• Possibility
    1.3k
    This is confused, and unnecessarily so. My typing is an event, an occurrence. That's what's happened and/or is happening. The report thereof is what was/is true. Of that much I can be absolutely certain, and very well ought be.

    Personally I reject the objective/subjective dichotomy, but for far different reasons than are being discussed here.

    We can be absolutely certain about what sorts of things can be true and what makes them so. That is the basic point of our disagreement.
    creativesoul

    You can be certain of the truth of your report only by excluding the possibility that you may be mistaken; and that yours is not the only valid perspective. There’s nothing wrong with that - it enables you to act and communicate with confidence - it’s just not an objective sense of truth.

    I don’t see objective/subjective as a dichotomy. I think that’s a limited understanding of a dynamic that extends across multiple levels of awareness.

    We can construct a value system - individually or collectively - about what sorts of things can be true and what makes them so, within a limited perspective. Our certainty with regard to that relational structure and that truth depends on excluding the possibility or validity of alternative perspectives.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    You can be certain of the truth of your report only by excluding the possibility that you may be mistaken; and that yours is not the only valid perspectivePossibility

    One can be certain that there is a cup in the cupboard without any further consideration whatsoever regarding the possibility of being mistaken or another's perspective(belief). One can be certain that that was true when spoken/considered by looking.

    You and I have very different ideas regarding truth and certainty.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    ...the truth of your report...Possibility

    What is that, exactly?

    :brow:

    I'm curious since you invoked those terms in that order.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    I don’t see objective/subjective as a dichotomy...Possibility

    I suggest getting your vision checked.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    One can be certain that there is a cup in the cupboard without any further consideration whatsoever regarding the possibility of being mistaken or another's perspective(belief). One can be certain that that was true when spoken/considered by looking.creativesoul

    Right - “without any further consideration whatsoever regarding the possibility” - that is, excluding the possibility. I could say ignorant, but most people don’t respond well to that word.
  • Congau
    169

    It is unfortunate that the words “viewpoint”, “standpoint”, “outlook” and “perspective” are more or less synonymous with “opinion” and “belief”. The former group draws the attention to the position of the believers and thereby makes their subjective opinion seem quite inevitable, excusable and the theoretical possibility of an objective truth more remote. After all, everyone of us possess a physical perspective that is unique in a rather trivial way. We were all born somewhere, grew up somewhere and have had concrete experiences that belong only to us. Even two twins are different simply because they occupy different chunks of space, and since no one can be on the same spot at the same time objectivity is thought to be impossible or even non-existent. But this kind of subjectivity is trivial since all it would take would be for someone to be in another person’s position and he would judge the world in the same way, and that clearly is not the case.

    This is not your mistake since you believe in objective truth, but your notion of truth is somehow multiple, depending on the infinite number of different angles from which we can be hit by potential information and create our vision of reality. Is it objective just because anyone in the same position would have reached the same conclusion?
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    This is not your mistake since you believe in objective truth, but your notion of truth is somehow multiple, depending on the infinite number of different angles from which we can be hit by potential information and create our vision of reality. Is it objective just because anyone in the same position would have reached the same conclusion?Congau

    In a way, yes. But I’m not just talking about the same physical position, but to have occupied the same position over the entire course of their life: if they had experienced the same birth, childhood and sum total of intimate interactions or concrete experiences, then yes, they would judge the world in the same way. It does make the theoretical possibility of an objective truth much more remote than most are willing to admit, but nevertheless possible.

    I think I can follow how, from your perspective, my notion of truth does seem to be multiple. There is a sense that truth or reality is the world in which we act and speak, but not the world in which we think and imagine. In that sense, truth is only what everyone can share, and is therefore limited to the proposition, duration or proven actuality of that relation: ie. an observable/measurable connection or interaction. So to posit an ‘objective’ truth as inclusive of what everyone thinks or imagines is to suggest a multi-faceted notion of such truth that doesn’t correspond to what we understand to be an ‘interaction’ as such - even though it is a relation, nonetheless.

    Think of it as relating to something from the inside, as if you were trying to ascertain the three-dimensional structure of a building only by photos of its interior. It isn’t easy, but it’s still possible if you have enough different photos and enough points of reference that overlap - ideally you can then turn that construct inside out by recognising how the way you see the interior information presented in 2D corresponds to an overall 3D shape. It’s a process of trial and error, because it can be difficult to recognise when you have enough different perspectives to faithfully render the entire structure. But if your own perspective was limited to one room, then surely all those photos would together constitute a more objective view of the building?

    I’ve deliberately removed the notion of uncertainty, here. So is objectivity, in this analogy, only the interior doors, passageways and shared walls that connect these photos to your own perspective, or is it a 3D rendering of all the other information in the photos with regard to the rest of the building? I agree that the former is necessary to begin the process, but the latter is required if you hope to complete it, no matter how remote that possibility.
  • Congau
    169

    Our conception of objects are based on two elements: perception and judgment. The judgment we both call subjective, but you want to call individual perception objective since other individuals would have perceived exactly the same if they had had the exact same background experience. My only candidate for objectivity, on the other hand, is what might be called the thing in itself - independent of an observer, but that leaves it open what to do with perception as opposed to judgment. Well, the two can’t really be separated and even two individuals imagined to have lived the exact same life would judge their experiences differently. You may be imagining an observer stripped of subjective judgments, something like a machine, a camera or a robot, or a human being as a mere thought experiment. The moment a person left out his judgment (if that were possible) he would see the world “objectively” in your sense of the term, even though that vision would still be unique to him and could not be copied by anyone else. Is that so?
    But we are never content with what we see. We automatically try to include perspectives we don’t possess; we assume the object has a backside and even imagine what it looks like; then it is subjective and likely to be objectively wrong.
    If we don’t make a judgment, we don’t really see at all. A dog “sees” the same objects as the human members of the household, but unless it is food or its leash it means nothing to that pet; it’s neither subjective nor objective, it’s nothing.
  • Congau
    169
    For me, I can believe it to be objective truth only if it appears filled with possibility.Possibility
    And again, why is that? Why isn’t any utterly useless information about something existing just as true as something heavily pregnant with significance? There aren’t any degrees of truth; something is either true or not true. Either A or not A.

    I’m not saying that you are not onto something important, though. Of course, you don’t bother to argue for the truth of some ridiculous detail that wouldn’t expand our knowledge of the universe anyway.

    In our discussion I have made sure to call it “objective truth” to avoid any doubt about where I stand on the issue: Truth is always objective. For me, therefore the qualifier “objective” is redundant, but that’s not the case for you, is it? By ”objective” I think you mean something like ‘that which can be included in our common understanding of reality’ or at least ‘that which can be included in my systematic understanding of the relationship between things’. Scattered details, though true, you don’t call objective if they remain isolated. Am I right?

    This definition wouldn’t neatly fit in with the dictionary definition, as we have already suggested. Then why don’t you instead try to find another word for the idea you’re trying to get across to avoid confusion?
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    Our conception of objects are based on two elements: perception and judgment. The judgment we both call subjective, but you want to call individual perception objective since other individuals would have perceived exactly the same if they had had the exact same background experience. My only candidate for objectivity, on the other hand, is what might be called the thing in itself - independent of an observer, but that leaves it open what to do with perception as opposed to judgment. Well, the two can’t really be separated and even two individuals imagined to have lived the exact same life would judge their experiences differently. You may be imagining an observer stripped of subjective judgments, something like a machine, a camera or a robot, or a human being as a mere thought experiment. The moment a person left out his judgment (if that were possible) he would see the world “objectively” in your sense of the term, even though that vision would still be unique to him and could not be copied by anyone else. Is that so?Congau

    Yes. I agree that two individuals imagined to have lived the exact same life would have the capacity to ‘judge’ their experiences differently within the exact same potentiality. To that end, I believe that we express this objectively irreducible potentiality using language, mathematics, logic, morality, etc (even quantum mechanics and art) - as a broad limitation of possibilities.

    Judgement (thank you, by the way, for pointing out the distinction) is inclusive of meaning, though - and it is here that a challenge arises to withhold ‘judgement’ (as the reductive process) for one further stretch of the mind towards objectivity as the possibility of what is real and true in itself, independent of experience. Because the truth of language is not in the instance of the word or the statement, but in its reference to a relation of meaning.

    Meaning (as I see it) is how something matters or informs. Not necessarily how much it matters or why, or even in what way (although that is all part of it, as potentiality). And not necessarily knowing how, or being able to define how, either. Before I reduce all potential information I have to something useful, I recognise that there exists possible information in the objective reality surrounding all experience that matters and informs the world beyond my own perception of it. Even if I cannot perceive how it matters to me or to humanity or to the universe as I understand it, it still matters objectively in some way. From that understanding, the possibility that my perception (as well as yours) is limited in some way in relation to objectivity enables us to discuss truth, reality and meaning as possibilities independent of our own perception and judgement.

    Whether or not it’s possible for a person to ‘leave out’ their judgement, I think we can be aware of it, allow for and even adjust for it in discussions in such a way that we recognise it as a limitation of our existence in relation to objectivity.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    For me, I can believe it to be objective truth only if it appears filled with possibility.
    — Possibility
    And again, why is that? Why isn’t any utterly useless information about something existing just as true as something heavily pregnant with significance? There aren’t any degrees of truth; something is either true or not true. Either A or not A.

    I’m not saying that you are not onto something important, though. Of course, you don’t bother to argue for the truth of some ridiculous detail that wouldn’t expand our knowledge of the universe anyway.
    Congau

    This statement of mine was describing the limitation of my perception, as I see it. But possibility is not necessarily significance - there is no ‘utterly useless information’, objectively speaking. Information is, by nature of the term, that which informs. Nevertheless, there is plenty of information out there which would be considered useless to humans, as far as its capacity to inform is currently beyond our capacity (or willingness) to be informed by its existence.

    In our discussion I have made sure to call it “objective truth” to avoid any doubt about where I stand on the issue: Truth is always objective. For me, therefore the qualifier “objective” is redundant, but that’s not the case for you, is it? By ”objective” I think you mean something like ‘that which can be included in our common understanding of reality’ or at least ‘that which can be included in my systematic understanding of the relationship between things’. Scattered details, though true, you don’t call objective if they remain isolated. Am I right?Congau

    I do understand that the qualifier ‘objective’ is redundant in relation to truth. But I also recognise that when people make a claim to truth, the ‘truth’ they’re claiming is not objective, but a limited perspective of what is true. What we might consider to be ‘utterly useless information’ is still true - we’re just uncertain of how to relate to this truth.

    I do consider ‘scattered’ details to contribute to objectivity, but so long as how they contribute is uncertain, this is possible information. Consider the infernal ‘buzzing’ noise that led scientists to discover CMB radiation as remnant of the Big Bang in the 1960s. Interestingly, such ‘white noise’ is now automatically corrected for in digital signals, excluded as ‘useless’ information.

