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I don't understand the concept of a Brute Fact

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  • I don't understand the concept of a Brute Fact

    I can understand the concept of something being logically necessary, 1+1=2 because the naturel of 1 and of 2 demand it. If 1 and 2 somehow "ceased to exist," then so would 1+1=2. So, then is the existence of 1 and 2 a brute fact. I would see it as arising from the law of identity.

    And from what does this arise, the difference between being and nonbeing?

    But I don't understand what philosophers like Searle mean when say something "just is." The example I saw, "there is snow on Everest" isn't "just true," except in a shorthand way. There is snow on Everest because of the height or the mountain, the water in the air, the freezing point of water, the mechanics of temperature differential, etc.

    Now, obviously this does have a religious angle for me, but I'm also interested in general.
    O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

    A neat video of dead languages!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
    I can understand the concept of something being logically necessary, 1+1=2 because the naturel of 1 and of 2 demand it. If 1 and 2 somehow "ceased to exist," then so would 1+1=2. So, then is the existence of 1 and 2 a brute fact. I would see it as arising from the law of identity.
    I have recently come across the idea of the unarticulated background, namely all the stuff people assume as obvious and in no need of specifying or clarifying, but actually is not necessarily obvious at all.
    "Does a sentence only mean something because it draws on knowledge outside of itself? Take 2 + 2 = 4: is it a tautology? No: it depends on a conception of '+', which is not located within that sentence/equation. Some claim that no matter what your sentence/claim, it always relies on something beyond, a 'background' which cannot be articulated. (An attempt at articulating just pushes things back one level of regress.) ... "

    Comment


    • #3
      But I don't understand what philosophers like Searle mean when say something "just is." The example I saw, "there is snow on Everest" isn't "just true," except in a shorthand way. There is snow on Everest because of the height or the mountain, the water in the air, the freezing point of water, the mechanics of temperature differential, etc.
      Some will only ever converse in shorthand, some will only ever experience brute facts. While perhaps not Everest specifically, the fact that there is snow on the mountain (and not elsewhere) is the commonly experienced brute fact that leads the rigorous to eventually define abstractions like a "freezing point", a "temperature differential", etc.

      Take 2 + 2 = 4: is it a tautology? No: it depends on a conception of '+', which is not located within that sentence/equation. Some claim that no matter what your sentence/claim, it always relies on something beyond, a 'background' which cannot be articulated. (An attempt at articulating just pushes things back one level of regress.)
      It depends on a conception of quantity, which not all minds can comprehend, but that don't make it not true. While we're being pedantic we may as well start saying that those words depend on comprehension of the written English language and its symbolic shorthand for addition and subtraction of quantities.

      Really, though, 2+2=4 is symbolically isomorphic to so many immediately experienced uses of quantity that a near-unanimous majority do in fact trust the mathematical abstraction.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
        I can understand the concept of something being logically necessary, 1+1=2 because the naturel of 1 and of 2 demand it. If 1 and 2 somehow "ceased to exist," then so would 1+1=2. So, then is the existence of 1 and 2 a brute fact. I would see it as arising from the law of identity.

        And from what does this arise, the difference between being and nonbeing?

        But I don't understand what philosophers like Searle mean when say something "just is." The example I saw, "there is snow on Everest" isn't "just true," except in a shorthand way. There is snow on Everest because of the height or the mountain, the water in the air, the freezing point of water, the mechanics of temperature differential, etc.

        Now, obviously this does have a religious angle for me, but I'm also interested in general.
        I personally avoid the concept of a 'Brute' fact, because simply the concepts you describe are simply ultimately a product of the nature of our physical existence and do not in reality need any reasons for being so. The fact that 1+1=2, and 2+2=4 is only a product of our natural intellect to see rational order in our physical existence, and only applies to the number convention we use. 1+1=2 is not necessarily true in all number systems.

        The fact that there is snow on Mount Everest is simply a natural product of the physical nature our planet, and by the way with climate change there may not be as much snow on Mount Everest then there was in the past or now. Given Mars or another planet there will not be any snow on the mountains.

        I agree with a previous poster that this line of thinking is rather pedantic, unless it leads somewhere meaningful. Claims of 'Brute' fact are not necessarily true nor logically necessary in all cases.

        By the way some logical reasoning used by some like Plantinga fail based on similar assumptions.
        Last edited by shunyadragon; 11-24-2014, 08:02 AM.
        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

        go with the flow the river knows . . .

        Frank

        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by David Hayward View Post
          I have recently come across the idea of the unarticulated background, namely all the stuff people assume as obvious and in no need of specifying or clarifying, but actually is not necessarily obvious at all.
          "Does a sentence only mean something because it draws on knowledge outside of itself? Take 2 + 2 = 4: is it a tautology? No: it depends on a conception of '+', which is not located within that sentence/equation. Some claim that no matter what your sentence/claim, it always relies on something beyond, a 'background' which cannot be articulated. (An attempt at articulating just pushes things back one level of regress.) ... "
          Are you suggesting that what is in the articulated background is a brute fact? I don't think that's so (at least not for everything in the unarticulated background).

          I agree, for example, that 2+2=4 is not a tautology. It relies on what number system you're using followed by the concept of addition. But both of these concepts can be traced back to the nature of number and quantity. Is there any coherent system in which A does not equal A?

          That's a really interesting article, though. Thanks for linking to it.
          O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

          A neat video of dead languages!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Epoetker View Post
            Some will only ever converse in shorthand, some will only ever experience brute facts. While perhaps not Everest specifically, the fact that there is snow on the mountain (and not elsewhere) is the commonly experienced brute fact that leads the rigorous to eventually define abstractions like a "freezing point", a "temperature differential", etc.



            It depends on a conception of quantity, which not all minds can comprehend, but that don't make it not true. While we're being pedantic we may as well start saying that those words depend on comprehension of the written English language and its symbolic shorthand for addition and subtraction of quantities.

            Really, though, 2+2=4 is symbolically isomorphic to so many immediately experienced uses of quantity that a near-unanimous majority do in fact trust the mathematical abstraction.
            I'm not really talking about what some people comprehend, but what the logic points to. As it understand it, the basic definition of a brute fact is, "something the existence of which simply cannot be explained, but just is." A physicist can explain why water freezes at a specific temperature and how different temperatures lead to the production of snow.
            O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

            A neat video of dead languages!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by shunyadragon
              I personally avoid the concept of a 'Brute' fact, because simply the concepts you describe are simply ultimately a product of the nature of our physical existence and do not in reality need any reasons for being so.
              So you're using the concept of a brute fact to explain why you don't like the concept of a brute fact?
              Originally posted by shunyadragon
              The fact that there is snow on Mount Everest is simply a natural product of the physical nature our planet, and by the way with climate change there may not be as much snow on Mount Everest then there was in the past or now. Given Mars or another planet there will not be any snow on the mountains.
              I should have specified. "There is snow on Mt. Everest right now relative to my inertial frame."
              Originally posted by shunyadragon
              I agree with a previous poster that this line of thinking is rather pedantic, unless it leads somewhere meaningful. Claims of 'Brute' fact are not necessarily true nor logically necessary in all cases.
              There are atheists who claim that the existence of the universe is a brute fact, thus there need not be a God. I'd say that's a meaningful quandary.
              Originally posted by shunyadragon
              By the way some logical reasoning used by some like Plantinga fail based on similar assumptions.
              How so?
              O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

              A neat video of dead languages!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                So you're using the concept of a brute fact to explain why you don't like the concept of a brute fact?
                No. I have problems defining thing in terms of 'Brute' facts.

                I should have specified. "There is snow on Mt. Everest right now relative to my inertial frame."
                Ok?


                There are atheists who claim that the existence of the universe is a brute fact, thus there need not be a God. I'd say that's a meaningful quandary.
                How so?
                Some people may claim to believe many things. Without some sort of references it is meaningless. Some Theists claim the Creation is a 'Brute' fact, but either view is an anecdotal claim. The basis of science is Methodological Naturalism which simply describes the universe as it naturally is. Atheists assume philosophical Naturalism not based on evidence. Assumptions and anecdotal claims like these could hardly be called 'Brute' fact. As far as 'need,' that is metaphysical question which cannot be answered objectively, therefore hardly a fact, much less a 'Brute' fact
                Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                go with the flow the river knows . . .

                Frank

                I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                  No. I have problems defining thing in terms of 'Brute' facts.
                  But you said that,
                  because simply the concepts you describe are simply ultimately a product of the nature of our physical existence and do not in reality need any reasons for being so.
                  So, you're saying those comments are brute facts because they don't need an explanation.


                  Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                  Ok?
                  The statement is not a brute fact.


                  Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post

                  Some people may claim to believe many things. Without some sort of references it is meaningless. Some Theists claim the Creation is a 'Brute' fact, but either view is an anecdotal claim. The basis of science is Methodological Naturalism which simply describes the universe as it naturally is. Atheists assume philosophical Naturalism not based on evidence. Assumptions and anecdotal claims like these could hardly be called 'Brute' fact. As far as 'need,' that is metaphysical question which cannot be answered objectively, therefore hardly a fact, much less a 'Brute' fact
                  Makes sense.
                  O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

                  A neat video of dead languages!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                    I can understand the concept of something being logically necessary, 1+1=2 because the naturel of 1 and of 2 demand it. If 1 and 2 somehow "ceased to exist," then so would 1+1=2. So, then is the existence of 1 and 2 a brute fact. I would see it as arising from the law of identity.

                    And from what does this arise, the difference between being and nonbeing?

                    But I don't understand what philosophers like Searle mean when say something "just is." The example I saw, "there is snow on Everest" isn't "just true," except in a shorthand way. There is snow on Everest because of the height or the mountain, the water in the air, the freezing point of water, the mechanics of temperature differential, etc.

                    Now, obviously this does have a religious angle for me, but I'm also interested in general.
                    I think you'd be better off leaving numbers out of it, for starters. Perhaps (not knowing your background), it's easier to state that brute facts are essentially a rejection of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. That is, it's a claim that some things have no explanation or cause. God's existence (assuming he does) would be one of those things.

                    We like to ask "why". We naturally seek answers to the question. Eventually, we reach fundamental things to which the question of 'why' has no answer (or no obtainable one). Those fundamental things are brute facts.

                    There's another way of looking at it, though, and this other way is what Searle has in mind. A 'brute fact' to him, as best I can tell, is something that is true objectively. Whether or not there is snow on a mountain is true regardless of my perception. Yes, there are physical explanations that give us a reason for why there is snow, but those explanations, rooted in laws, are fundamentally brute in nature. Even if we grant a creator deity of any kind, we still end up with the fundamental laws of physics in existence. We may never find out 'why' that deity made the laws the way they are, but the laws are such all the same. They "just are".

                    Does that help?
                    I'm not here anymore.

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