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Thread: The last and final argument about reality.

  1. #6961
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    We already covered how science distinguishes itself from other MDR thinking. As explained at the time, this does not come down to some 'definition' found in some dictionary. The 'how' it does this, is all important. The scientific process leading to objectivity is the 'how'. The 'how' is a distinction .. not a definition.
    You can make a claim that "the scientific process" and "objectivity" don't need definitions be cause they are self-evident by observation. That sounds like MIR thinking to me. If we assume MDR, then definitions become more important. If we assume MIR then, yes, normal minds can "just look" at the scientific process and observe what objectivity is. They will see the same thing as our Minds do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    It would seem to be so, if we are straightjacketed by our minds.
    Which raises the interesting question of whether some machine or computer could be built that would not wear the same straightjacket. In particular, what are the limitations on analog computers? They don't rely on language, in the conventional sense of "language".

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    Quote Originally Posted by malaidas View Post
    To get MIR out you have to already believe it is there, it doesn't come out of the empirical models themselves.
    Here's one practical example for dissection malaidas.

    Over 5 years ago I started a project to roll out a web based Employee Self Service (ESS) extension of an organisations Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to 2K+ employees with pc's and web/email access. I was also performing the functions of a HRIS systems administrator that included all development, training and managing User Acceptance Testing (UAT) cycles for newer versions of the HRIS and ESS etc etc.

    When I trained the CEO's office on the ESS I gave a blank cheque to the office manager to try to break the system with the proviso that he let me know asap if he does manage to do so. So along comes new HRIS and ESS versions a year later with an automatic password reset option on the ESS login screen that would substantially reduce Helpdesks involvement. The option was evaluated, the ESS UAT test plan was extended to check that the password reset worked, and the new versions passed complete UAT for the HRIS and ESS.

    At this point in time the UAT team had done everything possible to verify that everything worked as expected, the HRIS vendor has done everything possible to verify that everything works as expected and the third party ESS developer has done everything possible to verify that everything works as expected as well. So, at that point in time, the consensus of the collective of minds involved in developing and testing the new systems had no idea of the reality that would occur on the first work day after the weekend cutover to the new versions. At this point a MIR existed that would have a huge impact on the operation of the ESS as expected by the consensus MDR of all the minds involved. If anything, at that point in time, the belief of all the people involved, designers, developers and testers was that a MIR DID NOT EXIST.

    Around 8:30 am on the Monday after the cutover I received a call from the CEO's office manager telling me that he managed to break the ESS and thought he should let me know. To cut a long story short I verified the problem, shut the ESS down and restored the previous version.

    Now I've put the MIR contents bit last as you won't be aware of the contents of the MIR described above until it becomes a part of your own MDR when you read what the problem was for the first time below. You may have even thought of the MIR contents by now and have incorporated them in your MDR if you have experienced a similar situation in the past and are therefore not seeing the original MIR contents for the first time. The CEO's office manager, who was not scientifically literate, said he managed to reset his ESS password automatically and, after viewing his own account details, could use this same 'master' password to successfully login to any other employees account details on the ESS.

  4. #6964
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    The evidence is that there must be a source feeding the senses. Else you relegate the belief in Godlike powers to your brain and senses.
    Yes but you cannot tell what that source is, that is the whole point.

    There is evidence that only a few thousand years ago, people (eg Alexander the Great) did indeed believe his thoughts came directly from God and how can we know they did not? Today most people believe in spontaneous thought, although that may not be rigorous, but as for senses we just believe in the source and its characteristics.

    To elevate what you cannot test to a knowledge of reality MIR is just not justified. You cannot know.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  5. #6965
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    Here's one practical example for dissection malaidas.

    Over 5 years ago I started a project to roll out a web based Employee Self Service (ESS) extension of an organisations Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to 2K+ employees with pc's and web/email access. I was also performing the functions of a HRIS systems administrator that included all development, training and managing User Acceptance Testing (UAT) cycles for newer versions of the HRIS and ESS etc etc.

    When I trained the CEO's office on the ESS I gave a blank cheque to the office manager to try to break the system with the proviso that he let me know asap if he does manage to do so. So along comes new HRIS and ESS versions a year later with an automatic password reset option on the ESS login screen that would substantially reduce Helpdesks involvement. The option was evaluated, the ESS UAT test plan was extended to check that the password reset worked, and the new versions passed complete UAT for the HRIS and ESS.

    At this point in time the UAT team had done everything possible to verify that everything worked as expected, the HRIS vendor has done everything possible to verify that everything works as expected and the third party ESS developer has done everything possible to verify that everything works as expected as well. So, at that point in time, the consensus of the collective of minds involved in developing and testing the new systems had no idea of the reality that would occur on the first work day after the weekend cutover to the new versions. At this point a MIR existed that would have a huge impact on the operation of the ESS as expected by the consensus MDR of all the minds involved. If anything, at that point in time, the belief of all the people involved, designers, developers and testers was that a MIR DID NOT EXIST.

    Around 8:30 am on the Monday after the cutover I received a call from the CEO's office manager telling me that he managed to break the ESS and thought he should let me know. To cut a long story short I verified the problem, shut the ESS down and restored the previous version.

