Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Does the external world exist?

  1. Jan 22, 2007 #1
    Or is it only a representation? I can't shake the feeling that there can be absolutely nothing said against idealistic solipsism.. it seems that it is here to stay with us until the last observable entity (read: human) is swiped off the face of the planet.

    I've been having a discussion here for some time now and to avoid quoting all of my passages, I would like you to look through it and add/modify anything according to your views on the matter:

    The most convincing "against" argument I've seen so far was this:
    To which I replied:
    What do you guys think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Well it seems inconsistent to say that it is a representation because that would surely undermine your knowledge of what a representation is. How could you then call it a representation?
  4. Jan 22, 2007 #3
    I agree with your`s pretty much.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2007
  5. Jan 22, 2007 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    the discussion is about perception.
    Every experience proves perception doesn't happen without biological physiology. end of (my) discussion.
    PS. biological physiology happens with or without being perceived to have happened. (Proof; diversity of species, fossil records, fossil fuels, moldy bread discovered 1 year after expiry date.)
  6. Jan 24, 2007 #5
    Yeah baywax, thats pretty much right.
  7. Jan 25, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well, i try not to believe everything I think, but there you go.

    When Alex askes about "does the external world exist" you have to ask what he means by "external".

    External to what?

    External to an activated neuron? Or external to the molecules that compose a neuron? Or external to the atom's that compose the molecules that compose the neuron?

    Which direction is external when you get to the mirco level? Is it when you look further in the direction of the micro or the macro? By what standard starting point is external used?
  8. Jan 26, 2007 #7
    Im pretty sure hes talking about external to the earth and stuff. We`ll never really know a whole lot in this world as far as where we came from and where were going though.
  9. Jan 26, 2007 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Solipsism is indeed unfalsifiable, and this very idea proves that all of ontology is always based upon some hypothesis. Which doesn't make it a useless exercise, but which indicates the relativity of it.
  10. Jan 27, 2007 #9

    How can the universe be a representation, if you already doubt the existence of the universe?

    A representation is a meaningless thing, if it does not represent something.
    You can not have a 'representation' on it's own, without it representing something.
  11. Jan 29, 2007 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Generally metaphysicists call the universe a "reflection" of the self. So that, when they say the universe is a "representation" it means the universe represents that particular person who is experiencing the universe. Even other people and events are simply caused by what the self is going through.

    then you have to ask "what is the self". That's when you get the reverse logic where you are a reflection of the universe (like with "as above, so below). If that makes any sense can you please share!?
  12. Jan 30, 2007 #11
    The best way I can say it is reality is in the eye of the beholder.
  13. Jan 31, 2007 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Here are some other people's words to do with reality.

  14. Feb 2, 2007 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    How true do you think this is?

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  15. Feb 25, 2007 #14
    There are a great variety of ideas which are unfalsifiable. They can't be taken serious though.
  16. Feb 25, 2007 #15
    Is solipsim for real?

    If solipsism is the REAL, then everyone is talking to themselves, right?
  17. Feb 25, 2007 #16
    Not everybody, just you. The rest of us don't actually exist. :biggrin:
  18. Feb 25, 2007 #17
    What do we mean with reality, or existence?

    Reality has to do with objective relations, and the acknowledgement that there are things which are apart, seperate and independent of us. To me an apple exist as a seperate reality, I am not the apple, the apple is not me. The apple is a different reality as me, and I am a different reality to the apple.
    I can have the apple as an object (I can eat it, beat it, throw it, cut it, etc.) and the apple can have me as an object (it can fall on my head, etc.), which is to say that objective relations exist between an apple and me.

    This is different as objects of thought, which are dependent of my thought and have no seperate existence outside of my thoughts.

    Perhaps counter-intuitive (or not), but the concept of the universe is just a mental construction (the sum or set of all objective relations), which has no bearing on outside, external reality, since universe can not be objectively related.
    The universe can not have an object independent, apart and outside of it, nor can there be an object that has the universe as an object.
    Objective relations for the universe are not definable.

    So, this is to say, the universe only exist in thought, because we created it.
  19. Feb 26, 2007 #18
    Then who is sending my stock dividends?
  20. Feb 26, 2007 #19
    Maybe this helps explain why there are so many more scientists actually on the payroll than philosophers?
  21. Feb 26, 2007 #20

    (additional filler)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook