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Would the Universe exist at all without Consciousness ?

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#26 walt99

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:14 PM

" reality IS - we don't need to question it existentially because we have to deal with it as it is."

 

People might be happier if they took an engineering outlook rather than philosophical.   Fact is,  mystery sucks . . .



#27 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:30 PM

I have had the great good fortune to teach philosophy for thirty years.  Over those years, as a teacher of adults and high school students and non-traditional college students, I have found it very beneficial to have the participants in a dialogue to first read the primary source text in which an important idea is raised and then share their understandings of the content of that primary source text.

 

So, from Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, "Space is not a conception which has been derived from outward experiences...Space...is a necessary representation a priori, which serves for the foundation of all external intuitions...Space is no...general conception of the relation of things but is a pure intuition...Consequently, the original representation of space is an intuition a priori and not a conception...Space does not represent any property of objects as things in themselves, nor does it represent them in their relations to each other;...space is nothing else than the form of all phenomena of the external sense, that is, the subjective condition of sensibility, under which alone all external intuition is possible...It is therefore from the human point of view only that we can speak of space...Time is the formal condition a priori of all phenomena whatsoever.  Space, as the pure form of external intuition, is limited as a condition a priori to external phenomena alone...Time is...merely a subjective condition of our (human) intuition...and in itself, independently of the mind or subject, is nothing...Time and space, are, therefore, two sources of knowledge, from which, a priori, various synthetical cognitions can be drawn...those who maintain the absolute reality of time and space...must find themselves at utter variance with the principles of experience itself..." translation by J.M.D. Meiklejohn (www.4literature.net)

 

Otto


Edited by Otto Piechowski, 19 January 2018 - 05:32 PM.


#28 trurl

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:40 PM

Interesting that Kant didn't seem to have in there anything about measuring space and time. Modern physics considers these dimensions because they can be measured.



#29 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:42 PM

Perhaps it might be useful to consider an analogy which makes it a bit easier to consider the possibility that a phenomena, such as space and time are thought to be, might be a part of the mind interpreting reality and putting a 'face' on reality which can then make it possible for us sensate beings to function within that same reality.

 

Recently, a substance has been created by scientists which reflects almost no light at all.  When this new material was demonstrated, they presented to the viewers a disk, face on, of this material.  To the observers, the disk appeared black.  The commentator then said that the material, in fact, was no color whatsoever; not even black.  But since, in that disk shaped space, there was nothing being seen, it was the brain which filled in the space with the color black so as to create some sense out of a situation with which the human mind could not deal.

 

Along that line, I often think of the fact that the world around me, the computer on which I type, the desk at which I sit, the lamp at which I look, the chair which I feel beneath me, the floor on which my feet rest....are not, in fact, solid objects but various conglomerations of fields and forces and energies.  It is only to my human brain that these all feel and appear to be solid things to my seemingly solid body.

 

I also remember, being taught in psychology, that the signals received by the brain from my eyes through the optic nerve present an image in the brain (a percept) which is upside down, two-dimensional, and about 1/3 completely empty.  It is the brain which turns the image right side up, creates the perception of three dimensionality, and fills in the empty spaces.



#30 trurl

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:49 PM

Our science only gives us models of reality. And our perceptions only give us interpretations of the effects reality has on our senses.

 

But the math from the models works and produces useful results.



#31 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:51 PM

Let's look at the simple formula of the distance an object falls in a gravity field, d=1/2gt(squared).  For this formula to work, to accomplish the purposes we desire, it is necessary for us to consider that time ("t") is as real as gravity ("g") and distance ("d").

 

However, I seem to recall hearing a physicist once trying to explain physical realities to non-scientists that time is not a thing in itself but some type of various sets and manifestations of operations within various atomic/subatomic particles within the universe.  What I took away from that is that time has a reality, but not the reality I commonly take time to be.

 

By the way, it was not just idealist philosophers such as Kant who believe time is something other than an actual existing-in-themselves reality.  The realist philosopher Aristotle, wrote in his physics  that "time is the number of motion in respect to before and after" (Book IV)

 

Otto



#32 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:59 PM

The gentleman who raised the issue of the anthropic principle gets at an interesting thought.

 

Though this idea (anthropic universe) is somewhat different than the issue raised in the opening post by the opening poster of this string of thoughts, it is worth considering nonetheless.  For whatever reason, the universe in which we find ourselves is a universe, the conditions of which, made it possible for consciousness to arise.  Thus, the possibility arises that if this universe had not given rise to conditions favorable to consciousness, then that universe would have been a significantly different type of universe (i.e. set of conditions) than what it now is.

