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Punaxe
05-09-09, 23:39
The topic has been touched upon a few times before in debate threads, but I think it deserves its own thread for a couple of reasons. For one the fact that it's often come to pass earlier illustrates its relevance to many different aspects, but it is also just an interesting topic in itself as it deals with the fundamentals of our lives and of our world views. I think everyone would benefit from having defined his own view on the matter. Furthermore I think it is a good topic for open debate: because there is no right or wrong, I don't expect any flame wars, and all those who are interested in it can be helped by the discussion.

Take me for example. I know nothing about philosophy, but I do like to dwell in its realm and think about the issues for myself. This is one such issue, and as an introduction, I will just write down a few situations that came to pass me by that helped me form my view as it is now.

Basically, I answered for myself the following three questions, and this thread would be off to a good start if everyone interested did the same:

1. Is there such a thing as an objective reality?
2. Do man-made objects have a definitive purpose?
3. If so, what other metaphysical aspects are definitive?

(Now follows my story, feel free to just start answering/discussing instead of reading this :p)

I often discuss various things with a friend of mine, and we tend to disagree alot. One time, when we really took our time to dig it out, we found that we had one fundamental difference in our views, that formed the basis for many of our disagreements: I thought there was such a thing as an objective reality, whereas my friend believed that, for all effects and purposes, there was no reality beyond his own interpretation of reality.

His stance: Metaphysical subjectivism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_subjectivism)
He is not convinced that anything truly exists outside of his own mind: for all he knows, his entire life could be one big "dream", or his own brain running its own version of the Matrix. If he dies, (his) reality ceases to exist.

My stance: Philosophical realism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_realism)
While I admit that a large, if not huge, part of our experience of reality is subjective, I believe that this experience is caused by external stimuli which reside in an obective reality, a reality that we share with everything else in the universe, a reality that will continue to exist after I have died.

At a later time we started discussing truth, by means of discussing whether or not all objects had a defined purpose. The example we used was from The Little Mermaid: Ariel at some point found a fork, which is of course meant for eating. However, she had never seen one before, and figured that it was to go into her hair as a hairclip.
My friend's stance was consistent with his previous notions: an object's purpose only exists in the mind of the observer. If for Ariel personally the fork's purpose was to keep her hair tidy, then that was indeed the fork's purpose.
I personally felt the need to resort to a philosophical, metaphysical explanation on top of my realist view. First of all I stated that everything that came forth out of human action did indeed have a purpose: either the thing itself had a purpose, or the process by which it was formed had a purpose, or both. The original creator of this thing then, had the sole authority to declare a purpose to it: Ariel's fork was made for eating by its original creator, therefore the fork's purpose was for eating. I differentiate in this case one single purpose and any number of possible uses. Each man-made object has at least one original, definitive purpose, but other uses may be found for it. Ariel could have done plenty of things with that fork, but only if she used it for eating, her use of it was in accordance with its original purpose.
Of course, an object's original purpose can get lost to our knowledge: think of all the archaeological finds that we still cannot classify with certainty. Does that mean however that we cannot be wrong about what we think an object was used for? Surely we can: our interpretations of an object's use can be in accordance with its original purpose, and it cannot.
My stance therefore is that there is such a thing as objective truth. An object's original purpose is such a truth. It is however possible that we will never know for sure whether or not our interpretations are in accordance with this truth. These truths are in the metaphysical realm, to which we do not have access. We can be wrong or right, but we may never be certain.

Finally I was discussing this metaphysical realm I conjured up with another friend of mine, who put to me something Aristotle had asked. He asked whether or not the statement "Tomorrow, there will be a battle" could today be said to be true or not. In all objectivity of course, we cannot be sure about what will happen in the future. We can assign certain probabilities, but that's about it.
But, can such a claim about future happenings be in accordance with objective truth or can it not? I really liked this question she asked me because I had thought of a metaphysical realm containing truths, but had not yet thought about the different kinds of truths that this realm could hold. As she forced me to refine my view, I concluded that one can only be in accordance with either universal truths (truths relating to the objective reality) or historical truths: things that already happened. My philosophical metaphysical realm does not contain insights into the future.

Just to clarify, I do not actually believe that this metaphysical realm exists; I merely use it for philosophical ponderings.

Anyway, I realize this was quite a long text but I figured it could be used as introduction for everyone, just as it helped me to form an opinion on this all.

Please, share and discuss your views, and let others help you to refine them!

Mokono
06-09-09, 00:49
Excellent thread :tmb:.

I don't know where to start, so i'll go for your questions first.

1. Is there such a thing as an objective reality?
2. Do man-made objects have a definitive purpose?
3. If so, what other metaphysical aspects are definitive?

1) I think there's indeed a reality given. Reality is the universal context where everything is shown up in it's multiple stages. Each object and subject are submitted to this, but we have our differences. I'm referring as subjects to the conscient entities that can think for their own, and objects to the rest of things in the physic world. There are also symbols, images, concepts, but let's develop that later. As i was saying, i do think there's an objective reality, but it's not the one we're living in, by saying this i'm referring that we can substruct our own reality from that "prime" given one. This is my favourite example:

http://i31.************/2j4zr5i.png

In this pic we can see a map of dots. I'm not implying that reality is a 2D plain with a limited amount of dots in it. I actually would have love to use a figure that express all the dots possible in all the graphical dimensions possible, but there are certain "limitations" that can't permit me to do so. In the context of the example, reality is supposed to be like this map... A map that allows us to use many combinations to forge our own reality based in our perceptive features.

http://i30.************/dmee84.png

Being that way, then this second pictures could be one of it's given faces substructed in wich we also reside. Each one of us might draw branches that matches each personal taste and development, but we still share the same real living world environment. I believe that in case there might be other forms of living things, their reality would be different, and so on.

I hope i made sense here, but i also expect some critics (very welcome, since is the way we polish our thoughts :D).

2) I think man made objects have three defined stages: Preconception, realization, and utilization. I also think these stages implies their own strain of thoughts, let's keep using Ariel's example. According to your point of view, the fork has it's one and only inherent use (as a fork), while there are the uses wich might be ad infinitum. I think there's also a prelude prior to the fork notion; this is, that "only use" inherent to what it is was concieved in the preconception stage. If there was a way to change the preconception of being used as a "feeding tool" (basic description, i obviously know there are spoons, knives, etc) then fork wouldn't be fork anymore: Let's say, why if ancients invented something else instead for the same purposes? As for the realization stage, this is the phase when a being uses his skills to materialize what it's mind thinks might worth for it's purposes. I'd like to quote 2 different images for this example:

http://i25.************/28qxnp5.jpghttp://i28.************/333h63k.jpg

They have their similarities and differences, wich is pretty interesting to notice. I'm not gonna dig out that language would have probably developed different semantics for each object... Let's focus on it's purposes first. Object B is used for horticultural purposes, while object A is a table utensil. From someone's point of view, object B might be just the jumbo version of object B or vice versa. This is mainly because the individual who express this point of view thinks that the process these objects were concieved share a similarity (the most basic action they execute is "to lift"). So in summary, there's is not a definitive purpose for man-made objects as they are, the purpose is forged by us, and can also be changed by us.

3) As for subjectivism, i wouldn't link it definitely with metaphysics :p. But as long as the question goes, i think the definitve aspects lies in the being, or the group of beings, in the phenomenons that interact with us and in the sense we have to percieve them. I also haven't developed "intentionality" as it is in the previous point, but is think it's a main point to be considered.

Encore
06-09-09, 00:50
Well, reality is a human concept too ain't it? :D I mean, what exactly do you use to measure reality? 'Cause, if it's the human senses then your friend is probably right. Reality is anything we experience as such.

But I think in a way science proved that there's a reality outside our own consciousness because, with science we were able to discover things that our senses completely contradict. For example, we discovered that the earth moves around the sun and not the oposite, despite our eyes telling us diferent every day... We discovered that light is made of actual particles even though we can't touch them, see them, etc.

If the world was like The Matrix I think that what happens in the movie would eventually happen too: someone would realize that something just isn't right and try to find out why, even though everything appears fine. That's human nature.

Catapharact
06-09-09, 01:05
1. Is there such a thing as an objective reality?

Ans.) My answer is the same as stance no. 1. Objectivism is rarely a set astute thing within the preception of the human mind. We rarely have the capacity to predict the benifits or the concequences of our actions to a 100 percent accuracy other then what we precieve and react through our subjective instictive nature or through our senses. Truth in that sense becomes a realitive notion; You have everyone who has a piece of a broken pot claming that they have the enitre pot; Yet all they have is just a piece... The only set truth is that you exist... That is all.

2. Do man-made objects have a definitive purpose?

Monoko answered it best. I couldn't have have said it better myself.

Uzi master
06-09-09, 01:45
this thread seems quite interesting, I suppose it will bring up manny topics such as how our language could have been created in some way or another, bassically the consept of language like if a baby was raised by cats would it understand them? but I'm going to use realism right now, to us we might call a baby small, why? because it is right? no one really knows, to a cat it would be normal sized, to a flea it would be giant defieing our own logic. any thoughts on this? or anything to add?

Edit: to be a little more clear I ment the reality of size just in case you didn't get it completely.

Punaxe
06-09-09, 12:47
Excellent thread :tmb:.

I don't know where to start, so i'll go for your questions first.



1) I think there's indeed a reality given. Reality is the universal context where everything is shown up in it's multiple stages. Each object and subject are submitted to this, but we have our differences. I'm referring as subjects to the conscient entities that can think for their own, and objects to the rest of things in the physic world. There are also symbols, images, concepts, but let's develop that later. As i was saying, i do think there's an objective reality, but it's not the one we're living in, by saying this i'm referring that we can substruct our own reality from that "prime" given one. This is my favourite example:

http://i31.************/2j4zr5i.png

In this pic we can see a map of dots. I'm not implying that reality is a 2D plain with a limited amount of dots in it. I actually would have love to use a figure that express all the dots possible in all the graphical dimensions possible, but there are certain "limitations" that can't permit me to do so. In the context of the example, reality is supposed to be like this map... A map that allows us to use many combinations to forge our own reality based in our perceptive features.

http://i30.************/dmee84.png

Being that way, then this second pictures could be one of it's given faces substructed in wich we also reside. Each one of us might draw branches that matches each personal taste and development, but we still share the same real living world environment. I believe that in case there might be other forms of living things, their reality would be different, and so on.

I hope i made sense here, but i also expect some critics (very welcome, since is the way we polish our thoughts :D).

I agree with you here, this is my view also. We humans can sense only a limited amount of stimuli: a limited range of elctromagnetic energy (vision), a limited range of air pressure waves (hearing), a limited number of chemical compositions (taste and smell), et cetera. These are the 'dots' we are naturally capable of utilizing. I think it is beyond doubt that other organisms perceive reality differently depending on their set of senses and the place they live (also see for example the common pondskater, which lives in what's almost a 2D environment).
How different each of us humans people perceive the world, I cannot say though. Most of us have the same set of 'dots' available to us, but inhowfar those dots actually create our perceived reality is not yet known. Personally though I think the differences are small.

