• jorndoe
    462
    Idealism has mutated/branched some over time. Historically, Plato (-427 — -347) is often said to be the origin of idealism (“hyperouránios”), and Berkeley (1685 — 1753) is an example of a later idealist (“esse est percipi”).

    In an ontological sense, idealism will have it that the Moon is not actually the Moon, but rather is Moon-experiences. There may be all kinds of chatter about the Moon as if it’s real, but, on idealism, I’m led to understand that experiencing the Moon cannot be separated from the experiencer (even in principle), such chatting is like a kind of pretense (maybe even hypostatization), or linguistic practice perhaps. So there’s no mind-independent Moon as such, it has evaporated according to this inquiry, gone the way of phlogiston, like a dream that exists only due to the dreamer; rather there’s relata among the experience (e.g. qualia, phenomenological) and the experiencer (the self). All I (the self) can ever know is the experience, and so that’s where the road ends, more or less literally. The Moon = those Moon-experiences.

    Going by idealism, and keeping it consistent, there’s no difference among you and my experiences of you. (On a non-idealist account it’s impossible for me to experience your self-awareness, since then I’d be you instead.) You = my experiences of you. But I’m not omniscient, since otherwise I’d know that I were. I don’t have to experience someone else’s self-awareness to take it’s independent existence for granted, I don’t have to become the Moon to take it’s independent existence for granted — and I learn of both much the same way, by interaction, observation, coherence, whatever. Attempting to escape solipsism by declaring that others also are selves would be textbook special pleading. There’s no more experiencing some supposed “transcendent reality” of others’ self-awarenesses than of the Moon. (For that matter, you experience someone else’s body/actions, not their mind.) The non-solipsist may have no choice but to accept others’ self-awarenesses as examples of a kind of noumena or ding-an-sich (in a very broad sense), always just over the horizon. Fortunately we have language to share our poetry.

    Do we know what a bat’s echo-location is like (qualia)? Is your red my red (qualia)? It would seem a fallacy to abstract mind away, only to go ahead and reify the abstraction instead. Individual experiences occur to individuated experiencers.

    • the map is not the territory (Korzybski)
    • the description is not the described (Krishnamurti allegedly)
    • the model is not the modeled (science)
    • the talk is not always the talked about (linguistics)
    • the perception is not always the perceived (Searle and others)
    • my experience of you is not you (non-solipsism)
    • the experience is not always the experienced (non-idealism)
    • the memory is not the remembered (you know who you are)
    • the smell/look/taste of the food is not the food (you eat food, not qualia)

    Category mistakes can occur when ignoring that …
    • you can experience self-awareness
    • you cannot experience unconsciousness
    • you can be unconscious
    • therefore mind incorrectly appears persistent/ever-present

    But what do you think?
    1. Idealism? (32 votes)
        Yep, idealism is the case
        31%
        Nope, idealism is not the case
        50%
        Other, the usual extra option
        19%
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    Going by idealism, and keeping it consistent, there’s no difference among you and my experiences of you.jorndoe

    I think is a bit of a misinterpretation, although an understandable one. But Kant's 'refutation of idealism', in the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, addresses this exact criticism, in the context of showing what was wrong with Berkeley's account.

    I am certainly one of the idealists here, but I also believe, with Kant, in the model of 'empirical realism, transcendental idealism'. The upshot, for me, is that the mind makes an inextricable contribution to knowledge. We can't see or know anything as it is, or as it would be if it were not being observed by any mind. Knowledge is of appearances, and appearances imply a subject. It doesn't mean empiricism is untrue, but it does mean that empiricism will never have the final word.
  • jorndoe
    462
    @Wayfarer, so the Moon and I exists independently of your perception thereof?


    • the perception is not always the perceived (Searle and others)
    • my experience of you is not you (non-solipsism)
    • the experience is not always the experienced (non-idealism)
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    There's a trap in your question. What does 'independent' mean? 'There anyway', right? We know the moon and the earth pre-date h. sapiens by billions of years, it doesn't make any sense to say they exist only in the minds of humans. But the subtle question is this one - what is it, that provides the perspective of 'before' such and such an event, and the units in which the measurement of that duration is made? Where does that judgement reside?

