Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Synthetic and Analytic Logic

  1. Oct 21, 2004 #1

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    [moderator's note: This discussion began as part of the thread What Is Logic?, but was subsequently split off into this thread.]

    I think you might allow that there is an important difference between a concept, and that which a concept supposedly represents. Since we are discussing things at an empirically-oriented site, I'd say the prevailing theory here regarding that is correspondence; that is, we aim for our concepts to correspond to something that actually exists in reality. How do we find that out? Well that's where the empirical predilection shows up (i.e., more here, than say at a more rationalistic philosophy site) since we want to know how much what's been hypothesized to exist has been experienced.

    The reason I am bringing this up is to set up my challenge to something you've claimed, which I'll explain below.

    First, you say we know what existence is. Okay, how? Do you believe we know existence first and foremost through experience, or do you believe we can we know the existence of something by reason alone? Some things you've said in earlier posts led me to believe the former, but if you do believe it then I want to dispute the following:

    I say you cannot empirically prove God does not exist, and a purely logical proof (i.e., devoid of facts) is no proof at all (actually, it's not just God, you can't prove that anything doesn't exist . . . you can only prove something does exist). We cannot ever have sufficient evidence to prove God does not exist since God might exist somewhere or in some condition that evidence can't be obtained; and lack of evidence is not proof.

    That is obviously not an empirical proof, and neither is it a logical proof even if we accept all your assumptions (and you must know that you cannot prove your assumptions). You are assuming a priori truths, but I don't think, for example, it is self-evident that all things with identity have "definite qualities and quantities." What if it is our own conscious limitations that can't understand an indefinite identity, and so we project our inadequacy onto God? There is, in fact, a variety of inner practitioner who claims it is precisely the effort of the intellect trying to define God that makes God inaccessible because God can only be directly experienced.

    How about this one, what if God is generally indefinite, but becomes defined at times, such as to create a universe? If we throw out all our preconceptions about God, we might say something like:

    Because we know creation exists where once it didn’t (or so experts believe), we also know something brought about creation. We can logically infer too that whatever created the universe and its contents had to have been there before the creation it generated. So a flexible definition might explain the “creator” as whatever it is that has brought about creation. With that definition we have not, in advance, decided the creator must be a certain way. The creator may be nothing but physical processes, as physicalists believe, or the creator could be somehow conscious as many of the religious believe, or the creator might be a combination of things known, believed and as yet unimagined.

    Now, if God is the name we give the potentiality out of which all extant things arise, that potentiality just might be all the power there is, all the knowing (or knowing potential) there is, infinitely extended, eternally existent, etc.

    I think the best you can do with your "proof" (which would be made significantly stronger by adding all the empirical facts we have about how reality works) is to show an omniscient, omnipotent, etc. God of the sort proposed by creationists is implausible. Your statements do not rise to the level of proof unless one wants to put blinders on to all the possible ways one can get around your assumptions.

    If you meant to illustrate that "One can prove that God does not exist quite easily" within the context of Aristotle's Laws of Thought . . . never mind. :redface:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2004 #2
    You need to read what I wrote more closely.

    It is the other way around.

    Lee Sleeth, most of what you speak of is Kantian in nature. It should be known that Kant is very far from perfect, and most of his claims in philosophy has been, in the past century, effectively destroyed.

    Neither. That is a false dichotomy. Also, take into consideration that an existent and existence are two separate things--you are treating "existence," as an existent.

    You cannot prove that God doesn't exist with merely look around, and you cannot prove God doesn't exist with pure logic. That is very, very far from what is truly occuring.

    We have sufficient evidence the instant we are conscious.

    Look beyond the Analytic-Synthetic distinction. That has been dead in modern Epistemology for over half a century.

    We know what identity is--black hair, black eyes, 5'8", dark skin, angry-looking, black shirt, jeans, operator license #00812314, lives in a dungeon with 7 dogs. It establishes something as specific, definite, and different.

    Once we are conscious, it is because we are conscious of something. We know then that that thing is a thing, we know that it has to be a thing, it has to have definite qualities, it needs to be a specific thing in order to be a thing; another name for it is that is has identity.

    Something cannot be nothing in particular--then it is just nothing. A thing cannot be indefinite--otherwise it isn't a thing.

    That would only occur if we failed to be aware of existence (of the true nature of things.) This would mean that we are unconscious. Which is a self-contradictory claim.

    That claim means that existence is indefinite--that doesn't exist.

    The claim is self-contradictory.

    Then God generally never exists.

    So, all you've done is symbolize a not-so-spectacular concept with the word "God."

    I would then say that God isn't spectacular--and that God is not meaningful to the course of my life as I live it.

    They are all merely neo-Kantian variations of the same argument.

    Again, there is no divide between "synthetic" and "analytic" truths, it is a misconception, to allude to Quine, a dogma of empiricism.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2004
  4. Oct 21, 2004 #3
    Prove it. I provided a highly respected philosophical website that explains reductio ad absurdium, it's historical roots, and it's extensive use in the formulation of Aristotelian logic. What you keep insisting on makes no sense whatsoever, it basically says formal logic is based on formal logic which is absurd.
  5. Oct 21, 2004 #4

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Nothing I said has the slightest thing to do with Kant. Mine was a pure experientialistic challenge to rationalism, probably closer to Locke if you insist I am aligned with someone premodern. In my insignificant opinion, all your comments to me were rationalist, so I don't think we can debate since I think rationalism is a HUGE waste of time (but of course you are certainly entitled to your philosophical preferences).

    By George, I think I'll rant and rave a little :tongue2:. If all the rationalists who ever lived were still alive, they'd still have settled nothing and still be arguing over everything. Let's say experientialists and rationalists were each asked explain the apparent paradox of simultaneous existence/non-existence illustrated in the thought problem of Schrodenger's cat. The experientialist would set up experiments and observe until the answer revealed itself, while rationalists would try to figure it out by never leaving the house to go look at the reality they are content to assume a priori "irrefutables" about.

    I find it a futile debate when no one particularly cares whether at least key assumptions are confirmed experientially.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2004
  6. Oct 21, 2004 #5
    Would say "irrational"? :rofl:
  7. Oct 21, 2004 #6
    All I said was that for Reductio ad Absurdum to work, you need to have concieved of the Law of Noncontradiction and the Law of Identity--more or less formally.

    Yes, formal logic often uses Reductio ad Absurdum. But it is not always the basis.

    Now I ask, can you explain how Reductio is the basis for Aristotelian logic? Rather than just it being used. There is a difference between something being used in a logic system and something being the basis.

    Plenty of what you said had to do with Kant.

    But to explain, there is a certain belief stemming from Plato's day that what we see and what we think can too easily contradict one another. It shows up in the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy. But most notably in analytic-synthetic distinction.

    Now, I understand that you like to see me as "rationalistic" and you as "more empirical." But the fact is that it is the same idea that fueled the analytic-synthetic distinction that causes a rift between rationalism and empiricism. And not only that, it simply causes the pursuit of a valid epistemology a hell of a lot more difficult.

    No, I don't insist you align yourself with anyone--you did that on your own.

    While your statements certainly appear to be consciously guided by mostly empirical notions; the result of what is achieved simply places yourself into another nameless variation of Kantian followership.

    I am neither a rationalist nor an empiricist.

    Both are wrong. I reject both; "rationalists" are mystical. "Empiricists" are doomed.

    A Priori vs A Posteriori is as great an epistemologic crime as Analytic vs. Synthetic.

    What? You think that I think that existence, consciousness, and identity are innate ideas?? HA!

    Now, here is the thing, experiments and empirical observations can yeild hundreds of possible hypotheses and cannot verify any of them. This never leaves the historical course of philosophy--and shows up in your post...and yes, it is Kantian in nature.

    A priori and analytic truths are worthless misconceptions of the use of logic.
  8. Oct 21, 2004 #7
    Check out the website I posted and you'll find out just how wrong you are. The law of identity and noncontradiction are not necessary for a reductio ad absurdium argument. And again, prove any single formal logic is not based on Reductio ad absurdium.
  9. Oct 22, 2004 #8

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I can tell you are a thoughtful person, but it leaves me cold to talk about things in terms of others’ thoughts. I haven’t looked at Kant since college nearly 30 year ago, nor any other traditional philosopher (unless you consider thinkers along the line of Meister Eckhart traditional). Whatever you see written here is 100% me, taken from my insight and my understanding. If you can think for yourself and can stand on your own understanding, then I’d be interested in continuing; if not, then I wouldn’t.

    Well, that sounds like rationalist propaganda to me. The only place you still find rationalist philosophy is where it's being taught in the universities, almost as history. It is a dinosaur, extinct, and achieving close to nothing, just as it always has. The closest thing I’ve seen to progress is the new field of consciousness studies, with Chalmer’s zombie analogies, etc. But that too proves nothing, it just stops functionalists from having their way for the moment.

    I am sorry to continue dissing rationalism, but the “rift” you are talking about was resolved after rationalism was fatally wounded 150 years ago, and died about 75 years later when science started demonstrating it understood at least something unequivocal about reality. Rationalism continued to be all talk and no results. What has been proven epistomologically valid, again and again, is that experience produces knowledge; rationalism has not produced knowledge. How many failures does it deserve before we toss it for good?

    I wish you'd drop it. You are sooooooooooo off base. If you want to see just how much, go into my profile and check out my past posts and threads.

    That is amazingly inaccurate. When you use your computer, and it WORKS, that is pure and unadulterated verification of someone’s hypotheses. What do the rationalists have to show for all their efforts? Have you ever seen a monad? Have you ever made use of one?

    If you look back at what I said to you, I said “experientialism.” I used that term specifically so I wasn’t limiting the path to knowledge to sense experience (the basis of scientific empiricism). So if you think I am suggesting only science produces knowledge you are wrong; there is a rich history of other sorts of human experience producing knowledge (which, by the way, most science types I meet don't care to know about). I am not arguing against philosophical theorizing either, except when it strays so far from facts that it becomes the endless circular discussions that characterize rationalism.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2004
  10. Oct 22, 2004 #9
    Whose thoughts? Of anyone here, it is you who is throwing other people's ideas around.

    This places you in a dangerous position--it merely explains how your ideas have come to be as they are. Your position on how the non-existence of God is impossible to know isn't your position; it is a dogma passed accepted by our social culture--if your philosophy comes from observations of existence, it is necessarily based on social dogma. You didn't explicitly espouse any idea you illustrated in your post, but one theme throughout your post in response to mine about the non-existence of God screams one thing: Certainty in existence is impossible.

    I can think for myself, and I am doing original work in philosophy.

    What? You are the one who said you are more empirically inclined...that your patience only belongs to the empiricists...I was merely borrowing your words.

    As for your older posts, all I care about is what you said in your post to refute my certainty in the non-existence of God. And as far as your profile goes, is that you:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/image.php?u=43&type=profile&dateline=1081031809 [Broken]

    Nice specs, man.

    That wasn't rationalist propaganda.... I'm not a rationalist...I wish you'd drop the whole empiricist vs. rationalist thing...it is a dead and worthless issue that does not apply to anything I've said.

    There has been vast progress in epistemology that has left the empiricism vs. rationalism distinction in the dust.

    Diss rationalism all you want...I'd join you if I thought it were a valid distinction.

    Yes, a computer works because the theories that power it was miraculously verified...but not by a wholly "empirical," position as you like to think. There are many, many hypotheses and theories to fit empirical evidence alone. You need something more than empiricism--take note that I'm not saying one needs to disregard empirical evidence, you just need something extra.

    Are you attempting to obfuscate things or what's the deal here? Can you clarify this? As far as I can see there isn't really a problem at all.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  11. Oct 22, 2004 #10

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I say it simply explains that I am not leaping from other's ideas, that I am observing and reasoning from my own experience and understanding.

    I didn't say that. I said the non-existence of God is impossible to prove. Knowing is a subjective thing, proving is normally considered an objective thing.

    You have no idea how I came to my position, your if-then logic doesn't follow at all. :confused: Maybe I sit every morning at dawn, turn my attention inward, and experience my own existence, and that is the primary source of my ideas about existence. Maybe you aren't a rationalist but you certainly seem opinionated (add to the above, "Kant is a fool, imbecile, idiot, and wrong").

    I implied no such thing. What I implied was that certainty about existence doesn't come through logic, it comes through experience.

    I have never said one doesn't need to think (as in hypothesizing) to discover. All I said is that until one experiences what one has hypothesized, what has been hypothesized is not known. I was also pointing out that your statement "experiments and empirical observations can yield hundreds of possible hypotheses and cannot verify any of them" is about as wrong as a statement can get.

    But let's not forget what we are debating. You said " One can prove that God does not exist quite easily." To demonstrate this you offered,"Existence is primary to consciousness; and as a corollary fact, all existents must possess idenity--things with identity have definite qualities and quantities. God has indefinite quantities (being infinite in every quality; omnipotence, omniscience, etc.), therefore God fails to meet the most basic requirement for an existent: Identity.... Essentially, God is not an existent."

    Do you really think that proves God does not exist? If so, do you think that your opinion is supported by current epistomological and logic standards?

    I claim my position is supported by those standards, and that position is, God cannot objectively or logically be proven to not to exist. But if a God does exist, then the only way to ever know is to directly experience God.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2004
  12. Oct 22, 2004 #11
    And you don't live in a vacuum. And you either have come to parallel other's ideas; or you have come to accept other's ideas subconsciously. And "leaping from other's ideas," is not the only thing that can happen when a person accepts another person's idea(s) as true.

    Very well then. Amend what I originally said to be: The nonexistence of God can be proven.

    You said that you've gathered your epistemology from all of your experiences--you've derived from your sense of life, a philosophy. That is a very wise and admirable thing to do, but it can be more exact. The next thing is that everyone experiences society; no one (unless he or she has established a formal philosophy in his or her mind to measure the world against) can evade a social subconscious impression.

    Our culture holds certain values, and you have subsumed them subconsciously over the years. Mix those in with your more conscious observations and experiences--the result is a mind which is a product of our culture.

    You haven't touched Kant's work in 30 years; but society reaffirms his ideas in philosophy over and over and over...and for 30 years, it adds up.

    And I'm not trying to make you into from victim of nature with no control whatever, no sir. You are entirely responsible for it.

    I am no so much opinionated...I just know the truth. :biggrin:

    Seriously though, I am not at all rationalistic...in my view, rationalists are irrational.

    Whenever you imply that objective proof is forever elusive (and you do; if you say otherwise, you contradict yourself...long story for now) and knowledge is subjective, you imply that certainty in existence is impossible.

    If you see something happen, induce a hypothesis, deduce consequences, and then run an experiment to see such consequences occur--you haven't proven anything.

    The hypothesis is not true or valid because the hypothesis did not necessarily lead to the consequences deduced.

    Essentially, there can always be something else going on. To hypothesize and then use experience to verify the hypothesis--you have not proven the hypothesis to be true...you've merely added some confirmation to a hypothesis, but it surely cannot be claimed absolute knowledge.

    A different process of induction is required.

    Not really. It is a true statement, and I knew it wasn't a full explanation. You are smart people. So I said that if one part didn't make sense, I'd be willing to expand it so that it makes more sense.

    Yes, my claim meets and exceeds traditional epistemological standards.

    Those "standards" defile the human mind...the are killing physics and philosophy. Plus, the "standards," you use are really old.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2004
  13. Oct 23, 2004 #12

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I disagree with just about everything you say, and especially the way you say it. I thought about answering you point for point, but I am pretty sure continuing to trade ideas isn't going to be fruitful.

    Consider your statement, “Those ‘standards’ defile the human mind...they are killing physics and philosophy. Plus, the "standards," you use are really old.” How exactly does having a standard which makes knowing dependent on personal experience “defile the human mind?” How do you think people get conditioned by society or religion or whatever? Isn’t it by trusting what others tell them is true instead of finding out (i.e., experiencing) for themselves what is true? Then, does physics look dead to you? Are we living on the same planet, or have I missed something? And philosophy? It killed itself by trying to maintain the exact “really old standards” you are espousing . . . that mind alone, sans experience, can know. Now there's a dinosaur!

