• Why do we assume the world is mathematical?
How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?
• A fun puzzle for the forums: The probability of God
An understandable way of looking at things. But if I decided to, and classified it as in the argument, does it work?

Yeah, everything just is. It allows for maximum focus upon oneself (the most significant point of anything that is).
• A fun puzzle for the forums: The probability of God

I don't know any of that. For me, whether there is one 'first cause'/'being' (God or other) or many of such wherefrom the universe(s) - (if such a limit actually exists) - has its origin, is of little consequence. The aspects of unity and equilibrium which we observe, are just that. Sure, we can tag all of that with names (God, Life, Energy, Vibration, Universe, Spirit, Consciousness, Nature, Laws of Nature, etc) but they don't become anything more than what they already are (even to us).

Can anything compare with the idea of infinite probability? It's like the ultimate cheat code.
• A fun puzzle for the forums: The probability of God

It's just another endless loop, isn't it. Sure, it assumes one unique first cause. However, what does it say about the arising of other unique causes. The logical question that has never been answered isn't the probability of God/first cause or the assumption of such (because if we exist, then an origin is entirely feasible), but the why (purpose) and how (methodology) of it. This is because neither purpose nor method is unique (at least from the perspective of limitless probabilities/possibilities/assumptions).

Logic is about defining the purpose and process alongside the aforementioned what (fact/truth/reality/existence). That's when we deem it to be concrete knowledge/understanding of something. Otherwise, any number of assumptions/probabilities/possibilities become the most likely conclusion, each according to its own narrative. Soon enough, that narrative becomes insufficient (and seeks support - string theory, creation in six days, etc), or worse, boring.

The logic of a first cause entails that there is no rule on how that first cause has to exist.

This statement is the query and its own answer. Logic, reason, common sense, knowledge, understanding, explanations, beliefs, etc, etc, are based on rules (configurations of limits/boundaries).
• A fun puzzle for the forums: The probability of God
If effects arise from causes, what is the cause of the first cause?

Does the ultimate/fundamental origin also have an origin?

I think the problem isn't philosophy but congruence in language.
• Is inaction morally wrong?
Is there any way you could prove that inaction (do nothing and "allow" the five people to die) is morally wrong in this situation?

If the intent behind the inaction is to enjoy the carnage, then it is wrong.
• Was Judas a hero and most trusted disciple, or a traitor?
Was Judas a good man doing Jesusâ€™ will or was he a traitor?

Perhaps, in a weird way, by helping advance the plot of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection narrative, he did right by God. From the human point of view, he seemed to fail himself - didn't he suffer a mental breakdown and commit suicide (or something)?
• Was Judas a hero and most trusted disciple, or a traitor?
Was Judas a good man doing Jesusâ€™ will or was he a traitor?

I've read what is referred to as the "Gospel of Judas" (or what's left of it). I think it's deeply esoteric and, if true, it may hold within it the mystery of Judas' character as a person, as well as the symbolic expression in the relation between Jesus and twelve disciples.

This reminds me, we also don't understand who the devil/satan is as an individual and what he symbolises in the inner/greater expression of human life.

And there seems to be more to the crucifixion plan than the disciples knew because Jesus refers to Peter as Satan when he refuses to accept Jesus' suffering and eventual death:
Jesus turned around and said to Peter, "Get away from me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my way, because these thoughts of yours don't come from God, but from human nature." — Matthew 16:23 (Good News Translation)
• False Awakening & Unknowable Reality
The idea has another, philosophical, meaning - describing a person who believes s/he has grasped true reality but actually hasn't; maybe s/he misunderstands, or s/he has only a partial understanding of, true reality.

Whatever understanding is possessed by an individual(ity) is limited to and by that individual(ity). Only the absolute is and has absoluteness. Those who are awake (enlightened) know their limitations better than those below them on that scale.
• If women had been equals
Is it possible that women may think fundamentally different from men, unless they are pressured to think like men, and that that difference is important to humanity? What if it is our potential to be more like bonobo (female domination) and less like chimpanzees (male domination)?

I think it is (in more ways than not, I believe so). I think our intelligent impetus deems what would have been seen as "cultural/traditional feminine predisposition" type of qualities and characters to be better suited for the future. These are qualities referenced in the idea of 'maternal instinct' such as compassion, a more objective acceptance of individualities and situations, communal service/sharing (less of 'my this and that', and more of 'for the greater good/peace of heart', etc), openness to reciprocity. Basically, a more heart-centred society.

One thing, I think, which is important to realise, is that dominance doesn't necessarily imply subjugation of others' will, independence and individualities.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
Words are symbols of concepts. They act as the means of making concepts into mental concretes. They allow the storage of a conceptual integration that can be recalled on demand. Words are references to a concept.

