• Banno
    7.9k
    So, in the end, we agree?

    I'm rather fond of "the view from anywhere". It's the change from "I like vanilla" to "Banno likes vanilla". The overall point, of course, is contrary to those who would posit that truth is subjective and hence the banal relativism of
    Given that we can never be absolutely certain of what is true...Possibility
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    If this is the way that you want to put it, then there are more or less accurate maps of the territory. If your map contradicts mine, then what do we do? Who has an actual map of the territory? If neither of us do, then we don't really have maps then do we?Harry Hindu

    Then we explore in what specific ways they contradict. Your view is not in polar opposition to mine, because there are elements that we agree on. It is those things that help to orient our respective positions in a more objective ‘space’. It’s similar to how a computer combines 2D images of an object to construct a 3D view (only there are more aspects to consider).

    An actual map of the territory is not what we’re after initially, although it may be our ultimate goal. This is part of what I’m trying to get across (and I’ve carelessly used a spatial example here, which I’m convinced is going to come back and bite me). When we have two maps that contradict, it’s pointless to argue over the maps themselves, because they may both be inaccurate in some way. The best way to solve the contradiction is to orient both maps together in the more objective 3D space (eg. travelling over the terrain), so that errors of perspective can be recognised and corrected. We’ll both still end up with 2D maps, but they’re both now more accurate than either of the two original maps.

    So in order to ensure the most accurate 2D map of a 3D space, we need be orienting different 2D perspectives in 3D, and correcting for distortion, before reducing the resulting information back down to a more accurate 2D rendering of the territory. But if one of the cartographers refuses to consider the 3D space as ‘more objective’, then they won’t even attempt to orient both maps in 3D, and will fail to see where the distortions are in their own map in relation to the 3D space. They will insist that one map is true and the other false.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    I'm rather fond of "the view from anywhere". It's the change from "I like vanilla" to "Banno likes vanilla". The overall point, of course, is contrary to those who would posit that truth is subjective and hence the banal relativism of
    Given that we can never be absolutely certain of what is true...
    — Possibility
    Banno

    The ‘view from anywhere’ is a claim to the most objective position, often in blatant ignorance of the possibility that one may be missing information. It’s a favourite technique of those who prefer to maintain an over-inflated sense of their own importance, often against all evidence to the contrary: like religious doctrine, scientific writers, journalists ...and Trump.

    I’m not having a personal dig at you, Banno. I realise you’ve explained here that when we’re proven wrong, those statements are false, and we adjust our knowledge. But my argument is that logic is not the ‘objective’ position it claims to be. Relating to the logical position enables us to adjust our own position for distortions of affect, so I agree that it’s more objective than anyone’s personal perspective alone. But logic excludes certain ‘illogical’ possibilities that are important considerations when we’re trying to develop an accurate understanding of concepts such as ‘truth’, ‘existence’, ‘meaning’, ‘information’ and ‘reality’ - concepts that have an ‘objective’ aspect to them beyond the constraints of language, knowledge, morality, etc.

    One of the main parameters of logic is the law of excluded middle. If we have different perspectives, logic tells us that one must be true and the other necessarily false. But if we cannot find a way to hold both perspectives in our mind as valid, then we’re unable to adjust for distortions of perspective that could improve the accuracy of both positions in relation to truth (see my reply to Harry above).

    The ‘view from anywhere’ invites a power struggle - which of course suits those who hold the illusion of power. Galileo’s personal struggle against Church doctrine is an example of the problem with this ‘view from anywhere’. My position is that a little humility on both sides goes a long way.
  • Banno
    7.9k
    The ‘view from anywhere’ is a claim to the most objective position, often in blatant ignorance of the possibility that one may be missing information. It’s a favourite technique of those who prefer to maintain an over-inflated sense of their own importance, often against all evidence to the contrary: like religious doctrine, scientific writers, journalists ...and Trump.Possibility

    That' just an ad hom; nothing more. It's poor thinking; an exercise in attempting to deny rationality by pretending it's mere powerplay, as if that were not itself a move in the same powerplay. Basically, its the root of bullshit.

