• Metaphysician Undercover
    Is it your position then, that objects do not have independent existence?Mww

    That's right, that's what I've been arguing. The appearance of "an object" is something created by the subconscious system. What this appearance, or "objet" is, is a representation, or a symbol, which signifies something meaningful. Remember, I didn't allow a real, essential difference between an appearance created from memory, imagination, or dreaming, and one created through sensation. The appearance of an object is created by that sub-conscious system, what I called the brain, so I have no reason to believe that there are objects independent of that system. We call the independent "objects" because that's the way it appears to us, and it is convenient for communication.

    I hold “appearance”, not as what a thing may look like, which you’ll call its image....maybe..., but that a thing has initially presented itself, has made its appearance, a euphemism indicating something’s made itself available to sensibility. I don’t need to distinguish anything about appearances; they, in effect are the distinction, between having and not having sensations. As such, I rather think sensations are derived from appearances, not the other way around. Nothing is actually lost by deleting the term, going straight from perception to sensation.Mww

    How do you account for the reality of dreams then? How can it appear to a person, like one is having sensations, when the person really is not. The reality of this issue is not as simple as a simple distinction "between having and not having sensations", because in dreams it appears like I am having sensations when I am not. Therefore we have to account for the reality of the "appearance" of sensations. When it appears like I am having sensations, sometimes I am (when I'm awake), and sometimes I'm not (when I'm asleep).

    So, having and not having sensations is not a useful dichotomy because it doesn't explain the reality of having the appearance of sensations. And, if the brain can create the appearance of sensations (in dreams), then there is no reason to rule out the possibility that the brain is creating the sensations themselves. And if this is the case, it is better to call this the appearance of sensations. That's why you cannot accurately say "nothing is actually lost by deleting the term", because something actually is lost. What is lost is the possibility that the brain is actually creating what you call "sensations", and if this is the case, it would be better called "the appearance of sensations".

    So we say, the sensation represents the appearance of an object.Mww

    This is not the way we describe this. The appearance is in the mind. We might say that the sensation represents an object (assuming the object to be external), but to" appear" is to have been perceived. So the appearance of an object is always said to be in the mind. What I am saying, is that the sensation, in the conscious mind is the appearance of an object. But "sensation" requires the production of that appearance of an object within the mind, and this production is not done by the senses. And the "appearance", which is within the mind, represents whatever it is (having meaningful significance), which is external.

    Only, such faculty needs a division, which I mentioned previously, as productive and reproductive.Mww

    This is the division I've denied. I say that they are essentially the same process, except one utilizes more sense input.

    The conscious part, the one with which we are familiar, is the reproductive imagination, which fabricates that which will become the representation of the external object as it is actually cognized. Or, simply put....as we think it to be.Mww

    I don't get this. If the sub-conscious has already synthesized the object of sensibility, isn't that already the representation of the external object (assuming an external object)? All that the conscious mind can do now is recall that object from memory, think about it, and perhaps name it. The only real fabrication that the conscious mind does is in conception. But conception deals with abstractions, universals, or generalizations, and these are not representations of an external object, they are generalizations from many objects. So the division which needs to be made is between the part which deals with particular objects (or representations of the external object), and the part which deals with conceptions, abstractions.

    Yes, this creative activity is between sensing and reasoning, but it doesn’t create principles.Mww

    I disagree, I think that principles are created by this intuitive, creative part of the mind. It clearly isn't reasoning which creates principles, because many people follow unreasonable principles. Furthermore, if reasoning created principles, we'd have that vicious circle. Reasoning is to think in a principled way. But if principles are created by reasoning, there is no way that the first principle could have come into existence. So we need to allow that principles are derived from something other than reasoning, something like intuition.

    No, because brain and nervous system are physical realities, but the sub-conscious mind is only metaphysical, and speculative at that. No empirical proofs possible kinda thing.Mww

    The problem here is that the senses are physical realities, just like the brain and nervous system. So we have to cross that bridge between the physical reality of sensation, and the metaphysical reality of what's in the mind, some place if we want understand the role which sensation plays in relation to the conscious mind. I place that crossover at the brain and nervous system. If we do not allow the crossover, then we cannot even talk about sensations as having any real external input into the mind.

