• Joshs
    20
    Although you're trying hard not to, I think you're putting the cart before the horse in placing abstract logic before the world. What I mean is, what you see as an irreducible precondition for any reality is, without your realizing it, already too full , harboring all kinds of presuppositions that are derivative rather than fundamental.
    Your logic relies on a notion of object as already constituted. I don't mean here physical or material object. I mean a conceptual object that persists in itself , that is self-identical in its meaning and sense, and then is pared with other such concepts. That's a traditional notion of logic that goes back to Aristotle. But there are recent accounts of logic that rid it of its too-full hidden suppositions.
    The basic idea is that what we experience moment to moment is not objects in the world, and it's not yet objects of thought. It's qualitative variations of meaning. The psychologist George Kelly defines our perceiving of the world in terms of constructs. A construct is simply a way in which two things(meanings) are alike and differ from a third. To be awake and experiencing the world is to be always construing. And to be construing is always to be construing something new, and slightly different from what came before. Piaget had a similar notion. He said that to experience something is to assimilate it into one's system of understanding. But at the same time it is to accommodate ones system of understanding to the unique aspects of what it is that one is assimilating. So, assimilation always implies accommodation.
    These are holistic accounts of experience. They also see the role and person as always in motion, and knowledge as anticipatory. They posit a knowledge system that encounters and construes the world always as a whole. They also assume that one can never encounter an isolatable element of ones psyche or world that isnt also a change in the system as a whole.
    Your notion of abstract if-then logic is a derived concept that is built out of a more primary activity of a recursive self-organizing system that is at every moment accommodating and transforming itself as it assimilates ever more new experience. Your logic doesn't realize that its static reifications are masking as much more
    mobile, dynamic and self-transformative process underlying it.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    645


    Brief preliminary partial reply:

    Although you're trying hard not to, I think you're putting the cart before the horse in placing abstract logic before the world.Joshs

    Yes, a purely subjective experiential metaphysics would be neater, and, and as you said, i wanted that, and propose it as a our local metaphysical subset. But, as a whole metaphysics, it seems to run into problems--as I was discussing--and I couldn't justify it.

    Will reply again after I study your post and its references.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    645
    That would be better, because I didn't want to believe that impersonal abstract logical facts are metaphysically fundamental.

    But then how do you explain the fact that our experience seemingly must always be logically self-consistent, never self-contradictory? Doesn't that suggest that logic is really in charge? ...that underlying logical rules govern our experience?

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Joshs
    20
    They did emerge from a living world context, but when we engage with that world in an attempt to understand it , we are participating in the further evolution of that world rather than representing it. There are better and worse ways of doing this, that is, more or less adaptive constructions, but they don't amount to a View from Nowhere onto a pre-existing substrate. The paychologist George Kelly said the question isn't whether reality exists but what we can make of it.
    So I think the universe is an infinite development that we are participants in via our inquiries into its ( and our) nature. And I think that our successive attempts to understand it result in ways of engagement(for knowledge is an activity)that allow us to see the world in terms of regulaties and consistencies that are more and more integral and at the same time more differentiated. It's a very different notion than Newton's static clockwork universe composed of arbitrarily assigned parts in relationship.
  • Joshs
    20


