• Pantagruel
    1.1k
    Right, "within its domain" being the key words here. And when people twist the evidence to make it appear like science has answers to issues which are outside of its domain, that is called scientism. Do you recognize, that the proposition that the human species, or that society, or the community, is an entity, is an ontological claim.Metaphysician Undercover

    The proposition that the individual exists is an ontological claim. And it depends on the perspective being taken. The individual cells in your body exist. The species, as an organic entity, exists, in exactly the same fashion as the cells in your body. Whether you ascribe identity to the cells in your body, or your body/brain/ego complex, or the species, depends on which perspective you adopt. If you adopt the perspective of evolutionary biology, then the species becomes the the operative entity (or a genetic population, more accurately). And that entity has its own unique domain of interactions, consisting of the biotic environment, including the systems composed of other species.

    The question is, do you understand how all observation is theory-laden? Every perspective is exactly that, a perspective, with antecedent assumptions. Granted, most of the time, these assumptions are deeply buried and prejudicative. But that is certainly one of the challenges of philosophy. So your assuming that the human body-ego is the exemplary ontological entity is just that, an assumption. And, as I've just explained, you can equally apply ontological primacy to a variety of physical entities, depending on which perspective you take. It really isn't complicated. You are making it so.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    The species, as an organic entity, exists, in exactly the same fashion as the cells in your body.Pantagruel

    This is not true. The cells in your body are united and supported in their existence by physical systems like the blood system, the respiratory system, and the nervous system. The cells in your body cannot exist without the support of these physical systems. There are no such physical systems which are required to maintain the existence of the individuals within a species.

    Whether you ascribe identity to the cells in your body, or your body/brain/ego complex, or the species, depends on which perspective you adopt.Pantagruel

    From the point of view of science, which proceeds from strict principles of empirical observation, the individual human body is an entity united by physical systems. Therefore the unity of the human body, as an entity is empirically verified. There are no such empirically verifiable physical systems which unite the individuals of a species as an empirically verifiable entity. So this perspective which you propose is not scientific. It is a metaphysical perspective. And unlike my metaphysical perspective, it cannot obtain the requirement of science (empirical verification), and therefore it cannot serve as a perspective which could unite science and metaphysics.

    The question is, do you understand how all observation is theory-laden?Pantagruel

    Sure, that's what we're discussing. The words used to describe something observed have meaning and this is theoretical. Therefore all descriptive observation is theory-laden. That's why it is very important to use clear, unambiguous terms as descriptors, in application of the scientific method. Otherwise there can be undisclosed theories lurking behind the poor choice of words, which might be validated through ambiguity. In other words, a dishonest observer might choose ambiguous descriptors with the intent of supporting a theory which the observations really ought not support. Or, an unintentional sloppy choice of ambiguous words might lead someone else toward an unwarranted conclusion due to misinterpretation.

    Every perspective is exactly that, a perspective, with antecedent assumptions. Granted, most of the time, these assumptions are deeply buried and prejudicative. But that is certainly one of the challenges of philosophy. So your assuming that the human body-ego is the exemplary ontological entity is just that, an assumption. And, as I've just explained, you can equally apply ontological primacy to a variety of physical entities, depending on which perspective you take. It really isn't complicated. You are making it so.Pantagruel

    I know your pragmatic relativism already, you don't need to reiterate. You think that there is no such thing as truth in relation to physical existence, which things have real existence is determined by one's perspective. That's called relativism. And so you think theories ought to be judged by pragmaticism. Honesty and dishonesty are irrelevant because there's no truth anyway, all that matters is that I get what I want.
  • Pantagruel
    1.1k
    This is not true. The cells in your body are united and supported in their existence by physical systems like the blood system, the respiratory system, and the nervous system. The cells in your body cannot exist without the support of these physical systems. There are no such physical systems which are required to maintain the existence of the individuals within a species.Metaphysician Undercover

    Dude. Seriously, take some science classes.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    Dude. Seriously, take some science classes.Pantagruel

    I have, that's how I know that in the science of biology "species" refers unambiguously to a system of classification. And from this system of classification we assume a group of individuals, which we call "the species". And this definition is contrary to your very unscientific claim:

    The species, as an organic entity, exists, in exactly the same fashion as the cells in your body.
    ...
    If you adopt the perspective of evolutionary biology, then the species becomes the the operative entity...
    Pantagruel

    You already agreed with me days ago, that mine is the scientific use of the word, but at that time you asserted:
    ...we are not in a science class...Pantagruel
    Yet now you proceed to insist that your usage is based in some sort of science. Clearly it's not.
  • Pantagruel
    1.1k
    Maybe read some evolutionary biology. The notion that what constitutes an entity is relevant to your frame of inquiry seems to elude you. A genetic population can been analyzed as an entity, and exhibits unique characteristic properties, as well as being attached to a specific organic extension. No different from you my friend. A rock is a rock only for a specific duration of time, then it is just a bunch of atoms, which themselves only exist as entities for limited times. If you want to do metaphysics, you need to go "beyond" science, and you can't do that if you don't actually understand what science is showing you.

    I suggest you change your handle from "Metaphysician Undercover" to "Buried in Metaphysics." You seem to forget, Metaphysics is only relevant if it can be made integrated with the comprehensive context of the life-world.
  • Pantagruel
    1.1k
    I'd like to apologize. I got a bit hot under the collar when you implied that pragmatism somehow was a slippery slope to scientism. However I do respect your commitment to a metaphysical purity. But I really do feel that metaphysics must evolve along with the rest of our knowledge. Otherwise, what is the point?

    Here's a pretty good survey of "social ontology" including the ontological status of collectives:

    https://www.degruyter.com/view/journals/jso/5/1/article-p1.xml?language=en#ref_j_jso-2019-2001_fn_003_w2aab3b7c17b1b6b1ab1b2b4b7Aa

    Naturally, there are pro and con positions presented. But what I want to emphasize is that, there can be and indeed is serious discussion around this topic.

    For example, "Social complexes, as entities, have causal powers that the individuals who make them up do not have, either singly or collectively. For example, a university confers degrees."

    Likewise, as I suggested, a species has a cumulative effect on the biotic environment which in turn affects the evolution of other species. Species inter-evolve all the time. Think of symbiosis. I may be wrong, but it sounds to me like you have an antiquated anthropocentric conception of individual identity. I will just emphasize, one last time: what constitutes an identity is directly related to the context of inquiry. So if you are asserting that only entities of type X can constitute an identity, then you are likewise asserting that "inquiry is only valid within certain contexts." Which would be where we disagree.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    The notion that what constitutes an entity is relevant to your frame of inquiry seems to elude you.Pantagruel

    This is why there is such a thing as "ontology", so that we can have sound principles as to what constitutes an entity, and we can recognize when people make up fictitious entities to support unwarranted inquiries. Theoretically we would not fund those inquiries.

    A genetic population can been analyzed as an entity, and exhibits unique characteristic properties, as well as being attached to a specific organic extension. No different from you my friend.Pantagruel

    So you say, but you have not provided me with the ontology and empirical evidence to back up this claim. As I explained there are physical systems which unite the various parts of my body, and are required to sustain those parts. So I have the ontological principle of unity, and the empirical evidence of physical systems uniting all the parts of my body, which support my claim that I am an entity.

    I see no such unity in the human species, because I see no such physical systems which unite the entire species. Let's suppose that possibly language is a type of physical system. The problem still, is that different groups are speaking different languages, so they rely on distinct physical systems. This denies the unity required to say that the species is an entity. And commonly in biology species are divided into varieties. That a physical system such as language, which supports one group in unity, acts to segregate it from other groups, indicates that the unity required to call the entire species an entity, is just not there.

    I'd like to apologize. I got a bit hot under the collar when you implied that pragmatism somehow was a slippery slope to scientism. However I do respect your commitment to a metaphysical purity. But I really do feel that metaphysics must evolve along with the rest of our knowledge. Otherwise, what is the point?Pantagruel

    No problem, I don't intend to insult, so I apologize if I did. Certain words have connotations which really stir the emotions, depending on the individual. Take a word like "racism" for example. Usually, if you call someone racist they will take great offence. This is just a reaction caused by their acknowledgement that it is very bad to be racist. But the emotion is often so strong, because the connotations are so bad, that the person will be insulted and simply go into denial, thinking "no I'm not". Now, the emotion and denial is so strong that the person won't even consider researching what it means to be racist, and analyze one's own character to see if it might be true, and perhaps better oneself. So instead of thinking that the other person might have identified a fault in my attitude, so I should look into this and see if I need to improve myself, the connotations of the word are so bad, that the response is to think that the person's a mean bully, calling me names, and insulting me.

    Here's a pretty good survey of "social ontology" including the ontological status of collectives:Pantagruel

    I read through this article on social ontology, and I disagree with the author's concept of "constitution". Constitution is supposed to be responsible for the unification of an entity, but there is nothing to prevent it from being completely arbitrary. Anyone can make up any sort of fictitious entity simply by naming what constitutes that entity. So, for example I could say that these two books constitutes a "library", and now I have an ontological entity called a library, because I have arbitrarily designated these two books as such.

    I believe that the author does this because the author is dualist, and wants to allow for the real existence of immaterial objects, like Platonic Forms, as entities. But there is a problem with allowing that any imaginary idea has real existence as an entity, because we need rules of logic, such as non-contradiction, to disallow illogical things from being designated as real entities by way of Platonism.

    Furthermore, the author doesn't really explain how "constitution" is supposed to provide unity to the presumed entity. Perhaps we could say that if the concept is coherent, then there is unity, but in the way that it's described in the article, it sounds like all one needs to do is name x as constituting the entity y, and this act of naming is supposed to provide unity.

    In the conclusion the author states this:
    "Since ontology pertains to what there really is, anyone interested in what really there is, social scientist or not, ought to care about ontology."
    But in the argument for social entities, the premise is that anything must be a real entity if we can state what constitutes it. So there are no principles given to us, by which we might distinguish between real entities and fictitious entities. If we give ontological status as an "entity", to anything we can name, then of course social institutions are going to have ontological status. But what's the point in doing this if it requires removing all the principles by which we would distinguish a real entity from a fictitious entity.?

