• TheMadFool
    10.8k
    @Jack Cummins @Wayfarer



    The Paradox Of Fiction

    The paradox of fiction, or the paradox of emotional response to fiction, is a philosophical dilemma that questions how people can experience strong emotions to fictional things. The primary question asked is the following: How are people moved by things which do not exist? — Wikipedia



    Faith

    Faith, derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of religion, one can define faith as "belief in a god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of warrant, while others who are more skeptical of religion tend to think of faith as simply belief without evidence. — Wikipedia

    :chin:
  • Wayfarer
    13.1k
    To get a perspective on what the question means in philosophy, I'm convinced you have to start with Parmenides, and then with Plato's dialogue of that name. The famous, fragmentary prose-poem of Parmenides is a meditation on reality in terms of 'what is', and how 'what comes to be' can be related to 'what is'. 'His philosophical stance has typically been understood as at once extremely paradoxical and yet crucial for the broader development of Greek natural philosophy and metaphysics.' I'm not going to launch to an exposition of Parmenides, as I am not in the least qualified to do so, other than to note that it was the subsequent response to his ideas which gave rise to the Western tradition of metaphysics, even though that name was only devised by one of Aristotle's posthumous editors centuries after Parmenides life time. I've recently discovered a contemporary translation of The Parmenides (which is Plato's dialogue concerning Parmenides) by an independent scholar.

    Anyway, in my mind, the point of all this is that this is the origin of the discussion of the knowledge of universals which is the basis of platonic epistemology. In medieval philosophy, the scholastic realists (of which Aquinas was one) maintained the reality of universals, whilst the nominalists (Ockham, Bacon, et al) disputed them. And it's been argued that with the rejection of universals, metaphysics proper was also abandoned. There's a couple of key books on this, one current title being Theological Origins of Modernity, Michael Allen Gillespie.

    I think the key point is that universals (which include intelligible objects such as the real numbers) are real but can only be grasped by reason (nous, in the Greek tradition). So, 'real but incorporeal' - which of course is a no-go for materialism. That contention is the subject of platonism in mathematics:

    Mathematical platonism has considerable philosophical significance. If the view is true, it will put great pressure on the physicalist idea that reality is exhausted by the physical. For platonism entails that reality extends far beyond the physical world and includes objects which aren’t part of the causal and spatiotemporal order studied by the physical sciences. Mathematical platonism, if true, will also put great pressure on many naturalistic theories of knowledge. For there is little doubt that we possess mathematical knowledge. The truth of mathematical platonism would therefore establish that we have knowledge of abstract (and thus causally inefficacious) objects. This would be an important discovery, which many naturalistic theories of knowledge would struggle to accommodate.SEP

    This is what leads to the arguments about, well, if you say numbers and ideas are real, then how about Bugs Bunny, or Sherlock Holmes? That is one of those digressions that results in failing to see the point. There are many. The other difficulty is, as I keep saying, platonist (and neoplatonist) metaphysics became absorbed into theology and then spat out with it. As far as most people are concerned it's all ancient history, rather than forgotten wisdom.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    So, 'real but incorporeal' - which of course is a no-go for materialism.Wayfarer
    This suggests that 'materialists' reject (ignore) e.g. mathematics, logic, music and poetry. Is this what you believe?
  • Wayfarer
    13.1k
    I believe that mathematical Platonism is less prevalent in academia than other philosophies such as fictionalism. And from what I’m saying, nominalism/naturalism/materialism doesn’t reject mathematics, but it does reject the notion that numbers are in any sense real, other than as artifacts of thought. So it accepts their effectiveness, but ‘subjectivizes’ them.

    This is why Quine and Putnam found it necessary to formulate the ’indispensability argument for mathematics’. That article starts by saying:

    In his seminal 1973 paper, “Mathematical Truth,” Paul Benacerraf presented a problem facing all accounts of mathematical truth and knowledge. Standard readings of mathematical claims entail the existence of mathematical objects. But, our best epistemic theories seem to debar any knowledge of mathematical objects.

