I know this has been discussed before, but I have read Sam Harris' book Free Will and Michael Shermer's book The Believing Brain, and I must say that I agree with both authors. Studies show that our brains make a decision on an unconscious level three tenths of a second and sometimes more before we even consciously know we're going to act. To take a short quote from Shermer's book: "The neural activity that precedes the intention to act is inaccessible to our conscious mind, so we experience a sense of free will. But it is an illusion, caused by the fact that we cannot identify the cause of the awareness of our intention to act".

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I hope  you two  call a truce soon.....I am getting  a headache  trying to follow  all of  this back and forth......Agree to disagree., sounds  good to me....just saying    :)

I'm impressed that you are bothering to try to follow it. We've gone off way too many tangents for it to be of any use.I'm just not the type that can let things go when I think another person is making some really big mistakes. Saying something like "properties don't exist" has huge philosophical implications, and rejects mainstream understandings of emergence and ontology. It detaches the properties that make up an object from the object, when the two are not mutually exclusive. It also detaches relationships from the object when most large scale objects are made up of trillions of relationships they depend on. To say these things don't exist or are "imagined" takes a whole lot of (not so good) imagination. ;-)

LOL...90% of the debates I have online end up being deadends. The productive 10% make it somehow worth it for me. Also, the process of debating in itself is one I use to get the brain going and perhaps think new thoughts (even if debates can get frustrating when repetition happen). ;-)

Not win, but feel it was "productive".  That me, the person I'm debating, or some other person (e.g. a reader) is getting something out of it (or will). To me philosophy isn't about winning or losing, it's about causally interacting and creating appropriate output of thought (even if the thought happens a year after the debate by some other re-enforcing factor).

but it is a mistake to do so because it introduces confusion between what is real and what is  imagined.

Properties aren't "imagined", they are "real". It's the reason particles end up at the bottom of a hill due to the properties of a ball (roundness), hill (angle), and gravity (space-time curvature). Without these properties "existing" the object we label a "ball" would not end up at the location it does. Ball is an "abstraction" of a "1 inch diameter rubber ball". Abstraction doesn't mean "imagined" or "unreal". The removal of the properties from the object is also an "abstraction".

Even if we don't accept "existence" itself as a property (like I said, some do and some do not- e.g. Kant - this has been debated much and to say that most modern philosophers align with Kant on this is a claim needs more evidence than a statement), that does not mean we don't except "properties as existing". Most analytic philosophers do. In fact Kant says a contradiction arises when you assert the existence of a subject without one or more of its essential properties.

Blackness is a component of the material world. It means that it absorbs all light in the spectrum and is the absence of such. It also has various effects including heat buildup. There is a reason solar panels aren't white, as white reflects all light from the spectrum.

"Swan" is a categorization of an object, so "swanness" just is a repeat of that category. If we define "swanness" as all of the essential properties that make up a swan, then yes, those properties "exist" before we can even use the word "swan" to categorize the "object".

The illusion that properties exist is fostered by the habit of mistaking syntax as a reliable guide to ontology. When you repeatedly make statements such as John has courage you come to believe that courage has the same type of reality as the individual alleged to have it, and that somehow the thing courage adheres to the individual.

If we define "swanness" as all of the essential properties that make up a swan, then yes, those properties "exist" before we can even use the word "swan" to categorize the "object".

If you have to define swanness, then it is clearly a mental construct, something imagined. Swans are real, but swanness is an idealization.

Courage is too ambiguous of a word and way too subjective. It's like saying "chocolate tastes good", when for another it may taste bad. I'm certainly not saying that everything we subjectively perceive or think about an object is a "property" of that object.

Roundness, however, is inherent in the ball...and assists with the causal "rolling" of it down a hill (in which the slopeness is inherent in). It isn't at all subjective The ball would roll regardless if anyone was around to perceive and talk about the roundness of the ball....because it is a "property" OF the ball itself. It "exists" inherently within the structure. It isn't just an "opinion" about the ball.

"If you have to define swanness, then it is clearly a mental construct, something imagined. Swans are real, but swanness is an idealization."

I'm sorry but "swan" is a word with a definition just as "swanness" (a word you made up without giving a semantic to). My definition of swanness addresses a "realness" just as much as your definition of "swan" does (which I'm pretty sure needs to be described with properties).

Courage is too ambiguous of a word and way too subjective. It's like saying "chocolate tastes good", when for another it may taste bad. I'm certainly not saying that everything we subjectively perceive or think about an object is a "property" of that object.

Then you are obliged to distinguish between the things you believe are genuine properties of an object and those that are not. Notice, however, that the syntax is exactly the same whether I say John has courage or John has red hair.

Suppose we take a closer look at your balls. The moon appears from a distance to be perfectly spherical, but on closer examination reveals huge craters and a surface that is anything but smooth. The notion that it is a smooth sphere is nothing more than our perception of it from a distance, not an inherent property of the moon itself. If we could examine an ordinary sized ball with an electron microscope, it would no longer look as round. If the idea of "roundness" is imperfectly realized in examples, can it then be an inherent property? You could try substituting "approximately spherical" but you might have difficulty defining it precisely.

I'm sorry but "swan" is a word with a definition just as "swanness"

Which came first, the definition of swan or swans themselves? Swans are real and in my book precede the definition. The definition of the word swan and swanness, the property of being a swan, are mental constructions.

"Then you are obliged to distinguish between the things you believe are genuine properties of an object and those that are not. Notice, however, that the syntax is exactly the same whether I say John has courage or John has red hair."

I can say the same thing of objects (rather than properties): "Then you are obliged to distinguish between the things you believe are genuine object and those that are not. Notice, however, that the syntax is exactly the same whether I say John is a person or John is a Unicorn.

Suppose we take a closer look at your balls.

Hey now!

"The moon appears from a distance to be perfectly spherical, but on closer examination reveals huge craters and a surface that is anything but smooth."

The moon also appears to be 12" in diameter, yet we can and do assess the real diameter of the moon.

" If we could examine an ordinary sized ball with an electron microscope, it would no longer look as round. If the idea of "roundness" is imperfectly realized in examples, can it then be an inherent property? "

It's round enough for the ball to roll. I never said anything about being "perfectly round", but there is a real distinction that "exists" between the properties of the ball and the properties of a cube with "flat" sides (though may not be "perfectly flat" if there are bumps in it). The fact of the matter is, we don't use square tires for a very physical reason.

"You could try substituting "approximately spherical" but you might have difficulty defining it precisely."

Objects carry with it the same problem. What is a ball? Define it for me? You may say it's a sphere, in which I'd ask you to define "sphere" without the word "round"...in which case, per your assessment, unless it's "perfectly spherical" or "perfectly round" it's not a ball. This is a problem with language itself, not a problem with the ontological state of roundness or balls.

Which came first, the definition of swan or swans themselves? Swans are real and in my book precede the definition. The definition of the word swan and swanness, the property of being a swan, are mental constructions.

The properties of the animal are real and in my book precede the definition and word "swan" or "swanness" as well. Why can't you see that the swan you are referring to IS it's properties? It's properties don't just start existing when we developed language and thinking about them mentally. A swans properties existed before we even knew swans existed.

I can say the same thing of objects (rather than properties): "Then you are obliged to distinguish between the things you believe are genuine object and those that are not. Notice, however, that the syntax is exactly the same whether I say John is a person or John is a Unicorn.

Objects, that is to say, individuals in the logical sense, exist in the material world and can be directly pointed out—they need not be the subject of a proposition in order for their existence to be recognized.

Why can't you see that the swan you are referring to IS it's properties? It's properties don't just start existing when we developed language and thinking about them mentally. A swans properties existed before we even knew swans existed.

This point of view is known as Bundle-theory and is, if I recall correctly, due to David Hume. I believe it is correct as an explanation of the idea we hold about an object, but not as an explanation of the object itself.

Your idea of a swan is composed entirely of properties you perceive or have learned about, but an actual living swan is a completely different kind of bird: it actually has real feathers, not just the property of having feathers.

Objects, that is to say, individuals in the logical sense, exist in the material world and can be directly pointed out—they need not be the subject of a proposition in order for their existence to be recognized.

Properties, that is to say, in the logical sense, exist in the material world and can be directly pointed out.

"Your idea of a swan is composed entirely of properties you perceive or have learned about, but an actual living swan is a completely different kind of bird: it actually has real feathers, not just the property of having feathers"

Feathers are objects, the properties of those feathers (their softness, pattern, weight, consistency, etc) are what make them "feathers" and also what allow a swan to "fly". Without those properties a swan wouldn't be able to fly. The lightness of the swan also allows it to stay afloat on water (buoyancy). This buoyancy is a property of the water and the swan (in which the swan is lighter than the water it replaces). These properties not only "exist in the material world" but can be "pointed to", measured, etc.

At this point we are repeating. I can agree with you that properties are different than how we classify the whole object, I'm suggesting, however, that they exist in the real world just as much as the object does (as they are essential to the object and must for the object to exist).

This entire tangent discussion is about whether we can say properties "exist", or "relations" exist, etc. The only thing I'm saying is that they can be said to "exist" (in the material world) just as much as the object. I'm not saying they are identical to how we view "objects" only that they are not ontologically less.

If we can agree on that then perhaps there may be an end to this discussion. ;-)

Properties, that is to say, in the logical sense, exist in the material world and can be directly pointed out.

All of them? Swans mate for life, a property for which they are well-known, but that is not something you can directly point to. It can be observed by tagging them and observing their behavior, but that involves mental actions, not simple, direct observation.

The only thing I'm saying is that they can be said to "exist" (in the material world) just as much as the object. I'm not saying they are identical to how we view "objects" only that they are not ontologically less.

If we can agree on that then perhaps there may be an end to this discussion. ;-)

No. Properties are ideas that recognize and model in approximate ways the factual content of the world.

All of them? Swans mate for life, a property for which they are well-known, but that is not something you can directly point to. It can be observed by tagging them and observing their behavior, but that involves mental actions, not simple, direct observation.

"Mate for life" isn't a property, it's a behavior of "some" swans. And yes, behaviors exist as well (they just aren't inherent in specific objects - but rather in the physical actions objects take - e.g. a particle behaves like a wave until measured). For properties, there are "essential properties" meaning that the properties are essential to our categorization as an "object" and there are properties that aren't essential (e.g. baldness isn't inherent in all humans, but some people are bald).

No. Properties are ideas that recognize and model in approximate ways the factual content of the world.

Then objects are ideas that recognize and model approximate ways the factual content of the world. You simply can't have it both ways. Considering you can't even describe an object without describing it's properties, it's simply absurd to postulate that objects exist but properties do not. That somehow one is 'only in our minds' even though we know that a sphere shaped object will roll down a hill without a single human even existing or modeling it  -- with the roundness of the sphere being an important physical factor for such rolling.

Properties existed way before life evolved on any planet to "model" or use "words" such as "objects" or "properties".

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