Non-phyisical abstractions: are they real or not real?

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Non-phyisical abstractions: are they real or not real?

Post by -1- » August 31st, 2017, 8:46 pm

Are non-physical abstractions real or not real?

I am asking this not to make a point or a claim, but because I am not sure about the answer, and I want to learn from the forum what NPAs (non-physical abstractions) really are.

This could be considered the end of the opening post, so I end it here.


But to those who want to know where my need to search for this answer comes from, here's some pontification:

Realism teaches that the mind perceives reality (physical reality) and builds a construct of it and relates back to the physical reality based on how his construct functions, how his construct predicts outcomes of reactions by reality to the person's actions.

The construct is never accurate, according to the realists.

The construct depends on the impulses one receives from reality.

But because reality is not accurately perceived, there may be things, components, and functions and functionality in the construct that is not in reality; such as a conceptual god, or the process of evolution, or electrons. Conversely, it may also be true that reality has elements that the individual's mind's construct lacks: God, evolutionary process, electrons.

I asked one of the users on this forum, how one would classify conceptual thought, or nonphysical abstractions, such as thoughts, in order to fit in this general picture of physical reality vs mental construct of reality.

My problem is this: Reality I think of as objects, and laws that the objects move about according to. The mental image of reality I think of as a completely non-matter thing, it is a concept. A non-physical abstraction.

But how does the non-physical abstraction of the mind relate to things in the real world that are not physical, but also non-physical abstractions? According to our model, the concept of reality in our mind is based on perceptions, such as sight, smell, taste, touch, heat sensing, etc. How can our mind perceive things that are not transmitted by the senses? well, it can understand descriptions of relationships, I guess... if the mind is capable of creating abstractions by itself, to create rules of how reality apparently works, then it must be able to understand non physical abstractions, as well, as it its entire existence is non-physical abstraction.

A little bit like one eating raw food, and relying on his own digestion to turn it into biological energy to make it useful for him; as opposed to eating such food, which has already been prepared, to preempt the need for some steps in the digestive process, and can be digested starting where the food preparation left it off.

That is, if the human's digestion will digest F food making it into F1, then into F2, then into F3, then into energy, then if the human eats food that is in the F3 state, then he only needs one step to convert this food into energy, instead of three or four steps when he eats raw food.

Similarly: a person may take only physical clues from his surroundings, and process them with his mind; but a smarter person will also listen to already established truths about the objects, which established truths take the form of sentences, thoughts, and other non-physical abstractions, and learn it instead of painfully and meticulously developing them himself with his mind.

So the basic premise which I need to accept is that non-physical abstractions can also be learned from reality, and be built into one's own internal model of reality.

All of a sudden, the question whether non-physical abstractions are real or not, is changed into a
different question: are non-physical abstractions such things that can be picked up by the mind within the constraints of realism. And the answer is, obviously, a resounding yes.

The universe, if you subtract all humans from it, and subtract god if you are a theist, and all other sentient minds, is void of non-physical abstractions. It is the mind that creates non-physical abstractions, and these can be traded and transmitted from one mind to another via the medium of reality.

Thanks, guys and ladies, I answered my own question.
"You can always live without a lover, but you can't love without a liver."

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Re: Non-phyisical abstractions: are they real or not real?

Post by Spectrum » September 1st, 2017, 4:04 am

First you have to determine your basis of 'what is real', i.e.
1. From the realist's perspective or
2. From the anti-realist perspective.

I [anti-realist] have argued the realist's perspective of reality cannot [impossible] be real.
Therefore if you want to deduce from this basic premise, whatever conclusions you arrive at cannot be real per se.
Thus both physical and non-physical are not real per se as claimed by the realist.

Nevertheless I believe you want to know, as a realist and based on realist principles, whether Non-physical abstractions: are they real or not real?

As a realist you will need to establish the Framework and System in determining reality, i.e.
  • 1. Common sense realism or Naive Realism
    2. Scientific realism
    3. Philosophical realism
    3. Theistic realism
E.g. what is real in theistic realism, i.e. God or soul will not be recognized as real by Scientific Realism.

Thus the consideration whether a Non-phyisical abstractions is real or not [OP] must be considered within the following;
  • 1. The nature of each type of Non-physical abstractions, e.g. God, soul, Platonic ideals, love, beauty, etc.
    2. The relevant Framework and System, Naive, Scientific or theistic.
However, the anti-realists do not agree with the realists [philosophical], thus what is considered as real relative to the above Framework and System cannot be real per se.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Non-phyisical abstractions: are they real or not real?

Post by Anomaly » September 4th, 2017, 1:38 pm

Thanks, guys and ladies, I answered my own question.
Does this mean you aren't looking for further discussion? I'd like to discuss if still open.

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Re: Non-phyisical abstractions: are they real or not real?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » September 7th, 2017, 12:06 am

I agree that you need to explain (better) what counts as real. I would say abstractions are real because they can be the objects of reference. Even abstractions that are impossible to embody physically (or iconically in semiotics terms) can be be embodied symbolically. For example, I can refer to Joe the married bachelor, even though Joe can't physically exist. The concept of a married bachelor is real.


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Re: Non-phyisical abstractions: are they real or not real?

Post by Anomaly » September 8th, 2017, 3:08 pm

Are non-physical abstractions real or not real?
If by non-physical abstractions you mean something like moral values, I take the position they are real.

Apologies in advance for length, but coming from an unorthodox position will have to present the foundation of my approach to the issue for clarity. I first identify what seems to me the only common element contreta and abstracta appear to share in perception: the presentation of a state of information. As JamesofSeattle noted, abstractions can be objects of reference. The idea presented here is that the reference in apprehension is to information. Information in this view is the occurrence of existence, or a report of being to intellectual apprehension. Concrete and abstract things both tender information to perception because they are informational existents. Reality in this sense begins as information, which raises the question: how would a primarily informational reality play out in comparison to a primarily material reality?

Informational reality in its simplest form might be imagined in reduction to a single “bit”. Each monistic bit consists in at least two attributes: particularization (P) and value (V). P and V are in this hypothesis the building blocks of reality and existence.

Because its two components are immaterial, information itself is an abstract unit. If information is the basis of reality, then reality is fundamentally abstract and not concrete. If the hypothesis holds I’ll have to show how existence is able to progress from a single bit of abstract stuff to what seems another sort of stuff altogether that has the “feel” of concreteness.

Using the “bit” of information (I) model, (I = P + V), P and V [as I] would be the building blocks of the thing and attribute of existence. P is static and functional, V is dynamic and, in the case of organics, vital. From the perspective of V in organics, V in inorganics is inert on a macro level of existence. P might be roughly thought of as a placeholder, a locale for value’s occupancy, just as matter can be envisioned in a realist sense as a sort of placeholder for properties and attributes. P is the field in which V does its dancing.

The metaphysical blueprint for an informational reality:
1. Information (I) as monistic stuff of existence consisting in two aspects, P and V.
2. Form (F) as “primary value” and ordering principle acts on P, which in turn organizes V into those expressions of value we call attributes, properties, qualities, attributes, quantities, relations, etc. This notion of Form is a renovation/union of both Aristotelian and Platonic theories in which the patterning of I is concurrently transcendent and immanent. Form as intended here is a single ordering principle (or set of ordering principles, i.e., laws of science) according to which I is organized, structured, given symmetry and develops patterns.
3. V exists in one of two denominations or gradations, true (t ) or false (f ).
4. Form exists in only one unalterable grade of value, True (T ), capitalized to identify its precedence and preeminence over I.
5. Inorganic information possesses an immutable t under the supervision of T . It follows that all inorganic matter is Vt.
6. Organic information can exist in either a t or f state. It follows that organic matter is either Vt or Vf.
7. Where tension is experienced in perception in the falsification of non-organic states of affairs (i.e., the slight tension in observation of 3+3=7), we naturally intuit in intellectual apprehension an entirely different and more powerful resistance as levels or degrees of pressure in observance of the falsification of the good of organic vitality. The signifier we assign to apprehension of this pressure, is prescript, which exists only in the addition of fragmental falsification to the Vt state of organics. In its (in its highest form) in this context, the falsification of t gives rise to the term “moral” or “morality”, the highest level of t - f opposition.
Though not spatiotemporally detectible, a simple thought experiment demonstrates the validity of this sense of moral pressure.

Imagine you’re holding a sledge hammer. You are instructed to strike, in the following order,
1. a boulder
2. a rose bush
3. an ant hill
4. a dog
5. a human infant

A consensus of persons with reasonably unimpaired mental and rational capabilities will recognize and affirm an increase in pressure in visualizing their participation in steps 1-5.

It’s often argued that in history some or all of items 1-5 were culturally acceptable. But literature suggests the moral model has generally held throughout variations in history . Variances are deviations from the moral standard, they don’t represent wholesale dismissal of the model itself as one would expect to find if prescriptive t does not exist. Pride, ambition, lust, and avarice are recognizable falsifications (evils) and generosity, love, honesty, etc. identifiable goods (as derivatives of t). That minds have been—and are even today in different venues—programmed (falsified) to acknowledge for limited periods of time immoral standards or values as acceptable were/are anomalies that reference a steadfast [if not easily articulated] moral standard, the expediency of which has defined human behavior in recorded history.

In an informational universe, moral anomalies can be explained by degrees of falsification in either the physical, mental or essential (spiritual) components, alone or in combination. In other words, falsification can be hypothetically traced from value in essence to values of brain states, which in turn psychologists will map to behavioral values. If neurons are, like all material components, just composed of metaphysical bundles of values in operation at points or locales [providing identity of particularities in spacetime to perception], it would follow that the informational structure of mental content is fashioned from (or expressed as) manifestations of the cumulative values of what we call brain states. Hence, there is no p and ~p. Because matter is, metaphysically/informationally speaking, primarily bundles (locales) of values, the relationships of one state of information (matter) with another (mental content) on a micro-interactional level—and causally also in physical interactions between entities on a macro level—are a transferring of cumulative t and f values via motion of their respective point-locales from one informational state to another. Cause isn’t restricted to matter, it’s a value-driven feature of reality.

The vigor or force of the Vt in opposition to Vf feature in organics [as in thought experiment above] is prescriptive and normative, while the purely descriptive nature of the immutable but comparatively inert Vt of matter can never develop as a feature of its existence a normative or prescriptive dynamic (no is from ought). The theist is therefore justified in pointing out the contradiction of especially non-cognivist but also ethical subjectivist claims that prescript doesn’t exist or is merely a social construct.

The view is unorthodox, I admit, but seems logically workable to me.

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