    In my opinion Davidson more than deals with your objections using charity and radical interpretation.
  • Coben
    1.5k
    I don't think all ways of drawing conclusions are the same. I think we can be more certain of something, especially if we are agreeing on certain foundational beliefs: like if we are working with the idea that we are not in a simulation or otherwise brain in a vat type scenario and other such axioms. Sure, these might be wrong (but pretty much everyone who says 'everying is subjective' or 'we can't be certain of anything' has reached this conclusion based on ideas of perception, epistemology, minds...etc. that they cannot be certain about. Reserving some skepticism about what is considered true can be consistent, it's an attitude not an assertion. But the moment you try to demonstate that the correct conclusion is that one cannot be completely certain, well, you just joined the club of objectivists.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    That' just an ad hom; nothing more. It's poor thinking; an exercise in attempting to deny rationality by pretending it's mere powerplay, as if that were not itself a move in the same powerplay. Basically, its the root of bullshit.Banno

    Granted. This part was not my argument as such - it was a passing comment, and an ungracious one at that. My humble apologies.

    In my opinion Davidson more than deals with your objections using charity and radical interpretation.Banno

    Thank you for this. I’d not heard of Davidson before, and I find that I agree with the vast majority of his theory (as described by SEP), particularly with regards to charity and radical interpretation. I will need to track down his original works at some stage. Much appreciated.

    I don't think all ways of drawing conclusions are the same. I think we can be more certain of something, especially if we are agreeing on certain foundational beliefs: like if we are working with the idea that we are not in a simulation or otherwise brain in a vat type scenario and other such axioms. Sure, these might be wrong (but pretty much everyone who says 'everying is subjective' or 'we can't be certain of anything' has reached this conclusion based on ideas of perception, epistemology, minds...etc. that they cannot be certain about. Reserving some skepticism about what is considered true can be consistent, it's an attitude not an assertion. But the moment you try to demonstate that the correct conclusion is that one cannot be completely certain, well, you just joined the club of objectivists.Coben

    I agree with this. I think there appears to be an assumption here that my approach is purely relativistic as such. I believe that truth exists objectively - but neither as something actual, nor as something potentially knowable. I stated this lack of certainty as a ‘given’ condition in the OP, which clearly seemed to bother some people. For me, objectivity is a possibility: a concept we can aspire to understand most accurately in relation to those positions with which we disagree, or indeed perspectives which we struggle to understand. At this level of relation, though, we need to let go of certainty as a fundamental attribute to information, otherwise I think we miss the opportunity to learn.

    That we can interact with the world for the most part without encountering challenges to the certainty in our perspective is insufficient reason to claim objectivity in a philosophical sense. This reasoning can lead to intellectual stagnation - a focus on preserving a claim to objectivity by prioritising certainty at the expense of possibilities, or even potential. Acknowledging that, as you say, much of what we conclude or claim to ‘know’ is based on uncertain information seems, to me, a first step in approaching a discussion about the notion of ‘objective truth’.
  • Congau
    173
    The definition of ‘objective’ is where I think our main issue arises, though. I recognise that the dictionary definition of ‘objective’ is “not dependent on the mind for existence; actual”. But I would argue that even though what is actual may exist independently of your mind or mine, it is not entirely independent of perspective as such.Possibility
    A lot of our disagreement, as is often the case in philosophical debate, is actually about linguistics and how to define terms.

    Of course I agree that we use input from the world to draw conclusions about it and make conjectures about what the future might look like. This perpetual human interaction creates individual and collective understanding and does constitute a reality of its own. Cultural and intersubjective beliefs are existing entities (and as such objective in my understanding of the term) but I don’t understand why you insist on calling such ideas objective. When the dictionary clearly states that “objective” means “not dependent on the mind” why is it necessary to push that dictionary definition? Couldn’t you get your point across by using other words? In the beginning of our discussion I was pleased to learn that you acknowledged the existence of objective truth, but then I realized that your understanding of “objective” was different from mine. Isn’t a debate about mere words really an unnecessary confusion (although a very common one)?

    Any object can be viewed from an infinite number of perspectives, which would make an infinite number of objective truths and that is rather a characteristic of what is subjective. Why not call it subjective then?
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    A lot of our disagreement, as is often the case in philosophical debate, is actually about linguistics and how to define terms.

