Is everything relative?

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 01:33 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
"Thinking all this over, perhaps the postulate could be more accurately stated as: All things are relative to their context. This is a statement I'd easily defend (and inspires important insights). But "All Things are Relative" is, to me, quite a bit more wide-ranging and says (to me, anyway) that "There is nothing that is, everything is relative to whims, ideas, my wife's pot-roast, and anything else one could come up with." quote



Well in truth none of us can see the big picture so to speak, but, there is enough that one can infer a network of interdependencies. Every cause has a number of effects, and if you can agree that all things are in relation to their contextual environment, I would suggest that in considering that contextual environment that you consider your pot roast part of that larger context. If you trace back the complexity of how that pot roast got to be your meal the interrelations fade into infinity and as food you must admitt it is relative to your continue existence.

That all systems are open systems give us an indication of a continuum, ok, what holds that continuum together, the fact that all systems are open and interdependent, It is a bit like that game children often play with a complex arrangement of sticks, removing one at a time the structure holds, but, a some crucial point with the removal of one stick it brings structure stumbling down. So yes, you can remove things that do not directly relate to you, do you see that indirectly you are dependent just the same, on the system/environment,and its parts, that the system is somewhat more than its parts it is agreed but it can only function as it is doing as an emergent quality of its combined parts. but you must be careful not to remove that stick which weakens the structure and/or brings it stumbling down. We are a system, and we are a system within a system within a system, if the system was so interdependent that the extinction of one thing would bring it down, then life would have ended before it got truely started. So your continued existence depends not entirely upon one particular but certainly depends upon the structure/system in it entirety. As I stated earlier, when critical mass is reached in the reduction of relations, then that is the end of the world for us all. I am not sure that satisfies your inquiry but it is serving to clearify my own thoughts on the topic.


Too bad I did read this before I had written my paper on epistemic relativism last night. You said in a couple paragraph what I said in a few pages, but actually made sense of the picture, whereas I probably created much confusion. Good thing there is time for revisions!
 
incubusman8
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 08:17 pm
@Riverdale,
Question: If we assume that the universe originated from a singularity, is it possible for anything to not be relative?
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 08:06 pm
@boagie,
boagie;33431 wrote:
It is a relational world, a relative world, there is no other possiablity, even reducing it down to the simplist form of subject and object, the relation between these two, gives you apparent reality. Reality is relational.


Hi Boagie, we've not exchanged ideas before, so I want to let you know that while I'm going to use some of your concepts to present a different point of view, it's not because I object to your perspective. I do, however, think you make a number of illogical or unsupported points that lead to an unjustified conclusion that "reality is relational." My main objection to relativism is, overall, that as a theory there is no way to escape infinite regress.

A mistake I think you make right off is when you say, "there is no other possibility, even reducing it down to the simplest form of subject and object." It might not seem apparent at first, but that is an anthropomorphic statement. There is no reason to assume the "simplest form" includes a subject and an object, unless that is, you assume because we humans exist as observers (thus requiring an object of observation), that decides all reality must include an observer and an observed.

Nor is there reason to assume what is most simple has "form" at all, and a very good reason for believing that if there is something non-relative, it is formless (I'll explain why below).


boagie;33431 wrote:
Science has for some time searched for that substance from which all things are made, only to find that, under their microscopes what they see is form without substance, meaning I think that it is all energy.


Yes, but what you fail to factor in is, why should we assume our observation tools (microscopes, et al) can see their own essence? If microscopes, eyes, etc. are made of something most simple, then our detection devices are less subtle than the essence that makes them up; that is, form is trying to detect formlessness, and so we might expect form to fail.


boagie;33431 wrote:
I doubt however for our purposes you could point to something in being and claim it is made out of a single substance, and then you have to consider the conditions under which it is in being, its context, just as there is no such thing as a closed system, so to there is no object/thing which is not supported by its context, a fish out of water is quite another thing than the fish in water. Certainly if you wish to deny the relational nature of all things as entities, you cannot deny the relational nature of all things to their context. If indeed things were not relational, there would be no science of physics, for there would be nothing to discern.


