• Isaac
    3.3k
    There is the checkered shirt, that is a physical thing. Then there is the pattern which the colours are said to be in, that is not physical. So the pattern which a checkered shirt has, is not a physical thing.Metaphysician Undercover

    So, if the pattern exists as some other thing to the shirt, what happens if we destroy just the pattern (but leave the shirt completely untouched)? If the two are two different things, there should be some result that is one without the other (A+B, - B, is A, not A+B still), but I can't think what that could be. All the while we leave the physical shirt untouched it seems to still have its pattern,suggesting very strongly that the pattern and the shirt are not two seperate things.
  • Dusty of Sky
    65
    And why are we using the ease with which you personally can imagine something as a measure of what is, or may be, the case. What possible mechanism of reality could there be which ensures its inner workings are conceivable to a particular 21st century Homo sapiens?Isaac

    The idea that the universe can be understood is a fundamental presupposition that underlies nearly all human thought, especially scientific thought. If we can't use logic and mathematics to draw conclusions, then science is futile. Planning out your afternoon might even be futile.

    You'll have to explain this, as I'm not getting it from your assertion alone. How would such a universe violate the laws of statistics?Isaac

    In statistics, we collect data about a sample in order to make inferences about the whole to which the sample belongs. For instance, we might survey a sample of coin flips in order to find whether heads or tails is more likely. And unless we are biased in the way we choose our samples, we assume that the more individual samples we take, the more confidently we can make estimations about the whole. If we consistently find that half of coin flips land on heads, we infer that the 50/50 principle applies to all coin flips. It can't just be that the coin flips we came across happened to result in heads half the time for no reason. There must be something about coin flips, as a particular kind of phenomena, that causes them to behave this way. And the same applies to objects of mass attracting objects of mass. If all the objects we observe attract each other in accordance with the law of gravitation, then we conclude that gravitational attraction applies to all objects. It can't just be an arbitrary pattern in the sample we took.

    In order to see that as statistically unlikely you'd have to make two presumptions 1) the default position of particles in the absence of guidance is to act randomly, and 2) out of all the other universes with fundamental particles none of them (or very few of them) are like ours.Isaac

    Randomness is the default state of something which isn't governed by laws. Isn't that self evident? If something isn't ordered, we should expect it to be disorderly. Coin flips are random because there isn't any regular principle which determines how we flip them. Conversely, if something does exhibit consistent regularities in its behavior, that indicates that it is governed by a principle. Regarding the second assumption, all we need to accept is that a universe where fundamental particles behaved differently wouldn't contradict anything about logic or statistics.

    The universe exhibits form rather than obeying it or creating it as the horns of the dilemma suggest.Andrew M

    Something seems very wrong to me about saying that everything in universe exhibits the same forms for no reason. And if there is a reason, I don't think the reason could be framed as simply a property of the objects which exhibit form. For instance, it seems to be a property of mass that it causes space-time to warp around it. But I don't think you can just take this fact at face value. Why does the universe exhibit these patterns? It's not logically necessary. Maybe it's physically necessary, but necessity, it seems to me, implies the existence of laws. Something can't just happen to be necessary. There must be something else that makes it necessary.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    I'm not assuming dualism. There are a number of alternatives to physicalism and dualism.Dusty of Sky
    There are alternatives to dualism, which is what I was arguing for - monism.

    I personally prefer a sort of Kantian idealism. I believe in an external world of one kind or another, but I don't think we can know what it is. We can only know how it affects us.Dusty of Sky
    This sounds like indirect realism. How is Kantian idealism different from indirect realism? It seems to me that you'd need to explain the difference between physical things and ideas. If both of these things have causal power, then what difference is there between them other than the type of thing it is? - not any more different than how dirt is different from water. How is it that we can put dirt and water in the same domain of "physical" but not minds, even though they all have causal power and interact with each other?
  • Relativist
    1.5k
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Armstrong's theory is that physical properties are universals which particulars instantiate. So even if physical laws are just functions of properties, the properties have universal natures which exists over and above their particular instances. Are these universal natures real things? They're not physical objects. How do you resolve this problem without admitting non-physical objects into your ontology?Dusty of Sky
    The fundamental thing to keep in mind is that (according to Armstrong), everything that exists is a state of affairs (a particular with its properties and relations). The properties and relations do not exist independent of the state of affairs in which they are instantiated. We can still think abstractly about properties and relations (through the "way of abstraction"), but these are just mental exercises.

    Yes, physical properties are universals, and exist in their instantiations. But it's not quite correct to say that physical laws are functions of properties. Rather, physical laws are relations between "state of affairs types" (SOATs). The distinction is subtle, but important, and it's lost if you conflate properties with SOATs:

    We can consider there to be a SOAT for each property (i.e. the SOAs that have property x are a SOAT). But it would be incorrect to say "-1 charge" has an attraction to "+1 charge" - which implies a relation between properties (which is incorrect). Rather, we should say "states of affairs with a -1 charge have an attraction to states of affairs with a +1 charge" - which elucidates the fact that it fundamentally a relation between SOATs (a relation that is instantiated in SOAs of those types).

    You asked, "Are these universal natures real things?" If a "thing" is an ontic object, then NO, because a property is not a SOA. Nevertheless, the universal "-1 charge" (which is a universal) exists, as a constituent of certain SOAs.
  • Dusty of Sky
    65
    The fundamental thing to keep in mind is that (according to Armstrong), everything that exists is a state of affairs (a particular with its properties and relations). The properties and relations do not exist independent of the state of affairs in which they are instantiated. We can still think abstractly about properties and relations (through the "way of abstraction"), but these are just mental exercises.Relativist

    Interesting, and good to know. But if Armstrong takes the most basic objects in the universe to be states of affairs, then I don't see how he can call himself a physicalist in the traditional sense. States of affairs, as I understand them, consist of relations between abstract ideas like properties and particulars. These are not objects we can empirically observe. They are concepts by which we make sense of our observations.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    The idea that the universe can be understood is a fundamental presupposition that underlies nearly all human thought, especially scientific thought. If we can't use logic and mathematics to draw conclusions, then science is futile.Dusty of Sky

    I wasn't denying the use of logic to draw conclusions. Science takes empirical observations and uses logic to describe and predict things about the universe. But that's not what you were doing. You said "a universe without logic would be absurd" and "a universe without gravity, on the other hand, is easy to imagine". Neither of those two statements apply logic to empirical sense data. The first simply asserts that logic is a law and that without it the universe would seem absurd to you. The second just declares that you feel you are capable of successfully imagining a thing. I'm asking what either of those declarations have to do with the nature of reality.

    That you see logic as a law without which the universe seems absurd, tells us about you, your beliefs and your limits of sense. It doesn't say anything about the universe. That you think you can imagine a universe without gravity tells us about your imagination (or your confidence in it), not the universe.

    It can't just be that the coin flips we came across happened to result in heads half the time for no reason. There must be something about coin flips, as a particular kind of phenomena, that causes them to behave this way. And the same applies to objects of mass attracting objects of mass. If all the objects we observe attract each other in accordance with the law of gravitation, then we conclude that gravitational attraction applies to all objects. It can't just be an arbitrary pattern in the sample we took.Dusty of Sky

    This is a common misapplication of probability. I strongly suggest Ramsey's Truth and Probability if you can get hold of a copy. We only presume that something must have influenced a run of 100 heads in a coin toss because we know that normally the distribution would be 50/50. We don't know in advance how we would expect objects of mass to behave, so we can make no probabilistic statements whatsoever about the fact that they all act the way gravity describes.

    Randomness is the default state of something which isn't governed by laws. Isn't that self evident?Dusty of Sky

    No. That's exactly the question of the thread. Why would you presume something must be governed externally in order to not be random. Have you seen Lagton's Ant?

    Coin flips are random because there isn't any regular principle which determines how we flip them.Dusty of Sky

    No. Coin flips appear random because we don't have the data to determine their path. If we did, their resting face would be entirely predictable.
  • Relativist
    1.5k
    Interesting, and good to know. But if Armstrong takes the most basic objects in the universe to be states of affairs, then I don't see how he can call himself a physicalist in the traditional sense. States of affairs, as I understand them, consist of relations between abstract entities like properties, relations and particulars without instantiations.Dusty of Sky
    No. A state of affairs is not "relations between abstract entities." Abstract entities do not exist (that would be inconsistent with physicalism). Abstractions are just tools of the mind (useful fictions) they do not actually exist as ontic objects.

    Consider actual objects in the real world, such as a rock. Consider the mass of the rock (700 grams). You can't physically separate the rock's mass from the actual rock. There is not a relation between the rock's other properties and the property "700 grams". The rock's mass is an intrinsic property of the rock. You can think abstractly about the fact that the rock's mass is 700 grams, but that doesn't mean "700 grams" exists independently of the rock, or that the rock exists independently of its mass.

    Multiple objects can have an identical 700 gram mass: consider all such objects with a 700 gram mass: they can be considered a State of Affairs Type (states of affairs with the property "700 grams mass"). "700 grams mass" is a universal, because multiple objects can have this property.

    I hope this helps you understand that a state of affairs is an inseparable package: everything that exists (such as a rock) has properties and relations, but it actually doesn't make sense to say that any of those properties or relations has some sort of independent existence.
  • Dusty of Sky
    65
    That you see logic as a law without which the universe seems absurd, tells us about you, your beliefs and your limits of sense. It doesn't say anything about the universe. That you think you can imagine a universe without gravity tells us about your imagination (or your confidence in it), not the universe.Isaac

    A universe that disobeys logic is absurd by definition. It would be circular reasoning to try to use logic to prove itself, and I don't have any other way to prove that it's valid. But if we can't use logic to decide what can and can't be true about the universe, then we can't use anything. Empirical observations are only useful because we can pair them with logic in order to draw conclusions. So what's the point in saying that universe might not actually make any logical sense? I guess it's good to be humble, but I think we need to assume that it makes logical sense if we're going to seek knowledge.

    No. That's exactly the question of the thread. Why would you presume something must be governed externally in order to not be random. Have you seen Lagton's Ant?Isaac

    If something happens over and over again in the exact same way, I assume there's a reason for it. And if something happens for a reason, it's not random. If something happens for no reason, it is random. And the ant is governed by laws. They're in his programming. He is determined to move in a certain way, and being determined is the opposite of being random. I take random, undetermined and for no reason to all be synonymous. Whether laws have to be external is a separate issue.

    We don't know in advance how we would expect objects of mass to behave, so we can make no probabilistic statements whatsoever about the fact that they all act the way gravity describes.Isaac

    If there is any consistent pattern in the behavior of objects of mass, then I think it's safe to assume that those patterns did not just show up coincidentally. Objects of mass will probably continue to behave as we've observed them to behave in the past, and there's probably a reason for that. Do you even disagree? If you don't think that gravity is a result of an external law, then what is it a result of? A lot of people here seem to think it's the result of the inherent properties of objects of mass.

    No. Coin flips appear random because we don't have the data to determine their path. If we did, their resting face would be entirely predictable.Isaac

    I don't think we disagree on this point. Perhaps the statement I made that you were responding to was unclear.

    No. A state of affairs is not "relations between abstract entities." Abstract entities do not exist (that would be inconsistent with physicalism). Abstractions are just tools of the mind, they do not actually exist.Relativist

    The very phrase "state of affairs" seems to imply that there are multiple affairs in a single state. I'm not claiming that particulars, properties and relations can exist independently. But in order to explain what a state of affairs is, don't you need to appeal to the existence of its abstract constituents? Just because the abstractions are codependent doesn't mean they don't exist. And I don't think it would be helpful to define existence as being exclusive to things which can (hypothetically) exist independently. Because independent SOAs consist of their codependent parts and therefore depend on them.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    if we can't use logic to decide what can and can't be true about the universe, then we can't use anything.Dusty of Sky

    A universe that disobeys logic is absurd by definition.Dusty of Sky

    In your first statement you treat logic (correctly) as a method of thinking, we "use" logic. In your second statement you treat it as a set of rules which it is, at least theoretically, possible to 'disobey'. This is the problem I'm trying to highlight. Logic is a method of thinking about things (empirical data), which has proven incredibly useful. But its utility derives from the degree of success it has in predicting states of affairs. We can't now turn things the other way around and say that the states of affair are somehow forced (against their otherwise default state) to comply with this method of thinking we made up.

    So what's the point in saying that universe might not actually make any logical sense?Dusty of Sky

    Because what does not make logical sense to you may not be so illusive to others. If I could put a banner at the top of this site it would be "Your incredulity is not an argument".

    Logical sense is a property of your mind, not the entity your mind is considering.

    If something happens over and over again in the exact same way, I assume there's a reason for it.Dusty of Sky

    That's all very well, but again, a "reason" is a property of your mind (whether you find it to satisfactorily explain the phenomenon), not a property of the phenomenon itself. The ant merely has programming. Whether that programming 'causes' the pattern is up to you.

    If there is any consistent pattern in the behavior of objects of mass, then I think it's safe to assume that those patterns did not just show up coincidentally.Dusty of Sky

    Again, this just tells us about your psychology, not the universe. Why would you think it safe to assume that?

    If you don't think that gravity is a result of an external law, then what is it a result of?Dusty of Sky

    I don't see any reason for it to be the result of anything.
  • Relativist
    1.5k
    I'm not claiming that particulars, properties and relations can exist independently. But in order to explain what a state of affairs is, don't you need to appeal to the existence of its abstract constituents?
    Sort of. The constituents exist (within a SOA), and we can think abstractly about them.