    Of course I agree that we use input from the world to draw conclusions about it and make conjectures about what the future might look like. This perpetual human interaction creates individual and collective understanding and does constitute a reality of its own. Cultural and intersubjective beliefs are existing entities (and as such objective in my understanding of the term) but I don’t understand why you insist on calling such ideas objective. When the dictionary clearly states that “objective” means “not dependent on the mind” why is it necessary to push that dictionary definition? Couldn’t you get your point across by using other words? In the beginning of our discussion I was pleased to learn that you acknowledged the existence of objective truth, but then I realized that your understanding of “objective” was different from mine. Isn’t a debate about mere words really an unnecessary confusion (although a very common one)?
    Congau

    What do you mean by ‘a reality of its own’? Are you maintaining a dual sense of reality, as in mental vs physical? You agree that beliefs are objectively real and yet don’t understand why I include them in an objective sense of reality. I recognise that each of these beliefs are subjective, but together they contribute to a conceptual structure of truth that is in itself more objective than what is merely actual.

    Any object can be viewed from an infinite number of perspectives, which would make an infinite number of objective truths and that is rather a characteristic of what is subjective. Why not call it subjective then?Congau

    A photograph of an object is subjective, because it displays only one limited view out of many, and offers no reason to suggest that another perspective is possible (even though we ‘know’ that many exist). A visual model of the object is more objective than the photograph, because it is inclusive of all visual perspectives. But it is also subjective in relation to a working replica of the object, which would be inclusive of information regarding an internal aspect: how the object is constructed and what it does in a temporal sense. This seems to be as far as your sense of objectivity stretches.

    But if that object is a human being, then we understand that any ‘working replica’ of the object would still fall short of reality. This suggests that there is at least another aspect to the human experience, of which a p-zombie (as a full ‘working replica’ of a human being, inclusive of your sense of ‘objective’ understanding) gives no indication, like the photograph or the model. This renders the p-zombie a subjective view of humanity in relation to reality. A more objective understanding of the truth of human experience would then need to be inclusive of all experiential perspectives, such as cultural and intersubjective beliefs, conclusions and conjectures, about what the future might look like, etc.

    I guess I’m not one to work only within the actual constraints of a dictionary definition simply because it’s written down as such. Definition is a reduction of knowledge, which is a reduction of meaning, after all.
  • Congau
    173
    What do you mean by ‘a reality of its own’? Are you maintaining a dual sense of reality, as in mental vs physical? You agree that beliefs are objectively real and yet don’t understand why I include them in an objective sense of reality. I recognise that each of these beliefs are subjective, but together they contribute to a conceptual structure of truth that is in itself more objective than what is merely actual.Possibility
    No, that’s not what I mean. I’m just saying that a thought is one addition to reality. Reality consists of stones, houses, nail polish, thoughts etc.
    “I am now thinking about x.” That immediately adds one item to reality, this thought of mine, but it does nothing to x.
    “I’m thinking about an elephant.” The elephant is not affected.
    “I’m thinking about a unicorn.” The unicorn didn’t come into existence, even though my thought did.

    A photograph of an object is subjective, because it displays only one limited view out of many, and offers no reason to suggest that another perspective is possiblePossibility
    A photograph is objective. It makes a copy of exactly how the object looks from a particular angle (including the degree of light/darkness and haze). It doesn’t make any interpretations, what it “sees” is what a human would have seen if we had been able to leave our biased impressions aside.

    A photograph (or a human replica) makes no claim to be saying anything about the human experience. An objective understanding of the, or rather a, human experience would be the same as telepathy.

    I guess I’m not one to work only within the actual constraints of a dictionary definition simply because it’s written down as such. Definition is a reduction of knowledge, which is a reduction of meaning, after all.Possibility
    In that case it’s just not possible to communicate your thoughts to others. We are dependent on a common definition to be able to communicate. However, it’s not our definition because it is written down in a dictionary, but the other way around. Dictionaries only reflect our shared understanding of a word.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    Given that we can never be absolutely certain of what is true...Possibility

    That's not a given. There is all sorts of stuff that we can be certain is true. The term "absolutely" doesn't add anything here either. Drop it altogether.

    Are you certain that what you say is true... that we cannot be certain that anything is true?
  • TheMadFool
    5.9k
    Objective truths are truths whose truth-status is in no way affected by personal peculiarities (emotions, imagination, perception). Ergo, objective truths are universally agreed upon for they aren't impacted by individuals differences.

    Subjective truths, on the other hand, vary in their truth-status from individual to individual because they're colored by personal peculiarities (perception, imagination, emotions).

