1. Drael646464's Avatar
    Thought maybe a distraction from tech might be fun.

    Are we in a simulation? Is the world maya? How do we know any of this is "real"?
    Kot Prada likes this.
    07-11-2017 11:41 AM
  2. Guytronic's Avatar
    Moved to "Off Topic"

    Be advised the "Ask a Question" feature is for those needing help with issues in a quick manner.
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    libra89 and Laura Knotek like this.
    07-11-2017 12:16 PM
  3. xandros9's Avatar
    barks-metaphysically.jpg

    EDIT: Obligatory "How Can Mirrors Be Real If Our Eyes Aren't Real" reference.
    Last edited by xandros9; 07-13-2017 at 01:26 AM.
    07-11-2017 12:49 PM
  4. LumPhile's Avatar
    Thought maybe a distraction from tech might be fun.

    Are we in a simulation? Is the world maya? How do we know any of this is "real"?
    You need to first of all explain what you mean by "real": What are the necessary and sufficient features of a"real" x?
    Kot Prada likes this.
    07-11-2017 01:41 PM
  5. Drael646464's Avatar
    You need to first of all explain what you mean by "real": What are the necessary and sufficient features of a"real" x?
    Real in this case would be "the highest order of something of a nested set of existences".

    In the sense that for example a software program exists inside a physical reality, in this case it would "not be real", but virtue of not being "the highest order". So what happens in minecraft for example, wouldn't be 'real'.

    In the same way, if there were some "higher order of reality", like for example, the Buddhist nirvana, that would also make this 'not real', as with 'the universe being a computer program', all virtue of not being 'the highest order'.
    07-11-2017 09:10 PM
  6. LumPhile's Avatar
    Real in this case would be "the highest order of something of a nested set of existences".

    In the sense that for example a software program exists inside a physical reality, in this case it would "not be real", but virtue of not being "the highest order". So what happens in minecraft for example, wouldn't be 'real'.

    In the same way, if there were some "higher order of reality", like for example, the Buddhist nirvana, that would also make this 'not real', as with 'the universe being a computer program', all virtue of not being 'the highest order'.
    The "highest" entails gradations...a continuum. Why would the apex of the continuum be "real" but not its constituent parts? You seem to be thinking of Plato's Ideal Forms, but recall that Aristotle, almost immediately, demolish that theory. Furthermore, in his own Cave Analogy, Plato demonstrated that whatever is immediately available to our five senses, given our psychological orientation, is as "real" as it can get for us. Attempting to go beyond that, assuming there is even anything beyond, is an exercise in futility
    Drael646464 likes this.
    07-12-2017 08:16 AM
  7. Drael646464's Avatar
    The "highest" entails gradations...a continuum. Why would the apex of the continuum be "real" but not its constituent parts? You seem to be thinking of Plato's Ideal Forms, but recall that Aristotle, almost immediately, demolish that theory. Furthermore, in his own Cave Analogy, Plato demonstrated that whatever is immediately available to our five senses, given our psychological orientation, is as "real" as it can get for us. Attempting to go beyond that, assuming there is even anything beyond, is an exercise in futility
    I think that's just typically what people actually mean by the words. For example, most people do not consider santa claus real because an idea of him is contained within human brains, or minecraft characters real, because they exist in computer code.

    I suppose if you were to grant that all constituent parts were "real", then essentially everything would be real. Gray aliens abductions, santa claus, the easter bunny, jesus, everything that exists inside any computer or book, or any human brain.

    Such a view would be reasonably difficult to practically deal with however, accepting everything as equally true. The events in minecraft or a literary text would have equal weighting with whether you achieve your dreams. Nothing would really matter, more than any other thing.

    Humans being output orientated machines, I think we'd struggle to think that way.

    I guess we tend to think in this sense of higher orders, because its there that the final consequences rest. If we exist, for example in a computer program, ala the matrix, or even nirvana in buddhism, then only the output of that program reaches the reality above us - thusly our lives are of limited consequence, rather what would matter more is the events in that reality.

    We think of our current plane of reality as "important", because we regard it as "the highest order". If it was, for example a virtual reality video game played by bored space aliens, it might have less existential punch.

    I've never been a fan of plato's realm of ideal forms. That probably more resembles "everything being real equally" IMO, such as santa claus being real because he exists as an idea, equal to me being real, because I exist as a human body - his notion of concepts existing independently of their physical manifestation, I could never buy.

    The shadows on the wall of the cave however, and some of his thinking about society - pretty inspired, although no more so than less known philosophers like Husserl, or older philosophers like the writers of mystic books like the Egyptian book of the dead. For our greek past I suppose, all those greek thinkers are held up on a pedestal - their thinking and their biases affected us a lot I think.

    Husserl is interesting on the topic. He showed that everything we get via the senses, is subjective, interpreted, and secondary, and therefor the subjective is as objective as it gets. That there is no objective reality. Which is hard to deny, but tricky for some subjects to really square, such as the empiricism of science, which factors out the humans looking at the instruments and interpreting them.

    In a similar way Hume questioned reality. As a religious person, he saw reality as a projection of the mind of god, that when we left the room, it ceased to exist. That kind of radical scepticism (is anything real), that one finds in philosophy that even sharp logical thinkers will throw out of the question, because its simply too complicated and hard to know to consider.

    Of course, yes, we could regard everything as real rather than question anything, ala I think therefor I am, anything that exists, exists in some form at the explicit layer, but that has its own problems as I discussed above - then santa claus and the monsters that live under a childs bed are as real as the mac truck that's hurtling towards you.

    And the common assumption that what is physically manifest, is "the highest order" is one made for convenience, I think for the most part. If there was a higher layer, and we could discover it, evidence it, it would undoubtable change our whole perception of reality, and the meaning of our existence.

    In some ways, attempting to go beyond that, is a project of physics. They still are trying to find what composes matter, the forces, what drives the universe, and how it started - which is inevitably like asking "what else is there", or "what is the higher order of reality". It's hard to say, whether trying to achieve that either through evidence, or logic, or even introspection is an exercise in futility, without knowing the final outcome of those investigations, personally.
    Failing, personally to answer those questions, does not mean there are no meaningful answers, any more than failing to build a flying machine means that one cannot fly. It could mean that, or could mean you went the wrong way about it, or didn't have the right information or tools.
    I wouldn't regard myself even philosophy a complete failure on the quest - they have ruled some things out, and created some potential options, even if they haven't arrived via pure reason at the answer. Someone like augustine, even though he eventually tried to dismiss the problem, discovered why both god, and a big bang are not real explainations for why anything exists - because creation requires and event, an event is time based, and if time existed prior to anything, you are still left explaining. It's a mind bender of a problem, much like consciousness, and far too much of a topic diversion, but it shows that pure thinking can be productive, even if not delivering final answers.
    Last edited by Drael646464; 07-12-2017 at 09:48 AM.
    07-12-2017 09:30 AM
  8. LumPhile's Avatar
    I think that's just typically what people actually mean by the words. For example, most people do not consider santa claus real because an idea of him is contained within human brains, or minecraft characters real, because they exist in computer code.

    I suppose if you were to grant that all constituent parts were "real", then essentially everything would be real. Gray aliens abductions, santa claus, the easter bunny, jesus, everything that exists inside any computer or book, or any human brain.

    Such a view would be reasonably difficult to practically deal with however, accepting everything as equally true. The events in minecraft or a literary text would have equal weighting with whether you achieve your dreams. Nothing would really matter, more than any other thing.

    Humans being output orientated machines, I think we'd struggle to think that way.

    I guess we tend to think in this sense of higher orders, because its there that the final consequences rest. If we exist, for example in a computer program, ala the matrix, or even nirvana in buddhism, then only the output of that program reaches the reality above us - thusly our lives are of limited consequence, rather what would matter more is the events in that reality.

