On 7/20/2012 8:40 AM, Stephen P. King wrote:
The problem that I see with this definition is that it makes existence contingent
and not necessary. The contingency (or dependence in the weaker case) on the capacity of
"having objective properties that could be studied by independent entities, and the
independent entities would come to the same conclusions about that thing" would make
observers prior to existence and that works if we are considering non-well founded
system, but not for the canonical case. Existence must be prior to everything,
literally, and thus cannot be contingent on anything, including observers and/or their
You're trying to define 'exists' as (logically?) prior to knowledge. I think this is
backwards. First we perceive things, then we form theories about them. This includes the
theory that other people exist. We find we agree with other people about perceptions.
This leads to a theory of an external, objective world to explain the agreement. We have
developed different theories about this objective world over the centuries with
successively greater scope, accuracy, and predictive power. But each new theory has had a
very different ontology: from demons and demiurges, rigid bodies, corpuscles, atoms,
fields, strings, computations,... What is preserved are the perceptions, i.e. the
observations, on which we agree. So each theory tells us what, according to that theory
'exists' as most basic, but it is really the observations that are basic. They don't
precede observers chronologically, but the theory tells us what happens beyond the range
of observation and so what the world was like before there were observers.
Epistemology precedes ontology.
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