• fresco
    467
    'Existence' is a human concept, and like all concepts requires context in which it is meaningful. The issue was perhaps highlighted my Niels Bohr's argument with Einstein about the existence of 'electrons'.
    Bohr argued that there were no 'things in their own right' we call 'electrons', only consistent human 'interactions' with an aspect of the world it was convenient to explain by the word 'electron'. Einstein, perhaps in line with his role in establishing 'the reality of atoms', disagreed.
    A current book by Rovelli (the Order of Time) underscores Bohr's view with the phrase 'things are just repetitive events.
    This proposed 'relativity of existence' seems to me to render most philosophical discussion of 'ontology' to be what Wittgenstein called Geschwätz (idle chatter).
    Any thoughts ?
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    My thoughts are:

    You may be correct that existence is relative, not absolute.

    Niels Bohr may be correct that Einstein may be incorrect about the existence of electrons.

    I really do not know which it is.

    I doubt anyone else here does either.

    My guess, Fresco, based on nothing but my great admiration of Einstein...is that Einstein probably is correct.
  • fresco
    467
    You still havn't worked it out have you Frank ! There is no way of 'testing' the thesis because it is transcendent of lay concepts of 'reality' (which the thesis also renders 'relative') against which normal testing is judged.And that is why your obsession with the word 'guess' is vacuous in this matter.

    I will spell it out for you, on the basis of 'the relativity of existence'...
    God 'exists' relative to believers, for whom it is a functional concept, but does 'not exist' for atheists, for whom it is a useless concept
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k
    My first thought is this: why is it apparently so difficult to not conflate concepts and what they're concepts of (or in response to)?

    I'm not disagreeing with "existence is relative." But existence isn't identical/coextensive with the concept of existence.
  • Mww
    995
    Any thoughts ?fresco

    Yes. Never been a fan of ontology in and of itself, so.....an inclination to agree. It contradicts experience in general to deny the existence of that which affects the senses, even if I don’t know what it is. If I merely think something, whether or not it exists reflects the understanding under which it is thought, in which case I must beware of contradicting only myself, my experience be what it may.

    “...Whatever be the content of our conception of an object, it is necessary to go beyond it, if we wish to predicate existence of the object. In the case of sensuous objects, this is attained by their connection according to empirical laws with some one of my perceptions; but there is no means of cognizing the existence of objects of pure thought, because it must be cognized completely a priori. But all our knowledge of existence (be it immediately by perception, or by inferences connecting some object with a perception) belongs entirely to the sphere of experience—which is in perfect unity with itself; and although an existence out of this sphere cannot be absolutely declared to be impossible, it is a hypothesis the truth of which we have no means of ascertaining....”
    (CPR, A601,B629)
  • fresco
    467
    Try thinking of 'the senses' as being a human concept useful in some contexts. The biologist, Maturana dismissed 'sense data' as necessary for his 'autopoiteic, systems view of the life process'.
    Obviously, normal biology and physiology is functional from a medical pov, but there is quite a lot resistance to a total mechanistic view. We of course use the naive realism of 'an external world' in our human urges to 'predict and control', but I suggest any supposed 'permanencies' in that world boil down to 'persistences of expectation of events' relative to our lifespans.
  • fresco
    467

    By assertng that 'a concept' is not idential to 'the object it conceives' you are immediately dismissing the relativity thesis by stepping back into the naive realism of 'objects'. Bohr was suggesting that what we call 'objects' are focal aspects of agreement about our experiences denoted by 'words'. Common species physiology tends to imply large areas of agreement which we tend to call 'objects'.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k
    Try thinking of 'the senses' as being a human concept useful in some contexts.fresco

    This again seems like conflating concepts and what they're concepts of/in response to.

    I'm not sure why you're doing that.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k
    you are immediately dismissing the relativity thesis by stepping back into the naive realism of 'objects'.fresco

    First, I am a realist.

    Secondly, realism does not at all imply non-relativity.

    I don't at all agree with Bohr.
  • fresco
    467

    ....and presumably you would also disagree with more recent scientific writers like Rovelli, and with the prevalent 'nonrepresentationalist' view of language which has became iconoclastic with respect to traditional (analytic) philosophy.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k


    Rovelli isn't ringing any bells offhand.

    Re "representationalism vs nonrepresentationalism" in phil of language, I'm not familiar enough with all of the claims of both sides to say that I'd fall on one side of the fence or another. Insofar as I'm familiar with it, it seems to be trivially the case that representationalism is part of the gist of language, but both sides must be saying something "deeper" than my understanding of the issue for there to be a significant dispute about it.
  • fresco
    467
    Only the nonrepresentationalists would appear to be going 'deeper' ! They are implying that 'meaning' resides in potentially shifting social consenus about joint projects. There have even been moves to proscribe the word 'is' as being misleadingly absolutist in situations involving non physicality. (See the 'E prime movement'). And the limitations of static set theory, with its fixed set membership which form the basis of classical logic, have been questioned from the pov of the dynamic 'fuzzy sets' approach.
  • TheGreatArcanum
    186
    it’s simple. a multitude of contingent reference frames presupposes a necessary reference frame which contains and unites them all. the necessary reference frame is existence itself. your claim that
    Existence' is a human conceptfresco
    presupposes that the word “Existence” does not point to anything with an essence, but to something without an essence, that is, to an empty set, but empty sets can only be contained within sets, and we know that particular reference frames exist...so the reference frame of all reference frames exists, and is an aspect of the Essence of Existence itself.
  • frank
    3.2k
    Existence' is a human concept, and like all concepts requires context in which it is meaningful.fresco

    Is something added by "human" here? Or is a certain metaphysics smuggled by that reference?

