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    (Original post by Calvin)
    *One shakey hand strays towards a book by Sartre* ...please!
    Hehe, i did my A2 synoptic module on Sartre's Existentialism and Humanism, i've not read Being and Nothingness yet though.
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    Hi, can I join?

    I've just finished doing AS Philosophy and am about to start A2 and I love it I've got a few books on the go (On Liberty, Thus Spake Zarathustra)... I don't know what else you want know!! :p:
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    Hello new people *waves*
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Hmmm... coherent-for-you is different to coherent-for-me perhaps?

    I think the real coherentist answer would be that there is disagreement. My answer is the right one whilst yours is wrong in every way that is important to me. It isn't a case of accepting that in some sense we are both right, because your answer couldn't be more wrong, it directly contradicts the truth.
    Don't think of my set of beliefs as just being things like "the sky is blue" that stand alone and we could agree on everything but just disagree about that. If you don't think the sky is blue to the extent that that really is the most coherent possible statement fo ryour system then your system and mine are most likely radically different. And our systems contain all our beliefs, right down to the most fundamental, things like "I exist" and "Change takes place" so its not necessarily a trivial thing for us to have differing belief sets.
    Well let's take a case which is more plausible, then. Suppose you believe that Richard III killed Edward V, but I disagree. Historians can and do disagree about the matter. But surely the reason that they disagree is because for one the truth coheres best with his beliefs while the falsehood coheres best with the other's. But these historians share quite a lot in common: there is no radical difference like denial of non-self-existence or a belief in universal immutability. And yet, we have to say that it's True-For-The-One that Richard killed Edward but False-For-The-Other. But surely what one would like to say is that one of them -- we know not which -- is wrong?
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Hmmm... coherent-for-you is different to coherent-for-me perhaps?

    I think the real coherentist answer would be that there is disagreement. My answer is the right one whilst yours is wrong in every way that is important to me. It isn't a case of accepting that in some sense we are both right, because your answer couldn't be more wrong, it directly contradicts the truth.
    Don't think of my set of beliefs as just being things like "the sky is blue" that stand alone and we could agree on everything but just disagree about that. If you don't think the sky is blue to the extent that that really is the most coherent possible statement fo ryour system then your system and mine are most likely radically different. And our systems contain all our beliefs, right down to the most fundamental, things like "I exist" and "Change takes place" so its not necessarily a trivial thing for us to have differing belief sets.
    Coherency simply isn't sufficient to explain 'truth.' A good example is belief in God. Take a stereotypical 'atheistic scientist vs. religious christian type' argument. Both would claim, with some justification, that their belief system is just as coherent as the other. Neither of them is going to accept that their belief is only 'true for them.' The scientist is gonna go to hell whether he believes in God or not, because the Scriptures are true, and God isn't particularly bothered about how coherent the scientific worldview is.
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    Hmmm... in general

    Two different historians might disagree over who killed Edward V. But they won't disagree over that belief in isolation. Imagine for example two physicists one who thinks the reaction will create Hydrogen chloride, the other that it will produce calcium carbonate.
    There are two options here.

    1. They agree on everything except this in which case one of them has chosen a belief you could logically demonstrate was less consistent with his set of beliefs than the other physicists belief. -"But surely you accept a salt reacting with Hydrochloric Acid should produce a... bla bla bla, so then surely you should accept that this reaction will produce Hydrogen Chloride not Calcium Carbonate"

    2. They disagree on a sufficient number of things which makes both there beliefs the most coherent possible with there belief sets. But then you can't just show that one belief is wrong. After all it might be right given the belief set- you might just be naming things differently for example. So you need to show enough of the the belief set is wrong. But the only way to do that would be to demonstrate logical inconsistency which you can't do because its coherent. Or alternatively to demonstrate it made practical predictions which didn't come to pass- but then you haven't shown the belief set is false, only that it's not pragmatic.


    Wanderer specifically:
    With God Vs Science I'd say there isn't enough evidence (and arguably couldn't be?) to decide the issue. If you died and met God... well, then you'd have a pretty good discriminating factor. But even in the face of God you could still believe he didn't exist if you suitably modified your other beliefs- just like I can believe this computer doesn't exist if I sufficiently modify my other beliefs so I don't trust my senses for example. You might say I'm wrong, but what are you saying other than just that my beliefs don't agree with your beliefs- that is, my beliefs and your beliefs do not form a coherent set?
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Wanderer specifically:
    With God Vs Science I'd say there isn't enough evidence (and arguably couldn't be?) to decide the issue. If you died and met God... well, then you'd have a pretty good discriminating factor. But even in the face of God you could still believe he didn't exist if you suitably modified your other beliefs- just like I can believe this computer doesn't exist if I sufficiently modify my other beliefs so I don't trust my senses for example. You might say I'm wrong, but what are you saying other than just that my beliefs don't agree with your beliefs- that is, my beliefs and your beliefs do not form a coherent set?
    Deciding the issue based on evidence? Doesn't that point towards something less relative than coherency? When you say someone's beliefs aren't true, you are not saying simply that your beliefs don't agree with theirs - you are saying that their beliefs are not how the world is - you don't even have to come into the picture. 'Truth,' whether you believe it to be knowable or not, is not a relative concept.

    EDIT - Just noticed your sig, and would like to point out that Being and Nothingness does make sense - if you stare at it really, really hard ...
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    2. They disagree on a sufficient number of things which makes both there beliefs the most coherent possible with there belief sets. But then you can't just show that one belief is wrong. After all it might be right given the belief set- you might just be naming things differently for example. So you need to show enough of the the belief set is wrong. But the only way to do that would be to demonstrate logical inconsistency which you can't do because its coherent. Or alternatively to demonstrate it made practical predictions which didn't come to pass- but then you haven't shown the belief set is false, only that it's not pragmatic.
    The bolded bit is where I disagree. Something may be "right given a belief set" -- but that's NOT what the word 'true' means, since I can say something is both appropriate for someone with certain beliefs and also false. I don't see (1) why incoherence is the only way to show that some beliefs are wrong (that seems to beg the question that coherence is the ONLY standard of truth) and (2) I don't see why I have to SHOW that someone is wrong in order for them to be so. I'm very confident that some of my beliefs are wrong -- but of course, I can't show you which ones.

    And your point about naming things differently is misguided, I think: if we mean different things by the same words, then we don't disagree. But I don't think it's right to say that two differing historians meen different things by "Richard III killed Edward V".
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    Nyeh, different names was just an example, I'm not saying it's like that in every case.

    Hmm... Lets try a different argument. Essentially what do we usually want to say we mean by truth? (this argument would probably work better if I'd let you guys answer the question first but hey!) Usually we want to use something like the correspondence theory. A statement is true if it corresponds with reality.
    But we must mean in cases like this "our model of reality" because what else could we be comparing it to? Arguably we can't understand the idea of 'reality' as completely distinct from our representation of it. If we take away all sense data, inference, laws of nature as axioms or inference etc etc we aren't left with anything to call reality.
    So I don't understand the idea of reality as distinct from my representation of it.
    I understand the idea of 'truth'. So truth cannot be correspondence with reality (or I wouldn't understand it), the closest it can be is correspondence with our model of reality.
    People can have different models of reality and as such truth is relative to the persons model of reality and thus truth is realtive to the person and thus arguably is dependent on coherence with our model of reality. At least, that the best we can do in keeping with the common sense correspondence theory of truth.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    But we must mean in cases like this "our model of reality" because what else could we be comparing it to? Arguably we can't understand the idea of 'reality' as completely distinct from our representation of it. If we take away all sense data, inference, laws of nature as axioms or inference etc etc we aren't left with anything to call reality.
    This is where I differ, I think. Ironically, I think I'm probably a lot more sympathetic to this kind of view than most people, what with being an idealist myself. But I believe very strongly that one needs to ground idealism in something more: otherwise, things like alethic relativism (which you seem to accept) and solipsism (which I presume you DON'T accept) start to appear. If you won't be an immanent idealist (like Berkeley) and posit a Deity or a transcendental idealist (like Kant) and posit a Noumenal World, then you're going to lack a reality for truth to correspond to and hence end up in the panpsychism you seem to be espousing.

    Er. Sorry if I'm being jargony. Very bad habit. Let me say this: I admit that we have no access to the world independent of our representation of the world. But that's not because there is no such world: it's because our representation IS our access to that world. Thus, we cannot hope for knowledge independent of our representation, but we can nevertheless have knowledge of an object which is independent of that representation. An analogy: if all of my information comes from a newspaper, that doesn't mean I only learn about the newspaper (though I obviously can do that) -- because the newspaper represents something apart from itself and myself (viz. the world) I can learn something about its object. And it's to that object which truth corresponds, I'd say.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    But we must mean in cases like this "our model of reality" because what else could we be comparing it to? Arguably we can't understand the idea of 'reality' as completely distinct from our representation of it. If we take away all sense data, inference, laws of nature as axioms or inference etc etc we aren't left with anything to call reality.
    So I don't understand the idea of reality as distinct from my representation of it.
    Allow me to be pretentious and quote Hume (the treatise) - "Since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium." You don't understand the idea of reality as distinct from your subjective relation to it? I'd argue that its immensely difficult to escape from that idea! However much we reason against it, the idea that 'reality' is something seperate and independent from us is built into us - its very hard to really believe in solipsim, for example. The correspondence theory is appropriate because it is what the 99% of the population who are not philosophers would think of as 'truth'. This may mean that truth is something unknowable and even rationally meaningless, but hey - did I ever claim it wasn't?
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    Actually despite what both of you say I am quite a sympathiser with solipsism. I had a bit of a eureka moment when I first heard about it, but seeing as I'm trying to convince you guys and not myself (I don't accept coherentism anyway) I can hardly fall back on that.
    Cantabrian, you say you're an idealist but reject the only three kinds of idealism I'm aware exist. What is your stance there?

    Wanderer, I agree with you Truth is essentially an irrational concept but is it not philosophy's job to try and rationalise these things? Coherentism isn't saying 'everybody means coherence when they say truth'. Rather its trying to rationalise and justify the concept of 'truth'. Ultimately that must be what any theory of truth must do surely?
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Actually despite what both of you say I am quite a sympathiser with solipsism. I had a bit of a eureka moment when I first heard about it, but seeing as I'm trying to convince you guys and not myself (I don't accept coherentism anyway) I can hardly fall back on that.
    Cantabrian, you say you're an idealist but reject the only three kinds of idealism I'm aware exist. What is your stance there?

    Wanderer, I agree with you Truth is essentially an irrational concept but is it not philosophy's job to try and rationalise these things? Coherentism isn't saying 'everybody means coherence when they say truth'. Rather its trying to rationalise and justify the concept of 'truth'. Ultimately that must be what any theory of truth must do surely?
    You had a eureka moment? I spent a fair amount of time very depressed when I first understood it, along with moral relativism (before that I was very self-righteous and happily solid in my view of things). Surely you don't actually think, on a day-to-day basis, of other people as not existing or not being conscious? I would have thought that to be a) psychologically pretty difficult and b) unbearably depressing. If coherentism is arguing that you can't have 'correspondence truth' and coherence is the most workable concept available, I'd argue that its probably possible to attack coherence and show it to be fuzzy, vague, and fairly unworkable anyway (a job for another day, perhaps) and that in any case by changing truth to that you've really just given up on truth (which isn't a problem, did it myself a while back) and should probably just use the term coherence.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Cantabrian, you say you're an idealist but reject the only three kinds of idealism I'm aware exist. What is your stance there?
    Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to disparage either Berkeley or Kant: I myself am a Kantian and I have a lot of time for Berkeley.
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    You had a eureka moment? I spent a fair amount of time very depressed when I first understood it, along with moral relativism (before that I was very self-righteous and happily solid in my view of things). Surely you don't actually think, on a day-to-day basis, of other people as not existing or not being conscious? I would have thought that to be a) psychologically pretty difficult and b) unbearably depressing. If coherentism is arguing that you can't have 'correspondence truth' and coherence is the most workable concept available, I'd argue that its probably possible to attack coherence and show it to be fuzzy, vague, and fairly unworkable anyway (a job for another day, perhaps) and that in any case by changing truth to that you've really just given up on truth (which isn't a problem, did it myself a while back) and should probably just use the term coherence.
    On a day to day basis? No not really. But there is certainly an underlying belief. Its perhaps best likened to a Religion with no practical demands. It's something that doesn't and needn't really affect my day to day life but it seems to me a very attractive way to view everything when I really think about it during Philosophy. It just seems to make sense to me more than anything else.

    Yeah you could try to attack coherence and generally I think that's what people do. It may turn out to be a bit like verificationism. It sound like a great idea but as soon as you try to formalise it it all falls apart. Coherentism may be like that too.
    I also seriously doubt a coherentist would have used idealism as part of their argument but it just occured to me and I thought I'd try it.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    On a day to day basis? No not really. But there is certainly an underlying belief. Its perhaps best likened to a Religion with no practical demands. It's something that doesn't and needn't really affect my day to day life but it seems to me a very attractive way to view everything when I really think about it during Philosophy. It just seems to make sense to me more than anything else.

    Yeah you could try to attack coherence and generally I think that's what people do. It may turn out to be a bit like verificationism. It sound like a great idea but as soon as you try to formalise it it all falls apart. Coherentism may be like that too.
    I also seriously doubt a coherentist would have used idealism as part of their argument but it just occured to me and I thought I'd try it.
    Actually I'm pretty much the same at one level, although generally I tend to take a fairly standard realist, 'scientific' worldview. The underlying belief is that every approach is pretty arbitrary anyway, which is why I'm not hostile towards religion all the time. I gave up on ever finding anything I could really call 'true' when I got to the point in philosophy of questioning things like truth, existence, meaning, and logic - I found that they all seemed to slip out of my grasp and leave me without a rational leg to stand on. Thats also about the time I fled philosophy for maths ...
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    I think that solipsism has deep problems - mainly because it's impossible to think how it might be true. It's a concept like the square circle, that has superficial attraction and even seems possible, but has no chance of existence. I'm a realist, rather than an idealist, because it's impossible to live as anything else. That number 9 bus will kill me if it hits me, so I have to act as if it's real, even if I consider it impossible to prove.

    The issue with the scientific viewpoint is that it typically tries a reductionist approach where only empirical observations count and takes an eschatological approach - that everything can be known and will be known.

    Coherentism also has issue, since it starts with the premiss that the world is coherent, but suppose it isn't? (As an aside, this existence of order is one of the better natural theological arguments for the existence of God). If the universe is not actually coherent (and why should it be?) then any coherent model will be fatally flawed.

    It's this problem which led post-modernists like Rorty to say that all truth is ethnocentric and that there is no "way things are". Of course, that itself is a metaphysical claim.

    I'm currently looking at Alister McGrath's "scientific theology" which uses Bhaskar's model of stratified reality. It has great promise, I think.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I think that solipsism has deep problems - mainly because it's impossible to think how it might be true. It's a concept like the square circle, that has superficial attraction and even seems possible, but has no chance of existence. I'm a realist, rather than an idealist, because it's impossible to live as anything else. That number 9 bus will kill me if it hits me, so I have to act as if it's real, even if I consider it impossible to prove.
    1 - You can square the circle, its been done. You have to cut it into about fifty million parts though.

    2 - I agree that its impossible to live other than as a realist, but I'd certainly dispute that its 'impossible to think how solipsism might be true'. Impossible to really believe at a gut level, but certainly not from a rational standpoint (brain in a vat, anyone?). Your last sentence is so weak I'm not even going to bother replying to it :p: (hehehe - I can be mean).
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    1 - You can square the circle, its been done.
    a) I talked about a "square circle", not turning a circle into a square

    b) You cannot square a circle in Euclidean space because pi is transcendental. You can in Gauss-Bolyai-Lobachevsky space (i.e. with negative Gaussian curvature), but I don't live in one of those, even if you might.
    You have to cut it into about fifty million parts though.
    That's so weak, it's not worth considering. (See what you've started?)
    not from a rational standpoint (brain in a vat, anyone?).
    Where is this privileged standpoint of which you speak? How will you take a viewpoint outside your own existence? All you have is a thought experiment, which is incapable of either verification or refutation and which has has no practical or pragmatic value.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    a) I talked about a "square circle", not turning a circle into a square
    Then I certainly don't consider that it either 'has superficial attraction' or 'seems possible' in the way solipsism does.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    b) You cannot square a circle in Euclidean space because pi is transcendental. You can in Gauss-Bolyai-Lobachevsky space (i.e. with negative Gaussian curvature), but I don't live in one of those, even if you might.


    I was being flippant. There is some exotic way of doing it by cutting it up into 50 million pieces though - I don't know if its what you're referring to, but its some weird topological thing so quite possibly. Apparently you can also cut a sphere up and put it back together to make two spheres, both the same size as the original sphere.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Where is this privileged standpoint of which you speak? How will you take a viewpoint outside your own existence? All you have is a thought experiment, which is incapable of either verification or refutation and which has has no practical or pragmatic value.
    I wasn't talking about anything so esoteric. By a rational standpoint, I merely meant ignoring the emotional, instinctive side of things that makes it impossible to actually believe in solipsism. The point about it being a thought experiment and incapable of verification applies equally to realism, and as for pragmatic value, you might as well discard philosophy altogether on those grounds.
 
 
 
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