    This definition wouldn’t neatly fit in with the dictionary definition, as we have already suggested. Then why don’t you instead try to find another word for the idea you’re trying to get across to avoid confusion?Congau

    Because I still consider ‘objective’ to be that which is “not dependent on the mind for existence” - I just think that ‘actual’ is a limited understanding of what this can be.
  • Congau
    169

    I’m afraid I’m still struggling to grasp the meaning of your basic terms. Would the following have any relevance?:
    I have a plastic bottle on my desk. I think that is objectively true since I believe most people would identify it as such. The fact that it is made of plastic or some plastic-like material is the most basic (actual?) information. Even a dog would recognize the characteristic of this material, perhaps without putting much meaning into it beyond that. For the dog it is what it is, so to speak, a lump of plastic. For us it is also a bottle, that is a cultural artifice, but there is nothing about the object itself that makes it such a thing. An alien wouldn’t see a bottle, but maybe it would remind him of some object known in his world. Would this “bottle” then have the potential of being something else, of having another meaning?

    when people make a claim to truth, the ‘truth’ they’re claiming is not objective, but a limited perspective of what is true.Possibility
    It may be that they are confused about the meaning of objectivity being misled by the modern emphasis on individual sovereignty and the so-called right to decide what is right for oneself? They think that if taste is subjective any other impression is also subjective, but when they actually make a claim, they are implicitly stating their opinion about an objective truth.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    I have a plastic bottle on my desk. I think that is objectively true since I believe most people would identify it as such. The fact that it is made of plastic or some plastic-like material is the most basic (actual?) information. Even a dog would recognize the characteristic of this material, perhaps without putting much meaning into it beyond that. For the dog it is what it is, so to speak, a lump of plastic. For us it is also a bottle, that is a cultural artifice, but there is nothing about the object itself that makes it such a thing. An alien wouldn’t see a bottle, but maybe it would remind him of some object known in his world. Would this “bottle” then have the potential of being something else, of having another meaning?Congau

    What is not dependent on the mind for existence? I understand why you’re saying that the most basic information is the plastic-like substance, its actuality. That seems to be the truth of the object that exists regardless of what you or I think about it. Even if the dog was able (or cared enough) to argue with you, he couldn’t deny that it’s made of plastic. I’m not saying that this isn’t objectively true - I’m arguing that this is not the sum of objective truth.

    A dog doesn’t know (or care) what the bottle is made of. From the dog’s perspective, the truth of the object is what it might hold for him (water) or the potential it has to inform him in terms of his relationship to you (relative to other information, it could mean that you’re about to go to work or take him for a walk, or that you’ll be spending more/less time at this desk). All of this is potentially related to objective truth. Other than that, it’s likely the bottle is just noise, or useless information.

    So while you can confidently say it is objectively true that you have a plastic bottle on your desk, very little of that information means anything to your dog. Which is fine, as long as you don’t care how your dog relates to the world. And the fact that he doesn’t care about particular information renders him ignorant from your perspective - even though the potential truth he gets from perceiving the bottle on your desk may be more than you realise, and even more than you may get from the same experience.

    The objective truth is that something exists. That is what I see as the most basic information. The next most basic information is what matters, objectively speaking. From there, the truth is that we each perceive the potential information of any experience differently, and therefore make different predictions about reality, according to the unique actuality of our own existence.

    The reason I prefer to conceptualise from the top (possibility) rather than the bottom (actuality), is because I’m less likely to miss potential information this way that may enable me to interact with the world more objectively. I realise that we can confidently build a concept of truth from our reduction of information to a common actuality (in a classical sense). The thing is that we don’t interact with or determine our actions (and words) based on the actuality of the world, but ALWAYS on our concept of its future potential. Conceptualising truth as actuality renders us ignorant of the wealth of potential information that contributes to our predictions, whether or not we’re consciously aware of it doing so. It is only when other perspectives conflict directly with our concept of truth, threatening prediction error (suffering), that we may recognise that one of us is inaccurately perceiving and predicting the truth.

    If we argue that our perception - and therefore our actions and words - are based purely on actual information as ‘objective truth’, then we’re being dishonest (or at least ignorant). Because the truth of our experience, objectively speaking, is that we always act on uncertain future predictions of what is true. So we cannot even be certain that the ‘logical’, ‘emotional’ or ‘moral’ reasoning we give for our actions or statements is the truth independent of our limited conscious experience of it.

    But the more aware we are of all this potential information - its unavoidable uncertainty, the many ways we can structure it and how that changes our interactions - the more we can improve the accuracy of our predictions, reducing prediction error and thereby increasing our capacity to interact with the world with minimal actual suffering. And if we’re also aware that there is information of which we cannot even perceive its potential to inform, then we are open to at least relating to the notion of objective truth, no matter how remote the possibility.
  • Congau
    169
    What is not dependent on the mind for existence? I understand why you’re saying that the most basic information is the plastic-like substance, its actuality. That seems to be the truth of the object that exists regardless of what you or I think about it. Even if the dog was able (or cared enough) to argue with you, he couldn’t deny that it’s made of plastic. I’m not saying that this isn’t objectively true - I’m arguing that this is not the sum of objective truth.Possibility
    Plastic exists independently whereas a bottle is dependent on the human mind to exist, but not on any specific mind. Anyone I asked above the age of three would probably identify this thing as a bottle, so that is also an objective truth. I thought this distinction might be relevant to your scheme, but maybe it isn’t.

