Back    All discussions

2016-02-22
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Would like some responses on these thoughts:

Space is the negation of substance, of reality, of being; thus, space is nothing, unreality, non-being.

Can anyone see nothing or imagine nothing? Yes, for space is nothing. To see nothing means to see no thing.

Consequently, we do not see things in space; we see things alone and their negation, viz.,space.

Things do not occupy space. For then, what does space occupy?

Things negate space, i.e. nothing.

Take a plastic bottle of 1 ltr. How much water can it contain? 1 ltr. Squeeze it, can it contain 1 ltr of water? No, why? Because the bottle being squeezed increasingly negates space allowing less negatability for another (meaning that negatibility for it increases at the same time). For perfect density = perfect negation of space; less density = less negation of space. That which is negated cannot be again negated without the destruction of that which negates it.

Zero = infinite; therefore, space = infinite; it can be infinitely negated by things without quantitative or qualitative alteration.

Theory of Relativity: the negatability increases where the positive thing increases (by energy increase, mass increases); thus, in higher speed space is more negated, giving rise to the phenomenon of shrunk space, which is nothing but more negated space.

Zeno’s Paradoxes: (1) On Density - Zero = infinite: on division remains same; 1 = finite in relation to multiplicity, infinite in relation to divisibility: on division does not remain same, yet never becomes zero. Zero is neither extensive nor intensive (there is no point where space meets space), while 1 is both extensive and intensive (made up of infinite points, for it takes infinite value to negate zero). Since 1 on infinite division, still never becomes zero, 1 is real. Thus, zero cannot be applied to 1.

(2) On Motion – (a) Achilles and Tortoise - The paradox only exists because it does not take the element of speed into account. (b) The Dichotomy – The distance between the runner and the finish line is infinitely divisible. Thus, it would take infinite time for the runner to complete the course. However, since the runner has an equal amount of infinite time (it is equally divisible as the distance) so the course can be completed.

2016-04-06
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
There are many brief assumptions which might hold problematic.  Also, defining 'nothing' as "no thing" and then equating that to 'space' seems in some way circular and insufficient as a base explanation. 

Why is the concept of Space contingent upon the positive existence of things.  What if one denies the existence of things and substances but instead believes in processes and rules. Does the concept of 'space' in this case still apply?

Also, basing an objective 'nothing' on epistemology and material claims leaves one to question the accuracy of the tool.  I.e. If one perceives a change in space, does it actually represent what she perceives or could she be mistaken? If she can be mistaken, how can one verify these claims?


2016-07-19
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
To me it all boils down to 0 and 1, binary contrasts, as in computer programming, art, etc.,,  some places there is something (figure) other places there is the canvas (ground). I don't see it as nothing, I see it as quiet that sets off that which is.  

2016-08-18
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Domenic,

Your first premise, "Space is the negation of substance", is stated as if it were something we should take as self-evident or otherwise acceptable without further support. This is, BTW, the well-accepted view of the pre-Socratics, who called it the Void and contemporary physics, which prefers to talk instead about spacetime.

However, it is at least as plausible to presume that space is a substance which is the opposite (or negation) of another kind of substance called matter/energy. So, your argument that space is non-substantial because it is non-material just begs the question by assuming that "things" are the only possible substances and that space is necessarily nothing or unreal.

Parmenides, Zeno's mentor, denied the existence of space and argued that, without space between things, they all became inseparable from The One.

You also say, "Can anyone see nothing or imagine nothing? Yes, for space is nothing. To see nothing means to see no thing."

The first part is obviously circular because what you are trying to prove is that space is nothing or unreal; yet, you simply assume it. You also equivocate on the meanings of "nothing" and "no thing". "Seeing nothing" means that you can't see anything; not that you do see nothing. If its is completely dark or if you are blind, it's not that you inhabit a world of nothingness that you are seeing. Rather, your ability to see the things that are still there, ... whether you can see them or not... is impaired. Just because you can't see anything, doesn't mean there is nothing there.

"Consequently, we do not see things in space; we see things alone and ... (expand) their negation, viz.,space."  
  
This does not follow from what you say in your premises. It's just another of your assertions.

"Things do not occupy space. For then, what does space occupy?

Things negate space, i.e. nothing."'

Again, these are just assumptions of yours. I would rather say that things coincide with parts of space. Space is infinitely large and infinitely divisible, so it does not occupy anything, as you seem to agree. For space to be the negation or the opposite of things, i.e., matter/energy, may NOT mean that space is therefore nothing. It could mean space is a different kind of substance.

Trying to imagine what kind of substance that might be is the same kind of empirical hypothesizing as imagining what kind of things constitute sub-atomic particles, the Higgs field or spacetime.  

You asked for some reactions and these were mine. I don't want to appear harsh or dismissive of your ideas but in my thread, "The Reality of Spatial Relations", I argue that it makes much more sense to think of space as something, rather than nothing.

I welcome your comments.

Thanks,
DCD 

2016-08-19
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hello Daniel--
I have a few preliminary reactions to your post.  You call Domenic on his assumptions, yet you state something that I know not to be true, but I cannot definitively prove that it is false, i.e., "space is infinitely large and infinitely divisible." No.  This is a closed dynamic system under God.  Important concept that is borne out by many of Einstein's works, in that everything affects everything else, which would not occur in an infinite system.  

I agree with you that space is not the "negation of substance."  A substantive object occupies space, I would argue, which is an innocuous process.  Negation is active.  The object "takes up space" but does not constitute a negative process, nor is it associated with negative energy, as with, say, spiritually demonic succubus activity which actually actively consumes space and causes an energy deficit purposively (I.e., black hole). 

To me space, like unseen spiritual processes is very real.  It constitutes a possibility.  It can provide residence for something, as a new canvas to paint.  Currently my house is trashed because I've been sick, and it is summer in Montana.  I'm more prone to gardening than cleaning.  I'm an artist who saves everything because it seems it all has some prospective purpose in a future project. Consequently, my space even to move through my home safely is seriously constrained.  I'm very Catholic, but probably need to enlist a Buddhist to "clear me a space."  I'm going to run out of writing space here soon, because I'm not of pro-status in Philosophy, so I need to cut short my initial reactions.

"Can anyone see or imagine nothing?"  Interesting question that relates to what I refer to my John Lennon hiccup cure, which works even (especially) with children.  You get hiccups, which without my going into details that are difficult to substantiate, has to do with a time warp of sorts.  You need to get back in sync.  You hold your breath, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a closed chamber.... TBC

2016-08-22
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Tami,

Thanks for your comments but I was thinking we would discuss physics, not theology. Elsewhere, we could discuss how spiritual process are actually physical processes but these comments were about how space could be a positive, substantial part of the physical universe.

DCD

2016-08-23
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hi Daniel--
I'm so thankful for your particular response to my post, as it highlights a classical "problem" that I've encountered in a number of forums of PhilPapers, which appears to be predominantly an expertly moderated site.  I'm a Psychologist and I've been criticized for talking about psychology in philosophical terms on the forum examining Cognitive Science (what?).  

I say problem in quotes above because your comment incited me in a productive way, which I feel is beneficial to dialogue.  This site is Philosophy of Science and this particular thread is examining the philosophy of some physical science principles, I'll give you that Daniel.  

However, it is philosophy of physics we are looking at, correct?  I'm a scientist, not a philosopher and a fairly rigorous one.  I'm also a holistic healer who is very genuinely (positively) spiritual.  I like to examine the "gestalt" of a situation rather than be restricted to one particular perspective.   I find it is not loose, but rather comprehensive, thus more responsible to do so, if one is clear in expressing one's terms and thoughts.  

Consequently, theology (a branch of philosophy) would seem to be a relevant discipline to employ in examining in a conceptually concise, substantiable manner, unseen physical elements (such as passive and active processes that innocuously displace [occupy] or progressively consume [negate] energy in space), which I highlighted, I thought clearly, as different processes.  

The postulates that I posted, I believe, go beyond assertions, and are actually mathematically (epistemologically, if you will) substantiable.  Do you think yours and Dominic's statements pass that muster?  I don't believe so.  Yet, you suggest I'm speaking out of context here, where you are supposedly talking hard physical science?  To borrow from my texting twenty-something son who is a genius (sorry to brag) hahahahaha.   Regards, Maria

  


2016-08-23
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
John Lennon hiccup cure as it relates to time and space and being out of sync continued...
I will reiterate the pre-TBC part:

"Can anyone see or imagine nothing?"  Interesting question that relates to what I refer to as my John Lennon hiccup cure, which works even (especially) with children.  You get hiccups, which, without my going into details that are difficult to substantiate, has to do with a time warp of sorts.  You need to get back in sync.  You hold your breath close your eyes and imagine yourself in a closed chamber...

(Really try to image this as you read and the next time you get hiccups, really do it if you are inclined and able. It works! ;-)). There are material items in the chamber, say a table, a lamp, a chair, corners of the room, a ceiling and a floor, but with your focus, you strive for them to disappear.  Suddenly the table is gone, the chair, the lamp, there is nothing in there, no ceiling, no floors, no corners.... Suddenly it is an empty white room (of possibility-- given our theme in this thread).  You focus (hard) on the lack of stuff, the emptiness of this chamber....  

You lose yourself in the something-nothingness of this previously material-occupied space.  If you can focus in an existentially present and honest enough manner (which is difficult, but achievable, depending upon your current environmental, emotional, historical, etc. context.  It is possible, but try not to blame yourself if it doesn't work.). You have irritating hiccups that keep happening and increasing anxiety about performance, as well as concern about the outcome, which can interfere with "sitting with the process".  The anxiety-performance curve [look it up- helpful theory in psychology] is associated with depreciating abilities.  It's like Olympic volleyball.  If you miss a shot and dwell on it, you may get upset and use your "pie diagram" of energy understandably, but unproductively.  You may miss the next shot due to self-recrimination.  

This works best with very small children who listen and try hard when one tries to help.  Try it.  I'd be interested as to your associations as to how this, I think, is highly pertinent to this thread and life. Love, Maria....

2016-08-24
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

RE: "you state something that I know not to be true, but I cannot definitively prove that it is false, i.e., "space is infinitely large and infinitely divisible." No.  This is a closed dynamic system under God. "

Sorry but this sounds s lot more like theology than philosophy or physics.

How do you know you it's not true that "space is infinitely large and infinitely divisible."?

If it's just to say "No. This is a closed dynamic system under God" I do see how you, could consider this anything but a (very questionable) theological assertion,

Further, maybe psychologist think that theology is a branch of philosophy but I don't think many philosophers would agree to that.

I don't see the epistemological or mathematical sustainability of your assertions ay all but they are clearly outside the context of philosophy of physics.

Odd that you mention Gestalt because thinking about space in the way I recommend requires a kind of Gestalt shift in how we conceptualize or represent space in our rigorous philosophical vocabulary. Philosophers and scientists alike these days think of space as inert, Domenic takes it even further to suggest that it is literally negation or nothingness. That's why is take a shift in your Gestalt to think of space as dynamic, even though it is non-material. It does take some effort, it's true. My argument is that when we think of or "see" space in this way, we reap many benefits in understanding the nature of physical reality. Rather than assuming that space is "a closed dynamic system under God", I assume space is a infinitely large and infinitely divisible dynamic substance with the power to accelerate matter and to structure matter and energy in three spatial dimensions.

DCD

.

2016-08-24
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hi Daniel--  Thanks for your response.  As with the previous post to which I responded, it engenders all sorts of reactions in me, which I find stimulating.  Even if we disagree, we are catalytic in our dialogue.  I won't have a chance to address it all here given space limitations.  
You imply that this forum is examining physics (the hard science) rather than the "philosophy of physics," which wasn't my understanding.   My statement re: "this is a closed, dynamic system under God" is literally a truism.  Did you not have a creator that allows one unified organizing factor to facilitate your systematic "rigorous philosophical vocabulary?" How do you and other rigorous philosophers coordinate your work without a unifiying element?  Explain how you originated?

