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Do Chairs Exist?

Started by droqen, December 12, 2021, 10:34:23 PM

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Quote from: 8:10[some people] believe the universe has "joints" and we can cut up reality into objective, real things by finding them.

Ontological antirealists disagree. Their position is that what we think there is is just one way to cut up reality. It's a good one for us, and our needs, but it's not objectively more true than any other [configuration].

Am I an ontological antirealist?


Quote from: 15:52If I take a knife and scrape off a tiny part of this chair ... is it still a chair? I think most of us would say yes, it's still a chair. And it would still be a chair even if I removed a tiny bit again. And again.

A series of tiny innocuous removals is called a sorites sequence.

[..] it seems we must accept that each individual step doesn't annihilate the chair, clearly enough minute removals will leave us with no chair. nothing at all in fact.

but how can that be? how can subtracting zero over and over again EVER give a different result?

clearly, there must be a point at which a tiny change DOES make a difference

The problem is not in the reality of the chair but in the construction of our argument; we ask, "is it a chair?" as if something must either be a chair or not a chair. But some things exist in a middle state, where someone would not really say with confidence either way that it is definitely a chair, or not a chair. However, we have defined the problem to disallow this ambiguity.

Suppose I have a hundred D6 dice. "If I roll them, will the result be over 100?" With confidence, I can say yes.

If I remove a single die at a time, Sorites Sequencing* my collection of a hundred dice down to zero,

* look up the actual definition of this droqen

of course that answer will eventually become a confident No. However when it comes to "chair" we have generally decided that chair is a boolean thing, and not a maybe-floaty-thing.

The issue is the construction of the problem -- it's made out of a false linguistic assumption that a thing must either be something or not, an assumption that we hold because it's generally true and useful and convenient to build our language along those lines.


The problem with Vsauce's arguments about symbols and real things is that it's made of words. "If you believe that there are some simples arranged chair-wise" he says at 23:23. But what are simples? What does it to mean to believe that there are things? Yes, I believe chairs and simples exist. They both exist. Can I count them? Sure, if I decide that I want to count 'chairs and simples' for some reason. These words just refer to ideas which we use to understand reality.


Quote from: 23:40What do you MEAN "a chair IS simples arranged chair-wise?"

This quote has it exactly backwards. A chair is a word we use to describe this thing.


Quote from: 26:43when I asked if there was anything in the fridge, it was implied that I meant anything TO EAT.

By arguing that the empty fridge is not REALLY empty, I was using the word "thing" in what Thomasson calls a "neutral stance". I used it to mean any and all entities that could possibly be described.

^ But, no, you didn't even use the word thing at all. You said empty.


Quote from: 30:43Vagueness comes from our minds, and our language, but there are no vague objects in the universe. We don't have to believe that our reality is simulated, but I do think we have to believe that it's stipulated. It is a reality that contains not what intelligent machines have decided to give us, but what we have decided we have.

It depends on what you think 'contains' and 'exists' mean, but generally I disagree... I think we do have a reality that 'contains' things that 'exist'. The map just isn't the territory. We have decided what to call things, how to perceive and think about them. Existence is not label.


"As for the problem of the many, we can simply just admit that there really are billions of slightly different chairs here."

The word chair is not something with enough of an inhumanly precise definition that this claim has any meaning. By most uses of language, nope, "there is one chair here" is the only correct claim that you can make! Are there billions of slightly different chairs? NO.

When I say "chair" I'm referring to a pattern in the world. If you ask me about details and sorites sequences, I think it's only responsible to say that my understanding of the word "chair," a referential artifact generations old, simply does not include sufficient precision to be applied to a scenario such as this.

Scientific notation. What's 10^49 minus 1?
Sorites sequence that.


I'm sad that I watched this video. :(