Define EXIST

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by RJBeery, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    If I say "bananas exist" what do I mean? I'm exploring the philosophical definition of existence, preferably a rigorous and objective one. I believe it should be something like two objects can claim to exist relative to one another if there are points on their respective timelines which are space-like separated.

  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    What is meant by "space-like separated"?
    Further, are you explaining what it means, or merely when it can be said to be true?
    I.e. Your definition describes when things exist, but not necessarily what it means to exist.
    Or something like that.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    I'll give a definition a go: "A relative state of either direct or indirect causal or acausal interaction."
    The question here is that if something does not interact in any way, can it be said to exist?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    OK that's a start, but I'm looking for current tense (i.e. TO EXIST), and causal or acausal interaction does not require present tense. If a carbon-14 atom decays into a nitrogen-14 atom can they each claim that the other atom "exists" (in present tense)? It appears that they can only assert that the other entity had existed or will exist.

    Somewhat ironically, even though I appreciate what you've offered, my proposed definition is almost the exact opposite. Two events are space-like separated when they "are considered not to occur in each other's future or past." When I claim that a banana exists, for example, I can only make claims about the banana that existed in my past -- the one whose touch and appearance I am currently processing with my brain. We can make presumptions about the continued existence of this banana but they are just that...presumptions.

    Along the same lines, if I walk outside and claim that the Sun exists, I don't really know for sure; I only know that it existed roughly 8 minutes prior to my declaration. Indeed, using this definition, philosophically the only thing we can really definitively claim to be in existence is our mind making the declaration.

    EDIT: I didn't mean to get so philosophical about this, I was really just looking for a general definition. You are correct, Sarkus, that I'm not pondering what it means to exist, but rather "when" things exist (only because present tense of the word requires that we refer to a item/event in spacetime).
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The nature of existence is one of the key topics of philosophy ...

    Uhhh ...
  8. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I tried to clarify to Sarkus that I'm not asking about the philosophical meaning of existence, just a practical and rigorous definition of the word.
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It's not clear how there can be one without the other.
  10. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    OK, how about: I'm looking for a dictionary's version of EXIST rather than a Philosopher's version. The problem is that dictionaries seem to do a poor job as well.

    EXIST (v): have objective reality or being

    I think from a Physics point of view my criteria for space-like separated is rigorous enough; having objective reality is already rolled into the definition of being space-like separated (in other words, if we claim that two events are space-like separated then we have already accepted that they both have objective reality)
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Purely what my approach has evolved or settled down to being:

    Bananas are interpersonal phenomena, not just a revelation that can appear and be felt by Psilocybin Joe alone. Cindy can perceive and interact with bananas. Stan can perceive and interact with bananas. Mr and Mrs Dubenski can perceive and interact with bananas, as billions more can. Bananas can break fragile windows when thrown; dogs may notice and retrieve thrown bananas.

    IOW, bananas inhabit the extrospections of conscious agents, or the external world available to all in the public half of their experiences. A specific, concrete banana-X is intersubjectively accessible. Banana-X is real in the sense of what the classification "real" was originally extracted from: The content of perceptions, of things that "are there" in vision, sound, smell, tactile sensations, etc. "Real" (via whatever varied symbol/word represented the concept in communities throughout history) was not inspired by the nothingness of non-consciousness or a non-manifested, abstract brand of existence. No matter how much that may have flipped around in certain corners since then. A complex description / framework pertaining to what it means for "bananas to exist" might be useful for whatever system or field sports it, but the bottom line is that the objects of such over-technical elaborations still require the evidence of an intellectually mature population actually perceiving / feeling the objects or their influences, to so receive a positive or top-notch ontological status.

    Suggested entities fall short of this interpersonal validation when their visitations or exhibited effects are unreliable or unrepeatable; when they remain forever invisible / unfelt / unmeasured or can only be perceived / felt / measured by Lone Kook or the group-massaged imaginations and testimonies of the few members of Cult Kook. But this "falling short" is not proof / evidence that a green teapot is not orbiting a planet 5 million light-years away in another galaxy; only that: "Don't consume my time with what isn't currently testable, of no importance or interest to me, what is mired in doubt, etc."

