• Religious Perspectives and Sexuality: What are the Controversial Areas For Philosophical Debate?
    It can be hard to get into the minds of people who lived just a few centuries ago, never mind 2 or 3 millennia.BC

    Hell, for that matter, it can be hard to get into the minds of people who are our contemporaries, never mind those who lived before. :razz:

    Native Americans, for instance, thought much differently than the Europeans did on all sorts of matters.BC

    As many of them still do. Thought this should be said. (e.g., "water defenders" who uphold the sacredness of nature and are in opposition to western industrial interests)
  • Religious Perspectives and Sexuality: What are the Controversial Areas For Philosophical Debate?
    Likewise Hindu yogis were always encouraged to be celibate (brahmacharya). When I said 'old school', I mean the original, now archaic, forms of those cultures.Quixodian

    I don't know. As to Hinduism, for one example, the Kama Sutra is fairly ancient. There's of course a wide array of differing practices in the ancient Hindu religion and culture, but I haven't found that it as a whole shunned sexuality. Don't mean to bicker, but, although my anthropological studies on sexuality date a couple of decades back (my thesis was on the borderline of obscenity), I remember researching a richness of sexuality in both ancient Hindu folklore and spirituality.

    All the same:

    But I still don't think it's easy for us to appreciate, from a modern perspective, how different sexual mores were in traditional cultures, to what we take for granted.Quixodian

    Can't find disagreement with this.
  • Religious Perspectives and Sexuality: What are the Controversial Areas For Philosophical Debate?
    So, I am asking how do you see the relationship between religion and sexuality?Jack Cummins

    For my part, what I’ve so far found from my studies can be expressed in this generalized form:

    If the religious view holds the natural world to be both good and sacred, then sexuality is not shunned and can in certain contexts be itself deemed sacred. If the religious view however does not hold the natural world as both good and sacred, then sexuality is typically shunned by it.
  • Religious Perspectives and Sexuality: What are the Controversial Areas For Philosophical Debate?
    Face it - old school religions hate sex, and they were mostly patriarchal.Quixodian

    I find the first part of this sentence to be a vast overgeneralization. That most of the major religions we know of are patriarchal to varying degrees seems about right. However, the shunning of sexuality seems to me to be largely confined to Abrahamic religions, which have by now more or less spread their influence worldwide.

    Nevertheless, religions worldwide that occurred prior to Abrahamic influences quite often looked upon sexual intercourse, or sexual union, as a possible means of closer proximity to divinity. This can be witnessed from ancient paganisms to ancient Hinduism to ancient Shinto. To list just three examples. The case can also be made at least at the symbolic level for certain forms of Tantric Buddhism.

    Despite the considerable controversy to "paid-for-sex within contexts of the sacred and divine" (which I'm not trying to condone), this article on sacred prostitution does illustrate the global span of well known religions that once embraced sexuality - symbolically if not also carnally - within the contexts of the sacred.
  • God & Christianity Aren’t Special
    Do you think that what "most" think is important?Janus

    When it comes to politics and economy, very much so.

    The openness I'm speaking about is the absence of egoic interests. If you haven't encountered that in people, all I can suggest is that you get out more. Did you perchance know Mother Theresa and Gandhi personally?Janus

    You're addressing poetic truths. I'm addressing the technicality of reality. No person is devoid of ego, of I-ness - unless they happen to be comatose. Besides, I haven't commented on what you should do with your life. Please don't comment on what I should do with mine.

    I don't see why not since this thread has hardly been a paragon of staying on topic, and I wouldn't see such a discussion as being off-topic anyway. Mikie was not just addressing God and Christianity, which should be clear if you read the OP. If you want to argue for reincarnation, then you must think it is special, so have at it...or not...but if not, then be honest and say you don't want to instead of hiding behind the excuse that it would be off-topic.Janus

    I stated that I disagree with your views on reincarnation. It directly addresses identity of being. You rely on a theory of identity based on memory: In short, you uphold that what you cannot remember as yourself is not yourself. I find this faulty in numerous ways. The ontology/metaphysics of personal identity is, however, an expansive and cumbersome topic, one that I have no interest in currently engaging in, and one that has nothing to do with the "special-ness" or lack of religious beliefs. That ought to clarify that.
  • Gnostic Christianity, the Grail Legend: What do the 'Secret' Traditions Represent?

    I appreciate the informed clarifications and corrections.

    What’s your take on the Gospel of Mary? The text is dated 60 or so years after Jesus’s death, true. But it is often interpreted to present perspectives in keeping with the values of early Gnosticism (although Gnostic cosmology is not addressed in it). The differences there mentioned between Mary and Peter – which I so far take to point to a rift between, what was to become, full-fledged Gnosticism and orthodoxy – are also mentioned in other texts, including the Gospel of Thomas.

    As to my view that Jesus and the Christian Church are in many ways antithetical, do you find reason to affirm the Jesus and/or his teachings are not in direct opposition to the stringent hierarchy of religious power which was to later become full-fledged Christianity? If so, I'd be interested to learn more of why you don't find a direct opposition between the two.
  • God & Christianity Aren’t Special
    The first is a shrinking away and the second is an opening up, and I don't think it takes much imagination or intelligence to be able to recognize which is the happier state.Janus

    Most I think would not find the openness of someone who is homeless and starving to be a happier, or else more preferable, state than the closedness of someone who is a multimillionaire.

    The problem with the idea of rebirth is that concern about one's own state, whether in this life or the next, is an impediment to the kind of openness I'm talking about.Janus

    Because such openness can result in the absence of egoic interests? I’ve yet to witness this, even in examples such as that of Mother Teresa or of Gandhi, and find it exceedingly unrealistic.

    I disagree with the rest, but don’t want to turn the thread into a discussion on the logic of reincarnation.
  • God & Christianity Aren’t Special
    That conviction is fine for individuals to hold, but should not affect our political or economic lives, which are rightly only concerned with the life that is evident— this life.Janus

    First off, I admire and applaud what I see as the general gist of your stance: basically, that of tolerance for what does not harm. But not for what does.

    I want to point out that the same should be said for all those who uphold the existential finality of worldly death. Yes, including in respect to those who consider it a kind of mercy, if not virtue, to kill off their entire family before committing suicide (because death is taken to be lack of all suffering). But I’m here primarily thinking of those of the following generations, both already birthed and yet to be birthed: What we do in this life is more than just about this life; its very much also about what follows.

    To give better context to this, for one example, one of the pragmatic benefits to belief in reincarnation (its reality or lack of here overlooked) is that one cares about the world one helps to produce today because it will be the world into which one will be birthed into tomorrow. (To not get into possible complexities of belief in incorporeal afterlives.)

    In direct contrast to this, if one were to reason with “all I am vanishes with my death”, then there is no valid reason to give a shit about others that will live tomorrow. Gain the biggest piece of the pie for oneself today at expense of all others as best one can and fuck-all tomorrow, kind of thing. Which can be an exceedingly rational perspective in acceptance of the premise that death is final.

    This just mentioned non-spiritual perspective too is affecting our daily politics and economy – often with direly harmful consequences. Politically, economically, and ecologically.
  • God & Christianity Aren’t Special
    I would never try to undermine anyone's personal convictions, but I don't believe anyone's personal convictions that something is the case, metaphysically speaking, can constitute good evidence for it being the case. I also don't believe that many people having a certain personal metaphysical conviction is good evidence for the truth of the conviction.Janus

    How does this not then apply to the metaphysical conviction that anything which some might deem “spiritual” – such as the belief that death to this world does not equate to an absolute cessation of personal being – can only be baloney?

    After all: materialism, too, is but only a metaphysical conviction.

