• Janus
    5.2k


    If there is real difference then things are already differentiated. And they are therefore also individuated.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k

    OK, let's assume that there is an act of differentiation which is responsible for real differences as a cause of differences, as you suggest, such that we can say "if there is difference there is already differentiation". Do you agree that this is a different use of "differentiate", with a different meaning, than the way that I used it to describe the act by which human beings differentiate?

    Now our subject is "individuation", not "differentiation", and my claim is that human beings individuate through the act of differentiation. So all you have done is produced an argument from equivocation. You have given a different meaning to "differentiation" in an attempt to mislead me.

    The logical association between individuation and differentiation requires that we define the words in my way, as human acts, such that the human act of individuation requires the human act of differentiation. You are referring to a different type of differentiation, so your conclusion "they are therefore also individuated" does not follow. It is a conclusion produced by equivocation. You have not established that differences constitute individuals without a human act of individuation. Nor have you established any relationship between differences and individuals. The only relationship between differences and individuals, which we have to go on is the one which I refer to as the human act of individuation.

    Furthermore, individuation requires differentiation, but differentiation does not necessitate individuation. Differences do not necessarily constitute different individuals. There can be differences which are not differences of individuals So it is impossible to conclude that if there is differentiation therefore there is individuation, as you do. Therefore your argument is non sequitur in two distinct ways. Clearly it is you who is trying to put forward some sophistry.
  • Janus
    5.2k


    If all you are arguing about is the use of the words, then I would say, as i already have, that your use is less in accordance with convention. But, that would not be an interesting argument, anyway. The salient point is that there is real difference, differentiation, individuation or whatever you want to call it, which is independent of the human mind, and which we are pre-cognitively affected by. The further point is that this pre-cognitive difference is prior to identity, which is obviously a cognitive development of this pre-cognitive affection.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k

    Well, clearly differentiation is something completely different from individuation. As I explained to Streetlight, individuation requires boundaries in order that there are separate individuals. A difference between my head and my torso doesn't make these separate individuals. So individuation cannot be reduced to differentiation because individuation requires the assumption of boundaries between the differences to justify the assumption of "individuals" as distinct objects.

    This is the issue with the sorites paradox, and its relation to mereological nihilism. Are you familiar with this issue? It doesn't suffice, as a metaphysical principle, to simply assume that objects, as individuals, have existence, this assumption must be justified by demonstrating the real existence of boundaries.

    .
  • Janus
    5.2k
    A difference between my head and my torso doesn't make these separate individuals.Metaphysician Undercover

    Why can the head and torso not be considered as individual components or processes of the body? Of course they are not radically separate, but why should that matter? The point is that all differentiation presupposes, consists in, real individual differences. All things, all processes are interconnected in more or less attenuated ways.

    All boundaries and interdependencies are "porous", not absolute. But that does not entail that boundaries and interdependencies are merely arbitrary. Using your example, the question is 'What is it that allows and enables you to non-arbitrarily distinguish between your head as a whole and your torso as another whole?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k
    Why can the head and torso not be considered as individual components or processes of the body?Janus

    Each, the head, the torso, and the unity, can be considered as individuals. That's my point, individuation is how we judge things. One way of judging might say that the head and torso are not individuals, another might say that they are.

    The point is that all differentiation presupposes, consists in, real individual differences.Janus

    I don't know what you would mean by "real individual differences" here. I can see how you would claim that a difference is real, but on what principle would you claim that a difference is individual? When we judge differences we refer to general principles, and these are not particulars or individuals, they are universals. So when we say that the difference between X and Y is as such, this is not an "individual" difference, it is a general type of difference. This is simply how we describe things, in general terms of description.

    All boundaries and interdependencies are "porous", not absolute. But that does not entail that boundaries and interdependencies are merely arbitrary. Using your example, the question is 'What is it that allows and enables you to non-arbitrarily distinguish between your head as a whole and your torso as another whole?Janus

    Remember, I keep having to remind you that I am not arguing that individuation is arbitrary. Of course we have reasons for the way that we individuate. So the fact that we individuate, and I think this is indeed a fact, does not mean that individuation is arbitrary.

    And, as you yourself say, boundaries are "not absolute", and this allows us to place the boundaries where we see fit. And it is the placing of boundaries which is what individuation is. Since we can place the boundaries where we see fit, we have to ask whether there are any real boundaries other than the ones we place. If there are no boundaries other than the ones we place, then there is no individuation other than what we do.
  • Janus
    5.2k
    I can see how you would claim that a difference is real, but on what principle would you claim that a difference is individual?Metaphysician Undercover

    Every difference is individual insofar as it is not exactly the same as any other difference. So, I argue that differentiation is a real phenomenon; the differentiation of cells in the development of organic beings is an example. To be differentiated just is to be individuated I would say. (Although in some instances for example some fundamental particles) there may be no individual differences, except for the spatio-temporal).

    Of course we can say that, for example, the head and torso are not individuals, but rather the body is, and the grounds for saying that would be that the body is an organic unity that depends on both head and torso for its existence. (Although, of course, in the future this may turn out to not be the case).

    But then looked at from another perspective the body is not separate from everything else; so we might have a case for claiming that even the body is not really individuated. But again, this holds only if we expect boundaries to be absolute. The fact that boundaries are more or less permeable does not contradict the reality of individuation; a reality which is independent of human judgement, unless our judgements be merely arbitrary.

    We should acknowledge, though, that this real differentiation or individuation is virtual, in that it is something that affects us pre-cognitively, and is in fact the basis, for any of our judgements of individuation.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k
    Every difference is individual insofar as it is not exactly the same as any other difference.Janus

    Different means not the same, unlike, and "a difference" is an instance of this. As such, "difference" is a general term, it doesn't refer to an individual thing, nor does it refer to a particular. So there is no means by which we can say that a difference is individual. Nor can we say that any difference is not exactly the same as any other difference, unless they are judged as being different.. That is because "difference" is conceptual, it is a judgement of different. So each difference is essentially the same, in so far as each is an instance of judgement of unlike. The difference between 3 and 5 is the same as the difference between 7 and 9. Each is 2.

    And there are many other instances in which two distinct instances of difference can be said to be the same difference. That is simply the way that we judge differences, by comparing them to other instances of difference to see if they are the same difference or a different difference. The same difference cannot be excluded. Temporal differences are another good example. An increment of time is the same difference, but it could occur at any time, thus being a different instance of the same difference. So we have no logical means to conclude that two instances of difference are necessarily not the same. In fact that goes against the definition of what a difference is, and what we actually look for in differences, whether or not they are the same difference.

    If no two individuals are the same, by the law of identity, then it is impossible that a difference is an individual, because two instances of difference can be the same difference.
  • Janus
    5.2k


    The only differences you can reference which are always exactly the same, such as the numerical differences between pairs of numbers, are conceptual differences. So, you are now changing the subject, since I was taking about actual differences. Actual differences are individual, conceptual differences of course may be general, but this is irrelevant.

    The difference between two natural forms, for example, can never be exactly the same as the difference between any other pair of forms. Thus each difference is unique, individual.
  • Arne
    295
    This is interesting stuff.
    That's the point I made, creating something produces impossibilities, not possibilities. It eliminates the possibilities which the creation of that thing excludes.Metaphysician Undercover

    why wouldn't it do both? Your claim suggests that ultimately we will run out of possibilities. Unless of course there are an infinite number of possibilities. And if there are an infinite number of possibilities, then new possibilities has no effect on the number of possibilities.

    And are not some foreclosed possibilities necessarily less attractive possibilities anyways? If not, then would they be foreclosed. And are not the new possibilities more likely to be a higher level possibilities than those that have been foreclosed? And even if the number of arguably higher level possibilities is fewer than the number of foreclosed lower level possibilities, then do we not have a quality/quantity distinction in which we are still arguably better off with the fewer?

    And what about time in addition to probability? If the newly created or now emerged existing possibilities not only more probably, but if they are going to happen, then are now more likely to happen sooner than later?

    This is some really great stuff.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k
    The only differences you can reference which are always exactly the same, such as the numerical differences between pairs of numbers, are conceptual differences.Janus

    The point is that all differences are conceptual. "A difference" is a function of the description. We can attribute difference to the independent world, and assume that there are differences, but if we try to isolate a particular difference we do this through description, and therefore through the use of concepts. So an isolated "particular" or "individual" difference is purely conceptual, like the difference of 2.

    So, you are now changing the subject, since I was taking about actual differences.Janus

    You have not demonstrated that there are actual differences. That was simply your claim, that there are individual differences, other than conceptual differences. I think that this is nonsense. I think that there is actual difference, in a general sense, but to say that there are actual differences, in the sense of individuated differences, without a mind to individuate those differences, is nonsense. I did not change the subject, I'm just stressing the point that your claim of "actual differences" other than conceptual differences, is just begging the question.

