Debate and Discussion

cultural reality Vs Objective reality
ozoneocean at 9:34AM, Nov. 16, 2010
(online)
posts: 24,940
joined: 1-2-2006
Haha! I hope the thread title isn't confusing. :)

There's actual reality, then there're are things that people only believe are true so they make it true because they believe in it.
That's just a normal part of culture and civilisation, and we couldn't exist without behaving that way, but it's interesting to deconstruct.


An obvious example is of course religion.
-There's the mythology, that's really just mythology (nothing wrong with that), then there's the philosophy, the lore, the institutions, the ritual, the history, the artifacts, the buildings etc, and people get confused about which is the “real” part.
Interesting when you realise what it actually is- hint, not the mythology.

Another is "art".
- There are works of art, then there is the social and financial value of those works of art…
What do you think a Monet is really worth? Objectively, not much. It really is just the sum of its parts. Even historically, Monets really aren't that significant. But culturally, they've become priceless, due to a whole lot of factors.
And people will stare at the Mona Lisa and think they see something profound and godly… Objectively that's nonsense, but there's so much cultural baggage surrounding that painting that it's gained that sort of value, and simply because of the belief and reputation that mundane painting becomes something much more than it actually is.

Finance and economics is another example…
Simply, items have real values based on rarity and the work needed to construct or acquire them. We have layer upon layer of systems and mechanisms working on top of that, all quantifiable and understandable (when looked at separately), but when taken as a whole markets are mainly influenced by belief- convince people there's a payoff around the corner and stockprices will go up etc. Tech stocks were golden in the late 90s even though many of the companies were actually worthless in reality simply because people were in love with the idea of tech stocks, which in turn actually MADE the worthless companies really worth millions.



And you can apply that to laws, moral codes, social conventions and many other things…
But I think the point is that even though you can point out that something doesn't have a basis in objective reality, that doesn't actually mater because cultural reality is just as real.
-Whatever the mythology says, religion still has a real influence on people's lives, the rest of culture and history.
-You'll still make a fortune from valuable art.
-Your company may be junk but investors can still get rich out of it.
-Logically a lot of laws and social conventions don't make sense, but you'll still go to jail or be ostracised for breaking them. And so on.
-A music style or a clothing fashion may be simply horrible or crazily impractical, but you can still become popular for liking it or dressing that way, whatever.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
ozoneocean at 10:21AM, Nov. 16, 2010
(online)
posts: 24,940
joined: 1-2-2006
bravo1102
But I could be wrong.
You are. It's pretty obvious if you read the post ;)

Art is a perfect example. There is a massive gulf between the objective worth of a piece of art and that agreed on by the society within which it exists. The society (people's agreed belief) creates the value, not the artifact itself- which to another society would be worthless.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
Abt_Nihil at 11:40AM, Nov. 16, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
I think bravo1102 had the right strategy, but the wrong idea. It's not cultural reality and objective reality which are one and the same, but it's that value is a part of cultural reality from the get-go. There is no “objective value”. What you seem to mean is something like material value, but material value is a product of supply and demand. Something cultural. Thus, I think there is a chasm between different forms of value, rather than between realities.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
ozoneocean at 5:12PM, Nov. 16, 2010
(online)
posts: 24,940
joined: 1-2-2006
Abt_Nihil
I think bravo1102 had the right strategy, but the wrong idea. It's not cultural reality and objective reality which are one and the same, but it's that value is a part of cultural reality from the get-go. There is no “objective value”. What you seem to mean is something like material value, but material value is a product of supply and demand. Something cultural. Thus, I think there is a chasm between different forms of value, rather than between realities.
Not really…. you're not really looking at the spirit of what I'm saying- which you'd be able to do better if you looked at it in relation to the other examples: religion, finance, social conventions, laws etc.

A large part of meaning and value (or whatever term you want to use for the differences) is more of a cultural construction, more belief, agreed understanding etc, than intrinsic.
There IS divide, even if it's sometimes just degrees of the same thing (value of materials VS value of a certain artist's works), and it's quite interesting to see which proportion is which.

And I'm rather pleased somehow that this does not come off as completely obvious :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
bravo1102 at 6:31PM, Nov. 16, 2010
(online)
posts: 3,295
joined: 1-21-2008
Anything is worth exactly what you think it is worth, no more and no less. Financial belief systems often end up being a popular delusion and so much madness.

As is religion. In and of itself it has no intrinsic worth only what is attached to it. Strip away the belief and it's all smoke and mirrors and the popular delusion is no more than a pile of tulip bulbs or a South Sea Bubble or tech stocks…

It is what it is and that is another reason the sage laughs. I have got to stop re-reading all that Taoist stuff…

Attaching meaning and worth to something that is really empty is one of greatest follies of our species, but it's so much fun to watch.


last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
imshard at 6:38PM, Nov. 16, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,961
joined: 7-26-2007
I think you hit on something there Oz.

Value is a function of scarcity.
While the availability of an item is subject to perception, so is everything else too. That seems to be the crux of what I gleaned from your argument: perception.

Businesses around the world have thrived on the difference between perceived and actual value since the inception of commerce.
In an increasingly post-scarcity society this is starting to break-down as vendors continue drive profit margins up to a point where it breaks with credibility.
You find a different brand of this nonsense in developing countries where real goods (like food, shelter, and medicine) are still valued over service industries, and designer or digital goods. Items whose selling price is very high compared to a relatively low cost of production.

Meaning is arbitrary and applies differently from person to person defying attempts at categorization. Some people would give their lives to save a rain forest or ancient artifact or a way of life or that Monet painting. Others would think those exact same things are trivial or not cross their minds at all nor care if they burned in a fire. While things assigned a certain meaning have value to some they have a different (including a possible zero) value to others.
Don't be a stick in the mud traditionalist! Support global warming!

Tech Support: The Comic!! Updates Somedays!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
ayesinback at 5:15AM, Nov. 17, 2010
(offline)
posts: 2,003
joined: 8-23-2010
The theory of supply / demand is a sound economic theory only in conjunction with the Maslow theory. If someone is dying of hunger and receives the Mona Lisa instead of bread, do you think they'll value the artwork or see if it as any nutritional value?

Also, I think we might be limiting the discussion by addressing only material goods. Ideas have had more value for some individuals than any amount of goods, people who have been willing to die for those ideals — or live for them (Siddhartha comes to mind).

And sometimes, one school of thought has greater value than other schools, like science versus folk lore, or intuition versus logic. That is generally a cultural bias. For example, I usually start my day seeing a meteorologist often fail to predict the weather for the day instead of listening to a naturalist forecasting the weather. But then there's not much choice because my local channels don't air the learning of naturalists as daily fare.
under new management
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:14AM
Abt_Nihil at 8:08AM, Nov. 17, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
ozoneocean
…I'm rather pleased somehow that this does not come off as completely obvious :)
Well, I do agree with your main point: That much of our reality is based on what people believe. That beliefs influence reality.

What I reject is the notion that intentional terms (value, meaning etc.) have any foothold in some sort of “objective reality” in the first place:

ozoneocean
A large part of meaning and value (or whatever term you want to use for the differences) is more of a cultural construction, more belief, agreed understanding etc, than intrinsic.
There IS divide, even if it's sometimes just degrees of the same thing (value of materials VS value of a certain artist's works), and it's quite interesting to see which proportion is which.
There is clearly a divide, in the sense that one and the same object can have different values in different contexts (or from different “viewpoints” ) but this divide lies between different viewpoints, rather than between subjective and objective reality. There is no “intrinsic” meaning or value. To come into being, meaning and value need an object AND a person (or several - probably a whole society).
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
ayesinback at 8:27AM, Nov. 17, 2010
(offline)
posts: 2,003
joined: 8-23-2010
Abt_Nihil
There is clearly a divide, in the sense that one and the same object can have different values in different contexts (or from different “viewpoints” ) but this divide lies between different viewpoints, rather than between subjective and objective reality. There is no “intrinsic” meaning or value. To exist, meaning and value need an object AND a person (or several - probably a whole society).
I don't think so.

An object, tangible or otherwise, can have an absolute value, possibly termed a core, or base, or intrinsic value. With bread, it's the satisfaction of hunger. With art, it would be the vent for an artist's expression. Value beyond the absolute value then requires the additional viewpoints. And great value is reached when the absolute value becomes near meaningless and an object is desired only because others also desire it. At that point it's no longer just an object but becomes an icon.

It's interesting that you postulate that an object cannot have its own value because it needs to be appreciated. So with no one around, a tree does not make a noise when it falls in the forest?

under new management
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:14AM
Abt_Nihil at 11:26AM, Nov. 17, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
ayesinback
An object, tangible or otherwise, can have an absolute value, possibly termed a core, or base, or intrinsic value. With bread, it's the satisfaction of hunger. With art, it would be the vent for an artist's expression. Value beyond the absolute value then requires the additional viewpoints.
Your argument remains a self-defeater until you manage to NOT require a subjective viewpoint to define value. Your examples can't show what you'd like them to show.

ayesinback
It's interesting that you postulate that an object cannot have its own value because it needs to be appreciated. So with no one around, a tree does not make a noise when it falls in the forest?
Hold your horses. A falling tree has nothing to do with value. I was clearly talking about intentional phenomena (and I explicitly said that in an earlier post.) Intentional phenomena require a subject. A mind. Value necessarily requires being valued. That does not mean that there isn't objectivity, or objective reality.

EDIT:
Since Ochitsukanai's post below reveals him to be a thorough real-world skeptic, I'll once again stress that I'm not. If this thread would require me to defend the existence of a real (objective) world, I would. I would violently oppose everything Ochitsukanai wrote after the “tree” (= the 2nd) quote. But I completely agree with what he writes after the “value” (= the 1st) quote. But given the context of this thread, my only point is this: It doesn't matter one bit whether you believe in objective reality, or whether you think that our epistemic access to it is reliable or not; it is completely independent from the point that value is not constituted by objective reality alone.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
Ochitsukanai at 11:33AM, Nov. 17, 2010
(online)
posts: 979
joined: 6-11-2008
I never get to really use any of the stuff I have to learn, so maybe my post is tl;dr!
ayesinback
An object, tangible or otherwise, can have an absolute value, possibly termed a core, or base, or intrinsic value.
I don't think so, because any value attributed to it is subjective! Even utilitarian values like the ones you chose are subjective.
ayesinback
So with no one around, a tree does not make a noise when it falls in the forest?
I think it's more that if it does make a sound, we can't know it.

There could be objective reality; it can't be disproven, but one can't know it directly. We're imprisoned from the start by deceivable senses. Plus, the moment we write or speak or think of something we've used a word to signify it; an arbitrary signifier, modified by countless other signifiers, carrying a meaning that changes over time and has different connotations for all!

We can't have a viewpoint that exists outside culture, language, and perception, so we cannot know anything “in itself.” English majors like me would have nothing to do if everything were so straightforward. D:

Always, I wanna be with mew, and make believe with mew
and live in harmony harmony oh nyan
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:20PM
ayesinback at 12:08PM, Nov. 17, 2010
(offline)
posts: 2,003
joined: 8-23-2010
Ochitsukanai
ayesinback
An object, tangible or otherwise, can have an absolute value, possibly termed a core, or base, or intrinsic value.
I don't think so, because any value attributed to it is subjective! Even utilitarian values like the ones you chose are subjective.
I did attribute values to the two examples. But I suggest that they have value because they exist, even if it's not the values I attributed. Perhaps that's the core value: existence. It gets back to defining terms: is an objective value a “universally-defined” value? In that case, there is no objective value—almost everything will present as a positive to one or a negative to another. And some would refute the actual existence of an object. Does that means it doesn't exist? I don't think so.

Ochitsukanai
ayesinback
So with no one around, a tree does not make a noise when it falls in the forest?
I think it's more that if it does make a sound, we can't know it.

There could be objective reality; it can't be disproven, but one can't know it directly. We're imprisoned from the start by deceivable senses. Plus, the moment we write or speak or think of something we've used a word to signify it; an arbitrary signifier, modified by countless other signifiers, carrying a meaning that changes over time and has different connotations for all!

We can't have a viewpoint that exists outside culture, language, and perception, so we cannot know anything “in itself.”
I believe that to be true, to a point. Identification necessitates classification. But if viewpoints cannot exist beyond the established (which is culture, language, perception), then how could we ever have new thoughts or new discoveries?
under new management
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:14AM
Ochitsukanai at 9:21PM, Nov. 17, 2010
(online)
posts: 979
joined: 6-11-2008
ayesinback
It gets back to defining terms: is an objective value a “universally-defined” value?
I thought that's what we meant. But while it seems solid to say that something existing can be defined by existing, it's tough when it comes to abstract things, or concepts that in one language have a word to describe them and are thus clear but are unfamiliar elsewhere.
ayesinback
But if viewpoints cannot exist beyond the established (which is culture, language, perception), then how could we ever have new thoughts or new discoveries?
Oh nooo, it's not that we must exist as according to some established view! It's just that all of these things influence everything we learn and our modes of thought. Words and concepts always undergo slippage of meaning as they modify and are modified by countless others, so language is, theoretically, infinitely generative. Even things that seem unchanging, like classical literature, are forever being perceived in new ways by different schools!

We repeat conflicts and archetypes in literature, for example, but with perspectives that could come only from the work's era, from those surroundings, from the individual who creates the text. Others through time read it from perspectives that can be only theirs; it is always different. If it were all objective and unchanging, how sterile! But with slippage and recombination, there's infinite creativity. I think that not being able to know objective reality is what allows for creativity…

Always, I wanna be with mew, and make believe with mew
and live in harmony harmony oh nyan
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:20PM
ozoneocean at 9:35PM, Dec. 1, 2010
(online)
posts: 24,940
joined: 1-2-2006
People have taken this in a more interesting direction that what was originally intended. :)

My idea was along the lines of the dichotomy between socially constructed norms and those constructed by the individual…

-You know, like everyone says that any unusual meat always tastes like chicken, no matter what it is, despite any logic and reasoning to the contrary… but if you actually go out and have a bite of dolphin, cobra, lion, seagul etc you'll find out differently.

-Or the fact that “women are terrified of mice”, and will leap on chairs and scram if they see one… also hyperventilate and faint.
There's nothing about mice that is inherently scary… There's nothing about human females that makes them instinctively scared of mice either, so why do so many people act this one out?
…You read about it in books, see it on TV etc, couple with a natural aversion to something small and scurrying and suddenly we have a consensus reality where women screaming about mice is perfectly normal behaviour.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
Abt_Nihil at 9:25AM, Dec. 2, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
ozoneocean
My idea was along the lines of the dichotomy between socially constructed norms and those constructed by the individual…
Well, maybe you'd like to rephrase your argument (if it is one) in a more specific way? At first, the discussion was about norms and values (the normative realm), but your latest examples don't seem to be about “norms” (in a normative sense) so much as about perception and judgment (which might be cultural norms in a sense of “standards” ). Given that what you're getting it is more aptly described by these terms, then my reply would be:

It's no surprise that knowledge can influence perception, and most knowledge is culturally mediated. In some way, you learn cultural “norms” (= standard ways of behavior), and they make you perceive things in a specific way.

I'm still not quite sure what's so strange about that :D In fact, I believe cultural determinism to be a much stronger force than, say, genetic determinism. It is often discussed how there can be no “free will” because we're determined by our genes, our instincts or other “natural” forces. Yet, I feel that mankind is most extremely limitated by their culture! (That's also being reflected in some sciences today - the “being determined naturally”-fad is currently being replaced by the “being determined culturally”-fad.)
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
ozoneocean at 9:32AM, Dec. 2, 2010
(online)
posts: 24,940
joined: 1-2-2006
Abt_Nihil
I'm still not quite sure what's so strange about that :D
Really?

I do find it strange and I stick to the 2realities version, because it describes how vast I feel the gulf can sometimes be.