A definition describes the basis of integration of a specific concept. It describes the essential nature of the concept. It differentiates all other particulars from those included under the concept.

Are the concepts of 'truth' and 'fact' completely differentiated in the way they are defined and symbolised? No, I don't think so. Also, no source of information, philosophy, linguistics or other, seems to have completely differentiated them. However, there is a concept, a principle, which seems to be the source or the fundamental upon which their respective definitions and symbolism are based. Right now, I can only explain that concept as, "that which is." It can be what is designated as reality or existence but, both fact and truth are attempts to symbolise aspects of 'that which is'.

Information and knowledge are other words whose definitions and conceptions are not completely differentiated, and kinda relate in one way or another. I don't think we have, as yet, developed the kind of context (or perspective) in which they could be completely uncoupled. The many arguments in this thread may be proof of that.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com

*The above site is not the definitive on philosophical terms and meanings. It has a disclaimer at the bottom which reads,
The content of this website is primarily based on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism.
And, because of that, it will be readily evident what its shortcomings are. However, it presents a very good (workable) relation between the meanings of various philosophical expressions.

Some of the expressions and meanings are:

- An axiom is an irreducible primary. It doesn't rest upon anything in order to be valid, and it cannot be proven by any "more basic" premises. A true axiom can not be refuted because the act of trying to refute it requires that very axiom as a premise. An attempt to contradict an axiom can only end in a contradiction.
The term "axiom" has been abused in many different ways, so it is important to distinguish the proper definition from the others. The other definitions amount to calling any arbitrary postulate an 'axiom'.

- Words are symbols of concepts. They act as the means of making concepts into mental concretes. They allow the storage of a conceptual integration that can be recalled on demand. Words are references to a concept. They are mental entities which trigger the contents of the concept. By making the concepts into concretes that can be easily maintained and used, we are able to use concepts as particulars, allowing further integration.
Words in themselves are meaningless and mostly arbitrary. They are auditory or visual symbols of concepts, which contains the meaning. A definition applies to a concept, not a word. A word is a name given to a concept. It isn't the concept itself. A word is only meaningful if it has a concept, which in turn, has a definition. Without these, a word is just a noise.

- A definition describes the basis of integration of a specific concept. It describes the essential nature of the concept. It differentiates all other particulars from those included under the concept.
A concept has a genus and a differentia. The role of the definition is to describe both.

- Knowledge is the mental grasp of the facts of reality. It is the awareness of the identity of particular aspects of reality. It is not just an awareness of reality, but an understanding of it. It is a successfully formed conclusion about some aspect of reality. An example of knowledge is the identification of the law of gravity. It is a characteristic of reality that is identified and understood.
Knowledge is gained through a successful evaluation of one's perceptions. It is through the use of reason that man draws conclusions about the world. It is through objectivity that man identifies the validity of those conclusions. Knowledge is the clear, lucid information gained through the process of reason applied to reality.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
Through all the discussions on this thread, I have managed to gather some ideas which, it seems, everyone who's participated is okay with in some way or other (according to my judgement). That is,

- a fact is the expression of state(s) of affairs.
- a truth is the principle(s) on which state(s) of affairs are established.

From the above, I've also been able to develop other definitions for information and knowledge which I think are pertinent, somewhat differentiating and still correlated. That is,

- information is a relation of fact(s).
- knowledge is the relation between fact(s) and truth(s).

Of course, there's the obvious common usage of information and knowledge, e.g. if you have information, then you know; or if you know, then you have information, etc. But, even with common usage, the test/limiting factor which, more often than not, differentiates between the two is application. Right application qualifies one as possessing knowledge in favour of those who may just possess information without the capacity to apply it. (These are just my ideas and nothing is definitive.)

To all who've participated, I would like to give my thanks. This is a very illuminating discussion.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?

So, for you, is there a difference between information and knowledge?

Or, perhaps, they're the kind of words (also, truth and fact) whose meanings and significance, as I seem to be learning, cannot be acquired through comparative thinking. That is, the differences have no real significance to our perspective. It's like illuminating one's home with white light or amber (yellow-ish), bottom-line is, they make it possible to see things.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
I guess the difference then is that some types of information are undesirable but knowledge is always valuable to possess. Can you pick up the thread from there?