    Actual differences are individual, conceptual differences of course may be general, but this is irrelevant.Janus

    Since it is by conception that actual differences are distinguished, then an actual difference is conceptual. What exists in the world, independent from minds is just undifferentiated difference, in a general sense.

    The difference between two natural forms, for example, can never be exactly the same as the difference between any other pair of forms. Thus each difference is unique, individual.Janus

    Again, you are begging the question. You are assuming two distinct natural forms, with a difference between them. But the point I am arguing is that they only exist as distinct forms because a mind has determined a separation between them, individuated them. The "difference between any pair of forms" is nothing but a comparison, a judgement, made by a mind. But prior to even being able to compare them we must individuate them as distinct forms. That is why I am arguing that individuation is based in something other than difference. It is based in the apprehension of boundaries. So you're really barking up the wrong tree with this talk of differences, moving further away from our point of interest, individuation, instead of moving toward it by looking at boundaries. Boundaries are what make individuals real.

    why wouldn't it do both? Your claim suggests that ultimately we will run out of possibilities. Unless of course there are an infinite number of possibilities. And if there are an infinite number of possibilities, then new possibilities has no effect on the number of possibilities.Arne

    Yes, it would appear like we would run out of possibilities eventually. That would seem inevitable unless something is creating possibilities. I was talking about acts of human knowledge as limiting possibilities, but it is completely possible that something else in the universe could be creating new possibilities. In this case we wouldn't run out of possibilities.

    And are not some foreclosed possibilities necessarily less attractive possibilities anyways? If not, then would they be foreclosed. And are not the new possibilities more likely to be a higher level possibilities than those that have been foreclosed? And even if the number of arguably higher level possibilities is fewer than the number of foreclosed lower level possibilities, then do we not have a quality/quantity distinction in which we are still arguably better off with the fewer?Arne

    I wouldn't say that the possibilities which are foreclosed are foreclosed because they are less attractive, they are foreclosed because they are made impossible. So if you speak about choosing something attractive, this choice forecloses certain possibilities by making them impossible. Many of these possibilities would not even have been recognized as possibilities. And if they were, they might have been seen as more attractive. But if one recognizes a possibility, and renders it as impossible by choosing something else, this does not make the chosen one a "higher level; possibility". It just means that it was more desirable to the individual, a better goal. Furthermore, I was not arguing that we are "better off" with fewer possibilities, I was just describing the natural course of what knowledgeable acts do, they limit possibilities by making certain things impossible. Whether or not this process renders us "better off" is another issue.

    And what about time in addition to probability? If the newly created or now emerged existing possibilities not only more probably, but if they are going to happen, then are now more likely to happen sooner than later?Arne

    My argument was that possibilities do not emerge in this way. New possibilities are not created by us directing our course of action. Such direction merely increases the probability of certain possibilities by transforming other possibilities into impossibilities. When the probability of a possibility is increased, it may go from being an unapprehended possibility to being apprehended, and this would make it seem like the possibility "emerged", but in reality our knowledge just changed so that we could grasp this possibility.
  • Janus
    5.2k

    You say there is difference, but no differences; to me that is a nonsensical statement. if there is difference then there is plurality and if there is plurality then there are differences.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k
    You say there is difference, but no differences; to me that is a nonsensical statement. if there is difference then there is plurality and if there is plurality then there are differences.Janus

    Do you know the difference between the general and the particular? It is not the same as the difference between the singular and the plural. To say that there is difference is not to say that there are differences, nor is it to say that there is a difference. Your act of converting the general to the particular, in order to support your claim that there are individuals, is what I called begging the question. It's also a category mistake.
  • Janus
    5.2k


    Explain then how there can be difference in general without there being particular differences; the idea makes no sense to me. Also, if there were no actual particular differences then any conceptualized particular difference would be arbitrary.
  • Arne
    295
    are you suggesting that difference depends on the perceiver while the boundaries that enable to the perceiver to assign a difference does not?
  • Arne
    295
    are you suggesting that difference is a perceiver dependent assignment used to render intelligible to the perceiver non-perceiver dependent boundaries?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4k
    Explain then how there can be difference in general without there being particular differences; the idea makes no sense to me. Also, if there were no actual particular differences then any conceptualized particular difference would be arbitrary.Janus

    We're just going around in circles here. Different means unlike, not the same. If we notice that things are unlike, not the same, we say that thing are different then they were. When we know that things are different, we can conclude logically that there is difference. This is difference in general. We know that there is difference, because we notice that things are different. Suppose you enter a room and notice that things are different than the last time you entered that room, but cannot put your finger on the exact difference. We often notice that there is difference without being able to say what the difference is. To say what the difference is, is to justify the claim that there is difference.

