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Thread: Philosophical musings of science, reality, blind men and elephants

  1. #391
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Just because a reality can be modeled by the mind, does not make it dependent on the mind.
    The point is not that reality can be modeled by the mind, the point is, everything we talk about, when we talk about reality, is a model by the mind! There is no difference whatsoever between "reality" and "reality as modeled by the mind". If you think there is a difference, please tell me what you mean when you use the term "reality" that is not going to be a model by your mind.

  2. #392
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Then it would have to be said that you are also assuming a mind dependent model when you speak of 'physical reality'.

    This is the point we've been discussing in this thread .. and I don't believe there is any confusion (yet) … just an unwillingness and a sense of hesitation to acknowledge the inescapability of a 'mind dependent reality'.
    (Which means precisely what it looks as though it means, by the way).
    That reality doesn't exist without a mind observing it? Because that's what it looks like, and that is solipsism. The only reason to refer to our sensorium as a mind "dependent" reality is that it's our minds sensing it; we recursively define our universe around our place in it, typical H. Sapiens narcissism.
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  3. #393
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    The point is not that reality can be modeled by the mind, the point is, everything we talk about, when we talk about reality, is a model by the mind! There is no difference whatsoever between "reality" and "reality as modeled by the mind". If you think there is a difference, please tell me what you mean when you use the term "reality" that is not going to be a model by your mind.
    What exists when we're not observing it.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  4. #394
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    What exists when we're not observing it.
    And yet that is a perfect example of a model by your mind. Just dissect the words you chose: "exists" plays a key role in your sentence. Indeed, I would argue that your statement really doesn't mean anything until we also know what you mean by that word, and that is going to invoke mental models. But even if we imagine we understand what you mean by "exists", and set aside the mental modeling required by that term, we can also look at the word "we," and try to understand the mental models invoked there. I asked earlier in the thread: "what are you"? I was told "a human being", but I said I'm not looking for a categorization that would allow me to sort you from any other object in the room with you right now, I want to know what you are. So I put that question to you now as well.

    But the mind-dependence of what you mean by "we" and "exist" are themselves separate issues, for this point it suffices to concentrate on the key word "observe," and the faulty logic that mind dependence requires that something must vanish when not observed. What aspect of mind dependence do you think forces that upon us? Certainly nothing in how I've use the term, or Len, or d'Espagnat. What we all mean by "observe", including you I'm sure, is something you "perceive by using your senses." Clearly, perceiving with your senses is using your mind, so your implication is that if something you are currently observing is involving your mind, then it must follow that something you are not currently observing is not involving your mind. But that logic does not follow, because right now you are not observing a horse, and you are not observing a schmelisquat. So what makes the horse exist, and the schmelisquat not exist, since you are equally "not observing" both of them right now? The answer can only be one thing: the difference is that you have actually observed horses, or been exposed to other minds that have observed horses, in the past. That is why a "horse" is always a mind dependent concept, it makes no difference if you are currently observing one, nor is there any requirement that noticing that a horse is a mind-dependent concept requires that it should vanish when you stop observing it. This is the problem-- why do people think it follows that if X is clearly mind dependent when I am observing it, it can only still be mind-dependent when I am not observing it if it magically vanishes? But there is no such requirement, nothing about "mind dependence" as it is defined in this thread requires that in the least, nor does it seem to be true for most mind-dependent things. Some mind-dependent things vanish when not being observed, others don't, but they are all just as mind dependent, because their existence relies on the mind at some point, and that suffices to make them mind-dependent.

  5. #395
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And yet that is a perfect example of a model by your mind. Just dissect the words you chose: "exists" plays a key role in your sentence. Indeed, I would argue that your statement really doesn't mean anything until we also know what you mean by that word, and that is going to invoke mental models.
    If you don't have a definition of existence that does not require observers, you don't have a definition of existence. You have a definition of yourself looking in a mirror.

    As I said, just because something invokes mental models does not mean it is defined or limited by them; perceptual mental models are just our reaction to something.
    But even if we imagine we understand what you mean by "exists", and set aside the mental modeling required by that term, we can also look at the word "we," and try to understand the mental models invoked there. I asked earlier in the thread: "what are you"? I was told "a human being", but I said I'm not looking for a categorization that would allow me to sort you from any other object in the room with you right now, I want to know what you are. So I put that question to you now as well.
    I can't put it into words. I'm not the mechanic, I only drive the damn thing.


    But the mind-dependence of what you mean by "we" and "exist" are themselves separate issues, for this point it suffices to concentrate on the key word "observe," and the faulty logic that mind dependence requires that something must vanish when not observed. What aspect of mind dependence do you think forces that upon us? Certainly nothing in how I've use the term, or Len, or d'Espagnat. What we all mean by "observe", including you I'm sure, is something you "perceive by using your senses." Clearly, perceiving with your senses is using your mind, so your implication is that if something you are currently observing is involving your mind, then it must follow that something you are not currently observing is not involving your mind. But that logic does not follow, because right now you are not observing a horse, and you are not observing a schmelisquat. So what makes the horse exist, and the schmelisquat not exist, since you are equally "not observing" both of them right now? The answer can only be one thing: the difference is that you have actually observed horses, or been exposed to other minds that have observed horses, in the past. That is why a "horse" is always a mind dependent concept, it makes no difference if you are currently observing one, nor is there any requirement that noticing that a horse is a mind-dependent concept requires that it should vanish when you stop observing it. This is the problem-- why do people think it follows that if X is clearly mind dependent when I am observing it, it can only still be mind-dependent when I am not observing it if it magically vanishes? But there is no such requirement, nothing about "mind dependence" as it is defined in this thread requires that in the least, nor does it seem to be true for most mind-dependent things.
    Then your definition needs fine-tuning.

