On The Contrast Between Appearance And Reality

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Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 10:30 am
Metaphysics is the science that seeks to define what is ultimately real as opposed to what is merely apparent.

The contrast between appearance and reality, however, is by no means peculiar to metaphysics. In everyday life people distinguish between the real size of the Sun and its apparent size, or again between the real color of an object (when seen in standard conditions) and its apparent color (nonstandard conditions). A cloud appears to consist of some white, fleecy substance, although in reality it is a concentration of drops of water. In general, men are often (though not invariably) inclined to allow that the scientist knows the real constitution of things as opposed to the surface aspects with which ordinary men are familiar. It will not suffice to define metaphysics as knowledge of reality as opposed to appearance; scientists, too, claim to know reality as opposed to appearance, and there is a general tendency to concede their claim.


It seems that there are at least two components in the metaphysical conception of reality. One characteristic, which has already been illustrated by Plato, is that reality is genuine as opposed to deceptive. The ultimate realities that the metaphysician seeks to know are precisely things as they are--simple and not variegated, exempt from change and therefore stable objects of knowledge. Plato's own assumption of this position perhaps reflects certain confusions about the knowability of things that change; one should not, however, on that ground exclude this aspect of the concept of reality from metaphysical thought in general. Ultimate reality, whatever else it is, is genuine as opposed to sham.

Second, and perhaps most important, reality for the metaphysician is intelligible as opposed to opaque. Appearances are not only deceptive and derivative, they also make no sense when taken at their own level. To arrive at what is ultimately real is to produce an account of the facts that does them full justice. The assumption is, of course, that one cannot explain things satisfactorily if one remains within the world of common sense, or even if one advances from that world to embrace the concepts of science. One or the other of these levels of explanation may suffice to produce a sort of local sense that is enough for practical purposes or that forms an adequate basis on which to make predictions. Practical reliability of this kind, however, is very different from theoretical satisfaction; the task of the metaphysician is to challenge all assumptions and finally arrive at an account of the nature of things that is fully coherent and fully thought-out.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 12:47 pm
@Pythagorean,
I would add that we have an ability to reason which is not trapped within the contingent conceptions of everyday empirical circumstances, but precisely transcends them, and attempts to view the world as it is in itself, freed from our self-created, circumstantial contradictions.

Philosophy is a search for the true reality. We need a method that will enable us to advance to a point of view outside that of common sense and scientific inference. The picture that it provides must be self-consistent, and it must enable us to see the world in its completeness.

It will therefore lead us to a conception of the whole of things, the ultimate totalilty.

If you cannot view the world as a whole, then you cannot really know your own place in it and thus cannot prove that you really do see and conceive things as they truly are.

The search for an ultimate conception of reality would give us a view on the world as a whole, which would be a view from outside the first-person perspective, showing the structure of reality as it is in itself, from no particular point of view. If we cannot obtain this, then we remain locked within our own point of view, unable either to transcend or truly to understand its limits. In which case, how can we assert that the way we conceive the world is the way it really is?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 04:39 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;130773 wrote:
The search for an ultimate conception of reality would give us a view on the world as a whole, which would be a view from outside the first-person perspective, showing the structure of reality as it is in itself, from no particular point of view. If we cannot obtain this, then we remain locked within our own point of view, unable either to transcend or truly to understand its limits. In which case, how can we assert that the way we conceive the world is the way it really is?


Important point. Few people get this idea. Meister Eckhardt said that chief amongst the virtues praised by the wise was disinterestedness, or detachment (this could also be read as 'renunciation'). Why? Because the disinterested intelligence is able to see things from outside the scheme of self interest. But I think it must also be animated by compassion. It is not a clinical detachment in the sense of being apathetic or uncaring.

The traditional discourse of metaphysics is taboo in a great deal of academic philosophy. And the reason is because it becomes detached from the cultural matrix within which it is meaningful. Plato's metaphysic was articulated within the context of an entire view of life - a complete philosophy - which laid considerable emphasis on virtue, askesis, introspection, and the like. These kinds of attitudes and practises are generally regarded with suspicion in the secular world. They are too religious, as is the idea that there can be any kind of higher reality or greater truth.

