• Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    So your argument against Nihilism is purely a pragmatic one.khaled

    I thought I had explicitly said that, but apparently not. I explicitly meant it in any case. I should probably add a small bit explicitly saying it.

    You can't logically respond to the people that choose to "give up".khaled

    No, but I can point out that that's all they're doing. If they don't want to try to figure out what it real or moral, that's their choice, but them choosing that action doesn't mean that it is not possible to figure out what is real or moral, just that they're not trying to do so.

    That's where the "for no reason" part comes in. They haven't shown that everyone should give up, that there is no hope, that trying is pointless. They have just elected not to try themselves. Which is their choice, but they haven't provided a reason why others need to choose likewise.

    The very next essay (in the new order, or two essays prior in the old order), Against Fideism, is all about needing a reason to make an assertion to others; and the essay after that (in the new order, or the very next essay in the old order), Against Cynicism, is all about not needing a reason just to choose something for yourself. So nihilists are free to give up if they want, but if they want to tell anyone else that giving up is the thing to do, they'll need a reason, and their very nihilism deprives them of any reasons.

    But how is that different from the initial position you disagreed with of saying that the closest we can get to objective morality or reality is whatever the group agrees with?khaled

    Relativists say that whatever a majority of some thinks (their beliefs or intentions) is correct, relative to that group, and those who think differently are incorrect, relative to that group.

    Subjective idealists say that whatever a majority of some group feels (their perceptions or desires) is correct, relative to that group, and those who feel differently are incorrect, relative to that group.

    I say that whatever everybody unanimously experiences (their senses or appetites) is correct, and if there isn't unanimity of experiences, people need to replicate others' experiences for themselves, and if they run into difficulty doing so, then there is some qualification that needs to be added to their model of what is objectively correct to account for those differences between the people doing the experiencing.

    Thoughts and feelings are interpretations. Experiences are not. The three blind men touching the elephant each feels like (perceives that) they're touching a different thing, and none of them are correct, but the objective truth of what they are actually touching still accounts for the senses they all experience. The hard part is coming up with a model that does account for all their different experiences.

    I pretty much said this in the essay already:

    But rather than the perceptions and desires that underlie those views, which can contradict from person to person because they are constructed in the different minds of different people, I propose instead attending to the more fundamental underlying experiences that give rise to those perceptions and desires, free from the interpretation of the mind undergoing them.

    Etc. It sounds like you already read that part, but didn't get it.
  • khaled
    1.4k
    I thought I had explicitly said that, but apparently not. I explicitly meant it in any case. I should probably add a small bit explicitly saying it.Pfhorrest

    You implied it heavily but I just said it to stay on the same page.

    Relativists say that whatever a majority of some thinks (their beliefs or intentions) is correct, relative to that group, and those who think differently are incorrect, relative to that group.

    Subjective idealists say that whatever a majority of some group feels (their perceptions or desires) is correct, relative to that group, and those who feel differently are incorrect, relative to that group.
    Pfhorrest

    Yes BUT the point is neither of those views opposes this:

    coming up with a model that does account for all their different experiences.Pfhorrest

    Your view is that we should try to reconcile all the different experiences. I'm saying idealism and relativism don't oppose that at all. That's what I meant by "Whether or not you say there is an objective reality/morality you end up practically doing the same thing" and that is trying to reconcile conflicting views.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    The "those who [think/feel] differently are incorrect, relative to that group" part, the the treatment of different groups as each correct relative to themselves and not in need of reconciliation to some universal standard, are the defining features of relativism and subjectivism. Someone who tries to get everyone who disagrees to come together and figure out something that everyone should agree to is not a relativist at all. That's exactly what objectivism is.
  • Pussycat
    358
    Thoughts and feelings are interpretations. Experiences are not. The three blind men touching the elephant each feels like (perceives that) they're touching a different thing, and none of them are correct, but the objective truth of what they are actually touching still accounts for the senses they all experience. The hard part is coming up with a model that does account for all their different experiences.Pfhorrest

    I may be wrong, but isn't this a phenomenological approach?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    Generally speaking, as far as I understand it, yes. I haven't actually read much of the actual phenomenologists myself. But I do call one of my core principles "phenomenalism", although that principle is the negation of "transcendentalism", not nihilism.

    I kind of think I should eliminate this early mention of phenomenalism from this particular essay Against NIhilism, because at this point I'm only trying to establish that we should run with the assumption that there is something objectively correct and then try to find it, rather than just giving up. But I anticipate that nihilists and relativists (especially of the moral variety) will read this and just scream "but how could we possibly find that!? what could that even possibly be like?", so I have to give some kind of what is to come later. But maybe I shouldn't, and just let them ask that and keep reading to find out?

    What do you (all) think?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    I just made some small changes to the last few paragraphs to draw focus away from experiential-vs-non-experiential stuff, but instead uninterpreted-vs-interpreted stuff, and consequently on objectivity-vs-bias, and references "elsewhere in these essays" for more discussion on phenomenalism.
  • Pussycat
    358
    So you are trying to make a science out of it?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    Make a science out of what?

    I see the role of philosophy as grounding sciences, both the usual stack of physical sciences, and also an analogous stack of ethical sciences I propose in my later Note on Ethics (and illustratively allude to at the end of my essay on Metaphilosophy), if that answers your question.
  • Pussycat
    358
    Have a look at the link below, what prof Massimo Pigliucci wrote in his one and only appearance in TPF:

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/358750

    What I find problematic, however, is some people in the humanities who claim that subjectivity is not just a limitation of science (it is), but also the way forward to some sort of alternative that goes "beyond" science. I think Husserlian phenomenology falls close to this position. The problem is that the whole approach seems to me to be predicated on not taking seriously one's own objections: if subjectivity and first-person experience cannot be treated by science then the answer isn't to create another "science" (or uber-science) that can handle it, but rather to accept that we as human beings are bounded to use a combination of third and first person approaches in order to arrive at understanding. — Massimo

    So this is what I am asking, whether this "coming up with a model" you said, would be a scientific model with scientific methodology, or as Massimo wrote, ... a combination to arrive at an understanding.

    but the objective truth of what they are actually touching still accounts for the senses they all experiencePfhorrest

    It seems to me that you would go for the first option, since you say that objective truth is involved, and science is or at least tries to be objective and describe objective truth.

    Make a science out of what?Pfhorrest

    So make a science out of the different subjective experiences and interpretations of people, not some philosophy or psychology I mean, but rather hard-boiled and concrete science, using the scientific method, just like for example physicists do.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    (Sorry this is less than lucid, I'm up way too late).

    When it comes to the descriptive side of things, what I am going for is exactly the ordinary scientific method. The models I'm talking about, in that context, are the hypotheses or theories of the physical sciences.

    When it comes to the prescriptive side of things, I am constructing an analogous method that addresses the question of what ought to be in the same way that the ordinary scientific method addresses the question of what is.

    I'm not very familiar with Husserl et al, but from Massimo's quote it sounds like he at least is characterizing them as trying to do something... that honestly I can't even wrap my head around right now, but the analogy that comes to mind is like trying to look at your own eyeball. I'm not trying to do that. I'm just saying "use your eyes". All of science, all of everything, is done by the scientists from a first-person perspective; the things they're studying, they're studying in the third person relative to those things, but within their own first-person view of the world. I can't rightly comprehend right now what Husserl et al might be doing, or what Massimo et al think they're doing, that's different from that. You can't study something else from its first-person perspective; that's nonsense.
  • khaled
    1.4k
    not in need of reconciliation to some universal standard, are the defining features of relativism and subjectivismPfhorrest

    But they ARE not in need. You yourself said, "Or we can BASELESSLY assume that there is morality, etc." I think you took a pragmatic approach against nihilism but then treated that as a logical argument against it. Nowhere in what you said is it implied that there is a "need" of reconciliation to some universal standard. You yourself called it a "proposal" which doesn't sound very objective to me. And even if that need isn't established as objective, in practice, people will tend towards this reconciliation naturally.
    Someone who tries to get everyone who disagrees to come together and figure out something that everyone should agree to is not a relativist at all. That's exactly what objectivism is.Pfhorrest

    Really? I don't think of that when I think of objectivism at all. The definition I found online (that I agree with) is Objectivism: the belief that certain things, especially moral truths, exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them. What you're describing requires people to agree on something. And whatever they agree upon is deemed "objective". Objectivism doesn't do that at all. To me what you're describing sounds like relativism but the "group" in question is everyone. "If everyone believes it, it is true" is the essence of relativism. What you're proposing is just a very wide scale relativism.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    And even if that need isn't established as objective, in practice, people will tend towards this reconciliation naturally.khaled

    I said “treatment as not in need of reconciliation”. If people are trying to reconcile, then they evidently think that each party having their own opinion is not in itself sufficient grounds for them each to hold those different opinions, but that they should figure out between them what opinion they should both agree on, i.e. which one is right. If they think that there is no such thing as right, then the other party disagreeing isn’t a problem, because it’s not like they’re wrong or something, they’re just different.

    The former case is acting like there is sone objective, unbiased truth they’re trying to find together, for without some unbiased criteria to go on there’s no way to reconcile those differences of opinion, nothing in common to appeal to. The later case is acting like there’s not, and that is what relativism is.

    Objectivism: the belief that certain things, especially moral truths, exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them.khaled
    Yes. Knowledge is a kind of belief. I am saying that beliefs and perceptions (and their moral analogues) are to be discarded, because they are mind-dependent and therefore inherently biased, and so cannot serve as criteria for coming to agreement on what is objectively correct. I say instead that we should attend directly to the uninterpreted experiences that we have in common.

    Just look at what science does and doesn’t do. When it comes to tackling questions about reality, pursuing knowledge, we do not take some census or survey of people's beliefs or perceptions, and either try to figure out how all those could all be held at once without conflict, or else (because that likely will not be possible) just declare that whatever the majority, or some privileged authority, believes or perceives is true. Instead, we appeal to everyone's direct sensations or observations, free from any interpretation into perceptions or beliefs yet, and compare and contrast the empirical experiences of different people in different circumstances to come to a common ground on what experiences there are that need satisfying in order for a belief to be true. Then we devise models, or theories, that purport to satisfy all those experiences, and test them against further experiences, rejecting those that fail to satisfy any of them, and selecting the simplest, most efficient of those that remain as what we tentatively hold to be true. This entire process is carried out in an organized, collaborative, but intrinsically non-authoritarian academic structure.

    Likewise when it comes to tackling questions about morality, pursuing justice, I say we should not take some census or survey of people's intentions or desires, and either try to figure out how all those could all be held at once without conflict, or else (because that likely will not be possible) just declare that whatever the majority, or some privileged authority, intends or desires is good. Instead, we should appeal to everyone's direct appetites, free from any interpretation into desires or intentions yet, and compare and contrast the hedonic experiences of different people in different circumstances to come to a common ground on what experiences there are that need satisfying in order for an intention to be good. Then we should devise models, or strategies, that purport to satisfy all those experiences, and test them against further experiences, rejecting those that fail to satisfy any of them, and selecting the simplest, most efficient of those that remain as what we tentatively hold to be good. This entire process should be carried out in an organized, collaborative, but intrinsically non-authoritarian political structure.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    Based partly on feedback in this (and other) threads, I have completely restructured the essay Against Nihilism, now putting the reasons for rejecting it at the forefront instead of the end, and addressing solipsism and egotism first after that, and then relativisms as an abstraction of those, (subjective) idealisms as a variation on that, and my closing comments on how I come close to agreeing with those idealisms at the end.