    Some mind-dependent things vanish when not being observed, others don't, but they are all just as mind dependent, because their existence relies on the mind at some point, and that suffices to make them mind-dependent.
    I'm calling shenanigans. Things that are in our minds are mind-dependent; all others, get along just fine without us.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  6. #396
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I can't put it into words. I'm not the mechanic, I only drive the damn thing.
    ...
    Then your definition needs fine-tuning.
    ...
    I'm calling shenanigans. Things that are in our minds are mind-dependent; all others, get along just fine without us.
    Curious ...

    Why is such a self-evident, yet deep distiction, met with such a complete and utter rejection?

    I don't get this reaction(?) ...

  7. #397
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Curious ...

    Why is such a self-evident, yet deep distiction, met with such a complete and utter rejection?

    I don't get this reaction(?) ...
    What part of what I rejected do you consider self-evident?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Then your definition needs fine-tuning.
    No it doesn't, changing a definition does not make the question go away. The question here has never been the correct wording of the label to hang on what we mean by reality, the issue has always been what role does the mind play in providing the word "reality" with its meaning. I've demonstrated that role, I've shown how inescapable that role is, and you want to debate the definition of "mind dependent"?
    Things that are in our minds are mind-dependent; all others, get along just fine without us.
    What "others" are you talking about? I need examples. Remember, "mind dependent" means that our minds are involved-- it means the thing has no meaning without our minds. It certainly does not mean the thing has to cease to exist as soon as we stop thinking about it, that is not what I mean by "mind dependent". The issue here has never been the straw man you keep returning to, the issue is simply, what role does our mind play in providing the word "reality" with whatever meaning we can actually give to that word? Naive realism is the claim that our minds only try to learn about what is already real without our minds, so a "rock" has meaning as a rock even if no one has any idea what a rock is, and "time passes" even if no one has any concept of the passage of time. I'm pointing out the logical inconsistencies in that stance, the reasons it falls to pieces the instant one digs into it. The immediate reaction of a lot of people is to cease digging into it-- they just don't want to watch as it falls to pieces. I think the truth is more important than what we like to believe.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2013-Dec-28 at 06:01 AM.

  9. #399
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    What part of what I rejected do you consider self-evident?
    That all meanings, including those that come associated with the terms: 'reality' and 'existence', have gotten those meanings, simply because that's what the mind does, what the mind has always done, (and probably), what the mind will continue to do ...

    How could it be any other way?

    Its a very cool concept (if you ask me).

  10. #400
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    No it doesn't, changing a definition does not make the question go away. The question here has never been the correct wording of the label to hang on what we mean by reality, the issue has always been what role does the mind play in providing the word "reality" with its meaning. I've demonstrated that role, I've shown how inescapable that role is, and you want to debate the definition of "mind dependent"?
    Yes, I do. I find these demonstrations unconvincing. The role is escapable. Meaningful or meaningless has no bearing on the topic.


    What "others" are you talking about? I need examples.
    The Professor and Mary Ann; "all the rest". The parts of reality that are not mind-dependent are open-ended. It excludes only what we perceive or imagine.


    Remember, "mind dependent" means that our minds are involved-- it means the thing has no meaning without our minds.

    No. I do not agree with this definition of "meaning", it refers only to what we consider meaningful, making this just another recursive definition. We assign everything meaning according to our own minds' desires, therefore we consider our mind's meaning to be a necessary part of everything.

    The issue here has never been the straw man you keep returning to, the issue is simply, what role does our mind play in providing the word "reality" with whatever meaning we can actually give to that word?
    It is hardly a straw man. It is the inevitable conclusion of your logic.

    I'm pointing out the logical inconsistencies in that stance, the reasons it falls to pieces the instant one digs into it.
    You are trying. And failing, at least as far as I am concerned. This thread is all trunk and no elephant so far.

    I think the truth is more important than what we like to believe.
    Now that, I agree with. So let's start looking for some. Convince me, show me how subjective reality trumps objective reality, and I'll gladly bow to your expertise.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  11. #401
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    That all meanings, including those that come associated with the terms: 'reality' and 'existence', have gotten those meanings, simply because that's what the mind does, what the mind has always done, (and probably), what the mind will continue to do ...

    How could it be any other way?

    Its a very cool concept (if you ask me).
    I rejected the notion that calling something meaningful actually gives it meaning. It's just labeling, the contents of the can don't change just because there's a different logo.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  12. #402
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    The parts of reality that are not mind-dependent are open-ended. It excludes only what we perceive or imagine.
    Yes, we agree on this, but you don't see the problem this causes for everything else you are claiming. Above you claimed that what is mind-dependent must vanish when we are not perceiving or imagining it, but now you are saying that what is not mind dependent excludes only what we perceive or imagine. Do you not see the logical problem in your stance? Draw a circle and label it "mind dependent." Here you are saying that what is outside that circle excludes only what we perceive or imagine, implying that everything we perceive or imagine is inside the circle. Above you claimed that everything mind dependent must vanish when we stop perceiving or imagining it. So you've now made two claims about that circle:
    1) it contains everything we perceive and imagine, and
    2) everything inside it vanishes when we stop perceiving or imagining it.
    Hence, it is a logical syllogism that you are claiming that everything we perceive or imagine must vanish when we stop perceiving or imagining it. That is precisely the claim that I am calling into question, I say it is not at all true that everything we perceive or imagine must vanish when we cease to perceive or imagine it. What ceases is that we are currently perceiving or imagining it, but usually not the "reality" our minds attribute to the thing our mind perceived or imagined.