    What do you think ‘our best epistemic theories’ refer to, and why would they seem to debar any knowledge of mathematical objects? That is explained in that article, but it seems fairly clear to me.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    I disagree with them. And I disagree with your earlier implication that materialism is incompatible with – rejects – formalisms (i.e. objective abstractions e.g. set theory, information, universal computation, fractal geometry, etc).
  • I like sushi
    2.5k
    @Jack Cummins Message me about your general thoughts/approach on this subject. I think it might be worth have a direct discussion on this (as in just between the two of us).
  • Wayfarer
    13.1k
    What I said was that materialism must reject anything that is ‘real but incorporeal’, which it must do, by definition. So if number is real, but not material, then materialism must reject a realist view of number. (Which was the subject of my first forum post, January 2010, to which you were the first respondent. :-) )
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    I'm not going to launch to an exposition of Parmenides, as I am not in the least qualified to do so, other than to note that it was the subsequent response to his ideas which gave rise to the Western tradition of metaphysicsWayfarer

    I vaguely recall this as being a fact, I think it's mentioned here :point: Parmenides

    This is what leads to the arguments about, well, if you say numbers and ideas are real, then how about Bugs Bunny, or Sherlock Holmes?Wayfarer

    Thanks for the short but informative introduction on realism vs nominalism. I did my own reading, cursory though it may be. Anyway, to get to the point. While Platonic Realism blurs the lines between Allan Pinkerton (real life detective) and Sherlock Holmes (fictional detective), it can't be denied that though some version of realism would have us believe both exist, there is a difference between the two e.g. I could've talked to, touched, smelled, tasted (yuck!) Allan Pinkerton but I definitely can't do those things with Sherlock Holmes. As far as I can tell, to the best of my knolwedge, the nub of the issue lies in a particular distinction we've been habituated with over perhaps at least the past 6 - 7 thousand years, continuing on to the present. What's this distinction I'm talking about? Well, the existence-nonexistence one. So long as we frame metaphysics in terms of existence and nonexistence, metaphysics will, to my reckoning, remain forever mired in controversy and not an inch of progress will be possible.

    What do I recommend?

    Break free from the existence-nonexistence trap which has claimed so many victims beginning with the great Plato himself and instead look to a more nuanced view of existence itself. So, for instance, instead of saying "god is nonexistent" we could offer what I feel is a more useful alternative like, "god exists but not in the same way as a stone does." I'm sure some philosophers must've already hit upon this idea. Such a tactic would allow a universalist to respond to a nominalist by saying that universals exist in such a way that to talk about them in terms of existence as applies to other things that are claimed to exist would amount to a category error.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    Sorry I'd long forgotten such an auspicious meeting. 11 (mostly) quarrelsome years, not really newlyweds anymore, are we? :point:

    Well, another tiff then: I'm a (methodological materialist with classical atomist affinities) and it's never once occurred to me in over three decades to "reject a realist view of numbers" especially after reading Meinong's work on 'subsistent objects'. Unless by "real" you mean some "supersensible, transcendent, otherworldly" shibboleth haunting Plato's Bat Cave? Aristotle's hylomorphism showed way back when such an unparsimonious speculation was quite unneeded and even incoherent. And let's not forget I'm also a Spinozist so all formalisms for me are completely immanent. (vide PoI, Deleuze) Like every possible move & endgame in chess that are inherently real as relations in the logical space of its ruleset, so to are all other 'objective abstractions'. (vide TLP, Witty ... vide ANKoS, Stephen Wolfram ... vide AF, Quentin Meillassoux). :eyes: :smirk:
  • Wayfarer
    13.1k
    But then, how to account for the Putnam-Quine article? It is replete with gems, such as:

    Mathematical objects are not the kinds of things that we can see or touch, or smell, taste or hear. If we can not learn about mathematical objects by using our senses, a serious worry arises about how we can justify our mathematical beliefs.

    ....

    Sets are abstract objects, lacking any spatio-temporal location. Their existence is not contingent on our existence. They lack causal efficacy. Our question, then, given that we lack sense experience of sets, is how we can justify our beliefs about sets and set theory.

    And then the clincher:

    Some philosophers, called rationalists, claim that we have a special, non-sensory capacity for understanding mathematical truths, a rational insight arising from pure thought. But, the rationalist’s claims appear incompatible with an understanding of human beings as physical creatures whose capacities for learning are exhausted by our physical bodies.

    That 'special, non-sensory capacity' is reason, I say.

    So here, the claim is that if you accept we are physical creatures whose capacities for learning are exhausted by our physical bodies - i.e. what we can sense - then how can mathematical claims be true?