    Now I've put the MIR contents bit last as you won't be aware of the contents of the MIR described above until it becomes a part of your own MDR when you read what the problem was for the first time below. You may have even thought of the MIR contents by now and have incorporated them in your MDR if you have experienced a similar situation in the past and are therefore not seeing the original MIR contents for the first time. The CEO's office manager, who was not scientifically literate, said he managed to reset his ESS password automatically and, after viewing his own account details, could use this same 'master' password to successfully login to any other employees account details on the ESS.
    I like the story but any development engineer knows Sod's Law and all its cousins like the demonstration effect, Murphy' Law and so on. I don't know how they fit into MIR but I assume they do like Karma or something. So your story emphasises how we cannot know the source while we incorporate those Laws into our MDR!
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  6. #6966
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    It looks like the people who don't understand just aren't going to. Does anyone who does understand have any other lingering issues? Here is what I would argue has been quite conclusively established by scientific evidence (and no resort to any metaphysical principles or assumptions):

    1) science only demonstrably deals in a version of reality that is mind dependent, and it only needs that concept of reality to function (where by a mind-dependent concept of reality, I mean a recognition that the goal of science is to use our minds to make sense of our perceptions, with no requirement whatsoever for any part of that process to be independent of our minds, or any need to imagine that the process "refers to" anything mind independent).

    2) understanding the mind dependence of scientific theories is helpful in better understanding those theories, and avoiding misconceptions that lead to questions of the form "is reality such-and-such?" When one understands the MDR concept, one instead asks "what conceptual advantages or predictive power do we obtain by building models with the attribute such-and-such?"

    3) mind-depEddy endent reality in no way suggests that there is nothing "out there" other than minds, or that what is "out there" is not reality, that's the talk of people who don't understand the thread. Instead, mind-dependent reality means that when we do talk about what is "out there", and we do call it "reality", we are using our minds to do that, and we have no need to claim we are not using our minds, or that what we refer to as being "out there" is in any way independent of our minds. Indeed, scientists can often be seen to talk about what is "out there", outside their minds, as well as what is "in there", inside their minds, and as scientists do that, they can be seen to be using their minds in fundamentally important ways, that could be done very differently by the very different minds we already observe around us.

    4) claims that realism is a "no-miracles" philosophy, or that it in any way predicts or explains any scientific discovery, has no evidential basis at all. Instead, realism is just something that people like to believe. Indeed the most naive version of realism, that what exists independently of our minds is nevertheless faithfully reported and understood by our minds, is the most blatant example of a miracle-based philosophy that I can think of.
    Agreed, so worth repeating in full.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Yes but you cannot tell what that source is, that is the whole point.

    There is evidence that only a few thousand years ago, people (eg Alexander the Great) did indeed believe his thoughts came directly from God and how can we know they did not? Today most people believe in spontaneous thought, although that may not be rigorous, but as for senses we just believe in the source and its characteristics.

    To elevate what you cannot test to a knowledge of reality MIR is just not justified. You cannot know.
    Call it what you want, there is "something" out there. Something can not come from nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    It's an interesting question whether "MDR" considers a physical model to be "real" in any non-mental sense of the word.
    Are you hoping the answer to that will help you understand MDR better? Let's see.

    The answer is, "it depends on what you meant by your word 'real' in that question." I can't tell, because I have no idea what you mean by a "non-mental sense of the word." Words are quite demonstrably mental constructs, so none of them have "non-mental senses," there is no way to say what the "sense" of a word is without understanding the mind that intends that sense. But perhaps you mean, by "non-mental sense", the "sense of a word that is about models that are interpreted, by the mind using the sense of the word in question, as being about something outside the mind." If that's what you meant, then the answer is that MDR considers a model that is intended to relate to something being interpreted as outside the mind as being real in the non-mental sense, i.e., as being related to something being interpreted as outside the mind. But that's blindingly obvious, isn't it?

    Thus, the problem we have here is, either your question is nonsensical because it uses inconsistent meanings of its words, or it is obvious, because it uses consistent meanings of its words. The trick is in being able to say what you mean in an internally consistent way, that is what you are struggling to do.
    If not, then a physical model of an elephant is a mental model.
    This is the struggle you are having, your words sound internally inconsistent in the way you are using them. For example, what distinction do you have in mind between a "physical model" and a "mental model"? If you cannot distinguish those, then it's not surprising a model of an elephant would be both. If you can distinguish them, you have to make sure that the rest of the words you are using are consistent with that distinction. And above all, you need to describe an operational distinction, not a belief-based one, or you are not thinking scientifically. In short, your reasoning has a long way to go.
    That's why, in viewpoint of MDR it is important to deny that any scientific statement is "true" or "false" except relative to a particular mind.
    Nope. MDR does not deny that, it tests it. It is not "important" for MDR to do anything but notice the outcome of the test. So let us notice the outcome of the test. In science, where is it established that a scientific statement is "true" or "false", and do we find that whether something is regarded as "true" or "false" can be relative to the particular mind doing it? Let's observe the answers: the place truth and falseness is determined is in the mind, and if the process used is scientific, then the mind must be thinking scientifically at the time. What's more, the context of the situation may allow the same mind, thinking scientifically, to say a statement is "true" in one context, and "false" in another. If an example helps, consider the statement "the Earth is round", or the statement "gravity is a force." Mathematicians may struggle to understand what "truth" means in the scientific context, but rest assured, it is a useful concept all the same.

