The Order Of Nature Refutes Realism

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 08:06 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;148365 wrote:
How then would objects exist as objects in time?


-

Why wouldn't they?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 09:28 pm
@Pythagorean,
On the one hand, you frequently say:

kennethamy;64399 wrote:
To say that something is real is to say that it exists independently of what anyone believes, it is mind independent.


kennethamy;76015 wrote:
Isn't it clear to you that before there were people or animals who were conscious, that there were objects like the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, as well as the planet Earth? And that therefore, there were things that exist independently of human thought or consciousness?


kennethamy;73371 wrote:
We usually mean by saying that X is real, that X is mind-independent. So that no one need believe that X exists, or see or hear (etc.) X, for X to exist. The American poet, Peter Viereck once said, "real is what remains when you stop believing in it". I think that is a pretty good definition.


kennethamy;116395 wrote:
In English, what is real is what is mind-independent. That is, it would exist even if there were no minds.


But on the other hand:

kennethamy;148324 wrote:
In any case, numbers, for instance, can be identified, but how could they be identified empirically? We cannot observe numbers. But aren't numbers real?

The question of whether something is real might be an epistemological question, but the question of what it is for something to be real is, of course, a metaphysical question.


So what I say is that numbers are indeed real - but they are not mind-independent.

They are independent of any particular mind - that it, they are not the product of an individual intelligence - but, on the other hand, they cannot be said to exist if there is nobody capable of counting them. As you have said, there is nowhere they exist in the world.

But the same can be said of many essential attributes of human existence, such as beauty, justice, and truth. These too are real, but they are not real in the sense of being 'mind-independent'. They are only real when they are realized. And in this context, this is what 'realization' means: to make something real.

I think what is at issue here is a conflation of the sense of 'objectivity' as being the 'criterion of reality', on the one hand, with the traditional philosophical idea of 'truth' on the other. In a scientific age, truth is a scientific question. Within the framework of scientific secularism, 'truth' is either an attribute of propositions which correspond to some state of affairs, or something which is gradually disclosed by the laborious process of scientific research and discovery.

Whereas, what we are seeking to understand, and what I believe was the quest of traditional philosophy, is a type of truth which is neither objective nor subjective but transcendent. Which is to say, it is not subjective, but neither is it mind-independent.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 10:01 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;146683 wrote:
I just recently noticed something that might be related to what you're saying. If you listen to an atheist, it might seem we're hearing something in the background, so to speak: there's something missing from his or her picture of reality: namely himself, or herself.... the self of the speaker... the one making the comments. Has the self been equated with nothing?

You can do all sorts of shenanigans with the self... you can break it down into ego, id, superego... make it some multidimensional intuition translator.. you can say it's an illusion... a lie is still something. If you equate the self with nothing, though... it would appear there's a little problem. Who just stated that equation?

So maybe less analysis of the painting and more noticing that we're trying to establish a vantage point on a painting that we're in?


Excellent point. The elephant in the room is consciousness. Including thought. Which led us to dualism. And then beyond, in my opinion, to the realization that all distinctions are contingent.

Wittgenstein called the self: "the limit of the world." This is brilliantly succinct. If the self is the limit of the world, by which I think he means a person's entire conscious experience, then other humans are as much a part of the self as that abstraction we normally associate with the word "self."

In short, I think you have put your finger on the issue.

---------- Post added 04-04-2010 at 11:36 PM ----------

Pythagorean;146593 wrote:
My question is, how can there be any natural relationship between subject and object when the subject is taken to be just another object?


A great question. To ob-ject is to throw-before. If the subject is an object, what is it that this subject is thrown-before? presented to? ...if not the subject. Which is why Wittgenstein, in my opinion, defined the self as the limit of the world.

I can't help but think that the subject-issue is crucial, and leads in the right direction. Either the case can be cracked or it is dissolved, finally, as an absurdity based on an absurd, and yet practically convenient, dualism.

I can't help but see "nature" and "order" and "realism" as man-sculptured pieces in a social linguistic game. Also I see materialism and idealism in their unrefined forms as absurdities that flatter our desire for simplicity, unity, etc. I feel that Hegel, Wittgenstein, and Rorty all tackled this difficult duality as successfully as is perhaps possible.

