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UndercoverElephant
28th March 2006, 04:50 PM
This is an offshoot from another thread. I am going to try to explain what Edmund Husserl said and why he said it. He decided that it was impossible to get people to understand the metaphysical nightmare that philosophy was stuck in (and which the debates on this board are still stuck in) unless they retraced the stages of the development of thought that led to the current impasse.

Before the Greeks there was no science, no systematic philosophy and no geometry. When people spoke and thought about "the world" they simply referred to the world in which they lived. The world of trees and houses and people. Husserl asks you to reserve judgement at this time about what you think this world is "made of". There is just this world in which we live and Husserl refers to it as "the lifeworld".

The first stage in the mathematisation of the lifeworld is the arrival of Greek geometry. Geometry does not describe the things we find in the lifeworld. Instead, it describe perfect versions of some aspects of those things. There are no perfect spheres or circles in the lifeworld. There are oranges, there are the moon and sun, but there are no absolutely perfect shapes like the ones we find in geometry. Husserl describes the entities of geometry as like "guiding poles" of perfection, which we might try to imitate in the lifeworld but which we can never actually attain.

So the situation remained until Galileo comes along and has the bright idea of extending this mathematisation project to the whole of nature, whereby he might better transcend the confines of the subjectively experienced lifeworld and come to "better understand the mind of God". It is important to note that Galileo, at the time, still thought of the world as the lifeworld. The mathematisation was a deliberate ploy to better understand the way it worked, but it was never deliberately intended for the understanding of what "world" meant to shift from the lifeworld to the mathematisation of that world.

The lifeworld is not completely mathematisable anyway. In the lifeworld you are presented with, say, a green apple. Now, you can geometrically mathematise the rough sphere, but how on earth are you going to mathematise the green? You can't. Well, you can't do it directly. You can only do it indirectly by abstracting something from the mathematised model. You can mathematise green by specifying the wavelength of green light, but this is an entirely different process to the mathematisation of the sphere, as I hope everyone will agree. The mathematisation of the sphere looks like a sphere. The mathematisation of green doesn't look like anything. It's just a number. Take another example. How are you going to mathematise felt temperature? You can specify the temperature of your nerve cells in degrees celsius, but this isn't even as useful as the wavelength, because a specific temperate in degrees celsius doesn't always feel the same - it depends on whether your hand is warming up, cooling down or staying the same.

So this mathematisation of the lifeworld can never be complete and the mathematisation simply is not the lifeworld. However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld to be identical. JREFers believe the world is made of atoms. Sure, it is also made of oranges and houses but those are made of atoms. But what are "atoms"? The word "atom" refers to an object in the mathematisation. The word "orange" refers to an object in the lifeworld. But oranges are made of atoms!!! Do you see the problem? At what point does it stop being the mathematisation and start being the lifeworld? Is it a continuum? It surely is not. Is there a sudden transition? No. Therefore we have a problem, it's a logical problem and it's a serious problem.

At this point Husserl hopes that people can now begin the process of unravelling the mysterious mess we have got ourselves into. Somebody in the other thread said "So what? Why does this matter?" It matters because people (and at the time Husserl was writing it seemed like pretty much everyone) are not aware of this conflation of the lifeworld and the model of the lifeworld. It goes by unnoticed. But it is exactly this mistake which leads to the apparently unresolvable problems of metaphysics, and the only way to get beyond those problems is to go back to thinking of the lifeworld as the lifeworld and the mathematisation as the mathematisation. That's why it matters. What we call "materialism" is the result of getting the lifeworld mixed up with the mathematisation and failing to recognise that this has happened. What we call "idealism" is a dialectical reaction to this mistake which simply provides a mirror image of the mistake. Husserl therefore ends up being neither a materialist nor an idealist, regardless of the fact that he is often accused of being an idealist.

:)

Geoff.

28th March 2006, 04:59 PM
However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board identifies the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld as being identical. No.

UndercoverElephant
28th March 2006, 05:05 PM
No.

I am going to bed now. Any chance you can do better than a one word answer? :D

28th March 2006, 05:11 PM
"Straw man".

That's two.

We can all tell the difference between a mathematical model and reality.

28th March 2006, 05:38 PM
What I don't understand is why the mistake of confusing the lifeworld and its mathematisation somehow leads to the apparently unresolved problems of metaphysics, or why eliminating the confusion would help us get past those problems.

Occaisionally, I do see signs of this confusion, but not all that often, and I don't see that confusion leading to any of the struggles on this board or any place where people debate weighty philosophical issues.

UserGoogol
28th March 2006, 05:42 PM
Both the "lifeworld" and the mathematization of nature, based on your descriptions, seem to both be models. The lifeworld as you describe it seems to refer to the various sensations by which we experience reality. Phenomena seem to me to be merely the internal model by which human beings automatically parse the universe into. I see no reason to believe that the sensation of "redness" actually exists in nature. (It might, but it might not.) The "lifeworld," as it were, is merely the model which our subconscious mind automatically constructs, whereas the mathematical world consists of the model which our conscious mind constructs quite deliberately and carefully. Neither is a truly complete model of reality, but the mathematical world seems better because it is the result of conscious effort.

In addition, it seems unfair to give atoms and oranges different levels of reality. We can see individual atoms, and we can see individual oranges. It just happens that we can see oranges with our natural faculties, whereas atoms can only be seen with additional help. But I don't see why the eyeball is so much better than the electron microscope.

For what it's worth, I've long been of the opinion that much of metaphysics is utter bullsh*t. I am very much of the opinion of people such as Kant who say that the ultimate nature of reality is unknowable.

hammegk
28th March 2006, 06:25 PM
"Straw man".

That's two.

We can all tell the difference between a mathematical model and reality.
Have you ever tried thought prior to typing a meaningless assertion?

28th March 2006, 06:28 PM
No. Nor have I tried breathing before wrestling with crocodiles.

stamenflicker
28th March 2006, 06:29 PM
"Straw man".

That's two.

We can all tell the difference between a mathematical model and reality.

I don't at all speak for Dr. A, but I would agree with him that many (probably not most) people on this board understand the limits of their philosophical leanings. It's easy to forget those limitations when we are debating back and forth.

However, in relation to the straw man accusation, I believe Geoff gave a fair criticism of a hardline materialist world view, which does deserve a bit more discussion.

Again we are really talking about the models of understanding reality, and many of us know this even when we sound like we don't.

Further, the statement from Geoff deserves more consideration:

What we call "idealism" is a dialectical reaction to this mistake which simply provides a mirror image of the mistake. Husserl therefore ends up being neither a materialist nor an idealist, regardless of the fact that he is often accused of being an idealist.

Where this post doesn't yet take us, and I am uncertain if Husserl does or not, is into the notion that of what we are really able to discuss outside of mathematization (or representation models) of empiricial facts. It also fails to really acknowledge the power and problems of nominalism as we move further away from empirical facts-- in which language serves a mathematical model of representation of both objective phenomomon and subjective noumenon, both of which exist as (at the bare minimum) ontological entities in the lifeworld.

That said, it is important to realize that there are many scientists and logicians with the not-so-hidden agenda as to make idealism out to be a farce to begin with, in other words, treating it as an utter failure to communicate anything of value. This post addresses that very well.

Flick

28th March 2006, 08:05 PM
However, the fact remains that no-one is in any danger of confusing a mathematical model of reality and reality. For much the same reason that no-one is likely to try to eat the word "apple".

To misquote Samuel Johnson : "I am not so lost in mathematics as to have forgotten that numbers are the sons of earth and things are the daughters of heaven."

NB : Flick --- re your signature --- I have a single hypothesis which can explain both the facts that puzzled Chesterton. Can you guess what it is?

stamenflicker
28th March 2006, 08:42 PM
NB : Flick --- re your signature --- I have a single hypothesis which can explain both the facts that puzzled Chesterton. Can you guess what it is?

Nope, fire away.

LW
28th March 2006, 10:36 PM
The mathematisation of the sphere looks like a sphere.

You do have odd looking spheres around, if they really look like this:

$(x-x_0)^2 + (y-y_0)^2 + (z-z_0)^2 = R^2$.

Kevin_Lowe
29th March 2006, 12:01 AM
At this point Husserl hopes that people can now begin the process of unravelling the mysterious mess we have got ourselves into. Somebody in the other thread said "So what? Why does this matter?" It matters because people (and at the time Husserl was writing it seemed like pretty much everyone) are not aware of this conflation of the lifeworld and the model of the lifeworld. It goes by unnoticed.

That's because for most purposes it is a distinction without a difference, and hence not worth mentioning.

But it is exactly this mistake which leads to the apparently unresolvable problems of metaphysics, and the only way to get beyond those problems is to go back to thinking of the lifeworld as the lifeworld and the mathematisation as the mathematisation.

What problems? Who are they problems for?

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 02:18 AM
"Straw man".

That's two.

We can all tell the difference between a mathematical model and reality.

D.A.,

It is no use just dipping in at the end of the argument and denying the conclusion. You have to actually start from the beginning and explain where I lose you, yes?

Geoff

LW
29th March 2006, 02:45 AM
It is no use just dipping in at the end of the argument and denying the conclusion. You have to actually start from the beginning and explain where I lose you, yes?

Here:
However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld to be identical.

I don't know any scientist who would claim that the world and the mathematical model that describes the world are identical. [I'm not saying that there is not any, but it certainly is not the standard position].

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 03:23 AM

Thankyou for giving a coherent reply instead of an attempt at a two-word put-down.

What I don't understand is why the mistake of confusing the lifeworld and its mathematisation somehow leads to the apparently unresolved problems of metaphysics, or why eliminating the confusion would help us get past those problems.

Occaisionally, I do see signs of this confusion, but not all that often, and I don't see that confusion leading to any of the struggles on this board or any place where people debate weighty philosophical issues.

The unresolvable problems of metaphysics which we are usually struggling with basically started with a bunch of arguments about three metaphysical positions: cartesian dualism, materialism and idealism. Descartes and Galileo were contempories, so the mathematisation project of Galileo and the metaphysical project of Descartes were practically simultaneous. What makes the current situation unresolvable is the impossibility of getting rid of one half of Descartes dualism without doing violence to the other half. It's also really quite difficult to think and talk without unwittingly falling back into the same mistakes over and over again.

The mathematised model isn't real. It is an idealised abstraction, in exactly the same way as the perfect shapes of geometry are idealised abstractions. Within the lifeworld, as it was implicitly understood before the mathematisation, all sorts of things exist which transcend the supposed distinction between mind and matter. The red apple is a classic example. The apple seems to be clearly material. Yet even though the redness occurs on the surface of the apple, it seems to be mental - at least it is very hard to figure out how it could be material. You say you can't see why this leads to confusion? Look at the post that followed yours:

I see no reason to believe that the sensation of "redness" actually exists in nature. (It might, but it might not.)

There's your problem: we can't figure out where "redness" is. It's not a problem before the mathematisation - the redness of the apple is on the surface of the apple and that is all there is to it. It is only when you bifurcate the world into a material realm and mental realm that you end up with the hopeless problem of trying to specify to which realm redness belongs.

The reason Husserl's concept can get us past the problems of metaphysics is that it tries to get us to see that there is no way forwards out of this problem. As soon as the mathematisation has been confused with the lifeworld you end up with an implicit claim of materialism. As soon as this claim is made, somebody will come along and give you a dualistic or idealistic response which is very hard to rebutt because all it does is point out the stark staring obvious fact that we really do have subjective experiences and they really do contain unmathematisable components like the experience of seeing red or feeling warmth. We have taken a wrong turn, and are stuck in a blind alley. There is no way forward out of the blind alley. We can't fix materalism and we can't fix dualism or idealism either. So we must reverse to the point of the (unacknowledged) wrong turn. We must go back and grab a concept which existed implictly before the mathemisation and bifurcation, but which had no name other than "world". "World" is now a really difficult problem, because we can't agree what "world" is actually made of. So Husserl invents the term "lifeworld" and insists that we suspend judgement about what it is "made of" (he call's this an "epoche" or "bracketing of the question of existence"). In doing so we are not so much solving the problems of metaphysics than rewinding to a position before they occur - which is the only genuine way to escape them. As long as people continue trying to defend materialism, they are perpetuating the confusion unwittingly created by Descartes and Galileo. The key to understanding this, IMO, is fully taking on board the fact that materialism, as it is generally propounded at the moment, is not conceptually independent of dualism. The lifeworld, by contrast, is independent of dualism and the mathemetisation, because it predates both.

Geoff

Darat
29th March 2006, 03:33 AM
This is an offshoot from another thread. I am going to try to explain what Edmund Husserl said and why he said it. And thanks for the link -it was to say the least interesting.

Before the Greeks there was no science, no systematic philosophy and no geometry.

...snip...

On a factual note is this accurate? I though the world's first university is normally given to been Takshashila - around 700 BCE?

Kevin_Lowe
29th March 2006, 03:52 AM
The unresolvable problems of metaphysics which we are usually struggling with basically started with a bunch of arguments about three metaphysical positions: cartesian dualism, materialism and idealism. Descartes and Galileo were contempories, so the mathematisation project of Galileo and the metaphysical project of Descartes were practically simultaneous. What makes the current situation unresolvable is the impossibility of getting rid of one half of Descartes dualism without doing violence to the other half. It's also really quite difficult to think and talk without unwittingly falling back into the same mistakes over and over again.

This paragraph is content-free, so I have nothing to say about it.

The mathematised model isn't real. It is an idealised abstraction, in exactly the same way as the perfect shapes of geometry are idealised abstractions. Within the lifeworld, as it was implicitly understood before the mathematisation, all sorts of things exist which transcend the supposed distinction between mind and matter. The red apple is a classic example. The apple seems to be clearly material. Yet even though the redness occurs on the surface of the apple, it seems to be mental - at least it is very hard to figure out how it could be material. You say you can't see why this leads to confusion? Look at the post that followed yours:

Okay, here's the real problem. The mind/matter distinction is a load of old cobblers. It was excusable in Descartes day, but now we know that the mind is matter. So there is absolutely no "problem". Redness is something that goes on in the human nervous system as a result of light of certain wavelengths hitting the human eye.

There's your problem: we can't figure out where "redness" is. It's not a problem before the mathematisation - the redness of the apple is on the surface of the apple and that is all there is to it. It is only when you bifurcate the world into a material realm and mental realm that you end up with the hopeless problem of trying to specify to which realm redness belongs.

It's no surprise that you can find a "problem" if you start from the assumption that the Cartesian mind/matter distinction was anything other than an understandable error born of ignorance. If you start with flawed premises you are highly likely to get to a problematic conclusion sooner or later.

The reason Husserl's concept can get us past the problems of metaphysics is that it tries to get us to see that there is no way forwards out of this problem. As soon as the mathematisation has been confused with the lifeworld you end up with an implicit claim of materialism. As soon as this claim is made, somebody will come along and give you a dualistic or idealistic response which is very hard to rebutt because all it does is point out the stark staring obvious fact that we really do have subjective experiences and they really do contain unmathematisable components like the experience of seeing red or feeling warmth.

There is no evidence that anything is going on when we se red other than atoms doing their little atom things in an interesting way. So the things you call "unmathematisable" are just things we don't yet understand, not things we can not ever understand. Temporary ignorance is not a metaphysical problem.

We have taken a wrong turn, and are stuck in a blind alley. There is no way forward out of the blind alley. We can't fix materalism and we can't fix dualism or idealism either. So we must reverse to the point of the (unacknowledged) wrong turn. We must go back and grab a concept which existed implictly before the mathemisation and bifurcation, but which had no name other than "world". "World" is now a really difficult problem, because we can't agree what "world" is actually made of. So Husserl invents the term "lifeworld" and insists that we suspend judgement about what it is "made of" (he call's this an "epoche" or "bracketing of the question of existence"). In doing so we are not so much solving the problems of metaphysics than rewinding to a position before they occur - which is the only genuine way to escape them. As long as people continue trying to defend materialism, they are perpetuating the confusion unwittingly created by Descartes and Galileo. The key to understanding this, IMO, is fully taking on board the fact that materialism, as it is generally propounded at the moment, is not conceptually independent of dualism. The lifeworld, by contrast, is independent of dualism and the mathemetisation, because it predates both.

It sounds to me that materialism is perfectly independent of dualism, and this Husserl twaddle is based on taking dualism as an axiom and running with it until you fall flat on your face.

Darat
29th March 2006, 04:00 AM
...snip...

Redness is something that goes on in the human nervous system as a result of light of certain wavelengths hitting the human eye.

...snip...

Don't forget that is just one the ways it occurs - direct stimulation to the brain can also cause it e.g. damage, chemical, direct stimulation of the tissue by probes and so on. But of course I agree with your comment that in principle we have certainly now "found" redness.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 04:20 AM
Hello UserGoogol

Both the "lifeworld" and the mathematization of nature, based on your descriptions, seem to both be models. The lifeworld as you describe it seems to refer to the various sensations by which we experience reality. Phenomena seem to me to be merely the internal model by which human beings automatically parse the universe into.

You are trying to map the lifeworld onto the post-mathematised post-cartesian vocabulary that is inextricable from the problem. The mathematisation is quite clearly and explitly a model, but you must resist the temptation to think of the lifeworld as a model. You only think it is a model because you are thinking in terms of modern day computationlist/representationalist theories of mind. This is in fact a paradigm example of the problem Husserl is talking about. Modern cognitive science is so entrenched in the problem that it has turned experiences themselves into a model - a model in "the mind" of human beings. But there is nothing in Husserl's argument or my description of them which implies that the lifeworld is a model. It is entirely understandable why you see the lifeworld in terms of "sensations" or "mental models". But when I see a red apple I do not see sensations of an apple or a mental model of an apple, anymore than when I draw a tree am I drawing a drawing of tree. What I see is an apple.

I hope you see what I mean. The lifeworld is not supposed to refer to "mental things", because "mental things" already presuppose the bifurcation. If it doesn't refer to "mental things" then it can't be mistaken for a model. There was nothing in my post that suggested the lifeworld is a model. That suggestion is coming from the way that you are thinking about the problem, and demonstrating the difficulty in thinking your way out of it. The confusion is utterly entrenched in our way of thinking.

I see no reason to believe that the sensation of "redness" actually exists in nature. (It might, but it might not.) The "lifeworld," as it were, is merely the model which our subconscious mind automatically constructs, whereas the mathematical world consists of the model which our conscious mind constructs quite deliberately and carefully. Neither is a truly complete model of reality, but the mathematical world seems better because it is the result of conscious effort.

The lifeworld IS reality. Think back to before the Greeks and the problem goes away. No concepts of mind and matter. Just a world. A real world. NOT a model at all. Where is the real world in your description? It seems to have disappeared altogether. All you have are models - mental models of a physical world and physical models of a mental world, but no real world. Get rid of the models, and you will find the real world re-appears. But you've got to get rid of both of them.

In addition, it seems unfair to give atoms and oranges different levels of reality. We can see individual atoms, and we can see individual oranges. It just happens that we can see oranges with our natural faculties, whereas atoms can only be seen with additional help. But I don't see why the eyeball is so much better than the electron microscope.

This is a good objection. However, you don't just need an electron microscope to "see an atom". You need an eyeball as well. You can avoid the need for an electron microscope by imagining there are microscopic human beings which can see objects consisting of only a few atoms. So instead of an orange, let's say our micro-humans see a buckyball, composed of a few carbon atoms. For the micro-humans, the word "atom" has now taken on a new meaning. Rather than being mere mathematised abstractions they are now an objects in the lifeworld. These buckyballs presumably look deep purple to the micro-humans (solutions of buckyballs are this colour). When the mico-human refers to an atom he can now mean one of two different things - a mathematised atom and a lifeworld atom. The lifeworld atom is deep purple. What colour is the mathematised atom? We already know that you can't directly mathematise deep purple, so a mathematised atom can't possibly be deep purple.

So - to return to your claim "it seems unfair to give atoms and oranges different levels of reality" do you see why it is fair to give the mathematised atom a different level of reality to the deep purple lifeworld atom that the micro-human encounters? Lifeworld atoms are purple. Mathematised atoms couldn't concievably be coloured at all. They therefore aren't the same thing and are justifiably ascribed "different levels of reality" i.e. they do not have the same ontological status. For the same reason, it is entirely "fair" to ascribe different ontological statuses to mathematised atoms and lifeworld oranges. All your example does is provide us with a thought experiment where there is some meaning to the term "lifeworld atom." This is fair enough, but a lifeworld atom still isn't a "physical atom".

For what it's worth, I've long been of the opinion that much of metaphysics is utter bullsh*t. I am very much of the opinion of people such as Kant who say that the ultimate nature of reality is unknowable.

Husserl would probably agree. That's the whole point of his "epoche".

http://www.angelfire.com/md2/timewarp/husserl.html

Phenomenological reduction is also a method of bracketing empirical intuitions away from philosophical inquiry, by refraining from making judgments upon them. Husserl uses the term epoche (Greek, for "a cessation") to refer to this suspension of judgment regarding the true nature of reality. Bracketed judgment is an epoche or suspension of inquiry, which places in brackets whatever facts belong to essential Being.

The problem is that if you are still defending materialism, you are making a metaphysical claim whether you like it or not. It is utterly paradoxical to claim that the whole of metaphysics is ******** and simultaneously attempt to defend materialism to the hilt, but that doesn't stop a whole army of people doing exactly that.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 04:22 AM
However, the fact remains that no-one is in any danger of confusing a mathematical model of reality and reality.

Really?

What colour are atoms? :)

And BTW, did you actually bother to read the opening post?

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 04:24 AM
That's because for most purposes it is a distinction without a difference, and hence not worth mentioning.

What problems? Who are they problems for?

Did you actually read the opening post either?

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 04:26 AM
Here:

I don't know any scientist who would claim that the world and the mathematical model that describes the world are identical. [I'm not saying that there is not any, but it certainly is not the standard position].

What is the standard position?

Are atoms coloured?

Darat
29th March 2006, 04:26 AM
Really?

What colour are atoms? :)

All colours and no colours - colour is a human invented word to help us communicate "events" (to use your word from another thread).

LW
29th March 2006, 04:33 AM
What is the standard position?

That world is what world is and does what world does, and science creates mathematical models that describe how the world looks like and allows us to predict how it will behave.

Are atoms coloured?

Atoms as in the small blobs of matter that we can see with electron microscope [the world] or atoms as symbols that occur in various mathematical formulas that physicists and chemists use to describe how the said small blobs of matter interact with each other [the mathematical model]?

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 04:36 AM
This paragraph is content-free, so I have nothing to say about it.

What are you talking about, Kevin? In what sense was that paragraph "content free"? "Content-free" is when you get a rant or a flame or a total failure to say anything at all. The paragraph you are refering to contained a whole load of content. Why have you nothing to say about it? Do you agree with it? Do you disagree with it? Why?

Okay, here's the real problem. The mind/matter distinction is a load of old cobblers. It was excusable in Descartes day, but now we know that the mind is matter. So there is absolutely no "problem".

You have done what Dr Inadequate did. You aren't actually responding to the argument supplied. You are just offering your own opinion, which is not directly concerned with anything I wrote. Please go back to the opening post and tell me where I lose you. Please explain at which point you do not agree with the historical explanation of the process. I need to know that you have actually followed the line of reasoning and that you can tell me at precisely which point you do not agree with it. It is no use just skipping to the end or going off in some other direction that happened to take your fancy and declaring that there is "no problem." [b]That's what creationists do. They don't follow the argument. They don't respond to the argument. They just skip to the end, reject the conclusion and declare it to be ********. "There is no problem", they declare, having failed to even try to understand the enormous problem right in front of their noses.

Most of the rest of your post is equally irrelevant to the argument supplied, and therefore of interest whatsoever.

So the things you call "unmathematisable" are just things we don't yet understand, not things we can not ever understand. Temporary ignorance is not a metaphysical problem.

No, Kevin. The reason we cannot directly mathematise the experience of red or of felt warmth is not because we are suffering from a temporary ignorance of how to do it. We already know it is quite impossible to directly mathematise these things. Go back to my opening post, follow the argument, and tell me what you don't understand.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 04:39 AM
All colours and no colours - colour is a human invented word to help us communicate "events" (to use your word from another thread).

Q) What colour are atoms?

A) All colours and no colours

Darat, what is that answer supposed to mean?

Perhaps I could have phrased the question better:

Are atoms coloured?

Darat
29th March 2006, 04:56 AM

Q) What colour are atoms?

A) All colours and no colours

Darat, what is that answer supposed to mean?

Perhaps I could have phrased the question better:

Are atoms coloured?

You are using a word that we have invented to describe certain "events" in the world around us and trying to extend the usage of that word to something it was not originally intended to cope with. (Not that there is anything wrong with extending how a word is used - it happens all the time and is just part and parcel of the evolution of language).

However there is nothing profound about your question - at best it just exposes a shortcoming in how the word "colour" is currently used and defined which, since it developed before we knew about "atoms" (as the word is used today), is hardly surprising.

So I'm afraid the answer to your question is indeed "yes and no".

Melendwyr
29th March 2006, 05:17 AM
You may as well ask "what color is dye?"

A specific example of an amount of dye can be any color. 'Dye' as a concept has no ties to any specific color.

Duh.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 05:36 AM
You may as well ask "what color is dye?"

A specific example of an amount of dye can be any color. 'Dye' as a concept has no ties to any specific color.

Duh.

I'm not sure you understand the context of the question. Have you read the opening post?

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 05:47 AM
You are using a word that we have invented to describe certain "events" in the world around us and trying to extend the usage of that word to something it was not originally intended to cope with. (Not that there is anything wrong with extending how a word is used - it happens all the time and is just part and parcel of the evolution of language).

However there is nothing profound about your question - at best it just exposes a shortcoming in how the word "colour" is currently used and defined which, since it developed before we knew about "atoms" (as the word is used today), is hardly surprising.

So I'm afraid the answer to your question is indeed "yes and no".

Since when were colours "events"? I can't discern any meaning in this claim. Colours are properties of objects or properties of experiences or properties of sensations/sense data. Either way, they are properties rather than events.

The reason you are being forced to answer "yes and no" is because you have conflated the lifeworld with the mathematisation. In the lifeworld, atoms are coloured. In the mathematisation, atoms cannot possibly be coloured because you cannot mathematise colour. In my account, there is no contradiction. In yours, there is a blatant contradiction and rather than seeking to eliminate it you are just claiming it is not a problem. Having self-contradictory beliefs is a problem.

"Are atoms coloured?" is an entirely valid question. It forces you to decide what you mean by the word "atom". You can't decide, so you have given both answers at the same time. If you don't think that is a problem, there's not much more for me to discuss with you. I suspect some readers of this thread will detect a problem here, even if you can't see it.

Could you please go back to the original argument, and tell me at which point you do not follow it.

Most of the people responding to me in this thread have not done this. You are all just skipping to the end, finding something you don't agree with and offering some or other attempt at a respecification of the problem according to your own belief system. I need you to actually follow the description of the historical process which occured since this is the essential difference between Husserl's attempt to solve this problem and the contemporary attempts to solve the problem. If you are going to disagree with Husserl, you must specify at which point in his historical account you don't follow his argument. You can't just disagree with his conclusion and fail to address his argument.

Geoff

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 05:54 AM
I vote we continue this conversation for 18 more days before we bother to define color. Also, someone please page Ian.

Geoff: Could you define color before you ask the apparently poignant question "What colour are atoms?"

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 05:55 AM
"Are atoms coloured?" is an entirely valid question. It forces you to decide what you mean by the word "atom".
Screw atom. Define color.

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 06:07 AM
If you are going to disagree with Husserl, you must specify at which point in his historical account you don't follow his argument. You can't just disagree with his conclusion and fail to address his argument.

The mathematisation of the sphere looks like a sphere.
No it doesn't.

How are you going to mathematise felt temperature? You can specify the temperature of your nerve cells in degrees celsius, but this isn't even as useful as the wavelength, because a specific temperate in degrees celsius doesn't always feel the same - it depends on whether your hand is warming up, cooling down or staying the same.
Yup, this is a complex problem. Don't know how to solve it. However, I would not take this complexity as an indication of any deep metaphysical problem.

So this mathematisation of the lifeworld can never be complete and the mathematisation simply is not the lifeworld.
How does the first claim follow? I agree with the second claim.

However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld to be identical.
Is this a convoluted way of saying that materialists consider the physical world to be all there is?

But what are "atoms"? The word "atom" refers to an object in the mathematisation.
Atoms are objects in the lifeworld. Where was Husserl sleeping?

Do you see the problem? At what point does it stop being the mathematisation and start being the lifeworld? Is it a continuum? It surely is not. Is there a sudden transition? No. Therefore we have a problem, it's a logical problem and it's a serious problem.
Nope, don't see the problem. The way we verify a scientific hypothesis is to come up with empirical evidence that supports it. So in that sense, all scientific theories are in the lifeworld, because they are supported by evidence from the lifeworld. In fact, hypotheses without any empirical backing are in danger of being considered pseudoscience.

Perhaps it concerns him that the mathematics does not "look like" the lifeworld things it models. But that's true of all mathematics. 1 + 1 = 2 doesn't look like what happens when I drop two pennies in a pile, which in turn does not look like what happens when I put two horses in a corral.

But it is exactly this mistake which leads to the apparently unresolvable problems of metaphysics, and the only way to get beyond those problems is to go back to thinking of the lifeworld as the lifeworld and the mathematisation as the mathematisation.
Which problems of metaphysics?

What we call "idealism" is a dialectical reaction to this mistake which simply provides a mirror image of the mistake.
The man's a genius!

~~ Paul

Darat
29th March 2006, 06:17 AM
Since when were colours "events"? I can't discern any meaning in this claim.

Sorry from this post (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=1534109#post1534109) I thought you described phenonema like colour "events". Call it a property or somethign then.

Colours are properties of objects or properties of experiences or properties of sensations/sense data. Either way, they are properties rather than events.

I slightly disagree with how you define the property of an object - I would say that colour is a word we use to communicate between ourselves certain observations we make of the world.

The reason you are being forced to answer "yes and no" is because you have conflated the lifeworld with the mathematisation.

No I'm not it is because sometimes to communicate to someone else it is useful to say that a particular group of atoms has the "property" that we label as a certain "colour" and at other times it is useful to say they have no colour. It is right for me to say that a lump of carbon atoms "has" the colour black and it is also right for me to say that a lump of carbon atoms "has" no colour (i.e. coal and diamond). Both descriptions are describing "properties" of atoms so as I said the only answer to "Are atoms coloured?" (in the language you asked it) is "yes and no".

