Is visual fact true to a blind person?

Author: Vaarka ,

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  • Vaarka
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    Here's the example, based off a senior in my anthro class who majored in philosophy. My prof asked if him holding a pen was a fact.

    The student replied "Not if you're asking a blind person because they can't see it."

    So what do you guys think? Personally I think it's a fact because it wasn't about whether or not you could see the pen, but if he was holding it, which he was. I'm sure there's a lot that can go into this but yeah that's my tought
  • Vaarka
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    Lmao re-reading this, I did a terrible job wording.

    My professor was holding a pen and asked if him holding a pen was a fact. 
  • keithprosser
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    In recent English 'true to' and 'true for' get used for things that are not truths at  all, but merely beliefs.   I suppose we can pin much of the blame for that on post-modernism!

    You state that the professor was holding a pen at the time - in that case that is the 'fact of the matter'.   As I prefer to use such terms, 'the professor was holding a pen' is the truth (or 'a fact', or 'reality') for the blind person, for you, for me and for everybody else too.   The question of  how we can - or if we can - get to know the professor was holding a pen is a separate issue, and conflating truth with belief is a serious obstacle to resoving it.
  • drafterman
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    --> @Vaarka
    Truths exist independent of any ability to verify that truth. In fact, the ability to verify truths is a major part of epistemology.

    However, some specific truths might be tied to the method of verification. The famous example: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Certain it makes vibrations but sound is specifically vibrations captured by various components in an ear that are transmitted into electrical signals interpreted by a brain. No person, no brain, no sound.

    I could see where we could construct similar statements regarding sight. For example: is a given picture pretty?

    The example in the OP, however? Not at all. Whether or not a pen is held is independent of your ability to visual ascertain that fact. Would this person then conclude that the truth of that statement flips between true and false every time they blink?
  • keithprosser
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    --> @drafterman
    For example: is a given picture pretty?

    I resolve the 'tree in the forest' puzzle by suggesting we try to translate it into Zog, which is a language exacty like English except it doesn't have the word 'sound', so you have to either say 'vibrations in the air' or say 'aural sensation'.   You will soon realise why there are no philosophers in Zogland.

    Rather than a picture, let's think about Lauren Bacall.
    Is/was Lauren Bacall pretty?
    Is/was Lauren Bacall female?

    There's no getting around that there are two sorts of property - subjective (pretty) and objective (female).  The conseqeuence is that question 2 has a right answer and a wrong answer, but question 1 has no answer at all.  If you are tempted to answer it, you would be answering a different question such as 'Do you think/judge Lauren Bacall was pretty'?   'Pretty' is not something you are - it is something you are judged to be.

    Quite often perception matches reality (otherwise there would be no point evolving consciousness), but the two are not identical - many things are perceived but not facts (Prettiness, halucinations etc) and many facts are not perceived (the professors holding a pen by a blind person).   I am not sure where to take things further.




  • Smithereens
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    --> @Vaarka
    it depends if him holding the pen is contingent on someone else's ability to see it. If you're assuming empirical epistemology, then so long as anyone can detect the pen via any means, it can be known that he is holding the pen.

    It's a trick question though because it's conflating ability to know with true justified belief. Something can be the way it is without anyone knowing it in other words.
  • drafterman
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    --> @keithprosser
    Is/was Lauren Bacall pretty?
    If you are tempted to answer it, you would be answering a different question such as 'Do you think/judge Lauren Bacall was pretty'?
    They aren't "different" questions, they are differently worded questions. They are both asking the same thing, just one is more explicit than another. I know that sometimes we like to get tangled up in elementary school perceptions of "fact" and "opinion" but a "fact" is just something that is truth. That truth can be contingent. It can be relative. It can be temporal. It can be subjective. It can be a lot of things but that doesn't make it not a fact.

    Consider motion:

    "Do you know how fast you were going sir?"

    If you said that the question has no answer because the answer depends on the frame of reference... then I'm sure there is a secret check mark on the ticket that adds $50 for such inane responses.

