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Is All Evidence Empirical?


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#1 motherengine

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Posted 15 May 2015 - 11:03 PM

If all evidence must be perceived to be contemplated does this not make all forms of evidence technically empirical?  Even 'pure' logic has a root basis in perception.



#2 CraigD

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 06:15 PM

If all evidence must be perceived to be contemplated does this not make all forms of evidence technically empirical?

In the technical sense that appearance and perception are inseparable, yes, all evidence is empirical.

I don’t think this observations isn’t very important, though, because perception, appearance, and evidence are not the most important parts of thought and knowledge. More important is the explanations – scientific and folk “theories” – by which we make sense of our perceptions, and predict future ones.

The empirical school of philosophy holds that, caused as they are by empirical perception, even our theories are also empirical – that is, that only sensations can be considered “real”, and that thus reality is caused by perception. In diametric opposition, the objectivist school holds that “objective” reality, entirely independent of any beings perception of it, is real, and that are perception provides us with an more-or-less accurate representation of this objective reality – that is, that objective reality causes our perception of it.

Taken to its logical conclusion by removing the unwarranted assumption that other people are ontologically like you, empiricism lead to the solipsism, the position that you are the cause of all reality, including the appearance of other people.

My favorite essay about these two epistemological and ontological extremes – objectivism and empiricism/solipsism, is in physicist David Deutsch’s 1997 The Fabric of Reality. His conclusion, with which I agree, is that objectivism (which he names, with some distinctions, realism) is better than solipsism because solipsism is not "a world view stripped to its essentials", but "realism weighed down by worthless baggage introduced only to be explained away" – in short, that realism has greater scientific utility than solipsism.

#3 motherengine

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 07:24 PM

Thanks for the reply.

I actually believe in a reality objective to (but including) human perception. I do not think that said reality can be known due inherent limitations of subjective perception, though I understand the necessity of a certain amount of assumption concerning an objective reality as a solipsistic position seems to be a dead end both scientifically and philosophically.

I suppose I consider the idea initially expressed as important due to my own issues with implications created by the juxtaposition of human arrogance and the scientific method.

#4 Rade

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 04:09 PM

You start

 

If all evidence must be perceived to be contemplated does this not make all forms of evidence technically empirical?  Even 'pure' logic has a root basis in perception.

Why must all evidence be perceived to be contemplated ?  

 

Evidence provides insight for knowledge with a goal to establish the truth of a state of affairs of some phenomenon.  A true state of affairs can have two types of evidence: (1) that with an empirical nature (observation, experiment) and (2) that with a priori nature based on purely logical judgement. 

 

While it is true that pure logic must have its ultimate root from perception of some sort, it is not true that all evidence must have its ultimate root from perception. 



#5 motherengine

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 07:27 PM

But how can you make such an assumption, except based on empirical evidence?

#6 Rade

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 11:45 AM

But how can you make such an assumption, except based on empirical evidence?

Because all assumptions by definition are acts of faith, realist logical expectations, and never have any empirical evidence to support them.  You are confusing assumption with hypothesis. 



#7 motherengine

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Posted 04 July 2015 - 11:29 PM

Because all assumptions by definition are acts of faith, realist logical expectations, and never have any empirical evidence to support them.  You are confusing assumption with hypothesis.


Are you equating “acts of faith” with “realist logical expectations”?

Empirical evidence is what you see hear taste smell feel and perceive. Empirical evidence can be hypothesized on and an assumption can then be formulated, but the empirical evidence itself is just what you perceive; and, therefore, it is not always reliable.

...or so I have read.

#8 Rade

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 07:40 AM

Are you equating “acts of faith” with “realist logical expectations”?

Empirical evidence is what you see hear taste smell feel and perceive. Empirical evidence can be hypothesized on and an assumption can then be formulated, but the empirical evidence itself is just what you perceive; and, therefore, it is not always reliable.

...or so I have read.

1. Yes

2.  All evidence is not empirical.



#9 motherengine

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 08:20 PM

All evidence is not empirical.


Example?

#10 Doctordick

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 09:56 AM

If any aspect of your knowledge is ignored, that is the very definition of ignorance and ignorance appears to be the preferred state of humanity! I would personally love to correspond with someone who didn't prefer ignorance.

 

 



#11 Rade

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 10:13 PM

Example?

Lost track of this thread. 

 

An example of evidence that is non empirical (not based on perception) would be the first known evidence of alternating current, which appeared within the mind of N. Tesla well before there was any physical observation or model of the process.  Tesla wrote that he first conceived of the physical possibility of AC in his mind while sitting on a park bench.  He then invented in his mind a model of the AC process.  Tesla was a unique genius who build models of physical processes in his mind, changing gear ratios, shapes, input, etc.  Only after Tesla completed testing his mental model did he build a physical model for others to observe the AC process in operation.  

 

But, perhaps you do not consider the working model of AC that Tesla mentally conceived and tested to be evidence ?   By definition evidence can be broadly construed to be anything that supports an assertion.  Using this definition, the mental model of AC of Tesla would be considered evidence, given the fact that the physical model he build confirmed his mental assertion of the AC process in great detail. 



#12 exchemist

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 12:54 AM

Lost track of this thread. 

 

An example of evidence that is non empirical (not based on perception) would be the first known evidence of alternating current, which appeared within the mind of N. Tesla well before there was any physical observation or model of the process.  Tesla wrote that he first conceived of the physical possibility of AC in his mind while sitting on a park bench.  He then invented in his mind a model of the AC process.  Tesla was a unique genius who build models of physical processes in his mind, changing gear ratios, shapes, input, etc.  Only after Tesla completed testing his mental model did he build a physical model for others to observe the AC process in operation.  

 

But, perhaps you do not consider the working model of AC that Tesla mentally conceived and tested to be evidence ?   By definition evidence can be broadly construed to be anything that supports an assertion.  Using this definition, the mental model of AC of Tesla would be considered evidence, given the fact that the physical model he build confirmed his mental assertion of the AC process in great detail. 

From the point of view of science, the "evidence" was the physical model that was built to test his idea, not the idea, however fully worked out it may have been.

 

I agree it is a nice point whether in a more general (i.e, not scientific) context, one can have evidence that is not based on observation or experience. One could I imagine argue that a mathematic proof of a theorem is "evidence" for its truth. But this I think is not normally the language one would use. 



#13 mrg

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 09:30 AM

David Hume has been said to have invented the concept of "facts".  Maybe an exaggeration, but he was perceptive, pointing out there were two kinds of facts:

 

-- Empirical facts, meaning derived from reliable observation of the real Universe.  "Reliable" means that "any honest and sensible person will make the same observations and get the same results".   For example, rain is consistently observed to fall down instead of up.  We regard that as a fact, but only because it is never observed to fall up.

 

-- Relational facts, being systems of logic, like arithmetic.  "2 + 2 = 4" is a relational fact, it is absolutely true because we say it is.

 

The validity of any logical analysis of empirical facts is dependent on, first, the observational validity of the fundamental assumptions of the analysis; and second, the observational validity of the results.   Creationists are forever trying to logically "prove" why evolution doesn't work, but what they are saying is:  "I know I'm right in theory, I don't care if I'm right in fact."


Edited by mrg, 26 May 2017 - 09:31 AM.


#14 current

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 04:49 PM


Has NDE ( near death experience ) have empirical evidence ?

To many in the health profession it does .

#15 mrg

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 04:53 PM

Hmm, thought this was deleted, but it appears "current" is playing multiple threads in parallel, and I didn't realize it.

 

From a book I'm writing: 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

* An advocate for the existence of the immortal soul -- a "spiritualist", proposing the existence of intangible spirits and spirit worlds -- will point to the visions of those who have had "out-of-body experiences (OBE)" or "near-death experiences (NDE)" as proof.  However, this is making an extraordinary claim on the basis of thin and arguable evidence.  British cognitive psychologist Susan Blackmore (born 1951), after undergoing an OBE, decided to scientifically investigate OBEs and NDEs and other "psi" phenomena -- but, as she wrote in 2000, her exercise in "parapsychology" came up short:

BEGIN QUOTE:

It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end.  Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that.  I found no psychic phenomena -- only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud.  I became a skeptic.

END QUOTE


Although Blackmore admitted that she could not prove that OBEs and NDEs were just vivid illusions, in a 1987 article she pointed out the effort to prove they were anything more than illusions went nowhere:

BEGIN QUOTE:

I suggest that, wherever you start in parapsychology, if you base your research on the psi hypothesis then you will be forced to do ever more and more restricted research, to back up into ever less and less testable positions, and to produce ever more feeble and flimsy buttresses to hold your theory together.  In the end, whatever the questions you started with, you are forced to ask more and more boring questions, until there is only one question left:  Does psi exist?  That question, I submit, is unanswerable.

... All those negative results teach us only one thing, that we have been asking the wrong question.  And the whole history of parapsychology looks like a string of wrong questions.  Parapsychology is, if it is based on the psi hypothesis, a magnificent failure; not because psi [provably] doesn't exist, but because it asks unanswerable questions.

END QUOTE


Research -- good research -- into OBEs show they can be easily induced. [Neurophysiologist Stanislaus] Dehaene describes an OBE as a kind of "dizziness", a misperception of where we think our body is, relative to where it actually is.  NDEs turn out to be similar to the experiences people have when they faint.  For example, the perception of "going into a tunnel" turns out to be due to tunnel vision in a brain starved of oxygen, while the "white light" experienced in reports of NDEs is due to spontaneous widening of the pupils, overlighting the retina.

Spiritualists reject all explanations of psi experiences, insisting that the evidence they are "for real" is "irrefutable", even though it is too dodgy and arguable to be persuasive to an impartial skeptic.  As Hume put it, "a weaker evidence can never destroy a stronger" -- or as the modern phrase has it, "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence."

In the end, spiritualists can only invert the burden of proof, daring the unconvinced to show spiritualism is in error.  The response, of course, is that spiritualism -- by definition, focused on immaterials that are not and cannot be reliably observed -- is unarguable, since it cannot be tested by material evidence, cannot be shown to be right or wrong.  We may believe it is absolutely right if we like, without fear of effective contradiction, since it is not demonstrably wrong; but we are no wiser in any specific way if we do believe it.  It can be just as easily seen, as the physicists also put it, as "not even wrong."  The two are the same, seen from different sides.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


Edited by mrg, 31 May 2017 - 05:06 PM.


#16 current

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 05:05 PM

from a book I'm writing:
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
* An advocate for the existence of the immortal soul -- a "spiritualist", proposing the existence of intangible spirits and spirit worlds -- will point to the visions of those who have had "out-of-body experiences (OBE)" or "near-death experiences (NDE)" as proof.  However, this is making an extraordinary claim on the basis of thin and arguable evidence.  British cognitive psychologist Susan Blackmore (born 1951), after undergoing an OBE, decided to scientifically investigate OBEs and NDEs and other "psi" phenomena -- but, as she wrote in 2000, her exercise in "parapsychology" came up short:BEGIN QUOTE:
It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end.  Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that.  I found no psychic phenomena -- only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud.  I became a skeptic.
END QUOTE

Although Blackmore admitted that she could not prove that OBEs and NDEs were just vivid illusions, in a 1987 article she pointed out the effort to prove they were anything more than illusions went nowhere:BEGIN QUOTE:
I suggest that, wherever you start in parapsychology, if you base your research on the psi hypothesis then you will be forced to do ever more and more restricted research, to back up into ever less and less testable positions, and to produce ever more feeble and flimsy buttresses to hold your theory together.  In the end, whatever the questions you started with, you are forced to ask more and more boring questions, until there is only one question left:  Does psi exist?  That question, I submit, is unanswerable.
... All those negative results teach us only one thing, that we have been asking the wrong question.  And the whole history of parapsychology looks like a string of wrong questions.  Parapsychology is, if it is based on the psi hypothesis, a magnificent failure; not because psi [provably] doesn't exist, but because it asks unanswerable questions.
END QUOTE

Research -- good research -- into OBEs show they can be easily induced. [Neurophysiologist Stanislaus] Dehaene describes an OBE as a kind of "dizziness", a misperception of where we think our body is, relative to where it actually is.  NDEs turn out to be similar to the experiences people have when they faint.  For example, the perception of "going into a tunnel" turns out to be due to tunnel vision in a brain starved of oxygen, while the "white light" experienced in reports of NDEs is due to spontaneous widening of the pupils, overlighting the retina.
Spiritualists reject all explanations of psi experiences, insisting that the evidence they are "for real" is "irrefutable", even though it is too dodgy and arguable to be persuasive to an impartial skeptic.  As Hume put it, "a weaker evidence can never destroy a stronger" -- or as the modern phrase has it, "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence."
In the end, spiritualists can only invert the burden of proof, daring the unconvinced to show spiritualism is in error.  The response, of course, is that spiritualism -- by definition, focused on immaterials that are not and cannot be reliably observed -- is unarguable, since it cannot be tested by material evidence, cannot be shown to be right or wrong.  We may believe it is absolutely right if we like, without fear of effective contradiction, since it is not demonstrably wrong; but we are no wiser in any specific way if we do believe it.  It can be just as easily seen, as the physicists also put it, as "not even wrong."  The two are the same, seen from different sides.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


1987 guy ?

How about much more recent research ?

#17 mrg

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 05:08 PM

How about much more recent research ?

 

Blackmore is still very active.  Check out her website. 

 

For myself, I'm an expert on the Kennedy Assassination.  No joke, there's probably only a few thousand people on the planet who know as much as or more than I do.

 

This was not so hard to accomplish, because sensible people never thought that there was honest evidence for a Kennedy assassination conspiracy, and it takes a certain obsessive mindset to keep on pushing when all that is found is trash.  Biggest waste of time in my life.


Edited by mrg, 31 May 2017 - 05:12 PM.