2) I think man made objects have three defined stages: Preconception, realization, and utilization. I also think these stages implies their own strain of thoughts, let's keep using Ariel's example. According to your point of view, the fork has it's one and only inherent use (as a fork), while there are the uses wich might be [I]ad infinitum. I think there's also a prelude prior to the fork notion; this is, that "only use" inherent to what it is was concieved in the preconception stage. If there was a way to change the preconception of being used as a "feeding tool" (basic description, i obviously know there are spoons, knives, etc) then fork wouldn't be fork anymore: Let's say, why if ancients invented something else instead for the same purposes? As for the realization stage, this is the phase when a being uses his skills to materialize what it's mind thinks might worth for it's purposes. I'd like to quote 2 different images for this example:

[IMG]http://i25.************/28qxnp5.jpg[IMG]http://i28.************/333h63k.jpg

They have their similarities and differences, wich is pretty interesting to notice. I'm not gonna dig out that language would have probably developed different semantics for each object... Let's focus on it's purposes first. Object B is used for horticultural purposes, while object A is a table utensil. From someone's point of view, object B might be just the jumbo version of object B or vice versa. This is mainly because the individual who express this point of view thinks that the process these objects were concieved share a similarity (the most basic action they execute is "to lift"). So in summary, there's is not a definitive purpose for man-made objects as they are, the purpose is forged by us, and can also be changed by us.

I agree that the preconception stage is important in relation to what the original purpose would be, and it is possible that two entirely similar objects are created to two different purposes.
But to come back to my original post: if we found a fork, and we tried to figure out what it was used for, could we be wrong in our conclusion? If so, there must be something to compare our conclusion to, and that something would be its original purpose. As this cannot be changed, it must be an objective truth.
I think the original purpose cannot be changed by us, unless we physically create a new object: as I said, this to me is the only time in which we have the authority to give purpose. If I take a fork and cut some parts off so I can better use it in my hair, then I have made a new object, the new purpose of which is to be used in one's hair. If I do not alter the fork but still use it for my hair, my use of it is not in correspondence with its original purpose, and while I may have given it a new purpose, I think it is better to call this a new "use" not to confuse it with its original purpose.

3) As for subjectivism, i wouldn't link it definitely with metaphysics :p. But as long as the question goes, i think the definitve aspects lies in the being, or the group of beings, in the phenomenons that interact with us and in the sense we have to percieve them. I also haven't developed "intentionality" as it is in the previous point, but is think it's a main point to be considered.

Perhaps I worded the question a bit wrong, originally I wanted to directly in question 2 if there was such a thing as objective truth, and then follow with the question how far this truth could reach. I then replaced the second question with the one about purpose, so now my adaptation of the third question may not be entirely consistent anymore.

So maybe it should be:
3. Do you think there is such a thing as objective truth?
4. What does this objective truth encompass?

Well, reality is a human concept too ain't it? :D I mean, what exactly do you use to measure reality? 'Cause, if it's the human senses then your friend is probably right. Reality is anything we experience as such. (...)

Well, we have many different ways in which we 'measure' reality, but in the end it all has to go through our brain, and as such one may believe that it has always been inside our brain to begin with. Who is to say that you are not the only one in your reality, and you have invented this 'science' thing all by yourself?

1. Is there such a thing as an objective reality?

Ans.) My answer is the same as stance no. 1. Objectivism is rarely a set astute thing within the preception of the human mind. We rarely have the capacity to predict the benifits or the concequences of our actions to a 100 percent accuracy other then what we precieve and react through our subjective instictive nature or through our senses. Truth in that sense becomes a realitive notion; You have everyone who has a piece of a broken pot claming that they have the enitre pot; Yet all they have is just a piece... The only set truth is that you exist... That is all. (...)

I agree that the only truth we (I) can be sure of is that we (I) exist, but could that not be called an objective reality/truth in itself? If we both existed, unaware of each other, and I thought I would be the only one in existence, would I not be wrong? I, in a philosophical sense, would believe that there'd be a metaphysical realm containing in this case two exemplary truths: "Catapharact exists" and "Punaxe exists". And if we both did indeed exist, this would have to be within the objective reality: If our own existence was only in our own reality, how could we actually exist? Is that not an infinite regression?

this thread seems quite interesting, I suppose it will bring up manny topics such as how our language could have been created in some way or another, bassically the consept of language like if a baby was raised by cats would it understand them? but I'm going to use realism right now, to us we might call a baby small, why? because it is right? no one really knows, to a cat it would be normal sized, to a flea it would be giant defieing our own logic. any thoughts on this? or anything to add?

Edit: to be a little more clear I ment the reality of size just in case you didn't get it completely.

I believe there have been cases were children were left to animals, and they did indeed develop a certain skill of communication. I guess that goes to show that language can be developed simply by observing (hearing others speak), imitation (trying to do it yourself) and trial-and-error (if it didn't work, try something else). With us humans it's a bit more complicated than that I think, because we have created an entire set of rules that appear to be unnatural (otherwise, people wouldn't make as many mistakes as they do). We have designated the word 'small' to be used to refer to something that is of comparatively little size, and all children will learn this meaning either by hearing others use it or by learning it from a book or so. Note the word comparatively: smaller humans will use the word differently than larger humans, but because we all know the word refers to a comparative size, i.e. because we all use the same definition and know how it is to be used in context, we do understand each other.

Catapharact
06-09-09, 13:55
And if we both did indeed exist, this would have to be within the objective reality: If our own existence was only in our own reality, how could we actually exist? Is that not an infinite regression?

It isn't for the same reason why self-existance is the ultimate truth; In order for you to be decieved about your existance in your reality, you still have to have a mind ;). True that such train of thought would qualify as infinite regression but the essense and the core of that given truth still can't be refuted; The basic idea of self existance still qualifies as the ultimate truth.

patriots88888
06-09-09, 16:17
I'm not much into deep philosophical debates or discussions but I've thought about certain things which don't have a verbose or descriptive definition such as color. The only way we can 'describe' colors is by their wavelength. So how can anyone be certain that what one (I) see as red, another (you) may not see as blue? Just because two individuals might acknowledge they are both seeing the color red for example, there's actually no way to be certain of this. They were both taught and discovered the words we use to label colors, however there's no actual way (in a descriptive sense) of discerning the color they are both seeing, hence no way to be certain they are indeed seeing that color as the same. While we know through the science of anatomy that the cones in the human retina enable us to see colors (red, green, and blue) can we be certain that every individual's cones function in the exact same way in the sense of the example I gave?

Not sure if this qualifies as an objective reality or objective truth as it pertains to the threads purpose. Just something I've always wondered about.

Punaxe
06-09-09, 16:20
It isn't for the same reason why self-existance is the ultimate truth; In order for you to be decieved about your existance in your reality, you still have to have a mind ;). True that such train of thought would qualify as infinite regression but the essense and the core of that given truth still can't be refuted; The basic idea of self existance still qualifies as the ultimate truth.

Would you say 'ultimate truth' is something else than 'objective truth'? And, unless you deny that other thinking entities may also be in existence, would you say that both your existences share a reality (regardless of awareness of this reality) or would you say that those are still entirely different planes of existence? And in either case, what about your respective ultimate truths?
I'm not much into deep philosophical debates or discussions but I've thought about certain things which don't have a verbose or descriptive definition such as color. The only way we can 'describe' colors is by their wavelength. So how can anyone be certain that what one (I) see as red, another (you) may not see as blue? Just because two individuals might acknowledge they are both seeing the color red for example, there's actually no way to be certain of this. They were both taught and discovered the words we use to label colors, however there's no actual way (in a descriptive sense) of discerning the color they are both seeing, hence no way to be certain they are indeed seeing that color as the same. While we know through the science of anatomy that the cones in the human retina enable us to see colors (red, green, and blue) can we be certain that every individual's cones function in the exact same way in the sense of the example I gave?

Not sure if this qualifies as an objective reality or objective truth as it pertains to the threads purpose. Just something I've always wondered about.

I think colour is a key example used when people talk about subjective experiences. Indeed we cannot know how others experience the vision of colour. In light of this thread, I think we can differentiate between perception and sensation.
In the objective reality (as I see it), electromagnetic energy with certain properties reaches a person's retina. This person's cells picking up this energy and translating it into another kind of energy is this person's perception. After that, it travels to the brain and the person becomes aware of it, and that's where it becomes the person's subjective sensation. We still have no idea of the steps between perception and sensation, so indeed we cannot say anything about the differences.
But since nothing in the brain stands alone, everything is connected, and most connections are formed on the basis of subjective experiences, I think it stands to reason that the exact sensations are likely to be different in one way or another. Colour may just be a 'label' we use: a bat, who uses air pressure waves as its 'vision', will also 'label' the things he perceives in different ways (based on distance, for example) - who is to say the bat doesn't experience distance like we experience colours? The only thing that counts is the ability to discern. How the brain does that, may for a great deal be up to the brain itself (e.g. by means of making connections).

The words we have given to colours apply to the electromagnetic energy that we perceive, as well as, by extension, to our sensations of that energy. For all intents and purposes, as long as we can communicate it to each other, our differences in sensation do not matter. Interesting to note is perhaps that language does affect our ability to discern colours. In Russian for example, there is no word for 'blue' - they only have goluboy (light blue) and siniy (dark blue). Russians, as a result, are better in discriminating light blue from dark blue. (Source (http://www.pnas.org/content/104/19/7780.abstract).)

Dennis's Mom
06-09-09, 19:10
In Russian for example, there is no word for 'blue' - they only have goluboy (light blue) and siniy (dark blue). Russians, as a result, are better in discriminating light blue from dark blue. (Source (http://www.pnas.org/content/104/19/7780.abstract).)

I don't think this means a physical ability though, merely that they perforce must automatically chose one label in their mind immediately since there is no "catch all" phrase. It's a function of language limitations rather than ability. They must choose because there is no alternative.

I think it is a fair bet to say that "my blue" is the same as "your blue." The physical element is consistent for one (barring defects.) We all seem to not see things we know are there (i.e., the infrared spectrum), so there is probably some consistency in how things we see appear.

Punaxe
06-09-09, 19:23
I don't think this means a physical ability though, merely that they perforce must automatically chose one label in their mind immediately since there is no "catch all" phrase. It's a function of language limitations rather than ability. They must choose because there is no alternative.

I think it is a fair bet to say that "my blue" is the same as "your blue." The physical element is consistent for one (barring defects.) We all seem to not see things we know are there (i.e., the infrared spectrum), so there is probably some consistency in how things we see appear.

Well no, it won't affect their eyes' physical ability to discern colours, no, but it does affect their cognitive ability to do so. As they indeed must choose, they also become more adept in making that choice. That's about it.

And yeah, the physical grounds are all the same for us, but you will agree that no two brains are the same, and sensation is based on what the brain makes of it. I too tend to think that the differences will probably be small, but as far as I know there are no breakthrough arguments to support either position.

Cochrane
06-09-09, 22:03
Oh, that's a good thread. To answer the (revised) questions:

1. To be entirely honest, I can't actually know. As far as I know, you could all be just figments of my imagination. However, I do think that even if it does not exist, an objective reality seems to be a very appropriate model for the situation we find ourselves in, so I generally presume that there is one.

