• 3017amen
    2.6k
    Greetings!

    Those of you who know about Closer to the Truth interview series, may have seen this interview (below) with physicist Roger Penrose. I found it interesting that Roger, in this context of existence, refers to himself as not a dualist but a trialist (a different form of Trialism) where he believes in: mind, matter, and mathematics as things existing universally, objectively.

    Common sense says that we can prove these three things exist, and that they are somewhat independent (mutually exclusive) from each other, yet are solely dependent on each for their own existence. How can we resolve this paradox?

    With respect to abstract objective truth's, an example could be the engineer's job. The structural engineer uses mathematical formulas to create structural members (size and details; moment connections, axial and torsional forces, tensile and compressive strength, and so forth) so that they can be physically sized and built (beams, trusses, decks, etc.). The civil engineer can also run calculations to determine water flow /velocities for drainage structures and other physical infrastructure uses and needs, along with the electrical engineer's calculations that harness power for its intended purposes (resistance/conductor size, transformer size, etc.) of sustaining parts of the physical world we've created. So, we know underlying the physical, is the abstract mathematical.

    Now we add the mental (or consciousness) that is necessary for understanding and perceiving the forgoing physical and mathematical things that we know exist, which would square with Roger's three things we know exist.

    (Other than the aforementioned paradox--if you consider those as having an independent existence-- he did not mention Time. Some agree that Time is the 4th-dimension.)

    My brief thesis is, other than the physical, it appears that there are more abstract things existing than there are concrete things existing, to a value of 3 to 1. And if one were to include the concept of Time&Change, are we existing in more of an abstract reality than not?

    I hope you enjoy the interview:

  • Gnomon
    978
    I found it interesting that Roger, in this context of existence, refers to himself as not a dualist but a trialist (a different form of Trialism) where he believes in: mind, matter, and mathematics as things existing universally, objectively.3017amen
    Penrose has some good ideas, but as a mathematician, he seems to be swayed by the long-successful physical method of Reductionism, which divides things into ever-smaller sub-categories. Rather than dividing Reality into a third category, I prefer to view it as a universal Whole with no hard (objective) dividing lines between classes of things. That makes me a Monist.

    In my worldview, Mind, Matter & Mathematics are all forms of universal generic Information. Even Space & Time are mental concepts that are also forms of Information. This theory may be hard for reductionists & materialists to grasp, It's a form of Holism. where the whole is more than the sum of the parts. That something extra is Potential, which I call EnFormAction. In physics it would be labelled Energy, but in metaphysics it's Mind or Consciousness.

    Ironically, Mind, Matter, & Mathematics are usually considered to be non-objective because they are not tangible physical objects. I suppose Penrose means we can all agree that they exist, even though we may disagree about the details --- for example, the so-called "strings" of String Theory are mathematical "objects" that we struggle to even imagine. :nerd:


    Information :
    . . . .Claude Shannon quantified Information not as useful ideas, but as a mathematical ratio between meaningful order (1) and meaningless disorder (0); between knowledge (1) and ignorance (0). So, that meaningful mind-stuff exists in the limbo-land of statistics, producing effects on reality while having no sensory physical properties. We know it exists ideally, only by detecting its effects in the real world.
    . . . . .For humans, Information has the semantic quality of aboutness , that we interpret as meaning. In computer science though, Information is treated as meaningless, which makes its mathematical value more certain. It becomes meaningful only when a sentient Self interprets it as such.
    . . . . .When spelled with an “I”, Information is a noun, referring to data & things. When spelled with an “E”, Enformation is a verb, referring to energy and processes.

    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page11.html
  • Gregory
    1.9k
    Mathematics is inherently Platonic. All numbers share a nature
  • A Seagull
    621
    Roger, in this context of existence, refers to himself as not a dualist but a trialist (a different form of Trialism) where he believes in: mind, matter, and mathematics as things existing universally, objectively.3017amen

    I agree in general with this. But I would generalise 'mathematics' to the class of abstract logical systems, which would include mathematics but allow for other abstract logical systems.
  • 3017amen
    2.6k
    Rather than dividing Reality into a third category, I prefer to view it as a universal Whole with no hard (objective) dividing lines between classes of things. That makes me a Monist.Gnomon


    Gnomon!

