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Reality from the view point of theists

 
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 03:22 pm
@Setanta,
You know, of course, that I agree with Fresco that Reality--at least our "sense" of it, does not and cannot exist independently of human cognition, just as--I'm sure--it cannot do so for other species (and to a lesser degree cultures--the latter is what Fresco refers to as the negotiated/consensual aspect of reality).
My bias (or'mystical' orientation) tells me one thing about Reality: it is inherently INDEPENDENT of human THOGHT about it, but it is also me (and this is the only thought I accept) , Reality is my "True Self"; I am not some little ego-self inside of me.
Regarding your constructive contributions. Aside from your witticisms, which I often enjoy, I appreciate both your phenomenal memory and willingness to work hard on our behalf. Some of your posts could contribute to publishable essays. It is clearly professional quality work. The same is true of Fresco. His level of sophistication suggests that he probably has led graduate seminars on some of our philosophical issues. My only complaint reflects my own laziness. He presents us with very advanced materials (what you referred to as ex cathedra utterances) in abbreviated form. But these are almost always accompanied with references. As such he shows us the deference he would extend to graduate students and fellow professionals. I study some of them but, due to laziness, I often postpone their examination til later.
You both elevate the quality of A2K considerably, and I would gravely regret the loss of either of you.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 04:04 pm
@JLNobody,
Quote:
You know, of course, that I agree with Fresco that Reality--at least our "sense" of it, does not and cannot exist independently of human cognition,


Not being a wise ass in anything that follows...just setting a new path for us to travel for a tiny bit.


Not sure what you meant by, "our sense of it"...but are you actually saying that humans are necessary for REALITY to be?

Was there, in your opinion, a REALITY before human life developed? Was anything independently real...without this human ingredient you and Fresco see as necessary.

Suppose one section of the Milky Way galaxy is, because of the physics involved, completely devoid of all living matter...how would that impact on REALITY there?

Is it "human life" that is required for there to be no REALITY...or is non-human life sufficient for REALITY to exist?

When the Big Bang occurred...was there no REALITY?

Keep in mind that I am not talking about understanding REALITY...or describing REALITY...I am talking about REALITY.

Did nothing exist before humans came on the scene?

fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 04:54 pm
@JLNobody,
Just to clarify, in line with JLN's oblique reference to a concept of a "transcendent reality", Varela's version of the constructivist account points to a vantage point "above" species specific, culture specific or individual reality. At that point there is no longer any separation between self and not-self (internal and external states) nor any "time" within which "normal reality" is brought forth. This is why an atheist such as myself can commune with some aspects of "spirituality" with which enlightened theists may arrive at by a different route.

PS. I've just noticed Frank is now on about the Big Bang. It a pity some of you guys can't get BBC programmes because you might know that even that model is under heavy revisionist attack !.... Plus ca change....
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 05:01 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
My argument does not eliminate an external world, it merely says it has no "reality" in its own right.


I have thought about what you have said and I can see its utility in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. I think that I can see why one would need to think in the terms that you do in order to accomplish a certain task.

What do you call events that no one is around to wittiness, being that you would not call them realities because there was no mind to perceive these events?

Could there be more than just your definition of reality? If not would your understanding of reality be absolute reality?

Is this definition wrong?

In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 05:19 pm
@Frank Apisa,
An interesting set of questions, Frank. I was not talking about Reality in any absolute objective sui generis sense. I was talking about it in "our sense of it". Your's and mine. Your questions suggest that you feel there is a reality independent of your thoughts. I have no idea of what existed before the Big Bang even. I suppose there was something or some condition other than "non-Reality"--what you mean by Reality, whatever was the case. But still, you are talking about something that clearly had no relevance to anything before the emergence of humankind. Your "Reality" is very abstract and hypothetical, and I'm aware that that is not a problem for you. Fine, but be aware that what you are taking for granted is very problematical and interesting to Fresco (and to me as well).
I could say that there is no reality beyond my conceptual horizon, or I can say that there is. I would say that there was a reality before anything we know of could have emerged, humankind, the big bang, taxes, etc. or there would not have been any of the necessary and sufficient antecedent conditions for them to emerge. But that is only my thought. I have a human brain not a god-like one. I cannot imagine anything that I see or think about to exist without the existence of my brain, body, history, and culture. Everything in "my" reality is a function of my existence, nature and behavior.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 05:20 pm
@reasoning logic,
There are no "unwitnessed events". You witness them in your mind's eye !
Use of the word "absolute" is theistic. In theory, levels of reality are infinitely nested and open ended.
Rorty (Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature) convinced me that standard philosophical attempts at a substrate like "existence" are flawed. For me "existence" is always relative. No"thing" can exist without a "thinger".
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 05:23 pm
UK bedtime again ! (I will be off the air until tomorrow night).
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 05:28 pm
@fresco,
I do kind of see what you are saying and I do realize that it require consciousness to observe reality. but you do agree that after you are gone things will continue to happen, you just will no longer be here to consciously observe them?
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 06:06 pm
@JLNobody,
Quote:
I could say that there is no reality beyond my conceptual horizon…


Let’s just take this fragment of a sentence, JL, and take a closer look at it.

Let's say that you could indeed say that...and let's suppose that the thought expressed there happens, by chance, to be the way things really are. Suppose that there is NO REALITY (no objective REALITY) beyond your conceptual horizon.

Now…get that thought completely in mind before going on. I’m actually asking you to go back and read the preamble thoughts again…and reflect on them before reading further:

Okay! Now assuming that is the way things are…

…do you understand that means that THE OBJECTIVE REALITY is that there is NO REALITY beyond your conceptual horizon.

In that scenario…THAT BECOMES THE OBJECTIVE REALITY.

If that is so…no subjective considerations about it can change it. The objective reality is that the REALITY depends upon your conceptual horizon.

That is why I say the concept “there is no objective REALITY’ is definitionally impossible.

Even the situation of “no objective Reality is possible”…IS THE OBJECTIVE REALITY.

But of course, that is a definitionally illogical situation.

Can only go over this so many times. I think Fresco sees the truth in this and cannot reasonably counter it. He is wedded to the argument from authority…and the notion that here in this thread doubt has been thrown on the overall argument is impossible for him even to contemplate.

Think it over, JL…and I suspect you will see that the logic is impeccable. Perhaps you can even master the notion and be able to present it in a more coherent form that I am able.

The notion that there is no objective reality is not only an affront to a casual logical glance…it is, by definition, impossible. It is an absolutely implacable object meeting an absolutely irresistible force; it is God making a rock so heavy He cannot lift it.

Consider it carefully and see where it leads you.
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 06:15 pm
@fresco,
Would it be a fair comparison to say that, "consciousness is to reality, like "something is to nothing?

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  0  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 06:47 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Aren't our own individual realities clouded by our own individual experiences so much that reality will always be objective. I've been having a bit of a silly argument with Setanta on another thread about St. George and whether or not he fought a dragon. Now Setanta is using stuff like historical records and documentation, and stuff like that, and I'm talking folklore.

Now I know Setanta is right, and St. George never even came to England, let alone kill a dragon, but when I go to somewhere like Dragon Hill in Berkshire where legend says St George slew the dragon, I like to suspend belief. For a moment I like to think it really did happen, emotionally to believe it, but intellectually reject it. What I'm saying is that the imaginary world is as much part of our reality as cold hard facts. It could be a novel, a computer game, a soap opera, TV series whatever, it impacts on our reality.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 08:36 pm
@izzythepush,
We all like to do what you term as "suspend belief", Izzy. I prefer to think of it as "indulge in belief"...or "indulge in fantasy." You cannot conceive of how many times I did that when I lived in England...or when I visited Italy. They are both great places to indulge the inner love of fiction and folklore.

I am not sure it ever truly impacts "our reality" or anyone else's reality...but it sure can impact our perceptions of reality and our hopes and wishes for reality.

I suspect however, as I have argued right along, that REALITY is independent of any of those things.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  3  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 10:25 pm
@izzythepush,
Izzy, I really appreciate this post. Your perspective is constructive, making room for literature and art--the soul of human experience. Going beyond "being right" in a debate.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2012 10:56 pm
@JLNobody,
My complaint is that Fresco himself deals in incivility. I have and Frank has offered examples of logical arguments for a reality independent of observation--either that the description of reality has been flawed (the position of Juan Fernandez) or that it is hopelessly simple-minded (the sun as a disc moving across the bowl of the sky). He doesn't answer these objections; rather, he insists upon his vocabulary of discussion, and implicitly (or, very rarely, explicitly) insists that there is no independent objective reality. He does not, however, offer even a logical argument for that point of view, he just offers ex cathedra statements and makes appeals to authority. There is an arrogance in that which would be unforgiveable, were it not so rhetorically feeble. Why should i take his point of view seriously, or describe it in any other terms than silliness or chin music when he can't be bothered to offer a logical underpinning for it; when he hasn't the courtesy to address objections to his position, beyond suggesting that we lack the intelligence to understand his position?
0 Replies
 
otiose
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Mar, 2012 01:18 am
@reasoning logic,
As I understand it, according to some neuroscientists (e.g. the Churchlands) your very emotions - feelings of fear, envy, love and so on - can be consigned to the realm of 'folk myths'. Reality is the physical attributes - neurones firing, neurotransmitters, hormones - and your feelings are mere indications of these realities. I am very concerned about this. It is said that a future likelihood is that the neuroscientist will know more about your emotions and thoughts than you. The 'experts' are taking over!
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Mar, 2012 03:42 am
@JLNobody,
Thank you JL and thank you Frank. The story of St. George and the dragon is one that had an incredible impact in my childhood. I grew up in Kent, and a nearby village would re-enact the story of George and the dragon every May Day. The dragon was a huge papier mache affair carried about by a load of kids, you could see their feet sticking out from underneath.

It terrified me, I was about 3 years old at the time. I had a series of nightmares in which I was St. George and had to fight the dragon. For me the dragon was the monster under the bed, the creature in the closet, the bogieman that scares small children. My mother explained how it was just papier mache, and when I remember it, I don't remember a dragon, I remember a big papier mache thing with feet sticking out from underneath, but I still remember the childhood terror.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Mar, 2012 04:15 am
@JLNobody,
On an even more personal level, I find that a particular imaginary world is almost as important as the real one. I'm a writer, I've had one novel published and I'm writing my second. For a long time it was something I played with, and never really got down to. In 2004 my wife died from breast cancer, and one of the promises I made her was to finish my novel.

In many ways it was a blissful escape, immersing myself in the world of my protagonist helped me escape from the horrors of what was going on in reality. Even now, when writing the sequel, my protagonists life is almost as real as my own, and is very much part of my reality.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Mar, 2012 07:04 am
As I mentioned earlier, this has been a chance to discuss something that seldom if ever comes up during my non-cyber conversations—and for that alone, I am happy it happened. It has been interesting; I've enjoyed it tremendously.

Something Setanta just mentioned about Fresco’s arguments is worth another repeat, although it has been mentioned several times already.

…he just offers ex cathedra statements and makes appeals to authority.

I cannot help but wonder if Fresco would be so anxious to advocate the position he does if the original advocates had not included people like Quine, Wittgenstein, and Rorty—but instead arose from the ruminations of white-clad people with names like Leo, Benedict, Alexander or Pius.

Frankly, the driving force of the thesis (that REALITY itself is contingent upon the agreement of humans) seems more like a proclamation of a pope than the hypotheses of philosophers or scientists. Popes, it seems to me, are more likely than philosophers and scientists to suppose humans are special and god-like…and that REALITY itself is subordinate to human whims.

I suspect if the original advocates of the (interesting) proposal had been a pope or an early Church father, we would not be having this conversation—and even if it had accidentally popped up, people like Fresco would be mocking it rather than be its champion.

I still thank Fresco and the others who feel he was closer to the truth than those of us who opposed his views—just as I thank those who were closer to this other side of the argument.

This was a special conversation, RL…thanks for starting it.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Mar, 2012 09:52 am
@Frank Apisa,
Frank, on the ex cathedra point

I have been here for 10 years and if you examine my posting history you will find that I have not shifted much in position on "reality" and "existence" in that time. I make this point because I had never read Quine, Rorty or Heidegger etc at that time, and now I am just pleased to discover that they have been saying similar things to me ! Very Happy

BTW You could not have a clearer demonstration of an attempt to renogotiate social reality than Setanta's recent diatribe on "civility". I am encouraged to note that the distance you have travelled since the early days has involved a reassessment of response decorum.

I take on board JLN's point that I tend to over-estimate the audience, and I am aware that I do not suffer fools gladly. However, in my defence, I would point out that this is a philosophy thread, one of the major functions of philosophy being to question everyday assumptions. Such questioning is often prompted by what I jokingly call "the big brains" and they anchor their comments in "the literature". Participants on philosophy threads should therefore expect to be familiar with at least some of the literature if they want their contributions to be taken seriously from a philosophical point of view.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Mar, 2012 01:15 pm
JLN, tell me again about civility when he responds by saying he does not suffer fools gladly. He has never offered a logical defense of his position, but he is happy to characterize those who disagree with him as fools. Now there's civility for you.
 

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