Thoughts on Facts

What are facts? Can facts exist without being articulated? Are all facts symbolic and conceptual, or actual and concrete? Can we distinguish between inductive facts and deductive facts, and does this impact the confidence or reliability of the truthfulness of the fact? Are facts useful, descriptive, explanatory?

I conceive facts to be representations that index phenomena. These representations may exist as subjective impressions upon the mind, as memories, or symbolic inscriptions upon the world, as words or signs.

Do facts exist independently from the mind? I would argue that there are no facts without a mind to conceive them. The mind provides temporal order: a conceptual structure of experience. Apart from the mind, there are no facts because there is no order to conceive: reality is in chaotic, intemporal flux, void of perspective, and therefore context, which the mind provides. The structure of experience is delineated by indexing phenomena, specifically entities and the relationships existing between them. Facts provide the means of structuring phenomena  by indexing the location of specific points and relationships circumscribed by the perspective afforded by conscious experience.

Facts do not exist apart from a mind to conceive them. A fact may be presented to two minds  and conceived in two different ways. The utility rendered from this fact is not diminished by how it is conceived.

Do facts exist? Do concepts exist? Again, I do not believe propositional knowledge alone is enough to justify the existence of a fact. I believe procedural knowledge (how to) and phenomenal knowledge (what its like/ qualia) is necessary for an adequate representation that resembles its worldly parent.

Consider: “The cat is on the mat.” Is this a fact? Is this sentence stating a fact (telling us this is, in fact, the case), or is it indexing a factual phenomenon? In the former, the sentence is tautological: Ok, “the cat is on the mat”, in the same way that “one is a number”. In the latter, the sentence is referring to a specific state of affairs.

Does it matter whether the sentence is indexing a worldly phenomenon? The article “the” in “the cat is..” is referring to a specific cat, not just any cat.  This is where I would introduce the need to delineate the scope and context of the fact. Are we reading the sentence within a story book? Or are we stating the sentence to arrive at an agreement about the location of the cat?

I would like to make a distinction between formal facts and informal facts, that is: deductive facts and inductive facts. Deductive facts are axiomatically derived from a set of premised truths. Inductive facts are statistically derived from confidence intervals referring to empirical observational.

 

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