    How does your belief system square with Hermeticism?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.4k
    That’s basically my view as well. Everything is just “mathematical structures” which is to say information. The physical world is the mathematical structure of which we are a part. Empirical observation of physical things is the passing of information from those things (which are defined by their function, what information they transmit in response to what information they receive) to ourselves, the output of their function becoming the input to our own function, our phenomenal “consciousness” or experience. Our actual consciousness in the useful sense, access consciousness, is in turn just a reflexive feature of our own functionality. Math, mind, and matter are all the same things, ontologically speaking at least.
  • Gnomon
    978
    How does your belief system square with Hermeticism?3017amen
    It doesn't. :cool:
  • Gnomon
    978
    Everything is just “mathematical structures” which is to say information. The physical world is the mathematical structure of which we are a part.Pfhorrest
    I like Donald Hoffman's analogy of perceived reality as the display screen for a computer, where the actual workings are concealed behind the screen. What we see are symbolic icons, not the ding an sich. :nerd:

    Interface Reality : http://bothandblog6.enformationism.info/page21.html
  • christian2017
    1.4k
    That’s basically my view as well. Everything is just “mathematical structures” which is to say information. The physical world is the mathematical structure of which we are a part. Empirical observation of physical things is the passing of information from those things (which are defined by their function, what information they transmit in response to what information they receive) to ourselves, the output of their function becoming the input to our own function, our phenomenal “consciousness” or experience. Our actual consciousness in the useful sense, access consciousness, is in turn just a reflexive feature of our own functionality. Math, mind, and matter are all the same things, ontologically speaking at least.Pfhorrest

    So you would say the fact that you or i have feeling/consciessness is a product of something along the lines that the universe to some extent has feeling/consciessness. I'm not sure how information directly (as opposed to indirectly) equate to feeling/consciessssness.

    I'll give you an example. If morse code is sent via telegraph in the 19th century and 2 page paper is sent that way, the only feeling/consciessness involved is the people who already have feeling/consciessness prior to the morse code/telegraph usage. The people would have had feeling/consciessness prior to the use of morse code. You could say the morse code altered the people's feelings but did not cause their feelings. The people would have had feelings/consciessness either way.

    So what i'm saying is, what initailly caused feeling/consciessness billions of years ago, because information or signals doesn't seem to be the cause but you could say information or signals or stimuli does alter feeling/consciessness.
  • christian2017
    1.4k


    next time i talk about consciessness i'll just eventually swap that word out with feeling/awareness because the definition of consciessness is:

    the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings.

    I think most people will understand the relation.
  • wiyte
    31
    I lthink of our sense of the universe as having both an energy and matter aspect.

    In this way, space is like a huge internet, intelligent energy in the air.

    The pixels of the universe all chaotic. Tiny, moving particles in mind space, all matter, but also energy.

    If this energy side perceived, the universe has more liquidity to it, there could be ciphers, and mind computers, etc.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.4k
    There are two different senses of "consciousness" we need to distinguish. One is a completely functional ("mechanical" if you like) sense, called "access consciousness", which is uncontroversially replicable by a machine. If you built something that could act and talk like a human being, including reporting on the states of its brain-equivalent the way that we can, that would be access conscious.

    The remaining question besides that is about "phenomenal consciousness", which is just the having of any first-person experience at all. The robot described above might just be reproducing human behavior, without actually having any first-person experience of its own, at least so they say. My answer to that question of phenonemal consciousness is just, yes, everything has it, but the character of any individual thing's phenomenal consciousness varies with its function exactly like its behavior does. So anything that behaves exactly like a human, including in internal ways, has the same experience as a human does. Things that have very different, much simpler behaviors, like rocks, still technically have a first-person experience, but there is as little to say about what that's like as there is to say about its behavior.

    Tying back to abstract stuff, on my account that having of a first-person experience is just being the recipient of a transfer of information (as all interactions between all things are transfers of information). The interesting things about human conscious experience is the way that transfers of information loop around in complex reflexive ways within us: most of the notable aspects of our experience are experiences of ourselves experiencing ourselves experiencing ourselves experiencing... eventually, the rest of the world. But if we just experienced the world and then didn't do anything with that experience (like remember it, where memory is itself precisely such a loop of self-experience), we wouldn't have the interestingly complex consciousness that we do; we would just be like rocks, passively receiving information and not doing anything with it.
  • christian2017
    1.4k
    There are two different senses of "consciousness" we need to distinguish. One is a completely functional ("mechanical" if you like) sense, called "access consciousness", which is uncontroversially replicable by a machine. If you built something that could act and talk like a human being, including reporting on the states of its brain-equivalent the way that we can, that would be access conscious.