    Just because the abstractions are codependent doesn't mean they don't exist. And I don't think it would be helpful to define existence as being exclusive to things which can (hypothetically) exist independently. Because independent SOAs consist of their codependent parts and therefore depend on them.
    That's consistent with Armstrong's view. The constituents (e.g. specific properties) actually exist, but only in their instantiations as part of states of affairs. Returning to laws of nature as "relations between states of affairs types" - it shows that there's not actually a dependency on an equation existing as an ontic abstract object. Abstract objects (as ontic objects) are incompatible with physicalism. Constrast this with Platonism, which can assume Newton's law of gravity exists independent of there being objects to which it applies. For that matter, Armstrong would deny the existence of "4" as an abstract object. Rather, there are states of affairs consisting of 4 objects (sub-SOAs), but we can still think abstractly about the universal "4".
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    Why would you think it is contradictory?Janus

    I can't believe that this is not obvious to you. If a thing emerges, it emerges from those constituent parts, and is therefore reducible to those parts. How does it make sense to you that something could emerge, but is not reducible to the parts from which it emerges? That would be like saying that there is an effect which cannot be explained by its causes.

    Look at a car. It's made of metal, rubber, plastic and glasses that come in varird shapes. Separate they're nothing but together they acquire a property/function that can't be understood if we consider only the parts. Only the whole, all parts together, is what we call a car. I think brain-mind is something very similar and, so, shouldn't cause us to overactivate our imagination.TheMadFool

    I wouldn't say that the parts are nothing without the whole. They are not parts of the car, unless there is a car, but all those bits of metal, glass, plastic, etc., are still something without the existence of the car.

    Well, if we take a cellular phone and time travel back to the 12th century it would be unexplicable and I'm quite sure 12th century folks will ''explain'' it as sorcery or something to do with spirits etc. The truth however is that cellular phones are correctly explained with physical radiowaves. This clearly shows that we shouldn't default to magical thinking just because something can't be explained readily with the physical sciences.TheMadFool

    Actually, I think the cell phone would be useless in that situation, without the necessary infrastructure. The cell phone is just a part. It is something without the rest of the system, but it isn't very impressive. I don't know what you mean by "magical thinking", you'd have to explain this. Do you believe that the non-physical is magical?

    The pattern is simply the arrangement of colored threads as they comprise the shirt, the relations of them to each other.Terrapin Station

    The shirt is composed of coloured threads. The threads are physical things. To say that the threads are in an arrangement, or a pattern, is to refer to something other than the threads. You refer to a pattern.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    So, if the pattern exists as some other thing to the shirt, what happens if we destroy just the pattern (but leave the shirt completely untouched)?Isaac

    The pattern is something other than the shirt because many different shirts are said to have the same pattern. And, the person who designed the shirt had the pattern in mind before it came to exist on the shirt. I don't know how you would destroy a pattern. Suppose 2, 4, 6, 8, is a pattern. Erasing the numerals does not destroy the pattern because I still have the pattern in my mind. So the question doesn't make any sense until you propose how a pattern would be destroyed.

    If the two are two different things, there should be some result that is one without the other (A+B, - B, is A, not A+B still), but I can't think what that could be.Isaac

    That the shirt has pattern X, pattern Y, or some other pattern is a judgment which someone makes. The judgement is made by the person who designed the shirt, that it ought to have such and such a pattern. And so the shirt was made to have that pattern. The pattern exists in the designers mind, and on paper, before it exists on the shirt. It could be imagined to be on numerous different media. So it's actually quite easy to imagine the pattern without the shirt. I don't see why this might be difficult for you.
  • Janus
    9.6k
    I can't believe that this is not obvious to you. If a thing emerges, it emerges from those constituent parts, and is therefore reducible to those parts. How does it make sense to you that something could emerge, but is not reducible to the parts from which it emerges? That would be like saying that there is an effect which cannot be explained by its causes.Metaphysician Undercover

    You're making the mistake of thinking of causality as only efficient. For someone who professes to be influenced by Aristotle, this shortsightedness is surprising, to say the least.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k

    I don't see how that's relevant. What's relevant is that the concept of "emergence" is such that if something is emergent it is composed of parts. And anything composed of parts is reducible, according to the concepts of "parts" and "reducible". Therefore it is impossible, by way of contradiction, that anything emergent is irreducible. "Emergence" as such is nonsense.

    Final cause as described by Aristotle is incompatible with emergence, because it requires that the form of the thing which will come into being is prior in time to the material existence of the thing, as its cause, like an idea, the blueprint or plan for the thing. Final cause implies intention. "Emergence" does not allow that the emergent thing's existence is intentional. Therefore "emergence" is incompatible with "final cause".
  • Janus
    9.6k
    Properties are emergent, and properties are not "composed of parts".
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    Do you believe that the non-physical is magical?Metaphysician Undercover

    Dangerously close to it; not to mention the fact that it closes all inquiry since the non-physical, by definition, can't be investigated in anyway. That said I see an opening for inquiry into the mind with the mind itself - a sort of self-examination which philosophy encourages. However I don't know how much objectivity, a necessity I presume, can be attained along such lines.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    Something seems very wrong to me about saying that everything in universe exhibits the same forms for no reason. And if there is a reason, I don't think the reason could be framed as simply a property of the objects which exhibit form. For instance, it seems to be a property of mass that it causes space-time to warp around it. But I don't think you can just take this fact at face value. Why does the universe exhibit these patterns? It's not logically necessary. Maybe it's physically necessary, but necessity, it seems to me, implies the existence of laws. Something can't just happen to be necessary. There must be something else that makes it necessary.Dusty of Sky

    If the universe is all there is, then there is nothing to reference outside of it. The reason why mass curves spacetime, if that's the right question to ask, is to be found by empirical investigation.

