An Introduction to Philosophy Part 4 Truth 2 - Transcript

Introduction and Recap of Previous Topics

[0:01] Hi there, it's Stefan Molyneux from Freedomain Radio. I hope you're doing well.
It's time now, ladies and gentlemen, for what we in the philosophy circles call the Blinding Recap.
So, before we start getting into the real meat of the issue for today's topic, which is Zeus, actually, we are going to talk about some of the stuff that we've gone over briefly, just to sort of refresh our minds.
It's been a few days since my last post, although I know you've been staring at the YouTube screen waiting for what my rap name is, Big Chatty Forehead, waiting for Big Chatty Forehead to come back with some new insights.
But you may have not processed everything correctly or remember it too well, so I thought I'd spend just a moment going over a couple of the basics.
So I have my handy-dandy pad of philosophy here. So we started off with the possibility that there there are three types of reality external to consciousness.
One, none, a demon manipulates all of our thinking.
Two, some in the platonic sense that there's some valid physical interpretations of reality through the senses, but it's inferior to a higher realm, or that all of reality that is external to consciousness is valid and nothing which we cannot perceive is there either.
Right, so that's numero uno. know number two um then we did we went with all reality of course uh for a variety of reasons we went into in the podcast on metaphysics and epistemology.

[1:29] And then we sort of said, well, the human mind is capable of error, and that error is correctable through sensual evidence, the evidence of the senses and logic.
And we went through some proofs for sense evidence. Then we showed how logic is derived from the consistency and properties of matter and energy.
And therefore, since all of the ideas within our mind are derived from the actions of matter in the form of sense evidence, concepts within our mind are always subjugated and must give way to the evidence of reality. personality.
All right, nobody said philosophy wasn't messy.
Then we talked about a null hypothesis. In other words, if a proposition has no proof or disproof, then it does not stand in any category of truth.
It is simply a matter of subjective opinion, which the example was, I think I said something like, I had a dream about a sparrow last night, or I guess this would be last week now.
And then we also talked about the difference between true and false, and we derived true as either that which conforms to the evidence of the senses or conforms with principles that are specifically derived from the evidence of the senses logic based on the consistency and universality of the behaviors of matter and energy look at that probability possibility oh yes then we did probability and possibility which was the last podcast we did ufos and leprechauns which i'm pretty sure you knew was going to be the topic and today we're going to start on the concept of of country.

Transition to the Concept of Country: Iceland

[2:54] Now, the one thing that I'll say about concepts, and I know I've done the sort of two-CD thing, maybe you've seen that before, concepts, and indeed human life and consciousness, is possible because of atoms.

[3:09] I'm pretty sure I don't even need to debate that one. It must be fairly clear to you already.
But we can have concepts about the world because of atoms, right?
So there's a fixed number of atoms, a fixed number of elements, and they each behave with particular properties.
So the reason that I can look at a forest and categorize the vertical, thick-skinned, inside-dead plants as trees is because the atoms which go to make up those trees are common between the trees.
See, I mean, generally, it's kind of cool about the mind and reality that the highest abstractions within our own mind are directly related to the base division of matter down at the atomic, possibly even, I don't know, the subatomic level.

[3:53] So because trees are composed of similar atoms, they appear in a similar way to us through the evidence of our senses.
And so we can categorize a bunch of trees as a forest or a group of trees or whatever we want to call it, because the atoms which go to make up each one of those trees is very much in common with the atoms that go to make up other trees.
And so the atoms that go to make up a tangerine are similar to the atoms that go and make up an orange and therefore we can call them in the citrus family and so on.
And so when we have concepts at the highest level, really what we're fundamentally doing is we're organizing atoms.
We're taking the base properties of matter and energy energy, and we're organizing them within our own mind.
So, if we look at the concept light emitting, light emitting, well, we have the sun, which is currently lighting me, we have the forehead, fairly light emitting, of course, and we have light bulbs, we have candles, and what is in common?
Well, they're all spraying off photons, right?
So, the fact is that when we talk about light emitting as a concept, what we're doing is we're aggregating and describing the behavior of atoms or energy and so on.

[5:13] So, when we are talking about concepts, we're talking about the organization of things which have like properties in and of themselves.
So, when we look at the night sky and we see all these stars, well, we can call them stars because they're all composed of, I guess, clouds of gas all giving off enormous amounts of energy.
So, that is very important.
When we're talking about water as a concept, we're talking about.

