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OT: Reality (was: Re: Atlantean)

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Sunday, January 11, 2004, 13:08
En réponse à Adam Walker :

>My skin just crawls when I hear statements like that. >I sometimes wonder if I'm the only human being who >still believes that objective truth exists. And that >knowing and believing the real truth not just the >convinient or happy truth is important.
And mine crawls as soon as I hear the words "believe" and "objective" together! Believing is purely personal and subjective, and as such cannot be connected to anything objective. "Believing" in "objective reality", just like "believing" in science, is like believing in a hammer: you're believing in a practical tool, nothing else, and as such your belief is meaningless. Also, you seem to overlook one very important thing: the assumption of the existence of something like an objective reality outside of the subject (the ego) has no value, no use whatsoever! Why? Because whatever the fundamental assumption that you would make, it would NOT change HOW you would have to live. Your complain that people who don't subscribe to the hypothesis of an objective reality fail to behave as such is moot, for various reasons: - you don't *know* whether there are actually other people. They may be a hallucination that your mind creates to prove its own thesis by pointing out a "contradiction", - whether there is some thing as an objective reality or not, there *is* such a thing as a *subjective* reality for the ego (the sum of its perceptions). Whether it's based on an objective reality, on a dream, or a hallucination, or we are all jacked in some sort of Matrix, it doesn't change the way we have to behave, because this subjective reality does have an effect on us. When I burn my finger by touching a flame, I feel the pain, and I don't like it, whether the cause of the pain is objectively real or not has nothing to do with it. So I won't touch it next time. The fact that I cannot disconnect me from this pain doesn't mean the flame isn't real (some people can do such a thing). I cannot control hallucinations either after all (or if I can, not consciously at least). In other words, believing in an objective reality, just like believing in an absence of objective reality, is believing in emptiness. It *doesn't* change a single thing in HOW one has to behave (I still have to go to work tomorrow morning, because if I don't show up nor the next days, I will end up being fired, which will bring much discomfort which, whether objectively real or not, I find undesirable). As for me, I don't *believe* in anything. As a scientist, I work with rules that take as assumption the existence of an objective reality, but I don't go as far as believing in it. I just take it as a practical working assumption, which allows me to focus on other matters I find more interesting, like seeing how far this illusion goes :)) . As for the existence of other people beside myself, I also follow the rule of minimum discomfort. If I don't work with the assumption that they exist, they will probably behave as if I insulted them, which will bring me in discomfort. So I take the assumption that they exist. But that's just a practical assumption, not a belief. The point stays that whatever one's belief, one's behaviour won't change from it, and thus the axiom is useless. _____________________________________________________________________________ En réponse à Axiem :
>Axiom 1: >If an event is percieved multiple times, and each time the result is >similar, then we can conclude that the next time the event occurs, the same >result will occur as far as our perception is aware. (The universe is >empirical)
Agreed. But that only gives us a way to treat *subjective* reality (i.e. the sum of our perceptions as a single ego).
>Corrolary: >If more than 50 people percieve the same object, we can conclude that any >person will percieve that object, as well.
Prove me the existence of 50 people.
>Ergo: >Multiple people percieve the same object. In fact, one person will often >percieve the same object as other people.
I completely disagree. I find myself everyday discussing with my friend about objects we perceived completely differently (not a single feature we can agree on, not even general shape or colour). We even sometimes discuss about things one perceived and the other not. How can you prove the existence of *any* object with that? (and it happens to us everyday) And even if the day after my friend points me the object I failed to perceive and I finally perceive it, how can I be sure that it's not an illusion made up inconsciously because I *expected* to see the object from talking to my friend? So this proposition I cannot agree on, and it doesn't prove anything anyway. And here I'm talking about personal experience :) .
> We can assume an objective reality >exists, given that multiple people percieve there to be a reality. As well, >assuming an objective reality exists does not contradict any conclusion we >have come to so far, or anything we know. [minor tangent: in fact, is there >anything that would contradict the idea of there being an objective >reality?]
Actually, it being an empty statement, it doesn't matter. It doesn't bring you anything.
>No, it's not a "proof". But real "proof" is impossible because you always >have to start with something. But I consider it a fairly convincing >argument, since I believe firmly in the idea of empiricism.
Anyone heard of circular arguments? You "believe firmly in the idea of empiricism", so everything you say is obvious for you. I consider empiricism to be a practical hypothesis, but not a convincing argument. Anyone believing in an "objective reality" should really read Descartes's Méditations Métaphysiques, the very basis of dialectic materialism, and realise how Descartes completely *fails* to prove his point (that there is an objective reality outside of ego. To prove it, he had to bring in the existence of God (not the Christian one, nor the one of any religion, but God nonetheless, as a perfect being), existence which he tries to prove but using a very unconvincing argument to me. Besides the cogito (the only assumption that cannot be safely denied - and not that it is "cogito, sum", NOT "cogito, ergo sum". It's a proposition of equivalence, not of consequence -), Descartes doesn't prove anything. The only thing he shows is how easy it is to doubt the existence of an objective reality, and as such how shaky such an assumption is (but also how useless it is. I know I'm repeating myself, but there's a good reason for it: the assumption of the existence or the non-existence of an objective reality is useless, because the behaviour of ego is based not on objective reality but on *subjective* reality, i.e. the sum of ego's perceptions, whatever their nature). ____________________________________________________________________________ En réponse à Axiem :
