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How can we be sure?

 
 
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 01:49 am
If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
According to philosophy, it makes no sound because there is no one to hear it, but according to science, it makes a sound because of the vibrations of the tree hitting the earth (probably a lot more complex, but that is off topic).
My question is, is anything certain? Can we be sure of an outcome merely because it has been done? Or because logic dictates such? Is there any real truth to it, or can that not be decided?
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  4  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 01:56 am
@Raishu-tensho,
That age-old question -- if a tree falls and no one can hear it, does it make a sound? -- is in the same category as the favorite question of some medieval Sophists -- i.e. how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The answer is entirely dependent on one's definition of "sound."

My favorite version of this question is "If a man speaks and there is no woman around to hear it, is he still wrong?"
Cyracuz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 04:58 am
@Raishu-tensho,
A scientist will say that it makes the same vibrations in the air regardless of any ears that might be around.
The philosopher's objection is that it cannot be called sound unless it is heard by someone.
The question was not "if a tree falls etc.... does it make vibrations in the air?" Wink

We can be sure because it is a matter of precise use of language. "Sound" is something our mind makes based on vibrations picked up by our ears, same as light is something the mind makes out of what our eyes see. Without the mind these things are as inseparable from anything else as a drop of water to another in the vast oceans.
rosborne979
 
  5  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 08:53 am
@Raishu-tensho,
Science deals in proof without certainty. Religion deals in certainty without proof.
joefromchicago
 
  4  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 09:04 am
@Raishu-tensho,
Raishu-tensho wrote:

If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Berkeley would say that the tree doesn't even exist.

Raishu-tensho wrote:
According to philosophy, it makes no sound because there is no one to hear it, but according to science, it makes a sound because of the vibrations of the tree hitting the earth (probably a lot more complex, but that is off topic).

No, not quite. According to philosophy, there's no way to tell whether the tree makes a sound.

Raishu-tensho wrote:
My question is, is anything certain? Can we be sure of an outcome merely because it has been done? Or because logic dictates such? Is there any real truth to it, or can that not be decided?

This is just the problem of induction. I suggest you read some Hume.
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 01:03 pm
@Cyracuz,
No, the philosopher is wrong, since sound, is classically defined as a property that needs no observer to exist; in comparison "color" is derived from the reflection of an object illuminated by incident light, yet "color" is itself considered a physiological phenomena. So shining white light onto an object without an observer would not produce a "colored" object.

It all depends on how one sets up the experiment and how one defines things.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 01:04 pm
@Raishu-tensho,
How can we be sure? We can't. Most of us don't bother about that, though.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 01:07 pm
@Raishu-tensho,
By the way, if said tree fell on the edge of the forest, as opposed to the middle of the forest, would that change your expectations?
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 03:46 pm
Given justification requires incompleteness or contingency to another premiss where the function can be established would n´t we ought to conclude that completeness necessarily requires no justification at all ?
A Function is a function is a function...
...regularity's in nature will be fully justified when we stop needing justification...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 04:31 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Not only the set of all sets cannot be justified, but it necessarily requires to not be justifiable at all in order to be...
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 04:51 pm
If a tree falls without anyone with ears and temporal lobes to hear the vibrations given off by the percussion of tree hitting ground, then there is only "half" of the conditions required for "sound". Sound requires both the external conditions of air movement and the neurological process converting vibrations to the EXPERIENCE of sound--sound IS an experience.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 04:56 pm
@JLNobody,
Bishop Berkeley argued that if no one hears the tree fall there would still occur a sound because God hears it. That makes the absence of a subjective experience of "sound" an "objective" fact (because God hears it).
This "proof" for the existence of God is an example of the absurdity and fundamental insecerity of theological proofs.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 05:25 pm
@JLNobody,
Is it ?
Lets change it a little bit then...would n´t the sum of all possibles imply the experience of sound once true before such experience was an actual phenomena in the world ? How could n´t "GOD" to hear the sound of a tree falling ?
(never mind the definition of God being meant otherwise then the sum of all things actual and possible for the purpose in here, we don´t need a personal Christian God for that)
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 05:40 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
...your reply instead should rather be about "God" being incomplete if it was the case that no sound could ever be heard by anyone and yet sound being possible....but that of course would require from you a kind of metaphysical intelligence that some theologians may possess and that you most certainly don´t....
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 05:46 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
I am not particularly adept of any religion I don´t very much care with 90% of the crap they sell because they have to as an majority´s institution...nevertheless with time I have come to appreciate some stuff on the most fundamental levels of what reality may be and that they hint us about in an encrypted and yet interesting way...Theology it is maybe the most sophisticated form of philosophy being also the most obscure and hard to grasp...my problem with God only goes so far as a problem with a personal humanized God, as with, the needless pathetic distinction between creation and creator...it goes no further then that !
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 06:21 pm
@kuvasz,
Quote:
No, the philosopher is wrong, since sound, is classically defined as a property that needs no observer to exist


That makes no sense... How is light different from sound in this context? Without the observer both are just waves in certain frequencies. You argument falls apart if you consider that you need an observer with similar conditions to humans to make a meaningful distinction between light and sound in the first place.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 06:36 pm
@Raishu-tensho,
Raishu-tensho wrote:

How can we be sure?
You can't. Just accept it and move on.
G H
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 07:09 pm
@Raishu-tensho,
Quote:
If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? According to philosophy, it makes no sound because there is no one to hear it, but according to science, it makes a sound because of the vibrations of the tree hitting the earth (probably a lot more complex, but that is off topic).

Well, if you don the Immanuel Kant mask next time at the massive Halloween party over at B-n-R, you surely won't need to sample the LSD at the Retro-Hippie section. Much contemporary paraphrasing of Kant in synopsis below, biased toward only covering what might seem relevant here (appearances):

Material bodies are things exhibited outside themselves, which is the dead giveaway that they are the representations of a cognitive system rather than how they would exist in themselves. Examine any substrate of a body, and the components are still observed, measured, or described outside themselves (how they exist to the observer or the particular symbolic / interpretative process employed).

Human experience is things (that are unknowable as they exist in themselves) being given a place to be empirically real, connected by extrinsic relations. Where the influences of these things are received somehow and conformed to a world-depicting system where unconditioned things otherwise existing by themselves are ironically made dependent upon each other (integrated by transcendental conceptual rules of causation, time, space, relation, quantity, etc.).

You have freedom, because you are a two-aspect entity, one of the partly knowable kind of things in themselves (minds). You have a "phenomenal" aspect that belongs to a deterministic, conditioned natural world where you are embodied, have no free will, and are intersubjectively represented with other human minds (as bodies also). Your "noumenal" aspect belongs to an internal order that has its own laws, separate from the natural side, and thus granting you freedom in decision-making, which always gets converted into the natural order on the other side (sort of disguised as deterministic).

Okay, if you ever start consuming Kant, you now know why you shouldn't add the LSD at the retro-60s display at that party. Or anything else (joining the 27- Club is overrated).
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 07:18 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

How can we be sure? We can't. Most of us don't bother about that, though.

Tape recorder or digital sound recorder wired to a motion sensor. Tree falls. The movement trips the motion sensor. Sound recorded. Proof that when a tree falls in the woods, it does make a sound. This question is finally retired to the Hall of Really Stupid Questions.
JLNobody
 
  0  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2011 08:28 pm
@tsarstepan,
The tape or digital recording of the physical event that produces (the external prerequites for) sound is itself merely an extension of that physical event. It still must be heard to be "sound." Why is that so hard to understand?
 

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