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Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
StayCurious
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Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by StayCurious » November 5th, 2019, 4:54 pm

To start off, I would like to establish that I do not want my words to be taken as though I have any firm beliefs in any particular philosophy and am not attempting to to persuade anyone to think or not to think in any particular way, but rather I simply would like to invite everyone to enjoy a point of view which I enjoy and dance in this beautiful discussion with me.

I see that the questions that appear in a metaphysical context usually are in regards to the existence of a thing, idea, concept, etc. and whether or not it is real. "Is time real", "Are we real", "Is 'X' real" etc.

My question is: Is "What does it mean to exist?" the only meaningful metaphysical question in this regard? If we attempt to discuss the existence of something such as time, how can we say with any meaning whether or not it does or does not (exist) except in relation to our predetermined parameters of existence? How, for sake of a bad analogy, can we know if a box (time) is in the garage (exists) if we've not established the borders of the garage (predetermined parameters)?

Are other metaphysical questions building off of an unspoken/undetermined basis of René Descartes's "I think therefor I am" picture of existence?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. I love you all.

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Sculptor1
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Sculptor1 » November 5th, 2019, 7:18 pm

StayCurious wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 4:54 pm
My question is: Is "What does it mean to exist?" the only meaningful metaphysical question in this regard?
This may not be a meaningful question. since it contains an unfounded assumption that existence might have a meaning.

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h_k_s
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by h_k_s » November 5th, 2019, 9:16 pm

StayCurious wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 4:54 pm
To start off, I would like to establish that I do not want my words to be taken as though I have any firm beliefs in any particular philosophy and am not attempting to to persuade anyone to think or not to think in any particular way, but rather I simply would like to invite everyone to enjoy a point of view which I enjoy and dance in this beautiful discussion with me.

I see that the questions that appear in a metaphysical context usually are in regards to the existence of a thing, idea, concept, etc. and whether or not it is real. "Is time real", "Are we real", "Is 'X' real" etc.

My question is: Is "What does it mean to exist?" the only meaningful metaphysical question in this regard? If we attempt to discuss the existence of something such as time, how can we say with any meaning whether or not it does or does not (exist) except in relation to our predetermined parameters of existence? How, for sake of a bad analogy, can we know if a box (time) is in the garage (exists) if we've not established the borders of the garage (predetermined parameters)?

Are other metaphysical questions building off of an unspoken/undetermined basis of René Descartes's "I think therefor I am" picture of existence?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. I love you all.
Time is like mathematics: it only exists in the minds of men (mankind). Outside of the human mind, time like math does not exist.

But on the other hand, humans, and other animals as well as plants, mountains, rivers, the Earth, heavenly bodies (planets, stars, comets, meteors, galaxies, star clusters, etc.) all certainly do exist, although our weak senses struggle with comprehending them all.

Cogito ergo sum is the key for understanding self existence and consciousness.

It is not a far stretch to assume that others similarly also exists outside of our own selves.

Metaphysics is the chapter after physics in Aristotle's writings.

Metaphysics asks, What else exists besides that which is physical?

You can assume or posit that the intangible self or the consciousness within the physical self may or may not exist. This is an issue of metaphysics.

Do other consciousnesses also exist? This too is a metaphysical question.

Do nonhuman animals have a consciousness as well? This is another metaphysical question.

Are there gods and angels and demons and spirits? These too are metaphysical questions.

Descartes has given us a great philosophical inquiry tool to determine that we ourselves exist. But what does this existence consist of? This is yet another metaphysical question.

Steve3007
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Steve3007 » November 6th, 2019, 8:28 am

h_k_s wrote:Time is like mathematics: it only exists in the minds of men (mankind). Outside of the human mind, time like math does not exist.
This is an interesting proposition that I would like to "unpack" a little.

Do you believe that clocks exist in some sense that time doesn't? If a whole load of different people experience a whole load of slightly different, but in some ways similar, sensations and, after a bit of a chat, all of those people agree to label those sensations as "seeing a clock", does that demonstrate that the clock exists? If only one of the people experiences this sensation of seeing a clock and the others don't, what then? What if half the people see it? What if all the people except one see it? Does the total number of people involved make a difference?

Haicoway
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Haicoway » November 6th, 2019, 11:05 am

I am totally nonplussed. I have no idea about anything, except what to eat for dinner. I watch the sun going down and the eyes in my head see the world spinning round.

Steve3007
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Steve3007 » November 6th, 2019, 11:13 am

At least you have a hill to sit on.

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Papus79
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Papus79 » November 6th, 2019, 11:52 am

You might have some trouble finding any bottom-line meaning to anything but as far as 'existing' it seems like people like to use that in the sense of 'what's physical' rather than what's conceptual or subjective and people of course argue plenty on what belongs in which category.

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chewybrian
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by chewybrian » November 6th, 2019, 7:42 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 7:18 pm
StayCurious wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 4:54 pm
My question is: Is "What does it mean to exist?" the only meaningful metaphysical question in this regard?
This may not be a meaningful question. since it contains an unfounded assumption that existence might have a meaning.
Is there any such thing as universal meaning? Isn't meaning necessarily subjective? If a thing has meaning to me, then it has meaning, even if nobody else sees it that way. You might say my existence has meaning then by extension. This type of meaning can't exist unless I exist to give it. If meaning was born with us and dies with us, then we must have meaning.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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h_k_s
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by h_k_s » November 7th, 2019, 1:13 am

Steve3007 wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 8:28 am
h_k_s wrote:Time is like mathematics: it only exists in the minds of men (mankind). Outside of the human mind, time like math does not exist.
This is an interesting proposition that I would like to "unpack" a little.

Do you believe that clocks exist in some sense that time doesn't? If a whole load of different people experience a whole load of slightly different, but in some ways similar, sensations and, after a bit of a chat, all of those people agree to label those sensations as "seeing a clock", does that demonstrate that the clock exists? If only one of the people experiences this sensation of seeing a clock and the others don't, what then? What if half the people see it? What if all the people except one see it? Does the total number of people involved make a difference?
Start by asking yourself how did humans get the notion of "time"? What is a "second"?

You will eventually conclude it comes from the heartbeat. Sixty heartbeats is approximately 1 minute.

And sixty of these minutes are approximately also one 1 hour.

And by coincidence, 24 of these hours is approximately one day.

And 365 1/4 of these days approximates the Earth's revolution around our Sun.

But as for time actually existing, it does not and cannot. It is merely an imagined notion of the human mind.

Same as math. It does not exist either. It is merely a collection of definitions and deductions.

Now, ask if space exists? That is a harder question. It probably also does not. Hence we call it "space."

Steve3007
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Steve3007 » November 7th, 2019, 5:02 am

So, to return to my questions, do clocks exist?

Steve3007
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Steve3007 » November 7th, 2019, 6:01 am

chewybrian wrote:Is there any such thing as universal meaning? Isn't meaning necessarily subjective? If a thing has meaning to me, then it has meaning, even if nobody else sees it that way.
Yes, "meaning" is a relational word like "purpose" or "use". But perhaps because, grammatically, it can be used as a noun people sometimes get the mistaken impression that it represents a concept that can be proposed to exist objectively, i.e. an object. So superficially, a sentence like:

"There is meaning in the Universe"

resembles a sentence like:

"There is a chair in the Universe"

but obviously they convey two very different things. The word "chair" corresponds to a set of concepts that we've invented, called objects, that we propose to be the common cause of various sets of potential observations. As such, we propose that these "object" things exist independently of any specific subject.

The word "meaning" doesn't.

Steve3007
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Steve3007 » November 7th, 2019, 7:49 am

h_k_s wrote:But on the other hand, humans, and other animals as well as plants, mountains, rivers, the Earth, heavenly bodies (planets, stars, comets, meteors, galaxies, star clusters, etc.) all certainly do exist, although our weak senses struggle with comprehending them all.
These are all examples of the entities that we refer to as "objects" (or collections thereof). Would you say that something like an electron or a quark or a photon or a graviton exists in the same sense that you have proposed that the above objects exist? If the answer for any of these entities is "no", what is it about that entity which means that it fails to achieve the status of "object" and therefore fails to be granted the status of objective existence?

