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Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 06:27 PM
Is it true, or false, that the modern conception of science requires that we hold there is a reality independent of the concepts that science builds, and those concepts are efforts to approximate or represent as best we can a reality that is in every way independent of our minds?

Say "true" if you hold that science as we know it just could not function without that core tenet, and that evidence in favor of the success of science is clear evidence in favor of the existence of mind independent reality.

Say "false" if you hold that science as we know it could function without alteration with no such core tenet, and that holding to the existence of a mind independent reality is a faith-based assertion that neither has, nor needs to have, any objective evidence-based support.

Noclevername
2014-Jan-03, 06:30 PM
I say the answer isn't a simple binary choice.

Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 06:31 PM
But if you were to hold "mostly yes", or "mostly no", which would it be, and why?

primummobile
2014-Jan-03, 06:40 PM
Yes.

Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 07:19 PM
I'll click on the poll on your behalf primummobile.

primummobile
2014-Jan-03, 07:26 PM
Ok, but I already did. :)

I think that the question is like asking if math is a human construct or a human discovery.

HenrikOlsen
2014-Jan-03, 08:59 PM
That poll lacks choices both for "Beer" and for "Puce".

Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 09:03 PM
Ok, but I already did. :)
Oops, sorry, then we have 1 extra "true."

I think that the question is like asking if math is a human construct or a human discovery.Yes, there are certainly similarities. But I think this question is quite a bit more straightforward, the answer is demonstrable.

NEOWatcher
2014-Jan-03, 09:13 PM
Why do I keep reading the title of this thread as "Does the scientific concept of reality require elephants independent of our minds?"

I think it has something to do with the combination of another active thread and the fact that they both sound like philisophical musings.
I vote Puce Beer if it's anything like pink lemonade.

Chuck
2014-Jan-03, 09:24 PM
It doesn't matter. If I'm hungry I need to find some food and eat it or imagine that I've found some food and pretend to eat it. Since I can't tell the difference it has no effect on my scientific reasoning.

Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 09:25 PM
I think it has something to do with the combination of another active thread and the fact that they both sound like philisophical musings.Philosophical,yes. I guess that's a "bad word" to some science-minded people, yet they hold philosophical views all the same. They often simply don't self-identify that way, oddly.

Noclevername
2014-Jan-03, 09:50 PM
Philosophical,yes. I guess that's a "bad word" to some science-minded people, yet they hold philosophical views all the same. They often simply don't self-identify that way, oddly.

It's the musings part that seems to be problematic. A simple philosophical position should be easy enough to identify. But if a philosophy turns into a Gordian knot of self-referential recursions, it's slipped over the line from "useful methodology" to "useless navel-gazing". It is no longer a philosophy of any practical value to follow.

R.A.F.
2014-Jan-03, 10:05 PM
That poll lacks choices both for "Beer" and for "Puce".

When there is a question re. philosophy of science, I've always found that beer was the best answer...

Solfe
2014-Jan-03, 10:26 PM
I answered no. Music, art and language are pure constructs of the mind and by extension so is math, philosophy, and science. They are not required to have a physical presence in the reality (but they can) to be subject to scientific inquiry. By extension, the scientific reality does not have to be "real".

I think our shared scientific reality is very functional, but it doesn't exactly reflect what is really happening. I think we are on the path to discovery after discovery, but there is no purpose to it and therefore no end to inquiry or examination of what think reality does.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-03, 10:26 PM
In a speedy visit to CQ, I am in time for elections... er, polls. ;) Well, being of a mostly contrary nature, at least according to the wife, I voted "no." Science does not require anything to be independent of our minds, or we wouldn't know about those things in the first place. Science, like everything else, is concept. Whatever is really out there is anyone's guess; mine is floating neoplatonic essences that have a really lousy sense of humor.

Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 10:30 PM
It's the musings part that seems to be problematic. A simple philosophical position should be easy enough to identify. But if a philosophy turns into a Gordian knot of self-referential recursions, it's slipped over the line from "useful methodology" to "useless navel-gazing".Yet all that could too easily be heard as "philosophy makes more sense if you know nothing about it, don't talk about it, and don't use your brain at all," a stance I find quite common around here.

Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 10:32 PM
I answered no. Music, art and language are pure constructs of the mind and by extension so is math, philosophy, and science. They are not required to have a physical presence in the reality (but they can) to be subject to scientific inquiry. By extension, the scientific reality does not have to be "real". Or put differently, we can define "what is real" to mean "what science gives us", rather than imagine the arrangement is somehow the other way around.

Ken G
2014-Jan-03, 10:33 PM
Science does not require anything to be independent of our minds, or we wouldn't know about those things in the first place. Science, like everything else, is concept. Whatever is really out there is anyone's guess; mine is floating neoplatonic essences that have a really lousy sense of humor.So far, the two people who said "no" can actually support their views. Interesting.

Solfe
2014-Jan-03, 10:39 PM
Or put differently, we can define "what is real" to mean "what science gives us", rather than imagine the arrangement is somehow the other way around.

What we see as "real" is very different from the reality of what it is and the results of what science tells us. Mozart wrote a lot of music. On paper, it is lost on many of us. To a computer or scientific inquiry, it is a collection of relationships. In the hands of musician, it is "Requiem". None of those answers really changes the fact that it burns just like any other sheet of ink-printed paper, which is exactly all it is.

R.A.F.
2014-Jan-03, 10:49 PM
Yet all that could too easily be heard as "philosophy makes more sense if you know nothing about it, don't talk about it, and don't use your brain at all," a stance I find quite common around here.

Your expectation of how philosophy should be "handled/discussed/whatever" on this board is irrelevant.


Aside...I do think that there should be a section of the board devoted to the philosophy of science...

Noclevername
2014-Jan-03, 10:59 PM
Yet all that could too easily be heard as "philosophy makes more sense if you know nothing about it, don't talk about it, and don't use your brain at all," a stance I find quite common around here.

How could what I said possibly be read as that?

swampyankee
2014-Jan-03, 11:24 PM
I think that the philosophical basis of science requires that there be an objective reality that is discovered, vs some sort of subjective "reality" that is invented. In my opinion, without that sort of assumption of an objective reality, the scientific method is gone: duplication of results is just shared hallucination.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-03, 11:38 PM
I think that the philosophical basis of science requires that there be an objective reality that is discovered, vs some sort of subjective "reality" that is invented. In my opinion, without that sort of assumption of an objective reality, the scientific method is gone: duplication of results is just shared hallucination.

That's the kicker, isn't it?

I think I am totally with the idea that we manipulate ideas about stuff more than stuff itself, but we need stuff to get going in the first place. What I would question is stating the two to be fully equivalent.

I say that hoping it's slightly heretical so Ken G will come and get me a bit. ;)

PetersCreek
2014-Jan-03, 11:53 PM
Yet all that could too easily be heard as "philosophy makes more sense if you know nothing about it, don't talk about it, and don't use your brain at all," a stance I find quite common around here.

Resort to not-so-veiled insults again and your reality may well include an infraction.

To others:

Fish take bait. Don't be a fish.

profloater
2014-Jan-04, 12:10 AM
Apart from the biological evidence that our minds are inside our bodies, and yes, music, and the power of mathematics which is an example of mind power with no apparent external form, and the untestable possibility that we are trapped in a matrix type mind control world and apart from believing that agnostic is the only rigorous belief system, and even though I believe an external reality of some kind must logically predate my existence, I must vote no, it could all be a wonderful dream.

Van Rijn
2014-Jan-04, 02:31 AM
I'm not too thrilled with the terminology. In my view, it seems to put "mind" on a bit of pedestal, and I have a few issues using the word, essentially because of the problem of definition.

But, as I see it, a human brian is a subset of reality, and what is generally called a human mind only exists because of a human brain. Further, everything we do is part of reality. So, reality and human minds aren't entirely independent, though human minds are a very small part of reality. Human minds wouldn't exist without reality, but reality certainly can, and did, exist without human minds. But it isn't clear to me what is exactly intended in the poll by "scientific reality" (as opposed to just "reality") and "mind" so I'm not sure if either of the options entirely fit my position.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-04, 02:57 AM
False.

The quest to uncover signs of an independent reality is a powerful motivator for humans.

There are no consistent logical arguments supporting the existence of an independent reality.

Humans are not always logical, or consistent, and nearly always require faith-based motivation.

Proper science however, is ambivalent to all faith based assertions because it eventually exposes the faith bias. It is utterly false to say it requires faith-conceived independent reality, in any way, shape, or form.

Alas, frequently practiced, opinion based science-fiction however, demands the existence of an independent reality .. it cannot function without it.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 03:12 AM
How could what I said possibly be read as that?I'm sorry, I overreacted to more what I interpreted as what you might be saying. (And note I never said you were not using your brain, what I meant was that I was having a hard time parsing the difference between "navel-gazing" and thinking.) So what were you actually saying? A caution against a certain brand of thinking that seemed non-constructive? Can you be more specific about what kind of thinking to avoid?

billy2
2014-Jan-04, 03:35 AM
falue

Science as we know it could function without alteration with no such core tenet, but evidence in favor of the success of science is clear evidence in favor of the existence of mind independent reality.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 03:40 AM
I think that the philosophical basis of science requires that there be an objective reality that is discovered, vs some sort of subjective "reality" that is invented. In my opinion, without that sort of assumption of an objective reality, the scientific method is gone: duplication of results is just shared hallucination.Let me clarify one point-- it is certainly clear that "objective reality" is the beating heart of science, but the OP did not refer to what is "objective", it referred to what is "mind independent." If one considers the process of establishing what is objective, in science, there is generally an important role played by the mind. This is true in any example you might name where an objective fact is being substantiated for scientific use. So the thread could just as easily ask, "does objective reality have to be something mind independent to perform the function it does in science, or could it be recognized as mind dependent and still perform exactly the same function?"

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 03:44 AM
I think I am totally with the idea that we manipulate ideas about stuff more than stuff itself, but we need stuff to get going in the first place. What I would question is stating the two to be fully equivalent.If you would hold to disequivalence, does it not require that you can specify the difference? In other words, is the burden to show equivalence, or is that satisfied by the absence of any established difference?

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 03:53 AM
I'm not too thrilled with the terminology. In my view, it seems to put "mind" on a bit of pedestal, and I have a few issues using the word, essentially because of the problem of definition.
If it would clarify the situation, I could specify better what I mean by a "mind." I simply mean the ability to organize perceptions and use reason, to think as well as to feel. Those don't seem like controversial functions of a "mind", though I'm not making any effort to parse differences between minds and brains or minds and consciousnesses or any of those tricky details. Let us simply interpret "mind", writ large, as "that which we do that allow us to think, feel, perceive, and experience, all the things we hold that inanimate objects cannot do, and lesser creatures can do only to a more limited degree."


But, as I see it, a human brian is a subset of reality, and what is generally called a human mind only exists because of a human brain.All right, that is the sense that you have made of the situation. Notwithstanding the issue of whether or not you can reason using your mind that something mind independent exists, let us keep focused on the question of this thread: does science need this stance? In other words, I hear you expressing your preferences about how to frame the situation, but I am not seeing evidence that science benefits from holding that stance. If the OP statement is "true", should there not be evidence that science does require that model of reality, or at least benefits from it in some important way?

But it isn't clear to me what is exactly intended in the poll by "scientific reality" (as opposed to just "reality") and "mind" so I'm not sure if either of the options entirely fit my position.By "scientific reality" I just mean the real elements invoked by science in the course of performing its functions, things like forces and electrons and charges and so on. Would you not consider those things to be part of "scientific reality"?

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 03:58 AM
Science as we know it could function without alteration with no such core tenet, but evidence in favor of the success of science is clear evidence in favor of the existence of mind independent reality.It sounds like you are saying that the tenet is not absolutely necessary, but there is evidence in favor of it, in the form of science's successes. Can you state any successes of science that would not be equally successful in a framework where "scientific reality" was a concoction of the mind, built to be consistent with things perceived by minds? Because the latter sounds pretty "mind dependent" to me, I'm not sure where I see the evidence for mind independence. I need someone to clarify that evidence.

profloater
2014-Jan-04, 10:20 AM
It sounds like you are saying that the tenet is not absolutely necessary, but there is evidence in favor of it, in the form of science's successes. Can you state any successes of science that would not be equally successful in a framework where "scientific reality" was a concoction of the mind, built to be consistent with things perceived by minds? Because the latter sounds pretty "mind dependent" to me, I'm not sure where I see the evidence for mind independence. I need someone to clarify that evidence.
A religious person points to ancient texts which they say were directly inspired as evidence. In many cases these texts are the only evidence. One interesting facet would be if the texts themselves contained predictions that could be tested. If that were so we might start to think there was external reality with agency.
One example I read as a young man was "esoteric wisdom" by Sennet. It was allegedy based on esoteric buddhism. It does sort of predict the cycles of civilisation and hints at the discovery of atomic power, written at the end of 19th C. However it is not as good as Jules Verne in my opinion!

caveman1917
2014-Jan-04, 10:44 AM
Your question is essentially the negation of "can a sollipsist do science?". The answer to that is "yes", so the answer to your question is "no".

Your question is also somewhat problematic since it presupposes the existence of a "scientific concept of reality". Science does not test for "reality", so how can a concept of "reality" be scientific in the first place?

loglo
2014-Jan-04, 10:54 AM
Philosophical,yes. I guess that's a "bad word" to some science-minded people, yet they hold philosophical views all the same. They often simply don't self-identify that way, oddly.

Carlo Rovelli made this rather pointed remark on Einstein and philosophy:-
"According to many contemporary physicists, this is excessive weight given to philosophical thinking, which should not play a role in physics. But Einstein's achievements in physics are far more effective than the ones obtained by those physicists."


I have a simple view of the matter. Science needs to keep track of its assumptions. Philosophy helps
work out what those assumptions are.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-04, 12:07 PM
The scientific method is immune to any kind of extrapolation of its models to a reality that may be conceived of as being outside of our minds - it doesn't have any opinion on the matter and doesn't require one in which to produce the models. The models do not depend on an external reality actually existing in the form we perceive it to exist, physics only requires our perception - it doesn't need to know anything about what that perception is, was, or where it came from.

But what may be more telling would be a question relating to the motivation of the individual scientist. I think that if Einstein was around today he wouldn’t be pursuing physics – he wanted a notion of an ultimate reality that could be accessed through science and hence mind independent. He always said that we could never know what that reality actually was, but I think he wanted it there as "something" solid waiting for him anyway. Without that goal I don't think he would have been driven. Once you admit to the mind as being part of science (and everything) then you lose the notion of a scientifically accessible notion of an "ultimate" mind independent reality.

So in this sense I can see the value of adopting an extrapolation of perception based models to independent reality in terms of a faith, faith drives many people to do extraordinary things. The problem is, I think the notion of faith that many scientists would perhaps be prepared to adopt as a path to follow would sit very uncomfortably as having parity with (for example) religious faith.

To avoid this unavoidable conflict, many scientists would dismiss the notion of a mind independent reality as being based on faith, but then we are faced with another problem – if its not faith, is the notion and structure of mind independent reality based on rational and logical thought?

So whilst the question refers to the effect such a conception would have on the nuts and bolts of science (which is clearly none), it could have an effect on the motivation of scientists and the desire of potential scientists to enter the field.

profloater
2014-Jan-04, 12:43 PM
I feel it is so that many, not all, scientists reject faith, as in faith in God, but fail to accept that faith in no God is another faith, and faith in external reality arises from one or the other of those two polarised points of view. Birds of a feather flock together so most people feel reassured by their received consensus. Reason and the desire for logic and the notion of cause and effect have seduced many into the assumption of independent reality without realising it is an assumption. Socrates, if I understand him correctly, was on to it when he said "What do you know?" He meant how to you separate knowledge from belief. Most of the time we can get on with life, including science without worrying about that basic assumption. Very few nowadays believe their mind is somehow generated externally. That is different from evolution of brain, evolution of mind within brain. Yet the simple acceptance that mind is brain based must mean that external reality is a working hypothesis, or a working theory in accordance with the scientific method.

Solfe
2014-Jan-04, 02:16 PM
To paraphrase the Good Book, "I don't care what you believe, just believe in something, Mal." Most people want a whole system of belief, but many people do just fine believing in grandma, the dog and the endeavors they peruse, "reality" can just take care of itself.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 03:26 PM
Your question is essentially the negation of "can a sollipsist do science?". The answer to that is "yes", so the answer to your question is "no".
Yes, I would argue the "correct" answer to the OP is demonstrably "no" (although no solipsism is required, but that's a rather detailed point that is probably not worth going into here, the stance could have been solipsistic and the theorem follows just as well.) Given that, it is interesting how many people say "yes." I think what is happening is, people are applying their own interpretation of what science means, and then holding that science requires that interpretation, even though none of them can actually point to an aspect of science that really does require that interpretation! It's a classic example of what happens when a faith-based belief goes "underground", and it is also the problem that crops up when scientists try to talk evolution with creationists. When some beliefs are held as "sacrosanct", like the need for a mind independent reality to underpin science, it acts as a barrier to any kind of consensus or progress on the topic. The solution is unearth the beliefs, and recognize them as such, without removing anyone's right to hold a belief, even if they cannot support it with evidence.


Your question is also somewhat problematic since it presupposes the existence of a "scientific concept of reality". Science does not test for "reality", so how can a concept of "reality" be scientific in the first place?
As mentioned above, what I mean by the "scientific concept of reality" is the ontological elements that scientific theories use and scientific observations test. Things like atoms, forces, fields, laws, etc. There is no need to debate if these things are real or not-- science doesn't care, all that matters is we know what I am talking about when I invoke the phrase. Looking deeper, we should see that "reality" is not something handed to us anyway, it is a word, our word, so it is whatever we say it is. Ergo, science has no need to "test for reality" (that's why the answer to the OP is demonstrably "no"), yet scientists can decide what they mean when they refer to reality. That decision is a consensus that science requires, but metaphysical additions to it are of a personal nature, and are not required for science to be effective.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-04, 04:08 PM
If you would hold to disequivalence, does it not require that you can specify the difference? In other words, is the burden to show equivalence, or is that satisfied by the absence of any established difference?

I think I could never specify the difference because there is no way to tell or demonstrate it, so I guess there is no burden, and no established nor establishable(?) difference.


So in this sense I can see the value of adopting an extrapolation of perception based models to independent reality in terms of a faith, faith drives many people to do extraordinary things. The problem is, I think the notion of faith that many scientists would perhaps be prepared to adopt as a path to follow would sit very uncomfortably as having parity with (for example) religious faith.

To avoid this unavoidable conflict, many scientists would dismiss the notion of a mind independent reality as being based on faith, but then we are faced with another problem – if its not faith, is the notion and structure of mind independent reality based on rational and logical thought?

So whilst the question refers to the effect such a conception would have on the nuts and bolts of science (which is clearly none), it could have an effect on the motivation of scientists and the desire of potential scientists to enter the field.

One major beef I have with the arguments equating faith in science and religion is that there's a semantic problem with the word "faith" here.

Scientific faith: provisional trust in an explanation as more accurate than competing explanations, with these always relating to the natural world, a closed and testable realm explorable by subjective consensus (as perceived and dealt with by minds.)
Religious faith: trust, often absolute, in explanations that mix natural and supernatural worlds, the latter utterly unexplorable, making its propositions untestable and, at times, contradictory with the workings of the natural world as described by science and/or experience.


Nothing wrong with your "faith," as it has nothing to do with the other variety. I prefer "subscribe to the view that blah, blah" for science, and plain "faith" for religion.

[ETA: To avoid offending those who subscribe to the second, I only wish to state that the propositions are untestable, arguing neither for nor against any specific faith systems nor tenets. Little too close to the rules here for comfort; reason for post is to clarify definitions, not open can of worms.]

Len Moran
2014-Jan-04, 04:47 PM
One major beef I have with the arguments equating faith in science and religion is that there's a semantic problem with the word "faith" here.

Scientific faith: provisional trust in an explanation as more accurate than competing explanations, with these always relating to the natural world, a closed and testable realm explorable by subjective consensus (as perceived and dealt with by minds.)
Religious faith: trust, often absolute, in explanations that mix natural and supernatural worlds, the latter utterly unexplorable, making its propositions untestable and, at times, contradictory with the workings of the natural world as described by science and/or experience.


Nothing wrong with your "faith," as it has nothing to do with the other variety. I prefer "subscribe to the view that blah, blah" for science, and plain "faith" for religion.


I suppose the faith in science that I refer to actually has in a sense nothing to do with science as practiced and tested. The faith concerns the notion and structure of mind independent reality and how we relate our experience to that arena. We don't have to use science in that context - I have here because that was the nature of the question. But the context of faith is equally appropriate if I substitute the well known rock in place of science - it seems to be a matter of pure faith to enact any correspondence the mind dependent rock has with what the rock actually is within mind independent reality. (unless of course someone can properly challenge the premise that rational and logical thought can say nothing about the notion and structure of mind independent reality, but we are still waiting on that). So in this sense, I think that the faith I associated with science and its applicability to mind independent reality follows very closely your definition of religious faith.

On the other hand I have a feeling that perhaps I am not fully understanding the context of what you are saying in the extract above. Perhaps you could clarify for me in the light of what I have just written.

Cougar
2014-Jan-04, 05:32 PM
Things like atoms, forces, fields, laws, etc. There is no need to debate if these things are real or not-- science doesn't care, all that matters is we know what I am talking about when I invoke the phrase. Looking deeper, we should see that "reality" is not something handed to us anyway....

So you're saying any "reality" we might come up with is going to be biased because of the positioning of our perception in that reality? Or just that we decide what we consider reality to be? Or as Nick Herbert said....?



"Electrons cannot really be said to have dynamic attributes [position, momentum, etc.] of their own. What attributes they seem to have depends on how we choose to analyze them... "

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 05:40 PM
I think I could never specify the difference because there is no way to tell or demonstrate it, so I guess there is no burden, and no established nor establishable(?) difference.So if science cannot establish the difference, does science need to recognize that difference, in order to function as science?

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 05:43 PM
So you're saying any "reality" we might come up with is going to be biased because of the positioning of our perception in that reality? Or just that we decide what we consider reality to be? The latter. Since I hold that "reality" is our word, and a tool of science, it doesn't make sense to define it in such a way that we have no access to it due to bias. Bias is about the difficulties in establishing a consensus view of reality, but the reality we seek is that consensus view ("objective" reality)-- it is not something we have no access to, it is something we do have access to, using science. But all this is demonstrably using our minds in the process, there is no requirement to establish anything mind independent, nor does science have any tool to establish such a thing.

Or as Nick Herbert said....?



"Electrons cannot really be said to have dynamic attributes [position, momentum, etc.] of their own. What attributes they seem to have depends on how we choose to analyze them... "
Yes, quantum mechanics is a place where we become even more poignantly aware of these issues, but we really had all the same issues in classical physics too. It was just easier to ignore them, they seem to matter more in quantum mechanics.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-04, 06:04 PM
So if science cannot establish the difference, does science need to recognize that difference, in order to function as science?

No, not for science to function as science, I'd venture. But wouldn't you say that philosophy needs to be mindful of the difference in order to function as such?

caveman1917
2014-Jan-04, 06:43 PM
although no solipsism is required

It's certainly not required, but putting the question that way makes answering it a lot easier.


Given that, it is interesting how many people say "yes."

It could be a selection bias. People who already know the answer might be less inclined to spend their time answering polls / responding to threads where they except no utility from - already knowing the answer.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 07:06 PM
No, not for science to function as science, I'd venture. But wouldn't you say that philosophy needs to be mindful of the difference in order to function as such?Maybe yes, maybe no-- that's another thread! The OP set out a specific question, and it sounds like you are voting "no... false". Is that correct? I just want to keep this thread focused on that, if we bring in more philosophical issues it could turn into a very different discussion.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 07:08 PM
It's certainly not required, but putting the question that way makes answering it a lot easier.
Yes, I agree with you, though I'm not sure those who answered "true" would agree. As soon as you mention solipsism, it serves as a kind of barrier to discussion, because they might not see your point that one does not have to be a proponent of solipsism to use it as a device in a logical argument. So you make a valid point, a proof really, I'm just explaining why I have shied away from that approach to the proof!


It could be a selection bias. People who already know the answer might be less inclined to spend their time answering polls / responding to threads where they except no utility from - already knowing the answer.Possibly-- but maybe not! Many are willing to share of their knowledge, even if they think they already have the answer. I do think it is possible that most science-minded people accept as an article of faith that science needs a concept of mind independent reality, but they have not subjected that article of faith to enough critical examination to be able to identify it as such-- so that motivates this thread. Indeed, many don't even want to so subject it, which reminds me of the approach of a very different camp of believers.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-04, 07:10 PM
Maybe yes, maybe no-- that's another thread! The OP set out a specific question, and it sounds like you are voting "no... false". Is that correct? I just want to keep this thread focused on that, if we bring in more philosophical issues it could turn into a very different discussion.

Me vote no.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 07:16 PM
And I would have voted no also, but I made a mistake and used my vote spuriously early in the thread before I thought anyone else had voted. What this means is, right now the count stands 8 to 6, but it should really be 7 to 7. An interesting state of affairs-- at present, the issue balances on the precipice!

Len Moran
2014-Jan-04, 07:28 PM
And I would have voted no also, but I made a mistake and used my vote spuriously early in the thread before I thought anyone else had voted. What this means is, right now the count stands 8 to 6, but it should really be 7 to 7. An interesting state of affairs-- at present, the issue balances on the precipice!

I had forgotten to vote - so there's another no.

Durakken
2014-Jan-04, 07:28 PM
Science doesn't require mind independent reality... the mind could simply be generating the world around us and our subconscious is keeping various information from us. That is precisely how video games work. The system knows everything that is going on but only gives you, the consciousness, information at your immediate position.

It's also wouldn't be all that unexpected that if a human mind was left to its own devices that it would create an imaginary universe and block itself off from realizing that it is imaginary... it happens all the time to a lesser extent to people who are mentally ill.

Regardless of how the system is ran, the rules that govern us are as though there is a mind independent reality and that is how science operates. It could be true that there is a god or that there isn't one at all. science operates that regardless of that being the case the universe follows basic rules that we can learn and exploit. The fact that this works consistently is evidence that that there is no god, but it is not conclusive as a god could very well just have made the universe like this and any changes it has made that would break the rules is not apparent to us...

So again... science doesn't "need" mind independent reality, but works on the premise that whether there is or not the reality we work within follows rules.

R.A.F.
2014-Jan-04, 07:50 PM
I feel it is so that many, not all, scientists reject faith, as in faith in God, but fail to accept that faith in no God is another faith...

I assume since no one here has flat out disagreed with the above, that everyone agrees with it.


....well I don't...

Chuck
2014-Jan-04, 07:55 PM
Maybe no one wants to get suspended.

Solfe
2014-Jan-04, 08:00 PM
I assume since no one here has flat out disagreed with the above, that everyone agrees with it.


....well I don't...

I can't agree or disagree. It is sort of loose and fast with the meaning of "faith", "science" and "rejection". It also toys with assumptions about god, spirituality, etc. You can have faith and be faithful without having any particular beliefs.

I am starting to get the feeling this whole discussion is a little too binary.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-04, 08:07 PM
I feel it is so that many, not all, scientists reject faith, as in faith in God, but fail to accept that faith in no God is another faith…I assume since no one here has flat out disagreed with the above, that everyone agrees with it.

....well I don't...Hmm .. interesting …

I see many folk arguing science from the basis of believing what it has to say is the truth.

Isn't that the same as 'faith'?

Selfsim
2014-Jan-04, 08:13 PM
… You can have faith and be faithful without having any particular beliefs. I can't go with that one ..

Where there is meaning, there is belief … that belief may not necessarily be about the topic in question, but if someone is pressed for their belief about that topic .. they have been virtually forced into adopting some kind of belief related to the topic, no?

But I digress .. the thread is about whether or not science requires a mind independent reality ..

R.A.F.
2014-Jan-04, 08:15 PM
Maybe no one wants to get suspended.

I literally spent the whole morning trying to decide how to address this without breaking board rules, ie. discussing religion...something that shouldn't be a concern in the babbling section of the board.

Durakken
2014-Jan-04, 08:27 PM
I assume since no one here has flat out disagreed with the above, that everyone agrees with it.


....well I don't...

As simplistic as possible...
A scientist who does not use the scientific method is not a scientist. Believing something to be the case or even likely to be the case with no evidence or in fact evidence to the contrary is unscientific against several fundamental positions of modern science and is actually psychologically known as a delusion. I'm not saying anything "religious" I am saying factually, that if you believe something without evidence you are not a scientist and are deluded. Whether that be thinking that there is a monster under your bed, whether the NSA is out to get you, or whether there is a god or not.

The fundamental position of modern science is the "null hypothesis"... That is to say that you do not believe something less there is evidence for it. ie if you say there is a cow in the bathroom the proper position is to take is that there isn't whether there is or not as long as there is no evidence that there is. One might say that this is a faith position, the null hypothesis itself. However, it has been shown many many times throughout history that believing that things are true and expecting someone to prove it false results in less accuracy than the null hypothesis and therefor isn't faith based as it is supported by argument and evidence.

In short. Faith is antithetical to science and science rules out faith as a good way of figuring things out. Whether there is a god or not does not matter one bit to this. Those who do believe things based on faith are wrong to do so, whether they claim there is a god or claim there is no god or whether they claim x religion is right or x religion is wrong. If they take it on faith they are doing something wrongful. It says nothing of whether what they are saying is right or wrong. For example, if I said there is life on some planet out there, it's wrong, even if more than likely it is true, because I am saying something without evidence as a fact. That is not to say that the facts lead one to believe x is the case.

There is a confusion there...unfortunately so few people care that it is a confusion of language and not a confusion of reality because that confusion actually hampers people from taking the right positions which science tries to do.

R.A.F.
2014-Jan-04, 08:42 PM
As simplistic as possible...

Ok...I'm done here....

Chuck
2014-Jan-04, 08:52 PM
We might all be done here.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-04, 08:58 PM
As simplistic as possible...
A scientist who does not use the scientific method is not a scientist. Believing something to be the case or even likely to be the case with no evidence or in fact evidence to the contrary is unscientific against several fundamental positions of modern science and is actually psychologically known as a delusion. I'm not saying anything "religious" I am saying factually, that if you believe something without evidence you are not a scientist and are deluded. Whether that be thinking that there is a monster under your bed, whether the NSA is out to get you, or whether there is a god or not.

The fundamental position of modern science is the "null hypothesis"... That is to say that you do not believe something less there is evidence for it. ie if you say there is a cow in the bathroom the proper position is to take is that there isn't whether there is or not as long as there is no evidence that there is. One might say that this is a faith position, the null hypothesis itself. However, it has been shown many many times throughout history that believing that things are true and expecting someone to prove it false results in less accuracy than the null hypothesis and therefor isn't faith based as it is supported by argument and evidence.

In short. Faith is antithetical to science and science rules out faith as a good way of figuring things out. Whether there is a god or not does not matter one bit to this. Those who do believe things based on faith are wrong to do so, whether they claim there is a god or claim there is no god or whether they claim x religion is right or x religion is wrong. If they take it on faith they are doing something wrongful. It says nothing of whether what they are saying is right or wrong. For example, if I said there is life on some planet out there, it's wrong, even if more than likely it is true, because I am saying something without evidence as a fact. That is not to say that the facts lead one to believe x is the case.

There is a confusion there...unfortunately so few people care that it is a confusion of language and not a confusion of reality because that confusion actually hampers people from taking the right positions which science tries to do.Language conveys meaning.

Both language and meaning are mind dependent.

Objective reality has also been conceived by the mind .. there's nothing I can see which is independent of the mind here (including the scientific process or its varying consensus).

Durakken
2014-Jan-04, 09:04 PM
What I said is not religious. If you want to take it as such that is your problem. Like I said it applies equally to those who make the statement there is no cow in the bathroom. To say that it is a fact without evidence is wrong in every context of the way we mean wrong. What the answer is has no baring on the fact that faith is anti-science, anti-logic, anti-skepticism, anti-truth, anti-justice and is why we stopped operating like that (well, most western societies anyways...). Whether the actual belief is right or wrong and moral or immoral is a whole other discussion which would have to do with religion, but whether you have faith in anything has nothing to do with religion and therefor my post keeps with the rules so :P

Durakken
2014-Jan-04, 09:06 PM
Language conveys meaning.

Both language and meaning are mind dependent.

Objective reality has also been conceived by the mind .. there's nothing I can see which is independent of the mind here (including the scientific process or its varying consensus).

ok >.> How that relates I dunno, but if you want to make comments about what i said on the actual topic go find my first post rather than replying to something that is replying to a tangent that has nothing to do with the actual topic v.v

Solfe
2014-Jan-04, 09:21 PM
I can't go with that one ..

Where there is meaning, there is belief … that belief may not necessarily be about the topic in question, but if someone is pressed for their belief about that topic .. they have been virtually forced into adopting some kind of belief related to the topic, no?

But I digress .. the thread is about whether or not science requires a mind independent reality ..

I think I am wandering more than a bit. My apologies.

Chuck
2014-Jan-04, 09:25 PM
If what I think of as a tree in my front yard is really the image of a tree being generated by my own brain, that portion of my brain is not under the control of my consciousness. I can imagine a short tree or a tall one and do thought experiments with different kinds of trees, but the one I think I see can't be manipulated or gotten rid of. Does that make it external to my mind even though it's being generated by my brain? If so, then I can claim that there really is a tree and I just don't know its true nature.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 09:44 PM
I'm not saying anything "religious" I am saying factually, that if you believe something without evidence you are not a scientist and are deluded.I would agree with part of that, but not the full enchilada. It is true that someone who believes something without evidence is not being a scientist in regard to that belief, but they can still be a scientist, because they can regard science as having a particular area of applicability. We do not require scientists to take an oath "all science all the time", yet we still regard them as scientists if they do science within the proper arena. Also, to believe something without evidence is not the same thing as a delusion, a delusion is to fail to make the distinction between what has evidence and what does not. Someone who believes in garden faeries is not deluded if they recognize that this is just something they have chosen, for whatever personal reason, to believe in-- that is not deluded at all. Indeed, we may question why they would want to have that belief in the absence of any evidence, but in my view that person is actually less deluded than someone who believes in something (say, mind independent reality), but does not make the distinction between that and evidence-based conclusions about testable outcomes. If they think that their belief in mind independent reality is an evidence-based requirement of scientific thought, even though they cannot actually point to evidence that is anything more than a reaffirmation of their core belief, then they have entered into a kind of pretense that may even rise to the level of delusion.


The fundamental position of modern science is the "null hypothesis"... That is to say that you do not believe something less there is evidence for it.Careful, you are asserting that science is a system for deciding about what to believe in. But a religion is a system for that, so you are casting science as an alternative to religion that performs the same basic function. I think that is not a good way to frame the goals of science, science is a system for making sense of the objective elements of reality. This is the whole importance of recognizing that the output of science is mind-dependent models of reality, not a belief system. For example, I use Newton's law of gravity all the time, but I do not believe that it is the truth, I believe that it has proven its effectiveness. I don't need Newton's gravity to help me structure a belief system about how gravity actually works, I need it to give me simple models that will produce close enough approximations to however gravity actually works.

It reminds me of one time I was asked if I "believed in" dark matter. I was at a loss for a moment, I couldn't see the relevance of the question. Who cares if I believed in dark matter, none of my astronomy training helps me decide that. My astronomy training only helps me see the value in the dark matter model. So I had to answer "I see the value in that model, but that doesn't sound like asserting that I believe in dark matter." The fact is, I don't "believe in" any aspect of science, other than the effectiveness of the process for accomplishing its goals-- and that is an evidence-based belief, not a faith-based one (to enforce a somewhat artificial but important distinction). I only ever "put my faith in science" to the extent that it has provided evidence in support of that faith, whereas a "leap of faith" would be to apply science to things it has never demonstrated any such effectiveness in (like, for the purposes of generating an untestable belief system).


In short. Faith is antithetical to science and science rules out faith as a good way of figuring things out.I agree that science does not invoke faith in the way you mean, so it has "no truck with it", though it may perhaps be going too far to say that makes it "antithetical." A scientist may choose to apply science in one situation, and faith in another, especially in situations where science provides no demonstrated effectiveness. The important thing is to recognize the differences.

Ken G
2014-Jan-04, 09:55 PM
If what I think of as a tree in my front yard is really the image of a tree being generated by my own brain, that portion of my brain is not under the control of my consciousness. But the question was not if science needs things that are outside the control of our consciousnesses, it was if science needs things that are independent of our minds. You may hold that seeing a tree is not controlled by your consciousness, but would you claim that it does not depend on your mind? I framed the OP in terms of the mind, not the conciousness, because consciousness appears to be some kind of nebulous (and difficult to understand) element of the mind, and I'm not sure how much we can gain by culling out that particular aspect of the mind for special consideration. The simpler issue (if any of this is simple) is the role of our minds as we do science, which includes both the role of how we process "raw" perceptions, as well as the role of how we make choices about how to make sense of those perceptions, and how we create higher-order structures like laws of physics.

Does that make it external to my mind even though it's being generated by my brain? If so, then I can claim that there really is a tree and I just don't know its true nature.You can certainly claim that, but the question is, how does science require you to make such a claim? If you cannot point to the element of science that forces that upon you, then the answer to the OP poll has to be "false."

Chuck
2014-Jan-04, 10:50 PM
My question is, is information that comes from part of my brain that I'm unaware of really coming from my mind?

Chuck
2014-Jan-05, 12:15 AM
I mean, what makes something officially come from my mind? A computer generated image of a tree might fool me but wouldn't be called a delusion, but what if the computer chip were in my head? What if it was made living cells?

Swift
2014-Jan-05, 03:48 AM
We are getting entirely too many Reported Posts for this thread, for comments that are borderline rude, or potential violations of Rule 12 (go read it in the link in my signature if you are uncertain).

If people want to continue this conversation, you will do so within our rules.

Ken G
2014-Jan-05, 04:18 AM
My question is, is information that comes from part of my brain that I'm unaware of really coming from my mind?
It's a good question, but is it important?

A computer generated image of a tree might fool me but wouldn't be called a delusion, but what if the computer chip were in my head? What if it was made living cells?I'm not sure whether these distinctions are important though. We do have "computer chips in our heads", in some sense, only we call them neurons. There might be some key difference between neurons and chips, but we don't really know what they are, so it's hard to speculate. Here by "our minds", all that is meant is our ability to perceive, experience, and reflect on those perceptions and experiences. The process of categorizing those perceptions, such that we can tell the difference between a "real tree" and a convincing simulacrum, are all just examples of the process of generating mind dependent reality. Those who hold there needs to be a mind-independent reality would say that a real tree and a simulacrum tree differ in their "true properties", which determines that one is real and the other a simulacrum. Those who see the concept of mind-independent reality as an oxymoron would say that whatever differentiates a real tree from a simulacrum are things our minds can figure out about them such that our minds can recognize a difference there. If our minds don't have the full facts, we can be fooled, but that just means that the generation of a mind-dependent concept of reality is an ongoing process that changes with new information, just like science itself.

Ken G
2014-Jan-05, 04:29 AM
Here are two questions to ponder that might push the discussion forward:
1) Imagine every single thing in the universe, every object and field, every mode of virtual particles and every ontological element that appears anywhere in any scientific theory, was suddenly displaced a foot to the right. If there is a mind independent reality, that seems like a perfectly meaningful change in that mind independent reality-- everything "really is" a foot to the right. But of course, no concept of mind dependent reality could see that as a different universe, as none of the minds in it would perceive an iota of difference. So that is a changed universe if the universe means something mind independent, but it is an unchanged universe if the universe means something mind dependent. The question to ponder is: which of those is the universe that science deals with? Would science consider such a universe to have changed, or to have not changed, and what does that imply about which type of universe is the one that science most closely associates?

2) Is there any demonstrable difference, that science could test or give meaning to, between a concept of mind-dependent reality, and a concept of mind-independent reality? If so, what is that difference, that science could give meaning to? Can anyone think of an experiment, no matter how technologically challenging, that could differentiate the two? If no one can, what does that imply about the difference between those things, in the eyes of science?

Chuck
2014-Jan-05, 05:41 AM
If science might need a mind independent reality we should know what that means. If I see what appears to be a tree I can tell the difference between that and the mental image of a tree that I decided to think about. I can't tell the difference between a material tree and the tree of a delusion. So is the tree of a delusion external to my mind for purposes of scientific investigation?

Durakken
2014-Jan-05, 06:54 AM
Here are two questions to ponder that might push the discussion forward:
1) Imagine every single thing in the universe, every object and field, every mode of virtual particles and every ontological element that appears anywhere in any scientific theory, was suddenly displaced a foot to the right. If there is a mind independent reality, that seems like a perfectly meaningful change in that mind independent reality-- everything "really is" a foot to the right. But of course, no concept of mind dependent reality could see that as a different universe, as none of the minds in it would perceive an iota of difference. So that is a changed universe if the universe means something mind independent, but it is an unchanged universe if the universe means something mind dependent. The question to ponder is: which of those is the universe that science deals with? Would science consider such a universe to have changed, or to have not changed, and what does that imply about which type of universe is the one that science most closely associates?

2) Is there any demonstrable difference, that science could test or give meaning to, between a concept of mind-dependent reality, and a concept of mind-independent reality? If so, what is that difference, that science could give meaning to? Can anyone think of an experiment, no matter how technologically challenging, that could differentiate the two? If no one can, what does that imply about the difference between those things, in the eyes of science?

There is currently no accepted argument that gets you from solipsism to real reality.

There are systems that we can say are more or less likely the case based on what we know though and we can toss out systems that we posit if something does or does not occur that should or should not occur. For example we can tell that we're probably not living in a computer simulation because if we were there would be errors that would occur that would be too hard to track down and fix fast enough in such a way as to correct them. There would be an error and then all the memories of the error and since it was localized in such a massive amount of data and fixed itself probability would dictate that even if you got the majority, which you like wouldn't, you couldn't get them all and so it would become pretty obvious quickly that our reality is a simulation in that situation. Though that would only establish that the reality is not x within a set of reality types.

It's actually pretty obvious though that reality is mind independent though, at least to me... simply because of experience is such as it is that it denotes the passage of time. This means that there is a past, future, and present me, all in time which is not a part of me, but instead i am subject to it that in fact shows there is at least some other thing extant other than present me. It's hard to explain really, but this says that there is at least 1 thing outside of me and my mind and is subordinate it then that must mean that whatever reality is it allows for more than 1 thing. And a basic practical rule is where something is allowed to occur more than once it will... so there is no reason for me to suspect that external reality isn't there. I'm sure someone will have a problem with that...but meh... don't care.

Noclevername
2014-Jan-05, 08:36 AM
I'm sorry, I overreacted to more what I interpreted as what you might be saying.

...I won't comment.



(And note I never said you were not using your brain, what I meant was that I was having a hard time parsing the difference between "navel-gazing" and thinking.)

There are all sorts of thinking.



So what were you actually saying? A caution against a certain brand of thinking that seemed non-constructive? Can you be more specific about what kind of thinking to avoid?

Yes and yes. I had to mull it over for a while to come up with a decent-ish answer.

I cannot create a hard and fast rule of "think like this! or "don't think like that!" because the needs and goals of individuals vary. What is "constructive" to one person may seem irrelevant to another. The definition I'd give for "constructive" is based on functionality: is it a thought pattern that moves you towards your goal, internal or external? Is it helpful to you? If so, then think the heck out of it, and follow up by pursuing other lines of thought that spring from it.

Navel-gazing is hard to define, I think to me it can mean several things: getting caught up in the consideration of one's own thought process until it stagnates. An over-valuing of self-contemplation. It is technically thinking, but it is thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking ad infinitum. It is extreme overthinking. At some point one should occasionally get up, put down the lotus flower and try a new way of looking at things, even if it's just considering someone else's point of view.

Self-contemplation is good, more people should do it. Considering one's own thought process is good, it gives you some perspective on why you think the way you do and ideally at least, may lead you to try new ways of thinking. But too much of those things can have the opposite effect. It turns your thoughts inward, and puts you in a rut mentally. Even too much oxygen can injure or kill.

Where is the line between enough and too much? I can't answer that. Every mind is different, and everyone has to find their own way through their inner maze. But don't get so caught up in the maze that you forget the way out.




My question is, is information that comes from part of my brain that I'm unaware of really coming from my mind?
It's a good question, but is it important?
I'm not sure whether these distinctions are important though.

This may very well be the most important question for answering the questions you posed in the OP. Defining the mind, and its limits, and what is and is not part of it, is key to determining how much of our reality depends on the mind.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-05, 09:24 AM
I cannot create a hard and fast rule of "think like this! or "don't think like that!" because the needs and goals of individuals vary. What is "constructive" to one person may seem irrelevant to another. The definition I'd give for "constructive" is based on functionality: is it a thought pattern that moves you towards your goal, internal or external? Is it helpful to you? If so, then think the heck out of it, and follow up by pursuing other lines of thought that spring from it.

Navel-gazing is hard to define, I think to me it can mean several things: getting caught up in the consideration of one's own thought process until it stagnates. An over-valuing of self-contemplation. It is technically thinking, but it is thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking ad infinitum. It is extreme overthinking. At some point one should occasionally get up, put down the lotus flower and try a new way of looking at things, even if it's just considering someone else's point of view.

Self-contemplation is good, more people should do it. Considering one's own thought process is good, it gives you some perspective on why you think the way you do and ideally at least, may lead you to try new ways of thinking. But too much of those things can have the opposite effect. It turns your thoughts inward, and puts you in a rut mentally. Even too much oxygen can injure or kill.

Where is the line between enough and too much? I can't answer that. Every mind is different, and everyone has to find their own way through their inner maze. But don't get so caught up in the maze that you forget the way out.Distinctions are not definitions .. and deep contemplation with the view to distinguishing aspects of persistent mind-behaviours, itself, distinguishes wisdom.

Judging wisdom by means of confining its measures or qualities, distinguishes folly.




My question is, is information that comes from part of my brain that I'm unaware of really coming from my mind?It's a good question, but is it important?
I'm not sure whether these distinctions are important though.This may very well be the most important question for answering the questions you posed in the OP. Defining the mind, and its limits, and what is and is not part of it, is key to determining how much of our reality depends on the mind.Information is assigned a meaning by a part of my mind, of which I am very much aware.

profloater
2014-Jan-05, 10:11 AM
The answer I give is: for me all information coming into my conscious mind is part of my total mind but I recognise that is my assumption. Of course that is a key redefining of the question of external mind and in my shorthand an assumption about external agency. If information enters my mind from any external agency other than through my senses (reject subliminal advertising and hypnosis) then that would be an independent external reality and probably very different from my current reality. I know people who do believe exactly that external influence is part of their life.

Ken G
2014-Jan-05, 02:54 PM
If I see what appears to be a tree I can tell the difference between that and the mental image of a tree that I decided to think about.Don't you mean you can tell the difference between two different mental images, one that is the way your brain organizes the sensory inputs you are describing, and the other is the way you abstract the concept of a tree? Do you not then compare those two mental images and say "yes, it's a tree", or "no, it's not a tree", or even "hmmm, I'm not really sure if that's a tree or not, it could be more like a large bush." ?

I can't tell the difference between a material tree and the tree of a delusion. So is the tree of a delusion external to my mind for purposes of scientific investigation?It seems to me that everything is internal to your mind for those purposes, because scientific investigation is something your mind does, so it has no access to anything except what is in the mind. Faith in solipsism generates the claim "there is nothing else but the mind", faith in mind independent reality generates the claim "there needs to be something outside the mind in order to have anything inside the mind", and scientific skepticism suggests the attitude "what I do science on is what is inside my mind, and the scientific process is the same whether there is something outside the mind or not, and moreover, I cannot see any way to even talk coherently about what is outside my mind, so I see no need to include any of that in the framing of what science is and how it works."

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-05, 03:15 PM
To digress momentarily, I like to remember that most of the things we have words for do not exist. In the same way we ignore most aspects of a system to think of only temperature an pressure, and can measure two containers of gas and declare them to be in fairly equal states, but ignore myriad other differences, the things our words refer to are mere convention. There are no trees, for example. Like the faux paradox of the Ship of Theseus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus), arbitrary convention alone assigns the labels we attach to objects and meanings we attach to words.

In a further aside, there may be/have been no two atomically identical objects in the universe until now/recently/soon. Perhaps the first true "twins" in the universe, two macro objects sharing completely identical atomic configurations, have just been/are now being/will soon be born in a materials lab somewhere; the first "true class?"

(Bear with me, I am still nursing my first coffee of the day.)

Ken G
2014-Jan-05, 03:17 PM
Navel-gazing is hard to define, I think to me it can mean several things: getting caught up in the consideration of one's own thought process until it stagnates.Yet what are the symptoms of stagnation, a return to the same question multiple times? Yet doesn't that happen when you are trying to understand anything that is difficult? When we are learning quantum mechanics, do we not find ourselves in a loop sometimes, where we keep tripping over the same point, and just can't seem to break out? I know you would not say this means our process of learning quantum mechanics should be abandoned, it just means we need a new angle to break out of our stagnation. So I don't necessarily view stagnation as a bad thing, rather it is a "heads up" that a new approach is needed. "Look somewhere other than your navel" might then be the correct strategy, not abandoning the pursuit altogether.

At some point one should occasionally get up, put down the lotus flower and try a new way of looking at things, even if it's just considering someone else's point of view.
Yes, exactly. So that sounds like saying, "when you are stuck on some philosophical question and seem to be stagnating, try entering into a forum discussion with someone with rather different views than yourself." I agree completely, that is an excellent course of action. Argue your own stance forcibly and with evidence brought to bear, listen as others argue their stances forcibly and with evidence brought to bear, and see what shakes out.


This may very well be the most important question for answering the questions you posed in the OP. Defining the mind, and its limits, and what is and is not part of it, is key to determining how much of our reality depends on the mind.Then let us find a definition of "the mind." The one I offered was along the lines of, our mind is the way we conceptualize our capacity have perceptions, organize our perceptions into phenomena, remember experiences, and apply reason to classify perceptions into subjective and objective sources, and make predictions about future perceptions. That sounds like a pretty standard way to talk about a mind, yet it also looks like the process of doing science, which is why I see such a close connection between the two.

Ken G
2014-Jan-05, 03:29 PM
To digress momentarily, I like to remember that most of the things we have words for do not exist. In the same way we ignore most aspects of a system to think of only temperature an pressure, and can measure two containers of gas and declare them to be in fairly equal states, but ignore myriad other differences, the things our words refer to are mere convention. There are no trees, for example. Like the faux paradox of the Ship of Theseus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus), arbitrary convention alone assigns the labels we attach to objects and meanings we attach to words.Ah yes, I see that the "ship of Theseus" is essentially the same as question #1 I put in post #74. The classic questions remain the Rosetta stones for philosophical inquiry! And I think you have a key insight, that the "ship of Theseus" is a kind of false paradox in the sense that it assumes the parts we imagine are really the parts of the ship, rather than just the simple way we conceptualize the ship. Or put differently, there are really two types of "ship", one is an example of a real thing that we have ordained "a ship", and the other is the abstract concept we compare to that real thing in order to so ordain it. Some see one of those types as "mind independent" and the other as "mind dependent," but the alternative is that they are both mind dependent, yet function in different ways in our minds. Then the answer to Theseus' paradox depends on "which ship" we are talking about.


In a further aside, there may be/have been no two atomically identical objects in the universe until now/recently/soon.If you really want to blow your mind, consider Theseus' ship in the context of the discovery in quantum mechanics that all electrons, for example, are indistinguishable. There are observable consequences of the fact that those parts of Theseus' ship really do create the same ship, and that is the sense we have made of white dwarfs.

Noclevername
2014-Jan-05, 04:24 PM
"Look somewhere other than your navel" might then be the correct strategy, not abandoning the pursuit altogether.

That's basically what I was trying to say. I never suggested abandoning anything.

Ken G
2014-Jan-05, 04:58 PM
Then let us continue the pursuit-- what is your current thinking?

Luckmeister
2014-Jan-05, 06:17 PM
If science might need a mind independent reality we should know what that means. If I see what appears to be a tree I can tell the difference between that and the mental image of a tree that I decided to think about. I can't tell the difference between a material tree and the tree of a delusion. So is the tree of a delusion external to my mind for purposes of scientific investigation?

The question isn't whether we are seeing a tree or imagining a tree to distinguish between an MDR or an MIR. What we detect with our senses must be processed through our minds, making everything we sense automatically MDR. It's not whether our minds are inventing our reality but that our minds do not necessarily produce a clear or complete picture of reality. Through evolution, our senses developed to assist our survival, not to discover the true nature of reality.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-05, 07:15 PM
Purely in terms of this thread with no reference to what has been said in the other one, I am becoming more and more convinced that nothing much has changed in terms of my perspective, something I didn’t think was the case during the other thread. What has changed is the way in which I amm allowed to frame my thought process regarding my perspective.

The reason? Well more and more we seem to be emphasizing the scientific, which of course is entirely appropriate. I don’t think there can be any controversy over the fact that the scientific method is only applicable to mind dependent reality because verification can only take place within that arena and verification involves the mind. I know everything else involves the mind as well, but somehow verification for me is the bottom line of science, it is what defines the discipline in terms of physical reality and that emphasis on verification in turn places unavoidable emphasis on the observer and mind generated phenomena as defining that process of verification. So the model as it has been verified simply cannot be applicable to the “source” of the brain generated phenomena because we have no means in which to test the correspondence between the phenomena and the “source”. That stance surely is incontestable.

The spanner in the works for me was the notion put forward by Ken that I am not allowed to use rational or logical thought in which to conjecture about this correspondence because the fruits of such a process are not describing a correspondence to a mind independent reality (the “source”) they are describing a correspondence to “something” within mind dependent reality, which obviously is a valid point.

But I think this comes down to context – I place emphasis on what is the “Real” - for me the “Real” is “something” which is prior to our reality, “something” that if missing, would render our reality as useless, it would be a collection of minds with no common constraints. Now the validity of my thought process in which this paragraph has been written is I admit up for grabs – I used to think it to be proper rational and logical thinking, but that’s the spanner in the works that Ken has thrown my way. But be that as it may, the context of that thought process (be it faith or something a bit more tangible) in the overall scheme of things is one of personal degree. I see the context as involving a significant question that involves the need for a “Real” outside of “mind” (as we perceive the mind), Ken sees it as a meaningless diversion in terms of acquiring knowledge of mind dependent reality.

So I see science in a context of its limitations in the sense that it cannot escape mind dependency and hence cannot get anywhere near my “Real” (hence my no vote), but that these limitations do not prevent a different thought process kicking in (the thought process apparently being confined to one of faith and belief) which says there “needs” to be “something” other than mind dependent reality that can be envisaged as the “Real”, something without which our notion of mind dependent reality could not exist. Of course my “Real” can never be accessed directly via rational or logical thought, but no one can say that it doesn’t exist and cannot be “accessed” in some indirect way.

Ken sees science as being entirely applicable to all of reality rather than any sense of it being “confined” to mind dependent reality (he would say there is no need to invoke the word “confined” because anything outside of that confinement is not accessible via rational and logical thought). Therefore in terms of science, we can legitimately say that science is applicable to all of reality and the “truths” it supplies are legitimate “truths” of mind dependent reality - truths that carry no pretensions of being “truths” of reality as it exists outside of the “mind part” of reality simply because such a reality can only exist in terms of faith.

So to my mind, the only real question concerns the context that we place science within the overall experiences and thoughts (no matter what form those thoughts take) we have of our reality. In terms of rational and logical thought, science is the only context, there is no other. In terms of thought generally, in whatever form that may take, the choice of context is one we can legitimately make – I choose to say that science and its applicability sits within my experience of nature as only being able to describe mind dependent reality and I hold that a significant part of that context includes a belief that a required “Real” lay outside of “mind” (as we perceive the mind) - but that’s my choice, and that’s how I see the context of science. Ken chooses to see the context in terms of knowledge that we can glean of mind dependent reality and thus sees the context of science as being all embracing. Not in any sense of logical positivism of course, Ken doesn’t deny me the right to believe in a “something” outside of mind dependent reality as being prior to it, rather he sees it having no impact on the all embracing applicability of science to our reality – he doesn’t see any need to invoke a notion of “something” outside of mind that cannot be accessed by science because it plays no part in knowledge.

The relevance of this “context” I discuss is applicable to this extract below, though apologies to Luckmeister if I have taken anything he says out of context – I mainly want to place my interpretation of what he says in the context of how I see this whole question of science, MDR and MIR.


The question isn't whether we are seeing a tree or imagining a tree to distinguish between an MDR or an MIR. What we detect with our senses must be processed through our minds, making everything we sense automatically MDR. It's not whether our minds are inventing our reality but that our minds do not necessarily produce a clear or complete picture of reality. Through evolution, our senses developed to assist our survival, not to discover the true nature of reality.

Clearly Luckmeister is implying that there is an external reality but we can never know what it is because MDR gets in the way. He is implying that there is an external reality that gets processed via our mind to give a MDR representation of the object in-its–self. The correspondence we may imagine between the phenomena and the object is un-testable and hence unknowable – so that leaves a void in Luckmeisters context of nature – it says we can apply science to the phenomena, but the “Real” source of that phenomena cannot be accessed via science. The “Real” could be similar to the actual object in-its-self or it could be “something” that gives shared constraints that all our minds have to adhere to.

The point is that the above scenario from Luckmeister gives a context of a “Real” that serves to highlight the limitations of the scientific method. Ken would say that this is a false premise in which to take in that the context attaches an unjustifiable “weight” to the external reality that Luckmeister places along side what we can know through science and its applicability to phenomena. He would say that there are no grounds other than faith in which to describe that external reality, therefore science is not confined to mind dependent reality in one corner with mind independent reality in the other corner, science operates on the only reality we can know and from which knowledge can be gained. In other words, the scene that Luckmeister sets up gives undue prominence to an external reality in terms of the context of science and knowledge which partitions the applicability of science – Ken says that that is an artificial partition and has no relevance, science is an all embracing discipline that gives knowledge of our reality with there being no justification in terms of rational and logical thought to invoke any other arena.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-05, 08:07 PM
… So to my mind, the only real question concerns the context that we place science within the overall experiences and thoughts (no matter what form those thoughts take) we have of our reality. In terms of rational and logical thought, science is the only context, there is no other. In terms of thought generally, in whatever form that may take, the choice of context is one we can legitimately make – I choose to say that science and its applicability sits within my experience of nature as only being able to describe mind dependent reality and I hold that a significant part of that context includes a belief that a required “Real” lay outside of “mind” (as we perceive the mind) - but that’s my choice, and that’s how I see the context of science. Ken chooses to see the context in terms of knowledge that we can glean of mind dependent reality and thus sees the context of science as being all embracing. Not in any sense of logical positivism of course, Ken doesn’t deny me the right to believe in a “something” outside of mind dependent reality as being prior to it, rather he sees it having no impact on the all embracing applicability of science to our reality – he doesn’t see any need to invoke a notion of “something” outside of mind that cannot be accessed by science because it plays no part in knowledge.There are many significant consequences following on from this 'choice'. Statements like "Intelligent aliens exist and are real" invoke the same choice and belief basis (mind independent reality). Whilst the seemingly trivial qualification: " .. I cannot prove it .. yet" may accompany such claims, inevitably evidence from science will also be cited to justify the original claim, which then turns the onus upon science to 'disprove' such claims.

How is that demonstrating responsibility for rational thought and the future of science?

I'm sorry Len … I see no acceptance of accountability (or responsibility) for the action of embedding a belief and unreasoned choice in the tenets of all science-based discussions. Could you perhaps elaborate on how you might see this panning out?

Len Moran
2014-Jan-05, 09:06 PM
There are many significant consequences following on from this 'choice'. Statements like "Intelligent aliens exist and are real" invoke the same choice and belief basis (mind independent reality). Whilst the seemingly trivial qualification: " .. I cannot prove it .. yet" may accompany such claims, inevitably evidence from science will also be cited to justify the original claim, which then turns the onus upon science to 'disprove' such claims.

How is that demonstrating responsibility for rational thought and the future of science?

I'm sorry Len … I see no acceptance of accountability (or responsibility) for the action of embedding a belief and unreasoned choice in the tenets of all science-based discussions. Could you perhaps elaborate on how you might see this panning out?

I'm not talking about science as it is now or how it will be in the future - in fact the context I talk about doesn't involve the premise of science at all - that is fixed and is applicable only to mind dependent reality. I'm talking about a context of science in terms of its limitations in accessing a "Real" as "existing" outside of my individual mind (as I perceive that mind to be) that may be taken as being pointed to by rational and logical thought from within mind dependent reality. I'm not talking about a need for "real aliens", they are not pointed to by mind dependent reality as being required (in terms of rational and logical thought) for our reality to exist in the way it does.

I think there are logical grounds for invoking the need for "something" other than my individual mind (as I perceive that mind to be) - those grounds I have discussed in the other thread. The grounds I propose develop from an abrupt ending to a familiar notion of mind dependent reality - for example, to make use of one of my "pointers", a model that we construct depends in part on "something" other than our mind (as we perceive our individual minds to be). If models were entirely a construct of the mind (as we perceive the mind to be) then we could invoke notions for the sake of simplicity, but verification of that model doesn't allow it, we are constrained. There is nothing within mind dependent reality that accounts in a familiar manner for that constraint - the logic just ends abruptly with the model of our choice not working. So I make a valid jump of thought that says "something" other than our individual mind (as we perceive it to be) is in involved with that working model. That "something" can only "exist" outside of my individual mind (as I perceive it to be). From that point on I have to rely on faith in terms of the structure of this something, and I make no claims to the contrary. But this notion of "something" represents for me a "Real" without which our individual minds would have no shared and global constraints. That is my context - a "Real" which lay outside of science, whose structure cannot be discussed in terms of rational and logical thought and thus relies on belief but nevertheless is pointed to via rational and logical thought within mind dependent reality. That concept has nothing to do with plucking aliens, supernatural somethings, green eyed monsters or anything of that nature from unconstrained thought regarding a context of science and where it stands in the overall scheme of nature with and without my individual mind (as I perceive that mind to be). As I said, such nonsensical entities are not required in any manner in order to satisfy a notion (using rational and logical from within mind dependent reality) that points to a "something" being required other than my individual mind (as I perceive that mind to be). Such a concept of there being "something" other than mind has been agreed on within the other thread, but it hasn't invoked unconstrained thought of aliens etc. it simply referred to "the something" as being possibly a constraint that "exists" within the deepest and most inaccessible part of a generic, global mind, which with reference to our top layer of mind is (in my opinion) pretty much an "individual mind independent "something".

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-05, 09:23 PM
.... The point is that the above scenario from Luckmeister gives a context of a “Real” that serves to highlight the limitations of the scientific method. Ken would say that this is a false premise in which to take in that the context attaches an unjustifiable “weight” to the external reality that Luckmeister places along side what we can know through science and its applicability to phenomena. He would say that there are no grounds other than faith in which to describe that external reality, therefore science is not confined to mind dependent reality in one corner with mind independent reality in the other corner, science operates on the only reality we can know and from which knowledge can be gained. In other words, the scene that Luckmeister sets up gives undue prominence to an external reality in terms of the context of science and knowledge which partitions the applicability of science – Ken says that that is an artificial partition and has no relevance, science is an all embracing discipline that gives knowledge of our reality with there being no justification in terms of rational and logical thought to invoke any other arena.

(Not quoting whole post for brevity.) I was moseying in what I think is this direction last night over in the other thread, and sort of started to take the opposite tack, which I think I'll do more of, if only to bring down some proper Ken G sorry-but-you're-dumb-again correctives, which I always enjoy, being of a weird bent.

To not get too involved, since there is some competing NFL action going on right now, I'd say that we need to recognize that we are dealing with essentially the same problems one faces with solipsism: one cannot entirely dismiss the Matrix-madness without recourse to logic and reason, as applied to the info one has available.

To wit: I don't think I am the only mind conjuring the world, nor the passive object of a some homunculus' (sadistic) ministrations, nor plugged into a machine, since when any of these is compared to alternate explanations, Occam's razor, properly wielded, seems to indicate that I am what I more or less appear to be: one among many like me, in some kind of world. The catch-22 is that I do need to use info from that apparent world, "bring it in," and use it to break out of my solitary confinement. (This perspective, by the way, is what keeps me showing up for work instead of concentrating on changing the channel to one in which I am served by willing slaves and lift no fingers, unless to beckon.)

So, wrt the MDR vs MIR, here's my question for Ken G: what are the differences here with solipsism? Why can I not use logic and inference to conclude that the most reasonable explanation for the fact that the world makes sense and is not entirely incoherent is that there are externalities indeed informing my view? If there were no sense to what informs us, that would prohibit model building of any kind. How could we even make models?

Now, given that I deal with it all in my head, sure, I only work with MDR and never touch MIR, except via reason, in which I can imagine her beauty, but know she's ever beyond my reach (darn, another familiar sensation.)

Chuck
2014-Jan-05, 11:56 PM
If I'm doing a scientific investigation of a tree that I apparently see but it really exists only in my own mind, am I doing a real scientific investigation anyway? I could still learn things about it. I'd just really be learning things about a part of my mind that I can't access directly. I might never know that I've been examining a part of my own mind and believe that the tree is real, but I'd still learn other things about it. So a real world that's external to my mind isn't needed in order for me to do science unless parts of my mind that I can't directly access count as being external for purposes of doing science.

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 12:18 AM
It's not whether our minds are inventing our reality but that our minds do not necessarily produce a clear or complete picture of reality. Through evolution, our senses developed to assist our survival, not to discover the true nature of reality.
Indeed, I think we can look deeply into the concept of a "true nature of reality" to see if any such concept really exists anyway, and Len correctly anticipated my reaction. What does the "true nature of reality" act like, smell like, feel like, or sound like? If it does none of those things, but can be conceived in our minds, does that not still make it something other than reality's true nature? I don't think there's any such thing as the true nature of reality in the way you mean here, so rather we should reinterpret reality's "current truest nature" to be whatever is our current best effort to understand it. There's nothing that could get any "truer" to us than that, so I would say that any other concept of a true nature to reality is sterile and inert, so much so that science has no use for it. It suffices that science recognize our current ideas about reality are provisional and flexible, and in need of constant challenging. But we don't have to feel like we have "fallen short" of some true ideal, instead we are right where we are supposed to be, and our current understanding is the reality that we now have. Is that not the function we had in mind for the "reality" concept when we first invented it?

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 12:42 AM
I'm not talking about science as it is now or how it will be in the future - in fact the context I talk about doesn't involve the premise of science at all - that is fixed and is applicable only to mind dependent reality. I'm talking about a context of science in terms of its limitations in accessing a "Real" as "existing" outside of my individual mind (as I perceive that mind to be) that may be taken as being pointed to by rational and logical thought from within mind dependent reality. I'm not talking about a need for "real aliens", they are not pointed to by mind dependent reality as being required (in terms of rational and logical thought) for our reality to exist in the way it does.So you are saying that part of the value you find in science comes to you by framing it as a pointer to this mind independent reality that you believe in. That is certainly a perfectly valid way to frame the personal values that you attach to science. I would say that since you do not hold that those values are scientific values themselves, or are required for science to be successful, there is no conflict between that belief and the action of science. We should all be allowed to decide what we think science means to us, what matters is that we agree if we are looking for a testable, repeatable, demonstrable outcome (like treating a disease), or to tell a coherent story about objective reality (suitable for education in a science classroom), then science is the approach we have devised that works for doing that.


I think there are logical grounds for invoking the need for "something" other than my individual mind (as I perceive that mind to be) - those grounds I have discussed in the other thread. The grounds I propose develop from an abrupt ending to a familiar notion of mind dependent reality - for example, to make use of one of my "pointers", a model that we construct depends in part on "something" other than our mind (as we perceive our individual minds to be). If models were entirely a construct of the mind (as we perceive the mind to be) then we could invoke notions for the sake of simplicity, but verification of that model doesn't allow it, we are constrained. There is nothing within mind dependent reality that accounts in a familiar manner for that constraint - the logic just ends abruptly with the model of our choice not working. So I make a valid jump of thought that says "something" other than our individual mind (as we perceive it to be) is in involved with that working model.Yet here is the problem you run into. Why does logic require that something account for that? Isn't the search for "something responsible" a natural function of our minds? Rocks don't look for something responsible, for example. So I accuse you of applying your mind to do something that is perfectly natural for minds to want to do, and then labeling the outcome as logical evidence for that "something else" that can "account for" what you mind feels a need to account for. That all just sounds like more mind dependent reality to me, but it is a mind dependent reality of a different flavor-- a concept of reality that is allowed to kind of fade out into uncertainty. Does that "fading out" allow it to escape its own mind dependence?

I guess that comes down to the question, when we talk about something that our minds cannot conceive, does that something count as "mind independent" because our minds cannot conceive it, or does it still count as "mind dependent" because its only meaning to our minds is that our minds cannot conceive it? In other words, what more can we say about that which we cannot conceive other than that we cannot conceive it, and is not that one thing we can say coming from our minds?

Personally, I see no way to "escape" our own mind dependences, so I conclude that we are not supposed to escape, we should not be trying to escape, because it is understanding what our minds are doing that is itself our escape. Our prison is having our chains pulled by our own minds in ways that we have lost track of, ways that have fallen out of our view. All we can do is notice what we are doing and how it affects the way we frame our reality. It is as though the door of our "cell" isn't locked, nor ever has been, but we've never tried to walk out because we thought the reality beyond the bars was something different from the reality inside the bars, something independent of us where we cannot go. But the actual truth is, we can just walk out, mentally speaking, but whereever we go, there we will be. We should not expect to arrive in some mind independent place, just a new mind dependent place, that is how we escape the cell. But that is only one way to frame the escape route, and it is more personal than objective, so if others feel their escape is in believing in a world outside the cell, that is well within their prerogative. All we need to agree is that such a position cannot cite evidence in its favor, for any such evidence would need to come through the filter of the mind to be judged as such.

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 12:50 AM
I might never know that I've been examining a part of my own mind and believe that the tree is real, but I'd still learn other things about it. So a real world that's external to my mind isn't needed in order for me to do science unless parts of my mind that I can't directly access count as being external for purposes of doing science.
And even if you stipulate that those parts of your mind live somewhere external to your mind, like a mind-independent reality that gives rise to your mind, they still aren't needed to use science to learn about your mind. What you will be learning about will still be the mind-accessible parts of your mind, and since what your mind can access depends on your mind, it is still mind dependent. It's just a rather prickly situation when you start using your mind to try and understand your mind, we encounter some new problems there that physics has never had to deal with before! Some people think that's a "hard problem", especially people who see science as a study of mind dependent reality.

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 01:18 AM
The catch-22 is that I do need to use info from that apparent world, "bring it in," and use it to break out of my solitary confinement. (This perspective, by the way, is what keeps me showing up for work instead of concentrating on changing the channel to one in which I am served by willing slaves and lift no fingers, unless to beckon.)Yet note how that catch-22 could be turned against you. What if you encounter an advanced civilization that can plug you into such a "channel", with the promise that you can live out the entirety of your life of perception within that channel, never having to return to what you now characterize as the "real world"? What if you could bring with you everyone you care about, and your interactions with them would be entirely positive and pleasant, even euphoric, with no sickness or disease or pain for any of them? Would you accept their offer, knowing that their technology is so advanced that no perception that you are capable of could ever detect the chicanery? In the famous Star Trek episode with Commander Pike, we know what Pike chose! If you would side with Pike, then your commitment to mind independent reality is not as strong as you make out!


So, wrt the MDR vs MIR, here's my question for Ken G: what are the differences here with solipsism? Solipsism is a stance that only the mind exists, so it implicitly holds that existence is prior to mind, and applies only to mind, as if that was asserting something. What I'm talking about is existence being a concept defined by the mind, so mind is prior to existence and it simply makes no sense to hold that the statement "only mind exists" is saying anything useful. It's more like "whatever our minds find usefulness in stipulating exists, that's what exists, because that is the reason we invented the concept of existence in the first place". Existence can then extend to things outside our minds, but not in a mind independent way, because we still need our minds to give meaning to that existence. Solipsism, on the other hand, is the ultimate violation of the caution that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Solipsism rests on an untestable hypothesis, but if one invokes Occam's Razor, any hypothesis that cannot be tested is already a violation of Occam's Razor.
Why can I not use logic and inference to conclude that the most reasonable explanation for the fact that the world makes sense and is not entirely incoherent is that there are externalities indeed informing my view?For the same reason-- it violates Occam's Razor to attach an untestable hypothesis to your body of scientific hypotheses. I asked before if anyone could come up with an experiment that comes out A if a mind independent reality accounts for our experiences, and not A if it doesn't, and no one has been able to do that yet. That strongly suggests it is an untestable hypothesis, so is extraneous to science under Occam's Razor.
If there were no sense to what informs us, that would prohibit model building of any kind. How could we even make models?We don't need to account for our ability to make models, we are already aware that we have the ability to make models, it's just one of those things we know because we observe it. The question is, can you make a model of model-building such that it informs or unifies the process? That's all science is responsible for doing. It is like gravity-- we already know things fall, we don't need to account for that, and nothing in science does. Does saying that mass creates forces, or spacetime curvature, account for the fact that things fall? Not so much, for we then have no accounting for why masses make forces, or spacetime curvature. We can predict gravity, but never account for it. So it all comes down to recognizing that nothing needs to account for our models, it is the job of our models to do the accounting for our perceptions and experiences. And whenever you have a model that accounts for something, then you made that model in your mind, so that is a mind dependent model which accounts for some consistency of experience that you are trying to understand, or else it is not a model at all-- it is nothing, or at least nothing that science could use. Outside science is another story, there is no need for hypotheses or testing or evidence, there you can account for whatever you want any way you choose to believe. But that's not the concept of "reality" that is useful in science.


Now, given that I deal with it all in my head, sure, I only work with MDR and never touch MIR, except via reason, in which I can imagine her beauty, but know she's ever beyond my reach (darn, another familiar sensation.)Yet this is the fundamental metaphor I am fighting against. Reality is not beyond your reach, because you invented the concept to make sense of consistencies of experience, essentially via scientific testing. Remember what great scientists young babies are. So experience is within your reach, noticing consistencies is within your reach, and scientific testing is within your reach. So what part of the beauty of reality is beyond your reach? Why do we see our minds as imprisoning us and making it impossible for us to "commune with" true reality, when "true reality" is a construct in our minds in the first place, and our minds are the only path that leads to it? (This is why I like to characterize my position as "realism done right," and find it so ironic that philosophers normally classify this stance within "antirealism.")

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-06, 02:21 AM
Yet here is the problem you run into. Why does logic require that something account for that? Isn't the search for "something responsible" a natural function of our minds? Rocks don't look for something responsible, for example. So I accuse you of applying your mind to do something that is perfectly natural for minds to want to do, and then labeling the outcome as logical evidence for that "something else" that can "account for" what you mind feels a need to account for. That all just sounds like more mind dependent reality to me, but it is a mind dependent reality of a different flavor-- a concept of reality that is allowed to kind of fade out into uncertainty. Does that "fading out" allow it to escape its own mind dependence?

:think: Hmmm. If I use any of the knowledge from MDR science, I find accounting for "searching for something responsible" somehow troublesomely recursive. That is, in MDR science I find an evolutionary explanation for nervous systems, including capture/perception of references from external referents as a means of survival. Skip ahead, and we come up to our species. Add in some spice from physical "laws" or regularities, and dealing with causality becomes the name of the game, and a good description of what successful organisms do, too. If I ask why organisms such as we look for "things responsible," am being descriptive as per MDR science, or am I asking a philosophical question?

If a description, in general I'm tempted to say there's a real feedback loop with a system external to organisms at work; big winners in that system are very good at causing and effecting, and no whys are involved. If philosophical, then I ask about how our minds think about these things. This feels recursive, like a second loop around.


I guess that comes down to the question, when we talk about something that our minds cannot conceive, does that something count as "mind independent" because our minds cannot conceive it, or does it still count as "mind dependent" because its only meaning to our minds is that our minds cannot conceive it? In other words, what more can we say about that which we cannot conceive other than that we cannot conceive it, and is not that one thing we can say coming from our minds?

What if it is quite similar to our models, only moreso? Of course, there are the given reductions in scope of perception and ability to process, so we are still only making reduced mental pictures. Whatever image results remains firmly in MDR. But is a picture derived from rational extrapolation from reliable data, in this case, data reliable enough for survival to depend on, beyond conception, or only beyond full perception? Another way to state this might be, even if we only deal with salient attributes, and have our scalar limitations, can we tear a piece of cloth from the cosmic robe we do not see entirely, or is it all imagining?


Personally, I see no way to "escape" our own mind dependencies, so I conclude that we are not supposed to escape, we should not be trying to escape, because it is understanding what our minds are doing that is itself our escape. Our prison is having our chains pulled by our own minds in ways that we have lost track of, ways that have fallen out of our view. All we can do is notice what we are doing and how it affects the way we frame our reality. It is as though the door of our "cell" isn't locked, nor ever has been, but we've never tried to walk out because we thought the reality beyond the bars was something different from the reality inside the bars, something independent of us where we cannot go. But the actual truth is, we can just walk out, mentally speaking, but wherever we go, there we will be. We should not expect to arrive in some mind independent place, just a new mind dependent place, that is how we escape the cell. totally with you up to here then
But that is only one way to frame the escape route, and it is more personal than objective, so if others feel their escape is in believing in a world outside the cell, that is well within their prerogative. All we need to agree is that such a position cannot cite evidence in its favor, for any such evidence would need to come through the filter of the mind to be judged as such.

Granted we cannot and will not arrive at a MIR place or cell, the definition of experience as mental phenomenon precludes it. But I wonder when to apply the filter in ordering my thoughts on the topic, so to speak. If I take my MDR science as even remotely metaphorical for a reality that may inspire it, I see organisms running around in environments external to their minds; that looks like what I normally call evidence, so it makes me think it OK to subscribe to the notion of something really out there, a MIR, not horribly different, just more, if it ever were experienced fully somehow.

What I want to know is, what inspires the foundations of coherency, and the possibility of thought itself?

Checked for a new post before letting this one go, and grabbed this from it:


Yet this is the fundamental metaphor I am fighting against. Reality is not beyond your reach, because you invented the concept to make sense of consistencies of experience, essentially via scientific testing. Remember what great scientists young babies are. So experience is within your reach, noticing consistencies is within your reach, and scientific testing is within your reach. So what part of the beauty of reality is beyond your reach? Why do we see our minds as imprisoning us and making it impossible for us to "commune with" true reality, when "true reality" is a construct in our minds in the first place, and our minds are the only path that leads to it? (This is why I like to characterize my position as "realism done right," and find it so ironic that philosophers normally classify this stance within "antirealism.")

I think what I wish to say is that I (provisionally for argument's sake... such a weasel) subscribe to the idea that the consistency of the scientific experience is driven not only by my mind and my choices of scope and measure, but on a... gulp... external substrate I interact with. In its fullness, it lies beyond one's ken, but part of its nature is not beyond one's conceiving. The missed 'beauty' might be something like, say, being able to take in all particles at once and "knowing" them in all their doings.

(Sorry Ken G, I'm in devil's advocate mode, for kicks. It's Sunday, whaddayagunnado?)

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 05:24 AM
That is, in MDR science I find an evolutionary explanation for nervous systems, including capture/perception of references from external referents as a means of survival. Skip ahead, and we come up to our species. Add in some spice from physical "laws" or regularities, and dealing with causality becomes the name of the game, and a good description of what successful organisms do, too. If I ask why organisms such as we look for "things responsible," am being descriptive as per MDR science, or am I asking a philosophical question?The issue of "responsibility" is an interesting one in science. I think Feynman said this better than I'm going to, so I'll borrow from his perspective. Feynman saw a children's physics book that answered the question (or something like it, I'm paraphrasing) "what is responsible for the motion of a baseball". He thought the next thing he was going to read would give an accounting for a moving bat, which in turn was swung by an arm, and so on, a complete accounting for the responsibility of the motion of the ball. Instead, the book just said one thing: "energy." Now, to Feynman, this was a terrible thing to teach a child, because all "energy" is is a label that groups together a huge list of things that can actually be responsible for the motion of other things! Sure, for an expert physicist, it's nice to "cut to the chase" and regard energy as being "responsible for" motion, but this is just a kind of shortcut, like a jargon used by experts, appropriate once you've already understood a lot of things about motion and what causes it.

So my reaction to this is, scientific models are never designed to attribute responsibility, they are there to collect, organize, simplify, and help predict, the responsibilities that we never actually explain. In other words, in science, "responsible for", or "is a cause of", are words that mean little other than "are consistently followed by", or "can be used to quantify a prediction about." So the "responsibility" concept is not a value judgement, and it is not a logical necessity, its value lies in its observability, and how it helps us predict outcomes. Given this, you should ask yourself, if you hold that a mind independent reality is "responsible for" the fact that we share consistencies of experience, how does that responsibility help you predict outcomes? In other words, if I just say that in mind dependent reality, event X is consistently found to be followed by event Y, such that X is a predictor of Y, what can you add to that prediction by saying "mind independent reality did it"? Contrast that situation with the predictive power of saying "evolution did it" in regard to nervous systems. You see, the only reason evolution is a useful notion in physics is that it is a process we can actually study. Is the way that mind independent reality is supposed to be "responsible for" mind dependent reality a process that we can study?


If a description, in general I'm tempted to say there's a real feedback loop with a system external to organisms at work; big winners in that system are very good at causing and effecting, and no whys are involved.Yes, that is what you mean by "responsibility" in that context, you can see that an organism is a winner, and you can see the causes that lead to that win-- you are not speculating the existence of anything magical there that you have no actual evidence for, unless you take "causes" more literally than anything we can really supply evidence for in science (in science it means the same thing as "is followed by" or "leads to", there is always some kind of magical connection required if you try to go any deeper into it than that, like the magical connection between a charge and an electromagnetic force or the ability to create virtual photons, whatever is your picture of how charges affect motion).
If philosophical, then I ask about how our minds think about these things. This feels recursive, like a second loop around.I agree that delving into how our minds work is going to feel recursive, that just comes with the territory. We might be able to make progress all the same, we can cast it as a process that is trying to gain understanding of itself.

What if it is quite similar to our models, only moreso? What if what is quite similar to our models? It sounds like you are talking about a model of mind independent reality, so you are asking, what if our models of mind independent reality are quite similar to our models of mind dependent reality? To which I would answer, they are indeed quite similar, in fact they are so similar as to be exactly the same, which is why they are actually models of mind dependent reality wearing only the label "mind independent" as if it meant something. But there is no scientific meaning behind that label, such a label can only have meaning infused into it by some kind of belief system, which follows different rules of meaning that go outside objective experience processed by minds. Since all concepts depend on minds, the concept of mind independent also depends on minds, so although the concept is mind dependent, what it is a concept of is something mind independent. No scientific approach could ever give that statement meaning, it has sprouted wings and flown out of the range of scientific study. But that doesn't disallow us from imagining it, or talking about it, or believing in it-- that just can't be done with science, because science has no idea how to infuse meaning into the words "a mind dependent concept of something mind independent". The reason is that it forms a fundamentally untestable hypothesis, which science must regard as a disallowable hypothesis (essentially because of Occam's Razor).

Of course, there are the given reductions in scope of perception and ability to process, so we are still only making reduced mental pictures.But what do you mean "reduced mental pictures"? Reduced from what? A mental picture is just what it is supposed to be, it is not "reduced" from something that isn't a mental picture. Our minds have an astounding capacity to create mental pictures, that is more or less what defines a mind, so minds being minds is not a reduction. It is the highest form of existence we've ever encountered in our experience, it is everything we can ever know about ourselves, why should we regard that as a reduction of what we really are? Why are we not just what we encounter when we encounter ourselves?
But is a picture derived from rational extrapolation from reliable data, in this case, data reliable enough for survival to depend on, beyond conception, or only beyond full perception?We have a word for a rational extrapolation from reliable data, if by "rational" you mean "evidence-based": it is called a "scientific model". If the extrapolation goes beyond the testable model, it might not necessarily be "irrational", but it isn't scientific either.

Another way to state this might be, even if we only deal with salient attributes, and have our scalar limitations, can we tear a piece of cloth from the cosmic robe we do not see entirely, or is it all imagining?How about neither? We can eliminate that it's all imagining, because that's just not what we mean by imagining, imagining is unconstrained by observation. But we don't have to imagine we are tearing a cosmic robe, we can just be doing what we are doing-- making observations, interpreting perceptions. Metaphors are great in poetry, but science makes models instead. Not that there's anything wrong with a little color, sometimes science gets criticized for being too dry, but science does not actually interpret the reality in terms of the metaphors, it interprets using models.

If I take my MDR science as even remotely metaphorical for a reality that may inspire it, I see organisms running around in environments external to their minds; that looks like what I normally call evidence, so it makes me think it OK to subscribe to the notion of something really out there, a MIR, not horribly different, just more, if it ever were experienced fully somehow.The mind dependent reality concept does not preclude the concepts of "internal" and "external" reality. Nothing stops our mind dependent reality from making useful distinctions like that. The same holds for objective and subjective elements of reality-- those are all part of the mind dependence of the reality concept, because it is our minds that say what is objective and what is subjective. There is neither objectivity nor subjectivity without minds, for what else is there to differentiate those, and there is no such thing as internal and external either. Can a rock say what is internal to the rock, and what is external to it?


What I want to know is, what inspires the foundations of coherency, and the possibility of thought itself?That's a toughie! I'm not sure we have made much progress on that one yet, it may require some serious longevity on humanity's part to get to that one.


I think what I wish to say is that I (provisionally for argument's sake... such a weasel) subscribe to the idea that the consistency of the scientific experience is driven not only by my mind and my choices of scope and measure, but on a... gulp... external substrate I interact with.And you have every right to hold that belief. But lest you think there is scientific evidence in favor of that belief, I ask you to tell me what experiment (no matter how difficult to perform) comes out A if your belief is correct, and not A if it isn't?

In its fullness, it lies beyond one's ken, but part of its nature is not beyond one's conceiving. The missed 'beauty' might be something like, say, being able to take in all particles at once and "knowing" them in all their doings.Sure, and that sounds more like art or religion. I am not at all denigrating the value that humans find in those other pursuits, that's exactly why I focused the OP poll specifically on science.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-06, 10:13 AM
I guess that comes down to the question, when we talk about something that our minds cannot conceive, does that something count as "mind independent" because our minds cannot conceive it, or does it still count as "mind dependent" because its only meaning to our minds is that our minds cannot conceive it? In other words, what more can we say about that which we cannot conceive other than that we cannot conceive it, and is not that one thing we can say coming from our minds?


I don’t really disagree I think with anything you say, it is the nuances of our respective positions that still niggle me a little. But not to detract from the theme of this thread, it surely can be correctly stated that science does not require an external reality in any sense of the word in order for it to carry out its task – science will give exactly the same outcomes with or without a notion of external reality as being invoked via whatever means one chooses.

But where I draw a line in the sand quite firmly concerns any implication that my personal choice of invoking an external reality is no different to invoking any notion (such as green eyed monsters) in terms of an overall context of what science can and cannot address.

Now if the hard logic of philosophy tells me there is no difference, then I say that something needs to be added to that process that gives some flexibility and I wager d’Espagnat would have something very useful and informative to say concerning the implication that his thesis can be reduced to a level of green eyed monsters. But I can’t ask d’Espagnat about that, (well I suppose I could try!), but failing that, I suppose the onus is on me to try and get some input from philosophers on that issue. The bottom line is that I consider the “pointers” I invoke from within mind dependent reality as being indicative of “something” prior to my individual top level of mind are a form of enquiry that stands quite apart from invoking a thought process that says green eyed monsters have validity. In other words, the context within which I invoke a “something” is an altogether different and more valid context in which I might invoke the existence of such entities.

As I said, if hard rational and logical thought prevents me from holding such a distinction, then there surely needs to be some other category of thought that allows the distinction to hold in some manner. After all, if scientists can quite seriously discuss the many world interpretation in terms of continual branching using the pointers of mathematics then why can’t I also seriously invoke pointers that could be seen as implying a “something” prior to my individual top level of mind?

Just to reiterate in case there is any confusion on this matter. My position is not about being able to scientifically describe a "something" outside of my individual top level of mind, rather it is about the "validity" of the notion itself. I claim the notion has some kind of validity, admittedly a validity whose precise form I am struggling a bit with. All I am "sure" of (without being able to define that word) is that the notion has much more validity than the existence of a green eyed monster.

Cougar
2014-Jan-06, 01:46 PM
Ten million years ago, there were no humans - no science and no philosophy. But there must have been this evolving Earth we now inhabit. Wasn't there a "reality" independent of human minds then, especially since there were no human minds?

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 03:26 PM
But where I draw a line in the sand quite firmly concerns any implication that my personal choice of invoking an external reality is no different to invoking any notion (such as green eyed monsters) in terms of an overall context of what science can and cannot address.
I agree there is a difference between a mind independent reality and green-eyed monsters, but I claim that difference comes from you, so is a fundamental subjective difference. There is no demonstrable or testable difference, but that does not preclude you from seeing a difference all the same. That's the part that I tend to equate with faith-based beliefs, differences that the individual counts as important but cannot demonstrate the importance to anyone else disinclined to see that importance.

The bottom line is that I consider the “pointers” I invoke from within mind dependent reality as being indicative of “something” prior to my individual top level of mind are a form of enquiry that stands quite apart from invoking a thought process that says green eyed monsters have validity. In other words, the context within which I invoke a “something” is an altogether different and more valid context in which I might invoke the existence of such entities. I'd say the question there is, can a "pointer" mean just "a pointer", that that's all it is, without the thing that it "points to" actually existing? In other words, can I not have a sign that points "east", without there being any sign that says "you have arrived at east"? I would claim that it is the pointer that you find value in, not the place it points to. You can find value in a pointer because you can talk about a pointer, and indeed you have, but you cannot talk about the place it points to, so you might be skeptical that such a place exists-- maybe the pointer is just supposed to identify a direction.

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 03:28 PM
Ten million years ago, there were no humans - no science and no philosophy.Yes, the way we have all organized our perceptions and put together the concept of time, and seen evidence of events that fit nicely into our mental rubric as having occurred ten million years ago, is all consistent with your story. Of course, all of this is an example of how mind dependent reality is generated.
But there must have been this evolving Earth we now inhabit. Wasn't there a "reality" independent of human minds then, especially since there were no human minds?The story you are telling, including evolution, must be told by you. The story can include times when there was no you, and can extend into times when there will not be a you, but you still have to tell this story, it could never be told without a mind because it wouldn't mean anything. The rock does not care "how it got there", it just is.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-06, 04:42 PM
Another day with big workload, so gonna take a shot now and see if I can't get back later in the day.


... It sounds like you are talking about a model of mind independent reality, so you are asking, what if our models of mind independent reality are quite similar to our models of mind dependent reality? To which I would answer, they are indeed quite similar, in fact they are so similar as to be exactly the same, which is why they are actually models of mind dependent reality wearing only the label "mind independent" as if it meant something. But there is no scientific meaning behind that label, such a label can only have meaning infused into it by some kind of belief system, which follows different rules of meaning that go outside objective experience processed by minds. Since all concepts depend on minds, the concept of mind independent also depends on minds, so although the concept is mind dependent, what it is a concept of is something mind independent. No scientific approach could ever give that statement meaning, it has sprouted wings and flown out of the range of scientific study. But that doesn't disallow us from imagining it, or talking about it, or believing in it-- that just can't be done with science, because science has no idea how to infuse meaning into the words "a mind dependent concept of something mind independent". The reason is that it forms a fundamentally untestable hypothesis, which science must regard as a disallowable hypothesis (essentially because of Occam's Razor).

But what do you mean "reduced mental pictures"? Reduced from what? A mental picture is just what it is supposed to be, it is not "reduced" from something that isn't a mental picture. Our minds have an astounding capacity to create mental pictures, that is more or less what defines a mind, so minds being minds is not a reduction. It is the highest form of existence we've ever encountered in our experience, it is everything we can ever know about ourselves, why should we regard that as a reduction of what we really are? Why are we not just what we encounter when we encounter ourselves? We have a word for a rational extrapolation from reliable data, if by "rational" you mean "evidence-based": it is called a "scientific model". If the extrapolation goes beyond the testable model, it might not necessarily be "irrational", but it isn't scientific either....

... The mind dependent reality concept does not preclude the concepts of "internal" and "external" reality. Nothing stops our mind dependent reality from making useful distinctions like that. The same holds for objective and subjective elements of reality-- those are all part of the mind dependence of the reality concept, because it is our minds that say what is objective and what is subjective. There is neither objectivity nor subjectivity without minds, for what else is there to differentiate those, and there is no such thing as internal and external either. Can a rock say what is internal to the rock, and what is external to it?...

In quick form:

Science is all about and within MDR; works fine with no concern for MIR; still agree to that.
Anything in the mind is a filtered model/representation, so is never equivalent to the referents that inspire those models.
"Reduced mental picture" simply means the five senses we use and the scale we inhabit give a particular window of perception. All data that could be taken in theoretically is much less than that in practice; no 360º view, so to speak.
Any ideas/models about MIR are simply more MDR, yes.


What I am getting hung up on is this: Can competing MDR models for MIR be differentiated on any criteria? What I understand from your reasoning is they may not, within science, since we have no way of refuting or testing any such.

In brute form, my argument is: In MDR, you do not get reference (mind models) without referents (things causing them.) So, I think subscribing to the existence of a MIR is logical. I realize my idea of it is only an idea, but I do not find it in the same slippery category as pure faith. Evidence within MDR indicates that, as observer, I can detect organisms that operate in environs external to them. I lack the ability to observe us that way, but find it reasonable to posit that the same situation prevails. That's an MDR view of MIR that seems somehow less arbitrary to me.

(Now, back to the grind, aarghh.)

Len Moran
2014-Jan-06, 04:55 PM
I'd say the question there is, can a "pointer" mean just "a pointer", that that's all it is, without the thing that it "points to" actually existing? In other words, can I not have a sign that points "east", without there being any sign that says "you have arrived at east"? I would claim that it is the pointer that you find value in, not the place it points to. You can find value in a pointer because you can talk about a pointer, and indeed you have, but you cannot talk about the place it points to, so you might be skeptical that such a place exists-- maybe the pointer is just supposed to identify a direction.

Well maybe you are right in that the validity of the pointers can only concern their direction – but that satisfies me entirely because it is the direction that is important, the direction says that “something” other than my individual mind may be needed to account for some aspects of our reality. That’s all I want – a valid pointer that creates a context of nature as a whole that involves science in terms of mind dependent reality and “something” other than my individual mind dependent reality that is inaccessible via science. As to what that “something” is I can have no idea.

If people examine my pointers in terms of a “something” being prior to our individual minds and compare them with the pointers for a green eyed monster, I would expect (and hope) that a huge majority would say that my pointers were more valid. That’s all I’m looking for. That then places it on the same playing field as believing (for example) in a particular interpretation of QM, so when I say I believe there to be a "something" external to my individual mind I am using a thought process that is no different to those who invoke a particular interpretation of QM, it will be believed by some and not others.

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 06:08 PM
Science is all about and within MDR; works fine with no concern for MIR; still agree to that.Got it.


Anything in the mind is a filtered model/representation, so is never equivalent to the referents that inspire those models.I agree with the first part, but I am not sure what "referents" you refer to. Anything that I can concretely refer to as a referent is also a model, it is a model called "what I mean by a referent," and is built from my experiences and thoughts surrounding the "referent" concept.

"Reduced mental picture" simply means the five senses we use and the scale we inhabit give a particular window of perception. All data that could be taken in theoretically is much less than that in practice; no 360º view, so to speak.Yes, although I'd add "the ability to conceptualize" and the "ability to do logic" as additional elements of the mind that we use to generate scientific thoughts and models, that assist our five senses. So to me, your use of the word "reduced" is the same as my use of the words "scientific" or "evidence-based" or "objectively arguable." If that's what you mean by "reduced", then we are on the same page.

Any ideas/models about MIR are simply more MDR, yes.Yes, and this is the tricky part, because it seems we can think of a pointer that lives in mind dependent space, but if the concept of a pointer leads naturally to a concept of something pointed at, then we can imagine there is something mind independent "off the edge" of the MDR. That is Len's perspective. To me, I advocate a skeptical stance about what is "pointed at", such that the pointer can just be a pointer, like a sign pointing "East." But I do not mean that a skeptical attitude precludes finding value in something being pointed at, one might view a poem or an artwork as a kind of "pointer" to something sublime, and although the only demonstrable impact a poem or an artwork has on us is part of our MDR, it may infuse our MDR with an added quality to believe in something sublime that the poem or artwork is pointed "at." The skepticism I refer to relates only to the issue of whether we should regard ourselves as falling short of some kind of "true reality," because I think the true reality is the pointers, that's how we actually use those words in practice. What the pointers may, or may not, be pointed at are never actually used when we apply the reality concept in demonstrably practical ways, but we may find value in the belief all the same.

What I am getting hung up on is this: Can competing MDR models for MIR be differentiated on any criteria? What I understand from your reasoning is they may not, within science, since we have no way of refuting or testing any such.Yes, until someone can suggest such a test, the default conclusion seems to be that it is untestable. We can hold out hope that it might be testable, but let us ask ourselves, what if such a test is discovered, and carried out, and gives the result our minds associate with MIR? We would then teach this test to students, saying, "here is our evidence that the MIR actually exists, here is the tests it satisfies." The next day, we find ourselves teaching "here is our evidence that atoms exist, here are the tests this satisfies," and some clever student asks us, "how are the tests that atoms exist different from the tests that MIR exists, and if they aren't different, how can you say that atoms are in the MDR but the MIR is in the MIR?" Tests of the MIR must be judged by our minds, which pulls the MIR into the MDR. That is why the MIR is never testable, which is also why it is never scientific, but can be believed in all the same, for anyone who does not hold that testing is all things to all people.


In brute form, my argument is: In MDR, you do not get reference (mind models) without referents (things causing them.)That sounds like a "rule of reality" that you have come up with. What tells you that this is a good rule, is it the result of tests, so it is a scientific rule, or is it just something you choose to believe? To help you decide, consider Hume's insightful essay on causation, which ends with this tour de force:

"It is certain that the most ignorant and stupid peasants-nay infants, nay even brute beasts-improve by experience, and learn the qualities of natural objects, by observing the effects which result from them. When a child has felt the sensation of pain from touching the flame of a candle, he will be careful not to put his hand near any candle, but will expect a similar effect from a cause which is similar in its sensible qualities and appearance. If you assert, therefore, that the understanding of the child is led into this conclusion by any process of argument or ratiocination, I may justly require you to produce that argument, nor have you any pretence to refuse so equitable a demand. You cannot say that the argument is abstruse, and may possibly escape your enquiry; since you confess that it is obvious to the capacity of a mere infant. If you hesitate, therefore, a moment, or if, after reflection, you produce any intricate or profound argument, you, in a manner, give up the question, and confess that it is not reasoning which engages us to suppose the past resembling the future, and to expect similar effects from causes which are, to appearance, similar. This is the proposition which I intended to enforce in the present section. If I be right, I pretend not to have made any mighty discovery. And if I be wrong, I must acknowledge myself to be indeed a very backward scholar, since I cannot now discover an argument which, it seems, was perfectly familiar to me long before I was out of my cradle."

Hume is not saying causation is not a useful concept, indeed he holds it is the "cement that holds the universe together." But his essay shows that this "cement" is nothing we can argue as a conclusion of rigorous logic, we can only notice or model it, so I would hold that this implies the concept of causation rests firmly in the MDR, and any effort to lift it into some kind of MIR is an act of faith or belief that cannot cite any evidence in its favor (for the above reasons).

So, I think subscribing to the existence of a MIR is logical.This is the program that Len is also attempting. I remain skeptical that it is possible. We agree that no scientific evidence can be given that the MIR exists, so now the question is, can there be logical evidence. Your argument amounts to, you need referents to have references, which is a lot like saying you need causes to have effects. But note that in physics, we don't really have causes, we have unexplained initial conditions, and we have evolutionary rules. There is no "first cause", and there is nothing in the cause that must lead to the effect by logical necessity (that's Hume's point), so all we really have is a chain of events with consistencies that we notice and model. That is not a rigorous logical connection, but it is very much the staple of modelmaking in MDR.

So I don't think you have an MIR there, I just think you have a meta-model in the MDR. Perhaps one could recursively define an infinite chain of meta-models, and argue that their limit is somehow the MIR, which does not exist in the MDR, but logical proofs involving that chain apply only to every member in the chain, not to its limit (is infinity an even or odd number?). So you still end up thinking of the MIR as a kind of limit "outside the reach" of the MDR, but you cannot prove things about it, it now takes on more of the flavor of an axiom itself. I'm not a mathematician, so perhaps others might disagree with my characterization of the limit of, say, the sequence of integers, and what can be proved about it that is not actually being used as an axiom, it could be a fruitful path to investigate.


I realize my idea of it is only an idea, but I do not find it in the same slippery category as pure faith.All the same, the burden of proof lies heavy on your shoulders to establish that, because the most difficult thing of debating, say, creationists, is that they also feel that way! Any time someone who holds to a religious belief can say "I place this purely in the category of pure faith", there is nothing that anyone else can criticize there, everyone should be able to walk away perfectly happy. It is only when they say "but my belief is more than that, it is the MIR", then we can have a problem. Skepticism around the very existence of an MIR is one cure for this ill, but ironically, that is not a path that either most scientists, or most creationists, seem willing to follow!


Evidence within MDR indicates that, as observer, I can detect organisms that operate in environs external to them. I lack the ability to observe us that way, but find it reasonable to posit that the same situation prevails. That's an MDR view of MIR that seems somehow less arbitrary to me.No, that's pure MDR. There is nothing in the MDR that disallows us to categorize the MDR in pieces labeled "internal to me" and "external to me", even when we know that distinction is slightly artificial-- I hardly see how science could progress without embracing that concept at least to some degree.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-06, 08:29 PM
I agree with the first part, but I am not sure what "referents" you refer to. Anything that I can concretely refer to as a referent is also a model, it is a model called "what I mean by a referent," and is built from my experiences and thoughts surrounding the "referent" concept

Yes, I am forced to use things from within the MDR. Since it's a model with me inside, I cannot escape, true.


Yes, although I'd add "the ability to conceptualize" and the "ability to do logic" as additional elements of the mind that we use to generate scientific thoughts and models, that assist our five senses. So to me, your use of the word "reduced" is the same as my use of the words "scientific" or "evidence-based" or "objectively arguable." If that's what you mean by "reduced", then we are on the same page.

Ahem, yes, well, those extra caveats certainly apply in my case. Thanks.:cry:


Yes, and this is the tricky part, because it seems we can think of a pointer that lives in mind dependent space, but if the concept of a pointer leads naturally to a concept of something pointed at, then we can imagine there is something mind independent "off the edge" of the MDR. That is Len's perspective. To me, I advocate a skeptical stance about what is "pointed at", such that the pointer can just be a pointer, like a sign pointing "East." But I do not mean that a skeptical attitude precludes finding value in something being pointed at, one might view a poem or an artwork as a kind of "pointer" to something sublime, and although the only demonstrable impact a poem or an artwork has on us is part of our MDR, it may infuse our MDR with an added quality to believe in something sublime that the poem or artwork is pointed "at." The skepticism I refer to relates only to the issue of whether we should regard ourselves as falling short of some kind of "true reality," because I think the true reality is the pointers, that's how we actually use those words in practice. What the pointers may, or may not, be pointed at are never actually used when we apply the reality concept in demonstrably practical ways, but we may find value in the belief all the same.

I think I have not handled differentiating the bolded part well, as in an earlier post about a "beauty beyond." I do not think we fall short of a "true" or, perhaps more malicious/confusing, "truer" reality; I feel no need to commune with something deeper, nor seek a new-agish "transcendent connect."

I need to focus on where I think the pointers point, and my feeling is that it is to the same place I inhabit, only not depending on my mind to exist.


Yes, until someone can suggest such a test, the default conclusion seems to be that it is untestable. We can hold out hope that it might be testable, but let us ask ourselves, what if such a test is discovered, and carried out, and gives the result our minds associate with MIR? We would then teach this test to students, saying, "here is our evidence that the MIR actually exists, here is the tests it satisfies." The next day, we find ourselves teaching "here is our evidence that atoms exist, here are the tests this satisfies," and some clever student asks us, "how are the tests that atoms exist different from the tests that MIR exists, and if they aren't different, how can you say that atoms are in the MDR but the MIR is in the MIR?" Tests of the MIR must be judged by our minds, which pulls the MIR into the MDR. That is why the MIR is never testable, which is also why it is never scientific, but can be believed in all the same, for anyone who does not hold that testing is all things to all people.

Can I agree with churlish reluctance and, um, grumble malevolently in your general direction for it?


That sounds like a "rule of reality" that you have come up with. What tells you that this is a good rule, is it the result of tests, so it is a scientific rule, or is it just something you choose to believe? To help you decide, consider Hume's insightful essay on causation, which ends with this tour de force:

"It is certain that the most ignorant and stupid peasants-nay infants, nay even brute beasts-improve by experience, and learn the qualities of natural objects, by observing the effects which result from them. When a child has felt the sensation of pain from touching the flame of a candle, he will be careful not to put his hand near any candle, but will expect a similar effect from a cause which is similar in its sensible qualities and appearance. If you assert, therefore, that the understanding of the child is led into this conclusion by any process of argument or ratiocination, I may justly require you to produce that argument, nor have you any pretence to refuse so equitable a demand. You cannot say that the argument is abstruse, and may possibly escape your enquiry; since you confess that it is obvious to the capacity of a mere infant. If you hesitate, therefore, a moment, or if, after reflection, you produce any intricate or profound argument, you, in a manner, give up the question, and confess that it is not reasoning which engages us to suppose the past resembling the future, and to expect similar effects from causes which are, to appearance, similar. This is the proposition which I intended to enforce in the present section. If I be right, I pretend not to have made any mighty discovery. And if I be wrong, I must acknowledge myself to be indeed a very backward scholar, since I cannot now discover an argument which, it seems, was perfectly familiar to me long before I was out of my cradle."

Hume is not saying causation is not a useful concept, indeed he holds it is the "cement that holds the universe together." But his essay shows that this "cement" is nothing we can argue as a conclusion of rigorous logic, we can only notice or model it, so I would hold that this implies the concept of causation rests firmly in the MDR, and any effort to lift it into some kind of MIR is an act of faith or belief that cannot cite any evidence in its favor (for the above reasons).

I may quibble with Hume based on updated views of the brain, perhaps arguing that logic and reason are not only applied consciously, and that rule-making is demonstrably an unconscious process (e.g., language learning), so I do not require a process of consciously identified ratiocination, and can easily believe in "reasoning" infants... But, we are still left with cause-and-effect as model, and all inside the MDR (dang!)


This is the program that Len is also attempting. I remain skeptical that it is possible. We agree that no scientific evidence can be given that the MIR exists, so now the question is, can there be logical evidence. Your argument amounts to, you need referents to have references, which is a lot like saying you need causes to have effects. But note that in physics, we don't really have causes, we have unexplained initial conditions, and we have evolutionary rules. There is no "first cause", and there is nothing in the cause that must lead to the effect by logical necessity (that's Hume's point), so all we really have is a chain of events with consistencies that we notice and model. That is not a rigorous logical connection, but it is very much the staple of modelmaking in MDR...

So I don't think you have an MIR there, I just think you have a meta-model in the MDR. Perhaps one could recursively define an infinite chain of meta-models, and argue that their limit is somehow the MIR, which does not exist in the MDR, but logical proofs involving that chain apply only to every member in the chain, not to its limit (is infinity an even or odd number?). So you still end up thinking of the MIR as a kind of limit "outside the reach" of the MDR, but you cannot prove things about it, it now takes on more of the flavor of an axiom itself. I'm not a mathematician, so perhaps others might disagree with my characterization of the limit of, say, the sequence of integers, and what can be proved about it that is not actually being used as an axiom, it could be a fruitful path to investigate.

Hey, if I can get away with an axiom, I'll take it... math guys, help!


All the same, the burden of proof lies heavy on your shoulders...Sheesh, thanks!:boohoo:
...to establish that, because the most difficult thing of debating, say, creationists, is that they also feel that way! Any time someone who holds to a religious belief can say "I place this purely in the category of pure faith", there is nothing that anyone else can criticize there, everyone should be able to walk away perfectly happy. It is only when they say "but my belief is more than that, it is the MIR", then we can have a problem. Skepticism around the very existence of an MIR is one cure for this ill, but ironically, that is not a path that either most scientists, or most creationists, seem willing to follow!

Yeah, I don't want to share the same class as some forms of opinion, that's why all the wriggling around. More on how your skepticism is the cure, please. Know you've been saying it all along, and it seems to be stating that we aren't missing out on anything and are fine and dandy with no worries about MIR, even it the question seems to beg itself all the time. No real itch to scratch, and scratching is bad for us?


No, that's pure MDR. There is nothing in the MDR that disallows us to categorize the MDR in pieces labeled "internal to me" and "external to me", even when we know that distinction is slightly artificial-- I hardly see how science could progress without embracing that concept at least to some degree.

And the fact that it gives the appearance of being a nice basis for extrapolating from the pointers is what has me dizzy. I'm going over to the corner now and see if I can't tag team with Len; I'm getting tossed around here!

(And back to work before my boss, me, gets on my case, again.)

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 09:09 PM
Can I agree with churlish reluctance and, um, grumble malevolently in your general direction for it?
Certainly, it's a start!


Hey, if I can get away with an axiom, I'll take it... math guys, help!You can certainly get away with an axiom, that is more or less how "faith" projects into mathematics. Mathematicians don't need to "believe in" their axioms, they can (and probably should) view them purely as something structural, like the foundations of a building. Nevertheless, being humans, they often do regard axioms as having an element of semantic truth that is not just a metastructure built over those axioms (which would be no less arbitrary than the axioms themselves), and that is what faith looks like when a mathematician does it. Sort of like the faith that Godel's theorem is really an "incompleteness theorem", when all we can know is that it is an "incompleteness or inconsistency" theorem.

More on how your skepticism is the cure, please. Know you've been saying it all along, and it seems to be stating that we aren't missing out on anything and are fine and dandy with no worries about MIR, even it the question seems to beg itself all the time.The issue is, as soon as someone believes in MIR, it is natural for them to believe in various attributes of it. They might hold to a certain creation story, for example, because if the MIR exists, then its creation is part of MIR. Since our minds have no access to the MIR, our minds also have no way to prove or disprove the associated creation story, it's all pure belief. While there is nothing wrong with believing something if so doing provides personal value, the problem with associating that belief with MIR is that it can no longer be just a choice of belief, it has to be either right or wrong. Enter a creationist. If they hold that their belief corresponds to the MIR, and is right, then they have no interest in what story science tells, as they already believe they have the "right" story. If there is an MIR, you cannot say they are wrong, because you cannot know the "true attributes" of the MIR without using your mind to test those attributes, and that's what we call the MDR. A creationist is often uninterested in using their mind to test their version of the MIR (although some pretense is often put forward about that, but it is invariably not serious), because the real reason they hold to that MIR has nothing to do with tests or evidence-based reason. Ironically, that is perfectly consistent with the concept of an MIR, if it can be said to "exist", then it could be anything, including the way it is described in any religion.

This is the core problem with the entire MIR concept. A science-minded individual might use a different route to coming to their beliefs about the MIR, which they feel is more consistent with scientific thought. But it is not actually scientific thought, because it is not testable, nor does it generate any useful hypotheses which guide new observations. The MDR by itself is fully capable of all of that, because the MDR is our minds' effort to give meaning to the reality concept, via evidence, testing, and experience. So by holding to an MIR, a scientist merely opens a door that they cannot close, and others like creationists find it just as easy to pass through that door as the scientist does.

Ergo, one "cure" for that is simply to reject that there is anything through that door. This is the "cure" offered by antirealism. But others wish to open that door, they see value in what is beyond it, and those "others" include both realists and creationists, where here I refer to "creationists" simply as "people who hold to a particular creation story", not its more formal meaning "people who want to teach that story in science class." I don't think there is essentially anyone on this forum who thinks that creationism should be taught in science class as an alternative hypothesis, except to show how science dispenses with non-working hypotheses. But people who hold to a particular creation story based on faith, and not based on science, do not run afoul of any of the requirements of scientific thinking, as they are free to choose to reject that science is the path to knowing the MIR. That is the "door" I am talking about, if you want to open it for yourself, you really can't complain who else wants to use it too. I'm not saying you would, I'm just pointing out this issue, and saying that one way to sidestep the entire flashpoint is to take an agnostic or skeptical stance about the entire existence of an MIR. Ironically this is not the usual path that self-proclaimed "skeptics" take, which was one purpose of this thread, yet it is the true meaning of skepticism. But I'm not saying you have to be that skeptical, you might see value in a different approach.

No real itch to scratch, and scratching is bad for us?That sums it all up in far better words than I could find.

And the fact that it gives the appearance of being a nice basis for extrapolating from the pointers is what has me dizzy. I'm going over to the corner now and see if I can't tag team with Len; I'm getting tossed around here!Yes, I think Len's idea of "pointers" is a useful one indeed, but perhaps not in the way he wishes to use the concept! To me, it is like if people lived their whole lives in a town that had one sign that said "East" and pointed one way, and another sign that said "West" and pointed the other way, they could perfectly well know when they were "going east" or "going west" without ever needing to generate a concept of "going toward a place called East" or "going toward a place called West." And yet, if you did see those signs every day, you might form that concept all the same, without critically examining whether it is really a necessary concept, and whether it really means anything or not. But I guess the whole question is rather similar to the issue of, when we deal with numbers all the time, do we need a concept of infinity, even though it's not a number like the rest? Mathematicians have found a way to formalize infinity, and it makes certain structures easier to deal with, but isn't that just what we mean by taking an axiom to create a more convenient structure? Isn't that just what "faith" is?

Len Moran
2014-Jan-06, 10:38 PM
Perhaps there are other kinds of pointers to a "something" outside of mind dependent reality.

Within entanglement, space (and hence time if we invoke space-time) becomes redundant as an interpretation of the correlation, yet that redundancy cannot be used in terms of familiar concepts. The inability to use attributes of a verified model is something that we do not associate with mind dependent reality - we expect to be able to utilize (in principle) all attributes of a working model.

Dare I conjecture that within this interpretation the breakdown of the model's utility points to a "something" that does not reside within mind dependent reality in that the breakdown is an indication of phenomena "straddling" the divide between mind dependent reality and the "something" that does not invoke familiar concepts of space and time as they show themselves within mind dependent reality.

If such a conjecture were thought to have some merit, the icing on that particular cake involves the fact that such a conjecture does not rely on a theory of QM that could in time be replaced, rather it relies on a theorem that can never be superseded.

Ken G
2014-Jan-06, 11:21 PM
Within entanglement, space (and hence time if we invoke space-time) becomes redundant as an interpretation of the correlation, yet that redundancy cannot be used in terms of familiar concepts. The inability to use attributes of a verified model is something that we do not associate with mind dependent reality - we expect to be able to utilize (in principle) all attributes of a working model.
To me that just sounds like "our model is not as good as we might like." A classic example of that is the model of motion known as "a trajectory." Back in Newton's time, that model was taken pretty literally, but I would argue that it should never have been taken literally, because that's always the wrong thing to do with a model. The right thing to do with a model is to say "this model allows me to understand motion in a way that I didn't before", not "this model is the same thing as motion." We should not be surprised that our models of motion are not perfect, because motion was our idea in the first place, and we have no guarantee that we will be able to perfectly model our ideas. Our idea of motion helps us give meaning to reality, and our idea of a trajectory gives our ideas of motion some predictive power and mathematical precision, but the two were never guaranteed to be the same thing, so we should not have been so surprised when we found out they weren't. The same for our ideas about the identity of particles, and the concepts of causation and correlation, all of which get turned on their heads by entanglement.


Dare I conjecture that within this interpretation the breakdown of the model's utility points to a "something" that does not reside within mind dependent reality in that the breakdown is an indication of phenomena "straddling" the divide between mind dependent reality and the "something" that does not invoke familiar concepts of space and time as they show themselves within mind dependent reality. I think that requires expecting more from models than we have a right to. We used to model space like it was able to specify definite locations, now we think it only refers to relative distances. Did our thinking space needed those added elements that it turned out not to need imply that there is something mind independent that space could not account for, or just that space was not a perfectly well suited model in the first place? In other words, we squeezed some value out of the models for the quest to give reality meaning, generating the concept of an MDR that Newton and friends lived in, but there are better models that can do it even more accurately or elegantly, and they generate a modified concept of an MDR that we get to live in.

profloater
2014-Jan-07, 08:27 AM
I agree with Ken that the last hundred years of quantum thinking reinforces the awareness that our reality at human scale, while seeming super consistent as a consensus is a long way from an understanding of how things work at the atomic scale. Our understanding of the microscopic is so mathematical that we are forced to concede we only have a model and that's all we have. We are forced to conclude we can not know about some of the biggest questions, like how the universe started or whether there is external agency in the universe. Or a plan dare I say! Our reality is amazing but we must be humble and recognise our working assumptions.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-07, 11:41 AM
I know I am going to regret posting in this thread... :rolleyes: but nonetheless....

First a Bertrand Russell quote on "was the world created 5 minutes ago":


There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that “remembered” a wholly unreal past. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago. Hence the occurrences which are CALLED knowledge of the past are logically independent of the past; they are wholly analysable into present contents, which might, theoretically, be just what they are even if no past had existed.
I am not suggesting that the non-existence of the past should be entertained as a serious hypothesis. Like all sceptical hypotheses, it is logically tenable, but uninteresting.
Betrand Russell knew it was a hypothesis not worthy of consideration.

I hold the Bertrand Russell stand in respect to this whole "you can't prove there is a mind independent reality" discussion.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-07, 12:48 PM
I hold the Bertrand Russell stand in respect to this whole "you can't prove there is a mind independent reality" discussion.

I think the real question concerns the usefulness of the notion - it serves no purpose within science and has no scientific connection to the scientific method, science can can only have applicability in terms of mind. Mind independent reality (at least in terms of naive realism) seems to be invoked in order to satisfy what satisfies us - namely that the construct of me, space and a rock is somehow absolute with no reference to individual minds. I think Russell wanted that scenario but he knew he couldn't set it in stone, so he made the question go away by describing a refutation of mind independent reality as being uninteresting.

But if we wish to look closely at nature with and without individual minds, mind independent reality is seen as being a matter of faith in comparison to rational and logical knowledge gleaned of mind dependent reality. So Russell should have turned the tables around and instead said that whilst useful as a notion to some of us as a "something" existing outside of our construct of mind dependent reality, mind independent reality has no use in terms of rational and logical thought and is therefore uninteresting.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-07, 01:00 PM
But if we wish to look closely at nature with and without individual minds, mind independent reality is seen as being a matter of faith in comparison to rational and logical knowledge gleaned of mind dependent reality. So Russell should have turned the tables around and instead said that whilst useful as a notion to some of us as a "something" existing outside of our construct of mind dependent reality, mind independent reality has no use in terms of rational and logical thought and is therefore uninteresting.
But Len, what is rational and logical about day dreams in mind dependent reality? Certainly not QM.

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 03:11 PM
We are forced to conclude we can not know about some of the biggest questions, like how the universe started or whether there is external agency in the universe.I agree with everything you said except this. In my opinion, we are never forced to conclude that, because as soon as we are sure that we cannot know the answer to some question, it probably means we have not figured out how to give that question meaning, which means it's not a question at all. Classical examples of this might seem to include "which slit did the photon go through", "how did the universe begin", and "is there agency". If these questions are unanswerable by science, then the mission for science is to find ways to give meaning to "which slit", a "beginning", and "agency", and until it can do that, it must hold that the questions themselves are ill posed. Of course, when science does find a way to give meaning to "which slit", as it has already done, we find we have to expand the question to keep it meaningful: the question is then "in an experiment that does have a way to detect which slit, which slit did the photon go through." So the issue is how to let our words have meaning, and how science does that differently from, say, art. This is the point I keep returning to, we have to get away from the concept of "absolute meaning" of our words, for that is an oxymoron.

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 03:18 PM
Betrand Russell knew it was a hypothesis not worthy of consideration.And I agree with him completely, the hypothesis "the world was created 5 minutes ago" is not a hypothesis worthy of consideration, that exact point is quite central to my entire thesis. Now you simply need to ask yourself, is that hypothesis an example of an MDR, or an MIR? The way MDR has been defined here is, "our way of taking our thoughts and experiences and organizing them in such a way as to give meaning to the idea of reality." Note the 5-minute idea is not that, but it is a type of MIR! The key point is, it is not useful because there is no way to test it, it promotes no new knowledge about reality, nor does it suggest any new informative experiments. All of which is true of the MIR itself, which has been may main criticism of the idea from the start.

Now, of course if someone finds personal value in the idea that the universe was created 5 minutes ago but appears like it had a Big Bang, there's nothing anyone can say to refute that, as long as the person also holds that this is an article of pure faith. If they start claiming this idea should be taught in science class as an alternative hypothesis, only then is Russell's (and my) criticism valid.


I hold the Bertrand Russell stand in respect to this whole "you can't prove there is a mind independent reality" discussion.Actually, Len and I agree that you are holding the opposite position!

Chuck
2014-Jan-07, 04:38 PM
If everything that I see exists only in my mind, I still detect two kinds of trees, those that I can cause to be on fire just by thinking that they're on fire and those that I can't and must take other action to cause to be on fire. It would be nice to have a word to use to distinguish between the two kinds. If I'm just imagining everything I see, the word "real" doesn't refer to anything, so I'll use that word to label the trees that I can't cause to be on fire at will.

This will work well since it won't confuse any other people who might actually exist independently of my mind.

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 04:53 PM
If everything that I see exists only in my mind, I still detect two kinds of trees, those that I can cause to be on fire just by thinking that they're on fire and those that I can't and must take other action to cause to be on fire.True enough, though what most people mean by "a tree" is only the latter.

It would be nice to have a word to use to distinguish between the two kinds.I think the standard parlance would be "imaginary tree" for the first type.
If I'm just imagining everything I see, the word "real" doesn't refer to anything, so I'll use that word to label the trees that I can't cause to be on fire at will.Yes, that is the standard usage, and that is indeed how the world "real" does end up referring to something, it refers to all the mental work that must go into that meaning. We have a huge body of experience, based on consistencies of perception and thought, and often comparing notes with other minds, that we draw on to decide the difference between a real tree and an imaginary tree (not to mention what is a tree, and what is a bush or a shrub). This is all mind-dependent reality, it is the mind-dependent meaning of the word reality, and the word tree.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-07, 05:07 PM
At this point, for the sake of convenience, for me the word "reality" on CQ shall refer henceforth to the objective consensual picture we share in MDR, full stop. We use science to explore that reality, which is the only reality we can talk about reliably, and can even use words like external and internal, objective and subjective.

I am tossing MIR into the can of worms, and the real thing to take away, apart from never pining for a transcendental connect, or "truer" or more "real" real (or at least, doing so only when Ken G is busy correcting exams and suitably out of commission, heh heh,) is to remember that models are models, words and concepts are abstractions of convenience, and due to constraints, we cannot take in the whole of even this MDR reality at once, nor fully.

The final caveat is to be particularly, astoundingly cautious with social and political theory, regardless of stripe, as not only are such models never a perfect fit nor entirely explanatory, but are often hardly science, and when shoved on top of life they can cut off all the delightful quirky bits that stick out and make it as rich and nice as it is.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-07, 05:14 PM
But Len, what is rational and logical about day dreams in mind dependent reality? Certainly not QM.


Well I suppose rational and logical thought via the mind is all we have to address the unusual behaviour of QM. Whether that is sufficient to deal with the questions posed by weak objectivity at the quantum level seems besides the point to me, its all we have. You seem to be questioning the validity of rational and logical thought, which may be a valid question, I'm not sure. What does seem to be the case is, if we take as a premise that rational and logical thought is the preferred means of acquiring knowledge, then that knowledge can only refer to the arena in which there exists the means by which to carry that process out. Which, despite much protest on my part against this assertion from Ken, means that, in terms of scientific and philosophical knowledge, we are prisoners within mind dependent reality (if of course we adopt the premise that rational and logical thought is the preferred method of establishing such knowledge). Doesn't mean we can't walk out of the prison of course, it just means that we can only talk about the outside in terms of faith.

Buttercup
2014-Jan-07, 05:18 PM
I should think so.

The difference between subjective and objective.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-07, 05:22 PM
I am tossing MIR into the can of worms, and the real thing to take away, apart from never pining for a transcendental connect, or "truer" or more "real" real (or at least, doing so only when Ken G is busy correcting exams and suitably out of commission, heh heh,)

Well I'm going to pine for a "Real" whether Ken is correcting exams or not! I may be in prison but it doesn't stop me pointing to it!