    So while you can confidently say it is objectively true that you have a plastic bottle on your desk, very little of that information means anything to your dog. Which is fine, as long as you don’t care how your dog relates to the world. And the fact that he doesn’t care about particular information renders him ignorant from your perspective - even though the potential truth he gets from perceiving the bottle on your desk may be more than you realise, and even more than you may get from the same experience.Possibility
    Even though I see what you mean when you say that the dog may use the bottle as a piece of information indicating it will soon be taken for a walk, and you call this information potential truth, I don’t think it’s necessary (or even right) to separate potentiality from actuality in a question of truth. Potentiality exists as actuality. In a seed, the plant it might become, the potential of becoming a nasturtium, is now actually present in that seed. The information is actual, and a biologist could ascertain that under a microscope. The bottle on my desk is actually there, and that is the actual truth that the dog uses to make its inference. Your “potential truth” may or may not become an actual truth, so it is not the truth now, which means that it’s not the truth at all. On the other hand, potentiality existing as actuality, is now the truth, that is truth proper. Potentiality is certainly important, and we are always on the lookout for potentiality in things in order to predict the future, but the truth that we see is in what is actual.
  • Congau
    169
    If we argue that our perception - and therefore our actions and words - are based purely on actual information as ‘objective truth’, then we’re being dishonest (or at least ignorant). Because the truth of our experience, objectively speaking, is that we always act on uncertain future predictions of what is true. So we cannot even be certain that the ‘logical’, ‘emotional’ or ‘moral’ reasoning we give for our actions or statements is the truth independent of our limited conscious experience of it.Possibility
    Our perception is based purely on actual information, what is there at the moment of perception. I see a rock and think it is an elephant, but still my visual perception is based on information that is actually there, that greyish thing.

    Our action and words are a different matter. They are in addition based on our judgment and implications of our judgment of what we perceive. We start putting meaning into the object of perception the moment we have perceived it. (It may happen at the same time, but conceptually it’s a sequence). You see someone catching a ball, conclude that your team has won the game and then rejoice realizing what is in it for you (potential). Sure, all of that is included in what you take away from that simple event that would be a simple ball catching for another person, but even for you, what you have actually perceived is just the catching.

    Everything we do is directed at the future, (if only the next moment in time) and everything we say is anticipating a response, but everything we have ever perceived belongs to the past.

    A potential x is something that may become an x in the future but is not an x now. Potential information is something that may become information in the future but is not information now.
    Whatever is, is actual. Information about a potential, is actual.
  • neonspectraltoast
    195
    How can you be objective about anything if you don't know what anything is? And we lack the perspective to know what anything truly is. We know there is something, but we can't ascertain the quality of its essential nature.

    Is the simple naming of things the same as being completely objective about reality? I don't think so.

    Just because we agree to acknowledge something as real doesn't mean we're objective about it.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    Plastic exists independently whereas a bottle is dependent on the human mind to exist, but not on any specific mind. Anyone I asked above the age of three would probably identify this thing as a bottle, so that is also an objective truth. I thought this distinction might be relevant to your scheme, but maybe it isn’t.Congau

    ‘Bottle’ and ‘plastic’ exist as conceptual structures in the human mind. Objective truth is not the concepts, but the reality these conceptual structures refer to, including the relation between a particular instance of the concept and all past instances in your experience and in mine, as well as the relation between your experience and mine. What exists independent of the mind would exist independent of language, which makes it difficult to clarify what I mean here. Our reliance on language to construct truth, and the reification of conceptual structures this leads to, limits our capacity to grasp elements of the truth that transcend language in experience.

    Even though I see what you mean when you say that the dog may use the bottle as a piece of information indicating it will soon be taken for a walk, and you call this information potential truth, I don’t think it’s necessary (or even right) to separate potentiality from actuality in a question of truth. Potentiality exists as actuality. In a seed, the plant it might become, the potential of becoming a nasturtium, is now actually present in that seed. The information is actual, and a biologist could ascertain that under a microscope. The bottle on my desk is actually there, and that is the actual truth that the dog uses to make its inference. Your “potential truth” may or may not become an actual truth, so it is not the truth now, which means that it’s not the truth at all. On the other hand, potentiality existing as actuality, is now the truth, that is truth proper. Potentiality is certainly important, and we are always on the lookout for potentiality in things in order to predict the future, but the truth that we see is in what is actual.Congau

    This is another example of reifying concepts. If we can conceptualise it, then it’s real, but does that make it actual to anyone but us? Language doesn’t help us here, because the meaning of ‘actual’ crosses key dimensional divides between what is temporally located (3D), what has temporal duration (4D) and what exists only in its relation to time (5D). I’ve been using the term to refer to what at least has temporal duration, in that it has the capacity to act independent of awareness. But you use the term to refer to what exists for us to act on, which is inclusive of atemporal concepts such as plastic, bottle or the plant that a seed might become.

    Potentiality exists in relation to actuality, and as such appears as actual by those who perceive it. A biologist observing a seed under a microscope is not looking at potential information existing in the seed as actuality, but conceptualising potential information in relation to predicting a future actuality, based on the relation between this particular instance of seed, and all past instances of seed in her experience. She can use language to transfer that potential information as a conceptual structure to another mind, and she can integrate the potential information in determining her own actions in a way that contributes to its actualisation.

