Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

mtraven comments on Excluding the Supernatural - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 September 2008 12:12AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (139)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: mtraven 14 September 2008 01:04:57AM 1 point [-]

poke: There's a knowable "physical" world and an unknowable one beyond it. There's no reason to believe this is the case.

How would you know? Surely there are a great many things that are unknown and unknowable. The idea that it constitutes a separate "world" is your phrase, not mine.

Moreover, if you believed something like this, you would be able to say "I'm an atheist about the physical world" and we could all agree on that and discuss whether talk of "something beyond the physical world" is coherent.

Er, no. You make the mistake of supposing that this "unknowable world" is just like our own but disconnected from it. Again, I return to my analogy to mathematical objects and the world of Platonic ideals that they exist in. There's a non-physical "world", vastly different from the physical world yet intimately involved with it. If the spiritual concepts have any reality at all, it's got to be something like that.

So, if anyone is still interested in talking about this, how about breaking down this idea into two parts:

- standard mathematical Platonism (not a settled truth, but usually considered the default position in philosophy of mathematics) - my tentative analogy between mathematical objects and supernatural entities

Feel free to disagree or question either of these parts, but at least say which one you are disagreeing with.

Comment author: bigjeff5 03 February 2011 11:22:03PM 2 points [-]

How would you know? Surely there are a great many things that are unknown and unknowable. The idea that it constitutes a separate "world" is your phrase, not mine.

I don't know if there is cake in the asteroid belt, and given current technology such a thing is, at this time, unknowable. That doesn't give credence to the absurd notion that there is cake in the asteroid belt. I have no reason to believe this is the case.

The "supernatural" is a whole lot more complicated and a whole lot less discoverable than cake.