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Thread: Philosophical musings of science, reality, blind men and elephants

  1. #1261
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I have no idea what "existence" means, except by my thoughts about existence.
    You are way overthinking things. You may need the word to communicate about the experience but you don't need the word to experience your own existence. It is inherently obvious - no thinking mind required at all. You are basically saying I cannot exist without thinking about it. And that is obviously false.

    I proposed a very simple experiment that anybody can conduct.
    From your response it is clear that you did not perform the experiment but jumped to conclusion instead.

  2. #1262
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    You are way overthinking things. You may need the word to communicate about the experience but you don't need the word to experience your own existence.
    Actually, I maintain I am doing the minimum thinking necessary to give any of these words meaning. Without some concept of the mind, which comes from thought, all these words are gibberish. It is only in my own MDR that I can say I am experiencing my existence, all evidence I can cite to support that claim is exactly how an MDR is built, and it involves thought, my ability to model and compare and categorize. You are making sense of what I am doing by saying that I am experiencing my existence, and the only reason you can do that is because that's what you are doing for yourself, and placing me in your shoes. That's the whole point of MDR, to make sense, to use words, to invoke concepts.

    Look what I said earlier about a rock-- a "rock" is not two things, it is three things. It is a symbol, and none of us care about that. It is also that which the symbol stands for, the concept of a rock, our word, our concept, our MDR. That's what everyone means when they talk about rocks, that's what any dictionary will say about a rock. Then the third thing is whatever is there that the words don't convey, whatever we can know nothing about, and say nothing about, because to know anything about it or say anything about it is to mistake that third thing for our concept of a rock.

    Now what the MIR believers want to do, which is what you are doing in regard to your own existence, is associate that third thing with MIR. That's fine, they can believe in that association if they choose, but they want to claim they can argue that's what that third thing is without referencing any thoughts, just as you are arguing that existence is something you can know about yourself without thought. That is of course an internally inconsistent argument, because as soon as they present a case that the "third thing" a rock is is MIR, they have just hauled it into their MDR, by making that case. They have made sense of it-- that's their mind leaving its imprint on it, turning it into a concept! The concept of MIR is just more MDR if any argument exists that it makes sense.

    The same holds for your concept of your own existence. That's how you make sense of your experience, you say "I experience, so I exist." Look at all those words, look at all that reasoning, look at all those concepts being strung together and connected-- your mind is building an MDR. That's what thought does, it connects and categorizes and builds concepts and makes sense. The instant you make a case that to think is to exist, as Descartes did, then the existence is in your thinking, not in something that does not require thought. Descartes did not say "I had a thought before, so I exist now," he said, in effect, that my ability to think is what gives me existence.
    It is inherently obvious - no thinking mind required at all.
    Nothing is inherently obvious if "inherently" means you don't need to think to conclude that it is obvious! And I can prove that this example is not inherently obvious-- if by "it" you mean that you can experience your existence without thinking. I claim that not only is it not obvious, it is not even true. How could I claim it is not true if it were inherently obvious? You must hold that I made a mistake. If I can make a mistake, then it's not obvious! Your contention is disproved. If you present any argument now, to support your contention, then you give up the claim, because your claim is that it does not require thought, and now you will support that claim with thought!
    You are basically saying I cannot exist without thinking about it.
    That's the kind of argument the MIR people make about rocks! But you are mischaracterizing what I'm saying. I am not saying that existence is something absolute, and I cannot do it without thinking about it. If existence was something absolute, something mind-independent, then I would immediately be wrong to say I can't do it without thinking about it. But existence is not something absolute, we cannot just assume that word has a meaning in some language that we do not know, it is our word, our language. We say what that word means, using our thoughts. Until we do that, it is gibberish, just some scratchings and gutteral sounds. When we apply thought, we invent the concept of existence, we characterize things into what exists and what does not, we compare and contrast, build templates, recall experiences--- we think. And only by that process does "existence" mean anything at all. It is our word, so no, we cannot do it without thinking, because it isn't anything to do without thinking what it is.

    You are saying that we can think about what existence is, figure it out with our minds, and then notice that we can do it without thinking. But we already did the thinking when we figured out what existence is, so we cannot do it without thinking, we can just do it without thinking at the time. But that's obvious, we would all say we exist when we sleep, even though we are not thinking at the time. That's what the MIR camp couldn't get, that we were not claiming we should disappear in a poof of smoke whenever we fall asleep, just because existence is part of MDR. The same holds for knowledge of our own existence, or knowledge of other people's existence, it's all the MDR we build, no difference between them. This is the error that is made in the usual way solipsism is described-- they say that we can only know of the existence of our own minds, not of others' minds, but in fact we know of the existence of our own minds in precisely the same way that we know of the existence of other peoples' minds: we think, we categorize, compare and contrast, make sense. It's all the same, it's how we arrive at the concept of existence. Our own existence is just as much a part of our MDR as are rocks, laws of physics, and other minds. Just define "my existence" any way you want, and I will show you the construction of an MDR.
    I proposed a very simple experiment that anybody can conduct.
    From your response it is clear that you did not perform the experiment but jumped to conclusion instead.
    No, I did perform the experiment, and it proved just what I'm saying. Whatever you experience when you are not thinking about anything in particular is just that, whatever you experience. The instant you label that as existing, you have thought. That's because to label something, you must compare, categorize, analyze, and make sense.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-Apr-16 at 04:12 AM.

  3. #1263
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    You are saying that we can think about what existence is, figure it out with our minds, and then notice that we can do it without thinking.
    I was saying no such thing. Not even close.
    There is nothing to figure out. Your own existence is immediately obvious to you (and only you). What is there to figure out?
    You only need the mind to choose (or invent) a concept to communicate about it, not to experience it.

    No, I did perform the experiment, and it proved just what I'm saying. Whatever you experience when you are not thinking about anything in particular is just that, whatever you experience. The instant you label that as existing, you have thought. That's because to label something, you must compare, categorize, analyze, and make sense.
    But when do I need to label it? Only if I want to communicate about it. Not during the experience itself.

    As you said you did experience something while you were not thinking. You were aware of your own being. You only need words to communicate about this. You simply do not need words to experience it. You don't need a thinking mind to experience anything.

    In fact, the very fact that you experienced anything at all is what I am talking about. You need to exist in order to experience.

    You can complicate this endlessly by taking every single word apart. Words are only ever pointers. They are never the thing they are pointing to.
    It is what my words are pointing to that matters.

    And that is really all I have to say about this.
    You may choose to continue to complicate this and create problems where there are none but I am not interested in such mind games.

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    I don’t think it to be mind games, but linguistics, awareness and consciousness is surely a very deep subject area and perhaps deserves another thread. A while back Klauss was I am sure itching to get into this area regarding awareness and consciousness as being something absolute and not requiring thought. I think the experiences of those who can truly meditate would be of interest in this regard – as I understand meditation, the skill is removing thought entirely from the mind but still be “aware”. But I believe such a state can take years to develop.

    What concerns me far more however is the possibility outlined by NoChoice that seems to place knowledge as being belief in that he claims that his concept of knowledge is different to mine, neither is wrong and neither is right. If there is substance to that argument then it undermines everything that this thread stands for and worse- it succumbs to the accusation made by more than a few here that we are discussing a topic with no means in which to arrive at some kind of conclusion that is true for all.

    I still think that we have arrived at such a conclusion because it seems to me that objective knowledge goes hand in hand with MDR and thus is true for everybody. There has never been any intention by myself or others supporting MDR to claim that absolute knowledge is possible via MDR, in fact absolute knowledge is the core of what we are disputing here in the sense that absolute knowledge cannot be obtained because we cannot step outside of our minds.

    But NoChoice is not arguing either that absolute knowledge can be obtained, but he seems to be maintaining that knowledge gained via MDR cannot be termed as objective knowledge because I might be the only mind that really exists. But even if this is the case (and it bothers me not one iota whether it is or not, as far as I am concerned the only reality I can have is the one I live with on a day to day basis that involves other minds and it involves external objects – that is my reality and it is as real as anything can get) that doesn’t change anything. It just means I believe in solipsism whilst still getting up in the morning and starting the day utilising all of those attributes within our reality that work for me in the same way they work for others, even if their minds are a part of my mind.

    So this is the question that I would prefer to be addressed – is there a basis for claiming that knowledge gained within our reality (MDR) that is the same for everybody is not objective knowledge when referenced to the only reality we can know, i.e. MDR? (Remember I don’t claim it to be absolute knowledge, but I do claim it to be objective knowledge because every single sane person will agree with that knowledge). I don’t think (though I’m not entirely sure on this, but I hope not) that we need enter the very complex field of linguistics, awareness and consciousness in order to address this question (interesting though such a discussion might be in its own right).

    If there can be no such claim then it surely is the case that a default position of MDR gives us a default definition of objective reality which in turn takes science beyond operationalism and gives us insight into objective truths of human experience within MDR. It is this aspect of science and MDR that I think NoChoice is missing - I don't know of course, but I sense he has dissapointment at what he has discovered through science, perhaps if he saw his achievements as genuinly giving us objective truths of human experience within MDR, that search he has embarked on could be reframed.
    Last edited by Len Moran; 2014-Apr-16 at 09:22 AM.

  5. #1265
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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Moran View Post
    I don’t think it to be mind games, but linguistics, awareness and consciousness is surely a very deep subject area and perhaps deserves another thread.
    The topic itself I don't consider mind games at all. On the contrary, as far as I am concerned it is one of the most fascinating topics.
    I only object to over-analyzing things, assuming anything can be discussed and understood on a mind level.
    Not everything can.

    A while back Klauss was I am sure itching to get into this area regarding awareness and consciousness as being something absolute and not requiring thought. I think the experiences of those who can truly meditate would be of interest in this regard – as I understand meditation, the skill is removing thought entirely from the mind but still be “aware”. But I believe such a state can take years to develop.
    I have meditated for more than 10 years and still am.
    The problem, however, is that many of the things one discovers during meditation cannot really be discussed. At least not with people who don't have experience with it themselves.

    It is like trying to describe the state of being in love with someone to another who has never experienced it.
    I don't think any amount of words can convey it to someone who has never experienced it.

    To someone who has experienced it, however, words can operate as pointers. Pointers that point in a direction that can be "understood" by someone who knows what it is like to be in love.

    And so it is with meditation. The experiences will be very subjective and there will be differences (just like with being in love) but there will likely be a common ground that can be pointed at (but never truly captured) with words.

    But alas, it does indeed take years of practice, not something people are usually willing to submit themselves to just to be part of an experiment. And that's where it usually ends and that is the reason why I don't bring it up.


    But NoChoice is not arguing either that absolute knowledge can be obtained, but he seems to be maintaining that knowledge gained via MDR cannot be termed as objective knowledge because I might be the only mind that really exists. But even if this is the case (and it bothers me not one iota whether it is or not, as far as I am concerned the only reality I can have is the one I live with on a day to day basis that involves other minds and it involves external objects – that is my reality and it is as real as anything can get) that doesn’t change anything. It just means I believe in solipsism whilst still getting up in the morning and starting the day utilising all of those attributes within our reality that work for me in the same way they work for others, even if their minds are a part of my mind.

    So this is the question that I would prefer to be addressed – is there a basis for claiming that knowledge gained within our reality (MDR) that is the same for everybody is not objective knowledge when referenced to the only reality we can know, i.e. MDR? (Remember I don’t claim it to be absolute knowledge, but I do claim it to be objective knowledge because every single sane person will agree with that knowledge).
    The distinction between MDR and MIR still holds. I am glad to even see such a discussion on a science board. I think it should be required teaching at every university. If one wants to acquire knowledge (scientific or otherwise) it seems a smart thing to do to study at least some epistemology in order to have an overview of what smart people in the course of history have had to say about the limits of knowledge.
    That the mind is an interface between us and a potential world outside of it seems evident and not really up for debate.

    As far as the question of objective knowledge is concerned:
    Objective knowledge derived from intersubjective agreement can only be used as an axiom.
    Science needs that axiom and as far as axioms go it seems a very sensible one and I do not object to it at all.

    I only object to declare it as anything other than a belief.
    Other minds are not knowable. It is impossible to deduct from any experience, perception or reasoning that there must be others beside my own mind.

    I fully agree with Karl Popper as profloater quoted him:
    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Secondly the paradox of "How do we know we are not dreaming, or part of another's dream?" and it was to that, that he said, You cannot know that but it is fruitless so he chose to make a starting assumption that everything is as it appears to be, but he made clear that it was a premise from which to build the scientific method.
    It seems a rather trivial insight and Karl Popper was certainly not the only one to arrive at that conclusion. I was assuming it was commonly accepted and just as beyond debate as MDR-MIR is.

    And that is exactly the basis for my argument that other minds cannot be known to exist. They can only be believed to exist, they can only be postulated in form of an axiom.
    Dreams can be very convincing after all.

  6. #1266
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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Moran View Post
    I don’t think it to be mind games, but linguistics, awareness and consciousness is surely a very deep subject area and perhaps deserves another thread. A while back Klauss was I am sure itching to get into this area regarding awareness and consciousness as being something absolute and not requiring thought. I think the experiences of those who can truly meditate would be of interest in this regard – as I understand meditation, the skill is removing thought entirely from the mind but still be “aware”. But I believe such a state can take years to develop.
    I believe you were talking about me.
    Yes, I was trying to bring it up the topic of consciousness but gave up quickly.

