• Manuel
    1.4k
    I hesitate to write about this as it's hard to be concise and explain oneself without writing a novella-length post. Here is my attempt:

    I think that the argument of the poverty of the stimulus (and the richness of the reply) to be true. Whatever stimulus hits us is extremely poor in comparison to how we react to it. We transform colourless, soundless phenomena and turn them automatically into the blue of the ocean and a symphony respectively.

    As I understand it, a photon hits our retina, which then sends signals to our brain, which in turn takes the sense data and turns it into the images we take for granted. I think there is good reason to believe that in order to have an image of the world, we need to have an innate structure that presents us a version of the world which we experience as X and not X2 or Y, etc.

    Our sight is limited, our hearing is limited, we can only withstand so much pressure, etc. Taking this to be true there seems to me to be two options.

    Either all there is in the world is what we experience and what science may say about some of these topics (science says little about literature or politics) or there is the world we experience, what science says about it and whatever else we simply cannot assimilate or register in any way, which happens to be quite important.

    On this last view, we only detect photons, see trees and oceans but there is also phenomena A, B and C which we simply cannot even detect in principle, but which plays a role in the way we construct the world. We cannot detect F and G because we don't have the capacity to discern it much the way we assume a frog would not be moved listening to Bach.

    I toy with the idea that there are many important phenomena in the world, which play a crucial causal influence in the way we view the world, but which we utterly fail to detect because we are human beings and not God (or angles, or intelligent aliens) .

    I have no way to prove this, but wanted to get a few reactions.

    Any thoughts?
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.1k
    Any thoughts?Manuel

    Our instruments detect what we can't detect though our senses, although not yet dark matter.

    Conscious experiences are of qualia as reality based 'apparitions' honed in the early years and onward from outward in and inward out into what is the best guess for the model and so soon one can tell a bottle of milk apart from what’s else. It’s not like the waves have a label on them saying that they came from the bottle but that one kept estimating the separate object into the best representation. Well, there is a bit of help in that light waves peel information of an object to help isolate it.

    In a night dream, the apparitions and phantasms are as true ghosts in that they have no outside basis, but the same world-simulating model is being employed, already having its best guess available.

    The identification of you as a self is also an experience as a best guess estimate.
  • AJJ
    711
    The writer/philosopher David Bentley Hart has written a bit about consciousness being fundamental to reality, i.e. God’s consciousness. He points out that for anything meaningfully to exist it must be possible to be conscious of it, and describes us as participating finitely in the consciousness of God. With that in mind I think the question is this: why would anything that is in God’s consciousness be off limits to ours?
  • Manuel
    1.4k
    Our instruments detect what we can't detect though our senses, although not yet dark matter.PoeticUniverse

    Yes, that's true. What I'm trying to point out, is that there are things in the world which our instruments cannot capture, simply because we don't have the capacity to detect these phenomena at all. We can only make machines that greatly amplify what we have access to in small amounts such as the electromagnetic spectrum.

    With that in mind I think the question is this: why would anything that is in God’s consciousness be off limits to ours?AJJ

    I didn't intend to focus on the God aspect, so I modified the OP a little. I used the concept as an illustration of our limits.

    As it stands now, the God we tend to postulate has "the good" we have, magnified infinitely. Something like that.

    An idea that illustrates what I have in mind would be that an Intelligent Alien can, for example, perceive how quantum indeterminacy happens in an intuitive matter. Much the way we intuit how the Sun goes around the Earth.
  • AJJ
    711


    Maybe, but then you’d have to ask if there are things not available to the alien’s consciousness. If there are, in what meaningful way do these things exist unless there is some other being conscious of them? If there is you meet the same question again. I’m actually agnostic about the existence of God, but questions of consciousness do seem to point in such a direction even if you don’t intend them to.

    I suppose on an atheist view any things that we or any other being can’t be even indirectly conscious of may as well not exist, so they don’t matter.
  • Banno
    14.2k
    He points out that for anything meaningfully to exist it must be possible to be conscious of it,AJJ

    Stove's Gem.
  • AJJ
    711


    I hadn’t heard of Stove’s Gem, but at a glance what I referred to isn’t that argument. Hart isn’t saying we can only know things within a limited framework; he’s pointing out that if it’s not possible to be conscious of a thing then that thing may as well not exist.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    We transform colourless, soundless phenomena and turn them automatically into the blue of the ocean and a symphony respectively.Manuel

