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Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief 
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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Johnson wrote:
Personally, i don't like the holographic universe. But i really don't know enough about it to say whether i like it or not. I think it's a knee jerk reaction to the kind of metaphysical mumbo jumbo that is likely to arise from discussing it.


I don't either, it's misleading. Obviously the majority of our "solid" mass is not solid in the sense we understand it. That same sort of counter-intuitive structure is all I figure a holographic universe means.

Robert wrote:
The irony here is that this book claims the reality of the universe to be the first of its non-commandments, even though the authors seem to say that this fundamental observation is not justifiable. I would prefer that they joined the existentialists in taking the small leap of faith to say that they are certain that matter is real.


A small leap of faith is different from justification. What does it mean for a proposition to be justified? Does it mean the logical structure requires it to be true, as long as the premises are based on solid observation? The observations themselves are subject to errors such as theory-ladenness.

It seems that you want a small leap of faith to serve as justification. I don't think it does, by the definitions of the terms. Not to say the leap isn't justified in a moral sense, but that is a different connotation from epistemology.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
[quote="Robert Tulip"}. Giving credence to such nihilistic solipsism gives philosophy a bad name.

Saying time and space may not be real is like Maxwell Smart justifying the cone of silence by saying ashes can be reassembled.

Image[/quote]
Nihilism in philosophy is maintaining that nothing in the world is real. The authors here are pretty much going with a 99.99% chance that the world we experience is real.



Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:19 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
Is the universe real even if it is holographic?


Robert Tulip wrote:
Quote:
The idea that the universe may be holographic and not material is, in my view, absurd.


Interbane wrote:
Quote:
Regarding a holographic universe, I don't know if it's impossible or possible.


Robert Tulip wrote:
Quote:
Sensible skepticism can reject some propositions, such as that maybe nothing exists. But that is precisely what is entailed by the holographic universe hypothesis


Johnson 1010 wrote:
Quote:
I'm not totally on board with the holographic universe but even if they are saying the universe as we percieve it is a hologram that doesn't negate the realness of it.


What is, "the holographic universe"? It has become a large part of this discussion and I may not be alone in wanting a better understanding of what this term means and how it applies to AH-HM.



Fri Dec 12, 2014 12:57 am
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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
There are gradations of nihilism. Freddie Mercury held that "nothing really matters to me". The King of Hearts could not tell the difference between important and unimportant.

The authors here are well below 99.99% certainty of the existence of the universe. Their argument that all claims rest on an infinite regress back to an unjustifiable claim looks more like about a 70% bet.

One site on the holographic universe concept is http://www.crystalinks.com/holographic.html

But I am not sure if that is what Interbane meant.

Quote:
https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~rgs/alice-XII.html
`What do you know about this business?' the King said to Alice.
`Nothing,' said Alice.
`Nothing whatever?' persisted the King.
`Nothing whatever,' said Alice.
`That's very important,' the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted: `Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course,' he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.
`Unimportant, of course, I meant,' the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, `important--unimportant-- unimportant--important--' as if he were trying which word sounded best.
Some of the jury wrote it down `important,' and some `unimportant.' Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; `but it doesn't matter a bit,' she thought to herself.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Yes, I was referring to those ideas Robert. I agree they are ridiculous. But unlike you, I'm not absolutely certain they are impossible. Under the guise of being the arbiter of common sense, you're closing doors. Perhaps it's the way my mind works, I can mock something with the door still open. I don't need to close doors, I just follow the ones with a wider gap.


I found a link regarding life and algorithms that Flann might enjoy by reading through the articles:

https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/contex ... -algorithm


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Suzanne,


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_universe

Like i said, i don't really know a lot about this topic, but i will explain it as i understand it.

the idea seems to be that the volume of space is actually empty. completely.

What we experience as 3-d space is a projection from the edge of the universe which is mathematically a 2 dimensional surface. The walls of the balloon of our universe would have all the informational content of our universe on them and the 3-d effects are a projection.

i remember in high school i was shown a spherical metal case with a hole cut in the top. All along the inside the case was mirror-reflective. The teacher dropped a bolt into the bottom of the container and if you looked under the edge of the opening at the reflection it gave a very convincing appearance of the bolt sitting on top of the opening. The reflections gave the effect that the bottom of the container was actually sitting on top of the container as a lid with the bolt on top of it.

Once you tilted so that the outside lip of the hole obscured a part of the reflection the illusion was broken. I tried to locate a video of this device but couldn't. All youtube has for holograms is Tupac and a japanese anime pop idol...