    Potential information is not inherent in the actual seed, then, but in the relation between the seed’s actuality and the capacity of the observer to perceive the potential for meaning in it. Otherwise it’s just noise. The truth that we see is what is actual - what we can act on - but objective truth is what is possible - what could be acted on, objectively speaking - even if it seems meaningless to us.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    Our perception is based purely on actual information, what is there at the moment of perception. I see a rock and think it is an elephant, but still my visual perception is based on information that is actually there, that greyish thing.Congau

    No, our perception is a process based on only a small amount of potential (incomplete) sensory information from the past - the rest of it is your mind predicting what is there by piecing it together with potential information already integrated into your conceptual system. What your body senses in the next moment then verifies or adjusts this visual perception after your brain’s prediction produces the initial thought. So, in fact, you perceived it was an elephant, then think it is an elephant as you perceived it was a rock, and then you see a rock.

    Our action and words are a different matter. They are in addition based on our judgment and implications of our judgment of what we perceive. We start putting meaning into the object of perception the moment we have perceived it. (It may happen at the same time, but conceptually it’s a sequence). You see someone catching a ball, conclude that your team has won the game and then rejoice realizing what is in it for you (potential). Sure, all of that is included in what you take away from that simple event that would be a simple ball catching for another person, but even for you, what you have actually perceived is just the catching.Congau

    But thoughts are also temporal events, so they work the same way as some actions and words. The difference is that some of our actions and words are based on conscious judgement driven by thought, while others are more like thoughts in that the ‘judgement’ is made in the affective prediction that then produces both thought and action/expression. In many cases, your brain predicts that the ball will be caught, meaning that your team wins the game and so your body is already poised to rejoice, having perceived the ball being caught, before the moment that the ball is actually caught. This is why, when that ball is dropped in the last second, you see team members awkwardly having to conceal a premature celebratory action already halfway through...

    Everything we do is directed at the future, (if only the next moment in time) and everything we say is anticipating a response, but everything we have ever perceived belongs to the past.Congau

    Everything the body senses belongs to the past, but perception is a process whereby the brain relates that past potentiality to an atemporal conceptual structure, creating an ongoing ‘present’ experience of consciousness or affect: a prediction of effort and attention requirements for the organism going forward.

    A potential x is something that may become an x in the future but is not an x now. Potential information is something that may become information in the future but is not information now.
    Whatever is, is actual. Information about a potential, is actual.
    Congau

    Not quite. A potential x is not temporally located - this x exists not necessarily in the future but possibly in the past or the present, or all three. Its relational structure is uncertain. Information about a potential also points to the uncertainty or incompleteness of the relational structure - its lack of observable actuality or spatio-temporal location. Information about the seed’s actuality (it is a particular size and has a round shape) relates to information about the seed’s potential (the plant will become a nasturtium), but they are not the same information. “This is a nasturtium seed” seems like a statement of actuality, but the use of ‘nasturtium’ to describe the seed refers to its potentiality.
  • Congau
    169

    This seed is a potential nasturtium. It refers to something that exists inside the object now and is not really a prediction about the future. I am about to destroy this seed, so I know for sure that it will never become a nasturtium, but still, it is a potential nasturtium.

    By “perception” I meant simple sense-perception or “what the body senses”. (I should have said that instead.) Our bodily senses inform us about the past only and provided we can trust our them, they give us the truth. We are still likely to be mistaken, though, since we make faulty judgments, drawing conclusions from a combination of sensual inputs.

    In theory we can have knowledge about what actually exists. If our bodily senses don’t deceive us and we follow a valid deductive procedure we will grasp the truth (without really knowing that we know, of course). But about the future it is not even possible to have knowledge even in theory because our bodily senses can never register all signals that might be relevant. What we can not have knowledge about even theoretically, can not be the truth. It may be true that this is a seed, true that it is a nasturtium seed, true that it is a potential nasturtium, but neither true nor false that it will become a nasturtium.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    This seed is a potential nasturtium. It refers to something that exists inside the object now and is not really a prediction about the future. I am about to destroy this seed, so I know for sure that it will never become a nasturtium, but still, it is a potential nasturtium.Congau

    What actuality of the seed is its potential? A biologist can look at its shape and size, but that tells you nothing unless you already know the relation of shape and size, etc to a seed’s possible future. She can even look at the DNA, but again this tells you nothing without a conceptual relation to genetics. There is nothing existing materially inside the object now whereby anyone simply observing it (without knowledge) would see the nasturtium it can become. It is the potential information we have as observers that renders the seed’s potential perceivable and meaningful as information. Objectively speaking, it’s all noise, but that noise is the reality from which we construct our perception of truth.

    By “perception” I meant simple sense-perception or “what the body senses”. (I should have said that instead.) Our bodily senses inform us about the past only and provided we can trust our them, they give us the truth. We are still likely to be mistaken, though, since we make faulty judgments, drawing conclusions from a combination of sensual inputs.Congau

    Fair enough. But the errors we make in judgement come from the fact that our body’s externally informed senses are limited by energy, attention and time constraints, so they contribute only a very small proportion of the information we are using at any one time in our perception of the world (and by ‘perception’ here I mean what the mind ‘sees’). If we consider only this external sensory information to be the truth, then we would be in a state that Feldman Barrett refers to as ‘experiential blindness’, with the brain struggling to make sense of the noise. It is our conceptual (predictive) systems that enable the brain to construct a perception of truth from the fuzzy and incomplete potential information gained from the senses in relation to ALL our experiences so far.