    I'm not making this up. This paper, by Benecareff, who is apparently a pretty heavy hitter, and the response to it by philosophers, was not composed by me. The Benecareff paper says that mathematical knowledge is incompatible with physicalism. And I think the reason it says that, is for the reason that I claim - namely, that mathematical objects are real but not material.

    instead of saying "god is nonexistent" we could offer what I feel is a more useful alternative like, "god exists but not in the same way as a stone does." I'm sure some philosophers must've already hit upon this idea. Such a tactic would allow a universalist to respond to a nominalist by saying that universals exist in such a way that to talk about them in terms of existence as applies to other things that are claimed to exist would amount to a category error.TheMadFool

    As soon as you introduce ' exists in the same way', then you're talking modal metaphysics - that things exist 'in different ways'. Which is precisely what can't be admitted by nominalism, in my view - they insist that only concrete particular exist, and that everything we say or think comprises 'mere name', or habits of thought. Things either exist, or they don't. But if you accept that universals are real - then the question becomes, in what sense are they real? And it's a very tough question, the medievals fought themselves to a standstill over it.

    But now, it has been re-introduced by physics. Says Heisenberg: 'this difficulty relates to the question whether the smallest units [i.e. subatomic particles] are ordinary physical objects, whether they exist in the same way as stones or flowers'. Which is precisely why physics inadvertently opened the metaphysical can-of-worms that nominalism thought it had welded shut.

    There are a whole host of very large metaphysical questions which will no doubt spark further debate, but I have to log out for a while.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I have read your post and the discussion about it.
    In some ways, I agree with what you and Austin are saying with the point about the table. A couple of weeks ago, I read, 'Language, Truth and Logic' by A J Ayer and he speaks of how it is possible to get into tautologies in trying to develop metaphysical aspects of philosophy. He points to the way in which metaphysics is really just speculation.

    My own thinking is that I think that it is extremely difficult to come up with any definitive answers about metaphysics, because it is hard to come up with any specific evidence. However, I think that most people, do question how reality works at some point. I think that it may be more about how it works rather than anything else. The natural and social scientists come up with many explanations and theories, but I think that for many people there is still something missing, an unknown element. I am sure that more advances will be made, but I am not sure that it will really capture the invisible aspects of life fully.
  • Amity
    1.8k
    It also seems to me that spiritual pursuits so often are a form of abstracted status seeking - all that talk of 'higher level' things - accessible only to special states or special people. It's like crass materialism has been sublimated into a type of crass higher consciousness virtue signalling.Tom Storm

    Quite often this is the case.
    I have a friend who has taken courses in 'Spiritualism' and considers herself a medium.
    Defined as: a system of belief or religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead, especially through mediums.
    This compares with the philosophical definition: the doctrine that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality.

    When I asked her about how the training evaluates her as a spiritual communicator, gives accreditation for mediumship, she was evasive.
    When I asked which people the students practised on and were assessed by, I was astounded when she said the students themselves !
    Trying hard not to be overly critical, my sceptism was nevertheless easily divined.
    In response, she proclaimed, '' It's not for everyone''.
    True.
    However, it made me think of what I called 'spiritual one-upmanship' - exclusive, only available to special people. Previously, she was a devout Catholic...in transitioning she argued with her husband that the 2 systems were compatible. Perhaps so...I wouldn't know...

    Anyway, before posting this, I thought I'd better look up 'spiritual one-upmanship'.
    Well, wouldn't you know - it can be a good thing.
    'The Loving Art of Spiritual One-Upmanship':
    He [ Jesus ] is teaching us the ultimate method of self-protection. Jesus is showing us how to get out of “even exchange” consciousness. He recommends spiritual one-upmanship—going to a spiritually more expansive understanding. Jesus advocates asserting our self-respect and dignity. When we “turn the other cheek,” we are realizing that we, not the other person, have the power. We are the one who has the choice. We are not subjugated. When we “turn the other cheek” in consciousness we discover that wise practical actions come to mind.Unity Church, Austin

    More critical of spiritual one-upmanship:
    5 Ego Traps That Make Spiritual People Fall into Narrow-Mindedness
    5 ways the ego can turn our intention to be spiritual people into something less wholesome.
    Learning mind - ego traps

    Sure, reality may consist of waves with discrete blobs of energy floating upon it... But at an important level this is insignificant to a life lived.Tom Storm

    Yes, for most this life lived is the reality.
    It is navigating this while looking for a supportive belief system that can cause identity and relationship problems, over and above ordinary day-today-living.

    Exploration in philosophy forums of what is 'spirituality' can leave some stone cold, others get all heated up. It seems if you hold a certain philosophical position you are not allowed a sense of spirituality.
    If you are an atheist, then look out brother...

    I find it ridiculous...this ongoing spat...which divides rather than accept people's reality is a combination of both matter and mind or spirit. But it is this spirit which keeps philosophy forums alive, or so it seems.
    Good for exploration - not so good when attitudes become hostile and personally aggressive.

    In another life, I discussed 'secular spirituality' - it acknowledges that it is not an either/or reality.
    Haven't looked at the issue for so long - but found this:

    Eight central attributes of secular spirituality can be identified: eclecticism, self-growth, relevance to life, self-direction, openness to wonder, authenticity beyond churches, metaphysical explanations, and communal and ecological morality. The persistence of both traditional and nontraditional forms of religiosity and spirituality should adjust the current popular views of secularism.Robert C. Fuller

    'Robert Fuller is Professor of Religious Studies at Bradley University in Illinois. He has authored more than a dozen books on psychology and religion, religious history, and religion in the United States, including Religious Revolutionaries: The Rebels Who Reshaped American Religion and Spiritual, But Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America.'

    After your reply, I am tempted to put the thread back in the main discussion chamber. I partly moved it because I am creating too many. It can be a bit addictive, but I do enjoy inventing them as I don't have many creative outlets at the moment.Jack Cummins

    Now, that's just one part of a reality.
    Addiction... to TPF...and philosophy.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    I told you I disagree with Putnam, Quine & co. I cited previously with whom I do agree. No need for me to account for any other positions that I don't share. Maybe I'm wrong. I've had much respect for those gentlemen for decades; however, other philosophers reasoning on the same topics have influenced me more (mentioned previously too). Unless I'm shown to have adopted false or incoherent positions, I'm not in the least concerned with other positions I don't currently hold, except if I stumble onto a good reason to be. Yours / theirs is certainly not one. Reread my previous posts for a clear hint as to why.

    So desperate for "answers", many here keep asking 'the wrong questions' over and over again. The difference between (a) philosophy and (b) religion (or mysticism) is, as I see it, the difference between (A) reasoning towards better, more probitive, questions while daily fine-graining trivial / begged / pseudo questions from living (i.e. agency) and (B) seeking unquestionable answers for living (i.e. certainties, guarantees)
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    But if you accept that universals are real - then the question becomes, in what sense are they real?Wayfarer

    If I were to hazard an opinion, I'd say that though it's hard for me to say in what precise sense universals exist do remember, take note of, the fact that insofar as the mind matters :smile: there's no difference between a stone and redness/treeness, both being mental representations that though different in content, possess the same ethereal quality of all mental goings-on. Since no distinction can be discerned between thinking about a stone and thinking about universals like redness/treeness/cupness, it isn't too much of a stretch to say that if a stone is believed to exist, universals too can be said to exist. In my humble opinion, this aspect of mind - numbers, stones, Allan Pinkerton, Sherlock Holmes, treeness, tree can't be told apart in terms of qualities of thoughts/thinking - is the very reason why this issue is alive even today; a stone can be felt but also thought while redness can't be felt but thought - an overlap at the level of thought/thinking becomes the source of endless controversy.

    Another point worth noting here is there seems no good reason as to why physical sense data should take precedence over all else (purely mental stuff). Yes, a well-aimed, large enough stone can end my life but so what? I'm also stoked when I read Sherlock Holmes. :chin:
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    In another life, I discussed 'secular spirituality' - it acknowledges that it is not an either/or reality.Amity

    Indeed. Theism or belief in a spiritual reality does not bring with it ipso facto superior virtues or capacities. Among the people I've known who seem to live life most deeply, with a sense of the numinous and a strong connection to nature and other people, have tended to be atheists. The more banal and materialistically inclined have generally been theists. It's almost as if for some people, making a decision to 'side with God', means not needing to think or connect meaningfully again.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    Yes, a well-aimed, large enough stone can end my life but so what? I'm also stoked when I read Sherlock Holmes. :chin:TheMadFool

    Hmm. Not really a 'so what' though, is it? When was the last time a Sherlock Holmes tale ended a person's life. :joke:
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I will tell you my thoughts on fiction and on faith. Fiction is about story and our life events consist of stories. Even though fiction consists of fantasised stories I believe that they often resonate with the ones in our lives, even if the fictional ones are often more dramatic. They probably need to be written more with more drama than we could possibly deal with at most times, not just to make them worth reading, but also to make points strongly enough. Also, fiction involves the emotional aspects of reality and moves us in that way.

