Re: failure of debate

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sun Mar 05 2000 - 10:42:19 MST

On Tuesday, February 22, 2000 9:07 AM Rob Harris wrote:
> Even more important and fundamental is to define the components of
> propositions being made. In terms of the existence of qualia, we must,
> BEFORE anything else, define both existence
> and qualia. We have defined qualia many times, so I won't bore you again,
> but not existence. This, like a great many other commonly used words is
> assumed defined, the existence of a coherent symbolic counterpart in our
> minds being the source of the assumption. But these symbols, useful to the
> animal within us, are far from dependable when working with pure logic. In
> fact, they don't have to have any counterpart in reality at all.
> The failure of certain people to acknowledge the above leads to
> such as "Qualia does not exist". Well, my definition for entities that
> is those entities I can perceive through my senses either directly or
> indirectly. I know of no other definition. Given this, it is irrational to
> propose that qualia do not "exist", since we all directly perceive them.
> I could go on all day, but the points I'd make I've already posted several
> times to no effect.
> Got any comments folks? Any alternative definitions of existence? From
> we can begin a real debate - not from ten miles down a line of highly
> questionable personal assumptions as is usually the case. Take out the
> ambiguity from the bottom up, and then you'll see former matters of
> become matters of fact, and real progress on issues can be made, avoiding
> the "who's got the biggest golden hat?" game that humans seem incapable of
> avoiding even when engaged in supposed rational debate.

I have no read all of this thread, but the problem with Rob Harris'
definition of "existence" is that it makes it utterly dependent on
consciousness. (It's pretty close to Berkeley's saying that for
NON-spiritual beings, "to be is to be perceived.") This would limit
existence to only those things which one can perceive or infer from sense
perception. I call this the positivist fallacy...

Now, I _agree_ that to know something exists, one must perceive it or
somehow infer it from sense perception, but knowledge [of existence! What
else is there to have knowledge of?:)] is not the same as existence.

What is my definition of "existence"? I don't offer one. Instead, I accept
Rand's view that existence is an axiomatic concept -- any attempt to define
it results in a circular definition, any attempt to deny it assumes it.

In this context, though, to have an experience does mean something exists.
I had a dream or several last night. As dreams, they existed and I
perceived them. Yet, they did not, as far as I can tell, refer to any
reality external to me. The same is true, e.g., when one presses one's
closed eyes and sees all sorts of colors. These colors are the result of
pressure and _exist_ in the sense that one experiences them, but they do not
correspond to the color of the space one is in. (Most of this kind of
confusion, anyway, is the result of making judgments based on perception.
The mirage illusion does not mean that the mirage as a mirage does not
exist. Instead, one's confusion of that perception with water (say, a lake)
is where the problem lies.)

Hopefully still existing as you read this,:)

Daniel Ust

"Existence itself is holy enough." -- Nietzsche

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