It is apriori: what conditions are necessary in order for us to have experiences the way we do? Like Kant's transcendental deduction: apriori
Why do this kind of thinking? Because it is clear that those limitations you mention have necessary grounding beyond themselves (or, in an analysis "beneath" them). Kant makes this point for human reason, I make it for ethics
But it's not clear that our limited ability to perceive reality means we should dismiss everything our perceptions show us. And you yourself don't - as soon as you say 'we' and 'humans', as soon as you mention Kant, that you've read a book, you're relying on your perceptions. You're saying you believe other subjects and objects exist in a coherent-to-us world which you can know things about, and upon which you base your argument. You believe other subjects exist who are similar to you, that you can understand what they report about their experiential states via language (coming out of their physical mouths and into your ears via air vibrations, processed by your evolutionarily adapted brain, or...what?) and that you can draw conclusions from this about the ubiquity of certain sensations and religious and moral intuitions. You build a bridge of knowing into the world of empiricism/shared knowledge, then you draw an arbitrary line. You cherry pick the bits which feel important to you, or you're interested in explaining, or fit your bias in some other way, and ignore the rest.
I do appreciate your tenacity. The cherry picking you mention is not so arbitrary, though there are those who make that case in different words, but I won't go name-dropping here. That is simply not helpful at all. (Suffice it to say I am working within a model of thinking I didn't invent, albeit imperfectly at times. On the other hand, the philosophers who helped me understand the world do not speak for me nor I them. Philosophy is nothing if reduced to a 's/he says such and such'; maybe a good lecture. But I have often said that philosophy's real job is to dismantle the world for the inquirer, and in doing so brings an extraordinary understanding.
It is not an arbitrary line drawn. It simply is a baseline of inquiry. The question is asked, " Given the way the everydayness of Being in the world presents itself (I won't bringing this up, but throughout my response the language is borrowed, though the ideas are eclectically constructed--as they should be, by my thinking)
what is the foundation upon which our knowledge and experience rests? You can see below where I give this idea more substance, but here, I am merely putting the essential rationale in place. It is epistemological and ontological argument, the latter in the sense I try to say what the world is, but keeping very close to what is given, and not, to commit the error Kant talks about in his Antinomies whereby one speaks beyond justification.
If you said you can't know anything beyond your own here-and-now experiential states, I'd say fair enough. Or if you said our perceptions and cognitive abilities are such that the best we can do is create a shared model of the world which we can agree on and works (a model which explains the nature of its creators' experiential states), I'd say fair enough. But you say you can absolutely know things about other human subjects (their experiential states) which you can treat as a priori, by relying on experiencing perceptions which you consider unreliable to inform you these other subjects exist and say things like 'I perceive tomatoes too and I like the taste too, I suffer too, I have religious intuitions too' . See the problem?
I try to be more careful with words like 'know'. I admit, I know there is a cup on the table, and even my cat knows this by some stretch, but as the argument goes, this is not something without analysis, this knowing in the simple sense. What is it to know? This is why empirical science has to take a back seat. While, say, a neurologist might be able to examine the brain and bring a new body empirical language into play, or language of extrapolation (no one has ever seen the big bang, but it is an empirical theory nonetheless), s/he does not inquire about the structure of a knowledge relationship itself. Not that inquiry into the nature of knowledge is not done empirically, but that this is always through a reductive medium. Talk about brain activity in the process of knowing a thing, for example, reduces the knowing event to an issue of the behavior of physical matter, losing the original features of knowing. Philosophers have a completely different conversation ont he subject of knowing, though it is clear that, say, in the philosophy of science, the two meet quite often.
Here, the question goes to knowing suffering and joy (and any other valuative words you want to use). I do make the strong claim that experience "at hand" is both interpretative and immediate; both! Interpretative because I accept that we "take up" the world "as," that is, through an interpretative medium of thought and cultural orientation. And I accept this medium as our world. It *is* the world; we are living and breathing interpretations, and beyond this, there is little to say. But in this world there are features, foundational features, that completely rock the system: suffering and joy; the immediacy of experience intimating something Other,
something not me; intimations of eternity; the immediacy of an unperceived egoic center; and so on. These are not metaphysical fictions. Of course, they can be argued about, and that is fine, and they are. But my thesis is that when one goes to this level of inquiry, there is the possibility of encountering things absolutely, or, a better way to put it would be that we encounter things contingently, couched in theory and ideas, but in this there are things encountered that insist on the positing of what is beyond themselves, i.e., absolute. This pain in my bleeding head is absolute in the experience thereof, while the words I bring forth to discuss it are inevitably bound interpretatively. This is like being a centauric epistemic agent, stuck between the raw power of Being-here (if you will) and the interpretative possibilities that rise to define it. This is our Being-human. I really put the profoundest emphasis on value-in-experience.