    We have a scientific account of the existence of the world prior to our personal existence, and it is consistent with many kinds of evidence that it indeed pre-existed us. But all of that evidence is still something that requires interpretation and explanation by a subject, in order to be brought to bear on the question at hand. So the sense in which that pre-existing world is independently real can still, I think, be called into question. But that is also not to say that it is merely or only subjective, in the sense of pertaining only to my understanding. It is part of the shared understanding of our culture and indeed species. But it is still an understanding, in that an essential component of it is a cognitive act of interpretation.

    Recall it was Einstein who rhetorically posed the question: does the moon continue to exist when we're not looking at it? He was genuinely perplexed, and also somewhat indignant, that such a question need be asked. But what caused him to ask it, was the so-called 'measurement problem' which had become apparent in the very field of science of which he was a pioneer, namely, quantum physics. The discoveries of Bohr and others threw Einstein's rock-solid assumption of the 'mind-independence' of reality into doubt. And that is why he asked that very question; he devoted many of his Princeton years to attempting to overturn the apparently idealist implications of physics. This, by the way, is documented in two thoroughly researched books, Manjit Kumar's Quantum and David Lindley's Uncertainty. Both of these refer to the 'battle' over scientific realism, for 'the soul of science' or over 'the nature of reality'.

    What you're up against, is a consequence of a foundational move in the Enlightenment, which was to cast aside metaphysics, and to see the world as it truly is, shorn of 'metaphysical baggage'. However, as has become clear, it was not nearly so straightforward; philosophy, as Etienne Gilson remarked, has a remarkable ability to 'bury its undertakers', i.e. those who have declared it dead.
  • andrewk
    907
    I was talking to an Indonesian the other day, who told me that in the Indonesian language there is no verb 'to be'. That appears to make it a real-life version of David Bourland's invented language E-prime, which is English with that verb and all synonyms removed.

    The relevance of that to the thread is that, without that verb, I don't think one can even describe a difference between an Idealist and a materialist. The difference dissolves to just one of language use.

    Bourland was a student of Korzybski. Wiki says that Korzybski agreed with his student to the extent that he thought two uses of the verb 'to be' - those of identity and predication - had structural problems. It confuses me no end that Korzybski is best known for his saying 'The map is not the territory', which uses 'to be' in the 'identity' use. So according to Korzybski himself, his most famous utterance may be meaningless.
  • Janus
    4k
    What do you take it that idealism (or at least the form of it you want to question) is saying?

    It certainly seems that whatever reality "in itself" 'is', it is independent of your mind or my mind. If it is independent of all human minds, (as would certainly seem to follow) then what mind could it be dependent upon?

    Berkeley's answer is "God's mind". Unless God or a universal mind is posited, then it would seem that reality cannot be mind-dependent.

    Kant's answer is that the empirical is real (meaning tangible or available to the senses) and the transcendental (the conditions for the possibility of experience ) is ideal. But what does "ideal" mean in that transcendental context? Kant denies Berkeley's notion that what is transcendental is dependent on Gods' mind, and instead posits that it is mediated by the human mind to give rise to experience. Can this mean that the transcendental is originated by the human mind? I don't believe that to say that could make any sense at all. So, if the transcendental (in its origin) is independent of any and all human minds; then it would not seem right to refer to it as ideal. It (whatever it is) must, on that account, be real (in fact it must be the ultimate reality), so the position 'transcendental idealism' really makes only very limited sense.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    'The map is not the territory', which uses 'to be' in the 'identity' use. So according to Korzybski himself, his most famous utterance may be meaningless.andrewk

    There's other ways of noting that a map of London is not the city of London. I can't hail a cab while visiting a map of London. I can't bungee jump off a six inch model of the Eiffel Tower. And the equations of gravity written out on a chalkboard don't exert any force on me.

    Of course the map isn't the territory.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    The relevance of that to the thread is that, without that verb, I don't think one can even describe a difference between an Idealist and a materialist. The difference dissolves to just one of language use.andrewk

    Does it really though? If you asked this Indonesian tribe whether imaginary rocks are made up out of the same stuff as ordinary ones you stump your toe on, would they say yes?
  • Cavacava
    1.8k
    Yes, what we perceive is only perceived though the mind. We cannot know what a thing in itself is as it is, we can only know it as we experience it. Some say that we can't even think a thing in itself, unlike Kant. But the idealist must recognize a world, and must agree that the world could be otherwise than it is, that what is, is only contingent, as proven by our own mortality.
  • andrewk
    907
    If you asked this Indonesian tribe whether imaginary rocks are made up out of the same stuff as ordinary ones you stump your toe on, would they say yes?Marchesk
    The imaginary vs real distinction doesn't relate to the question of Idealism vs Materialism. Both Idealists and Materialists make the imaginary vs real distinction.