Here you mix subjects. If we are talking about "things," as the author of this thread did state, then of course they must exist within the context they are relative to. But you took this discussion toward the idea of an absolute essence by interpreting the idea of "is everything relative" to mean all that exists. So we moved from "things" to all that exists, and those are two different subjects.


boagie;33431 wrote:
Consider also, your argument is coming from a multicellular organism, who could not exist without this concept, the coevolution of species with their environment, the coevolution of species in general, there might have been this independence of being within the primordial pool, before the concept arose that life lives upon life, but, even in that primordial pool these single celled organisms were dependent upon the context of their environment. Again I ask you upon what principle would you stake your claim for independent existence?


This is again anthropomorphic. Why must essential existence have anything to do with biological (i.e. "form") existence? You are limiting existence to relative situations, and then claiming your own arbitrary-decided limitations determine how reality is.


boagie;33431 wrote:
I doubt however for our purposes you could point to something in being and claim it is made out of a single substance.


I repeated this statement because it is just plain wrong. A lot of people have suggested a single substance, from Spinoza's brilliant thinking on "substance monism" to Bertrand Russell's idea of "neutral monism." Check out: Neutral Monism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The reason for looking for another answer outside physics is due to how strange things seem from the science perspective. It seems absurd that creation would be made of nothing, yet at this time that appears to be where things stand with physics. Instinct tells us that if a thing exists then it is composed of one or more substances. After finding an unusual-looking rock, for example, a natural inclination is to wonder if it's made of quartz or mica or feldspar. We can speak more basically of its atomic makeup, and next we can ask what are atoms made of; if the answer is quarks, then what are they made of, and so on. If our reduction were never able to reach a ground state other than variables, then existence would be foundationless.

Infinite regress and a slew of other traditionally pesky modeling issues (such as dualism) can be resolved if all existence (i.e., literally, everything that has, does or can exist) is made out of and grounded in an absolute, uncaused foundational substance that is subject to basic foundational conditions; in such a model the foundational substance is generally unevolved, and is neither physical nor mental but can become either because it has the potential to be made to spontaneously evolve by the basic foundational conditions.

"Absolute" in the foundational context refers to the most deep-seated level of existence possible, the bottom line, that from which all things arise and return, and of which all existence is composed; and "uncaused" simply means it was never created, has always existed, actually cannot not exist and so forever will exist. Necessary too is that this most foundational level of existence is some kind of "stuff," the most subtle substance, that resides in an infinite ocean/continuum and is part-less or homogeneous.

The concept of ground state "conditions" is vitally important to understand for substance monism modeling to make sense; it means in addition to one substance having absolute essence-like qualities which composes every "thing" that did, does and will exist, as a volume the ground state substance must also exhibit dynamics or behaviors (similar to how we might say an essence-like quality of water is wetness, but one of its behaviors as a volume of water is to produce waves, eddies, etc.). Without volume dynamics in the ground state substance ocean there would be no change factors and therefore no means for a single, homogeneous ground state substance to evolve itself into new forms (such as our universe).
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 02:20 pm
@LWSleeth,
Here we have a question: Is everything relative? To answer it we must first consider whether anything is relative. Then we must ask whether or not it is the case that if it is relative to something, it follows that it is relative to anything. This can be argued to be the case even if multiple aspects of consideration have no bearing on some given perspective.

After we show the prior, we must show that it follows from one thing being relative to all things, that all things are relative to each other. Visually this is easy, ideologically, not so much.

I personally subscribe to a brand of monism of my own. I thought that boagie shared this view when he began talking about how reality is relational, which I agree with, but it appears he is a dualist.

