• frank
    11.9k
    Since Newton at least, physics has not been wrongManuel

    Yes. My point was just that since it's incomplete, the claim you're making isn't really about science. It's a philosophical bias that's common during the time in which you live.

    There's weight to scientific findings. You can't really borrow that weight to say there's a mind independent world.

    To some extent it's a hinge proposition that there are mind independent things, but I don't know how much of your behavior really revolves around that hinge. I don't know how differently people behaved 5000 years ago.
  • Manuel
    3.1k
    Yes. My point was just that since it's incomplete, the claim you're making isn't really about science. It's a philosophical bias that's common during the time in which you live.frank

    What? We can use the James Webb, land on the moon, calculate the age of the universe and the distance of galaxies all on the basis of the little we do know. Is this not real knowledge of the universe even if the science is incomplete?

    There's weight to scientific findings. You can't really borrow that weight to say there's a mind independent world.

    To some extent it's a hinge proposition that there are mind independent things, but I don't know how much of your behavior really revolves around that hinge. I don't know how differently people behaved 5000 years ago.
    frank

    So is there mind-independence in your view, or no? Like, do you believe all these is to the world and the universe are our thoughts about it? That's perfectly fine if it is your view.
  • Manuel
    3.1k


    I'm saying these are epistemological differences, not ontological ones.

    I'll even grant the point about the alien.
  • frank
    11.9k

    What? We can use the James Webb, land on the moon, calculate the age of the universe and the distance of galaxies all on the basis of the little we do know. Is this not real knowledge of the universe even if the science is incomplete?
    Manuel

    Telescopes and moon landings are engineering feats and it's a pet peeve of mine to assign their victories entirely to scientific knowledge. It's doesn't actually work that way, but that's beside the point. :smile:

    There's no scientific findings published by Nature that address mind independence. This is an assumption arising from your worldview. I've said this several times now. I'm not sure why it's unclear.

    So is there mind-independence in your view, or no? Like, do you believe all these is to the world and the universe are our thoughts about it? That's perfectly fine if it is your view.Manuel

    I have the same worldview you do. I'm just clearer on the arbitrariness of it than I think you might be.
  • Manuel
    3.1k
    There's no scientific findings published by Nature that address mind independence. This is an assumption arising from your worldview. I've said this several times now. I'm not sure why it's unclear.frank

    I'm mostly talking about physics and aspects of astronomy. Not biology or stuff that's even more complex than that. I'd say that there are parts of astronomy that are arbitrary, sure. With physics, much less so.

    From what I can see, most physicist take themselves to be talking about the world irrespective of our beliefs, desires, everyday concepts and so on.

    Everything else becomes much muddier and more difficult very quickly. Which doesn't render it less valuable or interesting, but arbitrariness and our ways of thinking about them do enter much more clearly, imo.

    I have the same worldview you do. I'm just clearer on the arbitrariness of it than I think you might be.frank

    That's quite possible. :)
  • Janus
    13.2k
    The more serious issue is that of explanatory frameworks. You and I have often discussed that, and I seem to recall you often saying that science is really the only credible public framework for such discussion, with other perspectives being designated 'poetic' - noble and edifying but essentially personal. But then, I guess that's part of the cultural dilemma of modernity, of which Chalmers and Dennett are two protagonists.Wayfarer

    The question that comes up for me is whether "explanatory frameworks" can be true or false or merely "edifying". Even in the case of science where what would count as an "explanatory framework" would be theories and disciplines like Darwinian Evolution, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Organic and inorganic Chemistry, Microbiology. Biology, Geology and so on, the intelligent claim seems to be, not that they are necessarily or proven true, but they are workable and provide the best explanations for observed phenomena to date.

    Then you have "soft sciences" like Psychology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Ethnology and so on. These too can be more or less workable, so it's not just a matter of them being "poetic". And the epithet 'poetic' in my view is not at all deprecatory, because I think poetry and the arts in general, at their best are profound expressions of the human imagination, and are much truer to subjective experience than science could ever be. Remember the etymological genesis of 'poetry' is poesis, which means 'making'.

