Objective truth - from a Buddhist perspective #01

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Quantum Quack, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    Disease is doing just fine Swivel... at least he/ she is prepared to learn something....
     
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  3. Konchog Registered Member

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    Are you still interested discussing, albeit it's eight years since you wrote your original post?

    I am a Buddhist of 30 years – with some basic understanding of the issues that you raise, from within the tradition that I follow. I cannot speak for all Buddhists - as Islam's Mohammed says, "There are as many paths to God as there are human breaths" - and I think this could be said of any tradition that has covered a third of the world's surface and lasted over 2,500 years.

    I am not really sure if you are interested in 'what Buddhists say' about 'Objective truth' - but TL;DR: is (a) a lot. and (b) there isn't one and in conclusion (c) Buddhism isn't merely non-essentialist, it's anti-essentialist.

    'the possibility of observing an objective truth is very unlikely due to, as the Buddhists would say in their cryptic way, the discursive nature of the mind.'
    Response: This implies that that non-discursive mind is able to observe objective truth as you qualify an attribute of the mind (it's discursivity) as being the cause of the unlikelihood of observing objective truth. Yet you already fall into an 'object/subject' dichotomy within the context of an 'observer/observed' relationship. Buddhists hold that it is not merely unlikely to perceive an objective truth - it is actually impossible, because Buddhists assert the absence of an objective truth. Your presumption; that there may be an objective truth to be perceived, regardless of the mind and it's qualities; is something that Buddhists cannot agree to. For Buddhists the question remains begging: were it to be perceived, what would an objective truth look like, and how would it function?

    '(Buddhists) are saying that is is the nature of the mind to assess and analyze what it perceives and in doing so apply reductional- istic techniques thus reducing the whole to suit the pre-existing minds paradigm or world view'
    Response: It appears that you now suggest that the Buddhists consider discriminating awareness (i.e. Buddhist's term for 'assessment and analysis') to be the cause of obscuring 'the truth' due to pre-existing mental paradigms. If all we (mental, or sentient, beings) were able to do is to see things according to our pre-existing paradigms then it follows we would be die with the same paradigms that we were born with.

    'That absolute objective truth is unavailable to our perception'
    Response: Although Buddhists do say that, the reasons for saying that are completely different from your reasoning, so actually there is no correlate as you assume. It is easy enough to demonstrate this. You accept that there is an absolute objective truth 'beyond perception', whereas Buddhists do not. Buddhists are not transcendentalists, and also do not assert the existence of Kantian noumena.

    'this is due to our desire to apply reductional techniques'
    Response: This is not the case for Buddhists; it could not be, because the entity (an absolute truth) that is unavailable is absent. It appears you have the cart before the horse. We believe that it is our innate ignorance (or, if you prefer, neurosis) which presents the illusion of absolute objective truth which lies at the cause of our problems. We do not consider either discriminating awareness or discursivity to be the cause of misery.

    'To find "meaning" that makes sense to us and is compatible with our pre-existing world view'
    Response: Buddhists do not have any objection to either: finding meaning in the world or: the development and use of conventional weltanschauung (or 'collaborative word-games', or 'edifying narratives').

    "We know that perfection is nonexistent yet we strive our hardest to achieve it."

    Response: Buddhists do not conflate 'perfection' with 'objective truth'. Buddhists believe in perfection, especially via the path to Buddhahood (or Arhatship). The 'perfection' of Buddhists is also known as a cessation - specifically the cessation of suffering from the mental continuum. This is third of the four noble truths.

    "In the Buddhist and other Yogic style ideologies removing ego [ aka desire ] one has the potential to "see" your self in a reality that actually exists and not as a dream like subjective creation generated by the distortions that desire [ suffering] create."
    Response: In Buddhism (I cannot talk of 'other Yogic style ideologies - what is a 'Yogic style ideology'?) ego is not conflated with desire. So there are two possibilities - removing ego produces a potential to 'see' one's self (etc)... or removing desire produces a potential to 'see' one's self (etc)...
    • In Buddhism removing ego (the sense of self) is deleterious to the human condition, and similar to views held in psychiatry, tends to lead to a destructive and narcissicistic mental state.
    • Removing desire is deleterious in that desires for e.g. enlightenment (or to benefit others, or to improve ones-self) is clearly a beneficial quality of mind.
    Instead, Buddhism is advocates eliminating narcissism (and narcissistic rage), but it is more interested in eliminating ignorance. Ignorance of the nature of the way things are (primarily that all phenomena lack inherent existence, or objective existence, or independent existence or any other form of essentialism; but likewise that phenomena do exist - Buddhists are not nihilists).

