What is Metaphysical Naturalism?

Discuss philosophical concepts and moral issues.
plebian
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Post by plebian » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:22 pm

[quote=""Grendel""]The laws of physics? Am I right?

:) [/quote]

so pure math is supernatural?

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:37 pm

Pure math is a measurement, not an entity. Dimensions are not entities, dimensions are just measurements.

For example, Pythagoras' theorem shows that 'space' is an asymmetry, a measurement not an entity. Measurements, tho incorrect, are not entities. They are tools. Tools are not supernatural.

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Cheerful Charlie
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Post by Cheerful Charlie » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:07 am

[quote=""plebian""]
Cheerful Charlie;678818 wrote:
BWE;678816 wrote:Without unsupported assertions, i.e. non-scientific hypotheses, progress would stagnate. There's a lot to be said for scientific research but creativity should not be bound to such a narrow range of thinking. Imo.

Anyway, I'm waiting for a definition of supernatural that meaningfully distinguishes pure maths and social theory from alchemy and witchcraft. For that matter, one that can place the attitude and approach of mystics in one or the other category.

There is a serious complication involving the ideas of purpose and intention that makes me unwilling to fully dismiss certain ways of approaching ideas rather than certain ideas that seem to be falsified.
There comes a time, where unsupported ideas that cannot be defined, much less demonstrated, need to be abandoned. Some ideas, like non-existent perfect gases serve a purpose as a start to demonstrate how gases work in the real world. Supernaturalism is not such a useful fiction. Magic is another concept that doesn't work and has outlived its usefulness. The time has come to abandon such things because they have proven not fruitful, useful, or true in any sense.

If that pisses people off, so be it. The proper way to deal with such concepts is to abandon them with the provisio that if anybody wants to argue for them, they will have to present evidence and a good reason to not throw that out as a failed hypothesis that has never done anything real world useful.

Why waste time with woo woo of this sort?
what criteria would you use to abandon ideas?[/QUOTE]

When some idea is useless, cannot be demonstrated to exist, do not give us knowledge of anything, or worse, are used as a vague hypothesis to prop up other intellectually wanting ideas.

In science, we have methodological naturalism. Supernaturalism has never been useful in the realm of science. Old ideas that were once in vogue but now are seen as the errors of thinking they are.

In the not so distant past, Western civilizations believed occultism existed, magic existed, and was used by witches to kill cattle and cause destructive storms or cause epidemics. Most people now know magic does not exist. Witches don't cause epidemics. Magic as an organizing concept is no longer part of science, or most religion.

The entire underlying claims and theories made about alchemy are abandoned by science.

New age woo based on fallacious ideas about the nature of Quantum mechanics is a new bad idea being peddled today by many new age gurus.

Bible literalism is another good one. The Earth is not 6000 years old and center of the Universe.

Basic claims that underlie entire nests of erroneous thinking and ideas.
Cheerful Charlie

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:10 am

[quote=""Grendel""]The laws of physics? Am I right?

:) [/quote]

So you’d use the laws of physics to decide what the laws of physics are? Will that be before or after you learn to fly by grasping your feet and pulling upwards firmly.

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:28 am

[quote=""Grendel""]Pure math is a measurement, not an entity. Dimensions are not entities, dimensions are just measurements.

For example, Pythagoras' theorem shows that 'space' is an asymmetry, a measurement not an entity. Measurements, tho incorrect, are not entities. They are tools. Tools are not supernatural.[/quote]

You literally couldn’t be more wrong. Pure maths is maths done in the abstract and measurement is a concrete activity. The moment you start measuring the world, what you are doing is not pure maths.

Just Google it. Then google Banach Tarski. The result is both counter intuitive and impossible to reach from physics. It’s one, of many, examples of things that, while they supervene upon the physical world, are unexpected and irreducible emergent properties. As it stand, metaphysical naturalism would call these entities supernatural.

So you and Charlie can rant on about the supernatural as being ghosts and stuff, but that’s not what anyone here is talking about..

