• Fire Ologist
    493
    It very much seems you cannot since there's nothing that says to continue while it's a pumpkin, but not beyond, where it ceases to be pumpkin. And certainly nothing to say that 'pumpkin' is what matters in the first place.noAxioms

    You couldn’t give the example of how a pumpkin is not a distinct object if there were no distinct objects. You certainly couldn’t covey such a thought to me from your mind if you didn’t place an object, like a pumpkin, translated as “pumpkin” into language, but otherwise able to be thrown in the direction of my head, in between us. You could have said “gourd” or “cheese sandwich” but you made reference to a distinct thing instead.


    You don't get any discrete boundaries if you exclude any reference to minds.
    We seem to be in agreement then.
    noAxioms
    That contradicts this:
    All distinctions are ideal, and not physical, aren't they?
    — Metaphysician Undercover
    Only to an idealist.
    noAxioms

    Unless you, like me think, some distinctions are ideal, and others are physical.

    You just want an example of a physical distinction, but one separate from words. And you want me to use words here on this forum to demonstrate it.

    How about this word as a physical example of a physical object that has no words attached to it: hgtiigumsolee. There an object of light and dark distinct from everything else you read. Here are two distinct examples of an object defining itself before your very eyes, out in the world that has no words to it, something you cannot even conceotualize but here it comes again twice: hgtiigumsolee. hgtiigumsolee

    Idealize that. It’s only particular. Like a pumpkin might be.

    You are trying to define an object separately from the other components of the same object, like trying to define a pizza without any dough, or without any sauce or cheese.
    — Fire Ologist
    Per your weird assignment of terms, it would be an attempt at a pizza with dough but without the cheese and sauce, except that the dough seems undefined without sauce on it.
    noAxioms

    But dough, then, like the whole pizza, becomes the whole object, with its own extension, idealization, and language. Just as you just used language to distinguish your weird assignment from my weird assignment (and mine was more weird.)

    You can’t say that extension (which is a concept) without putting it in something extended (like dough). The ideal and the extended are of the same distinction.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    What is pragmatic depends on how a particular animal lives its life.

    Yes, which is determined by the way the world is and the nature of the animal. No tiger becomes a vegetarian. Any tiger stuck in the desert likely dies without reproducing. No ant foments revolutions. The sheep distinguishes "wolf" for a reason. Humans are more self-determining than beasts, but they are not, by nature, completely self-determining.

    So what determines the pragmatic is, to some extent, already given, and this explains why different peoples make largely the same sorts of distinctions despite having developed their languages and cultures largely in isolation.

    I'm not sure what the counter point here is supposed to be since you have once again posed your objections entirely in terms of potency and not given any examples of actual occurrences. Everything is "could, "can," "is possible," or "if." But can you think of one culture that doesn't distinguish types of animal or doesn't use terms for colors but rather blends color and shape, color and size, etc.?

    I don't know of one. If they ever existed, they have either gone extinct or at the very least occupy a marginal position in terms of world languages.

    But my point is exactly this, which languages, norms, and distinctions become dominant is not something determined by "no reason at all," or simply because "people choose them." There is a causal chain driving language evolution, history, human distinctions, etc. Of human choice was completely free of "how to world is," then distinctions should look essentially random, since they are conditioned by nothing. If they are conditioned by "pragmatic" concerns, then it would seem that such concerns are themselves determined by "how the world is" and "how people are."


    Now if you have a libertarian view where human choices are not determined by the world—are essentially free from causality—then obviously that's where our disagreement lies. But if human choices are "not caused" then it would seem hard to me to explain why they appear to be.

    But if you acknowledge that human choices do have causes, then I'm not really sure what the objection is supposed to be. Is the claim that the properties of objects don't play a determinant role in distinctions? That what is considered "good" has nothing to do with either the properties of things or human nature?

    I've long had the suspicion that appeals to "pragmatism" that also deny any objective reality or determinateness to "what is considered good," are in danger of vicious circularity. Everything ends up malleable, determined man's practical concerns, but then the Good itself, the target is practical reason, turns out to also be something that is "pragmatically" determined? Then everything seems to be "pragmatics" all the way down, in which case distinctions and choices should be arbitrary. But they don't appear to be.
  • noAxioms
    1.5k
    But you seem to be leaning towards an idealist view yourself. Can you say why you're not?Wayfarer
    To re-quote your Pinter snippet:
    The atoms of a teacup do not collude together to form a teacup: The object is a teacup because it is constituted that way from a perspective outside of itself. — Mind and the Cosmic Order, Charles Pinter
    That sounds somewhat like idealism as well and I totally agree with it. Something (humans, whatever) finds pragmatic utility in the grouping of a subset of matter into a named subset, which is what makes an object out of that subset. That's the similarity with idealism. But if I am correct, idealism stops there. Mind does not supervene on anything. There's no external reality, especially a reality lacking in names and other concepts to group it all intelligibly. There is only 'cup', and no cup.
    Idealism leads to solipsism. Intellects sharing categorization via language does not.

    M-U would word it differently I imagine.


    because of change, the still object referenced in the “moon” is really an ideal moon, because the actual moon isn’t a still object.Fire Ologist
    I personally never think of the moon as a 'still', unchanging ideal. Seeing its shadow come right at me really drove home that point. Yes, like all things designated as 'objects', they change and will eventually no longer be that object, if only by the lack of something to so name it.

    It very much seems you cannot since there's nothing that says to continue while it's a pumpkin, but not beyond, where it ceases to be pumpkin. And certainly nothing to say that 'pumpkin' is what matters in the first place.
    — noAxioms

    You couldn’t give the example of how a pumpkin is not a distinct object if there were no distinct objects. You certainly couldn’t covey such a thought to me from your mind if you didn’t place an object, like a pumpkin, translated as “pumpkin” into language, but otherwise able to be thrown in the direction of my head, in between us. You could have said “gourd” or “cheese sandwich” but you made reference to a distinct thing instead.
    Fire Ologist
    Unless you, like me think, some distinctions are ideal, and others are physical.
    Some distinctions are indeed physical. Object boundaries don't seem to be one of them.

    hgtiigumsolee
    I was envisioning something more like 'this'. Making up a word with no reference is running away from the issue of a reference without a word.
  • Apustimelogist
    425
    and the nature of the animal.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Yes, so you have lots of animals engaging with the same world. This doesn't really count for animals though because they aren't using words.

    The sheep distinguishing a "wolf" is not part of this conceptual thing because it doesn't have a word for it, it is just making distinctions in the world. It can make any number of distinctions in line with its capabilities that are completely degenerate and redundant, so there is in no sense a fixed set of bounded distinctions a sheep can make. You can get it to pay attention to some features or to others. It will react to the presence of a wolf. It will also react if it learns that certain features of a wolf imply different things. It doesn't need to put things into labelled boxes to do this.

    why different peoples make largely the same sorts of distinctions despite having developed their languages and cultures largely in isolation.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Because they are the same animal that behaves in the similar ways and interacts with the environment in similar ways.

    But can you think of one culture that doesn't distinguish types of animal or doesn't use terms for colors but rather blends color and shape, color and size, etc.?Count Timothy von Icarus

    You miss my point. My point is that we are always capable of making these distinctions.

    And in fact, itis actually relatively well documentes that there are some cultures that use very different colour categories (e.g. tribes that distinguish only about 3 color categories). Even relatively similar cultures can have different categories. But even if cultures have different categories, it is extremely likely we all have the same color distinction capabilities. So in fact, our ability to tell apart colors greatly transcends the kind of words we use. And it is this ability to make distinctions beyond categories shows that inherent boundaries don't exist. I am using actualities because it doesn't matter what cultures tend to use or not. No one uses bleen or grue. But they are coherent concepts. YOU perfectly understand what these concepts mean or any combination. You can use them if you want. I have decided to use them right now and I will be able to score high in a test of distinctions. My ability to use non-standard concepts is an actuality. They are perfectly coherent. The fact I can use them shows my abilities to engage in the world transcends fixed boundaries.

    Everything is "could, "can," "is possible," or "if." But can you think of one culture that doesn't distinguish types of animal or doesn't use terms for colors but rather blends color and shape, color and size, etc.?Count Timothy von Icarus

    Its not hard to find words that are non-standard or don't have a direct one-to-one translation in another language. Some may be random, some may be conditioned by the way people live or interact that they have words for particular things that have unusual significance for them but no where else.

    https://ourworldenglish.com/28-untranslatable-words-from-around-the-world/

    Even though there is no one-to-one correspondence in many of these words, do I have any problems understanding them? Not really, at least superficially. Would be able to convey some unique words in english to a person not familiar? Probably. Why? Because concepts are redundant and degenerate. Our ability to engage with the world is not confined to fixed boundaries. There is always inherent overlap.

    Again, my point is not that people use different schemes. The point is that peoples engagement with the world transcends fixed boundaries. People can make up new words, new concepts any way they want and other people can understand because we don't perceive the world in fixed discrete objects. What we perceive is much more high-dimensional than that.

    The appeal to pragmatism isn't meant to say that people have different uses and so end up with different words.

    What I mean by that is that our engagement with the world and our ability to perceive the world is not in words or fixed categories. We don't need them. Animals don't need them. Words come about through the need to communicate which is a pragmatic act. It doesn't matter if we end up using many words the same (which would be because we share similar lives and similar things are relevant to us).

    The point is that the words are not the the thing, they are a tool that we fit to the world for our own use. But our actual engagement with the world perceptually and physically far outstrips that.

    Once you remove words from the equation then the idea of fixed boundaries loses good definition (not that it had any in the first place since our use of words is totally fuzzy and degenerate). Once you remove words then ultimately what you have is the idea that we react to the world in a certain way and there is a continuum of similarity and differentiation. And even that imo is an idealization because I don't think the way we (I) hold attention to things is particularly tangible either. Its not apparent to me that I attend the world in discrete quanta. Personally there is something obscured about how I attend to the world in a way which allows me to act in a way indicative of someone paying attention. Obviously there is always some kins of example of something like "focus hard and see the shape of this like" which seems like it should be straightforward ( I am not sure, but will give benefit of doubt) but this is only an extremely simplistic example which is not representative of the fact that we are attending to things all the time at different breadths and intensities and different levels of vagueness.
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    Making up a word with no reference is running away from the issue of a reference without a word.noAxioms

    It’s not word. Don’t idealize it.

    It’s a physical pile of black and white. Can you see the border? I could go cut and paste it for you.
  • noAxioms
    1.5k
    It’s not word. Don’t idealize it.

    It’s a physical pile of black and white. Can you see the border? I could go cut and paste it for you.
    Fire Ologist
    Ah, OK. In that case I don't know where you're pointing. Perhaps it is only the msc part that is the pile of black and white in question, situated between different shaped physical piles of black and white. How would I know?
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    How would I know?noAxioms

    You would have to use physical eyes and senses because it’s a physical thing, so you may get it wrong (as any eye would), but that’s the only way to investigate and find if you see border or edge or particular “object” if you need word for what we are talking about.

    And this border is distinct from the center of “it” too at least that’s what I can see.
  • noAxioms
    1.5k
    You would have to use physical eyes and senses because it’s a physical thingFire Ologist
    I did, but lacking knowledge of the bounds of the physical thing, I was reduced to guessing, which I did. That's the msc

    That guess is likely wrong, but lacking any physical definition of object bounds, it's as good as any other guess.

    that’s the only way to investigate and find if you see border or edge or particular “object
    I did all that, and found an object, but probably not the object you meant, since all I had to go on was the physical.

    And this border is distinct
    That wording makes it sound like there's one preferred border, when in fact there is an arbitrarily large number of ways the border can be assigned, none better than any other. There is no 'this border'. There is only 'a border', among many other possibilities.
  • ucarr
    1.2k


    "what constitutes an 'object' is entirely a matter of language/convention. There's no physical basis for it."noAxioms

    Is this the premise you're examining?ucarr

    Yes.noAxioms

    Can a sentient being cognize a thing-in-itself without the mediation of language?ucarr

    Any cognition is at some level a language, but I suppose it depends on how 'language' is defined.noAxioms

    language - a system of human communication rooted in variations in the form of a verb (inflection) by which users identify voice, mood, tense, number and person.

    Perhaps we can illuminate some ramifications of the premise by drawing a parallel: cognition is to the natural world as word-processing software is to verbal language. In both cases, the former, an organizing function, formats the latter, a collection of data.

    In both cases, after the formatting function does its job, the collection of data is delineated into parts. As cognition delineates trees into trunks, branches and leaves, word-processing software delineates language into sentences, paragraphs and chapters.

    Language divorced from the referents of the natural world devolves into meaningless circularity.

    Since the referents of the natural world impart meaning to language, language must reside within a subject-object interface connecting the two. This tells us that language is a system of signs that simulates the organized contents of the natural world by perceiving it literally and connecting with it symbolically.

    Now we see that the ordering of language, so as to be meaningful, cannot be wholly internal.

    When we look at the premise: What constitutes an 'object' is entirely a matter of language/convention. There's no physical basis for it., we see that the interface connecting cognitive language with physical parts of the natural world is denied.

    This denial raises the question: How does language internally bridge the gap separating it from the referents of the natural world that give it meaning?
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    I was reduced to guessing, which I did. That's the msc

    That guess is likely wrong
    noAxioms

    We should compare guesses.

    In order to communicate our guesses we have to speak words, so we will now be using idealizations for sake of communication. But my guess is the object looks like this at its borders:
    h …. e with some black and white sections in the middle.

    If we both guess the same, then we have the object itself as referent and the additional measurement tools of each other’s eyes.

    With all of that in sight, if our guesses are at least similar, we have a reasonable basis to start using the distinctions we discover with our eyes to be brought to us from a separate physical object. Metaphorically speaking, the physical object “told” us its distinction.

    If you guess z……x then we are back to square one.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    I'll have to get around to reading that some day. It sounds like a good one.



    That wording makes it sound like there's one preferred border, when in fact there is an arbitrarily large number of ways the border can be assigned, none better than any other. There is no 'this border'. There is only 'a border', among many other possibilities

    Isn't there a middle ground between there being "one canonical border," and any assignments being arbitrary? If assignments were truly completely arbitrary then people should make such distinctions at random. But they clearly don't do so. So wouldn't it make sense to look for the object in exactly what causes people to delineate them in such and such a way in the first place?

    Moreover our concepts vis-á-vis objects have been refined throughout history, and they often tend to be refined by the sciences. That is, people's understandings of which boundaries are relevant, which distinctions we should keep, and which are spurious, seems to unfold from a very close examination of (potential?) objects. This to me says the properties of the objects themselves play a very large role in determining how we define and delineate them, even if this always occurs through their relationships to minds.

    That sounds somewhat like idealism as well and I totally agree with it. Something (humans, whatever) finds pragmatic utility in the grouping of a subset of matter into a named subset, which is what makes an object out of that subset. That's the similarity with idealism. But if I am correct, idealism stops there. Mind does not supervene on anything. There's no external reality, especially a reality lacking in names and other concepts to group it all intelligibly. There is only 'cup', and no cup.
    Idealism leads to solipsism. Intellects sharing categorization via language does not.

    Depends on the type of idealism. Plato and Hegel, who often get labeled "idealists" do not in any way deny the reality of rocks and trees or the existence of nature outside of individuals' awareness of nature. In a lot of ways they are a lot more "realist" about external entities than modern Kant-inspired theorists, who often instead have it that all intelligibility in the world is the sui generis creation of minds.

    But ideas might be said to be "more real." Here is one way to think of it:

    Things might have a lot of different relationships. Salt can interact with all sorts of stuff. So can pumpkins, etc. However, over any given interval of time (some spacio-temporal region) any thing only actualizes a very small number of its properties. Salt only actualizes the ability to dissolve in water when it is placed in water. It only reflects wavelengths of light so as to appear white in a dark room. It only "appears white" to a person when a person looks at it under "normal" (full visible spectrum) light conditions. So, during any given snap shot interval, very few of a thing's properties are being actualized (and in "no time at all" no properties are being actualized, except perhaps some sort of bare "existence").

    Only in the mind of the knower do things exemplify (potentially) all their properties at once. Water can become ice or steam, but it doesn't do both simultaneously. But the mind can know that water freezes and boils, it can know that salt does all sorts of different things in different contexts. In this way, things most "are what they are," when they are known.

    If things are defined by their physical relationships with other things, then it is their relationship to human minds, which carefully examine and triangulate all such properties through things like science, that seems to pull together what they are the most. And I think this is what Hegel gets at in his doctrines of notion and concept, as well as the idea that objects and their related concepts are mutually self-consituting. Robert Sokolowski gets at how this works historically from the Aristotlean and Thomist perspectives as well.

    It's worth considering that before the rise of "the view from nowhere" as the gold standard of knowledge the gold standard was "the view from the mind of God." Such a view isn't defined as "reality versus mere appearances" but rather as absolute, and so including appearances (the sum total of ALL appearances thus being included).



    Right, and our current set of "objects" has been built up from millennia of observations and close inspections of physical interactions. Cultural inertia certainly plays a role, as does "what seems intuitive by nature" but I don't think there is any reason to think we are incapable of hitting on better and better distinctions. Technology is sort of the proof of theory. It doesn't prove that any theory is "the one true absolute standard," but it tends to suggest that it gets at least SOMETHING right. We might radically change our concept of lift in the future, but it's going to be something consistent with the fact that the current theory lets us build flying machines.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    Idealism leads to solipsism.noAxioms

    I think that’s a misrepresentation of idealism. None of the canonical idealist philosophers believe that only my mind is real.

    It's worth considering that before the rise of "the view from nowhere" as the gold standard of knowledge the gold standard was "the view from the mind of God."Count Timothy von Icarus

    There’s a book that caught my eye on the pre-Socratic philosophers, called To Think Like God. In the Greek texts there are references to the supposed ‘divinity’ of the philosophers, and Parmenides is said to have ‘received’ his wisdom from ‘the Goddess’. Then there’s ‘The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science’, Peter Harrison, which documents the belief that science was originally conceived as techniques for ameliorating the cognitive damage wrought by human sin. a means of recapturing the knowledge of nature that Adam had once possessed. There’s a sense in which scientific objectivity is supposed to emulate the impersonal detachment of the sage or mystic. But modern science becomes essentially Promethean in nature, based on the conviction that unassisted it could reveal universal truth without any reference to a supposedly religious notion of the absolute.
  • noAxioms
    1.5k
    We should compare guesses.Fire Ologist
    I indicated my guess and it was different than yours. Now what? Is yours also a guess? Which of us is wrong? Both seems likely.
    Your guess seemed to include everything (all of the black and white pattern repeated three times), which is sort of one of the obvious defaults. The entire universe turns to gold because King Midas cannot avoid touching the universe. My guess was obviously smaller. Are we back to square one?


    Isn't there a middle ground between there being "one canonical border," and any assignments being arbitrary?Count Timothy von Icarus
    It would be nice, yes. We're 150 posts in here, and no such middle ground that holds water has been suggested yet, but I'm open to it.
    Any suggested bound is going to be put to the test of one of my OP examples, or the Midas thing.

    If assignments were truly completely arbitrary then people should make such distinctions at random.
    Nonsense. People can create conventions to put the distinctions at pragmatically useful places. Nothing random about that.

    But they clearly don't do so. So wouldn't it make sense to look for the object in exactly what causes people to delineate them in such and such a way in the first place?
    That seems to be along the lines of giving AI and thus conventions to devices, difficult to do with an energy beam. The OP mentioned a teleporter that moves that to which it is 'attached'. So (kindly ignore the fact that I'm using language here) it gets strapped to a railing at the edge of the roof of a building that is integrated into a city block of building connected by shared walls and interconnecting passageways. Question is, what are the bounds of what the device teleports?
    I picked this example because it's not clear even to a human what the requirement is, so a device that tries to demark objects the way a human does would make a clear determination.

    Water can become ice or steam, but it doesn't do both simultaneously.
    Not so. We boiled water until it froze, as an illustration of how to reach the triple point. The boiling was done via pumping air (and steam) out of the jar with the water. After not long, ice forms on the boiling surface.
    Just some off topic FYI.

    I'm well aware of the idealism that goes on with our categorization of the world, but in the end, I want to resolve the issue brought up in the OP. If the idea can't do that, then it doesn't seem to help.


    I think [idealism leading to solipsism] is a misrepresentation of idealism.Wayfarer
    I suspect you're right. I'm no authority, but other people/minds are nothing but ideals themselves to me, and one has to get around that. I don't know how its done.

    None of the canonical idealist philosophers believe that only my mind is real.
    So they must have solved the problem then. Again, I know very little of the positions pushed by various famous philosophers. I'd not pass a philosophy course in school since that's mostly what they teach, sort of like how history was taught to us.


    language - a system of human communication rooted in variations in the form of a verb (inflection) by which users identify voice, mood, tense, number and person.ucarr
    Ah, human speech and representations thereof. If 'language' only refers to that, then a sentient being can definitely cognize a things without the mediation of language

    word-processing software delineates language into sentences, paragraphs and chapters.
    I suspect that word processing software has no more awareness that it is dealing with language than does my tongue.

    we see that the interface connecting cognitive language with physical parts of the natural world is denied.

    This denial raises the question: How does language internally bridge the gap separating it from the referents of the natural world that give it meaning?
    I don't see a denial of the indicated connection, so it's a question you must answer.
  • Janus
    15.9k
    However, in the same way, you can't delineate the boundaries of anything without the idea/universal. The idea is what tells you "include this, not that," or "stop here."Count Timothy von Icarus

    You cannot arrive at the universal/ idea without a pre-conceptual gestalt that stands out for you. Inanimate objects like clouds, mountains, rivers, stones are perhaps less definitively bounded than living, self-organizing entities.

    You don't get any discrete boundaries if you exclude any reference to minds.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Things seem to be constituted by differential intensities in an overall dynamic energy field. So the universe is presumably not an amorphous blob, but an everchanging energy field consisting of locally differing intensities.

    It seems reasonable to think that these differing intensities in the field give rise to the different colours, textures, hardnesses, densities and masses that we encounter everywhere, and that it is on those physical bases that things stand out for us.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I suspect you're right. I'm no authority, but other people/minds are nothing but ideals themselves to me, and one has to get around that. I don't know how it’s done.noAxioms

    Take a look at The Mind-Created World.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    :up:

    Agree 100%, those are the points I've been arguing for.



    It would be nice, yes. We're 150 posts in here, and no such middle ground that holds water has been suggested yet, but I'm open to it.
    Any suggested bound is going to be put to the test of one of my OP examples, or the Midas thing.

    Dontcha think this might have to do with the standards all being magical devices? Harry Potter's magical tent that is bigger on the inside than the outside causes similar problems (does it shrink things or create a wormhole or what?) without involving delineating anything. The magic might be the problem.

    This was, in fact, the problem with Maxwell's Demon. It took a very long time to figure out why it couldn't exist, but finally people thought to challenge the assumption of the thing essentially having a non-physical/magical memory.


    If the idea can't do that, then it doesn't seem to help.

    I think it does. It tells you that pipes, sheep, cars, etc. are not defined by particle ensembles. They're defined by a set physical properties and their relations to mind. If you zoom in to the scale of particles, you have generally already left these sorts of macroscopic objects behind.

    Think about it this way, if "being a pipe" or "being a cow' is "strongly emergent" or something like that, then it's quite impossible to determine if some particle belongs to a cow, etc. or not. The phenomena in question simply does not exist at those scales. This doesn't mean that we cannot say such things are "made up" of molecules, atoms, etc. It says we cannot reduce them, or their boundaries, to such things.

    Delineating things in terms of building block particles seems to presume a certain sort of reductionism, but it's such a common view that I think this often goes unacknowledged.
  • ucarr
    1.2k


    When we look at the premise: What constitutes an 'object' is entirely a matter of language/convention. There's no physical basis for it., we see that the interface connecting language with physical parts of the natural world is denied.ucarr

    How is my understanding of your quote a mis-reading of it?
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    King Midas cannot avoid touchingnoAxioms

    Was there a before King Midas touched, when the world wasn’t gold, and then what happened to Midas’ finger afterwards?

    Physical objects are distinguishable everywhere with no eyes and no words, you just can’t picture them or speak about them easily.

    You guessed somewhere near my guess, and my guess now is that we could work it out. It was the black and the white where there were no words. Close enough.
  • noAxioms
    1.5k
    Take a look at The Mind-Created World.Wayfarer
    Pretty much like Pinter seems to say. But your paper doesn't seem to be the position held by most self-identified idealists who consider mind to be fundamental, supervening on nothing else.

    So barring the label, I agree with most of it. The though experiment near the top is questionable. There can be a view from nowhere, but it would be by definition not perspectival. A simple classical example would be a spacetime diagram, especially a gif that continuously rotates it through frame transformations so as not to imply a preferred one.
    Take away 'classical' and the view from nowhere can get far more abstract since semi-perspectival things like worldlines might go away. A perspective can collapse a wave function. Can God (with the supposed 'view from nowhere') do that?


    Dontcha think this might have to do with the standards all being magical devices?Count Timothy von Icarus
    Since it seemingly cannot actually be done, all such devices are necessarily fictional/magical, yes. If there were a solution to the problem, we could find a non-fictional example to illustrate the point.

    This was, in fact, the problem with Maxwell's Demon. It took a very long time to figure out why it couldn't exist, but finally people thought to challenge the assumption of the thing essentially having a non-physical/magical memory.
    Godel certainly shoots that down, but perhaps it was already shot down by that point.

    Think about it this way, if "being a pipe" or "being a cow' is "strongly emergent" or something like that, then it's quite impossible to determine if some particle belongs to a cow, etc. or not.
    You seem to still be approaching the problem from the wrong end. You're taking a cow and looking for a very precise (down to the atomic level) demarcation of that already defined convention.
    I am starting with only 'this', an indication of some classically local substance, say the non-air surface (say a leg exoskeletal surface of a 0.1 mm bug sitting on a shirt) upon which the phaser energy beam is focused. Now this beam needs to perform its function to the entirety of the 'object' of which that surface is a part. The energy beam itself (and not the gun) needs to figure this out. And worse, it cannot perform its function until after the beam shuts off, but that problem is not entirely related to this topic.
    The description of the bug leg is very specific, but any real beam held active for 0.6 seconds is going to wiggle around and not remain focused on the bug leg the whole time. It will at least directly hit 'shirt' for some percentage of the time.


    Was there a before King Midas touched, when the world wasn’t gold, and then what happened to Midas afterwards?Fire Ologist
    The story does not describe the universe being converted, so the supplied physical definition is not the correct convention obviously.
    It means my guess of msc was closer to the Midas example than was your guess.



    When we look at the premise: What constitutes an 'object' is entirely a matter of language/convention. There's no physical basis for it., we see that the interface connecting language with physical parts of the natural world is denied.
    — ucarr

    How is my understanding of your quote a mis-reading of it?
    ucarr
    Well for one, the suggestion is that convention is very much the interface between the physical world and 'object'. Convention comes from language and/or utility. So the interface is not denied, but instead enabled by these things.
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    The energy beam itself (and not the gun) needs to figure this out.noAxioms

    I’m beginning to lose sight of the question (the object of your inquiry so to speak).

    It’s a fictional thing, a laser gun that shoots an entire bug but leaves the shirt. The impossibility of that thing can be solved by as much fiction. The laser beam just does. Shirt is always fine. Laser beams are really cool. So is Midas’s gold. Problem solved.

    It’s not the laser beam, right? Who gives a crap how ridiculous or accidentally accurate our fictions can be or can’t?

    But if you are grappling with atoms and void and finding not enough void anywhere between groupings of atoms…

    Or not finding any difference between atom and not-atom such that one or the other cannot exist and there can be only one…

    Or are you saying a man can’t step into the same river twice, or even once, because no thing is identical to itself long enough to be a fixed object or be identified as such…

    Or are you just being contrarian, because none of these problems have been solved down to a nice little explanation?
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    But your paper doesn't seem to be the position held by most self-identified idealists who consider mind to be fundamental, supervening on nothing else.noAxioms

    Thanks for looking at it, I appreciate your feedback. But I’d like to think that the essay is compatible with the canonical idealists, such as Berkeley (with some caveats), Kant, Schopenhauer, and our contemporary, Bernardo Kastrup.

    A perspective can collapse a wave function. Can God (with the supposed 'view from nowhere') do that?noAxioms

    Werner Heisenberg might have had an answer to that, in his writings on Physics and Philosophy, as he was both a pioneer of quantum physics, and someone whom I think could be described as a Christian Platonist. But I won’t pursue that here.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    If you don’t mind my stepping in: one response that comes to mind is from Arthur Schopenhauer. There’s a section of a book, Schopenhaur’s Philosophy, Bryan Magee called ‘No Object without a Subject’. Magee explicates one of the central tenets of Schopenhauer’s metaphysical and epistemological views: the idea that the existence of objects is intrinsically tied to the presence of a subject that perceives them.

    Schopenhauer’s philosophy is built on the premise that our understanding of the world is mediated through perception and cognition. He argues that objects, as we know them, do not exist independently of our perception. This aligns with the broader philosophical stance of idealism.

    Schopenhauer was deeply influenced by Immanuel Kant, particularly the notion that the world as we perceive it (phenomena) is shaped by our cognitive faculties. However, Schopenhauer extends this idea, positing that the will is the fundamental reality behind all appearances.

    According to Schopenhauer, what we perceive are representations (Vorstellungen), which are dependent on the subject (I would add, as well as the object, as I don’t deny that objects exist). The “thing-in-itself” (noumenon), which Kant suggested lies beyond our perceptual faculties, is, for Schopenhauer, the will.

    Schopenhauer asserts that the existence of the objective world is contingent upon a perceiving subject. Without a subject to perceive, there can be no object. This challenges the notion of an independently existing material world - or independently-existing objects, for that matter!
  • JuanZu
    120
    Hello.


    So this got me thinking, and I could only conclude that what constitutes an 'object' is entirely a matter of language/convention.noAxioms

    When we say that objects are a product of language, we are simply shifting the problem from the external world to the interiority of language. We then say that there are objects in language.

    We might rather ask why language functions and allows us to operate as subjects who are part of reality and act within it. Doesn't this mean that if there are objects in language, then there are also objects-ish in "the world external to language" that authorize and enable our language to function? Why aren't we crazy animals wich constantly fails to interact effectively with the world?

    This breaks with the skepticism that seeks to radically separate language from reality or the external world. If there were no certain ontological continuity between language and the world, we would simply be animals incapable of grabbing a rock, striking it with another, and creating fire.
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    Hey Wayfarer,
    No interruption at all!

    Schopenhauer’s philosophy is built on the premise that our understanding of the world is mediated through perception and cognition.Wayfarer

    The phenomenal veil, of our own construction, that cloaks and hides the thing-in-itself. Yes, love it. Straight out of Kant, and I like Schop too, the old curmudgeon.

    However, Schopenhauer extends this idea, positing that the will is the fundamental reality behind all appearances.Wayfarer

    Yes, the objects are ideal, and they are brought about when we will, will to hold them as phenomenal objects. We not only make them by mediation of senses and cognition, but we will the sensing and the cogitating. And also, the will is preserved at the heart of the things-in-themselves that pour in the data, wiling-themselves towards our senses and cognition, as we transform this into our phenomenal experience.



    He (Schop) argues that objects, as we know them, do not exist independently of our perception.Wayfarer

    I bolded “as we know them” because that is the key to me. We have objects as we do NOT know them (things in themselves), we apply our senses and cognition to those objects (and/or those objects apply themselves to our senses and cognition), and we get the objects as we know them (phenomena).

    According to Schopenhauer, what we perceive are representations (Vorstellungen), which are dependent on the subject (I would add, as well as the object, as I don’t deny that objects exist).Wayfarer

    I agree with your parenthetical. The things in themselves are existing objects. They are out there and I am with them. They shape my phenomenal experience too. I see no reason to conclude otherwise. We just only know those objects indirectly, mediated - we experience objects subjected to an influence outside or beyond those objects, namely me, the subject.

    But this gets to noAxiom’s question. If we can’t know the objects in themselves and unmediated, then all “objects” should have quotes around them. They are ideal only.

    But we just admitted there are objects separate from me, things in themselves out of which I fashion my phenomenal veil over them.

    And the OP is about the “physical basis for what constitutes a thing or an object.”

    I think we have to take the “physical basis” to be another term for “thing-in-itself”, in which case we may never be able to properly have this conversation or know a physical basis for what constitutes a thing.

    In the end, I can only intuit that distinctions exist in physical form, in the various distinct many things in themselves, but I think they are there, apart from me and my cognitions. But I do so intuit.

    And there are also clearly distinctions between the ideal forms we make, but that is not the question, and that is easy to find, since I can make the ideal distinctions clear myself.

    The overlap, to me, is the phenomenal world that we take as representing the physical form.

    I am trying to equate where you said “as we know them” with “that we take as representing the physical form.”

    You said “them”. Objects as we know “them.” The “them” here are the physical forms. There are now objects, and separately there are objects as we know them or as we take them to represent things in themselves (as phenomena).

    So we have two different objects (things and ideals, or, in-themselves and phenomena), and call them both objects. We should only be calling one of them the object. But we aren’t having any luck at that.

    Which is why I said in my first post this might be an impossible question to answer (or pose), and in my last post above I said that I am losing site of the question.

    We are tasked by noAxiom with using words to demonstrate some thing, some physical object, in the act (willing) of speaking for itself.

    So I posted a word of gibberish in attempt to create such a thing right here, now, for us to play with.

    My only solution to poke a small hole in the phenomenal veil is to triangulate towards the thing-in-itself by comparing the ideals from other minds who together investigate the same or at least similar phenomena. We both point to “that pumpkin” and we post it our ideal of where pumpkin begins and ends, where some thing in itself over there meets human sense and cognition, where we sense something apart from the single subject, and together sense where “that pumpkin” makes sense to both of us.

    This sounds like Kantian transcendence, but I see it as more than that (because if the things will, it’s own essence for itself), enough to try and answer noAxiom’s question as “yes, there are physical objects that are not the same as our ideal objects, and we can know these objects exist.”

    Just takes some willingness to see willingness apart from oneself.

    PS.
    Maybe essence is will, in each thing in itself be it physical or not, and phenomena are these wills as object, where we attempt to capture the essence, the will of something beyond the subject. Maybe?

    I think Schopenhauer’s will, taken up by Nietzsche, is an underdeveloped metaphysical wisdom. (Because Nietzsche shattered metaphysics.). It’s also in Aristotle as desire and telos.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    If we can’t know the objects in themselves and unmediated, then all “objects” should have quotes around them. They are ideal only.Fire Ologist

    Bingo. That, I think, is near to what 'the idea' stands for in Schop's World as Will and Idea. And that goes right back to the origin of metaphysics itself - that 'to be, is to be intelligible'. Why? Because if it appears to us as 'a thing', its identity must be cognisable: it's vegetable (pumpkin), or an animal (cat) or a particle (electron) etc. That if it doesn't have a form (eidos, idea) then it's not anything. (I'm still wrestling with all this, though - there are many devils in the detail.)

    My only solution to poke a small hole in the phenomenal veil is to triangulate towards the thing-in-itself by comparing the ideals from other minds who together investigate the same or at least similar phenomena.Fire Ologist

    I also see it that way - this is the basis of that rather post-modernist term 'inter-subjective agreement'.

    Where I think the real issue lies, is that our scientific selves want 'the world' to be precisely what it is, when we're not around to see it. That Phillip K. Dick quote, 'reality is what persists when you stop believing in it'. Because of the enormity and immense age of the universe revealed by science, in which we appear as 'mere blips'. It's a view which attempts to exclude the subject and subjectivity altogether, so as to grasp what is 'really there'. But it's precisely that which has been called into question by quantum physics (the Copenhagen interpretation, in particular. Hence the popularity of sci-fi series appealing to the many-worlds interpretation, like Dark Matter and Constellation, to mention a couple.)

    But to take your broader point - while I agree there are existing objects they're still always real for a subject. They are not ultimately-existing in the sense of being existent apart from the act of knowing. That actually has echoes of the Buddhist śūnyatā, which I've studied, but it's also notoriously difficult to understand. (I'm interested in the convergence between Kant, Schopenhauer and Buddhism. There's a marvellous French philosopher of science, Michel Bitbol, whom I learned of through this forum, who has many interesting things to say about all that.)
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    It's a view which attempts to exclude the subject and subjectivity altogether, so as to grasp what is 'really there'.Wayfarer

    I see three things:
    The world which is there (for ages).
    Us in it, the human subject, also there, but now there with.
    And our perspectival experience the unique picture made of the other two, existing only in our head, filled with “objects” that are unlike the other two things.

    Like the subject is there with its phenomenal constructions, the body is there with other bodies.

    Like we can’t have phenomena without noumena taken up in the subject, we can’t have sensations without objects in the world taken up by the senses.

    We need all three.

    The “objective world” that is “really there” requires not just the ideals to the subject, but also the idealized thing without the subject (however that thing appears to me, or better, to us.)
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    The world which is there (for ages).
    Us in it, the human subject, also there, but now there with.
    And our perspectival experience the unique picture made of the other two, existing only in our head, filled with “objects” that are unlike the other two things.
    Fire Ologist

    With some apprehension, I will challenge that. I think it's basically grounded in the assumptions of scientific realism. Which is OK - so long as it's understood to be a grounding assumption, as it were - not a statement about the nature of "what is". I know that sounds far-fetched but consider, if the nature of objects is imputed by the observer, then why doesn't the same apply to the ‘external world?’

    I'm well aware this is the point on which idealism usually founders, but there's a stock quotation I call on, once again from Bryan Magee's book Schopenhauer's Philosophy, as follows:

    'Everyone knows that the earth, and a fortiori the universe, existed for a long time before there were any living beings, and therefore any perceiving subjects. But according to Kant ... that is impossible.'*

    Schopenhauer's defence of Kant on this score was [that] the objector has not understood to the very bottom the Kantian demonstration that time is one of the forms of our sensibility. The earth, say, as it was before there was life, is a field of empirical enquiry in which we have come to know a great deal; its reality is no more being denied than is the reality of perceived objects in the same room.

    The point is, the whole of the empirical world in space and time is the creation of our understanding, which apprehends all the objects of empirical knowledge within it as being in some part of that space and at some part of that time: and this is as true of the earth before there was life as it is of the pen I am now holding a few inches in front of my face and seeing slightly out of focus as it moves across the paper.
    — Bryan Magee Schopenhauer's Philosophy, Pp 106-107

    Bold but true, I believe.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    You seem to still be approaching the problem from the wrong end. You're taking a cow and looking for a very precise (down to the atomic level) demarcation of that already defined convention.
    I am starting with only 'this', an indication of some classically local substance, say the non-air surface (say a leg exoskeletal surface of a 0.1 mm bug sitting on a shirt) upon which the phaser energy beam is focused. Now this beam needs to perform its function to the entirety of the 'object' of which that surface is a part.

    Like I said, I don't think this is the wrong direction. How can you possibly demarcate where some object ends without any idea at all of what it is you want to demarcate? The questions are not unrelated and the what of the universal determines the demarcation of the particular. The question of where a particular Borg's feet end and where the floor begins requires a reference to what "Borg" and "floor" are.

    If I understand you right, you want some beam to paint a particular bug, pumpkin, etc. and lable them "thing" against some background not labeled "thing." But this is never going to work. Individual things aren't what they are as discrete objects because of some relationship between them and their immediate enviornment that exists at the molecular level without reference to any broader context. Things are what they are as discrete objects because of the role they play in the larger whole vis-á-vis minds. Your "beam" can't determine that role only by looking at the object and it's immediate enviornment. The best you can do is program heuristics for finding such distinctions into it based on already existing demarcations, it can't "go out and find them in objects."

    Godel certainly shoots that down, but perhaps it was already shot down by that point.

    The widely accepted solution has to wait until the 1980s and Landscapers Principle. The problem for the Maxwell's Demon is that erasing its memory so that it can overwrite it increases entropy.



    The point is, the whole of the empirical world in space and time is the creation of our understanding, which apprehends all the objects of empirical knowledge within it as being in some part of that space and at some part of that time: and this is as true of the earth before there was life as it is of the pen I am now holding a few inches in front of my face and seeing slightly out of focus as it moves across the paper.

    I personally think this is a view that comes around from accepting very bad, and often unchallenged metaphysical assumptions that Kant inherited from Locke and some of the other empiricists.

    It sets up a false dichotomy between "things-in-themselves" and "things-as-known." The correct dichotomy would be something like: "things-as-they-relate-to-everything-but-mind," and "things-as-known."

    "Things-in-themselves," aren't just completely epistemicaly inaccessible, they also can play no role in "how the world is" even outside the phenomenal realm. The properties a thing has when it interacts with absolutely nothing else (and with no parts of itself) isn't just epistemicaly inaccessible, it is metaphysically superfluous because such properties cannot ever make a difference for how a thing interacts with anything else. You might as well posit such properties as existing in an entirely sui generis, second sort of being, or as existing in an entirely different universe that has no connection to ours. Yet for Locke and many of the earlier moderns, the mistake was to think that such properties must actually somehow undergird everything observed.

    Of course, smuggled into their reasoning is the idea that such "in-themselves" properties actually do shape all interactions (including all those related to mind). But to allow for this is actually to give up on "in-itselfness"— properties that are non-relational and "in objects alone" —and to start talking about relational properties grounded in interaction.

    So the proper question, IMO, looks something like this:

    We have the set of all the relational properties or all interactions in the world. We can split this into two subsets: those that do not involve minds and those that do. The question is then, why do we think the first set has any members? To suppose it does essentially amounts to positing some sort of second category of being, one that must, by definition, be completely unrelated to the one we live in, where an entirely different set of relations exist. The relations in this first set can never, ever, affect anything in the second set on pain of having to join the second set, since such a relation/interaction now bears some relation to mind. But then what is the point of positing unrelated, second sorts of being?

    The classical/scholastic arguments for Unity as a Transcendental property all apply here. To be is to in some way interact with everything that exists (even if relations between any two given things might always be "mediated"). But here we seem to be rejecting this and essentially posting two unrelated "types of being," which I'd argue makes no sense.

    Of course, Kant is quite right that we can never experience the world "as it is like," without a mind. This is trivial though IMO. But I don't think he has any grounds for positing his noumenal realm, and even if he posits it, he can't have it actually making any difference for the world we live in.

    There is also the whole thing of assuming ideas/perceptions/words/theories are not the " things through which we know," but instead "what we know" at work here.

    (Side note: I also think some of Kant's arguments for space and time being creations of the mind are extremely weak. I'm thinking in particular of the incongruous counterparts argument. Chiral asymmetry is as much a property of shapes as anything else. I think he is largely stuck on refuting (a perhaps unfair) version of Leibniz and then taking this as a refutation of the classical tradition and relational ontologies in general)
  • noAxioms
    1.5k
    When we say that objects are a product of language, we are simply shifting the problem from the external world to the interiority of language. We then say that there are objects in language.JuanZu
    Perhaps I used the wrong words. It has become more clear in the subsequent posts. What most everyone seems to have concluded is that 'object' is an ideal. Ideals are manipulated (expressed to others say) through language, and my initial post focused on the language and convention part instead of naming it for what it was: an ideal.
    My attempts to find a non-fictional example of an object not being an ideal has failed. This is strong evidence for the conclusion reached.

    Doesn't this mean that if there are objects in language, then there are also objects-ish in "the world external to language" that authorize and enable our language to function?
    Apparently not. No example of this has been found, at least if you alter the statement to say 'external to ideals'. There are certainly things that arguably don't use language as we know it that nevertheless treat preferred groups of material as 'objects'.


    It’s a fictional thing.
    Problem solved.
    Fire Ologist
    I don't think there ever was a 'problem', only an observation, an investigation into such things.

    But if you are grappling with atoms and void and finding not enough void anywhere between groupings of atoms…
    Ah, 'sufficient void between groups', except that me and the ground one since there's no void between us. Human convention usually considers air and liquid to be classified as 'void' for such purposes. King Midas still breathes air, not gold.

    Or are you saying a man can’t step into the same river twice
    A river is an object by convention, and you step into the same river each time. If it's a different river each time, then it's also a different me each time doing it, so a man cannot even 'be' twice since, like the river, the material changes from moment to moment. Anyway, no, I'm not saying that. I talk about identity quite often, but this topic is not about that.
    The 'river', and 'me' stepping in it, are both ideals.

    Or are you just being contrarian
    Pretty much everybody is concluding the same thing, so it doesn't seem to be an example of being contrarian.



    Thanks for looking at it, I appreciate your feedback. But I’d like to think that the essay is compatible with the canonical idealists, such as Berkeley (with some caveats), Kant, Schopenhauer, and our contemporary, Bernardo Kastrup.Wayfarer
    Problem is, several people, (you especially) throw these names around, which is great for the readers that know them and their views, but I'm not one of those. I don't know the names, and I'm apparently discovering things for myself that have already been discussed somewhere by these famous guys. I'm behind the curve. I didn't bother with learning a lot of the history because so many of them were pre-20th century and the main reason I came to this site (well, the old PF actually) was because nobody seemed to discuss the philosophical implications of 20th century science, such as the nature of time, of identity, of the finite age of the universe, of wave function collapse and such. All these modern findings really put a hole in a lot of the older views, forcing their adherents to look the other way instead of face the new issues.

    Anyway, point is, I don't much know the teachings of the famous guys, but that also means I am covering ground that has already been covered by somebody else. Relevant quotes are helpful. Names are noi.


    the idea that the existence of objects is intrinsically tied to the presence of a subject that perceives them.Wayfarer
    I've come to agree with that, but I would put 'object' in scare quotes since the thing in itself (or better worded, the stuff in itself) is not so tied to perception. A subject yes, but not necessarily a perceiving one.

    If one defines 'reality' to be what one knows about, that epistemological definition leads to proper idealism. Mind is fundamentally real (so still a realist position) in that view since without mind, nothing is known and thus nothing exists.

    A standard scientific realist view is not about epistemology at all. It says loosely that there is a set of what is real, and anything not in that set isn't real. What is and isn't real cannot be known. MWI for instance is a hard realist interpretation: the universal wave function is real, and it evolves according to the Schrodinger equation.

    I don't consider myself to be a realist of either kind since the reality of whatever is posited to be fundamentally real, say the mind or the universal wave function, cannot be explained.

    I take a relational view where if state X is part of the cause of state Y, then X exists (is real) to Y. It is a sort of backwards ontology. Future things cause past things to exist relative to them by being affected by said past things. There is no objective reality with such a definition, no meaningful 'view from nowhere'. And none of the above has dependence on epistemology or 'minds', so fundamentally, it's not idealism.

    our understanding of the world is mediated through perception and cognition. He argues that objects, as we know them, do not exist independently of our perception. This aligns with the broader philosophical stance of idealism.
    Agree with this, at least until perception becomes fundamental, and fundamental properties are given to 'the will' like it's something more special.

    Schopenhauer asserts that the existence of the objective world is contingent upon a perceiving subject. Without a subject to perceive, there can be no object. This challenges the notion of an independently existing material world.
    No, it just challenges 'object', one of a list of words that can similarly be demonstrated to be ideals. That we put words to sets of material that we find useful does not imply that the material behind it is challenged.


    The phenomenal veil, of our own construction, that cloaks and hides the thing-in-itself.Fire Ologist
    Maybe because there's only 'stuff in itself'. It's us that makes 'things' of it all.


    I see three things:
    The world which is there (for ages).
    Us in it, the human subject, also there, but now there with.
    And our perspectival experience the unique picture made of the other two, existing only in our head, filled with “objects” that are unlike the other two things.
    Fire Ologist
    Pretty much a realist stance, with some of the findings of this topic highlighted.

    We need all three.

    The “objective world” that is “really there” requires not just the ideals to the subject, but also the idealized thing without the subject (however that thing appears to me, or better, to us.)
    An objective world, by definition, would not require a subject or its ideals at all.


    consider, if the nature of objects is imputed by the observer, then why doesn't the same apply to the ‘external world?’Wayfarer
    It likely does. Consider if MWI were true, then 'world' right there is an ideal. The theory itself does not posit them. It's only a side effect of entanglement of states, and even 'states' becomes an ideal. There's not much left to objective reality except that one wave function and its evolution.

    Bold but true, I believe.
    That was in reaction to your Magee quote, and it seems to presume a more fundamental (proper) idealism than the one described by your paper or Pinter.


    How can you possibly demarcate where some object ends without any idea at all of what it is you want to demarcate?Count Timothy von Icarus
    From the lack of examples outside of fiction, it seems pretty obvious that you can't.

    If I understand you right, you want some beam to paint a particular bug, pumpkin, etc. and lable them "thing" against some background not labeled "thing."
    In a search for an objective object, yes, I want that. Seems completely impossible, so the conclusion is that all these things are but ideals.
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