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Archive for May, 2011

World of the Solitary Mind

Posted by allzermalmer on May 20, 2011

This blog will be derived from a chapter from Walter Terence Stace in his book The Theory of Existence and Knowledge called The World of the Solitary Mind.

When it comes to knowledge, we must begin from our own consciousness. We must start with only what we are aware of, which is our own thoughts and perceptions, since these are self-evident to us. This is the building block of all of our knowledge, and the only thing that can be strictly known by us.

John can only experience his own sensations and thoughts. John can see his purple, yet he can never see Jane’s purple. John can feel his pain in his arm, yet he can never feel Jane’s pain in her arm. John can feel his own emotions, yet he can never feel Jane’s emotions. If Jane is angry, her anger can infect John, yet this would be John’s anger and not Jane’s. John cannot see through Jane’s eyes, nor her through his eyes. Even if Jane were telepathic and could transfer her mental state or image to John’s mind, and he became aware of it, then it is John’s mental image and not Jane’s mental image. Even if John can directly perceive Jane’s mind, without inferring it from her body, it is still his perception of her body that will be his perception, his experience.

All knowledge must be based on experience. Whatever belief John holds, on any subject matter at all, will either be a datum from his experience or an inference based upon his data. If John accepts a scientific belief of a scientists authority, it must be an inference which John makes from the sounds he hears the scientist utter, and his belief in the repute as a scientific authority.  His belief rests, in the end, upon the data of his own consciousness.

The solitary mind, our own thoughts and data, are the foundation of all our knowledge. However, we can add other things upon it, like discovering other minds and our construction of the external world. Just because other minds are discovered and the external world is constructed, does not mean that we leave the solitary mind. It is the foundation upon which other things are built up. Like the root of the tree is the foundation of the tree, and no matter how much it grows, the roots are still there as the tree grows. Also, the solitary mind is the foundation of the building. The foundation is not abolished when upper stories are added upon it. It is still there. Thus, like the solitary mind, we added many rich editions to our knowledge, and build up more and more upon it. However, our foundation is never left behind, or made invalid.

The world we start from is presentations.

There are 3 distinguishing characters of the world of the solitary mind that differs from common world, when it comes to presentations like tables, chairs, and mountains:

(1.) Things do not go on existing when not perceived. The solitary mind has no reason to think that presentations go on existing when they are not being perceived. When the table is no longer presented to the solitary mind, it has no reason to think that it goes on existing. This is not a presentation. If it should go on existing when not a presentation to the solitary mind, it would not be a belief to occur to the solitary mind, since it would not be needed to account for any experiences that the mind has.

(2.) There are no other minds. The world of the solitary mind is not ‘public property’. The solitary mind is not even aware of the existence of other minds. Other people exist only as presentations, like a moving color patch among other color patches, and sounds that we call speech. The solitary mind does not come to believe that there is a mind behind these color patches and sounds, like it has itself. It does not come to believe that the color patches have something behind it that thinks and feels like itself.

(3.) Have not identified sensations to belong to one ‘object’. John sees a table and touches the table. Sight and touch are two different and opposing senses, and so they are not combined together with the ‘object’ known as the table. John’s sight of the table is different from the touch of it. The senses exist in different universes from one another. They are only conjoined at a later time.

For the solitary mind, esse of things are identical with their percipi. In other words, the existence of something is constituted by the very fact that it is being perceived. The differentiation between esse and percipi only happens when what is perceived persists in existence when no other mind is perceiving it. However, none of this can be drawn by the solitary mind. The solitary mind can make no distinction between ‘purple’ and ‘awareness of purple’. Thus, purple=awareness of purple. To differentiate between ‘purple’ and ‘awareness of purple’ can only come about at a later point when the external world is constructed, and other minds are discovered.

When a black book passes before John’s mind, and then taken away, the black book will disappear and no longer exist to him. Even if the black book were to be brought back before John, he will have no reason to think that the black book continued in existence. He will even think that it is a different black book presented to his mind. The book will still have the same color and shape, yet it will not be the same thing to his mind. It is something completely new and different from the last presentation. It cannot be a presentation that it goes on existing, since there is no perception of it existing when unperceived, since that would be logically impossible by it being a contradiction. It cannot be an inference, since it does not know that it exist unperceived and it would have to assume something that it has no evidence for, in order to make an inference to that conclusion. It would be arguing in a circle.

The idea of I and not-I are distinctions that come about when we have constructed the external world, but it is not something of the solitary mind. Thus, for the solitary mind, there is no I. There is only the presentations. For ‘purple’ and ‘awareness of purple’ are one in the same, since esse is percipi. We can call the presentations ‘sense data’. The percipi is the perceiver, which is what we call the I. The esse is what we call the not-I. However, with the solitary mind, these things are one and the same. Thus, all that can be said to exists is presentations, or sense data. There is no I, and only not-I. There is only sense data. All that exists is sense data, or, All that exists is presentations.

Only by coming to find other minds, and construction of the external world, can we make the distinction between I and not-I. The solitary mind is the starting point of investigation, and is the foundation of all things. This is based on purely empiricist position of all knowledge is based on experience. As David Hume also showed, it is the logical conclusion of the empiricist position, or all knowledge comes from experience.

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Categorical Logic

Posted by allzermalmer on May 16, 2011

So what is Logic? Logic is “the study of methods for evaluating whether the premises of an argument adequately support its conclusion.” (The Power of Logic 4th edition). Now there are three words in such a definition that would need some answers as to what they themselves mean. Those words are argument, premises, and conclusion.
An argument  is a “set of statements where some of the statements, called the premises, are intended to support another, called the conclusion.” (The Power of Logic 4th edition).  So we can take away something from this. We have a set of statements that lead to another statement. Now we could wonder, what is a statement? A statement is “declarative statement that is either true or false” (The Power of Logic 4th edition. In some cases you can interchange between the words statement and proposition. In some texts they use the word statement, and in some other texts they use the word proposition.

Now that we know what statements are, and premises and conclusions are statements, we might wonder what is a premise and conclusion. A premise is “a statement we know, or strongly believe, to be true”. A conclusion is “a statement derived, or supported, by the premises”

Now sometimes it works that we come up with a statement, this would be our conclusion. Now we want to support this conclusions, this statement, and so we support this conclusion with a set of premises. We say, from these premises, we are lead to this conclusion.

Let me give an example: I say, “Socrates is mortal”. Now we want to know how did I arrive at this statement, which is the conclusion. So I would support this statement (conclusion), with another set of statements (premises). These premises would be, “All men are mortal” & “Socrates is a man”. Thus, our argument would look like this: (Premise 1) All men are mortal. (Premise 2) Socrates is a man. (Conclusion) Socrates is mortal. This forms an argument, and we find we have a conclusion that necessarily follows form its premises. Now this argument is valid.

Now the question would be? What does it mean for an argument to be valid? A valid argument is where “the premises succeed in guaranteeing the conclusion”. The other way of seeing this is as, the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises. Now the opposite of a valid argument is an invalid argument. So what is an invalid argument? An invalid argument is in which “the premises fail to guarantee the conclusion”. The other way of seeing this is as, the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises.

Valid and invalid are terms that are only used in deductive logic. These terms are used for deductive arguments. So the question becomes, what is a deductive argument? A Deductive argument is “an argument in which the premises are intended to guarantees the conclusion”. Deductive arguments are valid arguments, because the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises. The conclusion is guaranteed to follow from the premises.

Now one main point we can take is this: Logic is concerned about the form of the argument, which includes that the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises.

Now there are three axioms of logic. These are the law of identity, the law of excluded middle, and the law of non-contradiction.

The Law of Identity is “every individual thing is identical to itself”. It carries this symbolic form: A–>A or A=A. (the symbol of “–>” of “If…then” statements in propositional logic). An example would be like this: “If the sun is yellow in color, then the sun is yellow in color” or “the sun is yellow in color is the sun is yellow in color”

The Law of Excluded Middle is “every statement is either true or false”.  It carries this symbolic form: Av~A ( the symbol “v” is an “or” operator that we will come to in propositional logic). An example would be like this: “The sun is yellow in color or the sun is not yellow in color”. (The law of excluded middle is used when we get to truth-tables in propositional logic)

The Law of Non-Contradiction is “given any statement and its opposite, one is true and the other false”. It carries this symbolic form: ~(A&~A) (the symbol of “~” stands for “not“, and the symbol “&” stands for “and“). An example would be like this: “Not both the sun is yellow in color and the sun is not yellow in color”.

Now that we set up some of the basics, we can get into categorical syllogisms and propositional logic.

Categorical Syllogisms

Now categorical syllogisms deal with statements that tell us something about the relationship between categories. So we can give a definition to categorical statement. A Categorical Statement is “an assertion or denial that all or some members of the subject class are included in the predicate class”
( Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition) Now before we continue on with Categorical Syllogisms, now that we defined a Categorical statement, we should define what a syllogism is.

A Syllogism is “any deductive argument in which the conclusion is inferred from two premises” (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition)

We have three types of statements in syllogisms. (1.) Universal statements, (2.) Particular statements, & (3.) Singular statements.

A Universal Statement is “a proposition that refers to all the members of a class”. A Particular Statement is “a proposition that refers to some but not all the members of a class. A Singular Statement is “a proposition that asserts that a particular individual has (or has not) some specified attribute”. (Introduction to Logic 13th edition)

Now I will try to break these three statements down some. All Universal and Particular statements involve general terms (categories). A General Term is “any word or phrase that describes or designates a general class of individuals” ( Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). General terms are indefinite descriptions that follow the form of “a so-and-so”. They would be something like these:  “a cute baby”, “charming”, “drives a Buick”. General terms are symbolized with capital letters; So “a cute baby” can be symbolized with “C”. A cute baby=C.