On a more scientific notion: I see no way to disprove the idea that I do live in the Matrix, which makes it, as a scientific theory, uninteresting.

2. I take a very practical approach here, which means that I don't think there's something like a definitive purpose to man-made objects. The original creator has no control over what the users do, and users can create something entirely new out of things that were once meant completely differently. In fact, most of the world's interesting technology was developed that way in the first place. Limiting a fork to, erm, forking, is neither realistic nor helpful.

3 and 4. I've been thinking a bit about the difference between truth and reality in the context of these questions, and I guess I found it by resorting to maths: We may all be living in a Matrix, with all what our senses feel being a lie, but the statement that there are no positive integers p, q so that (p*p)/(q*q) = 1+1 is an objective truth (in a system of a set of axioms that I can explain more if someone is interested).

Maths does not assume anything, it just says "In a body where the following assumptions are true…*this follows:", and I think that is an objective truth.

In a different direction, I do like the idea that's been posted here saying that my existence is an objective truth to me. Assuming that I am really special (e.g. existing) runs counter to most of my life's experiences, but assuming I'm not runs counter to the idea that I can't know whether there is an objective reality, if I assume that I do, indeed, exist (I think, therefore I am, right?). Neither is a good reason to reject the other idea, though.

SpaceChild
07-09-09, 01:49
From the initial post: "Metaphysical Subjectivism - He is not convinced that anything truly exists outside of his own mind: for all he knows, his entire life could be one big 'dream', or his own brain running its own version of the Matrix."

The proposition "there's no evidence that anything truly exists outside of [my] own mind" is logically self-refuting. In formulating the very sentence, the person uttering it is conceding that there is something called "evidence," that there is something else called "truth," and something called "outside," and something called a "mind" and that there is a "me" to whom it belongs. Every word he utters, and all of the concrete referents subsumed in each concept that each word denotes, is nonchalantly made use of in attempting to deny the very existence of those words, those concepts, and everything else. In logic this is called the Fallacy of the Stolen Concept.

In short, if existence is "subjective," so is the entire substance of his very proposition. It's a logical short-circuit that collapses under the weight of its own internal contradiction. It's as if nothing had been said.

The metaphysical idea that "there is no existence beyond my own mind" is a very old one, but no less false. In formal terms it's called the Primacy of Consciousness and it has its roots in Plato. The opposite is the Primacy of Existence metaphysics, which was Aristotle's correction. Only the latter is demonstrable and logically valid.

I would recommend to Punaxe that he have a bit of fun with his friend. Challenge him to put up or shut up, say by standing in the middle of an expressway, on the theory that cars and trucks, like the rest of existence, are subjective dreams.

Huh? :D

Catapharact
07-09-09, 02:02
The metaphysical idea that "there is no existence beyond my own mind" is a very old one, but no less false. In formal terms it's called the Primacy of Consciousness and it has its roots in Plato. The opposite is the Primacy of Existence metaphysics, which was Aristotle's correction. Only the latter is demonstrable and logically valid.

Correction: Demonstrated through the relm of our own limited preception ;). We don't know what happens when we die or the process after. Primacy of existance falls upon a more logically "probable" case but it still isn't 100% accurate as any good skeptic will tell you ;). Offcourse I do acknowladge that it has a more stronger case going for it then the Primacy of Consciouness but it still can't be considered the Ultimate truth.

larafan25
07-09-09, 02:41
I am interested in this thread:)

however I don't have a clue what objective reality is...like the reality of objects or humans...or "things" in the universe?:)

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 04:09
1. Is there such a thing as an objective reality?
2. Do man-made objects have a definitive purpose?

3. Do you think there is such a thing as objective truth?
4. What does this objective truth encompass?

Cochrane's reply was shockingly similar to what I think (although phrased more clearly and logically than I would have said it) but I feel bad simply posting "I agree" in such a deep topic so I'll try to answer these questions in my own words.

1) Yes, I think there is such a thing as objective reality, even if human beings are not capable of fully perceiving it.

2) I think man-made objects have an intended purpose that the object's creator originally meant it to be used for, but anything can be a tool for any ends so an object's purpose is really up to the person using it.

3) Yes, I think there is such a thing as objective truth, even if human beings are not capable of fully determining it.

4) I think that objective truth exists in the form of the laws of the universe which humans try to study with physics and chemistry. Our scientific understandings are flawed and subject to revision and correction. But I do think there are objective universal laws governing physics and chemistry, regardless of whether our rules and models are accurate.

Limiting a fork to, erm, forking, is neither realistic nor helpful.

That is signature-quality material right there :vlol: :D

While we know through the science of anatomy that the cones in the human retina enable us to see colors (red, green, and blue) can we be certain that every individual's cones function in the exact same way in the sense of the example I gave?

I think it's fair to say that different people have different perceptions of color (or at least the degrees of color). To add to the "blue" example, my father told me a story once. Apparently my grandmother used to get some kind of assorted candies and two of the flavors were slightly different shades of pink. She liked one but not the other, so my father asked her why she kept taking the ones she didn't like. She didn't realize that they were different colors and she couldn't tell the difference even after my father pointed it out to her, yet he had no problem seeing the candies as two different colors.

So I'm sure there are differences in the way people perceive colors. Probably one day there will be research done to record people's brainwaves as they look at different colors and see if there's different brain activity in people viewing the same color. For example, color blind people. I know that they cannot distinguish between two colors (usually green and red) but I don't know what color they perceive both of those to be. Do both colors look green to them? Do both colors look red? Or do both colors look like some totally new color that I've never seen before and don't even have a word for? The mind boggles :p

We all seem to not see things we know are there (i.e., the infrared spectrum), so there is probably some consistency in how things we see appear.

You mean you can't see infrared? :eek: Nevermind :pi:

Cochrane
07-09-09, 07:48
The proposition "there's no evidence that anything truly exists outside of [my] own mind" is logically self-refuting. In formulating the very sentence, the person uttering it is conceding that there is something called "evidence," that there is something else called "truth," and something called "outside," and something called a "mind" and that there is a "me" to whom it belongs. Every word he utters, and all of the concrete referents subsumed in each concept that each word denotes, is nonchalantly made use of in attempting to deny the very existence of those words, those concepts, and everything else. In logic this is called the Fallacy of the Stolen Concept.

In short, if existence is "subjective," so is the entire substance of his very proposition. It's a logical short-circuit that collapses under the weight of its own internal contradiction. It's as if nothing had been said.

I think I'm not quite getting you here. There is no denying that those concepts exist, but aren't concepts a dime a dozen? As an example, we have concepts of a warp drive, teleportation and aliens, but as far as we know, it's very possible that none of them will ever exist, and it's clear that if there is an objective reality, those are not part of it (on our planet).

The metaphysical idea that "there is no existence beyond my own mind" is a very old one, but no less false. In formal terms it's called the Primacy of Consciousness and it has its roots in Plato. The opposite is the Primacy of Existence metaphysics, which was Aristotle's correction. Only the latter is demonstrable and logically valid.

I would recommend to Punaxe that he have a bit of fun with his friend. Challenge him to put up or shut up, say by standing in the middle of an expressway, on the theory that cars and trucks, like the rest of existence, are subjective dreams.

Huh? :D
If he tried that, he would probably report his dream turning into a nightmare pretty quickly, but it would not disprove the dream hypothesis. :D

4) I think that objective truth exists in the form of the laws of the universe which humans try to study with physics and chemistry. Our scientific understandings are flawed and subject to revision and correction. But I do think there are objective universal laws governing physics and chemistry, regardless of whether our rules and models are accurate.
An interesting idea. I consider maths to be a universal truth, but describing physics in a formal, abstract axiomatic way like maths has been one of Hilbert's problems (a highly important and influential list of mathematical problems published by David Hilbert in 1900) already. So far, it remains unsolved, and with all the quantum physics and relativity discovered since then it seems even farther away than it did in 1900. Still, it would be very interesting if this could ever be done.

That is signature-quality material right there :vlol: :D Feel free to use it if you ever want to! :D

Punaxe
07-09-09, 15:05
From the initial post: "Metaphysical Subjectivism - He is not convinced that anything truly exists outside of his own mind: for all he knows, his entire life could be one big 'dream', or his own brain running its own version of the Matrix."

The proposition "there's no evidence that anything truly exists outside of [my] own mind" is logically self-refuting. In formulating the very sentence, the person uttering it is conceding that there is something called "evidence," that there is something else called "truth," and something called "outside," and something called a "mind" and that there is a "me" to whom it belongs. Every word he utters, and all of the concrete referents subsumed in each concept that each word denotes, is nonchalantly made use of in attempting to deny the very existence of those words, those concepts, and everything else. In logic this is called the Fallacy of the Stolen Concept.

In short, if existence is "subjective," so is the entire substance of his very proposition. It's a logical short-circuit that collapses under the weight of its own internal contradiction. It's as if nothing had been said.

The metaphysical idea that "there is no existence beyond my own mind" is a very old one, but no less false. In formal terms it's called the Primacy of Consciousness and it has its roots in Plato. The opposite is the Primacy of Existence metaphysics, which was Aristotle's correction. Only the latter is demonstrable and logically valid.

I would recommend to Punaxe that he have a bit of fun with his friend. Challenge him to put up or shut up, say by standing in the middle of an expressway, on the theory that cars and trucks, like the rest of existence, are subjective dreams.

Huh? :D
I don't see how one would demonstrate that one is, and/or the other is not valid. Could you elaborate? If you mean that the first is logically self-refuting, I don't think I agree: the concepts used to express that belief can still be contained within the mind. Many a religious believer's notion of evidence for example is probably entirely different than a scientist's. Two people can agree on a definition, but this definition can be said to be contained within the minds of these two people - they have merely synchronized their representations of the concept.

I am interested in this thread:)

however I don't have a clue what objective reality is...like the reality of objects or humans...or "things" in the universe?:)

Well, you can say that the aim of this thread is to formulate your own notion of what is "reality" and what is "real". For some people, something is only real if they can see it for themselves: if a tree falls down in the jungle but nobody is there to witness it, did the tree still fall? Some would say no, others would say yes. Because nobody really knows what reality is, it is basically up to you to define it for yourself. Do you think the tree in the example did indeed fall, or not? If not, how do you explain the tree lying on the ground when you visit it? If so, is all reality based on perception? Whose perception?

(...) 2. I take a very practical approach here, which means that I don't think there's something like a definitive purpose to man-made objects. The original creator has no control over what the users do, and users can create something entirely new out of things that were once meant completely differently. In fact, most of the world's interesting technology was developed that way in the first place. Limiting a fork to, erm, forking, is neither realistic nor helpful. (...)

For all practical intents and purposes I would agree with you here (and with your answer to the first question), but in a philosophical sense it can be quite boring to stick to what 's practical. :p
Indeed users can do whatever they want with any object, but to come back to my question about archaeologists: if they find something they have never seen before in any way, can they be correct or incorrect in their assumptions of its original purpose? If not, why not, and if so, what notion do you use in order to classify their assumptions as true or false? Or would you say that it is useless to think about it because we can never know? (This was Aristotle's answer to his own question about the potentially pending battle - one I find limited, because the least we can do is assign probabilities.)

Catapharact, do you have an answer to my previous questions to you? :p

patriots88888
07-09-09, 16:49
So I'm sure there are differences in the way people perceive colors. Probably one day there will be research done to record people's brainwaves as they look at different colors and see if there's different brain activity in people viewing the same color. For example, color blind people. I know that they cannot distinguish between two colors (usually green and red) but I don't know what color they perceive both of those to be. Do both colors look green to them? Do both colors look red? Or do both colors look like some totally new color that I've never seen before and don't even have a word for? The mind boggles :p

I asked a color blind person that question once and their response to me was that it appeared to them as a dull shade of grey. The problem still is that does grey appear the same to him as it would to anyone else (color blind or not)? Nobody can say for sure. One of life's great mysteries. :p

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 18:11
An interesting idea. I consider maths to be a universal truth, but describing physics in a formal, abstract axiomatic way like maths has been one of Hilbert's problems (a highly important and influential list of mathematical problems published by David Hilbert in 1900) already. So far, it remains unsolved, and with all the quantum physics and relativity discovered since then it seems even farther away than it did in 1900. Still, it would be very interesting if this could ever be done.

I've always considered math to be the language of science. To me math is the tool that we use to try to express and solve physics and chemistry problems (don't ever tell my university number theory professor I said that! :p He hated applied math and thought only the inapplicable type of math was "pure").

Feel free to use it if you ever want to! :D

Thanks :D

Indeed users can do whatever they want with any object, but to come back to my question about archaeologists: if they find something they have never seen before in any way, can they be correct or incorrect in their assumptions of its original purpose? If not, why not, and if so, what notion do you use in order to classify their assumptions as true or false? Or would you say that it is useless to think about it because we can never know? (This was Aristotle's answer to his own question about the potentially pending battle - one I find limited, because the least we can do is assign probabilities.)

I'm probably splitting semantic hairs here, but I would say it's pointless to wonder about the object's purpose since that could be anything. Rather, archaeologists try to figure out what the object was actually used for by whoever owned it in the past. In that case, there is a right and a wrong answer because either the object was used for something or it wasn't. But for the purpose, who knows? We might even find a new purpose for it ourselves once we understand what the object is and what it was used for in the past.

I asked a color blind person that question once and their response to me was that it appeared to them as a dull shade of grey. The problem still is that does grey appear the same to him as it would to anyone else (color blind or not)? Nobody can say for sure. One of life's great mysteries. :p

Very interesting. I really do wonder if brain studies will one day get sophisticated enough to answer these questions.

Punaxe
07-09-09, 18:52
(...) I'm probably splitting semantic hairs here, but I would say it's pointless to wonder about the object's purpose since that could be anything. Rather, archaeologists try to figure out what the object was actually used for by whoever owned it in the past. In that case, there is a right and a wrong answer because either the object was used for something or it wasn't. But for the purpose, who knows? We might even find a new purpose for it ourselves once we understand what the object is and what it was used for in the past. (...)

What I was getting at was that possibility that archaeologists can be right or wrong (which you admit). Giving such a value to their statements would imply that there can be correspondence to something, and that something would have to be the truth/reality. I classify this truth as the objective truth.

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 18:54
What I was getting at was that possibility that archaeologists can be right or wrong (which you admit). Giving such a value to their statements would imply that there can be correspondence to something, and that something would have to be the truth/reality. I classify this truth as the objective truth.

Ah, right. I definitely agree that there is objective truth concerning what happened in the past (although whether we know that truth is open to debate :p). I thought you were getting off into a philosophical question of whether a physical object has some kind of natural inherent purpose that is part of the object, which I don't think it does.

Punaxe
07-09-09, 19:00
Ah, right. I definitely agree that there is objective truth concerning what happened in the past (although whether we know that truth is open to debate :p). I thought you were getting off into a philosophical question of whether a physical object has some kind of natural inherent purpose that is part of the object, which I don't think it does.

Nah, I was using it as an example. I believe man-made physical manifestations do have a definite purpose, but it is not inherent to the object itself (otherwise we might be able to extract it), it is merely part of the metaphysical realm of objective truths, that we do not have access to and I only invoke for philosophical/epistemological purposes.

scoopy_loopy
07-09-09, 19:23
Nothing is true, everything is permitted :pi:

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 19:42
Nah, I was using it as an example. I believe man-made physical manifestations do have a definite purpose, but it is not inherent to the object itself (otherwise we might be able to extract it), it is merely part of the metaphysical realm of objective truths, that we do not have access to and I only invoke for philosophical/epistemological purposes.

Ah, right :)

Nothing is true, everything is permitted :pi:

The guy who said that wasn't very trustworthy, was he? :pi:

miss.haggard
07-09-09, 20:02
Wow, my brain hurts...

Cochrane
07-09-09, 20:36
For all practical intents and purposes I would agree with you here (and with your answer to the first question), but in a philosophical sense it can be quite boring to stick to what 's practical. :p
No doubt about that! :D
Indeed users can do whatever they want with any object, but to come back to my question about archaeologists: if they find something they have never seen before in any way, can they be correct or incorrect in their assumptions of its original purpose? If not, why not, and if so, what notion do you use in order to classify their assumptions as true or false? Or would you say that it is useless to think about it because we can never know? (This was Aristotle's answer to his own question about the potentially pending battle - one I find limited, because the least we can do is assign probabilities.)
Ah, now I get what you mean. You are asking for a very narrow definition of purpose, not what it can be used for, but what it was meant to be used for (or was usually used for). In that sense, I guess you are right: There most certainly was one or a limited number of such purposes or uses (in this context I think we can treat them as the same). Can we ever fully know this without the proper documentation? Maybe not, but archeology is science as well, and we can formulate and discard theories to explain it.

The question whether that original use is a universal truth seems to me to be very similar to Ward Dragon's idea that the fundamental laws of nature are universal truths. I'm not sure I really have an answer here, but I do know that I hope very much that the laws of nature are universal truths (whether we know them or not). The result is that it's, in my opinion, as close to an objective truth as you can get talking about the material world, and if I had never seen Matrix I would probably call it an objective truth without hesitation.

I've always considered math to be the language of science. To me math is the tool that we use to try to express and solve physics and chemistry problems (don't ever tell my university number theory professor I said that! :p He hated applied math and thought only the inapplicable type of math was "pure").
Oh, pure maths is a lot of fun as well. I do wonder whether computer science is pure maths or applied maths, it really has aspects of both… Anyway, I like all science, but I actually have to agree with your professor in this context (I hope you don't hate me now :D): The fact that there is "pure", "useless" maths is what makes it a universal, objective truth, no matter what world we live in, or even if it's all just an illusion. Other sciences don't have that advantage, at least as far as we know today.

Nice signature, by the way. :D

Nah, I was using it as an example. I believe man-made physical manifestations do have a definite purpose, but it is not inherent to the object itself (otherwise we might be able to extract it), it is merely part of the metaphysical realm of objective truths, that we do not have access to and I only invoke for philosophical/epistemological purposes.
What is metaphysical, though? Thanks to decades of science fiction and new-ageism, that word could mean anything. I guess an appropriate definition would be that it's "data", as an abstract entity. The post I'm writing here has physical representations in the RAMs of all the computers involved, the electric fields (I'm on Wifi) and wires between them and so on, but the essence is really something that is beyond the physical. Similarly, a purpose is just an idea, not any physical representation of it. Is this in line with what you mean? Because if we have different definitions, this discussion would be not all that useful…

Going to the meta-metaphysical, the existence of the information, i.e. the purpose, does certainly exist somewhere (even if we don't have access to it), but returning to the first question, is it actually linked to a physical entity? Information can really only deal with other information: We can say that the purpose of a fork is (among other things) to eat, and we can describe what a fork looks, feels, possibly smells like. All this is just information, though, and we have no link between any of this information and any actual silverware. For all we know, there might be no fork (insert spoon jokes at your own peril) at all.

So, while the purpose may exist, it's subject might not actually, and I am rather hesitant to call it a truth then.

Catapharact
07-09-09, 20:47
Would you say 'ultimate truth' is something else than 'objective truth'? And, unless you deny that other thinking entities may also be in existence, would you say that both your existences share a reality (regardless of awareness of this reality) or would you say that those are still entirely different planes of existence? And in either case, what about your respective ultimate truths?

That is indeed the case when you take the logical implication for it. It is probable that we all exist and its also probable that through our own limited preception of conciousness, that through everyone's individual preception, we all don't exist in the same given relm. These probablities offcourse are self-refuting and thus logically do not make sense. That IMO is the difference between objective and Ultimate truth; Objective truth is the most logical "probable" case senerio where as the Ultimate truth has no set probability. Its just what it is.

Taking that into account, the Ultimate truth still stands being the same; I exist. Everything else is marked at a specific point on a spectrum meter of probability ;).

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 20:51
Oh, pure maths is a lot of fun as well. I do wonder whether computer science is pure maths or applied maths, it really has aspects of both… Anyway, I like all science, but I actually have to agree with your professor in this context (I hope you don't hate me now :D): The fact that there is "pure", "useless" maths is what makes it a universal, objective truth, no matter what world we live in, or even if it's all just an illusion. Other sciences don't have that advantage, at least as far as we know today.

Of course I don't hate you now :p I tend to view everything in a very empirical way. If it can't be tested then there's no way to know if it's true or not. In that sense, the purely theoretical math is uninteresting to me because without a way to test it, it doesn't mean anything to me. It just felt so pointless doing math proofs to "prove" things that had no conceptual meaning to me. How would I know if the proof was true or false? I wouldn't because I can't double check it in any way. Now it's true that most "pure" math eventually gets used in some application or another, so I'm definitely glad that people study it. But until a particular mathematical concept can be used to make testable predictions about the physical world, then I can't understand it or know whether it is true.

Nice signature, by the way. :D

Thanks :D :pi:

That is indeed the case when you take the logical implication for it. It is probable that we all exist and its also probable that through our own limited preception of conciousness, that through everyone's individual preception, we all don't exist in the same given relm. These probablities offcourse are self-refuting and thus logically do not make sense. That IMO is the difference between objective and Ultimate truth; Objective truth is the most logical "probable" case senerio where as the Ultimate truth has no set probability. Its just what it is.

Taking that into account, the Ultimate truth still stands being the same; I exist. Everything else is marked at a specific point on a spectrum meter of probability ;).

That's actually a really good description of it :tmb: I remember writing a paper in college about this :p I tried to explain how I trust that certain things exist (like Japan for example) despite never having been there myself simply because there is so much evidence that it exists that it most probably does exist (and I probably never will go there, so I don't care too much whether it actually exists as long as all of media that I see from it continues to exist :p).