    For example if the statement "Unicorns exist" were globally "false" independent of Minds, then it's negation ("Unicorns do not exist") would be a Mind Independent truth.
    Well the structure of the logic holds, but its meaning seems incoherent. What do you mean by a statement being "globally false independent of minds"? Is there even such a concept in mathematics, let alone science? I've never seen it, perhaps you should publish a paper on it. But it sounds like gibberish to me, so if you cannot tell me what you mean, I will have to conclude it is indeed gibberish.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 12:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    It would seem to be so, if we are straightjacketed by our minds.
    Yeah, we must avoid having our conclusions be constrained by the ways our minds work. So much better to think without using our minds, to just know stuff.
    Something can not come from nothing.
    Where have I heard that belief before? Oh yes, believers in a supreme deity say that all the time. So we see what we have here: worship of MIR. I have no objection to your worshipping MIR, especially since you realize it is not science. I just don't understand why you feel the need to keep repeating your belief-- we get that you believe this, there is no need to keep saying that you believe this. But the way MDR thinking works is a bit different-- it asserts that you are asking the wrong question. You are asking how can existence emerge? The question MDR asks is, how does the meaning of the word existence emerge from a mental process of giving that word meaning?
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 01:05 PM.

  10. #6970
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Yeah, we must avoid having our conclusions be constrained by the ways our minds work. So much better to think without using our minds, to just know stuff.Where have I heard that belief before? Oh yes, believers in a supreme deity say that all the time. So we see what we have here: worship of MIR. I have no objection to your worshipping MIR, especially since you realize it is not science. I just don't understand why you feel the need to keep repeating your belief-- we get that you believe this, there is no need to keep saying that you believe this.
    Except it is not a belief - it is certitude, and all the flowery, erudite, circumlocatory prose in this thread can't alter that fact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    One more time: neither of those things is what this thread is about, for they are both beliefs, just like realism is a belief. Simply look at the 4 points I summarized above, and tell me which of them is either metaphysical idealism, or epistemological idealism?
    The first of your four points asserts that there is no "need to imagine" that scientific cognition " 'refers to' anything mind independent".

    Here is a definition of epistemological idealism, from the website Basics of Philosophy "Epistemological Idealism asserts that minds are aware of, or perceive, only their own ideas (representations or mental images), and not external objects, and therefore we cannot directly know things in themselves, or things as they really are."

    The expression "things in themselves" is equivalent to "mind independent" things. Epistemological idealism says we cannot know about such things. You say that there is no "need to imagine" that science refers to them.

    What, then, is the difference between your position and the epistemological idealist one?

    The MDR hypothesis asserts neither anything about "what reality is", nor anything about "what can be known."
    You've asserted that science doesn't refer to mind independent things, and now you say you've asserted nothing about what can be known. How else (according to you) could mind independent things be known if not thru science ??
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2015-Sep-16 at 01:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    The CEO's office manager, who was not scientifically literate, said he managed to reset his ESS password automatically and, after viewing his own account details, could use this same 'master' password to successfully login to any other employees account details on the ESS.
    profloater already commented on this, but it is worth significant attention because it is an actual example of the MIR and MDR concepts at work, so can help us understand their differences.

    Here is how I would describe your example. When you set up the new system, everyone involved, being MIR believers as most people are, thought there was an MIR in place of a system that would work. Later, they interpreted it as an MIR that would not work. So as always, if they believed in MIR to begin with, they maintained that belief, because the belief is never tested. They all just concluded they were wrong about the MIR that existed at that time.

    On the other hand, let's see what would have happened if one of the people involved had not believed MIR was a coherent notion. They would have said that the minds of everyone involved interpreted the new system as being a working one, then later found that their mental model of the situation failed a test. But prior to all that, the MIR non-believer might have said, "all we have here is a bunch of minds that agree this system will work-- that doesn't mean it will, because we have reached a conclusion that depends on our minds. Maybe we need to try to mix in a very different mind to expand the reliability of our mind-dependent conclusion." To which the MIR believers might have said "the situation has nothing to do with our minds-- there is an MIR here, and it will work." So we see how MIR belief can be an impediment to scientific progress, but it is also a kind of convenience-- you might not want to try to bring in every mind you can think of, it's nice to fall back on a notion of MIR when we are taking shortcuts.

    Now, looking at these different scenarios, we should notice three things that are of scientific significance:
    1) The actions that the MIR believers took, and the MIR non-believers took, were exactly the same. MIR belief played no role at all, other than leading to a kind of mental convenience that would preclude against the need to bring in additional minds-- for better or for worse.
    2) Remarkably, even though it was easily demonstrated that MIR belief played no role, your interpretation of the situation seemed to take it as a confirming case of the MIR concept! Such is always the way with what cannot be tested-- when a belief is untestable, everything that happens is interpreted as a confirmation of the belief.
    3) Of the two scenarios above, only one is built entirely from observables, and that's the second one. We can observe a bunch of people who have a mental model of what the new system will do, and we observe the process by which they came to agree on that mental model, and how their minds were demonstrably involved. We can speculate that if a very different mind had been involved (say the mind of the person who broke the new system), a different impression of what that system would do might have emerged. We also observe those minds testing their mental model of what the new system would do, finding that their initial model failed, and creating a new model of what that system would do. All those things we can actually observe, and that is all that the second scenario, that of the MIR non-believer, actually referred to. The first scenario added a bunch of MIR belief, which involved elements that were never observed, and changed nothing.

    So on balance, I think we can see that this whole scenario is a confirming case study in the four points I summarized above.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 01:28 PM.

