• Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    First, I’m glad to find other posts that describe and propose a metaphysics… which means that it’s permissible, and that this post isn’t improper or off-topic.

    I’ll describe my proposed metaphysics after these few brief comments about it: It isn’t any kind of Physicalism or “Naturalism” (as that term is usually used); nor a Dualism. I guess that means that it must be called an Idealism.

    I was dismayed to find out that physicists Michael Faraday (1844), Frank Tippler (1970s or ‘80s), and Max Tegmark (more recent) had beaten me to it, by pointing out the main point at the basis of this metaphysics. I also was a a bit dismayed to find that Litewave had brought it up at this forum before I did.

    (Having mentioned Frank Tippler, who well described the principle that I’ll discuss, I should just add that I don’t agree with the notion of computer simulations creating worlds.)

    Description:

    Suppose I tell you that there’s a traffic-roundabout at the intersection of 34th & Vine. I could instead word it by saying that, if you go to the intersection of 34th & Vine, you’ll encounter a traffic-roundabout.

    In fact, anything that can be said about our physical universe can be said as an if-then statement.

    In fact, there’s no evidence that our physical universes consists of more than inter-related if-then statements.

    When we say, “If this, then that”, that statement would be just as true (within our universe’s context of a set of inter-related abstract if-then facts) if there is nothing to our universe other than just the if-then facts themselves.

    There’s no need for the supposed “stuff”. No particular reason to believe in it. I suggest that the alleged “concretely” fundamentally existent “stuff” is as unnecessary an assumption as the old phlogiston.

    The assertion of its fundamental existence is an unnecessary assumption, making Materialism, Physicalism, Naturalism lose, in a comparison by Ockham’s Principle of Parsimony.

    Above, I said, “…within the context of a set of inter-related abstract if-then facts”.

    In what other, larger, context to you want it (statements about our universe) to be true in?? For our purposes, as protagonists in hypothetical life-stories, set in one of the hypothetical if-then possibilitly-worlds, all that is relevant is the fact that our hypothetical if-then possibility-world is real, and its facts true, in its (our) own context. What other context to you want it be real or true in?

    Your life-possibility story, and the hypothetical if/then world in which it is set, needn’t be real or true in any context other than its own.

    Is it valid in its own context? Sure. That’s uncontroversial.

    I claim that the metaphysics that I propose here doesn’t need or use any assumptions, doesn’t make any controversial statements, and doesn’t posit any brute fact(s).

    I realize that that’s a strong claim, and I make that claim.

    Tell me if there’s any reason to say otherwise.

    Here are some things that can be said as abstract if-then statements:

    Logical statements, such as syllogisms; mathematical theorems; laws of physics.

    So far as I’ve heard or read, the physicist Michael Faraday was the first Westerner to point this out, when he said that the physical world consists of logical and mathematical relation, and that there’s no evidence, or need, to believe in the “concretely”, fundamentally existent “stuff” that Materialists (now called Physicalists and Naturalists) believe in.

    As I mentioned above, Tippler and Tegmark have made the same point.

    Now, you might say: “Yes, but why me? …in this world?”

    Why not? Obviously, you’re the Protagonist in a life-possibility story. That if/then story, with the if/then facts that it consists of, is uncontroversially “there” as such, in its own context.

    Plainly the Protagonist is a particularly essential part of a life-possibility story. …arguably primary to, central to, that story—which of course is entirely from your point of view and your experience. It’s a story that (obviously) has a Protagonist who is someone about whom there can be a life-story. …and that’s you.

    Other hypothetical if/then possibility-worlds? Sure, infinitely many. Obviously, from our point of view, as inhabitants of this possibility-world, the other possibility-worlds don’t look so real to us. But, to say that our particular hypothetical if/then world is fundamentally more real or existent than the others would be pre-Copernican. …as well as being an un-parsimonious, difficultly-justsified, unnecessary assumption.

    There is, or at least was, at one time, a science-fiction magazine called “Worlds of If”. I like that phrase, and I adopt it to describe the infinitely-many if/then universes, such as ours.

    Worlds-of-if. …as opposed to worlds-of-is.

    Declarative grammar is convenient for expression, but I suggest that conditional grammar more accurately describes our universe. When a way to say things is linguistically convenient, it’s easy to start believing our grammar…believing that a convenient expression is a metaphysically-fundamental fact.

    By the way, I’d like to add that, so far as I’m aware of, the words “Real”, and “Exist” aren’t metaphysically-defined. Better to not use them. Of, if I use them, it’s with the understanding that they don’t say anything definite or meaningful. You can define them as you like, and people do.

    Of course I don’t claim to have proof that the metaphysics that I propose is the correct one. I suggest that there isn’t a definite provably correct metaphysics. It seems to me that Nagarjuna, a philosopher writing in India during late Roman times, said that.

    So I merely point out that the metaphysics described here (as I said) doesn’t need or make any assumptions, doesn’t make any controversial statements, and doesn’t posit any brute-fact(s).

    I realize that there was a Classical Greek philosophy called “Skepticism”. Is it alright if I borrow its name for this metaphysics that I propose? I suggest that that name is justified by what I said in the paragraph before this one.

    I suggest that this metaphysics qualifies as a version of Vedanta metaphysics. …though it isn’t Advaita.

    Vendanta is usually defined in 3 versions, the most popular of which is Advaita. I don’t know if this metaphysics has significant details in common with any familiar version of Vedanta, but it seems to agree with Vedanta in general aspects, conclusions and consequences.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    In fact, anything that can be said about our physical universe can be said as an if-then statement.

    In fact, there’s no evidence that our physical universes consists of more than inter-related if-then statements.
    Michael Ossipoff

    That would simply be a fact about natural language semantics, at least per semantic interpretations amenable to it. It would be important to not conflate that with the world at large itself.

    In fact, there’s no evidence that our physical universes consists of more than inter-related if-then statements.Michael Ossipoff

    And that just seems comically absurd to me. Because for example, the sentence I just typed wasn't an if-then statement. Even if we feel that it could be acceptably translated into an if-then statement, that doesn't make it an if-then statement, so there would at least be statements that aren't if-then statements and their translations as if-then statements, or two different things. Of course, the act of translation is yet another thing, and on and on and on.

    When we say, “If this, then that”, that statement would be just as true (within our universe’s context of a set of inter-related abstract if-then facts) if there is nothing to our universe other than just the if-then facts themselves.Michael Ossipoff

    That's not at all the case in my view, because what it is for something to be true is for an individual to make a judgement about the relation of a proposition to something else.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    there’s no evidence that our physical universes consists of more than inter-related if-then statements.Michael Ossipoff

    Here I am, sitting in my chair. My fan is on. It's almost time for dinner. The sun is a bit low in the West. The chair arms are brown-stained wood, ash I think. It's smooth. The varnish and stain on the right side, which gets more use, is fading in some spots.

    Please explain how this concrete expression of physical reality consists of interrelated if-then statements.
  • Jake Tarragon
    342
    1) Is there not always a subset of if-then statements than can be used to derive all of them in any given context?

    2) Are mathematical truths perhaps exceptionally irreducible (to if ...thens)? That would certainly give them a special place in existence - buttressing all of it in fact. And the latter consequence is, per se, a situation that Tegmark believes in ....
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    1) Is there not always a subset of if-then statements than can be used to derive all of them in any given context?Jake Tarragon

    That hadn't occurred to me. I'd like to hear more about it.

    2) Are mathematical truths perhaps exceptionally irreducible (to if ...thens)?

    It seems so to me.

    That would certainly give them a special place in existence - buttressing all of it in fact.

    Yes.

    Michael Ossipoff

    And the latter consequence is, per se, a situation that Tegmark believes in .
  • Jake Tarragon
    342
    I'd like to hear more about it.Michael Ossipoff
    I don't think I have much to offer by way of expertise, or if I'm on the right wavelength, but I was thinking on the lines of

    a) "If I look at the sun through binoculars I will go blind"
    is derivable from

    b1)"If my eyes receive a dose of radiation of [some amount] I will go blind"
    2)If binoculars are used to focus on the sun the radiation intensity is [the above amount]

    a is clearly derivable from b1 and b2. So if parsimony is the name of the game, then knowing the minimal set of if-thens would seem relevant, maybe??
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    Jake--

    Yes, maybe the if/then facts consisting of the laws of physics (maybe along with some mathematical theorems and some abstract logical facts) imply many more if/then facts.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    T Clark:

    I'd said:

    There’s no evidence that our physical universes consists of more than inter-related if-then statements. — Michael Ossipoff

    You reply:

    Here I am, sitting in my chair. My fan is on. It's almost time for dinner. The sun is a bit low in the West. The chair arms are brown-stained wood, ash I think. It's smooth. The varnish and stain on the right side, which gets more use, is fading in some spots.

    Please explain how this concrete expression of physical reality consists of interrelated if-then statements.

    Elswhere in that initial post, I clarified that everything that can be said about our physical universe can be said as an if-then statement... is equivalent to an if/then statement.

    So, forgive me for calling them all if/then statements, for brevity.

    Re-wording your statements (from your point of view, because of course that's the experiential point of view of your life possibility-story):

    If you look down, you’ll find that you’re sitting in your chair. If you look at the clock, you’ll find that it’s time for dinner. If you look at the length and direction of a shadow (You shouldn’t look at the Sun), you’ll find that the sun is a bit low in the west. If you look at the arms of your chair, you’ll find that they’re brown-stained wood. If you feel their surface, you’ll find that it’s smooth. If you examine the appearance of the varnish and stain on the chair’s arms, you’ll find that the right arm’s finish is fading in some spots.

    But wait, doesn’t my claim sound like one of those “unfalsifiable propositions” that debunkers like to point out?

    Of course it’s an unfalsifiable proposition. …just like the proposition of the “Naturalist” ‘s or Physicalist’s “stuff”, and his “concretely” and fundamentally existent physical world that is the Ground of All Being.

    I’ve said that I suggest that it isn’t possible to prove a metaphysics.

    I was merely comparing some metaphysicses on the basis of the Principle of Parsimony.

    By the Principle of Parsimony, Skepticism beats “Naturalism”.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • litewave
    408

    A statement (proposition) can be viewed as a complex property with a subject-predicate structure and even with logical connectives such as "if-then". A statement is then true in that part of reality where this property is instantiated, and a true/instantiated statement is a fact, a property of that part of reality in which it is instantiated. But if a statement exists or is true (and if it exists then it must be true at least in some part of reality, because a property is always a property of something and so must be instantiated), then its structure and elements must exist too. This holds for any statement, not just for statements with the "if-then" connective.

    For example, take a simple statement like "John is running". If this statement is true in some part of reality, for example in New York's Central Park, then John must exist (in that part of reality) and he must instantiate the property of running.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    Litewave--

    I like to avoid the word "Exist", because there isn't a consensus about a metaphysical definition for it.

    Someone could say that any proposition exists as a proposition, meaning only that it is a proposition. Then every false proposition exists, such as the proposition that circles (by their usual definition) have four sides, or the proposition that if all Slithytoves are purple, and Joe is a Slithytove, then Joe is yellow, or that the shortest distance between two points on a Euclidian plane is along a semicircle.

    I've often been saying that a hypothetical life-possibility-story "is there" (as a possibility-story). But I suppose that I should only say that about stories that are not demonstrably self-contradictory. (Otherwise it would be an "impossibility-story")

    I must admit that you're probably more familiar with logic than I am.

    About the possible objections to my statement that any fact about our physical universe can be said as an if/then fact (referred to from a Protagonist's own point of view), there's the possible problem of a fact about someone's current conscious mental state ((from his/her point of view). That can be called, indirectly, some kind of a fact about the physical world, because hir (his/her) mental state is related to hir physical configuration).

    (Not being an Advaitist, i believe that someone is the person and the body.

    From hir (his/her) point of view, that fact is a fact that doesn't have an "if". That person knows that fact about hir current conscious mental state as an un-conditional fact.

    For that matter, what about a fact that the person has previously learned, and knows for sure (again, discussed from hir own point of view)? "The Earth's diameter is greater than that of Mars." ", or "My house is at a street-corner." Those are things that s/he knows without having to (again) find out.

    I suppose you could always say, "If I'm right, ....", or, "If I check, I'll find verification that....", even when you're sure that you're right.

    These things could suggest that my wording might need a small bit of touch-up, or clarifying wording, but I doubt that it presents a persisting fundamental problem for it.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    If T Clark already knows that he's sitting at his desk, and that the clock says it's about dinner-time, and that the sun is a bit low in the west, and that the chair-arms are smooth finished wood, then he could state those facts on his intercom, to someone else in the house, which would be equivalent to telling that person that, if they come into the room and check, that's what they'll find to be so.

    That was basically my answer in my reply to T, and maybe it's ok. But I wasn't entirely satisfied with that, because a life experience possibility-story is about its Protagonist's experience, and so it seems desirable that the facts be said from T's point of view.

    If T hasn't checked those facts yet, then of course they could be said as if-then facts from his point of view. That was actually how I worded my reply to T.

    But maybe not appropriately, because, if he already knows those facts, they aren't conditional.

    That was part of the problem that I mentioned in my previous post.

    But I knew that it wasn't a proposal-spoiling problem.

    Maybe it can reasonably just be said that T's facts are just the "then" parts of the if/then facts.

    During our life-stories, of course there are always current facts, currently known by us. ...some "then'" conclusions of if-then facts in the workings and playing-out of our ongoing if/then life-experience possibility-stories.

    If T looks down, he'll find that he's sitting in his favorite chair. T has looked down. He has found, and knows, that he's sitting in his favorite chair.(Of course he's known that ever since he sat down, in fact.) Of course his if/then life-experience possibility-story steadily continues from there.

    T could have made his question more difficult by adding: "...and I feel comfortable, but a little tired, and I Iook forward to an interesting day.tomorrow"

    Whoa--now what?

    Maybe there are versions of Dualism or Idealism in which someone's internal feelings aren't considered facts about the physical world, but my proposed metaphysics isn't among those.