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:44 am

Why am I always 'literally' wrong? Can't I just be wrong for a change?

:)

The way I see it is this: Maths is the language of physics. It communicates measurements of distinction, difference. That's all.

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:58 am

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
Grendel;678823 wrote:The laws of physics? Am I right?

:)
So you’d use the laws of physics to decide what the laws of physics are?[/QUOTE]

Actually, that's spot on.

Why do you think that part of a closed system which obeys the laws of conservation is incapable of understanding the system? It doesn't matter where you poke it, it hurts the same, even if you poke it from the inside.

:cool:

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:07 am

[quote=""Grendel""]Why am I always 'literally' wrong? Can't I just be wrong for a change?

:)

The way I see it is this: Maths is the language of physics. It communicates measurements of distinction, difference. That's all.[/quote]

Ok, you are just wrong.

Again.

Even if you were right, and I really can assure you that you are not, the fact is that while physics relies on maths, maths doesn't rely on physics. Maths, like logic, does not take the physical world as its foundation, but instead relies on internal consistency.

This is what makes it such a valuable tool for physicists - it's a tool that has a well worked out metaphysics that doesn't rely on the world. This also means that, by the account of metaphysical naturalism being pimped here, pure maths and logic are supernatural.

One of my points throughout has been that if you have a metaphysics that cannot distinguish between woo and pure maths, you have a bad metaphysics.

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:24 am

Maybe we have different ideas. I don't know what you're calling supernatural. But for me supernatural implies some lind of motive force or difference in field value that cannot be accounted by the laws of physics.

Theories, languages, even thought, imagination, are not motive forces, have no field value, are not quantifiable.

God is a supernatural force if he exists, Spirit is a supernatural force if it exists. Intelligent Design is a supernatural force if it exists. But a belief in God is not a supernatural force, if it exists.

Please stop being so tediously pernickety!

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:28 am

[quote=""Grendel""]
subsymbolic;678854 wrote:
Grendel;678823 wrote:The laws of physics? Am I right?

:)
So you’d use the laws of physics to decide what the laws of physics are?
Actually, that's spot on.

Why do you think that part of a closed system which obeys the laws of conservation is incapable of understanding the system? It doesn't matter where you poke it, it hurts the same, even if you poke it from the inside.

:cool: [/QUOTE]

The easy answer would be 'Godel'.

However, let's just take the premise:
It doesn't matter where you poke it, it hurts the same, even if you poke it from the inside.
I'm not going to bother trying to explain the metaphysical problems as that's never worked in the past. So lets try something different:

Explain to me what 'hurting' is. Sure, physics can tell me all about damage and nociception, but what it can't tell me about is the hurting. The actual feel of the pain is something that is unique to you.

I'm presuming that when you hurt yourself you feel pain? If not then that's another conversation.

So, the pain you feel. Can you share it? Sure you can tell someone that you judge yourself to be in pain, but that's not sharing the pain, it's sharing the judgement. So you have this anecdotal report that cannot be verified, or repeated outside of your head. You, as a good metaphysical naturalist cannot admit pain into your ontology. Or if you can, how do you distinguish between pain and other anecdotal non repeatable and untestable phenomena?

I'm disappointed that you'd wish to use such supernatural ideas.

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:00 am

I'm not a metaphysical naturalist just because I posted in this thread. I'm not one even if I didn't post in this thread.

I totally get your point that whatever I say is subjective to me, and that in order to be as objective as possible, my opinion that the sun will rise tomorrow cannot be a fact before it rises. Things must occur sequentially if they are to occur at all. Causation is paramount. That there can be no laws of physics without first having a valid meta-physics

I got it, thank you.

What can one say about Godel? Moo?

:cool:

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:10 am

[quote=""Grendel""]Maybe we have different ideas. I don't know what you're calling supernatural. But for me supernatural implies some lind of motive force or difference in field value that cannot be accounted by the laws of physics.

