What Kind of Metaphysician Are You? | Page 3 | INFJ Forum

What Kind of Metaphysician Are You?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Ren, Feb 8, 2019.

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  1. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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  2. charlatan

    charlatan American Hot Fuzz

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    Well the square+ mat example is really just proverbial -- technically mat manufacturers hardly sit back trying to make perfectly square ones!

    However, the laws of physics at the fundamental scale (at the level physicalist ontology is actually concerned with) are mathematical, in the sense that people really do generally tend to believe the particles obey these laws.
    If you think they need a probabilistic component, either for quantum mechanics or to account for the errors in our measurements, that's fine too -- still mathematical properties.
    Similar remarks actually apply to the mat -- any aspect of our physical ontology whatsoever seems to involve some mathematical properties, i.e. structures which we can say describe the object, up to a precision we can also quantify.... even if the mat weren't square, we'd say we can measure in what way it deviates from a perfect square.

    The key is this doesn't say mathematical properties exhaust the physical properties -- there could easily be more -- whether that be qualia, or neutral monist or whatever.

    But basically, if physical objects *don't* have mathematical properties, it's hard to tell what properties they do have! It seems essential to our picture of the physical world so far at least that the properties can be expressed as quantities, even if we know our measurements have noise.
     
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  3. charlatan

    charlatan American Hot Fuzz

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    Put differently, perhaps our interactions with the world gaining measurements are naturally modeled by probabilistic means (i.e. things never *appear* to perfectly obey equations -- not that this is likely true but perhaps the mat IS square but our measurements never come quite right, ), just because of our epistemic situation of being placed squarely within the structure and modeling it as best as we can (we can't predict 100%). But ultimately, the mathematical structure and our place within it may actually account for that error/all indications seem to suggest that's quite reasonable. Kind of in the same way you can program a 'subject' (just a model of a knowledge-gaining entity) in a computer program to 'behave as if' they are uncertain, but the whole program from an outside view is deterministic and essentially just a huge mathematical structure.


    Of course, for other reasons one may simply reject Platonism. But I think it's a contentious enough view and is serious enough that it at least illustrates the kind of claim a physical-determining-mental thesis is trying to make.
     
    #43 charlatan, Feb 11, 2019
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  4. John K

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    You are all way beyond where I have to start from metaphysically. I have no way of getting outside my own mind with complete certainty - the world as I experience it is totally contained in my mind, and its features as I experience them are mental constructs within my own personal virtual reality. This even includes my own experience of myself - which is just another mental construct. If I stop here I am forced into solipsitic monism. It's no good appealing to the apparent continuity of the experience as a way of proving there is an external world, because time too is part of these mental constructs and there is no guarantee that my sensation of continuity is valid. Of course it can be argued that in the extreme of this perspective I can't be sure I even have a 'real head' somewhere for all this to take place in - that perspective would probably lock the door irrevocably on a solipsistic trap.

    Now I hasten to add that this is not a nice perspective, and it doesn't appeal to me in the least. It does however reflect my perceptions of the world, starting from when I was about 8 and concluding in my mid teens with some pretty dark mystical experiences. Even now, the world looks unreal to me, and I have to be careful if this sort of awareness suddenly springs itself on me when I'm driving.

    This is an intolerable world view, but one which is impossible to refute with logic and observation. I got myself out of the trap in a couple of ways - the one I will discuss here is that I simply took a conscious decision to accept that there is an external reality as an act of faith. That doesn't mean we don't all exist primarily inside our own VRs, but that they are synchronised very tightly (while we are awake and conscious) to the external world through our senses. Physics suggests that the contents of the external world are nothing much like we actually experience them though. Obvious examples are the qualia such as colour or taste which don't have a physical existence outside our minds, but I think this is true of all our experiences. Could our inner world be isomorphic to the outer world - that's not an easy question to answer, but they do appear to behave in a very similar way to each other thank goodness. In principle there may be nothing in reality that is beyond the powers of our minds to model - though clearly we cannot hold the whole of reality in our inner worlds, or even very much of it. My suspicion is that there are some aspects of being that cannot be modelled by our minds and are therefore beyond our powers of conception, but that is just a hunch.

    So where does this leave me? Although I seem to have a split between my inner world and assumed outer world, in practice I experience them as a single entity once having made that act of faith - my inner world engages in a sort of 'participation mystique' with the outer, which I experience as essentially alive as a result. I am pretty religious with a perspective rather similar to @Sandie33 - again personally I don't experience this in a separate dual existence, but as part of a single sphere of being.
     
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  5. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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    @John K have a read of the below. The attached link is to more. Self-perception is key to understanding the gates of acceptance. ;)

    Archetypes constitute the structure of the collective unconscious - they are psychic innate dispositions to experience and represent basic human behavior and specific situations. Thus mother-child relationship is governed by the mother archetype. Father-child - by the father archetype. Birth, death, power and failure are controlled by archetypes. The religious and mystique experiences are also governed by archetypes.

    The most important of all is the Self, which is the archetype of the Center of the psychic person, his/her totality or wholeness. The Center is made of the conjunction of consciousness and unconscious reached through the individuation process.

    The word "compensation" refers to what Jung believes to be the psychic version of homeostasis, that is the ability of the body to maintain a certain equilibrium and stability. Thus archetypes are related to the basic functioning of our psyche.

    The collective unconscious is an universal datum meaning that every human being is endowed with this psychic archetype-layer since his/her birth. One can not acquire this strata by education or other conscious efforts because it is innate.

    We may also describe it as a universal library of human knowledge, or the sage in man, the very transcendental wisdom that guides mankind.

    Jung stated that the religious life must be linked with the experience of the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Thus, God himself is experienced like an archetype on the psychic level.

    https://www.carl-jung.net/collective_unconscious.html
     
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  6. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    This makes perfect sense, but I guess the main bone of contention for me is why does this necessarily suggest the entailment of the mathematical by the physical? Let's return to our imperfectly square mat. I agree that its physical properties can be mathematically derived/quantified, with accounting for measurement error if required. But would you say that if physical objects of this kind did not exist, the abstract object called the square would not exist either? Besides, it seems to me that I can "entail" squareness by thinking about it alone. In fact, perhaps I can conjure up in my mind an actually perfect square (perhaps). And what about points? And numbers? The physical>mathematical entailment scheme does not completely convince me.
     
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  7. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    I tend to flirt with a version of this concept of indeterminist causality as a "causality of freedom" in OM. However, to deploy an argument similar to Chalmers' philosophical zombie against physicalism:

    Suppose that Sam is an android, completely devoid of free will, who is programmed precisely to have an 80% chance of punching back when punched, a 15% chance of tackling, and a 5% chance of fleeing. In this case, it looks like android-Sam fits the indeterminist causality model, and yet he lacks free will. Does this not suggest that free will is a further fact, i.e. not captured by the causal law in question? Or else, that the definition of free will here is fairly restrictive. And I'm not sure that Rickert has this restrictive definition in mind when he refers to it, based on the quotes you shared; especially this passage on the valuation of truth and meaning: "Only a theoretical (transcendental) subject who is not dependent on causality can take a position on the value of truth. Only when we grant the possibility of such a subject can we recognise something as being true and meaningful."

    This looks like the positing of the "pure I" in Fichte, in a thoroughly Kantian tradition indeed.
     
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  8. Icedream

    Icedream Again

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    What would you recommend for someone who lacks the self-awareness to identify themself?
     
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  9. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    Hi Ice! Do you mean that, ummmm, metaphysically? I'm not sure I understand your question! :)
     
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  10. Icedream

    Icedream Again

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    Metaphysically regarding self-awareness? Yes. Someone who doesn't understand themselves well enough to self-type.
     
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  11. charlatan

    charlatan American Hot Fuzz

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    Definitely wouldn't say that! It's absolutely only one direction. In fact, many mathematical objects are probably completely unrelated to the physical world. There are wacky objects that have no physical counterpart. They clearly would have to exist independent of the existence of any given physical object. It's just that it seems every physical object may conceivably wind up having a mathematical structure, though the mathematical structure may not exhaust its properties.

    And again, this is in perfect symmetry with the qualia case -- I'm *not* committed to qualia existing only if physical objects do. Rather, it seems if anything is the case, the reverse -- that the physical properties of our world may imply some qualia ones (e.g. brains => the respective mental states). There may also be a coherent notion of qualia which are weird and unrealized by any brain state.
     
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  12. John K

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    Sandie, I've just realised that I haven't replied to your very welcome thoughts. I think these conceptions of Jung's are very relevant - this is a good prompt to revisit them. My childhood and teenage experiences drove me inwards, and I don't really experience my inner world as being 'me' beyond a certain point, but as something that has a separate existence. Jung's model of the psyche gives some navigation aids but I didn't discover him till quite a few years later.
     
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  13. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    I honestly wouldn't recommend finding the solution in metaphysics, that's more likely to lead to escapism than anything else. Maybe some ethical works or self-help stuff?

    You could have a look at Marcus Aurelius's Meditations.
     
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    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    I'm watching Better Call Saul at the moment -- I don't know if you know this show, but in it, one of the characters (Chuck) claims to suffer from electromagnetic_hypersensitivity. At various points it is revealed that his condition is not physiological but related to mental illness. Yet he is clearly shown to feel acute pain when exposed to electronic devices, ending up in hospital several times. I know this is a a fictional show, but it's a good illustration of the idea that it's possible to feel pain without the corresponding physical activity in the body. Which would further suggest that conscious events are not identical to physical events.