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-07, 06:00 PM
And I agree with him completely, the hypothesis "the world was created 5 minutes ago" is not a hypothesis worthy of consideration, that exact point is quite central to my entire thesis. Now you simply need to ask yourself, is that hypothesis an example of an MDR, or an MIR? The way MDR has been defined here is, "our way of taking our thoughts and experiences and organizing them in such a way as to give meaning to the idea of reality." Note the 5-minute idea is not that, but it is a type of MIR! The key point is, it is not useful because there is no way to test it, it promotes no new knowledge about reality, nor does it suggest any new informative experiments. All of which is true of the MIR itself, which has been may main criticism of the idea from the start.
The difference is that while "the world was created 5 minutes ago" is a hypothesis not worthy of consideration, MIR is. It is very meaningful as its existence feeds the senses input for MDR. Where are the stimuli of the senses coming from? All imagination?


Now, of course if someone finds personal value in the idea that the universe was created 5 minutes ago but appears like it had a Big Bang, there's nothing anyone can say to refute that, as long as the person also holds that this is an article of pure faith. If they start claiming this idea should be taught in science class as an alternative hypothesis, only then is Russell's (and my) criticism valid.
Actually, Len and I agree that you are holding the opposite position!But if I can not prove to you that MIR exists, you can not prove it doesn't exist either.
What are you saying are the components of MDR? Just the thought process? If so, do you know if the senses actually exist? After all, they are part of MIR aren't they? If not, why not? I read a science fiction short story once, where human brains were kept in vats and feed signals, creating an imaginary world for them. Is this what you consider the MDR situation to be?

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 06:26 PM
At this point, for the sake of convenience, for me the word "reality" on CQ shall refer henceforth to the objective consensual picture we share in MDR, full stop. We use science to explore that reality, which is the only reality we can talk about reliably, and can even use words like external and internal, objective and subjective.
We should probably further qualify that as "objective reality" or "scientific reality". On a science forum, "reality" could be taken as synonymous with "scientific reality" unless otherwise stated, as long as we are clear that subjective aspects of reality are not being ruled out, rather they are not our concern here. MDR is a bit broader though, it can embrace both the concepts of objective and subjective reality. But we're not here to discuss the latter, so we can say that our interest is "the concept of reality that science finds demonstrably useful to apply, the claims that science makes on reality in order to be effective." That's more or less the same thing as "objective reality", a subset of MDR.

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 06:28 PM
Well I'm going to pine for a "Real" whether Ken is correcting exams or not! I may be in prison but it doesn't stop me pointing to it!
This reminds me of something an educator I respect highly once said. He said that if he asked his class on an exam, "do you personally hold that evolution is the truth", he felt the best possible answer is, "that's really none of your business." The only question that could be graded on a test is, "what is by far the best scientific and demonstrably testable model for accounting for the appearance of species", and for that, there is indeed a correct answer.

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 06:40 PM
The difference is that while "the world was created 5 minutes ago" is a hypothesis not worthy of consideration, MIR is. It is very meaningful as its existence feeds the senses input for MDR.What if I felt the same way about the claim that the world began 5 minutes ago? What tests can you suggest to distinguish the two?
Where are the stimuli of the senses coming from? All imagination?From the creation event-- 5 minutes ago, of course!


But if I can not prove to you that MIR exists, you can not prove it doesn't exist either. The point is, I don't need to. I also don't need to prove there are no faeries in my garden. If someone wants to hold that flowers require the coaxing of faeries to explain how they grow, I cannot prove they are wrong. I can only ask, "what experimental tests does that hypothesis suggest?" When the answer is "none, faeries function outside of my experiments", then I cannot say anything more than I can say about your MIR. Your MIR is just your faeries that explain why the MDR works the way it does. That is what Russell is saying has no purpose-- it suggests no experiments, it guides no theories, and it is not testable, just like the hypothesis that the universe was created 5 minutes ago.


What are you saying are the components of MDR? The MDR is comprised or our mental pictures, perceptions, and thoughts, organized in such a way as to provide meaning to the "reality" concept. We have a "reality" concept for various reasons, largely based on how it allows us to function better, be happier, live longer, and so on. We hold that this concept is useful based on experience of using it, and for no other reason. That is what "evidence" is.

If so, do you know if the senses actually exist? Your issue here is that you keep coming from the perspective that "existence" already exists. Note the logical paradox there, it makes no sense. "Existence" is not handed to us, it is a word that we have created, and we give its meaning. So when we say that senses exist, then they do, because that's what we mean by existence. We don't have to "know" senses exist, it's our word.


After all, they are part of MIR aren't they? If not, why not?They are not part of MIR, for the demonstrable reason that senses involve minds. Does anything that has no mind "sense" in the way you mean? Is a tree "sensing" the wind when it bends to it? We say it's a tree, we say there is wind, and we make the connection there, all in our minds, and all based on making sense of our perceptions and thoughts. That doesn't mean our minds could make the tree not bend, it just means our minds are giving meaning to all these truths, even those that our minds do not control.

I read a science fiction short story once, where human brains were kept in vats and feed signals, creating an imaginary world for them. Is this what you consider the MDR situation to be?That's what your MIR is, after altering some indistinguishable and untestable (and thus I would say scientifically meaningless) details. The MDR is only about what leads to testable hypotheses, in regard to objective reality, or what leads to value for individuals, in regard to subjective reality.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-07, 09:30 PM
Belief in an MIR raises the 'noise' level for science's development of MDR based objective reality.

Holding that there is a reality independent from the concepts science builds, (or even MDR conceived 'pointers'), places an even greater emphasis on the need for familiarity with whatever distinguishes objective reality from the 'noise'. This is the responsibility which accompanies indulgences such as holding beliefs like MIR.

Holding MIR to be 'true' is counterproductive to science in the long run.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-07, 10:10 PM
What if I felt the same way about the claim that the world began 5 minutes ago? What tests can you suggest to distinguish the two?From the creation event-- 5 minutes ago, of course!
The 5 minute one is ridiculous, the MIR is certainly not.

And what about the claim that there is no MIR?


The point is, I don't need to. I also don't need to prove there are no faeries in my garden. If someone wants to hold that flowers require the coaxing of faeries to explain how they grow, I cannot prove they are wrong. I can only ask, "what experimental tests does that hypothesis suggest?" When the answer is "none, faeries function outside of my experiments", then I cannot say anything more than I can say about your MIR. Your MIR is just your faeries that explain why the MDR works the way it does. That is what Russell is saying has no purpose-- it suggests no experiments, it guides no theories, and it is not testable, just like the hypothesis that the universe was created 5 minutes ago.
Why do you always come up faeries?

The MDR is comprised or our mental pictures, perceptions, and thoughts, organized in such a way as to provide meaning to the "reality" concept. We have a "reality" concept for various reasons, largely based on how it allows us to function better, be happier, live longer, and so on. We hold that this concept is useful based on experience of using it, and for no other reason. That is what "evidence" is.
But where does this input come from?

Your issue here is that you keep coming from the perspective that "existence" already exists. Note the logical paradox there, it makes no sense. "Existence" is not handed to us, it is a word that we have created, and we give its meaning. So when we say that senses exist, then they do, because that's what we mean by existence. We don't have to "know" senses exist, it's our word.
Well, call it something else other than existence. Or at this rate, everything is just words. So why even discuss anything?

They are not part of MIR, for the demonstrable reason that senses involve minds. Does anything that has no mind "sense" in the way you mean? Is a tree "sensing" the wind when it bends to it? We say it's a tree, we say there is wind, and we make the connection there, all in our minds, and all based on making sense of our perceptions and thoughts. That doesn't mean our minds could make the tree not bend, it just means our minds are giving meaning to all these truths, even those that our minds do not control.
Let me put it this way: When you say "mind" or "senses", you are not referring to anything physical are you? You mean the software and not the hardware? Yet the brain is fed by sensorial impulses, which are physical.

That's what your MIR is, after altering some indistinguishable and untestable (and thus I would say scientifically meaningless) details. The MDR is only about what leads to testable hypotheses, in regard to objective reality, or what leads to value for individuals, in regard to subjective reality.
Lost me here: isn't objective reality = MIR, and subjective reality = MDR?

I still don't get it: what feeds the brain to create MDR? Seems like your arguments preclude discussing anything other than mental images, without explaing how they are generated.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-07, 10:18 PM
Belief in an MIR raises the 'noise' level for science's development of MDR based objective reality.
Who wants an MDR which is an Alice in Wonderland picture not corresponding to MIR?


Holding that there is a reality independent from the concepts science builds, (or even MDR conceived 'pointers'), places an even greater emphasis on the need for familiarity with whatever distinguishes objective reality from the 'noise'. This is the responsibility which accompanies indulgences such as holding beliefs like MIR.

Holding MIR to be 'true' is counterproductive to science in the long run.
Two threads, close to 30 pages, and I initially opened a Pandora's box and still can not grasp the slippery, lenghty posts. MIR might be counterproductive to science in the sense that we have problems investigating in an experimental fashion extreme conditions in MIR, so we result to MDR models like QM, not to investigate MIR, but to predict the outcome of experiments. So, if the foremost goal of science is an abstract mathematical model to make correct predictions, OK. That's how I, as "creationalist" and "believer in faries" see it.;)

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 11:12 PM
The 5 minute one is ridiculous, the MIR is certainly not.But on what basis do you make that claim? This is what you have never been able to say, you have never been able to answer what aspect of your version of an MIR can you demonstrate is any better than any other quasi-magical connection between someone else's and the MDR that all of we with similar minds and perceptions deal in. There is only one reason you have been able to give, and this is the sole reason that exists: you prefer to imagine things work that way, though you cannot produce any evidence to support that preference. You don't have to, preferences do not require evidence, but they do need to be recognized as such. That has been my entire point, the MIR serves no purpose at all except to satisfy the preferences of the individuals who prefer it. That is a reasonably good reason for it, but notice that it is also the reason behind a lot of what we would describe as religious faith.

And what about the claim that there is no MIR?Personally I don't mean to assert "there is no MIR", but rather "I see no demonstrable value in the supposition of an MIR." I cannot assert its lack of existence, but I also cannot say faeries don't exist (not that the two are completely the same, they are just two things I cannot say don't exist.)



Why do you always come up faeries? It's just an example of a quasi-magical connection between an MIR and an MDR. I'm saying that any connection between an MIR and an MDR is just like that, and no one has been able to give me any counterexamples. The connection is just one thing: you like to imagine it, that's it, that's the connection. If it was anything more, you could tell me an experiment that comes out A if there is a connection like you picture, and not A if there isn't, but no one has done that yet, not in this entire thread.


But where does this input come from? What says it has to "come from" anywhere? What do you say when people ask you "but where did the universe come from"? The answer is essentially the same: we have no way to give any kind of evidence-based answer to that question, it's just a big ???. Choose any answer you want!


Well, call it something else other than existence. Or at this rate, everything is just words. So why even discuss anything?
What there is to discuss is what the words mean, and how can we give them meaning.


Let me put it this way: When you say "mind" or "senses", you are not referring to anything physical are you? You mean the software and not the hardware? Yet the brain is fed by sensorial impulses, which are physical. I'm saying that "physical" and "mental" are both concepts, formed, you guessed it, in your mind. I have no accounting for how your mind pulled off that trick, it's an amazing feat, all I know is that no experiment can even begin to address anything but the concepts that we do manage to form, concepts like "physical" and "mental." We are beholden to our minds, our minds are the creators of our science, and all our scientific concepts and progress. How did our minds do it? That's a bit hard to say, given what we need to use to answer it.


Lost me here: isn't objective reality = MIR, and subjective reality = MDR?A thousand times no, they are both MDR, and quite demonstrably so. Just tell me what you mean by those two phrases, and I will show you the role of minds in both.


I still don't get it: what feeds the brain to create MDR? Seems like your arguments preclude discussing anything other than mental images, without explaing how they are generated.We can certainly discuss how mental images are generated, but we will be doing so via the use of mental images.

Ken G
2014-Jan-07, 11:13 PM
So, if the foremost goal of science is an abstract mathematical model to make correct predictions, OK. That's how I, as "creationalist" and "believer in faries" see it.;)And that's actually fine-- someone who holds to a belief does not need to justify it to anyone except themself. They just need to see that it isn't evidence-based, as science uses the term.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-08, 01:43 AM
So, if the foremost goal of science is an abstract mathematical model to make correct predictions, OK. That's how I, as "creationalist" and "believer in faries" see it.;)And that's actually fine-- someone who holds to a belief does not need to justify it to anyone except themself. They just need to see that it isn't evidence-based, as science uses the term.They should also refrain from making judgments about science's goals whilst voluntarily choosing to be imprisoned within an MIR perspective, too.

Alas, this may not be a easy as it sounds ...(?)

Chuck
2014-Jan-08, 05:16 AM
It seems safe enough to claim that there's a reality external to my mind. Anyone else who might be out there would know I was right. If I'm wrong it's not embarrassing because no one else knows it.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-08, 06:06 AM
All right, Ken, I see where you and the philosophers are coming from, and the mistake in "logical inference" you are making:

Our sense of smell (a rose smells "good", a skunk smells "bad"), our sense of hearing (a sound is "melodious", another one is "irritating"), our sense of sight, to a certain extent (concepts of color, beauty, "someone looks aggressive", "someone looks kind", etc.), our sense of taste ("delicious", "nauseous"), our sense of touch ("smooth", "rough") - these all deliver that which can be safely termed "mind dependent reality". Without us, they cease to exist. So far so good. This is a "reality" specific to us and, in varying degrees, to other forms of life on earth as well. This is an example of "mind dependent reality" created by our minds, to survive in the world.

So now along come the philosophers and claim, "If the above hold true, then why not everything else as well?".

Having created a mind dependent reality with the above, they "logically" go on to put everything into the same category as well. They say it holds true for time, matter, space, etc.

You just can't do that. Sure, you will argue: it is "logical". However, in logic an argument can be true, while its conclusion is false. You philosophers are suffering from "belief bias": When you are evaluating an argument, the heuristic component of the reasoning process encourage you to accept the conclusions you believe and reject the conclusions you don’t believe. The analytic component encourages us to accept or reject a conclusion based on a mental model of the argument. Yes, I know, you could argue that applies to my counterposition, so we have a stalemate. Yet, my position makes "sense", while yours don't. :whistle:

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-08, 08:12 AM
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please" Mark Twain.

“Science manipulates things and gives up living in them. It makes its own limited models of things; operating upon these indices or variables to effect whatever transformations are permitted by their definition, it comes face to face with the real world only at rare intervals. Science is and always will be that admirably active, ingenious, and bold way of thinking whose fundamental bias is to treat everything as though it were an object-in-general - as though it meant nothing to us and yet was predestined for our own use.”
― Maurice Merleau-Ponty, L'oeil et l'esprit

It was Merleau-Ponty’s contention that science and too much abstraction had resulted in a philosophical tendency to reduce every phenomena, every object, every person to nothing more than collected data. Merleau-Ponty believed that philosophers had a duty to relate things as they were viewed, not as science described them.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-08, 09:08 AM
The Black Knight (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Knight_%28Monty_Python%29#Overview) bravely exclaims:

"Come back here and take what's coming to ya! I'll bite your legs off!"

;)

KlausH
2014-Jan-08, 11:49 AM
All right, Ken, I see where you and the philosophers are coming from, and the mistake in "logical inference" you are making...
Respectfully: No, you don't.

I have been participating in such discussions for over 30 years.
In fact, my motive to study mathematics and physics was to understand "was die Welt im innersten zusammenhält" (a Goethe quote that roughly translates to "that I may understand what holds the world together in its inmost folds").

In my long history of such discussions I have learned that many people just don't have the mindset to successfully or constructively partake in them.
I don't mean that in the least condescending. It is just like some people have a talent for math and others just don't. That doesn't make one "better" than the other; it's just the way it is.

Those kind of discussions require a level of abstraction and questioning of dearly held beliefs and convictions that some minds don't seem to be able or willing to engage in.

Not to diminish his eloquence and depth of understanding but what Ken G and others have elaborated on (in this and the other current thread) are basic ontological (and logical!) understandings - dare I say: trivialities.

It is very unfortunate when people who don't understand that belittle philosophy (which to me is a basic human endeavor) and then proclaim that their position just makes more sense.

Neither the MDR nor the MIR proponents have any scientific justification for their position, no matter how much they may try.
Both are belief systems and must remain as such. None is better than the other.

Shouldn't this teach us some humility and a basic human compassion for each other?

Len Moran
2014-Jan-08, 12:41 PM
Neither the MDR nor the MIR proponents have any scientific justification for their position, no matter how much they may try.
Both are belief systems and must remain as such. None is better than the other.


Well you are the first person to suggest a key is available to allow an escape from my enforced (very) long term stay within mind dependent prison in terms of being able to use rational and logical thought. The two threads have pretty much converged in terms of the premise that rational and logical thought are the only means in which to gain knowledge of reality. Since the means by which rational and logical thought is invoked is non existent within MIR, enquiry into that realm has to be via something other than rational and logical thought - faith seems to be the favourite alternative at the moment.

So in terms of this criteria of knowledge, the general theme of the threads has been to come down on the side of MDR (gzhpcu's viewpoint being the most persistent opposition to that direction) as having legitimacy with MIR having none. You however seem to be taking us back to exactly what I thought to be the case before taking part, namely you say neither is better than the other (though to be fair, you don't specify the criteria of "better", so perhaps I'm jumping the gun) - hence my suggestion that you may have a key for me. I await with eager anticipation for further clarification if the possibility of my release from mind dependent prison is imminent in terms of my wishing to invoke rational and logical thought from outside of MDR.

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 02:25 PM
It seems safe enough to claim that there's a reality external to my mind. Anyone else who might be out there would know I was right.BY "anyone", I presume you mean "anyone with a mind", correct? See the importance of that? And, why did you say "external" to your mind, which is quite different from "independent" of your mind? Internal and external are mental concepts, are they not? Do they mean something to a rock?

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 02:33 PM
So far so good. This is a "reality" specific to us and, in varying degrees, to other forms of life on earth as well. This is an example of "mind dependent reality" created by our minds, to survive in the world.
OK, I'm with you so far.


So now along come the philosophers and claim, "If the above hold true, then why not everything else as well?". Not quite, I am not saying "why not regard everything else as mind dependent", I'm saying "give me something else, and I will gladly demonstrate to you conclusively exactly why that thing you just gave me is mind dependent." That's quite a bit different!

The analytic component encourages us to accept or reject a conclusion based on a mental model of the argument.There is no mental model of the argument, because an argument is a mental model, and words do label concepts of the mind. Or, do you hold that the argument you are now presenting is independent of your mind?


Yes, I know, you could argue that applies to my counterposition, so we have a stalemate. Yet, my position makes "sense", while yours don't. And let's look at that. Your argument "makes sense"... to your left toe? I presume you mean it makes sense to your mind. So you have used your mind to form an argument about how reality is, based on the way your mind as "made sense" of things, yes? That's exactly what we mean by "mind dependent reality". As I said before, all you are doing is presenting your mind dependent reality, and attaching the label "mind independent" on it, even though it quite demonstrably isn't.

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 02:37 PM
It was Merleau-Ponty’s contention that science and too much abstraction had resulted in a philosophical tendency to reduce every phenomena, every object, every person to nothing more than collected data. Merleau-Ponty believed that philosophers had a duty to relate things as they were viewed, not as science described them.And I agree wholeheartedly with him. His quote sounds much more like a caution about logical positivism and reductionism to me, I don't hear anything in it that does not sound perfectly mind dependent. Witness the importance of "meaning", for example! When Meleau-Ponty calls on us to recognize that things "meaning something" to us, do you think he is not invoking the power of our minds?

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 02:51 PM
Not to diminish his eloquence and depth of understanding but what Ken G and others have elaborated on (in this and the other current thread) are basic ontological (and logical!) understandings - dare I say: trivialities.Yes, I agree, and I'm reminded of Hume's words where he points out there is no logical necessity embedded in the concept of cause and effect but rather we simply notice consistencies of connections (which I interpret as meaning that cause-and-effect is a component of MDR not MIR, in that we organize the connections but gain no power over them by imagining we can account for them), and goes on to say that he claims he has made no great discovery, indeed it's more like he has given up the effort of trying to make a great discovery by concluding there is no great discovery to be made (unless that is itself a great discovery).


Neither the MDR nor the MIR proponents have any scientific justification for their position, no matter how much they may try.
Both are belief systems and must remain as such. None is better than the other.Yet there is a sense to which there is a "scientific justification" for framing reality strictly as a MDR, but it is not the usual evidence-based argument you may be referring to as a strong justification. It is more like the Occam's Razor approach, which is essentially the reason we have no aether in relativity. There is no law of relativity that stipulates "there is no aether," and any individual is perfectly allowed to imagine that there is an aether, and it controls the speed that light propagates. That's just like the MIR, the MIR is a type of aether. So there is no evidence-based scientific justification to eliminate the aether, but there is a kind of justification, which is simply that we don't need it-- it makes no predictions, it motivates no testable hypotheses (since Michelson-Morely showed that it covers its tracks perfectly). Maybe it will be back someday, when we need it again, but for now, we don't, so it is not unusual for relativity to be taught like "here is why we reject the aether concept". I agree with you that it does not have to be taught that way, there would not be anything "unjustifiable" to say "let's face it folks, we want some kind of aether, but it appears to have strange properties that make it impossible to observe any direct consequences of it." But I would still respond, "what do you mean we want that, I don't", which means that science should be built from the minimal set of assumptions. The MDR cannot be done away with, it is right in front of us every step of the way of scientific investigation. We cannot say that for the MIR.


Shouldn't this teach us some humility and a basic human compassion for each other?And that is certainly true, even if we dispute which approach has more scientific justification, we can say that scientific justification does not have to be all things to all people. We can respect and even staunchly support each other's right to formulate concepts about reality based on personal preferences, faith, or intuition.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-08, 05:27 PM
OK, I'm with you so far.
Not quite, I am not saying "why not regard everything else as mind dependent", I'm saying "give me something else, and I will gladly demonstrate to you conclusively exactly why that thing you just gave me is mind dependent." That's quite a bit different! This is a play on words. You obviously believe everthing is mind dependent and want me to prove the contrary, relieving yourself of the burden of proof for your position.


There is no mental model of the argument, because an argument is a mental model, and words do label concepts of the mind. Or, do you hold that the argument you are now presenting is independent of your mind?
And let's look at that. Your argument "makes sense"... to your left toe? I presume you mean it makes sense to your mind. So you have used your mind to form an argument about how reality is, based on the way your mind as "made sense" of things, yes? That's exactly what we mean by "mind dependent reality". As I said before, all you are doing is presenting your mind dependent reality, and attaching the label "mind independent" on it, even though it quite demonstrably isn't.
Well if it is a problem of semantics and your definition of mind dependent reality encompasses a filtered view of mind independent reality, then OK. I am simply refering to "what is really out there" as mind independent reality.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-08, 05:30 PM
It is very convenient to relegate everything we are talking about, thinking about, etc. to mind dependent reality, effectively making talking about mind independent reality impossible.

profloater
2014-Jan-08, 05:35 PM
It is very convenient to relegate everything we are talking about, thinking about, etc. to mind dependent reality, effectively making talking about mind independent reality impossible.we can talk about MIR but about half (from poll) accept that we are making assumptions as soon as we do, or we accept we believe in MIR but we cannot know or test our assumptions. That's just restating pages of stuff.:)

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-08, 05:48 PM
we can talk about MIR but about half (from poll) accept that we are making assumptions as soon as we do, or we accept we believe in MIR but we cannot know or test our assumptions. That's just restating pages of stuff.:)
Well, a devastating majority believe in MIR (11 to 10 presently, but like Silky Sullivan, making a strong comeback).:rofl:

Chuck
2014-Jan-08, 06:28 PM
If I see a tree or appear to be seeing a tree, I don't know whether or not it exists independently of my mind. So, the statement "The tree exists independently of my mind" might or might not be true. Since I don't know whether or not it's true and can never know whether or not it's true, the truth value of the statement is independent of my mind, right?

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 06:32 PM
This is a play on words. You obviously believe everthing is mind dependent and want me to prove the contrary, relieving yourself of the burden of proof for your position.No, not so, I am perfectly willing to carry the burden of demonstrating the mind dependence of every aspect of reality that you wish to describe to me, other than one single thing: the label/concept "mind independent."


Well if it is a problem of semantics and your definition of mind dependent reality encompasses a filtered view of mind independent reality, then OK. I am simply refering to "what is really out there" as mind independent reality.But what is really out there? The issue is, how do you give meaning to those words, and do you do it with nothing but pure faith, or do you regard it as something evidence-based? If the latter, what is your evidence?

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 06:46 PM
If I see a tree or appear to be seeing a tree, I don't know whether or not it exists independently of my mind.Yes, that's true. But you can be quite clear on what your mind is in fact doing:
1) registering each perception involved
2) comparing those perceptions with a set you associate with trees
3) deciding that the perceptions you are having rise to the level of "seeing a tree".
4) making predictions about other perceptions your mind, and others' minds, should expect to have surrounding the tree-seeing experience.
So given all these quite demonstrably mind-dependent requirements to being able to say "I see a tree", and the demonstrably mind-dependent ways that we find the whole tree-seeing concept useful, and given that we have zero knowledge about anything outside of those actual and predicted perceptions, it all means we have a load of mind-dependence surrounding that experience, and naught of mind independence.
So, the statement "The tree exists independently of my mind" might or might not be true.Yes, and that is also true of the "aether" that light propagates through, or faeries in my garden.
Since I don't know whether or not it's true and can never know whether or not it's true, the truth value of the statement is independent of my mind, right?No, the true value of the statement does not exist until you give it existence via some means, which is the process by which you give those words their meaning. No one can assess the truth value of a statement if they have no idea what you mean by it! If you cannot use any kind of evidence-based logic to give the words meaning, as in the case of that particular statement, then you must use pure preference/faith/intuition, whatever you want to call it, to provide it its truth value. But someone else can provide it a different truth value, simply by not invoking the same preference/faith/intuition to give the words their intended meaning. The key point is, "existence" is not handed to us, it is our word, so we have to say what it means. To do that, we need to track the processes we are using to infuse meaning into the symbols invoked in the sentence. When we pretend the words mean something without our making any effort to provide that meaning, as if they held a place in some universal language that we ourselves don't even know, then we are simply falling into incoherence of thought.

Chuck
2014-Jan-08, 07:13 PM
Using the meanings I made up for myself, the truth value is independent of my mind.

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 08:31 PM
Using the meanings I made up for myself, the truth value is independent of my mind.Assuming that you are clear that the meanings you made up for yourself were made up by your mind, your statement is then, "using the meanings my mind made up, the truth value is independent of my mind." So then I must ask, does the truth value of a statement depend on the meaning of a statement, or doesn't it?

Chuck
2014-Jan-08, 08:32 PM
Maybe. I don't know where they came from. But I don't see why that matters.

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 09:48 PM
Maybe. I don't know where they came from. But I don't see why that matters.Then answer the second question first: does what you mean by the truth value of a statement depend on the meaning of the statement, or doesn't it? Or are you saying "maybe" to that question? If "maybe" is your answer to that question, then you are saying you have no idea what you mean when you talk about the truth value of a statement, which would suffice from my perspective.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-08, 09:57 PM
But what is really out there? The issue is, how do you give meaning to those words, and do you do it with nothing but pure faith, or do you regard it as something evidence-based? If the latter, what is your evidence?
We are certainly going around in circles here: because the stimulus comes from outside of us. Of course, if you contest every statement by saying all my words are mind dependent, then, obviously, it is impossible to prove anything to someone who has such a mindset.

Ken G
2014-Jan-08, 10:10 PM
We are certainly going around in circles here: because the stimulus comes from outside of us.I agree, that is how my mind organizes its understanding of that stimulus too. That's what I am trying to show you, that saying "there is a reality external to me" is a demonstrably mind dependent statement if your evidence in support of it is that your mind characterizes the stimulus as coming from outside of you.

Of course, if you contest every statement by saying all my words are mind dependent, then, obviously, it is impossible to prove anything to someone who has such a mindset.I am not "contesting" your statements, I am demonstrating where mind dependence is manifestly apparent. All you are doing is taking things that your mind is doing, and arbitrarily attaching the label "mind independent" to some of the things your mind does, and not others. What basis do you use to attach the label "mind independent" to some things? It seems from the above that you attach that label to everything your mind interprets as external to your body, I don't see any difference in how you conceptualize "mind independent" from "external to my mind." Is that correct, your meaning of "mind independent" is identical to "everything external to my mind"?

Chuck
2014-Jan-08, 11:06 PM
Then answer the second question first: does what you mean by the truth value of a statement depend on the meaning of the statement, or doesn't it? Or are you saying "maybe" to that question? If "maybe" is your answer to that question, then you are saying you have no idea what you mean when you talk about the truth value of a statement, which would suffice from my perspective.
All I can be aware of are of the contents of my own mind. If I seem to see a tree in my field of view, all I'm really aware of is the mind dependent image of a tree. I have a theory that the image of a tree that appeared in my mind was caused by a mind independent tree reflecting mind independent light into a pair of mind independent eyes causing some mind independent nerves to fire causing a pattern to form in my mind independent brain that my mind interprets as a tree. There's no way that I can prove this theory or ever prove this theory. It might or might not be true. Since I can't know the truth value of this theory, the truth value is independent of my mind.

I don't know where this theory or the meanings of the terms came from. I think I made they up, although they appear to be based on past reading of popular physics. But it might very well have come entirely from my own mind, especially if there is nothing else. It might have been imposed on me by some mind independent intelligence that I know nothing about. It might be better to say that I became aware of this theory. It's the same for any other stated or implied definitions. I don't see why it matters. The truth value of the theory is mind independent in any case.

Does the truth value of the theory change depending on where it came from?

If you're telling me something else entirely then I'm not understanding what you mean.

Ken G
2014-Jan-09, 03:55 AM
All I can be aware of are of the contents of my own mind.Agreed.

There's no way that I can prove this theory or ever prove this theory. It might or might not be true. Since I can't know the truth value of this theory, the truth value is independent of my mind.That actually does not logically follow. The way to tell this is to answer my question: does the truth value of a sentence like that depend on the meaning of the sentence, or doesn't it?


Does the truth value of the theory change depending on where it came from?It changes based on anything that affects its meaning, when we are evaluating truth-by-meaning (rather than truth-by-belief which is closer to the mathematical truth-by-axiom). Where it came from is relevant to how its meaning is established, so yes, it can change the truth value. If we are not dealing with truth-by-meaning, then we are dealing with truth-by-belief, which is the point I've been making all along. If you are saying that you hold your stance based on nothing but your choice to believe that, then you have my complete support. If you are claiming that the truth basis is truth-by-meaning, then you must answer how the meaning is established, so we can even know what the meaning is.

Chuck
2014-Jan-09, 04:54 AM
Don't all meanings depend on use of words which would then also need meanings which would give us even more words needing meanings? This could take a long time. It seems unnecesary since people seem to agree on meanings most of the time. Meaning can be established by common understanding of words and phrases.

Is there any part of my argument for a truth value of a theory being mind independent that needs clarification?

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-09, 06:06 AM
It seems from the above that you attach that label to everything your mind interprets as external to your body, I don't see any difference in how you conceptualize "mind independent" from "external to my mind." Is that correct, your meaning of "mind independent" is identical to "everything external to my mind"?Yes, that is what I mean.

Ken G
2014-Jan-09, 06:41 AM
Don't all meanings depend on use of words which would then also need meanings which would give us even more words needing meanings? Yup, that is how the game is played, but it's the only way to know what we are talking about.

It seems unnecesary since people seem to agree on meanings most of the time.Actually, in my experience, thinking that when it isn't true is the leading difficulty in achieving true communication. Especially in this case, because the meaning of the word "reality" is at the very crux of the matter, so it's very important not only to have a clear idea of what "reality" means to you, but also the process whereby you arrive at that meaning. Part of my thesis is that many people attach extraneous elements to their meaning of "reality", without realizing that those added elements have nothing to do with the functioning part of the meaning. Put differently, if we just decided to use the word "nature" to mean the connections and consistencies of perception that our minds notice about our surroundings, and "reality" to mean the "things-in-themselves" concepts we may choose to attach to nature but is not itself the connections and consistencies of perception that go into our meaning of nature, we would quickly find that we would use the word "nature" all the time-- but the word "reality" virtually never.


Meaning can be established by common understanding of words and phrases.Go deeper-- you are saying that meaning is established by understanding. Where does understanding come from?


Is there any part of my argument for a truth value of a theory being mind independent that needs clarification?Yes-- what you mean by truth value. The only way to tell me what you mean by that is by describing the process by which it is arrived at.

Ken G
2014-Jan-09, 06:57 AM
Yes, that is what I mean.
OK, then it is important to recognize that your meaning of "mind independent" is not at all the same as our meaning of that phrase. The way I defined "mind dependent" above is how our minds make sense of our experiences and perceptions, a sense we could not make if we did not have minds. Thus, "mind dependent" just means "that which requires having a mind to do", so "mind dependent reality" is "the concept of reality that is created by a mind." Mind independent reality then means a reality that is not just outside of a mind, but independent of a mind. In other words, you don't need to have a mind to have that type of reality, which means it is more than just what is external to a mind. When you form a concept of something outside your mind, like a "rainbow", you can certainly say that the rainbow is "coming from over there", yet there is no object that could be said to be the rainbow-- the rainbow is a creation of your mind, based on the colors and patterns you see. Still, we do not say a rainbow is "internal" to your mind, just look at it-- it is clearly "over there" somewhere! Yet since there is no object that is the rainbow, it is especially clear that "a rainbow" is a mind dependent construct, that we perceive because of external physical processes (like light refracting in water droplets). When we talk about a rainbow, are we talking about something external or something internal? That can be hard to say, but it's clearly mind dependent, because the way it is perceived depends on the mind that is perceiving it.

So I think a big part of the problem you are having with what we are saying is that every time we say "mind independent", and mean "in no way references a mind", you replace that with "physically external to a mind", but you cannot give these external things meaning without a mind. If their meaning depends on a mind to interpret that meaning, then they are mind dependent, even if they are physically external to a mind, and even if they exist a billion years before the first mind appeared anywhere in the observable universe.

Chuck
2014-Jan-09, 07:03 AM
Yup, that is how the game is played, but it's the only way to know what we are talking about.
Actually, in my experience, thinking that when it isn't true is the leading difficulty in achieving true communication. Especially in this case, because the meaning of the word "reality" is at the very crux of the matter, so it's very important not only to have a clear idea of what "reality" means to you, but also the process whereby you arrive at that meaning. Part of my thesis is that many people attach extraneous elements to their meaning of "reality", without realizing that those added elements have nothing to do with the functioning part of the meaning. Put differently, if we just decided to use the word "nature" to mean the connections and consistencies of perception that our minds notice about our surroundings, and "reality" to mean the "things-in-themselves" concepts we may choose to attach to nature but is not itself the connections and consistencies of perception that go into our meaning of nature, we would quickly find that we would use the word "nature" all the time-- but the word "reality" virtually never.
Go deeper-- you are saying that meaning is established by understanding. Where does understanding come from?
Yes-- what you mean by truth value. The only way to tell me what you mean by that is by describing the process by which it is arrived at.
Understandjng can come from living in the same environment and having shared experiences, and using agreed on words and phrases to refer to them. We can test our mutual understanding by performing the same described tasks and getting the same or similar results.

I looked up "truth value" on The Internet. We probably use the same language and both know how to find definitions.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-09, 07:38 AM
So I think a big part of the problem you are having with what we are saying is that every time we say "mind independent", and mean "in no way references a mind", you replace that with "physically external to a mind", but you cannot give these external things meaning without a mind. If their meaning depends on a mind to interpret that meaning, then they are mind dependent, even if they are physically external to a mind, and even if they exist a billion years before the first mind appeared anywhere in the observable universe.
:wall: Have I been bashing my wall against an non-existent wall? Seems so, Ken. Seen in this light, seems like we are in agreement (after two threads and close to 30 pages!) :) I can hardly believe it. :doh:

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-09, 08:06 AM
Now on to the next hurdle: Len, do we still have any differences?

Ken G
2014-Jan-09, 02:39 PM
Understandjng can come from living in the same environment and having shared experiences, and using agreed on words and phrases to refer to them. We can test our mutual understanding by performing the same described tasks and getting the same or similar results.Exactly. I'm saying those are all things that only minds do.


I looked up "truth value" on The Internet. We probably use the same language and both know how to find definitions.So then you can answer my question: does the meaning of the sentence affect its truth value, or doesn't it?

Chuck
2014-Jan-09, 02:51 PM
Yes, it does.

Cougar
2014-Jan-09, 03:05 PM
Yes, it does.

If A \Rightarrow B

and B \Rightarrow C

then A \Rightarrow C


Does it matter what A, B, and C are?

Chuck
2014-Jan-09, 03:22 PM
A, B, and C aren't the only symbols involved.

Ken G
2014-Jan-09, 04:15 PM
Here we have the difference between syntax and semantics, and it gets quite subtle. There really are two very different meanings of "truth", which are "truth-by-structure" which is more like provability from axioms using formal logic, and "truth-by-meaning" which is more like "I find such strong evidence from my experiences that I regard it is as valuable to me to expect this to hold." The ancient hope that these two things could ever be completely merged was dashed by Godel's proof that any system of creating statements whose truth value could be tested by experience (or more formally, could be rendered as a syntactic structure in a metalanguage that is regarded as successful in structuring the meaning of the original language), that was rich enough to be able to support the power of something like the real numbers, could never have everything in it that was "true-by-meaning" also be "true-by-structure" generated from a finite set of axioms. In summary, meaning is fundamentally stronger (in the sense of connecting with a larger set) than structure, semantics is stronger than syntax. However, the price to pay for this added "strength" is a loss of certainty-- truth-by-meaning requires meaning, and meaning is not itself certain because it relies on incomplete and different experiences, it is subject to different minds. This whole issue is very similar to the contrast between the MDR (the home of truth-by-meaning) and the MIR (which would be the home of truth-by-structure in a metalanguage whereby we neither know that language, nor know if the language even exists, nor even are able to give meaning to the existence of such a language without a leap of faith/preference/will/intuition).

I was attempting to understand if Chuck's version of "truth value", such that he could say that it was a mind-independent truth value, was one or the other. He says it is truth-by-meaning, so that requires that we identify the means that meaning is established, which he has not been willing to do. But it is crucial, to avoid simply taking an MDR and attaching an empty label "mind independent" onto something that is demonstrably mind dependent. To qualify as an MIR, there needs to be a step that looks like "the meaning of the MIR is a leap of faith/preference/intuition/will that uses something my mind can do to generate a meaningful concept of something my mind cannot do." The difficulty in using a mind to give meaning to something the mind cannot do is the reason that this leap is required, it has to be an act of true creation that is left up to the individual and cannot be asserted to be absolutely or universally true, because that would be self-contradictory. It is a mind-dependent concept about something that is mind independent, that can only be regarded as true by the minds that have so chosen to regard it, nor can any evidence or argument be put forth in favor of that leap, lest whatever results from the success of that argument be pulled into the defining realm of the MDR.

profloater
2014-Jan-09, 05:02 PM
we should be aware of a problem about truth just from a circle and its diameter and the ratio is irrational. Aristotle was really peeved about that. In the mathematical mind we can agree on a perfect circle but there will never be a perfect or true circle in nature (as I understand nature from received agreed understanding). So in our minds we can understand both the perfect circle and what we think of as real circles. Truth in common language is a problem, relative and evasive. There can only ever be truth in rigidly defined situations such as a truth table for an arithmetic set of logic states.
To call up a truth argument in relation to mind independent reality is rather similar to getting worked up about pi being irrational. Can pi ever be real or true? Most of us got used to pi a long time ago but it's still a cog wheel that refuses to resolve.

Chuck
2014-Jan-09, 06:11 PM
It seems to me that my concept of truth value is mind dependent, but a specific truth value that will never be in my mind must necessarily be mind independent.

profloater
2014-Jan-09, 06:40 PM
It seems to me that my concept of truth value is mind dependent, but a specific truth value that will never be in my mind must necessarily be mind independent.I do not understand what you mean unless you mean something in another mind? When we read a book we share with another mind even when the author is dead. But the book is not independent of mind, nor are the putative "truths" in it.

Chuck
2014-Jan-09, 06:48 PM
I can't know for sure that the author or book ever existed independently of my mind because my mind is all I can examine directly. It seems unlikely that my mind came up with everything I've ever read, but I can't prove that it didn't.

profloater
2014-Jan-09, 08:58 PM
here there is a distinction between memory and mind. Normally memory is essential for mindfulness but clearly not essential to be conscious. Of course we cannot trust our memory but usually we do as part of normal life. We know that memories can be implanted or taken over in retelling, or embelished. Memory also is triggered by current awareness, people you are with and so on. So the reality of our mindfulness is not actually as constant as we might like. It seems the central point that divides people here is whether to accept as assumption the belief in external reality, or to assert that external reality just must exist. There are strong religious overtones in this which we mostly skate around. However I think the study of how belief gets integrated so firmly in our minds is a valid scientific study and an important one too.

Ken G
2014-Jan-09, 10:42 PM
It seems to me that my concept of truth value is mind dependent, but a specific truth value that will never be in my mind must necessarily be mind independent.
That isn't what we mean by "mind independent". For a specific truth to be mind independent, it has to have a truth value that does not require a mind to specify. If something requires a mind, but no minds are available, then it is does not become mind independent, it must be regarded as indeterminate. But all this is very similar to the issue of whether there is such a "thing" as the number 5, independently of any mind, or if the number 5 is a mental concept. One can hold that the number 5 exists independently of the mind, just as one can say there is a MIR, but it's still not demonstrable in any way, so is just a leap of faith/intuition/preference/will.

Ken G
2014-Jan-09, 11:04 PM
I can't know for sure that the author or book ever existed independently of my mind because my mind is all I can examine directly. It seems unlikely that my mind came up with everything I've ever read, but I can't prove that it didn't.The idea of an MDR is not that our minds create the books we read, it is that our minds say that what we did was read, and that what we read were books. So the key point is, as soon as you say "I read a book", the role of the mind is already perfectly apparent, there is no need to answer the question "did my mind create that book." Most people build a MDR in which their mind did not create the book, it is a demonstrably more useful way to build a MDR (it allows that if we want to create a book, we have to write it ourselves, a fact that we do find useful, especially if we wish to be authors).

caveman1917
2014-Jan-09, 11:44 PM
Here we have the difference between syntax and semantics, and it gets quite subtle. There really are two very different meanings of "truth", which are "truth-by-structure" which is more like provability from axioms using formal logic, and "truth-by-meaning" which is more like "I find such strong evidence from my experiences that I regard it is as valuable to me to expect this to hold." The ancient hope that these two things could ever be completely merged was dashed by Godel's proof that any system of creating statements whose truth value could be tested by experience (or more formally, could be rendered as a syntactic structure in a metalanguage that is regarded as successful in structuring the meaning of the original language), that was rich enough to be able to support the power of something like the real numbers, could never have everything in it that was "true-by-meaning" also be "true-by-structure" generated from a finite set of axioms.

Ken, it's all good and well to get into philosophy, but you really should learn to seperate your personal philosophical leanings from what theories and certain theorems in them state. Nothing, nothing whatsoever, in the entirety of Godel's work includes "truth by experience" - Godel was after all a staunch rationalist. But even irrespective of Godel's philosophical preferences, your appropriation of the incompleteness theorem for your "truth-by-experience" doesn't make any sense.

Consider first-order arithmetic T, and consider its standard model \mathcal{M}. We have by design \mathcal{M} \models T. From Godel's first incompleteness theorem follows that there exists a sentence S, expressible in the language of T, such that \mathcal{M} \models S yet T \not\vdash S. From Godel's completeness theorem (every sentence of a first-order theory which is valid - ie satisfied by every model of the theory - is provable in that theory, or symbolically \forall S: (\forall \mathcal{M}: \mathcal{M} \models T) \Leftrightarrow T \vdash S) then follows that there exists a model \mathcal{M}^\ast such that both \mathcal{M}^\ast \models T and \mathcal{M}^\ast \models \neg S.

In particular, the sentence S (known as the Godel's sentence) is assigned, in the context of first-order arithmetic, a number - let's call it n - and \mathcal{M} \models S is denoted as \varphi(n). In this context, Godel's incompleteness theorem states that \varphi(n) is true yet is not provable. From the above we know that there exists another model of arithmetic in which \varphi(n) is false. In the case of arithmetic these models consist of the standard natural numbers with sequences of infinite numbers added to them (you can easily check for yourself that these structures satisfy Peano's axioms). What Godel's theorem essentially says in this case is that there exists no recursively enumerable first-order theory of arithmetic such that the only model is the standard model (no infinite numbers) and every sentence satisfied by that standard model is provable from that theory.

You say this is all "truth-by-experience", so tell me, what experience do you have that enables you to exclude infinite numbers?

caveman1917
2014-Jan-10, 12:13 AM
In fact, Godel's work strikes a fatal blow to your program of "truth-by-experience". If, as you say, the truth of a Godel sentence for standard arithmetic is set by experience then any model that satisfies the negation of that Godel sentence must be excluded by experience. All these models are formed by adding infinite numbers "after" the normal natural numbers, so in particular the existence of infinite numbers after our normal natural numbers must be excluded by experience. Yet if all we can experience is finite numbers (which seems a fair assumption) then there exists no possible experience that excludes those infinite numbers, hence no possible experience that excludes models that satisfy the negation of the Godel sentence, hence no possible experience that allows us to tell whether the Godel sentence is true or false. Your argument would then reduce to "if we cannot tell if a sentence is true or false then there exists no formal proof of that sentence", to which the only answer i can think of would be: duh...

Chuck
2014-Jan-10, 01:49 AM
That isn't what we mean by "mind independent". For a specific truth to be mind independent, it has to have a truth value that does not require a mind to specify. If something requires a mind, but no minds are available, then it is does not become mind independent, it must be regarded as indeterminate. But all this is very similar to the issue of whether there is such a "thing" as the number 5, independently of any mind, or if the number 5 is a mental concept. One can hold that the number 5 exists independently of the mind, just as one can say there is a MIR, but it's still not demonstrable in any way, so is just a leap of faith/intuition/preference/will.
If a mind dependent question is asked, I'm not seeing why its correct answer can't be mind independent.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jan-10, 01:50 AM
In fact, Godel's work strikes a fatal blow to your program of "truth-by-experience". If, as you say, the truth of a Godel sentence for standard arithmetic is set by experience then any model that satisfies the negation of that Godel sentence must be excluded by experience. All these models are formed by adding infinite numbers "after" the normal natural numbers, so in particular the existence of infinite numbers after our normal natural numbers must be excluded by experience. Yet if all we can experience is finite numbers (which seems a fair assumption) then there exists no possible experience that excludes those infinite numbers, hence no possible experience that excludes models that satisfy the negation of the Godel sentence, hence no possible experience that allows us to tell whether the Godel sentence is true or false. Your argument would then reduce to "if we cannot tell if a sentence is true or false then there exists no formal proof of that sentence", to which the only answer i can think of would be: duh...

I will not pretend to be qualified to handle Godel on your terms. However, I have trouble with the idea, if I understand you, that the fact that mathematical proofs or conditions are beyond experience implies much for the debate at hand; after all, they are not beyond symbolic manipulation by the mind. Anything expressed mathematically lies still in the realm of ideas; we have no indication that through axiomatic proofs we can extend knowledge outside a confined natural system absent other evidence, even if some proofs can often indicate fruitful areas of investigation in real systems. But perhaps I miss your arguments, so would appreciate some restatement, if possible.

Ken G
2014-Jan-10, 04:42 AM
Ken, it's all good and well to get into philosophy, but you really should learn to seperate your personal philosophical leanings from what theories and certain theorems in them state. Nothing, nothing whatsoever, in the entirety of Godel's work includes "truth by experience" - Godel was after all a staunch rationalist. But even irrespective of Godel's philosophical preferences, your appropriation of the incompleteness theorem for your "truth-by-experience" doesn't make any sense.
Actually, if you look at what I said, I mentioned what Godel formally did prove, in the parentheses which starts "formally." The rest was an interpretation of what he proved, but that interpretation only works for people who can see the truth-by-experience concept.


You say this is all "truth-by-experience", so tell me, what experience do you have that enables you to exclude infinite numbers?When did I say everything is "truth-by-experience"? I don't remember that, I remember stressing over and over that truth depends on the process that leads to it. What I also actually said is, to use a truth-by-experience concept (as we do routinely in say, oh I don't know, physics), we need to assume a model whereby that which is true-by-experience is provable in that model. The model itself cannot be proven true, we have taken it as an axiom that it provides the "correct interpretation" of whatever it is that we wish to hold is true-by-experience. That's what true-by-experience means, it means true-by-proof in a model that we have simply chosen, based on the evidence, to be the correct interpretation, and the only way we can decide on the correct model is, you guessed it, experience. So if you want the formal meaning of true-by-experience, it is that our experience informs us as to the correct model to take as authoritative, such that when we prove things in that model, we may hold them to be true-by-experience.

Now, when you ask me what experience enables me to exclude infinite numbers, I simply answer, I must always use my experiences to inform my choice of model. If I have one model that uses infinite numbers and gets "proposition A is provable", and I have another model that does not include infinite numbers that gets "proposition A is not provable", then I am inclined to say that since I have never experienced infinite numbers, I have every reason to doubt the truth of proposition A. That's it, that's all you get from experience-- you want certainty, but I told you Einstein's take on that, which was, once again, "To the extent that the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and to the extent that they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

Ken G
2014-Jan-10, 05:41 AM
Your argument would then reduce to "if we cannot tell if a sentence is true or false then there exists no formal proof of that sentence", to which the only answer i can think of would be: duh...I'm confused, above you seemed to claim my argument was wrong, now you are saying it is trivially correct. Make up your mind! I have always held that it is trivially correct, yet the poll results say otherwise about the "trivial" part.

Ken G
2014-Jan-10, 05:44 AM
If a mind dependent question is asked, I'm not seeing why its correct answer can't be mind independent.That's because you still have offered no means of determining the answer to any question. What I keep trying to stress is that answers to questions don't just pop out of the void once the question is asked, you have to connect the answer to a question via some process. (Examples I gave above: "which slit did the photon go through?" or "what happened before the Big Bang?", etc.) Change the process, you can change the answer. Hence, you have to tell me what process you are using when you imagine the "answer" to some question. As yet, you've never done that, which is why you think the answer can be mind independent. Indeed, I have not even said that the answer cannot be mind independent, I've said that if science is the sole process used to arrive at the answer, then the answer cannot be mind independent. Which gets back to why the correct answer to the OP question is "no/false."

Ken G
2014-Jan-10, 05:50 AM
Anything expressed mathematically lies still in the realm of ideas; we have no indication that through axiomatic proofs we can extend knowledge outside a confined natural system absent other evidence, even if some proofs can often indicate fruitful areas of investigation in real systems.
I think another way to make your point is to ask, how do we know the axioms are themselves true? Most mathematicians would say that theorems simply inherit the truth of their axioms, the axioms themselves are never known to be true they are simply defined to be true, and care must be taken that they not contradict each other. What's more, it is more interesting when the axioms lead to a structure that has some purpose. The latter relates to the reason that mathematics is taught in elementary school, which is clearly not just because it can logically connect theorems with axioms, it is because we do have an ability to select axioms that are true-by-experience, and so when our theorems inherit the same truth value, they become true-by-experience as well. No one knows why this is the case, it is a deep mystery, but it does seem to hold pretty well... in our experience.

If it is unclear what I mean here, consider the meaning of 1+1=2. There is a proof of this by Russell and Whitehead, it takes over 300 pages, and maybe 1 person in a hundred (at most) has ever even heard of that proof. All the same, every child past the age of 4 knows this truth. How can that be? Here is how Wittgenstein summed up the situation surrounding Russell and Whitehead's Principia:

"It purports to reveal the fundamental basis for arithmetic. However, it is our everyday arithmetical practices such as counting which are fundamental; for if a persistent discrepancy arose between counting and Principia, this would be treated as evidence of an error in Principia (e.g., that Principia did not characterise numbers or addition correctly), not as evidence of an error in everyday counting."

The above is the basis of what I mean by the difference between truth-by-experience and truth-by-structure or truth-by-provability.

filrabat
2014-Jan-10, 08:32 AM
Personally, I think yes it necessarily involves elements independent of our minds. If it did not, then that introduces at least the possibility of science becoming a totally subjective matter. In other words, that opens up the possibility for asking us to believe in magic (in the occutic sense).

Having said that, I fully realize that brains are required for the practice of science to exist, and therefore how the brain works does have considerable bearing on what we - the human species (limiting it to planet earth for now) - see as scientifically verified or verifiable. Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle certainly seems to challenge this, although as far as I know it only says we cannot know both the location and momentum of a quantum particle. I'm not sure this qualifies as mind-dependence though, even if admitting that the behavior of a particle can change if we observe it. After all, if things do change when we observe them, then that is verifiable. It says nothing about whether our minds actually change what we perceive as truth.

filrabat
2014-Jan-10, 08:51 AM
False.

The quest to uncover signs of an independent reality is a powerful motivator for humans.

There are no consistent logical arguments supporting the existence of an independent reality.

Taken to its fullest extent, this statement seems utterly indistinguishable from solipsism. Not intended as an insult, as I myself can well agree - in principle, at least - with solipsism (i.e. the only thing we can be sure exists are our thoughts themselves).

Nevertheless, the catch with solipsism is that solipsists themselves can never be sure there is nothing outside their thoughts. So for me, as a practical matter, I perceive that I live in a realm whose fundamental operations I cannot control (i.e. I can't will [in the mind-power sense] ice to stay frozen on lava; nor will pouring water out of cup and have it RISE into the sky at a G-force of negative-1). Because I cannot will any changes to the fundamental operations of this realm -then I have to approach the world as I perceive it on an "as if" basis -- treat this realm I inhabit AS IF it really does exist independent of my thoughts.

The rest of your statement pretty much follows from my philosophy of my realm as I perceive it.

Ken G
2014-Jan-10, 02:34 PM
Personally, I think yes it necessarily involves elements independent of our minds. If it did not, then that introduces at least the possibility of science becoming a totally subjective matter. In other words, that opens up the possibility for asking us to believe in magic (in the occutic sense).
There are two flaws I would point out that appear when saying that science has to involve something independent of our minds or else our minds are free to believe in magic:
1) are we not free to believe in magic, if we choose, regardless of whether science is based in something outside our minds? I mean, the reasons for using science are its testable and demonstrably useful outcomes, not what those outcomes are based on, so someone who rejects science even given its demonstrably useful outcomes is certainly going to reject it regardless of what it is based on.
2) what keeps science from being subjective is the way we do science, the express requirement that it be built from what is objective. What is objective is a mind dependent issue-- objectivity, in science, means only one thing, agreement between different minds. So objectivity is already mind-dependent, regardless of whether that which we are being objective about is believed to be mind independent or not. Or put differently, the half of the people on this thread on do not feel that science requires a mind-independent reality to function can still do science exactly the same way you would do it, can they not? What's to stop them?

After all, if things do change when we observe them, then that is verifiable. It says nothing about whether our minds actually change what we perceive as truth.
That is a more limiting view of the meaning of "mind dependence" than what is intended here. The terms are perhaps not well chosen, because for many people they lead to the conclusion you are making, but here "mind dependent" only means "requires a mind to give meaning to, and the meaning so rendered then depends on how that mind works." It does not mean that minds can control it to be whatever they want. We find from experience that our minds have only a limited ability to control the subjective elements of our mind-dependent reality, and almost no ability at all to control the objective aspects of our mind-dependent reality. This is just what we discover from experience, so we must build it into our mind-dependent reality, the reality that depends on our minds' capacity to make sense of it, or else the "reality" concept is just not going to work for us (as it does not work for insane people). I wonder if you would have voted differently had this distinction been made more clear?

caveman1917
2014-Jan-10, 10:44 PM
When did I say everything is "truth-by-experience"?

You've defined it as "truth-by-meaning" which you then explained as something like "from my experience i can hold it to be true", i've abbreviated it as "truth-by-experience" which i believe captures the essence of your definition. If it doesn't then can you say how it doesn't?


I don't remember that, I remember stressing over and over that truth depends on the process that leads to it. What I also actually said is, to use a truth-by-experience concept (as we do routinely in say, oh I don't know, physics), we need to assume a model whereby that which is true-by-experience is provable in that model. The model itself cannot be proven true, we have taken it as an axiom that it provides the "correct interpretation" of whatever it is that we wish to hold is true-by-experience. That's what true-by-experience means, it means true-by-proof in a model that we have simply chosen, based on the evidence, to be the correct interpretation, and the only way we can decide on the correct model is, you guessed it, experience. So if you want the formal meaning of true-by-experience, it is that our experience informs us as to the correct model to take as authoritative, such that when we prove things in that model, we may hold them to be true-by-experience.

This doesn't make sense. If "truth-by-experience" means "true-by-proof" in a model then it doesn't matter what model you choose, because, as i explained above, every sentence which is provable is valid and hence true in every model. What does this have to do with the incompleteness theorem? And if "truth-by-experience" is the same as "provable" (a purely syntactic notion) then what do you need experience for?

Besides, didn't you say earlier that what is "true-by-experience" is different from what is provable?


Now, when you ask me what experience enables me to exclude infinite numbers, I simply answer, I must always use my experiences to inform my choice of model. If I have one model that uses infinite numbers and gets "proposition A is provable", and I have another model that does not include infinite numbers that gets "proposition A is not provable", then I am inclined to say that since I have never experienced infinite numbers, I have every reason to doubt the truth of proposition A.

That's fallacious reasoning. If two models predict the same experience then that experience does not provide you with a way to distinguish between those models. There are many reasons to prefer the standard model of arithmetic: it is minimal, it is intuitive, ... however none of those reasons derives from experience - which is my point here.

caveman1917
2014-Jan-10, 10:48 PM
I'm confused, above you seemed to claim my argument was wrong, now you are saying it is trivially correct. Make up your mind!

It is wrong. Well, at least your use of the incompleteness theorem to support your argument is incorrect, that by itself doesn't mean the argument is wrong. If you correct your use of the incompleteness theorem, noting that the truth of an invalid sentence depends on the model and that experience doesn't provide a way to prefer one model over the other, then you get the trivial statement.

caveman1917
2014-Jan-10, 11:00 PM
I will not pretend to be qualified to handle Godel on your terms. However, I have trouble with the idea, if I understand you, that the fact that mathematical proofs or conditions are beyond experience implies much for the debate at hand; after all, they are not beyond symbolic manipulation by the mind. Anything expressed mathematically lies still in the realm of ideas; we have no indication that through axiomatic proofs we can extend knowledge outside a confined natural system absent other evidence, even if some proofs can often indicate fruitful areas of investigation in real systems. But perhaps I miss your arguments, so would appreciate some restatement, if possible.

I'm not really saying much about mathematical proofs in general, just that in this case Ken's use of the incompleteness theorem to support his contention that truth comes from experience (or from meaning which in turns come from experience) is untenable because in this specific case it reduces to requiring experience to enable us to reject models which differ only in as much as they add chains of infinite numbers to the natural number system. Something that obviously cannot be adjudicated by experience.

profloater
2014-Jan-10, 11:02 PM
may I interject? science never proves, it fails to disprove, why this emphasis on truth? It is a lay term, has no place in discussion of mind.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-11, 12:43 PM
Ken, just to really make sure I didn't jump to a to hasty conclusion saying I agree:

You said:


If their meaning depends on a mind to interpret that meaning, then they are mind dependent, even if they are physically external to a mind, and even if they exist a billion years before the first mind appeared anywhere in the observable universe.

My stand is that while we live in a mind dependent reality, there is a universe physically external to the mind, existing before and after the first mind appeared.

Do you agree?

KlausH
2014-Jan-11, 01:49 PM
My stand is that while we live in a mind dependent reality, there is a universe physically external to the mind, existing before and after the first mind appeared.

Do you agree?

That is a mere belief you are of course free to engage in but without any means for verification.

I started out believing it but after 30 years of exploring this question have come to the conclusion that it is not true (which is also a mere belief).

Ken G
2014-Jan-11, 05:43 PM
You've defined it as "truth-by-meaning" which you then explained as something like "from my experience i can hold it to be true", i've abbreviated it as "truth-by-experience" which i believe captures the essence of your definition. If it doesn't then can you say how it doesn't?My point was, I never said everything was truth-by-meaning, I said truth-by-meaning was truth-by-meaning. It is certainly true that truth-by-experience is a good example of truth-by-meaning, though it is possible we do have ways to achieve meaning other than by experience (this is a common philosophical debate, essentially between empiricists and rationalists, but no need to go into that here).


This doesn't make sense. If "truth-by-experience" means "true-by-proof" in a model then it doesn't matter what model you choose, because, as i explained above, every sentence which is provable is valid and hence true in every model.It sounds to me like you are not distinguishing "provable in the language" from "provable in the metalanguage (model)". That's a rather important distinction! Of course everything provable in the syntax of the language has to be provable in the syntax of the metalanguage, the metalanguage is "larger" than the language. At issue is that which is provable in the metalanguage (the formalization of the "meaning" concept, or semantics) but is not provable in the language. In the context of this actual thread, we are talking about "reality", and reality admits many different models, different metalanguages, that can "prove" quite different things in the metalanguage than can be proved in the "language" of, for example, some particular scientific model of reality (what we have been calling an example of MDR). For example, a metalanguage that holds "there are laws of physics that govern everything that happens, and our current laws are these laws restricted to various limits" can "prove" everything that our current laws can "prove", so this is a perfectly good model of the current laws. However, it is also a metalanguage, which immediately means two things:
1) the syntax of the metalanguage can be used to impose a semantics on the language of the current laws of physics, and
2) no evidence can be brought forward in favor of the syntax of the metalanguage, only the syntax of the current laws of physics, which involves the scientific method.


What does this have to do with the incompleteness theorem?In that case, there is a metalanguage that allows us to say the Godel sentence is true, and from that we may infer that it is "true-by-meaning" that our mathematical number system is incomplete, or "true-by-structure" that the metalanguage can prove this. The reason this does not actually allow us to conclude that our number system is incomplete is the dirt under the carpet that is often overlooked, which is that we do not know that the metalanguage provides a "true" model of the number system, because we do not know that the axioms are consistent. The bottom line, and the reason I invoked Godel's result, is that it shows that "provability" and "truth" can never be the same thing, if we want "truth" to mean something more than syntactic provability in some arbitrary structure!


And if "truth-by-experience" is the same as "provable" (a purely syntactic notion) then what do you need experience for?It has been my entire point that truth-by-experience is not the same as "provable," a matter that I have attempted to give considerable stress to. What you need experience for is to judge the "truth" of the axioms, and we judge that truth, formally, by the syntax of some metalanguage that is informed by experience. Whether or not there really is such a metalanguage, or if the mind is capable of "fuzzy" logic that cannot be expressed as formal syntax on a metalanguage, I do not know but is not important for the present purposes, and is likely grist for a different thread.


Besides, didn't you say earlier that what is "true-by-experience" is different from what is provable?Absolutely, with great stress.


That's fallacious reasoning. If two models predict the same experience then that experience does not provide you with a way to distinguish between those models.No, the reasoning is just fine. Let us reframe my argument. Model 1 is our current laws of physics, so no objects can go from being slower than light to faster than light. Model 2 is those laws, plus a rule that faeries can accelerate through the speed of light. Both these models predict all the experiences we have had in our lives, so by your logic, we are not provided with any way to distinguish these models. Luckily, in science, we have Occam's Razor to dispense with the faerie model, but that doesn't make it a wrong model. My actual point here is that if someone uses the faerie model to prove proposition A that "objects can go from slower to faster than the speed of light", I have every reason to doubt proposition A, because I have never experienced faeries, so have no reason to imagine that model 2 is "true-by-experience." Read my argument again, you will see that is just exactly what I argued, and you find yourself arguing that we should accept the faerie model and accept the proposition that objects can accelerate through c.

There are many reasons to prefer the standard model of arithmetic: it is minimal, it is intuitive, ... however none of those reasons derives from experience - which is my point here.Well if your whole point is that we could prove the theorems of arithmetic with less minimal metalanguages, that comes as no great shock to me-- and has nothing to do with anything I've said.

Ken G
2014-Jan-11, 05:47 PM
may I interject? science never proves, it fails to disprove, why this emphasis on truth? It is a lay term, has no place in discussion of mind.
That only holds if you take the limited meaning of "truth" as it applies in mathematics, which is just "provable from axioms." But that meaning is of no help in science, we want a wider meaning we can actually use. So rather than saying "we can't talk about truth, mathematicians have already absconded with that word and they use it to mean provability", we can say "yes but the mathematicians don't know their axioms are true, so provable does not really mean true, and we still need to think about what we want true to mean some more." Thus, scientists have their own meaning of true, which, as you point out, cannot mean provable. Given how rapidly science evolves and expands, we have to use a meaning more like "provisionally true", or "to our best current understanding." This is an indispensible form of the meaning of "true", it is the one that every human on Earth uses every day. How many of them use "provable" in a given day? So I think "truth" does have a very important place in discussions of the mind.

Ken G
2014-Jan-11, 05:57 PM
My stand is that while we live in a mind dependent reality, there is a universe physically external to the mind, existing before and after the first mind appeared.

Do you agree?The key thing to understand in that sentence is what you mean by "existing." If you replace it with "and my mind can demonstrably make better sense of my perceptions using objective evidence if I consider that mind dependent reality to have existed..." then I am in complete agreement, but notice there is nothing MIR in that sentence. If you instead mean "existing in an MIR..." then I say you are choosing, without evidence but with whatever personal justification you like, to embed in your MDR a concept of an MIR that you believe in. I'm just saying that MIR part is never necessary to make the rest of the sentence scan just fine, it is something you add because you want to, and have every right to want to, but cannot cite obective evidence in favor of, any more than you could cite objective evidence for any other faith/intuition/will/preference-based belief system.

If you are asking what I add in my own personal belief system, it might not necessarily be appropriate to the forum, but I'll answer because it might help make sense of what I mean by a belief system. My belief system is that there is not an MIR, because the R and the M are inextricably part of the same thing, a same thing that we have very little awareness of because of our limitations. But that "same thing" is not mind-independent, because it needs a mind as much as a mind needs it, when "all is process," and the defining character of that process is that it is trying to figure itself out. In that sense, Douglas Adams may have been spot on-- in some sense, I do hold that the universe has a kind of goal to figure itself out, the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Not that it is a machine programmed for that purpose in some other universe, but rather that is what makes a universe in the first place. That may make me not that far from KlausH, though I don't self-identify with idealism because I think the mind is not the whole story either, it needs to interact with something with some meaning of "externality", such that an interplay is involved somewhere. I suppose one could frame that as internal interactions within some "universal mind", but what we mean by "mind" is really "our own mind," that is the only kind of "mind" we have much experience with so we are on weak footing extrapolating that concept to the rest of the universe.

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 01:57 PM
I got confused about which thread to post in so I apologise for posting in both.
Pi. Sorry to repeat myself but an alien mind would discover pi as irrational number so it is an archetype of maths yet we believe it cannot exist except as a part of maths, partly because of that irrationality and partly because of atomic structure, so we know it is part of our mind based reality. It cannot be part of any MIR unless you believe in Plato's archetypes in the mind of god, which is a belief we cannot disprove.

So maths is absolutely and strictly mind based and any waffle about an external MIR mathematician is either woolly thought, joke, or a faith based assertion. QED

Ken G
2014-Jan-12, 02:02 PM
I'm not even sure what an evidence-based argument for any "X is in the MIR" would even look like. The standard one is, "X has to be in the MIR or we couldn't have x in the MDR", to which I would simply ask, "and what is telling you that?" There certainly is no experiment that comes out A if X being in the MIR leads to x being in the MDR, and not A if it doesn't, since experiments only justify including x in the MDR. Logical necessities only function within their own R structure, not between them. You could build some kind of metalanguage that includes both the MIR and MDR, and infuse the whole business with logical connections between them, but experiments still only constrain the MDR elements, so only the axioms that relate to that portion can be given a truth-by-experience. Without that, truth requires faith/intuition/preference/will, and hence the metalanguage would include words that we would have no other way to give meaning to.

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 04:27 PM
That only holds if you take the limited meaning of "truth" as it applies in mathematics, which is just "provable from axioms." But that meaning is of no help in science, we want a wider meaning we can actually use. So rather than saying "we can't talk about truth, mathematicians have already absconded with that word and they use it to mean provability", we can say "yes but the mathematicians don't know their axioms are true, so provable does not really mean true, and we still need to think about what we want true to mean some more." Thus, scientists have their own meaning of true, which, as you point out, cannot mean provable. Given how rapidly science evolves and expands, we have to use a meaning more like "provisionally true", or "to our best current understanding." This is an indispensible form of the meaning of "true", it is the one that every human on Earth uses every day. How many of them use "provable" in a given day? So I think "truth" does have a very important place in discussions of the mind.
I find that very interesting but I am not sure I agree. Certainly truth is often used as a word as if it means an absolute truth that cannot be denied by circumstances but we know that is a very loose use, associated with good and bad, unless we look at the special case of belief in supreme being truth, whatever that might mean for a believer.

If I may expand, we know adults lie all the time, it's a part of social intercourse, but we might say it is wrong to lie to your friends etc. This means we have our personal truths which are indeed personal and not generalised. As in telling the truth about how you feel, what you did, what you remember and so on. These truths are a long way from any concept of scientific truth as would be claimed as independent of mind. So I prefer hypothesis and theory and scientific law as well defined concepts.

I feel since you have argued so well for clarity about mind dependent reality, you cannot then say we need truth as in really true. It seems to me there is a difference between provable, impossible to prove and true as descriptions. This last one, truth, belongs in our own minds and when it escapes it is misleading. Now I know we can say it is true Australia exists, but that is a slippery slope within this thread that you have defended so well. I have never seen Australia so I accept what I am told, it is part of my reality like stars are hot balls of gas and electrons and neutrinos in descending order of personal experience. I think when we talk scientifically we should be careful about truth just as we are careful about reality. We are still mindful and only mindful.

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 04:52 PM
My stand is that while we live in a mind dependent reality, there is a universe physically external to the mind, existing before and after the first mind appeared.

Do you agree?I am agnostic, I cannot know that. Like you I do believe there was a universe and it evolved but that is a belief. I do not believe many beliefs that others have but I cannot disprove them. Funnily enough most religions go for a mind existing first but that is beside the point.

There is a huge difference between "I don't know (but maybe one day I will)" and "I cannot know" and that difference is accepting we have only mind apparently fed by senses.

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 05:08 PM
I'm not even sure what an evidence-based argument for any "X is in the MIR" would even look like. The standard one is, "X has to be in the MIR or we couldn't have x in the MDR", to which I would simply ask, "and what is telling you that?" There certainly is no experiment that comes out A if X being in the MIR leads to x being in the MDR, and not A if it doesn't, since experiments only justify including x in the MDR. Logical necessities only function within their own R structure, not between them. You could build some kind of metalanguage that includes both the MIR and MDR, and infuse the whole business with logical connections between them, but experiments still only constrain the MDR elements, so only the axioms that relate to that portion can be given a truth-by-experience. Without that, truth requires faith/intuition/preference/will, and hence the metalanguage would include words that we would have no other way to give meaning to.
I chose maths and Pi because physics has trended towards making mathematical models that give good prediction in experiments, and we do hear people talking as though maths is real in the MIR universe. If there is a MIR universe are we back in cause and effect? The argument that the universe must exist before I do is surely
cause-and-effect yet physics is bounding along with no such assumption! Maths and prediction, maths and observation.

That does not mean as several have leaped to claim, that mind is the cause of reality. It is the home of reality. But my narrow argument is maths must be mind based and cannot be assumed to be external reality, at best it's a model. The evidence base for maths is the starting premises and the logical structure. In a way it is pure mind. Even counting is based on assumptions about objects we perceive, objects that get complex if you question the boundaries, it took Russell years to justify numbers!

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-12, 05:27 PM
That is a mere belief you are of course free to engage in but without any means for verification.

I started out believing it but after 30 years of exploring this question have come to the conclusion that it is not true (which is also a mere belief).
So you conclude that "there is nothing out there independent of our minds? Or, am I incorrectly interpreting what you are saying?

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-12, 05:39 PM
I am agnostic, I cannot know that. Like you I do believe there was a universe and it evolved but that is a belief. I do not believe many beliefs that others have but I cannot disprove them. Funnily enough most religions go for a mind existing first but that is beside the point.

There is a huge difference between "I don't know (but maybe one day I will)" and "I cannot know" and that difference is accepting we have only mind apparently fed by senses.
And here is a point I have difficulty with: a mind fed by the senses. What feeds the senses? Certainly not mind dependent reality.
What is the consequence of saying that there was no universe which evolved? That we are living a dream?

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 06:03 PM
And here is a point I have difficulty with: a mind fed by the senses. What feeds the senses? Certainly not mind dependent reality.
What is the consequence of saying that there was no universe which evolved? That we are living a dream?
I assume and I believe the senses provide the kind of signals I need to function. Let's not labour the point that it's my belief and my mind which is functioning. I cannot detect x rays, etc. in the total spectrum nor can I see the very tiny elements. So I accept the peer group interpretation of hundreds of years of experiments using instruments. These inputs are from other minds and I assume they are basically like mine despite other evidence that our belief systems might be very different. I dream and believe I can tell a difference. But how could I prove to myself I am not dreaming? Not long ago it might have been unthinkable that maybe God does not run everything, literally unthinkable, and now it may seem unthinkable that the universe is not real, independent of our mind. But at all times what is unthinkable is a limit caused by our belief system. And our belief system is a product of our mind, some of which is unconscious or subconscious. Gradually by development of ideas in mind, we can work on our beliefs by recognising first that they are beliefs not independent truths.

While we believe our belief system is somehow a one to one correlation with an independent MIR reality we are stuck at that point. If we believe we have only a limited understanding of a complete external reality we are making an assumption which is untestable. And that assumption might limit our progress as scientists, through dogma.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-12, 06:33 PM
I assume and I believe the senses provide the kind of signals I need to function. Let's not labour the point that it's my belief and my mind which is functioning.
What I am asking, is what stimulates the senses to provide signals?

I cannot detect x rays, etc. in the total spectrum nor can I see the very tiny elements. So I accept the peer group interpretation of hundreds of years of experiments using instruments. These inputs are from other minds and I assume they are basically like mine despite other evidence that our belief systems might be very different. I dream and believe I can tell a difference. But how could I prove to myself I am not dreaming?
If we are dreaming, how do we communicate with others? Am I the only one dreaming, and nothing exists outside of my mind?

Not long ago it might have been unthinkable that maybe God does not run everything, literally unthinkable, and now it may seem unthinkable that the universe is not real, independent of our mind. But at all times what is unthinkable is a limit caused by our belief system. And our belief system is a product of our mind, some of which is unconscious or subconscious. Gradually by development of ideas in mind, we can work on our beliefs by recognising first that they are beliefs not independent truths.
But God was pure speculation and an act of faith. No sensorial input to our brains, in contrast to the universe. Seems like two completely different things to me.

Ken G
2014-Jan-12, 07:13 PM
If I may expand, we know adults lie all the time, it's a part of social intercourse, but we might say it is wrong to lie to your friends etc. This means we have our personal truths which are indeed personal and not generalised. As in telling the truth about how you feel, what you did, what you remember and so on. These truths are a long way from any concept of scientific truth as would be claimed as independent of mind. I agree, it is the former truths that are what science uses, not anything claimed to be independent of mind, so they are what we mean by "scientific truth." Some might object to calling that "scientific truth", on the grounds that it tends to change, but the only truth that doesn't change is that "at that point in time, the best way science could account for the situation was X, so X was regarded as scientific truth at that time."

It is a provisional form of truth, but what truth isn't provisional? I could imagine that my own name is certainly not a provisional truth, but of course it is, I could discover tomorrow that I was switched at birth and my actual given name was something different. So if we relegate the word "truth" to things that are not provisional, we are left with nothing beyond the structural truths of mathematical syntax, i.e., truth by provability. That is essentially never the way the word is used in practice, however, as is easily seen by the fact that every human in creation has "told the truth" at some point in their lives, yet the majority have never proved anything.


I feel since you have argued so well for clarity about mind dependent reality, you cannot then say we need truth as in really true. It seems to me there is a difference between provable, impossible to prove and true as descriptions.I'm not sure that is disagreeing with me. What I'm fundamentally saying is that "truth" is a word, so we say what it means, and this connects it very closely to the procedures used to establish when something is true or not. We use many different such procedures in different contexts, so "truth" also means different things in different contexts. So when "the truth value" of a statement was brought up earlier in the thread, I attempted, unsuccessfully, to get the user to tell me what procedure they had in mind to establish that. But without that procedure, it really doesn't mean anything at all, it's just gibberish wearing a disguise of meaning that falls to pieces as soon as you ask, "but what does that mean?"

I have never seen Australia so I accept what I am told, it is part of my reality like stars are hot balls of gas and electrons and neutrinos in descending order of personal experience. I think when we talk scientifically we should be careful about truth just as we are careful about reality.I think so too, I'm not sure why you prefaced that with saying you didn't agree-- I didn't see anything in your remarks that I didn't agree with too!

Selfsim
2014-Jan-12, 08:29 PM
What I am asking, is where to what stimulates the senses to provide signals?That which 'is' ... which is altogether, completely empty and meaningless.

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 08:34 PM
I think so too, I'm not sure why you prefaced that with saying you didn't agree-- I didn't see anything in your remarks that I didn't agree with too!Then we agree as before:)

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 08:45 PM
What I am asking, is where to what stimulates the senses to provide signals?

If we are dreaming, how do we communicate with others? Am I the only one dreaming, and nothing exists outside of my mind?

But God was pure speculation and an act of faith. No sensorial input to our brains, in contrast to the universe. Seems like two completely different things to me.

Senses: I have grown up with them so I assume they detect something but I have only the consensus from others to validate that. I have no way of standing outside my senses to check what they signal.
Dreams,: in my dreams I often communicate with others who must also be in my head; I often am aware of thinking "is this a dream" but it stays real until I wake up, so I can easily imagine waking up again to find today was all a dream too, and so on.
People who believe in God refer to all the same evidence including input to their brains, or mostly, to support their belief, and that is consistent, I cannot argue, I cannot know about that kind of god. However I know people who hold that belief to be as obvious to them as you claim the universe existence is to you.. Maybe I should go along with Pascal's wager, just in case, but I just don't believe in that, I believe that strong agnosticism is rigorous within mind. So I cannot say you are wrong but I can say actually you can't know either.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-12, 08:47 PM
That which 'is' ... which is altogether, completely empty and meaningless.
OK, so I mistyped. Once more: what I am asking is what stimulates the senses to provide the signals?

profloater
2014-Jan-12, 08:54 PM
OK, so I mistyped. Once more: what I am asking is what stimulates the senses to provide the signals? It's deja vu all over again, I rewatched the Matrix, at least I think I did, it seemed different somehow. I just don't know because as well as the senses I get flashes, I am a creative type (like you I am sure) I invent, design and speculate, where does that come from? I can imagine different outcomes, I might believe in Karma, I could work out a mechanism based on information fields, but does it mean anything, it is in my mind.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-12, 08:57 PM
OK, so I mistyped. Once more: what I am asking is what stimulates the senses to provide the signals?The answer was not dependent on the mistype.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-12, 09:33 PM
The answer was not dependent on the mistype.

Have no idea what you are talking about. Mind being clear?

KlausH
2014-Jan-12, 10:08 PM
So you conclude that "there is nothing out there independent of our minds? Or, am I incorrectly interpreting what you are saying?

Yes, close enough. However, I don't think there are "minds". I believe there is only one consciousness (no religion involved whatsoever) and everything is a manifestation of that One. There is only One.
If someone would have told me 30 years (or even 20 years) ago that one day I would write this, I'd have outright denied it and considered it "crazy" or something along those lines.
How I got from being a rather staunch scientific realist to this position is a personal journey that has no place on this board but it didn't come easy.


What I am asking, is what stimulates the senses to provide signals?
My answer:
Nothing. The sensory (and all other) perceptions manifest spontaneously in consciousness, i.e. without cause. Causality requires time, which I believe does not exist.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-12, 10:53 PM
What I am asking, is where to what stimulates the senses to provide signals?That which 'is' ... which is altogether, completely empty and meaningless.Have no idea what you are talking about. Mind being clear?Confusion is usually caused by a mind deliberately creating smoke-screens, (probably as a way of avoiding confronting what it doesn't want to hear, or refuses to accept).

Try on the idea: that your MIR is completely empty and meaningless ... devoid of everything you ever cared/care about.

Its quite a refreshing place to be, actually.

Ken G
2014-Jan-12, 10:59 PM
What I am asking, is what stimulates the senses to provide signals?
I think the issue you keep returning to is that you want to account for why things are the way they are. That is very hard to do. Why do things fall? Because there's gravity. But wait, isn't that just restating the question in the form of an answer, I mean, wasn't I really asking "why is there gravity"? We don't get to know stuff like that, we get to make predictive models and gain predictive power and understanding, but we don't get to know what accounts for these things.

Let me give you an example of what I mean about the difficulty of accounting for things. If someone says, as an idealist might, "the reason everything we experience is in our minds is because there is only mind and nothing else", I ask "and how would things look if there were not only mind?" If someone says "the reason our minds are able to experience anything in the first place is because there is something that would have existed even if minds never did", I ask "those are a lot of nice words you just used, what process gives them meaning, if not the workings of your mind, and if only the workings of your mind can give those words their meanings, how can you claim those words are talking about something that is independent of your mind?"

In my view, there are no satisfactory answers to either of those questions, other than, "because I choose to believe this is how things are." The tiger of the mind is chasing the tail of its own reality, and it makes no difference if we imagine there is only the tiger and its tail, or if the whole scenario is playing out within some larger sphere that includes more than the tiger and its tail. There is no evidence you can bring forward that would not be an example of how your mind makes sense of your reality, which is exactly what we are calling MDR here. So your MDR could include idealism, or it could include belief in MIR, or it could include neither of those things, but everything else is the same-- you still have what you call your family and/or friends, you still look at what you call trees, breathe what you call air, etc.. There is no substantive or demonstrable difference in any of those MDRs, other than the value you derive from the additional beliefs you attach to it. Above all, science has no need to make any of those distinctions, it works just fine in all those MDRs as long as the objective overlap is the same, and we find by experience that it is.


If we are dreaming, how do we communicate with others? Am I the only one dreaming, and nothing exists outside of my mind?
The difference between dreaming and being awake is not a difference between a MDR and a MIR, it is simply two different elements of your MDR. You say when you are dreaming, and when you are awake, based on your experiences and what you want those words to mean. Dreaming and being awake are just examples of how we make sense of our reality, so they are classic MDR elements. You ask how do we communicate with others, the answer is, by speaking or posting to forums. That's it, that's how we communicate with others. If you want to know what makes that possible, again I ask, what makes gravity possible? All we get is that it is possible, we experience that, so we must put it in our MDR.


But God was pure speculation and an act of faith. No sensorial input to our brains, in contrast to the universe. Seems like two completely different things to me.I don't mean to say that is the same as an MIR, I'm just putting out examples of things we take on faith. Sensorial input to your brain is all part of your MDR, you say that you are receiving signals, you call them "sensorial input", it's demonstrably an example of your mind making sense of what you call sensorial input. It's natural your mind should interpret them that way, and what is "external to" your mind is clearly evidence-based, but all you have evidence of is that it makes sense to regard it as external to, not independent of your mind. Dreams are cooked up inside your mind, sensorial input refers to something outside your mind, that's what your mind means by "inside" and "outside", but none of that is mind independent because your mind is what gives "inside" and "outside" their meanings.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-13, 01:40 AM
And here is a point I have difficulty with: a mind fed by the senses. What feeds the senses? Certainly not mind dependent reality..........

My belief says that we are living a "construct" constrained by "something" external to that construct. The "construct" has rules, it has objects and it has brains and senses. The senses tune themselves to the rules so that the rock is seen as a rock without the rock being an intrinsically absolute rock - it is a rock that exists with reference to that from which the construct emerges, my body and individual mind exists with reference to the that from which the construct emerges. The space between my body and the rock exists with reference to that from which the construct emerges. The temporal relationship between my individual mind and the deterioration of the rock is referenced to that from which the construct emerges. Take my individual mind away and the rock still remains referenced to that from which the construct arises. What is this "something" that constrains individual minds and feeds the construct? We will never access it using rational and logical thought via our individual minds, but along with my belief concerning the "construct", I believe that there is an inaccessible global mind that sprouts individual minds. From that global mind, constraints emerge along with individual minds, both go together, they give us a sense of self awareness and a sense of the rock being external to us, with our brain taking a video of it and our individual mind being aware of this. And so it should, because according to my belief - the rock is external to us! But the rock is referenced to the "something" and so is our individual mind - the interactions between my senses and the rock all take place within the construct that is our reality, but they are part of the "something". The external reality you crave is there, but it isn't the rock, it is the "something" that feeds and constrains the "construct". But that which is in the construct is as real as you can get, they include individual minds, people, trees and rocks and the view from your window, the objects are your individual mind's external reality, but all played out within the "construct" that is fed and constrained by a "something". The "construct" is all we can ever know and is our reality, rational and logical thought can define the rock as being an external object within the construct because it is perceived to be external to my individual mind, but what rational and logical thought cannot do is to assign an absolute intrinsic label to that rock that removes it from any notion of mind. It's just impossible, to remove the rock from mind, however it is framed, be it my "construct", pure idealism or your viewpoint of a passive only mind, means that we have to step outside of our individual mind and then see what's left - but what can we possibly use to examine what's left if we have to step outside of our mind?

But just for fun, I will invoke belief and make a conjecture over what would be left. In terms of my construct, a "something" akin to mind and consciousness would be left but I wouldn't recognize it because this "something" wouldn't exist in terms of space and time, but it would give me a sense of being able to act globally and in a constraining manner on individual minds, but not in terms of cause and effect, such notions could not exist in the "something". Now even in terms of belief I have had to make use of familiar mind dependent language and I struggle, so what chance have I of using rational and logical thought to describe this "MIR" - none at all, its just impossible. In terms of your viewpoint, its a little easier, When I step outside of my individual mind I see the same things - I see the rock, the trees and the view from your window exactly as they are from inside of my mind - and on the face of it, why call it belief then? - after all there isn't any difference. Clearly, within your viewpoint, there is no need to struggle for words or notions in the way I have to with my "something", everything is there in place! In other words, you can get away with it if you don't consider properly the kind of thought process you are invoking

So to get to your belief (and it has to be a belief because of what I have said above), you say the rock is an absolute thing in itself, that the brain is an absolute thing in its-self along with the space between your brain and the rock. Your belief says that mind and consciousness emerge from the hardwired individual brain and passively looks at a "video" of the rock. You believe that your mind is telling you the absolute truth regarding the image from the brains video camera - it is telling you that the rock is absolutely a rock and is not dependent on any other "something" - it is a rock and nothing but a rock. Likewise for your brain, you believe your mind when it tells you the brain is an absolute brain and depends on no other "something". These absolute entities you see as being fundamental things in-themselves. It is a comfortable belief, it accounts for shared perceptions of physical rules, objects are the same for us all because we have similar video cameras in terms of the brain and sensory organs. And it accords with what we grow up with.

So I have my belief, you have your belief, I can't disprove your belief and you can't disprove mine. But what do we do with science that can't rely on belief? We invoke rational and logical thought using our mind. And just the fact of using our mind, in terms of rational and logical thought (which is an agreed method of determining knowledge) implies that we have to take into account that the mind might not be telling us the truth regarding your belief or my belief.

I seems to me that the best both of us can do in order to stay faithful to the pursuit of knowledge using rational and logical thought (which is the preferred method of acquiring knowledge I would have thought) is to state that our premise of a MIR is based on belief and then from that point use rational and logical thought in which to address the ramifications of that premise. I'm sure you can guess what we both end up with - the scientific method! And even more to the point, we needn't even bother to state our belief based premises - we simply ensure that we keep our science away from any notion of MIR.

So why the need to stray from rational and logical thought and invoke belief based MIR? In the short term, it may give comfort of sorts, but surely an integrity towards the scientific method is a more important long term aim. Succumbing to belief is attractive, but out of its proper place and context it will rebound sooner or later as it clashes with the scientific thought process. That clash may not happen in the near future, but it will happen and after that clash has played itself out, people will look back on this period and find it quaint and historically interesting that so many could consider that external objects resided within a scientifically valid MIR rather than the notion being a system of recognized belief. Perhaps they may look at our scientific era in the same manner we might look back at those who considered (using what they perceived to be rational thought) that if one approached the horizon they would fall over the edge. They wouldn't have seen that as a belief, they would have been firm in their conviction that if you can't see the end of a flat seascape, then there must be a drop beyond it. That's how I see those who are so firm in their conviction of objects residing within MIR and with as much respect as I can possibly muster, is how I see your position.

Rational and logical thought, along with testability placed the flat earth conviction firmly into one that could be only belief. Whether such belief can sustain itself I suppose depends on the evidence/thought/experience that slowly erodes that belief. I don't know if there is anybody who still believes the earth is flat, if there is then I guess we still have to say they are entitled to their view. MIR would probably never get to that position because we could never test for or against it, but I wager that in a hundred years time, it will be recognized by a majority as being a belief system and in a few more hundred years from that point it would be a belief held by very few. Unlike God and heaven, there would be no advantage to having the belief, so there would be little to sustain it. So I think that in a few hundred years time, the notion of a MIR as most think of it (i.e. in terms of external objects residing within it) will be associated as being a label of our age and one that was blindly followed under the guise of rational thought.

That short term thinking exists now, over half of those participating in the poll consider that MIR belongs within the context of science, but I wonder how many of those realize that they are invoking belief? I bet they are thinking like "flat earthers" thought all those years ago when they felt sure that if they couldn't see anything blocking their view yet the view disappeared, then common sense would indicate they would fall over the edge.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 06:46 AM
Well Ken, correct me if I am wrong concerning your position: We can't discuss anything without our minds, so any image, concept, terminology we come up with is MDR. This view means we are locked in a box. So taking this as a starting point, it is impossible to come up with any argument in favor of MIR.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 07:16 AM
But Len, if our ancestors came up with a "flat earth" vision of the world, it was simply because they had not yet circumnavigated the globe, though the sight of a ship gradually disappearing towards the horizon should have given them a hint of the "truth". If I understand you correctly, you are saying that while our minds lock us in a "box" (MDR), there must be something more.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 07:19 AM
Confusion is usually caused by a mind deliberately creating smoke-screens, (probably as a way of avoiding confronting what it doesn't want to hear, or refuses to accept).

Try on the idea: that your MIR is completely empty and meaningless ... devoid of everything you ever cared/care about.

Its quite a refreshing place to be, actually.
Well, my mind must be working overtime from your perspective then. Why should it be comforting to imagine that MIR is devoid of meaning? :confused:

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 07:19 AM
Well Ken, correct me if I am wrong concerning your position: We can't discuss anything without our minds, so any image, concept, terminology we come up with is MDR. This view means we are locked in a box. So taking this as a starting point, it is impossible to come up with any argument in favor of MIR.Correct. We can only discuss what Len calls "pointers" to MIR, which we interpret as part of our MDR. But the pointers are just signposts, and we can make of them what we want-- it requires belief to hold they point to a place outside our ability to discuss using images, concepts, and other products of our minds. Basically, are they signs that point "East", or signs that point "North"?

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 08:13 AM
I still see MIR creating us, giving rise to our MDR. Since we are dependent on our minds, we are locked up in a box, and, for not the first time in human history (when we thought the earth was the center of the universe), we self-importantly deny the existence of anything else...

Selfsim
2014-Jan-13, 08:34 AM
Well, my mind must be working overtime from your perspective then. Why should it be comforting to imagine that MIR is devoid of meaning? :confused:I think I've mentioned several times the closest I can see one could ever get to experiencing some kind of MIR, would be some kind of purely instinctive state where one's senses are just absorbing what there is to absorb, without adding any meaning to those sensations. This could only be done in a state of mind which is focused purely on the present .. what's happening in the moment .. and by abandoning all cares, concerns and meanings, (all of which come from past experiences). Its all about 'experiencing emptiness' and its a great place to be, because one can create any type of MDR one likes from that starting point ... without having to consider anything, or anyone.

It would be a bit like the feeling of exhilaration one can get from standing on top of some high mountain and being able to see for miles and miles, or watching a sunset .. all for no particular reason. There's still an active mind there, so I'm not saying its your MIR ... however, its about as close as I can imagine to being independent of thoughts, meanings and concerns, as it could ever get.

If you find any meaning whatsoever in your MIR .. then by definition, you are firmly embedded in MDR ... so you may as well accept that, and get on with adding more meaning to everything ...

Len Moran
2014-Jan-13, 09:11 AM
But Len, if our ancestors came up with a "flat earth" vision of the world, it was simply because they had not yet circumnavigated the globe, though the sight of a ship gradually disappearing towards the horizon should have given them a hint of the "truth".

I know what you are saying, the only point I was wishing to make was that the "flat earth" vision was not a belief to them, it was based on what they perceived as rational thought. But they lacked a "sophistication" regarding that thought that could have prompted a question of why (for example) there was still water stretching all the way to the horizon when according to their rational thought there was a sudden drop the other side of the horizon - they might have extrapolated that rational thought to why the water doesn't all drain away over the edge leaving a dam or even a desert. That's just one example of a "pointer", I'm sure there could have been other "pointers" towards there not being a sudden drop, but the point is, the notion of a flat earth seemed like common sense to them, it wasn't a belief or faith based on their own opinions, they could see the horizon with no mountains blocking their view, therefore there must be a sudden drop and it was a picture that everyone would agree with. And so it is with MIR today, most look at it as being self evident, as common sense. Most agree with each other that the rock exists within MIR, not as a belief but as a notion that "this is what is" and what "is" must be based on rational thought - it would be irrational to think otherwise. It's like saying common sense is common sense because its clearly common sense that it is common sense. Once we get into that mindset we loose the distinction between belief and rational thought, just as I consider the "flat earthers" did so many many years ago.


If I understand you correctly, you are saying that while our minds lock us in a "box" (MDR), there must be something more.

Yes I do believe that to be the case, I hold on to "pointers" from within MDR that I consider to be rational and logical that suggest a direction away from MDR, but that's as far as rational and logical thought can take me, from that point on my conception of "something" other than our individual minds being needed can only be belief. And even then, I can't really talk about this "something" because I believe it exists outside of space and time, but whatever it is, I believe that it is prior to MDR in terms of constraining all our individual minds and feeding the "construct" that is MDR. But I really cannot say anything more about that structure, even in terms of belief - it is way beyond familiar language - the best I can do is to invoke it as a requirement via pointers. But as I said, though the destination of these pointers is a belief, I do think that the pointers themselves (as indicating a direction away from MDR) are based on rational and logical thought to some degree.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 12:06 PM
I think I've mentioned several times the closest I can see one could ever get to experiencing some kind of MIR, would be some kind of purely instinctive state where one's senses are just absorbing what there is to absorb, without adding any meaning to those sensations. This could only be done in a state of mind which is focused purely on the present .. what's happening in the moment .. and by abandoning all cares, concerns and meanings, (all of which come from past experiences). Its all about 'experiencing emptiness' and its a great place to be, because one can create any type of MDR one likes from that starting point ... without having to consider anything, or anyone.
What does "the senses absorbing what there is to absorb" mean? Is color excluded? Smell type? These are MDR. Could you please give an example?


It would be a bit like the feeling of exhilaration one can get from standing on top of some high mountain and being able to see for miles and miles, or watching a sunset .. all for no particular reason. There's still an active mind there, so I'm not saying its your MIR ... however, its about as close as I can imagine to being independent of thoughts, meanings and concerns, as it could ever get. Yet feeling of exhilaration is MDR, exists only in the mind.


If you find any meaning whatsoever in your MIR .. then by definition, you are firmly embedded in MDR ... so you may as well accept that, and get on with adding more meaning to everything ...
You are taking Ken's position: we are locked in a box, anything we think of, verbalize is MDR.
Fine, accept that if it makes you happy. But it does not convince me, and just by being repetitive will not convince me either.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 12:10 PM
Yes I do believe that to be the case, I hold on to "pointers" from within MDR that I consider to be rational and logical that suggest a direction away from MDR, but that's as far as rational and logical thought can take me, from that point on my conception of "something" other than our individual minds being needed can only be belief. And even then, I can't really talk about this "something" because I believe it exists outside of space and time, but whatever it is, I believe that it is prior to MDR in terms of constraining all our individual minds and feeding the "construct" that is MDR. But I really cannot say anything more about that structure, even in terms of belief - it is way beyond familiar language - the best I can do is to invoke it as a requirement via pointers. But as I said, though the destination of these pointers is a belief, I do think that the pointers themselves (as indicating a direction away from MDR) are based on rational and logical thought to some degree.
But why isn't this "something" (if it exists) be just another name for MIR?

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 02:25 PM
You are taking Ken's position: we are locked in a box, anything we think of, verbalize is MDR.
Fine, accept that if it makes you happy. But it does not convince me, and just by being repetitive will not convince me either.Be aware, there is only one thing that anyone is trying to "convince" you of, and that is that the correct answer to the OP question is "no/false," on the grounds that the importance you attribute to MIR is a matter of your own personal choice, but you could be just as much of a scientist if you did not hold that belief. Given that, if you had your vote again, what would it be?

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 02:27 PM
But why isn't this "something" (if it exists) be just another name for MIR?
It is, Len is also a believer in MIR. The only difference is, he is comfortable saying that this is a matter of belief.

caveman1917
2014-Jan-13, 03:08 PM
It sounds to me like you are not distinguishing "provable in the language" from "provable in the metalanguage (model)". That's a rather important distinction!

Not to mention one that you just made up on the spot. Can you provide a reference to this notion of "provability in a model"?


Of course everything provable in the syntax of the language has to be provable in the syntax of the metalanguage, the metalanguage is "larger" than the language.

Can you provide a reference that a model is "larger" than the theory it satisfies? It certainly isn't true for arithmetic, which contains a countably infinite number of axioms (countably infinite theory) and a countably infinite model (the natural numbers). It likewise is false for most standard mathematics, such as set theory.


At issue is that which is provable in the metalanguage (the formalization of the "meaning" concept, or semantics) but is not provable in the language.

Nothing is "provable in the model", that's just something you've made up. For one, a model does not include a deductive system.


In the context of this actual thread, we are talking about "reality", and reality admits many different models, different metalanguages, that can "prove" quite different things in the metalanguage than can be proved in the "language" of, for example, some particular scientific model of reality (what we have been calling an example of MDR).

You do understand the difference between model in the sense of model theory (and hence in the sense of the incomplenetess theorem) and model in the scientific sense, right?


In that case, there is a metalanguage that allows us to say the Godel sentence is true, and from that we may infer that it is "true-by-meaning" that our mathematical number system is incomplete, or "true-by-structure" that the metalanguage can prove this.

Yes there is a model in which that sentence is true and models in which that sentence is false.


The reason this does not actually allow us to conclude that our number system is incomplete is the dirt under the carpet that is often overlooked, which is that we do not know that the metalanguage provides a "true" model of the number system, because we do not know that the axioms are consistent.

The consistency of Peano's axioms can be proved in ZFC, the issue is not being unable to show a theory to be consistent, it's that a theory cannot show itself to be consistent.


The bottom line, and the reason I invoked Godel's result, is that it shows that "provability" and "truth" can never be the same thing, if we want "truth" to mean something more than syntactic provability in some arbitrary structure!

Obviously. The issue that you've been dancing around however is that those "unprovable truths" can be made false by using a different model that doesn't change our experience. So whatever allows us to say that the sentence is true, it certainly isn't experience!


It has been my entire point that truth-by-experience is not the same as "provable," a matter that I have attempted to give considerable stress to.

Then maybe you shouldn't define it to be the same, such as you did above (my bold):

So if you want the formal meaning of true-by-experience, it is that our experience informs us as to the correct model to take as authoritative, such that when we prove things in that model, we may hold them to be true-by-experience.


What you need experience for is to judge the "truth" of the axioms, and we judge that truth, formally, by the syntax of some metalanguage that is informed by experience.

And there you go gratuitously introducing experience again. Every consistent first-order theory has a model, no mattter what those axioms are - as long as they are consistent - there will be a model that evaluates them as true, in particular the theory formed by negating all of Peano's axioms will have a model.


No, the reasoning is just fine.

The reasoning was fallacious, as anyone with a basic understanding of probabilistic reasoning can check for himself. If observational evidence is presented that two models predict will be there, or more formally such that the conditional probability of the evidence given the model is 1 for both models, then incorporating that evidence does not change the relative posterior probabilities for those models.


Let us reframe my argument. Model 1 is our current laws of physics, so no objects can go from being slower than light to faster than light. Model 2 is those laws, plus a rule that faeries can accelerate through the speed of light. Both these models predict all the experiences we have had in our lives, so by your logic, we are not provided with any way to distinguish these models.

No, what i said is that our experiences do not provide a way to distinguish those models.


Luckily, in science, we have Occam's Razor to dispense with the faerie model, but that doesn't make it a wrong model.

Like i said, there are many reasons to prefer one over the other (such as being minimal), but none of those derives from experience.


Read my argument again, you will see that is just exactly what I argued, and you find yourself arguing that we should accept the faerie model and accept the proposition that objects can accelerate through c.

I've not argued any such thing. Look, it's very simple. You claimed
1. that experience informs you as to the correct model
2. that the incompleteness theorem shows that you therefor, through experience, know more truths than can be formally proved.

Both statements are easily shown wrong by noting that the non-standard models, which evaluate the sentences that you claimed experience tells you are true as being false, are indistinguishable in terms of experience (they are distinguished by including infinite numbers - something that is squarely outside experience).


Well if your whole point is that we could prove the theorems of arithmetic with less minimal metalanguages, that comes as no great shock to me-- and has nothing to do with anything I've said.

How do you get that from what i said? We never prove theorems of arithmetic with "metalanguages" (how about using some standard terminology for a change and call them "models"?) in the first place.

caveman1917
2014-Jan-13, 03:21 PM
Be aware, there is only one thing that anyone is trying to "convince" you of, and that is that the correct answer to the OP question is "no/false," on the grounds that the importance you attribute to MIR is a matter of your own personal choice, but you could be just as much of a scientist if you did not hold that belief.

The correct answer is "no", but that's not support for MDR. Just because MDR implies "no" does not mean that "no" implies MDR. At least my "no" vote isn't in support of MDR, i've voted no to the question as asked, ie whether science requires elements independent of our minds, but i don't agree to the implicit premise you're using to count that as support of MDR, namely "does science require minds at all".

Len Moran
2014-Jan-13, 04:41 PM
The correct answer is "no", but that's not support for MDR. Just because MDR implies "no" does not mean that "no" implies MDR. At least my "no" vote isn't in support of MDR, i've voted no to the question as asked, ie whether science requires elements independent of our minds, but i don't agree to the implicit premise you're using to count that as support of MDR, namely "does science require minds at all".

So can I ask what your position is regarding MIR and MDR in terms of the relationship (whether it be mathematical and/or linguistic) between the two notions and the kind of thought processes you invoke to describe that relationship? I just can't pin your position down (through no fault of yourself, it is more to do with my shortcomings), but I have a "sense" that you see mathematics (in part) as function of MIR and would seem to "like" to imply that the mathematical elements of physical models do indeed lay beyond the mind in a manner that resides outside of belief and more towards rational and logical thought. I think if you were to clarify your position in this regard it would make it easier for me to understand the context of the differing opinions you have with Ken that just keep on sprouting up - differences that never seem to get resolved.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-13, 05:25 PM
It would be a bit like the feeling of exhilaration one can get from standing on top of some high mountain and being able to see for miles and miles, or watching a sunset .. all for no particular reason. There's still an active mind there, so I'm not saying its your MIR ... however, its about as close as I can imagine to being independent of thoughts, meanings and concerns, as it could ever get.


I do think that to be the case, I have experienced it myself in the mountains. There is a sense of something that transcends the sheer beauty of the landscape, it doesn't involve me as a detached observer admiring the panorama, rather I become part of the landscape and it doesn't come through willing it. But it is a very delicate experience - the slightest interference from familiar thought collapses it immediately, even thinking about what you are perceiving destroys it. But for that brief period when you have it, I think you are within a different level of mind - not in the sense of being able to do anything with it or start to ask questions about it - as soon as you do that its gone! It's more about being "unaware" of this "awareness" of something "other" than a familiar mind. It is something that doesn't invoke familiar notions of space and time in the sense of needing those concepts to frame the experience, rather the experience is a "something" that doesn't require experience of anything - the "something" just "is" with no means of identifying it. As I said, if you tried to identify it, you would destroy it.

Of course that experience could be described as entirely MDR, all I would really say is that the experience doesn't seem to need any of the familiar notions of MDR, it uses none of them (well not consciously anyway), so who knows - perhaps a tiny bit of that experience is a connection to the deepest and most inaccessible part of a global mind that could be construed as being independent of my individual mind and familiar notions.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 06:42 PM
Given that, if you had your vote again, what would it be? It would be unchanged. :)

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 07:03 PM
Not to mention one that you just made up on the spot. Can you provide a reference to this notion of "provability in a model"?
It's straight from model theory. The idea behind model theory is coming up with metalanguages that allow syntactic proofs of what must be considered semantic truth in the original langauge. Is that not what you think model theory is? You might want to read up on Tarski's concept of "truth", on which model theory is based. Since you asked for a reference, try http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/tarski-truth/.



Can you provide a reference that a model is "larger" than the theory it satisfies? What I attempted to convey is that the metalanguage is what is larger than the language on which the metalanguage is imposing a sense of semantic truth. Since all "truth" in mathematics stems from provability, which is fundamentally syntactical, the concept of "semantic truth" in mathematics must be imposed by a syntactical superstructure. Doing that is the reason Tarski invented model theory.


Nothing is "provable in the model", that's just something you've made up. For one, a model does not include a deductive system.
I meant to say provable by using the axioms of the metalanguage, I believe I already stressed that point in multiple places above.


The consistency of Peano's axioms can be proved in ZFC, the issue is not being unable to show a theory to be consistent, it's that a theory cannot show itself to be consistent.
Obviously.

The issue that you've been dancing around however is that those "unprovable truths" can be made false by using a different model that doesn't change our experience. So whatever allows us to say that the sentence is true, it certainly isn't experience!No, you are missing the point. What allows us to say the sentence is true is that we have chosen a metalanguage for doing that, which is informed by our experience. We don't know the right metalanguage, but we know some work better than others, so we choose the ones that work. That's experience, that's "truth-by-meaning" when meaning comes from experience. Who said anything about changing our experience? We take our experience as the input, and we choose a metalanguage that gives us an appropriate concept of truth-by-meaning. Of course most people do this so automatically they never even think of it as being the syntactics of a metalanguage, that is how mathematicians think about what they are doing so they can formalize it. Whether or not it can really be formalized is another issue, most people simply "do what makes sense to them."


Then maybe you shouldn't define it to be the same, such as you did above (my bold):Still you seem to miss the point. "Truth-by-experience" is not provable in the language in which the truth is expressed, it is provable in the syntax of a chosen metalanguage being used to interpret that language. That is why "Truth-by-experience" is not the same as "provable", because we are not talking about the same language. The statement that is "true by experience", such as "the sky is blue", is only provable if we adopt axioms for the metalanguage that must be informed by experience. All the same, we do adopt those axioms-- but we don't prove them. Everything I am saying here is to help you see what I think Einstein very clearly meant when he said "to the extent that the laws of mathematics are certain, they do not apply to reality." Obviously anything is provable if I'm allowed to choose any axioms I want, so your objections about the differences between true and provable are pointless. The real question here is, how do we choose axioms in the first place?




And there you go gratuitously introducing experience again. Every consistent first-order theory has a model, no mattter what those axioms are - as long as they are consistent - there will be a model that evaluates them as true, in particular the theory formed by negating all of Peano's axioms will have a model.That's perfectly obvious, and irrelevant. If you think my introduction of experience here is "gratuitious", it merely shows that you still do not understand what I'm saying. So answer me this: how do we choose axioms? I'm waiting.
Look, it's very simple. You claimed
1. that experience informs you as to the correct model
2. that the incompleteness theorem shows that you therefor, through experience, know more truths than can be formally proved.
Apparently, it is not "very simple", because I certainly never claimed #2, and #1 is clearly correct.


Both statements are easily shown wrong by noting that the non-standard models, which evaluate the sentences that you claimed experience tells you are true as being false, are indistinguishable in terms of experience (they are distinguished by including infinite numbers - something that is squarely outside experience).You have no idea what I'm saying, that's the problem here. It sounds like you don't even realize that the meanings of the words you are writing come from your experiences! What is actually relevant to this discussion is this:
We never prove theorems of arithmetic with "metalanguages" (how about using some standard terminology for a change and call them "models"?) in the first place.We certainly do prove theorems of arithmetic with metalanguages. That is because we cannot prove squat in arithmetic without axioms, and what tells us what axioms to take (now I'll answer my own question) is by virtue of their truth-by-meaning, which in turn we judge based on the syntax of the metalanguage that we find works, you guessed it, by experience. Otherwise, the words in the axioms don't mean anything at all, they are just syntactic symbols.

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 07:06 PM
The correct answer is "no", but that's not support for MDR. Just because MDR implies "no" does not mean that "no" implies MDR. At least my "no" vote isn't in support of MDR, i've voted no to the question as asked, ie whether science requires elements independent of our minds, but i don't agree to the implicit premise you're using to count that as support of MDR, namely "does science require minds at all".What are you talking about? You want a new thread on whether or not there is a MDR, or whether science needs minds? Go ahead, but I think that it's a pretty poor interpretation of the meaning of those words to yield the answer "there is no MDR." In any event, none of this thread is about that, the meaning of MDR used in this thread is pretty clear to all. If you don't think science requires minds at all, then you have either a highly useless definition of "mind", or a highly useless definition of "science", or both.

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 07:16 PM
It would be unchanged. Then the burden of argument is on you. Please give me one single shred of evidence that your personal faith in an MIR is required to do science. Do not tell me why you hold that faith, I can easily see that, tell me why you think the scientific method needs it to work. (You're going to tell my why you believe in the MIR, aren't you?) To count as evidence, you have to be able to distinguish your position from someone who believes that all mathematical structures are universes, because they could also say "that's why I believe science works", right? I don't want your faith in why science works, I want evidence that science needs your faith to work, that was the OP question.

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 07:58 PM
Then the burden of argument is on you. Please give me one single shred of evidence that your personal faith in an MIR is required to do science. Do not tell me why you hold that faith, I can easily see that, tell me why you think the scientific method needs it to work. (You're going to tell my why you believe in the MIR, aren't you?) To count as evidence, you have to be able to distinguish your position from someone who believes that all mathematical structures are universes, because they could also say "that's why I believe science works", right? I don't want your faith in why science works, I want evidence that science needs your faith to work, that was the OP question.
Well, since science wants to create models of how things work and not what reality is, then MIR is not relevant to science.

Selfsim
2014-Jan-13, 08:32 PM
I do think that to be the case, I have experienced it myself in the mountains. There is a sense of something that transcends the sheer beauty of the landscape, it doesn't involve me as a detached observer admiring the panorama, rather I become part of the landscape and it doesn't come through willing it. But it is a very delicate experience - the slightest interference from familiar thought collapses it immediately, even thinking about what you are perceiving destroys it. But for that brief period when you have it, I think you are within a different level of mind - not in the sense of being able to do anything with it or start to ask questions about it - as soon as you do that its gone! It's more about being "unaware" of this "awareness" of something "other" than a familiar mind. It is something that doesn't invoke familiar notions of space and time in the sense of needing those concepts to frame the experience, rather the experience is a "something" that doesn't require experience of anything - the "something" just "is" with no means of identifying it. As I said, if you tried to identify it, you would destroy it.

Of course that experience could be described as entirely MDR, all I would really say is that the experience doesn't seem to need any of the familiar notions of MDR, it uses none of them (well not consciously anyway), so who knows - perhaps a tiny bit of that experience is a connection to the deepest and most inaccessible part of a global mind that could be construed as being independent of my individual mind and familiar notions.Yes Len … there's something about this experience which seems to be unique. I get the distinct impression it may also be one of your 'pointers'(?)

The curious thing about it, is that the prerequisite for experiencing it, seems to be a deep association with 'empty and meaningless', (ie: this is a deliberate MDR strategy for achieving the state in the first place). To deliberately attempt to adopt this perspective, would also represent a deliberate attempt to position a mind squarely in some type of MIR (which I find particularly curious). If the strategy invokes 'empty and meaningless', then that would also suggest that gzhpcu's flavour of MIR, would also be 'empty and meaningless' … which seems to make the whole purpose of pursuing the idea of MIR, (in order to gain knowledge or understanding), a self-defeating exercise(?)

If an MIR 'exists' and it is accessed by this particular state of mind, then there would be no potential for furthering knowledge by going there, (other than to learn a little more about how our minds work)?

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 08:45 PM
Well, since science wants to create models of how things work and not what reality is, then MIR is not relevant to science.
But is not that statement saying that the answer to the OP question is "false/no"?

gzhpcu
2014-Jan-13, 08:59 PM
Yes it is....

SkepticJ
2014-Jan-13, 09:29 PM
Occam's razor is quite useful. Idealism might be true, but it makes so many assumptions that aren't required. Materialism is lean.

Without getting into deep Gordian Knot territory, simply answer me these two questions without making tons of outlandish assumptions:

1. If only minds exist, why do individual minds, by and large, agree on the gross properties of reality? We see, feel, etc. the same things. The "physical world" in different peoples' dreams isn't the same; it's not even the same from dream to dream in the same person. If reality is just the imagination of non-corporeal minds, how do we agree on anything?

2. If only minds exist, why is there unpleasantness? Why would someone who hates being in pain imagine themselves to be in pain?

SkepticJ
2014-Jan-13, 09:35 PM
Actually, make that three:

3. If only minds exist, have minds always existed?

The physical evidence says no: minds haven't always existed. The physical evidence wouldn't be physical if idealism is true. So if idealism is true, we're . . . lying to ourselves?

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 09:57 PM
Occam's razor is quite useful. Idealism might be true, but it makes so many assumptions that aren't required. Materialism is lean.
If by "materialism" you mean the "assertion that there exists a mind independent reality," then science doesn't need that assumption, so it is "leaner" not to assume it at all. One need not assume idealism either, a "no/false" vote as framed above is not a vote for idealism.

1. If only minds exist, why do individual minds, by and large, agree on the gross properties of reality?No one is saying "only minds exist," and nothing in the OP poll asks you to make that determination. Instead, what we are saying is that "existence" is a word, and your mind gives that word meaning, so what you mean by it depends on your mind, ergo existence depends on your mind, or else you don't mean anything by that word.


We see, feel, etc. the same things. The "physical world" in different peoples' dreams isn't the same; it's not even the same from dream to dream in the same person. If reality is just the imagination of non-corporeal minds, how do we agree on anything?No one is saying reality is "just imagination", our minds know what we are imagining and what we are not, that's all part of how our reality depends on our minds, it's how a working mind says what reality is. But since our minds are demonstrably similar, why shouldn't we agree on a similar basis for reality? All we know is we have shared experiences, that is evidence for something "outside" our minds but not "independent of" our minds. If two people agree that a work of art is beautiful, is that beauty outside their mind? Is it independent of their mind? The point is, everything you just listed is all part of how your mind makes sense of your reality. Your mind says what is a dream and what isn't, does it not?


2. If only minds exist, why is there unpleasantness? Why would someone who hates being in pain imagine themselves to be in pain?
That also came up above. It seems that the phrase mind "dependence" creates a lot of confusion, a different word might have been better. But "dependence" does not mean "exerts arbitrary and total control over." Children "depend on" their parents, that doesn't mean parents can "will into being" any behavior they want from their kids (you parents know what I mean)!

Ken G
2014-Jan-13, 10:13 PM
3. If only minds exist, have minds always existed?That also came up above, your mind finds value in structuring the information it has gathered in terms of "events that occurred before there were any minds" and later events. So does mine, it's a really useful mental construct, all very mind dependent. There's a whole sequence of time that our minds have put into our concept of reality, with many parts of the story occurring before there were any minds. Not only is that not an example of a reality that is independent of our minds, it is an excellent example of how our minds leave their mark on everything we call "reality." I'm sure a rock has no need for a concept of time, or a sequence of events, that is only something that minds need.


The physical evidence says no: minds haven't always existed. The physical evidence wouldn't be physical if idealism is true. So if idealism is true, we're . . . lying to ourselves?Well, it's now clear that we're really not talking about idealism, but just for the record, idealists have no difficulty doing science, and no difficulty identifying physical evidence. They just don't think it is something that exists outside the mind, or more correctly, they think "outside the mind" is a mental construct only. I would answer to idealists that if "outside the mind" is a construct, then so is "inside the mind", so even if we recognize that everything we can talk about depends on our minds, that still does not mean there is nothing outside our minds. It really doesn't say anything at all about what is or is not outside our minds, and a key theme of this thread is that any answer to that question is a matter of pure faith, or for some who associate faith with religiion, call it pure preference/will/intuition. There is no argument for it, nor has any unequivocal evidence been raised in favor of the proposition. And above all, it is not a scientific hypothesis, because no one has yet suggested an experiment that comes out A if there is a mind independent reality, and not A if there isn't, because to make sense of experimental results the very first thing we always have to do is think about them, which means, fit them into our mind-dependent reality.

KlausH
2014-Jan-13, 10:25 PM
1. If only minds exist, why do individual minds, by and large, agree on the gross properties of reality? We see, feel, etc. the same things. The "physical world" in different peoples' dreams isn't the same; it's not even the same from dream to dream in the same person. If reality is just the imagination of non-corporeal minds, how do we agree on anything?

2. If only minds exist, why is there unpleasantness? Why would someone who hates being in pain imagine themselves to be in pain?

Very good questions.

My answer:

I believe one needs to distinguish between consciousness and mind(s).

Minds are stupid things. They think poorly, observe poorly and they can think (and feel) themselves into madness.

Consciousness on the other hand is simply aware. It is never ever affected by anything that goes on in the mind. You could approximate (but not equate) it with an ever present neutral observer. It is simply aware and it never changes. The consciousness "you" "had" when you were a child is the same "you" "now" "have". I'd think your mind has changed. It accumulates experiences and it's outlook changes based on those.
(I put all those quotation marks because those are all concepts of mind, not of consciousness, which does not have any concepts whatsoever. It is always and only (self-)aware).

I further believe there is only consciousness. In that context your questions 1 and 3 disappear.


Occam's razor is quite useful. Idealism might be true, but it makes so many assumptions that aren't required. Materialism is lean.

I beg to differ. Materialism has no explanation for consciousness or self-awareness, except a vague assumption that complex systems (like the human brain) somehow become self-aware at some point.
Name one material process that could lead to self-awareness. Material processes basically come down to interactions of some entities (particles and/or waves - we don't have any real concept of what they are, except abstract mathematical models) and the 4 known forces.
I am not aware of any interaction of any of those "components" that could - even in principle - lead to those components somehow be or become aware of themselves.
Are you?

profloater
2014-Jan-13, 10:34 PM
not so, it is easy to chart a logical sequence for a mind to become self aware. It starts with a model of the world based on senses and first becomes aware of otherness. Models of others start to run, it's called theory of mind, then the model includes self. It is evolvinf consciousness.

To try to separate consciousness from mind is similar to the body soul (mind) ancient dilemma. The mind and consciousness are in the brain ans learn from others to become more sophisticated. I think you see the brain like a receiver, its an interesting idea, another belief system.

KlausH
2014-Jan-13, 10:47 PM
not so, it is easy to chart a logical sequence for a mind to become self aware.

Then, please and by all means, do so.
It is fairly easy to conceive automatons that respond to sensory input in some fashion, maybe even intelligently.

But that is not even remotely the same as being aware of oneself. Being aware of ones own existence. That's a whole different ballgame!
I have developed software for fairly complex systems and at no time have I ever seen any of them exhibit an awareness of their own existence.

Most people even believe that most animals are not aware of themselves (I don't share that believe) and take that as justification to eat them or perform horrible "experiments" on them.

Len Moran
2014-Jan-13, 11:34 PM
I have developed software for fairly complex systems and at no time have I ever seen any of them exhibit an awareness of their own existence.


Just for my interest and nothing more, how would you set about finding out if your software running on a complex system had a self awareness of its own existence?

Len Moran
2014-Jan-13, 11:40 PM
The curious thing about it, is that the prerequisite for experiencing it, seems to be a deep association with 'empty and meaningless', (ie: this is a deliberate MDR strategy for achieving the state in the first place). To deliberately attempt to adopt this perspective, would also represent a deliberate attempt to position a mind squarely in some type of MIR (which I find particularly curious). If the strategy invokes 'empty and meaningless', then that would also suggest that gzhpcu's flavour of MIR, would also be 'empty and meaningless' … which seems to make the whole purpose of pursuing the idea of MIR, (in order to gain knowledge or understanding), a self-defeating exercise(?)

If an MIR 'exists' and it is accessed by this particular state of mind, then there would be no potential for furthering knowledge by going there, (other than to learn a little more about how our minds work)?

Within the conventional usage of objectivist realism or representative realism (for example) the objects as we see as images in the brain are very similar to the objects as they exist as things-in-themselves, save for imperfections within the senses. So essentially the belief invokes the phenomena as being a good representation of the object as it exists-in-itself. This kind of MIR takes as a starting point the premise that there are objects as things-in-themselves and observation of these objects as phenomena is a secondary and unimportant stage. So to explore MIR simply means to assert the primacy of objects as things-in-themselves and then see the exploration of MIR as really examining the nature of the senses in terms of any distortion of the image. Such knowledge allows a correspondence to be invoked between the image in the brain and the actual object. In terms of the above, gzhpcu would invoke representative realism. In this scenario the mind is simply seen as a passive onlooker giving a sense of self awareness and has no influence on the nature of the correspondence.

When I invoke MIR (in a very loose sense of the term) I take as my starting point a premise of MDR, in other words, there are no objects as things-in-themselves. Clearly from this premise the scope for describing my MIR is somewhat limited!

Both of course are belief systems, but they start from different places so the notion of a MIR takes up quite different ramifications depending on the starting premise.

So gzhpcu would not accept such a restrictive access to MIR and the subsequent absence of knowledge as being applicable to his belief of MIR, whereas I would in terms of my belief of MIR.

KlausH
2014-Jan-14, 12:22 AM
Just for my interest and nothing more, how would you set about finding out if your software running on a complex system had a self awareness of its own existence?

That is of course a fair question.

There is no fail-safe way to accomplish this.
At the end of the day (and assuming the existence of other people), we can't even be absolutely sure that our spouse is self-aware.
I only know with 100% certainty that "I" am self-aware.

It is the same sense that tells me that my spouse is self-aware or that some of the pets I had were self-aware.
It is flawed and far from being a scientific test but workable enough for the purpose of this discussion (as you know there isn't even a scientific test to determine whether or not there is an MIR).

To reformulate:
I have never seen any behavior or activity in any assembled complex system that even remotely triggered my sense that I am dealing with a self-aware entity.

Ken G
2014-Jan-14, 12:37 AM
I sometimes wonder if Kasparov ever got that sense when he played Deep Blue. Did he feel like the programming he was up against had at some point developed a kind of conscious ability to thwart his plans, or was it all just search algorithms? What is the difference? On another thread, we investigated Heinlein's statement that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The analog here might be, "any sufficiently advanced algorithm is indistinguishable from consciousness." But there is one key difference-- we do have one example of consciousness that we experience, so even if we cannot tell if others have that feeling, we can tell that we do. If we neurologically connect that sensation with material algorithms, shall we say that the algorithms create the consciousness, like we say that mass creates gravity? Yet do we really know that mass creates gravity, and not that the rules of gravity rule the way mass behaves?

Hence I share KlausH's feeling that we do not know consciousness is something our minds create, and I have suggested that perhaps our minds are more like telescopes and consciousness like what the telescope is pointed at. We don't think the planets are being made in the lenses of our telescopes, because we can see them with our naked eyes as well. But we have only one instrument with which to interact with our own consciousness, and that appears to be our own brains, so we naturally tend to think our brains are creating it. In science, when two ideas cannot be distinguished, it is natural to claim there is no difference. So in that spirit, I would claim that there is no difference between asserting that brains create consciousness, or that brains detect consciousness, or that brains draw on consciousness like dipping a cup in a river of water. Those are all just pictures, not even hypotheses because none of them give us anything to test that I can see. If I'm right about that, then the scientist should conclude that the question is not which of those pictures is right, but what is the uber-picture that does not bother to even distinguish them.

KlausH
2014-Jan-14, 01:11 AM
I like the telescope analogy.

Another one that I particularly like is that of our brains being some kind of receiver for consciousness.
Imagine taking a radio receiver to a tribe deep in the Amazons that has never had contact with other human civilizations. If you show them a playing radio receiver they would (quite naturally) assume there must be little people hidden in it somewhere that make the music.

Our daily thinking is laden with all kinds of (usually unquestioned) assumptions and it is only natural that people think that the brain is the cause of consciousness. After all, making (usually unintended and unwanted) modifications to the brain has an influence on our perceptions and feelings, etc.

But the same is true for a radio receiver. Just taking out one transistor can completely garble the reception... That still doesn't mean the music is actually caused by the receiver.