[5:43] Hydrogen and hydrogen atom and two oxygen atoms h2o two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom right so the the chemical formula or the um the atomic formula h2o represents water now because all water is composed of this particular atomic um constellation we can then abstract and describe describe the behavior of water as common across all material objects which are composed of this particular configuration of atoms.

[6:15] Oxygen, the same sort of thing, breathable air versus non-breathable air.
I'm sure you kind of get the idea.
A solid and a liquid, right, are descriptions, conceptual descriptions of behaviors of matter and energy in the material world transferred to our mind or transmitted to our mind through the evidence of the senses.
So the reason that concepts, and indeed human beings, the reason that concepts are possible is because matter is divided into specific atoms which occur in regularly occurring, which appear in regularly occurring constellations and have specific properties which maintain themselves over time and can't be changed changed without any some sort of external force being brought to bear on them. It's the principle of inertia.
So the idea is that we have concepts because there are atoms and because there are universal physical laws.
We have a concept of falling because things that fall down because of the existence of gravity.
So that's sort of something I wanted to point out.
The most itty Itty-bitty, tiny, tiny little things in the universe are directly the cause, because of their uniformity and regularity and regularly recurring constellations, the most itty-bitty things in the universe are directly related.

[7:37] And the direct cause of the widest conceptual abstractions within our own mind.
So, that having been said, there are concepts that are directly related to matter, and then there are things like a country.
So, we're starting to zero in on some... I'm being delicate.
I'm trying to be delicate. it. I'm trying to circle around some of the more startling conclusions that a rational empirical and scientific philosophy will bring to bear on things that you believe in.
I'm sort of trying to be kind of gentle about what's coming out of this.
So we're going to start with things that you probably have some emotional investment into, but we'll save the biggies for a little further down down the road, you know, it's important to turn the volume up slowly when it comes to the old symphony of truth, so to speak.

[8:40] So let's look at something called a country, and let's take a fairly non-controversial country where this podcast may not be on regular rotation, Iceland.
Iceland now when we think of iceland we think of a geographical location right so now we should be starting to get the hang of learning what is true or what is true based on what is real through sensual evidence and what is not then we have a country called iceland now iceland is a description of a geographical location right so if you live near a mountain then you say yonder mountain then you are describing a particular configuration a geological extrusion or build up called a mountain so people know what you're talking about and the mountain exists right i mean when you say yonder mountain uh you're not talking about a hallucination you're not talking about some some phantasm within your own mind, you're not talking about a mirage, although a mirage exists in terms of light waves, it doesn't exist in terms of what it describes in the location where it looks like it's describing it.
But when you talk about yonder mountain, you're talking about something that actually exists in the real world, right?
So that's a pretty valid thing to do and a very valuable thing to do.

[10:03] Now, when you talk about Iceland, you're talking about a particular location in the world right does that location exist it certainly does exist right so we are describing a iceland can be used in the same way that we describe a mountain.

The Distinction between Borders: Canada vs Australia

[10:21] Now, when we think of the 49th parallel, the largest, yay, the largest undefended border in the world between Canada and the United States, right, there we're starting to talk about a little bit of a difference, right?
So when we talk about Malta or we talk about Australia, we're talking about islands that are bounded by ocean.
So where Australia ends, the sea begins. So it's fairly understandable that when we talk about Australia, we're talking about, potentially, right, we're just talking about the discrete physical entity that has arisen from the ground and been populated by undesirables, at least historically, to a large degree.
Now, although I'm sure Australians are wonderful now. They're Winnebago's and they're Trava.
So when we talk about america and canada though we're talking about something quite different we're not talking about geographical regions that are divided by a an objective and specific physical occurrence the 49th parallel i mean the 49th parallel doesn't exist like a cable running along the ground right i mean if you if you look at the earth you don't see the latitude and the the longitude, like in huge canyons or ropes or whatever across the earth, right?
These are just things put on maps for the convenience of sailors and pilots.

[11:43] So when we talk about Canada and the United States, then we're talking about two entities separated by... by what?

[11:57] Well, they have different colors on the map, they have different governments, they have different histories, I guess you could say, although each house has a different history as well in terms of who's lived there.

Borders as Illusions: Canada and the United States

[12:11] So, divided by what? Well, philosophy, of course, when you examine these kinds of things in rigorous and scientific detail and keep going even past our own historical, like sort of what we've been taught is important, important, then we realize that Canada and the United States don't exist.

The Illusion of National Borders

[12:36] Don't exist in reality. And this is sort of very important.
And this is sort of some of the radical stuff that philosophy can really help us to understand.
I'm not saying it's comfortable to think about, but it is very important to, if you want to sort of think about how the world can be saved and improved and how human beings can be happier and less conflict-ridden and so on, then it's very important to understand that Canada and the United States do not exist in reality.
Australia, as a landmass, does exist in reality and is bounded by the sea and so on, but Australia as a country with particular politics and governments and so on, none of that exists in reality there is no atomic or energy-based sensual-based evidence.

[13:30] For believing that any of these sorts of things exist outside of matter and energy so let's take a look at the united states what exists in the united states like what exists for real not sort of what's in our head or what's you know what have we been taught is real but what exists for real, that can actually be objectively measured and proven.
Well, two things fundamentally exist within America.
One is material objects, trees, roads, snow cones, people, pets, fences of the white picket variety usually, but material objects exist within the United States.
Matter and energy exists in a geographical region we can call the United States.
That exists, for sure. Now, the other thing that exists in the United States is people's belief that the United States exists as a country.
Not just as a bunch of things you're putting an artificial boundary around within your mind, but as a country which has a moral and almost physical reality independent or greater than the sum of its parts. So when we think about.

The Perception of a Country's Reality

[14:49] A dozen eggs. To shift our metaphors a little wildly, when we think about a dozen eggs, well, what exists?
What exists at an atomic and energy level, at a sensual level, what exists are one, two, three, four, 12 eggs.
Unless it's a baker's dozen, in which case I think you get 13.

The Concept of Dozen vs. Real-World Existence

[15:07] But what exists are 12 discrete shells with potential flightless birds inside. site.
And that exists as individual discrete things. The concept is dozen.
Dozen does not exist in the real world. So as I mentioned in the podcast on concept formation, if I sell you, I say to you, I'm going to sell you a dozen eggs.
And you say, great, I'm going to sell you a dozen eggs. And I say, fantastic, it's going to be two bucks, give me two bucks.
And then I say, okay, here's your dozen eggs.
I give you the concept dozen. I give you the idea dozen.
Well, you can't fry the idea up in a pan. You can't make a concept McMuffin out of it.
And so we all recognize that the concepts kind of exist within our own minds, and they're useful for organizing, material objects so that we don't have to constantly say this and then this many eggs.
We can say a dozen and everybody understands what that means.

[16:11] And so we know that each individual thing exists but that the idea is something within our own mind and that the idea since it is within our own mind and we've already established that all ideas within our own mind must bow to the actual facts of reality that whenever there's a conflict between ideas within our own mind and what actually exists in the external world and is real, sensual evidence and measurable and so on, whenever there's a conflict between these two things, what is within our own mind must give way as false as erroneous, until there is actual backup from sensual evidence in the real world.
Now.

The Dual Worlds of Human Existence

[16:56] Just psychologically, there are kind of two worlds that we inhabit as human beings.
We inhabit the physical world, of course, but we also kind of inhabit the social world.
I mean, this is a really loosey-goosey way of phrasing it, and I apologize for the lack of precision.
But we inhabit the social world, which means that we inhabit, or we get reflected to us through sensual evidence.

The Existence of God versus the Existence of Religion

[17:21] Other people's beliefs. This is very important.
Important we'll get to the question of god's existence although you may be fairly sure of where it is we're going to head in this area but there's obviously very it's a very different question if i say does god exist it's a very different question from saying does religion, exist these are two fundamentally different questions one is a question about the objective existence of a spiritual deity or a deity you could say and that is a question which would be answered relative to objective material reality and should be able to be answered independently of asking somebody else right so if i say uh do uh do i am i wearing a dark t-shirt at the moment because it's not topless Fridays, then you would not have to go and ask someone else, is he wearing a black t-shirt?
Right, you could directly, through the evidence of your senses, perceive that I'm wearing a, I guess it's a dark brown or black t-shirt.
I need to see how it comes up. Yeah, dark, let's just say.
And so, things that you can experience directly through your sensual mechanisms, through the evidence of your senses, you can determine their existence or non-existence on your own.

The Illusion of Yonder Mountain

[18:45] So, if I say, yonder mountain is not real, it is an illusion, then if you felt like verifying it, you could go over and climb it and, you know, put a little bit on your mouth or whatever and view it in the changing light and so on.
And once you had climbed to the top and sifted your fingers through it and jumped up and down at it and tasted it and listened to its mountain-ness, then you would be fairly sure actually it would be positive there's no other particular criteria for proof than consistent and reproducible sensual evidence then you could be sure that that mountain, existed in the real world and you wouldn't need to ask anybody else whether or not that mountain existed you could directly perceive it yourself and there's some grey areas which we'll get into perhaps a little later, but when we're talking about does God exist exist than direct sensual evidence consistency with logic right and we'll get into this in a later podcast but you can sort of reason through these things on your own and try and figure them out you may make mistakes and so on but you're capable of doing it for yourself but if i say, and you've never met him let's say if i say my friend bob believes in leprechauns is that true or is that false?

The Truth about Bob's Belief in Leprechauns

[20:04] Well, you can't reason this out.

Two types of truth statements: Logic vs. Input

[20:09] If you knew that Bob was, I don't know, raised by a leprechaun, maybe that would be an example of how you could.
But basically, when it comes to understanding other people's opinions, you kind of need their input.
It's not something that you can work out logically.
So these are sort of the two types of truth statements that we live in.
Things which we can independently verify according to logic, our own logic, or the logic that we've learned from the senses, or the direct evidence of the senses.
So if I say 2 plus 2 is 4 to a kid and explain to him how to work it out and then say is 7 plus 3 equal to 10, the kid can work it out and doesn't need to go and ask somebody else.

[20:50] So in the question, do countries exist in reality?
Yeah, we can sort of figure that out for ourselves, right? If you sort of go to the Canadian-US border, and let's just pretend that I'm sort of standing, like, this side, this is south, right?
So I'm on the American side, right?
And then I take a step over, and then I'm on the Canadian side.
I take a step back, I'm on the US side. I look down, and there's no differentiation between these two things in reality, right?
So, as we said before, in reality, we could say that Australia at least is bounded by an ocean, and therefore, when we say Australia, we are dividing between something that exists on land, or land, and then water.
So, these have different atomic components and so on, so different sea levels, obviously.
And so, when we're stepping back and forth between Canada and the United States, and we look down and there's no physical differentiation between the two.

[21:51] Then I think that we can say that these two things do not exist in reality, because there's no transition.
You could say that the 49th parallel is a transition, but that itself is a concept which doesn't exist in reality.
So for sure, the difference between Canada and the United States does not exist in objective reality in the same way that the difference between Australia, the landmass, and Australia, the sea, exists in reality.
So that's sort of one answer or way of looking at it.
But the second way of trying to examine the question and what confuses us so often when we're not sort of deeply versed in a rational kind of philosophy is we say well, but I mean there are stamps, there are flags, there are government buildings, there are different colored maps, there are treaties, there are songs, there are birthdays of the country, there are, you know, you can sort of go on and on.
Of course these two countries exist. Look at all the evidence.
That evidence is in the census. That evidence comes to me. I look at a flag of Canada. I look at the flag of the United States. They're different.
I look at the map. There are borders. There are guys with guns.
If you cross the border without getting the right paperwork or having the right permission or having the right whatever, you're going to get shot.
Of course they believe it.

Distinguishing between reality and belief

[23:13] Well, that doesn't tell you that that exists in reality.
All that tells you is that people act as if it did exist in reality.
I'm not sort of trying to mince concepts here or sort of fine-slice the onion to turn it into a kind of vapor. This is a very, very important distinction.
What exists in reality, we can determine for ourselves through logic and so on.
What other people believe can't be reasoned out by ourselves we've got to interview people and so on now people's beliefs produce an enormous amount of evidence, in the real world so we all know this this idea or this joke in sort of psychiatric circles that some guy in the year 2006 comes into a psychiatrist's office you know with a little cowlick and I guess he kind of He puts his hands in his jacket, and he says, you know, Doctor, I am Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Delusion of Being Napoleon

[24:16] And he will maybe buy the costume, and maybe he'll marry a woman named Marie, or whatever, right? Maybe he'll go and live on Elba.
But these are all things that are evidence of his belief that he is Napoleon, but this does not mean that he is Napoleon. For obvious reasons, Napoleon's dead, and so this guy can't be Napoleon.
And so when we look at trying to divvy up true and false statements, it's very important in my mind to really be clear about the differentiation between what exists in reality and what exists only as a belief, and what exists as the effects of a belief.
Right so if I say I am an American then.

The Nature of Identity and Citizenship

[25:11] I don't change the physical nature of my being. Let's say that I go for a green card.
I currently live in Canada. I was born in Ireland. I grew up in England.
I spent a little time in South Africa. Then I moved to Canada.

[25:25] And through all that process of being different citizens and living in different countries and so on, my atomic nature didn't change at all, right?
So if I go for a green card and somebody gives me a green card and I now have the right to work in the United States, it doesn't change my atomic nature.
In the way that, I don't know, like having a sex change or dying would sort of change my physical construction, right?
So there are genetic differences between races, for sure. There are genetic hormonal differences between men and women.
But when you change from a Canadian to American, you are not changing your physical structure in any way based on this sort of change.
Change so all that means is that now because i have the right paperwork i'm not going to get aggressed against for having a job in the united states so when we look at all of the paraphernalia that is associated with people's belief in things that don't have an objective reality in the world.

Belief in Non-Existence: Leprechauns and Objective Reality

[26:27] All we're doing is we're looking at a vast amount of detritus that is produced by people believing that things exist when they have no actual existence in the real world.
It's a very, very important thing to figure out, right? So if I say, does my friend Bob believe in leprechauns?
You can't answer that without going to talk to Bob and Bob might lie and there's all these complications.
Whereas if I say, does this mountain exist? You can go walk up the mountain and figure it out for yourself.
You're not dependent upon another human being's consciousness to tell you the truth and you can figure it out without going to talk to anyone and this kind of stuff. And.

Distinguishing between Real and Non-Real Entities

[27:05] I knew that was going to happen sooner or later. And so when we talk about the difference between what is real and what is not real, it's important to look at these sort of three categories.

[27:17] Two of which are essentially evident and one of which is not.
The first category is things which exist in the real world, which are independent of your consciousness, which are received to you directly through the evidence of your senses and so on.
The second category of things are things that exist within other people's minds as a belief and which are not correlated to the existence of things in the real world so if my friend bob believes in leprechauns then he can say yeah i believe in leprechauns and that's something that you can believe in or not believe in or whatever but then there are people's beliefs that oh sorry there are material things in the real world that are produced through people's belief in things that don't really exist and this is what gets people so confused so there are things that exist like a mountain and then there are things that exist like a an american flag now an american flag is a honest to goodness physical material thing that exists that is produced because people believe that a an entity a conceptual entity called america actually exists right and so So because a lot of people believe that a physical entity called America actually exists, you get the production of lots of patriotic this, that, and the others.

America's Existence and its Impact on Behavior

[28:35] And it is used as a very fundamental moral argument, which we'll get to when we talk about morality, for a lot of things, the behaviors that people will put into practice that we would never countenance from an individual, but because they are associated with a country, we will allow that to occur.
Occur if you're having if you're an atheist say and you're having a debate with a religious person i think that you would not accept like if you didn't believe in the existence of god you would not accept that there is a valid argument which goes something like this god exists because there are churches.

Begging the Question: Existence of God vs. Belief in God

[29:17] That would be putting the cart before the horse. In philosophical terms, it's called begging the question.
So you could say that if people believe that God exists, then there will be churches.
But the fact that there are churches only proves that people build churches because they claim to believe in God.
It does not prove that God exists independently of people's beliefs. beliefs.
You're simply pointing at the evidence of a belief, which does not prove the existence of the belief itself, or the tangible objective existence.
So when you look at flags and songs and patriotic this, that, and the other, all it does is it proves that people believe in countries.
It does not prove that countries exist.
It's a very sort of important differentiation that we will, I guess, given that we are at 30 minutes now, thank you so much for listening, as always.
We'll get into this a little bit more in the future, but it might be a worthwhile while exercise for you to think about things in your mind and things in the real world and just try and you know work on on exposing this dividing line between things that exist in the real world and things that exist in other people's minds and the things that exist in the real world that are only a product of beliefs in other people's minds but does not prove what they claim to believe in so i hope that that's a helpful differentiation we are making extraordinarily rapid progress.

[30:39] Towards developing a solid understanding of that which is real so that we can do what is the basic goal of philosophy, which is to make sure that the beliefs, the propositions, the values, the ethics, the politics, everything that we put forward is based on reality and not based on opinion, because then it wouldn't be philosophy, it would be something called modern politics, or I guess politics throughout history.
And we want to be a little bit more rigorous than that, so we're making extraordinary progress. Thank you so much for listening. and I will talk to you soon.

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