Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hyperchaos, Time, and Dreams

So we have facticity...the absence of reason for any reality.

And we have something that exists for no reason. Which means that it could suddenly cease to exist.

But even if it ceases to exist in the present for me, there's still the fact that it *did* exist in the past. Nothing can erase that fact, can it?

Can we change the past? If we do, there's still the fact that the past *was* different before we changed it. So we have two pasts: the original one and the altered one. But then why not go back and change the past again? We could have 1000 pasts...P1, P2, P3, P4, etc. We're now starting to build up another time dimension that runs perpendicular to our "changeable" past. What we originally thought of as the past becomes more like a spatial dimension (its contents can change) and our new dimension takes on the properties we originally attributed to "normal" time.

Okay, that's a bit of a digression. Back to the original point:

The question then is what is the difference between the present and the past?

Even if Hyperchaos time isn't the same as ordinary time, it still serves the same provide a way of separating or differentiating things. According to Quentin Meillassoux something can be red and not-red, but not at the same "time".

But if something is red, and then it's not-red, how do we really know it's the same thing? Maybe the red-thing was zapped out of existence and instantly replaced by a new thing identical to it in every way *except* that it's not-red?

However, note that we have another undefined term floating around: what is a "something"? What are "things"?

Here we hit the problem I have with physicalism. I can only talk about how things seem to me. Not how they really are. I *don't know* what things are. I only know how they seem.

Redness isn't an aspect of's an aspect of my experience of apples. Even the apples that appear in my dreams. But for a color blind person, redness would *not* even be an aspect of their experience of apples.

It is possible that there are things that have some existence independent of the way they seem to me, but I can't say anything about that existence.

Alternatively, it seems equally possible that all that exists are experiences that aren't of "any thing" my experience of apples in my dreams. These dream-apples only exist within my experience, and aren't backed by any real "thing".

This actually solves the problem of non-contradiction. If there are no things, there can be no contradictory things.

But can there be contradictory experiences? Can I experience a red and not-red apple? Maybe, maybe not. But who cares? It's just an experience.

Can I simultaneously experience and not-experience an apple? Sure. "Not-experiencing" something just means that I didn't have that experience. To simultaneously experience it and not-experience it would just be to experience it.


Crude said...

I've got nothing to add here or even comment on, save for "Accidental idealism" is actually a pretty good name. I mean, if you want to make a catchy metaphysic, there you go.

Allen said...

Thanks for the suggestion! 90% of success in philosophy is coming up with a catchy name I think.

It does roll off the tongue a little easier than Idealistic Accidentalism.

Though I thought it sounded a bit like you'd "accidentally" ended up an idealist...


Crude said...

90% of the success if a catchy name? Honestly, I can get behind that.

I think the advantage of Accidental idealism is that it places the defining aspect of your idea in the front - accidental - and the fundamental aspect - the idealism - towards the end. In other words, it's your spin over an established idea (idealism), which happens to use a very common word.

Idealistic accidentalism, on the other hand, sounds too new, too fresh. What is accidentalism? Someone will have to ask for an explanation of what that is, and frankly, they won't. They'll write it off as "some obscure crap" and move on.

So there's my vote - Accidental Idealism. Not that this is an endorsement for the idea or anything, but we're talking marketing here.

Steve said...

I just want to challenge you a bit on idealism.

Just as I'm not sure why Meillassoux would be a materialist rather than an agnostic about the nature of the in-itself, I think you might think about being agnostic as well, given accidentalism:

Here I cherry-pick some of your post:

"I can only talk about how things seem to me. Not how they really are. I *don't know* what things are."

"It is possible that there are things that have some existence independent of the way they seem to me, but I can't say anything about that existence."

Idealism is more than solipsism, right? It means all that exists is definitively mental.

Allen said...

"I think you might think about being agnostic as well"

So I don't strenuously deny the possibility of something non-experiential existing - but ultimately I'm not sure what it means to say that something exists outside of experience.

So let's take the set of all things that I know about rocks. Now, let's remove the properties from this set that are just aspects of my experience. For instance, any property possessed by dream-rocks or hallucinated-rocks, we will subtract from the set of properties that belong to "real" rocks.

Now...after this subtraction, what is left that is unique to "real rocks", as opposed to "experiential rocks"?

Nothing, right? So what are we talking about when we discuss "real" rocks?

It seems to me that there is nothing conceivable about the in-itself except the idea that its existence doesn't depend on our experience of it. This is a pretty slim reed.

Therefore, I don't really see why we should assume the existence of something that we can't conceive of. Maybe there are things that exist but are inconceivable to me...but where can you go with that? What is the point of trying to proactively account for something you can't conceive of and have no reason to believe actually exists?

The idea of a physical world is superfluous to the world of experience, has no clear definition, and can't even be described except in experiential terms.

It's a chimera - purely a creation of the mind.

Do you think?

Allen said...

"Idealism is more than solipsism, right? It means all that exists is definitively mental."

As to solipsism, accidental idealism isn't solipsistic in the sense that it claims that only my consciousness exists.

Accidental idealism *is* the claim that all that exists is definitively mental.

But note that this means that there are no rules that govern the interactions of mental entities or limit what kinds of mental entities are possible...because these rules would not themselves be mental, right? The rules would be supra-mental, or extra-mental, or meta-mental...or something like that.