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Re: Princeton Field Guide



2010/10/21 Raptorial Talon <raptorialtalon@gmail.com>:

Nice philosophical entry! Philosophy cannot be avoided in many themes
of biology, like these, so it is necessary to get into it.

> My point, thus, was that – while battlecruisers exist as a concept –
> the concept is not itself a material entity, and therefore does not
> exist external to the mind. The thing that exists external to the mind
> (I hope) can be referred to as a “battlecruiser” if we like, but we
> are then using the concept as an imperfect stand-in; it is not the
> empirical thing itself, which at best can be experienced only through
> the senses.

I suppose when we say "this battlecruiser exists" we are referring to
the perception, if not the presumed "external reality", instead of the
concept attached to it (which even more certainly exists, as you said
and we can consciously realize). I suppose your use of the term
"battlecruiser" as something imperfect in relation to the reality may
come from the fact that we face a double uncertainty, one in
traslating reality (if accepted as true) to perception, and then in
translating from perception to concept, from which names derive (where
we many times recognize the inadequacy of names, overall when we try
to force the perceptions into previously proposed names - as Gould
indicated in the case of individuals and colonies). But, assuming
this, we cannot be sure of the adequacy of any concept to any
perception, as we are not of "reality" (except from perception).
Because even in the case of a concept which we can now see as
biunivocally connecting name and perception, we cannot be sure that,
with new perceptions (and/or concepts) they will not become of less
easy correspondence.

> So while I’m not a solipsist, that’s mostly because parsimony suggests
> it’s a bad idea. ;p

I think the real includes only those entities whose existence we
cannot honestly deny or doubt. And those entities are our perceptions,
and not the existence of an "external reality". I suppose you, as me,
consider solipsism as non-parsimonious because of the more assumptions
needed in admitting the coincidences with perceptions of other
perceived humans. It would be most parsimonious to admit the existence
of things and their (sometimes many) atributes which many can perceive
and describe in the same language instead of many perceptions which
only by chance show a logic in words (in a common language) with what
we perceive from the expression of the other human. Also, there are
other possible arguments, but not more compulsive as far as I can see.
Anyway, as this comes out from inference a relationship of causality,
it should be considered as the "hypothesis that there is a reality
which is not simply our perception". Just as there is some
competitive, apparently less parsimonious hypothesis that only
perceptions exist. So, as it seems to me that scepticism is always the
most reasonable, scientifically sound, and humanely open of the
attitudes (because it does not deny nor approves what we have not
evidence to), I think one should be solipsist inasmuch as some
solipsism does not deny, as far as I know, the possibility of
"external reality".