    Certainty concerns knowledge and it's possible to be certain to varying degrees, from totally uncertain to completely certain, regarding our knowledge of objective truths.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    Given that we can never be absolutely certain of what is true...
    — Possibility

    That's not a given. There is all sorts of stuff that we can be certain is true. The term "absolutely" doesn't add anything here either. Drop it altogether.

    Are you certain that what you say is true... that we cannot be certain that anything is true?
    creativesoul

    I’ll assume you haven’t read the rest of the thread, but I suggest you do. I’ve stated it as a given for the purpose of this discussion because no, I cannot be certain that what I say is true for everyone else in the same way that it is for me.

    I might claim certainty, but I would do so by ignoring, isolating or excluding the possibility of alternative perspectives, which can’t then be a claim to objectivity. I’m suggesting that objectivity and certainty can be considered a conjugate pairing.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k


    Looks like a conflation of belief and truth, but I see that Banno is participating here, so I'm out. He's probably already voiced the right concerns.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    No, that’s not what I mean. I’m just saying that a thought is one addition to reality. Reality consists of stones, houses, nail polish, thoughts etc.
    “I am now thinking about x.” That immediately adds one item to reality, this thought of mine, but it does nothing to x.
    “I’m thinking about an elephant.” The elephant is not affected.
    “I’m thinking about a unicorn.” The unicorn didn’t come into existence, even though my thought did.
    Congau

    So, given that you can spontaneously bring a thought into existence from nothing, how would you describe the relation between your existence and that of your thought?

    A photograph is objective. It makes a copy of exactly how the object looks from a particular angle (including the degree of light/darkness and haze). It doesn’t make any interpretations, what it “sees” is what a human would have seen if we had been able to leave our biased impressions aside.

    A photograph (or a human replica) makes no claim to be saying anything about the human experience. An objective understanding of the, or rather a, human experience would be the same as telepathy.
    Congau

    A photograph was engineered to replicate the human experience of visual interaction as an isolated capacity. It makes a single interpretation of the light that most closely matches the human visual perspective, including many limitations, and then adjusts for certainty. The ‘truth’ of a photograph is then evaluated within the subjectivity of the broader human experience.

    Anything made or conceived by humanity communicates something about the human experience in general, in particular about its capacity and limitations in relation to a more objective sense of truth.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    In that case it’s just not possible to communicate your thoughts to others. We are dependent on a common definition to be able to communicate. However, it’s not our definition because it is written down in a dictionary, but the other way around. Dictionaries only reflect our shared understanding of a word.Congau

    Yes - they only reflect our shared understanding - they are not equal to it. I’m not dismissing the dictionary definition, I’m pointing out its limitations in relation to the possibility of a shared understanding that extends beyond the subjectivity that contributed to it. It helps to begin with a common definition, sure. But we need not be constrained by it in relation to reality, just for the sake of certainty. Your understanding of the potential and meaning of the word extends beyond the stated definition, as does mine. You’re just not willing to let go of the sense of certainty that a written definition offers.
  • Congau
    173
    So, given that you can spontaneously bring a thought into existence from nothing, how would you describe the relation between your existence and that of your thought?Possibility
    It doesn’t come into existence from nothing. The point is that the thought, as it comes into being, doesn’t affect its source. (Sure, it may result in action which may later affect the material world, but that belongs to the future.)

    A photograph was engineered to replicate the human experience of visual interaction as an isolated capacity. It makes a single interpretation of the light that most closely matches the human visual perspective, including many limitations, and then adjusts for certainty. The ‘truth’ of a photograph is then evaluated within the subjectivity of the broader human experience.Possibility
    A particular camera is designed to absorb light in one specific way and render colors according to one method. Two photographs taken by the same camera will truthfully copy two instances of reality according to the same standard. A human looking at two objects may interpret one of them correctly and the other incorrectly even according to his own standard.

