ruveyn ben yosef

Proving a negative

127 posts in this topic

"What 'creation'? What 'creator'? What are you talking about and where in reality did you get it from? What does 'subdued' mean and what exactly do you claim is subdued to what?" ~ ewv

Mea culpa - 'subdued' was my typo for 'subsumed', meaning existence is primary, which includes consciousness, which means existence 1st; consciousness 2nd. Do you dispute this?

"What 'laws of nature' are you talking about? Laws formulated and grasped by whom prior to the existence they are claimed to pertain to?" ~ ewv

The natural sciences.

"Laws are principles understood by some human consciousness. The 'laws of nature' mean principles of human understanding about nature, or as a metaphor, the nature of things which cause them to act as they do, which we discover and formulate as 'laws': nature does not 'follow laws', it precedes them. Everything acts as it does and must do because of what it is. There are no 'laws' or general principles inherent in the universe and prior to human consciousness formulating them. The notion of 'Laws of nature' obeyed by a 'Creator' prior to that which exists is thoroughly primacy of consciousness on both counts.' ~ ewv

There's a lot here to respond to... let me take a moment and get back to you on this... and thank you for finally giving me something to respond to.

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"What 'creation'? What 'creator'? What are you talking about and where in reality did you get it from? What does 'subdued' mean and what exactly do you claim is subdued to what?" ~ ewv

Mea culpa - 'subdued' was my typo for 'subsumed', meaning existence is primary, which includes consciousness, which means existence 1st; consciousness 2nd. Do you dispute this?

What are you talking about? What is a "subsumed creator of existence"? What "creation" and what "creator"? Where in reality do you claim to be getting this from? It has nothing to do with the Objectivist principle of primacy of existence. You are a religious rationalist.

"What 'laws of nature' are you talking about? Laws formulated and grasped by whom prior to the existence they are claimed to pertain to?" ~ ewv

The natural sciences.

The "natural sciences" are part of the body of human knowledge. Your notion of a "creator" "creating existence" "subsumed" by human knowledge is all gibberish and has nothing to do with Ayn Rand's philosophy.

"Laws are principles understood by some human consciousness. The 'laws of nature' mean principles of human understanding about nature, or as a metaphor, the nature of things which cause them to act as they do, which we discover and formulate as 'laws': nature does not 'follow laws', it precedes them. Everything acts as it does and must do because of what it is. There are no 'laws' or general principles inherent in the universe and prior to human consciousness formulating them. The notion of 'Laws of nature' obeyed by a 'Creator' prior to that which exists is thoroughly primacy of consciousness on both counts.' ~ ewv

There's a lot here to respond to... let me take a moment and get back to you on this... and thank you for finally giving me something to respond to.

You have been given a lot to respond to, much of it several times, which you have evaded. Drop your snide sarcasm under a pretense of being 'politely intellectual'.

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Actually you can. One can prove there does NOT exist a pair of integers m, n such that n != 0, m and n have no common denominator other than 1 and such that (m/n)^2 = 2.. This last was proved by a follower of Pythagorus who was bumped off by some of his fellow Pythagoreans for causing them embarrassment.

ruveyn

That is an example of proving a positive that makes the opposite a contradiction.

I want to make sure I understand this point. But I'll use a different example.

Let's say I want to prove that '2 + 2 = 5' is false (I'll call this statement not-A). At first one might claim you can't prove a negative. But since I can prove that '2 + 2 = 4' is true, and '2 + 2 = 4' is an example of not-not-A (or A), then I have proven that not only is A is, but also that not-A is a contradiction and therefore must be false.

Is that correct?

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An epistemologically negative statement does not mean that the statement is not grammatically negative. It means prove the negative for which there is no evidence.

But "discussing or proving why something that is not so is not so" is not the same thing as "proving a negative".

How would you define a negative statement? I am guessing that you would say my statement "2 + 2 = 5 is false" is not a negative statement.

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Actually you can. One can prove there does NOT exist a pair of integers m, n such that n != 0, m and n have no common denominator other than 1 and such that (m/n)^2 = 2.. This last was proved by a follower of Pythagorus who was bumped off by some of his fellow Pythagoreans for causing them embarrassment.

ruveyn

That is an example of proving a positive that makes the opposite a contradiction.

I want to make sure I understand this point. But I'll use a different example.

