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Re: [existlist] The phenomenology of a cat

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  • Herman
    Hi Jim, ... C mon, Jim. We can do better than this. After all, we are philosophers, not? I am glad that you have ditched the notion of things-in-themselves,
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 6, 2011
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      Hi Jim,

      On 6 June 2011 16:22, Jim <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

      >
      >
      > Hi Herman,
      >
      > Let me start my response by considering what you write at the end of your
      > post:
      >
      >
      > "The science and realism of which you speak is idealist. You, and them,
      > preconceive of the world being a certain, definite way, independent of
      > observation. In my book, that's called magical thinking."
      >
      > So what you call "magical thinking" is my belief that Tiger continues to
      > exist,
      >

      C'mon, Jim. We can do better than this. After all, we are philosophers, not?
      I am glad that you have ditched the notion of things-in-themselves, and are
      now discussing in terms of belief.



      > going in and out of the cat flap, chasing birds, climbing over fences,
      > sleeping on my bed, etc. whilst I am away at work. Or my belief that you get
      > up go to work, read Existlist posts, have meals etc., even though my only
      > "observation" of you is marks on my computer screens.
      >
      >
      Go on, describe me. Do I have a moustache? Am I six foot three? Do I have
      any characteristics at all? Or am I just a concept, void of any real
      characteristics?



      > I call this "rational thinking", and I think anybody who doesn't think
      > physical objects, including furry animals and human beings, continue to
      > exist when not observed, is lacking an appropriate sense of his place within
      > the overall scheme of things.
      >

      How do you think your cat might appear to a cockroach? Or to a being that
      lives in a 10-dimensional world? When beings like these consider the
      existence of your cat, what do you think they are imagining? Do they imagine
      something other than some characteristic of their own sensory capabilities,
      which are ever changing? What exactly constitutes the being of your cat?



      >
      > Now if the world of medium-sized physical objects such as cats and human
      > beings obeyed the laws of quantum mechanics, I may agree with you.
      >

      OK. But I must object on logical grounds, for to be of medium size is not a
      characteristic of anything. It is a relation, which is by definition
      dependent on an observer. If we just assume objects without reference to
      perspective and just call that rational, we are just begging the question




      > But quantum mechanics deals with the very, very small � electrons and the
      > like. We � me, you and Tiger � don't behave like electrons. Electrons,
      > supposed, behave both as particles and as waves, and their behaviour is
      > affected by an observer. We, on the other hand, behave just as particles. An
      > observer doesn't make me disappear � unless of course I owe him money. You
      > can measure both my position and velocity at the same time � unlike the
      > sub-atomic particles which are the domain for quantum mechanics.
      >


      OK.

      Yet, you may ingest a minute quantity of some white powder, say DMT, and
      your entire conceptual world will be blown to smithereens. You'll still be
      seeing, hearing, thinking, but your "physical objects" will just not be
      obeying any laws you know anything about. So, what gives? Don't you think
      this makes it necessary to always specify the state of the observer, no
      matter their relative size?




      >
      > Admittedly by extrapolating from the unobserved to the unobserved, I can
      > occasionally make mistakes. It is possible you are not a real human being
      > but a computer program written by some mad Buddhist scientists to fool
      > non-Buddhists like me.
      >
      > However, the whole of biology � and remember Aristotle was a keen biologist
      > � is based on the assumption that animals and plants are self-regulating
      > organisms. For example, cut my leg, and the rest of my body takes action to
      > heal the damaged area. Self-regulating organisms have a continued existence
      > over time, and their identity is not affected by observers � unless the
      > observers deliberately poke, prod or physically interfere with the thing
      > observed.
      >
      > Small furry animals are the paradigm example of things-in-themselves �
      > things which can continue to exist when unobserved. Perhaps Aristotle
      > developed his theory of substance and accident by observing his own furry
      > animal pet.
      >
      >

      Ohh, OK. You're back to the existence of things-in-themselves. No need to
      reply if you are not going to narrow down what that means other than a
      belief.

      BTW, Aristotle's favourite furry pet was probably a fourteen year old Nubian
      slave girl.


      Cheers


      Herman




      > Jim
      >
      >
      >


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    • Jim
      Herman, We seem to be making a little progress, as you appear to be admitting that my cat continues to exist when nobody is looking at her. This is the basis
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 7, 2011
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        Herman,

        We seem to be making a little progress, as you appear to be admitting that my cat continues to exist when nobody is looking at her.

        This is the basis for my scientific realism: my cat has some intrinsic properties which are not observer-dependent. For example the cat has a certain height, weight and her cells have a certain DNA code. All these properties are observer-independent. Philosophers traditionally call these "primary qualities".

        I agree other properties like colour, furriness, smell (examples of "secondary qualities") are, on the other hand, observer-dependent.

        With regard to size – sure my cat looks large to a cockroach and small to a hundred-foot alien. But both the cockroach and the alien – if they were intelligent – could agree my cat was 70 centimetres long and 30 centimetres tall (or whatever).

        The state of the observer determines how a physical object appears, but not how the object is in-itself. Sure my cat appears differently to different types of observer (or me in different psychological states), but the intrinsic properties of my cat are not affected by the observer. I don't affect the weight of my cat by looking at her. The cockroach doesn't affect the height of my cat by observing it, etc.

        Further the laws of nature don't change when I take hallucinatory drugs – just the appearance of things change.

        Jim
      • Herman
        Hi Jim, Mary and all, I m off on a South Pacific cruise, so I ll be off the air for a week and a bit. In the meantime, thanks for the conversations. Cheers
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 8, 2011
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          Hi Jim, Mary and all,

          I'm off on a South Pacific cruise, so I'll be off the air for a week and a
          bit. In the meantime, thanks for the conversations.

          Cheers


          Herman


          On 7 June 2011 22:11, Jim <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

          >
          >
          > Herman,
          >
          > We seem to be making a little progress, as you appear to be admitting that
          > my cat continues to exist when nobody is looking at her.
          >
          > This is the basis for my scientific realism: my cat has some intrinsic
          > properties which are not observer-dependent. For example the cat has a
          > certain height, weight and her cells have a certain DNA code. All these
          > properties are observer-independent. Philosophers traditionally call these
          > "primary qualities".
          >
          > I agree other properties like colour, furriness, smell (examples of
          > "secondary qualities") are, on the other hand, observer-dependent.
          >
          > With regard to size � sure my cat looks large to a cockroach and small to a
          > hundred-foot alien. But both the cockroach and the alien � if they were
          > intelligent � could agree my cat was 70 centimetres long and 30 centimetres
          > tall (or whatever).
          >
          > The state of the observer determines how a physical object appears, but not
          > how the object is in-itself. Sure my cat appears differently to different
          > types of observer (or me in different psychological states), but the
          > intrinsic properties of my cat are not affected by the observer. I don't
          > affect the weight of my cat by looking at her. The cockroach doesn't affect
          > the height of my cat by observing it, etc.
          >
          > Further the laws of nature don't change when I take hallucinatory drugs �
          > just the appearance of things change.
          >
          > Jim
          >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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