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Berkely's argument in support of God.

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Nicko0301
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Berkely argued that "to be is to be perceived"; and that, when things are not so perceived, they continue to exist because God, being ubiquitous, perceives all that exists simultaneously.

Firstly: What do you think of this argument?

Secondly (and this is a question with which I have grappled for months): How do we know that things exist prior to perceiving them? How do we know that the act of perception does not somehow change the identity of things?

Thanks in advance. :D

Edited by Nicko0301
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My understanding of Berkeley's argument is that he assumed (or wanted to assume) that things only exist when they are perceived - so in order for things to continue existing even when they are not being perceived by any human, someone else must do the perceiving. That someone he defined as God.

His claim is arbitrary and should be rejected as such.

As for your second questions - there is no conceivable means by which perception changes objects, so the claim that objects are physically changed by perception is...... arbitrary.

You are essentially asking to prove the axiom of existence, which cannot be done. The axiom can be validated by observing reality, but it is not possible to prove. But because it is axiomatic, any claim that existence is not independent of consciousness must necessarily depend on the very same axiom it attempts to refute.

Edited by brian0918
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Berkeley's argument was about God, but God can be dropped in the Copenhagen/quantum mechanics version of this fallacy.

It is false. Because it is about such a deep issue, proving it is false is tricky, and strictly speaking impossible. We now know it is false because of a very compact argument: It contradicts the primacy of existence principle. Primacy of existence is axiomatic, not proven but validated.

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Berkeley's argument was about God, but God can be dropped in the Copenhagen/quantum mechanics version of this fallacy.

It is false. Because it is about such a deep issue, proving it is false is tricky, and strictly speaking impossible. We now know it is false because of a very compact argument: It contradicts the primacy of existence principle. Primacy of existence is axiomatic, not proven but validated.

Excuse me if this sounds foolish, but, in this context, what is the distinction between "proven" and "valid"?

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Excuse me if this sounds foolish, but, in this context, what is the distinction between "proven" and "valid"?

Validating is observing the existence of something. Proving involves integrating that thing int`1o a more fundamental understanding.

I can validate that a triangle has 3 sides by drawing a bunch of them and observing that they always have 3 sides. I can prove triangles have 3 sides by using fundamental mathematical rules.

I can validate an axiom by observing what the axiom claims. I cannot validate an axiom, as it is the most fundamental rule on which everything else in philosophy is built.

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I can validate an axiom by observing what the axiom claims. I cannot validate an axiom, as it is the most fundamental rule on which everything else in philosophy is built.

I think you mean " I can validate ... I cannot prove ..."

Lexicon: Validation

“Validation” in the broad sense includes any process of relating mental contents to the facts of reality. Direct perception, the method of validating axioms, is one such process. “Proof” designates another type of validation. Proof is the process of deriving a conclusion logically from antecedent knowledge.
edit: There is nothing antecedent to existence, thus the designation of it as a primary, and its relation to all other ideas as one of primacy. ("Primacy" does not simply mean "important", it has a technical meaning.)

As an example:

Primacy of Existence cannot be proven

A. Proof cannot begin by premising facts external to consciousness because that begs the question.

B. Proof cannot begin by premising facts about consciousness as that contradicts the thesis that facts external to consciousness must be known first before awareness of awareness is possible.

C. There are no other kinds of premises.

D. Primacy of Existence cannot be a conclusion.

E. "P of E" is self-evident not arbitrary or an act of faith.

F. "P of E" is axiomatic because existence is implicit in any and all instances of awareness, any attempt to deny it affirms it.

G. The third person external perspective when used to explain consciousness is implicitly a primacy of existence perspective.

Primacy of Consciousness cannot be proven

A. Proof cannot begin by premising facts external to consciousness because that contradicts the thesis.

B. Proof cannot begin by premising facts about consciousness as that begs the question.

C. There are no other kinds of premises.

D. Primacy of Consciousness cannot be a conclusion.

E. "P of C" is not self-evident, it relies on prior a metaphysical dualism, a theory.

F. "P of C" is not axiomatic because "A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something." That other something is necessarily first, the true primacy.

G. The third person external perspective when used to explain consciousness is implicitly a (contradictory) primacy of existence perspective.

Edited by Grames
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Berkely argued that "to be is to be perceived"; and that, when things are not so perceived, they continue to exist because God, being ubiquitous, perceives all that exists simultaneously.

Firstly: What do you think of this argument?

Secondly (and this is a question with which I have grappled for months): How do we know that things exist prior to perceiving them? How do we know that the act of perception does not somehow change the identity of things?

Thanks in advance. :)

To be clear, the above is not an argument, it is just a statement or a conclusion of his argument. I think Berkeley's statement is bogus.

The statement depends upon one's view of existence and consciousness. Does consciousness create existence or does it simply perceive it? Is existence independent of consciousness with consciousness simply being an attribute of certain entities? What allows God to continue to exist? Is there another perceiver perceiving him? If you've determined what the identity of something is, then you must have already perceived it (or conceived it). So, any effect of such perception is already part of the identification process since the process of perception also has identity. Also, what do you mean by the "identity of things"? Things as they are not perceived or perceivable, that is, things in themselves?

Edited by A is A
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  • 2 weeks later...

Ill post my question in here since it is related;

What do Schrodinger's cat and the double slit experiment mean if reality truly is independent of conscious observation? How do we explain quantum mechanics while validating primacy of existence? Would it be that existence still exists even if it's form has not yet been perceived (i.e. the atoms are there, even though we have not observed their structure)?

I dislike the realm of quantum physics. Too many new age spiritualists try to use it to "prove" god exists. I do believe that the above god statement is bogus because it seems to reach back into the dark ages when things we could not scientifically explain were mystical entities. Uncertainty and god are not the same thing.

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I dislike the realm of quantum physics. Too many new age spiritualists try to use it to "prove" god exists. I do believe that the above god statement is bogus because it seems to reach back into the dark ages when things we could not scientifically explain were mystical entities. Uncertainty and god are not the same thing.

That is not the fault of the physicists. It is woo woo mystics trying to hitch a ride on the back of quantum physics. Quantum electrodynamics is a field theory which describes all physical phenomena out side the atomic nucleus except gravitation. It predicts accurately to 12 decimal places and has never been falsified experimentally.

To get inside the nucleus one needs quantum chromodynamics which deals with quarks and anti-quarks. The two theories (chromodynamics and electrodyanmics) describe three of the four know interactions - electromagnetic, weak and strong. They are joined in the Standard Model of Particles and Fields which is the most comprehensive verified theory for non-gravitational phenomena. It has never been empirically falsified but there are some "holes" which the folks at CERN hope to fill, such as detecting the Higgs Boson which is the particle that imparts mass to those particles which have mass. Time will tell. If they find the Higgs Boson at CERN that will pretty well nail down the Standard Model. Unfortunately the Standard Model does not deal with the fourth natural interaction -- gravity. For that the best theory available is Einstein's General Theory of Relativity which has a very different character from the quantum theories.

There are two benchmarks for a physical theory - first, that it is internally consistent and second that it predicts correctly and is not empirically falsified. A further feature, that it apply to a wide variety of phenomena is a plus. The quantum physical theories noted above win on all benchmark scores.

Regardless of your feelings about the mystics and some of the anti-intuitive "weirdness" of the theories, they are the best physical theories ever produced by members of the human race. The theories are definitely anti-common sense, but that has been true of physics for the last 125 years. Obvious, intuitively comfortable mechanistic theories simply do not describe the atomic and sub-atomic domain of existence. Over a century of supporting evidence and not a particle of refuting empirical evidence is a good track record. In addition to which all of the advanced electronic technology we possess cannot be explained outside of quantum physics. Even atoms require quantum physics. In classical Maxwellian electrodynamics the atom cannot exist. In the classical Maxwell theory the electrons whizzing about the nucleus will dissipate their energy and collapse onto the nucleus in about 10^-11 seconds. Such does not happen.

Bob Kolker

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Berkely argued that "to be is to be perceived"; and that, when things are not so perceived, they continue to exist because God, being ubiquitous, perceives all that exists simultaneously.

Firstly: What do you think of this argument?

Secondly (and this is a question with which I have grappled for months): How do we know that things exist prior to perceiving them? How do we know that the act of perception does not somehow change the identity of things?

Thanks in advance. :lol:

I've never read Berkeley's argument directly, but I assume he was intelligent enough to give some rebuttal to the inevitable "Who perceives God" question? If that is the case, what is his answer?

Anyway, besides an argument within his metaphysical framework, the argument and framework is essentially insane, as is all of Berkeley's philosophy.

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That is not the fault of the physicists. It is woo woo mystics trying to hitch a ride on the back of quantum physics. Quantum electrodynamics is a field theory which describes all physical phenomena out side the atomic nucleus except gravitation. It predicts accurately to 12 decimal places and has never been falsified experimentally.

The equations are supremely predictive, nobody disagrees with that. The fundamental conceptual framework, though, is atrociously incomprehensible. It cannot be explained, because it is not understood. That does not prevent us from taking advantage of the technological implications, though it may hinder future understanding and integration. Until quantum theory can do more than reify abstract concepts, it is merely a series of equations looking for a philosophical grounding.

Edited by brian0918
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. Until quantum theory can do more than reify abstract concepts, it is merely a series of equations looking for a philosophical grounding.

And also making us wealthy, healthy and comfortable. Look at the cash value of the technology that is derived from the theory. If that is "merely" I want lots more "merely".

The cash value of science is the technology it produces.

Bob Kolker

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And also making us wealthy, healthy and comfortable. Look at the cash value of the technology that is derived from the theory. If that is "merely" I want lots more "merely".

The cash value of science is the technology it produces.

Bob Kolker

Certainly, but as I said, future development depends on correctly understanding what we presently claim to "know". If you have the proper equations, but no understanding of what they actually mean, then you're not going to be able to advance beyond the technology that those present equations allow you to produce.

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What grounds an abstraction is not another abstraction, even philosophy, but reality.

Obviously. Now, what is real about a "field"? What does that word mean, and how is it grounded in reality?

To claim that a field is a real physical thing, rather than an abstract concept, is to make the same mistake that QM theorists did in reifying probability, or in asserting primacy of consciousness.

Nobody is denying that great technology is still on the horizon, but such mistakes in understanding will eventually stunt further development.

Edited by brian0918
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Obviously. Now, what is real about a "field"? What does that word mean, and how is it grounded in reality?

To claim that a field is a real physical thing, rather than an abstract concept, is to make the same mistake that QM theorists did in reifying probability, or in asserting primacy of consciousness.

Nobody is denying that great technology is still on the horizon, but such mistakes in understanding will eventually stunt further development.

What makes a field real is the physical quantity measured at each point in space. A scalar field such as a temperature field is an abstraction justified by the reality of temperature. Force fields of the fundamental physical forces are necessarily real entities possessing energy and momentum, unless you are willing to give up on the conservation laws governing those two attributes.

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Schrodinger's cat

That example was created exactly to point out that it is absurd to consider that a particle can be decayed and not decayed at the same time, only "choosing" a state when it is observed (i.e. the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics). A cat is alive or it is dead. A particle is decayed or is not. Whether you know the state of the particle or not, whether you can know the state of the particle or not, it has a state (existence is identity).

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That example was created exactly to point out that it is absurd to consider that a particle can be decayed and not decayed at the same time, only "choosing" a state when it is observed (i.e. the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics). A cat is alive or it is dead. A particle is decayed or is not. Whether you know the state of the particle or not, whether you can know the state of the particle or not, it has a state (existence is identity).

Im not sure why I couldn't make that connection before. Thanks.

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Are you asserting that space is a real physical thing? You cannot simultaneously deny the physical existence of space, and assert that space has something physically measurable about it.

Yes. I endorse full-plenum metaphysics, space is not actually an empty void. I currently would go so far as to say space does not have fields, space is fields.

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Yes. I endorse full-plenum metaphysics, space is not actually an empty void. I currently would go so far as to say space does not have fields, space is fields.

How could one go about connecting the plenum notion of space to, say, Big Bang inflation, in which "space itself" was supposed to have expanded (at faster than the speed of light)? If space is just particles bumping into eachother, how does space "expand" without causing physical particles to travel faster than c?

Edited by brian0918
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How could one go about connecting the plenum notion of space to, say, Big Bang inflation, in which "space itself" was supposed to have expanded (at faster than the speed of light)? If space is just particles bumping into eachother, how does space "expand" without causing physical particles to travel faster than c?

Hell I don't know. I will note the wiki article posits inflaton fields, not particles. Your question also has the problem that when space is expanding the physical objects within it do not travel greater than c in their local frame of reference even if it appears to be greater than c from an omniscient viewpoint. There is no special relativity violation.

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I'm still not getting what a "field" is. A field of what? Of measurements? The examples you give of temperature and force depend on the presence of particles to convey that energy and motion. But the effects of fields in "empty" space - e.g. virtual particles, vacuum energy, etc - how are those to be understood? Are we simply measuring the effects of particles we have yet to discover?

And if you believe the plenum notion, then "empty" space must actually be completely full of particles. Saying "space is fields" does not make it any more physical, since a "field" is also an abstract concept - we do measurements at various points in empty space, and abstract from that the concept of a field - it exists in our minds as a mental picture of a 3D volume with values at different points in the volume.

Edited by brian0918
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I'm still not getting what a "field" is. A field of what? Of measurements?
A field of some existent, with an intrinsic attribute comprising its identity.

The examples you give of temperature and force depend on the presence of particles to convey that energy and motion.
So? Measurements always require two of something, that does not transform the intrinsic character of the attribute being measured into a relative attribute.

But the effects of fields in "empty" space - e.g. virtual particles, vacuum energy, etc - how are those to be understood? Are we simply measuring the effects of particles we have yet to discover?
I don't know.

And if you believe the plenum notion, then "empty" space must actually be completely full of particles.
I like fields because then space does not have to be full of particles to avoid the problem of a void. At least one particle we know of (photon) is a field and nothing else. Perhaps more are. Perhaps they all have field equivalents.

Saying "space is fields" does not make it any more physical, since a "field" is also an abstract concept - we do measurements at various points in empty space, and abstract from that the concept of a field - it exists in our minds as a mental picture of a 3D volume with values at different points in the volume.

Force fields are abstract only because we cannot perceive them directly. They are real entities, they are physical. If they were not physical they would have no measurable effects on anything. Fields make space physical.

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