    So, for me poetry and the arts, which would include the writings of mystics and sages, are the most important expressions of human thought and imagination, while science, although it also has a creative, poetic side, is largely driven by instrumental concerns.

    Nice obituary; I haven't explored Richard Bernstein's work at all, but it sounds interesting.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    I mean since scientific observations are publicly available whereas consciousness is not publicly observable it's hard to see how it could work.Janus

    There is no basic problem here. All that is required is good honest observations, and this is fundamental to science anyway. So, in the same way that a person copies another person's scientific procedures to verify the honesty of the reported observations, we can verify another person's internal observations by making our own in a similar way.

    The issue is not that internal observations of consciousness are fundamentally unscientific, the issue is that the scientific community has been mostly disinterested in internal observations. So these forms of science are pushed to the fringes. The scientists are motivated to produce more and more creature comforts into higher and higher levels of luxury, because that's where the money is. There is no money in learning about the true internal nature of consciousness and the intellect so view scientists will work on these observations.
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    mean since scientific observations are publicly available whereas consciousness is not publicly observableJanus

    It seems to me that if consciousness wasn't publicly observable, then what in the world would it mean to say that someone is conscious? You seem to imply that consciousness is only that which I alone can access. It would have to be at the very least both private and public. The public part being that which allows us to access the concepts and ideas associated with what's happening to us privately. Without the public part there would be no talking about consciousness, period. Even the idea of what it's like to experience the color red, or to experience the bitterness of dark chocolate, is both private and public. It's the public part of consciousness that allows us to say that rocks aren't conscious.

    If you mean there is no scientific avenue of investigation into these private experiences, that too, seems false to me. We investigate these private experiences all the time in science. To investigate the person (their private experiences) is to investigate consciousness. We can easily collect data on such an investigation, and have collected data.

    There is no invisible thing associated with consciousness. There is no soul, as some envision, that is the essence of consciousness. There are only the outward signs associated with being you or me, and that is what is meant by consciousness, as I see it. Even in my investigation into NDEs, it's still the same thing, i.e., you can ask the same questions, and the answers would still be the same.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    There is no invisible thing associated with consciousness. There is no soul, as some envision, that is the essence of consciousness. There are only the outward signs associated with being you or me, and that is what is meant by consciousness, as I see it. Even in my investigation into NDEs, it's still the same thing, i.e., you can ask the same questions, and the answers would still be the same.Sam26

    It is when we move from the question of what is consciousness, to the question of why is there consciousness, i.e. ask for the cause, that we are incline to conclude that there must be something like a soul. And, seeking causes is a scientific endeavour.

    The problem is that observations alone can only take us so far and we want to know about things outside the range of direct sense contact. So we take a collection of observations, apply inductive reasoning to make general principles, and we employ those principles as premises for deductive logic.
    In this way we proceed toward understanding things outside the range of immediate sensation.

    There appears to be two principle ways that things can be "outside" the range of sense contact, spatially and temporally. But already we can apprehend a fault in this premise. Spatially, we can see a need to allow for things which are out of range of sense contact by being spatially "inside". So the use of "outside" is prone to misleading us. And when we relate space to time, and we look for the cause of change, we look to the outside of the thing which is changing (in the Newtonian way of being acted on by a force). This inclination renders our minds blind to causation from inside.

    We can see this problem quite clearly in the application of systems theory. There is stipulated a within the system, and an outside the system, therefore a proposed boundary between the system and other, its environment.. The system itself (within the system), will continue its existence according to Newtonian laws, unless acted on by something outside the system. But this provides no principle for distinction or separation, between an external boundary and an internal boundary. So all causes of change to the system are from external sources. This is due to our conventional conceptions of space which only allow for space which is external to a point, and do not allow for space which is internal to a point. We have no principle to allow for changes to the system which come across the internal boundary. So these are commonly represented as unknowns coming across the external boundary.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    I mean since scientific observations are publicly available whereas consciousness is not publicly observable it's hard to see how it could work. — Janus


    There is no basic problem here. All that is required is good honest observations, and this is fundamental to science anyway.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    The difference between "good honest observations" of subjective experience and scienitifc observation of the external world is that the latter can be checked and corroborated, while the former cannot. How could I know your observations of your own experience are "good and honest"? That would involve a leap of faith. How can I know that even my own introspection is accurate? What could it be accurate in relation to? Accuracy is an inter-subjective idea. A similar issue arises for empirical observations when attempts are made to render them absolute.


    It seems to me that if consciousness wasn't publicly observable, then what in the world would it mean to say that someone is conscious? You seem to imply that consciousness is only that which I alone can access. It would have to be at the very least both private and public. The public part being that which allows us to access the concepts and ideas associated with what's happening to us privately.Sam26

    The behaviors we associate with being conscious are of course public, no argument there. On the other hand, only I know what I am conscious of at any time, unless I tell others. But then they have no way of knowing whether I am being honest.

    Of course, since we all privately experience being conscious, talk about being conscious is manifest publicly. I'm also not denying that there is scientific investigation of consciousness in terms of brain imaging to find out what parts of the brain are active when people are asleep, eating chocolate, viewing various kinds of images, or what people report when certain areas of the brain are electrically stimulated, and so on. But none of that captures the subjective qualities of experience; they are private. cannot be adequately described and are perhaps unique to each of us in their living particularity.

    So, I disagree with you when you say there are only the outward signs of being consciousness, which by implication suggests that there is not inner experience. You might know that in your own case, but how could you possibly know that in the case of others? And I'm here to tell you that my own experience says you are wrong about that. Of course, for you to believe me will be a leap of faith: I could be lying to you.
  • Luke
    2.2k
    The public part being that which allows us to access the concepts and ideas associated with what's happening to us privately. Without the public part there would be no talking about consciousness, period.Sam26

    I think it may be useful to separate the private from the public: on the one hand, an individual's private experience(s) - "what's happening to us privately" - and on the other hand, our public behaviour, including our public language/concepts about consciousness. I agree that "without the public part there would be no talking about consciousness", but I think it is questionable whether our public language/concepts can ever exhaust/capture every nuance of every person's private experience.

    If you mean there is no scientific avenue of investigation into these private experiences, that too, seems false to me. We investigate these private experiences all the time in science. To investigate the person (their private experiences) is to investigate consciousness. We can easily collect data on such an investigation, and have collected data.Sam26

    Again, I agree. However, scientific investigations depend on our public language/concepts which, again, may not exhaust/capture every nuance of every person's private experience.

    There is no invisible thing associated with consciousness.Sam26

    Given that consciousness has both public and private aspects, I disagree. There is only no invisible thing associated with our public behaviour, including our talk about consciousness.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    The difference between "good honest observations" of subjective experience and scienitifc observation of the external world is that the latter can be checked and corroborated, while the former cannot.Janus

    This is incorrect. You tell me your observations of your internal self, and I compare them with mine. There is nothing more problematic then scientific observations here. The idea that scientific observations can be corroborated by a number of people, presupposes consistency between your observational capacities and mine. So, by that same presupposed consistency, we may corroborate our internal observations just as well.

    How can I know that even my own introspection is accurate?Janus

    How is this different from sense observations. How can you know that your senses are accurate? Description is simply a matter of putting words to what is noticed. We commonly make mistakes, regardless of whether the described things are internal or external.

    It's simply the case that words have been used far more for the purpose of referring to external things than internal, for pragmatic purposes. So language has developed further that way. All we need to do is properly develop our use of words for referring to internal things, to give us a similar degree of knowledge of the inside. Look, you think that we can corroborate between us concerning descriptions of external things, assuming consistency between us. So you assume that we sense external things in a similar way as each other. Sensing is carried out by organs and the nervous system, which also provide internal feelings. So, why wouldn't there be similar consistency between internal things, such that we can corroborate internal observations?
  • Janus
    13.2k
    You tell me your observations of your internal self, and I compare them with mine.Metaphysician Undercover

    Problem is your and my "internal self" are different "objects", whereas our observations of say an apple can be confirmed down to the minutest details.

    How is this different from sense observations. How can you know that your senses are accurate?Metaphysician Undercover

    As I said earlier accuracy is only measurable within a context where all observations can be compared in detail.

    I don't say that the fact that we can see whether our "internal" observations match up in kind is trivial: that is what enables phenomenology, and I have respect for that discipline. But there is a difference between phenomenology and the empirical sciences because in the case of the latter the objects of observation are publicly available,
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    Problem is your and my "internal self" are different "objects", whereas our observations of say an apple can be confirmed down to the minutest details.Janus

    Yes, so the fact that our observations of external things can be confirmed down to the "minutest details" only proves that your and my internal self are the same down to the minutest details. That we are actually distinct is not very relevant to this purpose, because we are the same down to the minutest details. And when we produce general principles through inductive reasoning, as is the practise of science, differences in the minutest details are not relevant.

    But there is a difference between phenomenology and the empirical sciences because in the case of the latter the objects of observation are publicly available,Janus

    Again, you are incorrect here. When a scientist performs an experiment, only those present have access to observe the "objects" which are observed. Scientific experiments are not publicly available. Yet the scientists establish conclusions and principles which can be applied publicly, to many other objects, and other experiments, which may be different, by way of minute details. These minute differences are deemed by us to be irrelevant when applying these principles. And so the minute differences between your and my internal self ought to be deemed irrelevant in a similar way.

    Phenomenology is an empirical science, as "empirical" means from observation, or experience. It is just a different field of science, distinct from most other fields, and not nearly as far developed. It is not as developed because the pragmatic forces which motivate the human being's inclination to study, have not inclined vast numbers of people toward studying this field.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    Yes, so the fact that our observations of external things can be confirmed down to the "minutest details" only proves that your and my internal self are the same down to the minutest details.Metaphysician Undercover

    Not at all; it speaks to the fact that our perceptual organizations are similar enough, and that the minutest details of external objects do not depend on who is observing them.

    When a scientist performs an experiment, only those present have access to observe the "objects" which are observed. Scientific experiments are not publicly available.Metaphysician Undercover

    Some observations may be available only to those who are trained to know what to look for and what they are looking at, but all scientific observations are publicly available in principle.

    I think you argue just for the sake of it or for the sake of winning; you don't seem to be interested in what is the case..
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    Not at all; it speaks to the fact that our perceptual organizations are similar enough, and that the minutest details of external objects do not depend on who is observing them.Janus

    So what's your argument then? A bit of rock in the ground here is "similar enough" to a bit of rock in the ground on the other side of the world, that we can make conclusions and state "scientific" principles which apply to both. And, our "perceptual organizations" must be "similar enough" in order that a multitude of us can agree on these details. On what basis do you conclude that we can make valid scientific conclusions about the similarity in the rocks but not about the similarity in the internal perceptual organizations?

    Some observations may be available only to those who are trained to know what to look for and what they are looking at, but all scientific observations are publicly available in principle.Janus

    You are missing the point. The observations are only made by those participating in the performance of the experiment. Therefore the observations are not publicly available. You can read someone else's observations, but to assume that the other person's observations are the same as yours would be in that situation, is to presuppose the principle you stated above, that "our perceptual organizations are similar enough". And if that presupposition is true then there is no problem for me to make scientific conclusions about your internal perceptual organizations based on an analysis of my own internal disposition.

    The other possible way that observations are available to the public is if we follow the stated method to replicate, and do our own experimentation. If you've ever done this though, you likely have found out that we commonly do not really notice the same "minutest details". That's a faulty assumption on your part, and correcting it is what leads to the hard problem.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    On what basis do you conclude that we can make valid scientific conclusions about the similarity in the rocks but not about the similarity in the internal perceptual organizations?Metaphysician Undercover

    The similarities in objects of the sense can be pointed to as can the observable structural similarities in perceptual organizations: the structure of eyes, of optic nerves, of brains.

    The observations are only made by those participating in the performance of the experiment. Therefore the observations are not publicly available.Metaphysician Undercover

    Empirical observations in general, any observation concerning the characteristics of objects of the senses are publicly available. These observations are definitely confirmable. If I am with ten people, looking at a red apple with a yellow stripe, I can ask all those people what unusual feature they see on that apple and predictably they will most likely all agree it is the yellow stripe.

    If I am entertaining a particular thought and I ask you what I am thinking you cannot tell me. That's the difference between private thoughts, feelings and sensations and publicly available objects of the senses. I shouldn't have to point this out to you since it is obviously the case, as attested by everyday experience.
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    I think it may be useful to separate the private from the public: on the one hand, an individual's private experience(s) - "what's happening to us privately" - and on the other hand, our public behaviour, including our public language/concepts about consciousness. I agree that "without the public part there would be no talking about consciousness", but I think it is questionable whether our public language/concepts can ever exhaust/capture every nuance of every person's private experience.Luke

    I think we agree on these points.

    Given that consciousness has both public and private aspects, I disagree. There is only no invisible thing associated with our public behaviour, including our talk about consciousness.Luke

    I'm not so sure we disagree here. There are private experiences going on all the time, but in order to talk about these private experiences there has to be the public component. I'm referring to the use of the word soul. The religious idea that there is some private thing that represents the soul, i.e., that gives meaning to the concept, is problematic. The use of the word apart from the religious use, is associated with that which animates the body, or the actions of the body. There are obviously unseen things going on.
  • Luke
    2.2k
    There is no invisible thing associated with consciousness.
    — Sam26

    Given that consciousness has both public and private aspects, I disagree. There is only no invisible thing associated with our public behaviour, including our talk about consciousness.
    — Luke

    I'm not so sure we disagree here. There are private experiences going on all the time, but in order to talk about these private experiences there has to be the public component. I'm referring to the use of the word soul. The religious idea that there is some private thing that represents the soul, i.e., that gives meaning to the concept, is problematic. The use of the word apart from the religious use, is associated with that which animates the body, or the actions of the body. There are obviously unseen things going on.
    Sam26

    I disagreed with what you said earlier: "There is no invisible thing associated with consciousness." However, now you say "There are obviously unseen things going on"...?

    As I said earlier, we need to distinguish public behaviour - including language use - from an individual's private experience. Both aspects are involved in consciousness.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    There is no invisible thing associated with consciousness. There is no soul, as some envision, that is the essence of consciousness.Sam26

    What the human mind does - uniquely well, as far as we can ascertain - is grasp abstract ideas and see causal relations (among other things) which are foundational for the ability to speak and reason. Consider for example the ‘imperfection argument’ from the Phaedo - that there is no physical or empirically existent instance of what is denoted by “=“. No two things are exactly the same (other than numbers, which are not things). And yet we rely on the concept of equals (and other like concepts) for all manner of rational thought. Rational thinking relies on such abilities, which have no physical equivalent, but without which there would be no science or mathematics. That is an attribute of the faculty of reason. That is a far cry from an ‘invisible thing’ yet it is a unique characteristic of the rational mind. Nor is it an ability for which there could feasibly be a scientific explanation, as any scientific explanation will of necessity rely on the very faculty which it would be here seeking to explain.
  • creativesoul
    10.9k
    The public/private distinction breaks down completely when the 'private' part becomes existentially dependent on the public part.

    Shaming. Pride.

    The examples are far too plentiful to enumerate.

    So, there's that...

    Carry on folks. Just running through.

    :wink:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    Empirical observations in general, any observation concerning the characteristics of objects of the senses are publicly available. These observations are definitely confirmable. If I am with ten people, looking at a red apple with a yellow stripe, I can ask all those people what unusual feature they see on that apple and predictably they will most likely all agree it is the yellow stripe.Janus

    This is a category mistake. Characteristics of objects "in general" are not publicly available. What is publicly available is particular instances or circumstances. And, we each observe these from a different contextual perspective. The generalizations which you refer to are produced from inductive reasoning. There is a problem with inductive reasoning, known as "the problem of induction". This means that your claim that these "observations in general .. are definitely confirmable" is definitely false.

    If I am entertaining a particular thought and I ask you what I am thinking you cannot tell me. That's the difference between private thoughts, feelings and sensations and publicly available objects of the senses. I shouldn't have to point this out to you since it is obviously the case, as attested by everyday experience.Janus

    All that you are showing me is a good example of a category mistake. I really don't think you properly grasp your own proposed division between publicly available objects of the private sensations, thoughts, and feelings.

    You portray "observations" as publicly available, when they need to be classed as "private thoughts, feelings, and sensations". If you would take the time to classify things correctly, according to your own proposed categories, you would see that "observations" ought to be classed as private. Therefore "observations" are only confirmable in the same way that any other private sensations, thoughts, or feelings are confirmable, (i.e. without certainty). And your proposed division between science of the external and knowledge of the internal cannot be supported in the way that you propose.

    If you propose a separation between external objects which are public, and internal feelings, thoughts and sensations which are private, then all observations, (which are thoughts), must be classed as internal, regardless of whether they are observations of external features or of internal features. And, all we have as the means for confirming or validating observations is other internal, private things. Reference to "external objects" does absolutely nothing for validation or confirmation of these observations (which are internal) because all we have to work with is an internal representation of what an "external object" is.

    So a person might produce an internal, private idea as to what an external public object is, and proceed to use this idea in an effort to validate or confirm observations (as other internal private ideas), but this is just an idea of an external object. Therefore the assumed real, external, public objects, if they really exist, do nothing for the validation or confirmation of the ideas. And the idea which you hold, that somehow the real existence of real external, public objects, is making the science of external features somehow more reliable than the science of internal features, is actually the opposite of what is really the case. This idea, this internal feature of you, is actually misleading you. So your assumption about how these real external things serve to confirm your internal thoughts and feelings, as science of the external, is a false premise, which produces within your internal thoughts and feelings a false confidence. And false confidence produces unreliable actions and unreliable science.

    Furthermore, there are numerous other internal dispositions and inflictions which will taint and influence the science of the assumed external public objects, in many other ways. This is why the science of the external is only as reliable or dependable as the science of the internal. If we do not analyze and isolate the way that different internal attitudes affect the science of the external, we will not apprehend the resulting deficiencies of the external science. So it ought to be clear to you, that any science of the external, public objects, can only obtain to a level of reliability provided for, or allowed by, the science of the internal, private thoughts and feelings.

    The public/private distinction breaks down completely when the 'private' part becomes existentially dependent on the public part.creativesoul

    Exactly, in reality, the public is dependent on the private, and we could exchange public and private for external and internal here as well.. That is what Janus denies and refuses to acknowledge. As much as we like to model the private as emergent from the public, thereby making the public prior to the private, "the public" is nothing more than an idea and is therefore fundamentally dependent on the private. In other words, our minds have no way to get out of one's own mind, to take the perspective of the public as prior to the private, despite evidence which indicates that the public ought to be modeled as prior. That is a basic defect of the human mind, we intuitively apprehend that the public must be prior, yet the mind cannot get outside itself to make this intuitive perspective a true perspective. Therefore any such model is defective, because the private produces a model whereby the public is prior to the private which creates it.

    Since it is impossible for the human mind to get outside itself, our only recourse for a true understanding of the nature of reality, is to adopt the perspective that the private is prior to the public, as the true perspective, even though it is counterintuitive. So any proposal which puts the public as prior to the private, must be apprehended as a base falsity, a counterfactual premise, proposed for some purpose other than understanding the true nature of reality.
  • creativesoul
    10.9k
    Exactly, in reality, the public is dependent on the private, and we could exchange public and private for external and internal here as well.. That is what Janus denies and refuses to acknowledge. As much as we like to model the private as emergent from the public, thereby making the public prior to the private, "the public" is nothing more than an idea and is therefore fundamentally dependent on the private.Metaphysician Undercover

    I disagree with both of your approaches for different reasons. I agree with your critique of Janus' position, as it has been stated in this thread.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    This is a category mistake. Characteristics of objects "in general" are not publicly available. What is publicly available is particular instances or circumstances.Metaphysician Undercover

    You are distorting what I've said. Of course each observation of an object of sense is particular, and the details of those observations in general are publicly confirmable. If I say "This car is made of steel" this assertion can be publicly checked and confirmed or disconfirmed. If I say " This thought I'm having is about a car made of steel" this assertion is not publicly checkable and cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed. That, in a nutshell, is all I'm saying.

    If you disagree with what I've just written then say why; I'm prepared to listen. If you don't disagree then we have nothing further to discuss it seems.

    I disagree with both of your approaches for different reasons. I agree with your critique of Janus' position, as it has been stated in this thread.creativesoul

    Same goes for you: if you disagree with what I wrote above, then explain why.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    Of course each observation of an object of sense is particular, and the details of those observations in general are publicly confirmable.Janus

    We'd better get this clear, an observation may be of a particular, if that is what is observed, a particular. But I do not think we should jump to the conclusion that an observation is itself a particular. Observations, I think are better described as relations, and relations require more that one particular. And an observation is more like a relation than a particular. Therefore I really don't think it's correct to call an observation a particular.

    If I say "This car is made of steel" this assertion can be publicly checked and confirmed or disconfirmed. If I say " This thought I'm having is about a car made of steel" this assertion is not publicly checkable and cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed. That, in a nutshell, is all I'm saying.Janus

    You are making my argument easy for me Janus, by demonstrating the faults of your position. Look, to confirm your proposition "this car is made of steel", I need to know what you mean by these words. And of course your thoughts are not publicly available to me, except through your words. I could point out to you that the car might be partially made of steel so we ought not either confirm or deny your proposition. Therefore, in reality, despite what you say, your proposition is not easily confirmed or disconfirmed. But of course, you could proceed to employ a Banno style trick of sophistry and insist that what you meant is that the parts made of steel are made of steel. But then the external public thing would play no role at all in the confirmation. We'd base the confirmation on logic alone.

    On the other hand, your proposition "This thought I'm having is about a car made of steel", is very easy to confirm. This is because it is an undeniable truth that we think about the words we are saying. Even talking in one's sleep involves a strange sort of thinking which occurs when we are sleeping, dreaming. Therefore you cannot say "a car made of steel" without thinking about a car made of steel, and it is confirmed that the thought you were having when you said "a car made of steel" was about a car made of steel.

    From this, it ought to start becoming clear to you that statements about internal things are much easier to confirm, to a far higher degree of certainty than statements about external things. This is why valid deductive logic provides us with a very high degree of certainty. And when our conclusions tend to faulter its because of weakness in the premises, unsoundness in premises which are often inductive conclusions made from observations of external things. So a proposition like "the parts which are made of steel are made of steel" produces a very high degree of certainty, and is easily confirmable, because it does not rely on any external observations, only an internal process of thinking logically.
  • creativesoul
    10.9k
    if you disagree with what I wrote above, then explain whyJanus

    I agreed with a particular critique that Meta offered against your position. Well, to be more precise, I generally agreed with Meta about a problem with your position, as you stated it. That said, the last post you offered had nothing to do with that issue.

    It seems to me that both of you are using unnecessarily complex language coupled with inherently inadequate dichotomies to discuss the subject matter. The last post you offered shows the former nicely. For example, let's look closer at this:

    ...each observation of an object of sense is particularJanus

    The quote directly above serves as prima facie evidence supporting the charge that you're using unnecessarily complex language. Furthermore, such usage serves only to add unnecessary confusion. This could be demonstrated a number of different ways. I'll stick with one, for brevity's sake.

    I'm assuming that a tree counts as "an object of sense". So, an observation of a tree would count as an observation of 'an object of sense'. But what sense does that make?

    I mean, when we talk about one thing being "of" another, there is some sort of relation between the two. When we talk about an object of steel, there are no meaningful issues regarding the sensibility of our language use. We all know what counts as an object of steel. Steel cars, for example. Steel knives. Steel wheels. The same easily understood sensibility holds good for objects of brass, paper, plastic, etc. An object of steel is a something consisting of steel. An object of brass is something consisting of brass. An object of paper is something consisting of paper. But what sense does it make to talk about "objects of sense"?

    A tree does not consist of sense.

    So, in summary, I find such linguistic frameworks to be entirely unhelpful. Meta follows along because he grants too much to start with. Therefore, I disagree with both approaches regarding all that and more. I'll leave it at that though, for what I've said is plenty enough.
  • creativesoul
    10.9k
    If I say "This car is made of steel" this assertion can be publicly checked and confirmed or disconfirmed. If I say " This thought I'm having is about a car made of steel" this assertion is not publicly checkable and cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed.Janus

    If that's all you meant, it's much more helpful - to me anyway - to understand you by saying that rather than the other stuff you said leading up to it. The above is easily understood.

    That's one reason why I disagree with the position you're arguing for.
  • sime
    823
    If "Steel" is accepted as denoting a purely physical concept, then by definition "steel" cannot be semantically reduced to any individual's private thoughts, experiences or understanding of "steel".

    To account for this, if a speaker says "I am thinking about steel", interpret them as saying

    "I am thinking about p-steel" - where 'p-steel' is understood to an indexicial. This implies

    - "p-steel" has direct and immediate referential content for that particular speaker, and for that particular speaker only. This referential content includes both the speaker's perceptions of their external world and their subjectivity. From the perspective of an external onlooker who tries to understand the speaker, this referential content can be identified with the immediate situational causes of the speaker's utterance of "steel" (and hence nothing to do with any mythical 'public' understanding of "Steel").

    - P-steel has no public referential content, except in the sense previously considered.

    - "Steel" has no a priori referential content; Every empirical identification of "steel" is an instance of "p-steel" with respect to a particular observer.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    It seems to me that both of you are using unnecessarily complex language coupled with inherently inadequate dichotomies to discuss the subject matter.creativesoul

    I have been trying to adhere to the dichotomy proposed by Janus in an effort to show that the application of this dichotomy is not useful toward a true understanding of reality. Janus proposed a separation between knowledge of external, public things, like material objects, and knowledge of internal, private things, like thoughts, sensations and feelings. The knowledge of external is called "science" and the knowledge of internal was given a lessor value, like subjective opinion.

    Then Janus proposed that one's knowledge of external things would be more reliable than one's knowledge of internal things, because it is in some way "confirmable". I've argued that Janus has this backward. All knowledge of external things is dependent on principles derived from internal knowledge, and is therefore only as reliable as the knowledge of internal things which supports it. This is commonly expressed in terms of a priori/a posteriori.
  • Janus
    13.2k


    Since I can't see how any of you have addressed anything I've actually said, I have no response to make.
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