The Reasoning Show - Miscellaneous Discussion

Some partial backups of posts from the past (Feb, 2004)

Postby Unidian » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:53 pm

Yeah, if you're thinking about "experience." Substituting the thought or concept of "experience" for what the term "experience" points to is another example of how thinking distracts us from the directness of "this."
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Postby Jason » Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:01 pm

Unidian wrote:Yeah, if you're thinking about "experience." Substituting the thought or concept of "experience" for what the term "experience" points to is another example of how thinking distracts us from the directness of "this."


I'm still not sure I understand. Perhaps you could flesh out what you mean by "experience" exactly. The way it is often conceived of, experience is concerned with "chopped up bits" just like thought is, and so is faced(by your reasoning, as I understand it) with the exact same problems in apprehending the whole of existence.
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Postby Unidian » Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:22 pm

When does experience get chopped up?
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Postby Sapius » Tue Apr 10, 2007 8:02 pm

Nat,

I don't "understand" it at all. I live it.


I have no doubts about that; reason being, that I can understand what you exactly mean.

Things can be understood, because their meaningful existence as things is dependent being distinguished from other things in ways that are useful to us.


Sure, and what the pointing may achieve is not useful?

In other words, our minds chop up and label in various ways and for various purposes. That is what thought is all about.


I don’t agree. Our mind chops up nothing; it is the sense of the already chopped (the finite) that which is the “mind” itself. Can you see that in a way you are implying the same thing as…. Let me find it….. here it is...

“It is generally agreed that idealism, on the other hand, suffers from even more grevious problems, none of which we will be able to give adequate treatment here. However, we might touch upon the most serious problems by asking "If all things reduce to mental constructs, what is the nature of the consciousness which gives rise to them?" All attempts to define "mind" meaningfully at this level of abstraction end in the appearance of another nebulous sort of "nothingness" not much different from the ultimate void of materialism, or else they require that we posit a "supreme being" of a conscious sort - i.e. "God." “


‘Chopping up’ essentially means the same as ‘mental construct’, which means that the finite is not really there.

However, the whole of existence is not a thing because there is nothing outside itself to distinguish it against.


Absolutely. The following is perfectly clear to me…

"An infinite whole cannot possess finite qualities in and of itself. It may contain or encompass finite aspects within itself, but when taken as a totality, no finite qualities can be assigned to it. As a result, the only form which existence can take (in the ultimate sense) is the form of pure potential. Potential, unrealized, is infinite by nature - it is all possibilities with no defined outcomes. This unlimited potential, by necessity, brings about the constant change in form and structure we observe around us. This occurs due to the fact that the infinite must produce finite manifestations (such as our universe and its myriad forms), for if it were not so, there would be no true potential. Potential must be capable of actualizing, or it is not potential at all. If the ultimate sense of existence does not consist of pure potential, it consists of nothing at all, which constitutes non-existence, a violation of the second existential principle [establishing that non-existence cannot, by definition, exist]. Therefore, existence in the ultimate sense is not physical (for 'potential' is the opposite of 'actual'), but physicality must necessarily flow from it. This can be somewhat difficult to understand at first glance, but with due contemplation, the meaning becomes clear. The nature of existence is, by necessity, such that the infinite will always produce finite (physical) manifestations which are subject to the overriding principle of physicality, which can best be described as 'constant change.' This principle is most fundamental because if the finite (physical) were not subject to change, it would posess a quality of infinity and could no longer be called finite at all."

Therefore, ………it cannot be understood through thought. It can be experienced and pointed to, …………but not conceptualized in an "Absolute" sense.


Do you not understand what the passage means that you have to add a ‘therefore’? It was actually quite alright up until then.(did you write the above passage? Or is it someone else?) Do you not have the understanding of that particular knowledge? Is it not that understanding of that particular knowledge that you are living?

Forget the ‘but not conceptualized in an “Absolute sense” ‘ part. That is exactly what people keep grasping at – Ultimate Absoluteness – where there is none at all on the level of totality, existence, or infinity as describe in above. Our very ordinary sense can grasp that piece of knowledge without any introduction of Tao, emptiness, nothingness, etc., etc. Infinity and finite are more than enough to understand it, and they too are necessarily dependant on each other. Hence even “Infinity” is not an absolute on its own in any sense. Nor does it actually “create” the finite. They are necessarily dependant on each other, and neither “creates” either in actuality. The finiteness in and of Infinity, IS Infinity itself. Carry water chop wood. End of story.

I tried to get at some of this in the show.


Good, it may help those that do not understand, and want to understand, through what you are trying to point to; which in my opinion needs an understanding of that which you are trying to point in the first place. Otherwise you’re pointing to meaninglessness, absolutely nothing at all.

We are simply complicating things with the introductions of un-conceptualizable “concepts” like Tao and such, whereas it is really quite simple, and all that it needs is clarity of thought, which comes gradually as understandings sink in as realizations. The same thing that has happened to You.

How one reaches such clarities does not really matter, but in my opinion, use of Buddhist terms complicate things further. And IF that rather simplifies, then we should have had Buddhas and enlightened people on every street corner.

You yourself admitted, that you have hardly met a single person who might embody the ideal you thing is necessary to reach perfection, so how much has the Tao and such really helped? How can there be a perfection in and of a finite thing, in and of infinity, when they both essentially depend on each other.

We can only see the unity in the dependency only, and that too through thought, but that does not make the finite and infinite one and the same thing, ever.

ONLY on the level of totality, existence, could true perfection exist, if at all. Otherwise, all that can be achieved is perfection in though, nothing else essentially.

And that is exactly what makes you think or say that you live it, which essentially means you understand existence perfectly.

(In two days time I will be away for about 6~7 weeks, so discussions at length can happen after that only)
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Postby Jason » Tue Apr 10, 2007 8:24 pm

Unidian wrote:When does experience get chopped up?


It depends what you mean by experience. Experience itself isn't necessarily chopped up, but one definition of experience would describe it as being composed of divisions created by the mind. This, to me, seems very similar to how you have defined thought. Experience in the sensual realm: blue and non-blue is one possible division. Experience in the emotional realm: happy and non-happy and so forth.

So according to my understanding of the following quotation, the dividing that occurs in experience would be problematic in the same way that thought is:

Unidian wrote:In other words, our minds chop up and label in various ways and for various purposes. That is what thought is all about. However, the whole of existence is not a thing because there is nothing outside itself to distinguish it against. Therefore, it cannot be understood through thought.


Another thought I had about this matter: you say that the whole of reality is a unity, therefore unknowable, because of the inherent inability to contrast something against it. How about if you could know everything that exists: from within the unity. This could be possible if we view the totality of existence as really just the collection of all divisions. We can know and conceptualize divisions, just by contrasting one division against another.

So by knowing all divisions we come to know the totality without having to step outside it. There is no infinite regress of divisions necessary, because the contrasting is mutually acting, meaning you only need two divisions at minimum which support each other by mutal contrast - black exists because white exists, and white exists because black exists.

None of this really impacts my personal views though, I'm just exploring your ideas.
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Postby Jason » Tue Apr 10, 2007 8:46 pm

Sapius,

A claim of the existence of non-duality made while remaining in and of duality, and knowing and stating that nothing lies beyond consciousness (which is duality itself), tells me that that is but a wishful thinking. How logical is it to claim that some un-conceptualizable thing lies beyond conceptualizations. The, not the eternal Tao... not the eternal name... thing.


There is only division, duality. The infinite/nondual is a mere dualistic fantasy of the dualistic mind in the dualistic world.

However, a step beyond that point of view and you reach: things are just exactly as they are.

My koan for today: What isn't reality?
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Postby Unidian » Tue Apr 10, 2007 8:59 pm

Yes. Things are just as they are. That's what all of this is pointing to. There's no need to go beyond that, although the mind has a natural tendency to make the attempt anyway. My ideas are about exploring ways in which the restless intellect can be led to its limits, with the desired end result being that the futility of substituting ideas and beliefs for reality becomes clear.

Sapius, you post enormous blocks of text which, while interesting, are formidable in terms of their size and content. I may address some of your specific points in the near future, although there is really no need to do so as we do not really disagree as much as you might think. For example, I fully agree with the following:

That is exactly what people keep grasping at – Ultimate Absoluteness – where there is none at all on the level of totality, existence, or infinity as describe in above. Our very ordinary sense can grasp that piece of knowledge without any introduction of Tao, emptiness, nothingness, etc., etc. Infinity and finite are more than enough to understand it, and they too are necessarily dependant on each other. Hence even “Infinity” is not an absolute on its own in any sense. Nor does it actually “create” the finite. They are necessarily dependant on each other, and neither “creates” either in actuality. The finiteness in and of Infinity, IS Infinity itself. Carry water chop wood. End of story.


Correct, in my view, and well-put.

However, I think that how you and I reach this point is different in some ways, and it would require a great deal of time and energy to really do the subtleties of it justice. Right now, I lack both, since I should have been in bed half an hour ago.

Semantic hair-splitting is of little importance, anyway. I think you have a solid handle on what is being pointed to in all of this. "Ordinary reality" and "ultimate reality" are one and the same. The distinction is not meaningful, and in fact, neither are the terms. There is just Reality, and it is what it is. The mind naturally looks for more, because we are thinking animals. But there isn't anything more, nor any need for it.

Taoism and similar things are not about inventing a new theological God. They are about the psychology of dealing with reality as it is, free from various forms of intellectual baggage.
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Postby Sapius » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:50 pm

Jason wrote:Sapius,

A claim of the existence of non-duality made while remaining in and of duality, and knowing and stating that nothing lies beyond consciousness (which is duality itself), tells me that that is but a wishful thinking. How logical is it to claim that some un-conceptualizable thing lies beyond conceptualizations. The, not the eternal Tao... not the eternal name... thing.


There is only division, duality. The infinite/nondual is a mere dualistic fantasy of the dualistic mind in the dualistic world.

However, a step beyond that point of view and you reach: things are just exactly as they are.

My koan for today: What isn't reality?


Hmmm.... well.... was I saying anything essentially different?
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Postby Sapius » Tue Apr 10, 2007 10:01 pm

Nat,

we do not really disagree as much as you might think,


Yes, I know it from the beginning. Since the 'toilet brush' time. If you remember, the post where you posted a huge yin/yang symbol; did I not say that you don’t have to tell me that you have no attachments? What does that tell you?

However, the whole of existence is not a thing because there is nothing outside itself to distinguish it against. Therefore, it cannot be understood through thought.


However, this is what I am pointing to… Look at your sentence in bold, and tell me how does the ‘therefore' follow? You have already understood THAT piece of knowledge indicated in BOLD. Is THAT NOT an understanding itself? So, therefore…. there is no ‘therefore’ beyond that in my view.

“Therefore, it cannot be understood through thought.”


In other words; you already DID! End it NOW! That’s all that I am pointing to. There is literally nothing beyond THAT to understand. That understanding is exactly what leads to how you live IT, and that's my point.

So, saying that IT cannot be understood is not correct, but the essential part is, the realization of such an understanding once understood, should ramain permanantly, and hence one really chops wood and carries water.

Yes, we don’t need to engage in semantic hair-splitting, so I end this discussion here :)
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Postby Jason » Tue Apr 10, 2007 10:49 pm

Sapius wrote:Hmmm.... well.... was I saying anything essentially different?


No. I like to know other people get it too. I just felt like stating my agreement with you.

Maybe we can rule the world together....or something.
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Postby vicdan » Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:24 pm

Sapius wrote:Victor, I would like to express what I think is where you come from; that is, what is the crux of your over all understandings and realizations.

‘Nothing absolute can be said in any absolute sense, however, truths can be established, but truth itself is contingent, hence no true absolute-ness can be established.’

Do I read you correctly?
Yes; except that, to be strictly correct, I would not formulate it as an absolute assertion, but rather, when confronted with each assertion of absoluteness, I would show how it is incorrect. To use a math metaphor, my argument would be finitist (or a set of similar finitist arguments) rather than inductive.

Hence my use of specific examples in the interview -- Euclidean geometry, black holes, etc. Each time David claimed to have proven an absolute, I had shown how that specific sort of statement cannot be an absolute.
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:40 pm

Victor, do you believe that absolutely nothing can be absolute?
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Postby vicdan » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:05 am

Elizabeth Isabelle wrote:Victor, do you believe that absolutely nothing can be absolute?
Stop it with these sophomoric traps. See my response above. I have specifically addressed this point, OK?..
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:15 am

Well, you said you wouldn't formulate it as an absolute, which (of course) you would not be able to do without falling into the paradox, but then seemed to assert in a different way that nothing is absolute... Since you are not stating it as an absolute assertion, what do you think could be absolute?
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Postby vicdan » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:22 am

Elizabeth Isabelle wrote:Well, you said you wouldn't formulate it as an absolute, which (of course) you would not be able to do without falling into the paradox, but then seemed to assert in a different way that nothing is absolute... Since you are not stating it as an absolute assertion, what do you think could be absolute?
I don't need to give you any examples of 'absolute' in order to refuse to accept any specific claim of absoluteness; I merely have to successfully counter-argue the specific absoluteness claims, which I have done. If you are having trouble understanding my point, look up 'finitism' and the finitists' rejection of induction.

Pan, I get so tired of these oh-so-clever types who presume to trap me but can't work their way though a simple argument...
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Postby Jason » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:43 am

vicdan wrote:I don't need to give you any examples of 'absolute' in order to refuse to accept any specific claim of absoluteness; I merely have to successfully counter-argue the specific absoluteness claims, which I have done.


So does that always leave open the possibility that at some future date a specific claim of absoluteness may present itself that you will be unable to refute, and maybe even agree with?
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Postby Sapius » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:45 am

Jason wrote:
Sapius wrote:Hmmm.... well.... was I saying anything essentially different?


No. I like to know other people get it too. I just felt like stating my agreement with you.

Maybe we can rule the world together....or something.


Hahahhaa :D:D:D

When do we start!???

:D:D:D
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Postby vicdan » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:52 am

Jason wrote:So does that always leave open the possibility that at some future date a specific claim of absoluteness may present itself that you will be unable to refute, and maybe even agree with?
Indeed. Just as the possibility that I am really Alexander the Great, having time-traveled into the 21st century, remains open. Which is to say, we have no total certainty it won't happen, but don't hold your breath.
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:55 am

vicdan wrote:I get so tired of these oh-so-clever types who presume to trap me but can't work their way though a simple argument...


Dig yourself out of your defensiveness just long enough to understand that I am not attacking you or your position; I am just trying to get to the truth of the matter. If you can show me in a way that I can understand that nothing is absolute, then I will believe you. In fact, before you specifically addressed that point, I thought that I agreed with you - but your clarification caused me to consider that perhaps what I was agreeing with was not your actual position.

What I thought I was agreeing with before was that it is always possible that we could be wrong due to erroneous or missing information. That is quite different from circumnavigatingly saying that nothing is absolute.

vicdan wrote:I don't need to give you any examples of 'absolute' in order to refuse to accept any specific claim of absoluteness; I merely have to successfully counter-argue the specific absoluteness claims,


Okay, going with this definition of absolute, counter-argue that nothing is absolute.
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Postby Sapius » Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:03 am

Victor,

S: ‘Nothing absolute can be said in any absolute sense, however, truths can be established, but truth itself is contingent, hence no true absolute-ness can be established.’

V: Yes; except that, to be strictly correct, I would not formulate it as an absolute assertion, but rather, when confronted with each assertion of absoluteness, I would show how it is incorrect.


Well, firstly I don’t think anybody is out to trap you as such, but simply wants to understand your position. For example, considering your educational background my IQ would be somewhere around the negative side of the scale. :D

However, jokes aside;

Given all conditions, wouldn’t a certain conclusion be undeniably true? I do know that that would depend on conditions, hence is not an absolute, but isn’t it undeniably true given certain conditions?
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Postby Jason » Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:04 am

Sapius wrote:When do we start!???


When I say the code word. ;)
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Postby Jason » Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:19 am

vicdan wrote:Indeed. Just as the possibility that I am really Alexander the Great, having time-traveled into the 21st century, remains open. Which is to say, we have no total certainty it won't happen, but don't hold your breath.


Are you implying that you have somehow calculated/derived the probability that a correct absolute claim could exist? If so, what method/evidence etc did you use?
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Postby vicdan » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:21 am

Elizabeth Isabelle wrote:Dig yourself out of your defensiveness just long enough to understand that I am not attacking you or your position; I am just trying to get to the truth of the matter.
It's not defensiveness, it's frustration. If you were interested in getting to the truth of the matter, you would have gotten to it by listening to the interview and even reading my replies in this thread. Instead, you obviously already have a goal in mind, and now you are looking for ways to reach it.

If you can show me in a way that I can understand that nothing is absolute, then I will believe you. In fact, before you specifically addressed that point, I thought that I agreed with you - but your clarification caused me to consider that perhaps what I was agreeing with was not your actual position.

What I thought I was agreeing with before was that it is always possible that we could be wrong due to erroneous or missing information. That is quite different from circumnavigatingly saying that nothing is absolute.
Not as different as you might think; the point being that, as far as we can tell, no information state can be known with certainty to be correctly and exhaustively reflective of reality -- proving such perfect correspondence between reality and its presentation is at least as hard as actually addressing your query itself (no, it's not an absolute claim, I merely show how such absolutism-construction methods fail en masse, by pre-emptively pointing out the fallacy of begging the question that such methods rely on). Which is to say, solving the problem of imperfect representation requires as a prerequisite being free of imperfect representation; a canonical catch-22.

If you have in mind a method of constructing absolute claims from empirical data which do not rely on presupposing other absolute claims, by all means present it. Otherwise, STFU.

Okay, going with this definition of absolute, counter-argue that nothing is absolute.
I already laid out the argument in the interview, which is basically a simplified rehash of Quine's argument from 'Two dogmas of empiricism'. If you are really interested in understanding the issue, read Quine's paper; however, I would bet dollars to donuts that actually understanding the topic is the one thing you are least interested in.
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Postby vicdan » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:31 am

Sapius wrote:Well, firstly I don’t think anybody is out to trap you as such, but simply wants to understand your position.
I can tell the difference betwen those who are looking to understand, and those to are looking for a gotcha, thanks.

Given all conditions, wouldn’t a certain conclusion be undeniably true? I do know that that would depend on conditions, hence is not an absolute, but isn’t it undeniably true given certain conditions?
As i argued in the show, being undeniable doesn't equal being true. Euclid's 5th axiom, the parellel postulate (yes, I looked up the name of it) was undeniable for 2 millenia, and yet it was false -- just an arbitrary delineator of different geometries.

I can give you metric boatloads of undeniable claims; but proving that a given claim is true is quite different from being unable to think of a way to deny it. What you are employing is a sort of commonsensical version of modus tollens, except that instead of ending up demonstrating your conclusion by showing the logical impossibility of its binary negation, as you would in modus tollens, you show nothing more than intuitive implausibility of its binary negation -- e.g. the intuitive implausibility of the alternative versions of the 5th geometry axiom, the versions which give us Riemann/Lobachevsky geometries.

As it happens, the intuitively undeniable 5th axiom of Euclid was proven empirically false during the solar occlusion in 1919, in addition to having been proven to be logically arbitrary earlier.
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Postby vicdan » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:32 am

Jason wrote:Are you implying that you have somehow calculated/derived the probability that a correct absolute claim could exist?
No.
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