Here is what I think: That perception is reality, and reality is our perception of it, is ill contested. For to say that perception is limited, one must posit the query:"By what is this limit drawn, if not indeed only by our faculty of cognition?", yet it is such that our perception and our cognitive faculties are indeed merged, for it must not only be the case that what we can perceive must be the physical case, as our bodies are indeed considered to be of the physical, but also that the physical, by means of our perception, is limited to what we can perceive of it. Thus the pull of monism is shown to be present on both the fronts in consideration, namely Physicalism and Idealism. In fact, they are both the same so far as logical form is concerned. That the mind is physical and consequent of specific physical conditions is true. That the mind affects reality in that it defines our conception of it is dually so. Thus there is interaction between what is conceptual and what is physical. Thus there is either a medium of interaction between these two states, i.e. trio ism or there is only one substance, hence monism.
 
Patty phil
 
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 08:53 pm
@Riverdale,
The power of us human beings is that we can have the power of objectivity together with our vigor of subjectivity. We have the power of seeing the transcendence of truths, and personalize it to govern ourselves. It is not entirely the same as saying truth is relative. Scientific laws will forever be there even if we all die, the point is that man is capable of seeing this truths, without the need for giving up his freedom. People tend to think that absolute laws when accepted would make us robots, know they won't, but we can't help it, we woke up being in this world, it has been here even before we were born.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 10:33 pm
@incubusman8,
LWSleeth,Smile

Wow! I am overwhelmed, I have copied and saved your post, I do not feel able to respond as yet, but I find it flattering that you thought it worthy of critque. I will study your critque and try to intelligently respond at a later date. PS that bit about Spinoza, I quite agree, I started reading Spinoza after I posted that. Thanks for the marvelous critque!!! It is going to take me a little time to digest.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 08:58 am
@Riverdale,
Riverdale wrote:
If not, what isn't?

[Moderator edit: thread moved to more appropriate forum. jgw]



Only when I go to a family gathering.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 02:03 pm
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth,Smile

As to infinite regress, not real sure that is true. The second paragraph you say is an anthropomorphic statement, yes it is, mainly because apparent reality itself is anthropomorphic in that apparently reality is a human interpretation of said stimulus, not that it projects it own physicality. There is not much we can say about ultimate reality, as it is not available to us. Apparent reality does indeed involve the world as object and a subject, the relation between the two is apparent reality. You then get into a concept of the existence of formless things, which is meaningless to us for it could not then be part of our reality, again many things may inhabit altimate reality, but of these things we must remain silent, for we can know nothing of them. You then speak of our senses and our instruments as inadequate and failing, this is true, the senses like our instruments limit as well as inable, thus the presumed existence of an ultimate reality.

You then infer that I am talking about both apparent reality and altimate reality, where that would be impossiable on my part, as altimate reality is unknown, by defination out of our reach. So, when I speak of reality it is of apparent reality, nothing can be said about altimate reality other then it is unknown. You are taking what I have said out of context, in that you are infering that I make statements about altimate reality, I asure you this is not the case. All that exists for us in apparent reality is relative to us, apparent reality is a biological readout. My statements would make a great deal more sense to you if you understand I am not talking about altimate reality, again, apparent reality is a biological readout. As to my statement about reality not depending on a single substance, I just started reading Spinoza after posting that, indeed though presently not understood, I do believe that the source of reality has to be of a singular nature. Your further speculations about the bases of all that exists is interesting, but as yet unresolved. Again in reading what I have had to say, understand it is speaking of apparent reality, not altimate reality, apparent reality is a biological readout, thus everything we are aware of is relative to us/our biology.
 
