Can our imagination concieve of something that doesn't exist?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wynn, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Can our imagination conceive of something that doesn't exist?

    Can our imagination concieve of something that doesn't exist?


    Please discuss.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
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  3. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

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    A two dimensional square area completely covered in circles that do not overlap.
     
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    You're not conceiving that, you just uttered a sentence about it.
     
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  7. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

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    How do you know?
     
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    It's easier than that YYP: Jan's claim was that we, as humans, have never imagined anything that we haven't previously observed existing in nature.

    Gas turbine.
    Noodles.
    Gears.
    Chain drive. (In fact most mechanisms that use a rotary motion).
    Radio.
    Radar.
     
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    You can conceive of illogical things?
     
  10. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

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    Maybe you should define conceive for this thread, so we don't misunderstand eachother. English is my second language after all.
     
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It's not like people in the Stone Age invented those things.
     
  12. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

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    so what?
     
  13. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Noodles they probably did. (Well a long time ago anyway, before even my granddad was born!).

    But yeah.
    Neither did they (or we) observe them in nature.
     
  14. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, unless you define "to exist" as including ideas.

    Then no, as the act of imagining it makes it "exist".

    Not much point to the term in that sense.

    Generally I think people use "x exists" to indicate something that can be convincingly demonstrated as "actual" or perhaps "doubtless" to any reasonable observer. Relationships for example though, offer a common exception that can lead to careless usage or confusion over the intended meaning invoked by using the term.
     
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    "Nature" is such a vague term.

    Is this nature -

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    -?

    I contend that humans cannot really invent anything. It just seems like they do, if we limit our scope in time and space to a section short and small enough for something to seem extraordinary.

    Seen from an evolutionary perspective, there are direct and indirect predecessors to everything that seems like an invention.

    Stone Age people probably couldn't have invented the radar, but by the 20th century, there existed enough technology to make it possible.
     
  16. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

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    did that technology get there by itself?
     
  17. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

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    Anyway I don't really understand why you try to make this case. It seems like a lost cause. Of course we can invent stuff. That's what we do. From the wheel to the spaceship.
     
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Yes - a perfect circle. It exists in maths but that is merely the conception: the perfect circle does not exist in reality.
     
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Obviously, the point is that simpler-seeming technology can give rise to a more complex-seeming technology.

    True invention would be one that does not rely on any previous technology, resources or ideology. Which doesn't happen.
     
  20. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

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    So you're saying that because cavemen didn't invent the iphone man cannot invent something?

    It's nonsense.
     
  21. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Furthermore, Star Trek was always coming up with many ideas that simply don't exist... antimatter containment fields, Heisenberg Compensators, Transporter Beams, tractor beams etc.
     
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    And all those things can be directly or indirectly tracked back to everyday things, just that they were arranged in such a manner that they gave rise to something seeimgly outlandish.

    All ideas/portraits of aliens that we find in sci-fi are made up of things we already know. There are no ideas/portraits of aliens that would look truly alien (ie.unrecognizable to us).
     
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Then the OP is misworded and misleading if your purpose is to ask if we can conceive something that is not based on some prior conception.
    As it stands you have merely asked if it is possible to conceive of things that do not exist. Examples have been given. You are then negating them for failing to fulfil criteria that you have not actually provided.

    Further, you have not yet responded on the concept of the perfect circle, that can be mathematically conceived yet does not exist.
     

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