    So draw two circles, and label one "everything we perceive or imagine", and the other "everything that vanishes when we cease to perceive or imagine it." What relationship do those two circles have to each other? Now draw a third circle, and label it "all we are talking about when we talk about what is real." What relationship does it have to the other two circles? Now understand my claim: the "all that we are talking about when we talk about what is real" circle lies entirely within the circle of "everything we perceive or imagine."

    No. I do not agree with this definition of "meaning", it refers only to what we consider meaningful, making this just another recursive definition. We assign everything meaning according to our own minds' desires, therefore we consider our mind's meaning to be a necessary part of everything.
    Well, that second part is obviously true, so I don't see what your issue is that you refer to in the first part.
    Convince me, show me how subjective reality trumps objective reality, and I'll gladly bow to your expertise.
    That is the straw man once again. I have never said that subjective reality trumps objective reality, I've said that "objective reality" and "subjective reality", as these terms are used in science, are both completely mind dependent. You keep hearing something else, and arguing something I never said.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2013-Dec-28 at 07:41 AM.

  13. #403
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I think the confusion here is from assigning the wrong values to the phrase "mind-dependent reality", which is an inherently misleading term. Just because a reality can be modeled by the mind, does not make it dependent on the mind. The only thing dependent on the mind is the perceptual model, not the physicality that influences the formation of that perceptual model. To say that the physical reality itself is "mind-dependent" makes it sound solipsistic even if it's not. Needs A Better Name.
    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    What exists when we're not observing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    ……The parts of reality that are not mind-dependent are open-ended. It excludes only what we perceive or imagine.

    I’m not sure if you advocate naive realism (I don’t think you do) or you think that there is “something” outside of phenomena that can be imagined to have a structure, a representation of which we perceive as phenomena. Clearly you would say the phenomena is mind dependent, but it would seem that you reserve the right to describe the thing-in-itself as mind independent. I think you would agree that this is a philosophical stance in which to take because clearly we can never know what the thing-in-itself actually is, but I think you invoke that stance as a philosophical premise in which to say it can legitimately lead to a logical premise that the thing-in-itself may exist as a thing-in-itself independently of the mind. That removes the notion of solipsism for you because, from this philosophical stance, there exists an object independently of the mind. You also seem to think that mind dependent reality is a recursive definition – invoking it artificially excludes what may lay outside of it as if the definition consigns us to a mind dependent “box” from which the very definition prevents escape.

    I just wonder if in some degree you express similar issues to those I had before fine tuning my understanding of mind dependent reality in terms of this thread, so you may find my “fine tuning” to have some relevance to the views you express, even if only in a general sense since I can’t be sure what particular individual issues gives rise within you that lead to such a strong rejection of what this thread explores in terms of mind dependent reality.

    I reject radical idealism or solipsism because I consider there has to be something other than mind (as we think of mind) in which to account for (in some part) for the rules that externally govern our reality. So, for example, the scientific models we create cannot just be created according to our desires, we are constrained by “something” external to those ideas. That “something” lay outside of formal enquiry because formal enquiry very clearly is based within mind dependent reality, so my “something” is a notion pointed to by enquiry within mind dependent reality rather than it being described in terms of structure.

    This sets up a chain of reasoning that implies there to be “something” outside of mind dependent reality which invokes the notion of a mind independent reality. Having invoked such a notion of mind independent reality, the chain of reasoning can imply differing degrees of mind independent reality all the way down to naive realism whereby the rock is the same rock independently of mind and observation.

    Whilst I have no inclination to adopt such na´ve realism or any other flavour other than my “something” that is inaccessible via direct formal enquiry, I did think that such conceptions were philosophically valid ones to be taken up or not through choice. So whilst I considered that science was imprisoned within mind dependent reality and that our models had to include mind because verification can only take place with a mind, I wanted to reserve the right to “think” about what may be present outside of mind. So for example I wanted to think about what a star would have been like before humans ever came into existence. I couldn’t conceive of what that star would actually be like, but I could conceive of it being “something” existing within mind independent reality. To bring that star back into our mind dependent historical time line, all I had to do was to invoke a hypothetical human as being present on that timeline, thus converting the mind independent “something” into a mind dependent model based upon an extrapolation of our models to any point on the time line. The same procedure could be invoked in dealing with Einstein’s wish to have the moon as a moon whether we looked at it or not. For me, the moon was “something” within mind independent reality, but it was only the “moon” in terms of a hypothetical person looking at it. Exchanging the hypothetical person for a real person makes no difference, the moon outside of a hypothetical person or a real person is simply “something” that resides within mind independent reality.

    This chain of reasoning allowed me to think of “things” as having an existence outside of the mind and any notion of mind dependency, not in a sense of naive realism or similar flavours in that the moon really was a moon when we didn’t look or when we didn't invoke a hypothetical observer, more a case of there being “this” outside of mind and “that” within mind. So whilst this approach allowed me to embrace mind dependent reality, it also allowed me to think about what may “exist” outside of mind dependent reality.

