Page 449 of 449 FirstFirst ... 349399439447448449
Results 13,441 to 13,455 of 13455

Thread: The last and final argument about reality.

  1. #13441
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3,332
    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    So there is a part of our 'reality' that is truly independent of our minds,..
    I don't see how reality can be a 'part' of some other reality, unless there is some mind conceiving of that 'other' reality?

    The notion that our reality might be some kind of 'magic box' where some trickster can keep us contained so that only they can have the full picture of 'what's really going on', appears as some kind of unshakable belief here(?)

  2. #13442
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,823
    Indeed, I feel there may be useful lessons from considering a picture in which we inhabit some kind of microcosm of a larger reality we have no access to and cannot understand, but that "mind independent" version of reality is what "gives rise to" the reality we make sense of. That's not quite the Matrix, as there they could "wake up" and see the truth, but imagine a situation from which there is no waking up, more akin to the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics. There is no harm in imagining such a situation, from the perspective of philosophical debate, as indeed many physicists take the many worlds interpretation quite seriously. But I contend that anyone who digs more deeply into such a picture will quickly come across two facts:
    1) the reality concept they refer to and use daily is not that one, and
    2) scientific progress gains nothing from taking that picture seriously, rather than as just another incomplete and inconsistent model. Indeed, science has quite a few times gotten egg in its face when it did take a picture like that too seriously, generally in the context of mistaking models for mechanisms that actually "govern" reality in some sense beyond our common anthropomorphic meaning of government (the "mind dependence" of which seems to become more obvious with each passing day...)
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Dec-04 at 10:59 PM.

  3. #13443
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    443
    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    I don't see how reality can be a 'part' of some other reality, unless there is some mind conceiving of that 'other' reality?

    The notion that our reality might be some kind of 'magic box' where some trickster can keep us contained so that only they can have the full picture of 'what's really going on', appears as some kind of unshakable belief here(?)
    I was considering something like a stromatolite or other living thing rather than considering 'reality' as being exclusively homocentric.

    If we ever get a visit from an alien technically superior non homosapien species will we deny them their sense of 'reality' despite their superiority?

    Would they give us the same choice?

  4. #13444
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3,332
    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    If we ever get a visit from an alien technically superior non homosapien species will we deny them their sense of 'reality' despite their superiority?

    Would they give us the same choice?
    The proposition that our sense of reality might alter in the chance event of encountering aliens who provide us with demonstrations of their usage of their sense of reality, (which may well be fundamentally different from ours), is very intriguing IMO. We may never be able to make sense of such demonstrations and so what meanings could we possibly take away from such an encounter?

    The impression this encounter would give us would still be via our own reality filters, so envisaging how this might play out, in advance, is a pretty tough stretch for our imaginations, I think. Would this provide evidence of a truly mind independent reality? I think we'd have to understand it, in order to reach that conclusion(?)

  5. #13445
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    8,739
    we think that dogs have a different reality sense because they use smell to evaluate the past as well as the present. So they might be aware that at this place something happened yesterday and something else the day before. We have to use very different clues to analyse place and live in the now. The dog reality is just as valid as ours but takes us no further except that the dog mind is using different inputs. similarly radically different understandings of reality, tell us nothing about the fundamental structure as well as being filtered through our minds. Our scientific knowledge would no doubt increase with more information, that's a different measure.
    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

  6. #13446
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,823
    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    If we ever get a visit from an alien technically superior non homosapien species will we deny them their sense of 'reality' despite their superiority?
    No, MDR thinking is pretty much the opposite of what you are saying here. You are saying that when we recognize how much our concept of reality depends on our minds, by understanding better our minds, this will give us difficulities in trying to understand why aliens might have a very different concept of reality. But actually, that's what MIR thinking does. MDR thinking makes it perfectly clear why an alien could have a very different view of the nature of reality, and it would present no problem at all-- we'd completely understand why they have a different view, and why theirs would be valid given the way their minds work! Try that with your MIR.
    Would they give us the same choice?
    Only if they are capable of MDR thinking. Let's hope they are, otherwise they may treat us like we treat cattle.

  7. #13447
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3,332
    I think its important to recognise in this hypothetical that we being asked to address the ramifications of a 'technically superior non homosapien species'. Presumably, the only way 'technical superiority' could be concluded, is if our human minds assessed it that way.

    Surely if we noticed 'technical superiority', we would also be forced into having to make comparisons about how we have made sense of our perceptions vs how the aliens made sense of theirs. One possible outcome is that we may also have to infer commonalities in the requirements driving their observed technology designs, and our own. These commonalities would form a revised basis of our own objective reality and, I think, would have impacts on how we perceive the physical behaviours of what we mean by 'the universe' .. but it all depends on our understanding and assessments of our observations of their 'technical superiority'(?)


