Author Topic: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?  (Read 1622 times)

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #30 on: September 27, 2018, 07:41:52 AM »
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I accept basic axioms.  1+1=2, plane triangles are 180 degrees, etc.

I think we have to, at the very least, accept the law of identity... otherwise we can't even accept the fact that we exist, let alone objective reality.

Even "I think therefore I am" replies upon "I think=I think", "therefore=therefore" and "I am=I am"... "Cogito, ergo sum." relies on the law of identity.

But of course, this is when we're talking about logical and rational knowledge. In the sense of conscious awareness.... we all know our consciousness exists simply by being aware of it... whether we accept that consciousness=consciousness and awareness=awareness or not. We need the law of identity to prove to another person that they are conscious, but if they are conscious they still know it, in the sense that they are aware of it, whether we can convince them or not.

Hell, if reptiles are semi-conscious then they are at least semi-conscious of their own semi-consciousness. And in that sense they 'know' that they are aware... whether they can articulate it rationally or not.

So... consciousness is the most fundamental starting point of knowledge if by knowledge we are referring to empiricism.... but the law of identity is the most fundamental starting point of knowledge if we're talking of rationalism.

Offline Cavebear

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #31 on: September 27, 2018, 07:44:54 AM »
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I think we have to, at the very least, accept the law of identity... otherwise we can't even accept the fact that we exist, let alone objective reality.

Even "I think therefore I am" replies upon "I think=I think", "therefore=therefore" and "I am=I am"... "Cogito, ergo sum." relies on the law of identity.

But of course, this is when we're talking about logical and rational knowledge. In the sense of conscious awareness.... we all know our consciousness exists simply by being aware of it... whether we accept that consciousness=consciousness and awareness=awareness or not. We need the law of identity to prove to another person that they are conscious, but if they are conscious they still know it, in the sense that they are aware of it, whether we can convince them or not.

Hell, if reptiles are semi-conscious then they are at least semi-conscious of their own semi-consciousness. And in that sense they 'know' that they are aware... whether they can articulate it rationally or not.

So... consciousness is the most fundamental starting point of knowledge if by knowledge we are referring to empiricism.... but the law of identity is the most fundamental starting point of knowledge if we're talking of rationalism.

Oh crap, you are a philosopher! 

Sorry, I'm real.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline SGOS

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #32 on: September 27, 2018, 08:18:56 AM »
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Oh crap, you are a philosopher! 

Sorry, I'm real.
I'm tracking with him pretty well.  I think he's actually saying what you are saying, but explaining with some logical examples.  I would paraphrase his intent by saying 1 + 1 = 2 can be considered philosophy but differs in that it is logical, and not the equivalent of what drunk college students do in their dorm rooms at 2:00 AM while proposing that they have come up with some important philosophical achievement.  You know like, "atoms resemble our solar system with particles swirling about a heavy center.  Therefore, maybe we are just part of some giant frying pan." 

So far, I think he has his feet on the ground, maybe making it more complicated than necessary, which creates kind of an impression that he might suddenly lapse into some esoteric and useless philosophy.  But I think what he says is pretty basic.  I don't think he is questioning identity.  Some people may, but don't assume he is trying to lead you off into a world of absurd confusion.

Offline Cavebear

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #33 on: September 27, 2018, 10:01:00 AM »
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I'm tracking with him pretty well.  I think he's actually saying what you are saying, but explaining with some logical examples.  I would paraphrase his intent by saying 1 + 1 = 2 can be considered philosophy but differs in that it is logical, and not the equivalent of what drunk college students do in their dorm rooms at 2:00 AM while proposing that they have come up with some important philosophical achievement.  You know like, "atoms resemble our solar system with particles swirling about a heavy center.  Therefore, maybe we are just part of some giant frying pan." 

So far, I think he has his feet on the ground, maybe making it more complicated than necessary, which creates kind of an impression that he might suddenly lapse into some esoteric and useless philosophy.  But I think what he says is pretty basic.  I don't think he is questioning identity.  Some people may, but don't assume he is trying to lead you off into a world of absurd confusion.