    This posting is long, and so I'll resume this in a subsequent posting.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    Reply to T Clark, continued:
    .
    Some if/then conditions and their conclusions involve easy gross ordinary observations or actions on the part of the Protagonist of a life possibility-story. They’re the ones about which I answered more easily, in my previous post.
    .
    But that isn’t true of some facts, including some internal states, such as feelings. If someone has sore place on hir skin, it might not be due to an action by hir or a cause known to hir.
    .
    And that’s true of other facts in the physical world too, of course.
    .
    But doesn’t it still come down to observations?
    .
    If physicists perform certain experiments, probing matter in various ways, they can find out things about the structure of matter. …as Rutherford did, when he sent alpha particles (they’re positively-charged) into metal-foil.
    .
    He was surprised to find the alpha particles scattered differently than he’d expected, based on Thompson’s theory that electrons were uniformly distributed in an otherwise positive atom, like raisins in a muffin.
    .
    He expected the alpha particles to be weakly deflected by relatively uniform electrical charge. But most of the particles went right though the foil, un-deflected, with a few being bounced back in directions drastically different from their direction of entry, with some bouncing nearly straight backwards.
    .
    Rutherford said that it was as if he’d fired a cannon-ball into tissue-paper and it bounced back.
    .
    Rutherford was forced to conclude that an atom’s positive charge is concentrated in a very small region of the atom.
    .
    Though atoms, electrons and atomic nuclei aren’t visible to us, physicists have found out things about them via special observations. …matter-probing experiments.
    .
    If you make a certain observation, then you’ll get a result in which you’ll find out about a certain fact (and maybe others).
    .
    And it can involve things that aren’t visible to a person.
    .
    …such as the placement of an atom’s positive charge, or the cause of the sore place on someone’s skin.
    .
    …or someone’s other internal feelings, of whatever kind. Maybe that cause can only be explained via chemistry (in principle a branch of physics), something not visible to the person involved. …or micro-biology, equally non-visible to the person.
    .
    Then you might find out about the cause of the sore place on your skin via a doctor’s observations. Or you might find that it’s something that the doctor’s observations can’t find the cause of, and that’s a fact about it too, found by the observation.--Then that fact still tells the doctor (and, hence, you) something about the cause of the condition, even if it doesn’t tell exactly what the condition is. For example, it might tell you what the cause _isn’t_.
    .
    So, in conclusion, your knowledge of facts about your internal feelings (or anything else) isn’t a problem for my proposed metaphysics that I call “Skepticism”.
    .
    Michael Ossipoff
  • litewave
    408
    Someone could say that any proposition exists as a proposition, meaning only that it is a proposition. Then every false proposition exists, such as the proposition that circles (by their usual definition) have four sides, or the proposition that if all Slithytoves are purple, and Joe is a Slithytove, then Joe is yellow, or that the shortest distance between two points on a Euclidian plane is along a semicircle.Michael Ossipoff

    An inconsistent proposition is not true in any part of reality, but that means that it is a property that is not instantiated in any part of reality - a property without a thing it would be a property of - and so it is a property that is not a property - it is nothing.

    What if you took an arbitrary statement A and formed a compound statement "if A then A"? It would be always true, a tautology. (same for "A if and only if A") What would that mean in your view?
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    An inconsistent proposition is not true in any part of reality, but that means that it is a property that is not instantiated in any part of reality - a property without a thing it would be a property of - and so it is a property that is not a property - it is nothing.litewave

    That sounds right.

    Sure, an untruth such as that doesn't count among the valid abstract facts.

    By the way, it has been asked if there could have been a Nothing in which there weren't even any abstract facts.

    But It's been pointed out that there couldn't have not been abstract facts, because then it would have been an abstract fact that there are no abstract facts.

    I just meant that I don't like to use the word "exist", or "real" without qualifying them, or expressing, when using them, the understanding that people can and do disagree about what exists or is real.

    You wrote:

    What if you took an arbitrary statement A and formed a compound statement "if A then A"? It would be always true, a tautology. (same for "A if and only if A") What would that mean in your view?

    Even if it's a tautology, and so it isn't useful or necessary to say, it's still one of the valid abstract facts.

    ...which maybe can be said about my answer, too..

    By the way, it seems to me that, in the Physicalist's terms, there's Nothing, in the senses that there isn't the Something that the Physicalist or Naturalist believes in.

    I suggest that there's Nothing other than the abstract facts, including the ones that constitute the hypothetical life-experience possibililty-stories, with us, their Protagonists, as a (primary, central) part of them.

    But I emphasize that our hypothetical life-experience possibillity-stories are obviously incomparably more interesting and meaningful than the Western philosophers' abstract facts. It doesn't do our life-stories justice to speak of them in terms of the neutral, impersonal, dry general abstract facts. Something beautiful can be made of something that, by itself would character-less and impersonal. Something valuable and justifiable can be made of something that otherwise wouldn't be so.

    Like the way a sculpture can be made of dirt or something.

    Saying that there's nothing except for the abstract facts and the possibility-stories...

    Some people would say that that's an expression of Atheism, but it isn't. It's only about metaphysics.

    God isn't an element of Metaphysics.

    I emphasize that that matter is an individual matter, not something subject to proof or an existence-issue. A matter of feeling (when it is), and not a matter of proof or debate.

    It has been pointed out that the suggestion that God's existence could be proved by logic is an implication that logic is above God.

    Martin Buber pointed out that God is above such distinctions as existence and non-existence.

    For humans to debate whether God exists is like for mice to debate whether humans gnaw hardwood or softwood.

    In their song, "5-D", the Byrds sang:

    "I opened my heart to the whole universe, and found it was loving."

    (Surely, by "universe", they were referring to all that is (what Western philosophers refer to as "the world".), rather than to our physical universe.)

    Metaphysics is about what is. It can be felt, and is by many people, that what is, is so good that maybe there's a Principle of Good that's above metaphysics.

    Being a feeling, it (as I said) isn't a matter of proof or debate, or convincing eachother.

    Why do I bring all that up here? Partly to qualify and explain my statement that there's Nothing other than our hypothetical life-experience possibilily-stories, and the hypothetical if/then possiblity-worlds in which those stories are set, and the general abstract facts...which would otherwise sound like an expression of Atheism.

    And partly as a reply to the threads at this forum in which the issue of God is being discussed. I claim that that matter is something above an "issue". It's a feeling for some. Feelings are above concepts, issues, proof and debate. ...and above metaphysics.

    Michael Ossipoff



    .
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    P.S.:

    I should emphasize that I got onto this topic justifiably from my mention of Nothing, and wanting to explain and qualify that mention.

    People have sometimes expressed gratitude for the immense, timeless goodness and beauty of what is.

    There isn't a debate-issue there, about terminology, or who is right or wrong.

    Maybe I could say that the subject could be called Meta-Metaphysics

    Michael Ossipoff
  • litewave
    408
    By the way, it has been asked if there could have been a Nothing in which there weren't even any abstract facts.

    But It's been pointed out that there couldn't have not been abstract facts, because then it would have been an abstract fact that there are no abstract facts.
    Michael Ossipoff

    Well, I have made an argument that if there were absolutely nothing (absence of everything) then there would be the fact that there is absolutely nothing and a fact is something, which refutes the premise. Absolute nothing is therefore incoherent/impossible, but you can still have nothing in a limited sense, as the content of an empty set (the empty set itself is something - a thing without parts).

    Even if it's a tautology, and so it isn't useful or necessary to say, it's still one of the valid abstract facts.

    ...which maybe can be said about my answer, too..
    Michael Ossipoff

    But if there is a fact that "if A then A", then there must also be A, the element of the fact "if A then A". But only consistent As are something; inconsistent As are nothing. So there are all consistent As.
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    When we say, “If this, then that”, that statement would be just as true (within our universe’s context of a set of inter-related abstract if-then facts) if there is nothing to our universe other than just the if-then facts themselves.

    There’s no need for the supposed “stuff”. No particular reason to believe in it. I suggest that the alleged “concretely” fundamentally existent “stuff” is as unnecessary an assumption as the old phlogiston.
    Michael Ossipoff

    As much as I disdain materialism, I feel an obvious rejoinder to this claim is that one cannot drop an if-then statement on one's foot. Sure, if one's foot is in such and such a place and you drop a brick there, then you will suffer pain and injury. But that is not the consequence of an if-then statement; it's the consequence of a physical interaction.

    And if there were nothing in our universe, then there would be no-one to entertain any kind of proposition.
  • noAxioms
    750
    There’s no need for the supposed “stuff”. No particular reason to believe in it. I suggest that the alleged “concretely” fundamentally existent “stuff” is as unnecessary an assumption as the old phlogiston.

    The assertion of its fundamental existence is an unnecessary assumption, making Materialism, Physicalism, Naturalism lose, in a comparison by Ockham’s Principle of Parsimony.
    Michael Ossipoff
    I generally favor the position you seem to be promoting here. You say (in a reply to litewave) that you like to avoid the word 'exist', but despite the lack of consensus on its definition, you need to supply one of your own.

    My first and only thread (so far) attempted to deal with that question, and litewave suggested existence and possibility being the same thing, which I found unsatisfactory since it precluded almost nothing except trivial self-contradictions. But I saw few better attempts.

    How is the cosmological argument resolved? The whole if-then seems to form a chain headed by an initial condition of some sort. From that, without further instantiation, yes, all, including consciousness, follows. Wayfarer's objection above assumes an unstated dualistic view, and I agree that the two views are not compatible with each other.
  • Jake Tarragon
    342
    What about "if I see a chair then it exists?"
  • Jake Tarragon
    342
    But It's been pointed out that there couldn't have not been abstract facts, because then it would have been an abstract fact that there are no abstract facts.Michael Ossipoff

    "This is the only abstract fact" .... as good as "nothing" perhaps?
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    I’d said:

    When we say, “If this, then that”, that statement would be just as true (within our universe’s context of a set of inter-related abstract if-then facts) if there is nothing to our universe other than just the if-then facts themselves.

    There’s no need for the supposed “stuff”. No particular reason to believe in it. I suggest that the alleged “concretely” fundamentally existent “stuff” is as unnecessary an assumption as the old phlogiston.

    — Michael Ossipoff

    You reply:

    As much as I disdain materialism, I feel an obvious rejoinder to this claim is that one cannot drop an if-then statement on one's foot. Sure, if one's foot is in such and such a place and you drop a brick there, then you will suffer pain and injury. But that is not the consequence of an if-then statement; it's the consequence of a physical interaction.

    There’s a broad if-then fact that if you drop a brick on your foot, then your foot will get hurt. …because the kinetic energy, to which the brick’s previous gravitational potential energy has been converted--as gravitational force acts on the brick and accelerates it--will inevitably do work on your foot, when your foot stops the brick’s motion.

    That broad if-then fact is implied by other if-then facts consisting of various physical laws (and maybe mathematical theorems and abstract logical facts).

    So yes, that broader if-then fact is, as you said, a consequence of physical interaction consisting of if-then facts.

    Maybe just a little more should be said about the if-then nature of those physical interactions:
    One of Newton’s laws says F = M*A.

    But, if we choose to, Newton’s law of gravitation could be just stated as a relation between masses, distances and a time-rate-of-change of motion.

    If there is a system of time and space, and if there are masses that have co-ordinate positions in that space-time, and if these quantities are related by Newton’s law of gravitation, and his laws (&/or definitions) of motion, then all of this implies that if you hold a brick high over your foot, and let go of it, the brick will do work on your foot.

    Yes, Newtonian physics is only an approximation, and there’s more modern physics that applies more generally and more fundamentally. But Newtonian physics is true for many practical purpose. And modern physics, like Newtonian physics, consists of hypothetical if-then relations. …just different ones.

    Given all those ifs, then the brick will do work on your foot, as part of a hypothetical if-then story. …based on various other physical, mathematical and logical if-then relations.

    All of this is true and “happens”, in its own context, in the context of this story. As I said, there’s no need for this story to have any existence or reality in any context other than its own.

    That’s worth repeating: The matter of whether all this is “real” or “concrete” in some larger context, is irrelevant. It happens anyway, in its own context.

    …and it untroversially “is”, as a hypothetical story, and is valid and real in its own context.

    You, as the Protagonist in your hypothetical if-then life possibility-story, therefore don’t want to drop a brick, cinder-block or boulder on your foot.

    Of course if you want to examine why that is, it’s because that’s how the biological organism called “you” is instinctively designed, of course.

    Why is there such an organism? No particular reason, other than that all possibility-stories, and all abstract facts just “are”, as possibility-stories and abstract facts. That’s uncontroversial.

    So, for that reason, there is, and couldn’t not have been, a hypothetical if-then life-possibility-story with you as Protagonist.

    That story necessarily has, as part of is chain of hypothetical causation, a world in which you the Protagonist live, and other organisms of the same species, and a background of evolution for that biological organism and his species…in which your ancestors survived long enough to reproduce and successfully rear their offspring. …partly because they didn’t drop boulders on their foot. …or or fail to take precautions against predation, etc.

    You wrote:

    And if there were nothing in our universe, then there would be no-one to entertain any kind of proposition.

    I’m not saying that there’s nothing. There are possibility-worlds, settings for possibility-stores, including your own personal hypothetical if-then life-experience possibility-story.

    ...and of course all of the abstract facts, consisting of mathematical theorems, abstract logical facts.

    ...and, for each possibility world, a set of hypothetical relations called physical laws--hypothetical relations among the hypothetical quantities in that hypothetical possibility-world..

    ...the building-blocks of a possibility-world.

    …including this universe as the possibility-world that is the setting for your life possibility-story.

    (By “this universe”, I refer to our Big-Bang Universe (BBU), and any broader “multiverse” of physically-related sub-universes (such as our BBU) that it might belong to.)

    (Things that would otherwise be universes are physically-related to eachother (and therefore are only sub-universes in a larger universe called a “multiverse”) if they’re physically causally-related to eachother, whereby one is physically caused in or by another, or they have a common physical causal origin; or if there can be any kind of physical interaction between them or their contents. So, as I use the word “universe”, a genuine universe isn’t physically-related to anything else.)
    -------------------
    But yes, as the Physicalist or Naturalist means the “something” that he believes in, there’s no reason to believe that there’s “something”.

    There’s no reason to believe that there’s metaphysically anything other than the hypothetical possibility-stories, set in hypothetical possibility-worlds.

    …and of course also all of the various abstract facts, including mathematical theorems, abstract logical facts, and the physical laws of the hypothetical possibility-worlds. …the building-blocks of hypothetical possibility worlds and the hypothetical life-experience possibility-stories that are set in them.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    What about "if I see a chair then it exists?"Jake Tarragon

    Sure, I'd agree with that.

    Because of lack (impossibility?) of a consensus definition, I feel that "exist" or "real" should be accompanied by a qualification or a specification of the context in which something is said to exist or be real..

    But yes, I feel that there wouldn't be any point in saying that our physical world and its contents don't exist. They exists in the context of our hypothetical life-experience possibility-stories. What more existence could someone ask for?
    .
    Michael Ossipoff
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    I’d like to add that, so far as I’m aware of, the words “Real”, and “Exist” aren’t metaphysically-defined. Better to not use them. Of, if I use them, it’s with the understanding that they don’t say anything definite or meaningful. You can define them as you like, and people do.Michael Ossipoff

    I too have explored this idea although it is not often mentioned in analytical philosophy. But the definition I would propose is to look at the etymology of the word 'exist', which comes from 'ex- ' to be apart from or outside, and '-ist', to stand. So 'something that exists' has a particular identity, it is this thing as opposed to that thing, it is an entity, and so forth.

    It sounds straightforward, until you start considering the way in which the elements of logic (and so on) exist. The if-then proposition you're speaking of, the law of the excluded middle, and so on - in what sense do they exist? Now I'm not proposing an answer to that question, simply asking it, to draw attention to a little-noticed attribute of thought and language; that it relies on an internal structure, be that grammar, syntax, or logic, which is, on the one hand, essential to rational thought, but is not, on the other hand, something which exists in the same sense as do the objects of perception (trees, stars, bowling balls, etc). Certainly you can study all the subjects, in that sense they exist as subjects, but it seems to me the nature of their existence, is of a different order to the nature of the existence of objects of perception.

    One philosopher who did comment on this was Russell, in Problems of Philosophy, when he wrote:

    This conclusion [i.e. that Edinburgh is north of London], however, is met by the difficulty that the relation 'north of' does not seem to exist in the same sense in which Edinburgh and London exist. If we ask 'Where and when does this relation exist?' the answer must be 'Nowhere and nowhen'. There is no place or time where we can find the relation 'north of'. It does not exist in Edinburgh any more than in London, for it relates the two and is neutral as between them. Nor can we say that it exists at any particular time. Now everything that can be apprehended by the senses or by introspection exists at some particular time. Hence the relation 'north of' is radically different from such things. It is neither in space nor in time, neither material nor mental; yet it is something.

    I think a good deal of the debates about the reality of universals and numbers is based on just this problem, and that furthermore, it has never been resolved so much as simply forgotten.

    In any case, I have formed the view that the laws of logic, natural numbers, and many other things of that kind, are in the general class of things that are real but not existent, i.e. they don't exist as objects of perception, but are aspects of both thought and the world, and without which rational thought and language would not be possible.

    Of course I don’t claim to have proof that the metaphysics that I propose is the correct one. I suggest that there isn’t a definite provably correct metaphysics. It seems to me that Nagarjuna, a philosopher writing in India during late Roman times, said that.Michael Ossipoff

    It ought to be recalled that metaphysics has a specific meaning, and was defined in relation to Aristotle's work by a later editor, who placed some of his volumes 'after physics' in the scheme of his work. Those were the works concerned with questions about substance, essence, being, becoming, and other very general philosophical topics.

    The reason the Buddhist tradition eschews metaphysics is because it doesn't subscribe to the notion of substance, essence, and accident, in the Aristotelian sense, at all. But whether Buddhists and Aristotelians are talking about the same subject at all is an open question.

    However there are certainly fundamental truths, if you like, in the Buddhist tradition, namely the truths of the reality, cause, cessation, and way to cessation, of suffering. That entails a metaphysic in the sense of a profoundly different and life-altering understanding of the nature of reality. However it is, as said above, not at all like the Aristotelian approach, and for that reason, is said to 'reject metaphysics'.

    I realize that there was a Classical Greek philosophy called “Skepticism”. Is it alright if I borrow its name for this metaphysics that I propose? I suggest that that name is justified by what I said in the paragraph before this one.Michael Ossipoff

    It has been argued that there was a relationship between the origins of Greek skepticism and Buddhism, in the person of Pyrrho of Elis, who was a wandering Greek, said to have visited 'India' (probably ancient Gandhara, nowadays Afghanistan) and conversed with Indian sages who may well have been Mahayana Buddhists. This idea is explored in books such as The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, Thomas C. Mcevilley and Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism, Adrian Kuzminski
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    "This is the only abstract fact" .... as good as "nothing" perhaps?Jake Tarragon

    Uh-Oh.

    .... as good as "nothing" perhaps?

    Seemingly.

    Maybe the person who originated the argument that I quoted had an answer to that. Maybe someone else has. Maybe someone here does. I hope so, because I agree with Dr. Kuhn, the interviewer in the Closer To Truth, when he said that It seems better if there couldn't have been (effectively) nothing.

    Two possible approaches:

    1. Is it possible for an abstract fact to forbid other abstract facts? As I was saying, a system of abstract facts needn't "exist" in any context outside itself. ...needn't have any validity or reality in any context outside itself. ...needn't be in any context outside of itself.

    So, when there's an abstract fact that says "There aren't any abstract facts other than t his one.", could such a fact be true, given that a system of abstract facts is quite independent of anything outside its own context.

    There can certainly be, as an abstract object, the statement "There are no abstract facts other than this one.". But the fact that it is, as a statement and an abstract object, doesn't make it an abstract fact.

    It's a question of whether it could have been true.

    The independence of a system of abstract facts from anything outside it, the seemingly undeniable validity of any such system in its own context, seems to say that an abstract fact that forbids other abstract facts isn't true, and therefore isn't a fact.

    If it doesn't have the jurisdictional authority to forbid other abstract facts, "There aren't any abstract facts other than this one." can't be a fact.

    2. Maybe there could be a valid quibble about the wording "...this one." Maybe it should have to say, "...other than the fact that there are no abstract facts other than the fact that there are no abstract facts other than the fact that there are no abstract facts...[and so on]."

    Maybe a valid abstract fact has to not use a shortcut like "this one", and must be finite in length.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Jake Tarragon
    342
    I was vaguely aware of the unsatisfactory nature of my proposition - but it's very illuminating to have it "formally" rebutted... :)
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    Jake--

    My 2nd objection doesn't work as well as I'd at first believed it to.

    The fact could consist of "The only fact is the fact that there are no other facts.", avoiding most of the opportunity to object to it..

    Or (and I like this one best):

    "There is only one fact."
    ---------------------------------------
    My 1st objection seems stronger.

    Could there have not even been any facts about what quantity-values would be implied if there were certain hypothetical relations between some only-hypothetical quantities, and if some of those hypothetical quantities hypothetically had certain hypothetical values?

    All these "if"s aren't saying that there really is anything. ....aren't saying that there's anything to be ruled out by a fact about there not being anything. ...or so it seems.

    ...but I admit that I guess that Isn't rigorous, and I can't guarantee that it's sound.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • litewave
    408
    There can certainly be, as an abstract object, the statement "There are no abstract facts other than this one."Michael Ossipoff

    I think this statement is inconsistent, because it needs a logic that generates also other facts. For example, it uses relations of abstraction (instantiation) and other-than (difference/similarity), which generate a vast world of possibilities.
  • litewave
    408
    In any case, I have formed the view that the laws of logic, natural numbers, and many other things of that kind, are in the general class of things that are real but not existent, i.e. they don't exist as objects of perception, but are aspects of both thought and the world, and without which rational thought and language would not be possible.Wayfarer

    Or you could say that they exist as abstract objects. They satisfy the identity condition for existence: they are identical to themselves and different from others.
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    Yes, I would go along with that, but the question is: what does it mean to 'exist as an abstract object'? Again, I'm not trying to elicit a definite answer, but to simply consider the issue.

    I think, nowadays, the instinctive response from a great many people would be that they exist 'in the mind', to which many would add, 'and are therefore neurological in nature'. But I would disagree with that, on the grounds that they are more language-like, or sign-like, than object-like; so the nature of their existence can't be explained in terms of a configuration of matter, as they're essentially 'composed of meaning' in some sense.
  • litewave
    408
    I would say that to exist as an abstract object means to have instances/examples, to which the abstract object is related through the relation of instantiation. The instantiation relation seems to be primitive, just like the composition relation (relation between part and whole/collection).

    For example, the abstract circle, which can be defined by the equation x^2 + y^2 = r^2, is instantiated in particular circles.

    Abstract objects seem to be features of objective/external reality but in our minds they may be represented by concrete typical/paradigmatic examples. At least for me, I am not able to imagine/visualize an abstract object such as an abstract circle, only concrete examples. But the specific similarity between concrete circles evokes in me the feeling or idea that there is also an abstract circle (the property of circleness), although I cannot perceive it directly.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    I think this statement is inconsistent, because it needs a logic that generates also other facts. For example, it uses relations of abstraction (instantiation) and other-than (difference/similarity), which generate a vast world of possibilities.litewave

    I hope you're referring to the statement "There are no abstract facts other than this one", or "The only fact is the fact that there are no other facts", or "There is only one fact", etc.

    If so, thanks--That's more like what I wanted to hear.

    ...because, if that statement could have been true, then that brings back the question, "Why is there something instead of nothing?"

    There's just something distasteful, displeasing or wrong-sounding about the suggestion that there could have been a Nothing in which there weren't even abstract facts, like the ones that make our richly intricate possibility-worlds..

    If I understand you right, you're saying that the concepts used in that statement imply the many other abstract facts that the statements claims that there are not.

    I don't claim to approach this question with any rigor. As you can see, I'm just an amateur at this question, and I'd appreciate any comments about it, or any quotes from what's been written in answer to it.

    I was wondering if maybe there's some reason why there couldn't be only one fact. So maybe you've answered that question, and provided a more solid objection to "only one fact".

    Another hopeful possibility could be that there's just something about if-then facts that makes them inevitable. Any suggestions?

    Because "only one fact" is a speculative putative possibility, could there conceivably have not been the opposite possibility?

    Saying that there equally could have been or not been more than one fact, seems to mean that, if there were only one fact, then it could have been otherwise. ...another fact, about lots of other facts--so there wouldn't really be just one fact.

    Even if there's be no one to say it, wouldn't there be the fact that if there were other facts, then there'd be hypothetical possibility-worlds?

    I appreciate any suggestions or quotes that can improve on this non-rigorous amateur speculation that I'm posting about this question.

    Michael Ossipoff



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