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Justification for Foundational Belief
#31
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief



First, let me get a few preliminaries out of the way.

First, Genkaus' claim that something is true by virtue of it corresponding to the reality of things as they are is a compact statement of the correspondence theory of truth, which is but one theory among about a dozen contending theories. Genkaus' statement here does not stand on its own without more support, which he likely cannot give. In fact, to ask how we know the correspondence theory of truth is true may very well be unable to avoid leading to a self-referential series of paradoxes, all of which would cleave it from the foundationalism you are examining.

Second, I've come to the conclusion that questions about whether something is real, corresponds to reality, and so forth are essentially meaningless. Philosophical thought experiments may ask, are we brains in vats, or ideas in the mind of God, or collections of particle. The simple answer is that, given our understanding of their presuppositions, there is no way to tell which, if any, is true. If the property or quality of being real doesn't refer to something that a thing or experience can be determined to possess in one instance, but not another, then that property has no meaning. It is as if you showed me two identical frying pans, and told me that one possessed flotgan, and the other didn't. After examining them, and determining them to be identical, and your still insisting that one has flotgan, I'd have to conclude that assertions involving flotgan have no meaning. (There is a subtle underlying paradox here concerning the notions of identity and identicality, but I'll leave that as a reader exercise.)

I just now read the Wikipedia entry on what foundationalism consists in, so I likely can't offer an educated opinion. I'm not a big fan of the concept of basic beliefs, as I think it doesn't actually satisfactorily dispatch the problems that it ostensibly solves so much as it hides them well. And you seem to be at war with yourself, both wanting to invest in a theory which accepts the bottom layer of terms to be unjustified, yet you want to justify that framework. You can't be a little pregnant, I think, it's all or nothing. It does however, point to the hidden conflicts within the concept of foundationalism itself. (I was going to mention Gettier problems here, but I can't remeber why, so I'll just leave it as a bare mention.)

I think ultimately, there are a number of properties of "the things which you are working with" (concepts, beliefs, ideas, propositions) which have the potential for leading to unsolvable problems of the sort alluded to above. The first of these is reference (and especially self-reference, which leads to things like the liars paradox, the strengthened liar's paradox, Godelizations, and Russell's paradox [to Frege]). The second is ambiguity and vagueness (the technical term 'vagueness', not the colloquial term). The problem of vagueness is a fundamental one which has no ready solutions, and ambiguity makes determinate meanings difficult (this was Wittgenstein's bailiwick, as noted). The third is incompleteness in the sense of underdetermination. No elucidation of a set of ideas can ever completely capture the ideas which that set includes and depends upon, and any attempt to do so is doomed to failure (this gets back to the Gettier problems, technical incompleteness, and epistemological holism, aka underdetermination of theory, aka, the Duhem-Quine thesis). And this problem crops up in practical aspects as well. Researchers in artificial intelligence believed that if you could program a computer with the right set of facts, and the right set of procedures for making inferences, you could make an intelligent machine. Such a project was undertaken in, I believe, 1984. Yet as each decade passed without success, the researchers have had to acknowledge that the problem was not as easy as had been thought. My favorite example in this area comes to me by Jeff Hawkins. If I tell you a story, that, "Jane saw a doggie in the pet store window. She wanted it." We don't have to clarify that she wanted the doggie, as opposed to wanting the window. There is an enormous amount of information required for processing even simple propositions or stories. (I would argue, it requires less information than it appears, as the above, vagueness, ambiguity, incompleteness, etc, allow us to appear to produce whole and complete answers that are accepted as such, even though they aren't, largely because we are sharing them with systems which operate exactly the same way as we do [other people], yet it still requires enormous amounts of information, information split between the content or ideas involved, and the information implicit in the structure and behavior of the systems which instance that content [i.e. minds; see also, Kantian idealism vis a vis, a priori knowledge 'given' in experience].) (This also branches off into the questions posed by John Searle and the work he was responding to in his essay, "Minds, Brains, and Programs" (1981) which became what we now call the Chinese Room problem. [There's a subtlety there, that if you read the original article, Searle equivocates fundamentally on what the Chinese Room is supposed to be doing.])

Well, this is getting to book length already, and I have other things to do. I will sum up, first, by saying that I believe there is a resolution to the problems above, but it would take a book that is thick enough to stun an ox for me to explain them. However, and I think this gets to Rhythm's point, the real world and things in it (there's that word real again; I'll use it as a placeholder for now), these things have neither properties of reference nor self-reference. If we conclude that important problems exist as a consequence of these properties, even if not all the important problems, then the actual things in the world can, in a sense, evade those concerns. (I know, this sounds like I'm mixing metaphor with reality, but I don't believe I am, and that's where the ox-stunning book comes in; I would just gesture weakly towards the notions of functionalism, and especially functional composition, experience qua experience, as opposed to a reflection of reality, and the world, not as a thing to be explained, but as a collection of systems within systems, inside which are the systems known as mind, behavior and evolution.)

And I don't see any good way to reach my goal of concluding this on a summary point, so I'll just end it in midstream in good post-modernist fashion. We'll see where that leads.

Well, this is what happens when you ask a philosopher a simple question. I hope you're proud of yourself. Tongue

(July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm)Skepsis Wrote:


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?


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#32
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm)Rhythm Wrote: I could never lay claim to being completely rational Genk. -I have flirted with just about every form of magic you might care to invoke, curiosity killed the cat and all.- If someone claims they can summon a demon..I can't help myself, I draw the circle and start chanting. Also, it isn't so much a refusal as an inability to feel confident enough to call something "true" the way I so often see it employed. As I said, what works in my life, what works in my thoughts, may not be accurate, I'm well aware of this. That's not entirely too difficult to understand is it?

I don't think anyone can claim to be completely rational. But I consider it a worthy goal to aspire to and from what I can gather from your posts, so do you. I just don't think that your discrepancy between beliefs and actions works towards that.

And frankly speaking, I don't understand your inability to feel confidence in those principles. As far as I can tell, you act according to them and you judge things according to them. It is only when they are spelled out that you seem to have a problem committing to them. Is it the constant butchering of the concept of "truth" - that any foundational truths are always taken on faith and inevitably lead to dogmatic positions - as done by the religious right - that has made you wary of such confidence?
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#33
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
It isn't that I don't feel confidence in them, rather that I feel less confidence in them than you do, and that all things being equal, our respective levels of confidence don't seem to have a huge effect on whether or not either of us can leverage these principals -to effect- in the first place. We begin at the same place(or thereabouts), take two only slightly different paths, and arrive at the same destination. While I am content to utilize these principles, and I enjoy the results that doing so brings me, there is always the, at least for me, the possibility that some part of what I have been doing is wrong -even if I get the "right" answers in doing as I have done. Specifically, what I cannot overcome, is that in any scenario I am capable of envisioning, it doesn't even matter which reality I would choose to believe in, the result would be the same, and in light of that, I find the idea of believing in any of them pointless. It becomes a word which does not describe how or why I do what I do, if it describes anything about my thoughts at any level whatsoever. At this point, even words like confidence become provisional.

(the religious right and my conversations with them take a whole different tack, I am perfectly comfortable temporarily assuming absolute confidence in these principles at that point, because they have already done so, and aren't looking to have a discussion like this one in the first place, merely to assert that in this reality -whatever it is- their fantasy is a reality -whatever that is, they only begin to flirt with the subject we are discussing here as a scorched earth tactic- when you have politely -or not so politely- declined to swallow the koolaid.)



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#34
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
Phew. Go straight for the heavy hitting, dontcha?

(July 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm)apophenia Wrote: First, Genkaus' claim that something is true by virtue of it corresponding to the reality of things as they are is a compact statement of the correspondence theory of truth, which is but one theory among about a dozen contending theories. Genkaus' statement here does not stand on its own without more support, which he likely cannot give. Granted, to ask how we know the correspondence theory of truth is true may very well be unable to avoid a self-referential series of paradoxes, all of which cleave it from the foundationalism you are examining.

I'm aware of the congruence theory of truth, but not any others. As I understood, the OP's question was not only regarding foundationalism, but specifically how it applies to his belief in evidentialism, which is why I found the correspondence theory to be most applicable. But I believe congruence theory would be equally applicable as well. If I understand correctly, congruence theory states that truth is determined by correspondence to the set of propositions accepted and in evidentialism, existence of reality would be one of those propositions.

The question I would ask here is which theory of truth would be meaningful if the premises of evidentialism are vacated?

(July 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm)apophenia Wrote: Second, I've come to the conclusion that questions about whether something is real, corresponds to reality, and so forth are essentially meaningless. Philosophical thought experiments may ask, are we brains in vats, or ideas in the mind of God, or collections of particle. The simple answer is that, given our understanding of their presuppositions, there is no way to tell which, if any, is true. If the property or quality of being real doesn't refer to something that a thing or experience can be determined to possess in one instance, but not another, then that property has no meaning. It is as if you showed me two identical frying pans, and told me that one possessed flotgan, and the other didn't. After examining them, and determining them to be identical, and your still insisting that one has flotgan, I'd have to conclude that assertions involving flotgan have no meaning. (There is a subtle underlying paradox here concerning the notions of identity and identicality, but I'll leave that as a reader exercise.)

Meaningless as in they serve no purpose or as in they can never be resolved?

(July 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm)apophenia Wrote: I just now read the Wikipedia entry on what foundationalism consists in, so I likely can't offer an educated opinion. I'm not a big fan of the concept of basic beliefs, as I think it doesn't actually satisfactorily dispatch the problems that it ostensibly solves so much as it hides them well. And you seem to be at war with yourself, both wanting to invest in a theory which accepts the bottom layer of terms to be unjustified, yet you want to justify that framework. You can't be a little pregnant, I think, it's all or nothing. It does however, point to the hidden conflicts within the concept of foundationalism itself. (I was going to mention Gettier problems here, but I can't remeber why, so I'll just leave it as a bare mention.)

How do you address the argument of inescapable premises in support of foundationalism?

(July 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm)apophenia Wrote: I think ultimately, there are a number of properties of "the things which you are working with" (concepts, beliefs, ideas, propositions) which have the potential for leading to unsolvable problems of the sort alluded to above. The first of these is reference (and especially self-reference, which leads to things like the liars paradox, the strengthened liar's paradox, Godelizations, and Russell's paradox [to Frege]). The second is ambiguity and vagueness (the technical term 'vagueness', not the colloquial term). The problem of vagueness is a fundamental one which has no ready solutions, and ambiguity makes determinate meanings difficult (this was Wittgenstein's bailiwick, as noted). The third is incompleteness. No elucidation of a set of ideas can ever completely capture the ideas which that set includes and depends upon, and any attempt to do so is doomed to failure (this gets back to the Gettier problems, technical incompleteness, and epistemological holism, aka underdetermination of theory, aka, the Duhem-Quine thesis). And this problem crops up in practical aspects as well. Researchers in artificial intelligence believed that if you could program a computer with the right set of facts, and the right set of procedures for making inference, you could make an intelligent machine. Such a project was undertaken in, I believe, 1984. Yet as each decade passed without success, the researchers have had to acknowledge that the problem was not as easy as had been thought. My favorite example in this area comes to me by Jeff Hawkins. If I tell you a story, that, "Jane saw a doggie in the pet store window. She wanted it." We don't have to clarify that she wanted the doggie, as opposed to wanting the window. There is an enormous amount of information required for processing even simple propositions or stories. And I would argue, it requires less information than it appears, as the above, vagueness, ambiguity, incompleteness, etc, allow us to appear to produce whole and complete answers that are accepted as such, even though they aren't, largely because we are sharing them with systems which operate exactly the same way as we do [other people]. (This also branches off into the questions posed by John Searle and the work he was responding to in his essay, "Minds, Brains, and Programs" (1981) which later evolved into what we now call the Chinese Room problem. [There's a subtlety there, that if you read the original article, Searle equivocates fundamentally on what the Chinese Room is supposed to be doing.])

I don't know much about the problems you've posed here. How are they connected or contradict foundationalism?


(July 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm)apophenia Wrote: Well, this is getting to book length already, and I have other things to do. I will sum up, first, by saying that I believe there is a resolution to the problems above, but it would take a book that is thick enough to stun an ox for me to explain them. However, and I think this gets to Rhythm's point, the real world and things in it (there's that word real again; I'll use it as a placeholder for now), these things have neither properties of reference nor self-reference. If we conclude that important problems exist as a consequence of these properties, even if not all the important problems, then the actual things in the world can, in a sense, evade those concerns. (I know, this sounds like I'm mixing metaphor with reality, but I don't believe I am, and that's where the ox-stunning book comes in; I would just gesture weakly towards the notions of functionalism, and especially functional composition, experience qua experience, as opposed to a reflection of reality, and the world, not as a thing to be explained, but as a collection of systems within systems, inside which are the systems known as mind, behavior and evolution.)

And I don't see any good way to reach my goal of concluding this on a summary point, so I'll just end it in midstream in good post-modernist fashion. We'll see where that leads.

That's it? Your conclusion was more confusing than the rest. After all that complicated talk, you are just going to end it like this without saying who is wrong and why? That's just cruel.
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#35
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
Perhaps Apo, like myself, is uncomfortable making such a strong declaration about such things so soon(or perhaps not, I'd be interested in seeing that post go longer as well..hehehe)? Little foreplay never hurt anyone.



Reply
#36
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief



I'm not going to respond to your points, Genkaus, part because I didn't see that you had any, but more because I wish not to tarry here unnecessarily. Miles to go before I sleep.


In response to Skepsis' question about foundationalism, it would seem that foundationalism faces a difficult dilemma. As far as I can see, it can assert that certain concepts are basic and acceptable without proof by virtue of their having certain properties or existing in certain relationships or whatnot (such as being "self-evident," or perhaps "being capable of being asserted without contradiction" [Kant?]). However, this ultimately appeals to the notion that some ideas, concepts or beliefs are properly basic to us — that what appears as properly basic is what appears to our mind as properly basic. However, what appears as properly basic, to us, in one view, is simply a result of the stochastic process of evolution, which, on theory and ex hypothesi, did not necessarily give those concept or beliefs the appearance that they were properly basic because they are properly basic, but rather because they fit in some evolutionary process like a key to a lock. The specifics of which concepts and beliefs appear properly basic to us, are actually not properly basic, both because they are dependent on an even more fundamental process, and, because evolution didn't select their appearance of being properly basic on account of the truth of their being properly basic, but more than likely because of some instrumental utility involved. Thus, depending on their appearance to us is both ill founded and neglectful of the larger picture in which, our basic concepts, are essentially arbitrary whims of nature, and fundamentally without meaning "as basic concepts".

The other horn of the dilemma is even less inviting. The alternative is to appeal to the notion that the basic concepts and such are properly basic in the sense that they are objectively properly basic, and not dependent on the vagueries of the specific type of mind and its origins in biology. Ignoring for a moment the somewhat questionable notion of a basic concept existing independent of a mind — concepts are mind stuff, they exist nowhere else — it seems this approach is fundamentally just a variant of Platonism, in which certain ideas or forms exist in a realm independent of reality, yet somehow accessible to, and influential upon that reality. The two major problems there would be, first, that it is essentially a form of dualism, complete with all the philosophical problems or hurdles faced by any form of dualism. And second, even aside from the problems, nominalism appears to be the front runner in the war of ideas, and likely for good reason.

If there's an alternative that I am neglecting here, please point it out. However, failing a more attractive alternative, I'd say this dilemma is a foundering point for foundationalism.


(Somewhere in there, I was going to insert a comment on , as it essentially captures the question of foundationalism in compact form, but I don't remember what I wanted to say about it. I would recommend reading the Wikipedia article on it if you are not already familiar with the Trilemma.)


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#37
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 27, 2012 at 11:35 pm)apophenia Wrote:


In response to Skepsis' question about foundationalism, it would seem that foundationalism faces a difficult dilemma. As far as I can see, it can assert that certain concepts are basic and acceptable without proof by virtue of their having certain properties or existing in certain relationships or whatnot (such as being "self-evident," or perhaps "being capable of being asserted without contradiction" [Kant?]). However, this ultimately appeals to the notion that some ideas, concepts or beliefs are properly basic to us — that what appears as properly basic is what appears to our mind as properly basic. However, what appears as properly basic, to us, in one view, is simply a result of the stochastic process of evolution, which, on theory and ex hypothesi, did not necessarily give those concept or beliefs the appearance that they were properly basic because they are properly basic, but rather because they fit in some evolutionary process like a key to a lock. The specifics of which concepts and beliefs appear properly basic to us, are actually not properly basic, both because they are dependent on an even more fundamental process, and, because evolution didn't select their appearance of being properly basic on account of the truth of their being properly basic, but more than likely because of some instrumental utility involved. Thus, depending on their appearance to us is both ill founded and neglectful of the larger picture in which, our basic concepts, are essentially arbitrary whims of nature, and fundamentally without meaning "as basic concepts".

This horn of the dilemma was essentially my objection. The other horn seems totally out of reach given that we only have our one example of symbolic language using minds to go on. Speculating what would be true for any such would be folly.

Thanks, Apo. I learn a lot from you.
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#38
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 27, 2012 at 11:35 pm)apophenia Wrote: In response to Skepsis' question about foundationalism, it would seem that foundationalism faces a difficult dilemma. As far as I can see, it can assert that certain concepts are basic and acceptable without proof by virtue of their having certain properties or existing in certain relationships or whatnot (such as being "self-evident," or perhaps "being capable of being asserted without contradiction" [Kant?]). However, this ultimately appeals to the notion that some ideas, concepts or beliefs are properly basic to us — that what appears as properly basic is what appears to our mind as properly basic. However, what appears as properly basic, to us, in one view, is simply a result of the stochastic process of evolution, which, on theory and ex hypothesi, did not necessarily give those concept or beliefs the appearance that they were properly basic because they are properly basic, but rather because they fit in some evolutionary process like a key to a lock. The specifics of which concepts and beliefs appear properly basic to us, are actually not properly basic, both because they are dependent on an even more fundamental process, and, because evolution didn't select their appearance of being properly basic on account of the truth of their being properly basic, but more than likely because of some instrumental utility involved. Thus, depending on their appearance to us is both ill founded and neglectful of the larger picture in which, our basic concepts, are essentially arbitrary whims of nature, and fundamentally without meaning "as basic concepts".

The other horn of the dilemma is even less inviting. The alternative is to appeal to the notion that the basic concepts and such are properly basic in the sense that they are objectively properly basic, and not dependent on the vagueries of the specific type of mind and its origins in biology. Ignoring for a moment the somewhat questionable notion of a basic concept existing independent of a mind — concepts are mind stuff, they exist nowhere else — it seems this approach is fundamentally just a variant of Platonism, in which certain ideas or forms exist in a realm independent of reality, yet somehow accessible to, and influential upon that reality. The two major problems there would be, first, that it is essentially a form of dualism, complete with all the philosophical problems or hurdles faced by any form of dualism. And second, even aside from the problems, nominalism appears to be the front runner in the war of ideas, and likely for good reason.

If there's an alternative that I am neglecting here, please point it out. However, failing a more attractive alternative, I'd say this dilemma is a foundering point for foundationalism.

I think it's important to distinguish your bold use of properly basic from the idea of self-evident truths. The assertions that a conscious thought exists is something which cannot be false. Thus, the assertion that the property of existence exists cannot be false. These are self-evident truths, independent of whatever there is or isn't around them.

These are objectively true and form the foundations for the rest of all beliefs, values, concepts, etc.. After these have been addressed, I can agree with you that ideas which present themselves as being true or probably true based on utility are merely glorified assumptions which may very possibly just appear properly basic. It is also interesting to note that you are expanding upon a path of logic which is founded in some sort of basic assumption, from which you are arguing against the existence of properly basic ideas. It seems almost nonsensical to continue on this route, for the simple reason that we cannot know the truth value of any properly basic assumptive claim.
Brevity is the soul of wit.
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#39
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
Can't say I've felt more humbled in quite some time. I knew the question wasn't simple, but at this point I have to sit back and take all the information in in a way that allows me to process and analyze, cross-checking against other beliefs and assertions.
Self evident truths, it seems, must exist by the nature they are presented as concepts; when presented in such a way as to be undefinable as untrue concept, they cannot be anything but true.
Speaking of truth, I was asked what I thought truth to be. In all honesty, I had it defined nebulously until now. Having given it considerable thought as to avoid defining "truth" with any variable of the word in the definition (looking at you, douche bag dictionary) I came to the conclusion that truth is the objective, universal explanation of the way things really are. How things exist as they do and how they really interact if they do so at all. To me, this is truth.
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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#40
RE: Justification for Foundational Belief
(July 28, 2012 at 12:50 am)Perhaps Wrote: The assertions that a conscious thought exists is something which cannot be false. Thus, the assertion that the property of existence exists cannot be false. These are self-evident truths, independent of whatever there is or isn't around them.

I would readily argue that neither are objectively true.

I'll first dispense with the "existence exists" claim, which will in some way mirror my reply to the other. What one means by "exists" is pivotal, and imo, damning. Take for example the notion of a local reality, that underneath the observations of quantum mechanical experiments, there is an underlying reality that is "causing" these events. (I'm being sloppy to avoid research, but I can fully support my point here.) However, we know from experiments concerning Bell's inequalities, that this view is likely false. So if this notion of an "underlying reality" is what one means by "exists," then not only are they possibly wrong, but there is good objective evidence that they likely are wrong. Moreover, if we are mere ideas in the mind of God, to suggest that we are still "existing" in some sense would have to be viewed as rank equivocation of the meaning of the term "exists". More than that, I would argue that our notions of necessity are all based on our beliefs about the nature of our experience; if that experience is not what it seems, all notions of necessity and entailment based on them are essentially invalid. This guts the core of your claim. If what we are claiming is that, "existence exists, which I know because of what I know about existence," your claim has become circular and vacuous.

The second, regarding consciousness, and a "conscious thought existing", again, is a devil in the details problem. I would say that, "perhaps" consciousness and conscious thought exists, but only certain kinds of processes which we loosely refer to by the term consciousness exist, and, ceterus paribus, the properties those processes have form an overlapping but not proper subset of those properties which many — and most who argue as you do — claim that the thing known as consciousness possesses. In sum, what you mean by "consciousness" and what I, as an eliminative materialist, term consciousness, are likely two entirely different creatures; yours, I suspect, possessing magical, supernatural properties which I would doubt, if not outright deny. Recently in a discussion of free will, when asked by one of the participants with which I was at odds, asked me if I denied the existence of consciousness, and upon starting my explanation of my view, he disingenuously paraphrased me as denying that consciousness exists. I don't know from this rather brief exchange what your meaning is, but judging on the odds of prior experience, I likely suspect that, while consciousness exists, that thing which you think consciousness is does not itself exist. So dependent on what you mean by "consciousness exists"(*) in the particular, your statement could range from true, but unremarkable, to wildly and unsupportably false. It all depends on specifically what you think "consciousness" is.

(*) I've equivocated and slid from your "conscious thought exists," largely due to a misreading, but I think the same objections and complaints follow both "conscious thought exists", and "consciousness exists," without any loss of force or cogency, and, the question of the existence of consciousness will yield arguments that are more basic, more compact and clear, equally applicable, and ultimately preconditional to the notion of what "conscious thought exists" means.





This will end up being tacked on to my previous comment, but that's okay.

I have a little thought experiment which I think puts in relief some of the core problems. We all know that there are three or more spatial dimensions, all things have length, width, and height. If asked to imagine a two dimensional or four dimensional world or object, particularly four or more, we do so with difficulty, and only well with mathematical training. Our brains simply aren't built to think in other than three dimensions (and think well; one might argue we can do two well, but since it's not core to my point, I'll skip the objection for now).

Now, this is a little gedanken that I call "the two dimensional brain in a vat". Let's suppose that instead of three or more dimensions, there are in fact only two spatial dimensions. However, all the same, in this two dimensional universe, life arose, and not only life, but intelligent life. These creatures, the Sporb, have their own sciences and technology and such, analogous to our own in three dimensions. And like us, they are curious about nature, and how their minds work, but are a little more advanced than us, relatively speaking. They have fully mapped and explained their mental apparatus, or at least sufficiently that all questions are mere matters of taking the time to explore the matter — there are no more unsolved questions for basic research. Moreover, they are able to create simulations of their minds, on their computers, living in virtual worlds, that believe they are real minds experiencing reality, just like any true to life Sporb brain. Being naturally curious, one day, a team of scientists poses the question of what it would be like to live in three dimensions, instead of the two that there actually are. So they create a simulated mind in a simulated world, just like the other simulations, except that they add a third dimension, extrapolating somewhat, as no actual three dimensional brain and world exists for them to model it upon.

Now the question to you is, demonstrate to a reasonable level of satisfaction, that you actually are a mind in a three dimensional world, that your notion of "reality" as having three dimensions is in fact properly basic, as opposed to your being a simulation of three dimensionality in a two dimensional universe.


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