So you have to be a brave and independent thinker to consider these ideas, and I salute you for it.
 
Scottydamion
 
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 05:00 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;131182 wrote:
Important point. Few people get this idea. Meister Eckhardt said that chief amongst the virtues praised by the wise was disinterestedness, or detachment (this could also be read as 'renunciation'). Why? Because the disinterested intelligence is able to see things from outside the scheme of self interest. But I think it must also be animated by compassion. It is not a clinical detachment in the sense of being apathetic or uncaring.

The traditional discourse of metaphysics is taboo in a great deal of academic philosophy. And the reason is because it becomes detached from the cultural matrix within which it is meaningful. Plato's metaphysic was articulated within the context of an entire view of life - a complete philosophy - which laid considerable emphasis on virtue, askesis, introspection, and the like. These kinds of attitudes and practises are generally regarded with suspicion in the secular world. They are too religious, as is the idea that there can be any kind of higher reality or greater truth.

So you have to be a brave and independent thinker to consider these ideas, and I salute you for it.


I think as the world is weened off of fundamentalism one is bound to find a backlash manifest in one form or another, in this case it would be through suspicion of all-encompassing philosophies. One would think the pursuit of a timeless philosophy would be tempting to all, but I think there is often a wall placed between "timeless" and "practical".
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 05:25 pm
@Pythagorean,
I am reading up on Plotinus at the moment. He has been a source of true and sound metaphysic for millenia. There is a new edition of the Enneads on Amazon, I notice. One of the reader reviews said 'religion for grown ups.' To which I can only say, amen.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 06:12 pm
@Scottydamion,
Scottydamion;131187 wrote:
One would think the pursuit of a timeless philosophy would be tempting to all, but I think there is often a wall placed between "timeless" and "practical".


I think there's a deep desire for both. What I don't like is the attitude that only the practical is valid. The practical is obviously valid. It's one thing to lean on the practical/pragmatic when dealing with fanatics. It's another thing to cross one's self when the scientific method itself is examined as one method among others.

"Thou shalt not zoom out." Thus spake Newton. Amen.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 06:19 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;131215 wrote:
I think there's a deep desire for both. What I don't like is the attitude that only the practical is valid. The practical is obviously valid. It's one thing to lean on the practical/pragmatic when dealing with fanatics. It's another thing to cross one's self when the scientific method itself is examined as one method among others.

"Thou shalt not zoom out." Thus spake Newton. Amen.


And "valid"? What does that mean? Anything in particular? What does "only the practical is valid" mean?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 09:28 am
@Pythagorean,
"The assumption is, of course, that one cannot explain things satisfactorily if one remains within the world of common sense, or even if one advances from that world to embrace the concepts of science."

I am not sure that "science" embraces concepts that are not somehow "common sense" or studies unperceived data or truths, but I might be misreading the sentence.

I might also suggest that even though we may be mislead by appearances (or perhaps perceptions), we are able to "correct" these mistakes without any reference to anything other than appearances.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 10:03 am
@Pythagorean,
I'd really like to know: do you think this sounds vague?

Pythagorean wrote:

The search for an ultimate conception of reality would give us a view on the world as a whole, which would be a view from outside the first-person perspective, showing the structure of reality as it is in itself, from no particular point of view.


It seems to me it's one of those sentences that sounds like it means something, but it actually means nothing. Maybe you really do know what you're talking about, but I would recommend using clearer language to articulate your thoughts. Perhaps we should start with what an "ultimate conception of reality" means. And then from there you could explain to me what the "structure of reality as it is in itself" means.

Quote:
If you cannot view the world as a whole, then you cannot really know your own place in it and thus cannot prove that you really do see and conceive things as they truly are.


But I can see things as they really are. In fact, I have pretty good vision. And how in the world would I view the world as a whole? Wow, that would be a lot to see at once.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 10:26 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;131826 wrote:
"The assumption is, of course, that one cannot explain things satisfactorily if one remains within the world of common sense, or even if one advances from that world to embrace the concepts of science."

I am not sure that "science" embraces concepts that are not somehow "common sense" or studies unperceived data or truths, but I might be misreading the sentence.

I might also suggest that even though we may be mislead by appearances (or perhaps perceptions), we are able to "correct" these mistakes without any reference to anything other than appearances.


