Levels of nothing

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Gary Dale
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Levels of nothing

Postby Gary Dale » Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:21 pm

I have a problem with Robert Lawrence Kuhn's levels of nothing once you get beyond the concrete - levels 6 and higher. My difficulty is that I deny the ability of the abstract to exist without a physical medium.

For example, level 8 (abstract objects) implies that there is something that can conceive of abstractions. My brain can hold the concept of numbers. Without a brain of sufficient complexity to both recognize its own existence and formulate abstract notions, the concept of numbers doesn't exist.

Without a brain to contemplate possibilities (level 9), I argue that possibilities also do not exist.

At the lower end, I would also argue that the laws of physics (level 6) need a medium to operate within. They don't need a mind to understand them for them to exist, but if nothing exists, there can be no laws governing anything.

Level 7 talks about consciousness but can consciousness exist without a physical form? Certainly our notion of human consciousness demands a brain and a supporting body. Without the body, we would have no notion of self while without the brain, we would have no notions of anything.

If consciousness does not require a physical form, why do we have brains and bodies? What would a non-physical but conscious God be? Wouldn't that simply be an expanded understanding of physical, the way we now understand both matter and energy as physical?

While Kuhn's taxonomy of nothing is certainly a very clever piece of work, I would argue that his higher levels of nothing exist only as concepts within the physical brains of the people reading his article. Some nothings don't exist.

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Daedalus » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:38 pm

On level 6.023x10^23rd there are cupcakes.
"Propaganda is a monologue which seeks not a response, but an echo." (W.H. Auden)
"Given time and plenty of paper, philosophers can prove anything." (Robert Heinlein)
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby kennyc » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:59 pm

Daedalus wrote:On level 6.023x10^23rd there are cupcakes.



That's Far Out Man!
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby kennyc » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:03 pm

To the O.P. you really might want to provide some context for your posts. You also might want to introduce yourself given this is your absolute first post. (don't they teach manners any more these days)....

I did some googling......

you must be talking about this {!#%@}: http://philosophicaugustine.wordpress.c ... g-nothing/
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby SweetPea » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:10 pm

Gary Dale wrote:I have a problem with Robert Lawrence Kuhn's levels of nothing once you get beyond the concrete - levels 6 and higher. My difficulty is that I deny the ability of the abstract to exist without a physical medium.

[...]

While Kuhn's taxonomy of nothing is certainly a very clever piece of work, I would argue that his higher levels of nothing exist only as concepts within the physical brains of the people reading his article. Some nothings don't exist.

So your question again becomes "do concepts exist?", doesn't it?
I'm not sure how you've managed to locate concepts as residing within the braincase.
How do the Deniers get so lucky?
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=24129

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Gord
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Gord » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:08 pm

I'm a twelfth level Vice President!
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
#ANDAMOVIE

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Kaepora Gaebora
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Kaepora Gaebora » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:12 pm

I'm a 60th level warrior dwarf with a +49 defense battle axe.

... this is what we are talking about, right?

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby kennyc » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:24 pm

Kaepora Gaebora wrote:I'm a 60th level warrior dwarf with a +49 defense battle axe.

... this is what we are talking about, right?


That trumps my four of a kind.
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Daedalus » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:40 pm

Kaepora Gaebora wrote:I'm a 60th level warrior dwarf with a +49 defense battle axe.

... this is what we are talking about, right?


You encounter a mated pair of astral dragons... you're banished to The Plane of Shitty First Dates.
"Propaganda is a monologue which seeks not a response, but an echo." (W.H. Auden)
"Given time and plenty of paper, philosophers can prove anything." (Robert Heinlein)
"The map is not the territory." (Alfred Korzybski)
“You’re in the desert, you see a tortoise lying on its back, struggling, and you’re not helping — why is that?" (Bladerunner)

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Kaepora Gaebora
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Kaepora Gaebora » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:30 am

Daedalus wrote:
Kaepora Gaebora wrote:I'm a 60th level warrior dwarf with a +49 defense battle axe.

... this is what we are talking about, right?


You encounter a mated pair of astral dragons... you're banished to The Plane of Shitty First Dates.



Ffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Daedalus » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:57 am

Kaepora Gaebora wrote:
Daedalus wrote:
Kaepora Gaebora wrote:I'm a 60th level warrior dwarf with a +49 defense battle axe.

... this is what we are talking about, right?


You encounter a mated pair of astral dragons... you're banished to The Plane of Shitty First Dates.



Ffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu


Tee hee! :twisted:
"Propaganda is a monologue which seeks not a response, but an echo." (W.H. Auden)
"Given time and plenty of paper, philosophers can prove anything." (Robert Heinlein)
"The map is not the territory." (Alfred Korzybski)
“You’re in the desert, you see a tortoise lying on its back, struggling, and you’re not helping — why is that?" (Bladerunner)

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Gary Dale » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:57 pm

To KennyC: I would hope that a reference to an article in the current issue of Skeptic shouldn't need introduction.

To SweetPea: It seems to me that the issue of whether or not a concept exists within a brain is not as important as whether or not it resides inside something. However, if you are positing that a thought can exist without something physical doing the thinking, then I would have to question why we bother with brains at all.

I note that scientists investigating the mind have discovered evidence that the brain does indeed play a central role in thought. However, leaving this aside, can a concept exist without physicality?

The concept of the warmth of the Sun, for example, comes from our experience with feeling it on warm, sunny day. A mother's love has been shown to be tied to neurochemicals released through direct experience with the offspring. These are things we may feel but they come from specific physical circumstances.

A computer program expresses concepts but is always tied to a medium. Whether it is lines of code on a printout or executing in RAM, it always has a physical existence. Even the idea a programmer had resides inside them.

One can always hypothesize the existence of a non-physical soul but I defy anyone to produce one. Despite millennia of belief, the evidence for the existence of a soul is increasingly negative. One's personality appears to be intimately linked to one's corporeal existence.

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Daedalus » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:01 pm

Seems like a terribly confused way to ask if people are materialists or dualists.
"Propaganda is a monologue which seeks not a response, but an echo." (W.H. Auden)
"Given time and plenty of paper, philosophers can prove anything." (Robert Heinlein)
"The map is not the territory." (Alfred Korzybski)
“You’re in the desert, you see a tortoise lying on its back, struggling, and you’re not helping — why is that?" (Bladerunner)

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Rob Lister
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Rob Lister » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:11 pm

Gary Dale wrote:To KennyC: I would hope that a reference to an article in the current issue of Skeptic shouldn't need introduction.


You would hope wrong. I, for one, have never read it.

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Gary Dale » Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:14 pm

To Daedalus: I'm not asking. I'm saying that dualism is wrong. If the best they can come up with is that we should ignore the mountain of evidence that the mind is a product of our bodies then their viewpoint doesn't deserve recognition. You may want to read my article "Rubber Soul" at http://garydale.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/rubber-soul/ or it's followup - "The Chinese Groom" at http://garydale.wordpress.com/2013/07/1 ... ese-groom/ for more details.

The short of it is that I believe philosophy needs to be informed by science. People can and do believe all kinds of things but serious positions need to be supported by evidence.

To Rob Lister: My apologies then. I thought that this forum was mainly used by people who read the magazine to discuss articles and issues.

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Monster » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:51 pm

Gary Dale wrote:To Rob Lister: My apologies then. I thought that this forum was mainly used by people who read the magazine to discuss articles and issues.

I read the magazine. I haven't reached the article that you mentioned yet.
Listening twice as much as you speak is a sign of wisdom.

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby SweetPea » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:07 pm

Gary Dale wrote:
To SweetPea: It seems to me that the issue of whether or not a concept exists within a brain is not as important as whether or not it resides inside something. However, if you are positing that a thought can exist without something physical doing the thinking, then I would have to question why we bother with brains at all.

I note that scientists investigating the mind have discovered evidence that the brain does indeed play a central role in thought. However, leaving this aside, can a concept exist without physicality?

The concept of the warmth of the Sun, for example, comes from our experience with feeling it on warm, sunny day.
Where a concept might exist is a different question from if concepts exist or not.


Do concepts exist?
How do the Deniers get so lucky?
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=24129

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Gary Dale » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:29 pm

Sweetpea: Can concepts exist without existing somewhere? Something has to conceive the concept in order for it to exist. I have many concepts - most of which I share to some extent with other humans. Some, like the concept of imaginary numbers, would disappear from the Earth if we didn't maintain a certain degree of mathematical ability that so far appears to be unique to humans.

A concept is a mental construct that ultimately depends on mental hardware of some kind. It is no less physical than any other mental state.

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby kennyc » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:05 pm

Gary Dale wrote:To KennyC: I would hope that a reference to an article in the current issue of Skeptic shouldn't need introduction.
....



You are wrong.

Let me apologize for that. Sorry.

The forum is mostly separate from the mag....in fact I only just now noticed that this was in the "SKEPTIC Mag letters section.... I don't subscribe to it but might if there were a Kindle/Amazon version. Hint-Hing!
Last edited by kennyc on Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby kennyc » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:11 pm

Gary Dale wrote:To Daedalus: I'm not asking. I'm saying that dualism is wrong. If the best they can come up with is that we should ignore the mountain of evidence that the mind is a product of our bodies then their viewpoint doesn't deserve recognition. You may want to read my article "Rubber Soul" at http://garydale.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/rubber-soul/ or it's followup - "The Chinese Groom" at http://garydale.wordpress.com/2013/07/1 ... ese-groom/ for more details.

The short of it is that I believe philosophy needs to be informed by science. People can and do believe all kinds of things but serious positions need to be supported by evidence.

To Rob Lister: My apologies then. I thought that this forum was mainly used by people who read the magazine to discuss articles and issues.


First let me say I agree there is no scientific evidence supporting dualism (despite Chalmer and others still pushing it). Fortunately the neurologists and cognitive scientists are making headway and along with computer advances/simulations of neural networks and processes hopefully we can soon put it completely to bed.

I will take a look at your blog posts. I've written a number of posts articles on consciousness, mind/brain etc. myself.

Shen will find that first one interesting. :D
I'm with you on that Gary, as is Shen. :D
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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby SweetPea » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:50 pm

Gary Dale wrote:Sweetpea: Can concepts exist without existing somewhere? Something has to conceive the concept in order for it to exist. I have many concepts - most of which I share to some extent with other humans. Some, like the concept of imaginary numbers, would disappear from the Earth if we didn't maintain a certain degree of mathematical ability that so far appears to be unique to humans.

A concept is a mental construct that ultimately depends on mental hardware of some kind. It is no less physical than any other mental state.

Lots of things depend on other things.

The question: Do concepts exist? If you prefer, "Do mental constructs exist?"
It seems to hinge on the definition of "exist", whichever way you describe "concept".
How do the Deniers get so lucky?
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=24129

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Gary Dale » Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:22 pm

Sweetpea: No one is arguing that concepts don't exist. However every concept humanity has ever developed depends on mental hardware of some kind. Thoughts of any kind don't exist without a thinker. Moreover, holding thoughts (thinking) is a physical process.

If I was to say that fire doesn't exist without fuel and an oxidant, I don't think many people would disagree. Fire doesn't exist except as a physical process, despite it at one time being mysterious. Retreating to ignorance about the nature of thinking is not a good argument that thoughts aren't physical.

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby SweetPea » Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:56 pm

Gary Dale wrote:Sweetpea: No one is arguing that concepts don't exist. However every concept humanity has ever developed depends on mental hardware of some kind. Thoughts of any kind don't exist without a thinker. Moreover, holding thoughts (thinking) is a physical process.

If I was to say that fire doesn't exist without fuel and an oxidant, I don't think many people would disagree. Fire doesn't exist except as a physical process, despite it at one time being mysterious. Retreating to ignorance about the nature of thinking is not a good argument that thoughts aren't physical.


They exist and they are situated inside the skull?
How do the Deniers get so lucky?
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=24129

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Re: Levels of nothing

Postby Cygnus_X1 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:40 pm

Nine levels of 'nothing' ? I'm quite sure the Conservative Party manifesto has exceeded that for many years.
100,000 lemmings can't be wrong.


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