Yeah, thanks. I've learned quite a lot from that. It seems that there's an inherent idea that, at least, one of the differences between knowledge and information is based on some kind of judgement with respect to its significance to us, e.g. desirable/undesirable, valuable/useless, etc.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
I'm not sure about knowledge being about utility because while it seems instinctively desirable, tool-makers that we are, to put knowledge to some use, utility per se doesn't constitute an essential feature of the definition of knowledge. I mean that if ever we encounter a well-justified proposition it would still count as knowledge to know it even if it proved to be completely useless.

I've tried to hold this sort of position before and I think my worry is it doesn't seem to give much of a difference between knowledge and information. I've been using utility to, primarily, differentiate between the two. Is there another way?
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
You could do this (both sound odd to me, to be honest), but this seems like a stipulative definition, in which case it's not clear what the impetus for doing this is.

It's just an attempt at finding a most comprehensive definition possible. Anyway, I think the word fact would be somewhat deficient if it were limited to only one definition when it's supposed to include propositions which express subjective statements. I think I'm looking for something I can find to be more comfortable, and possibly more personal, than accepting the whole range of meanings available in philosophy or semantics. I'm just being stubborn for no good reason.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?

How about a fact is an expression of a state of affairs or circumstance. This can also fit in statements like "it is a fact that force is defined as mass multiplied by acceleration," and "it is a fact that fraud is illegal under the law."
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?

I thought axiom was appropriate because it is composed of a premise which leads to a conclusion through a particular line of reasoning/logic. This, to me, seems to imply a level of definitiveness to the process thus enabling a clear judgement of whether it is right or wrong, true or false.

If not axiom, then what? Theory?
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?

I seem to have a problem with a proposition being characterized as true or false because, by my understanding, a proposition is not definitive. Its values of truth and falsity are potential. To me, if the potentiality is verified, then it becomes an axiom.

I understand a proposition to be an attempt to express meaning or value, but whether or not it is true or false is beyond the proposition itself. By this I mean that, the proposition has to be examined in relation to something like evidence (the object/subject, the significance of which, the proposition is attempting to express) so as to determine whether its value is true or false. And, whether the evidence is itself a fact or truth is again dependent on another degree of relation, viz, meaning.

Is my explanation sound?
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
Um, no. Providing you understand the terms, you can always demonstrate that 2+3=5. Facts you can never demonstrate. You can exhibit supporting documentation, or make probabilistic arguments, but never more than that.

I've never thought of truths and facts in this way before. At first glance I seem to want to protest but there is a simplicity to the explanation that makes me think it might be right. I'll have to think on this for a long while before I can say anything pertinent about it. Thanks for the perspective.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
(Imo) you're exactly right. I'll add a refinement that likely you had in mind but that I'll just make more explicit. Truth and fact are different animals. Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon is a fact. 2+3=5 is true.

Thanks for this. I take it to mean something like, "truth is enduring, that is, it will always be relevant, while a fact is relative.
• What is Fact? ...And Knowledge of Facts?
A fact is a true proposition. Nothing more or less.

This has become interesting. Can a proposition be true? I mean in the sense that, if it is true, is it still a proposition?

And what is your perspective of facts with respect to truth when the conditions which determine them change? That is, do facts change?
• Is a meaningful existence possible?

First, there is no 'nothing' because every way it is defined, it is always related to 'something'. Sometimes the 'nothing' is the source, cause of 'something'; other times it contains potential, capacity, etc for 'something'; and, lastly, it is also considered as the end of 'something'. Therefore, it is simpler to just call it 'something' since it is the undeniable common factor. ('Something' is what is known about 'nothing'.)

About being trapped in the infinite prison, I think you've already found the answer = Going Crazy!!!
It seems crazy :wink: but one of the fundamental defining factors of craziness/madness is a certain degree of lowering/lessening of inhibitions. How trapped can anyone be without inhibitions? That's the freedom we instinctively strive to seek from within.

Long story short, the many paths and ideas to enlightenment and freedom are just ways to go crazy consciously, deliberately and definitively. It's quite the trip! :wink:
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?
mystical stuff rarely translates into a road-map towards much useful science.

Meditation was once mystical. Acupuncture... ?
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?
I don't think that is correct. they always came from experimental observations which needed new theory to explain. mystical stuff rarely translates into a road-map towards much useful science.

Isn't metaphysics just another way of explaining our observations?
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?
I'm not sure how such ideas further science, but they do support a good spiritual feeling philosophy, which seems in synch with many ancient eastern philosophies.

Science has always had a 'mystical' component to it. It doesn't mean it's wrong. Science has always had room for conceptual/theoretical stuff which in some ways is very close to metaphysics. Theories of atoms and dark matter were not developed from proof or experience but from translations of metaphysical ideas about the nature of things and such.
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?
OK, so, in your way of thinking, all humans have about the same level of intelligence (difference only in how much it is expressed) and consciousness which comparable in many ways to the intelligence and consciousness of a rock.