 

Now, let's consider a different thought.  Let's take this universe in which we find ourselves, i.e. this universe, the conditions of which gave rise to consciousness.  Let us now imagine some contagion which destroys all life and all consciousness.  Would this universe then cease to exist?  I think it would continue.

 

Otto



#33 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 06:10 PM

 

 

 

I'm a little leery of the Universe existing because an engineer says it does. 

 

Engineers also claim the products they design work. On paper perhaps. Look no further than the Mounts forum for evidence to the contrary. wink.gif

Bold words from a non-engineer!!  An engineer designed your toilet, your sewer system, your water supply, your car, your heating and AC, the roads you drive on, the equipment that made your shoes, your shirt, your TV, your telescope, and yes - your mount.  Frankly, your mount is spectacular given the price you paid.  You want a foolproof mount?  Pay the price.  I did - I have a Losmandy G11 that is, in a word, spectacular!

 

Who said I wasn't (or never was) an engineer? LOL.

 

Now if you had said that you yourself designed the Universe, your bold words that the Universe exists might carry more weight. 

 

The handle broke on my toilet, our sewer system has required repairs, my water supply is tainted, my car has a lot of design flaws, my furnace (although brand new) needs to be replaced because of reoccurring problems from a faulty circuit board, my boots have soles that come apart (regardless of brand), my TV has countless glitches, etc. None of which were problematic due to being cheap. Actually my mount probably is the best design out of all the things I mentioned. 

 

And still, while I appreciate all that engineers have done for this world, proving the Universe exists is not one of them.

 

Of course you have a valid point.  I was making a joke in the post.  However, I suppose the fact that engineers and scientists have worked to help humans walk on the moon, part of the non-earthly universe, seems pretty real to me!  Launching satellites and receiving pix and data from our solar system makes the universe pretty real to me.  Having satellites leave our solar system into the galaxy seems pretty real to me.  The point I was making was - as an engineer - reality IS - we don't need to question it existentially because we have to deal with it as it is. 

 

I wasn't saying that engineers can prove the universe exists.  My point was, engineers have to work with it the way it is.

 

Of course, I was just having some existential fun with you. :) Perception is reality.


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#34 walt99

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 07:40 PM

  Would this universe then cease to exist?  I think it would continue.

 

Otto

But for how long ?



#35 gfamily

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 08:15 PM

Of course, I was just having some existential fun with you. smile.gif Perception is reality.

An interesting question:  if "perception is reality," when did reality begin?



#36 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 08:35 PM

 

Of course, I was just having some existential fun with you. smile.gif Perception is reality.

An interesting question:  if "perception is reality," when did reality begin?

 

Whose reality?



#37 llanitedave

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:07 AM

 

Philosophers had a name for this idea before the "Anthropic Principle" or even Kant. It's called solipsism. I don't think even philosophers spend much time taking it seriously.

I think. Therefore I think I exist. I think. shrug.gif

 

No, it's quite clear.  Thinking is a physical activity.  Thought cannot occur without a physical medium to enable that thought.  So, if you think, therefore you are, necessarily.


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#38 llanitedave

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:08 AM

 

Of course, I was just having some existential fun with you. smile.gif Perception is reality.

An interesting question:  if "perception is reality," when did reality begin?

 

My mom perceived a small rattlesnake as harmless a couple of years back.  The reality was, she got bit.


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#39 walt99

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 08:36 AM

IF  Kant is right about time, then there would have had to be an observer at the beginning of the Universe. 

 

That observer obviously wasn't us.  This has theological implications . . .



#40 llanitedave

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 10:44 AM

IF  Kant is right about time, then there would have had to be an observer at the beginning of the Universe. 

 

That observer obviously wasn't us.  This has theological implications . . .

But Kant is wrong about time, so those implications are irrelevant.

 

However, there have been "observers" on Earth for hundreds of millions of years who were not us.  There are likely to be observers for billions of years after we're gone.  We're a biological species, we aren't magical.


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#41 goodricke1

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 01:03 PM

However, there have been "observers" on Earth for hundreds of millions of years who were not us.  There are likely to be observers for billions of years after we're gone.  We're a biological species, we aren't magical.

