The Philosophy Thread


mali

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edit:
This thread is about the stuff we think is important, but while in search for someone to talk about it we forget it.
(Disclaimer: Dunno if the above sentense makes sense, as I'm no native English speaker )

Another possible topic:
Nazis - Are humans evil by nature or is the term "evil" inappropriate?
What's the future of mankind?
 

mali

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So, luckily I made a backup of the stuff from the old thread. This is my personal problem I try to solve in my lifespan.
So there is "the past", "the present" and "the future".
I say present and future are illusions.
Why?
The past can't be questioned(yet).
The present is not tangible. At the very moment the present tries to exist it is already the past. The present _could_ exist if there were no time, but if there were no time, it _couldn't_ exist. Sounds stupid but it's just a paradox.
The future is just a theory, it's based on assumptions of the past. You think there were events in chronological order in the past so this must continue, how do you know?

This bugs me since I was a child. Is it possible to neglect existence via deductive reasoning or is it possible to prove infinity of existence?

My first assumption: You are all dead. You have only the past to think about, so your theoretical future ends with your last breath, which you already made, because you have no present to live in.

This is my proposition as a first topic. You can propose your own topics and we can discuss whatever we feel we have something constructive to add to.
 

mali

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The last time my "time" topic strayed and got confused with theories about the universe. I'd really like to keep it basic and keep it inside the borders of mind, thus leaving out technical achievements, theories that are based on outside informations. Let's start with the mind. I think, therefore I am, as René Descartes stated.
How the fuck fit's time in the scheme?
The last time my thoughts ended with this:
Immanuel Kant argued that space and time are conceptions of the mind and are not qualities of things. If this were true, then time wouldn't exist. It would just be an imagination. It would neglect any cause and effect theory. In my opionion it's not possible to obtain self-awareness without an universal concept of time. And there we get into the circle of Descartes' self-awareness deduction. Time is inherent in existence, else existence didn't exist.
 

mali

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Mr.Confuzed said:
WTF?

Are you trying to say that time is relative to your death? What's your point?
I try to find out if existence exists. In my theory it's possible that our definition of existence is wrong and what we call existence is in fact the attempt of trying to exist. A race of trying to become present. Think about it for a while. Think about time and what it means for your life. The things you do are already done when you start to think about them.
 
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mali

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Mr.Confuzed said:
How do you define existence?
I can't define existence. The problem with existence is that 'existence' is a word that has a certain meaning. Maybe that word is not accurate enough to describe what _I_ mean.

Let's try to remove the word 'existence'.

(side note: Family sits in the living room, watches the German version of American Idol and sings "country roads", hard to concentrate ;) )

edit:
Let's call the form of existence I mean existence(2)
I try to formulate what I mean. Is existence(2) a singularity or a process?

edit2:
Every time I think about it, I can't go beyond a certain point. I'm trying to create a deductive chain of evidences that are able to falsify or verify existence(2), that should allow to prove eternal being or not being at all. English makes me nuts, I can't write what I think.

edit3:
Proving something still means that the person who proves exists according to the definition of existence(1)
 
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polyroy

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I am tempted to respond... Prepare yourself :)

Existence is an observation. You know you exist when you are conscious of your own existence. Things exist once you become conscious of their existence. Every person observes the world in their own way; you become conscious of different things. This means that to every person, another world 'exists' based solely on their observations, which is their view of this world. The difference between the 'true' world and their world view is ignorance.

Regarding time: Let's assume that there is only one single world we all share, this means there is only one 'true' past and present, the way it really occurred. Present is not really present as at the time we observe it, it has already passed and we cannot change it. We can however decide on our actions (based on our observations) to shape the future.

Our observations however need to be stored. Our mind processes them and over time, amongst others unconsciously and through reflection, they become part of our identity. As our memory evolves, so does our perspective on this world, and so does our opinion on what we think exists.

Regarding life and death: these things matter only when you are conscious of them. I like to regard something to be 'alive' when it is either in a state of being conscious, or when it is still capable of fulfilling the function that you believe it is supposed to do. The second part is needed since I don't believe plants to be conscious of their own existence, but this has the side-effect that I also regard hard-drives and other inanimate objects as alive as opposed to dead, though I will acknowledge that they are inorganic :) It also removes any objections when applying this state to the severely mentally ill (their bodies still function, though they may no longer be conscious).

Regarding good/evil: There is a sense of "human nature" that dictates your general course of action. This "nature" is heavily influenced by your view of the world and thus your observed past. The difference between good and evil is mostly characterized by compassion - an emotion. Compassion is often expressed unequally over all things observed, and therefore again depends on a person's interpretation of good and evil. This is the most difficult part. I'm tending to express evil as the difference in compassion towards everything that exists in "the world that is the mean of the perspectives of all conscious beings". Note that I am not comparing it against the "true" world here, since it takes consciousness to acknowledge existence.

These are just my opinions, my perspective :) Make of them whatever you want, I hope they help somewhat. Also, I cannot promise to join any further discussion.
 

MonkeyChops

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isn't the effect part of cause and effect evidence enough for a future?

Could your problem with past present and future be solved by simply thinking of the present as the point in time in which the furture becomes the past instead of the present being an actual measurable period of time?
 

mali

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Thanks for your replies, so far :) I'll think about it and will comment soon.

edit:
Existence is an observation. You know you exist when you are conscious of your own existence. Things exist once you become conscious of their existence. Every person observes the world in their own way; you become conscious of different things. This means that to every person, another world 'exists' based solely on their observations, which is their view of this world. The difference between the 'true' world and their world view is ignorance.

Yes, this is the starting point of Descartes. When I think about that stuff I don't want to go beyond his second meditation, because the phenomenon of time is missing in his philosophy. I want to remove as much of the world as possible so that the remaining facts are easier to combine. So I think about thinking itself and I don't think about the world or reception of the world. The problem with this though is, that the dualismus of world and thinking isn't separable, because the thinking is apparently filled with the world. There must be someone who thinks and there must be something to think about. The minimum of the world that _must_ exist is the thinking itself. So it might be possible to assume that the world _is_ thinking. I can think about thinking and imagine the rest, that is basically what Descartes said.

So "I think therefore I am" is true
Another fact of the world(that in this hypothesis still only consists of thinking about thinking, to make it easier) is time.
Thinking is a process, so it contains time. If thinking was a singularity and creates time as a tool for thinking then the creation of time would also be a process and thus contain time.

Regarding life and death: these things matter only when you are conscious of them
That's the point. If you connect this with my provocative assumption, you might come to the conclusion that you won't die completely. You are conscious right now, and because of the properties of time you must always be conscious. Your consciousness can't end, because _if_ it would end it would _have_ ended already.

(to be continued)


Could your problem with past present and future be solved by simply thinking of the present as the point in time in which the furture becomes the past instead of the present being an actual measurable period of time?

This is exactly what I say. The imaginary future becomes the past. The problem is _points_ in time can't exist as long as time passes by. You can narrow it down but won't ever find _the present_.

isn't the effect part of cause and effect evidence enough for a future?

Thus I say imaginary future. The future is a theory. When something is added to the past it becomes evident, that it was the future before. Let's say I eat an egg. After I ate it I can say, before I ate it I had an egg and the eaten egg was the future at that time.

I can see that most of what I write sounds extremely stupid, but I just try to find a way to describe the phenomenon of time in a way compatible with thinking.

Actually this whole theoretical thinking is really boring and all, but the really exciting thing(in my opinion) is my provocative assumption I posted above:
My first assumption: You are all dead. You have only the past to think about, so your theoretical future ends with your last breath, which you already made, because you have no present to live in.
It's really hard to get the point of this assumption, but after you got it, it's an interesting experience.
 

mali

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polyroy said:
Regarding good/evil: There is a sense of "human nature" that dictates your general course of action. This "nature" is heavily influenced by your view of the world and thus your observed past. The difference between good and evil is mostly characterized by compassion - an emotion. Compassion is often expressed unequally over all things observed, and therefore again depends on a person's interpretation of good and evil. This is the most difficult part. I'm tending to express evil as the difference in compassion towards everything that exists in "the world that is the mean of the perspectives of all conscious beings". Note that I am not comparing it against the "true" world here, since it takes consciousness to acknowledge existence.

Actually I look at it from a different angle. My problem is that I can't construct conceptions of the world and start _somewhere_. I always feel the urge to go to the basics, like with that time stuff.
So the basic starting point is life.
Life started to exist. It got more complex, unicellular organisms evolved into multicellular etc. You know the rest.

In my opinion, life itself has a certain "aggressiveness"(ethical terms are actually inapproriate, let's say life "want's"(wrong term too, I know) to continue its existence), as it consumes what it finds to evolve further. So all creatures of evolution have the will to exist and to consume built in. Being "evil" is basically a principle that must exist for life to spread. In our culture the best principle for survival is peace and helpfulness as all humans are basically one lifeform. A collective like ants for example. This is the continuation of the basic principles of life to cooperate, like multicellular organisms, for example. You can say the cells cooperate.

So to cut a long story short, are humans "evil" by nature? Yes, they are. But they are also "good" by nature if its appropriate.
 
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senquack

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mali said:
So to cut a long story short, are humans "evil" by nature? Yes, they are. But they are also "good" by nature if its appropriate.

A good observation, pointing out how in order for life to evolve plenty of "evil" was necessary..

I am forever astounded at the disparity between the kindness and gentleness in people I meet day to day in comparison to what I know people have been capable of in history.

Is this as good as it gets? What if the overall level of good in people around the world increased a small amount, maybe 5%. Most people would say that'd be a good thing. Now, increase it to 100% good, no more bad people. Would that still be a good thing? I'm not sure! I want to say yes but I have a feeling that everything in nature is a tremendous balancing act and to tweak it like that might have unforseen consequences.
 
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Mr.Confuzed

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Okay, I get your theoretical future and your past concept. Hell, I can even wrap my head around the whole 'the present doesn't exist' idea. So what most people would call the present, you would call the recent past.

mali said:
[epic post]
My first assumption: You are all dead. You have only the past to think about, so your theoretical future ends with your last breath, which you already made, because you have no present to live in.
So you're saying that once you're dead, you're still conscious and have eternity to review your past. Or your consciousness just stalls because there is nothing left to think about.
 
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dflemstr

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mali said:
My first assumption: You are all dead. You have only the past to think about, so your theoretical future ends with your last breath, which you already made, because you have no present to live in.
OK, first of all, let's make this clear: I'm not empirical in my thinking at all, but am trying to always deal rationally with questions like these.

Now, according to Einstein, the string theorists, etc, you're absolutely correct: since the whole world can be condensed into at least 10 distinct dimensions, and since the world is completely deterministic (if we make enough observations, and even observe our observations etc, we could theoretically predict the future, because nothing "random" ever happens), death should be only one cube in that 10-dimensional space.

We, as "limited beings" in this universe, are only able to see four of these 10 dimensions, where one of the dimensions (time) is our dominant axis (we can walk back to a point in dimension 3 that we once were at, but we can't travel back in time and will never be able to). Other creatures (assuming that they possess consciousness and self-awareness) like e.g. archaebacteria are only able to view one dimension (time) with that being the dominant axis, since they have no way of telling where they are, or e.g. computers, which operate in one dimension too (the "impulses" dimension; computers are not time-aware).

In conclusion: Reality is a gigantic, static tensor of information, and we're only able to form a "view" on that tensor which we call "life", according to the string theory.

However, rationally, you cannot say that we all live in the same universe (we live in different spaces of dimension 9) since we cannot possibly observe what another being experiences to prove it, so we can't really make assumptions about the universe based on other's experiences. It follows, then, that your assumption that our personal time stops with "death" cannot possibly be true (rationally speaking of course), since none of us have lived long enough to check if it is, and the probability therefore is close to 0 that our experience actually ends with death. Now, I'm not religious in any way here; what I'm saying is that it is as probable that we *ourselves* will never die, but just continue to see those around us die(aka *I* am unique in *my* universe in that I will never die), as it is that we will experience some kind of afterlife etc (aka that everyone dies, but nobody's experience of the universe ends with death). What we see happen to others mustn't necessarily apply to us.

Now, mathematically speaking (and mathematics has been quite good at modelling the world so far), it is impossible for a dimension to *end*, and we don't observe any dimensions in the rest of the universe that *have* ended, so it is rather improbable that life our experience of the universe will end, ever. It is therefore not necessarily possible to say that "we're standing at one point (death) watching one line of the rest of the universe (our past)", but we have to instead say that "we ourselves" do not exist, but instead *are* views of the universe; e.g. "we" are just indescribable entities that act like "cameras" that observe the world around us, including a body that we use for gaining sensory input, and "we" are nothing more. I'm going to sound like a Buddhist if I say that our bodies are just mortal shells containing who we really are etc. so I won't, but I hope you get the idea behind what I mean. So, "we" aren't stationed somewhere in the describable universe, but are part of an external (11[sup]th[/sup], if you will) dimension that we cannot describe, and are just "watching" a lower dimensional space.

I speak as if all this is fact, but I do of course only make these conclusions based on what I myself know. If someone can find any contradictions, please share!
 
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mali

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Oh, what a great response :D
I'll process through it when I have the concentration needed for it.
Most of it goes beyond what's possible to think without outside information, but I have the feeling that there are very important aspects that can be veryfied via deduction.
One observation I made in the other thread is, that traditional philosophy and science are moving closer together since quantum theory.

Hmm.. as everything is basically relative you might even be able to set the mind as the reference point and reality branching out from there leading to the conclusion that the mind is eternal.
 

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Wow! There was a lot of text there, not all of which I've read, so I'm not certain it 'exists'

And here's the thing with existence - it's a circular argument

To exist (or be) you have to prove that you are here. But to prove you are here you need someone to prove it to and they also need to exist.

bringing time into things - does something exist if it doesn't affect anything else? how will something affect something else if there is no time?
So time is existence because to exist things need to change or be changed and be noticed to change.

Sometimes I wonder whether I exist because I am (a) not noticed or (b ) don't affect events (change stuff)
Sometimes it even makes me happy to be truly invisible, sometimes I feel like going postal ;)
 

polyroy

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Just my view of the process of "thought", about how consciousness is achieved and how it may end. (Sorry to derail some of your questions mali)

I consider the brain to be the sole source of thoughts. Synapses connecting a gigantic neural network will eventually form a conscience. We're not sure yet how our brains work, and the closest simulations of such complex neural networks are still far away from anything that can achieve consciousness, but once we get there, I expect a man-made simulation of the human brain to become conscious (after taking the same input of course). Our brain is a machine, if we damage it, we damage the process of thought. At birth (or some time before that), when this network is formed, a consciousness is created. At death, when this network breaks down, it is permanently destroyed, including all memories and experience. I haven't had any reason to think otherwise. Most people have issues with this kind of end, it is hard to accept emotionally that something is permanently gone. But such a consciousness tends to live on in part in the mind of another consciousness due to the impression that entity left behind, memories of them become part of our identity. You could say you "exist" more if you have more influence on the identity of future generations.

However, taking multi-dimensionality into account (thanks dflemstr), we are still constrained to control in 3 dimensions unless some entity that acknowledges our concept of consciousness helps our consciousness to live on in other dimensions (people like to call this God). It might even be possible that we are unaware that we are already having influence over other dimensions, which might return mystery to the process of thought and might make things such as consciousness without support in the currently observable dimensions possible - without a physical body or brain. The problem is, we can't verify this, and I don't think it makes sense to discuss the presence or absence of this until we have some means to verify any of this experimentally.

I particularly like the following explanation of multi-dimensionality by Wikipedia:
A standard analogy for this is to consider multidimensional space as a garden hose. If the hose is viewed from a sufficient distance, it appears to have only one dimension, its length. Indeed, think of a ball just small enough to enter the hose. Throwing such a ball inside the hose, the ball would move more or less in one dimension; in any experiment we make by throwing such balls in the hose, the only important movement will be one-dimensional, that is, along the hose. However, as one approaches the hose, one discovers that it contains a second dimension, its circumference. Thus, an ant crawling inside it would move in two dimensions (and a fly flying in it would move in three dimensions). This "extra dimension" is only visible within a relatively close range to the hose, or if one "throws in" small enough objects. Similarly, the extra compact dimensions are only "visible" at extremely small distances, or by experimenting with particles with extremely small wavelengths (of the order of the compact dimension's radius), which in quantum mechanics means very high energies (see wave-particle duality).

The "very high energies" from the last line can just be one way of influence, it makes it unlikely that our brains themselves can do this. However, it might even be some subtlety which is likely to happen. For example, I figure the exploitation of quantum entanglement in quantum computing is one of those.

There might even be an explanation to things such as claimed telepathy and prediction of the future (if it is in fact deterministic), though I tend to believe we cannot trust our minds enough to make any such claims. Especially not with things that could somehow be related to coincidence. Science will tell, eventually :)
 
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