---------- Post added 04-04-2010 at 11:39 PM ----------

Quote:

object (n.) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.giflate 14c., "tangible thing, something perceived or presented to the senses," from M.L. objectum "thing put before" (the mind or sight), neut. of L. objectus, pp. of obicere "to present, oppose, cast in the way of," from ob "against" + jacere "to throw" (see jet). Sense of "thing aimed at" is late 14c. No object "not a thing regarded as important" is from 1782. Object lesson "instruction conveyed by examination of a material object" is from 1831.
subject (n.) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gifearly 14c., "person under control or dominion of another," from O.Fr. suget, subget "a subject person or thing" (12c.), from L. subjectus, noun use of pp. of subicere "to place under," from sub "under" + combining form of jacere "to throw." In 14c., sugges, sogetis, subgit, sugette; form re-Latinized in Eng. 16c. Meaning "person or thing that may be acted upon" is recorded from 1590s. Meaning "subject matter of an art or science" is attested from 1540s, probably short for subject matter (late 14c.), which is from M.L. subjecta materia, a loan translation of Gk. hypokeimene hyle (Aristotle), lit. "that which lies beneath." Likewise some specific uses in logic and philosophy are borrowed directly from L. subjectum "foundation or subject of a proposition," a loan-translation of Aristotle's to hypokeimenon. Grammatical sense is recorded from 1630s. The adj. is attested from early 14c.
(This final note is for a certain bore out there who likes to cry etymological fallacy every time an etymology is presented to paint in some background. Don't bother. It is boring and I will never see it.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 10:56 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;146683 wrote:
I just recently noticed something that might be related to what you're saying. If you listen to an atheist, it might seem we're hearing something in the background, so to speak: there's something missing from his or her picture of reality: namely himself, or herself.... the self of the speaker... the one making the comments. Has the self been equated with nothing?

You can do all sorts of shenanigans with the self... you can break it down into ego, id, superego... make it some multidimensional intuition translator.. you can say it's an illusion... a lie is still something. If you equate the self with nothing, though... it would appear there's a little problem. Who just stated that equation?

So maybe less analysis of the painting and more noticing that we're trying to establish a vantage point on a painting that we're in?


Very acute observation. It is not consciously equating the self with nothing, but rather the illusion of complete objectivity, that we can view the universe as if we (insignificant specks that we are etc) are not part of the picture. Hence the 'mind-independent reality'. If mind independence were a criteria for reality, the most real thing would be that we know least about.:bigsmile: (Although having said it, I now suspect in a different sense it is quite true.....)

One of the books that has been recommended to me about this very point is The View from Nowhere by Thomas Nagel.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 12:31 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;148419 wrote:

(This final note is for a certain bore out there who likes to cry etymological fallacy every time an etymology is presented to paint in some background. Don't bother. It is boring and I will never see it.


Strawman fallacy.
That is not what I say, however. I am not sure what you mean by "painting in a background". As usual, it is really too vague to comment on. But the etymological fallacy is this: It does not follow from the fact that the meaning of a word used to be so-and-so, that the meaning of that word is still, so-and-so. And, of course, that is true whatever background you are trying to paint in.

---------- Post added 04-05-2010 at 03:02 AM ----------

jeeprs;148409 wrote:
On the one hand, you frequently say:









But on the other hand:



So what I say is that numbers are indeed real - but they are not mind-independent.

They are independent of any particular mind - that it, they are not the product of an individual intelligence - but, on the other hand, they cannot be said to exist if there is nobody capable of counting them. As you have said, there is nowhere they exist in the world.

But the same can be said of many essential attributes of human existence, such as beauty, justice, and truth. These too are real, but they are not real in the sense of being 'mind-independent'. They are only real when they are realized. And in this context, this is what 'realization' means: to make something real.

I think what is at issue here is a conflation of the sense of 'objectivity' as being the 'criterion of reality', on the one hand, with the traditional philosophical idea of 'truth' on the other. In a scientific age, truth is a scientific question. Within the framework of scientific secularism, 'truth' is either an attribute of propositions which correspond to some state of affairs, or something which is gradually disclosed by the laborious process of scientific research and discovery.

Whereas, what we are seeking to understand, and what I believe was the quest of traditional philosophy, is a type of truth which is neither objective nor subjective but transcendent. Which is to say, it is not subjective, but neither is it mind-independent.



What you seem to be arguing is that abstract objects (like numbers) are real, but that they are not mind-independent. So "real" does not mean, "mind-independent". And, your reason for saying that numbers are real but not mind-independent, is that numbers do not exist unless they can be counted by someone. But is that true? Must numbers be counted for them to exist? The trouble is that I don't know. And I don't know what you mean by "counting numbers". I know what that phrase ordinarily means, of course. I count numbers when I say, "one, two, three.....". But is that what you mean? Are you saying that unless someone can count, there are no numbers? Let us take an analogy. Suppose I were to say that unless someone could count ducks there would be no ducks. That is obviously not true. There would be ducks even if no one could count ducks. So why should numbers be any different? Of course, numbers are what are used to count ducks. But what is it that is used to count numbers? What I am getting at is that I simply don't understand what it means to count numbers in the way you seem to mean it. To count ducks is to find out how many ducks there are. But is to count numbers is not to find out how many numbers there are.