I won't say that you're wrong in not seeing things the same way I do though. There are more opinions on things than there are people. :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
Abt_Nihil at 9:39AM, Dec. 2, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
I just edited my post while you're replying, so some of the following may be a bit redundant:

Even if there are “two realities”, why should we assume that one influences us in a more direct or, less inescapable, way than the other?

The “two realities” stance IS quite popular in many ontological explanations. mind/matter, body/soul, descriptive/normative, etc. While I'm not completely against them, I think they are often misleading - namely in the sense I just expressed: You'd assume that one of these “realities” is more fundamental, and you'd be puzzled about how we could ever be influenced or determined by the other.

The entire history of philosophy can be told as a history of overcoming dualism(s) :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
imshard at 1:07PM, Dec. 3, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,961
joined: 7-26-2007
Alright now, philosophical debates aside there is only one world and one reality. The gullibility and predictability of human folly can't change the facts of the human condition or the state of our environment and resources. Social conventions, beliefs, and behaviors are completely subjective to their circumstances and go out the window in the face of a clear and prescient need or danger. Objective or cultural or however you want to define it. It comes down to how people choose to view and interact with the world either willfully or ignorantly and how closely those perceptions and behaviors align to situational facts.
Don't be a stick in the mud traditionalist! Support global warming!

Tech Support: The Comic!! Updates Somedays!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
blindsk at 2:31PM, Dec. 3, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
As an aside, I think it's worth noting that there is one concept that will never be perceived differently whether through cultural or objective means (and this entire topic does a wonderful job of supporting this): that of value itself. No matter what sort of cognitive being you are dealing with, humans or aliens, the concept of value will never change! That value we assign to objects, people, idea, it's all a fundamental, universal understanding. The ever popular philosophical argument that supports this: imagine a circle with corners. You can't! Imagine a world where the “1” doesn't actually have a value of “1” (meaning there is no concept of 1). Before you get a headache, I'll save you the trouble - you can't imagine it!

A friend of mine studying philosophy told me about this and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so I wanted to share. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
Abt_Nihil at 4:37PM, Dec. 3, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
imshard
Alright now, philosophical debates aside there is only one world and one reality. The gullibility and predictability of human folly can't change the facts of the human condition or the state of our environment and resources. Social conventions, beliefs, and behaviors are completely subjective to their circumstances and go out the window in the face of a clear and prescient need or danger. Objective or cultural or however you want to define it. It comes down to how people choose to view and interact with the world either willfully or ignorantly and how closely those perceptions and behaviors align to situational facts.
For some reason, people always seem to think that pragmatism and naturalism aren't forms of philosophy… @_@

blindsk
As an aside, I think it's worth noting that there is one concept that will never be perceived differently whether through cultural or objective means (and this entire topic does a wonderful job of supporting this): that of value itself. No matter what sort of cognitive being you are dealing with, humans or aliens, the concept of value will never change! That value we assign to objects, people, idea, it's all a fundamental, universal understanding. The ever popular philosophical argument that supports this: imagine a circle with corners. You can't! Imagine a world where the “1” doesn't actually have a value of “1” (meaning there is no concept of 1). Before you get a headache, I'll save you the trouble - you can't imagine it!

A friend of mine studying philosophy told me about this and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so I wanted to share. :)
First off, the term “value” is in itself ambiguous. So, even if you were to prove that “1” necessarily has a value of “1”, it wouldn't be proven that value is some sort of universal concept. I believe that significant chunks of the discussion in this thread have to do with not having defined a common use of the concept “value” properly.

Secondly, what you can imagine is certainly different from what's real. A caveman couldn't have imagined quantum science, and I couldn't have imagined anybody would actually vote for the guy who is now German foreign minister.

Thirdly, your examples don't depend so much on the boundaries of our imagination, but they are based on logical, conceptual analyses: For instance, a circle is defined as a geometric figure that has no corners. Thus, “a circle that has corners” is a contradiction. It follows analytically from the definition of the term (or concept). However, what's “real” is a matter of empirical knowledge. Most philosophical theories make a fundamental distinction between analytical/logical facts and empirical facts. That you can't imagine a contradiction doesn't say anything about the objects used in the sentence which forms the contradiction. It works with any sentence of the form “P and not-P”, where P stands for any binary property (i.e. “I am tall and not tall” ).