    But the clincher is your above quote, which is just downright wrong. You are presenting yourself as knowledgeable about logic, but make a claim contrary to established rules of logic and proof, and which no philosophy professor worth his salt would agree with. Certainly one can formulate a structurally correct proof about anything, but to suggest a structurally correct proof necessarily proves something about reality is nonsense; surely that’s so obvious you wouldn’t waste our time offering that as meaningful. You must know that for the structurally correct proof to prove something about reality, the premises must be true.

    So what possible premises that can be confirmed as true would eliminate all possible circumstances for something’s existence? IT CAN’T BE DONE! Every knowledgeable person agrees it can’t be done because we cannot possibly know everything we don’t know. Hell, you can't even prove Dodo birds are extinct. Even if that logic weren’t convincing, it is easy enough to review the history of so-called experts, with tons of “reasonableness” on their side, who have said “that is NOT possible” only to be proven it was possible at some later date.

    If you have come up with the secret of how to know everything we don’t know, please explain. If not, and if are going to substitute your own unsupported ideas for well-established principles, such as those for proof, then I don't think we have a basis for meaningful discussion.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004
  14. Oct 23, 2004 #13
    And this "evidence," is composed of the most basic conceptual units. Things we know after watching things for the first few years of life. I'm not going to give you statistics, I'm not going to give you observation data collected over hundreds of eyars. What I will give you is what you already know (if you didn't know, you'd be dead), and as far culture, go spend time at any University in the world and read newspapers and listen to the TV.

    All that is required then is to link those little maxims thrown about all too easily by everyone to a philosophic idea.

    You've thrown little sayings around...only instead of making a sentence like most people...you span it over a paragraph. So, I can logically infer your own personal philosophy, using the "evidence" that both of us possess upon reading this discussion.

    Now, I'll answer your questions. Having a standard that places personal experience above everything else in to path to truth is dangerous..."why" you ask. Because reason is above all else. Otherwise, your personal experience goes unprocessed. If logical reasoning seems to contradict personal experience--and you choose personal experience...that is very, very dangerous. Do you need to personal experience neutrinos to believe that they exist? Or did you have other criteria as far as science goes?

    In regards to God, you'd say that we can logically prove God doesn't exist, but unless we go and experience God's nonexistence, we cannot be certain, ja? Anytime you deal with existence and nonexistence of things, all you need is one glimpse at existence. And so, in that sense, all you need to "experience," is existence itself...not strictly to validate a theory, but to be a starting point.

    People get conditioned by society anytime they place reason secondary. If one places "experience" above reason, one will ultimately come to be conditioned by society, because society plays a gigantic god damn part shaping everyone's experiences.


    And stop labeling me a rationalist...if you still think that anyone is a rationalist or empiricist any more you, then are the dinosaur.

    Physics isn't dead yet...but it is getting there. Philosophy is on the rebound...Kant hurt that one too...thank **** his influence is going away.

    Yes, in other words: Rainer, your post was purely analytic, and we both know you do not have the synthetic evidence, and probably you never will, and if you ever do, you will never be able to prove it to us because then you'd have to prove it synthetically, and this will never happen.

    THAT is a dinosaur.

    Of course my premises are correct. You need existence before you can be conscious. Yes? You need something to be aware of before you can become aware, and possess awareness (consciousness), yes? Don't you always need to have at least something (anything) outside yourself to be there before you can wake up?

    The very first instance of evidence you experienced was when your mind developed enough to intake the things that were occuring around you...if you were in your mother's womb at the time, or otherwise...that would be the first instance.

    As for right now, your computer moniter is enough evidence. The essences of concepts such as existence and consciousness can also be evidence...and preferably so.

    Existence includes all that exists. Consciousness is that which possesses awareness; it is awareness.

    Still with me?

    There. That is you explicitly linking yourself to Kantian influences which I see every day. I knew you believed it...why? Because of subtle things you said, my subconscious is emotionally programed (after years of study) to instantly smell the slightest of Kantian influence...I just then jumped to say that you did implicitly espouse Kant, and now you are explicitly doing so.

    Anyways. Being Kantian in nature is bad. But I really think that that is a subject for later on. I promise you that we will cover it at some point (unless I get hit by a car and go into a 13-year coma.) If you wanna go into it now, let me know.

    The reason you (and many, many) others think that valid knowledge is impossible, is due to the analytic-synthetic distinction. So I'll point you to a famous essay that pretty much killed its influence on the scene of modern epistemology: Two Dogmas

    Now, mental concepts are like mathematical sequences...they include every particular unit as specifically defined, regardless if they have been experienced. The concept of "dirt," includes all dirt there is. Dirt in Japan, dirt under my apartment building, dirt in Kansas...I've experienced none of it, but I can be aware of it all conceptually.
  15. Oct 23, 2004 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If you do, please discuss it in a separate thread. :tongue2:
  16. Oct 23, 2004 #15
    Can the administrator of the forums "split," the thread or whatever?

    I've seen it done in the past. A discussion strays from the topic and becomes quite lively...so the admin splits the thread to create two separate threads in the same forum. Know what I mean?
  17. Oct 23, 2004 #16


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, I could do that if you feel the prior posts by you and Les would provide an important context for setting up your anti-Kantian argument. As it stands, the current discussion is still somewhat related to the original topic, although it is probably beginning to drift too far afield.
  18. Oct 23, 2004 #17

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    First you swear you aren't a rationalist, and then you provide us with your philosophy which is the exact definition of rationalism! I have four philosophical encyclopedias, Britannica, a Columbia one volume, and an unabridged Websters (if that's not enough try: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continental_rationalism) . . . every one of them says this statement of yours "reason is above all else" is the essential meaning of rationalism.