So, I am saying that aside from the usual meaning of the phrase, "to count numbers", which I don't thing you mean, I don't understand what it is to count numbers.

By the way, I don't think that to "realize" something means "to make it real". When I say that I just realized that it is time for lunch, I am only saying that it has come to my notice that it is time for lunch. I am not saying that I have made it time for lunch.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:39 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;148447 wrote:
What you seem to be arguing is that abstract objects (like numbers) are real, but that they are not mind-independent. So "real" does not mean, "mind-independent". And, your reason for saying that numbers are real but not mind-independent, is that numbers do not exist unless they can be counted by someone.



You often ask, did the moon exist before people? Now I am asking, did math exist before people? I think the answer is 'no'. So math is mind-dependent, but it is not subjective. Number is being used here as an example, but I think the same principle applies to a whole range of abstract qualities.


kennethamy;148447 wrote:
By the way, I don't think that to "realize" something means "to make it real". When I say that I just realized that it is time for lunch, I am only saying that it has come to my notice that it is time for lunch. I am not saying that I have made it time for lunch.


'Realize' has several meanings. One is to work something out, as you say. The other is to 'make real' - 'after much work the architect's vision was realized'. This second meaning is the one being referred to.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 05:12 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;148462 wrote:
You often ask, did the moon exist before people? Now I am asking, did math exist before people? I think the answer is 'no'. So math is mind-dependent, but it is not subjective. Number is being used here as an example, but I think the same principle applies to a whole range of abstract qualities.




'Realize' has several meanings. One is to work something out, as you say. The other is to 'make real' - 'after much work the architect's vision was realized'. This second meaning is the one being referred to.


No, obviously, math did not exist before people, and neither did chess. I think it was you who mentioned the term "subjective". "Subjective" has two meaning; one of them is mind-dependent, the other is "pertains to the individual". Math and chess are subjective in the first sense, so far as I can see. I am not clear what it is you mean by saying that math is not subjective. (Or is subjective, for that matter).

Yes, you are right about "realize". But I don't see how what you say applies to the issue.

But, aside from all of this, don't you agree that when someone asks whether, for example, ghosts are real, he is asking whether ghosts are mind-independent; whether they exist even if no one believes they exist. And the same (say) for God? Now, I am not sure what anyone would mean by asking whether justice was real, but I imagine that he would be asking whether even if no one believed justice had been done in some instance, that justice had been done. Wouldn't you?

I think you are trying to get metaphysical mileage when there really is none to be gotten.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 05:58 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;148489 wrote:
No, obviously, math did not exist before people, and neither did chess. I think it was you who mentioned the term "subjective". "Subjective" has two meaning; one of them is mind-dependent, the other is "pertains to the individual". Math and chess are subjective in the first sense, so far as I can see. I am not clear what it is you mean by saying that math is not subjective. (Or is subjective, for that matter).

Yes, you are right about "realize". But I don't see how what you say applies to the issue.

But, aside from all of this, don't you agree that when someone asks whether, for example, ghosts are real, he is asking whether ghosts are mind-independent; whether they exist even if no one believes they exist. And the same (say) for God? Now, I am not sure what anyone would mean by asking whether justice was real, but I imagine that he would be asking whether even if no one believed justice had been done in some instance, that justice had been done. Wouldn't you?

I think you are trying to get metaphysical mileage when there really is none to be gotten.


Nicely put, but I think there is plenty of mileage to be had here. (But I am leaving ghosts well and truly alone.:bigsmile:)

As for 'justice', there is more to justice than just the case-by-case application of it isn't there? If justice may or may not be done, there is some ideal that is either realized or that we fall short of. That is an example of where a platonist understanding still holds true, I am sure - justice, mercy, and so forth, as principles. They are real aims of the just society - they are not matters of opinion but are again not 'independent of the act of judgment'.

The reason I have talked about 'subjective' and 'objective' is because I think this idea of 'mind-independence' is basically the notion of truth being objective. I think it is a way of erecting objectivity as the criteria of philosophical veracity. The ideal of 'what is really there' is like the polestar by which we set our compass. Well and good, perhaps, but it needs to include such principles as justice, and so on, which are hardly given in 'the order of nature', are they? They are not 'mind-independent' in the sense of just brute fact. They are more like number, in that they are dependent upon the operation of the cognizing intelligence, but at the same time, they are not simply to be reduced to the operations of the brain. They are lawful, in the same way that math is lawful. But I think perhaps our society has lost sight of lawfulness of this kind.

So really I am supporting the OP here. I believe that reality is a representation or a construction. Of what? will come the question. And the whole point is perhaps to recognise that it is a question.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 06:42 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;148502 wrote:

So really I am supporting the OP here. I believe that reality is a representation or a construction. Of what? will come the question. And the whole point is perhaps to recognise that it is a question.