    Assuming an external law wouldn't move us closer to an explanation. It would just raise the question of why there happens to be one particular law in effect rather than another.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Assuming an external law wouldn't move us closer to an explanation. It would just raise the question of why there happens to be one particular law in effect rather than another.Andrew M

    I see the issue as this - given scientific laws/regularities/order, then science can do an awful lot of work. But it doesn't explain those laws; it doesn't know why f=ma or e=mc2. Put another way, science reveals many things about the order of nature, but nothing much about the nature of the order ;-) And that is something that is often lost sight of.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    The pattern is something other than the shirt because many different shirts are said to have the same pattern.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm not seeing the necessity here. How is our repeatedly using the same name to describe similar arrangements of colour and shape forcing a thing into existence?

    So the question doesn't make any sense until you propose how a pattern would be destroyed.Metaphysician Undercover

    If I asked you to imagine a world without apples are you seriously suggesting that the question doesn't even make sense until I can provide you with the details about how exactly I plan to destroy all the apples. Do you ask Putman how exactly he planned on making his vat? Do you require architectural drawings before considering Searle's Chinese room to have any meaning?

    It's a thought experiment. Just presume I have some means of destroying things that exist in the realm of platonic forms (or whatever realm you're positing for this pattern). What would the shirt with alternating stripes now look like if I destroyed the pattern {alternating stripes} within the realm in which it exists?

    it's actually quite easy to imagine the pattern without the shirt. I don't see why this might be difficult for you.Metaphysician Undercover

    I didn't claim to be having any trouble imagining the pattern without the shirt. If you actually read my post I'm asking entirely about imagining the shirt (completely unchanged physically), but without the pattern.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    Properties are emergent, and properties are not "composed of parts".Janus

    As having properties is how we describe things. Where does the property emerge from, the human mind which does the describing? If you are direct realist, then the property is the thing, and it is therefore composed of parts.

    Dangerously close to it; not to mention the fact that it closes all inquiry since the non-physical, by definition, can't be investigated in anyway.TheMadFool

    Why would you say that the non-physical cannot be investigated? It just cannot be sensed and so we must investigate it with the mind, logic. Magic is a performance, often associated with trickery, illusion and deception. When the method of an act of performance is unknown, it may be said to be magic. But the methods of magic may be investigated. I suggest to you, that the reason you associate the non-physical with magic is that you haven't taken the time to investigate the non-physical, and therefore the acts of the non-physical create the illusion of magic.

    That said I see an opening for inquiry into the mind with the mind itself - a sort of self-examination which philosophy encourages. However I don't know how much objectivity, a necessity I presume, can be attained along such lines.TheMadFool

    Yes, that's the route, examine the mind with the mind. I think your concern about objectivity is misguided though. The mind is what is used to understand both sensible world, and the mind itself. But the mind is present to the mind directly and therefore has direct access to itself, while it only has a mediated access to the sensible world, through the means of the senses. So it only understands the sensible through the means of the principles by which it interprets sensations. These principles are not themselves sensible, they are non-physical, and are only understood directly by the mind. Therefore, all of our knowledge of the sensible world, the physical, is only as dependable, or "objective", as our knowledge of the intelligible world, the non-physical. And it is necessary to conclude that our knowledge of the physical is founded, grounded, and based in our knowledge of the non-physical, so it is impossible that our knowledge of the physical is more reliable, or "objective", than our knowledge of the non-physical.

    This is why it is not very wise, and possibly dangerous to dismiss the non-physical as magic. The physicists, and other empirical scientists are using the non-physical principles in their performance acts of prediction. If we want to understand what they are doing in these acts, we must proceed towards an understanding of the non-physical principles. If we dismiss the usage of non-physical principles, and therefore the scientific performances, as magic, this is just a disposition of not wanting to know.

    I'm not seeing the necessity here. How is our repeatedly using the same name to describe similar arrangements of colour and shape forcing a thing into existence?Isaac

    Do you know what it means to arrange things in a pattern? Would you agree that you must know the pattern, in your mind, prior to arranging the things according to that pattern? If so, then how can you not recognize that the pattern exists in your mind prior to the things demonstrating the pattern? If you are having a problem with the word "exists", then we might leave it out, and say that the pattern is in your mind prior to the things being arranged in the pattern. Do you not understand this, or see some reason to deny it?

