Does All Actuality Imply Possibility?

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Dimmesdale
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Does All Actuality Imply Possibility?

Post #1

Post by Dimmesdale »

If something is actual, real, then it is therefore possible. Right?

I don't think so. I think that the word "possible" implies things other than mere "reality" and is thus inaccurate to use in various contexts.

"Possible" can in fact have THREE different meanings, philosophically, that I have been able to parse. Some of these are implied in the general usage of the word, but not all of them, all of the time.

FIRST, there is the notion that a hypothetical object is at least possible FROM OUR VANTAGE POINT OF KNOWLEDGE. Let me explain. Theists and atheists argue whether an eternal being (God) exists. Generally, both believe it is possible it exists, although both may, also, have varying levels of doubt that they are right, one way or the other. Let's just concentrate on the segment of the population who are OPEN to agnosticism to some extent. It is these I wish to focus on, because it is these thinkers who highlight what it means for something to be POSSIBLE from the epistemological, or knowledge, vantage point, but not in the sense of ontology.

As I have said, these theists and atheists argue about an ETERNAL being (God). IF God exists, then he could not have come to be. It is a necessary being. He could not have NOT been, at any point. Likewise, if God ISN'T, then it is equally a necessary FACT that no God could possibly exist (because God is by definition eternal -- he would have always, already BEEN).

So what meaning does the word "possible" have in the context of the discussion between these uncertain theists and atheists? It only applies to their own epistemology. Actually, the REALITIES God or not-God were CERTAIN, all along, being UNCHANGEABLE FACTS completely independent of our MINDS debating about them. It is only our own uncertain mental GRASPING that DEFAULTED to the conclusion "possible." Nay, CERTAIN is regards the ACTUAL FACT, POSSIBLE applies only to our SPECULATION ABOUT it.

SECOND, there is the notion that something can be ACTUALLY or ONTOLOGICALLY possible. This can refer, unlike in the case of God or eternally or absolutely necessary beings (mathematical forms, etc), to things which have the POTENTIAL of COMING to BE from a state of NOT BEING or "NOTHINGNESS." So for instance, assuming we do not live in a wholly deterministic universe, that there is such a thing as an uncertainty principle, then things can MOVE from a state of POTENTIALITY to one of ACTUALITY (or not). So for instance, it is possible to win the lottery. Assuming there is free will or some other force involved, we can assume that it is at least possible a certain player can win (or, again, NOT, as the case may TURN OUT). Here possibility takes on a completely different meaning. It is ontological, not epistemic.

THIRD, there is lastly the notion that SOMETHING (a state of affairs, etc) is possible in the sense that REALITY as we know it in terms of its inherent RATIONALITY ALLOWS or PERMITS it. So we know that since logic is real, there cannot be such a thing as a one-sided shape in terms of our spatial experience. Assuming any type of shape IPSO FACTO presumes more than one side because that is the nature of space. One side + depth = at least another side. This is simply a basic feature of the reality we find ourselves in. It is inherent.

Now, let's apply this to a "World." An actual world. The world we live in.

Is it, FIRSTLY, possible in the epistemic sense? You could say so, but since most of us take the world as a given, it is meaningless to say so. No one is agnostic or debating about it. So why even bother saying this about the world?

Is it, SECONDLY, possible in the ontological sense? How would you know? Do you know that the world does not have a necessary existence (that is, generated by chance)? If not, then it's not really accurate to say it is possible, is it? The fact is, you don't know, do you?

Is it, THIRDLY, possible in the rationalistic sense? This last one seems the most fitting. But it is also the least interesting. So what if the world is rational? It just means that the world isn't inherently absurd, but follows the necessary logic of existence all existent things follow. It doesn't tell us squat about any other "possible worlds" -- only this one. And what it simply says is that this world "IS" as much as anything is - rational and not absurd.

Is this world ACTUAL? Knock-knock. Yep.
Is this world possible?

At best, maybe, or it's a moot point.

(I am open to being proven wrong though; let's all learn together).
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein

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Aetixintro
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Re: Does All Actuality Imply Possibility?

Post #21

Post by Aetixintro »

I recommend reading Saul Kripke and his "Naming and Necessity" to this big discussion.

Let me add some links:
Kripke semantics, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kripke_semantics
Naming and Necessity, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naming_and_Necessity
Saul Kripke, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Kripke
Modal logic, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_logic
Modality, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modality_ ... _language)

And Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is good too:
Varieties of Modality, SEP: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/modality-varieties/
The Epistemology of Modality, SEP: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moda ... stemology/

Again, with logics, the modal analysis boils down to logical soundness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundness, Wikip.

Have fun! :D
I'm cool! :) - Stronger Religion every day! Also by "mathematical Religion", the eternal forms, God closing the door on corrupt humanity, possibly!

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Re: Does All Actuality Imply Possibility?

Post #22

Post by Dimmesdale »

Aetixintro wrote: Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:39 pm I recommend reading Saul Kripke and his "Naming and Necessity" to this big discussion.

Let me add some links:
Kripke semantics, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kripke_semantics
Naming and Necessity, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naming_and_Necessity
Saul Kripke, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Kripke
Modal logic, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_logic
Modality, Wikip.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modality_ ... _language)

And Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is good too:
Varieties of Modality, SEP: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/modality-varieties/
The Epistemology of Modality, SEP: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moda ... stemology/

Again, with logics, the modal analysis boils down to logical soundness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundness, Wikip.

Have fun! :D
Thanks, but to be honest, I'm not really interested.

I wouldn't know where to begin understanding this -- and I've tried wetting my feet in the past with little success. What I DO know is that, if I can trace out our concept of 'possibility' linguistically, then I can show, I think, that much of this arguing has very little rootedness in reality as it is. It may be interesting theoretically, but it is null and void when it comes to what reality really is.

All I have to do is examine the fundamentals. If fundamentally the notion of possibility is a non-starter, then I do not have to go any deeper. You are free to argue against any of my points though (and I'll listen).
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein

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