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Existence and Similarity

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The following relates to our long discussion of universals on another thread. But I'm starting fresh with an idea about the nature of existence and the fundamental basis of similarity. I propose that similarity is naturally rooted in the existence of two entirely different types of existents: space and matter.

Space exists, and matter exists. Space is not matter, and matter is not space. Space is not material, and matter is not incorporeal. Space is indivisible. Matter can be divided into pieces.

Space must exist, otherwise there would be no place in which matter could move. If all existence consisted of matter, there would simply be one solid, immovable mass. Space is the entirely immaterial medium in which material moves from place to place. There would be no such thing as place (or location) without such space occupied by material objects.

Space cannot be divided or displaced by matter, because it contains no material to be moved by a material object affecting it. (A section of space has a "location" only in relation to a material object.) Rather, space is the fundamental, matterless medium for all material things in existence. Space is inside and outside all material things, providing an unbounded place for matter to exist.

The only commonality between space and matter is the fact of their existence. And because existence consists of these two basic types of existence, similarity can be observed at the base of reality. We can see that there is a space and there is a thing. They are similar in that they are, that they exist. Yet they are dissimilar in that one is not a thing, and the other is a thing. In other words, one is no-thing, the other some-thing. It isn't until much later, after lots of thought, that one realizes space must be some sort of medium, rather than a literal zero. Space, however, is as close as existence can get to nonexistence, which helps explain why many people to this day believe in nothingness.

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

Space must exist, otherwise there would be no place in which matter could move. If all existence consisted of matter, there would simply be one solid, immovable mass.

Respectfully, this seems a little rationalistic. Why couldn't the particles rotate around one another within the solid mass to move?

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18 minutes ago, William O said:

Respectfully, this seems a little rationalistic. Why couldn't the particles rotate around one another within the solid mass to move?

What particles? Where's the individuation of matter if there is no space?

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1 hour ago, William O said:

 

Respectfully, this seems a little rationalistic. Why couldn't the particles rotate around one another within the solid mass to move?

Your retort to

Reality “couldn’t” be some particular kind of thing it actually is not

with

Why couldn’t reality be that particular thing which it actually is not?

 

Perhaps we should all consider that reality is what it is and cannot (and could not) be not what it is not.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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On 11/21/2020 at 4:10 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Perhaps we should all consider that reality is what it is and cannot (and could not) be not what it is not.

I know it might seem silly to consider reality being a completely solid mass (and then consider how such a solid mass could still have movement). It can sound like an exercise in imagination. But even the silliness can get at something even by reasoning why it might be incorrect, and not using bad reasons to say it is incorrect.

Check out between 44-47 minutes. This discussion in the thread is is close to what Peikoff discusses about Parmenides. 

https://courses.aynrand.org/campus-courses/unity-in-epistemology-and-ethics/knowledge-as-a-unity/

I think it's fine to point out that the reasoning in the OP is rationalistic because it presupposes how movement is supposed to work, despite *beginning*with how the universe is constituted. So yeah, we could just say the mass itself moves on its own and internally, and then the rest of the argument falls apart.

More on to why it is wrong, it's hard to say. But the lecture is really good for thinking about how we can know the way the universe is constituted (pluralism versus monism, in particular)

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12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

So yeah, we could just say the mass itself moves on its own and internally, and then the rest of the argument falls apart.

You could say the mass "moves" without explaining how, but I still don't understand what would be moving if there were nothing but an absolute material solidity.

Also, what do you mean by "internal"? If there is no external, there is no internal. There is only an absolute material solidity. It's hard to describe, because I don't think such a thing exists or makes logical sense. Yet that appears to be the necessary conclusion of materialism.

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17 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Also, what do you mean by "internal"? If there is no external, there is no internal.

Admittedly I didn't think very hard about that part of my response, just get rid of the word internal, it's redundant. The point is that you presupposed how movement works in that world despite trying to conclude movement doesn't work in that world. "Solid" also presupposes a lot. 

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Movement of all kinds, including rotation and revolution, occurs within space.  If there is no space, there can be no movement.  If there were matter without space, it would be very different from matter within space.  