    The remaining question besides that is about "phenomenal consciousness", which is just the having of any first-person experience at all. The robot described above might just be reproducing human behavior, without actually having any first-person experience of its own, at least so they say. My answer to that question of phenonemal consciousness is just, yes, everything has it, but the character of any individual thing's phenomenal consciousness varies with its function exactly like its behavior does. So anything that behaves exactly like a human, including in internal ways, has the same experience as a human does. Things that have very different, much simpler behaviors, like rocks, still technically have a first-person experience, but there is as little to say about what that's like as there is to say about its behavior.

    Tying back to abstract stuff, on my account that having of a first-person experience is just being the recipient of a transfer of information. The interesting things about human conscious experience is the way that transfers of information loop around in complex reflexive ways within us: most of the notable aspects of our experience are experiences of ourselves experiencing ourselves experiencing ourselves experiencing... eventually, the rest of the world. But if we just experienced the world and then didn't do anything with that experience (like remember it, where memory is itself precisely such a loop of self-experience), we wouldn't have the interestingly complex consciousness that we do; we would just be like rocks, passively receiving information and not doing anything with it.
    Pfhorrest

    Based on your past 2 or maybe 3 posts, this sounds like collective conscience or collective soul, it is common to Hinduism, Buddism, Druidism, Witch craft, and New age.

    To be honest with you it actually makes alot of sense and is atleast an alternative explanation to why there is feeling/awareness/awakeness/conscie... other than the traditional creator that is common to the old cliche "the west".
  • Wayfarer
    10.2k
    ‘Mathematics seems to have its own kind of existence ~ Penrose. Of course, I agree with this, as I’ve just posted an argument for the same point in Pfhorrest’s thread on logic and maths. What interests me is the notion that there are ‘kinds’ of existence, I mean, normally, we would presume that something either exists or it doesn’t; tables, chairs and horses exist; the square root of two and unicorns do not. Whereas, if mathematics has ‘its own kind’ of existence then it exists in a different sense to physical objects.

    Tying back to abstract stuff, on my account that having of a first-person experience is just being the recipient of a transfer of information (as all interactions between all things are transfers of information). The interesting things about human conscious experience is the way that transfers of information loop around in complex reflexive ways within us: most of the notable aspects of our experience are experiences of ourselves experiencing ourselves experiencing ourselves experiencing... eventually, the rest of the world.Pfhorrest

    Where I would question Penrose, is in respect of his argument that the Universe pre-exists human consciousness. You see, this fantastically complex organ that we have - the brain - is actually an incredibly sophisticated simulator. The whole universe, including the ancient past, billions of years before h. Sapiens came along - is projected by this simulator. It is senseless to ask how or in what way the universe exists ‘outside of’ or ‘apart from’ that simulated act — because we’re never outside of it.

    But there’s a deep cognitive or perceptual mistake going on in our minds. This is that we instinctively and reflexively divide the Universe into ‘self and other’. That is one of the fundamental daemons — automated configurations — of consciousness. It’s a self-executing routine that operates prior to any statement about ‘the world’. That sets up the backdrop of the ‘ancient universe’ with us as recently-arrived organisms. But where or what is that backdrop, if not in the brain-mind of h. sapiens? But naturalism doesn’t see that, for the obvious reason that it’s nowhere to be found in the objective domain; it is prior to or underlying any objective judgement.

    “[Materialism] seeks the primary and most simple state of matter, and then tries to develop all the others from it; ascending from mere mechanism, to chemistry, to polarity, to the vegetable and to the animal kingdom. And if we suppose this to have been done, the last link in the chain would be animal sensibility - that is knowledge - which would consequently now appear as a mere modification or state of matter produced by causality. Now if we had followed materialism thus far with clear ideas, when we reached its highest point we would suddenly be seized with a fit of the inextinguishable laughter of the Olympians. As if waking from a dream, we would all at once become aware that its final result — knowledge, which it reached so laboriously — was presupposed as the indispensable condition of its very starting-point, mere matter; and when we imagined that we thought ‘matter,’ we really thought only ‘the subject that perceives matter; the eye that sees it, the hand that feels it, the understanding that knows it’. Thus the tremendous petitio principii reveals itself unexpectedly.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

    (Petitio principii is begging of the question, or assuming what needs to be proven.)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.7k
    But there’s a deep cognitive or perceptual mistake going on in our minds. This is that we instinctively and reflexively divide the Universe into ‘self and other’.Wayfarer

    Why do you say that this is a mistake? Don't you think that there is a real separation between you and I, and that my thinking is distinct from your thinking?

    But where or what is that backdrop, if not in the brain-mind of h. sapiens?Wayfarer

    What does this mean, the "mind of h. sapiens"? Surely my mind is distinct from your mind, just as my thinking is distinct from your thinking. How could there possibly a collective "mind of h. sapiens"?
  • Wayfarer
    10.2k
    Why do you say that this is a mistake? Don't you think that there is a real separation between you and I, and that my thinking is distinct from your thinking?Metaphysician Undercover

    It’s real but not ultimate. Ultimately we're not outside of or apart from reality. Philosophy is concerned with reality as lived, not simply with objective analysis. Wittgenstein said 'We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.'
  • jjAmEs
    184
    Where I would question Penrose, is in respect of his argument that the Universe pre-exists human consciousness. You see, this fantastically complex organ that we have - the brain - is actually an incredibly sophisticated simulator. The whole universe, including the ancient past, billions of years before h. Sapiens came along - is projected by this simulator. It is senseless to ask how or in what way the universe exists ‘outside of’ or ‘apart from’ that simulated act — because we’re never outside of it.Wayfarer

    Doesn't this open up the old can of worms? The brain in this case is just one more part of the simulation. The 'subject' is one more piece of the 'object.' And the simulation metaphor only has force against some background of actuality. How can the brain or the subject play this role? It's part of the dream. The intelligibility of the dream (our talk about) is a quilt of inter-related concepts.

    But I like 'we are never outside it.' I'd just say that we are never outside of language. Or at least that we can't talk about being outside language without being threatened by a kind of glitch.

    But there’s a deep cognitive or perceptual mistake going on in our minds. This is that we instinctively and reflexively divide the Universe into ‘self and other’. That is one of the fundamental daemons — automated configurations — of consciousness. It’s a self-executing routine that operates prior to any statement about ‘the world’. That sets up the backdrop of the ‘ancient universe’ with us as recently-arrived organisms. But where or what is that backdrop, if not in the brain-mind of h. sapiens? But naturalism doesn’t see that, for the obvious reason that it’s nowhere to be found in the objective domain; it is prior to or underlying any objective judgement.Wayfarer

    I think you are leaving out part of the Mobius strip. Where is the world that preceded the brain but in the brain? And yet where is the brain if not in the universe that preceded it? Why wouldn't your argument work against the prior existence of your own parents? Did they really exist before they engendered you? Or are they just your dream? I do see your point. I'm just emphasizing the problem that keeps a classic debate alive indefinitely.

    I agree that we tend to ignore the backdrop of a functioning language, and this is precisely because it functions so well when we aren't doing philosophy.

    That which is ontically closest and well known, is ontologically the farthest and not known at all; and its ontological signification is constantly overlooked. — Heidegger

    What is “familiarly known” is not properly known, just for the reason that it is “familiar”. When engaged in the process of knowing, it is the commonest form of self-deception, and a deception of other people as well, to assume something to be familiar, and give assent to it on that very account. Knowledge of that sort, with all its talk, never gets from the spot, but has no idea that this is the case. Subject and object, and so on, God, nature, understanding, sensibility, etc., are uncritically presupposed as familiar and something valid, and become fixed points from which to start and to which to return. The process of knowing flits between these secure points, and in consequence goes on merely along the surface. — Hegel

    So maybe naturalism as a metaphysical position has its problems, but it's also and perhaps more importantly an attitude.

    If it is 'the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted,' then what is the objection? But what does 'supernatural' even mean here? Are gods metaphors or physical objects? Or something in between? We might look not only at a bias against the supernatural but against a toothless philosophy in general. I suggest that the real issue is less ideological than technological. The gap is between the domain of opinion and the domains of expertise that create a cure for the current virus or replace fossil fuels as an energy source, for instance. The rest is politics, one might joke. Metaphysics, religion, literature. These answer who we are and more concrete what we should do. Naturalism as a theory seems more about a secular attitude (cultural politics, 'Inherit the Wind').
  • Wayfarer
    10.2k
    Doesn't this open up the old can of worms? The brain in this case is just one more part of the simulation.jjAmEs

    There was a risk in my saying that 'the brain is simulator' - but rhetorically, that gets traction, because we know the brain is fantastically complex, and that the number of neural connections exceeds the number of stars in the sky. So as an idea, it resonates with us.

    But what I was really trying to get at is that you can't make mind into an object. You can't get outside it. You can't, as it were, consider reason 'from the outside', because to consider reason requires the use of reason. So theories about the nature of mind founder in some fundamental way, because we can't make mind an object. Whereas, theories about objects of various kinds have a left-hand side and right-hand side, we don't stand in that relationship with the mind, as it's not other to us.

    We deal with the world through the objective stance, through making objects of things and working out how objects interact, which is fundamental to scientific method. But the 'nature of mind' is not amongst the objects of science; rationality is what makes science possible in the first place. Whereas, we foolishly believe that science 'explains' reason in terms of adaptation. See the problem? This is basically very much like Husserl's criticism of naturalism, if I understand it correctly.

    I think you are leaving out part of the Mobius strip. Where is the world that preceded the brain but in the brain? And yet where is the brain if not in the universe that preceded it? Why wouldn't your argument work against the prior existence of your own parents? Did they really exist before they engendered you?jjAmEs

    The important point is the role of the mind in establishing temporal sequence - on any scale. That is Kant's 'primary intuition' - that neither time nor space are real independently of the perceiving mind. That is the sense in which the mind 'constructs' or 'creates' - not that things come into or go out of existence, depending on whether they're perceived or not, but that the mind creates the very framework within which any statement about what exists is meaningful in the first place. When we imagine the vast universe before any human existed, that is still a cognitive act. Likewise if we imagine it going out of existence. Mind is always implicit in such conceptions - which is pretty well exactly the import of the Hegel quote you kindly provided.

    Of course, empirically, the vast world/ancient universe existed before the birth of you, me or anyone. But empirical facts appear to minds. We would like to think that all such 'facts' exist irrespective of whether there is any mind or none, but that is a kind of conceit, the conceit that our sensory intelligence can see things as they truly are.

    That which is ontically closest and well known, is ontologically the farthest and not known at all. — Heidegger

    'God is nearer to you than your jugular vein' ~ the Q'ran.

    Naturalism as a theory seems more about a secular attitudejjAmEs

    Mostly, it's about control.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.7k
    t’s real but not ultimate. Ultimately we're not outside of or apart from reality. Philosophy is concerned with reality as lived, not simply with objective analysis. Wittgenstein said 'We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.'Wayfarer

    The problem though, is that you've described the universe as a product of the human brain:

    Where I would question Penrose, is in respect of his argument that the Universe pre-exists human consciousness. You see, this fantastically complex organ that we have - the brain - is actually an incredibly sophisticated simulator. The whole universe, including the ancient past, billions of years before h. Sapiens came along - is projected by this simulator. It is senseless to ask how or in what way the universe exists ‘outside of’ or ‘apart from’ that simulated act — because we’re never outside of it.Wayfarer

    Now, since my brain is distinct from your brain, and my thoughts are distinct from your thoughts, then my universe must be distinct from your universe. Therefore, ultimately reality is particular and unique to each of us. So the real mistake is in the idea that we are all a part of one universe, because ultimately we each have our own distinct reality, and our own distinct universe. That is the necessary conclusion from your premise that the universe is a simulation produced by the human brain.

    I agree that we tend to ignore the backdrop of a functioning language, and this is precisely because it functions so well when we aren't doing philosophy.jjAmEs

    Language is an important part of the picture, because it is through language that we bridge the separation, attempting to unite our separate universes. The fact that we can build these bridges, communication and communion, indicates that the separation, though it is ultimate, is not absolute. Ultimately, we are separate and distinct, but the very same thing which separates us, the medium, we can manipulate and use as a tool to unite us. That is, if we are willing.

