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

  1. #1621
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    Ken suggested it was possible to experimentally test logic.
    And of course, one cannot.
    That is just certainly wrong. Ask yourself this: why do you think we use logic? Is it because it "just seems right"? Certainly not, does logic just seem right to a one-year old baby? Humans learn to use logic, and they learn the same way they learn everything else: they find that it works in their experience in this world. Can you bring any evidence to bear that refutes that? I bring evidence: I cite developmental psychology. So you have it backwards-- you think we use logic because we have to, and only find that it works because it is logical to. But I can quite easily imagine a world where logic doesn't work at all, and in that world, no one would use it! So we clearly use logic because it works in this world, and we only know that by testing it. So it is quite certain that we do test logic, that's how we learn to be logical.

  2. #1622
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    That is just certainly wrong. Ask yourself this: why do you think we use logic? Is it because it "just seems right"? Certainly not, does logic just seem right to a one-year old baby? Humans learn to use logic, and they learn the same way they learn everything else: they find that it works in their experience in this world. Can you bring any evidence to bear that refutes that? I bring evidence: I cite developmental psychology. So you have it backwards-- you think we use logic because we have to, and only find that it works because it is logical to. But I can quite easily imagine a world where logic doesn't work at all, and in that world, no one would use it! So we clearly use logic because it works in this world, and we only know that by testing it. So it is quite certain that we do test logic, that's how we learn to be logical.
    Alright.
    Please demonstrate how one can test logical reasoning without resorting to logical reasoning.

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    Whoa, my brain is hurting after just reading the first two pages of this thread and it's been going on for 55 and from what I can see gzhpcu hasn't changed his view in the slightest.

    There's a physical phenomena in it's own right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    I said "elaborate dream".
    How can you be sure the dream is not generating them as well?

    I am not suggesting we are in a dream. I am only saying there is no way of determining without a doubt that we are or aren't.


    Have you never had a "wet dream"?

    Aside from those, I have had other dreams that were virtually indistinguishable from my waking state, with all kinds of intense "bodily" sensations, including pain.
    I only realized I had a dream when I woke up.
    From what I hear from others, this is not something unique to me at all.
    It may not happen often but it certainly does happen.

    So, again my question:
    How can one be sure?
    Come on, the dream world is totally different, constantly changing background, changing faces, changing themes. I have never felt anything in a dream, so it can not hold generally. I can be sure, but maybe others can't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Thomas Aquinas pointed out that our perceptions of the world around us cannot be knowledge, since perceptions can logically contradict each other. For example, I may say, “This chair is brown,” while another may say, “No, this chair is not brown, it’s green.” Since these perceptions contradict, perception cannot produce genuine knowledge, since truthful knowledge cannot contradict itself.

    Therefore, genuine knowledge of reality would have to be direct knowledge of the object itself. And so reality itself exists independently of our minds’ apprehension of it.
    Within a quantum system prepared in the quantum state c = a + b the formalism directly yields observational predictive rules concerning the outcome. The formalism won't tell us with certainty the pointer position observed, but just tells us that when observed the pointer will be seen to lie either in state A or state B. But it yields with certainty the prediction that any number of observers will see the pointer lying in the same state. In other words the formalism predicts intersubjective agreement without in any way implying that before the measurement took place the pointer really was in the observed state.

    Empirical reality/MDR, perceptions – however you wish to label our reality of observation, will show the pointer to be unambiguously in state A or State B, there will be no contradictions between any number of observers when they compare notes from the one experiment. Yet that consistency in no way refers to a prior definite position before the pointer was observed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Moran View Post
    Within a quantum system prepared in the quantum state c = a + b the formalism directly yields observational predictive rules concerning the outcome. The formalism won't tell us with certainty the pointer position observed, but just tells us that when observed the pointer will be seen to lie either in state A or state B. But it yields with certainty the prediction that any number of observers will see the pointer lying in the same state. In other words the formalism predicts intersubjective agreement without in any way implying that before the measurement took place the pointer really was in the observed state.

    Empirical reality/MDR, perceptions – however you wish to label our reality of observation, will show the pointer to be unambiguously in state A or State B, there will be no contradictions between any number of observers when they compare notes from the one experiment. Yet that consistency in no way refers to a prior definite position before the pointer was observed.
    Yes in a quantum state in the microscopic realm. Not in the macroscopic realm of a chair.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    Alright.
    Please demonstrate how one can test logical reasoning without resorting to logical reasoning.
    Simple. First describe a type of reasoning. Then apply that reasoning. See what results you get. Do you like them? Continue reasoning that way. That's the test. Do you not think it's possible to have other rules of reasoning, and find they don't work? Is that not the reason we use logic instead?
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-23 at 06:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    (Just an aside: don't you guys have anything to do that you respond so quickly/often? Me? I'm retired... )
    I'm working retired but have been on my back with a slipped disc for a month, still recuperating so I do spend too much time at the keyboard- must get, make a stand up desk and do more Pilates!
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    I have been reading NS again and this week (24 May) there is an article on a new information theory called constructor theory by David Deutsch and Chiara Marietto. It deals with some of the counterfactual nature of information and its relation to energy. It's another fascinating glimpse into this MDR debate. I would like to quote the last sentence of the article:

