Unobservable

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An ' (also called impalpable') is an entity whose existence, nature, properties, qualities or relations are not directly observable by humans. In philosophy of science, typical examples of "unobservables" are the force of gravity, causation and beliefs or desires. [1] However, some philosophers (George Berkeley for example) also characterize all objects—trees, tables, other minds, microorganisms, every thing to which humans ascribe as the thing causing their perception—as unobservable.

An entity is anything that claims independent existence, whether as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly.

Perception organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment

Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment.

Philosophy of science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth.

"Unobservables" is a reference similar to Immanuel Kant's distinction between noumena (things-in-themselves, i.e., raw things in their necessarily unknowable state, [2] before they pass through the formalizing apparatus of the senses and the mind in order to become perceived objects) and phenomena (the perceived object). According to Kant, humans can never know noumena; all that humans know is the phenomena. Kant's distinction is similar to John Locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities. Secondary qualities are what humans perceive such as redness, chirping, heat, mustiness or sweetness. Primary qualities would be the actual qualities of the things themselves which give rise to the secondary qualities which humans perceive.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is a central figure in modern philosophy. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ("beforehand"), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

In metaphysics, the noumenon is a posited object or event that exists independently of human sense and/or perception. The term noumenon is generally used when contrasted with, or in relation to, the term phenomenon, which refers to anything that can be apprehended by or is an object of the senses. Modern philosophy has generally been skeptical of the possibility of knowledge independent of the senses, and Immanuel Kant gave this point of view its canonical expression: that the noumenal world may exist, but it is completely unknowable through human sensation. In Kantian philosophy, the unknowable noumenon is often linked to the unknowable "thing-in-itself", although how to characterize the nature of the relationship is a question yet open to some controversy.

Phenomenon philosophical concept

A phenomenon is any thing which manifests itself. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as "things that appear" or "experiences" for a sentient being, or in principle may be so.

The ontological nature and epistemological issues concerning unobservables is a central topic in philosophy of science. The notion that a given unobservable exists is referred to as scientific realism, in contrast to instrumentalism, the notion that unobservables such as atoms are useful models but don't necessarily exist.

Ontology study of the nature of being, becoming, existence or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations

Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

Epistemology A branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.

Scientific realism is the view that the universe described by science is real regardless of how it may be interpreted.

W. V. Metcalf distinguishes three kinds of unobservables. [3] One is the logically unobservable, which involves a contradiction. An example would be a length which is both longer and shorter than a given length. The second is the practically unobservable, that which we can conceive of as observable by the known sense-faculties of man but we are prevented from observing by practical difficulties. The third kind is the physically unobservable, that which can never be observed by any existing sense-faculties of man.

See also

Empiricism theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience

In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasises the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions. However, empiricists may argue that traditions arise due to relations of previous sense experiences.

Logical positivism and logical empiricism, which together formed neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was verificationism, a theory of knowledge which asserted that only statements verifiable through empirical observation are cognitively meaningful. The movement flourished in the 1920s and 1930s in several European centers.

Phenomenology is the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness. As a philosophical movement it was founded in the early years of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl and was later expanded upon by a circle of his followers at the universities of Göttingen and Munich in Germany. It then spread to France, the United States, and elsewhere, often in contexts far removed from Husserl's early work.

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Existence objective persistence independent of ones presence; state of being, existing, or occurring; beinghood

Existence is an ontological, empirically observable property of being, referring to the ability of an entity to, directly or indirectly, interact with the reality.

In philosophy, Idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, Idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to Materialism, Idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.

Metaphysics branch of philosophy

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between possibility and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among the [study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.

Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.

Thomas Reid Scottish philosopher

Thomas Reid was a religiously trained British philosopher, a contemporary of David Hume as well as "Hume's earliest and fiercest critic". He was the founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense and played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1783 he was a joint founder of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Various approaches of Value theory examine how, why, and to what degree humans value things; whether the object or subject of valuing is a person, idea, object, or anything else.

