• Wayfarer
    7.6k
    I often feel as though you don’t understand what I’ve written, and then accuse me of sidestepping or not answering. I think my post addresses the question of why, if objective realism is not the case, that we all perceive common objects.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    On the contrary I understand what you've written and I see clearly that the mere fact of the general form of our mental constitutions and social and cultural conditioning being more or less the same could only explain commonality betwwen the ways in which we perceive not the common content of what we perceive. If you disagree then you will need to explain how it could.
  • g0d
    80
    If we claim that we are made of physical entities, then we ought to explain how these give rise to experiences, and if we can't then there is something missing in the idea that we are made of physical entities, as it isn't an idea that fits the very fact that we experience.leo

    This is good point. If we are made of physical entities, then it appears our concept of the physical entity is missing something. How does a sperm cell and an egg cell join together and eventually become what we call conscious?

    The mobius strip boggles the mind. We use concepts (if we still want to call them that) to divide experience into self and world. If we stretch out theoretical imaginations, we can imagine a pure plane of experience. (I cross it out because the 'ego' that experiences is one more experience.)

    You may have already looked at this, but in case not:

    Colours, sounds, temperatures, pressures, spaces, times, and so forth, are connected with one another in manifold ways; and with them are associated dispositions of mind, feelings, and volitions. Out of this fabric, that which is relatively more fixed and permanent stands prominently forth, engraves itself on the memory, and expresses itself in language. Relatively greater permanency is exhibited, first, by certain complexes of colours, sounds, pressures, and so forth, functionally connected in time and space, which therefore receive special names, and are called bodies. Absolutely permanent such complexes are not.
    ...
    The apparent permanency of the ego consists chiefly in the single fact of its continuity, in the slowness of its changes. The many thoughts and plans of yesterday that are continued today, and of which our environment in waking hours incessantly reminds us (whence in dreams the ego can be very indistinct, doubled, or entirely wanting), and the little habits that are unconsciously and involuntarily kept up for long periods of time, constitute the groundwork of the ego. There can hardly be greater differences in the egos of different people, than occur in the course of years in one person. When I recall today my early youth, I should take the boy that I then was, with the exception of a few individual features, for a different person, were it not for the existence of the chain of memories. Many an article that I myself penned twenty years ago impresses me now as something quite foreign to myself.
    ...
    Colours, sounds, and the odours of bodies are evanescent. But their tangibility, as a sort of constant nucleus, not readily susceptible of annihilation, remains behind; appearing as the vehicle of the more fugitive properties attached to it. Habit, thus, keeps our thought firmly attached to this central nucleus, even when we have begun to recognise that seeing hearing, smelling, and touching are intimately akin in character. A further consideration is, that owing to the singularly extensive development of mechanical physics a kind of higher reality is ascribed to the spatial and to the temporal than to colours, sounds, and odours; agreeably to which, the temporal and spatial links of colours, sounds, and odours appear to be more real than the colours, sounds and odours themselves.
    ...
    That in this complex of elements, which fundamentally is only one, the boundaries of bodies and of the ego do not admit of being established in a manner definite and sufficient for all cases, has already been remarked. To bring together elements that are most intimately connected with pleasure and pain into one ideal mental-economical unity, the ego; this is a task of the highest importance for the intellect working in the service of the pain-avoiding, pleasure-seeking will. The delimitation of the ego, therefore, is instinctively effected, is rendered familiar, and possibly becomes fixed through heredity. Owing to their high practical importance, not only for the individual, but for the entire species, the composites " ego " and " body " instinctively make good their claims, and assert themselves with elementary force. In special cases, however, in which practical ends are not concerned, but where knowledge is an end in itself, the delimitation in question may prove to be insufficient, obstructive, and untenable.

    Similarly, class-consciousness, class-prejudice, the feeling of nationality, and even the narrowest-minded local patriotism may have a high importance, for certain purposes. But such attitudes will not be shared by the broad-minded investigator, at least not in moments of research. All such egoistic views are adequate only for practical purposes. Of course, even the investigator may succumb to habit. Trifling pedantries and nonsensical discussions; the cunning appropriation of others' thoughts, with perfidious silence as to the sources; when the word of recognition must be given, the difficulty of swallowing one's defeat, and the too common eagerness at the same time to set the opponent's achievement in a false light: all this abundantly shows that the scientist and scholar have also the battle of existence to fight, that the ways even of science still lead to the mouth, and that the pure impulse towards knowledge is still an ideal in our present social conditions.
    — Mach
    https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/mach.htm
  • BrianW
    773
    Legs -> Walking -> Movement.
    Brain -> Awareness -> Consciousness.

    If legs are restricted, it is impossible to walk. However, movement is still possible.
    Can there be consciousness without awareness in the brain?