    I agree with what NoChoice says about meditation. I have some experience with it (about 20 years) and it is indeed virtually impossible to talk about it with people who have no experience with meditation.
    Imagine having to describe what it is like to see colors to a person who was born blind.
    I have never tried it but I would imagine that it is impossible. However, a person with normal sight will know what I mean with the words I may use because they have their own experience as a reference. The experience may actually differ (what I see as green may not be exactly the same the other person sees) but there is enough "common ground" to use words as "pointers".

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    I was saying no such thing. Not even close.
    Actually, that is what you are saying, because that's what the words you are using mean. Apparently, you don't realize it!
    There is nothing to figure out.
    Sure there is! Look at what you just said: "nothing" and "figure." You are making a case, your mind is assembling thoughts and meanings, like the meaning of nothing and figure. The point you are making is gibberish until you think about it-- you are analyzing, and figuring out that there is nothing to figure out. That's what there is to figure out, and it's not nothing!
    Your own existence is immediately obvious to you (and only you). What is there to figure out?
    I told you, you have to figure out what the heck the words you just used even mean! As I'm saying, your argument is precisely the same as the argument for MIR that others presented. A rock is a rock, your thoughts don't enter into it. Existing is existing, thought doesn't enter into it-- same argument. But thoughts do enter for both of those, and in exactly the same place-- in the place where you say what those words even mean. Until you do that, they don't mean anything, you are not saying anything until you think about what you are saying. The instant you present your case that thought doesn't enter, the instant you combine "existence" and "obvious", you have thought, and that combination is sterile empty gibberish without that thought that underpins it.
    You only need the mind to choose (or invent) a concept to communicate about it, not to experience it.
    Says your mind!
    But when do I need to label it? Only if I want to communicate about it. Not during the experience itself.
    Says your mind! A rock does not agree with you, indeed it has no idea what you are talking about. Whenever you experience anything, you need your mind twice-- you need your mind to experience it, as you know, but you also need your mind to say that the experience makes you exist, because you first need the concepts of "experience" and "exist" to connect those two concepts. "I think therefore I am" means you have to think to exist because your thoughts say you exist. Your thoughts say a rock exists, it has no existence without your thoughts. The same for your experience, that is something that only exists because you say it does. This is clear, you are the one who is saying what experience is, you are the one who is saying what existence is.
    As you said you did experience something while you were not thinking. You were aware of your own being.
    Says my mind. I say that I experienced that, because I can think about what I was doing, and I can think about what experience is, and my thinking can connect those two concepts well enough to make that statement. That's where I need to think to know that I am experiencing anything. That's the point here, we are not talking about experiencing, we are talking about knowing that I experience, a la solipsism.
    You only need words to communicate about this. You simply do not need words to experience it. You don't need a thinking mind to experience anything.
    I need a thinking mind to know I am experiencing, because I need a thinking mind to say what that means.
    In fact, the very fact that you experienced anything at all is what I am talking about. You need to exist in order to experience.
    No, we have never been talking about the fact that I experienced something, we have been talking about the fact that you can state that I experienced something. We are talking about what I can know and how I know it, just look back at our conversation.
    You can complicate this endlessly by taking every single word apart.
    I heard that same objection many times from the MIR camp. The problem is, if we don't know what our own words mean, then they don't mean anything, they are just combinations of sounds that seem to connect with each other, but when dub into, fall apart. That is the key challenge of philosophy, to be able to dig into something and see where it falls apart, so as to rebuild it where it holds up.
    Words are only ever pointers. They are never the thing they are pointing to.
    You are not talking about words-as-symbols, no one cares about the symbols. We are talking about what the words mean, or they don't mean anything, we have lost control of them.
    It is what my words are pointing to that matters.
    I know, that's what I'm talking about. What you have to ask yourself is, what determines what your words are pointing to? The same process that creates and interprets words-- your thoughts.
    You may choose to continue to complicate this and create problems where there are none but I am not interested in such mind games.
    Yes, I heard that objection a lot, from the MIR folks. It's what people say when they just want to believe something.

  8. #1268
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    As far as the question of objective knowledge is concerned:
    Objective knowledge derived from intersubjective agreement can only be used as an axiom.
    Science needs that axiom and as far as axioms go it seems a very sensible one and I do not object to it at all.

    I only object to declare it as anything other than a belief.
    Other minds are not knowable. It is impossible to deduct from any experience, perception or reasoning that there must be others beside my own mind.

    I fully agree with Karl Popper as profloater quoted him
    I would certainly agree with that.
    How can we possibly know the existence of other minds with any certainty?
    We can not.

    Dreams can be very convincing and equipped with an amazing level of internal consistency and can only be realized as dream upon waking up from them.

    Objectivity as agreement between minds can only ever be an axiom, not a certainty.

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    This is also worth comment, the Popper quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by profloater
    You cannot know that but it is fruitless so he chose to make a starting assumption that everything is as it appears to be, but he made clear that it was a premise from which to build the scientific method.
    I am saying that Popper is saying more than that, or he is missing something important here, I don't know which. If he implies the above is a "premise" or an "assumption", it is neither-- it is a scientific hypothesis, which is something quite different. An assumption is something you make because you have to start somewhere, but you never test the usefulness of an assumption, it's just something that if it isn't true, then all that follows is false. But science isn't a process of logic, it is a process of testing. So we all, at quite a young age actually, come to the idea that there is a difference between "dreaming" and "real life." Noticing that difference is what allows us to have those words in the first place. And as soon as we notice that difference, we begin to test it, over and over. We test it so many times we eventually begin to forget that we are testing it, we just accept it as true. But something that we test so many times that we accept it as true is not an assumption, it is a scientific hypothesis that has tested out so well that we regard it as a core theory, even more solid than any law of physics. In short, we build it into our MDR, not because we have assumed it is true-- we never assume the MDR is true, we just test it. And we should know that it probably isn't true in any absolute sense, there is probably not even one single attribute of our MDR that is really true in some absolute sense-- "true", for an MDR, only means one thing: what tests out well, including logic itself.

    Also, on the matter of meditation: if any contend that I can enter a state of awareness without thinking at the time, that's fine, that's never been what we are talking about. We are talking about how I can know that I am aware when I enter that state, or how you can make the claim that you are aware when you enter that state, or even how you can make the claim that you enter any state like that at all. It is not the truth this thread is about, it is the knowing of truth, it is what we mean by "know" and what we mean by "truth", our words, our responsibility to convey meaning. That is what requires thought. Whether you can meditate or not isn't the issue, it is whether you can say that you meditate, that is the issue.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-Apr-16 at 12:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I need a thinking mind to know I am experiencing, because I need a thinking mind to say what that means.
    Seriously?
    Do you really believe that?

    What you say in this quote is so obviously false from my point of view that I don't even know where to begin.

    I don't think we can settle this with any amounts of words.
    I would suggest you try to regularly quiet your mind and simply be aware of whatever arises. Don't think about it, don't judge it, just let it be. Even if thoughts arise (and believe me: they will) just let them arise and subside.
    Do this every day (for maybe 20 or 30 min at a time) for a few weeks (or better months) and then let's talk again.

    You might just see the world and especially your mind with different eyes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausH View Post
    You might just see the world and especially your mind with different eyes.
    And then he might have to think about it to say what that means.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    And then he might have to think about it to say what that means.
    Yes, of course. To say what he means he needs to use words and therefore the thinking mind.

    To actually experience it, however, the thinking mind is not needed. In fact, in this case it is just in the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausH View Post
    Yes, of course. To say what he means he needs to use words and therefore the thinking mind.
    And yet you strenuously disagreed with that.

    To actually experience it, however, the thinking mind is not needed. In fact, in this case it is just in the way.
    But to know you experience it ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    And yet you strenuously disagreed with that.
    No, I didn't.
    What I disagree with is to state that to actually experience I need to have concepts about the experience in the thinking mind.

    But to know you experience it ...
    Please explain the difference between knowing an experience and experiencing it.
    The knower (in the sense of being aware of it) and the experiencer are the same, hence there is no difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    the "objective reality" that science uses is MDR. I've proved it, demonstrated it, given examples of it, and yet you still insist on requiring without evidence that any concept of objective reality must be MIR!
    But the testable reality of scientific evidence is nested within an untestable reality deduced by logic. MDR explains what we know. But logically, what we know is a tiny subset of the universe, most of which is unknown. If we say that only what we know is real, which seems to be a consequence of MDR, how do we accommodate philosophically the recognition that most of reality is unknown to us?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Plato obviously had a belief that the realm of perfect forms was independent of his mind, but it is clear he never had any evidence of that, and certainly he never cited any evidence that did not involve using his mind. His mind gave him a belief, and he followed the ramifications of that belief, that's how MDRs are made. Thus his MDR invoked an MIR, but no scientific pursuit ever needs that belief to get to the goal that is the MDR.
    Popper’s objection to Plato seemed to be that Plato thought his idea of the good was epistemically more valid than scientific knowledge. So this allowed Plato to regard his conceptual opinions as absolutes, rather than as personal values that can legitimately be rejected by other people. For Popper, Plato’s method is closed, whereas science enables an open society by virtue of its methodical denial of any certainty and constant reference to falsifiability through testing.

    I think it is true that no scientific pursuit needs belief in independent reality, simply because science builds upon our existing knowledge, pursuing new knowledge against the framework of what we already know. But is scientific method sufficient for a philosophy of reality? I don’t think it is, because the level of uncertainty in life forces us to construct beliefs, including beliefs that an actual objective reality exists independently of our minds in ways we just don’t know. If we accept that there are things we don’t know that must be real, we can hardly say these unknowns are dependent on our minds, since our minds have no way to test anything completely outside our knowledge, except when a test is trying to bring a defined unknown within the parameters of knowledge.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    MDR is the way our minds make sense of our situation.
    That is precisely the philosophical problem in the arrogation of the concept of reality within scientific knowledge. Our ‘making sense’ is inadequate to define a theory of reality. Sometimes we cannot make sense of our situation. Our knowledge is inadequate to cope with what fate unexpectedly brings before us. But we don’t say, for example in war or catastrophe, that because something makes no sense to us that it is not real. Surprises are entirely outside of how our minds make sense of our situation. The expectation that we will encounter surprises recognises that these will emerge from unknown factors within a deeper reality than our current explicit framework of ‘making sense’.

    Belief applies where knowledge is untestable. Ordinary life, as distinct from scientific knowledge, routinely requires belief and faith all the time. People that we deal with are unpredictable, doing unexpected things that force us to revise how we make sense of our situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    there is no need to believe in MIR to be able to test out what is true
    Agreed, but that formulation only covers the testable, and has nothing to say about the untestable. It is fine for science to confine knowledge to what is testable, but for philosophy the true goes well beyond the testable. The problem is that untestable truth cannot be explained, since we have no way of knowing it a claim is true if it is untestable. But the fact that we don’t know through science if a statement is true, eg that the universe really exists independently of our minds, does not mean that the philosophical belief in such a statement can simply be rejected.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    You have a point there about not saying change is impossible, I must admit that is a strikingly lucid version of the modern view of "spacetime." As I mentioned, Parmenides also had a strikingly lucid view of what we would now call "unitary evolution" in quantum mechanics (and indeed his "continuous one" is quite close to the meaning of "unitarity" in quantum theory). I've always felt that Parmenides' ideas were rather amazing, especially considering how long ago he had them.
    I’m glad you agree that the common myth that Parmenides denied change is false. It illustrates that his philosophy is deeper and more coherent regarding time and unitarity than the misconceptions about his ideas would suggest.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    But all it means is, Parmenides had a thought-provoking and remarkably insightful version of MDR! There is nothing that Parmenides is saying that is independent of the mind, that should be quite clear from the fact that the entire poem is an invention of his own mind. If what he is saying tests out, then we say he constructed a useful MDR there. If it does not test out, we say his MDR requires modifications. That's science, in a nutshell.
    Except your comment here ignores the gist of Parmenides’ argument, which is that a logical and untestable way of truth encompasses the testable mind-dependent way of seeming. What Parmenides says cannot ‘test out’ because he is constructing logical axioms that are prior to any possible testing. This illustrates how our framework of testable knowledge must logically exist within a framework of untestable belief about reality, even if that belief may be of no use in generating new knowledge.

    I am reminded here of Rudolf Carnap’s call for the elimination of metaphysics from responsible human discourse, with its implicit assertion that there is no meaning outside science, a claim at the basis of logical positivism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_positivism Against positivist assumptions, a mind independent reality of the type assumed in Platonic philosophy is intrinsically metaphysical. Asserting that reality includes things that are not dependent on our minds but are necessary preconditions for the mind dependent reality constructed by scientific method is an untestable and therefore metaphysical claim. To say that the concept of reality is metaphysical may be repugnant in some quarters, but all it means is that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausH View Post
    Please explain the difference between knowing an experience and experiencing it.
    This is a key point here. There is no difference between knowing an experience and experiencing it, but not because knowing is experiencing, it is because experiencing is inextricably connected with knowing. They are the same because what we mean whenever we use the word "experiencing" is defined by our process of knowing that we are experiencing, it is how the word acquires its meaning. Without that meaning, we cannot know what an experience even is, to be able to say we are doing it or not. This is also why there is no difference between a rock and our concept of a rock-- not because our concept hits the nail on the head of what a rock actually is, but because our concept of a rock is what we mean by a rock. Knowing all these things involves making comparisons between experiences, or memories that we will call experiences, that is how any word acquires its meaning and any concept is formed, like the concepts of what it is to "know" and what it is to "experience." You exist right now, as you read this, for one reason only: you say you do.

    The conversation has taken a new turn. We have dispensed with the idea that science needs an MIR, because it cannot test for it. We have demonstrated that any who hold that MIR exists do so purely on the basis of subjective choice, and faith. And I feel it is also important to recognize that the very words "mind independent reality" are not well formed, because it demonstrably does not reflect the meaning of the word "reality" in daily usage. Examples abound.

    Now we are turning to the issue of "how certain" can we be of various things, and if solipsism is well grounded if it is framed as "we can only know our own minds," or "the only thing we can know exists is ourselves." I would like to support the following points:
    1) differences in levels of certainty are merely differences in degree, not in kind. There are things I cannot be certain of at all (like the weather next week), things I can be quite certain of (my own name), and things that I am marginally certain of but stand to know better (like what the laws of physics say). These are all different places in a gray area, they are not black-and-white and there is absolutely nothing that I am "completely certain of," in an absolute sense, unless I simply define "completely certain" the way we do in common practice-- certain beyond some reasonable limit.
    2)All the above holds also for certainty that I myself exist. I am highly certain of that, but not in any black-and-white or absolutely true way. I still need to engage the same mental resources to assess that certainty as I would to be able to say that I am certain of my own name. I need to reflect on memories, on perspectives, on sensory data, etc., all the same things I use when I build my MDR.
    3)This is the most important point of all. Certainty is not an absolute thing that we go out and try to describe the best we can. The best we can is what "certainty" is, it is our word. Same for existence, these words don't mean anything without the mental processes we go through to attribute them meaning. Hence, they are all products of our thoughts, and to the extent that we all think similarly, we can call them part of objective reality, and to the extent that we might think differently, they are not parts of objective reality. Hence, my certainty that I exist is not an absolute truth, it is a result of a process of reasoning, by which I connect two concepts: the concept of "me" and the concept of "existing."

    Let me turn immediately to point 3, because that is the crux of the matter. If anyone says "the only thing I can be absolutely certain of is that I exist" is only telling us what they mean by the words "I" and "certain" and "exist." They are describing their theories of identity, of epistemology, and of ontology, all in that simple sentence! Without those deeper theories, I have no idea what they intend that sentence to mean, nor do they-- so the sentence doesn't mean anything without those theories! Since I can use different meanings of "I", or "certain", or "exist", such that the statement is false, this shows the sentence does not carry an absolute truth value.

    So the question is not, "is that statement true," it is, "what do you mean by those words such that the statement is true." That requires delving into your MDR, because your MDR is what gives those words their meanings. It also requires thought, because thought is what builds an MDR. That holds even when we talk about meditation, or dreaming, or death. We don't need to think to do any of those things, we need to think to say what those things are, what meaning we take in those words, and why we think that we are capable of any of them. Since these things all require thought, they are all subject to the limitatons of our minds, and the same goes for statements about our own existence.

    In summary, this thread is about the difference between what we can demonstrate as true, and what we can only choose to believe on faith. The statement "I know with absolute certainty, not like I know other things, that I exist" is only of the former type if we use the same processes of knowing, and the same processes of establishing meaning of words, as we apply everywhere else in our MDR. It is often a central pillar in the construction of an MDR, yet is subject to all the same limitations, and in the sliding scale of how certain we are of the elements of our MDR, it just happens to be at the high end. But anyone who would say that statement is an absolute truth, akin to the absolute truth of the MIR, is merely asserting a belief that cannot be demonstrated as true (not even to themselves).

    If you think you can demonstrate the truth of the statement "I know with absolute certainty, not like I know other things, that I exist", even to yourself, you must do this: come up with an experiment that you can do, just for yourself, that comes out A if the statement is true, and not A if the statement is not true. Then report your results to the rest of us so we can try-- that's a scientific demonstration of truth, the rest is either faith-based belief, or a simple tautology of how you are defining your words, but neither of those can be demonstrated as true.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-Apr-16 at 02:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausH View Post
    I believe you were talking about me.
    Yes, obviously so! Apologies for misspelling your name.
    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    As far as the question of objective knowledge is concerned:
    Objective knowledge derived from intersubjective agreement can only be used as an axiom.
    Science needs that axiom and as far as axioms go it seems a very sensible one and I do not object to it at all.

    I only object to declare it as anything other than a belief.
    So from what position/philosophical stance/”ground of things” or any other suitable word to describe a base level of reality do you say that objective knowledge, based on intersubjective agreement is an axiom? Where/what is your absolute starting point (and presumably the same starting point for everyone else) to invoke the axiom of intersubjective agreement. Do you start from your existence being the only thing you can know?

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    As a minor correction to the "axiom" concept, there is a small but perhaps not insignificant difference between an axiom and a definition. These kinds of things are more at the edges of logic, because basic logic doesn't really care about the differences between definitions, axioms, and postulates-- they are all the basic scaffolding that leads to theorems in math, and the theorems are all tautological restatements of that scaffolding that inherit its truth value. But we can look for differences anyway, and I think this is a reasonable summary, though the entire issue is actually pretty controversial (which may be surprising to those who think that mathematics does not have controversies!):

    definitions-- these are taken to be true for no other reason than that we say they are true, we have some purpose for asserting their truth but it is not that "we think they are true", it is that we make them true as a given for whatever follows. Nothing about them is inherently true, they are our inventions, they just clarify what we are talking about.

    axioms-- these are taken to be true because they do seem to be true in a very clear and fundamental way. We don't know they are true, but we tend to think if these aren't true, then nothing is.

    postulates-- these are taken to be true in a kind of exploratory sense, they will ultimately be judged by what theorems they lead to, and if they are consistent with the axioms. We have no idea if these are true or not, but we judge them by their usefulness for whatever goals we have, and we can swap them in and out pretty much willy nilly.

    Given those basic distinctions, we can say that defining "objective reality" to be the result of the "intersubjective agreement" between different minds, and for the same mind at different times, is not an axiom, it is a definition. That's what we mean by objective reality. But establishing these definitions, these ways of establishing meaning, is a very important part of the thought process that minds undergo when they build an MDR. So again, we should not ask "what is objective reality in fact", we should simply ask "what do we want to mean by objective reality, such that we can use the concept to do science, that objective piece of building an MDR."

