Guy J
lifetoward
Austin, TX
Post #: 8
Here's a ditty from a while back which gets at the subjective vs objective issues around free will and determinism.

Please check it out.

Guy
Bill M.
bmeacham
Austin, TX
Post #: 111
I suggest a clarification. You say "our reality exists only by a sort of consensus of experience." That statement makes a lot of sense when you are talking about social constructions such as laws, money, morals, and so forth. But it is misleading when you are talking about the physical world.

In the social realm reality is made up in large part by our agreements with each other. Witness the changing views on homosexuality. It used to be considered immoral. Now many people are regarding it simply as biological fact without moral implications. Our social consensus determines how we treat gay men and lesbians.

The same cannot be said of physical reality. True, our consensus changes over time, and earlier views -- such as the heliocentric view of the universe, or the phlogiston theory of heat -- are discarded. But they are discarded because of new evidence and better theories, that is to say because of better observation of the physical world and more cogent thinking about that evidence. They are not discarded just because of changing opinions or social values.

We could all agree that by the power of our will and desire we could fly unaided by mechanical means. But we better not test it by jumping off a roof. There are times when reality is certainly not determined by our consensus! Instead reality determines the consensus.
Gene R.
fatal-error667
Austin, TX
Post #: 194
Confession: For the most past I do not understand this particular Guy’s entry. And when it gets to the God’s perspective, I’m totally lost. I’m a simple country boy; this kind of stuff overloads my circuits. Take just the opening sentences – “Our minds are capable of positing a perspective in which determinism becomes valid or possible.
But that we can imagine that position does not make that position real, meaningful, accessible, or relevant”. They are pregnant with possibilities and thus also prompt numerous questions: Relevant for what? Accessible to whom? Meaningful in what sense? I see no special properties of determinism that uniquely qualify it to be the sole candidate for that sentence. Perhaps it is just one specific application of a general principle and instead of “determinism” one can plug in “external world”, or “other minds” or “ truth”? Or even “unicorns” and “flying hamburgers”? Can someone (Guy himself perhaps) decipher this material for the mere mortals?
gary
catalunya
Austin, TX
Post #: 3
I have to say that I don't agree at all that reality exists by a consensus of experience.

I like physicist David Deutsch's metaphor for reality. I disagree with several things he says, but he understands observation, explanation, and theory better than most philosophers. He describes Boswell's account of how Samuel Johnson rejected Berkeley's extreme idealism. Having just heard a harangue doubting whether a tree actually falls in the forest if there is no-one to witness it, he kicked a rock and said "Thus I refute it!". Johnson was wrong to claim that he refuted Berkeley's idealism, but he made an important point. When you kick a rock, it kicks back. Blind people quickly learn that there are unanticipated barriers in the world, whose existence is independent of their control. You run into walls and stumble over furniture. Maybe these things are all figments of a solipsistic imagination, but they are figments that constrain possibilities and cannot be wished or interpreted away. If you want to go through the wall, you must find the door and use it. Reality is anything that independently kicks back. Even a solipsist might agree to this distinction.

Bill could say this is what he calls "physical reality". And I would agree. It's just that I don't draw a distinction between "social" reality and physical reality.

Reality for me is a single, simple concept. Reality of the kind we call "social" is the observed facts and behaviors of the social realm. It's the part that kicks back and refuses to be avoided. It is a fact, and therefore a social reality, that black people have been treated differently from whites. That's observable today, and there is plenty of documentary evidence for the historical part of the claim. It is a fact, and therefore a social reality, that there have been many theories to justify it, including theological ones. They can be enumerated in a list.

Is it a fact, and therefore a social reality, that black people have been discriminated against? In my opinion, yes - but, historically, others looked at the same agreed facts and concluded otherwise. The issue reduces to definition: the word "discrimination" is pejorative, and those who feel justified in their actions cannot accept that label. We can all agree on basic facts, but disagree on the applicability of a word.

Yet, if the technical word "blorg" described precisely all actions that cause different results based on race, we would all agree that "blorg" happens in the world. "Blorg" simply describes a collection of observations that most of us, even old-time southerners, agree exist (say, Jim Crow laws). That set of facts kicks back. Ask any older black person.

"Blorg" might even include actions that benefit blacks, like equal opportunity employment and racial quotas in university admissions. There is an opinion that, on the whole, "blorg" was very bad for blacks. The existence of the opinion is a social reality, but its assertion is not. There is currently a consensus that this opinion is right. To the extent that we can measure the consensus, that's a social reality. Such a consensus may not have existed a hundred years ago.

I'm aware that this metaphor of kicking back over-simplifies things, but it covers quite a lot of ground. For example, there are realities that indeed kick back, but exist only by convention (Searles likes to write about them). For example, money is nothing but an idea you can't live without, because we all agree it is so (survivalists and Thoreau notwithstanding). In general, societal and cultural institutions are like that. Money is not an opinion, it's a reification of conventional ideas, and these ideas are bound together by economic and financial theories.

In a limited way, consensus is necessary for conventional realities like money. We all agree to use it. But I don't need consensus to believe in the reality of money. The consensus merely defines the properties of money.

Above, Bill argues that social reality is made up of agreements, and implies that therefore, consensus is necessary for social reality. I think reified agreements - realities defined by consensus - are observable facts, and my belief in them isn't contingent on someone else's opinion. I may choose to try to live in a barter economy, but simple observation tells me that it is a fact that my neighbors live in a money economy. Social reality, like physical reality, is whatever convinces me of its existence in a manner most independent of consensus or my own thoughts and intentions. Consensus is always a factor in distinguishing objective from subjective reality, in the narrow sense that reasonable observers can disagree about what they actually observe. But if consensus is hard to reach, then we're not talking about something that kicks back hard enough to be a fact. It's probably an opinion, a theory, an interpretation, or a description so overloaded with emotive and obscure words that no-one can agree what it describes.


Gene R.
fatal-error667
Austin, TX
Post #: 195
“Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.” That’s what Wikipedia says.

That’s a lot of stuff! We can explore only the tiniest of slivers of that. And we can only know things that actually exist based on how “they may appear or might be imagined.” They may appear as red sunsets or needles of the dial pointing to some number. And then, based on the number, we construct theories for the unseen things – things that might be imagined. We hope of course that things that appear to us (when we are not drugged) and things imagined through proper methods (science) are corresponding to that reality thing in some meaningful way. Well, we hope…

And when we talk about reality we must resort to language conventions, which came about perhaps through “a sort of consensus of experience” So maybe that’s what Guy is pointing to, since he talks about OUR reality. The reality proper (see Wikipedia), I presume, is no one’s, except God’s or gods' if there is/are such thing(s).
Kim
user 7355689
Austin, TX
Post #: 585
The reality proper (see Wikipedia), I presume, is no one’s, except God’s or gods' if there is/are such thing(s).

Just read an interesting article on God and logic. http://philosophynow....­

1.) For over a thousand years attempts have been made to establish the existence or non-existence of God logically. None have been successful. I conclude that ‘God exists’ is more likely to be logically undecidable than logically decidable.

2.) If God does not exist, I know of no reason why ‘God exists’ is more likely to be logically undecidable than logically decidable.

3.) However, if God does exist, then the ‘unknowable’ aspect of God would make ‘God exists’ more likely to be logically undecidable than logically decidable.

4.) So because ‘God exists’ is likely to be logically undecidable, I conclude that God is more likely to exist than to not exist.

Unfortunately this argument also applies equally well to any other primitive concept with an unknowable aspect – so if two of these primitive concepts are differing concepts of God, we must conclude that more than one God is likely to exist! This is especially troubling if both concepts include the idea of there being only one God. So what started as an argument for the likely existence of God has led to heresy for the Abrahamic religions, or perhaps a paradox. Once again logic has failed to yield a tenable conclusion about God – which is precisely what Kant and others argued would always happen.

Gene R.
fatal-error667
Austin, TX
Post #: 196
But on a bright side, it is nearly certain that Dog exists. Thus, with pride and certitude many assert their faith by saying "Dog is my shepherd!"
http://dogismyshepher...­
Kim
user 7355689
Austin, TX
Post #: 586
But on a bright side, it is nearly certain that Dog exists. Thus, with pride and servitude many assert their faith by saying "Dog is my shepherd!"
http://dogismyshepher...­

Does the Dog have a Buddha-nature? http://en.wikipedia.o...­
gary
catalunya
Austin, TX
Post #: 5
Kim, I couldn't read the article, because it's subscribers-only. Assuming I should take the summary of the argument seriously (that is, it's not an April Fool's joke or a St. Paddy's day prank) ... there are many, many things wrong with this argument. It's not a paradox, not even close. If you really want an analysis, I can post one.

Besides, I know God exists because I scribbled an irrefutable proof in my copy of Being and Nothingness. Unfortunately, I can't find it, and I don't recall the details. I'll pay $500,000 to anyone who can reconstruct it. Mathematicians and logicians need not apply.
a.m.
user 11085356
Austin, TX
Post #: 47
Kim, I couldn't read the article, because it's subscribers-only. Assuming I should take the summary of the argument seriously (that is, it's not an April Fool's joke or a St. Paddy's day prank) ... there are many, many things wrong with this argument. It's not a paradox, not even close. If you really want an analysis, I can post one.

Besides, I know God exists because I scribbled an irrefutable proof in my copy of Being and Nothingness. Unfortunately, I can't find it, and I don't recall the details. I'll pay $500,000 to anyone who can reconstruct it. Mathematicians and logicians need not apply.
Gary: give me a 10% down payment and I'll get started on that.
smile
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