• apokrisis
    3.9k
    No, I actually think both internalism and externalism are wrongheaded.Janus

    And yet it is externalist language you keep using against my account.

    Just calling any explanation "wrong" is a sound tactic I guess. But you could instead put forward some clear story on what you might in fact believe here.

    If it is neither internalism nor externalism, what is it?
  • Wayfarer
    6k
    Well, what interests me is the rationalist argument against materialism. It's not simply 'mystical' or 'religious' but it is continually treated as such, because it is often associated with Christian apologetics. But at the time that the Platonist arguments were framed, they weren't actually Christian at all, but were then incorporated into theology by an ascendant Christianity. So because of this association, it then becomes pidgeon-holed or dealt with as 'poetic' or 'mystical' or 'subjective', which is a way of cordoning it off.
  • Janus
    5.2k
    And yet it is externalist language you keep using against my account.apokrisis

    I haven't been arguing against your account at all, but asking questions about it so that I can gain an understanding of exactly what it is proposing.
  • Janus
    5.2k


    The problem is that rationalist arguments against materialism presuppose an impoverished notion of the physical that should have been dispensed with long ago. With a process notion of the physical, one that incorporates experience at all levels, there is no need for transcendental or platonic realms over and above the cosmos. I think you would benefit from reading some Whitehead.
  • Janus
    5.2k
    If it is neither internalism nor externalism, what is it?apokrisis

    I would go for a kind of "flat' ontology, where there is no absolute distinction between inner and outer, higher and lower. That's why I often argue with you that we are not exhaustively socially constructed, because to say that is to valorize a kind of anthropocentric internalism that denies that our experience is in the world, of the world and mediated by the world.

    Of course that is not to say that things cannot be internal or external to other things in a relative sense.
  • Wayfarer
    6k
    I think you would benefit form reading some Whitehead.Janus

    Thank you for the recommendation. As it happens I am awaiting Amazon delivery of The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition James Matthew Wilson.

    Ours is an age full of desires but impoverished in its understanding of where those desires lead―an age that claims mastery over the world but also claims to find the world as a whole absurd or unintelligible. ...

    The ancient conception of human life as a pilgrimage to beauty itself is one that we can fully embrace only if we see the essential correlation between reason and story, and the essential convertibility of truth, goodness and beauty.

    to valorize a kind of anthropocentric internalismJanus

    Hey you're sounding like SLX :-)
  • Janus
    5.2k
    Hey you're sounding like SLX :-)Wayfarer

    I didn't think we had that much in common. I rarely receive any response at all when I comment in his threads! You know I have long been interested in Whitehead; well I am currently reading Without Criteria Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze and Aesthetics by Steven Shapiro, which, like another book I have been slowly digesting over the last year or so: Thinking With Whitehead by Isabelle Stengers finds many commonalities between Deleuze and Whitehead. I am much more familiar with Whitehead than Deleuze, but I know Deleuze is a favourite of StreetlightX's, so perhaps there is some shared ground after all.

    As it happens I am awaiting Amazon delivery of The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition James Matthew Wilson.Wayfarer

    Well, I hope it is a work rich in poetic insights for you! :cool: :wink:
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    I would go for a kind of "flat' ontology, where there is no absolute distinction between inner and outer, higher and lower. That's why I often argue with you that we are not exhaustively socially constructed, because to say that is to valorize a kind of anthropocentric internalism that denies that our experience is in the world, or the world and mediated by the world.Janus

    So it seems you want the benefits of my structured system without having to commit to the notion of that structure. It is to be left "flat". That is vague and beyond contradictions. :)

    Look, my internalism is explicitly the triadic internalism of Peirce and not the dualistic internalism of Kantian representationalism. Peirce was trying to fix the issues with Kantianism (and Hegelism), while being quite scornful of Cartesianism.

    So yes, it is not "flat" but comes with clear triadic structure. And remember that Peircean semiotics cashes out in ontological pansemiosis.