    It’s not a waste of time for believers. That’s theology— which is fine by me. What’s a waste of time is engaging in philosophical questioning and discussion about various aspects of God when you already accept that Christian dogma is one of many and accept the anthropological point of view.Mikie

    One can approach the subject via the view that all the world’s major religions hold some aspect of the perennial philosophy in common – with each such religion applying it differently.

    As to the philosophical importance of Christianity, and Santa Claus/Christmas, and the like for those who accept the anthropological point of view: these cultural traditions have vast impacts upon the lives of all westerners – regardless of their/our beliefs – and western culture is as of today the predominant culture worldwide.

    As one example, one would be benefited in understanding today’s international politics by gaining greater insight into what some Christians fervently believe to be Christ’s second coming (and some Jews fervently believe to be Christs first coming) upon the fulfillment of X, Y, and Z conditions. But no such benefit can obtain if one disallows philosophical discussions of Christianity, or of religions in general.

    As another, our western economies would be relatively devastated in the absence of Christmas and, hence, of the continued mythos of Santa Claus (whose intended deeper truth is basically that good outcomes result from good deeds).

    As Stephen Crane put it:

    Tradition, thou art for suckling children,
    Thou art the enlivening milk for babes;
    But no meat for men is in thee.
    Then —
    But, alas, we all are babes.
  • Gnostic Christianity, the Grail Legend: What do the 'Secret' Traditions Represent?
    Thanks - good information.BC

    Hey, with pleasure!

    My own primary takeaway for this often-unmentioned fact of the Trinity’s commencement is that whomever Jesus might have been and what he in fact taught is a completely different beast from that of the institutionalized religion which is Christianity.

    As one example I take to be blatant, and not very controversial by comparison to many other possible observations: Whereas what we know about Jesus from various sources (the Gnostic Gospels very much included) doesn’t present Jesus as expressing or engaging in many hypocrisies, I know of no institutionalized religion that has historically been more hypocritical than Christianity. This of itself can substantiate that the principles taught by Jesus are by in large diametrically opposite to the larger sum of principles upheld by Christianity in general.

    But be that as it may, glad you found the info useful.

    For what it’s worth, tying the just mentioned into the thread’s new topic of Gnostic Christianity:

    If Jesus was in fact largely Gnostic, which I so far don’t find much reason to doubt:

    The Gnostics generally held a worldview that often addressed the biblical Yahweh as a lesser deity (in contrast to, for example, Sophia, the final emanation of the Monad which is absolute), a lesser deity that is either ignorant of the Monad or else is opposed to it and thereby malevolent to boot. This malevolent lesser deity, the biblical Lord, was more generally known as the Demiurge, who traps people into materialistic mindframes via the physical world that the Demiurge creates. (In fact, some later sects of Gnosticism, the Ophites, associated Jesus with the serpent of the garden of Eden who, basically, according to them wanted to liberate folks from ignorance of right and wrong so as to gain gnosis of the Monad.) So, if Jesus was in fact a Gnostic of sorts, then it can well be argued that the Christian Church doctrines that followed are in direct contradiction to what Jesus himself stood for.

    Not sure if this is in line with what you’d like to discuss. But I wanted to mention it all the same.
  • Gnostic Christianity, the Grail Legend: What do the 'Secret' Traditions Represent?
    (With all this being inspired by a post that now seems to reside somewhere in the otherworld …)

    There’s also the idea that Christianity is a (I would uphold forced and, hence, improper) hybridization of Jesus’s life and teachings, of some philosophical notions of the absolute (despite the differences between Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, they both affirm such), and, last but not least, of polytheistic paganism's Jungian-like wisdom (if one can call it such). To which I say, “but of course”.

    The Easter bunny and egg has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with the Pagan notion of spring being a time of fertility and of vegetative rebirth after the relative “death” of winter – with a lot of symbolism to all this now largely forgotten. This being forcibly tied into the mythos of the resurrection. Likewise, there’s no historical record to indicate that Jesus was birthed in December (and, best I recall, some evidence of it having been spring), but this time of year is the time of the Pagan revered winter solstice, a time which within many a pagan folklore/mythos signifies, symbolizes, the (re-)birth - or else the (re-)expansion - of light that counteracts an expanding darkness. This being tied into the notion of Jesus as the light bringer. To not even start with Christian notion of Santa Clause and the Christmas tree. :wink:
  • What “comes or came first,” straight or curved lines?
    To all those mathematically minded who in any way take this thread seriously:

    Now, I’m no mathematician myself, but all this talk of defining straight and curved lines by points brings to mind the alternative notions of point-free topology and point-free geometry.

    Which seems to beg the question, what is ontologically primary: point-based lines or point-free lines?

    Yes, points were historically conceived of first, but no one has ever seen one, being that they’re volumeless and such. Which to me indicates that there’s something to be said for the ontological primacy of point-free lines - both of the curved or straight varieties. These we've all seen.

    :roll: :nerd: :razz:
  • Gnostic Christianity, the Grail Legend: What do the 'Secret' Traditions Represent?
    The construction crew began work decades after Jesus. At the moment I can't cite a number.BC

    To be precise, it began three centuries after Jesus, in the exact year of 325 CE. This is the year of The First Council of Nicaea, where the doctrine of the Trinity was compromised between and constructed by different factions into its initial manifestation - this with the oversight of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Before this council convened, there was no Trinity and, hence, no Christianity - a religion pivoted on the reality of the Trinity.

    Well, unless one wants to claim that anyone who in any way believes in Jesus and/or his teachings is a Christian. In which case, many a modern voodoo practitioner is a bona fide Christian (this to pick on voodooism as one religious example, among others, wherein the divinity of Jesus is often upheld by those who are almost universally considered to be non-Christians).

    Yea, I know, The many sects of pre-Council-of-Nicaea believers in Jesus are popularly called "Christians" on the internet and in history books. Doesn't change the fact that none of them had any inkling of, much less believed in, the Trinity.
  • God and the Present
    I agree that the past is fixed, and the future is not, but this creates enormous, seemingly unsurmountable problems for understanding the nature of the present. The first question is, what happens at the present, which could cause such a change? The unfixed future must consist of possibilities, and the past must consist of the results of some sort of selection process.Metaphysician Undercover

    I would address this by incorporating the both conscious and unconscious, intention-driven free will of all co-occurring minds in the cosmos. Not that easy to explain though in forum format.

    Let me say then, that it is a limitation you impose. The problem with this limitation, limiting your understanding of time to conscious experience, is that if you adhere to it strictly, you get a solipsist position.Metaphysician Undercover

    First off, what I expressed was about “prioritizing” and not “limiting” one’s understanding of time. Makes a world of difference.

    Second off, I think it should have been lucidly clear from my previous posts that I was addressing conscious experience in general: the conscious experience of all co-occurring minds in the cosmos that are so endowed. Such as via my addressing the present duration during conversations between two or more minds necessarily resulting in a simultaneity of the present relative to all minds concerned. Each of these (need I say, “separate”?) consciousnesses will then hold their own conscious experience to be epistemically primary as I previously described. Not because I so declare or impose but because that’s the way consciousness works: Even though it’s not infallible, can you think of a more robust certainty then that of “I am”? Yet this in no way then logically translates into the ontological primacy of one’s own consciousness over everything else. Self requires world in order to be in the first place. More specifically, it requires a world in which one is not the sole self.

    But I’m not here to debate this.
  • Consequentialism: Flagellation Required
    If you are a consequentialist, you must always have a desire to bring about the best possible consequences - not just good consequences - or you do not have good intentions. I have formulated an argument that supports this:


    So, it seems that not only is consequentialism incredibly demanding, but it is also an exercise in self-deprecation if you are not some sort of selfless, Jesus-like figure incapable of a cheat day.

