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What is Evidence?

  1. Jan 10, 2005 #1
    Evidence? What evidence do we have, but what the "experiential mind" dictates? Doesn't that in effect suggest it's not possible to know anything outside of what the mind knows? If so, then how do we present the evidence outside of "the context" of what our minds perceive? I mean how exactly are we to handle it, in what we determine what is admissable and, what isn't? It is after all, a part of "our experience."
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2005 #2
    If we all but share one mind and that mind knows everything then what more is there to know???

    Our intellect according to our genetic/cultural makeup and a bit of training allows some of us to experience more of this mind than others and project it more effectively.

    The evidence is in cross referencing conclusions form various sources whether they be indigenous old world, nu age western or alien remnants then putting it all on the net and letting people come to their own conclusions.

    Natural selection using logic, reason, intuition and instinct will decide on the best answer and collectively it will resonate with people until critical mass is achieved in our awareness then it's all happy families

    paradigm shifted
  4. Jan 16, 2005 #3
    Well I guess what I'm trying to say is what is evidence (or truth) without a mind to witness it? Doesn't that in effect suggest the evidence is wholly subject to that which does the interpreting? Where does one find any objectivity in that? But then again, maybe this is the whole lesson which needs to be learned, that we can't know the truth unless we "experience" it? And, that maybe we shouldn't be so quick to discount those things which seem to arise solely from the mind, since it is after all the only means we have by which to know anything.
  5. Jan 16, 2005 #4
    There is a school of thought which holds that:

    The Senses are the suppliers of evidence!

    I am not quite sure if the mind ever dictates. But one thing that I have personally observed is that the mind is always extrapolating and making estimates from what the senses supply. Would you call the product of this 'EVIDENCE'?
  6. Jan 16, 2005 #5
    Yes, the evidence has to be extrapolated or, at the very least "witnessed" ... which, is accomplished by means of an "experiential mind."
  7. Jan 16, 2005 #6
    What do you think of the sort of mind that has never been exposed to any information from the external world......that is from outset completely disconnected from the senses? Call it a 'HUMOID' if you like. Do you think that such a mind would comprehend, let alone appreciate, the notion of 'EVIDENCE?
  8. Jan 16, 2005 #7
    About as close as I could get to that would be somebody who was in a coma. In which case we have to ask, why do these people appear as if nobody is home? Where did their personality (and/or identity) go in other words? And yet quite often, if and when they're revived, they have these remarkable stories to tell, about existing in some other dimension or state.

    As for someone who is born in a vegetative state, without their brain hooked up, I don't see how it's possible to develop the mind, without some sort of stimulus. Unless of course it's possible to do so by means of stimulus from this other dimension? But then again, if such a thing were possible (or, such a state existed), it would probably involve a different format, and couldn't be communicated directly to this world, if the person could be revived at a later date. I suspect it would be more akin to delaying the birth experience ... albeit maybe this is what entertains the fetus (which appears to be asleep) through its development?
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2005
  9. Jan 17, 2005 #8
    This is all on the lines of David Hume's "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding". What it leads you to is Solipsism, and the only way to salvage objectivity without changing the premises is to add the "veil of mind" (as Rorty calls it). Kant added this concept, for that very purpose. Kant made it so that we don't just have our experiential mind, but that is just a biased representation of an objective sensory input. IOW, on the way from *object* to *conscious representation*, there is a filtering, of sorts, which causes you to represent something one way and someone else to represent it some other way.

    This was, IMHO, the pivotal insight/mistake(?) that caused philosophy to go down the road it's been going down since. Philosophy now only concerns itself with a theory of knowledge which will refine the accuracy of our representations.

    But it didn't have to be that way. We don't have to take all of Hume's premises for granted. You talk of evidence (which is justification of belief), and the only thing you can think of is the difference between what is real and what is percieved as such. This proves that the Hume/Kant bias is already deeply ingrained in you (as it is in most philosophers). But what if you were offered a completely different concept? What if, instead of accurate representation in the mind, what mattered for "evidence" or "proof" would simply be social convention? IOW, what if what counted as "justification" was simply what arguments would allow you to make the claim in public without being successfully countered?

    Thus, "evidence" isn't (or doesn't have to be) "what the experiential mind dictates". It could simply be what justifies a claim in argument.

    Think about it. Ever since Plato, philosophers have been concerned with "truth" as a function of how compelled we are to believe something. Before Plato, winning an argument (so to speak) was the more important thing. Truth equalled your ability to support your belief in rational argument. It did not equal some compulsion that physical objects place on you to perceive things a certain way. It also didn't equal the things about which an introspective inquiry would leave you incorrigible (that was Descartes' doing). But what if those were the wrong paradigm shifts?

    Oh well, I've babbled enough. Gotta go.
  10. Jan 18, 2005 #9


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    What counts as "a claim", "an argument", "being made in public", and "being successfully countered"? (Because I want to know:) Can it be determined whether, say, "meaning" has the same meaning for all arguers? Can all arguers be forced to follow the same rules? Can an arguer form new beliefs by arguing with itself? Can an argument end in all claims being successfully countered? I guess I should also ask what counts as "an arguer".
  11. Jan 18, 2005 #10
    Yeah, Honestrosewater says it all really. There is no intrasubjective means of ascertaining what is true (in any absolute sense). Nor can we trust our senses, which are inevitably theory-laden. Nor can we trust our reason, by which nothing can be known for certain. As Mentat says, solipsism may be the case as far as the evidence of our senses and of our reason goes. This doesn't mean we cannot know things, but it does place tight restrictions on what we can know and how, and what we should count as convincing evidence.
  12. Jan 18, 2005 #11
    A proposition.

    Reasoning that supports that proposition.

    If the proposition takes the form of utterance or text, and other members of the same "group" (peers) hear/read it, it is public.

    Simply losing in argument.

    No. But isn't it common-sensical that the meaning assigned to "meaning" which withstands argument the best will be the most socially accepted (i.e. the currently true) one?

    Not any more than all chess-players can be "forced" to follow all the rules of chess.

    What does "arguing with oneself" entail?

    Sure it can. The "truth" would then be that you hadn't yet discovered the truth about whatever it is you are discussing.

    Anyone player in a particular language-game who will play by the rules.
  13. Jan 18, 2005 #12
    This is all very fine, if we take up the biases of both Locke and Kant.

    What if, instead of thinking of "knowledge" as the accuracy of our mental representations relative to the physical things they are supposed to represent, we could at least consider the social/linguistic alternative.

    As a thought-experiment, try to think about what knowledge and truth are, without any reference to Lockean or Kantian concepts. Obviously, philosophers had some concept of what constituted "truth", "knowledge", etc, prior to the 17th century. What if all of the post-Cartesian, Dualistic, Mirror-of-nature approach to evidence and justification was misguided?

    After all, there are very few self-respecting philosophers who would promote the total, original, mind-body duality of Descartes. There are also very few who would purposely succomb to the idea of "mind-stuff" inherent in Locke.

    Now, without the aforementioned biases, philosophy might not need so complicated a vocabulary to describe things that the lay-person never has to encounter, never has to consider -- indeed, wouldn't understand. Of course, one could simply say that that one is uneducated, and so it is only logical that s/he can't conceive of higher philosophical concepts. And yet, according to the very philosophers who gave you your framework (the framework of representationalism that is at the heart of most of the comments made on this forum, along with most of the philosophies of mind ever published), there should be nothing more obvious and intuitive then those things which relate directly to one's own cognitive processes.
  14. Jan 18, 2005 #13


    All propositions are conclusions. Because of this, every one of it has a deductive origin. Even if the creator and holder of such a proposition did not intend it to be so, someone else who hears it will ensure that it so be. This is also equlivalent to adequately and materially implying that a proposition is an abberviation of a fully deduced argumment.


    All beliefs have the same quantitative and logical structures as propositions. Because of this, all propositions and beliefs unavoidably share the same epistemological fate.


    A conversation, as philosophically defined, is a collection of sentences. Without submitting to any controversy, I am willing to claim that all sentences (including questions, commands, exclamations, metaphore, etc) are propositions since they are usually intended (either directly or indirectly) to convey some truth values.

    Every conversation creates two or multiple referencial positions either in the abstract logical space or in the real external world for the installation of all participants. This is wholly compatible with saying that a conversation can take place between:

    1) A and A

    2) A and B

    3) A and B and C

    4) (A, B) and (C, D)

    And so on. However, by analysis, (1) is equivalent to someone just thinking by himself because thinking is also conversational in structure. It is equivalent to saying : "I am conversing with myself". (2) is equivalent to two people having a conversation with each other, and so is (3) equivalent to three people having a conversation. And lastly, (4) is equivalent ot one group of two people having a conversation with another group of two people. You can increase the complexities of these arrangements and regroupings as much as you like, the conversational principles governing them fundamentally remain the same.

    The standard claim in conversational theory is that:

    Every statement or proposition from every participant must contribute to the intermediate truth-values and the overall truth value of the whole conversation. That the boundary of truth is the whole conversation itself.

    That a good conversation is marked by how relevant a given proposition or statement is to the subject matter under discourse.

    PROBLEM: If you naively claim that you are a solipsist, then this is what you are quantitatively and logically implying:

    1) All proppositions are always made from A to A (you are the speaker and hearer of your own noise)

    2) All beliefs are always composed, held and propagated from A to A

    3) All conversations are always conducted between A and A

    Spooky, isn't it?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2005
  15. Jan 18, 2005 #14
    sorry but it all keeps coming back to this, which i figured out years ago.

    accept nothing as fact
    question everything
    determine your own truth
    define your own reality

    the key is the definition of nothing

    nothing is perfect
    in the space where nothing exists
    will one find perfection
    the perfect nothing


    >>so nothing CAN be known if you look for it. The space is a compactified dimension and in it all is known but not a thing exists there because thoughts are not physical ???
  16. Jan 18, 2005 #15
    It all begins with and ends with, the mind, however. Which leads me to ask, is the mind merely the mechanism by which we experience reality? If so, why should we be so quick to dismiss those things that the mind sees? ... period. Especially when it involves those things which are not a part of our everyday reality which only the mind can see, that are non-physical in other words. How do we in fact know that the mind hasn't faithfully witnessed something which actually does exist, suggesting in part that there's a whole world of reality -- an abstract dimension of thought if you will -- unto the mind itself? Indeed, is it possible that our imaginations are a living environment unto themeselves? Which of course would help to elucidate this living entity/being we call consciousness.

    Sorry Mentat, I don't mean to discount anything you're trying to say here, because it is very important that we understand the medium we have to work with when it comes to drawing our conclusions. In which case how much leeway do we really have with the observations we make with our minds, when in fact this is all we have to work with? But then again since this is all inherent with nature's design, maybe it isn't necessary for us to look outside of it (the experiential mind) for the answer? Thus far nature has been more than willing to share its secrets with us don't you think?
  17. Jan 19, 2005 #16


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    So what you're decribing is logicians using logic; A player is a logician, and a language-game is a logic, right? I ask because Logic is already established.
    But that's exactly my question- How do you know others are assigning the same meaning to a word?
    Say arguer X and arguer Y are arguing with each other. X and Y are using the same language L. X and Y are arguing about X's claim: "The interpretation of L used by X is identical to the interpretation of L used by Y." How could this argument end?
    I haven't really thought this through, but surely you all can help me along (I doubt these are new questions). Might X and Y need to decide the truth or falsity of a few more claims: (1a) L is consistent, (1b) L is complete, (2a) In all respects, X and Y are the same arguer, or (2b) In all relevant respects, X and Y are the same arguer.
    I don't know what are relevant respects in all cases. In some cases, X and Y both being humans with normal vision and having seen the sun could be relevant respects, while X and Y living in different countries could be an irrelevant respect.
    Can all chess-players be forced to follow at least one set of rules? If it isn't obvious, I'm thinking of physical rules.
    I would have said it entails that all claims are made by the same arguer. But I might have to change that, depending on the answers to my other questions.
    But don't all arguers have to agree that "we haven't yet discovered the truth about what we are discussing" is true?
  18. Jan 19, 2005 #17
    No, a "player" is any participant in a "language-game" (Sprach-spiel). There's no easy way to get through this, but I'll do my best to paraphrase the concept:

    Think of what a "game" is. Try to define it rigidly. You will soon discover that you can't, because whatever definition you come up with will either leave out some type of game (board game, card game, olympic game, kids playing games), or will be so broad that it will include things that are clearly not "games". What makes a game a game is it's (in Wittgenstein's terms) "family resemblances". There may not be any one common factor to all games, but there are many factors that are common to alot of games; games that, in turn have other things in common with yet other games which they don't have incommon with the aforementioned....

    A language-game is the same concept. There are innumerable language-games (asking for something and having it brought to you, saying something and having it repeated, asking questions, identifying objects, etc). What you will notice if you examine the plethura of language-games is that they don't all have any one thing in common, but they have "family resemblances", just like "games" (hence the term, "language-game", since categorization of a type of language use, is much like a categorization of a type of "game").

    Games, however, typically have rules. These rules can be strict, and necessarily adhered to, or they can be completely ad hoc (as with so many games that little children make up as they go along), or they can be anything in between. So with language-games; they have rules, but "rules" in different senses and to different degrees of necessity/importance/rigidness.

    So, what I was saying before was that, in philosophical discussion, the "moves" we can make (considering "philosophical discussion" to be yet another "language-game" with its own "rules") are different than the "moves" we can make in other language-games. What is important is to realize that "truth" is a mostly philosophical notion, and (depending on which brand of philosophy you are practising (social, as with the pre-Platonics; epistemological, as with the post-Kantians; etc)) can mean simply "that which I can get away with saying (i.e. a "move" I'm allowed to make) in this particular language-game".

    Logic is a set of rules for a set of "games". Logic is supposed to describe, and limit, all possible games. I won't make any claims about whether that's the case or not, but I will say that it lacks relevance, since all language-games will be bound by some rules, and those rules will be "logical" in some way or another.

    Those are assumed upon the taking up of a certain language-game. In much the same way, we assume that the rules of some new board game (for example) are going to be consistent, even if we haven't ever played the game before.

    Why would X and Y be the same arguer?

    Oh, so you're talking about when they agree with one another, right? When they agree, do they become the same arguer? Is that what you are asking?

    If so, then I'd say that it isn't an argument and doesn't enter into the problem of discovering "truth". After all, if two people agree on something, then the "game" is over.

    The point is the rules that they must follow in order to play "chess". If they start moving the king as though it were a rook, they aren't playing "chess" anymore, they're playing something else (similar to chess, perhaps, but a different game).

    Think of it in terms of "games" an my answer (the one I would give) will seem obvious.

    Why should they? As long as they all agree that they haven't yet agreed...I don't think I really understand what you're asking. Clarify please.
  19. Jan 20, 2005 #18
    Mentat, you are painting a picture of the world whose societies all function like 'Games'. The fundamental issue here is not necessarily about whether 'one or more games are ever like' but mainly about 'what is common to all games?' or 'what is the common outcome or outcomes of all games, regardless of how widely or narrowly they all structurally and functionaly vary?'

    As soon as you ask these questions, the next most important or significant questions that would confront you are these:

    1) Why do all games have these common features or outcomes ?

    2) How much do these common features or outcomes affect the way all games are currently played?

    3) What can be collectively done by all the players to structurally and functionally improve the nature of all games?

    4)And, ultemately, what is the fundamental benefit for all the players committing themselves to such a project of games improvement?

    These are the hard-headed questions that now demand carefully thought out answers. So, what are these common features? They are these:

    1) PLAYERS

    All games need Players, otherwise it is not a game

    2) RULES

    All games must have rules, or methods.

    3) PLAY

    All games need to be played. If you design a game with players and rules without ever playing it, then it would be either a furniture that you just sit down and admire forever or it is not a game at all.

    4) RESULT

    All games always result in three possible outcomes (a) WIN, (2) LOSE or (3) DRAW

    These are the key common features. The variations in the Player types, rules, or the physical designs of all games seem to be trivially insiginificant, if not irrelevant.

    PROBLEM: Every win produces Happiness for both the Winners and their loyal supporters. Every Loss produces Unhappiness for the Loosers and their supporters. Every draw brings happiness to all the players and their supporters on both sides of the game. Question: Supposing all the players structurally and functionaly progress to a point in their overall existence such that they bocome so smart that all games always end in a draw, would these players still be happy with this new state of affair? Would games still be games?
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2005
  20. Jan 20, 2005 #19
    No, no, Wittgenstein expected people to try this, and nipped it in the bud. To fuss about what is "common to all games" will lead you to a definition that is either too rigid, or too permissive. It simply cannot be done. And, even if it could, why would you want to?

    No, when you think of the difference between chess, soccer, gymnastics, and kids outside throwing a ball at one another and making up rules as they go and scoffing at the very concept of their being made more rigid (the rules, that is)...just think about it for a while.
  21. Jan 20, 2005 #20
    Clearly the answer is "None!" IMHO this is a very important question; and one not discussed anywhere in this thread! :confused:
    Oh, so now somebody knows everything do they? What round hole did you pull that out of? :rofl:
    I don't think anyone here wants to discuss it! :cry:
    Doesn't that presume a mind knowing what senses are? :biggrin:
    Aren't you being led astray here? We had this concept "a mind" (some inexplicable source of ideas). Now I can work with that and the problems it poses, but now you add "senses"! Why and where did that arise? From your mind or not? Apparently it's just another inexplicable source; but a source of what? :yuck:
    Why don't we just call it a "fetus" at the moment of conception? Or do you think that single cell is already connected to "its senses"? :rolleyes:
    Now here you have gotten so far astray as to be no longer on subject. A person in a coma has all kinds of operating connections to their senses. They breath, their heart beats, they digest food. A mind, cut off from their senses? Get out of here; you haven't even thought about this "mind" processes its ideas yet! You added "senses" and are now dividing the mind into two different states "conscious" and "unconscious"! You started with one "primitive" and are now up to three without making any progress at all. (Not even an argument as to why these three conceptual "primitives" are necessary.) :uhh:
    Now, haven't you just side stepped the whole question here? How does that mind deal with "social convention" without senses or consciousness? Off the subject???? :grumpy:
    Talk about off the subject! Like puppies barking at one another. It appears to me that everybody on this forum just spouts forth without ever putting an iota of thought into what they are saying. I think it's called Attention Deficit Syndrome. :devil:
    I'm glad someone has got this all figured out. How come I don't see lacchus32 jumping in and agreeing? :rolleyes:
    So you think "intuition" is the best source of "knowledge". How did you come to that conclusion? :tongue:
    If that were true, one would have to be pretty stupid to claim to be a solipsist then wouldn't one? Are you sure you are not oversimplifying the issues here? Would Hume agree with you? :rofl:
    Well, now we have two people who have it all figured out. :zzz:
    Sounds to me like you are trying to get back on subject. Do you really think it'll work? :smile:
    Now that's an interesting question; exactly how does one come to know the meaning of a word? Back to that fetus (or Humoid if you prefer); exactly how did it come to know the meaning of that first word it came to know? And what, pray tell, was it? :devil:
    Boy, you sure said a lot for someone who didn't understand what he was being asked! :surprised:
    Let's see now, "What is Evidence?" has been brought to "Would games still be games?" It reminds me of that "phone" game we used to play when I was a kid. One person writes something down (reasonably complex) and then whispers it to another. The message is then passed from one child to another (works pretty good with about twenty kids). Then the last one writes down the message. Finally the first and last messages are compared. They seldom have anything to do with one another. :rofl:
    I suspect that request is beyond the capabilities of most people on this forum; but, perhaps I am in error. I wrote what I wrote because I found the original question interesting (apparently no one else agreed) and a thread which avoided the whole issue. :confused:

    Is there anyone here who is interested in continuing with a discussion of exactly what the consequences of the constraint pointed out by lacchus32 might be? :cool:
    As I said earlier, the answer is clearly "None!" I think I have some very important things to say concerning the consequences of that fact, but it would require a little thought and I wouldn't want to over tax your attention span. :wink:

    Have fun -- Dick :shy:
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