But why, "correct", and not just, correct?
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 11:25 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;131826 wrote:

I might also suggest that even though we may be mislead by appearances (or perhaps perceptions), we are able to "correct" these mistakes without any reference to anything other than appearances.


One possible description of appearances could be a blithering mental chaos as is perhaps the way a house fly or some other instinctual blind and dumb animal experiences the world. The immediate impressions of nature blinded mankind for tens of thousands of years and he gave mystical interpretations to his immediate sense impressions and this is said to have held him down and kept him as more of an instinctual dumb animal himself.

To construct a correct view of reality, as is done in a courtroom for example, one needs to apply reason to a vast array of eye witnesses in hopes to discover what really took place. What it is that we are analysing in this case is not straightforward appearances but rather, accounts of appearances and other accounts which are all then turned into data and then interpreted. It seems there must be a reasonabale seperation between the immediate impressions on our senses, which yield no direct knowledge per se, and a more meaningful account of things.

It was Descartes who famously argued that when we examine matter (which is the source of truth according to him) we use our reason and not our senses because the senses deceive us.

Of course one could argue that in Descartes wax argument it is the senses alone that account for our veridical knowledge of its primary quality of 'extension', i.e. extended substance. Which of course could imply that extension is also deceptive and does not exist in itself but only in the senses of the observer. That extension too is just appearance. And that is Berkeley's idealistic rejoinder.

Philosophers have never proved the non-existence of the thing-in-itself, they have only said that such a subject is not worth discussion. And that is a prejudice not a philosophical argument.

--
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 11:40 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;131833 wrote:
I'd really like to know: do you think this sounds vague?



It seems to me it's one of those sentences that sounds like it means something, but it actually means nothing. Maybe you really do know what you're talking about, but I would recommend using clearer language to articulate your thoughts. Perhaps we should start with what an "ultimate conception of reality" means. And then from there you could explain to me what the "structure of reality as it is in itself" means.



But I can see things as they really are. In fact, I have pretty good vision. And how in the world would I view the world as a whole? Wow, that would be a lot to see at once.
The Nominous of Phenomena is a Phenomena to the Phenomena of Nominous...and that the Phenomena of Nonimous is a Nonimous to the Nonimous of Phenomena...

...that sounds interesting...Smile and valid. I mean picture a film frame in your hands out of the box and you will be loosing something, like er...the cinema session...but the opposite is also true...of course this only makes sense from an higher dimension point of view...the Meta-metaphysics...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 12:07 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;131858 wrote:

Philosophers have never proved the non-existence of the thing-in-itself, they have only said that such a subject is not worth discussion. And that is a prejudice not a philosophical argument.

--


Neither have they proved the non-existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. They have only said that such a subject is not worth discussing. And that is a prejudice, not a philosophical argument.
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 12:29 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;131873 wrote:
Neither have they proved the non-existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. They have only said that such a subject is not worth discussing. And that is a prejudice, not a philosophical argument.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 12:30 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;131873 wrote:
Neither have they proved the non-existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. They have only said that such a subject is not worth discussing. And that is a prejudice, not a philosophical argument.



The larger point here is that Plato, Aristotle, and the early modern rationalist philosopher's arguments as well as Berkeley's arguments are no longer seen as valid in the minds of the post-modern nihilist philosophers (language and logic positivists). Plato, for example, never bellieved in the Flying Spaghetti monster. But he did believe in the search for truth and the possibility of metaphysics.

So your comparison of metaphysical theory with the Flying Spaghetti monster is a failure. It is a (well documented) historical and cultural bias against metaphysics.

Just because some so-called monster doesn't 'exist' does not entail that metaphysics is a meaningless branch of philosophy.

--
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 12:56 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean wrote:

The larger point here is that Plato, Aristotle, and the early modern rationalist philosopher's arguments as well as Berkeley's arguments are no longer seen as valid in the minds of the post-modern nihilist philosophers (language and logic positivists).


Who cares who made the argument? A bad argument is a bad argument no matter who it comes from.

Quote:

So your comparison of metaphysical theory with the Flying Spaghetti monster is a failure.


How is it a failure? It is an example of something we have not proved against, but have deemed unworthy of our time to ponder.

Quote:
Just because some so-called monster doesn't 'exist' does not entail that metaphysics is a meaningless branch of philosophy.


I wonder who you think said that. And what's the difference between 'exist' and exist?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 02:28 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;131883 wrote:
The larger point here is that Plato, Aristotle, and the early modern rationalist philosopher's arguments as well as Berkeley's arguments are no longer seen as valid in the minds of the post-modern nihilist philosophers (language and logic positivists). Plato, for example, never bellieved in the Flying Spaghetti monster. But he did believe in the search for truth and the possibility of metaphysics.

So your comparison of metaphysical theory with the Flying Spaghetti monster is a failure. It is a (well documented) historical and cultural bias against metaphysics.

Just because some so-called monster doesn't 'exist' does not entail that metaphysics is a meaningless branch of philosophy.

--


The larger point is that no one has to prove either the non-existence of the thing-in-itself, or the non-existence of The Spaghetti Monster, because it is those who assert that they exist who have to prove it. The burden of proof is not on those who do not believe those things exist. You said the SM exists, so now it is up to you to prove it. In the same way, you said the TII exists, so now it is up to you to prove it. It is not up to me to disprove anything. Why should it be?

Look up the fallacy, the argument from ignorance. That is the fallacy you are committing. A little logic goes a long way. Try it.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 02:40 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;131932 wrote:
The larger point is that no one has to prove either the non-existence of the thing-in-itself, or the non-existence of The Spaghetti Monster, because it is those who assert that they exist who have to prove it. The burden of proof is not on those who do not believe those things exist. You said the SM exists, so now it is up to you to prove it. In the same way, you said the TII exists, so now it is up to you to prove it. It is not up to me to disprove anything. Why should it be?

Look up the fallacy, the argument from ignorance. That is the fallacy you are committing. A little logic goes a long way. Try it.



You have fallen off the thread.

The issue at hand is whether or not the issues regarding appearances can be argued at all given the prevailing prejudices. I stated that the refusal to allow metaphysical argument was based not upon an actual case being made, but rather upon refusal to make a case at all.

I was in the midst of making a case for which your side did not accept due to your prejudice, which is not a reasoned argument or discussion.

I would very much like to make a case against appearances, as I had attempted to begin. I would like, that is, to do philosophy. It is you who refuse to engage in rational debate due to your prejudices. That is the issue here. You have, as I have previously stated, dismissed the subject at hand without providing an actual argument.

How could I begin to provide arguments for my side if you have already stated, which you did tout court, that such arguments are meaningless?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 03:31 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;131937 wrote:
I stated that the refusal to allow metaphysical argument was based not upon an actual case being made, but rather upon refusal to make a case at all.


I think the rejection of metaphysics is associated with the rejection of religious traditionalism and scholastic philosophy. As I said before, metaphysics is associated with religion, in a broad sense, and so mention of the word sets off all the usual alarm bells. Hence talk of the Flying........no, I can't stoop to that level.

It is an historical fact that empiricism as a philosophy was created on the back of the nominalist rejection of Platonist realism, beginning with William of Ockham. The Platonist tradition, which had been preserved by the Scholastics and also in the philosophical works of Augustine, were attacked by the nominalists on the basis that there are no 'real universals' and that every single being is a unique creation (1). This is a clear pre-cursor to the radical individualism of the empiricist outlook. The German idealists and the Romantics were the last bastion of a real Western metaphysical tradition, almost universally rejected by the analytical and positivist schools. In so doing, Western thought has distanced itself from an intellectual framework that is even capable of accomodating what used to be understood as metaphysic. (And now dwells in a strange and shadowy realm, inhabited by Flying......no, I won't go there....)

(1) See The Theological Origins of Modernity, Michael Allan Gillespie
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 03:57 pm
@jeeprs,
But if THEY were to make an argument that language and logic hold the answers to all philosophical questions (which they seem to be incapable of doing) at least I would be willing to discuss it with them.

Pursuit of the real or of the truth should be the paramount concern of philosophy. They are pursuing anti-philosophy, which is politically, culturally and historically motivated. Parochial prejudice, plain and simple.

--
 
 

 
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