Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Seth_Gibson
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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Seth_Gibson » November 18th, 2020, 12:41 am

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 17th, 2020, 2:18 pm
I am willing to listen to someone tell me some other story about how one knows that other people are conscious (in fact, I specifically asked you to correct me if I was wrong in what I claimed about how you know your mother is conscious), but I don't expect any of these other stories to be believable. This is because of experience of encountering various claims in the past. And thinking about the issue.

Of course, if someone has a plausible story that it isn't due to behavior, then I would be interested in knowing about such a story. It would be a surprising and interesting thing.

However, I am confident that no such story is forthcoming.


I could say the same kind of thing regarding an argument for the existence of god. Most philosophers these days regard all of the traditional arguments for the existence of god as fallacious (and they are right on that), so if someone were to present another argument for the existence of god, one would naturally expect it, too, to be fallacious, particularly if it were some random person online, as it is doubtful that some random person online is going to do better than many hundreds of philosophers have done in trying to prove the existence of god. It would be unreasonable to expect a good argument for the existence of god to be presented on this forum or anywhere else online. Usually, what one finds is that someone is rehashing an already refuted argument, pretending that it is really new, or pretending that the old argument has not been refuted.
It is good to have an experienced debater. I appreciate you teasing out my arguments, even though you know I am almost certainly wrong (particularly with this last answer you asked me to give).

For the god question, I am an agnostic. I do not see how someone could empirically prove or disprove it either way. That is a question for another time, however.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am

Before I address any specific issue, I want to say that I enjoyed reading your post.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 17th, 2020, 2:29 pm
To add to what I just posted, here I expressed the idea that you infer that someone is conscious from their behavior, in which you can see that I specifically mention that you should correct me if I give the wrong answer for what you are doing:





Were I not confident in the answer, I would not have answered the question for you, for how you determine that someone is conscious.


Now, if you believe my confidence is misplaced, please, give me a plausible alternate theory for how one would make such a determination. I defy you to come up with anything that has any real plausibility at all. (If you could do it, I would be very interested in reading it.)
That is exactly what I was working on last night, but it was getting late so I had to save my work. Here it is:

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 15th, 2020, 11:08 pm
If you have some story about how you come to the conclusion that other people are conscious, that is not about their behavior, then, please, present it. Until you do, I will continue supposing that you believe your mother is conscious because of the behavior of your mother, and not for some other reason. (Indeed, I expect that, if your mother stops behaving, stops doing things, you will believe that she is no longer conscious.) If you have a story that is about something else, that comes to that conclusion (that she is conscious), and makes any sense at all, seriously, I would be interested in reading it.



I do not understand that statement either in this context. My question was not about what consciousness was but was about how you decide if something you encounter is conscious or not. When you encounter some object, say, a rock, a tree, a dog, a person, a house, or whatever, which of these do you suppose are conscious, and which are not, and why do you make the determination that you make?
I am not claiming that I know my mom is conscious. I am saying that I do not think I can give a better method of determining whether something is conscious other than judging by behavior (I am saying you are right. You convinced me.) I can give it a shot, although my sufficient condition for consciousness might just be an extended version of yours depending on your definition of "behavior". I think my condition can be illustrated by way of a hypothetical example:

If one assumes materialism is true, and my mom's brain functions the same way my brain does, then I must determine by custom that she is conscious (Even though I can never be certain).

I don't think those assumptions are necessary. Most people don't check to see if other people have brains or not when they decide that other people are conscious. And people who are not materialists also do this the same way in normal life, deciding that other people are conscious due to their behavior.

You keep wanting to bring in metaphysics where it is irrelevant.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Let us say that one day, I have my doubts about my mom's humanity, so I decide to cut into her skull with a scalpel after giving her a very strong sedative.

That is a pretty drastic action to take. Let us hope this is just for the sake of the story, and not anything you would really do, no matter what suspicions you had about your mother.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
In her head I find a brain-shaped computer controlling the rest of her human body where her normal brain should be, which causes me to freak out and go run to tell my brother over in the next room. He tells me that a long time ago he moved her brain over to our dog Petey, and transferred all of the data from her brain onto the brain shaped computer. I slowly come to realize that my transhumanist brother turned mom into an android.

You have a weird family!

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
He assures me that she is perfectly conscious within the computer with a sly smile. Everything about the computer functions as a brain would in developing new experiences, changing beliefs, and forgetting information. All that quirky brain stuff is exactly the same. In other words, her behavior is exactly the same as it was before.

At that point, I think you would be right to start thinking that the computer is probably just a simulation of your mother. Lest you imagine that I am backtracking on my position, you would have to cut open your mother's head to put the matter to this test.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Likewise, I reflect that Mom might still be conscious within Petey, but I can never know that because she cannot communicate with me (unless I hook her up to an electroencephalogram to see if her brain is working).

Here is where your story breaks down. If your mother is now with the body of a dog, her behavior is going to be different from a typical dog. She is likely to try to communicate with you, perhaps barking once for "yes" and twice for "no", or some such thing. And she is likely not to lick her butt. So I think you would know if Petey were really your mother. Or, at least, that Petey was a very unusual dog. (Not to mention the fact that Petey would have to be a really huge dog to have the skull capacity to house a human brain. I don't know if any dog is that big. There are also issues of keeping a human brain alive inside a dog's body, but I will pretend that that is somehow worked out for this.)

However, I am really enjoying your story. It is a good one.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
This is what I meant when I said it depends on what you mean by behavior. Under normal circumstances, if there is no change in my mom's behavior, then there is no reason to doubt her humanity. I go on judging her as conscious based upon her behavior. If I live with a transhumanist brother, though, then I might have my doubts regardless of my mom's behavior, because he might have gone behind my back and turned her into an android.

I recommend looking for scars before doing anything drastic.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
The condition for consciousness, therefore, can be more precisely stated as the belief that someone possesses a normally functioning human brain.

There are problems with that assertion, as there are people with abnormal brains that are evidently conscious. It is entirely possible that your mother is one of these people, though, statistically speaking, that is unlikely.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
If my mom falls into a coma, and I have no way to communicate with her, then I cannot rely on her behavior. As before, I must use an electroencephalogram to see if her brain is working.

Being in a coma means she is not conscious. Of course, that does not tell us whether she will remain that way or not, and that is when the brain scanning devices come into play.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Other complexities come up if one concludes that consciousness is determined by behavior. In my above example, is the android conscious, or the dog? As for the android with the human body, the question is whether transferring the information constitutes an abstraction or not. I remember an interview with the philosopher Susan Schneider I listened to a few weeks ago (link below). Susan argues that consciousness is not mere information that can be abstracted. Consciousness is a physical process that goes on in the brain. The mistake is similar to the philosophy of mathematics in thinking that the universe is an equation. The brain is not an abstract program, just as it is not an equation. I leave it to you to decide whether this assessment is correct because I do not know.

I agree with her, at least to the extent that you have explained her position.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
As for Petey, I have not studied the mind-body problem deeply, so I do not know whether my mom retains her consciousness if her brain is transferred to my dog. Intuition tells me that the brain is the conduit for the experience of reality, especially if materialism is true, but I am only holding a tentative position on that until I get your next reply. I would guess that my weakest premise is that others must be conscious if their brains function the same as mine because there seems to be an epistemological leap of faith here. As you said, I do not detect consciousness in others.

I don't think what one should be doing with respect to this is properly described as a "leap of faith", though I make no claim about what you are doing.

By convention, we say that other people are conscious, when they are awake and engage in relevant behavior. What some individual might mean by this is quite variable, as there are substance dualists who would tell you that the person's immaterial mind is awake and controlling the behavior, and idealists would tell a different story, and materialists would tell a story more like what you seem to be inclined to think, and others would tell different stories. What I am saying to you is that these metaphysical positions do not add to what is commonly expressed, as they all say the same common thing (e.g., the person you see awake riding a bicycle is conscious), regardless of whatever metaphysical baggage they might be imagining. The metaphysics is not part of how one tells if someone is conscious or not. Not unless one does a really bad job of things, coming up with a good deal of nonsense and applying it inappropriately (e.g., women do not have souls and are therefore not really conscious and are just machines with no feelings, black people..., etc.). That I discussed in a previous post, referring to Descartes and his idiotic views on animals (which, by the way, were religiously motivated):

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=16950&start=90#p371780

It is worth observing on this that metaphysics does not add anything helpful to this, but, if done really badly, can mess up one's judgment on such matters.


As for Petey, he is conscious when he is awake. He, though, has the consciousness of a dog, which is different in some ways from what is going on with a human. He is thinking about smells that you and I have never even dreamed of.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Would Hume be able to answer these sorts of questions? Regardless, I will find out when I have more time to devote to reading his enquiries after finals.

https://omny.fm/shows/factually-with-ad ... nshumanism

It is hard to say what, exactly, Hume would say about a computer in your mother's head replacing her brain, since computers were not invented until long after he was dead.

One could speculate on this, though it would be speculation (there is nothing like a tautology, is there?).

What I would say about this is that you have no reason to believe that computers are conscious, and therefore you could reasonably conclude that the computer operating your mother's body is not conscious.

Of course, it can get more complicated than you have made the story, as a piece or pieces of her brain could be removed and replaced with a computer (well, for a story; whether it will ever actually be possible or not to remove important bits and still have normal behavior after replacement with a computer is another matter). Then we will want to consult with neuroscientists about what each part of the brain does, and what happens when the relevant bits are removed. But I think we can leave that for neuroscientists to sort out, which I expect they must sort out or the problem can never occur.


Again, I did enjoy your story. Just keep your bedroom door locked at night and never turn your back on your brother, and never accept food or drink from your brother. He is a dangerous lunatic.


One final thing. Your story illustrates a theoretical situation in which one would not simply judge by behavior. However, it is, at present, a wild fiction, and consequently does not describe what people actually do. So, what people actually do is judge by behavior, just as I stated previously.

Frankly, I hope I don't live long enough for your story to ever be real (if it ever could be real).
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Jack D Ripper
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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 18th, 2020, 2:07 am

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:41 am
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 17th, 2020, 2:18 pm
I am willing to listen to someone tell me some other story about how one knows that other people are conscious (in fact, I specifically asked you to correct me if I was wrong in what I claimed about how you know your mother is conscious), but I don't expect any of these other stories to be believable. This is because of experience of encountering various claims in the past. And thinking about the issue.

Of course, if someone has a plausible story that it isn't due to behavior, then I would be interested in knowing about such a story. It would be a surprising and interesting thing.

However, I am confident that no such story is forthcoming.


I could say the same kind of thing regarding an argument for the existence of god. Most philosophers these days regard all of the traditional arguments for the existence of god as fallacious (and they are right on that), so if someone were to present another argument for the existence of god, one would naturally expect it, too, to be fallacious, particularly if it were some random person online, as it is doubtful that some random person online is going to do better than many hundreds of philosophers have done in trying to prove the existence of god. It would be unreasonable to expect a good argument for the existence of god to be presented on this forum or anywhere else online. Usually, what one finds is that someone is rehashing an already refuted argument, pretending that it is really new, or pretending that the old argument has not been refuted.
It is good to have an experienced debater. I appreciate you teasing out my arguments, even though you know I am almost certainly wrong (particularly with this last answer you asked me to give).

For the god question, I am an agnostic. I do not see how someone could empirically prove or disprove it either way. That is a question for another time, however.

For the god question, the issue of how to empirically prove it would depend on what god we are talking about. A discussion of Zeus would be quite different from a discussion about a being that is claimed to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. So, first, one must know what (if anything) is meant by "god", and then one will be able to consider what sorts of things would be the case if there were such a thing.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by thrasymachus » November 19th, 2020, 12:58 pm

Seth_Gibson wrote
Does philosophical inquiry lead to truth? I got a browbeating from my grandfather for arguing that the average person is inferior to the philosopher with regard to her understanding of reality. My grandfather seemed to think that the opinion of the common layperson could surpass the philosopher through experience. That's a very democratic sentiment, but I balk at the idea of excepting it. The opposing platonic view is that mere experience of reality is a shadow of the intelligible realm of truth, which is occupied by Plato's forms. It is the guardian philosopher who guides the layperson through the dark.

Plato speaks out against art and experience as mere representation, yet he uses the artform allegory to communicate his ideas. Is the philosopher, then, a superior artist? That would imply an egoistic justification of reality through confirmation bias, would it not? Perhaps a will to power? Both theories seem implausible. One important insight is that political beliefs can be predicted a priori with about 72% accuracy by looking at the anterior cingulate and the amygdala in the brain. Neither of those brain regions controls intellectual faculties. Not only this, but college does not really change a person's political views. It seems more and more likely that education is an enlargement of an already existing worldview. I could not find studies investigating the change in worldview of philosophers, so I welcome the anecdotal evidence of those with a degree in the field.

My Ethics Professor tells me that philosophy "sharpens intuition," so that we may "grasp questions which are formally undecidable". We must nonetheless take positions on these formally undecidable metaphysical questions in order to integrate various parts of reality. In other words, you can spend so much time examining life that you forget to live it.

There is a pragmatist ethic that I think I fail to grasp because I lack an awareness of the broader debate going on. Hopefully one of you can provide that insight.
You should be aware that philosophical inquiry is divided into Analytical and Continental thinking. The former is likely what you have been reading and it is why this question confuses you. These philosophers are intent on making the world yield to what sensible thought can say, and this assumption makes for an endless grasping for meaning existing familiar concepts, looking endlessly for the reductio ad absurdum that undoes the opposition. It is now a game for geeks (geek is the new "cool" in case you hadn't noticed) that have abandoned the earnest motivation that begins with wonder and existential confrontation.

