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Reality as Perception and Experience

  1. Nov 11, 2007 #1
    thought it would be cool to put this here to get some input from other people and possibly people who have a much beefier academic record than myself :p

    Basically my thesis for my philosophy course: we can only know reality from experience and perception.

    my arguments are:
    humans have a natural flaw which forces them to interpret data as soon as it is experienced. (John Searle's status functions are my main proof)

    If we look at t Jean Baudrillard's hyperreality we can realize what a HIGH level simulation would be like and using George Berkley and The Matrix i conclude that we can conclude that we may be in a type of simulation.

    Then to tie it up i use Kant and his phenomena and noumena to conclude saying that the only reality we can know is of perception and experience and as wittgenstein said 'Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent' which is what kant defines as the noumena

    sooo rip it apart help it out do whatever :D
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2007 #2
    Stick with Berkeley. "The Matrix" is pablum.
    You don't need Kant... for much anything.... Plato's allegory of the cave works quite well.
    For everything else, just read Hume. Kant is unnecessary and in many ways regressive.
  4. Nov 14, 2007 #3
    yeah i see what your saying about the matrix being pablum but i have to give a seminar as well and 'im sure nearly everyone has seen the matrix (first movie) so it would be easier to compare to that then to try to make them imagine hypothetical situations

    and at first i was going to take Hume but my teacher suggested to tackle Kant instead... is there any reason why Hume would be better than Kant? as far as i knew kant basically expands on what hume states and alters his conclusion somewhat to include reason
  5. Nov 14, 2007 #4
    My big problem with the movie is it sprinkles in an equal portion of mysticism with its philosophy 101 understanding of the mind/body problem. If you are trying to address 'real' philosophy it is just as likely to confuse people. A better intro.... with regards to serious philosophy is always Descartes' meditations, which includes plenty of examples, or Plato's cave.

    Actually, Kant is a bookend to the enlightenment (age of reason) and a lead-in for romantic and existential irrationalism. He agrees with Hume on quite a lot. And he even credits Hume with waking him from a 'dogmatic slumber'. There are real problems however, read: controversies, with Kant though. The best starting point for modern philosophy is Descartes, then Hume. Many philosophers skip Kant altogether. Although it is good to read him, since many later philosophers spend time refuting or commenting on what he said. Hume is much more solid ground, philosophically. Hume is all about reason.

    I can understand recommending Kant, but it baffles me that someone would tell you to read Kant INSTEAD of Hume. Its like telling you to read Roger Ebert's review of the Matrix instead of seeing it yourself.

    And I did like the original movie...but mainly for the special effects.
  6. Nov 15, 2007 #5
    I agree and love Descartes. Hume is fine, just fine whereas Kant is a bit abstruse. Can anyone point out why he becomes less solid than David Hume?
  7. Nov 16, 2007 #6
    The first 50 minutes of "The Matrix" is a good example because many people have seen it and it is a relatively complete scenario.

    Notice Wittgenstein forbade us from saying anything about the noumenal, but Kant could not resist saying it exists based on his idea that all of our knowledge must start with the experience of some external thing.

    Take your thesis a step further: everything you ever experience is a part of yourself, and the only question is whether there is something out there (Kant), nothing (Berkley), or cant say (Wittgenstein).

    Hume leaves us in the cesspit of skepticism, and Kant tries to rescue us by his mapping the a priori necessary logical inference rules onto the world e.g. modus ponens -> causality.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2007
  8. Nov 17, 2007 #7
    Sorry! - this probably isn't going to help your thesis as it's a personal observation. The 'opposite' of experience is experiencing. An experience is something that has ended and then rationalised, whereas experiencing is that which occurs prior to rationalising (or is that rationalisation)(ideally, experiencing, like Reality, never ends). As such, I would say that human communication with Reality is that which occurs whilst experiencing - it is Rational Thought that completely removes us from this communication. Whilst thinking about reality we become removed from it but whilst experiencing reality we are simply a part of it. This is why science/religion/philosophy are 'descriptions' of Reality and not reflections of it.
    A 'Description of Reality' is as meaningful as the 'sound of a taste!'
    Reality is something you do, forever!
    Rational Thought shatters the Unity of Reality into Infinite shards of information.
    everything I've just written is a lie
    the word 'whilst' does not exist
    if it does it shouldn't
  9. Nov 17, 2007 #8
    Better to rule in the cesspit than serve in the noumenal.
  10. Nov 17, 2007 #9
    Well, that is your opinion. Kant is still impressive and Hume is still sceptic. Each hath their own outstanding achievement. Unless we are professional philosophers, we cannot totally understand them.
  11. Nov 17, 2007 #10
    Professional philosopher?
  12. Nov 17, 2007 #11
    Means people who long time research philosophy, such as Jean Wahl, Alexander Koyre, or other people from Universities.
  13. Nov 17, 2007 #12
    Do my philosophy professors count?
  14. Nov 18, 2007 #13
    ok maybe i will just leave out The Matrix from my essay but i have to do a seminar on my topic as well so i may include it (i'm only in a highschool course... talking about 'serious' philosophy would more or less put everyone to sleep :D)

    and i don't think it really matters which (out of kant and hume) is 'better' as long as i can state WHY one should take precedent over the other. And from what my teacher has explained of the Kant/Hume relationship he merely takes what Hume wrote to it's more logical conclusion instead of leaving us in a more sceptic state. I haven't actually read alot of hume as my teacher suggested Kant instead so could someone state why Hume's position is of more value. i'll try to get a copy of his treatise (i'm assuming this would be whati want to read)