As you examine physical science here, you deny the most prominent genius in physics, Albert Einstein, who demonstrated theoretically with impressive mathematical substantiation (epistemological justification, right?) that all things are relative, thus everything affects everything else. Explain to me how that works in a system where "space is infinitely large and infinitely divisible." Don't tempt me (as an actual scientist) to pull the esoteric card.  Might you join this loose psychologist who has the gall to bring theology into the argument --down here on the terra firma, where the same principles should apply as up there in the hallowed, safe zones of esoterica.  

My house, my community, my state, has parameters like my u*ni*verse (all existing matter and space considered as a whole; he cosmos.  The universe is believed to be at least ten billion light years in diameter...) by definition.  

I said we dwell in a closed dynamic system under one creator God.  I didn't say that was just space. You haven't acknowledged my cogent point about how occupying and negating space are not the same processes.  One supplants space, the other actively consumes it.  Different.  

What you label as theology, I call, systematically and conceptually clearly, capturing unseen forces highly relevant to all branches of science.  Out of room. Not a pro, but respect y'all. ;-). More later.  Best, Maria



2016-08-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams

Hi Tami

RE: The universe is believed to be at least ten billion light years in diameter.”

But we all wonder - don’t we? – what is outside “the universe”. Someone says: nothing. But how much further does “nothing” stretch? And if it ends, what’s outside that? It boggles the mind – well, my mind anyway – and most of us, I think, just put it in the too-hard basket.

I’m told physicists can explain it all by notions of space-time, the "multiverse", etc. Not being a physicist, I’m unlikely to understand their explanations. And even if I did, I suspect I would still have my doubts… 

Some philosophers would probably tell me that my inability to understand is simply due to the limitations of human understanding. Perhaps. But how do they know that, since presumably they have the same limitations?

Moral: Don’t spend too spend much time gazing into the starry sky.

DA 


2016-08-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

RE: " My statement re: "this is a closed, dynamic system under God" is literally a truism.  Did you not have a creator that allows one unified organizing factor to facilitate your systematic "rigorous philosophical vocabulary?" How do you and other rigorous philosophers coordinate your work without a unifying element?  Explain how you originated?"

In the rigorous vocabulary of philosophy, a truism is a tautology: a statement that is logically true or true by definition. For example, "All triangles have three sides" or the classic, "Bald men have no hair". Of course many bald men (and women) now have replaced, implanted or re-grown their hair, so it is factually false. But, by definition, this truism is still true. By the definition of "bald", someone with a wig or Rogaine is no longer bald or they are bald but wearing a wig and, therefore, not a counter-example of the original statement. A figure with more or less than three sides is not a triangle, by definition. The point here is that a truism or tautology is always true, no matter what facts you might point to, because their truth is not the kind that informs us about the world. It informs us about how we choose to define words. Tautologies or "truisms" are "logical truth". The other kind of truth is "empirical truth", based on experience, on facts we can use to verify or falsify empirical claims. So, if  "this is a closed, dynamic system under God" is literally a truism, it is empty of empirical content and does not tell us anything about what exists in the world. I don't think this is how you think about your God, is it?

What you actually mean, I think, is that you believe there is an undeniably compelling argument that if one can even think and reason or make a rigorous vocabulary at all, it points to or implies the existence of a Creator that made this possible. It argues (or simply assumes) that there is no other possible way to explain intelligence in the universe than to assume that an (all-) intelligent being "created' it.

This is an argument, indeed, a famous one in the history of  philosophy, called the argument from design. Aristotle makes a similar argument. St. Thomas recapitulates Aristotle's argument as the last of his "Five Ways" of proving God's existence. William Paley's famous "Watchmaker Argument" also uses the same logic purporting to show that the existence of complex order or design in the world could not have occurred "by accident", so some principle of order, designer or what you call a unifying element that, somehow, is needed to explain the origin of beings like us.

The argument from design, and any of St. Thomas' other ways of "proving" God, are rejected by most academic philosophers as unconvincing or fallacious arguments. I won't get into the fineries of attack and defense of proofs for the existence of God here, but suffice it to say, to do so would not be to discuss physics or even philosophy of science.

Science explains that organic life comes from carbon atoms, which have great advantages over other elements in combining with each other to form complex molecules that, eventually, become capable of reproducing themselves. Further, these complex reproducing molecules are subject to the principle of natural selection which says that organisms compete for the same resources that fuel their reproduction, creating conditions of scarcity that eventually eliminate those species of life that are less successful in completing their cycles of generational reproduction. Species of organisms, consequently, evolve into more and more powerful "reproducing machines" that eventually try out every possible strategy of reproduction available. We are talking about 3-4 billion years or so of trials and errors building these organic machines, as they compete for the finite resources available in their particular regions of the Earth, or ANYWHERE in space where the conditions necessary for life exist.

People hated ... and still hate... Darwin because his theory of evolution contained in "The Origin of Species", did actually explain naturalistically how the apparent design of plant and animal species originates on the planet. You seem to be remarkably uninformed about these things that are pretty basic stuff to most academic philosophers. Maybe you think you needn't be restricted by these established arguments but you will need to do more than simply repeat these same arguments to convince people here of that.

I should say "most people here" because there will always be perpetual naysayers, like Derek Allen, who is allowed by the editors to flood these forums with his "denialistic" attempts to undermine every effort to have meaningful discourse about the kinds of things philosophers like to talk about. I see he has chimed in here to say that to discuss whether space or the universe is finite or infinite is just another misguided attempt to decide rationally on something that cannot be determined and, therefore, should not be discussed. He is yet another proud non-philosopher who likes to tell us repeatedly that we should just shut up talking about things we can never know. That's like me going into a forum on medical science or psychology and saying that were all full of crap because they haven't read enough Aristotle. I was sorry to see Mr. Allen's post because I know he will try to ruin this thread, too. Sigh....

So Maria, I find your comments stimulating, too, and still hold out some hope that you, and others, will try my Gestalt about space on for size and see how it feels. I also suggest you look at Kant's writing about space in his Transcendental Aesthetic, as it may give us some common vocabulary for further discussion. There is an extensive introductory discussion of this in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy which I recommend to you. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-spacetime/

Thanks,

DCD

        

2016-08-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi Daniel

I wasn’t going to comment on your post at all until I read it through and found that I had received honourable mention.

I should just correct one or two points for the benefit of others on the thread. 

I don’t in fact think that “whether space or the universe is finite or infinite… should not be discussed”. There are probably very few things I think should not be discussed and this is certainly not among them. My point was simply that, as I said, the question “boggles the mind” – not an original thought by any means of course, and the great Pascal, as I'm sure you know, said it much more eloquently. My last line about not spending too much time gazing at the stars was – as I hope was obvious – meant ironically.

RE: “He is yet another proud non-philosopher who likes to tell us repeatedly that we should just shut up talking about things we can never know.”

Not quite how I see myself. I do think it is unwise to assume one knows things that one in fact doesn’t, and I suspect I annoy people at times (you among them perhaps) by pointing out that a given assertion is in reality open to doubt. But that is surely within the bounds of legitimate philosophical discussion. Socrates certainly seem to have thought so. (Though lest I be accused of hubris among my many other faults, let me hasten to add that I’m in no sense comparing myself to Socrates.) None of that is intended to suggest that people should “shut up”. Quite the reverse in fact. I enjoy honest and open discussion and always hope that my comments will help it continue.

I should perhaps add that I certainly wasn’t trying to discourage Tami from pursuing her line of thought. I was simply pointing out that the notion that the universe is a certain finite distance in diameter poses problems – which it obviously does.  

DA


2016-08-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Man, Daniel.  For now----Thank you so much!  Your response is precisely what I have been seeking here. Scholar to scholar, regardless of our discrepancy in training, stimulating dialogue from different historical and academic perspectives is the grist we need for intellectual growth.  You have gifted me with some carefully selected pearls of your arduously achieved, rigorous philosophical body of knowledge, which is culled from years of study.  I feel honored to receive your thoughtful response.  

I came here wanting to expand my understanding of the most relevant and rigorous philosophical principles to enhance my work and to provide a catalyst for my accrued experience and understanding of that which can enhance knowledge and life generally so that I can refine my contribution to the same.  

I have read most of your well-crafted post and have a number of reactions.  I want to read further and think about what you have written, as well as sleep on it, probably.  More tomorrow and again thanks. Dialogue at this level doesn't occur everyday or just anywhere.  Bless you for your attention to my comments.  All the best, Maria



2016-08-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek--
I didn't feel that you or anyone was telling me to "shut up" :-) at least not directly.   My point regarding the closed or finite nature of the universe is that, I believe, that this "unknowable" can be epistemologically/ validly surmised based upon Einstein's extensive works, given that everything wouldn't affect everything else unless there are parameters to the system. I believe that the "unknowable" can be known through logic (and theory, mathematics and empirical data) but perhaps I am wrong. I'm certainly open to feedback or I wouldn't bother to write and learn here.  

Best,  Maria  (aka Tami)

2016-08-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

It's good to know to consider this to be a topic that should be discussed, even though you think "most of us ...  just put it in the too-hard basket". I assumed you meant to include yourself in that group but forgive me if I was wrong.

What Maria/Tami wrote was "The universe is believed to be at least ten billion light years in diameter" [my emphasis]. Though other things she wrote may suggest otherwise, this statement suggests it may be more than this finite distance. I agree with you, though, that the notion of a spatially finite universe is problematic, if not mind-boggling. This is one argument I am hoping to pursue here, as a way of showing how space is best represented as an infinite, dynamic, non-material substance ... and not unreal nothingness, as Domenic's original post in this thread asserts.

I agree, also, that "it is unwise to assume one knows things that one in fact doesn’t". However, I would include assuming that one knows a philosophical topic is useless or "too hard", when one doesn't, is equally misguided. Glad to know you are not suggesting that here. Glad, too, that you think it is surely within the bounds of legitimate philosophical discussion hope our honest and open conversation will continue.

Thanks.

DCD


2016-08-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hello Daniel--  The forces are not with me.  I had a reply to this half written and my computer froze, so I must reconstruct.  I hate that.  I have more reaction than will be contained in my limited allotted space given that I'm not a PRO philosopher, so I'll attempt to condense and perhaps add more later, at the risk of continuing to "ruin this thread." That's what I like about a juried site, where there is a juror who allows commentary that may run counter to the "good old boy network," which can become unwittingly entrenched in mutual mental masturbation about comfortable old [in this case, philosophical, banter], unfettered by contributions from other disciplines or perspectives.  I promise you, you are not alone in your criticisms of my type of contribution that you deem to be "outside your box," however relevant in my view.  I've been accused of "playing piano in the plenary" of the conference, distracting from the proposed mission (what was that, again?).  In any case, why would I prevent your cohorts from filling the possibilities that exist here [the "space," the reply box, I'm currently typing within]? You can carry on here with known others who are allowed by the juror to post "acceptable" responses to your comments.  Right?
I used truism thinking of the dictionary definition under LOGIC.  Here's an example: "Logic is helpful because it makes sense."  Also, utilizing logic which has a structure that is broadly comprehensible, as is true with sound, cogent communication, we can travel from esoterica to a place where we can show that what we've learned has actual value down on the ground where we live for more than just the gratification of basking in the knowledge we've developed with our friends in a particular niche. (Fascism, really, and potentially quite destructive).  Tautology, a similar term, I'll admit, under the LOGIC definition means "a statement that is true by necessity by virtue of its logical form."  Negative depictions/definitions of both words might add that such a statement, "adds nothing."  Not true, when certain people persistently fail to acknowledge obvious and substantiable truths or, in muted form, at least fail to entertain alternative perspectives that might challenge their entrenched schemata (you appear to have the problem, philosopher).  Almost, out of room.   No time to address what I feel is your reductionistic misinterpretation of Darwin, his elegant theory and extensive empirical data.  I'm actually quite familiar.  Have been to the Galapagos with a scientist very much like him-- my dad ;-). 