Punaxe
07-09-09, 20:54
(...) The question whether that original use is a universal truth seems to me to be very similar to Ward Dragon's idea that the fundamental laws of nature are universal truths. I'm not sure I really have an answer here, but I do know that I hope very much that the laws of nature are universal truths (whether we know them or not). The result is that it's, in my opinion, as close to an objective truth as you can get talking about the material world, and if I had never seen Matrix I would probably call it an objective truth without hesitation.

Hmm... I think those two truths are fundamentally different: one set governs the laws of nature and another governs historical facts. The main difference is that new historical facts are perpetually generated while the laws of nature remain unamended.

(...) What is metaphysical, though? Thanks to decades of science fiction and new-ageism, that word could mean anything. I guess an appropriate definition would be that it's "data", as an abstract entity. The post I'm writing here has physical representations in the RAMs of all the computers involved, the electric fields (I'm on Wifi) and wires between them and so on, but the essence is really something that is beyond the physical. Similarly, a purpose is just an idea, not any physical representation of it. Is this in line with what you mean? Because if we have different definitions, this discussion would be not all that useful…

Going to the meta-metaphysical, the existence of the information, i.e. the purpose, does certainly exist somewhere (even if we don't have access to it), but returning to the first question, is it actually linked to a physical entity? Information can really only deal with other information: We can say that the purpose of a fork is (among other things) to eat, and we can describe what a fork looks, feels, possibly smells like. All this is just information, though, and we have no link between any of this information and any actual silverware. For all we know, there might be no fork (insert spoon jokes at your own peril) at all.

So, while the purpose may exist, it's subject might not actually, and I am rather hesitant to call it a truth then.

That is actually a difficult question to answer, but I think we agree. For me in the scope of this thread so far, it is merely the "place" that contains objective truths: indeed, information, data. It being metaphysical means it does not actually exist anywhere; we do not have access to it, but we may, on a metaphysical level refer to it (e.g. when reasoning, or when, as in the earlier examples, we say that something is true).
That is indeed the case when you take the logical implication for it. It is probable that we all exist and its also probable that through our own limited preception of conciousness, that through everyone's individual preception, we all don't exist in the same given relm. These probablities offcourse are self-refuting and thus logically do not make sense. That IMO is the difference between objective and Ultimate truth; Objective truth is the most logical "probable" case senerio where as the Ultimate truth has no set probability. Its just what it is.

Taking that into account, the Ultimate truth still stands being the same; I exist. Everything else is marked at a specific point on a spectrum meter of probability ;).

So you are saying that there is only one ultimate truth, which differs per subject (as it concerns the subject itself), and all other statements ought to be judged on their probability, where statements of certain probability can be called objective truths?
Then, if all statements' probabilities (except the ultimate truth) is judged by the subject (with limited individual perception), it is possible that different subjects assign different probabilities to the same statements, making it an objective truth for one but not for another. Would you then still say the term 'objective truth' applies? Or would you see this as reinforcement of the belief that each individual subject has in fact its own objective reality, i.e. that the subjective reality is actually objective based on this different definition?

Cochrane
07-09-09, 21:23
Of course I don't hate you now :p I tend to view everything in a very empirical way. If it can't be tested then there's no way to know if it's true or not. In that sense, the purely theoretical math is uninteresting to me because without a way to test it, it doesn't mean anything to me. It just felt so pointless doing math proofs to "prove" things that had no conceptual meaning to me. How would I know if the proof was true or false? I wouldn't because I can't double check it in any way. Now it's true that most "pure" math eventually gets used in some application or another, so I'm definitely glad that people study it. But until a particular mathematical concept can be used to make testable predictions about the physical world, then I can't understand it or know whether it is true.
The way I see it, maths is really beyond testability. You can check the proof by looking for any formal error in it's reasoning. If there is none, then how can it be false?

Any other science is, in essence, based on observing reality. As we see more and more of it, we find that conclusions may have been wrong, because while they did not violate the data we had (or thought we had) before, it does disagree with what we know now. Maths, on the other hand, is based on a fixed set of axioms, i.e. unfounded claims or (an interpretation I prefer) requirements. No new observations or external facts can ever be brought into it, unless we do so explicitly because we want to.

In short, normal science takes an already existing world and tries to describe that. Maths, however, constructs its own, perfect world and then goes and sees what will happen there.

Hmm... I think those two truths are fundamentally different: one set governs the laws of nature and another governs historical facts. The main difference is that new historical facts are perpetually generated while the laws of nature remain unamended.
So let's introduce a limit and just deal with history before a certain date. Whether you take the year one, january first of 1970 or anything else does not really matter, just one fixed date. Assuming that time travel is impossible, this is a fixed and limited field of studies, with nothing outside it affecting it. Do you see any substantial difference then?

That is actually a difficult question to answer, but I think we agree. For me in the scope of this thread so far, it is merely the "place" that contains objective truths: indeed, information, data. It being metaphysical means it does not actually exist anywhere; we do not have access to it, but we may, on a metaphysical level refer to it (e.g. when reasoning, or when, as in the earlier examples, we say that something is true).
Okay.

Mokono
07-09-09, 21:40
I agree that the preconception stage is important in relation to what the original purpose would be, and it is possible that two entirely similar objects are created to two different purposes.
But to come back to my original post: if we found a fork, and we tried to figure out what it was used for, could we be wrong in our conclusion? If so, there must be something to compare our conclusion to, and that something would be its original purpose. As this cannot be changed, it must be an objective truth.

I'd like to change the example a little bit. Let's take clothes this time, they're man-made "tools" with a basic function: "to dress". There are Barbie clothes, pet clothes, mannequin clothes, so we can't just say it's about covering naked human bodies. However, in primitive times first clothes were made to retain heat, to adapt, wich is basically something human. There's also the hypothesis that by dressing themselves primitive humans started to like setting differences, thus creating first notions and distinctions of hierarchy.

Taking your point of view that there's a single objective and unchangeable purpose for each objects seems to fit in this case. We can sure use clothes to extinguish fire in case of an emergency (what you might mean with "wrong" uses), but they will still be made for a "main" reason. However, even if a coat is a cloth, a cloth is not a coat; in the ultimate instance, clothes will never stop being fabric or leather, etc. Ripping a T-shirt so it becomes fabric again will remove it's "purpose"... But why? I think is mainly because there's a tight link between the objects or a certain relation of objects (a certain amount of fabric sewed with a thread to make joints i.e.) and the symbol we have in our minds that represents it. Saying this, a fork is nothing but molten metal (or plastic) given the shape it has now.

I think that if there's any objective to be unchangeable here is the symbol we have, like when we imagine strict cicles (we have never seen a 100% perfect circle, yet we can still imagine and reproduce it). I like to think that we, as the symbolical animals we are, give certain faculties to certain objects represented in our mind by these symbols, but a circle wouldn't stop being a "circle" even if i name it "square". In the case of the fork, i think it doen't lie in the physical object, the escence of the fork itself is within the fork symbol reproduced in our minds. In this instance, the only way to compare these symbols is not by a direct confrontation with the object, but with another human being capable to understand these symbols as well. Ariel wouldn't have found what a fork was for if she wouldn't have been told first (by another being).


I think the original purpose cannot be changed by us, unless we physically create a new object: as I said, this to me is the only time in which we have the authority to give purpose. If I take a fork and cut some parts off so I can better use it in my hair, then I have made a new object, the new purpose of which is to be used in one's hair. If I do not alter the fork but still use it for my hair, my use of it is not in correspondence with its original purpose, and while I may have given it a new purpose, I think it is better to call this a new "use" not to confuse it with its original purpose.

I think that the purpose could be changed anytime if there's ever an ultimate consensus about what the object (hence, the symbol of that object) means. If tomorrow every single human being forgot what a fork was invented for or what is it's use (and the atomic preposition for the symbol), then it would automatically stop being fork.

I believe there have been cases were children were left to animals, and they did indeed develop a certain skill of communication. I guess that goes to show that language can be developed simply by observing (hearing others speak), imitation (trying to do it yourself) and trial-and-error (if it didn't work, try something else).

Well, language requires, before those three axioms, an interlocutor to exchange thoughts with, and by thoughts i'm assuming the being must be capable of structuring complex prepositions to express main idea, tense, etc. Sure animals can "comunicate", but all they do is exchanging what it goes through their minds via instincts or feelings. A furious bear will roar to express that he's uncomfortable with a certain presence in his territory, or that it's concerned about her cubs. However, it would hardly be an exact translation of: "May you please leave my territory inmediately?". I think that the roar itself has, as a main intention, an intimidation purpose, rather than a "need" to express a thought. Or let's take dogs, they bark when they're happy, hungry, etc... Yet, i haven't seen a dog doing a monologue :D.

In Russian for example, there is no word for 'blue' - they only have goluboy (light blue) and siniy (dark blue). Russians, as a result, are better in discriminating light blue from dark blue. (Source (http://www.pnas.org/content/104/19/7780.abstract).)

Interesting, i remember reading something about dilematic thoughts: How Chinese has more acceptions for a meaning, so there's a wide spectrum of semantics for certain adjectives, while in languages as English the adjectives are more "dilematic" with a synonim agains it's antonym. Not sure though.

scoopy_loopy
07-09-09, 21:44
In short, normal science takes an already existing world and tries to describe that. Maths, however, constructs its own, perfect world and then goes and sees what will happen there.


This is why maths is so brilliant, this is also why I failed maths in my senior year. Calculus, area's between two curves that dont really exist, with no real unit of measurement. Eugh. If I cant "see" it, spatially, within my minds eye - it aint able to be calculated :ton:

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 21:45
The way I see it, maths is really beyond testability. You can check the proof by looking for any formal error in it's reasoning. If there is none, then how can it be false?

Any other science is, in essence, based on observing reality. As we see more and more of it, we find that conclusions may have been wrong, because while they did not violate the data we had (or thought we had) before, it does disagree with what we know now. Maths, on the other hand, is based on a fixed set of axioms, i.e. unfounded claims or (an interpretation I prefer) requirements. No new observations or external facts can ever be brought into it, unless we do so explicitly because we want to.

In short, normal science takes an already existing world and tries to describe that. Maths, however, constructs its own, perfect world and then goes and sees what will happen there.

That's pretty much the heart of the matter for me. Science attempts to figure out and describe laws that already exist and govern how particles react and how the universe functions. Math, on the other hand, is purely a man-made construct. If the axioms are wrong then so is the whole thing. That's why I don't like math that can't be tested in the real world. It has no meaning for me and I cannot conceptualize what it's saying. Plus so many of the theoretical proofs rely on cute little tricks that seem contrived, so it makes me wonder what the purpose of it all is, to "prove" something that cannot be tested in any way and has no meaning outside of the contrived system. (Note: this is merely explaining why I didn't like the purely theoretical math classes I took and why I don't consider those proofs to be objective truth. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from liking or studying math :))

scoopy_loopy
07-09-09, 21:49
That's pretty much the heart of the matter for me. Science attempts to figure out and describe laws that already exist and govern how particles react and how the universe functions. Math, on the other hand, is purely a man-made construct. If the axioms are wrong then so is the whole thing. That's why I don't like math that can't be tested in the real world. It has no meaning for me and I cannot conceptualize what it's saying. Plus so many of the theoretical proofs rely on cute little tricks that seem contrived, so it makes me wonder what the purpose of it all is, to "prove" something that cannot be tested in any way and has no meaning outside of the contrived system. (Note: this is merely explaining why I didn't like the purely theoretical math classes I took and why I don't consider those proofs to be objective truth. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from liking or studying math :))

I agree with all of this. With science you work to accomplish something, you can "see" what you're trying to test, either to prove or disprove - moving from method to method within the "real" world. With Maths, you test your hypotheses with "unreal" methods, that exist within mathematics and dont exist outside of the brains of people that understand what the hell they're doing.

