Rational Thought
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03-04-2016, 05:59 AM
RE: Rational Thought
(03-04-2016 05:38 AM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(03-04-2016 05:05 AM)Chas Wrote:  Except for the solipsist himself. Creating reality seems rather god-like, eh?

Why the exception?

You make an non-exceptional argument. Consider

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03-04-2016, 06:39 AM
RE: Rational Thought
(03-04-2016 02:24 AM)diversesynergy Wrote:  I don't argue for solipsism. I think I am really here on Earth. I cannot prove it, I am happy to take it on FAITH that I can trust my senses - in the same way that you have to take this same thing on faith too.

Faith does not enter into it. I trust my senses because they have repeatedly proven to be reliable both personally and when compared to those of other people. I have good justification for trusting that there is an objectively real universe of which I am a part.

Quote:My question is how do you, as an empiricist, square the problem that everything you see, measure and test in the lab empirically, necessarily doesn't actually prove anything - because fundamentally you cannot prove that your senses are reliable.

Consistent results over decades of experimentation and consultation with the results of others provides a solid basis for accepting that they are reliable. The idea that there is some other reality and that my senses are being fed an illusion can be diverting but it is ultimately pointless. From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, if I can't detect this "real" reality and it doesn't affect the reality that I do perceive then it doesn't exist in any meaningful sense.

I can not prove that it isn't true but given that there is absolutely no evidence to believe that there actually might be something else and no method to even test the proposition, let alone confirm it, the whole thing becomes a giant JAQ-off session. It sounds profound until you think it through and realize that it is more deepity then deep.

Quote:Sure, that sounds a bit like solipsism - but that is not what I am arguing for.

You are either arguing solipsism or pre-suppositionalism and, in the end, both are equally vapid.

Quote:So, care to answer my question - how does an empiricist get round this problem? Or is it ok to give it a Gallic shrug, and say it's fine to "take it as read" that your senses are reliable?

If you are going to deny the reliability our senses without a shred of evidence that they are being deceived in some way then you are on your own. Even if I had certain knowledge that what I perceive as reality was just an illusion it would not matter. I still have to exist within the illusion and must act according to the rules and evidence that I perceive. I don't worry that my reasoning might not be valid in some other reality, it only matters that it matches the only reality I can detect.

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03-04-2016, 09:16 AM
RE: Rational Thought
(02-04-2016 05:35 PM)diversesynergy Wrote:  ClydeLee. Maybe no-one here is a thinking atheist, I just came here with the hope of getting a logical answer to what is a bit of a paradox of a question.

I actually genuinely came here with goodwill to begin with, but no-one has been particularly welcoming (as in genuinely, rather than sarcastically) and I feel a bit set upon to be honest. I would have more respect if just one person had said "yeah, great question - I don't know the answer, it is a logical problem that you have to rely on your own brain to interpret this universe. Thanks for kicking off an interesting debate, I hold a different worldview to you but I can respect we are both searching for meanings and answers in this universe." That would at least have been scientifically authentic, not to mention respectful.

If atheism is supposedly the shining beacon for "tolerance", in a world supposedly made so "intolerant" by religion, then some of the posters on these forums are far from paragons of that vision.

Your question was not posed in good will. You came here with all sorts of assumptions about us and frankly, a whole bunch of errors that need correcting. Atheism isn't a philosophy or belief system. It's a position on a single issue. It entails no other beliefs. You'll find that atheists are a diverse bunch when it comes to philosophy. The only thing we share is a lack of belief in gods.

It is not a logical problem that we have to rely on our brains to have knowledge of the universe. I don't know why you think this. Consciousness is biological in nature. It requires a brain and nervous system. How this presents a logical problem is not clear. You seem to be saying that since we have a means of consciousness, our consciousness is invalid. This is nonsensical.

As far as validating our senses, this too is nonsensical since validation is a conceptual process which we couldn't perform unless our senses are valid. Also since the validity of consciousness is axiomatic, so are it's means. We as Humans have three levels of consciousness, sensation, perception and conception. Perception depends on sensation and conception depends on perception. To ask for a conceptual process of validation while denying the validity of sensation or perception would commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. It assumes the validity of consciousness while denying one or more of its means.