    If I asked you to imagine a world without apples are you seriously suggesting that the question doesn't even make sense until I can provide you with the details about how exactly I plan to destroy all the apples. Do you ask Putman how exactly he planned on making his vat? Do you require architectural drawings before considering Searle's Chinese room to have any meaning?Isaac

    The question makes no sense to me, but sense to you, because you and I seem to have a different understanding of what a "pattern" is. If "apples" were the type of thing which were impossible to remove from the world, as "patterns" are, then you would see that it makes no sense to ask someone to imagine a world without apples.

    It's a thought experiment. Just presume I have some means of destroying things that exist in the realm of platonic forms (or whatever realm you're positing for this pattern). What would the shirt with alternating stripes now look like if I destroyed the pattern {alternating stripes} within the realm in which it exists?Isaac

    OK, I'll try this thought experiment for you. I remove from my mind, a particular pattern. Let's say I forgot it. Then I really cannot say what the shirt would look like, because I forgot the terms I would use to describe it. Maybe I could think up some new, random words to describe it, but what good would that do?

    The real issue here, which you seem to have no respect for, is that the pattern existed in the mind of the designer, before it is expressed in the shirt. So it really makes no sense to ask me whether I can banish the pattern from the intelligible world, now, because the pattern was necessarily there in the intelligible world, at that time when the shirt, with that pattern, was created. Whether or not I have the capacity to recognize the pattern is irrelevant.

    I didn't claim to be having any trouble imagining the pattern without the shirt. If you actually read my post I'm asking entirely about imagining the shirt (completely unchanged physically), but without the pattern.Isaac

    Unless you are direct realist, the pattern is not in the shirt, it is what the shirt is said to have. The designer has the pattern in mind, and makes the shirt as an example, or representation of that pattern. You can see this in all artificial physical objects, cars, planes, building, etc., they are representations of the ideas, concepts, used to construct them. There is a model, a blueprint, design, which the object is made to be a representation of. This is what is in Plato's cave allegory, sensible objects are a reflection of the ideas used to create them. That's how the philosopher comes to understand the reality of existence.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    To say that the threads are in an arrangement, or a pattern, is to refer to something other than the threads.Metaphysician Undercover

    It's referring to the relation of the threads--the way they're situated with respect to each other extensionally (or we could more conventionally say the way they're situated in space). You don't think that the relation of the threads is nonphysical, do you?
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    You seem to be saying everything, including the physical, is non-physical since the only window to the world we have is our mind. It's kinda like saying an apple is the very same thing as light just because we need light to see an apple, which is incorrect.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    Would you agree that you must know the pattern, in your mind, prior to arranging the things according to that pattern?Metaphysician Undercover

    No. I must have an image (or instructions) relating to a pattern in order to try to create another pattern just like it. Neither of them are the pattern in some way. They are two different patterns with many similarities.

    If you are having a problem with the word "exists", then we might leave it out, and say that the pattern is in your mind prior to the things being arranged in the pattern. Do you not understand this, or see some reason to deny it?Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes. "Exists" is not the problem, "the" is the problem. There's no such thing as the pattern. There are patterns (which are just collections of properties we focus on), those patterns have similarities, that's all there need be to it. We don't need to then reify some archetype.

    If "apples" were the type of thing which were impossible to remove from the world, as "patterns" are, then you would see that it makes no sense to ask someone to imagine a world without apples.Metaphysician Undercover

    But a tartan pattern, for example, is just as possible as apples to remove from the world. In fact, before the advent of weaving, there was a world with no tartan pattern. What you can't do is remove all the tartan patterns from the world but leave all the kilts exactly as they were, meaning that the tartan pattern does not exist independently of the thing it is describing.

    OK, I'll try this thought experiment for you. I remove from my mind, a particular pattern. Let's say I forgot it.Metaphysician Undercover

    I didn't ask that it be removed from your mind, I asked that it cease to exist entirely. What would a checkered shirt look like if the pattern 'checkered' ceased to exist as an independent thing?

    The real issue here, which you seem to have no respect for, is that the pattern existed in the mind of the designer, before it is expressed in the shirt.Metaphysician Undercover

    No. A pattern existed in the mind of the designer. A different pattern exists on the shirt. Are you trying to claim that the exact same pattern has been removed from the mind of the designer and placed on the shirt?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.6k
    As having properties is how we describe things. Where does the property emerge from, the human mind which does the describing? If you are direct realist, then the property is the thing, and it is therefore composed of parts.Metaphysician Undercover
    It depends upon the property. The apple's redness is not a property of the apple alone. It is a property of an interaction between the apple, light, and our sensory system. Through causation, redness can inform us of the state of our sensory system, the wavelength of light and ripeness of the apple. The property of ripeness belongs the the apple alone, not redness. Redness is a property of the mind when looking at, or thinking of, an ripe apple.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    I see the issue as this - given scientific laws/regularities/order, then science can do an awful lot of work. But it doesn't explain those laws; it doesn't know why f=ma or e=mc2. Put another way, science reveals many things about the order of nature, but nothing much about the nature of the order ;-) And that is something that is often lost sight of.Wayfarer

    I think our philosophical premises are showing. :-) So if we can't discover the nature of the order by investigation of the natural world, then how can we discover it?

    Do you think there is, at least in principle, an explanation? And if so where and how is it to be found?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    It's referring to the relation of the threads--the way they're situated with respect to each other extensionally (or we could more conventionally say the way they're situated in space). You don't think that the relation of the threads is nonphysical, do you?Terrapin Station

    Of course the relations of the threads are non-physical. How could they be conceived of as physical? The threads are physical things which we can sense, and spatial and temporal relations are not sensible so they are non-physical. That this thread is situated, in such a relation to another thread is purely a spatial concept, and therefore non-physical. Or do you think that space is a physical thing? If so, by what sense do you perceive space? And if you don't sense it how could there be a physical thing which you cannot sense?

    You seem to be saying everything, including the physical, is non-physical since the only window to the world we have is our mind. It's kinda like saying an apple is the very same thing as light just because we need light to see an apple, which is incorrect.TheMadFool

    No I did not say everything is non-physical. I said that we interpret our sensations of physical things through the use of non-physical principles. Therefore our understanding of the physical is dependent on our understanding of the non-physical, and only as reliable as our understanding of the non-physical. This is why you are misguided in your assumption that knowledge of the physical is more "objective" than knowledge of the non-physical. In reality, the reliability of our knowledge of the physical cannot surpass the reliability of our knowledge of the non-physical. So your apple/light analogy is not relevant.

    Are you aware of the tinted glass analogy. If you are looking at the world through a tinted glass, and you cannot avoid looking through that glass, then the tinting of the glass will affect how the colour of the world appears to you. Until you fully understand what the tinting of the glass adds or takes away from the appearance of the world, you will not be able to say how the colour of the world really is. The same is the case with the non-physical principles by which we understand the world. Our minds look at the physical world through these non-physical principles, and until we fully understand what they add or take away from the appearance of the world, we cannot say how the world really is.

    No. I must have an image (or instructions) relating to a pattern in order to try to create another pattern just like it. Neither of them are the pattern in some way. They are two different patterns with many similarities.Isaac

    OK, let's say that they are two different patterns. Whether or not they are similar is a matter of judgement.

    Yes. "Exists" is not the problem, "the" is the problem. There's no such thing as the pattern. There are patterns (which are just collections of properties we focus on), those patterns have similarities, that's all there need be to it. We don't need to then reify some archetype.Isaac

    If there is no such thing as "the pattern", then I see no reason to be talking about the pattern. But if you say that the shirt has "a pattern", then it is you who is trying to reified "the pattern", claiming that it is a real thing within the shirt. I see no principles whereby we might judge something, what you call "collections of properties" as "a pattern". Is any random thing a pattern to you? Can we agree that there is no point in talking about "the pattern", or "a pattern" if you insist that there is no such thing as 'the pattern", and to say that the shirt has a pattern is pure nonsense? if there is no such thing as "the pattern" which the shirt has, it is nonsense to say that it has a pattern.

    But a tartan pattern, for example, is just as possible as apples to remove from the world. In fact, before the advent of weaving, there was a world with no tartan pattern. What you can't do is remove all the tartan patterns from the world but leave all the kilts exactly as they were, meaning that the tartan pattern does not exist independently of the thing it is describing.Isaac

    Talking about the world prior to the existence of some thing, is not the same as attempting to remove something already existing in the world, and then talk about that thing afterwards. These two are completely different. So this comparison is not useful. And since we have no premise to talk about the existence of patterns, as you have insisted there is no such thing as the pattern, we need to establish some premise whereby we can talk about patterns, before there is any point to making a claim such as the one you've made here.

    No. A pattern existed in the mind of the designer. A different pattern exists on the shirt. Are you trying to claim that the exact same pattern has been removed from the mind of the designer and placed on the shirt?Isaac

    No, what I claimed is that a copy of the pattern which existed in the mind of the designer was made on the shirt. So we seem to have agreement here, maybe we can find a starting point. The pattern in the mind of the designer is not exactly the same as the pattern on the shirt. Let's say that there is a pattern in the mind, and there is a pattern on the shirt, and they are not the same, and neither can be said to be "the pattern". Do you agree that the pattern on the shirt is a copy of the one in the designer's mind?