In the lifeworld, atoms are coloured.

Let me challenge you with one back - what colour is a carbon atom or a silicon atom?

In the mathematisation, atoms cannot possibly be coloured because you cannot mathematise colour. In my account, there is no contradiction. In yours, there is a blatant contradiction and rather than seeking to eliminate it you are just claiming it is not a problem. Having self-contradictory beliefs is a problem.

Apart from the fact I have shown that my answer was not contradictory but correct, given the language it was asked in, you do realise all you are doing here is making an assertion? I.e. how do you know that reality (whatever "it" *is*) is not self-contradictory?

"Are atoms coloured?" is an entirely valid question. It forces you to decide what you mean by the word "atom". You can't decide, so you have given both answers at the same time.

...snip...

The world has left most if not all of these "metaphysical" speculation in the past - let me ask you a question - what colour is a "b quark"?

There is evidence of only one reality and we have developed many different ways of communicating about the many different aspects of it to one another - some of these forms of communication work better for communicating certain ideas etc. then others.

All you are talking about is how we use different languages (whether that be English, logic, maths and so on) to communicate about different things at different times and how sometimes we find one particular form of communication isn't very good at communicating something about reality.

Again there is absolutely nothing profound about this. Our languages or forms of communication have always tripped up us because of course our language is not what reality *is* merely the way we communicate with one another about whatever reality *is*.

Melendwyr
29th March 2006, 06:17 AM
I'm not sure you understand the context of the question. Have you read the opening post? Troll.

Troll!

TROLL!

Welcome to the TechnoIgnore.

LW
29th March 2006, 07:20 AM
Is this a convoluted way of saying that materialists consider the physical world to be all there is?

To me it sounds like a way of saying that materialists consider that the mathematical model that describes the laws of physics et cetera is the real world.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 08:06 AM
Troll.

Troll!

TROLL!
Not sure why you call Geoff a troll.

~~ Paul

hammegk
29th March 2006, 08:59 AM
Define color.

~~ Paul
That's one of those quales materialists don't think are "real". ;)

What's your current take on epiphenomena?

Geoff: Hi.
What are your thoughts on matter as the epiphenomena for an idealist?

Giz
29th March 2006, 09:26 AM
The lifeworld is not completely mathematisable anyway. In the lifeworld you are presented with, say, a green apple. Now, you can geometrically mathematise the rough sphere, but how on earth are you going to mathematise the green? You can't. Well, you can't do it directly. You can only do it indirectly by abstracting something from the mathematised model. You can mathematise green by specifying the wavelength of green light, but this is an entirely different process to the mathematisation of the sphere, as I hope everyone will agree.

Actually, I don't see a compelling reason why an abstract mathematical description of a shape is philosophically any different from an abstract mathematical description of a colour.

Both describe the results of our observations.

However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld to be identical.

This is where we lose you (IMHO). The closest anyone might get to agreeing with you is to say that the mathematical model could be used to predict the way we observe the "lifeworld" respond to various inputs.

i.e. we can see a "ball" in the "lifeworld" and pick it up and throw it. The mathematical model can then describe exactly the way the ball arcs and drops and bounces. But we are not claiming that the mathematical description is reality, it's just a description, an aid to predicting/recording our subjective experience in the "lifeworld".

Just as when Jane Austin writes about Eliza Bennett, we are reading a description... no one claims "these printed words are in some way the real eliza bennett".

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 10:04 AM
That's [color] one of those quales materialists don't think are "real".
The word can mean many things. If you don't define it in the context of the conversation, then the conversation is meaningless.

What's your current take on epiphenomena?
Unless the philosophy definition is wrong, it's a ridiculous concept.

This is where we lose you (IMHO). The closest anyone might get to agreeing with you is to say that the mathematical model could be used to predict the way we observe the "lifeworld" respond to various inputs.
Actually, I think Interesting Ian might agree with the statement that the mathematical description of the external world is the external world. I could be mistaken, though.

Just as when Jane Austin writes about Eliza Bennett, we are reading a description... no one claims "these printed words are in some way the real eliza bennett".
Well, except possibly for some really way-out Pomos.

~~ Paul

UserGoogol
29th March 2006, 10:05 AM
Hello UserGoogol

You are trying to map the lifeworld onto the post-mathematised post-cartesian vocabulary that is inextricable from the problem. The mathematisation is quite clearly and explitly a model, but you must resist the temptation to think of the lifeworld as a model. You only think it is a model because you are thinking in terms of modern day computationlist/representationalist theories of mind. This is in fact a paradigm example of the problem Husserl is talking about. Modern cognitive science is so entrenched in the problem that it has turned experiences themselves into a model - a model in "the mind" of human beings. But there is nothing in Husserl's argument or my description of them which implies that the lifeworld is a model. It is entirely understandable why you see the lifeworld in terms of "sensations" or "mental models". But when I see a red apple I do not see sensations of an apple or a mental model of an apple, anymore than when I draw a tree am I drawing a drawing of tree. What I see is an apple.

But the bifurcation of the world into mind and not-mind is not an artificial construct. It is a fully natural deduction from the fact that other minds exist. I see a red apple. But you may not. Through the use of hallucinogenic drugs, it is possible for people to have radically different experiences. To say that the "lifeworld" is all there is is to say that one person's experiences are of exactly the same truth value as any other person's experiences, (which is dumb) or to say that other people do not exist. (Which is less dumb, but somewhat intellectually unsatisfying.)

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 11:01 AM
Screw atom. Define color.

~~ Paul

Can we rewind to the start of the argument instead of jumping in at the end?

In the pre-Greek lifeworld: define colour. Easy. It's a property of objects in the lifeworld. Agreed? If so, then why isn't the definition of what "colour" means a problem if we rewind to the pre-Greek lifeworld, but it comes a problem afterwards?

Darat
29th March 2006, 11:05 AM
Can we rewind to the start of the argument instead of jumping in at the end?

In the pre-Greek lifeworld: define colour. Easy. It's a property of objects in the lifeworld. Agreed? If so, then why isn't the definition of what "colour" means a problem if we rewind to the pre-Greek lifeworld, but it comes a problem afterwards?

Using the above definition my answer of "yes and no" was 100% correct.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 11:18 AM
Paul

No it doesn't.

Sorry? You don't think a rough sphere roughly resembles a geometric sphere? It's not exactly the same - I already said that. But it sure as hell is similar. I don't understand how anyone can dispute that claim, especially if they give no reason why they are disputing it. :confused:

How are you going to mathematise felt temperature? You can specify the temperature of your nerve cells in degrees celsius, but this isn't even as useful as the wavelength, because a specific temperate in degrees celsius doesn't always feel the same - it depends on whether your hand is warming up, cooling down or staying the same.

Yup, this is a complex problem. Don't know how to solve it. However, I would not take this complexity as an indication of any deep metaphysical problem.

Look again, Paul. Is this really a problem of complexity? You've not provided an argument why this is so, you have just asserted it to be true - even though it is quite clearly false. You can directly mathematise 2- and 3-dimensional shapes from the lifeworld. Fact. You CANNOT directly mathematise colours or temperatures from the lifeworld because their mathematisations do not resemble the properties from the lifeworld being measured. Fact. It has got absolutely nothing to do with "complexity". That is a red herring. If you want to deny either of the above facts, and they are facts, then please provide an argument instead of just saying "I don't know, but it's not a problem."

So this mathematisation of the lifeworld can never be complete and the mathematisation simply is not the lifeworld.

How does the first claim follow? I agree with the second claim.

It follows for exactly the reasons I just explained. You can directly mathematise shapes. You cannot directly mathematise colours. What is difficult to understand about this?

However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld to be identical.

Is this a convoluted way of saying that materialists consider the physical world to be all there is?

NO. It is claiming nothing more than it claims: Modern materialism is a conflation of the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld.

But what are "atoms"? The word "atom" refers to an object in the mathematisation.

Atoms are objects in the lifeworld. Where was Husserl sleeping?

Are atoms mathematisable?
Are they fully mathemisable?

Consider the following:

P1) Atoms are objects in the lifeworld (Paul's claim).
P2) Objects in the lifeworld are coloured (unless they are transparent)
Con) Atoms are coloured

Consider the following:

P1) Atoms are fully mathematised objects (surely true.....)
P2) You cannot mathemise colours
Con) Atoms cannot be coloured.

Now......are atoms coloured? i.e. WHICH of the above two arguments do you accept and why.

Geoff

Do you see the problem? At what point does it stop being the mathematisation and start being the lifeworld? Is it a continuum? It surely is not. Is there a sudden transition? No. Therefore we have a problem, it's a logical problem and it's a serious problem.

Nope, don't see the problem. The way we verify a scientific hypothesis is to come up with empirical evidence that supports it. So in that sense, all scientific theories are in the lifeworld, because they are supported by evidence from the lifeworld. In fact, hypotheses without any empirical backing are in danger of being considered pseudoscience.

Perhaps it concerns him that the mathematics does not "look like" the lifeworld things it models. But that's true of all mathematics. 1 + 1 = 2 doesn't look like what happens when I drop two pennies in a pile, which in turn does not look like what happens when I put two horses in a corral.

But it is exactly this mistake which leads to the apparently unresolvable problems of metaphysics, and the only way to get beyond those problems is to go back to thinking of the lifeworld as the lifeworld and the mathematisation as the mathematisation.

Which problems of metaphysics?

What we call "idealism" is a dialectical reaction to this mistake which simply provides a mirror image of the mistake.

The man's a genius!

Darat
29th March 2006, 11:20 AM
Paul

Sorry? You don't think a rough sphere roughly resembles a geometric sphere? It's not exactly the same - I already said that. But it sure as hell is similar. I don't understand how anyone can dispute that claim, especially if they give no reason why they are disputing it. :confused:

...snip...

Because this is what a "mathematical sphere" "looks" like:

$(x-x_0)^2 + (y-y_0)^2 + (z-z_0)^2 = R^2$.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 11:29 AM
I slightly disagree with how you define the property of an object - I would say that colour is a word we use to communicate between ourselves certain observations we make of the world.

Of course "colour" is a word! When we are asking what "colour" means we are not asking you to define what a word is, we are asking you to define what it refers to. The question of what words are is another question entirely - are they signs? Are they symbols? Are they something else? Interesting...but nothing to do with this discussion.

No I'm not it is because sometimes to communicate to someone else it is useful to say that a particular group of atoms has the "property" that we label as a certain "colour" and at other times it is useful to say they have no colour. It is right for me to say that a lump of carbon atoms "has" the colour black and it is also right for me to say that a lump of carbon atoms "has" no colour (i.e. coal and diamond). Both descriptions are describing "properties" of atoms so as I said the only answer to "Are atoms coloured?" (in the language you asked it) is "yes and no".

You aren't answering the question here. When you say "lump of carbon atoms" what you mean is "a lump of coal in the lifeworld." Are asked you about the properties of atoms, not about the properties of objects in the lifeworld. If you want to claim that atoms are objects in the lifeworld then I can refer you to the post I just made to Paul, because that is what he claimed too.

Let me challenge you with one back - what colour is a carbon atom or a silicon atom?

No colour. Atoms aren't coloured. Reasoning as follows:

P1) "Atom" refers to fully mathematised objects in the mathematised objective description of reality.
P2) You cannot mathemise colours
Con) Atoms cannot be coloured.

Apart from the fact I have shown that my answer was not contradictory but correct, given the language it was asked in, you do realise all you are doing here is making an assertion? I.e. how do you know that reality (whatever "it" *is*) is not self-contradictory?

I don't, but if the law of non-contradiction does not hold then we might as well give up having philosophical arguments or doing scientific experiments. The law of non-contradiction is required to be true for either of these activities to be meaningful.

The world has left most if not all of these "metaphysical" speculation in the past - let me ask you a question - what colour is a "b quark"?

UNfortunately it has not. Every time somebody defends materialism they are bringing these questions into the present.

"B quarks" have no colour. Good example, actually - since nobody, including a micro-human, could ever witness a b-quark in his lifeworld.

All you are talking about is how we use different languages (whether that be English, logic, maths and so on) to communicate about different things at different times and how sometimes we find one particular form of communication isn't very good at communicating something about reality.

This is part of the situation, yes. Most philosophical problems are entrenched in language problems. However, that doesn't mean you can't analyse them and figure out how the problem arose.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 11:36 AM
Sorry? You don't think a rough sphere roughly resembles a geometric sphere? It's not exactly the same - I already said that. But it sure as hell is similar. I don't understand how anyone can dispute that claim, especially if they give no reason why they are disputing it.
Ah, it's not a question of whether the math for a sphere "resembles" a lifeworld sphere; clearly it does not. It must be a question of how closely the math model of a sphere "represents" the lifeworld sphere. Is that the issue?

Look again, Paul. Is this really a problem of complexity? You've not provided an argument why this is so, you have just asserted it to be true - even though it is quite clearly false. You can directly mathematise 2- and 3-dimensional shapes from the lifeworld. Fact. You CANNOT directly mathematise colours or temperatures from the lifeworld because their mathematisations do not resemble the properties from the lifeworld being measured. Fact. It has got absolutely nothing to do with "complexity". That is a red herring. If you want to deny either of the above facts, and they are facts, then please provide an argument instead of just saying "I don't know, but it's not a problem."
You're proclaiming facts and I'm the one not providing an argument?

Are you saying that the math model doesn't capture the essence of the experience of these things? If so, I don't see why the equation of a sphere does the job any better than the wavelength of light. If that's not what you're saying, then please explain.

It follows for exactly the reasons I just explained. You can directly mathematise shapes. You cannot directly mathematise colours. What is difficult to understand about this?
See my previous paragraph.

NO. It is claiming nothing more than it claims: Modern materialism is a conflation of the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld.
Sorry, I don't understand. While you're explaining, please mention why this is not true of idealism.

Are atoms mathematisable?
Are they fully mathemisable?
I do not know the state of the mathematical model of atoms. I believe that, with a single atom, the emitted light is identical to the absorbed light, so an atom is colorless.

~~ Paul

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 11:37 AM
What are your thoughts on matter as the epiphenomena for an idealist?

Hello hammegk. For some idealists, matter might just as well be defined as an epiphenomenon. This would be justifiable, especially if they believed in libertarian free will because they could claim that free will is the primary form of causality and that physical causality was secondary to this, or "illusory" - rather like normal epiphenomenalists think mental causality is illusory.

But I haven't heard any idealists describe themselves as epiphenomenalists with regards to matter.

Geoff

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 11:38 AM
P1) "Atom" refers to fully mathematised objects in the mathematised objective description of reality.
P2) You cannot mathemise colours
Con) Atoms cannot be coloured.
Why can't I model color mathematically?

This statement needs clarification:

You can mathematise green by specifying the wavelength of green light, but this is an entirely different process to the mathematisation of the sphere, as I hope everyone will agree. The mathematisation of the sphere looks like a sphere. The mathematisation of green doesn't look like anything.

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 11:40 AM
This would be justifiable, especially if they believed in libertarian free will ...
They may believe in it, but they don't seem to be able to define it.

~~ Paul

Darat
29th March 2006, 11:49 AM
Of course "colour" is a word! When we are asking what "colour" means we are not asking you to define what a word is, we are asking you to define what it refers to. The question of what words are is another question entirely - are they signs? Are they symbols? Are they something else? Interesting...but nothing to do with this discussion.

It is everything to do with this discussion - all you have done, so far, is to point out some limitations in two of the ways we communicate about the world. Nothing more.

You aren't answering the question here. When you say "lump of carbon atoms" what you mean is "a lump of coal in the lifeworld."

No what I mean is a lump of coal in the world, nothing more and nothing less.

Are asked you about the properties of atoms, not about the properties of objects in the lifeworld.

"Atoms" is just one of the words we use today to communicate to each other about the world. Atoms are as "real" as anything else we have cared to describe or label.

If you want to claim that atoms are objects in the lifeworld then I can refer you to the post I just made to Paul, because that is what he claimed too.

Atoms exist in exactly the same way as colour exists - descriptions of the world.

No colour. Atoms aren't coloured. Reasoning as follows:

P1) "Atom" refers to fully mathematised objects in the mathematised objective description of reality.

...snip...

Don't need to go any further since your starting premise is wrong. (See above.)

I don't, but if the law of non-contradiction does not hold then we might as well give up having philosophical arguments or doing scientific experiments. The law of non-contradiction is required to be true for either of these activities to be meaningful.

Well you did however I let that go. :) However I would disagree all it would mean our current understanding is wrong, which I am willing to bet a lot on is the case. After all I don't have any reason to believe that for some reason I live in the "golden moment" when humans have understood reality and when you consider all our other attempts (e.g. religion, philosophy and the like) have been proved inadequate I fully expect the same to be so of what we "know" today.

UNfortunately it has not. Every time somebody defends materialism they are bringing these questions into the present.

Jeff I belive I may have told you many years ago and quite a few times but I am not, as you define it, a "materialist". And I am not defneding materialism just shredding your arguments. :)

"B quarks" have no colour. Good example, actually - since nobody, including a micro-human, could ever witness a b-quark in his lifeworld.

Why not? - Just make the micro person even smaller.

This is part of the situation, yes. Most philosophical problems are entrenched in language problems. However, that doesn't mean you can't analyse them and figure out how the problem arose.

Yes but all you are doing at best is trying to untangle inherent flaws in a method of communication not dealing with anything profound and perhaps remind people that the map is not the territory.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 11:49 AM
Actually, I don't see a compelling reason why an abstract mathematical description of a shape is philosophically any different from an abstract mathematical description of a colour.

Both describe the results of our observations.

Sort of, but even if this is so, they describe those results in very different ways. The reason it is philosophically different is that an idealised sphere is spherical and a non-idealised sphere in the lifeworld is also spherical, even if only roughly, but that an idealised temperature has nothing in common with a felt temperature in the lifeworld. In the case of temperature the distinction is reinforced by the fact that no consistent mathematisation is possible: a single temperature feels different at different times. This is not true of a mathematised shape.

Geoff: "However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld to be identical."

This is where we lose you (IMHO). The closest anyone might get to agreeing with you is to say that the mathematical model could be used to predict the way we observe the "lifeworld" respond to various inputs.

So you agreed with everything up to that point? Great! :)

So you are saying that the mathematisation of nature is a tool used to predict the behaviour of the lifeworld?

i.e. we can see a "ball" in the "lifeworld" and pick it up and throw it. The mathematical model can then describe exactly the way the ball arcs and drops and bounces. But we are not claiming that the mathematical description is reality, it's just a description, an aid to predicting/recording our subjective experience in the "lifeworld".

Excellent! In which case things like "atoms" are elements in an abstract theoretical tool. That is exactly what Husserl wants to hear. What he doesn't want to hear is "The world [meaning lifeworld] is made of atoms".

NB: I should point out that Husserl uses the word "world" to refer to all sorts of things e.g. "the business world".

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 11:56 AM
But the bifurcation of the world into mind and not-mind is not an artificial construct. It is a fully natural deduction from the fact that other minds exist.

Read sections 7 and 8 (they are slightly too long for a cut and paste):

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/husserl/#7

I think you'll find your answer in there, if not please say so. These two sections deal directly with the issues you are talking about, which are indeed central to Husserls argument.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 11:57 AM
You know, this feels like a somewhat more convoluted version of the Knowledge Argument. Imagine Mary in a black and white room devoid of spherical objects. She learns all the knowledge there is about color and spheres, but never sees any color or any rendition of spherical objects.

Can she do better at imagining a sphere than she can at imagining red? Certainly. She could quite easily construct a sphere from popsicle sticks and paper once she understood the equation of the sphere. She could probably even picture one in her mind.

How about red? Well, that depends on why she can't see color. Any reason she can't mix up a batch of red dye? But let's say she can't, and she has to go outside to see color. Now she starts seeing red objects, adjusts her memories to accommodate color, and eventually sees red.

What do we learn from this? Is there some deep philosophical difference between sphericalness and color?

~~ Paul

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 11:59 AM
No what I mean is a lump of coal in the world, nothing more and nothing less.

This is why I keep asking you go back to the argument as presented. I don't know what you mean by "world". We haven't agreed on that. The reason I want you to think yourself back to the world before the invention of geometry is because there is no issue at that point. You can THEN say "a lump of coal in the world" and you MUST mean "the lifeworld" because that was the only thing they could have meant by "world". You may well mean something entirely different. I don't know.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 12:01 PM
Going to the pub. Back later.

UndercoverElephant
29th March 2006, 12:03 PM
her memories to accommodate color, and eventually sees red.

What do we learn from this? Is there some deep philosophical difference between sphericalness and color?

~~ Paul

Just noticed this....and you're bang on the money. This is an absolutely critical question and believe the answer is "yes, there is." Sphericalness is directly mathematisable. Colour is not. Why?

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 12:13 PM
I think you've got the cart before the horse. I think that fact that a sphere is more easily mathematizable is because it is inherently trivial, and it is this same triviality that allows Mary to picture one in the room. From the point of view of perception, it is trivial because we use our sense of touch to perceive it, and touch directly maps position in the world to position on a map in the brain. However, there are people with apperceptive visual agnosia who cannot picture shapes in their minds.

Color perception is much more complex. I don't even know how we represent color in the brain. It's apparently more indirect, and the levels of indirectness divorce our feelings of color from the underlying frequencies of light. But imagine we perceived color as a vibration or buzzing that was correlated with frequency. Then perhaps color perception would be seem no less mathematizable than shape perception is.

I think these questions are interesting, but I do not think they tell us much about metaphysics, as much as they do about neurophysiology.

~~ Paul

sir drinks-a-lot
29th March 2006, 12:19 PM
Redness is something that goes on in the human nervous system as a result of light of certain wavelengths hitting the human eye.

This can't be the whole picture. As was mentioned earlier, the brain can be stimulated to give the experience of red.

But even more interesting: Most people can imagine and percieve the color red without any sensory input. For example, I can visualize several different shades of red - fire engine red, burgundy wine red, apple red, etc...

Geoff, interesting but fast moving thread. So far, much of this reminds me of Eddinger's two tables. I am trying to catch up and contribute. On another topic, I've never been much of a fan of continental philosophy after being exposed to Derrida and Lacan. I'm trying to read being & Tim right now, but it doesn't strike me as being very rigorous. Is Husserl similar to these guys? I find your synopsis intelligible, which is more than I can say for Heidegger, Derrida and Lacan. Which Husserl are you getting this from?

GreedyAlgorithm
29th March 2006, 12:47 PM
Colour is a property of things in the lifeworld? This is something I disagree with *strongly*, if you mean what I think you mean.

I dream in colour. When I close my eyes tightly I can see blue spots. Maybe these are just memories of colour? If so, I think we may be entering the realm of "colour is whatever justifies my argument". Maybe not, but it's getting close. If not, then colour becomes an emergent effect of the brain. I'd vote for the emergent effect explanation since we think we see color in very dim light but it's well known that our cones fail to work far before our rods.

chriswl
29th March 2006, 01:54 PM
The first stage in the mathematisation of the lifeworld is the arrival of Greek geometry. Geometry does not describe the things we find in the lifeworld. Instead, it describe perfect versions of some aspects of those things. There are no perfect spheres or circles in the lifeworld. There are oranges, there are the moon and sun, but there are no absolutely perfect shapes like the ones we find in geometry. Husserl describes the entities of geometry as like "guiding poles" of perfection, which we might try to imitate in the lifeworld but which we can never actually attain.

...The mathematisation of the sphere looks like a sphere.

This is where you (or Husserl or both) go wrong. Nothing looks like an idealised ("mathematised") sphere. We don't have a "picture" of such a thing. Abstract entities like spheres don't exist in our "lifeworld" so we can never have the experience of seeing them. This is the supposed problem of induction - how does someone get the mathematical idea of a sphere from exposure to a succession of roughly spherical objects. It is thought to pose a problem because they are such totally different types of things.

It is a mistake to think we in some way hold up a mental image of an ideal sphere next to a real spherical object and use it as a 'guiding pole'. We don't have a mental image of an ideal sphere. When we try to visualise a mathematical sphere we can't help but imagine something that has colour (I have an image of a pencil drawing on a piece of squared paper, perhaps with a few lines and angles drawn on, or maybe a similar drawing in chalk on a blackboard). We can't literally visualise a "mathematised" sphere so it is nonsense to say that they "look" like lifeworld spheres.

It is no surprise that the "mathematised" abstraction of green light doesn't look like a green thing. It is more a description of how to scientifically detect green light, more of a procedure than a picture. But so is our mathematised sphere. It's really set of mathematical relations for recognising a sphere. In both cases that's the real nature of the connection between the objects in the two "worlds", not them "looking" similar. Ultimately, these abstractions are just dispositions to act in a certain way when presented with certain stimulus, just programs in our brains.

So the lifeworld and the mathematised world are not the same thing but only in the trivial sense that reality is not identical with our descriptions of it. As long as there is nothing in this "real" world that cannot have a corresponding thing in our descriptive world, then the distinction is an uninteresting one.

cyborg
29th March 2006, 02:06 PM
I still fail to understand how my brain's perception of the physical world is inherently more full than some mathematical description - that would seem to be the thrust of the argument.

You explain why my brain is so damn reliable at perceiving how reality actually is - any other dicussion becomes irrelevent until you can show that.

Sapien
29th March 2006, 02:30 PM
So this mathematisation of the lifeworld can never be complete and the mathematisation simply is not the lifeworld. However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the lifeworld and the mathematisation of the lifeworld to be identical. JREFers believe the world is made of atoms. Sure, it is also made of oranges and houses but those are made of atoms. But what are "atoms"? The word "atom" refers to an object in the mathematisation. The word "orange" refers to an object in the lifeworld. But oranges are made of atoms!!! Do you see the problem? At what point does it stop being the mathematisation and start being the lifeworld? Is it a continuum? It surely is not. Is there a sudden transition? No. Therefore we have a problem, it's a logical problem and it's a serious problem.

My 2 Sense:

I must be missing the Husserl gene. I am not confused by and do not have a problem with this but perhaps I just don't understand. It seems to me that we just expand our experience of the world in our struggle to understand the nature of things. Some of that striving is mathematical and has lead us to cool things like the monitors on which we read this thread. Humans have discovered principles that in practice improve the depth of our experience. Math has become part of the lifeworld. While numbers may be abstractions, the principles of their application create remarkable emergent properties in the lifeworld like the cars we drive and the ability to send probes to orbit distant bodies.

Abstractions are real things. They are no less real than a green apple. The question of the dividing line between mathematised world and the life world seems like asking what the dividing line is between justice and paperclips. Both are real things but we could mathematise or fractalise for the next million years and I doubt we would find a dividing line.

We are aware of apples. We are aware of the Pythagorean theorem. While our understanding of apples and/or right triangles may be incomplete, one is not less real than the other.

The difference between the mathematisation of an entity and our lifeworld experience of that entity seems not to be a problem of any more consequence than the dividing line between justice and paperclips.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
29th March 2006, 02:30 PM
I dream in colour. When I close my eyes tightly I can see blue spots. Maybe these are just memories of colour? If so, I think we may be entering the realm of "colour is whatever justifies my argument". Maybe not, but it's getting close. If not, then colour becomes an emergent effect of the brain. I'd vote for the emergent effect explanation since we think we see color in very dim light but it's well known that our cones fail to work far before our rods.
This is why we have to define the word color. It is the wavelength of light emitted from or reflected off an object. It is also my perception of color.

1 a : a phenomenon of light (as red, brown, pink, or gray) or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects b : the aspect of objects and light sources that may be described in terms of hue, lightness, and saturation for objects and hue, brightness, and saturation for light sources c : a hue as contrasted with black, white, or gray

We can't literally visualise a "mathematised" sphere so it is nonsense to say that they "look" like lifeworld spheres.
I think an argument can be made that I could describe a sphere to a blind person (who has never felt one, either) and help them visualize it, whereas I almost certainly cannot do that with the color red. However, as I said above, I think this is simply a result of how shapes and colors are processed in the brain. The roles could be reversed in a creature with different perceptual systems, as appears to be the case with certain kinds of brain damage.

~~ Paul

29th March 2006, 03:32 PM
Thanks, Geoff. I think I'm seeing what you mean, and reading the responses, I'm seeing some of the problem. One quick comment for the moment.

There's your problem: we can't figure out where "redness" is. It's not a problem before the mathematisation - the redness of the apple is on the surface of the apple and that is all there is to it. It is only when you bifurcate the world into a material realm and mental realm that you end up with the hopeless problem of trying to specify to which realm redness belongs.

Yes. I see. However, I might have a different take on the problem. I would say that indeed we cannot figure out where the redness is, and any attempt to do so is bound to failure. Husserl, based on your summaries, has one approach to the problem. By rewinding to the point before the problem happened, he is basically saying that we can't solve it. Inventing the term "lifeworld" to solve it is all well and good, but does it really solve anything? Or does it just recognize the problem?

But I definitely see what you mean about the defenders of materialism. Even in some of the responses in this thread, it seems we have people steadfastly defending it, and not recognizing the problem with the defense.

Interesting thread. Frankly, more interesting than I thought it would be when I read the opening post.

29th March 2006, 03:34 PM
but now we know that the mind is matter.

You apparently know a great deal more than many, including me.

29th March 2006, 03:52 PM
A color of an object is an interpretation of the wavelengths of visible light reflected by the object, that have entered our eye, and travelled the neural pathways to our brain. If a given atom reflects some wavelength of visible light it will have an interpretable color.

cyborg
29th March 2006, 03:58 PM
But I definitely see what you mean about the defenders of materialism. Even in some of the responses in this thread, it seems we have people steadfastly defending it, and not recognizing the problem with the defense.

Again, could someone plase explain why the model I have in my head of this 'lifeworld' is any more reliable?

It's stupid to say materialism has a problem because it can't model 'lifeworld' with certainty when the only place this supposed 'lifeworld' takes on any concreteness is within the model of it in my head.

Or to put it another way; why is the argument against the mathematical models and not the models we carry arround in our heads? As has been pointed out unless one is proposing some mind divorced from the physical brain it's simply an irrelevant argument.

What, we can't ever be perfectly certain about reality? No shizer sherlock.

Dogdoctor
29th March 2006, 04:00 PM
A thought is merely a chemical reaction in your brain. Eventually the chemical nature of every thought will be known.

LotusMegami
29th March 2006, 04:32 PM
I still don't get the idea of "lifeworld." So words used to communicate are imperfect, and our perception of the world is not the world.

No $hi+ What do you suggest? That we give up all models and live like primitives? It would have to be very primitive indeed. Words are symbols, after all. We might be able to speak without realizing that words are not the things they represent, but writing, or painting, or doing math without realizing that we use models to understand the world. UndercoverElephant 29th March 2006, 05:01 PM Is Husserl similar to these guys? Heidegger was a follower of Husserl. UndercoverElephant 29th March 2006, 05:18 PM I still fail to understand how my brain's perception of the physical world is inherently more full than some mathematical description - that would seem to be the thrust of the argument. You can experience green. You can't mathematise green. You explain why my brain is so damn reliable at perceiving how reality actually is - any other dicussion becomes irrelevent until you can show that. It's not. It's tuned to economy, not reliability. Sometimes it makes mistakes, because it can't possibly process all the information. It has to take short cuts. Usually they work. Sometimes they don't. Especially when people try to fool it. Go here and view the basketball video. [COUNT THE NUMBER OF PASSES. WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO IS COUNT THE NUMBER OF PASSSES. HOW MANY PASSES?]: http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/media/ig.html Giz 29th March 2006, 05:19 PM So you are saying that the mathematisation of nature is a tool used to predict the behaviour of the lifeworld? Mathematical descriptions are tools to describe the world, just as eyes are. Why do you perceive unaided vision as superior? Either may be more useful in any given situation. Excellent! In which case things like "atoms" are elements in an abstract theoretical tool. That is exactly what Husserl wants to hear. What he doesn't want to hear is "The world [meaning lifeworld] is made of atoms". Well, our best explanation of the world is that matter is made out of elements. We call the smallest amount of an element you can get an "atom". Given our present knowledge they exist. Just as, given I can see my glass of orange juice sitting on my desk, my glass of OJ exists. When Husserl tries to draw unecessary distinctions between aided and unaided ways of viewing/describing the world he just seems to be getting his continental knickers in a twist. You have to assume materialism is wrong before you can think that he may even have a point. Dark Jaguar 29th March 2006, 05:25 PM This all seems rather silly. Atoms aren't just mathematical constructs because we can directly observe them. I understand that you consider our direct perceptions to be the actual life world and there's this other imaginary world of math or something, but the fact is, those mathematical models are part of our perceptions too. We can in fact experience the atom by combining a large amount of our experiences and coming up with an explanation that doesn't contradict any of it. Simple. These explanations, once we get them into our heads, BECOME our experience to an extent. You seperate red from red. There's the actual color red as we define it, and then there's the floaty hippie based "experience of seeing red". How is that mathematized? Here's an idea, programatically! Break down our experience into a complicated computer program, and the experience of being red can be assigned a variable with a value range, perhaps in hexidecimal or something, and this can be compaired and contrasted, and here's the kicker, directly input into another's brain to reproduce the experience. How would we "know" the experience is identical? We'd have a pretty good level of certainty, but science isn't really about offering absolute knowledge. You have a method of obtaining it, and I'll listen. Our lifeworld exprience leads to the conclusion that the life world experience can be mathematized and explained as a simple physical process. cyborg 29th March 2006, 05:43 PM You can experience green. You can't mathematise green. The mathematical model can describe the energy of things I experience as green. What's your problem with that precisely? Two models that can map onto each other. I can't experience x^2 + y = z. I can mathematise it. Stupid argument for suggesting that 'lifeworld' fundamentally fails to caputre 'mathworld' right? It's not. Good. It's tuned to economy, not reliability. Okay. Sometimes it makes mistakes, because it can't possibly process all the information. It has to take short cuts. Usually they work. Sometimes they don't. Especially when people try to fool it. And what about the fundamental limitations of what it can perceive? If your problem with maths is that it can't model certain things (which is by assertion rather than being true since you won't accept the perfectly valid models presented for your rather silly green crap) then what exactly makes you think the brain is fundamentally better in this regard? Meadmaker 29th March 2006, 05:54 PM Again, could someone plase explain why the model I have in my head of this 'lifeworld' is any more reliable?[QUOTE] I'm having a bit of trouble with this "lifeworld" thing, but it seems to me that it is not. Correct me if I'm wrong, Geoff, but the "lifeworld" is just the real world, wherever it happens to be. [QUOTE] It's stupid to say materialism has a problem because it can't model 'lifeworld' with certainty when the only place this supposed 'lifeworld' takes on any concreteness is within the model of it in my head. Or to put it another way; why is the argument against the mathematical models and not the models we carry arround in our heads? As has been pointed out unless one is proposing some mind divorced from the physical brain But a lot of people do propose just that. While we may object to that, we can't be taken seriously if we insist that this is obviously the case. It can't be proven. cyborg 29th March 2006, 06:01 PM But a lot of people do propose just that. While we may object to that, we can't be taken seriously if we insist that this is obviously the case. It can't be proven. I don't care if people with stupid ideas don't take us seriously because they're insisting something exists without any good reason other than they like the idea. Questioning that kind of crap is kinda what skeptics are about. Show me the mind is something non-physical then get up my ass about 'lifeworld' - otherwise shut-the-hell-up. hammegk 29th March 2006, 06:16 PM This all seems rather silly. Atoms aren't just mathematical constructs because we can directly observe them. I understand that you consider our direct perceptions to be the actual life world and there's this other imaginary world of math or something, but the fact is, those mathematical models are part of our perceptions too. We can in fact experience the atom by combining a large amount of our experiences and coming up with an explanation that doesn't contradict any of it. Simple. These explanations, once we get them into our heads, BECOME our experience to an extent. You seperate red from red. There's the actual color red as we define it, and then there's the floaty hippie based "experience of seeing red". How is that mathematized? Here's an idea, programatically! Break down our experience into a complicated computer program, and the experience of being red can be assigned a variable with a value range, perhaps in hexidecimal or something, and this can be compaired and contrasted, and here's the kicker, directly input into another's brain to reproduce the experience. How would we "know" the experience is identical? We'd have a pretty good level of certainty, but science isn't really about offering absolute knowledge. You have a method of obtaining it, and I'll listen. All good, and the robot/computer program could either beam the correct wavelength for green at a human, or point to green in an exhibit. Our lifeworld exprience leads to the conclusion that the life world experience can be mathematized and explained as a simple physical process. Now if you could justify that "mathematization" is "a simple physical process" we'd be done. However, without consciousness, mathematization is impossible. Show me the mind is something non-physical then get up my ass about 'lifeworld' - otherwise shut-the-hell-up. As a start, have you considered how many unprovable assumptions your ready acceptance of existents being "physical" rely on? Kevin_Lowe 29th March 2006, 06:35 PM What are you talking about, Kevin? In what sense was that paragraph "content free"? "Content-free" is when you get a rant or a flame or a total failure to say anything at all. The paragraph you are refering to contained a whole load of content. Why have you nothing to say about it? Do you agree with it? Do you disagree with it? Why? There are no claims there about the actual argument, just a Just So story to explain where this supposed problem supposedly came from. You have done what Dr Inadequate did. You aren't actually responding to the argument supplied. You are just offering your own opinion, which is not directly concerned with anything I wrote. Please go back to the opening post and tell me where I lose you. Please explain at which point you do not agree with the historical explanation of the process. I need to know that you have actually followed the line of reasoning and that you can tell me at precisely which point you do not agree with it. It is no use just skipping to the end or going off in some other direction that happened to take your fancy and declaring that there is "no problem." That's not how it works, JustGeoff. If your argument falls apart at any point then the whole thing is a write-off until you can fix that particular point. "Explanations" of how the "problem" arose must wait until after it has been established that there is in fact a problem here. You claim that the problem, or an instance of the problem, or proof of the problem's existence (any of the three will do) is that we cannot mathematise red. Well, sorry, but there is no reason to believe that to be the case. I'm sure we'll mathematise that just fine somewhere down the road, unless an asteroid or stupidity gets us first. There is no metaphysical problem there. Most of the rest of your post is equally irrelevant to the argument supplied, and therefore of interest whatsoever. I notice that this allows you to avoid defending the charge that you/Husserl have snuck naive Cartesian dualism in as an undeclared axiom. I think that really is the root of the problem. Without appeals to the unmathematiseable spookiness of the mind you don't appear to have an argument, and the mind is only unmathematiseable and spooky if you have decided in advance that some kind of idealism or dualism is true. No, Kevin. The reason we cannot directly mathematise the experience of red or of felt warmth is not because we are suffering from a temporary ignorance of how to do it. We already know it is quite impossible to directly mathematise these things. Go back to my opening post, follow the argument, and tell me what you don't understand. I smell a bit of sneakiness here. Could you define what you take Husserl to mean by "directly mathematise" as opposed to "mathematise"? If to mathematise means to exhaustively describe in terms of entities like atoms, which really exist but which are generally approached mathematically, then of course we can mathematise redness. We know redness is something that goes on in human minds, which are made up entirely of atoms, and it's just a matter of nutting out the details as to what excatly is going on. So one of two things is going on. What I think is going on is that Husserl's argument is junk. You could say that it relies on Cartesian dualism as an undeclared, false premise. Alternatively you could characterise it as an attack on a straw-man version of materialism which claims that the map is the territory. Either way it's eminently ignorable. The other possibility is that something very clever lurks in the new phrase you use here, "directly mathematise", and it will save the whole edifice. I'm skeptical but I am willing to hear you out. Meadmaker 29th March 2006, 06:48 PM Questioning that kind of crap is kinda what skeptics are about. Questioning such "crap" is indeed what skeptics are all about. Accepting it, or its opposite, without question is not what skeptics are all about. Dark Jaguar 29th March 2006, 07:17 PM All good, and the robot/computer program could either beam the correct wavelength for green at a human, or point to green in an exhibit. Ahaha! Once again, the obvious strikes me directly in my personal experience :D. How do we know the experience of red is the same between people? Well, the first step is confirming that the brain is responsible for our experience, and that the brain's changes can be directly related to different experiences. The second step is verifying that the way our brains operate is very similar in a lot of important ways between different people. Those two things nailed, you can be reasonably sure that the experience of green is identical between people, so if you want to transfer the knowledge of that experience someone has of seeing green, show someone else green. Better yet, tell them to imagine the color green, if they have seen it, and they can recreate it right there using the power of imagination! I learned about that in Sesame Street! I think the OP should watch that show some time. It teaches some interesting philosophical concepts, apparently! cyborg 29th March 2006, 07:30 PM As a start, have you considered how many unprovable assumptions your ready acceptance of existents being "physical" rely on? Not a good argument for adding any more. You lose. cyborg 29th March 2006, 07:33 PM Questioning such "crap" is indeed what skeptics are all about. Accepting it, or its opposite, without question is not what skeptics are all about. This could get way off topic but I fail to see why I need to question what I consider a wholely reasonable assumption that there's nothing in reality that isn't physical and since my mind is part of reality it is also physical. I don't need to question it because no-one has given me any good reason to question it. I'm not going to spend my life meta-skepticising the crap out of everything. Arkan_Wolfshade 29th March 2006, 08:56 PM Ahaha! Once again, the obvious strikes me directly in my personal experience :D. How do we know the experience of red is the same between people? Well, the first step is confirming that the brain is responsible for our experience, and that the brain's changes can be directly related to different experiences. The second step is verifying that the way our brains operate is very similar in a lot of important ways between different people. Those two things nailed, you can be reasonably sure that the experience of green is identical between people, so if you want to transfer the knowledge of that experience someone has of seeing green, show someone else green. Better yet, tell them to imagine the color green, if they have seen it, and they can recreate it right there using the power of imagination! I learned about that in Sesame Street! I think the OP should watch that show some time. It teaches some interesting philosophical concepts, apparently! And we're actually well on our way to doing this with the brainmapping neurosciences are doing. They show that similar emotions, cognitive functions, etc light up the same areas in different subjects. Dark Jaguar 29th March 2006, 09:36 PM And we're actually well on our way to doing this with the brainmapping neurosciences are doing. They show that similar emotions, cognitive functions, etc light up the same areas in different subjects. Science sure is neat! I actually had that in mind when I said it. Arkan_Wolfshade 29th March 2006, 09:41 PM Science sure is neat! I actually had that in mind when I said it. What is of particular interest to me is when one of those areas are damaged, in some cases other areas can pick up the workload. LotusMegami 29th March 2006, 10:45 PM Ok, so "lifeworld" is what we perceive inside our heads. Which includes mathelatical models. Because those have meaning only inside a human mind. So "lifeworld" includes models and sensations. Everything we think. This is why I don't trust people who make up words. I still have no idea what the point of this thread is. Darat 29th March 2006, 10:48 PM This is why I keep asking you go back to the argument as presented. I don't know what you mean by "world". "World" = reality, reality = whatever it *is* that reality *is*. We haven't agreed on that. The reason I want you to think yourself back to the world before the invention of geometry is because there is no issue at that point. Humans have been communicating about the world for as long as we know about (see cave paintings for the oldest surviving evidence of this). Geometry was and is just another one of those modes of communication - nothing more and nothing less. (And as a note we know humans were using geometry (or what we would today recognise as geometry) in 1000 BCE in India - the Greeks were rather latecomers to the ideas... ;) ) You can THEN say "a lump of coal in the world" and you MUST mean "the lifeworld" because that was the only thing they could have meant by "world". You may well mean something entirely different. I don't know. As I have said repeatedly the only evidence we have is that there is just the world (reality call it what you will) and that we have come up with many different ways of communicating to each other about this world. All your argument is about is that some forms of communications can't communicate certain aspects of the world as well (or at all) as other forms can. That is hardly profound - humans knew that long before "the Greeks" - and actually is not telling us anything significant about the world around us 0 apart from "the map is not the territory" and this applies equally to all the concepts we use to communicate e.g. spheres, colour, atoms, love and so on. Darat 29th March 2006, 11:20 PM "mathmatised" sphere (LW's post (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=1535266#post1535266)):$(x-x_0)^2 + (y-y_0)^2 + (z-z_0)^2 = R^2$. Doesn't much "look" like any sphere I've ever seen! "mathmatised" colour (my attempt at a LaTex forumula so it may be wrong but you get the idea): \lambda f = c Doesn't much "look" like any colour I've ever seen! So there we have it - spheres "mathmatised" in all their glory and colours "mathmatised" in all their glory, trvial. LotusMegami 30th March 2006, 01:17 AM What is the damn point already!!! So what? My perceptions are not the things being perceived. No duh. Why is this important? Kevin_Lowe 30th March 2006, 01:44 AM That's a question a lot of people ask when confronted with the luminaries of Continental philosophy. Assuming they can understand the luminary in the first place, of course. That's not a given, even amongst the people who claim that these luminaries have great and important ideas. Jekyll 30th March 2006, 03:43 AM "mathmatised" sphere (LW's post (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=1535266#post1535266)):$(x-x_0)^2 + (y-y_0)^2 + (z-z_0)^2 = R^2$. Doesn't much "look" like any sphere I've ever seen! "mathmatised" colour (my attempt at a LaTex forumula so it may be wrong but you get the idea): \lambda f = c Shouldn't colour,as a quale, be a mapping from a subset of frequencies of EM waves to the human equivalent of RGB? Darat 30th March 2006, 03:57 AM Only if you define it that way. And if you use that as part of your definition for "mathmatised colour" then you also need to add it to the "mathmatised sphere" example i.e. a sphere as a quale, is a mapping from ....... to the human equivalent of a sphere. There is no difference in kind in how we describe our "experience of" a sphere and we describe our "experience of" a colour - they are both equally "real" or "unreal". UndercoverElephant 30th March 2006, 04:23 AM Paul, Ah, it's not a question of whether the math for a sphere "resembles" a lifeworld sphere; clearly it does not. It must be a question of how closely the math model of a sphere "represents" the lifeworld sphere. Is that the issue? When Greek geometry first defined a perfect sphere, an ontologically novel sort of entity came into existence -an idealised perfect sphere. In other words a perfect sphere could be imagined. That imagined perfect sphere resembles the rough spheres that exist in the lifeworld. Are you saying that the math model doesn't capture the essence of the experience of these things? If so, I don't see why the equation of a sphere does the job any better than the wavelength of light. If that's not what you're saying, then please explain. A perfect sphere can be imagined, and resembles a life-world sphere. No amount of imagining of wavelengths can resemble green. No amount of imagining of thermometer readings can resemble the feeling of warmth. Sorry, I don't understand. While you're explaining, please mention why this is not true of idealism. Q1) Why is materialism a conflation of the model and the lifeworld? Q2) Why isn't idealism also a conflation of the model and lifeworld? A1) Because materialism claims that the lifeworld is literally composed of the entities whose primary means of existence is the mathematised models. i.e. "The world is made of atoms." A2) Idealism doesn't claim that the lifeworld is literally composed of these entiries. It is an explicit denial of this claim. Instead, it claims the lifeworld is made of "mental things". i.e. "The world is made of ideas." This is not a conflation of the model and the lifeworld. However, the whole concept of "mental things" only makes sense if you've already got the concept of material things described in A1. It is a reaction to A1, rather than being entirely independent of it. Husserl wants to reject both answers. He wants to "get back to the things themselves" (NOT things-in-themselves). He wants to stop people even asking "What is the lifeworld made of" because of all the time wasted already trying and failing to answer that question. He wants to be able to analyse the lifeworld without carrying around the metaphysical baggage of materialism and idealism. Any clearer? :) Geoff Darat 30th March 2006, 04:32 AM ...snip... When Greek geometry first defined a perfect sphere, an ontologically novel sort of entity came into existence -an idealised perfect sphere. In other words a perfect sphere could be imagined. ...snip... Absolute rubbish Geoff! :) We can't "imagine" a perfect sphere anymore then we can imagine a "perfect being". Let me again post what this idea of a "perfect sphere" actually *is* :$(x-x_0)^2 + (y-y_0)^2 + (z-z_0)^2 = R^2$. Now tell me how you "imagine" this equation to "look"? A perfect sphere can be imagined, and resembles a life-world sphere. No amount of imagining of wavelengths can resemble green. ...snip... Again please explain how you imagine this$(x-x_0)^2 + (y-y_0)^2 + (z-z_0)^2 = R^2$. "sphere" to "look"? Until you can show your starting premise is correct it's rather futile to discuss the rest of your argument. After all if the starting premise is wrong then the argument even if coherent is rather irrelevant. cyborg 30th March 2006, 04:32 AM A perfect sphere can be imagined, and resembles a life-world sphere. No amount of imagining of wavelengths can resemble green. No amount of imagining of thermometer readings can resemble the feeling of warmth. So in other words you lack imagination. Paul C. Anagnostopoulos 30th March 2006, 04:52 AM When Greek geometry first defined a perfect sphere, an ontologically novel sort of entity came into existence -an idealised perfect sphere. In other words a perfect sphere could be imagined. That imagined perfect sphere resembles the rough spheres that exist in the lifeworld. A perfect sphere can be imagined, and resembles a life-world sphere. No amount of imagining of wavelengths can resemble green. No amount of imagining of thermometer readings can resemble the feeling of warmth. Why is this metaphysically interesting? It's a result of the way the brain represents 3-dimensional objects vs. the way it represents color. If the brain represented color by some sort of vibration or a tapping feeling or something like that, then I could imagine "perfect green." A1) Because materialism claims that the lifeworld is literally composed of the entities whose primary means of existence is the mathematised models. i.e. "The world is made of atoms." What does it mean for something's primary means of existence to be math models? And no matter how many times you deny it, atoms are real things. Husserl wants to reject both answers. He wants to "get back to the things themselves" (NOT things-in-themselves). He wants to stop people even asking "What is the lifeworld made of" because of all the time wasted already trying and failing to answer that question. I agree completely with this, assuming that we mean the same thing when we say "made of." However, is that what he really wants, or does he want us to stop building math models of the lifeworld? ~~ Paul UndercoverElephant 30th March 2006, 04:52 AM Why can't I model color mathematically? You can. You just can't do it directly. You have to use some sort of measuring instrument in order to produce a number such as a wavelength. This statement needs clarification: You can mathematise green by specifying the wavelength of green light, but this is an entirely different process to the mathematisation of the sphere, as I hope everyone will agree. The mathematisation of the sphere looks like a sphere. The mathematisation of green doesn't look like anything. When you mathematise a shapes it is a direct process. The idealised shapes and the lifeworld shapes resemble each other - they have similar qualities[i/] i.e. "sphericalness". If you want to mathematise colour or temperature the only way you can do it is to turn the lifeworld quality into a number on a measuring device like a thermometer. But the resulting "mathematised temperature" does not resemble the occurence of warmth in the lifeworld - they have [i]dissimilar qualities. At the risk of causing more confusion (because it resorts to the language of dualism), you can describe it in terms of primary and secondary qualities: primary qualities like shapes resemble their causes in the physical world. Your sense impressions of square things are square because the object you are sensing is square. Secondary qualities like colours do not resemble their causes in the physical world, because their causes are "nothing but powers to create greenness in us". In other words, the cause of greenness is not that the object in the physical world is literally green, but because of some accident of the way the particles on its surface are arranged, and the way this is interpreted by our nervous system. So primary qualities can be exported intact into the physical world but secondary qualities cannot. Now - I don't want to get into an argument about primary and secondary qualities, I am just trying to explain why the mathematisation of colour is difference to the mathematisation of shape. Meadmaker 30th March 2006, 05:01 AM This could get way off topic but I fail to see why I need to question what I consider a wholely reasonable assumption that there's nothing in reality that isn't physical and since my mind is part of reality it is also physical. You don't need to do so. Unless you want to call yourself a skeptic. UndercoverElephant 30th March 2006, 05:01 AM I think you've got the cart before the horse. I think that fact that a sphere is more easily mathematizable is because it is inherently trivial, and it is this same triviality that allows Mary to picture one in the room. From the point of view of perception, it is trivial because we use our sense of touch to perceive it, and touch directly maps position in the world to position on a map in the brain. It's trivial even if we percieve it visually. Color perception is much more complex. I don't even know how we represent color in the brain. It's apparently more indirect, and the levels of indirectness divorce our feelings of color from the underlying frequencies of light. So mathematising shapes is trivial, but as soon as you try to mathematise colour you run into all sorts of fundamental problems. It has to be indirect. And as soon as you say "don't even know how we represent color in the brain" we are confused about what we mean by colour, and "where" colour is, or what we mean by "represent." It's as clear as mud, basically. But imagine we perceived color as a vibration or buzzing that was correlated with frequency. Then perhaps color perception would be seem no less mathematizable than shape perception is. We don't have to imagine this. We can discuss hearing instead. How does one mathematise sounds? Again, you have to turn it into a frequency. But do frequencies resemble the sounds we hear in the lifeworld? Not like shapes do, no. cyborg 30th March 2006, 05:03 AM You can. You just can't do it directly. You have to use some sort of measuring instrument in order to produce a number such as a wavelength. I'd have to use a ruler to model a sphere. When you mathematise a shapes it is a direct process. Crap. Mathematical representations of shapes DO NOT follow obviously from our perceptions of them. Do you actually KNOW any maths? The idealised shapes and the lifeworld shapes resemble each other - they have similar qualities[i/] i.e. "sphericalness". If you want to mathematise colour or temperature the only way you can do it is to turn the lifeworld quality into a number on a measuring device like a thermometer. Crap, crap, crap, CRAP. If I want to turn a shape into a mathematical representation that also requires a measuring device. But the resulting "mathematised temperature" does not resemble the occurence of warmth in the lifeworld - they have [i]dissimilar qualities. Yes, and y = x^2 doesn't resemble the perception I have of the shape of a satellite dish in the real world. Your sense impressions of square things are square because the object you are sensing is square. Secondary qualities like colours do not resemble their causes in the physical world, because their causes are "nothing but powers to create greenness in us". In other words, the cause of greenness is not that the object in the physical world is literally green, but because of some accident of the way the particles on its surface are arranged, and the way this is interpreted by our nervous system. That also applies to how we perceive shapes. Ugh. You are most tedious in your inability to see this. So primary qualities can be exported intact into the physical world but secondary qualities cannot. Now - I don't want to get into an argument about primary and secondary qualities, Too bad because your distinctions are crap and this is entirely what the argument rests on - that is some fundamental inability for mathematics to model some qualia of 'lifeworld' that our brains somehow fundamentally does better. UndercoverElephant 30th March 2006, 05:04 AM Mathematical descriptions are tools to describe the world, just as eyes are. Why do you perceive unaided vision as superior? Either may be more useful in any given situation. I never said they were "superior". I said they were different. Darat 30th March 2006, 05:04 AM ...snip.. When you mathematise a shapes it is a direct process. The idealised shapes and the lifeworld shapes resemble each other - they have [i]similar qualities[i/] i.e. "sphericalness". ...snip.. This is a "picture" of the mathmatised sphere:$(x-x_0)^2 + (y-y_0)^2 + (z-z_0)^2 = R^2\$.

This is a picture a "lifeworld" sphere:

http://www.fotosearch.com/comp/DGV/DGV022/1491011.jpg

Can you explain to me the points of similarity?

UndercoverElephant
30th March 2006, 05:08 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, Geoff, but the "lifeworld" is just the real world, wherever it happens to be.

Yes. The lifeworld is just the world, prior to any metaphysical commitments. That differs from the world as concieved in an implicit framework of materialism (or idealism, or dualism).

It is actually a richer concept than this:

http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1539

cyborg
30th March 2006, 05:09 AM
You don't need to do so.

Unless you want to call yourself a skeptic.

Sorry. I capitulate to you, arbiter of all who may be bestowed with the title 'Skeptic'.

Or in other words; I don't really give a crap.

Give me a reason to question the assumption or don't and shut-up. I'm not going to spend time qualifying arguments on every possibility that may be possible because I would like to finish posts before I die.

UndercoverElephant
30th March 2006, 05:13 AM
Ok, so "lifeworld" is what we perceive inside our heads.

Which includes mathelatical models.

Because those have meaning only inside a human mind.

So "lifeworld" includes models and sensations. Everything we think. This is why I don't trust people who make up words.

I still have no idea what the point of this thread is.

:D

No, "lifeworld" isn't "what goes on in our heads". That statement is loaded with metaphysical baggage.

Here is a good, short description of Husserl's "Lebenswelt":

http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1539

UndercoverElephant
30th March 2006, 05:19 AM
This is a "picture" of the mathmatised sphere:

This is a picture a "lifeworld" sphere:

Can you explain to me the points of similarity?

The first picture wasn't a picture of a mathematised sphere. It was a picture of the mathematical symbols which describe an ideal sphere.

You can't provide a picture of a perfect sphere, partly because perfect spheres do not occur in the lifeworld, and partly because any picture of a sphere is actually a circle, not a sphere. You can only imagine perfect spheres and you can only experience imperfect spheres in 3 dimensions.

I need a break from this, I can't keep up with all the replies! I'll be back later.

cyborg
30th March 2006, 05:27 AM
The first picture wasn't a picture of a mathematised sphere. It was a picture of the mathematical symbols which describe an ideal sphere.

That's why it was in quotes...

You can't provide a picture of a perfect sphere, partly because perfect spheres do not occur in the lifeworld, and partly because any picture of a sphere is actually a circle, not a sphere.

No shizer sherlock. That's why he said it was a picture, not the actual object.

You can only imagine perfect spheres and you can only experience imperfect spheres in 3 dimensions.

And neither the imagination of the sphere nor the experience of the sphere can be any more easily related to the mathematical model than any other perception a person has of anything. Unless you're telling us that if we gave you a random mathematical forumla you'd be able to instantly visualise a representation in your head. I know I can't do that.

LW
30th March 2006, 05:33 AM
The first picture wasn't a picture of a mathematised sphere. It was a picture of the mathematical symbols which describe an ideal sphere.

But that is what mathematics is. It is a set of rules to manipulate symbols (at least after you leave the realm of simple addition preformed of small quantities of real objects).

hammegk
30th March 2006, 06:22 AM
Not a good argument for adding any more.
Nor did I make that argument. Try identifying the assumptions you already accept as truth.

You lose.
Or not. ;)

cyborg
30th March 2006, 06:30 AM
Nor did I make that argument.

Try identifying the assumptions you already accept as truth.

Nothing that isn't physical exists. That's about as basic as it gets. I see no reason to add, "the mind is a non-physical thing that exists separately from the physical brain".

Or not. ;)

No, you lose.

Darat
30th March 2006, 06:43 AM
The first picture wasn't a picture of a mathematised sphere. It was a picture of the mathematical symbols which describe an ideal sphere.

Then can you please describe a "mathematised sphere" here.

You can't provide a picture of a perfect sphere, partly because perfect spheres do not occur in the lifeworld,

Can you actually prove that or is it an assumption?

and partly because any picture of a sphere is actually a circle, not a sphere.

You are wrong many pictures of spheres will not be circles.

You can only imagine perfect spheres and you can only experience imperfect spheres in 3 dimensions.

...snip...

Lets start from basics what do you mean by "imagine a prefect sphere".

UndercoverElephant
30th March 2006, 07:39 AM
This thread is getting bogged down and drifting off course.

Maybe someone-else's interpretation of Husserl may help to put it back on course. The quote contains two subquotes from Husserl himself. The whole article is about how Goethe relates to Husserl, and is also worth reading for some context, which is important with Husserl.

Husserl’s challenge to the Galilean/Cartesian application of mathematics to all areas of life comes out of an in depth study of mathematics and its philosophical history. Galileo, looking through his telescope, recognized that the movement of the planets could be represented by mathematical symbols. Descartes elaborated this idea by defining that all things are “res extensa,” things of extension, which can be described mathematically. The idealized plane of geometry with its pure forms is extended to include the sensory world we experience, and the results are exciting and lead to great progress in the natural sciences and technology. But they are also devastating. Descartes’ scientia mirabilis, his miraculous mathematical science, opens up wonder-ful avenues for scientific exploration and technological invention; but large areas of scientific inquiry are excluded because they cannot be captured by mathematics. In Galileo we see already how the mathematically structured world of idealities is pushed upon us as the real and is substituted for our lived world. The mathematical “garb of symbols” (CES 51), which is only a method, is taken for true being. While he is thinking through the Cartesian/Galilean worldview we can almost see Husserl do a double take as he catches sight of the strangeness of this perspective:

"Everything which manifests itself as real through the specific sense qualities must have its mathematical index in events belonging to the sphere of shapes … and that there must arise from this the possibility of an indirect mathematization …, that is it must be possible to construct ex datis, and thus to determine objectively, all events in the sphere of the plena. The whole of infinite nature, taken as a concrete universe of causality—for this was inherent in that strange conception—became the object of a peculiarly applied mathematics" (CES 37)

Geometry, which is the paradigm for Husserl’s critique of the mathematical attitude, must deduct all individual features from an observation, so that in the end we describe it through mathematical symbols: a room is no longer my office cluttered with the books, pictures, papers, and artifacts of my life, but a cube 8x12x10 in dimension, the same as all the other cubes down the hallway. Geometry captures the quantitative aspect of a space, but the qualitative element cannot be expressed in mathematical symbols. Goethe recognized this, as well:

"The mathematician relies on the quantitative and everything that can be determined through number and measure, which capture the outwardly recognizable universe. But if we observe the universe with our whole being and with all our faculties (if that is possible to us), we recognize that quantity and quality are the two poles of existence as it comes to appearance. This is what goads the mathematician into pushing his symbolic language higher and higher to try to grasp through measure and number the immeasurable world. Now everything appears to him reachable, graspable, and mechanical…"

(SB 143-44).

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
30th March 2006, 07:52 AM
We don't have to imagine this. We can discuss hearing instead. How does one mathematise sounds? Again, you have to turn it into a frequency. But do frequencies resemble the sounds we hear in the lifeworld? Not like shapes do, no.
But much closer than color does. Ever listen to an 8 Hz waveform? Sounds like a waveform.

The above quote does not help. "The mathematical “garb of symbols” (CES 51), which is only a method, is taken for true being." Anyone taking symbols for true being?

~~ Paul

cyborg
30th March 2006, 07:58 AM
but large areas of scientific inquiry are excluded because they cannot be captured by mathematic

Except we're saying that's crap.

But if we observe the universe with our whole being and with all our faculties (if that is possible to us), we recognize that quantity and quality are the two poles of existence as it comes to appearance.

Right, we experience qualatative things, but we can express those qualatative experiences quantatively.

QED: we can map our qualatative experiences of shapes, colours, sounds, tastes, smells, emotions, thoughts etc... onto quantatitive descriptions of the physical properties that lead to these qualatative experiences.

We'd only be unable to do that if certain qualatative things were not tied into physical nature somehow, i.e. non-physical things were responsible.

I don't see any reason for that to be the case.

hammegk
30th March 2006, 08:00 AM
I agree that we failed to communicate. My comment was directed at the circularity inherent in your acceptance of physical existents being used to "prove" the existence of physical existents.

No, you lose.
What did I lose?

cyborg
30th March 2006, 08:07 AM
I agree that we failed to communicate. My comment was directed at the circularity inherent in your acceptance of physical existents being used to "prove" the existence of physical existents.

I wasn't trying to prove the existence of physical existents - I am trying to point out that there is nothing invalid about the mappng of the mind model to the mathematical model simply because some people have difficultly with certain aspects of mathematical models they consider don't capture certain 'lifeworld' aspects. Even though there's nothing that shows the supposed shape models are inherently able to capture these things whilst other models of other perceptions don't.

What did I lose?

You. Just. Lose.

Ugh.

30th March 2006, 09:07 AM
Yes. The lifeworld is just the world, prior to any metaphysical commitments. That differs from the world as concieved in an implicit framework of materialism (or idealism, or dualism).

It is actually a richer concept than this:

http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1539

I read a couple of the quotes. I had obviously missed a major part of the point earlier. I haven't studied the philosophy of mind to any great extent, and this is interesting, but fairly new to me.

Let's see if an illustration gets me a bit closer.

I have a CD with Ravel's "Bolero" on it. That CD is encoded with lots of bits of digital data, which if used to produce electrical signals that are then used to vibrate little bits of plastic will cause me to hear the sounds that I recognize as "Bolero".

So, what is "Bolero", and where can I find it?

Also, for me, the sounds of "Bolero" are inextricably linked to the 1984 Olympic games. The creators of the CD probably didn't know that, but, for me, "Bolero" is Torvill and Dean. (For others, it's Bo Derek.)

You could say that Bolero is just the bits on the CD, or the mathematical representation of those bits, but that would not give a description of Bolero. It would ignore the sensations and memories that are all part of what Bolero is. You could say that Bolero is a mental state in my head that gets triggered by eardrum vibrations. I suppose that would be somewhat more difficult to deny, but that would ignore the reality of the CD which was used to set the chain of events in place that resulted in my experience of Bolero.

Or, you could just say that it is what it is, and recognize that if you overanalyze it, and insist it's nothing more than frequencies, you'll miss something important.

I'll have to think about whether I agree this really has implications for materialism, or whether it's an important concept. However, reading the replies in this thread, it's obvious that people's lives would be enriched by learning to separate the phenomena from their representations.

hammegk
30th March 2006, 09:07 AM
I wasn't trying to prove the existence of physical existents-
Okay. Then a question for you; "Do they?". If yes, how do you know? THAT is one essence of this thread.

I prefer the choice of 'mind ... let's say ~(Matter/Energy)' as the existent; the physical world we perceive being the epiphenomena.

And I choose to believe I haven't lost anything.... :)

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
30th March 2006, 09:37 AM
At this point Husserl hopes that people can now begin the process of unravelling the mysterious mess we have got ourselves into. Somebody in the other thread said "So what? Why does this matter?" It matters because people (and at the time Husserl was writing it seemed like pretty much everyone) are not aware of this conflation of the lifeworld and the model of the lifeworld. It goes by unnoticed. But it is exactly this mistake which leads to the apparently unresolvable problems of metaphysics, and the only way to get beyond those problems is to go back to thinking of the lifeworld as the lifeworld and the mathematisation as the mathematisation.
How is this going to help us resolve these problems of metaphysics? What problems, and why do they appear unsolvable because of mathematization?

In other words, what's the problem, mon?

~~ Paul

Sapien
30th March 2006, 12:03 PM
From the Department of What it's worth:

Respectfully:

It sounds like Husserl's was trying to create a "Science of Spirit" that would have equal stature with the natural sciences. I suspect this is the "unresolvable metaphysical problem". Perhaps he needed to find the line between the "world" of science that includes mathematics and the "lifeworld" of Geisteswissenschaft before he could develop a credible foundational discipline for the "spirit" domain. I think such a pursuit in earnest might lead one to find problems that aren't really there.

Just curious, what sort of methodology in a "Science of Spirit" void of mathematics would satisfy the readers of this thread? Would pursuing such a thing warrant a great deal of your time?

I am not allowed to include hyperlinks in my posts yet but for reference, try looking up Husserl in Wikipedia.

Dark Jaguar
30th March 2006, 02:09 PM
You can. You just can't do it directly. You have to use some sort of measuring instrument in order to produce a number such as a wavelength.

When you mathematise a shapes it is a direct process. The idealised shapes and the lifeworld shapes resemble each other - they have similar qualities[i/] i.e. "sphericalness". If you want to mathematise colour or temperature the only way you can do it is to turn the lifeworld quality into a number on a measuring device like a thermometer. But the resulting "mathematised temperature" does not resemble the occurence of warmth in the lifeworld - they have [I]dissimilar qualities. At the risk of causing more confusion (because it resorts to the language of dualism), you can describe it in terms of primary and secondary qualities: primary qualities like shapes resemble their causes in the physical world. Your sense impressions of square things are square because the object you are sensing is square. Secondary qualities like colours do not resemble their causes in the physical world, because their causes are "nothing but powers to create greenness in us". In other words, the cause of greenness is not that the object in the physical world is literally green, but because of some accident of the way the particles on its surface are arranged, and the way this is interpreted by our nervous system. So primary qualities can be exported intact into the physical world but secondary qualities cannot. Now - I don't want to get into an argument about primary and secondary qualities, I am just trying to explain why the mathematisation of colour is difference to the mathematisation of shape.

But I CAN imagine "perfect green" as a model just as well as you are describing one imagining a perfect sphere. I'm doing it right now, a perfectly green perfect sphere on perfect black, without shaders or reflections or bump mapping or any such thing being applied. I have an idea of darker green and lighter green, and I have basically defined which one I think most resembles "greenness". Further, I can assign number values to all the colors I picture in my mind and scale through them. The issue is my mind isn't very fast, or even very accurate. I can verify this by comparing memories and noting inconsistencies between them and with observations I am making in real time. On the other hand, if I use a computer or even a piece of paper, I can get much greater consistency and therefor, I trust a mathematical model to more accurately describe the color experience than even my direct experience. Want to imagine a temp and give it a number? Do it. What is "perfect luke warm" to you? Assign it a number now, and adjust accordingly. Your brain may produce inconsistencies though, so maybe you should stop using your imagination at that point and stick with a calculator.

chriswl
30th March 2006, 02:28 PM
This thread is getting bogged down and drifting off course.

Maybe someone-else's interpretation of Husserl may help to put it back on course.
That was much clearer. The writer doesn't make your irrelevant (and in my opinion definitely wrong) claim that we can directly visualise geometrical abstractions, which is what derailed the thread. In fact Husserl's position seems to be the opposite - these mathematical abstractions are pale shadows of the lived world that we really percieve and he was alarmed at the way he thought people somehow contrived to confuse them.

However, this is still old, outdated stuff. Husserl still has Descartes concept of our first person conscious experience as something that we fully know and as the only truly reliable starting point for philosophy. But modern neuroscience and psychology has shaken us out of this certainty. There is no single place in the brain which is the sink for all sensory inputs and the source for all sensory outputs, and thus no clear points at which perceiving becomes thinking becomes acting. We aren't totally authoritative about what things we are conscious of ("Conscious experience is gappy and sparse and doesn't contain half the things people thing is there" -- Dennett). We can be wrong about the order of a sequence of events. People, with damage to very specific areas of the brain appear to experience the world in ways that are literally inconceivable to us, but they are still conscious. The literature of psychology is full of these sort of examples.

I know what you are going to say - I am retreating to scientific descriptions while Husserl was after something more fundamental, but the reason we doubt our authority with regard to our own conscious experience is not because of a pre-existing commitment to certain scientific theories. Scientific experiments happen prior to the construction of abstract models and represent phenomenological data that must have an explanation in Husserl's philosophy. He can't explain these experiments for the understandable reason that they didn't exist in the 1920's.

The early twentieth century was full of great philosphers and I admire many of them e.g. I love reading Sartre and I'm fascinated by Wittgenstein's ideas. But they were just doomed to be wrong about certain things. I suppose materialism is no more certain, it's just my arbitrary starting point. But you have to have a starting point. Show me that it doesn't work and I'll consider abandoning it.

Kevin_Lowe
30th March 2006, 02:50 PM
This thread is getting bogged down and drifting off course.

Maybe someone-else's interpretation of Husserl may help to put it back on course. The quote contains two subquotes from Husserl himself. The whole article is about how Goethe relates to Husserl, and is also worth reading for some context, which is important with Husserl.

Funny, the postmodernists do exactly this. When pressured to explain exactly what their point is, they tell you to read their stuff again until you "get it". Then when pressured further by people who obviously do understand the content and disagree with the conclusions, they post additional reams of Continental ramblings and then claim that you can't understand it without reading lots and lots more of it. No, they can't explain it either. You have to read it yourself.

This passage indulges in precisely the same error that has been pointed out from the beginning. If anybody ever confused the mathematical models of science with reality they were silly, but it was not and is not a popular view. It's tilting at a windmill. This "metaphysical crisis" doesn't exist.

Sapien
30th March 2006, 04:24 PM
This "metaphysical crisis" doesn't exist.

I agree. Well said Mr. Lowe. A lot of this thread seems like nothing more than semantic minutia.

hammegk
30th March 2006, 04:30 PM
However, this is still old, outdated stuff. Husserl still has Descartes concept of our first person conscious experience as something that we fully know and as the only truly reliable starting point for philosophy. But modern neuroscience and psychology has shaken us out of this certainty. Are you certain? ;)

I suppose materialism is no more certain, it's just my arbitrary starting point. But you have to have a starting point. Show me that it doesn't work and I'll consider abandoning it.
Now you aren't. :confused:

Who is in charge of "showing you it doesn't work"? You are required to demonstrate that it does work. By-the-bye, materialism works completely and logically; at least, assume it True at the outset, and you can then "prove" materialism is Truth. You just need to work out for yourself what a 100% materialist must have 100% faith in. Then you can convince everyone else YOU have The Answer (if they agree their 100% faiths and yours are the same). :)

I have one 100% certainty; Thought Exists. I choose to reject the idea I am The Solipsist, and choose to believe that a *you*, as well as an *i*, also Think.

Jekyll
31st March 2006, 05:08 AM
Only if you define it that way.

And if you use that as part of your definition for "mathmatised colour" then you also need to add it to the "mathmatised sphere" example i.e. a sphere as a quale, is a mapping from ....... to the human equivalent of a sphere.

In theory yes, in practice no.
Our knowledge of shape and space comes from several different sources, from vision, from touch, and from kinematic awareness. Added to this we need a good quantitative measure of shape and space in our heads in order to navigate in the real world.

On the other hand our experience of colour is significantly more inaccurate and if you just link frequency and colour directly together you're left having to explain why a mixture of red and green light is the same colour as yellow light and why violet looks like a redish blue.

Jekyll
31st March 2006, 05:11 AM
I have to say I'm somewhat confused.

This life world malarky ~ Is it meant to be the underlying reality or just the principle model in our heads for what's going on?

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
31st March 2006, 05:41 AM
This life world malarky ~ Is it meant to be the underlying reality or just the principle model in our heads for what's going on?
I don't get it either. Apparently, if we stop mathematizing the hell out of everything and just go back to experiencing the lifeworld, that is going to lead to some metaphysical breakthrough. But how are we going to know if that breakthrough is a real discovery or just the latest moody philosophy fad du jour? Seems we'd have to use logic and/or empirical observations to find out, but then we're right back to that pesky mathematization.

~~ Paul

UndercoverElephant
31st March 2006, 12:26 PM
How is this going to help us resolve these problems of metaphysics? What problems, and why do they appear unsolvable because of mathematization?

In other words, what's the problem, mon?

~~ Paul

Paul,

I'm surprised you have to ask. :D

So - if you accept Husserl's account of the rise of physicalist objectivism and you have the intellectual integrity to admit the obvious fact that his account of the subjectivist response to this claim is also correct (nobody has anything else to suggest....) then you have to accept that Husserl's historical account is correct. So I ask you the same question: What's the problem.....?

UndercoverElephant
31st March 2006, 12:33 PM
From the Department of What it's worth:

Respectfully:

It sounds like Husserl's was trying to create a "Science of Spirit" that would have equal stature with the natural sciences.

He was certainly trying to find something to fill a hole he saw in the sciences of his day. He was trying to produce a reliable way to analyse "pure lived experiences." Some might argue that certain critical advances in science since then have lessened the size of the hole, like QM and chaos theory.

Just curious, what sort of methodology in a "Science of Spirit" void of mathematics would satisfy the readers of this thread? Would pursuing such a thing warrant a great deal of your time?

Such a discipline already exists. It's called phenomenology. Whether or not you call it a science depends on your definition of science, and that's another can of worms so I'm not going to go there.

http://www.phenomenologyonline.com/inquiry/9.html

Methodology

There are two methodological impulses in phenomenological inquiry and writing: the reductio (the reduction) and the vocatio (the vocative dimension).

The method of phenomenology is radical reflection. The reflective method is supposed to emulate lived experience and this requires several forms of the first aspect of phenomenological methodology, the reductio: The bracketing or suspension of our everday "natural attitude".

This emulation occurs linguistically thorugh writing in the context of the second aspect of phenomenological methodology, the vocatio. The intent of writing is to produce textual portrayals that resonate the kinds of meanings that we seem to recognize in prereflective experience. The vocative dimension expresses this concern with language.

Solitaire
31st March 2006, 12:43 PM
This is an offshoot from another thread. I am going to try to explain what Edmund Husserl said and why he said it. He decided that it was impossible to get people to understand the metaphysical nightmare that philosophy was stuck in (and which the debates on this board are still stuck in) unless they retraced the stages of the development of thought that led to the current impasse.

Why do philosophers have metaphysical nightmares about impasses anyway?

Hint: We're not the ones stuck in it. I know you don't know that yet. :D

Before the Greeks there was no science, no systematic philosophy and no geometry. When people spoke and thought about "the world" they simply referred to the world in which they lived. The world of trees and houses and people. Husserl asks you to reserve judgement at this time about what you think this world is "made of." There is just this world in which we live and Husserl refers to it as "the life-world."

How could there be houses if there were no geometry, no philosophy, and no science?

You need a rudimentary understanding of geometry if you want a house with a regular useful space, not a random jumble of logs and boulders.You need a rudimentary understanding of science in order to build the house if you want the house to stay together, otherwise you'll build endless piles of rubble. You need a rudimentary understanding of philosophy for the reasons you want a house, till then you'll spend your time running from the rain by standing under a tree. And the word "systematic" doesn't help much with your argument.

For me the world "world" simply refers to the world that I live in - no separation.

The first stage in mathematization of the life-world is the arrival of Greek geometry. Geometry does not describe the things we find in the life world. Instead, it describes perfect versions of some aspect of those things. There are no perfect spheres or circles in the life-word. There are oranges, there are the moon and the sun, but there are no absolutely perfect shapes like the ones we find in geometry. Husserl describes the entities of geometry as like "guiding poles" of perfection, which we might try to imitate in the life-world but which we can never actually attain.

How could he say that no perfect circles, shapes, or spheres exist in the world without judging?

In my world circles and spheres exist happily within my imagination. I can manipulate them in my imaginary world just as I can manipulate hoops and balls in the real world. But you see here, I have, alas, made a judgement, I've decided to split my world into two parts - a real world and an imaginary world. Not a good move. But it looks like he did the same. Let's undo the error.

If I exist in the life-world and my imagination is a part of me and my imagination contains circles and spheres then my imagination exists in the life-world and the life-world contains circles and spheres, QED.

So the situation remained until Galileo comes along and has the bring idea of extending this mathematization project to the whole of nature, whereby he might better transcend the confines of the subjectively experienced life-world and come to "better understand the mind of God." It is important to note that Galileo, at the time, still thought of the world as the life-world. The mathematization was deliberate ploy to better understand the way it worked, but it was never deliberately intended for the understanding of what "world" meant to shift from the life-world to the mathematization of that world.

Notice the strangeness of this paragraph.

What did Galileo do? He observed the world around him, examining the motion of objects closely. After thinking about the matter a while, he made a mathematical model of motion in the real world. But did he stop there? No. He tested the model's predictions in a series of experiments against the behavior of objects in the real world. Since then the basic enterprise has changed little. We come up with models and we test the predictions against the real world with the model that best fits the results of experiments being declared the winner.

What is the source of this peculiar strangeness? That word mathematization bugs me.

The life-world is not completely mathematizable anyway. In the life-world you are presented with, say, a green apple. Now, you can geometrically mathematize the rough sphere, but how on earth are you going to mathematize the green? You can't. Well, you can't do it directly. You can only do it indirectly by abstracting something from the mathematized model. You can mathematize green by specifying the wavelength of green light, but this is an entirely different process to the mathematization of the sphere, as I hope everyone will agree. The mathematization of a sphere looks like a sphere. The mathematization of green doesn't look like anything. It's just a number. Take another example. How are you going to mathematize felt temperature? You can specify the temperature of your nerve cells in degrees celsius, but this isn't even as useful as the wavelength, because a specific temperature in degrees celsius doesn't always feel the same - it depends on whether your hand is warming up, cooling down, or staying the same.

Yuck! I cannot follow the apple example at all - too wormy.

With a camera, one can digitize the green of the apple, then take the numbers put it into another device and reproduce the green color. One could memorize colors, associate them with numbers, then when given the number conjure up that color in the imagination. You use the word "mathematize" where I use the word "model."

In the second example, have you ever heard the words, "Wind Chill Factor" or "Heat Index?" It possible to convert perceive temperature into a number. Even subjective pain can be measured. Hospitals have charts with numbers next to a series of faces going from happy to very sad. Keep in mind the word subjective refers to the person in the reality - no separation.

So this mathematization of the life-world can never be complete and the mathematization simply is not the life-world. However, the position of modern science which is defended by the people on this board considers the life-world and the mathematization of the life-world to be identical. JREFers believe the world is made of atoms. Sure, it is also made of oranges and houses but those are mode of atoms. But what are "atoms?" The word "atom" refers to an object in the mathematization. The word "orange" refers to an object in the life-world. But oranges are made of atoms!!! Do you see the problem? At what point does it stop being the mathematization and start being the life-world? Is it a continuum? It surely is not. Is there a sudden transition? No. Therefore we have a problem, it's a logical problem and it's a serious problem.

How do you know the world cannot be mathematized completely?

When I talk about an atom I talk about a real object in the real world, just like when I talk about orange I talk about a real object in the the real world. An individual oranges I can pick up with my hand and play with. An individual atoms I cannot pick up with my hand - my fingers are just too big. But I can still play with atoms. I throw a photon of light at it. The atom catches the photon and a while later it throws it back. We can play this game of tossing the photon for days on end until the atom gets bored and drifts away.

Your confusing the model of the thing with the thing-in-itself. Suppose I propose that given a certain deep sea environment ought to contain a bacteria evolved for that particular environment - say converts sulphur from rotting vegetable matter and un-oxidize iron in the water. I go there, sample the water, find the bacteria. I prove my simplified evolutionary model true. You say they don't exist because I found discovered them by using a model. But I can put them into a microscope and show them to you.

At this point Husserl hopes that people can now begin the process of unravelling the mysterious mess we have got ourselves into. Somebody in the other thread said, "So what? Why does this matter?" It matters because people (and at this time Husserl was writing it seemed like pretty much everyone)are not aware of this conflation of the life-world and the model of the life-world. It goes by unnoticed. But it is exactly this mistake which leads to apparently unresolvable problems in metaphysics, and the only way to get beyond those problems is to go back to thinking of the life-world as the life-world and the mathematization as mathematization. That's why it matters. What we call "materialism" is the result of getting the life-world mixed up with the mathematization and failing to recognize that this has happened. What we call "idealism" is a dialectical reaction to this mistake which simply provides a mirror image of the mistake. Husserl therefor ends up being neither a materialist nor an idealist, regardless of the fact that he is accused of being an idealist.

What the problems in metaphysics?

I still don't feel I have enough information, but it looks like Husserl has rediscovered the wheel yet again. We already know about this and don't make the error. And the life-world is the world of science.

The un-resolvable problems of metaphysics which we are usually struggling with basically started with a bunch of arguments about three metaphysical positions: cartesian dualism, materialism, and idealism. Descartes and Galileo were contemporaries, so the mathematization project of Galileo and the metaphysical project of Descartes were practically simultaneous. What makes the current situation un-resolvable is the impossibility of getting rid of one half of Descartes dualism without doing violence to the other half. It's also really quite difficult to think and talk without unwittingly falling back into the same mistake over and over again.

Why the un-resolvable problem of my word processor not finding the word "un-resolvable?"

Anyway, Descartes claimed that the world consisted of two substances: the matter that composes our bodies and a spirit separate from matter that nonetheless manipulates matter. Once he did that the monstrous questions of how a physical process can manipulate a nonphysical mind and how a nonphysical mind can manipulate a physical process. But this is not a problem of materialism because materialism does not posit a separation at all. It's a problem for dualism.

The mathematized model isn't real. It is an idealized abstraction, in exactly the same way as the perfect shapes of geometry are idealized abstractions. Within the life-world, as it was implicitly understood Within the life-world, as it was implicitly understood before the mathematization, all sorts of things exist which transcend the supposed distinction between mind and matter. The red apple is a classic example. The apple seems to be clearly material. Yet even though the redness occurs on the surface of the apple, it seems to be mental - at least it is very hard to figure out how it could be material. You say you can't see why this leads to confusion? We can't figure out where "redness" is. It's not a problem before the mathematization - the redness of the apple is on the surface of the apple and that is all there is to it. It is only when you bifurcate the world into a material realm and a mental realm that you end up with the hopeless problem of trying to specify to which realm redness belongs.

I think your rediscovering the wheel. The fact that I see redness on an apple though doesn't invalidate the existence of atoms on the surface of the apple scattering "red" photons to my eyes, those photons entering my eyes and activating pigments in my eye cells, the pigments saturating setting of a cascade electrical pulse towards my brain, and my neurons in the brain receiving the pulses as my perception of the "redness" of the apple. I say the "redness" is with the apple, the perception of the "redness" is within my brain. See?

The reason Husserl's concept can get us past the problems of metaphysics is that it tires to get us to see that there is no way forwards out of the problem. As soon as the mathematization has been confused with the life-world you end up with a implicit claim of materialism. As soon as this claim is made, somebody will come along and give you a dualistic or idealistic response which is very had to rebut because all it does it point out the stark staring obvious fact that we really do have subjective experiences and they really do contain un-mathematizable components like the experience of seeing red or feeling warm. We have taken a wrong turn, and are stuck in a blind alley. There is no way forward out of the blind alley. We can't fix materialism and we can't fix dualism or idealism either. So we must reverse to the point of the (unacknowledged) wrong turn. We must go back and grab a concept which existed implicitly before the mathematization and bifurcation, but which had no name other than "world." "World" is now a really difficult problem, because we can't agree what "world" is actually made of. So Husserl invents the term "life-world" and insists that we suspend judgement about what it is "made of" (he calls this an "epoch" or "bracketing of the question of existence"). In doing so we are not so much solving the problems of metaphysics than rewinding to a position before they occur- which is the only genuine way to escape them. As long as people continue to defend materialism, they are perpetuating the confusion unwittingly created by Descartes and Galileo. The key to understanding this, IMO, is fully taking on board the fact that materialism, as it is generally propounded at the moment, is not conceptually independent of dualism. The life-world, by contrast, is independent of dualism and the mathematization, because it predates both.

But this is exactly what science studies, reality or the life-world. The subjective experiences we have exist in this world, and because they exist in this world we can experiment with them. Suppose I remove or stop the neurons in the back of my head responsible for the perception of "red." Guess what happens to the "redness" of the apple. Suppose I put new cells in my eyes that have pigments for the ultraviolet or infrared range with new pathways into my brain for new neurons that handle the sensation. I'll see "ultraviolet" or "infrared" colors in objects just as well as you see the colors "red," "blue," and "green." Modern science doesn't posit a dualistic world, therefore it doesn't suffer from a metaphysical problems. I think the word "materialism" is messing things up because it has an older meaning that no longer applies to current science.

What colors are atoms?

What colors do you want them to be?

I can put an atom in a trap, or better a bunch of atoms in a trap, energize them and they will shine a color. Oh man, this thread just goes on and on...

UndercoverElephant
31st March 2006, 12:44 PM
Want to imagine a temp and give it a number? Do it. What is "perfect luke warm" to you? Assign it a number now, and adjust accordingly.

I can't! :D

Here's why. Imagine I have three bowls of water. A hot one, a cold one and a luke warm one. Now I put both my hands in the luke warm one and you want me to assign it a number. Apart from the impossibility of remembering what "perfect luke warm" is like and the assignment being completely arbirtrary, I can do this. I assign it the number 3. Now I put my left hand in the cold bowl and my right hand in the warm bowl and assign them 1 and 5 respectively. All fine and good. Until I put both hands back in the warm bowl. Now both hands are feeling the same water, but my left hand feels like a 4 and my right hand feels like a 2. You could try to argue that we've mathematised it anyway, just it's innaccurate and unreliable. But that's no difference to direct and indirect mathematisation. There's no such problems mathematising shapes, is there? Husserl never said that some things were'nt mathematisable. He said they weren't mathematisable directly. People have tried to get rid of this "directness" claim and replace it with "ease" or "reliability", but the fact remains that you cannot mathematise the non-geometric qualities of lived experience in the same way that you can mathematise the geometric ones.

UndercoverElephant
31st March 2006, 12:51 PM
Chriswl

I have to go out and don't have time to respond fully to your last post, but will do so tomorrow.

Paul and Jekyll

Try not think of "lifeworld" in terms of materialism or idealism. That is exactly what you aren't supposed to be doing. It refers to everything that is present in the human experience of a world. It includes what we think of as physical, what we think of as mental and all of the inter-relationships between them. For Husserl, "world" is a term used to refer to various collections of entities. You can talk about "What is happening in my world" and not mean "What is happening in my mind" or "What is happening in physical reality". You can refer to "the movie world" or "the business world." "Lifeworld" is just the grand collection of the sub-worlds that we encounter in our lives. It includes all of the worlds I listed. It's everything, before anyone comes along and starts claiming what it is or what its made of. In a somewhat confusing

Just found this and it looks useful:

http://www.lancs.ac.uk/depts/philosophy/awaymave/404/block2.htm

Back tomorrow

Geoff

UndercoverElephant
31st March 2006, 12:59 PM
Solitaire

Hint: We're not the ones stuck in it. I know you don't know that yet. :D

You have no idea what I do and do not know. You are just as likely to find me defending Richard Rorty. He's not stuck in it.

Plenty of people posting in this thread are, though. ;)

I'll reply to the rest of it tomorrow.

Ichneumonwasp
31st March 2006, 01:00 PM
Perhaps you are trying to "mathematize" the subjective experience in the wrong way and are using the wrong analogies.

I don't see why a materialist should have any problem with subjective experience, since every experience almost has to feel like something. Feelings are part of our motivational system for action, so where is the problem?

In your above example with the different subjective experiences of warm water, you are confusing things. The nervous system does not experience absolute temperatures. Rather what it does very well is experience deviations in temperature from current set points. While the water may be the same, and the experience may be different for the two hands, that does not mean that the experience cannot be mathemzatized. It merely means that the simplistic way of looking at it is wrong. You could easily mathematize the differences between the set points of the receptors and the the actual temperature of the water to arrive at two different experiences for the two hands. You must also consider what happens downstream and the effect that prior belief would have on this -- all mathematizable in theory since it is all neuron function. Just because we don't know how to work out the variables yet does not mean that it is not possible in theory to arrive at a full explanation.

Dark Jaguar
31st March 2006, 01:08 PM
I can't! :D

Here's why. Imagine I have three bowls of water. A hot one, a cold one and a luke warm one. Now I put both my hands in the luke warm one and you want me to assign it a number. Apart from the impossibility of remembering what "perfect luke warm" is like and the assignment being completely arbirtrary, I can do this. I assign it the number 3. Now I put my left hand in the cold bowl and my right hand in the warm bowl and assign them 1 and 5 respectively. All fine and good. Until I put both hands back in the warm bowl. Now both hands are feeling the same water, but my left hand feels like a 4 and my right hand feels like a 2. You could try to argue that we've mathematised it anyway, just it's innaccurate and unreliable. But that's no difference to direct and indirect mathematisation. There's no such problems mathematising shapes, is there? Husserl never said that some things were'nt mathematisable. He said they weren't mathematisable directly. People have tried to get rid of this "directness" claim and replace it with "ease" or "reliability", but the fact remains that you cannot mathematise the non-geometric qualities of lived experience in the same way that you can mathematise the geometric ones.

You're thinking in terms of materialism rather than the life world :D.

No seriously, I was saying mathematize the experience rather than the actual bowls of water, which you have done rather well. It won't describe the material world very well, it would be a jumble where things all have differening values based entirely on your frame of mind, but it sure would be a perfect description of your mental state :D.

drkitten
31st March 2006, 01:17 PM
I'm surprised you have to ask. :D

The relevant part of the relevant book is called : "Clarification of the Origin of the modern opposition between physicalist objectivism and transcendental subjectivism." Many people posting here (the ones I've stopped replying to) have failed to understand that Husserl's argument is an historical analysis, NOT an attempt to defend idealism.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell from my admittedly cursory reading, while it may be an historical analysis, it's a bad one.

And specifically, the epistemological framework under which Husserl performs the analysis is so bad as to render the analysis itself spurious and valueless. I could try to write a historical analysis defining the rise in industrial productivity in the 18th and 19th centuries in terms of a decrease in the number of hostile pixies and goblins worldwide, but I doubt anyone would find such an analysis useful, because the underlying concepts are wildly at odds with anything someone with a genuine understanding of the material could find remotely credible.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
31st March 2006, 01:22 PM
So - if you accept Husserl's account of the rise of physicalist objectivism and you have the intellectual integrity to admit the obvious fact that his account of the subjectivist response to this claim is also correct (nobody has anything else to suggest....) then you have to accept that Husserl's historical account is correct. So I ask you the same question: What's the problem.....?
So let's say his historical account is correct. Fine. I repeat:

How is this going to help us resolve these problems of metaphysics? What problems, and why do they appear unsolvable because of mathematization?

~~ Paul

hammegk
31st March 2006, 02:15 PM
SFAICS, Husserl has basically 'pulled a Stimpy' and then pretends that the dualism dilemma disappears when one moves back a level. All that does is shift the level where the "answer" resides.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
31st March 2006, 03:17 PM
I need a definition of "pulling a Stimpy." It sounds like it could be a useful phrase.

~~ Paul

cyborg
31st March 2006, 03:51 PM
Okay. Then a question for you; "Do they?". If yes, how do you know? THAT is one essence of this thread.

Okay. Then a question for you; "Don't they?". If yes, how do you know? THAT is one essence of this thread.

I prefer the choice of 'mind ... let's say ~(Matter/Energy)' as the existent; the physical world we perceive being the epiphenomena.

Yeah, I don't care what you prefer.

And I choose to believe I haven't lost anything.... :)

You still lose nonetheless.

hammegk
31st March 2006, 04:04 PM
Dear cyborg, I've certainly lost interest in trying to converse with you. ;)

cyborg
31st March 2006, 04:09 PM
Dear cyborg, I've certainly lost interest in trying to converse with you. ;)

Thank Chaos for small mercies.

69dodge
31st March 2006, 04:16 PM
There's your problem: we can't figure out where "redness" is. It's not a problem before the mathematisation - the redness of the apple is on the surface of the apple and that is all there is to it. It is only when you bifurcate the world into a material realm and mental realm that you end up with the hopeless problem of trying to specify to which realm redness belongs.Why is this a hopeless problem? The redness clearly is not on the surface of the apple, but in the mind of the person looking at it.

Suppose we're both looking at the same red apple. Then I close my eyes, but you keep looking at it. If the redness was on the surface of the apple, is it still there or not? I no longer see any redness, but you do.

I have read this whole thread and I still do not have even the most basic understanding of what you mean by "lifeworld". Does everyone have his own lifeworld, or is there just one lifeworld for everybody?

On my monitor right now, next to the text box I'm typing in, is a yellow smilie. If its yellowness is on the monitor, and not in my mind, why did all the yellowness disappear, to be replaced only by green and red pixels, when I looked at it closely with a magnifying glass? (This is not a thought experiment. I really did just look at it with a magnifying glass, and that's what I really saw. Try it yourself, if you have a strong magnifier.)

hammegk
31st March 2006, 04:30 PM
... On my monitor right now, next to the text box I'm typing in, is a yellow smilie. If its yellowness is on the monitor, and not in my mind, why did all the yellowness disappear, to be replaced only by green and red pixels, when I looked at it closely with a magnifying glass?
The yellowness, redness, & greenness are 'in the mind'. Why do you accept that other things are not?

chriswl
31st March 2006, 04:33 PM
I have one 100% certainty; Thought Exists. I choose to reject the idea I am The Solipsist, and choose to believe that a *you*, as well as an *i*, also Think.
What kinds of things qualify as valid "yous"? Other people, certainly. But what about other animals. Does it really make sense to assume that chimps are utterly unconscious and that consciousness is a property possessed only by humans, given the many similarities between our behaviour and our shared evolutionary history? And if chimps have consciousness, how far does consciousness extend down into the animal kingdom?

But it also seems unlikely that there is a sharp cutoff point for consciousness. That say, all vertebrates or all warm bloodied creatures have a consciousness every bit as real and complex as humans and all other creatures are biological automatons. It seems likely that there is a continuum of consciousness, that, as the creatures get less complex, slowly fades away into pure mechanism. This progression also occurs in the development of individual humans throughout our lives as we gradually change from being an obviously non-conscious bundle of cells to become a fully conscious person. But this view of consciousness cannot be reconciled with the traditional philosophical view of consciousness as an absolute, all-or-nothing phenomenon.

If you allow people to convince you, by their outward physical behaviour, that they are conscious, then why reject other physical signs, such as firing patterns of neurons in the brain as being relevant to the question of consciousness, just because they are more hidden and harder to observe? It is clear that consciousness is related to brains in some way and that we can't entirely disentangle the question from physical, scientific evidence.

69dodge
31st March 2006, 04:41 PM
The yellowness, redness, & greenness are 'in the mind'. Why do you accept that other things are not?Because accepting the existence of things that aren't in my mind makes it easier to explain the things that are. For example, why does the apple reappear when I reopen my eyes? My explanation is, there's an apple out there, not in my mind, which I see when I look at it. What's your explanation?

hammegk
31st March 2006, 05:09 PM
Umm. What is this "my mind" you refered to?

Kevin_Lowe
31st March 2006, 06:22 PM
The relevant part of the relevant book is called : "Clarification of the Origin of the modern opposition between physicalist objectivism and transcendental subjectivism." Many people posting here (the ones I've stopped replying to) have failed to understand that Husserl's argument is an historical analysis, NOT an attempt to defend idealism.

This is a straightforward bit of backpedalling. If it was just a historical analysis with no value judgements attached, there would be none of this nonsense about colour being immune to "mathematisation" and no claim that there is a crisis.

JustGeoff, please realise that there are two legitimate subjects for analysis here, but the question of whether Husserl's "crisis" claim bears up is philosophically prior to any historical Just So Story about how the crisis came to be. Insisting that we discuss the Just So Story when the reality of the "crisis" is still in question is equivalent to insisting that we rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Those people have reacted by picking up on some claim towards the end of the argument, which they see as threatening towards materialism, and providing your bog-standard materialist-think-box defences of materialism, to which hammegk is providing the bog-standard idealist criticisms of those attempted defences. That is the problem. The problem is that the argument just goes round and round and round and never gets anywhere.

Disagreement is not in itself evidence of a deep problem. It is evidence there may be a problem, or maybe one or both sides have rocks in their heads, or maybe something else is going on. Unfortunately for you, Hammy and Husserl the "bog standard" explanations of why materialism works are sufficiently philosophically compelling that it's easy to see what is going on in this case. Idealists have no case for idealism.

The mere fact that Hammy and Interesting Ian are still rattling on about it long after the issue should be dead is sociologically interesting but in no way indicates that there is a philosophical crisis.

This is already assumed as true from the title. Husserl isn't interested in those arguments because he doesn't think they are resolvable. The defenders of materialism have missed the entire point of the thread.

It seems to me that the point of the thread is to beg the question of whether Husserl had something to say that is relevant to us today, and then play Chicken Little. "Oh no, the metaphysical crisis is coming!".

Husserl is giving an historical account of a progression of ideas which led to the current opposition. But the defenders of materialism in this thread haven't had anything to say about this historical account. All they are doing is giving knee-jerk arguments based on the current situation, which we already know is an impasse. In actual fact most people seem to have agreed with Husserl's account of the rise of physicalist objectivism. The only complain when faced with Husserl's account of why the subjectivists respond in the way they do. But this is absurd! It is absurd because if they thought about it they realise they know damned well that the subjectivists respond in exactly the way Husserl claims they do: they concentrate on the elements of our experience of the world which can't be mathemetised directly - like redness or felt warmth. The materialists want to argue with Husserl because they think that as soon as they acknowledge that there is anything about the sight of redness of the feeling of warmth that is inherently subjective that an idealist is going to come along and claim it is an endorsement of subjectivism. But can anyone seriously deny Husserl's account of how the subjectivist responds and why he responds in that way? Only if they have failed to think about it at all. How else are you going to explain it? You've seen the arguments, day in, day out, always the same, just like Husserl claims.

Nobody is denying that Husserl has accurately regurgitated the silly arguments beloved of the idealists. So what? That's a feat we expect of first year philosophy students, to accurately regurgitate an argument. Nothing important comes of this regurgitation unless those arguments have merit, and in this case they do not.

So - if you accept Husserl's account of the rise of physicalist objectivism and you have the intellectual integrity to admit the obvious fact that his account of the subjectivist response to this claim is also correct (nobody has anything else to suggest....) then you have to accept that Husserl's historical account is correct. So I ask you the same question: What's the problem.....?

The problem is that even if Husserl's account is the last word in why idealists cling to their funny ideas, regurgitating their ideas is not a notable philosophical feat in any sense. That is probably why nobody is particularly interested in discussing that issue with you. There is nothing more to say except "Interesting attempt at a potted history, looks like you regurgitated idealist arguments accurately".

The interesting claim is that there is a metaphysical crisis afoot, and this is a claim that you and Husserl have failed to support. Accusing anti-idealists of using "bog standard" arguments when you have brought nothing original to the table yourself seems hypocritical. What's new here, except for a spurious claim that there is a crisis?

LotusMegami
31st March 2006, 07:37 PM
To begin, I believe that having more useful knowledge is better than having less useful knowledge.

If I were a member of a very primitive culture, I might believe that the redness is on the surface of the apple. I would be wrong.

What problem arises from knowing that the experience of seeing red is different from the property of reflecting red light? For that matter, the experience of seeing a sphere is not the shape of a sphere.

I still have no idea what the point of this thread is. What problem arises from my knowledge? What is the lifeworld? Most importantly, why should I listen to someone who expects the mathematical model of a sphere to look like a sphere?

Sapien
31st March 2006, 08:13 PM
He was certainly trying to find something to fill a hole he saw in the sciences of his day. He was trying to produce a reliable way to analyse "pure lived experiences." Some might argue that certain critical advances in science since then have lessened the size of the hole, like QM and chaos theory.

It is true that science has advanced in many remarkable ways since Husserl's day. All of us have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight on advances that were scarcely imagined then.

Perhaps Husserl invented phenomenology to try to fit a round peg in a square hole. But if he were living today I suspect he would see there is no hole.

Melendwyr
1st April 2006, 05:34 AM
The whole point is to get people to pay attention to what they're saying. They don't need to have a valid point or an intelligible argument to make that happen.

And, like moose, you fall right into their trap, over and over again.

Darat
1st April 2006, 05:39 AM
...snip...

Many people posting here (the ones I've stopped replying to) have failed to understand that Husserl's argument is an historical analysis, NOT an attempt to defend idealism.

...snip...

So - if you accept Husserl's account of the rise of physicalist objectivism and you have the intellectual integrity to admit the obvious fact that his account of the subjectivist response to this claim is also correct (nobody has anything else to suggest....) then you have to accept that Husserl's historical account is correct. So I ask you the same question: What's the problem.....?

I have shown that at least some of his historical "facts" are not correct - his "historical" analysis nothing more then an euro-centric (and even a small subset of Europe) "just so" story.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 05:39 AM
Most importantly, why should I listen to someone who expects the mathematical model of a sphere to look like a sphere?
It's not being claimed that the math for a sphere looks like a sphere. It's being claimed that the idealized sphere modeled by the math looks more or less like lifeworld spheres. In other words, if I asked you to construct a perfect sphere from the math, you'd end up building something that we'd all recognize as a sphere.

On the other hand, so the story goes, if I asked you to construct red light from the mathematical model of light, you would construct something that looked like a wave and we wouldn't recognize it as red. At least, I think this is the story. But it's absurd, of course, because if you did your job right, you'd construct a machine to generate red light and we'd recognize it immediately.

The mathematical model does not dictate all the parameters of the implementation of the object being modeled. That is why math books can use various depictions of math concepts in an attempt to explain them.

But this can't really be the issue, because it's too silly. So I don't know what the issue is. Does anyone?

~~ Paul

Darat
1st April 2006, 05:56 AM
It's not being claimed that the math for a sphere looks like a sphere. It's being claimed that the idealized sphere modeled by the math looks more or less like lifeworld spheres. In other words, if I asked you to construct a perfect sphere from the math, you'd end up building something that we'd all recognize as a sphere.

...snip...

Paul - these "idealized sphere" do not "exist" , all they "are" *is* the mathematical equation. The apparent problem is nothing more then one of language. When we say "idealized sphere" what we are trying to communicate to one another is the mathematical equation for a sphere. Some people just either don't understand that or keep forgetting it.

UndercoverElephant
1st April 2006, 06:39 AM
Solitaire

How could there be houses if there were no geometry, no philosophy, and no science?

What a strange question. You do not actually need geometry in order to build a hut. Even the great apes build proto-houses (nests) to sleep in.

You need a rudimentary understanding of geometry if you want a house with a regular useful space, not a random jumble of logs and boulders.

Not in the way the Greeks invented it. You need some rudimentary spatial reasoning skills, but not a geometry of idealised shapes.

How could he say that no perfect circles, shapes, or spheres exist in the world without judging?

Maybe I didn't explain this properly:

http://www.submeme.com/articles/corb/corb5.html

Perfection and its related concepts deserve a thoughtful analysis. Husserl’s distinction between the empirical and the abstract is again useful here. The abstract (symbolic) world allows perfection, but the empirical world is devoid of such things. By doing this, the unreachable nature of concepts of exactness, precision, and perfection are explained. An important concept in Husserl’s conception of empirical and abstract sphere was the idea of the "limit-shape."35 The limit-shapes are conceptual guidelines "toward which the particular series of perfectings tend, as toward invariant and never attainable poles."36 Husserl’s discussion of geometric ideals addressed the impossibility of completing perfection – he set his limit-shapes in the role of a "guiding pole" to which approximations may approach, but never reach.

The physical and abstract worlds do correspond, but this correspondence is an approximation, not a perfect coherence. For Husserl, measurement was the point at which the symbolic and empirical spheres meet; measurement translates physical into geometrical, thereby representing the empirical in the symbolic.37 There must inevitably be some "slippage" between the two spheres. As has been noted in other contexts, separation implies difference. If the symbolic and empirical spheres corresponded perfectly, the identity of the symbolic would be compromised as it would be inextricably bonded to the physical. The physical world, however, is and must remain imperfect.

Solitaire

In my world circles and spheres exist happily within my imagination. I can manipulate them in my imaginary world just as I can manipulate hoops and balls in the real world. But you see here, I have, alas, made a judgement, I've decided to split my world into two parts - a real world and an imaginary world. Not a good move. But it looks like he did the same. Let's undo the error.

Not quite. Husserl didn't create the split, he just documents it. The split is an absolutely neccesary condition of objective science. If you want to "undo it" then you take away the thing that makes objective science objective. Husserl doesn't want to "undo it". He wants to make it clear that it happened, and you seem to be trying to resist the claim that it did.

If I exist in the life-world and my imagination is a part of me and my imagination contains circles and spheres then my imagination exists in the life-world and the life-world contains circles and spheres, QED.

Ultimately, Husserl admits two conceptions of the relationship between the lifeworld and science - although this is likely to make the issue more confusing so I've avoided mentioning it till now. In one sense, the mathematisation of science is a model of some parts of the lifeworld and as such is seperate from it. But as you say, the whole of science is now also encountered within the lifeworld - so in a wider sense the lifeworld is now inclusive of everything - including the arguments we are having about the relationship between science and the lifeworld.

Notice the strangeness of this paragraph.

What did Galileo do? He observed the world around him, examining the motion of objects closely. After thinking about the matter a while, he made a mathematical model of motion in the real world. But did he stop there? No. He tested the model's predictions in a series of experiments against the behavior of objects in the real world. Since then the basic enterprise has changed little. We come up with models and we test the predictions against the real world with the model that best fits the results of experiments being declared the winner.

What is the source of this peculiar strangeness? That word mathematization bugs me.

I didn't get the point of this paragraph. Why does it bug you?

In the second example, have you ever heard the words, "Wind Chill Factor" or "Heat Index?" It possible to convert perceive temperature into a number.

This is true. But there is a difference between the following:

a) the relationship between a lifeworld sphere and a perfect geometrical sphere

b) the relationship between felt temperature and a number.

How do you know the world cannot be mathematized completely?

It can be. It just can't be directly mathematised completely. It's exactly the same as the argument about primary and secondary qualities. Primary qualities were defined by Locke as "resembling their causes" whilst secondary qualities were not. By this he means that if you perceive and object as having the primary quality of squareness then it is because the actual real object you perceive shares this quality. It's actually square. But if you perceive an object as having the secondary quality of greenness then it is no because the actual real object possesses this quality. Instead, "greenness" exists in the object only as a "power" i.e. the power to cause the sensation of green in a subject who observes it. This ought to make sense, even to a materialist. We percieve objects as square because they are square (or cubic, etc....). We perceive object as green because a physico-chemical property of the atoms they are made of absorbs non-green light.

Your confusing the model of the thing with the thing-in-itself. Suppose I propose that given a certain deep sea environment ought to contain a bacteria evolved for that particular environment - say converts sulphur from rotting vegetable matter and un-oxidize iron in the water. I go there, sample the water, find the bacteria. I prove my simplified evolutionary model true. You say they don't exist because I found discovered them by using a model. But I can put them into a microscope and show them to you.

The fact that used a model to discover them doesn't mean they aren't real. Hot even for Husserl. I don't understand the point in this paragraph.

What the problems in metaphysics?

I still don't feel I have enough information, but it looks like Husserl has rediscovered the wheel yet again. We already know about this and don't make the error. And the life-world is the world of science.

That amounts to a straightforward assertion of scientism: a claim that every aspect of existence is theoretically submissible to science. This sort of claim is Husserl's prime target. He is not anti-science. He is anti-scientistic.

Anyway, Descartes claimed that the world consisted of two substances: the matter that composes our bodies and a spirit separate from matter that nonetheless manipulates matter. Once he did that the monstrous questions of how a physical process can manipulate a nonphysical mind and how a nonphysical mind can manipulate a physical process. But this is not a problem of materialism because materialism does not posit a separation at all. It's a problem for dualism.

Sure, cartesian dualism is a problem. But there is another problem in the vicinity and that is the question of the relationship between idealism, materialism and idealism. Husserl, quite rightly I believe, views these three positions as conceptually interdependent.

Go here:

http://www.phil.gu.se/posters/prop.html

3. False and proper monism

I would like to introduce a distinction between "false" and "proper" monism in order to achieve a clearer conception of the traditional mind-body problem. I aim to show that monistic claims made by typical reductionists, in fact, are conceptually conditioned by an acceptance of the very Cartesian model they want to reject. I will refer to this fallacy as the error of false monism. Materialists as a rule, typically tend to represent the mind-body problem as, basically, a choice between materialism and dualism. Materialists often portray their target enemies as Cartesian dualists; those defending the view that there exist an immaterial substance in a ghostly medium - somehow interacting with the body2. I don’t know whether this is meant as a rhetorical move or if they really believe that the majority of dualists subscribe to Cartesian substance dualism. However, the serious and decisive mistake consists in believing that the physical is an ontologically neutral category - conceptually independent - from dualism. On the contrary, materialism is just one pole in the original Cartesian two-pole framework (see fig 1). It is in this respect we may say that materialists are in a way implicitly accepting the original distinction proposed by Descartes.

Even Dennett admits that materialism has a tendency to make this mistake. He calls this "cartesian materialism". What Dennett has not done is provide an alternative version of materialism which doesn't suffer from the same problem.

I think your rediscovering the wheel. The fact that I see redness on an apple though doesn't invalidate the existence of atoms on the surface of the apple scattering "red" photons to my eyes, those photons entering my eyes and activating pigments in my eye cells, the pigments saturating setting of a cascade electrical pulse towards my brain, and my neurons in the brain receiving the pulses as my perception of the "redness" of the apple. I say the "redness" is with the apple, the perception of the "redness" is within my brain. See?

Yikes! :D

So there is "redness of the apple" and "perception of redness" in your brain????

And you think this isn't a problem?

But this is exactly what science studies, reality or the life-world.

Physicalist science studies the geometrisable parts of the life-world. Some other so-called sciences try to study parts of the life-world that can't be geometrised, but the greater extent they try to study these things, the more difficulty one has in identifying them as a "proper science." When those "soft sciences" try to hardern themselves up the only way they can do it is to try to ape physics, usually resulting in aberrations like behaviourism - trying to be scientific but missing the point in doing so. Behaviourism is an attempt to mathematise minds by defining them in terms of behaviour - since behaviour can be represented geometrically (we have bodies moving around in space).

UndercoverElephant
1st April 2006, 06:42 AM
Unfortunately, as far as I can tell from my admittedly cursory reading, while it may be an historical analysis, it's a bad one.

And specifically, the epistemological framework under which Husserl performs the analysis is so bad as to render the analysis itself spurious and valueless. I could try to write a historical analysis defining the rise in industrial productivity in the 18th and 19th centuries in terms of a decrease in the number of hostile pixies and goblins worldwide, but I doubt anyone would find such an analysis useful, because the underlying concepts are wildly at odds with anything someone with a genuine understanding of the material could find remotely credible.

In other words, if you try to understand Husserl's argument from within the conceptual framework of modern scienfitifc materialism?

I guess at this point Husserl would just nod. That's what the "epoche" is for - the very first point of Husserlian philosophy - you must "bracket" your beliefs about ontology.

stamenflicker
1st April 2006, 06:55 AM
Solitare,

You need a rudimentary understanding of geometry if you want a house with a regular useful space, not a random jumble of logs and boulders.You need a rudimentary understanding of science in order to build the house if you want the house to stay together, otherwise you'll build endless piles of rubble. You need a rudimentary understanding of philosophy for the reasons you want a house, till then you'll spend your time running from the rain by standing under a tree. And the word "systematic" doesn't help much with your argument.

Althought I agreed with most of your post, this is not true. The spider has no rudimentary understanding of geometry (that we know of), and yet they build spectacular geometric shapes. Birds have no understanding of aereodynamics, but they know when its too windy to fly. And certainly you would never say that life needed a rudimentary understanding of biology in order to evolve, that would sound a bit too much like intelligent design :)

So the rest of the world (lifeworld) doesn't have to appeal to the mathematatical model, the the real question then is why do we?

Darat
1st April 2006, 07:03 AM
Solitare,

Althought I agreed with most of your post, this is not true. The spider has no rudimentary understanding of geometry (that we know of), and yet they build spectacular geometric shapes. Birds have no understanding of aereodynamics, but they know when its too windy to fly. And certainly you would never say that life needed a rudimentary understanding of biology in order to evolve, that would sound a bit too much like intelligent design :)

So the rest of the world (lifeworld) doesn't have to appeal to the mathematatical model, the the real question then is why do we?

I disagree with this.

The evidence is all around us that there are "equations built in" to living creatures that allow us to function the way we do, for instance the way I can "anticipate" the arc of ball when it is thrown at me, just like a dog or cat or a myriad number of other creatures can.

UndercoverElephant
1st April 2006, 07:12 AM
So let's say his historical account is correct. Fine. I repeat:

How is this going to help us resolve these problems of metaphysics? What problems, and why do they appear unsolvable because of mathematization?

~~ Paul

It isn't the mathematisation itself that makes them unsolvable. It is a confusion about the meaning of the mathematisation that makes them unsolvable.

Geoff's summary of Husserl's main point:

If you accept the historical account then you can see a process happening. You start out with a unified world. Greek geometry comes along and creates the idealised mathematised entities, and these entities are perfect versions of some parts of the lifeworld. Galileo tries to extend this process to the whole of nature: he is seeking the equivalent of the perfect geometric shape which corresponds to the whole of nature in the same way that a perfect sphere corresponds to the Earth - and this process has continued to the modern day. However, somewhere along the line an ontological commitment crept in with the mathematisation - by accident - nobody did it on purpose. This ontological commitment comes about as follows: We now have a lifeworld, and the (still incomplete) mathematised version of the lifeworld that has been the result of the galilean sciences. But scientific materialism, unlike science itself, consists of the conviction that the real world is the entity described by the mathematical model. I know that the materialist (who has not carried out the epoche and is continually resisting any claim that might lead to a problem for materialism) wants to deny this, but that is the whole point in giving the historical account, which you have now (for argument's sake, I guess) accepted. Materialism really is an ontological identification of "the real world" with the entity described by physics. By examining the historical process we can then more clearly understand the relationships between materialism, idealism and dualism. This was understood, apparently, by only one person so far in this thread. That person was stamenflicker when he said, on the first page:

Further, the statement from Geoff deserves more consideration:

What we call "idealism" is a dialectical reaction to this mistake which simply provides a mirror image of the mistake. Husserl therefore ends up being neither a materialist nor an idealist, regardless of the fact that he is often accused of being an idealist.

This is the key. The materialists here just identify Husserl as "the enemy" and accuse him of being a dualist. Other have accused Husserl of idealism. But the truth is he genuinely wants to move beyond all three positions. BY recognising the way the mathematisation has affected the way we think about "the world", we can see that the originally monistic world was bifurcated by a process of:

a) mathematisation of the geometrical parts of the lifeworld
b) identification of "reality" with the mathematisation
c) a reaction against the claim that the abstract idealisation IS reality

Now he hopes that at least some people are going to understand why there is no way to resolve this dispute without retracing our steps back to before the bifurcation took place. What many people in this thread (and materialistic reductionists everywhere) are trying to do is make two incompatible claims. One the one hand they want to get beyond metaphysics, which they are likely to dismiss as so much ********, but on the other hand they want to persist in identification inherent in (b), regardless of the fact they claim they do not. So long as they continue to defend an ontological materialism, they implicitly continue to identify "reality" with a mathematised version of the geometrical component of the lifeworld. The problem summed up in one sentence is this: You cannot transcend (or leave behind) metaphysics at the same time as passionately defending materialism, because metaphysics results from an accidental bifurcation of the lifeworld caused by an unacknowledge conceptual confusion and materialism is one half of the bifurcation. The only way to transcend metaphysics is to reverse the conceptual bifurcation, and when you do so both materialism and idealism disappear.

UndercoverElephant
1st April 2006, 07:24 AM
Why is this a hopeless problem? The redness clearly is not on the surface of the apple, but in the mind of the person looking at it.

That is a claim of Galilean realism:

Now, whenever I conceive of any material or corporal substance, I am necessarily constrained to conceive of that substance as bounded and as possessing this or that shape, as large or small in relationship to some other body, as in this or that place during this or that time, as in motion or at rest, as in contact or not in contact with some other body, as being one, many, or few - and by no stretch of the imagination can I conceive of any corporal body apart from these conditions. But I do not at all feel myself compelled to conceive of bodies as necessarily conjoined with such further conditions as being red or white, bitter or sweet, having sound or being mute, or possessing a pleasant or unpleasant fragrance. On the contrary, were they not escorted by our physical senses, perhaps neither reason for understanding would ever, by themselves, arrive at such notions. I think, therefore, that these tastes, odours, colours etc., so far as their objective existence is concerned, are nothing but mere names for something which resides exclusively in our sensitive body, so that if the perceiving creatures were removed, all of these qualities would be annihilated and abolished from existence. But just because we have given special names to these qualities, different from the names we have given to the primary and real properties, we are tempted into believing that the former really and truly exist as well as the latter. (Galileo The Assayer)

But it is a problem. Unfortunately, it is far from clear that the redness is in ones mind at not on the surface of the apple. The reason this is a problem is that once you have accepted that the redness is in ones mind and not at the surface of the apple you have started down a well-recognised "slippery slope" that ends in idealism.

In a very real sense, the redness is a property of the apple. "The apple is red." Isn't it? We could argue about this for 400 years and not resolve the problem. There is no agreement, even among materialists, about where the redness is.

http://www.ipfw.edu/phil/faculty/Strayer/qualities.PDF

I have read this whole thread and I still do not have even the most basic understanding of what you mean by "lifeworld". Does everyone have his own lifeworld, or is there just one lifeworld for everybody?

Good question. These are exactly the sorts of questions that Husserl goes on to address in fine detail.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/husserl/#7

Empathy, intersubjectivity and lifeworld

One of the main themes of transcendental phenomenology is intersubjectivity. Among other things, it is discussed in considerable detail in the 5th of the Cartesian Meditations and in the manuscripts published in vol. XIII-XV of Husserliana. (A particularly important critique of Husserl's view on intersubjectivity from a sociological viewpoint is found in Schütz 1966.)

According to Husserl, intersubjective experience plays a fundamental role in our constitution of both ourselves as objectively existing subjects, other experiencing subjects, and the objective spatio-temporal world. Transcendental phenomenology attempts to reconstruct the rational structures underlying — and making possible — these constitutive achievements.

From a first-person point of view, intersubjectivity comes in when we undergo acts of empathy. Intersubjective experience is empathic experience; it occurs in the course of our conscious attribution of intentional acts to other subjects, in the course of which we put ourselves into the other one's shoes. In order to study this kind of experience from the phenomenological attitude, we must bracket our belief in the existence of the respective target of our act-ascription qua experiencing subject and ask ourselves which of our further beliefs justify that existence-belief as well as our act-ascription. It is these further beliefs that make up the rational structure underlying our intersubjective experience. Since it takes phenomenological investigation to lay bare these beliefs, they must be first and foremost unconscious when we experience the world in the natural attitude.

Among the fundamental beliefs thus uncovered by Husserl is the belief (or expectation) that a being that looks and behaves more or less like myself, i.e., displays traits more or less familiar from my own case, will generally perceive things from an egocentric viewpoint similar to my own (“here”, “over there”, “to my left”, “in front of me”, etc.), in the sense that I would roughly look upon things the way he does if I were in his shoes and perceived them from his perspective. This belief allows me to ascribe intentional acts to others immediately or “appresentatively”, i.e., without having to draw an inference, say, by analogy with my own case. So the belief in question must lie quite at the bedrock of my belief-system. It forms a part of the already pregiven (and generally unreflected) intentional background, or “lifeworld” (cf. Crisis), against which my practice of act-ascription and all constitutive achievements based upon that practice make sense in the first place, and in terms of which they get their ultimate justification.

Husserl's notion of lifeworld is a difficult (and at the same time important) one. It can roughly be thought of in two different (but arguably compatible) ways: (1) in terms of belief and (2) in terms of something like socially, culturally or evolutionarily established (but nevertheless abstract) sense or meaning.

(1) If we restrict ourselves to a single subject of experience, the lifeworld can be looked upon as the rational structure underlying his (or her) "natural attitude". That is to say: a given subject's lifeworld consists of the beliefs against which his everyday attitude towards himself, the objective world and others receive their ultimate justification. (However, in principle not even beliefs forming part of a subject's lifeworld are immune to revision. Hence, Husserl must not be regarded as an epistemological foundationalist; see Føllesdal 1988.)

(2a) If we consider a single community of subjects, their common lifeworld, or "homeworld", can be looked upon, by first approximation, as the system of senses or meanings constituting their common language, or "form of life" (Wittgenstein), given that they conceive of the world and themselves in the categories provided by this language.

(2b) If we consider subjects belonging to different communities, we can look upon their common lifeworld as the general framework of senses or meanings that allows for the mutual translation of their respective languages (with their different associated "homeworlds") into one another.

On my monitor right now, next to the text box I'm typing in, is a yellow smilie. If its yellowness is on the monitor, and not in my mind, why did all the yellowness disappear, to be replaced only by green and red pixels, when I looked at it closely with a magnifying glass? (This is not a thought experiment. I really did just look at it with a magnifying glass, and that's what I really saw. Try it yourself, if you have a strong magnifier.)[/QUOTE]

chriswl
1st April 2006, 07:35 AM
It's not being claimed that the math for a sphere looks like a sphere. It's being claimed that the idealized sphere modeled by the math looks more or less like lifeworld spheres.
But surely an idealised sphere or triangle or parabola doesn't look like anything. It doesn't have any colour, for a start. And that is Husserl's (but, as far as I can tell, not Geoff's) argument, isn't it? You can imagine your visual field filled with the colour blue, but not with idealised equilateral triangles (of no colour, against a background of nothing). So, therefore, these mathematical descriptions are not the world we actually experience, just a description of it. But so what?

Darat
1st April 2006, 07:38 AM
...snip...

On my monitor right now, next to the text box I'm typing in, is a yellow smilie. If its yellowness is on the monitor, and not in my mind, why did all the yellowness disappear, to be replaced only by green and red pixels, when I looked at it closely with a magnifying glass? (This is not a thought experiment. I really did just look at it with a magnifying glass, and that's what I really saw. Try it yourself, if you have a strong magnifier.)

This is an example of why I said philosophy needs to get a bit more up to date! This particular question was answered, by physicists quite a while ago.

(ETA) A good introductionary site on this matter can be found here: http://www-spof.gsfc.nasa.gov/stargaze/Sun4spec.htm

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 08:31 AM
Paul - these "idealized sphere" do not "exist" , all they "are" *is* the mathematical equation. The apparent problem is nothing more then one of language. When we say "idealized sphere" what we are trying to communicate to one another is the mathematical equation for a sphere. Some people just either don't understand that or keep forgetting it.
I understand that an idealized sphere does not exist. Nevertheless, what is wrong with asking questions about constructing one and then comparing it to lifeworld spheres? It's not that I think this tells us anything interesting, but it doesn't seem like a completely bogus exercise.

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 08:34 AM
But surely an idealised sphere or triangle or parabola doesn't look like anything. It doesn't have any colour, for a start. And that is Husserl's (but, as far as I can tell, not Geoff's) argument, isn't it? You can imagine your visual field filled with the colour blue, but not with idealised equilateral triangles (of no colour, against a background of nothing). So, therefore, these mathematical descriptions are not the world we actually experience, just a description of it. But so what?
Everyone agrees that the mathematical model is not the lifeworld, or at least most of us do. The argument is that the idealized sphere is somehow much more "lifeworld-like" than the idealized color red. I agree: So what?

~~ Paul

Darat
1st April 2006, 08:37 AM
I understand that an idealized sphere does not exist. Nevertheless, what is wrong with asking questions about constructing one and then comparing it to lifeworld spheres? It's not that I think this tells us anything interesting, but it doesn't seem like a completely bogus exercise.

~~ Paul

I suspect this is language again - what do you mean by "construct"?

hammegk
1st April 2006, 08:38 AM
Paul - these "idealized sphere" do not "exist" , all they "are" *is* the mathematical equation. The apparent problem is nothing more then one of language. When we say "idealized sphere" what we are trying to communicate to one another is the mathematical equation for a sphere. Some people just either don't understand that or keep forgetting it.
Why do you think the problem is only apparent rather than actual? To me Husserl's ideas imply language itself is mathematization attempting to code the lifeworld into the one-dimensional world of scientific materialism.

Eastern modes of thought arrived at this impasse millenia ago. I also agree it impacts idealism as strongly as it does materialism.

Darat
1st April 2006, 08:40 AM
Everyone agrees that the mathematical model is not the lifeworld, or at least most of us do. The argument is that the idealized sphere is somehow much more "lifeworld-like" than the idealized color red. I agree: So what?

~~ Paul

I don't think we can really say that - well obviously we can because we do but I again think this is just matter of language. Because a sphere can mean so many other things in the world from a ball to an apple we just "feel" as if the idea of an "idealised sphere" is somehow more meaningful yet when we actually look what it really means (i.e. the equation provided by LW) we can see it is no more "lifeworld-like" then the formulae I gave for colour.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 08:41 AM
Materialism really is an ontological identification of "the real world" with the entity described by physics.
Ontological materialism might be that. I agree that anyone claiming to be an ontological materialist should reconsider the coherency of their claim.

You cannot transcend (or leave behind) metaphysics at the same time as passionately defending materialism, because metaphysics results from an accidental bifurcation of the lifeworld caused by an unacknowledge conceptual confusion and materialism is one half of the bifurcation. The only way to transcend metaphysics is to reverse the conceptual bifurcation, and when you do so both materialism and idealism disappear.
When they disappear, are they replaced by something, or do we all get to agree that metaphysics is fundamentally meaningless and then go about enjoying life free of the oppression of trying to understand "what actually exists"?

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 08:46 AM
I don't think we can really say that - well obviously we can because we do but I again think this is just matter of language. Because a sphere can mean so many other things in the world from a ball to an apple we just "feel" as if the idea of an "idealised sphere" is somehow more meaningful yet when we actually look what it really means (i.e. the equation provided by LW) we can see it is no more "lifeworld-like" then the formulae I gave for colour.
Again, I agree that the equation for a sphere is no more lifeworld-like than those for color. But the construction of an ideal sphere from its equation seems much more straightforward than the construction of a color, and the obtained object more likely to look like a sphere-ish thing. I do not think this has deep implications.

I have no idea whether this is what Husserl is saying.

~~ Paul

Darat
1st April 2006, 08:49 AM
Why do you think the problem is only apparent rather than actual?

Because by changing the meaning of the words we use to communicate the problem the problem "itself" can be made to "disappear" - to me that is evidence that the problem is an artifact of communication rather then anything "more real".

To me Husserl's ideas imply language itself is mathematization attempting to code the lifeworld into the one-dimensional world of scientific materialism.

I would disagree since we started communicating before having any concept of "scientific materialism".

Eastern modes of thought arrived at this impasse millenia ago. I also agree it impacts idealism as strongly as it does materialism.

Another one with the weird idea that somehow there is "Eastern" and "Western" thought. :)

Darat
1st April 2006, 08:56 AM
Again, I agree that the equation for a sphere is no more lifeworld-like than those for color. But the construction of an ideal sphere from its equation seems much more straightforward than the construction of a color, and the obtained object more likely to look like a sphere-ish thing. I do not think this has deep implications.

I have no idea whether this is what Husserl is saying.

~~ Paul

I've applied bold to the important section of your reply - it's the "seems" that seems to be tripping up someone like Geoff. T

An idealised sphere isthe equation, nothing more nothing less but we tend to forget that when speaking about it in English rather then the language of maths. Give that equation to someone and they'd be equally capable or incapable of "constructing" a "real" sphere then they would be in being able to or not "construct" a "real" colour from the colour equation.

hammegk
1st April 2006, 09:11 AM
Because by changing the meaning of the words we use to communicate the problem the problem "itself" can be made to "disappear" - to me that is evidence that the problem is an artifact of communication rather then anything "more real".
Do you find meaning in that statement? I didn't.

I would disagree since we started communicating before having any concept of "scientific materialism".
Of course you do, we agree on very little. However, my comment implied communication itself has already begun the mathematization that becomes scientific materialism.

Another one with the weird idea that somehow there is "Eastern" and "Western" thought. :)
What word would you prefer? I suspect you know damn well the meaning of what I said.

Darat
1st April 2006, 09:20 AM
Do you find meaning in that statement? I didn't.

Yes - do you want me to rephrase it to help you understand it?

Of course you do, we agree on very little. However, my comment implied communication itself has already begun the mathematization that becomes scientific materialism.

Well if that is the case - well I suspect that's a path you want to avoid walking down. ;)

What word would you prefer? I suspect you know damn well the meaning of what I said.

What you said was meaningless.

hammegk
1st April 2006, 09:53 AM
For you, obviously so.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 10:45 AM
An idealised sphere isthe equation, nothing more nothing less but we tend to forget that when speaking about it in English rather then the language of maths. Give that equation to someone and they'd be equally capable or incapable of "constructing" a "real" sphere then they would be in being able to or not "construct" a "real" colour from the colour equation.
I guess we'll just agree to disagree. I think it can be argued that color is conceptually further removed from its equations than a sphere is from its equations. An atom is even further removed, and a quark even further than that.

On the other hand, if you are saying that it is difficult to construct an actual ideal sphere, then I agree that that is no easier than constructing green. In fact, it is harder, since it is effectively impossible. I was thinking more of constructing a reasonable resemblance to an ideal sphere.

This is rather pedantic, isn't it?

~~ Paul

Edited to add: "further removed" isn't the right phrase. The equation for a sphere captures the experiential essence of a sphere in a more straightforward way than the equations for light capture the essence of color.

Darat
1st April 2006, 10:48 AM
I guess we'll just agree to disagree. I think it can be argued that color is conceptually further removed from its equations than a sphere is from its equations. An atom is even further removed, and a quark even further than that.

I think that is just because we are more "used" to thinking about some concepts then others - nothing more.

...snip...

This is rather pedantic, isn't it?

~~ Paul

Well it is metaphysics and a misplaced period can apparently be incredible significant .......... ;)

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 10:56 AM
I think that is just because we are more "used" to thinking about some concepts then others - nothing more.
Possibly so, although I think our brains can handle some concepts more easily than others.

~~ Paul

chriswl
1st April 2006, 02:26 PM
I think it can be argued that color is conceptually further removed from its equations than a sphere is from its equations. An atom is even further removed, and a quark even further than that.
I would agree that there is a kind of continuum. Some things are very hard to relate to their mathematical models and others are so trivially easy that we don't see that the model and the thing itself are different types of things at all - we imagine we can literally "see" the mathematical models just like we see real things.

Geoff's argument seems to be that there is no such continuum. There are things for which we can literally and directly see the connection between the real thing and its model and there are things for which the connection is indirect, and furthermore, we can draw a clear line between these two categories of things. And the fact that our mathematical models represent some things only in this indirect way is taken to mean that they miss something important about our experience of those things. I think it's basically the (yawn) qualia argument, though I suspect that Husserl was saying something rather more subtle than just that.

hammegk
1st April 2006, 03:53 PM
I would agree that there is a kind of continuum. ....

Geoff's argument seems to be that there is no such continuum.
I'm uncertain as to Geoff's take on this; to me mathematical representations exist as a continuum from quark-string-whatever into the macroworld.

I think it's basically the (yawn) qualia argument, though I suspect that Husserl was saying something rather more subtle than just that.
In the sense that qualia -- should such exist ;) -- cannot be communicated in any way I'd tend to agree that qualia lurk in the Husserl 'lifeworld'.

Piggy
1st April 2006, 04:15 PM
I want to thank everyone on this thread for reminding me why philosophy and metaphysics are such huge steaming piles of horse manure.

I've never seen such a godawful string of tail-chasing, boot-strapping, puffed up nonsense in all my life. And I've read St. Augustine.

The very fact that this OP could engender such an extended argument is some of the best evidence I've seen yet to support meme theory. It shows how the human mind is capable of mistaking verbal hooks for actual ideas.

The OP has not only built a house of cards, but actually moved into it and closed the blinds.

LotusMegami
1st April 2006, 05:10 PM
Oh for the love of Freya.

What is the love-making point?!

I can make a green sphere in POV-ray using numbers and symbols. I can print out those numbers and symbols - and not eat them!

Even though a green sphere somewhat resembles an apple. I won't try to eat my monitor either. The green sphere doesn't actually exist, and even if it did, it wouldn't be an apple.

So where is the problem? I can use a map, I can communicate with words, I can describe a color which other people will recognize.

Being ignorant of how my senses work would only leave me groping at my monitor, trying to get at the green ball that doesn't exist.

hammegk
1st April 2006, 05:28 PM
Given that some people find no content in this thread, one wonders why they bother to keep reading, let alone waste their time posting. ;)

Piggy
1st April 2006, 05:34 PM
Given that some people find no content in this thread, one wonders why they bother to keep reading, let alone waste their time posting.
For the same reasons I feel compelled to read articles about mindless genocide and remark to my girlfriend, "Can you believe this crazy ****?"

For the same reasons I read case studies of serial killers and write articles about them.

For the same reasons I watch coverage of my state legislature and read their bills, and write letters asking them to please sober up.

1. Because it tells me something about human psychology.
2. Because I can't resist a good horror show.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 05:37 PM
I want to thank everyone on this thread for reminding me why philosophy and metaphysics are such huge steaming piles of horse manure.
There are branches of philosophy that are not HSPHMs. I agree with your assessment of metaphysics, although I would use a different acrnonym.

I've never seen such a godawful string of tail-chasing, boot-strapping, puffed up nonsense in all my life. And I've read St. Augustine.
You ain't been 'round here long, have you, pardner?

The very fact that this OP could engender such an extended argument is some of the best evidence I've seen yet to support meme theory. It shows how the human mind is capable of mistaking verbal hooks for actual ideas.
Now here is where you are misguided. Just because you are discussing an HSPHM does not mean that you can't derive some intellectual benefit from it. Had I not spent considerable time on HSPHMs over the past few years, my grasp of exactly why metaphysics is an HSPHM would be much more tenuous than it is today.

The OP has not only built a house of cards, but actually moved into it and closed the blinds.
I can't comment on this, because I do not understand Husserl's point. Of course, that may be exactly your point.

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
1st April 2006, 05:38 PM
For the same reasons I feel compelled to read articles about mindless genocide and remark to my girlfriend, "Can you believe this crazy ****?"

For the same reasons I read case studies of serial killers and write articles about them.

For the same reasons I watch coverage of my state legislature and read their bills, and write letters asking them to please sober up.

1. Because it tells me something about human psychology.
2. Because I can't resist a good horror show.
There you go.

~~ Paul

stamenflicker
1st April 2006, 05:39 PM
I disagree with this.

The evidence is all around us that there are "equations built in" to living creatures that allow us to function the way we do, for instance the way I can "anticipate" the arc of ball when it is thrown at me, just like a dog or cat or a myriad number of other creatures can.

I suppose if you want to call that "rudimentary understanding," then sure. The claim was that somehow we need understanding of the mathematization model of the lifeworld to do anything productive. Your point is that this understanding can be unconcious, instinctual, or "built in." I can accept that. But I don't see where that is any different than saying a rock has a "built in" response to gravity. Which leads us right back to a tautology.

69dodge
1st April 2006, 05:42 PM
Unfortunately, it is far from clear that the redness is in ones mind at not on the surface of the apple.I don't know. It's pretty clear to me.

If I view the red apple under blue light, it looks black. Has the color of its surface changed from red to black? Or is it still a red apple? If it's still red, why doesn't it look red?

To a colorblind person, red things and green things look the same. So, are the things really the same color, or are they really different colors?

Bees can see ultraviolet light. Two flowers that look the same to me might look different to a bee. Are they really the same color, or are they really different colors?

The reason this is a problem is that once you have accepted that the redness is in ones mind and not at the surface of the apple you have started down a well-recognised "slippery slope" that ends in idealism.I probably haven't studied as much philosophy as you have. But I can't see the sense in ignoring known facts about color vision. The facts are what they are. Wherever they lead, they lead.

In a very real sense, the redness is a property of the apple. "The apple is red." Isn't it?No. It isn't.

Of course, people say things like, "this apple is red, that one is green" all the time, and everyone knows what they mean. That's fine. But you quickly run into problems if you take such statements literally.

Good question. These are exactly the sorts of questions that Husserl goes on to address in fine detail.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/husserl/#7I read it before, and now I read it again, and I still don't understand it.

On my monitor right now, next to the text box I'm typing in, is a yellow smilie. If its yellowness is on the monitor, and not in my mind, why did all the yellowness disappear, to be replaced only by green and red pixels, when I looked at it closely with a magnifying glass? (This is not a thought experiment. I really did just look at it with a magnifying glass, and that's what I really saw. Try it yourself, if you have a strong magnifier.)You didn't say anything about this. Don't you think it's relevant?

stamenflicker
1st April 2006, 05:45 PM
The very fact that this OP could engender such an extended argument is some of the best evidence I've seen yet to support meme theory. It shows how the human mind is capable of mistaking verbal hooks for actual ideas.

And meme theory shows how the human mind can take actual ideas and create for us invisible hooks. Sorry, but this little fishy is going to keep swimming until our endearing scientific fisherman can toss a less verbal bait.

Piggy
1st April 2006, 05:48 PM
The claim was that somehow we need understanding of the mathematization model of the lifeworld to do anything productive. Your point is that this understanding can be unconcious, instinctual, or "built in." I can accept that. But I don't see where that is any different than saying a rock has a "built in" response to gravity. Which leads us right back to a tautology.
It's different b/c nothing has to happen in the rock for gravity to act on it.

Gravity acts on everything. Nothing has to be encoded.

But rocks can't track arcs and predict points of contact. Some critters can.

OMG, I've gotten sucked in!

Piggy
1st April 2006, 05:51 PM
And meme theory shows how the human mind can take actual ideas and create for us invisible hooks.
Exactly! I have to admit, I'm surprised you understand meme theory. I guess I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions.

hammegk
1st April 2006, 06:22 PM
I don't know. It's pretty clear to me.

..... I can't see the sense in ignoring known facts about color vision. The facts are what they are. Wherever they lead, they lead.

To make that statement you have already decided materialism is 100%correct and that a complete description of nature can be mathematized. (note: imo, math allows communication in the most logical and precise language humans currently have available)

Note to non-participants: Take all you want .... please don't p!ss in the soup. :D

Kevin_Lowe
1st April 2006, 06:23 PM
In other words, if you try to understand Husserl's argument from within the conceptual framework of modern scienfitifc materialism?

So the argument that you have to "step back" from rationality only makes sense if you have already "stepped back" from rationality? That is about what I expected, but it's nice to have it confirmed.

I guess at this point Husserl would just nod. That's what the "epoche" is for - the very first point of Husserlian philosophy - you must "bracket" your beliefs about ontology.

If the very first point of his philosophy is that you must accept it prior to understanding it, his philosophy has got a problem.

You keep denying that Husserl is an idealist or dualist, but Husserl's position makes no sense unless you accept that immaterialist nonsense about qualia (or irreducible subjectivity, or direct mathematisation, it's all the same) has compelling merit. Unless immaterialism has something going for it there is no "crisis" to retreat from.

Husserl's innovation is to be an immaterialist to the extent of thinking that their ideas are not twaddle, and then taking an extra leap backward into fuzzy thinking and invented terminology (epoche, bracket, lifeworld etc). While he claims that he's not an immaterialist, he's really an immaterialist with extra nonsense on top.

Soapy Sam
1st April 2006, 06:25 PM
The question , "what colour is an atom " is literally meaningless in terms of the modern view of light. Colour is the response of a nervous system to light of a particular frequency. The same response , as Darat pointed out, can be obtained by stressing the sensory system. (Rubbing your eyeball, for example.) The colour exists only in the nervous system , nowhere else. Like beauty, it is a property of the beholder.
A single atom is too small to be seen by any light which a human eye can resolve. Therefore an atom has no colour. The reflection characteristics which cause the eye to see an apple as red are macroscopic characteristics of the apple's surface.

There is no problem here, physical or metaphysical, save absence of a common definition of "colour".

Trees falling in forests likewise, make no noise. They merely displace air.
Noises are artefacts of nervous systems, responding to pressure waves.

Having your head blown off by high explosive is the same phenomenon, but with a higher intensity pressure wavefront.
No metaphysical problem there , either.

JustGeoff- I'm sorry, but I truly think your OP is largely based on false assumptions about reality. Or I am missing something incredibly deep. In particular, I concur with Kevin Lowe that the paragraph he criticised contains no meaningful content whatever. If you still feel it does, could you summarise the nub of it in (say) twenty words?

ETA- For some reason my browser showed me only page 1 of this thread till I posted and was shown pages 2-5. I'll read them now to see if this post has already been answered / made redundant / whatever.

Hm.
"You can experience green. You can't mathematise green."- JustGeoff
I'm unsure what "mathematise" means. Another POV is that spheres are real objects , easily modelled by the brain, which is rather good at modelling real objects. Green is itself something created in the brain- and the brain is not at all good at modelling it's own internal processes.
(Likewise it's easy to create mathematical descriptions of external intangibles like acceleration, but hard to do the same for internal intangibles, like embarassment).

-and again-
"A perfect sphere can be imagined, and resembles a life-world sphere. No amount of imagining of wavelengths can resemble green. No amount of imagining of thermometer readings can resemble the feeling of warmth."
Here you go again, confusing external reality and internal models of external reality
You are dead wrong and I know from personal experience.
I can't imagine a perfect sphere. (I have no visual imagination whatsoever- I'm one of the freaks Paul mentioned on page 1). On the other hand, not only can I imagine warmth very easily, I can do it so well that as a kid I often sat in a room cold enough for ice to form inside the windows, while feeling as warm as toast because I thought I had turned the heater on.
(This is neither a joke , nor an exaggeration. I can still quite easily imagine my hand heating up. It feels hot to me, but thermometers show quite clearly that the skin temperature is unchanged. This is a trivial variation in neural wiring. I suppose Husserl wasn't like that , knew nobody like that and so, reasonably enough, assumed nobody was. I wonder if he bothered to ask?)
I haven't actually tried this in years. Yes, I can imagine warmth very pleasantly. I imagine bodily warmth of course, because my nervous system is simply recreating the memory of the sensation- just as I can play a symphony in my head by replaying the memory of hearing it. That's what imagination is- replaying of internal models of external reality.

Bugger!- Now I started I can't stop. The back of my neck feels like I've got a hot water bottle on it. It's an incredibly funny sensation.

Darat
2nd April 2006, 03:10 AM
...snip...I can accept that. But I don't see where that is any different than saying a rock has a "built in" response to gravity. Which leads us right back to a tautology.

What tautology?

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 04:44 AM
This is an example of why I said philosophy needs to get a bit more up to date! This particular question was answered, by physicists quite a while ago.

(ETA) A good introductionary site on this matter can be found here: http://www-spof.gsfc.nasa.gov/stargaze/Sun4spec.htm

Darat, this was a reaction to a quote that wasn't mine. It was 69Dodge's. It just got accidentally attached to the end of my post.

Darat
2nd April 2006, 04:47 AM
Sorry for any confusion.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 04:48 AM
I understand that an idealized sphere does not exist. Nevertheless, what is wrong with asking questions about constructing one and then comparing it to lifeworld spheres? It's not that I think this tells us anything interesting, but it doesn't seem like a completely bogus exercise.

~~ Paul

That's because it is bogus. As soon as you construct such a thing, it is not the perfect sphere of geometry. There is only one of those. You can't make one. It is the "guiding pole" which you can try to emulate, but never succeed.

Darat
2nd April 2006, 04:49 AM
That's because it is bogus. As soon as you construct such a thing, it is not the perfect sphere of geometry. There is only one of those. You can't make one. It is the "guiding pole" which you can try to emulate, but never succeed.

How big is the perfect sphere of geometry?

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 05:21 AM
Ontological materialism might be that. I agree that anyone claiming to be an ontological materialist should reconsider the coherency of their claim.

Well, that's all good then. :)

When they disappear, are they replaced by something, or do we all get to agree that metaphysics is fundamentally meaningless and then go about enjoying life free of the oppression of trying to understand "what actually exists"?

Husserl was followed by Heidegger, who was as keen to destroy ontology as you are. But your question is really "So once you accept Husserl, where do you go from here?" The answer is that it should hopefully have several consequences:

(1) It opens up the possibility of phenomenology as a discipline worth taking an interest in, which is not true if your mind is chained to materialism.

(2) It should prevent the worst excesses of scientism.

Husserl was writing at a rather different time in history, and he is interested in the whole of the human predicament as it looked in pre-WWII Germany. He thinks these ontological misunderstandings have shaped and dominated all thought about the world - which is probably less true now than it was at the time.

On a more practical level, it has something to say about the future of cognitive science, which, somewhat late in the day, is rediscovering the relevance of Husserl to the problems it is trying to cope with. There is currently a movement of people on both sides of the divide between cognitive science and phenomenology trying to build a bridge between the two. One lot are trying to "naturalize phenomenology": http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0804736103/102-9991504-5118568?v=glance&n=283155. The other lot are trying to shift cognitive science away from functionalism towards a position which takes the key insights of phenomenology into account, hence the current focus on "embodiment" and dynamic systems whilst computationalism slowly whithers away. Cognitive science (as it was until recently) is the paradigm example of what happens if you make the mistakes Husserl is warning about. There was a missed encounter between cognitive science and phenomenology.

The real significance is one of freedom from metaphysical oppression, as you rightly suggest. But this freedom must go both ways! There is a particularly nasty type of metaphysical oppression called scientism, which attempts to devalue, attack and pour scorn on anything which isn't implicitly based upon the materialistic way of looking at the world. Every other viewpoint is presented as at best worthless and probably dangerous. Not only this, but these views are often accompanied by a claim of scientific and intellectual authority. One of the main reasons that the debates at this site are so frequently bad-tempered, out-of-hand and plain vicious is the violent resistance to any attempt to show that a non-materialistic interpretation of the world is even remotely plausible or worth consideration. Just look at Kevin's posts, which I continue to fail to respond to because they don't even engage with the argument.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 05:42 AM
So the argument that you have to "step back" from rationality only makes sense if you have already "stepped back" from rationality? That is about what I expected, but it's nice to have it confirmed.

I suppose I should at least thank you for providing an example of exactly the attitude that Husserl wishes to attack. You are claiming here that in order to "step back" from "the natural attitude" (i.e. the attitude of "commonsense realism"/materialism) you also have to "step back from rationality".

If the very first point of his philosophy is that you must accept it prior to understanding it, his philosophy has got a problem.

I simply do not know how to respond to this. You are basically saying "No, I'm not willing to suspend judgement about my metaphysical beliefs, because any suspension of judgement entails that I have already accepted somebody-else's position. i.e. "My mind is closed! GO AWAY. Don't come back. " :D

While he claims that he's not an immaterialist, he's really an immaterialist with extra nonsense on top.

Again, no idea how to respond to this, apart from to highlight your posts as an example of the metaphysical oppression and closed-mindedness that Husserl has identified as a problem. I can't really react to your posts directly because you aren't willing to accept line #1 of the argument which is "Please suspend judgement." It's like trying to have a debate with a creationist who won't even agree to consider any position which contradicts the Bible, on the grounds that doing so amounts to accepting atheism before the argument got started. What's the point in talking to such a person? None, as far as I can see.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 05:45 AM
How big is the perfect sphere of geometry?

VERY good question. The answer is that it does not have a size. *unlike any sphere that exists in the lifeworld*

Kevin_Lowe
2nd April 2006, 06:42 AM
I suppose I should at least thank you for providing an example of exactly the attitude that Husserl wishes to attack. You are claiming here that in order to "step back" from "the natural attitude" (i.e. the attitude of "commonsense realism"/materialism) you also have to "step back from rationality".

I think it is a fair characterisation. You call on us to "suspend judgement" of the fundamental premise of your whole chain of argument - the claim that there is a "crisis" which requires a response.

You can't just arbitrarily declare one of your premises to be out of bounds to criticism.

The immaterialist arguments do not hold up, and if the immaterialist arguments do not hold up there is no crisis.

I simply do not know how to respond to this. You are basically saying "No, I'm not willing to suspend judgement about my metaphysical beliefs, because any suspension of judgement entails that I have already accepted somebody-else's position. i.e. "My mind is closed! GO AWAY. Don't come back. " :D

It is very simple. You need to show first of all that this phantom crisis actually exists. Having done that, you would then be entitled to advance a solution to the proposed crisis.

What you seem to be doing is arguing that anyone who wants to argue about whether or not the sky is falling is being closed-minded, because we should be figuring out what we are going to do about the fact that the sky is falling.

Again, no idea how to respond to this, apart from to highlight your posts as an example of the metaphysical oppression and closed-mindedness that Husserl has identified as a problem. I can't really react to your posts directly because you aren't willing to accept line #1 of the argument which is "Please suspend judgement."

I will break it down into simple yes or no questions.

Q1) Do you believe that immaterialism is a compelling thesis? Yes or no.

Q2) Does this crisis you invoke consist of the conflict between immaterialism and materialism? Yes or no.

Q3) Is the crisis you invoke a vital part of the argumentative progression that leads you to accept Husserl's theories? Yes or no.

I believe based upon what you have posted so far that you will answer "Yes" to each question. If so, I think you will be able to see where your argumentative progression comes unglued. You have to believe in immaterialism before you can believe in the crisis, and you have to believe in the crisis before you can believe Husserl's response to the crisis.

It's like trying to have a debate with a creationist who won't even agree to consider any position which contradicts the Bible, on the grounds that doing so amounts to accepting atheism before the argument got started. What's the point in talking to such a person? None, as far as I can see.

I think you might be projecting a little here.

You don't get to arbitrarily declare belief in your crisis as a starting point, and write off everyone who questions that assumption as closed-minded. I'm not assuming any starting point other than rationality, but you can be very sure that I want to see a rational argument for a crisis in materialism before I accept the need to embrace alternatives.

Especially if the alternative is to write first-person descriptive essays, tack on a few footnotes to Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, and call it "research".

Darat
2nd April 2006, 06:44 AM
VERY good question. The answer is that it does not have a size. *unlike any sphere that exists in the lifeworld*

How big is the lifeworld sphere?

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 07:58 AM
How big is the lifeworld sphere?

There are many lifeworld spheres. They are all sorts of sizes. How long is a piece of string? :)

Lifeworld spheres differ from a geometrical sphere in that they do have a size. Do you follow?

Darat
2nd April 2006, 08:07 AM
There are many lifeworld spheres. They are all sorts of sizes. How long is a piece of string? :)

Lifeworld spheres differ from a geometrical sphere in that they do have a size. Do you follow?

I do but you appear not to... ;)

Seriously consider the idea that we can "apparently" imagine a perfect sphere yet you have just said that the perfect sphere has no size - how do you imagine perfect sphere when it has no size? I put it that this again shows this is a matter of language and assuming "weaknesses" in a given language are somehow significant of anything more then a weakness in that language.

Both you and I cannot imagine a perfect sphere, that is just words, all that the "perfect sphere" actually means is the math equation that's been posted here a few times. You are letting the limitations of the English language trip you up.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 08:16 AM
Kevin,

I think it is a fair characterisation. You call on us to "suspend judgement" of the fundamental premise of your whole chain of argument - the claim that there is a "crisis" which requires a response.

Not quite. It isn't a premise. It certainly isn't "assumed". Husserl assumes that peoples "natural attitude" is to do the opposite.

http://www.ids.ias.edu/~piet/publ/other/husserlcircle.html

The Role of Husserl's Epoche for Science - A View from a Physicist

1. A Rude Awakening

For almost half a century, since the end of the second world war, discussions about the role of science in society focused mostly on the consequences of applications of science and technology. Among ways of knowing reality, science reigned supreme, and there was little real doubt about the fact that science alone produced true (reliable, objective) knowledge about the structure of the world. Or so it seemed to virtually all scientists and most intellectuals.

[...]

2. Counter Currents

Curiously, while some scientists felt called upon to defend the forts of rationality against perceived attacks from the outside, other scientists quietly began to form study groups on themes that had been more or less taboo for half a century. Conferences on the scientific study of consciousness appeared, and workshops on science and religion were held. Suddenly, many scientists came out of the closet, so to speak, happily surprised that they no longer had a need to wash their mouth when uttering words like consciousness' and spirituality' among their peers.

Clearly, science is in a period of transition with respect to the question of how it sees itself. Age-old philosophical questions, which traditionally had been asked by many leading scientists, once again can be heard. Future historians will have a field day trying to explain why philosophy had been declared virtually off limits in the scientific community during the second half of the twentieth century. Was it simply arrogance, triggered by the plethora of new scientific discoveries, which seemed to obviate any need to ask others for advice? Was it a reaction to the misuse of philosophy in the hands of the Nazis, which seemed to tar all forms of deep philosophical questioning in the eyes of many scientists? Was it the shock of a loss of innocence, after the design and use of the first nuclear weapons, which made scientists reluctant to ask the deepest questions?

Similarly, future historians have a rich palette of possible reasons to choose from, when trying to understand why the anti-philosophy era began to wane. What happened in the nineties? The generation that had fought in the second world war, and had helped to rebuild the economy thereafter, had retired. The new generation holding power had finished their studies in the sixties, that period heady with idealism followed by the disillusionment of the Vietnam War and Watergate. Wouldn't it be natural if they would show different priorities in evaluating science, with perhaps more of an open mind towards the inherent limits of the dogma of objectivity that had ruled science for so long?

[...]

3. Which Direction to Explore?

With all these signs of a new willingness to scrutinize the underlying assumptions of science, and to explore alternative interpretations, the burning question is: where to look? In other words: in which direction can we search for new perspectives; how can we gain a new type of innocence, that knows to ask questions where others run past?

Perhaps we are ready to return to the old question "What is Reality?", with a new form of openness, which has been lacking for at least half a century.

[...]

Within Western philosophy, I find Husserl's epoche to be a useful tool for making systematic explorations of tacit assumptions underlying our everyday view of the world, and I feel that its application to science can hold great promise. Briefly, the epoche is a form of suspense of judgment -- a way to let the phenomena speak while bracketing' the usual presuppositions that are in force in any given situation. I see two major applications for the epoche in science, one internal, and one external.

[...]

4. Internal Applications of the Epoche in Science

The method of phenomenology, including the use of a form of epoche, can be found everywhere in science, in the actual way that scientists engage in scientific research. It does not carry a specific name, and it is not seen to be connected in any way with the school of philosophy called phenomenology. Most scientists probably have never heard of the school of phenomenology, and hardly any of them know the word epoche. And yet something akin to the epoche is being taught implicitly in any good science class.

All major breakthroughs in science stem from a form of epoche. Galileo, when looking at how the Sun seems to revolve around the Earth, bracketed the common belief that the Earth itself is immovable. It was then easy to see that a rotating Earth and a fixed Sun would give rise to exactly the same phenomena. By separating the phenomena from the belief structures in which these phenomena had always been embedded, he found new interpretations which opened new doors for scientific exploration.

Newton, when interpreting gravity as action at a distance, bracketed the belief that any form of action should occur through material contact. Einstein explored the consequences of Maxwell's equations, while bracketing all the presuppositions that had been used to derive those equations in the first place, including the absolute character of space and time. From purely phenomenological thought experiments, he thus derived the relativity of space and time, together with the precise rules according to which they can be transformed into each other.

Bohr bracketed the notion that a particle must have a definite state before one makes a measurement, when he developed his Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. The list can be extended almost indefinitely, from the most important breakthroughs down to the day-to-day little aha's of laboratory research and pencil-and-paper derivations in theoretical research. Whenever we seem to be stuck, we `wiggle the wires' of our presuppositions, to see where we can find a way out, by bracketing one or more of those presuppositions.

I will break it down into simple yes or no questions.

Q1) Do you believe that immaterialism is a compelling thesis? Yes or no.

IRRELEVANT.

Q2) Does this crisis you invoke consist of the conflict between immaterialism and materialism? Yes or no.

NO. That is merely a symptom of a bigger problem.

Q3) Is the crisis you invoke a vital part of the argumentative progression that leads you to accept Husserl's theories? Yes or no.

YES.

I believe based upon what you have posted so far that you will answer "Yes" to each question.

Well, you were wrong. I don't think you have any idea what this thread is actually about. You're just trying to turn it into the well-worn argument about materialism and idealism. This thread is an attempt to defuse that argument. You keep trying to find the fuse so you can light it.

You have to believe in immaterialism before you can believe in the crisis, and you have to believe in the crisis before you can believe Husserl's response to the crisis.

You have got no idea what this thread is about. The above statement shows that you have completely missed the point in what Husserl is trying to do, how he is doing it, why he is doing it, or what the implications of this are. The prime reason you don't understand is because you are unwilling to carry out the epoche. You are a walking, talking example of why the epoche is neccesary. Without it, Husserl is practically incomprehensible.

Geoff posted: It's like trying to have a debate with a creationist who won't even agree to consider any position which contradicts the Bible, on the grounds that doing so amounts to accepting atheism before the argument got started. What's the point in talking to such a person? None, as far as I can see.

Kevin replied: I think you might be projecting a little here.

No, I'm not. Your mind is as closed as a creationists. You are not willing to suspend judgement about your decision to view everything in terms of materialism. You are not even willing to think about doing so. Not until somebody can come along and undermine your viewpoint on your terms. Creationists do EXACTLY that. There is no way they will even carry out the process of thinking it through from somebody-else's point of view. They already "know" there is no point in doing so. They are only engaged in the argument at all because there are claims at the end of it which they wish to challenge. These they challenge from within their restricted belief system, the challenges always fail because they have entirely missed the point, but they remain convinced that not only is their think-box the "true" one, but also that their refutation of the opposing position has succeeded.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 08:22 AM
I do but you appear not to... ;)

Seriously consider the idea that we can "apparently" imagine a perfect sphere yet you have just said that the perfect sphere has no size - how do you imagine perfect sphere when it has no size?

Easily. You just imagine a sphere. What size is it? It could be any size. Unless you also imagine something from the lifeworld like a human being next to it, it has no size.

I put it that this again shows this is a matter of language and assuming "weaknesses" in a given language are somehow significant of anything more then a weakness in that language.

Think about your own example. You have demonstrated the point very well. A geometrical sphere has no size. Thanks for giving me a new line of argument. :D

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 08:38 AM
I'm afraid that I'm a little confused. Why would the epoche require anyone to suspend a belief in materialism to answer questions related to consciousness? Would it not simply require us to suspend a belief in the simplistic ways we view neural networks?

You seem to be pushing rather hard that suspension of belief in materialism is the only way to go. Why? It sounds as though you have already made up your mind.

Darat
2nd April 2006, 08:49 AM
Easily. You just imagine a sphere. What size is it? It could be any size. Unless you also imagine something from the lifeworld like a human being next to it, it has no size.

You are joking aren't you?

Think about your own example. You have demonstrated the point very well. A geometrical sphere has no size. Thanks for giving me a new line of argument. :D

Oops looks like you're not. :(

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 08:55 AM
I'm afraid that I'm a little confused. Why would the epoche require anyone to suspend a belief in materialism to answer questions related to consciousness?

It requires you to suspend belief in ANY metaphysical position in order to be able to think freely about the historical process which led to its rise.

Would it not simply require us to suspend a belief in the simplistic ways we view neural networks?

Neural networks are only of relevance at this point if you have failed to carry out the epoche. So, no.

You seem to be pushing rather hard that suspension of belief in materialism is the only way to go. Why? It sounds as though you have already made up your mind.

It is the other way around. Those who fail to carry out an epoche (in any situation) have, by definition, already made up their mind. You have got it exactly backwards.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 09:17 AM
It requires you to suspend belief in ANY metaphysical position in order to be able to think freely about the historical process which led to its rise.

Why? I use the examples you cited above as my jumping off place. Galileo, Bohr, etc. did not relinquish belief in materialism to arrive at their ideas. Neither did Einstein. They simply relinquished some other cherished beliefs.

Our minds are not complety ruled by the metaphysical position that we decide upon. We are all aware of competing metaphysical positions, so we already have competing views of the universe.

The sorts of scientific changes that Thomas Kuhn wrote about were possible only because we are not monolithic in our thinking.

I don't see why it is necessary for anyone to give up on materialism even provisionally to see through problems. At least it provides a structure for solving the problem.

Neural networks are only of relevance at this point if you have failed to carry out the epoche.

Why? Because you have already decided that there must be some other answer than materialism? Could we not be throwing out the baby with the bath water?

Those who fail to carry out an epoche (in any situation) have, by definition, already made up their mind.

But you seem to be deciding what the epoche must consist in beforehand. How do you know what sort of epoche is necessary to move foreward in explaining consciousness? Why must it include suspension of belief in materialism? I really haven't heard a cogent answer to this except for your bare statement that it is necessary. Why is it necessary? Why isn't some other change in thought a possibility?

Piggy
2nd April 2006, 09:26 AM
Easily. You just imagine a sphere. What size is it? It could be any size.
Research doesn't support this claim.

Suppose I imagine an apple. What happens when I do this is that various parts of my brain activate and I have an experience vaguely akin to what I experience when I actually sense an apple. But it is partial. (If I'm unconscious, e.g. dreaming, or hallucinating, it's much more complete.)

The brain uses the same "circuits" when imagining as when experiencing. In fact, some really fascinating recent studies have shown that the more vivid and intentional the imagination, the more difficult it is for our memories to distinguish imagination from experience.

2 facts that have emerged from "imagination" studies:
1. Human imagination is not abstract, not Platonic -- one does not imagine an ideal apple, for example.
2. Human imagination is incomplete -- one cannot imagine in full detail while also being fully conscious and aware of the distinction between reality and imagination.

I doubt that it's even possible to imagine a sphere, beyond simply thinking of the terms and having a vague sense of roundness.

Yes, it is possible for the brain to entertain the notion "sphere of indefinite size", but your claim goes beyond that, and is (imo) unsupported.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 09:39 AM
Why? I use the examples you cited above as my jumping off place. Galileo, Bohr, etc. did not relinquish belief in materialism to arrive at their ideas. Neither did Einstein. They simply relinquished some other cherished beliefs.

Galileo never believed in materialism in the first place. This is one of the central planks in Husserl's argument. As for the founders of QM? Idealists and neutral monists, every single one of them. (Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Eddington, Planck, Pauli, Sir James Jeans...)

I don't see why it is necessary for anyone to give up on materialism even provisionally to see through problems. At least it provides a structure for solving the problem.

What if the structure is the problem?

But you seem to be deciding what the epoche must consist in beforehand.

??? It consists of a suspension of belief. How can that be a foregone conclusion?

How do you know what sort of epoche is necessary to move foreward in explaining consciousness?

That is an attempt at an analytical question directed at contintental philosophy. If you are asking "what is your epistemological justification for the epoche" then I just shrug. Phenomenology isn't a branch of analytical philosophy. That's why it doesn't start by trying to provide epistemological foundations. If you start down that path, you end up with Kant. Husserl is already well aware of Kant.

Why must it include suspension of belief in materialism?

Because without that suspension of belief, everything is interpreted according to the pre-destined conclusion. You are doing it continually. All of your questions indicate an inability or unwillingess to seriously consider somebody-else's viewpoint from their viewpoint. You are only willing to re-specify all the questions according to your own. The result is that you never stand a chance of understanding Husserl's point of view.

I really haven't heard a cogent answer to this except for your bare statement that it is necessary. Why is it necessary? Why isn't some other change in thought a possibility?

Because the modern world, especially the scientific world, has spent far too long not being able to think outside a certain sort of box that prevents it from understanding some of the most important questions that have ever been asked. Did you read the article I posted earlier today about why the epoche is relevant for science?

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 09:45 AM
Research doesn't support this claim.

No research is required. You can verify it by thinking about it. :)

Suppose I imagine an apple. What happens when I do this is that various parts of my brain activate and I have an experience vaguely akin to what I experience when I actually sense an apple. But it is partial. (If I'm unconscious, e.g. dreaming, or hallucinating, it's much more complete.)

The brain uses the same "circuits" when imagining as when experiencing.

Yes, it does, but they do not fire at the same intensity, and not all of the same parts are activated in the same way. Lucid dreams and brain-in-a-vat hallucinations the only cases when a brain state is acheived that is the same as waking perception. Imagination is phenomenologically different. It is not the same experience to percieve an object as it is to imagine it. If you think these are the same, then something has gone wrong.

In fact, some really fascinating recent studies have shown that the more vivid and intentional the imagination, the more difficult it is for our memories to distinguish imagination from experience.

2 facts that have emerged from "imagination" studies:
1. Human imagination is not abstract, not Platonic -- one does not imagine an ideal apple, for example.
2. Human imagination is incomplete -- one cannot imagine in full detail while also being fully conscious and aware of the distinction between reality and imagination.

I doubt that it's even possible to imagine a sphere, beyond simply thinking of the terms and having a vague sense of roundness.

Of course it's possible to imagine a sphere. And your comments aren't really relevant. If you imagine a sphere, and nothing else, then it could be any size you like. The only reason that spherical objects in the lifeworld can be determined in size is by comparison to other objects in your visual field and by the effects of moving relative to the spherical object. If you imagine no other object than the sphere then neither of these ways of determining size are available. Hence, an imagined geometrical sphere has no size. QED.

Yes, it is possible for the brain to entertain the notion "sphere of indefinite size", but your claim goes beyond that, and is (imo) unsupported.

It's not "possible". It is neccesarily the case. An imagined geometrical sphere, on it's own cannot have a size.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 09:49 AM
Because without that suspension of belief, everything is interpreted according to the pre-destined conclusion. You are doing it continually. All of your questions indicate an inability or unwillingess to seriously consider somebody-else's viewpoint from their viewpoint. You are only willing to re-specify all the questions according to your own. The result is that you never stand a chance of understanding Husserl's point of view.

Quite frankly I don't see how you could ever make that claim having never met me, having never discussed any other matter with me and not even knowing what my philosophical underpinnings are when I merely ask you a series of questions.

What I am suggesting is that your insistence on undermining materialism may be going to far. What if it isn't necessary? How do you know what type of revolution in thought is necessary? How do you know what must be suspended? What if suspending materialism is the wrong thing to do and what we really need is a reworking of the way that we look at other local problems in the field of cognition?

I repeat, I don't think anyone thinks as monolithically as you say that they do. Being well aware of the Platonism that you suggest at times amongst various other metaphysical positions, I can easily see things from those perspectives. I reject some of them rather quickly because they seem silly to me.

It does not mean that because any one person argues from a particular perspective that they are incapable of seeing other persepectives. I think you are creating a controversy that is not real. I think you are constructing people that are not real. I challenge you to tell me exactly what it is that I think and why since you seem to know such much about me.

Again, changes in scientific perspective would not be possible without our knowing the various possible positions to which we may turn.

Did you read the article I posted earlier today about why the epoche is relevant for science?

Um, yes, since I already told you that I used it as a jumping off place for my comments, I think it is safe to assume that I did.

I don't agree that we think so monolithically as some would have it.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 10:05 AM
Let me re-phrase this.

Basically the epoche consists in suspeding particular beliefs in order to re-think a problem, correct?

You have seemingly already decided what it is that must be suspended in order to move foreward. But why should I believe you?

We have known precious little about brain function until very recently, so I think it is a tad premature to suggest that materialism must go for us to understand consciousness.

Now it may simply be that I have a radically different understanding of what materialism is compared to you especially as it relates to brain function, I don't know. But I honestly do not see why a belief in materialism is the problem when we have only just begun to explore this issue from a perspective (neural function and the new knowledge that we have of neural networks) that holds significant promise.

Why is your explanation of where the problem lies as far as consciousness is concerned the real problem?

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 10:15 AM
Quite frankly I don't see how you could ever make that claim having never met me, having never discussed any other matter with me and not even knowing what my philosophical underpinnings are when I merely ask you a series of questions.

The questions you chose to ask were enough. The only way I can demonstrate this to you is to give you the creationist version of the same thing....

What I am suggesting is that your insistence on undermining materialism may be going to far. What if it isn't necessary?

"What I am suggesting is that your insistence on undermining the bible may be going too far. What if it isn't necessary?"

What if suspending materialism is the wrong thing to do and what we really need is a reworking of the way that we look at other local problems in the field of cognition?

"What if suspending our faith in the accuracy of the bible is the wrong things to do and what we really need is a reworking of the way we interpret other evidence in the Bible?"

I repeat, I don't think anyone thinks as monolithically as you say that they do.

Not even creationists?

I reject some of them rather quickly because they seem silly to me.

"I know about evolution...it seems rather silly to me."

How could you ever de-brainwash the creationist who won't even temporarily suspend his most basic belief about the world? You can't. So you might as well not bother to try. Unless he is willing to make the effort to understand evolution from the point of view of the scientist, he will never understand it. Unless you are willing to try to understand Husserl from a ontologically-neutral perspective, you will never understand it.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 10:24 AM
Let me re-phrase this.

Basically the epoche consists in suspeding particular beliefs in order to re-think a problem, correct?

That is a general definition of epoche. In this case we are talking about a phenomenological epoche.

You have seemingly already decided what it is that must be suspended in order to move foreward. But why should I believe you?

You aren't supposed to believe Husserl until you have finished hearing him out.

The problem is that until you have carried out the epoche and tried to understand Husserl from his point of view, I can't even answer that question. Husserl is well aware of this. It is explained quite clearly that this epoche isn't easy, and seems like a strange thing to do. If you want to find out why should do it, you have to do it. I cannot provide you with any further justification - that comes from what follows in the writings of Husserl and those who followed him - a vast body of work that nobody has even mentioned so far.

We have known precious little about brain function until very recently, so I think it is a tad premature to suggest that materialism must go for us to understand consciousness.

All you are doing is trying to change the topic of conversation to something else i.e. materialistic theories of consciousness. You might have noticed that I keep failing to take the bait.

But I honestly do not see why a belief in materialism is the problem when we have only just begun to explore this issue from a perspective (neural function and the new knowledge that we have of neural networks) that holds significant promise.

I am not going to get dragged into that debate, because that debate is exactly what Husserl wants to avoid. This is a different argument.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 10:25 AM
If you cannot refute what I say and simply must revert to what amounts to an ad hominem attack then I don't see much sense in proceeding.

Do you honestly contend that I cannot understand Platonic thought simply because I reject it? I must accept the idealist position in order to understand it? My years of studying and reading philosophy were all for naught because I reject some of the ideas that I read? What kind of tripe is this?

Is everyone who possibly disagrees with you on the level of a creationist?

You have some real issues that I think you had better start working on. Accusing people of a certain form of thought is not a reification of your belief. If this is what you really believe then I must wonder why anyone ever engages you in any conversation.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 10:32 AM
All you are doing is trying to change the topic of conversation to something else i.e. materialistic theories of consciousness. You might have noticed that I keep failing to take the bait.

But that is what this is all about isn't it? You started a thread about a some comments of Dawkins and Dennett specifically concerning the state of knowledge of consciousness and spun off into this thread which had the same underpinnings.

Now you are accusing several people, me included, of being so thoroughly encased in a particular frame of thought that we cannot possibly see things from another perspective. When challenged on this opinion you essentially equate us with creationists. On what gorounds do you make that assessment? How is it that you know our thought so thoroughly that you know it is impossible for any of us to even think from another perspective? How is it that you know that none of us have gone through other thinking experiences that allow us to see things from several perspectives?

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 10:35 AM
If you cannot refute what I say and simply must revert to what amounts to an ad hominem attack then I don't see much sense in proceeding.

I am sorry. I don't want you to feel like I am attacking you personally. I have the deepest sympathy for the world-view you are defending, having spent much of my life defending it myself. What I am attacking is the position you are trying to defend, and I am likening your way of thinking to that of a creationist because it is the only way I can think of to get the message across. I am guessing that you do indeed understand what is wrong with the way creationists think. So do ex-creationists, who tend to end up being the harshest of all the critics of creationism. I am an ex-materialist, who eventually came to realise that I too had been thinking inside a box, and that this had obstructed my progress in more way than one.

I apologise once more, I hope you understand that I am dealing with many people in this thread, and I am accustomed to finding a particular sort of closed-mindedness. If I have mis-identified you as one of those then I am sorry. But your posts sounded just like a "true-believer" in materialism.

Do you honestly contend that I cannot understand Platonic thought simply because I reject it? I must accept the idealist position in order to understand it?

No. But I do believe you must sometimes suspend judgement about something in order to be able to understand it from a novel point of view.

Is everyone who possibly disagrees with you on the level of a creationist?

No. But many of them share the creationists inability to think outside their particular box.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 10:42 AM
But that is what this is all about isn't it? You started a thread about a some comments of Dawkins and Dennett specifically concerning the state of knowledge of consciousness and spun off into this thread which had the same underpinnings.

Now you are accusing several people, me included, of being so thoroughly encased in a particular frame of thought that we cannot possibly see things from another perspective. When challenged on this opinion you essentially equate us with creationists. On what gorounds do you make that assessment? How is it that you know our thought so thoroughly that you know it is impossible for any of us to even think from another perspective? How is it that you know that none of us have gone through other thinking experiences that allow us to see things from several perspectives?

The individual who most deserved that description is Kevin Lowe. SOme of your posts sounded like his. I am sorry if I misunderstood you. But I stand by my assessment that many materialists are as incapable of understanding their opponents as creationists are, and for exactly the same reasons. The problem is that it is all too easy to see the holes in other peoples positions from your own perspective but all too easy to be blind to the holes in your own position, which are only visible from a different perspective to your own.

For the record, I believe that materialism has been falsified repeatedly. I realise that you do not accept those falsifications. I get both sides of this. I am studying both philosophy and cognitive science. The people in the informatics department are convinced Dennett is one of (if not THE) most important living philosophers. Most of the people in the philosophy department think he's crazy (and largely irrelevant.)

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 10:46 AM
Wasp,

Do you recognise my characterisation of the structural flaws in the way creationists think, and the fact that those flaws make it utterly impossible to ever get through to them?

Geoff

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 10:49 AM
What I am attacking is the position you are trying to defend,

If you look closely you will see that I am not trying to defend it. I am arguing that your particular approach of assuming that it may be the problem may itself be part of the problem.

I am an ex-materialist, who eventually came to realise that I too had been thinking inside a box, and that this had obstructed my progress in more way than one.

That is perfectly fine, but it is not necessarily the case that all materialists are stuck in their position and see no other way of viewing a problem. There are also ex-idealists in the materialist camp and many others who have dabbled with several different ways of thinking.

If it helps you to to see things differently by working from a different perspective, then I say go for it. But please do not mistake the position for the problem -- the problem is that many people do fix themselves on a particular way of thiking an are not capable of seeing beyond it. That is true of every metaphysical position, however, so the problem itself is not in the position, but in the person.

But I do believe you must sometimes suspend judgement about something in order to be able to understand it from a novel point of view.

I certainly hope that there is noone who would disagree with you on that. The real question then becomes, suspend judgment on what?

But many of them share the creationists inability to think outside their particular box.

Bigots come in all shapes, sizes and ideologic perspectives. But it is not the position's fault.

I think we can let bygones be bygones and all agree that looking outside the box is a terrific (actually indispensable) idea.

We must be all aware, however, that many of these problems, as Darat continues to bring up (and I would assume you would agree since you quote Wittgenstein in your sig) are linguistic in origin. Many are conceptual and can simply be resolved with different sorts of perspectives -- like the orange/atom issue, which simply represents different levels of description. It may be that much of consciousness can be explained by similar means if the materialist explanations hold -- that thoughts are neuron arrays in action. The thought is merely a different level of description of the underlying process (neural firing) but does not describe a metaphysically distinct "thing". It is certainly possible. I don't think we are near to fully explaining it, however.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 11:00 AM
Do you recognise my characterisation of the structural flaws in the way creationists think, and the fact that those flaws make it utterly impossible to ever get through to them?

Yes, and for those who fully identify with a particular way of thinking and insulate themselves from any other approach -- "your scientific facts are just the work of the devil, my mamma told me about people like you" -- your assessment is spot on. Unfortunately there are people who do think like that and will not allow any other perspective to enter their brains. But I don't think they are in the majority. I think they are extremely dangerous, though, and can warp others views. So I can understand some of your invective.

As far as Dennett is concerned, I just think he's a terrible writer.

One piece of advice, if you haven't considered it already -- you might want to invest in a series of courses in neuroscience and spend some time thinking about the way the brain works in detail. Our current computer models are nowhere close. They miss the constant cycling of information that occurs in the brain with the looping of information from subcortical to cortical structures and spend too much time on linear processing. At least parallel processing and the idea of neural nets has entered the picture, but the little bit I know of the field seems far off what the brain seems to do.

I don't particularly like Sam Harris and disagree with some of his assessments in his "End of Faith" book, but I think he got one thing right in his approach to life and learing -- he studied philosophy and then went on to study neuroscience.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 11:01 AM
If you look closely you will see that I am not trying to defend it. I am arguing that your particular approach of assuming that it may be the problem may itself be part of the problem.

OK. But you immediately followed it up with a bunch of arguments from cognitive science. The whole of cognitive science, at least until very recently indeed, is entrenched in the flawed thinking that Husserl is warning about. I have spent the last two years forcing a re-examination of the agenda in my cognitive science classes for the simple reason that it excludes most of the promising answers because they happen to agree with it's original hypothesis.

Here is part of an essay which explains why there is a problem:

In this essay I am going to argue that the mathematisation of nature to which Husserl refers certainly is an interesting object of philosophical study. Husserl is issuing a warning to the world, so perhaps the best place to start is where the consequences of the failure to heed Husserl's warning are currently most clearly exposed, and that is arguably in the current state of the discipline which calls itself "cognitive science" - a term which might have been applied to Husserl's own philosophy but which instead has come to refer to something so incompatible with phenomenology that one wonders whether a bridge between them could (or should) ever be built.

Cognitive science began as a discipline founded upon the hypothesis that minds were essentially no different to computational processes and it then proceeded to try to understand the mind upon that basis. That this approach is fundamentally in conflict with Husserl is made painfully clear in the opening paragraph of Daniel Dennett's "The Intentional Stance"1. Chapter 1 (entitled, somewhat ironically from a Husserllian viewpoint, "setting off on the right foot") asks that we grant that is reasonable, in this day and age, that we start our enquiries from the commonsense, objective, third person view of the world - and that such an assumption is warranted even if the object of study is the mind. This is the diametric reverse of Husserl's epoché, which insists we reserve judgement on such matters lest it cloud our view of "the things themselves" and distract us with endless unresolvable disputes about ontology and the nature of existence. Specifically, it forces cognitive science to be unable to cope with subjectivity and especially the idea of the subject itself. From that moment onwards cognitive science confidently marches in precisely the opposite direction to phenomenology – always trying to move away from subjectivity and toward the physical world. The result has been the hopeless struggle to reconcile the essentially subjective nature of mind with the objective nature of the mathematised physical world. At the start of the 21st century Cognitive Science stands accused of the following:
“Paradoxically, cognitive science was founded on a mistake. There is nothing necessarily fatal about founding an academic subject on a mistake; indeed many disciplines were founded on mistakes. Chemistry, for example, was founded on alchemy. However, a persistent adherence to the mistake is at best inefficient and an obstacle to progress. In the case of cognitive science the mistake was to suppose that the brain is a digital computer and the mind is a computer program.”
(John Searle)

For students of the philosophical foundations of Cognitive Science, most of whom are majoring in computer science or one of the social sciences, this can lead to a great deal of confusion. To illustrate the problem I can cite two very alternative ways of looking at the state of cognitive science. The first is from the section on philosophy in “Cognitive Science: An Introduction.”3, standard reading for new students to the subject:

“…we have also encountered some outstanding philosophical problems confronting cognitive science. There is the matter of which brand of functionalism looks best as an account of the mind-body-relation….”

In other words, we have a crisis but offered as alternative solutions is functionalism, functionalism or maybe functionalism. There is a failure to accept that the best account of the mind-body relation may not be functionalism at all. The second view comes from “The Taboo of Subjectivity”4, by B. Allan Wallace, a book which examines the historical and contemporary relationships between science, realism, materialism and scientism, and comes to much the same conclusions as Husserl.

(p161): “In recent years, proponents of eliminative materialism, including Patricia and Paul Churchland, have argued that subjectively experienced mental states do not exist, for no account of such states can be given in terms of neuroscience. Moreover, they present this theory as a fresh, astonishing hypothesis that should startle modern thinkers much as the heliocentric theory unsettled the scholastic contemporise of Galileo. Two things are indeed astonishing about this materialistic account of our existence: (1) that its advocates so enthusiastically embrace an unconfirmed, speculative theory that utterly denies the validity…of their personal inner life; and (2) that anybody believes there is anything fundamentally new in this updated version of materialistic reductionism.”

In order to understand the current problem, it may prove necessary to trace the genesis of the problem all the way back to its historical roots in antiquity and re-acquaint the scientific world with its own history and the series of changes that science itself has gone through since the time of Galileo. This is the strategy chosen both by Husserl and by Wallace.
According to Husserl, the original seeds of this mathematisation were planted with the arrival of Greek geometry. Geometric shapes differ from the shapes of the “life-world” in that they are perfect – they are the “guiding pole” to which we can attempt to move towards but can never, in reality, reach. Husserl places a great deal of emphasis on Galileo’s inheritance of Greek geometry. Geometrical shapes are in a sense an ontologically different sort of thing to the shapes we find in the real world in that they are idealised, perfect versions of shapes we find in the world we actually experience. Galileo’s mathematising project builds on geometry by setting science the task of finding a mathematical model of the behaviour of the physical world, further idealising our conception of nature. Husserl’s historical account of the process which followed emphasises the fact that the scientific world was never really aware of it occurring. There was no moment when objectivist physicalism took over, as a result of a conscious decision. The conscious decision was merely the mathematisation, and it was never intended to lead to the conflation of the life-world and the abstract model of physics. The point of view of Husserl, put rather crudely, is that modern materialistic science has a tendency to automatically think that the model is the world. They have “confused the map with the territory”, as it was put by Count Alfred Korzybski,5 who offered a solution to the problem by inventing a version of English called “E-Prime” which makes all forms of the verb “to be” illegal, forcing the user to work out what he really means every time he wants to say “is”. Under such rules, for example, statements like “subjective experiences are neural states” are deemed illegal, and one is forced to explain exactly what this means – with severe difficulty in this particular case.

Wallace more explicitly directs his attack on materialism, which is the result of the mathematisation rather than the mathematisation itself. Scientific materialism is portrayed by Wallace as having started taking on the characteristics of an unacknowledged form of religion itself, but it is scientism which is takes the brunt of Wallace’s criticism. It is so important for scientific thinking that it is never challenged, just as the Bible is not challenged by Christians. "Scientism" is defined by Wallace as going beyond the tenets of science and realism in that it asserts that materialistic science is “our only genuine source of knowledge about the world and the only way to understand humanity's place in that world.” Scientists rightly think of themselves as being as objective as possible at all times in their attempts to find a mathematical description of the behaviour life-world, and this is the legitimate role of science. However, this idealised mathematical description is just that and no more, yet it has been thoroughly incorporated into the mindset of most scientists that the real world is actually composed of the idealised entities of which the abstract physical model is composed i.e. there is usually a metaphysical assertion of materialism which has become so inextricably entangled with science itself that many people, scientists in particular, can no longer distinguish between empirical evidence and metaphysical speculation.

If you want an example of the essays I hand in to the COGS people, I can supply one of those too.

We must be all aware, however, that many of these problems, as Darat continues to bring up (and I would assume you would agree since you quote Wittgenstein in your sig) are linguistic in origin.

Excerpt from the same essay:

Husserl goes well beyond claiming there is a crisis in the sciences, and maybe he goes too far. These “Portentous misunderstandings”, says Husserl, “dominated all further development of views about the world up to the present day.” He ends by claiming that reflecting on the history of these ideas will “liberate us.” History has moved on since then. Logical Positivism has been and gone, the debates about quantum mechanics have brought the ontological confusions Husserl is talking about into sharp focus for a wide variety of people. The crisis in the sciences remains, but it is going too far to hold materialistic science responsible for the entire crisis of the modern western world. We face multiple crises – catastrophic climate change, the “clash of civilisations” and the problem of Israel, a pandemic of psychological/mental illness, and a looming oil and energy crisis that may yet result the end of the industrialised world as we know it – to mention only four of them. None of these problems are directly attributable to the ontological misunderstandings of objective science. If you want to trace their roots then I suspect you would need to go back much further than Greek geometry – back to the evolutionary history of the human race and the emergence of language and the abstract thought it makes possible.

It may be that much of consciousness can be explained by similar means if the materialist explanations hold -- that thoughts are neuron arrays in action. The thought is merely a different level of description of the underlying process (neural firing) but does not describe a metaphysically distinct "thing". It is certainly possible. I don't think we are near to fully explaining it, however.

What does "are" mean in the following sentence: "thoughts are neuron arrays in action"? This is exactly why I mentioned Korzybski and E-Prime in the essay.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 11:13 AM
Yes, and for those who fully identify with a particular way of thinking and insulate themselves from any other approach -- "your scientific facts are just the work of the devil, my mamma told me about people like you" -- your assessment is spot on. Unfortunately there are people who do think like that and will not allow any other perspective to enter their brains. But I don't think they are in the majority. I think they are extremely dangerous, though, and can warp others views. So I can understand some of your invective.

OK. My own take on this is particularly fierce, but I'd like to point out that I'm not like that when I'm in the philosophy department. When I am on this board, I am encountering far too many people who fall into the category above, and this is combined with the fact that I used to be one of them.

One piece of advice, if you haven't considered it already -- you might want to invest in a series of courses in neuroscience and spend some time thinking about the way the brain works in detail.

I have encountered some areas of neuroscience. They are options on my course. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about how the brain works in detail. What, in particular, are you refering to?

Our current computer models are nowhere close. They miss the constant cycling of information that occurs in the brain with the looping of information from subcortical to cortical structures and spend too much time on linear processing.

They miss a lot more besides that.

At least parallel processing and the idea of neural nets has entered the picture, but the little bit I know of the field seems far off what the brain seems to do.

Connectionism was the first challenge to the standard COGS story. But in the end it turned out to be little more than a family feud. The real action has occured in the past decade when the dynamicists and "embodied cognition" people started dominating the agenda. I don't think functionalism has much of a future.

delphi_ote
2nd April 2006, 11:20 AM
Mathematics is just a very precise language we use to describe reality in detail. With mathematics, we don't need to make up vague nonsense terms like "lifeworld."

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 11:24 AM
Let me try to answer by means of a putative set of neurons in a particular array.

Now keep in mind that I still consider the "problem" of subjectivity and the "problem" of integrated experience big problems that we are no where near solving. I don't think that we are going to find the answers very soon, but I don't think that we must give up hope just yet. One of the issues surrounds the feeling of what happens, but I'm not sure that it makes sense for us to be astounded by the fact that we feel experiences in a particular way.

So, here's my warped proposal for a form of homonculus:

I assume you know what mirror neurons are. If not, a recent discovery in primates revealed the existence of a set of neurons that respond to views of particular actions as well as the animal performing those actions. So there is a grouping of neurons that fire when an animal raises it hand to its mouth to eat, and the same grouping of neurons fires when it sees some one else raise his or her hand to his or her mouth to eat. These neurons, therefore, probably serve learning and social functions allowing the primates (and by extension us -- we at least have neurons that fire in the same general rgion during these sorts of activities by functional imaging but no one is planning to stick electrodes in anyone's cingulate gyrus or frontal lobe anytime soon to document that we have exactly the same thing) to "understand and empathize" another's actions. Obviously there must be much more going on in the brain for this to be the case -- the understanding and empathizing -- but this is a step in the right direction.

What if we have a second set of mirror neurons that recieves input from the first set and also receives input from the outside world, so that the second set of mirror neurons can see the mirroring and what is being mirrored. Would this not constitute a crude internal watcher -- the thing that is supposed to be so difficult to explain neurologically? If impacted by the constantly looping mood/emotional system and by motivational systems (which are centrally located and send information to multiple places) then we could have an internal watcher that would "feel" what it is like to mirror an action correctly -- an "aha" moment.

This is just crude playing with ideas, but if we could understand all the inputs that go into the firing of those mirror neurons, then we might be able to model something like this with silicon components and see if we could derive some sort of crude "consciousness".

Searle is right that the brain is not a computer run by a program. But he goes much further in his opinions than that. He thinks that computer components could think just like our brains if they were arranged like our neurons are arranged.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 11:36 AM
What, in particular, are you refering to?

One of the things that I think many people miss is the action of neurons through time. We tend to think of neuron firing, release of neurotransmitter, then next neuron firing. While all of that is correct, it is only a very small part of the story, since most coding is done with frequency of neuron firing, and the way the nervous system is arranged we have these big loops of information that constantly cycle. It is in the cycling of info that much of what we think of as thought probably occurs. For instance, there is a well-recognized phenomenon described by several neuropsychologists of a 40-Hz event related potential that probably represent the entraining of a particular neural network and the communication between that grouping of neurons and other areas of cortex or subcortex through thalamic relays. Francis Crick even decided that the 40-Hz potentials were consciousness at some level. I'm not willing to make any such claim as that, but it is a realm of brain function that seems to missing from most of the computer paradigms that I know about (which is admittedly very limited since I'm not a computer geek at all).

I often use as an analogy how the cerebellum works. The cerebellum consists of a relatively simple circuit that endlessly loops. It nearly constantly receives input from lower centers telling it, for instance, where your arm is in space. It also receives input from higher centers telling it where a ball is in space and how necessary it is for the arm to move over to that ball. There is a surround system to focus the information and make it more clear, and a constant interplay of where ball is and where arm is and what arm must do to get to where ball is. Constant looping of information in this big comparator allows us to smoothly perform motor actions. Knock it out and those actions break apart into several untidy, choppy movements.

I don't know if that came across very well, but that is what I was referring to above.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 11:37 AM
Wasp,

What if we have a second set of mirror neurons that recieves input from the first set and also receives input from the outside world, so that the second set of mirror neurons can see the mirroring and what is being mirrored. Would this not constitute a crude internal watcher -- the thing that is supposed to be so difficult to explain neurologically?

No. This is a variation on the claim that "levels of complexity" can provide an answer to the problem of consciousness. What is missing from the picture is the "transcendental subject" i.e. the subject itself. You are trying to fill that hole in the picture with another set of neurons. This leaves the problem completely untouched. It doesn't solve any of the problems that need to be solved.

If impacted by the constantly looping mood/emotional system and by motivational systems (which are centrally located and send information to multiple places) then we could have an internal watcher that would "feel" what it is like to mirror an action correctly -- an "aha" moment.

That's just not going to be enough to solve the problems. Subjective experiences aren't "aha moments". Those come as the result of problem-directed cognitive activity and usually involve a gestalt shift of some sort.

This is just crude playing with ideas, but if we could understand all the inputs that go into the firing of those mirror neurons, then we might be able to model something like this with silicon components and see if we could derive some sort of crude "consciousness".

I don't agree. Firstly, I don't think it can work. Secondly, even if it could, and it did, then you'd have no way to "see" the "consciousness" you'd "derived". From my POV these suggestions are all non-starters.

I think that "the matter matters". In other words, there is something very special about the nature of the matter in human brains that allows it to support "conciousness". That "something" cannot be replaced by a virtual model of that something. If you want to create artificial consciousness, then the only way to do it is to find out what it is about brain matter that is important (e.g. Penrose/Hameroff, whether or not this particular theory is correct) and then try to recreate it. Which would be unethical anyway (IMO).

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 11:47 AM
One of the things that I think many people miss is the action of neurons through time. We tend to think of neuron firing, release of neurotransmitter, then next neuron firing. While all of that is correct, it is only a very small part of the story, since most coding is done with frequency of neuron firing, and the way the nervous system is arranged we have these big loops of information that constantly cycle. It is in the cycling of info that much of what we think of as thought probably occurs. For instance, there is a well-recognized phenomenon described by several neuropsychologists of a 40-Hz event related potential that probably represent the entraining of a particular neural network and the communication between that grouping of neurons and other areas of cortex or subcortex through thalamic relays. Francis Crick even decided that the 40-Hz potentials were consciousness at some level. I'm not willing to make any such claim as that, but it is a realm of brain function that seems to missing from most of the computer paradigms that I know about (which is admittedly very limited since I'm not a computer geek at all).

I often use as an analogy how the cerebellum works. The cerebellum consists of a relatively simple circuit that endlessly loops. It nearly constantly receives input from lower centers telling it, for instance, where your arm is in space. It also receives input from higher centers telling it where a ball is in space and how necessary it is for the arm to move over to that ball. There is a surround system to focus the information and make it more clear, and a constant interplay of where ball is and where arm is and what arm must do to get to where ball is. Constant looping of information in this big comparator allows us to smoothly perform motor actions. Knock it out and those actions break apart into several untidy, choppy movements.

I don't know if that came across very well, but that is what I was referring to above.

Wasp,

All of this is interesting, but none of it makes any difference. You are offering functionalist explanations for subjectivity, and it just doesn't work. There's no way to make it work, either. There's no point in you offering me new functionalist theories based on the latest neuroscience - any more than there is any point in the creationist offering new creationist theories based on the latest screwed up theory they have latched onto. The whole class of functionalist theories all suffer from the same basic set of problems. In terms of a solution to the problem of consciousness it is not so much that they fail to reach their destination and more that they never clear the launch pad. Square peg, round hole, doesn't matter which way you bash it it still won't go in. Husserl tries to get you to understand that the entire enterprise is doomed before it starts. Once you can see why it is doomed, you don't bother looking for any more functionalist explanations for subjectivity.

Geoff

Darat
2nd April 2006, 11:50 AM
...snip...

I think that "the matter matters". In other words, there is something very special about the nature of the matter in human brains that allows it to support "conciousness". That "something" cannot be replaced by a virtual model of that something. If you want to create artificial consciousness, then the only way to do it is to find out what it is about brain matter that is important (e.g. Penrose/Hameroff, whether or not this particular theory is correct) and then try to recreate it. Which would be unethical anyway (IMO).

Geoff I find myself half agreeing with you because I fundamentally do not believe the "map is the territory", I suspect what our brains are made from is important in explaining everything about those brains.

Will we ever be able to model anything in such detail as to "mathematically" duplicate that? Well perhaps it's a failing of my imagination but I don't think we will since that would entail us knowing everything about "reality" so we can accurately model every part of it.

However the reason I am saying I only half agree with you is that it may be that we don't need such "100% accuracy" to model our brains so we may find that we can model "brains" after all.

Soapy Sam
2nd April 2006, 12:29 PM
Another viewpoint on this (my own) is that there is nothing special about the matter, but something special about what the matter is doing. The germanium and silicon in a computer chip in no way differ from germanium or silicon in a rock, but their configuration in relation to the surrounding matter makes them behave differently. Anything inside a human head got there through the mouth or the parents' mouths- with one clear exception- the process of life, which is a continuous activity going back through alternate cycles of gamete and imago to the first replicant molecule. 3 billion + years of a continuous process, life, which tends to be completely overlooked by materialist and non materialist alike. I happen to agree that you can't build minds. I think you have to grow them. But this is purely my opinion,no more than that.

I don't see how this is relevant to proving the existence of a putative crisis in philosophy.

A sphere with no size is a point. That's not wordplay , but a matter of definition.
So far, frankly, it's the only actual point I'm able to distinguish in this entire thread. The rest seems to be an alternation of Geoff saying the way we view reality is profoundly wrong, with everyone else pointing out gently that he is misusing language to create his own confusion.

"Just look at Kevin's posts, which I continue to fail to respond to because they don't even engage with the argument".

Geoff- are you sure that's why you don't respond to them? How often do you consider the possibility that it might be your worldview which is at odds with reality? If the argument can only be held on your terms, using your definitions and your assumptions is it actually an argument or merely a monologue?

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 12:50 PM
Geoff- are you sure that's why you don't respond to them?

Yes, I'm sure. :)

How often do you consider the possibility that it might be your worldview which is at odds with reality?

I have to do that continually, I'm a philosophy student.

If the argument can only be held on your terms, using your definitions and your assumptions is it actually an argument or merely a monologue?

This particular argument requires a person to agree to suspend their beliefs. That doesn't make it a monologue.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 01:13 PM
What is missing from the picture is the "transcendental subject" i.e. the subject itself.

That may very well be the case, but I'm not entirely sure of it. Part of the reason I'm not sure is that the way that we typically think of this, again, is neuron one fires, then neuron two fires.....and we think in this slow progression. It might be the case that a constant looping of mirror neurons watching other mirror neurons and the outside environment while receiving "feeling" information could be a transcendental subject (rather the subject would be the higher order description of the effect of neuron firings in that particular way). There is no way that I could prove this to you or anyone else at this point (and as I said this is only a crude conjecture), but it might push us in the right direction. If we continue to think that the subjectivist perspective cannot be explained by the functioning of neurons, then we can never arrive at an answer unless we have some grand breakthrough in thought. We've had our current models of philosophical enquiry for centuries and they have made no real progress. We are starting to make some progress in the neural sciences and in computer modelling, but this is still a very young field and a difficult problem to solve. I have hopes that this will provide us with better explanations than we have seen through philosophical conjecture so far.

In other words, there is something very special about the nature of the matter in human brains that allows it to support "conciousness".

Which is fine. That is one possibility that everyone must consider. I think that it may be possible to explain this in terms of the particular functioning of neurons and that we will not need to rely on any special nature of matter in the human brain.

Yes, we will not be able to model human consciousness with our current computer models and the programs that are trying to do this are, in my opinion, doomed to fail. But models that rely on what amounts to actual firing neurons in patterns similar to what the brain does? That is a different story.

One of Searle's thought experiments I find very telling. It is the "suppose we gradually replace every neuron in your head with a silicon chip that can perform precisely the same function that your neurons can currently perform". Would the end result be conscious? I think it would. I don't think the particular form of matter is important so much as the particular connectivity of that matter and the functioning that it is capable of performing. We are still nowhere close to understanding how it all works, but we certainly have significant data that this is likely the case in all the functional MRI, magnetoencephalography, and direct electrode placement in and on brains as well as the observation that brains turned off provide no experience whatsoever.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 01:35 PM
That may very well be the case, but I'm not entirely sure of it. Part of the reason I'm not sure is that the way that we typically think of this, again, is neuron one fires, then neuron two fires.....and we think in this slow progression.

We are just talking past each other now. No explanation in terms of neurons is going to suffice. It doesn't make any difference what explanation in terms of neurons you give.

It might be the case that a constant looping of mirror neurons watching other mirror neurons and the outside environment while receiving "feeling" information could be a transcendental subject....

No, that's not possible.

If we continue to think that the subjectivist perspective cannot be explained by the functioning of neurons, then we can never arrive at an answer unless we have some grand breakthrough in thought.

That is correct. Although it might be pointed out that some elements of the answer are already present, they just happen to be ignored by functionalists.

We've had our current models of philosophical enquiry for centuries and they have made no real progress.

That is only partially true. They have not progressed in the same way as science does, but that doesn't mean they have not progressed.

We are starting to make some progress in the neural sciences and in computer modelling, but this is still a very young field and a difficult problem to solve.

If you are talking about computational theories of mind and cognitive science then it is not so much young as still-born.

Yes, we will not be able to model human consciousness with our current computer models and the programs that are trying to do this are, in my opinion, doomed to fail. But models that rely on what amounts to actual firing neurons in patterns similar to what the brain does? That is a different story.

No, it's the same story, different chapter. :)

One of Searle's thought experiments I find very telling. It is the "suppose we gradually replace every neuron in your head with a silicon chip that can perform precisely the same function that your neurons can currently perform". Would the end result be conscious? I think it would.

I don't think you can replace neurons with silicon chips.

I don't think the particular form of matter is important so much as the particular connectivity of that matter and the functioning that it is capable of performing.

So you're a functionalist.

chriswl
2nd April 2006, 01:48 PM
One of Searle's thought experiments I find very telling. It is the "suppose we gradually replace every neuron in your head with a silicon chip that can perform precisely the same function that your neurons can currently perform". Would the end result be conscious? I think it would. I don't think the particular form of matter is important so much as the particular connectivity of that matter and the functioning that it is capable of performing.
But Searle thinks it wouldn't be conscious. For him there is something about biological neurons that makes them special although he has never even hinted what he thinks that special property might be (he say's he finds Penrose's ideas interesting but has not endorsed them).

If a person had a computer chip for a brain and behaved exactly like a fully biological human, insisited they were conscious, even engaged in debates about the nature of consciousness, it would seem preposterous to deny that they were in fact conscious. And there is no theoretical reason to think that a computer cannot model all the outward behaviour of a human being (although we are a long, long way from being able to construct such a computer, should we even want to). It seems quite obvious to me that consciousness is a property of the physical brain (actually, Searle believes this too, he just insists, for no particular reason, that the brain has to be biological).

LotusMegami
2nd April 2006, 01:51 PM
I have tried so hard to understand what is going on here, only to now be told that it is totally pointless.

Geoff isn't asking us to suspend judgement, he is asking us to accept his arguments without evidence.

There is a much more important topic to deal with right now: the volcano eruption in Tasmania. How will all the people evacuate in time? They don't even understand how the volcano eruption will affect them!

Just suspend judgement on whether there will be an eruption or not. If you don't believe that there will be a disastrous volcano eruption is Tasmania, then you can't understand the problem, and you can't help solve it.

So just believe me.

:):):):):)

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 01:53 PM
Penrose and Hameroff are relevant not because that specific theory is definately correct, but because it is a new class of theory which takes a holistic approach to the problem. It is looking outside the bounds of materialism for an explanation, whilst remaining scientifically informed.

There's quite an argument going on about it this at my Uni. The head of cognitive science is going to this years tucson conference to present a paper claiming to refute penrose. Other's see it very differently:

http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/users/emmet/qm3.html

chriswl
2nd April 2006, 02:09 PM
Penrose and Hameroff are relevant not because that specific theory is definately correct, but because it is a new class of theory which takes a holistic approach to the problem. It is looking outside the bounds of materialism for an explanation, whilst remaining scientifically informed.
Penrose's theory does not go outside the bounds of materialism, it is just not computationalist.

Ichneumonwasp
2nd April 2006, 02:18 PM
No, that's not possible.

Why not? You've done the experiment and disproved it? How do you know?

Although it might be pointed out that some elements of the answer are already present, they just happen to be ignored by functionalists.

It couldn't possibly be that they simply disagree with you? In my experience the better argument generally wins when minds are open. I haven't heard any convincing arguments that have swayed my opinion. Perhaps you wish to argue again that my mind is closed because I don't see things the way you do.

It doesn't make any difference what explanation in terms of neurons you give.

OK, if that is your opinion, then you are correct, there is no sense in debating any of this any longer. You have made up your mind. And I'm not even going to bring up the whole creationist thing again........ooops.

Honestly, I'm only throwing out possibilities for consideration. I appreciate any criticism of the ideas, but I think going to the extreme of saying that nothing anyone can say about neurons and their function can help in this matter is very much like an IDer's god of th gaps argument. No, there is no way that natural selection could ever account for bacterial flagella.

Why have you taken such an extreme position? You are obviously a very bright person. Why completely discount a possibility that we are only beginning to explore?

They have not progressed in the same way as science does, but that doesn't mean they have not progressed.

Yes, that is a more proper way of saying it. I don't mean to say that philsophy is useless or that the history of ideas never progresses. I only meant that philosophy has not been very productive in this area. Philosophy has been extraordinarily productive in other areas. We now call those arenas chemistry and physics and geology and cosmology, etc.

Science really is only philosophy that deals with tractable problems. The philosophy of mind might be heading in the direction of becoming tractable rather than intractable. It has to a certain extent already entered this realm. We call those areas psychology, neurology, and cognitive science.

Just because the problem of consciousness is still relatively intractable does not mean that it cannot be solved by means of these disciplines. There was a time when we did not understand the structure of DNA and the biological sciences moved foreward at a snail's pace........

So you're a functionalist.

Yes, but I can consider other possibilities. While I do not think that the form of matter is responsible for cognition, I am not willing to completely discount the possibility. I simply don't think that is likely to be a fruitful avenue in the future.

But Searle thinks it wouldn't be conscious.

I'm only quoting this from a lecture that I heard him give, but that is certainly not the impression that I got from him. I heard him say that there were various possibilities including the possibility that it would create a non-conscious being, but I also seem to recall him saying that he thought it entirely possible that different media could result in the same consciousness as we have. It is the structure and functioning of the information packets that is important not the building material. Perhaps he changed his mind, but that change of opinion makes no sense to me.

This is in contrast to his chinese room argument which concerned not silicon chips replacing neurons, but a program simulating consciousness.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 02:20 PM
Penrose's theory does not go outside the bounds of materialism, it is just not computationalist.

It uses an ontological problem to solve an ontological problem. The ontological problem inherent in materialistic interpretations of QM is cancelled out by the opposite ontological problem inherent in materialist theories of mind.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 02:34 PM
Wasp

Why not? You've done the experiment and disproved it? How do you know?

Because the problem is to do with the relationships between concepts. What you are suggesting doesn't work conceptually, hence no experiment is needed, IMO.

OK, if that is your opinion, then you are correct, there is no sense in debating any of this any longer.

Not if you are going to reply to a thread on Husserl by giving me materialistic theories of mind, no. There's no point. That's why I didn't want to do it.

Honestly, I'm only throwing out possibilities for consideration. I appreciate any criticism of the ideas, but I think going to the extreme of saying that nothing anyone can say about neurons and their function can help in this matter is very much like an IDer's god of th gaps argument.

I didn't say that nothing you can say about neurons is going to help. It might help, but on it's own it's not going to be enough. I didn't want to have this argument. That's why I started a thread on Husserl instead. :(

No, there is no way that natural selection could ever account for bacterial flagella.

Except there is, in this case. There is no conceptual problem here, just lots of practical ones.

Why have you taken such an extreme position? You are obviously a very bright person. Why completely discount a possibility that we are only beginning to explore?

Because it is based upon a conceptual error. No amount of exploring can fix the conceptual error. By allowing "more time for further exploration in this direction" one is allowing a conceptual error to be perpetuated. The solution to that conceptual error entails that functionalism is wrong. So I do not have the option of not challenging people who say "we need a bit more time to see if we can fix functionalism, or we need more time to figure out how the brain works". If you still think that more time can fix functionalism, then you haven't seen that there is a conceptual error. In short, functionalism is barking up the wrong tree. Since it's the wrong tree, it should be eliminated.

Just because the problem of consciousness is still relatively intractable does not mean that it cannot be solved by means of these disciplines.

It does if there is a conceptual mismatch going on.

UndercoverElephant
2nd April 2006, 02:39 PM
I have tried so hard to understand what is going on here, only to now be told that it is totally pointless.

Geoff isn't asking us to suspend judgement, he is asking us to accept his arguments without evidence.

If you mean the discussion that is going on about cognitive science then you are mistaken. I haven't presented any arguments. I tried very hard to avoid having the discusion AT ALL, but eventually caved in, which was a mistake. If you mean the argument about Husserl and the historical rise of materialism then I'm not asking you to accept anything without evidence. I'm asking you to consider the ideas of Husserl, including his epoche.

Piggy
2nd April 2006, 02:39 PM
No research is required. You can verify it by thinking about it.
Wow. Willful ignorance shouldn't surprise me anymore, but somehow it still does.

Lucid dreams and brain-in-a-vat hallucinations the only cases when a brain state is acheived that is the same as waking perception.
The only difference b/t lucid dreams and non-lucid dreams is the dreamer's realization that s/he is dreaming. Nothing in the brain is measurably different.

The reference to "brain-in-a-vat hallucinations" is nonsensical.

It is not the same experience to percieve an object as it is to imagine it.
Correct. However, the brain uses the same circuitry, the same modules, when doing both.

If you think these are the same, then something has gone wrong.
If you think I made this claim, then you have not read my post.

Of course it's possible to imagine a sphere. And your comments aren't really relevant. If you imagine a sphere, and nothing else, then it could be any size you like. The only reason that spherical objects in the lifeworld can be determined in size is by comparison to other objects in your visual field and by the effects of moving relative to the spherical object. If you imagine no other object than the sphere then neither of these ways of determining size are available. Hence, an imagined geometrical sphere has no size. QED.
Again, your claim that it's possible to truly imagine a sphere is unsupported.

Suppose I claim that it's possible to imagine an invisible green dog larger than the universe. Then I think about it. Then I say, I imagined an invisible green dog larger than the universe. Am I right?

No. All I've done is consider these concepts and allow my brain to conjure up a few loose associations.

The same goes for the sphere. Unless you're actually hallucinating the sphere, your imagination of it is incomplete. There is no sphere either to have a size or not have a size.

If you'll excuse me, I have to wash my hands now....

chriswl
2nd April 2006, 03:03 PM
It uses an ontological problem to solve an ontological problem. The ontological problem inherent in materialistic interpretations of QM is cancelled out by the opposite ontological problem inherent in materialist theories of mind.
I have no idea what you mean by that. I read one of Penrose's books and his argument seemed pretty clear - he thinks that human mathematicians do things that (according to Goedel's theorem) computers cannot do. Most people think he's wrong on this, although Goedel would have agreed with him. This would mean that the human brain must be, in part, non-computable. He further thinks (or hopes) that there are some quantum processes that may be non-computable (I don't think this has been established). And then he speculates that the human brain might just contain such things. So, it's largely wishful thinking by someone who doesn't like computationalism much.

I can't see how it says anything against materialism. Quantum phenomena are part of the material world (in fact the material world is fundamentally quantum mechanical in nature). The whole reason Penrose proposed this unlikely QM explanation is that he is a scientist and he would consider his theory to be hopeless if he didn't have a physical explanation of how it worked.