Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world’s leading thinkers

Jan 8, 2016

Time, Space and Being
We think space and time are the structure of the universe. Yet Einstein argued ‘space and time are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live’. And philosophers, Kant and Heidegger, saw space and time as the framework of thought not the world. Are space and time just a human fantasy?
The Panel
Physicist and author of The End of Time Julian Barbour, Cambridge metaphysician Huw Price and philosopher of science Michela Massimi think outside space and time.

42 comments on “Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world’s leading thinkers

  • Ah, my favorite subject. The OP doesn’t know what he is talking about. It behooves him or her to first read Kant before he describes what he said.
    Kant never distinguished between thought (the ideality of space and time) and the world. That false, erroneous distinction is a typical one. The world IS in space and time.
    Whatever is not in space and time cannot be called a “world.”
    My blood pressure . . . Time to lie down.
    I won’t be commenting on this thread. I’ve tried and failed repeatedly to convince others of what I consider to be the irrefutable validity of Kant’s theorem.
    I will just say this: read Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic. This is a Reason site. So try to read and not just talk, and I will try to do the same.
    And Time and Space are not illusions. They are empirically real.
    Space and Time are functions of the brain.
    We are in time and in space. This is what we experience. This is empirical reality.
    But in actuality space and time are in us.
    Those panelists are all wrong. They don’t get it.
    I am one of the last remaining people on earth who truly understands Kant’s enormously subtle doctrine of the ideality of space and time. That might sound grandiose, but it is isn’t.

  • 2
    Cairsley says:

    . . . what I consider to be the irrefutable validity of Kant’s theorem.

    Hello, Dan. Immanuel Kant certainly was one of the great thinkers in human history, but that does not mean that his account of any particular matter, for example perception and knowledge, has to be taken as irrefutably valid. Given that the subject-matter in this case is the empirical one of space and time, it is puzzling that you have used the term ‘theorem’, which is an argument based on axioms or postulates or basic assumptions. To justify an account of empirical knowledge, one needs also to adduce evidence. The evidence that was available to Kant has since been greatly added to, thanks to advances in fields of enquiry unknown in Kant’s time and generally referred to as the cognitive sciences. What Kant tried to explain is actually much better explained, on the basis of evidence, by understanding how the brain and nervous system work. That, in a nutshell, is why Kant’s work is not thought by many to provide the answers to our epistemological questions.

  • You again!
    (Intended with humor.)
    Happy new year, Cairsley. Thanks for the reply.
    Externality without a mind?

  • Here seems an appropriate place to ask:

    Has anyone read “The Science Delusion” by Rupert Sheldrake? I found it in my local library, catchy title, reminded me of something. Dust jacket had a quote from New Scientist that suggested it wouldn’t be total crap, so I checked it out. Interesting reading.

    Comments, opinons, refutals etc welcome, but not, please, from those who only read the dustjacket or reviews.

  • This theorem to is uniquely difficult to prove in so far as the very act of attempting to prove such a thing, to actually prove that space is in us or that time is in us – as a priori forms of knowledge – the condition of the proof is already presupposed in the very act of attempting to prove it. I would say that the burden of proof lies more with those who oppose this truth (a truth that is on the one hand self-evident and yet on the other is highly elusive when one tries to comprehend it in the form of abstract consciousness).

    It is analogous to someone presenting the proposition “I am” or I exist” (which can be regarded as a philosophical theory) and then being asked to prove it. The condition of the proof, namely the being or existence of one’s own self is presupposed – or required in order to BE able to prove such a thing.

    The burden of proof must surely be on you. For how could the representation of space be learned from the outside in? What can space be other than that which is external to us? There is theoretical space or conceptual space (the space of the physicists and astronomers). Perhaps someone can clarify for me where one ends and the other begins. But I take as my point of departure, as it were, the notion of space as a pure intuition, a perception, or rather, the condition of perception (of the external, outside world) itself.

    What we call the reality of the (external) world is nothing other than a perceived world of objects in space and time. These objects may be perceived through any one of the five senses, but in order for reality to be thought, an I must accompany all of our representations. The internal I is in Time. But there is a reciprocal dependence between the representations of space and time and in relation to the existence of the external world. I can’t elaborate on that here, but would refer you to the preface to the second edition of Kant’s Critique.

