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Shouldn't we define 'Existence/Being'?

  1. Nov 14, 2005 #1
    After all, if we are going to discuss whether anything 'exists', aughtn't we determine whether 'existence' exists in the first place? Then perhaps who or what is 'Being'? Who or what is 'Existing'? To do that, aughtn't it be adequately 'defined'?
    I have nothing 'positive' to offer 'here' but the question.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2005 #2
    My definitions:

    1. A being is a conscious observer in an otherwise unconscious universe.
    The being itself can interact ankd remember what has happened in the past.

    2. Existence is a tough one, because we have nothing to compare the universe to. For example, we can say that there doesn't exist an apple on the table in front of me, because we know what an apple would look like on the table, had it been there.
    Similarily, we can't really say "the universe doesn't exist", because we have nothing to compare it to.
    What we can say however, is that the probability of a universe existing, is 100%, and even more so do we exist ourselves.
  4. Nov 14, 2005 #3
    Please forvive any vagueness.
    I looked up 'existence' in the dictionary and it kept using 'Being' synonymously. As a 'verb' I think. Looking up 'Being' referrenced 'Existence'!

    We can say no such thing. There is no such thing in science as 100% probability. That is the nature of the term 'probability'.

    Do you ascribe the same 'probability' to the 'existence' of the world of your nightly dreams?
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2005
  5. Nov 14, 2005 #4
    Read Ayn Rand, she logically defines existence, and what the concept "existence exists" means. A good place to start is her 1966 book, Introduction to objectivist epistemology; also a good summary on the topic by Chris Sciabarra, 1995, Ayn Rand, the Russian radical. Now, with Rand you will find a realist definition of existence, but from other posts of yours I see that you do not hold reality to exist, so I'm not sure Rand will be of any interest to you.
  6. Nov 14, 2005 #5
    Been there, done that, moved on. Thanx anyway.
    Effectively refuted here (and dozens of other places on the net); http://home.sprynet.com/~owl1/rand5.htm" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Nov 15, 2005 #6
    This is the same question as "can you prove you exist?" but in a different format. To prove existence is to define what existence is, after you do this there is no quesion whether we exist or not. When one is asked if one can prove if one exists or not... the first thing that is unconsciously done, is looking for a way to define existence. They will both give the same answers.
  8. Nov 15, 2005 #7
    So, since it appears that it cannot be proven (has not been 'proven' yet) that we exist, though many seem to insist on their personal existence without being able to fully define that self-same 'existence', perhaps attacking the question from a different angle might prove fruitfull, to one extent or another.
    I'm not so sure of this assertion either... Most people, I would posit, feel that they already 'know' what 'existence' means. Ask regarding one's existence in the wrong neighborhood, and the 'Street Zen' answer might be a 'foot in the a$$'! A reasonable answer, but basically flawed.
    Perhaps a short illustration;

    "Psychadelic Person;
    "It must be possible to go beyond the Here and Now!"

    Meditative Person;
    "It must be possible to stay in the Here and Now!"

    Normal Person;
    "I'll have the nachos special!"

