Re: CHAT: mass-hallucination?
|From:||william drewery <travis65610@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, June 21, 2005, 1:47|
I've noticed discussions like the following coming up from time to time on the
list. I'm thinking of making an email-list dedicated to civil philosophical
debate, and was wondering if anyone here would be interested. Is there already
one in existence? If not, then let's do it.
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote:
On Sunday, June 19, 2005, at 08:36 , Joe wrote:
> Ray Brown wrote:[snip]
>> Poor old Rene Descartes argued that since he was thinking all of this, he
>> must exist, or it would not be thought. Now you argue that something
>> have been feeding him something he interpreted as thought.
>> _By exactly the same argument_ something could be feeding you something
>> that you interpret as perception.
> If I don't exist, no-one's feeding me anything. What do you mean by
With respect, it was _you_ who introduced that notion. Let me quote you:
"Well, that really depends on how you define 'consciousness', here, but
the way I see it, since I'm percieving all of this, I must exist, or it
wouldn't be percieved."
_perception_ is the abstract noun corresponding to the verb _perceive_.
Also, it _you_ who have said:
"Something could be feeding us something that we interpret as thought... "
I am merely pointing out that whether you say 'sensing' or 'perceiving'
instead of 'thinking', *exactly the same counter-argument can be brought*.
>> The grammar is correct. But _sentio_ is rather strange in that you began
>> this thread by questioning my senses. Why is your _sentire_ to be trusted
>> more than mine?
> I'm not saying my senses are trustworthy. Simply that things are
> sensed, and there must be something to sense them.
I really do not see any significant difference between what you seem to be
saying and what Descartes wrote in his "Meditations on First Philosophy"
way back in the 17th century. OK - he concentrated on thinking whereas you
seem to be concentrating upon sensing or perceiving.
But the argument is surely essentially the same: "If I am thinking/
sensing/ perceiving, is it possible for me to doubt that I exist?"
>>> I don't know about 'individual'. I've seen it suggested that it it's
>>> just one part of a greater consciousness.I replied:
>> Hitherto you appear to have been certain enough about yourself since you
>> have stated:
>> "A consciousness (namely, me) exists." (16th June)
>> "since I'm percieving all of this, I must exist...." (18th June)
>> Both _me_ and _I_ are first person *singular*
>> It is true it has been suggested that all is part of one greater
>> consciousness; if it is true, than then the _me_ in your statement above
>> "But if there is a 'me', as far as I see it, there is a consciousness" is
>> pure illusion.
>>To which you replied:
> Well, the thing is, I can't prove the existence of anything further than
Sorry, but _I_ is an individual. That is why it called _first person
singular_. Yet above you say you are not certain about 'individual'.
> There may well be innumerable things beyond that, but they're
But if you (and presumably these other things) are part of a greater
consciousness, does this not imply that a separate _I_ is an illusion?
> If I don't exist, then nothing exists to percieve what I
But why does not the greater consciousness exist?
> But it is percieved, so I exist. If you want, of course, you
> can substitute me for you, since I'm reasonably certain that you believe
> yourself to exist.
As it happens, I believe that 'I AM WHO AM' (Exodus 3, 14) is the only
self-existent being - all else takes its existence from Him.
But _belief_ is often founded on assumptions which appear to make more
sense of things than other suggested ideas.
I am not saying - and have not been saying - that I do not believe that
neither you nor I have some sort of existence. What I have been saying is
that "But it is percieved, so I exist" is an _assumption_ and not an axiom
in the mathematical sense.
Descartes wished to bring to philosophy the same certainty as he discerned
in mathematics. His fist meditation begins by attempting to doubt all
claims. In his second meditation he he come to regard it as axiomatic that
he exists, because there must be a _he_ that is doing this thinking. (And
substituting sensing or perceiving is IMO no better)
So everyone was convinced by Descartes' reasoning? Well, no. Three
centuries later Bertrand Russell was still able to write:
"Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no
reasonable man could doubt it? This question, which at first sight might
not seem difficult, is really one of the most difficult that can be asked?
When we have realized the obstacles in the way of a straightforward and
confident answer, we shall be well launched on the study of philosophy..."
[The Problems of Philosophy, 1912]
These words are IMO still true.
"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760
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