Not really. Neither a rock nor human is intelligent in themselves and by themselves. The point is that, it is intelligence which manifests the activity and identity we refer to as a human and also a rock.
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?
so, according to your views, a mentally retarded human (e.g., exhibiting less intelligent activity) has less consciousness than an average human (e.g., exhibiting much more intelligent activity than a retarded one) ?

No, not less consciousness. Not even less intelligence in the ultimate sense. Just a lesser degree of expression of some attributes which seem to depend on the mental faculty for expression.

so you are coming from the camp of "God's intelligent design" as explaining our universe and human condition?

Just intelligent design. I can't give any validation for God(s) but there seems to be a fundamental principle which acts as a unifying or connecting factor to everything. Intelligent design just means great patterns of activity (cause and effect).

also, you apparently are saying that you don't think that consciousness requires any level of agency. Have I got you right on that??

To me, consciousness is the fundamental principle underlying everything. God, energy, reality, etc, are just different names and perspectives of the same thing. Basically, all is consciousness (or God, energy, reality, etc).

what working-in-progress definition of 'intelligence' are you using to make these kinds of statements, in re consciousness?

What we define as intelligence is just a level of activity of generating causes towards effects in as harmonious, and sometimes unified, a way as possible. In that sense nature (what we understand as nature) is a far superior activity.
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?
if everything is conscious then how does that help us define it

All our definitions are a 'work-in-progress' because our understanding is still far from absolute.

and why are our computers or electronics not conscious, not even the way a mouse is?

Because human application of intelligence is vastly inferior to that manifest by nature (or reality).

why would biologically self-propagating be related to consciousness. Maybe you did not mean to say it that way.

Because biology is just a dimension of activity and configuration of energies; and consciousness (interactive mechanism of energy) also manifests that paradigm.

why would degree of intelligent activity be determined and limited by the degree of 'consciousness'?

I mean intelligence cannot surpass the level of consciousness which it is manifest in.

Clearly, "degree of intelligent activity" is not sufficient. e.g., a rock has zero "intelligent activity" which would mean by you it has zero 'consciousness', but then you say ' consciousness as the awareness-response (interactive) mechanism existent in everything', an apparent contradiction.

There is a great deal of intelligence manifest through the configuration we call a rock, e.g. as conceived in the activity of its atoms and molecules.

However, the truth is that there is a fundamental flaw in the idea that humans (or anything) can be intelligent. This is because it presumes that humans determine their intelligence whereas the truth is that we work with whatever reality (or nature) has given us. Everything we do and have is as nature determined for us, and that is true of everything both living and non-living, organic and inorganic, etc, etc.

We are a mystery to ourselves. We are and we do. Any attempt at defining ourselves fails to account for the fact that we are already defined.
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?
How about my a virus counter example, which exhibits a high degree of expressed intelligence yet in no way would we say it has consciousness? Virus are not even considered to be alive.

Non-living and even inorganic configurations can have consciousness in the sense that they have preset states of conditioning which primarily define their identity and the activity of intelligence aligned with that identity. It's why we talk of intelligent design - because intelligence is an activity generated and propagated by certain predetermined states/configuration. Therefore, in a comprehensive sort of view, consciousness is that state which determines and compels an intelligent activity. It's like consciousness is the identity (in its totality), and intelligence is its activity.

Concerning viruses, they have consciousness in the sense of a state of conditioning which defines their identity and degree of intelligent activity. So, for me, it's not that viruses don't have consciousness, but that their level of activity is intermediate between that of configurations which self-propagate biologically and those which do not.

Sometimes, I simplify consciousness as the awareness-response (interactive) mechanism existent in everything.
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?

I think your perspective of consciousness is really good especially since it's primarily wrt to experience, which means there's bound to be an underlying truth to it. And, I think my idea might be in close relation to yours in a way. So, for me, consciousness and intelligence interrelate in every activity. Intelligence is like the grooves of a vinyl record and consciousness (the one we usually refer to) is the sound produced when it is played. However, for me, there is another level/degree of consciousness which is in play before the intelligence is applied. That is, there is a consciousness which determines the intelligence to be used. This former/prior consciousness is analogous to the music pattern which determines how the grooves in a vinyl record will be organised. And, that initial music pattern is not yet sound but, through the use of an instrument, sound can be produced.

Another analogy would be that I have a musical pattern in my mind. Before I express it or play it on an instrument, it cannot be said to be sound even though it is musical. However, through an instrument (which organisation of strings, chords, membranes, etc, represents intelligence), sound, which is kinda like an emergent property, is generated. Also, that initial music pattern has to be intelligently organised for it to have the potential of sound. Therefore, to me, it seems consciousness and intelligence are always interacting and there can never be one without the other. From such a perspective, I see consciousness as the cause to (source of) intelligence, and the environment in which intelligence manifests/acts, as well as, the emergent property which comes through the action of that intelligence. It's like consciousness is the soul manifesting through a human body (intelligent configuration) and emerging as personality or character (an outer expression of the initial consciousness).
• Can Consciousness be Simulated?

So, from your perspective, what is consciousness? Or, what does it entail?
• Pantheism
1. What is God?
"God is the Supreme Intelligence - First Cause of all things."

The Pantheistic theory makes of God a material being, who, though endowed with a supreme intelligence, would only be on a larger scale what we are on a smaller one. But, as matter is incessantly undergoing transformation, God, if this theory were true, would have no stability. He would be subject to all the vicissitudes, and even to all the needs, of humanity. He would lack one of the essential attributes of the Divinity -viz., unchangeableness. The properties of matter cannot be attributed to God without degrading our idea of the Divinity and all the subtleties of sophistry fail to solve the problem of His essential nature.
We do not know what God is but we know that it is impossible that He should not be and the theory just stated is in contradiction with His most essential attributes. It confounds the Creator with the creation, precisely as though we should consider an ingenious 'machine' to be an integral portion of the mechanican who invented it.

The intelligence of God is revealed in His works, as is that of a painter in his picture but the works of God are no more God Himself than the picture is the artist who conceived and painted it.
— ALLAN KARDEC (THE SPIRITS' BOOK - 1857)

Just a little perspective. Sometimes there's more to the word God than meets our minds.
• How Do You Know You Exist?
Every person, as a self, body, or both, knows they exist. But that knowledge is certainly variable with concern to each one, as a lot of philosophies about proving one's existence have emerged, and are known for their common contradictions.

What's yours? I would like to hear from you.

Knowledge (or intelligence) cannot define or delineate existence because it is an expression of existence. Therefore, knowledge or intelligence can be defined/delineated with respect to existence but not vice versa.

Also, it's not that we know we exist but, rather, we can't deny that we exist. Existence is an absolute affirmation. IT IS that which IT IS (Existence Is).

I AM that I AM -> In other words, I AM, no matter how we choose to designate it.
• If the cogito presupposed 'I', then how is existence proved?

The 'I' is not a presupposition. It is an affirmation of that which is, and cannot be denied.
The meaning attached to the 'I' is what is usually presupposed. The 'I' never needs any of the types of qualifications that it is given. It is, essentially, always itself by itself and for itself. Basically, "I... AM".
• Philosophy and the Twin Paradox
Somebody consider the possibility that quantum mechanics applies to all phenomena since even complex configurations (e.g rocks) are an aggregation of simpler configurations (e.g. molecules, atoms, sub-atomic, etc). Therefore, even a rock could act as both wave and particle in the sense that it has a corresponding force resonance (vibration sequence/pattern -> a wave property) aligned with its apparent physicality (or interactive configuration).

If complex configurations are an aggregate of simpler configurations and, quantum mechanics is a perspective on those simpler configurations, doesn't that mean that every complexity we seem to have has a field of activity in which quantum mechanics applies?
• Are the thoughts that we have certain? Please help clarify my confusion!
But is it certain that the exact thought I am consciously aware right now is happening?

Firstly, what does it mean to be aware of thought?

The reason I'm asking is because I seem to have a perspective from which the awareness and thoughts are different and somewhat separate though not completely independent. I would put it as, "thought is an expression of awareness."
To me, "I think, therefore I am," seems more appropriate when it means, "I am aware, therefore I am." I think awareness (for me, consciousness is a more comprehensive terminology) is the fundamental person (or existence) because there's no way of getting past its ever-ness. For example, being conscious means being aware and having it on record while being unconscious means being aware without being impressed on any record. Either way, no matter the degree, consciousness/awareness is ever-present.
• Was Jesus born with Original Sin?
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, and others contributed to the idea by the 2nd century, and so did St. Augustine in 412 CE, all drawing on St. Paul.

Then how did it become a part of Christian teachings? I mean, sure, I get reasons why people would want to justify sin and the inevitability of it. But it seems like it's become quite an integral premise to the whole narrative of salvation despite having been designed outside of original scriptural literature. I've always thought the idea of original sin is weird (unreasonable) with respect to common sense reasoning but, it's even weirder now that I know it's provenance. It's like, so much of Christian belief is based on simulations such that it is almost impossible for that faith to be reasonable.

#### BrianW

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