    All bodies are extended. This analytic proposition (which cannot be denied) is tantamount to saying that all bodies are external to me, or outside of myself. In order to see or touch or feel, a body, it must be represented as an extended thing. Space (a pure, innate intuition) is presupposed, or to put it another way, already there.

    You cannot possibly think that when an infant enters this world that is learns of space from the outside in, that space is empirical in nature, that it somehow is already present and is simply waiting to be perceived! What could that space be? What is externality be other than that which is outside of us?

    I am glad that I got that off my chest.

  • OHooligan
    Jan 9, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Has anyone read “The Science Delusion” by Rupert Sheldrake? I found it in my local library, catchy title, reminded me of something.

    It’s just another “flea” book from the deluded, parodying and denying “The God-Delusion, while promoting various various parapsychological claims.

    I have not wasted my time reading it, but his claims of “morphic resonance” are clearly pseudo-science and science denial.

    Here is a link about it:-

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake

    His latest book, “The Science Delusion” is an anti-scientific rant, in which he applies postmodernist hyperscepticism to science, accusing scientists of adhering to “scientific dogmata”, such as the constancy of the speed of light. Ironically, Sheldrake fails to apply any sort of scepticism to his own ideas, which he promotes uncritically, despite there being no evidence for them.

    Sheldrake’s early career showed a lot of promise. . . .

    However, in mid-career, and over a gradual period starting in the late 1970s and finishing in the mid 1980s, Sheldrake dropped out of engaging in the scientific process. He has held no academic positions since then.

    The dropping out process started with a career break travel to India, where he spent some time in a Christian monastery. Then, instead of returning to his original research programme, he wound up doing crop physiology research for an institute in India – considerably less prestigious than world-renowned Cambridge. He also discovered that instead of doing real science, writing books about new age woo was much more profitable.

    Dust jacket had a quote from New Scientist that suggested it wouldn’t be total crap, so I checked it out. Interesting reading.

    Quote mining is a well known feature of pseudo-science!

    Sheldrake’s quackery has been discussed on RDFS before. – It is total crap!!

  • Thank you Alan. Funny how there was no link to RationalWiki on the dust jacket. In my defence I’d not heard of Sheldrake before, and he was filed under Science in the local library, Dewey has much to answer for methinks.

    So Sheldrake promotes a kind of pantheism? I was hoping he’d at least ask some interesting questions.

    ru7p=46dfd10
    sorry, my lorikeet just typed that, it probably means something important.

    Following my nose on RationalWiki led me via Lee Smolin (whom I’ve read) to Luboš Motl (whom I haven’t). What fun I’ve been missing.

    I’m ok with the fact that science hasn’t got all the answers, but I have the impression that the implications of quantum mechanics hasn’t percolated thru to all branches, and we’re currently in a kind of refining-the-epicycles period before someone comes up with a radically different viewpoint (heliocentric instead of earth-centric) that makes the whole epicycle edifice vanish with a sigh of relief, and a simpler, more coherent model emerges.

    String theory, dark stuff, and the multiverses seem like the modern version of epicycles. To this interested but not very well informed observer. For the record, my favourite Explainer of all is Richard Feynman.

    You mentioned that Sheldrake had come up before on RDFS. Any chance of a link?

    BTW, and this is for the web designers really, it’s been a great loss that we can no longer search for comments by poster, as was once the case, and as is common on other forums. Text search (e.g. for “Sheldrake”) would also be useful. Along with the promotions (pay here to become “one of us”), this site of late feels less like “us” and more like “you, the writers, and we, the readers and sometimes commentators”. Tacking this gripe here because I don’t see an obvious place where I can write it and expect it to be noticed, discussed, and maybe even acted upon. Personally I get more out of the comments than from the articles.

  • OHooligan
    Jan 10, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    You mentioned that Sheldrake had come up before on RDFS. Any chance of a link?

    I can’t see any sign of it, although Googling brings up plenty of junk on the internet!

    I think it must have been on the old site which is no longer accessible.

  • 11
    Cairsley says:

    Thank you, Dan. Happy New Year to you too.

    I have been away, out there in space and time. But it is nice to be back.

