Gathering perspectives
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02-04-2014, 04:36 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(01-04-2014 06:42 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  If something cannot have a demonstrable effect on the universe (so far as we can tell), does it matter if it exists or not?
That is a good point RobbyPants, thanks for bringing it up.

I find relevance in whatever makes a difference, so I interpret your question as "if something exists but it does not make a difference, what difference does it make?" And that is a good point when we consider things that may exist but make no difference. However, what about things that do not exist but make a difference?

The abstract notion of a heaven full of virgins, for example, is simply a collection of ideas in some people's minds. It is not a thing that exists out there; it is not like you can say "yes, the heaven full of virgins is right there, next to Neptune". However, that very notion can have profound effects on the lives of many people, if someone equips himself with a belt full of explosives thinking that setting it off inside a crowded bus will immediately take him to the paradise full of shaggable women. Sadly enough, even though non-existing gods cannot have a direct effect on any existing thing because they are not located anywhere in relation to it, when those notions are processed by some human brains, their effects can be devastating.

And the effects can be positive too. Just the other day I went for a walk with "my" dog (although I don't like thinking of other living things as my property) and I stopped for a quick chat with a man, while "my" dog played with his. Eventually the conversation led to him claiming that he is nowadays a much better person, in terms of social behaviour, than he used to be when he was younger. The difference, according to him, came when he "found" what he called god.

I didn't ask him about the details of his past misbehaviour, but I asked him where he had "found" that god thing, so that I could go there and maybe find it myself, but he explained that he hadn't physically encountered it in any particular place, it was more of a feeling inside him; that is why I keep putting the word "found" between quotation marks, because it seems to me that the abstract notion of a god had arrived to his mind rather than him actually finding an object that could be described as the creator of the universe.

To be honest, it saddens me that people may start respecting other people out of respect for an abstract notion, and not out of respect for other people, but it also makes me happy when someone who didn't use to respect other people begins doing so, for whatever reason. I find it better than people not respecting each other at all.

Nevertheless, the change in his behaviour and all the subsequent effects that that change may have had, were caused, at least from his perspective, by the thought of a magical creature able to create universes as he/she/it wishes. I don't think magical creators of universes can be said to exist, at least not in the way I use the word, but that does not mean that ideas cannot have profound effects in our surroundings. Ideas can be very relevant. The computers we are using in our communication today were, at some stage, simply but not simple ideas.

So while I may understand the relevance of the notion conveyed by the word "relevance", it does not help me understand what other people mean when they say that something exists or doesn't exist. But people often make such claims, so I guess they probably understand what they mean when they talk. Or maybe not?

(01-04-2014 06:42 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  So, I know you're looking for a definition on "exists", but I'm not so worried about that, myself; I'm more concerned with whether or not something has any relevance.
Fair enough, I am thus not surprised that you haven't posted a message asking people for their perspectives about the subject.

I cannot say I am worried about it, but I am interested in knowing other people's perspectives because only by combining multiple subjective perspectives I can begin to gather something resembling an objective perspective about the universe around me. Unless I take other people's perspectives into consideration, I only have my subjective view.

But you're not in any way obliged to answer my questions, and any time you've already spent contributing to this thread is time you have kindly given us, so I thank you for it.

Have a good day.
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02-04-2014, 04:44 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
78, 39570N3 ^0 572 7027M.

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02-04-2014, 05:23 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(02-04-2014 04:44 AM)Dee Wrote:  78, 39570N3 ^0 572 7027M.

4762 7 &(* y#u &#E(&% ^#g5f 92*C?

Gasp #&$& !!!

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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02-04-2014, 05:50 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
Dee, morondog, thanks for your relatively constructive views.

I cannot say they help me much in my attempt to understand other people's perspectives about existence and reality, but I do nevertheless gain some information from your contributions, so I appreciate the effort you've put into posting them, however extense it may be.

Looking forward to future conversations, I wish you all the best in the meantime.
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02-04-2014, 06:33 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(02-04-2014 05:50 AM)living thing Wrote:  Dee, morondog, thanks for your relatively constructive views.

I cannot say they help me much in my attempt to understand other people's perspectives about existence and reality, but I do nevertheless gain some information from your contributions, so I appreciate the effort you've put into posting them, however extense it may be.

Looking forward to future conversations, I wish you all the best in the meantime.

Take it easy chap Wink Couldn't resist the opportunity to take the piss, what?

WRT your OP, it's a bit... too difficult really. Word definitions are difficult to nail down. If I just use the terms 'exist' and 'God' and 'real' etc as *I* understand them, then I say that no Gods exist as far as I know. But if you ask me to define those words in a way that you agree I will no doubt fail.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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02-04-2014, 07:18 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
Hello again, morondog.

(02-04-2014 06:33 AM)morondog Wrote:  Take it easy chap Wink Couldn't resist the opportunity to take the piss, what?

Please don't get me wrong, I wasn't annoyed by your contributions. If anything, I was confused. I was tempted to write something along the lines of what you guys had written, but I was afraid that the thread might thus degenerate into a sequence of nonsensical random keystrokes, and I haven't fulfilled what I aimed for when I started the thread, so I refrained from doing so.

Instead, I chose to thank you and wait for further input. I have only recently landed on this forum, I don't know anything about you and I don't have any context into which to frame your contribution. Is it simply a funny way of saying nothing? Is it maybe a complex way of saying "what a boring topic!"? Is it possibly a new internet language that I do not understand? All I can do is extract the notion that reading messages signed by Dee or morondog can be a waste of time, and get on with my life. There is much more in the universe than my thread about existence and reality.

(02-04-2014 06:33 AM)morondog Wrote:  WRT your OP, it's a bit... too difficult really. Word definitions are difficult to nail down. If I just use the terms 'exist' and 'God' and 'real' etc as *I* understand them, then I say that no Gods exist as far as I know. But if you ask me to define those words in a way that you agree I will no doubt fail.

Please don't get me wrong again, I don't care whether I agree or not with your definitions because me agreeing or disagreeing with some notion is irrelevant; I am just a living thing and not the thing that determines whether notions are true or false. I could disagree with your definitions, and be entirely wrong myself. Likewise, I might agree with your definitions, and still be entirely wrong.

I don't want you to define those terms in a way that I agree, I would simply like you to define them in a way that I can understand; I'd like to know what it means to exist, to be real, etc. as *you* understand it. I already know how I understand those notions, I am not appealing for my own opinion.

Now, would you like to try to explain what you mean when you say that something exists?

Cheers, and have the funniest of days so far; enjoy a good laughter.
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02-04-2014, 07:22 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(01-04-2014 04:12 PM)living thing Wrote:  Hello Blackhand293, how are you? Thanks for adding your bit of information to this thread, although, strictly speaking, it was more than one bit of information.

(01-04-2014 01:09 PM)Blackhand293 Wrote:  (...)
I hope my inane ramblings make sense.
I think I may have understood your view, although I may not, so please feel free to correct me if I misinterpret your words.

From your first statement I gather that gods can be said to exist if we consider them abstract "explanations" when an adequate explanation is not known. But only a little below you introduce provability and independent verifiability as requirements for existence, leading you to conclude that gods cannot be said to exist, after all. Can they, or can they not be said to exist?

Judging by the number of lines you dedicate to each option, I suspect that you are probably more inclined towards the second. If existence means provability and independent verifiability, gods cannot be said to exist until those abstract notions are proved and independently verified.

Correct. Until evidence supporting the abstract notion posited is given I will not believe that it is in fact real.

(01-04-2014 04:12 PM)living thing Wrote:  I understand how we can prove, or disprove, something about an object. If you say to me "Look! There is a lion beside that tree!" and I look and I see a lion beside a tree, I can verify your statement about the lion's location. Similarly, if you warn me that lions are able to eat me and I nonetheless run towards one to pull his testicles, I may be able to verify your statement about the lion's potential diet.

However, I am not so sure I understand what it means to prove the objects themselves. How do you prove a brick? You can prove that it sinks in liquid water, or that it is part of a specific wall, or some other notion about it, but what does it mean to prove the actual object? What does it mean to say that a brick exists?

If I claim that a brick is there, provide evidence that brick is there, and it can be independently verified the brick is there, the brick can be said to exist. Saying the brick sinks in water is positing that the brick has a density greater than that of liquid water and then displaces the liquid water, it has bearing on the existence of the brick only in so much that its density is a property of the brick.

(01-04-2014 04:12 PM)living thing Wrote:  That is one of the reasons why I choose to use the term "exist" in the sense that I use it, because it not only allows me to rule out the existence of gods, smurfs and Santa Claus (none of which are located anywhere in relation to any existing thing) but I can also apply it to everyday objects. The abstract notion of a brick does not exist the way I use the word, it is only an idea in our minds, but each specific brick does exist; it is located at a precise distance and in a precise direction from each of the other bricks that may also exist. And from many other things that also exist but are not bricks (such as lions).

But that is only my perspective, and this thread is about gathering other people's perspectives, so I'll cut my crap here :-)

Thank you again for your thoughts. Have fun.

I posited that gods can only exist as an abstract explanation, as that is the most likely way that they came to exist. And abstract is as you say, an idea that exists only in the mind.

Your perspective can also be applied to abstract concepts in mathematics, as in a point on a plane can be said to exist as at a precise distance and in a precise direction to another point on the plane, this plane being completely abstract.

If it is only applied to the observable universe then it is useful to a point I suppose. the reason I put in verifiabilaty and observabilaty into my definition of existence is that it is what is used in the scientific method.

The requirement of evidence to back your claim does not disappear because it hurts your feelings, reality does not care about your feefees.
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02-04-2014, 08:12 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(02-04-2014 07:18 AM)living thing Wrote:  I'd like to know what it means to exist, to be real, etc. as *you* understand it. I already know how I understand those notions, I am not appealing for my own opinion.

Now, would you like to try to explain what you mean when you say that something exists?

But this is the problem. I must explain my understanding to you with words... which we don't necessarily agree on the meanings of.

To exist... to have reality independent of myself. To not be a figment of my imagination...

But in that definition I have already used a word which we still need a definition of, "reality"... all I can really do to explain to you my understanding is play with rearranging words and hope that eventually you catch on to what I'm saying... Which is quite likely to happen as we're pretty sharp as a species anyway.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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02-04-2014, 10:30 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
Exist is just a general concept and needs to be defined further.

I can't perceive a god with my senses, I can't see, smell etc. a god. I also cannot detect any god with my tools. So, on a strict, human reality level, he does not exist.

If s/he does not exist on that level, but I think s/he is there anyway, then I assume or believe s/he is there. Then s/he exists, but only in my imagination.

Of course, anything can exist in the imagination, so that is rather pointless.

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02-04-2014, 05:46 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives
Hello Blackhand293, I am happy to "see you" back and once again appreciate your insight.

Please let me highlight a few words in one of your sentences.
(02-04-2014 07:22 AM)Blackhand293 Wrote:  If I claim that a brick is there, provide evidence that brick is there, and it can be independently verified the brick is there, the brick can be said to exist.
I am assuming that by "there" you don't mean an abstract and imaginary place, but a location that you would be able to actually point out on a map, provided that the resolution (or the brick) were large enough.

And if that is the case, I think I can understand what you are saying, because that is pretty much how I use the verb "to exist". If it can be said, of an object, that it occupies a specific volume located at a specific distance in a specific direction from a specific reference point, then I would say that the object exists.

Whether I know or not the location of an object is irrelevant for its existence. Of course I need to know an object's relative location in order to be able to point it out for others, if I expect to convince others about the object's existence, but people being convinced about stuff is not what causes an object to exist; it is being located somewhere what does. Plenty of things existed on this planet long before anything remotely resembling human first appeared. For example, stromatolites. Nothing was convinced of their existence, but there they were.

That is why I keep the notions of provability and verifiability, which have much more to do with us knowing than with things existing, out of my definitions. I am not suggesting that you should do the same, simply explaining the reason for my behaviour. Our notions are part of the abstract universe of ideas, I don't see why we should use them as the basis for existence.

But you are right, the verb is used in the abstract universe of mathematics in reference to concepts that are not physically located anywhere. As well as the example you provided, we often make claims such as "the square root of -1 does not exist", implying that square roots of positive numbers do exist. However, the way I use the word, they don't.

Square roots of positive numbers aren't physically located anywhere, they don't exist; what exists is the set of objects that can be counted (or otherwise described) using square roots of positive numbers. However, the numbers themselves are abstract notions, they are part of the abstract universe of ideas in our minds. They are as abstract as the concept of a god that is everywhere at once. But a lot more useful!

In conclusion, I think I understand how you make a distinction between things that exist only in the mind and things that exist in the real universe, and I thank you for illustrating your view for me.

I hope we will have the chance to chat about many other topics. Until then, have a great time.
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