"). This is why it was said that it exists unconditionally, ie. in the BIV instance... it is not dependant on the simulation. Regardless of what we're seeing in the simulation the BIV scenario is still a BIV.


It's for this 'unconditional' reason that 'Absolute Reality' is meaningless, what 'actually is' doesn't have any effect on how we experience 'Relevant' Reality (which I would just called 'Reality') so it's not meaningful to talk about.

Either Absolute Reality matches up with Relevant Reality or it doesn't, either way it does not matter... We still just only get the relevant bit.


Variance wrote:That's the point: you say it doesn't matter, which is correct, because unicorns are irrelevant. I'm not proposing that everything has no connection to absolute reality, only that it is impossible to prove that absolute reality doesn't hold unicorns in addition to, say, horses. I don't see horses themselves having a different form or nature in absolute reality. (Horses being the stand-in for observable things.)


Indeed, but from a philosophical standpoint it's tacit that burden of proof relates to that which we can meaningfully talk about... When someone says "There is an unobservable being outside the universe and you can't prove is not there" it's not even meaningful to apply a concept like Burden of Proof to the statement or the anti-statement. It just is not meaningful in any way.

Not that you actually can literally prove meaningful statements anyway, you can only really evidence it.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:50 am UTC

G.v.K wrote:
Variance wrote:Absolute reality exists unconditionally;


Wow, that's the last thing I expected to hear!

I don't want to hijack the thread with stupid questions. Do you have a link to something which would summarise your terminology for me?

What Gelsamel said, but I want to add that there are some things which undeniably do exist: our consciousness and that which we perceive in relevant reality: that is, given a Brain-in-a-Vat scenario where I think I'm observing horses but I'm not, the brain still exists, and some computing power, such as the vat itself, also exists to represent the horses. In such a case, we observe the horses, but their true form differs in absolute reality, because they're just so many more bytes in the simulated reality. They still exist, though.

As for a link, I can't think of anything, but any need for clarification is certainly on-topic. You probably know a good place that summarizes philosophical terminology as well as I do.

Indeed, but from a philosophical standpoint it's tacit that burden of proof relates to that which we can meaningfully talk about... When someone says "There is an unobservable being outside the universe and you can't prove is not there" it's not even meaningful to apply a concept like Burden of Proof to the statement or the anti-statement. It just is not meaningful in any way.

Not that you actually can literally prove meaningful statements anyway, you can only really evidence it.

And here things converge, because your definition of things that are meaningful and my idea of things that are relevant are one and the same, as I think you intended. I know this is all semantics and is assumed whenever using BoP, but I'm just exploring the nature of Burden of Proof here.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:12 am UTC

given what's been said, I understand Absolute Reality to be meaningless. it has nothing to do with time, space, matter, form etc etc.

to actually give it a name and use it in a sentence seems to be already a step too far.

humans are very good at giving 'structure' to meaning. I believe in cognitive science and linguistics they call it 'emergent meaning'. metaphor, analogy and the like are included in this.

BIV is a metaphor. when we read about it we 'construct' it as an entity with form and structure which exists in space and time. but we have already said that Absolute Reality is meaningless.

therefore, aren't BIV and Absolute Reality inherently meaningless and actually misleading? these words gives semantic form to that which we have already said is meaningless.

or am I misunderstanding?
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Entropy » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:36 am UTC

G.v.K wrote:given what's been said, I understand Absolute Reality to be meaningless. it has nothing to do with time, space, matter, form etc etc.

to actually give it a name and use it in a sentence seems to be already a step too far.

humans are very good at giving 'structure' to meaning. I believe in cognitive science and linguistics they call it 'emergent meaning'. metaphor, analogy and the like are included in this.

BIV is a metaphor. when we read about it we 'construct' it as an entity with form and structure which exists in space and time. but we have already said that Absolute Reality is meaningless.

therefore, aren't BIV and Absolute Reality inherently meaningless and actually misleading? these words gives semantic form to that which we have already said is meaningless.

or am I misunderstanding?