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chewybrian
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by chewybrian » November 7th, 2019, 9:52 am

Steve3007 wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 7:49 am
h_k_s wrote:But on the other hand, humans, and other animals as well as plants, mountains, rivers, the Earth, heavenly bodies (planets, stars, comets, meteors, galaxies, star clusters, etc.) all certainly do exist, although our weak senses struggle with comprehending them all.
These are all examples of the entities that we refer to as "objects" (or collections thereof). Would you say that something like an electron or a quark or a photon or a graviton exists in the same sense that you have proposed that the above objects exist? If the answer for any of these entities is "no", what is it about that entity which means that it fails to achieve the status of "object" and therefore fails to be granted the status of objective existence?
Actually, it seems fair to go the other way, granting objective existence to matter and energy and questioning the objective existence of the object (even if you can't spell objective without "object"). The matter and energy existed before the object came into being, and will exist after it is gone. Presumably, they would exist without anyone to notice them for what they were. One could argue all objects are subjective, and they only become objects when a subject can recognize them for what they are.

If there is no human available to recognize it, can a motorcycle still be a motorcycle? The motorcycle becomes an object because we can recognize it. The concept "motorcycle" also exists, in my view, because it can be passed on. The particular motorcycle would exist as long as it was possible for someone to recognize it for what it was. The concept "motorcycle" exists as long as there is a record of it, or someone who remembers what a motorcycle is. If all records and memories were gone, it would only have the potential to exist. Arguably, though, the existence of the real motorcycle or the concept could be said to be subjective.

I am presuming my own understanding of "objective", meaning that the truth of the matter is not dependent on any subject's understanding of it. For example, 2+2 is 4, despite my impression that it might be 9 or 3. Objective existence, in that sense, must mean existence that goes above and beyond my understanding or recognition.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Pantagruel
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by Pantagruel » November 7th, 2019, 9:53 am

For me it is the phenomenon of consciousness which is the big question mark. Existence, well, that's kind of...a given. What exists exists. But how does consciousness fit into the picture. Mind-matter, free-will, these are more the issues that drive my inquiries forward.

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h_k_s
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Re: Is the question of reality the only meaningful question?

Post by h_k_s » November 7th, 2019, 12:17 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 7:49 am
h_k_s wrote:But on the other hand, humans, and other animals as well as plants, mountains, rivers, the Earth, heavenly bodies (planets, stars, comets, meteors, galaxies, star clusters, etc.) all certainly do exist, although our weak senses struggle with comprehending them all.
These are all examples of the entities that we refer to as "objects" (or collections thereof). Would you say that something like an electron or a quark or a photon or a graviton exists in the same sense that you have proposed that the above objects exist? If the answer for any of these entities is "no", what is it about that entity which means that it fails to achieve the status of "object" and therefore fails to be granted the status of objective existence?
It is clearly a very self-centered philosophical view that sees the self as the only subject, and everything else in the Universe as objects.

I don't subscribe to this view.

Then there is the separate topic of Steve Hawkings' theories. I don't subscribe to those either.

So your loaded question, although perfectly contemporary from a philosophical view, does not pass my muster, sorry.

Ok now let's get back to your original question: What is it about an entity which means that it fails to achieve the status of an object?

My answer: If an object has actual existence, and we know it, then it exists.

To wit: I exist. You exist. My cat exists. The animals that my cat chases and eats exist. The things that the animals that my cat chases and eats exist. The Earth exists and provides a foundation for all living and nonliving inanimate things. The atmosphere exists. Water in its various forms of moisture, clouds, rain, streams, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans exists. And so forth.

Theories such as some that you yourself have mentioned are only in the minds of men/women and do not exist outside of their/our minds however.

Hopefully that has unloaded your question enough to bring it to a conclusion with an Empirical answer.

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