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Stop Saying Everything Is An Illusion!

  1. Aug 28, 2008 #1
    Nothing annoys me more than when I read 5,000 threads on this forum about how everything is an illusion.

    Oh, you're not really breathing. That's just an illusion!
    Oh, you're not really eating. That's just an illusion!
    Oh, you stabbed yourself in the eye and are bleeding profusely. But that's just an illusion!

    It seems to be the mantra for people who think they're talking like they're sophisticated. But it's really simple minded and authoritative. If you ask them to prove that something is an illusion they'll just give you a convoluted response with some meaningless jargon. Here's a thought, get original.

    Ok, just so this topic stays within the guidelines all of you illusionists need to provide some evidence for why you think every thing is an illusion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2008 #2
    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! This thread is an illusion!
  4. Aug 28, 2008 #3
  5. Aug 29, 2008 #4
  6. Aug 30, 2008 #5
    The man behind the curtain is suffering from the illusion that he is Dr Johnson.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  7. Aug 30, 2008 #6
    It's easy to show that everything is an illusion because no two people even see everyday objects the same way, so everything could be said to be an illusion.

    Locke claim that certain properties of things we see are totally subjective to human beings. I agree they are subjective but I disagree that they are any less "real" than the "shape" of objects themselves (see relevant threaed on forum).
  8. Aug 30, 2008 #7
    That doesn't prove something is an illusion though. That just proves humans are selectively bias and deluded at times.

    What properties though? If this were the case, then nothing would make sense to us.
  9. Aug 30, 2008 #8
    It's just a cop out answer to me. It's like a bumper sticker slogan. It's easy to spout and you don't really need to think about what you're saying. Lets not forget that this statement is using the fallacy of the stolen concept because in order to say something is an illusion, you need a frame of reference on what is real to begin with.
  10. Aug 30, 2008 #9
    I think it certainly does show that things are not the way we see them, and are interpretations are often misleading.

    Illusion: "something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. "

    This could then lead to the belief that they don't exist.

    Scientists actually do have to worry about things like this when they are talking about things we cannot observe by simple viewing, such as electrons.

    I think it shows (not "proves") that humans cannot trust what they see all that much, they have to look for properties.

    It was because scientists mistook what they saw from actual truth that Aristotelian physics lasted for as long as it did (thousands of years). I think a good scientist knows nothing is 100%, and while some things are assumed in certain conditions, everything is up for question.

    The Secondary Qualities.

    Locke said that secondary qualities like color, sound, and so on, are merely products of the human mind, and that without life, they wouldn't exist.

    This was a better theory than what had existed at the time and while it was shown to be invalid, it nevertheless lead to an advancement in science.
  11. Aug 30, 2008 #10
    It's worth clarifying the difference between what is an illusion and what simply does not exist. These two are not the same thing at all. I accept that my perception of some "thing" can be skewed, incomplete, inaccurate and occasionally plain wrong, but I reject that the "thing" does not exist. If a "thing" elicits a perception on my part then this "thing" affects me at least in this regard and therefore it must exist. The problem is to arrive at a correct recognition of what exactly the "thing" truly is. This is a different question.
  12. Aug 30, 2008 #11
    Yes, I agree. I don't agree that the table in front of me "doesn't exist," although some philosophers claim that when no one is looking at it it isn't there and so on. I believe what they do is start out with the illusion, and then go to claim nothing exists.

    I disagree, but I don't think you can ever really "prove" a table or a chair exists, either.

    I mean, crazy people hear voices and see things and feel things, but we do not say they have special abilities, we say they are insane. Likewise, there is an infinitely small chance that everybody is experiencing the tables and chairs in the same way. Or, maybe they actually exist somewhere else.

    The point is, I do believe reality exists, that the chair and table exist, I just don't think you can ever really "prove" that they exist, and while I don't think anybody will ever prove they don't exist I believe it is something that is theoretically possible.
  13. Aug 30, 2008 #12
    I cannot prove it to you but I can prove it to myself. This is simply an extension of "I think therefore I am" where I know without any doubt that I exist but I don't know exactly what I am. Well, that table is the same thing. It may be a physical object external to my body or it may be nothing more than a misfired neuron inside my brain. But whatever it is, it matters to me and therefore it exists. I don't know for sure what it is but I do know that it exists.

    By the way, even if it's only a misfired neuron in my own brain and you cannot see it, it does matter to you as well. This is because it affects me and in turn I affect you through my actions and/or my words which are influenced by my perception of this table. So indirectly, that table that I see matters to you as well because you are indirectly affected by it. The table exists for you too. You just don't know exactly what it is anymore than I do, and you may not even be aware of its existence if I don't tell you about it. But, want it or not, you are affected by it.
  14. Aug 30, 2008 #13
    Basically I think the same way. I would just call it the most rational belief; I wouldn't use the term proof. For instance, if I asked someone to pass me the table salt, and he did, I would perceive that he understood my question. But, he may have just decided to pass it to me at that moment. I could question him, but he may just be responded "yes" to my questions.

    I think this is the same kind of reasoning I am using to deny that the table absolutely exists, there is an easy escape. I would just say, I ratioanlly exist, and therefore the table I see rationally exists.

    To give further evidence, I could ask someone else if they see it, and many people do ask others if they are not sure they just saw something. The point is you could always be doubtful about your perceptions and observations, and if there is doubt, nothing is really "proven."

    What you say certainly makes a lot of sense, I just disagree on the semantics.
  15. Aug 30, 2008 #14
    Actually, you would infer that he understood. You know for sure about your perception that someone passed the salt so you know for sure that "something" happened. The rest is your interpretation of this perception.

    I agree. :smile:

    In the end, it makes absolutely no difference if the reality I experience is truly as it seems or if it's an illusion. The table I imagine is too far from my delusionary window. I hallucinate that I apply a horizontal force to it, which results in an illusional acceleration proportional to that force and the inexistant table ends up near the window, or so I think. From this dream I see that this false acceleration is proportional to the imaginary force and inversely proportional to the non-table's mass. Cool, my imaginary f=ma equation models my virtual reality and is therefore quite useful to me. Dream science works just as well as if it were real. What else do I need to know?
  16. Aug 31, 2008 #15


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    Er... I work with electrons all the time, since that is the particle I try to accelerate. Can you tell me where I'm worrying about them, or their "interpretation"? In none of my papers that dealt with electrons, be it in a particle accelerator or photoelectrons that hit a detector, there were NEVER any argument or disagreement that these WERE electrons.

  17. Aug 31, 2008 #16
    I don't think you can ever really "prove" a table or chair exists either? The question you must answer here is what does it mean to exist in the first place? If someone or something has a physical body of any kind(or existing being) existing anywhere in the physical universe right now then they or it exist. If a table or chair has a physical body existing anywhere in the physical universe today this would prove either one exists.

    If your still not sure either one exists just lift either one above your head and then release your grip on it.
  18. Aug 31, 2008 #17


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    Those two paragraphs contradict each other.

    The basic problem is your definition of "illusion" in the first is wrong. Observations differ between observers: that means they are relative, but it has nothing to do with whether or not they are real.
    A person who sees differing observations and concludes that they must not be real is simply beeing fooled and choosing to assume things are illusory instead of trying to learn if it is really true. One with a scientific mind looks for (and eventually finds) how the differing observations are related. Ie, with things like Relativity.

    These threads are really tiring. We probably need to ban this topic - it's just drivel, not philosophy.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  19. Aug 31, 2008 #18
    Then try it again while in orbit on the ISS.


    above your head?

  20. Aug 31, 2008 #19
    "above your head?" Yes Alfi if someone who is not crazy thinks a table or chair might be a illusion they should do what I said and this will prove to them that the table or chair exists and were not a illusion. Discussions like this give philosophy a bad name.
  21. Sep 1, 2008 #20
    Consciousness is an illusion . Maybe this is what people wanna say when they say everything is an illusion.
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