  13. #6973
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Except it is not a belief - it is certitude, and all the flowery, erudite, circumlocatory prose in this thread can't alter that fact.
    And all the science too? What happens when people don't use science, yet conclude their beliefs are truths that transcend their own process of coming to believe it-- is that something we ever see happen, say in climate change, appearance of the human species, or stories of the age of the Earth? It's true that those are not perfect analogies to your position here, because those models make different testable predictions than the faith-based ones. Still, the situations do share certain similarities, wouldn't you say? I guess you wouldn't, the believer never self-identifies as such.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 01:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Something can not come from nothing.
    Where have I heard that belief before? Oh yes, believers in a supreme deity say that all the time.
    I thought mainstream Christian theology insisted on creation ex nihilo — the doctrine that something can and did come from nothing, thanks to the power of God. Your God seems to be Mind — you think Mind has the power to create something out of nothing, in that it can make logical scientific models without a pre-existing logic in the universe.
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2015-Sep-16 at 01:58 PM.

  15. #6975
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Yeah, we must avoid having our conclusions be constrained by the ways our minds work. So much better to think without using our minds, to just know stuff.Where have I heard that belief before? Oh yes, believers in a supreme deity say that all the time. So we see what we have here: worship of MIR. I have no objection to your worshipping MIR, especially since you realize it is not science. I just don't understand why you feel the need to keep repeating your belief-- we get that you believe this, there is no need to keep saying that you believe this. But the way MDR thinking works is a bit different-- it asserts that you are asking the wrong question. You are asking how can existence emerge? The question MDR asks is, how does the meaning of the word existence emerge from a mental process of giving that word meaning?
    My bold. While I am satisfied that you are right on technicalities of logic, I think you are hurting your cause with that choice of words. I believe the same thing to a moral certainty, and it is a reasonable belief based directly on my sensations, which belief in a supreme deity is not. My satisfaction with the opinion that my belief is not scientifically meaningful does not change that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    Here is a definition of epistemological idealism, from the website Basics of Philosophy "Epistemological Idealism asserts that minds are aware of, or perceive, only their own ideas (representations or mental images), and not external objects, and therefore we cannot directly know things in themselves, or things as they really are."
    The question is important, so will take some time to answer.

    I think we can all agree that the mind is aware of its own thoughts and perceptions, so the key word is "only." What is the intention of that word? Let's take a simpler example-- seeing light. I expect we can all agree that when we see light, what is happening is that our minds are interpreting various electrochemical processes that are going on in the optic nerve-- at least, that is clearly our working model of what is going on there. So would we then say we see "only" the electrochemical action of our optic nerve, and not the light? No, we would not say that, because that is simply not what we mean by "seeing". Our intention behind the word "seeing" goes well past the action of our optic nerve, it involves observed correlations between what our optic nerve is doing, and what other people's optic nerves are doing, and what other instruments are doing (like the instruments of our hands when we touch what we see, or feel the heat from a fire as we see the fire, etc.). So what we intend by the word "seeing" involves a vastly interconnected set of observed correlations, all organized and interpreted by our minds/brains, in ways that demonstrably depend on those minds/brains. That's what we mean by "seeing", so we would not say that we "only see the electrochemical actions of our optic nerves", but we would say that we "see light." This is the process by which words acquire meaning that I keep talking about.

    So now we are ready to see the difference between MDR thinking and epistemological idealism. The latter asserts that we are aware of only our thoughts and perceptions, so we must ask ourselves if this encompasses our intended meaning of "aware," and that is the problem. The hidden postulate that will invariably be invoked in epistemological idealism of all flavors, is that nothing outside the mind can be "known," if we are only aware of what is inside our minds. See the sleight of hand there? Somehow the ambiguities in the word "aware" have been conflated with the ambiguities in the word "known", such that we have the appearance of a logical connection, but the most important part of that connection has been swept completely under the rug.

    To see this more clearly, let us return to our example of seeing light. Shall we say that since we are only "aware" of what electrochemical processes are at play in our optic nerve, we can conclude "therefore" that all we can "know" is what our optic nerve is doing? No, that would be a silly intention for the meaning of the word "know," that's just not what we want that word to mean. What we actually want "know" to mean, especially in science, is "that which we have concluded to be true to a very high level of testable reliability." So by not playing the game of conflating ambiguities in the pretense of a logical equivalence, we easily see that it does not follow that "because all we are aware of is the electrochemical activity in our optic nerve, we cannot know that a car is speeding toward us just by looking at it." That is the logic used in that explanation of epistemlogical idealism, and it is quite silly, because that's just not at all what we mean by "knowing that a car is speeding toward us."

    What we actually mean by "knowing" that is, we have drawn a highly reliable conclusion that what we mean by a car (which is quite demonstrably a mental model we have), is doing what we mean by speeding toward us (another mental model we have), based on our seeing the light from that car (again a mental model), especially when our mental reasoning gives us no reason to doubt that perception (i.e., we are not watching a 3D movie, etc.). That's the way MDR thinking frames the situation, and note the opposite conclusion-- MDR thinking concludes that we do "know" that a car is speeding toward us (in a contextual and provisional way, never 100% certainty). Hence it makes perfect sense that we should get out of the way, a conclusion that epistemological idealism seems challenged to come to.

    But shall we say we don't know the "car in itself" by looking at it? Superficially, MDR thinking might seem to reach the conclusion that we cannot directly know things in themselves, or as they really are. But I have labored mightily to show that this is not at all true. What MDR thinking actually does is change the popularized meaning of knowing until it actually resembles the kind of knowing that happens in science. What people normally mean by "know" is deeply infused with their MIR belief-- if you believe there is "something absolute or universal to know", then knowing is all about making contact with that absolute something. MDR thinking points out that knowing is something a mind does, so it really doesn't make sense to talk about knowing as making contact with a universal something, but it does make sense to talk about knowing as making sense of the situation in a reliable and useful way. Is that not what we mean in regard to any given thing that you would say you "know" to be true? Of course it is, that's just exactly what we mean.

    Let us play the same game with the words "thing as they really are." What is the intention that we have for those words? Well, if we infuse those words with MIR belief, they come to mean something unusable in science. So let us not do that, let us use those words the way a scientist would-- what do we mean by a thing "as it really is"? Take an electron-- what do we mean by an electron as it really is, in science? It is clear what the scientist's intention is behind those words-- the intention to create a model, call it the "model of an electron", and apply that model to observations of situations interpreted as involving "real electrons." Now here's the key point-- that second meaning of "electron", the "real electron", is also a model. It has to be, in science, because the scientist must be able to say if he/she is going to regard his/her experiment as being an experiment "on an electron"! How could they ever say that if they did not have a mental model of what constitutes a "real electron"?

    So when a scientist talks about a "real electron", they are demonstrably referring to a mental model, that tells them when some experiment they are doing is relevant for comparison to their "model of an electron", the latter being part of some mathematical structure capable of making quantitative predictions. The terminology is confusing, because we have two "models of an electron", but MIR belief causes the standard lexicon to refer to only one as a "model", even though both quite demonstrably are. Thus, what we have here is a language that is so badly confused with MIR belief, it is hard to even evaluate the intention behind the statement "therefore we cannot directly know things in themselves." If all that means is "do not adopt MIR belief", then yes, MDR thinking and epistemological idealism both say that. But epistemological idealism also says other things that MDR thinking does not, and to tell this is the case, you have to look further at how epistemological idealism is used. In particular, you have to look at that all-important word "only", and the fallacy of claiming that since all we are "aware of" is our own optic nerve, therefore what we see is "only in our mind." That would not be at all an accurate way to describe the scientist's intention behind the word "seeing"! This is also why I keep stressing that things like what we mean by seeing depend on our minds, not that they are all in our minds.
    You've asserted that science doesn't refer to mind independent things, and now you say you've asserted nothing about what can be known. How else (according to you) could mind independent things be known if not thru science ??
    That depends on the intention behind the word "know", i.e., what you mean by that word. If by "know", you take the scientist's meaning, then the answer is obvious. Scientific knowledge is the sense we have made of our objective perceptions, where by "sense we have made", I mean the well-tested theories we have developed that help us understand and predict our circumstances. These well-tested theories allow us the related mind-dependent concepts of scientific knowledge, and scientific truth, but we must bear in mind that by their very nature, these forms of truth are contextual and provisional. So "scientific knowing" is not at all what most philosophers mean by knowing! We always have to look at the intentions behind the words, else we fall into the fallacy of conflating ambiguities in the form, but not substance, of a logical equivalence.

    So, the concise answer is that the MDR hypothesis says that the things that scientific knowing apply to are demonstrably mind dependent, but are not intended to be interpreted as "all in the mind". Thus, the scientific process cannot be used to confer any other meaning of knowing, and in particular it cannot convey scientific knowing onto mind independent things. However, it does not preclude other forms of knowing, such as the kind we keep hearing from gzhpcu about. Just look at his version of knowing, and you will have your answer as to why MDR thinking makes no claims on "what can be known." However, it does observe the scientific process, and reaches scientific inferences about what can be known scientifically. Note the key difference: this is not a logical equivalence, not a syllogism that follows from a set of postulates about the true nature of reality. It looks at how scientists manipulate the reality concept in the process of doing science, and observes what kinds of "knowing" this process results in, and finds that it is a kind of knowing that deals in the making and testing of models, both of which processes depend on the mind doing them. What's more, scientific knowing was never intended to be any other kind of knowing, and would be spectacularly unsuccessful were that its intention. This is the MDR hypothesis.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 02:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    I thought mainstream Christian theology insisted on creation ex nihilo — the doctrine that something can and did come from nothing, thanks to the power of God.
    Has your reasoning not overlooked that in that doctrine, God is not nothing? So something did not entirely come from nothing, now did it?
    Your God seems to be Mind — you think Mind has the power to create something out of nothing, in that it can make logical scientific models without a pre-existing logic in the universe.
    Ah, that bogus "no miracles" argument for realism. As I've said, that argument has the situation exactly backward. The idea that our minds don't create our thoughts, but that they must come from a "source", is what is invoking a miracle-- the transmogrification of substance into thought. But we don't actually observe any such transmogrification, what we observe is that a thought was not there, and then it was, and a physical system (a brain) seems to be required for that to happen. But infusing anything I just said with MIR belief is to say that an MIR object was a "source" of the thought, which we then interpret as something our minds did. That's a miracle argument if framed as anything other than the mental model our minds create to understand how we create models.

    The MDR argument invokes no such miracle, no "god" to be a "source" of the thoughts we have. We simply observe that we have thoughts, and we try to make sense of that observation-- period. That's all we observe is happening, so why pretend we need a "source" to make the miracle happen? As if invoking this miraculous "source" somehow removes the miracle, instead of what it really does: infuses our language with a need for a miracle. I have no need for any miracle-- I observe that I have thoughts, and I try to make sense of why, and I do that by invoking all kinds of models, including a model I call the "external world" and a model I call "my mind." That's it, that is all I will scientifically say is happening because that is all I observe is happening. No miracles, no god, those are all beliefs people choose to add but are not observed.

    Now, what I'm saying will sound like Cartesian duality to anyone not paying close enough attention. But Cartesian duality is just another form of MIR thinking-- it just divides the MIR that Really Exists into two parts, one that is mind and one that is the physical world. That isn't MDR thinking-- MDR thinking just says that making a division like that can be a useful model in some provisional and contextual ways, but need not be any kind of claim on anything mind independent. What we observe is that our minds have thoughts and try to make sense, and part of how we make sense is by making models that include minds and physical realities. There is no need to assert that the physical reality is the "source" of the mind (realism), that is just one of the models our minds are observed to create. There is also no need to assert that the mind is the "source" of the physical reality (idealism), that is just another one of the models our minds are observed to create. And there is no need to assert that the mind and the physical reality coexist as separate entities within some greater MIR, that is also just another model. When the tiger chases its tail, you can model that as a tiger who is the source of a desire to catch its tail, or as a tail that is causing a tiger to want to catch it, or a tiger and a tail with a relationship of trying to be caught but not succeeding. All those models work to help make sense of the observation, but the observation is still only of a tiger chasing its tail. In short, I am not espousing idealism or dualism, simply by pointing out that realism is a belief.

    It must be clarified at this point that the idea that "everything we say is true is a kind of model" is just the scientific description, because it is limited by what we can actually observe. But perhaps it leaves me with the sense that something is missing. Science is not all things to all people! So I may turn to another of my mental capacities-- in addition to my ability to think scientifically, I am also capable of adopting beliefs that do not come from scientific thinking. Indeed, I would argue that people invoke this capacity even more regularly than they do their capacity to think scientifically! And when I invoke that capacity, I have the power to "know" other kinds of things, things that science has no access to. But this latter form of "knowing" is personal, subjective, and untestable-- and not really the subject of this forum!
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 03:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    My bold. While I am satisfied that you are right on technicalities of logic, I think you are hurting your cause with that choice of words. I believe the same thing to a moral certainty, and it is a reasonable belief based directly on my sensations, which belief in a supreme deity is not. My satisfaction with the opinion that my belief is not scientifically meaningful does not change that.
    I accept that you have this moral certitude-- just as I accept that other people have a moral certitude in the existence of a supreme deity. By comparing MIR belief with worship, it is not my goal to denigrate either one. Indeed, I have great respect for both of those forms of moral certitude. My comparison is only to expose the hypocrisy in elevating the beliefs that are held to a different level of "truth" than those that are not held, without making any effort to distinguish the process by which those beliefs came to be held. Nothing that we hold to be "true" ever transcends the process by which we come to that truth, so if that process is "moral certitude", then all other forms of truth that come from moral certitude must be regarded as being on equal footing. Hence we should speak of "my moral certitude" and "your moral certitude", which clearly distinguishes this form of knowing from the scientific form-- which is not intended to work that way in the context of objective outcomes, and suffers extreme constraints as a result. Hence we should say that the concept of "scientific truth" applies to a select class of statements, statements that involve objectively testable outcomes (but still mind dependent, of course-- we still require minds that are capable of scientific thinking, and contexts where objective outcomes can be identified).
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 03:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Except it is not a belief - it is certitude, and all the flowery, erudite, circumlocatory prose in this thread can't alter that fact.
    I wonder what a certitude is? Like death and taxes? If you are content with "something is out there" so be it.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And all the science too? What happens when people don't use science, yet conclude their beliefs are truths that transcend their own process of coming to believe it-- is that something we ever see happen, say in climate change, appearance of the human species, or stories of the age of the Earth? It's true that those are not perfect analogies to your position here, because those models make different testable predictions than the faith-based ones. Still, the situations do share certain similarities, wouldn't you say? I guess you wouldn't, the believer never self-identifies as such.
    What is apparently not entering your head, is that even though science is primarily MDR and even if you say it does not exclude MIR's existence, fact is something can not come from nothing, ergo there is something, and I will even avoid to use the word "reality", for obvious reasons. Sticking your head in the sand does not solve the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I wonder what a certitude is? Like death and taxes? If you are content with "something is out there" so be it.
    Alternative please?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    What is apparently not entering your head, is that even though science is primarily MDR and even if you say it does not exclude MIR's existence, fact is something can not come from nothing, ergo there is something, and I will even avoid to use the word "reality", for obvious reasons. Sticking your head in the sand does not solve the problem.
    As profloater said, more concisely, the "sticking the head in the sand" person is he who says "I just know this, I don't need to track the process whereby I come to that knowledge, I don't need to explore what I mean by knowing, and I don't have to provide any evidence for what I know. I just have all this sand around my head and I'm happy with it that way." The not sticking-their-head-in-the-sand person is the one who asks, "but when do you decide you know something, what process do you go through to get to that point, and why should anyone else care what you claim to know, if you cannot cite any evidence or make any testable predictions they should pay attention to?" But I guess we won't agree on what the act of "sticking one's head in the sand" actually looks like-- more mind dependence, apparently.

    But I will thank you for this post, because it beautifully answers a question we had previously:
    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson
    How else (according to you) could mind independent things be known if not thru science ??
    Get it now? When you ask a question like that, you have to say what you mean by "know", you cannot assume the term is generally accepted to mean "infer using science." And if, when you asked that, you did mean "infer using science", then the answer follows from inspection of the scientific method-- one cannot use science to know mind independent things. However, epistemological idealism never mentions science, now does it?
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 06:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    No, that would be a silly intention for the meaning of the word "know," that's just not what we want that word to mean. What we actually want "know" to mean, especially in science, is "that which we have concluded to be true to a very high level of testable reliability."
    How are things to be concluded to be true to a very high level of testability? If we do tests then we must utilize our "awareness" of the equipment used to do the test. So distinguishing "awareness" from "knowing" by saying that "knowing" is done through testing, only returns us to the problem of dealing with "awareness".

    You are criticizing philosophical Idealism by forcing into the context of an "MDR" viewpoint In particular you assume that "we" all grant that there is "real" scientific equipment and scientific testing. If we grant that there is a substantial amount of stuff in the world that is "known" or "real" then it is, of course, possible to make a distinction between "awareness" and "knowing"by utilizing that "known" and "real" stuff to do tests.

    ( I grant that it's a fair tactic to criticize one philosophical view by assuming another and I, personally, have no objection to considering microscopes, voltmeters etc. to be real. I'm merely pointing out that you must assume assertions that contradict Idealism before you can make a demonstration that the language used by Idealism is faulty.)

    The problem I see with Idealism is that once you assert the very basic theory of Idealism, you are stuck. Anything further you claim can be answered by "That's just what you think. Those are just your perceptions." Perhaps an expert in Idealism can explain if it is possible to make claims beyond the basic statement of Idealism without adding assumptions to the basic statement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Well the structure of the logic holds, but its meaning seems incoherent. What do you mean by a statement being "globally false independent of minds"?
    By "globally false", I mean "false" - i.e. "false" as that concept is understood in mathematics- i.e. a concept that "falsity" is independent of Minds. I merely used "globally false" to emphasize that I'm not talking about what other posters refer to as "scientific truth" or the concept that "truth" is personal concept, unique to each person. (Of course, people can argue that a given concept of "truth" is valid or not valid. I'm merely distinguishing one meaning of "truth" from another.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    How are things to be concluded to be true to a very high level of testability?
    Well, that's science, now isn't it. This is a science forum, is it not?
    If we do tests then we must utilize our "awareness" of the equipment used to do the test.
    Obviously.
    So distinguishing "awareness" from "knowing" by saying that "knowing" is done through testing, only returns us to the problem of dealing with "awareness".
    You are creating, once again, a tempest in a teacup. In actual fact, scientific thinkers exhibit very little difficulty distinguishing "awareness" from "knowing", as I will show. Indeed, I'm sure you don't have difficulty doing that either. To demonstrate this, let us consider a specific example, though any of a million would suffice. When a scientific thinker's mind is "aware" of a mirage, it generally possesses the wherewithal to create a well-tested sense of "knowing" that it is a mirage and not an actual puddle of water in the road ahead. If anyone's mind lacks that capability, that's a shame for them, it makes it harder to avoid braking unnecessarily as they drive along a hot road.
    You are criticizing philosophical Idealism by forcing into the context of an "MDR" viewpoint
    Actually, I am calling it a belief. I only criticize the idealist if he/she doesn't know that about what they are doing.
    In particular you assume that "we" all grant that there is "real" scientific equipment and scientific testing.
    Yes, I certainly do assume that, though that assumption is no part of my argument. I only assume that so that I don't need to include additional elements to the argument, for the benefit of the nonexistent group of people on this thread that don't think that "real" scientific equipment and scientific testing is appropriate language for science to use. Of course, this has nothing to do with MIR belief.
    If we grant that there is a substantial amount of stuff in the world that is "known" or "real" then it is, of course, possible to make a distinction between "awareness" and "knowing"by utilizing that "known" and "real" stuff to do tests.
    I'm glad you understand that aspect of how scientific thinking works.
    I grant that it's a fair tactic to criticize one philosophical view by assuming another and I, personally, have no objection to considering microscopes, voltmeters etc. to be real.
    As per my assumption on that score.
    I'm merely pointing out that you must assume assertions that contradict Idealism before you can make a demonstration that the language used by Idealism is faulty.
    Again, no part of my argument requires an assumption that contradicts idealism, I merely frame my argument for the benefit of a group of people who are not idealists. I've said many times that an idealist can do science, and a realist can do science, and a person who believes in a supreme deity can do science, yet none of those beliefs have anything to do with doing science. What part of that are you not getting?
    The problem I see with Idealism is that once you assert the very basic theory of Idealism, you are stuck. Anything further you claim can be answered by "That's just what you think. Those are just your perceptions."
    Yes, the idealist/scientist will need to find some way to navigate that problem. I will leave that up to them-- as there are no idealist/scientists on this thread, the issue is rather hypothetical, but I'm sure they have no trouble functioning in daily life while still being an idealist.

    Perhaps an expert in Idealism can explain if it is possible to make claims beyond the basic statement of Idealism without adding assumptions to the basic statement.
    If I believed in idealism, and wanted to use scientific thinking at the same time, the way I would do it is just assert that even though "everything is in my mind", nevertheless I observe consistencies that I wish to make sense of, and then just do science, like everyone else. You see, the scientific method has nothing to do with what we attribute as the "source" of the consistencies we observe, nor does it have anything to do with where we think these consistencies are housed. This is something that permeates all of science, when we say a particle "has a velocity", we make no effort to say how a particle can "have velocity" (a gift from a friend particle?), or where the velocity of the particle is housed (in its back pocket?), we simply create a model of a particle and a model of velocity, and stick them together for purposes of conceptual and predictive power. Neither idealism, nor realism, nor Cartesian dualism, have anything to do with the process of doing science, that's the main point of the thread.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 08:33 PM.

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    But of course we add assumptions. We do the Turing test all the time. We as well as personal MDR add theory of mind. We assume everybody has a mind but at base that is in the end, untestable.

    How could you have consensus without theory of mind? Agnostic all the way but science gives us consistency within its predictions.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    By "globally false", I mean "false" - i.e. "false" as that concept is understood in mathematics- i.e. a concept that "falsity" is independent of Minds.
    So you choose to believe the mathematical concept of "falsity" is independent of minds? How do you then attribute the fact that many mathematical "falsities" can only be identified as such by some minds, but not all? And are you aware that there are debates in mathematics about what has been proven, and what hasn't? For example, some mathematicians hold that Godel's proof has proven that arithmetic is incomplete, because any proof is allowed to assume the proving system is consistent, that's what proofs do. Hence, if we assume the proving system we call arithmetic is consistent, then Godel says it is incomplete, QED. But others point out that the axioms of arithmetic may someday be found to be inconsistent, so the previous "proof" that arithmetic is incomplete cannot be regarded as a statement that it is true that arithmetic is incomplete. So much for "global truth or falsity" being mind independent! The problem is whether or not one can regard something that has been proven within a given proving system as true in any way that transcends that proving system. For mathematicians who regard the axioms of arithmetic as self-evidently true, they hold that arithmetic can prove things as true in a way that transcends that proving system. Others say there is no such thing as a self-evidently true axiom. These are mathematicians we are talking about here, and the field of inquiry is called the philosophy of mathematics. It demonstrates the mind dependence of the concept of "global falsity", even in mathematics!

    Also, it is a well-known aspect of mathematics that most mathematicians do not prove all the theorems that they hold to be true-- they simply take the word of other mathematicians that they have been proven. That's what non-mathematicians do with almost all mathematical proofs. So where is the proof that a given theorem's truth or falseness is independent of the minds that proved it true or false? I've never seen a mathematical proof like that, can you offer one? Say for Fermat's last theorem? What axioms will you need to do your proof, and how will you prove those axioms are true, in a mind independent way?

    This was all covered above. In mathematics, "true" only means "syntactically equivalent to a set of postulates," where the syntax is logic. There is no proof that syntactic equivalence is a mind independent property, because it still takes a mind to recognize that syntax, the rules of logic. A rock can't do it. A superintelligent alien might know of a different syntactic structure that works better than logic, perhaps one that does not admit a Godel proof for example. If so, then they would pretty easily see that our logic, and what we mean by "mathematically true", is mind dependent. I have not seen any proof this is impossible, so I have not seen any proof that truth in mathematics is mind independent, but truth in mathematics is certainly regarded as a logical syntactic structure (like "proven"), whereas semantic content (like a philosopher's meaning of "true") is something a bit different.

    In science, the formal syntactic meaning of "true" simply doesn't fly. Scientific thinking uses mathematics, and uses logic, but the concept of "truth" in science is way different from the concept of "logically equivalent to a set of postulates." For one thing, as I've said a few times now, truth in science is demonstrably contextual and provisional, two aspects that truth in mathematics would struggle mightily with. I have never seen anyone try to formalize the concept of "scientific knowlege", for example-- have you? If so, how well did it go?

    Of course, people can argue that a given concept of "truth" is valid or not valid.
    Now you're getting closer to the point.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Sep-16 at 08:58 PM.

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    Just posting to report from the Twilight Zone again.

    My perception of color seems to be altering at a steady pace now. It's become noticeable enough to distress me. Yellow is becoming green. First it was just yellow light above a certain brightness. Now yellow objects are taking on a greenish tinge. The relevant professionals are going to determine if this is a retinal or occipital issue in the up coming weeks.

    Still, I liked things colored the way they are now and don't like the new change. And who is to say where this will lead to?
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    But of course we add assumptions. We do the Turing test all the time. We as well as personal MDR add theory of mind. We assume everybody has a mind but at base that is in the end, untestable.
    We do this in practice, yes. It is a kind of convenience. But we don't need to take these conveniences seriously, at least not in science. It is like what we were talking about above, there are several different meanings to an "assumption." For some, an "assumption" means "that which they take to be true", period. But in science, an "assumption" just means "that which we are pretending we regard as true for some practical purpose," like to achieve a useful approximation or idealization. We usually expect to relax our assumptions at some future time, and see how that complicates the picture. That's the MDR way of thinking about "assumptions," but philosophers tend to take their assumptions more seriously, which is why it is so important not to let any slip under the rug.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    My perception of color seems to be altering at a steady pace now. It's become noticeable enough to distress me.
    I am sorry that you are distressed. But thanks for reporting your experiences, you have a unique perspective on mind dependence, one that few people ever get. Lucky you.
    Yellow is becoming green. First it was just yellow light above a certain brightness. Now yellow objects are taking on a greenish tinge. The relevant professionals are going to determine if this is a retinal or occipital issue in the up coming weeks.
    Still, I liked things colored the way they are now and don't like the new change. And who is to say where this will lead to?
    I once put on a pair of sunglasses and looked at a bright sunny vista, and the sunglasses brought out the greens more, and also seemed to increase the contrast. I thought "wow, it looks better through these glasses than it really looks." But then I realized there were all kinds of distortions and filters that the light was already passing through, without the sunglasses, so how do I know that the glasses were taking it farther from, and not closer to, how it "really looks"? There is no such thing as how the world "really looks", there is only how we see it. Maybe you'll see something that is there that everyone else is missing. I'm sorry your overall impression is to not like the appearance as much now, maybe it will help to find something you see with better eyes now than the rest of us do.

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