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Would the Universe exist at all without Consciousness ?

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#76 llanitedave

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 09:36 PM

I'm still struggling to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  

Depends on the type of dance.  A slow couples dance can fit a lot more angels than a country line dance or a jitterbug.

 

Also depends on what they're wearing.  Those big ol' winged angel gowns take up a lot of space.  If they can just wear jeans and a shirt, they can probably dance closer together.


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#77 ColoHank

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 10:31 AM

 

I'm still struggling to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  

Depends on the type of dance.  A slow couples dance can fit a lot more angels than a country line dance or a jitterbug.

 

Also depends on what they're wearing.  Those big ol' winged angel gowns take up a lot of space.  If they can just wear jeans and a shirt, they can probably dance closer together.

 

First, we'd have to agree upon and define "standard angel,"  and each participating angel would have to conform to that standard in terms of height, girth, weight and shoe-size.  Hair color wouldn't matter.  Then we'd have to establish parameters of movement for the dance.  I'd suggest that we agree on the twist as the standard dance, since each angel would, for the most part, gyrate back and forth in a fixed location on the pin, though perhaps biting its lip from to time.  Define a standard dance tune at a standard beat (frequency), too.  I'm thinking Chubby Checkers's C'mon Baby, Let's Do The Twist would fit the bill at a pace of 120 beats per minute.  And finally, agreed-upon temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind velocity and direction, etc.

 

I've encountered a lot of pinheads in my life, and they come in all shapes and sizes, so we'd have to agree on what constitutes a standard pinhead.  Would it be of metal like on a pin used for sewing, or would it be a common pinhead, the kind you might run into in front of the grocery store arguing with a Girl Scout about the cost of Thin Mints or Samoas?  Assuming the former (not Thin Mints, you pinheads, but the kind of head on a sewing pin), what would the diameter of that pinhead be?  Slightly convex or flat?  Plated brass or steel?  Smooth surface or slightly textured?  And so on.

 

As you point out, this is not a simple problem.  Get to work on it and report back to us when you reach satisfactory conclusions.



#78 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 01:00 PM

I wish to return to your opening question, Walt, "Time,  according to Kant,  is a product of the mind.  So,  without time ,  without the mind,  could the Universe exist at all?"

 

I find Kant difficult to understand.  I have made some good attempts by reading carefully, some of what he has written, thinking about the things he has written such as the question you posed, and by talking to professors who probably have a decent understanding of him.  Nonetheless, I am not sure I ever fully and correctly understand him.  With this qualification in mind, I will then begin.

 

It seems to me that Kant's assertion that time is a product of mind, is a necessary consequence of his belief in the existence of a priori synthetic ideas.  Simply, he has a belief that there are ideas in the mind, which have no relationship to sense data obtained from the outside world, and which are a product of the mind.  He believes, that a person is, or can be, aware/conscous of these a priori synthetic propositions.

 

In the late A.D. 1800s and early A.D. 1900s, a branch of philosophy was initiated called phenomenology.  It states that all acts of knowing are intentional.  By this is meant that when we are conscious or aware, we are always conscious or aware of something outside ourselves.  A corollary of this belief, would then seem to be that if there was not a something-outside-of-mind which was the source and focus of our awareness/consciousness, we would then have no awareness/consciousness at all; much like the experience, I would think that one has upon awaking from hours of surgical sedation in which the hours seem to just be missing.

 

Kant's idea is, in this regard, similar to what has been characterized as Descartes' ghost-in-the-machine which he used to describe the human res cogitans (mind) existing within a res extensa (body).  Kant and Descartes appear to think that one could be aware of images which exist only in the mind; which have no corollary source or focus on things outside the mind, presented to the mind by the means of sense organs.

 

One of my professors at the School of Philosophy in Washington, D.C., who after earning his Ph.D. in phenomenology and then serving a stint at the Los Alamos weapons lab; has in his writings described this ideas-as-images-in-the-mind-alone as the "egocentric predicament".  He (my professor) asserts that if such a thing were possible (which, as a phenomenologist, he denies); that if such a thing were possible, we would then be in an egocentric predicament in that we would not be able to determine if our acts of awareness and consciousness were of things outside of us nor would we be able to determine the consistency between the images within the mind and the objects outside of the mind to which them might seem associated.