2016-08-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria, I hate it when that happens to me, too. Can't tell you how many of my pearls of wisdom have been lost to the void of accidental deletion. :(

But I am no elitist, good old boy, mental masturbator or misinterpreter of Darwin, as you seem to suggest.

I just find your claims and arguments difficult to understand and, like a good old philosopher, I seek clarity of meaning for now. That's all.

DCD
 

2016-08-27
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Good morning Daniel

RE: It's good to know to consider this to be a topic that should be discussed, even though you think "most of us ...  just put it in the too-hard basket ". I assumed you meant to include yourself in that group but forgive me if I was wrong. 

I do include myself. Most certainly. In fact, there are lots of things I put in the too-hard basket. (I’ll spare you a list.) Which doesn’t mean that I don’t think about them from time to time or that I think they should never be discussed. It’s simply a way of saying that certain questions seem to defeat us – me anyway. How can space be infinite? we think. It must end somewhere. But how could it? What would be “outside” the end. So finally the mind (my mind anyway) turns to something else it thinks it might be able to deal with more successfully. I suspect lots of people have this experience. (And you yourself say: “I agree with you, though, that the notion of a spatially finite universe is problematic, if not mind-boggling.”)

RE: "What Maria/Tami wrote was "The universe is believed to be at least ten billion light years in diameter" [my emphasis]"

Yes, that’s what I quoted. But it was not the size of the diameter I was thinking about. It was the fact that it could have any diameter at all.

I might add that I often have a similar problem when I hear scientists talking about the “big bang”. They sometimes give the impression that once they’ve sorted that problem out completely, the whole kit and kaboodle of existence will be sorted. But what came before the big bang, we ask? There’s no “before” they will answer, because there was no time. But what does that mean? We can’t imagine – and can they? – a condition in which there was nothing and no time. So once again, the mind boggles…

RE: “I would include assuming that one knows a philosophical topic is useless or "too hard", when one doesn't, is equally misguided.”.

Not “useless”. I don’t think I used that term, did I? In fact, it may well be very useful to think about these “too-hard basket” questions now and then. Perhaps they are a reminder of the “human condition”. In fact, we would be a bit surprised – wouldn’t we? – if someone said to us that they had never thought about the (alleged) endlessness of space.

DA


2016-08-27
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams

Hi Maria

RE: “I believe that the "unknowable" can be known through logic (and theory, mathematics and empirical data) but perhaps I am wrong.”

And perhaps you are right. I think many scientists would share your opinion. Personally I’m rather sceptical. There are many things that seem to be beyond the grasp of science, and I wonder if, in the end, this might not be another one.  

DA 


2016-08-29
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Thanks, Daniel for validating the frustration of the computer freeze. At the risk of waxing theological, sometimes sudden loss of data in the midst of controversy just feels demonic.  

I took the time to read, understand and respond to your arguments.  I don't feel that you endeavored to do the same.  I just don't agree, nor do I concur with aspects of your sentence two above.  That's all. Perhaps, all that's left for us is to agree to disagree.  I appreciate the portions of your lengthy response from yesterday, which taught me about relevant philosopher's work.  That type of cross-disciplinary teaching (as I indicated previously) is the reason that I am here. 

TGIF and happy late summer weekend (at least here in Montana). Not sure from where you hail  Mary (F.O.G.?  Not sure about that anymore, given<-- now that is cryptic, feel free not to get that one :-))


2016-08-31
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

I did read your arguments carefully and that's why I gave you a long response and some resources to help advance our conversation. You can quarrel over the accepted meaning of philosophical terms if you want but that won't advance the dialogue.

I'm curious why you object to my interpretation of Darwin and the evolution of species. I'd love to hear  about your experiences in the Galapagos and how that pertains to your objections.

I'm on the East coast and do not understand your cryptic hail Mary. Maybe you can explain that, too. Have a good long weekend.

DCD

2016-09-01
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Happy Hump Day Daniel--
Before I possibly respond further to your most recent comments, I have a brief reaction...

I don't remember mentioning Darwin in my post, but perhaps I'm forgetting.  I talked several times about Albert Einstein pertinent to the topic of physics on this thread.  So... I'm inclined to ask...

In the words of one Tina Turner (a woman who didn't always apparently bring out the best in old Ike)... What's [Darwin] got to do, got to do with it?"

Best, Maria

2016-09-02
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Good point, Derek--  In reading your post, I realize that my statement was not what I intended.  I should have said something more like, "I believe that the 'unknowable' can be better known through logic..." 
I was just enjoying a late afternoon breezy summer read under the shade of my maple tree --was looking at my first issue ever of Philosophy Now (a philosopher friend gifted me with it a few months ago-- great magazine.  Issue 98 from Fall 2013).  It "tickled" all sorts of things in me.  I read an article about the cover philosopher Albert Camus, and read about synthetic vs. analytic philosophy, featuring series' of statements, often somewhat contradictory from various famous philosophers.  I found, novel and fascinating, the "truths" that emerge from their sequential presentation. Terribly stimulating stuff.  

You may be wondering by now if this all tickled something relevant to the current topic.  Why, yes I think it did.  After reading a number of features in this well constructed magazine, including also, a number of contributing philosophers' response to the question of the issue: "What is the present nature, and the future, of philosophy?" I wandered around my garden and let my mind percolate.  

I "synthesized" my perusal of the journal with something that a spiritual scientist like myself often finds problematic in academic thought.  Scholars feel that they must "know" things with certainty, when only God knows, and knows at a level that cannot ever be completely articulated, leaving us to grapple with tolerating the ambiguity of the sacred mysteries.  Gifted linguists like Chomsky who are eclectic and profound, I believe, acknowledge this in their work. Language, even the language of mathematics, as well as the fruits of rigorously enacted scientific methods, can never really "prove" anything completely.  At best, we have conceptually sound theories, that are epistemologically supported by their logical underpinnings, carefully collected empirical observations, statistical analyses, etc. that provide a guide as to how to discern (not judge) how to better "know what we know" and hopefully more effectively to navigate our environment.  



2016-09-08
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

Sorry it's taken me a while to reply. Hope you had a good long weekend. I've had a lot of work to do lately but I wanted to give you some response about "what's Darwin got to do, got to do with it?".

I got into natural selection as part of a response to your question, "How do you and other rigorous philosophers coordinate your work without a unifying element?  Explain how you originated?"
I suggested this was an argument disguised as a question and that it's called the argument from design. The rhetorical implication of the question is that the only way to account for the origin of beings like ourselves is by reference to God. Hume and Kant gave satisfactory rejections of this argument but Darwin actually answers the question with his theory of evolution.

I'm envious of your trip to the Galopagos with your dad... how cool! I would love to go some day to the places where Darwin first observed the effects of natural selection on the evolution of species. Do you disagree that his theories explain the origin of species, including the origin of the genus homo and the species  to which you and I, and even Derek Allen, belong?

Thanks,
DCD
   


2016-09-12
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
I'm a little overly incited by your response but will attempt a succinct temporary and hopefully not over-reaction. 
Creationism and Evolutionary theory, as many have said, written about etc. are not incompatible. 

Further, from whence did you originate to engage in the process of evolution.  "By design" if you deny the existence of God, please indulge me in your answer or I will assume a dogmatic, oh excuse Godmatic stance predicated upon logic. (As I have said previously, perhaps in a different forum, a statement like that is not a truism or cliche etc. unless you listen and give an answer to my damn statement and/or question sir. Respectfully Dianna, I mean, Maria

2016-09-12
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
RE: "Do you disagree that his theories explain the origin of species, including the origin of the genus homo and the species  to which you and I, and even Derek Allen, belong?"

This is uncharacteristically generous of you, Daniel. Much obliged. 

DA

2016-09-14
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria/Dianna/Tami ,

Well it's true many theologians argue that God created evolution but this is just an ad hoc argument, as I see it. You can cling to that belief if you want but it is not needed or even useful in an explanatory sense to do so. Once life begins on a planet, it will reproduce itself in any way it can. Some methods of reproduction work better than others and, over time, those organisms better fit to reproduce will use up whatever resources they need in order to do their reproductive and other forms of work, thereby eventually "starving out" the other organisms who are less fit to reproduce. It's not a hard theory to understand and it requires no theology for it to make sense.

I select the things I believe are true based on the evidence and reasons I can find for them. I don't start out with a belief and then try to look for reasons to believe it. We all have our biases but they don't have to be the things we use to justify our beliefs. Dogmatic or faith-based beliefs come under the same scrutiny as any other belief. It's not who said it or where it comes from that determines my acceptance of a belief, except in as much as the origins of the belief are consistent with the accrual warrants for the belief.

You claim of "compatibility" is also somewhat troubling to me. It almost sounds like "consistency" in the logical sense that both claims might be true in precisely the same (unequivocal) way. But, like so many of your usages, M/D/T, it is ambiguous (like your name. LOL). Beliefs or theories are consistent with one another in a logical sense when they, together, form a set of statements (propositions) can all be true, without stating or implying a contradiction (an unequivocal statement of the form "A and not A"). I would argue that evolution and creationism together constitute an inconsistent set of statements. But they might still be "compatible" psychologically for some people, leading them to think that they are also logically consistent. People don't study logic much anymore, so they don't recognize the difference between good and bad reasoning. indeed, I find most people quite willing to accept logical contradictions and inconsistent claims as kind of cool and paradoxical. Sometimes its logical tension is even seen as a reason to believe it and a refusal to accept contradictions and inconsistencies is seen as dogmatic.

I understand this reaction because logic is a complicated and tricky, yet thoroughly rigorous, discipline. It's very technical and hard to understand if you don't take the time to learn it ... much like mathematics. So, even if we talk only of logical consistency ( not the fuzzier "compatibility"), we still run into some problems in deciding if it's OK logically to believe both creationism and evolutionary theory. Two statements can form a consistent set if they have nothing to do with one another at all. It could be that these "competing" theories are just talking about different things or offering different kinds of explanations. Perhaps the choice between the two is a false dichotomy. Like saying,  "Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?" "Well ,,, maybe both. Or neither." God or evolution? Perhaps they are just irrelevant to each other. Perhaps God is just becoming irrelevant as an explanatory force in the post-modern world we inhabit now. Some still cling to it. Others give up on that kind of explanation entirely. I tend to see value and consistency between both kinds of explanations, but that's an even longer conversation.

DCD

  
     

2016-09-15
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi Daniel

RE: “Once life begins on a planet, it will reproduce itself in any way it can’”

This is not really a counter-argument. If God is omniscient (usually said to be one of his attributes), he would know in advance what path evolution would take. So there is no logical inconsistency here for a believer in such a God.

RE: “It [evolution] is not a hard theory to understand and it requires no theology for it to make sense.

True, but if one assumes an omniscient God, there is no contradiction either. (One might say that he would need to be a very patient God, waiting all those billions of years for humankind (made in his image etc) to evolve. But the religious person might simply reply that to God time is as nothing etc. After all, he is said to inhabit an eternal realm).

DA


2016-09-16
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

I distinguished between pairs of statements that are inconsistent (both cannot be true but both may be false) and those that are contradictory (if one is true, then the other is false). I'm not trying to disprove the existence of God, Creationism or even the New Age version of Intelligent Design. I'm not offering a counter-argument, either. People can choose to believe whatever they want. God knows YOU are the proof of that! (<You know I jest>)

I'm just saying, if you believe evolutionary theory is true you cannot also meaningfully believe in a Creator God or Intelligent Designer as the best explanation that accounts for the world that beings like us know, You have the freedom to believe it, but it would be pointless as part of the explanation provided by the way natural selection works to originate new and sustain old species.

Evolution is a sufficient explanation, in that you don't need anything else in order for it to do its explanatory work, Creation would also be sufficient to account for things, if it were true.

DCD  

2016-09-16
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hi Daniel --- I attempted to post a response to your last post in response to mine yesterday, but the jurors have neither accepted nor rejected it.  It was on the sarcastic side, yet I meant every word.  I hope it gets posted.  It may be a bit too controversial or aggressive.  I err in the direction of both.

Anyhow, in the interim, I want to attempt to provide you a link that addresses what I feel is your misconstruction of Darwin's theory, its essence, it's elegance, as well as its scope and limitations.  

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2745620/

There is possibly a more efficient way to include the above link, but I'm not aware of it.  Please turn to the fourth page of the document that addresses how the origin of life (something barely, and seriously inadequately addressed in Darwin's theory) is NOT equivalent to the origin of the species.  They are two different concepts, something historically overlooked in uncareful students of Darwin's theory. 

The first is a discrete event that has never been explained, nor can it be without a higher being that I KNOW exists (prove that I don't), the second is an ongoing process that occurred afterward.  

Respectfully, Maria




2016-09-16
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

I'm well aware of that distinction and was hoping you would bring it up. I have a theory about that, too. Go figure. haha

The origin of life (not the origin of the universe) is a very specific problem in evolutionary biology. It has been explained in several different ways but none of them has been satisfactory. That is hardly a convincing argument that it cannot be explained without a "higher being", as you keep insisting.
Are you seriously suggesting that if I cannot prove that you don't KNOW God exists, this somehow proves that God does exist? 

The answer to the "mystery" of the origin of life on earth (the only place we have observed it to exist, so far) lies in the atomic structure of the carbon atom. This structure enables carbon to exist in both inorganic and organic forms. It is ideal for constructing complex molecules with other carbon atoms and with many other elemental of atoms. These can combine with each other into chains of monomers and polymers, including one called RNA. RNA can be observed to form naturally under laboratory conditions. It is capable of reproducing its structure in successive generations and of synthesizing proteins. The problem has been to figure out how one and the same molecule could do both things. If a molecule could do both of these kinds of "work", it could then evolve over successive generations based on the relative success in reproductive work caused by the kind of work done in protein synthesis. 

This goes beyond Darwin but does not contradict his basic understanding about natural selection. For now, suffice it to say I'm well-prepared to discuss the origin of life as well as the evolution of life, once it has begun.

Finally, is there any chance we will get back to discussing space, where all this began?  

Thanks,
DCD 


2016-09-16
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

I'm well aware of that distinction and was hoping you would bring it up. I have a theory about that, too.

The origin of life (not the origin of the universe) is a very specific problem in evolutionary biology. It has been explained in several different ways but none of them has been satisfactory. That is hardly a convincing argument that it cannot be explained without a "higher being".

Are you seriously suggesting that if I cannot prove that you don't KNOW God exists, this somehow proves that God does exist? The answer to the "mystery" of the origin of life on earth (the only place we have observed it to exist, so far) lies in the atomic structure of the carbon atom. This structure enables carbon to exist in both inorganic and organic forms. It is ideal for constructing complex molecules with other carbon atoms and with many other elemental of atoms. These can combine with each other into chains of monomers and polymers, including one called RNA. RNA can be observed to form naturally under laboratory conditions. It is capable of reproducing its structure in successive generations and of synthesizing proteins. The problem has been to figure out how one and the same molecule could do both things. If a molecule could do both of these kinds of "work", it could then evolve over successive generations based on the relative success in reproductive work caused by the kind of work done in protein synthesis. 

This goes beyond Darwin but does not contradict his basic understanding about natural selection. For now, suffice it to say I'm well-prepared to discuss the origin of life as well as the evolution of life, once it has begun.

Finally, is there ay chance we will get back to discussing space, where all this began?  

Thanks,
DCD 

2016-09-17
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

HI Daniel

RE: “I'm just saying, if you believe evolutionary theory is true you cannot also meaningfully believe in a Creator God or Intelligent Designer as the best explanation that accounts for the world that beings like us know, You have the freedom to believe it, but it would be pointless as part of the explanation provided by the way natural selection works to originate new and sustain old species…. Evolution is a sufficient explanation, in that you don't need anything else in order for it to do its explanatory work,..”

Yes, I agree that a Creator God or Intelligent Designer would add nothing to the explanation of how natural selection works. But when you say “Evolution is a sufficient explanation, in that you don't need anything else in order for it to do its explanatory work”, the question arises: what is the “explanatory work” in question, exactly? If, for example, it involved the emergence of human consciousness, one might well object, depending on one’s thinking about what human consciousness might be, that it is not a sufficient explanation. And if one were a religious person (as you know I am not) and believed in a religious conception of man (soul etc), then again one could well object that it is not a sufficient explanation.

I am not trying to be difficult here. But depending on one’s point of view about what “man” is (man in the sense of humankind rather than homo sapiens) one might well want to argue that natural selection is not (to quote you) “the best explanation that accounts for the world that beings like us know”.

DA 


2016-09-18
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

I was talking about the origin of species, particularly the origin of our own species, homo sapiens sapiens. I was not including consciousness in the conversation, at least not at this point.
Species of plants are probably not conscious but they encounter the same limitations on evolution as animals do. Even animals may or may not be conscious and such consciousness may or may not be explained by biology. As you know, I think that requires some additional reasoning, which is superfluous to the current argument about origin of species.


As to the objection of the religious believer, it would turn on an inability or plain refusal to understand the claims of evolutionary science, as I think is the case with our friend Maria. I don't deny there may SEEM to be something missing psychologically for the religious believer contemplating their lives without a belief that they have always held sacred. Been there; done that. But that has nothing to do with how nature operates to select species based on their relative ability to complete cycles of reproduction over many generations; that is, to be a species extant on this planet.  

Thanks,
DCD 

2016-09-19
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hi Daniel

RE: I was talking about the origin of species, particularly the origin of our own species,  I was not including consciousness in the conversation,…

But the question is: can one talk about homo sapiens sapiens without including consciousness? What would such a creature be? Can we even conceive of it?

DA



2016-09-19
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hi Daniel--  Feel free to get back to the original spirit 'o the thread-- Space...  I was speaking more about that topic when you injected Darwin and I never did figure out "what Darwin has to do has to do with it."  I don't think you really answered that question, but then we started debating aspects of his theory for some reason ?  I had been referencing Einstein, which I thought was relevant to the topic at hand, but don't remember mentioning Darwin, although, I could be mistaken.  (It actually happens frequently, no matter what a tragically overconfident 'arse' I seem to be.) 
To clarify--- I don't expect you to accept that there is a higher being that originated life, even though I KNOW one exists through my own personal history, my epistemology, extensive data that this organism has accumulated through her sensory apparatuses.  I can't prove that to you beyond perhaps face to face conversations that would take a long time, where I could relay lengthy depictions of that experience, including miracles I've encountered, and interactions with that being over a long period of time...   I would ask that you don't bring a psychiatrist to our meeting ;-).  All that I said to you in the post is, you can't prove that this organism (me) is wrong about my experience of God.  This relates to my previous statements about what I feel is the misguided belief that some scientists, philosophers, etc. have that everything is capable of being explicated and even proven, including the important unseen elements of life, which I find to be the most important glue that exists (love...).  Any good scientist or even mathematician will tell you, nothing can ever really be proven for certain even utilizing quite rigorous methods.  

I'm a staunch critic of reductionism having worked as an emotional healer in the trenches for many years, with extensive training in neurophysiology, neuropsychology...  As a clinical and school psychologist, I can tell you that psychometrics (psych testing) and medical testing (EEG, MRI) etc. can provide valuable information that can guide interventions, but there is no substitute for sitting (attentively and lovingly) with a child who struggles with assignments, getting to know the obstacles and how he responds cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally so one can sleuth out the problem and provide careful corrective guidance to the child and his educators.  Out of room... Best, Maria

2016-09-20
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hi Daniel--  I'm going to re-attempt to respond to this post in that my initial response last week was rejected by the moderators as too confrontational.  In reviewing the aggressive tone and content of what I'd written, their judgment was very justifiable.  Once life begins on a planet, it will reproduce in any way that it can.  Some methods of reproduction work better than others and, over time, those organisms better fit to reproduce will use up whatever resources they need in order to do their reproductive and other forms of work, thereby eventually "starving out" the other organisms who are less fit to reproduce.  It is not a hard theory to understand and requires no theology for it to make sense.  

My initial overreaction to your statements and the aggressive tone of my previous attempt to respond stem from a long-standing concern about the view that the organisms of life are inherently breeders who will do anything to further their own survival.  I find this a dismal view of "people," even homosapiens, who much data would suggest have devolved in their benevolence relative to other creatures, such as single-celled organisms on up to slippery sea creatures, and our furry friends of the terra firma.  I find this to be a common misinterpretation of Darwin's elegant theory of evolution, the process that followed the discrete moment of creation (two different concepts, as we have previously discussed). This type of misinterpretation has resulted in dangerous misapplications of this theory, including Social Darwinism.  

A careful study of the theory of Natural Selection and associated empirical data, reveals that it is more a passive, albeit somewhat judicious process, rather than an inherently competitive one, particularly within a particular species or community, even given the food chain, where one species may survive by feeding/ relying upon another as a part of the natural order.  If what you say were true, we would not see the beauty and harmony we still see today particularly in nature.  I am running short of space and hope that this response to your comments is more constructively stated (nowhere to go but up from my last attempt- communicating honestly and passionately can be messy business).  Best, M

2016-09-21
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams

Hi Tami

I’m not sure I follow your train of thought entirely. But if you are saying that evolutionary theory falls a long way short of providing an adequate explanation of human behaviour, I would agree with you.  

Some people try to explain altruistic acts by claiming that this somehow assures the “overall” survival of the species. (Dawkins argues this, I think - I have never taken the trouble to read him.) Perhaps it does – who knows? – but I’m sure that would be the last thing in the mind of someone who gives up their life for another. People sacrifice their lives for love, for their comrades in battle, and perhaps for their ideals. I can’t recall any who gave up their lives for the continuation of the species.

I’m not suggesting that Darwinian theory is wrong – and I don’t think you are either. But when it comes to human motivations and human behaviour, Darwin tells us very little in my view (as perhaps he would have agreed).

DA


2016-09-21
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams

It all boils down to reductionism, doesn't it? LOL.

 

So let's talk about the parts and the wholes with which they are coincident. The part-whole relationship is not well-understood in the literature, and so the debate between reductionists and anti-reductionists (of whatever ilk you choose) is also misinformed. "Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?" becomes the crucial question, as if it posed a true dichotomy, and not a false one, as I would argue. It's a false dichotomy because the word "sum" gets a weasel-word usage here. The sum of my 4 quarters is a whole dollar. The sum of my 16 ounces of coffee is a whole pound of coffee. No more; no less. But what makes me a whole person is not the sum of any finite number of distinct quantities that add up to me, DCD. The weight of my parts add up to the weight of my whole body, to be sure. But how heavy is my charming personality, my musical talent or my stunning good looks? Or my self-effacing sense of humor?

 

Addition is a precise and rigorously reliable mathematical process that sums up the quantity of things we have of a particular kind of thing (or all things). So, the sum of the parts in the whole assumes that all the parts are fully quantifiable to start with AND that, in some DIFFERENT sense, the whole is also quantifiable, such that we could compare the 2 quantities and calculate the difference or equivalence of the 2. I think it is only way in which we could ever answer the question "Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?" OR, "Can we reduce the whole to the sum of its parts?"

 

What, is often left out of this attempt to debate is the fact that it isn't numerical quantities alone that determine the wholeness of a composite thing. Remember that everything, even the "fundamental" particles of the Standard Model, is a composite object. It has parts that comprise whatever it is as a whole.

 

But the parts are not just numbers or size. They are also shapes. Shapes don't add up numerically; they organize themselves geometrically or spatially. Thus, it isn't just the numerical value of the parts that gets summed up; the parts also align spatially, according to the laws of geometry, according to how the shapes of its different parts coincide with parts of space. Of course, it's not just shapes but, when you add in motion, you get properties like velocity and angular momentum that all have to "add up" in our predictions of how it will move and be moved.

 

So, it's a bad question. Better to ask is there a difference between the whole and the structure of its parts? And the answer is, No, because the whole is identical to the specific structure of its parts; not different in any way. An obvious example would be the parts of a watch, each in its own drawer on the watchmaker's bench vs. a ticking watch assembled from them. Since the weight of the configured pieces is equal to the weight of the parts separately, it promotes the label of "reductionism". But then, culturally, the literature wants to label as "reductionistic" someone who recognizes that the whole can be numerically equal to many different configurations of its separate parts.

 

So maybe, whatever it was about my reductionistic insolence that got your censorship-level dander up, might be reduced to this weasel-word “sum” and the ambiguity of darkness its vague meaning spread over a now-enlightened word-scape. Or maybe not. But I try. Hope those censoring moderators allow our seditious communications to pass along uninterrupted very soon.

 

DCD  


2016-09-21
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek--  I appreciate your comments and I agree wholeheartedly.  I'd be happy to expand upon the aspects of my train of thought that are unclear to you, if you'd like to specify.  I've been traumatized a lot and sometimes I fear that my commentary can be perceived as a locomotive that may run over the reader at times.  It's helpful for me to be forced to explicate my points further.  
I know I've read a little Dawkins in the past, yet don't remember, but it sounds a little like Wynne-Edwards and Lorenz' notions regarding group selection.  I share your view that "people sacrifice their lives for love... [probably not] for the continuation of the species."   Altruism literature relies heavily on the multiple examples in life of hero behavior, where people jump without hesitation into a raging river to save a stranger, disregarding the imminent threat to their own survival.

At a fairly high level of abstraction, it brings me to something I've been musing about as I've been indulging in PhilPapers.  I'm tired of having to tolerate so many 'isms' and 'ologies.'  I think they generalize and delimit to simplify, and have utility if not abused or overused, but if so, something is lost.  I'm a woman who is multi-ethnic and I don't want to be discriminated against, but I don't want to identify as a feminist, or an anti-racist per se.  While movements can highlight a societal problem, they often end up fostering division.  I'm a individual person with multiple facets and don't want to divide myself into causes in the interest of self protection.  It seems terribly counterproductive to me.  

Loosely, it isn't that different than the soldier who takes the bullet for his comrade out of love for the other, rather than self-protection, or some theorized DNA-driven need to ensure yet another of the species isn't lost.  Ultimately, realistically, I believe that the majority of us who remain (survival of the fittest souls) are a collection of diverse individuals who share the indigenous commonality of greater love for the other particularly in times of great need.  I'm out of room, but have further to say later. :)


2016-09-21
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Oh Man DCD--  There is a lot in there.  Seditious-- now that's a sexy word.  Perhaps the censorship should continue lest we reveal too much.  
I have many reactions, but I'll start with my initial biggest one after reading your post, thoroughly but rather quickly.  It is worth multiple perusals and I'll do that, but for now...

So, it's a bad question.   Better to ask is there a difference between the whole and the structure of its parts? And the answer is, No, because the whole is identical to the specific structure of its parts; not different in any way.

Really?  Am I misreading your comments prior to that, where you say:  

But what makes me a whole person is not the whole of any finite number of distinct qualities that add up to me, DCD.  The weight of my parts add up to the weight of my whole body to be sure.  But how heavy is my charming personality, my musical talent or my stunning good looks...

Also, self effacing and often undoubtedly dumb to learned others (ME) but don't you rather dramatically contradict yourself there, DCD?  Isn't all that personality, etc., in there somehow in the sum of those parts and the catalytic synergy thereof?  You want to posit a one-to-one correspondence re: what's in DCD, yet somehow all of those other amazing outgrowths occur.  How?  Is it in the dynamic interplay of the shapes bouncing around with high velocity?  Can you specify the processes with precise mathematical equations?  

Burning questions on my damn mind....  ;-). Maria or Dianna or Tami.  Just don't call me late for the debate.


2016-09-22
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams

Hi Tami

RE:  Altruism literature relies heavily on the multiple examples in life of hero behavior, where people jump without hesitation into a raging river to save a stranger, disregarding the imminent threat to their own survival.

Yes, I forgot those examples. Like the person who races into the surf to save someone (he doesn’t know) from a shark. But even there I think it’s odd to say that the motivation is continuation of the species. To start with, both people might die, which doesn’t do a lot for the species. Second, I think that in real life the motivation has a lot more to do with a sense that to do anything else would be a kind of unforgivable cowardice (and of course there are some who don’t jump into the raging river or the surf, so not everyone is a hero).

Doubtless the Dawkinses of this world would simply reply that the impulse to jump in and try to help in such cases has been “programmed” into us by evolution which favoured altruistic conduct etc. So whatever we might think our motivation is, that’s the real one. But where does that logic stop? If we are “programmed” here, why not in everything else too? Which would, of course, mean the cowardly and wicked things we do as well as the heroic and altruistic ones. (Sade would have found that conclusion attractive!)

In short, thinking of this kind leads ultimately to a nullification of human psychology: people are essentially robots driven by forces outside their control. The “inner life” is just smoke and mirrors. A very cold, de-humanising doctrine in the end.  Applied to human experience science usually ends up there. 

DA 


2016-09-22
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
OK, I'll stick with Maria, for entirely non-rational considerations.

I don't think I am contradicting myself at all, Maria. My argument is that personality and appearances don't have to do with the size or weight of the parts in the body, but with how they are organized in space. Ideas, perceptions, reasoning, charm, personality ... these are just different ways in which the pieces are fit together in people. Of course you understand that a thought or a feeling is just the specific electro-chemical (neurological) states of the neurons in the brain and the rest of the body, at a given moment on time. In every moment our bodies are electric with the power of our cells to do chemical work that determines how we go about our animal functions, ever the "higher" ones of human cognitive and conscious life.

So it's not at all contradictory to say that "the whole is identical to the specific structure of its parts; not different in any way" and "what makes me a whole "not the whole of any finite number of distinct qualities that add up to me, DCD".  This is because the way the parts are structured is not a property of the individual parts in themselves. They would be the same atoms, wherever you put them. That's what makes them what they are: they remain the same thing no matter where you put them or how you combine them, they retain their essential properties. What makes uniquely me "me" or you "you", is how we are put together. The parts are mostly the same; maybe you have a little more or less in certain places than I do. But human beings are basically made from the same stuff, just put together in a virtually infinite array of different ways. We would be like mechanical robots if all the parts were identical and so was the construction, even if the robots behaved in different and self-generated ways (which, of course, they do). Instead we have similar parts and many, many different ways to build human machines. Also we are reproducing machines that continue to evolve both biologically and culturally according to forces of evolution which are not just local, but global in nature. we are much more than robots.

So I think reductionistically and holistically together, without any self-contradiction. The whole person can be greater in power than the power the same cells comprising their body would have if measured separately. This is pretty obvious for the random scattering of cells, versus how they are organized in a human being or other animal. In fact, any combinations, other than the ones we find actually existing on the planet, are less powerful than any of the other possible combinations. That is because nature selects only the best recipes for reproducing animals, because only the best recipes can make the best reproducers.

I'm glad you gravitated to that part of my argument to make your point, Maria. I hope these remarks clarify my meaning a little better.

DCD        

  

2016-09-22
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
All,

Darwin's point is that species are selected when the individual animal's pursuit of their own various interests ALSO does, at the same time, the work of supporting the reproduction of the species as a whole. That's why, when we interview the heroes, they usually say they were just doing their jobs. Which they were. We are just being good citizens or parents, soldiers, etc.

It's similar to the "invisible hand" of capitalism that approaches maximum efficiency of production through the many competitions among capitalists pursuing their own self-interests. It's certainly not altruism. But it does, in theory, maximize the power to create the most efficient corporate structures, at any given time. Very often they best corporate structures advance civilization for everyone but not always. Hence the need for governments that do act in the interest of the greater good to regulate business effectively, without killing it.

DCD

2016-09-22
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
All,

Darwin's point is that species are selected when the individual animal's pursuit of their own various interests ALSO does, at the same time, the work of supporting the reproduction of the species as a whole. That's why, when we interview the heroes, they usually say they were just doing their jobs. Which they were. We are just being good citizens or parents, soldiers, etc.

It's similar to the "invisible hand" of capitalism that approaches maximum efficiency of production through the many competitions among capitalists pursuing their own self-interests. It's certainly not altruism. But it does, in theory, maximize the power to create the most efficient corporate structures, at any given time. Very often they best corporate structures advance civilization for everyone but not always. Hence the need for governments that do act in the interest of the greater good to regulate business effectively, without killing it.

DCD

2016-09-23
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi Daniel

RE: That's why, when we interview the heroes, they usually say they were just doing their jobs. Which they were. We are just being good citizens or parents, soldiers, etc. 

I don’t know. Lots of soldiers just do their jobs and don’t win Victoria Crosses. I don’t think we can dismiss genuinely heroism or self-sacrifice so easily.  If we can, why not dismiss craven cowardice, heartlessness or plain cruelty as people who just don’t “do their jobs”? This is a not a bad example of how science, when applied to human behaviour, tends to dehumanise it. It is inherently ill-equipped to understand human emotions and human values so it just rides roughshod over them.

RE: Darwin's point is that species are selected when the individual animal's pursuit of their own various interests ALSO does, at the same time, the work of supporting the reproduction of the species as a whole

The principle may be OK when applied to animals. Not so good for humans. One of the major problems facing us now is, precisely, reproduction...

DA


2016-09-23
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,
I didn't mean to imply that they aren't Heroes just because they're doing their job I was just using what they say about themselves as an example of how they were just doing what they thought they were supposed to be doing, acting in their own interest to be the best soldier they could be. I'm not saying altruism doesn't exist either. Indeed there is a vast variety of human characteristics all of which put together are responsible for the survival of the species. We have quite a healthy mix of bleeding-heart liberals and rugged individualists. Morality and self-unrest are not the enemies you make them out to be.

DCD

2016-09-23
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek, 
I agree that overpopulation is probably the biggest existential threat to humanity and the biggest challenge to human rationality which means, of course, empirical, scientific knowledge and moral reasoning. 

DCD

2016-09-23
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Beautiful response.  Thank you.  Now pertinent to our friend DCD, maybe having examined Darwin's theory humanistically, oops, there I go "ism"ing, I meant in the interest of peace and harmony and constructive scholarly communication, perhaps we'll get back to the spirit of the thread if we haven't exhausted it and ourselves completely, Space and the Negation of Objects....  

At the risk of offending you with something that may smack of "theology" ;-) God bless you Derek. You remind me of an old yet ever fresh philosopher poet friend of mine, Machiavelli, Dante, Poe, D.H. Lawrence...  I've been angeled quite a lot --perhaps you are on multiple legitimate go-rounds as well ?As I told my priest, "Father, I've never actually died naturally, but been 'deaded' a lot" --  if that makes any sense at all.  

You are terribly smart and eloquent, like someone who has climbed the latter of 0's and 1's over and over to figure out as best you can as a loving individual, what the f*** is going on (I believe I invented the word for holy purposes so as not to kill the perpetrator, thus, to become rather than to solve the problem)-- what is and what is not ? (oh, pertinent to the actual thread!) and like me, maybe you find yourself sitting and dissociating in a coffee shop drawing obsessive pictures of something or someone you once at least tried to love.   

All the best always, Maria

2016-09-24
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams

Hi Tami

RE: "As I told my priest, "Father, I've never actually died naturally, but been 'deaded' a lot" --  if that makes any sense at all.  "

I admit I am struggling with that idea... 

RE: "to figure out as best you can as a loving individual, what the f*** is going on."

Alas! I can report no progress on that front. I really have no idea what's going on.  

Daniel, I fear, has concluded that I am a dyed-in-the-wool sceptic (we are old sparring partners) but I don't think I am really. I see no point in being a sceptic just for the sake of it. I think that would just be a silly intellectual pose. But alas! where “the fundamentals” (for lack of a better word) are concerned, I’ve never been able to discover "what's going on".  Of course, I know I'm not Robinson Crusoe in that respect. An author I greatly admire describes us as the first civilization that “is aware that it does not understand man’s significance”. He doesn't mean that there may not be individuals here and there who are exceptions but that, as a whole, today’s world has been obliged to fall back on agnosticism – and is aware it has done so.

 DA 


2016-09-24
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Mmmh, DA. You and DCD are old sparring partners?  My hypothesis has been that you are him.  You philosophers (when you are good) are supposed to be experts at orchestrating elucidatory debate, even sometimes making absurd statements that you don't really believe (extreme statements and statements that you know have been shown to be predominantly false). You and DCD do that at a level that makes me suspicious that you may be the same one. Whether or not that's true, the sparring is interesting and seems productive.  Best, M

2016-09-24
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
No I assure you Tami. We are not the same person - not even on the same continent.
DA

2016-09-24
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

Derek is a knee-jerk skeptic, despite his denials. I am someone with a positive agenda, so we disagree on almost everything. We have run into each other in various discussions and it usually goes pretty much the same. I like to build; he likes to tear down. If we were the same person, we would be severely schizophrenic. lol. 

DCD

2016-09-24
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
LOL ;-0.  Remember, I'm a psychologist. You are possibly purposefully employing a common misinterpretation of Schizophrenia, DCD.  It isn't 'split personality' rather, 'splitting from reality' ---but, then, what is reality, really......philosopher?-- some group perception of the facts?-- which is averaged to a great degree through communication - especially in the age of social media (e.g., "Buffy, I'm going to go to the bathroom now, talk with you in there").  

So in a sense, reality, especially in this era, is some fascist reconstruction of the "facts" that pitches it somewhere in the collective comfort zone.  Scary.  Psychotic people are generally more in touch with the gestalt of experience including the important unseen elements of life, including the stuff my cats see, like apparitions they visually track moving through my living room.  Sure, it results in some functional behavioral anomalies when these often sensory-overwhelmed, in-touch people attempt to coexist with the masses of niche tenders who predominantly agree upon and play by the accepted "rules."  

Perhaps you will discover someday that your sparring partner is really the rest of you, having fractured from you sometime in the past and went way "down under."  Perhaps, ultimately when you reunite you'll feel ever so whole. You found each other here to argue, sometimes even constructively, to attempt to elucidate what is through your differing perspectives.  Possibly this is more functional than arguing within oneself.  Hahaha. M/T/D


2016-09-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi Daniel

RE: “Derek is a knee-jerk skeptic, despite his denials. etc..." 

Believe it or not, Daniel, I do believe in some things. I believe in the possibility of truth – not a belief to be sneezed at in this day and age, after all, when it is almost de rigueur in many circles to “deconstruct” anything that moves.

But I also think that anything approaching truth is usually very hard won, and I guess what annoys me most about a lot of contemporary philosophy (this is not a shot at you) is that so many facile, trivial – and often downright juvenile – ideas get taken for rolled-gold verities.

My irritation gauge goes into the red zone when the subject in question is one I regard as important. Hence, for instance, my very negative reactions when the philosophy of consciousness starts taking about “zombies”, “something it is like”, "panpsychism", etc. Can there be a subject in philosophy more important to us than the nature of human consciousness? After all it’s a question about the very nature of our being – both for good and for evil: we’re talking about the same human consciousness that can perform acts of genuine self-sacrifice but also put people in extermination camps. Yet multitudes of (analytic) philosophers can manage nothing better than to frame the issue in terms of fantasy Hollywood zombies etc. I think that’s pitiful. More than that, it’s downright irresponsible because, in effect, it’s an abdication of a philosopher’s basic responsibility to deal seriously with topics of serious human concern.  

Now that's DA speaking from the heart. Does it really sound like someone who’s only “a knee-jerk skeptic”?

DA


2016-09-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

If you believe in the possibility of truth, yet never assert any philosophical claims you actually defend as true, it's a bit if a hollow belief, wouldn't you say?

I'm all too familiar with your harangue over the nature of consciousness and you know that I am one of those who sees merit in Thomas Nagel's arguments. So, in good DA form, you take the shot at me while denying that you are. Nice touch. But I won't go over the same scorched earth we've already trod on the nature of consciousness. You've uttered your mantras and pat aspersions about the topic, with zombie-like similarity to the way your said it years ago, so I hope you are done with it.

But seriously, I'd love to see you take a positive position on a philosophical topic and defend it as true.
I'm not holding my breath, though.

DCD


2016-09-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

You’re a hard man to please, Daniel!

Yes, I know you are a Nagel man but I truly wasn’t taking a shot at you in particular. There are hordes of analytic philosophers out there who are dyed-in-the-wool followers of the Nagel mantra and it was those poor benighted souls I had in mind. Besides, I think I’m right in saying you’re not a disciple of the other crack-brained ideas I mentioned. You’re not a panpsycho – I mean “ist” – for example, if my memory serves.

On the question of claims I defend, well, modesty sort of forbids, but really you only have to read the books and articles I’ve written. There’s not a word in all of that I wouldn’t defend to the death (so to speak). But alas! those topics rarely come up on Philpapers – principally, I think, because most analytic philosophers regard art and literature as topics of zero importance (they would rather talk about Hollywood “zombies” and brains in vats…). I have made two or three efforts to start relevant topics but they fizzled fairly quickly.

But in any case, one doesn’t always need to have a fully formed opinion on an issue to be able to recognise a nonsense argument when one sees it. So although I’m not able to give a satisfactory answer to the question: ‘What is the nature of human consciousness?" (and who can?), I can tell a mile off that the Nagel mantra, for example, is pure, unadorned nonsense.

DA 


2016-09-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

I've read your arguments about art criticism before and commented on them, too. I'm as skeptical of BS as anyone but I think our age suffers from a calculated aversion to truth and perverse love affair with trying to dissolve problems rather than solve them. You seem to me to be a dissolver, whereas I seek non-traditional solutions to the traditional problems of philosophy.

DCD

 

2016-09-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

Schizophrenia had a better ring to it than bi-polar and I wasn't being clinical, anyway. The main thing to understand is that we are different people, from different continents and philosophical persuasions. Try not to overanalyze, Doctor. Sometime a cigar is just a cigar. :)

DCD

2016-09-25
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
I don't care clinical DCD.  I was just aiming at accuracy. Conceptual and definitional clarity doesn't constitute overanalysis. Just analysis Doctor ?  Are you one? A doctor. 

2016-09-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

RE: “I've read your arguments about art criticism before…”

With an occasional exception (eg my recent article on “Crime and Punishment”), they’re not arguments about art criticism, Daniel. They’re arguments about the general nature of art and its human importance. And, apart from my critiques of arguments I disagree with (e.g. claiming that art is about “aesthetic pleasure”, beauty, etc), I am most certainly not a “dissolver”.

But I do try to dissolve silly arguments about important subjects like human consciousness. (“zombies”, the Nagel mantra, panpsychism etc). And in case you think, I’m beating a dead horse here, a quick read around in contemporary books and articles will show you that these nonsense ideas are still treated very seriously by many philosophers. I do my best to winkle them out and encourage them to defend their positions. But alas, they seldom seem keen to enter the lists…

DA

PS What is "BS"?


2016-09-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

BS is Bullshit. "Bullshit (also bullcrap) is a common English expletive which may be shortened to the euphemism bull or the initialism BS. In British English, "bollocks" is a comparable expletive, although "bullshit" is more common. It is mostly a slang profanity term meaning "nonsense", especially in a rebuking response to communication or actions viewed as deceiving, misleading, disingenuous, unfair or false." (from Wiki)

Now that you force me to look at the definition, I realize I have accused you of almost every one of those things in our past conversations. But never called it BS. Interesting.

So, I'm always on the lookout for "nonsense" every bit as much as you are. But where we differ is that I actually try to argue for my positions about consciousness or space, speaking to the plethora of opposing views so as to identify common ground and work to resolve ,,, and sometimes dissolve ... those views that conflict. You tend to deem something to be silly or nonsense, offer some biting ridicule but no alternative views and walk away feeling yourself the victor.

You comments above on the consciousness argument are a good example. I will not get into the arguments again with you because I know how pointless it is. I'd rather keep it on this somewhat more cordial tone going forward.

As to "art criticism", I was thinking of that as the general topic under which people one would debate things like "the arguments about the general nature of art and its human importance". If that's wrong, I stand corrected, but those are the arguments I was referring to. So what is art and what is its importance to humanity? I've been teaching survey of culture courses lately and would be interested to hear what you have to say.

DCD
   

2016-09-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

I am a Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy. I am interested in theories of everything ... all of them. :)

The over-analysis I was referring to was not the proper APA-DSM designation. I was talking about your hypothesis that DCD and DA were one and the same person. I wish you could see my visceral reaction to that very thought! Emojis fail me. 

Now, if we can get back to space, I don't see where you have replied to my long rant to you about that. Love to hear your comments. Also, please tell me you are not voting for Trump.

DCD 

2016-09-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Daniel-- I received your response regarding your being a Doctor in Philosophy.  PhD square(d) ;), rather than just a Doctor of Philosophy like me in one of the less pure, applied realms that lie outside of that lovely and comfortable land of esoterica (just kidding ?), but I'm replying to myself because I can't seem to bring your response up in the website.  

Anyhow, you seem to be familiar with the DSM..., where trench-dwelling emotional healers know that humanity, especially human emotion wrought from connection with daunted others can be conceptualized into pathology that can translate into an illegal American-even community commitment that can poison your good and benevolent brain into debilitated oblivion by niche dwellers who kill the messengers who don't 'play by the rules'  (see Jim Gottstein's collection of literature at PsychRights.org regarding 'the machine,' a small minority of ugly once-created-beings killing with psychiatric chemical warfare - the voice of the actual human beings who don't want to prey upon each other for money and illegitimate power, as in your misinterpretation of Darwin and breeders).  

I'm a 'PhD' in an applied discipline that appreciates estoterica (at best, quite productive abstraction even at a very high-- God help me, holy - level, where it has great utility), especially when there is permeability of boundaries between the cells or qualia, if you will, of various ideas/theses/isms/ologies/disciplines.  These groupings of abstract ideologies that have integrity/logical internal consistency, must be judiciously applied down in the relatively messy terra firm of actual day-to-day life.  I don't remember who said, it, possibly my dad, who is very learned: "Theory without practice is idle speculation, practice without theory cannot be replicated."

All the best, M.  PS If you want to get back to space, perhaps begin by examining some holes in your reasoning.  





2016-09-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

If you see holes in my reasoning, please point them out to me. That's why I asked for your comments.

DCD

2016-09-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Again, DCD, your answer that I could see via e-mail, doesn't show on the PhilPapers website, so I'm replying to my last post.  

I thought I had consistently and concisely pointed out the holes in your reasoning and your representation of facts, such as your misinterpretation of Darwin's theory, which has historically been a dangerous one, and your misconstruction of the diagnosis of Schizophrenia.  You did not rebut my comments.  

If you just want to focus on the main spirit of your commentary (e.g., I am NOT Derek Allen), why include false information, such as an inaccurate depiction of the diagnosis of Schizophrenia, or, what I perceive as a common and dangerous misinterpretation of Darwin's theory as blind, resource-grubbing self-promotion?

Respectfully, M


2016-09-26
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi Daniel

Yes, the penny dropped on “BS” after I had sent the post.

RE: “You tend to deem something to be silly or nonsense, offer some biting ridicule but no alternative views and walk away feeling yourself the victor.”

Not at all. I have often set out my arguments against the Nagel nonsense, “zombies” etc in some detail. Problem is getting anyone to read them attentively and argue the issue through to its conclusion. I came close to that with one contributor on another list a while back but then he inexplicably dropped out.

But you’re right. I do indulge in the odd bit of ridicule now and then. It’s hard to resist: the Nagel mantra, “zombies” etc lend themselves to it so easily.  And then I sometimes hope that a mild dose of ridicule might spur some advocate of these silly – yet widely held – ideas to leap to their defence. 

RE: “So what is art and what is its importance to humanity?”

Excellent question but not one I’m going to try to answer in a few words on Philpapers. It’s all there on my website, but, as you know, I don’t believe in referring Philpapers readers to external sources – I like to keep discussions to arguments outlined on the list – so I’m not expecting you to read my books and articles. Suffice it to say that, contrary to what you suggest, these are arguments I would defend tooth and nail.

DA


2016-09-27
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
DA,

OK, you say you have positive views but you won't share them here. Defenses delivered by teeth and fingernails are not the kind I'm looking for anyway.

Your arguments in the consciousness debate are nothing but wry jabs and insults. You are like Donald Trump in that your arguments are usually fallacies of relevance like ad hominem or red herrings.

But you're not a Skeptic....

DCD 

2016-09-27
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

I was referring to my lengthy comments about space which, I think, you didn't answer at all.


If your objection to my understanding of evolution (not limited to Darwin) is that the process becomes  "blind, resource-grubbing self-promotion", I reject only the hyperbole with which you state it.

Natural selection is not artificial selection, something even early man was familiar due  with due to the domestication and breeding of animals. Man had a design and a plan to induce the evolution of service animals, so they could service us better. Selective breeding, along with irrigation, was one of the first important scientific discoveries to be coupled with engineering expertise that made civilization possible. So there's no doubt that species change over time when certain traits become more or less advantageous to reproduction.

Darwin noticed in his travels and documented that traits of species changed over time as they became relocated to isolated islands of the Galapagos. His idea was that environmental changes were the primary causes of evolution. 

Environmental change clearly does cause evolution, as the "ELE" that most likely took out the dinosaurs demonstrates. I am suggesting that evolution does not wait for catastrophes to occur. The population growth of animal communities is an omnipresent condition that is always at work in selecting which species even get to be around before the asteroid, volcano, earthquake, drought, ice age or extra-terrestrial impact arrives. Nor are there that many battles to the death of animals competing over prey, the fabled "survival of the fittest" meme. It's more a matter of numbers of individuals competing for the same finite quantities of food and shelter. Fitness to succeed in reproduction is the natural standard of selection responsible for causing only one species to remain extant on the planet in each "evolutionary niche".  
       
So, "natural selection" is nothing, other than the relative effectiveness of different species to complete cycles of reproduction over many generations. This comes down to their relative abilities to access the limited resources available in the closed system of their shared environment. Calling this "blind, resource-grubbing self-promotion" is just adding a bunch of emotional baggage to prejudice your view of something you, somehow, think you have to disagree with.

I look forward to your replies.

DCD


2016-09-27
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Hi DCD--  I read thoroughly your lengthy comments about space, and, without going back to review my remarks (which I may do in fairness to you to see if I was disrespecting your message) I believe I was responding to what you stated from my own perspective, which is predominantly scientific, specifically psychological, with a strong loading of biology.  
I believe that cross-disciplinary dialogue is difficult for some people, who prefer for their own reasons to keep a purer dialogue within their discipline.  I respect that there is a place for that.  It's an individual choice and has utility in developing/honing ideas within that discipline.  That is why I refer to Esoterica in a bit of a chiding manner - not mean-spirited, I promise.  Someone like myself who has worked extensively in education and healthcare (especially depending upon the day's particular challenges) can be almost jealous of pure abstractions, however tight the concepts and logic, as they are often difficult to apply in actual (best) practice in real life's trenches. Still it's ok to aim for the ideal.

Regarding Darwin's theory again--which I don't remember bringing up (again, I know I did refer to Einstein given that we were talking about physical principles and I said something that I felt was relevant to the topic at hand)-- My only point is that your depiction of Darwin's theory, I believe, focuses too inordinately and mechanically on individual organisms reproducing. The spirit of his theory, I believe, was to describe how individual organisms adapt as individuals within communities (each organism being an individual created being with choice) to their environment, even through cooperative behaviors that promote the adaptation of both the individual and the organisms of various species within their proximal community.  Spiritually (I know that that may be morphed into my inappropriately incorporating theology), in my experiences, microcosms of these cooperative groups of creatures promote overall peace and harmony throughout the the closed system.  

You aptly noted my use of hyperbole, which I used to highlight what I feel is the dangerousness of overlooking the inherent benevolence of God's creatures in your interpretation of Darwin's work.  


2016-09-27
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

I'm not denying at all that individual creatures (God's or nature's or anyone else's) have benevolent motives. We are social, communal beings because of how we evolved. Our species, which is a diverse and pluralistic array of possible recipes for individual creatures like us, is what survives. We, as individuals of the species, have reason enough to see the advantages of cooperation over competition in some instances. We have many religious institutions that jointly support values such as love, fellowship, charity, peace and most people either participate in or just live by these values. So, in a physical, biological sense we are spiritual animals, a disembodied set of cultural values and institutions that pass from one generation to the next, as each individual is bred, educated and enculturated to serve their own strategies for success in the world. Some are good and some are bad.
Sometimes the bad ones reproduce themselves culturally, sometimes the good ones do. Sometimes what used to be bad becomes good later on, and vice versa

I don't think you need God to create goodness. The beauty of evolution is that it reveals this to be a fact. I depart from Darwin and most evolutionary biologists in arguing that cultural evolution is also occurring and that it also leads to the increasing power and perfection of our species. Goodness requires truth in order to be really good and not just an apparent goodness or piety derived from following a would-be Divine Command. Science can bring us scientific empirical truth from which goodness may be divined. I see human culture evolving over time as knowledge increases our powers and our powers require more a more powerful understand of what's right and what's wrong.

I don't know why you seem to imply that my approach is not cross-disciplinary and is purely abstract. Nothing could be further from the truth. I discuss physics, biology, sociology, anthropology, art, popular culture, ethics and many other empirically testable disciplines. I reject ivory tower philosophers and purely analytic philosophers, as well as scientists who think that hyperbole and Esoterica are needed to capture the details and complexities of life. Aristotle would certainly not agree! Telling the whole story, in clear, non-figurative and naturalistic language, is the proper task of empirical philosophy, as I see it.  

Thanks for the lovely conversation.

DCD       

2016-09-27
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi DCD

RE: “Your arguments in the consciousness debate are nothing but wry jabs and insults.”

Not so. Just as one example have a look at my comments on the Nagel nonsense of 2016-05-10 on the thread Human consciousness and evolution. The discussion went on a bit further as you’ll see but my interlocutor dropped out unfortunately, just as we were getting to the crux of the matter.

This was detailed philosophical argumentation and I have sometimes found to my surprise that philosophers get uncomfortable when obliged to follow the consequences of an argument through to its full conclusions. I found the same thing when trying to get people to think through the “zombie” argument. It’s as if some philosophers would do anything rather than let go of pet ideas.

I think it was Albert Camus who said (something like): "It’s not hard to be logical, but it can be hard to be logical to the bitter end."  But, after all, if philosophers can’t do that, who can?  That's what they're supposed to be good at. 

DA


2016-09-28
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
DA,

I looked at your post. Oh God does that bring back bad memories! You said exactly the same things to poor Anton, over and over again, that made me stop talking to you. As I said, you simply refuse to acknowledge the meaning of the phrase "what it is like to be" seeing an after-image, perceptually aware, having qualia, perceiving, etc. Anton gets it. I get it. Nagel and many non-analytic philosophers get it. It is NOT that  we are all silly and speaking nonsense. It IS that you are exercising your typical knee-jerk skepticism, designed, I think, simply to infuriate people trying to have a conversation about something even you agree is an important topic.

Despite Camus, it is not easy to be logical because being logical MEANS being rigorously logical. Good philosophers ARE good at being logical. But better philosophers are also good at empirical discovery and understanding the empirical discoveries of others. Even better philosophers understand the nature of goodness and beauty. I think you need to understand all of those things pretty well to think clearly about the nature of consciousness.

DCD  

2016-09-28
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi Daniel

RE: I looked at your post. Oh God does that bring back bad memories! You said exactly the same things to poor Anton, over and over again, that made me stop talking to you.

Actually no. I only had this one conversation with him on this issue, as I recall. He in fact came the closest of anyone to addressing the issues I had carefully explained. I honestly thought he was going to follow them through to the conclusion. But then he dropped out. Pity. (I seem to recall by the way that "poor Anton" as you call him had very little time for your arguments.)

RE: “Anton gets it. I get it. Nagel and many non-analytic philosophers get it…”

I won’t ask you what it is you “get”. Actually I’ve been told that kind of thing a number of times by disciples of the Nagel mantra who seem unwilling or unable to examine the proposition carefully, as a conscientious philosopher should. One just has to “get it”. What admirable philosophical method! Let’s forget about careful analysis. Let’s just kind of emote and “intuit” until we all “get it”. And to think this is happening with so-called “analytic” philosophy! It's a joke.

DA


2016-09-28
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

I cannot imagine what it must be like for you to troll these forums daily and do nothing but try to undermine every conversation with your repetitive, sarcastic, cynical claptrap. I resort to hyperbole here to try to capture the imagination, to divine what twisted motivations must drive you to act so thick, when you are clearly an intelligent man. But. alas, I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be you. I'm not trying to make a comparison, because I have nothing to compare it to. Yet, I don't doubt for one minute that is like SOMETHING to be you, even though I have no idea what that could be. You are such a weird bird that I cannot even fathom what your first-person perspective would be like.

But I can easily imagine what it might have been like for you to receive your diploma (assuming you have one) or see you child graduate from college, even though you might not have one; because I've had these experiences myself, I can imagine what it might be like for you. But that's not the same as knowing it. Indeed, we can never have the experience of another person (or animal) without being that other subject .... which is impossible. If there were not enough similarities in our separate experiences of the world, communication would be impossible. But, because our bodies evolved from common ancestors it is highly likely that what it is like to be each of us bears some similarities, even though we can never know them in any first-person sense. We can use third-person descriptors to dissect and catalogue every part of our bodies and brains but one cannot have first-party knowledge of any subject but oneself.

I'm not asking for any kind of intuitive leap here. I have shown any reasonable person what is meant by the phrase "what is it like to be X", in a non-comparative sense. I can imagine how you will respond but not what it must be like to be you. Yet I have no doubt it is like something.

DCD  

2016-09-29
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi Daniel

RE: “I have shown any reasonable person what is meant by the phrase "what is it like to be X", in a non-comparative sense.”

You have “shown” nothing. You simply told me I needed to “get” it. Others, you said, had "got" it. So I should "get" it too?

But your comment here is interesting. You apparently agree that “like” in the Nagel mantra is not being used comparatively. (Which is just as well (a) because it would make a nonsense of the proposition and (b) Nagel himself ruled it out.)

Now the only other possible meaning of the English word “like” in the context is the meaning it has in phrases such as “I feel like a cup of tea”. Is that what you think “like” means here? (Warning: this is a trap question. This meaning of like also makes a nonsense of the Nagel proposition. And as I say there is no other possible meaning in the context. Game over.)

Elementary reasoning really, isn’t it? Well within the reach of any analytic philosopher worth his salt. Peter Hacker made pretty much the same argument quite a while ago. But analytic philosophers in general continue to cling on the Nagel mantra like Linus with his blanket. They rely on it again and again in their arguments about consciousness not only as if it made sense, but as if said something of fundamental importance about the nature of human consciousness! As I say, a joke. 

DA


2016-09-29
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
DA,

I qualified my assertion by saying any "reasonable" person would admit to understanding my illustration of how to use that phrase in a meaningful way. I still can't imagine what it would be like to be so thick or even to act that way. But I know for sure, it must be like something.

What is it like to see a sunrise? To fall in love? To get dumped? To finally figure something out? To be that thick?

I am not asking for comparisons. I'm really wondering what it would be like for me to do those things and what you can tell me that might help me figure that out. But there really isn't any way to compare my consciousness to yours. Yet knowing what you have to say about it is helpful to me in trying to anticipate my own reactions.

It's a perfectly intelligible usage and you are just being thick about it.

I think we are done with this conversation again, buddy.

DCD



2016-09-30
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

RE: I qualified my assertion by saying any "reasonable" person would admit to understanding my illustration of how to use that phrase in a meaningful way. I still can't imagine what it would be like to be so thick or even to act that way. But I know for sure, it must be like something

I think I see where your problem is, DCD, and it’s quite a reasonable one to have, you’ll be glad to know. You’re saying to yourself: The Nagel mantra seems to make sense, why is Allan saying it’s vacuous? (You’re not putting it quite so politely but I’m happy to overlook that.)

I asked myself the very same question when I first analysed it. The answer, I realised, is this: The feeling that it makes sense is a consequence of the peculiar syntax. Remember, it reads like this: “There is something it is like to be conscious.” (That’s the standard, accepted formulation – which, by the way, clearly puts a lot of weight on the word “like”.)

Now, if you rephrase that, and put it into more natural English, you get (using both possible meanings of like, even though Nagel ruled the first one out):

(a)   “Being conscious is like something.”

 OR

(b)   “Being conscious is feeling like doing (having, etc ) something.

(Remember: these are the only two possible meanings of the English word “like” in the context. You have not disagreed with that, and I really don’t see how anyone could.)

Now, once we’ve done that, we see straight off that the proposition is nonsensical. In the first case, one immediately wants to ask: “Really? So, what is it like?” To which, of course, there is no sensible answer. (What could one say? It’s like swimming? Eating? Jumping?)

And in the second, similarly, one wants to ask: “Really? What does it feel like doing?” To which, again, there is no sensible answer. (It feels like wanting a holiday? It feels like needing a cup of tea?)

But when the proposition is phrased in the usual, unnatural way (“There is something it is like to be conscious”) the effect is to make the meaning of “like” ambiguous by encompassing both meanings, without the reader necessarily being aware of it. One is not therefore prompted to ask the perfectly reasonable questions (those above) one want to ask when it’s expressed in normal English. Thus, many people – yourself included, apparently – have allowed themselves to be confused and have concluded that the proposition is saying something deep and meaningful about the nature of consciousness, when in fact it is just a nonsense.

I don’t claim, by the way, that this analysis is especially demanding. It just calls for a bit of concentration and a normal level of sensitivity to the meaning of English words. Which is why I’m often so puzzled that so many philosophers who calls themselves “analytic” haven’t been able to do it long ago. It's the kind of thing that should be bread and butter to them.

(I suspect, though, that because so many of them have invested a lot of philosophical capital in the Nagel mantra, they would be very reluctant to abandon it anyway...)

DA


2016-09-30
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

I don't disagree that the syntax of “Being conscious is like something.” is troubling and peculiar.

I, however, don't say that. I am careful not to say that. I say it is like something to be the animal that is conscious. Being human is like something. Even being you is like something, thought you would be the last one to admit it. Of course, we know that it isn't the feet, the heart or the guts that are the organs responsible for this undeniable aspect of our existence. It is the brain, a perfectly arrayed bundle of firing neurons that is identical to not only the amazing processing power and functionality this organs of all organs delivers, but also to what we call consciousness, qualia, raw feels, primal essence, élan vital or joie de vivre. Consciousness is what it is like to be brains of mammals or reptiles who have some form of nervous system. In particular it is the neural organization tying the sensory organs to the loco-motor system and memory that has this intrinsic quality we recognize as seeing, feeling, hearing and the rest. Those parts of our mental makeup are clearly like something much more vivid and qualitative than our thoughts of the quadratic formula or even a fine summer day. Anticipating a hammer coming down on your thumb can be a painful experience in itself. But it is far less painful than the pain delivered by the actual hammer's impact. You have some comparisons here but not the sort we make between apples and oranges. Maybe more like the sort we make between Rubens and Poussin (Louis; competitions, notwithstanding); they are subjective, aesthetic, not fully quantifiable, more about what it's like for each person to see them....

Honestly, it doesn't matter at all to my argument whether you understand this sort of non-comparison or not. But it's not a syntax problem, for sure. Indeed, if it were simply a linguistic problem, it would be one more of semantics than syntax, wouldn't you say?   

DCD

2016-10-01
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Derek Allan
Ok, Daniel. So you and Derek are worlds away- not the same one.  However, you still keep an elucidating and entertaining dialogue alive. Love always, Maria. ;-)

2016-10-01
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Worlds. You're right about that, Maria. And he has accomplished his usual feat, which is to kill off any meaningful dialogue that was trying to occur prior to his intervention. Now where were we? Somewhere out in space?

DCD

2016-10-01
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
Well Daniel, pertinent to the original spirit of this thread 'Space and the Negation of Objects..."  If we are in space, we have at least been yet to fill that space with somethin sufficiently meaningful to nullify the need for further dialogue ?  If that makes any sense at all. So, my friend, until the dialogue amongst us diehard friends here doth cease, the philosophical conundrum persists.  ;-)

2016-10-01
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

Hi DCD 

RE: “I don't disagree that the syntax of “Being conscious is like something.” is troubling and peculiar. 

But it’s not even that (which, by the way, would bring the comparison idea directly into play – which Nagel ruled out). The hallowed formula, used standardly by all philosophers in the field, is “There is something it is like to be conscious”. It’s derived from the Nagel article wording (and he’s the “authority” in this context, regularly quoted as such).

So, yes, the syntax is very odd, but it is precisely because of that that the word “like” takes on the deceptive ambiguity I described.   

RE:  I say it is like something to be the animal that is conscious.”

But this is the like of comparison - which Nagel ruled out. But let’s assume we ignore Nagel and rule it in, what then? If someone says what does an X (mango etc) taste like, we might answer, well, it’s like a blend of Y and Z. But what is it like to be (the animal that is) conscious? What can we compare it to?  There is no Y and Z this time – no phenomenon or experience “like” consciousness. Everything we know, feel etc is through consciousness, so there is nothing outside it we could refer to.  So the like of comparison just doesn’t work here. 

Re: “But it's not a syntax problem, for sure. Indeed, if it were simply a linguistic problem, it would be one more of semantics than syntax, wouldn't you say? “

I’m not suggesting it’s a problem of syntax. I’m saying that the odd syntax is responsible for the treacherous ambiguity of the term “like” in this context – an ambiguity that sets the trap into which so many philosophers have obligingly fallen. (I am not the first to notice this by the way. I seem to recall Hacker drew attention to it. Someone I read did anyway.)

DA


2016-10-01
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis

RE: “he has accomplished his usual feat, which is to kill off any meaningful dialogue that was trying to occur prior to his intervention.

You’re free to carry on any dialogue you like, Daniel.  I can hardly prevent it even if I wanted to – which of course I don’t.

DA 


2016-10-02
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

The guy who started this conversation, Domenic?, has not been heard from since. Space is one of my main topics of interest, so I thought I'd jump in. I had some interest on how you wanted to introduce God into the mix, which got us talking. The original thread has been lost and the DA interjection has left me without much of a theme to build on anymore. 

But in philosophy, as in psychotherapy, everything is grist for the mill. Our conversation did raise for me the question of how someone with advanced degrees in a behavioral science can still think of God as a factor in understanding the human psyche. The BELIEF in God, sure. But the intervention of some sort of divine causality into the science of psychology seems antithetical to any experiment you might conduct. Interesting, a similar argument comes up in the discussion of the reality of space. Einstein, and modern physics generally, rejects space as a scientific notion because it cannot be measured like matter can.  



Maybe you have some ideas for me on this conundrum.

Thanks,
DCD 

2016-10-02
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Daniel Davis
You are so interesting to me, like an old friend of mine (I'll drop a name, sorry)- John Lennon.  Brilliant chap from across the pond whom I loved madly but who drove me f***ing crazy.  He f***s with me.  I always learn from it ultimately, but it is a roller coaster ride of confusion (chaos ? to - a better, more advanced - order-- I think, I'm never sure....)
An aside, I just watched a splinch of Meet the Press, and I'm moving to Ireland if "Larry" Trump becomes our chief executive here in the US.  We got through the "Larry" Sanders scare, but GOD (excuse me, there I go again) help us, that that racist, misogynistic (excuse me isming) fool Trump who will continue to exploit the loopholes for the elite as a businessman, while building in some new ones as the president.  Scary stuff.  I keep hoping that he is enacting a purposeful metaphor for how f***ed up everything is, particularly here in America, rather than really believing what he says.  I've wondered if he is a benevolent psychopath with a Machiavellian philosophy, maybe somewhat like GOD (oops) has to be in the face of the "game."  As Einstein would recommend, don't overreact to illegitimate forces so as not to fortify them, yet SPEAK, even become "the skit."  Anyhow, I digress to point that Domenic probably blew his brains out (if he didn't weeks ago) just anticipating the extent to which this thread of the garment of his topic is a fatal flaw that put this conversation on the dollar rack at Goodwill.   Do I get sanctioned here for not just talking about GOD but also politics?  Let me know.

So, our conundrum...  Me injecting that goofy dude GOD in a philosophical conversation about Space, something that is avoided by scientists as "it cannot be measured"? I'm a therapist who has worked with a lot of kids with Autism/Asperger's, which "afflicts" me and most of the real professors at the University of MT and beyond.  You want to quantify a therapy that has clinical relevance (i.e., it's not strictly behavioral, like the ones the NIMH will fund such as Applied Behavioral Analysis, with easily operationally defined constructs, that yield the high levels of statistical significance that they like when you crunch the numbers--you can create little socially appropriate robots who 'hold together' at school until they get to about fourth grade where social demands become intimately more complicated...  So to be a real healer/helper you have to be a creative scientist who strives to define the intangible. X Sp


2016-10-11
Space as Negation of Objects, Nothing
Reply to Tami Williams
Maria,

Sorry I haven't written again. The new term started here and work is consuming my time. Talk about God, politics, or anything else you can relate to the conversation. I love John Lennon, too. Imagine space a substance. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. Like no religion, too....

Please keep writing, though I may not answer as often.

DCD