Does our ontology of what exist depend on their causal contact with us?

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Reply Wed 8 Jul, 2009 12:21 am
Let` s look at the following proposition.

1) Kate is taller than John.

The simple question is: what makes 1 true?

The standard reason for why 1 is true is because there are two things in the world( Kate, John), and they have a certain "relation" to one another that "makes" 1 true. There are objects( Kate , john), and they have the "relation" of "taller than":

1.a) Objects := { kate, john} // objects
1.b) relations := { "taller than"....} // relationship between objects

The objects and relations are also know as primtives.They are concepts left over in explanation, but are themselves unexplained. They are "basic" in the sense that they are part of reality.

So far, the explanation i gave is "ontological". By this, i mean i had posited a set of things that exist in the world. This is no different than a scientist that posits the existence of electrons. In the same way that a scientist posit the existence of electrons to explain why elements of a certain atoms behave the way they do because of their valance electrons. I had posited objects and relations to explain why 1 is true.


There is something unexplained in my explanation for why 1 is true. This is the epistemology of how i come to know there are "objects" and "relations"? This is a different sort of question as oppose to the ontological explanation i gave above. One attempt to understand the epistemology for how i come to know there are objects and relations is that i have causal contact with the objects and relations that makes 1 true. Some how, the objects( Kate and John) made themselves known to me by their effect on my sensations.


My question is: Does our ontology of what exist depend on their causal contact with us? Explicate what you mean by "causal contact"?
 
Lost2ize
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:38 am
@vectorcube,
Does it go to follow then that we can only empirically know the world around us? What we see with our eyes, touch with our skin, hear with our ears, and taste with our tongue? Could then everything be in fact completely different then what we perceive them to be?

Let me use the example of Dr. Samuel Johnson's refute of Bishop Berkeley's idealism by kicking a stone and yelling, "I refute it thus!" This refute still suffers Berkeley's philosophy of idealism, because the stone Johnson kicked was perceived to have been solid and heavy, though this perception could come with error.

One more example maybe. If my perception of the world relied on my causal contact with it (empirically) then if I perceive a shiny object before me to be a penny, then upon closer examination determine it is not pennies, then my empirical belief forming mechanisms are not always reliable and I cannot use them to determine anything with certainly anymore. I must then question if then I can accurately perceive the object in my hand to be anything I know of at all!

I don't think I answered your question in any fashion. I'm just wondering others input on this as well..
 
Theages
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 12:25 pm
@vectorcube,
Talking about "objects" and "relations" is only a way of formalizing discourse. It has nothing whatsoever to do with epistemology. It doesn't explain how we know things because it's not an empistemological explanation. Such talk is also crude and extremely misleading to read formal discourse as strictly pertaining to ontology.
 
 

 
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