An Introduction to Philosophy Part 2: Metaphysics - Transcript

Introduction to Philosophy: Part 2 - Metaphysics

[0:00] Hi, it's Stefan Molyneux from Freedomain Radio. I hope you're doing well.
This is part two of an introduction to philosophy, where we're going to be dealing with the gripping topic of metaphysics.
So, we'll start with the definition, just so that you know I'm not pulling these answers out of my armpit, and let's have a look at a definition of metaphysics that goes something like this.

[0:23] Philosophy. The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.
Boy, now, if that doesn't clear things up, I have no idea what would.
So, let's just have a look at some basics around the questions of metaphysics.
And it's really quite a lot simpler than it is often portrayed.
Or, I guess it's possible that I'm a lot more simple than many of the philosophers, But let's just throw that one out there and see which one might be the case.
This is the way sort of I see it. And I think that this is a fairly accurate representation.
There are basically three branches of approaches or three kinds of approaches to the questions of metaphysics, the nature of reality.
Now, the first one is you could call it radical skepticism or Cartesian metaphysics.
Metaphysics, and it's basically the idea that reality is a dream.
Reality is an illusion, that nothing exists but your brain and everything else is a sort of theater of.

[1:36] Delusion or whatever you want to call it, that everything outside your own consciousness is imagined by you or impressed upon you by some sort of external force.
And so, this is a really kind kind of radical approach to the question of external reality.
Everything is a dream, everything is an illusion, nothing is real but your consciousness, and that the entire point is to cease believing in external sensual information and evidence and so on, and that's sort of a radical skeptical approach.
That's sort of number one.
Number two is sort of a blended between what we have as number one and what we'll get to as number three.
Number two, as far as metaphysics goes, could be called the platonic or, to some degree, the religious approach.
Now, in this approach, tangible material reality does exist, and the information that is provided to us by our senses is valid but very, very limited, not just in terms of content but in terms of value.
So, in this approach, there is a higher realm of reality that is not perceivable by the senses.

[2:44] This could be heaven, it's platonic world of forms, can't call it the new ominal realm, but basically there's this idea that there are two kinds of reality, right?
There's the reality that you experience through sensual observation, through logic, rationality, matter, all the tangible stuff that's in your life and in your mind through the evidence of your senses.
There's that reality, and then there's a higher and more powerful, majestic, noble, important, benevolent, better, superior kind of reality that exists in a non-empirical, non-sensual.
People who are philosophers who advocate this, and there's quite a lot of them who do, don't generally say non-logical realm.
They call it a higher logic or a universal spirit or a world spirit or whatever sort of Hegelian stuff you can come up with. And so that's sort of the second realm.
Yes, they say that sensual reality, tangible, material, objective reality does exist and is valid, but it's kind of far less valid and less important than this higher realm of perfect ideal forms and gods, and sometimes it's translated into society and so on.
And this idea, you may not believe, is that relevant, but this is the dominant idea of philosophy.
This is by far the most common view within philosophy, that there's this higher realm that is much more important than the sensual, material, empirical realm.

[4:13] And there are sort of only two places or two systems of thought.
This is sort of foreshadowing a little, but I'll sort of give you a hint of where we're going.
There are two systems of thought which radically oppose this.
Neither of them can be particularly called systems of philosophy, though there are applications of philosophical concepts.
There are two systems of thought which oppose this. And the first is the scientific method.
And the second is the free market, it. It's sort of a trade, an uncoerced trade.
And the reason that we know that the scientific method opposes this is you don't see scientific papers which say, well, all of the evidence disproves, like all the material experimental and reproducible evidence disproves my theory, but it's true in a higher realm.
I mean, you don't get a lot of papers published if that's your approach.
I mean, you may in theology, you will in graduate philosophy, but not so much in the scientific realm.
And we'll talk about the free market, the economic side of this equation, in a couple of podcasts from now.

[5:16] So, those are sort of the two realms. The first realm, everything is an illusion.
The second realm is things aren't really an illusion, but they're much less important. What we sort of see in our day-to-day life is much less important, valid, valuable.
It's less superior. It's inferior to what goes on in the sort of higher realm of ideals.
And the third view of reality is what is generally accepted as the scientific method, which is the evidence of the senses and physical tangible reality is all that exists.
Exists, there is no higher realm of forms, there is no higher realm of ideals, there is no alternative universe where ideas have life, where consciousness can exist without material form, any of these kinds of things.
That what we can measure, matter exists, energy exists, and that's really it, and that's really the scientific method.
And as I mentioned before, there are some economic approaches which describe this as being the approach of the free market. it.
And so, when it comes to metaphysics, right, these are the three branches.
Nothing is real, things are real but unimportant, like sensual evidence is real but unimportant, and there's this higher world of enlightenment that you need to achieve or that's valuable to achieve.
And the third is that nothing exists except matter and energy.
This could be called radical materialism or whatever, but we'll just call it materialism or science. notes.

[6:44] So, the question then becomes, in terms of philosophy, right, as distinct from religion, right, there's lots of systems of thought.
I mean, you could call them systems. I would say that philosophy is really the only system of thought.
Everything else is just sort of organized opinion or semi-organized opinion, I guess you could say.
But the question becomes, in philosophy, which one of these three views is valid?
And if none of them are valid, is there another view that could be valid?
Well, let's take the first one and look at some arguments against this idea that everything is an illusion.

[7:25] Now, one of the very interesting things about philosophy is that, or any kind of debate that you have really that's not involving a gun, or I guess even if it does involve a gun, it's not really a debate, but it does involve some of these principles.
The very interesting thing about arguing or debating with somebody is that there are a number of premises that you're going to have to take into account, that you're going to have to accept as valid if you're going to engage in an argument with someone.
So, if we say something like, or if I sort of walk up to you one day and I say, hey, remember me from the videos?
I had a dream about a sparrow last night.

[8:04] Well, is there any way that I can prove to you objectively the truth value of that statement?
I had a dream about a sparrow last night.

[8:15] Well, I would say no. I could be telling the truth. I could not be telling the truth. I could be lying to you for whatever reasons.
But there's no really objective way to determine whether what I'm saying is true or false.
You would have to either believe believe me or not believe me, but your belief or non-belief would not be based on any objective rational criteria.
It would only be based on whether you thought I was sort of an honest or trustworthy person or this or that or the other, and whether I'd had a sort of history.
But of course, in the realm of telling you about my dreams, I may have had a history of telling you all about these dreams, but you never would know whether or not the dreams that I'm telling you about are true or just made up or whatever.
So, in that particular example, there's no possibility of a true or false statement.
It's just a matter of opinion. You could say it's a matter of faith.
If I generally tell the truth about everything and there's no particular motive for me to lie about these dreams, then it would not probably be too rational to believe that I'm just suddenly up and starting to lie about these dreams for no particular reason.
This may be further evidenced by some other criteria that you could bring to bear on the case.
Something like if I'm in a therapist's office and telling that therapist about my dream, and I'm paying for the dream interpretation, my motive to lie about the dream would probably be a little bit less, because I wouldn't really be getting my money's worth, which I'd probably want, out of my therapist.

[9:42] So, when we look at debate, there are certain things which are taken for granted, if you're going to debate with somebody.
You really wouldn't understand what would be occurring occurring logically, if you saw two people arguing about whether one of them had a dream about a sparrow, and I come to you and I say, oh, I had a dream about a sparrow, and you say, no, you didn't.
And I say, yes, I did. And you go on in this sort of Monty Python kind of way.

The Importance of Accepting Axioms in Debates

[10:07] That wouldn't really be an argument that would make any sense, because there would be no way of proving either side of the position.
So when you get into a debate with somebody, there are certain things that you're going to take for granted as being intrinsically part part of that debating process.
And that's something very important to understand.
To debate with another human being requires the acceptance of certain axioms, without which, if you don't accept those axioms, then the act of debating itself becomes a contradiction.
So, when we look at this first principle, which says everything is an illusion—and, Let's say that I come up real close into the camera, that I come up to you and I say, your name is Sue, I say, Sue, got to tell you, everything is an illusion.
Everything that you perceive is merely an illusion.
It's an interesting statement. What I would say to that, let me just don't have my Sue wig with me, but let me sort of switch sides for a second.
I would say in response response to that, if I was Sue, I would say, okay, now, is it true that everything is an illusion for you, or is everything an illusion for everyone? Sort of an interesting question.