nameless
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 03:27 pm
@Riverdale,
One more time;
"Everything exists!"
Existence is context.
'Relative' is another (poorer) word for 'contextual'.
Hence, existence is contextual, 'relative' (one 'thing' to another).
For anything to be completely defined/described, requires the entire 'context' in which our (perceived) 'thing' appears. That means that for a complete definition of anything, one needs must include the entire universe, at that moment. Complete context. Relativity, in this 'context' is an inferior term, considering it's 'baggage'.
'Consciousness' is not 'relative', nor 'contextual', but neither is it a 'thing' as in 'everything'. It is a monism, perfectly symmetrical, featureless, qualityless, 'formless', ineffable.
All 'appearances' to Perspective, though, are 'contextual', 'relative'...
Words (and thoughts and concepts..), in themselves, are contextual, and cannot embody (define, describe) that which is not (hence ineffable), as there is nothing in 'existence' that is not contextually (relative) perceived by (necessary, definitionally, limited) Conscious Perspective.
Perceived and perceiver are one and the same, definitionally, contextually.

**************
(The notion of 'forms' without content is an intellectual and practical absurdity, a 'belief' at worst... but that nonsense for another discussion...)
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 03:53 pm
@Riverdale,
nameless wrote:
One more time;
"Everything exists!"
Existence is context.
'Relative' is another (poorer) word for 'contextual'.
Hence, existence is contextual, 'relative' (one 'thing' to another).
For anything to be completely defined/described, requires the entire 'context' in which our (perceived) 'thing' appears. That means that for a complete definition of anything, one needs must include the entire universe, at that moment. Complete context. Relativity, in this 'context' is an inferior term, considering it's 'baggage'.
'Consciousness' is not 'relative', nor 'contextual', but neither is it a 'thing' as in 'everything'. It is a monism, perfectly symmetrical, featureless, qualityless, 'formless', ineffable.
All 'appearances' to Perspective, though, are 'contextual', 'relative'...
Words (and thoughts and concepts..), in themselves, are contextual, and cannot embody (define, describe) that which is not (hence ineffable), as there is nothing in 'existence' that is not contextually (relative) perceived by Conscious Perspective.
Perceived and perceiver are one and the same, definitionally, contextually.



"Context" generally has to do with language and meaning. Thus, existence can only be context in terms of language use. "Relative" generally has to do with existence and relation of things. In philosophy that is the major difference between the two. The two words are not in anyway interchangeable.

Also "perceiver" and "perceived" are not one and the same because the former is a noun and the latter is a transitive verb in the past tense or a past participle used an adjective. In other words, you are a butcher linguistically speaking.
 
ACB
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 04:42 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
Also perceiver and and perceived are not one and the same because the former is a noun and the latter is a transitive verb in the past tense. In other words, you are a butcher linguistically speaking.


You may be right philosophically that perceiver and perceived are different, but grammatically they are both nouns here. More precisely, perceiver is a true noun, and perceived is a past participle (adjective) being used as a noun. It cannot be a past tense here, as it has no grammatical subject.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 04:47 pm
@Riverdale,
Thank you for clarifying my error in grammar. I forgot about the past participle. Stupid grammar. Still, linguistically speaking the perceived and the perceiver cannot be one and the same.
 
nameless
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 06:03 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;50431 wrote:
"Context" generally has to do with language and meaning.

Your language defines 'reality' as you perceive it. One can say that your perceived reality and your language for defining it are one and the same.
Yes, meaning. With no context there can be no existence, much less 'meaning'.

Quote:
Thus, existence can only be context in terms of language use.

When you offered the qualifier "generally", you eliminated your logical ability to offer this "thus" as an "only".
And you are incorrect.
You open your eyes and directly perceive your reality. No language is necessary, no 'thought' (to make it 'once removed' and to interpret), is necessary.
Language exists, and is thus incapable of defining the 'set' in which it appears. The complete set is that 'everything exists'.
A balance beam scale does little inform us of the 'mass' of the universe (which = 0).

Quote:
"Relative" generally has to do with existence and relation of things.

There are no things but contextually 'related'; these words in the context that they appear, the context of the contrasting (context) color (context) of the background (context). Context seems to be inclusive (better in line with the current science) in tone, where 'relative' seems more... adversarial, 'this-vs-that' rather than 'this/that'. But, that is trivial.

Quote:
In philosophy that is the major difference between the two. The two words are not in anyway interchangeable.

Well, there you go! Now you see how they can be.

Quote:
Also "perceiver" and "perceived" are not one and the same because the former is a noun and the latter is a transitive verb in the past tense or a past participle used an adjective.

I was going to ignore this... nonsense, but I was concerned that you might miss how meaningless I find this 'ignorance'. Do you really not-get-it so deeply that you offer 'this', seriously, as an 'argument' to the truth of what I offered? Is this the best that you can do? I can certainly accept it if that is the case, and we can move on...

Quote:
In other words, you are a butcher linguistically speaking.

It must get very stuffy in your little box (of rules). Does any light ever penetrate?
I might be guilty of 'translating' words through changing understandings of changing universes, but your 'rules' kill and petrify the language (and thus the way that you see the world).

"A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used." -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Theaetetus;50439 wrote:
Still, linguistically speaking the perceived and the perceiver cannot be one and the same.

Then your language is obsolete and incapable of reflecting reality as it is presently perceived by science (QM) and millennially been perceived by mystics, and needs to be critically updated..

But, thanx for the time...
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 06:40 pm
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
Your language defines 'reality' as you perceive it. One can say that your perceived reality and your language for defining it are one and the same.
Yes, meaning. With no context there can be no existence, much less 'meaning'.


Its not my language. It is the English language, which is a tool for communication. In order to use the tool properly, I must stay within the limits of the language otherwise it loses its effectiveness like any other tool.

nameless wrote:

When you offered the qualifier "generally", you eliminated your logical ability to offer this "thus" as an "only".
And you are incorrect.


It is general. A world ceases to be used generally when people like you use it outside of the normal meaning. People can use it in ways they see fit, but that does not mean that those uses are correct. All you are doing is creating more confusion by using words outside of their meaning.


nameless wrote:

I was going to ignore this... nonsense, but I was concerned that you might miss how meaningless I find this 'ignorance'. Do you really not-get-it so deeply that you offer 'this', seriously, as an 'argument' to the truth of what I offered? Is this the best that you can do? I can certainly accept it if that is the case, and we can move on...

Its nonsense to you, because you think your truth is worth more than what is agreed between many people.

nameless wrote:
It must get very stuffy in your little box (of rules). Does any light ever penetrate?
I might be guilty of 'translating' words through changing understandings of changing universes, but your 'rules' kill and petrify the language (and thus the way that you see the world).

"A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used." -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

They are not my rules. If you do not like the rules embedded in English, too bad. They exist to make communication possible. By having common meanings people are able to know what another individual's message with ease. By having a totally fluid language their is no common ground for understanding.

That quote is obviously written by someone that has little understanding of linguistics and the purpose of language beyond their own use of it. Sure words adapt, but that does not mean it is correct to use them as arbitrarily as anyone sees fit. Sure, words can be used arbitrarily, but that does not mean it is correct. Anyway notice the key word circumstance in the quote. No where does that quote suggest arbitrary or however anyone sees fit.


nameless wrote:
Then your language is obsolete and incapable of reflecting reality as it is presently perceived by science (QM) and millennially been perceived by mystics, and needs to be critically updated..


My language is not obsolete. What make language obsolete is the use of terms improperly when talking about ideas. As I said contextually has to do with language and relationship between words, and relative has to do with existence and the relationship between things. And perceived and perceiver cannot be one and the same, just as thought and the thinker are not one and the same. But whatever, go ahead and make up whatever you want.
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 25 Feb, 2009 02:35 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;50451 wrote:
That quote is obviously written by someone that has little understanding of linguistics and the purpose of language beyond their own use of it.

Tell me that you've never heard of Oliver Wendel Holmes!?!

