Charlatan & Wolly Green's fascinating philosophy fair | INFJ Forum

Charlatan & Wolly Green's fascinating philosophy fair

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by wolly.green, Apr 24, 2018.

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  1. wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Mainly logicism (the view that mathematics is in some important sense reducible to logic) and neutral nomism (the view that the world consists of just one type of substance which is neither exclusively mental nor exclusively physical).

    I also disagree with his theories of definite descriptions, logical atomism and logical types. He was trying to look for absolute foundations for all of human knowledge. However, those foundations don't exist. So he wasted his time.

     
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  2. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    What is your view/why do you think the Russell one is wrong, just out of curiosity?
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    It is not clear which problem -- if any -- this theory solves. Thus it is literally impossible to criticize, which means it is immune to criticism. It can thus be rejected summarily.
     
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  4. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    I'm not sure if this was the problem it was intended to solve, but just to cook up one which seems plausible (*WITHOUT* endorsing it myself): what about the old one from the age of Descartes about how the mind and physical would interact if they were distinct?

    One way to deal with this is to suggest that mental and physical descriptions of a phenomenon are not necessarily identical, but still are describing a single entity. If they're describing a single entity, the issue of how supposedly fundamentally distinct ones would interact would seem addressed (whether or not you believe it's successful, you can imagine why someone might go down this path).
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    This is equivalent to saying that the physical and the mental do not exist. David Deutsch said that a thing only exists if explaining it requires that it has its own independent existence (I realize this ontology requires justification, but I will not do this here). Therefore, Neutral Monism implies that the physical does not exist, which directly contradicts a large portion of our most fundamental scientific knowledge. Therefore, Neutral Monism can be summarily rejected.
     
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  6. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    Let's admit Deutsch's ontology for now, for sake of discussion because I like it for its sake. I'd imagine a proponent of the neutral view might say it doesn't contradict our scientific knowledge: that our scientific knowledge is in fact partial knowledge of the neutral entity (call this partial knowledge something we might be tempted to call a knowledge of the 'physical aspect' of it, lacking knowledge of the 'mental aspect').

    I'm sure you'd not agree with them but why not just for fun?

    Also, I noticed you jumped more on the neutral view + Deutsch's ontology leading to a contradiction of our scientific knowledge. Incidentally what of the parallel view that neutral+Deustch => mind doesn't exist? Would you also say "also nonsense, as I think therefore mind exists"?
    Or are you surer of the existence of physical?
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    This doesn't actually work for quite obvious a reason: most of these scientific theories only work of the entities that are proposed within them actually exist. For example, physics explicitly relies on the assumption that space-time has its own independent existence. The reason we know this is that The Theory of Relativity makes no mention of monism. The thing with scientific theories is that if a proposed theory fails to answer some yet unanswered questions, it can be refuted. If Neutral Monism were true, you could ask: Which undifferentiated substance is space-time made of. Since The Theory of Relativity cannot answer this question, it can be refuted thus. Along with most other scientific theories that rely on the independent existence of their respective entities.

    I don't like touching "mind" related subjects because most people prejudice the physical over the abstract. Which could distract from the substance of my argument. So I will be ignoring this branch from here on in.
     
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  8. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    OK so there's just one question -- when you refer to something unanswerable by our scientific theories, do you mean just current? Like, say we find a deeper theory like string theory underlies relativity/quantum. That's no problem, right? We just replace our old theories by the best one. Just the usual process of reason/explanation.

    If we find some deep Russellian neutral substance at the bedrock of reality based on our best reasoning, and find our physical/mental descriptions just approximations, wouldn't we just say OK, the intrinsic nature of reality is so and so -- consists of this neutral thing? Similar to what we'd do if string theory turned out right?

    Or is part of the Russell theory that the neutral substance is such that we cannot answer questions about it? Or, do you just think such a fundamental revision to our current knowledge of the natural world is unlikely?
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Absolutely. But just because you can imagine it does not make it so. Its almost certain that all contemporary theories will be replaced by something deeper and more fundamental. However as of yet, we do not know what this replacement might be. It might be Russell's proposed 'mono-substance'. But it might also be literally one of infinitely many other possible substances or theories. In either case, this does not change the fact that if you are willing to agree with Russell, you must reject almost ALL of contemporary science. Which is obviously a problem since the of theory mono-substances is yet to prove that it is capable of being a replacement.
     
