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Can there be absolute truth?


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#31 Ghostrider

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:59 AM

There is absolute truth in mathematics.


"For any consistent formal, recursively enumerable theory that proves basic arithmetical truths, an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory, can be constructed.1 That is, any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete."

http://en.wikipedia....eteness_Theorem

Edited by Ghostrider, 29 May 2008 - 01:00 AM.


#32 mentatpsi

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 09:56 AM

Can anyone prove without the use of faith that reality isn't an illusion? Aside from enjoyable conversations and exchanges of beliefs, these metaphysical questions can't be answered. I hold the position that the human mind has its limitations, perhaps we can venture past them, but i feel we will at best see an incomplete picture. Be it the cause of biologically desired ignorance (the funneling of the Mind At Large as Aldous Huxley puts it in his Doors of Perception) or self imposed causes, it seems that somethings weren't meant to be discovered, for one, because of being in the experience rather than outside it.

The best we can do is to progress our knowledge of this universe we experience daily anew. Perhaps the singularity will truly enhance cognition to the point that we shall see another picture... though, i really don't know what to expect of the future.

Edited by mysticpsi, 29 May 2008 - 10:30 AM.


#33 Zoroaster

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 12:44 AM

Can anyone prove without the use of faith that reality isn't an illusion? Aside from enjoyable conversations and exchanges of beliefs, these metaphysical questions can't be answered. I hold the position that the human mind has its limitations, perhaps we can venture past them, but i feel we will at best see an incomplete picture. Be it the cause of biologically desired ignorance (the funneling of the Mind At Large as Aldous Huxley puts it in his Doors of Perception) or self imposed causes, it seems that somethings weren't meant to be discovered, for one, because of being in the experience rather than outside it.

The best we can do is to progress our knowledge of this universe we experience daily anew. Perhaps the singularity will truly enhance cognition to the point that we shall see another picture... though, i really don't know what to expect of the future.


Can't be answered?! Indeed they have been answered. Repeatedly. By philosophers throughout the ages.

And Gashinshotan, your argument is ridiculous. All you've proven is that the terms of mathematics are relative. You never even addressed the idea that two physical items when combined with two more physical items always seem to leave you with four physical items. There's nothing arbitrary about that. It doesn't matter whether you call them 2 or 9 or nothing at all its a matter of pure observation. Nor does it matter what base your number system is in.

And what about absolute truths like "every event has a cause" or "all objects take up space" or "I (or you, whoever is reading this) exist". Or to take it in another direction what about the truth that "every mother has a child" which is true always by definition since a mother is not a mother unless she has a child. Or what about the idea that something which does not exist cannot also at the same time exist. Is that not an absolute truth? You guys are just barely scraping the surface here. And please don't try to say that well "every mother has a child" isn't true because there was no word for mother until humans invented it. ITS NOT ABOUT THE WORD! Its the concept. And it doesn't even matter whether its observed or not. Even if no mother had ever been observed then I could simply defined a mother as one who had a child and then make the statement and it would be an absolute truth. Do you see? You are neglecting an entire path to knowledge which is rationalism. Not everything must be observed to be true.

With that said I actually don't believe in absolute truth. Or rather I don't believe that the existence of absolute truth can be proven, though I suppose it may exist, and I kind of hope it does. I have to go to class now but I will defiitely be jumping into this debate soon.

And just as a polite request, how about we all do some research on what philosophers have said about this issue before coming back to this subject. How can anyone even have an opinion on this subject without at least a basic review of the very large body of writings on these subjects. No offense but so far the thread has been somewhat like watching the parishoners at a fundamentalist Christian church debate the details of evolutionary biology.

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#34 DukeNukem

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 01:58 AM

The laws of physics are true, regardless if anyone can observe them, or even discover them (and so far, there's much yet to discover). But they do exist and they are absolute and true. Without them, we would not be here to ponder the question.

#35 Mewtwo

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 04:25 AM

Yes, I think that what I believe to be true is relatively absolute. :)

#36 Cyberbrain

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 04:28 AM

Absolutism or relativism, which one is your pick?

What do you mean by absolutism - http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Absolutism

#37 cyborgdreamer

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 05:14 AM

I think there is an absolute truth but our subjectivity limits the extent to which we understand it.

#38 gashinshotan

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 09:59 PM

"The uncertainty principle is related to the observer effect, with which it is often conflated. In the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle is a theoretical limitation of how small this observer effect can be. Any measurement of the position with accuracy Δx collapses the quantum state making the standard deviation of the momentum Δp larger than \scriptstyle \hbar/2\Delta x.

While this is true in all interpretations, in many modern interpretations of quantum mechanics (many-worlds and variants), the quantum state itself is the fundamental physical quantity, not the position or momentum. Taking this perspective, while the momentum and position are still uncertain, the uncertainty is an effect caused not just by observation, but by any entanglement with the environment."

http://en.wikipedia....ainty_Principle

stfu

#39 gashinshotan

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 10:01 PM

"In science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observing will make on the phenomenon being observed. For example, for us to "see" an electron, a photon must first interact with it, and this interaction will change the path of that electron. It is also theoretically possible for other, less direct means of measurement to affect the electron; even if the electron is simply put into a position where observing it is possible, without actual observation taking place, it will still (theoretically) alter its position."
stfu 2x

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#40 Zoroaster

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 11:38 PM

"In science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observing will make on the phenomenon being observed. For example, for us to "see" an electron, a photon must first interact with it, and this interaction will change the path of that electron. It is also theoretically possible for other, less direct means of measurement to affect the electron; even if the electron is simply put into a position where observing it is possible, without actual observation taking place, it will still (theoretically) alter its position."
stfu 2x


I'm not sure who that STFU was directed at but what you've described only applies to observable facts. There are numerous truths, or possible truths, that have nothing to do with observation and/or are unobserveable. I'm talking about concepts. For example what you've described has no application to the truth, "a line is the shortest distance between two points". It doesn't matter if no one ever saw a line or points (indeed no one can actually "see" a true point and there probably isn't a true straight line in existence anywhere). The truth of that statement has nothing to do with observation. There are no electrons to be altered by our observation when contemplating the topics of lines and points. Most principles of geometry are similarly immune to the uncertainty principle. As are many other topics but geometry is the easiest to understand.

Before you reply seriously stop and think about it for a while. The argument I've posted above is in essence the argument that Plato used (successfully) to refute the sophists, who were complete relativists.

#41 cyborgdreamer

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 12:56 AM

Gashinshotan, if you believe that the universe didn't exist before we were here to observe it, then how do you suppose we got here?

#42 gashinshotan

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 01:55 AM

Science needs evidence before anything is considered to be true.

"In science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observing will make on the phenomenon being observed. For example, for us to "see" an electron, a photon must first interact with it, and this interaction will change the path of that electron. It is also theoretically possible for other, less direct means of measurement to affect the electron; even if the electron is simply put into a position where observing it is possible, without actual observation taking place, it will still (theoretically) alter its position."
stfu 2x


I'm not sure who that STFU was directed at but what you've described only applies to observable facts. There are numerous truths, or possible truths, that have nothing to do with observation and/or are unobserveable. I'm talking about concepts. For example what you've described has no application to the truth, "a line is the shortest distance between two points". It doesn't matter if no one ever saw a line or points (indeed no one can actually "see" a true point and there probably isn't a true straight line in existence anywhere). The truth of that statement has nothing to do with observation. There are no electrons to be altered by our observation when contemplating the topics of lines and points. Most principles of geometry are similarly immune to the uncertainty principle. As are many other topics but geometry is the easiest to understand.

Before you reply seriously stop and think about it for a while. The argument I've posted above is in essence the argument that Plato used (successfully) to refute the sophists, who were complete relativists.



#43 gashinshotan

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 01:59 AM

Gashinshotan, if you believe that the universe didn't exist before we were here to observe it, then how do you suppose we got here?


You're missing what I'm getting at. WE created the concepts of the universe - earth, matter, atoms, electrons, etc etc. We defined and categorized the world into different definitions which were completely arbitrary. A circle is round because we defined that a circle should be called a circle! The same goes with anything and everything - we ourselves divided matter into different units, the concept of math did not exist before us. Our language, art, technology, etc. makes use of the existing universe as we first experienced it but changed it into something relevant and useful to human survival. This is what I'm trying to get at! The universe was here before we existed - but was it called the universe before we existed? Was earth called earth, the moon called the moon, the sky called the sky? We delineated the boundaries in defining what different things and concepts were - this is not absolute truth, it's relative truth.

#44 Zoroaster

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:26 AM

Gashinshotan, if you believe that the universe didn't exist before we were here to observe it, then how do you suppose we got here?


You're missing what I'm getting at. WE created the concepts of the universe - earth, matter, atoms, electrons, etc etc. We defined and categorized the world into different definitions which were completely arbitrary. A circle is round because we defined that a circle should be called a circle! The same goes with anything and everything - we ourselves divided matter into different units, the concept of math did not exist before us. Our language, art, technology, etc. makes use of the existing universe as we first experienced it but changed it into something relevant and useful to human survival. This is what I'm trying to get at! The universe was here before we existed - but was it called the universe before we existed? Was earth called earth, the moon called the moon, the sky called the sky? We delineated the boundaries in defining what different things and concepts were - this is not absolute truth, it's relative truth.


You are not even close to addressing absolute truth. Once again all you are talking about is language. You have demonstrated that the way we describe things is relative. Obviously that is correct. But you yourself admitted that the universe existed before we did. Does that mean the fact that the universe exists is an absolute truth? I'm not talking about the fact that something called the "universe" exists since it obviously wasn't always called the "universe" I'm talking about the entirety of space as a pure concept. Does it really actually exist for everybody? If you say yes then you believe in absolute truth.

I think we all understand what you're trying to say. It seems to you like we don't but we do. Now try to understand the counterarguments. Unless you bring something new to the table in a future reply (meaning something other than this odd argument from language) then I don't think I'll be repeating myself again on this thread.

#45 Zoroaster

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:30 AM

Science needs evidence before anything is considered to be true.


And one last point. Do you believe in Deductive reasoning? It seems like you don't. If I have evidence that A equals B and evidence that B equals C then can we not say that A equals C without direct evidence that that is the case? Science says we can. If you believe that science requires direct observeable evidence of everything before its considered to be true then you aren't very familiar with science. Science is based off of observation, inductive, and deductive reasoning. Like I said, there are a lot of unobserveable truths that can be proven to be universally true based on reasoning alone, thus they are unaffected by the heisenberg uncertainty principle.

#46 gashinshotan

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 03:24 PM

Science needs evidence before anything is considered to be true.


And one last point. Do you believe in Deductive reasoning? It seems like you don't. If I have evidence that A equals B and evidence that B equals C then can we not say that A equals C without direct evidence that that is the case? Science says we can. If you believe that science requires direct observeable evidence of everything before its considered to be true then you aren't very familiar with science. Science is based off of observation, inductive, and deductive reasoning. Like I said, there are a lot of unobserveable truths that can be proven to be universally true based on reasoning alone, thus they are unaffected by the heisenberg uncertainty principle.


Have you ever heard of the scientific method? Scientists don't believe any theory as fact that can't be tested. Ask ANY.

#47 gashinshotan

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 03:29 PM

Gashinshotan, if you believe that the universe didn't exist before we were here to observe it, then how do you suppose we got here?


You're missing what I'm getting at. WE created the concepts of the universe - earth, matter, atoms, electrons, etc etc. We defined and categorized the world into different definitions which were completely arbitrary. A circle is round because we defined that a circle should be called a circle! The same goes with anything and everything - we ourselves divided matter into different units, the concept of math did not exist before us. Our language, art, technology, etc. makes use of the existing universe as we first experienced it but changed it into something relevant and useful to human survival. This is what I'm trying to get at! The universe was here before we existed - but was it called the universe before we existed? Was earth called earth, the moon called the moon, the sky called the sky? We delineated the boundaries in defining what different things and concepts were - this is not absolute truth, it's relative truth.


You are not even close to addressing absolute truth. Once again all you are talking about is language. You have demonstrated that the way we describe things is relative. Obviously that is correct. But you yourself admitted that the universe existed before we did. Does that mean the fact that the universe exists is an absolute truth? I'm not talking about the fact that something called the "universe" exists since it obviously wasn't always called the "universe" I'm talking about the entirety of space as a pure concept. Does it really actually exist for everybody? If you say yes then you believe in absolute truth.

I think we all understand what you're trying to say. It seems to you like we don't but we do. Now try to understand the counterarguments. Unless you bring something new to the table in a future reply (meaning something other than this odd argument from language) then I don't think I'll be repeating myself again on this thread.


The universe as we define it did exist before we did. But we defined what that universe consisted of so how did the concept of a universe exist before we did? The same goes for anything else - sure the sun existed before we did, but we were the ones who decided to delineate what the sun is as separate from the rest of the concept we call the universe. Even the simplest categorization and separation of matter is a human invention - all matter isn't separate, different and is made from the same electrons and protons as any other piece of matter. We are the ones who created the concepts of the atom, the elements, molecules, gases, liquids, solids, etc etc. Before us there was no separation or delineation between what we now define as these things.

#48 Zoroaster

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 07:56 PM

Gashinshotan, if you believe that the universe didn't exist before we were here to observe it, then how do you suppose we got here?


You're missing what I'm getting at. WE created the concepts of the universe - earth, matter, atoms, electrons, etc etc. We defined and categorized the world into different definitions which were completely arbitrary. A circle is round because we defined that a circle should be called a circle! The same goes with anything and everything - we ourselves divided matter into different units, the concept of math did not exist before us. Our language, art, technology, etc. makes use of the existing universe as we first experienced it but changed it into something relevant and useful to human survival. This is what I'm trying to get at! The universe was here before we existed - but was it called the universe before we existed? Was earth called earth, the moon called the moon, the sky called the sky? We delineated the boundaries in defining what different things and concepts were - this is not absolute truth, it's relative truth.


You are not even close to addressing absolute truth. Once again all you are talking about is language. You have demonstrated that the way we describe things is relative. Obviously that is correct. But you yourself admitted that the universe existed before we did. Does that mean the fact that the universe exists is an absolute truth? I'm not talking about the fact that something called the "universe" exists since it obviously wasn't always called the "universe" I'm talking about the entirety of space as a pure concept. Does it really actually exist for everybody? If you say yes then you believe in absolute truth.

I think we all understand what you're trying to say. It seems to you like we don't but we do. Now try to understand the counterarguments. Unless you bring something new to the table in a future reply (meaning something other than this odd argument from language) then I don't think I'll be repeating myself again on this thread.


The universe as we define it did exist before we did. But we defined what that universe consisted of so how did the concept of a universe exist before we did? The same goes for anything else - sure the sun existed before we did, but we were the ones who decided to delineate what the sun is as separate from the rest of the concept we call the universe. Even the simplest categorization and separation of matter is a human invention - all matter isn't separate, different and is made from the same electrons and protons as any other piece of matter. We are the ones who created the concepts of the atom, the elements, molecules, gases, liquids, solids, etc etc. Before us there was no separation or delineation between what we now define as these things.


I just wrote out a long reply but you know what? Nevermind. I'm sure you see that you're just repeating your one argument over and over. Look, we get it! We understand what you're trying to say and many have already demonstrated why this doesn't negate absolute truth. Have you read any of our replies? What do you think of them? Would you care to address them point by point? Then we could have an actual debate. Because right now its just a few of us trying to show you some holes in your perspective while you close your eyes and plug your ears and repeat yourself over and over again.

Do you really think the concept of the sun is arbitrary? That we just chose a portion of space and decided to call it the sun? The difference between the sun and the surrounding space is dilineated by hard lines of matter. There is a chunk of matter which is all stuck together and is going through similar nuclear reactions. Around it there is empty space. It is not arbitrary to conceptually seperate that chunk of matter from the space around it. It has existed as a unique chunk of matter since well before we observed it and it is not different now. The fact that we named it means absolutely nothing. Besides your whole point is really irrelevant to the question of absolute truth. The question really asks, does the sun exist for everyone and everything? Regardless of what its called or how its perceived does it actually exist. If you flew into it would you burn up no matter who or what you are. If the answer is yes then you believe in absolute truth.


Then there's your comment regarding the scientific method, which is crossing the line into nonsensical. Do you even know what you're arguing against? Your response seems to have nothing to do with my post. Of course I understand the scientific method. In fact I just wrote a 12 page paper on the influence of Aristotle and his invention of inductive reasoning on the modern scientific method. Do YOU understand the scientific method?

On the off chance that you'll actually read and try to comprehend this post I'll elaborate one step further. You seem to equate observability with testability. Has it occured to you that we could test things we can't directly observe? How about the atom? We still can't directly observe an electron but we know even the shape of its different shells! How did we do that? And we knew the structure of DNA long before we could see it. And science can tell you almost exactly what happened in the first few seconds of the universe's formation, without (obviously) ever directly observing it. The scientific method is a mixture of observation, and deduction and induction from those observations. That's a fact you can't disagree with but don't seem to grasp. Now peicing this information together with my previous statements, it should be fairly elementary to see where the error in your reasoning lies.


Well that actually turned out to be rather long anyway didn't it? I just can't resist replying to people in forums like this. Its really a bad habit of mine. And looking back it was actually a little over the top in the personal insult department. I'm not going to take the time to go through and edit it all, but just don't take my hyperbolic frustration too seriously.