It's certainly NOT that they have nothing to say, but rather that they simply do not know what to do with it, insight, that is, clarity of thought at the level of basic questions. Pragmatists like Rorty (inspired by Dewey, James, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and so forth) are very close to the "truth"; but he falls flat on the critical matter of ethics. Read his Contingency Irony and Solidarity for an accessible presentation. He falls flat because he does not heed the Zen master's fan flying across the room at him, which should tell him: Quite! You have analyzed the world to its depths and found your own concepts staring back at you. At this point, be quite, and let the world "speak".

Think of it like this: Language is pragmatic in its essence, that is, concepts are temporal anticipations, and to be is to be (in) time. We live and breathe in the instrumentality of pragmatic interface which both makes the world and resolves the world made by the pragmatic institutions conceived in its making. It is cyclical in nature, samsaric you might say (don't knock the East. They are right and have been for a very long time. They're not that good at saying so, though. The West is much better; too much so).

But Truth? Truth lies NOT in the proposition. It lies in the aesthetic, the joy, bliss, peace and love; this is what we are really looking for when we ask all those endless questions. If there were a God with Wittgenstein's book of all the facts, and we could read and understand it in its entirety, we would have absolutely no wisdom. It would all beg the question: What is the point of knowing all that? Facts are all the same, and none possess the meta-aesthetic we all seek in all we do.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Wossname » November 19th, 2020, 4:23 pm

thrasymachus wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 12:58 pm
thrasymachus » Today, 4:58 pm

the joy, bliss, peace and love; this is what we are really looking for when we ask all those endless questions. If there were a God with Wittgenstein's book of all the facts, and we could read and understand it in its entirety, we would have absolutely no wisdom. It would all beg the question: What is the point of knowing all that? Facts are all the same, and none possess the meta-aesthetic we all seek in all we do.

Is that a fact?

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by thrasymachus » November 19th, 2020, 8:24 pm

Wossname wrote
Is that a fact?
Most emphatically a candidate fact. There for your consideration.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Wossname » November 20th, 2020, 4:00 am

thrasymachus wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 8:24 pm
thrasymachus » Today, 12:24 am

Wossname wrote
Is that a fact?
Most emphatically a candidate fact. There for your consideration.

Then thank you sir.

Duly noted.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Seth_Gibson » November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Before I address any specific issue, I want to say that I enjoyed reading your post.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am


That is exactly what I was working on last night, but it was getting late so I had to save my work. Here it is:

I am not claiming that I know my mom is conscious. I am saying that I do not think I can give a better method of determining whether something is conscious other than judging by behavior (I am saying you are right. You convinced me.) I can give it a shot, although my sufficient condition for consciousness might just be an extended version of yours depending on your definition of "behavior". I think my condition can be illustrated by way of a hypothetical example:

If one assumes materialism is true, and my mom's brain functions the same way my brain does, then I must determine by custom that she is conscious (Even though I can never be certain).

I don't think those assumptions are necessary. Most people don't check to see if other people have brains or not when they decide that other people are conscious. And people who are not materialists also do this the same way in normal life, deciding that other people are conscious due to their behavior.

You keep wanting to bring in metaphysics where it is irrelevant.
It is a bad habit of mind which I will try to cure. I honestly do not know why I forgot your argument from before when I wrote that sentence.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Let us say that one day, I have my doubts about my mom's humanity, so I decide to cut into her skull with a scalpel after giving her a very strong sedative.

That is a pretty drastic action to take. Let us hope this is just for the sake of the story, and not anything you would really do, no matter what suspicions you had about your mother.
No, I love my mom! We owe a great debt to her. We love her. I call her the giving tree, and I bring her breakfast every morning.

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
In her head I find a brain-shaped computer controlling the rest of her human body where her normal brain should be, which causes me to freak out and go run to tell my brother over in the next room. He tells me that a long time ago he moved her brain over to our dog Petey, and transferred all of the data from her brain onto the brain shaped computer. I slowly come to realize that my transhumanist brother turned mom into an android.

You have a weird family!
I do have a weird family in fact.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
He assures me that she is perfectly conscious within the computer with a sly smile. Everything about the computer functions as a brain would in developing new experiences, changing beliefs, and forgetting information. All that quirky brain stuff is exactly the same. In other words, her behavior is exactly the same as it was before.
At that point, I think you would be right to start thinking that the computer is probably just a simulation of your mother. Lest you imagine that I am backtracking on my position, you would have to cut open your mother's head to put the matter to this test.
Wait, how is this not backtracking? Earlier you said that I could not cut her no matter what suspicions I had. Or did you mean you are not backtracking as it relates to your position that one has to observe behavior within others to determine whether someone is conscious?
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Likewise, I reflect that Mom might still be conscious within Petey, but I can never know that because she cannot communicate with me (unless I hook her up to an electroencephalogram to see if her brain is working).

Here is where your story breaks down. If your mother is now with the body of a dog, her behavior is going to be different from a typical dog. She is likely to try to communicate with you, perhaps barking once for "yes" and twice for "no", or some such thing. And she is likely not to lick her butt. So I think you would know if Petey were really your mother. Or, at least, that Petey was a very unusual dog. (Not to mention the fact that Petey would have to be a really huge dog to have the skull capacity to house a human brain. I don't know if any dog is that big. There are also issues of keeping a human brain alive inside a dog's body, but I will pretend that that is somehow worked out for this.)
Oh, I forgot to mention that my brother has a shrink ray in this story, so he can shrink Mom's brain to fit inside Petey's skull. And yes, in reality, I would quickly realize that it is my mom inside Petey.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
However, I am really enjoying your story. It is a good one.
Thanks! I enjoyed writing it.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
This is what I meant when I said it depends on what you mean by behavior. Under normal circumstances, if there is no change in my mom's behavior, then there is no reason to doubt her humanity. I go on judging her as conscious based upon her behavior. If I live with a transhumanist brother, though, then I might have my doubts regardless of my mom's behavior, because he might have gone behind my back and turned her into an android.
I recommend looking for scars before doing anything drastic.
I laughed at that one.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
The condition for consciousness, therefore, can be more precisely stated as the belief that someone possesses a normally functioning human brain.
There are problems with that assertion, as there are people with abnormal brains that are evidently conscious. It is entirely possible that your mother is one of these people, though, statistically speaking, that is unlikely.
Then how would one state that more precisely? One would probably need more information on the neuroscience of cognition to give a better definition of consciousness. Mom has a healthy brain with no abnormalities.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
As for Petey, I have not studied the mind-body problem deeply, so I do not know whether my mom retains her consciousness if her brain is transferred to my dog. Intuition tells me that the brain is the conduit for the experience of reality, especially if materialism is true, but I am only holding a tentative position on that until I get your next reply. I would guess that my weakest premise is that others must be conscious if their brains function the same as mine because there seems to be an epistemological leap of faith here. As you said, I do not detect consciousness in others.

I don't think what one should be doing with respect to this is properly described as a "leap of faith", though I make no claim about what you are doing.
I remember from that Hume abstract that belief is synonymous with custom. One believes that a billard ball will bounce off of another out of custom because that is the most likely result based on prior evidence. Does one conclude that someone is conscious by custom based on prior behavior?
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
By convention, we say that other people are conscious, when they are awake and engage in relevant behavior. What some individual might mean by this is quite variable, as there are substance dualists who would tell you that the person's immaterial mind is awake and controlling the behavior, and idealists would tell a different story, and materialists would tell a story more like what you seem to be inclined to think, and others would tell different stories. What I am saying to you is that these metaphysical positions do not add to what is commonly expressed, as they all say the same common thing (e.g., the person you see awake riding a bicycle is conscious), regardless of whatever metaphysical baggage they might be imagining. The metaphysics is not part of how one tells if someone is conscious or not. Not unless one does a really bad job of things, coming up with a good deal of nonsense and applying it inappropriately (e.g., women do not have souls and are therefore not really conscious and are just machines with no feelings, black people..., etc.). That I discussed in a previous post, referring to Descartes and his idiotic views on animals (which, by the way, were religiously motivated):

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=16950&start=90#p371780

It is worth observing on this that metaphysics does not add anything helpful to this, but, if done really badly, can mess up one's judgment on such matters.
As we concluded before, determining whether something is material or not has nothing to do with what one can know about whether a cyclist is conscious. Questions of consciousness are dealt with through epistemology.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
As for Petey, he is conscious when he is awake. He, though, has the consciousness of a dog, which is different in some ways from what is going on with a human. He is thinking about smells that you and I have never even dreamed of.
This reminds me of the mantis shrimp which has 12-16 rods in their eyes. The mantis shrimp cannot distinguish between colors the way we do, which is why the comic I attached below is wrong, but the comic is still worth reading because it is interesting to consider what perceptual stimuli are out of our reach. It is related to the thought experiment Mary's room, which you might have heard of. If a color-blind, Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist studies the color red all her life, can she conceptualize it? I assume you would say of course not based upon your agreement with Hume. In that case, humans cannot ever empathize in certain ways. If we expanded our human faculties for experiencing reality, perhaps human sentiment would change, and thus our system of morality would change. Our shared humanity makes us value fairness, for example, but I wonder what other values a superior human would come up with if the foundation of morality is empathy, and assuming that empathy in a human could be increased.

https://theoatmeal.com/comics/mantis_shrimp

https://www.nature.com/news/mantis-shri ... 20Science1
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 12:21 am
Would Hume be able to answer these sorts of questions? Regardless, I will find out when I have more time to devote to reading his enquiries after finals.

https://omny.fm/shows/factually-with-ad ... nshumanism

It is hard to say what, exactly, Hume would say about a computer in your mother's head replacing her brain, since computers were not invented until long after he was dead.

One could speculate on this, though it would be speculation (there is nothing like a tautology, is there?).

What I would say about this is that you have no reason to believe that computers are conscious, and therefore you could reasonably conclude that the computer operating your mother's body is not conscious.

Of course, it can get more complicated than you have made the story, as a piece or pieces of her brain could be removed and replaced with a computer (well, for a story; whether it will ever actually be possible or not to remove important bits and still have normal behavior after replacement with a computer is another matter). Then we will want to consult with neuroscientists about what each part of the brain does, and what happens when the relevant bits are removed. But I think we can leave that for neuroscientists to sort out, which I expect they must sort out or the problem can never occur.
Introducing that complex problem would definitely derail the discussion. I happened to read an article from Susan Schnider where she talks about what you are suggesting (link below). The problem is determining what the "self" is as it relates to the brain. Working memory, as Susan points out, is interrelated with our experience of reality, because we are only able to break down four chunks of information at a time. Replacing working memory would make us cease to exist. From the outset, that puts a large limit on how much we can increase our cognitive bandwidth.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/10/opin ... anism.html
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Again, I did enjoy your story. Just keep your bedroom door locked at night and never turn your back on your brother, and never accept food or drink from your brother. He is a dangerous lunatic.
Hehe. Yes, I always have my eye on him (in a good way though). He is into technology and computers, which is why I imagined him as a transhumanist.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
One final thing. Your story illustrates a theoretical situation in which one would not simply judge by behavior. However, it is, at present, a wild fiction, and consequently does not describe what people actually do. So, what people actually do is judge by behavior, just as I stated previously.

Frankly, I hope I don't live long enough for your story to ever be real (if it ever could be real).
Well, by then we might have access to extended lifespans, which I'm hoping to live long enough for. I'm just not sure that our philosophy can keep up with the technological growth of our society. Many hypothetical dystopias come to mind. Our ethical questions are all the more pressing if we end up encountering those dystopias in real life.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Seth_Gibson » November 20th, 2020, 10:46 pm

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
This reminds me of the mantis shrimp which has 12-16 rods in their eyes. The mantis shrimp cannot distinguish between colors the way we do, which is why the comic I attached below is wrong, but the comic is still worth reading because it is interesting to consider what perceptual stimuli are out of our reach. It is related to the thought experiment Mary's room, which you might have heard of. If a color-blind, Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist studies the color red all her life, can she conceptualize it? I assume you would say of course not based upon your agreement with Hume. In that case, humans cannot ever empathize in certain ways. If we expanded our human faculties for experiencing reality, perhaps human sentiment would change, and thus our system of morality would change. Our shared humanity makes us value fairness, for example, but I wonder what other values a superior human would come up with if the foundation of morality is empathy, and assuming that empathy in a human could be increased
To be clear, I am concerned with all modes of experiencing reality in the latter sentences, not just perceptual stimuli.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 21st, 2020, 12:26 am

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Before I address any specific issue, I want to say that I enjoyed reading your post.





I don't think those assumptions are necessary. Most people don't check to see if other people have brains or not when they decide that other people are conscious. And people who are not materialists also do this the same way in normal life, deciding that other people are conscious due to their behavior.

You keep wanting to bring in metaphysics where it is irrelevant.
It is a bad habit of mind which I will try to cure. I honestly do not know why I forgot your argument from before when I wrote that sentence.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am


That is a pretty drastic action to take. Let us hope this is just for the sake of the story, and not anything you would really do, no matter what suspicions you had about your mother.
No, I love my mom! We owe a great debt to her. We love her. I call her the giving tree, and I bring her breakfast every morning.

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am


You have a weird family!
I do have a weird family in fact.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am

At that point, I think you would be right to start thinking that the computer is probably just a simulation of your mother. Lest you imagine that I am backtracking on my position, you would have to cut open your mother's head to put the matter to this test.
Wait, how is this not backtracking? Earlier you said that I could not cut her no matter what suspicions I had. Or did you mean you are not backtracking as it relates to your position that one has to observe behavior within others to determine whether someone is conscious?

The latter. You use behavior to decide that your mother is conscious (until you cut open your mother's head and find a computer where her brain should be; which is something you never have done and will never do, as even if you cut open your mother [which you should not do], you would not find a computer there).


As for cutting on your mother, I did not say what you could do. I just said that I hope you would not do such a thing. No matter what suspicions you have about her. If you start getting worried that your brother put your mother's brain in Petey, look for scars on Petey first. If no one cut Petey open, then your brother did not transfer your mother's brain into Petey.

It would also be a good idea to seek psychiatric help if you were worried that your brother did such a thing.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am


Here is where your story breaks down. If your mother is now with the body of a dog, her behavior is going to be different from a typical dog. She is likely to try to communicate with you, perhaps barking once for "yes" and twice for "no", or some such thing. And she is likely not to lick her butt. So I think you would know if Petey were really your mother. Or, at least, that Petey was a very unusual dog. (Not to mention the fact that Petey would have to be a really huge dog to have the skull capacity to house a human brain. I don't know if any dog is that big. There are also issues of keeping a human brain alive inside a dog's body, but I will pretend that that is somehow worked out for this.)
Oh, I forgot to mention that my brother has a shrink ray in this story, so he can shrink Mom's brain to fit inside Petey's skull. And yes, in reality, I would quickly realize that it is my mom inside Petey.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
However, I am really enjoying your story. It is a good one.
Thanks! I enjoyed writing it.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am

I recommend looking for scars before doing anything drastic.
I laughed at that one.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am

There are problems with that assertion, as there are people with abnormal brains that are evidently conscious. It is entirely possible that your mother is one of these people, though, statistically speaking, that is unlikely.
Then how would one state that more precisely? One would probably need more information on the neuroscience of cognition to give a better definition of consciousness. Mom has a healthy brain with no abnormalities.

That is a different question. That is, what, exactly, consciousness is, is a different issue than how one tells whether other people are conscious or not. For the former issue, of what, exactly, consciousness is, neuroscience would be the right approach. But I have been making claims only about the latter issue, of how one tells whether people are conscious or not. For that, you do not need to know anything about brains.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am


I don't think what one should be doing with respect to this is properly described as a "leap of faith", though I make no claim about what you are doing.
I remember from that Hume abstract that belief is synonymous with custom.

No. It was a specific belief that was a matter of custom. It was not about all beliefs.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
One believes that a billard ball will bounce off of another out of custom because that is the most likely result based on prior evidence.

No. It is the idea of causation that is a matter of custom. Induction about the future is a matter of custom, according to Hume. It is not something that one can prove deductively, that induction works. One typically uses induction to justify induction (it worked in the past, so it will probably work in the future), but that is just begging the question.

One does not see causation. When looking at the billiard balls, you see the one move, it hits the other, and then you see the other ball move. What you don't see is causation. If causation were seen, there would not be troubles deciding what causes what, because one would actually see it. So, for example, the idea that smoking causes cancer was something that, many years ago, was in dispute. If the causation could be seen, there never would have been any dispute. What is seen is, people smoking and later on getting cancer. No one sees smoking causing cancer.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
Does one conclude that someone is conscious by custom based on prior behavior?

One concludes that someone is conscious based on current behavior. The fact that someone was conscious yesterday afternoon does not mean that the person is conscious right now. Right now, the person could be asleep, or in a coma, or dead. Or they could be awake, but one does not know that from the person having been awake yesterday.

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
By convention, we say that other people are conscious, when they are awake and engage in relevant behavior. What some individual might mean by this is quite variable, as there are substance dualists who would tell you that the person's immaterial mind is awake and controlling the behavior, and idealists would tell a different story, and materialists would tell a story more like what you seem to be inclined to think, and others would tell different stories. What I am saying to you is that these metaphysical positions do not add to what is commonly expressed, as they all say the same common thing (e.g., the person you see awake riding a bicycle is conscious), regardless of whatever metaphysical baggage they might be imagining. The metaphysics is not part of how one tells if someone is conscious or not. Not unless one does a really bad job of things, coming up with a good deal of nonsense and applying it inappropriately (e.g., women do not have souls and are therefore not really conscious and are just machines with no feelings, black people..., etc.). That I discussed in a previous post, referring to Descartes and his idiotic views on animals (which, by the way, were religiously motivated):

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=16950&start=90#p371780

It is worth observing on this that metaphysics does not add anything helpful to this, but, if done really badly, can mess up one's judgment on such matters.
As we concluded before, determining whether something is material or not has nothing to do with what one can know about whether a cyclist is conscious. Questions of consciousness are dealt with through epistemology.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
As for Petey, he is conscious when he is awake. He, though, has the consciousness of a dog, which is different in some ways from what is going on with a human. He is thinking about smells that you and I have never even dreamed of.
This reminds me of the mantis shrimp which has 12-16 rods in their eyes. The mantis shrimp cannot distinguish between colors the way we do, which is why the comic I attached below is wrong, but the comic is still worth reading because it is interesting to consider what perceptual stimuli are out of our reach. It is related to the thought experiment Mary's room, which you might have heard of. If a color-blind, Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist studies the color red all her life, can she conceptualize it? I assume you would say of course not based upon your agreement with Hume.

It depends on exactly what you mean by "conceptualize" it. I would say I think she cannot have the sense of red in her mind based on my agreement with Hume. Or, I could also say, I think she cannot have the sense of red in her mind based on the fact that I am unaware of having any such ability regarding colors I have never seen; I cannot imagine a color other than colors I have seen, or, at least, I do not think I can.

Still, one can have an intellectual understanding of something, as there are more frequencies of light than those that humans can see, and one can have some idea of what it might be like to be able to have such an ability (but without actually visualizing it). For example, there are special devices that convert infrared to colors we can see, to let us "see" heat. So one could imagine having some such ability to detect it, though it would not be the colors that we see on the device.

In the case of dogs, we can smell, so we have an idea of that type of sense, and we can imagine being able to sense things at a fainter odor than we can, though if there is something that smells different from the things we can smell, we cannot imagine what that is. But, we can understand the idea of smelling things that, to us, are odorless. Though we cannot have that smell in our minds; we cannot know what the actual experience of it is, but we can imagine a being having such an ability. As, indeed, we do with dogs.

I seem to recall reading or seeing in a documentary on PBS (or it could be from multiple sources) that dogs can distinguish the smell of their own urine and tell it apart from other dogs' urine. And, from smelling urine, that they can tell things like the sex of the dog, and if it is female, if it is menstruating, and tell whether the dog is young or old, and whether the dog is sick, and possibly some other things I am forgetting about. Probably, a dog can distinguish dozens or hundreds or thousands of things that we have not thought of to test.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/d ... -of-smell/

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
In that case, humans cannot ever empathize in certain ways. If we expanded our human faculties for experiencing reality, perhaps human sentiment would change, and thus our system of morality would change. Our shared humanity makes us value fairness, for example, but I wonder what other values a superior human would come up with if the foundation of morality is empathy, and assuming that empathy in a human could be increased.

Humans are not the only animals that value fairness. There are several species that have been shown to value fairness. See:

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-animals-u ... -dont.html

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10 ... 00270/full

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm

https://theoatmeal.com/comics/mantis_shrimp

https://www.nature.com/news/mantis-shri ... 20Science1
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am


It is hard to say what, exactly, Hume would say about a computer in your mother's head replacing her brain, since computers were not invented until long after he was dead.

One could speculate on this, though it would be speculation (there is nothing like a tautology, is there?).

What I would say about this is that you have no reason to believe that computers are conscious, and therefore you could reasonably conclude that the computer operating your mother's body is not conscious.

Of course, it can get more complicated than you have made the story, as a piece or pieces of her brain could be removed and replaced with a computer (well, for a story; whether it will ever actually be possible or not to remove important bits and still have normal behavior after replacement with a computer is another matter). Then we will want to consult with neuroscientists about what each part of the brain does, and what happens when the relevant bits are removed. But I think we can leave that for neuroscientists to sort out, which I expect they must sort out or the problem can never occur.
Introducing that complex problem would definitely derail the discussion. I happened to read an article from Susan Schnider where she talks about what you are suggesting (link below). The problem is determining what the "self" is as it relates to the brain. Working memory, as Susan points out, is interrelated with our experience of reality, because we are only able to break down four chunks of information at a time. Replacing working memory would make us cease to exist. From the outset, that puts a large limit on how much we can increase our cognitive bandwidth.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/10/opin ... anism.html
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
Again, I did enjoy your story. Just keep your bedroom door locked at night and never turn your back on your brother, and never accept food or drink from your brother. He is a dangerous lunatic.
Hehe. Yes, I always have my eye on him (in a good way though). He is into technology and computers, which is why I imagined him as a transhumanist.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 1:48 am
One final thing. Your story illustrates a theoretical situation in which one would not simply judge by behavior. However, it is, at present, a wild fiction, and consequently does not describe what people actually do. So, what people actually do is judge by behavior, just as I stated previously.

Frankly, I hope I don't live long enough for your story to ever be real (if it ever could be real).
Well, by then we might have access to extended lifespans, which I'm hoping to live long enough for. I'm just not sure that our philosophy can keep up with the technological growth of our society. Many hypothetical dystopias come to mind. Our ethical questions are all the more pressing if we end up encountering those dystopias in real life.
The questions may be over if the right dystopian future occurs. Your brain may be modified to keep you from having troublesome thoughts that the leaders do not want people to have.

Perhaps a computer chip will be installed in the brains of every newborn, and will be necessary to have such a chip to be able to buy anything or have a job, and if one is caught without such a chip, one might be summarily executed as a danger to society. And, of course, if the chip is done right, all of the people with them will think it right and proper to kill all of those dangerous lunatics who do not have a chip (if any existed).
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Seth_Gibson » November 22nd, 2020, 4:51 pm

Thrasymachus, I am relating my response to my discussion with Jack D Ripper up to this point because I think it provides some important insight into the distinction between your world view and Jack's. It also brings you up to date on the discussion without having to read everything. I am a neophyte summarizing arguments from philosophers that (for the most part) I have not read, so you and Jack can rectify if you think it necessary.
thrasymachus wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 12:58 pm
You should be aware that philosophical inquiry is divided into Analytical and Continental thinking. The former is likely what you have been reading and it is why this question confuses you. These philosophers are intent on making the world yield to what sensible thought can say, and this assumption makes for an endless grasping for meaning existing familiar concepts, looking endlessly for the reductio ad absurdum that undoes the opposition. It is now a game for geeks (geek is the new "cool" in case you hadn't noticed) that have abandoned the earnest motivation that begins with wonder and existential confrontation.

It's certainly NOT that they have nothing to say, but rather that they simply do not know what to do with it, insight, that is, clarity of thought at the level of basic questions. Pragmatists like Rorty (inspired by Dewey, James, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and so forth) are very close to the "truth"; but he falls flat on the critical matter of ethics. Read his Contingency Irony and Solidarity for an accessible presentation. He falls flat because he does not heed the Zen master's fan flying across the room at him, which should tell him: Quite! You have analyzed the world to its depths and found your own concepts staring back at you. At this point, be quite, and let the world "speak".

Think of it like this: Language is pragmatic in its essence, that is, concepts are temporal anticipations, and to be is to be (in) time. We live and breathe in the instrumentality of pragmatic interface which both makes the world and resolves the world made by the pragmatic institutions conceived in its making. It is cyclical in nature, samsaric you might say (don't knock the East. They are right and have been for a very long time. They're not that good at saying so, though. The West is much better; too much so).

But Truth? Truth lies NOT in the proposition. It lies in the aesthetic, the joy, bliss, peace and love; this is what we are really looking for when we ask all those endless questions. If there were a God with Wittgenstein's book of all the facts, and we could read and understand it in its entirety, we would have absolutely no wisdom. It would all beg the question: What is the point of knowing all that? Facts are all the same, and none possess the meta-aesthetic we all seek in all we do.
Until now I was only faintly aware of the distinction between analytical and continental thinking. That is until I read your post and decided to read a sufficiently long article (link below for the uninitiated such as myself). Up till now in the discussion, Jack has led me to believe that metaphysics cannot help one discern the truth. Epistemology is what one should study. Here is a portion of our conversation:
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 13th, 2020, 3:21 pm
I will refer you back to my original response to this:
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 1:15 am
...

As for consciousness, what sort of test do you really do to determine if someone is conscious? I will answer for you (though feel free to correct me if I get this wrong): You judge by behavior. You do not directly detect consciousness at all in anyone other than yourself. So whether someone else really has consciousness or not is irrelevant to how you deal with them.
...
I am confident of this as the right answer because there seems to be no alternative that has any plausibility at all.

Notice in this, my question was one of epistemology, of how you know something, rather than some attempt at doing metaphysical speculation. I think you should focus on epistemology, not metaphysics.
The question we were dealing with was how one observes consciousness in others. That is unimportant for the point I am making here, however. As Jack stated previously, in most cases philosophical inquiry leads one down the path of myth, so that one gets so far from the truth that the average idiot does better than the philosopher. Of course, not everyone agrees about what the path of myth is, so I teased out Jack's argument that philosophy should mirror something like science. "A man... proportions himself to the evidence" as David Hume would say. Clearly, Jack and Hume are part of the analytic tradition, whereas you are more concerned with transcending what "sensible thought can say". What exactly consists of sensible thought, and what would you replace it with? Soon I will read Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, so please tailor your rebuttal toward Hume if you can. As you read on you will find that Jack convinced me of his arguments.

At first, I argued that one must take a position on metaphysical questions. Then I walked back my argument by stating that one must take a position on ethical questions through one's actions:
Seth_Gibson wrote:
October 30th, 2020, 7:15 pm
You see, we must determine whether murder is right or wrong, so that we may determine a set of actions to take. If it is wrong, and we know it is wrong, then we must by logical necessity choose the right thing to do. If we choose the wrong thing to do, then that thing then becomes what we believe to be the right thing to do--otherwise, we would not choose that action.
This sentiment is in keeping with Plato's argument that to know the good is to do the good. Except if a sociopath were to read Plato's republic and understand it in its entirety, it would have no effect on the sociopath's actions. This is because, as Jack and Hume argue, empathy is the foundation of ethics and not logic. We do not treat a rock as a respectable sentient being, because we cannot empathize with it. I submit to this argument because I cannot come up with a plausible alternative, and it makes more sense from an empirical perspective. Philosophy is only a matter of integrating epistemological truths that we can observe within an empathetic ethical framework.

Kant obviously disagreed, as I am sure you do too in your own more modern way. Kant believed in the world of the noumenal (the thing in itself) and the world of the phenomenal (our observed reality). Knowledge of the noumenal is impossible due to our inferior human faculties. If knowledge of the noumenal is impossible, then how does one know that the noumenal even exists? I have read one continental philosopher recently, contrary to what you guess. When reading (and actually understanding) Beyond good and Evil, and On the Geneology of Morals, I found in Nietzsche very little in the way of support for his metaphysical belief in the dichotomy Kant outlines. Here is a quote I Gleaned from his essay Truth and Lies in a Non-moral sense. It anticipates some poststructuralist thinking:
What is a word? It is the copy in sound of a nerve stimulus. But the further inference
from the nerve stimulus to a cause outside of us is already the result of a false and
unjustifiable application of the principle of sufficient reason. If truth alone had been
the deciding factor in the genesis of language, and if the standpoint of certainty had
been decisive for designations, then how could we still dare to say "the stone is hard,"
as if "hard" were something otherwise familiar to us, and not merely a totally
subjective stimulation!
As the Ph. D. graduate I talked to a few months ago would say, there are no truths to Nietzsche, only interpretations. Except if there are only interpretations, does that not mean that what Nietzsche wrote only applied to him? I asked my Nitzsche reading group this question last Thursday, and I was met with a dearth of answers. For all of Nietzsche's talk about the "philosophers of the future" he never comes up with strong support for his positive assertions relating to the will to power, or the eternal recurrence of the same.

You likely have a counter-argument to all this. As Hegel and Heidegger show, one does not have to believe in this dichotomy to follow the continental tradition (Quotes pulled from the attached article):

Heidegger argues philosophy is, and should be, essentially ontology. He describes philosophy as “universal phenomenological ontology” (Being and Time, p.62), placing Being in an elite philosophical category because “it pertains to every entity.” Contrary to the Vienna Circle, which saw philosophy as mainly an epistemological project, Heidegger argued that Being precedes knowledge, and that phenomena (the contents of experience) must be studied prior to any logical categorization or interpretation. This turn toward phenomenology created in Heidegger a distaste for logical analysis in philosophical problems[/quote]

This leads to an influence on Sertra, which before led to my mistaken conclusion that everyone takes positions (whether it is directly or indirectly) on ethical questions(I read his Existentialism is a Humanism a while back, but I do not remember much of it):
Picking up Heidegger’s teaching of the Dasein (being-there), Sartre identifies humans as existential beings – we have been thrown into an uncaring world and we find we are inescapably free and inescapably responsible for our actions.
On some level, it seems as though you agree with Heidegger when you write this, although I am highly uncertain:
Think of it like this: Language is pragmatic in its essence, that is, concepts are temporal anticipations, and to be is to be (in) time. We live and breathe in the instrumentality of pragmatic interface which both makes the world and resolves the world made by the pragmatic institutions conceived in its making.
In other words, existence precedes essence, and existence is time. I read that physicists conceive of time as the fundamental substrate of life, the universe, and everything. There is no existence without time. I do not know how true that is, but it sounds cool. Ontology is best left to the philosopher. I look to you to help me figure out the statement's truth or falsity beyond begging the question of whether existence precedes essence. If such is true, then truths are malleable, which you state in your next paragraph:
thrasymachus wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 12:58 pm
But Truth? Truth lies NOT in the proposition. It lies in the aesthetic, the joy, bliss, peace and love; this is what we are really looking for when we ask all those endless questions. If there were a God with Wittgenstein's book of all the facts, and we could read and understand it in its entirety, we would have absolutely no wisdom. It would all beg the question: What is the point of knowing all that? Facts are all the same, and none possess the meta-aesthetic we all seek in all we do.
I can see why you would say that. As Nietzsche argues, there is nothing "objective" about ascertaining the truth. It would be just the same to read endless encyclopedia entries if one wants objective, unpolitical facts in all pursuits. He argues that One pursues truth only in so far as it is useful, which is why all truths are perspectival "truths" distorted by the observer for self-fulfillment. But if all truths are distorted perspectival truths, then how does one verify the truth or falsity of this sentence: "all truth is a perspectival "truth" distorted by the observer for self-fulfillment". If the sentence contradicts itself, then surely it cannot be true. How does one solve that famous paradox of skeptical thinking which others gnash their teeth at as champions of objective truth? Do the centuries of insight into the human condition in all its foibles mean nothing?

https://philosophynow.org/issues/74/Ana ... pplication.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Seth_Gibson » November 22nd, 2020, 5:52 pm

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 12:26 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
Wait, how is this not backtracking? Earlier you said that I could not cut her no matter what suspicions I had. Or did you mean you are not backtracking as it relates to your position that one has to observe behavior within others to determine whether someone is conscious?

The latter. You use behavior to decide that your mother is conscious (until you cut open your mother's head and find a computer where her brain should be; which is something you never have done and will never do, as even if you cut open your mother [which you should not do], you would not find a computer there).

As for cutting on your mother, I did not say what you could do. I just said that I hope you would not do such a thing. No matter what suspicions you have about her. If you start getting worried that your brother put your mother's brain in Petey, look for scars on Petey first. If no one cut Petey open, then your brother did not transfer your mother's brain into Petey.

It would also be a good idea to seek psychiatric help if you were worried that your brother did such a thing.


Got it.
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 12:26 am
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:36 pm
Then how would one state that more precisely? One would probably need more information on the neuroscience of cognition to give a better definition of consciousness. Mom has a healthy brain with no abnormalities.

That is a different question. That is, what, exactly, consciousness is, is a different issue than how one tells whether other people are conscious or not. For the former issue, of what, exactly, consciousness is, neuroscience would be the right approach. But I have been making claims only about the latter issue, of how one tells whether people are conscious or not. For that, you do not need to know anything about brains.
For the most part, yes. I am just going to not respond from this point forward unless I disagree or I have something to add if it is all the same.


No. It was a specific belief that was a matter of custom. It was not about all beliefs.

No. It is the idea of causation that is a matter of custom. Induction about the future is a matter of custom, according to Hume. It is not something that one can prove deductively, that induction works. One typically uses induction to justify induction (it worked in the past, so it will probably work in the future), but that is just begging the question.

One does not see causation. When looking at the billiard balls, you see the one move, it hits the other, and then you see the other ball move. What you don't see is causation. If causation were seen, there would not be troubles deciding what causes what, because one would actually see it. So, for example, the idea that smoking causes cancer was something that, many years ago, was in dispute. If the causation could be seen, there never would have been any dispute. What is seen is, people smoking and later on getting cancer. No one sees smoking causing cancer.


One concludes that someone is conscious based on current behavior. The fact that someone was conscious yesterday afternoon does not mean that the person is conscious right now. Right now, the person could be asleep, or in a coma, or dead. Or they could be awake, but one does not know that from the person having been awake yesterday.


It depends on exactly what you mean by "conceptualize" it. I would say I think she cannot have the sense of red in her mind based on my agreement with Hume. Or, I could also say, I think she cannot have the sense of red in her mind based on the fact that I am unaware of having any such ability regarding colors I have never seen; I cannot imagine a color other than colors I have seen, or, at least, I do not think I can.

Still, one can have an intellectual understanding of something, as there are more frequencies of light than those that humans can see, and one can have some idea of what it might be like to be able to have such an ability (but without actually visualizing it). For example, there are special devices that convert infrared to colors we can see, to let us "see" heat. So one could imagine having some such ability to detect it, though it would not be the colors that we see on the device.

In the case of dogs, we can smell, so we have an idea of that type of sense, and we can imagine being able to sense things at a fainter odor than we can, though if there is something that smells different from the things we can smell, we cannot imagine what that is. But, we can understand the idea of smelling things that, to us, are odorless. Though we cannot have that smell in our minds; we cannot know what the actual experience of it is, but we can imagine a being having such an ability. As, indeed, we do with dogs.

I seem to recall reading or seeing in a documentary on PBS (or it could be from multiple sources) that dogs can distinguish the smell of their own urine and tell it apart from other dogs' urine. And, from smelling urine, that they can tell things like the sex of the dog, and if it is female, if it is menstruating, and tell whether the dog is young or old, and whether the dog is sick, and possibly some other things I am forgetting about. Probably, a dog can distinguish dozens or hundreds or thousands of things that we have not thought of to test.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/d ... -of-smell/
My mom told me that her old boyfriend used to french kiss his dog so that the dog could tell various things like mood. And yes, I remember learning about the urine from when Mom told me. Any time I run down a new neighborhood to work out he has to smell EVERYTHING, and it is only after I run down the path several times that he gets used to the new dog smells. I go on interval sprints with him, but I only do it for 10 minutes, because dogs overheat much easier than humans do. At this rate, he gets several hours of attention and three walks a day, so I hope he lives forever. Sadly, that is never the case with dogs. :(

Humans are not the only animals that value fairness. There are several species that have been shown to value fairness. See:

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-animals-u ... -dont.html

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10 ... 00270/full

The questions may be over if the right dystopian future occurs. Your brain may be modified to keep you from having troublesome thoughts that the leaders do not want people to have.

Perhaps a computer chip will be installed in the brains of every newborn, and will be necessary to have such a chip to be able to buy anything or have a job, and if one is caught without such a chip, one might be summarily executed as a danger to society. And, of course, if the chip is done right, all of the people with them will think it right and proper to kill all of those dangerous lunatics who do not have a chip (if any existed).
There has to be a novel I could get my hands on with that premise. Actually, that is too perfect of a dystopia. We would have no chance.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 22nd, 2020, 6:40 pm

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 4:51 pm
...
Kant obviously disagreed, as I am sure you do too in your own more modern way. Kant believed in the world of the noumenal (the thing in itself) and the world of the phenomenal (our observed reality). Knowledge of the noumenal is impossible due to our inferior human faculties. If knowledge of the noumenal is impossible, then how does one know that the noumenal even exists? ...
I am not happy with the way you summarize what I stated (nor the way you garbled the quote from Hume), but I will presently confine myself to the bit quoted.

Stating that we cannot have knowledge about noumena is, in its way, an admission that it does not matter whether it is material, immaterial, both, or neither.

Of course, human nature being what it is, Kant did not leave it at that and said some things about noumena anyway. But that is the way of metaphysicians.

As to your question, it has been a while since I read any Kant, but I believe he would say that we know noumena exist because something must be causing the phenomena that are observed. I don't think that is a very satisfactory answer, but you may feel differently about it (though the way you have asked it suggests that you might feel as I do about such a reply).
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Seth_Gibson » November 22nd, 2020, 8:39 pm

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 6:40 pm
Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 4:51 pm
...
Kant obviously disagreed, as I am sure you do too in your own more modern way. Kant believed in the world of the noumenal (the thing in itself) and the world of the phenomenal (our observed reality). Knowledge of the noumenal is impossible due to our inferior human faculties. If knowledge of the noumenal is impossible, then how does one know that the noumenal even exists? ...
I am not happy with the way you summarize what I stated (nor the way you garbled the quote from Hume), but I will presently confine myself to the bit quoted.

Stating that we cannot have knowledge about noumena is, in its way, an admission that it does not matter whether it is material, immaterial, both, or neither.

Of course, human nature being what it is, Kant did not leave it at that and said some things about noumena anyway. But that is the way of metaphysicians.

As to your question, it has been a while since I read any Kant, but I believe he would say that we know noumena exist because something must be causing the phenomena that are observed. I don't think that is a very satisfactory answer, but you may feel differently about it (though the way you have asked it suggests that you might feel as I do about such a reply).
In hindsight, I probably should have sent it to you first before posting. I just hope I got it at least somewhat close to what you were trying to convey.

And yes, that Kantian justification for noumena is very unsatisfying.

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Re: Does Philosophical Inquiry Lead to Truth?

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 23rd, 2020, 12:17 am

Seth_Gibson wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 8:39 pm
Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 6:40 pm


I am not happy with the way you summarize what I stated (nor the way you garbled the quote from Hume), but I will presently confine myself to the bit quoted.

Stating that we cannot have knowledge about noumena is, in its way, an admission that it does not matter whether it is material, immaterial, both, or neither.

Of course, human nature being what it is, Kant did not leave it at that and said some things about noumena anyway. But that is the way of metaphysicians.

As to your question, it has been a while since I read any Kant, but I believe he would say that we know noumena exist because something must be causing the phenomena that are observed. I don't think that is a very satisfactory answer, but you may feel differently about it (though the way you have asked it suggests that you might feel as I do about such a reply).
In hindsight, I probably should have sent it to you first before posting. I just hope I got it at least somewhat close to what you were trying to convey.

And yes, that Kantian justification for noumena is very unsatisfying.

Okay, so I read your phrasing of your question properly. I find Kant very unsatisfying. So, when evaluating him, you should also look for those who like him, to see if any of them have anything sensible and convincing to say. You should not take my word for it when I say he is overrated; you should look for what others say and consider whether what they say is sensible and correct or not. Then, of course, when they don't have anything sufficiently convincing to say, you should agree with me. ;)

Also, obviously, you should look at some of what Kant actually wrote before judging him. Then, and not until then, you may be in a position to properly reject him.


But, if you are going to major in philosophy, you will need to study him. No matter how wrong you judge him to be.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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