    Your question “Externality without a mind?” is a very good brain-teaser, especially as you elaborate it in your subsequent message. It remains a brain-teaser as long as you think of the mind as something existing in itself, the existence of which, as Descartes argued, had to be accepted as given, as an axiom from which he could proceed by reasoning. Nowadays, with the benefit of findings in neurology, the mind and consciousness are understood to be generated by the brain. The conscious mind does not exist as something in itself but as an effect of neuronal interactions in a particular animal’s brain. The mind being thus understood, the significance of externality to the mind breaks down. The distinction between subjective and objective may be more useful, that is between what the subject experiences and what the object of experience consists of, and so on, and that is something that will continue to be examined by scientists and philosophers.

  • bonnie
    Jan 10, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks Bonnie. You have found the one which got away from me!

    As usual – on the link – there are the woo-believers who have no idea about science, cheering for their woo-meisters and proclaiming the validity of pseudo-science alleged “theories”, about which they have absolutely no idea!

  • “That other being, whose object I am now considering my person to be, is not absolutely the subject, but is in the first instance a knowing individual.” – Schopenhauer

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I do not think you understand the Cogito. And “brain-teaser” is an unfair characterization and distorted. I get that all the time.
    You can’t admit that there is a subject-object division and at the same time deny that the question “what is externality without a mind?” is not a legitimate question.

    The mind existing by itself? Whoever said such a thing? Descartes’ I is first and foremost a knowing I (and that which knows can never know itself).

    The subject-object division and the knowledge of causality and the knowledge of space and time are laws of thought. They are innate in the human mind. If you doubt this then try imagining moving through life without these forms of knowledge. The brain is, admittedly, a highly complex organ. But the forms of a priori knowledge that I mentioned (space, time) are what make internal and external existence (“reality”) possible. The co-existence of the two (internal and external representation of perception), their reciprocal dependence and interaction, is reality.

    The subject is not an essence. The object is not an essence.

    Prior to the publication of the Meditations, thinkers felt no hesitation to dogmatically start from the object as they sought to understand the nature of the perceived world. What Descartes demonstrates is that activity of some kind is taking place inside our head. In his case, he is doubting. The doubt as to his own existence is activity, conscious activity. So he concludes that if there is activity in the form of doubt, then there is existence. And that thought is primarily and originally internal, is self-conscious thought. There is no way to know that other, external things, have thought (which is). This is a logical fact, and an unalterable limitation of the human mind. If you follow Descartes you will see that you can never gain awareness of existence of external things directly—only indirectly. The I as thought has to come first. Therefore, the I is that which is and can never be IT.

  • Nowadays, with the benefit of findings in neurology, the mind and
    consciousness are understood to be generated by the brain.

    As opposed to what? Of course they are! And if it wasn’t for Descartes we might never have gotten there. Descartes paved the way to Kant who “clipped the wings of reason.” Now the old mind-body duality is a thing of the past. The mind or brain is part of the body.

    You have unwittingly created a straw-man argument.

    Read Schopenhauer. He often reminds the readers of that important fact. Consciousness is a function of the brain and the brain is part of the body. This is obvious to everyone who has read and understood Kant and Schopenhauer.

  • You can’t admit that there is a subject-object division and at the same time deny that the question “what is externality without a mind?” is not a legitimate question.

    Corrected sentence: You can’t admit that there is a subject-object division and at the same time deny that the question “what is externality without a mind?” is a legitimate question.

    Typos. Mistakes. Frustrating.

  • That was written in the context of my remarks concerning the meaning of Descartes’ Cogito, ergo sum, Phil.
    Descartes’ I is, in my view, a knowing I.

  • I know.

    I am proposing an additional philosophical view for your consideration here…if you have become any more enamoured with Google?

  • Not clear what you mean. Do you have a link? Post it by all means.
    But I do have a decided preference for books, and a thirst for knowledge which is stronger than ever. I wish I had a mentor, someone who could recommend science books and guide me.
    I wish it could be you, although you have already influenced me – more than you know.

    Did you read my joke about the Amish woman? It’s in the thread where you discuss Quakerism.

  • Bonnie, thanks. Entertaining in its own way this one.

    What an excellent resource this site is. By which I mean the longer-serving commentators, way more than the actual articles.

  • Ah, Alan, thanks to Bonnie’s link, I see we’ve both been there before. I’d forgotten all about Sheldrake, but at the time I joined in somewhat tangentially with this observation, regarding dealing with odd/fringe/unorthodox notions. Seems my memory isn’t what it used to be. (Don’t ask what it used to be, I’ve forgotten).

    I just (re) watched Carl Sagan’s Cosmos episode “Heaven and Hell”, in which he takes time out to address the “Worlds in Collision” fantasy/theory by Immanuel Velikovsky. I was a little surprised Sagan put so much time and effort into describing the theory – even pulling a model of Venus out of a trapdoor in Jupiter – before refuting it.

    He also stated that notions like this should not be suppressed, as they will die of their own accord in face of contradictory evidence. ( He said it better. I’m paraphrasing)

    Worth a watch, and pertinent to this discussion.

  • The conscious mind does not exist as something in itself but as an effect of neuronal interactions in a particular animal’s brain. The mind being thus understood, the significance of externality to the mind breaks down.

    The significance of externality might get broken down, Cairsley, but the experience of externality itself, and the division into subject and object itself, can never be obliterated. If there is no externality why do we have senses?
    You asked me to provide evidence of the ideality of space and time. I replied by saying, or implying, that if space and time were not already present from birth, space and time would have to be learned from the outside in, and if that were the case you or someone would be obliged to inform me what this space-in-itself and this time-in-itself could possible be!
    Now where is your evidence that objects are not perceived as external or can ever not be perceived as external?
    Best,
    DR

  • Here seems an appropriate place to ask: Has anyone read “The Science Delusion” by Rupert Sheldrake?

    Why bring that shit up here on this thread?
    You tell me what externality is or isn’t if you are so damned learned, OHooligan, bonnie, Alan, et al.
    Sorry if I’ve misconstrued but I feel like I’ve been insulted and I don’t like it.
    I am not anti-reason, but I do have feelings.
    Whenever I discuss Kant I am attacked and berated on this site. But no one seems to get him, or me.

  • V Funny. Just try reading the guy one of these days. Get a copy of the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason and read the intro and the Transcendental Aesthetic. That’s all you need to read, and that’s all I ask. Do it for yourself.
    It’s okay; I can take a punch, and all that stuff I wrote probably sounds pretty wacky.
    Later,
    Dan
    P.S. If you like him read the Critique of Judgment. It’s the greatest work on Aesthetics ever written, imo. Just read the Analytic of the Sublime.

  • I read it,

    Was given to me by my Anglican Minister Father in law, afraid I found a poor show. But been awhile now and can’t contribute anything more than that.

  • 31
    Cairsley says:

    Hello, Dan. Thanks for your responses. My reference to Descartes was in regard to his concept of the thinking mind as something that could be accepted doubtlessly as existing. My first reason for mentioning that was with reference to ‘theorem’, but also because Descartes regarded the mind as existing in its own right as something that was conscious of whatever was external to it. This is quite different from speaking of how one experiences self and other things.

    I fully agree with you that the distinction between subject and object remains, but, in view of the conscious subject being an effect of brain-processes, it is not a distinction between two subsistent things, where it would make full sense to speak of objects being external to a subject. The subject, being a product of brain-processes, is not something to which other things are actually external, but the organism, through its brain-processes and senses, still perceives everything else as external to it. It is in this way that the idea of externality to the mind breaks down somewhat, though it remains descriptive of how one experiences self and things.

    The ideality of space and time needs no evidence, because it is a superfluous notion. At no point has anyone denied that there is any space or time; but physics can enlighten us much more about them than any kind of idealist philosophy can. The objects one experiences and the brain-processes whereby one is conscious of objects all exist and operate in space and time. There is no need to idealize them; they are inherent as the very dimensions of the cosmos.

  • 33
    Pinball1970 says:

    Philosophy is interesting but I think a discussion about space and time is about physics not philosophy.

    Philosophy changed as physics did not then other way round, the philosophers were given different facts to consider by the scientists, discuss and put meaning to.

    I am not sure anyone actually knows what time is, does it exist at all.

    The discussions tend to involve entropy and the initial configuration of the universe.

    Roger Penrose Lee Smolin have written about it but it is a little too complicated to get ones head round unless you are a lot smarter than me (very possible) or do physics for a living.

    Brian Greene devoted a chapter to it in the “fabric of the universe” and kept coming back to it because it’s a big deal apparently.

    Space is just as complicated.

    I would not take things to personal Dan- not everyone is going to be in your camp on this because it’s such a profoundly difficult and personal subject.

    I simply don’t get it, I am not sure I will get it either even if the physics do eventually work it out and explain it to us.

  • Thank you, PB, I appreciate that, but philosophy is just a word. You can’t possibly think that all of the philosophers of the past had nothing valid or useful or true to say about anything just because they were called philosophers (which means love of truth)!

    Kant proceeded very systematically and took nothing for granted. His approach was similar to that of a scientist. He observed and discovered aspects of the nature of human knowledge and its limits. Of course he knew less or nothing about physics or neuroscience back then. But it does not follow from that that all of his theories or conclusions regarding space and time were somehow wrong.

    I am of the opinion that his fundamental view of idealism vis a vis space and time is still essentially correct, and I will continue when I can to defend it, Kant himself – as well as other great thinkers of the past – and philosophy in general.

    Here is an attempt at a proof of the essential ideality of space and time: try to imagine a time before, say, the Big Bang. It has been suggested that there was no time before the Big Bang. So try to imagine No Time. Now try to imagine and end to space. You hit a wall and then lo and behold: No Space.

    Can’t do it? You know why? The absence of perceived space and perceived time is inconceivable, and always will be. Kant was right: empirically we are in space and time; the truth is that they are in us.

    -Dan

    P.S. I understand that this might be off-putting, but it is important to recognize that a large part of what we call reality requires our participation, is not something to be taken for granted, is not a carpet under our feet –if I may put it that way.

  • .

    ..the organism, through its brain-processes and senses, still
    perceives everything else as external to it.

    That is exactly what I am saying. I am distinguishing, as did K, between pure actuality (whatever that might be) and empirically real conscious experience.

    The subject, being a product of brain-processes, is not something to
    which other things are actually external, but…

    No, I have defined the subject as a thinking individual not as a pure essence. It can never be perceived as a thing-in-itself; it is a knowing subject. That which knows can never perceive (know) itself. It is the intellect that divides the world of actual being into subject and object, but the former is never known; it knows merely. This is what true critical idealism teaches.

    The ideality of space and time needs no evidence, because it is a
    superfluous notion. At no point has anyone denied that there is any
    space or time…

    At no point have I ever denied that space and time are real. And at no point have you or anyone I have discussed this issue with acknowledged that they are in us, however. If they exist outside of us then we are talking about pure space and pure time as opposed to perceived space and perceived time. I have stated that it is impossible for me to conceive of space (or time) existing independently of consciousness, and have asked you to explain to me what pure space (and time) might be. If they are inherent in the universe than you clearly know something about them. So what can non-external, pure space and time, be? It is not perceived as space yet it exists as space? I am not ruling this out. Nor am I “idealizing” space.

    I know only one space, and that is what is external to me. Objects are extended in it. The other kind of space, the space that is, as you say, inherent in the universe, is not something I am capable of forming a clear idea about. Perhaps we are speaking of two completely different conceptions of space. Mine is perceived; yours is theoretical.

    I strongly suspect that we are both somewhat confused.

  • P.S. Last comment / question for the day:

    “The subject, being a product of brain-processes, is not something to
    which other things are actually external, but…”

    I said in my last comment that the subject is precisely that which perceives an objective world outside of itself. You yourself said that it perceives this external world. Then you said that this subject is not actually something that other things are external to! Haven’t you just unwittingly implied that the problem of the real-ideal distinction, or the distinction between the absolutely real and the empirically real, is an inescapable problem that will inevitably present itself and expose the contradictory thinking of those who (unlike myself) do not fully comprehend the subtle, esoteric doctrine which I had referred to in my first comment on this thread?

    The quoted sentence above confused me. You see, there is the absolute subject and there is the knowing subject. The brain does produce the knowing subject; that is a good point; but it is also true that something produces that which produces the thinking subject. That is what we are in ourselves – a mystery, in my opinion. Schopenhauer called it will.

  • Cairsley

    “The subject, being a product of brain-processes, is not something to which other things are actually external, but the organism, through its brain-processes and senses, still perceives everything else as external to it.” —Cairsley

    The subject IS the organism’s brain processes and senses! The subject IS that which perceives everything else external to it! Erroneous distinction.

    Yay! I finally got it out. That’s what I wanted to say and couldn’t find the words.

    Be well. Talk to you soon (I hope).

  • 38
    Cairsley says:

    Dan, I enjoyed reading your responses.

    “I said in my last comment that the subject is precisely that which perceives an objective world outside of itself. You yourself said that it perceives this external world. Then you said that this subject is not actually something that other things are external to! Haven’t you just unwittingly implied that the problem of the real-ideal distinction, or the distinction between the absolutely real and the empirically real, is an inescapable problem . . .”

    No, I have not. I was there drawing attention to two different notions of what the subject might be, and to the relative appropriateness that the term ‘external’ might be the context of each. Since I am not a Kantian, I am permitted to wonder about such things.

    When I wrote that the subject, being a product of brain-processes, is not something to which other things are actually external (i.e. not itself a thing among things), I was merely pointing out that what we call the I or the conscious self or subject is actually something quite accidental to the organism whose brain etc. is generating that consciousness, and therefore not the kind of entity to which one would ordinarily speak of anything being external. That is not to say one may not use ‘external’ in that context, but what one means by it might have to be made clear if one wished to use it there.

    You, in any case, Dan, are thinking in terms of the Kantian distinction between the “absolutely real” and the “empirically real”, whereas I am not. I do accept that most of the world in which I find myself I have not yet perceived or experienced directly or indirectly in any way, and I do distinguish between things as I experience them and those things as they are in themselves; but I do not make the metaphysical division that Kant made between things in themselves and things as perceived. One unacceptable implication of that division is its absoluteness (which is a general problem with any metaphysical or idealist way of thinking). What is unknowable about something in one age can become knowable about it through technological advances in another age. Metaphysics is simply not the appropriate discipline for studying questions of nature; much more appropriate for investigating these are the sciences. Indeed, the basic problem with Kant’s metaphysical approach to matters like space and time is that it is metaphysical — quite superfluous and unnecessary for the task at hand.

    “The brain does produce the knowing subject; that is a good point; but it is also true that something produces that which produces the thinking subject. That is what we are in ourselves – a mystery, in my opinion. Schopenhauer called it will.”

    Now this is worse even than metaphysics — it is mysticism. Get thee to a monastery!

    With the advances being made in cognitive sciences, it is becoming possible to understand even how it is that we have the experiences that we have, whereas Kant, like everyone else at his time and before and after until within the last century, had only the fact of experience to work with. Likewise, how the subject of experience is understood is being modified by the discovery of the complexity of the networks of neuronal interactions involving many parts of the brain that all together generate what we in our innocence refer to as ourselves (The book The Self Illusion by Bruce Hood comes to mind). This is a fast-moving area of research nowadays. It would be a shame to be stuck in the metaphysical framework of an eighteenth-century philosopher, when what is needed is not metaphysics (which by definition has nothing to say about physical reality) but physics, chemistry, biology, psychoneurology and the like. We do live in intellectually exciting times.

  • Metaphysics is simply not the appropriate discipline for studying questions of nature

    But metaphysics is entirely appropriate for scientifically formed hypotheses. We must recognise, however, that they can never possess rigorous strong>definitions with regard to any empirical test directed at them.

    Science frequently has made metaphysical hypotheses, whole new aspects of quantum physics or properties of sub-atomic particles say. But like Tim Minchin says of alternative medicine, when it is shown to work it becomes medicine and its definition in terms of its measurable properties becomes clear and tractable. New science is made. (The superstitious attributes of alternative medicine fail to be a useful clear thing….In homeopathy; what is likeness; what is succussion; how much g-force? What profile of force?)

    Anything remaining as a metaphysical proposal remains in this world of ill defined might-bes and possibly-nots to tease scientists, and to fill the hours at Liquid Philosophy down at the pub.

  • Cairsley
    Jan 12, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Thanks, Cairsely. Nice comments. Just some quick points. I promised myself that I would take a short but much need break from this site. I hope it can survive without me over the next day or so.

    “I do distinguish between things as I experience them and those things as they are in themselves; but I do not make the metaphysical division that Kant made between things in themselves and things as perceived.”

    Same thing, Cairsley, as far as I am concerned; I sometimes define experience (an ambiguous, troublesome word), as perception. “Knowledge” is a more comprehensive concept, that may include forms that I am not acquainted with; but what then can you know today (if anything) about that which is are devoid of all sensory qualities and not even an object (which presupposes you as a participant in the act of knowing)? You can say something is energy, for example, but can something like energy be a substitute for the unknowable (thing-in-itself)? Can space and time be the unperceived substratum (basis, foundation) of a universe of non-empirical “being?”, or be “inherent properties” in the universe? I think my skepticism regarding space and time in this regard and regarding, say, energy, or anything else, as a a property that is and yet is not (experienced) has been well expressed and warranted. You have merely asserted that space and time are inherent properties, and that is all. (But, again, as I said, there are definitions of knowledge, of what constitutes knowledge, that I may not have considered. —Do you see how honest and humble I am?)

    “What is unknowable about something in one age can become knowable about it through technological advances in another age. Metaphysics is simply not the appropriate discipline for studying questions of nature…”

    Yes, I see your point, but for now I do not see how that which is, as you said, not experienced, can be physical? What can we know about anything beyond the senses and beyond all consciousness? What remains? What is it like? I am a seeker of knowledge and truth. Metaphysics is all too often used as a term of abuse. I purposely avoided invoking the word as I would have would set up for the inevitable criticism that it just received nonetheless. So once and for all let me say that what I have unwittingly suggested to your mind as something more than or different than the physical is just a way of expressing the problem. And it is a legitimate problem/question: what is this potentially knowable object that isn’t an object, and what species of knowledge are we talking about?

    Can you say you don’t yet know? That would be refreshing.

    “ ‘The brain does produce the knowing subject; that is a good point; but it is also true that something produces that which produces the thinking subject. That is what we are in ourselves – a mystery, in my opinion. Schopenhauer called it will.’ [DR]
    “Now this is worse even than metaphysics — it is mysticism. Get thee to a monastery!”

    I’ll give that round, as it were, to you, Cairsley. That was very poorly expressed. But as you know, there are constraints in this forum. I wrote it, and was in the process of revising it, and it got posted. I forgot to edit first. Ten minutes is sometimes not long enough.

    Finally, and I say this to my most valued e-friend Phil too: the term metaphysics and transcendentalism is used by Kant and Schopenhauer and by me to express what cannot (yet) be known or understand, or thought of as a material thing; it is not positive knowledge; the critical philosophy is essentially limitative in nature. Crude analogy: “Wind is not a spirit, for the following reasons…” You see, I am limiting the application of the inadmissible term spirit. Now whoever believes that wind is spirit can hopefully be set straight, on the sure footing of reason and reasoned inquiry.

    Kant has done a service to science and to the cause of this site and to humanity: there is no way that his thing-in-itself (which I still use) can be God or Spirit. We are not justified in saying anything positive about this realm of the unperceived, to use your own language (and my own). —Kant’s point is that we can’t [yet, if ever] say anything about this realm. The acceptance of an unknowable thing-in-itself constitutes the acquisition of negative knowledge. This is a form of knowing, and I think it is as valuable as positive knowledge. In any case, they are both part of the process of gaining, ultimately, the latter (positive knowledge of the natural world and the universe).

    No monastery for me. Please.

    Kind Regards. DR

  • Dan
    Jan 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Get a copy of the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason and read the intro and the Transcendental Aesthetic.

    That sounds very much like an oxymoron to me!!!

  • If it does nothing but consume and reproduce, what is it? A virus, a bacteria, and schizophrenic people, that think they’re intelligent. How do I come to this conclusion, simple. Oldest known cave painting made by man, scientifically radio and carbon dated, to approximately 40 000 years ago. The same science concludes, that there were less than half billion people on the planet at that time.

    From the time of those cave paintings, until the year 1960, is how long it took human population to grow from less than half billion, to 3 billion, a growth of just 2.5 billion, over a timespan of (40 000 years). However, from the year 1960, to this the year 2016, human population grew by almost double that, a growth of 4.5 billion, over a timespan of just (55 years). According to my math ( Grade 5), human population, will exceed the planet’s ability to sustain it, by the year 2050. If it grows at 1% per year, it doubles in 70 years, if it grows at 2% per year, it doubles in 35 years, if it grows at 3% per year, it doubles in 24 years.

    Human population growth in the last 24 hours, 200 000, that means, you the human race, birth and build a city, the size of Rochester New York, everyday. Human population growth in the year 2015, 82 million, that means, you the human race, birth and build a country the size of Germany, every year. Global Economy, is in fact reliant on exponential human population growth, to create a perpetual increase in demand, hence perpetually increasing each country’s GDP. No exponential human population growth, no economy. What is the economy, from a psychological perspective? Well, it’s not just your job, it’s your education system, your health care, your Social Security, your army, navy, airforce, marines, justice system and most importantly, your pension. You, the human race, are now 100% completely psychologically reliant, on economic growth, and economic growth, is the leading cause of Global Warming, and Climate Change.

    Evolution is, a perpetual state of natural selection, in an uncontrolled environment, adapt and survive, or die trying, Natural Selection, not National election. Thus creating the psychological divide in the human mind, a biological process created by a perpetual state of natural selection, trying to exist in a controlled environment, created by Gods and Governments. How I have a drawn a psychological problem from this mathematics, it’s a lot easier than you think, but, your current state of psychological being, after being born and raised in a controlled environment, will make you think like most people do, that I’m completely insane, however, the mathematics, clearly prove to the contrary.

    Ask the world’s smartest scientific and religious minds, this question and watch what happens;
    32 600 000 laws, made by man, for man, to protect man, from man. 90% of those laws have been made in the last 100 years, hence the exponential growth, the human race is designing their reality as they go along. Can one person of the greatest intellect, tell me, what makes your life, right here, right now, in this time period of earth’s history, 32 600 000 laws more superior and valuable, than all life before you? What makes your life, right here, right now, in this time period of earth’s history, 32 600 000 laws more superior and valuable, than the lives of the people who existed on this planet 10 000 years ago, that discovered and developed, the agriculture, that feeds you and yours today, what makes you, so much more valuable than them?

    EVERY single person you ask this question, will sidestep the question and change the subject, I just destroyed Carl Sagan, on his G+ page, the Foundation for Truth and Science. He got angry at my questions, and promptly blocked me, so he didn’t have to answer. Would the real Carl Sagan please stand up:). According to my understanding of exponential growth as it pertains to viruses and bacteria, human population, is now growing faster, than any virus or bacteria known to man, it would be equivalent to you inhaling a single Ebola Virus, and that virus consumes and reproduces so fast, you’re dead in 55 seconds.

    I then promptly proceed to my second question: Show me the mathematical equation, that proves beyond a reasonable doubt, that this planet has the natural ability to produce enough fresh water to grow and sustain 15 billion people, and still have enough fresh water and space left, for the horticultural and agricultural necessities to sustain it? 100% of respondents, reply with words, thus, forcing me to remind them, do you know what the difference between words and numbers are? Words are opinion, numbers are facts, and you didn’t reply with numbers, thus your response will be quickly written off, as delusional rational, re-enforcing your schizophrenic reality.

    Abnormal human population, equals, abnormal human behavior, what is that abnormality? How do you stop exponential human population growth, if 7.5 billion people, are psychologically reliant on it? 95% of that population, believe it is normal for human beings, to exist in a controlled environment, ie: “Thou Shalt Not Kill” a human behavior modifier, that controls natural predisposition, of the evolutionary process to which created humans to begin with. However, everything science, history, mathematics, and psychology, clearly and definitively prove to the contrary. Controlling human behavior in this manner, creates the ideal environment for reproduction, and as you can see, with the numbers and links provided, that’s exactly what the human race does.

    We now do nothing but consume and reproduce, because the human race has created a psychologically controlled environment, allowing for it. If I’m not mistaken, intelligent life, doesn’t create a mathematical inevitability for itself does it? Leaving me, with very few logical psychological conclusions, other than schizophrenia, Schizo, meaning split, phrenic, meaning mind. A psychological split, or biological predisposition caused by the evolutionary process that created us, and the morals and ethics of a God and Government controlled environment, that you believe to be reality, but mathematically speaking, that’s not possible.

    Truth Is Singular, and the pursuit of truth, is the search for an absolution, that remains infinite. Every decision you make in your life, no matter how significant, or insignificant it is, directly affects the outcome of your life, and every life that decision encompasses, throughout time. The human races decision to control the environment, is the grand illusion, you believe, that for every law you make, you are eliminating that risk to everybodies existence, forever and ever amen. However, that’s not the case, you are not eliminating the risk, you are compounding 1000 fold, to a later time. The greater the population, the greater the risk to the entire population. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, was a huge breakthrough in science and mathematics, however, it requires people and a planet, to make it relative doesn’t it. Name one empire, in the history of manmade empires, that didn’t fail, what did they all have in common? A controlled environment. The next 50 years on earth, will prove to be the most dangerous time, for any human beings to exist.

    http://www.worldometers.info/

    [Links to user’s own websites removed by moderator]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.