Is reality only in the mind?

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  • #26
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Anyone who plays the solipsist card with me will find that two can play at that game.
 
  • #27
Reality resides only in the mind, but existence is eternal and omnipresent even devoid of human consciousness. And I don't mean individualized existence, I mean existence in the scope of the entirety of the universe(s). There will always and only be existence because nothing cannot, and does not exist. Even if everything were to vanish, it wouldn't be of substance because only nothing would ever know it and nothing doesn't exist.
 
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  • #28
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Pragmatism & Buddhism

Let's consider the alternatives:

1. There exists a real, physical world independent of whatever my mind can conceive or experience.
2. There does not exist a real, physical world independent of what my mind experiences.

Let me postulate my position:

3. We cannot ever know whether 1 or 2 (or both) are true.

Now, when somebody comes up with the proof or convincing argument for one or the other, than I will happily withdraw number 3 in favour of whichever theory is more convincing. But, if we accept premise 3, then an additional question needs to be asked:

Which is it better to believe in?

If I believe in 2, that nothing really exists independentally of my mind, then I might start treating other beings in callous and cruel ways. On the other hand, I might gain from believing that nuclear bombs and genocide does not exist.

If I believe in 1, the opposite is true.

At the end of the day, if you don't have enough evidence, it's probably wise to choose the position that makes you a wiser, saner, healthier and better person.

Certain Buddhist schools, interestingly enough, teach something quite similar. The Buddhist position on reality is that of Pratītyasamutpāda (Dependant Arising) - that events and objects do not exist independantly, nor are they involved in direct causation (which, as Hume well knew, is not a logical assumption). This seems to imply model 2. However, the famous Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna taught that truth exists in conventional and ultimate forms, particularly in relation to the ideas of being, causation and identity. The Buddha said as much himself:

'This world is supported by a polarity, that of existence and non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.'

The great thing that Buddhism introduced to philosophy was a sense of pragmatism - one can argue over and over over these issues, but ultimately it's what you do with the ideas that count (perhaps old Marx was right after all).
 
  • #29
I haven't read everyone's answers, but how do we know that others around us exist? To me, the senses can be fooled into thinking that you experience something. Who has the power to do this? God, I think. If you believe that God exists and created the Universe, then he can certainly fool you into believing you are experiencing something. Why would he do that? I don't know that he would, but Humanity is even sure why it's here, either... Any thoughts...
 
  • #30
selfAdjoint
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thethinker1 said:
I haven't read everyone's answers, but how do we know that others around us exist? To me, the senses can be fooled into thinking that you experience something. Who has the power to do this? God, I think. If you believe that God exists and created the Universe, then he can certainly fool you into believing you are experiencing something. Why would he do that? I don't know that he would, but Humanity is even sure why it's here, either... Any thoughts...
This philosophical position, sceptical solipsism, can not be firmly refuted by either reason or empiricism. To accept that an outside world exists beyond your own mind requires a leap of faith.
 
  • #31
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selfAdjoint said:
This philosophical position, sceptical solipsism, can not be firmly refuted by either reason or empiricism. To accept that an outside world exists beyond your own mind requires a leap of faith.
concur 101%. Similarly, to deny that an outside world exists beyond your own mind requires a leap of faith.

When you get down to it, faith (of one kind or another) is our bedrock.

Best Regards
 
  • #32
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moving finger said:
concur 101%. Similarly, to deny that an outside world exists beyond your own mind requires a leap of faith.

When you get down to it, faith (of one kind or another) is our bedrock.

Best Regards
This kind of undercuts your attempt to brand certain ideas (like UR) as "incoherent". Suggestion: Everything we do and think is incoherent if you dig deep enough:surprised
 
  • #33
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selfAdjoint said:
This kind of undercuts your attempt to brand certain ideas (like UR) as "incoherent". Suggestion: Everything we do and think is incoherent if you dig deep enough:surprised
Suggestion? I'm glad it's only a suggestion, because I certainly don't agree. For some of us, coherency and consistency are fundamental parts of philosophy. I would agree that some philosophies are more coherent and/or more consistent than others, but not that all philosophies are incoherent.

To say that everything supervenes on premises is not the same as saying that everything is incoherent - these are two quite different things. Whatever our premises, we must have faith in our premises (otherwise they wouldn't be premises, would they?). But faith is not necessarily incoherent.

Coherency arises when premises and theory hang together, when they form an intelligible, consistent, logical and rational "whole" which can be understood and explained. When premises and theory do not hang together (as in the case of any attempt to explain UR naturalistically), then we end up with incoherency. No amount of faith turns an incoherent model of reality into a coherent one.

An interesting case to examine is the explanation of the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiment. Which of the many alternative ontological interpretations of QM (ie combination of premises and explanatory theory) forms a coherent and consistent whole when compared with the results of this experiment? (Bearing in mind that the Copenhagen Interpretation, or SUAC, is not in fact an ontological interpretation, it is simply a mathematical tool).

Another interesting case is number theory. I have yet to find anyone who can coherently explain to me how the cardinality of the set of integers can be infinite (ie there is an infinite number of integers) whilst at the same time there is no such thing as an infinite integer. Total nonsense (but this is at the root of conventional maths).

Best Regards
 
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  • #34
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selfAdjoint said:
This philosophical position, sceptical solipsism, can not be firmly refuted by either reason or empiricism. To accept that an outside world exists beyond your own mind requires a leap of faith.
I have addressed this issue a number of times in different threads.

The fact that my mind experiences, thinks, is logical proof that my mind, I, exist.

My mind, I, must exist somewhere in some real state or in reality; therefore, there must exist something not in or of my mind but outside of my mind in which my mind exists.

The fact that I can come to know information and/or knowledge that I can personally verify that does not originate within me or my mind proves that there is something that exists outside of my mind independent of me as it existed prior to my knowledge of it.
An example that I gave in another thread:
I have a friend who comes from a town that I never heard of before. He gives me detailed directions to this town and then to his former home there where his mother still lives. I follow his directions and come to this town that has existed for years without my knowledge, awareness or experience. I find his home and meet his mother. She asks me inside to talk about my friend. I see a recent picture of him on a table along with other pictures of him when he was much younger. She tells me things about my friend that I never knew that he later verifies.

This proves that my friend exists and has existed long before I ever knew him as he gave me verifiable information that I never before knew. Information that came from outside of myself. It also verifies that the town and his mother exists completely independent of my mind or my experience.

Could this be an induced illusion by some Cartesian Demon, God or Matrix?
Yes, but that still entails something or someone existing outside of my mind thus ruling out Sceptical Solipsism.
 
  • #35
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Royce said:
The fact that my mind experiences, thinks, is logical proof that my mind, I, exist.
Does your mind actually experience things - or do you just think that you are in possession of a mind that is experiencing things? How could you tell?

Royce said:
This proves that my friend exists and has existed long before I ever knew him as he gave me verifiable information that I never before knew.
It proves nothing of the sort. The entire thing could be an illusion created for "your" benefit.

Royce said:
Could this be an induced illusion by some Cartesian Demon, God or Matrix?
Yes, but that still entails something or someone existing outside of my mind thus ruling out Sceptical Solipsism.
Not if you are the demon, creating illusions for yourself, with nothing else in existence but you and your illusions. There is simply no way that you can rule such a thing out with certainty.

Best Regards
 
  • #36
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moving finger said:
Does your mind actually experience things - or do you just think that you are in possession of a mind that is experiencing things? How could you tell?
Whatever it is that experiences things and/or thinks is what I call my mind, myself or I. Regardless it I actually experience things or think that I experience things. I think; therefore, I am, or I experience things such as I experience me thinking that I experience things; therefore, I am.

I can tell the difference between thinking and experiencing. Thinking is active. Experiencing is passive.

It proves nothing of the sort. The entire thing could be an illusion created for "your" benefit.
Assuming that it is not an illusion (which we both address below) but if nothing else a mind experiment, it certainly does prove that they exist as I received and experienced something that could not have possibly come from within my own mind. Verifiable information or knowledge that comes from out side is proof that there is more to reality than being only in my mind. It proves that something real is outside of my mind and that I can learn it and experience it.

Not if you are the demon, creating illusions for yourself, with nothing else in existence but you and your illusions. There is simply no way that you can rule such a thing out with certainty.

Best Regards
While I often daydream and create illusions for myself, I always know that it is just a dream, an illusion and not real and I also know that I am creating them. Granted, I could be asleep and dreaming all of this and not aware that I am asleep and dreaming, but even if that were the case, I would have to still exist or at least my mind would. I or just my mind has to exist somewhere, in something, a body, a vat or a matrix necessitating that something real exists outside of my mind, something or somewhere in which my mind to exists.
 
  • #37
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Royce said:
Whatever it is that experiences things and/or thinks is what I call my mind, myself or I. Regardless it I actually experience things or think that I experience things. I think; therefore, I am, or I experience things such as I experience me thinking that I experience things; therefore, I am.
Thus we have "there is something which exists", and as a result of this something existing there arises a concept of "I" as well as a concept of "I think that I experience things", and you call this thinking your mind. Fair enough.

Royce said:
I can tell the difference between thinking and experiencing. Thinking is active. Experiencing is passive.
Neither shows that there is any reality outside of your thought that you experience.

Royce said:
Assuming that it is not an illusion (which we both address below) but if nothing else a mind experiment, it certainly does prove that they exist as I received and experienced something that could not have possibly come from within my own mind.
I disagree. What is your mind? How do you know that what you call your mind does not produce these things?

Royce said:
Verifiable information or knowledge that comes from out side is proof that there is more to reality than being only in my mind.
How do you know that it comes from outside? Outside of what?

Royce said:
While I often daydream and create illusions for myself, I always know that it is just a dream, an illusion and not real and I also know that I am creating them.
How do you know that you always know when you are daydreaming? How can you be certain that you are always able to distinguish reality from illusion?

Royce said:
I or just my mind has to exist somewhere, in something, a body, a vat or a matrix necessitating that something real exists outside of my mind, something or somewhere in which my mind to exists.
I don't see why this is necessarily the case. Does the universe (which you assume exists external to yourself) exist "somewhere", "in something else"? If your experience is all there is, if your experience is the universe, then why need there be anything external to it, in which it exists?

Best Regards
 
  • #38
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moving finger said:
Thus we have "there is something which exists", and as a result of this something existing there arises a concept of "I" as well as a concept of "I think that I experience things", and you call this thinking your mind. Fair enough.

I disagree. What is your mind? How do you know that what you call your mind does not produce these things?
If my mind produced these thing then my mind would have to know these things to begin with. If I know that had did not know these things before then that shows that I received information from outside of my mind i.e. there is something else outside of my mind.

How do you know that it comes from outside? Outside of what?
If I or my mind has no prior knowledge of something and learn something from that which is not me or my mind, that is verifiable, it then must come from other than me, outside of me or my mind.

If it exists, it is real.

If there is that which exist and it is real that is not of me or my mind, then reality cannot be wholly nor only in my mind.


How do you know that you always know when you are daydreaming? How can you be certain that you are always able to distinguish reality from illusion?
Because daydreaming is active. I experience myself creating the daydream actively. Dreaming while asleep is a different situation and I may or may not become aware that it is only a dream while I am well into the dream.


I don't see why this is necessarily the case. Does the universe (which you assume exists external to yourself) exist "somewhere", "in something else"? If your experience is all there is, if your experience is the universe, then why need there be anything external to it, in which it exists?

Best Regards
I would then be God or the entire universe and presumably I would know and experience that fact instead of a mere human being who is a part of something else besides me.

This is simply an exercise in logic. Trying logical to prove that sceptical solipsism is logically self-contradictory and therefore logically absurd. In reality I know without doubt or question that someone else other than myself exists in reality. I experience their existence and uniqueness every time I encounter someone else or look or go outside. I know and experience that this is not me nor it of me. It is other than me.
 
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  • #39
To answer this we must first define 'reality' or else the conversation becomes muddied with different views of what reality means. The two common views are:

1) reality is an observer-independent, objective, underlying culmination of all physical properties

2) reality is a subjective, sensory-perceived culmination of all physical properties that we as humans can biologically conceive.


Personally I tend to think 2) is a better definition since there is no way for us to prove or disprove that there is an 'underlying reality' beyond what we can sensorily perceive. Therefore the question has an unattainable answer and in the mind of this writer becomes moot. However, there is tons of room to discuss the reality that we CAN sense and perceive, and so it is semantically accessible to our argumentation and thus worthy for further criticism.
 
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  • #40
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Rade said:
The mind does not create the object [O] of reality (e.g., the candy bar), the mind creates a mental image [O-M] where the object and the mind unite to form a dialectic electro-chemical wavefunction within neurons. Thus exists what can be called a veiled reality of [O] within the mind. In this philosophy (called Objectivism:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivist_philosophy) both [O] and [M] are real, that is they exist as things independent until united via observation (e.g., perception). Thus we can never "know" pure [O] as reality, we can only "know" the veiled reality of the image [O+M], but the pure reality of both [O] and [M] as objects that exists holds true. Now, do not be confused by those that would claim this is an example of naive reality--this is false. Naive reality holds that pure reality is the image [O+M] and that neither [O] nor [M] are real as independent objects, e.g., that the real emerges from the unreal, naive indeed.
how do you know that
1)both [O] and [M] are real
2)but the pure reality of both [O] and [M] as objects that exists holds true.

aside from this person Ayn Rand saying so?
 

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