Refuting Atheism
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26-10-2010, 10:46 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Hey, 2buckchuck.

Quote:When I talk to other people who can see that object, they call it red as well.

Only due to social agreement.

Quote:The notion that reality is totally subjective strikes me as pointless.

That's not what's being said. Actuallity is what it is. The only question is, can we know it in an objective way or is our understanding of it subjective.

Quote:Even if it's true, how should our behavior reflect the truth of subjectivism?

We should not act as if we have objective truths and we should not try to make others with views opposing to ours accept our views because we view them as objective and we should accept that there is a plurality of ways to understand and interract with the universe.

Quote:All of our existence depends heavily on the assumption that what you and I experience together is reflective of an objective reality. If we assume otherwise, how would we change our interaction with our perceived reality? What would we do differently? If you believe strongly in something I don't see at all (e.g., a deity), then one of us is probably being deceived by our senses, or interpreting their sensory input very differently, rather than reality being different between us.

We change that assumption to, we understand that our understanding of reality is a subjective social construct and not reality itself. We accept that this construct is wrong, but useful. We accept that while our group shares this construct, others do not. We accept that their construct is just as valid as ours, otherwise it would not have been selected.

Descartes is hardly sophomoric.

But this isn't an argument for the idea that you are the only thing that exists. It's an argument about how humans perceive.

If you find philosophy exasperating, I can understand. Real talk. But I won't dismiss the contribution of thousands of years of philosophy because you and others don't like it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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27-10-2010, 06:57 PM
 
RE: Refuting Atheism
Nihilism [or relativism] is no answer that can be used in life. To assert that "nothing is true" is a proposition that is contradictory in itself. In order to make that statement you have to believe somethhing to be true... namely that nothing is true. So if nothing is true is true to you... then it can't be true... because its contradicting to even make that statement.
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27-10-2010, 09:42 PM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Hey, STFA.

The statement isn't "nothing is true" (for my money anyway). It's "all models are wrong". So while I might use a model that is of use to me, it is wrong. It is a subjective understanding of the universe. Where truth comes in is in the question, "is my model correct?" Objectivists would say that the model they are using is an objective Truth (capital T), while subjectivists say that people possess truths (small t). So a subjectivist might say, there is no Truth, only truths.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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28-10-2010, 03:00 AM
 
RE: Refuting Atheism
(26-10-2010 10:46 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, 2buckchuck.

Quote:When I talk to other people who can see that object, they call it red as well.

Only due to social agreement.

So you say. But people I've never met before will also tell me the object is red. What social agreement have I made with them to describe the object as red? The only plausible explanation is that the object is red in an objective way. How we perceive "redness" is not a social construct. Nope.

(27-10-2010 04:50 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:The notion that reality is totally subjective strikes me as pointless.

That's not what's being said. Actuallity is what it is. The only question is, can we know it in an objective way or is our understanding of it subjective.

Our understanding of things is via our sensory input, which is interpreted by our brains. I suppose this is what you mean by "subjective". This was all discussed ages ago by John Locke. But the social agreements we arrive at are the result of a shared objective reality that we experience. In science, our interpretations of that reality change as we gain understanding - science is a social agreement, no doubt, but the most plausible assumption is that it's based on shared perceptions regarding an objective reality.

(27-10-2010 04:50 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:Even if it's true, how should our behavior reflect the truth of subjectivism?

We should not act as if we have objective truths and we should not try to make others with views opposing to ours accept our views because we view them as objective and we should accept that there is a plurality of ways to understand and interract with the universe.

Once again, the notion of truth comes up. By "objective" truth, are you talking about "absolute" truth? If there is some sort of absolute truth, it's unlikely any of us will ever know it. On that, I agree fully. And there certainly are many ways to interpret the universe - no argument there, either. But to suggest that everything we see happening around us has as its basis only in a social agreement strikes me as nonsense.

(27-10-2010 04:50 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:All of our existence depends heavily on the assumption that what you and I experience together is reflective of an objective reality. If we assume otherwise, how would we change our interaction with our perceived reality? What would we do differently? If you believe strongly in something I don't see at all (e.g., a deity), then one of us is probably being deceived by our senses, or interpreting their sensory input very differently, rather than reality being different between us.

We change that assumption to, we understand that our understanding of reality is a subjective social construct and not reality itself. We accept that this construct is wrong, but useful. We accept that while our group shares this construct, others do not. We accept that their construct is just as valid as ours, otherwise it would not have been selected.

I never said, nor would I propose that anyone believe that their perception of reality is reality itself. Everyone's perception of reality is unique to them, but my assumption is that an object reality exists and all of us share in that reality, even if we interpret it differently. Not all constructs are equally valid - in science, we have ways to measure the validity of our concepts and so we can make clear distinctions between valid and invalid constructions. Our social agreement is not about that reality but rather how we go about testing our constructs against that reality.

(27-10-2010 04:50 PM)Ghost Wrote:  If you find philosophy exasperating, I can understand. Real talk. But I won't dismiss the contribution of thousands of years of philosophy because you and others don't like it.

The fact that I find it exasperating has no implied message that you have to change your mind. I've always said you (and anyone else) are free to accept or dismiss anything you like. Thousands of years of staring at one's navel is not a particularly compelling reason for me to accept it, either.
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28-10-2010, 08:17 AM
 
RE: Refuting Atheism
Anyone who claims to know "absolute truth" is either a liar or a fool ... or both.
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06-11-2010, 09:01 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Hey, 2buckchuck.

Quote:So you say. But people I've never met before will also tell me the object is red. What social agreement have I made with them to describe the object as red? The only plausible explanation is that the object is red in an objective way. How we perceive "redness" is not a social construct. Nope.

These people. They speak English right?

Social agreement can be widespread. For example, 1.5 billion people or so speak Chinese. This is not to conflate language with social agreement, it's more complex than that. It's to say that any concept you can think of is a part of a social agreement.

This is not to say that similarity is impossible. There was actually a study (that I have a vague memory of) that looked at concepts of colour across many cultures. They found that the categories of colour were significantly similar across cultures, ie, red was basically red in every culture. Death is another example. Most cultures have some concept of death and these concepts are pretty similar cross-culturally. But this similarity can be attributed to Evolutionarily Stable Strategies. That is to say that these ideas do better against other ideas because they are more adaptive.

Quote:Our understanding of things is via our sensory input, which is interpreted by our brains. I suppose this is what you mean by "subjective". This was all discussed ages ago by John Locke. But the social agreements we arrive at are the result of a shared objective reality that we experience. In science, our interpretations of that reality change as we gain understanding - science is a social agreement, no doubt, but the most plausible assumption is that it's based on shared perceptions regarding an objective reality.

What is subjective is our understanding of those inputs. We understand the universe by modeling it in our brains. These models are useful but ultimately innacureate because they are abstractions. Like I said, actuality is what it is. We're in agreement about that. We experience that reality. We're in agreement about that. Models and social agreements can change. I think we're agreeing about that. The only place we're differing is that you are saying that our understanding is ITSELF objectively true and I'm saying that it is subjectively true and seperate from actuality (please correct me if I'm wrong about that).

Quote:Once again, the notion of truth comes up. By "objective" truth, are you talking about "absolute" truth? If there is some sort of absolute truth, it's unlikely any of us will ever know it. On that, I agree fully. And there certainly are many ways to interpret the universe - no argument there, either. But to suggest that everything we see happening around us has as its basis only in a social agreement strikes me as nonsense.

Right. An objective truth is one that simply is true and that cannot be anything else meaning that contradictory ideas are necessarilly false. Like in Highlander, there can be only one (cue Queen soundtrack). I also agree that we will never know it. That's the core of the idea for me. Objective truth may exist in the universe but we do not, will not and cannot know it.

Look at your table. Why is it table? It's table because we've decided it's table. Table is a very limited idea of what that table is. It's an abstracted version of whatever that table is that leaves out a lot. That table can be many things that aren't included in the model 'table'. When we interract with that table, we're actually interracting with the idea of table, not whatever that table is in actuality. This is not to say that whatever that thing we call table is something else entirely in actuality, it's to say that it is only table in the virtual reality of the mind and that in another mind, or in another society, it can be something entirely different.

What that means is that neither table or whatever the other idea is are objectively true. They're both subjective truths.

Quote:I never said, nor would I propose that anyone believe that their perception of reality is reality itself. Everyone's perception of reality is unique to them, but my assumption is that an object reality exists and all of us share in that reality, even if we interpret it differently.

This is where my brain is melting because we're saying EXACTLY the same thing. There is actuality and then there is perception. They are two different things. We all exist within actuality, which is itself objective (likely), but we interpret that reality subjectively.

Quote:Not all constructs are equally valid - in science, we have ways to measure the validity of our concepts and so we can make clear distinctions between valid and invalid constructions. Our social agreement is not about that reality but rather how we go about testing our constructs against that reality.

I can understand the scientific idea of validity. I just don't agree with it.

For me, validity isn't a question of accuracy. It's a question of usefulness. All models are wrong so accuracy isn't important. If the model is adaptive, it doesn't matter if it's accurate, it works.

So science is great. It works super well. It's saved my life on many occasions and it's something that I value greatly. But to me, it's "valid" not because of it's accuracy, but because it is adaptive. Contradictory ideas are not "invalid" because they are more or less accureate by comparison. They are valid if they are adaptive.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-11-2010, 05:48 PM
 
RE: Refuting Atheism
(06-11-2010 09:01 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, 2buckchuck.
...snip...
Quote:Our understanding of things is via our sensory input, which is interpreted by our brains. I suppose this is what you mean by "subjective". This was all discussed ages ago by John Locke. But the social agreements we arrive at are the result of a shared objective reality that we experience. In science, our interpretations of that reality change as we gain understanding - science is a social agreement, no doubt, but the most plausible assumption is that it's based on shared perceptions regarding an objective reality.

What is subjective is our understanding of those inputs. We understand the universe by modeling it in our brains. These models are useful but ultimately innacureate because they are abstractions. Like I said, actuality is what it is. We're in agreement about that. We experience that reality. We're in agreement about that. Models and social agreements can change. I think we're agreeing about that. The only place we're differing is that you are saying that our understanding is ITSELF objectively true and I'm saying that it is subjectively true and seperate from actuality (please correct me if I'm wrong about that).

No, that's not what I'm saying. I think we agree that we construct "models" in our brains, but there is an objective reality out there and in many cases, our models are pretty damned accurate. For example, the widespread agreement that an object is red. There might be very isolated exceptions to this, perhaps become of some visual impairment in individuals, but for the most part, those models are sufficiently accurate that we can be pretty confident that the object is red. Accuracy of those models is important to our survival, because if we construct poor models of the objective reality, that reality could kill us! If I see a tiger running toward me and my subjective interpretation of that sensory input is that it's a marshmallow, that would not bode well for me. Evolution has placed a premium on the accuracy of our subjective models, despite your casual dismissal of the significance of accuracy, below.

(06-11-2010 09:01 AM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:Once again, the notion of truth comes up. By "objective" truth, are you talking about "absolute" truth? If there is some sort of absolute truth, it's unlikely any of us will ever know it. On that, I agree fully. And there certainly are many ways to interpret the universe - no argument there, either. But to suggest that everything we see happening around us has as its basis only in a social agreement strikes me as nonsense.
...snip...
Look at your table. Why is it table? It's table because we've decided it's table. Table is a very limited idea of what that table is. It's an abstracted version of whatever that table is that leaves out a lot. That table can be many things that aren't included in the model 'table'. When we interract with that table, we're actually interracting with the idea of table, not whatever that table is in actuality. This is not to say that whatever that thing we call table is something else entirely in actuality, it's to say that it is only table in the virtual reality of the mind and that in another mind, or in another society, it can be something entirely different.

What that means is that neither table or whatever the other idea is are objectively true. They're both subjective truths.
When we interact with a table, we're interacting with the idea of a table?? That strikes me as absurdly contradictory. We interact with an object in the real world and its reality matches the model we have in our minds of what a table is. However, a bag of sand could be used as a table, and so our mental model of "table" could expand to include the use of a bag of sand as a table, despite the fact that we might not ever had occasion to use it for that purpose before. The human mind interprets reality in a way that reflects the effect of an objective reality on our senses, and that mind can be flexible enough to realize that our model needs to be modified to include situations we've not encountered before. Again, evolution places a premium on that flexibility, as well as the accuracy of those models.

(06-11-2010 09:01 AM)Ghost Wrote:  ...snip...
Quote:Not all constructs are equally valid - in science, we have ways to measure the validity of our concepts and so we can make clear distinctions between valid and invalid constructions. Our social agreement is not about that reality but rather how we go about testing our constructs against that reality.

I can understand the scientific idea of validity. I just don't agree with it.

You don't agree with the 'scientific idea of validity'? Really?? On what possible basis?

(06-11-2010 09:01 AM)Ghost Wrote:  For me, validity isn't a question of accuracy. It's a question of usefulness. All models are wrong so accuracy isn't important. If the model is adaptive, it doesn't matter if it's accurate, it works.

I think, as I've already explained, that both accuracy and flexibility of our mental models of the objective reality with which we interact are important. To dismiss accuracy is a pretty bold move. Being adaptive but inaccurate is a fine way to end up dead.

(06-11-2010 09:01 AM)Ghost Wrote:  So science is great. It works super well. It's saved my life on many occasions and it's something that I value greatly. But to me, it's "valid" not because of it's accuracy, but because it is adaptive. Contradictory ideas are not "invalid" because they are more or less accureate by comparison. They are valid if they are adaptive.
Why would adaptivity be of any value if it produced inaccurate results? Science works so well because it's standards involve both accuracy and adaptivity.
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08-11-2010, 09:43 PM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Hey, 2buckchuck.

We're on different pages. It's making things messy.

Quote:No, that's not what I'm saying. I think we agree that we construct "models" in our brains, but there is an objective reality out there and in many cases, our models are pretty damned accurate. For example, the widespread agreement that an object is red. There might be very isolated exceptions to this, perhaps become of some visual impairment in individuals, but for the most part, those models are sufficiently accurate that we can be pretty confident that the object is red. Accuracy of those models is important to our survival, because if we construct poor models of the objective reality, that reality could kill us! If I see a tiger running toward me and my subjective interpretation of that sensory input is that it's a marshmallow, that would not bode well for me. Evolution has placed a premium on the accuracy of our subjective models, despite your casual dismissal of the significance of accuracy, below.

Evolution has placed no such premium on accuracy. For starters, if you can find accuracy or anything to do with accuracy anywhere in evolutionary theory, I'd like to see it. Second, evolution cares only about what is adaptive and what is maladaptive (and what is exaptive). It only cares about those things because adaptive things get selected and maladaptive things are self-eliminating. Adaptive is NOT a synonymn for accurate or better or more complex or any derrivative thereof. Adaptive simply means "it works". What you're doing is saying that science is more accurate and more accurate is better and therefore more adaptive. But that's a mess.

As for red, visual impairment has nothing to do with it. If you ask someone "what colour is that" they can only answer red if they understand that concept. What I'm talking about is not some people getting a concept wrong (like a colour blind man failing to identify what he understands as red) but people having a completely different concept.

As for what you're saying about flexibility... It strikes me that the frame you are operating within is that a given social reality is flexible. I can dig on that. But what I don't feel you're doing is traveling OUTSIDE of your given social reality. Do you know what I'm getting at?

As for the scientific idea of validity, you quoted what I base it on.

I don't know. We're on different pages.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-11-2010, 09:47 PM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Quote:I don't know. We're on different pages.

I reached this conclusion like 2 weeks ago. I honestly don't understand your page, either. I really can't get my arms around the concept that things can be other than what they are.

No point in rehashing it again, though, except for one thing I simply cannot let pass:

Quote:I can dig on that.

Is your page in the 1960s? Groovy, baby.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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08-11-2010, 09:58 PM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Hey, BnW.

Nice.

It's important to point things like that out. It's like if a Big Bang theory person and a God built this city in 6 days (and on rock n' roll) person were discussing the birth of the universe and were failing to recognise that they have completely different perspectives. All they'll do is argue. I'm not trying to make anyone a subjectivist. I'm just trying to explain subjectivism as I understand it. It's a square peg. Can't be put in a round hole. It needs to be understood on its own terms or not at all. But understanding it doesn't mean you have to accept it.

Peace and Love and Emapthy,

Matt
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