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On Metaphysics - Pattern Recognition — LiveJournal
November 8th, 2005
12:15 pm

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On Metaphysics
Existence isn't a monic or absolute property. I mean, does Mickey Mouse exist?

As a sentient being, mostly no. (Someone method-acting/role-playing Mickey Mouse kind of counts as a version of Mickey Mouse as a sentient being, in a very narrow sense.)

As a recognizable image, mostly yes. (The three-overlapping-circle motif will inspire a consistent experience of recognition in anyone who's been exposed to enough Disney products, but that's really a large class of images with very fuzzy boundaries.)

As a unitary individual, physically instantiated in the material body of an anthropomorphic mouse? Absolutely not.

As a copyrighted name governed by a certain body of laws and defended by a team of lawyers? Absolutely yes.


Platonism is stupid.

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From:claudelemonde
Date:November 8th, 2005 06:32 pm (UTC)
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THANK YOU. oats.
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From:el_christador
Date:November 8th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)
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Yes.
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From:astronomick
Date:November 8th, 2005 06:48 pm (UTC)
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Whatever school-y precision I may once have possessed on this subject, if any, has since evaporated. Let's call that my disclaimer.

In any case, what's always struck me about existence is the fact that anything exists at all. As to what in particular exists and in what way, these are just details. In certain frames of mind I have a hard time distinguishing one thing from another: it's all just flux. In this sense existence does seem monistic to me, as opposed to non-existence. Or is this even the right way to talk about existence? Should existence be treated as a property? Could be my brain, whatever that is, is a bit muddled, whatever that means.

But I'm serious about being puzzled over the question about why there is existence at all, which seems far more significant to me than the rest of it.
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From:st_rev
Date:November 8th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC)
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I endorse this message.
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From:simon_draskovic
Date:November 8th, 2005 06:51 pm (UTC)
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The existence of something in concept (God, perpetual motion machine, Wyoming) doesn't have a bearing on that something's existence in non-concept form. I would get into arguments with others in high school on this topic. "You say God doesn't exist. But you can't deny him without acknowledging him. Therefore, you believe in God, even though you claim otherwise." Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
From:aphorisic
Date:November 8th, 2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
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PWNED

I have nothing of value to add to this conversation.
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From:st_rev
Date:November 8th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC)
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I might venture to say that 'existence' is a poorly-thought-out agglomeration of several distinct properties, which I will list in ascending order of epistemological solidity. I am going to skip a lot of interrelations, comments on neurobiology, and other faffle.

1) Conceptualizability. We have to be able to form a mental representation of a thing before we can contemplate its thinginess, so this is a prerequisite. Many fallacies amount to accidentally or deliberately confusing this property with existence.

2) Observability. Do we obtain sense-data that seems to be produced by a 'thing' we have conceptualized?

3) Effectiveness. Do we witness effects on the rest of the world (beyond basic sense-data of the 'thing' in itself) that seem to be produced by the 'thing' we have conceptualized?

4) Affectability. Can we take actions that produce effects on the 'thing'?

Or in simple terms: 1) Can we name it, 2) Can we see it, 3) Can we track it, 4) Can we kill it?
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From:st_rev
Date:November 8th, 2005 07:23 pm (UTC)
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"You say Cookie Monster doesn't exist. But you can't deny him without acknowledging him. PLUS you've SEEN Cookie Monster and HEARD HIS VOICE. Therefore you believe in Cookie Monster more than you believe in God."
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From:twoeleven
Date:November 8th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
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platonism makes euclidean geometry work.
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From:st_rev
Date:November 8th, 2005 07:48 pm (UTC)
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No, it's just a fairy-story to calm down people who find Euclid spooky.
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From:dougo
Date:November 8th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC)
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EXISTENZ... IS PAUSED!
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From:el_christador
Date:November 8th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC)
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The way I figure it, I got my internal "consciousness" (whatever that is, but I know it's there), and my sensory experiences. Regularities in my sensory experiences make it convenient to model an "external world" which is somehow real and exists.

There is only one question on which I can see that it matters whether the external world is real or is just a consistent illusion (i.e. the solipsist or not question): suffering of others. If it's just an illusion and there aren't other real consciousnesses out there, what do I care about suffering of others? I might as well be (in effect) a sociopath, although I'd probably be happier not being one. But if other consciousnesses actually exist, then I'd feel kind of bad about the "sociopath" route.
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From:el_christador
Date:November 8th, 2005 08:26 pm (UTC)
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"which is somehow real and exists"

Sorry. Should be "which I think of as somehow being real and existing".
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From:st_rev
Date:November 8th, 2005 08:28 pm (UTC)
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I endorse this message.
From:ex_mimic736
Date:November 8th, 2005 09:59 pm (UTC)
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Yay, I indirectly caused this post!

Yeah, it does seem pretty stupid, as they come.
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