    It helps to begin with a common definition, sure. But we need not be constrained by it in relation to reality, just for the sake of certainty. Your understanding of the potential and meaning of the word extends beyond the stated definition, as does mine. You’re just not willing to let go of the sense of certainty that a written definition offers.Possibility
    In philosophy the certainty of a definition is of utmost importance and many a philosophical discussion fails because the substance of the matter slips away, and the opponents keep talking about different things. In daily life exact definitions are of much less importance as we generally know what the other person is talking about and if we don’t, the consequences are usually rather small.
    What is the difference between a shoe and a boot, for example? How high around the ankle does the shoe need to be to become a boot? No one knows exactly, and it usually doesn’t matter, but if you run a shoe store, you may want to decide on an artificial distinction to conveniently classify your merchandise.
    Similarly in philosophy, you may argue that the colloquial definition of “objective” is not watertight, but in that case you’ll have to decide on one that is, and then why not choose the dictionary definition as it is more likely to be recognized by the person you are talking to. As it now is, I have no way of knowing what you really mean by “objective” since you have admitted that you are working with an open-ended definition which as such cannot be clear even to yourself.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    It doesn’t come into existence from nothing. The point is that the thought, as it comes into being, doesn’t affect its source. (Sure, it may result in action which may later affect the material world, but that belongs to the future.)Congau

    The source of a thought about an elephant isn’t the elephant. There is no actual elephant involved in thinking about an elephant. The way I see it, a thought is an energy event, a manifest interaction between potential information accessible to the system. The potential energy for that event comes from you, as the system. It is you who is affected by a thought as it comes into being, whether you entertain it or reject it.

    A thought is a source of new potential information for the system, which then interacts with other potential information to manifest more thoughts. Each thought draws on the potential energy of the system itself for its existence, and any new potential information from that thought can be temporarily available to the system as possible ‘food for thought’ (to interact with other accessible potential information, manifesting more thoughts), or integrated by correlation with the memories, knowledge and beliefs of your unique conceptual system - necessarily affecting it/you. This amorphous structure of interrelated potential information informs and is informed by your interoceptive neural network as it also accesses new potential information from internal and external sensory systems, and makes continual predictions regarding the system’s potential energy and attention requirements (including thinking), thereby determining and initiating all your thoughts, words and actions.

    So, the way I see it, all of this potential information is part of who you are, affecting you as an element of the material world. It doesn’t just belong to the future.

    A particular camera is designed to absorb light in one specific way and render colors according to one method. Two photographs taken by the same camera will truthfully copy two instances of reality according to the same standard. A human looking at two objects may interpret one of them correctly and the other incorrectly even according to his own standard.Congau

    That standard constitutes the limits of a camera’s capacity to interpret light. The photograph is then a limited perspective of truth (ie. subjective), just as a human looking at an object renders a limited perspective of truth. The camera has no awareness of its standard. A human, however, may be aware of a standard, but that may not be the standard by which they actually determine and initiate thoughts, words and actions.

    In philosophy the certainty of a definition is of utmost importance and many a philosophical discussion fails because the substance of the matter slips away, and the opponents keep talking about different things. In daily life exact definitions are of much less importance as we generally know what the other person is talking about and if we don’t, the consequences are usually rather small.
    What is the difference between a shoe and a boot, for example? How high around the ankle does the shoe need to be to become a boot? No one knows exactly, and it usually doesn’t matter, but if you run a shoe store, you may want to decide on an artificial distinction to conveniently classify your merchandise.
    Similarly in philosophy, you may argue that the colloquial definition of “objective” is not watertight, but in that case you’ll have to decide on one that is, and then why not choose the dictionary definition as it is more likely to be recognized by the person you are talking to. As it now is, I have no way of knowing what you really mean by “objective” since you have admitted that you are working with an open-ended definition which as such cannot be clear even to yourself.
    Congau

    I recognise your need for certainty, but we’re discussing ‘objective truth’, of which we can be far from certain. As I mentioned to creativesoul, there is reason to consider objectivity and certainty as a conjugate pairing. In reference to the uncertainty principle, Einstein disagreed with Heisenberg’s interpretation, believing that particles had an ‘objectively true’ momentum and position at all times, even if both could not be measured. In the end, what either believed in relation to meaning is irrelevant to its functionality - Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle stands and is yet to be violated, regardless of interpretation. I think this is the case here. Unlike Heisenberg, I’m not going to abandon the existence of reality or in this case truth, because I believe its existence in principle as a possibility - of which we may either be objectively uncertain or subjectively certain but never objectively certain - is a necessary relation for all existence.

    In philosophical discussion, it is our attempts to maintain both certainty and objectivity that contribute to the failure of discussions, particularly when the topic extends beyond our capacity for direct observation/measurement or proven fact. At some point, I think we need to recognise that any definition of ‘objective’ will always be uncertain, just as any definition of ‘certainty’ will always be subjective. It complicates discussion, sure, but I think that human communication and interaction are particularly suited to discussions about objectivity sans certainty.