But anyway the idea is analogous so far as i understand. What we percieve as happening "here in the middle" is actually an effect transpiring at the boundary of the universe.

Maybe i've got this completely wrong and THAT's why it doesn't resonate with me...

donno.


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Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
I still think this Crystalinks idea of a holographic universe is as plausible as Maxwell Smart's claim that it is more secure to communicate to the chief his request for a loan using the Cone of Silence than to write it down and burn it.

For that matter, the holographic universe is just as plausible as the claim that God invented the universe in the last ten thousand years and inserted all manner of clues to deceive scientists into thinking it is older. Except that the creationist model is far better explained as the result of pre-scientific thinking.

There is no arrogance in asserting that the universe really contains many of the features observed by science. But this means it is wrong for the Atheist Heart book to assert, as it does in this chapter, that claims that science observes reality rest on unjustifiable beliefs.

I labor this pedantic point because the objective of this chapter is to describe the systematic foundations of thought and knowledge, but the authors are a bit too glib in how they proceed in this essential task.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
But you are in entire agreement with these first three assumptions and the non-commandments based on them, correct? Just wanted to be sure that your objection is not more than procedural.



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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Robert Tulip wrote:
There is no arrogance in asserting that the universe really contains many of the features observed by science. But this means it is wrong for the Atheist Heart book to assert, as it does in this chapter, that claims that science observes reality rest on unjustifiable beliefs.


I don't think you're really disagreeing with what they're saying, it's a bit of a semantic issue maybe.

On p.23 they say, "It is not possible to definitively prove that the world we exist in is indeed an external reality."

Don't you agree with this? It is surely logically possible that it's false. They're not saying there is any significant probability that the assumption "An external reality exists" is false. That's why they're making it a starting assumption.

Skipping ahead to the chapter on God, they say: "Even if we were to accept a particular God as a starting assumption, is it possible to live and function without assuming our senses are the only way we perceive reality? Some people can -- and do. But the rational mind cannot."



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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Robert wrote:
I labor this pedantic point because the objective of this chapter is to describe the systematic foundations of thought and knowledge, but the authors are a bit too glib in how they proceed in this essential task.


I was always under the assumption that you agreed that the core of our knowledge must rest upon an assumption. That we can only justify knowledge so far before the attempt breaks down. That at some point, to avoid the infinite regress that would come with endless attempts at justification, we call it stops and accept some basic axiom. An axiom is still a foundation, so the chapter doesn't necessarily fail in its purpose.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Interbane wrote:
Robert wrote:
I labor this pedantic point because the objective of this chapter is to describe the systematic foundations of thought and knowledge, but the authors are a bit too glib in how they proceed in this essential task.

I was always under the assumption that you agreed that the core of our knowledge must rest upon an assumption. That we can only justify knowledge so far before the attempt breaks down. That at some point, to avoid the infinite regress that would come with endless attempts at justification, we call it stops and accept some basic axiom. An axiom is still a foundation, so the chapter doesn't necessarily fail in its purpose.

All I am really noting here is some discomfort at the authors using the phrase "unjustifiable belief" where I would use "axiom". I don’t understand why they say (Kindle 9%) “the only way to justify a particular belief is to start with an unjustifiable belief.”

If we consider Euclidean geometry as the paradigm of systematic logic, then it seems odd to call the assumption that parallel lines never meet an unjustifiable belief. Of course it breaks down if we try to map imagined Euclidean space onto real space-time by using light beams as our model for a straight line. But we can still say Euclid's axioms are justifiable beliefs as analytical definitions of points, lines and planes, and that gravity departs from ideal mathematical space.

I am wondering how this analytical framework of axiomatic logic maps onto the ontological description of reality provided in this book. This chapter goes on to focus on Ockham’s Razor, the principle of simplicity, which indicates that the coherence of scientific knowledge gives us excellent reason to assume that where science hangs together well it is accurate, and where there are uncertainties, like with dark energy, the Big Bang and the reconciliation of relativity and quantum mechanics, there are likely to be major laws at work that our science has not yet discovered.

I feel uncomfortable accepting that their first axioms, “an external reality exists and our senses perceive this reality,” can rightly be called “unjustifiable beliefs”. I think these beliefs are justified by the coherence of the knowledge that rests upon them, and by the fact that our experience would not be possible without them.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Robert wrote:
I feel uncomfortable accepting that their first axioms, “an external reality exists and our senses perceive this reality,” can rightly be called “unjustifiable beliefs”. I think these beliefs are justified by the coherence of the knowledge that rests upon them, and by the fact that our experience would not be possible without them.


I think that position is Coherentism, and is as valid(but perhaps not more valid) than the authors position. The issue traces back to what we consider justification. The conceptual definition of the term is not something that philosophers agree on, and there are issues with every position. Does a coherent web of knowledge justify the axioms it's built upon? You would say yes, others would say that more is needed than merely a coherent web of knowledge, because the standard by which we consider something justified is a high bar to reach. I'm not sure which position is the most popular.

I think you could make the case that an axiom is justified from a moral sense, but that is different from an epistemological sense.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Continuing with this chapter, at 11% I had a problem with the statement “’truth’ is simply an accurate description of what is… reality and truth are the same thing.”

At first glance this definition of truth seems simple and clear. It applies what is known as the correspondence theory of truth, agreement between statement and state, between idea and reality, the equation between thing and intellect.
This theory assumes that truth is solely a function of statements. The problem I have here is that I think that unknown and unknowable states cannot be excluded from the domain of truth. For example a thousand years ago nobody knew that light bent in a gravitational field, but this does not mean that it was not true. The equation theory of truth implies that things only become true when they become explicitly articulated in language, an implication that seems more idealist than realist. The problem here is that unknown truths constantly impinge on what we know. Restricting the domain of truth to what we know is an invalid limitation.

Further, even if we do think that truth is solely a function of description, it is even more wrong to assert that reality is similarly constrained. It is obvious that many real things are indescribable.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Paradox of Belief
Dexter wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
There is no arrogance in asserting that the universe really contains many of the features observed by science. But this means it is wrong for the Atheist Heart book to assert, as it does in this chapter, that claims that science observes reality rest on unjustifiable beliefs.

I don't think you're really disagreeing with what they're saying, it's a bit of a semantic issue maybe.
On p.23 they say, "It is not possible to definitively prove that the world we exist in is indeed an external reality." Don't you agree with this? It is surely logically possible that it's false.
Even though I idle my time away at booktalk.org, I am a serious person. I like booktalk a lot because it is the best place I have encountered for serious dialogue, as a place where I can say what I think without censorship. And that is saying something, namely that more prominent sites do not really encourage dialogue, IMHO.

In responding to Dexter’s very perceptive comment here, I would also like to draw in Interbane’s comment in this thread, “you could make the case that an axiom is justified from a moral sense, but that is different from an epistemological sense.”

I quite understand that most readers will find this obscure, so let me back up.

Dexter asks how we can prove there is an external reality. That is a perfectly reasonable logical question, but once we delve into it, it also has a moral sense, as Interbane alluded. Let’s put this in existential terms of saying that perhaps the reality we all know is an illusion. That means history is an illusion. That opens a path to scepticism and even denial of all broadly accepted scientific and historical facts, from astronomy to evolution to wars to climate science.

Many people will immediately find this offensive, in that it opens a path to questioning of major historical events, such as the Holocaust. Anyone who suggests the Holocaust did not really happen casts themselves as a cranky fascist and idiotic liar and fool. So the general question of whether reality exists runs up against some political views, that yes, reality does exist, and people who question it better watch out for their reputation.

In saying the existence of reality is a serious matter, anyone who doubts major historical events casts themselves as a kook. That illustrates that epistemology also has a moral dimension. The main current focus of this moral dimension is climate science. We are now in the midst of what science terms the sixth planetary extinction event. This means that the catastrophic history of our planet is now in one of its periodic ‘punctuations of equilibrium’, to use a polite euphemism, Another of these punctuations, the end of the Permian era 252 million years ago, impolitely called the Great Dying, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian%E2 ... tion_event involved the extinction of 96% of marine species. Human CO2 emissions are comparable in geological terms to the Permian Extinction. But the fascinating thing is that we don’t know – maybe we have the brains to reverse the extinction and preserve existing biodiversity. To do so would certainly involve a revolutionary global paradigm shift from our current trajectory towards extinction.
Dexter wrote:
They're not saying there is any significant probability that the assumption "An external reality exists" is false. That's why they're making it a starting assumption. Skipping ahead to the chapter on God, they say: "Even if we were to accept a particular God as a starting assumption, is it possible to live and function without assuming our senses are the only way we perceive reality? Some people can -- and do. But the rational mind cannot."

All talk of God is rubbish except as allegory for scientific knowledge. A sensible evolutionary perspective completely rejects all transcendental myths. It is absurd to consider God a starting assumption. The sane assumption is that e=mc2, meaning that energy and matter are the only real truth. Talk of God is only an allegorical pattern within this material context.


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