• Snakes Alive
    638
    Morris Lazerowitz was interested in the nature of metaphysics, starting from the hunch that it was not what its practitioners claimed it was (an inquiry into the basic nature of things). That it is not what it claims to be seems obvious in retrospect – we cannot even figure out such simple things as what is behind a closed door by just talking about it. Why would we ever think we could figure out the basic nature of the elements of the universe by talking? It's in this puzzling feature of metaphysics – that somehow the deepest truths are known without any investigation whatsoever, and just by deciding to use words in a certain way, that is the start of his account.

    Lazerowitz proposes that metaphysics has a tripartite structure, consisting of a superficial layer, a middle layer, and a deep layer, as follows:

    The first (superficial) layer is where the metaphysical claim itself is made. So for instance, the metaphysician might say:
    – There are no physical objects.
    – Only physical objects exist.
    – Time is unreal.
    – The soul is simple.
    – God is three persons in one essence.


    ...or something to that effect. At the first layer, it seems we have an ordinary claim, just like:
    – There are no unicorns.
    – Only metals that conduct electricity exist.
    – The budget cuts are unreal.
    – Atomic sentences are simple.
    – God was worshipped by western Semites in the Bronze Age.

    The reason we seem to have an ordinary claim is that all claims made using language use the same grammar, and so there is no overt clue that the sorts of claims made in these two sets are somehow deeply distinct. But as anyone who has discussed them can tell you, they are distinct, as regards to the conditions under which they purport to be true. The first set, it seems, has a puzzling status, where it is not just unclear whether they are true or false, due maybe to epistemic limitations, or vagueness in the language, or ambiguity, or what have you, but it is unclear whether they are meaningful, in the restricted sense that it is unclear whether they in principle determine any truth conditions at all. That is, as competent speakers of English, we typically do not know what would make the statements in the first class true or false, and so we cannot extract a 'descriptive' meaning from them. It is for this reason that metaphysicians are able to argue about the claims endlessly, even without any 'materials' for argumentation other than conversations they take part in – because if even the sense of the expressions are unclear, one can always deny or affirm a claim, by construing the words in a certain way or marshaling and endless array of supplementary hypotheses or hermeneutic and argumentative techniques, themselves undetermined or underdetermined for meaning. In other words, conversations about such metaphysical sentences are in principle endless, because they have in principle no way of being resolved, because their structure, despite being grammatically like a claim with coherent (if sometimes vague or ambiguous) truth conditions, do not have any such that the speakers can converge on.

    The second (middle) layer is the layer at which the force of the claims in the first layer actually take effect. Since the metaphysical statements have no descriptive conditions of application that speakers can agree on, what could it possibly mean to accept a statement as true, or deny it as false? It can only mean that, since such acceptance or denial cannot change one's views on what the world is like (for one does not know what the world must be like, for these things to be true or false, that is, cannot respond to the world differently depending on this truth status, or tell the difference between the world being one way or the other), to accept such a statement as true can only mean that one is re-construing the meaning of the words involved such that, whatever beliefs one had about the world before are exactly preserved, but one is making a decision to describe that same state of affairs using different words, viz. the words in the metaphysical claim itself. This in turn has a huge number of conversational commitments, forcing the metaphysician to rearrange his grammar, introduce or reject new auxiliary claims, whether metaphysical or not, in a shifting attempt to keep that grammar consistent, and so on. This provides an endless opportunity for expositing the claim itself and its 'consequences,' which also in principle have no descriptive effect, since the initial claim did not.

    In short, the middle layer is the layer at which the language takes action – and since at the first layer it has no coherent set of truth conditions, the middle layer acts as a proposal, conscious or not, to change the way one speaks, so that the same null truth conditions, involving the world as one always took it to be, are scrambled to be described in different vocabulary. Since we can create infinite vocabularies to describe the same state of affairs, this arena of changing the way people talk is endless. It's important to realize that this second stage can be more or less conscious, since we are typically not finely aware of how the claims we make do or don't have descriptive application, and we just stick to the words themselves, sort of like magic talismans, which we hold onto and say 'this is true!' Note that this also explains why metaphysicians have no subject matter, and do not investigate anything, but only converse – it is because the practice in principle only offers new ways of speaking, these proposals to speak in new ways are always available by talking.

    The third (deep) layer is the layer at which the drive for making the claim in the first place exists. Though Lazerowitz does not focus on this so much, I think the drive often happens for simple confusion – we are not metasemantically transparent creatures, and often in doing metaphysics we literally don't understand what's going on (and we are, in a Wittgensteinian sense, idling the engine while thinking we're driving, or like roadrunners on a treadmill wondering why we're not moving).

    But Lazerowitz's explanation is a bit more interesting – he holds that here the philosopher has a desire for the world to be some way, and expresses this desire, typically secretly and unconsciously, by holding metaphysical views. The philosopher knows in some sense that his attempting to change the way he or other people speak cannot change the world in this way, but there is a kind of sleight of mind where one entertains the illusion that perhaps, just perhaps, if I adduce enough arguments to show that time is unreal, time might stop. In other words, there is a recognition that since one can speak however one pleases, that one can in some sense 'make true' whatever one pleases, just by talking about it. But as we saw in the second layer, this has no descriptive effect, and cannot really change the world or even what one thinks about it. Yet making a sentence like 'time is unreal' true according to one's logic, which follows from the employment of words in a certain way, one can sort of blur the eyes and almost believe he has stopped time.

    The third layer, therefore, exists on the border of the unconscious, where the philosopher harbors fantasies about the omnipotence of the intelligence, and tries to transfigure the world by means of a kind of 'verbal magic.' He can, like the sophists, 'talk about anything,' and indeed 'argue for anything' – so perhaps he can 'make anything true.' This does not work of course, and the philosopher consciously may know this. But the process itself is so intoxicating that it pulls us in pre-rationally. And it may even service deeper desires – for instance, if I fear change, the mantra that 'time is unreal' may comfort me, because that means change is unreal, and so change cannot hurt me.
  • bongo fury
    457
    Thanks. Links or recommendations welcome. What did he (or you) think of philosophy that tends to avoid metaphysics? E.g. currents in foundations of math, psychology of consciousness, theory of reference, theory of learning, logic of induction, semiotics etc? Or don't you agree that plenty of philosophy is cheerfully non-metaphysical?
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    It's still fundamentally reductionist, however. I think it still starts from essentially positivistic presuppositions, that presume that naturalism describes the world as it really is, and then tries to account for metaphysical conjecture as a kind of misreading or interpolation based on wishful thinking ('fantasies about the omnipotence of intelligence' 'this also explains why metaphysicians have no subject matter'.) So the effort really seems to be directed at explaining how apparently intelligent people can believe that metaphysics refers to anything at all.

    Would that be about right, do you think?
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    I think it still starts from essentially positivistic presuppositions, that presume that naturalism describes the world as it really isWayfarer

    As I understand it, on this view naturalism itself is a metaphysical position in Lazerowtiz's sense (I can't remember him saying this specifically, but it was the default view among positivists, which is where his career began, before he branched out).
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    The three works across which Lazerowitz articulates this position and applies it to specific examples are:

    -The Structure of Metaphysics
    -Studies in Metaphilosophy
    -Philosophy and Illusion

    Unfortunately these are all collections of papers, so there is a lot of overlap and you have to sift through it to get the whole picture.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    Morris Lazerowitz was interested in the nature of metaphysics, starting from the hunch that it was not what its practitioners claimed it was (an inquiry into the basic nature of things). That it is not what it claims to be seems obvious in retrospect – we cannot even figure out such simple things as what is behind a closed door by just talking about it. Why would we ever think we could figure out the basic nature of the elements of the universe by talking? It's in this puzzling feature of metaphysics – that somehow the deepest truths are known without any investigation whatsoever, and just by deciding to use words in a certain way, that is the start of his account.Snakes Alive

    What I mean is, that is very much 'vienna circle positivism' - that metaphysics is simply empty talk. It doesn't take into account that there might be a truly intellectual and experiential foundation to metaphysics which has been deliberately bracketed out of philosophy by modernist thinking, which then completely forgets what it originally referred to, and simply declares it all 'meaningless talk'.

    There's a well-known aphorism from Neils Bohr, 'anyone who is not shocked by quantum physics cannot have understood it'. I tracked the provenance of that saying down - it was given after a lecture he gave to the members of the Vienna Circle. He went through all the counter-intuitive discoveries of quantum mechanics, the very things that had caused decades of argument between himself and Einstein, and the members of the group all politely applauded at the end of his speech.

    That is when he said it. :-)
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    It doesn't take into account that there might be a truly intellectual and experiential foundation to metaphysics which has been deliberately bracketed out of philosophy by modernist thinking, which then completely forgets what it originally referred to, and simply declares it all 'meaningless talk'.Wayfarer

    I don't think it 'doesn't take that into account' – sure, it comes to a different conclusion. But I don't think those that do metaphysics or have done it in the past have ever internally been able to get clear on what its supposed significance is. Hence the fact that it is 'empty talk' is an observation, not a prejudice – people cannot, as a matter of fact, make sense of it.

    Not sure what the comments about quantum mechanics have to do with anything.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    I don't think those that do metaphysics or have done it in the past have ever internally been able to get clear on what its supposed significance is. Hence the fact that it is 'empty talk' is an observation, not a prejudice – people cannot, as a matter of fact, make sense of it.Snakes Alive

    It is meaningful within a domain of discourse. Metaphysics has religious implications and in the course of history, metaphysics became associated with - some would argue appropriated by - Christian theology. Subsequently Enlightenment rationalism and a lot of modernist thinking rejected it on those grounds. So, sure, for those with no understanding of the original significance of such discourses, with no 'skin in the game', as it were, then it is just empty talk. But that may be because they don't understand it, not because there's nothing in it to be understood.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    So, sure, for those with no understanding of the original significance of such discourses,Wayfarer

    The point is that those engaged in the discourse also seem to have no understanding of it. That is why it is puzzling as a genre of discourse.

    Of course a genre of discourse can have social effects and be associated with political and religious opinions. That doesn't mean that it has 'cognitive' or 'descriptive' content. Of course discourse in general is used towards many non-cognitive ends (and in fact that is admitted by the account here).
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    The point is that those engaged in the discourse also seem to have no understanding of it.Snakes Alive

    But the critic doesn't know that. There are even many academic specialists with deep understanding of metaphysical discourse. There are scholastic metaphysicians who are deeply engaged in both the practical implications and theoretical elaboration of metaphysics.

    Imagine a visitor from another planet which has developed without any conception of music. They see a symphony orchestra. Imagine the kinds of descriptive accounts they would give of the musicians and their instruments, and the sound that they make. They would start from the assumption that they're dealing with a variety of noise or random sounds, and then try and arrive at conclusions about why anyone would be involved in making those noises. and for what reason.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    magine a visitor from another planet which has developed without any conception of music.Wayfarer

    OK, but we're not visitors from another planet. We're natives of the very tradition being criticized, and have grown up with it from birth in the same way that the metaphysicians do.

    But I do think viewing things 'externally,' as if an anthropologist or an alien visitor, could be a good idea. The fact that a population is enculturated into something does not show that it's meaningful, and someone who has already bought into it will, in many cases, be unable to meaningfully criticize it.

    The fact is that something's efficacy is not reducible to how it's seen from inside – the genre may be 'objectively' free even of the sense that its practitioners take it to have from the inside. This is, I believe, the case with metaphysics. To show that, you'd have to first make a case for what sense metaphysics does have, so that it can be shown not to have this sense, even on its own terms.

    But this discussion interests me less than the discussion of the actual model of metaphysics by Lazerowitz I've posted, which you don't seem to be talking about.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    But this discussion interests me less than the discussion of the actual model of metaphysics by Lazerowitz I've posted, which you don't seem to be talking about.Snakes Alive

    But I am talking about it. What I'm saying is that Lazerowitz's model, as you've presented it, is predicated on the presumption that metaphysics refers to nothing real. And that itself is metaphysical presumption, and is fundamentally positivist in orientation. (Based on this, he didn't 'branch out' much, or rather, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.)

    Let's go back to the 'first layer' and 'second layer' model. It makes a valid point - that metaphysical enunciations (or claims or whatever) appear to be meaningful, but on analysis, they're actually not. Whereas if we say 'the sun rises in the East' or any other purely factual statement, this can be validated by observation, metaphysical dicta cannot be, often by definition. (This leads to the positivist position of 'verificationism'.)

    But I think this is well understood in metaphysical traditions themselves. Take for instance Origen, a 'church father' and immensely influential Christian Platonist (notwithstanding some of his ideas being anathematised after his death). He well understood that Biblical language could often not be interpreted on face value. (In fact had he been alive in modern times, he would have ridiculed creationism on those grounds.)