    But what I was really trying to get at is that you can't make mind into an object. You can't get outside it. You can't, as it were, consider reason 'from the outside', because to consider reason requires the use of reason. So theories about the nature of mind founder in some fundamental way, because we can't make mind an object. Whereas, theories about objects of various kinds have a left-hand side and right-hand side, we don't stand in that relationship with the mind, as it's not other to us.Wayfarer

    Yes, this is a very good point. We understand physical objects through their spatial properties, but the mind, and it's intelligible 'objects' (if we choose to call these 'objects') cannot be understood through spatial properties. Such 'objects' are not spatial objects. However, once we learn, and understand this fundamental fact, we can look at these properties of the mind, and describe them in other terms, temporal terms, rather than spatial. As you suggest, Kant gives us some insight here, saying that time is an internal intuition, will space is external. But the important temporal concept, of causation, specifically final cause, free will, and intentional actions, is where we really need to focus, if we want to make mind into an object for analysis.

    We deal with the world through the objective stance, through making objects of things and working out how objects interact, which is fundamental to scientific method. But the 'nature of mind' is not amongst the objects of science; rationality is what makes science possible in the first place. Whereas, we foolishly believe that science 'explains' reason in terms of adaptation. See the problem? This is basically very much like Husserl's criticism of naturalism, if I understand it correctly.Wayfarer

    We could start with Plato's famous analogy. The "good" is what illuminates the intelligible objects, making them intelligible, just like the sun illuminates visible objects, making them visible. "Good" here is well understood in Aristotelian terms of final cause, purpose, "that for the sake of which". The "good" is what initiates a human action. Accordingly, the intelligible objects become intelligible to us when they are seen to serve a purpose. And, they are intelligible only to the extent that they do serve a purpose. This renders the beauty and eloquence of pure mathematics as unintelligible, just like the beauty of pure fine art is unintelligible, as pure form with no content. There is beauty there, but pure beauty, beauty without purpose or meaning makes no sense to the intellect and is fundamentally unintelligible.

    You might see the foundation for pragmaticism here, but pragmaticism fails because it provides no approach to the good itself. Under pragmaticism everything might be valued according to its utility, but there are no principles to judge the goods themselves, to establish a hierarchy of goods. So pragmaticism falls short. Aristotle addresses this in his Nichomachean Ethics.

    The important point is the role of the mind in establishing temporal sequence - on any scale.Wayfarer

    This would be the key principle, the importance of the temporal sequence. The passage of time is fundamental in its role as shaping the thoughts, activities, and forms of all living beings. Once we recognize that we are active, living beings, rather than passive observing beings, scientism, which assumes the reality of passive, empirical observation, implodes, because observation is actually nothing other than a purpose driven activity. And the "purpose", being final cause or intention, is hidden from view, it's unobservable. So the most important aspect of reality, the part with priority, is unobservable.

    Therefore we need to start all over, with a logical analysis of the source of activity, "the good", in order to understand all the non-spatial structures which human minds have created in their efforts to facilitate their spatial activities. From the proper temporal sequence we see Plato's cave allegory clearly. The community structures of the sensible world are a reflection of the non-spatial cause. And we extend this principle to the entire sensible world, it is a reflection of the non-spatial cause.
  • Wayfarer
    10.2k
    The problem though, is that you've described the universe as a product of the human brain:Metaphysician Undercover

    But you can't get outside of them and say brain here, universe there. Well, you can - if you study cosmology, on the one hand, and neuroscience, on the other. But here we're discussing lived reality.

    my universe must be distinct from your universe.Metaphysician Undercover

    When I studied Vedanta, my lecturer had many quaint expressions, one of which was 'a universe under every hat'.

    Some good observations there MU.

    Now, I have to sign out, I'm working on a creative writing project and will come back after I get to 20,000 words. Chat later.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    But what I was really trying to get at is that you can't make mind into an object. You can't get outside it. You can't, as it were, consider reason 'from the outside', because to consider reason requires the use of reason. So theories about the nature of mind founder in some fundamental way, because we can't make mind an object.Wayfarer

    I relate to this, though I prefer 'language' to 'mind.' The isolated subject is a problematic concept, although useful for certain purposes. Philosophy looks like reason/language trying to articulate its own nature. I agree that it's not like a physical object and with criticisms of naive ontologies that identity the 'physical' and the 'real,' as if these weren't staggeringly complex concepts.