Something can be itself meaningless, while the idea of that thing is not. Ideas of meaningless things influence people (and hence our observable reality) all the time. Hence, while the specific nature of 'absolute reality' is meaningless, being able to refer to it conceptually is not.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:43 am UTC

Although it really shouldn't be, in the sense that everyone -should- realise that these things are meaningless and avoid being influenced by them.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:13 am UTC

Entropy wrote:
G.v.K wrote:given what's been said, I understand Absolute Reality to be meaningless. it has nothing to do with time, space, matter, form etc etc.

to actually give it a name and use it in a sentence seems to be already a step too far.

humans are very good at giving 'structure' to meaning. I believe in cognitive science and linguistics they call it 'emergent meaning'. metaphor, analogy and the like are included in this.

BIV is a metaphor. when we read about it we 'construct' it as an entity with form and structure which exists in space and time. but we have already said that Absolute Reality is meaningless.

therefore, aren't BIV and Absolute Reality inherently meaningless and actually misleading? these words gives semantic form to that which we have already said is meaningless.

or am I misunderstanding?


Something can be itself meaningless, while the idea of that thing is not. Ideas of meaningless things influence people (and hence our observable reality) all the time. Hence, while the specific nature of 'absolute reality' is meaningless, being able to refer to it conceptually is not.


I would put it a different way. I think ideas are inherently meaningful, but some ideas are not observable or testable. Both 'unicorn' and eg. 'horses' have meaning but one is observable and the other not.

we have defined Absolute Reality as that which does not even have meaning, by definition. it seems a contradiction in terms to me. it is an idea which is not really an idea. if it was an idea, it would have meaning.

of course, we give it meaning. BIV is a way to give it meaning. but in giving it meaning, we have already gone to far because it is precisely meaningless.

I would have thought any argumentation based on Absolute Reality is therefore bad argumentation. it can only be misleading.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:39 pm UTC

G.v.K wrote:I would put it a different way. I think ideas are inherently meaningful, but some ideas are not observable or testable. Both 'unicorn' and eg. 'horses' have meaning but one is observable and the other not.

we have defined Absolute Reality as that which does not even have meaning, by definition. it seems a contradiction in terms to me. it is an idea which is not really an idea. if it was an idea, it would have meaning.

of course, we give it meaning. BIV is a way to give it meaning. but in giving it meaning, we have already gone to far because it is precisely meaningless.

I would have thought any argumentation based on Absolute Reality is therefore bad argumentation. it can only be misleading.

Absolute reality has not been defined to have no definition, only to be unobservable. It is purely abstract, but neither that nor the irrelevance of it, being unobservable, reduce its meaning. As the users of the concept, we give it meaning, and in this case, it encompasses a range of existences which can either be concrete or hypothetical; either way, absolute reality is defined as that which exists in truth, that which exists absolutely, for lack of a better word.

Even though the concept is hypothetical, that doesn't make it illegitimate and false argument, only semantic: and, as I've noted above, this argument is very much a semantic one, as well as a totally abstract one.

I also should clarify that I see no reason that any unobservable objects do exist in absolute reality. Unicorns, beyond having no proof, have no reason to exist, no matter what religion you ascribe to or lack thereof. My original argument was more about the nature of Burden of Proof than anything being able to exist in absolute reality and not relevance.

EDIT: Entropy hit it home, but, Gvk, I think you're overreaching to say that absolute reality is an idea that is not an idea. You seem to be assuming that it does not exist, or is irrelevant itself, neither of which is the case. We observe that absolute reality exists by the presence of consciousness, an absolute, through Cogito Ergo Sum, and because we therefore observe absolute reality, it is relevant.

Not to say that absolute reality doesn't contain hypothetical and unobservable artifacts, nor to say that it isn't all semantics, but we can objectively prove that absolute reality itself is existent and relevant by the definition we provide for it: that which exists in absolute reality.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:05 am UTC

Variance wrote:As the users of the concept, we give it meaning, and in this case, it encompasses a range of existences which can either be concrete or hypothetical;


Entropy said that Absolute Reality was meaningless. You seem to be saying that it can mean anything. You can probably understand why I am confused.

Could somebody explain to me the difference between a 'meaningful thing' and a 'meaningless thing'?

Variance wrote:
We observe that absolute reality exists by the presence of consciousness, an absolute, through Cogito Ergo Sum, and because we therefore observe absolute reality, it is relevant.



Cogito ergo Sum proves only that I exist, whether anything else exists is totally reliant on God (within Descates' thought).

Variance wrote:
but we can objectively prove that absolute reality itself is existent and relevant by the definition we provide for it: that which exists in absolute reality.


first you said that Cogito Ergo Sum implied the existence of Absolute Reality. now you say we 'prove' it by giving it a definition? once again, you seem to be saying that Absolute Reality can mean anything you want it to mean. the spaghetti monster comes to mind.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:38 am UTC

G.v.K wrote:
Variance wrote:As the users of the concept, we give it meaning, and in this case, it encompasses a range of existences which can either be concrete or hypothetical;


Entropy said that Absolute Reality was meaningless. You seem to be saying that it can mean anything. You can probably understand why I am confused.

Could somebody explain to me the difference between a 'meaningful thing' and a 'meaningless thing'?

Although Entropy did say that, I don't think he meant to imply that Absolute Reality has no definition, but that it is just irrelevant. Absolute reality has a definition and a meaning as a concept, which I take Entropy did not mean to dispute. He was simply reiterating that it was irrelevant.

So, and Entropy can correct me if he did indeed mean otherwise, take Meaningful to be Relevant and Meaningless to be Irrelevant. These describe the value, not the nature of the concept of Absolute reality.
Variance wrote: We observe that absolute reality exists by the presence of consciousness, an absolute, through Cogito Ergo Sum, and because we therefore observe absolute reality, it is relevant.

Cogito ergo Sum proves only that I exist, whether anything else exists is totally reliant on God (within Descates' thought).

Be that as it may, we still observe that something (at least our consciousnesses, and as I argued before, some medium for that which we observe existing) exists absolutely by cogito ergo sum. This alone proves that something exists absolutely, thereby establishing the Absolute Reality category and establishing that absolute reality must exist on some level.

Variance wrote: but we can objectively prove that absolute reality itself is existent and relevant by the definition we provide for it: that which exists in absolute reality.

first you said that Cogito Ergo Sum implied the existence of Absolute Reality. now you say we 'prove' it by giving it a definition? once again, you seem to be saying that Absolute Reality can mean anything you want it to mean. the spaghetti monster comes to mind.

This is a little loss in translation here, as I was switching language to logical proof format without noting it, and I phrased it poorly anyway. To say what I put above more clearly, since we observe that there are things that exist in absolute reality, it is proved to exist. As a concept, we can define it arbitrarily, but when we observe a fulfillment of the concept, in this case the absolute existence in reality of consciousness by cogito ergo sum, it becomes true.

I had not defined absolute reality arbitrarily, though; I defined it based on an observation, defining a plane of existence on which certain things were already observed to exist. Because of that, we can instantly prove that it is true by the truth of cogito ergo sum.

Expanded:
Code: Select all
[Cogito Ergo Sum]
Therefore, my consciousness exists as an absolute
Therefore, something exists as an absolute
Therefore, it is possible and true that things can and do exist as absolutes
Let Absolute Reality be defined as that which exists absolutely (Note: Therefore absolute reality has a definition, and hence meaning as a concept)
Therefore, there are things that exist in Absolute Reality by def. Absolute Reality
Therefore, Absolute Reality exists (Note: Expanded, therefore things that exist absolutely exist)

As shown above in the code box in proof format, Absolute Reality exists by its own definition, defined by us ("Let"), being that its definition is fulfilled at least by cogito ergo sum. That's what I mean when I say "Absolute reality exists by def. absolute reality": The omitted part impled by the "therefore" is that this is using the previous statement "it is possible and true that things can and do exist as absolutes" to prove that absolute reality exists, in that the evidence conforms to the definition, which is the meaning of truth in this context.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:00 am UTC

Variance wrote:
I had not defined absolute reality arbitrarily, though; I defined it based on an observation, defining a plane of existence on which certain things were already observed to exist. Because of that, we can instantly prove that it is true by the truth of cogito ergo sum.



well, this is interesting. thanks for the reply. i think we are coming from different traditions. logic was never my strong point!

i wanted to pick you up on the point above. You say you have defined a 'plane of existence' which is based on observation. i'm not sure you can make this point.

how do you get from your 'observation' of consciousness to the 'absoluteness' of consciousness?

assuming consciousness is absolute (which I don't see myself but I would be interested to hear what you think) - how do you further get to a 'plane of existence' which is Absolute? I'm assuming you mean that Absolute Reality is something separate from consciousness?
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:53 pm UTC

G.v.K wrote:
Variance wrote:
I had not defined absolute reality arbitrarily, though; I defined it based on an observation, defining a plane of existence on which certain things were already observed to exist. Because of that, we can instantly prove that it is true by the truth of cogito ergo sum.


i wanted to pick you up on the point above. You say you have defined a 'plane of existence' which is based on observation. i'm not sure you can make this point.

how do you get from your 'observation' of consciousness to the 'absoluteness' of consciousness?

assuming consciousness is absolute (which I don't see myself but I would be interested to hear what you think) - how do you further get to a 'plane of existence' which is Absolute? I'm assuming you mean that Absolute Reality is something separate from consciousness?

"Plane of existence" doesn't describe some layered theory of multiverses, it was more just a metaphor in this for a way something can exist: it can exist absolutely, which is therefore a type of existence. It was a bit misleading.

As for how consciousness can be an absolute, Cogito Ergo Sum itself defines consciousness as an absolute. "I think therefore I am" doesn't mean that it appears that I am, it means that I actually am; consciousness is observed to be something which exists unconditionally (because in a universe where there can be an answer to your question "does consciousness exist?", consciousness must exist to answer the question, therefore the only possible answer is yes), and by the definition of that which exists unconditionally is absolute, consciousness is absolute.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:26 am UTC

Variance wrote:
G.v.K wrote:
Variance wrote:
I had not defined absolute reality arbitrarily, though; I defined it based on an observation, defining a plane of existence on which certain things were already observed to exist. Because of that, we can instantly prove that it is true by the truth of cogito ergo sum.


i wanted to pick you up on the point above. You say you have defined a 'plane of existence' which is based on observation. i'm not sure you can make this point.

how do you get from your 'observation' of consciousness to the 'absoluteness' of consciousness?

assuming consciousness is absolute (which I don't see myself but I would be interested to hear what you think) - how do you further get to a 'plane of existence' which is Absolute? I'm assuming you mean that Absolute Reality is something separate from consciousness?

"Plane of existence" doesn't describe some layered theory of multiverses, it was more just a metaphor in this for a way something can exist: it can exist absolutely, which is therefore a type of existence. It was a bit misleading.

As for how consciousness can be an absolute, Cogito Ergo Sum itself defines consciousness as an absolute. "I think therefore I am" doesn't mean that it appears that I am, it means that I actually am; consciousness is observed to be something which exists unconditionally (because in a universe where there can be an answer to your question "does consciousness exist?", consciousness must exist to answer the question, therefore the only possible answer is yes), and by the definition of that which exists unconditionally is absolute, consciousness is absolute.


i still feel like I'm one assumption away from understanding you properly.

you keep making refernce to 'observation' and 'observing' consciousness. i am aware of the times when i was not conscious or my consciousness was somehow reduced (eg. sleep, influence of drugs and alcohol, extreme tiredness etc.) and yet I still went on existing somehow. in these cases, i do not observe my consciousness or at least not clearly. it therefore seems weird to give primacy to consciousness and to call it Absolute. rather it seems to more epiphenomenal.

what do you think?
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:39 am UTC

G.v.K wrote:i still feel like I'm one assumption away from understanding you properly.

you keep making refernce to 'observation' and 'observing' consciousness. i am aware of the times when i was not conscious or my consciousness was somehow reduced (eg. sleep, influence of drugs and alcohol, extreme tiredness etc.) and yet I still went on existing somehow. in these cases, i do not observe my consciousness or at least not clearly. it therefore seems weird to give primacy to consciousness and to call it Absolute. rather it seems to more epiphenomenal.

what do you think?

You don't need to observe anything for it to exist in absolute reality, just relevant reality. Your experience is evidence for reality not existing just in your mind, but beyond that, as an absolute.

Because everything hasn't disappeared when you go to sleep and wake up again, we observe that your attention is not required for the atoms of the world to go along their paths. But even beyond that, even if reality exists in your mind, everything you observe must have some basis. Let's say you were holding an apple; if, in reality, you were just a computer or brain-in-a-vat thinking you were holding the apple, the apple would still have some nature, even if it were just electrons traveling along circuits, or even something similar. That just illustrates that while you may not observe the true nature of things, which we can never find with any proof, you can observe that something absolutely exists, even if you don't know how, why, or with what nature it exists.

So when I say I exist through cogito ergo sum, I'm not making any claims beyond that; I'm not saying "I am a human" or "I have a purpose"; I'm simply saying that I exist and that is an absolute, regardless of how, why, where or when I exist. If I observe myself to exist, that transcends relevance to be an absolute because there is no way I can not exist.

Your confusion with consciousness as I've been using it may be because I'm using it interchangeably with existence, but in cogito ergo sum, they really mean the same thing: "my consciousness exists." You may not observe consciousnesses, but whenever you do, you establish the absolute. Similarly, we don't need to be constantly conducting the same experiment to use its result.

It may be weird, but logic demands it.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:38 am UTC

Variance wrote:
G.v.K wrote:i still feel like I'm one assumption away from understanding you properly.

you keep making refernce to 'observation' and 'observing' consciousness. i am aware of the times when i was not conscious or my consciousness was somehow reduced (eg. sleep, influence of drugs and alcohol, extreme tiredness etc.) and yet I still went on existing somehow. in these cases, i do not observe my consciousness or at least not clearly. it therefore seems weird to give primacy to consciousness and to call it Absolute. rather it seems to more epiphenomenal.

what do you think?

You don't need to observe anything for it to exist in absolute reality, just relevant reality. Your experience is evidence for reality not existing just in your mind, but beyond that, as an absolute.

Because everything hasn't disappeared when you go to sleep and wake up again, we observe that your attention is not required for the atoms of the world to go along their paths. But even beyond that, even if reality exists in your mind, everything you observe must have some basis. Let's say you were holding an apple; if, in reality, you were just a computer or brain-in-a-vat thinking you were holding the apple, the apple would still have some nature, even if it were just electrons traveling along circuits, or even something similar. That just illustrates that while you may not observe the true nature of things, which we can never find with any proof, you can observe that something absolutely exists, even if you don't know how, why, or with what nature it exists.

So when I say I exist through cogito ergo sum, I'm not making any claims beyond that; I'm not saying "I am a human" or "I have a purpose"; I'm simply saying that I exist and that is an absolute, regardless of how, why, where or when I exist. If I observe myself to exist, that transcends relevance to be an absolute because there is no way I can not exist.

Your confusion with consciousness as I've been using it may be because I'm using it interchangeably with existence, but in cogito ergo sum, they really mean the same thing: "my consciousness exists." You may not observe consciousnesses, but whenever you do, you establish the absolute. Similarly, we don't need to be constantly conducting the same experiment to use its result.

It may be weird, but logic demands it.


i'm afraid i still don't see the logic. can we have one more try?

i believe we are trying to establish an axiom - consciousness exists absolutely.

we are following descartes. he tried to call everything into doubt (even logic), before he started looking for certainty or what we might be calling the Absolute. the whole point was to bring anything to consciousness and see if it could be doubted.

he concluded that he could not doubt that he was conscious. this is obvious because doubting is an activity which already requires consciousness. one cannot doubt without being conscious.

but that does not prove anything about existence.

to me, the cogito contains a fundamental flaw in that it presupposes that consciousness can and must establish existence. but surely we already exist before we are conscious? surely descartes himself had existed for years prior to his meditations. it seems he gave a primacy to consciousness which was not warranted.

thus I am sayign that consciousness is not the same thing as existence. my 'observation' is that I existed prior to consciousness.

anyway, this is well off topic and I'm not sure we're are making headway. but if you feel you can clarify any further, please do.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:09 am UTC

Cogito has a myriad of objections...

The only thing you can really get from Cogito is that existence is presupposed... not that thinking proves existence a la Kierkegaard.

So, to relate this back to the discussion... Absolute Reality is assumed to exist, we don't know it does via some external observation because we have no way of telling what exactly is a subset of absolute reality and not relevant reality. For this reason the absolute is meaningless and incoherent from any meta-physical non-cognitivist point of view.

A quote from wiki explains this well:
Another way of expressing theological noncognitivism is, for any sentence S, S is cognitively meaningless if and only if S expresses an unthinkable proposition or S does not express a proposition. The sentence X is a four-sided triangle that exists outside of space and time, cannot be seen or measured and it actively hates blue spheres is an example of an unthinkable proposition. Although the sentence expresses an idea, that idea is incoherent and so cannot be entertained in thought. It is unthinkable and unverifiable. Similarly, Y is what it is does not express a meaningful proposition except in a familiar conversational context. In this sense to claim to believe in X or Y is a meaningless assertion in the same way as I believe that colorless green ideas sleep furiously is grammatically correct but without meaning.


One of the following cases are true:
Either the property of being absolutely real (A) is measurable and thus Absolute Reality is Relevant Reality (ie. what we see and measure is the absolute).
Or
A is unmeasurable and thus Relevant Reality is the only thing we can see or measure.

In either case the concept of Absolute Reality is meaningless... because in the first situation it is indistinguishable from Relevant Reality and in the second it's... well lets put it this way... "irrelevant" (ie. meaningless...). Although in the 2nd case it's additionally incoherent, as it's unthinkable and unverifiable.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby G.v.K » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:20 am UTC

so the upshot is that we just assume Absolute Reality even though we have good reasons not to?
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:26 am UTC

G.v.K wrote:so the upshot is that we just assume Absolute Reality even though we have good reasons not to?


I don't think there are good reasons not to, just that the idea of Absolute Reality doesn't make sense (as highlighted by those two cases presented in my last post).
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Variance » Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:25 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Cogito has a myriad of objections...

The only thing you can really get from Cogito is that existence is presupposed... not that thinking proves existence a la Kierkegaard.

So, to relate this back to the discussion... Absolute Reality is assumed to exist, we don't know it does via some external observation because we have no way of telling what exactly is a subset of absolute reality and not relevant reality. For this reason the absolute is meaningless and incoherent from any meta-physical non-cognitivist point of view.

A quote from wiki explains this well:
Another way of expressing theological noncognitivism is, for any sentence S, S is cognitively meaningless if and only if S expresses an unthinkable proposition or S does not express a proposition. The sentence X is a four-sided triangle that exists outside of space and time, cannot be seen or measured and it actively hates blue spheres is an example of an unthinkable proposition. Although the sentence expresses an idea, that idea is incoherent and so cannot be entertained in thought. It is unthinkable and unverifiable. Similarly, Y is what it is does not express a meaningful proposition except in a familiar conversational context. In this sense to claim to believe in X or Y is a meaningless assertion in the same way as I believe that colorless green ideas sleep furiously is grammatically correct but without meaning.


One of the following cases are true:
Either the property of being absolutely real (A) is measurable and thus Absolute Reality is Relevant Reality (ie. what we see and measure is the absolute).
Or
A is unmeasurable and thus Relevant Reality is the only thing we can see or measure.

In either case the concept of Absolute Reality is meaningless... because in the first situation it is indistinguishable from Relevant Reality and in the second it's... well lets put it this way... "irrelevant" (ie. meaningless...). Although in the 2nd case it's additionally incoherent, as it's unthinkable and unverifiable.

I think you're seeing something different in this than I am. Absolute reality is defined as that which exists absolutely; relevant reality is that which can be measured. As I've pointed out earlier in the thread, they can overlap, even entirely, so absolute reality would indeed be irrelevant, but we cannot prove that there are not artifacts like unicorns in absolute reality. Really, it's just clarifying what Burden of proof means: you prove something to exist in relevant reality, but the nature you observe cannot be proven to be the absolute reality of the thing.

So when someone says "unicorns exist and you can't prove me wrong", we usually use burden of proof: what I'm saying is that that doesn't technically work, but what is the case is that unicorns are irrelevant.
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Re: [Philosophy] Reality vs. Relevance

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:31 am UTC

That's pretty much tacit and something that's described by falsifiability.
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