#49 gashinshotan

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:20 PM

I just wrote out a long reply but you know what? Nevermind. I'm sure you see that you're just repeating your one argument over and over. Look, we get it! We understand what you're trying to say and many have already demonstrated why this doesn't negate absolute truth. Have you read any of our replies? What do you think of them? Would you care to address them point by point? Then we could have an actual debate. Because right now its just a few of us trying to show you some holes in your perspective while you close your eyes and plug your ears and repeat yourself over and over again.

Do you really think the concept of the sun is arbitrary? That we just chose a portion of space and decided to call it the sun? The difference between the sun and the surrounding space is dilineated by hard lines of matter. There is a chunk of matter which is all stuck together and is going through similar nuclear reactions. Around it there is empty space. It is not arbitrary to conceptually seperate that chunk of matter from the space around it. It has existed as a unique chunk of matter since well before we observed it and it is not different now. The fact that we named it means absolutely nothing. Besides your whole point is really irrelevant to the question of absolute truth. The question really asks, does the sun exist for everyone and everything? Regardless of what its called or how its perceived does it actually exist. If you flew into it would you burn up no matter who or what you are. If the answer is yes then you believe in absolute truth.

That we consider hard lines of matter to delineate what something is only another example of the relative truth that humanity chooses to deem as absolute. The concept of a "chunk," "matter," and a "space" around it are entirely human concepts and creations. The idea of something being "unique" is also a human concept which reflects how we"separate" objects according to our severely limited visual and interpretation abilities. The fact that named it means everything - we call something because we separated that piece of matter from the surrounding molecules around it based on an arbitrary criteria that is relevant in our context, not out of a sense of truth. The sun doesn't exist for everyone and everything - do other animals delineate what they see in the sky into planets, stars, asteroids? No. We created these separate concepts from our own relative observations and methods of discriminating properties of what we define as this organization of matter as we view it through our extremely narrow range of vision and resolution.

Then there's your comment regarding the scientific method, which is crossing the line into nonsensical. Do you even know what you're arguing against? Your response seems to have nothing to do with my post. Of course I understand the scientific method. In fact I just wrote a 12 page paper on the influence of Aristotle and his invention of inductive reasoning on the modern scientific method. Do YOU understand the scientific method?

On the off chance that you'll actually read and try to comprehend this post I'll elaborate one step further. You seem to equate observability with testability. Has it occured to you that we could test things we can't directly observe? How about the atom? We still can't directly observe an electron but we know even the shape of its different shells! How did we do that? And we knew the structure of DNA long before we could see it. And science can tell you almost exactly what happened in the first few seconds of the universe's formation, without (obviously) ever directly observing it. The scientific method is a mixture of observation, and deduction and induction from those observations. That's a fact you can't disagree with but don't seem to grasp. Now peicing this information together with my previous statements, it should be fairly elementary to see where the error in your reasoning lies.

The scientific method:

"The essential elements[9][10][11] of a scientific method[12] are iterations,[13][14] recursions,[15] interleavings, and orderings of the following:

* Characterizations (observations,[16] definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry)

* Hypotheses[17][18] (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject)[19]

* Predictions (reasoning including logical deduction[20] from the hypothesis or theory)

* Experiments[21] (tests of all of the above)
"
http://en.wikipedia....ientific_method

We can directly observe electrons -

"The first video images of an electron were captured by a team at Lund University in Sweden in February 2008. To capture this event, the scientists used extremely short flashes of light. To produce this light, newly developed technology for generating short pulses from intense laser light, called attosecond pulses, allowed the team at the university’s Faculty of Engineering to capture the electron's motion for the first time.

"It takes about 150 attoseconds for an electron to circle the nucleus of an atom. An attosecond is related to a second as a second is related to the age of the universe," explained Johan Mauritsson, an assistant professor in atomic physics at the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University."
http://en.wikipedia....s#Visualisation

And the double helix of DNA was made AFTER the first X-ray diffractions of the molecule by Watson and Crick and earlier scientists, not before.
http://en.wikipedia....of_DNA_research

Scientists do not know happen during the Universe's (the thing we define as "the universe") first seconds - they openly admit that it is only a theory and not a fact. The theory resulted from decades of direct observations of an expanding universe which must have been much smaller according to the current laws of physics and time - it is not a fact and can never be tested.

Well that actually turned out to be rather long anyway didn't it? I just can't resist replying to people in forums like this. Its really a bad habit of mine. And looking back it was actually a little over the top in the personal insult department. I'm not going to take the time to go through and edit it all, but just don't take my hyperbolic frustration too seriously.

What personal insult?

