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"If a tree falls in a forest ... does it make a sound?"

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Dante hit it on the rhetorical head, with more operatic grace than I could muster.

The problem he points out: mistaking cognitive process (i.e. individual volitional consciousness), for that which is cognitively processed (i.e. identifiable perceptual entities).

The question attempts to invert the relationship between Epistemology and Metaphysics, as do all such attempts to conflate process and data, i.e. to make Consciousness somehow prior to Existence. A process with nothing to process is nothing.

I am a verb.

Existence provides the nouns on which I operate, with respect to which I relate. That is why I must receive sensory signals in order to become aware of anything. Unity is plural, and at minimum Two.

"If a tree falls in a forest" means "Assume that a tree (as you define the word "tree") falls in a forest (as you define the word "forest")".

"Does it make a sound?" means "Does it create changes in its environment that would be observable by an entity equipped to observe them?", or perhaps more specifically, using the definition of sound popular in physics today, "Does it produce sound waves that propagate outward volumetrically such that, if there were a sensor capable of noting the vibrational frequencies, then a conscious being could use that sensor to record the sound-content of the event of the tree falling?"

I think that is specific enough.

The question is Metaphysical, and relates to the Law of Identity: Existence is Identity. It is in the identity of a tree, as I define the word-concept "tree", to have mass which must concuss any objects upon which it falls due to the gravitationally generated momentum accumulated via falling; I cannot imagine a tree not behaving this way, and every tree I know would have so behaved. The concussion is naturally propagated by the receiving entities. If a proper sound sensor is in the vicinity, and their is (at least) a gas forming a sound bridge, then as a consequence of the concussion, volumetric pressure changes will be detectable, i.e., sound will be detected by the listening device (which also follows its nature).

The falling tree concusses whatever it lands on. This concussion causes volumetric distortions away from equilibrium, which lead to vibrational patterns of pressure in the concussed entities (there are at least two such entities, the tree and whatever it hits) -- i.e., sound. That is metaphysical fact, according to standard definitions of the words used, scientifically verifiable by any human who cares to expend the effort.

Now, if no conscious being is affected by that sound in any way, then who cares? That is the epistemological value of the question: zero.

Moving on?

- ico

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Funny thought: Arrange a line of detectors radially outward from the tree, spaced at equal intervals of 1 meter, so that detector 0 is as close as possible to the falling tree, detector 1 is 1 meter out from detector 0, and etc. Then, for some N, detector N-1 will note the sound from the tree, but detector N will not (assuming finite detector sensitivity, law of identity applied to the detector technology used).

So, if detectors 0 thru N-1 happen to be off, the tree doesn't make a sound, eh?

Hmmm?

- ico

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"If a tree falls in a forest" means "Assume that a tree (as you define the word "tree") falls in a forest (as you define the word "forest")".

"Does it make a sound?" means "Does it create changes in its environment that would be observable by an entity equipped to observe them?", or perhaps more specifically, using the definition of sound popular in physics today, "Does it produce sound waves that propagate outward volumetrically such that, if there were a sensor capable of noting the vibrational frequencies, then a conscious being could use that sensor to record the sound-content of the event of the tree falling?" .........

Can I take all these big words to mean that you agree with what I said here?:

The question is meant to bring up questions such as, how do we know things behave the same way when no one is looking? Or, in other words more philosophical attempts to drive a wedge between perception and reality, severing any chance at objectivity or certainty at the root. The way I look at it is this: A concept refers to its referents and all their characteristics, one of the characteristics of a tree is that if it falls it makes a sound. In other words, this debate stems from the "reasoning" that Peikoff blasts in "The Analytic Synthetic Dichotomy".

Im just curious to see if you see the connection to the dichotomy with regard to the need for splitting the characteristics of a thing into separate groups (or outright ignoring characteristics) in order for the question to be answered.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Can I take all these big words to mean that you agree with what I said here?:

Im just curious to see if you see the connection to the dichotomy with regard to the need for splitting the characteristics of a thing into separate groups (or outright ignoring characteristics) in order for the question to be answered.

Nope. If you can't parse the English I write, then don't pretend to guess what it means. Or, if you aren't guessing, then I guess I have communicated so why obliquely malign my usage?

Not sure what you are asking in the second sentence. I THINK you are asking if I must analyze experience into related subsets in each and every exercise of focus, to which a reasonable answer is "Sure ... why not?".

- ico

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Nope. If you can't parse the English I write, then don't pretend to guess what it means. Or, if you aren't guessing, then I guess I have communicated so why obliquely malign my usage?

Not sure what you are asking in the second sentence. I THINK you are asking if I must analyze experience into related subsets in each and every exercise of focus, to which a reasonable answer is "Sure ... why not?".

It was an honest question. Expecting an honest answer, free of your unrelenting pretentiousness was irrational of me.

moving on.

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It was an honest question. Expecting an honest answer, free of your unrelenting pretentiousness was irrational of me.

moving on.

I don't see why you label that which you don't understand to be "pretentious", as rationalization for not taking the time to understand it (hey, it probably isn't worth your time anyhow). On the other hand, if by "pretentious" you mean "characterized by assumption of dignity or importance", well then, yes, thank you very much. I DO consider myself important, and assume a corresponding air. Why not? I am a selfish objectivist, after all.

- ico

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