    To isolate particular differences requires a type of description, memory, comparison, and judgement. Let's say you enter the room and you notice that a chair is in a different place. You have identified a particular difference.

    Now, let's remove conscious judgement from the scenario. We have no chair isolated, we have no room isolated, as these, are things identified by me, the conscious agent. Can we assume a universe with time passing? This is to identify a particular thing, the universe, and it is a conscious mind doing that. The existence of particular things, whether they are individuals, or differences, is an act of assumption made by a conscious agent.

    We went through the issue of arbitrariness already. The conscious mind has reasons for individuating the way that it does, so the boundaries which it draws in individuation are not strictly arbitrary they are principled. You want to say that the boundaries which the conscious mind draws must be supported by real boundaries or else the drawing of boundaries is arbitrary. But this is not the case. We can produce our boundaries based on any principles which we want, and that does not make them arbitrary, as they are still principled.

    All I am saying is that the drawing of boundaries, which constitutes individuation by the human mind, is not based on following naturally occurring boundaries, it is based on other principles. As soon as you recognize this, then you have to reconsider how you approach the issue of naturally occurring boundaries.

    are you suggesting that difference depends on the perceiver while the boundaries that enable to the perceiver to assign a difference does not?Arne

    What I am saying is that Janus assumes the existence of such independent boundaries without justifying this assumption. Janus assumes that there are individuated objects in the world regardless of whether or not they have been individuated by a conscious mind. I argue that it is the mind which individuates, and the assumption of such boundaries, independent of minds, required for independent individuation, is unwarranted.

    Take the earth and the sun for example. We say that they are separate, individual things, but where is the boundary between them? Someone might argue that they are both part of one thing, the solar system, and there is no boundary between them. But then what makes the solar system one thing, and not just part of a bigger thing, if we do not apprehend a boundary between it and the universe?
  • Arne
    295
    are you suggesting that difference depends on the perceiver while the boundaries that enable to the perceiver to assign a difference does not? — Arne

    What I am saying is that Janus assumes the existence of independent boundaries . . . I argue that it is the mind which individuates. . .
    Metaphysician Undercover
    .

    And I agree. And as far as I am concerned, Janus has gone too in even conceding the possible existence of boundaries. People are uncomfortable with the notion of the universe as just a bunch of gray clouds of electrons (let us give them at least a minimal visualization) floating around and bumping into each other.
  • Heiko
    30
    If showing people a sheet of paper - half white and half black - they will recognize a difference between both halves. This cannot be explained without relocating the source of the observed difference into the external world: If there is an observed difference there must be something which causes it. Whatever that might be.
  • Janus
    5.2k
    We're just going around in circles here.Metaphysician Undercover

    I am not going around in circles: apparently it is your head that is spinning around in its attempt to find a way out of its morass of inconsistency and nonsense. :rofl:

    Why do you assume that I buy into your talk about boundaries? What I am saying is that, logically, it makes no sense to speak of difference without allowing that there are differences, unless we were to posit that there is just one difference, and that makes absolutely no sense.

    Imagine a virtual field of fluctuating intensities (that would seem to be the most minimal determinate model we can imagine); unless the intensities of all the fluctuations are exactly the same, then there are individual differences between the fluctuations. In fact no two fluctuations would ever be exactly the same.

    Your example with numbers should have alerted you to the fact that although there is the same difference between many pairs of numbers there are also many (infinitely many) different numerical values between sets of numbers, so the infinitely many individual numbers represent infinitely many individual differences.

    You have not demonstrated that there are actual differences. That was simply your claim, that there are individual differences, other than conceptual differences. I think that this is nonsense. I think that there is actual difference, in a general sense, but to say that there are actual differences, in the sense of individuated differences, without a mind to individuate those differences, is nonsense.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is where you go wrong. You need to explain how there could be actual difference without there being actual differences, unless there be only one actual difference; which, again,is nonsense. Also, you are forgetting that there are no actual generalities, generalities do no exist, they subsist in particulars; so really there is no actual general difference, because it is only individual differences that act, that cause change and that are thus actual. Difference in general can cause nothing in particular to happen. So our positing of differences must be mediated by real (even if virtual and indeterminable by us) differences, not simply by the general idea of difference, or else our determinations are merely arbitrary; and this is the salient point you are apparently failing to grasp.
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