Edited by gashinshotan, 31 May 2008 - 08:22 PM.


#50 eternaltraveler

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:48 PM

"light, in the absence of eyes illuminates nothing. Visible forms are not inherent in the world but are granted by the act of seeing. Though the world and events do exist independent of mind, they obtain no meaning in themselves... none that the mind is not guilty of imposing on them"- Trevor Goodchild.

#51 VictorBjoerk

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 09:16 PM

Deep thread......... :p

#52 mentatpsi

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 10:39 PM

Are we referring to scientific absolutism such that consistent empirical evidence demonstrates truth or are we trying to peer at an underlying truth of nature? Also, wouldn't this argument go towards the existence of "super-nature", since absolute truth dictates universal truth be it observable/influential or not? What about the minds of schizophrenics, to ask whether their reality is true or merely the inability to distinguish imagination?

Btw Zoroaster, good argument of using physical laws to illustrate pre-observation.

Excellent quote elrond :p

Gash, from what i'm seeing you're providing the use of conceptualizing something into a different existence (which isn't absolute), but truly we're just labeling a "chunk" to better define it and study it. It really is just a way of using symbols to help us communicate among other people, but now the symbol is associated with the "chunk"... they're still the same thing.

Edited by mysticpsi, 31 May 2008 - 10:40 PM.


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#53 DukeNukem

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 11:23 PM

You're missing what I'm getting at. WE created the concepts of the universe - earth, matter, atoms, electrons, etc etc. We defined and categorized the world into different definitions which were completely arbitrary. A circle is round because we defined that a circle should be called a circle! The same goes with anything and everything - we ourselves divided matter into different units, the concept of math did not exist before us. Our language, art, technology, etc. makes use of the existing universe as we first experienced it but changed it into something relevant and useful to human survival. This is what I'm trying to get at! The universe was here before we existed - but was it called the universe before we existed? Was earth called earth, the moon called the moon, the sky called the sky? We delineated the boundaries in defining what different things and concepts were - this is not absolute truth, it's relative truth.

This POV has taken the concept of observance and quantum uncertainty to a child-like extreme. The universe and the laws governing it exist whether we are here or not. We (life) are inconsequential to the universe and its ongoing existence. And it will likely long outlive us, with no one here to observe its inevitable cold death trillions of years from now.

"light, in the absence of eyes illuminates nothing. Visible forms are not inherent in the world but are granted by the act of seeing. Though the world and events do exist independent of mind, they obtain no meaning in themselves... none that the mind is not guilty of imposing on them"- Trevor Goodchild.

Even this quote is weak sauce. Electromagnetic radiation may not be "visible" without life to interpret it, but it will still have physical/chemical/quantum influence on any matter it touches, and is therefore as real as whether we're here to witness its effects or not.

#54 mentatpsi

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 12:56 AM

"light, in the absence of eyes illuminates nothing. Visible forms are not inherent in the world but are granted by the act of seeing. Though the world and events do exist independent of mind, they obtain no meaning in themselves... none that the mind is not guilty of imposing on them"- Trevor Goodchild.

Even this quote is weak sauce. Electromagnetic radiation may not be "visible" without life to interpret it, but it will still have physical/chemical/quantum influence on any matter it touches, and is therefore as real as whether we're here to witness its effects or not.


The quote is referring to meaning placed rather than bare existence... for instance, the way art is merely meaningless blobs of color arranged in different patterns, yet when viewed it can resonate with the individual to represent more abstract concepts.

#55 Zoroaster

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 01:38 AM

That we consider hard lines of matter to delineate what something is only another example of the relative truth that humanity chooses to deem as absolute. The concept of a "chunk," "matter," and a "space" around it are entirely human concepts and creations. The idea of something being "unique" is also a human concept which reflects how we"separate" objects according to our severely limited visual and interpretation abilities. The fact that named it means everything - we call something because we separated that piece of matter from the surrounding molecules around it based on an arbitrary criteria that is relevant in our context, not out of a sense of truth. The sun doesn't exist for everyone and everything - do other animals delineate what they see in the sky into planets, stars, asteroids? No. We created these separate concepts from our own relative observations and methods of discriminating properties of what we define as this organization of matter as we view it through our extremely narrow range of vision and resolution.


I don't even know how else to explain this to you. Look it doesn't matter how we cut it up, it doesn't matter what we name things, all that is skirting the issue. If a bug or a human or anybody takes off towards the sun will they or will they not get burned up (assuming this flying object is flamable)? Is that universal? If so then it doesn't matter whether we call it the sun or whether we call it Fredrick. It doesn't matter whether we think of the sun as its own object or whether we think of the volume around the sun as part of the sun or whether we think of just the core as being the sun, it doesn't matter at all. What matters is that there are bodies there (bodies being a term meaning basically "things") and that those bodies have properties that are independant of the observer. Meaning once I get close to the sun I cannot control whether or not I get burned up. It is the sun that burns me up. The sun burns me up no matter what I call it and no matter how I describe its properties or no matter how I conceptualize it or combine it with other things. That right there is a universal fact. If you disagree with this then you must believe that people, or bugs, or things can control whether or not they get burned up when flying towards the area that we call the sun. Do you believe this? Ok, so that's point one.

Here's point two. In fact this is an entirely seperate argument since our little debate about the sun doesn't actually address the issue of universal truth. This one does. There are many truths which are not even observeable that can be shown to be universal (for evidence of this idea see my arguments in the sections below). Since you didn't address these issues the first time around I will now have to repeat myself. Take the statement "all events have a cause". Show me how this is not a universal truth. And please don't do it by picking apart the works "event" or "cause". Think of the pure concepts. How about, "a line is the shortest distance between two points". Please demonstrate for me a situation in which this is not the case. Once again, of course I can conceptualize a situation in which a line was instead called a "grippler" or something like that and in that case the shortest point between two lines is a grippler and not a line. That is not at all what I'm asking you to do. I am talking about the concept of a line and the concept of two points. Man may have put words to these things but that doesn't mean we invented them.


The scientific method:

"The essential elements[9][10][11] of a scientific method[12] are iterations,[13][14] recursions,[15] interleavings, and orderings of the following:

* Characterizations (observations,[16] definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry)

* Hypotheses[17][18] (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject)[19]

* Predictions (reasoning including logical deduction[20] from the hypothesis or theory)

* Experiments[21] (tests of all of the above)
"
http://en.wikipedia....ientific_method


I'm not sure why you included this. It seems like you were worried that my argument was too weak so you decided to support it further by providing evidence for the points I was trying to make. I've bolded and enlargened the critical part of what you posted. Correct me if I'm wrong but you were arguing that the heisenberg uncertainty principle guarentees that we can not observe something without also affecting it so all facts from observation are relative. I then pointed out that there are facts that can be known without observation and so the heisenberg uncertainty principle doesn't negate all universe truth. Then you basically said, "stfu u don't no scienz its all obsrvtn!!!!". Then, without my prompting, you posted the above and proved yourself wrong. Thank you.

So we see that the scientific method is about observation in the light of deductive reasoning. Experiments cannot be designed nor can their results be interpreted without it. Deductive reasoning is a critical part of how we explore our world and our acceptance of it as a valid way of knowing truth is implicit in the way we conduct scientific experiments. Inductive reasoning comes in to play when applying your results to a larger population. For instance if you give hemlock to 2,000,000 rabbits and they all die, then it is inductive reasoning that allows you to conclude, "hemlock kills rabbits". Assuming your experiments were properly controlled of course. So, since your whole beef with reasoning being valid seemed to be that it wasn't part of the scientific method, now we can hopefully put this silly portion of the argument to rest. Deductive reasoning is a valid way of discerning truth.

This is important because it means that if we can come to a universal truth that is not based on observation at all then your argument does nothing to invalidate its universality. Points of that nature include the "cause" and "line" statements I made in the section above.


We can directly observe electrons -

"The first video images of an electron were captured by a team at Lund University in Sweden in February 2008. To capture this event, the scientists used extremely short flashes of light. To produce this light, newly developed technology for generating short pulses from intense laser light, called attosecond pulses, allowed the team at the university’s Faculty of Engineering to capture the electron's motion for the first time.

"It takes about 150 attoseconds for an electron to circle the nucleus of an atom. An attosecond is related to a second as a second is related to the age of the universe," explained Johan Mauritsson, an assistant professor in atomic physics at the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University."
http://en.wikipedia....s#Visualisation

And the double helix of DNA was made AFTER the first X-ray diffractions of the molecule by Watson and Crick and earlier scientists, not before.
http://en.wikipedia....of_DNA_research

Scientists do not know happen during the Universe's (the thing we define as "the universe") first seconds - they openly admit that it is only a theory and not a fact. The theory resulted from decades of direct observations of an expanding universe which must have been much smaller according to the current laws of physics and time - it is not a fact and can never be tested.


And here you are vainly attempted to support your bizarre thesis that science involves no reasoning and only observation. Have we observed electron clouds forming sp1, sp2, or sp3 orbitals? No. Yet we know their shape based on mathematics (a science of nearly pure deduction by the way). And we can perform chemical reactions that at times depend on these specific orbital shapes and they work according to our predictions, thus demonstrating that our orbital shapes are correct. Yet they have never been directly observed.

And you once again proved my point with the example about Watson and Crick. Is x-ray deffraction a method of direct observation? Not at all. Did the diffraction pattern show them the shape of the molecule? No. From the patterns derived from refraction they were able to deduce the shape of the DNA molecule. They took data and figured out what the shape had to be to have given that result. That is deduction not observation.

What about evolution? Do you believe in it? No one has observed evolution. I don't think its possible in a strict sense. But we have observed bones. We have observed measurements changing in different generations of birds and rats. We have observed the results of genetic tests that show patterns and trends from which we have deduced the principles of evolution and natural selection. There are numerous, numerous examples. You can't seriously argue that science is based on pure observation without deduction or induction. If you still don't believe deduction is necessary, you may not fully understand what deduction is.

But this is all ancillary to the point. Now that we're all informed about the basics of science we can actually talk about universal truth. In fact, I would be thrilled if in your next post you could address the validity of universal truths derived from pure deduction. I would love to debate someone on that topic.

#56 Zoroaster

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 01:41 AM

Crap sorry that post was so long guys. I really need to work on making my writing more concise.

#57 mentatpsi

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 11:19 PM

Can anyone prove without the use of faith that reality isn't an illusion? Aside from enjoyable conversations and exchanges of beliefs, these metaphysical questions can't be answered. I hold the position that the human mind has its limitations, perhaps we can venture past them, but i feel we will at best see an incomplete picture. Be it the cause of biologically desired ignorance (the funneling of the Mind At Large as Aldous Huxley puts it in his Doors of Perception) or self imposed causes, it seems that somethings weren't meant to be discovered, for one, because of being in the experience rather than outside it.

The best we can do is to progress our knowledge of this universe we experience daily anew. Perhaps the singularity will truly enhance cognition to the point that we shall see another picture... though, i really don't know what to expect of the future.


Can't be answered?! Indeed they have been answered. Repeatedly. By philosophers throughout the ages.
...


sorry about that, i didn't see the post... regardless philosophers are just philosophers... they have just spent more time thinking and elaborating on their beliefs. They're interesting to look at, and they have spoken truths, but it only hints at our subjective experience, it doesn't focus on absolute.

Edited by mysticpsi, 07 June 2008 - 11:21 PM.


#58 cyborgdreamer

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 06:15 AM

Gashinshotan, I agree that we're each living in a subjective reality within the mind; a world based on symbols, images, and concepts that aren't objectively real. Yet, it doesn't mean that there is no objective reality. My concept of the sun may not be an objective truth, but it is based on the objective reality of the sun and its light (assuming you don't belive that the world is an illusion). I have a mental image of the sun because my brain detects the solar light rays that strike my retina. When we open our eyes, we don't see the world so much as our brain's interpretation of the world. But even this asserts that we actually have an objective world to interpret.

#59 gashinshotan

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 09:05 AM

Gashinshotan, I agree that we're each living in a subjective reality within the mind; a world based on symbols, images, and concepts that aren't objectively real. Yet, it doesn't mean that there is no objective reality. My concept of the sun may not be an objective truth, but it is based on the objective reality of the sun and its light (assuming you don't belive that the world is an illusion). I have a mental image of the sun because my brain detects the solar light rays that strike my retina. When we open our eyes, we don't see the world so much as our brain's interpretation of the world. But even this asserts that we actually have an objective world to interpret.


If there is no consciousness that can view the world objectively, how can there be an objective truth?

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#60 cyborgdreamer

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 10:26 PM

Gashinshotan, I agree that we're each living in a subjective reality within the mind; a world based on symbols, images, and concepts that aren't objectively real. Yet, it doesn't mean that there is no objective reality. My concept of the sun may not be an objective truth, but it is based on the objective reality of the sun and its light (assuming you don't belive that the world is an illusion). I have a mental image of the sun because my brain detects the solar light rays that strike my retina. When we open our eyes, we don't see the world so much as our brain's interpretation of the world. But even this asserts that we actually have an objective world to interpret.


If there is no consciousness that can view the world objectively, how can there be an objective truth?


We can't directly experience objective reality but we can infer its probable existence from our subjective experiances.




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