How do you define nature

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kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 08:45 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
Like just about everything in philosophy, this little problem of ours comes down to definition. A word is a symbol that can be assigned to anything with equal representative power: arbitrary. When I refer to 'nature', I mean the world, all, everything that exists.


But processed foods are not natural foods, although processed foods exist. And a person breathing with the help of a ventilator is not breathing naturally, although breathing with the help of a ventilator exists. So, your definition is wrong, and therefore, definitions (of "natural") are not arbitrary.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 12:49 am
@kennethamy,
Dear Kennethamy,

Do you realize what you are saying when you say that my definition is 'wrong'? You are suggesting that the thing you think of when you bark a certain sound is what ought to be thought of when anyone barks that specific sound: 'naychur.' Definitions are arbitrary: hence, different languages.

You have defined a soup can as 'not-natural' and you said that a soup can exists; therefore, my argument is wrong. :sarcastic: Well, If I used your definition, that would be proof indeed, but I have not. My defintion accounts for the fact that soup cans exist and calls them natural. All you are saying is that 'your definition is not the same as mine, so it is wrong.'

That said, my definition expresses a certain world-view, namely, that we are the same as everything else, just more complex. You might disagree with that, but then you essentially beleive in magic, the 'supernatural,' 'the soul,' etc. That's fine, we would then have a philosophical diagreement.

However, I don't think you disagree with that idea, I think you don't make such subtle distinctions. I think you just thought, "wait a gosh darn minute...soup cans ain't natural!"
 
MJA
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 07:31 am
@BrightNoon,
Nature is true,
What about you?

=
MJA
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 11:00 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
Dear Kennethamy,

Do you realize what you are saying when you say that my definition is 'wrong'? You are suggesting that the thing you think of when you bark a certain sound is what ought to be thought of when anyone barks that specific sound: 'naychur.' Definitions are arbitrary: hence, different languages.

You have defined a soup can as 'not-natural' and you said that a soup can exists; therefore, my argument is wrong. :sarcastic: Well, If I used your definition, that would be proof indeed, but I have not. My defintion accounts for the fact that soup cans exist and calls them natural. All you are saying is that 'your definition is not the same as mine, so it is wrong.'

That said, my definition expresses a certain world-view, namely, that we are the same as everything else, just more complex. You might disagree with that, but then you essentially beleive in magic, the 'supernatural,' 'the soul,' etc. That's fine, we would then have a philosophical diagreement.

However, I don't think you disagree with that idea, I think you don't make such subtle distinctions. I think you just thought, "wait a gosh darn minute...soup cans ain't natural!"



'When [SIZE=+1]I[/SIZE] use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.' 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them - particularly verbs: they're the proudest - adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs - however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'
'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'
'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'
'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'
'Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.
'Ah, you should see 'em come round me of a Saturday night,' Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side, 'for to get their wages, you know.'
(Alice didn't venture to ask what he paid them with; so you see I can't tell you.)



From "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll.

Apparently you subscrilbe to the Humpty-Dumpty theory of meaning. I don't.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 02:32 pm
@kennethamy,
O gentle Kennethamy;
are you man or lady?
have you got a brain tumor
or just a bad sense of humour?

From me, just now, writhing in irritation at having wasted time speaking to what appears to be a poorly designed computer program: i.e. you.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 06:54 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
O gentle Kennethamy;
are you man or lady?
have you got a brain tumor
or just a bad sense of humour?

From me, just now, writhing in irritation at having wasted time speaking to what appears to be a poorly designed computer program: i.e. you.


Does that mean you do not know what to say? I can understand that. Think about Humpty-Dumpty.
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 07:37 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil said:

Quote:

Well... I believe that humans are just as much a part of nature as any other natural phenomena, no more and no less.


I concur.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 08:35 pm
@zolasdisciple,
K-dawg, I know just what to say. In fact, I already said it in the post to which you responded with that quote from Through the Looking Glass. You don't seem capable of understanding, or you are willfully ignoring, what I said. If the former, there is no point adressing you like a thoughtful person; if the latter, you don't belong here. I don't think you can explain how that quote of yours refutes what I'm saying. In case you want to try, here is my point once again.

A word's meaning is determined by the person using it at any given time. Whatever a particular sound is said to represent by that person, is what it represents in the context of what that person is saying. No words is destined by God or any other imagined supreme power to represent a certain thing. The fact that Merriam Webster has decided that a certain sound has a certain meaning is of no consequence. Anyone could make a dictionairy defining things in another way; which would be right? Neither; words are arbitrary. As I understand, Mr. Carroll thinks the same thing...that is the point being expressed by Humpty Dumtpy. Language is absurd and not rational.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 07:32 am
@zolasdisciple,
What if by Nature, one were to say that it was the universe without human meaning? It would then be an undifferentiated mass of stuff without universals or names.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 08:17 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
K-dawg, I know just what to say. In fact, I already said it in the post to which you responded with that quote from Through the Looking Glass. You don't seem capable of understanding, or you are willfully ignoring, what I said. If the former, there is no point adressing you like a thoughtful person; if the latter, you don't belong here. I don't think you can explain how that quote of yours refutes what I'm saying. In case you want to try, here is my point once again.

A word's meaning is determined by the person using it at any given time. Whatever a particular sound is said to represent by that person, is what it represents in the context of what that person is saying. No words is destined by God or any other imagined supreme power to represent a certain thing. The fact that Merriam Webster has decided that a certain sound has a certain meaning is of no consequence. Anyone could make a dictionairy defining things in another way; which would be right? Neither; words are arbitrary. As I understand, Mr. Carroll thinks the same thing...that is the point being expressed by Humpty Dumtpy. Language is absurd and not rational.


The dictionary does not make up the meanings by which the words are defined (as you suggest). It does not decide that a certain sound has a certain meaning (as you suggest). A dictionary is compiled by discovering how fluent speakers of the language use the terms (it does this by collecting many sample of how a particular term is used) and then the editors of the dictionary collate these many samples, and try to extract a meaning (or meanings) from them. This is a long and arduous process. The way dictionaries are created by lexicographers is interesting. Any good dictionary has an introduction which describes the process. I suggest you read about it. What you write about it is false. The Humpty-Dumpty theory of meaning is that anyone can give whatever meaning he likes to a word. Clearly, were that really true, communication by language would be impossible. If that were true, we would not be able to correct children or foreigners when they used a term wrongly, for there would be no such thing as the wrong use of a word. Words have public meanings and not private meanings. That is what enables us to use language to communicate. Lewis Carroll is not endorsing Humpty-Dumpty's theory, he is, in fact, satirizing a particular view of language. Your view. That's why he puts the view into the mouth of an egg.
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boagie
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 09:08 am
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
What if by Nature, one were to say that it was the universe without human meaning? It would then be an undifferentiated mass of stuff without universals or names.


Jgweed,Smile

Without a subject there would be nothing conjectured. Is not reality as we know it, a perception, without that perception again, no conjecture, no object. Reality simply cannot do without biology.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 09:39 am
@boagie,
Nature could be objective, physical reality.

Nature could be subjective, metaphysical humanity.

It all depends on what topic you are engaged in.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 09:49 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
Nature could be objective, physical reality.

Nature could be subjective, metaphysical humanity.

It all depends on what topic you are engaged in.



Mr Fight the Power,Smile

The one inescapable fact is that in the absence of a subject or in the absence of object, the other does not exist, reality is perception, is subject dependent, biologically dependent, object dependent. Now for the entertainment of philosophical ideas one may be able to ignore this reality, it might even prove productive in some abstract way, but it would be outside the realm of reality. As I have stated before, apparent reality is a biological readout, utterly biologically dependent. Ultimate reality is another matter, and beyond our biological perception, but for it ever to be reality at all for us, it would need to be defined through our biology,
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 10:49 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Mr Fight the Power,Smile

The one inescapable fact is that in the absence of a subject or in the absence of object, the other does not exist, reality is perception, is subject dependent, biologically dependent, object dependent. Now for the entertainment of philosophical ideas one may be able to ignore this reality, it might even prove productive in some abstract way, but it would be outside the realm of reality. As I have stated before, apparent reality is a biological readout, utterly biologically dependent. Ultimate reality is another matter, and beyond our biological perception, but for it ever to be reality at all for us, it would need to be defined through our biology,


I agree.

I am just offering a definition for nature, not making a comment on how it is observed or if it exists.

Nature can mean all that is.

Or nature can mean the basic constitution of a person.

And indeed, one cannot understand the basic constitution of a person without understanding its place amongst all that is, nor can one understand all that is without first understanding the basic constitution of the observer.

That is why we are fucked.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 11:44 am
@kennethamy,


[quote=kennethamy] The dictionary does not make up the meanings by which the words are defined (as you suggest). It does not decide that a certain sound has a certain meaning (as you suggest). [/quote]



[quote] A dictionary is compiled by discovering how fluent speakers of the language use the terms (it does this by collecting many sample of how a particular term is used) and then the editors of the dictionary collate these many samples, and try to extract a meaning (or meanings) from them. [/quote]



Do you think that everyone who speaks English, for example, uses every word in exactly the same way, to express exactly the same idea? Obviously, our disagreement disproves that. If there do exist different understandings of the same word, how does the editor of a dictionary or any other person determine which understanding is the 'correct' one? (Correct for whom?) Is there an absolute standard that he can use for comparison?

To say that a statistical majority determines the correct meaning is absurd. If 97% of people use nature in the way you mean it, and .5% use it in the way I mean it, what reason is there for saying that your meaning is the correct one in all cases; that makes no sense and is plainly false. Your meaning is correct as you use it, mine as I use it.

In philosophy especially, it is necessary often to redefine common words, such as nature, so that one can use a simple word instead of a paragraph every time one wants to express a certain idea. For example, it is helpful for me to use nature, having defined it in this special way, each time that idea comes up, rather than waste time repetitively explaining the idea: namely, that humanity is not essentially different from anything else and that it is only a matter of complexity.

Do you understand?

:poke-eye:
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 12:05 pm
@BrightNoon,
Mr Fight the Power,Smile


I think you must agree however that apparent nature is the same as apparent reality, and is biologically dependent. Ultimate nature, as ultimate reality is beyond our biological conception. That which is not exerienced or, that which cannot be experienced cannot be conjectured.

"Nature can mean all that is." quote

You are getting into numerical complexity here I think, in actuality the concept is abstract and unreal I believe, not sure, but, it would make an interesting debate.Very Happy
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 12:56 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:










Do you think that everyone who speaks English, for example, uses every word in exactly the same way, to express exactly the same idea? Obviously, our disagreement disproves that. If there do exist different understandings of the same word, how does the editor of a dictionary or any other person determine which understanding is the 'correct' one? (Correct for whom?) Is there an absolute standard that he can use for comparison?

To say that a statistical majority determines the correct meaning is absurd. If 97% of people use nature in the way you mean it, and .5% use it in the way I mean it, what reason is there for saying that your meaning is the correct one in all cases; that makes no sense and is plainly false. Your meaning is correct as you use it, mine as I use it.

In philosophy especially, it is necessary often to redefine common words, such as nature, so that one can use a simple word instead of a paragraph every time one wants to express a certain idea. For example, it is helpful for me to use nature, having defined it in this special way, each time that idea comes up, rather than waste time repetitively explaining the idea: namely, that humanity is not essentially different from anything else and that it is only a matter of complexity.

Do you understand?

:poke-eye:


I don't see the contradiction. And, no, there may be slight differences in how people use terms, but the core meaning is given by the dictionary, since the dictionary reports how fluent speakers of the language use the term. That is why when there is a dispute about the meaning of a term, we go to the dictionary as an authority; just as we do in the case of spelling. It is not, of course, the statistical majority which determines the meaning or use of a term, but the consensus of fluent speakers of the language, usually the educated ones.

