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Thread: Refutation of Global Skepticism

  1. #1 Refutation of Global Skepticism 
    Forum Freshman Munk's Avatar
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    Specifically, the refutation that one cannot "know" anything for sure. This comes courtesy of Descarte.

    One's qualia or "subjective conscious experience" is sufficient for justifying the existence of something beyond the shadow of a doubt. For example, I am 100% positive that my computer exists, simply because I am experiencing it. No matter if this computer exists as a physical object, a sensory illusion, or a false memory, no matter what this computer ultimately exists as, it still exists nonetheless (even if only as a quale).

    8)


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  3. #2  
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    This is one of the aspects of life that depresses me greatly.
    I don't consider merely having a conscious experience of something as justifying the existence of it. Granted, I am not sure what would, but if given enough knowledge, experience, time et cetera I would like to believe that the intelligent of our kind would be capable of knowing at least something for certain beyond experience.


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  4. #3  
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    Don't become too upset too quickly. If nothing else, you can know, for a fact, that qualia exists. This is about as fundamental as you can get, being a human who must rely on sensation to interact with the "external" world.

    But think to yourself, how can qualities/characteristics exist unless they are an aspect of something else (which would have to exist in order for it to have qualities/characteristics)? Can "red" exist without something else existing to have that quality?
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  5. #4  
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    How is it that qualia are factual?
    What is it that separates it from the same issues that plague everything else, in this context, specifically?
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  6. #5  
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    What exactly do you mean by "factual"? The issues you are referring to only apply to that which is assumed to be "beyond" our senses (an external world, for example).

    If you experience a quale, that’s all that is needed to know that that specific quale exists. It does matter if the quale is the product of an external world or the product of mind, in either (and all) cases, the quale would still exist as a "real" sensation.

    In short, the existence of a sensation can only be "proven" by experiencing it, and we experience sensations all of the time. Even now, as you read this, you are experiencing many different kinds of qualia. How could those qualia *not* exist, if you are experiencing them? Nevermind where these sensations come from, knowing that is not a requisite of knowing they exist.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Munk
    What exactly do you mean by "factual"? If you experience a quale, that’s all that needs to be done to know that that specific quale exists. It's like an axiom. It does matter if the quale is the product of an external world or a product of the mind, in either (and all) cases, the quale would still exist as a "real" sensation.
    Ok, assume the quale you experience is an emotion - let's say sadness. How do you know it exists in realiity - just by feeling it? What happens when you no longer feel sad - but happy? Did your sadness drop out of your pocket when you reached for your wallet? Did you misplace it, give it away free or sell it to someone else?

    Why has your sadness now been replaced with happiness? Or are the two perhaps; factually non-existent?
    sunshinewarrior: If two people are using the same word, but applying different meanings to it, then they're not communicating.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apopohis Reject
    Ok, assume the quale you experience is an emotion - let's say sadness. How do you know it exists in realiity - just by feeling it?
    Exactly.

    How else could you know it exists, and how else could you experience sadness if it didn't exist to be experienced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apopohis Reject
    What happens when you no longer feel sad - but happy? Did your sadness drop out of your pocket when you reached for your wallet? Did you misplace it, give it away free or sell it to someone else?
    Well this gets right back into that debate about time, now doesn't it? :wink:

    When you are no longer experiencing sadness, the quale no longer exists (since a quale is, by nature, an experience). It becomes oblivious the moment it passes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apopohis Reject
    Or are the two perhaps; factually non-existent?
    If they were truthfully non-existent, you wouldn't have experienced either, which means you wouldn't have had reason to ponder the nature of those "non-existent" sensations...

    And yet, here we are.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Munk
    Quote Originally Posted by Apopohis Reject
    Ok, assume the quale you experience is an emotion - let's say sadness. How do you know it exists in realiity - just by feeling it?
    How else could you know it exists, and how else could you experience sadness if it didn't exist to be experienced?

    Well this gets right back into that debate about time, now doesn't it? :wink:
    That's precisely the point - NEITHER actually exists, apart from within the confines of man's imagination.


    Quote Originally Posted by Munk
    If they were truthfully non-existent, you wouldn't have experienced either, which means you wouldn't have had reason to ponder the nature of those "non-existent" sensations...

    And yet, here we are.
    It is true we experience both, but that doesn't necessarily correlate with an existence of either - which I thought was your original point. :?

    Think about it this way perhaps - you feel an itch so you scratch. Now did you scratch the itch, or was it the irritation to your skin that you were, in the process attempting to remove? You could not see what was creating that irritation or afford the time to investigate the cause, for you had to take care of that darn itch.

    So the itch was real enough to your senses (your emotions), but do you think you could have possibly isolated it, or time for that matter, or your previous (emotional) sadness - under a microscope? They are all entirely conceptual; within the mind, yet in reality do not exist outside such confines.
    sunshinewarrior: If two people are using the same word, but applying different meanings to it, then they're not communicating.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Munk
    How else could you know it exists, and how else could you experience sadness if it didn't exist to be experienced?
    This dabbles too much in recursion for me to be convinced.

    If we only experience that which exists and that which exists is our experience... well, we're travelling in circles. We need to isolate 'experience' and 'that which exists' and define them. Once this is done we can observe their relationship to one another.

    It is true that emotions seem to be confined to the imagination of man, but I think there is something more to it, as all of man have the potential to feel the same emotions. An emotion must be an effect of some event and related to brain function. Further, humans are able to detect emotion in one another even if the individual is not feeling that particular emotion at the time.

    I think you could isolate the site of an itch but the factors involved may be too small for our current microscopes. As for emotions, I don't think enough theory has been determined for us to be anywhere near studying them as we would like to.
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  11. #10  
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    For the sake of clarity, I will position my argument in a deductive format. If you disagree with the conclusion it produces, then you must disagree with one or more of the premises that derive that conclusion. Tell me, which premise(s) do you disagree with?

    Premise 1: Nonexistence = absolute nothingness
    Premise 2: Absolute nothingness is intrinsically void of characteristics/qualities
    Premise 3: Qualia = the subjective quality of conscious experience

    Conclusion: Qualia ≠ Nonexistence
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeera
    It is true that emotions seem to be confined to the imagination of man, but I think there is something more to it, as all of man have the potential to feel the same emotions. An emotion must be an effect of some event and related to brain function. Further, humans are able to detect emotion in one another even if the individual is not feeling that particular emotion at the time.
    We indeed all experience the same emotions, but not at the same impulses. For instance there seems to be some kind of ghastly death wish in many people these days, in the attraction they enjoy for the most grotesque depictions that really should sicken all of us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeera
    I think you could isolate the site of an itch but the factors involved may be too small for our current microscopes. As for emotions, I don't think enough theory has been determined for us to be anywhere near studying them as we would like to.
    You may indeed be able to isolate the cause of the skin irritation; however you will never isolate the emotions that were launched by it, on their passage to your consciousness.
    sunshinewarrior: If two people are using the same word, but applying different meanings to it, then they're not communicating.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeera
    Quote Originally Posted by Munk
    How else could you know it exists, and how else could you experience sadness if it didn't exist to be experienced?
    This dabbles too much in recursion for me to be convinced.

    If we only experience that which exists and that which exists is our experience... well, we're travelling in circles. We need to isolate 'experience' and 'that which exists' and define them. Once this is done we can observe their relationship to one another.
    I would suggest there to effectively be two entirely separate definitions for ‘exist’, which again relates to the two parameters ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’, or maybe ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’.

    For instance emotions are clearly an intrinsic aspect to each of us, and they sure enough feel extant, often in sufficiently powerful dimensions for us to commit gross atrocity – even towards ourselves, however we cannot really pass them on to another or even logically control them from this place we generally subsist. So for mine they can lay claim to an existence, as can memory and perception, yet clearly not the same variety of reality that we would determine for a tree (for example), respectively being part of an objective reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Munk
    Premise 1: Nonexistence = absolute nothingness
    Premise 2: Absolute nothingness is intrinsically void of characteristics/qualities
    Premise 3: Qualia = the subjective quality of conscious experience

    Conclusion: Qualia ≠ Nonexistence
    This post is now by way of edit, for I have since come to the conclusion (after a little research on the term 'qualia') my previous effort required amending on the basis of my failure to fully grasp your points. Upon further consideration - provided I now understand, I agree with you unreservedly.

    So now the question remains, as to what we now do with such a precocious discovery?
    sunshinewarrior: If two people are using the same word, but applying different meanings to it, then they're not communicating.
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    Hmm...

    I am intrigued now.
    Not convinced yet though... keep discussing and I'll keep watch until I'm persuaded either way :P
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  15. #14 Reality Vs Non-existence 
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    Well actually Xeera; I suggest you are already persuaded one way - the generic view, and now have a second perspective emerging. In any case, my congrats on having an open mind. So here now, are another couple of points to weigh in your determinations.

    To understand anything at all, we first need to separate that which is real, from that which doesn’t exist.

    Secondarily, I would suggest, we need to separate and define those things that exist in the physical – perhaps being an easier task than other realities that exist in an alternative concomitant (I would say ‘superior’) realm, which has no physicality, but rather; is ‘spiritual’ (ie. non-physical).

    Then to compound things a little, there is yet another grouping that requires consideration - concepts that do not in fact exist, yet to which man in one way or another, surrenders as a priority in his determinations. Such concepts might include god, time, and money, but let's get to myth and worship in due course.

    The main problem for science is, it has always had the generic approach that if it isn’t physical, it doesn’t exist; being all about locating and understand everything via the material, ie. physical - what physics is all about. Therefore science will always have a difficult (suggest - impossible) time recognising anything that cannot be placed under a microscope, and therefore impervious to definition via physical parameters.

    Known realities such as memory, emotions, thought and Intelligence will, I suggest, always remain beyond the capacity of physical evidence. Sure enough, they all present a tangible representation, yet in themselves, lack anything by the way of corporeality. So I would suggest an alternative mentality is required to adequately grasp and integrate such intangible realities.

    We naturally accept these non-physical entities as existing, and we all to some extent; trust and employ them. For without fail, we indeed become nothing more than lumps of flesh and bone on the way back to the earth; the very instant they fail us for some reason. Yet as we have been discussing lately, they (at least) urgently need a re-defining. But how do we manage that when our focus and determination is only towards the physical – which clearly these are not? What a paradox, huh?

    Again, the situation for our understanding of existence is further confused by our tendancy to worship - being convinced that other non-physical concepts such as god, time, and I would suggest; also money, as having authenticity. Such are merely invented human concepts, and cannot lay claim to any actual validity; certainly not to the extent of memory, thought, and Intelligence - as they fail in both the physical and reality tests.

    Yet we astoundingly trust them as if not only extant and credible, but even worth living out life and death over.

    We all believe we understand the above criteria to living in 2010 and subsequently place such concepts within our herarchical order of faith and belief, however as we have seen; our general perception is sometimes the converse of the reality. So there are clearly many perceptions to our ongoing mentality that will always present a paradox whilst we determine to understand everything - only via physical paramater and definition.
    sunshinewarrior: If two people are using the same word, but applying different meanings to it, then they're not communicating.
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