    But the 'nature of mind' is not amongst the objects of science; rationality is what makes science possible in the first place. Whereas, we foolishly believe that science 'explains' reason in terms of adaptation. See the problem? This is basically very much like Husserl's criticism of naturalism, if I understand it correctly.Wayfarer

    This is a great issue. Science does concern itself with the nature of mind, though. What about psychology? Where I can agree is that we have conceptual frameworks that make science possible which depend on a kind of pre-science (folk philosophy of science at least).

    I'm quite interested in the concept of explanation. When is something explained? We are often satisfied with prediction and control. We also like the unfamiliar to be related to the familiar. But explanation in some grand or ideal sense of the whole of existence looks impossible to me, for scientists and metaphysicians. The most that seems possible is deriving everything from a brute fact that is true for no reason. The child asking why-why-why is able to discover this.

    I think we agree in a criticism of the complacency of a certain kind of scientism.

    Mostly, it's about control.Wayfarer

    Right, so the metaphysical naturalists are old fashioned metaphysicians --relatively pious compared to the dominant bottom-line hammer-and-nails post-ideological pragmatism that is perhaps the dominant spirit these days.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    Ultimately, we are separate and distinct, but the very same thing which separates us, the medium, we can manipulate and use as a tool to unite us.Metaphysician Undercover

    I can't see us as ultimately separate and distinct. To me the self as a concept depends on a community, and the reverse. To be human is to be social, to be one among others.
  • Wayfarer
    10.2k
    Science does concern itself with the nature of mind, though. What about psychology?jjAmEs

    Modern psychology is a very confused discipline. I’m reading through Dermot Moran’s Introduction to Husserl’s Crisis of European Sciences - Husserl likewise takes an extremely dim view of what passes for psychology in the European sciences. He thinks that the lamentable state of the science is one of the symptoms of the crisis. I’m going to do a bit of a deep dive on Husserl. I’ve also discovered a contemporary German philosopher, Sebastian Rodl, who defends absolute idealism. I find him exceedingly hard to understand, but I *think* he’s saying something very similar to what I am arguing in this thread (Read the first two sentences!)

    But, as I mentioned above, I’m also working on some creative writing, and I’m finding that it’s far too easy to sit down and log onto here instead of the hard slog of occupying a blank page with original prose. So as much as I enjoy these exchanges, and I really do, I have made a promise to myself to log off until I hit the 20,000 word mark, which is going to probably take the rest of April, so I’ll bid adieu for now.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    I’m reading through Dermot Moran’s Introduction to Husserl’s Crisis of European SciencesWayfarer

    Awesome. I've read that recently and thought it was great.

    Modern psychology is a very confused discipline.Wayfarer

    Even if that's true (I can't say), humans do apply the scientific method to the human mind. From the hammer-and-nails pragmatic point of view, we might think of campaign managers and advertisement professionals applying and developing a know-how.

    So as much as I enjoy these exchanges, and I really do, I have made a promise to myself to log off until I hit the 20,000 word mark, which is going to probably take the rest of April, so I’ll bid adieu for now.Wayfarer

    Understood. Good luck!
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.7k
    When is something explained? We are often satisfied with prediction and control.jjAmEs

    Prediction is not explanation at all. People have been predicting that the sun will come up tomorrow, for a very long time now, most of that time without any real explanation of why it should. The prediction is based on the fact that it's been that way in the past and there is no reason to think that it will change, it's not based on an understanding of the event.

    But some people are satisfied with prediction, as explanation, and this is evident in the attitude that some have toward quantum physics. They think that because physicists can predict certain behaviours, they therefore understand the phenomena which they are predicting.

    I can't see us as ultimately separate and distinct. To me the self as a concept depends on a community, and the reverse. To be human is to be social, to be one among others.jjAmEs

    I am not talking about the self as a concept, I am talking about individual, thinking human beings, like you and I.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    Prediction is not explanation at all. People have been predicting that the sun will come up tomorrow, for a very long time now, most of that time without any real explanation of why it should.Metaphysician Undercover

    I agree that we have some vague higher notion of genuine explanation. But to me this is a kind of itch that is never actually scratched or scratch-able.

    There is more than one theory of explanation, but take this one for example:

    For the explanans to successfully explain the explanandum several conditions must be met. First, “the explanandum must be a logical consequence of the explanans” and “the sentences constituting the explanans must be true” (Hempel, 1965, p. 248). That is, the explanation should take the form of a sound deductive argument in which the explanandum follows as a conclusion from the premises in the explanans. This is the “deductive” component of the model. Second, the explanans must contain at least one “law of nature” and this must be an essential premise in the derivation in the sense that the derivation of the explanandum would not be valid if this premise were removed. This is the “nomological” component of the model—“nomological” being a philosophical term of art which, suppressing some niceties, means (roughly) “lawful”. — link
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-explanation/#DNMod

    The obvious question is why is nature that way? We end up accepting various structures as 'true for no reason' or 'just the way things are.' One way to understand a certain kind of metaphysician is as a denier of such brute contingency. Crude religion just creates a person as an explanation. All things are 'ultimately' explained by the will of God. The metaphysical attempt perhaps involves some kind of self-transparent principle. The mystical version is some kind of intuition that transcends reason. To me all of these are dodges, though I understand that humans are satisfied emotionally thereby and that this is semi-secretly the point.
  • jjAmEs
    184
    But some people are satisfied with prediction, as explanation, and this is evident in the attitude that some have toward quantum physics. They think that because physicists can predict certain behaviours, they therefore understand the phenomena which they are predicting.Metaphysician Undercover

    'I think I can safely say that no­body un­der­stands quan­tum me­chan­ics.' (Feynman)
    http://www.eng.fsu.edu/~dommelen/quantum/style_a/botline.html

    What's interesting about QM is that a satisfying intuitive grasp is not necessary to use the theory. In my view, the generations come and go without individuals understanding exactly what they mean by this or that word. We inherit technology (sometimes just the conventions of language) and use it more or less successfully. A few of us (philosophers) are especially semantically itchy, and some of us pretend to have finally grasped fully the nature of things --to be more than engineers tinkering.

    To me there's something like a spectrum that runs from pious theory to worldly practice. We also find this in philosophy, with certain anti-philosophers at the center of the philosophical tradition. The genre has expanded to include its most potent critics.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.7k
    What's interesting about QM is that a satisfying intuitive grasp is not necessary to use the theory.jjAmEs

    That principle, "use", provides the basis for the difference between prediction and explanation. Prediction is designed for use, in general, it is pragmatic. And there are no inherent restrictions on how prediction might be used. Explanation is designed for understanding. Well, you might say that to be used for understanding is itself a particular type of use, so explanation is designed for use as well as prediction, it is designed for use in understanding. But what we do is narrow the field of "use", restrict it, by imposing understanding, as the particular purpose, what is desired as final end. And when we use prediction in this way, as a means of explanation, with the goal of understanding, we recognize that although predictions may be useful for understanding, by themselves they are not sufficient.

    To me there's something like a spectrum that runs from pious theory to worldly practice.jjAmEs

    So I wouldn't describe it as a spectrum, because a spectrum is differing degrees of the same quality, whereas prediction and explanation are distinct qualities. Prediction might be used for a wide range of purposes, including explanation. It is inherently useful. But when prediction is used for explanation it only constitutes a part of an explanation because prediction alone is insufficient to produce understanding. Therefore it's not a matter of a spectrum because we need to determine that other part explanation which is distinctly different from prediction.
  • jjAmEs
    184


    I think you are missing the big picture. At some points lots of thinkers abandoned theological curiosities and looked toward worldly power.

    For they made me see that it is possible to achieve knowledge which would be very useful for life and that, in place of the speculative philosophy that is taught in the Schools, it is possible to find a practical philosophy by which, knowing the forces of actions of fire, water, air, the stars, the heavens and all the other bodies that surround us, as distinctly as we know the various crafts of our artisans, we should be able to use them in the same way for all the applications for which they are appropriate, and thereby make ourselves, as it were, the lords and masters of nature. — Descartes

    Let's make prediction a little more worldly. Algorithms can help salesmen choose which customers are more likely to buy. Prediction is one piece of squeezing what we want from our environments. In the real world we are forced to make decisions. Generations come and go without permanent metaphysical satisfaction. There's a semi-satisfaction in grasping the futility of the vague metaphysical project.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.7k

    No matter how you phrase it, you cannot make prediction into explanation.
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