Mokono
07-09-09, 21:55
That's pretty much the heart of the matter for me. Science attempts to figure out and describe laws that already exist and govern how particles react and how the universe functions. Math, on the other hand, is purely a man-made construct. If the axioms are wrong then so is the whole thing. That's why I don't like math that can't be tested in the real world. It has no meaning for me and I cannot conceptualize what it's saying. Plus so many of the theoretical proofs rely on cute little tricks that seem contrived, so it makes me wonder what the purpose of it all is, to "prove" something that cannot be tested in any way and has no meaning outside of the contrived system. (Note: this is merely explaining why I didn't like the purely theoretical math classes I took and why I don't consider those proofs to be objective truth. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from liking or studying math :))

I think Science, as well as Math, are man-made tools. Science relies merely in the scientific method, with no chance to rely in subjective channels that might result irrelevant to it's purposes. Science allows us to set a natural law according to the facts that are objectivized and reduced to a scientific preposition, however, this objectivization depends in our processes and it would never fully cover the 100% of the reality surrounding the fact. By saying this, when a natural law is made, it's not discovering an immanent property on wich nature is made of, rather than that i think it merely constructs it. By building a tower, i'm not meant to say that the tower was there and that i just "materialized it".

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 22:07
I think Science, as well as Math, are man-made tools. Science relies merely in the scientific method, with no chance to rely in subjective channels that might result irrelevant to it's purposes. Science allows us to set a natural law according to the facts that are objectivized and reduced to a scientific preposition, however, this objectivization depends in our processes and it would never fully cover the 100% of the reality surrounding the fact. By saying this, when a natural law is made, it's not discovering an immanent property on wich nature is made of, rather than that i think it merely constructs it. By building a tower, i'm not meant to say that the tower was there and that i just "materialized it".

I think the difference is that there actually are rules in place that govern how things move and react, so if our scientific approximations are wrong then they will fail to accurately predict what will happen in the real world. Thus our approximations will be changed to get closer and closer to the truth. It's the same with basic math. We can solve basic word problems theoretically, like trying to figure out how much fencing is needed to surround a hypothetical garden, but at any point if I was so inclined I could go out and make a real-world model to test if the theoretical answer works. So basically any math that has applications can be tested, so it seems much more real to me. The math that has no applications seems very unreal and I cannot visualize what it means, so it does not seem objectively true to me. I also do not trust any proof that uses infinity, but that's just because my intuition totally breaks down whenever infinity is involved :p

Mokono
07-09-09, 22:22
I think the difference is that there actually are rules in place that govern how things move and react, so if our scientific approximations are wrong then they will fail to accurately predict what will happen in the real world. Thus our approximations will be changed to get closer and closer to the truth. It's the same with basic math. We can solve basic word problems theoretically, like trying to figure out how much fencing is needed to surround a hypothetical garden, but at any point if I was so inclined I could go out and make a real-world model to test if the theoretical answer works. So basically any math that has applications can be tested, so it seems much more real to me. The math that has no applications seems very unreal and I cannot visualize what it means, so it does not seem objectively true to me.

Now i get what you mean. If as for rules existing governing how things move things and reacts, then yes, they exist... However, as for we discovering those rules is my disagreement. IMO What science strictly does is an accurate-like description of these "rules" that defines how matter behave. We can use the physical environment where we can test physic laws and corroborate their applicability (free fall, at least in Earth, will have certain properties that can prove themselves valid), but if such "ultimate and inalienable" truth exists, then it cannot be reduced, at least, in a natural law. We can observe throughout history how theories always applies as law until modernity proves a flow and then it's remake to cover what before were mere inconsistencies. As for a discovery, in it's basic notion, unveiling that truth as it's whole might be an impossible task, because it's gonna be constantly unveiling and assimilating every single face it has. If there's ever a computer capable of simulate all these tautological posibilities, then we might recreate reality and achieved the "discovery", although it will remain in the machine, it might not be able to be acknowledged by anyone.

I also do not trust any proof that uses infinity, but that's just because my intuition totally breaks down whenever infinity is involved :p

I don't think ∞ is meant to be a proof, unless we can enclose it at it's full extent (wich it lacks off, because having no limits), anyways, my intuition breaks down whenever TRO is involved :D.

Ward Dragon
07-09-09, 22:30
Now i get what you mean. If as for rules existing governing how things move things and reacts, then yes, they exist... However, as for we discovering those rules is my disagreement. IMO What science strictly does is an accurate-like description of these "rules" that defines how matter behave. We can use the physical environment where we can test physic laws and corroborate their applicability (free fall, at least in Earth, will have certain properties that can prove themselves valid), but if such "ultimate and inalienable" truth exists, then it cannot be reduced, at least, in a natural law. We can observe throughout history how theories always applies as law until modernity proves a flow and then it's remake to cover what before were mere inconsistencies. As for a discovery, in it's basic notion, unveiling that truth as it's whole might be an impossible task, because it's gonna be constantly unveiling and assimilating every single face it has. If there's ever a computer capable of simulate all these tautological posibilities, then we might recreate reality and achieved the "discovery", although it will remain in the machine, it might not be able to be acknowledged by anyone.

I think I agree. I mean, I believe that there does exist a set of fundamental natural laws that define how everything can physically behave in the universe. But at the same time I think it's unlikely that human beings will ever fully figure out what those natural laws are. The best we can do is approximate it and change our models to be more accurate as we get better at detecting flaws in the current models.

I don't think ∞ is meant to be a proof, unless we can enclose it at it's full extent (wich it lacks off, because having no limits), anyways, my intuition breaks down whenever TRO is involved :D.

I mean when theoretical math uses infinity within a proof of something else. It gets really ugly and at least half the time the answer is the exact opposite of what I thought it would be :p

patriots88888
07-09-09, 23:16
We do know that time is a constant which is defined as a nonspatial continuum and measured by the passing of events. It has no starting point nor end point. It is the Alpha and Omega so time itself is infinity. Unless you believe that time didn't begin until the creation of the universe or Big Bang if you will. :p But if that's the case, then what was before that? And if the universe is constantly expanding, what is it expanding into? In other words, what's outside the universe?

Sorry for the off-topicness of this post. Just some things I've always been curious about. I can't think of a more appropriate current thread to post these questions in and don't feel like starting a new one.

SpaceChild
08-09-09, 07:30
Correction: Demonstrated through the relm of our own limited preception ;). We don't know what happens when we die or the process after. Primacy of existance falls upon a more logically "probable" case but it still isn't 100% accurate as any good skeptic will tell you ;). Offcourse I do acknowladge that it has a more stronger case going for it then the Primacy of Consciouness but it still can't be considered the Ultimate truth.

Everybody, sorry it took so long to get back here - but...existence had to be dealt with and time, as the late great Shawn Lane would put it, is the enemy.

Catapharact, when you say "our limited perception," that concept too is anchored to reality. Every limitation of perception can itself be explained by reference, ultimately, to demonstrably valid concepts and, in turn, to the concrete referents upon which those concepts rest. Impaired vision, hearing, smell and the like are all known, identifiable phenomena with scientifically-identifiable causes; the same goes for more serious perceptual distortions such as hallucinations resulting from narcotics or mental illness.

All of these, incidentally, lie outside the norm - which makes their use an instance of the Borderline Case fallacy. The formulation of concepts presupposes a rational norm, not an aberration, as a foundation. The nature of perceptual distortions is fully identifiable; to assert that such pathologies can negate objective reality is no more valid than asserting that a limp resulting from a sprained ankle can negate the existence of normal walking.

No, we don't know what happens when we die or if there's an afterlife. The best we can do is the football coach analogy: He can hope for a win, but for the duration of the game he has to go by the points on the board. 'Not a perfect analogy but you get the picture. We live in this world; we can verify its existence, we can explore it sequentially, we can demonstrate that it obeys definite physical laws, we can even predict the existence of matter scientifically long before we gain the technical ability to perceive it (as was the case with atoms, etc.) The supernatural at best can only be relegated to the realm of faith and/or considered a potentiality. The "subjective reality" proposition has zero proof behind it, but is lent more credence than religious faith because the subjectivists typically engage in the Stolen Concept fallacy in an attempt to lend their argument the patina of legitimacy. Sadly, like all fallacies in logic, that only works if nobody recognizes it and shines a spotlight on it.

I think I'm not quite getting you here. There is no denying that those concepts exist, but aren't concepts a dime a dozen? As an example, we have concepts of a warp drive, teleportation and aliens, but as far as we know, it's very possible that none of them will ever exist, and it's clear that if there is an objective reality, those are not part of it (on our planet).

Something people often gloss over or miss entirely is the contextual nature of concepts. Warp drive, teleportation and aliens are indeed concepts, but they lie within the context of fiction. I mean, there's the whole vast panoply of fictional concepts, from Greco-Roman mythology to faeries, elves, gnomes, leprechuans and the like. They reside in the conceptual hierarchy as abstractions within the concept of fiction. The same with warp drive and other fictional technologies and sciences. It is always possible that fictional concepts can inspire real-world existents at a later time - as the Star Trek communicators inspired present-day cellphones. The technology didn't exist in the 1960s, but forty years later it does. A concept can transition from fictional to actual, but that doesn't negate either concept. The initial concept just transitioned from one context to another - from the fictional to the actual.

A fictional concept is closely related to a concept of consciousness, like the concept of love or anger (Quiet, Kate!) Fictional concepts are products of imagination and creativity, but they're no less valid for their abstract nature.

Concepts can't rationally be divorced from their relevant context, but if you choose to attempt doing so there's still no negation of objective reality.

I don't see how one would demonstrate that one is, and/or the other is not valid. Could you elaborate? If you mean that the first is logically self-refuting, I don't think I agree: the concepts used to express that belief can still be contained within the mind. Many a religious believer's notion of evidence for example is probably entirely different than a scientist's. Two people can agree on a definition, but this definition can be said to be contained within the minds of these two people - they have merely synchronized their representations of the concept.

Punaxe, I'm talking about someone who is advancing the proposition that "I have no proof that anything exists outside of my own mind" - which can therefore be taken as an argument in refutation of reality per se. In logic, the burden of proof lies upon he who advances the positive proposition. I'm pointing out that in the very act of uttering the proposition, that proponent is validating its opposite: that reality exists, and "nonreality" or "subjective reality" is based on an internal contradiction. The one expressing that belief certainly "contains" that belief within his own mind, but that belief in no way alters reality around it, even for its believer.