Let's say I want to prove that '2 + 2 = 5' is false (I'll call this statement not-A). At first one might claim you can't prove a negative. But since I can prove that '2 + 2 = 4' is true, and '2 + 2 = 4' is an example of not-not-A (or A), then I have proven that not only is A is, but also that not-A is a contradiction and therefore must be false.

Is that correct?

Correct.

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Then is this an example of proving a negative? It looks like it, but then at least sometimes a negative can be proven.

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What is confusing about this "proving a negative" thing, is just what is meant about it. Look at it this way; it is not about a statement put in the negative - prove there isn't an elephant in the room - for example. There is plenty of positive evidence for that. No, what is meant by "proving a negative" is to (dis)prove a claim for which no evidence exists. Basically an arbitrary statement is made, and then one is expected disprove it. One cannot, for example prove God doesn't exist because there is no evidence one can use to prove something based on a claim which itself has no evidence.

As long as there is some evidence to work with, such evidence is positive evidence. There is no such thing as "negative evidence". You prove an elephant is not in the room with positive evidence. For example, if an elephant was in the room I would see, hear, smell and touch it. It would block my way. That is sufficient positive proof that the room is positively short of elephants.

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Then is this an example of proving a negative? It looks like it, but then at least sometimes a negative can be proven.

No. When you ask to prove that 2+2=5 is false, you are asking to prove that 2+2/=5 is true (/= is supposed to be a not-equal sign). This is not proving a negative.

Proving a negative (in my understanding) is something like this: I accuse you of murdering Bob, and the court holds you guilty until proven innocent. You must prove the negative, that you did not murder Bob. Even if you provided video footage of yourself being in a different city at the time of the murder, thereby providing an alibi, I could just demand you prove the video isn't a fabrication. Again you can't do this. Even if you got a notarized letter from an official inspector of the security camera, I could demand you prove he's not lying, or part of the larger conspiracy of murdering Bob. You can't do this. This is impossible to do, just like it's impossible for you to disprove that invisible unicorns are dancing around your computer as you read this.

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That is sufficient positive proof that the room is positively short of elephants.

So there's an elephant shortage. Perhaps with more federal aid we could have a turkey in every pot and an elephant in every room.

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Then is this an example of proving a negative? It looks like it, but then at least sometimes a negative can be proven.

No. When you ask to prove that 2+2=5 is false, you are asking to prove that 2+2/=5 is true (/= is supposed to be a not-equal sign). This is not proving a negative.

Proving a negative (in my understanding) is something like this: I accuse you of murdering Bob, and the court holds you guilty until proven innocent. You must prove the negative, that you did not murder Bob. Even if you provided video footage of yourself being in a different city at the time of the murder, thereby providing an alibi, I could just demand you prove the video isn't a fabrication. Again you can't do this. Even if you got a notarized letter from an official inspector of the security camera, I could demand you prove he's not lying, or part of the larger conspiracy of murdering Bob. You can't do this. This is impossible to do, just like it's impossible for you to disprove that invisible unicorns are dancing around your computer as you read this.

And to connect this with what Arnold is saying about positive vs negative evidence, in the extreme case where you chased down every possible objection against your case for innocence in the murder trial, in the end you would be proving by exclusion rather than proving the negative. You would have proven, with positive evidence, that you were in fact in a separate city isolated from anyone else the night of the murder, and proof of your location by exclusion proves you weren't at the scene of the crime.

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"Your notion of a 'creator' 'creating existence' 'subsumed' by human knowledge is all gibberish and has nothing to do with Ayn Rand's philosophy." ~ ewv

And again, what I have actually claimed (several times now) is that consciousness subsumed by existence doesn't contradict the primacy of existence. You haven't disputed this, except to reclaim without evidence that what I'm promoting is a creator of existence. This isn't a "chicken or egg" paradox. The 'existence' of a creator implies that existence is primary, with a creator being part of existence. What all this really amounts to is whether some causes in the chain of cause and effect are creative causes, i.e. acts of creation not of existence, but as manipulation of objects of existence. Can Man, for example, be creative? If so, then by definition a Creator, e.g. Man, exists, and the rest is just a question of the degree of ability to create.

Please either address what I've actually posted, or let's move on.

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Please either address what I've actually posted, or let's move on.

Everyone has addressed what you posted, and we are waiting for you to seriously address it before we can "move on". No one enjoys repetition, and repeating arguments would just bury prior good posts under more and more layers.

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Then I am to take the common Objectivist response to, "Consciousness subsumed by existence doesn't contradict the primacy of existence", is "Yes it does, because 'existence' doesn't include 'consciousness'".

Is that correct?

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What is confusing about this "proving a negative" thing, is just what is meant about it. ...[W]hat is meant by "proving a negative" is to (dis)prove a claim for which no evidence exists. Basically an arbitrary statement is made, and then one is expected disprove it. One cannot, for example prove God doesn't exist because there is no evidence one can use to prove something based on a claim which itself has no evidence.

As long as there is some evidence to work with, such evidence is positive evidence. There is no such thing as "negative evidence".

What you say makes sense. The language is somewhat ambiguous.

A dictionary definition of negative (as used in logic) is: (of a proposition) denying the truth of the predicate with regard to the subject.

There is a short section in Wikipedia addressing "you can't prove a negative" where one philospher claims that no logician believes you can't prove a negative. He seems to be using the definition differently than "something for which there is no evidence". Was it Aristotle that first said "you can't prove a negative"? If so, I wonder what his definition was and how that definition has changed over time.

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DA,

What has the creator created, in your view?

Traditionally, he's created everything out of nothing. That's primacy of consciousness.

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DA,

What has the creator created, in your view?

Traditionally, he's created everything out of nothing. That's primacy of consciousness.

A creator, In my view, is one who creates. I reject the traditional view of 'The Creator' as one who can create something from nothing, because in all cases, the existence of a creator implies existence, i.e. something. My question is, doesn't the statement, "existence exists", presume consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence?

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From The Ayn Rand Lexicon:

Primacy of Existence vs. Primacy of Consciousness

The basic metaphysical issue that lies at the root of any system of philosophy [is] the primacy of existence or the primacy of consciousness.

The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward. The rejection of these axioms represents a reversal: the primacy of consciousness—the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness (either human or divine or both). The epistemological corollary is the notion that man gains knowledge of reality by looking inward (either at his own consciousness or at the revelations it receives from another, superior consciousness).

The source of this reversal is the inability or unwillingness fully to grasp the difference between one’s inner state and the outer world, i.e., between the perceiver and the perceived (thus blending consciousness and existence into one indeterminate package-deal). This crucial distinction is not given to man automatically; it has to be learned. It is implicit in any awareness, but it has to be grasped conceptually and held as an absolute.

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DA,

What has the creator created, in your view?

Traditionally, he's created everything out of nothing. That's primacy of consciousness.

A creator, In my view, is one who creates. I reject the traditional view of 'The Creator' as one who can create something from nothing, because in all cases, the existence of a creator implies existence, i.e. something. My question is, doesn't the statement, "existence exists", presume consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence?

A "Creator" who creates not existence but only within existence and according to the identity of existence is no god. A god can't have god-like powers when his abilities are delimited by the nature of existence. If there is no god, then there is no religion, and you have nothing left to say on the matter. Faith will have to handle the rest.

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My question is, doesn't the statement, "existence exists", presume consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence?

Existence subsumes all forms of consciousness that adhere to the laws of existence. All definitions of god that I know of describe a supernatural being. So, DA, once and for all, give us a thorough but concise description of god as you see him/her/it, we can show you where you're wrong and we can get on with it.

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DA,

What has the creator created, in your view?

Traditionally, he's created everything out of nothing. That's primacy of consciousness.

A creator, In my view, is one who creates. I reject the traditional view of 'The Creator' as one who can create something from nothing, because in all cases, the existence of a creator implies existence, i.e. something. My question is, doesn't the statement, "existence exists", presume consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence?

A "Creator" who creates not existence but only within existence and according to the identity of existence is no god. A god can't have god-like powers when his abilities are delimited by the nature of existence. If there is no god, then there is no religion, and you have nothing left to say on the matter. Faith will have to handle the rest.

Yes, and his faith and a bunch of floating abstractions is all he has. In Atlas Shrugged Hank Rearden was emphasized as a creator. Ayn Rand used the term frequently for those (humans) who create new things using new ideas. There is nothing wrong with the concept of "create" or "creativity", but it has absolutely nothing to do with an alleged god and nothing to do with religion -- except for those who "create" floating abstractions solely inside their imaginations. You can't get from "one who creates" to a religious mentality speculating about "consciousness" and natural causes in the universe at large.

He is trying to have his god and eat it too. For his a priori religious purposes he equivocates on the normal concept of 'to create', which requires a person using his mind to change the form of something within existence in a way that had not been done before. He misuses the concept as, and with other, floating abstractions in terse slogans to keep his long-held prior religious faith going on behalf of his imagined god floating abstraction. He evasively refuses to answer questions about what (and who) he thinks he is talking about and what this supposed creature is doing or where he got it from. All he has is repeated meaningless slogans comprised of floating abstractions. This is a classic case of Rationalism manipulating words without regard for their meaning in reality or the source of the concepts for which they stand.

As a side show he now claims that 'existence exists' "presumes consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence" to rationalistically wedge in his god consciousness actively running the universe and making it what it is, while ignoring the basis for the concept of consciousness. What "part"? What is "subsumed" supposed to mean in this slogan? What "creator"? What "creation" and how? He doesn't know and refuses to say, he only rationalistically manipulates the words.

Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

Each of us 'perceiving that which exists' does not mean a god running the universe with a 'consciousness' floating out there someplace as a "part" of it, "described" only with the repetitive and meaningless phrase of a "consciousness subsumed by existence".

You can't penetrate that mentality because it is tied to a rationalistic psychology that prohibits tying thoughts to reality.

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My question is, doesn't the statement, "existence exists", presume consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence?

Existence subsumes all forms of consciousness that adhere to the laws of existence. All definitions of god that I know of describe a supernatural being. So, DA, once and for all, give us a thorough but concise description of god as you see him/her/it, we can show you where you're wrong and we can get on with it.

I share the faith of the Founding Fathers in Nature's God as the creator/endower of life and an equally unalienable right to life. Evidence of this, is awareness of self, and something greater than self, but what that "something" is cannot be objectively proven. Therefore I will not attempt to prove it in this (or any) forum, but you are free to prove the negative, if you want to.

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My question is, doesn't the statement, "existence exists", presume consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence?

Existence subsumes all forms of consciousness that adhere to the laws of existence. All definitions of god that I know of describe a supernatural being. So, DA, once and for all, give us a thorough but concise description of god as you see him/her/it, we can show you where you're wrong and we can get on with it.

I share the faith of the Founding Fathers in Nature's God as the creator/endower of life and an equally unalienable right to life. Evidence of this, is awareness of self, and something greater than self, but what that "something" is cannot be objectively proven. Therefore I will not attempt to prove it in this (or any) forum, but you are free to prove the negative, if you want to.

Pointing out that (i) you have no proof for such a being and, (ii), that such a being would contradict the axioms and therefore cannot exist isn't proving a negative. You're playing games.

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My question is, doesn't the statement, "existence exists", presume consciousness is a part of (subsumed by) existence?

Existence subsumes all forms of consciousness that adhere to the laws of existence. All definitions of god that I know of describe a supernatural being. So, DA, once and for all, give us a thorough but concise description of god as you see him/her/it, we can show you where you're wrong and we can get on with it.

I share the faith of the Founding Fathers in Nature's God as the creator/endower of life and an equally unalienable right to life. Evidence of this, is awareness of self, and something greater than self, but what that "something" is cannot be objectively proven. Therefore I will not attempt to prove it in this (or any) forum, but you are free to prove the negative, if you want to.

Pointing out that (i) you have no proof for such a being and, (ii), that such a being would contradict the axioms and therefore cannot exist isn't proving a negative. You're playing games.

I don't consider it "playing games" to try to respond to a question honestly. I have stated my evidence and made clear it doesn't meet an objective standard of proof. If all evidence was objective proof, then belief wouldn't be necessary.

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I don't consider it "playing games" to try to respond to a question honestly.

Telling me that you're going to let me prove the negative was "playful".

I have stated my evidence and made clear it doesn't meet an objective standard of proof.

What you listed isn't evidence at all -- very "playful."

If all evidence was objective proof, then belief wouldn't be necessary.

First, you haven't listed any evidence. Second, there can be no evidence for a god. Third, it's concepts like "probability", "certainty" and "faith" that wouldn't be necessary in your scenario, not "belief" (free will). This too was "playful".

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I've listed subjective evidence that satisfies my firm belief, but cannot present objective evidence to satisfy yours. Can you prove your existence to me? How do I know you're not some form of artificial intelligence, or ewv?? And even if you presented yourself to me, how would I know that you were the same person responding here? Your responses are evidence of a person that exists but not proof. If the universe appears to be orderly to me, as if by design, the order is evidence of a designer that I may accept, and you are free to reject.

Prove to me that existence exists that hasn't yet been observed, or requires a human consciousness to validate it.

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