  8. #13448
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,823
    Indeed, the situation being discussed is not actually hypothetical at all, it has already occurred several times in our history. For example, technically superior aliens were encountered by the Maian and Aztec cultures when the first Spanish conquistador-thugs came over. And yes, the conquistadors came with some significantly different ideas about the nature of reality, though of course their "technical superiority" was rather limited to guns and immunities since they shared the same DNA and similar history otherwise (neither of which, one assumes, would apply to space aliens). Nevertheless, I think we see pretty clearly what happens when technically superior aliens with a different world view arrive on the scene-- the original culture holds on to its traditions staunchly, but eventually the technical inferiority leads to the decay of traditional views and replacement by the views that led to the technical superiority, whether by conquest or more peaceably by missionaries. Although some good came of it in terms of advancing medicine and architecture and so forth, we can also see many examples of the significant evils of MIR thinking on the part of the technically superior, which is one of the reasons this thread has tried to shed light on the logical errors of MIR reasoning, and the ethical pitfalls when MIR thinking mistakes a belief system for a set of universal facts.

    This issues of technical superiority were addressed in a science fiction book I remember reading, someone else might recall the name. Aliens came and conquered Earth, and their technical superiority was called "alien science." The remaining humans organized a resistance, but were split in their commitment to fighting back with their own "ancestor science", or trying to upgrade their efforts by co-opting "alien science." In the book, clinging to ancestor science was portrayed as closed-minded and hopeless, whereas mastering alien science was portrayed as the key to success. The book missed the opportunity to probe deeper into the entire question of the nature of reality itself, as many science fiction writers only think in terms of "the same only more so", though some do like to delve into more profoundly transformative ideas.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Dec-06 at 03:07 PM.

  9. #13449
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    8,739
    indeed one branch of superior technology often imagined is mind control, which is relevant to this thread because if your mind were to be controlled, how would you test that? After all we have tinkered with that for many years....or so it seems.
    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

  10. #13450
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    443
    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    I think its important to recognise in this hypothetical that we being asked to address the ramifications of a 'technically superior non homosapien species'. Presumably, the only way 'technical superiority' could be concluded, is if our human minds assessed it that way.
    What about other 'technically inferior non homosapien species'. like a Stromatolite?

    Do we deny everything else their own 'reality' just because we can only conceive our own reality?

    I think that's why many people are against autonomous military killing systems, because once a glitch/omission in its models turns it into a metallic 'sociopath' worthy of our MDR, it is our reality that becomes part of something else's MDR regardless of our 'superiority'.

  11. #13451
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3,332
    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    What about other 'technically inferior non homosapien species'. like a Stromatolite?
    Stromatolites are the sedimentary structures formed by either biological or abiotic activity. Cyanobacteria are the likely culprits behind the biologically formed variety.
    With that clarification, you then state that they are 'technically inferior', which is a highly subjective claim.
    Within their own ecosystem, the fact that their structures remain after some billions of years, suggests that they are in fact, quite successful in their own right (by providing structures/dwellings in direct support of their continuing survival):
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    Cyanobacteria are arguably the most successful group of microorganisms on earth ..
    With this added information, we can see that your example clearly demonstrates the role of the human mind in assessing the merits (or otherwise) of cyanobacteria 'technology' (ie: who/what else makes 'arguable' claims?)

    With that being said, the question remains: 'Do they also experience their own reality independently from the human observer making such assessments?':

    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG
    Do we deny everything else their own 'reality' just because we can only conceive our own reality?
    So you are implying that cyanobacteria experience their own reality and then you are querying whether or not 'we' are denying the existence of that reality, (presumably as some kind of evidence for there being some kind of mind independence in any of the above reasoning)? Whoa ..

    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG
    I think that's why many people are against autonomous military killing systems, because once a glitch/omission in its models turns it into a metallic 'sociopath' worthy of our MDR, it is our reality that becomes part of something else's MDR regardless of our 'superiority'.
    Its all evidence of our mind in action, as it goes about its business of creating reality. The thing is, both 'superiority' and 'inferiority' are really relative to survival ability in the respective niches in which cyanobacteria (and aliens) have evolved. What we can gain from this viewpoint is more of a sense that humans, cyanobacteria and aliens are all respectively inseperable from the environments/niches from which they evolved, from an outside observer's viewpoint .. so, this is all part of this outside observer's model of reality .. Therefore there's nothing to 'deny', (or otherwise) in order to justify the obvious mind dependence of this outside observer's mind model of reality.

  12. #13452
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,823
    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    Do we deny everything else their own 'reality' just because we can only conceive our own reality?
    That is just precisely what MIR thinkers do constantly. You can see multiple examples in this very thread. The whole point of MDR thinking is releasing yourself from the need to "deny" what you don't understand, but rather, to embrace how your own ability to understand affects what you think is real. So why would an MDR thinker have any need to deny the reality perceived by a stromatolite? MDR thinking is about detecting how the reality concept can be made useful for that thinker, it needs no opinion about the reality of a stromatolite. Try that with MIR thinking.
    I think that's why many people are against autonomous military killing systems, because once a glitch/omission in its models turns it into a metallic 'sociopath' worthy of our MDR, it is our reality that becomes part of something else's MDR regardless of our 'superiority'.
    I think people who understand the process of creating an MDR are perfectly able to object to autonomous killing systems. I fail to see any connection at all, but if I did see a connection, I'd be much more worried about MIR thinkers as the ones building such autonomous systems. MIR thinking has been the cause of many horrendous human rights violations, yet I can think of no example where MDR recognition was such a cause. You seem to think that MDR thinking means exporting how we make sense of reality onto others. No, that's not it at all-- MDR thinking begins with the recognition that we play a role in how we build our concept of reality, but that does not release us from the responsibility of what we come up with. Notice how the opposite is true of MIR thinking-- if you think your MDR is actually an MIR, that does release you from any responsibility for it. After all, why should it be your fault for what is simply the truth? How often has such an appeal to absolute truth been used as an excuse to oppress?
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Dec-07 at 09:10 PM.

  13. #13453
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3,332
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    .. After all, why should it be your fault for what is simply the truth? How often has such an appeal to absolute truth been used as an excuse to oppress?
    I'm beginning to see issues with science's notion of the universality of physical constants (or the physical laws). This notion more or less pushes Realism to the forefront in science. The universality of physical constants is straight from the MIR handbook, I think(?)
    Specifically, I think this also is the driver behind believing in the existence of aliens.
    Ie:
    - We observe some remote exoplanet.
    - We measure its physical parameters and conclude 'the possibility' of habitability.
    - We then pursue vigorously, finding out what's on the exoplanet .. ie: 'life might be likely' in that environment, which is then held as a 'true' statement, because the universality of physical laws predicts that, on the sole basis of life on Earth.

    This reasoning does not recognise the localised combinatorial variations of physical laws and constants in organic chemistry, which may not produce aliens (or exo-life) at all .. so its 'likely existence', is not actually 'true' at all. However, the MDR thinker is then seen as denying 'what is true in science', when all along the MDR thinker is simply owning the responsibility for origins of the notion of: the universality of physical constants and physical laws. This conflict doesn't seem to appear however, at the level of say, attempting to classify some remote star's location on the main sequence (which is of course, completely dependent on the universaility of physical constants (and many physical laws).

  14. #13454
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,823
    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    I'm beginning to see issues with science's notion of the universality of physical constants (or the physical laws). This notion more or less pushes Realism to the forefront in science. The universality of physical constants is straight from the MIR handbook, I think(?)
    I agree that the universality of physical constants is an extremely puzzling state of affairs, it all comes under the heading of "why is physics possible at all"? This is certainly a profound mystery, but it is no less profound in MIR thinking than it is in MDR thinking. In MDR thinking, the question is, why does the Occam's Razor principle succeed at all? We are trying to build a concept of reality that fits in our heads and is quantitatively successful, but our successes there go way beyond anything our brains have evolved to do. We are left with the question of why are the basic laws of the universe so simple we can teach many of them in high school? That's a doozy.

    But MIR thinking does not make this less of a doozy, and in fact it leads to misconceptions. The standard misconception that MIR thinking leads to is the classic mischaracterization of Occam, that "the simplest theory is most likely the right one." That statement was even made in the movie Contact, which tried very hard to accurately paint the differences between science-based and faith-based thinking, but really dropped the ball on that one. Certainly science has no business ever making a claim on what is most likely right other than whatever agrees with the observations, but worse, the idea that the simplest theory is most likely right has been contradicted over and over in the history of science. The MDR thinker can understand what Occam's Razor is-- since the goal is to understand, and the simplest theory that agrees with data is the best path to understanding, then that's clearly the best theory. That's it, that's the Razor, nothing more. The MIR thinker actually believes that the Razor leads to How Things Actually Work, as if the universe was a simulation made by a fairly inexpert programmer who therefore had to "keep it simple."

