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THE CASE AGAINST REALITY

 
 
Sat 27 Mar, 2021 08:04 am
Cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses. Human perceptions of an independent reality are all illusions. We tend to assume that our perceptions- sights, sounds, textures, tastes- are an accurate portrayal of the real world. When we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion, we realize suddenly that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain's best guess at what the world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we rely on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably exceptable one. The true reality might be forever beyond our grasp, but surely our senses gives us at least an inkling of what it's really like. But some have said after studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, there conclusion is a dramatic one. The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. We have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving the truth to extinction.
Getting at questions about the nature of reality, and disentangling the observer for the observed, is an endeavor that straddles the boundaries of neuroscience and fundamental physics. On one side researchers are trying to understand how the brain obeying nothing more than ordinary laws of physics can give rise to first-person conscious experience. This is the aptly named hard problem. On the other side are quantum physicists, marveling at the strange fact that quantum systems don't see to be definite objects localized in space until we come along to observe them. There are no public objects sitting out there in some pre-existing space. Useful as it is under ordinary circumstances to say that the world exists out there independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld. So while neuroscientists struggle to understand how there can be such a thing as a first-person reality, quantum physicists have to grapple with the mystery of how there can be anything but a first-person reality. Quantum mechanics says that classical objects including brains don't exist. Quantum mechanics is telling us that we have to question the very notion of physical objects sitting in space. This approach is called conscious realism and is the basic structure of consciousness. The experiences of everyday life really is the ultimate nature of reality.
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