    I think the line of thought i'm going with is that we just can't say (so wittgenstein)

    I should also point out that my paper is going to be like an actual philosophical paper and not a conclusion i derive from reading other philosophers (Although it may look like that)
    the reason i'm reading the philosophers is because they closely follow my line of thought i originally had when developing my thesis :D so it's like refining my ideas with stuff THEY said not this is what they said, get what i'm sayin? haha.
  15. Nov 19, 2007 #14
    In that case, I'd just be careful you explain the part of the movie that applies.
    It depends on the teacher, but if that is what the teacher is telling you and you want a good mark, best to stick with Kant. As long as you realize that there are plenty of philosophers who would disagree with your teacher. Many would say Kant goes too far and skepticism is the only logical stance.
    Hume lays the foundation.
    Kant raises objections to this, and gives his own two cents.
    Its not that Kant is of less value per se, its more that Kant is optional, a secondary source, while Hume really represents the essence of the Enlightenment.
    Kant is still an important philosopher.

    "An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding" is a better place to start with Hume.
  16. Nov 19, 2007 #15
    yeah that's cool :D gonna go to the library tonight hopefully

    since i'm assuming most people agree my arguments are logical and will work i've made some objections and responses (we need to point them out in the essay in a sorta argument objection response, then conclude at the end of doing this)

    i haven't been able to really find a solid objection to my first argument though any help would be appreciated :D I thought that this could work : society doesn't place the functions on the objects they are more or less found because the form of the object makes it rational for it to be that way.
    and my response would just be that because we deem it to be 'rational' necessarily makes it a status function.

    for my second arguement i just used hilary putnam's 'I am a brain-in-a-vat is self refuting therfore i'm necessarily not a brain in a vat'
    response would just be that it would be logically plausible that some mad scientist may give us this idea that it is self-refuting and therfore not true. we just don't know.

    and for the third argument i've put i haven't found a objection to fit my essay hmm
  17. Nov 19, 2007 #16
    I don't know Searle's work well enough to comment on that. But you might attack your first argument with scientific rationalism or empiricism, that is, perception and experience may be a limiting factor, but reasoning and the consistency of experience balance out the equation and allow us to overcome most of these limitations.

    Similarly attacking the brain in a vat theory can be criticized with something like occam's razor. Also, this sort of thought experiment is generally used in discussions of 'knowledge' or what can be known, NOT when discussing what actually exists. (One of the problems with the matrix is that the story conflates the question of what exists and what can be known about what exists) The level of detail that we experience in every day life makes the mad scientist theory very hard to swallow... in terms of actual existence. Simulating something in such detail.... to encompass a whole human life... would require quite alot of effort. One could say it might be easier to just create that life and let it run its course.

    An objection to the third is that we can discuss noumena, the same way we discuss gravity. We can describe it via its effects. We may not know much about it, but we can infer things about its nature based on how it interacts with our senses and what we know about our senses. You should remember that Kant is religious, and his interest is in putting god back into the picture. Noumena opens up a realm for god to sit in, and even though he goes to great pains to say things like 'if god exists', god is really what Kant is getting at with most of his 'critiques'.
  18. Nov 19, 2007 #17
    just a question what is scientific rationalism? who should i read up? never heard of this one before.

    Occam's razor... never really looked into it before. Is this that principle that the 'simplest' solution is the best one? So like for existence the theory of our existence that requires the least amount of assumptions etc. etc. is the best one? I would not know how to weigh the factors in each of the theories or how to refute it in my response to it lol :D

    that's a good objection for the noumena never thought about it. Obviously something interacts with our senses to make us perceive things discussing it's effects it has on our senses would in turn make us gain knowledge of it right?
    a response to this could merely be that we can only reason on the noumena through our senses based on what we have already sensed of it. (after experience... like in platos cave)
  19. Nov 19, 2007 #18
    If they are famous like Koyre or Levinas, then yes, otherwise no.
    Just like we shall count Lord Acton as a Great Historian rather than my professor.
  20. Nov 19, 2007 #19
    hey how about you leave ranting about what makes who count for what for another thread. kkthx?
  21. Nov 19, 2007 #20
    It is not my original intension. It is Joe intension. Now would you shut up and keep going? You are supposed to understand philosophy, not brickering around in a foolish manner and tell people ranting.
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