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Posted by Harvey on August 31, 2002 23:38:44 UTC

Hello Luis,

***Unfortunately I think we’re hitting the same wall. But, I think your popularity and agreeableness may cause you to stretch yourself too thinly around these parts, so I plug away -- waiting for that moment when you’ve had time to step back and fully consider my position.***

I also share that concern. But, Dick seems to give up quite quickly.

~ Perception plus interpretation of perception equals consciousness.
~ I perceive, and interpret what I perceive.
C1 = I am a conscious being.***

A1 is a set of definitions. That is, you are defining the passive reaction to sense impressions as 'perception' and your active reaction as interpretation. C1 is a combined definition. It tells us nothing about ultimate reality.

~ I am a conscious being.
~ There is stuff other than me.
C2 = I am a fraction of the whole universe.***

What is stuff? How do you know that the stuff is actually 'out there' (outside of the conscious being)? What are your premises to obtain this conclusion? I am not defending solipsism, I'm only saying that ultimate knowledge cannot be obtained by which you can defeat solipsism. You can only resort to reasonable assumption.

~ As a fraction of the whole universe, I am prone to incorrectly judge what I see.
~ The universe does not make such mistakes.
C3 = I am an inherently fallible subject of the objective universe.***

What do you mean by the objective universe?

~ I am an inherently fallible subject of the objective universe, but I can write and speak my concepts, in effect separating them from myself.
~ Others may consider these separated concepts.
C4 = My conceptions, though innately erroneous due to their subjective origin, are capable of becoming objective things.***

What do you mean by objective things?

~ My conceptions, though innately erroneous due to their subjective origin, are capable of becoming objective things.
~ The more we objectify our considerations, the better/more accurate our conclusions about the objective universe become.
C5 = Ontology = an objective consideration of the universe is desirable and ‘approximable’ (sic).***

I can't buy into your second premise (A5). How can you objectify your considerations through subjective means? How do you know that your conclusions about the 'objective universe' are becoming more objective? Without the second premise, your conclusion (C5) is without any basis.

~ Ontology is the subjective attempt to best approximate objectivity while discussing ‘what is.’
~ Quantum Mechanics tells us that there are no such things as objects.
C6 = ? ***

I don't know what you mean by A6.

***I think some folks insist on separating perception from interpretation (into what you call epistemology and ontology) specifically to maintain the sense that objectivity and knowledge are givens. On the other hand, I think the person who frees himself from ontology altogether will be a lot quicker to assimilate counterintuitive findings.***

You can't free yourself from ontology. Your premises having an ontological basis show this.

***Some come away from Argument 6 asserting, ”QM arrives at an incomplete/unsatisfactory/erroneous ontology.” But the person who takes from this, and other counterintuitive theories, the suggestion that he might backtrack an Argument or more may be on his way to becoming an Agnostic (hooray!).***

I don't see the connection.

***If, while contemplating the Schrodinger’s Cat “paradox,” you conclude that QM is unsatisfactory, then I’d say you cannot assimilate its counterintuitive nature with your own biases. This, I’d further suggest, is due to your own requirement that the best assimilation is the one you can furthest push towards objectivity. But the agnostic is satisfied in pushing judgment away from his own “subjectivity,” and not necessarily towards any “objectivity,” a phenomenon that may or may not even exist.***

I haven't said that QM is unsatisfactory, nor would I say it. Remember, the reason that QM is accepted is because of the satisfactory basis by which we have come to see it as correct. If anything, we are persuaded toward a quantum ontology which fits in better with our overall basic sense impressions of the world.

***If the recognition of QM’s counterintuitive nature boils down to a rejection of “ultimate knowledge,” our conclusion becomes your two-tiered option (“we lack the necessary observations of every possible implication” vs. ”we must reject QM theory”) only if we are biased by Ontology.***

No, we are biased in ontology, that's why we accept (or lean heavily toward) quantum field and quantum theory ontologies. Those who want to believe we can know an ultimate reality might desire to reject quantum ontologies.

***To automatically deny that QM is a better representation of “the actual state of things” than one’s own commonsense beliefs is not testimony to ontology’s validity – I’d say just the opposite.***

I'm not following you here Luis. QM is accepted theory about how physics better describes reality. Hence, it is a better ontology than commonsense ontologies. However, QM ontology necessarily restricts what we can know about reality. I used it to show how it restricts us from knowing ultimate reality, but there are many other reasons why we cannot know an ultimate reality, QM is just one of those valid reasons.

***(Incidentally, by still adhering to the notion that “time passes,” you’ve shown me that you adapted your understanding of time to an “ontology.” Happily, this is consistent with your stance as an Ontologist. However, time itself does not pass.)***

I didn't say that time passes. What I said is " I think there are structures that somehow give birth to the passage of time (or our experience of the passage of time)." What that means is that there is a reason to why we experience the passage of time, and that reason has some type of structure (e.g., brain function, space-time fields, etc). However, I'm curious as to why you hold an ontological stance on time (i.e., that time does not pass). The passage of time and the expanse of space is one of the most powerful sensory experiences of being human. To say that there is no passage of time is an ontological statement. How do you know?

***Ontology requires that objectivity is a given (it is, after all, a branch of Metaphysics). But the agnostic not only recognizes his inability to know an objective reality, he also retreats from acknowledging ”objectivity” as a given.***

Now, I'm confused. A3, A4, and A5 all above (your arguments) mention the term objective as something that is obtainable. How can you acknowledge an objectivity to the world up above and deny it here?

***Asking an agnostic to discuss his ontology is like asking a man to discuss his ovaries. Still, somehow you continue to search for that mysterious place where I back everything up with a hidden ‘I know.’ Remember the dog analogy? Is there a hidden ‘I know’ behind all that seemingly primitive sleeping, barking, and scratching?***

Not true. Asking an agnostic his ontology is only asking to hear their premises, their logic, and their conclusions. If your premise talks in terms of something existing (or process existing, etc), then we are talking ontology. For example, if an agnostic talks about the big bang or biological evolution as something that actually happened, then that agnostic certainly has an ontological view (i.e., there is something factual about the universe which they believe to be true). Afterall, Luis, you believe that biological evolution actually happened, right?

***One post ago you’d separated Ontology from personal ontology in order to steer clear of metaphysics. My observation of your altered approach (“By now calling personal stances ‘ontological biases,’ . . .”) was an admiration of the maneuver, not a suggestion that you “claimed . . . a deeply held ontological view is unbiased.”***

I don't recall separating ontology from personal ontology to avoid metaphysics. I just wanted to designate ontology from epistemology. The two are often mixed and this creates profound confusion.

Warm regards, Harv

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