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The Concept of Independent Reality in Discussions of Philosophy

 
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Jan, 2012 02:41 pm
@fresco,
As far as I am concerned there IS Reality, whether ultimate and/or local. But our conceptions of it are (largely social cultural) constructions. I am pleased to believe also that Reality is and remains what it is regardless of the limitations of my constructions/interpretations/models of it. That takes a lot of guilt off my shoulders. I would be hesitant to participate in our philosophical discussions if my contributed constructions might be consequential for our lives. My ideological biases are of another order however.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jan, 2012 04:45 am
@Procrustes,
Procrustes wrote:
In my opinion, I do think there is a reality. However I imagine it being like a mule forever chasing that carrot on a string attached to a stick. Maybe that's a bad analogy...

I think it is, because I see no evidence that the mule affects the location of the carrot. Maybe the mules ends up on higher ground where it sees more places than before, with further carrots in them. But that's a very different scenario.

Procrustes wrote:
If that doesn't make any sense I'll use the analogy of Icarus and his attempts to fly. Sooner or later, point of views come crashing back to earth, sometimes...

Is that a good metaphor for going from Galileo's to Einstein's model of relativity? From Newton's to Einstein's model of gravity? Even from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics? I think not. More often than not, old theories are extended rather than crushed.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jan, 2012 04:51 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
It boils down to a question of ultimate closure or open ended modelling.

I don't see how that necessarily follows. It's perfectly possible there be a reality out there, and that our models of it approach it asymptotically without ever reaching it. It also is perfectly possible that there be a reality out there, and that we don't even bother with perfect realism because reality is unworkably complicated. After all, that's what economists do. They know, or at least ought to know, that utility-maximization is not a fact. But it's a useful tool for cutting through the complexities of human psychology, and it yields predictions that are workably close to reality. So economists use it anyway. And they're better off for it.
0 Replies
 
Procrustes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jan, 2012 05:13 am
@Thomas,
You're right, metaphors are crap at describing reality. However, I still maintain there is a reality, it just gets messy when people start to discuss it.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jan, 2012 11:33 am
@wandeljw,
Wandel...thanks. I am excited to be here.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jan, 2012 02:21 pm
@Procrustes,
Right, very messy. Virtually impossible to describe but SO easy to experience --indeed, impossible not to, every second.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jan, 2012 02:21 pm
@Procrustes,
Right, very messy. Virtually impossible to describe but SO easy to experience --indeed, impossible not to, every second.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 07:44 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
Thomas wrote:

Fido wrote:
There is plenty of nonsense, even in the metaphysics of Kant...

Is this supposed to be an attack on Kant or a vindication of nonsense in philosophy? I can't tell from the way you're phrasing this.

Most of the nonsense is in metaphysics, and not in philosophy, per se...
Quote:
Fido wrote:
The fact is, that culture is knowledge, and much of that we accept at face value, as given to us... It is not because anything is reasonable that it is acceptable...

That's a red herring. To realists, reality is reality, whether we accept it or not. From their perspective, it's perfectly sound to suppose that some claims about the world may be universally accepted as true without actually being true. Accordingly, anti-realists cannot refute realists by pointing out what people accept as true. The observation is simply irrelevant to the thesis that anti-realists seek to rebut.
Realism is simply a form of idealism with idealism denied... Put another way, reality is our idea of reality whether we like it or not... They three levels of reality are: Existence, which we cannot conceive of, that is none the less quasi conceived of as a moral form, or a transendent concept, which is no concept at all... Reality is the sum of objective physical forms that we can conceive of, though it also includes all that is beyond our grasp by way of transendent concepts and moral forms, including all within the sphere of human experience... And truth, is all that we think we can verify, including all physical forms and concepts... Realists are those most Naive, in the sense of the word coming from the same root as natural, people in the world; and yet they do not seem ever to be aware that when they say: The world is real whether I conceive of it or not, that they are projecting their conceptions into a time, and a space without reference points, that is, to a point and time without meaning, and so, without reality in which to be real...Life is the ultimate judge of meaning, and for anything to be real it must be possible to conceive of it as a physical form, and so we find ourselves as physical forms animated by a spirit that can only be conceived of as a moral form trying to jduge the reality of reality from a basis of unreality, as life is, a certain meaning without true being... So I hardly think of it as a red herring... The question about reality as posed is a trap... It is never a question of what is reality... Just as with life, it is not a question of being, but of what is the meaning of that being as we perceive it...
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 07:51 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

POINT OF INFORMATION

Quote:
To claim that there are no facts is to state a putative fact

...is a version of Russell's paradox whose "paradoxical status" is based "on naive set theory". (The attempted resolution of the paradox formally involved a revision of set theory) In various discussions of reality I have pointed out that "naive set theory" goes hand in glove with "naive realism".

The etymological view of "fact" as a construction (as in French fait from faire to make) is the non-naive version. Using this point leads to a restatement of the sentence in quotes as follows.
"To claim there are no facts independent of a construction process is to state a tautology"From the point of view of the question at hand; it is easier to state that reality is a certain meaning that without observers, or participants, alive and represented by life, that the meaning of reality which to humanity is the same as the being of reality is no more... Being is not the whole of existence, and what part being is -cannot from our perspective be told; but that existence is some part being, and some part meaning seems obvious, and meaning is always in relation to life, so the concept of reality which is always transendent will never be independent of life and humanity...

0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 07:55 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

fresco wrote:
Your reference to "common usage" is merely an endorsement of naive realism.

So what? Just because you call a position a bad name,"naive", that doesn't mean it's invalid. Indeed, it doesn't even mean you have an argument. And, to repeat, I see no point in a conversation where the meaning of words depends on your whim---or, for that matter, Ernst von Glasfeld's whim, or a journalful of constructivists' whim.
The essential thing to remember about naive anything is that it is a relation to nature which people tend to talk of as though an abstraction though in reality it is one they can never define apart from the inclusion of themselves in it...
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 08:02 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Excellent clarification of Kant. I particularly appreciate your monistic realization that whatever the structure of our innate contribution to making sense of the World it is part of the unity we share with it. Despite the obvious variations between what we refer to as "human reality" and everything else they are facets of a single Reality. For this reason I consider the "subjectivity" of Art to be as epistemologically valid and valuable as is the "objectivity" of Science. My only reservations regarding Kant is his division of the World into "this worldly" phenomena and--from the perspective of human experience--"other worldly" noumena. It is too consistent for my taste with the structure of Christian cosmology (Nietzsche's platonism for the people).I agree with some of your conclusion, and yet without our willingness to define this world by way of conceived phenomena, and transendent noumena we have denied ourselves the ability to apply reason to reality in any sensible fashion along with the ability to talk about it with sense... To have a sense of the unknown that is existence, we must project a shadow of reality onto the darkness of existence, and there the art of science is different from the art of art that resembles more the art of religion in giving us certainty without fact...
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 11:48 am
@Fido,
It seems that part of your quote from my post (where I refer to Nietzsche's platonism for the people), is actually YOUR input not mine. I know it's not me because I don't understand it.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 03:17 pm
@JLNobody,
Let me clarify: your input began AFTER my reference to Nietzsche's reference to "platonism for the people."
More interesting, and I apologize for changing the topic, you referred to "conceived phenomena and transendent noumena". I agree that Kant's noumena is a "transendental" notion, a level of reality that's ABOVE us. But I was tempted to correct your reference to phenomena as something CONCEIVED because I think of phenomena as what is perceived, not conceived. However, I didn't make the "correction" because it suddenly occurred to me that most of our perceptions are immediately interpreted; they are combinations of perception and conception. We CAN have "raw" (as in "raw data"), uninterpreted, or "pre-cognitive" perception (as in meditation and the enjoyment of completely non-representational paintings and music). Indeed, all of our perceptions are originally (for the first nanoseconds of their existence) 'raw', or uninterpreted, but we may not even be aware of them until we interpret them. Isn't that process of interpretation essentially what cultural conditioning is about?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 04:28 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Let me clarify: your input began AFTER my reference to Nietzsche's reference to "platonism for the people."
More interesting, and I apologize for changing the topic, you referred to "conceived phenomena and transendent noumena". I agree that Kant's noumena is a "transendental" notion, a level of reality that's ABOVE us. But I was tempted to correct your reference to phenomena as something CONCEIVED because I think of phenomena as what is perceived, not conceived. However, I didn't make the "correction" because it suddenly occurred to me that most of our perceptions are immediately interpreted; they are combinations of perception and conception. We CAN have "raw" (as in "raw data"), uninterpreted, or "pre-cognitive" perception (as in meditation and the enjoyment of completely non-representational paintings and music). Indeed, all of our perceptions are originally (for the first nanoseconds of their existence) 'raw', or uninterpreted, but we may not even be aware of them until we interpret them. Isn't that process of interpretation essentially what cultural conditioning is about?

Perhaps, as usual, I was too rushed to show much grace; but what you say of phenomena is true, that it meets the level of perception without identification, because if it could be identified it would already be conceived of...
An interpretation of reality, or phenomena is a judgment, and judgment is knowledge if you can believe Kant... When we can say nothing certain of a perception it is out of ignorance, and not knowledge... Many books have been written of God, and perhap nearly as many written of the antigods exist, but at the end of the day there is nothing upon which to judge, and nothing behind the concept such as we have it, of God...
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 05:44 pm
The concept of independent reality is problematic, because reality is a phenomenon of consciousness.
Believing that there is a reality independent of consciousness is a symptom of believing that consciousness only resides in sentient beings. But we know so well that the only place we are truly separate from everything else is in our belief that we are. We know this so well that we forget it. It's so obvious that we would not be here without the sun, without plants and animals to eat, and a whole lot of other things. We are intimately interconnected physically. But "physical" is a phenomenon of consciousness. It is an idea of our minds; a very real idea which all our senses confirm.

Sometimes I like to think of reality as a system in superposition, continuously collapsing into various potential states. Kind of like a pattern of metaphysical ideas based on quantum physics, rather than classical physics. There is a mechanical awareness; it responds to itself. All the universe is like this, and then there are self aware beings. In this context, self awareness is caused by the ability to remember the previous state after progressing to the next. Reality as a wavicle, so to speak. The accumulation of memory of the many definite states the superposition can potentially exist in creates the perception of a continuous reality from a certain perspective, where some things will appear unchanging and others ineffable. We know the definite states, because we remember them, and our remembering invokes them. But we also know the superposition though it is ineffable. It is expressed in all the things we can possibly imagine.
When thinking of reality along these lines, the idea of an independent reality becomes meaningless, since there is nothing to be independent of. Our perception is reality. Reality is awareness. Self-awareness is awareness of awareness.
joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 07:32 pm
The concept that there is no independent reality is problematic, because such a concept cannot explain how people can agree on the basic contours of what they perceive.

If all reality were occurring in our heads, then any agreement between two people as to what they may perceive would be nothing short of a miracle. It would be as if two people, on waking from a deep sleep, both reported experiencing identical dreams. Most would consider such an event to be extraordinary. Yet for the non-realist, it would be just as extraordinary if two people were to walk into the same brick wall. Nevertheless, our experience shows that such a broad consensus is the rule, not the exception, which means either that the miraculous is commonplace or else that there is some thing out there that is acting on the senses of those who can apprehend it in roughly the same manner.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 08:12 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
If all reality were occurring in our heads, then any agreement between two people as to what they may perceive would be nothing short of a miracle.


Yes, if you think of each human as a closed, individual mind. This being the case seems self-evident, but the earth being flat also seemed self-evident once upon a time. But if our minds were closed and individual, wouldn't that make any sort of agreement miraculous? We would have no means of sharing thoughts....
joefromchicago
 
  0  
Reply Mon 9 Jan, 2012 08:24 pm
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:
But if our minds were closed and individual, wouldn't that make any sort of agreement miraculous?

No.

Cyracuz wrote:
We would have no means of sharing thoughts....

Why not?
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 01:10 am
@Cyracuz,
You need to distinguish between "reality as a praxis of living" involving common physiology and language, and "reality as an an abstract concept" as discussed by philosophers. As I have stressed above, the word "reality" is never used in the first case, except where there is discontinuity or disagreement about praxis, at which point negotiation takes place. Shared "thoughts" are equivalent to "common praxis". In the philosophical case we are discussing the hypothetical limits of such "sharing". Such a discussion is about access to a hypothetically independent reference frame. Kant's view is that such access is impossible, and others argue that that reference frame is a myth. Either way,it would make the philosophical quest futile.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 08:17 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

The concept that there is no independent reality is problematic, because such a concept cannot explain how people can agree on the basic contours of what they perceive.

If all reality were occurring in our heads, then any agreement between two people as to what they may perceive would be nothing short of a miracle. It would be as if two people, on waking from a deep sleep, both reported experiencing identical dreams. Most would consider such an event to be extraordinary. Yet for the non-realist, it would be just as extraordinary if two people were to walk into the same brick wall. Nevertheless, our experience shows that such a broad consensus is the rule, not the exception, which means either that the miraculous is commonplace or else that there is some thing out there that is acting on the senses of those who can apprehend it in roughly the same manner.
Sure it can explain agreement, and all the more so since agreement is not complete agreement... We feel alien from all we see in nature... It does not matter how much we are matter and depend upon the material world for our lives... We see ourselves spiritually... If we cannot conceive of self hardly, and materially not at all; how will we ever be able to think of matter as independent of us... Consider, that the notion of a dependent reality is one that has animated religion from the beginning, that we can tune into the rythem of nature and sway it with our wills... Human beings feeling spiritual aloof from nature would have no problem seeing that it is they who give matter meaning which is what we know of being if they could conceive of life without life... People who cannot conceive of life can hardly grasp the implications of death which are, as Schoenhaur said: The world dies with me... He also said: The world is my idea... All of reality is our idea of reality; but the problem is not one of whether reality would exist without witness, but what becomes of us when death robs us and all of reality of meaning...
 

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