Those observers were not 'conscious' in the context of what the OP means though, I think. We are the first species to actually contemplate he Universe and ask questions about its meaning, at least according to our own definitions.

 

There are similarities to the 'tree falling in a forest' scenario, but frankly, if Kant was unable to figure it out than I'm not likely to either.


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#42 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 02:27 PM

Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" is found in his Discourse on Method and in his Meditations.  His cogito, ergo sum (in the Meditations) and his je pense, donc je suis (in the Discourse) are preceded in both texts revealing his real issue which is to develop a scientific methodology based on skepticism; doubt.  "I think, therefore I am" is a generalization of his more central contention that doubt is the path to knowledge acquisition; i.e. dubito ergo sum/​je doute, donc je suis.

 

Descartes seeks to find a scientific methodology which only allows statements/assertions which are "self-evidently true" or which can be proven to be logically and/or mathematically certain.

 

Unfortunately, his first example of such a truth, i.e. "I think, therefore I am" is itself a logical fallacy as was pointed out by Leibniz (possible founder/co-founder of the Calculus) who wrote in response that the logically consistent statement Descartes should have made was "I think, therefore I am a thinking thing" (cogito, ergo cogitans).

 

It is not incidental or coincidental that the cartesian methodological skepticism is also found in that same text (Discourse) which espouses science as an individualistic/isolationist/isolating activity.  One begins to think that the things one knows and the things one experiences are only images within the brain.  At that point one begins to have doubts about the ability to know what the essence or nature is, of things outside of the brain.  This leads in turn to real doubts about the existence of anything outside the mind.  Science, utilizing this methodology is reduced to probabilistic descriptions of behaviors/motions/changes and refuses to consider if things-outside-the-brain have any essence or nature.  Phenomenology refers to this conundrum as the egocentric predicament.

 

All of us, have been influenced by both cartesian and kantian ideas.  Often, the ways we think and speak about the world/universe betray this influence.  For example, the question  "Would the universe exist at all without consciousness", with which this thread opens, may be a manifestation of this cartesian induced egocentric predicament.


Edited by Otto Piechowski, 20 January 2018 - 03:04 PM.

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#43 llanitedave

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:34 PM

 

However, there have been "observers" on Earth for hundreds of millions of years who were not us.  There are likely to be observers for billions of years after we're gone.  We're a biological species, we aren't magical.

Those observers were not 'conscious' in the context of what the OP means though, I think. We are the first species to actually contemplate he Universe and ask questions about its meaning, at least according to our own definitions.

 

There are similarities to the 'tree falling in a forest' scenario, but frankly, if Kant was unable to figure it out than I'm not likely to either.

 

Sure, but the OP's context is a bit of special pleading.  It boils down to "nobody can appreciate the universe quite like me, therefore, the universe was made for me.  Then generalize that sentiment just a little, and there you have it.  I'm just saying that you could generalize a lot more -- arbitrarily more, because it's an arbitrary claim in the first place.


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#44 llanitedave

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:48 PM

Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" is found in his Discourse on Method and in his Meditations.  His cogito, ergo sum (in the Meditations) and his je pense, donc je suis (in the Discourse) are preceded in both texts revealing his real issue which is to develop a scientific methodology based on skepticism; doubt.  "I think, therefore I am" is a generalization of his more central contention that doubt is the path to knowledge acquisition; i.e. dubito ergo sum/​je doute, donc je suis.

 

Descartes seeks to find a scientific methodology which only allows statements/assertions which are "self-evidently true" or which can be proven to be logically and/or mathematically certain.

 

Unfortunately, his first example of such a truth, i.e. "I think, therefore I am" is itself a logical fallacy as was pointed out by Leibniz (possible founder/co-founder of the Calculus) who wrote in response that the logically consistent statement Descartes should have made was "I think, therefore I am a thinking thing" (cogito, ergo cogitans).

 

It is not incidental or coincidental that the cartesian methodological skepticism is also found in that same text (Discourse) which espouses science as an individualistic/isolationist/isolating activity.  One begins to think that the things one knows and the things one experiences are only images within the brain.  At that point one begins to have doubts about the ability to know what the essence or nature is, of things outside of the brain.  This leads in turn to real doubts about the existence of anything outside the mind.  Science, utilizing this methodology is reduced to probabilistic descriptions of behaviors/motions/changes and refuses to consider if things-outside-the-brain have any essence or nature.  Phenomenology refers to this conundrum as the egocentric predicament.

 

All of us, have been influenced by both cartesian and kantian ideas.  Often, the ways we think and speak about the world/universe betray this influence.  For example, the question  "Would the universe exist at all without consciousness", with which this thread opens, may be a manifestation of this cartesian induced egocentric predicament.

The power of Karl Popper's approach was to acknowledge that it's impossible to truly "know" with absolute certainty any "truth" about the natural world.  But that does not imply that such truths do not exist.  The best evidence for the existence of truth, even if unprovable, comes from the provable existence of falsity.  With the process that he called "Conjectures and Refutations", we essentially back our way towards the truth, by proposing conjectural hypotheses which can then be tested.  If the hypotheses can be stated rigorously, and if they survive rigorous testing, then we can entertain the idea that we have approached the truth a little more closely. If the hypothesis fails, we can eliminate it, and know we are closer to the truth via the filtering out of one more falsity. Using this method, we can gradually and incrementally work towards revealing at least some aspects of truth.

 

The weakness of the "perception is reality" claim, is that it ignores the scientific method.  Perceptions are only credible if they are testable, and then only if they withstand the highest-quality tests put to them.


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#45 walt99

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:51 PM

E= M  X  C square .    C  is the speed of light .  Speed is distance and time.  Time,  according to Kant ,  is a product of the mind .

 

So,  without time ,  without the mind ,  could the Universe exist at all ?

 

 

 

However, there have been "observers" on Earth for hundreds of millions of years who were not us.  There are likely to be observers for billions of years after we're gone.  We're a biological species, we aren't magical.

Those observers were not 'conscious' in the context of what the OP means though, I think. We are the first species to actually contemplate he Universe and ask questions about its meaning, at least according to our own definitions.

 

There are similarities to the 'tree falling in a forest' scenario, but frankly, if Kant was unable to figure it out than I'm not likely to either.

 

Sure, but the OP's context is a bit of special pleading.  It boils down to "nobody can appreciate the universe quite like me, therefore, the universe was made for me.  Then generalize that sentiment just a little, and there you have it.  I'm just saying that you could generalize a lot more -- arbitrarily more, because it's an arbitrary claim in the first place.

 

No claim was made ;  just posed a question.  And it were a claim, in what way would it be arbitrary ?



#46 llanitedave

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 05:03 PM

 

E= M  X  C square .    C  is the speed of light .  Speed is distance and time.  Time,  according to Kant ,  is a product of the mind .

 

So,  without time ,  without the mind ,  could the Universe exist at all ?

 

 

 

However, there have been "observers" on Earth for hundreds of millions of years who were not us.  There are likely to be observers for billions of years after we're gone.  We're a biological species, we aren't magical.

Those observers were not 'conscious' in the context of what the OP means though, I think. We are the first species to actually contemplate he Universe and ask questions about its meaning, at least according to our own definitions.

 

There are similarities to the 'tree falling in a forest' scenario, but frankly, if Kant was unable to figure it out than I'm not likely to either.

 

Sure, but the OP's context is a bit of special pleading.  It boils down to "nobody can appreciate the universe quite like me, therefore, the universe was made for me.  Then generalize that sentiment just a little, and there you have it.  I'm just saying that you could generalize a lot more -- arbitrarily more, because it's an arbitrary claim in the first place.

 

No claim was made ;  just posed a question.  And it were a claim, in what way would it be arbitrary ?

 

I would argue that it's arbitrary because it imposes a requirement -- the presence of mind -- that is probably spurious.  It's based on a misunderstanding of the nature of both time and mind.


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#47 walt99

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 05:13 PM

To say there is a misunderstanding of time and mind implies there is an understanding of time and mind.  This, I think, is a misunderstanding . . .smile.gif

I would argue that it's arbitrary because it imposes a requirement -- the presence of mind -- that is probably spurious.  It's based on a misunderstanding of the nature of both time and mind.

 



#48 MikeMiller

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 06:17 PM

Time is not the universe, and philosophy is not physics.

#49 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 06:20 PM

I have heard of Popper, and I believe had to read some of his stuff at one time (but have forgotten all of it.  I found your description of recognizing the existence of truth by means of falsification, to be easy to understand and persuasive, Dave.  

 

Otto



#50 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 06:22 PM

Wait....were is Mount Aerial, Kentucky?

 

Otto (Lexington, Kentucky)




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