    Now for the most important part of all: the role of testing, and the difference between true-by-logic versus true-by-experience. Once we have our definitions, axioms, and postulates, we can explore their tautological connections, to make sure they are not inconsistent, and see what else is equivalent to them by logic. None of that tells us any more than we started from, but we may not realize all these equivalences when we start out, hence the importance of logic. But it is unlikely any of these connections will change, unless we made an error in logic, and those are fairly rare (but not impossible) among professional mathematicians. Experimental testing, the realm of professional physicists, is something completely different, and it establishes truth-by-experience. This is a very provisional and incomplete form of truth, can change tomorrow, and is quite likely to change in the next thousand years. Not the results of experiments, that is unlikely to change, but rather the domains in which new experiments can be done, to see new parts of the "elephant"-- that is the part that is likely to change, our extrapolations outside of what we have already seen. But as we build an MDR in our daily lives, we all use very similar experiments, which we analyze with very similar minds, and arrive at very similar results. Hence, absolutely everything we say we know, whether it be true-by-logic or true-by-experience, comes from our ability to think and perceive, and the connections, categorizations, and simplifications we make-- the action of our minds. So there are no things that we know "inherently", they all have a place in the structure, and what separates belief in the structure, versus demonstration of the truth of the structure, is only one thing: testing the structure.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-Apr-16 at 06:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Moran View Post
    So from what position/philosophical stance/”ground of things” or any other suitable word to describe a base level of reality do you say that objective knowledge, based on intersubjective agreement is an axiom? Where/what is your absolute starting point (and presumably the same starting point for everyone else) to invoke the axiom of intersubjective agreement. Do you start from your existence being the only thing you can know?
    Yes, that is indeed my starting point. The only thing I know with absolute certainty is my own existence. What better starting point could there be?
    The existence of other minds I cannot know with any certainty. I could after all be in a very elaborate dream. I must therefore invoke them as an axiom.

    As a side note:
    I agree with Ken G's distinctions between definitions, axioms and postulates. I would still consider intersubjective agreement as an axiom, as it does not have the somewhat arbitrary characteristics of a definition. The existence of other minds seems entirely obvious at first glance but thinking a bit further we realize we cannnot assign any level of truth to it. However, it still seems true in some fundamental sense that we are not alone and can and do communicate with other minds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    The only thing I know with absolute certainty is my own existence. What better starting point could there be?
    You have not defined "I" or "existence", so that is no kind of starting point. How do you define those things? There is your starting point. Do that first, and we'll see whether you know what you believe you know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    Yes, that is indeed my starting point. The only thing I know with absolute certainty is my own existence. What better starting point could there be?
    The existence of other minds I cannot know with any certainty. I could after all be in a very elaborate dream. I must therefore invoke them as an axiom.
    So does this mean solipsism is absolutely true?

    From this absolute default starting point that you say/assert we are all governed by, am I allowed to say "I don't belive that solipsism is true, it could be true or it may not be true, I just don't think it is true"?
    Last edited by Len Moran; 2014-Apr-17 at 06:21 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Moran View Post
    So does this mean solipsism is absolutely true?
    No. We cannot know that.

    From this absolute default starting point that you say/assert we are all governed by, am I allowed to say "I don't belive that solipsism is true, it could be true or it may not be true, I just don't think it is true"?
    Yes, that is one valid way of expressing it.

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    I believe Len's point, and I agree with it, is that you are welcome to have any belief you want, and you are welcome to define "I" and "exist" any way you want. You can even, as I say you are doing, define "I" and "exist" such that those definitions require you to be able to say "I exist." But none of that is some kind of absolute truth that you can be certain of above all else, which derives from some absolute meaning of "I" and "exist", which then allow a reasoning process to conclude that "I exist" (which you claim does not even require a reasoning process to establish, it is "inherently true" without reason). There are only two valid possibilities: either you explicitly define the construct "I exist" to mean that which you are doing right now, in which case you are only telling us your definitions, not some eternal truth, or else there is some reasoning process that connects some other definitions of "I" and "exist" such that you can conclude that you do it. Either way, thought is required, in constructing definitions, and in making reasoning processes.

    On a science forum, we don't necessarily need to exchange ideas about the different ways we can define "I" and "exist" such that it is required for us to exist. Instead, our goal should be to understand the basic underpinnings of science, and what it means to know in science. That means we should bring everything back to what we can objectively demonstrate as true-- everything must be in the form "if X is true, then experiment Y should come out Z, and if X is not true, then experiment Y has no reason to come out Z, and we should expect not Z." That is the core of science.

    So now we must examine the contention that "the only thing I can be absolutely certain of is that I exist, and the existence of anything other than me is less certain." Does this stand up to the tests of science? I say it does not. That means that there is no scientific purpose in defining either "I" or "exist" in such a way that I have more certainty of my own existence than the existence of anything else. Certainty in science comes from only one thing: testing. We have certainty in the process of using logic, because it has tested out well. We have certainty in a set of laws, because they test out well. None of this "certainty" is of the absolute kind, because testing does not produce absolute truths, it produces provisional truths-- that which is true in the context of the test, or similar situations. We extrapolate the situations we have tested into situations we have not, thus forming "hypotheses," and of course, we then test those.

    What's more, our tests must be objective and reproducible. This is objectivity in science-- I am simply not allowed to describe a test that only I can do, it must be instructions for a test that anyone can do. Thus the central claim of solipsism is fundamentally unscientific, it is fundamentally undemonstrable using the scientific method. Ergo, the "knowledge" that is referred to in the core claim of solipsism, the primacy of knowledge of self, is not the way knowledge is defined in science. From the perspective of science, it is an invalid definition of that word. So you can define "I" and "exist" any way you like, but if you would use scientifically testable definitions, then you simply do not arrive at solipsism.

    If this is not yet clear, let me give a more specific example-- relativity. Many people are told that the core claim of relativity is that "everything is relative", which is intended to mean that nothing is objectively true, it is only true from some reference frame or perspective. That is a poor way to frame relativity, for expressly the reason that it does not conform to the description of science I gave above-- that kind of "relativity" would not fit into the scientific method. So what relativity actually is, and what does fit into the scientific method, is the statement that some things we took to be absolutes are actually relative, so we must base our science on other things-- the things that are not relative, the "invariants" of the theory. Relativity is the theory that identifies those invariants, those things that are established as objectively true (such as the laws of physics, or the speed of light, or the proper time along a path in spacetime). None of those concepts even exist if I attribute primacy to my own existence, in such a view as that everything that I observe is treated as the invariants, and everything that anyone else observes is treated as in doubt. That is just not the correct basis for scientific inquiry, so the "knowledge" referred to is not the knowledge of science.

    However, it should be pointed out that it is an easy fix to correct solipsism such that it does reflect scientific knowledge. All we have to do is say that all minds have the same place as our own, which is a kind of symmetry principle. Symmetry principles are found to be central to physics, so it should perhaps not surprise us that we have an "observer symmetry" that also underpins scientific knowledge. What we say is, "I exist" because that's one pillar of science (that I can be an observer, so I must exist), but we also say "you exist" because that is also a pillar of science (that you can be an observer too, so we can begin to explore what is, and what is not, an invariant). We then only say we "know" these things because the structure thus generated tests out well. All scientific knowledge is built this way, it is what "knowing" means in science (even though, ironically, it is a provisional form of knowing that also comes with the need to doubt our knowledge, but not doubt our meaning of knowledge because that is a definition, and you cannot doubt a definition, you can only doubt that there could be no more useful definition possible). So it is by the same process that you "know" you exist as that you "know" others exist: when you define "I" in a testable way, and "you" in a testable way, and "exist" in a testable way, you find that the combination "I exist" and "you exist" also test out, equally well.

    To see that this is just what you are doing, in fact, merely consider a newborn baby. Such a mind has no concept of "I" or "exist", it really has no concepts at all we should expect. Instead, it is a mass of sensory perception. You can, from your thinking perspective, assert that the mind of the baby "exists", but it cannot do that for itself. Hence, we see a case of exactly the opposite of solipsism being what tests out there-- it tests out that someone else can say the baby exists, but the baby cannot say the same for itself, because its mind has not yet developed the capacity to say that.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-Apr-17 at 01:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    To see that this is just what you are doing, in fact, merely consider a newborn baby. Such a mind has no concept of "I" or "exist", it really has no concepts at all we should expect. Instead, it is a mass of sensory perception. You can, from your thinking perspective, assert that the mind of the baby "exists", but it cannot do that for itself. Hence, we see a case of exactly the opposite of solipsism being what tests out there-- it tests out that someone else can say the baby exists, but the baby cannot say the same for itself, because its mind has not yet developed the capacity to say that.
    This is a good example to illustrate how you're running around in circles.
    The baby may have no way to say anything for itself because the thinking mind isn't sufficiently developed.
    According to your warped logic it would then follow that the baby cannot possibly be aware of its own existence. That is clearly not true as any parent will confirm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    This is a good example to illustrate how you're running around in circles.
    The baby may have no way to say anything for itself because the thinking mind isn't sufficiently developed.
    According to your warped logic it would then follow that the baby cannot possibly be aware of its own existence. That is clearly not true as any parent will confirm.
    You may call that logic "warped", but you simply do not understand it. The question was never whether the baby was aware of its existence, any more than whether a rock exists, in some absolute way-- because those statements have no meaning until we give them meaning. They are not absolute truths, written in some unknowable language that we are trying to figure out. They are statements written in English, and our minds are responsible for the meaning of every single word you just wrote. I repeat, our minds, yours and mine! The parent can say a rock exists, the parent can say the baby is aware of its own existence. The parent can say that, because those are all things that are part of the MDR of the parent. Read that until you understand what I am actually saying, and why it is just completely true-- that's what MDR is all about.

    People have such a thirst for absolute truths, they just can't see the actual nature of everything we hold as true, and where it came from! But I would just point out to you what you have done: you started out saying that the only thing you are certain of is that you exist, and now you have said that a parent is certain that their baby is aware of their own existence. See the problem when you lose track of the actual home of your MDR? The home is in your mind, and everything you hold as something that you are certain of, whether it be your own existence or the idea that your baby is self-aware, lives in that mind. Even the concept of your mind, lives in your mind, it is how you make sense of yourself. Do you have to exist to make sense of yourself? No, that's backwards-- you have to make sense of existence before you can exist, because it is your word.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-Apr-17 at 09:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    You may call that logic "warped", but you simply do not understand it. The question was never whether the baby was aware of its existence, any more than whether a rock exists, in some absolute way-- because those statements have no meaning until we give them meaning. They are not absolute truths, written in some unknowable language that we are trying to figure out. They are statements written in English, and our minds are responsible for the meaning of every single word you just wrote. I repeat, our minds, yours and mine! The parent can say a rock exists, the parent can say the baby is aware of its own existence. The parent can say that, because those are all things that are part of the MDR of the parent. Read that until you understand what I am actually saying, and why it is just completely true-- that's what MDR is all about.
    The parent cannot say with absolute certainty that the baby is aware of itself. I never said that. I cannot even say that about my spouse. That my spouse is aware of herself is a belief (for me). It must be. One that few will doubt but a belief nonetheless.

    I am aware of my own existence as I am writing these words. And I am thinking about how to get that into your mind. I am not thinking about my own existence. And yet I am fully aware of it. This (my) awareness is absolutely certain. Beyond a shred of a doubt, since even to doubt it I first need to be.

    I cannot convince you or anybody else of my own awareness. But for me (and only for me) that is an absolute certainty. Just as (I assume) it is for you if you'd forget your mind warp for a moment.

    I am not trying to establish an interpersonal truth. That cannot be done.

    The awareness of my own existence is primal - as primal as it gets. It is its own obviousness. Your insistence that I need words for this awareness or thinking about it for it to be so is nonsense.
    Maybe you need your thinking mind to be aware of your existence. Poor you I can only say if that is so. I most certainly do not need my thinking mind to be aware that I exist.
    I only need my thinking mind to write these words and then I need to use words like "I" and "exist" that you can question until the cows turn blue. The awareness itself is (and must be) prior to the words and needs no words to be so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    The parent cannot say with absolute certainty that the baby is aware of itself.
    OK, so the parents cannot be certain the baby is aware of itself, and the baby cannot be certain that it is aware of itself (after all, it does not even have a concept of self). This proves my point. At some point in your life, after you were a baby, you developed, using your ability to think, the ability to define "I", and the ability to define "exist", such that you can make sense of your sensory perceptions and say "I exist." Since you have not done that your entire life, it is not some "inherent truth", it is a truth you built into your MDR-- just like everything else. It is therefore not a truth of a different kind, such that a solipsist could say "the only thing I can be certain of is that I exist." That is just not consistent with the meaning of either certainty, or an MDR. "Certainty" is an arbitrary line, and depending on where and how you draw it, you can hold that you are certain of all kinds of things, including your own existence, including others' existence. What's more, it is knowledge of the existence of others that allows us to form a concept of objective reality, so is an essential step in the creation of the scientific method. Since the scientific method is the source of all knowledge that can be recognized as "objective truth", your own existence does not have any primacy, as an objective truth, over the existence of others. Just like the MIR, you are welcome to believe it, and you are welcome to define your terms such that it is true, but you cannot be doing science in the process, because you are either applying a belief that is not objectively demonstrable, or you are using definitions that are or no use to science.
    I am aware of my own existence as I am writing these words. And I am thinking about how to get that into your mind.
    I know you believe that, that's all you are telling me. I'm asking you to demonstrate it, just as I did those who held that there must be an MIR. Your argument at this point is quite similar to theirs, and they, like you, could not accept that they were only expressing a belief that could not be demonstrated scientifically. There's no problem with scientifically demonstrating that you exist, but it's just as easy to scientifically demonstrate that others do, it is your idea that this is "all you can be certain of" is just a belief.

    To show you that, I would ask-- when in your life did you become able to conclude that you exist, was there a moment of revelation, or did you build the construct gradually? I'm sure you don't know, you can't remember it-- none of us can. But it doesn't matter-- if it came to you as a revelation, then it is not an inherent truth, it requires a revelation that, say, insects never achieve. It's an idea that you had, and it helped you make sense-- just like all the other ideas of science. You were just doing science, that's all, and the value of your conclusion there is like all other scientific conclusions-- it is judged by how well it tests out.

    To give you some idea of the problem you face, if you claim that your existence is some kind of certain truth that is different from all the other certain truths you generate with science (where "certain" is your word, and you must give it a meaning that works, like when someone asks you "are you certain?"), consider this. Can you say you know you existed ten minutes ago, as you read this? You might say yes, your memory of ten minutes ago is as sharp and lucid as your perceptions of this moment. Or, you might say no, ten minutes ago is somewhat less clear in your mind, it could have been a false memory, a hypnotic suggestion. So you can see where I'm going! If you say you are just as certain, I'll ask about an hour ago. If you say you are less certain, I'll ask about ten minutes ago! Eventually you will have to admit that your so-called certainty that you exist is a somewhat murky function of time, so that you are less and less certain the farther back in time you go. So what is the moment that certainty reached absolute certainty? If you say "this exact instant", I will offer that you have no idea what "this exact instant" means, you brain takes time to process signals, and some parts are a bit lagged relative to others. So you have a rather squishy awareness of time when it gets down to the microsecond, and so there is no possible way you can even define the time when you achieved absolute certainty that you exist.

    The answer to this conundrum is simple-- all you mean by "I exist" is what you are perceiving right now. You have inadvertantly reversed the logic-- you hold that existence is an absolute, and you are an absolute, so the fact that you can perceive must mean you exist. But actually, existence is not an absolute, and neither is your identity, these are constructs of your mind, and you have constructed them, at some very early age, in a very reasonable way: you have constructed them such that what you mean by these concepts is what you are doing right now. So it is not some absolute truth that you have achieved certainty about, it is simply the way you define those words, it is what those words mean to you (and to anyone, really).

    So again, this is what "I think therefore I am" means-- not that my existence allows me to think, but rather, my ability to think is what allows me to form a concept of existence, and of course I attribute that concept to myself, that's what I mean by the word. But my point is, the same holds for all our words-- we define them to mean the concepts we have built into our MDR. It is the same for other minds. When you define the words "other people", you do so such that you can be certain that other people exist. Not certain in some absolute sense, not certain like a word in a language you don't know, but certain in your language, what you mean by certain. All else is degrees-- you can be more certain of some things than others, but you define the word to mean a level of confidence that you achieve as you test out how well these constructs work.

    The same is certainly true of the construct "I", or "my identity." Far from an absolute truth, this construct is a kind of white lie we tell ourselves, much like all the other white lies we build into our MDR. I say "white lie" because all we really know about these constructs is they work, but we should also have seen enough of the process of building an MDR not to believe that any of it is "really true" in an absolute sense, they are true by virtue of what we always mean by true: they help us make sense.
    I am not thinking about my own existence. And yet I am fully aware of it.
    No, you say you are "aware" because you have some meaning in mind for that word. How could it be other? You just used a series of words, they are not your absolute truth that doesn't require thinking-- those words require thinking, or they are completely meaningless. So it is with all language, all meaning.
    This (my) awareness is absolutely certain. Beyond a shred of a doubt, since even to doubt it I first need to be.
    So there is your syllogism: to doubt you need to be. Sounds like good logic, good thinking. See my point?

  28. #1288
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    347
    I am with NoChoice on this.

    You are simply wrong on this, Ken G.

    I just checked again:
    I am aware of my existence. No thinking required. No concept of "existence" required. No concept of "I" required. Nothing required.

    The reason is very simple:

    Awareness is aware of itself. That's what it is and it is what it does.

  29. #1289
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    566
    What is interesting about this side arm of the discussion is that you, Ken G, are trying to tell me how I am experiencing myself by insisting that it should work exactly like you describe it without any other possibility.

    Ask yourself:
    How can you possibly know how I am supposed to function?

    I keep on saying that this is a truth for me and for me only. Because that is the only awareness there is (for me).
    I am assuming that there are other and similar awarenesses out there but I keep on saying that I have no way of knowing it.

    That's how this side arm started:
    You insisted that other minds are knowable.
    I said there is no way of possibly knowing that there even are other minds.
    How can you possibly know that you are not in some kind of elaborate dream?

    You can assume that other minds exists. You can believe it, you can define it, but you cannot know it.

    Then the question arose what can I (or one) possibly know with certainty?
    And I said I am aware of myself and that is a knowing beyond words. It is the very core of my being as it were. It is how I know that I am.
    But I made it clear from the beginning that this is only a truth for me. It is a purely subjective truth.
    I was assuming that this would be for others like it is for me (or at least similar).
    But since I made clear that other minds cannot be known I would never insist on it how it must be for you.

    You on the other hand just keep on insisting that you know how my mind works and that it must work exactly as you say it should, otherwise I am just somehow incapable of seeing it.

    That is not only very presumptuous but also flat out wrong (for me).
    I am aware of my existence without thinking about it. Believe it or not.
    And it seems to me that there is at least one other in this thread for whom "it works" similar as it does for me.

    Don't you think it's time to stop presuming you know it all?

  30. #1290
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,821
    Quote Originally Posted by KlausH View Post
    I just checked again:
    I am aware of my existence. No thinking required. No concept of "existence" required. No concept of "I" required. Nothing required.
    No guys, you are wrong, and I can prove it.
    The reason is very simple:

    Awareness is aware of itself. That's what it is and it is what it does.
    You have given me a reason why you are right. That is just precisely what makes you wrong, because your claim is this: "here is the reason that I do not need to think to be aware of my existence." If there is a reason, then it requires thought to be true, period. It makes no difference what the reason is, reason requires thought, no matter how simple. The other thing it requires is the meaning of the words. So this is what we have right in front of us:
    1) some words that make up your statement, words that you attribute meaning to (let's look at them: "I am aware of my existence." There they are.)
    2) some reasons why you consider that statement to be true.
    That's it, words and reasons. That requires thought.

    By the way, I notice neither of you have answered my question yet. Are you certain, or are you not certain, that you existed ten minutes ago?
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-Apr-18 at 11:34 AM.

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