    I'd appreciate it if anyone would give it a re-read and let me know if this is an improvement.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    That there are, nevertheless, absolute moral truths ("true" answers about, at least the foundational, moral questions), and though there may not be an objective procedure any two clear headed people could use to come to an agreement about there that there is nevertheless either other ways to the truths or truths nonetheless even if we can't get to them, is usually simply called "moral absolutistism" which is opposed to "moral relativism". Moral absolutists will accuse moral relativists of believing that moral relativism itself is a claim purporting to be absolutely true and thus a moral absolutist disposition, just in denial about it (a debate which goes back to Hellenistic skepticism as previously mentioned, though only on principle and without a cultural relativistic element of modern relativists).

    Moral relativism should not be confused with pluralism, which is simply the observation by moral absolutists that it is not incompatible with a common sense approach to culture (that cultural diversity is not intrinsically bad nor is it intrinsically incoherent for moral absolutists to respect different cultures insofar as they represent an attempt to get closer to the absolute truths that do exist).
    boethius

    Indirectly tangential from the conversation that ensued from this, I've added a bit to this essay Against NIhilism clarifying relativism vs objectivism from situationism vs absolutism:

    Both of these second types of relativism that I am against, for their being tantamount to metaphysical and moral nihilism respectively, hold that the closest thing possible to an opinion being objectively correct is its being the consensus opinion of some group collectively. According to such a view, agreeing with whatever beliefs about the world the group collectively holds is as close to correct as one can be about reality; and agreeing with whatever intentions about people's behavior the group collectively holds is as close to correct as one can be about morality. This group-relative sense of "correct" is where the term "relativism" comes from. But just making judgements that vary by circumstances or context is not relativism, and I am definitely not against that. That view is sometimes called "situationism" in the context of judgements about morality, and usually just taken for granted in the context of judgements about reality. The opposite of that view is the proper referent of the term "absolutism", even though that term is frequently misused to mean the opposite of relativism, which is better termed "objectivism". Absolutism holds that some judgements are correct not only regardless of anybody's opinions, but regardless of the details of the context or circumstances, and I am definitely not arguing for that here, only against relativism.The Codex Quarentis: Against Nihilism
  • ChatteringMonkey
    655
    I said “treatment as not in need of reconciliation”. If people are trying to reconcile, then they evidently think that each party having their own opinion is not in itself sufficient grounds for them each to hold those different opinions, but that they should figure out between them what opinion they should both agree on, i.e. which one is right. If they think that there is no such thing as right, then the other party disagreeing isn’t a problem, because it’s not like they’re wrong or something, they’re just different.Pfhorrest

    I know you are not really interested in discussing the content of the arguments here, but it seems like it is worth mentioning anyway....

    There are other reasons why on might think disagreeing is a problem than just the fact they are objectively wrong.

    This is not a moral rule per se, but there's no objective argument to be made that one should drive on the left side or the right side of the road for instance… yet it seem imperative that we should come to an agreement on that for obvious reasons.

    Likewise, regarding morality, because in the end it's about groups of people living together in a more or less harmonious way, there are good reasons that agreement is preferable even if there is no objective right or wrong to the matter.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    There are certainly cases where neither of some alternatives are morally obligatory, but agreement on them is still valuable; the road-side case is one of them. But in those cases, there is still a prior agreement that agreement is good, which requires some agreement on "good" in the first place. We need to agree on what side of the road to drive on because if we don't then there will be car accidents and people will die (etc). Someone who drives on the wrong side of the road isn't doing something wrong because of the side of the road they drove on, but because they caused a wreck and got someone killed (etc). Similarly, with valuing people living together in a more or less harmonious way: that presumes that we all agree that whatever kind of disharmony we're aiming to avoid is bad. There are lots of things where there are multiple equally acceptable ways to realize a goal, but the end goals are still held in common.
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