    This is where patience, integrity and self-awareness play an important role, and where humility, lack of information and error are experiences we can embrace as opportunities to learn. I want to thank you, in particular, @Congau, for your generosity, kindness and gentleness throughout our lengthy discussion on this topic. We see the world so differently, and I am learning so much from how patiently you articulate your perspective of truth.
  • Congau
    173
    The source of a thought about an elephant isn’t the elephant. There is no actual elephant involved in thinking about an elephant. The way I see it, a thought is an energy event, a manifest interaction between potential information accessible to the system. The potential energy for that event comes from you, as the system. It is you who is affected by a thought as it comes into being, whether you entertain it or reject it.Possibility
    You get input from somewhere, a real elephant, a picture, a story or from some other untraceable memory and mix it with your energy or however you would like to express it, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t really have a problem with this (apart from some of your confusing word choices like “potential information” but I guess we have already more or less cleared that up.)

    So, the way I see it, all of this potential information is part of who you are, affecting you as an element of the material world. It doesn’t just belong to the future.Possibility
    It belongs to the future in the sense that I am receiving information right now, then I process it and create a new state of reality. There is a time aspect of input > processing > output, even when it happens very fast. There exists an objective state of the world that is unalterable because it has already occurred, for example the world as it was on May 12, 2020 at 7pm GMT. That includes my own mental state at that point in time. Whatever I can make of it and use to change the state of the world, will occur after this point, that is in the future.

    That standard constitutes the limits of a camera’s capacity to interpret light. The photograph is then a limited perspective of truth (ie. subjective), just as a human looking at an object renders a limited perspective of truth.Possibility
    The subjective part of our interpretation of the world is not really found in our perceptive organs, which would be equivalent to a camera (a machine) reproducing an image. Let’s imagine we all had the same eyesight and there was no color blindness and other confusing idiosyncrasies. We would get the same imprint on our retina, but that wouldn’t make our impression any less subjective. follow later Subjectivity follows when the actual interpretation happens (I’m looking at a rock, no, wait, it’s an elephant!). The mind as an interpreting entity is not yet active at the first visual impression, so there’s no reason to talk about subjectivity. Similarly, subjectivity is not really about our looking at objects from different perspectives and angles. If it were, all it would take would be for you to step into the spot where I’m currently standing, and you would see the world from my perspective. But you would still interpret this same visual impression differently, and that is subjectivity in the proper sense. Therefore the analogy with photography doesn’t capture the concept of subjectivity.

    This is where patience, integrity and self-awareness play an important role, and where humility, lack of information and error are experiences we can embrace as opportunities to learn. I want to thank you, in particular, Congau, for your generosity, kindness and gentleness throughout our lengthy discussion on this topic. We see the world so differently, and I am learning so much from how patiently you articulate your perspective of truth.Possibility
    I’m happy to hear that and I likewise appreciate your civil attitude and willingness to listen in spite of our disagreement. Fruitful discussions are not about reaching an agreement. It’s about achieving more clarity about one’s position, whether or not it is moved, while learning about other possible views.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    You get input from somewhere, a real elephant, a picture, a story or from some other untraceable memory and mix it with your energy or however you would like to express it, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t really have a problem with this (apart from some of your confusing word choices like “potential information” but I guess we have already more or less cleared that up.)Congau

    This is the interesting thing, because (while it may not matter how I express it) it does matter where the ‘input’ comes from. First of all, if the memory is untraceable, then its uncertainty is more pronounced than if we could pinpoint the surrounding conditions of the potential information. A real elephant standing in front of us enables us to verify the surrounding conditions without being subject to the uncertainty with which our memory has been structured. A picture or story also relies on how we evaluate the certainty of someone else’s perspective.

    Because of this, how you think about an elephant is going to differ in many ways from how I think about an elephant, whether we are both looking at the same photograph or the same animal in the wild. So, even if we both can say ‘I’m thinking that’s an elephant’, the thoughts will be different and affect the world differently as they each come into existence, despite the same language being used to express the event. A claim to certainty in stating ‘that’s an elephant’ is a reduction of all the information integrated from thought - excluding any of the incomplete or potential information which would improve objectivity, yet undermines the certainty in our perspective of truth.

