Existentialism discussion


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message 1: by Feliks (last edited Nov 17, 2013 02:53PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) If 'we all' ...*believe something* ...to be 'true'..does that yet make it 'objective'? Is that enough for us to say it is true? Or is it still just something that we happen to believe? Do large numbers necessarily make something real?

Thought for the day.

message 2: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 85 comments Absolutely not. Large numbers of people believe in all sorts of ridiculous things.

message 3: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 85 comments It is sometimes called the Bandwagon Argument.

message 4: by rahul (new)

rahul (rahulraina) | 7 comments Over the course of history, so many notions that were thought to be true were disproved by scientific observation. From the top of my head, earth being the center of the Universe. On a philosophical level, any new knowledge that we receive should be accepted with a subtle humility( unsaid ) that says tomorrow I could be proved wrong.( Just my opinion )

message 5: by Feliks (last edited Nov 18, 2013 08:56AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Bandwagon..I know, I know, thanks. I know about Kuhn and the structure of scientific revolutions and helio-centricism and Aristotle's tadpoles and 'noxious swamp vapors' and dowsing rods and the wonderful anecdote about the 'ether theory of light'.

What I'm talking about is modern-day; the cockiness and arrogance that the sci-tech industry seems to have. Of course no one is really sure what current theory of particle physics will last out the year; its a rapidly changing discipline. They're probing into the unknown.

But I'm not talking about esoteric areas of astrophysics or genetics or any other zone which is yielding new discoveries. I'm rather referring to all the most basic, established, fundamental, underlying nuts'n'bolts about reality and consciousness and our environment and our bodies. We all believe the sky is blue, we all believe grass is green, etc etc etc.

When our lungs breathe in air, people probably the world over refer to that motion commonly as the motion of our chests 'rising and falling' (not in those exact words). But just because a human experience is universal.. (not merely a majority vs a minority) but a universal belief...the ones we rely on every day. Is universality an iron-clad guarantee that anything is really so?

This is why I chose David Hume for the tag of this discussion.

message 6: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 85 comments There are no universal beliefs.

message 7: by Feliks (last edited Nov 18, 2013 10:23AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) But there is universality; to which we have various reactions (belief, comprehension, ethical posture, etc).

Isn't the first priority to determine whether those reactions are true or not?

Recently some rogue physicist reminded his profession that if the human eye was engineered from the first, in a certain way to neglect the detection of some scientific phenomenon; all the instruments we build might not be able to help us arrive at it. Wise admonition, I say.

message 8: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 85 comments Sorry, but I am not comprehending your point. I'll still trust my thermometer.

message 9: by Feliks (last edited Nov 21, 2013 08:47AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) These are murky waters, difficult to make clear. Abstruse in nature. I appreciate you hanging in there and who knows? Maybe you will come back later with the footstep we need to pursue the trail further...

Think about it this way: many times people try to settle debates with the 'fallacy of the majority'. But we know from Plato on down to Ibsen that 'the majority is never right'. We know we must always remain dubious to any argument where any position is supported by 'most' people.

But the arguments I'm talking about are not those in any case. I'm talking about those which are settled by someone pointing out that "hey, *everyone* knows that...".

Trying to find a worthy example (without stubbing one's toe on some minuscule point such as 'what is a universal?'..). At the risk of repeating myself: if there were some notion all humans felt was 'true'..and I mean every single man, woman and child on earth. Would that make it true? I think..not.

We make thermometers and binoculars and seismographs based on our attentiveness to certain scientific 'constants' or principles..even so, does this mean they are 'true'? Or are they simply true "locally", (only for the current environment each of us occupies)? Einstein trumped Newton, there's always a chance that anything we think we know absolutely is not quite absolutely true...

message 10: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Coincidentally I just picked up 'Problems in Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell and it treats exactly of this topic :p

message 11: by Dan's (new)

Dan's | 11 comments Darn it all to hell! I was returning a book.. and they coldnt replace it with a book I had in hand.. [same title incidentally but transfered in Gr] for some logistical problem. Now it is lost or held on some back pocket. Have U tried his approach in Western philosophy as well;

And I would realy like to read that book of his , if only I get an upside on my luck! Let m eknow how it goes, or if U got any good stuff to ãdd in this current debate [although I suppose ur other contributors-debaters have long given up on this thread!! ha ha]

You articulate yr reasons[postulate yr counter'arguments]in a very straightforward manner, and perhaps it seems that U loose them half of the way!

message 12: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) :D
I'm in danger of losing myself sometimes, heh heh!

message 13: by Steve (new)

Steve Fagerhaug | 1 comments 'Problems in Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell
is free and available at the Gutenberg project:


message 14: by Littlevision (new)

Littlevision | 38 comments Mod
Universality is a concept, but is anything truly universal (perfect application of the concept of universality)?

message 15: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) You're on the right track. Russell confirms what you just said. But slightly different: (if I can try to paraphrase) he states that when we make an instance of a universal, it then becomes a concept.

Applying a concept..(?) I would guess that its never perfect. But I think what Russell lays stress on is whether we understand a concept or not with our meager reasoning powers and faculties; and even if so, is it still valid.

message 16: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Hey Steve, thank you. But I still would have purchased a hardcopy. I can't do any serious reading via a digital medium.

message 17: by Dan's (last edited Nov 22, 2013 01:59PM) (new)

Dan's | 11 comments LλΩ wrote: "Universality is a concept, but is anything truly universal (perfect application of the concept of universality)?"

Well now let me see Universality in a ~cosmic scale~ that is.. Surely would be a far'fetched scenario, even for the more optimistic astro(xeno)-biologist. But if we look closely on some physical laws, they are quite specific about our planet, or more specifically in height or outter environment conditions.

Still in my mind I ponder on this exquisite , but still far fetched idea. What if our Universre is but a tiny speck in our galaxy's spiral arm that dazzles and spins in unknown places of the cosmos. Lets take a priori that certain conditions abide in certain areas, then if we get to pass through this areas, we might as well experience these changes. More or less like an outbound ship exerieces changes in atmosphere and gravitational pull in the surface of Mars or Venus.. But my basic premise would be more in line with the way a babushka doll is hidden inside a myriad of others, the initial one is hidden in the center, with only little info of its place, lets assume that a certain precondition, is specific on its case. ..then as we move to the next one, engulfing it, the same condition is applied added with another one, that proves its limitations, it hinders it in a certain degree. And so on and on, till we get a completely different perspective where all these ~universal laws~ have been altered to a completely alien perspective.

Just a thought atm, hope I am making much sence to the rest of you out there.

message 18: by Littlevision (new)

Littlevision | 38 comments Mod
So, if something IS, something certainly appears to BE, just IS (take linear concept of gravity for example; Newtonian), it would seem - well, this is a universal concept. It is totally in line with the concept of universality, can be applied on the smallest scale from particles to the largest scale of multiverses. But even the most basic things can be questioned (thank you, Einstein).

As mentioned, something that is widely accepted is "universally believed"... but not universal. So "universal" is the modifier and belief is the thing. The idea of gravity is still a belief.

"Universal laws are" laws perceived to be universal. Perception inherently equals objectivity. If it can be perceived one way it can be perceived another.

message 19: by Rob the Obscure (last edited Nov 30, 2013 04:48PM) (new)

Rob the Obscure Feliks: your question keeps morphing. That can go on forever.

Your first question: "If we all believe something to be true, does that make it objective?" Certainly not. Belief is belief. It is inherently subjective. Just because many people believe something, that has no relationship to objectivity. Objectivity is not increased by multiplying it times the number of "believers".

Your example about green grass and blue sky: We all agree the sky is "blue" through convention. "Blue" is a label that has been conventionally fixed to a certain segment of the color spectrum. However, I don't believe we have any way of knowing whether what I "see" when I look at "blue" is precisely the same as what you see when you look at blue.

Do large numbers make something "real"? Absolutely not. This should be obvious because millions often categorically disagree with something millions of others believe is true.

I agree with Jimmy - I know of no universal belief.

Littlevision: "Perception inherently equals objectivity." Huh?

message 20: by J (new)

J | 12 comments Dan's wrote: "LλΩ wrote: "Universality is a concept, but is anything truly universal (perfect application of the concept of universality)?"

Well now let me see Universality in a ~cosmic scale~ that is.. Surel..."

Not Babushka, but Matroyshka. Babushka is grandma

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