    I also think that a lot of people who write fiction do include some aspects of their real lives, but probably have disguise them carefully. For instance, if an author is writing about a relationship they had experienced, it needs to be done in such a way that the character does not resemble the other person if the writing becomes published or it might become rather awkward.

    As far as faith goes, I think that it has to be able to withstand the test of rationality. That is probably the main problem with telling people that they should not question, because for many people that is rather difficult, or not particularly helpful psychologically. I am sure that I was told many times by people that I should not doubt or question. In some ways, that made me think that the things I was being told to believe in were a bit dodgy in terms of credibility, because otherwise they would not be in danger of crumbling if subject to scrutiny through reason and analysis.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    As far as faith goes, I think that it has to be able to withstand the test of rationality.Jack Cummins

    Unless you have an idiosyncratic definition of faith, I think that faith by definition can't be justified except as a first person experience. In Christian terms faith is most often understood as Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

    When someone reaches for faith to explain why they believe in God it is likely because they don't a good reason. It is the 'special feeling' that X is real and, unfortunately, is equally felt by followers of many religions/sects which cancel each other out.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    Austin criticised Ayer's notion of sense-data, resulting in a long and productive exchange. So it gets complicated.

    You wanted, originally, to compare and contrast being real with being solid. How do you think that stands now, after the comments here?
  • Fooloso4
    2.4k
    In another life, I discussed 'secular spirituality'Amity

    I recall in another forum you talking about Robert Solomon, maybe his "Spirituality for the Skeptic".
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    Hmm. Not really a 'so what' though, is it? When was the last time a Sherlock Holmes tale ended a person's lifeTom Storm

    Not Sherlock Holmes but take a look at this: HORROR DEATH Brit pensioner, 77, found dead in cinema seat after watching horror movie

    I seriously advise against the elderly, especially those with heart conditions, watching horror movies - they're getting better at scaring the living daylights out of viewers even though it's all make-believe.

    The mind makes it real — Morpheus (The Matrix)
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    I nearly died watching a Marvel superhero film once. The soft-core, quasi-fascist iconography and we-solve-all-problems-with-a-big-fight were too much for me.
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    I nearly died watching a Marvel superhero film once. The soft-core, quasi-fascist iconography and we-solve-all-problems-with-a-big-fight were too much for meTom Storm

    It was different for me. I felt a huge sense of relief rush through me when reinforcements arrived at the tail-end of the movie and Thanos, although I have a soft corner for him, was snapped out of existence by Tony Stark. I think I'm talking about Avengers, EndGame. It felt, despite knowing all of what I was seeing was CGI (no, not corrugated galvanized iron), so R-E-A-L.

    Some tearjerkers, true to their name, made me cry like a baby. Maybe it's just me but you never know.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    You're a romantic...
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    You're a romantic...Tom Storm

    at the end of his tether :lol:
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I don't think that reality is completely solid, not even tables, although they are probably more solid than other aspects of it. I really started to think it was not so solid about 3 years ago when I was reading about the quantum world.

    However, I do believe that the idea that it is not solid is one which is not really shared by the majority of people. I have worked in psychiatric nursing and I am just wondering what reaction I would have got by the staff I was working with if I had said that to staff I was working with. I am inclined to think that many would have thought that I was going a bit crazy. But, I think that it mainstream logic, not even philosophy which clings to a picture of reality as being so solid.

    I am not sure that the comments in the thread have changed my ideas that much. But, I am not saying that the physicists should have the final word, because there is ' bad physics'. But, I think I probably never thought that reality was that solid going back to when I first read Walt Whitman and William Blake.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I think I do agree with your perspective of faith, in its true meaning. What we are told to adhere to as faith by others is false faith really, whether it is the dogmatic one of people coming from a religious, humanist or any kind of one which is prescribed by others. We have to find what makes sense for us individually rather than just take other people's word for it, uncritically.
  • Amity
    1.8k
    I recall in another forum you talking about Robert Solomon, maybe his "Spirituality for the Skeptic".Fooloso4

    Yes. I don't recall the book but I do remember the fun, fire and brimstone at PN.
    You had to be there...how to become a target...whisper 'secular spirituality'.
    Those were the days, my friend...never to be repeated.
    Well not by me, not here. No way, no how :sparkle:
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