[11:29] Because if everything is an illusion for just one person, then really the very act of debating with an admitted phantasm of that person's imagination or manipulation of that person's senses is It's completely illogical.

[11:45] It's completely illogical. So, if I come up to you and I say, Sue, everything is an illusion, I think you'd be justifiable in saying or responding to that, saying, well, am I an illusion within your mind then?
Because if I'm an illusion within your mind, why are you debating with me?
I mean, that would be an indication of some severe mental dysfunction.

[12:04] And in fact, people only who have these kinds of mental dysfunctions, who engage in arguments with illusions, only engage in arguments with those illusions because they believe that those illusions are true, right?
So, if you've seen the movie A Beautiful Mind, then you saw the Russell Crowe character having debates with the bald guy, the other bald guy, Ed Harris's character.
And he only had debates with Ed Harris's character because he believed that the Ed Harris character really existed and was asking for help and this, that, or the other CIA kind of scenario.
And then later on in the film, when somebody walks up to him towards the very end, somebody walks up to Russell Crowe's character and says, you know, hi, or something like that. And he turns to somebody else and says, do you see that person?
Right? I'm not going to engage in a debate with somebody who's purely imaginary, because I'm then acting in a pure contradiction. prediction.
So if I come up to you and say, you are a figment of my imagination, then I'm trying to change your mind.
I'm recognizing that your mind exists in the exterior world, that you have perceptions that you can be argued with.
So I'm basically affirming your existence as an independent consciousness or a consciousness or mind independent to my own perceptions.

[13:16] Because if you really were, and I really believe that you were a phantasm of my imagination, I wouldn't bother debating with you.
It'd be like me having a debate with a hand puppet, which isn't until episode four. So...

When Everything is Claimed to be an Illusion

[13:28] When somebody comes up to you and says everything is an illusion, then they're saying that you are an illusion and they're saying that you don't exist.
But if you don't exist, why are they arguing with you? I mean, this is a very sort of obvious logical problem or logical question.
And it's sort of related in another way. We were talking in the last conversation we had about the evidence of the senses.
And there are lots of people, believe it or not, who will come up.
Point, you don't have to believe it or not if you've done grad school work in philosophy, because you will get these kinds of opinions.
There are people who will come up to you and say that the evidence of the senses is invalid.
And they'll have long debates with you. It really is quite astounding.
They will have long debates with you about how the evidence of the senses are not valid. Fantastic.
Because, of course, they're using your ears to talk to you.
I mean, I mean, this is the kind of basic questions that your jaw just drops when you see this kind of stuff going on.
Because if I'm walking up to you and saying, Sue, I'm going to pick on Sue all of this videocast today.
I'm going to say, Sue, the evidence of your ears is completely erroneous.

[14:37] But, I mean, I'm talking to her. I'm using the evidence. I'm using the efficacy of her ears to communicate that her ears have no efficacy.

[14:46] Right? That's like driving to someone, it's like saying to someone, here, get into my car, I'm going to take you for a drive in order to prove to you that cars don't exist.
I mean, it's kind of bizarre intellectual madness, right?
And if I go up to somebody who's sort of completely and totally blind, I'm not even that close, I'm 50 yards from them and I'm making subtle little hand gestures designed to indicate to them that their eyes work, then I'm obviously not doing something that makes a whole lot of sense.
I'm assuming the opposite of what I'm arguing. I'm assuming the opposite of what I'm arguing.
And this is a very important thing to understand when you get into debates with people about philosophy. philosophy.
Assuming the opposite of what you're arguing is one of the fundamental errors that people have, and it confuses people an enormous amount, right?
So if I don't believe that other human beings exist and everyone's a figment of my imagination, then when I argue with them to tell them that, I then have to assume that they do exist and have a consciousness independent of mine, and that I have to use language and debate and so on to communicate my ideas to them to get them to change their mind.
In other words, I'm assuming that their mind exists and I'm trying to convince them that they don't exist.
The assumption is opposite to the action, and that invalidates the action.
If I'm using sign language to convince a blind person that his eyes don't work, I'm not doing something very logical.

[16:11] Because if he can see my sign language, in other words, if he can understand that his eyes don't work, then his eyes do work.