Theories, languages, even thought, imagination, are not motive forces, have no field value, are not quantifiable.

God is a supernatural force if he exists, Spirit is a supernatural force if it exists. Intelligent Design is a supernatural force if it exists. But a belief in God is not a supernatural force, if it exists.

Please stop being so tediously pernickety![/quote]

I'm afraid that both good science and good philosophy is all about being pernickety, because the details matter.

As long as your definition preemptively assumes the very thing you need to prove, you have a problem.

As for the word 'Supernatural', that's Charlie's problem, not mine.

I'm a monist and hold that there is only one sort of stuff that can be arranged in some pretty astonishing ways, including some that are irreducibly emergent, but still supervene on the same stuff as everything else.

As such, the question of supernatural entities doesn't really trouble me. The fact that some things almost certainly cannot be accounted for by the laws of physics doesn't trouble me either.

I'm not hugely concerned about The Supernatural - either it will be reduced, eliminated or, and this is important, science will change to accommodate it, which includes people accepting that the scientific method isn't always the best tool for the job.

However, anyone who wants to claim that supernatural entities are made of some other stuff, then I'll want to see the bridging rules. I'm perfectly happy that there might be another sort of stuff that never interacts with us, but I'd want to know how we know about it.

Likewise, if someone wants to claim this other stuff interacts with us all the time, I'll want to see evidence of that interaction that fits in with everything else we know to be true. Simple.

You'll notice that my account has nice simple rules for falsification, doesn't prejudge the issues and is nicely deflationary - I don't think that science is complete or completable and I'm acutely aware of Asimov's point about magic.

I'm always bemused when people think that science has to be (or even can be) the measure of all things. It's a fundamentalist position.

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:25 am

I'm not a metaphysical naturalist just because I posted in this thread. I'm not one even if I didn't post in this thread.
Quite so, however, you are a metaphysical naturalist if you say things like:
You wrote:Natural is that which does not break the laws of physics, and Supernatural does. Simple hehee.
(post 36)
I totally get your point that whatever I say is subjective to me,
No, whatever you feel is subjective to you. Whatever you say is way more complicated.
and that in order to be as objective as possible, my opinion that the sun will rise tomorrow cannot be a fact before it rises.
Of course it is a fact, or nothing is. What makes something a fact hasn't been a simple matter of correspondence for decades. These days, correlation across theories is far more important - as such the interrelation of celestial mechanics is so integrated and well understood that any claim that the sun will rise tomorrow is asymptotically certain.
Things must occur sequentially if they are to occur at all.
Um...
Causation is paramount.
Actually, causation is probably supernatural by your definition above.
That there can be no laws of physics without first having a valid meta-physics
Yup!
I got it, thank you.
What can one say about Godel? Moo?
He plagiarised Russell?

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:42 am

[quote=""subsymbolic""]

He plagiarised Russell?[/quote]

The dirty bastard! Where will it end? Russell plagiarised Boethius.

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:51 am

SUB I'm a monist and hold that there is only one sort of stuff that can be arranged in some pretty astonishing ways, including some that are irreducibly emergent, but still supervene on the same stuff as everything else.

There you go. You're almost there. Drop down another level or two and you'll be with me. We'll be able to discuss with equality ... :D

(Altho you'll have to give up that tendency to wander into existential nihilism)

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:19 am

[quote=""Grendel""]SUB I'm a monist and hold that there is only one sort of stuff that can be arranged in some pretty astonishing ways, including some that are irreducibly emergent, but still supervene on the same stuff as everything else.

There you go. You're almost there. Drop down another level or two and you'll be with me. We'll be able to discuss with equality ... :D

(Altho you'll have to give up that tendency to wander into existential nihilism)[/quote]

No it’s ok, you can be king of all the levels below monism.

Incidentally, can I offer you seven red lines?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

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Grendel
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Post by Grendel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:16 pm

I don't get the point of the vid. Is it just a putdown?

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:08 pm

[quote=""Grendel""]I don't get the point of the vid. Is it just a putdown?[/quote]

If you wish to see it that way. I think perhaps you want to see it as an insight. That's what it feels like to be someone who actually knows what they are talking about in a domain when in situations like this. I also find it hilariously funny.

Or you could explain what a 'level below monism' looks like given that monism is the idea that there is only one sort of stuff in the universe.

Just pause and think how it must feel to someone for whom these words are technical tools and who actually cares about their discipline.

Dr Zoidberg summed it up nicely yesterday:
DrZ wrote: If you look at university graduates, people are better educated than ever before.

What is happening is a flattening of the value of that education. A university degree used to be rare, and a golden ticket. Today it's simply required, just to get a decent paying job.

The problem isn't a lack of educated people. The problem is that the voices of the educated are being drowned out by the voices of the uneducated. I think that is a result of the Internet.

Before getting your opinions published was expensive. So only holders of the golden tickets could get a platform at all. The only voices we ever heard was from the educated.

Today there's no threshold. Uneducated opinions are cheaper to write and print, because they require no homework. So we're flooded by them. It's harder than ever to judge who is worth listening to.

Almost daily I see educated people I know on Facebook who shares something dumb. And that's just the stuff I catch. Who knows how much idiocy I've lazily accepted as truth? I've also been caught sharing dumb shit on Facebook. But thanks to people pointing it out in the comments did I wisen up.

It's just sooooo much. It's a problem.
https://www.secularcafe.org/showthread. ... post678767

Before yesterday I wouldn't have blamed non experts talking toss for Trump, today I do.

See, it's easy to convince me of things, you just have to be right.

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Post by BWE » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:22 pm

[quote=""Grendel""]I'm not a metaphysical naturalist just because I posted in this thread. I'm not one even if I didn't post in this thread.

I totally get your point that whatever I say is subjective to me, and that in order to be as objective as possible, my opinion that the sun will rise tomorrow cannot be a fact before it rises. Things must occur sequentially if they are to occur at all. Causation is paramount. That there can be no laws of physics without first having a valid meta-physics

I got it, thank you.

What can one say about Godel? Moo?

:cool: [/quote]

As much as Hofstadter gets a bad rap these days, the weird recursiveness of self reference in systems of pure logic (coding/decoding) is a thing. And, while there are formal axiomatic systems which avoid godel incompleteness, the issue of self reference can't escape the trap.

If there is a place for mystical approaches to ontologies, that's not a bad place to start. That plus the actual relativity of time. So, while mu may seem like a joke there, I would suggest that it might be more apt than we accept at first glance.

I think that's about where Max Tegmark comes in.

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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:57 pm

[quote=""BWE""]
Grendel;678865 wrote:I'm not a metaphysical naturalist just because I posted in this thread. I'm not one even if I didn't post in this thread.

I totally get your point that whatever I say is subjective to me, and that in order to be as objective as possible, my opinion that the sun will rise tomorrow cannot be a fact before it rises. Things must occur sequentially if they are to occur at all. Causation is paramount. That there can be no laws of physics without first having a valid meta-physics

I got it, thank you.

What can one say about Godel? Moo?

:cool:
As much as Hofstadter gets a bad rap these days, the weird recursiveness of self reference in systems of pure logic (coding/decoding) is a thing. And, while there are formal axiomatic systems which avoid godel incompleteness, the issue of self reference can't escape the trap.

If there is a place for mystical approaches to ontologies, that's not a bad place to start. That plus the actual relativity of time. So, while mu may seem like a joke there, I would suggest that it might be more apt than we accept at first glance.

I think that's about where Max Tegmark comes in.[/QUOTE]

Aunt Hillary supernatural? The horror.

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Post by BWE » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:03 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
BWE;678902 wrote:
Grendel;678865 wrote:I'm not a metaphysical naturalist just because I posted in this thread. I'm not one even if I didn't post in this thread.

I totally get your point that whatever I say is subjective to me, and that in order to be as objective as possible, my opinion that the sun will rise tomorrow cannot be a fact before it rises. Things must occur sequentially if they are to occur at all. Causation is paramount. That there can be no laws of physics without first having a valid meta-physics

I got it, thank you.

What can one say about Godel? Moo?

:cool:
As much as Hofstadter gets a bad rap these days, the weird recursiveness of self reference in systems of pure logic (coding/decoding) is a thing. And, while there are formal axiomatic systems which avoid godel incompleteness, the issue of self reference can't escape the trap.

If there is a place for mystical approaches to ontologies, that's not a bad place to start. That plus the actual relativity of time. So, while mu may seem like a joke there, I would suggest that it might be more apt than we accept at first glance.

I think that's about where Max Tegmark comes in.
Aunt Hillary supernatural? The horror.[/QUOTE]

Well, that's a really good example actually. The key to any systems view is the point that the whole is different than the sum of its parts. So, if there are wholes that don't make the cut based on logic that applies to the parts, we have a substantial problem with all science that isn't physics. Which might go a long way towards explaining the fundamentalist view of physics as truth and as reality. Aunt Hillary isn't a particularly far fetched metaphor. Especially considering what it is a metaphor for, so to speak.

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Cheerful Charlie
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Post by Cheerful Charlie » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:19 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
Grendel;678823 wrote:The laws of physics? Am I right?

:)
So you’d use the laws of physics to decide what the laws of physics are? Will that be before or after you learn to fly by grasping your feet and pulling upwards firmly.[/QUOTE]

Galileo noted that the physics of his day was full of nonsense. So he boldly threw out all physics of his day and started investigating physics from scratch, establishing physics on sound observations.. This is how one does physics. By observation and experiment.

Just sayin'......
Cheerful Charlie

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Post by BWE » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:23 pm

[quote=""Cheerful Charlie""]
subsymbolic;678854 wrote:
Grendel;678823 wrote:The laws of physics? Am I right?

:)
So you’d use the laws of physics to decide what the laws of physics are? Will that be before or after you learn to fly by grasping your feet and pulling upwards firmly.
Galileo noted that the physics of his day was full of nonsense. So he boldly threw out all physics of his day and started investigating physics from scratch, establishing physics on sound observations.. This is how one does physics. By observation and experiment.

Just sayin'......[/QUOTE]

How does grendel's point that causation is an artifact of a Newtonian perspective (Which is an important thing in the new science) fit with this then? Iow, what are we keeping? Newtonian mechanics are super useful even though some of it is demonstrably false. At this point, it seems more like an effort to dictate what others should find useful.

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Post by BWE » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:24 pm

Btw, interesting conversation. Thanks all for taking part.

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:45 pm

[quote=""Cheerful Charlie""]
subsymbolic;678854 wrote:
Grendel;678823 wrote:The laws of physics? Am I right?

:)
So you’d use the laws of physics to decide what the laws of physics are? Will that be before or after you learn to fly by grasping your feet and pulling upwards firmly.
Galileo noted that the physics of his day was full of nonsense. So he boldly threw out all physics of his day and started investigating physics from scratch, establishing physics on sound observations.. This is how one does physics. By observation and experiment.

Just sayin'......[/QUOTE]

Except that the claim is absolute nonsense. There were dozens of systems in play, Copernicus was building on Peuerbach and indeed the Ptolemaic system, as were others: Brahe, Kepler, Bar and Regiomontanus. Kuhn painfully and illegitimately oversimplified a situation that was described so much more elegantly by Feyerabend. The idea of Copernicus as a lone genius turning the world upside down doesn't fit the historical, scientific or philosophical facts. Even if he wasn't just one of many working through an evolutionary rather than revolutionary process, the fact is that he wasn't investigating physics from scratch, he was putting forward a slightly different model of celestial mechanics using perfectly traditional tools combined with the increased accuracy made possible by better timekeeping and telescopes.

Apart from that...

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