I don't believe for a second that you genuinely want to get to any understanding of these issues. I think your purpose is to cast doubt on and undermine confidence in the mind. I think you have presupposed that anything we say is wrong. And notice what your question implies. If we just believe that a god created us, without any evidence, pow, bam, poof, suddenly we can have confidence in our senses and reason. This really does create a logical problem. It would violate the primacy of existence principle which is the basis of logic.

There's much I could teach you but you'll need to drop the attitude first.

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03-04-2016, 09:58 AM
RE: Rational Thought
(03-04-2016 02:33 AM)Peebothuhul Wrote:  ...
pretty much solipsistic (Is that a word?)

It is.

(03-04-2016 02:33 AM)Peebothuhul Wrote:  ...
I also think there's an equivocation(Am I using the right term?) in that; "I am happy to take it on FAITH that I can trust my senses - in the same way that you have to take this same thing on faith too."
...

I think that this is not an equivocation, in this case. The use of 'faith' is consistent. It's just the wrong word, depending on the definition of 'faith'.

Ironically, our senses are notoriously unreliable but I'm not going to take the OP to task over that because he/she is sensibly Laughat not arguing from senses alone:

(02-04-2016 04:11 PM)diversesynergy Wrote:  ... detectable with our infinitesimally limited senses and technology.

So, 'take it on faith', in this case, is being used consistently in the sense Laughat of 'presuppositional'. Which is fair enough. And this then goes to truescotsman's favourite Randian primacy argument (reality vs. consciousness).

(03-04-2016 02:33 AM)Peebothuhul Wrote:  Please bear with me. I am in no way knowledgeable within the things people are talking about in this thread ...

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03-04-2016, 10:38 AM
RE: Rational Thought
Wow – so much response. Thanks guys!

Where to start? I guess I’ll just respond to each person in order.


DLJ – I just happened to use derive the second time round, rather than define. I guess you could construe this as an “error” if you chose to – but hey, you could always be gracious and give me the benefit of the doubt!

It changes not the logic of my argument whether you use derivation or definition in any case. If your brain is just a product of this universe, then however you “define” or “derive” whatever code of logic you are following, you are necessarily reliant on your own brain to have worked that out for you in the first place. You cannot get outside of your own brain/senses – therefore you cannot empirically validate whether or not the tool you are using (ie your brain) is correctly calibrated. That is my point. Take your pick out of which term you use out of defining and deriving, the argument is the same.


DerFish – how are we back to “turtles all the way down!” ? I’ve never understood that argument for a creator anyway. If anything, the turtles all the way down position is that of the non-creationist. If an infinite being exists, then that being “just is”. It is not an infinite regress of gods creating gods ad infinitum – the GOD entity just “is”. If the universe “just is” – then you need to posit an infinite number of past events, in a universe that demonstrates time and entropy. That really is a case of turtles all the way down! In a universe where the laws of physics show cause and effect, equal and opposite reaction etc, then surely the only sane assumption has to be that the first cause MUST have been from outside of this time-bound universe after some fashion.

Then here you might argue for a multiverse, but you’ve just added another turtle by invoking a multiverse - with less evidence than that of a deity I might add. The multiverse postulation is entirely a theory. At least with a deity there is the evidence of the religious texts which actually exist.

Next you say it isn’t just your brain, but a multiplicity of different human brains which lead you to accepting something as evidence. But you’re still relying on your own brain that is indicating to you that those other people with their different brains exist too. You can’t prove that – and to invoke this line of argument is (once again) self-referential.

Next you say I am just confusing the arguments with angels dancing on the head of a pin etc. Actually I’m not. It is a simple question I am asking you as an individual. How do you personally deal with the problem that you cannot prove that your own senses are reliable? Why don’t you give an answer? What’s with all the turtles and angels on pins etc distracting from my question!?


Chas – I never once used the word evolution. I’m saying that if your brain is a random OR unguided OR brought about via causality OR *insert whatever pedantic definition you would rather use instead* product of this universe, then how can you claim/assume that anything it derives (or defines – ok, DLJ?!) is actually rational. Simple question.

True Scotsman - Except that the universe we observe demonstrates time and entropy. That is not conducive to an infinite number of past events, so how do you resolve the “first cause” in a universe of causality based on the available evidence?

I can demonstrate your argument is self-imploding very simply:

1. You posit that your brain is ultimately just a passionless result of the causality (or whatever) of this universe.
2. You claim that you have arrived at proposition 1 using the available evidence in the universe around you and rational deduction.
3. You 100% rely on you own brain to have come up with the proposition, to gather the evidence, to conclude on the evidence, and indeed to set the parameters of what you consider to be logically valid or not in how you choose to base your conclusion!
4. You 100% cannot prove that your own brain is a reliable tool in the first place, and if you propose it is just derived from the “stuff” of this universe then you have no reason to assume this either.

Now, several people argue I am hoisted by my own petard here. And in many respects they are correct, but for 2 key differences:

-My worldview necessitates faith.

-My worldview suggests we are created in the image of a rational creator, which if true would make me a rational being by definition. Therefore, my version of the first premise supports the idea that I can assume my brain as being rational – because I posit that my brain is created by a rational being, and am myself created as a rational being. As opposed to premise 1 above, which at best should remain neutral in any assumption on rationality – or possibly out of prudence you really ought to assume that something merely the result of causality (or whatever) should be assumed to NOT be rational at the first instance, unless you have external evidence to the contrary.

I disagree with you that faith is the opposite of reason. Do you think Isaac Newton was devoid of reason because he had faith in God? If anything, I think it is highly irrational for beings who do not know the tiniest fraction of one percent about even our own universe to even begin to postulate on whether or not there might be powers higher and above of our own plane of existence. It is also phenomenally arrogant. Oh, and also there is no evidence for your own worldview, apart from your own self-justified conclusions on how you believe this universe to be best understood and measured (ie via the human scientific method). With those who follow faith, there actually is some evidence for what they adhere to (although you reject it) – in the form of the religious texts that actually exist. So your position is actually one where you have no justification for why you approach it that way, apart from the fact this is the method you have chosen is best to understand the universe for yourself – AND one where you have to refute the evidence that DOES actually exist in the form of religious texts.

You could of course argue scientific method is repeatable, observable etc etc – therefore is reliable, but this STILL falls down on three key points:

1) You can’t prove you can trust your own senses in the first place.

2) Say you repeat an experiment thousands of times over the course of your life, and always get the same result, has that proved the matter beyond ALL doubt then? Say the laws of physics are contingent on some invisible flux in the universe we cannot currently detect, and one day our planet will pass just outside of this flux such that all of the laws completely changed, then all that repeatability isn’t worth a damn is it?

3) Who is to say the things we think of as constant are even constant? Human beings have existed for the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, and have developed the modern scientific method over a mere couple of centuries. Take radiometric carbon dating for but one simplified example. We observe that carbon decay appears regular over a few decades, and assume that not only has the rate of decay always been regular but also that time has run at a constant rate for aeons. But we have utterly no proof of that whatsoever (if anything the law of relativity ought to imply the opposite, but hey ho – it’s only an assumption after all!) What is the margin of error of extrapolating 6 decades of semi-reliable data back say 5 million years? Oh, I’m sure it’s tiny…


Ace – see responses to Chas and True Scotsman. I do not invoke evolution. Evolution is entirely irrelevant here. You could have a theory that you were spontaneously created out of star-dust in a split second, or a theory that complex mammals developed over time via Evolution. It changes not the logic of my position that however you came about, in the absence of a rational creator then what logic do you have to assume rationality of your own brain if it is just a product of this universe?


WhiskeyDebates - Nice repeated use of the F word. Have you considered using wider sources to expand your lexicon – maybe a thesaurus? Or perhaps you feel the need to add weight to your argument through vulgarity for some reason? It serves only to undermine your point in my mind, but I will try and work with it.

Of course it could be applied to my worldview too, except that I’m happy to accept I take everything in life on faith. I think you do too. You have to, because you cannot prove your own senses are reliable. Perhaps you don’t like debating topics around solipsism, because you know you have no proof to refute it.

You have it backwards if you think I have no evidence for what I believe. The gospels about Christ claim to be eye-witness testimony. That is historical evidence. You can (and no doubt do) reject this evidence for whatever reasons you may have, but the evidence exists – like it or not! You on the other hand have no evidence for what you believe. You think the scientific method gives you some solid justification for interpretation, but it fails to the 3 closing points I put to True Scotsman above. Also, you have to hold to your worldview with no external justification, only what you as a human being have decided is the most valid way to explain and measure the universe. But say you are not really here on Earth at all – then all of your empiricism is a total waste of time.

Tell me, out of 100 trillion, approximately what number do you reckon humanity has reached in terms of the proportion of understanding about our own universe using the scientific method (if 100 trillion is total knowledge)?

Your position is one of pure arrogance and condescension.


Peebothuhul - Two points about my not introducing myself as new:

1) Yeah, I guess it would take a freakin genius to work out I’m new to the forum if I don’t state it in my opening post. You’d need to read the bit at the top where it says my username then “Newbie” with one star above all my posts… I have no idea what one star means, but judging by how many stars the rest of you have, I suspect it is fair indication of how new I am.

2) When I said I didn’t feel “welcome”, it wasn’t some needy leftie blub that I’m new to the forum and just want a hug from everyone. I implied that rather than welcoming a rational debate from somebody with a different worldview – in the main (although mercifully not from everyone, and thanks to those that didn’t) I have just received a condescending tirade about why you guys are so clever, superior and correct, and why I’m retarded for believing in some invisible sky-daddy.


DLJ again - “Solipsism gives 100% evidence that deities are ex imaginatione.”

10/10 for witty quip. 0/10 for logic. And the gospels about Christ, someone imagined all that did they? You have counter-evidence to support this statement of course?


Unbeliever – Yes I agree with most of your comments about solipsism. It doesn’t change my original question though. If your consciousness were just the thoughts of the Red King, then why the insistence on empiricism? I think you don’t like this line of debate around solipsism because you have no rational logic for choosing to be an atheist, rather than an agnostic. Hence why no-one will properly answer the question, presumably?


Deesse23 - The reason why I say that I am not actually invoking solipsism in the argument here is because my understanding of the definition is that as a metaphysical stance solipsism goes so far as to say nothing outside of one’s own mind actually exists. I am not saying that is the case, because I believe that stuff outside of my consciousness does exist. Hence why I don’t jump off the nearest high building (interesting you bring up jumping off buildings, because that a very similar line of argument Satan uses against Christ during the temptations).

To clarify, I don’t advocate solipsism. I don’t invoke it here. I do however ask a question of you that is closely related to part of solipsism. It is a very simple question. And one that everyone would seemingly rather sidestep than give a clear amicable answer. Why is that do you suppose?


Peebothuhul - See my clarification of my position on solipsism immediately above. Same closing question to you.

You boldly assert that in general the worldview held by most posters on this thread is based on "reality". But that is precisely the paradox I am addressing in my OP. How can you state it to be reality, when you cannot prove the reliability of the “interpretation machine” you are using to assess that "reality"?


Evolutionkills – nope, whatever you might consider to be “evidence” fails to the 3 points I closed with in my response to TrueScotsman above.

Your definition of solipsism is incomplete, as a metaphysical stance solipsism goes so far as to say nothing outside of one’s own mind exists. I do not advocate that.


Gilgamesh - that is a good suggestion, and a productive response. Thank-you so much.

I guess in layman’s terms, I am primarily asking how do different people on this forum deal with the problem that you can’t prove that your own brain/senses are reliable? Particularly for those people who insist on the scientific method as the bedrock of their worldview.

But further than that – if your assumption is that your brain is just made of the matter of this universe, and only came about through the causality of processes within this universe somehow, then you go on to say you have “concluded” this is the most likely way humanity came about based on weighing up the available evidence – how is it that you can rely on that as a conclusion? Because you can't get round the fact that your brain came up with that conclusion, but your proposal is that your brain just came about as a causality of processes. So what reason is there to trust any conclusion your brain comes up with, if you believe it is just a product of the matter and processes of this universe. At best it is circular and self-justifying.

I can already see some people think the question is irrelevant and don’t want to even debate it (hardly very “scientific” though).

And if atheists here are saying that they CAN trust their own brain in reaching their conclusions, then on what basis do those same atheists say that theists are irrational in reaching a conclusion about a deity using their brains as well. Because according to the atheist, the theist’s brain is also a product of this universe too. So how can the atheist say with utter certainty that they can definitely trust the conclusion they have made with their own brains, and that this is rational – but they cannot trust the conclusion of the theist, and that this is irrational – when both brains are the product of the of this universe (according to the atheist, that is)? Other than self-justified stance that the atheist assumes they are right with their worldview of how to interpret this universe, and that the theist is wrong.

Does that make sense? I don’t think I explained it very well.


Unfogged – See my closing 3 points to Truescotsman about why I don't think this panacea of testability and repeatability of scientific empiricism are actually as concrete as many people might believe them to be.


Truescotsman – That you think I have a hidden agenda is entirely your own inference and unfounded. I genuinely came here to listen to an alternate worldview, as one of the key reasons I reject reliance on the empirical (as a standalone way to test the validity of “stuff” at any rate) is this paradox that you cannot test how well calibrated your brain in the first place.

After a fashion, your response has somewhat demonstrated well to me your worldview. You believe you are rational, open-minded and base your conclusions on all the available evidence and studying into all avenues. Yet your demeanour suggests quite the opposite. Rather than openly debating this paradoxical topic, and explaining to me rationally and amicably how you have reached your conclusion, you haven’t really answered the question and have defensively responded in quite a barbed style. Is this really the demeanour of the rationalist, who is confident of their conclusions, and wants to explore other worldviews to make sure they have covered all possibilities?

Despite what you may think, I have come here in good faith to learn. I actually don’t mind too much if most of you want to be polemical muppets about how you choose to respond, and just use me as some sort of mental punchbag to vent your insecurities at because you can't deal with solipsism. As long as one person will take the time to explain their views to me clearly and calmly, then I can just ignore the rest of you and still get something out of this debate (although please do know that many of you have given off a crappy impression to me of proponents of your worldview, which supposedly stands for “rationality” and “tolerance”).


I have said all I need to say, and clarified and re-clarified as best I can. If there is someone out there who can give me a rationally explained response to my question, then please feel free to post it on here or PM me. Also anyone who wants the "last word" and fancies having another shot at me across the port bough, then please feel free to do so if it makes you happy.
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03-04-2016, 10:48 AM (This post was last modified: 03-04-2016 01:31 PM by Chas.)
RE: Rational Thought
(03-04-2016 10:38 AM)diversesynergy Wrote:  Chas – I never once used the word evolution. I’m saying that if your brain is a random OR unguided OR brought about via causality OR *insert whatever pedantic definition you would rather use instead* product of this universe, then how can you claim/assume that anything it derives (or defines – ok, DLJ?!) is actually rational. Simple question.

I know you didn't use the word 'evolution'; I'm pointing out that you should have. Evolution is not irrelevant here, it is key.

Evolved organisms are functional in their environments with functional attributes that evolved in those environments.

Our brains and consciousness demonstrably work, those workings are demonstrated by successfully processing inputs from the environment.

Simple answer. Drinking Beverage

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03-04-2016, 10:51 AM
RE: Rational Thought
(03-04-2016 10:38 AM)diversesynergy Wrote:  Also anyone who wants the "last word" and fancies having another shot at me across the port bough, then please feel free to do so if it makes you happy.

port bow

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03-04-2016, 10:57 AM
RE: Rational Thought
(03-04-2016 10:38 AM)diversesynergy Wrote:  I have said all I need to say, and clarified and re-clarified as best I can. If there is someone out there who can give me a rationally explained response to my question, then please feel free to post it on here or PM me.

Send me your email address and I will send you proof that God does indeed exist. I assume you don't have a problem with fundoshis. Please have the subject "theist here" without quotes exactly as it is shown to get a reply about starting to discuss the proof of a god-like being's existence.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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03-04-2016, 10:57 AM
RE: Rational Thought
double post shit

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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03-04-2016, 11:00 AM
RE: Rational Thought
At work.

TL;DR

Tongue

Sorry, will try and post when I have more time.
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