    #9 wolly.green, Apr 25, 2018
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  10. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    @wolly.green OK cool, so what you're saying is that it's an unmotivated rejection of present knowledge. If there were a good reason for it over other views, you'd find it a different story.

    Now I suspect the motivation for it that Russell-proponents might give is that whatever the substance, it will have to somehow transcend the mind-physical dichotomy. That is, if one thinks the cartesian dichotomy is not tenable, the neutral view is reasonable, and WHATEVER deeper reality is, it must be mind-physical neutral. The rest of its nature is to be determined.
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Exactly! However, this is also problematic. Why should the "mind-physical" dichotomy be a motivation for the rejection of present knowledge? Why not simply reject the "mind-physical" dichotomy as a problem worth solving, and leave it open to an answer that won't reject almost all of what we know? Surely this seems like a more rational, parsimonious response?
     
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  12. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    Well, I think the simple answer to that is they'd say our present knowledge gives us 0 insight into explaining why mental phenomena occur, however successful physics may seem from a more "it works practically/the calculations go through" POV.
    Hence suspect strongly the reality transcends the dichotomy somehow rather than dissolves it.
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Well this should not be surprising. Most of our "knowledge" has nothing whatsoever to do with the mind-physical dichotomy. Further, why should an explanation of this dichotomy have to 'transcend' all our current knowledge? Surely simply dissolving the mind-physical problem would do the job just fine? Again, there is that big problem that if one rejects everything we know, the 'replacement' must fill the gaps.
     
    #13 wolly.green, Apr 25, 2018
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  14. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    Well the way I was using 'transcend' vs 'dissolve' is that dissolving would amount to saying there's no problem proposed by the dichotomy. If so, why can't we explain when/why mental phenomenal occur in the world? Why is it such a brute fact as of now?

    I think this is why I see why people could be led to the neutral option -- after all, if you think there's a real problem there must be an explanation. And it can't proceed exactly as our present fundamental scientific theories are, as they pretty much just address one side of the dichotomy -- the supposed physical. So the explanation must involve something more neutral than our present ones do. So goes the reasoning at least.

    Sure. Well, being a neutral-proponent could be compatible with being either a skeptic or not about our capacity to explain things. I know you think it's irrational to suppose our explanation capacity ends. I suspect this view is compatible with the neutral one, and that indeed, those who endorse both would agree with you that ultimately we should have an explanation to the mind-physical problem in neutral terms or the neutral theory is to be discarded.
     
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  15. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    Well slightly amend to saying there should be no barrier to explaining the problem in neutral terms. I don't think Deutsch guarantees we'll find the explanation, we could die or even think and think with no success. But that there's no in principle barrier.
     
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  16. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    I guess I don't view any of this as any stranger than those scientists who strongly suspect general relativity cannot be right, because of issues with reconciling with quantum theory.
    I.e. they want a theory that unifies the two.

    The neutral theory seems more or less the same in motivation. That is, they see a big enough reason to doubt that our present knowledge could be right to warrant the apparently radical proposition.

    Now you could disagree that relativity/quantum are truly that hard to reconcile, and ditto for mind/physical. But surely IF you think they're hard to reconcile, the motivation is clear.
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Oh I see the confusion here. Take a look into the history of physics. What happened when Relativity replaced Newtonian Physics? One common misconception is that Einstein 'contradicted' Newton and effectively replaced his theory completely. However, this is not what happened. Relativity did not 'contradict' Newtonian Physics, but rather 'complement' it. What we now know is that the laws of motion described by Newton are not as universal as we had originally thought. Rather, they are a special subset of laws that belong to a much larger set. The set described by Relativity. What we now know is that Einstein did not 'replace' and 'contradict' Newton. What he actually did was discover a theory that is more fundamental. It explains everything that Newtonian Physics did, but so much more.

    Neutral Monism is not the same. It does not propose to explain everything that we already know and more. But rather, it proposes to contradict and replace what we know completely. This is a problem not just because it breaks the pattern of how human knowledge evolves. It also runs into the following problem: if everything we know is wrong, how is it that we can build planes, travel into space, create medicines, perform complex brain surgery, predict human behavior and so on. If we are wrong about everything we know, how is it we can even begin to build complex technologies that would otherwise fail?
     