    I find the OP to be fraught with unaddressed issues.

    For any of the premises given: Good from the vantage of whom? Me? You and me together? The totality of all individuals that constitute the click or nation or culture we pertain to? The entire human species? All life in the cosmos? In some unrealizable idealization of what should be, all of these will converge into the same all the time; akin to a kind of perfected deontology. In the reality we all know, this convergence will rarely if ever happen – with a great deal of conflict between these different vantages of what is good occurring to varying extents most all of the time.

    For one example, to typical hardcore capitalist(s), the dedication of one’s entire life to volunteer work (etc.) is clearly bad, for there’s no material profit to be gained by it, and maximized material profit is what the hardcore capitalist considers good. So why presume that the intention of so volunteering is a good intention? (Even those who are not hardcore capitalists still need to make enough profit to put food on the table for themselves and loved ones.)

    This is not to say that the constituent minds of all these different, often competing, vantages do not all share the goal of actualizing what is good for themselves. But the issue is far more complex than the OP presents it to be. To include epistemic uncertainty during times of choice making in terms of which alternative possibility is in fact the best option for satisfying the distal goal pursued.

    I’ll offer that what makes a good intention good is its ability to adequately satisfy a want when engaged in – this in the long term to the best of one’s forethought, if not also in the short term.

    Different wants, different good intentions (here meaning, intentions that best satisfy the given want(s)). A carnivore’s want to catch the herbivore will thereby hold a best intention (among alternative possible intentions) that is thereby good which is directly contradictory to the best intention, which is thereby good, of the herbivore whose want is to not be caught (this to not get into possible details concerning human conflicts).

    Only if there occurs a universal underlying want that is the same for all (e.g., for both carnivore and herbivore) will there then be such a thing as a universal good which the constituent minds of all previously mentioned vantages could in theory intend to actualize – this as best as each can within its own contexts even when there occur conflicts between more proximate good intentions (e.g., between what is good for the predator and what is good for the prey). Long story short, it will only be in this situation that there can potentially occur a consequence, or outcome, whose potential actualization would satisfy the wants of all. Such that an honest variant of what is themed "the greater good" is aligned with, at the very least, the long term personal good of all involved. More concretely, such that the good of established cultural mores (including the morals which the culture upholds) is itself aligned to this given universal outcome just mentioned, i.e. to the universal good (as an example of what this could consist of, to the ideal outcome of absolute fairness and hence of absolute equality of value) ... thereby making adherence to these cultural morals a more impartial good and deviation from them a more impartial bad.

    Notwithstanding, whether or not one upholds the possibility of such a universal good, the same seems to nevertheless hold as regards the OP: If one’s personal wants shall include the want of not self-flagellating, then any self-flagellation (allegorical or physical) will clearly be a bad relative to one's own judgement, a bad outcome which can thereby only result from (freely chosen, rather than coerced) bad intentions.
  • God and the Present
    That's a fair criticism to my response, although I wonder if it may be taking us off the track of the preceding discussion.

    I think it's very difficult to say what other animals may or may not "think" or what "concepts" they might use. I use scare quotes because the words "think" and "concepts" typically apply to our human thinking and concepts, with which we are familiar, but I don't know if other animals have the same sort of thing or something completely different, especially when you are proposing that they may have non-linguistic thoughts and concepts. Therefore, I am reluctant to apply what we have, and apply those terms that usually mean human cognition and human concepts, to other animals.

    I can very much respect this. Just so its said, the way I look at this subject is that, just as we can infer that lesser animals have minds, with some lesser animals giving all indications of themselves having a theory of mind, so too can we infer that lesser animals can in some ways hold non-linguistic concepts. But your are quite right in saying that further discussing this would take the thread off its current course.
  • God and the Present
    I would say, that traditionally the background is of entities. The entity is what is static, and changes occur to it. This is the traditional logic of predication, the subject accepts changing predications. The static aspect is representative of what does not change as time passes, what is continuous, and this is matter in ancient philosophy, and matter is the background.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm in general agreement. There was, however, the ancient philosophy of Heraclitus.

    What makes a thing a thing, is temporal continuity.Metaphysician Undercover

    True. I didn't want to define it by temporality, though, since it's temporality that we're trying to understand.

    If you define the past as absolutely fixed, and the future as absolutely unfixed, then we run into the same problem that I was showing with Luke's arguments when past and future are mutually exclusive contraries. There cannot be any overlap of past and future. Then, the nature of "the present" becomes extremely problematic. Since the present has to be a process (it cannot be a dimensionless point when a predicate changes to is contrary because this requires a duration of becoming), this time, "the present" must be completely distinct from past and future. But then we need to account for the process whereby the past becomes the present, and the present the future, and I think we'd have to posit some other form of time for this. It may become an infinite regress.Metaphysician Undercover

    To be clear about what I meant, I qualiified the perfect fixedness of the past with "for all intended purposes". Meaning that the past is not, as I interpret it, absolutely fixed.

    That said, I do hold that the future, not having yet been experienced as a present duration by any mind, is distinct from and in a sense contrary to the past, which was once experienced as a present duration by all minds concerned - such that, generally speaking, interacting minds will not agree on what the future will be but will agree on what the past was. Making the details of the past equally real to all, but not the details of the future.

    But I'm having trouble understanding how the past could ever become the present, or how the present could become the future. To my mind, the newer portions of the present duration perpetually incorporate the most proximal aspects of the future; likewise, the older portions of the present duration perpetually transmute into the past. Yet the present duration always remains the present duration: that duration of befores and afters which we experience with physiological phenomena. (I should here add, during waking states of being.)

    I think that these points of distinction are imposed pragmatically, depending on the purpose. For example, you intentionally qualified "past" with what is consciously remembered as past. That is just for the purpose of having a clear division. If we allow all past, then we have to deal with things like "sensory memory", which I brought up earlier.Metaphysician Undercover

    I prioritize the conscious experience of the present duration (or "moment" in the sense of a short duration) because I take the conscious experience to be the sole source of all epistemological givens of which we can be aware: including, for example, all knowledge regarding the unconscious operations of our minds, hence including our knowledge of sensory memory. And this ontological source for all givens we can be aware of, which is our consciousness, I take to hold regardless of purpose.

    So I so far don't find this epistemological prioritization to be a matter of confirmation bias.

    Here is where the problems present themselves. When you say "focus on", I consider this to be conscious effort.Metaphysician Undercover

    Not typically. Our vision, as one example, always holds a focal point (more technically, a "focal zone"), i.e. some given area of vision upon which we visually focus, which is itself surrounded by peripheral vision we don't focus on, itself surrounded by non-vision. Maybe obviously, without any sharp distinction between these three zones of visual awareness, so to speak. And all this occurs, typically, in manners fully devoid of conscious effort. When we're very attentive visually, this focal point becomes smaller bringing more details into visual focus; when we "zone out" this focal point can become so disperse so as to virtually blend everything into our peripheral vision; nevertheless, most of the time, our visual focal point, or that which we visually focus on, will occur without any conscious effort. The same, I believe, can be generally held for all other senses (with tactile perception potentially holding two or more focal points as the same time) as well as for our overall awareness in general. But getting into all this would be quite a chore. So I'll just let it be for now.

    Nevertheless, you bring up good points. My tentative, overall understanding of what you've written is that it addresses the issue of time by prioritizing physical matter over conscious experience. (I say "physical matter" so as differentiate it from the Aristotelian notions of, for example, individual ideas being the constituent matter - or material substrate - of a paradigm (with neither ideas nor paradigms being physical matter)).

    If so, our metaphysical outlooks will then get in the way of our agreeing upon the nature of time.

    But if I'm not misinterpreting you with the just mentioned, I'd be interested to know how you would address time in regard to prime matter? This given that prime matter, from which all matter as individual units develops, is understood to be completely undifferentiated in all ways.

    And thank you for the criticisms.
  • Enactivism and Eastern Philosophy
    I have to report that there is as a matter of fact a state of absorption sometimes called 'flow', which I have experienced, mainly playing music, but even occasionally in writing, and sometimes walking in the countryside. In such a state, there is no separation for the moment between self and world; the music is playing the fingers and the rhythm is breathing the time, I mean timing the breath: even as an audience one can become lost in music.unenlightened

    Good subject and nicely made point. I would quibble on “no separation for the moment between self and world” being, as I currently interpret the expression, a poetic truth. In other words, the sharp distinction between self and world – often, as thought the two were in some ways antagonists – vanishes in moments of flow. True. Yet it's a poetic truth in that there is yet technical distinctions between observer and observed – between the experiencer of flow and the immediate world that this experiencer perceives which is (or at least seems to be) fully unified with oneself in terms of one’s intentions and resulting activities. Such that what one does one then does in manners fully unperturbed by aspects of what one would in other situations recognize as one’s unconscious (e.g., in slips of the tongue) or factors external to one’s total self of body and mind. Hence, my quibble is that technically, because there is yet a distinction between that (be it deemed entity, process, both, or neither) which perceives and that which is perceived by it – granted, this being a distinction one gives no importance to in such moments – there will then yet be a duality between I-ness and non-I-ness, regardless of the extent to which this duality is momentarily reduced or otherwise harmonized.

    My poetic metaphorical language attempts to convey something that is probably familiar to most, so one does not need to rely on the authority of another. Bliss, because the habitual tension and anxiety of holding out against the world is gone for a while.unenlightened

    Agreed. In keeping with what I take to a possible interpretation of Eastern philosophies, such moments of flow as you’ve described can be deemed examples of moments in which one (maybe unintentionally) approaches – but does not yet obtain – the actualization of Moksha/Nirvana (in absolute form).
  • God and the Present
    My only critique would be that, on my own view, it is not our focus that causes something to become a thing or entity within our cognition; instead, it is the nature of language that requires these "units" or concepts.Luke

    Again, I don't see the problem as one of cognition, but as one of language. It is the constant, stable, static meanings/uses of words such as "present" which allow us to talk about it, but which does not capture the ongoing change that we perceive. You cannot step into the same river twice. The meaning of the word "river" stays the same, but the actual river is ever changing.Luke

    I think I understand what you mean. All, or at least nearly all, concepts we entertain are language dependent. The concept of “animal” is specified by the word, as one example, and this is an inter-agential construct: both as word and as the concept the word specifies. And our conceptual cognition makes use of language to manipulate concepts, sometimes to extremely abstract extents.

    With this I fully agree. The impact language has upon our cognition is overwhelming.

    Yet, I’m thinking that maybe there’s a difference in the way we understand “cognition” within the contexts I previous addressed. I intended it as the noun form of “to cognize”, with the latter here intending “to hold an awareness of” among with the term’s other meanings. So interpreted, conscious perception is then a form of cognition, for we cognize (gain awareness of) physical objects via our perception of them.

    I don’t find it credible that perception will of itself be fully contingent on language; though, of course, the language-specified concepts we hold will significantly influence that which we consciously perceive. If we in no way hold the concept of “a house” we will not be able to perceive a house when looking at something that is otherwise known as a house; we would perceive shapes and colors (etc.) that stand apart from their background but would not recognize these to be houses. I fully grant this. But consider that objects which we commonly perceive with lesser animals are nevertheless perceived as background-independent objects by all organisms concerned. Both a human and a dog, for example, will perceptually recognize a fleshy bone, and will deal with it accordingly to their own benefit. This though lesser animals are languageless creatures.

    I infer from this that very rudimentary, likely unthought of, concepts can be held in the complete absence of language: For, just as a wild dog will likely not be able to perceive, and hence recognize, houses (or, even more so, spaceships) due to not having any conceptual understanding of what these background-independent shapes and colors are, so too, I argue, would a dog not be able to perceive and thereby recognize a bone were it have no conceptual understanding of what bones are. In much simpler lesser animals, such as insects, one can then well assume that physical objects are perceived via species-specific rudimentary concepts that are fully inherited genetically. Again, this in the utter absence of language. I’m, for example, guesstimating that a spider doesn’t in any way learn what a fly is via some trial and error in the process of growing to maturity. This as a dog can be said to do in gaining cognizance of what a bone is – and thereby being able to perceive bones.

    If one deems the just mentioned to hold, then: To perceive X is to necessarily discern, or cognize, a unit – this, for lack of better words, within one’s focal point of conscious awareness. And language will not be essential to this process of perceiving. So, for one example: some more developed lesser animals (greater apes for instance) could then perceive, and thereby recognize, rivers as individual units (rather than processes) despite having no language by which to refer to the concept of "river".

    (BTW, this is to say that lesser animals will necessarily experience units (to which processes, such as running, can then apply). But it takes a human to infer that all of physical reality is in flux.)

    Don’t know if you’d find general agreement in this, but, if not, I’d like to better understand why not.

    p.s. Thanks for the critique.

    Good luck getting MU to agree that we can ever distinguish memories from anticipations, or the past from the present from the future.Luke

    :grin: Fingers crossed, there might not be significant differences between the given description and what MU experiences. But whatever differences there might be, I'm sure he'll inform me of them.
  • God and the Present

    I’ve been keeping up with part of the interchange between you two. I want to present the following overall thesis regarding the past, present, and future for critique, this since I currently suppose it to be in partial agreement with both of your views. Thanks in advance for any criticisms.


    By “entity” I here mean “an individual unit”. By “process” I here mean “continual change”. So understood, an entity is not a process, for in being an individual unit it is not continual change – and vice versa. Of note, an entity thus understood will not need to be in any way physical.

    There exists a process/entity duality (which in some ways is akin to the wave/particle duality of QM) in the operations of cognition. For one example, our cognition naturally, innately, perceives physical objects, or entities, set against a background – objects that we can cognize as sometimes engaging in processes (e.g., the rock (entity) is rolling (process) down the hill (entity)).

    All these experiences then result in our cognizing that everything physical is in an underlying state of flux, i.e. is process, or becoming. Yet the moment we focus on something it becomes a thing, or entity, within our cognition; and this applies to both perceived givens and concepts. For example, the concept of “running (as process)” itself becomes an entity (an individual unit) - linguistically, a noun – in the form of a specific type of process that we then can cognitively manipulate as concept.

    As a generalization, then, when we don’t focus on X we know, hence cognize, X to be process - but when we focus on X it then is cognized as entity.

    For cognition to in any way work, it is then absurd – or at the very least direly hypocritical – to deny either process-hood to physical reality or entity-hood to physical reality.

    Applying this to past, present, and future:


    In what follows, memory will be addressed as strictly signifying conscious memory – and not any form of unconscious memory which can be inferred to be required for our consciously perceiving, or consciously conceptualizing, givens.

    Our experiential present (be it specious or not) consists of a duration replete with befores and afters. To account for this:

    What we in any way physiologically perceive via all physiological sense will hold a certain quality as phenomena – a quality of phenomena that is by us readily distinguishable from phenomena we, for example, either recall or else perceptually imagine to occur in the future. In experience, this physiological quality of phenomena lasts for a short but immeasurable duration, a duration that is yet distinct from the phenomena of things we consciously recall and from the imagined phenomena we anticipate. This duration in which physiological phenomena are actual (visual, auditory, etc.) relative to us is then what we intuitively deem our experienced present.

    For the sake of argument, presume that this experienced present is for the average human an average duration of approximately half a second to one and a half seconds.

    Next, consider a conversation. We actively converse (hence listen and speak) with the other in the present. This extended present we experience can then include our replying after the other’s comment or the other replying after our comment. Generalizing from this and other possible examples: wherever there is any type of direct interaction between human minds, there will be a shared experiential present common to all minds involved – and, hence, a simultaneity of the present relative to these causally interacting minds.

    Notwithstanding, relative to all minds involved, everything that is consciously known about the past will be contained within the duration of the experiential present. As will be everything that is consciously anticipated about the future.

    Unlike the future, though, our recollections of past present-durations wherein we in any way interacted with other minds will always reference events commonly stored (here overlooking mistakes of memory and such) within the memory of all minds concerned. Hence, the past will be fixed relative to all minds that once partook of it when it was a (commonly shared) present duration. In contrast, the future – not having yet been presently experienced – will not be.

    As an aside, I’m one to believe that such musings could (together with other principles) be applied so as to formulate a theory of presentism wherein the past is for all intended purposes perfectly fixed and the future is indeterminate – a theory of presentism that parallels the theory of relativity’s stipulation that simultaneity is always observer-dependent. But I’m here presenting all this simply to provide better general background for the current purposes, this in terms of defining the present in respect to the past and future. (In other words, though I’m aware these given premises could be further enquired into, I’m only here presenting them for the purpose of the current issue.)

    We then know from experience that there is no measurable distinction between the future and the experienced present, with the latter always changing to incorporate what in the past was strict future. The same lack of measurable distinction holds between the experienced present and the past. So we know all this to be process, for it's all continuous change. Notwithstanding, we also know that the experienced present is always qualitatively distinct from all past we can recall (be it the past of two seconds ago or that of two years ago, etc.). Likewise with future present-durations which we can in part predict and thereby anticipate.

    So, when we don’t focus on the past, present, and future we know that these are all aspects of an inseparable process. Yet when we focus on them, each becomes an individual unit distinct from the others.

    Furthermore, when we focus on the past, present, or future, we then cognize each of these to be composed of befores and afters. For example, I am in this current duration of the experienced present writing this word before this one. Upon closer experiential examination, all these befores and afters too are perfectly devoid of measurable distinctions. Yet, when we conceptualize these processes of lived experience – such as by consciously or unconsciously ascribing causality – each before and each after will then be cognized as a distinct unit.

    Then, to represent these experientially cognized units we will typically utilize definite quantity, i.e. numbers, and can furthermore represent them geometrically via points – such as a point on a line that measurably distinguishes what was before and what was after the given depicted point on some visual record of our past.

    The mathematization of duration, hence of time, can of course be of vast pragmatic benefit (the theory of relativity as example; the use of seconds, minutes, hours, etc. as a more immediate example). Nevertheless, a) any such will be an abstracted representation of our lived experiences as previously addressed and b) any such will conflict with our lived experiences for the reason’s previously provided.

    Where would you find disagreement?
  • Information Theory and the Science of Post-Modernism
    And this flows with Gadamer's "Fusion of Horizons," theory very well.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Just checked it out. It strikes me as a very formal way of addressing what is traditionally meant by the non-euphemistic use of the term "intercourse". In other words, that course, or path, that so becomes on account of interactions and which all interlocutors pursue. We don't hear "verbal intercourse" too often, but that's what all communications consist of. As I see it at least.

    I actually think there is a ton of good work that can be done by mining the insights of continental philosophy and other humanities and attempting to put them into a framework that will play nicely with the sciences.Count Timothy von Icarus

    For lack of better current analogy, I find a tightrope in the empirical sciences between raw data empirically obtained and the (inferential) theories that accounts for the data. That said, for me at least, at the end of the day the empirical sciences are about validating falsifiable inferences via empirical observations. I often like to simplify the matter into the humorous story of: "Hey, I see X. Do you see X as well? Yea?, then lets see if others also see X. If we all see X, then X must be real to the best understanding of reality we currently posses. Given all the Xs we currently know of, whats the best way to inferential account for all of them? OK, that theory works better than the others. We will hold onto it until the new Xs we discover can no longer be explained by the theory. So our theories regarding what is real can drastically change over time; but the X's we've all observed and can still observe at will shall remain staple aspects of what we deem real."

    All that to say, I agree with what you've expressed. Bearing in mind that such very approach can be reduced to the humanities in so far as it is itself a philosophical understanding of how to best understand out commonly shared world. Hence, the philosophy of (the empirical) sciences. (As an aside, I'm very grateful for having taken such courses as part of my biological evolution studies in university days, offered by some fairly hardcore biological scientists. I developed better Cog. Sci. experiments because of it, for starters.)

    I think information theory and complexity studies in particular give us the language to begin a translation process. E.g., I'm also working on trying to put Hegel's theory of institution/state development, laid out in the Philosophy of Right, into the terms of the empirical sciences.Count Timothy von Icarus

    That is awesome! I'd like to have access to your work someday, this when you're ready to share it.

    (And of course, part of the reason for the gulf is the "linguistic turn" leading continental philosophers to begin making up slew of new compound words and phrases, so as to avoid "cultural taint," but IMO this has mostly had the effect of making them unintelligible to people outside a small niche).Count Timothy von Icarus

    I get that and I agree. The irony being that in my own work I haven't been able to find an alternative to using novel words for what I find to be novel ways of conceptualizing things. But yea, if one can avoid it, it's best to avoid so doing.
  • Enactivism and Eastern Philosophy
    Again, in my understanding of Taoism, the Tao and the multiplicity of the world are recognized as continually cycling, returning. Neither causes the other.T Clark

    I acknowledge your interpretation of the Tao. Thank you for it. I'll point out that there are multiple interpretations of the Tao.

    For instance:

    A central tenet in most varieties of religious Taoism is that the Tao is ever-present, but must be manifested, cultivated, and/or perfected in order to be realized. It is the source of the Universe, and the seed of its primordial purity resides in all things.

    Here the Tao (from which yin and yang emanate and, thereby, from which the multiplicity of the world emanates) "is to be manifested, cultivated, and/or perfected". The "primordial purity" of the Tao is then a priori to (thought not necessarily an efficient cause of) the mutiplicity of the world which the Tao's yin and yang brings about. Realizing this primordial purity via cultivation of the Tao, then, would in this case be a telos and, thereby, a teleological determinant of being by other words.

    But again, there are multiple interpretations of the Tao.
  • Enactivism and Eastern Philosophy
    Interesting thread. Is consciousness cognition? Or is cognition something one might be conscious of. Or can both be true at once, such that consciousness is recursively defined as consciousness of consciousness?unenlightened

    Aye, though question - with the meaning intended to these quoted words being crucial to any proper answer. All the same, I so far see both as true at once but in different ways. We can cognize that which is in some way other than us (as that which cognizes): these can include percepts as well as concepts.

    Yet at the same time we can be cognizant of ourselves as that which cognizes other. Here, the innumerable examples can includes one's own state of being as that which cognizes other as taking the form of being either happy or sad, of being either confident or unsure, of being either interested or bored, and so forth. The latter does not in any way stand apart from us as that which cognizes other (not in lived experience, not unless this lived experience is turned into concepts of self that one then analyzes). So, as to, for example, being certain as that which cognizes X, the experienced certainty and the "cognizer" which so experiences one's own certainty will in that one instant or more be in a perfectly non-dual relation to each other; will in that instant be the same exact thing or process (or both, or neither).

    Tying this with the thread's main theme, were a literally egoless consciousness possible to actualize in principle, such would then be perfectly devoid of otherness - but there is no cogent reason to then affirm that it would also be devoid of its "auto"-awareness regarding its own, here unperturbed, state of being. I interpret this to then be in-line with the often told description of Moksha or Nirvana as being pure bliss.
  • Enactivism and Eastern Philosophy
    I really don't know if that's true of The Embodied Mind book, in particular. That book, as mentioned, draws mainly from phenomenology and also Buddhist psychology, which is not physicalist in orientation.Wayfarer

    Ah, in terms of that one particular book, I have not yet read it, and I too am uncertain. In fact, rather, given its primary interests, like I believe you are, I’m fairly confident that nothing within this particular book contradicts the ontological tenets which would allow for Moksha to occur in principle. As I previously suggested, it is possible to maintain an embodied understanding of consciousness from within an idealist worldview wherein an ontically real soteriological end occurs (the Real, as some would call it). As such, one could then maintain an embodied cognition approach that is utterly neutral to ontological commitments. And my current hunch is that this applies to Varela et al.’s The Embodied Mind.

    One idea is that the brain simulates or recreates sensory and motor experiences when engaging in cognitive tasks. For instance, when understanding language, we may simulate the associated sensorimotor experiences (gestures etc) to comprehend the meaning better. It is combined with the enactivism that emphasizes the active role of the agent in shaping cognition. Cognition is viewed as emerging from the dynamic interaction between the agent and its environment, which is not, as physicalism presumes, a pre-given, independently existing domain of objects, but is more like the Husserlian 'meaning-world' or 'lebesnwelt', a world of meanings rather than objects. Obviously its main focus is not on eschatology or other such religious concerns, but I wouldn't describe it as physicalist in orientation either.Wayfarer

    Well said. However, I was addressing embodied cognition as they are TMK currently known within popular philosophical debate. Which, whether pro or contra these stances, seems to me to most always take for granted that cognition can only occur within a physical body (that interacts with other). I’m addressing the (it seems to me) implicitly given difference between “the occurrence of cognition can be thus embodied in a physical body” and “the occurrence of cognition must be thus embodied in a physical body”. When the latter “must” is implicitly employed, then all soteriological ends become logically nullified.

    That said, in having thought about it some more, maybe this is me reading too much into the current literature I’ve been exposed to? I can’t conclusively evidence what I currently believe to be true regarding the mainstream philosophical understanding of embodied cognition. Yet, I so far have not encountered evidence to contradict that this is the typical way in which embodied cognition is currently understood.

    I don't consider myself learned in any depth in Eastern philosophy, but I think the response of one who was adept in those traditions would be to reject the claim that Mokṣa is a notion or a concept in the first place.Wayfarer

    Yes, I can understand that, yet this at the same time reminds me of the saying “the Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao”: To speak of X is to necessarily have a conceptual understanding of X. A conceptual understanding will itself be other relative to that which understands it, and thereby necessitate a duality between I-ness (the personal act of understanding) and non-I-ness (that which is understood in conceptual form). So the Moksha which is addressed in speech cannot be the eternally real state of Moksha which, necessarily, is nonconceptual (hence, devoid of any duality between a conceiver and that conceived).

    From my reading there is a distinction made between “having gained an awareness/understanding of Moksha (as ultimate reality and soteriological end) – else, an awareness of Nirvana” and “having actualized the state of being which is Moksha – else, Nirvana – wherein all ego vanishes; i.e., having actualized the soteriological end itself). In Buddhist terms, the first is “Nirvana-with-remainder” and the second is “Nirvana-without-remainder”.

    So then, even the Buddha while alive had then only obtained "Nirvana with remainder" and not "Nirvana without remainder". As such the soteriological end of "Nirvana without remainder" was yet other in respect to the living Buddha. As such, the latter could then have only been a concept, or idea, that represented the nonconceptual actuality which is specified by "Nirvana without remainder".

    This appears to me to be no different than contrasting the reality of a physical rock and the concept, or idea, of a rock; only that when it comes to Moksha and Nirvana, the ontic reality addressed, instead of being physical, is among other things beyond space (e.g. any sort of distance between I-ness and other - including that applicable to what some term "cognitive spaces") and time (e.g. any before and after - including that applicable to, for one example, thoughts). So, if a soteriological end is ontically real (rather than being only conceptually real), than among the differences between its reality and that of a physical rock is that the former cannot be perceived to be real - but can only be understood to be real, this to varying extents.

    [...] Therefore existence is estrangement." Hence the theme of 'union' or 'returning' which is universal in all of the perennial traditions, but again, something that escapes easy (or any!) conceptualisation.Wayfarer

    I'm in agreement. Of note, the themes of "union" and "returning" can only be coherently aligned to this state of perfectly nondual being, in one way or another, itself being a soteriological end As such, the state of perfectly nondual being is then a teleological determinant, or teleological cause, but cannot - at least by this - be interpreted as an efficient cause of where we are. In other words, this state of being is an ultimate end, and not an ultimate beginning.

    There are millenia of debates about whether this entails some sense of continuity life to life, or whether union with or return to the One amounts to complete cessation of any sense of oneself.Wayfarer

    Depending on what one means by "life", I don't yet understand why the two could not both be true - were the soteriological end to be real. (Not life in the sense of biology but life in the sense of "He's dead inside" or "He's never been more alive" - such that, in this latter sense of the term, the One would be both the cessation of any sense of oneness (what is to be expected of an absolutely infinite being) as well as a state of absolute, or perfectly complete or whole, or even a state of perfectly wholesome life. The Good in Platonic terms).

    For instance, Howard Pattee in discussing origin-of-life, observes that: 'Self-replication requires an epistemic cut between self and non-self, and between subject and object. Self-replication requires a distinction between the self that is replicated and the non-self that is not replicated. The self is an individual subject that lives in an environment that is often called objective, but which is more accurately viewed biosemiotically as the subject’s Umwelt or world image'. (Notice the resonance with embodied cognition, not a coincidence.) But you also find explicit awareness of the 'self-other' duality in non-dualist philosophy, where it is understood as the root of the anxiety that pervades individual existence. Of course, the contexts of the two discussions are worlds apart, but I feel that they're both touching on the same deep issue.Wayfarer

    I fully agree. In my view, any cogent biosemiotics will hold the duality between I-ness / self and non-I-ness / other as the most essential epistemic cut imaginable. With all other epistemic cuts being extrapolated from the reality of this one.

    Maybe this is neither here nor there for this discussion, but as to Umwelts, I find it beneficial to distinguish between intra-real Umwelts (those each individual forms for themselves), inter-real Umwelts (those shared by two or more agents; e.g., a cultural worldview or, more biologically speaking, the genetically inherited aspects of cognition pertaining to an individual species (e.g., grass is green to us humans but not some other species of animal), and the equi-real Umwelt, which can only be singular (that Umwelt which is equally applicable to all coexistent agents in the cosmos). The equi-reality I here address becomes very difficult to explain in a constructionist-like manner - it certainly wouldn't be constructed by individuals but, instead, here laconically expressed, in large part by the unconscious processes of all coexisting beings which, as construct, then affects all agents in equal manners. All the same, devoid of the concept of equi-reality (a reality that is equally applicable to all and which is thereby in this sense objective) I would have very little understanding of how the following works as regards the total world (the same which the empirical sciences study):

    The self is an individual subject that lives in an environment that is often called objective, but which is more accurately viewed biosemiotically as the subject’s Umwelt or world image'.
  • What “comes or came first,” straight or curved lines?
    Curvature is always measured relative to straight lines, and straightness is the negation of curved. It's two sides to one coin. You can't have one without the other. — frank

    That’s self-contradictory. [...]

    The OP's question is like asking which came first, left-ness or right-ness? Up-ness or down-ness? The correct answer is, of course, that neither came first. The two can only co-occur as a dyad. This as @frank affirmed.

    Like left and right, or up and down, straightness and curvature can only make sense in respect to the other, such that neither is its dyadic counterpart.

    But you declare this “self-contradictory”. Though they occur at the same time as concepts of X and not-X, the two occur in different ways - rather than occurring in the same respect. The LNC is in no way violated, and so there's no logical contradiction involved.
  • Enactivism and Eastern Philosophy

    First off, thanks for starting the thread.

    For clarity, this portion of what the OP quotes has the following link in the original:

    Although debatable, these interpretations for example corroborate the construal of Nirvana as “transcendent consciousness” or, else worded, as a transcendent awareness devoid of I-ness – one that can hence be inferred as being beyond time, space, and the co-occurrence of observer, observing, and observed.javra

    First, with respect to enactivism and the whole 'embodied cognition' school. Let's not forget that [...]Wayfarer

    I’ve read Thompson’s Mind in Life with considerable interest. I’m of course also familiar with Varela’s and Maturana’s concept of autopoiesis. And, while I’m not steeped in the details, I am likewise aware of the Mind & Life Institute. So I know that Buddhism inspired considerable aspects of at least certain enactivits’ positions in respect to cognition.

    Enactivism and the closely related embodied cognition are vast topics in their own right. And they can be expressed as having presented somewhat of a shock to mainstream materialism. As for myself, I respect much, but not all, that I’ve read regarding these two positions. Notwithstanding, the pivotal metaphysical divide I presented in the OP so far appears to me to remain.

    Both enactivism and embodied cognition as these are currently known – neither of which is on its own a comprehensive metaphysical ontology – will tend to hold views that more or less correspond to the central tenets of physicalism. For one example, here, the cessation of the living body is inferred to signify the (permanent) cessation of its respective cognition - such that it ends in absolute nonbeing, or nihility. Hence, for example, the reincarnation of awareness is implicitly deemed to be untrue on grounds that each unique mind is bound to its respectively unique body.

    In contrast, in the worldview of idealism, the possibility of personal consciousness that transcends into a literally egoless awareness remains viable. And, for this to occur, there logically must then be a continuation of being subsequent to the death of one's body. Not only this, but there then must logically be a continuation of being after one's literal death of ego wherein I-ness completely vanishes.

    To be clear, my own view is that one can, at least in principle, have an objective-world-realism explained by an idealist metaphysics which, thereby, supports enactivism and embodied cognition for corporeal beings such as ourselves while, simultaneously, allowing for soteriological ends.

    However, were one to start with the affirmation that consciousness can in principle only be embodied and, thus, in a dualistic relation to other, then the soteriological ends of Hinduist Moksha and Buddhist Nirvana (together with the metaphysics on which these concepts are founded) so far seem to me to become logically negated.

    (I have more to say on the other points you've raised but will be away for a couple of hours.)Wayfarer

    There’s of course no rush. I look forward to your views.
  • Information Theory and the Science of Post-Modernism

    Because I don’t want to start a new thread on this topic, I’m presenting this as a tangential to the thread’s theme. Hopefully @Count Timothy von Icarus doesn’t object.

    [Moderator note: @javra - the remainder of this comment has been copied to a separate discussion as while it's a very interesting question and worth pursuing, it is very much outside the scope of this original post's intent in my view.]
  • Information Theory and the Science of Post-Modernism
    While the so called “scandal of deduction” is not something I personally find great interest in (primarily due to what I take to be the exceeding ambiguity, and possible equivocations, to what is meant by the term “information”), I can certainly respect your argument and agree with its conclusion. To paraphrase my understanding of it: The understanding of conclusions obtained from valid (or sound) deductions will always be novel to anyone who has not previously held an understanding of that concluded but who does hold awareness of the premises – and so will thereby bring about new information to such persons.

    I here however primarily want to champion this following affirmation, which some might not deem intuitive:

    When we understand messages we “bring information to the table.” The initial signals we receive are combined with a fantastic amount of information stored in the brain [I'd prefer to say, "in the unconscious mind ... which holds the cellular processes of the brain as it constituent makeup (as does consciousness)"] before we become consciously aware of a meaning.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Every understanding (else here expressed, “meaning”) – this as one example of what we can intend to consciously convey – which we seek to express to others via perceptual means (these most often being visual, auditory, or tactile signs among humans) shall always be understood by others via that body of ready established understandings which each individual other for the most part unconsciously holds in a ready established manner. This will of course apply just as much to all understandings others intend to express to us.

    It can thereby be safely inferred that, most of the time, the meaning we are consciously aware of and intend to convey to others via signs will end up in the other’s mind being a hybridization of a) the meaning we hold in mind that we intend to convey and b) the ready established, largely unconscious, body of meaning which the other is endowed with. And, so, in most cases it will not be understood by the other in an identical way to our own conscious understanding. Less often, we can feel, or intuit, that the other fully “gets us” – such that what they hold in mind is felt to be indiscernible from what we hold in mind – and we can corroborate this feeling by further interactions with the said other. Nevertheless, in all such instantiations, the meaning which is conveyed shall always be in large part dependent – not on the perceptual phenomena employed, but, instead – on the ready present, largely unconscious, body of meaning the other is endowed with.

    You’ve exemplified rocks. One can just as validly exemplify lesser animals. A typical dog, for example, can understand a very limited quantity of meanings which we convey by signs. But express the phrase “biological evolution” or that of “calculus” to a dog and the dog will hold no comprehension of the meaning one here would be intending to convey by these linguistic signs. The same dog might get you when you utter “good dog”, but the dog’s understanding of what this meaning is, for example, in reference to will be fully dependent on the dog’s largely unconscious body or ready present understandings.

    Which is to only further endorse parts of the OP such as the following:

    The information that signals are combined with in the brain varies by person and it varies according to the amount of cognitive resources that we are able to dedicate to understanding the message. "Understanding," is itself an active process that requires myriad additional communications between parts of the mind and the introduction of vast quantities of information not in the original signal.Count Timothy von Icarus


    At any rate, nice OP!
  • Nice little roundup of the state of consciousness studies
    And a "bit" is a binary digit, expressed as a mathematical ratio*2. Which, incidentally is the root of "Reason" and "Rational". :nerd:Gnomon

    Not sure how you intend the sentence I just quoted. But I want to clarify:

    As the Latin root of modern English “reason” and “rational”, “ratio” is the noun form of the Latin terms “reor” and/or “ratus”. These latter two Latin terms have multiple definitions (from "having judged" to "to consider" and a lot more aside), but all these definitions make indispensable use of discernment – by which I here mean a cognized distinction between some X and some Y that are bound by some relation (e.g., an object and its background), this regardless of whether one focuses on X, Y, or the relation between.

    As such, the Latin term “ratio” does not pivot on maths and computations – it certainly doesn’t equate to mathematical ratios in the modern sense of "ratio". Instead, this Latin term's meaning pivots on something far closer to discernment and, thereby, all that can result from and is implied by faculties of discernment (to include judgments, awareness of purpose(s), plans, and mathematical properties and relations, among many other possibilities).
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    In any case all of this is kind of a red herring given the subject of discussion was concerning self-contradictory argumentation.Janus

    OK. Point taken. To then better address the issue you’re pursuing:

    While I stand by the belief that the LNC is sound, it of itself is in no way prescriptive. If indeed sound, it is strictly descriptive of what is. So I so far don’t find that one can obtain an ought from the LNC.

    That said, I’ll present the outline of an argument for why self-contradicting arguments are bad. First some simplistically expressed premises:

    • Premise 1: The objective world is singular (hence, we don’t inhabit a world wherein two or more objective realities co-occur, if this is even possible to contemplate).
    • Premise 2: This singular actuality, or reality, of the objective world we all partake of is itself coherently structured so as to comprise a unified whole. (This postulate can become complicated by the possibility of ontic randomness in part occurring in the world. But, even so, this random aspect of the cosmos would nevertheless here be an integral component of the unified whole which will interact with non-random aspects of the world so as to, again, result in a coherently structured, singular, objective reality.)
    • Premise 3: The word “truth” references “conformity to that which is actual, i.e. real”.

    I get that these premises can be debated and that they might be too simplistic in present format, but in here tentatively granting them all the same, the following then results. Truths will in such world never contradict; this because the singular and universal actuality, or reality, which truths conform to is itself coherently structured, hence consistent, hence noncontradictory. By comparison, an untruth will always be that which does not conform to what is actual and, because of this, two or more disparate untruths will always contradict each other – as well as contradicting that which with is actual.

    Here, an expressed contradiction in one's reasoning will signify either that all but one of the contradicting parts do not conform to what is actual or that all the contradictory parts do not so conform. In short, a contradiction will here always entail a lack of conformity with what is actual.

    Conversely, an argument that is devoid of self-contradiction then givens no indication of being untrue.

    Further granting that what is sought is conformity with what is actual (that we seek what is true), then self-contradictions shall in this case always be bad due to always entailing untruths.

    That said, there are other goals that individuals can pursue, some of which will find untruths and the resulting contradictions quite useful so as best fulfill said goals. As one example, we can tell untruths to a murderer so as safeguard a loved one. As a more unpleasant example, we would not be able to understand the psychology to Orwell’s 1984 (complete with the Ministry of Truth’s dictums of “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery”, and “Ignorance is Strength”), nor find the story-line believable, were untruths to not be beneficial in sustaining autocratic power within everyday life.

    This is a rough outline of a general perspective I hold. In summation, contradictions always evidence untruths. But whether untruths are good or bad will be fully dependent on the ends which one seeks to fulfill. (That said, none of the contradictions here expressed which result from untruths will themselves be the logical contradiction which the LNC states cannot occur - in so far as hypocrisy and doublethink can occur despite the LNC nevertheless holding.)
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    In short, I don't agree with Einstein's assessment because if it is true that light really is both a wave and a particle, then the difficulty is not that that is a contradiction, but that due to our lack of some relevant understanding it is merely the case that it might appear to be a contradiction.Janus

    Remember, these are models of the quantum realm, models that have a very high degree of predictive value, but models just the same. In Einstein's quote, he doesn't say that reality is contradictory but that we have contradictory pictures of reality. This makes a world of difference in what is affirmed by him.
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    I will just point out that a photon being a wave and a particle is not logically equivalent to a photon both being and not being a particle, because it being a wave does not logically rule out its also being a particle.Janus

    TMK, a particle is localized thing with volume, density, and mass. Whereas a wave function is not. So a wave function is not a particle. And hence the term "wave-particle duality". Am I missing out on something?

    To corroborate my current understanding:

    As Albert Einstein wrote:[1]

    It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.

    edit: I get that a photon is considered massless. But wave-particle duality applies to mass endowed particles just as well. It even applies to some small molecules.
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    To say that something could be simultaneously wave and particle does not constitute a logical contradiction as far as I can tell. We might think there is an incompatibility between the two states, but maybe our understanding or imagination is just not up to the task, If it is a fact that something can be both wave and particle, then it is a fact, pure and simple.Janus

    This, I think, will depend on what significance one imports into the terms "particle" and "wave". If the LNC does hold, however, then one can not have a photon be both a particle (A) and not a particle (~A) at the same time and in the same respect.

    For example, it might be that the unobserved photon is neither spatially localized (particle) nor disperse fluctuations (wave) but something else that can account for both observations.

    That said, as to our imagination likely not being up to par, as I tried to previously express, I agree.
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    Indeed. I think reasoning serves a purpose.Srap Tasmaner

    I should add: so do I (multiple possible purposes). But we will likely disagree on the details. It was good debating with you.
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    Are you even sure you know what you're claiming?Srap Tasmaner

    We don't seem to share the same wants when it comes to philosophy. I'm interested to ground my beliefs on what is. If I can't currently fully explain all that is, that's OK by me - so long as my beliefs regarding what is are sound. I dislike forsaking truths because they don't fit in with the explanatory model I so far have. What I'm claiming, in short, is that the LNC appears to be sound. The possible implications of this take a very distant second place for me.

    What's the model of rationality we should aspire to? Flip-flopping and hypocrisy are fine so long as you don't contradict yourself? We're supposed not to contradict ourselves because it's a bad thing to do.Srap Tasmaner

    This is entirely an issue of ethics (and value-theory): what ought we do. As I think you're by now very aware of, arguments are sometimes engaged in with the outlook of "winning at all costs" - such that snide remarks and innuendos intended to humiliate the "opponent" are given in arguments by those who uphold the just mentioned ought. Whether this is rational or not fully depends on the goal one has in mind: e.g., to win and subjugate at all costs or, as corny as this might sound, to better discover truths and only then their likely relations. If one intends the former, then its rational to belittle and dehumanize the other. If one intends the latter, then it is not. But, again, this is an issue of what one ought do and, hence, one of ethics.

    p.s. the same then goes for whether contradicting ourselves in rational discourse is good or bad: it depends on one's overall goal in so engaging in discourse.
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    OK. That said, it certainly doesn't look like that to me.
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    I thought you were going to finish that paragraph with A at 0.7 and ~A at 0.7, which should also be impossible but is known to happen, at least when considering the implications of people's beliefs.Srap Tasmaner

    Sure. Its called hypocrisy or doublethink. But no one actively holds two (or more) contradictory beliefs at the same instant. Instead, one flip-flops between them while upholding both as true.

    As to doubting: One can choose to doubt anything, including what is is. But doubt, of itself, does not affirm, i.e. posit, anything.

    And then what is it the LNC actually applies to? Is it the non-verbal intellections of God?Srap Tasmaner

    While I don't share many another's phobias of the possibility of divinity, the basic answer is no more or no less then laws of nature, such as that of gravity. Which is to say, who the heck can conclusively answer this & by no means necessarily. It could be as much an uncreated "just is" aspect of reality as matter is to the materialist.
  • Aristotelian logic: why do “first principles” not need to be proven?
    es, yes, we all know you can make this sound more precise,Srap Tasmaner

    TMK, it’s the way the LNC has always been worded and understood since the time of Aristotle.

    Anyway - as an aside that I find interesting - wanted to point out that, as per Leibniz, the law of non-contradiction can be deemed entailed by the law of identity. As one example, one can word the law of identity this way:

    At any given time t, A can only be equivalent to A, this in all conceivable ways. (otherwise, A would not be equivalent to A)

    And then the LNC can be worded this way: at any given time t, A cannot be ~A in all conceivable ways. (which is the same as saying: A and ~A cannot both occur at the same time (i.e., simultaneously) and in exactly the same respect).

    Hence, if this holds, then to deem the law of non-contradiction inapplicable will then be to then deem the law of identity inapplicable; for, if the LNC is violated, then so too is the law of identity. ... Unless one engages in dialetheism.

    BTW, a belief that A which is held with a probability of .90 is not contradicted by a belief that ~A held with a probability of .10. Each proposition entails the other, for they address the same thing. The LNC however does affirm that it is not possible to hold a belief that A with .90 probability while at the same time holding a belief that A with .10 probability.