There are technical philosophical terms like; "analytic" or "synthetic", or "transcendental", or "idealism", just as there are in any professional discipline, like law, or medicine, or engineering. And the meanings of those terms are the result of the the use of those terms by the community of professional speakers. But philosophers also talk about ordinary terms in the language, like "truth", or "knowledge", or "thought", and, of course, those words are no different from words like "table", or "lamp", or "vase". Their meaning are given by how they are used by fluent speakers of the language. They are not super-words that have to be redefined by philosophers, although philosophers may tease out meaning the dictionary has not got round to, and may refine and sharpen those meanings.
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Blazenarrow
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 01:11 pm
@zolasdisciple,
zolasdisciple wrote:
In many philosophical doctrines nature plays a key role. How do you define nature? I am constantly wondering if man is from nature or is man nature/a part of nature itself. Today I made an observation that maybe nature is innate life. This would really help me in my studies so what do you guys think? Thanx,jessica:brickwall::detective:


Jessica-

Are you familiar with the Gaia Hypothesis? Well you might find it quite interesting to explore the concept a little.

To me, nature is a very broad idea. The word nature stems from a latin word meaning natural course, or something similar. So I would say that nature could be looked at as the underlying processes governing all the cosmos.
 
BaCaRdi
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:10 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan wrote:
Well, perhaps boagie will pop in and explain what he means. I assumed that he meant that man's propensity for unregulated, unchecked growth was very similar to the mechanics of a cancer cell with often similar consequences to the system it inhabits.

Perhaps I'm mistaken (my apologies if I am) but I detect a tone in your post that indicates that you may think I might be one of those wild-eyed nature-boys spouting baseless environmentalist dogma and rhetoric, and waving my tattered copy of Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang over my head like a Pentecostal supplicant while marching about in a cloud of patchouli oil in my hemp sandals and Inconvenient Truth t-shirt.

Sadly, that would be an incorrect assumption.

While it's true that I believe that we should strive to be more environmentally responsible, and I enjoy the writings of such authors as Muir, Whitman, Thoreau, Emerson, et al, I have as yet to succumb to the cult of radical environmentalism, which is brilliantly described here: MichaelCrichton.com | Environmentalism as Religion. Rest in Peace, Michael.

I believe there are elements of truth in both camps regarding how we should, or should not, treat the environment in which we live. There is also a level of arrogance, distrust, and hypocrisy that comes with the taking of an extremist viewpoint on both sides, which, of course, is what makes it very difficult for either side to accomplish anything positive.

That being said, your comment that "diseases of thought, like diseases of the body, are caused by a one-sided diet" is absolutely accurate. I agree entirely. What you are talking about (at least what I have inferred) is that balance and harmony are essential for health. I would simply like to see this same level of balance applied to environmental concerns, as a healthy environment is as essential for a healthy body and mind as is the food we eat and the information we process.

Regards,
Tock


I was going to reply to this thread...But you phrased it much better than I would..

Cheers for that mate;)

-BaCs
 
MJA
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:41 am
@BrightNoon,
Defining Nature's Health


[CENTER]SELF CONTROL[/CENTER]



I believe the cure for an unhealthy planet is simpler than the complexities and advancements of science and technology, but rather only a human balance that is required. How many people can this little planet sustain, or, how many people can Earth balance or maintain at one-time? The human population is over 6.6 billion and growing. I believe sadly, and think it only obvious, that we are the cancer devouring this planet, its resources, as well as ourselves; nothing else can be blamed. The bi-product of mankind's over use and abuse is the poisoning and killing of everything, air, land, oceans, plants and animals, animals including us. The health of Earth is the health of ourselves; we are one and the same. A healthy Earth requires a natural self-sustainability; the overpopulation of mankind has tipped the scale well beyond a renewable balance. Is there enough food for everyone? No. Are the forests regenerating? No. Are the fishes of the oceans still plentiful? No. Does water have time to naturally cleanse itself? No. Do plants have time to clean the air? No. Have we lost our own human value to overpopulation, to supply and demand, wow? Is it not obvious again? Is the Earth sick, does it have a fever similar to us when we get sick? Is the temperature rising, is it getting hot? Yes. While we attempt to manage and control everything else in nature, from capturing over abundant wild horses and the thinning of forests, to the poisoning of insects, and the control of even water, we have lost control of ourselves. Did man ever have it? It is only us in need of management, and truly in need of control.

How many people can the Earth sustain?
What about self-control?


=
MJA
 
 

 
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