Comments

  • What is a dream?
    I'm speaking for the scientific research. If you want to believe something else, it won't change that.
  • What is a dream?
    The simplest answer is that being conscious of the world itself demands a constant process of anticipatory imagery. We have to forward model the sensations of what are about to happen so as to reduce the amount of things that are surprising. Even as you reach for a door knob, you are forming all kinds of expectancies about how the knob will feel as it turns in your hand and what will be the generality of what will be seen beyond.

    In a state of sensory deprivation, these kinds of anticipatory images will develop into highly detailed - but fleeting and disconnected - states of perception themselves. At a rate of every half second, one image will replace another, with a loose associative knowledge.

    That is why dreams seem a constant chase after meaning. You are still trying to make some kind of narrative sense of what is going on - fitting some tale to it. But as MU points out, Fred is never Fred as every passing image throws up a new scene.

    On this view, vivid R.E.M. dreams serve no great psychic purpose. R.E.M. exists to stir up the brain to near waking state so you will be ready to go if something does wake you up. The images are just what the brain has to do - fill in the blanks - because it is designed to generate a constant flow of anticipations and those become vivid when actually answering sensation is absent.

    You can catch that happen when you first fall asleep - hypnagogic imagery. The brain cuts off from the outside world and you immediately plunge into the bright light of some fantastical vision. But it lacks the narrative structure of a R.E.M. dream. That scrabble after explanation takes time to build its own confused history.
  • Are there things that our current mind cannot comprehend, understand or even imagine no matter what?
    So your claim is that we can imagine a class of things, such that we cannot imagine any element of that class?Banno

    Well yes, as you just did. :)
  • Are there things that our current mind cannot comprehend, understand or even imagine no matter what?
    The point is rather that the meanings of words aren't exhaustible. You could always contrive to find more. But then there also has to be some point to it. Meaning involves a triangulation between the world, the sign and a purpose.

    Imagination couldn't function unless vagueness was its basic feature. That is how we can be impressed when by contrast it seems we are pretty definitely conceiving of various things in "exhaustive enough to be useful" fashion.

    So in terms of your OP, the question would be whether this civilisation a million years hence is still using language in much the same way (as well as being neurologically much the same in the way in which they are biologically conscious of the world).

    Already - because we can use the language of maths - we do conceive of the infinite and nothing in ways that constrain their meaning in more definite fashion.

    So the question may be how much more could language evolve as a tool of precise thought in the next million years? Maybe not a lot if we just extrapolate from the speech and math we have - could their grammar or syntax become much more flexible or universal?

    So in some ways, the answer to your OP is trivial. We already know - from basic epistemological argument - that we should expect there to be known unknowns and unknown unknowns. But my point is that then - for speech acts - speech has the further power of counterfactuality. We can speak even of the unknown unknowns and say something about them in a way that is humanly meaningful. We can talk in ways that constrain them in ways we regard as useful.
  • Are there things that our current mind cannot comprehend, understand or even imagine no matter what?
    Yep, the complementary limits on the knowable. And as usual, limits are what knowledge may approach with asymptotic closeness, but - by definition, in being the absolute limit - never completely reach.

    Banno needs to make up his mind whether he believes in epistemological absolutism or not. He hankers after some form of pragmatism or knowledge relativism but keeps getting in his own way with experience-transcending claims.
  • Are there things that our current mind cannot comprehend, understand or even imagine no matter what?
    Rubbish. Even imaginable things are to some degree uncertain, vague or indeterminate in our mind. So we can talk about that which is by the same token the most radically vague, uncertain or indeterminate in regards to our imagining.

    We can imagine a zero, a big fat nothing. Yes, that imagining may be rather fuzzy on closer examination, but so is our conception of everything, or even something.

    It is simply the constraints-based logic of speech and thought that means all acts of imagining are in the same boat. What we take as enumerately imagined - some set of concrete objects conceived - is never in fact as concrete as we pretend. So whatever hasn't or couldn't be imagined is merely the same general thing, just at the other end of the spectrum in terms of it apparent (in)definiteness.
  • Philosophy, questions and opinion
    Why are you suggesting I said there was an opposition or a contradiction? My point was that there is a filtering or constraint that is core to the method.
  • Philosophy, questions and opinion
    Indeed, philosophy requires sophistry as a contrast.Mariner

    Yes indeedy. As I said, we can see the difference in arguing for a belief and arguing to a belief. It is not as hard as you make out.

    I could give an answer of my own to this problem, but the core of philosophy involves finding one's own answer and, as it were, picking sides between philosophers and sophists.Mariner

    That is the mistake. You say it is all about the personal when it is about the collective. Academia can promote individual intellectual freedom because there is then the collective judgement of the communal mind.

    You are promoting a romantic individual journey of discovery, but the core to philosophical method is that arguments get made and people remember those that seem the most worth considering. Just think of the way Plato and Aristotle spent so much time analysing what others had said.
  • Philosophy, questions and opinion
    it is much more like the attention of a lover to the object of his love.Mariner

    Hmm. But love is blind they say. Some believe we are meant to look past the loved one's flaws.

    And indeed, much of what passes for philosophical debate in these parts is a sophistic argument in favour of a desired belief.

    So how is philosophical method meant to distinguish between the use of argumentation as a sophistical prop vs as a true means of inquiry?

    And if you have "never" come across the advocation of scientific style reasoning before in philosophy - the triadic arc of abductive hypothesis, deduction consequence and inductive validation - then its pretty explicit in Peircean Pragmatism at least.
  • Two features of postmodernism - unconnected?
    On those two points, as you say, the idea that truth is socially constructed is a very acceptable and modern understanding. But where Pomo can go wrong is then in being too PC (or Marxist - the earlier incarnation of utopian egalitarianism).

    So yes, our world is socially constructed. But then in recognising this fundamental subjectivity, the philosophical project can be to discover the most objective point of view. Pomo argues instinctively for plurality and thus loses sight of the possibility that there is indeed a rational unity to be found.

    On the second point - opaqueness - I have no objection to jargon and difficulty. But I agree that Pomo often uses language in a way that suggest cleverness rather than actually delivering substance.

    The key trick is to employ familiar dichotomies - like love and strife or potential and actual - and treat them as self-contradictory paradox that radically undermines any possibility of unifying certainty. So because neither can be right, yet both are right, everything becomes just a poetic dance around the subject designed to make the writer look clever and the subject matter forever elusive. It can be talked about endlessly, and nothing settled can emerge - which is good if you want to dazzle the impressionable.

    So Pomo - not all of it of course, just the general tendency - is opaque because it has institutionalised a fundamental abuse of good philosophical reasoning. It's game is to tease with paradox rather than account via dialectical analysis.

    Then the other associated stylistic fault is that it resists giving concrete examples of the abstract arguments it pretends to spin.

    AP is clear as it is scientific in this respect. Here is the general theory, now here is the commonsense illustration that makes precise what I might mean. This is an example of a sound method of thought being institutionalised (even if AP can be just as wordy, muddled or trite at times).

    So writing skills vary tremendously. But well structured thought will always shine through. And rigour means developing a theory that is systematic (not a toying with contradiction to prove the impossibility of systematisation). And then that system of thought might be true or false - but that isn't a problem if you also argue your case using concrete examples. That is the evidence by which readers can test the strength of the intellectual edifice you wish to present.
  • Philosophy, questions and opinion
    This examination (which is the core of the Socratic "know thyself"), on the other hand, also follows rules. Closeness to the experiential basis. Sincerity with self. And reason, which is often taken as the core but which is mostly a method.Mariner

    I think this is a bit too feelgood. I would argue - pragmatically - that philosophical reasoning is just like scientific reasoning in being a method of theory and measurement. Or the stepping back (from the self, from the world) into an abstraction from where observation (of "the self" and "the world") is then concretely made. We form some idea that is philosophically general, then we test how well it seems to apply in our particular case.

    So a reasoning method - which gives an articulate basis to the self examination - is indeed the core. We step back in a formalised manner, one taught as Socratic method, so that we can return to the thing in itself, our own experience, with some clear hypothesis about what that experience should actually be (or how it should function pragmatically as a sign relating our formal constructs to the measureables we articulate - the factual results we then claim as what is the case).

    Philosophy is not a poetic free for all. It is a scientific method of inquiry. The difference with science is that it is not so demanding of the notion of empirical validation.

    As a discipline, it does not seek to close down "wrong avenues" of inquiry. What counts as acceptable measurement - like poetry, feelings, values - is as relaxed as possible to encourage the habit of speculation.

    And also, conventionally, the emphasis is on working out every possible formal variation of a possible theory. Like maths, there is value seen even in "abstract nonsense" as again dumb ideas might turn out to be fruitful after all. Crazy lines of thought are good if they are an exercise in experimenting with what sets of logical rules might produce.

    So philosophy is a science in depending on the same essential method - formalising constructs and then seeing what results from particularising our experience of the world, of ourselves, from within that constructed framework. It is then different from science in also seeing the value of giving human invention free range.

    It becomes a storehouse of every possible way of thinking about things - because who knows when junk might be useful. And who could know what junk looks like unless there was some place you could go an check out its vast variety. ;)
  • What are emotions?
    Given that human descriptions generally reduce to a dichotomy, or complementary opposites, what could be the psychological cause of this?Galuchat

    I'm not sure I understand your question. But we reason in this fashion as it is effective. Reducing our choices to a pair of polar opposites means we can act with counterfactual definiteness. There is simple clarity.
  • What are emotions?
    Certainly anxiety cannot just simply be reduced to physical processes like a churning stomach, an elevated internal temperature, shifty eyes, etc, for these are simply symptoms used to diagnose an emotional state, behaviorist black-box style.darthbarracuda

    In this case, the social narrative - understanding this variety of symptoms as a single feeling - is fairly accurate of the biology. We are naturally organised to respond to the demands and opportunities of the world in a dichotomous fashion - either relaxing or tensing in some appropriate holistically orienting and prepatory fashion. There is a sympathetic nervous system and a parasympathetic one. And we can be aware of all the telltale sensations of switching between the two - if we learn to pay attention to them.

    Of course we would need to know when we feel scared or hungry. Biologically we need sensations about out own state, as well as the state of the world. But then in the same way, a modern psychological take would want to get away from the resulting "passive representational dualism" of talking about the "us" that experiences "feelings and precepts" to an active or ecological framing of the way minds model worlds.

    So the OP sets everything up in the usual dualistic fashion - as if we are naturally observers of our own experiences. But biologically, we simply react to life with appropriate feeling. No mystery. And then humans have language with which they can socially construct a secondary narrative state of being. We can start to talk about "being scared" - and thus raise the counterfactual possibility of "being brave".

    That is, we can be quivering in our boots and yet choosing to act according to some different behavioural script - as if fear is what we over-ride in favour of a tougher socially-approved course of action.

    So the power of narrative is indeed to inject this "self" into the middle of our biological reacting. Counterfactual thinking becomes a new layer of response for socialised humans.
  • What are emotions?
    I understand this to mean that language defines our ontological commitments. And that would be a social constructionist position on emotions that I would agree with.

    When we are talking about feelings like fear or bravery, we are talking about our notions of "some thing" that exists with real substantiality. So already there are all kinds of grounding presumptions made by such talk. And higher human feelings like bravery are clearly more social scripts of proper ways to think and behave. So to the degree we believe in their existence, it is an act of creation in that sense.
  • Pleasure Vs. Avoiding Pain
    Obviously the game is to maximise the one and minimise the other. But given the future can only be guessed, we can't usually know the true risk-reward return and so we have to model some notion of our tolerance for risk vs reward.

    If you are rich, that might make you risk adverse. Or if you are acquisitive, then even being rich, that might make you risk embracing.

    So pain and pleasure seem a simple and direct dichotomisation of biological value. But from that simple basis, a complex world of Bayesian reasoning can arise. One could quite reasonably be young and foolish, or old and cautious. Our answer to the OP can be both founded on the same evaluative principles and yet also reflect the great variety in our individuated state of being.

    And that is just nature at work, doing its thing.
  • A beginner question
    You are talking about every triangle in realationship to having four sides.TheWillowOfDarkness

    Yep. So we can talk about the intersection of sets - {triangles} and {four sided polygons} - that then result in empty sets. It fits one view of set logic. But then more realistic is the thought that triangles are a subset of the polygons. And the particular constraint is that they have just three sides. Or even more importantly - in being maximally generic - they are the least sides a polygon can have in a two dimensional plane.

    So an apparently simple logical operation is in fact a flattening of the hierarchical complexity of an actual world (even the actuality represented by the idea of spaces enclosed by edges on a plane).

    A subsumptive hierarchy notation would make the point plainer - {n-gon {3-gon}}. Or putting it the other way around, given the world of a plane - constraint in two dimensions - the minimum constraint that has to be added to close those two degrees of freedom is 1 further. Or a rotation of 180 degrees. The n-gon, effectively a circle or 360 degree rotation, is then the maximum number of sides that can be used to enclose a space.

    So four sided triangles sound a logical nonsense because they are understood as a particular of set theoretic operation. But set theory is itself a metaphysically impoverished language for doing real metaphysics. Logical atomism's spectacular crash and burn was surely enough to demonstrate that. And perhaps you can forgive the survivors for walking away muttering, metaphysics, never again! :)

    Now one might point out the unrestricted "everything" is talking about possibilities, saying that our language may talk of anything. This is true, but what does it mean? Well, it isolates the specific possibility of what our language can say. In the sense that it talks about anything, it's restricted to a specific possibility. It not about an unrestricted "everything" at all.TheWillowOfDarkness

    Again yep. This is why a metaphysical strength logic wants to employ the further notion of vagueness, or the distinction between the radically indeterminate and the crisply individuated.

    Vagueness can never be exhausted by inquiry. And the good thing about that is it means inquiry doesn't have to exhaust itself trying.

    Theories of truth break themselves on the rocks because they believe the world is something definite and therefore every possible proposition has some true or false value. It's that AP disease. But as soon as you take the pragmatic view, everything changes. Truth only needs determining to the degree that a difference could make a difference.

    So that is a real economising move. Truth is only in question to the degree it might actually matter in terms of a purpose or finality. We can lighten up. That was Witti's Peircean point.

    On the other hand, we then need an objective model of finality - the purpose that determines what counts as meaningful. So that is the extra work that philosophy of language types never really got going on because they retreated into a commonsense realism about speech acts, thus completely avoiding the metaphysical issues which semiotics had already addressed.
  • Potential
    Still promising the satisfaction you never could or intended to deliver? Life is too short for those coy games.
  • Potential
    I would like a full answer. Not interested in cock-teasing.
  • Potential
    In what way was it not correct?
  • Potential
    I think retrocausality of some kind has to be the case. But TI does the usual physics thing of treating the transactions as a simple reversible symmetry. So the going forward in time is mirrored by a going backwards in time. It is talking of a material/efficient cause that simply swaps its direction in time.

    That kind of makes sense as it feels holistic - like seeing an emission/absorption even as a single "handshaking" agreement across time. The event is now a thermal relation like a length of string with two ends.

    But it isn't going to be holistic enough - which is why TI has probably languished. I think you need an interpretation which makes use of an actual asymmetry between efficient and final cause. So now what can act from the distant future to constrain the flight of a photon is the finality of a context. The experimenter, in setting up his quantum eraser experiment, is creating the finality which can then work backwards in time to have been constraining the photons flowing from that distant star the past billion years in the statistical wavefunction way so familiar from twin slit empiricism.

    So short answer: we have to accept retrocausality in some form, but really that just means accepting quantum contextuality or holism in the broadest sense. The bigger shift in interpretation is giving up on a world made purely of efficient causes (moving either forward or backward in time). Our idea of the world has to embrace the holism of downward acting contextuality or finality.