    "Within the Buddhist position it is held that to do so one would cease to exist and become one with that reality [...] whilst "living" means to become entirely passive to your environment [ in the extreme ] whilst awake and active."
    Response: Buddhist liberation does not cause a person to cease to exist. A mother still recognises her son. Buddha still ate and shat and breathed.

    "only when one is entirely passive to themselves and the environment that one becomes one with that environment and not in competition with that environment."
    Response: This is not Buddhist. Regardless, the notion (that passivity is non-competitive) is unfounded. Proof: Not acting to prevent harm being caused to a competitor is a competitive strategy.

    (You have a story about a tree which reminds me of Wittgenstein's explanation to a surprised passer-by: 'We are doing philosophy')
    " I see what I see !!" .

    Response: I don't know what tradition this story comes from, but the tautology: 'I see what I see' is not of much value to Buddhists.

    "in Buddhist thought absolute truth is available but near impossible"
    Response: No, in Buddhist thought, absolute truth is unavailable because it is a non-existent. (ie, it belongs the same realm of impossible things, such as an immovable object).

    In essence Buddhism can be considered as another manifestation of the "god complex" that seems to haunt humanity. [ a whole philosophy built on the ambition of becoming God - oneness with creation]
    Response: No, Buddhism is a response to suffering and it's cause. Buddha claims that there is a path to the permanent cessation of suffering from your mind-stream. The Greeks (and Judao-Christian traditions) asked how can a loving god cause us to endlessly suffer? Buddha tells us that we are responsible for suffering and it is up to us to do something about it.

    There is a lot more to be said about this, if you are interested.
    You appear to be really interested in some big questions, and I thought maybe you would like to come back to some of them.

    A really good place to start would be to examine essentialism and how it lies at the heart of so much Western philosophy thanks mainly (but not totally so) to Plato. It's amazing, but by eliminating essentialism, many philosophical paradoxes (such as Theseus' ship, or Sorites, or Epimenides, Mathematical (eg Russel's), and Motion (Zeno/Aristotle) paradoxes), cease to be paradoxical or even interesting. Buddhism is, at it's root, anti-philosophical but it often manifests as being philosophical in order to demonstrate it's anti-philosophical position. For quite some time, one of the mysteries within the early Buddhist tradition was how to equate causality with anti-essentialism. Then an amazing guy (called Nagarjuna) came along in around 100CE who demonstrated (rather tersely, and so was often misinterpreted) that however counter-intuitive it seems at first, causality demonstrates the lack of essence rather than implies it. About 600 years later a student of his (Candrakirti) wrote far more extensively and verbosely on the matter, and cleared up many obscure points. It wasn't really until the 20th Century that western philosophy began to catch up with the idea of dropping essentialism for the bad egg that it is, and yet in the languages of mathematics (and it's dependant branches such as physics), essentialism is 'a given'. It is not that they are wrong, but that we understand mathematics to be merely a 'word-game', or an 'edifying narrative', or a series of 'conventions' rather than objective truths.

    Buddhism says that it is our innate essentialism which gets us 'buying into' ideas that cause us endless trouble, which leads us to consider that “looking out for number one” is both legitimate and beneficial. It's not whether or not we exist (we definitely exist) but that the way we imagine we exist is way over-burdened with beliefs of objectivity and truth.
     
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  5. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    Konchog

    Thank you for such a significant posting. It does deserve a proper response and I am not at all confident that I am in a "space" that would do the discussion credit. A lot has transpired in 8 years. Perhaps later

    Welcome to sciforums! btw..
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
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  7. Konchog Registered Member

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    Of course! However, if at any time you wish to persue such thoughts again, maybe we can resume (or generate) a fresh dialogue that could be mutually rewarding.

    Wishing you well.
     
  8. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    It is extremely difficult to know where to begin, knowing that language , semantics, context, definition are often unknown variables.

    I shall throw something on the table for you to consider regarding my thoughts on this issue of objective truth, Buddhism etc...
    Years ago I realized that the only objective truth is indeed non-existent.

    Now thinking deeper...

