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Issues with Reality
Posted: 04 January 2009 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]
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As a first observation, I think it is worthy to note that this is my first post in this site. May this be the first of many. I saw no point in creating an introduction, seeing that I did add information about myself in my profile and “bio”. Anyone can find details about me there.

From Young I have always had a strange inexplicable sense of reality. I would often ask myself, what would happen when I died? Keeping to the realms of modesty, I couldn’t understand how the world could exist without me.Today I believe there is a link between the previous note to Descartes ’ famous quote, “I think, therefore I am.” But I still can’t explain why I felt that the world couldn’t exist without my conscience processing it. Superficially, I think I believed that the world could only exist as long as I perceived something in it. These thoughts, and sensation which I find hard to put in words, later sparked further questions which I intend to introduce in this thread. Has anyone in this community ever come across something similair? Can anyone assimilate with this inexplicable “I can’t imagine the world moving on without me” sensation?

I guess what I’m trying to say (in a nimfy) way is that one can be seen as a character in a world, living a story. This story can represent reality or the world or life. Without a narrator (or a protagonist), the story cannot be told, ie. the story doesn’t not exist and cannot be perceived. It is something along these lines.

Similar questions caught up with me a couple of months ago. As I sat with some friends in lunch, discussing our fears of opening our ACT (Standardized Test results that determine college entrance), I came up with the following issue:

I took the test. The tests are scored by a computer that publishes the results on the Internet and can only be accessed by one who has the username and password of the registered account. Let us say that the computer who scores the test automatically publishes the result on the website, with no need for human contact or interference. This means that nobody working for the ACT or nobody else for that matter knows what my score is. (The computer supposingly knows my score but it won’t tell anyone). So my official marked score doesn’t exist at all!  Since, I’m the only one who has access to my account and my results, nobody else does, and nobody else knows my score, then this means that as long as I don’t access my account and become aware of my score, my score doesn’t exist. To put it in a better way, my scores can be literally anything! (scores range from integers 1 - 36)

This closely resembles the idea of Schrodinger’s Cat Experiment.

A similair and common example is one of the tree and the forest.

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  With an objective belief structure, you might say yes, but you might also say no, depending on your views on quantum physics.  However, if you believed in subjective reality, you have to reject the question entirely.  You’d say that there’s no such thing as a tree outside your awareness.  That tree doesn’t even exist.  Nor does the forest for that matter.  If you are not there to observe it, it doesn’t exist at all. “

Source: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/05/subjective-reality-qa/

That is where I’m trying to get to but I need a better explanation and example.

Finally, I’ve tried to come up with a last and better example. Let’s say you carry a very important document in your pocket, like your ID card. As you’re walking to school it slips out of the pocket and you don’t even notice it. You go to your normal classes, without realizing you’ve lost something important. From your perspective, the problem of “having lost your ID” doesn’t exist, and you’re not even thinking about it. It only does become a problem, the problem of “having lost your ID” only becomes a real and existent problem, when you realize you’ve lost it!!!

I’m sorry for such a poor example, but I’m really struggling here. I do need some clarification and expansion to the concepts I’ve tried to introduce here. I believe that something only exists if you can physically or mentally perceive it. Please comment and expand.

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Posted: 04 January 2009 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t personally believe you need to perceive an object or event for it to actually happen, that’s just a little silly. Just in reference to your ACT example, the computer is programmed to always put out the score a certain way, and follows our perceived reality, so whether or not you view your score, the computer can’t move outside of its own code. Now, in relation to the ID example, whether or not you realize that you have lost your ID isn’t relevant. That realization is nothing physical, but rather a lack of observation. The ID is still lost.

Now, honestly I think one of the biggest holes in subjective reality is when you ask about the creation of the universe. How can it come in to existence as a stable entity for more than an instant without a mind already there to perceive it?

While there are experiments to build a basis for subjective reality, most of them are on the quantum/molecular scale. Electrons, as is commonly known, behave differently under observation, but the scale is so infinitely small compared to our perceived world, that you could not reasonably take these factors in to consideration. We are insanely slow moving masses of particles.

To sum it up: In my opinion, subjective reality is merely a delusion we create based on the self-contained awareness.

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Posted: 04 January 2009 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Solipsism becomes you.

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Posted: 04 January 2009 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hi Georges,

How is reality existing only because of your awareness if, as you’ve already pointed out, things are changing when you’re not paying attention? How is it that the ID was lost if you weren’t aware that it was lost until after the fact?

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Posted: 04 January 2009 06:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Kaizen - 04 January 2009 06:34 PM

Hi Georges,

How is reality existing only because of your awareness if, as you’ve already pointed out, things are changing when you’re not paying attention? How is it that the ID was lost if you weren’t aware that it was lost until after the fact?

Correct. Therefore may we conclude that there are two different realties? (This is not a conclusion, it is a query)

A: My reality. Where the issue doesn’t exist

B: Another reality.

Any ideas what that other reality is?

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Posted: 04 January 2009 06:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Georges Krinker - 04 January 2009 06:40 PM
Kaizen - 04 January 2009 06:34 PM

Hi Georges,

How is reality existing only because of your awareness if, as you’ve already pointed out, things are changing when you’re not paying attention? How is it that the ID was lost if you weren’t aware that it was lost until after the fact?

Correct. Therefore may we conclude that there are two different realties? (This is not a conclusion, it is a query)

A: My reality. Where the issue doesn’t exist

B: Another reality.

Any ideas what that other reality is?

The “Issue Of ID Being Gone” isn’t a physical piece of reality. Merely an observation of your reality made by your brain.

So.. The ID is still gone. It doesn’t matter whether or not you realize it is gone. It’s still gone.

Conclusion: Reality is not subjective.

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Posted: 04 January 2009 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Okay, So let’s assume that the law of Solipsism is in fact true. (Sorry for the terms in bold - I never like to use them)

“reality” - e.g., the sky, air, colors, this computer screen, the people walking around - are just a projection of the mind that experiences it, or: self is the whole of reality; only I exist.

The human mind has no valid ground for believing in the existence of anything but itself. There is no independent existence of an external material world, nothing but the self exists. The things of my environment, including other minds, are merely inventions of my conscience. Conscience is my conscience.

From a personal point of view, the universe for you only exists because you experience it. For you, it exists because YOU exist. If you’re dead (blackness as a poor metaphor for the absence of ANY sensoric input) it will not exist for you anymore; the universe might still be there, but you couldn’t tell, it doesn’t exist for you anymore. Therefore, subjectively, the universe only exists because YOU exist. From there, it is only a small step to realize (or “wrongly assume”, if you’re not a solipsist) that the universe only exists in your mind / imagination.

There is a problem to this arguement and law:

It seems only one person in the world can be a solipsist and be correct in their belief. If two Solipsists ever meet, one of them are wrong in their belief.

However, solipsism might account for the existence of god:

Because if this was true, it is just as true to say that the real Solipsist is God, and that all people are the creation of that God, including the Solipsist himself. The big question i: Where did the Solipsist self come from?

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Posted: 04 January 2009 07:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Solipsism is one of those insidious ideas that can never be definatively disproven but adds nothing useful, IMHO, to our life. It certainly seems like all those people out there are real in their own right, especially when they rub my shoulders or steal my wallet. I suppose they might not be, but that’s not really going to change how I interact with them. At most, it might lead me to see all my itneractions with the world as empty illusions, and that’s not a path to happiness. I understand the idea, and why all the good arguments against it can be dism issed by claiming nothing outside my perceptions is “really real,” but it doesn’t “feel” right, and ultimately what’s the point of looking at things that way?

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Posted: 04 January 2009 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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mckenzievmd - 04 January 2009 07:33 PM

Solipsism is one of those insidious ideas that can never be definatively disproven but adds nothing useful, IMHO, to our life. It certainly seems like all those people out there are real in their own right, especially when they rub my shoulders or steal my wallet. I suppose they might not be, but that’s not really going to change how I interact with them. At most, it might lead me to see all my itneractions with the world as empty illusions, and that’s not a path to happiness. I understand the idea, and why all the good arguments against it can be dism issed by claiming nothing outside my perceptions is “really real,” but it doesn’t “feel” right, and ultimately what’s the point of looking at things that way?

I COMPLETELY AGREE. But I think it allows for a great discussion so I thought I’d bring it up. wink

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Posted: 04 January 2009 07:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’ve been having a similar discussion elsewhere. If there’s no way to know if something else exists outside of what appears to be real, then there’s no use in speculating about it. If we are living in an illusion and there’s no way to perceive outside of the illusion, then the most practical thing to do is live in the illusion as if it were all there is, because from our limited ability to perceive/sense, it is all there is.

Secondly, there’s reason to believe that there’s an objective reality since not all beliefs are equal. Why is it that science consistently produces predictable results when compared to other means of gather information, such as palm reading?

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Posted: 04 January 2009 10:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It appears that there is an objective reality but in my own opinion we really don’t have any proof of this outside of our own collective subjective perceived realities which we can and do compare and agree upon as to that which is “real” at least to most if not all of us.  It is necessary for survival as well as continuing interaction.

Reality as perceived by animals other than humans is quite likely to be somewhat different from that which we can collectively agree because of various heightened or extraordinary senses which humans do not share.  Aside from the often many times heightened senses particularly of smell,  I’m also referring to geomagnetic, electrical impulse, echo location sensory organs and the like, with some rather startling abilities still being discovered within both the plant and animal worlds.

Dreams and halluciniations occur entirely within the mind, at least so we are told, but they too exist as part of your personal subjective reality.  An infant is always the center of his own universe, perhaps we are limited by our senses but even they have been reinforced by techonology to where we now should recognize that what we can “see” is endless.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

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Posted: 05 January 2009 12:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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gray1 - 04 January 2009 10:57 PM

Dreams and halluciniations occur entirely within the mind, at least so we are told, but they too exist as part of your personal subjective reality.  An infant is always the center of his own universe, perhaps we are limited by our senses but even they have been reinforced by techonology to where we now should recognize that what we can “see” is endless.

Just some thoughts.

Aren’t dreams and hallucinations brain activity, or put another way, matter in motion, which is what we consider objective reality to be?

Isn’t seeing a chair in external reality also brain activity, matter in motion, again objective reality?

Isn’t the difference between the two, the cause of the brain activity?

Stephen

[ Edited: 05 January 2009 01:10 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 05 January 2009 03:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I am very interested in it.

One point in favor of solipsism :

We need referents for words that we use. The “world outside human consciousness” was never experienced by us. The sound that a tree makes falling when no one hears it can never be experienced by us, and therefore we cannot really discuss it in language. (Though I somehow just did; no idea how).

One point against solipsism :

You did not always exist, right? Now, if before you had consciousness nothing existed, how exactly did you spring into being? From nothing?

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Posted: 05 January 2009 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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One point against solipsism :

You did not always exist, right? Now, if before you had consciousness nothing existed, how exactly did you spring into being? From nothing?

It’s a great point, which I’ve also pointed out in a previous reply. How does the solipsist spring into existence? Maybe he caused itself. Or maybe he’s always been present and existent. Since nothing existed before him, time can only exist after the solipsist exists?

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Posted: 05 January 2009 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Georges Krinker - 05 January 2009 06:49 AM

One point against solipsism :

You did not always exist, right? Now, if before you had consciousness nothing existed, how exactly did you spring into being? From nothing?

It’s a great point, which I’ve also pointed out in a previous reply. How does the solipsist spring into existence? Maybe he caused itself. Or maybe he’s always been present and existent. Since nothing existed before him, time can only exist after the solipsist exists?

Nah, these aren’t good answers. We are talking about a solipsist human being, not about a solipsist god.

How can something cause itself?
In what way exactly were you present and existent before your birth????

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Posted: 05 January 2009 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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If you are a solipsist, what’s the point of discussing or arguing anything? There’s nobody else to convince.

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