/ Women can't be Bishops - part 3 (coel's existential crisis)

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Jimbo W on 03 Dec 2012
Established so far:
1) Women should be bishops and the CoE are mad / undemocratic / it'll happen sooner or later. The news is greated with gladness by Coel, who thinks the church have undermined themselves again... ...which is unfortunately true.

Moving on from that rather easy to resolve issue, we have also established that:
2) Coel defines existence in a circular way, with reference to existence or existing things, whether intuited or not. In contrast, I deny the possibility of defining existence because of its nature as a primary intuited truth that all have some appreciation of
3) The question is still open as to whether reality is layered, and what the means if it is (hopefully Tim and Gordon will be able to help us at somepoint here)
4) Are all things that exist necessarily physical, and if so, do these things only need to be in potential causal chains A-Z, even A cannot cause Z due to, for example, relativity, and the universa's expansion etc

There is more discussion to be had here, so here are the old threads:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=528871
and
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=528121

Please have a quick skim and give us your thoughts....
Sir Chasm - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: Tim stated that "the physical is what physics is about. Which is why there's loads and loads that is non-physical. Chemistry for a start". But I'm waiting for clarification before I egregiously misinterpret that.
Coel Hellier - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to the thread:

Excellent! -- I don't think we've ever got as far as *two* auto-archivings!

In reply to John Gillott:

> OK, can I take that reply as an acceptance that most physicists are like most people in having the
> same idea of causation as me? So we don't need your particular definition of causality ...

My idea of causation is identical to that of most physicists and indeed identical to yours! That is why I am *NOT* arguing for causative link between here and beyond the observable horizon, I am positing **chains** **of** causal links! I don't see how I can state that any more clearly.

> to emphasise your particular notion of causal chains rather than another one, which I claim (feel free
> to challenge) is held by most people and most physicists - something along which influence can run
> from one end to the other?

I would think that most physicists would entirely accept my statement about *chains* *of* causal links stretching beyond the observable horizon. Surely that idea is entirely standard?

> If someone handed me a physical chain that was broken in one or many places I would say that
> they had handed me either a broken chain or separate chains.

Sure, and the chain of causal links to beyond the observable horizon is *not* broken! It is continuous.

> A is causally connected to Z by Coel's definition. It is not by mine.

WRONG WRONG WRONG. Under my definition A is NOT causally connected to Z. Instead A is causally connected to B which is causally connected to C which ... ... ... is causally connected to Z.

Coel Hellier - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> we have also established that:
> 2) Coel defines existence in a circular way, with reference to existence or existing things

Jimbo is wrong. That has not been established. Jimbo just thinks that if he repeats the claim lots of times then it will become true.
MG - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: From the other thread "You're missing the point and resorting to "made ofs". I don't necessarily dispute the "made ofs", but the question is, how can we show that basic physics explains these higher phenomena. Your example of genes is not sufficient because it derives a theory that finds its match in a phenomenon at the biological level. How does chemistry give rise to life, how is the entropy involved in a chemical reaction explained at the particle physical level. How can we formalise syntactically, mathematically or theoretically what you assume as the seamless continuity of knowledge? "

To repeat, where do you think the gap is. My understanding (I am not a scientist) is that the genes dictate physiology and behaviour by fairly well understood mean. Similarly for other effects between atoms and chemicals etc. In what way are things not explained? Where would you introduce new laws to explain things?
cb294 - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

Cool, I was waiting for this. Have there been previous instances of double autoarchiving? I am not aware of that happening to nay thread in my time of lurking/posting.

Most other ultra long threads went out of hand at some time and were pulled.

CB
John Gillott - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

OK, yes, I phrased that last bit poorly. This is your definition:

'There is a chain of causal connections connecting them to us. Very distant bit A is causally connect to slightly-nearer bit B which is causally connected to .... us at Z. The limitation here is the finite speed of light/communication which limits the speed at which causes can travel along that chain of causal links. But, there is still a chain of causal links, and thus the distant regions "exist" under my definition.'

Now, would most physicists think that it was useful to say that something was 'connecting' A to Z when there is no way that an influence of any kind could pass back and forth? Beyond your definition, how is A connected to Z any more than causally disconnected multiverses are connected? You avoid the 'horrible' conclusion your way, but isn't this the tail wagging the dog, or perhaps a dog chasing its own tail, to pursue the point about circularity?
Coel Hellier - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> Now, would most physicists think that it was useful to say that something was 'connecting' A to Z when
> there is no way that an influence of any kind could pass back and forth?

Why yes, they would. Most physicists are quite happy with the concept of a uniform universe that is just "more of the same" that goes beyond the observable horizon. The observable horizon is not any physical change, it is just a function of the finite speed of light.

> Beyond your definition, how is A connected to Z any more than causally disconnected multiverses are connected?

What do you mean "beyond my definition"? My definition encapsulates the way in which causally disconnected multiverses are more disconnected.

> You avoid the 'horrible' conclusion your way ...

Well, most physicists would indeed agree that what is beyond the observable horizon "exists". There's nothing abnormal about my stance on that.

> ... but isn't this the tail wagging the dog, or perhaps a dog chasing its own tail, to pursue
> the point about circularity?

Once again the accusation of circularity. <yawn> Once again nothing to actually show that anything is circular. <boring> What is the "tail" analogous to? What is the "dog" analogous to? If you want to claim that my definition is circular, please can you spell it out entirely explicitly? I really, really do not get it.
loopyone on 03 Dec 2012 - host217-43-180-202.range217-43.btcentralplus.com
In reply to Jimbo W:
> Established so far:
> 1) Women should be bishops and the CoE are mad / undemocratic / it'll happen sooner or later. The news is greated with gladness by Coel, who thinks the church have undermined themselves again... ...which is unfortunately true.


Certain areas of the C of E think this is the case. Some areas of the C of E and lot's of christians in other denominations are rather pleased that biblical principal is being upheld by the C of E for once.
John Gillott - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)

> [...]
>
> Why yes, they would. Most physicists are quite happy with the concept of a uniform universe that is just "more of the same" that goes beyond the observable horizon. The observable horizon is not any physical change, it is just a function of the finite speed of light.

I'm happy with more of the same (though I have no proof). I'm happy therefore with the idea that there is more, possibly an infinite amount more, beyond the observable universe.

However, I don't need a definition to arrive at this point of view, a definition moreover which seems to make it inevitable, which defines it as 'existing'.
>
> What do you mean "beyond my definition"? My definition encapsulates the way in which causally disconnected multiverses are more disconnected.
>

Your definition makes things black and white: our universe exists beyond the observable universe and is more of the same in those areas. Disconnected multiverses don't 'exist'.
>
> Well, most physicists would indeed agree that what is beyond the observable horizon "exists". There's nothing abnormal about my stance on that.
>

There is nothing abnormal about thinking the universe exists beyond the observable horizon. There might be something abnormal about the way you arrive at that view, via a definition of what 'exists'. That is my point / claim. It seems I just cannot get this across to you. Perhaps it is my failure not yours.

>
> Once again the accusation of circularity. <yawn> Once again nothing to actually show that anything is circular. <boring> What is the "tail" analogous to? What is the "dog" analogous to? If you want to claim that my definition is circular, please can you spell it out entirely explicitly? I really, really do not get it.

Coel Hellier - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> However, I don't need a definition to arrive at this point of view, a definition moreover which
> seems to make it inevitable, which defines it as 'existing'.

I'm not defining it as "existing"! All I'm doing is specifying what properties something would need for me to include it in the category "exists". That does not mean that anything *does* have those properties! As I've said several times, changing a word's definition does not change reality! It may be that the more-of-the-same idea is wrong. Nothing about my definition makes it more likely to be right!

> Your definition makes things black and white: our universe exists beyond the observable universe
> and is more of the same in those areas.

No!!! My definition does not make those things be the case! Whether it is or not "more of the same" is not affected by how I define words. The idea that there is "more of the same" does not follow from my definition, it follows from the principle of parsimony.

You and Tim are continually getting confused between (1) the definition of a word and (2) how reality is; and also between (a) my definition of "exists", and (b) your intuitive understanding of what "exists".

> Disconnected multiverses don't 'exist'.

Correct, because they don't have a property necessary to qualify for "existing". This really is no big deal. It's like defining "fish" in such a way that a dolphin is not a "fish". That doesn't stop a dolphin being whatever a dolphin is.

> There is nothing abnormal about thinking the universe exists beyond the observable horizon.

Good!

> There might be something abnormal about the way you arrive at that view, via a definition of what 'exists'.

I don't arrive at it from that definition! I arrive at it from the principle of parsimony, like every cosmologist does. What I'm then saying is: given that we all think that it is (as far as we can tell) more-of-the-same, does it then qualify as "existing".
Jimbo W on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> You and Tim are continually getting confused between (1) the definition of a word and (2) how reality is; and also between (a) my definition of "exists", and (b) your intuitive understanding of what "exists".

Why precisely do you use the word "exist"? Rather than make up a new word like, "coelitis"? I would suggest that you use the word "exist", because there is an inherent understanding, and point of reference for your definition of "exist". Also, I would suggest that "existence", even though it is not definable, as a primary semantic truth is one which has a fundamental and absolute grounding in the subjective, and its inhering with reality. Can you try and think of any way in which your argument can be seen to circular, because it seems pretty obvious to a few of us.
Jimbo W on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to tatty112:

> Certain areas of the C of E think this is the case. Some areas of the C of E and lot's of christians in other denominations are rather pleased that biblical principal is being upheld by the C of E for once.

The bible doesn't have principles of that kind; these are the prejudices of those of a more conservative fundamentalist bent. Or perhaps we should celebrate David and Jonathan's homosexuality. I'd certainly go with that!
Sir Chasm - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: The Dimblebys? Are you sure?
Jimbo W on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> The Dimblebys? Are you sure?

Nah, those ones have always seemed pretty asexual, though they seem to have managed to reproduce, so I guess there must have been a few women in their somewhere.
Coel Hellier - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Why precisely do you use the word "exist"? Rather than make up a new word like, "coelitis"?

Because "exists" is an ill-defined concept, and I am trying to refine it.

> Also, I would suggest that "existence", even though it is not definable, as a primary semantic truth is
> one which has a fundamental and absolute grounding in the subjective, and its inhering with reality.

I don't know what that means.

> Can you try and think of any way in which your argument can be seen to circular, because it seems
> pretty obvious to a few of us.

Sure, if you kept confusing my definition of "exists" with an intuitive definition, and came up with a muddled argument that flipped from one to the other, then you might think that my definition is "circular". But it isn't.
Jimbo W on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Because "exists" is an ill-defined concept, and I am trying to refine it.

No, you are inventing a new word. What primary relationship does it have to the word "existence", and what is the specific primary understanding you have of the word "existence" that makes you think it is "ill-defined" and in need of a new definition. Before you start on this re-definition of the word, what do you understand by the term "existence". How have you removed any implicit referential nature of what you previously understood by the term "existence", or removed the sense which you intrinsically know what it feels like to "exist", because without having do so, and without making recourse in your nouveau definition to things presumed "existent", like your senses, you cannot get away from your definition being highly circular.
Jimbo W on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:
> > (In reply to Jimbo W) From the other thread "You're missing the point and resorting to "made ofs". I don't necessarily dispute the "made ofs", but the question is, how can we show that basic physics explains these higher phenomena. Your example of genes is not sufficient because it derives a theory that finds its match in a phenomenon at the biological level. How does chemistry give rise to life, how is the entropy involved in a chemical reaction explained at the particle physical level. How can we formalise syntactically, mathematically or theoretically what you assume as the seamless continuity of knowledge? "

> To repeat, where do you think the gap is. My understanding (I am not a scientist) is that the genes dictate physiology and behaviour by fairly well understood mean. Similarly for other effects between atoms and chemicals etc. In what way are things not explained? Where would you introduce new laws to explain things?

Well yes, and as christian said, you can see very specific defects when you knock out one gene. Though what he didn't say was that the effect of such a knockout can be very pleiotropic, influencing the expression or repression of numerous other genes. The many in, many out way of thinking is appropriate here. One phenotype is effected by numerous genes, and one gene can effect numerous phenotypes directly or indirectly. Many genes can have highly complex unresolvable non-computable phenotypic effects when looked at in groups. Worse, 70% of these genes are expected to be spliced differently, that is to say there is more than one version of a gene with more than one action that a gene can have dependent upon the specific splice variant expressed. Some of these can have directly opposite effects, and sometimes they can be localised differently, and sometimes they can have similar effects with different substrate specificity etc etc

We can then add into the mix transcriptional programming, and post translational modification of expressed proteins (which can again radically change the proteins expression, function, localisation etc) and it becomes pretty obvious that even just one cell is an extraordinarily highly complex computational system.

There are also intrinsic problems of studying these things, for example, when we knock out one DNA damage repair gene we see increased sensitivity to certain DNA damaging agents, but when we take cells from a knock out mouse and add back the wild type protein expressed at endogenous / physiological levels, the rescue is incomplete and indeed there appears to be some toxicity of the adding back of the gene/protein, which we believe is due to the compensatory pathways being up-regulated. A lot of knock-out technologies of gene analysis are problematic as well, for example, we have produced a mouse that someone else has also produced, after recombination based knockout, a marker is left for selection of the knock out ES cells, this can and absolutely should be removed, but they didn't bother, worse, their design left some exons present, and it turns out that mRNA and protein are produced, and lastly, they did not back cross the mouse more than one generation. The result is a Nature Genetics publication that shows a very sick mouse, that survives. It survives because it does express some truncated protein, shows some weird phenotypes perhaps because of the expression of the resistance cassette, and it is cancer prone because it hasn't been sufficiently backcrossed (which disappears on proper backcrossing). The point is, great care needs to be taken to make solid conclusions about the function of one gene, and even when you do cleanly knock out one gene, you can't be sure what you're looking at, is it directly due to my gene or indirectly through numerous other genes / pleiotropic effects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knockout_mouse

We understand the "central dogma" very well. We largely know how genes are transcribed and translated into proteins, but we know very little about how the highly interlinked effects of all these genes, RNAs, proteins and theirs interactions, enzymatic activities, and indeed signalling cascades, moderated through interaction with the environment come together to create a stable self replicating, self producing cell. When you start to increase the complexity in looking at multicellular organisms and then complex phenomena such as consciousness and the extraordinary extent of abstractive ability in humans (which seems well out of kilter with teleologically argued evolutionary requirements), the explanation of such complex phenomena at the level of genes seems pretty unsatisfactory, genes though we are to a certain extent clearly "made of".

Gaps to address:
1) How is consciousness and particularly the subjective experience explained at the level of genes
2) How is the emergence of life explained by fundamental physics and complexity, and what on earth is the justification for thinking that life would occur elsewhere? How does a replicating unit emerge from basic chemistry?
3) How is entropy explained at the level of quantum physics? What is entropy?
4) Why do we think a theory of everything is possible? Why do we think we are up to the task of laying down a coherent theoretical picture for all physical reality?
Coel Hellier - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> ... what is the specific primary understanding you have of the word "existence" that makes you think
> it is "ill-defined" and in need of a new definition.

The fact that nobody else even has a definition, they just go on intuition. That will get you by in many ways, but surely the point of academic enquiry is to try to do better than just taking intuition?

> ... you cannot get away from your definition being highly circular.

Sure I can, the definition as stated is not circular. And I note that you have not managed a clear and spelled-out statement of why it is.

We start from the experience of sense data; we then try to make sense of it; as part of that we can think through what "exists" and what we mean by "exists" and we can then ask whether we ourselves qualify as "existing". That is not circular.
Richard J - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

What an interesting set of questions. I can't answer them, but here are some observations:

> 1) How is consciousness and particularly the subjective experience explained at the level of genes

It won't be. Genes are the wrong level to explain this. Genes may help us to explain in part how a brain develops, but even if you accept that consciousness is something the brain does, to explain that you'll need both a lower level understanding of the physics of how neurons process information and are modified by it, and much higher level understanding of what kind of emergent phenomenon might produce consciousness.

> 2) How is the emergence of life explained by fundamental physics and complexity, and what on earth is the justification for thinking that life would occur elsewhere? How does a replicating unit emerge from basic chemistry?

We start by understanding life as something that happens in systems strongly driven out of equilibrium by a continuous flux of negative entropy, as a result of energy flowing in from somewhere hot (the sun) and then flowing out to somewhere cold (deep space). That's a very common situation in the Universe as it is now so the basic conditions for life are very widespread. What we don't know is how many different physical realisations of life there are; given that there's only one we know about that tends to limit our imaginations a bit. Maybe some clever chemist will make a truly synthetic biology. Maybe there's another quite different biology lying around under our noses that no-one's noticed yet - a "shadow biosphere".

> 3) How is entropy explained at the level of quantum physics? What is entropy?

There's no problem understanding what entropy is at the level of quantum physics. What's not clear is why it always increases. Actually, that's clear at the level of a given system that's in contact with some much larger surroundings. It isn't clear if you ask the question, what's the entropy of the entire universe and why is that always increasing. A sort of non-answer to that is, because for reasons we have no idea about whatsoever, the Universe was created - in the big bang - in a very low entropy state.

> 4) Why do we think a theory of everything is possible? Why do we think we are up to the task of laying down a coherent theoretical picture for all physical reality?

Not all of us do. Those who do are inheritors of the Christian Platonist tradition. Christian interpretations of Platonism had an enormous influence on the development of science. Someone like William Whewell (early 19th century philosopher of science) would have answered this, the regularity of the Universe is a direct expression of the mind of the creator of the Universe, God, and because our own minds are made in his image we are predisposed to be able to understand the Universe's natural order. Others are more influenced by the traditions of the Sceptics and doubt that we able to know anything about reality for certain.

ads.ukclimbing.com
John Gillott - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
>
> No!!! My definition does not make those things be the case! Whether it is or not "more of the same" is not affected by how I define words. The idea that there is "more of the same" does not follow from my definition, it follows from the principle of parsimony.
>
> You and Tim are continually getting confused between (1) the definition of a word and (2) how reality is; and also between (a) my definition of "exists", and (b) your intuitive understanding of what "exists".
>
>
> I don't arrive at it from that definition! I arrive at it from the principle of parsimony, like every cosmologist does. What I'm then saying is: given that we all think that it is (as far as we can tell) more-of-the-same, does it then qualify as "existing".

Would it be better (fairer?) if I said you arrive at the idea of the universe 'existing' beyond the visible universe (how much / how far beyond?) by combining the principle of parsimony and your definition of 'existence'? While on the other hand you arrive at the idea of a disconnected series of multiverses not 'existing' simply by definition?

If so, how are you using parsimonious? Do you even suspect that it might be convenient to you that your view (intuition?) of what is or isn't parsimonious in this context, combined with your definition, avoids the horrible (for you) idea of the universe not 'existing' beyond the visible universe?

What if I said I find it satisfying to interpret the anthropological principle to presume that there are infinitely many disconnected multiverses? Can I do this, or do you want to challenge me?
Coel Hellier - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> Would it be better (fairer?) if I said you arrive at the idea of the universe 'existing' beyond
> the visible universe (how much / how far beyond?) by combining the principle of parsimony
> and your definition of 'existence'?

Nope, I get the idea of beyond-the-observable-horizon being "more of the same" simply from parsimony. From there it follows that beyond-the-observable-horizon should be categorised the same as nearby universe w.r.t "existence".

> While on the other hand you arrive at the idea of a disconnected series of multiverses not 'existing' simply by definition?

Nope, I arrive at a causally disconnected universe "not existing" from consideration of whether I would consider a particle that is in our universe yet interacting with nothing as "existing". The answer is "no", and that leads me to apply the same to a causally disconnected universe.

> What if I said I find it satisfying to interpret the anthropological principle to presume that
> there are infinitely many disconnected multiverses? Can I do this, ...

Sure you can do that, go right ahead.
MG - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: As far as I can see the first part of your post is agreeing with me that knowledge is continuous inthe area of genetics. The second part raises some interesting un or partly answered questions.But I still don't see why you think there are discrete layers of knowledge. Are you suggesting conciousness will never be understood in terms of interactions between nuerons and hence chemistry and so on?
cb294 - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> Gaps to address:
> 1) How is consciousness and particularly the subjective experience explained at the level of genes


I can´t really comment on 3-4) and don´t have time for 2), which would deserve an entire thread for itself.

Concerning 1), I am well aware of pleiotropic effects even in clean knockouts, e.g. TGF-alpha which can give you anything from periimplantation lethality to crinkled whiskers. However, we don´t need a gene for consciousness. Genes encoding ion channels or growth cone guidance receptors will do nicely for generating a nervous system. The higher mental functions are several steps removed from the genes, but nothing suggests that you can´t reduce them to the plan the mouse uses to build itself.

CB

PS: Knockout phenotypes can be spectacularly uninformative. My favourite is Caveolin-1: Inability to swim and a permanent erection...

Jon Stewart - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to MG)

> Gaps to address:
> 1) How is consciousness and particularly the subjective experience explained at the level of genes
> 2) How is the emergence of life explained by fundamental physics and complexity, and what on earth is the justification for thinking that life would occur elsewhere? How does a replicating unit emerge from basic chemistry?
> 3) How is entropy explained at the level of quantum physics? What is entropy?
> 4) Why do we think a theory of everything is possible? Why do we think we are up to the task of laying down a coherent theoretical picture for all physical reality?

Great questions. I watch with interest!
Jimbo W on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The fact that nobody else even has a definition, they just go on intuition. That will get you by in many ways, but surely the point of academic enquiry is to try to do better than just taking intuition?

What did you go on? Why is intuition necessarily so defective in your view? I mean if it is good enough to remove us from solipsism, it can't be that bad! Perhaps you should retire back to your own mind.

> Sure I can, the definition as stated is not circular. And I note that you have not managed a clear and spelled-out statement of why it is.
> We start from the experience of sense data; we then try to make sense of it; as part of that we can think through what "exists" and what we mean by "exists" and we can then ask whether we ourselves qualify as "existing". That is not circular.

I respectively disagree. I'll retry with emphasis...

What you are doing is inventing a new word.

What primary relationship does *your* definition have to the word "existence", and what is the specific primary understanding *you* have of the word "existence" that makes you think it is "ill-defined" and in need of a new definition. You need make no reference to anyone else's view!!!

Before you start(ed) on this re-definition of the word, what did / do *you* understand by the term "existence". How have *you* removed any implicit referential nature of what *you* previously understood by the term "existence", or removed the sense which you intrinsically know what it feels like to "exist", because without having done so, and without making recourse in your nouveau definition to things presumed "existent", such as your senses, you cannot get away from your definition being highly circular, or do your senses not exist?
kestrelspl on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Great questions. I watch with interest!

In answer to 3: Entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics are really just a statistical statement, that the more ways of doing something there are, the more likely the system is to do it and thus don't really need to enter into the fundamental quantum theory, because when you look at systems of many particles the statistics of those systems will lead to a concept of entropy that is likely to increase.

In answer to 4: We don't know, we just haven't given up on trying yet, and I doubt we ever will.
John Gillott - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Would it be better (fairer?) if I said you arrive at the idea of the universe 'existing' beyond
> the visible universe (how much / how far beyond?) by combining the principle of parsimony
> and your definition of 'existence'?

'Nope, I get the idea of beyond-the-observable-horizon being "more of the same" simply from parsimony. From there it follows that beyond-the-observable-horizon should be categorised the same as nearby universe w.r.t "existence".'

So you are combining two things - parsimony and your definition. Without your definition, 'more of the same' would, er, lack definition, and you wouldn't want that. But of course without needing to make it explicit to yourself, you do that with 'it follows'.


> While on the other hand you arrive at the idea of a disconnected series of multiverses not 'existing' simply by definition?

'Nope, I arrive at a causally disconnected universe "not existing" from consideration of whether I would consider a particle that is in our universe yet interacting with nothing as "existing". The answer is "no", and that leads me to apply the same to a causally disconnected universe.'

In your consideration of whether you would consider, did you consider the fact that stuff in the causally disconnected universe could interact with other stuff in the same universe, thus satisfying, from the perspective of the other multiverse, if it existed in the usually understood sense of the term, your definition of existing?
Gordon Stainforth - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

((Gordon screams 'Ouch!' in wings))
Darren Jackson - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Completely lost now.... Has Coel just proved, by his own argument, that he doesn't exist and vanished in a puff of John's logic?
Robert Durran - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Hawking too believed in this impossibility of a theory of everything, and while he seem to have done a volte face, I can't see any reasoning for that change in position. In any case this is what he said:

> Up to now, most people have implicitly assumed that there is an ultimate theory that we will eventually discover.............. and the analogy of Godel’s theorem, suggest that even this formulation will be incomplete.

Thanks for providing someting substantial rather than mere play with words (dismssing reduction by replacing "is" with "made of") or making assertions about layres of reality. I could actually see myself buying into these ideas. I think I could be forgiven for saying that irreducibility would be surprising - after all, Godel's theorems would have been very surprising (indeed hard for many to swallow) when he produced them.

If ideas of incompleteness apply to the laws of nature, is this only from the self referential point of view of us as internal observers. Could "angels who view the universe from outside" have a complete, coherent theory? Is our potential knowledge of reality fundamentally restricted by being part of that reality?
cb294 - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
>
> [...] How have *you* removed any implicit referential nature of what *you* previously understood by the term "existence", or removed the sense which you intrinsically know what it feels like to "exist", because without having done so, and without making recourse in your nouveau definition to things presumed "existent", such as your senses, you cannot get away from your definition being highly circular, or do your senses not exist?


Why do you see circularity as you describe as a problem? The litmus test of any definition is in offering a test of whether it is fulfilled for a given entity. There is no reason why such a test could not be applied self-referentially.

I very much prefer an operational definition of "existence" from a intuitive one that offers no means of verification.

CB
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Thanks for providing someting substantial rather than mere play with words (dismssing reduction by replacing "is" with "made of") or making assertions about layres of reality.

I really amn't trying to play with words. I'm not dismissing reduction by placing "is" with "made of", but rather asking whether reducibility still pertains when "made of" is replaced by "explicable with recourse to". The fact that we can take a piece of brain and cut it up all the way to quantum particles makes it a very easy shift to the presumption of the explicable power of those quantum particles, but is it really so? I'm not convinced, and so far all appeals to universal reducibility make appeal to "made of" type answers.

> I could actually see myself buying into these ideas. I think I could be forgiven for saying that irreducibility would be surprising - after all, Godel's theorems would have been very surprising (indeed hard for many to swallow) when he produced them.
> If ideas of incompleteness apply to the laws of nature, is this only from the self referential point of view of us as internal observers. Could "angels who view the universe from outside" have a complete, coherent theory? Is our potential knowledge of reality fundamentally restricted by being part of that reality?

Good question, and one I asked in the previous thread myself of Gordon and Tim. The answer is I don't know, but, I think incompleteness is hard wired into our abstractive tools, not just axiomatic and theoretical systems of mathematics and physics, but it appears to be an intrinsic feature of language too (see the semantic primes wiki) in which the plethora of all words appears to rely on some basic axiomatic words that are not themselves definable except with recourse to themselves or analogues in synonyms or antonyms. Whether that is a reflection of our intellectual / sense deficit, or it actually saying something hard about reality itself, I'm not sure, but I'm inclined to think that its the latter or a combination of the two. I'd like to see arguments either way.
Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: I don't accept that there are semantic primes. Just because you don't like, or don't agree with, a definition doesn't mean that there are any words that can't be defined. Unless you're saying that there has to be a unanimous decision before any word can be said to be defined?
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> I don't accept that there are semantic primes. Just because you don't like, or don't agree with, a definition doesn't mean that there are any words that can't be defined. Unless you're saying that there has to be a unanimous decision before any word can be said to be defined?

Sure, but if I was to offer you a definition of "existence" I would say something like:
the state of having being, existing, the fact of being objectively real, everything that is

I, others, and I think you were offering definitions like this, in the first thread, but these were flatly rejected by Coel because of the recourse to synonyms and implicit circularity that contains. Within that above definition all words other than existence: being, reality, is, can all be defined with reference to each other and existence. So there is an intrinsically circularity, and that was Coel's original fervent objection. Can you define "existence" without recourse to such synonyms, antonyms or circularity? My point is that whatever Coel thinks he is doing, there is always a referential locus to a prior concept of what "existence" means, otherwise why not call it "coelitis" or something quite different?

He made a brief slip in his rhetoric when he defended Christian's proffered definition:
> In this context, defining "existence" as the ability to interact in principle with other stuff accepted to exist
To which I said:
> I don't think you can get more circular. Can you really not see it? To paraphrase: Things have the property existence that have a relationship (termed interaction in principle) with things that exist. More simply, existence is defined with respect to things that already have the property existence. So how do we first establish this concept existence without defining it wrt itself?
Coel responded:
> Ah, I see what you're getting at now. However, I don't define it as "Things have the property existence that have a relationship (termed interaction in principle) with things that exist". I define it as "things have the property existence that have a relationship (termed interaction in principle) with my sense data". Thus "my sense data" is the starting point. That isn't circular.

But what Coel doesn't appreciate is that it still remains circular, because "my sense data" must still be presumed to exist, and thus existence is defined with respect to something presumed to exist. You can take this as far back philosophically as you like, but any appeal to "sense data" is an appeal to some things presumed to exist: oneself, ones senses, and data / information to be appreciated. Einstein understood this perfectly when he said:
A few more remarks of a general nature concerning concepts and [also] concerning the insinuation that a concept - for example that of the real - is something metaphysical (and therefore to be rejected). A basic conceptual distinction, which is a necessary prerequisite of scientific and pre-scientific thinking, is the distinction between "sense-impressions" (and the recollection of such) on the one hand and mere ideas on the other. There is no such thing as a conceptual definition of this distinction (aside from, circular definitions, i.e., of such as make a hidden use of the object to be defined). Nor can it be maintained that at the base of this distinction there is a type of evidence, such as underlies, for example, the distinction between red and blue. Yet, one needs this distinction in order to be able to overcome solipsism. Solution: we shall make use of this distinction unconcerned with the reproach that, in doing so, we are guilty of the metaphysical "original sin." We regard the distinction as a category which we use in order that we might the better find our way in the world of immediate sensations. The "sense" and the justification of this distinction lies simply in this achievement. But this is only a first step. We represent the sense-impressions as conditioned by an "objective" and by a "subjective" factor. For this conceptual distinction there also is no logical-philosophical justification. But if we reject it, we cannot escape solipsism. It is also the presupposition of every kind of physical thinking. Here too, the only justification lies in its usefulness. We are here concerned with "categories" or schemes of thought, the selection of which is, in principle, entirely open to us and whose qualification can only be judged by the degree to which its use contributes to making the totality of the contents of consciousness "intelligible." The above mentioned "objective factor" is the totality of such concepts and conceptual relations as are thought of as independent of experience, viz., of perceptions. So long as we move within the thus programmatically fixed sphere of thought we are thinking physically. Insofar as physical thinking justifies itself, in the more than once indicated sense, by its ability to grasp experiences intellectually, we regard it as "knowledge of the real."

Christian understood this straight away and said:
> That is what you see, I see beauty in functionality.
> Unlike the philosophers´ approach, such an operational definition generates a consistent and testable model of reality and thus scientific and intellectual progress.
and me:
> So how do we first establish this concept existence without defining it wrt itself?
and christian:
> By rejecting solipsism and accepting that our sensory experiences and their mental representations in our mind do indeed reflect a base reality external to our mind.

Bang on! That is the way forward, just as Einstein described above, and further more, I perfectly accept that the conception of reality that Coel has outlined may have functional utility on building on its presumptive, intuitive base, but it nevertheless remains that there is an intrinsic circularity which has a referential conceptual base in our inuition and are leap into a commitment to reality and its objective reality apart from our ability to appreciate it.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Why is intuition necessarily so defective in your view?

Intuition is a set of programming cobbled together by evolution to do a job, namely help us operate in our world. For that reason it will likely be quite good at the sort of things we've met over our evolutionary past (for example the dangers of heights and snakes; revealingly it is less good at the dangers of driving a car at 70mph).

So, intuition will have some reliability as a guide, particularly to "everyday" issues. But that doesn't make it an infallible reference source; we know that intuition is limited and often wrong. Hence why I say that: "surely the point of academic enquiry is to try to do better than just taking intuition?".

> ... of the word "existence" that makes you think it is "ill-defined" and in need of a new definition.

Umm, the fact that it is un-defined! The fact that, in these lengthy threads, no-one has given a better definition than mine (or any alternative, really). Proceeding on a intuitive understanding of what "exists" means will get you by in everyday life, but still leaves the word ill-defined.

> You need make no reference to anyone else's view!!!

Amazing! I am repeatedly referencing everyone else's view that "existence" is undefined!

> Before you start(ed) on this re-definition of the word, what did / do *you* understand by the term "existence".

I had a sort-of intuitive understanding of it.

> How have *you* removed any implicit referential nature of what *you* previously understood by the term "existence ...

Let me once again return to my analogy of a world-view as a floating boat, of which you can renew any part (just not all at once). You are entirely right that, in arriving at my definition of "exists" I start by considering my intuitive understanding of "exists", and examining what that means. I then proceed to a re-definition of "exists". But, the facts of how I arrived at that point do NOT make the resulting definition circular! The resulting definition stands alone, it is not circular.

You are right that I arrived at it from consideration of an intuitive understanding of the word, but that's how much enquiry proceeds. Nearly all of our ideas and theories arise out of considering more primitive versions. If that made things "circular" then nearly all of science would be "circular".

Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> In your consideration of whether you would consider, did you consider the fact that stuff in the
> causally disconnected universe could interact with other stuff in the same universe, thus satisfying,
> from the perspective of the other multiverse, if it existed in the usually understood sense of
> the term, your definition of existing?

Why sure I considered that, and it is indeed discussed up-thread. Again, you're just re-hashing again and again. You previously asked whether we would "exist" from the point of view of this hypothetical causally disconnected universe. And I replied: "No, but we might meta-exist".

Stuff, in that causally disconnected universe would indeed "exist" in *that* universe, but not in ours, it "meta-exists" as we see it. For my definition of "exist" stuff needs to be linkable to our sense data, so the causally disconnected universe doesn't "exist".
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:

> Why do you see circularity as you describe as a problem? The litmus test of any definition is in offering a test of whether it is fulfilled for a given entity. There is no reason why such a test could not be applied self-referentially.

Coel laid out the grounds for this debate by rejecting definitions that made recourse to synonyms. They weren't initially my grounds. However, what interests me is that knowledge of physical reality and existence can be a priori appreciated, i.e. that there is an inherence between our subjective self and our senses which is the ground for the intuiting of "existence" as something objective apart from ourselves. This is totally consistent with the idea that some concepts have primary truth, and some words that appeal to those concepts are axiomatic "semantic primes".

> I very much prefer an operational definition of "existence" from a intuitive one that offers no means of verification.

Well that's fine for what it is.. ..your preference, and for what its worth, I'll say again that, not withstanding John's legitimate scrutiny, there may well be functional utility in such a circular conception, because it provides for an algorithm for the potential of establishing facts in the set "exists". It nevertheless requires that there is a primary ground on which this set "exists" starts, and upon which this entire edifice rests.
Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: "any appeal to "sense data" is an appeal to some things presumed to exist". You appear to think that this shows circularity, but it doesn't. What about our senses do we presume to exist? The mechanisms by which they work are understood, or at least being worked towards, we've seen the structure of the eye and the route of the optic nerve into the brain, we're not presuming they exist. And we're not presuming that the things we see don't exist because that would presume that the brain has imagined the eye, why would there be an eye with nothing to see? So I don't know what you're presuming about your sense data and I can't see why it's circular.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> but it appears to be an intrinsic feature of language too (see the semantic primes wiki) in
> which the plethora of all words appears to rely on some basic axiomatic words that are not
> themselves definable except with recourse to themselves or analogues in synonyms or antonyms.

I still don't agree. Note that your list of "semantic primes" included things like "see" and "hear". Surely you can define those in terms of detecting photons and sound waves, thus they are not "not themselves definable except with recourse to themselves or analogues in synonyms or antonyms".
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> But what Coel doesn't appreciate is that it still remains circular, because "my sense data" must still be presumed to exist ...

No, you don't. I don't have to start of presuming that my sense data "exists" (in the sense of meeting my criterion, or in any other sense), all I have to start from is the experience of that sense data (making no comment about its "existence"). I then make sense of that sense data by inventing the category "exists" and deciding what stuff meets that category.

> You can take this as far back philosophically as you like, but any appeal to "sense data" is an
> appeal to some things presumed to exist ...

No, I do not have to make any presumption about whether or not my sense data meets my qualification to "exist". I can then decide that later on the evidence.

Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I still don't agree. Note that your list of "semantic primes" included things like "see" and "hear". Surely you can define those in terms of detecting photons and sound waves, thus they are not "not themselves definable except with recourse to themselves or analogues in synonyms or antonyms".

And in this context how do you define "detection" wrt to photons? By recourse to a description of ones ears?!!! Look up the definitions for seeing: "Perceive with the eyes; discern visually."!!!!
craigloon - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

OK, how about this: Anything that obeys the laws of physics exists. Nothing can exist that doesn't obey the laws of physics.

To my mind this is not circular, because "a law of nature" is not an existent in itself, it is a description of how existents behave and interact.

We have deduced these laws through empirical observation (our sense data).

Please note that I am not saying that the laws of physics "exist", as a description is not an existent.

If someone can show that, and how, what they term the "soul", unicorns and sky fairy of choice obey the laws of physics, I will accept that they exist.

Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> And in this context how do you define "detection" wrt to photons? By recourse to a description of ones ears?!!!

You can define "detection of photons" (and thus "seeing") in terms of information about incoming photons being passed to the information-processing network of the brain.

If you want to claim that this sort of thing is "circular" then you'll end up with every word in the English language being "circular".
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> You can define "detection of photons" (and thus "seeing") in terms of information about incoming photons being passed to the information-processing network of the brain.

By passing the eye.
Robert Durran - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> Whether that is a reflection of our intellectual / sense deficit, or it actually saying something hard about reality itself, I'm not sure, but I'm inclined to think that its the latter or a combination of the two. I'd like to see arguments either way.

Maybe, even if incompleteness means that our own consciousness will always be irreducible because of it's self-referential nature, we could imagine laws of physics in one of Coel's no-existent causally disconected meta-realities to which the consciousness of its non-existent inhabitants can be reduced.

Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> By passing the eye.

So what? In what way is defining "seeing" in terms of the organ we call the eye "circular"?
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier: I assume what Jimbo is trying to say is that under your definition, something only exists if it interacts with something that has already been established to exist (such as Boson detector, your eye or whatever). If we don't assume the Boson detector exists, we would need a Boson detector detector to check, and so on.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> If you want to claim that this sort of thing is "circular" then you'll end up with every word in the English language being "circular".

Well yes, there is a certain sense that there is a circularity in that all words can be brought back to having reference to semantic primes of the axiomatic basis of language, but no, not all words are so immediately self referential as those that are semantic primes. Besides which, who said "see" or "hear" was a semantic prime?
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> I assume what Jimbo is trying to say is that under your definition, something only exists if it
> interacts with something that has already been established to exist (such as Boson detector, your
> eye or whatever). If we don't assume the Boson detector exists, we would need a Boson detector
> detector to check, and so on.

But the definition isn't "interact with something that has already been established to exist", the end point is "... interact with sense data". From there you can establish one thing as "existing" (= able to affect sense data), and from that point on you can indeed work your way outwards, taking interactions with things that have already been established to exist. But, since that is not a requirement of the initial step, it is not circular.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> ... to having reference to semantic primes of the axiomatic basis of language ...

> ... not all words are so immediately self referential as those that are semantic primes.

Repeating something lots of times doesn't make it right. You are misinterpreting what these "semantic primes" are about, they are merely things that humans have a basic intuition about. That doesn't mean they can't be defined or have to be taken as "axioms".

> Besides which, who said "see" or "hear" was a semantic prime?

The wiki page that you gave as your source.
Bulls Crack - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

Well, I've simmed what you say and you appear to be about right

Signed: Lets have a sensible discussion about this. (GSV ex-contact - honestly!)
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The wiki page that you gave as your source.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_primes

Can't see it!?
Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: Perhaps you're choosing not to see it, look in the table.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

Ah, yes, so it is!
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> But the definition isn't "interact with something that has already been established to exist", the end point is "... interact with sense data".

That wasn't quite your original definition of "could not, even in principle, have any discernible effect on anything we're aware of". The last phrase in that does indeed seem to imply assuming something exists before everything else can follow. You new definition seems....odd.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

http://www.une.edu.au/lcl/nsm/pdf/Goddard_Ch1_2002.pdf

Perhaps going back to the paper cited might help.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Repeating something lots of times doesn't make it right. You are misinterpreting what these "semantic primes" are about, they are merely things that humans have a basic intuition about. That doesn't mean they can't be defined or have to be taken as "axioms".

What do you think intuition is? And please define "I" and "Good" and "Not", to show how easy these non self-referential definitions are to make.
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
> For my definition of "exist" stuff needs to be linkable to our sense data, so the causally disconnected universe doesn't "exist".

And of course you're using 'linkable to our sense data' in the Coel-defined way here aren't you rather than the usually understood way? In this case this is a particularly stark torturing of the ordinary understandings because when people see the words 'linked' 'to' 'our' and 'sense data' they immediately think about sensing the stuff. But you don't mean that, you mean linked by a chain of causal chains that, to switch to our universe, stretch beyond the visible universe to stuff that we can't sense in the usually understood meaning of the word sense because we are not linked to the stuff in the usually understood meaning of the word linked.
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:
when people see the words 'linked' 'to' 'our' and 'sense data' they immediately think about sensing the stuff. But you don't mean that, you mean linked by a chain of causal chains that, to switch to our universe,

What's the difference?
ads.ukclimbing.com
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> That wasn't quite your original definition of "could not, even in principle, have any discernible
> effect on anything we're aware of". The last phrase in that does indeed seem to imply assuming something
> exists before everything else can follow.

That definition amounts to much the same, since it ends with our awareness.
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

Because in an expanding universe larger than the visible universe theory tells us that there are points that cannot, in principle, interact with each other (points A and Z in the chain, see end of previous thread). This means that, in principle, no matter what technology I use, I cannot 'sense' the stuff beyond the visible universe in the ordinary understanding of the word 'sense'.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> What do you think intuition is?

Programming programmed into us by evolution. It's much the same as instinct.

Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Programming programmed into us by evolution. It's much the same as instinct.

Wonderful, what an empty description devoid of any useful meaning! And how about those definitions "I", "Good" and "Not"?
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> But the definition isn't "interact with something that has already been established to exist", the end point is "... interact with sense data". From there you can establish one thing as "existing" (= able to affect sense data), and from that point on you can indeed work your way outwards, taking interactions with things that have already been established to exist. But, since that is not a requirement of the initial step, it is not circular.

It seems to me you are describing a process and not establishing a definition. If you are trying here to establish a definition then ipso facto this is a process that takes "sense data" as existing and logically has to be established ex post facto. If you are trying to describe a primitive process, then you need to be clear about that, but in your tortuous descriptions you are getting closer and closer to my and Tim's original positions, which is fine by me!
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> to stuff that we can't sense in the usually understood meaning of the word sense ...

So what? There is plenty of stuff that we can't sense "in the usually understood meaning of the word sense", stuff at the centre of Mars for example.

> ... is a particularly stark torturing of the ordinary understandings because ...

If what you mean by that is "not fully in accord with my intuition" then YES I AGREE! The WHOLE POINT of my definition is to try to improve on mere intuition. Endlessly rehashing "but that is not fully in accord with my intuition" is entirely irrelevant and pointless. Can we now move on? Do you have a better definition of "exists" or not?
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

>> Programming programmed into us by evolution. It's much the same as instinct.

> Wonderful, what an empty description devoid of any useful meaning!

It seems entirely a very good description to me. Can you do better?
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> It seems to me you are describing a process and not establishing a definition.

Or both. A definition could include a process.

> If you are trying here to establish a definition then ipso facto this is a process that takes
> "sense data" as existing ...

NO IT DOES NOT! It does NOT a priori take the sense data as fulfilling my criteria for "existing". I've said that multiple times.

John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> So what? There is plenty of stuff that we can't sense "in the usually understood meaning of the word sense", stuff at the centre of Mars for example.
>

Eh? We can in principle sense stuff at the centre of Mars. In many, many years (millions, say) to come we might blow the thing up and have a look. Short of that if there was, say, an incredibly potent source of radioactivity at the centre we might detect that. Beyond the visible universe we can never, ever, sense anything in the normal meaning of the word sense.
>

> If what you mean by that is "not fully in accord with my intuition" then YES I AGREE! The WHOLE POINT of my definition is to try to improve on mere intuition. Endlessly rehashing "but that is not fully in accord with my intuition" is entirely irrelevant and pointless. Can we now move on? Do you have a better definition of "exists" or not?

I don't have one, and neither do you, at least not in the way you think you do. That is the whole point. In this sense there is nothing to move on to. But hopefully, there are some interesting things to discuss
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> Beyond the visible universe we can never, ever, sense anything in the normal meaning of the word sense.

We got that far a week ago. Why are you endlessly rehashing the same point?

> I don't have one, and neither do you, at least not in the way you think you do.

Yes I do. It's better than any alternative you or anyone else has proposed.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Or both. A definition could include a process.

I'm not sure I agree, what do others think? In any case, please give us your full rejigged definition as it now stands.

> NO IT DOES NOT! It does NOT a priori take the sense data as fulfilling my criteria for "existing". I've said that multiple times.

So says you, but as you keep saying, just repeatedly saying it, rather than showing how it is true, does not make it true!!
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> >> Programming programmed into us by evolution. It's much the same as instinct.

> It seems entirely a very good description to me. Can you do better?

I'll tell you what, I'll give you a better definition than this empty one when you give us some non-self referential definitions for "I", "Good" and "Not"... ...ok!
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> We got that far a week ago. Why are you endlessly rehashing the same point?
>
You think I'm endlessly rehashing, I think you are. You think I'm failing to get your point (definition), I think you're failing to get mine. I keep trying to state it in different ways, but it's not helping. I've been focusing on one example (your treatment of our universe beyond the visible universe compared with your treatment of a multiverse) because I think it highlights some flaws in what you're trying to do. That's all. Other people have tried to look at different but related issues, with similar results.
>
> Yes I do. It's better than any alternative you or anyone else has proposed.

I'm not proposing one - I'd say yours was 'worse' in the sense that you're missing the point.
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> NO IT DOES NOT! It does NOT a priori take the sense data as fulfilling my criteria for "existing".

That does seem to be making sense data rather special though doesn't it? Something that we define as non-existent to determine whether other things do exist. If we use it, then claiming it doesn't exists is a pretty big step.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> That does seem to be making sense data rather special though doesn't it? Something that we define as non-existent to determine whether other things do exist. If we use it, then claiming it doesn't exists is a pretty big step.

Exactly, which is what I mean by we're getting closer and closer to Tim and my original positions.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> You think I'm endlessly rehashing, I think you are.

Sure, I'm endlessly rehashing because you keep asking me the same things again and again and again.

> I think you're failing to get mine.

So what is your point in a nutshell? If it is "this definition of yours does not fully accord with my intuition about the word" then (1) ok, granted, and (2) so what?

> because I think it highlights some flaws in what you're trying to do.

What flaws? (Other than "this is not fully in accord with my intuition"?)

> I'm not proposing one - I'd say yours was 'worse' in the sense that you're missing the point.

What point?
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> Exactly, which is what I mean by we're getting closer and closer to Tim and my original positions.

I am still waiting for statement of that position not written in cryptic cross-word clues. Saying something is undefinable doesn't get you anywhere.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> That does seem to be making sense data rather special though doesn't it?

It is inevitably special in that it is our entry point to the world around. I don't see any way round that.

> Something that we define as non-existent to determine whether other things do exist.

No, I do not define "sense data" as non-existent. All I'm saying is that I don't have to answer the question (of whether the sense data qualify as "existing") up-front and a priori, I can leave that to downstream.

> If we use it, then claiming it doesn't exists is a pretty big step.

But then I don't! Where did I say that sense data does not exist????
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:


> But then I don't! Where did I say that sense data does not exist????

Well if you say it exists, your definition is circular (for the reasons given above). Actually I think circular is too strong and I don't have a problem with you doing that. I think you just say the definition of exists is your definition plus sense data, then everything is fine.
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> Sure, I'm endlessly rehashing because you keep asking me the same things again and again and again.
>

Well, I'm not always (simply) asking - sometimes I'm making a point by asking and sometimes I'm just making a point!

>
> So what is your point in a nutshell? If it is "this definition of yours does not fully accord with my intuition about the word" then (1) ok, granted, and (2) so what?
>

Of course that's not my point. I'm pretty much with Jimbo on this and also Einstein in the quote he has given a few times. Why don't you give that quote a re-read and let us know what you think about it? You are describing a process that serves science well as a guide to practice in many contexts, though not all. You are, unfortunately, also conflating this with something else.

>
> What flaws? (Other than "this is not fully in accord with my intuition"?)
>

You believe that, among other things, Tim's original characterisation is circular, that his approach mixes up word games and 'what exists'. I believe that you end up doing the same, in various ways.
>
> What point?

That you can't do what you're trying to do, in the way you think you're doing it, and no one can.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> Well if you say it exists, your definition is circular (for the reasons given above).

Yes I think that sense data exists, but not as part of the definition, thus the definition is not circular.

> I think you just say the definition of exists is your definition plus sense data

I've said all along that one has to start with the experience of sense data. (What one does not have to do is declare from the start that that sense data "exists" in the meaning of the term that one will end up defining.)
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> You believe that, among other things, Tim's original characterisation is circular ...

No, Tim's original characterisation was not circular, it was undefined (and stated by him to be so), and purely intuitive.

> I believe that you end up doing the same, in various ways.

That's vague. Since you're addressing this at quite a length, can you be more specific in your actual criticisms?

> That you can't do what you're trying to do, in the way you think you're doing it, and no one can.

Ditto. That's vague.
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> Yes I think that sense data exists, but not as part of the definition, thus the definition is not circular.


So do you agree that adding sense data to the definition of exists is beneficial?
cb294 - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to cb294)
>
> [...]
>
> Well that's fine for what it is.. ..your preference, and for what its worth, I'll say again that, not withstanding John's legitimate scrutiny, there may well be functional utility in such a circular conception, because it provides for an algorithm for the potential of establishing facts in the set "exists". It nevertheless requires that there is a primary ground on which this set "exists" starts, and upon which this entire edifice rests.

I guess this is where we have to disagree: In my view you do not need a primary ground. Self consistency is sufficient, and circularity is made up for by parsimony (as in: all things we take to exist can interact, including ourselves, there is no need to assume we are different from other stuff that physically exists).


CB
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:


I've failed to get it across so I've gone for an appeal to authority - let us know what you think about that Einstein quote.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> So do you agree that adding sense data to the definition of exists is beneficial?

You could do that, but it seems a little artificial and unnecessary, since one can ask whether the sense data themselves meet the criterion downstream.

But, as I've said all along, I was proposing my definition largely to see if anyone had a better one, and I can see that some might prefer one which included sense data by fiat.
craigloon - on 04 Dec 2012

Interesting research here about the origins of intelligence and consciousness: The result of random mutations like everything else.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121202164325.htm#.ULxa78_sn-I.facebook
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:

> In my view you do not need a primary ground. Self consistency is sufficient [...]

Agreed, that's what my `floating boat' is all about, that you don't need a primary anchor.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> I've failed to get it across so I've gone for an appeal to authority - let us know what you
> think about that Einstein quote.

I don't agree with it, I think you can avoid making the "original sin" statements that he does by my "floating boat" approach.
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:


> Well that's fine for what it is.. ..your preference, and for what its worth, I'll say again that, not withstanding John's legitimate scrutiny, there may well be functional utility in such a circular conception, because it provides for an algorithm for the potential of establishing facts in the set "exists". It nevertheless requires that there is a primary ground on which this set "exists" starts, and upon which this entire edifice rests. (Jimbo)

I guess this is where we have to disagree: In my view you do not need a primary ground. Self consistency is sufficient, and circularity is made up for by parsimony (as in: all things we take to exist can interact, including ourselves, there is no need to assume we are different from other stuff that physically exists).


CB

Ah yes, just to say, I agree with the functional utility point and the primary ground point. I think there is a further point which may or may not be a small difference with Jimbo: we have for the moment dropped that aspect of the discussion which focused on theories and seeing what we can see within our theoretical framework (sensing what we can sense, to make it broader). As such 'facts' need to be treated with some caution. I resolve this in the same way as Einstein (ie I follow him) in starting with a commitment to the existence of an external reality, and I recognise it as such - it is a commitment. This includes a commitment to the reality of our sense data.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:

> I guess this is where we have to disagree: In my view you do not need a primary ground. Self consistency is sufficient, and circularity is made up for by parsimony (as in: all things we take to exist can interact, including ourselves, there is no need to assume we are different from other stuff that physically exists).

Do not need a primary ground for what? Doing science, well I'd agree, you take basic beliefs and knowledge for granted and get on with it! Because like Einstein, you've taken the step of committing to reality! But if you want to think about the nature of existence, where it begins and ends and attempt to define it, as well as establishing a base upon which we can ask questions like what might be physical and non-physical, or what might be achievable knowledge and what wouldn't, then that's a different matter entirely!!!
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Agreed, that's what my `floating boat' is all about, that you don't need a primary anchor.

What is this floating boat nonsense? A worldview (your boat) is a primary cognitive orientation toward reality. Your boat doesn't suddenly exist, it has to be built, consciously or sub-consciously, and why have a boat at all unless there's an ocean to float it on.
Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: What non-physical stuff are you referring to?
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Your boat doesn't suddenly exist, it has to be built, consciously or sub-consciously, ...

Sure, and the point is that you can rethink and renew any part of it. You don't have to accept any part as fixed and unquestionable.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> What non-physical stuff are you referring to?

I'm not. I'm asking the question.

Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: There isn't any.
cb294 - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to cb294)
>
> [...]
>
> Do not need a primary ground for what? Doing science, well I'd agree, you take basic beliefs and knowledge for granted and get on with it! Because like Einstein, you've taken the step of committing to reality! But if you want to think about the nature of existence, where it begins and ends and attempt to define it, as well as establishing a base upon which we can ask questions like what might be physical and non-physical, or what might be achievable knowledge and what wouldn't, then that's a different matter entirely!!!


I agree to an extent, but question the utility of philosophy once it degenerates into wordplay.

The one commitment I need to take is to accept the presence of a base reality external to my mental representations. This is easy, and has been dealt with sufficiently by Johnson in his refutation of Berkeley´s immaterialism/solipsism.

Anyway, the only alternative is to asssume that a consistent base reality does not exist. In this case you end up with either solipsism or Arthur Dent´s way of flying (i.e., if you forget about gravity it doesn´t affect you either).

Once existence of a base reality it is accepted, there is no reason to separate the human brain and the mental states generated by its activity patterns from this physical reality.

Of your list of questions I therefore don´t agree that you need a philosophical definition invoking primary concepts to decide what is physical (the start point of this thread once women bishops were dealt with), but instead a robust test that you can apply (in principle) to find out.

A self consistent TOE would be nice.

CB
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:

> The one commitment I need to take is to accept the presence of a base reality external to my mental representations. ...

Personally I don't think you need even that prior commitment. You can evaluate whether the best explanation of your mental experiences is an external world, or just your mind floating in a vacuum. All the evidence we have points to the former, it explains why you have the mental experiences you do far better than the disembodied-floating-mind-in-a-vacuum idea.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to the thread:

This is sort-of on topic (if the "topic" is women bishops):

"A university's Christian society has banned women from speaking at events and teaching at meetings, unless they are accompanied by their husband, ..."

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/04/bristol-university-christian-union-ban-women-speaking-mee...
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:


> I've failed to get it across so I've gone for an appeal to authority - let us know what you
> think about that Einstein quote.

I don't agree with it, I think you can avoid making the "original sin" statements that he does by my "floating boat" approach.

You said at some point in one of the threads that you think yours is a new argument. Have I remembered that right? So for sure if you were to go back in time and put it to Einstein his response would have to be (or should be) something like: 'that's a new one, let me see now...?' Rather than, 'I've covered that already...'
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> You said at some point in one of the threads that you think yours is a new argument.

Well, I'm not aware of anyone explicitly using my definition, but it is the de facto one used in physics (for, e.g., detection of a new particle), and there have been plenty of musings about what "exist" actually means in the context of causally disconnected universes (e.g. in the context of Everett's many worlds), so I'm not claiming any great novelty.

> ... ' Rather than, 'I've covered that already...'

I don't know. It wasn't covered in that exert, but I've not read up on the wider context of his ideas on this. Anyhow, thought on a lot of things has moved on since him.
craigloon - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Bloody Saudis!
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to cb294)
>
> [...]
>
> Personally I don't think you need even that prior commitment. You can evaluate whether the best explanation of your mental experiences is an external world, or just your mind floating in a vacuum. All the evidence we have points to the former, it explains why you have the mental experiences you do far better than the disembodied-floating-mind-in-a-vacuum idea.

Go on, I'm curious.

My kids get a bit freaked out by the idea we're in The Matrix or something like it. I tell them it's highly unlikely in one sense. But then, I say, there is the argument that goes something like this: you have to balance the probability that we exist at just the time in history that we do (today) at the one place we know that supports the the intelligent life we know about, against the idea that intelligence did develop once or more than once and that that intelligent species is somewhere further along the road than us (and there's a lot more of the road ahead, we hope if we're real / have to imagine if we're lying in a pod) who for whatever reason are able to do what The Matrix posits and fancied doing it.

Of course that scenario also posits an external world that the intelligent species developed in, but we're rather deluded about it.
cb294 - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to cb294)
>
> [...]
>
> Personally I don't think you need even that prior commitment. You can evaluate whether the best explanation of your mental experiences is an external world, or just your mind floating in a vacuum. All the evidence we have points to the former, it explains why you have the mental experiences you do far better than the disembodied-floating-mind-in-a-vacuum idea.

In practical terms this evaluation equals "taking the committment" based on parsimony. Clearly, the presence of an external reality fits our sense data much more elegantly and parsimoniously, but if you are into word games this alone cannnot formally disprove a mind-floating-in-vacuum solipsism, ridiculous as it may seem.

Anyway, it does not matter in practical terms: You either say first that an external reality exists and build a consistent model that then can explain the mental states that do the building (so that the self reference serves to show consistency), or you start by making a consistent model (based on your sense data) and then conclude for reasons of parsimony and elegance that the model reflects a base reality which includes the mental states that do the concluding.

Seems to me pretty much an aesthetic judgement on whether you value simplicity or consistency more highly.

CB
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> Of course that scenario also posits an external world that the intelligent species developed in ...

Exactly, it doesn't do away with the external world. If you take the disembodied-floating-mind-in-a-vacuum idea you then ask "why is there a disembodied floating mind? How does work, how does it think, how did it get here?". Unless you posit an external world you have to answer "it just is".

Now you ask all sorts of things about why we think as we do, with the particular emotions and thoughts and socialness and ideas about an external world. If you explain the mind as a product of evolution then a vast amount about the way we think is explained (why we like children and sex and food as obvious examples; and why we dislike cold and hunger and experience pain and loneliness and fear things that are dangerous, etc, etc). If you're considering the disembodied floating mind, you just have to answer "it thinks like that because, err, it just does".

So, the idea of the mind as the product of the external world, and specifically the product of evolution, has vastly more explanatory and predictive ability than idea of the mind as disembodied and floating alone in a vacuum.

To adapt Dobzhansky's "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", everything about a mind makes sense in the light of it being the product of a material evolutionary process, which programmed it to do a job; nothing about the "disembodied and floating mind, alone in a vacuum" makes sense.
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> Well, I'm not aware of anyone explicitly using my definition, but it is the de facto one used in physics (for, e.g., detection of a new particle
>

what about thinking about detecting a particle such as a virtual particle:

http://physics.livejournal.com/541148.html

Or a tachyon:

http://lofi.forum.physorg.com/What-Methods-Would-Detect-Tachyons_20950.html

?

John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> Exactly, it doesn't do away with the external world. If you take the disembodied-floating-mind-in-a-vacuum idea you then ask "why is there a disembodied floating mind? How does work, how does it think, how did it get here?". Unless you posit an external world you have to answer "it just is".
>
> Now you ask all sorts of things about why we think as we do, with the particular emotions and thoughts and socialness and ideas about an external world. If you explain the mind as a product of evolution then a vast amount about the way we think is explained (why we like children and sex and food as obvious examples; and why we dislike cold and hunger and experience pain and loneliness and fear things that are dangerous, etc, etc). If you're considering the disembodied floating mind, you just have to answer "it thinks like that because, err, it just does".
>
> So, the idea of the mind as the product of the external world, and specifically the product of evolution, has vastly more explanatory and predictive ability than idea of the mind as disembodied and floating alone in a vacuum.
>
> To adapt Dobzhansky's "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", everything about a mind makes sense in the light of it being the product of a material evolutionary process, which programmed it to do a job; nothing about the "disembodied and floating mind, alone in a vacuum" makes sense.

I'm not sure about all of that. What if it was real-world future humans who have done this to us? What if humanity had in fact existed on earth for a further billion years and had decided for the fun of it to use its knowledge of its own history and its own emotions etc to create some drones in pods or indeed a computer simulation (ie us)? Maybe everything in our heads is how it was a billion years ago, or something similar, or maybe it's just as things are in their present. Or maybe its just the same but for the fact that Pluto doesn't exist: they're having a bit of fun with that one
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
> [...]
>
> I'm not sure about all of that.

I am pretty sure you are sure about it really.


What if it was real-world future humans who have done this to us? What if humanity had in fact existed on earth for a further billion years and had decided for the fun of it to use its knowledge of its own history and its own emotions etc to create some drones in pods or indeed a computer simulation (ie us)?

What if any number of other fantastical scenarios. Not really a very productive line of thinking.
craigloon - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

Mickey Mouse's dog was a figment of his imagination??
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> what about thinking about detecting a particle such as a virtual particle:

Virtual particles are real, they exist. (Don't get confused by the nomenclature contrasting "real" and "virtual" particles, virtual particles do exist [unless you want to do away with such things and use fields instead, either way they present no problem for my definition].)

> Or a tachyon:

If tachyons existed then they'd exist under my definition (they could interact with other stuff). They don't cause a problem for my definition.

Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> What if it was real-world future humans who have done this to us? What if humanity had in fact
> existed on earth for a further billion years and ...

All you're doing is presenting more-complex external-world scenarios (and you can decide whether to adopt one using evidence and parsimony). You are not presenting a "disembodied and floating mind, alone in a vacuum" scenario, which is the only alternative to external-world scenarios.

John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> Virtual particles are real, they exist. (Don't get confused by the nomenclature contrasting "real" and "virtual" particles, virtual particles do exist [unless you want to do away with such things and use fields instead, either way they present no problem for my definition].)
>
> [...]
>
> If tachyons existed then they'd exist under my definition (they could interact with other stuff). They don't cause a problem for my definition.

Yeah I know it works for your definition.

I could point out that this point of yours about your approach working well for the discovery of particles is, well, a bit of an understatement. You have a 100% hit rate, guaranteed. Even when you decide they don't in fact exist, if you do, you don't lose points. But I don't think I'd get anywhere with it.
John Gillott - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> All you're doing is presenting more-complex external-world scenarios (and you can decide whether to adopt one using evidence and parsimony). You are not presenting a "disembodied and floating mind, alone in a vacuum" scenario, which is the only alternative to external-world scenarios.

But my scenario could be true and while the external world would still exist, Pluto wouldn't.

Some people have suggested that such things are quite likely based on the idea that there's a lot of the future about so a lot of time for humans to perfect these people in pods / simulations.

I am however only musing, and I'm most certainly not endorsing this way of thinking.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:

> I agree to an extent, but question the utility of philosophy once it degenerates into wordplay.

Well the point of philosophy is to find out the truth about our relationship, beliefs and knowledge about ourselves and reality, and the grounds upon which those understandings exist. It really isn't just to make word play, and I'm certainly not interested in doing that for the sake of rhetorical games.

> The one commitment I need to take is to accept the presence of a base reality external to my mental representations. This is easy, and has been dealt with sufficiently by Johnson in his refutation of Berkeley´s immaterialism/solipsism.

Yes, well I'm not sure Johnson's rock was an effective refutation of Berkeley's idealism, but I take the point, but then your point isn't really the focus of my point. Of course we don't restrict ourselves to solipsism, but my interest is in what happens when we make that commitment to reality:
1) What is the relationship of the subjective with reality?
2) Is reality appreciated at all without some kind of a priori abstractive "theory" (inverted commas, because I don't necessarily mean in the formal scientific sense). Another way of putting this is: are "theories" an essential mechanism for orientating our view of reality?
3) Is there a natural inhering between our subjective being and reality that emerges in a pre-higher cognitive fashion, but persists post the acquisition of linguistic ability in all our efforts to acquire knowledge
4) What is the role of tacit knowledge? E.g. see page 3 through to page 9 of:
http://mba.eci.ufmg.br/downloads/dowereally.pdf

> Anyway, the only alternative is to assume that a consistent base reality does not exist. In this case you end up with either solipsism or Arthur Dent´s way of flying (i.e., if you forget about gravity it doesn´t affect you either).

No, that's not the point. What is epistemologically involved in that commitment? What does that mean for how we can know things? Does that automatically disclude the subjective from all further knowledge acquisition? If our knowledge was good enough for such a commitment to reality, why should we reject its persuasiveness? etc

> Once existence of a base reality it is accepted, there is no reason to separate the human brain and the mental states generated by its activity patterns from this physical reality.

Well yes and no. For sure, there is some knowing that does not require a belief in an external reality. So our thoughts are not absolutely a priori a function of intercourse with reality. Also, after establishing a commitment to reality and a scientific type of understanding, the reduction of mind to brain is not necessarily secured by a physical comprehension of brain.

> Of your list of questions I therefore don´t agree that you need a philosophical definition invoking primary concepts to decide what is physical (the start point of this thread once women bishops were dealt with), but instead a robust test that you can apply (in principle) to find out.

I disagree. I think a primary understanding of how we know things is essential to understanding what we can know, and how we can know it. The commitment to reality, especially in the extreme form of establishing objective knowledge that exists independent of our ability to appreciate it, represents an intrinsic self fulfilling mode of accessing reality, a theory which orientates the self in an inherently biased manner and which has the potential to be less revealing than a more open minded approach that recognises our antecedent mechanisms of knowledge acquisition. For example, what I mean by this is that science progresses via an inherently creative process, and where it lacks creativity it lacks progress. For the most part the scientific enterprise occurs through a step-wise logico-deductive manner, however, paradigmatic thinking that moves science and re-orientates our view of reality more markedly occurs through a fundamentally more creative mechanism. That mechanism doesn't occur through the establishment of objective explicit knowledge, but rather a subjective-reality inter-relationship in which one inheres upon the other, understanding it in a creative free-form way that allows a total re-orientation of theory with respect to facts.

> A self consistent TOE would be nice.

It will not happen in my life time, and I would wager it never will.
Jimbo W on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Sure, and the point is that you can rethink and renew any part of it. You don't have to accept any part as fixed and unquestionable.

Rethinking and renewing any part of it doesn't stop it still having the character of a boat, and still requiring initial construction.

Also, how about those non self-referential definitions for "I", "Good" and "Not", which you still haven't proffered. I want to see whether there is any truth in your assertion that everything can be defined, and nothing is axiomatic, primary etc......
Coel Hellier - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Also, how about those non self-referential definitions for "I", "Good" and "Not", which you still haven't proffered.

I was trying to avoid getting into three more words, since the mere word "exist" has led to many hundreds of posts! However, since you insist:

> I

The person speaking.

> Good

What people like.

> Not

Reverses the truth value of a logical statement ("A logical operator that returns a false value if the operand is true and a true value if the operand is false").

Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Good as being equal to 'what people like' is a bit weak, to put it mildly. At the simplest level it runs into problems: e.g. 'Eat up your greens because they're good for you.'
Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: But it is a definition. Unless you think definitions only exist if they're unanimously accepted, which is going to be a little restrictive.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

PS. Staggering to me that someone with your scientific mind can cobble together such a simplistic definition of 'good' when the word has so many meanings, e.g 'works well', 'looks beautiful', 'is of a high level of excellence of its type', 'is morally good/useful to society', 'is honest' etc etc etc. So many completely different meanings, some having not much overlap, if any.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) But it is a definition. Unless you think definitions only exist if they're unanimously accepted, which is going to be a little restrictive.

Sure, it's a definition but it's an incomplete one. So not one that would be accepted by any respectable dictionary publisher.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: So are you agreeing that "good" can be defined?
craigloon - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

But it does capture the subjective nature of the concept...

Separately, I'm not sure why Good is in this list of supposed semantic primes.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

Of course. Have never said otherwise. Most dictionaries do it quite well (there we go again!). But ANY written definition is very difficult.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to craigloon:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>
> But it does capture the subjective nature of the concept...
>
> Separately, I'm not sure why Good is in this list of supposed semantic primes.

Nor am I, really.

But, some uses of 'good' seem far less subjective than others. E.g. We can say that a particular scientific definition of some state of affairs in the universe is a 'good' one, that whole quest being about objectivity.

Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: So you disagree with jimbo that "good" isn't a semantic prime and disagree with coel's definition of it?
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

No, haven't followed the thread, been too busy, sorry (seems to have been about 4 threads anyway). Can't answer that.
craigloon - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

True. (There's another one!)
Sir Chasm - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Quarter pound of pick'n'mix please.
Orgsm on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo
>
> The person speaking.
>

So I am Coel Hellier, no Jimbo, no MG, no John.....hang on a minute

cb294 - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

Sorry, only go time to reply to a few of these points:


> [...]
> .., but my interest is in what happens when we make that commitment to reality:
> 1) What is the relationship of the subjective with reality?

The subjective is constructed from things that physically exist in an external reality and so secondary. The universe would exist without anyone perceiving it.

> 2) Is reality appreciated at all without some kind of a priori abstractive "theory" (inverted commas, because I don't necessarily mean in the formal scientific sense). Another way of putting this is: are "theories" an essential mechanism for orientating our view of reality?

The tools we have to perceive and understand reality have evolved to that function. Interpreting their output of course encompasses implied assumptions about the way these tools work. The key is self consistency of the model generated.

> [...]
>
> It will not happen in my life time, and I would wager it never will.

Unfortunately the first statement is probably true, so there is not much point in taking your bet on the second!


CB
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Good as being equal to 'what people like' is a bit weak, to put it mildly.

I was thinking "succinct and incisive" rather than "a bit weak". ;-)

> At the simplest level it runs into problems: e.g. 'Eat up your greens because they're good for you.'

Because they will lead to a healthy child and the parents "like" their children to be healthy. So it works.

> when the word has so many meanings, e.g 'works well',

"Works in a way that people like."

> 'looks beautiful',

"Is the sort of thing people like looking at."

> 'is of a high level of excellence of its type'

"Is to a standard that people like a lot."

> 'is morally good ...

"People like it."

> ... useful to society',

"People like having it and its consequences."

> 'is honest' etc

People like honesty.

> So many completely different meanings, some having not much overlap, if any.

Really???
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
> [...]
>
> I was trying to avoid getting into three more words, since the mere word "exist" has led to many hundreds of posts! However, since you insist:

> The person speaking.

Which person?

> What people like.

Like Ian Brady?

> Reverses the truth value of a logical statement ("A logical operator that returns a false value if the operand is true and a true value if the operand is false").

To make an appeal to logic vs semantics is to illicit exactly the axiomatic nature of the word. Fine!
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Which person?

The person speaking.

> Like Ian Brady?

I'm sure Ian Brady does have his own opinions on what is "good", yes.

> To make an appeal to logic vs semantics is to illicit exactly the axiomatic nature of the word. Fine!

You've lost me there. How was my definition not a perfectly good definition?
Gordon Stainforth - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Quick lunchtime reply.

>> At the simplest level it runs into problems: e.g. 'Eat up your greens because they're good for you.'

>Because they will lead to a healthy child and the parents "like" their children to be healthy. So it works.

There is a greater good than the parents mere liking it (i,e healthy survival). Which is why they like it, and not the other way round.

>> when the word has so many meanings, e.g 'works well',

>"Works in a way that people like."

Can the DNA double helix be said to work well simply because people (e.g biologists) 'like' it?

>> 'looks beautiful',

>"Is the sort of thing people like looking at."

Do you think natural harmonics would vanish if there were no humans or animals to hear them?

>> 'is of a high level of excellence of its type'

>"Is to a standard that people like a lot."

Again, has the level of excellence of any specimen of any species got anything whatever to do with whether humans happen to like it?

What has the perfection of a spider's web got to do with human beings?

>> 'is morally good ...

>"People like it."

There are an appalling number of cases of people liking things that a larger consensus of people do not like. Breivik obviously liked what he did (and said so).

So, on your theory, how do you judge which person's value judgement is correct?

>> ... useful to society',

>"People like having it and its consequences."

Same as above: that was my (oversimple) definition of that sense of good - which is why I had that forward slash. But, for all its flaws, utilitarianism is a step forward from your definition.

>> 'is honest' etc

>People like honesty.

I think you should ask why people like honesty. Then you will see that without widespread honesty all communication would become completely meaningless i.e. just reduced to 'attractive sounds'. I.e It's a matter of logic rather than taste.

>> So many completely different meanings, some having not much overlap, if any.

>Really???

Yes. Central to philosophical analysis is the ability to make distinctions (as opposed to seeing the world as a matter of crude polarities) - some very subtle. To see that if something is different from something else, it is not the same. Perhaps worth remembering Bishop Butler's adage: "Everything is what it is, and not another thing."
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> There is a greater good than the parents mere liking it (i,e healthy survival). Which is why
> they like it, and not the other way round.

The only sense in which "healthy survival" is a "good" is that parents like it. The "healthy survival" of a smallpox virus infecting a child would not be a "good".

> Can the DNA double helix be said to work well simply because people (e.g biologists) 'like' it?

The word "well" is a value judgement, it does depend on someone "liking" it. If that is not intended, another word, such as "efficiently" or "effectively" should be used.

> Do you think natural harmonics would vanish if there were no humans or animals to hear them?

The question is entirely irrelevant to the question of whether a human likes something and thus labels it "good".

> Again, has the level of excellence of any specimen of any species got anything whatever to
> do with whether humans happen to like it?

Again, what standard of "excellence" are you judging it by? What we're discussing is what humans apply the term "good" to, and they apply that to things they like or approve of or desire or find pleasing (= "like").

> What has the perfection of a spider's web got to do with human beings?

The only reason for a human to apply the term "perfection" is as an emotional response to it.

> There are an appalling number of cases of people liking things that a larger consensus of people
> do not like. Breivik obviously liked what he did (and said so).

Nothing about that negates my definition. You are entirely right that what one person likes another may not; what one person finds "good" another may not. That is entirely consistent with my definition.

> So, on your theory, how do you judge which person's value judgement is correct?

You are assuming that there is an absolute scale of "goodness" against which one can judge something. There isn't, that idea is the biggest red herring in all of philosophy. The question "which person's value judgement is correct?" does not even mean anything. What it attempts to ask is "Which person's judgement comes highest on the Absolute Shouldness Scale?". There is no such scale.

> I think you should ask why people like honesty. Then you will see that without widespread honesty
> all communication would become completely meaningless i.e. just reduced to 'attractive sounds'.
> I.e It's a matter of logic rather than taste.

No, you then simply say that people "like" the possibility of useful communication and would dislike the consequences of "all communication would become completely meaningless".

John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Let's bring God back into it (presuming he ever went away):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma
Gordon Stainforth - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

(Have to go now ... but ..)

You suddenly throw in 'efficiently' or 'effectively', which is nothing to do with whether people happen to like it.

You have missed my last point. It's not about whether people like communication, but whether it's possible. If words become meaningless then verbal communication (i.e. that conveys information) is impossible. Otherwise mere aesthetic oratory - which I think most people won't like, because it means nothing/ is pointless.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Nothing about that negates my definition. You are entirely right that what one person likes another may not; what one person finds "good" another may not. That is entirely consistent with my definition.

Inherent in the intuitive understanding we all have of "good" and its synonym "bad" is clearly an implied scale, they are not absolutes, and if the definition doesn't reveal it, then then the definition is inadequate. This is to be distinguished with "true" and its antonym "false".
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> You suddenly throw in 'efficiently' or 'effectively', which is nothing to do with whether people happen to like it.
> You have missed my last point. It's not about whether people like communication, but whether it's possible. If words become meaningless then verbal communication (i.e. that conveys information) is impossible. Otherwise mere aesthetic oratory - which I think most people won't like, because it means nothing/ is pointless.

I think the problem is that in definitions, Coel sees the opportunity for rhetoric, and not the honest concise, parsimonious articulation of meaning.
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: How many gods?
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John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

They've covered that one
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: No, they haven't. Your link shows that for the sake of the argument the gods (a number of them) were assumed to be unanimous. Then it moves on to the abrahamic religions and assumes one god.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

I'm not suggesting that link clears everything up.

An aspect of the debate on here is (and I paraphrase) 'good because we say so' versus 'we say so because it is good'
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> You suddenly throw in 'efficiently' or 'effectively', which is nothing to do with whether people happen to like it.

Yes, I was contrasting those things with "good".

> It's not about whether people like communication, but whether it's possible. If words
> become meaningless then verbal communication ... is impossible. ... which I think most people won't like ...

Exactly. And it's because they wouldn't like that that they regard honesty in communication as "good".
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: The debate stemmed from jimbo asserting that not all words can be defined, it's now just squabbling about what the definitions are (which seems to tacitly accept that all words can actually be defined).
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Inherent in the intuitive understanding we all have of "good" and its synonym "bad" is clearly an implied scale ...

Sure, and the scale is our opinion, our value judgements. Any idea that there is some absoluteness about such values is delusional.

> I think the problem is that in definitions, Coel sees the opportunity for rhetoric, and not the
> honest concise, parsimonious articulation of meaning.

Quite the opposite: "honest, concise, parsimonious articulation of meaning" is exactly what I'm doing.

John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

No, it's, surprise surprise, the same as the 'exist' discussion: in challenging Coel's attempt to give a definition it can appear as if his critics are accepting that they are in the same game. They're not, or not necessarily - showing a definition fails can be a part of an attempt to show there cannot be a definition. I'm sure you get that really.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> (In reply to John Gillott) The debate stemmed from jimbo asserting that not all words can be defined, it's now just squabbling about what the definitions are (which seems to tacitly accept that all words can actually be defined).

Depends on your standards of definition. If we accept Coel's original standards: no recourse to synonyms or antonyms, and add in the usual requirements, e.g. cannot suffer from the fallacy of a failure to elucidate, of which circularity is only one form, then no, I don't think people are doing much defining.
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: No, you've not kept up. Even in your latest post you accept that a definition has been provided, disagreeing with a definition doesn't show it fails. Or does a definition have to be accepted unanimously for it to be a definition.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

I've not kept up with you not getting it - has that changed?

One issue: people disagree about a definition.

Another issue: some people think some words are basic, that we can intuit a meaning, that we can of course discuss the word (at length), but that that doesn't amount to a definition.

Have I got it?
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: If you tell me what "it" is I may be able to help you.
So, what do you consider to be a definition? Does it require a unanimous acceptance?
What is intuition? To what are you referring? You're applying the term and I wouldn't want to misunderstand you.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

In this case I can help you by pointing to the it that began this part of the discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_primes
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: I point you to my post of 14:31. You've just repeated me after disagreeing. Make your mind up.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

No I haven't - I point you to the posts at 14.35 and 14.36

Careful now, this could turn into a poor copy of a Monty Python sketch
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The person speaking.

This definitely suffers from a failure to elucidate. I haven't a clue what you mean and how that defines the meaning of "I"!!!

> I'm sure Ian Brady does have his own opinions on what is "good", yes.

Which is not the meaning of the word as commonly understood. Furthermore, this suffers from fallacies:
- it is not unlikely that one such nefarious criminal, maybe Brady himself, might define "good" in contradistinction to your "what people like", and furthermore, "people" might object to his inclusion in the set "people"
- "what people like", suffers from vagueness, which people, all people, a certain set of people, a few people, criminal people?
- Brady might define good as "what people don't like", which is why he does it, i.e. "what people who exist (except Brady) don't like, is "good" according to Brady. "People" here is and exclusive set, which is permissable in your poor definition
- Failure to elucidate: I don't like work at the moment, but I can see it is "good"

> You've lost me there. How was my definition not a perfectly good definition?
Okay if I have you right, you are expressing your definition within a logical context:
The truth value of any proposition X can be reversed using the word "not", which produces a new proposition Not(X), so the proposition Not(X) is true if and only if X is false and Not(X) is false only if X is true. So:
X / Not(X)
T / F
F / T

No?

Do not such logical definitions also suffer in the following paradox:
This sentence does *not* exist
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: Yes, you have. I said this part of the debate stemmed from jimbo's assertion that some things can't be defined and now you've provided a link to the semantic prime page (which says some things can't be defined).
Seems more like a pantomime to me.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to John Gillott) Yes, you have. I said this part of the debate stemmed from jimbo's assertion that some things can't be defined and now you've provided a link to the semantic prime page (which says some things can't be defined).
> Seems more like a pantomime to me.

Can I ask the usually brief Sir Chasm to string a few sentences together at this point?

I'm wondering if you are suggesting that pointing to a webpage is a definition of the words that appear on the webpage? Unlikely, but I thought I'd better check.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to John Gillott) Yes, you have. I said this part of the debate stemmed from jimbo's assertion that some things can't be defined

What is your explicit standard for an acceptable definition?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> it is not unlikely that one such nefarious criminal, maybe Brady himself, might define "good" in
> contradistinction to your "what people like"

So what? Him having a different definition to me does not, per se, show any flaw in my definition.

> and furthermore, "people" might object to his inclusion in the set "people" ...

Really???

> "what people like", suffers from vagueness, which people, all people, a certain set of people, a few people, criminal people?

The different sets of people have different opinions on what is "good". So what?

> i.e. "what people who exist (except Brady) don't like, is "good" according to Brady.

Or in other words, Brady likes what other people do not like. So what?

> Failure to elucidate: I don't like work at the moment, but I can see it is "good"

What you mean is that you both like and dislike work, you can see things about it that you like and things you don't like.

Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott: You have. And, no. When I had said the discussion was about semantic primes it was unnecessary to provide the same link that has previously been posted.
Can I ask, again, what you mean by intuition and whether definitions have to be unanimously accepted before they are definitions?
ads.ukclimbing.com
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: Acceptable to whom? Me or you?
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Coel - excuse the laziness and my part and the diversion from what we've moved on to, but can you quickly remind me (us) what your definition of 'meta-exist' is.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to John Gillott) You have. And, no. When I had said the discussion was about semantic primes it was unnecessary to provide the same link that has previously been posted.
> Can I ask, again, what you mean by intuition and whether definitions have to be unanimously accepted before they are definitions?

Let's see if I can get the style right:

No and No
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> Coel - excuse the laziness and my part and the diversion from what we've moved on to, but can you
> quickly remind me (us) what your definition of 'meta-exist' is.

I'm not really defining it. All I'm doing is allowing the possibility that there could "be" (whatever that means) stuff that is causally disconnected from our universe, and giving a term to apply to it.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> Coel - excuse the laziness and my part and the diversion from what we've moved on to, but can you quickly remind me (us) what your definition of 'meta-exist' is.

And the final version or perhaps still beta version of "exist" while we're at it!
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Hang on there - a word you're not defining?!
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> Hang on there - a word you're not defining?!

Yep, and I'm not properly defining it because we're not aware of any stuff to apply it to. There are lots of words that are undefined. Phwobblethwaite for example.
MG - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
There are lots of words that are undefined. Phwobblethwaite for example.

No that's defined. It's a farm where they produce Phwobbles. Everyone knows that.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:


If you're not defining it could we shorten it to 'exists' and be done with it?
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Yep, and I'm not properly defining it because we're not aware of any stuff to apply it to. There are lots of words that are undefined. Phwobblethwaite for example.

You mean like "nothing"?
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Jimbo W) Acceptable to whom? Me or you?

I refer you to my previous question.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> If you're not defining it could we shorten it to 'exists' and be done with it?

No, because that's taken. And I have *partially* defined "meta-exists" to exclude stuff that "exists".

Jimbo> And the final version or perhaps still beta version of "exist" while we're at it!

Exists: Anything that has potential chains of causal connections with our sense data.
Cuthbert on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

In years to come, how would you explain your input of energy into this?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> You mean like "nothing"?

Now "nothing" is a really interesting word! That can lead to really interesting discussions about what does "nothing" mean in the sense of "a universe emerging from nothing". We could start discussing that one, but it could take a few more auto-archivings.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Saor Alba:

> In years to come, how would you explain your input of energy into this?

(1) Fun. (2) A diversion tactic from unpleasant tasks.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> So what? Him having a different definition to me does not, per se, show any flaw in my definition.

It makes the definitions meaningless, like defining "exist" as "all things dependent upon God". If semantics is allowed to be totally relative, then there is no reliable mechanism for communication or discourse of any sort. This is one of my major criticisms of you, in that you choose the terms of your argument by choosing your own meaning for words. A classic example being your teleological:
> Intuition is a set of programming cobbled together by evolution to do a job, namely help us operate in our world.

> Really???

Yes.

> The different sets of people have different opinions on what is "good". So what?

So be more explicit then, e.g. something like:
Good is the same as what all people individually like.
Is that acceptable?

> Or in other words, Brady likes what other people do not like. So what?

Because I guess it would grate with the meaning as understood by most reading this.

> What you mean is that you both like and dislike work, you can see things about it that you like and things you don't like.

No, I mean I dislike work, but I see work as necessary, as I place my duties above my "dislike" of work.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
>
> [...]
>
> No, because that's taken. And I have *partially* defined "meta-exists" to exclude stuff that "exists".
>
> Jimbo> And the final version or perhaps still beta version of "exist" while we're at it!
>
> Exists: Anything that has potential chains of causal connections with our sense data.

That partial definition won't do - if it's nothing more than two words for the same thing we'll get confused. That leaves your other point - it's a un-defined word. Are you usually in the habit of using un-defined words throughout your arguments without flagging up that you're doing so? Were you testing us? Do I get a C- for spotting it at this late stage?
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

A response here please?....

> The person speaking.

This definitely suffers from a failure to elucidate. I haven't a clue what you mean and how that defines the meaning of "I"!!!

> You've lost me there. How was my definition not a perfectly good definition?
Okay if I have you right, you are expressing your definition within a logical context:
The truth value of any proposition X can be reversed using the word "not", which produces a new proposition Not(X), so the proposition Not(X) is true if and only if X is false and Not(X) is false only if X is true. So:
X / Not(X)
T / F
F / T
No?

Do not such logical definitions also suffer in the following paradox:
This sentence does *not* exist
MG - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:
Are you usually in the habit of using un-defined words throughout your arguments without flagging up that you're doing so? Were you testing us? Do I get a C- for spotting it at this late stage?

Several on here have spent three whole threads arguing that some words can't be defined but can still be used, you ignore all this but now start to object to Coel for doing so?!
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> This definitely suffers from a failure to elucidate. I haven't a clue what you mean and
> how that defines the meaning of "I"!!!

I baffled as to what you're baffled by. It seems to me straightforward to define "I" as a word that refers to the person speaking it.

> So:
> X / Not(X)
> T / F
> F / T
> No?

Que?

> Do not such logical definitions also suffer in the following paradox:
> This sentence does *not* exist

The fact that you can produce a paradoxical *sentence* out of the words does not in itself mean that the words are ill-defined. It is easy to produce a nonsense *sentence* out of well-defined words. "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously" is the classic example.
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Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> That leaves your other point - it's a un-defined word. Are you usually in the habit of using un-defined
> words throughout your arguments without flagging up that you're doing so?

I am not using the word "meta-exist" as any part of any *argument* that I am presenting! Sheesh, we went though this exact point extensively over physical v non-physical in the previous incarnations of this thread. I am not basing any argument on or making claims about "non-physical" stuff or "meta-existent" stuff.
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
> Are you usually in the habit of using un-defined words throughout your arguments without flagging up that you're doing so? Were you testing us? Do I get a C- for spotting it at this late stage?
>
> Several on here have spent three whole threads arguing that some words can't be defined but can still be used, you ignore all this but now start to object to Coel for doing so?!

Cough cough - I'm not ignoring this I'm pointing to it!
John Gillott - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:


I know, we're not going to see eye to eye on this. I think you do something with the word 'meta-exist' in your arguments. If you took it out and took out any arguments that relied upon its presence in a sentence I think your argument would come across differently. This points to the tension that I think inevitably exists between words as people usually understand them and the way you sometimes use them. This tension exists whether you know or like it or not and so you end up throwing other words in like 'meta-exist'.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> This is one of my major criticisms of you, in that you choose the terms of your argument by
> choosing your own meaning for words.

If I do that I at least provide the definition.

> you choose the terms of your argument by choosing your own meaning for words. A classic example
> being your teleological: "Intuition is a set of programming cobbled together by evolution to do
> a job, namely help us operate in our world."

That's supposed to be a quick summation of our knowledge on the topic. If you disagree you're welcome to argue the point.

> So be more explicit then, e.g. something like:
> Good is the same as what all people individually like.
> Is that acceptable?

I'd say instead: what one person regards as "good" is what that person likes; what society as a whole regards as "good" is what people on average tend to like. Etc.

> No, I mean I dislike work, but I see work as necessary, as I place my duties above my "dislike" of work.

What you mean is that it is "necessary" to achieve other things you "like". One of the things you "like" is fulfillment of duty.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to John Gillott:

> I think you do something with the word 'meta-exist' in your arguments.

I only refer to the (ill-defined) category "meta-exists" to illustrate what I mean by the (better-defined) category "exists". I'm not actually basing any argument on "meta exists", I could restate any argument without it.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I baffled as to what you're baffled by. It seems to me straightforward to define "I" as a word that refers to the person speaking it.

Speaking what? What person? Does "it"="I", and therefore this a clear failure to elucidate due to circularity?
How is that different from "me" as a word that refers to the person speaking it?
How is the latter to be contrasted with your version with "I"?
What are the explicit reasons why the following sentence is wrong: "You" is the person speaking it?
Why is: "you" is the person saying "I" any less right? Could it have something to do with perspective?

> Que?

T=true F=false

> The fact that you can produce a paradoxical *sentence* out of the words does not in itself mean that the words are ill-defined. It is easy to produce a nonsense *sentence* out of well-defined words. "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously" is the classic example.

This is what you said:
> > Reverses the truth value of a logical statement ("A logical operator that returns a false value if the operand is true and a true value if the operand is false").

Normally I'd agree, but since you've framed your definition within an explicit logical framework, I have no qualms about demonstrating the lack of consistent elucidation of meaning in this way by appeal to a paradox. The paradox jars because we know intuitively what "not" and "exist" mean and we know that this elicits an improper use of the words.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> What you mean is that it is "necessary" to achieve other things you "like". One of the things you "like" is fulfillment of duty.

Yes, and that doesn't make work "good"!
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Speaking what?

The word "I".

> What person?

The one speaking.

> How is that different from "me" as a word that refers to the person speaking it?

The difference is just one of grammar, how it is used in a sentence.

> What are the explicit reasons why the following sentence is wrong: "You" is the person speaking it?

You could define "you" to mean "the person speaking the word", but that would be totally out of accord with how the word is usually used.

> Why is: "you" is the person saying "I" any less right?

Definitions of words are not things that are "wrong" or "right", though they can be more or less in accord with how people use them.

Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

>> What you mean is that it is "necessary" to achieve other things you "like". One of the things you "like" is fulfillment of duty.

> Yes, and that doesn't make work "good"!

Yes it does. Or rather it makes work have "good" aspects to it.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> That's supposed to be a quick summation of our knowledge on the topic. If you disagree you're welcome to argue the point.

In what way is that established knowledge?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> In what way is that established knowledge?

Most ways. If you think that intuition is something other than how I characterised it, you're welcome to argue the case, but surely what I said is standard and accepted biology?
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Most ways. If you think that intuition is something other than how I characterised it, you're welcome to argue the case, but surely what I said is standard and accepted biology?

I wasn't offering an alternative account:
a) I know what it feels like subjectively to have intuition, and note that your account makes no mention of that subjective experience and what it actually does
b) I was asking in what way this was established knowledge, i.e. what is the explicit, vs non-assumptive, physical evidence
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
> >> What you mean is that it is "necessary" to achieve other things you "like". One of the things you "like" is fulfillment of duty.

> Yes it does. Or rather it makes work have "good" aspects to it.

No, you're conflating separate things for the sake of rhetorical success. My duty to my wife and kid, is what I like, and hold dear, I dislike work accepting that it gives me a mechanism to fulfil my duty, but my duty is not synonymous with my work. For example, if I won the national lottery, I would stop this work because of my dislike for it.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> I was asking in what way this was established knowledge, i.e. what is the explicit, vs non-assumptive, physical evidence

As is fairly usual, the evidence isn't one or two pieces of knock-down evidence, it's the accumulation of evidence from the overall picture, and thus hard to summarise. Essentially, everything we know about biology tells us that animal brains are products of Darwinian evolution, there to do a job, and that "intuition" is part of the programming of those brains, programmed into the brain by evolution. There aren't really any alternative or competing accounts.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Definitions of words are not things that are "wrong" or "right", though they can be more or less in accord with how people use them.

Okay, lets try getting this into your recalcitrant brain another way ;)
- "I" is the person speaking it
This implies the requirement for agency, either a participant or a participant and an observer, your definition is not explicit enough to rule either out. Your definition ("I" is the person speaking it) maybe true, but potentially circular, from the point of view of the participant, but false from the point of view of the observer of the participant.
- Furthermore, the definition is not complete, because it begs the question, does "I" exist when the person isn't speaking?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

My claim was that you "like" aspects of the work. You accept that you hold dear "duty to my wife and kid" and you've stated that your work is "necessary" to fulfil that duty. Thus, one aspect of your work that you "like" is that it provides the mechanism for fulfilling what you hold dear.

If you won the national lottery, then you could fulfil that duty in other ways, and your dislike of other aspects of your work would then prevail.

But, in all this, the reason that you hold work as a "good" (your original statement) is that you "like" the fact that it allows you to fulfil your duties. Again, the "good" label derives from a "like", which was my original claim.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> My claim was that you "like" aspects of the work. You accept that you hold dear "duty to my wife and kid" and you've stated that your work is "necessary" to fulfil that duty. Thus, one aspect of your work that you "like" is that it provides the mechanism for fulfilling what you hold dear.
>
> If you won the national lottery, then you could fulfil that duty in other ways, and your dislike of other aspects of your work would then prevail.
>
> But, in all this, the reason that you hold work as a "good" (your original statement) is that you "like" the fact that it allows you to fulfil your duties. Again, the "good" label derives from a "like", which was my original claim.

I'll disagree and leave it here for others to judge (please do), but with one parting comment. As far as I'm concerned the "like" refers to an emotional feeling toward the subject "work". To conflate in the way you're suggesting is to render "like" as a close synonym of "good", and that was ruled out in your original requirements for a useful definition.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Furthermore, the definition is not complete, because it begs the question, does "I" exist
> when the person isn't speaking?

It is a perfectly good definition of what the word "I" means. It would mean the same if the person using it materialised out of the vacuum 10 minutes before saying it and disappeared into thin air 10 minutes afterwards. You are right that it is not a full characterisation of the nature of a "person", but then that wasn't asked for.

You seem to be coming up with very petty excuses for why the definitions aren't entirely reasonable definitions as asked for.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> As is fairly usual, the evidence isn't one or two pieces of knock-down evidence, it's the accumulation of evidence from the overall picture, and thus hard to summarise.

Classic!

> Essentially, everything we know about biology tells us that animal brains are products of Darwinian evolution, there to do a job, and that "intuition" is part of the programming of those brains, programmed into the brain by evolution. There aren't really any alternative or competing accounts.

Come on, this is assumptive and fallacious reasoning!!! How about the hypothesis that evolution has rendered our brains capable of abstraction: intuition is an emergent epiphenomenon of that abstractive ability. Is the capacity to write the equivalent of the works Shakespeare programmed into the brain by evolution? Or is it, the capacity for language, abstraction, reasoning, programmed by evolution nurtured by education, which then brings about such a capacity?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Classic!

Well it's true! Biological phenomena are complex, and the evidence for them is complex. If you'd asked me "what is the evidence that our livers and kidneys are products of evolution?" then the evidence would be the evidence for evolution, which can be summarised but that's hard to do shorter than book length. Your question is similar to that one.

> How about the hypothesis that evolution has rendered our brains capable of abstraction: intuition is
> an emergent epiphenomenon of that abstractive ability.

Even it that is true, it still means that our intuition comes from evolutionary programming.

> Is the capacity to write the equivalent of the works Shakespeare programmed into the brain by evolution?

A lot of the understanding of human nature that underpins those works is indeed programmed into our brains by evolution.

> Or is it, the capacity for language, abstraction, reasoning, programmed by evolution nurtured by
> education, which then brings about such a capacity?

Yes, that as well. Evolutionary programming is a recipe that then plays out through childhood development, learning and socialisation.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Even it that is true, it still means that our intuition comes from evolutionary programming.
> A lot of the understanding of human nature that underpins those works is indeed programmed into our brains by evolution.
> Yes, that as well. Evolutionary programming is a recipe that then plays out through childhood development, learning and socialisation.

You said:
"intuition" is part of the programming of those brains, programmed into the brain by evolution

This explicitly says "intuition" is a facet of the brains programming, which was achieved via evolution. Well I wouldn't dispute that our brains have evolved numerous complex tools, but I deny that it is definitively the case that "intuition" is an established teleological product of evolution. You do not allow for the distinct possibility that there are other cognitive tools programmed by evolution that have resulted in the possibility of "intuition" as an epiphenomenon. It should be possible to show some facts to the contrary, no essay is required! BTW, I'm not saying I know what the answer, just that you assumptively over stated your case, and excluded other reasonable descriptions of what "intuition" is, namely a form of immediate knowledge that does not require explicit reasoning to be subjectively appreciated and utilised.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> You said:
> " "intuition" is part of the programming of those brains, programmed into the brain by evolution"

> You do not allow for the distinct possibility that there are other cognitive tools programmed
> by evolution that have resulted in the possibility of "intuition" as an epiphenomenon.

Even if that were the case, and that intuition were an epiphenomenon, it would still be a product of evolution, which is what I was saying. I actually think that it being merely an epiphenomenon is unlikely, simply because intuition is so useful, that the idea that it was not selected for is implausible. For example, we have an intuitive fear of heights, snakes, etc, which surely shows evidence of past selection.

Can I also point out the context of why I said what I did? I was saying that because intuition was cobbled together by evolution, then it was of dubious reliability beyond what would have been selected for, and thus beyond common situations in our evolutionary past. (Again, there is evidence for this, e.g., our intuition breaks down horribly at speeds comparable to the speed of light, which of course we have never experienced in our evolutionary past; but it works pretty well for speeds that our ancestors did encounter.) Now, if intuition were a mere epiphenomenon, and so was not directly selected for, there is even less reason to regard it as reliable.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> It is a perfectly good definition of what the word "I" means. It would mean the same if the person using it materialised out of the vacuum 10 minutes before saying it and disappeared into thin air 10 minutes afterwards. You are right that it is not a full characterisation of the nature of a "person", but then that wasn't asked for.

What's it got to do with a person materialising out of a vacuum, that's irrelevant, and I haven't complained that this isn't an adequate characterisation of "person", but that your definition isn't explicit enough to define: "I"!!! These are certainly not petty excuses; your definition lacks the elucidation of any meaning of "I". It is neither a sufficient definition, nor is it specific in the form presented. Again, the reasons are:

Your definition: "I" is the person speaking (it)

- This implies the requirement for agency, either a participant or a participant and an observer, your definition is not explicit enough to rule either out. The context of the normal use of the word "I" is when speaking (to one or more people), or writing (to one or more people). There are two polarised possibilities for what your definition might refer to (whatever you want it to), either the participant who is speaking, or the observer(s) who are observing the person speaking. If the former, then the statement has some truth to it. If the latter, that we are observers of the speaker, then "she / he" etc could just as easily be satisfied by such an inexplicit description "...is the person speaking (it)".
- Furthermore, I'm not sure whether or not you want the "it" in there, but, if you do, then the "it" = "the word I", and so the defintion becomes intrinsically circular
- If you don't want the "it" there, then my participant / observer complaint above and the resultant intrinsic lack of specificity in your definition still persists
- Your definition is also intrinsically incomplete, because it begs the question, does "I" exist when the person isn't speaking? Contrast this with your "intuitive" understanding of the word "I" which clearly pertains even in the absence of speech! So your definition fails to elicit this, I would say almost universal, understanding.
- Lastly, your definition elucidates no particular meaning. Put it another way:
If I am puzzled about how the word "I" is used and you tell me it is used to refer to the speaker, you are not adducing a fact. You are attending to my worry by alerting me, using my language, to how the word is used. Andrew Lugg on Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations
What you have done is show me how the word is utilised, but it does not follow that the meaning of the word is elucidated.

Fail, fail, fail! ;)

Okay, I think that's enough of that too, its getting a bit too engrained, my fault I'm sorry for leading this down the garden path. Suffice it to say I think it is quite clear that your definition of "I" does not elucidate the meaning of the word as we know it and intuit it, and it is quite clear why the word is another example of a semantic prime, whether or not you want to believe it.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> ... that you assumptively over stated your case, and excluded other reasonable descriptions
> of what "intuition" is, namely a form of immediate knowledge that does not require explicit reasoning
> to be subjectively appreciated and utilised.

Whence that knowledge, if not evolutionary programming? As I said, there is no alternative and competing account.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Suffice it to say I think it is quite clear that your definition of "I" does not elucidate the meaning
> of the word as we know it

You can say that *you* think that "quite clear". I disagree, I think my definition of the word "I" was entirely clear, and that non of your gobbledegook just above (which I replied to the first time) detracts from that. All you're doing is throwing up a smokescreen of verbiage.

> ... it is quite clear why the word is another example of a semantic prime, whether or not you want to believe it.

You are *STILL* totally misunderstanding that concept! It is *NOT* about words that have no definition, it is about words of which we humans have an intuitive understanding. Those are not the same thing! We can have both an intuitive understanding, AND be able to define it.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> You can say that *you* think that "quite clear". I disagree, I think my definition of the word "I" was entirely clear, and that non of your gobbledegook just above (which I replied to the first time) detracts from that. All you're doing is throwing up a smokescreen of verbiage.

Okay, I'll try one last time:
- your definition is not specific: someone from an audience watching the speaker could think "he" is the person speaking. Whereas the speaker thinks "I" is the person speaking. Your description cannot discriminate between "I", "he", "she" and "you" in this context. Your definition would suffice for all of those words. It is not sufficiently specific

- Your definition is not sufficient to elucidate our intuitive understanding, because while the "I" of the speaker might exist, what of the "I" when the speaker isn't speaking? What of the "I" that creeps into your thoughts? Your definition jars with an "intuitive" subjective understanding of the word "I" which has meaning even in the absence of a speaker or a writer.

- you don't elucidate any meaning in your definition. Full stop.

If I am puzzled about how the word "I" is used and you tell me it is used to refer to the speaker, you are not adducing a fact. You are attending to my worry by alerting me, using my language, to how the word is used. Andrew Lugg on Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations

To explain what that means.. ..all you've done is tell me that "I" refers to the speaker, and nothing about what is meant by the use of the word "I". The point is you can't at least not without recourse to synonyms, which you disallow, so we have no means by which to express our personal sense / intuitive meaning of the word.

> You are *STILL* totally misunderstanding that concept! It is *NOT* about words that have no definition, it is about words of which we humans have an intuitive understanding. Those are not the same thing! We can have both an intuitive understanding, AND be able to define it.

I do understand that perfectly. Indeed it is precisely my point, and that such definitions in such cases are inevitably difficult as a result because intuitive understandings are difficult to express, which is precisely why, for example, in defining the word "exist", the OED makes recourse to synonyms:
To have place in the domain of reality, have objective being.
You started this whole thing off by complaining about PMP's and my use of such unsatisfactory definitions. Sometimes, that unsatisfactory kind of definition is all that can be achieved because of the "semantic prime" or also "primary truth" nature of what is being defined, that prevents a holistic definition that includes an account of meaning from being achieved.
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Even if that were the case, and that intuition were an epiphenomenon, it would still be a product of evolution, which is what I was saying. I actually think that it being merely an epiphenomenon is unlikely, simply because intuition is so useful, that the idea that it was not selected for is implausible. For example, we have an intuitive fear of heights, snakes, etc, which surely shows evidence of past selection.
> Can I also point out the context of why I said what I did? I was saying that because intuition was cobbled together by evolution, then it was of dubious reliability beyond what would have been selected for, and thus beyond common situations in our evolutionary past. (Again, there is evidence for this, e.g., our intuition breaks down horribly at speeds comparable to the speed of light, which of course we have never experienced in our evolutionary past; but it works pretty well for speeds that our ancestors did encounter.) Now, if intuition were a mere epiphenomenon, and so was not directly selected for, there is even less reason to regard it as reliable.
> Whence that knowledge, if not evolutionary programming? As I said, there is no alternative and competing account.

Okay, your example of heights and snakes makes me think we are at cross purposes. I would distinguish "instinct" from "intuition". I do not think they are one and the same. I think you are talking about "instinct", which I understand to be by definition biologically imprinted patterns of behaviour that do not require cognition. I would distinguish "intuition" from "instinct" in saying that "intuition" is an a priori belief about an acquired knowledge that is rooted in experience, that requires cognition, but which cannot be made explicit or be adequately articulated.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> I would distinguish "instinct" from "intuition". I do not think they are one and the same. I think you are
> talking about "instinct", which I understand to be by definition biologically imprinted patterns
> of behaviour that do not require cognition ...

You're right that "instinct" is used more about actions and behaviour and that "intuition" is used more about knowledge, but they're basically the same thing. For example "Her instinct told her that something was wrong", and "Her intuition said that something was wrong" mean much the same thing. Anyhow, my reasoning above applies equally to either.

The idea that intuition is an epiphenomenon and not selected for sounds preposterous to me, as preposterous as asking whether our kidneys are merely epiphenomena. Clearly that is refuted by the fact that we'd die without them. Yet, if you imagine someone with no intuition about dangers or the natural world, no intuition about other people and social interactions, no intuition about language (and so unable to communicate), et cetera, isn't it obvious that they'd be severely disfunctional?
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/98794?redirectedFrom=intuition#eid

This, above, is what I mean by intuition. Do you understand the term differently?
If, not, we'll have to agree to disagree, and I'll stand by my previous comments.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> someone from an audience watching the speaker could think "he" is the person speaking. Whereas the
> speaker thinks "I" is the person speaking. Your description cannot discriminate between "I",
> "he", "she" and "you" in this context.

The word "I" does indeed refer to the person who speaks the word, and that is its meaning. All you are saying here is that there are other words which could, in context, also refer to that same person. So what? That doesn't detract from my definition, any more than the fact that "Fred" or "Our invited guest" or "the tall bloke with the moustache" could also refer to that person.

> - you don't elucidate any meaning in your definition. Full stop.

I'm still baffled as to why not.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> This, above, is what I mean by intuition.

I can't access that link (not being on my university system at the moment), can you quote it?
Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Etymology: French intuition, late or medieval Latin intuition-em , n. of action from intueri to look upon, consider, contemplate, in- (in- prefix) + tueri to look. Compare Latin intuitus.

1. The action of looking upon or into; contemplation; inspection; a sight or view. (= Latin intuitus.) Obs.

2. The action of mentally looking at; contemplation, consideration; perception, recognition; mental view. Obs.

3. The action of mentally looking to or regarding as a motive of action; ulterior view; regard, respect, reference. with intuition to (of) , with reference to; in intuition to, in respect to, in view of, in consideration of. Obs.

4. Scholastic Philos. The spiritual perception or immediate knowledge, ascribed to angelic and spiritual beings, with whom vision and knowledge are identical.

5a. Mod. Philos. The immediate apprehension of an object by the mind without the intervention of any reasoning process; a particular act of such apprehension.
b. Immediate apprehension by the intellect alone; a particular act of such apprehension.
c. Immediate apprehension by sense; a particular act of such apprehension.
Esp. in reference to Kant, who held that the only intuition (anschauung, intuitus) possible to man was that under the forms of sensibility, space, and time.

6. In a more general sense: Direct or immediate insight; an instance of this.
Sir Chasm - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: Has the oed got a definition of "I"?
Orgsm on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
> [...]
>
> You're right that "instinct" is used more about actions and behaviour and that "intuition" is used more about knowledge, but they're basically the same thing. For example "Her instinct told her that something was wrong", and "Her intuition said that something was wrong" mean much the same thing. Anyhow, my reasoning above applies equally to either.
>
>

No they are not.

In a study of monkeys born and bred in captivity a model lion was introduced. They reacted in the same way the same breed of monkeys in the wild would, giving warning calls etc. A model zebra was introduced, again same reaction as seen in the wild. These monkeys had never encountered a lion, or a zebra. They had no data, nor information that would indicate a lion was a danger and a zebra was not. They had no intuition as to how to react because they had no data no information upon which to base it. In contrast they reacted in the same way as they would in the wild. That was instinct and quite different to intuition.

Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

A. pron. The subjective case of the first person singular pronoun.

I. As subject or subject complement.

1. Used by the speaker or writer referring to himself or herself.
a. Generally.
(a) As the subject of predication or in attributive agreement with the subject.
(b) In predicative agreement with the subject.
Now more formal than me pron.1 5d.
b. Premodified by an adjective. Cf. me pron.1 7. Now rare.
c. Used in giving advice (with should or would): ‘I, if I were you (he or she)’.



II. As object of a verb or preposition.

2a. Used for the objective case after a verb or preposition when separated from the governing word by other words (esp. in coordinate constructions with another pronoun and and).
This has been common at various times (esp. towards the end of the 16th and in the 17th cent., and from the mid 20th cent. onwards); it has been considered ungrammatical since the 18th cent.
b. Eng. regional (south-west.). Used as an emphatic objective (in contrast with unemphatic me).
c. Caribbean (orig. and chiefly in Rastafarian usage). Used as a general objective pronoun of the first person: me.


B
1. The pronoun ‘I’ as a word.
2. A self, a person identical with oneself. Chiefly in another I: a second self. Cf. alter ego n. Obs.
3. Metaphysics. The subject or object of self-consciousness; that which is conscious of itself, as thinking, feeling, and willing; the ego.
4. The writer of a literary composition, esp. the narrator of a work of fiction, appearing on his or her own account. Also attrib.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to A Game of Chance:

> They had no intuition as to how to react because they had no data no information upon which to base it.

Hold on, isn't "intuition" knowledge that doesn't derive from information or reasoning? In other words, much the same as "instinct".

Collins English Dictionary, first two meanings:

intuition:
1. knowledge or belief obtained neither by reason nor by perception
2. instinctive knowledge or belief

Jimbo W on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Hold on, isn't "intuition" knowledge that doesn't derive from information or reasoning? In other words, much the same as "instinct".
>
> Collins English Dictionary, first two meanings:
>
> intuition:
> 1. knowledge or belief obtained neither by reason nor by perception
> 2. instinctive knowledge or belief

Well I object to the last part of 1, and 2 isn't particularly revealing, and refers to instinct in its exposition. What room is there for the sense in which Einstein uses the word here:
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Or this use of "intuition" by Einstein:
All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration... ...At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason

Indeed, this brings me right back to topic (I don't mean the bishops) and about time too, apologies to those dismayed by the digression! The reason for my obsession, I mean apart from my OCD, with pinning Mr Hellier down on the inadequacies of his definition "existence" or other definitions which have difficult / impossible to articulate intuitive bases, is because I nevertheless know and trust those meanings, despite the lack of explicit justification by way of reason and ease of exteriorisation (e.g. within definitions). Though I may be being presumptuous, outwith Coel's rhetoric, I don't in general see much cause to question the intuitive understandings I have of those words.

Of semantic primes Coel previously said:
> That seems to be all about *intuition*, as in things that humans have an intuition about. That's a very different issue from how reality is. For example, people also have intuitions about physics; some of the intutions are correct and some of them are not.

The inference being that "intuitions" aren't to be trusted. In many cases I would say the very opposite is true. My conceptual understanding of "existence" and "I" for example are far more meaningful and "real" than that can be articulated by Coel, or expressed in definitions (except by recourse to synonyms, wherein I can appreciate a resonance with my intuitive conceptualisation of the word). So I think intuition is getting a hard time, which is, I believe, as a result of an overconfident scientism that denies the reality of anything that cannot be easily reduced and explained in an atomised way. Whatever the reason, I think intuition deserves more value than is permitted given the the current twisted paradigm of science. Or to put it Einstein's way:
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.

The discussion on "existence" is an interesting one, because Coel's definition...
> Anything that has potential chains of causal connections with our sense data.
...always presumes an element that exists e.g. agency (our) and something called "sense" and "data". So to me, this definition is at the very least recursive, if not circular, in the explicit way that the definition is articulated. If Coel wants to describe a process, such as might occur during childhood, then his definition needs to be more explicit and expanded. Coel says:

> At root we have sense data and experiences. All attributions of "being" are best attempts to make sense of that. We can make hypotheses, then test them. We attribute "being" to an external world because that makes sense of our sense data and experiences. We can then go further and ask how far we should attribute "being".

My answer to this is two-fold.
1) If we are in a position to explicitly rationalise and attribute being, then we have a certain developed form of cognitive ability, and as such we can deduce that sense data is exterior to our own being. But, from the child psychological point of view, solipsism comes before a recognition that the objects in the exterior world are real.
2) If we do not have a developed form of cognitive ability, we are not necessarily in a position to attribute "being" or "existence" to anything because we lack the tools to reason and judge such things.

My view is that Coel is right in one aspect: "sense data" is crucial for us to come to a realisation of the reality of the outside world. However, this doesn't happen in the sense implied by his definition. Rather, it happens in the absence of reason, in the absence of an abstractive sense of causation, that is to say "intuitively" or via "tacit knowledge" as distinct from explicit knowledge. Our subjective selves and our primitive sense of being and pre-linguistic concepts begin intuitively to contextualise the reality appreciated by our senses, such that the sense we have of reality inheres in our being, and we attribute to it that which we feel we possess, "being". Our primary commitment to reality is one which is intuitive and pre-logical involving an inviolable coordination between our subjective being and the reality outwith that we imbue with being and therefore meaning and that moves us from solipsism. The attribution of being to the world around us is what makes science possible (as was described in that long Einstein quote). In this context, Einstein's quote takes on new meaning:
All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration... ...At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason
Which is to say that we know more than we can tell about reality, just as we know more than we can tell about some very basic concepts that we find difficult / impossible to articulate in non-self referential terms. All this puts a much higher value on intuition that is not historic, as Christian would have it (reject solipsism once and move on), but rather our commitment to reality has a locus of reference in ourselves that is always present, and is always involved in a pre-rational appreciation of reality.

Whether I have achieved what I set out to at all I don't know, but I merely wanted to place the faculties of mind, and intuition and the very great things that they allow us to do on a far higher footing with respect to the prevalent insistence that knowledge is only knowledge when it is objectified, codified, and communicably agreed upon. I recognise these requirements in the scientific process, but like Einstein, I think that that is a very perverted unrealistic account of how we "know" anything about reality and how science should really work. I hope I haven't totally failed!!!

That'll be me until Saturday..... ......feel free to have a decent chew, and please not just for the sake of a bit of rhetoric, try to explore these ideas a little!

One last set of questions from this:
1) What comes first, theory or observation?
2) The obvious answer appeals to observation, but is it really so?
3) Can we make any sense of reality without first having an abstractive theory? This might not be in the explicit objective sense, but at the very least a basic idea about how reality is at the point we start to delve deeper.
4) Therefore, what is theory? Does is have a more basic sense than that commonly used in the formal scientific sense?
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

And one final punctuation from Einstein:
The supreme task of the physi­cist is to arrive at those uni­versal ele­men­tary laws from which the cosomos can be built up by pure deduc­tion. There is no log­ical path to these laws; only intu­ition, resting on sym­pa­thetic under­standing of expe­ri­ence, can reach them.
cb294 - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)

>
> The discussion on "existence" is an interesting one, because Coel's definition...
> [...]
> ...always presumes an element that exists e.g. agency (our) and something called "sense" and "data". So to me, this definition is at the very least recursive, if not circular.....

What is wrong with using recursive definitions in philosophy? They are, as far as I undrstand, commonly used in mathematics, and the key requirement for their acceptance is self-consistency and consistency with other theories.

CB
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:

> What is wrong with using recursive definitions in philosophy? They are, as far as I undrstand, commonly used in mathematics, and the key requirement for their acceptance is self-consistency and consistency with other theories.

Coel's definition:
> Anything that has potential chains of causal connections with our sense data.

Depends what you are trying to do by using your definition, doesn't it?! For Coel's definition, the base set establishes "exists" (because they are necessary components of having sense data and the agency by which the senses are digested). The recursion only modifies what is in the set "exists" by further cycles of subjective processing of our "sense data", and an additional emergent appreciation of things in the set "exists" that are causally linked. So as a modifier of an established concept, such a definition might be functionally useful as I have already said numerous times. What this kind of definition doesn't do is establish a definition of "exists" that doesn't have some grounding in itself.
Coel Hellier - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

Short(-ish) answer to a long post:

I'm not denying a role for intuition, I think we need to combine intuition, reason and evidence. (Einstein is correct to say that you'd get nowhere with only one of those.) But: intuition alone is unreliable. As I've said, it is cobbled together by evolution and will be reliable for the sort of knowledge relevant to our ancestors' survival, and very unreliable for other types of knowledge. For example, quantum mechanics and relativity are highly counter-intuitive; we only accept them because of adding in evidence and reason, not relying on intuition alone.

Second, while we do use intuition in building our ideas and theories, I deny that there is a necessary primary grounding that we cannot question. As in my "floating boat" metaphor, I argue that we can question and renew any part of the worldview (using intuition, reason and evidence to do so). You can then "reprogram" your intuition in the light of evidence and reason (that is what a lot of a physicist's training is about). Questioning even our primary intuitions is valid and proper and is what academia is all about.
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I'm not denying a role for intuition, I think we need to combine intuition, reason and evidence. (Einstein is correct to say that you'd get nowhere with only one of those.) But: intuition alone is unreliable. As I've said, it is cobbled together by evolution and will be reliable for the sort of knowledge relevant to our ancestors' survival, and very unreliable for other types of knowledge.

Can I ask, what do you think intuition is from the 1st person perspective? I do not agree that it is established that intuition is a direct function of evolutionary programming, whereas I think instinct is. Do you not make that distinction, because from the sense and context in which he uses it, I am pretty convinced that Einstein is not using the word in the sense of "instinct". I think this is a fairly modern conflation of words, which I agree is pretty common, but I don't think its very helpful.

Also, what is unreliable about intuition? What do you think it really is, when you pin it down that makes it so unreliable? I mean, intuition for me could be all but perfect at "seeing" reality for what it is in a naive way, but our ability to then rationalise what is intuited and then articulate it is where the real imperfections arise. That is to say there is a natural coordination and inherence of the sensation of reality and the mind that appreciates it. We are fundamentally coordinated with reality, and we know more than we can tell. The problem is that those intuitions do not necessarily fit with our established cognitive abstractions and theories about reality, and nor with our imperfect linguistic abstraction, so both rationalisation and articulation of what is intuited is extremely difficult or close to impossible. This is exacerbated by the intrinsic difficulty of "unknowing" the constructed abstracted view of reality that we have built up. I think that these are the very reasons for the phenomenon that is elicited in our inability to articulate the meaning of the word "existence" or the word "I" in a non tautological / recursive / circular manner. Of coursem, the consequences of this are still pretty similar, because we still necessarily need objective approaches to help establish secure knowledge. However, I believe that if I am right, then the fact it is difficult to re-think our constructed abstractive knowledge of reality, embodied in theories that are mentally accepted, in addition to the intrinsic paradigmatic conservatism in the scientific discipline, creates an overall large resistance to scientific progress.

> For example, quantum mechanics and relativity are highly counter-intuitive; we only accept them because of adding in evidence and reason, not relying on intuition alone.

I disagree completely. They are counter to expectancy given the intrinsic assumptions and established basis in the theories of a temporal scientific paradigm - and rather how those things are held onto within the mind. That isn't intuition, indeed its the very thing that resists intuition. The real basis for those theories is precisely to be found in the context of intuition and a liberal acceptance of the value of a coordination between our mind and reality, which as you rightly say does not necessarily mean that they have to be correct, because of the difficulties we have of conceiving new abstractions of reality and articulating them.

> Second, while we do use intuition in building our ideas and theories, I deny that there is a necessary primary grounding that we cannot question.

You can question it, but it won't do any good, because it is about a cognitive ability that is pre-rational, pre-logical, and inherently about the coordination of the mind with reality. You can change your abstractions and constructed theories of reality in your mind, but you cannot alter the propensity of your mind to intuit, and coordinate itself with the senses we have of reality. What you can do is alter your openness to such fleeting intuitive ideas of reality by allowing the frequent remodelling of established abstractive constructs that we have of reality, to allow an intuitive "fit" to emerge and be expressed in a new hypothesis.
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to the thread:

> That'll be me until Saturday..... ......feel free to have a decent chew, and please not just for the sake of a bit of rhetoric, try to explore these ideas a little!

Temptation got the better of me... oh well!! I hope I haven't killed off this thread - that would be sad. Would be great to hear more from Christian (cb294), Richard J, Tim Chappell, Gordon Stainsforth, John Gillott, MG, PMP, Sirchasm, Coel, Robert Durran etc. And anyone any views on the following:

> One last set of questions from this:
> 1) What comes first, theory or observation? The obvious answer appeals to observation, but is it really so?
> 2) Can we make any sense of reality without first having an abstractive theory? This might not be in the explicit objective sense, but at the very least a basic idea about how reality is at the point we start to delve deeper.
> 3) Therefore, what is theory? Does is have a more basic sense than that commonly used in the formal scientific sense?
Coel Hellier - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Can I ask, what do you think intuition is from the 1st person perspective?

It is basic ways in which we think, ways in which our brains think that are part of the basic programming of those brains (of course "programming" here refers to the patterns of the neural network). I regard it as pretty much the same as instinct.

> Do you not make that distinction ...

No, I don't see why it is helpful.

> Also, what is unreliable about intuition? What do you think it really is, when you pin it down
> that makes it so unreliable?

As above: Intuition is part of our basic evolutionary programming; it is unreliable because evolution cobbles things together to do a job, and evolution will only have done that job w.r.t. situations that our ancestors will have encountered and which were relevant to their survival and procreation.

> I mean, intuition for me could be all but perfect at "seeing" reality ...

Now explain why animals just happen to have this "all but perfect" ability. Unless you're invoking the supernatural, that is totally unmotivated. Animals are products of evolution. "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." If you have some other conception of what intuition is or where it comes from then you're welcome to argue for it, but I'd suggest that most biologists would accept my suggestion. There aren't any alternative suggestions.

My account: Intuition is instinct, programmed into us by evolution. That explains both what it is and why we have it.

Your account: ?

cb294 - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

I´ll try and be back on the thread when finished with my teaching duties. At the moment I have to prevent a horde of students from stabbing themselves in the eye while dissecting testes out of fruit flies.

Cheers,

CB
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to cb294:

> I´ll try and be back on the thread when finished with my teaching duties. At the moment I have to prevent a horde of students from stabbing themselves in the eye while dissecting testes out of fruit flies.

Doing similar with Xenopus got my wife the nickname "sperm queen"... ...I kid you not.
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> As above: Intuition is part of our basic evolutionary programming; it is unreliable because evolution cobbles things together to do a job, and evolution will only have done that job w.r.t. situations that our ancestors will have encountered and which were relevant to their survival and procreation.

"Cobbles" sounds pejorative.. ..is it meant to be?

Previously I said:
1) The coherence between mind and our apparent ability to understand the universe that might suggest an inherent frame of reference that has a basic coherence with physical law.. ..i.e. physical law is a representation of mind.

To which you replied:
> The fact that our minds cohere to the material universe is straightforwardly explained by our minds being the product of the material universe, a product of evolution that has programmed our minds to model the world around us as a survival tool. Given that, I don't see that concordance as evidence for anything "non-physical", indeed quite the opposite.

You can't have it both ways! You can't appeal to the inevitable high performance of mind by recourse to the process of evolution when diminishing what I see as the remarkable concordance between reality and our ability to comprehend it, and then flip to the inevitable inadequacies of mind with respect to intuition, and what you assert is the evolutionary programming that causes both!

So which is it, were the limited experiences of our ancestors insufficient for the remarkable development of the mind, or was mind a product of evolution that has a remarkable ability to cohere with and understand reality?
Coel Hellier - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> "Cobbles" sounds pejorative.. ..is it meant to be?

No, it's not supposed to be perjorative, it's supposed to be realistic. The things evolution cobbles together do a good job, at the job they are cobbled together to do.

> You can't have it both ways! You can't appeal to the inevitable high performance of mind by recourse
> to the process of evolution when diminishing what I see as the remarkable concordance between
> reality and our ability to comprehend it, and then flip to the inevitable inadequacies of
> mind with respect to intuition, and what you assert is the evolutionary programming that causes both!

Oh yes I can have it both ways! Evolution will have done a good job at programming our intuition about the things that were relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation, and it will likely have done a very unreliable job in programming our intuition about anything else.
cb294 - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

Nice!

CB
Jimbo W on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Oh yes I can have it both ways! Evolution will have done a good job at programming our intuition about the things that were relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation, and it will likely have done a very unreliable job in programming our intuition about anything else.

So how do you explain the strong concordance between our minds and reality, even to the point of elucidating a reality that is so "deep"? Why should our minds have that faculty?
Coel Hellier - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

>> Oh yes I can have it both ways! Evolution will have done a good job at programming our intuition
>> about the things that were relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation, and it will
>> likely have done a very unreliable job in programming our intuition about anything else.

> So how do you explain the strong concordance between our minds and reality, even to the point of
> elucidating a reality that is so "deep"? Why should our minds have that faculty?

"... Evolution will have done a good job at programming our intuition about the things that were relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation ...". Reality was relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation. What's the problem?
Jimbo W on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Oh yes I can have it both ways! Evolution will have done a good job at programming our intuition about the things that were relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation, and it will likely have done a very unreliable job in programming our intuition about anything else.

So that basis, there is a presumably coherent to believe that ubiquitous religious thinking evolved because of a reality they inhere to?
Rob Exile Ward on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: I've stayed out of this but that is a total non-sequitor. You're saying that there is there must be a 'reality' to religion because so many people have believed in religion.

Religion is a construct that the mind creates to try and establish order on a seemingly chaotic (and mostly hostile) universe. It is an artefact, a by product if you like, of the evolutionary advantageous impulse to try and 'understand' - what is over the next hill, why that animal moves there, why that plant grows there, where does this river go, what is that other fellow thinking - and so on.

It's an unfortunate by-product of usually constructive brain activity in the same way that a moth's behaviour around a flame is a (usually terminal) by-product of its 'normal' navigational behaviour.
cb294 - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

No, but the facility to evolve religious thought must be advantageous in some context and this is what selected for. To crudely simplify, a certain willingness to bow to authority certainly helps: The Homo erectus child that listened to Daddy erectus and did shut up when hiding in the cave also did not get eaten by the sabre toothed lion.

Similarly, rituals are clearly beneficial for the coherence of groups, so a predisposition that allows humans to value ritual can again assumed to have been selected for. This list can probably be extended endlessly.

This does not mean that god(s) are likely to exist, but simply that traits favouring a belief in them has (or at least had at some point during our evolultion) a positive effect on survival and is thus seleceted for.

CB
Coel Hellier - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> So that basis, there is a presumably coherent to believe that ubiquitous religious thinking evolved
> because of a reality they inhere to?

In the case of, say, a lion that can eat you, having a bad opinion about the existence of the lion would clearly be selected against. (Indeed, further, since the "cost" of mistakenly thinking there is a lion in the long grass would be less than the cost of overlooking a lion in long grass, we would expect humans to have been programmed to be over-prone to discerning relevant patterns in noise -- and indeed we are).

But, if something does not exist (say a god), then the costs and benefits of believing in such a being are less clear cut. To zeroth order, such belief gains and costs nothing. However, you might have the "cost" of performing religious rituals and sacrifices, while you might have benefits relating to increased personal motivation or increased social standing and social control, and these might outweigh the costs.

Whichever way that goes, one cannot just assume that religious thinking being common means that it must correspond to reality. Human nature is not that simple.
Coel Hellier - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

Anyhow, Jimbo, reading your thoughts on intuition I think I see why we disagree. You are (or seem to be!) seeing intuition as some sort of "direct line" to reality that gives us insights we cannot improve upon, and thus is a primary and basic founding of our other knowledge.

I see "intuition" as just another cobbled-together aspect of biology that is not necessarily reliable and not any more primary and basic than anything else, except in the sense that we have to use it as a starting point. We can though (as in my floating boat) fully rethink and replace the "intuition" part of our world view. Another analogy that makes this point is that intuition is like scaffolding. The scaffolding may be a necessary part of constructing a building, but it is not a necessary part of the final building.
Tim Chappell - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
>

Religion is a construct that the mind creates to try and establish order on a seemingly chaotic (and mostly hostile) universe. It is an artefact, a by product if you like, of the evolutionary advantageous impulse to try and 'understand' - what is over the next hill, why that animal moves there, why that plant grows there, where does this river go, what is that other fellow thinking - and so on.


The fact (if it is a fact) that religion is evolutionarily advantageous in and of itself does nothing whatever to undermine religion.

Believing that 2 + 2 is 4, and that other people exist, is (I dare say) evolutionarily advantageous. That fact isn't even the beginning of a case for denying that 2 + 2 is 4 or that other people exist.

So whose are the non sequiturs here?
Coel Hellier - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> The fact (if it is a fact) that religion is evolutionarily advantageous in and of itself does
> nothing whatever to undermine religion.

It does offer an alternative account as to why people believe it, and thus it does undermine the argument that "people believe in god, therefore god likely exists", which is essentially the only argument for god that you've ever put forward.
Tim Chappell - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:


I've never said that. Nor have I ever said essentially that. And I certainly haven't put forward just one argument.

But don't let me spoil your fun; you go on making things up that have no basis in reality or the evidence.
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MJ - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:

go on making things up that have no basis in reality or the evidence.

Isn't that how religion started in the first place?

:)
Coel Hellier - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> I've never said that. Nor have I ever said essentially that.

Your only main argument has been that people think they experience god, and you claim this as evidence for god's existence.
Tim Chappell - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:


You can't see the difference between believing and experiencing, then?
Coel Hellier - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> You can't see the difference between believing and experiencing, then?

The whole point is that they merge into each other. Believing merges into believing that one is experiencing. Indeed, much of religious ritual and practice is designed to blur those two.

That is why it is important to gain corroboration of the sort not susceptible to wishful thinking; hence, when people really want a true answer (e.g. medical trials) they use double-blind techniques.
craigloon - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
>
>
> You can't see the difference between believing and experiencing, then?

Let us accept, for a moment, your premise that all these people through the millennia experienced god rather than believed they experienced god.

Clearly they experienced this in different ways. Some saw visions of the Virgin, others saw their prayers to Wotan answered, etc etc.

Firstly, how do we distinguish the ones that had an "authentic" experience from those that thought they did?

Furthermore, as a Christian, presumably you believe that only the Christian experience of god is "authentic"." Yet if you dismiss the many billions of Hindus who have for millennia believed they were communing with their gods, are you not guilty of the same thing that you accuse atheists on this forum of doing?


Jimbo W on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

The question was meant to be provocative and elicit yet another teleologically argued justification of what you think evolution produces. The point is you can argue it does anything, but in the absence of physical evidence, all it really is is an idea, and an expression of your wishful thinking!
Rob Exile Ward on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: That's not really true, is it? There's plenty of physical evidence of evolution, in the sense that there are many many phenomena - from sexual reproduction to opposing thumbs - which natural selection and evolution can explain. It is wilful to refuse to extrapolate the evidence we can see with our eyes - the development of eyes, tails, limbs, digestive systems - to the developement of things that (mostly) we can't - mental processes.
Jimbo W on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Explain in what way? The problem here are historical inferences being used to justify a presently observed phenomena. Evolution gives us carte blanc to reduce complex phenomena by appeal to attractive ideas and supposition. It's not provable, not falsifiable and as Coel clearly shows permits a flexibility to choose the evolutionary history that suits. I'm not denying evolution, I'm denying the universality of its explanatory power in biology given its historical nature, especially when applied to complex behavioural phenomena.
Coel Hellier - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Evolution gives us carte blanc to reduce complex phenomena by appeal to attractive ideas and supposition.
> [...] as Coel clearly shows permits a flexibility to choose the evolutionary history that suits.

This isn't at all a fair summary. Evolution does not provide a "carte blanc" explanation -- only a narrow range of things will actually be in accord with evolution, and thus be explainable by it.

The idea that our brain's basic programming will have been produced by natural selection to match the parts of reality relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation is not at all arbitrary, but is actually highly constrained.
Jimbo W on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> This isn't at all a fair summary. Evolution does not provide a "carte blanc" explanation -- only a narrow range of things will actually be in accord with evolution, and thus be explainable by it.
> The idea that our brain's basic programming will have been produced by natural selection to match the parts of reality relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation is not at all arbitrary, but is actually highly constrained.

Okay, it was a pretty ruthless description, but I'm not so sure it's unfair. In what way is intuition definitively resolvable to instinct? In what way is such intuition resolvable to the brain's evolutionary programming, especially in terms of the unit(s) of inheritance, in a definitively historically verifiable and physically evidential manner? In that sense the constraints are limited.
Coel Hellier - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> In what way is intuition definitively resolvable to instinct?

The only explanation we have for our brains and our brains' basic programming is as the product of evolution. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. You seem to be proposing some perhaps semi-mystical or semi-magical alternative account of intuition, yet you never say what it is or why our brains have come to think like that. The onus really is on you, if you have some alternative non-evolutionary account for basic aspects of human beings, to provide your evidence. So far -- in typical theological style -- it seems to be just a wishful hope for some alternative, maybe hoping that intuition is a direct line to god, the sensus divinitatis beloved of theologians.

In the absence of very strong evidence of such a thing, doubting that intuition/instinct is evolutionary programming is as ridiculous as doubting that our livers or kidneys or immune system are the products of evolutionary programming.
Coel Hellier - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

I should have added, regarding your request for me to provide evidence. I did mention a couple of pieces above, but you said it was about "instinct" and not "intuition". I don't know the difference (as far as I'm aware they are the same thing), but if you want me to give evidence specifically about "intuition" not "instinct", can you first give me a method of deciding what is which?
Jimbo W on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The only explanation we have for our brains and our brains' basic programming is as the product of evolution. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. You seem to be proposing some perhaps semi-mystical or semi-magical alternative account of intuition, yet you never say what it is or why our brains have come to think like that. The onus really is on you, if you have some alternative non-evolutionary account for basic aspects of human beings, to provide your evidence. So far -- in typical theological style -- it seems to be just a wishful hope for some alternative, maybe hoping that intuition is a direct line to god, the sensus divinitatis beloved of theologians.

Do not try and paint me as some sort of evolution denier. Nothing I have said supports that, and I notice that you did not answer the question put to you. What I reject is the liberality in the assertions of teleological purposive accounts of why evolution did what it did back in the day, e.g. regarding the historical human tendency toward religiosity.

Regarding the brain, and its basic structure, I would absolutely agree it has been developed and altered during the process of evolution. What I flatly disagree with is the idea that *all* brain programming is resolvable to innate, natally present, genetically determined brain states. That is to say, that I don't think intuition is a clear function of the brain's *basic* programming, in a way that I think instinct is. Rather I think the brain has the *capacity* for intuition, but intuition itself can only arise as a function of an integration of our sense of reality. Most of what we sense in the brain we are not focally aware of, that is to say, the brain is integrating huge amounts more data than we are only subsidiarily aware of.

> In the absence of very strong evidence of such a thing, doubting that intuition/instinct is evolutionary programming is as ridiculous as doubting that our livers or kidneys or immune system are the products of evolutionary programming.

I reject the "intuition / instinct" grouping. See my OED definitions above. They are not the same as instinct, turtles marching straight for the sea on birth etc
Coel Hellier - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> What I flatly disagree with is the idea that *all* brain programming is resolvable to innate, natally
> present, genetically determined brain states.

Obviously not. However, our brains do develop to a genetic recipe, and that recipe plays out in the natural environment. But, if our ability to comprehend nature is not a product of that genetic recipe (and its playing out), then where does it come from and why do we have it?
Jimbo W on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Obviously not. However, our brains do develop to a genetic recipe, and that recipe plays out in the natural environment. But, if our ability to comprehend nature is not a product of that genetic recipe (and its playing out), then where does it come from and why do we have it?

Well yes, and we dance to the merry tune of our sun, and everything existent is just the playing out of some historic quantum fluctuations in a false vacuum... ...which really isn't to say that much. A "recipe" has an end in mind. Intuition, in the sense Einstein uses it, is not about *basic programming*, though it clearly rests on basic functions and plasticity of what is a highly developed organ. So stop trying to drive a wedge were there isn't a need. Various cancers are a product of that genetic recipe too.

> "... Evolution will have done a good job at programming our intuition about the things that were relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation ...". Reality was relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation. What's the problem?

Yes reality was relevant, having the abstract and intuitive ability to arrive at special relativity... ...nah. And, if that coherence between mind and reality is so basic and inevitable, why can we still not articulate and define the concept of existence, being etc, afterall, that is just to express a very basic facet our place within reality?
MJ - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

why can we still not articulate and define the concept of existence, being etc, afterall, that is just to express a very basic facet our place within reality?

I find it relatively simple to define my existence. Upon conception I started to exist, when I die and my body rots to nothingness I will cease to exist.
Jimbo W on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to MJ:

> I find it relatively simple to define my existence. Upon conception I started to exist, when I die and my body rots to nothingness I will cease to exist.

All very wonderful, but you haven't defined existence or any concept like it.
craigloon - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

>> "... Evolution will have done a good job at programming our intuition about the things that were relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation ...". Reality was relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation. What's the problem?

> Yes reality was relevant, having the abstract and intuitive ability to arrive at special relativity... ...nah. And, if that coherence between mind and reality is so basic and inevitable, why can we still not articulate and define the concept of existence, being etc, afterall, that is just to express a very basic facet our place within reality?


May I quote Einstein back at you?

"A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. That means it is not reached by conscious logical conclusions. But, thinking it through afterwards, you can always discover the reasons which have led you unconsciously to your guess and you will find a logical way to justify it. Intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience."
Jimbo W on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to craigloon:

> May I quote Einstein back at you?
>
> "A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. That means it is not reached by conscious logical conclusions. But, thinking it through afterwards, you can always discover the reasons which have led you unconsciously to your guess and you will find a logical way to justify it. Intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience."

Now you're getting it! Not conscious logical conclusions, but a synthesis and ordering of unconscious intellectual experience!

craigloon - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

Why can't our ability to do this (think unconsciously) be a result of evolutionary processes (ie natural selection)?
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Coel Hellier - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> A "recipe" has an end in mind.

Yes, the genetic recipe "has in mind" a functioning adult human that will survive and procreate. Our ability to understand reality comes from the playing out of that recipe. Thus it will be the product of natural selection, tweaking of genes to produce a better and better understanding of reality -- but only the reality that was relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation would have resulted in natural selection. If you have some other account of where intuition comes from then please tell us about it.

> Yes reality was relevant, having the abstract and intuitive ability to arrive at special relativity... ...nah.

Sure, but evolution produces a mental toolkit, and it is not surprising that that toolkit can also be turned to other tasks beyond survival/procreation, it's just that we should get progressively more cautious about the reliability of intuition the further we get from its naturally selected grounding.

> And, if that coherence between mind and reality is so basic and inevitable, why can we
> still not articulate and define the concept of existence, being etc

Because an intuitive understanding of "existence" is entirely adequate for survival and procreation. An ability to articulate and define it is not. As I keep saying to you, we have good reason to expect our brain's programming to be reliable -- about items relevant to our ancestors' survival and procreation. But we have no reason to think so beyond that, except as spandrels.
MG - on 13 Dec 2012
Found this by accident last night. Perhaps relevant to these threads.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stHkOpcDUig
Tony Naylor on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
You know, Coel, sometimes I think you should just take one for the team and find Jesus in your heart. Then we may see the tides of UKC religious claptrap ease a bit.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Excellent! -- I don't think we've ever got as far as *two* auto-archivings!

Well, we're now at *three* auto-archivings including the should faith be respected thread! Let see if we can keep it clean. So continuing on from:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=530126

So Coel, I want to ask you again...

> When in this process do you form and securely justify the concept of evidence that you can
> then use to evaluate what you sense so as to call it "material"?

> Again, it's all through the process. Constructing a worldview is not a series of neat discrete steps, it's a process of revision and improvement. Your questions amount to asking how the scientific worldview has emerged and developed over 500 or more years.

What process? We're talking about *your* appeal to evidentialism, *your* appeal to sense data as corresponding to matter and causation between it, and what primary theories *you* use to justify what is and isn't evidence, and how *you* came to that theory of justification. Any talk of process and worldviews emerging over 500 or more years are irrelevant, either this kind of commitment to reality has some basis of justification (if so describe the detail), or it has to be based on basic axiomatic beliefs. You're being incredibly evasive!
MG - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> What process? We're talking about *your* appeal to evidentialism, *your* appeal to sense data as corresponding to matter and causation

Ah good! I wanted to know how this is not questioning that people see something real as you claimed on the other thread?
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> Ah good! I wanted to know how this is not questioning that people see something real as you claimed on the other thread?

Are you defining real only as that pertaining to "physical matter"?
Sir Chasm - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: What else are you suggesting there is?
MG - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> Are you defining real only as that pertaining to "physical matter"?

What is non-physical matter. If you mean , say, light, then no.

Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> What is non-physical matter. If you mean , say, light, then no.

I just want to know what you mean by real when you say this:
> Ah good! I wanted to know how this is not questioning that people see something real as you claimed on the other thread?
MG - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: I was responding to your statement "...your appeal to sense data as corresponding to matter and causation..", which suggests you think what we see etc is not real.

Yet when I pointed out that this isn't actually something anyone truly doubts with the Feynman link, you seemed deny that you meant what we see isn't real. I am puzzled to know what you think is going on.
Coel Hellier - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> What process? We're talking about *your* appeal to evidentialism, *your* appeal to sense data as
> corresponding to matter and causation between it, and what primary theories *you* use to
> justify what is and isn't evidence, and how *you* came to that theory of justification.

I don't see how I can answer that except by pointing to my growing up and education, and my thinking about it in adult life and as a scientist studying the universe.

As I said, coming to a world view is not a series of neat, discrete steps, where you tick off one item and then use it to move on to another, it is a process of revision and improvement.

My evaluation of what counts as evidence, what exists, etc, is thus all an end-product of that on-going educational process.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Jimbo W) I was responding to your statement "...your appeal to sense data as corresponding to matter and causation..", which suggests you think what we see etc is not real.
>
> Yet when I pointed out that this isn't actually something anyone truly doubts with the Feynman link, you seemed deny that you meant what we see isn't real. I am puzzled to know what you think is going on.

Can you answer the question please? I don't deny reality, I just don't pre-suppose its character, e.g. Tegmark's "there is only mathematics; that is all that exists". I want to know what is involved in terms of knowledge, tacit knowledge, theory, and axioms in the adoption of a primary orientation to reality involves, and how that might affect the way you see reality as characterised.
Sir Chasm - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: Do you think there is something other than matter? If so, what?
MG - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> Can you answer the question please?

Well not really until your answer mine!

I don't deny reality,

Good. You seemed to be with your original post.

I just don't pre-suppose its character,


Well no, nor does anyone. Which is why we have science.

I want to know what is involved in terms of knowledge, tacit knowledge, theory, and axioms in the adoption of a primary orientation to reality involves, and how that might affect the way you see reality as characterised.

@?@%$£@????

Wonko The Sane - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:
Back when I was a novice sailor, I was taking a small yacht from one place to another. I saw in the distance..... perhaps a couple of miles, the arm of the harbour wall I was heading towards. It was a hazy day and I was sailing relatively close to shore in case visibility closed in.
It was a bit strange because I shouldn't have been able to see the harbour wall as it should have been around 8 miles away. But see it I could, quite clearly, in every detail.

I got to around half a mile away and very suddenly, the image I had snapped away to be replaced by a sewer outfall.


I had completely kidded myself against all the available information.



Regardless of what is real or not real, whether there are things we cannot yet detect, or, perhaps never will be able to detect, none of that is a reason to postulate a god based on feeling alone.
There is no physical reason to think gods may exist.
There is a lot of evidence to say that given the slightest provocation, humans will make gods up to explain those things they do not have the tools to explain.
There is not only evidence, but conclusive proof that the human mind is able to kid itself very effectively.
If there WERE a god, it would answer nothing and just remove everything by one step.
On top of all this, we've established that atheists are perfectly able to live by a very similar moral code which was reasoned rather than handed to us by a superior power.


I simply do not get why anyone would think there is a god, not do I see why they should need one.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I don't see how I can answer that except by pointing to my growing up and education, and my thinking about it in adult life and as a scientist studying the universe.
> As I said, coming to a world view is not a series of neat, discrete steps, where you tick off one item and then use it to move on to another, it is a process of revision and improvement.
> My evaluation of what counts as evidence, what exists, etc, is thus all an end-product of that on-going educational process.

Okay, but with respect to your definition of what existence means, this necessarily makes some of the primary features relied upon obscure in your distant past. You dispute a priori points of views, but if you can't be specific and need to point to your growing up and education, how can you be sure you don't start with a priori axiomatic beliefs?
MJ - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

I got to around half a mile away and very suddenly, the image I had snapped away to be replaced by a sewer outfall.

Lucky you noticed, otherwise, you could have been right in the shit!
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
> [...]
>
> Well not really until your answer mine!
>
> I don't deny reality,
>
> Good. You seemed to be with your original post.
>
> I just don't pre-suppose its character,

> Well no, nor does anyone. Which is why we have science.

I disagree with that analysis. I think it is very easy to presuppose, just as Wonko has illustrated above, he is just positive it doesn't apply to him and assumes it applies to others. Tegmark's view that all that exists is just maths is an illustration that reality can be seen as reality, but in a different kind of way. My point is that a priori axiomatic and basic beliefs can radically orientate our assumptive view of the character of that reality.
Coel Hellier - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> I don't deny reality, I just don't pre-suppose its character, e.g. Tegmark's "there is
> only mathematics; that is all that exists".

Is that really a "pre-supposition" of Tegmark's, or is it the product of his long running study of the universe?
Coel Hellier - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> ... if you can't be specific and need to point to your growing up and education, how can you be
> sure you don't start with a priori axiomatic beliefs?

What I do is do my best to revisit them and rethink them, even to the extent of, for example, rethinking what "exists" means. In that sense they are not what I would regard as "a priori axiomatic beliefs". This comes back to my floating-boat metaphor of a worldview, in which any part can be revised, and where one can ultimately replace everything.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> > I don't deny reality, I just don't pre-suppose its character, e.g. Tegmark's "there is only mathematics; that is all that exists".

> Is that really a "pre-supposition" of Tegmark's, or is it the product of his long running study of the universe?

Well I don't know for sure, but having seen him interviewed he certainly seemed to have a predisposition to unusual ideas, and having a father who was a mathematician, perhaps his axiomatic beliefs are more mathematical in character than others. However, if there is truth to his ideas of an essential mathematical nature of reality, then this a posteriori establishes an essentially idealistic view of reality. So would idealism as an a priori approach to reality be so wrong? Are you sure there are not essential emotional reasons for the theoretical explanations of reality that we set off on early in life? I suspect there is, there is something satisfying in the self fulfilling nature of materialistic problem solving and description that seems to model reality well, but consistency by itself does not mean that a materialistic viewpoint is the only way to see reality.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> What I do is do my best to revisit them and rethink them, even to the extent of, for example, rethinking what "exists" means. In that sense they are not what I would regard as "a priori axiomatic beliefs". This comes back to my floating-boat metaphor of a worldview, in which any part can be revised, and where one can ultimately replace everything.

How do you know how possible it is to re-think these core beliefs and axioms? Sure, you can re-order your thoughts, but just as you protest the indoctrination of children with religious thought, why do you think that materialistic viewpoints don't have a similar intransigent power, and how can you be so sure they can be more justifiable a priori? I think one might be able to rethink some basic axioms in one's view of reality, but I think it would be very difficult to do involving a real creative flexibility that much in evidence in these threads!!!!
Coel Hellier - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> So would idealism as an a priori approach to reality be so wrong?

I think that all a priori approaches are wrong, because you can never then check and test them.

> Are you sure there are not essential emotional reasons for the theoretical explanations of
> reality that we set off on early in life?

No, I am not fully sure. All we can do is make our best evaluation of the evidence, while being careful to try to avoid fooling ourselves.
Coel Hellier - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> How do you know how possible it is to re-think these core beliefs and axioms?

We can try it and see how well we do.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I had completely kidded myself against all the available information.

Wow, that's weird. Never happened to me.

Indeed, I've had the opposite problem and trusted the tools I've been given and with an incorrect tide time manual and an incorrect tide time on the computer GPS linked chart software, both precisely 6 hours out. As a result we beached the 29ft sadler paying too little attention to our senses and the increasingly shallow water. Still, it meant a long night in the Loch Ranza hotel playing music for our drinks, which included some fine old Bruichladdich malts..... .....and then a very drunk mouring of the boat in the early hours.

> Regardless of what is real or not real, whether there are things we cannot yet detect, or, perhaps never will be able to detect, none of that is a reason to postulate a god based on feeling alone.

What is a thought, if not a feeling. In what way is any processing of data different to feeling?

> There is no physical reason to think gods may exist.

I find existence a magnificent miracle, in all its scientifically elucidated details.

> There is a lot of evidence to say that given the slightest provocation, humans will make gods up to explain those things they do not have the tools to explain.

Is there. There's much more documentary evidence for Jesus in the bible than there is for the invention of gods as a result of certain provocations.

> There is not only evidence, but conclusive proof that the human mind is able to kid itself very effectively.

So. I suggest a lobotomy to cure you of this incurable disease. Its the only way to be sure!

> If there WERE a god, it would answer nothing and just remove everything by one step.

Why should "god" be that kind of pre-supposed answer? Man, if you were a Christian, you'd definitely be a fundy.

> On top of all this, we've established that atheists are perfectly able to live by a very similar moral code which was reasoned rather than handed to us by a superior power.

Christian's do not claim to have a moral cure for their condition, they claim to have a path to God through Christ.

> I simply do not get why anyone would think there is a god, not do I see why they should need one.

Clearly, but it's a shame that you're so sure of yourself.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> > So would idealism as an a priori approach to reality be so wrong?
> I think that all a priori approaches are wrong, because you can never then check and test them.

How do you make sense of your sense without a theory to orientate them? By definition, you have to have some basic a priori approaches.

> > Are you sure there are not essential emotional reasons for the theoretical explanations of reality that we set off on early in life?
> No, I am not fully sure. All we can do is make our best evaluation of the evidence, while being careful to try to avoid fooling ourselves.

> > How do you know how possible it is to re-think these core beliefs and axioms?
> We can try it and see how well we do.

You don't sound very sure about all this! We can try and see how well we do. Well? Value judgement? According to who? Can you even identify your foundational core beliefs?!
Coel Hellier - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> There's much more documentary evidence for Jesus in the bible than there is for the invention of gods as a result of certain provocations.

Come on, the evidence for Jesus's existence is very feeble, far weaker than is generally accepted, given that scholarship on the subject is still dominated by believers. In contrast, the evidence for made-up religions is incontrovertible: we have two blatant and clear-cut examples of religions simply being made up, namely Mormonism and Scientology. Indeed, it's rather revealing that all the religions for which we have good evidence for how they were founded were just made up.
Coel Hellier - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> How do you make sense of your sense without a theory to orientate them? By definition, you have to have some basic a priori approaches.

As I have explained many times, you can continually rethink and improve your ideas as they develop, you do not have to take anything as foundational and unquestionable axioms. Yes, current ideas, theories and worldview will have developed out of earlier versions. But as I've said, scaffold may be necessary to create a building, but is not necessary in the final building. Similarly, the "floating boat" world view can have any part re-thought and renewed.
Jimbo W on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> As I have explained many times, you can continually rethink and improve your ideas as they develop, you do not have to take anything as foundational and unquestionable axioms.

But if you don't know what they are and when they were formed, as you insinuated above, how can you identify these thoughts and remove them. Presumably this means that there is no harm in religious indoctrination, in contrast to your protestation, or are ideas about God more fixed when compared to basic ideas about what reality is?

> Yes, current ideas, theories and worldview will have developed out of earlier versions. But as I've said, scaffold may be necessary to create a building, but is not necessary in the final building. Similarly, the "floating boat" world view can have any part re-thought and renewed.

Yes, but what is the first boat built from, and what is its basic structure, and are your sure there are no biases inherent in those early constructs determinative of all later choices about what reality is? Can a boat really be re-modelled? I don't see much evidence of it over the years via this forum. Can you give an example of any large shifts in your beliefs about existence. And we still have a fundamental problem with the lack of explanatory power inherent in your definition of "existence" in that it shows no justification for the presence of an objective existence, and yet we believe it, do we not? Is Tegmark right that: "If a reality exists independently of us, it must be free from the language that we use to describe it. There should be no human baggage. In which case how can we know objective reality except always from a limited distance? And yet we do know it? What are those thoughts about reality that lead us to think it really is objective?
Coel Hellier - on 15 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> But if you don't know what they are and when they were formed, ...

I do know what they are (I can just ask myself), and I do have a rough idea of how they formed, over decades.

> ... are your sure there are no biases inherent in those early constructs determinative of all later choices about what reality is?

As I said just above, no I can't be sure that I have no biases so pervasive that they can't be overcome, all I (and we) can do is do our best. How do we do our best? We recognise that humans are prone to bias, and so only trust ourselves if we can get external corroboration. The insistence on double-blind medical trials is a good example of recognising that we are prone to biases and of doing our best to overcome them.

What is notable about religious believers is that they shy away from accepting such biases, and place great store in mere intuition and feeling, and indeed actively veer *away* from rigorous checking for bias, and actively embrace practices and attitudes that enhance bias.

> Can you give an example of any large shifts in your beliefs about existence.

Yes: in the past I would have considered the concept of causally disconnected universes to be sensible; now I don't really.

> And we still have a fundamental problem with the lack of explanatory power inherent in your
> definition of "existence" in that it shows no justification for the presence of an objective
> existence, and yet we believe it, do we not?

A mere *definition* is not even supposed to be an account of human psychology and of why we have the feelings that we do. Nor is the definition of "existence" an account of all the evidence that might lead us to whatever conclusions. All it is is a criterion for qualification for the set "exists".

You are still placing great store on your primary intuition about "exists", and are holding that out as an infallible standard that my definition is held up to. I simply don't accept that premise. Now provide your evidence that your primary intuition is reliable.

> Is Tegmark right that: "If a reality exists independently of us, it must be free from the language that
> we use to describe it. There should be no human baggage. In which case how can we know objective
> reality except always from a limited distance?

Yes, Tegmark is right. But can I once again emphasize the distinction between (1) what exists, and (2) what humans can know about what exists. The answer to your last question is "we can't". What *humans* can know will always involve human limitations. I reject your idea of an infallible, intuitive, "direct-line" to reality.

> And yet we do know it?

Do we know, infallibly, about external reality? No, we don't. Humans are not infallible.

> What are those thoughts about reality that lead us to think it really is objective?

The whole of evidence about the natural world. As I've said, the "external world existing regardless of us" scenario has far more explanatory and predictive power than any alternative. For example it explains why we think the things we do.
Jimbo W on 15 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> > But if you don't know what they are and when they were formed, ...

> I do know what they are (I can just ask myself), and I do have a rough idea of how they formed, over decades.

Is all your knowledge so articulatable? Do you know how your brain can learn to see round a new floater in your eye? How do you know, vis a vis, your persistent complaint of child indoctrination with religion, that those early thoughts, you only have a rough idea about, aren't more intransigent than you believe.

> > ... are your sure there are no biases inherent in those early constructs determinative of all later choices about what reality is?

> As I said just above, no I can't be sure that I have no biases so pervasive that they can't be overcome, all I (and we) can do is do our best. How do we do our best? We recognise that humans are prone to bias, and so only trust ourselves if we can get external corroboration. The insistence on double-blind medical trials is a good example of recognising that we are prone to biases and of doing our best to overcome them.

Okay, doing our best is a fair expression of pragmatism. I'm happy with that, but such a humble attitude to one's own origin of beliefs doesn't give a very secure pulpit to preach about the errors of those who believe in God. So will you now desist?

> What is notable about religious believers is that they shy away from accepting such biases, and place great store in mere intuition and feeling, and indeed actively veer *away* from rigorous checking for bias, and actively embrace practices and attitudes that enhance bias.

No. They place great store in experience, but are not so doctrinaire as to presuppose and shove down the throats of others one "materialist" view of reality. I assert that the biases are on the other foot. We are kindly reminded by our atheist friends with regular monotony the probability of our biases, and Christian's themselves believe religion is a bias that can usurp God by placing an idol in God's place. Rather, materialism is a self fulfilling prophecy. The rigorous checking of bias is really the rigorous entrenchment of intransigent materialism, the a priori ruling out of any novelty. Thus we have the phenomenon of Kuhn's paradigm shifts, and Tegmark's deliberate Jekyl and Hyde approach to the publication of his mathematical reality ideas, so as to preserve what might otherwise have been a very short career indeed. No, your "checking" isn't to remove bias, it iss to entrench it and secure a conservative inflexible system.

> > Can you give an example of any large shifts in your beliefs about existence.

> Yes: in the past I would have considered the concept of causally disconnected universes to be sensible; now I don't really.

I would say that is tinkering at the speculative edges.

> > And we still have a fundamental problem with the lack of explanatory power inherent in your
> > definition of "existence" in that it shows no justification for the presence of an objective
> > existence, and yet we believe it, do we not?
> > Is Tegmark right that: "If a reality exists independently of us, it must be free from the language that
> > we use to describe it. There should be no human baggage. In which case how can we know objective
> > reality except always from a limited distance?

> A mere *definition* is not even supposed to be an account of human psychology and of why we have the feelings that we do. Nor is the definition of "existence" an account of all the evidence that might lead us to whatever conclusions. All it is is a criterion for qualification for the set "exists". You are still placing great store on your primary intuition about "exists", and are holding that out as an infallible standard that my definition is held up to. I simply don't accept that premise. Now provide your evidence that your primary intuition is reliable.

> Yes, Tegmark is right. But can I once again emphasize the distinction between (1) what exists, and (2) what humans can know about what exists. The answer to your last question is "we can't". What *humans* can know will always involve human limitations. I reject your idea of an infallible, intuitive, "direct-line" to reality.

A definition is a parsimonious expression of the meaning of a word. You need not make an account of psychology, but if you cannot express all that the word means succinctly without recourse to psychological accounts, you should back down on your claim that all words are definable, except perhaps in an a priori impoverished and inadequate sense. Thus, you must also admit there there are some words that are not properly definable. What is the meaning of the word "existence". You don't really believe it is "anything that has chains of causal links back to our sense data", because that necessarily excludes the idea of existence being objective, and necessitates its subjectivity, and I honestly don't think that we see reality like that. Perhaps Tegmark is right, and physical reality is just an expression of maths. In many senses, such a notion of physical reality is truly illusory, the universe fooling kindly fooling itself, and I don't see that as being any better a situation than solipsism.

Whatever the case, what you are expressing now reveals two fundamental problems: one, we can only "do our best" with regard to what could be essential biases, and two, that there is an essential inadequacy of language to deal with the idea of objectivity. This puts great pressure on the idea of any knowledge being anything more than illusory does it not, and sense data doesn't necessarily help undo that problem if there is not way to securely express it. I suggest you don't reject the idea of an intuitive connection with reality, you are proposing and backing it in the conservatism of your intransigent materialism.

> > And yet we do know it?

> Do we know, infallibly, about external reality? No, we don't. Humans are not infallible.

Well, I wouldn't have gone for infallibility, that is *your* word. But I wouldn't go for the opposite either, that such intuitive, and unexpressable knowledge, as you so adequately demonstrate, is necessarily suspect. And frankly, that isn't the way we live, as is evidenced by our free use of language, and words such as "existence".

> > What are those thoughts about reality that lead us to think it really is objective?

> The whole of evidence about the natural world. As I've said, the "external world existing regardless of us" scenario has far more explanatory and predictive power than any alternative. For example it explains why we think the things we do.

But it doesn't "explain" anything, it describes it and transfers what we sense into what you amply show is inadequate language. Consistency is rather a reflection of our explanatory bias, the self fulfilling prophecy of our predetermined axiomatic views. Furthermore, the use of the word "existing" as you have defined it in quotation marks above is truly absurd as it represents a very real contradiction in terms, undone, by your explicit, but impoverished definition.
Jimbo W on 15 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
> Anyhow, Jimbo, reading your thoughts on intuition I think I see why we disagree. You are (or seem to be!) seeing intuition as some sort of "direct line" to reality that gives us insights we cannot improve upon, and thus is a primary and basic founding of our other knowledge.

I don't think you're right there! Why should we not have a direct line with reality, we are after all of the same substance, and if tegmark is right, that substance is the only universal in mathematics. I don't ally myself with those views necessarily, but I don't think it is right to reduce intuitive types of thought down to evolutionary products akin to instinct. Imagine riding a bike, and the intuitive knowledge that involves. Then imagine trying to write down explicitly the technicalities of what is required for someone who has never biked before. Reading such a technical explanation isn't going to help much, you still have to get on the bike and learn to pedal, balance and steer to be able to cycle intuitively, is without attentive conscious thought. Is not reality like that? Do we not learn how to "ride" the reality bike. It is in that sense that we have deeply engrained intuitive knowledge of reality that has exquisite concordance with reality, but with the caveat that this knowledge is extremely difficult to make explicit such that it can be accurately communicated. We use this kind of tacit knowledge all the time, and it is this type of knowledge that we have that existence objectively exists apart from our presence to sense it. It's not just cobbled together by evolution in the way instinct appears hard coded. What's more I think it is almost impossible to undo this kind of knowledge because reality itself reinforces it quite apart from our more conscious thoughts about it. I wouldn't have said these things are totally irreversible, e.g. if you spend long enough standing on your head, your brain can turn the world the right way up, but it takes sometime.

Coel Hellier - on 15 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Okay, doing our best is a fair expression of pragmatism. I'm happy with that, but such a humble
> attitude to one's own origin of beliefs doesn't give a very secure pulpit to preach about the errors
> of those who believe in God. So will you now desist?

You don't need absolute certainty in one's own ideas in order to criticise other ideas. Indeed, part of "doing ones best" is indeed criticising ideas, since that is the best way we know of to get at the truth. And there are lots of things on which we have pretty good certainty, even if not absolute certainty.

> They [religious believers] place great store in experience, but are not so doctrinaire as to presuppose
> and shove down the throats of others one "materialist" view of reality.

Oh really? Well if Christians are "not so doctrinaire as to presuppose and shove down the throats of others" then why is it the law of the land that school children must worship the Christian god every day? In what way, that is even remotely comparable to that, are atheists "shoving" anything "down the throat" of believers? Writing books and posting on the internet things that people need not read if they don't want to is hardly shoving anything down anyone's throat.

> We are kindly reminded by our atheist friends with regular monotony the probability of our biases, ...

We are most generous with our advice, aren't we? ;-). Yet, if Christians were not so arrogant and bigoted in thinking that they deserve, and indeed getting, all sorts of special privileges in society, just for being religious, then we atheists might pipe down a little.

> No, your "checking" isn't to remove bias, it is to entrench it and secure a conservative inflexible system.

Or so you claim.

> You don't really believe it is "anything that has chains of causal links back to our sense data",
> because that necessarily excludes the idea of existence being objective,

No it doesn't. (By the way, I had "in principle" wordings in my definition, in order to make clear that something need not be actually interacting with humans in order to exist.)

> ... one, we can only "do our best" with regard to what could be essential biases, ...

Why yes. Do you have a method of doing better than our best?

> ... that there is an essential inadequacy of language to deal with the idea of objectivity.

I don't see that; it is quite easy to describe objectivity with our language.

> But I wouldn't go for the opposite either, that such intuitive, and unexpressable knowledge,
> ... is necessarily suspect.

Of course it is suspect, unless humans are infallible. Your evidence that they are is what?

> And frankly, that isn't the way we live, as is evidenced by our free use of language, and words such as "existence".

You're right, we don't. That's because evolution has equipped us with a toolkit that is ok for dealing with our everyday lives. But, as I've said, academia is surely about trying to do better than mere intuition and everyday knowledge.

> But it doesn't "explain" anything, ...

I beg to differ. The scientific world view explains a heck of a lot.

> ... you amply show is inadequate language. ... our predetermined axiomatic views. ...

These are just assertions on your part.

> Furthermore, the use of the word "existing" as you have defined it in quotation marks above is
> truly absurd as it represents a very real contradiction in terms, undone, by your explicit, but
> impoverished definition.

So is that. I see no contradiction.
Coel Hellier - on 15 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> It is in that sense that we have deeply engrained intuitive knowledge of reality that has exquisite
> concordance with reality, ... We use this kind of tacit knowledge all the time, and it is this type of
> knowledge that we have that existence objectively exists apart from our presence to sense it.
> It's not just cobbled together by evolution in the way instinct appears hard coded.

We have a genetic program cobbled together by evolution, and this genetic recipe plays out in a learning process, as we interact with reality. Of course we thus learn quite a bit about the aspects of reality that are relevant to our lives, survival and procreation. Evolution will indeed have done a good job of ensuring that.

But, beyond that, we have no basis for assuming that our intuition is reliable. You are just making the faith-leap that our intuition is indeed always reliable because you want to say "I intuit God, therefore God exists". However, we know of vast numbers of ways in which human intuition is fallible, psychologists have learned much about human psychology, and it is far from a fallible and reliable guide in all matters. Why would we need double-blind medical trials if human intuition was reliable? Why would there be a placebo effect? Why would 90% of humans rate themselves above average in likeability? Etc.
Jimbo W on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> We have a genetic program cobbled together by evolution, and this genetic recipe plays out in a learning process, as we interact with reality. Of course we thus learn quite a bit about the aspects of reality that are relevant to our lives, survival and procreation. Evolution will indeed have done a good job of ensuring that.

Cobbled together in the way the eye has been? There is a very great deal of value judgement being utilised to justify your wishful thinking. While I see no reason to doubt the validity of evolution, what is the causality involved here, and why do you think that evolution per se is so incapable of bringing about a reliable concordance of our intuition with reality as played out in our "programming" and "learning"?

> But, beyond that, we have no basis for assuming that our intuition is reliable. You are just making the faith-leap that our intuition is indeed always reliable because you want to say "I intuit God, therefore God exists". However, we know of vast numbers of ways in which human intuition is fallible, psychologists have learned much about human psychology, and it is far from a fallible and reliable guide in all matters. Why would we need double-blind medical trials if human intuition was reliable? Why would there be a placebo effect? Why would 90% of humans rate themselves above average in likeability? Etc.

We're not talking about god here, we're talking about existence and what we can say about reality that we can be objective about. It is revealing that you let on that your defence against this line of reasoning is the fear of another argument to do with god or something; you've pinned your rhetorical colours to the mast! A surity that we have knowledge that reality is objective apart from our ability to sense it is not necessarily undermined by what you see as a degree of fallibility. In any case you have not shown that the problem lies with intuition, so much with the exteriorisation of that knowledge in linguistic terms. Just as we cannot explicitly articulate the knowledge we have of how to ride a bike to someone else so that they can set off with a similar level of skill on their first ride. You have to do it to get the knowledge. Commitment is required, and the knowledge achieved has a fundamental affinity with that interactive task despite our inability to make that knowledge helpfully explicit!
Sir Chasm - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W: I set out learning to fly with a great deal of commitment, no success so far.
Coel Hellier - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Cobbled together in the way the eye has been?

Yes.

> ... why do you think that evolution per se is so incapable of bringing about a reliable concordance of our intuition with reality ...

I'm saying that it *IS* capable of bringing about a reliable concordance of our intuition with reality TO THE EXTENT THAT THAT REALITY IS RELEVANT TO OUR SURVIVAL AND PROCREATION.

Beyond that, there simply is no mechanism for any concordance -- which is why our intuition breaks down and is far less reliable at very high speeds (relativity), for very small things (quantum mechanics), in very high gravity (general relativity), etc, all things that we have never encountered in our evolutionary past.

> It is revealing that you let on that your defence against this line of reasoning is the fear of
> another argument to do with god or something; you've pinned your rhetorical colours to the mast!

Eh? Where did I say that? Quote me.

> In any case you have not shown that the problem lies with intuition, ...

Amazing reversal of the burden of proof -- as so usual. YOU are the one arguing that inuition is reliable on such matters, so YOU defend that claim.

WHAT IS YOUR ARGUMENT FOR AND EVIDENCE THAT INTUITION IS RELIABLE?

As far as I'm aware there are only two arguments for intuition being reliable: (1) is that intuition has been programmed by evolution to do a job. Yet, that argument only suffices as far as issues relevant to the survival and procreation of our ancestors. (2) Is that intuition is reliable to the extent that it can be corroborated by independent empirical evidence.

Are you using one of those two arguments? If not, what are you using?




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