    #17 wolly.green, Apr 26, 2018
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  18. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    Well, @wolly.green two things:

    - First, I think I was thinking you're saying emergent phenomena don't really exist, since they have no independent reality and are just "aspects" of the fundamental one -- an interpretive device. So for instance, if we discover Newtonian physics is emergent and quantum is underlying, I thought you'd say the entitles predicted by quantum exist but not macroscopic bodies.
    If you did hold to this, then every time we find fundamental physical reality is made of something else, more fundamental than before, we'd actually be replacing, not just complementing, our theories.

    - However, maybe you don't hold to that, which is fine -- STILL, I'd say that our science does seem to progress and actually show that our understanding was actually wrong not just needing complements. Like, for instance, many thought our empirical world is deterministic for the longest time based on their best guess on Newtonian physics. Quantum showed otherwise -- even if you hold to MWI/thus a global determinism, locally to our world, revisions had to be made to our predictive theories. Similarly, many seemed to think of time basically being the same everywhere. Relativity proposed revisions.
    Last, we may discover the fundamental particles constituting reality aren't what we thought/there are strings or whatever underlying all. Perhaps this doesn't bother you if you don't feel bothered by realizing what we're now describing are emergent phenomena, though if you're not bothered by that, I imagine maybe neutral-proponents would say our current physics describes emergent phenomena with the real underlying reality something else.

    - I think what's going on is that our ontology may be out of whack while our progress in gaining knowledge may still be a whole lot better off than if we were just doing pure nonsense. At the very minimum, the mathematics seems to work (so there's probably SOMETHING out there having the kinds of properties we're talking of in current science...in some sense to be determined) -- and so even if we need to revise our knowledge as to the implications of that math working, that doesn't mean our state of progress is quite the same as if we didn't have math that we're able to make work. Even if what we think underlies the math is quite surprising, it may be at the coarser levels we're currently describing, the apparent reality could be exactly as we observe.


    I guess in all this all I'm saying is I probably sympathize with the motivation for the neutral folk, even if I'm not at all sure it's the right way to go.
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    I can't give a full response to this since it would require me to write a whole 2000 word essay. So Ill just gloss over the bigger picture. The mistake here is to think that emergent entities do not exist. But this is wrong. The whole of Computer Science requires that "programs" exist, independent of the actual physical mediums they are instantiated in. Even though we usually think of programs as 'emerging' out of the physical hardware of actual computers, this does not mean that they do not have their own independent existence. To say 'programs' do not exist is equivalent to saying that the whole of Computer Science is wrong; which is a HUGE problem, as I explained above. Therefore emergence posses no problems here.

    What you have basically said is that our old theories are just wrong. End of discussion. I disagree with this completely. Including all of the examples you gave. To explain why would require an entire essay. So I think we have reached the end of our discussion. Unless, of course, you want to create another forum discussing the history of science? And then reintegrate that into this discussion?[/QUOTE]
     
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  20. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    To be clear -- I never held that they don't exist + said I thought you might, but not that you definitely were.

    I'm very confused. Saying we were wrong about some (even major) things doesn't mean we weren't right about anything? Even if some of the mistakes were big? As someone who holds to reason advancing by criticism/error, I'm not understanding why this would bother you this much. We fix our mistakes and move on? Like, say someone thinks "all empirical phenomena are deterministic." Well, the things they have in mind ARE. However, there are other things which aren't. They revise their theory to incorporate that. How is this not just reasonable progress?

    The only scenario I mentioned that I'd understand bothering you is the one where the mathematics works but we were wrong about what's underlying, since this probably smells to you of praaaaaaagmatism although it's not quite that bad because it isn't saying there IS no reality so much as we weren't right about what the underlying reality is, and that our models worked only in some sense. However, I stated that as a worst case scenario, hardly committing to the idea as definitely right or something. Also, it's definitely something I could imagine as the response a neutral type might give, which is why I mentioned it.

    Last, but not least, who is to say our scientific theories AREN'T describing mind-physical neutral entitles already in some sense? That is, entities a Russellian type would agree exist, but which they wouldn't agree are physical (in the sense of a philosophical position about the mind-physical divide)? Like perhaps the brain isn't physical, it's mind-physical neutral. And that we've gotten some of its properties right but they're emergent and we'll discover the more intrinsic ones later?

    In this last case, we'd NOT be discovering that we were totally wrong, UNLESS we committed to science discovering entities that aren't mind-physical neutral.

    There are just so many variations to go through before I'd totally rule this idea out.
     
    #20 charlatan, Apr 26, 2018
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