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Is It Possible to Truly Coceive What Is Not?

Hambone
Posts: 18
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7/5/2011 5:27:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Is it possible to think of things that don't or can't exist? It seems that there's a scope for everything you can possibly imagine, but to think of something truly original and untouched by any other human attribute (material, size, color,type, etc) seems nigh on impossible. Think of some object and think of it in terms of complete independence. Can you do it without referring to another object?
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OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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7/5/2011 5:42:24 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 7/5/2011 5:27:54 PM, Hambone wrote:
Is it possible to think of things that don't or can't exist? It seems that there's a scope for everything you can possibly imagine, but to think of something truly original and untouched by any other human attribute (material, size, color,type, etc) seems nigh on impossible. Think of some object and think of it in terms of complete independence. Can you do it without referring to another object?

Obviously it is possible to think of things that don't exist, says Hume (and me): When we think of a golden mountain, we only join two consistent ideas, gold, and mountain, with which we were formerly acquainted. A virtuous horse we can conceive because, from our own feeling, we can conceive virtue; and this we may unite to the figure and shape of a horse, which is an animal familiar to us. In short, all the materials of thinking are derived either from our outward or inward sentiment: the mixture and composition of these belongs alone to the mind and will. Or, to express myself in philosophical language, all our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones.

It would be definitionally impossible to picture a square circle, or to conceive of something that you have no frame of reference to, like if you don't know the meaning of the word. The question posed by Hume later in the chapter is whether you can conceive of something you have never experienced directly that is not just conjoining concepts, but something completely different, like a "missing shade" of blue:

Suppose, therefore, a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly acquainted with colors of all kinds except one particular shade of blue, for instance, which it never has been his fortune to meet with. Let all the different shades of that color, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous color than in any other. Now I ask, whether it be possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular shade, though it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? I believe there are few but will be of opinion that he can: and this may serve as a proof that the simple ideas are not always, in every instance, derived from the correspondent impressions; though this instance is so singular, that it is scarcely worth our observing, and does not merit that for it alone we should alter our general maxim.

My professor had an argument that Hume's concession was not detrimental to his argument, and in several papers I argued a minority view that it's a non-issue in that missing shade could not be conceived despite Hume's assumption that it could. I'll see if I can dig up the paper.
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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7/7/2011 12:58:10 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 7/5/2011 5:27:54 PM, Hambone wrote:
Is it possible to think of things that don't or can't exist? It seems that there's a scope for everything you can possibly imagine, but to think of something truly original and untouched by any other human attribute (material, size, color,type, etc) seems nigh on impossible. Think of some object and think of it in terms of complete independence. Can you do it without referring to another object?

Haha, I was just thinking about non existent things. We can never have any experience with things that don't exist. Even our concept of non existence is still something (even if its only an idea in our mind).

Only things that exist.......errrr exist.
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
Chuz-Life
Posts: 1,789
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7/8/2011 8:57:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 7/5/2011 5:27:54 PM, Hambone wrote:
Is it possible to think of things that don't or can't exist? It seems that there's a scope for everything you can possibly imagine, but to think of something truly original and untouched by any other human attribute (material, size, color,type, etc) seems nigh on impossible. Think of some object and think of it in terms of complete independence. Can you do it without referring to another object?

I'm not a religious person and I absolutely loathe religious debates,... However, Your thread here reminded me of a church song I heard growing up (we were made to go). It's a song that comes to my mind every time I see or hear someone demanding "proof of God."

The specific lyric goes: "You asked me how I know he lives,... HE LIVES! within my heart."

I dunno,.... I just thought it might be worth a mention.
"Sooner or later, the Supreme Court of the Unites States is going to have explain how a 'child in the womb' is a person enough to be recognized as a MURDER victim under our fetal homicide laws but how they are not persons enough to qualify for any other Constitutional protections" ~ Chuz Life

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