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Posts posted by Spearmint

  1. I agree with BreathofLife. To say "things without identity" is presupposing that there are such things, therefore that they are part of existence. If that is so, then they necessarily have identity whether we know it or not.

    This isnt true - describing something does not give it identity or existence. I can talk intelligibly about the pink unicorn in my uncle's garden without presupposing that there is actually such a thing existing. Since identity necessarily entails existence ("to be a thing is to be"), it would follow from your argument that anything we can describe actually exists.

    jrshep - I'm going to bed, I'll reply to your post tomorrow.

  2. Why does this get included in the body of a post whenever I do a quote? (xxxxx is a number).

    edit: eg when quoting a random post I get

    [.quote=stephen_speicher,Aug 9 2004, 08:21 PM]Sorry to start another thread but starting threads is all I can do. Since I switched back to an old skin I cannot reply to any posts. Anyone have a clue as to how to reset things back to the new default skin for the new update GC did?



  3. Let's see. So they would be saying that "subatomic particles" are definitely not subatomic particles?

    Huh? You seem to be confusing use and mention; they would be using the phrase "subatomic particles" to refer to something which they beleive has no definite identity (technically they wouldnt be referring to an actual encountered object, but to a hypothesised/constructed one).

  4. All those "words," and nothing to say or ask?

    Okay, I'll be generous.

    You stated what exactly? That what isn't what, and not that what that is what is what? And you asked what?

    Sure, you can easily say, or mouth (or type), "Existence isn't identity, and not everything that exists has identity." Either you're attempting to make an intelligible claim or assertion about something, to state a truth, or you are just making sounds, in which latter case you can surely understand why I would just dismiss your "expression" as merely meaningless.

    Again, the negation of 'everything has identity' is not 'nothing has identity'. To take a concrete example, if someone were to say that (for instance) subatomic particles have no definite identity, they would not be presupposing the law of identity in doing so.

  5. Maybe so, but there will always be sentimental consumers like us.  :lol:

    I laugh whenever someone claims that actual books are going to go extinct eventually.  Somehow, I really doubt it.  It certainly ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

    Well books are different - reading a physical book is a lot more comfortable than reading a large amount of text on a computer monitor, and then you have the portability issue as well. I doubt that even portable ebook readers would be as nice to read as an actual paper book, although I haven't used one. Also, theres the locatability factor - its a lot easier to find a physical copy of an obscure(ish) book than an e-book version. Although having said that, perhaps something like electronic ink will replace paper books in the future, for popular stuff anyway.

    With music though, the CD is completely redundant (for me anyway). In order to use a CD have to first rip it onto my computer and then download the songs onto my portable mp3 player, after which I can basically throw the CD away (although I'll generally keep it in case I ever reformat). It's quite a hassle, and downloading songs directly is a lot easier. I think a lot of others feel the same, which is why legal downloading services such as iTunes have become so popular.

  6. Steven, I thought more about what it was I was trying to say and realised that I was mistaken. I was subconsiously thinking in terms of a certain model of the universe, even though I actually knew that said model wasnt technically correct. I was essentially viewing the universe as consisting of lots of 'space', in which certain things existed (ie space was a primary). Saying that 'nothing' exists in a given region just meant that there would be no material things occupying that region of space (ie it would be completely empty). Obviously this presupposes a certain view of space which certainly can't be assumed a priori, and (as far as I know) is even invalidated by modern physics.

  7. Basically every denial of the axioms (or of anything for that matter) is of the form: "It's not true," or the skeptic's version, "You can't prove it." In either case, they are identifying something which is not true or which can't be proven. To identify something, it must possess identity. One down, two to go.

    That's not really correct - the denial of "everthing that exists has identity" isnt "everything that exists doesnt havent identity", it is "at least one thing exists without identity". You can deny the law of identity without presupposing it and theres not really any way to demonstrate or prove it to a person who doubts it's truth. If someone refuses to accept it then you've reached a point where you can go no further, and it's probably best not to continue the argument because you can't really reduce things to anything more fundamental.

    People who tend to "disagree" with the law of identity, whom I personally know, wouldn't answer anything like that. In fact, I've heard it said in many places that both (opposing sides) are right in their own way; the clearest example of uttering that A is non A. What then? How to show that this person indeed accepts implicitly that A is A?

    This isnt really a denial of identity. It's possible for 2 sides to be partially right and partially wrong, or to both be correct by different standards. For instance, both 'liberals' and 'conservatives' are partially correct ('conservatives' when they champion the freemarket, 'liberals' when they oppose state religion). It would only be a denial of identity if both sides were in direct contradiction and using the same standard of validation.

  8. We may not know the ultimate cause of gravity yet, but we do know the nature of many, many things in a way that accounts for their actions.

    Yeah, I agree that this is the best way to approach induction ('probabilistic truth until cause has been discovered'), I was just wondering how you would handle a few concrete cases. Thanks.

  9. To put it another way, assume we have a region of space. We systematically remove every atom from this region (using our super powerful futuristic microscopes and atom removers) until there is no matter we know of which is left in this space. Now, there seems to be only 4 possibilities:

    1) This space is empty.

    2) We can never remove all matter from this space, there will always be some matter which eludes us.

    3) There is something in this space that is not matter - it is immaterial and (possibly) ineffable.

    4) There is plenum in this space (this isnt really a seperate option since plenum would have to either be matter or not be matter, and this would hence correspond to either 2) or 3). I'm only including it for the sake of completeness. I suppose that "there is plenum but we do not know whether plenum is matter or not matter - that is for science to decide" would be this option though.).

    I am claiming 1). Which one does your conception of plenum correspond to? I'm not even arguing with you at the moment, I'm trying to clarify what youre actually saying because I am honestly unsure.

  10. For one thing, Hume's point, if I understand it correctly, was that certainty is impossible, not that uncertainty is possible.  Betsy has added the fact to the problem of induction that you can be certain.

    Hume claimed that we only ever witness 2 events happening in sequence, and never the 'necessary connection' between them, therefore we cannot logically justify the claim that these events will always occur together in the future. Betsy, as I understand her, is claiming that causation _is_ this necessary connection, and that once we have grasped this cause we are then entirely justified in claiming that these events will always occur together, due to the law of identity. I'm not entirely sure what "grasping this cause" consists of however, since we technically havent grasped the cause of why apples fall to the ground, or the cause of the majority of things which we witness in daily life.

    If I've mistated Betsy's position I'm sure she will correct me.

  11. I am only at the level of "something" makes things fall down, mathematical descriptions of the behavior which hold experimentally with an extremely high degree of probability, etc.

    Fortunately, that is sufficient for my purposes.

    But isnt this essentially what Hume said? I'm unsure of what you've actually added - a solution to the problem of induction which means that I only have a "high degree of probability" that an apple I drop will fall doesnt seem to have advanced us much further beyond Hume's "custom and habit"...

    To borrow an example Fred Weiss often uses, we surely _know_ for certain that a cow wont jump over the moon. If our induction only gives us a 'high degree of probability" that it won't, due to us not knowing how gravity actually works, then surely this is not the case?

  12. As I explained before, the plenum means that the universe is full, there are no gaps, no places where existence is not. No "empty space."

    But is plenum something that exists within a region of space? I mean if we removed all known things from a region of space, would there still be 'plenum' there? Does plenum exist in the same space occupied by a tree, or is it displaced when a physical object enters the space? Or is it some kind of category mistake to think of it as being an existing thing which 'occupies' space? Or is plenum not actually an entity, but a shorthand way of saying that all space must be occupied by 'something'?

  13. Well, I'll give you this much: at least you are consistent. It makes perfect sense that here you grant metaphysical significance to "empty space," and in another thread you granted epistemological value to the arbitrary.

    That leaves ethics, esthetics, and politics. I'll wait.

    I disagree with a lot of (what I understand as) Objectivist epistemology at present. I'm not quite sure how much since I seem to have misunderstood most of it the first time I read it around a year ago, and I'm going through it again to try and get things worked out. I was under the impression that I agreed with the metaphysics until this thread, although I think this is due to a misunderstanding somewhere as I find the idea of 'nothing' existing to be nonsensical. I'm in agreement with the ethics and politics, and I'm undecided on esthetics (I think most of what Rand wrote on the subject was correct, I'm just not sure that it applies to the whole sphere of what I would call art). I don't claim to be an Objectivist.

    I'm not sure why I bothered posting this since you probably dont care.

  14. A baby observes that his mother is his mother, his fist is his fist, his crib is his crib, milk is milk, etc.  That's how he learns identity.

    So the baby does all this without knowing any principles of logic? If we distinguish between 'knowledge-that', and 'knowledge-how', the baby has 'knowledge-how' to identify things, but not knowledge of what he is doing? Then when he gets older he is able to identify what he is doing, and formulate it as a formal principle (the law of identity)?

  15. We can do that in the abstract, as in a mathematical coordinate system, but not in the physical world. What would it mean to say that there is a distance between two objects, but that there is literally nothing that exists within the area separating those objects? If nothing existed between the two objects, then they would not be separated.

    But there is something between them, there is empty space. It just doesnt contain anything, on account of being empty.

  16. So, I guess, to clarify, the question is, do you think that it is possible to have some "region of space" where nothing exists?

    I believe its possible to have a region of space which contains no existing thing. I would absolutely deny that this is equivalent to the claim that some 'nothing' exists within the space in the sense I think you mean. 'Nothing' is not a thing. I'm essentially in agreement with what Travis P said in the post just above yours.

  17. Who is this "we" you talking for? I hope that the "we" is not meant to speak for either Objectivism or science.

    By 'we' I mean the majority of speakers of the English language. I've no idea what science says about it but I dont think its particularly relevant here - if I instead said that "there is nothing inside this paper bag" the same would apply - I'm not claiming that there is an actual thing called 'nothing' that exists inside the bag.

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