    Preamble:
    (and controversial contentions)
    • The only "thing" (concept) that can be logically stated as being absolutely true, must be immutable, unchanging, eternal, universally constant and not able to be influenced or subject to influence.
    • The only "thing" (concept) in this entire universe that could possibly conform to the rigorous requirements that need to be fulfilled to be considered a candidate for absolute truth is between these brackets ( ) or in more precise terms non-existent(ce)

    • If non-existence can be defined as zero dimensional, in that it has no spatial dimensions, no length, width or depth, nor does it have time duration or passage. I believe one could logically surmise that this zero dimensional space is non-exstent.
    So now to support the notion that objective and absolute truth IS this zero dimensional space one has to prove that it "exists" but one can only do so by default of everything else "existing".
    Essentially Buddhism is well founded is stating that objective and absolute truth is non-existent. IMO
    If one can "behold" non-existence then one is beholding all existence. ( by default)

    However there's a twist...

    (more controversy)
    Mathematically and in Physics one can demonstrate the existence of non-existence by making use of a sphere with a diameter of 1/infinity ( infinitesimal) thought experiment.
    Using the rational that the smallest dimension possible is infinitesimal one can conclude that the inner volume of the sphere MUST be less that infinitesimal therefore nonexistent. However because the sphere is 3 dimensional the inner zero dimensional space must take up 3 dimensions. (because it has a diameter if 1/infinity)
    • So we have a rational for determining that zero dimensional space can indeed be present (due to 3 dimensions of the inner surface of the infinitesimal sphere), yet nonexistent simultaneously ( due to the fact that anything with dimensions less that infinitesimal is non-existent)
    ( I call this sphere an "Inverse Sphere" where everything is on the outside with no-thing on the inside)

    Accordingly this means that both non-existence and existence surprisingly co-exist ( from a 3 d perspective - which is all we have to perceive from)

    Another way to explain this issue is to start with the question:

    Can anything exist if no time is available for it to exist in?
    Or in more mathematical terms
    If delta t = 0 then d MUST =0
    (If time duration is zero then distance must equal zero.)
    Well ..when a person calls a given time say 10 am what are they doing ?
    They are marking a point in a time line that has zero duration.
    One could conclude that at precisely 10 am or any given time mark the universe is non-existent. ( it is only because time has duration that the universe "exists" ( in more common terms)

    How does this all relate to Buddhism?

    I believe that in the deeper realms of Buddhist practice and thought there is a fundamental understanding of the above. That by attempting to remove attachments and eventually succeeding a student can ultimately achieve a state of nirvana (Moksha) or ( oneness with the truth - everything - therefore liberation from Samsara)

    I am possibly incorrect in presuming that the liberation from Samsara (Achievement of Nirvana) is the primary goal of devoted Buddhists.
    Is so, I apologize in advance...

    Note:
    Your post has raised some interesting points and I will if I can, get back to them later...
    I just thought I'd give you something to chew on while I "get my act together"...
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
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  9. Konchog Registered Member

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    Hi QQ, great to hear from you.

    Just to be clear, my understanding is that neither of us is out to criticise, advocate, promote, or evangelise and it is within that context that we are engaging in this discussion. I trust that you feel the same.

    >It is extremely difficult to know where to begin, knowing that language, semantics, context, definition are often unknown variables.
    As you say, language and context are slippery. I think we need to do our best to define the terms we use, especially if/when they take centre-stage.

    >"Years ago I realized that [...] objective truth is indeed non-existent."
    Excellent – let's stay with that thought.

    >The only "thing" (concept) ...
    Before engaging further, can we agree to a term to cover "thing"/(concept)? The reason why is that we want to consider everything: Anything that could possibly exist regardless of whether or not it is even conceptually available (eg 'the unknowable'), or not-exist (such materially present dragons, elves, unicorns; physically impossible 'immovable objects','unstoppable forces'; etc etc ), including such 'things' as abstract entities (e.g. circles,π, the empty set Ø, noumena), the immaterial (vacuums) and anything/everything else.

    I suggest we use 'entity', and understand that by saying "an entity" we are not attributing anything to it, including it's existence or non-existence, and or even it's knowability.

    Paraphrasing your first statement:
    "An objectively true entity must be immutable, unchanging, eternal, universally constant and not able to be influenced or subject to influence".
    (Stop me if I am wrong) 'immutable' and 'unchanging' and 'universally constant' are synonyms of immutable, while "not able to be influenced" and "subject to influence" are synonyms of 'independent' - which gives:

    "An objectively true entity must be immutable, eternal, and independent".

    I believe that we can say more than that too:–

    • It must be both causeless and effectless (otherwise it is dependant upon causality, or allows for independent and therefore random spontaneous effects).
    • Likewise it must be undesignated: otherwise it depends upon being designated (ie, if it is merely a symbol or a word or a concept or a definition then it is not objectively true, being subject to designation).
    • Again it must also be unitary - otherwise it would not be an entity but multiple entities.
    • Finally it must also be partless - otherwise it would existing dependent upon it's parts.

    So (maybe you disagree):
    "An objectively true entity must be independent: immutable, eternal, uncausing, uncaused, undesignated, unitary and partless".

    Someone may ask: Why must an objectively true entity be independent?
    By definition it must remain true beyond any mental or physical fabrication. (Further thoughts on this would be helpful)

    Someone may ask: Okay, it's given that it must be independent - but why all the rest?
    All of the rest follows from being independent.

    • immutable - changing it is subject to momentary change and not independent of time
    • eternal - If it has a beginning or end then it is not independent of time.
    • uncausing - if it can cause then anything / everything can arise at any time (being independent of what it causes means that only random spontaneous effects are suitable)
    • uncaused - being caused it is not independent of it's causes.
    • undesignated - being a designation would make it dependent upon being designated
    • unitary - being a truth it must be one thing. Otherwise it would be multiple thing (and not a truth, but multiple, unconnected independent truths)
    • partless - if it had parts it would be dependent upon them.

    Where does that lead to?
    Clearly any physical entities are not suitable as they are neither immutable or eternal. Anything that belongs as a part of any language (such as words, symbols, abstracts, etc) are subject to (and dependent upon) the language that form them. This includes natural, abstract, informal and formal languages and languages used for simulation. Importantly this includes every language used within mathematics (including logics and physics). We recognise that truth (and truth value) is an abstract entity that belongs to some languages. Likewise the notion of existence (and it's opposite) are abstracts and therefore belong to language. This isn't merely semantics - and I do understand that, given a small set of rules, many consequences can be found to emerge from those rules. This, I believe, is an aspect of many 'language games'.

    So, for example, let's look at π

    • π is immutable and eternal √
    • π is uncausing and uncaused √
    • π is not undesignated, not unitary, and not partless x
      • π could just as well be expressed as 2τ. The reason that it is not is due to historic convention. π is also an abstract entity. It belongs to the languages that designate it. There are no external, 'objectively existent' instances of π.
      • π is likewise dependent upon a relationship between a circle and it's diameter.
      • π can be calculated in many ways, but in each of them it is some form of summation, so it has parts. The fact that it can be expressed as 2τ demonstrates that it is merely a (very useful) construct.
    It is important to recognise that not being objectively true does not negate usefulness or functionality

    >If non-existence can be defined as zero dimensional, [...] I believe one could logically surmise that this zero dimensional space is non-existent.
    I may have missed your point, but I think we need to be careful here in that we must be clear about the notion of mere absence and the 'existence' of absence.
    For example someone may say "We sell no cheese in this shop": and this could be interpreted to mean "We sell a type (or brand) of cheese called 'No' cheese (e.g. it's a specialist cheese shop)" - whereas the more common understanding is that "We sell no cheese of any sort in the shop (e.g. it's a book shop)".

    In Buddhism, it is with the latter sense that one talks about non-existence. I believe that essentialist languages often -do- have place-holders for 'non-existents' (for instance, the empty set ∅), and therefore they have a sort-of existence.

    >If one can "behold" non-existence then one is beholding all existence.
    I'm afraid you lose me here. Instead, imagine that there is no place for essential existence whatsoever; then what one is left with is the way things really are - dependent on causality, dependent on designation, dependent on composition. The benefit of seeing things as they are is that they lose their potency over us as objects to be grasped at. Imagine, if you will, that money (real money) suddenly revealed itself to society as clearly being as valueless and as meaningless as Monopoly™ money. Great for playing games, but absolutely valueless in it's own right. Or imagine that the beauty you hankered after for so many years was as vapid and insubstantial (and as narcissistic) as a photoshopped cover of any Vogue™ magazine.

    >Accordingly this means that both non-existence and existence surprisingly co-exist.
    Well, these may be some of the consequences of reductio ad absurdem that one would find within an essentialist language - also cf. Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. However non-essentialism doesn't detract from the usefulness of maths, it just doesn't expect maths to be consistent either. Maths is merely one (of many) language games, and even within Maths there are 'islands' that cannot meet, just as there are in physics.

    Also, we can definitely talk about abstracts as existing, but my understanding is that they only exist within a contextual framework. In other words, we don't want to denigrate the meaning of existence altogether - it has function and meaning within those conventions that assert it; however that is all it has and nothing more.

    >By attempting to remove attachments [...] a student can achieve a state of nirvana or ( oneness with the truth - everything - therefore liberation from Samsara)
    Sort of. Let me offer a tiny synopsis of the entire Buddhist path:
    Within Buddhism there are the 'four noble truths'; Truths of:
    1. pervasiveness of misery,
    2. a cause of the misery,
    3. the final elimination of misery (Nirvana),
    4. and the path to that elimination The path has three components (known as the three higher trainings):
      1. Ethics is used as the basis for establishing an unusually powerful concentration.
      2. Concentration provides the power to override our innate mistaken mind.
      3. Insight is the actual ability to see what the mistakes really are. Insight itself is made of three components:
        1. pervasiveness in all existents of dissatisfactoriness,
        2. pervasiveness in all existents of mutability, and
        3. pervasiveness in all existents of dependency. This is normally translated as 'emptiness' but would be better translated as 'absence' - specifically absence of essential existence.
    Buddhists believe that grasping onto essential existence is the root cause of suffering.
    We don't normally talk about 'oneness with the truth/everything'

    >I am possibly incorrect in presuming that Nirvana is the goal of Buddhists. Is so, I apologize in advance...
    That is not wrong but the scope changes according to tradition. For instance, in our tradition the scope covers the eliminating the suffering all beings not merely eliminating the suffering of the practitioner.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    Ahh! Finally a breath of fresh air...

    A couple of questions before proceeding, if I may?
    1/ When you refer to "Misery" ( re: 4 noble truths ) are you saying that Misery and Suffering are synonymous?
    If so why ?
    2/ Do you appreciate the argument ALL values, substance and existence are relative to "non-existence"

    Using the math symbol zero to denote non-existence
    eg. the quantity x,
    x=x because x - x = 0
    If x- x =/= 0 then x=/=x)

    or the only reason x = x is because if x is subtracted from x, x would be non-existent. ( axiomatic?)
    ====
    The issue of a non-existent or absentee entity being given a value.
    This is and will be, until addressed, a major sticking point. IMO

    One method I used to aid in addressing this vexation is :
    If we look at what is referred to as the center of gravity (COG) or more correctly the center of mass.
    We can state quite clearly that that center is real and present ( as demonstrated by the objects behavior ) however the general location of the COG can only be determined by applying "Reductio Ad Absurdum" and ultimately can never be actually found because it is a zero dimensional point and ultimately falls into the imaginary category. Imaginary and real simultaneously.
    In essence, this means that non-existence ( the zero balance point (COG) in 3 dimensional space) is clearly evident but impossible to determine absolutely.

    Summary to clarify:

    Your contention:
    That "non-existence" is merely an abstraction similar to a "flying pig" ( purely imaginary - in common context)
    My contention:
    That "non-existence" is actual and real and probably the most influential entity in this 4d universe of substance and can be proven so, but only by default.

    re: The objective truth (using the x example):

    The objective truth of x is only available when x-x=0
    If x-x does not equal zero then the objective truth of x is unavailable. ( it would be an unknowable or at the least, a subjective variable)
    or extended:
    If the (universe - universe) does not equal "non-existence" then the objective truth of the universe is unavailable.
    BUT...
    because the universe when subtracted from itself does equal non-existence, objective truth of the universe's existence is available.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2016
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  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    This poses an interesting thought or two or three ( chuckle)
    The use of Pi:
    Test statement:
    Pi is a mathematical ( imaginary) construct used to describe a Physical phenomena.
    The number Pi is only our way of aiding in explaining to ourselves the nature of a sphere or circle or dare I say "curves" or "curvature".
    Thus whilst Pi is non-existent, except as a construct, the phenomena being described is real.

    A "flying pig" is an imaginary construct that we use to describe.... ( "free will" comes to mind) and so on...


    Just as an aside:
    You are raising a plethora of interesting discussion points in your posts, unfortunately, due to the limiting nature of "forum posting" most will have to wait and be readdressed at some time in the future.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2016
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  12. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    just to indicate where I am at.. a "tongue in cheek" image that was part of the start of my Zero Point journey years ago. ~2006 ish'

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
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  13. Konchog Registered Member

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    Sorry for the delay - Tuesday through Thursday are my work-days and there is little time.

    >Are you saying that Misery and Suffering are synonymous?
    In this context, yes. Although the terms are slightly technical, let's come back to the meaning of Dukkha at another time, if you will.



    >Do you appreciate the argument ALL values, substance and existence are relative to "non-existence"
    I am not 100% sure I get what you are asking; however I accept that the 'existence'/'non-existence' dichotomy is a useful construct within those narratives/conventions that accept it; so, within those narratives I agree there is a relationship between them.


    >Using the math symbol zero to denote non-existence...
    Let's be clear here: I am not sure that I can accept that absence is synonymous with non-existence.

    You use an interpretation of X-X=0 as a demonstration of thesis. Yet my understanding of number is that they typically represent an abstraction of a count of instances- eg 3 apples. So, eg, if we substitute x for 1 Apple, X-X merely represents an absence of apples, not a non-existence of them. Also your proposition leads to the assumption of negative existence as something distinct from non-existence which would require a redefinition of the term 'existence'

    Maybe predicate logic may be more appropriate here? Although there is an existence assertion ( there exists an x such that x=0), I'm not sure that helps us either, but if we assigned the truth value as representing existence, we would have the basis of representing a notional dichotomy; then we can say N = ~E

    >>the notion of mere absence vs. the 'existence' of absence.
    >This is and will be, until addressed, a major sticking point.

    Excellent - so there is a basis for our investigation!

    >We can state quite clearly that that (COG) is real and present
    I accept that, on the understanding that being 'real' isn't assuming it has any objective truth whatsoever. It is only real in the sense that it does not conflict with those conventions that assert it. It is 'a' truth, but that is all.

    >however the general location of the COG can only be determined by applying "Reductio Ad Absurdum".
    I can think of examples where your assertion is false. For instance, the COG of a (mathematical) sphere of uniform ideal mass is at it's centre.

    >a zero dimensional point
    Am I wrong? Aren't all points zero dimensional?

    >and falls into the imaginary category.
    On the basis of having no dimensions? Are you suggesting that maths/physics represent an abstract simulation of the experiential world? If so, I agree - maths is set of problem-solving languages.

    >Imaginary and real simultaneously
    Real within the maths, not imaginary but only approximately locatable in the experiential world (due to Heisenberg uncertainty we end up unable to locate anything absolutely, right?)
    Or are you saying that points don't exist in the real world, and that they are mere mathematical abstractions? ( where simulation and simulated diverge) - I accept that.

    >In essence, this means that non-existence ( the zero balance point (COG) in 3 dimensional space) is clearly evident but impossible to determine absolutely.
    I don't see it that way. I think you are looking at an effect (the behaviours of cogs) to assert an objective (essentially real, or independently appearing) truth but we formerly agreed that there aren't any of those.

    Maybe you are examining a grey area between two language games (maths and engineering) and having found an entity (points) that exist in one language but cannot exist in the other, you are attempting to modify the notion of existence rather than recognising the limitations of language games. There are many instances of things that exist in one convention but do not exist elsewhere. This demonstrates that the notion of existence itself is merely a language element...
     
  14. Konchog Registered Member

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    Well, I wouldn't call PI 'imaginary', but I would call it an 'existent' within the context of mathematics. However, while some mathematicians may consider it to be objectively real, I can refute that.

    >The number Pi is only our way of aiding in explaining to ourselves the nature of a sphere or circle or dare I say "curves" or "curvature".
    No, it is just one way. I mention Tau as an alternative equivalent.

    >Thus whilst Pi is non-existent, except as a construct, the phenomena being described is real.
    Okay so I say the opposite to you: Pi exists as a functional constant within mathematics - both as signifiers (the word Pi, and it's symbol) and as a significand (3.1415....) (or, if you will the 'phenomenon'). But it doesn't exist objectively beyond the languages that designate it. Pi is not of the material universe, for the same reasons that points are not. Pi depends upon designation so it exists, but not independently (or inherently, or essentially) so. This line of argument is consistent with other non-essentialists such as Wittgenstein and the pragmatists. Mathematicians tend to balk at non-essentialism because they are brought up on the (essentialist) Greeks and their students (Newton, Descartes, etc).

    Here is the refutation: Imagine a means of storing numbers in the most efficient manner possible. Let us imagine that we are able to store a billion digits with a single quark. There are more digits in PI than can be stored using every quark in the universe. Therefore Pi is only an abstract and exists only as an abstract. Abstracts are dependent upon the languages/conventions that abstract them.
     
  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    I am not suggesting that you do. In fact quite the contrary. All arguments have to stand up to rigorous investigation and "open mindedness" is very much needed.
    Personally I do not believe at this point that absence is synonymous with non-existence...it may be very close though.

    I have found when entering into discussions on the "real" nature of reality that one has to consider that we are ( when conscious and awake) already trapped in a 4d "realm" attempting to declare that trap as unreal.
    So would not the first starting premise be to grant a degree of reality to what we are trapped in?
    This may seem like a trivial point but context is extremely important.
    For example:
    I shall create an objective universe ( context )
    I have a photo
    It has a single apple displayed on it.
    In the photo (context) the apple is real and evident ( as an image)
    I remove the apple and take another photo. ( photo 2 )
    In the photo (context) the apple is both absent and non-existent.
    BUT
    Only because of the first photo. For if the first photo was not taken and noted the second photo would have no context to conclude anything.
    (Perhaps the above is bordering on exploring the difference between "absence " and "non-existence"?)

    No.. It appears that I have not conveyed my thoughts properly.

    Context:
    I have presumed the initial existence of what appears to be an apple. But to "prove" it's degree of objective truth with in that presumption, one only needs to subtract the apple from itself and explore what ever remains after doing so.

    If we subtract an apple from itself and find "pear juice" left over we can say that what we thought was an apple was not objectively an apple...yes?

    What we mistakenly thought was an apple, turns out to be an apple with pear juice.

    Using x
    x can be shown to be objectively x only if x is subtracted from x and we achieve zero.

    IF
    x - x was to yield y then the initial x is subjective and can not actually be x but x+y.
    thus:
    (x+y) - x = y

    Lets be more succinct.
    the example number
    10.987

    The number is only objectively true if it passes the self subtraction test.
    10.987 - 10.987 = 0
    IF
    10.987 - 10.987= 0.000001
    then the initial number 10.987 is not objectively true to itself.

    I do realize that my point may be controversial.
    However I find the logic too compelling and axiomatic to place it aside, just because it is seen as controversial.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,527
    Unfortunately I again have failed to convey the main thrust of my point.
    Of course from a material sense the number Pi is indeed a mathematical reality, but then what is mathematics other than an imaginary or virtual mental construction that has significant utility?

    My point though was that IMO most mathematics only seeks to emulate observed phenomena. It has been observed that the constructed number Pi provides us with an abstraction of what is physically present and observed. Tested countless times etc.

    Also it is worth noting that what Pi actually represents is an infinite reduced resolution of a curve. That is to say that the number Pi is an attempt at demonstrating the impossibility of finding that elusive zero point on a circle, sphere or anything that has curvature present. (in 2, 3 or 4d space)
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  17. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,527
    This post is puzzling to me...
    I have so far attempted to prove that
    yet you state that we have formally agreed to the contrary...
    Perhaps this posting of mine is what has confused the issue:
    However I went on to qualify it by suggesting that the so called non-existent (-E) (using zero) does indeed exist and can be logically proven to do so by use of a 3d inverse sphere, and alternatively the exact COG of any given object of material substance.

    If I had agreed, as you suggest, then this discussion would not be happening at all.

    Summary of my position:
    The objective truth is "Non-existent" yet we can show that both non-existence and existence surprisingly co-exist ( from a 3 d context )
    see examples: inverse sphere and COG

    So therefore I would conclude that objective truth, is indeed, fundamentally available.

    I am not seeking agreement. I am only attempting to convey an understanding to create a premise towards future discussion.

    re: center of circle,
    We have to accept that a 3d sphere has a center, yet the ability to exactly determine that center is impossible, because it is a zero point that doesn't materially exist.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  18. Konchog Registered Member

    Messages:
    8
    >So would not the first starting premise be to grant a degree of reality to what we are trapped in?
    I believe that the world is neither non-existent nor illusory. I believe that is real and existent. However it is like an illusion because we see entities in a way that they are not - we give them an essence/inherence/independence that they do not have.

    >Perhaps the above [apple photo experiment] is bordering on exploring the difference between "absence " and "non-existence"?
    Interesting. It demonstrates that absence requires a context (some form of corresponding presence).
    Following from that maybe we can resolve the relationship between absence and non-existence as follows:
    Statement 'S': "The (former) apple is (now) absent from the table"
    1. S does not assert existence apple (the apple may have been eaten and so no longer exists).
    2. S does not assert non-existence of the apple. (the apple may have been put in the fridge).
    3. S does assert (the present) non-existence of the apple on the table.

    So there is a relationship with absence and existence. But an entity's existence must qualified with respect to the scope of it's absence.

    >To "prove" (an entity's) degree of objective truth one only needs to subtract it from itself and explore whatever remains after doing so. If we subtract an apple from itself and find "pear juice" left over we can say that what we thought was an apple was not objectively an apple...yes?

    Okay as I see it this argument is a conflation of objective existence with existence. Let me rephrase your position:

    A valid perception of an entity can be demonstrated by subtracting it from itself and exploring whatever remains after doing so. If we subtract an apple from itself and find "pear juice" left over we can say that what we thought was an apple was not an apple, but an apple with pear juice

    This I can accept. The experiment demonstrates valid perception but does not demonstrate objective existence.

    However it has a weakness still: How am I to determine, through subtraction alone, the object of my perception? Eg: I see a (mistaken) apple (actually apple-n-juice). The apple that I am able to take away is likewise a mistaken apple: the same apple-n-juice, so I now believe that I have proven that my 'apple' is indeed an apple. If I was able to see the actual apple to take away, I would not have the misperception of the apple-n-juice in the first place.

    Using x, x can be shown to be objectively x only if x is subtracted from x and we achieve zero.
    The word 'objectively' is an erroneous insertion here. From your position one could no longer do arithmetic on unicorns. (If you believe unicorns objectively exist then choose something that does not)!

    >A number is only objectively true if it passes the self subtraction test.
    I believe you argue well for the exact counter-thesis via a reductio!
    1. Let us accept that if an entity is objectively true then it is unitary.
    1. If it was non-unitary then we must decide if:
    1. It is not one objective truth but many. But then it (as a single objective truth) is no longer present.
    2. There is something beyond its components which makes it a unitary and objective truth.
    X is a number. If you subtract it from itself nothing remains so it is objective.
    0.5 is objectively true because 0.5-0.5=0
    Likewise 0 and 1 are objectively true for the same reason.
    If I have two 0.5 then there are exactly two entities.
    0.5 + 0.5 cannot equal 1 because there are two entities on the left side of the equation, and only one entity on the right side of the equation.
    0.5 - 0.5 (the objective removal of 0.5) likewise cannot equal 0 because 0 is an entity and the two 0.5 entities have eliminated themselves, unless they have left something behind!
    The problem with what is left behind is that it isn't the objective truth of the subtracted number, because the original number cannot be derived from it. Actually we only have zero which is it's own object.
    Therefore (although it's not well constructed) the reductio here shows that numbers cannot be objectively true.
     
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,527
    Just to clarify,
    Are you suggesting with the above, that whilst "reality" has an objective existence ( of some sort) it is only subjectively able to be perceived?
    If so I totally agree!
    According to Buddhist thought, in your opinion, why would....
    What is it about us that distorts objectivity into subjectivity according to Buddhist thought?
    Extended:
    What is it about us that distorts "true" into "false" according to Buddhist thought?
     
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  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,527
    One significant question that came to mind over night was to ask:
    Does Buddhist thought, in your opinion, hold to the notion of a collective consciousness, awareness etc...?

    The reason why I ask this is because I believe, for objectivity (Objective truth) to exist collective consciousness (Awareness) must be actual and functioning at all times..
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
  21. Konchog Registered Member

    Messages:
    8
    No, Buddhism does not say this. But that does not make Buddhism idealist. Why? Because while 'reality' exists, and the 'external world' exists, the one thing it lacks is any scrap of objective existence. This may be hard to grasp, because (and I may be wrong) for you the idea is that if something exists in the world then it objectively exists in the world, which, from Buddhism's point of view is the dilemma of essentialism.

    The distortion is holding onto the idea of that 'existent entities' exist objectively; whereas they exist, but not objectively.

    Same again: We mistake a mere truth for being an objective truth. We imbue truths with an objectivity that they do not have.
     
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  22. Konchog Registered Member

    Messages:
    8
    (Let's not be under any illusions here. As I said in my first post, I cannot speak for all Buddhists. Let's just assume that whatever I say is just my opinion

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    .) In Buddhism there is a movement that does have a notion of a collective consciousness - it is called the Cittamatra or Yogacarya (who are idealists - they assert that there is no external world whatsoever), and they call it 'the mind-basis-of-all'. It's a decent methodology in it's own right, but I do not adhere to it. The arguments that I have been using here (and which I agree with) belong to another stream of Buddhism called Madhyamaka. I do not have a notion of a collective consciousness of any sort. Likewise, there are no objective truths.

    Hm. I'm wondering if we should possibly examine just exactly we are meaning by objective truth. I accept objectivity but I reject objective truth. For me, objectivity is "the ability to judge fairly, without partiality" whereas "objective existence" requires entities to have an 'essence' that does not depend on others, an intrinsic nature, an inherent 'stand-alone' quality .
     
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  23. Retribution Banned Banned

    Messages:
    200
    The ability to judge objectively springs from the ability to judge ones self objectively first. To understand ones own motives.

    Other than that, this is very interesting. Carry on.
     
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