As to your reference to knowing others, I am convinced I know others experience the world in t he same everydayness as I do, with, of course, allowances for personality difference and others. Analysis shows this to be a matter of drawing inferences based on signals and signs others give out and using a system communication inherited through culture. I infer that others experience things apriori as i do because language and culture provides sufficient communicative resources to support this. I don't experience their experiences, obviously.
Here's how you put it in an earlier post -
No bridge of certainty, but bridges nonetheless. For me, it comes down to the manner in which the world appears to us, and the big quesion is, how is it that we can "think" ontologically at all? For me, this goes to the presence of things. i think that IN the presence of perceptual objects, recollections, mathematical and so on, there is Being that is not part of the dynamics of pragmatic thought, and my it is what Being is. There is only one way we can step beyond the hermeneutical clutch of pragmatism, and that is to affirm transcendental Ego. When i behold an object it is infused with existence, so to speak. Like the brief analysis above of badness and goodness, Being-as-such is not observable, and yet, it is not reducible, as Heidegger would have it, to an ontology of language and culture (ready to hand). Being as such is Our contribution to the perceptual object, adn we can acknowledge Being in things not because they are, but because we are. We project our being onto the world in perceptual acts. And that is how we "get out" of interpretative fixity.
Now you might be on the right track with this approach, this might be saying something fundamental about how reality works, the problem is - how can you know?
As you say, it's your way of making sense of the dilemma of knowing anything at all beyond 'your own' experiential states which is the only thing you have absolute knowledge of. Which I accept is a mystery, the relationship between subjective experiential states and 'objective stuff' out there' is a mystery.
"Experiential states" go to the heart of the issue. For an experience of this cup on the table is not absolute knowledge of the cup being on the table. The terms, the sentential "fit" into transferable meanings , these all come from taking up the world "as" something else, symbols of language:there is a body of "Being" of interpretation that is emerging historically, changing, permuting. Language and culture are our interpretative identity, what we are in any discussable way. The way out if "fixity" to something Other is through these extraordinary points of departure.
You conclude there must exist a transcendental ego which infuses being into me when you behold me - or is it just pencils and tomatoes you behold into existence? But I could just as easily argue that the intentionality of experiential states means there's no such thing as pure ego, pure being, because experiential states rely on the existence of something 'out there' to create a response, or representation. I'd say this is just as reasonable an interpretation of ''the manner in which the world appears to us''. The point is, how do you test one interpretation based solely in the nature of experiential states against another? Or another?
There is a great little book called The Transcendence of the Ego by Sartre that argues this business. Sartre against Husserl. Sartre thinks the Transcendental ego undoes the authenticity of the structure of consciousness and compromises human freedom. I beg to differ. Never could make Sartre make sense. Nothingness at the subjective end of an intentional structure? How does this work to explain freedom in moral acts? There is more here that can be discussed, but if you like I can go read Sartre again and take up the issue.
Thumbnail: It is through value that the affirmation of the transcendental is achieved: thought emerging in an interface between subject and object without a centered transcendental self does not explain the agential nature of experiencing, say, horrible pain.
Just to remind you, I am arguing about atheism and I call my argument a kind of error theory (a term lifted from John Mackie): this world is, in all of its observational presence, morally wrong, and because it is morally wrong, there must be something, without clouding the matter with religious metaphysics, that redeems this. This is the basis of all religion: We are born to suffer and die and our observations and theories cannot explain the originary given of this. See this term 'originary'; I picked it up from Husserl and it denotes what is logically embedded in experiencing the world and the idea here is that before empirical theory even takes place there is required an examination of the parts and utilities that make theorizing even possible (which is what Kant does.)
Your construction that the world is 'morally wrong' is built on the idea that morality is somehow fundamental to anything which exists, based on you noting that you have a sense of right and wrong, linked to the qualiative nature of your experiential states (suffering, joy, desire, itchiness, disliking the smell of poop, being meh about the colour yellow, scared of spiders, liking or disliking the taste of tomatoes, or the sound of hip hop, loving your kin, adding 27 + 15, reasoning, remembering, time, empathising, imagining, etc). And then deciding this adds up to a world which exists and is morally wrong, tho it's actually a mix of nasty and nice and neutral for us isn't it? Why do you equate nice experiential states with theism, rather than the nasty ones, or the totality of them? Why should you expect every experiential state to be nice/morally good? Why shouldn't reality be whatever it is? What does the totality tell us about our religious intuitions about a diety, or the nature of that diety? And could it be that our existential angst results wishful thinking, that we naturally want to be rescued from the nasty/wrong bits? How do you know which is the correct interpretation? And what is the non-circular grounding for objectivity? Your a priori assumptions look full of bias to me.
First, the world. I think there is no world, only "worlds." Whatever there is that sits still outside of time and space, some material stuff of the things we see and hear, this is pure metaphysics and I want no part of it. On the other hand, I am aware that we emerge out of this. This amounts to the premise that we humans issue from a mystery, and I have no trouble with this. But the world is my "this world" and you have yours and we talk and agree and argue and so on. There is an intersubjectivity that comprises the lot of us in our thinking, talking and feeling. This is the world, and it is morally wrong. It's wrong because it produces horrible suffering, and this is the basis of our religious condition.
Sure it's a mix of nasty and neutral, joyful and ecstasy. This is given and it has nothing to do with a deity. In fact, this is where the notorious straw person of theodicy lies: How could god allow this if god is omni etc., etc. It put this human agency on the face of eternity and proceeds to show absurd this is, therefore god doesn't exist. But of course god doesn't exist, if you put it like that. But instead of dismissing this old man on a cloud idea, the tendency is to move toward nihilism. Nihilism is at the heart of atheism and this latter term is vacuous as it is nothing more than a denial of an absurdity. Again, my position is the denial of moral nihilism, the genuine thesis beneath the straw person, atheism.
Anyway, the bias you mention rests with a single understanding: all things are valuative in nature, and there is no world, only worlds. This reduces the world to "our world," which is the foundation of all that can be meaningful thought about. The bias comes down to judgments about morally good and bad, and they are built into our world, that judgment, that is, that bad things are bad and good things are good, morally bad and good that is. The point i have been driving at here is that the good and the bad possess a presence that is beyond analysis empirically. There is, and I will bring Wittgenstein into it, a transcendence in these. Witt. denies that we can make sense of this kind of thing, and I agree; but I also find, and this is a premise that is not easy to argue, that there is a feature of valuative/moral/aesthetic "presences" that insists on redemption. The horrors of the world require redemption. This is a feature of the world, not metaphysics.
And again, there is an alternative hypothesis, that we can know stuff about the world in a limited way, and this tells us what we call our moral intuition is an emergent property of our particular social species of conscious beings, explained by evolutionary adaptation. (A chimp or a bat's or a Martian's experiential states would be unimaginably different, mine somewhat imaginable to you, but I might love yellow, hate cats and associate religion with cold hard seats and disappointment). This is supported by empirical evidence, where-as your intuition about cherry-picked aspects of your experiential states isn't - not a clincher for all the reasons we've discussed, but key when you make objective truth claims about what is real beyond your own subjective experience. Including the nature and source of religious feelings in others.
See the above. They're not cherry picked. All that we experience is value-laden. The matter of what is good and bad is simply a subjective condition the determination of which lies with the subject. I say, the world wears its morality on its sleeve: it is there, in the pain itself, not just the physically observable characteristics, but deeper in the transcendental unobservable dimension of the experience.
But I've read Kafka so I must be right!
Explain?? The reference to Kafka's Metamorphosis was an attempt bring something absolutely astonishing that is ignored regularly to light. Wake up and find you've metamorphosed into an insect, and go thinking in terms that are typical, contained, reasonable: this is us, thrown into this strange world, normalized by familiarity only;thrown into this to suffer and die. (And yes, to have good things happen, too. But my point is made more compelling with the dark side of things. The onus is on the nihilists to present a position that is comfortable with all the world. I point out the moral badness in its worse possibility, it has to be settled with this, otherwise it fails. think about the argument against utilitarianism and the utility glutton. It's online, I think. It is the counter example. Think of Gettier problems. It's
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Try arguing a against a more respectable thesis: that of ethical objectivism. Anti-objectivists here deny that ethical values need for their theoretical underpinning something absolute, like god or Plato's FOG (Form of the Good).
You've started your argument with some confused notions. The opposite stance of ethical objectivism will be ethical subjectivism, not "anti-objectivism". One can be for ethical subjectivism, which is concerned with morality, while maintaining an objectivist view of the world, this time concerned with the reality of existence. In other words, ethical subjectivism and metaphysical objectivism are not mutually exclusive.
That is peculiar: the opposite of moral objectivism is *not* anti-moral objectivism? I am guessing you've read the terms in texts where moral ideas are formally divided into separate rubrics, and in this context of terminological division the opposite of x is not anti-x. But to go into it a bit: by ethical objectivism I mean a thesis which grounds ethics (and aesthetics) in "the fabric of things." It is an ontological thesis about value. If value is simply about the way we organize our social affairs, and fits into our culture like any other explainable thing, this make morality an invention. Anti objectivists hold this.
Objectivists, like myself, think they do need this [an absolute]. In order to make sense of this world there must be something that, and I will use a fragile word, redeems it.
Redeem it from what? And more important, from whom or for whom? That "whom" points at something with a mind, so how objectivist can you be actually?
Sorry, but the answer to this question is best found in my response to Gertie. It's rather long and I don't want to write it again.
We do not live in a stand-alone world, meaning that the ideas that constitute all that we can bring to bear on the problem of being here qua being here, just plain being here and all that it possesses, are wholly incommensurate with what they purport to explain.
So then how can you arrive to the conclusion that we do not live in a stand-alone world? At best, following the last part of your argument, you could only claim that we can't know.
Stand alone means seamless, like a contingent complex: If i ask you what a bank account is, you can tell me, and the terms are "stand alone" in that, while other matters may be brought up, there is a unified and satisfying account. Value is not like this. Value is not contingent;that is, it is absolute. I say this because of some very interesting reasoning: It is the observation that regardless of the way value is embedded contingently,it never loses its, well, value.
In other words, atheism explains nothing.
Atheism is a skeptic position held in relation to the claims of theism. It does not need to explain nothing else but the reasons to hold its skepticism, and one of the reasons is the failed explanatory effectiveness of theist claims. If you claim that earthquakes are directly caused by the alignment of stars and you fail to prove it, one can be justified in not accepting your explanation, without the burden of having to prove that they are caused by something else. But if we acquire, along with the supporting evidence, the knowledge about the real cause of earthquakes, then it can be offered as another nail in the coffin of superstition.
Right. Atheism is at root skepticism, and this is its meaningful core, and this has nothing to do with denying the existence of an eternal superman. The latter is part of a straw person argument and is not worth the time it takes to write about it.
Now, regarding skepticism about moral value, I put the onus of explanation on the the skeptic's shoulders, for to properly defend moral skepticism, one has to justify a world unredeemed, as I put it. And this world is not a morally stand alone world. The necessity of redemption is "built into" it. The necessity is a structural feature of our Being here.
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In the beginning: there were actually been countless big bangs before this one. Each was wilder and more untamed than our big bang (BB). There were no "forms", as described in the OP, just chaos.
Yet, after the first BB, the next BB was not built upon "the chaos of near nothingness" but a state that was very slightly less chaotic, informed by the aftermath of the prior universe; ie. retention of information at quantum scales. Each BB (trillions or quadrillions of them) became a little less disordered until, eventually the first black holes formed.
In later universes came the first impossibly huge (by this universe's standards) stars formed. Eventually universes included planets, and then geologically active and systematised planets. Then came abiogenesis. Pointless and mindless life forms that soon came and went in that first biologically active universe, aside from their remnants when another BB occurred.
Iteration after iteration brought faster evolution until, finally, an organism grew beyond mere humanity and developed to a godlike status, even surviving to the end of their universe by becoming immaterial, yet ultra-sentient and organised at quantum scales. This first actual God (as opposed to the mindless forms beforehand that shaped prior BBs in a deity-like manner) became one with mindless forms as the next BB occurred, thus adding its own input the the shaping of the next universe.
Yet the Godlike conglomerate consciousness did not consciously guide the next universe but simply allowed its character to impact on the new reality like a template. In most subsequent universes, some beings managed to survive The Great Filter (that currently threatens humanity) and reached that ultimate stage of evolution: able to survive the end of universes. They too added their content to the existing "Omega God" of the prior universe.
So now today we have rapidly-evolving organisms on a fertile planet that is preparing to send its AI "spores" (terraforming technology) to fertilise other worlds. Nonetheless, our universe remains slow and primitive, far less than they will become - ever more hospitable for life, fertile, fecund, fast-developing and happier - until they transcend materiality to the point that BBs simply stop; physicality will then no longer be necessary.
Either that, or something else might have happened
No, no: I think you have it. In fact, let's all of us believe it, and bring forth a self fulfilling prophesy; and thereby make fiction into fact.