    For example, "Social complexes, as entities, have causal powers that the individuals who make them up do not have, either singly or collectively. For example, a university confers degrees."Pantagruel

    Here's the problem I see with this perspective. Let's say that 1+1 does not equal 2 because something else is produced, so we might say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But if we do not have 2 when we put 1 and 1 together, by what principle do we have a whole? All we have is 1 and 1, along with something else. Now, 1+1+1 equals something other than 3, and we can't even relate this to 2+1, because we have no principle to say what 2 is. So if your argument is that one person working with another person gives us something more than two people, what is it that it gives us? It's not an entity, because the entity would be simply two people. And three people would make another entity and so on. Yet the argument is that these people make something more than just these people.

    Well, we do not need to go to two people, to see the special status which the human mind, with intention, gives to an entity. This special status is just as much within one person as it is within a group of two. It's just the case that the larger the group is, the more the special status stands out. But it's an unsound premise to say that the special status is only the property of a group of individuals, and not the property of one.

    So if you are asserting that only entities of type X can constitute an identity, then you are likewise asserting that "inquiry is only valid within certain contexts." Which would be where we disagree.Pantagruel

    Right, now I think you've got it. Inquiry under many contexts is simply worthless, without value. We call it barking up the wrong tree. This is where we distinguish the right or wrong use of words. Inquiring in a misguided direction is pointless. Stopping a random person on the street to interrogate that person for hours concerning the bank robbery, when that person has absolutely no connection to it, is a worthless inquiry, and therefore an improper use of words.
  • Pantagruel
    1.1k
    s. So if your argument is that one person working with another person gives us something more than tMetaphysician Undercover

    Why would you assume that is not so? All evidence is that collectives of entities can specialize and cooperate in ways that maximize their mutual benefit.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    I don't assume that it is not so. I agree that in this context, 1+1 gives something other than 2. What I disagree with is the conclusion that therefore 1+1 gives us an entity. If 1+1 gave us 2, we'd have grounds to say that this is an entity, as 2 is considered to be a unified entity, as a Platonic Form. But the fact that 1+1 gives us something we cannot account for with 2, only indicates that our application of 1 is faulty.

    I argue therefore, that the reason why 1+1 gives something other than 2 in this context, is because 1 does not properly represent the characteristics of the individual. A human being, with an intellect, and the capacity for intentional actions cannot be adequately represented simply as an entity. The human being, as all living beings, has special powers over its environment, which make it a special sort of entity. When a group of human beings work together, that special power is amplified. We do not know and understand the power itself, well enough to quantify it to say whether the power is simply summed together as 1+1+1..., or whether it's exponential, or something else. Likely its not even quantifiable. However, I believe the evidence is clear, from the historic reference of unique individuals (famous people), that the same special capacity which we observe as the property of a social groups, is also evident in individuals. Therefore it is wrong to say that putting two or more people together into a group magically causes the appearance of a special power, because that same special power is already observable within individuals.
  • Pantagruel
    1.1k
    Therefore it is wrong to say that putting two or more people together into a group magically causes the appearance of a special power,Metaphysician Undercover

    The average individual can reach a piece of fruit seven feet high, let's say. By standing on another person's shoulders, they can reach a piece of fruit twelve feet high. Neither individual has the ability to reach twelve feet high. Ergo that is a unique property of the collective....
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k

    Bad example, because the individual could find something other than another individual to stand on, and reach twelve feet without another person. But even if there are things which two people can do, which one person clearly cannot, that doesn't address the issue of my last post. It doesn't indicate that two people are an entity. It just means that we do not have an accurate understanding of, and therefore not an accurate measurement for the human capacity of doing things, which all individuals have anyway, and is in some way increased when people work together.
  • Daemon
    69
    I am not an expert on species. I do think "species" was not a good option for this discussion. I recently listened to a science podcast on this topic where the difficulties of defining a species were made clear. There isn't anything you can point at and say "if it has this, it's that species".

    I haven't read the whole discussion, but I think you needed a word that was capable of tighter definition.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k
    I haven't read the whole discussion, but I think you needed a word that was capable of tighter definition.Daemon

    To make my point:
    Ambiguity is a feature of universal understanding.Metaphysician Undercover
    Why would I want a word with a tighter definition? However, you might propose another word which would be more capable of refuting my claim.
  • Daemon
    69
    Ok, I must have missed something. Carry on.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.8k

    Well, Pantagruel argued that a lack of ambiguity is required for us individuals to commune, and exist as part of a whole (the species). I argued that such ideas of groups being social entities are inherently ambiguous themselves, and therefore demonstrate a lack of clarity rather a lack of ambiguity.
    By saying "There isn't anything you can point at and say 'if it has this, it's that species'." you seem to be agreeing with me.

    What follows, and the point I was trying to make, is that we cannot represent language as the property of the species, or of any other social grouping, because those supposed things, as entities, don't have any real definable existence. To get a clear understanding of language we need to represent it as individual acts of individual people. Such individual acts are responsible for the creation of these social groups, and the ambiguity of the boundaries between these groups is the manifestation of the ambiguity within these acts.
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