    In theory we can have knowledge about what actually exists. If our bodily senses don’t deceive us and we follow a valid deductive procedure we will grasp the truth (without really knowing that we know, of course). But about the future it is not even possible to have knowledge even in theory because our bodily senses can never register all signals that might be relevant./quote]

    What exists materially is in a constant temporal flux, and it isn’t possible to register all relevant information at any one time in order to even theoretically grasp the truth of the moment before it changes again. What we colloquially refer to as ‘actually’ existing is inclusive of potential information relevant to predicting the truth of the moment in which we would act. In other words, it’s subjective, which might be fine in other discussions, but we have deliberately put aside certainty here in order to discuss objective truth, and so, for consistency of language and to avoid confusion, we should also attempt to frame an understanding of actuality in this objective context, independent of our limited capacity.
    Congau
    What we can not have knowledge about even theoretically, can not be the truth. It may be true that this is a seed, true that it is a nasturtium seed, true that it is a potential nasturtium, but neither true nor false that it will become a nasturtium.Congau

    Do you recognise the subjective expression of these statements? You are limiting truth to what we can theoretically have knowledge of as human beings, rather than what exists objectively, independent of the mind.
  • Congau
    169
    What we can not have knowledge about even theoretically, can not be the truth. It may be true that this is a seed, true that it is a nasturtium seed, true that it is a potential nasturtium, but neither true nor false that it will become a nasturtium.
    — Congau

    Do you recognise the subjective expression of these statements? You are limiting truth to what we can theoretically have knowledge of as human beings, rather than what exists objectively, independent of the mind.
    Possibility
    No, I’m not talking about what is just not practically possible to know about because of our human limitations. A superman or an extremely powerful computer couldn’t know it either. It’s not practically possible to know everything within an enormous pool of facts, but as long as the pool is finite, it’s theoretically possible. It’s not theoretically possible to know the future because the possible combinations of interacting facts are literally infinite. (Because they are infinite they are not objectively existent.)

    A potential that exists inside a thing is objective and knowable, but for that potential to develop into a future existence, combinations of factors must be realized, and those possible combinations are not present anywhere now. A can connect to B, but it can also connect to C. The seed (A) can connect to optimal conditions (B) or to my destroying it (C). B or C are not present in the seed, or anywhere in the world for that matter.

    There is nothing existing materially inside the object now whereby anyone simply observing it (without knowledge) would see the nasturtium it can become.Possibility
    Who says anyone needs to observe it? The potential is inside the seed whether a scientist studies it or not, just like the unobserved falling tree makes a noise.

    It is our conceptual (predictive) systems that enable the brain to construct a perception of truth from the fuzzy and incomplete potential information gained from the senses in relation to ALL our experiences so far.Possibility
    Yes, in other words we only we only register a tiny fraction of the potential information we casually encounter. We see it, but we don’t notice it or don’t make sense of it. We see the seed, but not all the data it could convey.
  • Congau
    169

    I admit that there is another sense in which everything is predetermined and thereby theoretically predictable. If everything is reduced to quantum mechanics, the quantity of moving molecules is finite and constitutes an extremely complicated version of rolling billiard balls. In that case, there would be no difference between what is potential and what will be actual; there would be no potentiality that wouldn’t eventually turn into actuality. The nasturtium seed wouldn’t have the potential of becoming a nasturtium if it was destined to be destroyed before it reached that stage. That would eliminate the distinction between actual and potential, and between past and future in a truth condition.
    (If we assumed some sort of religious determinism, that would also do the same trick.)

    However, within our physical world of objects with shape and form and a diversity of kinds of events all truths can be theoretically known (although in practice we can’t know anything). If it’s possible to know that I’m now typing (which it isn’t) it is also possible to know the content of any hidden seed. If it exists as a category of our perception (in our physical world), it exists independently of the mind but can theoretically be brought into the mind.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    No, I’m not talking about what is just not practically possible to know about because of our human limitations. A superman or an extremely powerful computer couldn’t know it either. It’s not practically possible to know everything within an enormous pool of facts, but as long as the pool is finite, it’s theoretically possible. It’s not theoretically possible to know the future because the possible combinations of interacting facts are literally infinite. (Because they are infinite they are not objectively existent.)Congau

    A superman or extremely powerful computer still have human limitations, just not as many. Possible combinations of interacting facts are potentially uncountable, but that doesn’t make them literally infinite. They’re also potentially unknowable, but neither does this render them non-existent as objective possibilities. Objective truth has nothing to do with knowing the future. That future possibilities exist in an objective sense is not dependent on a perceived or even an imagined capacity to know them. The moment we imagine a possibility - even as we then dismiss it as ‘not theoretically possible to know’ - its existence has possible meaning beyond the existence (and current limited capacity) of the human mind. I recognise this seems pedantic, but it is this kind of impossible speculation that enables us to have conversations like these. It is the use of imaginary numbers, for instance, that enable mathematicians to carry out seemingly impossible calculations, and determine the probability of what was once deemed ‘not theoretically possible to know’.

    A potential that exists inside a thing is objective and knowable, but for that potential to develop into a future existence, combinations of factors must be realized, and those possible combinations are not present anywhere now. A can connect to B, but it can also connect to C. The seed (A) can connect to optimal conditions (B) or to my destroying it (C). B or C are not present in the seed, or anywhere in the world for that matter.Congau

    These combinations of factors that must be realised in order to develop a potential don’t need to be present now - they, too, can be perceived as potential to develop into a future existence. I can be aware of, connect and collaborate with this potential to develop the optimal conditions required for developing the potential perceived in relation to the seed, and I can simultaneously perceive my potential to destroy the seed. These optimal conditions are perceived as potential information in everything around us: available space in the garden, suitable soil, access to water and nutrients, the time of year, etc. I need not be a passive observer - I can perceive my own potential in relation to the potential of these conditions, and increase the probability of the seed developing into a future existence by determining actions to initiate both now and well in the future. This relation of potentiality is an existing truth - whether or not it changes in the future, and whether or not anyone else knows, it exists now, within me, as ‘objective and [theoretically] knowable’ as the potential inside the seed. The fact that understanding the complexity of the human brain and mind in the same way that a scientist understands the inner complexity of the seed is beyond our current capacity, doesn’t change this.

