• Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Nick Bostrom's the guy who posited The Simulation Hypothesis, the long and short of which is that we could be living in a computer simulation, a virtual world.

    The simulation hypothesis has origins in ancient Greece (Plato's allegory of the cave), in Buddhism (maya), in China (Chuang Tzu and his butterfly dream). It was revived by Descartes (deus deceptor), updated by Harmann (brain-in-a-vat), digitized by Nick Bostrom.

    What I find intriguing is that these essentially skeptical hypotheses (questioning the authenticity of reality) are predicated on one singular truth: We can't tell the difference between reality and illusion.

    From a Wittgensteinian standpoint there's no essence to either illusions/simulations or reality that could aid us in telling them apart.

    A penny for your thoughts...
  • SpaceDweller
    417
    Modern way of interpreting simulation is computer simulation, for which I think it's possible to tell the difference.

    However argument against computer simulation is that it would take unimaginable amounts of computing power to simulate entire universe to such great details.
  • Michael
    10.4k
    What I find intriguing is that these essentially skeptical hypotheses (questioning the authenticity of reality) are predicated on one singular truth: We can't tell the difference between reality and illusion.Agent Smith

    If we've only ever experienced one then how could we know which it is we've experienced? Obviously if there was a noticeable difference between reality and illusions, and if we've experienced both, then we can tell whether or not this is real or an illusion, but if we've only ever experienced an illusion then how can we tell that it's an illusion?
  • Joshs
    3.2k
    From a Wittgensteinian standpoint there's no essence to either illusions/simulations or reality that could aid us in telling them apart.Agent Smith

    Wittgenstein explains that in interacting with others, we create the sense of meaning of words out of the context. These senses of meaning are realities constructed out of the fusion of our past histories with words with the novelty of the immediate context. I’m not sure that this idea of the real as socially constructed sense is compatible with your real vs illusion binary, which seems to depend on the context and culture-independence of what is real.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k


    Yeah, that makes sense, but until we've done the calculations and have some hard figures to prove/suggest that is the case, I'm afraid simulations are still in the game.

    Indeed, you're on target. We have to experience both - reality & illusion - to be able to tell the two apart. However, this is an empirical claim (experience being crucial to the issue). What about the rationalist position? Shouldn't we be able to deduce the difference?



    Visit Wikipedia entry on private language, scroll down to the statement on how (paraphrasing) pain collapses the appearance/reality distinction. The takeaway seems to be that languages are unable to penetrate the inner sanctum, pain taken as representative, of consciousness. Can a coder/programmer code for private experiences like the ones Wittgenstein talks about in his well-known private language argumen? Perhaps our inner private lives are linguistically inaccessible because the creator of the simulation, if we are in one, wanted to, well, hide something in there from us. You see two heads are better than one, more the merrier, but in this case, no number of heads can solve the riddle of consciousness.
  • Michael
    10.4k
    What about the rationalist position? Shouldn't we be able to deduce the difference?Agent Smith

    From what premises?
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    From what premises?Michael

    I dunno! Metaphysics time?
  • Joshs
    3.2k
    The takeaway seems to be that languages are unable to penetrate the inner sanctum, pain taken as representative, of consciousness. Can a coder/programmer code for private experiences like the ones Wittgenstein talks about in his well-known private language argumen? Perhaps our inner private lives are linguistically inaccessible because the creator of the simulation, if we are in one, wanted to, well, hide something in there from us. You see two heads are better than one, more the merrier, but in this case, no number of heads can solve the riddle of consciousness.Agent Smith

    If we incorporate phenomenology to supplement Wittgenstein’s focus on interpersonal linguistic situations , we find that there is no such thing as ‘inner’ pre-linguistic experience. All sensory perception ( pain, vision, touch, hearing) is irreducible interpretive , a blending of prior expectation and appearance. All perception is constructive and perspectival. There is no ‘inside’ to consciousness, awareness is out in the world , as our interactions. So ‘inner’ perception works much the way that Wittgenstein’s language games function, as a pre-verbal language of sensation From this perspective the idea of a matrix, a simulation by an evil genius, is non-sensicalx, since whatever stimulation is beanies our way, we have to intercept it from our own perspective in ways that are pragmatically useful
    for us. So the ‘same’ simulation or matrix will always be experienced in differing ways by different persons.
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k

    I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content. — Queen of the Black Coast (1934)
    :fire: Amor fati.
  • RogueAI
    1.1k
    The simulation argument is different in that a necessary condition for reality being a simulation is that consciousness can be simulated/is a product of computation. If consciousness can't be simulated, then we're not living in a simulation.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    The simulation argument is different in that a necessary condition for reality being a simulation is that consciousness can be simulated/is a product of computation. If consciousness can't be simulated, then we're not living in a simulationRogueAI

    @Michael

    :up: Deduction! Magnifique mon ami.

    Can consciousness be simulated? What's the difference between God (a creator deity) and a programmer of a simulation world?

    Is God a mathematician programmer? — Mario Livio
  • Wayfarer
    15.8k
    A penny for your thoughts.Agent Smith

    It's nihilism, pure and simple. Nothing has any real meaning.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    It's nihilism, pure and simple. Nothing has any real meaning.Wayfarer

    How true! If this world is a simulation, it would indeed be meaningless, given meaning is inseparably tied to the real. Nihilistic delusions (check out Wikipedia) are, on the whole, simply denials of the realness/authenticity of lived experience; Cotard's delusion (I don't exist) being an extremum, when one considers the fact that as per Descartes, cogito ergo sum.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Yep, the what it is like (to be a bat)? (qualia, 1st person point of view) "drops out of consideration as irrelevant" (Private Language Argument).

    However, what I said above doesn't imply that there's no, as you put it, jnside to consciousness; it's just that we can't discuss it among ourselves in a meaningful way (beetle-in-a-box gedanken experiment).
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    If consciousness can't be simulated, then we're not living in a simulation.RogueAI
    ... or we're 'delusional zombies' – eliminationists – living in a simulation.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    If consciousness can't be simulated, then we're not living in a simulation.
    — RogueAI
    ... or we're 'delusional zombies' – eliminationists – living in a simulation.
    180 Proof

    Zombies, supposedly, lack an inner life; they're unconscious as it were. Does that mean, from a Freudian & Jungian perspective (the unconscious), we're, contrary to our beliefs, NOT self-aware or we're only partially self-aware?
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k

    From a Metzingerian perspectiive, "self" is a (persistently embodied) phenomenal illusion re: .
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    From a Metzingerian perspectiive, "self" is a (persistently embodied) phenomenal illusion re: ↪180 Proof180 Proof

    Old habits die hard!

    Though it's addressed to Possibility.. I would like to reiterate again the fallacy of mixing the components of the phenomenon for the phenomenon itself. Even if "self" was an illusion, the reality of "self" in the construct of a human doesn't go away by simply "realizing" this (if that is even true in the first place that we are an illusion, whatever that means). Thus yes, the Cogito does make sense in this situation. There are certain realities that one can't, by fiat of argument, make go away, and thus try to push through as some proof of non-suffering (or "really suffering") for the sake of argument.schopenhauer1
  • Michael
    10.4k
    The simulation argument is different in that a necessary condition for reality being a simulation is that consciousness can be simulated/is a product of computation. If consciousness can't be simulated, then we're not living in a simulation.RogueAI

    Sure. Bostrom does say:

    Many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations. Suppose that these simulated people are conscious (as they would be if the simulations were sufficiently fine-grained and if a certain quite widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind is correct). Then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race.

    The related notion of Boltzmann brains wouldn't require this premise.
  • Joshs
    3.2k
    what I said above doesn't imply that there's no, as you put it, jnside to consciousness; it's just that we can't discuss it among ourselves in a meaningful way (beetle-in-a-box gedanken experiment).Agent Smith

    Your notion of consciousness and self is a bit too Cartesian. There is no inside to consciousness in the sense of some container with a substance, essence or content that sits there waiting to be reflected on. Consciousness is self-changing. That IS its only essence.
    It makes no sense to talk about reflection as a mirror or distortion of something that is never simply itself but is always a new differential.
  • RogueAI
    1.1k
    ... or we're 'delusional zombies' – eliminationists – living in a simulation.180 Proof

    That seems pretty unlikely.
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    No more "unlikely" than that we are living in a simulation.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Your notion of consciousness and self is a bit too Cartesian. There is no inside to consciousness in the sense of some container with a substance, essence or content that sits there waiting to be reflected on. Consciousness is self-changing. That IS its only essence.
    It makes no sense to talk about reflection as a mirror or distortion of something that is never simply itself but is always a new differential.
    Joshs

    I don't quite follow, sorry!
  • RogueAI
    1.1k
    I agree with that.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    I don't quite follow, sorry!Agent Smith

    I'm not surprised.

    It's not just that there is no essence that can help us distinguish the real from the simulated; it's that we are utterly embedded in a world, such that how we make use of words, including real and simulated is part of that world. The use of the word is what we ought consider when questions of meaning arise if clarity is our goal.

    So for a first position, simulations in this world are quite different to reality; we have no difficulty in knowing when we are in a simulation and when we are not. Simulations occur within the world. Hence the first position of one following Wittgenstein might well be that the notion of the world being an hallucination is nonsense; that we cannot make sense of the idea of the whole world being a simulation.

    We can dig deeper.

    Austin, a contemporary of Wittgenstein, pointed out that we can tell the difference between reality and illusion. If we could not, we would not have the term "illusion" and its cognates. We and our language has developed ways of sorting out illusion from reality. Hence the assumption you bolded is wrong.

    But we can go further, and ask what it might be like if we could not tell illusion from reality. We could not in that case have formed the distinction between illusion and reality. Hence, if the whole universe were a simulation, it would still be real. The way we use the word "real" applies to the things within the simulation.

    Another way of putting this is that if it were true that the universe were a simulation, nothing in the universe would be different. That's Michael's point:
    If we've only ever experienced one then how could we know which it is we've experienced?Michael

    And further still, the reason the Matrix works as a plot (a debatable point...) is that the characters can move between the simulation and the real world. Without that premise there is no story. Similarly, without access to the meta-world in which this world is being simulated, the whole notion is moot; it amounts to nothing.

    So is this world a simulation? If it is, given the consideration above, there is nothing to be said about it.

    So the Wittgensteinian response is "Meh."

    incorporation of phenomenological considerations notwithstanding.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Hence the first position of one following Wittgenstein might well be that the notion of the world being an hallucination is nonsense; that we cannot make sense of the idea of the whole world being a simulation.Banno

    Aye! It dawned on me, a coupla days ago, that The Simulation Hypothesis [all versions of it from Plato (Allegory of the Cave), Chuang Tzu (Butterfly dream), Gautama (Maya), through Descartes (deus deceptor), Harmann (brain in a vat), to Nick Bostrom (Simulation Hypothesis)] is unfaslifiable. The reason? The Simulation Hypothesis is predicated on the indistinguishability of reality from simulation. What I mean is The Simulation Hypothesis is pseudoscience which, to some, means poppycock. Odd that, because it's got "skepticism" written all over it and we know for a fact that science is big on skepticism.

    Austin, a contemporary of Wittgenstein, pointed out that we can tell the difference between reality and illusion. If we could not, we would not have the term "illusion" and its cognates. We and our language has developed ways of sorting out illusion from reality. Hence the assumption you bolded is wrong.Banno

    Read above. Gracias!

    Another way of putting this is that if it were true that the universe were a simulation, nothing in the universe would be different.Banno

    For sure! Hence my point that we can't tell apart simulations from reality.

    So the Wittgensteinian response is "Meh."Banno

    :up:

    Question for you if you've followed my reasoning:

    Is the unfalsifiabilty of The Simulation Hypothesis because

    1. We don't know enough. There is a way to differentiate simulations from reality, we just don't know how...yet!

    or

    2. We can't know. The Simulation Hypothesis is unfalsfiable in principle.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Consciousness is self-changingJoshs

    :up:

    Like second-order predictions (vide Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari) that have an effect on the predictions. A very simple idea: If I foretell your future, you can change it by doing something different!
  • Antony Nickles
    517
    We can't tell the difference between reality and illusion.Agent Smith

    If we call this a hypothesis, then it gives it the framework of a problem with thus an answer. But if we look at it as an analogy, it would be to illuminate something else (about knowledge), or if a fantasy (imagining) maybe we learn about our selves (our desires). I think @Banno is approaching it as, yes, we can tell (answer the question), and this shows that real and fake have more ordinary, practical incarnations. But sometimes we just can't know what is happening, or can't shake off that feeling of being unmoored, or want there to not be (or to be) unknowable.

    From a Wittgensteinian standpoint there's no essence to either illusions/simulations or reality that could aid us in telling them apart.Agent Smith

    The realization from Witt is not that there is no essence (though something else...) to answer the problem, nor that they problem is nonsense, but that we don't solve the problem with knowledge, we live with it as part of our human condition. We act without knowing outcomes, we react to the other without knowing whether their pain is real. We have chances, and consequences, and carry hopes and are swindled.

    The takeaway seems to be that languages are unable to penetrate the inner sanctum, pain taken as representative, of consciousness. Can a coder/programmer code for private experiences like the ones Wittgenstein talks about in his well-known private language argumen? Perhaps our inner private lives are linguistically inaccessible because the creator of the simulation, if we are in one, wanted to, well, hide something in there from us.Agent Smith

    And this is another part Witt realizes (drawn out further by Cavell): the other is unknown, yes, because they are their secret to tell, but also, my desire to only know them is a refusal by me to enter into a different relationship to them apart from knowledge. My desire for control, for simplicity, for certainty, to be without responsibility for/to them; and even more, to not be known in the process, to not reveal myself in making assumptions, pre-judgments, etc.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k


    What you say is debatable! Wittgenstein was specifically concerned about language in relation to philosophy. He, as far as I can tell, declared, with confidence I might add, that all philosophical issues were, get this, pseudo-problems - they were simply artifacts, so to speak, of language (linguistically-generated illusions)

    Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language. — Ludwig Wittgenstein

    I haven't been able to get my hands on both of his books, but that's the gist of Wittgensteinism in my humble opinion.

    Part of the human condition? Yeah, all roads lead to Rome. I'm sensing a pattern here; quasi-postmodernism or postmodernism proper or a variation of it.
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