On the existence of Objective reality

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  • #1
hypnagogue
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This discussion originally arose in the thread "The answer to the 'Does God exist' question from Human Practice." I'm posting it in a new thread because by now it's a pretty deep tangent to the original thread and it's also an issue worth discussing in its own right.

Originally posted by hypnagogue
All knowledge we have about the world, we acquire through our senses. Sensual knowledge is subjective knowledge. Therefore, all of our knowledge is subjective. The fact that subjective knowledge across a wide range of people is consistent merely suggests an underlying, objective existence, but this objective world cannot be verified, for the same reasons that God cannot be verified. Logically, it is simply impossible to know for sure whether or not an objective world of the nature you describe exists or not.

The fact that we can build devices to detect information beyond our senses (infra red radiation for instance) does not bypass this argument. If you make infra red detecting goggles, the goggles detect information invisible to your senses, and then transform it into information your senses can detect. All knowledge necessarily must pass through the subjective filter of the perceiver; all knowledge is subjective.

Originally posted by heusdens
Do you assume then in last instance that no objective world exists or has to exist?

Or in other words, are you arguing here for the position of Solipsism?

Want a rebutal of Solipsism?

I am not arguing for solipsism. Obviously something 'objective' exists in some sense, because different people share the same experiences of an external reality. But what is the nature of this mysterious objective realm? Well, it is inter-subjective in that there are multiple subjective viewpoints of it. Is there something beyond and fundamentally different from these subjective viewpoints? If so, it is by definition impossible for us to come into direct contact with it; by extension, it is impossible for us to verify its existence. We can ascribe our varying subjective viewpoints to something that is fundamentally not subjective in nature (call it the Objective world, with apologies to the "Objective Subjective Dichotomy thread"), but this ascription can never be verified. Objective reality, in the sense that it is commonly used, is as much of a philosophical chimera as God; we can never verify that our assumptions about it are true, and so any argument we make about it runs the risk of being an unsound argument.

Of course, it is also ultimately an assumption that there exist more than one subjective viewpoint, i.e. that I am not the only conscious being (thus contradicting solipsism). But I do not find this assumption as problematic as the assumption of Objective reality. Supposing that other humans are conscious only acknowledges a multiplicity of subjective viewpoints, something which I already know to exist (in myself). Supposing that Objective reality exists posits the existence of something that I can never touch (figuratively and literally) and whose nature differs fundamentally from anything I can possibly know. Furthermore, it introduces the mind-body problem: how can something that is fundamentally not 'mental' or 'conscious' in nature give rise to consciousness?

Now, I am not arguing that Objective reality does not exist. I am merely arguing that, just as with God, we can never know for sure if it exists or not, and furthermore that supposing its existence raises a number of seemingly intractable philosophical problems. Therefore, we should retain at least some measure of doubt as to the existence of Objective reality.
 

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  • #2
FZ+
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Furthermore, it introduces the mind-body problem: how can something that is fundamentally not 'mental' or 'conscious' in nature give rise to consciousness?
(a) You are not conscious - at least, not in any special sense.
(b) There is something additional to objective reality.
(c) Objective reality is conscious.
(d) Consciousness describes an event, not a fundamental essence, and so can be produced.

Take your pick.

I am merely arguing that, just as with God, we can never know for sure if it exists or not, and furthermore that supposing its existence raises a number of seemingly intractable philosophical problems.
Definitely. But supposing that it doesn't raises another set of problems.
 
  • #3
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Originally posted by FZ+
(a) You are not conscious - at least, not in any special sense.
(b) There is something additional to objective reality.
(c) Objective reality is conscious.
(d) Consciousness describes an event, not a fundamental essence, and so can be produced.

Take your pick.

(a) I reject immediately, from first principles. (d) doesn't seem to address the problem; how can an event be conscious? I believe the answer lies somewhere between (b) and (c). But both (b) and (c) directly contradict the assumption of the nature of Objective reality-- namely, that Objective reality is fundamentally different in nature from mental phenomena, or more particularly, that there is nothing subjective or 'mental' about Objective reality.

Even if we suppose that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon produced by the physical brain existing in Objective reality, we still lack any semblence of a bridge principle from the reductive level of analysis (sets of neurons) to the emergent global one (consciousness). For instance, the property of a liquid that it takes the shape of its container is an emergent phenomenon, and the reductive level of analysis describes this in terms of the loose attractions between individual molecules of liquids. Here there is a clear bridge principle-- both reductive and global levels describe the structure of a liquid, just on different scales; there is something 'structural' going on in both accounts. But if there is nothing 'mental' about Objective reality, it is not clear if there can even be a coherent bridge principle between describing Objective neurons and subjective experience. In the face of this quandary, I prefer to believe that the assumption that Objective reality is something altogether different from mental phenomena is faulty. If we cede this point, we must begin to question the extent to which subjective and objective (little o) are really different or distinct-- in other words, further assumptions about Objective reality are called into question.

I am merely arguing that, just as with God, we can never know for sure if it exists or not, and furthermore that supposing its existence raises a number of seemingly intractable philosophical problems.
Definitely. But supposing that it doesn't raises another set of problems.

This is true, but I don't believe these problems to be as fundamentally intractable as those that come along with Objective reality. Or at least, the number of problems raised is reduced. For instance, there will always be the problem of why anything exists in the first place, no matter what we think about the nature of reality. But assuming that Objective reality doesn't exist at least begins to chip away at the mind-body problem, and although science espouses the Objective reality paradigm, a rejection of Objective reality doesn't necessarily imply any inconsistencies with the findings of science.

(edit for typo)
 
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  • #4
Royce
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Do you want to back to the beginning again?
I think; therefore, I am.
Proof that I exist and sujectivity exists as both thought and the concept of I, self, are subjective.

Can I prove that others exist?
Only by intersubjectivity. I gain information outside of myself from others.

Can I prove that objectivity exists?
Only by acceptence of the above then by again using intersubjectivity.
I gain information from outside of myself that objectivity exists and confirm that information with others.
Simply,
I: "Is that a rock?"
Other: "Yes, that is a rock."

There is no way that we can ever prove that anything but ourselves exists without accepting that our senses are giving us valid information and confirming it with the information supplied by others.

How valid and complete the information is can be tested and varified but only through our senses and the interpetation that our mind makes on that sensory input. We call this perception.

Does objective reality exist? Yes, but is only faith that I believe it to be so. I see no way around it or any way to go beyond that leap of faith that objectivity exists. There is no evidence that it does or doesn't that is not a sujective perception.
 
  • #5
Royce
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As an aside and some what off of the topic but germane, In light of this thread, how can someone be and objective materialist and believe that sujectivity does not exist?
I would reaaly like to know. It is a question not a comment. I really can't see or understand where they are comming from and how they rationalize it. In the numerous threads on or involving this suject I have never read one of them actually putting down what makes them think as they do, their line of reasoning other than their proverbial rock.
Please, if this is too far off the subject just ignore this post. It was just a thought rattling around in my head. I in no way meant to highjack this thread.
 
  • #6
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
(d) doesn't seem to address the problem; how can an event be conscious?

This option asks what is consciousness? What it is saying is that conscious as we conventionally think it - as something which is subjectively removed from the world, and as something that is individually real is incorrect, but rather consciousness is a description given to a process, a highly complex system of decision making. From this complexity comes the pattern of thought, and this pattern of thought is what forms feelings.

For instance, the property of a liquid that it takes the shape of its container is an emergent phenomenon, and the reductive level of analysis describes this in terms of the loose attractions between individual molecules of liquids. Here there is a clear bridge principle-- both reductive and global levels describe the structure of a liquid, just on different scales; there is something 'structural' going on in both accounts.
From a direction of chaos theory, this is very wrong. Chaos is about the emergence of whole new qualities of behaviour with increasing complexity, and gives the idea that naive scaling behaviour is incorrect. For example, the limitations of the above can be seen if we talk about a single atom. What about a single atom of hydrogen says fluidity to you? Rather, the property of water, such as flowing, is a description of the dynamic behaviour of the particle in interactions, not something that is really reflected from a reductionist scale.

Even with simplified models, it is possible to model the behaviour of the brain to achieve some quality of how it acts. Consciousness is still seen to follow rules. So, if we can repeat the behaviour of mankind by modelling the dynamics of neutrons - if it smells conscious, looks conscious and acts conscious, how can we say it isn't conscious?

This is true, but I don't believe these problems to be as fundamentally intractable as those that come along with Objective reality.
Well... If you are interested in this, look up the "Participatory Universe" idea by Wheeler. It screws around with causality a bit but basically, it says that the existence of the universe is due to the retro-active observation of conscious observers.
 
  • #7
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Originally posted by Royce
Can I prove that objectivity exists?
Only by acceptence of the above then by again using intersubjectivity.
I gain information from outside of myself that objectivity exists and confirm that information with others.
Simply,
I: "Is that a rock?"
Other: "Yes, that is a rock."

This doesn't amount to the Objective reality I was talking about. The shared perception of the rock is simply an intersubjective phenomenon-- A's subjective content agrees with B's, and so part of their respective and apparently private consciousnesses overlap into something that is, in effect, public. This implies objectivity in some sense; the rock perception is not unique to A or B, and therefore it can in some sense be said to exist outside of their independent minds-- it is a public, shared experience, but it is important to note that what is public and shared to this point is still purely subjective. This shared subjectivity can be called inter-subjective or objective, but Objective reality as I have been using it includes a further assumption.

Strictly speaking, the scenario above does not imply an underlying, non-mental phenomenon that is responsible for A's and B's shared perceptions of the rock. For instance, suppose for an instant that my brain during a dream can somehow generate two consciousness that can communicate indirectly but cannot directly share their subjective experiences. Now these two dream figures both wind up in the same dream world, where they happen to be looking at a rock. If both of these figures are believers in Objective reality, they will conclude that their shared sensations of the rock imply that there exists between them a 'physical' rock that itself is not mental in nature. But they will be wrong on this account; the rock is mental in nature, because in actuality it is a prop in a dream.
 
  • #8
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Originally posted by FZ+
This option asks what is consciousness? What it is saying is that conscious as we conventionally think it - as something which is subjectively removed from the world, and as something that is individually real is incorrect, but rather consciousness is a description given to a process, a highly complex system of decision making. From this complexity comes the pattern of thought, and this pattern of thought is what forms feelings.

Yes, but this explanation does nothing to fill the explanatory gap-- how can the processes of fundamentally non-mental neurons produce the mental phenomenon of consciousness? The only solution in this scenario is a dualist position.

From a direction of chaos theory, this is very wrong. Chaos is about the emergence of whole new qualities of behaviour with increasing complexity, and gives the idea that naive scaling behaviour is incorrect. For example, the limitations of the above can be seen if we talk about a single atom. What about a single atom of hydrogen says fluidity to you? Rather, the property of water, such as flowing, is a description of the dynamic behaviour of the particle in interactions, not something that is really reflected from a reductionist scale.

I was getting at the latter description, my apologies if I wasn't entirely clear-- what I meant to say was that the macroscopic property of fluidity can be described reductively in terms of the behavior of the constituent molecules. A successful bridge principle does not necessarily endow the component parts of a system with the emergent properties-- this is reflected in your observation that a liquid can be described as fluid even though a single molecule of water cannot be. This is also why I do not believe that we need to say that a neuron, or an atom, is conscious when we are trying to explain the emergence of human consciousness. But what a successful bridge principle must do is make the emergent behavior or nature of a system intellegible in terms of the behavior or nature of the constituent parts. Thus, in the water example, the fluidity of the water is intellegible in terms of the behavior of the constituent parts-- fluidity is a dynamic structural property of water, and so it makes sense to describe it with an appeal to the dynamic microscopic structure of interacting molecules. But there can be no analogous bridge principle linking activity in the brain to consciousness, unless we concede that there is something 'mental' about the constituent parts of the brain and/or their interactions.

Even with simplified models, it is possible to model the behaviour of the brain to achieve some quality of how it acts. Consciousness is still seen to follow rules. So, if we can repeat the behaviour of mankind by modelling the dynamics of neutrons - if it smells conscious, looks conscious and acts conscious, how can we say it isn't conscious?

I'm going to address this from two different angles. First, let's consider a real person whose behavior apparently implies consciousness. You take a person and hold a red card in his left visual field and ask him, what color is this card? The person tells you it is red, so you conclude that he had the conscious experience of the color red-- that he actually subjectively experienced redness. But in actuality, you have been fooled-- this person turns out to have blindsight, a condition where he has no visual consciousness in a certain portion of his field of vision, but he can nontheless reliably give you correct information about visual stimuli located in that 'blind' field. Apparently the brain can process information about sensual stimuli without attendent conscious perception. Thus, just because it seems like it is conscious does not mean that it actually is conscious.

Second, do you mean to imply by your argument that a sufficiently detailed computer simulation of the brain will be conscious? This amounts to a functionalist position. The problem with functionalism is that it denies any meaningful physical basis for consciousness. You can make a detailed simulation of an electromagnetic field, but that doesn't mean magnets will stick to your computer. If we assume that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of the brain, then we are implying that there are certain causal factors in the brain underlying this emergent phenomenon. A computer simulation will not necessarily possesses these causal powers.
 
  • #9
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Yes, but this explanation does nothing to fill the explanatory gap-- how can the processes of fundamentally non-mental neurons produce the mental phenomenon of consciousness? The only solution in this scenario is a dualist position.
The way I see it is to define the idea of mental itself. I consider the mental thing itself to be something of the mass behaviour of the neurones, and so not individually special. Ie. one side is simply a different perspective on the action of the entire other side.

Thus, just because it seems like it is conscious does not mean that it actually is conscious.
But on the flip side, we have an another problem - how can we say someone else is conscious at all without resorting to functionalism - of perhaps the appearance of their brain cells, their eeg scans as well as what they say. From this basis, we do get pushed towards the solipsist side, until we make some sort of functionalist assumption.

You can make a detailed simulation of an electromagnetic field, but that doesn't mean magnets will stick to your computer.
That's because you don't have a sufficiently detailed model. :smile:

I am talking about something else altogether - perhaps a hypothetical neural network replacing all of the brain cells with processors, connected to a speech interface and everything, programmed to give exactly the same responses as a human, the same eeg readings, so sufficiently detailed to be absolutely indistinguishable. How do you say, when observation confirms everything, that the computer is not conscious? How would you say that this is not what the body does in the production of a child?
 
  • #10
heusdens
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
Of course, it is also ultimately an assumption that there exist more than one subjective viewpoint, i.e. that I am not the only conscious being (thus contradicting solipsism). But I do not find this assumption as problematic as the assumption of Objective reality. Supposing that other humans are conscious only acknowledges a multiplicity of subjective viewpoints, something which I already know to exist (in myself). Supposing that Objective reality exists posits the existence of something that I can never touch (figuratively and literally) and whose nature differs fundamentally from anything I can possibly know. Furthermore, it introduces the mind-body problem: how can something that is fundamentally not 'mental' or 'conscious' in nature give rise to consciousness?

Now, I am not arguing that Objective reality does not exist. I am merely arguing that, just as with God, we can never know for sure if it exists or not, and furthermore that supposing its existence raises a number of seemingly intractable philosophical problems. Therefore, we should retain at least some measure of doubt as to the existence of Objective reality.

Objective reality can "strike you on the head".

If you walk in the mountains, it can occur a stone is falling on your head. Now that stone does exist, without your or anyone else's prior knowledge about it. As soon as it strikes you on the head, provided it does not knock you unconsciouss or out of existence, then becomes available to your consciousness.

There is no measure of doubt about the existence of the real and objective world. To do so, is only to give credit to the possibility of there being a God. Now it is perfectly arguable that no such form of existence does or can exist. Not using more then trivial logic.

I have done so in many threads, look for instance at the thread 'Necessity of Being' and the other thread mentioned in there.

The 'mind-body' problem is not a real problem. The basic issue is perhaps the question of how something can become something else, which is intrinsicaly different.

Your intuition perhaps tells you that whatever matter is able of interacting, it can not become something else as matter. So it would essentially stay the same.

This is however not the case.

Take for instance a cloud of hydrogen gass. Now your logic would infer that whatever there occurs with that cloud of hydrogen gas, it would essentially remain the same.

But stellar evolution proofs this to the opposite.

And that is just one of the many steps that are involved in the development of the material world.

Of course you need many times such steps in material changes to have matter organized in more sophisticated forms, but geological processes and chemical evolution provide all the necessary components to that.
 
  • #11
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Originally posted by FZ+
The way I see it is to define the idea of mental itself. I consider the mental thing itself to be something of the mass behaviour of the neurones, and so not individually special. Ie. one side is simply a different perspective on the action of the entire other side.

I would agree, but this correspondance is still unintelligible without a bridge principle. If we say that mental is something of the mass behavior of neurons, then this in turn must tell us something about neurons and their interactions; specifically, that the building blocks of subjective, conscious experience are located somewhere in that tangled web of neurons and their mutual activity. This alone contradicts the conventional notion of Objective reality, which attributes nothing to objective matter and energy that could intelligibly account for even the building blocks of subjective, conscious experience. Thus, I think it is most rational to reconceive some of our assumptions regarding the fundamental nature of reality; there seems to be something which the traditional account is omitting, and this omission in turn propogates through basically every nook and cranny of philosophical thought, giving us an impoverished and incomplete understanding of reality and our relationship to it.

But on the flip side, we have an another problem - how can we say someone else is conscious at all without resorting to functionalism - of perhaps the appearance of their brain cells, their eeg scans as well as what they say. From this basis, we do get pushed towards the solipsist side, until we make some sort of functionalist assumption.

I am talking about something else altogether - perhaps a hypothetical neural network replacing all of the brain cells with processors, connected to a speech interface and everything, programmed to give exactly the same responses as a human, the same eeg readings, so sufficiently detailed to be absolutely indistinguishable. How do you say, when observation confirms everything, that the computer is not conscious? How would you say that this is not what the body does in the production of a child?

Well, look at it this way. We can start by saying that I (you) am (are) conscious. Then we take the next step by assuming that other people are conscious. This step is further justified if we presume that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of the brain; if we know that a device works to a certain effect, then a (nearly) identical device should work to the same effect. This is a pseudo-functionalist position, because the design specifications of the devices involved (human brains) are basically the same.

Once we get to the question of a sufficiently detailed computer simulation of a brain, we are making a further assumption-- that it does not matter if we replace the physical organization of neurons in the context of the brain in the context of the body with the vastly different physical organization of processors and memory chips in the context of a computer. Not to say that such a device as you define it would not be conscious; there is no way to be sure. But where do you draw the line? Functionalism says there is no line to be drawn-- as long as you perform the same computations as the brain, you have something that is conscious. Thus, if you have an abacus whose beads you shuffle over centuries to mimic the structure and information processing properties of a brain, then that abacus, over a period of centuries, will be a conscious system. Does this proposition sit well with your intuition? Admittedly this is just intuition, but mine tells me that something is wrong with this picture.

Functionalism basically pulls the rug out under the notion that consciousness is in any meaningful way a physical process-- rather, it attributes causal powers to abstract mathematical formulations. If we want to keep our theories of consciousness grounded on a solid, physical and dare I say scientific basis, we must acknowledge that it is the totality of the physical brain that generates consciousness. Starting from this point, it is not clear what physical aspects can be abstracted away without disrupting the physical processes underlying the emergence of consciousness.
 
  • #12
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by heusdens
Objective reality can "strike you on the head".

If you walk in the mountains, it can occur a stone is falling on your head. Now that stone does exist, without your or anyone else's prior knowledge about it. As soon as it strikes you on the head, provided it does not knock you unconsciouss or out of existence, then becomes available to your consciousness.

There is no measure of doubt about the existence of the real and objective world. To do so, is only to give credit to the possibility of there being a God. Now it is perfectly arguable that no such form of existence does or can exist. Not using more then trivial logic.

You haven't refuted any of my arguments; all you have said is "the position of Objective reality is correct." Here is an account of your mountain situation, without the question-begging assumptions:

You are having the sensual, subjective experience of walking through the mountains, when suddenly you have the sensual, subjective experience of being struck on the head by a rock. Now, what is the nature of this rock? Is it a hallucination brought on by a bout of epilepsy or is it what you would call a 'real' rock? Let's suppose that you have been walking through the mountains with someone else, and they have seen you being struck by the rock. Well, this pairs down our doubt as to whether the rock was a subjective or objective (private or public) phenomenon. Its existence was apparent to two independent subjects, so unless they were in the unlikely situation of sharing a joint hallucination, it is an objective (public) phenomenon. But is it an Objective phenomenon? That is, is it something whose nature differs fundamentally from a subjective experience, or is it simply a phenomenon that is still of a subjective nature, but happens to somehow avail itself to more than one subject at once (and thus, public)?

Do you see what I'm getting at here? There is no denying that consciousness exists, and there is no denying that some conscious experiences are shared by arbitrarily many people. I denote these as private and public here, rather than subjective and objective, to eliminate the inevitable assumptions tied into the words 'subjective' and 'objective.' Why are some conscious experiences public and others private? The assumption of Objective reality states that the publicly experienced phenomena are generated by an underlying set of phenomena which themselves are entirely 'non-mental' in nature. But this is only an assumption, and does not of necessity follow from first principles. For instance, a competing ontology might hold that publicly experienced phenomena (external reality) are those areas of independent subjective experience that overlap; this would be analogous to creating a mental landscape and viewing it in turn from different imagined perspectives. There is no way to prove that the one is the case, and the other is not; but I have argued what I think is a compelling case for something like the latter, since it is not a dualistic philosophy and makes the mind-body problem intelligible.

edit: Additionally, not holding the position that Objective reality is true in no way necessitates the introduction of the concept of God.

The 'mind-body' problem is not a real problem. The basic issue is perhaps the question of how something can become something else, which is intrinsicaly different.

Your intuition perhaps tells you that whatever matter is able of interacting, it can not become something else as matter. So it would essentially stay the same.

This is however not the case.

Take for instance a cloud of hydrogen gass. Now your logic would infer that whatever there occurs with that cloud of hydrogen gas, it would essentially remain the same.

But stellar evolution proofs this to the opposite.

And that is just one of the many steps that are involved in the development of the material world.

Of course you need many times such steps in material changes to have matter organized in more sophisticated forms, but geological processes and chemical evolution provide all the necessary components to that.

Your example of stellar evolution does not address the problem; it is a case of an Objective phenomenon of one kind becoming an Objective phenomenon of another kind. This is not comparable to an Objective phenomenon becoming a subjective phenomenon. Bridge principles exist for the former, but no bridge principles exist for the latter. The problem as it stands is intractable, and the only way to remove this flaw is to hold a dualist position or to reconceive of what we mean by 'objective.'
 
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  • #13
heusdens
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Hypnagogue:

Since we can research the stone and the cause for it falling on our head, and research the wound on our head, this sort of makes it an objective experience.

It is not that it happened in a dream or so.

The other thing you mentioned, that something obective can become something other objective, but that it can not turn into some subjective...

What are you trying to say, that you yourself, or your consciousness only exist in a subjective form?

That you do not have objective existence?
 
  • #14
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Originally posted by heusdens
Hypnagogue:

Since we can research the stone and the cause for it falling on our head, and research the wound on our head, this sort of makes it an objective experience.

It is not that it happened in a dream or so.

I don't think you are quite understanding my point. The phenomenon is objective, insofar as it is a public phenomenon that is experienced by other people as well as myself. But the observation that some conscious experiences are public does not require or logically imply in any way that there is something fundamentally 'non-mental' about them. In what sense is a dreamed reality different from a waking reality, besides that the former is privately experiences and the latter is publicly or mutually experienced? You would say that the former is a mental phenomenon and the latter is not, but there is no reason to establish any ontological differences between the two, beyond the fact that the one is experienced by one person and the other experienced simultaneously by many people, besides human bias.

The other thing you mentioned, that something obective can become something other objective, but that it can not turn into some subjective...

What are you trying to say, that you yourself, or your consciousness only exist in a subjective form?

That you do not have objective existence?

I said that something Objective can not turn into something subjective, because of the onological assumptions that go along with "Objective" as I have been using it. Thus, I suggest that perhaps there is something fundamentally 'mental' or 'subjective' about my objective (public) existence.
 
  • #15
heusdens
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
I don't think you are quite understanding my point. The phenomenon is objective, insofar as it is a public phenomenon that is experienced by other people as well as myself. But the observation that some conscious experiences are public does not require or logically imply in any way that there is something fundamentally 'non-mental' about them. In what sense is a dreamed reality different from a waking reality, besides that the former is privately experiences and the latter is publicly or mutually experienced? You would say that the former is a mental phenomenon and the latter is not, but there is no reason to establish any ontological differences between the two, beyond the fact that the one is experienced by one person and the other experienced simultaneously by many people, besides human bias.

You did not understand MY point.

The relations we have with outside reality are objective, not subjective. Only if we were to state that the stone was intentionally falling on our head, then that is subjective.



I said that something Objective can not turn into something subjective, because of the onological assumptions that go along with "Objective" as I have been using it. Thus, I suggest that perhaps there is something fundamentally 'mental' or 'subjective' about my objective (public) existence.

But I claimed that consciousness is an objective phenomena.
 
  • #16
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I don't think the content of what I am trying to say is quite getting across, so I have sketched it out pictorially, using the example of two people looking at a tree. The stick figures are a shorthand for the consciousnesses of A and B, and the thought bubbles represent the content of their consciousnesses.

1. depicts all we can be sure of in this situation-- A and B have conscious perceptions of a tree, and their perceptions of the tree are more or less congruent-- the contents of their visual consciousnesses are the same.

2. depicts the explanation of this situation according to the idea of Objective reality. Here we see A's and B's perceptions of the trees corresponding to something we call the material tree, whose existence is inherently unknowable to A and B (who can only know what is contained in their thought bubbles), and which itself is entirely non-mental in nature. Note that there is nothing from 1. that necessarily implies the situation in 2.

3. depicts a possible alternative explanation for the congruency of A's and B's conscious perceptions of the tree. Here, we see that there is a certain portion of their conscious content that actually overlaps. This overlapping portion is what we call the objective world or external reality. But in this scenario, the tree is not ontologically different from any other mental phenomena A or B might experience-- it is simply a logically consistent mental object that avails itself to the consciousnesses of more than one person at a time, and in this sense it is "external" or "public" but not fundamentally different from any other mental phenomena.
 

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  • #17
heusdens
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Hypnagogue:

Simple question:

Where does the projection/image/idea of tree in the mind of those people (A and B) come from in example 1) 2) and 3).

Only 2 describes a source, the objective existing tree.

In 1) we simply assume that A and B's mind 'invent' the same tree, coincidently?

and in 3) you then invent a sort of 'supermind' which overlaps both A and B's minds?
 
  • #18
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If we say that mental is something of the mass behavior of neurons, then this in turn must tell us something about neurons and their interactions; specifically, that the building blocks of subjective, conscious experience are located somewhere in that tangled web of neurons and their mutual activity.

Let me put this another way.

This choice - which is of course not proven or anything but a simply possibility, asks us not to re-examine the nature of objective universe, but the real nature of subjective existence. In effect, it is saying that the building blocks of mental etc are not really distinct from the objective, that we misconceive the nature of the brain and mind. The painting is still paint, so to speak.

But where do you draw the line?
But indeed, how do you draw the line between acceptable pseudo-functionism, or assuming that small changes in the brain makes no difference, and full functionism, which is unacceptable? Can it be in any way that is not arbitary?
 
  • #19
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by heusdens
Hypnagogue:

Simple question:

Where does the projection/image/idea of tree in the mind of those people (A and B) come from in example 1) 2) and 3).

Only 2 describes a source, the objective existing tree.

Well, what is the 'source' of the 'objective existing tree' then? This argument mirrors the first cause argument for the existence of God; all you have done is pushed the philosophical problem of existence onto Objective reality as opposed to subjective experience.


In 1) we simply assume that A and B's mind 'invent' the same tree, coincidently?

1 does not make any definitive existential claims, it only states the basic facts of the situation without making any assumptions; namely, that A and B perceive the same thing. 2 and 3 are possible explanations for the congruency relation in 1.

and in 3) you then invent a sort of 'supermind' which overlaps both A and B's minds?

Whereas in 2) we have invented a concept called 'Objective reality.' What's the difference?
 
  • #20
heusdens
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
Well, what is the 'source' of the 'objective existing tree' then? This argument mirrors the first cause argument for the existence of God; all you have done is pushed the philosophical problem of existence onto Objective reality as opposed to subjective experience.

1 does not make any definitive existential claims, it only states the basic facts of the situation without making any assumptions; namely, that A and B perceive the same thing. 2 and 3 are possible explanations for the congruency relation in 1.