I respect your opinion,  but philosophy just leaves me laughing.  Beyond "I think, therefore I am.", the rest is pretty much either obvious or silly.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline trdsf

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #34 on: September 27, 2018, 01:30:23 PM »
My favorite definition of philosophy is the one offered by comedian Alexei Sayle: 'picking fights with dead people'.

I generally lose interest when it becomes wooly and waffly.  I like things that can be measured and quantified.  Light with a wavelength of 700nm is measurably that, without any regard as to whether we experience that shade of red the same way.  I call something 'red' and you call it 'orange' and the spectrometer says "It's got a wavelength of 622nm and your names for that aren't relevant."
Sir Terry Pratchett, on being told about the theory that the universe is a computer simulation: "If we all get out and in again, would it start to work properly this time?"

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2018, 01:33:20 PM »
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Oh crap, you are a philosopher! 

Sorry, I'm real.

I'm a philosophizer. I don't have a job as a philosopher. I'm a philosopher if all you mean is that I'm a philosophizer.

Yes, you are real. No need to apologize.

Offline Cavebear

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2018, 01:37:17 PM »
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I'm a philosophizer. I don't have a job as a philosopher. I'm a philosopher if all you mean is that I'm a philosophizer.

Yes, you are real. No need to apologize.

I should be kinder...  Have you ever been on a discussion board before?
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Online Hydra009

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2018, 01:39:36 PM »
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I respect your opinion,  but philosophy just leaves me laughing.  Beyond "I think, therefore I am.", the rest is pretty much either obvious or silly.
Obvious now.  Not obvious then.  Or at least not formalized.

Offline SGOS

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2018, 01:46:56 PM »
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I'm a philosophizer. I don't have a job as a philosopher. I'm a philosopher if all you mean is that I'm a philosophizer.
Some people philosophize.  Other's don't.  Fortunately, you can ignore either group.  Unless, everything is predetermined, and then you're screwed.

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2018, 01:50:50 PM »
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I don't think he is questioning identity.  Some people may, but don't assume he is trying to lead you off into a world of absurd confusion.

Indeed. I was doing the opposite of questioning identity. I was saying that identity is the most important logical axiom of all, because without it, nothing else makes sense logically. And you can't even make a distinction between true and false, or logical and illogical, without first accepting it.

I then went on to say that the only thing that is known even deeper than that is the fact that our own consciousness exists. "I think therefore I am".... but even that requires the law of identity if we are to know it in terms of logic, because we have to assume that I=I and thinking=thinking.

But I also said that to know it empirically, to be aware of our awareness, we don't have to know or accept logic at all. And even animals can do that. So in that sense the ultimate and deepest truth of all is our own consciousness and that can be known even without the law of identity... it just can't be known in terms of logic without the law of identity, because the law of identity is the beginning of logic.

Far from being someone who doesn't even accept objective truth... I believe all truth is objective... and the very meaning of truth already presupposes the law of identity and logic.... so I believe that the logical absolutes are indeed absolute and 100% true and couldn't not be and they'd be true whether I existed or not. And yes, that is because truth presupposes the law of identity, but that doesn't stop it being the most logical axiom to accept. there is no sense in which the logical absolutes can't be true... the only way they can't be true is if nothing is true... which doesn't even make any sense to say. Making sense of anything in logical terms requires the logical absolutes.

I don't know how better to explain it really. Basically, just because we have to use certain definitions before we can make sense of even the law of identity, doesn't mean that we don't even know that the law of identity is true. As, to know anything at all logically, we already have to assume it. So, if we're talking about knowledge, we're already talking about the law of identity, if we're talking about logical knowledge.

Hmm. Let me see if I can try and simplify it even further as that's still probably too convoluted to a lot of people.

Okay how about this: If I say that we have to presuppose the law of identity to even know that we ourselves exist in logical terms and the response we get is "You're saying that you don't know you exist!"... the response to that is for us to say "To even talk of knowledge at all is already to presuppose it. So how can I be saying I don't know something if the whole concept of knowledge only makes sense once I already accept that I know it?". Also, it's important to note that I'm saying that we need to accept the law of identity before we can know that we exist in logical terms. As I already pointed out, even without logic, and without the law of identity, we know that we exist in empirical terms simply by having experiences.... whether we accept that having an experience is having an experience and we are ourselves or not. The law of identity doesn't even need to be accepted in order to know that we exist simply by our being aware of it. We can know that we exist in the empirical sense without any logic at all.

But, in a way, consciousness itself is the beginning of the law of identity. Because the one thing that we intrinsically know exists, is our own existence. Basically, we know our experience simply by having it. That is self referential... and perhaps the law of identity developed out of that.

"Even if the whole of reality exists... my subjective experience exists. The experience I am having is whatever it is. If I call my experience E then E=E."

In order to make sense of our experience in logical terms we have to develop the law of identity, perhaps, rather than presuppose it. Maybe the very reason we develop the law of identity in the first place, then, is the fact that we know that we are having an experience. But again, this would be knowledge in the empirical sense. So logical knowledge may presuppose logical knowledge. But, indeed, to have any logical knowledge at all that at least first presupposes the law of identity.

Hopefully my repetitiousness has made things more clear because if explaining X didn't make say by explaining it one way, perhaps it made sense in a second, third, fourth or fifth way. If none of my explanations make sense to anyone but myself then I don't really know what more I can do really. I'm trying.

But if my views differ from anybody else's, I offer this quotation:

"My aim is not to try to convince anyone of anything, but to record the truth of the matter as far as I can. " - Galen Strawson

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2018, 01:52:14 PM »
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I respect your opinion,  but philosophy just leaves me laughing.  Beyond "I think, therefore I am.", the rest is pretty much either obvious or silly.

I'm not at all surprised that you have this view of philosophy. I've already made an assessment on the logicality (or lack thereof) of your responses to me thus far on this forum, and perhaps a little analytic philosophy (at least) would do you some good.

Fair enough if you're not interested and if it leaves you laughing though. Each to their own.

Offline Cavebear

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2018, 01:53:14 PM »
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Some people philosophize.  Other's don't.  Fortunately, you can ignore either group.  Unless, everything is predetermined, and then you're screwed.

You don't have to be a philosopher to understand reality.  Oh wait, that IS what they argue about.  Cogito ergo sum, and don't kill your neighbor works pretty well.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #42 on: September 27, 2018, 01:53:38 PM »
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I should be kinder...  Have you ever been on a discussion board before?

Yes, I have been on at least one discussion board before.

I haven't seen any unkindness coming from your direction.

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #43 on: September 27, 2018, 01:56:49 PM »
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Some people philosophize.  Other's don't.  Fortunately, you can ignore either group.  Unless, everything is predetermined, and then you're screwed.

I don't think everything is predetermined by some kind of God. It depends what you mean by "predetermined". I don't think that the future is already "out there", and I don't think that it has already happened... as, as far as I am concerned, the future is what will happen but hasn't happened yet. The future is unavoidable and inevitable, but that's true regardless of whether the future is determined or undetermined.

I think that there is exactly one possible future... but that's simply because I think that believing that is more parsimonious than believing that there's more than one possible future. There could easily be more than one possible future . . . but in either case, the future is unavoidable and inevitable, whether it's determined or not. We can't change what will happen into what won't happen any more than we can change what was into what wasn't.

Re: Did you know that mathematics is just a useful fiction?
« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2018, 01:59:37 PM »
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You don't have to be a philosopher to understand reality.  Oh wait, that IS what they argue about.  Cogito ergo sum, and don't kill your neighbor works pretty well.

I'm far more interested in what's correct than what works.

But, as it happens, sometimes the most useful approach in the long run is to not directly seek what's useful, and to instead start with what's true and factual, regardless of utility.

I see that as what I call "the paradox of pragmatism"... where directly trying to be pragmatic ends up being less pragmatic in the long run....

I came up with the name for "the paradox of pragmatism" after seeing it to be analogous with "the paradox of hedonism".... the idea that sometimes the best way to be happy is to not directly aim for happiness.

 

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