Comments

  • Does solidness exist?
    "Solidity" is directly and immediately relative to the strength and rigidity of the molecular bonds of the material in question. Molecules of iron form very strong and rigid bonds, which explains why you won't fall through a steel floor. The bonds between iron oxide molecules, on the other hand, though rigid, are quite weak, which explains why you will fall through a rusty floor. The bonds between molecules of dihydrogen oxide are incredibly flexible but very strong, which explains why you can dive into a swimming pool without hurting yourself (hopefully!).

    The molecular bonds of polyethylene are extremely stong, but not very rigid, which explains why "polythene" is flexible but so difficult to tear apart.
  • Outer View, Inner View, and Pure Consciousness
    "As a newborn, our sensations are incoherent"

    This is actually quite a large assertion, requiring considerable argument. The fact that a baby is generally incapable of interacting socially in a meaningful way, whether by speech or action, does not suffice to prove that its sensations are incoherent. It proves only that its physical (and neurological) development are inadequate to express any thoughts it may be capable of articulating.
  • Universal Mind/Consciousness?
    "My consciousness is all that I really know exists"

    YES! If only Descartes had had the wit to understand this... but he lacked the intellectual honesty.
  • "German philosophy lacks of escape valve"
    It is difficult to conceive Mishima's point exactly because of the difficulties of translation... I take him to mean that because German philosophy is so metaphysical, it lacks any point of contact or 'ausgleichfunktionsknopf' to connect it with the real world. I assume that the symbolism of the toilet refers to the only outlet of any dissenting world-view

    But I would assume, since that time, that this has been more than countered by the influence of the "Scuola di Coca-Cola" of Western culture?
  • Quantitative Ethics?
    This thread can drone on as long as one likes! Until someone addresses a couple of elephants on the sofa:

    (1) What is "good"? How is "goodness" to be defined?

    (2) Ought we to be good? Is there such a thing as a moral imperative to be good?

    Sorry to harp on the obvious like that but, as the ancients realised, you must start by defining your basic terms and, with luck, you'll find that many of the questions answer themselves.

    The relevance of mathematics would be fairly obvious to anybody who had taken Philosophy 100 in Utilitiarian ethics. But please don't underestimate the philosophy of arithmetic. It is at least as problematic as the philosophy of any other branch of mathematics, precisely because it deals with the most primitive or elemental levels of the science.
  • To what extent is the universe infinite?
    Agent Smith is a philosopher; he provokes thinking, which is, of course, frowned upon in any good society.

    "According to The Elijah Price/Mr. Glass Principle, at least one actual infinity exists."

    I know nothing about Mr Glass or Elijah, but the thesis is provable in set theory, provided you accept that the employment of axioms is inevitable in any science. It's known as the "axiom of infinity": For any natural number n, there exists at least one set with n members. At first glance, this doesn't look as if it had much to do with infinity. But perpend.

    Let's say you choose the number 9. Well, there must exist at least the set of the numbers from 1 to 9, otherwise the number 9 would have no meaning. But if you have a set of 9 members, the total number of subsets formable would be 2^9; and from those you could form a further subset, with a cardinality of 2^2^9, and they would form a further subset... and so on ad infinitum.
  • Tertullian & Popper
    "God's worst ideas are our best ideas."

    Before this "discussion" gets transferred to the religious forum, let me say this: there can be no continuity between our ideas and god's ideas because god possesses all of her qualities to an infinite extent; consequently, from god's perspective, human thinking and human affairs must appear to be infinitely trivial and inconsequential and, quite probably, of no logical value whatsoever.
  • Are blackholes and singularities synonymous?
    But of course, my last does not address your main point, which I understand as follows: the existence of an event horizon implies a stronger gravitational field than any we can find in the observable universe. But we do not need to go so far as proposing a singularity of infinite mass to account for this phenomenon. The central mass would only need to be slightly larger than any we can observe. Is that your position?
  • Are blackholes and singularities synonymous?
    Michael, your point needs a bit of unpacking. It's often said that "Black holes are... a region within which gravity is so strong that light cannot escape."

    "Escape" is a tendentious word to use, because it encourages a sort of Newtonian picture of light struggling upwards for some distance and finally succumbing to the force of gravity, as a rifle bullet would on Earth.

    But this is a misleading picture. Light naturally travels in a straight line but, because it has mass, it will follow the contours of a gravitational field. In the neighbourhood of a singularity, gravity curves so tightly back on itself that it creates a hard discontinuity in space/time (like the boundary of a blob of oil floating on water) which we call the event horizon. Light which is inside the event horizon continues to travel in a "straight" line, but following the contours of the gravitational field. So the space/time discontinuity prevents us from seeing it.

    The natural tendency of a railway locomotive is to travel in a straight line; but, where the tracks are laid, that's where it will go!
  • Are blackholes and singularities synonymous?
    Yes, I think there's a Windows update.
  • Deleuze and Societies of Control
    Can you explain D's definition of an "enhanced negative freedom"? I don't personally pretend to understand it.
  • Why scientists shouldn't try to do philosophy
    Blooper: for "cagtegories" read "categories".
  • Why scientists shouldn't try to do philosophy
    'I don't think that there's such a thing like "scientific philosophy". The closest thing I can think of, linguistically-wise", is "philosophy of science"'

    There is a difference. "Philosophy of science" is about the nature and aims of science, and its relationship to other philosophic cagtegories like ethics and metaphysics. "Scientific philosophy" occurs within the discipline of science itself, and deals with questions like "What is the nature of infinity? How should we define "the universe"? How do we reconcile quantum mechanics with relativity?" Wherever there is a puzzle in science which cannot be resolved by appeal to current data, you have a question in scientific philosophy.
  • Why scientists shouldn't try to do philosophy
    "A few classes in philosophy is a must for any scientist worth the name."

    What the man said!

    In the end, Fermi's Paradox fails for the same reason that the Ontological Argument for the existence of God fails: you can't prove a matter of fact by appealing to purely logical arguments. Matters of fact can only be estalished by appeal to data.
  • Are blackholes and singularities synonymous?


    Interesting point. To count to infinity would require an infinity of time. Is time infinite? According to the conventional wisdom, time had a beginning; but we cannot currently be sure that it will have an end. Nothing in science currently excludes the possibility of infinite time.
  • The hell dome and the heaven dome
    The paradise dome is likely to become overpopulated fairly quickly and this will be an impetus to emigration. On the other hand, a hell-hole may not be a hell-hole to those who live within it because they know no other way of life. A thermal vent in the mid-atlantic ridge looks like a hell-hole to me, but lots of small creatures call it home. How can we be sure that our own way of life isn't a hell-hole by the standards of a more advanced civilisation elsewhere in the Galaxy? But a hell-hole may be attractive nonetheless, just because nobody else wants to live there; so they enjoy a poor but peaceful existence, relatively immune to invasions and tribal migrations. "It may be a hell-hole, but it's OUR hell-hole"!
  • Greatest contribution of philosophy in last 100 years?


    A century ago, the Newtonian/Euclidean conception of the universe was shattered. And set theory finally enabled us to be certain that 1 + 1 = 2. Doesn't get much more fundamental.
  • Is this even a good use of the term logic?
    "You're too kind mon ami, too kind! Merci beaucoup! "

    Mind you, Smithy, I reserve the right to label your posts as BS as and when I think appropriate...and I am sure you will accord me the same assessments!
  • Is this even a good use of the term logic?
    "Speaking for myself, there's more to logic/rationality than just being able to think in step-wise fashion from one point to another."

    Interesting stipulation! I'm sure there are those who would argue that logic/rationality consists precisely in thinking step-wise fashion from one point to another [provided, of course, that it is the logically NEXT point in the sequence, and not just a random jump...]
  • Consciousness question
    Glen, your question is not readily intelligible in the form of words you have used. By "consciousness", do you mean the world of sense-perception, which appears to be something external to (and independent of) ourselves? Or are you referring to mental processes?
  • On Thoughts as Pre-Existent
    "cogito, ergo i erit"?
  • The Book that Broke the World: Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit”
    Throughout history there have been movements, and counter-movements. Eventually they settle down to a compromise. We see ample evidence of this all the way through from ancient Egypt to early 21st C western politics. Trump's presidency was self-evidently a disaster, so the Dems won control of the House at the mid-terms. Hegel's mistake was to imgine this kind of development as a mystical metaphysical progression, when it's really just human psychology.
  • Grammar Introduces Logic
    But I accidentally posted the previous before I was ready. I was going to add that the pre-occupation with english-style prepositions may be questionable. Chinese, for example, has a different set of linguistic conventions for dealing with the prepositional context. "Dao wo zher lai" means "come to me", but does not actually contain any word which would translate directly as a preposition in English.
  • Justice Matters
    I'm not familiar with this context, but perhaps the fact that it was in the background, evidently unopened (since the cover was visible), implies that he was sufficiently open-minded to have read the book, rejected its ideas, and placed it behind him.
  • Grammar Introduces Logic
    I don't think any of the comments quite addresses ucarr's point. It's true that he says "If I can say it, then I can think it". But this is not the first step in logical thinking. I think he would agree that the perception of logical connection is essentially non-verbal, and language follows later as an attempt to communicate the logical connection to others. Five million years ago, proto-humans understood that they were wet because it was raining. The ability to express this thought more or less accurately in language must have followed much later.
  • Why Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
    invizzy, I'm afraid you are really re-inventing too many wheels. Please read up on what Aristotle has to say about cause, and what subsequent philosophy (Russell and Hume, for example) has had to say on the subject.
  • Aristotle Said All Men by Nature Desire to Know
    Aristotle was great on trivial detail, hopeless on the big moral or metaphysical questions. Like Descartes, a philosophical impostor.
  • Is it possible to be morally wrong even if one is convinced to do the right thing?
    I think this is the issue of moral relativism versus moral absolutism. Are there any absolute, indisputable standards of morality, or is morality relative to the place and time? According to the Old Testament, if my wife is unfaithful, I should bury her up to her neck in sand, gather all my friends together with the largest rocks they can carry, and collectvely turn her head into strawberry jam. How would society deal with me, if I did that today?

    I don't personally subscribe to any of the traditional systems of superstitious belief, and I follow Bertrand Russell: the good life is the life enlightened by knowledge, and guided by love.
  • Deleuze and Societies of Control
    On the other hand, irony may be defined as critical thought which rejects the tramlines of De Leuzean orthodoxy and remorselessly challenges us to reframe our ambitions and expectations in terms of a survivable compromise between social fitness and personal self-actualisation. How do you see this paradox being resolved?
  • Forum visual aides?
    Interesting idea, but can you give an example of the sort of thing you have in mind? It's fairly obvious how such an approach could be useful in a mathematical philosphy forum, for example, but how do you see it applying to areas like metaphysics or epistemology? In what way would it be superior to a simple verbal reply?
  • Is Hegel's conception of objectivity functionally impossible?
    "I am studying Hegel and am struggling to understand Hegel's dialectic and his claims of objectivity"

    Take heart, Bertrand Russell had the same problem.
  • Listening to arguments rather than people
    I'm not sure that your distinction between "listening to people" and "listening to arguments" will withstand critical analysis. There is certainly a valid distinction between "listening to opinions" and "listening to reasoned arguments". Is this what you are referring to?
  • All that matters?
    I'm recalling a British comedy movie of the 1950's called "The Man Who Liked Funerals". One of the characters says: "Remember the family motto: first we act, then we think!"
  • Two Questions about Logic/Reasoning
    Your mistake is to confuse "deductive" and "inductive". Modus Ponens is a deductive argument; if A and B are indisputably true, then C follows necessarily. But if you introduce probabilities ("65% likely to be true"), it is no longer Modus Ponens; it is an argument in inductive reasoning, which is something entirely different and much more complicated!
  • Siddhartha Gautama & Euthyphro
    "Thou" sayest that your post is unnecessarily confusing... this is, of course, a classic question in religious and moral philosophy: is a thing good because God likes it, or does God like it because is is good? Either answer is unacceptable.

    If God likes a thing because it is good, this is tantamount to saying that the criterion of goodness is independent of God's will; consequently, God is irrelevant to the definition of moral goodness. On the other hand, if a thing is good because God likes it, then there is no fixed criterion of goodness, since God has the power to change His mind at any time; and so the criterion of goodness may change from day to day. If the good is what God likes, and God decides to "like" the massacre of infidels, then the Talibaan will become the guardians of goodness, and we should all live by their rule.
  • Why scientists shouldn't try to do philosophy
    Erratum: in the opening sentence, for "science", read "scientific philosophy".
  • The Standard(s) for the Foundation Of Knowledge
    “The foundation for knowledge must be something from which we can go about doing inquiry with agreement on some propositions.”

    Pure gold, but it is not clear why you think this approach is primarily "practical", and does not form the basis of ALL knowledge?

    I think there is no better introductory text to the foundations of knowledge than the first half-dozen pages of Euclid's "Elements of Geometry". There you will find the whole of the Socratic/Platonic/Cartesian enterprise set out in all of its clinical purity. Definition > axiom > theorem. All else is commentary.
  • The Standard(s) for the Foundation Of Knowledge
    A big subject, indeed the biggest. I would like to advise against taking the Cartesian "Universal Doubt" as a criterion for anything. You'll have noticed that there are all sorts of things which it never occurs to Decartes to doubt; that knowledge is possible, that "truth" and "error" are absolute categories, and that other beings exist, for example. He applies his own criterion in a very partial and disingenuous way.

    The Cartesian "Universal Doubt" is the Classical approach on stilts; reduce everything to the smallest possible number of indubitable propositions, and see what can be built from that. Lacking the intellectual honesty and impartial rigour of a Socrates or a Euclid, however, Descartes quickly digs himself into a hole from which only an appeal to God's goodness can rescue him. Of all the most famous and influential of philosophers, Descartes is undoubtedly the least honest and least competent.
  • Fine Structure Constant, The Sequel
    Not sure I quite got the gist of this, but ≈137 is not guaranteed to be a rational number, because it is an approximation. The absolute value might be a real number, to which 1/137 is just the nearest rational.
  • Inductive Expansion on Cartesian Skepticism
    I don't want to rain on a parade, but I think you would be extremely courageous to build a philosophical arguement on Cartesian Scepticism nowadays. The most destructive criticism I have come across was written by a Jesuit priest who was a lecturer at the University of Sydney (unfortunately, I'm ashamed to admit, I can't remember his name). Cartersian Scepticism appears to work only on condition you stop halfway. Descartes never doubted that truth exists, reason exists, criteria to distinguish truth from falsehood exist, and that the nature of existence is basically rational and follows logical rules, and finally - and this most telling - never doubted for a moment that God exists. Even to the lacklustre extent that he applied his "universal doubt", he relies upon God to pull him out of the logical hole he digs for himself.