    And, this site is packed with empiricists and future empiricists in case you haven't noticed.

    What have I said to suggest experience isn't to be processed by reason? That is not what I am arguing. If you think that's what I meant when I used the term "experientialist," it isn't. I was only trying to avoid limiting experience-based knowledge-seeking to scientific empiricism. Since "empirical" means experiential, technically I could have used the term "empirical" to describe what I mean. More on experientialism below.

    Who is saying that? I am saying knowledge that isn't confirmed by experience is not real knowledge. As William James put it, "To know is one thing, and to know for certain that we know is another."

    Okay, so I have logically concluded that leaving my car door windows down rather than using my air conditioning will save money in gas. After an experiment shows me that wind drag from open windows uses more gas than the air conditioner, I should reject my experience for what is "logical" to me.

    My logic tells me that if light is traveling at the speed of c, and I am traveling on a train at 100 mph in the direction of the light's source, then when I measure the speed of light it should be x + 100 mph. But when I measure light's speed, it turns out to be just c! Do I hold to my logic or do I yield to what experience tells me?

    Yes! There is no other way to know if neutrinos exist other than to find observational evidence of them; "other criteria," such as logic and math, might help one know where to look for that observational evidence, but something is not considered "known" until it is experienced. And then, if there is more to infer from what's been experienced, reason comes into the picture again.

    Reason and experience work together for the experientialist. Perhaps you might appreciate this type of "reason first" philosophy more than my "experience first" philosophy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism. At the end of the explanation it says, "Modern rationalism has little in common with the historical philosophy of continental rationalism expounded by René Descartes. Indeed, a reliance on empirical science is often considered a hallmark of modern rationalism, whereas Continental Rationalism rejected empiricism entirely."

    That is a priori talk if I've ever heard it, and classic (continental) rationalism.

    All I can say is, if I were used car salesman, I'd wish all my customers had your philosophy. You come and see a crappy car, but I reason you into believing it is a valuable antique. Yep, subordinate your experience to your mind; give reality a glimpse every once in awhile, especially to anything that remotely confirms what you are already thinking and/or wish were true. Hey, I got a nice cult I'd like to get you into.


    You sound like the only people you've read are Kant and Quine. :zzz:

    I don't think you are paying attention to what's going on in the world. People haven't come to modern conclusions about knowing and logic because of Kant or any other philosopher (even if they did point us in productive directions). The epistomological prevalance today has been established by what "works." If you sit around all day and talk about the perfect way to grow food, but never do it, you will starve. By doing it, and doing it with the intention of learning as much as possible, then no matter what was decided by thinkers sitting in that room, what the doers learn that "works" while doing it is going to replace the inactive thinkers.

    Experienced-based learning and thinking has worked better than all the grand thoughts of the past put together. Nobody is going back to the dark ages when all we did was talk.

    Well, you've just confirmed you prefer to be "in your mind" rather than being properly attentive to reality. No wonder you aren't making any sense. In your mind reality can be anything you imagine, but reality will slam you if you don't yield to its ways.

    Well, that is a controversial issue. Some of us claim that one can experience one's own consciousness, without external stimulation. But that's another subject. For now, let's say you are correct that we need existence to be conscious, and we need something to be aware of to be become aware.

    Not even close. I don't see how any of that proves your premises for the nonexistent God proof. Your premises were:

    1. Existence is primary to consciousness;

    Okay, I've acknowledged that.

    2. and as a corollary fact, all existents must possess idenity--

    Sounds right.

    --things with identity have definite qualities and quantities.

    Now you are in trouble. Quantify infinity. If you can't, are you saying infinity is impossible?

    God has indefinite quantities (being infinite in every quality; omnipotence, omniscience, etc.),

    More trouble. First, isn't it anthropomorphic to say how identity is defined for we humans here in a finite situation must apply to all things with identity? And then, how do you know that God is infinite in every quality? What if people are wrong and God is 99% omnipotent and omniscient? Here's that empirical problem again . . . we are speculating about God without experiential evidence to tell us for certain what God is or isn't, everything is just a guess.

    The "therefore" of your "proof" should have been: ". . . therefore, the concept a God with infinite qualities is not a concept that aligns with principles observed in our universe."

    Your jump to nonexistence is unjustified. You have not made a proof, and you'll never make a proof for what does NOT exist.
  19. Oct 23, 2004 #18

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If what we are talking about gets too far afield, then I'll stop. I can say for certain, most definitely, that I do not want to participate in a thread devoted to Kant. :surprised
  20. Oct 24, 2004 #19
    A population blinded to the color green are abandoned by their people on an island. To survive, these colorblinds ate the llamas there until there were no more llamas. Then they ate the fish in the waters surrounding the island, until there was no more fish.
    The ate all the rabbits, birds, rats, until there were no more animals left to eat. So they began to eat the vegetables and fruits on the island. They ate all the grass. They ate all the potatoes. They ate all the oranges and the orange trees. They ate all the peaches and the peach trees. They ate all the grapes and the grape vines. Finally, on a Wednesday morning, when they awoke they found the island bare of all life but for three apple trees.

    One tree born blood red apples. The second tree's apples were dark violet. The third tree grew apples that these colorblinds saw as grey. They also saw an aluminum sign planted besides with the invitation "Eat the green apples and die".

    Wisely, they chose to eat the red apples and violet apples and their trees and left the "grey" apple tree alone. Then they fasted. They fasted for 7 days until they could fast no more. Then on Sunday, they saw a ship in the horizon that looked to be heading their way but estimated it would take another week for it to arrive. And even if the ship stopped on their shore, they might not be friendly.

    "Do those apples look green to you", asked the leader of the group. They all shook their heads. "These are grey apples so I think we can eat them. That sign must be referring to some apple tree that is gone. Really though, which among you have seen such a color as green? And if we can't see it, surely it doesn't exist?", continued
    the leader. "So, let's eat". All nodded except one. This one that did not nod his head
    did not go to the same college as the others was a Frenchman who grew up on Descartes and the likes. He objects " but I don't see the moon at this time of the
    afternoon yet I know its there, I think we should wait for the boat".

    The leader rejects this Frenchman saying " ah but in the evening we see the moon so we know it's there. In the morning it may as well not be there. But I know without a doubt in my mind that I have never, ever, seen a green apple. And I am as certain
    that these juicy apples I see in front of me are grey! Don't you agree?" This time, they all nodded. The Frenchman had dropped out of college and couldn't remember how his mentors would have reasoned. So they all ate. And they all died. The next day, the ship came to their shore.
  21. Oct 24, 2004 #20

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    We've been talking about what logic is, and what it can and can't tell us about reality. In your story, we have all evidence we need to make a logical decision about reality. All the apples are gone except one color, and there is a sign warning of death if one eats a certain color. A rescue ship will arrive the next day, so starvation is not an issue. If one wants to make the best decision which will ensure one continues to live, then to eat the apples is not the logical choice. Does this story have a point that is relevant to what we've been discussing? :cool:
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2004
  22. Oct 25, 2004 #21
    Then what happens if your reasoning contradicts your experience?

    Then you are saying that all real knowledge is synthetic.

    In the first example I have to ask how you got to that conclusion. That is where the error lies: A misconception of how logical reasoning works.

    In the second example you've failed to understand the nature of light--this is a failure of reasoning. The neat thing is that you know you've messed up before you conclude what you did in the example. Whenever you leap to the next step with a blank spot in your knowledge, you'll know it--and continuing on with that blank spot is irrational.

    When your reason concludes something, your senses will report just that conclusion. Seeing what you've concluded rationally adds some confirmation; but you can conclude with certainty that what you've reasoned is correct.

    In all cases you've presented, the reason-observation/experience dichotomy is present. They are separate processes, but not opposed...as implied by the website and by your words.

    What "works," according to most physicists, is Popper's conception of epistemology. Which is neo-Kantian.

    Why? Because I state the nature of concepts?

    Do you have any real refutation of that statement?

    Consciousness is awareness. If you want to be aware of your awareness you need something to first be aware of--otherwise it is a hopeless loop that will never happen.

    Infinity is larger than any specific quantity. It is no specific quantity...it is nothing.

    No. And this is why....

    To say that our minds are hopelessly limited with respect to knowing what reality is, is to say that we aren't volitional--that we aren't conscious.

    But we are conscious--there is no way you can deny that. We are volitional. We can know reality--because that is all we'll ever know.

    Because of this, we didn't invent identity, we discovered it--as a part of reality itself. Applying the concept of identity to all of reality is simply staying true to what reality is.

    99% omnipotent is an oxymoron.

    If God is not infinite, God isn't spectacular.

    If God is very, very large in every quantity, he would be the same as a very, very large human. In this case, God would not be the creator, and God wouldn't know all there is to know.

    God could merely continue to learn about this universe that he merely helped create, God would only be able to manipulate matter like humans--and because existence is primary to consciousness, God would have to hold a physical form.

    Speculation on God's nature is not a bad thing. I've narrowed down what God could and could not be. All the things God cannot be is what the religious claim--I think that is a major advance in knowledge.

    All the things God can be, a human can be.

    Also, we can determine the things that don't exist without empirical evidence--but your insistance that we can reminds me of the "Black Swan" analogy...which is neo-Kantian :smile: .

    (And no, my posts are not devoted to Kant; they have nothing favorably to do with Kant's ideas.)
  23. Oct 25, 2004 #22

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Keep checking. Reexperience, and delve into the logic and psychological forces behind your reasoning.

    I saw a huge lightening flash today, seconds later I heard a thunderous boom.

    Take away my intellect, leave me like my cat who saw and heard the same thing, and who ran under the couch to hide.

    I "know" light, flash, distant . . . I "know" boom, rumble, silence. I don't need the synthesizing processes of my intellect to know that way, my cat knows the same thing. You are confusing knowing with interpreting.

    When we experience we interpret that and represent it with a concept in the mind. That intellectual warehouse of concepts some people call knowledge, but really it is a synthesis of language and interpretations attached to the experience. But that is not the knowing part of it, the experience is. You might have interpreted the light/thunderousness as a sky god. My cat might have interpreted it as a huge dog. We might never agree about the interpretation, but if we are honest, and we all saw and heard what happened, we can all report EXACTLY the same thing about what we experienced. That is what we know for certain, the rest is open to interpretation.

    Most people have reasoned with the understanding that air conditioning in a car uses more fuel than not using air conditioning, which is correct. On the surface, it seems reasonable then to leave the windows open. The problem is, reality sometimes works contrary to what common sense, ordinary logic, tells us. There is no misconception of how logic works, there was a lack of facts. How do we get facts? We test and observe. What is observation? Experience!

    For centuries Newtonian reasoning was applied. It worked admirably on most everything. Nothing could possibly clue thinkers into your so-called "blank spot" until, that is, guess what? Observational evidence started contradicting what logic said was true. Experience is what made the difference.

    Mr. Rainer, I think you need to face what you are in denial about: you are a rationalist through and through. That nonsense of yours I just quoted has been proven SO wrong. Your "reason" cannot come to proper conclusions unless you are reasoning with correct premises. You cannot be sure your premises are correct unless you can observe/experience what you hypothesize is true.

    Yes it is present. But you are confusing interpretation principles with "knowing" principles. You are right, they are not in opposition, they are totally distinct but complimentary processes. There is experience, and there is the intellect trying to interpret that experience. No matter what the intellect decides, what was experienced will always be the closest thing to a true reflection of what occurred in reality.

    Jesus, why don't we reestablish the date as 200 AK (after Kant)? My concept is probably closer to Peirce, but actually it is just my observation about how to validate things.

    Here is a simple explanation of "what works." You and a neighbor have new puppies you want to train. The neighbor thinks the dog needs total domination at all times, 24 hours a day, and so applies training in that way. You think the dog needs to know who's boss only when it challenges that. Three years down the road, his dog is a nervous wreck who cowers when you try to pet him; your dog is happy, healthy and well behaved too. Which approached "worked" best to bring about the happy, enjoyable pet one hopes to have and who also understands the rules of participating in human life?

    Consciousness is not mere awareness! A microphone is "aware" because it can detect things, but a mic is not aware it is aware. That is exactly the definition of consciousness, self awareness. If I were a microphone sitting there waiting for someone to talk, then there would be no evidence the microphone can respond unless someone talks. But consciousness has something a mic doesn't, it is aware that it is aware. So whether something external is stimulating awareness or not, that self-aware part of us can always know that it exists as consciousness.

    Read what you said. You've just negated your non-existent god proof by admitting you assigned a trait to God that is nothing. So it was YOUR invented premise that gave us a proof, not something you know is actually possible (i.e., infinity).

    I think you just have too much time on your hands. Do you really believe what you wrote? Why would being limited to what we can know rob us of volition? Man, you need to come out of your mind.

    When you were a kid, and didn't understand so much as you do now, were all the choices of the universe available to you? Now that you know more, are more choices available? We will never know it all, but that doesn't rob us of volition, it only means it is impossible to have absolute choice.
  24. Oct 27, 2004 #23
    And how do you know when you've reached the true and final conclusion?

    That is not what I meant by synthetic.

    I assume you are familiar with Kant's Analytic-Synthetic distinction--because that is the kind synthesis I intend.

    Percepts are not knowledge; they are perceptual data. They are concretes--knowledge is always the integration of concretes; knowledge is composed of abstracts. You perceive light, flash, distant...you know it is electricity ripping through the air.

    You are saying that the only true knowledge of the world is perceptible. Anything beyond that is rationality--interpretation.

    "Intreptation and synthesizing," can just be called "integrating." When you take percepts and use reason to integrate those percepts into the vast whole of knowledge--you require the use of concepts.

    You say that from percepts, integration through reason might yeild different concepts. This would go back and reinforce my idea about theories--the percepts will not change, but the theories to describe them are abstract; they are "interpretations."

    As you yourself said, there can be many, many different abstract ideas to explain a perceptual occurence. A cat thinks one thing, I think another, and you think something completely different.

    Later you describe the validation of theories kinda...so I'll talk about that next.

    And the fact is that as modern Physics has evolved, a need for epistemology grew deeper.

    I agree, the epistemologists went with what worked...like everyone else...but they looked to history.

    History has shown us what these epistemologists have come to deem what "works." Scientific problem-solving is the best explanation of what has seemed to "work."

    In short, it is the the search for the black swan. Our "intellect," may conclude something about a perceptual occurence--but how do we know that that conclusion works? History, according to certain epistemologists, has shown us that we come closer to knowing reality by revealing how our current ideas about reality are false by the rise of a newer, clearer theory.

    Would you agree with that?

    Also...would you say that certain ideas not connected to directly perceptible concretes are uncertain (e.g., the ecosystem)?

    And I agree.

    But the fact is that the "logic," of the air-conditioner analogy was illogical. It was irrational to try to prove that you could save money by hvaing the windows down. That was my only point. You cannot reason unless you have a solid basis to do so--if you disregard that, you are being irrational, illogical, and stupid.

    And I know that you agree with that; your statement is consonant:

    No ****, Sherlock...I never implied anything else.

    And we are limited in what we can observe and experience--leaving the vaster part of human knowledge to the process of induction.

    What observational evidence?

    Newton missed certain things...but that is only due to bad epistemology.

    When you have rotten induction, you will have muddled theories. With good induction, you can rest assured that your theories will be as true today as they will be 1000 years from now.

    A mic is not "aware."

    It can detect vibrations in the air and transform them into electrical signals. Serving as merely a function to react to certain attributes of reality is not awareness.

    Parakeets are conscious; but they are not aware of their own consciousness...they talk to mirrors and scare themselves with their own noises.

    Humans are aware of existence...then later, their own existence.

    I know that...which is why it is so easy to refute the literal Christian "God."

    All that you can do to escape a refutation of God is to change its identity or drop various contexts.

    And no, that does not negate a proof. Many people honestly believe that God exists as omnipotent and omniscient--I'm refuting that God.

    All other definitions and versions of God can still be resolved by the Existence > Consciousness metaphysical fact.

    Ultimately it comes down to what I said earlier:

    This would be an instance of you dropping the context.

    Read what I wrote. Then read what you wrote that I was responding to.

    I obviously meant that being limited in capability would negate volition. What we know is obviously limited, and always will be--but out capability to know more than we do today is not limited.

    Now, we both agree that reasoning only works with correct premises. These premises can come from concrete observed within reality...or they can come from other abstractions of concretes. The facts needed to prove/disprove the existential nature of God requires only knowledge of the fundamental facts of reality--something we experience by merely being conscious (because being conscious implies existence and identity and hence the existential facts of reality.)
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2004
  25. Oct 27, 2004 #24

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I can know a light flashed in the distance without having a clue what caused it. If you try to tell me I don't KNOW it happened I will tell you to go fly a kite. And my cat can know that happened too and, in fact, might never forget it if it impressed her enough.

    Yes, almost. I am saying everything we know has been established by experience, but not just perception experience (which is normally considered sense experience . . . I think there are other sorts of experience available to a human being). And yes, everything beyond what experience establishes in consciousness in rationality, interpretation.

    Yes, except I'd say ideas not connected to experience are uncertain.

    Just when I think we are on the same page you say that! It wasn't illogical in the slighest. If your premises are that air conditioning uses more energy than having the windows down, it is perfectly logical to roll the windows down to save energy. The issue here is how we get the right premises, and I've been saying its by observation, or experience. (I went with the windows-down theory all my adult life until someone here, Greg I think, posted a study done proving the theory wrong. All my friends were similarly surprised to hear that, especially my super-frugal friend who lives in Las Vegas and has suffered needlessly for some time. :rofl: Another friend who is an airline pilot, however, just looked at us all like, duhhhhhhhh :rolleyes:)

    Ha! I say we are most definitely limited in what we can experience, and that is why our knowledge will always be incomplete. So as far as "knowledge" coming from induction, boy do we disagree there. That ain't knowledge at all; it is at best good theory until the inductive hypothesis or model has been experienced.

    We do the best we can with the tools we have. Newton's epistomology was awesome compared to the Pope's at that time. Are you sure we've got epistomology all figured out now? Even if we do, the theories we have are called "theories" because we haven't been able to observe if they work as we predict. Often when a theory is proven wrong later, it is because new information comes in. How can one predict info is missing? The universe at one time was believed to be static, but then new observations showed it is expanding. So then everyone thought it was expanding at a steady pace until, that is, new observations indicated the rate of expansion is increasing. As our observational tools improve it gives us information we couldn't detect before, so it isn't necessarily "bad" epistomolgy that makes a theory not quite right at a later date.

    That also means your statement about good induction producing "theories . . . as true today as they will be 1000 years" is quite wrong. That, again, is a statement of rationalistic faith. You place too much emphasis on the logic and reason of a situation, and not enough on the quality of information.

    Also, your ideas about how knowledge-gathering works is not consistent with history. It is not a perfect, tidy little affair. It is usually quite a messy, piecemeal, hardwork, fortunate-accidents thing that takes patience and an open mind.



    One can draw an abstraction from an observation and use it as a premise in a couple of ways. For example, one can represent the observation with an exact conceptual or mathematical facimille, and reason/calculate with it; and one can make abstract inferences from the observation and do the same thing. The first case produces results most likely to be confirmed if the associated premises are similarly derived, while the second case is going to be more speculative. In both cases however nothing is empircally proven, or considered "known," until what's been calculated is observed. Why?

    Let's say you walk around your ranch to count the number of horses you have. In the barn you see 5 horses, in the corral are 11 horses, and you know your two kids are each riding a horse somewhere on the ranch. How many horses do you know have? As you can guess, the horses you can't see are the problem. Your math can be perfect, your assumptions pefectly reasonable, but until you can confirm one of your daughters hasn't sold a horse you are only guessing you have 18 horses. In fact, when you walk from the barn to the corral, and those barn horses are out of sight, right then the guesswork starts.

    There is no escaping that problem with induction or any other situation where something is calculated in the absence of experience. Even situations that have held true since humans started observing them, such as the inverse square law describing how the effect of a force relates to distance, is only "known" by its history. We assume the law will hold for future calculations, but we don't actually know if it will, or if it does at every spot in the universe. We only know it has worked when and where we have used it so far.

    Nice try, but no cigar. We don't know if we know, or can ever know, what consciousness can NOT experience which may nonetheless exist. How do we make certain that conscious existence gives us the existential facts of reality when it is as clear as day that from the moment we are born until we die consciousness is learning? Since lots of stuff will always exist that we don't know about, one of those things might be our own underlying nature. I might agree that we have the potential to experience the basis of our existence, but it does not automatically follow that we are born able to do that just because we exist.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2004
  26. Oct 27, 2004 #25
    I'm saying you most certainly perceived something occur in reality. I'm just saying that (even though one will have a memory of it occuring) if that perception is left un-integrated into one's knowledge, it means nothing to oneself.

    I have some questions: Can I have an instance of a non-perception experience? What are all legitimate "experiences,"?

    But here is the thing, in both cases the person has started with unsound premises...and he or she knows it.

    If you know your premise is not sound, and you use it anyways, that can hardly be called rationality.

    I'm a pilot as well. When I took my first flight in a retractable gear aircraft I was amazed...and it was only a Cessna 172RG...****, I got 35 extra knots just like that.

    I agree to most of that.

    But we use induction all the time, and it works just fine. Flying to the moon took plenty of induction.

    I don't remember saying any of that.

    Before I continue, I'll let you answer my questions on experience written in bold.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook