• Agent Smith
    8.9k


    By critetion for existence I mean specific conditions something (x) has to meet before one can say x exists.

    The popular criterion is an expanded version of seeing is believing (to be perceived is to exist), but false perception (hallucination) invalidates it.

    As for teleological evolution as guided by Enformy, it certainly is plausible despite the fact that the scientific community's consensus that such a view is common and wrong although understandable. I keep an open mind - science is not a synonym of infallible.

    Picking up where I left off, this thread must necessarily discuss the criterion for existence - the commonsense one used by the man on the Clapham omnibus, the scientific one, the philosophical one, the religious one, any idiosyncratic ones as well.
  • jorndoe
    2.4k
    What is your explanation for existence?Benj96

    If there was a discernible explanation for existence, then that would exist too. There can't be another reason for it all, for existence. And... Nevermind. Self-explanatory, then? An analysis in modal logic can't deduce anything in particular that's (unconditionally) necessary, perhaps other than the basic logic (identity/non-contradiction) we started out with in the first place, which shouldn't be that surprising.

    In absence of anything and everything, there can't be constraints, conservation (physics), prevention, etc, either. Not much to talk about it would seem, not even anything preventing something from coming about.

    OK, well, this pursuit seems kind of odd. Might be more fruitful to instead try categorizing whatever does exist.

    I'll just run with some eclectic sort of realism for now, pick a bit here and there that makes sense. We might talk about some things, like spacetime, objects, processes, ... It's one place to start anyway. Some like to chat about objective versus subjective, i.e. existentially mind-independent versus existentially mind-dependent, but that sometimes gets weird. Chaos versus order? Maybe we could also delineate/demarcate where such stuff makes sense and not. Onwards ontology...
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    By critetion for existence I mean specific conditions something (x) has to meet before one can say x exists.Agent Smith
    My supposition is that 'X exists' factually IFF the sine qua non properties of X are not (a) non-relational, (b) un-conditional, (c) un-changeable and/or (d) in-discernible from (~X). :chin:
  • Mikie
    4.4k
    What is your explanation for existence?Benj96

    Before we answer that question, we should ask about what we’re trying to explain. Namely: what is existence?

    Or you put it in ontological terms: what is being?

    I made an OP long ago on that topic. I refer you to it as a spin-off of your thread here, if you’re interested in exhuming an older thread.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/12109/what-is-being/p1
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    By critetion for existence I mean specific conditions something (x) has to meet before one can say x exists.
    — Agent Smith
    My supposition is that 'X exists' factually IFF the sine qua non properties of X are not (a) non-relational, (b) un-conditional, (c) un-changeable and/or (d) in-discernuble from (~X). :chin:
    180 Proof

    First off, noticeably using negatives. Why?

    Second, you're, to my reckoning, stipulatin' metaphysical conditions (obviously, ontology is metaphysics), but existence, over the past thousand or so years, has gone through an empirical turn as it were and perceptibility has become the gold standard i.e. if it can't be perceived (by the body or its extensions, (scientific) instruments), it does not exist. Perhaps you refer to the "sine qua non" properties of perceived objects, however, quite unfortunately, false that if it can be perceived, it exists (re false perceptions aka hallucinations which as far as I can tell fulfill all your listed conditions).
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    First off, noticeably using negatives. Why?Agent Smith
    I find those "negatives" more specifiable (and irrefutable) than the alternative. IIRC, I've shared my negative ontology with you (& Mr. Enformy) on more than one occasion. :smile:

    Second, you're, to my reckoning, stipulatin' metaphysical conditions (obviously, ontology is metaphysics), but existence, over the past thousand or so years, has gone through an empirical...
    Empiricism pertains to epistemology, not ontology; and had the OP raised the question of 'epistemic criteria', my first thought would have been 'X exists' insofar as X-predicates are consistent with model-dependent realism, etc.
  • T Clark
    10.7k
    What is your explanation for existence? Why it occurred, what purpose or meaning it may or may not have? What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?Benj96

    I don't see ontology as an explanation of existence, it's a description of the nature of existence, reality. It's a metaphysical concept. I've given my lectures on metaphysics before. At some level, we all have the same view of the nature of reality, the same ontology. The regular old day to day nature of reality we all experience all the time. Everyday reality. Maybe the right name is realism, I'm not sure. This reality is full of apples, Volvos, femurs, tree frogs, salt water, Cheetos, and Australia. Forgot cucumbers. Most people don't question whether or not their children are real or an illusion created by a Cartesian demon on a regular basis. Most people don't question whether their coffee is real or only the reflection of an inexpressible noumena.

    It's only when we turn to philosophy that there is any mystery to ontology. I think we all pick them one based on our personality and temperament. I also think we apply different metaphysics and epistemology in different situations and at different times.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    :ok:

    All that exists is the physical, is this the materialist's thesis? Sounds very ontological. I also find epistemological this and epistemological that to be unhelpful - everything is limited epistemologically, oui?
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    Someone should say something about the distinction between 'being', 'existence' and 'reality'. They're casually regarded as synonymous, but they're actually not.

    I'm not schooled in Heidegger, but I thought I'd drop this excerpt in as it is at least relevant:

    Heidegger’s task is precisely to show that there is a meaningful concept of being. “We understand the ‘is’ we use in speaking,” he claims, “although we do not comprehend it conceptually.” Therefore, Heidegger asks: Can being then be thought? We can think of beings: a table, my desk, the pencil with which I am writing, the school building, a heavy storm in the mountains . . . but being? If the being whose meaning Heidegger seeks seems so elusive, almost like no-thing, it is because it is not an entity. It is not something; it is not *a* being. “Being is essentially different from a being, from beings.” The “ontological difference,” the distinction between being (das Sein) and beings (das Seiende), is fundamental for Heidegger. The forgetfulness of being that, according to him, occurs in the course of Western philosophy amounts to the oblivion of this distinction.

    This resembles the musings of Tillich on the non-existence of God - that God is 'beyond existence', therefore not *a* being:

    Existence refers to what is finite and fallen and cut of from its true being. (Ex- means 'apart from', 'ist' to be, to stand). Within the finite realm issues of conflict between, for example, autonomy (Greek: 'autos' - self, 'nomos' - law) and heteronomy (Greek: 'heteros' - other, 'nomos' - law) abound (there are also conflicts between the formal/emotional and static/dynamic). Resolution of these conflicts lies in the essential realm (the Ground of Meaning/the Ground of Being) which humans are cut off from yet also dependent upon ('In existence man is that finite being who is aware both of his belonging to and separation from the infinite' Therefore existence is estrangement.

    ...What Tillich is seeking to lead us to is an understanding of the 'God above God'. ... the Ground of Being (God) must be separate from the finite realm (which is a mixture of being and non-being) and [so] God cannot be *a* being. God must be beyond the finite realm. Anything brought from essence into existence is always going to be corrupted by ambiguity and our own finitude. Thus statements about God must always be symbolic (except the statement 'God is the Ground of Being'). Although we may claim to know God (the Infinite) we cannot. The moment God is brought from essence into existence God is corrupted by finitude and our limited understanding. In this realm we can never fully grasp (or speak about) who God really is. The infinite cannot remain infinite in the finite realm. That this rings true can be seen when we realize there are a multitude of different understandings of God within the Christian faith alone. They cannot all be completely true so there must exist a 'pure' understanding of God (essence) that each of these are speaking about (or glimpsing aspects of)...."
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    Too scattered, I can't follow replies like that.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Too scattered, I can't follow replies like that.180 Proof

    Apologies, but I did address the key points to my reckoning. Epistemology fails as a distinctive feature, because at the end of the day, one realizes, it's like cheese, found in every philosophical pizza.

    Materialism is an ontological claim, I don't even know how that's possible given the above, that all that exists is physical and physical means perceptible (by the senses). As I pointed out perception is unreliable (re Descartes?).
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    As I pointed out perception is unreliable (re Descartes?).Agent Smith
    Freddy points out, paraphrasing both the Epicureans and Stoics (IIRC), that 'the senses don't lie, it's our interpretations of the senses which introduce lies into our perceptions.'

    Materialism is an ontological claim...
    A paradigm (or interpretation), not a "claim". In modern terms, it's epistemological rather than ontological. Material is synonymous with embodied. I prefer to use physical to differentiate scientifically modelled material from raw material (though, yeah, the terms are used interchangeably). I think it's less overdetermining to conceive of materialism as 'nature is primarily, not ultimately, material' or 'materiality is nature's primary, not ultimate, property'. What is the 'ultimate property'? Whatever 'ultimate' is, it's still purely speculative – I fail to see how 'the ultimate' matters (no pun intended) to proximate beings (e.g. humans living and reasoning). Anyway, this conception I derive from classical atomism with a focus on void over atoms.

    ... all that exists is physical ...
    This utterance is unwarranted, purely speculative and, by my interpretation (above), incoherent.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k


    :up: It is said, as per some research, that the mind modulates the senses - kinda gives it some finishing touches before presenting the sense data to consciousness. Does the locus of the problem matter? It seems that whether the senses are faulty or the mind is, the end result is the same - we get a false picture of reality, scuppering the whole project of figuring what is real. I'm surprised that Nietzsche was able to rule out the senses as possibly error-prone. I don't see how in a world that had no treatment of syphilis, he could be so sure about neurological processes, a tough nut to crack even with modern cutting-edge science.

    Yep, I would say science is the be-all-and-end-all when it comes materialism/physicalism. This is what I was driving at - empiricism's domination of metaphysics (nonverifiable, unreal). I suppose as you said, reality is primarily physical.
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    Correction: nature is primarily material, secondarily physical. A metaphysical interpretation, no,
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Splitting hairs has its plus points. Your picture of reality has a higher resolution than mine, mon ami.
  • Benj96
    1.5k
    . This can lead to optimization and bias of these organic particles which informs them to act in certain ways, like if a substance is hard to dilute, it struggles to be diluted, the same as organic material start to struggle to not be pulled apart. Over the course of enough time, such complex chemical systems can evolve to larger scale and enough self-programming bias makes the material promote itself to not be "diluted". It then starts to actively work against non-existence/death and form bonds and larger structures like cells in order to optimize existenceChristoffer

    I love this analogy, or rather "plausible explanation". Basically natural selection not being restricted to just life arbitrarily but instead being a principle that applies from the get go of existence.

    It then starts to actively work against non-existence/death and form bonds and larger structures like cells in order to optimize existence.Christoffer

    One critque however, I disagree that "working together" in becoming larger more complex systems is the only choice in natural selections cards to maintain continuity/survival of an existant.

    Becoming bigger, more singular and more sophisticated does work. However staying small and multiplitous also works.

    This other bias (lack of cooperation/multicellularity) is demonstrated by "static products of evolution." That is to say organisms that have remained stable and relatively unchanged for many millions of years while others have changed significantly in the same time frame.

    For example viruses, bacteria, archaea and even larger organisms: crocodiles, turtles etc have changed little in their recognisable structure over many eons while others have become unrecognisable. Why is that?

    I think it is down to the nature of selective pressures in evolution.

    If pressures to adapt are a spectrum from a high state of pressure (rapidly changing conditions/high amounts of stress) at one end and consistent conditions/low amounts of survival stressors on the other, those organisms that experience the brunt of threat will change or adapt the most whine those that exist in the stagnant/static or stable zone will settle into a long-term niche without much change.

    In summary that seems to indicate that the most complex organisms are those that faced the most challenges in existence. While uncomplex unchanging organisms are those thats design has been favoured for its indestructiblility.

    If humans are considered the most sophisticated organisms, then we have had a target on our back for the duration of our evolution. Because we are the lineage that required the most effort to stay alive.
  • Benj96
    1.5k
    It is also presumptuous to assert that the ideas of self-sufficiency and other- dependence are coherent outside the context of human thought and understanding.Janus

    Not sure if it is presumptuous. All physical phenomena and occurrences are fundamentally presumptions by humans - in that "presumption" is a behaviour of sentient/conscious beings that can "presume".

    That doesn't mean presumptions are incorrect. If we take scientific method as a source of proof of presumptions - then some presumptions (theories, hypotheses etc) have been proven to exist regardless of individual/personal subjective experience.

    In that case some presumptions are facts and others are yet-to-be-proven beliefs.
  • Christoffer
    1.4k
    I love this analogy, or rather "plausible explanation". Basically natural selection not being restricted to just life arbitrarily but instead being a principle that applies from the get go of existence.Benj96

    Some of this process has already been proven in labs where organic material were "zapped" with electricity to kickstart a process that would lead to more complex structures. So one component that might be missing is that there has to be some kind of burst of energy that kickstarts the process. And since the primordial soup also had a lot of storms and lightning, that wouldn't be something out of the realm of possibility, instead quite probable.

    One critque however, I disagree that "working together" in becoming larger more complex systems is the only choice in natural selections cards to maintain continuity/survival of an existant.

    Becoming bigger, more singular and more sophisticated does work. However staying small and multiplitous also works.
    Benj96

    Yes, but even if amoebas, viruses and bacteria are small, they often cluster to stay alive, meaning they don't form a singular species, they act in a way that their optimal existence is within clusters of many. A form of "legion" entity. Think about our gut bacteria, their function within us acts as a singular organ in harmony with out other organs. We can lose and add bacteria, but their existence depends on their function as a group.

    This other bias (lack of cooperation/multicellularity) is demonstrated by "static products of evolution." That is to say organisms that have remained stable and relatively unchanged for many millions of years while others have changed significantly in the same time frame.Benj96

    Static existence could be about the lack of evolutionary necessity, meaning, they might never had the necessity to evolve due to already being in harmony with the environment. It is possible that humanity has changed their course of evolution now that we've changed so much of the world. And therefor their first evolutionary steps away from how they were will now start to take form.

    For example viruses, bacteria, archaeaBenj96

    These do however change, but because of their size, there are less variations visible to us, but just think of the different variations of Covid-19, each variant is an evolutionary step, or rather, the largest step was Omikron, an entire different subset from the original virus that is now pretty much extinct. Just like there are no Neanderthals left in the world.

    If pressures to adapt are a spectrum from a high state of pressure (rapidly changing conditions/high amounts of stress) at one end and consistent conditions/low amounts of survival stressors on the other, those organisms that experience the brunt of threat will change or adapt the most whine those that exist in the stagnant/static or stable zone will settle into a long-term niche without much change.Benj96

    "From what I know in biology repetition is rather the key to evolutionary steps. High pressure acts differently on different species, some die off directly with the slightest change, without getting to the point of evolving past the change. It would be like if the world suddenly just had a quarter of oxygen within the atmosphere, we would probably die faster than we have the chance to adapt. Longer spans of change will often change everyone. Even if we can rule a turtle today to be the same as millions of years ago, they will still have small evolutionary changes that has aligned with the rest of the world.

    Size is a good point for this. Millions of years ago there were a lot more oxygen in the world. That led to larger beings. Since then the level of oxygen has declined slowly and due to that, species who are pretty much identical to their ancient relatives have reduced in size while keeping most of their biological essence intact. That's an example of a very slow evolutionary change.

    Evolution most likely occur through repetition, a norm changes into something new that then repeats itself as a new norm and that changes any species to find equilibrium in that area while the most sensitive ones die off since they cannot handle even the slightest evolutionary stress.

    If humans are considered the most sophisticated organisms, then we have had a target on our back for the duration of our evolution. Because we are the lineage that required the most effort to stay alive.Benj96

    Actually, evolutionary, we are masters of survival. We've evolved into adaptable beings that aren't sensitive to much of the changing environment. We do, however, have evolutionary differences like pigmentation, length etc. that is an effect of the environmental norms we existed within over the course of history.

    Some have concluded that our modern life has detached ourselves from evolution, we don't need it anymore since we can adapt through pure will. While some of that is true, we are in fact still evolving according to our environment and if nothing kills us off we will eventually change into something fuzed with how we use technology. That depends on if technology reaches a function that is universal. But if we solve immortality, we would probably never change, which would be the true end of human evolution other than the change we experience throughout one life.

    It's important to remember that our consciousness is most likely just an evolutionary step. Just like each species has their own way of hunting, staying away from danger etc. we evolved a complex system to hunt, stay out of danger and collaborate in packs. The fortunate (or unfortunate for some people) outcome of this is that the system grew so complex that we formed a self-awareness that isn't just good for spotting danger and collaborate in hunts, but to adapt in the environment. We evolved to conceptualize a hunt, and therefor we could conceptualize other things. Why does that plant look like it does? Can we create that warm thing that burns so we don't freeze during the night, it seems to scare away dangerous animals, good, also it seems to keep our food good for us longer if we burn it.

    And from there we form the history of our evolution of consciousness. At the moment, there are a lot of research into psychedelics and the history of it. It seems that way more cultures used psychedelics than previously thought. It might very well be that the stories, mythologies and wondrous stories that were invented and later turned into religions has their roots in such psychedelic trips. We basically started out trying to conceptualize the world, then introduced psychedelics that pushed our minds further and pushed us to create more, to be creative in a search for what is good in life. Much like we gravitate towards what is good for us physically, we gravitate towards the aesthetically pleasing and these things could very well be how we started out with our appreciation for art and music.

    My ideas forms out of what is most logically the formation of us as animals, not detached but exactly like everything else, which means our consciousness is part of the wild evolutionary changes that animals can have in nature. Just like a really long neck on a giraff looks wild in evolutionary terms, it's logical and so should we consider our consciousness.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    671
    I don't have a developed ontology. I feel like I'm doomed to remain in this state. I recall when I first got more interested in the topic, and read the Routledge guide to metaphysics, thinking the counter arguments against each view, on each topic, seemed pretty damning, leaving little untouched.

    I am willing to say the world operates logically, without contradiction. Knowledge is impossible otherwise and nature appears to follow rules that can be represented by mathematics.

    If I had to pick an ontology that seems most enticing it would be those inspired by Boehme and Hegel, where existence comes about through logical necessity, as the result of the resolution of contradictions (dialectical unfolding). I'm interested in attempts to formalize this (e.g. Lawvere with dialectical, the unity of opposites/ adjoint modalities, and how this might be paired with categorical quantum foundations), but they're a bit over my head in many cases.

    I have an intuition that the idea of discrete objects that are the sum of their parts is deeply flawed, an illusion foisted on us by how evolution shaped our sensory systems and cognitive capabilities. The constituent parts of things seem to be impossible to describe without the whole (i.e., with fundemental "particles", the field is essential and an object cannot be understood as discrete bits). This would suggest an ontology somewhat similar to mathematical formalism, a thing "is what it does," it is defined by its relations. These relationships can and do change over time, leading to new rules of interactions (this implies some sort of "hard" emergence but since everything is relational, I don't think this runs into the problems hard emergence faces when it considers wholes as composed of discrete "bits."

    I'm also highly skeptical of identity as anything other than a pragmatic definition, and embrace a circular, fallibalist, "the truth is the whole," epistemology.

    As to things existing sans consciousness, I do believe things exist that are not conscious, and that an external world accessible by multiple agents exists. However, I'm not sure if things existing "of themselves," is a coherent notion, e.g. that a universe of just two identical glass spheres floating in space can exist. If existence is defined relationally, then it is unclear which relationships can meaningfully exist sans agents.

    I'm a physicalists vis-á-vis minds, i.e. brains interacting with bodies and the enviornment gives rise to consciousness, but more agnostic about the ultimate origins of consciousness. Frankly, I don't think any current explanations come close to explaining why certain patterns of information flow/physical interactions should give rise to first person experience while most do not, and most solutions either simply appeal to mysterious "complexity," or attempt to dodge the question in various ways. Given the proliferation of different theories, I think it's fair to say that the study of the origins of consciousness is a field in crisis, not one on the cusp of wrapping things up. But I have no reason to think consciousness is not a natural phenomenon, so I go back and forth on this.
  • Benj96
    1.5k
    But if we solve immortality,Christoffer

    Is immortality a solution or something detrimental? Immortality would be the end of bearing child on a planet of finite resources, not to mention the creeping in of boredom, impairment of the economy, inheritance, positive/advantageous evolutionary mutations etc.

    Some have concluded that our modern life has detached ourselves from evolution, we don't need it anymore since we can adapt through pure will.Christoffer

    I'm not sure we are ever free of evolution. So long as we reproduce, changes/diversity will occur. Technology may release us from certain pressures forcing us to rely on it ever more. For example prescription glasses: before, people with bad eyesight would die because they didn't see the tiger standing in front of them, now prescriptions offset the pressure to have gold eyesight and thus those faulty genes are passed onto children. Technology opposes this decline km our visual acuity by compensating it, maybe it will eventually restore full vision to the blind or enhance vision in general. But then it means we are dependent on our tech for survival.

    It doesn't mean evolution stops it just means that it has entered the phase of being bio-technological in nature.

    , it's logical and so should we consider our consciousness.Christoffer

    I agree that our consciousness is likely the product of neccesity. How it changes in the future is difficult to predict, but its ability to create and utilise tools means the number of sensations and experiences possible for sentient beings like ourselves is sure to increase in the future - virtual reality, artificial body parts, mind uploads etc. Tech will likely be the kect frontier of sentient evolution, enabling us to expand and conquer space (something organic bodies did not evolve to do).

    The imagination and predictive abilities of sci-fi have repeatedly demonstrated that our imagination is always the step just beyond what is currently possible. And many sci-fi things if the 70s/80s/90s are now real existants.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    671
    B07R46CXQM.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SX500_.jpg

    Oh, and I'm definitely not an eternalist. I was almost won over by the sheer weight of popular science writers who frame externalism as a "sure thing," but the above convinced me a lot of the arguments in favor of externalism are based on misunderstandings.

    Generally, these fall into two big groups. First, misunderstandings of relativity and assumptions that it precludes local becoming, based on misunderstanding what proper time is in Minkoski space-time. Second, the influence of Russel's work on the subject, which itself is heavily influenced by his understanding of Cantor's work on continuous lines. More importantly, he misses Aristotle's perfect refutation of Zeno's Arrow (i.e. an arrow is never moving in any frozen instant of its flight and so movement is an illusion). This is a fallacy of composition. Time is the dimension across which change occurs; it cannot exist "in a moment" but is emergent from change. Thus, visualizing space-time as a "block" is fraught because time isn't a dimension you can move back and forth in, nor something that can "flow," it is simply the dimension across which local change occurs.

    I am normally pretty open to multiple theories and understand at least why they are popular, but the argument that change is illusory strikes me as ridiculous and I don't see how it became mainstream.

    Anyhow, the book is excellent even if you don't accept its argument. Full primer on the philosophy of time and has an excellent summation of the differences between Newton and Liebnitz' philosophy of physics and how they influence views today. Made me realize I have a lot more affinity with Liebnitz/ Aristotle than Newton / Plato.

    These Springer Frontiers books are generally fantastic. They're also academic publications, so horrendously expensive if you don't have a school membership. But, that's what LibGen is for, although I wish you could tip the authors.
  • Benj96
    1.5k
    It's only when we turn to philosophy that there is any mystery to ontology.T Clark

    I agree that reality/existence in day to day living can be taken at face value. This is the nature of culture, common ideation and the interpersonal utility of language.

    It's surface level - vague, imprecise, unquestioned, unassumed and therefore useful in a day to day context.

    However existence is not just surface level. It stems from the furthest/most distant origins. The most primitive, the beginning of all things. All encompassing.

    Trying to apply specificity to a macroscopic scale is much more difficult then applying vaguery to the everyday microscopic scale.

    Thus, big questions on existence elude us. We are not unanimous regarding it. Tiny questions of existence on the other hand - like the taste of coffee and its role in our daily lives, is less elusive, more concrete.

    This is the inherent polarity of existence - it is both the most simplez straightforward and intuitive thing, and the most mysterious, simultaneously.

    Philosophy tackles the complex aspect. Or perhaps, makes the simple convoluted.
  • Benj96
    1.5k
    Time is the dimension across which change occurs; it cannot exist "in a moment" but is emergent from change.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I agree. Time does not have relevance to a single moment - where time doesn't occur. Otherwise it wouldnt be a specific moment.

    It's worth noting that perceiving time requires memory/storage of and active reference to previous information. It's impossible to perceive the passage of time without a sense of past (memory).

    Therefore it seems time is intrinsically linked to conciousness.

    Further proof is such is the lack of simulataneity in the universe. Locations are separated by gravity, space and time. Information requires time to traverse the distance between location A and B regardless of how close they may be.

    So anything that occurs at different locations can never be perceived at the exact same moment that they occurred.
    Just as when we see a supernova in the sky, it likely happened a number of light-years ago but we perceive it to occur during the present moment of observation
  • Christoffer
    1.4k
    Is immortality a solution or something detrimental? Immortality would be the end of bearing child on a planet of finite resources, not to mention the creeping in of boredom, impairment of the economy, inheritance, positive/advantageous evolutionary mutations etc.Benj96

    I think it is without positive or negative value, it only is. We live our lives today in a vastly different way than people did a thousand years ago. Immortality would fundamentally change our culture. Just the concept of death, reproduction and sex is a fundamental part of how our culture looks, almost everything in our culture has some influence from it because it's a fundamental part of our human experience. So a world in which we are immortal would fundamentally change our culture, our art, our experience of knowledge. However, one evolutionary change might happen, a change to our brain in order to process more memory. But that could happen with normal cellular change in an individual over the course of thousands of years.

    I'm not sure we are ever free of evolution. So long as we reproduce, changes/diversity will occur.Benj96

    Yes, we are never free from it, but it will not happen in the same way as the rest of nature. It would be less pronounced or according to our technological dependence. Which has somewhat already happen with rudimental tools and ways of living, like farming.

    The concept of us being "free from evolution" comes more from the idea that we are free of the bonds of evolution. We don't need to evolve wings to fly, we build a machine to fly and so on. It's more a comment on the state of technology as a major part of our lives.

    I agree that our consciousness is likely the product of neccesity. How it changes in the future is difficult to predict, but its ability to create and utilise tools means the number of sensations and experiences possible for sentient beings like ourselves is sure to increase in the future - virtual reality, artificial body parts, mind uploads etc. Tech will likely be the kect frontier of sentient evolution, enabling us to expand and conquer space (something organic bodies did not evolve to do).Benj96

    We are already expanding our consciousness with technology, like me writing here on the forum. It's a communication over distance that has reshaped parts of how we think about the world. Just like a hammer, in our minds, becomes an extension of our arm, i.e our brain expands tools as mental body parts when we use them (this has been verified in tests), communicating directly with text forms a mental language that is different from how people communicated before and it is actively changing how we use our consciousness.

    If technology evolves into a symbiosis with us, like if we start to augment our consciousness with AI to expand the capabilities that we find hard to do in our mind, like complex advanced math, but the experience is like as if we just "thought it through", then we will reshape the foundation of our consciousness in ways we don't yet know how they will play out.

    The imagination and predictive abilities of sci-fi have repeatedly demonstrated that our imagination is always the step just beyond what is currently possible. And many sci-fi things if the 70s/80s/90s are now real existants.Benj96

    I think the most interesting thing about sci-fi is that some sci-fi has informed technological development to realize what was seen or read about in sci-fi, instead of it predicting it to come true. Some sci-fi writers have produced concepts that scientists were inspired by and instead of it being a normal consequence of scientific development and technological advances, sci-fi has instead informed what we are inventing.

    So we cannot really calculate what came first, the artists visions or the scientist and engineers inventions. Much like we speculate on how people with different minds, like ADHD, Asbergers, etc. having an evolutionary role in packs of humans, being the ones who dare to view beyond the mountains, to step back and evaluate where others just continue as before, these people were the artists and shamans, the explorers and path finders. They had anti-social tendencies because that led them to expand their minds into the world and then report back to the group of people who were too rigid into standards of living that no one dared to explore for new food or places to go.

    This could be the foundation for how stories and art sometimes influence people to realize something from it rather than stories and art being descriptions of reality as it is.

    Art, therefore, is in my opinion just as fundamental as philosophy, science and technology for the advancement of humanity.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    Is immortality a solution or something detrimental?Benj96

    My belief is that what has been passed down as 'immortality' or 'eternal life' does not actually mean perpetual embodied existence or living forever in physical form but rather in realising a state of being which transcends physical existence. (There are exceptions, for example in Taoist and various esoteric schools there are teachings of actual embodied immortality but I think they're the exception. I'm also highly dubious of the Christian dogma of the resurrection of the physical body.)

    Of course, such a state is impossible to imagine or conceptualise, but this is part of the point! The ordinary being is so attached to his/her physical form that they cannot conceive of anything beyond it, so can only conceive of the immortal in terms of a continuation of their normal state of existence for an endless duration - which would indeed be hellish. Instead there is another dimension to existence, the timeless and deathless, entry into which is what 'the deathless' actually means (see for example this Buddhist text.)

    Time is the dimension across which change occurs; it cannot exist "in a moment" but is emergent from change.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I'm interested in the sense in which time itself must be grounded in the perception of duration. See this example which I have mentioned previously:

    The problem of including the observer in our description of physical reality arises most insistently when it comes to the subject of quantum cosmology - the application of quantum mechanics to the universe as a whole - because, by definition, 'the universe' must include any observers. Andrei Linde has given a deep reason for why observers enter into quantum cosmology in a fundamental way. It has to do with the nature of time. The passage of time is not absolute; it always involves a change of one physical system relative to another, for example, how many times the hands of the clock go around relative to the rotation of the Earth. When it comes to the Universe as a whole, time loses its meaning, for there is nothing else relative to which the universe may be said to change. This 'vanishing' of time for the entire universe becomes very explicit in quantum cosmology, where the time variable simply drops out of the quantum description. It may readily be restored by considering the Universe to be separated into two subsystems: an observer with a clock, and the rest of the Universe. So the observer plays an absolutely crucial role in this respect. Linde expresses it graphically: 'thus we see that without introducing an observer, we have a dead universe, which does not evolve in time', and, 'we are together, the Universe and us. The moment you say the Universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of that. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness...in the absence of observers, our universe is dead'. — Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life, p 271

    This implies that time enters the picture, so to speak, with the observer - which also lines up with Kant's view on time.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    It is also presumptuous to assert that the ideas of self-sufficiency and other- dependence are coherent outside the context of human thought and understanding. — Janus


    Not sure if it is presumptuous. All physical phenomena and occurrences are fundamentally presumptions by humans - in that "presumption" is a behaviour of sentient/conscious beings that can "presume".

    That doesn't mean presumptions are incorrect. If we take scientific method as a source of proof of presumptions - then some presumptions (theories, hypotheses etc) have been proven to exist regardless of individual/personal subjective experience.

    In that case some presumptions are facts and others are yet-to-be-proven beliefs.
    Benj96

    You seem to be arguing that presumptions are not presumptuous if they are consistent with and coherent within our general set of presumptions which constitutes our general understanding of "all physical phenomena and occurrences", and, if so, I agree.

    The presumptuous move is to assert the coherence of our presumptions outside of that context. So, it is not a matter of "correct or incorrect" except within the familiar world which is constituted by our common set of presumptions.
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    Picking up where I left off, this thread must necessarily discuss the criterion for existence - the commonsense one used by the man on the Clapham omnibus, the scientific one, the philosophical one, the religious one, any idiosyncratic ones as well.Agent Smith
    The commonsense definition for existence is indeed that of the common man (and common animals), who believe only what they can see. But philosophers are not limited to the physical senses to understand the world. Instead, where their senses fail to see, they infer the invisible links of geometry. So they turn to metaphors (analogies to concrete things) in order to communicate their idiosyncratic understanding of the unseen world. That's why I call Reason : "the sixth sense", which is uncommon even among human animals.

    Pragmatic Scientists are also sometimes forced to rely on imaginary metaphors to fill-in the blanks of understanding. For example, Virtual Particles have never been seen via telescopes or microscopes, because they are imaginary. But such non-things would not make sense to the commonsense of the common man. Moreover, the un-common-sense of Ontology will never put virtual food in the bowl for your commonsense dog. :joke:
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    That's why I call Reason : "the sixth sense", which is uncommon even among human animals.Gnomon

    The point about the understanding of reason in contemporary culture is that it tends to be strictly constrained by empiricism, meaning in effect that it must always be ultimately validated by experiential, third-person evidence - meaning, in effect, sensory experience enhanced through instruments and extrapolated mathematically. So when most people say 'reason' in effect they mean 'scientific reason' which operates within constraints that are rarely made the object of explicit awareness. Philosophers (or some philosophers) are well aware of this.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    All that we can reason about in ways that seem to make sense are subjects that are amenable to binary thinking: some examples are cause and effect, motivations and action, form and matter, substance and attribute, self and other, necessary and contingent, hot and cold, dark and light and so on for countless other pairs. Our reasoning is not restricted to science, unless 'scinece' is taken in its broader, original sense.

    Things are known only in the reasoned sense if there be identified a knower and an object known. If you include the relation between the knower and the known, then we really have a triune process as Gurdjieff, Hegel and Peirce, in their different ways, have indicated. But another way to think about it is that the process itself becomes another thing known by knowers.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    If you include the relation between the knower and the known, then we really have a triune process as Gurdjieff, Hegel and Peirce, in their different ways, have indicated.Janus

    :100: But you'd hardly cast them as representative of our culture at large.
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