    The internalism might start as the psychological or epistemic reality. But the speculative metaphysical claim (increasingly in accordance with what the physics says) is that the Cosmos itself bootstraps into being via ontic semiosis.

    The anthropomorphic story of the human semiotic condition is that we are "modelling the world with us in it". So we are now beyond simple realism and even indirect representationalism in seeing our own selves, as observers, arising along with the umwelt that is our field of observables, the set of signs by which we relate to the actual world as the thing-in-itself.

    The dualism is replaced by a trichotomy where the "self" is found in the same place as the "world" is found - both being the complementary aspects of the mediating system of signs that emerges with habitual definiteness in the middle.

    The usual assumption is that nature would want some kind of direct veridical connection between consciousness and reality. Our view of the world should be faithful to its reality. But the psychological evidence already tells us that we want to be able to ignore the actual world so as to be able to live in a world of our own creative invention - the world where we are freely choosing beings able to impose our own desires and forms on its inert materiality. And so that is the kind of umwelt we have to develop. A world that is fit for that kind of self. A system of habitual signs is how we construct this mediating tale.

    And then - pansemiotically and ontically - the world would also be understood as "a model with itself in it". It becomes a self, an enduring and autonomous state of affairs, by developing a structure of habits that represent it. It develops laws that encode what it means to be "the Universe". It becomes a system of constraints expressing the purpose of being "that thing" until it safely reaches the very end of time.

    So I am certainly not denying the world. Pansemiosis is an attempt to explain the world in the exact same terms we would explain ourselves.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k
    And so you burble on and on....apokrisis

    As Uber said, just like a broken record. At least I am consistent, unlike your incoherent babbling.
  • Janus
    5.2k
    So I am certainly not denying the world. Pansemiosis is an attempt to explain the world in the exact same terms we would explain ourselves.apokrisis

    But that is just what I would understand by "flat ontology" or actually an even flatter ontology than what I would recommend, because I do not think we can be exhaustively understood in the same way as the rest of the world, (and I wonder whether the world be properly understood in terms of the way we understand ourselves, that is in terms of intentionality). I mean animals cannot be exhaustively understood in terms of chemistry, yet perhaps the difference is of degree not of kind. So we might impute a kind of proto-intentionality or proto-experientaility to the physical, but nonetheless that might not help us in physics, for example.

    Also, as i see it, to explain ourselves in the same terms we explain the world is not internalism, but if anything would be more of an externalism, if not an ultimate denial of the whole distinction, since the sign relation is not understood to begin with humans as far as I understand.
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    ...actually an even flatter ontology than what I would recommend, because I do not think we can be exhaustively understood in the same way as the rest of the world.Janus

    But I am arguing for pragmatism. So not only am I arguing against an exhaustive account, I have argued that the very logic is instead to find the account which ignores the most that it can. What we are interested in arriving at are our limits of indifference that thus give crisp definition to the "other" that is ourself.

    We exist as organisms to the degree we can take the world for granted in pursuing the desires that best define us. That is the autonomous condition towards which we strive to develop.

    Also, as i see it, to explain ourselves in the same terms we explain the world is not internalism, but if anything would be more of an externalism, if not an ultimate denial of the whole distinction, since the sign relation is not understood to begin with humans as far as I understand.Janus

    You are still setting this up dualistically. It is the inside vs the outside. The observer vs the observables.

    Internalism, in the sense I am using it, is to understand Being in terms of the triadic sign relation that produces both distinctions themselves. It is the difference between immanence/development and transcendence/creation. The observer and the observables are the splitting apart that allow the wholeness of a sign relation mediating that divide in a long-run, habitual, way.

    Inside and outside are again our names for the absolute limits within which reality itself would arise.

    So internalism certainly starts with the epistemological argument - we are trapped inside our own heads making models of a world.

    But then internalism becomes an ontology by saying all reality arises via that kind of "mindlike" relation. This opposes it to externalism which says our minds are in fact completely explainable by objective material physics ... or a transcendent creator.

    Externalism lets you pick your poison on that score. Either matter or mind is understood as the world that is larger, and so stands outside, its "other".