I would have thought not that reality was a representation or a construction, but that our knowledge of reality was a representation or a construction of reality. It is Idealism that holds that reality is its own representation or construction (whatever that might mean).
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 07:12 am
@kennethamy,
jeeprs;148502 wrote:
So really I am supporting the OP here. I believe that reality is a representation or a construction. Of what? will come the question. And the whole point is perhaps to recognise that it is a question.
This makes me think of an episode where I was selling little sculptures at an open market. One of the most popular was a two inch sculpture that looked like the skull of a longhorn cow.

Over time, I was amazed at how many people picked up the sculpture and asked the same question: "Is this real?"

In my mind I would joke.. no, I'm selling figments of imagination. But I knew what they meant: does this come from a cow with a two-inch long head? (Complete with horns?)

My point is, it was a multitude of all ages asking the same question. They all understood the object to be real in the sense of being a finite object in time and space. Obviously, they were using the word real to mean something else. Real vs representation? I think they were asking about truth.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 07:28 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;148517 wrote:
This makes me think of an episode where I was selling little sculptures at an open market. One of the most popular was a two inch sculpture that looked like the skull of a longhorn cow.

Over time, I was amazed at how many people picked up the sculpture and asked the same question: "Is this real?"

In my mind I would joke.. no, I'm selling figments of imagination. But I knew what they meant: does this come from a cow with a two-inch long head? (Complete with horns?)

My point is, it was a multitude of all ages asking the same question. They all understood the object to be real in the sense of being a finite object in time and space. Obviously, they were using the word real to mean something else. Real vs representation? I think they were asking about truth.


does this come from a cow with a two-inch long head? (Complete with horns)?

What does that mean? I have no idea.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 07:40 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;148522 wrote:
does this come from a cow with a two-inch long head? (Complete with horns)?

What does that mean? I have no idea.
They were asking if the object was a real skull... as opposed to a fake skull.

The object was a fake skull.

They weren't asking if the object in question has an existence independent of the mind. They were looking for the truth.

What's your definition of truth?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 08:00 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;148529 wrote:
They were asking if the object was a real skull... as opposed to a fake skull.

The object was a fake skull.

They weren't asking if the object in question has an existence independent of the mind. They were looking for the truth.

What's your definition of truth?



There is, of course, a difference between asking whether something is a real X, and asking whether that X is real. To ask the first is to ask whether X is a standard instance of the kind, X. (For example, "Is that a real diamond?" is to ask whether that stone is a standard kind of diamond or whether it is artificial or a zircon that only looks like a diamond. But to ask whether the diamond is real, is to ask whether it is independent of mind, or whether, maybe, it is an hallucination, or a figment of the imagination. It really depends on whether the adjective, "real" is placed before or placed after, the noun.

To say of X that it is a "real X" is not, in fact, to say anything positive about X. Rather, is is to say something negative about it, because it is to say about it that it is not a deviant X, for example, as you said about the skull, that it is not a fake X. A real X is, after all, only a standard normal X. In other words, just an X. And to say it a real X is just to deny that it is not a standard, normal X.

As Aristotle said, "To say that something it is true is to say of what is, that it is, and to say of what is not, that it is not". Doesn't that sound right to you?
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 08:55 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;148533 wrote:
There is, of course, a difference between asking whether something is a real X, and asking whether that X is real. To ask the first is to ask whether X is a standard instance of the kind, X. (For example, "Is that a real diamond?" is to ask whether that stone is a standard kind of diamond or whether it is artificial or a zircon that only looks like a diamond. But to ask whether the diamond is real, is to ask whether it is independent of mind, or whether, maybe, it is an hallucination, or a figment of the imagination. It really depends on whether the adjective, "real" is placed before or placed after, the noun.

To say of X that it is a "real X" is not, in fact, to say anything positive about X. Rather, is is to say something negative about it, because it is to say about it that it is not a deviant X, for example, as you said about the skull, that it is not a fake X. A real X is, after all, only a standard normal X. In other words, just an X. And to say it a real X is just to deny that it is not a standard, normal X.

As Aristotle said, "To say that something it is true is to say of what is, that it is, and to say of what is not, that it is not". Doesn't that sound right to you?
Yes, so the people in the market were asking if the skull was authentic. The answer was no. There are usually signs that a thing isn't what it appears to be.

A little logic always helps with that.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:35 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;148542 wrote:
Yes, so the people in the market were asking if the skull was authentic. The answer was no. There are usually signs that a thing isn't what it appears to be.

A little logic always helps with that.


A little logic always helps, and mo logic is always a disaster. Words like, "authentic", "genuine", etc. are more specific words than "real" and have their specific place, as in, "authentic Chinese food", "made as the made in China" (as if Chinese were the 'authors' of it).
 
 

 
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 03/28/2020 at 09:15:44