I have read your entire post. Rather than disagree with about everything you say, from this Perspective, and correct your logical errors, I realize that i am uninterested in convincing you of anything. I share a valid Perspective, and offer nutritious (for some) food for thought, not your own, perhaps, but there are many who read this, and the 'pearls' find their own way.

I cannot 'argue' your Perspective, as it is valid in and of itself.
If you live in a tiny mechanistic world, tiny mechanistic rules will define/describe it, and provide an emotional and mental feeling of continuity and stability. If your understanding has never strayed beyond the consensus of the local herd, then herd consensus is the pragmatic rule; your reality.
If/when you have an 'original' thought, a bit more Perspective, a deeper understanding, you will find that the old definitions no longer convey your updated understanding (which is the goal of language, no?). You will then need to redefine the words in accord with your new understanding/reality that you wish to convey. If you never go 'beyond', you'll never have the problem to deal with as that will not be your reality.

So, I think that I have expressed what I needed.
You don't have to share this view, after all, you have your unique own.
And, thus, along with every other Perspective, the universe is defined.

Bye the bye, I love the ironic inconsistency and juxtaposition of your statements;
Quote:
....you think your truth is worth more than what is agreed between many people

you complain, yet, your "agreement of many people" seems to describe the "millions of stupid people" in your next quote, thus contradicting;
Quote:
I would rather be governed by one wise person than by millions of stupid people.

One statement belies the other. And vice versa.

Happy trails
 
ACB
 
Reply Wed 25 Feb, 2009 01:42 pm
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
One statement belies the other. And vice versa.


Not necessarily. It might be preferable to be governed by one wise person than by millions of stupid people, but best of all to be governed by millions of wise people (whose wisdom consists in using language in a mutually comprehensible way).

When a language needs to express a new concept, there are basically two options:
(a) The definition of an existing term can be extended in order to express the new concept, e.g. 'wave' in physics;
(b) An existing term can be refined by the addition of extra words, e.g. 'wave function' in quantum mechanics.

But this needs to be done in a careful way, so that everyone understands precisely what is meant. Dictionaries must define new expressions entirely in terms of old ones. This should always be possible (albeit with long definitions in some cases), provided that the coiners of the new expressions are thinking clearly.

This applies to mystical concepts as well as scientific ones; mysticism is no excuse for using a private language that no-one else understands. One should either express a thought clearly, or admit that it is inexpressible.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 25 Feb, 2009 02:28 pm
@Riverdale,
nameless wrote:
Tell me that you've never heard of Oliver Wendel Holmes!?!

I have heard of Oliver Wendel Holmes. If I want advice on judicial matters, I will consult an expert on law. If I want advice on linguistics, I will consult an expert on language.

ACB wrote:

Not necessarily. It might be preferable to be governed by one wise person than by millions of stupid people, but best of all to be governed by millions of wise people (whose wisdom consists in using language in a mutually comprehensible way).


I second that notion.

Nameless,
My quote was my criticism on democracy and the nature of government, not on the nature of language. It is all fine and wonderful ideal to essentially having millions of people calling the shots, but what good is it when those millions of people are too stupid to make decisions they are expected to.
 
nameless
 
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2009 02:15 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;50595 wrote:
It is all fine and wonderful ideal to essentially having millions of people calling the shots, but what good is it when those millions of people are too stupid to make decisions they are expected to.

True; a good example is the numbers of morons that actually voted for Bush (or McCain and the *****)!
Democracy fails on that count. Idiots vote. People who need to be told how to live, vote for those who tell them how to live. Not a fruitful arrangement. Corrupt morons vote for corupt morons.
Peace
 
nameless
 
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 01:23 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;50595 wrote:
I have heard of Oliver Wendel Holmes. If I want advice on judicial matters, I will consult an expert on law. If I want advice on linguistics, I will consult an expert on language.

FYI, a good lawyer is an expert on language; all part of the job description.
You want to argue whether Holmes was a 'good lawyer' now? :brickwall:
 
 

 
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 08/08/2020 at 08:46:38