[16:18] And if he can't see, then why am I sign languaging to begin with?
I'm relying on his eyes working to convince him that his eyes don't work.
So whenever you hear people talk about the senses are not valid, the senses are limited, the senses make lots of mistakes, and this and that and the other, well, they're already using the evidence of your senses.
I mean, unless they can use this sort of Vulcan mind meld on you, they're using the evidence of your senses in order to convince you that your senses are erroneous.
Now, of course, if it's true that your senses are erroneous, then there's no reason to believe that you've accurately interpreted or heard, any of the arguments that they're putting forward.
So you could say to somebody who says that your senses are invalid, it's like, oh, well, I just heard you say that. What part of what I've heard is invalid?
Because if I've accurately heard your idea, then my senses are valid.
And if I have inaccurately heard your idea, then I can't respond to it.
So this is kind of like a mental trickery that – I'm not saying that sort of people wake up consciously with this Lex Luthor kind of – I can use that metaphor for the bald thing.
This kind of Lex Luthor metaphor that says, ah, I'm going to twirl my evil mustache and I'm going to convince people that their minds don't work or that they don't exist while assuming that they do exist and I'm going to convince them that their senses aren't valid while using their senses.
It's just that people haven't really been taught much about this sort of basic stuff. And so there's quite a lot of confusion in the realm of philosophy around these sorts of basic ideas.

[17:45] Now, in the second realm, sorry, let me just go back for a second.
In the first realm, we can say that anybody who puts forward the argument that nobody else exists has automatically invalidated that argument, something you don't even need to invalidate.
Again, not to overly use this kind of thing, but it's something wherein if I say to you, I have no capacity to make sound, and I'm telling you this, then I've completely invalidated you.
You just have to say to somebody like that, I'm sorry, I can't really debate with you because you have rejected your own premise in the action of arguing, right?
So arguing requires that the senses work, that language makes sense, that there's some sort of objective reality between the two people who are debating, right? In other words, sound waves travel from my mouse into the microphone across the internet, blah, blah, blah.
There's some sort of objective, sensual, material reality between us.
And so you exist. Language is valid. The senses are valid. There's an objective reality that transmits this information from my mind to your mind.
All of these things have to be accepted.
They have to be accepted by the very nature of entering into a debate. Right?
So if somebody enters into a debate to try to convince you that any of these things are not valid, then they've completely contradicted themselves.
You don't even have to say that much. You don't have to say, well, you're assuming that which you are arguing against.

Assumptions and the Rationality of Debate

[19:11] You're assuming that which you are arguing against. You're accepting it as true in order to argue against it.
That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. You really need to go back to the drawing board with all due respect, and you can say it nicely and this and that.
That, but it's sort of a basic thing.
When people start debating, they're going to end up in a situation where they have to assume a whole bunch of things in order for the debate to be rationally possible, and then they can't then reject those things.
So, that's sort of the way that I would approach it to begin with.
Now, there were sort of two possibilities under sort of umbrella one of everything is an illusion and everything is subjective.
The first was that everything is is an illusion and there's only one mind in the universe, that's me, and you're all illusions, of course, that doesn't make any sense.
So, that I would then go and try and change the mind, assume that the existence of an independent consciousness I could debate with in order to convince that independent consciousness that it didn't exist.
So, that wouldn't make any sense. That we can throw aside as just silly.
If somebody really does believe that everything is an illusion, you really don't have to worry about them debating with you.
They're not going going to do that, right?
Because if they understand that the hand puppet is just a hand puppet, they're not going to engage in a vociferous and violent debate with their hand puppet creation, unless they're mentally ill, in which case you don't debate with them, or they're doing it for your entertainment, in which case you simply applaud and tip them.

[20:32] But the second question is, or the second possibility is, that it's the matrix scenario, right?
That there are all these consciousnesses for which reality is an illusion for all of them.
And, of course, that one becomes problematic as well.

[20:48] Because if our consciousnesses, if our minds, are separated from each other.

[20:54] And everything is then an illusion, sort of the space between them, right?
So we have this mind, this mind, and my head. Let me just use some really effective props here.
For those who are listening on the audio side, I've got my fists up against my head.

[21:08] So here's a mind, here's a mind, and my head represents reality, or sort of the quote illusory reality between them.
But, of course, if every way of communicating or connecting between the minds is an illusion, then there's no possibility of communicating between the minds, and therefore there's no possibility of having a rational debate, of using sound waves to transmit from vocal cords to ear, to be interpreted by the mind, and so on.
So, we may believe, if we choose, I don't think it's rational, but we may choose to believe that everything is illusion, that it's the matrix, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Of course, as I mentioned in the last video cast, there's no null hypothesis for that, right? There's no way of disproving it, right?
Every single thing that occurs within reality, whether consistent or otherwise, is a methodology for proving this, right?
So because there's no null hypothesis, there's no way of disproving it, then it is intellectually equivalent to the argument that I dreamt of a sparrow last night. Well, there's no way of proving it or disproving it, so why would you even debate it?
But the moment you do debate it, you're breaking the conventions of what it is that you're trying to prove.
You're automatically disproving the premise that everything is an illusion by arguing with another human being.

Disproving the Illusion of Reality through Debate

[22:20] So this is a pretty important thing to understand.
We can completely logically dismiss….

[22:28] All arguments that everything is an illusion, with the exception of those who never argue with us, in which case, who cares, right?
They're just sort of doing their thing, not talking to anyone about this belief, because why would they? Everything's an illusion.
So they're not part of the intellectual debate of the times.
But the moment somebody enters into the intellectual fray of debate, they can't say that everything is an illusion.
So I think we can put that aside, the radical skepticism, as well as skepticism towards the efficacy of the senses.
And let's look at a trickier proposition, which is number two.
And we'll get to number three, I would imagine, given the limits on the stuff I can upload, maybe tomorrow.
So, number two is the idea that, yes, empirical sensual reality does exist, is objective, has value, but is a far lesser value than the higher realm. We'll just call it the platonic realm.
And the reason that I use that that phrase is not to sort of show off any kind of education that I've received, but rather because Plato was the first philosopher who really quantified and codified and made a strong.

[23:32] Consistent case—I wouldn't say logical, but consistent case—for this higher realm.
And Plato used the metaphor of a cave. You may have heard this before.
I'll just mention it briefly.
So he said that when we're in reality, when we look at the evidence of the senses, is.
We are like somebody who is sitting in a cave, and in the middle of the cave is a flickering fire, and walking around the cave or walking around the fire are some animals or some objects or whatever.
And when we look at physical material reality, we're actually looking at the shadows cast upon the cave wall by the animals in front of the fire.
It's inconsistent, it's flickering, it's a shadow, it's not the thing itself, right?
So what we want to do is start looking at the shadows and thinking that we're seeing the real world. We want to start looking at the animals and then at the fire.
And then the greatest of all steps for Plato is to emerge from the cave into this land of brilliant sunlight, see the world for what it is, and so on.

[24:29] Now, of course, it's quite fascinating when you think about it that Plato was using the metaphor of the senses to invalidate the senses, because the one thing that is always true about this higher realm, it is not accessible to the senses.
If it is accessible to the senses, it's no longer part of the higher realm.
And the higher realm includes things like collective concepts, and I'll get to those in a sec, gods, devils, actually usually leprechauns.
It includes concepts as real things. things.
So, for instance, I've talked about this in conceptual development, so we're going to make the prop.

[ Stef uses a banana as a visual aid ]

It's an interesting prop. It could either make you look happy or it could make you look sad, but we'll just work with the happy side of things.
So, we have this banana, and the question always arises, how do we know that it's a banana, right?
There's no banana-ness. There's no essence of banana that's sort of a material object.
Within this, this is just a collection a collection of atoms and energy wrapped in a particular conceptual idea we call the banana.
But banana, as a concept, does not exist in the real world. Banana is just an idea within our own minds.
Now, the real question, of course, always becomes, how do we get the idea of a banana?
And the way that those who are into the scientific method, the third one, that everything is matter and energy, no higher realm exists.

[25:47] The way that they work is you say you see banana, you see banana, you see banana, you hear it called banana, you learn what a banana is, what it tastes like, and so on, right?
And so, if you pick up a banana that's made of wax, and you try to eat it, and it tastes kind of waxy, and it doesn't provide you any nutrition, it makes you sick, and it never decomposes or anything like that, then you know that it's not, it's an imitation banana, right?
It's something made to look like a banana.

(Stef uses a banana as a visual aid)
[26:09] If you see a painting of a banana, you don't sort of reach in and try and eat the canvas, because you recognize it as a representation, not the thing itself.
And so, the question is, how do we come up with the idea of banana?
So, the empiricists or the scientists will say, you see banana, banana, banana, banana, banana, you get it fed to you, you hear what it's called, you learn its properties, and then you come up with the idea of banana.
In other words, that the idea of banana is derived from each individual instance of bananas that we encounter in our life, which we then abstract to make something far more generalized.

[26:42] Now, that's sort of the one approach. Now, in that approach, everything that we define as a banana has to have all of the properties of all existing bananas, right?
So, I can't say that a banana also includes a banana with wings.
A banana with wings that flies around will be some completely different, possibly CGI character.
And boy, if I had a bigger budget, wouldn't I be putting that in?
Any kind of budget, wouldn't I be putting that in right now? Yes, I think I would. it.
So, that's sort of the one way in which we come up with the idea of banana.
There's lots of ramifications for this. I know it sounds kind of esoteric and abstract, but there's huge, huge, huge ramifications for all of this when it comes around to understanding things like ethics and so on.

The concept of a higher reality and Plato's theory

[27:22] And what I'd like to talk about in terms of the second realm, in the realm that we have have reality that is sensual empirical reality that is lesser or less important versus a reality that is higher or more important, that I would like to talk about that in the realm of the second round of people's thinking, second type of people's thinking.
And the way that works is that Plato says, and I know this sounds a little bit silly, but, you know, this is a pretty well-respected position in philosophy, so bear with me for a moment.
Plato says, okay, we got this banana. How do we know it's a banana?
Well, the way that we know that it's a banana, according to Plato, and lots of other thinkers as well who use different kinds of approaches to this problem.

[28:15] Is Plato says, we know it's a banana because before we are born, I know, just stay with me for a moment. This is important because it's very common.
Before we are born, floating in in the ether of perfect forms, of perfect concepts, of perfect ideas, is this magical, perfect, ideal, magnificent, flawless, indivisible banana.
We know the perfect banana before we are born.
Now, when we're born, we forget all of this world of perfect bananas and ideal forms and everything.

[28:52] And yet we retain an emotional residue or intellectual residue or hint of magic banana land when we begin to develop conceptually or in our cognitive natures as children, we then look at this yellow smiley thing or frowny thing and we say, ah, yes, I vaguely remember before I – not exactly before I was born, and I vaguely remember seeing this giant perfect banana in the womb or the pre-womb or whatever.
And so vaguely I connect back and I see then this real banana and that's how I know that it's a banana.

Examining the argument of conceptual understanding vs. individual experience

[29:33] And I totally understand that that seems rather crazed when you put it in this way.
And of course, the reason that people argue this position has got nothing to do with bananas and everything to do with things like gods and devils and governments and so on, which we'll get to a little bit later.

[29:49] But it's important to understand that this is why this is all done, right?
The question is, do we get the concept banana from individual bananas, or do we understand the concept of banana and then apply it to the individual things that we encounter in the real world?
And, of course, the first thing that you need to do when you encounter somebody who makes this kind of argument, or maybe the first thing you can examine in yourself if you make this kind of argument, is to say, well, how do we know whether that's true or not?

[30:20] Right? I mean, it's relatively simple to know whether a banana exists or not.
Again, assuming we toss out a crazy Matrix number one fantasy, well, because it's got a smell, it's got a taste, it's got a logo, and we know it's real because it's got a logo.
You can feel it, you know, and it has object constancy, right?
It's not turning into a phoenix in my hands and attacking me, although, boy, what a great video that would be.
So, we know that it has reality and material real existence because it's confirmed by all the evidence of the senses.
We could look at it under infrared and see it. We could watch it decompose.
We know where it comes from. We can see objects and so on.
So we know that this banana exists in the real world because there's falsifiable tests to bring it about, right?
So if I hold the cup up, do you see the kind of expense that we go to for props in this show? I hold the cup up and I say this is a banana.
And of course, there's going going to be certain problems, right? It's not organic.
It wasn't grown from a tree. It was maybe not imported from South America, wherever this came from. It's not edible.
It's not peelable. It's not curvy.
It's a little curvy thing here, but not quite the same as a banana.
And so there's falsifiable statements when it comes to conceptual organizations of things in the real world.
They have properties and, you know, I can't put coffee into this and drink out of it, even decaf, though, because I'm generally hyper enough.

[31:43] But there are true and falsifiable statements when it comes to dealing with physical objects in the real world. The same thing is true, of course, of scientific theories.
If you put forward a scientific theory, then it has a true or falsifiable statement, because it has to be predictive to some degree of the future behavior of matter or energy.
And so if you then perform the experiments, and other people perform the experiments, and you get the data, and you run them through the statistical analysis, it turns turns out to be true, blah, blah, blah, or not true, right?
There's truth value because there's falsifiable value, falsifiable possibilities as an all-hypothesis. It could be disproven.
Let me just see if I can say the same thing a number of different ways again. So...

[32:22] The question around this idea of the higher realm is, how do we know?
This is in the realm of the next thing that we'll talk about, which is epistemology, the study of truth.
I hate all these long words, but it's a study of truth and falsehood, right?
How do we know something's true versus false, right? And believe it or not, we will actually get to ethics at some point.
It's a fascinating topic, but, you know, let's lay the groundwork and do the basics to begin with. it.
So, when we think about the second possibility, the physical world exists, yes, yes, yes, but there's a superior higher realm that exists.
The question is, how do we know that, right?
What would be the criteria by which we would know the statement a higher realm exists is not true, right?
So, the statement this banana exists is falsifiable. Maybe not for you, because this This could be a wax banana or something. A banana-shaped yellow thing exists.
It's falsifiable because, of course, if I – let's just say, you know, there are those goofy machines which create those sort of illusions of things on glass.
So you have a sort of an illusion of a sort of visual trick of a banana, and you reach for it, and it doesn't exist. Then that's a falsifiable statement.
This banana exists. I reach for it. It turns out to be a sort of trick of the light in one of those machines versus I pick it up, and I eat it, and so on, right? So there's falsifiable statements when it comes to the real world.

[33:43] E equals mc squared, true versus false. You can have a truth value, the sun is the center of the solar system, the earth goes around the sun, the moon goes around the earth, and so on.
That is all falsifiable, right? And when we went from Ptolemaic to Copernican astronomy.

The Validity of a Higher Realm and Occam's Razor

[34:01] And there's another non-falsifiable thing, astrology, then it was more accurate, it was more predictive, it was simpler, right?
You have the Occam's razor, right? The simplest explanation, all other things being equal, is probably the best.
And so the question to ask with people who talk about, yes, this realm is valid, but there's a higher realm, is, well, how do we know? And how would we know if it wasn't the case?
Right? And if people can't answer that question, if people can't say to you, the idea that I'm putting forward that the higher realm exists is not true if the following conditions are met, then you're not actually engaged in a debate with someone.
What someone is doing then is saying, believe me, because I say it.
And Plato himself said that you can't communicate the higher realm.
You can communicate it, as he talked about in the symposium, as a kind of metaphor, as a kind of experience, and this is very close to something like religious faith, which we'll get into in the next video cast.

[34:55] But the real question is, is it true or is it false, and how would we know?
So when somebody puts forward a proposition and says it's falsifiable if X, Y, and Z happens, this was the amazing thing about Einstein, of course, that every time he put forward a proposition, he also listed all the criteria by which it could be disproven or by which you would know that his proposition or his theory would be false.
And this is a very important thing to understand.
So the question is, how would we know if this higher realm existed or not?
What would be the indications that would let us know, yes or no, this higher realm exists?
And of course, you really can't get an answer. It comes back to the old thing, you know, if you have to ask, those that that understand don't have to ask, and those that have to ask will never understand.
It's that kind of irritating, backwards-forward Zen nonsense that says, well, if you believe it, then you believe it, and you already believe it, and you don't need to be convinced.
And if you don't believe it, I can't find any way to convince you.
Well, of course, that's not really an argument of any kind.
All that somebody's doing when they do that is wanting you to confirm that you believe what they already believe.
It's not a matter of convincing someone. It's not a matter of changing their mind. it's not a matter of applying logic or rationality or evidence or anything like that.
It's just a matter of, dare I say it, a bold assertion without any supporting evidence or criteria for disproof.
Not a logical argument, and I would say that Plato would probably agree with that. It's not a logical argument because it can't be.

[36:22] So, if you say that something exists that is contrary to sense evidence, rationality, empiricism, science, and so on, then the onus is on you to prove that it does exist, and also the onus is upon you to provide a criteria by which it can be disproven.

[36:42] Right? So, if you put forward a mathematical proposition, and at the basis it rests on 2 plus 2 is 5, you have a criteria by which it will be proven or disproven, right?
2 plus 2 is 4, we're good. 2 plus 2 is 5, we're not so good.
So, that's a very important thing to understand as well.
If somebody's debating with you, it's very important, in my view, to ask them what is the criteria for disprove for what they're providing, for what they're proving.

The Criteria for Disproof and Objective Reality

[37:04] And the best way to sort of understand that, and we'll get into sort of number three, which is really not that complicated one.
Number three, that the only thing that exists is matter and energy.
There's no higher realm. Nothing's an illusion.
Reality exists, blah, blah, blah. And only tangible, material, objective reality exists, sensual reality.
And yes, this includes things like infrared. You say, oh, we can't see infrared, but infrared exists. It's like, yeah, but we can see infrared.
We just have to translate it into a spectrograph, right?
So, that idea as well, and I'll just sort of touch on this as well, once we got into epistemology, which will come next, sort of, number three, the scientific one and epistemology, people will always say to you or so they can say to you things like, well, you know, everyone sees a different color, right?
See, Stef's wall is, to some people, it's going to be red. To some people, it's going to be rusty.
To some people, it's going to be gray if they're colorblind and so on.
So everybody sees things really differently and so consciousness is somehow forced from reality and this and that.
But color is a subjective term, right?
So saying that everybody's going to see a different color against the back wall here doesn't mean anything as far as objective reality goes.

[38:11] The objective term for color is wavelength, right?
So if you bounce the right scientific machinery or sensory apparatus off that wall and get it back on a particular spot, the wavelength of that color is going to be the same for everyone.
And that's the whole point behind the idea of wavelength. That's why we have the term wavelength.
It is a way of differentiating from the subjective criteria criteria of color, right?
So, wavelength exists in an objective way. Our eyes, based on their size and whether we have the right rods and cones, is going to interpret that as different and transmit that to our brain.
Our brain will interpret it its own way, maybe call it a different name.
But wavelength is something that's objective, right? So, the fact that people see different colors has nothing to do with whether or not objective reality exists, because we have this term called wavelength, and of course, this occurs in every other field.
Somebody who's completely deaf, if they're going to see wavelengths of sound put out on a graph, will be able to see those wavelengths, even though they can't hear them, and they'll understand that sound exists, even if they can't hear it directly themselves.

[39:13] So, in the realm, just to sum up, in the realm of these sort of three areas of metaphysics, number one, everything is an illusion. I think we can discard that one.
Number two, physical reality is not an illusion, but it's subordinate and inferior to some higher reality.
I think that's something that's a little bit more difficult to argue, but fundamentally, there's no criteria for disproof.
There's no proof of it existing. It is something that you have to kind of accept on faith, and we'll get to faith a little bit later.
And therefore, it can't be called true. It can't be called a true statement.
Because there's no criteria for disproof, and there's no physical, material, objective proof that any of that sort of stuff exists.
And as for the third one, the one that is, you know, matter and energy exist and nothing else does, we'll get to that when we start to talk about epistemology because of the study of true and false, because it's very, very relevant and important to the question of true and false, whether or not reality exists and nothing but matter and energy exist.
So, as always, thank you so, so much for listening. I hope that it it wasn't too quick.

[40:14] Maybe I had one or too many coffees before I started. I just switched to decaf, but you never know.
Thank you so much for listening, as always. I hope that you're enjoying this.
I find it's a magically fascinating realm of inquiry, and it really does lead to some very powerful places when you start to talk about this in the realm of ethics, and particularly in the realm of politics and economics.
The sort of foundations that we're laying here will prove, I think, to really clarify the questions of politics and ethics, morality, and so on, which of course is the most important thing that philosophy has to offer you. This is all the building blocks.
The most important stuff that philosophy has to offer you is happiness, which can really only be attained by living an ethical life, but it's kind of important to know what ethics are if you want to do that.
So again, thank you so much for listening. I will talk to you soon.

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May 2024

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