Let's put this common refrain to rest~ something that I hear all the time in arguments concerning religion.  It goes something like this:

" Remember, you can't prove a negative!"

Really people?

This has become much more common, especially in the arguments amongst Atheists and agnostics concerning certainty, and it really puzzles me how people can be skeptical and free-thinkers, yet take to an idea so easily and not question it.  I will elaborate on this a little more once I have the time, but let me start all of those "can't prove a negative" types off with a question~ " I am not sitting at my desk."  Thats a negative claim.  Are you telling me that there is no way to confirm or disprove that?

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We can know from the contextual knowledge of the fact that I am now in Ohio, that I am not in Miami. Knowing only one fact is impossible. Knowledge is always contextual. Again, Drake, are you suggesting that if you saw me in Chicago, you would not be sure that I was not, at that moment, in Miami?
It ends at this: you're mashing together analytic and synthetic knowledge and calling it one thing.The analytic question is "What is the contained value of this thing?", while the synthetic question is "Given that value, what can I learn by combining it with other values?" Until you can make that distinction, this is just going to keep circling around the morass of content/context.
Combining the knowledge of being in Chicago with other knowledge,  you gain the knowledge that I am not in Miami. The question is not "What is the contained value of this thing", It is "Given the contained value of a thing and its interdependent nature as being inextricably linked the same contextual knowledge base, what can we know?". And we most certainly can know that if I am in one place, then I am not in another. You are suggesting that if you had a solid conversation with me in Chicago, face to face, even then, you wouldn't be sure that I was not, at that same time, in a totally different place 1300 miles away.

Cane, belief in my book is pretty much the same as it is in most people's books: Things that I hold to be true. Some beliefs are justified by careful reasoning and/or logic, but some are not. Knowledge in my book is the former. Faith is the latter. You can't simply choose one subset of possible beliefs and say that that kind of belief completely defines the word. Properly justified beliefs are knowledge, unjustified beliefs are faith, or possibly even just unexamined ideas.


No matter what you call it, logic can completely justify a belief. Or do you think that mathematics is not knowledge, merely belief?

To me definitions are just descriptions that evidence could match or not. To prove something, you have to match evidence to the definition. 

By my understanding of proof, your logical justification of a belief does not fit but is similar to determining a wrong definition.

As for mathematics, mathematics is used to describe the world. It makes predictions that seem to match evidence in the real world. It is not considered proof till it does match evidence in the real world. For example, string theory uses mathematics, but currently, the theory does not match evidence in way that is considered proof. 

Cane, if you want to find the sum of two large numbers, all you need is mathematics; you do not need to go out and count a set of things for each number and then count the combination of the two sets. No one doubts that math can prove things using only its own rules. Of course, in Cane-speak the kind of things that math can prove would be considered mere beliefs, rather than knowledge, as they would be considered in English. String theory uses mathematics, but it is not limited to mathematics in what it purports to explain. For that, yes, evidence is required, or else string theory stays forever abstract.

You understand me very well now and I can see you disagree with me whole heartedly. My belief that knowledge requires evidence is Cane-speak, but it also is a very good way to describe reality. You have not proven to me that I should not continue to believe it. I have seen a glimpse of what you "know" and it does not fit my current belief, so I will keep an open mind, but will remain sceptical as I can be.


Identity is analytic a posteriori knowledge and is similar to experiential definitions of entities. For example, "Bob" is a person with a certain personality and habits; the only way to define Bob is by a collection of evidence about him. Identity is transient, so Bob in 10 years is not the same identity as Bob now. All existent structures have identities, though they are generally only relevant for growth-based entities (like people, social structures, etc).


If I understand you correctly, then the idea, definition, description of god is not an identity.

Others in this discussion disagree with my oversimplified understanding. I would like to understand further the positions of the others (and yourself if you do not agree with my observation).

Correct, "god" is not an identity. However, personal beliefs are mental identities. Hence the issue that you can't push someone out of religion by disproving their concept of god-- because that's not actually the existent component of religion.
So, let me get this straight. Your concept of identity includes a certain class of beliefs? I do not fully understand analytic a posteriori knowledge. Can you explain further? I see that you agree with me, but there is a but. I'd like to know what that is. Would you be so kind as to explain it to me?

"Mental identities" refers to the structural nature of beliefs, memories, and mental processing as interactional patterns within the brain. The content of those structures is the various types of knowledge. It's much like the distinction between sound waves and speech.


The underlying mismatch you may be sensing is that I view existence in terms of a progressive-structural model, where 'progressive' means all things are some extension from a null value (like Kelvins in temperature) and 'structural' means that all entities are constrained to fundamentally unified but variegated mechanical behaviors. So while we've generally lined up when using compatible terms, I can't actually accept 'beliefs' or 'irrationality' or even 'wrong' as meaningful concepts.


My own approach necessitates that I consider all things as exactly real but contextualized into different forms according to a regular system, so I see mental phenomena as structural entities and interactions that are in most ways identical to their physical counterparts. This creates a fairly major disjunction between our perspectives because, as presented so far, I don't believe your approach can consider any experiential data about the mind. So it's that topic that I've probably been hedging into unintentionally. 

So while we've generally lined up when using compatible terms, I can't actually accept 'beliefs' or 'irrationality' or even 'wrong' as meaningful concepts.


What terms would you use?


My own approach necessitates that I consider all things as exactly real but contextualized into different forms according to a regular system, so I see mental phenomena as structural entities and interactions that are in most ways identical to their physical counterparts.


Experiential data = subjective evidence

I can consider it, but am very skeptical of it. 




Instead of 'beliefs', I would consider 'mental structures' (or 'personal identity'), 'perceptual processing', and 'decisional processing'. The connotation of 'beliefs' is that the mental phenomena are unnecessary or irrelevant to the physical world, while my views frame the mind as a direct extension of the physical world.


In the same sense, 'irrationality' suggests mental action which is baseless and unconnected to physical subjects, but in a mechanistic perspective the mind is structurally constrained to 'rational' operation-- though there are still phenomena which allow for imperfection in mental processes. So simply calling something 'wrong' is a weak, relative term to use when it's possible to precisely identify processing breakdowns.


And continuing in the same line, a unified structural approach doesn't consider 'subjective' viewpoints, so data is data in all cases. The domain of the data source is critical for determining when the data qualifies as evidence, but otherwise it's an equal currency.


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