• Janus
    8.8k
    How is 'the common understanding' relevant for metaphysics? Just because it's something 'everyone knows' or think they know, doesn't make it so. Numbers and geometric concepts are a case in point.Wayfarer

    The common understanding and use of words determines their meaning or meanings. I'm not saying you can't invent new meanings, or rather new nuances of meaning, but there has to be some justification for doing so.
    It's not a matter of what people " think they know" but of the common understanding that meanings of terms are based upon.
    As to number: I imagine most people would say it is real. It is as real as difference. Likewise with geometry: it is as real as form and measure, and I doubt you would find many who deny the reality of those.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    It's not a matter of what people " think they know" but of the common understanding that meanings of terms are based upon.Janus

    It is exactly a matter of what they think they know. The problem is that we take some things for granted, because they are assumed to be "the common understanding", locked up into the way that we use the words. But the common understanding is often misunderstanding. it's almost like a fashion, we accept something as true because others do. This is evident in phrases like "the sun rises", and "the sun sets". These are phrases which used to represent the common understanding, things which people took for granted thousands of years ago, which we now know as misunderstanding, because we recognize that the earth rotates.

    This is the important point of Plato's cave allegory, the philosopher sees beyond the common understanding (which is really misunderstanding) to the true reality.

    The point is that human knowledge is grounded in things which we take for granted. But in reality these "things", (Wittgenstein's bedrock or hinge propositions) are the extreme limits of human knowledge, and they actual mark off, or even represent the unknown. When there appears to be a limit to what can be known about something (beyond this point appears to be beyond our intellectual capacity), we establish a principle which marks that limit, and allows us to work around that unknown element.

    So we find these principles in examples like Aristotle's "matter", and Newton's first law of motion. Notice that we do not at all understand what matter is, or what inertia is, but these principles allow us to work around this area of the unknown, that aspect of reality which appears to be beyond our intellectual capacity. These principles are very useful, and lend themselves to "the common understanding". However, we know from quantum mechanics that Newton's law of inertia does not properly represent the temporal continuity of physical existence. So this principle, Newton's first law, is something we take for granted, and it has become the common understanding, but it really is a misunderstanding, because it creates the illusion that we think we know what we do not really know, as the unknown lurks behind this principle.
  • Gnomon
    462
    The problem though, is that matter itself is just an idea, a concept.Metaphysician Undercover
    Yes. According to Idealism, ultimately, everything in reality is an idea in the mind of G*D. Enformationism is essentially an update of ancient Idealism, using our modern understanding of Information to clarify such enigmas as how Minds can emerge from Matter. Answer : It's all mind.

    That doesn't mean that you and I are ghosts, though. For us physical beings, what we perceive as real is as real as it gets. Since we are inside the Cave or the Matrix, so to speak, we can only imagine the "true" reality, unless someone like Plato comes along to unshackle our bodies, or like Morpheus to offer us the Red Pill.

    So, for all practical purposes, Matter is what the world is made of. And divine Mind is merely an idea.

    If that statement sounds like a reversal of the conclusion in the first paragraph, that's because Enformationism is a BothAnd worldview : our world consists of metaphysical Information in the Mind of G*D, but we perceive that Information as physical stuff. So, which is "true" depends on whether you are looking at the world from the Inside (subjective) or from Outside (objective). But we can "see" objectively only in imagination -- and then, only "in a glass darkly".
  • Gnomon
    462
    Real. Hence the fundamental truth of mathematical Platonism: that intelligible objects are real, but they're not material in natureWayfarer
    Yes. That's why I prefer to avoid the Real/Unreal dichotomy, and refer to Mathematical "structures" as Metaphysical, and material structures as Physical.

