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Justification for Foundational Belief
#11
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
LOL, that shit would cause an accident over here with our texting-while-driving tendencies. Imagine looking up from typing your oh-so-important "lol" response on facebook at 60mph and seeing that motherfucker caddy corner at an intersection. Brakelights for days.



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#12
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 26, 2012 at 9:06 am)Rhythm Wrote: @Skep
Our senses don't have to be accurate or "right" they just have to be "good enough". What about the unreliability of sensory experience makes reality seem unlivable to you?

I'm wondering, do you trust your eyes out of faith, or by experience and corroboration? If you saw pixie floating in front of you would you reach out to touch it? Would you ask someone else if they saw the pixie as well? That would be leveraging quite a few senses right there (and those of others). I'm not sure that this qualifies as an exercise in faith by any definition. We seem hardwired both to accept and be skeptical even with regards to our own sensory experiences (and we reinforce that throughout our lives by multiple avenues). Personally, I think that's a fantastic practical compromise. Our senses are unreliable, at a point. However, time is of the essence with sensory experience, you can't be so bogged down with deciding whether or not you can trust your sensory experiences when they tell you danger is flying at your face as to be hit in the forehead before you decided whether or not the danger was real. While it is true that your senses cannot be trusted completely, most of us are unlikely to reach their breaking point in our day to day lives. It's only when we begin to exceed the normal range of operations for our senses that their unreliability becomes more and more pronounced. This isn't to say that they don't glitch constantly even in mundane and ordinary circumstances, but that these glitches are an "acceptable" trade-off for the measure of reliability that they can be expected to achieve, bugs and features..lol.

It seems to me that trusting my eyes out of experience and corroboration is equivalent to trusting my eyes on faith. Validating sensory input is accurate using sensory input is circular.
I am not asking this question for its practical application; I feel I have already laid out why it is necessary to accept sensory input as true. I am asking this question in hopes of attaining philosophical justification for the truth of basic belief.
I did say that sensory data is only sometimes accurate, did I not? If I didn't, I meant to.

(July 26, 2012 at 9:11 am)jonb Wrote: Not trusting my senses is the very elixir of my life. My wife tells me regularly how unreliable my memory is, yet I seen to be able to struggle through sometimes in party mode.

I meant, of course, that not being able to trust your senses or memory at all would make reality unlivable. Similar to Schizophrenia, not being able to trust your senses or memory would be catastrophic.
Is there a proof for these truths, or are we only allotted their practicality and circular argumentation?
Is our intuition the only thing we have to justify these types of beliefs?
My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true.
Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.
-Bertrand Russell
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#13
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 26, 2012 at 11:16 am)Skepsis Wrote: I meant, of course, that not being able to trust your senses or memory at all would make reality unlivable. Similar to Schizophrenia, not being able to trust your senses or memory would be catastrophic.
Is there a proof for these truths, or are we only allotted their practicality and circular argumentation?
Is our intuition the only thing we have to justify these types of beliefs?

Do you dream? Is the awareness in that state, unlivable. Now which state is more significant, or another way of testing this would be to see which state is necessary. in the practical conciousness we know sleep deprivation very soon harms, but a person can be sedated for long periods, therefore the argument could be supported things are the opposite of your statement.
Even in a dream state, or heavily drugged we will it seems create some sort of narrative, so we cannot even say that a consistent narrative is proof.
Intuition is the only possible starting point. Every theory starts with a guess. Maybe one theory could have a structure that the guess could be proven, or maybe not.
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#14
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
Why look for sensory experience (perception and thought) to validate your trust in sensory experience then? How would philosophical justification escape classification as a sensory experience?



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#15
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: Why look for sensory experience (perception and thought) to validate your trust in sensory experience then? How would philosophical justification escape classification as a sensory experience?

This is an excellent idea, a philosophy without category's, and that is impossible to transmit you have found my life's work for me. This is such synergy, I fancied a drink, I will start on the first experiment tonight by blotting out my sensory experience with the application of larger.


Why am I making a fuss about an area that seems insignificant and only seems to produce circular arguments, or results that are illogical, because my tendency is not to ignore a thing when it could be used as a tool. The illogical is often a path to greater insight than all the consistent results in the world.
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#16
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
I wonder how far back we can go and still find a human being who can make sense of your question about foundational beliefs. (I think I finally got it, thanks to the subsequent discussion.) At some point, it would become impossible to translate or make sense of. As one more animal in the natural world, we have evolved the capacity to integrate sensory input and with cognitive functioning in useful ways. That obviously would have to come first, long before we could ever make sense of the concept of a "belief". Clearly we had perceptual/cognitive functioning on par with any other mammal long before we even had the capacity for our modern use of language.

Our enhanced capacities for the use of symbolic language, analysis and logic did not develop in a vacuum and they are not self supporting. They are adjunct to our pre-existing mammalian brain and its perceptual/cognitive functioning.

Structurally, I would question whether it makes sense to look for a purely symbolic basis for cognition. What we believe was never built up on any foundational beliefs to begin with. Recognizing the beliefs which are implied by our values, desires and actions is a secondary function. It is wise to do it of course. Perhaps this sort of self knowledge even feeds back into our values, desires and actions but that would need arguing for. After all, the beliefs we recognized as operative in us through reflection were never built up through any act of reasoning to start with. They were the product of our mammalian brains doing that thing they've been doing for millions of years.

I guess my question would be what is the purpose of this search for foundational beliefs? Are we hoping to turn the functioning of our mammalian brains into consciously endorsed pathways? Surely we would not want our conscious minds making every micro decision, every moment of the day. That would have to become tedious. I suppose the effort stems from a desire to be accountable, to take responsibility for ones actions. Laudable reasons but I suppose one could also make a case for pushing societal norms to accommodate our full animal/human natures.
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#17
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm)Skepsis Wrote: The issue of foundational belief has been a tough one for me, to say the least. Avoiding post modernism and radical skepticism isn't a simple chore, as the ticket to doing so for me is to justify the seemingly unjustifiable: foundational beliefs.

Beliefs of this nature are a priori issues and include self evident belief and axioms. Descartes established personal acknowledgement of reality with the cogito, but memory, induction (as dissected by Hume), sense-perception, and interpretation of the meaning of words ( I believe it was Wittgenstein who brought light to this) are all truths that humans intuitively assume and need in order to survive as a mentally and physically healthy individual.

The justification for many foundational beliefs is fairly simple, and I personally subscribe to it. The answer that has bubbled to the surface is, "You are either with me or against me in this world. Functioning in a world you don't believe to be real isn't healthy- some could say deadly or impossible. So I will assume these truths, all the while beings receptive to new information that contradicts these beliefs."

My issue with this is that I feel like I am shifting the burden of proof, waiting to be proven wrong. I had previously thought it to also be special pleading, however foundational belief is in another class from derived belief because it is an a priori issue that takes precedence over all other forms of belief.

That has been my very limited understanding of foundationalism and is what governs my evidentialist beliefs. My question to anyone and everyone is, am I justified?
Am I justified in making an assumption on the part of foundational beliefs?

Your question doesn't make mush sense. If you are capable of asking "am I justified?", it means you have already accepted certain beliefs based on which you determine that justification might be required. Like you said - these are a-priori beliefs. A question even more basic, i.e., if any justification is possible, already has some axioms at its basis. These beliefs are inherently unjustifiable since any justification provided would lead to circular reasoning.

However, there is an indirect test for validating these axioms. As you've said, these are foundational beliefs, i.e. ones which lie at the basis of every other belief that you hold. Therefore, in order to have a rational and logical world-view, all your beliefs must satisfy two conditions a) all of them can be logically derived from the foundational beliefs and b) none of them may contradict the foundational beliefs. If you can find a single belief in your system that logically follows the foundational one and still contradicts them, you have a good reason to question your assumption.

(July 26, 2012 at 11:16 am)Skepsis Wrote: I am asking this question in hopes of attaining philosophical justification for the truth of basic belief.

Let's see if I can help you with that. As an evidentialist, I assume that the following three would be the foundational axioms of your worldview.

1. I exist.
2. Reality exists.
3. I am perceiving reality.

The first one is pretty simple. The proposition "I don't exist" is self-defeating since the "I" here is referring to an entity that does exist. This doesn't come under the purview of validation or justification because its a statement that cannot be false.

In the second, reality refers to everything that exists around you. Now, since you are looking for the "truth" of this belief, you have to ask - what does "truth" mean. Suppose I point in a direction and say "there is a tree over there", what determines if my statement is true or not is whether there actually is a tree over there. It wouldn't matter is I were blind, if there is a tree, I'm telling the truth.

Truth is determined by whether the statement corresponds to reality of things as they are. If the statement "reality exists" isn't true, then the very concept of truth has lost its meaning. The statement "reality does not exist", therefore, is automatically false.

The third is the trickiest - the most common argument against it being the "brain in the vat" scenario, or in today's date, the matrix scenario. What if all of you sensory inputs are constructs of another intelligence. First of all, this statement would not contradict any of the previous axioms - you still exist and reality still exists - there is simply a perceptual disconnect between your reality and the actual reality. However, in that case, the rules would change significantly. You don't exist in the actual reality and the actual reality doesn't exist for you. Any statements you make regarding "truths" or "justifications" or "validations" would be based on your reality. The intelligence feeding you the sensory data would bear the responsibility of making your reality consistent and non-contradictory - even if that intelligence is your own. For example, in your dreams, "your" reality is often confusing, contradictory and therefore unlivable. While this does not solve the philosophical dilemma, it still gives a handy test for making answering the question.
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#18
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: Why look for sensory experience (perception and thought) to validate your trust in sensory experience then? How would philosophical justification escape classification as a sensory experience?

Can there be no verification for this belief other than intuition?
I'm fine with that because I have judged trusting my memory and senses as integral to interacting with the world with any meaning.
You make a fine point.

(July 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm)genkaus Wrote: Your question doesn't make mush sense. If you are capable of asking "am I justified?", it means you have already accepted certain beliefs based on which you determine that justification might be required. Like you said - these are a-priori beliefs. A question even more basic, i.e., if any justification is possible, already has some axioms at its basis. These beliefs are inherently unjustifiable since any justification provided would lead to circular reasoning.
This is what I suspected. I had to ask if there were ways to show the truth of foundational beliefs without using the belief because I really didn't know.

(July 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm)genkaus Wrote: However, there is an indirect test for validating these axioms. As you've said, these are foundational beliefs, i.e. ones which lie at the basis of every other belief that you hold. Therefore, in order to have a rational and logical world-view, all your beliefs must satisfy two conditions a) all of them can be logically derived from the foundational beliefs and b) none of them may contradict the foundational beliefs. If you can find a single belief in your system that logically follows the foundational one and still contradicts them, you have a good reason to question your assumption.
I understand, but this still presumes the truth of the beliefs. I think this is a fair justification, however, because these beliefs have no base justification and cannot have a base justification.

(July 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm)genkaus Wrote: Let's see if I can help you with that. As an evidentialist, I assume that the following three would be the foundational axioms of your worldview.

1. I exist.
2. Reality exists.
3. I am perceiving reality.

The first one is pretty simple. The proposition "I don't exist" is self-defeating since the "I" here is referring to an entity that does exist. This doesn't come under the purview of validation or justification because its a statement that cannot be false.
You hit the nail on the head up until here. After this, I have a few questions.

(July 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm)genkaus Wrote: In the second, reality refers to everything that exists around you. Now, since you are looking for the "truth" of this belief, you have to ask - what does "truth" mean. Suppose I point in a direction and say "there is a tree over there", what determines if my statement is true or not is whether there actually is a tree over there. It wouldn't matter is I were blind, if there is a tree, I'm telling the truth.

Truth is determined by whether the statement corresponds to reality of things as they are. If the statement "reality exists" isn't true, then the very concept of truth has lost its meaning. The statement "reality does not exist", therefore, is automatically false.
The truth of the statement doesn't change, it just loses all value. It isn't false, it is meaningless.
... Right?
(July 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm)genkaus Wrote: The third is the trickiest - the most common argument against it being the "brain in the vat" scenario, or in today's date, the matrix scenario. What if all of you sensory inputs are constructs of another intelligence. First of all, this statement would not contradict any of the previous axioms - you still exist and reality still exists - there is simply a perceptual disconnect between your reality and the actual reality. However, in that case, the rules would change significantly. You don't exist in the actual reality and the actual reality doesn't exist for you. Any statements you make regarding "truths" or "justifications" or "validations" would be based on your reality. The intelligence feeding you the sensory data would bear the responsibility of making your reality consistent and non-contradictory - even if that intelligence is your own. For example, in your dreams, "your" reality is often confusing, contradictory and therefore unlivable. While this does not solve the philosophical dilemma, it still gives a handy test for making answering the question.
This sounds a lot like solipsism. You know you exist and reason that reality does too by its non-contradiction, but you can't know if anyone else shares your reality.
You make this easier to understand and have given the best explanation in my opinion. I would love to hear more from you.

(July 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm)whateverist Wrote: I guess my question would be what is the purpose of this search for foundational beliefs?

I had hoped to find the basis for my belief structure. I feel it is wise to try and find answers to things that are pressing issues to you, take in those answers and determine whether or not they are satisfactory. If they aren't, I look for more answers. If those answers aren't satisfactory, then I keep looking.
If there is no satisfactory answer that I can find, I give up the propositions.
In this case the answers being given are very, very informative and are pertinent to the question.
My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true.
Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.
-Bertrand Russell
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#19
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
Perhaps try to analyze your position using rationalism as opposed to trying to validate empiricism with empiricism. If you want to know why you can trust your senses as being accurate (or at least sometimes accurate), then try to not use your senses - simply reason - and see if your position still holds. Foundationalism is a strong philosophical position, in so much as it can correct and remain accountable for itself much easier than the others; however it struggles with the original basis for belief (namely self-evident truths).

As was addressed earlier, one must first determine the meaning of 'truth' and secondly assert what classifies something as being self-evident. Genkaus provided the axioms of existence to which you inferred about the objective nature of a truth claim. You've already made the assumption that truth has an objective nature - but what gives you this justification? (This I suppose brings us back to your original question about justification of fundamental beliefs.)
Brevity is the soul of wit.
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#20
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm)Perhaps Wrote: Perhaps try to analyze your position using rationalism as opposed to trying to validate empiricism with empiricism. If you want to know why you can trust your senses as being accurate (or at least sometimes accurate), then try to not use your senses - simply reason - and see if your position still holds. Foundationalism is a strong philosophical position, in so much as it can correct and remain accountable for itself much easier than the others; however it struggles with the original basis for belief (namely self-evident truths).

As was addressed earlier, one must first determine the meaning of 'truth' and secondly assert what classifies something as being self-evident. Genkaus provided the axioms of existence to which you inferred about the objective nature of a truth claim. You've already made the assumption that truth has an objective nature - but what gives you this justification? (This I suppose brings us back to your original question about justification of fundamental beliefs.)

I don't know so much about the objective nature of truth. However, it stands to reason that without any basis in reality truth holds no meaning. Truth, by nature, is objective... Oh... Subjective?
Well, as a concept it is objective. Truth is truth, and it applies to everyone. Belief is belief, and it is personal. I don't know that humankind will ever have a grasp on truth. That is where I stand on truth's meaning.

As to using reason to verify sense perception, it seems to me that logic and reason are derived from the natural world. Why would logic offer me special insight into the truth of sense-perception?
My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true.
Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.
-Bertrand Russell
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