    The property of ripeness belongs the the apple alone, not redness.Harry Hindu

    That's strange I would think that "ripeness" is a judgement made by human beings, and not a property at all. When the banana is ripe for me, it is overripe for my son. Ripeness is not a property at all, it's a judgement, just like good and bad are not properties of moral and immoral acts, they are judgements of such acts. Come to think of it, redness, big, small, hard and soft, and everything that we call "properties" are just judgements made by human beings. When we say that such and such has X property, we are just making a judgement.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Do you think there is, at least in principle, an explanation? And if so where and how is it to be found?Andrew M

    If you mean, do I think there is in principle an explanation for scientific laws, the answer is: I don't think there is. As I said, given that there are scientific laws or regularities or whatever you want to call them, and that we can discover them, then we can discover all kinds of things on the basis of those regularities. But as to why there are those regularites - I think that's actually quite out of scope for science. It seems the typical arrogance of today's world that we would think that this is something that could be discovered. Like the proverbial 'rooster taking credit for the sunrise'.

    I suppose from the hypothetical theistic perspective, the reason you can't find the source of order in the world, is because it's not actually there; that nature is organised by principles which don't originate within nature herself. And that does seem at least logical, even though I know it's not a popular view of the matter.

    So I'm saying, the question of 'why the universe is lawful' is not so much a scientific as a philosophical question. Obviously whatever philosophy makes of it has to take into account whatever science discovers, but at this point in history, the idea of big-bang cosmology seems very easy to analogise from the perspective of natural theology and many other forms of philosophical cosmology.
  • TheGreatArcanum
    222
    is physics incompatible with physicalism? well, I suppose that depends on if the laws of physics, which have no spatial extension in themselves, precede the existence of physically extended entities, or come into being after those physically extended entities are limited and therefore defined. fools often say that the laws of physics are simply “descriptions” the physical world, and do not exist apart from our conception of them. but they fail to answer the question as to how the world that we perceive is limited in such a way as to allow the abstraction of unchanging laws from it.

    if not by the laws of physics in combination with some teleological force, how are things limited and compartmentalized in their limitation as they are?
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    Can we agree that there is no point in talking about "the pattern", or "a pattern" if you insist that there is no such thing as 'the pattern", and to say that the shirt has a pattern is pure nonsense? if there is no such thing as "the pattern" which the shirt has, it is nonsense to say that it has a pattern.Metaphysician Undercover

    No. I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about here I'm afraid.

    Talking about the world prior to the existence of some thing, is not the same as attempting to remove something already existing in the world, and then talk about that thing afterwards. These two are completely different. So this comparison is not useful.Metaphysician Undercover

    Demonstrating that a difference exists between two theoretical scenarios is not concomitant with the fact that there is no utility in the comparison. No two scenarios are going to be exactly the same, you've not presented any reason why their difference renders the comparison useless.

    Let's say that there is a pattern in the mind, and there is a pattern on the shirt, and they are not the same, and neither can be said to be "the pattern". Do you agree that the pattern on the shirt is a copy of the one in the designer's mind?Metaphysician Undercover

    Well not an exact copy, obviously. It will have some similarities and some differences. The key difference (which obtains no matter how accurate the representation) being the location in space. One is in someone's head, the other is on a shirt.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    Well not an exact copy, obviously. It will have some similarities and some differences. The key difference (which obtains no matter how accurate the representation) being the location in space. One is in someone's head, the other is on a shirtIsaac

    I don't think that the difference is a matter of "location in space". The pattern on the shirt can be seen and can be measured as occupying space, the one in the designer's mind cannot. The spatial existence of the two is what is different. If being able to be measured, and having spatial relations with other things is having a "location in space", then the imaginary pattern has no location in space. That, I think is the principal difference, the pattern on the shirt can be said to have a spatial location, but the imaginary one cannot.

    This huge difference is why we're better off to move to something like what you mentioned, "instructions", or what I mentioned, a "plan" or 'blueprints", to understand the creation of the pattern on the shirt. We can say that the instructions have physical existence, on the paper, but this is a bunch of symbols which represent the ideas of what someone is supposed to do in order to create a shirt with a specified pattern. These ideas of what someone needs to do to create a specified physical object, are in minds.

    There is no point in you and I discussing exactly where the pattern is, until we determine what a pattern is, because I think the pattern is what is specified about the shirt, and therefore is ideal, having no spatial location, and you think the pattern is what exists in the shirt therefore having a spatial location in the shirt. Studies in physics demonstrate that it is difficult, if not impossible, to assign spatial locations to parts (particles) within objects. So I think that my position is much more realistic than yours. The pattern is what is specified about the shirt, it is not something within the shirt. Can you agree with this, or would you prefer to demonstrate how you think that it is more realistic to conceive of the pattern as something in the shirt, or on the shirt, rather than something which is said about the shirt?
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