    As to number: I imagine most people would say it is real. It is as real as difference. Likewise with geometry: it is as real as form and measure, and I doubt you would find many who deny the reality of those.Janus
    Philosophers have argued about what's real for millennia, and the beat goes on. So, I simply say : "it's both/and".
    The BothAnd philosophy : http://bothandblog5.enformationism.info/page6.html
  • Janus
    8.8k
    Philosophers have argued about what's real for millennia, and the beat goes on. So, I simply say : "it's both/and".Gnomon

    Sure, something can be thought to be real in different senses, if there are different senses of the word. So, we can say that something could be empirically real but not real in any other sense. And we are able to conceive that something could be real despite not being empirically real, in the sense that it might be there but not available to the senses, even if augmented by instruments. But none of this tells us anything about what might be actually real beyond an empirical context. What is real can be conjectured or stipulated but its nature or character cannot always (if ever) be definitively determined.

    Given the understanding that humans have apparently only been around for about 200.000 years and the understanding of biological evolution and cosmology that says that life has been around for about 2,000,000,000 years and the Universe for about 14,000,000,000 years, we are firmly committed to saying that something was real prior to the advent of the empirical context.

    The usual idealist objection that this is being said from within the empirical context seems irrelevant to me, as long as naive realism is carefully avoided. We can say something was real prior to humans without saying anything about what it was "in itself". We know something was real prior to human life if we can trust our carbon dating methods and astronomical observations, because it has left traces that we can now observe.

    In the case of the earlier-than-human history of the Earth the best we can do is to imagine what we would have seen if we had been there. In talking about the reality of what is beyond human experience, we are talking about conjectured conditions whose nature cannot be known beyond what we know (or think we know) they have given rise to. From that it obviously doesn't follow that they just are what they have given rise to, as naive realism assumes. It pays to remember that trying to talk about these things pushes against the limits of language.

    I'm also interested to know how you interpret the idea of an intentional creator. Did the creator plan for some final outcome? If not are all outcomes precisely planned or was the creator like a computer programmer, producing an algorithm that is left to run and produce unpredictable outcomes? Is the creator sentient and sapient? Loving? Omnipotent? Infallible? Did the creator produce the laws of nature or must it work within them. Is the creator consciously aware of all events in its creation, or only some of them, or none of them?
  • Gnomon
    462
    But none of this tells us anything about what might be actually real beyond an empirical context.Janus
    Yes. That's why I prefer to make a different distinction from the usual Real/Ideal, Empirical/Theoretical Materialism/Spiritualism dichotomies. Materialism typically treats anything Ideal as non-existent. But then the Materialism hypothesis is itself an idea, so what is the status of its reality? Since we tend to accept our own ideas, memories, attitudes, feelings, and such as part of our personal reality, we need a name for that kind of non-physical realness. I suspect that the perceived need -- for a name with which to refer to mental intangibles (e.g. numbers, principles) collectively -- caused some ancient thinkers to adopt the informal title of Aristotle's second volume of his lectures on Nature (Physics) to cover everything immaterial. The Physics books discussed things we know via our senses (things-that-change in space & time, matter, hyle). But the Metaphysics books were mostly about human ideas, opinions, and theories regarding the external furnishings of Nature. You might call them the furniture of the mind.
    Meta-Physics : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page14.html

    we are firmly committed to saying that something was real prior to the advent of the empirical context.Janus
    The existence of the universe prior to the emergence of human consciousness is not empirically justified, because it is just a theory based on projection of current events into the past. We assume that physical reality was trucking along just fine with no minds to perceive it. Yet Bishop Berkeley argued that the world was being perceived, not just by humans, but also by God. So, when he asserted that “esse est percipi” (to be is to be perceived) he was not referring just to human observers. That may also be relevant to the interpretation expressed by quantum theorists, that the Quantum Observer Effect means that a particle doesn't really exist until it is measured. “To Measure” is from the root “mens-” meaning “mind”. So you could say that reality is what has been “touched” by a mind. In other words, what we take to be real is a subjective opinion, that must be carefully compared to opinions of other perceivers in order to assign it the imprimatur of Objective reality.
    Divine Observer : https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/261761-there-was-a-young-man-who-said-god-must-find

    In the case of the earlier-than-human history of the Earth the best we can do is to imagine what we would have seen if we had been there.Janus
    That is exactly what astronomers were doing, in the 1920s, when they calculated the trajectory of all observable matter back to the point of coincidence. Many of us now accept their, then controversial, interpretation that the real world did not exist 15 billion years ago, but suddenly emerged in the so-called Big Bang. Yet again, that is an expert opinion, based on their translation from abstract mathematical calculations into an imaginary scenario that the rest of us can visualize. So, you could reasonably say that “reality is a theory”.
    Reality is a Theory : http://bothandblog5.enformationism.info/page15.html
    Reality is Ideality : http://bothandblog5.enformationism.info/page17.html


    I'm also interested to know how you interpret the idea of an intentional creator.Janus
    The Enformationism worldview is based, in part, on my interpretation of the process of Evolution (En-form-ation) , not as a random chaotic mess, but as an orderly progression in the direction of Time's Arrow, toward some ultimate denouement, a resolution to this ongoing narrative. Of course, I have no idea what form that final summing-up will take, but it seems as certain as the Big Bang. The current scientific opinion is that reality will just fade away into the sunset. But other interpreters of evolution, such as Teillard deChardin, refer to the final chapter as the Omega Point, and describe it as the universe becoming something like a god. I'm not bold enough to go that far, but one allegorical scenario would be that our emerging world is like a fetus developing into the offspring of G*D. I wouldn't take that metaphor, or any other imaginary analogies too literally, but it gives us a way to imagine where we stand in the otherwise mysterious process of natural and cultural evolution. If that scenario is anywhere close to true, then we would have to attribute the human-like property of goal-oriented Intention to the First Cause and Prime Mover. Here's a chart I drew up to illustrate my concept of evolution from beginning to end.
    Cosmic Progression Chart : http://bothandblog3.enformationism.info/page28.html

    If not are all outcomes precisely planned or was the creator like a computer programmer, producing an algorithm that is left to run and produce unpredictable outcomes? Is the creator sentient and sapient? Loving? Omnipotent? Infallible? Did the creator produce the laws of nature or must it work within them. Is the creator consciously aware of all events in its creation, or only some of them, or none of them?Janus
    I don't claim to know anything about the Creator of our world beyond the properties that are logically necessary for such a Creation to exist. But my guess is that what I call "G*D" is more like a computer Programmer than the Great Magician portrayed in Genesis. This blog post may answer your other questions.
    The EnFormAction Hypothesis : http://bothandblog3.enformationism.info/page23.html
  • Gnomon
    462
    while metaphysics as I would like to construe it is about the necessary, a priori philosophical framework needed to go about doing such description:Pfhorrest
    Actually, your definition of Metaphysics is not that different from mine. The primary distinction is that your terminology seems to derive from your education in Philosophy. But, since I have no formal training in Philosophy or Science, beyond first year 101-level classes, my labels may be more idiosyncratic. And they are primarily derived from years of autodidact reading in general scientific & philosophical publications. For those schooled in traditional terminology, my quirky terms may be puzzling. So, that's why I have compiled a glossary for those interested in decoding the unconventional Enformationism worldview.
    Meta-Physics : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page14.html

    My somewhat unconventional use of "Meta-Physics" is also about that which is "necessary" and "a priori", which in my worldview is the Mind of G*D, and its subsidiary human minds. In other words, about Ideas and Ideals rather than the things and objects of Physics.

    In my Codex Quaerendae (I guess we're allowed to link our personal projects here?)Pfhorrest
    I have begun reading your Book of Questions, but it will take time to review its manifold topics. As an amateur website builder, I find the graphics very well done. I'm afraid mine are rather crude & garish by comparison.

    I like to think of the last four as being about the "objects of morality" or less verbosely as about purpose, will, intention, and governance.Pfhorrest
    My thesis is more about Ontology & Epistemology than Ethics & Morality, but it covers some of the same topics as yours : "purpose, will, intention, and governance" --- the last being more about natural laws than civil.
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