On 7/20/2012 5:06 PM, meekerdb wrote:
On 7/20/2012 12:11 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
On 7/20/2012 2:02 PM, meekerdb wrote:
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.
As I explained, Existence must be primary and primitive. Even in
the explanatory mode (pedagogy), we have to assume our own existence
No we don't. Descarte fell short in his attempt find the
indubitable. Instead of "I think therefore I am." he should have gone
further and said, "There is thinking." "I" is an inference.
I don't understand your intransigence on this. Descartes' "falling
short" was within an exploration of "certainty of knowledge"; it was not
an establishment of priority of the observer or consciousness.
Existence simply cannot be contingent, else magic and other
Harrypotterisms are allowed via consistency.
What does 'contingent' mean? Not logically necessary? Not
nomologically necessary? Classically philosophers just meant that
somethings existed necessarily (usually they meant 'logically') and
others existed contingently. I had nothing to do with being
I shall refer to the wiki definition
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contingency_%28philosophy%29> of the word:
"*contingency*is the status ofpropositions
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposition>that are neither true under
nor false under every possible valuation (i.e.contradictions
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contradiction>). A contingent proposition
is neither necessarily true nor necessarily false. Propositions that are
contingent may be so because they containlogical connectives
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_connective>which, along with
thetruth value <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_value>of any of
itsatomic <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_sentence>parts, determine
the truth value of the proposition. This is to say that the truth value
of the proposition is/contingent/upon the truth values of the sentences
which comprise it. Contingent propositions depend on thefacts
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact>, whereasanalytic propositions
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic_proposition>are true without
regard to any facts about which they speak."
Ordinarilly the word refers to a dependency, as it X is contingent
on Y and is a weak form of the notion of causation. When something is
impossible under the actual laws of nature then one is assuming that a
case or situation can be communicated, like Stories of Paul Bunyan and
Babe the Blue Ox, but those obviously fall outside of the rule of
"incontrovertible for all intercommunicating observers". You seem to
restrict observers to humans. I don't. I am assuming any entity that can
be deemed to have some degree of autonomy that is capable of
interaction. The set of observers that I am considering includes
anything from quarks to galactic superclusters
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercluster>. I am assuming a weak form
I think this is backwards.
We do reason backwards, I see your point. Do you see mine?
First we perceive things, then we form theories about them.
Here you are taking the explanatory stance and thus your point is
well made, but that priority (Percept => Existence) only occurs in
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.
Do you see that this theory (of an external world to explain the
agreement...) is semantic externalization (aka *teleosemantics) *by
definition. Such is either a pernicious fallacy or absolute law.
?? No I don't see that.
In the former case we have the case where we would have to find ways
to filter out all possible contradiction (such as magic ala Harry
Magic is nomologically impossible, but not logically. There are Harry
Potter computer games which being implemented must be logically possible.
Again, the "incontrovertible for all intercommunicating observers"
rule rules those out. It is about mutual non-contradiction. This is the
part where anthropic reasonings fail as they only include world that are
consistent with the existence for one observer. I am adding another
requirement: consistent with the existence of many observers.
Harrypotterism imply violations of conservation laws whose mathematical
representations might be things like 2+2=5 or 0 = 1 ...
or embrace the latter case where externalization is real but locally
relative. The paper by Louis H. Kaufmann that I attached discusses
this latter case at length and builds a strong case for it (and
related non-well founded modes). H. Putnam
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_externalism> and D.C. Dennet
discussed this idea in great depth.
"The/systemic approach/, developed especially in situation logic
(Barwise and Perry 1983, Israel and Perry 1990, Devlin 1991; Barwise
and Seligman 1997 provide a foundation for a general theory of
information flow) also defines information in terms of states space
and consistency. However, it is less ontologically demanding than the
modal approach, since it assumes a clearly limited domain of
application. It is also compatible with Dretske's probabilistic
approach, although it does not require a probability measure on sets
of states. The informational content of/p/is not determined a priori,
through a calculus of possible states allowed by a representational
language, but in terms of factual content that/p/carries with respect
to a given situation. Information tracks possible transitions in a
system's states space under normal conditions. Both Dretske and
situation theorists require some presence of information already
immanent in the environment (/environmental information/), as nomic
regularities or constraints. This "semantic externalism" can be
It was the Barwise et al that I got this idea from that I am
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,...
I agree. As I have studied many of these, I found that they fall
into two categories: Categories of Things and Categories of Actions.
In other philosophical terminology, they fall into Being or Becoming
ontological theories. More on that thread some other time...
What is preserved are the perceptions, i.e. the observations, on
which we agree.
Umm, no. That is not an invariant. The set of observers that are
inter-communications (upon which the agreement emerges) is not fixed.
I didn't say the observers were invariant. It's the observations on
which there is intersubjective agreement.
The actions of observers are not separable from the observers just
as computations are not seperable from the physical systems that can
implement them, there is just not a one-to-one and onto mapping function
between them at a given substitution level.
Although the Moon was once a glowing goddess and is now a rocky
sphere, those theories, and all those between them, explained the same
appearance of a glowing object in the sky that transistioned between a
crescent and a disk.
Was it for all observers? Really!? Explanations are not causal!
They are schemata; a model of relations between representations of percepts.
Consider human observers being born and dying all around you... The
physical world that we observe is relatively stable only because the
HUGE (but finite) quantity of observers that are involved in the
global web of communication, but it is not a fixed set.
That's one theory of the physical world, that is created by
observers. But what does it predict about the time before humans?
Did the world not exist? Did dinosaurs not see a Moon?
We can deduce that tides affected dinosaurs from geological and
paleographic data but we cannot go quiz them for hints as to their ideas
about the moon.... What is your point here? Please slow down and
consider carefully what I am proposing. It is not complicated....
So each theory tells us what, according to that theory 'exists' as
most basic, but it is really the observations that are basic.
This idea was advanced by Kant and works well on the surface, but
scratch it a little and it falls apart like spoiled fruit. One of Ayn
Rand's excellent contributions was to point this error out and offer
a sketch of an alternative.
I don't find any of Ayn Rand's contributions 'excellent'.
I regret that.
They don't precede observers chronologically,
Time (as the dimension represented by t in physics and the common
notion) is an observer emergent phenomenon, it is not objective
(observer independent) nor absolute (as a unique ordering). It is the
measure of change that the (relatively stable) set of observer have
in common of the order of successive events. Once we take GR into
account we can easily see that is is purely a local perception. Time
is not global (and neither is space)!
Those are both characteristics of the theory (physics) we have
developed to describe the world. The fact that there is no global time
parameter is just a characteristic of the theory. It explains the
local perceptions; just as the spherical Earth theory explained the
local perception of a flat Earth.
OK, so what are you saying. What is time in your thinking?
but the theory tells us what happens beyond the range of observation
and so what the world was like before there were observers.
This line follows Kant's reasoning rather faithfully and thus it
fails for the same reason.
How is that?
I don't have time to reconstruct the idea of a priori synthetics
and proof that it is a fallacy.
It is also the idea of induction that Popper properly demolished.
No, it is just noting that a theory always has more range than the
data it is based on - otherwise it wouldn't be a theory, it'd be an
encyclopedia of data.
We cannot take both definitions of sematic externalism
simultaneously. They contradict each other.
What definitions are those?
Did you follow the links that I included in my post?
Epistemology precedes ontology.
Only in the sense of pedagogy.
So how do you propose to arrive at the correct ontology - by
"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
~ Francis Bacon
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to email@example.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at