    Who says anyone needs to observe it? The potential is inside the seed whether a scientist studies it or not, just like the unobserved falling tree makes a noise.Congau

    How do you think we come to that understanding? From previous observations and experiences in relation to a potential observation of a fallen tree. We’re not talking about an actual, unobserved falling tree, but a potential one: the potential falling tree has the potential to make a potential noise. And if we come across an actual fallen tree, we relate this sensory information to the potential information we have and conclude in our minds that in some past instance of this tree falling, it made a noise. And we present that information in our words. But the potential for noise is not entirely present in the tree alone, but in the structure of potential information in our mind in relation to our interaction with the tree (ie. our observation).

    Yes, in other words we only we only register a tiny fraction of the potential information we casually encounter. We see it, but we don’t notice it or don’t make sense of it. We see the seed, but not all the data it could conveyCongau

    The possible information that seed could convey is always limited by the potential of the interaction, and is always much more than anyone can perceive.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    I admit that there is another sense in which everything is predetermined and thereby theoretically predictable. If everything is reduced to quantum mechanics, the quantity of moving molecules is finite and constitutes an extremely complicated version of rolling billiard balls. In that case, there would be no difference between what is potential and what will be actual; there would be no potentiality that wouldn’t eventually turn into actuality. The nasturtium seed wouldn’t have the potential of becoming a nasturtium if it was destined to be destroyed before it reached that stage. That would eliminate the distinction between actual and potential, and between past and future in a truth condition.
    (If we assumed some sort of religious determinism, that would also do the same trick.)

    However, within our physical world of objects with shape and form and a diversity of kinds of events all truths can be theoretically known (although in practice we can’t know anything). If it’s possible to know that I’m now typing (which it isn’t) it is also possible to know the content of any hidden seed. If it exists as a category of our perception (in our physical world), it exists independently of the mind but can theoretically be brought into the mind.
    Congau

    I think you misunderstand the nature of quantum mechanics here (or perhaps this refers to an interpretation that I’m not familiar with). As far as I can see, there are no ‘rolling billiard balls’ in quantum mechanics. It isn’t an alternate world that doesn’t correspond to our physical world of objects, but is in fact the foundation of the physical world itself. You’ve lost me here, sorry.
  • Congau
    169
    Possible combinations of interacting facts are potentially uncountable, but that doesn’t make them literally infinite. They’re also potentially unknowable, but neither does this render them non-existent as objective possibilities.Possibility
    If you don’t limit the idea of potentiality to what is actually present inside an object (like the grown plant is present inside the seed) anything has the potential for anything and it makes no sense to talk about an objective potential truth. You may one day become the king of France, there is objectively speaking nothing that excludes that possibility. It’s not very likely since France doesn’t have a king now and you don’t have royal blood, but strange things have happened before in history.

    Potentiality as sheer possibility is literally infinite. There are an infinite number of facts and they can be combined in an infinite number of ways. I have an infinite number of possibilities for what I can do the next hour or even the next minute. The number of possible sentences is infinite, and I could potentially write anything in my next sentence.

    Where is the objective truth in this? “Potential truth” is infinite and what is infinite cannot be existent as a fact of the world. Your truth slips away into nothing.

    Determinism could save the argument claiming that all potential is limited and present as an actual truth, but an infinite potential is meaningless.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    I agree that an infinite potential as sheer possibility is meaningless, OR infinitely meaningful, which is the same thing, really.

    I have not suggested here that we have the capacity to know ‘objective truth’, that it exists as a ‘fact’ of the world, nor that it should make sense to talk about objective truth as if it were something actual. I consider the notion of objective truth to be this sheer possibility, meaningless in itself and yet filled with infinite potentiality, from which we then distinguish all possibility of meaning - limited by a perspective of what could matter in our relation to the world.

    It is possible that you could write anything in your next sentence, but your potential to write anything is limited by your perception of what could possibly matter, what you understand and value (in terms of language, knowledge, beliefs, etc), and by what you feel is worth your effort and attention to write in this moment, whether or not you are conscious of that affect. This, I consider to be objectively true, even as I recognise that my expression of this truth is limited by my own perspective of what could possibly be true, what I understand and value, etc.
  • Congau
    169

    When the potential is infinite, our investigation is not aimed at objective truth, which is absolute, but probability. You have the potential to become the king of France, but it’s extremely improbable; a chance of one in a trillion or whatever. A measure of probability is the only scientific goal when attempting to predict the future or looking to understand the meaning of the potentials we observe. When rolling a die there’s a sixth of a chance to get a six, but what does that mean in terms of truth? It means that the die is cubed, and one side has six dots. Since it’s completely symmetrical, none of the sides is physically favored. That’s the whole truth.
    The oil prices have been low this year. That fact in isolation favors low prices next year. That’s the actuality that has a truth value.

    It is possible that you could write anything in your next sentence, but your potential to write anything is limited by...Possibility
    When we say that a potential is limited, we mean that something has inside itself the possibility to reach this far but not farther.
    “His potential as a footballer is limited.” He may get to play for a decent team, but he’ll never play in the premier league; the probability for that to happen is considered to be zero.
    The potential for what I can write in the next sentence is unlimited, although a certain content is definitely favored.
    Potentiality is only relevant to truth when referring to actuality.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    When the potential is infinite, our investigation is not aimed at objective truth, which is absolute, but probability. You have the potential to become the king of France, but it’s extremely improbable; a chance of one in a trillion or whatever. A measure of probability is the only scientific goal when attempting to predict the future or looking to understand the meaning of the potentials we observe. When rolling a die there’s a sixth of a chance to get a six, but what does that mean in terms of truth? It means that the die is cubed, and one side has six dots. Since it’s completely symmetrical, none of the sides is physically favored. That’s the whole truth.
    The oil prices have been low this year. That fact in isolation favors low prices next year. That’s the actuality that has a truth value.
    Congau

    A quantitative measure of probability in relation to an isolated future event is all a physicist can hope to achieve with any degree of certainty, while continuing to claim objectivity. But this is a narrow perspective of potential in relation to objective truth.

    “When rolling a die” assumes the existence (and uniformity) of a die to be rolled, a means of rolling it and a surface to roll on, even the value or significance of rolling a six, but all of this is potential information. The die is not currently rolling - we are describing a potential event. Because of this, we can isolate a measure of probability, or even a description of the die, as if it constituted the ‘whole truth’. But in relation to objective truth, there is more potential information we have excluded here, or assumed to be uniform. Granted, very little of it may change the probability of rolling a six (unless the die is weighted), but it can change the potential of what this roll of the die means in terms of truth.

    Let’s try a different example. Some hydrangeas have pink flowers, and some have blue. Given this information, the probability of an isolated event of a hydrangea seed developing blue flowers could be roughly 0.5. But I can test the pH level of soil in order to predict the colour of hydrangea flowers from a seed planted in that location. And I can then add lime to that soil in order to increase the potential of those future flowers being blue. So is the potential for blue flowers actually present in the hydrangea seed, in the soil’s pH or in the lime? Or is it in my mind as a relational structure of potential information? The truth regarding the potential blueness of future hydrangea flowers is theoretically ‘actual’ - ie. I can act on the information - even when the probability of a plant growing and flowering remains uncertain (as I have yet to decide whether to plant the seed or destroy it, let alone whether I want blue flowers or pink). But all that potential information as an incomplete relational structure is not present anywhere except in my mind.

    When we say that a potential is limited, we mean that something has inside itself the possibility to reach this far but not farther.
    “His potential as a footballer is limited.” He may get to play for a decent team, but he’ll never play in the premier league; the probability for that to happen is considered to be zero.
    The potential for what I can write in the next sentence is unlimited, although a certain content is definitely favored.
    Potentiality is only relevant to truth when referring to actuality.
    Congau

    You’re not stating a fact, but a perspective. His potential as a footballer, or as anything, is ultimately limited by time, effort and attention, but I don’t believe all this limitation or potentiality is necessarily inside of him, and I don’t believe it is static. So much of our potential comes down to our interaction with others. If it weren’t for someone else believing in my vision, giving me a chance, showing an interest, or sharing their experience, I may never have become the person I am today.

    The possibilities of what to write in the next sentence are unlimited. The potential for what I can write is limited only by time, effort and attention; but the potential of what I can write in the next sentence is limited as much by the words I currently have in my vocabulary as what matters to me. Nevertheless, this potential appears to me unlimited, because I can’t perceive what I can’t perceive.

    Potentiality appears to us only relevant to truth when it refers to the actuality of our perspective. Objectively speaking, however, potentiality and its limitations are always relevant to truth. They’re information about our subjective position in relation to objective truth. I can relate to (ie. imagine) the unlimited possibilities of what to write beyond what I know, and in that relation, catch a glimpse of the current limitations of my own potential as an opportunity to increase awareness, connection and collaboration beyond them. This is a truth we don’t get when referring to actuality, when perceiving our own potential as unlimited: it’s the truth we have yet to understand about the world.
  • Congau
    169
    The possibilities of what to write in the next sentence are unlimited. The potential for what I can write is limited only by time, effort and attention; but the potential of what I can write in the next sentence is limited as much by the words I currently have in my vocabulary as what matters to me. Nevertheless, this potential appears to me unlimited, because I can’t perceive what I can’t perceive.Possibility
    You can bang your keyboard randomly and happen to write a line from an 17th century poem in the Farsi language. It’s highly unlikely, but it’s a possibility.
    Of course, we must take into account everything we deem relevant in the current condition, including the subjective state of our mind, to make an estimate of what is reasonably probable, but all we can achieve is an expression of probability. How does probability relate to truth? There’s a one in six chance of rolling a six. That means, if I role the die six hundred times I may collect a hundred sixes, or maybe 99, or 101. It’s likely to be around 100 but the result may be anywhere from 0 to 600. There is no truth to be found when estimating what might happen, but the expression of probability (1/6) is a truth since it’s an expression of the shape of the die as it exists right now.

    Likewise, the much more complicated probability concerning your next sentence, if it is to be objectively true, it must reflect all present relevant elements. (The ones you mentioned seem relevant and yes, you must also understand how they are connected to a likely outcome.) An estimate of the probability of a future event, as far as it is objectively true, is a correct assessment of the current state of affairs.
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