    It's not some obscure tribe by the way. It's the official language of Indonesia, spoken by more than 200 million people.

    I suppose if I wanted to ask an Indonesian, in Indonesian, whether Harry Potter is real, I might ask something like 'Do you think anybody ever did all those things that the book says Harry Potter did?'.
  • andrewk
    907
    Of course the map isn't the territory.Marchesk
    The question is though, given Korzybski's concerns about the use of 'is' in the 'identity' sense (concerns that presumably arose later in his life, subsequent to his making the famous statement), how would he have rephrased that statement?

    Perhaps something like:

    'A map does not have all the same properties as the territory it represents'
  • Michael
    4.8k
    Are you forgetting about objective idealism, @jorndoe? To believe that all things are mental or immaterial is not to say that all things are my experiences.

    And consider the Cartesian dualist who believes that there are physical bodies and minds. Now just take away the physical bodies. There are minds other than mine. It's idealism, but not solipsism.

    You're only considering solipsistic idealism. But obviously solipsistic idealism entails solipsism.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    I suppose if I wanted to ask an Indonesian, in Indonesian, whether Harry Potter is real, I might ask something like 'Do you think anybody ever did all those things that the book says Harry Potter did?'.andrewk

    We could also ask the Indonesian if rocks are made up of smaller things we can't see, taste, touch, etc which give the rock the properties it has.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    There are minds other than mine. It's idealism, but not solipsism.Michael

    I never understood how idealism justified this stance. I get that metaphysically non-solipsistic idealists maintain there are other minds, but how they know this is problematic.

    Now just take away the physical bodies. There are minds other than mine. It's idealism, but not solipsism.Michael

    So me perceiving your body is how I know you have a mind? *Ahem*
  • Michael
    4.8k
    I never understood how idealism justified this stance. I get that metaphysically non-solipsistic idealists maintain there are other minds, but how they know this is problematic.Marchesk

    How does the materialist know that there are other minds?

    So me perceiving your body is how I know you have a mind? *Ahem*

    Yes. Isn't that also what the materialist says?
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    Yes. Isn't that also what the materialist says?Michael

    Yes, bodies are more than perceptions for a materialist.

    How does the materialist know that there are other minds?Michael

    This depends on whether the materialist can make a case for mind being a part of a living body. If so, then the materialist can say that we perceive the activity of a mind when interacting with another human being.

    The idealist doesn't have this option, since bodies are just ideas. Minds can't be ideas on the pain of solipsism.
  • Michael
    4.8k
    If so, then the materialist can say that we perceive the activity of a mind when interacting with another human being.Marchesk

    And the idealist says the same. Only that the human beings that we interact with are mental/immaterial things, not physical/material things.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    And the idealist says the same. Only that the human beings that we interact with are mental/immaterial things, not physical/immaterial things.Michael

    That doesn't work, because minds aren't ideas. See where I edited my previous post right before you responded.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    It's not some obscure tribe by the way. It's the official language of Indonesia, spoken by more than 200 million people.andrewk

    My fault, read too quickly. Used to hearing about some tribe that thinks/does things radically different.

    Anyway, for what it's worth, I used Google Translate from the English "to be or not to be" to Indonesian: "untuk menjadi atau tidak menjadi". Then reversed it, and "to be or not to be" was the result.

    I tried "existence" => "adanya" => उपस्थिति (hindi) => presence

    That's interesting. उपस्थिति => Kehadiran => presence

    I wonder why the Indonesian to Hindi is different.
  • Michael
    4.8k
    That doesn't work, because minds aren't ideas.Marchesk

    So? You have some straw-man understanding of idealism.

    The idealist claim that all things are fundamentally mental or immaterial in nature is not to say that only my experiences exist. And the idealist's claim that independent minds can interact with and perceive each other is no more problematic than the physicalist's claim that independent bodies can interact with and perceive each other.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    The idealist claim that all things are fundamentally mental or immaterial in nature is not to say that only my experiences exist.Michael

    Yeah, I know that.

    And the idealist's claim that independent minds can interact with and perceive each other is no more problematic than the physicalist's claim that independent bodies can interact with and perceive each other.Michael

    But I don't see how. Walk me through how I go from ideas of your body in my mind to interacting with and perceiving your mind, which isn't an idea/perception at all.
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