15
   

Can we ever really know reality?

 
 
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2014 12:23 pm
All the ways in which humanity has attempted to grasp reality, from the earliest religions to the contemporary views of the natural and social sciences are all tied in some way to the perspective that humans have on existence.Religious worldview’s have been jettisoned for the most part as we have come to embrace rational enquiry and scientific methods in order to understand the nature of existence and ultimately try and ‘pin down’ reality, to understand it as it is. But is not even the latest in science is still tied down to the ways in which we construe the world in order for us to then take the further step and make claims about ‘reality’?

It seems that in order to make a claim or statement about the nature of reality, there must be some presupposition about reality in the first place. The presupposition(s), in the case of science, seems to exert its influence in the way that the particular method is defined and is then used to examine some part of the world. So what seems to be happening is that humans are inevitably constrained by their perspective. From this it may still be possible to arrive at an accurate view of reality.

But what are the implications of the inescapable perspective that humans have on the world when it comes to attempts to know reality?

Does it in fact mean that we can never know reality?
 
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2014 12:41 pm
@ExistentialPotential,
Very Happy
Check out the philosophy annals of A2K. Opinions range from "no", to "don't know" to "reality is just a word used in contextual negotiation".
The seminal reference is of course Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in which he argues we cannot have access to noumena (things in themselves).
More recently, Richard Rorty has dismissed the realism-antirealism debate as futile.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2014 02:48 pm
Just following.
0 Replies
 
ExistentialPotential
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2014 03:32 pm
@fresco,
Cheers Fresco.

I've never read The Critique of Pure Reason, but I am vaguely aware of some of Kant's idea regarding the relationship of our minds to reality, and I've read nothing of Rorty.

My post was mainly motivated by some of what I've been reading regarding the philosophy of social science. From what I've read, and through some academic experience in psychology, the social sciences seem to more or less ignore the fundamental assumptions they make regarding their approach to science. There is sometimes a tendency to fail to recognise when data from a particular study has been interpreted in a particular way.

For example, study on the automaticity of behaviour concluded that most behaviour can be understood as being "driven" involuntarily by the environment, which automatically trigger cognitive representations. It was pointed out however that the presumed "environment-perception-behaviour" sequence was based on an empiricist view of the mind, whereas the data could have equally well been interpreted on the basis that the mind in fact plays a prior and perhaps more fundamental role in automaticity than environmental cues, by shaping our perceptions and forming representations even as perception occurs.

From this example it seems to me that there is always, perhaps especially so in the social sciences, the issue of the constraints of perspectives which limit what can be said to be known about reality. The best we can seem to do therefore, is acknowledge our assumptions and the role they play in interpreting data.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 01:05 am
@ExistentialPotential,
Your last sentence hits the nail on the head.

If you have read Piaget on schemata (or Kuhn on paradigms) you will appreciate that cognitive states ( or socially consensual states) delimit our focus on what we consider as "the world", and those states determine what constitutes "data". Over time,that data can then gradually alter those states, thereby rendering revised views of "the world" and so on....Piaget called this progression "genetic epistemology".

Note the the only agreed function of what we call "science" is its involvement in our confidence to predict and control what we see as "the world", and is historically subject to change, There is no agreement about whether such an activity is about revealing "truth" or "reality" in a fundamental or non-contextual sense. Most scientists, in essence, wisely confine themselves to the practicality of "what works", and ignore the nebulous metaphysics of "what is" (which Rorty rejects as futile).

Reference Texts:
"Arguing about Science" Bird and Ladyman (2012)
"Genetic Epistemology" Piaget (1971)
"The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" Kuhn (1962)
"Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature" Rorty (1979)

PhilipOSopher
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 03:33 am
@fresco,
I've never read Rorty, but I'd be interested to know in what way(s) he rejects metaphysics concerning what is as futile. Could we say then that scientists are more pragmatists in that they avoid questioning (unlike some philosophers) whether there is some kind of reality beyond empirical experience, as ultimately their whole discipline is centred on empirical data and evidence? I'm not sure if that perspective is slightly dismissive and/or dogmatic though, I'd probably need to know Rorty's reasoning first!
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 05:52 am
@PhilipOSopher,
You need to understand the move of philosophers away from analysis per se, to the tools of analysis i.e.language, together with the active role of language in constructing a world rather than representing it. Rorty blames our pre-occuption with the Greek emphasis on the metaphor of "vision" as the unjustified substrate for epistemology. He cites phenomenologists such as Heidegger who drew the focus away from an externally observed independent world to an internalised selective process of construction which he called "caring", mediated by the bounds of social language. Simplistically, there are no " things in themselves" because "thing-hood" depends on "what matters" to an individual within a societal context.

As far as scientists are concerned, you might try substituting mathematics for language in the above for a general idea of the "reality neutral" position.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 09:53 am
@fresco,
We might add that our concern should be with the construction of meaning per se. We do not know a reality "out there", we socially construct (i.e., generate and maintain) our reality "in here"- -and, of course, that dualism reflects our conceptual distinction between objective and subjective phenomena.
BTW, in the U.S. the vision metaphor is reflected most often in our use of "outlook" and "insight".
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 10:07 am
@JLNobody,
Yes. The metaphor is ubiquitous.
Overview.....seeing the point....having a view on....giving an outline....
Vision entails the concept of a subject-object separation.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 11:36 am
Whatever the REALITY actually IS...it IS...despite all the laughable guesses some of the people here will make about it.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 12:12 pm
http://s26.postimg.org/8biat1k8l/stock_illustration_13511233_sheep_cartoon.jpg
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2014 01:03 pm
http://www.irwincorey.org/images/clrpic.jpg
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2014 08:00 pm
@Frank Apisa,
When referring to "reality", I often say ULTIMATE reality. Otherwise we tend to think that "reality" is some kind of specific thing out there that IS apart from the activities by which we conjure the impression and assumption (including "laughable guesses") of its existence.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2014 01:33 am
@JLNobody,
My understanding of the concept of "ultimate reality" is that it is an ineffable state which recognizes the role of what we call "language" in facilitating cognitive processes and social interactions within and between what we call "humans" . That transcendent position therefore allows for the possibility that all we call "life" (which others have said is synonymous with "general cognition" itself) constitutes an inextricable whole, in which segmentation via language is relatively artificial and superficial. That linguistic segmentation ( aka languaging) which equates "existence " with "is-ness" completely fails to reflect the transient functional nature of "is-ness".

The main point about the concept of "ultimate reality" therefore is that "is-ness" cannot be applied to it!
In dialectical terms, it might be described as the synthesis of the thesis "is-ness" with its antithesis "is-not-ness" and that synthesis, is the essence of ineffablity.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2014 06:58 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

When referring to "reality", I often say ULTIMATE reality. Otherwise we tend to think that "reality" is some kind of specific thing out there that IS apart from the activities by which we conjure the impression and assumption (including "laughable guesses") of its existence.


I understand that you do, JL. The picture of Professor Irwin Corey was not intended for you.

I often use ULTIMATE REALITY myself...and I am not discussing human guesses and attempts at describing REALITY here.

In any case, leaving aside the "humans are necessary to reality and so is language" Professor Corey keeps touting...

...the bottom line is: Whatever actually IS...IS. That is the REALITY.

Corey is hung up in that religion of his.

You seem to have eased up a bit on the non-duality lately, so we have no argument. If it becomes an insistence on your part...we probably will discuss it a bit more.
ExistentialPotential
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 06:31 am
@Frank Apisa,
To say that "Whatever actually IS...IS" does not seem to say anything at all. It's essentially tautological right?

It's not at all satisfying to stop at the claim that whatever actually is, is, because in our attempts to talk about these issues, we are hoping that we can come to some kind of meaningful understanding of what is. That there is something is not really saying anything about it.

All you seem to be suggesting is that there is something, and that is the case, but beyond that, it may be impossible to say with certainty anything more about that something. Is that your position?
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 06:52 am
@ExistentialPotential,
ExistentialPotential wrote:

To say that "Whatever actually IS...IS" does not seem to say anything at all. It's essentially tautological right?


Absolutely it is a tautology...but to say it seems to say nothing is incorrect. It says a great deal of importance to attacking the answer to your question, EP.

Quote:
It's not at all satisfying to stop at the claim that whatever actually is, is, because in our attempts to talk about these issues, we are hoping that we can come to some kind of meaningful understanding of what is. That there is something is not really saying anything about it.


Saying that "Whatever IS...IS" is quite different from understanding or being able to describe what IS.

But if one is unwilling to start at "Whatever actually IS...is what IS"...then you are going nowhere. And there are plenty of people here in this forum who have all sorts of disagreement with the statement.


Quote:
All you seem to be suggesting is that there is something, and that is the case, but beyond that, it may be impossible to say with certainty anything more about that something. Is that your position?


With the emphasis I provided your statement, I agree. We are evolving creatures on what MAY be a minor league planet circling a minor league sun in a relatively minor league galaxy...in what MAY be a relatively minor league universe in a megaverse. For us to assume we actually have answers to REALITY (as many here do suggest)...is laughable.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 01:42 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
But if one is unwilling to start at "Whatever actually IS...is what IS"...then you are going nowhere.

Laughing
On the contrary it is obvious to everybody else that your position is the very epitome of "going nowhere" !

Here's an appropriate award.
http://s26.postimg.org/7u1ul5wop/mints.jpg


Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 03:22 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Quote:
But if one is unwilling to start at "Whatever actually IS...is what IS"...then you are going nowhere.

Laughing
On the contrary it is obvious to everybody else that your position is the very epitome of "going nowhere" !


I doubt seriously if that is "obvious"...or even remotely considered...by many...let alone "everyone else."

But since your dreams seem to be almost all you've got...go with them.

0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2014 02:09 pm
@ExistentialPotential,
Is it possible that all you fellas above may be sparring points absolutely semantical
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Can we ever really know reality?
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.05 seconds on 12/07/2021 at 08:33:17