The Instigator
SirLordOliver
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
MouthWash
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Nothing is certain

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
SirLordOliver
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,780 times Debate No: 24060
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (44)
Votes (4)

 

SirLordOliver

Pro

My basic argument is that it is impossible to prove anything so as to attain complete and utter certainty. As in, "this thing is 100% fact". I contend that absolutely nothing falls under this description as truth is not objective, but subjective in nature, and therefore does not actually exist and is a social construct. This includes all, even the most rigorous sciences and math fields. I would like to spend much time debating someone about this.

I will be short in my opening statement and develop my argument after I see what the opponent has to say to this and what they outline in the first message.
MouthWash

Con

Very well. I contend that it is certain that existence exists.

I feel that all others would agree with me.
Debate Round No. 1
SirLordOliver

Pro


Existence exists. But does it, really?

Let us consider, firstly, the language-game problem. When we use the language 'existence', to what do we refer to? Something that has been described as "the most abstract notion that humans have" by medieval philosopher Duns Scotus. Our language, we take for granted, has a very simple connection to reality. I.E., the naming of a word will formulate a direct correlation and symbolic representation of the ontic thing-in-itself. This is far from true, but most especially for abstract concepts. What does the word "existence" mean? The dictionary defines it as something having 'actual being'. Clearly, it is a term that the authors expect the reader to be able to logically already understand, or, as it were, simply deduce from such a definition. Thus we understand when, asking a 12 year-old to name a list alphabetically, and he slips one up and continues, but in response to us he replies "But I thought that one was?".

Judging by the dictionary's definition, it appears that they are trying to say that 'existence' is being in reality, as actually existing. Existence is not more than a series of phenomenological events which humans have experienced throughout their lives, their history, and thus termed. The identity may be akin, then, to something like A=A. Yet this exists only in a symbolic dimension, having a very questionable relation to reality (the ontic) itself. Allow me to continue this train of thought, our so-called "science" has had immense struggles with this question of language, which is quite surprising to hear of, really. How much human perception penetrates into the so-called "sacred facts" of science is this: in previous times, the concept of sexuality has been explained by the same "scientific method" in completely different ways over history to adapt to the societal order of its time and subjugate women. Indeed, there were changing definitions for the apparently integral concept of gender itself. Let us note that gender, which has been subject to such messy splicing, is decidedly less abstract and obscure than 'existence', being an immediately recognizable binary in real life as per evolutionary measures.

Now you see the immense contentions with even understanding what existence is, as a concept. It surely is an attempt to make a bridge between the symbolic and the real. Yet this bridge is one between two great valleys seperated by a great chasm, from which fog obscures all. I understand existence to be the standard series of phenomenological actions that humans have unto life's end. You perhaps were thinking on Descartes when you set forth your statement.

Although we have absolutely no means of articulating it, let us assume that existence is what I previously just referred to: a series of phenomenologically linked events until the end of life. I must warn you that if you dispute this definition, you are running out of a ditch and into bear-traps because concepts such as the "self" and "consciousness" have been seriously challenged in the 20th century and beyond.

If one were to attempt to prove existence to be a 100% confirmed fact, you must admit that you cannot say that other people certainly exist, only yourself. But let us take this a step further; what defines existence? The brain experiencing things, supposedly. And what constitutes an experience is itself also an intense subject of scrutiny, for it is all we know just as existence is all we know. We do not know the antithesis of either of these, but only assume a void of them which we cannot anyhow imagine. Thus the fallacy of A=A.
But before I go on any further in this tangled web, I await your reply to clear up your position on the properties of existence and the information I have introduced.



MouthWash

Con

I thank my opponent for his reply, and I look forward to a good exchange.

Rebuttal

"Judging by the dictionary's definition, it appears that they are trying to say that 'existence' is being in reality, as actually existing. Existence is not more than a series of phenomenological events which humans have experienced throughout their lives, their history, and thus termed."

I'm not sure what my opponent is trying to insinuate here. You clearly say that existence is defined as "being in reality," then you go on to make the contradictory claim it is what humans experience or sense.

"I must warn you that if you dispute this definition, you are running out of a ditch and into bear-traps because concepts such as the "self" and "consciousness" have been seriously challenged in the 20th century and beyond."

My opponent apparently believes I was attempting to prove existence through pointing out that we exist. I was not. Allow me to give the actual definition of existence: 'having objective reality or being.' [http://www.google.co.il...]

I assume that my opponent was intent on using solipsist or other similar arguments to prove the resolution; but for such illusion itself to exist, there must be existence. Refusal to entertain the question as a valid question is simply either failure of imagination or fear of the question.

I await Pro's counterarguments.
Debate Round No. 2
SirLordOliver

Pro

My response was an attempt to introduce the intricacies of language and to point out the extremely fragile link that words themselves (specifically of abstract concepts such as 'existence) have to actuality.

As to my confusion over the various definitions, I was unsure of your own meaning. Thus, I was running through the various possiblities and chose the strongest concievable definition you might have. However, your definition, you now say, is "having objective reality or being", which is considerably different from what I defined. This makes matters somewhat simpler.

Here I will try to show that the definition that the opponent is using cannot be certainly verified. When we say certain knowledge, we mean that this thing is entirely undoubtable; not a shred of doubt can be formed.

What does existence entail, then? According to the opponent, it is having objective reality or being. In that case, let us assume that tomorrow the opponent woke up to find that his entire life had been a dream. He wakes up on another planet, with differently concieved forms of sciences, matters, etc. This entire dimension is vastly different and he is concieved as a different form of energy and matter. Does that mean that he, the person he currently is, ever 'existed' according to that definition? Surely, a dream cannot be 'objective reality', but whatever it is, it is where he had existence. But let us go even farther and assume that the dreamer had absolutely no connection to the opponent, but instead was just dreaming of this individual's life randomly, as it may happen, and with absolutely 0 link to the other world other than that they were the ones dreaming of it. Thus the property of identity is cancelled out. Let me stress that I am contradicting existence by your definition specifically.

Taking this line of argument further, let us also postulate that the entire world was the dream of some god (as some religions do advocate). Therefore, no objective reality would exist, and you would not exist, and you would be as far from the dreamer as a gnat would be to you.
MouthWash

Con

Pro has ignored my argument and focused on his own definition. If my life were a dream, it would make not the slightest iota of difference, because I was not referring to my own experiences being objectively real themselves, but to something having objective reality. (Note that the definition I gave made no mention of the property of identity.)

"This entire dimension is vastly different and he is concieved as a different form of energy and matter. Does that mean that he, the person he currently is, ever 'existed' according to that definition?"

If I woke up in such a universe as you described, there would still have been reality. It would have to exist for any 'dream' to have occurred in the first place. From this we can infer that something indeed exists, but not necessarily what we percieve to be real. Your argument only makes sense if reality is defined as 'a series of phenomenological events which humans have experienced,' which is the definition you conceded in your last argument.

"Taking this line of argument further, let us also postulate that the entire world was the dream of some god (as some religions do advocate). Therefore, no objective reality would exist, and you would not exist, and you would be as far from the dreamer as a gnat would be to you."

That god would still exist.

I have proven that it is certain that something exists. The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 3
44 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
@Dphect,

Thanks for bringing that up. No one noticed that.
Posted by Dphect 4 years ago
Dphect
The statement "nothing is certain" is in itself contradictory; it implies that it is certain that nothing is certain.
Posted by NickTheGrapist 5 years ago
NickTheGrapist
Can't we be sure that either the contention is true...or it is false?
Posted by NickTheGrapist 5 years ago
NickTheGrapist
"In logic, the law of excluded middle (or the principle of excluded middle) is the third of the so-called three classic laws of thought. It states that for any proposition, either that proposition is true, or its negation is."

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by NickTheGrapist 5 years ago
NickTheGrapist
"For instance, if time is not explicitly specified as part of the propositions A and B, then A may be B at one time, and not at another. A and B may in some cases be made to sound mutually exclusive linguistically even though A may be partly B and partly not B at the same time. However, it is impossible to predicate of the same thing, at the same time, and in the same sense, the absence and the presence of the same fixed quality."

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by Reasonable_Sanity 5 years ago
Reasonable_Sanity
Yeah, I know. You keep saying that everytime I refute your argument. The argument is "Nothing Is Certain". Simple.

As I've pointed out, your argument is lost on the outset in that it self-refutes. However, wanting to engage your dialogue, I went along with you postulating examples in everyday life of things of which I can be certain. You tried to deal with two of the examples head on, but I demonstrated your argument to be unsound. For the remainder of the time, you've been forced to leap into hypothetical, imaginary constructs, which provide nothing useful for discussion, but only demonstrate that in one's imagination, all things are equally plausible. Again, no useful purpose for discussion. I may as well talk about sentient bananas.

What I'll leave you with are three things that are known for certain: 1) existence exists; 2) consciousness exists; 3) identity exists.

All three of these are axiomatic, and any attempt you make to deny any one of them will leave you self-refuting. On that basis, you have no logical argument, nor any argument at all.

You can claim logical systems are fallible, but you will be left with no way to prove that, since you'd have to use the formal system of logic to prove that it's fallible. Again, self-refuting.

Nihilism may make a fun point of view for general discussion, but if it's your worldview, then it's absolutely useless because you are in no position to argue against any other viewpoint. Why? Because your claim will be you can't know anything. If you can't know anything, then on what basis can you argue against anything? You can't. Check and mate.

Best of luck to you. I am not going to contribute to this discussion any further.
Posted by SirLordOliver 5 years ago
SirLordOliver
You are missing the bigger picture. These examples are some of thousands, possibly millions, that illustrate our uncertainty. You are absolutely forced to conclude that you cannot be certain if your senses have at least once deceived you, that is, if you follow your own logic.
Posted by Reasonable_Sanity 5 years ago
Reasonable_Sanity
My contention isn't that your thinking is abstract, I admire abstract thinking. Your thinking, however is purely imaginary and inconceivable. It's on the same level of sentient bananas that steal socks from the dryer. It doesn't offer anything useful, but only allows for the imaginary and arbitrary. Neither of which are sound arguments, but flights of fancy where anything is equally plausible.
Posted by Reasonable_Sanity 5 years ago
Reasonable_Sanity
Oliver, good luck. Another tip is to quit moving the goalposts. You've gone from nothing is certain, to I don't know if somethings are certain, to now, the possibility that we may not be certain. You're all over the place.
Posted by SirLordOliver 5 years ago
SirLordOliver
By using the vacuum example, I was only pointing out that one fallacy was replaced by something else. I make no claims to knowledge of any kind in this debate. I only present the possibility that we can never know anything. When it comes down to it, you believe that my examples and thinking is abstract, not touching or connected to your idea of "reality" at all. You are thinking in narrow ways.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 5 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
SirLordOliverMouthWashTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Are you certain that nothing is certain?
Vote Placed by TheOrator 5 years ago
TheOrator
SirLordOliverMouthWashTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This was actually a pretty hard round to judge. In the end I gave it to the Pro as teh Con dropped some arguments that would then lead to the establishment of a system where nothing could be held as certain.
Vote Placed by K.GKevinGeary 5 years ago
K.GKevinGeary
SirLordOliverMouthWashTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I gave the arguments to the pro for fufiling that nothing can exist. The rebutalls were there by the con and were well but it did not refute the whole argument by the pro. The pro's arguments were more persuasive, existence by the definition of "objective being" was contradicted well in my view.
Vote Placed by OMGJustinBieber 5 years ago
OMGJustinBieber
SirLordOliverMouthWashTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con wasn't able to adequately address Pro's sophistry, but it's understandable given the age difference and and some of the points raised by Con which probably required some philosophy courses to rebut.