All Singular statements have at least one singular term. A Singular Term is “a word or expression that truly can designate only one individual (e.g., a proper name or a definite description)”. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). Singular terms are definite descriptions that follow the form of “the so-and-so”. They would be something like this: “the world’s cutest baby”, “this child”, “David”. Singular terms are symbolized with small letters; So “the world’s cutest baby” can be symbolized with “c”. The world’s cutest baby=c.

We have 8 forms of statements in syllogisms:
Four Categorical statements:
1. (A) Universal Affirmative: All A are B
2. (E) Universal Negative: No A are B
3. (I) Particular Affirmative: Some A are B
4. (O) Particular Negative: Some A are not B

The other four are singular statements, and two have a general term involved, and two have no general term:
5. Singular with one general term: a is B
6. Singular with one general term: a is not B
7. Singular with no general term: a is b
8. Singular with no general term: a is not b

Now I shall give an example of all 8 of these forms with actual english sentences.

All A are B: ‘All men are a cute person’
No A are B: ‘No men are a cute person’
Some A are B: ‘Some men are a cute person”
Some A are not B: ‘Some men are not a cute person’
a is B: ‘Gondoliere is a cute person’
a is not B: ‘Gondoliere is not a cute person’
a is b: ‘Gonoliere is the cutest person’
a is not b: ‘Gondoliere is not the cutest person’

Now with our four categorical statements of A, E, I, and O, they each have their own logical equivalents. Being Logically equivalent  means that the statements “have the same meaning, and may therefore replace one another whenever they occur”. For example, in english Bachelor means unmarried male. So any time we say bachelor, we are saying they are an unmarried male. And when we say someone is an unmarried male, we are also saying that they are a bachelor. They are equivalent to each other. So we can make an immediate inference. An Immediate inference is “an inference that is drawn directly from one premise without the mediation of any other premise”. (Introduction to Logic 13th edition)

We have the immediate inferences of conversion, obversion, and contraposition.

Conversion is “the result of interchanging the subject and predicate terms in a categorical statement”. (The Power of Logic 4th edition). The statement that we immediately derive in conversion is known as the converse. The Converse is “the result of interchanging the subject and predicate terms in a categorical statement”. We can do conversion with E and I categorical statements to obtain their converse. So this is how it would look:

(E) No A is B= No B is A
No plants are animals= No animals are plants
(I) Some A is B= Some B is A
Some plants are trees= Some trees are plants

Now before I talk about obversion, I have to set something up so we can better understand obversion. Each class/category, has its complement. A Complement is “the complement of class/category X is the class containing all things that are not a member of class/category X”. (The Power of Logic 4th edition). For example, the complement of the class/category of tree is the class/category containing all nontrees, which is, everything that is not a tree (horse, hawks, humans, hamburgers, and son).

Now each term has a term-complement. A Term-Complement is “a word or phrase that denotes a class/category complement” (The Power of Logic 4th edition). So the term-complement of “dogs” is “nondogs”, which denotes the class of everything that is not a dog. Now a term-complement should not be confused with a contrary term. So, the term “winner” should not be confused with “loser”, but is “nonwinner”, which includes nonwinners like players who tie, nonplayers, and losers.

Now when we get to term-complement with more than one word, like “wild dogs”, the term complement would not be “non wild-dogs”, since it contains a class that includes everything outside of the class connotated by the term wild dogs. So the term-complement of “wild dogs” is “things that are not wild dogs”, which includes a class that includes both tame dogs and nondogs. So this would include, in nondogs, as wild geese, since they are nondogs.

So Obversion is “a process of immediate inference by which a logically equivalent statement is formed from a categorical statement by changing its quality and negating the predicate term” (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). Now we change the statement to its obverse, and the Obverse is ” the result of changing the quality of a categorical statement and replacing the predicate terms with its term-complement”. (The Power of Logic 4th edition)

So here is how obversion works with all four categorical terms:
(A) All A are B= No A are not-P
All trees are plants= No trees are nonplants
No A are B= All A are not-B
No cats are trees= All cats are nontrees
Some A are B= Some A are not not-B
Some trees are oaks= Some trees are not nonOaks (this involves double negation)
(O) Some A are not B= Some A are non-B
Some trees are not oaks= Some trees are nonoaks

Contraposition is “a process of immediate inference by which the subject and predicate of a categorical statement trade places, and each is negated. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition).

(A) All A are B= All non-B are non-A
All cats are mammals= All nonmammals are noncats
(O) Some A are not B= Some non-B are non-A
Some plants are not weeds= Some nonweeds are not nonplants

Now the four categorical statement forms form what we call the square of opposition. The Square of opposition is “A diagram displaying the logical relations between categorical statements having the same subject and predicate terms”. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition)

There are two diagrams of the square of opposition, and here is the Traditional Square of Opposition:

Now here is the Modern Square of Opposition:

Now, there is a vital difference between the traditional square of opposition, and the modern square of opposition. But before we go over those differences, we should start out with how the Traditional Square of Opposition works.

The traditional square of opposition has the terms contradictories, contraries, subcontraries, and subalternation. Now we should go over what some of these terms mean, and how they work.

Contradictories are “two propositions so related that one is the denial or negation of the other”. (Introduction to Logic 13th edition). This means that contradictory statements cannot both be true, or false, at the same time. This means that both statements, which are contradictory, have the same subject and predicate terms, but they are different to each other in both quantity and quality. So the categorical statements of (A) and (O) are contradictories, as are the categorical statements of (E) and (I). So All A are B is contradicted by Some A is not B, and No A is B is contradicted by Some A are B.

(A) All A is B :: (O)  Some A is not B
All cats are animals :: Some cats are not animals
(E) No A is B :: (I) Some A is B
No cats are animals :: Some cats are animals

Contraries  are “two propositions so related that they cannot both be true, although both may be false” (Introduction to Logic 13th edition). They cannot both be true, but they can both be false. Take this example of two statements: ‘The Ravens will win the game against the Steelers”‘ or “The Steelers will win against the Ravens”. If these two propositions refer to the same game, then one has to be true and the other false. Now they are not contradictory since the game could be a draw, and so both would be false. So they cannot both be true, but they could both be false. So (A) propositions are contrary to (E) propositions.

(A) All A are B :: (O) No A are B
All poets are dreamers :: No poets are dreamers
* Now they cannot both be true, but they could both be false since there might not be any poets at all.

Subcontrariers are “two propositions so related that they cannot both both be false, although they may both be true”. (Introduction to Logic 13th edition).  Both particular statements have the same subject and predicate terms, but they are differing in quality (one affirming the other denying). So “some diamonds are precious stone” and “some diamonds are not precious stone” could both be true, but they could not both be false. (I) and (O) statements are subcontrariers.


(I) Some A are B :: (O) Some A are not B
Some diamonds are precious stones :: Some diamonds are not precious stones

Subalternation are “are the relation on the square of opposition between a universal proposition and its corresponding particular proposition.” (Introduction to Logic 13th edition). Two statements have the same subject and predicate terms, and agree on quality (affirming/denying), but differ in quantity (one universal and one particular). So the (I) statement is the subalternation of (A) statement, and the (O) statement is the subalternation of the (E) statement.

(A) All A are B :: (I) Some A are B
All spiders are 8 legged animals :: Some spiders are 8 legged animals
(E) No A are B :: (O) Some A are not B
No whales are fish :: Some whales are not fish

Now that we have gone over traditional square of opposition, it is time to speak of the problems with the traditional square of opposition. It is because of these problems that a modern square of opposition was developed. Once we go over the problems of the traditional square of opposition, we will go over the modern square of opposition and see why we use the modern square of opposition now.

Problems of traditional square of opposition:

This problem revolves around existential import. Existential import is “an attribute of those propositions which normally assert the existence of objects of some specified kind.”(Introduction to Logic 13th edition). (I) and (O) statements carry existential import, and traditional interpretation of categorical statements say that (A) and (E) statements carry existential import. However, the modern interpretation differs from traditional interpretation on these issues.

So the (I) statement of “Some soldiers are heroes” says that there exists at least one soldier who is a hero. The (O) statement of “Some dogs are not companions” says that there exists at least one dog that is not a companion. So (I) and (O) statements do assert that the class designated by their subject terms are not empty, and each has at least one member in it. So by subalteration we find that (I) and (O) statements validly follow from (A) and (E) statements. So (A) and (E) statements must also have existential import, because a statement with existential import cannot be derived validly from another that does not have such import.

We know that (A) and (O) statements are contradictories on the traditional square of oppositions. So “All Danes speak English” is contradicted by “Some Danes do not speak English”. Contradictories cannot both be true, and both cannot both be false, since one must be true. Now if both (A) (Universal statement) and (O)  (particular statement) have existential import, then both contradictories could both be false. Let us take another example: “All inhabitants of Mars are blond” and “Some inhabitants of Mars are not Blond”. They are contradictories and would, under traditional assumption, have existential import. So we assume that both statements are asserting that there are inhabitants of Mars, then both propositions are false if Mars has no inhabitants. So if Mars has no inhabitants, then the class of its inhabitants are empty. Thus, both of the propositions would be false. Now if they are both false, then they cannot be contradictories.

Now if the traditional square of opposition is correct about existential import, and it states that (A) is the contradictory of (O) and (E) is the contradictory of (I), then the square is not correct that they are contradictory based on the idea of existential import. We are clearly left with a contradiction, which violates the Law of Non-contradiction ~(A&~A). Not both the traditional square of opposition has contradictories and the traditional square of opposition does not have contradictories.

Modern solution to Traditional Square of Opposition:

We can solve this problem to the traditional square of opposition, but the price can seem high in doing so. In order to solve this problem, we presuppose that the categories are not empty. For example, take the question “Have you stopped beating your wive?”. This question presupposes that you have beat your wife, so it presuppose that the category is not empty. So if we can answer this question “yes” or “no” that I have stopped, or not, of beating my wife. Now if we we don’t presuppose that I have beat my wife, then I don’t have to answer “yes” or “no”. The category is empty when we don’t make that presupposition, and the category is not empty when we do make the presupposition.

So to rescue the square of opposition, then we insist that all statements, like (A), (E), (I), and (O), that the categories that they refer do have members  (so they are not empty). So the truth and falsehood of the statements, and logical relation among them, can be answered (under this interpretation) if we never presuppose that they are empty. Under this interpretation of presupposition; (A) and (E) will remain contraries; (I) and (O) will remain contraries; (A) and (O) will remain contradictories, as well (E) and (I).

The first problem with these presuppositions is this: If we presuppose that the class designated has members, we can never be able to formulate a statement that denies that it has members, since we presuppose that they do have members. The second problem with these presuppositions is this: Sometimes what we say doesn’t presuppose that there are any members of the category that we are talking about.

Now the modern square of opposition does not make any presupposition. Instead, it works as follows:

(1.) (I) and (O) statements continue to have existential import. So the statement “Some A are B” is false if the category of A is empty, and same for “Some A are not B”.

(2.) Universal statements, (A) and (E), are contradictories of particular statements, (O) and (I).

(3.) Universal statements are interpreted as having no existential import. So if category A is empty, the statement “All A are B” can be true, and so can the statement “No A are B”. Take this example: “All unicorns have horns” and “no unicorns have wings” may both be true, even if there are no unicorns. However, if there are no unicorns, the (I) statement “Some unicorns have horns” is false, and so is the (O) statement “Some unicorns do not have wings”.

(4.) We can utter universal statements which we intend to assert existence. However, in doing so requires two statements, one existential in force but particular, and the other universal but not existential in force.

(5.) Corresponding (A) and (E) statements can both be true and are thus not contraries. They would carry this propositional logic form, which we get to later on. (A) All unicorns have wings= If there is a unicorn, then it has wings; (E) No unicorns have wings= If there is a unicorn, then it does not have wings. And both of these “if…then” statements can be true even if there are no unicorns.

(6.) Corresponding (I) and (O) statements are not subcontraries. They do have existential import, and can both be false if the subject class is empty.

(7.) Subalternation, inferring an (I) statement from an (A) statement or an (O) statement from an (E) statement, is generally not valid. This is because one may not validly infer a statement that has existential import from one that does not.

(8.) Now for this point, I have given conversion, contraposition, and obversion, all based on the modern interpretation. So this point is not necessary to explain what it was. However, with the traditional square of opposition, there were more conversions and contrapositions, but they are not really allowed with the modern interpretation.

(9.) Relations along the sides of the square are undone, but the diagonal, contradictory relations remain in force.

The existential presupposition is rejected by modern logicians. So it is a mistake to assume that a class has members if it is not asserted explicitly that it does. So if an argument relies on assumption of existential import, without explicitly stating it, relies on the existential fallacy.
Finding out if a syllogism is valid:

Here is a syllogism, and one that is valid:

Premise 1: No heroes are cowards (No A are B) (E)
Premise 2: Some soldiers are cowards (Some A are B) (I)
Conclusion: Some soldiers are not heroes (Some A are not B) (O)

The proposition above has three terms in it. It carries the terms heroes, cowards, and soldiers. Our conclusion is important in figuring out how to create a valid syllogism. Remember how I said that we usually come up with the conclusion first, and then support it with some premises? Well, this is where that comes back into play. In the conclusion, we find that the last sentence has a subject and predicate.The subject is soldiers and the predicate is heroes.

There are three terms involved in a valid syllogisms. They are major term, middle term, and minor term. The Major Term is “the term of the categorical syllogism that appears as the predicate term of the conclusion”, which would be “heroes” in the foregoing argument. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). The Minor Term is “the term in the categorical syllogism that occurs as the subject term of the conclusion”, which would be “soldiers” in the foregoing argument. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). The Middle Term is “the term in a categorical syllogism that appears in both premises but not in the conclusion”, which would be “cowards” in the foregoing argument. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition)

The premises of a syllogism also have terms to go along with them, besides the terms that show up in them. There are three premises in a syllogism. They are major premise, minor premise, and conclusion. We have already gone over conclusion, so now it is time to deal with major premise and minor premise.

A Major premise is “the premise of a categorical syllogism containing the major term”, which would be the first premise of the foregoing argument (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). A Minor premise is “the premise of a categorical syllogism containing the minor term”, which would be the second premise of the foregoing argument. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition).

So let us go back over the syllogism that I started out with, but list what they are and what is going on.

(E) No heroes are cowards:: It is the major premise, and has “heroes” as the major term and “cowards” as the middle term.
(I) Some soldiers are cowards:: It is the minor premise, and has “soldiers” as the minor term and “cowards” as the middle term.
(O) Some soldiers are not heroes:: It is the conclusion, and has “soldiers” as the minor term (subject) and “heroes” as the major term (predicate)

Each categorical syllogism has a mood. A Mood is “the specification of the categorical forms of a syllogism arranged in standard order (major premise, minor premise, and conclusion)”. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). For example, each premise of a categorical syllogism is made up (A), (E), (I), and (O) premises. These types of statements make up the mood of an argument. For example, the argument that I presented carries the mood of (E), (I), and (O).

Now categorical syllogisms also have a figure. A figure is “the arrangement of the middle term in the premise of a categorical syllogism”. (Logic: An Introduction 2nd edition). There are four figures to a categorical syllogism. Here are the four figures of a categorical syllogism.

That is the four figures of a categorical syllogism, and here are the rules to it.

(1.) Middle term may be the subject term of the major premise and predicate term of the minor premise.
(2.) Middle term may be the predicate term of both premises.
(3.)  Middle term may be the subject term of both premises.
(4) Middle term may be the predicate term of the major premise and the subject term of the minor premise.

Now there are 256 possible syllogisms that one can come up with (4×64=256). However, there are only 15 syllogisms that are valid. Let us go over the 15 valid forms of a categorical syllogism.

There are four valid syllogisms following figure 1. They all carry a certain mood along with them, as they follow a certain figure. So these syllogisms all follow figure 1.
1. AAA-1:: barabara
All M are P
All S are M
All S are P
2. EAE-1:: celarent
No M are P
All S are M
No S are P
3. AII-1:: darii
All M are P
Some S are M
Some S are P
4. EIO-1:: ferio
No M are P
Some S are M
Some S are not P

There are four valid syllogisms following figure 2. They all carry a certain mood along with them, as they follow a certain figure. So these syllogisms all follow figure 2.
1. AEE-2:: camestres
All P are M
No S are M
No S are P
2. EAE-2:: cesare
No P are M
All S are M
No S are P
3. AOO-2:: baroko
All P are M
Some S are not M
Some S are not P
4. EIO-2:: festino
No P are M
Some S are M
Some S are not M

There are four valid syllogisms following figure 3. They all carry a certain mood along with them, as they follow a certain figure. So these syllogisms all follow figure 3.
1. AII-3:: datisi
All M are P
Some M are S
Some S are P
2. IAI-3:: disamis
Some M are P
All M are S
Some S are P
3. EIO-3:: ferison
No M are P
Some M are S
Some S are not P
4. OAO-3:: bokardo
Some M are not P
All M are S
Some S are not P

There are three valid syllogisms following figure 4. They all carry a certain mood along with them, as they follow a certain figure. So these syllogisms all follow figure 4.
1. AEE-4:: camenes
All P are M
No M are S
No S are P
2. IAI-4:: dimaris
Some P are M
All M are S
Some S are P
3. EIO-4:: fresison
No P are M
Some M are S
Some S are not P

There are six rules to make a valid syllogism. I shall list those 6 rules, but it should be known that if you follow the figure and mood that I gave above, then you have a valid syllogism.

Rule 1. Standard-form syllogism must contain exactly three terms, each of which is used in the same sense throughout the argument. Violation: Fallacy of four terms

Rule 2. In a valid standard-form categorical syllogism, the middle term must be distributed in at least one premise. Violation: Fallacy of Undistributed Middle

Rule 3. In a valid standard-form categorical syllogism, if either term is distributed in the conclusion, then it must be distributed in the premises. Violation: Fallacy of illicit major, or fallacy of illicit minor

Rule 4. No standard-form categorical syllogism having two negative premises is valid. Violation: Fallacy of exclusive premises

Rule 5. If either premise of a valid standard-form categorical syllogism is negative, the conclusion must be negative. Violation: Fallacy of drawing an affirmative conclusion from a negative premise

Rule 6. No valid standard-form categorical syllogism with a particular conclusion can have two universal premises. Violation: Existential fallacy

However, Harry Gensler in Introduction to Logic, gives us a very simple way to find out if a syllogism is valid or not. It is called the Star Test.

So let us return to the 8 statements of syllogisms:
1. All A are B
2. No A are B
3. Some A are B
4. Some A are not B
5. a are B
6. a are not B
7. a are b
8. a are not b

Pay attention to the ones that are in bold and italicized, since that is very important to the Star Test.

A letter is distributed in a valid syllogism if it occurs just after “All” or anywhere after “No” or “not”.

So by definition, (1.) The first letter after “All” is distributed, but not the second. (2.) Both letters after “No” are distributed. (3.) The Letter after “not” is distributed.

So the Start Test for a syllogism goes as follow:  Star the distributed letters in the premises and undistributed letters in the conclusion. Then the syllogism is VALID if and only if every capital letter is starred exactly once and there is exactly one star on the right-handed side.

So a valid argument must satisfy two conditions: (1.) Each capital letter is starred in one and only one occurrence. (Small letters can be starred any number of times.) (2.) Exactly one right-handed letter (letter after “are” or “are not”) is starred.

Let me give you an example of a valid argument with the Star Test.

Example 1:
All A* are B
Some C are A
Some C* are B*

Now we notice that the argument is in figure 1, and has the mood of AII. So it is AII-1, which is a Darii syllogism.

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Construction of the External World Pt. 6

Posted by allzermalmer on May 16, 2011

This is the final blog on the construction of the external world. You can read the last blog on it here.

Construction Six: That the different senses we may perceive the ‘same’ objects, and that the worlds of the different senses are, in general, identical with one another.

When John is sitting at his desk, he sees a wall. He sees that the wall is purple. He stretches out his hand to touch the wall. It is hard and smooth to his touch. And John comes to think that the wall that he sees and the touch he feels belong to the same ‘object’. This is what the 6th construction says, which follows from the 5th construction. But is the object that John sees and touch the same thing? This does not seem to be the case, and that is what the 6th construction build up.

John’s visual precept of the all is purple and shiny. His tactile precept is of resistance to his hand. However, the purple patch and the feel of resistance cannot be identified together. They do not even bear a hint of resemblance to one another. When John and Jane identified their purple’s with each other, they were supposed that they resembled each other. And if a mind could perceive both, which is logically impossible, that mind would perceive a resemblance between both. However, it is impossible that any mind could find a resemblance of color with tactile sensation. They have nothing in common with each other, except for the fact of both being perceived. The scent of a rose has no resemblance to the sight of a rose. The taste of steak has no resemblance to the sight of the sight steak.

The identity of objects of different senses with one another cannot be perceived. If the identity of the objects perceived would be the actual percepts, i.e. color with sound, sound with smell, and no inference from percepts can establish what is contrary to the percepts themselves. Sight is not the same as touch, and so sight cannot be related to not sight at the same time. This is contradictory. If we mean the identity of the objects with the identity of the ‘things’ that underlie the presentations, then no inference can be drawn. For as we have seen in construction 5, the ‘thing’ is not present to our consciousness, and only the presentations are, while the ‘thing’ lies underneath the presentations. Thus, the belief in the equivalence of the senses is a mental construction.

We have a simple experiment that can be performed, or at least a thought experiment. Say that we have someone born blind. However, they have been given a cube and a ball to feel with their tactile senses. Now let us suppose that this blind person were all of a sudden to gain their sight. Would this person be able to tell, by sight, which one is the cube and which one is the ball? The answer is no. They cannot tell from sight which one correlates with their tactile experience. The tactile has no resemblance to sight. However, these two become associated with each other through constant experience. Thus, the different senses are separate from each other, and are only thrown together through past experience.

Experience shows dissimilar percepts are correlated together. Thus, it is found that the one is invariably a sign of the possibility of the other. Thus, through past experience, when John has a visual percepts of a rose, that John will have a smell that follows it. When John has a visual precept that he calls a wall, he associates a certain tactile sensation he will have if he puts his hand against it. This is construction of the thing, the rose for example, both having a certain look and certain smell, or feel, would not be possible without first constructing the ‘thing’. We apply all these different sensations onto this one object, this one thing, which we have constructed. These qualities get associated with it.

John cannot hold that his visual presentation are identical with his tactile presentations. They both are dissimilar with one another, and they exist in different worlds. However, when the mind comes to believe that behind our presentations are ‘things’, which are unperceived, it becomes possible to identify the tactile presentations with the visual presentations, as qualities of the thing that lie behind the presentations, which are unknown. Thus, the belief in equivalence of the senses is made possible by the 5th construction, and is in fact an extension of the 5th construction. Now we can say that the visual and tactile follow one another, and are conjoined with one another, in the unperceived ‘thing’.

The mind is now conjoining the visual and tactile with together to simplify its worldview. It tries to conjoin things whenever it can in order to create a world that is easier to understand. Thus, the many private worlds of John, Jane, Jill, and Jack, are made to coalesce together into one.

Without this 6th construction, we would live in many different worlds. There would be the world of sound, which is separated from that of sight, feel, taste, and smell. There would be the world of sight, which is separated from that of sound, feel, taste, and smell. There would be the world of taste, which is separated from the world of sight, smell, sound, and touch. There would be the world of feel, which is separate from sound, smell, sight, and taste. There is the world of smell, which is separate from the sound of sight, taste, sound, and touch. In other words, we live in 5 universes that are separate from each other.Thus, if John and Jane share the same common world, they will share the same common world of sight. They share the same common world of sound. They share the same common world of taste. They share the same common world of feel. They share the same common world of smell. However, they do not share a world where all of these things are combined together, and that is what the 6th construction does.

So with all these different worlds, we want to combine them altogether so that we all share the same world by simplifying it to association of the senses together when it comes to the ‘thing’ or ‘object’. We combine two different senses, from two different universes, into one thing to form one universe.

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Construction of the External World Pt. 5

Posted by allzermalmer on May 15, 2011

Here is the 5th blog of 6, on the construction of the external world. You can read the previous blog on it here.

Construction Five: That there exists ‘things’ or ‘objects’, which are not identical with presentations; and that the presentations are ‘qualities’ of the ‘things’; and that the ‘qualities’ may change while the ‘things’ remain the same.

As we noted before, each mind lived in their own private world of presentations. Than, eventually, we cam to connect these worlds into one public world. However, we find that there were agreements in the worlds, but there were also disagreements about the world.

We discovered that when a number of minds, like John, Jane, Jack, Jill, Johnny, and Janette, all get together, they are looking at something that they regard as the same thing. Thus, say that they are looking at a penny, a brown patch. The sameness of a brown patch is what they all is noticed. When John looks at it, he sees the brown patch and notices it is circular. When Jane looks at it, she sees the brown patch and notices it is an ellipse. Jack sees a brown patch and a narrower ellipse. Jill sees a brown patch and thin band or rectangle. To John the brown, circular, patch nearly occupies its whole field of vision. To Jane the brown, elliptical, patch it occupies a smaller field of vision. To Jack and Jill, it is small brown patch that looks like a speck in their field of vision. This is because they are at varying distances from the patch, but we have to account for these differences. These differences make themselves known not only in vision, but also, touch, taste, smell, and sound. The ‘same’ sound can be loud to John and faint to Jane.

Now this is a contradiction to the common world that all the minds have come to accept. How can the ‘same’ brown patch be at the same time circular, not circular (elliptical and rectangular)? How can the same sound both be loud and not loud? That brown patch, and sound, cannot have these shapes at once and the same time, and we have already established with one of our previous constructions that what John experiences is the same was what Jane experiences. These contradictory characters cannot exist at the same time in the same presentation.

Thus, the mind creates a new construction in order to escape this paradox. We have one ‘entity’ to bear the differences and give it another identity. We invent the concept of ‘thing’ which is supposed to lie behind the presentations of our minds. The presentations are different for John and Jane, yet the ‘thing’ remains identical with itself, which avoids the contradiction. The presentation becomes ‘appearances’ of the ‘thing’ that lies behind the presentations. Thus, John seeing ‘circular’ brown patch, and Jane seeing an ‘elliptical’ brown patch, are to be regarded as if many appearances of one single ‘object’, which is the penny.  This helps us avoid the paradox, and we apply this everywhere in the one universe that we have constructed. The world no longer becomes one of presentations, and it becomes full of objects.

Now there is no reason to suppose circular since some presentations are elliptical or rectangular. And circularity, elliptical, and rectangular, are all based on presentations, and how can they be characterized by what is by hypothesis different from the presentation? They are just vague points of view when we talk about the thing behind the presentation, and we do this in order to create our common world, in the one universe.

When we create the concept of ‘thing’ or ‘object’, it possess an advantage, even though it is based on paradox. The reason this view was adopted was that when different minds were viewing simultaneously what they decided to regard as the ‘same’ presentation, there were still differences between presentations. Now the same presentation was different to different minds viewing it at the same time, it was also different to the same mind viewing it at different times. For example, John watches the colors change, and their shape, and their position. He watches a green patch turn gradually orange, and then yellow. He watches a brown patch change from circular to elliptical to rectangular.

The concept of thing helps us avoid the difficulties that we find. For now we can say that ‘thing’ remains the same, even thought its qualities, which are the presentations to our minds, change. Jane watches the leaf turn green in summer to yellow in autumn. Yet through all of these changes in color, it is still to be regarded as the ‘same’ leaf all through the different presentations. However, we could not do this if we had not invented the mental construction of ‘thing’ or ‘object’. If the presentations were all that existed, then the green patch (leaf in the summer) is obviously not the same presentation as the yellow patch (leaf in autumn). Thus, there would be two different leaves, not one. However, by the construction of ‘thing’, we circumvent this problem. Thus, Jane can say that the color has changed, but the color is not the ‘thing’. The color is only a quality of the thing. Thus, the color has changed, the thing itself remains the same. We thus have this general important conception: a thing may remain the same and self-identical while all its qualities change.  This is a construction to simplify our view of the world.

This mental construction has the characteristic that it cannot be proved true, is not derived from experience, and is simply invented by the mind to fill up the mind’s schematics of knowledge. Thus, the thing behind the presentation cannot be sensed directly or directly experienced. For if we could, then that would itself be a presentation. Neither can we infer it from the existence of our presentations. Any inference would have to pass from the perceptible world to unseen and unknown world behind it. For to argue from presentations to causes outside of presentations, and this ’cause’ is the ‘thing’. For causation is the relation between what we find in experience, and we are moving beyond experience. Thus, we are just replacing presentations.

When we say that m-n constitutes causal series, we mean this series is necessarily in our actual perceptual experience. Experience allows us to asserting these causal series. However, this gives us no right to say that there must be, or are, causes behind presentations in a world that we never experience.

So the conception of ‘thing’ is not inferred from presentations, or are giving by presentations, and so it is a mental construction to get out of our logical difficulties that arise in our constructed common world. The construction of ‘thing’ or ‘object’ gives us plausibility in our theory of a common world, and it gets ride of the contradictions that came about when we find that John and Jane are experiencing the same brown patch, yet it is both elliptical and circular.

Constructions that assert the exist of anything take a hypothetical form. And such constructed existence is unperceived. So the mind’s assertion amounts to ‘If…, we could perceive it. This is presented in the 5th construction. Thus, to affirm an unperceived ‘things’ existence behind our presentations will only mean, that if we could get behind our presentations we should perceive it. Yet to do this is full of contradictions. For if we could perceive the thing behind presentations, then it would become a presentation, yet it is supposed to be something unperceived. Yet if it were to become another presentation, then there would have to be a presentation behind that, and this would lead to an infinite regress. And to perceive things apart from their qualities is impossible, since we only perceive qualities of the thing.

We say that the thing is separate from the qualities, since the qualities are contradictory for different minds, and the thing lies behind the presentations and supports the presentations. We do this because it helps us explain why people have contradictory presentations when dealing with the same thing, like how Jane and John can both view the same penny and find that one sees it as circular and the other as rectangular.  Thus, in order to do this, we state that the ‘thing’ is different from the presentations, and remains unaffected by the contradictory characters of the presentations. Now since the ‘thing’ lies behind the presentations, we can never come to know the ‘thing’ itself. And if we say that we can know the thing based on the qualities that are present to us, then we are involved in a contradiction.

Now as we have constructed the external world (a common world shared by different minds), we have found that there are inherent contradictions in it, yet we overlook this in order to have this common world. We live with them, and our minds ignore them till they impinge on us. We just come to let these things pass so that we can keep the external world, or our common world. ‘Thing’ and ‘object’ allow us to do it, even though it is contradictory.

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Construction of the External World Pt. 4

Posted by allzermalmer on May 15, 2011

This is the 4th blog on the construction of the external world of 6 blogs. You can read the last one here.

Construction Four: That presentations may exist when no mind is aware of them.

So now when John is experiencing a purple patch, and it leaves his awareness, it still exists when perceived by another mind like that of Jane. This follows from the third construction, and now with the fourth construction we are going to go one step further. Now when John is experiencing a purple patch and it leaves his awareness, and it is not experienced by any mind at all, like Jane’s, we say it still exists. Thus, the purple patch may continue to exist when it is not experienced by any mind at all, and thus it exists unperceived.

However, there is a gap in evidence. We have evidence when something is being perceived by the senses, and we can make a leap to things existing when some other mind is perceiving something and accept it even if we are not. Now we have to accept something existing that we can never have evidence for, since we can have no experience of it.

Say that John is in his study. Now assume that John leaves his study to go out to the grocery store. How does John know that his study continues to exist when he left? He would know it when Jane is still there, when he is out to the grocery store, that it continues to exist since she is perceiving it and stayed din the room. This situation with Jane in the room is what we have come to with the third construction, since it is being perceived by another mind. Now how do they know it continues to exist when no one was aware of it? The obvious answer is that there cannot possibly be any evidence of this. For there is evidence that things continue to go on existing as long as some one perceives them, as long as we assume that different people perceive the same things, which was established with the first construction. However, when no one is is perceiving a thing, it is quite clear that no one can have evidence of its existence. There is not, never has been, and never will be one iota of evidence that the universe or anything in it goes on existing when no mind perceives it, or that it existed before there were any minds to perceive it. It is a pure assumption.

Are there other views we can take on this issue? Yes, there are. However, these views offer nothing to it. It can be stated that this view, that things exist when not perceived by a mind, is a ‘primitive belief’, ‘common sense’, ‘animal belief’, or a ‘instinctive belief’. However, to resort to such things is to offer nothing to epistemology, and is to just raise ones hands in surrender. It is a form of defeatism and founded on prejudice. However, with the mental constructions we are forming, we can create show that such a belief is well founded by having their own logical structure and justification.

Now, some might say that since we do not know of anything existing unperceived that it does not exist unperceived. This is a fallacious argument, and one that should not be believed. However, when someone says that things exist unperceived by any mind, they have the onus of proof on them to support their assertion. Since we never find that things exist when not perceived, so we say there is no evidence that things exist when not perceived by a mind. Now since there is no evidence that things exist when not perceived by a mind, so there is no reason to believe it when there is no evidence for it. Why should one believe something when there is no evidence for the assertion? The burden is on those who say it exists when unperceived, and they cannot get ride of this burden without introducing a prejudice of theirs. Yet a mental construction is what allows us to get around this problem.

One of the typical responses that can be invoked to support that things exist unperceived is that of casual sequences. Say that John builds a fire and has a clock by him. He has a set quantity of coal and etc, and starts the fire. He notices a succession of sensible phenomena. So say he starts burning the coal, and after half an hour, half of the coal is burned. At the end of an hour the fire-place only contains ashes, since all of the coal was burned. If he builds a fire with the same quantity of coal and put it under the same conditions, leaves the room, and returns after a given time has elapsed, he gets approximately the same sense experience as he would have had at the corresponding moment if he remained in the room the whole time. He, thus, infers that the fire has been burning as usual during his absence, and that being perceived is not a condition that is necessary for the occurrence of the process.

John, from these considerations, might help verify his idea that things exist when they are not perceived by anyone. Now there is a problem, which is this. He assumes that things that have happened when he perceives them continue on the same when he is not perceiving them. He is taking the appears of things when he perceives them to be the same as when he is not perceiving them.

The whole argument of causal sequences continuing on when not perceived is  begging the question. For you are still assuming that things that happen when perceived continue on when not perceived, and that is the thing in question. So let us return to John and his fire. If John stays in the room as he builds the fire and keeps it going till it is done, which takes about an hour, he observes a certain sequences of the phenomena. The sequence follows like this, m, n, o, p, q, r,  s, t, u. Now if John leaves the room after it starts, and returns half an hour, he will see it at sequence q. If John leaves the room after that sequences and returns to it in a quarter-hour, he will get the sense experience of s. And on this goes. John will thus ‘infer’ that m,n,o, & p have occurred in his absence and that of any other mind. However, the only way this inference can be made is with the belief that things go on in his absence, or as if he were there. John cannot infer the conclusion of things going on unperceived as they do when perceived, because of his belief in uniform causal sequences rests on belief in the general belief in continuity of nature, i.e. continued occurrence of events when he is not perceiving them. He has to first come to the belief in continued existence when no one is perceiving things before he can believe in uniform causal sequence when not being perceived. Thus, he cannot logically make the inference that he does.

As David Hume once said: “The only existences, of which we are certain, are perceptions, which being immediately present to us by consciousness, command our strongest assent, and are the first foundation of all our conclusions. The only conclusion we can draw from the existence of one thing to that of another, is by means of the relation of cause and effect, which shews, that there is a connection betweixt them, and that the existence of one is dependent on that of another. The idea of this relation is derived from past experiences (perceptions), by which we find, that two beings are constantly conjoined together, and are always present at once to the mind. But as no beings are ever present to the mind but perceptions; it follows that we may observe a conjunction or a relation of cause and effect between different perceptions, but can never observe it between perceptions and objects (things outside of perception). ‘Tis impossible, therefore, that from the existence or any of the qualities of the former, we can ever form any conclusion concerning the existence of the latter, or ever satisfy our reason in this particular.” Thus, cause and effect only holds between perceptions, and when we are not having a perception and saying cause and effect is working in things not perceived with the senses, we are applying cause and effect to things that are never known to hold or can ever be known to hold.

Now here is the way, or a way, that we come to the category of causality, which originates within perceived experiences. We have a sufficient sequences of m-n actually perceived, and give us the conception of causality. So the existence of a similar causal sequences outside of actual perception is assumed on exactly the same grounds as the existence of unperceived presentations is assumed, i.e. by mental construction which we base upon the mind’s necessity to simply its world and economize its thoughts. This belief of causal sequences outside of perceptions is a particular case of the construction of a general belief in an independent external world.

So we find that causal sequences occurring when John and Jane, or minds, are perceiving things. We have no right to say that this continues when no mind is observing anything, and no argument can justify such an inference. We must hold to mental acrobatics try trying to invoke logic to escape into something that logic cannot support. So the fundamental principle of no amount of perceiving things, objects, presentations, causal sequences, or anything else, can ever prove or show, that anything exists unperceived.

So why does John and Jane go on to think that things exist when they are not perceived by any mind? We have seen with the 3rd construction that John goes on to think that the things that he does not experience/presentations, continue on when Jane is perceiving them. This was a simplification of thought, and so too is the 4th construction that we are going over now.

The 4th construction introduces a new conception of existence. The solitary mind of Jane became accustomed to think of existence of everything being identical with the appearances itself.  Jane left this point of view and came to think of her presentations might go on existing other minds, though unperceived by her. If they can not only exist outside of Jane’s mind, then they can exist outside of John’s, Jill’s, Johnny’s, Janet’s, and etc minds. Of course, there is no evidence to support such an idea. However, the paradox of believing that presentations do go on to exist outside of that  particular mind, like Jane’s, has already been established by the 3rd mental construction. Thus to extend this belief to cover presentations existing unperceived by any mind, can help to explain the facts of 60 black patches to appear to 60 different minds at 60 different times separated by time intervals, by a simple theory of their being only one black patch in the outer world that goes on existing unperceived.

We would not be able to make this step, believe in the existence of unperceived things, if we continued to hold to the view that presentations must be perceived by some mind in order to exist or know that they do. For if we did, there could be breaks in the universe. For instance, Jane’s black patch would continue to exist if it were perceived by John before he closed his eyes. However, if John closed his eyes first, before Jane became aware of the black patch, the it would be impossible to hold that it was the same black patch which John and Jane saw. The black patch could be passed on like relay racers handing off the baton to each other, yet there is always the possibility of one of the runners dropping the baton. And like that, the black patch would go out of the existence.

Thus, Jane could pass on her black patch to John, Janet, Johnny, Jill, Julian, and etc, but let us suppose that Jill happened to fall asleep at the moment Johnny handed off his black patch to her. Jill could wake up a 15 minutes later and see the black patch. However, in those 15 minutes when no one was seeing the black patch, we would have to necessarily hold that it had gone out of existence, and that Jill’s black patch was not the same as Johnny’s black patch, and that it was a new one. Thus, if every mind fell asleep at some time, it would become necessary for all of them to hold, upon them waking up, that an entirely new universe had come into existence.

Thus, the 3rd construction is only a stepping stone, and we must make the next step. The house is half-finished, and now we must finish it by taking that extra step. It has been established with other minds that there is a common world (2nd construction & 3rd). We have abolished a multitude of universes and established a simpler one of just one universe. This produces simplicity in our thought, and allows for easier means of communication with one another. However, this simplicity is incomplete, and we must take another step. For this has depended on everyone staying awake and alert to see things in the universe do not get loose and go out of existence. Thus, it would be simpler if things could go on without a mind perceiving them. From this view, the mind is compelled to adopt the 4th construction, and believe things go on existing when not perceived by some mind.

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Construction of the External World Pt. 3

Posted by allzermalmer on May 14, 2011

Here is the 3rd blog of the 6 part blog on the construction of the external world. You can read the last blog on the construction of the external world here.

Construction Three: That the presentations of a mind may continue in existence unperceived by that mind, provided that some other mind perceived them.

In the second construction, we noticed that there was agreement on presentations, and we also noticed there were differences in presentations. This third construction is based on those differences and try to build a consistent world view that there is only one universe.

Now let us suppose that John has a black book presented before him for one second, the book is removed for one second, and the books is returned before him for one second. This is a total of three seconds. Now suppose that Jane, throughout those three seconds, observed the black book all that time or that it was continuously visible to her for those three seconds. Now our question might be how does John and Jane deal with this matter? How doe John and Jane, when comparing notes on their presentations, take into account what happened?

Now was we already showed with the solitary mind, like that of John, the esse of the black patch called the book is identical with its percipi. The first construction implied the idea of an unperceived existence. This was not explicit in any case, to presentations, yet it was to relations between John and Jane. Thus, John only thinks the black patch exists only when it is being percieved. Thus, with the experiment mentioned above, John will think that the black patch came into existence at the first second, went out of existence with the second, and came back into existence with the third second. However, Jane will give a different account of things, since the black patch was presented to her for a total of three seconds, while John only had it present for two seconds. Thus, when John and Jane compare notes, they will notice that there is a difference between an account of their presentations.

Now John and Jane have decided that their two worlds are one world, based on the second mental construction. They have decided to accept the agreement and ignore the disagreement. However, these differences cannot be ignored, and so they must be dealt with. Since we found that each mind is its own universe, and each mind runs a parallel course to other minds, we have to deal with this dilemma. Now the minds must either give up the view of one single universe or accept that there are multiple universes. So in order to deal with this difficulty, the mind invents a new construction, which is the third construction.

There would be no difficulty if John and Jane have not decided to create one universe that they both occupy. Thus, if John and did not say he occupied the same universe as Jane, the differences between from what John and Jane experienced would not matter, and can be ignored. However, since the second construction, they are supposed to be identical, and the differences are to be explained.

Now returning to our previous example of John and Jane seeing the black book present to them. It disappeared from one universe, John’s, and yet was present continuously with Jane’s universe, even when there was a gape in John’s universe. Now, because of the second construction, both universes are formed into one universe, and it is supposed to be the same black patch which John and Jane have been observing. Because of this, John will be lead to the conclusion that ‘Since the black patch which appeared to Jane is identical (2nd construction) with the one which appeared to me, and since ti was existing in Jane’s mind after it had disappeared from mine, it follows that my black patch went on existing in Jane’s mind when it was absent from mine.’ Thus, we can draw the conclusion that presentations of one mind may continue to exist unperceived by that mind, so long as they are perceived by some other mind, which forms the third construction.

The black patch that John saw at the first second is identical with the one that he saw in the third second, and that it continued on in the existence of Jane’s mind when he had missed one of the intervals. Now the belief of John about the first and second appearances of the black patch were two different patches is superseded with its own construction (I might have to make a new blog on this subject alone). Thus, the first presentation can be taken as different from the second, or they can be taking as the same. Thus, we are stuck with another alternative truth, and we can go either way with this. And it makes it choice based on convince.

Now John and Jane will admit that presentations may continue unperceived by it, but will insist that the presentations must be perceived by some other mind. Thus, esse is still percipi, even though that doctrine received strange twists, as we noticed before. Yet we are led to another strange paradox. The existence of Jane’s presentations consists in the fact that its presented to here, i.e. that she is aware of it. And to say it goes on existing while she is not aware of it like saying it has gone on existing after it has gone out of existence. However, John and Jane must swallow this paradox, or they will have to give up the common world that they are constructing.  They cannot have it both ways. And so they will try to keep their common world by swallowing this paradox. And the convenience of it is too great to give up. Thus, the presentations of Jane go out of existence when she is not aware of the, but they are still existing when John is aware of them. For else if this was not done, we would have to give up our companionship and live in a lonely universe in isolation. Thus, it is accepted that presentations go on existence so long as they exist in some one else’s mind.

We accepted the first two constructions because they simplified things. The third one is accepted not because it directly simplifies things, but because it is derived from the first two mental constructions. For once we have accepted a single universe, then we cannot hold that Jane’s black patch goes on existing in John’s mind even when she is not aware of it, without going into a contradiction of the second construction. So the first two constructions were based on simplicity and economy, while the third is based on consistency with the first two. This is like logic. For I cannot accept proposition X and Y together, if Y contradicts proposition X. For this would make me inconsistent, and would mean that I am contradicting myself.

Now, the third construction like the other two, cannot be proved. It is a pure assumption that we make. The computer that Jane sees now with the computer that John now sees, is identical with the one which Jane would see tomorrow when John is not there to perceive it. Now, there is no reason to accept this, except for consistency once the first two constructions are accepted, which asserted the identity of many private worlds. And thus it is an inference from that construction, and only descends upon us as a logical consequent.

Suppose Jane’s black patch during the first second  m, Jane’s black patch during the first second n, and Jane’s black patch during the following second (which there is no black patch presented to John’s awareness) is n’. Thus, by second construction, m=n. And now by the third construction, n=n’ and so by deduction, m=n’. Thus, in another way of expression, John’s presentation during the first presentation is identified with Jane’s presentations during the second when no black patch was present to John’s awareness. This is the third construction.

The mind is free to accept the third construction, like it is like the first and second. There is no difference to the facts whether a presentation continues over the two presentations  or two thousand. It is just as true to regard it as two presentations or two thousand. Since there are many ways to look at the facts, it constitutes many alternative truths. And each alternative truth is just a ‘point of view’ which the mind chooses to adopt. It adopts the point of view set out by the previous two constructions because it is the simplest and most convenient.

The third construction does not, like the first one, posit any new existence. The first construction held that there exists a relation of resemblance between the presentations of John and Jane, and this resemblance cannot be either perceived or inferred, since it is based on a logical impossibility. Thus, this was a new invention of existence by the mind. And it was only expressible in a hypothetical judgement. This does not appear in the third construction, since there is no new existence posited. All it does is identify two actually perceived presentations. This implies that it stands upon the first construction. It implies unperceived resemblance between presentations which are identified and the assertion of resemblance possess the characteristics of the first construction. As the third construction advances beyond the first, it does not posses them. It only possess characters similar to the second, which is us living in one universe, which is expressed in a categorical judgement. And this construction, the second, is neither perceived or inferred, but invented by the mind.

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Construction of the External World Pt. 2

Posted by allzermalmer on May 14, 2011

This is the 2nd blog of 6 blogs on the Construction of the External World. You can find Construction of the External World Pt. 1 here.

Construction Two: That the corresponding presentations of different minds are identical, and that there are not many universes, but only one.

When we typically think of the universe, we think there is one. However, as we saw in the first construction, this is not true. Let us see this is self-evident when we reflect on the subject. John’s purple sheet of paper presentation is not Jane’s purple sheet of paper presentation. There is no evidence that they even resemble, much less that they are identical, to each other. When look at what we regard as an object, the purple sheet of paper, a purple patch is present to John’s mind, and another purple patch is present to Jane’s mind. These are two patches, and not one patch. And when we have thousands of minds looking at the purple patch, there exists thousands of purples patches. Each of these worlds is separate from each other, and each are absolutely cut off from one another.

Let us imagine that John and Jane have a black covered presented to them. The book is opened  and see white pages. The book is then closed where we see the back of it. Then the book is replaced with a yellow book. Thus, we have a series of presentations presented to John and Jane, which are black, white, black, and yellow. John and Jane compare notes on the presentations to their minds, and they find that they similar experiences presented to them. What happened in John’s world has its counterpart in Jane’s world. They are still separate worlds, which are John’s world and Jane’s world. They run a parallel course, and what happens in one happens in the other.

Now imagine that John and Jane are in the same movie theater, but one is room 1 and the other is in room 2. They are the only ones in those rooms, watching a movie, while talking the cell phone with one another. They are each watching a movie. Now, it is impossible for one to see into the other room, even though they are next to each other. John cannot see Jane’s film, and vice versa. Yet when they are describing the movies that they are watching, they find that there are some similarities between the movies that they are each watching. When a dragon appears in the movie that John is watching, a dragon appears in the movie that Jane is watching. When the hero dies on Jane’s movie, the hero dies in John’s movie.

However, this is not really accurate in what is going on. There not only appears similarities in the movies that John and Jane are watching, there are also differences in the movies that they are watching. The hero, in John’s movie, has a circular half-dollar coin. The hero, in Jane’s movie, has an elliptical half-dollar coin. In John’s movie, he sees a landscape, and in Jane’s movie, she sees a seascape. And it continues on like this.

The differences between John and Jane’s movies are ignored, and what they take hold upon, which is both useful to them, is the agreement between the two movies, or the two worlds. This agreement will, and does, form the foundation of their common world, or future common world. The differences would lead them nowhere. So if all the worlds of all the different minds were wholly different from each other, and nothing in common or agreement, then no common world could be built up, and each would remain in their own private world. Thus, it is the agreements in John and Jane’s world that are important to them, and they go on to ignore the differences for the present moment.

With the first construction, John and Jane discovered a similarity between their own experiences/presentations. However, they did not discover that their presentations have the same identity, or are identical with one another, in their two worlds. In fact, there are not only two minds, but there are a multitude of minds, like John, Jane, Jill, Jack, Jason, Janet, and etc. And the other minds come to believe in the existence of a multitude of other minds, and by default a multitude of universes all running the same course.

So once the multitude of minds/universes are confronted with the first mental construction, they will come to think and talk as if there were only one universe. Doing this, going from multiple universes to one universe is an economy of thought, and a mentally laboring saving device, or construction. Thus, when John and Jane have a purple patch presented to them, instead of John talking about seeing his purple patch and her talking about her purple patch, the purple patch. And once we realize that for all the minds that exist, that is the same amount of universes that exist. Thus, it would be tiring to think of so many universes. So we would come to think of them all together, in terms of one universe, or as as if there is only one universe, which will be simpler and easier.

So far, we have found another case of alternative truths. We are free to make our choice between one universe or multiple universe. So with our second construction, we find another alternative truth and decide upon them. Both of these beliefs would be true. However, one is simpler than another and convenient for the mind’s purpose of coming up with an external world. This simpler belief is chosen, and it has been chosen to be embodied into our structure of human knowledge.

Now, one of the differences between the first construction and the second construction is the first has no evidence for or against it. The second construction seems to have evidence against the view adopted, namely one universe. The reason is that for each mind, there is one universes. Thus, if there are millions of minds, a million people, there are a million universes. Now we have accepted a principle in the second construction to overlook this: Facts or complexities of the facts which can make no conceivable differences in the mind’s outlook or in the accomplishment of practical, or theoretical, purposes may be ignored and treated as if they were not facts.

When John and Jane look together at a purple sheet of paper, it may be a fact that there are two purple sheets of paper. However, it will make no difference to anything in the universe (unless we are talking about epistemology, yet we can make special provisions for that) if we talk and think as if there were only one common purple sheet of paper. To do this will be simpler and will be an instrument to establishing a common world and society of minds. Thus, facts which have no conceivable bearing on anything are for the purposes of knowledge not facts.

Now the second construction is not expressible like the first construction, which means that it is not expressible as a hypothetical proposition. In the present construction, we express it in the opposite principle. We will suppose that something which is perceived does not exist. Thus, the construction is expressed in the categorical form, which is, ‘There is only one universe.’

The second construction is a ‘true’ construction. It is a belief which mind does not find in experience or is given. That characterizes only those constructions which suppose something to exist which cannot be percieved.

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Construction of the External World Pt. 1

Posted by allzermalmer on May 14, 2011

I am going to make a couple of blogs, 6 to be precise, including this one. These blogs are going to deal with our construction of the external world. They are based off of a book by Walter Terence Stace in his book Theory of Existence and Knowledge.

Construction One: The presentations of one mind bear to the corresponding presentations of other minds the relation of resemblance.

Say we have two minds, John and Jane. We present to these two minds an object, say colored sheet of paper that is purple. Now, they both see the same colored sheet of paper, and they use words to communicate with each other and compare their experiences with these words. Thus, when they compare notes, they find that they are having similar experiences of something, and they call it purple.

So it is assumed that two minds are surveying the same scene, that they will see, hear, and smell similar colors, sounds, and odors. Thus, when they look at the sheet of paper that they assume that the paper Jane sees is similar to the one which John sees.

Now, it is not that John and Jane are seeing the same purple sheet of paper, but only seeing similar sheets of paper. It is logically impossible for them to see what each other are seeing, since each mind’s presentations/experiences are necessarily their own, and cannot be another’s. Thus, John’s experience/presentation cannot be the same as Jane’s presentation/experience.

Since we have established a common world with this first construction, now we can talk to one another as if our presentations resemble each other, and does not show that they in fact do. It only establishes that there is a corresponding order and relation.

Let’s give an example of this, using Jane and John, and show they can establish this communication of presentations: Suppose that Jane and John are presented a purple sheet of paper at the same time. Now suppose that the purple sheet of paper is peeled back and there is a white sheet of paper behind it, and than we peel it back and there is a purple sheet of paper behind it. Now, those sheets of paper are removed from their view. We now have a series of presentations of purple, white, and purple.

Now, once we have done this, Jane and John decide to compare notes on what they experienced. Jane says that the first presentation she had is what she calls ‘purple’. Now John takes notice that Jane is applying that word to their first presentation, and takes note of it, so that whatever Jane experienced, John knows that ‘purple’ is going to respond to the first presentation, whatever it may have been for Jane. Now they will agree that whatever the first presentation was, they will call it ‘purple’. And this will follow with the rest of the presentations that they experienced.

Now they have established a lines of communication to compare on presentations. Thus, when John experiences what they call ‘purple’, Jane will know what the presentation is supposed to resemble from her experience of the presentation. Thus, they build up a lines of communication to see if their presentations resemble each other.Thus, the first presentation is given the name ‘purple’ & the second giving the name ‘white’. Thus, when they have that presentation, they have a name and can tell the other their presentation, and each other will know the name to see if they had a similar presentation.

Now, it is impossible that Jane and John can produce one hint of evidence to show that their ‘purple’ resemble the presentations of each other, and yet they believe that it does. And they build this belief into their conception of an external world that is a public world. Now, it is not given that they are experiencing the same thing or an inference from their own private presentation, it is a mental construction that they make. This means that it is an assumed truth, and is an invented fiction which suites its purpose.

Now, we make this assumption because of two things, since the evidence can support either assertion that they are not similar or that they are similar. When John and Jane look at the purple sheet of paper, they can believe either one of two things: (1.) Their two presentations are similar, or (2.) They are dissimilar and not even possible to compare. Neither option has any evidence to make us support either one of them.  Since there no evidence to support either one, they are free to adopt whichever one that they choose to adopt. Now, they will choose the simpler of the two, even though both has no evidence to make them choose either one. Choosing the simpler one is a great simplification of their picture of the world. It is chosen for no other reason than simplification.

We see that they had the choice of alternative truths. They could choose between two equally unprovable assumptions. Now both of them are equally true, and each would have been equally legitimate for their knowledge to have started with. Now, they choose to have built into their foundation of knowledge of the external world the one that presented the greater simplicity, which is just an economy of thought.

Now what meaning can be given to Jane and John’s presentations resembling each other? John can see if his presentations resemble each other. John can have sheet of paper M and sheet of paper N next to each other. He can look from one to the other, and see if their colors resemble each other. To say two things are similar would depend for its meaning on a possibility of being compared. John’s purple and Jane’s purple exist in two different worlds, and they are logically cut off from each other. Thus, the consciousness of Jane and John are cut off from each other.

If John could see Jane’s purple, then Jane’s purple would become John’s purple, and insofar as Jane’s purple became John’s purple, then it would no longer be Jane’s purple but John’s purple. Now suppose the barrier of separate worlds could be demolished. Suppose that John could enter Jane’s world. It would still be John who is viewing the presentation and would no longer be Jane’s presentation. How would John know that he is seeing Jane’s presentation? John cannot know that he is seeing Jane’s presentation, since John would have to no longer be John and would have to be Jane. Yet this is a contradiction, since John cannot both be John and not be John  (Jane)  at the same time. Thus, this is a logical impossibility, and John can only experience his own presentations and no one elses.Thus, John and Jane are solitary minds with their own private experiences, and their own experiences that no one else can have or experience.

Now, finding an intelligible meaning of the first construction is very great, indeed. Now, John and Jane cannot have a meaning found in a categorical judgement with the first construction, and the solitary makes categorical judgements. For example, John being a solitary mind in his own world, expresses his judgements in categorical judgements. For example, he makes his judgements in his own world like this: ‘This is purple’, ‘This purple is like that purple’, or ‘This purple is unlike that purple’. However, now that the mind is making a mental construction, it must move away from the categorical judgement with this first construction. It now becomes necessary to express its judgements in new insights. It has to invent the hypothetical judgement.

Now, to say that two things are similar, implies either that a comparison has been made or could be made. And if it were made, then the alleged resemblance would be seen like this: ‘This sheet of paper (M) is like that sheet of paper (N).’ or ‘This sheet of paper (M) and that sheet of paper (N) have been compared and found to be alike.’, or it means ‘If we compared M and N, then we should find them alike’. Thus, we find that an assertion of similarity is relative to a possible act of comparison, (which is itself logically impossible). So when Jane says, ‘My purple is like your purple’ means ‘If we could compare our purples, then we should find they are similar.’

Now, since we have found that this is impossible to do the comparison, our minds do not deal with these difficulties and just ignores them (or overlooks these logical difficulties). And if we were not able to allow for these contradictions, then we would never be able to create the public world of the external world and society of other minds. This is the character of mental constructions which we invoke when creating new existences.

Now let us go over, as quickly as possible, what goes on with the solitary mind, or what Jane and John would go through: The esse is identical with the percipi. An esse that is a part, or not identical with the percipi, is unknown to the solitary mind of Jane or John. So a resemblance between a purple sheet of paper and another purple sheet of paper is a perceived relation. The esse will be the solitary minds percipi. With our first mental construction, there is an existence of a relation of resemblance that is not, and never can be, perceived. Thus, John’s sees two purple sheets of papers now that are opposite of its eyes that are alike. This is a direct perception of John’s. Now if John affirms that his purple sheet resembles Jane’s purple patch, this is to assert an existence of resemblances  no mind in the universe can perceive. Thus, John asserting a resemblance between his presentation and Jane’s is not of a presentation, which is implied by our first construction, and goes beyond his own presentation within his own mind. Thus, the esse and percipi are not identical. And thus John and Jane are transcending their own experience.

Now the existence of which has no connection with the solitary mind, which John and Jane start out with, would contradict their original notion of existence which they formed as solitary minds. Thus, it would not be existence, but something completely different from it. So, in order to keep in line with its old view, it will express it in new terms. The new esse must be relative to percipi.  Thus, the new esse will be expressed in terms of a possible one. Thus, when the mind affirms something existing unperceived, it will affirm it as ‘If…, then such an existence would be perceived.’

So the reason that make this move is because of the necessity of developing systematic communication with other minds, and no longer live in a solitary world, and we are forced to create a new existence. Thus, this new existence of relation of resemblance, is not something that is ‘actually there’ or factual, but is merely supposed as hypothetical, and can only be expressed in a hypothetical form of ‘If…then it would be perceived.’ This follows from our first construction of a belief in unperceived existence as a mental construction. This is because mental constructions are supposals.

So this mental construction is a new operation of the solitary mind of extending the given presentation in the imagination into a region where nothing is given. We are putting a presentation where there is none. Thus, Jane holds two presentations of two purple sheets, and goes on to imagine that John is having presentations that resemble her own. She is not having John’s experiences to know this, but is imagining that he is. It is her own mental construction, and one that John makes as well, to escape their solitary minds and create a common world.

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What does Solipsism tell us?

Posted by allzermalmer on May 3, 2011

There is this idea within philosophy known as Solipsism. Solipsism says one of two things, which is either based on epistemology or metaphysics. Within metaphysics, it says that only my perceptions and thoughts exist. The epistemological position says that I can only know my experiences. The purposes of this post is only to deal with the epistemological position, and what it tells us. However, it seems impossible to deal with the epistemological without having ones toe in the water of the metaphysical issue.

Epistemological solipsism comes from the 1st person perspective, like what one experiences with their senses of sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell. It also deals with the thoughts that you have. So say that I am walking in the street, I see trees, and so I know there are trees. I am walking and I hear someone shouting at another, and I know this because of sound. I pick up this object and eat it, and I find it tastes good. I also felt this object, and know how it feels. I know that I had a thought where I was like, ‘This tastes very good.’

Now say that I come to meet Albert Einstein. He tells me all sorts of things, like how space and time are interconnected, and how space curves with things of mass, that light is both a wave and a particle. He tells me all of these things. Do I know that what he says is true? Of course I do not. I have never experienced anything that he tells me, and so I do not know. All I can do is believe that what they tell me is true, but I cannot know what he tells me is true.This goes with anything that someone tells me that I have no experienced myself.

So say that someone says that they performed an experiment, and that such-and-such happened. I do not know that it happened, and I can only believe him or not believe him. Now, I can come to have knowledge if I perform the experiment that they did. So say that the person set up certain conditions, like that of a recipe for making a cake. I get all the ingredients that are on the recipe, and I put it all together. I can find out if I get the same result, and then I know what happened.All I can say is this, the recipe that they gave me lead to me having this particular experience. I cannot say that they had the same experience as me, and all I can say is that they said they had such-and-such experiment.

Now this brings up some interesting issues. One of them is this, I cannot know what happened in the past, except for my memory of what happened in my past. So say that I was born in 1990. I would not know what happened in 1989, 1988, 1987 and backwards. This is not knowledge I can have. I can read books that talk about things that happened before 1990, but I cannot know that they happened. All I can know is that I read such-and-such that said such-and-such happened. I can believe it or not. I never know it happened, but I can believe that it happened.

The second issue is this, I cannot know what is going to happen in the future. I can only experience what happened in the past from my memory, or what is going on now in the present. I never experience the future, and so I can never know the future. I can only know the present, and the present becomes the past, which is my past. I can make an inductive inference that because such-and-such happened in the past, that it will happen in the future. This I cannot know.

The third issue is this, I cannot know that other people are having experiences like me, or similar to experiences like me. I can never experience what someone is experiencing, or even know that they are having experiences. All I can know is what I see and hear. I can see their body doing certain things, like bending over to pick up an object. I can know that they are saying “I am going to pick up this box on the floor to clean up the room.” I cannot know what they are thinking, or that they thought to do it. I cannot know if they are having an emotional reaction, or if they feel sad. I can only see their facial expression or the sound they make.

The fourth issue is this, I cannot know that things are happening, or going on, when I am not experiencing them myself.  So say that I am in my study, surrounded by books and a computer. I decide to leave this room to go to the kitchen to make a peanut-butter sandwich. As soon as I am out of sight of the study, I know longer know that it exists. I am not experiencing it, and have no first person experience of it to say that it exists. It is something that I just do not know. So as I watch the news, I see that there are things being brought up that are supposedly going on at Washington D.C. What I do know is that I am watching TV and there are these images on the TV, and these images are saying certain things. I know this. But now say that I turn off the TV. I n longer know that those things exist anymore, let alone that the city of Washington D.C. exists, or that the Library of Congress in D.C. exists. These are not things that are being experienced.I cannot know that a fish are swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, since I have no first hand experience of it.

Now there is this idea that is called falsifiability. Falsifiability states, a statement must be able to be refuted by experience through inter-subjective observation or experiment. So say that I make the statement, All Ravens are Black. Now the statement is a categorical statement, and is logically equivalent to No Raves are not Black, or All non Black are non Ravens. It also can carry this logical equivalent in propositional logic: If Raven, then Black. This carries the same meaning as, If not black, then not Raven.

So let us go with the typical conditional statement of propositional logic; If Raven then Black. Now falsifiability says that this statements has to have the possibility of being refuted by an observation by others, besides myself. It carries the logical inference of modus tollens. So say I come across a White Raven. This means that I have come across a Raven that is not Black. So If A then B; not B; thus not A.

Now what makes solipsism untestable is that it is not inter-subjective. You only have your first person experience, and cannot experience what someone else experiences or know that they have experiences to begin with, since you are assuming that this other person exists without being able to test if they do have experiences. Like I brought up before, I do not know that they experienced what they said they experienced, but I do know that they said they had a certain experience.

The second part of it is that one cannot refute that they are not the only thing that exists. One cannot know this, and so they can only believe it. From this belief, they make all sorts of other beliefs, and none of them can be known. So you cannot know that things exist when you are not experiencing them, know that other people are having experiences that they say they are or are thinking, cannot know that things happened in the past before you existed. From all of this, we find that a great deal of our ‘knowledge’ of things is just belief. It is not really knowledge. We cannot refute that things do not exist when they are not being experienced, since all we can know is what we experience. In order to refute solipsism, you must assume that it is false to show that it is false. This would just beg the question, and would not show that you refuted it.

The short man’s version is this, you cannot know that things are a certain way without you experiencing it, and all that you know are your experiences, which is  all that exists. So when it comes to the statement, “Julius Cesar was killed by Brutus”, is something that cannot be falsified. We cannot refute it because we can have no experience of it through observation, let alone an observation that is in principle able to be experienced by another person. Not to mention, one is assuming that this happened when you have no experience of it happening.

Now we can make the statement, “the Universe started from the Big Bang around 14 Billion years ago.” Now once we ask, What does ‘Universe’ mean, we come to realize it means ‘all that exists’. Now this is strange, since all that we know to exist is our experiences, and our experiences do not seem to have been 14 Billion years ago. Thus, if we really held to this idea, we have found that our experience refutes it, or at least our memory. But this is not inter-subjective. But this aside, we are stating that something happened when we did not experience it and that this happened in the past.

Now, supposedly, everyone is supposed to be subjective, and have their own point of view that no one else can logically experience. Thus, all of us only know what we experience. So the question could be, “what does this mean about our knowledge of things before humans came about?” The answer seems to be that they are just theoretical background view/belief. We carry this theoretical background view/belief that things exist when we are not observing them. We carry this theoretical background view/belief that the past exists. We carry this theoretical background view that there are other minds.

From these general theoretical background views, we can falsify statements. The statements themselves are not falsifiable, for the most part, if at all, without these theoretical background views. Without them, statements like, “the universe started 14 billion years ago”, would not be falsifiable. First, we would re-define universe to be those things that exist beyond our own 1st person experiences, and those of humans, since are giving them both a theoretical existence, which is not knowledge, but it is belief. From these beliefs we are going to build up other beliefs that we would call knowledge. They are not really knowledge, but for short hand we call them knowledge. They are just belief.

However, we come up with this other distinction. There is a difference between these two statements, even though they are both be theoretical background views/beliefs:
(1.) There is a penguin in Antarctica
(2.) The Universe began 14 Billion years ago

The difference is that the first statement is one that we can observe with our senses. The second is something that we would not be able to observe in principle, and this also holds for other people’s thoughts an experiences. Much of what we are told is based on things that go beyond our senses, and so they are theoretical background beliefs/views as well.

So in the end, we find that epistemological solipsism, with a hint of metaphysical solipsism, shows us that most of what we call knowledge is not really knowledge. It shows us that most of what we call knowledge is just a belief. Thus, we find that falsifiable statements, or beliefs, are built off of unfalsifiable beliefs. Our falsifiable statements are based off of theoretical background views/beliefs, and from these views we build up statements that we can show are false. This means, though, that they are not really falsifiable. What is more interesting is this, 1st hand knowledge is what we know and 2nd hand knowledge is just belief. We would also have to differentiate between observable and unobservable, since only the observable is falsifiable.

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