Whereas in 2) we have invented a concept called 'Objective reality.' What's the difference?

The difference is that we state in 2 that the reason for the coincidental experiences are because they come from the same source, the real existing tree.

This we do not simply "invent", as if it would be a baseless assumption to state that the tree exists on itself.

The real existing tree is a sufficient reason and cause for this.

The third things makes a baseless assumption. It assumes the exisence of a third mind. But same as the tree itself, also the mind of the other observer is based on objective experience. Both observers can state from each other that they are consciouss observers.

Whereas the third mind, just comes from nowhere, it is not objectively based.
 
  • #21
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Originally posted by FZ+
Let me put this another way.

This choice - which is of course not proven or anything but a simply possibility, asks us not to re-examine the nature of objective universe, but the real nature of subjective existence. In effect, it is saying that the building blocks of mental etc are not really distinct from the objective, that we misconceive the nature of the brain and mind. The painting is still paint, so to speak.

I don't know about you, but I do not misconceive the nature of the color red. It is undeniably something of the flavor of what we call subjective conscious experience, and it is totally inexplicable in terms of Objective reality. Again, I ask, if the objective world is not in some respect 'mental,' then what is the bridge principle connecting activity in the brain to conscious experience? We know red exists, so we must have some coherent way to explain its existence in terms of the physical if we are not to be dualists; we further know that red is a mental phenomenon, since from the standpoint of Objective reality, red exists only in the mind of the perceiver. So it seems as if there must be something 'mental' about some aspect of physical existenece if it is to somehow generate the perception of the color red.

But indeed, how do you draw the line between acceptable pseudo-functionism, or assuming that small changes in the brain makes no difference, and full functionism, which is unacceptable? Can it be in any way that is not arbitary?

When we compare brains to other brains, we see they have essentially the same physical organization and work on the same physical principles. Therefore, if we assume that a normally functioning brain is responsible for generating consciousness, there is no reason to believe another normally functioning brain will not generate consciousness. The two are so alike that there is virtually no room for doubt that what one does, the other will do. The further we fiddle around with the physical organization and principles of the system, the more our doubt must grow that the one more or less precisely imitates the effects of the other.
 
  • #22
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Originally posted by heusdens
The difference is that we state in 2 that the reason for the coincidental experiences are because they come from the same source, the real existing tree.

This we do not simply "invent", as if it would be a baseless assumption to state that the tree exists on itself.

Well, in 3 we also state that the reason for the coincidental experiences is that they come from the same source-- the overlapping or public portion of A's and B's respective consciousnesses. There is no sense in which this mental-object tree is not as real or existent as the supposed Objective tree.

And you do indeed "invent" the idea of Objective reality, as it is depicted in 2, since there can be no empirical evidence supporting it. It is an explanatory hypothesis invented by us thinkers; whether it is true to the reality of the situation or not, we cannot know.

The third things makes a baseless assumption. It assumes the exisence of a third mind. But same as the tree itself, also the mind of the other observer is based on objective experience. Both observers can state from each other that they are consciouss observers.

Whereas the third mind, just comes from nowhere, it is not objectively based.

3 does not assume the existence of a 3rd mind; it explains that that which is experienced as external to A and B is actually that portion of their respective consciousnesses which overlap. If there was a third mind, there would be a third thought bubble; rather, situation 3 depicts 2 distinct thought bubbles intersecting, and thus sharing a common experience at those points which intersect.

Furthermore, situation 2 makes what I would consider an even more egregious assumption by assuming that there exists a certain type of substance which bears no 'mental' charecteristics. What a strange thing to suppose, since we have never encountered and indeed can never encounter such a thing; by definition, everything we experience and know about is mental in nature.
 
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  • #23
heusdens
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
Well, in 3 we also state that the reason for the coincidental experiences is that they come from the same source-- the overlapping or public portion of A's and B's respective consciousnesses. There is no sense in which this mental-object tree is not as real or existent as the supposed Objective tree.

And you do indeed "invent" the idea of Objective reality, as it is depicted in 2, since there can be no empirical evidence supporting it. It is an explanatory hypothesis invented by us thinkers; whether it is true to the reality of the situation or not, we cannot know.

3 does not assume the existence of a 3rd mind; it explains that that which is experienced as external to A and B is actually that portion of their respective consciousnesses which overlap. If there was a third mind, there would be a third thought bubble; rather, situation 3 depicts 2 distinct thought bubbles intersecting, and thus sharing a common experience at those points which intersect.


You state then that the source of us being aware of an objective reality is based on some form of collective consciousness.

Where would that collective consciousness exist then, if not in the individual minds? Do I experience your thoughts, and emotions directly in my mind? No, I don't. I can only compare mental states with you. So there must be something that is outside, independend and apart from both our minds, that forms the source of our mental awareneses.

That is what we call the objective, material world.


Furthermore, situation 2 makes what I would consider an even more egregious assumption by assuming that there exists a certain type of substance which bears no 'mental' charecteristics. What a strange thing to suppose, since we have never encountered and indeed can never encounter such a thing; by definition, everything we experience and know about is mental in nature.

You have really a great talent in obfuscating things.

That our mental awarenesses are mental, is indeed the case. That does not mean that things outside our mental awareness must be in THEIR nature also mental. We know of no stone that has a mental awareness of it's own. It simply isn't there.

Whereas I can state of another consciouss observer that he/she does have mental awareness.
 
  • #24
Royce
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
I don't know about you, but I do not misconceive the nature of the color red. It is undeniably something of the flavor of what we call subjective conscious experience, and it is totally inexplicable in terms of Objective reality. Again, I ask, if the objective world is not in some respect 'mental,' then what is the bridge principle connecting activity in the brain to conscious experience? We know red exists, so we must have some coherent way to explain its existence in terms of the physical if we are not to be dualists; we further know that red is a mental phenomenon, since from the standpoint of Objective reality, red exists only in the mind of the perceiver. So it seems as if there must be something 'mental' about some aspect of physical existenece if it is to somehow generate the perception of the color red.

You do not know RED. You and I and everyone else were taught or told that this color is red when we were toddlers. It is arguable that we saw red but did not know that it was called red. Red is an intersubjective experience. There is no way that I can know that the red that I perceive is the same red that you or anyone else perceives.

There is no bridge between objectivity and subjectivity other than assumption and faith, not religous faith but faith as in an unproven and unprovable belief that intersubjectivity supports objectivity.

Even with this assumption there is no way I can know that the objectivity that you perceive is the same that I perceive.


When we compare brains to other brains, we see they have essentially the same physical organization and work on the same physical principles. Therefore, if we assume that a normally functioning brain is responsible for generating consciousness, there is no reason to believe another normally functioning brain will not generate consciousness. The two are so alike that there is virtually no room for doubt that what one does, the other will do. The further we fiddle around with the physical organization and principles of the system, the more our doubt must grow that the one more or less precisely imitates the effects of the other.

This is not a valid necessary assumption. When a human being's heart stops pumping blood the being is no longer conscious. I, therefore, conclude that the heart is the seat of consciousness. When a human being loses too much blood even though the heart is still bumping s/he becomes unconscious; therefore, I conclude that my first concluision was in error and it is blood that is the seat of consciousness. It is the same with blood glucose levels and body temperature as well as numerous other things.

It seems to me that consciousness is more than a brain being present but and entire system. I am pointing out that it is very easy to make assumptions about things that we are so familiar with and so much a part of our consciousness. Red is not red but what we were told is called red.

That the brain is the seat of consciousness is only an unsupported assumption. If we can not even know what consciousnes is how can we assume we know where it originates? The brain may be a necessary part of consciousness but so is blood, heart, lungs, kidneys, heat etc.

Remove a brain from a body, the body is no longer conscious but even if we supply all of the environmental requirements for the brain, is it conscious, science fiction not withstanding? We do not know. We may be able to montor activity but is it conscious? It is the same with your computer.
 
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  • #25
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Originally posted by heusdens


You state then that the source of us being aware of an objective reality is based on some form of collective consciousness.

Where would that collective consciousness exist then, if not in the individual minds? Do I experience your thoughts, and emotions directly in my mind? No, I don't. I can only compare mental states with you. So there must be something that is outside, independend and apart from both our minds, that forms the source of our mental awareneses.

That is what we call the objective, material world.

I agree with you that there is what we may call an external world. I meant the 'overlapping consciousness' to denote those parts of our consciousnesses that are consistent across all people, such as the visual perception of a given tree. This does not mean that an individual has direct access to the contents of consciousness of another person. It also does not imply that those external elements are not mental in nature (ie, it does not imply that they are 'material' in the sense that you are using the word).

That our mental awarenesses are mental, is indeed the case. That does not mean that things outside our mental awareness must be in THEIR nature also mental. We know of no stone that has a mental awareness of it's own. It simply isn't there.

Whereas I can state of another consciouss observer that he/she does have mental awareness.

Of course the fact that our mental awarenesses are mental does not necessarily imply that 'things outside our mental awareness must also be in their nature mental.' I have not held anywhere that the paradigm I am discussing MUST be the case, anymore than I have held that Objective reality MUST NOT be the case. There is always room for doubt in such metaphysical discussions no matter what the assertion is.

However, saying that a stone has no mental awareness of its own does not imply that it is not mental in nature. For instance, try visualizing a stone in your mind; this stone is mental in nature, although I think we would both agree that this visualized stone has no mental awareness of its own.

The point I have been trying to make is this. Let us compare the mental, subjective stone to the external, objective stone. Both stones as we apprehend them are mental in nature, insofar as they are both figures existing in our conscious awareness. The only difference between the two is that one is accessible only to one person, while the other is accessible to arbitrarily many people. The fact that the objective stone exists as a publically accessible percept does not imply that it is not mental in nature, only that it is a mental percept that avails itself to everyone. If we proceed with our assumption that the stone is not mental in nature, we introduce the existence of something (Objective reality) which by definition can never be known and whose nature is totally alien to all we do know, and we also make the existence of consciousness unintelligible. Thus, we have good reason to doubt that objective reality is non-mental in nature.
 
  • #26
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Originally posted by Royce
You do not know RED. You and I and everyone else were taught or told that this color is red when we were toddlers. It is arguable that we saw red but did not know that it was called red. Red is an intersubjective experience. There is no way that I can know that the red that I perceive is the same red that you or anyone else perceives.

I agree with your assertion that my 'red' may not be the same as yours (for instance, the subjective color that I associate with a light wavelength of 500 nm, you may associate with a light wavelength of 700 nm). I don't see how this is really relevant to my argument, though. So long as what we both agree to call 'red' is a subjective phenomenon of consciousness, my argument holds.

There is no bridge between objectivity and subjectivity other than assumption and faith, not religous faith but faith as in an unproven and unprovable belief that intersubjectivity supports objectivity.

Again I agree, but subjectivity at least is made an intelligible phenomenon if we abstain from the assumption that objective reality is non-mental in nature.

This is not a valid necessary assumption. When a human being's heart stops pumping blood the being is no longer conscious. I, therefore, conclude that the heart is the seat of consciousness. When a human being loses too much blood even though the heart is still bumping s/he becomes unconscious; therefore, I conclude that my first concluision was in error and it is blood that is the seat of consciousness. It is the same with blood glucose levels and body temperature as well as numerous other things.

It seems to me that consciousness is more than a brain being present but and entire system. I am pointing out that it is very easy to make assumptions about things that we are so familiar with and so much a part of our consciousness. Red is not red but what we were told is called red.

That the brain is the seat of consciousness is only an unsupported assumption. If we can not even know what consciousnes is how can we assume we know where it originates? The brain may be a necessary part of consciousness but so is blood, heart, lungs, kidneys, heat etc.

Remove a brain from a body, the body is no longer conscious but even if we supply all of the environmental requirements for the brain, is it conscious, science fiction not withstanding? We do not know. We may be able to montor activity but is it conscious? It is the same with your computer.

I actually have addressed this point earlier in the thread:

Once we get to the question of a sufficiently detailed computer simulation of a brain, we are making a further assumption-- that it does not matter if we replace the physical organization of neurons in the context of the brain in the context of the body with the vastly different physical organization of processors and memory chips in the context of a computer.

It is indeed important to acknowledge the context of the entire living system when we talk about consciousness. But within the system, we can still talk about component parts performing individual functions while tacitly acknowledging their dependence on the functioning of the entire system. For instance, it is common knowledge that the heart is responsible for pumping blood. But without the proper signals from the brain, the heart would not pump blood. Should we therefore conclude that it is improper to say that the heart pumps blood? Similarly, we say the brain produces consciousness. Now, it would not be able to do so without the proper context of a healthily functioning body; but it is clear from mountains of evidence of brain lesion studies, brain stimulation studies, etc., that we can say that the brain produces consciousness in the same way we can say that the heart pumps blood.

If we accept that the brain produces consciousness, then we must attribute its production of consciousness to certain physical characteristics of the brain. However, as it is not yet clear which physical characteristics of the brain play a part in producing consciousness and which are irrelevant, it is correspondingly unclear which can be abstracted away (such as in the case of a computer).
 
  • #27
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Well at least you make more sense than lifegazer did, hypnagogue. :wink:

Actually this topic is quite intriguing. I found that none of what you said was making sense until you posted the picture, which helped a great deal. There are a few things, though.

While both the imaginary rock and the real rock are experienced mentally, they have different behaviours. The real rock obeys a set of rules that never change, while the imaginary rock can simply vanish.

This clearly, then, must be what separates that which is public and that which is private. The overlapped section between any number of given consciousnesses will always contain the set of rules we call the laws of physics.

I recall you saying earlier, "what's the difference?" Indeed. You call this overlap the public set of metal experience. I call it the objective world, since everybody agrees, it's objective! I therefore conclude that this overlap is the same thing as the objective world, since I don't see any reason to call the objective world an "alien" experience of which none of us can know.

The way I see it, almost everybody here really agrees, they're just using different vocabulary.
 
  • #28
CJames
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Another interesting point. The brain cannot function without the heart, both of which cannot function without blood, which can't really do it's job unless the lungs work, which pull in oxygen from the surrounding environment. In fact this process continues indefinitely. Conciousness cannot function without the existence of the entirety of the universe.
 
  • #29
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Originally posted by CJames
While both the imaginary rock and the real rock are experienced mentally, they have different behaviours. The real rock obeys a set of rules that never change, while the imaginary rock can simply vanish.

This clearly, then, must be what separates that which is public and that which is private. The overlapped section between any number of given consciousnesses will always contain the set of rules we call the laws of physics.

I recall you saying earlier, "what's the difference?" Indeed. You call this overlap the public set of metal experience. I call it the objective world, since everybody agrees, it's objective! I therefore conclude that this overlap is the same thing as the objective world, since I don't see any reason to call the objective world an "alien" experience of which none of us can know.

Well, I have called it 'public' to get away from misunderstandings that might arise from common associations people make with the word 'objective.' In fact, 'public' and 'objective' mean essentially the same thing-- something external to the individual perceiver.

What this thread really gets down to is the nature of this external, public, objective world. Is it fundamentally similar to or distinct from the subjective world that we directly experience? Is it fundamentally mental or non-mental? I have used the term Objective reality to refer to the hypothesized public, objective reality which is non-mental in nature. This corresponds to situation #2 in the diagram I posted.

I have said that Objective reality is alien and unknowable because it assumes the existence of something which we can never experience or come into direct contact with.

Look at situation #2 in the picture-- all the stick figures can possibly know about is what is presented to them in their conscious awareness, or pictorially, what is contained within their thought bubbles. But the underlying material reality by definition cannot be perceived-- it cannot possibly be the content of a thought bubble. We cannot see Objective reality, because color does not exist materially (only light waves do); we cannot hear it, because sound does not exist materially (only pressure waves in the air do); etc. All we have is mental images which represent external reality (thus the arrows from the thought bubbles to the material tree in the diagram), but never a knowledge of it which is not mediated by this mental representation.

Now look at the room around you, and consider that everything you see is merely an image produced by your brain. You are not seeing the room-- you are seeing the picture your brain paints of the room. Thus, you are not looking outside into the external world-- you are looking inside, into your brain (more precisely, your consciousness). What would it mean to look outside, to see the room itself and not the picture your brain paints of it? It is impossible to fathom; this is the alien, unknowable Objective world.

Thus, in the Objective reality paradigm, all of our knowledge of external reality is by definition second hand, a kind of emissary sent forth on the part of some unseen, unknowable figure who sits eternally behind the curtain dividing the subjective from the Objective. If you are familiar with the allegory of Plato's cave, that is also a useful (if less exact) metaphor for thinking about the picture that the theory of Objective reality paints. We don't run into this unknowable, alien substance if we do not espouse the Objective reality paradigm and assume that the external world is mental in nature, since in this case our knowledge of the world is not second hand, it is direct-- what we perceive is not a representation of the world, it IS the world, insofar as that world is mental and thus can be a content of consciousness (can be contained in a thought bubble).
 
  • #30
heusdens
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
I agree with you that there is what we may call an external world. I meant the 'overlapping consciousness' to denote those parts of our consciousnesses that are consistent across all people, such as the visual perception of a given tree. This does not mean that an individual has direct access to the contents of consciousness of another person. It also does not imply that those external elements are not mental in nature (ie, it does not imply that they are 'material' in the sense that you are using the word).

Of course the fact that our mental awarenesses are mental does not necessarily imply that 'things outside our mental awareness must also be in their nature mental.' I have not held anywhere that the paradigm I am discussing MUST be the case, anymore than I have held that Objective reality MUST NOT be the case. There is always room for doubt in such metaphysical discussions no matter what the assertion is.

However, saying that a stone has no mental awareness of its own does not imply that it is not mental in nature. For instance, try visualizing a stone in your mind; this stone is mental in nature, although I think we would both agree that this visualized stone has no mental awareness of its own.

The point I have been trying to make is this. Let us compare the mental, subjective stone to the external, objective stone. Both stones as we apprehend them are mental in nature, insofar as they are both figures existing in our conscious awareness. The only difference between the two is that one is accessible only to one person, while the other is accessible to arbitrarily many people. The fact that the objective stone exists as a publically accessible percept does not imply that it is not mental in nature, only that it is a mental percept that avails itself to everyone. If we proceed with our assumption that the stone is not mental in nature, we introduce the existence of something (Objective reality) which by definition can never be known and whose nature is totally alien to all we do know, and we also make the existence of consciousness unintelligible. Thus, we have good reason to doubt that objective reality is non-mental in nature.

If you mean that the "things-in-themselves" don't reveal their nature to us, but only in the way the interact and can cause sensations (directly or indirectly) I would agree, but the "thing-in-itself" is just that: an abstract reality. It is 'reality' outside of the awareness of it, and it does not make sense to ponder that.

Why we say that nature itself is not mental, not consciouss of itself, is because we typically reserve that property for finite beings that have sensations about outside objective reality.

A 'mental thing' that doesn't have it's nature, objective reality, outside of itself, of what can it be aware then?

It would be impossible. Even self-awareness does and can not apply, since for that you need to be able ti distinguish between yourself (your consciousness) and something that exists outside of it, of which you have sensory awareness.

You sort of alienate reality and consciousness, cause your mindly efforts tries to know how it can be aware of reality, OUTSIDE of or WITHOUT our consciousness.

This is like pondering what thinking would be like and what thoughts we would have without a brain.

I don't think that is a very good approach. Outside our brain, there is nothing WE can think of or be aware of.
 
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  • #31
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Originally posted by heusdens
If you mean that the "things-in-themselves" don't reveal their nature to us, but only in the way the interact and can cause sensations (directly or indirectly) I would agree, but the "thing-in-itself" is just that: an abstract reality. It is 'reality' outside of the awareness of it, and it does not make sense to ponder that.

Ah, so I see you appreciate the philosophical quandary that Objective reality puts us in.

Why we say that nature itself is not mental, not consciouss of itself, is because we typically reserve that property for finite beings that have sensations about outside objective reality.

A 'mental thing' that doesn't have it's nature, objective reality, outside of itself, of what can it be aware then?

It would be impossible. Even self-awareness does and can not apply, since for that you need to be able ti distinguish between yourself (your consciousness) and something that exists outside of it, of which you have sensory awareness.

I do not see your justification for this idea. You use it repeatedly, but how can you be so sure that you have figured out this key component of consciousness? But I won't bother trying to discredit this claim, since it doesn't apply to anything I have asserted. Again, for something to be mental in nature does not imply that it is self-conscious. To use the example I have already used to illustrate this point: picture a tree in your mind. This tree is mental in nature, although we can probably safely assert that it possesses no element of consciousness in its own right.

You sort of alienate reality and consciousness, cause your mindly efforts tries to know how it can be aware of reality, OUTSIDE of or WITHOUT our consciousness.

This is like pondering what thinking would be like and what thoughts we would have without a brain.

I don't think that is a very good approach. Outside our brain, there is nothing WE can think of or be aware of.

Right. Hence, we cannot make a definitive statement as to the nature of external reality, since by definition is eludes all of our attempts to grasp it. Hence, we cannot say definitively that external reality is not mental in nature.
 
  • #32
CJames
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I suppose the part of your argument I'm not grasping is what you mean by "mental in nature." What is it that makes something mental? A tree that exists only in my imagination is clearly my creation, and I can change it at will. It doesn't need to have mass, it doesn't follow any rules I don't want it too.

A tree that exists from two perspectives does not behave in this manner. It obeys a rigid set of laws. What is mental about this tree? It is true that it is only experienced "mentally," but so what? Everything is experienced mentally, but mental is usually used to describe something occurring within one person's conciousness. I don't consider something mental unless it is created within my own conciousness. While the "image" of the tree is in fact mental (ie, I created it, albiet subconsciously), the image of the tree from my friend's perspective is not my creation. Also, my image and his/her image of the tree are different. The images are independently formed.

What about the tree can we agree upon? The part that we refer to as physical. Its weight, its mass, the wavelength it emmits, its volume etc. ad infinitum. This is the thing about the tree that neither of us created. It is not an image and therefore, at least by my definition, not mental. It is true from all perspectives, (except those we would call insane or illogical etc.)

These properties are knowable values, they are in no way "alien." True, we must form an image of the scale that gives us the tree's weight, but we both see the same value. Physical properties are in fact far from alien as they are the only things any two people can agree upon.

We cannot be aware of an existence outside awareness, obviously. What we can be aware of is physical attributes. I realize I'm being repetetive here, and that is primarily for the sake of giving you as many different ways of seeing my point as I can give.
 
  • #33
Royce
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Again the only way that we have of verifying that anything exists outside of our mind is by comparing our perceptions with that of another or others and assume that their perceptions are the same as ours. We then can conclude that it does in fact exist out side of ourselves. This is a definition of objective reality. To put it in other words, objective reality is an assumption that a consensus reached of properties by different observeres verifies thr existence of objects outside of ourselvs.
If we then say that that object is real and exists in reality, objective reality then becomes an assumed consensus of perceived properties. I say assumed consensus because we assume others are percieving the same that we are perceiving, e.g. their red is actually the same as my red etc.

In short objective reality is based on assumptions supported by public or intersocial perceptions. Public or as I put it intersocial perceptions are based on the supported assumptions that there are other consciousnesses that exist outside of myself and their perceptions are very similar to my perceptions.

That is a lot of assumptions to make for such a fundmental and staunchly held and defended paradigm as objective reality or objective materialism.

As I said in other threads. Reality is sujective, of the mind, mental, whether a public collective consensus or individual perception. Without a mind or minds to percieve the objective and/or material its existence or nonexistence is moot, unknown and unknowable and of no meaning or consequence.

To discuss the ojective without the sujective is meaningless.
To put it more simply, The material is nothing and is meaningless without a mind to see it and know it.
 
  • #34
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CJames,
The paradigm of Objective reality would have us suppose that the material exists primarily, and eventually organizes itself into the brain, which in turn "generates" mental events. As such, these generated mental events exist only in the brain/mind. When I say objective reality is perhaps mental in nature, basically what I am trying to say is that perhaps these mental precepts are not secondary events generated ex nihilo by the brain, but rather that objective reality itself is mental-- ie that mental things are not "generated" secondarily, but exist primarily as the fundamental 'stuff' or substance that reality is comprised of. This paradigm is entirely logically consistent, since everything that we suppose is objective is ultimately only known as subjective.

For instance, look at the virtual reality posited in 'The Matrix.' Events in the Matrix are completely indistinguishable from 'true' Objective reality, even though there is no underlying Objective reality to which the virtual matrix reality corresponds. You may object that the virtual reality does indeed correspond to an objective component, ie the internal states of the computer system itself which generates the Matrix. But note that in this situation, even the so-called primary qualities which are supposed to exist in objective reality itself, such as extension (as opposed to a secondary quality such as color) do not exist meaningfully in an objective sense; there is no spoon that objectively exists as an object that is 6 inches long, there are only a set of minds that concur that there is a spoon which is 6 inches long. In actuality, the property that there is a spoon which is 6 inches long is precisely the common property of a set of brains that perceive it as such.

The fact that objective reality is logically consistent across a range of observors does not disqualify it from being mental in nature. For instance, suppose via some futuristic device that you and your friends can directly inhabit a world that I picture in my mind. As long as my concentration is good enough, I can make this entirely mental world act as logically consistently as the objective reality we all know and love.
 
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CJames
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
CJames,
The paradigm of Objective reality would have us suppose that the material exists primarily, and eventually organizes itself into the brain, which in turn "generates" mental events. As such, these generated mental events exist only in the brain/mind.
Yes, basically. It's important to understand, however, the difference between the brain and the mind. There is more than two views, as well. The Objective paradigm, or materialist/physicalist view, is that only the brain exists. The subjective view is that only mind exists. But don't forget about duality. I don't really consider myself a dualist either, however I believe the mind and brain coexist. The mind is not a material object, but rather an emmergent behaviour. It is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. As FZ was talking about earlier, chaos/complexity theory is showing that systems of particles show behavior not found in the particles themselves. I am essentially a materialist, but a materialist would argue only the particles exist. I dissagree, as the behavior of the particles exists as well. This behavior is, in the case of the brain and all its requirements, what we call the mind.

When I say objective reality is perhaps mental in nature, basically what I am trying to say is that perhaps these mental precepts are not secondary events generated ex nihilo by the brain, but rather that objective reality itself is mental-- ie that mental things are not "generated" secondarily, but exist primarily as the fundamental 'stuff' or substance that reality is comprised of.
If mental things aren't generated then they cannot be created by choice. Deterministic subjectivity? I don't think so.

This paradigm is entirely logically consistent, since everything that we suppose is objective is ultimately only known as subjective.
Wrong, as long as we avoid solipsism. A factor that can be agreed upon is objective, and that's that. Is suppose it's not Objective (big O), whatever that means, but it's definitely objective. The color, texture, etc of the tree is subjective. But wavelength, mass, etc are completely and entirely objective.

For instance, look at the virtual reality posited in 'The Matrix.' Events in the Matrix are completely indistinguishable from 'true' Objective reality, even though there is no underlying Objective reality to which the virtual matrix reality corresponds.
First off, you're a little off considering that events such as a human hovering in the air are distinguishable from reality, but that's not really the point now is it? :wink: No, the matrix reality is not a so called Objective reality. Why? Because it's not big enough to hold your brain within it. The brain still exists externally to the system.

You may object that the virtual reality does indeed correspond to an objective component, ie the internal states of the computer system itself which generates the Matrix. But note that in this situation, even the so-called primary qualities which are supposed to exist in objective reality itself, such as extension (as opposed to a secondary quality such as color) do not exist meaningfully in an objective sense; there is no spoon that objectively exists as an object that is 6 inches long, there are only a set of minds that concur that there is a spoon which is 6 inches long. In actuality, the property that there is a spoon which is 6 inches long is precisely the common property of a set of brains that perceive it as such.
The reason this is different from your proposition is that this 6-inch spoon is not mental in nature, it is created by a system that obeys strict rules (though not entirely strict according to the plot).

The fact that objective reality is logically consistent across a range of observors does not disqualify it from being mental in nature.
Again, there is no definition here of what is mental.

For instance, suppose via some futuristic device that you and your friends can directly inhabit a world that I picture in my mind. As long as my concentration is good enough, I can make this entirely mental world act as logically consistently as the objective reality we all know and love.
That is probably your fundamental misunderstanding. It is impossible for you to concentrate hard enough to simultaneously run the equations for gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces across all the subotomic particles in the universe, keeping in mind all the equations of quantum mechanics, relativity, and theories as yet unfinished. You could show your friends a tree, but it wouldn't be the same as the objective tree (little o).

Re-read my post above, I think you may have missed some points. Although at the same time I must admit you have forced me to think a great deal about this.
 

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