>No. But I will draw a distinction. We both percieve the same object (that >is, the object itself does not change between perceptions),
How do you know? How do you prove that? This is just another assumption you make without stating it.
> but we may each >have a different perception. There are two aspects I know of that affect the >perception. Firstly is how it is relative to other things. That is, >something seems hotter when you eat it after something cold. It is still the >same temperature, but it seems hotter. As well, relativity with past >experiences. Secondly is semantic. What I semantically classify as the color >"green" someone in Japanese might classify as the color "aoi", which usually >translates to "blue". We are both percieving the same wavelength of light, >we merely assign a different semantic meaning thing to it.
Again, how do you prove that such a thing like light does exist? You only have your own perception for it, as well as your perception of somebody describing you his/her experience (which may be as illusional). Once again, you make an assumption without stating it.
>Again, no. We percieve the same object, but our perceptions are different. I >am making a distinction between the two.
But how do you prove the existence of such a distinction?
>Yes, but just because my perception of my computer might change does not >mean that my computer intrinsicly changed.
How do you know?! You only have your perception for that. How can you prove it's not flawed, in one way or another?
> Again, I make a distinction >between the object percieved, and the perception.
A distinction which has no proof whatsoever. You're dealing with your subjective reality, and as such separating the object from your perception of it is a bold step that nothing justifies.
>See my Axiom 2. Let us assume that we are not dreaming.
Why? What would it change? Nothing really, it wouldn't in *any* way change the way you have to behave, and I doubt it would bring you more happiness (if your happiness really depends on the existence of an objective reality, then I'm sorry for you).
>Let me rephrase: I believe firmly in the idea of empericism that I put >forward in my Axiom 1. If you believe that that has been "buried", then you >deny the computer you're reading this on, which would not have been >developed were it not for the belief that there was some "universal logic" >behind it.
Actually, I fail to understand this argument. The computer is just a practical tool. The rules it was based on are also just that, practical tools, that we (I'm again working with my usual and safe assumptions that there is a "we". But I don't *believe* in it just like I don't *believe* in the computer I'm using. It's a tool, not a way of life :) ) worked out and seem to work so far in our subjective realities. No need to assume an objective reality for that.
>And based on what I know of what various philosophers said, I'm inclined to >think that Kant was the most sensible of them all. Everyone afterwards >decided to bring back out the crack pipe.
I think Kant was the most boring, unimaginative and uninformed philosopher of all times :)) . The sloppiest too.
>Then again, I have a very dismal view on most of academia. Which is odd >considering how that's where I want to end up.
I personally hate to see scientists who "believe" in their assumptions. They treat science as a god, while it should just be a practical tool and nothing else. _____________________________________________________________________________ En réponse à Andreas Johansson :
>But the notion that different people might possibly perceive the same object >differently presupposes the existence of objective reality
Nope, since nothing proves that there *are* any other people besides ego.
> - otherwise we >won't have any the same object,
Could be. See above about my experience and my friend's. Even assuming that we both exist, it is obvious that our subjective realities only partially map together. As such, it is very far-fetched to base the existence of an objective reality from such shaky evidence.
> nor would the non-sameness of our perceptions >have any meaning.
But does it? As for the claim that there are machines that can measure in an independent way pain, or see what the eyes of a subject perceive in an objective way, once again we have a wealth of shaky and unsaid assumptions. You assume the existence of such machines outside of your own perception, i.e. its objective existence, i.e. the existence of an objective reality. And even then, let's take the example of my grandfather. In the last year of his life, he saw things nobody else could see. He saw rabbits hunting, gun in hand. Even if such a perception was not recorded by the eye-recording machine, it did influence my grandfather's behaviour, in the same way as our perceptions do influence us. Who are we to say that it is any less real than our perceptions? If one of those rabbits happened to bit him, I'm pretty sure his pain would have been as real to him as my pain when I touch a flame. What does it say about the reality of its cause? Just because nobody else experienced the same perception, does it allow us to dismiss it as "imaginary" or a "hallucination"? What proves that our own perceptions are better than his? Other people have the same perceptions as us, not as his? So what, we only have *our* perception of those other people to back us up, not much in my opinion. The whole point of this way too long post is to point out how *believing* in the existence of an objective reality brings up a wealth of unsolvable matters that break the very purpose of such an assumption, which anyway doesn't *bring* anything on its own. Not believing in it cannot change anything in our behaviour anyway, since our behaviour is based on our perceptions, whatever their origins (if they have any), not on such an "objective reality". As a tool, in some matters, such an assumption can have its uses, as long as it's taken for what it is: just an assumption, which doesn't bring much on its own anyway if you don't add quite a few other assumptions with it, all unprovable, and none particularly convincing. But that doesn't prevent me from living as I do, because, like most people I guess, I usually don't think about it, and find living nice enough on its own without having to add unnecessary beliefs to it :)) . Christophe Grandsire. You need a straight mind to invent a twisted conlang.


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Amanda Babcock <ababcock@...>