    "That makes knowledge creators such as people, central to fundamental physics for the first time since Copernicus debunked the geocentric model of the solar system."
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Mind is tricky, though I think our common definition of mind should suffice there, that has not created any problems above. If you have an issue with it, feel free to suggest clarifications. The thread is about the meaning of reality, and my contention is that whenever anyone talks about reality in any practical context, they always mean MDR, and I gave loads of examples to support my point.
    It's still the central notion though. Does a monkey have a mind (and hence does reality exist for a monkey)? What about a cat, an insect, a tree?

    What if i program a robot to be "scientific"? In the sense of a program running along "If input = X then perform action A and set new input = Y. Add to database (X,A,Y)". It's building up a "reality" in the sense of MDR, yet one would hardly call its database a "mind".

    ETA: What i'm trying to say is that, even if we assume that MDR is correct in the sense of "Mind -> Reality", that still doesn't preclude that the actual relation is "X -> Reality" where X is a subset of "Mind". Such as X = associative memory or something.
    Last edited by caveman1917; 2014-May-23 at 08:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    So you are saying, something is out there and we have no idea.
    And when I say "something is out there", I recognize that "something", "out", and "there" are concepts of my brain, which I do know something about because I created those concepts, and so they all live quite firmly in my MDR. You, on the other hand, pretend these words have an absolute meaning that is outside of your brain. I point out the inconsistency in your position, but you press on anyway. Beliefs are allowed to be inconsistent, reason is not.
    I have termed what is out there as MIR, even though I am not qualifying what MIR is.
    You have done so much more than that, you have stated that the MIR exists, but you cannot connect your word "exists" with your word "MIR" by using any evidence. Hence, your contention is a belief. That is a completely ironclad argument that nothing you have said contradicts. In fact, all you have said is reiterating your belief in MIR, so it does not even address that ironclad argument I just presented.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
    It's still the central notion though. Does a monkey have a mind (and hence does reality exist for a monkey)? What about a cat, an insect, a tree?
    Whether or not a monkey has a mind is up to us to decide, it's all part of MDR. That's the central point that those who are not getting the MDR concept seem to keep tripping over, they keep wanting to use words as if they were absolute things. You seem to be posing your question as if there was some absolute answer to the question of whether or not monkeys have minds, but of course there isn't, it depends on what we mean by monkeys, what we mean by minds, and what we mean by answers. That's the thing that is all part of MDR-- what our minds mean when we create these notions. And yes, that also holds for what I just meant when I said the words I just said. All words require a process to acquire meaning. Minds are where that process occurs. If you want to dispute that, then I'm not sure you are using language the way most people do.
    What if i program a robot to be "scientific"? In the sense of a program running along "If input = X then perform action A and set new input = Y. Add to database (X,A,Y)". It's building up a "reality" in the sense of MDR, yet one would hardly call its database a "mind".
    All you are saying is that building an MDR involves more than that trivial program. I realize that. But building an MDR is what we are doing all the same, and the evidence I cite is from all our own experience. What evidence do you cite?
    ETA: What i'm trying to say is that, even if we assume that MDR is correct in the sense of "Mind -> Reality", that still doesn't preclude that the actual relation is "X -> Reality" where X is a subset of "Mind". Such as X = associative memory or something.
    Why would we want to assume that's correct? What we are talking about is what we mean by the words. This is what I keep stressing, "mind" is our word, "reality" is our word. So all we need to know is, what do we mean by these words? To answer that, I said many times, look at how these words are getting used in practical contexts. Look at where people are using the word "mind"-- say, developmental psychology, or just two people talking about "making up their mind", or watching a movie called "A Beautiful Mind". Now look at where people are using the word "reality"-- say, when someone is describing a dream they had, and telling you why they know it is a memory of a dream and not a memory of something "real." Over and over, the evidence is overwhelming that what we mean by our minds is the seat of our thoughts and our processes of interpreting, organizing, and unifying sensory input. What we mean by all those other words is common experience, like the meaning of all words. This is just what language is, there's nothing too profound there! And above all, whenever we see practical references to "reality", the evidence is also overwhelming that people are talking about their minds attempts to make sense of their perceptions and thoughts, to notice consistencies, and build unifying concepts like cause and effect, time ordering, spatial location, etc. It is perfectly clear that all these things are going on in people's minds, and all these words acquire their meanings by our mental processes. So the building of an MDR is right there before our eyes, to deny we are seeing it is to be as resolutely determined to deny evidence as any creationist ever was. Whether or not we decide to attach an additional belief that the "reason" we can build an MDR is that there exists an MIR is entirely a personal choice, but no one has ever provided any evidence, in contrast to what I just did, that this is true.
    ETA: If you are saying that we have more to learn about minds, and the details of how an MDR gets built, I wholeheartedly agree. Indeed, that's the whole point of the exercise-- we should want to understand better what minds are, what that word can mean to us in unifying and powerful ways. But that process begins by recognizing the role that minds play in deciding what reality is, which is the point of the whole thread.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-23 at 09:23 PM.

  13. #1633
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And when I say "something is out there", I recognize that "something", "out", and "there" are concepts of my brain, which I do know something about because I created those concepts, and so they all live quite firmly in my MDR. You, on the other hand, pretend these words have an absolute meaning that is outside of your brain. I point out the inconsistency in your position, but you press on anyway. Beliefs are allowed to be inconsistent, reason is not.You have done so much more than that, you have stated that the MIR exists, but you cannot connect your word "exists" with your word "MIR" by using any evidence. Hence, your contention is a belief. That is a completely ironclad argument that nothing you have said contradicts. In fact, all you have said is reiterating your belief in MIR, so it does not even address that ironclad argument I just presented.
    Here we go again. The moment words are used, everything is dismissed. How can a discussion be held if you set the ground rules that disallow a discussion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Here we go again. The moment words are used, everything is dismissed. How can a discussion be held if you set the ground rules that disallow a discussion?
    Exploring how words acquire meaning is "disallowing discussion"? That's news to me! You are just confirming what I have said all along: everything that you are arguing rests on an unwillingness to look at how words acquire meaning, replacing that with a pretense that their meanings are absolute and independent of us. This is imagining that these words of English are actually words of some universal language that we do not know, yet somehow are managing to use correctly anyway. That's just nonsense, someone who is unwilling to look at the meaning of the words they are using is no different from a creationist who is unwilling to look at scientific evidence, all because they have a belief that makes sense to them that they don't want to part with. The irony is, I'm not even trying to get you to part with your belief, I'm just trying to show you that you have no evidence for it, which is actually clear simply from the fact that you have never cited any such evidence.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-23 at 08:35 PM.

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    What I'm waiting to see is any argument that the MIR concept is scientific. I have not seen any argument like that, not one. Instead, what I have seen is this: your mind has created a model whereby there exists some mind-independent entity you label reality, and you hold that because that mind-independent entity exists, everything else becomes possible. But that is an inconsistent argument, because you are describing a model your mind has created, and labeled it mind independent, even though some other mind could come up with a different model that does not look like that, so the model clealry depends on the mind that created it! Part of that is that your model invokes a bunch of words, most notably "reality", yet you will not provide any process whereby that word can acquire a meaning. So what I am asking you is this. Provide the following two things that are required to support the contention that the MIR concept is scientific:

    1) take your common argument:
    "The existence of a mind independent reality allows for there to be minds that attempt to understand, in an iteratively convergent way, what that reality is"
    and distinguish it in any testable way, i.e., any scientific way, from the argument:
    "The existence of invisible flying spaghetti monsters allows for there to be minds that attempt to understand, in an iteratively convergent way, what that reality is"

    2) Imagine someone says: Minds can attempt to make sense of their perceptions and thoughts even if the words "mind independent reality" are incoherent. Provide a single shred of evidence that their contention is inconsistent with observations of our world.

    If everyone on this thread continues to be unable to do either of those things, as they have been unable to do for 55 pages, it should be perfectly clear to all that the contention "the MIR is scientific" has been surrendered.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-23 at 09:36 PM.

  16. #1636
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Yes in a quantum state in the microscopic realm. Not in the macroscopic realm of a chair.
    Says who exactly? What about the universality of QM?

    Bernard d'Espagnat "On physics and philosophy":

    " ....Hence we have now no reason to believe that there are, on one side the macroscopic systems, obeying one definite set of physical laws and on the other side the macroscopic systems, obeying quite another set of laws bearing no relation to the former. Quite the contrary we have to consider that it is because they follow the quantum rules (under some definite but practically quite often satisfied conditions) that the classical mechanics computation rules yield the (successful) observational predictions that we know of."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Simple. First describe a type of reasoning. Then apply that reasoning. See what results you get. Do you like them? Continue reasoning that way. That's the test. Do you not think it's possible to have other rules of reasoning, and find they don't work? Is that not the reason we use logic instead?
    Obfuscating isn't demonstrating.

    With your "Then apply that reasoning" you have entered the circle, the merry go-around of circular reasoning.
    And of course, that will always be the case, no matter how you twist it.

    What's so hard to admit about the fact that science is based on axioms and therefore on beliefs?
    Mathematics, the logical pillar of all science is based on them and nobody is (or should be) ashamed of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I have been reading NS again and this week (24 May) there is an article on a new information theory called constructor theory by David Deutsch and Chiara Marietto. It deals with some of the counterfactual nature of information and its relation to energy. It's another fascinating glimpse into this MDR debate. I would like to quote the last sentence of the article:

    "That makes knowledge creators such as people, central to fundamental physics for the first time since Copernicus debunked the geocentric model of the solar system."
    Except that it isn't for the first time.
    The spiritual tradition of mankind has been teaching this for thousands of years.
    Mind makes reality - not the other way round.

    Science is just notoriously slow in catching up on wisdom.

  19. #1639
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    What's so hard to admit about the fact that science is based on axioms and therefore on beliefs?
    What's hard is that it badly mischaracterizes what science is. In fact, it overlooks the single fundamental thing that separates science from everything else. I admit that this point is poorly appreciated, as indeed this very thread shows (we agree there is a group of people on this thread that hold to a particular belief so fervently that they are compelled to ignore the overwhelming evidence of 55 pages of failed opportunities to present evidence that it is not only a belief). But it is a crucial point all the same: science does not require beliefs because it is no part of science to believe its axioms. Indeed, "science" is not just one thing, it is an evolving set of rules, called "the scientific method." There is zero need to "believe in" these rules, indeed science is much better if these rules are not believed in. I, for example, do not "believe in" the rules of science, I demand that the rules of science come under constant reassessment. That reassessment looks like this: a critical appraisal of whether or not there is evidence that these rules are still working for us.

    Indeed, that is the subtext of this whole thread. There has for a long time been a kind of unwritten assumption about science, which is that the outputs of scientific knowledge are somehow universal truths that do not depend on our minds. That unwritten assumption leads us to imagine that electrons really exist, that gravity really is a force (or a bending of spacetime, take your pick-- but note how significant it is that you could be asked to pick!), that time really "marches along" and so forth. But science does not depend on any of that, in fact science is much better without that unwritten assumption. The whole reason that assumption is unwritten is because it is bogus and would never stand the tests of science! If it were a decent scientific principle to "believe your axioms" (where please note I must continually stress that by "believe", I do not mean "accept as a working hypothesis based on a wide array of evidence", I mean "take on faith in the absence of evidence simply because you are so inclined to do so"), then that would be a step in the scientific method. That it is not is an important part of science: the scientific method is chosen by us, defined by us, and altered by us whenever we find the need to. It was developed over millennia. No one should have "believed in" the way Aristotle did science, any more than how Einstein did it. Belief is always an obstacle to science, including belief in the scientific method. Aristotle did it because he perceived it as working for him, and when we found some aspects of what he did don't actually work at all, we did away with those parts and replaced them. That's not belief tge way I have consistently defined the word, and if you have some other meaning in mind, you need to say so.

    Now, of course one has to use the axioms of science to do science, we agree there. But using and believing are two different things. Would you claim that they are not different things? This is quite an important point, because if we agree they are different things, then answer me this: which one do you have to do in order to be doing science?
    Mathematics, the logical pillar of all science is based on them and nobody is (or should be) ashamed of it.
    It's not an issue of shame, it's an issue of understanding. One cannot understand science until one recognizes that there is only one reason that science uses mathematics: it has been shown to work. Evidence is the beating heart of all science, we first have to decide what evidence looks like, and then we look for it, and then we see how well this whole process is serving us. There is simply no place for belief anywhere in there, though since we are human, we are inclined to form beliefs anyway. I'm not anti-belief, I'm anti failing-to-see-the-difference-between-belief-and-evidence.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-23 at 11:56 PM.

  20. #1640
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoChoice View Post
    Except that it isn't for the first time.
    The spiritual tradition of mankind has been teaching this for thousands of years.
    Mind makes reality - not the other way round.

    Science is just notoriously slow in catching up on wisdom.
    That maybe true inspiration maybe faster but science uses evidence and experiment and takes the long way round discarding the hypotheses that don't pan out. And so it is that the scientific method has found evidence that is very counter intuitive. We still have a long way to go as this thread shows. But the writing is on the MDR wall.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    All you are saying is that building an MDR involves more than that trivial program.
    I'm saying the opposite. Well, not exactly the opposite - i'm not saying that such a trivial program is enough, but that you have far from established that a mind is necessary to build an MDR, only that it is sufficient. If you're looking to understand the basis of reality then you should look at what is necessary for it, not just find examples of what is sufficient. Consider someone who wants to understand the basis of powered movement and looks at cars, noticing that a car forms a basis for powered movement. If he then starts talking about powered movement by pointing to cars talking about the radio and rear-view mirrors, would you say that he is understanding the basis of powered movement? Obviously not. While a car would be sufficient as a basis for powered movement, in order to understand powered movement he should look at what is necessary. He could certainly use the example of a car for it, but should be looking at stripping it down as much as he can while still retaining the powered movement aspect - so leaving him with wheels, axles and an engine. That's the way to understand powered movement in terms of examples of cars, and equally that's the way to understand "reality" in terms of examples of "minds".

    Constructing, from your post, a definition of "reality" as "the resulting consistencies and concepts derived from interpreting, organizing and unifying sensory input" we can then consider what is necessary to achieve that result and it doesn't seem like a "mind" is required at all. You've asked for evidence, so i'll cite the machine learning experiment by a group at google (paper here) where they've shown a bunch of unlabeled pictures randomly taken from youtube videos to a neural network which then proceeded to learn high-level concepts such as "cat", "human face", etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
    I'm saying the opposite. Well, not exactly the opposite - i'm not saying that such a trivial program is enough, but that you have far from established that a mind is necessary to build an MDR, only that it is sufficient.
    My definition of an MDR suffices to establish that a mind is necessary to build it. How are you defining an MDR? What do you mean by those words? I've stated quite clearly what I mean by them, and a mind is certainly necessary, just look at those words.
    If you're looking to understand the basis of reality then you should look at what is necessary for it, not just find examples of what is sufficient.
    Again, I am not looking to understand the basis of reality. Those words suggest that "reality" is something other than an English word that I give meaning to. But that's incorrect, reality is an English word that I (and others who share the language) give meaning to. The sounds and symbols that go into "reality" are just the label, that's not what I mean, I mean the concept that I evince when I say "reality", that's what reality means. It is not our job to figure out what "reality is", it is our job to establish what we mean by that word. I have done so, by discussing how that word is used by the people who invoke it, and the reasons that they invoke it.

    This is a crucial point. As long as some people on this thread think "reality" is something that pre-exists our concepts, and we are trying to figure out what that thing is, are simply starting out with their belief in MIR. Obviously, if you start with your belief in MIR, all roads will lead to you to that conclusion, but it's no conclusion, it's your starting point. I am saying, look at what minds are doing all around you, just witness it. There are no assumptions to make, there is just looking at evidence. Do science.

    He could certainly use the example of a car for it, but should be looking at stripping it down as much as he can while still retaining the powered movement aspect - so leaving him with wheels, axles and an engine. That's the way to understand powered movement in terms of examples of cars, and equally that's the way to understand "reality" in terms of examples of "minds".
    You are talking about the process whereby we establish the meanings of our words. I don't see anything there that is new to me, and I don't see how it relates to my point that we use our minds to understand what we mean when we talk about reality.
    Constructing, from your post, a definition of "reality" as "the resulting consistencies and concepts derived from interpreting, organizing and unifying sensory input" we can then consider what is necessary to achieve that result and it doesn't seem like a "mind" is required at all.
    Actually, look again at my definition, that wasn't it. That was just a list of some of the things minds do when constructing a reality. We don't know everything necessary there, because we don't understand our own minds very well. That is part of the point of the thread: to understand what we mean by reality better, at some point we are going to need to understand our minds better.
    You've asked for evidence, so i'll cite the machine learning experiment by a group at google (paper here) where they've shown a bunch of unlabeled pictures randomly taken from youtube videos to a neural network which then proceeded to learn high-level concepts such as "cat", "human face", etc.
    Which is evidence that people are starting to investigate that which it is the purpose of this thread to highlight the importance of: how does a mind construct a concept of reality.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-24 at 01:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    My definition of an MDR suffices to establish that a mind is necessary to build it. How are you defining an MDR?
    Anything conforming to the properties of a reality built by a mind, so not necessarily built by a mind. That seems to be the usual way of defining things. For instance we can define "bread" to be anything conforming to the properties of that thing made by a baker. We don't say that a bread has to be made by a baker, say one made in a factory is still a bread - we just use the baker's product as an example to define something. It would be silly to say that a bread has to be made by a baker, and one made in a factory isn't a bread, it would be equally silly to say that a reality has to be made by a mind.

    Again, I am not looking to understand the basis of reality. Those words suggest that "reality" is something other than an English word that I give meaning to. But that's incorrect, reality is an English word that I (and others who share the language) give meaning to. The sounds and symbols that go into "reality" are just the label, that's not what I mean, I mean the concept that I evince when I say "reality", that's what reality means.
    I wasn't talking about the sounds and symbols that make up the word "reality", but the concept of a "reality", ie its set of properties that allow us to distinguish a reality from not-a-reality.

    This is a crucial point. As long as some people on this thread think "reality" is something that pre-exists our concepts, and we are trying to figure out what that thing is, are simply starting out with their belief in MIR. Obviously, if you start with your belief in MIR, all roads will lead to you to that conclusion, but it's no conclusion, it's your starting point. I am saying, look at what minds are doing all around you, just witness it. There are no assumptions to make, there is just looking at evidence. Do science.
    What scientific evidence do you have that others have minds? What scientific evidence do you have that you have one for that matter? This isn't science, it's philosophy. There's nothing wrong with that, but let's call it what it is. Your assumption of the existence of minds is equally unscientific as the assumption of an MIR.

    Which is evidence that people are starting to investigate that which it is the purpose of this thread to highlight the importance of: how does a mind construct a concept of reality.
    More like "how is a reality constructed?". Unless you're going to argue that the neural network in that experiment constitutes a mind, it doesn't seem like one is required, nor is there any ground to expect so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
    Anything conforming to the properties of a reality built by a mind, so not necessarily built by a mind.
    Why on Earth would you define a "mind dependent reality" as something that is not necessarily built by a mind? I fail to see the advantage, but it is not particularly relevant, so if you want to define it that way, it shouldn't matter much.

    But I miss the relevance of the distinction. If you want to discuss the differences between a concept of reality that is built by a mind, and one that is built by something that can build concepts but isn't a mind, I think you better come back in about a hundred years when humanity is ready to embark on a thread like that. This thread seems focused on the belief that there is a reality that pre-exists our attempts to understand it (MIR), and the absence of any evidence that such a reality exists, versus all the evidence that minds generate a working concept of reality by organizing and unifying sensory perceptions. In short, the evidence that what we mean by reality, in practice, is demonstrably a product of our minds. What else could do that, other than a mind, I have no idea, and feel ill equipped to speculate about.
    I wasn't talking about the sounds and symbols that make up the word "reality", but the concept of a "reality", ie its set of properties that allow us to distinguish a reality from not-a-reality.
    I was only clarifying that when I say "the word reality" some people have interpreted that to mean the sounds and symbols, but what I mean is the way the word functions in our language, the concept we wish to evince in others' minds when we use the term. A key pillar in the pro-MIR camp is that the term "reality" should evince a concept that is mind independent (and indeed many definitions make that error, as I said before), but I'm stressing that it never actually needs to do that in the common instances where that term gets used. Quite the opposite-- it generally evinces a concept that is quite important to be seen as a product of our minds, ironically. (I already gave examples so I won't repeat.)
    What scientific evidence do you have that others have minds?
    Once again, you are using language that suggests that "having minds" is some kind of absolute thing that I could wonder about. That's just not how words work! I decide (as do you) what "having minds" means, those are my words (and yours)! So the question to ask is not, "do other people have minds", it is, "do I want to build my concept of a mind such that I would say that others have one too, or don't I?" The answer to that is easy-- I quite clearly do want to build a concept of mind such that others have it too. The only evidence I need is that it's better to use the concept of mind that way-- indeed, using it any other way borders on monstrous.

    What scientific evidence do you have that you have one for that matter?
    Same answer.
    This isn't science, it's philosophy.
    It's how we establish the meanings of our words, how we build a set of concepts that we can use. Both science and philosophy play a role in doing that, there's little need to say which one is behind which words. Philosophy gave birth to science, philosophy says what the rules of science are. So yes, philosophy has a place in imbuing meaning into scientific words, but so does science itself, because science is a process of giving meaning to its own words such that they function for us as we do science. Scientific words, like all words, are our words, and a very complex process goes into giving them their meaning, a process we cannot completely understand because we don't understand our minds well at all. But we can still see that a process is happening there, and the process depends on our minds, and the result is what we mean by our words. The words are not from a universal language that could tell us if we have minds, or if others do, that's just not something that words are capable of doing because we don't know any such universal language.
    Your assumption of the existence of minds is equally unscientific as the assumption of an MIR.
    Once more, the existence of minds is not an assumption, it is what we mean by those words. I certainly do not assume that minds exist, I have evidence that I can give meaning to those words such that the phrase "minds exist" also has meaning for me. That evidence is part of the reason that I use those words. It is no different from the existence of electrons-- I do not assume that electrons exist, I find objectively demonstrable value in saying they do, and that is what I mean by that word combination.
    More like "how is a reality constructed?". Unless you're going to argue that the neural network in that experiment constitutes a mind, it doesn't seem like one is required, nor is there any ground to expect so.
    Well, I doubt we'll ever be able to learn about how other minds construct a reality, we'll have a hard enough time understanding how our own ones do it. It's just like, we will have a hard enough time understanding experiments we can actually interpret with our minds, let alone trying to understand how minds we don't have would interpret experimental results!
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-24 at 03:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Exploring how words acquire meaning is "disallowing discussion"? That's news to me! You are just confirming what I have said all along: everything that you are arguing rests on an unwillingness to look at how words acquire meaning, replacing that with a pretense that their meanings are absolute and independent of us. This is imagining that these words of English are actually words of some universal language that we do not know, yet somehow are managing to use correctly anyway. That's just nonsense, someone who is unwilling to look at the meaning of the words they are using is no different from a creationist who is unwilling to look at scientific evidence, all because they have a belief that makes sense to them that they don't want to part with. The irony is, I'm not even trying to get you to part with your belief, I'm just trying to show you that you have no evidence for it, which is actually clear simply from the fact that you have never cited any such evidence.
    I totally disagree. It is your privelege to maintain that I am not providing any evidence - just as I don't buy your take on things. Sure it is disallowing discussion, it just allows you to conduct a monolog. A speaker who is deaf, because anything I say is discarded a priori. How can anybody cite evidence if you disallow it by repeating over and over again "those are only words, words are products of the mind"? If you maintain this position, then nobody can present any evidence. Fine: that is your belief. And what you are providing to me is solely philosphical "logic" mumbo jumbo. I can't even ask you what is it that we are observing through our senses and interpreting, because you just say it is all mind-created. Sheesh!...
    .
    Richard Feynman said "Philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds."

    Stephen Hawking wrote in his new book The Grand Design that philosophy as practised nowadays is a waste of time and philosophers a waste of space.
    Last edited by gzhpcu; 2014-May-24 at 05:32 AM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Maybe what I am terming MIR is misunderstood: I do not agree that I have a belief in MIR. It is a conviction
    Whats the difference between a conviction and a belief?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    It is your privelege to maintain that I am not providing any evidence - just as I don't buy your take on things.
    Clearly you are of a different mind on the issue of what is the nature of reality. That serves as part of the evidence I cite that the nature of a reality is a mind-dependent issue. What evidence do you cite that it is a mind independent issue?

    You see, what I need to understand here is if you are simply saying that you think there is an MIR, or if you think that your conclusion that there is an MIR is motivated by scientific thinking. Which is it? If the latter, why do you think that it is motivated by scientific thinking, as opposed to types of thinking that do not attempt to satisfy the rules and limitations of scientific thought?

    Perhaps it would be helpful to get back to the purpose of recognizing that the way we construct our concept of reality depends on the participation of our minds. Early attempts at modeling reality never bothered to include the physicist making the inquiry, we developed (using our minds, but I digress) the idealization of a "closed system", and did not count it as opening the system when we looked at it. This worked well whenever our looking at the system was a small enough perturbation such that it did not spoil the useful idealization of closed systems. But we should have known that this idealization would break down when we got to systems so small that even looking at them represents a substantial modification of the system. We should have known that open systems won't act like closed systems when the act of measuring them opens them up in a fundamentally important way. In short, we should have known that we would not be able to do "business as usual" types of science on small enough or delicate enough systems. So why did it come as such a surprise when we first discovered this truth, with the advent of quantum mechanics?

    I hold that the reason is simple: we had forgotten the limitations of our own idealizations. That's always a *bad idea* in science, but you can get away with it up to a point. So what, then, is the problem if someone holds that belief in an MIR is motivated by scientific thinking? The problem is, it will lead to bad science. For one thing, if you think that belief in an MIR is scientific, then you will imagine that you already have experimental evidence that there is an MIR, just like physicists used to imagine they had experimental evidence that looking at systems doesn't open them. But they had no such evidence, they only had situations where opening the system in that manner was a tiny perturbation, so they got away with ignoring it. If you forget you are doing that, you will not ask the right questions that the next experiment needs to address. Those questions include things like "can two systems that are out of causal contact exhibit correlations that violate the Bell inequality?" Believers in MIR, like Einstein and the EPR authors, took it as a given that two systems could not do that, and used it to critique quantum mechanics. They were wrong.

    How can anybody cite evidence if you disallow it by repeating over and over again "those are only words, words are products of the mind"?
    Notice that you are not arguing your evidence does not contradict itself, you are complaining that it is unfair that I am pointing out that it does contradict itself.
    I can't even ask you what is it that we are observing through our senses and interpreting, because you just say it is all mind-created.
    That's not the reason you can't ask me that, the reason you can't ask me that is no one has the slightest idea. If anyone thinks they do have the slightest idea, let them say so. Until that time, we will continue to use our minds, and our science, to try to attack the question in a way that depends on how our minds do just that.
    Richard Feynman said "Philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds."
    Feynman was a brilliant physicist, but not a terribly good philosopher. There are a lot of people who essentially take the attitude that "it isn't philosophy if I believe it to be true." Feynman was certainly guilty of that. Here he is clearly wrong-- philosophy of science was very useful to Feynman, he invoked it all the time. But he invoked his own personal version, which he preferred over any academically built version. What he is basically saying is that we don't need a University department called "philosophy of science", because scientists already know how to do science. In short, scientists already have a personal philosophy of science, and that's all they need. But all that really means is that scientific knowledge has many bizarre aspects, one of which I've already mentioned (it functions just like knowledge even though it is invariably wrong), and another being that scientists achieve excellent consensus about the objective results and how best to predict them, but not at all about what the results mean (just ask 10 theoretical physicists what a particle is, and prepare yourself for 10 almost totally different answers). For an example of how this plays out in practice, look at the current debate about "eternal inflation" or quantum "many worlds", and you will see just how badly scientists certainly do need some kind of philosophy of science to help them navigate those uncertain waters!
    Stephen Hawking wrote in his new book The Grand Desig that philosophy as practised nowadays is a waste of time and philosophers a waste of space.
    Hawking is guilty of the same error. He certainly has his own philosophy, and he's clear about describing it. He just feels that if he has a philosophy, that's all he needs, he doesn't need philosophers to collect and describe all the other potentially internally consistent ways of thinking about it. It's a very convenient stance, but does not stand up to closer scrutiny. The fact is, Hawking engages in plenty of amateur philosophizing, and when he does that, he is adding to "philosophy as practiced nowadays," yet he does not think he is wasting his own time, because it's his philosophy. So typical!
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-24 at 06:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    I totally disagree. It is your privelege to maintain that I am not providing any evidence - just as I don't buy your take on things. Sure it is disallowing discussion, it just allows you to conduct a monolog. A speaker who is deaf, because anything I say is discarded a priori. How can anybody cite evidence if you disallow it by repeating over and over again "those are only words, words are products of the mind"? If you maintain this position, then nobody can present any evidence. Fine: that is your belief. And what you are providing to me is solely philosphical "logic" mumbo jumbo. I can't even ask you what is it that we are observing through our senses and interpreting, because you just say it is all mind-created. Sheesh!...
    .
    Richard Feynman said "Philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds."
    Science uses verification to test predictive models, once they are verified they become objective knowledge. Science can say nothing more on the matter - if we wish to apply those models to an arena outside of the means in which they were verified we have to invoke philosophy. Feynman never tried to do such things, he knew what science was and stuck to it. That's why he had no time for philosophy, he was a great physicist, but he never went beyond the remit of physics proper - he wasn't made that way.

    Stephen Hawking wrote in his new book The Grand Design that philosophy as practised nowadays is a waste of time and philosophers a waste of space.
    He may deride modern philosophy, that's his opinion/belief, but is he disregarding the role of philosophy within his physics do you think? I doubt it, not when he is a fully signed up member of the philosophical stance of positivism.

    ETA - Looks as if Ken beat me to it!

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    Well first off, I am glad that I am in the illustrous company of Einstein, Feynmanand Hawking...

    I still don't understand this point: I am stating that according to you, the moment I say anything, it is immediately dismissed a priori, but I can only communicate with my mind. This disallows any discussion.

    Nevertheless, another futile attempt on my part: we observe through our senses, draw conclusions with our brain and create a model of reality. Note I said "model". Are you saying the model is a chimera of the mind? Everything is purely mental? Because a model must be a model of something. What is MDR a model of? Is it just a mental hallucination?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    I still don't understand this point: I am stating that according to you, the moment I say anything, it is immediately dismissed a priori, but I can only communicate with my mind.
    Nothing you say is dismissed. I point out logical inconsistencies, that is not dismissing.

    This disallows any discussion.
    It allows for the recognition of logical inconsistencies. The assumption is that you should care.
    Nevertheless, another futile attempt on my part: we observe through our senses, draw conclusions with our brain and create a model of reality. Note I said "model".
    Yes, I'd say there is loads of evidence that this is true, given the common meanings of the words you used and the means by which the meanings of those words are established.
    Are you saying the model is a chimera of the mind? Everything is purely mental? Because a model must be a model of something.
    A model doesn't have to be a model of something, but in many cases it is. In those cases, we can see clearly what it is a model of: another model. That's what the evidence says-- pick any model you like, and I will happily tell you what other model that is a model of.

    What is MDR a model of? Is it just a mental hallucination?
    It is certainly not a hallucination, because we know what we mean by a hallucination, and MDR is not that. There are two possible answers to your question, and I have no idea which has more value in adopting, because there does not seem to be any need to answer the question at all (we acquire no new knowledge by claiming to have an answer to that question):
    1) it is not a model of anything different from a model, it is just a model which we can regard in and of itself, or as a model of other models if we wish to consider those other models as well. Can you give any examples of a model that doesn't model something else that is also a model?
    2) it is a model of something else that isn't itself a model, but we have no idea what and no way to test it, because all we have ideas about, and all we can test, are models. Can you refute that?
    Take your pick, or just say "nobody has any insight into the answer of that question that is not purely a personal choice of belief."
    Last edited by Ken G; 2014-May-24 at 07:35 AM.

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