    Until this thread came along of course. Because, despite much protest, invoking every argument and perspective I could possibly think of, it slowly dawned on me that Ken and Selfsim are right, everything that we invoke in terms of thought comes via mind dependency. I objected to being forcefully pushed into a “box” of mind dependency, but all my arguments against being forcefully pushed into this box are mind dependent arguments! Everything I have written above is written from within mind dependent reality, my notion of the star existing as “something” before humans came onto the scene is a “something” that can only belong within mind dependent reality. There exist no formal philosophical or scientific means in which to escape the “box”, we can only invoke “belief”, and that isn’t really much of an escape.

    So Ken is saying, rather than trying fruitlessly to escape, it may be better to embrace and explore the prison itself. As soon as you start doing that, then it becomes possible to start thinking again what may be at the root of things, not in terms of what may exist outside of the mind, rather about what distinctions there may be between "how I perceive my mind to be and what it seems to be doing in giving me my reality and sense of self" and that of "some deeper function of mind that cannot be directly accessed but may be instrumental, generically, in addressing the notion that there is “something” outside of the mind". So rather than me invoking a simplistic model of “inside” and “outside” of mind (which I think you may be doing), I can (for example) perhaps think in terms of a “global root” layer of mind that stands apart from the layer that I simplistically label as “my mind”. So we have a kind of "inside" and outside" of mind within mind.

    This kind of approach is I think one of accepting the prison box, but suddenly finding out that maybe there is a lot more to this prison than just the direct perception of the four walls. For example, have a quick look at post # 386 from Ken.
    Last edited by Len Moran; 2013-Dec-28 at 11:10 AM.

  14. #404
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    Ok, with all these lengthy posts on in this thread, my head is spinning around.

    I'll pose these questions to Ken, Len, et al:

    The imagery we have of the universe with our minds, in the shape of sensorial input/interpretation/modelling, you refer to as "mind dependent reality". The concept created by our minds of reality. This ceases to exist once the human race disappears. This is self-evident, so you probably don't mean this?

    Does mind independent reality exist in your opinion? If so, does this correspond to "reality"?

    Do you agree with this definition of reality, source Wikipedia:
    Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.[1] In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.

  15. #405
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    The imagery we have of the universe with our minds, in the shape of sensorial input/interpretation/modelling, you refer to as "mind dependent reality". The concept created by our minds of reality. This ceases to exist once the human race disappears.
    All that would cease to exist there is the humans saying that it exists, but the extent to which it would actually still exist doesn't change at all with the presence or absence of humans. Existence is what our minds say it is, it is our word-- so if we say the mind dependent reality continues to exist after we are gone, then it does, because "existence" is a word that labels a concept that our minds give meaning to, and we can give it a meaning such that existence continues after we are gone, just like the way Einstein gave meaning to the term "existence" allowed that the Moon could still do it when he was not looking. Indeed, most people's minds would indeed give it that meaning.
    Does mind independent reality exist in your opinion? If so, does this correspond to "reality"?
    No on both counts. Only mind dependent reality exists, when we use the term "exist" to be the way we approach that term in practice (especially in science), because that is exactly what we mean by the words "exist" and "reality." That is in fact the crux of the whole business-- embracing the role of our minds, which is by the way right in front of our face and requires a significant level of denial to not embrace, is the road to the most workably "realistic" version of realism you can possibly attain. What is "real" is just exactly what we think it is, not because we have some great insight into reality (which would be naive realism), but rather because that's the only thing we could possibly mean by the term.
    Do you agree with this definition of reality, source Wikipedia:
    Earlier in the thread I bashed the logical inconsistencies of that definition. Mind you, I think the Wiki is correct that this is a definition the majority of people might give (logical positivists might object to the rejection of the importance of observability), but it is a definition that just doesn't make any sense. Ironically, it is a ridiculously unrealistic concept of reality, masquerading as a straightforwardly realistic one. Saying that reality is, at its core, something both unobservable and incomprehensible is to choose a definition of "reality" that is really much closer to the proper definition of "fantasy"!
    Last edited by Ken G; 2013-Dec-28 at 01:55 PM.

  16. #406
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    This does no more than repeat what Ken says, but having written it before Ken's reply, I thought to post it anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post

    The imagery we have of the universe with our minds, in the shape of sensorial input/interpretation/modelling, you refer to as "mind dependent reality". The concept created by our minds of reality. This ceases to exist once the human race disappears. This is self-evident, so you probably don't mean this?
    I think the way you should frame this question is to first ask yourself what you really mean by it.

    Are you asking what exists outside of mind or are you asking what exists within a mind dependent reality that just so happens not to have any people in it? The former is, as explained in much of this thread, an impossible statement to deal with in a formal manner, scientifically or philosophically, so the only thing left to invoke is belief, and even that can only be expressed in terms of mind! The latter says that the planets, stars, galaxies etc. exist as they can only exist within mind dependent reality, we just project a valid mind dependent scenario whereby all humans are blown up (or something like that) leaving a mind dependent reality without humans. That's a very real and valid thing to project.

    But you will take this to mean that your mind is in one corner creating a picture of your "absolute" body, your "absolute" room, your "absolute" window and the "absolute" outside of your window in the sense that all of these "absolutes" exist as things-in-themselves independently of your mind. So if tomorrow a virus wipes out all of human life, according to your take on things, your body, your room, your window and the outside of the window will still be there as things-in-themselves. But if the things-in-themselves depend on mind, then that scenario can only be framed from within mind dependent reality. It is only within that framework that you can imagine all those things-in-themselves will still be things-in-themselves after we have all been wiped out. That's the only way we can project such a future scenario, we can only project it in terms of what we experience within mind dependent reality. Its no good asking "but what is really going to be there when we are all wiped out" because it means nothing to say such a thing, such a statement of "but what is it really..." assumes a universe that trundles on in an absolute sense as a thing-in-itself that just so happens to have humans around for a small part of its overall time span. But that needs to be turned around, the universe has a very long time span in terms of a human projection of us being a small part of that overall projected time span. To talk in any other manner is to remove the mind, but if you remove the mind, I have no words, pictures, gestures, or anything in which to describe what is still around - I really am at a complete loss as to how such a scenario can be "anything". Even heaven is described in terms of a mind.

    Of course you can continue to argue in the way you do that the mind is just a passive entity faithfully representing the things-in-themselves as they actually exist in that form independently of the passive mind. Before this thread, I did think that was a philosophical choice you could choose to make, even though it is a hopelessly naive perspective to take up, (hence the commonly used term "naive realism") but still, I did think it couldn't be proven one way or the other. There are plenty of arguments to tell you why it is naive, not least of which concerns experimental evidence of mind dependency at the quantum level - but again, you could still stick to your guns because there could be no definitive proof against that stance. But what this thread has established is that there is absolutely no getting away from the fact that we cannot do or say anything without recourse to invoking the mind, so invoking any kind of mind independent "something", no matter to what degree we may think of the mind as having an effect (passive or influential), that thought is a mind dependent thought. Before this thread I could envisage at least a "something" outside of mind without properly appreciating that the very thought process involved with that assertion comes via the mind! I have never (in latter years) succumbed to naive realism in the manner you still insist on doing, but still, I felt comfortable with a notion of an inaccessible "something" residing entirely outside of the mind as being philosophically (in the formal sense) valid. But in this short space of time involving these discussions, I have been forced (due to logic) to relinquish my long held view that an inaccessible mind independent reality is a valid philosophical conception. So If logic has forced me to change my perspective on mind independent reality, what exactly do you know that I don't that leaves your conception of mind independent reality in place?

    If truth be told I still, deep down, hanker over being able to escape from the prison this thread has locked me into, so how come you have manged to stay on the outside and I have been locked up?

    Mind you, its not so bad in here you know, these four walls are starting to look quite interesting!



    Does mind independent reality exist in your opinion? If so, does this correspond to "reality"?
    I think there exists differing layers of mind, the picture we have of mind is just too simplistic in the sense that we think we can talk about an "inside" and an "outside" of mind, in your case, the outside being your body, your room, your window and the outside of your window. So I think the differing layers can invoke there being "something" not accessible through formal enquiry but does have a constraining effect on the simplistic notion of mind that we associate our reality with.


    Do you agree with this definition of reality, source Wikipedia:

    "Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.[1] In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist".
    We don't know and can never know what "actually" exists outside of phenomena, of mind, so our only definition of the real is the real (if you see what I mean).
    Last edited by Len Moran; 2013-Dec-28 at 03:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Moran View Post
    Mind you, its not so bad in here you know, these four walls are starting to look quite interesting!
    Exactly the purpose!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Yes, we agree on this, but you don't see the problem this causes for everything else you are claiming. Above you claimed that what is mind-dependent must vanish when we are not perceiving or imagining it, but now you are saying that what is not mind dependent excludes only what we perceive or imagine.
    No, that is not what I said. I said that mind dependent means things in the mind. Everything outside that circle is mind-independent.


    I have never said that subjective reality trumps objective reality, I've said that "objective reality" and "subjective reality", as these terms are used in science, are both completely mind dependent. You keep hearing something else, and arguing something I never said.
    Did it ever occur to you that I was not talking about you?

    No, I do not disagree that the terms are mind dependent, as all terms are. But that does not reflect that the realities they label are mind-dependent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Moran View Post
    I think there exists differing layers of mind, the picture we have of mind is just too simplistic in the sense that we think we can talk about an "inside" and an "outside" of mind, in your case, the outside being your body, your room, your window and the outside of your window. So I think the differing layers can invoke there being "something" not accessible through formal enquiry but does have a constraining effect on the simplistic notion of mind that we associate our reality with.

    We don't know and can never know what "actually" exists outside of phenomena, of mind, so our only definition of the real is the real (if you see what I mean).
    Now that is something I can work with. Yes, our awareness of what is around us is and always will be imperfect. But using science, we can narrow our models down to "what works" and "what doesn't", thus assigning a definition of meaning that has some practical value.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Len, are you implying that the words, something, out and there, for example, only mean something to to us through using our minds in the first place ? A book, for example, is only a book because we have labelled it a book. One could say, okay, it is an object. But an object is only an object because we call it one. Without the understanding of what something is, does it even exist. One could say that, "it is still there, i can see it". But, what if you do not have any concept of the words, "it is still there, i can see it" ?
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    All that would cease to exist there is the humans saying that it exists, but the extent to which it would actually still exist doesn't change at all with the presence or absence of humans. Existence is what our minds say it is, it is our word-- so if we say the mind dependent reality continues to exist after we are gone, then it does, because "existence" is a word that labels a concept that our minds give meaning to, and we can give it a meaning such that existence continues after we are gone, just like the way Einstein gave meaning to the term "existence" allowed that the Moon could still do it when he was not looking. Indeed, most people's minds would indeed give it that meaning.No on both counts. Only mind dependent reality exists, when we use the term "exist" to be the way we approach that term in practice (especially in science), because that is exactly what we mean by the words "exist" and "reality." That is in fact the crux of the whole business-- embracing the role of our minds, which is by the way right in front of our face and requires a significant level of denial to not embrace, is the road to the most workably "realistic" version of realism you can possibly attain. What is "real" is just exactly what we think it is, not because we have some great insight into reality (which would be naive realism), but rather because that's the only thing we could possibly mean by the term.
    Sorry, I don't follow this line of thought one bit. I don't see even how a conversation can be carried out with this type of reasoning, because the semantics of every single word used is being contested, in fact to carry this further even all the words being typed in this thread are meaningless. They can not be defined by the mind, because the mind is unreliable according to you and Len and can not define what it creates.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Earlier in the thread I bashed the logical inconsistencies of that definition. Mind you, I think the Wiki is correct that this is a definition the majority of people might give (logical positivists might object to the rejection of the importance of observability), but it is a definition that just doesn't make any sense. Ironically, it is a ridiculously unrealistic concept of reality, masquerading as a straightforwardly realistic one. Saying that reality is, at its core, something both unobservable and incomprehensible is to choose a definition of "reality" that is really much closer to the proper definition of "fantasy"!
    Well, here is a statement I disagree with. Guess I am one of the majority of the people with a ridiculously unrealistic concept of reality...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    No, that is not what I said. I said that mind dependent means things in the mind. Everything outside that circle is mind-independent.
    But that's the straw man again! You are only counting something as "mind dependent" if someone is thinking it at a given moment. That's a hopelessly restricted idea of what that term means, and has nothing to do with this thread, so put it completely out of your mind (and make it vanish!). What "mind dependent" means in this thread is simply this: something that depends on a mind in order to mean something, in order to exist in a meaningful enough way that we can actually talk about that thing and not just pretend we are making sense when in fact we are not. So "exist" and "is real" and "has attributes" and "is physical" and "is objective" are all demonstrably mind-dependent terms, since none of them mean squat without a mind to give them their meaning. So what is happening in naive realism is that people are throwing around these demonstrably mind-dependent terms, and just sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that these words actually can mean something without minds to give them their meaning. But that's false, and relies purely on persistent denial to remain in the common usage of those phrases. The denial that persists throughout naive realism is a whole lot like the denial that persists throughout beliefs in UFO aliens, ghosts, ESP, and other forms of fantasy. Naive realism is a fantasy, pure and simple, that is what this thread is pointing out-- and none of it relates to the overly narrow definition of "mind dependence" that you keep returning to as a straw man. I just can't say it any clearer than that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Sorry, I don't follow this line of thought one bit. I don't see even how a conversation can be carried out with this type of reasoning, because the semantics of every single word used is being contested, in fact to carry this further even all the words being typed in this thread are meaningless.
    That is exactly the opposite of what I have said over and over. I'm not saying the words are meaningless, I am finding their meaning. It is the common usage that is meaningless, and it is demonstrably meaningless, and in fact I am showing exactly why it is meaningless. I already gave the example of the Wiki definition of "reality", which essentially says reality is what exists independently of our ability to observe it or even conceive of it. Now, that certainly leads to a pretty obvious logical conundrum: if we can't observe it, nor even conceive it, then what on Earth do we think we are talking about? That is pretty much the definition of meaninglesses: that which can neither be observed nor conceived! So the basic problem is, there is not a good understanding of what "meaning" even is, so I'm trying hard to provide that understanding: meaning is making a connection with thought, perception, and experience. That's it, that's what meaning is, it never was anything other than that. To follow the Wiki definition of reality, I might as well say that the word "reality" means something that has no meaning, because that's an absolutely immediate consequence of what the Wiki said. Personally, I don't like saying that "reality" has no meaning, so I think our goal should be to give it meaning, and that's what I'm doing and the Wiki and the common parlance is not doing.
    They can not be defined by the mind, because the mind is unreliable according to you and Len and can not define what it creates.
    If you think I am saying "the mind is not reliable", then you have completely ignored everything I've really said, and replaced it with something I did not say. In fact I know you have done that, I've pointed out this fact many times in this thread, yet it keeps happening. I can only repeat: I am not saying the mind is unreliable, and therefore we cannot know reality, I'm saying that the mind is demonstrably what gives reality its meaning, this is actually obvious, so this also means that the mind is the only reliable source we have to understand what reality is! So what part of that sounds like "the mind is unreliable"?
    Guess I am one of the majority of the people with a ridiculously unrealistic concept of reality.
    Yes, I'm afraid that's true, but clearly, a big part of the reason for that is you refuse to listen to what I'm actually saying. How can I convince you when you cannot even hear my words, and feel compelled to replace them with their opposites?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    But that's the straw man again! You are only counting something as "mind dependent" if someone is thinking it at a given moment. That's a hopelessly restricted idea of what that term means, and has nothing to do with this thread, so put it completely out of your mind (and make it vanish!). What "mind dependent" means in this thread is simply this: something that depends on a mind in order to mean something, in order to exist in a meaningful enough way that we can actually talk about that thing and not just pretend we are making sense when in fact we are not. So "exist" and "is real" and "has attributes" and "is physical" and "is objective" are all demonstrably mind-dependent terms, since none of them mean squat without a mind to give them their meaning. So what is happening in naive realism is that people are throwing around these demonstrably mind-dependent terms, and just sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that these words actually can mean something without minds to give them their meaning. But that's false, and relies purely on persistent denial to remain in the common usage of those phrases. The denial that persists throughout naive realism is a whole lot like the denial that persists throughout beliefs in UFO aliens, ghosts, ESP, and other forms of fantasy. Naive realism is a fantasy, pure and simple, that is what this thread is pointing out-- and none of it relates to the overly narrow definition of "mind dependence" that you keep returning to as a straw man. I just can't say it any clearer than that.
    And you still can't be any wronger about what I said. Which sounds like a...? Starts with an S, ends with "awman"?

    EDIT: What I AM saying is that your definition is wrong. It encompasses things that have no relation to the mind. Call it a "strawman" over and over, but it isn't, it is a disagreement about the useful meaning of the term.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2013-Dec-28 at 05:25 PM.
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    OK, let's get back to the rest of those posting. The meat on the bone here is practical working definitions of the terms in use. How do you define science if all we perceive is sensory models? How do you define reality in a way that avoids solipsism?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    No, I can't because it does not convince me. This is my personal opinion.
    OK personally I believe in my own consciousness 100% even though I am not sure I know all about myself. I believe in other's consciousness about 99% including contributors to this thread because it seems reasonable that others feel the same as I do. I might assume that external reality conforms to my view of it at say 95% because I have seen paradoxes. But all these are assumptions I make in my mind which is for me 100% in my brain. I know others believe in an immortal soul for example. I suppose we could all be right, Some have souls others don't but it seems unlikely to me. I believe there is an external reality as you do but I know it's an assumption. I also dream and in those dreams reality is distorted but seems real, but when awake, those dreams are clearly in my head and not any external reality. Belief and assumption are brothers. All this external reality could be a long running illusion. Futhermore we know now that solid objects lose their solidity at the atomic scale, that is just as real to me as my experiences because I believe in the science story, but at the bottom, I just assume I am experienceing, "for real"
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    OK, let's get back to the rest of those posting. The meat on the bone here is practical working definitions of the terms in use. How do you define science if all we perceive is sensory models? How do you define reality in a way that avoids solipsism?
    Science is a consensus centred on repeatability of phenomena in the context of belief in experimental results and interpretation. Science rejects statements that cannot be verified within the scientific consensus. This does not mean science is a complete exploration of external or MIR because of the limited rules science sets. As a consensus, science does have its own dogmas or if you like, common beliefs, which are MDR. An important premise in which science operates is that the assumed MIR has no agency, hence the importance of repeatability. If the actual MIR has agency it is untestable, as in the Matrix hypothesis where the imposed mind experience has external agency to change the matrix reality.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    That is exactly the opposite of what I have said over and over. I'm not saying the words are meaningless, I am finding their meaning. It is the common usage that is meaningless, and it is demonstrably meaningless, and in fact I am showing exactly why it is meaningless. I already gave the example of the Wiki definition of "reality", which essentially says reality is what exists independently of our ability to observe it or even conceive of it. Now, that certainly leads to a pretty obvious logical conundrum: if we can't observe it, nor even conceive it, then what on Earth do we think we are talking about?
    It does not say that reality exists "independently of our ability to observe it or even concieve of it". It says "whether or not it is observable or comprehensible". This covers, for example, the parts of our universe simply be too far away for the light emitted from there at any moment since the Big Bang to have had enough time to reach Earth at present. Does not seem at all meaningless to me. But for the most part, we can observe reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    If you think I am saying "the mind is not reliable", then you have completely ignored everything I've really said, and replaced it with something I did not say. In fact I know you have done that, I've pointed out this fact many times in this thread, yet it keeps happening. I can only repeat: I am not saying the mind is unreliable, and therefore we cannot know reality, I'm saying that the mind is demonstrably what gives reality its meaning, this is actually obvious, so this also means that the mind is the only reliable source we have to understand what reality is! So what part of that sounds like "the mind is unreliable"?Yes, I'm afraid that's true, but clearly, a big part of the reason for that is you refuse to listen to what I'm actually saying. How can I convince you when you cannot even hear my words, and feel compelled to replace them with their opposites?
    Granted, it is evident we depend on our minds. But if my mind builds a fantasy picture of the outside world, and nothing is at it appears, what is the use of having a mind in the first place?

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    OK personally I believe in my own consciousness 100% even though I am not sure I know all about myself. I believe in other's consciousness about 99% including contributors to this thread because it seems reasonable that others feel the same as I do. I might assume that external reality conforms to my view of it at say 95% because I have seen paradoxes. But all these are assumptions I make in my mind which is for me 100% in my brain. I know others believe in an immortal soul for example. I suppose we could all be right, Some have souls others don't but it seems unlikely to me. I believe there is an external reality as you do but I know it's an assumption. I also dream and in those dreams reality is distorted but seems real, but when awake, those dreams are clearly in my head and not any external reality. Belief and assumption are brothers. All this external reality could be a long running illusion. Futhermore we know now that solid objects lose their solidity at the atomic scale, that is just as real to me as my experiences because I believe in the science story, but at the bottom, I just assume I am experienceing, "for real"
    Dreaming and observing reality are two different things. Dreaming is just distorted memories of sensorial images experienced. External reality is not a long running illusion. It would imply that all of humanity has been experiencing a long running illusion. It is carrying "logical " analysis much too far. I am not assuming that the outside world is there: it is there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    OK, let's get back to the rest of those posting. The meat on the bone here is practical working definitions of the terms in use. How do you define science if all we perceive is sensory models? How do you define reality in a way that avoids solipsism?
    But as I'm sure you know (I include here a standard philosophical description of realism and idealism for completeness rather than implying you are not aware of the textbook description of realism and idealism and their applicability to the scientific method), science has always had difficulty with definitions outside of the only reliable one – the one that confines the scientific method to empirical reality. Within that definition there can hardly be controversy because the back bone of science depends upon empirical verification and empirical verification has to involve the mind because it has to involve observation. So a scientific model that has been verified becomes a scientific truth in terms of a predictive mathematical model, but that scientific truth is obviously only a truth within phenomena. It restricts the application of the model to that domain, but I have never had any problem with that, in fact quite the opposite, I see that verified predictive mathematical model, within its domain of applicability and within the domain of phenomena as being set in stone – it will forever remain valid within those parameters.

    The problem of definition only arises when we attempt to define what effect the mind has on our models. Hence enter the various flavours of realism and idealism. Scientists could choose their philosophical stance and thus extrapolate the models from phenomena to a domain outside of phenomena; though often Scientists were unaware they were doing any such thing! But philosophy always knew it and many well known scientists struggled with it as well. The upshot of that is that we end up with naive realism, objectivist realism, physical realism, mathematical realism etc. Realism consists of the notion of a “Real” that is totally independent of our means of knowing it – along with the hypothesis that we can say something “true” concerning it. Clearly the purest form of the “Real” is that which lay outside any notion of the mind, i.e. that which exists with no regard to humans. The problem of course is that we can never verify this hypothesis, so the applicability of the scientific truth to mind independent reality can only be a philosophical one.

    Idealism, especially radical idealism is even more fraught with issues that seem to concern you, namely how do we avoid solipsism? Radical idealism says that there is no reality outside of mind, therefore science delivers all there is to deliver in terms of phenomena interacting with phenomena.

    The easiest way out of all of this is to adopt operationalism – that just confines science to phenomena with no regard to how it may apply to that which may exist outside of phenomena. It doesn’t make a choice between idealism and realism in terms of nature, it just confines science to phenomena, which I think has a lot of merit.

    So science has always had difficulty being defined, it’s just that the difficulty tends to be ignored by many scientists. But there have also been a number of first rate scientists with a philosophical bent that have written extensively about these issues of definition and Bernard d’Espagnat is one of them. So this is not an opinion concerning the difficulties of defining science, it concerns real philosophical issues that can’t be brushed under the carpet if one wishes to extend physics outside of the domain within which scientific truths are valid (i.e. within phenomena which is exactly what mind dependent reality is). In other words, science cannot say what the rock is as a thing-in-itself, all we get is a phenomenon. You can’t have phenomena without a mind, so science is practiced within mind dependent reality – we can’t escape mind to establish what the thing-in-itself actually is and we can’t establish any known relationship between phenomena and the thing-in-itself. So we are left with a reality that is dependent on the mind.

    But now we come to the important contribution that Ken makes to this thread – when I say that we can philosophically extrapolate a scientific model to an arena outside of the means in which it was produced, we can only mean one thing – an arena that exists outside of the mind. What Ken is saying is that this is a step too far in terms of a logical philosophical analysis – it just doesn’t make logical sense to talk in terms of something outside of the mind when that discourse can only take place in terms of a mind. In other words, that extrapolation of a scientific truth to something outside of the mind is simply not allowed. If we choose to simply ignore that prohibited course of thought then we end up within a structure of belief and faith, no different to religion (which is not to decry such faith, but presumably we are looking for a bit more from formal enquiry in terms of trying to establish the nature of our reality).

    The upshot of all of this is that mind imprisons us in terms of formal scientific and philosophical thought and action. There is no escape, so Ken’s position is that instead of spending fruitless energy and time on trying to escape, far better to embrace and accept the only reality we can ever know – the mind. To ask what exists outside of mind is really saying “I want to think outside of the only means I have of thinking”, which doesn’t even end up with a “something” or a “anything” or a “xadfgaraeaf”, or a “nothing” – we can’t even describe what we don’t end up with.

    So to answer your questions – a practical definition of science is that it describes mind dependent reality in terms of models, pictures and mathematics. If it works, then its real, if it doesn’t then it’s not real. There is no need to say science is only applicable to phenomena or mind dependent reality and has no remit outside of mind (or a limited philosophical remit). We just say that all we have is a reality defined by our mind and that verified science tells us what is scientifically real in terms of models that work.

    To answer your second question concerning radical idealism or solipsism, there needs to be in my opinion, something other than mind as we simplistically define it, there needs to be “something” other than a free reign of mind because we all experience physical consistencies in the same way. A scientific model in part makes use of “rules” that are contrary to ways that we may wish to use to simplify models. We are constrained and I would say that such constraints come from deep within inaccessible mind as something other than our common perception of mind as being a single entity that thinks rationally. So I do think there are legitimate arguments that can be framed within mind dependent reality that point to the need for something other than just mind as we perceive a single layer of mind. That to me takes us away from the simplistic model of “inside” or “outside” of the mind where radical idealism says there is nothing outside of the mind. Instead we can start to try and open up our definition of mind that establishes differing layers such that one layer can be thought of as constraining our “top” layer of everyday experience. We don’t see it like that of course, the mind just seems to be one entity and thus we fall into the trap of having an “inside” and an “outside”. Of course this doesn’t restore a naive version (or any other flavor of realism) of external reality that we are all brought up to believe, but that instinctive “common sense” notion is surely crumbling anyway. And it doesn’t mean that we can investigate this “constraining” bottom layer in a scientific manner (well I don’t think we could at any rate) because the scientific method can only operate within our top layer in terms of empirical verification. But who knows what other forms of enquiry might give clues to the structure of mind? If we can just start to do that then I think it will give a bonus concerning the nature of our reality. Discern the structure of mind and perhaps you get a direct view of our reality.
    Last edited by Len Moran; 2013-Dec-28 at 08:16 PM.

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