    It belongs to the future in the sense that I am receiving information right now, then I process it and create a new state of reality. There is a time aspect of input > processing > output, even when it happens very fast. There exists an objective state of the world that is unalterable because it has already occurred, for example the world as it was on May 12, 2020 at 7pm GMT. That includes my own mental state at that point in time. Whatever I can make of it and use to change the state of the world, will occur after this point, that is in the future.Congau

    This is where the way we expect information processing to work (ie. like a computer) should be pointed out as inaccurate with respect to human beings, at least. Neuroscience shows that we continually predict our future interactions with the world, rather than simply responding to stimuli as it occurs. To do this, the brain needs to act now on what potential information it has about the future, and then keep adjusting for accuracy as the moment of interaction draws closer. So I am anticipating a future state of reality (including my mental state) based on available potential information, and the actions I’m carrying out now are based on predictions made by my brain’s interoceptive network moments before. The state of the world includes me, and I am continually changed by potential information I integrate about the future. This fascinating temporal shift in consciousness messes with our understanding of ‘an objective state of the world’ in relation to our own mental state. It also raises the profile of potential information, bringing its impact firmly into the present.

    The subjective part of our interpretation of the world is not really found in our perceptive organs, which would be equivalent to a camera (a machine) reproducing an image. Let’s imagine we all had the same eyesight and there was no color blindness and other confusing idiosyncrasies. We would get the same imprint on our retina, but that wouldn’t make our impression any less subjective. follow later Subjectivity follows when the actual interpretation happens (I’m looking at a rock, no, wait, it’s an elephant!). The mind as an interpreting entity is not yet active at the first visual impression, so there’s no reason to talk about subjectivity. Similarly, subjectivity is not really about our looking at objects from different perspectives and angles. If it were, all it would take would be for you to step into the spot where I’m currently standing, and you would see the world from my perspective. But you would still interpret this same visual impression differently, and that is subjectivity in the proper sense. Therefore the analogy with photography doesn’t capture the concept of subjectivity.Congau

    I recognise this difference, but what I’m saying is that the distinction is one of dimensional aspect. The structural shift is the same. It’s pointless for me to try to illustrate the structural shift between subjectivity and objectivity at the five-dimensional level of human experience using an analogy at the same level of awareness, because there is no existing understanding of structural relations at this level. Analogy is not a claim to conceptual equivalence in every sense. I’m saying that the structural shift works the same way, just with an additional dimensional aspect. The relational structure of information between a photograph and a model shifts from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, inclusive of spatial information; likewise between the model and a working replica the structure shifts from three-dimensional information to four-dimensional, including a replication of temporal states. In the same way, the relational structure of information between a working replica (p-zombie) and human experience would need to shift from four-dimensional information to a five-dimensional structural relation, including a replication of atemporal intention, or integrated potential information.

    Fruitful discussions are not about reaching an agreement. It’s about achieving more clarity about one’s position, whether or not it is moved, while learning about other possible views.Congau

    We are in agreement here. :grin:
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    Neuroscience shows that we continually predict our future interactions with the world, rather than simply responding to stimuli as it occurs.Possibility

    Does it?

    I would think that neuroscience - if it shows anything - would show that we do both, because we do. If anyone or anything sayd that we do one or the other, as if the two are mutually exclusive, as if it cannot be both, as if we do not do both... well, they're quite wrong about that.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    It is true that I am currently typing on my computer keyboard. I can be absolutely certain of it. That is most certainly true.

    Thus...
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    It is true that Donald John Trump is not a reliable source of information regarding the covid19 virus. I am absolutely certain of that.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    We cannot be certain about everything. It quite simply does not necessarily follow that we ought not be certain about anything.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    I would think that neuroscience - if it shows anything - would show that we do both.creativesoul

    We have reflexes, involuntary actions in our peripheral nervous system, where there is a direct link between sensory and motor neurons, sure. I’m referring to those connecting to and from the brain in particular.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    It is true that I am currently typing on my computer keyboard. I can be absolutely certain that true.creativesoul

    You can be subjectively certain that it is true. But you cannot be certain of eliminating the remote possibility that you could be hallucinating, and therefore, you cannot be absolutely certain that you typing on your computer keyboard is what is true in an objective sense.

    So, the primary premiss is false.creativesoul

    It’s not a logical premise. Perhaps ‘given’ was the wrong choice. It’s a parameter for this particular question about the notion of ‘objective truth’. I’m not necessarily stating that we can never be absolutely certain about anything. I’m saying that uncertainty is necessary to discussions about ‘objective truth’. If you limit the need for ‘objectivity’, then truth can be discussed with certainty. If you limit the need for ‘certainty’, then truth can be discussed objectively. But we can neither be objective about certainty, nor certain about objectivity.

    We cannot be certain about everything. It quite simply does not necessarily follow that we ought not be certain about anything.creativesoul

    I agree - who said anything about ought?
  • Congau
    173
    A claim to certainty in stating ‘that’s an elephant’ is a reduction of all the information integrated from thought - excluding any of the incomplete or potential information which would improve objectivity, yet undermines the certainty in our perspective of truth.Possibility
    We can never have certainty. We don’t know if there is an elephant standing in front of us. But the objective truth, at any given moment, has only two possibilities: there is or there isn’t. Right now, for example, I think that I’m comfortably sitting at my desk, but I know that either there’s an elephant standing in front of me or there isn’t. (I go for the latter, but that’s just my subjective guessing.)

    Always adding another perspective and including different points of view will not automatically increase objectivity. One may perhaps think that an article about Judaism would not be objective until it also included the opinion of neo-Nazis, but that is a misunderstanding. Adding ever more subjectivity can’t possibly increase objectivity. Rather “objective” as in “an objective article” would indicate the absence of any specific viewpoints as far as that is possible. Of course, it’s not possible to be completely objective in this sense, but one can always get closer to it.
    However, this objectivity is not the same as objective truth. It may very well be that one subjective opinion is the objective truth, unknown to everyone including the person holding this opinion. In fact, every time I argue for something, I think that is the objective truth (that’s why I bother to argue) and I think it’s the same for you and anyone else (unless they argue just for sports like sophists). The ultimate objective truth would not be expressed in an objective and detached way.
  • Possibility
    1.3k
    We will likely never agree on this entirely, which I will always find intriguing.

    I think that certainty is not something we can possess or claim without excluding the possibility of truth existing in any objective sense. You and I have been content to limit this need for certainty, enabling us to discuss objectivity in relation to truth. There are those claiming here that they are certain of something and imply that everyone else must be certain of it, also - or risk flights of fancy and wild imaginings in a bid to dislodge their claim. At the same time, they insist on doing away with terms such as ‘objective’ or ‘absolute’ as unnecessary in a discussion of truth.

    Always adding another perspective and including different points of view will not automatically increase objectivity.Congau

    That depends on what you mean by ‘adding’ and ‘including’. I don’t believe that we can ever express objectivity as such - the author of an apparently ‘objective’ article has taken pains to conceal the subjectivity and/or uncertainty in their statements, but has otherwise taken into account as many different perspectives of the subject matter as they can before presenting what is essentially the extent of their subjective ‘knowledge’. The absence of any specific viewpoints is an indication of writing style, not awareness. It can be seen as an exclusion of information (pertaining to the subjectivity and/or uncertainty of statements), rather than a progression towards truth in an objective sense. An expression that claims to be objective is an exercise in clarity, not truth.

    However, this objectivity is not the same as objective truth. It may very well be that one subjective opinion is the objective truth, unknown to everyone including the person holding this opinion. In fact, every time I argue for something, I think that is the objective truth (that’s why I bother to argue) and I think it’s the same for you and anyone else (unless they argue just for sports like sophists).Congau

    When I argue for something, I think that is the truth as far as my limited perspective allows me. If I am certain enough to bother arguing my point, then I expect there will be some element of truth to a dissenting perspective that I may struggle to understand. For me, I can believe it to be objective truth only if it appears filled with possibility.

    The ultimate objective truth would not be expressed in an objective and detached way.Congau

    I agree. The ultimate expression of objective truth is all of reality.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    ...you cannot be absolutely certain that you typing on your computer keyboard is what is true in an objective sensePossibility

    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
    8.1k


    If there is a cat on the mat, then the statement "the cat is on the mat" is true. Of that, I am absolutely certain and very well ought be.

    Agree?
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    We cannot be certain about everything. It quite simply does not necessarily follow that we ought not be certain about anything.
    — creativesoul

    I agree - who said anything about ought?
    Possibility

    I did because it is implicit in using the fact that we cannot be certain about everything as reason or justification for taking it a bit further and implying that we ought keep it in mind and that by doing so cannot be certain about anything.
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