Gathering perspectives
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03-04-2014, 12:21 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives
Hello again, Dom. Thanks once more for your perspective.

(03-04-2014 10:11 AM)Dom Wrote:  Of course it's anthropocentric. I am human, I do not know what exists for my dog or an alien or a fly or whatever. That is precisely why I pointed out it was a human view point.
Are you sure you are not confusing the mental model of the universe that some living things have in their brains or equivalent organs, which is built by combining ideas and may differ from brain to brain, with the real universe from which we extract matter and motion, and which is common to all of us?

I can tell you what exists for my dog: the couch on which we're both sitting right now. If it somehow didn't exist for her, she would either be floating above the floor, somehow defying the gravitational attraction that keeps my buttocks stuck to the couch and the couch to the floor, or she'd fall down, which she isn't. How could the sofa not exist for her? However, is she consciously aware of the sofa's existence? Does she have a mental model of the universe in which the couch is just one more notion among many? I don't know.

(03-04-2014 10:11 AM)Dom Wrote:  As far as rocks existing before there was anyone to perceive them - does a tree make a sound when it falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it?
That is a good question! The answer, of course, depends on what you understand by "making a sound" and "hearing it".

If by "making a sound" you mean "causing the air pressure around the tree to change periodically in successive waves of compression and expansion", then yes (presuming there is a gaseous atmosphere around the tree that we may call, generically, air). Part of the motion of the falling tree is propagated to the molecules of air around it, triggering a cascade of air pressure variations. Whether there is anything near capable of extracting any information from that motion is irrelevant, because it is the falling tree what imparts the motion to the molecules of air, nothing else is required.

If by "hearing it" you mean "extracting part of the motion in the molecules of surrounding air through some sort of sensory apparatus, and translating that motion into a signal that an attached brain can interpret as sound" then no, the tree does not make a sound. It certainly causes the air around it to move, but there is nothing there able to extract the notion of sounds from that motion.

So what would you say? Does the falling tree make a sound if there is no one there able to hear it?

But there is some evidence suggesting that the oldest datable rocks may be over 4.3x10^9 years old, while the oldest evidence for some sort of living organism appears to be under 4x10^9 years old. The difference may not seem much (a mere three hundred million years) but it does suggest that there probably was a time, before any living organism existed, when non-living matter existed nevertheless, and I don't find it so far-fetched. After all, matter exists now, why wouldn't it exist then? I don't find it problematic to think of a universe that existed before I came into existence and that will remain existing once my body is completely disintegrated.

However, I don't really know, so please don't take me seriously.

All the best.
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03-04-2014, 12:26 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(03-04-2014 10:35 AM)morondog Wrote:  Reality = all things that exist
But now you don't think of existence in terms of reality? Does something that is real exist? By your definition it must surely?
Using my definition of real, it surely exists, because I have defined reality as the set of all things that exist.

But I don't define existence in terms of reality, so I'm not stuck in an endless loop. In my view, to exist is to occupy a specific volume at a specific distance in a specific direction from a specific reference point. See? I haven't even mentioned reality.

A real object, for example, would be an elephant. Not the abstract notion of an elephant, but the actual grey thing with big nose and big ears. No, not Prince Charles, the other grey thing with big nose and big ears :-) I won't even begin to claim that I know where every existing elephant is, but I understand that each one of them occupies a specific volume at a specific distance in a specific direction from, say, my current location.

A non-real object, on the other hand, would be a unicorn. Now, I don't know every possible form of life in the universe, so I cannot claim with any degree of certainty that unicorns, in general, do not exist. However, all the notions about unicorns that I am aware of point directly or indirectly to some medieval mythology, so I will say with a relatively high degree of confidence that, on this planet, living unicorns do not occupy any specific volume at any specific distance in any specific direction from any thing. They do not exist.

Sure, we can think of them, but notions are not things that are located anywhere either; notions do not exist. Notions occur in our brains with the motion of electrically charged ions (which do exist) across the membranes of our nerve cells (which also exist), but they are not something you could point at and say "Look! There's a notion!". Like words, notions are patterns of change.

(03-04-2014 10:35 AM)morondog Wrote:  I dunno man. Words (and numbers and other human thought-constructs) are... kinda like an engineer's approach to a problem. We can communicate with them up to a point and they're useful for that reason. But their usefulness sharply decreases if *you* want to know *precisely* what *I* am thinking.
The problem I generally find with static, written words is that they often make it very difficult to describe the dynamic subtleties of a universe that is constantly changing. But please don't despair. When words are not enough, we can resort to diagrams, animations, etc.

The main requirement for mutual understanding is a desire for mutual understanding.
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03-04-2014, 01:04 PM (This post was last modified: 03-04-2014 07:58 PM by Dom.)
RE: Gathering perspectives
(03-04-2014 12:21 PM)living thing Wrote:  Hello again, Dom. Thanks once more for your perspective.

Are you sure you are not confusing the mental model of the universe that some living things have in their brains or equivalent organs, which is built by combining ideas and may differ from brain to brain, with the real universe from which we extract matter and motion, and which is common to all of us?

I can tell you what exists for my dog: the couch on which we're both sitting right now. If it somehow didn't exist for her, she would either be floating above the floor, somehow defying the gravitational attraction that keeps my buttocks stuck to the couch and the couch to the floor, or she'd fall down, which she isn't. How could the sofa not exist for her? However, is she consciously aware of the sofa's existence? Does she have a mental model of the universe in which the couch is just one more notion among many? I don't know.

You are standing in front of the couch and you register a blue couch. Your dog stands in front of the couch and registers a couch, owned by you, your wife and kids and himself, recently used while someone ate potato chips and last night someone farted and he knows whodunit too. Smile. Why? Because the dog can't see the color you see, and you can't smell the ownership of an object and many things that recently happened there. So, does the same thing exist for both you and your dog? I say not. You only perceive part of what can be perceived, the dog only perceives part of what can be perceived, and we have absolutely no idea what else can be perceived by some other life form.

So, necessarily everything we see as reality is anthrocentric. And the word "exist" is relative.

The same thing applies to the tree and the rocks. And everything.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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03-04-2014, 05:55 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives
I have a hard enough time believing I'm real, ain't got no time for no silly gods. Tongue

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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04-04-2014, 11:41 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(03-04-2014 01:04 PM)Dom Wrote:  ...
The same thing applies to the tree and the rocks. And everything.
Ok, I think I understand what you mean by existence.

Thanks for your perspective, Dom. It is very valuable.
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04-04-2014, 11:52 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(03-04-2014 05:55 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I have a hard enough time believing I'm real, ain't got no time for no silly gods. Tongue
I don't believe you are absolutely real. If I were to use my own terms, I would describe you as virtually real, whereas gods are absolutely virtual; there is nothing real in them. Although I haven't yet explained what I mean by real and virtual.

But this thread is not about my view, what I am interested in is views other than mine, so can I ask you to please describe what you mean by "real"? When you say you have a hard enough time believing you are real, what is it that you have a hard enough time believing you are? Do you have a hard time believing you are perceivable, like some people view reality and existence? What exactly do you have in mind when you think of yourself as (possibly not) real?

Thanks!
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04-04-2014, 01:24 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(04-04-2014 11:52 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(03-04-2014 05:55 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I have a hard enough time believing I'm real, ain't got no time for no silly gods. Tongue
What exactly do you have in mind when you think of yourself as (possibly not) real?

The only ones who come even close to having access to "reality" are the physicists. The rest of us only have access to a distortion of ... Consider ... something.

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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04-04-2014, 03:30 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(04-04-2014 01:24 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  The only ones who come even close to having access to "reality" are the physicists. The rest of us only have access to a distortion of ... Consider ... something.
Do you reckon?

Great, now there are two notions that I would like you to describe for me, please. One is reality, and the other is "reality". Is "reality" the same as reality? Is it a way to refer to our knowledge about reality? Or is it some mysterious entity with whom only physicists are able to communicate?

But I am inclined to think that you are equipped with sensory organs that are almost exactly the same as the ones you can find in physicists, so you have the same access as they do to many levels of structure in reality. Do you think physicists are some kind of super-humans with the ability to extract information from the motion of matter that is beyond the rest of us mortals?

If only a subset of the human species is equipped with what it takes to understand notions like reality and existence, then maybe we shouldn't be arguing about notions like reality and existence. On the other hand, if we like discussing those and other notions, then it may be worth asking ourselves what the things we say mean to us.

I find it frustrating when a conversation goes on like this:

Person 1: Sound does not exist!
Person 2: What do you mean?
Person 1: I don't know!

Incidentally, the way I view it, sound does not exist. But anyway, if you don't have an opinion about what it means to exist, I will not force you to have one. I thank you for your contribution nevertheless.

Enjoy.
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04-04-2014, 04:20 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives
(04-04-2014 03:30 PM)living thing Wrote:  Do you think physicists are some kind of super-humans with the ability to extract information from the motion of matter that is beyond the rest of us mortals?

Consider

Yes.

It's called education.

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04-04-2014, 04:21 PM (This post was last modified: 04-04-2014 04:36 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Gathering perspectives
(04-04-2014 03:30 PM)living thing Wrote:  But I am inclined to think that you are equipped with sensory organs that are almost exactly the same as the ones you can find in physicists, ...

Our sensors entail distortion. Like by definition and shit. Physicists discount them to the degree they can. They found their limit.

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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