On whether things that exist

on fundamental matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and ethics.

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Re: On whether things that exist

#21  Postby Blackadder » Dec 17, 2020 6:26 pm

Hermit wrote:
Maybe the point is that sound , color, texture, etc. exist regardless of whether someone perceives it (or what model someone constructs from those perceptions). You'll have a difficult time arguing otherwise.


This I agree with, given that we are able to agree with brains other than our own what those perceptions are, and give them names and definitions, so as to be able to communicate about them to each other. This could only be possible if there is some objective reality, that is that natural things have certain properties, that we all perceive in the same way.

It's arse-backwards, IMO, to claim that these properties exist only because we are here to perceive them, as opposed to we perceive those properties only because they exist. Unless of course, you are a solipsist, or riding the woo-train bound for DeepakChopraLand.
That credulity should be gross in proportion to the ignorance of the mind that it enslaves, is in strict consistency with the principle of human nature. - Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Re: On whether things that exist

#22  Postby Spearthrower » Dec 17, 2020 7:17 pm

Just the age old inability to distinguish between map and terrain which apparently underinformed people find an absolutely compelling reason for telling themselves that the terrain is predicated on the map rather than... getting a clue.
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Re: On whether things that exist

#23  Postby BWE » Dec 18, 2020 10:52 pm

Before I begin, remember, this is purely for the fun of philosowanking on a topic that seems to me to be both relevant and irrelevant. Relevant because paradigms start with axiomatic assumptions that color all of our experience through metaphors (describing one phenomenon in terms of another). The classic known examples are that our metaphors seem to break down when applied to relativistic velocities, quantum interactions, and adaptive systems - all of which we still haven't really figured out how to accommodate. But the real issue is that before we knew those examples, we created a language to guide experience based on Newtonian mechanics (and before that on religious and other supernatural superstition). It turns out that Newtonian mechanics is an utterly provincial set of axioms to structure a model and fail us in the vast majority of the situations we now encounter. Complex adaptive systems cannot be engineered at all in the manner which our word "engineered" is used, and indeed ignorance of that point is a source of many of societies current dilemmas from global warming to homelessness to pandemic responses to the failures of globalism to produce the outcomes that economists assured the world would transpire. Discoveries in QM and GR have made it clear that the very large, the very fast, and the very small do not at all conform to our intuitive expectations and that our entire concept of causality is based on our particular ranges of experience in those three categories and that it is not the intrinsic thing we use it to mean. Time itself is a scale based phenomenon and very likely is an effect rather than a cause. In summary, the topic is relevant because our ideas which are based on axiomatic assumptions and grow through metaphor, inform our behaviors and we hold demonstrably wrong axiomatic assumptions in several key areas related to engineering and complexity.

It is irrelevant because life is lived and happiness is the fuzzy metric we have to measure its quality. Doing what works and using the metaphors at hand do not need to be decisive factors in the general quality of contentment.

Hermit wrote:
BWE wrote:
The_Piper wrote:There are still sound waves and visible light without life. It doesn't matter what it's called or how it's perceived, it exists whether there's anything around to name it or not.
"If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, does it still make a sound?" Answer: yes.
"What came first, the chicken or the egg?" Answer: the egg. :)

I am not sure i agree with the point you are making here, and beginning with the premise that this whole subject is mental masturbation of the philosowanking variety and that I'm totally comfortable with that, sound , color, texture, etc. really are subjective in the most literal meaning of the word. In a world where we name things and then make models of the things we name and then call those models reality, the point goes pretty deep and is not at all well explored.

Maybe the point is that sound , color, texture, etc. exist regardless of whether someone perceives it (or what model someone constructs from those perceptions). You'll have a difficult time arguing otherwise.


Well, as Cito pointed out, those words describe the experience of particular stimuli and not the stimuli themselves. Sound is what we call the interaction of our ears and a particular stimulus, etc. So, of course, to be aggravating to cito I feel the need to point out that our words that describe the sense data do not tell us about an external reality but rather an interface between our senses, brain, and stimuli. But sure, the stimuli do seem to be independent and as you said, 'exist regardless of whether they are perceived'.


As for our models representing objective reality, that is an idea few people who have done a modicum of epistemology hang on to. Our models just work. Recent models tend to work better than they superceded, but Chinese astronomers managed to predict solar eclipses at least as early as the one who lost his head because he failed to predict the one that occurred on Oct. 22, 2137 BCE. Predictions were possible despite the model of earth being a flat one and the sun being dragged across the firmament on a chariot. Nomads managed to navigate across featureless deserts by the stars despite the fact that their model was based on geocentrism. Our Newtonian conception of time and space works very well for us today despite the fact that the theory of relativity made a mockery of it.

Our Newtonian concepts of space and time have made us believe we can successfully engineer a complex adaptive system and are directly responsible for almost all of the existential threats which now face our species. So, on that point I disagree profoundly. I do agree that it's important to have Newtonian concepts involved in things like building bridges and etc. They do work to engineer structures and mechanical systems. But they also do not have the ability to incorporate feedback over time. They explicitly externalize feedback and make the word 'efficiency' seem like a positive goal. What that produces is systemic rigidity and leads to collapse.


In the end metaphysical musings about reality are barren, futile, irrelevant. What matters (<--- not a pun; just metaphorically speaking) is what works for us. I made a similar point here, but the solipsist who started this thread ignored it, and nobody else reacted to it either.

I agree that metaphysics is a pointless pursuit. The ultimate nature of reality is not only unavailable beyond just being what is, beliefs about ultimate nature are also springboards for rigid thinking. Those beliefs shut doors and start wars.

However, the nature of models is not a metaphysical question and we will be suffering from the long-term effects of the Newtonian paradigm for a long time. We cannot hold the silent spring at bay forever through technology.
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Re: On whether things that exist

#24  Postby Cito di Pense » Dec 19, 2020 5:34 am

There's a classic problem that illustrates the operation of a bakery. The bakery produces a line of products, each of which involves a recipe, and suppliers that produce the raw ingredients which are few in number, flour, eggs, sugar, chocolate, and so on. The bakery knows the supplier's unit prices for each ingredient and they know something about how much of each recipe they bake that people will buy with set prices for each item they bake. There's nothing explicitly quantum mechanical about figuring out how to use up all their raw ingredients to produce some optimal mix of baked goods relative to the prices they charge and what the market will bear, and they have some ability to adjust their calculations when the suppliers change their prices. However, this is a problem that most people don't have a clue how to solve. What they learn in school is how to solve an algebraic equation like 2x + 7 = 17 to get x via a series of algorithmic steps given them by their instructor. Most people who know how to solve the bakery problem will solve the latter equation by inspection rather than subtracting something from both sides and then dividing both sides by the appropriate factor.

Quantum mechanical and relativistic situations in an engineering context are worked out mathematically and nobody attempts to visualize what reality is actually "doing" any more than the baker attempts to visualize what her optimal order for raw ingredients and price list for her products is going to be. But when the bakery's problem is solved, everybody is is happy as they can be, and yet nobody sane is going to play games about whether the bakery operation is 'real' or not. By the same token, there's nothing real being imposed by somebody's vision of 'existential threats' unless that vision is recognized to be philosophical, and that the philosophy involved is humanism, which doesn't at all encroach on metaphysics. Existential threats, as they are known, do not involve metaphysics just because they incorporate the word 'existence'. No matter what attempts are made to clearly denote map and terrain, somebody invariable pops up and wants to talk about 'values', which are neither here nor there in terms of map and terrain. Talking about values involves knowing precisely fuck all more than anyone else does, which can't be said for linear optimization. Sooner or later, somebody like zoon will show up with the same old song and dance about social cooperation. Humanism for the win. My values tell me that humanism is pretty much what got us to this overfull planet beset by existential threats. So fuck humanism, for the win. It's just another religion, but since it doesn't explicitly do any 'god-bothering', almost nobody here is going to notice.

BWE does not know what he is trying to say, which is why what he says is so disjointed. I am willing to look at another attempt, but I'm not expecting miracles. I'm hoping for another leafy green word salad, but without quite so much Special Sauce on it. We are not in some kind of pickle because of some unbridgeable gap between the world as we experience it and the world as it really-o, truly-o IS. It's because of the unbridgeable gap between the world as it more or less is and the way we wish it was.

Frozenworld wrote:But then does it make it fair to say that there is no such thing as color or sound then?


Frozenworld wrote:Outside our heads there is no sound or color.


See? If there were no such thing, then FW would not be so pathetically ignorant of things. Some people experience existential threats and immediately move to deciding that idealism makes it all OK. No harm, no foul, but that just depends on a perspective where some things are OK, and others, not. It's not that everything is OK, but idealism, in the end, doesn't help anyone who has that problem. It's a psychotic retreat dressed up as metaphysics.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: On whether things that exist

#25  Postby Hermit » Dec 19, 2020 9:24 am

BWE wrote:
...metaphysics is a pointless pursuit.

...the nature of models is not a metaphysical question...

Yes and yes.
God is the mysterious veil under which we hide our ignorance of the cause. - Léo Errera


God created the universe
God just exists
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Re: On whether things that exist

#26  Postby Frozenworld » Jan 07, 2021 4:37 am

Hermit wrote:
BWE wrote:
...metaphysics is a pointless pursuit.

...the nature of models is not a metaphysical question...

Yes and yes.


I don't think so, especially when you factor in how our own awareness itself is a virtual reality:

https://www.quora.com/q/katinvkanaogevj ... e=e568c922

Or music being an illusion:

https://qr.ae/pNVEzQ

Or the illusion that we are a body:

https://www.quora.com/If-the-self-is-an ... Pete-Ashly
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