    According to Origen, there are two kinds of Biblical literature which are found in both the Old and New Testaments: historia ("history, or narrative") and nomothesia ("legislation or ethical prescription").[179] Origen expressly states that the Old and New Testaments should be read together and according to the same rules.[181] Origen further taught that there were three different ways in which passages of scripture could be interpreted.[181][43] The "flesh" was the literal, historical interpretation of the passage;[181][43] the "soul" was the moral message behind the passage;[181][43] and the "spirit" was the eternal, incorporeal reality that the passage conveyed.[181][43] In Origen's exegesis, the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs represent perfect examples of the bodily, soulful, and spiritual components of scripture respectively.[182] — Wikipedia

    In many religious traditions, it is at least implicit that whether or how some aphorism or saying is understood, is dependent on the capacity of the hearer. But in all such texts, there is a presumption that those who 'wish to hear', as it were, take the meaning 'to heart', in other words, it is literally meaningful because it is lived. But those outside that 'domain of discourse' will not be able to understand the references or meaning, and will be inclined to say that they don't refer to anything, or mean anything. But I think it's a very presumptuous attitude.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    Let's go back to the 'first layer' and 'second layer' model. It makes a valid point - that metaphysical enunciations (or claims or whatever) appear to be meaningful, but on analysis, they're actually not. Whereas if we say 'the sun rises in the East' or any other purely factual statement, this can be validated by observation, metaphysical dicta cannot be, often by definition. (This leads to the positivist position of 'verificationism'.)

    But I think this is well understood in metaphysical traditions themselves.
    Wayfarer

    So what are you taking issue with, then? This seems to contradict your previous claims.

    it is literally meaningful because it is lived. But those outside that 'domain of discourse' will not be able to understand the references or meaning, and will be inclined to say that they don't refer to anything, or mean anything. But I think it's a very presumptuous attitude.Wayfarer

    If it were meaningful to the participants, then they should be able to articulate that meaning internally among their own practice, but they cannot do this either. For example, metaphysicians cannot agree on what their propositions mean, under what circumstances they would be true, what their scope is, or what the criteria for figuring out whether they are true look like. So the whole 'you have to believe to see' line doesn't work for metaphysics, because the metaphysicians believe, but even by their own internal criteria, they don't see – which is why they can't have productive discussions.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    If it were meaningful to the participants, then they should be able to articulate that meaning internally among their own practice, but they cannot do this either. For example, metaphysicians cannot agree on what their propositions mean, under what circumstances they would be true, what their scope is, or what the criteria for figuring out whether they are true look like.Snakes Alive

    What support do you have for that assertion? It simply sounds like an assumption to me, an 'everyone knows that...' statement.
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    The first set, it seems, has a puzzling status, where it is not just unclear whether they are true or false, due maybe to epistemic limitations, or vagueness in the language, or ambiguity, or what have you, but it is unclear whether they are meaningful, in the restricted sense that it is unclear whether they in principle determine any truth conditions at all. That is, as competent speakers of English, we typically do not know what would make the statements in the first class true or false, and so we cannot extract a 'descriptive' meaning from them. It is for this reason that metaphysicians are able to argue about the claims endlessly, even without any 'materials' for argumentation other than conversations they take part in – because if even the sense of the expressions are unclear, one can always deny or affirm a claim, by construing the words in a certain way or marshaling and endless array of supplementary hypotheses or hermeneutic and argumentative techniques, themselves undetermined or underdetermined for meaning. In other words, conversations about such metaphysical sentences are in principle endless, because they have in principle no way of being resolved, because their structure, despite being grammatically like a claim with coherent (if sometimes vague or ambiguous) truth conditions, do not have any such that the speakers can converge on.Snakes Alive

    A counter point might be that if you take any popular unsolved mystery, there will be endless argumentation spanning many different theories. Take Fermi's Paradox and the question of whether technological alien life exists as a good example of this. There are even debates over what to search for. The problem is that we don't know the answer, not that it's meaningless.

    Now let's take one of the metaphysical examples you listed. What would it mean for there to be no physical objects? It would mean everything exists as an idea in someone's mind. What does that mean? Dreams are a good example. Everything would have the same fundamental status of dreams, except as different kinds of experiences. Experiences themselves would exhaust what a thing is.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    What support do you have for that assertion? It simply sounds like an assumption to me, an 'everyone knows that...' statement.Wayfarer

    The history of metaphysics is one of argumentation without any particular decisions made or consensus reached over any of the core issues. This is at least definitive in showing that metaphysics as a purported science was unsuccessful in its aims (since even if someone along the way got something right, the discipline itself is a failure insofar as it is impotent to communicate and establish that conclusion).

    But the problem is not just that intelligible, difficult questions were asked, like 'how many stars are in the sky?' and people came up with differing answers to it before giving up. Rather, no inquiry was ever performed other than the conversations held, and even in this arena, where nothing was ever looked into and people apparently felt that nothing needed to be looked into, it was impossible to make any headway. This shows that there must be some defect in the discourse itself.

    As to what that defect is, we can take specific metaphysical examples and use diagnostics to test whether they have any descriptive criteria. Here's one: take metaphysical hypotheses A and B. Can you write a story in which A is true, but not B, and have it be distinguishable from the plot itself, from a story in which B is true, and not A? If not, then it is likely you do not have the ability to intelligibly describe what it is for A or B to be true, and hence you are not debating matters with coherent criteria of application that you can comprehend.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    A counter point might be that if you take any popular unsolved mystery, there will be endless argumentation spanning many different theories. Take Fermi's Paradox and the question of whether technological alien life exists as a good example of this. There are even debates over what to search for. The problem is that we don't know the answer, not that it's meaningless.Marchesk

    That's right, but the difference is that one knows in principle what it is for such alien life to exist. One does not know what it is, for instance, for universals to exist versus not exist.

    What would it mean for there to be no physical objects? It would mean everything exists as an idea in someone's mind. What does that mean? Dreams are a good example. Everything would have the same fundamental status of dreams, except as different kinds of experiences. Experiences themselves would exhaust what a thing is.Marchesk

    I think that if you continue questioning this, you will find that the positions collapse into one another. For if 'everything' is a dream, then dreams are ispo facto those things which had all the qualities attributed to waking life anyway, and as such the hypothesis is indistinguishable from its negation. So yes, I would say indeed that things like global idealism, and the idea of the world as a dream, as typically intended, are not literally significant. All you are doing is taking the world as it is, and deciding to call it a 'dream' or not, but this does not change how you take the world to be.

    You could find a way to make them significant, for example by saying 'no, I think we literally live in a Matrix world, and we could wake up tomorrow in a pod controlled by robots.' That is an intelligible claim, although one that might be hard to prove. I know what it would be to wake up in such a situation – and in fact, such a thing can even be coherently depicted, as it is in the Matrix.
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    But the problem is not just that intelligible, difficult questions were asked, like 'how many stars are in the sky?'Snakes Alive

    That's just an empirical question. It can be investigated by careful observation.

    Rather, no inquiry was ever performed other than the conversations held, and even in this arena, where nothing was ever looked into and people apparently felt that nothing needed to be looked into, it was impossible to make any headway.Snakes Alive

    It's often enough the case that many examples are used. Lucretius used erosion as a justification for atomism. Metaphysics isn't just a language game. It's also looking around at our experience of the world and asking how things are the way they are, and whether our concepts about those things make sense.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    Lucretius used erosion as a justification for atomism.Marchesk

    Sure, but it actually isn't such evidence, as we know. Hence why such arguments are in principle ineffective, since some alternate account can always be constructed.

    Metaphysics isn't just a language game. It's also looking around at our experience of the world and asking how things are the way they are, and whether our concepts about those things make sense.Marchesk

    Metaphysical questions cannot be decided by empirical means. Do you have any examples to the contrary?
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    So yes, I would say indeed that things like global idealism, and the idea of the world as a dream, as typically intended, are not literally significant. All you are doing is taking the world as it is, and deciding to call it a 'dream' or not, but this does not change how you take the world to be.Snakes Alive

    But that's not quite right. The unreflective way we take the world to be is physical. As in there's this material stuff we perceive and interact with that continues to exist pretty much as perceived when we're not around. A more reflective view would acknowledge that material things are not entirely as we perceive them.

    Idealism would say the perceiving is all there is to it. And things only persists when we're not around if there is someone like God or a universal mind to perceive. There is no mind-independent material stuff that may or may not be like what we perceive.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    I should also note that there are two defenders of metaphysics in this thread right now, one of whom says metaphysical questions are not (by definition?) empirically verifiable, while the other says they are.

    Curious! So we cannot decide on that either.
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    You could find a way to make them significant, for example by saying 'no, I think we literally live in a Matrix world, and we could wake up tomorrow in a pod controlled by robots.' That is an intelligible claim, although one that might be hard to prove. I know what it would be to wake up in such a situation – and in fact, such a thing can even be coherently depicted, as it is in the Matrix.Snakes Alive

    Right, of course the real world in the Matrix is presumably physical. Another version of this would be an interpretation of QM where consciousness collapses the wavefunction, and everything is in a superpositioned state when not being perceived. Which I suppose you could say is physical, but it's not like any sort of traditional materialism, and certainly way outside human experience.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    But that's not quite right. The unreflective way we take the world to be is physical.Marchesk

    I don't know what you mean by this. I don't think unreflective experience of the world has metaphysical consequences, since metaphysical claims have no consequences.

    Idealism would say the perceiving is all there is to it. And things only persists when we're not around if there is someone like God or a universal mind to perceive. There is no mind-independent material stuff that may or may not be like what we perceive.Marchesk

    And if you think this view through to its conclusion, and account for every possible contingency, you will find that you just recreated the old view, and given it a different name.

    For instance, you might say 'ah, but the idealist can claim things don't exist unperceived!'

    Aha, but does that mean anything? Well, not really, for the idealist has to say 'ah, but they pop back into existence under all the exact same circumstances that a realist would expect perceptions of them to pop back into existence due to their existing outside of perception.'

    What then is the difference between these things existing outside of perception or not? And if you cannot tell the difference, or give any criterion by which they're differentiated, then you cannot coherently distinguish the hypothesis. 'But one view has things popping back into existence when we look, while the other has them persisting!' Ah, ah, ah...but what is the difference between those things? Do you know? The ultimate answer, if you turn it over, is nothing, because you must construct them so as to make the world exactly the same.

    Indeed you cannot help but do this, since by nature you are entertaining two hypotheses, both of which must conform to the way tthe world is, and neither of which in principle is distinguishable by any means. So how is it surprising when you end up with two hypothesis that are literally indistinguishable? That's all they can be. 'The world is a dream – but by dream I just mean what people ordinarily call not a dream, possessing all the ordinary nondreamlike qualities.' Ah, but then you didn't mean much of anything, did you?
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    Metaphysical questions cannot be decided by empirical means. Do you have any examples to the contrary?Snakes Alive

    I'm not sure. Some old philosophical questions have been answered by science or math. Of course new ones have come about as well.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    If you do not have an example, I will not take the claim seriously.
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    I don't know what you mean by this. I don't think unreflective experience of the world has metaphysical consequences, since metaphysical claims have no consequences.Snakes Alive

    I think it has naive realist claims.

    What then is the difference between these things existing outside of perception or not?Snakes Alive

    Material things would be different since their properties and behaviors are not exhausted by our perception of them. Arguably, our perception of material things are correlated with the environment based on the kind of creatures we are. The material things themselves would not have the properties of color, sound, taste, etc.

    This is completely different for idealism. Things just are as they are perceived.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k


    So, I'm curious...

    What is the minimum criterion for being meaningful?
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    If you do not have an example, I will not take the claim seriously.Snakes Alive

    Chemistry for the constitution of ordinary matter and convergent series for Zeno's paradox.
  • Snakes Alive
    638
    I think it has naive realist claims.Marchesk

    I don't think naive realism is meaningful. We'd behave the same way and do the same things regardless, and I cannot imagine what a 'naive realist' world would look like as opposed to any other.

    Material things would be different since their properties and behaviors are not exhausted by our perception of them.Marchesk

    OK, but what does that actually mean?

    Try the test: can you write a novel in which idealism is true, and another in which realism is true, and have the reader be able to tell which is true, from the plot?

    What is the minimum criterion for being meaningful?creativesoul

    For something to have 'cognitive significance,' it should describe some state of affairs such that the one to whom it's meaningful can somehow tell the difference between that state of affairs obtaining or not obtaining.
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    OK, but what does that actually mean?Snakes Alive

    It means other animals can perceive things we can't. It means X-Rays can pass through solid objects. It means a beam of photons can produce either a wave or particle pattern depending on whether you detect which slit they go through. And so on.

    Try the test: can you write a novel in which idealism is true,Snakes Alive

    stanley.gif
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    What is the minimum criterion for being meaningful?
    — creativesoul

    For something to have 'cognitive significance,' it should describe some state of affairs such that the one to whom it's meaningful can somehow tell the difference between that state of affairs obtaining or not obtaining.
    Snakes Alive

    I do not find that the 'cognitive significance' mention is helpful at all here. It could be easily refuted. I'll leave it be though, for the answer to the question followed that part...

    Are you saying that all meaningful things are descriptions?
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