 

Now, no one I know, actually doubts the connection between ideas we have and the objects outside the mind to which those ideas refer.  But, because of Kant and Descartes (et alii) we have become unable and unwilling to assert this connection.  The necessary result of this inability and unwillingess, is "When we try to think about human consciousness, [if] we start with the premise that we are entirely “inside,”...we are greatly perplexed as to how we could ever get “outside.”  If we are bereft of intentionality, if we do not have a world in common, then we do not enter into a life of reason, evidence, and truth.  Each of us turns to his own private world, and in the practical order we do our own thing:  the truth does not make any demands on us.  Again, we know this relativism cannot be the final story.  We do argue with one another about what ought to be done and about what the facts are, but philosophically and culturally we find it difficult to ratify our naive acceptance of a common world and our ability to discover and communicate what it is.  The denial of intentionality has as its correlate the denial of the mind’s orientation toward truth."

 

And of course, the necessary consequence of a "denial of the mind's orientation toward truth" is a community's lack of ability to engage in meaningful political, social, or relational dialogue.

 

Phenomenology is a continuation of the moderate realism of Aristotle that consciousness and awareness are always associated in some with with things outside of the mind with which we are in contact by means of images/data/percepts funneled through the material senses of the body to the brain and thereby to the mind (the brain in cooperation with the soul).


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#79 llanitedave

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 11:12 PM

 

 

I'm still struggling to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  

Depends on the type of dance.  A slow couples dance can fit a lot more angels than a country line dance or a jitterbug.

 

Also depends on what they're wearing.  Those big ol' winged angel gowns take up a lot of space.  If they can just wear jeans and a shirt, they can probably dance closer together.

 

First, we'd have to agree upon and define "standard angel,"  and each participating angel would have to conform to that standard in terms of height, girth, weight and shoe-size.  Hair color wouldn't matter.  Then we'd have to establish parameters of movement for the dance.  I'd suggest that we agree on the twist as the standard dance, since each angel would, for the most part, gyrate back and forth in a fixed location on the pin, though perhaps biting its lip from to time.  Define a standard dance tune at a standard beat (frequency), too.  I'm thinking Chubby Checkers's C'mon Baby, Let's Do The Twist would fit the bill at a pace of 120 beats per minute.  And finally, agreed-upon temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind velocity and direction, etc.

 

I've encountered a lot of pinheads in my life, and they come in all shapes and sizes, so we'd have to agree on what constitutes a standard pinhead.  Would it be of metal like on a pin used for sewing, or would it be a common pinhead, the kind you might run into in front of the grocery store arguing with a Girl Scout about the cost of Thin Mints or Samoas?  Assuming the former (not Thin Mints, you pinheads, but the kind of head on a sewing pin), what would the diameter of that pinhead be?  Slightly convex or flat?  Plated brass or steel?  Smooth surface or slightly textured?  And so on.

 

As you point out, this is not a simple problem.  Get to work on it and report back to us when you reach satisfactory conclusions.

 

First order of business is to apply for a grant.  Maybe the guy who determined whether hell was endothermic or exothermic can give me a hand.



#80 brave_ulysses

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 04:06 PM

i always start with spherical angels and work backward



#81 Pess

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 04:24 PM

 

This reminds me of the question: "If a trees falls in the woods with no one to hear, does it make a sound?"

 



 

This is not a question (despite the apparent grammar)  , it is called a Koan. It is not an intellectual puzzle. 

 

I've had a similar koan answered for me:

 

'If a husband offers an opinion in the woods and his wife doesn't hear it, is he still wrong?'

 

Pesse (Wifey says, YES) Mist



#82 BillP

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 07:11 PM

Kant is in error. Time is not a subjective creation of consciousness, it is a fundamental property of physical reality.

 

Actually, there are notable scientists who feel that time is not a fundamental property of the universe, and that our perception of it is actually an illusion (i.e., we are mistaking something else for what we think of as time).  Physicist Julian Barbour, a visiting professor in physics at the University of Oxford, as example.

 

On the topic of would the universe exist without consciousness....  Good question since it requires consciousness to determine if something exists.  So if there were no consciousnesses in existence, then there would be no way to determine that there was a universe.


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#83 BillP

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 07:18 PM

This reminds me of the question: "If a trees falls in the woods with no one to hear, does it make a sound?"

I like to point out how this is just arrogance of the oil burning apes.

Besides the fact that sound is a vibration carried through the medium of air. It is not required that anything be there to hear it in order for it to be a sound. But in fact, all the animals we discount as valid listeners all heard it.

 

Did they?  How have you confirmed that the perception your call sound, is the same perception for different animals?  For some humans with certain conditions, those vibrations carried through air they perceive sometimes in multiple ways.  So they yes get a perception from their ears, but also get sight stimulation and even touch stimulation as well.  So actually, if you and one of those other people were in the forest when that tree fell, both of you would have had completely different experiences, so the word "sound" to describe it would not be the same thing.  Further, I would contend that sound is not a vibration carried through a medium.  "Sound" instead is a word describing the perceived experience from a human sensory organ.

 

How about putting that question a different way?  If an asteroid hit a lifeless Earth-like planet, when it hit did it make a sound?  My answer would be no it did not make a sound, and yes it did cause the propagation of a wave of varying frequencies and amplitudes through the various mediums involved on that planet.  Sound is unique to the human consciousness.  How any other living organism's non-human consciousness perceives similar frequencies and amplitudes of waves that our ears do is completely unknown and unknowable without becoming part of the consciousness of the organism in question.


Edited by BillP, 04 April 2018 - 07:28 PM.

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#84 xvariablestarx

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 07:27 PM

Things like the double slit experiment and the interaction of the observer with the observed, make me think that perhaps consciousness is fundamental to the universe.

 

From a quasi-Buddhist point of view, you create things by conceiving of them, but how far you want to go down that rabbit hole is up to you.


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#85 Ed Wiley

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 08:15 PM

I slogged through much of this discussion. There are several metaphysical positions one can take. Most of us scientists take one position: realism. Stated briefly, if you can observe it and measure it then there is a more than random chance that it actually exists. In some cases there is a much more than random chance that it exists. Full stop. If you are not willing to buy into this metaphyscis, then seek some other field; there are plenty that take just as much talent and smarts and are just as rewarding.

 

As for the PhD; in the modern world its a degree; higher than a BA. MS, or Doctor of Medicine for that matter. Apparently invented by the Germans, it simply indicates that a committee has convinced itself that that a candidate has taken a sufficient number of courses in the subject, retained enough of that knowledge, and proven that the he or she has perform research at a level that indicates he or she is capable of independent research and guide others to learn how to become independent researchers. As to the meaning of "philosophy," it goes to the unity of knowledge, as already pointed out. But if you look through the ages you will see that the meaning of "philosopher" has changed from time to time,

 

Ed



#86 Crow Haven

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 08:26 PM

and the cat says...

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#87 EJN

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 10:33 PM

I'm still struggling to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  

 

What if they are all wallflowers?

 

 

 

 

I am not sure (or unsure) that your, that Hank's mention of the ultimate degree in fields of science is often called a Ph.D (doctor of philosophy), is relevant to the point I was making about the limited subject matter of science as science.

But, I am very interested in you, Hank, and Dave raising the issue of the topic of the meaning of the Ph.D (i.e. doctor of philosophy).  I had never really thought about this in any depth.

And so, just why do they call a doctorate degree in physics or chemistry or biology, a Ph.D. in physics, or chemistry or biology; i.e. a doctor of philosophy degree in physics (or chemistry or biology, etc.)

I have also wondered why they call a Doctor of philosophy, someone who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy (which creates the, seemingly, tautological title of a "doctor of philosophy in philosophy").

Otto

 

 

Actually there is an equivalent degree, Sc.D - Doctor of Science - offered by many Universities. It is completely

equivalent to the Ph.D, however most opt for the more well known Ph.D out of tradition.



#88 keithlt

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 08:38 AM

 Yes in 1D and 2D might be needed for 3rd dimension-11th.


Edited by keithlt, 05 April 2018 - 08:40 AM.


#89 Ed Wiley

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 04:10 PM

 

Actually there is an equivalent degree, Sc.D - Doctor of Science - offered by many Universities. It is completely

equivalent to the Ph.D, however most opt for the more well known Ph.D out of tradition.

True in some countries. But in England it is awarded after the PhD for accomplishments above and beyond the PhD. So it can be equal (awarded in the sciences as opposed to the liberal arts, for example), or higher (England and I guess the rest of the UK), or even honorary, all depending on country and tradition. There are also countries that award degrees that are called things like "Doctorate by dissertation" (Japan) that are equivalent to the US PhD. 

 

Ed



#90 gavinm

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 04:27 PM

Same in most NZ Universities. A DSc is a higher degree (than a PhD) and awarded for publications or authorship in science. It's not a course you can do, per se.


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