Sorite’s Paradox Reconsidered: Materialism Defeated

2 years, 1 month ago

According to the Sorite’s Paradox there is no true meaning to qualitative quantities. The most popular example of explaining this paradox is the term ‘heap.’ If a pile of sand is first recognized as a heap of sand, then where would the line be drawn on how many grains of sand would have to be removed for the remaining grains of sand not to be considered a heap? The paradox states that there couldn’t possibly be any precise number of grains of sand would define the pile as a heap, and therefore everyone’s perceptions are wildly different and the word has no real meaning.
It seems preposterous to believe that such a word has no relative meaning to different people. If I was in front of a pile of sand, and one grain of sand was removed at a time I can guarantee that the pile would never be less than a certain size whether my internal definition be 10285 grains of sand or 5621 grains of sand. An exaggerated example of what I mean is that I would never let the pile get lower than 10 grains because that would violate my perception of a heap of sand. Now if this experiment was done 1000 times on me I might get all different numbers of what my final grain count was, but it would never get to lower than 10 grains of sand. There is a finite range of numbers that create this barrier between heap and not a heap. Since there is a finite difference in my perception of heap, this word does have meaning. The Global meaning of the word heap will differ, but can be expressed with relatively little difference between two different people without mentioning exact quantifications. The fact that humans are able to communicate qualitative descriptions to each other such as feelings and so forth means that our brains are not just physical machines. Therefore we cannot be duplicated by artificial intelligence. I am not a robot; I have a brain and a soul.
I was previously very materialistic on my views of the mind, but now I’m leaning more towards dualism. Am I jumping the gun here? As I realize it is a very steep dismount.

December 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@ijesuschrist, rofl, I don’t know either. I was so tired last night, and my judgment gets really impaired when I’m sleep-deprived. This happened before, I think. You were drunk, and I was exhausted. Not the best recipe for a conversation.

In the end I think we agree. Although the current model currently does not fully explain consciousness, we’re going in the right direction. Disruptions in consciousness have been demonstrated when certain areas of the brain structure are affected.

I think we owe most of our confusion to different meanings of “process.” So, we agree that quantitative things can be processed into qualitative experiences in conscious individuals.

Our brains were going in the same direction, since you went into the second meaning I thought of by mentioning that “the mind is able to contemplate consciousness in its own actions.” There was just a communication error between us, since I should have specified what I meant.

Our brains can “process” or “contemplate” qualitative experiences in a way, but those qualitative experiences are really just an amalgamation of quantitative things that emerge qualitative.

Oh, and congrats!

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Profile photo of Tine Tine (@tine) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@dkman,

the pile argument seems a little silly, its semantics, of course what one decides is a pile another might feel differently, its a descriptive term, not meant to relay a specific amount, but a general amount,

everyone views reality differently, everyone uses terms differently, and because everyone is unique in regards to their accumulation of knowledge and experience, everybody puts different meaning to different words in terms of relevance, and even in definition (slang),

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Profile photo of Matt Matt (@greenthinker) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

I don’t know what this conversation is about anymore, but I think you misinterpreted that paradox.

That paradox has to do with the idea that one grain of sand cannot represent a heap. If you have 1 grain, then 2, then 3, and so on, it would be ridiculous to all at once decide you have a heap at 14,563, but not at 14,562.

At least that is the way it was explained in my philosophy class. It is more a play on language than anything.

There is a reason it is called a paradox lol, unless you think god can create a stone which he himself cannot lift.

=)

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Profile photo of dave dave (@dkman) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@ijesuschrist
You stated that consciousness is a side effect of a complex brain. Where is the line drawn between complex and not complex, as you believe there is no heap, there can be no complex for you either. Am I messing up my logic or is this correct? So consciousness must be inherent in anything with a brain according to you, which I disagree with. It takes a few years before a baby can recognize itself in a mirror meaning that its brain must grow and become complex before it can gain consciousness. Therefore qualia such as ‘complex’ and ‘heap’ do have meaning, and we are not robots.

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@dkman, I don’t think there is a line, so you’re logic is right.

However recognizing one’s self in the mirror doesn’t mean one is not conscious, it just means one cannot recognize one’s self in the mirror! The idea of “self” isn’t always synonymous to consciousness, although we seem to put the two together.

Consciousness is just the ability for us to actually, oddly, experience.

And not remembering your baby moments has probably more to do with memory than consciousness…

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Profile photo of Egarim Egarim C (@egarim) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@dkman,

It’s a heap and not a heap at the same time. It’s all perception. I personally follow the philosophy of the duality (opposing qualities and “truths” are both true and not true).

My Duality Explanation: http://www.highexistence.com/topic/understanding-the-duality/

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Profile photo of dave dave (@dkman) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@ijesuschrist
Haha, I know that baby thing was a little off, I was just trying to make a point. Thanks for your insight, I’m glad this website exists in order for people to converse about random philosophy. Good times

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@dkman, Sure, modern computers may be incapable of producing qualatative statements. However, human brains are the end result of billions of years of evolution. Computers are are the end result of, at most, a few hundred years. Is it a surprise that our brains can do things that computers cannot? Of course not.

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Profile photo of Amazingbonz Amazingbonz (@amazingbonz) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

I believe our brains are a lot like computers, the only thing really separating it is emotion. Our brain is just complex chemical reactions of neurons, much like a very advanced circuit, hard drive memory, RAM short term, etc. Like others have said before, qualitative is just a comparison. A computer could potentially take an average of sizes of “a heap of sand” and compare them qualitatively to others. Isn’t our brain doing the exact same thing subconsciously?? You may say you have specific favorite colors or something, but that could be related to emotion. Or potentially we all have the same favorite color, we all just interpret colors differently in our minds and have learned different names for what we believe is each color. For example, my blue looks like your orange, but you have always been taught to call it blue. Qualitative measurements do not really separate us, they are just comparisons to our past that we interpret. If we lived in some place where sand was an extremely rare commodity, then 10 grains of sand may seem like a heap. Who knows where computers could be some day, we are basically giant walking computers.

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Profile photo of desertson desertson (@marcellesmurdock) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@ijesuschrist,

This is mainly in regards to idea of “consciousness being a byproduct of the brain”. I feel that there is something very important missing from the core of this statement; it detaches existence from the natural world. Essentially what I am trying to say is that we/everything is a manifestation of that natural world, humanity from the earth, earth from the sun, the sun from a massive cloud of dust and gas, that dust and gas from the death of one or probably many super novas or maybe just remnants of the big bang. I find it hard to believe that there was a point in existence where consciousness was not a part of thee equation. In my mind consciousness is a keystone of existence, it just manifests into different forms or rather Life/Being/to Be is experienced at different levels of consciousness. To bring it back to the heap of sand paradox… at what point in development of the human embryo does consciousness start, is there some key cell that forms and then, poof, consciousness? I believe that the brain in its many varying states is simply a means for consciousness to perceive reality/existence in a particular way. The complexity of the human brain merely results in our ability to perceive the world/reality in the way that we do, it seems that it is the complexity of the brain that is so important. This might sound bizarre but I believe consciousness is the underlying force/attraction between everything, the entity that resides between the space of the nucleus and electron cloud if you will.

I mean honestly, what is existence without consciousness? I think that we have a tendency to project human qualities onto everything around us and when those things don’t have similar human characteristics we cast them aside as being primitive or unaware, however these too are from the same origin that led to the creation of our complex molecular makeup.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this… these ideas race through my mind constantly these days. Maybe I’m thinking in some paradox I can’t see outside of?

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@marcellesmurdock, “The complexity of the human brain merely results in our ability to perceive the world/reality in the way that we do, it seems that it is the complexity of the brain that is so important. ”

Yeah, thats what I believe. I don’t know where consciousness is, but I know as the brain becomes more complex, we become more conscious. So there is some sort of correlation, some sort of connection.

It could be that the larger the brain, the more ability for the consciousness to communicate and experience things.
It could be the larger the brain, the more neurons firing creating consciousness.

At this point I don’t know which is which. Hell maybe, like you said, everything is consciousness, and consciousness is what makes our brains bigger O_O who knows. I don’t.

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@ijesuschrist, it has much more to do with how efficient connections in an individual’s brain are.

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@dalniente, define efficient.. but yes. I wasn’t being specific. a big brain doesn’t mean much apparently.

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@ijesuschrist, human brains have gotten smaller over the last 20,000 (or so) years. To put it simply, we use what we have pretty well. I’ll give you another example: the number of genes humans in general have is much lower than what many people previously thought. Humans have evolved to use them quite effectively (without being greatly detrimental to performance).

I was totally going to make a penis joke.

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@dalniente, evolution is pretty interesting. I was pondering how incredible it is the (percieved?) differences are between men and women are, yet it is just one chromosome… but one chromosome can hold a lot of genetic information.

They just sequenced a Gymnosperm genome which was considerably larger than the human genome.

Evolution… no idea. Stop side tracking me damnit!

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@dkman, @ijesuschrist, A little insight from Mr.Watts. “We’ve got the idea that ‘No, I’m something IN this body.’ The ego. That’s a joke. The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention. It’s like the radar on a ship. The radar on a ship is a troubleshooter. Is there anything in the way? And conscious attention is a designed function of the brain to scan the environment, like a radar does, and note for any troublemaking changes. But if you identify yourself with your troubleshooter, then naturally you define yourself as being in a perpetual state of anxiety”

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 1 month ago ago

@alanwatts, well if I identify myself as this immaterial thing that is spread across all life, I end up in the same boat. Still my consciousness is tied to this body, still I want to maximize pleasure and minimize suffering for this body. The realization of the non-ego self doesn’t do much for the conscious experience of my nerve endings…

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