In the same way, a religious believer's "notion of evidence" can indeed be different from a scientist's - but again, that notion does not alter reality in the slightest, for him or anyone else. He is still bound by the physical rules of the world we live in. As for the supernatural afterlife, that's a matter of faith and potentiality, but forever impossible to verify concretely.

As for a definition being "contained within the mind," every concept, from the most directly-perceivable to the most abstract, can (if it is a valid concept,) be reduced back through the conceptual hierarchy to directly-perceivable data. More abstract concepts are merely farther removed on that hierarchy from direct perception. The conceptual chain may be lengthy and complex, but it's always there - if the concept is valid.

___________________

"You can twist perceptions / Reality won't budge" - Neil Peart, from Show Don't Tell, 1991

Punaxe
08-09-09, 20:20
(...) In short, normal science takes an already existing world and tries to describe that. Maths, however, constructs its own, perfect world and then goes and sees what will happen there.

Do you think that truths exist, in whatever fashion, that do not require axioms to be correct, or where only aspects that can directly be derived from "reality" serve as "axioms"? And given the necessity of maths to "construct its own world" (is that indeed a necessaity?), how would you defend that it contains universal truths?

So let's introduce a limit and just deal with history before a certain date. Whether you take the year one, january first of 1970 or anything else does not really matter, just one fixed date. Assuming that time travel is impossible, this is a fixed and limited field of studies, with nothing outside it affecting it. Do you see any substantial difference then? (...)

Hm, two things come to mind. First, historical truths are created - we do not know if this is the case for the universe and by extension universal truths. Second, a fundamental difference may be that universal truths actually are inherent to the physical: we have extrapolated such laws, or approximations thereof, from the physical activities we observe. As such, perhaps universal truths aren't (entirely) metaphysical at all.

I'd like to change the example a little bit. Let's take clothes this time, they're man-made "tools" with a basic function: "to dress". There are Barbie clothes, pet clothes, mannequin clothes, so we can't just say it's about covering naked human bodies. However, in primitive times first clothes were made to retain heat, to adapt, wich is basically something human. There's also the hypothesis that by dressing themselves primitive humans started to like setting differences, thus creating first notions and distinctions of hierarchy.

Taking your point of view that there's a single objective and unchangeable purpose for each objects seems to fit in this case. We can sure use clothes to extinguish fire in case of an emergency (what you might mean with "wrong" uses), but they will still be made for a "main" reason. However, even if a coat is a cloth, a cloth is not a coat; in the ultimate instance, clothes will never stop being fabric or leather, etc. Ripping a T-shirt so it becomes fabric again will remove it's "purpose"... But why? I think is mainly because there's a tight link between the objects or a certain relation of objects (a certain amount of fabric sewed with a thread to make joints i.e.) and the symbol we have in our minds that represents it. Saying this, a fork is nothing but molten metal (or plastic) given the shape it has now.

I think that if there's any objective to be unchangeable here is the symbol we have, like when we imagine strict cicles (we have never seen a 100% perfect circle, yet we can still imagine and reproduce it). I like to think that we, as the symbolical animals we are, give certain faculties to certain objects represented in our mind by these symbols, but a circle wouldn't stop being a "circle" even if i name it "square". In the case of the fork, i think it doen't lie in the physical object, the escence of the fork itself is within the fork symbol reproduced in our minds. In this instance, the only way to compare these symbols is not by a direct confrontation with the object, but with another human being capable to understand these symbols as well. Ariel wouldn't have found what a fork was for if she wouldn't have been told first (by another being).

I think that the purpose could be changed anytime if there's ever an ultimate consensus about what the object (hence, the symbol of that object) means. If tomorrow every single human being forgot what a fork was invented for or what is it's use (and the atomic preposition for the symbol), then it would automatically stop being fork.

Again for all practical purposes I'd have to say you're right, but I would still like to differentiate between original purpose and use - even if any use is thought to be correct by everyone, that does not make it correct. The rationale of the creator is inextricably connected to the created's purpose: if one makes a fork for eating, and another makes an object of the exact same shape and size to put in his hair, these two objects have different purposes. This also goes to show that purpose has to be metaphysical, because the physical itself cannot provide conclusive clues.
The statement "this object was (originally) made for ..." to me is an objective truth (if it's correct, of course :p). It requires exact identification of "this object", but that too, to me, is part of the objective truth. We can elaborate on "made for", though. If I take an already-existing fork and manipulate it to fit my own needs, I have turned into a creator, and am therefore in a position to change the newly formed object's purpose. As such, purposes may be stacked, but only when the object is consciously manipulated for another purpose: only conscious alteration of an object's purpose can give new purpose to an object.

Well, language requires, before those three axioms, an interlocutor to exchange thoughts with, and by thoughts i'm assuming the being must be capable of structuring complex prepositions to express main idea, tense, etc. Sure animals can "comunicate", but all they do is exchanging what it goes through their minds via instincts or feelings. A furious bear will roar to express that he's uncomfortable with a certain presence in his territory, or that it's concerned about her cubs. However, it would hardly be an exact translation of: "May you please leave my territory inmediately?". I think that the roar itself has, as a main intention, an intimidation purpose, rather than a "need" to express a thought. Or let's take dogs, they bark when they're happy, hungry, etc... Yet, i haven't seen a dog doing a monologue :D. (...)

Perhaps I was a bit too liberal in extending the example to the concept of language, but on the other hand, I may ask you to defend your notion that animals' communication is not language. I suppose it depends on your definition, but animals' communication follows a systematic approach (even if it's a reflex), communicates certain information and is understood by fellow animals of the same species. Is this not language?

(...) Punaxe, I'm talking about someone who is advancing the proposition that "I have no proof that anything exists outside of my own mind" - which can therefore be taken as an argument in refutation of reality per se. In logic, the burden of proof lies upon he who advances the positive proposition. I'm pointing out that in the very act of uttering the proposition, that proponent is validating its opposite: that reality exists, and "nonreality" or "subjective reality" is based on an internal contradiction. The one expressing that belief certainly "contains" that belief within his own mind, but that belief in no way alters reality around it, even for its believer. (...)

I think I see your point; indeed nobody could validly deny that a reality exists and as such it must be objective. I guess what the argument comes down to for the proponents of metaphysical subjectivism, is the nature and completion of this reality: their claim can be read to propose that their mind is the only existing entity. This cannot be demonstrated to be false, can it?

LaraLuvrrr
08-09-09, 20:23
It's a constructed reality.... so I try to meditate.

Only nature in itself is untouched and unlabeled by man so then it is the true reality...

Cochrane
08-09-09, 21:24
I think the difference is that there actually are rules in place that govern how things move and react, so if our scientific approximations are wrong then they will fail to accurately predict what will happen in the real world. Thus our approximations will be changed to get closer and closer to the truth. It's the same with basic math. We can solve basic word problems theoretically, like trying to figure out how much fencing is needed to surround a hypothetical garden, but at any point if I was so inclined I could go out and make a real-world model to test if the theoretical answer works. So basically any math that has applications can be tested, so it seems much more real to me. The math that has no applications seems very unreal and I cannot visualize what it means, so it does not seem objectively true to me. I also do not trust any proof that uses infinity, but that's just because my intuition totally breaks down whenever infinity is involved :p
Well, the unreality of it is what makes it so beautiful. :D I get what you mean, though: Maths, as a whole, is rather unintuitive. So far, I think people have found actual uses for most parts of modern maths, but pure maths is not a science in any normal sense of the word. That certainly can be seen as a disadvantage.

We do know that time is a constant which is defined as a nonspatial continuum and measured by the passing of events. It has no starting point nor end point. It is the Alpha and Omega so time itself is infinity. Unless you believe that time didn't begin until the creation of the universe or Big Bang if you will. :p But if that's the case, then what was before that? And if the universe is constantly expanding, what is it expanding into? In other words, what's outside the universe?
If time started with the big bang, then the question of what there was before it becomes completely irrelevant. It's undefined, just like 1/0. I will admit, these maths things about the nature of time do seem horribly unintuitive and wrong to me as well. :D A similar thing can be said about "What is it expanding into?". Maybe it's just expanding into nothingness, but if the Big Bang created space itself (as some assume), then I don't think there is any answer that actually fits our normal modes of thought.

Sorry for the off-topicness of this post. Just some things I've always been curious about. I can't think of a more appropriate current thread to post these questions in and don't feel like starting a new one.
It's my personal opinion (I'm not a mod, though, so I may be wrong) that off-topic posting is nothing to be ashamed of. It's how conversation works, and a forum can be considered an abstract mathematical model of such a conversation…

Do you think that truths exist, in whatever fashion, that do not require axioms to be correct, or where only aspects that can directly be derived from "reality" serve as "axioms"? And given the necessity of maths to "construct its own world" (is that indeed a necessaity?), how would you defend that it contains universal truths?
Erm…*Maybe? It's really hard to give a clear answer to that, because there are so many possible to choose from. In a way, you can say that our axioms already derive from observing nature. For example, the standard axioms require that there are two elements called 0 and 1 and then:

that 1 ≠*0 — comes from observing nature. Something is different from nothing.
[*]that 1 * a = a — comes from observing nature. Exactly one of anything is just this anything.
that 0 * a = 0 — comes from observing nature. Nothing of anything is nothing.
and so on

The axioms are constructed in a way to match the normal school maths we all know, so you could say that we really already have those reality-defined aspects in there.

I think it is necessary for maths to construct its own world, though. Reality can be interpreted in all kinds of different ways. The speed of light in vacuum may be considered a universal truth, for example, but how do you actually measure it? How do you even create that perfect vacuum to begin with? It may be universal, but I guarantee you that everyone would get ever so slightly different answers, because no matter whether reality is objective and universal or not, our perception of it most definitely isn't. Modern mathematics can avoid that problem altogether by defining a world in a limited set of clear, precise terms that do not leave room for disagreement. Because this world is constructed instead of observed there can be no disagreement about it's properties: Either something follows from the construction, or it does not.

And that, in turn, makes these truths universal: They only depend on the construction, and that is standardized and, if I may say so, sufficiently easy for anyone who really cares to understand. No matter what aliens you may ever need and what twisted, weird dimension they may come from, when they use our definition of a circle and of distance, they will never reach a different value for Pi —*and if we use their definitions (assuming they are different, for example using the absolute maximum coordinate as distance, which yields a Pi of 4 although that will make problems in other situations), we won't reach any conclusion other than theirs.

Hm, two things come to mind. First, historical truths are created - we do not know if this is the case for the universe and by extension universal truths. Second, a fundamental difference may be that universal truths actually are inherent to the physical: we have extrapolated such laws, or approximations thereof, from the physical activities we observe. As such, perhaps universal truths aren't (entirely) metaphysical at all.
The "created" point is interesting. Does it make any difference? You know I'm an atheist, but in the context of this discussion, I would not see the laws of nature as any less universal if someone had made them that way consciously. If there was a creator of scientific laws, he could change them, I guess, making them less universal, but the for the historic facts which are the real meat of the matter this is not possible, so it doesn't matter. Second, what is created anyway? If we assume that someone consciously created those situations, then I think history is clearly not created: Most of the time, thanks to failures of communication, fortunate and unfortunate coincidences and so on, history just happened. With a definition that's too wide, however, there's the risk of essentially declaring the universal laws to be created as well, by the big bang, for example.

The idea that universal truths are not metaphysical at all does seem interesting, but I am wary of non-metaphysical truths. If I take, again, the speed of light in vacuum as a universal truth, and ignore the points I made above about measuring, I'm still not convinced it's an universal truth — unless, of course, I were happy with truth that just covers our universe. That does seem too limiting to me, though. As long as a consistent universe where c is different can even be imagined (I'm not sure it can, I'm just using this as an example), I'm not happy. So I return to maths, again, because a consistent universe where ∏ has a different value is logically impossible (even if some people on the internet claim otherwise (http://xkcd.com/10/)).

Again for all practical purposes I'd have to say you're right, but I would still like to differentiate between original purpose and use - even if any use is thought to be correct by everyone, that does not make it correct. The rationale of the creator is inextricably connected to the created's purpose: if one makes a fork for eating, and another makes an object of the exact same shape and size to put in his hair, these two objects have different purposes. This also goes to show that purpose has to be metaphysical, because the physical itself cannot provide conclusive clues.
The statement "this object was (originally) made for ..." to me is an objective truth (if it's correct, of course :p). It requires exact identification of "this object", but that too, to me, is part of the objective truth. We can elaborate on "made for", though. If I take an already-existing fork and manipulate it to fit my own needs, I have turned into a creator, and am therefore in a position to change the newly formed object's purpose. As such, purposes may be stacked, but only when the object is consciously manipulated for another purpose: only conscious alteration of an object's purpose can give new purpose to an object.
So in this context, though, "purpose" is really not very different from "song the creator was thinking about while working": It's pure data which has no relation to the actual physical object. What we have here then is, essentially, a constructed 'world' — a tiny one, but just like maths, information without relation to reality. So to me it seems that if we allow this to be considered a universal truth, then maths certainly can and should be one as well (and vice versa).

Perhaps I was a bit too liberal in extending the example to the concept of language, but on the other hand, I may ask you to defend your notion that animals' communication is not language. I suppose it depends on your definition, but animals' communication follows a systematic approach (even if it's a reflex), communicates certain information and is understood by fellow animals of the same species. Is this not language?
Just for fun: Is language communication? I spent half a year in german class trying to understand the difference (and did not really get it until I watched a particular episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), but lack of proper expressions can make it difficult and sometimes even impossible to truly convey the information we wish to transmit. I don't think animals have any advantage over us here, but it is a point to keep in mind.

Mokono: Great posts! I don't have anything to say about them in particular, though, but don't think I'm ignoring you.

Ward Dragon
08-09-09, 23:01
Well, the unreality of it is what makes it so beautiful. :D I get what you mean, though: Maths, as a whole, is rather unintuitive. So far, I think people have found actual uses for most parts of modern maths, but pure maths is not a science in any normal sense of the word. That certainly can be seen as a disadvantage.

I don't know if I'd call it a disadvantage exactly. It just makes pure math much harder for me to conceptualize which is why I have trouble accepting it as a universal truth. For example, even if I can't understand all of physics, I see that for the most part the physicists do really awesome things so I can kind of see what the physics laws and equations represent.

I mean, with math I know that technically it's true since it's phrased as a conditional statement and does not claim to be true if the axioms are wrong. But at the same time, I don't know if I'd call a conditional statement a "universal truth" unless the antecedent actually occurs in the universe. I could say, "If there is a unicorn hiding under my bed, then I'll freak out." Technically that's true because I really would freak out in such a case, but there's never going to be a unicorn hiding under my bed so would that statement really count as a universal truth? The statement could just as easily be "true" because the fact that there's never going to be a unicorn under my bed means that the antecedent is always false, therefore I can put whatever I want as the consequent and the conditional statement as a whole will always be true.

I know this example is trivial and I don't mean to trivialize math. It was simply the first thing that popped into my head to try to explain what I'm thinking :o


It's my personal opinion (I'm not a mod, though, so I may be wrong) that off-topic posting is nothing to be ashamed of. It's how conversation works, and a forum can be considered an abstract mathematical model of such a conversation.

It's my view that intellectual conversation should never be discouraged. The off-topic-ness comes in when people intentionally derail a thread they don't like, try to start a fight, break forum rules, or post something completely random that has nothing to do with the thread and would have been better off in a new thread. It would be pretty boring if every thread was forced to stick to its initial topic to the letter, but it should stick to the initial topic in terms of general idea and the flow of conversation in the thread :)

Now, as for the other posts in this wonderful thread, I'm tired and my brain hurts so I'll go over the rest of the thread later instead of trying to respond now because your posts deserve better responses than what I can formulate right now in this state :p

Catapharact
09-09-09, 02:54
So you are saying that there is only one ultimate truth, which differs per subject (as it concerns the subject itself), and all other statements ought to be judged on their probability, where statements of certain probability can be called objective truths?
Then, if all statements' probabilities (except the ultimate truth) is judged by the subject (with limited individual perception), it is possible that different subjects assign different probabilities to the same statements, making it an objective truth for one but not for another. Would you then still say the term 'objective truth' applies? Or would you see this as reinforcement of the belief that each individual subject has in fact its own objective reality, i.e. that the subjective reality is actually objective based on this different definition?

Bingo and there in lies the delimma. However, the set principles that we agree upon for basic understanding come from a collective agreement of precieved reality and funtions. Just look at the theory of relativity itself; Its all done on the basis of relative position and agreed upon Axioms. But like Cochne said, how do you agree upon a set standard for the speed of light? How do you know that the vacume tube actually is pumped clean of matter and particles entirely? So what do we do? We try to agree upon the most possible set probability that can come close to the given concept as it posssibly can. Just take Calculus and the idea of Limits for instance ;). There are functions in Calculus where approching a certain value causes the function to be undefined. So apply the limit concept to it and argue that what if we came infinitely close to that given value. Its almost as if we were comming to that given value. Offcourse, there is still a probability of error witht his given concept but its as close to the given concept as we can get with our current collective understanding ;).

patriots88888
09-09-09, 05:44
If time started with the big bang, then the question of what there was before it becomes completely irrelevant. It's undefined, just like 1/0. I will admit, these maths things about the nature of time do seem horribly unintuitive and wrong to me as well. :D A similar thing can be said about "What is it expanding into?". Maybe it's just expanding into nothingness, but if the Big Bang created space itself (as some assume), then I don't think there is any answer that actually fits our normal modes of thought.


It's my personal opinion (I'm not a mod, though, so I may be wrong) that off-topic posting is nothing to be ashamed of. It's how conversation works, and a forum can be considered an abstract mathematical model of such a conversation…

But space itself is a vacuum or 'nothingness' so I'm guessing by your reply that space is infinite even though it's constantly expanding. The mind boggles once again.:D


It's my view that intellectual conversation should never be discouraged. The off-topic-ness comes in when people intentionally derail a thread they don't like, try to start a fight, break forum rules, or post something completely random that has nothing to do with the thread and would have been better off in a new thread. It would be pretty boring if every thread was forced to stick to its initial topic to the letter, but it should stick to the initial topic in terms of general idea and the flow of conversation in the thread :)

Okay, just wanted to be sure and not 'ruffle anyone's feathers'. Just wish more members were into the cosmology scene and its discussions. :o

Mokono
09-09-09, 09:26
Again for all practical purposes I'd have to say you're right, but I would still like to differentiate between original purpose and use - even if any use is thought to be correct by everyone, that does not make it correct. The rationale of the creator is inextricably connected to the created's purpose: if one makes a fork for eating, and another makes an object of the exact same shape and size to put in his hair, these two objects have different purposes. This also goes to show that purpose has to be metaphysical, because the physical itself cannot provide conclusive clues.
The statement "this object was (originally) made for ..." to me is an objective truth (if it's correct, of course :p). It requires exact identification of "this object", but that too, to me, is part of the objective truth. We can elaborate on "made for", though. If I take an already-existing fork and manipulate it to fit my own needs, I have turned into a creator, and am therefore in a position to change the newly formed object's purpose. As such, purposes may be stacked, but only when the object is consciously manipulated for another purpose: only conscious alteration of an object's purpose can give new purpose to an object.

I agree the most with you here. If the given creator is specific enough to ponderate correspondences in it's creation above the possible correlation this object could have with it's different uses, then i could say that there's an objective truth based in the nexus between the object and the creator's intention for that object (despite having different intentions in mind for it's objects). The most specific the need is, the most specific the object will be, hence the purpose too. However, my main conflict is how could a creator be that specific at a full extent to make an object whose purpose is indisoluble to it's escence.

Perhaps I was a bit too liberal in extending the example to the concept of language, but on the other hand, I may ask you to defend your notion that animals' communication is not language. I suppose it depends on your definition, but animals' communication follows a systematic approach (even if it's a reflex), communicates certain information and is understood by fellow animals of the same species. Is this not language?

I suppose i was too narrow restricting the term "language" to just human ways of expressions of thoughts, but this is mainly because we are able to structure sounds in a sort of code wich tries to express accurately what we're trying to say. When bees do their dance to exchange coordenates of the location of food and then give their "sisters" a taste of the food in question, they're exchanging information, sure, and even if it's far from being our verbal communication system, it still exchanges information between one being and another. I could choose (speaking of bees) the "royal pheromone" example to also elaborate about how bees are able to understand this command to prevent the worker bees to develop ovums, although i mainly think that this commandment ineluctable not because bees "understand it", but because it estimulates their bodies to prevent the ovums to be produced. Was this an automatic reaction or a voluntary reaction? Could a worker bee ignore this commandment? There's also another bug (not sure if it's an ant or a thermite) that invades other colonies from different species, kill the queen and then replace her by recreating her chemical identity (pheromones again, i guess). I guess that the more used a sense is (smell in this case), the more oriented is the "language" to that sense, so i guess that whenever information of any kind is exchanged, then communication ensues :p.

Okay, just wanted to be sure and not 'ruffle anyone's feathers'. Just wish more members were into the cosmology scene and its discussions. :o

I'm afraid i'm nullus when it comes to cosmology or physics, but if i'm allowed to give it a try :o...

We do know that time is a constant which is defined as a nonspatial continuum and measured by the passing of events. It has no starting point nor end point. It is the Alpha and Omega so time itself is infinity. Unless you believe that time didn't begin until the creation of the universe or Big Bang if you will. :p But if that's the case, then what was before that? And if the universe is constantly expanding, what is it expanding into? In other words, what's outside the universe?

I guess before that there was time, but since events were "static" (considering there was no activity been made by any object assuming nothing indeed existed prior the universe, then time was in some sort of permanent pause that played according to the appearance of matter. However, is there a way the expansion of the universe could be cognitive too? I mean, if everything is there and we're the one who expands it by pushing the borders against the limits with our discoveries of everything that is farther? like when someone's trapped in fog, he might have 0 visibility or 5 meters visibility, if he advances, then he can confirm the existence of what was beyond, without forgetting what also was between his initial borders. I guess that outside the universe there's just more universe :p.