    However, there may be necessary, useful, etc, justifications sometimes for assuming indirectly detected / inferred items exist (especially when serving explanatory and predictive purposes) which require mediation by instruments and support from quantitative processes and lawful-like generalizations for "evidence". But this does not grant a hypothesis about the universe actually being a two dimensional hologram the level of confidence that comes from a fully observed tornado or a mushroom cloud wrecking havoc upon a town / city -- or multiple witnesses and sufferers of such beholding the aftermath.
  12. rr6 Banned Banned

    Metaphysical and Physical Exsitence

    Metaphysical and Physical Existence

    Metaphysical-01 existence = mind/intelligence

    Metaphysical-02 existence = non-occupied space

    Metaphysical-03 existence = gravitational spacetime buffer-zone

    Physical-04 existence = integration of fermionic and bosonic as reality/energy.

    A thought exists a metaphysical concept of mind/intelligence and has no mass, weigth, color, temperature etc...

    A thought exists as chemical integration of body/brain/nervous system within context of a biological.

  13. someguy1 Registered Senior Member

    Question: Do fictional characters have existence? Does Captain Ahab exist? Captain Kirk?

    Do mathematical abstractions exist? Does the number 3 exist? Pi? Do vector spaces exist? Topological spaces?

    How about social conventions? Does the law exist? Politics? Those have no physical existence, they're just social agreements. Marriage? Inheritance? The law of property. How can you own a piece of the earth except by social agreement, enforced by law?

    Why do you stop at a red light? Is it something about the wavelength? Or is it merely a social convention backed up by the law, which is also a social convention?

    What about fairy tales? Novels. Poems. Do they exist? What if they describe fictional worlds?

    Does God exist?

    There's a lot more to existence than physical existence.
  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    You are in the Philosophy section, and yes, it is a highly philosophical question, no matter how you want to look at it.
    To have life, and being, to be real, anything that can be touched, seen, smelt, inferred by its effects on other things......all in all, common knowledge I would think.

    Here are a few words of wisdom regarding Philosophy:

    Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English philosopher, mathematician.

    There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.
    Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106-43 BCE) Roman statesman. De Divinatione

    Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
    Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer. (The Devil's Dictionary, 1911)

    Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck.
    Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German Philosopher

    Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.
    Attributed to Richard Feynman (1918-88) U.S. Physicist. Nobel Prize 1965.

    ...philosophy is to science as pornography is to sex.
    Steve Jones

    Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.
    Henry Louis Mencken. (1880-1956). Minority Report, H. L. Mencken's Notebooks. Knopf, 1956.

    Scientists are explorers. Philosophers are tourists.
    Richard Feynman
  15. river

    Interestingly enough

    PHD. Means philosophy doctrate in this or that ology
  16. Emil Valued Senior Member

    We can start from: two material objects cannot occupy the same space in the same time?
    So something exist, if his place can not be occupied by another object?
  17. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    In the context of academic degrees, the term "philosophy" does not refer solely to the field of philosophy, but is used in a broader sense in accordance with its original Greek meaning, which is "love of wisdom". In most of Europe, all fields other than theology, law and medicine were traditionally known as philosophy, and in Germany and elsewhere in Europe the basic faculty of (liberal) arts was known as the faculty of philosophy. The doctorate of philosophy as it exists today thus originated as a doctorate in the liberal arts at the Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität, the buildings of which are today used by the Humboldt University of Berlin, becoming common in large parts of the world in the 20th century.[1] In many countries, the doctorate of philosophy is still awarded only in philosophy

  18. rr6 Banned Banned

    Metaphyiscal( 0 ) Mysticall Wizard Visor Visonary

    ..."wizard (n.) L
    mid-15c., "philosopher, sage," from Middle English wys "wise" (see wise (adj.)) + -ard. Cf. Lithuanian zynyste "magic," zynys "sorcerer," zyne "witch," all from zinoti "to know." The ground sense is perhaps "to know the future." The meaning "one with magical power" did not emerge distinctly until c.1550, the distinction between philosophy and magic being blurred in the Middle Ages. As a slang word meaning "excellent" it is recorded from 1922.".....

    Wizard > wise

    Fuller talks about early mathematicians---those who worked with numbers and the stars and being descended from sea peoples ---of Mesopotamia or elsewhere as wizards, as they could invent and build seeming magical stuff with their magical numbers and calculations.

    One of the stories Fuller likes to tell, is that of 1001 Arabian Nights, wherein Scherazade postpones from death for 1001 days by promising to tell her husband 1001 takes of Arabian Knights.

    ..."One thousand and one is a sphenic number, a pentagonal number, a pentatope number and the first four-digit palindromic number."...(.Wiki)

    Palindromic nunber

    The number zero that represents nothing is based on abacus empty column--- superficially non-occupied space ----and key part of binary numbers ergo all computing.


Share This Page