    So the "sub-conscious" serves to bridge that gap. From the perspective of the conscious mind, in the act of introspection, the sub-conscious marks the end, the limit. So we can understand sensations as being derived from the sub-conscious, because we can't get to the senses themselves through introspection. And, from the physical perspective, the brain is the limit, as to how far the physical explanation can proceed toward the conscious. Empirical science can explain sensation up until the brain, but it cannot say how the brain produces a conscious sensation. So I propose that the sub-conscious, and the brain, are essentially the same thing, approached from different perspectives.

    As far as the reasoning process in and of itself is concerned, why do representations need to be given names? What the reasoning process is actually doing as a reasoning process, doesn’t use names. The reasoning process assigns names post hoc for no other reason than to describe itself. The use of words in your consciousness is mere rehearsal, the method by which what is thought is then going to be objectified in some form of physical action.Mww

    I think you must have a different idea of what constitutes "reasoning" from what I do. "Reasoning", from what I understand is to proceed with thinking in a logical way. Logic requires symbols, names, for its proceedings. That's what separates us from other animals, we think using symbols (we reason), and when formalized, this is called logic. Therefore assigning names, symbols, or words, is necessarily prior to, as required for, the reasoning process.

    I also think that if you tried to describe a "reasoning process" which did not use names, symbols, or words, you would just be describing "thinking". But thinking is much more general than reasoning, as many animals think, but only human beings reason. So reasoning is a very specific type of thinking. In introspection we find reasoning at the very top of consciousness, as the highest form of thinking. When we go deeper we find different types of thinking, which utilize images that are initiated for whatever purpose, and even deeper we find daydreaming where the images are initiated without any real purpose or reason. All these are forms of conscious thinking. If we try to go even deeper in introspection, we find that the mechanism which creates the images is unassailable, as sub-conscious, but we can still conjure up the images, call for them, with the conscious mind.

    I propose that we could make an analogy, a comparison. We have access, to some extent, through introspection, to the way that the conscious mind assigns words or symbols in representation. In analogy we could say that the sub-conscious creates images or representations in a similar way. And this is how I come up with the arbitrariness.

    I offer that there are two kinds of representation, not levels, and, names are assigned to indicate how a thing has been understood because of the logical synthesis of representations.Mww

    This is where we differ, as I explained. I see names as necessary for, and therefore prior to a proper (rational) understanding. If you propose a deeper, more fundamental level of "understanding", such as what another type of animal might have, which is prior to naming, than this type of understanding still would require symbols, or representations, which are images.

    But I firmly reject your proposal because I think it is very important to understand that representations, as images, symbols, words, or in whatever form, are necessarily prior to thinking, and used by thinking as the required "building blocks". It is important to understand this, because these fundamental building blocks of thinking, having been synthesized at a level prior to the actual thinking which utilizes them, are the weak points of that thinking. This is what I meant when I said that the premises, or axioms, are the most fallible aspect of the logical process.

    This is very significant, because this is where the actual meaning, content, or subject matter, of the thinking lies. So our intellectual world might be full of logical formalisms, which amount to meaningless fluff, chaff, because the actual meaning is veiled behind the principles which support the formal structure. And if we dig down to that fundamental meaning, which supports the entire formal structure, we find that it is extremely vague, indefinite, and uncertain.

    When a word is a foreign language is heard by a person, he will not understand the meaning of it. Or, say, an action indicating a meaning is given to a person who doesn’t understand the act, like....putting a finger orthogonal to the lips to indicate being quiet....if a guy doesn’t know that sign, he won’t understand what is expected of him when he perceives it. Only from experience, then, does meaning antecede understanding.Mww

    Doesn't this indicate to you, the exact opposite of what you are claiming, and that is what I am claiming, that naming is prior to understanding? We can receive a name, and even use it as a child learning to speak demonstrates, without having an understanding of its significance.

    This works for a two-party communication. You naming something must occur before my understanding of what you mean by that name, yes. We see that right here in this dialectic, wherein each of us uses words with their inherent meaning derived by our individual cognitive systems, and that use is not thoroughly understood by the other. “Appearance” is a good example, insofar as a word common to each of our vocabularies carries different understandings with it pursuant to what it is meant to indicate. As we can see, we each misjudged the understanding of the other in his use of a common word. The prime indicator of all that is...we each refrain from calling out the other as wrong in what is said, but rather, we say we do not agree (do not concur from similar judgement) with what was said, or we say we do not understand what was said (cannot afford a judgement at all).Mww

    So, I request that you carry this one step further, to see that I can use a word without an understanding of how I am using it. This is a sort of trial and error process, as children do when they are learning to speak, and I submit that it is fundamental to the existence of knowledge. It is very evident in cutting edge science like high energy physics. The experimenters will assign names (like the names of various fundamental particles) without any sort of understanding of the thing being named. Naming is the very first step toward understanding, because it allows for logical proceedings.

    Half and half. Yes, knowledge is always emergent: in me because of me, or, in me because of you. Understanding is only emergent in me because of you but is intrinsic in me because of me. Understanding here indicates the specific function of a faculty in a systemic whole, not that on which the faculty operates as means to an end.

    You probably mean you can get me to understand something, which seems to say understanding emerges, but it is still my understanding that does all the work, such that I may know what you mean. Which is to say, An understanding emerges. The understanding of something emerges.

    Please don’t consider this as mere quibbling, when in fact, it is the very reason why decent metaphysics tomes are of so gawd-awful-many pages. Getting things just so, no over-lap, no confusion in terminology.

    What you say here doesn't completely make sense to me. When you say understanding "is intrinsic in me because of me", I see this as somewhat incoherent. If it is intrinsic in me, then it is an essential aspect of me, and cannot be caused by me, it must be caused by whatever caused me. Otherwise it would be like a thing causing itself, which would mean the thing is temporally prior to itself, and this is incoherent. So if understanding is "because of me" (caused by me), which I agree with, then it is not intrinsic in me, but emerges within me. This is a very important difference because now we need to seek an internal cause of understanding, which is other than understanding itself.

    The difficulty is in the ambiguity between the noun, an "understanding", and the verb, "understanding" which is the process that causes an understanding. When we make the act or process of understanding the cause of the noun, the understanding, we seem to neglect the need for a cause of the act, the process. So you say understanding is "intrinsic" within me, but this is not really true because the act of understanding is really caused within you by something else. This makes "understanding" as something emergent within you rather than something intrinsic within you. Evidence of this, is that a baby must learn how to understand, it is not an innate capacity. The baby is not born with the ability to understand. These finer points, what you say is not quibbling, but making terminology clear, are very important in understanding the nature of agency, which is the feature of causation.

    It is within this matter of "agency", where you and I are furthest apart. You think that external objects cause the sensations, impressions, or representations of the external world within us, I think that internal agency is the cause. When you neglect the need for a cause of the activity or process which is called "understanding", and take understanding for granted as intrinsic within me, you do not apprehend the need for internal agency in the same way.

    Careful here, not to conflate reason the human condition, with reason the cognitive faculty. In the first sense, there is nothing antecedent to a necessary condition, but in the second sense....Mww

    This I believe is incorrect, there is definitely something antecedent to "reason" as the human condition. This is what defines "being reasonable". Even a "necessary condition" must be defined. These are the conditions which must be met in order to fulfill the human condition of "reason". And the issue is that the human baby is not born with this condition, "reason", reason must be learned. Aristotle approached this question in his ethics, at what age is a person morally responsible for one's own actions. There is a necessity for children to develop a consistency in character before we can accurately say that they are rational, or reasonable. Wittgenstein inquired in a similar way, as to what degree of consistency in behaviour is required before we can say that a person is following a rule. So there is clearly a human condition which is prior to the condition of "reason", or more properly "reasonable", and this is the condition which we find the human baby to be in.

    ......it is true reason-ing, the action of the cognitive faculty, needs these things, but reason the distinguishing human condition is that which makes reason the faculty even possible. When I offer the two conditions for being human and you counter-offer something which seems to reference those conditions but doesn’t belong there, it is technically a categorical error. Nevertheless, you are correct if you mean these things are necessary for reason the cognitive faculty. But you didn’t stipulate it as such. So I did it for you.Mww

    By means of the reasons explained above, I conclude that it is you who is making the categorical mistake in assigning "reason" to some sort of faculty, or "human condition". Reasoning is an act, and to reason is also an act. There is no identifiable faculty which can be called faculty of reason. The cognitive faculty is that which thinks, and to reason is a specific form of thinking. Any animal who thinks has the cognitive faculty, but not every animal who thinks has the capacity to reason. The ability to reason is learned through the ability to communicate. It is a special function of the cognitive faculty, not equivalent to it.

    Agreed. But again, you’re responding to my stipulation of reason the condition, which is not reasoning itself. Reason is a self-contained causality, reasoning is not.Mww

    So here, you proceed from that category mistake, which sees "reason" as some sort of independent faculty, to say that reason is a "self-contained causality", but this is mistaken. Reason cannot be separated from the act of reasoning, as you assume, because all it is is a special type of act of the cognitive faculty, which thinks. There is no separate faculty which reasons, there is only the cognitive faculty which thinks, sometimes using reasoning, sometimes not.

    Suppose for example, there are many things which the legs can do, walk, kick, etc.. You want to take one, kicking for example, and say that there is a special faculty which kicks. But in reality it is the same faculty which both walks and kicks, and kicking is only one of the acts of this faculty, so there is no separate faculty which kicks, just like reasoning is only one of the acts of the cognitive faculty, and there is no separate faculty which reasons.

    I don’t care about wanting to learn, insofar as I’m perfectly capable of learning stuff even if I had no desire for it. And if I want to learn something, I must do it in the exact same way as if I didn’t care if I learned it or not.Mww

    I think that this is demonstrably false, but I'll leave it at that because you seem to be disinterested in how the will to learn is imperative to real learning.

    Possibilities, the possibility of things, is dealt with the modal logic and probabilities. Possibility, in and of itself, as a singular pure category, having no object belonging to it, is not dealt with at all; it is what things are dealt with, by. A thing is possible, or it is not. We understand a thing to be possible or not, only because the conception “possibility” already resides within the system a priori. Logic and probability affirm or deny the validity of the object to which the pure conception “possibility” applies.

    Think about it: we can neither think nor perceive an impossible object. It follows that to think or perceive an object, the reality of that object must be possible. In addition, if this object only exists because of that object, that object must exist necessarily. Some conceptions belong to the faculty of understanding simply because it is that kind of understanding, the human kind. Hence....speculative metaphysics.

    It appears like our difference in approach renders each one of our comprehensions of "possibility" incoherent to the other one of us. I believe that a "pure category, having no object belonging to it" is itself impossible, because a category can only be exemplified by the objects which belong to it. The pure category with no object, is like the empty set, which is itself impossible. A collection of things which contains no things is not a collection of things. Likewise, a category of things which has no things is not a category of things. And, because we can readily conceive of the impossible (the empty set for example, a group of things without any things), your claim, "we can neither think nor perceive an impossible object" appears completely false from my perspective.

    I guess you could use the brain. But the brain is physical, and the conscious mind is metaphysical, so you’re making it so the t’wain shall meet. While it is true the brain carries sole responsibility for whatever goes on between the ears, as soon as you bring abstractions into the picture, you’ve removed the brain from doing anything, insofar as the brain functions in concreto according with natural law. I agree the brain creates images, but how the images are made usable by the conscious mind has never been determined, and whether or not there is any conscious mind to make use of them, the physicalist will deny outright.Mww

    The point though, is that it is necessary that the "t’wain shall meet" Otherwise we cannot reconcile the activity of the senses, sensing, which is physical, with the activity of the conscious mind, thinking, which is metaphysical. If we do not allow the two to meet, in the brain (or subconscious) for example, then we will end up with two separate realities, the physical and the metaphysical, which could be completely incompatible.

    So we have abstractions in the conscious mind, and this conscious mind might be involved in the act of reasoning, but is is not a "self-contained causality", because the conscious mind, in its act of reasoning, requires the images which are created by the brain, or subconscious.

    I vote for consciousness. The conscious mind is a philosophical construct, therefore, to develop a sufficiently explanatory theory, any participant in that construct, must be philosophical as well. In fact, the brain does all that stuff, but we don’t know how, so we are free to hypothesize logically, in order to satisfy ourselves.Mww

    It cannot be consciousness though, which creates the images, because we get them in our sleep, in dreams. That's why I say these images must have a subconscious source. We can hypothesize all we want, but if the hypotheses are not consistent with experience, it's pointless.

    Ok, I can see that. Truth be told, we’re both sailing first class on the ship of ignorance here: you can’t tell me exactly how the brain gives images to the conscious mind, and I can’t tell you how exactly intuition creates phenomena.Mww

    We are not actually sailing on the same ship of ignorance, because we can each choose the direction one wants to go. This does not necessarily release us from ignorance, but it may put us on different ships. However, once we realize the importance of internal agency, it's easy to understand how we can all be going in different directions in our ignorance. This is why the will to learn is very significant. Without it one might be pushed (persuaded) in any direction, and that is what empowers the deception of sophistry. So there is a very real difference between wanting to know the truth, and just accepting whatever anyone tells us.
  • Wayfarer
    Here is a well-regarded book, The Nature of Necessity, Alvin Plantinga, which analyses many of the themes explored in this thread. (There is a .pdf out there.)

    This book is a study of the concept of necessity. In the first three chapters, I clarify and defend the distinction between modality de re and modality de dicto. Also, I show how to explain de re modality in terms of de dicto modality. In Ch. 4, I explicate the concept of a possible world and define what it is for an object x to have a property P essentially. I then use the concept of an essential property to give an account of essences and their relationship to proper names. In Ch. 6, I argue that the Theory of Worldbound Individuals—even when fortified with Counterpart Theory—is false. Chapters 7 and 8 address the subject of possible but non‐existent objects; I argue here for the conclusion that there is no good reason to think that there are any such objects. In Ch. 9, I apply my theory of modality to the Problem of Evil in an effort to show that the Free Will Defense defeats this particular objection to theism. In Ch. 10, I present a sound modal version of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Finally, in the appendix, I address Quinean objections to quantified modal logic.
  • Joshs

    Here is a well-regarded book, The Nature of Necessity, Alvin Plantinga, which analyses many of the themes explored in this thread. (Wayfarer

    Alvin Plantinga? :gasp: :grimace: :rage: :mask:
  • Joshs
    :gasp: :grimace: :rage: :mask:
  • Wayfarer
    Yes, 'Alvin Plantinga'. And no, I don't believe in Reformed Theology. Here I'm interested in the technicalities of the arguments, from a POV other than 'presumptively materialist'. I have another of his books, and it's a dull slog, but I accept the basic validity of his 'evolutionary argument against naturalism', and frequently invoke it.

    (In fact it would be interesting to compare that argument with Donald Hoffman's Evolutionary Argument against Reality.)

    The connection being this: that naturalism (or physicalism) claims that the brain produces or causes mental events. Mental events include rational inferences of the kind 'because X then Y'. However (1) if logical necessity and physical causation are independent, as many contributors argue in this thread, then that is not a valid inference, and (2) if it is true, then the conclusion is the consequence of a physical cause rather than logical necessity, so not a valid inference. This is the gist of the 'argument from reason'.
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