Chris writes

> Im dont know. Im in two minds now. I think my own objection to Sam Johnsons 
> 'refutation' is based on a very strict definition of knowledge which entails 
> some notion of certainty. To be only 99% certain is not enough on this 
> definition to know something. Its a little sceptical isnt it? We lock people 
> away on a weaker definition that that. We dont require certainty to inhibit 
> someones freedom, why then in philosophy or science?

*Certainty* is a bug-a-boo. It is a great and dreadful siren call
that must be ignored.  Certainty does not exist.  All our claims
are only conjectural. While it may be argued that for each of
us Descartes' "I think therefore I am" is pretty certain, it
just doesn't carry much information and is kind of useless.

Have you studied any PCR?  That is, "Pan-Critical Rationalism"?
A number of us here would highly recommend it. It really seems 
to be the best overall philosophy. It's powered by the single
most powerful idea in science, evolution.

> Beyond the impressive and dazzling display of mathematics here and beyond 
> Berkley's almost pathological suspicion of perceptual inference, any theory 
> that denies extension is deeply unintuitive. Clearly the onus is on 
> Idealists - of whatever ilk - to present an explanation of non - extended 
> extension that makes some sense, rather than just make the mind boggle. It 
> does feel sometimes as though Idealists are sophists tinkering with logic 
> more than reality - how things could have been, rather than are.

Well, that's how it *feels* to me too. Unfortunately, if things could
be *proven*, then either the realists or the idealists would have given
up centuries ago. Sure, sometimes the advocates in one camp or the other
really are ignorant, or you can show that there are some facts that as
individuals they've really not taken into account in their thinking.
But abandon all hope that any philosophical movement can be shown to
be incorrect.

This is not to say that progress is impossible. Consider an idea
like Aditya has:  what is the real difference between an event
and an observer-moment?  In trying to answer that question, many
of us may learn something (at least for our own purposes).

> Why, I feel like asking, would the cause of my perceptions be so different 
> from the picture of the world effected?

I guess you mean "what could cause my perceptions that would
be different from the picture of the world influenced or affected?".

> Doesnt it make more sense to say that the world appears extended,
> material and not 'ideal' because that is in fact how it is, there
> must be a symmetry between what is perceived and what causes those
> perceptions even if we can not probe that symmetry to any 
> satisfaction?

Yeah, I'd say so. "The *fact* that the world is material" is
a wonderful first approximation, and I heartily endorse it.
Of course, Eternal Truth #2 intercedes ("every statement must
be further modified") and so it has to be qualified.

First, it's not a fact, really. We're best off to *regard*
it as a fact, of course, for many reasons (chiefly because
you don't go to jail when you fail to pay your bills, etc.).
But it could be that we're just processes within some
unimaginable substrate.  E.g., we could be computer
simulations.  But I expect you know all this.

Second, it's so *close* to being a fact, given our theories
of physics, that every other alternative I know of pales
into improbable (but not impossible) insignificance. Even
if we were a computer simulation, for example, chances are
very good that MWI is true, and that sometime somewhen
there really was a good old Milky Way galaxy with versions
of us in it.

> Im not sure that a realist would be happy by transcendental 
> argument like that, but it makes a little sense to me.
> Perhaps there is something in Sam Johnson's quip afterall.

Well, *this* realist finds it palatable, (if it turns out that
it's really right to call me a realist, I guess it is).


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