    It's true that
    To me it's not a question of logical consistency in the formal sense, but of self-consistency, of the relative inferential compatibility of new experience with our system of understanding.
    A new event that appears inconsistent with our way of making sense of things will be handled in a number of ways. We can find a way to modify our previous understanding such as to make the challenging event consistent with our values. Or we can try and force the abberant meaning to comply with what we think it should mean. This usually doesn't end well. Or we can be left in a situation of crisis.
    When we encounter experience that is wholy outside our ability to make sense of it, to accomdate our system of understanding to make room for it, we simply are unable to assimilate it. Our negative emotions respresent these sorts of transitional phases in our experience, when our world threatens to become chaotic and incoherent. Some psychologies argue that we do incorporate conflicting ideas and then cope with this by hiding from ourselves the internal conflict(cognitive dissonance, Freudian repression).
  • Joshs
    20
    Maybe at this point we should ask what we want the term 'real' to do for us. And I suppose also the concept 'physical'. Do either of these notions become become disturbed if I bring into the discussion the idea that memory is itself a reconstruction, that there is no such thing as veridical memory, and therefore we do t have access to a trailing order of pasts that we can line up and study?
    By this way of thinking our past is actually in front of us in a way not unlike the present. Each past that we recollect is in a sense a fresh past, and points ahead of us. Recall is always for some future-oriented purpose of ours, so it is anticipatory.
    If you buy into this , I think the lesson it teaches is that notions like physical and real can still be seen as providing constraints on the free play of our conceptualizations( there is SOMETHING that we are trying to adapt our ideas to, and reference to this something can tell us if we are succeeding or failing). But
    if memory itself isn't just a veridical
    internal carrying of external objects via symbolization, but an inseparable component of a relational complex of the experience of the present, an experience that is at every moment disturbing our sense of past as well as present, then we may want to reimagine physical as more radically relational than traditionally assumed.
  • Janus
    4k
    They did emerge from a living world context, but when we engage with that world in an attempt to understand it , we are participating in the further evolution of that world rather than representing it.Joshs

    Obviously we can only represent the world as it is presented to our senses. Bur if we believe language has emerged and evolved in the context of a living world then it would seem to be reasonable to expect that languages (including mathematics) as natural products, should reflect the structures and characteristics of that living world.

    If not then philosophy and discussion and any intellectual activity that purports to be of more than a merely practical nature would seem to be empty and pointless.
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    The basic idea is that what we experience moment to moment is not objects in the world, and it's not yet objects of thought. It's qualitative variations of meaning. The psychologist George Kelly defines our perceiving of the world in terms of constructs. A construct is simply a way in which two things(meanings) are alike and differ from a third. To be awake and experiencing the world is to be always construing. And to be construing is always to be construing something new, and slightly different from what came before. Piaget had a similar notion. He said that to experience something is to assimilate it into one's system of understanding. But at the same time it is to accommodate ones system of understanding to the unique aspects of what it is that one is assimilating. So, assimilation always implies accommodation.Joshs

    (Y) I think similar ideas are found in Varela and Maturana’s work on embodied cognition. What you’re saying makes a lot of sense to me.
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    In my view, "numbers" are abstract concepts that exist in the mind. Ontologically, they exist as particular mental abstracts in the form of brain processes. That means that "numbers" are dependent on minds; they are not independent of minds. If that were so, then that would obviously mean they exist extra-mentally.numberjohnny5

    This is obviously a very complex issue, but one response is to equate numbers with brain processes is a form of category mistake. Obviously, one needs a brain - and presumably a hominid brain! - to recognise numbers and perform arithmetical operations. But the same operations can be outsourced to a variety of different devices, other than brains. And in studying brains themselves, there are major obstacles in understanding the relationship of neural events and such elements of rational thought as number, logic, language, syntax, and so on.

    The Western rationalist tradition would say something like, numbers exist independently of any particular mind, but they are only perceptible by an intelligence capable of counting. In that way they're dependent on mind in one sense - in the sense of only being perceptible by a mind - but independent of it, in the sense of being the same for anyone who can count.

    So saying that 'numbers are dependent on the brain' (which is actually what you have said, not 'mind') doesn't really say anything. It just safely puts the whole issue into the category of 'things we'll figure out when we understand better how the brain works'.
  • numberjohnny5
    78
    What do you mean; an anti-realist in what sense? I don't believe numbers are 'out there' floating about in some 'realm' if that is what you mean. But I do believe natural complexes are real, and that they instantiate number (multiplicity and difference).Janus

    Sure. I should have asked instead "are you an anti-realist with regards to abstract/conceptual objects, like mathematical abstract objects like "numbers...'out there' floating about in some 'realm'".
  • numberjohnny5
    78
    This is obviously a very complex issue, but one response is to equate numbers with brain processes is a form of category mistake.Wayfarer

    Just to clarify, by "numbers" I take it you mean abstract concepts like "2", equations, and the like?

    But the same operations can be outsourced to a variety of different devices, other than brains.Wayfarer

    The materials of "different devices" would not be brains though. That's an important ontological distinction. A calculator or operating system might "deal with" numbers, but in a different way than brains do.

    And in studying brains themselves, there are major obstacles in understanding the relationship of neural events and such elements of rational thought as number, logic, language, syntax, and so on.Wayfarer

    We know some of the elements, locations and processes involved with regards to brains processing "number, logic, language, syntax", etc. We don't need to know more than that, in my opinion, in order to realise that brains are different than non-brains processing stuff like numbers, logic, etc.

    So saying that 'numbers are dependent on the brain' (which is actually what you have said, not 'mind') doesn't really say anything.Wayfarer

    The mind is identical with the brain, in my view.

    It just safely puts the whole issue into the category of 'things we'll figure out when we understand better how the brain works'.Wayfarer

    As I said, there's no need to or no good reason to withold the view that the brain processes stuff like numbers.

    Another way I like to think about it is that arithmetic is a system of language (in the broadest sense) in which abstracts like "number" play a part, according to particular axioms. Any abstract number wouldn't make sense without at least some rough axiomatic system. Axiomatic systems are not extra-mental.
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    Just to clarify,numberjohnny5

    By number, I mean real numbers.

    The mind is identical with the brain, in my view.numberjohnny5

    I guessed.

    I think it’s a mistake to believe that you can explain numbers and the like. Mathematics is one of the main ways in which explanations can be found for all manner of things - almost anything that can be quantified, really. But explaining number is a notoriously difficult thing to do.

    What I don’t think your account allows for, is the ability of mathematical reasoning to predict otherwise unknowable things. I mean, you can’t do that just using language. It’s the fact that mathematical concepts and operations seem to have an uncanny correspondence with nature that gives mathematics what Eugene Wigner called it’s ‘unreasonable effectiveness’ and predictive ability. There are quite a few examples of discoveries falling out of mathematical physics that were predicted just by the maths - Dirac’s discovery of anti-matter is a classic example, not to mention the many predictions that came out of relativity.
  • numberjohnny5
    78
    I think it’s a mistake to believe that you can explain numbers and the like. Mathematics is one of the main ways in which explanations can be found for all manner of things - almost anything that can be quantified, really. But explaining number is a notoriously difficult thing to do.Wayfarer

    Well "explanation" is subjective, and individuals have different criteria as to what counts as an explanation. I think that's where some of the dissatisfaction, disagreement, or non-conclusivity comes from.

    What I don’t think your account allows for, is the ability of mathematical reasoning to predict otherwise unknowable things. I mean, you can’t do that just using language. It’s the fact that mathematical concepts and operations seem to have an uncanny correspondence with nature that gives mathematics what Eugene Wigner called it’s ‘unreasonable effectiveness’ and predictive ability. There are quite a few examples of discoveries falling out of mathematical physics that were predicted just by the maths - Dirac’s discovery of anti-matter is a classic example, not to mention the many predictions that came out of relativityWayfarer

    I'm an anti-realist with regards to mathematical (abstract) objects, but I tend to take an instrumentalist approach to mathematics. So mathematical concepts or theories can be useful in making predictions about phenomena, but that doesn't necessarily mean I make ontological commitments to everything those theories posit.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2.9k
    Maybe at this point we should ask what we want the term 'real' to do for us. And I suppose also the concept 'physical'. Do either of these notions become become disturbed if I bring into the discussion the idea that memory is itself a reconstruction, that there is no such thing as veridical memory, and therefore we do t have access to a trailing order of pasts that we can line up and study?
    By this way of thinking our past is actually in front of us in a way not unlike the present. Each past that we recollect is in a sense a fresh past, and points ahead of us. Recall is always for some future-oriented purpose of ours, so it is anticipatory.
    Joshs

    I agree with this way of describing memory, it is not veridical. But I think we assume that there is something "real" which the memory refers to. And this is how I would define "real", as what we assume as the veridical, the truth, what some call objective reality. In the case of the past, it is what we assume to have occurred regardless of whether or not it was observed, interpreted, or remembered. At the same time though, we must grant some reality to what is referred to in anticipation. I do not think that just because there is an assumed veridical necessity in "what actually happened", and a lack of such necessity in "what will happen", that things of the past can be said to be more real than things of the future. In relation to myself, who is a being at the present, things of the past, and things of the future, appear to be equally unreal; so if I grant to the past, in the form of an assumption, some sort of reality, I have no reason not to assume some sort of reality for the future as well. Therefore I assume that past and future things are equally "real".

    But
    if memory itself isn't just a veridical
    internal carrying of external objects via symbolization, but an inseparable component of a relational complex of the experience of the present, an experience that is at every moment disturbing our sense of past as well as present, then we may want to reimagine physical as more radically relational than traditionally assumed.
    Joshs

    The meaning of "physical" is much more difficult, because it is as you say, relational. Exactly what is related to what varies greatly depending on usage, and may be quite difficult to understand, especially when the description is mathematical. So let me start with the most simple primitive set of relations, derived from the basic meaning of "physical", which is "of the body". I believe "the body" is a concept derived from relating past points of memory. Past memories indicate that there is something which remains the same, consistent, as time passes. I look around me when I get up in the morning and things are pretty much the same as they were yesterday morning. This consistency of things, which we apprehend by relating past points, is what Aristotle explained in his Physics with the concept of matter.

    The existence of matter accounts for things remaining the same as time passes, and it is fundamental to the existence of the body, because the body provides that fundamental unchanging aspect of reality, which we infer is real, from relating the points of past memory. The unchangingness of the body, which is validated by the concept of matter, is taken for granted in Newton's first law of motion. It becomes "inertia". Through this concept, the related points of the past, held by memory and assumed to be supported by the real, are projected into the future, such that the the body is successfully predicted to maintain its course of existence through anticipated points of the future. What Newton states, is that this projection will occur necessarily, unless there is a "force" which interferes.

    So we now have a second type of relation, the relation between the body and the force. Notice how the force is what interferes with the temporal consistency assigned to matter. Necessity and normalcy are assigned to the temporal consistency, and this is only broken by the force. The key point in understanding the force, I believe, is that it will only occur at the present. The force acts to break the continuity between the mapped points of the past, and the future projected points. This can only occur at the present. Therefore "the force" is inherently contrary to "the body", and in many ways it would be best to understand "the force" as non-physical.

    However, in the study of physics, bodies are described as interacting. They interfere with each other's continued existence in time (inertia) and this must be accounted for. So the temporal existence of a body, its inertia, (its mapped past points), may be converted to force, in order to model its interference with the temporal existence of other bodies. But as described above, there is an inherent incompatibility between the body and the force, so the expressions are in some way incommensurable. The physical "body" is a representation of the continuity derived from the past points of time, the non-physical "force" is the representation of a change assigned to the present moment. That is why there is a significant difference between inertia and momentum, which philosophers need to respect. The difference is acceleration, which is essential to force, but incompatible with inertia.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    645


    I sometimes suggest that it would be impossible to prove that a world or a life-experience story is inconsistent, because there could always be some un-discovered physics that will consistently explain something that presently seems inconsistent.
    .
    …as was the case with the black-body wavelength-energy curve, the Michaelson-Morely experiment result, the planet Mercury’s anomalous rotation of apsides, etc.
    .
    And now there’s the apparent acceleration of the recession-speed of the more distant galaxies. Past experience suggests that there’s a system of physics that will make it consistent with currently-known physical facts.
    .
    But say your house is locked and sealed, and you look away from the tv for just a second, and when you look back, there’s a Bengal tiger in the room in front of you. It just appeared in the second during which you looked away. Suppose things like that are happening all the time.
    .
    Arthur Clarke said that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Sure, but what if blatant inconsistencies like that were happening all the time, in everyday life? …and not just at the frontiers of physics, because there isn’t any evident consistent physics in the first place.
    .
    You’d have no reason to believe that a particular apparent inconsistency will later be shown consistent with previously-known things. The most reasonable presumption would be that the world, or your life-experience , is inconsistent. Of course you could always explain it by hallucination or amnesia, I guess…if you already had some reason to believe that the world is consistent in the first place.
    .
    An organism couldn’t survive in an inconsistent world? Of course it can, in a cartoon for example. The survival of an observer might seem inconsistent with an inconsistent world, but there’d be no reason to expect that consistency either.
    .
    But the world seems consistent. The relatively few seeming inconsistencies have shown a tendency to be explained by new physics.
    .
    So why should the world/experience be so self-consistent?
    .
    That’s why I said that it seems as if logic is in charge of experience.
    ----------------------------
    I’m going to read more of or about what was said by the authors that you named in your previous post. Maybe I’ll be able to understand the kind of metaphysics that they’re proposing. But it sounds complicated, and a metaphysics that’s more complicated, with unnecessarily-many complicated rules, is harder to justify.
    -----------------------------
    You seemed to be agreeing with that position that says that logic is secondary to minds.
    .
    But if there’s human-like life on another planet, in this or any universe, then mathematics is the same for them as for us (…though of course they might pursue some different areas of mathematics—in addition to some same ones.).
    .
    Logic too. Those things aren’t subject to the whims of minds.
    .
    …and if that human-like life is reasonably nearby in this universe, then they’ll find the same laws of physics too.
    .
    Anyway, even aside from that, I don’t understand how anyone can say that logic is only the result of minds.
    .
    “If all Slithytoves are brillig, and all Jabberwockeys are Slithytoves, then all Jabberwockies are brillig.”
    .
    Of course that inevitable if-then fact is true even if neither of its premises is true, and even if there are no Jabberwockeys or Slithytoves.
    .
    It can be shown that if the additive associative axiom of the real numbers (…and of the rationals and the integers) is true, then 2+2=4.
    .
    (…with a reasonable obvious definition of 1, 2, 3 & 4 in terms of the multiplicative identity and addition.)
    .
    That would be true even if there were no sentient beings. Even then it could be said (if there were anyone to say it) that if the additive associative axiom is true, and if there were someone to count, and some objects to count, and, if he put 2 objects next to 2 other objects, then there would be 4 objects together there.
    .
    It’s an inevitable if-then fact.
    .
    It’s evident that this universe’s mathematical physical laws have been operating for billions of years (unchanged, or nearly so, in recent billions of years, in our part of this universe), long before there were any minds. Mathematics is a logical subject. Logic evidently has been valid all that time too.
    .
    Abstract if-then facts don’t, for their validity, need anything external to them. Likewise a system of inter-referring abstract if-then facts.
    .
    As I said, among the infinity-many complex systems of inter-referring abstract if-then facts about hypotheticals, there inevitably is one that matches the events and relations of this “physical” universes. There’s no reason to believe that this universe is other than that.
    .
    Materialism, or any other relatively complicated or unexplained metaphysical theory, could of course also obtain, alongside, and duplicating the events and relations of, that logical system, but it would be an unverifiable and unfalsifiable proposition—and , at least in the case of Materialism, a brute-fact.

    Our experience is a phenomenon and an inevitable possibility-story within that infinite set of complex logical systems.
    .
    Anyway, I’ll look up those authors you referred to, and their metaphysicses.
    .
    Michael Ossipoff
    .
    To me it's not a question of logical consistency in the formal sense, but of self-consistency, of the relative inferential compatibility of new experience with our system of understanding.
    A new event that appears inconsistent with our way of making sense of things will be handled in a number of ways. We can find a way to modify our previous understanding such as to make the challenging event consistent with our values. Or we can try and force the abberant meaning to comply with what we think it should mean. This usually doesn't end well. Or we can be left in a situation of crisis.
    When we encounter experience that is wholy outside our ability to make sense of it, to accomdate our system of understanding to make room for it, we simply are unable to assimilate it. Our negative emotions respresent these sorts of transitional phases in our experience, when our world threatens to become chaotic and incoherent. Some psychologies argue that we do incorporate conflicting ideas and then cope with this by hiding from ourselves the internal conflict(cognitive dissonance, Freudian repression).
  • Qurious
    20

    That doesn't mean that our math is t useful to us, just that there's nothing platonic about it. It's a device like any other we invent.

    Personally I don't cling to the idea that number is 'Platonic' or even that it exists independent of mind, I'd agree with you in saying that it is a device of our own invention, and therefore there is nothing overly surprising about it's 'correspondence' to observed truth.
    I think it is quite amazing we have developed such an intricate system for modelled understanding and utilised it in the way we have.

    Proportion (as opposed to number) describes "a part or share in comparison to a whole", and is the fundamental basis for mathematical relationships.
    It doesn't have to be Platonic or absolute, and it's not important that it wouldn't conceptually exist without our minds to process it, because the same can be said of any conceptual thought or even the standard conception of reality we refer to as delineating perceived Truth.
    Proportion is a measurable relationship, and number is a means of conceptualising proportion.

    Both may be conceptions of the human mind, and therefore contingent upon the mind rather than necessary without it, but dismissing the marvels of human conceptual thought on the grounds that it is merely an insignificant byproduct of our experience is a perspective that heavily overlooks the intrinsic value of conceptual thought as an essential, functional and referable tool that is one of our greatest assets.
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    Well "explanation" is subjective, and individuals have different criteria as to what counts as an explanation.numberjohnny5

    That's sure a get-out-of-jail-free card, for anything whatever. 'Works for me!'
  • numberjohnny5
    78
    That's sure a get-out-of-jail-free card, for anything whatever. 'Works for me!'Wayfarer

    First off, it's a fact that "explanations" are subjective. There are no objective criteria for what counts as a correct/incorrect or right/wrong "explanation".

    Secondly, it's not simply a dismissive and self-reinforcing belief with regards to explanations serving my (or anyone's) needs, as you seem to believe. For example, it's not as if I haven't been challenged on my views; it's not as if I haven't developed my views that support my explanations. For me, it comes down to whether the reasoning for my views is "good" (which is also subjective). It's not as if you would be excluded/exempt from this fact; in other words, it's not as if you don't think "works for me!" with regards to your "good" reasons and explanations.
  • tom
    1.1k
    First off, it's a fact that "explanations" are subjective. There are no objective criteria for what counts as a correct/incorrect or right/wrong "explanation".numberjohnny5

    I'm sorry, but there are objective criteria regarding what makes a good explanation, and what makes one explanation better than the other. In fact, we have a rather well-developed method for deciding between explanations. It's called science.

    Here's the objective criterion as to whether an explanation is good/bad: An explanation is good/bad if it is hard/easy to vary while still accounting for what it purports to account for.
  • numberjohnny5
    78
    I'm sorry, but there are objective criteria regarding what makes a good explanation, and what makes one explanation better than the other. In fact, we have a rather well-developed method for deciding between explanations. It's called science.

    Here's the objective criterion as to whether an explanation is good/bad: An explanation is good/bad if it is hard/easy to vary while still accounting for what it purports to account for.
    tom

    I agree that criteria can exist objectively in the sense of text or sounds. But the source of the criteria comes from minds. And again, what makes something "good" or "bad" re evaluative claims is subjective. Adhering to "objective criteria" (in the sense that I'm using) doesn't necessarily correlate with the criteria getting ontological facts right. That's why I tend to use an instrumentalist approach, at least with respect to unobservables and strictly mathematical theories.
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