    (The body of a brain-dead person can survive on life-support machines for a long time. So, without the brain, how do the body parts and organs detect, process and respond to stimulus? Is it all mechanical? Or are there parts of the neural network that are still functional? If so, perhaps consciousness is not of the brain, a notion we've always suspected, science has hints but nobody wants to admit it could be true. Is there something to this... ?)
  • g0d
    80
    I'll add a little more that sketches his character.
    The primary fact is not the ego, but the elements (sensations). What was said on p. 21 as to the term " sensation " must be borne in mind. The elements constitute the I. s have the sensation green, signifies that the element green occurs in a given complex of other elements (sensations, memories). When I cease to have the sensation green, when I die, then the elements no longer occur in the ordinary, familiar association. That is all. Only an ideal mental-economical unity, not a real unity, has ceased to exist. The ego is not a definite, unalterable, sharply bounded unity. None of these attributes are important; for all vary even within the sphere of individual life; in fact their alteration is even sought after by the individual. Continuity alone is important. ...But continuity is only a means of preparing and conserving what is contained in the ego. This content, and not the ego, is the principal thing. This content, however, is not confined to the individual. With the exception of some insignificant and valueless personal memories, it remains presented in others even after the death of the individual. — Mach

    Note how willing he is to let the 'valueless and personal memories' go. He takes the impersonal personally. The 'content' (the flame) is what's important and not the container (the candle). Of course we don't see the flame without its candle, so the body is the temple of god 'content.'

    And this dude resisted the theory of the atom. That's how skeptical he was. Was his passion for understanding not spiritual somehow?

    And here's the cash value:
    The plain man is familiar with blindness and deafness, and knows from his everyday experience that the look of things is influenced by his senses; but it never occurs to him to regard the whole world as the creation of his senses. He would find an idealistic system, or such a monstrosity as solipsism, intolerable in practice.

    It may easily become a disturbing element in unprejudiced scientific theorising when a conception which is adapted to a particular and strictly limited purpose is promoted in advance to be the foundation of all investigation. This happens, for example, when all experiences are regarded as " effects " of an external world extending into consciousness. This conception gives us a tangle of metaphysical difficulties which it seems impossible to unravel. But the spectre vanishes at once when we look at the matter as it were in a mathematical light, and make it clear to ourselves that all that is valuable to us is the discovery of functional relations, and that what we want to know is merely the dependence of experiences or one another. It then becomes obvious that the reference to unknown fundamental variables which are not given (things-in-themselves) is purely fictitious and superfluous. But even when we allow this fiction, uneconomical though it be, to stand at first, we can still easily distinguish different classes of the mutual dependence of the elements of " the facts of consciousness "; and this alone is important for us.
    ...
    The biological task of science is to provide the fully developed human individual with as perfect a means of orientating himself as possible. No other scientific ideal can be realised, and any other must be meaningless.

    The philosophical point of view of the average man - if that term may be applied to his naive realism - has a claim to the highest consideration. It has arisen in the process of immeasurable time without the intentional assistance of man. It is a product of nature, and is preserved by nature. Everything that philosophy has accomplished - though we may admit the biological justification of every advance, nay, of every error - is, as compared with it, but an insignificant and ephemeral product of art. The fact is, every thinker, every philosopher, the moment he is forced to abandon his one-sided intellectual occupation by practical necessity, immediately returns to the general point of view of mankind. Professor X., who theoretically believes himself to be a solipsist, is certainly not one in practice when he has to thank a Minister of State for a decoration conferred upon him, or when he lectures to an audience. The Pyrrhonist who is cudgelled in Moliere's Le Mariage force, does not go on saying " Il me semble que vous me battez," but takes his beating as really received.

    Nor is it the purpose of these " introductory remarks " to discredit the standpoint of the plain man. The task which we have set ourselves is simply to show why and for what purpose we hold that standpoint during most of our lives, and why and for what purpose we are provisionally obliged to abandon it. No point of view has absolute, permanent validity. Each has importance only for some given end. ...
    — Mach
    https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/mach.htm
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    The primary fact is not the ego, but the elements (sensations). What was said on p. 21 as to the term " sensation " must be borne in mind. The elements constitute the I. s have the sensation green, signifies that the element green occurs in a given complex of other elements (sensations, memories). When I cease to have the sensation green, when I die, then the elements no longer occur in the ordinary, familiar association. That is all. Only an ideal mental-economical unity, not a real unity, has ceased to exist. ,,]all that is valuable to us is the discovery of functional relations, and that what we want to know is merely the dependence of experiences or one another. — Mach


    Balderdash! Mach was a rank materialist, which I discovered when I first encountered him in 1979, Notice the reference to 'ideal mental-economical unity' (whatever that means) - but there's nothing ideal about sensations. According to traditional philosophy, ideas and sensations belong to completely different ontological levels, namely that of form and matter, respectively. Logic consists, not of the relationship of experiences, but of ideas (including number and arithmetical proofs etc.) These are not 'experiences' and nobody 'experiences' them. When you see a mathematical proof - well, you migjht have an experience, 'Eureka', or whatever, but the seeing of it is not an experience at all, it is the operation of reason, which solely concerns the relationship of ideas.

    The philosophical point of view of the average man - if that term may be applied to his naive realism - has a claim to the highest consideration. It has arisen in the process of immeasurable time without the intentional assistance of man. ...The fact is, every thinker, every philosopher, the moment he is forced to abandon his one-sided intellectual occupation by practical necessity, immediately returns to the general point of view of mankind. — Mach

    Nonsense on stilts, empiricism run amuck.
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    Here, gOd, as one of the few omniscient beings on this forum, you will appreciate the delightfully-named Afrikan Spir. The three short paragraphs on his philosophy contain more substance than anything ever composed by Ernst Mach qua philosopher. (I noted in particular the likely relationship between the section under Ontology with the Parmenides.)
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    Still another important event the work [Thought and Reality] of African Spir. ...This work clarified my ideas on the meaning of life remarkably, and in some ways strengthened them. The essence of Spir's doctrine is that things do not exist, but only our impressions which appear to us in our conception as objects. Conception (Vorstellung) has the quality of believing in the existence of objects. This comes from the fact that the quality of thinking consists in attributing an objectivity to impressions, a substance, and a projecting of them into space. — Tolstoy

    That is consistent with my post of yesterday, which expresses a very similar idea.
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    reading that passage from Tolstoy again, a caveat - when Tolstoy says 'things do not exist', I would say 'things do not have inherent reality'. It means almost the same thing, but not quite, and the difference makes a difference. The difference is, that there are are degrees of reality, whereby objects exist in some sense, but are not intrinsically real; they can be more or less real. Whereas in modern thought, as existence is univocal, it has only one meaning - things either exist or don't exist.

    So I would paraphrase the 'things do not exist, but only our impressions which appear to us in our conception as objects' as 'things do not possess inherent reality, but their reality is imputed by observers.' Which is, again, close in meaning to the Copenhagen interpretation attitude.
  • leo
    366
    I largely agree. If we take 'mind-independent' in a sharp, metaphysical sense. But I think the opposite position fails for the same reason. What is the 'mind' but experience of the 'world' or 'non-mind'?g0d

    If 'mind-independent reality' is a contradiction, then that only matters if it's a contradiction for us. What is it that is 'for us' and 'not just me' that grounds intelligible conversation? You and I have to share a language and a sense of logic to even discuss the issue. So being in language together is (I argue) being in a 'world' together.g0d

    In the quote above, you open with There are. What is in this 'are'? 'Reality is socially constructed' seems to want to tell me about reality, about 'real' reality.g0d

    That's why I didn't want to use the word 'mind', because the word is imbued with the idea that the mind is part of an external world, but what word could I use? People mostly use language in a context where they presuppose an external reality, so the words they use refer to things that are part of an external reality, but I am not referring to an external reality myself. That's the difficult thing with language, the same words can be interpreted in many different ways.

    My point of view is that every being has their own reality. But when I talk of beings, I do not mean they are part of an external reality that can be described in any way. To me there are only beings who create their own reality and influence the realities of one another. We might say there are only minds, or that these minds all make up one whole, but what sense would there be in speaking of an external world or of non-mind in that view? Whatever world I speak of, it would be my own, not some external one.

    We can't even say that "there are only minds" is an objective statement of an objective world, because we see that many minds do not agree with that view. And I talk of "we" because we have a common ground, our realities partially intersect.

    When I say "there are only minds who create and shape the reality of one another", I am not talking about a "real reality" that applies to everyone, I am talking about my own reality, this is what I experience. And in my reality, others have a different reality, sometimes with a lot of common ground, sometimes with little. And in my reality, your reality will have been changed through our interaction, maybe in a negligible way that you don't consciously notice, or maybe in a significant way. And maybe you will come to agree with that, maybe that will become part of your reality, that will become real to you too.

    I can't talk of a world in which minds move through some objective space or time and experience that world. I do not experience an external world in which other minds are, I experience other minds. My world was created and shaped by other minds and by my own. Maybe others will come to see that too. Maybe they won't.

    In my view, in the temporary intersection of our realities we find regularities, which we summarize in what we call scientific laws, and we make predictions from them, from which we create technology, which is a way to shape our shared reality. In that view scientific laws would not have a universal everlasting validity, they would apply to a temporarily shared reality, and they would be wrong or meaningless to someone who doesn't share that reality.
  • leo
    366
    That is the post my post you are responding is a response toJanus

    No, that's not the post you quoted. Looks like we are not sharing the same reality?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    But the mind-independent framework has a lot of intractable and unsettling problems. In that framework we cannot explain how we can experience anything. We never see things as they are. Free will is very limited or inexistent. Why do these things bother us so much? Maybe because they are not an accurate representation of existence. These problems go away if we stop assuming a mind-independent reality. — leo



    The problems as I see them are largely about awkward language. I don't think we can solve them.
    g0d

    I think it's more than just language. I think it's our recent habit of using science as the one and only tool for examining the world. To use science makes a lot of sense to me, because it has proven so helpful in the past. But to apply it where it doesn't really work is pointless. Other perspectives than the scientific one can also have merit.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.7k
    We never see things as they are. Free will is very limited or inexistent.leo

    We already went over the free will issue. Re "never seeing things as they are" why would we believe that? Especially when we don't have evidence of how things really are, where that's different than the way we are seeing things, BUT, if we have evidence of that, then we're saying that we can see things as they really are, so there's no way to support the claim that we can not.
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