German idealism was a philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It began as a reaction to Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. German idealism was closely linked with both Romanticism and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment.

Instrumentalism is an interpretation within the philosophy of science that holds that a successful scientific theory reveals nothing known either true or false about nature's unobservable objects, properties or processes. According to instrumentalists, scientific theory is merely a tool whereby humans predict observations in a particular domain of nature by formulating laws, which state or summarize regularities, while theories themselves do not reveal supposedly hidden aspects of nature that somehow explain these laws. Initially a novel perspective introduced by Pierre Duhem in 1906, instrumentalism is largely the prevailing theory that underpins the practice of physicists today.

Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects cannot justifiably be said to exist in themselves, but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli situated in time and in space. In particular, some forms of phenomenalism reduce talk about physical objects in the external world to talk about bundles of sense-data.

<i>Critique of Pure Reason</i> 1781 book by Immanuel Kant

The Critique of Pure Reason is a 1781 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in which the author seeks to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. A heavily-revised second edition was published in 1787. Also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition, Kant explains that by a "critique of pure reason" he means not "a critique of books and systems, but of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience" and that he aims to reach a decision about "the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics". The First Critique is often viewed as culminating several centuries of early-modern philosophy, and inaugurating modern philosophy.

Transcendental idealism

Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us—implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that directly comprehends to the things as they are in themselves. The doctrine is most commonly presented as the idea that time and space are just human perceptions; they are not necessarily real concepts, just a medium through which humans internalize the universe.

<i>Critique of Judgment</i> 1790 book by Immanuel Kant

The Critique of Judgment, also translated as the Critique of the Power of Judgment, is a 1790 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Sometimes referred to as the "third critique," the Critique of Judgment follows the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and the Critique of Practical Reason (1788).

"Critique of the Kantian philosophy" is a criticism Arthur Schopenhauer appended to the first volume of his The World as Will and Representation (1818). He wanted to show Immanuel Kant's errors so that Kant's merits would be appreciated and his achievements furthered.

The Latin phrases a priori and a posteriori are philosophical terms popularized by Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. However, in their Latin forms they appear in Latin translations of Euclid's Elements, of about 300 BC, a work widely considered during the early European modern period as the model for precise thinking.

The primary/secondary quality distinction is a conceptual distinction in epistemology and metaphysics, concerning the nature of reality. It is most explicitly articulated by John Locke in his Essay concerning Human Understanding, but earlier thinkers such as Galileo and Descartes made similar distinctions.

Aenesidemus is a German book published anonymously by Professor Gottlob Ernst Schulze of Helmstedt in 1792. Schulze attempted to refute the principles that Karl Leonhard Reinhold established in support of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781). The title is a reference to Aenesidemus, an ancient Greek skeptical philosopher. Its complete title, in English translation, was Aenesidemus or Concerning the Foundations of the Philosophy of the Elements Issued by Professor Reinhold in Jena Together with a Defense of Skepticism against the Pretensions of the Critique of Reason.

Bracketing is a term in the philosophical movement of phenomenology describing the act of suspending judgment about the natural world to instead focus on analysis of experience.

Construct (philosophy) ideal object, whose existence depends upon a subjects mind

A construct in the philosophy of science is an ideal object, where the existence of the thing may be said to depend upon a subject's mind. This contrasts with a real object, where existence does not seem to depend on the existence of a mind.

References

  1. Fodor, Jerry Psychosemantics p. 7
  2. Stephen Palmquist, "The Radical Unknowability of Kant's 'Thing in Itself'", Cogito 3:2 (March 1985), pp.101-115; reprinted as Appendix V of Kant's System of Perspectives (University Press of America, 1993).
  3. Metcalf, W. V. (1940). "The Reality of the Unobservable". Philosophy of Science. 7 (3): 337–341. doi:10.1086/286640. JSTOR   184849.