    Or does the process work backwards? Or in both directions? We could also say that certain devices can be made in our vivid and smelly world if we play this weird game of math and colorless concepts. It's that important practically, but I find the leap from useful models to metaphysical foundations unnecessary. The unconscious metaphor seems to be something like Neo seeing the code of the matrix. It flatters the physicist if ordinary life is 'really' made of mathematical abstractions. But doesn't that lead to a mess? Mathematical abstractions are (we'd be tempted to say) 'mental.' And code, in the matrix example, is a human convention that we build in to hardware in the first place.

    there is the world we experience, what science says about it and whatever else we simply cannot assimilate or register in any way, which happens to be quite important.Manuel

    :up:

    That sounds right, and this could be framed as us being likely to keep finding more useful patterns in experience (or rather inventing, projecting, and learning to trust such patterns.)
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    Actually, I think something like that is not completely crazy. Perhaps we have access to parts of the visual spectrum they do not have, as in, we can see purple, but they can't. They see some colour "bluelet", which we cannot. We could appreciate music which for them would be noise, and so on.

    I agree, it is a problematic question to answer in what meaningful way do things exist if nobody could perceive them no matter a creature's cognitive makeup.

    I suppose on an atheist view any things that we or any other being can’t be even indirectly conscious off may as well not exist, so they don’t matter.AJJ

    I don't believe in the Abrahamic God, so I would be an atheist in this respect. As to the question of if such an "supreme entity" exists, well then I'd have to be agnostic too.

    If we can't even be indirectly conscious or aware or cognizant of something, would that settle the question of if such entities could be said to exist in nature?

    I know it goes completely off Occam's razor, but it's a useful exercise for thought, at least for me.
  • AJJ
    711


    I think either there’s an entity which is conscious of everything, which we’d call God (and we in principle could experience “extra” things too); or there are things which no being is conscious of, in which case those things may as well not exist, even if they do.
  • AJJ
    711


    And on each view I expect there’d remain things we can only experience indirectly, like electrons.
  • Manuel
    1.4k
    It flatters the physicist if ordinary life is 'really' made of mathematical abstractions. But doesn't that lead to a mess? Mathematical abstractions are (we'd be tempted to say) 'mental.' And code, in the matrix example, is a human convention that we build in to hardware in the first place.Zugzwang

    I think this depends on how one thinks about metaphysics. If by metaphysics one takes it that the world is described by physics and that physics tells us everything about the world, that is a poor metaphysics. As you seem to suggest, the world we experience is far richer than the surprising things physicist find out when they work on models.

    And yes, I think that's the "tough cookie", as it were. Some "scientistic" types would say the world is just physics and biology. But physics is discovered via math. And I literally don't know something less "realistic" (mind-independent) than mathematics.

    That sounds right, and this could be framed as us being likely to keep finding more useful patterns in experience (or rather inventing, projecting, and learning to trust such patterns.)Zugzwang

    Patterns which by necessity have to leave stuff out. Usually "noise" in the data, though not always.



    That's fine. Though I find the God terminology to be quite loaded.

    I think something like "things-in-themselves" (or noumena) , could serve as a concept which indicates this kind of talk.

    And on each view I expect there’d remain things we can only experience indirectly, like electrons.AJJ

    Yes. Which paradoxically is our most secure type of knowledge, outside of our own perceptions.
  • AJJ
    711


    I suppose “noumena” could cover it as well. But in that case I think there would have to remain things that can only be experienced indirectly by any being—otherwise you’d be inviting back in an infinite consciousness you’d have to term “God”. So perhaps collectively we already experience reality as much as is actually possible.
  • Manuel
    1.4k
    But in that case I think there would have to remain things that can only be experienced indirectly by any beingAJJ

    Yes. I suspect this is the case. Perhaps the grounds of reality are non-representable in nature, but nevertheless we are able to perceive its effects indirectly, in the form of photons or even colour-experience in everyday life.

    I know, this is wild, but there's something to this idea.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    But physics is discovered via math. And I literally don't know something less "realistic" (mind-independent) than mathematics.Manuel

    We're on the same page. Real numbers, Turing machines,...infinite fictions that (impressively) guide/inform the creation of all the tech we depend on.

    Patterns which by necessity have to leave stuff out. Usually "noise" in the data, though not always.Manuel

    Same page again. I can imagine another clever species from some exoplanet that uses patterns we see only as noise.

    Side issue: how would we recognize a superior intelligence? My vote is that we'd respect their greater ability to control and predict our common environment.
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.1k
    An idea that illustrates what I have in mind would be that an Intelligent Alien can, for example, perceive how quantum indeterminacy happens in an intuitive matter. Much the way we intuit how the Sun goes around the Earth.Manuel

    The Alien told me that instead the Earth goes around the sun; I explained that it was a typo.

    The Alien further said that we shouldn't focus on just one probabilistic result but find the general pattern, which is that the probabilities are unitary in that they add up to one, showing precise group behavior; this is the pattern.
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.1k
    I then asked the Alien, “Is there randomness?”

    “Your Anton Zeillinger found that randomness is the bedrock of reality to a confidence level of 3-sigma.”

    “I guess so, then, but why the randomness?”

    “The bedrock as the eternal fundamental with no beginning can’t have any input to it.”

    “Wow! That makes sense. Does this randomness carry through all the way up?”

    “Obviously, no; there is consistency in the laws of nature, regularities amenable to mathematics.”

    “When and how does the randomness go away?”

    “Gravity overcomes the vibrations that underlie superpositions when things get as large as a tiny piece of dust.”

    “How come we didn’t know that?”

    “Roger Penrose did, maybe.”

    “Or?”

    “When entities no longer touch the bedrock, or both ways, or another way, called decoherence.”

    “Ha, you don’t really know!”

    “I’ll have to ask an even higher alien.”
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    Yes an advanced alien would say that. The fact is that we intuit the Sun going round the Earth, we can't help seeing this clearly every day. We know that this is a mistake when we compare our image to the way the structure of the world is set up mind-independently.

    Yes, we find patterns, and we have an excellent pattern for 5% of the universe. Maybe it turns out that the postulated dark matter/dark energy is a miscalculation. Or it could be a particle we have difficulty detecting. It leaves the option open: some intelligent creature may have a more comprehensive pattern built up.



    It would be nice to be able to ask. :)
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.1k
    t would be nice to be able to ask.Manuel

    Oh, greatest of aliens, tell me what the future holds.

    No, for you won’t like it.

    I really want to know.

    OK; thus this thread can continue about what we can and can't know.

    In the Near Future, via the Great Quantum Computer projecting, he saw that:

    The Lake Tahoe area is mostly saved from the fires, but its ski chairlifts get charred.

    Afghanistan becomes a safe haven for terrorists to operate from and the Taliban go back to their old torturous ways, strictly enforcing the Will of Allah.

    What remained of Haiti from earthquakes was destroyed by a category 5 hurricane. They had but a few trees and none afterward, and so again the island suffered severe erosion. The hurricane kept right on going and ground Cuba into the ground.



    The Hoover Dam in the western U.S. held back nothing, its lake having gone dry. People suggested building a water pipeline to the west from the east, for the east had plenty of water from all the remnants of hurricanes that used up all the names from three alphabets in one year. Congress bickered over it and then killed it.

    Trump got reelected and still said that global warming was a hoax and defunded science. Evangelicals danced in the streets.

    The Covid Zeta variant virus had evolved to be able to remain alive for 400 feet and so this became the main concern for a while, drawing resources and attention away from the planet’s heat crisis until all the unvaccinated had died. Booster shots were needed for the rest.

    Meanwhile, the ice caps had melted and were gone. Greenland became truly green, whose name was but an advertising ploy after not so many had moved to Iceland, but then caught on fire and turned a charcoal color. Iceland had no more ice, and so was renamed ‘No-ice-land’.

    Much of the world had been ablaze for years now, and recently, a high cyclone, one of so many, had killed 150,000 people in Myanmar, and earthquakes had done in many more in China and elsewhere, as well as did a record number of tornados that had continued to sweep across many countries.

    Temperatures often hit 130F degrees.

    A tsunami sprung from the Atlantic and washed over Florida, coast to coast. Another one came forth in the Pacific, from the deep Marianas trench, sinking Baja. Mexico City disappeared into a sinkhole. Quebec Province was severed from Canada by quakes, and floated back towards France, where they had always wanted to be. Africa sunk two feet in an hour. The Indian ocean washed out Sri Lanka and entered the Indian subcontinent.

    Siberia sunk into a mush of methane gas, increasing the warming even more. Sicily got the boot from Italy. Alaska gushed oil all over the place. Gibraltar fell and sunk and closed off the Mediterranean Sea.

    All were aghast to see the LAX airport fracture, and slide into the ocean. The Amazon Jungle flooded, what was left of it after all the trees had been cut for lumber. Mauna Kea erupted and buried Hilo, Hawaii. Krakatoa came back to life. Sumatra went under. Finally, the San Andreas fault could take it no more and moved 1200 feet. What was left of California had become a small island. New Orleans was washed away like silt from a river. What was left of Mexico moved into Texas, where it used to be. Notre Dame Cathedral in France crumbled away into dust. The Eiffel Tower (Le Tour-i-fell), lived up to its name and tipped over.

    Trump declared martial law and gave himself another term in office. The Arizona county recount from 2021 was still going on.

    Russia shook and shook, destroying their nuclear reactors. Japan went under. In the Philippines, only the mountains broke the sea. Australia just about cracked in half. Antarctica sunk ten feet and out of sight. The pyramids crumbled, exposing the rulers of old. The Panama canal closed. Vatican City was no more. Rome was waterlogged. Venice was long gone.

    It was all the beginning of the mother of all near extinctions, one that might erase 99.99% of all life. A 50 mile section of the Alps disappeared from an earthquake, looking as if it were never there; you could see right through the gap. When all of Florida easily went under, being that it was already at sea level, the world had really woken up to the end of days, but it was much too late. Every very coastal city in the world had been inundated, for water always finds its way in. Northern Canada, along with its eastern and western sections, was no more, as part of the Great Lake of the North; only the now more temperate interior remained dry, it filling up with more and more people and tropical birds by the day.

    A small portion of Siberia was quite usable, too, for a while, only being at 100F degrees, and an ‘iffy’ part of Argentina was OK. Alaska was gone to its mountains, as were Central and Latin America, and most of Mexico. There were no more islands but for if they had high mountains, of course.

    The heat in the world had become totally unbearable, the temperatures now reaching 140 degrees F sometimes; crops would no longer grow. A new but rare and expensive form of food pill extended life for some of the rich. Most people really had no place to go. The pace of the disaster was startling, exceeding even the grimmest of predictions by scientists.

    Australia’s population, being mostly coastal, had retreated somewhat to the thin edge between its useless interior and the deep blue sea. The Great Inland Sea reappeared, then evaporated, and then returned. Meteorology had become a fruitless science; summer was now year-round everywhere.

    The Great Lakes were enlarging, even with their locks having been closed, for the water runneth over. Resistance was futile, for water was slippery stuff, its tiny hydrogen atoms easily rolling around the oxygen.

    Various schemes and solutions had been endlessly debated, most of them being as tough on mankind as the heat, the rest of them unattainable. It was all happening much too quickly. The estimates had been way off. Nature was now a dragon and she had roared, and was spewing her fiery breath upon her own fragile planet.

    Some ever had tried to live in their basements, but the heat still found them; some dug underground, but the floods came.

    Eskimos bought refrigerators and air-conditioners.

    Many near extinctions had happened before, one being only 174,000 years ago, when, at Toba, in northern Sumatra, a supervolcano erupted during an ice age. Six years of volcanic winter followed this eruption, bringing pre-humans to the very edge of elimination.

    There were but a few thousand of them left around, since very little light could reach the dusty ground. It took twenty thousand years for them to recompose from the caldron of fire that had almost brewed humanity away. It was from this handful of hardy souls that we modern humans arose.

    Due to the intense global warming and ice melting that reached a runaway exponential point, such as in calculus, the weather patterns had been greatly altered, and were bringing numerous and severe storms every day all over the globe, causing much interior flooding, plus wiping out most of the better crops that still had a chance to grow. Roads and tires had melted. The rate of destruction was becoming astronomical. No one could keep up with it; it was everyone for themselves.

    Charon had started using a fleet of huge ocean liners to ferry the damned dead across the River Styx.

    Billions had perished in a matter of a few years more, and there was little government infrastructure working anywhere. Humans were hardly a match for nature gone wild. It could and would only get worse unto the sure end.

    Trump still said that the 2020 election was flawed.



    Death seemed to be a way of life throughout history. That we were even here was due to the dinosaurs and 90% of all the species being wiped out. A small and nervous shrew-like creature looked out and ‘noted’: the dinosaurs, the forever Kings of the Earth, were gone. “Hurray, no I can evolve.” The shrews attached to a favorable evolutionary line. Every single one of our forbears on both sides had survived, they being attractive enough to locate a loving mate, with whom their love to celebrate.

    It no longer mattered that humans were on a one way trip from the quantum fluke, that maximal disorder within old Planck’s nook… to the escalation caused by the Dark Energy, the Universe heading toward the oblivion of its sparse and accelerated expansion, all that we ever loved and knew going to extinction; for, our world was ending now, or at least it was the beginning of the end, for the temperatures were still increasing daily.

    Al Gore had been the last one into the Washington bunkers, having steadfastly worked up to the end. Greta Thunberg went in with him.

    Some of the remaining nations of the world noted that they had indeed squandered the good things of life, squabbling over their differences in culture. Many had all been looking for truth in the wrong direction, which was back into the past of myth instead of to and for the future. They had fiddled, and now the world was burning.

    The Ninja Empire Grandmasters and their teams flew into Niihau on their last tanks of gas, there to take sanctuary and a vote for a desperate but uncertain plan. The landing strip now had a slight but tricky slope to it.

    Mountainous Niihau was somewhat unaffected, as were other of the higher island regions, although they were few and far between, for which the trade winds still brought some moderation; yet, the subtropical and near tropical areas were now all very much overly tropical.

    On Niihau, Jack, a young master, had to walk the last mile on the new beach that had formed inland. The world’s roulette wheel was rolling double zero on what might soon be the last survivable day on Earth, and a hurricane was headed in his direction. Tsunamis had washed deeper and deeper inland everywhere; most of the internet no longer functioned.

    The top dragon, Old Rascal, as the new #1 West, awaited them all. A rainbow appeared as the spirit of the previous GrandMaster West, flying through, past them, as the scent on the breeze and as the vision of the courage to act.

    The votes had been counted. Grandmaster Rascal had now engaged one of the last working underground silos. Grandmaster Trish, #1 East, keyed in the codes and nodded to him, saying “Would you like to do the honors?”

    “Yes, for unto me falls life’s last duty. Nature will now have to contend with herself. It will be fire versus ice, dragon against dragon, just as shown by the picture on the great China wall; however, this could well be the end for all of us.”

    “Or not, if it works,” she answered.

    “Hopefully, global warming will be defeated by the worldwide dust in the atmosphere, stopping it. The years will tell; it is our only hope. Ashes will fall everywhere like snow, and then real snow will fall.”

    Rascal pressed the button: Nuclear missiles were being fired deep into the heart of the Yellowstone caldera. At least seven surrounding states and two Canadian provinces would be obliterated; yet, winter would come, probably bringing its own array of problems to contend with, but, then, after that, could spring be far behind?
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    Much of that is probably true. But it goes well beyond the topic of the OP.
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    I have no way to prove this, but wanted to get a few reactions.

    Any thoughts?
    Manuel

    Not a criticism, but isn't this a fairly frequently postulated idea? It isn't just our senses that are at issue here but consciousness itself. Hence the work of phenomenology and its move away from the idea that we have access to an objective reality to their notion of intersubjectivity. @Wayfarer often points to the observer problem in science - human beings use their senses and conceptual frameworks to construct a version of reality which appears to be tentative and fallible and subject to revisions.

    I personally find myself staring Stove's Gem fairly often.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    It may be a common idea, there are quite a few in the idealist tradition who believe in this. But I at least wanted to narrow it down somewhat.

    I personally don't know about the observer effect in QM. I know Wayfarer argues that it is important, highlighting some of the people who think observation is important. Most physicists do not. Doesn't mean the majority is right, but it makes one pause a bit.

    I suppose Bryan Magee articulated this view quite well. I think it's likely true, in ways we can't comprehend.
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    I personally don't know about the observer effect in QM. I know Wayfarer argues that it is important, highlighting some of the people who think observation is important.Manuel

    I was referring more to the work of people like Evan Thompson and Michel Bitbol and the fabled 'blind spot' or observer problem - we seem not to see that the scientific worldview itself is a human perspective, not an objective one. Reality is only that which we are able to identify from a human perspective.

    Wayfarer has posted this several times.

    https://aeon.co/essays/the-blind-spot-of-science-is-the-neglect-of-lived-experience

    I'd like to read a physicalist response.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    I was referring more to the work of people like Evan Thompson and Michel Bitbol and the fabled 'blind spot' or observer problem - we seem not to see that the scientific worldview itself is a human perspective, not an objective one. Reality is only that which we are able to identify from a human perspective.Tom Storm

    :clap: Happy that you've taken that on board, I think it's a really fundamental point.

    I'd like to read a physicalist response.Tom Storm

    I posted that essay in 2019, it elicited a good discussion but also a fair amount of hostility which at one point turned into a pile-on. There's actually a kind of taboo associated with this topic.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/6009/page/p1

    I personally find myself staring Stove's Gem fairly often.Tom Storm

    Oddly worded, but I will mention, if I haven't already, that I studied Hume under Stove when I did my undergraduate degree. He was a delight of a lecturer, impish, with an amazing ability to put things in different perspectives. He was very kind to me, considering what a self-opinionated New Ager I must have been. But his 'stove's Gem' invective is not against Kant per se, but against cultural relativism and post-modernism - 'perspectivism' in the vulgar sense. Jim Franklin, who was also around the Uni at that time and who is now a UNSW academic, has ventured this analysis. I don't think much of it ('Stove's Gem') myself. (Franklin also has written some very interesting things on Aristotelian philosophy of maths.)

    To go back to the OP:

    we only detect photons,Manuel

    Actually, photon-detectors detect photons. They're specialised bits of equipment to do just that. The idea that photons (and atoms) are what is 'really there' was really being called into question already by the time of Arthur Eddington's book, Nature of the Physical World, between the Wars. Obviously they're part of the story, but I think the notion of 'fundamental particles' is now rather passé'. Schrodinger called attention to that also in many of his later philosophical writings:

    I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously. — Schrodinger, Nature and the Greeks

    That is, not unless your Daniel Dennett, when you take them deadly seriously.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    I would assume Dennett or Rosenberg or Churchland(s), would have something to say. Not that I can tolerate that literature for too long...
  • Manuel
    1.4k
    Actually, photon-detectors detect photons. They're specialised bits of equipment to do just that. The idea that photons (and atoms) are what is 'really there' was really being called into question already by the time of Arthur Eddington's book, Nature of the Physical World, between the Wars.Wayfarer

    Yes. Correct. It's a shorthand description. We detect photons through equipment.

    Eddington's book is quite good, if a bit dated. But he has the merit of pointing out the main issue of how much is left unsaid, once everything's been analyzed in physics.

    I think Whitehead has merit too, but he is often too obscure. But if you take the classical pragmatists, they were quite sober in how they assessed the situation.

    Contemporarily, I think only Tallis really stands out as making a similar point to Eddington.

    On the other hand, people like Rovelli and Sean Carroll, though the latter a bit scientistic, are quite sensible. So times may be changing.
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    But his 'stove's Gem' invective is not against Kant per se, but against cultural relativism and post-modernism - 'perspectivism' in the vulgar sense. Jim Franklin, who was also around the Uni at that time and who is now a UNSW academic, has ventured this analysis. I don't think much of it, myself. (Franklin also has written some very interesting things on Aristotelian philosophy of maths.Wayfarer

    Thanks. Boy, that Aeon piece did stir the possum around here.
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.1k
    I'd like to read a physicalist response.Tom Storm

    That we have senses indicates that they take something in, called noumena, and then makes it way through the brain and on into the phenomena of consciousness, and since we can navigate the world we know that we have a useful representation.

    From the article:

    To bring the point home, consider that in certain intense states of absorption – during meditation, dance or highly skilled performances – the subject-object structure can drop away, and we are left with a sense of sheer felt presence. How is such phenomenal presence possible in a physical world? Science is silent on this question.

    However,
    In meditation, the resulting quietus
    Of the brain’s self-boundary & ID center
    Via focus on mantras, hymns, or prayers
    Is but a neurological effect, nothing more,
    Thus one does not become one with the Cosmos.

    (Tested via electrodes in Buddhist monk meditators)
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.1k
    So, then, to continue, given that we build things 'out there' via our representations 'in here', using material that's 'out there', and the devices work 'out there' and remain 'out there, such as a computer, as known 'in here', the noumena work quite well.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    Yes. The curious aspect of this, within the modern-day rationalist tradition exemplified by Chomsky and McGinn, is that the stuff "out there", is quite peripheral to the magnitude of impact we feel "in here".

    That is to say, our exposure to any object in the world, is so brief, quick and fleeting, that only very brief exposure leads to an image which we have no reason to believe exists "out there", as far as manifest reality goes.

    McGinn's short book,Inborn Knowledge: The Mystery Within, is quite instructive, I think. It's quite strange really. And if you consider not only the images we get, but the concepts we attribute to things, it's pretty amazing how much we bring forth in constructing the given.
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