    The universality of the constants (or more correctly, the unitless combinations of the constants), over huge distances and times, is a spectacular success of Occam's Razor, and it is indeed hard to understand why this vastly simplifying assumption works so well. I have no idea why it works so well, I suspect that the best answer we can come up with is anthropic in nature (it had to work out that way or we couldn't be here, and perhaps there are vastly more universes where it didn't work that way and we are not there as a result). But of course, an anthropic answer is certainly not a path to MIR-- it is kind of the ultimate MDR approach, that a given kind of mind will always find itself trying to make sense out of a universe that comes out simple enough for that mind to exist in the first place. This also explains why our simplest models invariably fail-- the universe may need to be almost simple enough for us to understand, but if it was really simple enough to fit in our minds then our minds would not fit in it. Thus, anthropic thinkers are led to a form of MDR thinking that they might not even recognize, if they hold to the standard MIR-type model that science is normally expressed as.
    Specifically, I think this also is the driver behind believing in the existence of aliens.
    Ie:
    - We observe some remote exoplanet.
    - We measure its physical parameters and conclude 'the possibility' of habitability.
    - We then pursue vigorously, finding out what's on the exoplanet .. ie: 'life might be likely' in that environment, which is then held as a 'true' statement, because the universality of physical laws predicts that, on the sole basis of life on Earth.
    I would say there is a little fight in what you are saying here, a fight between the words "believe in aliens" and "predict life might be likely." Only the second is a scientific statement, the first is a matter of personal belief. I never use the word "believe" in any scientific setting, because the word gets used in so many different and contradictory ways it ends up not saying much. Many people use "believe" to mean "anything held as true via any approach whatsoever," but the truth can never be separated from the approach that leads to it. So if I say I believe something to be true, I want that to convey some information about the path I took to get to that truth, and "believe" means the path is "I made a personal choice that seems right to me but has not been tested objectively." If, on the other hand, objective tests have been passed and that leads me to hold something as true, then I call it a scientific fact if the tests have been extensive, and a scientific hypothesis if the tests are in their infancy. But I don't "believe" anything in science, that word just doesn't fit there.

    "Prediction", on the other hand, is a completely different thing. It can result from some scientific fact, in which case I put great stock in the prediction and would wager considerable amount of my money on it, or it can be the ramification of a hypothesis that I am still interested in testing, in which case I put little stock in it but it directs my scientific "next thing that needs doing." When it comes to predictions about life on other planets, I'd say we are well into the hypothesis realm, where the predictions aren't there to color our expectations, but rather, to direct the next thing we need to look at. On the other hand, the sheer vastness of the universe insures that almost any approach to life elsewhere that is probability based will lead to a strong expectation that life does exist somewhere in the likely >1025 stars in the universe. That's significantly larger than Avogadro's number! Still, you may be arguing that the probabilistic thinking I'm describing must make certain assumptions (like the universality of the constants) that might not hold, they are still just a hypothesis until tested better. I can't deny that, indeed there is a brand of anthropic thinking that says if you have lots of different universes, and only a tiny fraction can support intelligent life, then there are versions of such distributions that make it such that most of the intelligences are alone in their own universe. If I had to guess, I'd guess the special distribution that is like the number of people living in your city or town-- a distribution that has roughly equal number of people in each general class of town size (which is why about half the population is urban and half rural-- similarly, maybe half the intelligences are in relatively crowded universes and half in very sparsely intelligent universes, I just don't know which we are because it's not that crowded).
    However, the MDR thinker is then seen as denying 'what is true in science', when all along the MDR thinker is simply owning the responsibility for origins of the notion of: the universality of physical constants and physical laws. This conflict doesn't seem to appear however, at the level of say, attempting to classify some remote star's location on the main sequence (which is of course, completely dependent on the universaility of physical constants (and many physical laws).
    The question is how true do the "laws" need to be. A good scientist should always expect any set of laws to break down somewhere, but they do seem to have a fairly wide range of applicability. Perhaps we have some reason to expect the range of applicability to extend to include other possible habitats for life. Nevertheless, we still have no idea how special the Earth is in that respect-- and even weak anthropic thinking (we have to be found on a planet that could have allowed us to evolve) must allow that the Earth could be very very special indeed, and there's still no contradiction in a universe of more than 1020 Earthlike planets.

  15. #13455
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    443
    The point is our human 'reality', however you like it, doesn't mean a thing when we are not here i.e. before or after anything else. But some people cannot consider this vacuum of our minds as being a mind independent reality because 'they thought about it, duh', and totally ignore the actual 'reality' for everything else that the universe will not cease to exist when humans cease to exist.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •