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disillusioned last won the day on July 24

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About disillusioned

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    Holy Prophet of the FSM

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    Still trying to find my way, mostly making it up as I go along.
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    Chess, literature, science, philosophy, entertainment, food and drink.
  • More About Me
    "Using words to talk of words is like using a pencil to draw a picture of itself, on itself."
    ~Patrick Rothfuss~

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    I have looked deep into the sauce and cheese.

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  1. I thought it was worth mentioning, but it wasn't the point of my post. Clearly this escapes you.
  2. Nice job ignoring the rest of what I wrote. Literally the next sentence was "But leave that aside". You are either being completely disingenuous, or you're just bad at this.
  3. This is the essence of the epistemic vs ontological distinction I pointed to earlier. The way I see it, science is an epistemic description of ontologically objective entities. Systems of measurement allow us to express epistemically objective truths. They allow us to describe what is actually there, and to do useful work. But they are not themselves ontologically objective. When I say that I think the concept of time is the kind of thing that we just can't do without I'm not saying that I think time necessarily exists as such; I'm saying that we can't make much sense of anything without the assumption that it exists. So I think it has to exist epistemically, otherwise we can't do much of anything, but it doesn't have to exist ontologically. It is indeed a bit like money, except that we don't need the concept of money in the way that we need the concept of time.
  4. Yes, I understand all this. I think it's relatively straightforward. The problem is that this is a description of how we measure time, not a description of how time is generated. Yes, we can define one second in terms of cyclical atomic motion, but this assumes that time already exists. If one second is "the amount of time that X process takes to occur" then there must actually be an amount of time that X takes to occur. We can't obtain time in this way, only measure it. But the idea of change also relies on the notion of time. Unless there is time, nothing can change. I think the concept of time is just something that we're stuck with whether we like it or not. Attempts to describe how time is generated seem to fall into circularity. Time is "something that a clock measures", but what is a clock save for "a device that measures time"?
  5. This is becoming a bit murky, in my opinion. Terms like "finite", "duration", "cyclical", "beginning", "end" , etcetera are all inextricably linked to conceptions of time. It boots nothing, as far as I can see, to go on about how time reduces to cyclical motion of particles (or whatever), because cyclical implies that at some time there will be repetition. For that matter, repetition itself requires an implicit reliance on some sort of conception of time. I say this in spite of the fact that I tend to agree that time is inherently a part of space, the universe, matter, what have you. But having said that, we need to be careful that we don't just throw words around to no actual effect. Perhaps we lack the vocabulary to discuss these ideas properly. I tend to think that if this is the case, then it is probably because we aren't reallt equipped to do away with the notion of time. Maybe this is because time is actually indispensible. Maybe it's because we just need different words to discuss these ideas. Or perhaps it's because these are ideas that don't or can't actually make sense to us no matter we might phrase them. There is no reason, after all, to think that the human mind, evolved as it is, should be capable of truly comprehending the intricacies of ultimate reality. What we're good at it describing how things seem to us. But I don't see that we can do this without some reliance on the idea of time.
  6. Presumably, yes. It seems that there would likely be some historical record of such an event.
  7. I think I understand what you are saying here. Understand that the clock I referred to was metaphorical.
  8. I tend to agree with this. It may be the case that we are not equipped to fully understand these issues, so we just do the best we can. Oddly, there's a connection I'd like to try and draw between the consciousness tangent we went down and this issue. I mentioned in a previous post that I've found a fairly strong alignment between some of my views and the philosophical arguments of John Searle. One of the key distinctions he draws is between ontological objectivity and epistemic objectivity. On his account, it's an ontologically objective fact that (for example) hydrogen atoms exist, because their existence is independent of our knowledge about them. But it's an epistemically objective fact that bathtubs exist. Bathtubs are bathtubs only because we say so. Many things in our lives have an epistemic mode of objective existence rather than an ontological mode of objective existence. I think that a lot of the time people conflate these categories and it leads to problems. For example, I've argued before that objective moral facts may exist, but only in the context of a particular moral system, which is itself not objective. This makes sense to me, but I know a number of people have taken issue with it. On Searle's vocabulary, this statement would be that moral truths are epistemic in nature. So objective moral truths are epistemically objective, not ontologically objective. I think this is a bit of a better way of putting it. Where is the relevance to the current discussion? Well, I think it's clearly the case that things which have an epistemic mode of objectivity may simply cease to be. Money is money only because we say so. If no one says it's money, then it just isn't. And if everyone decided to dispense with money (or if everyone simply died), then money would simply not exist. It would not change into something else, it just wouldn't exist. The pieces of paper, metal, and plastic would still exist, and that is because their mode of objectivity is ontological. But the natural state of affairs is for money to not exist. It exists only because we say so. This is typical of epistemically objective things. What I'm trying to get at here is that I think the question "why is there something rather than nothing" contains an implicit category error. It seems more natural to us to assume that nothing is the natural state of affairs, because for epistemically objective entities this is the case. But for ontologically objective entities, it is not. Ontologically, there is just something, and that's just a brute fact. This ties in nicely with Niels Bohr's view of science concerning not how the world is, but rather what we say about the world. Because science is an attempt to epistemically descibe ontologically objective entities, it sometimes seems as if epistemic objectivity is all that there is. And if this were true then it would indeed be the case that nothing ought to exist. But I think this is a very significant mistake. A final thing that I want to say about this for now is that I think the theist's view can be fairly accurately described as reducing to the assertion that only God has an ontological mode of objective existence. Everything else is ultimately epistemically objective. It exists only because God says so. In fact, God declared it to exist, literally, and that's why it exists. So on the theist's view, the idea that there ought to be nothing is baked in from the start. These are things I'm still trying to get straight in my own mind, so I apologize if the above is not particularly coherent.
  9. Alright, so it seems to me at this point that many of us want to say that there is something now, and that something only comes from something. So we end up with some version of "there has always been something". Theists say there has always been God, but provide precious few compelling reasons for us to think that God is the necessary something. It just has to be something, no necessarily God. I'm interested in the implications here for the very notion of nothing. I think it's an idea that doesn't really make sense. We have something, something only comes from something, therefore nothing is actually not a thing (yes, I know how that sounds). I don't see why this should really be troubling, but I suspect a lot of the general public would disagree with me on this point.
  10. Yes, I see that. The report referred to in the article you posted was written by a bishop and a reverend. Seems like they might have some bias there. But leave that aside. I've already acknowledged that persecution of Christians by extremist groups is a thing. This tends to happen most often in predominently Muslim countries. But such extremist regimes also persecute many other minority groups including Jews, Women, LGBTQ individuals, members of other religions, and even the wrong kind of Muslims. The persecution they enact is targeted at people who don't agree with them, not at Christians specifically. So calling this persecution of Christians is misleading. It's bad, and I wish it didn't happen. But it does not represent a special targeting of Christians.
  11. I think Einstein would probably reject both the options you present. Time does not emerge from matter, nor is it merely an invention. Time and space are inextricable, just as mass and energy are. But this is not particularly helpful in answering the question at hand. What I contend is that the very notion of "before the big bang", or "before the beginning" (whatever "the beginning" might be...), doesn't actually make any sense. If it's to be an absolute beginning, then the concept itself admits no "before". This seems to me to entail that the question regarding something vs. nothing is foundationally flawed. The assumption underlying the question is that there was nothing before there was something. But I don't think that that makes sense.
  12. This is entirely anecdotal, but I've read a number of accounts from people who "died" and were later revived who say that death was like, well, nothing. It seems to me that these accounts ought to be given at least as much weight as any other accounts which claim that something else happened. We just don't know what happens after death. But it seems most likely to me that death results in the cessation of consciousness. Hence, it's probable that nothing at all happens to us after death, because death entails that we don't exist anymore. Perhaps the process of dying brings about some strange perceptual experiences. Nevertheless, discussing these experiences is only possible for those of us who are still alive. And therein lies the problem.
  13. What stikes me as most odd about Hawking is that he insisted that philosophy is dead, and then proceeded to write an entire book (The Grand Design) on what I regard to be the philosophy of science. Interestingly, he insisted that philosophy is dead in that very book. I suppose we all have our blind spots. Despite the fact that we may disagree on details, I find the gist of this to be quite pleasing. The question I would want to ask is, if the beginning entity requires potential energy, then is it really the case that nothing existed before? It seems to me that, on this account, at least potential energy existed before. On my account, "before" becomes incoherent when we are discussing the beginning of time. What do you think about this?
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