    We think of our current plane of reality as "important", because we regard it as "the highest order". If it was, for example a virtual reality video game played by bored space aliens, it might have less existential punch.

    I've never been a fan of plato's realm of ideal forms. That probably more resembles "everything being real equally" IMO, such as santa claus being real because he exists as an idea, equal to me being real, because I exist as a human body - his notion of concepts existing independently of their physical manifestation, I could never buy.

    The shadows on the wall of the cave however, and some of his thinking about society - pretty inspired, although no more so than less known philosophers like Husserl, or older philosophers like the writers of mystic books like the Egyptian book of the dead. For our greek past I suppose, all those greek thinkers are held up on a pedestal - their thinking and their biases affected us a lot I think.

    Husserl is interesting on the topic. He showed that everything we get via the senses, is subjective, interpreted, and secondary, and therefor the subjective is as objective as it gets. That there is no objective reality. Which is hard to deny, but tricky for some subjects to really square, such as the empiricism of science, which factors out the humans looking at the instruments and interpreting them.

    In a similar way Hume questioned reality. As a religious person, he saw reality as a projection of the mind of god, that when we left the room, it ceased to exist. That kind of radical scepticism (is anything real), that one finds in philosophy that even sharp logical thinkers will throw out of the question, because its simply too complicated and hard to know to consider.

    Of course, yes, we could regard everything as real rather than question anything, ala I think therefor I am, anything that exists, exists in some form at the explicit layer, but that has its own problems as I discussed above - then santa claus and the monsters that live under a childs bed are as real as the mac truck that's hurtling towards you.

    And the common assumption that what is physically manifest, is "the highest order" is one made for convenience, I think for the most part. If there was a higher layer, and we could discover it, evidence it, it would undoubtable change our whole perception of reality, and the meaning of our existence.

    In some ways, attempting to go beyond that, is a project of physics. They still are trying to find what composes matter, the forces, what drives the universe, and how it started - which is inevitably like asking "what else is there", or "what is the higher order of reality". It's hard to say, whether trying to achieve that either through evidence, or logic, or even introspection is an exercise in futility, without knowing the final outcome of those investigations, personally.
    Failing, personally to answer those questions, does not mean there are no meaningful answers, any more than failing to build a flying machine means that one cannot fly. It could mean that, or could mean you went the wrong way about it, or didn't have the right information or tools.
    I wouldn't regard myself even philosophy a complete failure on the quest - they have ruled some things out, and created some potential options, even if they haven't arrived via pure reason at the answer. Someone like augustine, even though he eventually tried to dismiss the problem, discovered why both god, and a big bang are not real explainations for why anything exists - because creation requires and event, an event is time based, and if time existed prior to anything, you are still left explaining. It's a mind bender of a problem, much like consciousness, and far too much of a topic diversion, but it shows that pure thinking can be productive, even if not delivering final answers.
    Granted there is the epistemic problem, but we can still make certain assertions with a high degree of confidence. It is generally agreed that reality is psychologically generated: That is not to say there are no objective realities, like your mack truck, but merely to indicate HOW the world is individually experienced. Something like Facebook, where algorithms generate a unique feed for each user.

    The Brain in the Vat dilemma is intriguing because it challenges our assumed certainty of what is “real”. Still, perhaps using a kind of granular fidelity heuristic (forgive the mouthful), we can usually easily differentiate between degrees of functional reality.

    So, thanks to this heuristic, we know that things like Minecraft and Santa are, to use your term, lower order Representations: Real artifacts are utilized in generating/portraying fictionalized, nonfunctional, characters. Functionality been the ability to independently interact with first order reality.

    Of course these philosophical ruminations, about the generation of reality, inevitably carries us to the questions of Determinism and the meaning, if any, of life.
    07-12-2017 11:26 AM
  9. Drael646464's Avatar
    Granted there is the epistemic problem, but we can still make certain assertions with a high degree of confidence. It is generally agreed that reality is psychologically generated: That is not to say there are no objective realities, like your mack truck, but merely to indicate HOW the world is individually experienced. Something like Facebook, where algorithms generate a unique feed for each user.

    The Brain in the Vat dilemma is intriguing because it challenges our assumed certainty of what is “real”. Still, perhaps using a kind of granular fidelity heuristic (forgive the mouthful), we can usually easily differentiate between degrees of functional reality.

    So, thanks to this heuristic, we know that things like Minecraft and Santa are, to use your term, lower order Representations: Real artifacts are utilized in generating/portraying fictionalized, nonfunctional, characters. Functionality been the ability to independently interact with first order reality.

    Of course these philosophical ruminations, about the generation of reality, inevitably carries us to the questions of Determinism and the meaning, if any, of life.
    But can we? If, indeed this life were, say, a video game played by bored aliens, then functionally it would be nearly meaningless because it would not interact much with the higher order reality, much like minecraft and santa claus. It would only seem to.

    Of course then one could argue, that its meaningful nonetheless, and so is, a novel, or a movie experience, not because of the outcome, but because of the experience of it.

    Which you have already alluded to being perhaps the bigger question - what meaning does life have, if any, and do we have any choice in it (and does that effect its meaning). This is essentially why we assume minecraft is non-functional, and a mack truck is - because of meaning.

    Meaning is a tricky one. Its really at its heart a question of output and input. Like minecraft versus the mack truck. But which particular outputs one is concerned with, can be subjective. If you are starving, the output of a dead fish, might be important, but if you are well fed, a dead fish might be irrelevant. In the same way, life meaning, can be an individually set goal framework.

    One could find life meaningful for hedonistic reasons, for existential expression, for the process of self-development, for the impact you have on the world around you, as a reflection of the self-importance of ego, or based on a set of values and virtues, or more. Like the dead fish, which ones are meaningful depend on the context.

    I guess however the greater question people ask, is "is there a greater context for our existence", or a universal sense of meaningful output.

    Determinism is a simpler problem in my mind, at least. Choice cannot be meaningfully reduced, mechanically to any description other than deterministic - we decide one thing or another, not out of a vacuum but because of our inner state, and thus out history. It is usually predictable as well. At minimum the sort of choice that defies, the ability for some complex computer algorythmn to determine would be rare. Perhaps there is something like "free will", something entirely unpredictable, but if it exists, it would be a rare thing.

    From a psychologicaly POV, I think choice is mostly an artefact of two separate styles of cognition. We have the "subconscious" which operates via a massively parallel, large volume of data, which is not contained or understood by the separate conceptual and logical cognition. This "instinctive" level, is not something where some data point, or impulse can be easily understood, so we get these driving impulses such as "this situation isn't safe", or 'I like this person", or "I feel like an apple' and we are left to invent or rationalise the reason why, without actually being privy to it.

    I don't think however this reduces the wonder of being. We experience. That is a thing that defies real explaination. Our wet wired head calculators, at an informational level should simulate, calculate, spit out outputs, but we instead experience. We have the feeling of being alive, the experience of well, experiences, and there is no mechanical or logical explaination that I have heard that satisfactorily dispels the magic of that.

    Even if we make no choices, even if we might be passengers, witnesses - there is something irreducibly magical about consciousness, that any attempt to explain away, sounds immediately and baldly like handwaving.

    Perhaps in the face of subjectivity, having no choices, having no sure answers, and somehow being magically able to "be", a quest for meaning is not required. The output being simply - the process of being alive, in all its baffling mystery, its bliss and agony, terror and beauty.

    Thank you btw, for the conversation, and what my I ask is a granular fidelity heuristic?
    07-13-2017 12:36 AM
  10. LumPhile's Avatar
    But can we? If, indeed this life were, say, a video game played by bored aliens, then functionally it would be nearly meaningless because it would not interact much with the higher order reality, much like minecraft and santa claus. It would only seem to.

    Of course then one could argue, that its meaningful nonetheless, and so is, a novel, or a movie experience, not because of the outcome, but because of the experience of it.

    Which you have already alluded to being perhaps the bigger question - what meaning does life have, if any, and do we have any choice in it (and does that effect its meaning). This is essentially why we assume minecraft is non-functional, and a mack truck is - because of meaning.

    Meaning is a tricky one. Its really at its heart a question of output and input. Like minecraft versus the mack truck. But which particular outputs one is concerned with, can be subjective. If you are starving, the output of a dead fish, might be important, but if you are well fed, a dead fish might be irrelevant. In the same way, life meaning, can be an individually set goal framework.

    One could find life meaningful for hedonistic reasons, for existential expression, for the process of self-development, for the impact you have on the world around you, as a reflection of the self-importance of ego, or based on a set of values and virtues, or more. Like the dead fish, which ones are meaningful depend on the context.

    I guess however the greater question people ask, is "is there a greater context for our existence", or a universal sense of meaningful output.

    Determinism is a simpler problem in my mind, at least. Choice cannot be meaningfully reduced, mechanically to any description other than deterministic - we decide one thing or another, not out of a vacuum but because of our inner state, and thus out history. It is usually predictable as well. At minimum the sort of choice that defies, the ability for some complex computer algorythmn to determine would be rare. Perhaps there is something like "free will", something entirely unpredictable, but if it exists, it would be a rare thing.

    From a psychologicaly POV, I think choice is mostly an artefact of two separate styles of cognition. We have the "subconscious" which operates via a massively parallel, large volume of data, which is not contained or understood by the separate conceptual and logical cognition. This "instinctive" level, is not something where some data point, or impulse can be easily understood, so we get these driving impulses such as "this situation isn't safe", or 'I like this person", or "I feel like an apple' and we are left to invent or rationalise the reason why, without actually being privy to it.

    I don't think however this reduces the wonder of being. We experience. That is a thing that defies real explaination. Our wet wired head calculators, at an informational level should simulate, calculate, spit out outputs, but we instead experience. We have the feeling of being alive, the experience of well, experiences, and there is no mechanical or logical explaination that I have heard that satisfactorily dispels the magic of that.

    Even if we make no choices, even if we might be passengers, witnesses - there is something irreducibly magical about consciousness, that any attempt to explain away, sounds immediately and baldly like handwaving.

    Perhaps in the face of subjectivity, having no choices, having no sure answers, and somehow being magically able to "be", a quest for meaning is not required. The output being simply - the process of being alive, in all its baffling mystery, its bliss and agony, terror and beauty.

    Thank you btw, for the conversation, and what my I ask is a granular fidelity heuristic?
    Just a phrase I coined in an effort to distinguish clearly between"reality" and "quasi-reality". To illustrate: We can normally tell when we're dreaming because the contents of our dreams tend to be fuzzy, indistinct; without any apparent antecedents. But sometimes we have extremely realistic dreams, where we become convinced that we're having a first order experience😄 In those instances I would take an object, say a leaf, from my immediate surroundings and examine it carefully, at a granular level, for visual and tactile distinctness; then, coupled with clarity of antecedents, how I came to be in that particular location, I would be able to tell whether or not I was dreaming. The underlying principle can be adjusted to detect the degree of "realness" in other situations
    07-13-2017 08:34 AM
  11. Drael646464's Avatar
    Just a phrase I coined in an effort to distinguish clearly between"reality" and "quasi-reality". To illustrate: We can normally tell when we're dreaming because the contents of our dreams tend to be fuzzy, indistinct; without any apparent antecedents. But sometimes we have extremely realistic dreams, where we become convinced that we're having a first order experience������ In those instances I would take an object, say a leaf, from my immediate surroundings and examine it carefully, at a granular level, for visual and tactile distinctness; then, coupled with clarity of antecedents, how I came to be in that particular location, I would be able to tell whether or not I was dreaming. The underlying principle can be adjusted to detect the degree of "realness" in other situations
    Alzheimers and poor eyesight would be a problem then XD

    No that's an interesting method of reality testing. In lucid dreaming things like clocks are often non-existent, or don't "tick" properly.
    Light switches may not always work, or exist.

    I did have one dream, where I felt physical sensations, and it had a very high fidelity, but no antecedents.

    Interesting thought - I wonder is it possible to have a higher level of fidelity and antecedents than ordinary life, such that life appears as a dream :) Like to perhaps remember how you came to be alive in the first place for example.
    07-13-2017 09:53 AM
  12. LumPhile's Avatar
    Alzheimers and poor eyesight would be a problem then XD

    No that's an interesting method of reality testing. In lucid dreaming things like clocks are often non-existent, or don't "tick" properly.
    Light switches may not always work, or exist.

    I did have one dream, where I felt physical sensations, and it had a very high fidelity, but no antecedents.

    Interesting thought - I wonder is it possible to have a higher level of fidelity and antecedents than ordinary life, such that life appears as a dream :) Like to perhaps remember how you came to be alive in the first place for example.
    There are always exceptions. In fact, several years ago, I had a vivid dream which severely tested my system. Visual and tactile passed with flying colors. I was in a rural setting and it was early morning. Birds were twittering, the clean earthy smell of dew-laden grass was pervasive, and I could seemingly perceive the surrounding landscape with startling clarity. I looked across from where I was sitting and saw my car parked in a driveway. The only thing that didn't pan out was antecedent. But, thinking that I had somehow driven over a hundred miles, in a kind of somnambulant state, I began to panic. I cradled my head in my arms, closed my eyes, and began to strain my memory; trying desperately to establish a coherent chain of events. Try as I might I could not recall anything subsequent to going to bed the night before so, in despair, I opened my eyes and found myself in bed!
    Drael646464 likes this.
    07-13-2017 11:13 AM
  13. Kot Prada's Avatar
    Thought maybe a distraction from tech might be fun.

    Are we in a simulation? Is the world maya? How do we know any of this is "real"?
    It isn't. Nothing is real. And there is no such thing as "objective". Everything is subjective. Therefore, everything what matters is only Your decision about if it matters or not.

    Real in this case would be "the highest order of something of a nested set of existences".

    In the sense that for example a software program exists inside a physical reality, in this case it would "not be real", but virtue of not being "the highest order". So what happens in minecraft for example, wouldn't be 'real'.

    In the same way, if there were some "higher order of reality", like for example, the Buddhist nirvana, that would also make this 'not real', as with 'the universe being a computer program', all virtue of not being 'the highest order'.
    The problem is... do we have 5 levels of sense, which we can use to determine something... or 6?

    "What the bleep do we know" is a very interesting and entertaining book about this.

    Also, almost every book about quantum mechanics tries to operate such terms and to connect them with our world.
    Last edited by Guytronic; 07-21-2017 at 01:19 PM.
    07-14-2017 08:57 AM
  14. Drael646464's Avatar
    It isn't. Nothing is real. And there is no such thing as "objective". Everything is subjective. Therefore, everything what matters is only Your decision about if it matters or not.



    The problem is... do we have 5 levels of sense, which we can use to determine something... or 6?

    "What the bleep do we know" is a very interesting and entertaining book about this.

    Also, almost every book about quantum mechanics tries to operate such terms and to connect them with our world.
    What about 10, or 20?

    The author of brave new world famously compared consciousness to like a radio signal, and the brain to a receiver. That in certain states it can receive more "channels" than the singular channel its normally tuned to.

    If something like that were true, who knows whats "out there".

    It could also be more like platos shadows on the wall - this reality could be a lower order of reality, where you can see the 'puppet strings' if you manage to see outside of it. Like the matrix.
    Kot Prada likes this.
    07-22-2017 10:00 AM
  15. nickx91's Avatar
    I sometime think about this question. Is this world even real? What happens when we die? Is there really heaven and hell? Or nothing.
    07-25-2017 04:34 AM

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