    Have you read Heidegger's. What is Metaphysics?
  • Mww
    995
    Try thinking of 'the senses' as being a human concept useful in some contexts.fresco

    Sure...as in Rorty’s non-representationalist attempt to overthrow Kantian epistemology.
    ————————

    any supposed 'permanencies' in that world boil down to 'persistences of expectation of events'.fresco

    There was a time when “knowledge” was perfectly adequate for saying that very thing.
  • fresco
    467

    The reference to 'human' implies that different species with non human physiologies might be able to communicate different expectancies. We might conceive of dolphins, say, with specialised acoustic systems being able to co-ordinate their hunting activities through what Maturana called 'languaging' which promotes 'structural coupling'.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    By assertng that 'a concept' is not idential to 'the object it conceives' you are immediately dismissing the relativity thesis by stepping back into the naive realism of 'objects'. Bohr was suggesting that what we call 'objects' are focal aspects of agreement about our experiences denoted by 'words'. Common species physiology tends to imply large areas of agreement which we tend to call 'objects'.fresco
    Then the concept that I have of your mind is identical to your mind, and your internet post and the following replies are a concept that originated in my mind when I read them, not yours (because your's and others' "minds" is just a concept that originated in my mind)? Is that not solipsism in a nutshell?
  • fresco
    467

    No. Its meaningless because we are not engaged on any mutual, everyday project. Its what Wittgenstein called 'language on holiday'. Words like 'mind' are irrelevant to a thesis which ultimately implies that 'observers' with 'minds' are inseparable from the so-called 'objects' they appear to contemplate. That point is precisely why Heidegger for one, needed to resort to neologisms
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k
    They are implying that 'meaning' resides in potentially shifting social consenus about joint projects.fresco

    I'm a subjectivist on meaning. Meaning resides in heads. It's not social. It's mental. There's no social mentality.

    There have even been moves to proscribe the word 'is' as being misleadingly absolutistfresco

    Not sure what that would amount to

    situations involving non physicality.fresco

    The notion of nonphysical things is incoherent.

    And the limitations of static set theory, with its fixed set membership which form the basis of classical logic, have been questioned from the pov of the dynamic 'fuzzy sets' approach.fresco

    We already have three unique topics above. I'll refrain from commenting on a fourth. ;-)
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    For some people, the sentence, "I do not know and because I lack clear, unambiguous evidence, I cannot make a meaningful guess"...is too painful to even consider, let alone say out loud.

    Too bad that!
  • fresco
    467
    Since words are socially acquired and the currency of what we call 'thought', I heartily dismiss your idea that 'meaning is subjective and in heads'.

    Physicality is mearly one aspect of 'thinghood'(expectancy of interaction) based on our common physiology. Try an 'abstract thing' like 'friend' or 'problem' as counter examples

    You may see three separate topics. I suggest the thesis implies not.
  • fresco
    467

    Keep up the mission Frank ! :smile:
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k
    Since words are socially acquiredfresco

    So, when the word "cat" is socially acquired, for example, what's actually acquired is the sound "cat" or the set of letters c-a-t if it's writing instead. The sound and the marks are not the same thing as the meaning.

    (I'd rather focus on one topic at a time, but we're already all over the map. I'll let you choose which topic to focus on first.)
  • aporiap
    164
    By assertng that 'a concept' is not idential to 'the object it conceives' you are immediately dismissing the relativity thesis by stepping back into the naive realism of 'objects'. Bohr was suggesting that what we call 'objects' are focal aspects of agreement about our experiences denoted by 'words'. Common species physiology tends to imply large areas of agreement which we tend to call 'objectsfresco
    I think it’s clear there’s something observer independent that you measure when you measure the charge of an electron. The property or feature being measured may not actually ‘be’ an electron - the concept may be incomplete or just a useful fiction to keep track of the properties being measured but that doesn't discount the independence of the actual measurement.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s existence as an independent existing thing is absolute either - it is dependent on a space-time position and the reason it’s distinguished and recognized as an object distinct from the background is because of its relevance to us and the way it interacts with us. What I’m trying to say is physicality can still exist but the way it’s catalogued and divided up is not intrinsic and is relative to whether the distinctions we make are meaningful to us. In that way existence of particular objects can be relative while still maintaining the reality of a larger observer independent whole
  • fresco
    467
    I suggest you read up on nonrepresentationalism.
    A child who first aquires the word 'cat' in situations of experiencing furry toys, or real animals, or picture books is quite likely to initiially use that word for what adults call 'dog'. What matters is social agreement about expectancy. Meaning resides in expectancy which is open to negotiation.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k


    How would you have objective (or more simply, observable) expectancy?

    What's something you'd recommend on nonrepresentationalism, though? I'll read it and comment to you as I do.
  • fresco
    467

    The first level of measurement is 'nominal' i.e. naming of 'the thing to be measured'. The naming of 'space' or 'time' is no exception. 'Space' and 'time' are 'things' by virtue of being useful concepts fof some human endeavours.

    There is no point in arguing about naive realistic axioms. The thesis rejects them by definition.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k
    The thesis rejects them by definition.fresco

    Which thesis are we referring to there? And if it rejects naive realistic "axioms," is it a worthwhile thesis?
  • fresco
    467
    You don't ! All you have is confidence levels of expectancy.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.6k
    ou don't ! All you have is confidence levels of expectancy.fresco

    If we don't have objective/observable expectancy, then (a) how do we have a social form of that? and (b) how are we getting to external meaning?
  • fresco
    467

    The thesis is presented in the title of this thread. It up to you to decide whether it is 'worthwhile'.
    It is for me because it exposes the futility of many so called 'philosophical debates'.
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