  9. Nov 15, 2005 #8
    haha yeah... I know, didn't mean anything negative towards your question... was just stating it because there is one up already. I know what you mean, not all of us can realize that it is the same question either! So a different approach probably was necessary and healthy to get the thing on the right track... Glad we have us buddies here at PF to discuss it with huh? or else we'd just be talking about nachos and pizza.
  10. Nov 15, 2005 #9
    Me personally... I think existence is one of those that we will always waste our time trying to understand... and it's just better to accept we exist, than argue whether or not we do. If we can prove we exist... What does it solve? The average Joe Laymen next door will say.. see told you all along you crack head! now let me enjoy smalleville(i like smallville nothing agaisnt it! but you get my point?! :P ) Who will it benefit? And what are it's benefits? I think if there are none... it must be an illusion to try and solve.
  11. Nov 15, 2005 #10
    So what could possibly prove our existence?! So far we can't prove it... but this doesn't, by default, mean we do not exist.. it means X is still just a variable. This is all going to be totally random... so how can we say we exist... hmmm... we can think about existence... if we didn't... and we believed we didn't strongly enough... couldn't we just pop in and out of existence? There is no answer... i think Einstein says it well... And even after you can prove existence there will be someone else asking "how you can prove that it's not just an illusion created by God?" I think this is just unprovable... It's another one of those faith things. And i think the more i talk about this, the more stupid i begin to feel :) Perhaps in the future we'll be able to prove this... but i just think right now it's impossible.. untill we find what surprises the galaxy holds... we're just frogs oblivious.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  12. Nov 15, 2005 #11
    Our 'nature' will always manifest. Some will always question the sacred cows. An advantage of this sort of mentation ('what' is real? what is 'reality'?) is the subsequent manifestation of cars, airplanes, nukes, modern madicine... (all a mixed blessing at best..). This is what a functioning mind does, creates problems and solves them. Without thought, there are no 'problems'...

    But it does indicate, after millennia of attempted 'proof' and consistent failure, that perhaps we really do not 'inherently exist', and this is why 'proof' has not been forthcoming?

    The more I discuss here, the more clear and focused my understanding. Like the work involved in the polishing of a diamond. It is that 'ignorant feeling' that is the most fertile soil for the growth and blooming of knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

    I beg your pardon? Why disrespect frogs? We know nothing of what a frog is conscious! *__-
    How about 'politicians oblivious'? We have strong evidence here...
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  13. Nov 15, 2005 #12
    What do you mean we can't prove that we exist?
    I know for damn sure I exist.
    See, when we have nothing to compare existence to(pun intended), the fact that we are able to ask the question "do we exist or not?" is proof itself that is undeniable.

    The whole question is absurd to me, because if you look around, there is /something/ there.
  14. Nov 15, 2005 #13
    you're right, i think most of us here at PF would agree we exist... it's more along the lines of trying to define existence in a way that it can be accepted, and not argued against... which seems like a complete paradox to me. Cause the fact that we exist will always allow someone to argue our existence :D
  15. Nov 15, 2005 #14
    well untill i hear a frog discussing the meaning of life... i'll stick to my last comment :) [EDIT] And i didn't mean to disrespect the little critters... i apologize to all frogs around the world.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2005
  16. Nov 16, 2005 #15
    Let us hear what a professional philosopher has to say about this thread question, "what is existence" ?
    Existence exists, and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness...if nothing exists there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction of terms...to exist is to be something, as distinguished from nothing of nonexistence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes...existence is a self-sufficient primary...there is nothing antecedent to existence, nothing apart from it...the first and primary axiomatic concepts [of philosophy] are "existence", "identity" (which is a corollary of existence), and "consciousness"...an axiomatic concept cannot be analzed or reduced to other facts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge...which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest...one can study what exists and how consciousness functions, but one cannot prove existence as such, or consciousness, these are irreducible primaries, and an attempt to prove them is selfcontradictory...existence and identity are not attributes of existents, they are the existents.
    The Ayn Rand Lexicon, edited, Harry Binswanger, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Columbia University.
  17. Nov 22, 2005 #16
    So, you are saying, based on your sensory/emotional/absolutely subjective 'perceptions of appearances' that this is all sufficient 'evidence' for you to 'know something for damn sure'?
    You are THAT sure of the 'evidence' of your senses?
    If the 'senses' are capable of relating 'Truth' at that level, why the need for science? We believe/perceive what we do and thats that!?
  18. Nov 27, 2005 #17
    i can only prove that i exist. science is based on the ignorance that there is a world of seperate things "out-there", which is founded in the "original sin", initial ignorance that their is a "me" and a "you". pardon the boblical reference if you are unable to understand and recognize that the ego is an illusion/delusion and is the seed of all dualistic perception... which is, of course, illusion. you can know for your self, by trying to "draw the line" of seperation between one thing and another thing... if you are genuinely trying to draw the line, you will find find that it is impossible, hence the difficulty some perceive in accepting quantum mechanics. it's like, "non-locality, no space/time... NOOOOO!!!!"

    this is all very basic, of course, but is explanation of the existence of science, through the development of the human mind, in its search for light, by looking in the shadows.

    i exist. you must find out what that is. can't be a body, or a mind, so then what? now you think... "spirit!" but u don't Know what that means. where does a spirtit end and another begin?? you must find out.
    there is only the subjective... for sure. the whole world is contained within your perception of it, no matter how abstract!

    so, the world is contained within the mind and the mind is contained in what?
  19. Nov 27, 2005 #18
    Can you really? To me?

    I must find out what you mean by declaring that 'you exist'?

    Right, I have no experience with what is called a 'spirit', in that context. If you do, perhaps you could explain it to me?

    Not knowing what a 'spirit' is, or whether or not there actually 'is' such a thing, I can't really discuss it. But if my understanding of everything else is applicable to 'spirit', and if 'spirit' 'exists', there is no place where one ends and another begins. All is One. Hell, there is no definitive place where 'I' end and 'you' begin! Is that where you were going with this?

    Mind/Consciousness is not contained. I am presently equating the 'Bindu', the 'undifferentiated potential', Chaos, the quantum field of 'probability/information/possibility waves', etc.. as Mind. Uncontained as the Void is uncontained. It 'Is'. The bit of 'Mind' that filters through the ego, what is commonly referred to as 'our' mind, is but a reflection darkly of Mind. 'Our' consciousness but a reflection darkly of Consciousness...
    There IS no-thing to 'contain' and no-thing to BE contained.
  20. Nov 28, 2005 #19
    very nice nameless... but who are you? i prove that i exist, by existing. whatever u are (or think you are) is contained within my experience, so proving to you that i exist, is not different from trying to prove to a dream character of mine the he is dreaming. you have detected the point though, i think... consciousness is not contained, but mind (mine or yours) is but an illusory out-growth... if you will. not Real, but yet not entirely unreal. something like how the gold jewlery is not real insofar as its existence is dependant upon the existence of the gold. the jewlery is really just gold and perhaps a gem. we are speaking of transcendental nature; That which exist unchanged, and eternally whole and yet completely empty. please respond privately or start a new thread if you would sincerely like to explore further... otherwise, i may note that your sarcasm is detected and it is recognized as superfluous. do you carry that with you all the time?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2005
  21. Nov 28, 2005 #20
    Thank you. To whom are you addressing the question?

    I can create a hologram that thumps his chest and makes the same assertion. So?
    I cannot make the same statement. Perhaps we have different interpertations of the term 'exist'? Thats why were here, to find if 'existence' can be 'defined', not 'claimed'!

    Care to elaborate on this? That is quite a claim! Or do you mean this in a Jungian way? See following...

    So, I am inferring that you are referring to me as a sort of figment of your imagination? OK, I'm willing to accept that for now, if that is what you are saying. In that case, it makes little to no difference what I might think that I am, if anything. I think that Carl Jung said that the 'other people' that we perceive are but reflections of facets of our own 'personalities'. You aren't really talking to someone that has an inherent 'existence' (out there), but to yourself, externalized as 'nameless'.

    I don't understand the 'dream character' referrence. Forget 'prove', evidence... Trying to show me some evidence of your 'existence' is like trying to offer evidence to a dream character (I'm assuming that you mean a night-time, tucked in bed, type of dream) the the dream character is dreaming? The (night) dream character will believe no more that he is dreaming than one of the 'waking dream' characters that we interact with throughout our day would believe that they, too, are dreaming. I tried the experiment once. All the 'dream' characters have egos and are most sure that they are awake and know what is real, and that they 'exist'. Like the folks in The Matrix.

    The only 'illusory outgrowth' is a 'mind' that you could call 'mine' or 'yours'. Mind, like Consciousness, 'Is'. I believe that I offered a hypothesis of what 'Mind' might actually be. Care to comment on that?

    If Jung was correct, and I think he might have been, then any 'sarcasm' that you 'detected' was not in me but within yourself as I am but a 'projection'. I reread my posts to you and saw no sarcasm. Do I sound sarcastic here? Well, I'm telling you that I am not.
    Moving on..

    I don't know why you offered to continue in PM mode (you could always PM me and explain why?), but a discussion of Mind is integral, in my opinion, to the thread topic, "Shouldn't we define 'Existence/Being'?" as Mind seems to be the 'matrix' of all that is commonly refered to as 'reality'.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2005
  22. Nov 28, 2005 #21
    The most parsimonious definition of 'existence' can be found in the emergence of two worlds: the quantum realm of fundmental particles and superposition, and the classical world of actions. If 'consciousness' is determined by 'existence', then consciousness and life (both properties of forces) are quantum phenomena and therefore, exist.
  23. Nov 28, 2005 #22
    Im saying the fact that we have grasped the concept of existence, or at least formed the question of existence, proves that we do indeed exist.
  24. Nov 28, 2005 #23
    Are you saying that whatever 'follows' the 'collapsing waves' (quantons) is to be considered 'existence'? Whether purely mental illusionary 'concepts' or 'material'? That we have 'existence' within our dreams? That seems to be the common understanding considering 'usage' of the term. I can accept that definition for the time being. It does seem to be gelded, though. If all of our 'concepts' are considered to 'exist', within Mind, of course, what 'doesn't' exist? Something within mind alone, like a thought, is considered to to have 'existence' (not independently, obviously)?

    Thats a mighty big 'if'.
    I have found Consciousness to be independent of the mental concepts of 'reality'. Whatever the concepts, whether of 'life', 'death' or bananas, within mind, has no effect upon Consciousness.

    I have already equated Consciousness/Mind with the quanton wave field which 'gives rise' to that which is perceived as material 'reality'. Can a wave function be dependent upon the particular 'reality/information' into which it collapses when touched by Consciousness?

    No, my experience is that Consciousness is not determined by 'existence' (the mental illusion) in the least.

    But, (any and all) quantum phenomena = existence? Hmmm...
    Thats an interesting definition, but, I just don't accept Consciousness as a 'quantum phenomenon'.

    If (any and all) quantum phenomena = existence, then the mere thought/observation/conceptualization of something, yourself, is prima facie evidence (according to this definition) that you indeed 'exist', like dragons, faeries, Loch Ness critters, grandparents and Godzilla.. ANYTHING that can be conceived has 'existence'.
    OK, granted.

    I don't see much value in this definition though... other than a 'social value'.
  25. Dec 10, 2005 #24
    if we were to define existence/being, in particular terms, wouldn't we be talking about some particular form of existence/being, rather than the existence/being that all particular forms have?

    can we call it "the formless ground, from whence all form arises, in which all form is contained and of which all form is"?
  26. Dec 10, 2005 #25
    I use a simple interpretation: to exist is to matter.

    To whom or what does it have to matter? Anyone or anything. Simply stated, if it doesn't matter then it doesn't exist. If it has no effect, no influence, no impact whatsoever on anything, anywhere, and from any perspective, how can it be said to exist?

    For illustration purposes, consider the celebrated Invisible Pink Unicorn. It does nothing. It does not appear to anyone. Its description is even self-contradictory. Its "concept" may exist as a point of discourse but the item itself? No. It has no effect on reality. It does not cause planets to orbit their star. It is not responsible for the transmission of sound waves. It has no impact on subatomic activity. It does not make you love. It has no effect of any kind. It does not exist.

    When the absolute absence of any effect on reality means that the item does not exist, then the implication is that to exist is to have an effect of some kind. To exist is to matter.
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