    As I say, internalism goes the other direction. It brings the objective and the subjective into the one world as two opposing limits in a historically mediated interaction.
  • Janus
    5.2k
    You are still setting this up dualistically. It is the inside vs the outside. The observer vs the observables.apokrisis

    So internalism certainly starts with the epistemological argument - we are trapped inside our own heads making models of a world.apokrisis

    I think this is much more of a dualistic setup than what I was proposing. Sure, you can say my way of speaking about explaining the world is dualistic, but of course we do make distinctions between ourselves and the world and we simply can't escape dualistic language. That doesn't mean we have to buy into such arch-dualistic ideas as that "we are trapped inside our own heads making models of the world"; that takes dualistic thinking to a whole other level!
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    I think this is much more of a dualistic setup than what I was proposing.Janus

    Well again, do you have a proposal that doesn't retreat back into vague indeterminism every time I give it a prod?

    You are happy to be sort of flat, but not radically flat. You are happy to be sort of dualistic, but not arch-dualistic.

    So do you see a pattern? You want the benefits of making structural assertions, yet shy away from the costs. You mount challenges based on definite distinctions that you back away from as soon as that hard line is questioned.

    A whole epistemology could of course be constructed on "treading lightly" in this fashion. It could be made to sound a good thing. Wittgenstein gets wheeled out all the time to tell us whereof one cannot speak.

    But I can only reply in terms of my own objective here - which is to push until even the vague is crisply modelled and we can arrive at some kind of happy metaphysical terminus in terms of the question, "Why anything?".
  • Janus
    5.2k
    You are happy to be sort of dualistic, but not arch-dualistic.apokrisis

    I don't think it's a matter of me being happy about it; our language is ineluctably dualistic, and of course I'm not happy to be arch-dualistic: are you?. I haven't been mounting challenges so much as asking questions. For example can the "unbridled everythingness" exist or subsist prior to the crisp somethingness of spatio-temporal existence? Does the latter emerge from the former or are they co-dependent, co-emergent? I'm just trying to get a better grip on what are your metaphysical commitments. I actually haven't stated any metaphysical commitments of my own, or even that I have any metaphysical commitments.
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    For example can the "unbridled everythingness" exist or subsist prior to the crisp somethingness of spatio-temporal existence? Does the latter emerge from the former or are they co-dependent, co-emergent?Janus

    It's something of both.

    As soon as there is any definite development towards something, it counts also as a definite move away from something. So it is co-emergent in that sense. As soon as there is enough of a history, enough of a developing story, that points in the direction of the crisp, then there is also the direction pointing away from the vague.

    Yet when this co-emergence is first the case, it is as vaguely the case as possible. It is only by the end of time that it could arrive at fully actualised crispness. So in some sense, the vague actually exists for a while before it gets supplanted. When the Big Bang first happened, it would have been so hot, so dense, that its physical state counts for something so generally vague and structureless that we might as well call it a state of actual vagueness. It was 99.99999...% vague. We can treat that as a concrete state of being which then gets dissipated by the cooling and expanding that leaves the Universe crisply flat and empty - its state at the end of time when it has hit its Heat Death.

    So this is a feature of the language being triadic. The metaphysics requires a pair of dichotomies - the developmental or diachronic one that speaks to the vague~crisp, and the developed or synchronic one that speaks to the hierarchically structure state of being organised in a definite local~global fashion.

    So two axes map the story. One tracks the emergence of crisply divided order. The other is like the cross-section view that measures just how well divided everything has become.

    At the beginning, when vagueness rules, there is no cross-section to speak of. It is like a debating the width of a point as the local and the global - that is, the local actions and the global directions - are pretty much indistinguishably the same thing. They are so unseparated that they just look like a chaotic froth of quantum fluctuations.

    But exponentially the actions and the directions move apart. You get the expansion and cooling that constructs a clear local~global separation. The froth settles and condenses into massive particles blundering around in a yawning void.

    It is this duality of the axes of description - the longitudinal view vs the cross-sectional view - which make talking about the character of the beginning so tricky. The beginning is like a now featureless point. It has the least length possible - the shortest distance separating the vague from the crisp. And also the least width possible - the shortest distance separating the local from the global.

    So it is simply the nature of triadic metaphysics that you have to be imagining a duality of dichotomous separations.

    Dyadic metaphysics is dead simple. Just apply LEM to choose option A or B.

    Or upgrade to dialectics and be mildly puzzled by a little ninja move like sublation. Thesis generates antithesis, but is resolved in synthesis, all ready to launch another spin around the same basic spiral.

    But Peirce is another level beyond. You've got the longitudinal and the cross-sectional stories of a development that says both the determinate and the indeterminate are being crisply actualised out of the same unresolved initial vague blur.

    I agree it can be very confusing. The beginning is when chance rules. You have unbriddled everythingness. But chance in any strongly constrained or determinate sense - chance as actual possibility - only emerges and achieves its fullest expression at the end of time. At the beginning, chance lacks the generality or regularity it gains later in the story. Even calling the beginning "chaotic" is an understatement as chaos is already the product of a definite set of boundary conditions.

    I actually haven't stated any metaphysical commitments of my own, or even that I have any metaphysical commitments.Janus

    Not even to Geist? Is my memory that bad?
  • Pseudonym
    907
    Because science is purportedly in the business of finding reasons.Wayfarer

    I don't think it is. I think most scientists consider themselves in the business of making testable theories. It's in the business of predicting, not explaining. I'm no expert, but my limited understanding of the methods in quantum physics (where currently one has to include an element of chance, so I'm lead to believe), is to simply include that chance mathematically. Scientists are trying to eliminate that chance element, I suppose, in order to make the theory more accurately predictive, but until that point, the 'scientific' theory simply includes probability and everyone's quite happy that they are still doing 'science'. Prediction is far more useful than reasons.

    If anything, the very deterministic nature of science leads even the most causal thinker to conclude that if we keep asking "why?", we must obviously arrive at either an infinite task or the answer "just because". So any scientists who did think that they were one day going to arrive at the ultimate reason why would be deluded indeed.

    The positing of chance as cause doesn't seem to me to amount to either an hypothesis or a metaphysical principle.Wayfarer

    Firstly, a minor correction, it's not chance as cause, chance can't cause something, it's an expression of the lack of determinism. The Physicalist position as I understand it is simply that our most useful theory for the creation of the universe at the moment is that it just is. It's most useful because it leaves open all routes of investigation as to the next most proximate cause, whilst accepting that there are limits to what we can find out empirically about conditions before the universe began (I'm using 'before' in a causal sense here, as I think it's possible that even time did not exist before the universe began, but my physics definitely gets hazy here, as well it should. To paraphrase Feynman, anyone who thinks they understand that level of physics certainly doesn't). So what is it about suggesting that a thing simply exists without (for now) a determinable cause, that you think precludes it from the set of 'hypotheses' or 'metaphysical principles'. why are you placing constraints on what is allowed as a metaphysical proposition?

    The argument in the book I mentioned is there are a very small number - 6 - of natural relationships and ratios inherent in the nature of the Cosmos that have a very specific value, which, were they different in some minute degree, would entail that matter would not form at all. But if you view the Universe as a grand simulation, something which can be mathematically modelled, then these parameters seem very specifically set for such an outcome.Wayfarer

    So this is the exact point I'm making. That is not an argument, it's a statement of facts. It's simply the statement that the 6 parameters are set exactly the way they need to be set in order to develop life. The bit that's implied in your argument (and yet missing any evidence), is..."and that's really unlikely to have happened without some reason". But the point I'm making is that we have no justification at all for thinking it's unlikely. We have no other universes to compare ours to and say "look at all these other universes, ours is so unique", ours just is, that's all we know about it. People arguing for the Strong Anthropic Principle are taking the unwarranted step of saying that because it is possible to conceive of a universe where the numbers are different, ours is an unlikely outcome. What I'm saying is that it is possible to conceive of a situation where the fair die that I'm throwing will suddenly morph into an icosahedron. That does not now make the probability of my throwing a 1 1:20. I can conceive of a million possible things that could happen when I throw the die, my probability of getting a 1 is not now 1:1,000,000. Probability, as we normally use it, is about comparing the event to known alternatives (landing on one of the other five faces). As we currently have no other known alternatives, the chances of our universe being the way it is are currently 100%, so the theory that it just is this way is a perfectly rational one.
  • tom
    1.5k
    I don't think it is. I think most scientists consider themselves in the business of making testable theories. It's in the business of predicting, not explaining. I'm no expert, but my limited understanding of the methods in quantum physics (where currently one has to include an element of chance, so I'm lead to believe), is to simply include that chance mathematically. Scientists are trying to eliminate that chance element, I suppose, in order to make the theory more accurately predictive, but until that point, the 'scientific' theory simply includes probability and everyone's quite happy that they are still doing 'science'. Prediction is far more useful than reasons.Pseudonym

    This recent paper on quantum mechanics should clarify the matter for you. Science is about explanation.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1508.02048

    If anything, the very deterministic nature of science leads even the most causal thinker to conclude that if we keep asking "why?", we must obviously arrive at either an infinite task or the answer "just because". So any scientists who did think that they were one day going to arrive at the ultimate reason why would be deluded indeed.Pseudonym

    The laws of nature are deterministic, and yes, knowledge seeking is an infinite task, and we are always at the beginning of it. Here's a book about that very subject.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-beginning-of-infinity-explanations-that-transform-the-world-by-david-deutsch-2258470.html

    Firstly, a minor correction, it's not chance as cause, chance can't cause something, it's an expression of the lack of determinism.Pseudonym

    You are right, there are no stochastic processes in nature. Here's a video about it.

  • Pseudonym
    907
    This recent paper on quantum mechanics should clarify the matter for you. Science is about explanation.tom

    I appreciate the links. You seem, as in a lot of your posts, to be confusing "David Deutch says..." with "it is the case that...". All I read in the paper you've provided is Deutch (with far more humility than you're citing him with) saying things like "I present an account of...", and "in this view...". Absolutely no where does he say "This is the way things are and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong". So no, I don't accept your contention that science is about explanation on the basis of a single paper in which the author himself admits that he is only presenting "an" account not "the" account.
  • tom
    1.5k
    I appreciate the links. You seem, as in a lot of your posts, to be confusing "David Deutch says..." with "it is the case that...". All I read in the paper you've provided is Deutch (with far more humility than you're citing him with) saying things like "I present an account of...", and "in this view...". Absolutely no where does he say "This is the way things are and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong". So no, I don't accept your contention that science is about explanation on the basis of a single paper in which the author himself admits that he is only presenting "an" account not "the" account.Pseudonym

    I see. I show you in the most striking way that science is exclusively about explanation, a fact that you deny, and you chide me because I lack humility? I'll take straight talking over willful misconception any day.

    Since the inception of the Scientific Method, explanation has been central to science. Popper even tried to develop a mathematical theory of explanatory depth in his "Logic of Scientific Discovery".

    Deutsch a particularly interesting case. He is a practicing Popperian, a world-ranking physicist who has made perhaps the only advance in the philosophy of science since Popper. I make no apologies for citing his discoveries.
  • Pattern-chaser
    66
    Any computer program can be correctly and accurately described as a collection of bytes, but it doesn't matter. — Pattern-chaser

    It can't...
    tom

    I am disappointed to discover that 32 years of designing and building programs did not leave me with a proper understanding of what they are. But, as I said, it doesn't matter. Focussing on my analogy, which is clearly not to your taste, ignores the simple point I am making:

    the conceptual difference between the mind and the brain is just too big for humans to usefully span.

    Let's try another analogy, to illustrate the point. I could accurately refer to your car as a collection of quarks. But if we wish to understand your car in the context of it being a means of transport, thinking of it as a quark collection is not in any way useful or helpful, even though it is perfectly accurate and correct.
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