Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

True existence is that which is perceived by all minds?

  1. Jun 25, 2009 #1
    Let's say that every being in the universe, including me, believed that I could float up into the sky like a soap bubble, would I?

    Who would be there to say I would not?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2009 #2

    If you can't float up in the sky, what does it matter what someone or all the people believed? Or are you saying that if everyone was crazy and dreaming/hallucinating something that fundamentally did not exist or was not as it manifested to our minds, this would become a sort of consentual reality indistinguishable from what we'd regard as true reality?

    We can only test our logic with our logic and that's a severe limitation.
  4. Jun 25, 2009 #3

    Yes, every single being was hallucinating, or something of that sort.
  5. Jun 25, 2009 #4
    There are many gaps in the capacity of human perception and there are examples of things which we 'see' or believe we 'see' that are not necessarily reality. Human perception is not the end all and be all of conceptual reality.
  6. Jun 25, 2009 #5
    Why would that be the case? Let's say everybody in the room believed you can, would that make it so? What if you believe you can and you're the only one in the room?
  7. Jun 25, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Its not about belief but having a reason to believe.

    A belief implies a choice, a chance reality could be otherwise. And bad beliefs - bad models - are found out in the long run.
  8. Jun 25, 2009 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    There is a missing element in your logic.

    Everyone in the universe believes you can float.
    You try to float.
    You fail.

    Note though, that - them believing you could float - does not directly translate into them seeing you float and subsequently believing that you did float.

    They would need to succumb to a second delusion for that to happen.

    Alternately, they would observe that their belief was flawed, and would have the opportunity to change their minds.

    A more airtight question is:
    Unfortunately, this doesn't empower you to float either.
  9. Jun 25, 2009 #8
    I was just about to make the same point that Dave just made. It would be better had this been in the past tense. So everyone believes I did float up in to the sky.

    I don't think that this makes it true (objectively) that you did float or even that you could ever float. It does however make it real. Why does it have to be everyone on the world though... We all live in our own realities I think with a lot of common ground (since we are all built similarily)

    So yes it is possible that to me it is real that I can shoot lasers out of my eyes... alas, it isn't truth (objectively) though.

    Then what is truth and does it even exist? A whole other thread.
  10. Jun 26, 2009 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I tihnk that's the point of thread. Is there any such thing as 'objectivity' beyond 'what everyone in the universe thinks'.
  11. Jun 26, 2009 #10

    Agreed, our objectivity is subjective. It would have been hilarious if it wasn't sad.
  12. Jun 26, 2009 #11
    So what you're implying is that objectivity comes from the collection of all subjective perceptions?
  13. Jun 30, 2009 #12
    Yes, I understood the point of the OP.

    My point however is that we can't just assume 'objective truth'. We're smarter than that I hope. Considering we here in this thread acknowledge that all truth is subjective we shouldn't posit that it's also objective.

    If objective truths do exist I feel we will never 'know' of them.
  14. Jun 30, 2009 #13
    I just realized something.
    This question is kind of similar to the age old question "If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?"
  15. Jun 30, 2009 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Not really. Yours is a fair bit more simplistic, and is quite answerable with some conditions placed on it.

    Itr is only ambiguous semantically: "what does one mean by 'sound'?" Once one determines what sound is, the answer follows directly.

    The tree makes vibrations in the air. They become sounds when they are interpreted by a creature.
  16. Jun 30, 2009 #15
    You're right, I was thinking about it a certain way.

    I must say, I got myself over my head with this one.
    I am only 14 :p
  17. Jun 30, 2009 #16


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    14? Jeez. I wish I was participating in physics discussions when I was 14! I think I was still playing with GI Joes! :approve:
  18. Jun 30, 2009 #17
    Yeah, my debating skills aren't quite high enough to really get across my point.
  19. Jul 1, 2009 #18
    Yes, if we would be talking about the third man argument., but that would go into infinite.

    Sound is not the point. What is important in this metaphor is about reality in the sense of that-which-exists-with-or-without-conscious-awareness-of-its-existence. True existence is that what you see and do not see. It does not matter if conscious wasn't there to hear the tree fall. The tree was there, then it fell. How do I know this? Walking along a road I saw the same tree that fell. Deduction does the rest. The point is it does not even have to prove it's own existance. It exists and that's it.
  20. Jul 1, 2009 #19

    what if you were blind ?

  21. Jul 1, 2009 #20
    We could stumble over the tree.:biggrin:
  22. Jul 1, 2009 #21
    Or even better, the tree starts dancing and I can't see it! That would suck.
  23. Jul 1, 2009 #22
    Hooray for dancing trees!

    But back to the topic :]
    do you believe if every being in the universe believed I was floating like a soap bubble, would it be construed as reality?
  24. Jul 3, 2009 #23

    If you were a soap bubble.:wink:
  25. Jul 3, 2009 #24
    Well it may be contrued as reality to a certain subset or viewing population, just like many people beleive religion is reality and there are many others who believe it doesn't constitute reality, but by definition reality is:

    1. the state or quality of being real.
    2. resemblance to what is real.
    3. a real thing or fact.

    therefore its not real, and therefore it is not reality? I don't see the point in your argument as it makes no logical sense that an entire population of peoples could believe you were floating in the sky in a magic bubble....
  26. Jul 3, 2009 #25
    The example is far fetched. But hey, do you believe that people can walk on water? Can you PROVE that it has NEVER happened?

    It reminds me of the novel 1984, where they can change history to be whatever they need it to be. It then becomes REAL because they population has been trained to just accept these changes to history (what used to be reality).

    Of course it's not the fundamental reality, but who cares, seeing as we can only know the world through perception anyways.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook