Most of so-called philosophy is due to this kind of fallacy

In summary: So, maybe, the proper approach is not to attempt to come up with a definition of consciousness but to accept that it's a primitive notion. In summary, Albert Einstein argues that the concept of the self, or "I", is not a proof of any specific existence behind it, but rather a result of our language and illusions. He also suggests that much of philosophy is based on this fallacy. Further discussions on the definition of the self and consciousness bring up the idea that it is a primitive notion that cannot be fully defined or understood.
  • #1
dx
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"The fact that man produces a concept 'I' besides the totality of his mental and emotional experiences or perceptions does not prove that there must be any specific existence behind such a concept. We are succumbing to illusions produced by our self-created language without reaching a better understanding of anything. Most of so-called philosophy is due to this kind of fallacy." - Albert Einstein
 
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  • #2
dx said:
"The fact that man produces a concept 'I' besides the totality of his mental and emotional experiences or perceptions does not prove that there must be any specific existence behind such a concept. We are succumbing to illusions produced by our self-created language without reaching a better understanding of anything. Most of so-called philosophy is due to this kind of fallacy." - Albert Einstein

Before the thread gets deleted, as it does not pose any actual argument, I would suggest reading p51 of Einstein and Infeld's excellent book on the philosophy of mechanicism - The Evolution of Physics - where they give a very sound view of the proper relationship between science and philosophy in practice.

To paraphrase, metaphysical generalisations pave the way for new scientific theories which in turn should lead to a more informed level of metaphysical generalisation...etc.

The book then goes on to illustrate this in Einstein's own experience.

"So-called" philosophy would be exactly that which does not play this game. I certainly agree with that.
 
  • #3
"The fact that man produces a concept 'I' besides the totality of his mental and emotional experiences or perceptions does not prove that there must be any specific existence behind such a concept. We are succumbing to illusions produced by our self-created language without reaching a better understanding of anything. Most of so-called PHYSICS is due to this kind of fallacy."


If it's a fallacy and there is no concept 'I', then who/what does the thinking?

To doubt the existence of 'thinking' involves thinking and reaffirms the existence of thinking. Thinking proves that we exist, at least during those times that we think.

I can doubt whether there is an external world but i find it absurd to even begin to doubt if I actually think. I am sure Decartes agrees :)
 
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  • #4
Maui said:
If it's a fallacy and there is no concept 'I', then who/what does the thinking?

To doubt the existence of 'thinking' involves thinking and reaffirms the existence of thinking. Thinking proves that we exist, at least during those times that we think.

I can doubt whether there is an external world but i find it absurd to even begin to doubt if I actually think. I am sure Decartes agrees :)

Even the "I" can be doubted. When you say "I" you mean a collection of memories about the past experiences of someone, but that man being you might be an illusion as well. One could say that you were created by an experiment and all those memories were fed to you by some brain machine, but they correspond to nothing real. So even the "I" (in principle) can be doubted.

The only logical inference we can have from "I think" is "there are thoughts at this moment" Maybe a better illustration of the above is in Russel's The Problems of Philosophy:

http://www.ditext.com/russell/rus2.html

in particular:

"But some care is needed in using Descartes' argument. 'I think, therefore I am' says rather more than is strictly certain. It might seem as though we were quite sure of being the same person to-day as we were yesterday, and this is no doubt true in some sense. But the real Self is as hard to arrive at as the real table and does not seem to have that absolute, convincing certainty that belongs to particular experiences. When I look at my table and see a certain brown colour, what is quite certain at once is not 'I am seeing a brown colour', but rather, 'a brown colour is being seen'. This of course involves something (or somebody) which (or who) sees the brown colour; but it does not of itself involve that more or less permanent person whom we call 'I'. So far as immediate certainty goes, it might be that the something which sees the brown colour is quite momentary, and not the same as the something which has some different experience the next moment. "

:D
 
  • #5
Maui said:
I can doubt whether there is an external world but i find it absurd to even begin to doubt if I actually think. I am sure Decartes agrees :)

But then what is the definition of "I" and how do you know that it is what you think it is? We can say we are conscious beings but that is even harder to define, especially when taken into account with theories of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism" .
 
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  • #7
The self is a component of the structure of language, and Einstein is right, of course there is no specific existence (physical or supernatural) behind this. I don't think too much of philosophy is arguing on that behalf.
 
  • #8
disregardthat said:
The self is a component of the structure of language, and Einstein is right,



So, you're basically saying "a component of the structure of language" is able to reason and seek and produce logic?
 
  • #9
ryan_m_b said:
But then what is the definition of "I" and how do you know that it is what you think it is?


The "I" is forever unknowabe, it's the the thing-in-itself, the noumenon as Kant would put it. Our reasoning is only phenomenal and cannot penetrate to the noumenon. In that respect, you have a point - all way say about nature and our experience is a set of assumptions and propositions with various degrees of certainty. In some sense, "I think therefore i am" is also a bit of a stretch if one is suspecting some kind of conspiracy.


We can say we are conscious beings but that is even harder to define, especially when taken into account with theories of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism" .


With the right set of assumption, we are able to say a great many things. Without a form of belief, nothing could be said of reality.
 
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  • #10
Constantinos said:
Even the "I" can be doubted. :D


By who? :)
 
  • #11
This doesn't meet the criteria for starting a thread at all. It's just a quote. We have a thread for favorite quotes.
 

Related to Most of so-called philosophy is due to this kind of fallacy

1. What is the fallacy that most of philosophy is based on?

The fallacy that most of philosophy is based on is the fallacy of hasty generalization. This is when a conclusion is made based on insufficient evidence or a biased sample.

2. How does the fallacy of hasty generalization apply to philosophy?

Many philosophical arguments are built on generalizations that do not take into account all relevant evidence or perspectives. This can lead to faulty conclusions and a narrow understanding of complex issues.

3. Can you provide an example of this fallacy in philosophy?

One example of this fallacy in philosophy is the argument that all humans are inherently selfish based on a few observed instances of selfish behavior. This ignores the countless acts of altruism and selflessness that also exist in human nature.

4. How can we avoid falling into this fallacy in philosophical discussions?

To avoid the fallacy of hasty generalization, it is important to consider all available evidence and perspectives before drawing a conclusion. Engaging in open-minded and thorough discussions and considering counterarguments can also help prevent this fallacy.

5. Is all of philosophy based on this fallacy?

No, not all of philosophy is based on the fallacy of hasty generalization. While it is a common error in philosophical arguments, there are also many philosophical ideas and theories that are well-supported and based on solid reasoning and evidence.

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