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Is our Existence physical?

  1. Aug 28, 2004 #1
    I contend that it is not. No proof will be given.

    I would however like to see some comments that it is.

    What proof do we have that our Existence is physical?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2004 #2
    rely on your God given proception. do you think your existence is physcial?
  4. Aug 28, 2004 #3
    Extreme skepticism

    You have posted a profound and good question. In philosophy an extreme skeptic correctly states that it is impossible to prove that anything exist "outside" of the mind. All we know and all that we ever will know has been expereinced from inside our minds. All scientific experiments have to, at some point be interpreted by a mind(s). On the other hand, this philosophical point of view does not prove idealism or that nothing exist outside of the mind. The fact that we have senses to gather incoming information suggest that something is "out there". In physics the paradox of Shroedinger's Cat addresses this issue to some extent. We cannot talk about nature without at the same time talk about ourselves. Quantum mechanics also shows us that there is universal wholeness to the world. At the subatomic level, current quantum theory does not show us any fundamental building block in nature but only waves of probability. Reductionism has proved very valuable in learning the properties of nature but it has it's limitation in that we cannot keep cutting the universe up into smaller and smaller pieces since this is a form of infinite regression. Furthermore, current scientific theoreis does little addressing the mystery of consciousness. Physicist Victor Mansfield addresses this very issue of science lacking in explaining consciousness in his new book "Hean and Heart".
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2004
  5. Aug 28, 2004 #4
    For only $29.95 you too can own the secrets of the universe!

    Just send your cash or money order to:


    and the meaning of the physical universe will be revealed!
  6. Aug 29, 2004 #5
    The more I look the less I see.

    A car crashes into a bridge abutment. Is this a physical event?
    On the atomic level ... varification seems quite cloudy.
    In fact - I can't explain the crash other than by conceptual means.
  7. Aug 29, 2004 #6
    I am not sure that I understand your point. Are you contending that you have no physical existence, and that you sent an email with no physical existence to people who have no physical existence, with the hope that they will send you replys with no physical existence? What, exactly, do you mean?
  8. Aug 29, 2004 #7
    Well ....... yeah ......... That about sums it up!

    Your Existence can appear to be physical, but what is it really? An examination of your physical reality must lead you to two choices.

    1. Physical reality in a reductionist approach leads to fundamental entities.
    2. Physical reality in a reductionist approach leads you to believe that all parts are infinitely composed. I.E. A quark is composed of parts and those parts are composed of parts ... bla bla bla (ad infinitum).

    I choose number one (Fundamental entities), and an examination of a fundamental entity is the end all as far as parts are concerned. I.E. It is compose of no thing at all. The fundamental entity is one thing of nothing. This means your Existence is no more than geometric entities in a sea of other geometric entities.

    Both choices lead to nothing at all, and last I heard ... nothing is not physical, and last I heard ........ Nothing can only be explained by conceptual means.

    Your Existence is a conceptual ONE.
  9. Aug 31, 2004 #8
    My Theory on the subject


    If I write a book then in theory at least I am it's author.

    Since I do not know if the book will ever be read, the readers

    if there are such are at best theoretical readers. If these

    theoretical readers should ponder me, whom they do not know and

    for whom they accept the publishers theory that I am indeed the

    author of said theoretical book they (if they are bright young

    students of theory) realize that at best I am only the theoretical

    author of said theoretical book. If I as the theoretical author

    of this theoretical book being (in theory at least) read by some

    theoretical readers am thinking correctly then I will very soon

    realize that my theoretical existence is based (in the theoretical

    sense at least) on the theoretical existance of the theoretical

    senses of some theoretical readers who are in fact reading a highly

    theoretical book theoretically written by an even more highly

    theoretical author. This is in theory enough theoretical information

    to allow me to assume either my theoretical existance or even my

    theoretical non-existance.

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2004
  10. Aug 31, 2004 #9
    I cannot help you, son, with your question until I can figure out what you mean by the term 'Physical'. By this term do you mean:

    1) That which I cannot see with my eyes?
    2) That which I cannot touch and feel with my hands?
    3) That Which I cannot smell with my nose?
    4) That Which I cannot taste with my tongue?
    5) That Which I cannot hear with my ears?
    6) That which I cannot observe with any known scientific instruments?
    7) That without a material body and which does not occupy space and time?

    or simply;

    8) That which a cannot experience in any of all the above possible ways?

    Which one, son?
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2004
  11. Aug 31, 2004 #10
    I'm afraid that Philocrat is correct. This term has to be defined for this discussion to mean anything. This is a common problem in this forum.

    Let me suggests that none of the examples provided by Philocrat be used. I think the proper philosphical distinction for a physical thing is that it "has an objective existence separate from your experience of it."

    It's important to be clear about this because too many people define it differently. Many define physical as if it has something to do with the make-up of a thing i.e. it's made up of particles/waves and therefore means it can be seen, observed(hence philocrats questions). This does nothing but beg the question, what is a particle/wave? And what do we do when we one day observe something that doesn't fit into the category of particle or wave? Would it then be considered non-physical? This makes the distinction not a very meaningful one from a philosophical standpoint. It's much cleaner to define physical as those things that exists separate from their mental conceptions. So, it is presumed (or not in the case of idealism) that the PC I am typing into has a physical existence because it would still be sitting here once I am no longer around to type on it. As opposed to the purple unicorn I dreamt about last night.

    This usage leaves open the debate as to whether anything is physical because there is no way to prove that anything being experienced exists outside of the experience itself. As opposed to the suggestions from Philocrat, in which it is very easy to say that something is physical because the only criteria is "that I can see it". The fact that idealism/materialism has been an open debate for centuries suggests to me that the distinction as is is being used in philosophy is not so simple.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2004
  12. Aug 31, 2004 #11
    I like the idea of a transient universe expanding into a static field of "strings".

    The strings essentially reconfigure themselves to represent each object occupying that space as time moves forward.
  13. Aug 31, 2004 #12
    I do not believe in 'physical' and 'mental', I only believe in 'existence' and 'non-existence'.

    The universe is made up of strings or particles, WE are made up of particles and strings.
    The mental images and thoughts I have stems from interaction between these particles.
    What you are asking is, 'do these particles exist, or are they only inside some other existing mental mind?'

    What you are really saying is 'what exists, and what doesn't?'
    Because we do know that SOMETHING exists, or else we wouldn't be able to observe and think. I think it's 99% certain that there is an universe, made up of particles, and that humans are merely machines made up of these things, rather than being purely mental.

    Which begs the question, what's the difference between a mental reality, like the one we are in, and a physical reality, like we also apparently are in?
    If there is indeed a chance that this is all 'mental', how can we seperate the two since apparently it gives a pretty good illusion that it is, indeed, 'physical'?

    I seperate between 1 and 0. Either something exists, or it doesn't.
    As such, the universe exists, we know this because scientists are exploring it and we ourselves explore it everyday.

    Also, what is of higher propability, the universe and everyone else in your life being inside your head, or everyone in your life actually being outside your head?
    Besides what is this mental world be made up of? What is it made of? Why does it have physical laws? So I say again, how can we seperate between your mental universe, and the physical universe many people believe we are in?
  14. Sep 1, 2004 #13
    Well - It's like this boy! :eek:
  15. Sep 1, 2004 #14
    Would you term a geometric object of nothing as being a physical entity? I would term this as a purely conceptual entity.
  16. Sep 1, 2004 #15
    yes, of course, our existence is physical
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