    The point of reference is implicit as it is in the question about Lauren Bacall being pretty.
  • keithprosser
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    --> @drafterman
    If you said that the question has no answer because the answer depends on the frame of reference... then I'm sure there is a secret check mark on the ticket that adds $50 for such inane responses.
    Being nicked by a copper for speeding is no time for philosophical sophistry!   But the possible answers to the policeman's question are 'Yes, I do know my speed' or 'No, I don't know my speed'. 

    The answer 'It depends on the frame of reference' is an answer to the related - but different - question 'What speed were you going, Sir?'.   A question close to 'Do you think LB is pretty' would be 'Do you think you were traveling at a safe speed?'; a question close to was 'Was LB female?' is 'Were you exceeding the speed limit?'.

    I'm all for keeping the distinction between opinion and fact clear (it isn't always in conversational English), but I don't think your way of doing it is right.






  • mustardness
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    --> @drafterman
    No person, no brain, no sound.

    The vibrations{ frequency } of sound still occur, irrespective if there is a human to receive those vibrations of sound ergo to verify those frequencies of sound occurred.

    Humans may not be the only biological or non-biological presence that is affected by the frequency of sound.  If the amplitude of sound frequency is high enough the matter can be moved. 

    And an aside, bats{ air molecules } and dolphins/porpoises/{ water molecules } produce highest frequency of sound{ sonics } and that mathematical frequency is very close to frequency of  a differrent  medium, that of EMRadiation as microwaves.

    Vibration/frequency have cause and effect if not also resultants.


  • drafterman
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    --> @mustardness
    The issue at hand for this particular question is sound as qualia. That is, the perception which is independent of the physical vibrations.
  • mustardness
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    --> @drafterman

    The issue at hand for this particular question is sound as qualia. That is, the perception which is independent of the physical vibrations.

    All qualia ---whatever that may be--- and pereception --whatever that may be--- stem from experience ergo nervous system experience of human.

    Experience precedes qualia and perception.

    Humans have unique ability to conceive and communicate concepts of qualia and perception.

    Other nervous system animals do not.

    Truth exists beyond what you, I  or other perceive to be a question.

    I offered the truth of sound in post #9.  You can accept, ignore or deny  those specified truths as presented.

    You choose ignorance. Why? Ego based mental blockage is my best guess.

    Sound, specific set of vibrations/frequency of air, water or other mediume exists irrespective of any humans exist in Universe.

    Concept of sound ergo invention of words to commuincate that concepts, is whole other issue, and that of course involves metaphysical-1, mind/intellect/concept accessing creatures, ergo humans.

19 days later

  • Mhykiel
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    --> @Vaarka
    I agree. The aptitude to register a truth doesn't negate it's truthfulness.

    I should clarify. Truth being defined as in accordance with reality. The professor holding the pen was in fact doing so. And was in accordance, agreement with the reality that a pen was being held by a professor.

    The ability to register that facet of reality is in my opinion not required to for the statement to be truthful.

    Better arguments can be made philosophically about types of reasoning which discuss the discernment of truthful statements. But alas.. "The snow is white" is a true statement only if the snow is ACTUALLY white.
  • Mhykiel
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    Another question may be.. is it true a pen is held by the professor to person with their back to the professor?

    Again taking the approach that the only truthful statements are those a person can self realize is fraught with disaster, smacks of ego.
  • mustardness
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    --> @Mhykiel
    is it true a pen is held by the professor to person with their back to the professor?

    Three kinds of truth;

    1} absolute,

    2] relative, ---specified, occupied space pen exists for professor and metaphyscial-1, abstract pen exists for the others informed of pens existence

    3} false/lie i.e. a non-truth

    If we conceptually take away the eternally existent, finite, occupied space Universe/God  ---ergo all vibration---, then only one rational, logical common sense conclusion remains, a macro-infinite non-occupied space.

    In big bang scenarios that suggest a finite occupied something Universe, appearing from macro-infinite non-occupied space nothing, the same conclusion is inferred/deduced.

    Finite integrity (>*<) is embraced by infinite lack of integrity ........(>*<)..........




  • Plisken
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    --> @Vaarka
    Verifiable truth is where that term is useful. Since it was in a classroom with multiple witnesses in real time, and the instrument could be examined, you could have determined if he was in fact, holding a pen.