If "internal" and "external" are being used in a spacial sense, they only apply to existents in space.

If "internal" and "external" are being used in a non-spacial sense, it would be a good idea to define them.

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

The point is that you presupposed how movement works in that world despite trying to conclude movement doesn't work in that world. "Solid" also presupposes a lot. 

True. I'm only familiar with solids and movement in this world. So I'm at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding the physics of the other world.

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I mean, I guess that was a little sarcastic on your part, but you're using counterfactual thinking to come up with true principles. It's fine to do, but you do it, you need to be very careful about what you presuppose. By coming up with counterfactuals, it's a way to figure out the assumptions you may be using to figure out how the world actually is.

 

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

By coming up with counterfactuals, it's a way to figure out the assumptions you may be using to figure out how the world actually is.

My counterfactual is the idea that movement would be impossible if existence consisted only of matter. Therefore, perhaps I'm assuming that there is more to existence than matter. Is that along the lines of what you mean?

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Something along those lines. The counterfactual itself is the world where only matter exists, nothing else. A complete and unitary whole. But this can be problematic. What does it mean to be a completely unitary object? Why can't there be sections within the unity? We know that matter consists of particles that contain space within them, so do you mean something else by matter than what a physicist means? From this, you might be better able to consider what space is in reality, and what unity is in reality. 

The lecture I linked explains exactly how the universe is a unity and connected without going to saying "movement is impossible" or "space is a medium". 

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

We know that matter consists of particles that contain space within them, so do you mean something else by matter than what a physicist means?

Here aren't you describing an "object" or a "body"? Matter is matter. It's material, tangible. An object or body is composed of matter and the spaces within the object or body. But I don't think a physicist would say that matter consists of particles. It's the other way around. Particles consist of the matter and the spaces within the body of the particle.

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On 11/21/2020 at 10:16 AM, MisterSwig said:

But I'm starting fresh with an idea about the nature of existence

Can you say in what sense are you using the word "existence" as in:

1. The fact that x exists vs. it not existing

2. The sum total of everything, as in all there is

Because existence as a sum total, as in "all" or "everything", is the unity or singleton out there. There is no nature of "everything" as in "what causes it" or "where did it come from". It just is.

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23 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Can you say in what sense are you using the word "existence" as in:

1. The fact that x exists vs. it not existing

2. The sum total of everything, as in all there is

As in #1. Though confusion creeps in because we normally think of X in terms of things or entities that exist with attributes and parts and relationships.

23 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Because existence as a sum total, as in "all" or "everything", is the unity or singleton out there. There is no nature of "everything" as in "what causes it" or "where did it come from". It just is.

I agree. Actually, I'm not a fan of the "unity" idea. I don't conceive of existence as an object or totality. That's why I don't like the word "universe." I think it assumes more than can be logically proven.

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3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I agree. Actually, I'm not a fan of the "unity" idea. I don't conceive of existence as an object or totality. That's why I don't like the word "universe." I think it assumes more than can be logically proven.

I know it might sound repetitive here, but have you listened to the lecture? I mean, Peikoff doesn't argue that existence should be conceived of as an object (although I personally have argued that it should be), but he certainly argues for existence as a totality. 

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I know it might sound repetitive here, but have you listened to the lecture?

Thanks for reminding me, I meant to respond earlier. Yes, I listened to the lecture, a couple times now.

Around the 14-minute mark Peikoff discusses the etymology of "universe." He knows there is a problem with it, so he redefines the word specially for his own purpose. That might be fine to do, except his new definition doesn't make sense to me. He describes it as "all the parts turned into a single entity." That sounds like he's describing an object to me, a "whole with parts." Looking at the Lexicon entries under "universe," Peikoff brushes aside "what is outside the universe?" as an invalid question. Yet Rand refers to "elements within the universe." If there is a "within," what's so invalid about a without? Again, are we talking about an object here or not?

Incidentally professor B questions Rand on this in the ITOE workshops, and she backs off on calling the universe an "entity." (p. 273 in the Expanded 2nd Edition) So I'm not sure why Peikoff retained the idea. Though Rand did keep calling the universe a "whole." A whole what? I don't know.

As for Parmenides and the plenum, Peikoff doesn't mention (in that lecture at least) that the principle led Parmenides to conclude that movement was impossible and change was therefore mere appearance not reality. So one thing I can say for Parmenides is that he was consistent in his application of the idea. Peikoff seems to want his plenum and his motion too.

Edited by MisterSwig
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3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

That sounds like he's describing an object to me, a "whole with parts."

I agree that this is the implication, but I would say it's a correct conclusion.

3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

If there is a "within," what's so invalid about a without? Again, are we talking about an object here or not?

"Within" only implies that there are parts of a whole. There might be an outside of the parts, but not of the whole. I don't see why you would think within implies that there is an outside.

4 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Though Rand did keep calling the universe a "whole." A whole what? I don't know.

A totality where all the pieces have an impact on every other piece. I don't know you mean a "whole what", especially since you listened to the lecture. The question is answered repeatedly over and over in different ways.

Can you ask your question in a different way?

4 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Peikoff seems to want his plenum and his motion too.

I think it's fine to say that space is a characteristic of existence (characteristics don't have to be concretes or parts, they are neither). Definitely not fine to call it a medium. When there are parts, there is no issue.

 

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On 11/27/2020 at 8:32 AM, Eiuol said:

"Within" only implies that there are parts of a whole. There might be an outside of the parts, but not of the whole.

A whole is its parts. So if there might be an outside of the parts, that means there might be an outside of some part of the whole. How would you differentiate between a part whose outside is outside the whole versus a part whose outside is inside the whole?

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

How would you differentiate between a part whose outside is outside the whole versus a part whose outside is inside the whole?

There is no part outside the whole, if by whole we mean existence. The question doesn't make sense. You know that the other parts are part of the same hole because there is something that unites or integrates them - a universal (the integration is a mental act, so the thing that does the uniting is epistemic). At the very least, everything that exists is part of the whole because, well, they exist, meaning they have identity.

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If there is an outside to a whole, then the whole is also a part of something. 

"Existence" is the whole in question, so you are really just saying that you want proof that there is no plane of existence outside the plane of existence that you experience. I don't see what's wrong with calling reality a whole if the widest abstraction is existence, and if abstractions are in part integrations. Being able to integrate everything into the abstraction existence presumes that you can unite everything. If you couldn't unite them, the abstraction existence would be invalid, a misintegration. You might prefer the word unity for all these reasons.

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36 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Being able to integrate everything into the abstraction existence presumes that you can unite everything.

What are you integrating?

If you only integrate objects, then your idea of existence should resemble an object.

If you integrate objects and space, then your idea of existence should not go beyond that which is, or that which exists, because space is not an object.

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

If you integrate objects and space, then your idea of existence should not go beyond that which is, or that which exists, because space is not an object.

You integrate everything, and I mean everything. If you integrate only (the perception of; keep in mind that of course you aren't integrating physical things as if you actually glue them together) concretes, then your idea of existence would only consist of concretes. If you want a whole, you need even the characteristics. So then you make abstractions of abstractions. You integrate those together as well. The only way we could keep integrating everything there is, something must be uniting them, and that thing is the fact of their existence (in the sense that existence is presupposed in every single thing that you ever say and think). 

Space is an abstraction of an abstraction. Existence is still a unity because the concretes are related to another in a way that they operate together rather than by separate rules. And then the characteristics of those concretes are part of that unity. 

It just goes weird when you say that space has to be a medium, a substance of some kind is the implication. All you really explained is that a purely physical dimension without even characteristics of concretes is pretty senseless (literally and figuratively), and doesn't even permit movement, or in fact any kind of change. 

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On 11/30/2020 at 6:17 PM, Eiuol said:

Space is an abstraction of an abstraction.

How do you define space? I don't think of space as an abstraction. The abstraction is a section of space relative to objects. Space, however, is real but not an object.

Imagine an early scientist who sees sections of earth and concludes there must be an earth, even though he hasn't seen the whole thing from space. Likewise I see sections of space and conclude there must be a space, except I don't think it's possible to see the whole thing, because it's not a whole thing like earth. I don't think the concept "whole" applies to space.   

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