    Coming from a totally different philosophical place, Saul Kripke makes an interesting argument for the possibility of pain without physical stimulation within his similarity account of modal illusions. Dunno if you're familiar with it.
     
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  15. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    I have two possible objections to suggest to you:

    First, it seems to follow from your metaphysical position that Hitler could not have done otherwise than exterminate 6 million Jews. Not only that, but given that he could not have done otherwise, being the slave of his past and genetic endowment, he should not be held morally responsible for it. What he did was not really "immoral". Would you be willing to countenance that further position?

    Secondly, your position seems to commit you to the idea that, for example, Beethoven's composition of the 9th Symphony was completely the product of his past and genes. Does this not sound intuitively absurd? I am wondering, not affirming anything.
     
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  16. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    I see where you are getting at, but how about a pluralist that distinguishes existence from "ontological basic-ness"? They might say: gravity exists, but is not ontologically basic. Similarly, natural selection exists -- it is the case -- but is not ontologically basic. In that way, they would not go against the best explanations of reality, but simply suggest that gravity, natural selection, etc. are "grounded" in more fundamental substances.

    I'm not a pluralist but I'm guessing this would be a possible pluralist answer. That being said, a reductionist pluralist would indeed run the risk of committing to a framework that is perpetually in danger of being challenged by new scientific explanations that cannot be reduced to its basic elements, I agree with you on that.
     
  17. cathylynn

    cathylynn Newbie

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    beethoven an hitler are equal in human value, but different in social value. responsibility is a useful concept that fits into my equation under past experiences. seeming responsibility works.

    as evangelist john bradshaw wisely intoned, "there but for the grace of god, go i." none of us are any better than anyone else. given certain circumstances, we would do the same odious things. if there is a heaven, everyone goes. hitler included, though, he might spend the first six million years washing jewish feet and loving doing so.

    also, my philosophy is based on reality whether or not that takes me into unpleasant territory.

    i hate trump as president, but feel sorry for him as a human being. narcissists experience severe emotional neglect in childhood and spend the rest of their lives trying to fill an unfillable void.

    my response to my realization is to try to love everyone. some folks, out of a need for my personal safety, have to be loved from afar. that may involve anything up to imprisonment for people with histories of repeat violence. no death penalty, though. no one deserves it. 90% of criminal justice PhDs say it's not a deterrent. it's expensive (more than life in prison). and it's carried out more on black people that commit the same crimes as white people who get lesser sentences - it's racist.
     
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  18. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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    Quite alright John. I can relate sincerely. I'm just glad it had relevance.
    I've been caught in quite a stir here and haven't had the opportunity to send you a multi-questioning essay on that other topic we were discussing. ;)
    Have a beautiful evening, and we'll catch up soon. ♡
     
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  19. charlatan

    charlatan American Hot Fuzz

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    Sure (pain without C-fibers I think), not everyone agrees with Kripke's ideas on this but I do more or less, but basically they only show that cruder forms of physicalism saying you can't have mental states without physical states in some other possible world are false (not the weaker thesis that in *our* world, all the mental facts happen to follow from the physical ones). Things about fictional shows, which usually reveal the coherence of an idea vs its empirical actuality, tend to tell us that mental facts are not just physical facts, just as mathematical properties can be non-physical. We could imagine a nonphysical world where the structures of our physics describe the world just as well, but the deeper underlying nature is different.

    Physicalism of our world minimally requires that every mental fact about our world followed for free once the physical facts were fixed, not that, in another world, there couldn't have been additional mental facts -- and that is a very weak thesis and thus very hard to refute! It is compatible with other worlds with physical beings like us but with insane evil demons with no bodies floating around. Physicalism would not be true of that world in those cases, but the possibility of such demons doesn't refute it for our world.

    What most such minimal views have in common is that they suggest physical things are radically more interesting than what physical science has told us so far.
    Kind of like saying, akin to the shock of quantum mechanics, there are bound to be more shocks where we realize how far down the rabbithole physical things go!

    (Of course, some go all the way and are physicalist panpsychists, like Galen Strawson -- who believe the deeper nature of the physical is consciousness, not just the mathematical models we build. This is physicalism only in the sense of believing the world consists of what our physical sciences describe, but it's the sort of thing a lot of the brute-force-scientist-types will be very uncomfortable with, ones that want to just say consciousness is basically nothing more than a fact science already captures with its usual tool)


    The basic point is there are 'liberal physicalists' who may think the world consists of what is described by our physical science, but that our physical science only uncovers some of said stuff's properties.
     
    #59 charlatan, Feb 14, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
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  20. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    Do you mean that physical science uncovers only some of said stuff's properties, but those liberal physicalists still commit to the view that the uncovered properties are physical all the same?
     
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