Finally, to say that “the 1” does or doesn't have the value of 1 is close to being a meaningless sentence. That is why it's hard to imagine. “The 1” is a meaningless expression. It either refers to a platonic idea of “1” (and believe me, you wouldn't want to appeal to platonic ideas to make this trick, since platonism is pretty much at odds with common-sense), or it refers to no object at all. Mathematical objects are not real objects. Knowing what 1 is means to know the mathematical rules which guide your use of the number 1. It doesn't mean acquaintance with an object called “1”. And more specifically, assigning the value of “1” to “the 1” is paradoxical, since “the 1” isn't an object, but a value to begin with. Again, you can do this little trick with pretty much any term. Imagine a human being that isn't human. Imagine a table that isn't a table. Etc. It's based on a fundamental confusion of what constitutes an object and what constitutes a property. Except if you're Plato, then it all makes sense ^_^

(And since you mentioned your friend: I have actually studied philosophy myself, in case that supports my argument :D)
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
blindsk at 6:24PM, Dec. 3, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
Yeah, I feel like you're thinking in terms of definitions, how we as humans define certain things. I actually mixed up the circle analogy: rephrased, try to imagine a round square. Maybe that will hit my point better?

Obviously we could alternate the definition of one to be two, and if this was done in the caveman era, it would make sense today. I'm talking about deep down, in our subconscious, there is no other way to realize what “one” means to you. It doesn't exist in our universe, and the same thing would be the case in an alternate universe. We as humans aren't assigning values, it just is “one.” I have those quotations there because I'm not referring to the number 1, but the way we perceive it. It could be “watermelon,” “box,” or simply “blah.”

So if an object is sitting there, we will define a value for it. One might say, but is that object really there? That's not what I'm getting at. In our minds we see this object and give it a value. If we see a single entity, we might refer to it as “one.” In another universe, that object is still “one” thing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
Abt_Nihil at 5:04PM, Dec. 4, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
blindsk
I actually mixed up the circle analogy: rephrased, try to imagine a round square. Maybe that will hit my point better?
Why do you think that's better? As I mentioned, your argument will “work” with any object that has certain properties following analytically; being “not square” follows analytically (logically) from “being a circle”. Being “not small” follows from “being tall”, etc. The logical form would be “imagine a P which is not P” (where P stands for a property, or a noun defined by that very property).

blindsk
Obviously we could alternate the definition of one to be two, and if this was done in the caveman era, it would make sense today. I'm talking about deep down, in our subconscious, there is no other way to realize what “one” means to you. It doesn't exist in our universe, and the same thing would be the case in an alternate universe. We as humans aren't assigning values, it just is “one.” I have those quotations there because I'm not referring to the number 1, but the way we perceive it. It could be “watermelon,” “box,” or simply “blah.”

So if an object is sitting there, we will define a value for it. One might say, but is that object really there? That's not what I'm getting at. In our minds we see this object and give it a value. If we see a single entity, we might refer to it as “one.” In another universe, that object is still “one” thing.
Again, I believe this argument to be deeply flawed because of a bunch of fundamental misconceptions. To get to the bottom of this, we'd need a common terminological ground. The way your argument is stated, I'm tempted to debate every single sentence. I'm known for some lengthy forum posts, but for obvious reasons, even I won't do that in a forum post :D
In a nutshell: The core idea of it seems to be some platonistic theory of ideas (and not “values” ). Saying that a chair is a chair doesn't mean that you've assigned any value to any object. “Being a chair” is not a value. Correct me if I'm wrong, but what you seem to be getting at is the identification of an object.
And this is where Plato comes into play: He believed that in order to identify objects ("to perceive a chair as a chair“ ) we'd need access to eternal ideas (”the idea of the chair“ ). These ideas would have to be universal, eternal, and completely mind-independent (that's what I think you mean by referring to ”alternate universes" ).
The point is, Plato's theory is completely absurd :D There simply is no eternal, unchanging, mind-independent idea of “a chair”. There is no "universal chair-ness“, just as there is no ”universal one-ness“.
Your ”proof" of the validity of this theory is exploiting a simple logical property of language: the fact that contradictions don't exist. The term “a P that is not P” does not refer to anything. That is why you cannot “imagine” it.

EDIT:
Sorry if I'm completely misconstruing your argument. I've read it a few times, but I just can't seem to make any sense of it other than the one I just debated. It has to do with your using a bunch of ambiguous terms/concepts at once. “Value”, “subconscious”, “imagination”, “alternate universes” - the way you're using these concepts seems to cloud the argument rather than illuminate it. Maybe we could get rid of some of these terms? Strip it down, streamline it?
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
blindsk at 6:23PM, Dec. 4, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
Abt_Nihil
The term “a P that is not P” does not refer to anything. That is why you cannot “imagine” it.

Yeah, I apologize. I never studied philosophy, so I probably am having difficulty conveying just what my grad friend so eloquently put.

The P example is perfect to draw out my point - we can imagine a stable world where every property of the P does not exist. Maybe it's not pronounceable due to our anatomy, maybe there is not letter or symbol that represents that “sound.” Essentially, we can toss it out. Obviously this is a rather mundane example compared to things ozone brought up, but I'm banking on it reinforcing my argument.

But going back to the concept of “one,” can there be a world where this doesn't exist? Sure, we can swap out definitions and labels all we want, but there will always be “one.” I don't mean using it to identify any particular sort of object, person, what have you, but its intrinsic numerical representation. If I want to measure anything in this imagined world, I'd have to use “one.” I could assign to a value of 0.5 and start from there, but doesn't change the fact that there still is that “one” (again, note the quotations, I'm not talking about the actual number 1 here). Unlike that P where we could toss it out of existence and the universe wouldn't implode. I guess that's why there's that popular saying about math being the “true universal language.” Anyway, is this starting to sound ridiculous? Well, that's the point. I brought it up because it's the one definite thing that does not have differences between cultural and objective reality as per the topic.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
Abt_Nihil at 5:01AM, Dec. 5, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
Ah, thanks for clarifying. I think I see your point now. Your point wasn't that we can't imagine a world where “a P that is not P” exists (as I pointed out, that doesn't prove anything, other than a fundamental property of logics), but that we can imagine a world in which any P we know from our world wouldn't exist, except for the concept of “one”, is that correct?

The argument would be something like this:

If a universe exists, objects exist in it. If any objects exists, it can be identified. If it can be identified, it can be assigned the numerical value of “1”.

That still leaves open the question how you'd like to interpret this argument, though. My preferred interpretation would be to claim that the term “an object” presupposes numerical identification, so again it would prove something about logic rather than about reality. If there was a universe completely devoid of beings who are equipped with the capacities for cognition - for thought -, I don't think it would make a lot of sense to talk about objects.

Also, on this interpretation, it wouldn't be the concept of “1” that is fundamental, but the concept of “object” (or “entity” ).

And lastly, we shouldn't forget that mathematics were invented at some point (for instance, the concept of “0” was imported from Arabia, if I remember correctly). In a quite pragmatic sense, there was no “1” before it was invented (although there certainly were objects!).
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
blindsk at 1:51AM, Dec. 6, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
Abt_Nihil
Ah, thanks for clarifying. I think I see your point now. Your point wasn't that we can't imagine a world where “a P that is not P” exists (as I pointed out, that doesn't prove anything, other than a fundamental property of logics), but that we can imagine a world in which any P we know from our world wouldn't exist, except for the concept of “one”, is that correct?

You know what, reading back on this, I almost feel like I was trying to affirm your argument anyway. The fact that my examples are supposed to prove that it's a logical impossibility.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
Abt_Nihil at 6:52AM, Dec. 6, 2010
(offline)
posts: 1,226
joined: 8-7-2007
blindsk
You know what, reading back on this, I almost feel like I was trying to affirm your argument anyway. The fact that my examples are supposed to prove that it's a logical impossibility.
Okay. Then the point would be: The fact that logical contradictions have no real-life equivalents isn't something which should surprise us :-)
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved