• Samuele
    17
    Hi everyone. I'm new here and don't really know whether this is the right section to post this. I apologize if I messed it up.

    I haven't really ever studied philosophy. I'm only 20 and studying computer science so I haven't had a chance yet, but I like to describe myself as a really heavy thinker. Here are some thoughts I have had for a while and I would love to even get close to finding an answer or to have them clearer in my mind.

    Relationship between what is perceived and what exists

    I can't help but have that thought in the back of my mind, about how what can't be perceived cannot exist. By perceiving, here, I am referring to both the perception that takes place with our senses, and also whatever piece of machinery allows a phenomenon to be (maybe electronically) measured (and hence, indirectly be known of).

    If something can't be perceived and there are no ways to measure it with tools, can it exist? Sure, there likely is a plethora of phenomena that aren't currently measurable and cannot be studied or stated, but they'll eventually be. Think about quantum computers. There are some algorithms that have been shown by means of logical proofs to work, but can't currently be made work yet.

    However, can something really exist outside of any organism's field of perception?

    Senses, and why I think this is a hard question

    If we now restrict the meaning of "perceiving" to our senses (which, by the way, are by now known to be more than the usually stated five), it becomes apparent that there are lots of things that exist and cannot be perceived.

    Take electromagnetic fields. There are some animals (some species of birds) that have a sense that allows them to *feel* electromagnetic fields.

    In the past, I read about an experiment in which scientists gave a subject a belt to wear that would vibrate according to electromagnetic field presence. Eventually, that man seemed to have developed a way to sense those fields even without the belt.

    If we somehow expanded our set of senses to sense everything, would the number of things that we could perceive still be finite? Would that set coincide with the set of everything that exists?

    Limits of the senses we do have

    The above question is something that I haven't been able to try and find an answer to. Can we even imagine a sense we don't have? How would you describe to someone who's been blind since birth what seeing "feels" like? What about a deaf person? And why is it easier to imagine being deaf than blind?

    I can imagine what absence of sound feels like. But not seeing anything? That must not be equal to darkness. I once read that blindness looks like what you see past the corners of your vision.

    What do you see behind your head? Nothingness. It's not darkness.

    Also, the senses we do possess come with restrictions. We can't see everything. There is a range of visible light wavelengths and similar restrictions are in place for our other senses (even touch has a "minimal resolution" and we can't really tell smaller things than that apart with touch).

    Limitation or gift?

    Is the above just a limitation? Or did mother nature make us that way because, only perceiving a relatively small set of things, we can zoom in on the important stuff for our survival? If we could see all the wavelengths of light, and hear all frequencies, wouldn't everything just end up becoming noisy and chaotic? Would we not be able to tell the stuff that counts apart?

    Given a brain with infinite computational power, would such a being "benefit" from being able to perceive everything?

    Reality ⟺ perception?

    It feels like reality is just all that we can perceive. It sometimes feels to me like it's not independent of our perception. Would anything even exist if there were no observers out there to *feel* it in some way? What does the universe really "look" like free of limitations in perception by imperfect beings like us?

    Synesthesia and how our brains break things up that I believe to be a continuum

    Among other things, I am debating whether what we perceive on a sensory level is actually a reliable representation of reality or if it’s just completely made up by our minds.

    It’s mind blowing. We think in terms of colors, sounds, taste, and the like, but those are just ways our brains “break up” the everything, the continuum of reality, into smaller pieces that can separately be interpreted and represented by our senses.

    Yesterday I thought of a particular condition I had known to exist but never bothered to think about in these terms: synesthesia. People with this condition will “mix up” their sensory stimuli, being able to “taste colors”, “smell numbers,” and in general associate concepts that we are used to perceiving via one sense to other senses. That is literally the definition of mind blowing. It means that when senses misfunction, everything gets melted together into a something that’s more, that saturates our perception and can’t just be described with familiar adjectives that refer to a property that can be told apart with one sense.

    If we talk about a sense like sight, it’s harder to see where I’m trying to go. We see an object because it’s there. But take another sense, like nociception (i.e. the perception of pain). Is “pain” there when we feel it? I know what pain serves us to. It’s useful to be alert of something that’s damaging out organism. But the experience of pain… Isn’t it completely made up by our mind? Pain is not an object. There is no such thing as pain in the universe. Yet it’s very real for us. What if it was the same for all other senses? What if reality was something more, infinitely more complex than we make it out to be, but our brains just had to find a way to let us know, “hey there’s an obstacle your way, steer clear,” and that way was to give us a dimension where we interpret light waves as “seeing.”

    Experience, consciousness, and reality

    Also, what does it mean to experience? What’s consciousness? If you take a machine, let’s say a combinatorial system, it’ll have an input device, a CPU, and an output device.

    It gets the input, processes with the arithmetic and logical unit of the CPU based on how it’s been programmed, and spits out the output.

    Now take a living being with an evolved nervous system. Evolved enough to have proprioception and be aware of being alive. The input is what we get from our sensory organs, and the output can be said to be our actions.

    But what is perception? Is it really just a very, very abstract and complex way of processing the data? Because somehow I think that emotions, feelings, and thoughts are probably just a way for our brain to condition itself to take the more advantageous route, but can this be proven beyond doubt to be the case?

    Most comments here seem to be more focused on a “higher level” connotation of the word perception. That is, how one interprets reality philosophically and how one forms an “opinion” with which describes the phenomena around them.

    My original question was actually more on a “lower level,” as in less abstract. I am debating whether what we perceive on a sensory level is actually a reliable representation of reality or if it’s just completely made up by our minds.

    And if it's not, what does reality actually look like? Does it even look like anything?

    Thank you to whoever got through this wall of text. I always get enthusiastic when discussing this sort of things.
  • jgill
    318
    Was this a test of perception? :cool:
  • jgill
    318
    Are you aware you have written several paragraphs twice?




    It’s mind blowing.Samuele

    Yesterday I thought of a particular conditionSamuele

    If we talk about a sense like sight,Samuele
  • Samuele
    17
    thank you for pointing out! It took me some time to write all of that, and when I went to copy and paste everything together I must have messed something up.

    What do you think of the topic I raised in my post by the way?
  • Echarmion
    1k
    However, can something really exist outside of any organism's field of perception?Samuele

    Well, in one sense, reality isn't obligated to make itself known to us. In another sense, the (possible) existence of unobservable things is empty. If they have no properties, what does it mean to say they exist?

    If we somehow expanded our set of senses to sense everything, would the number of things that we could perceive still be finite? Would that set coincide with the set of everything that exists?Samuele

    Aren't we already doing that, by using technology?

    Anyways, the number of things we can perceive has to be finite, since perceiving an infinite number of things would take infinitely long.

    Given a brain with infinite computational power, would such a being "benefit" from being able to perceive everything?Samuele

    Benefits are relative. It would depend on the situation.

    It feels like reality is just all that we can perceive. It sometimes feels to me like it's not independent of our perception. Would anything even exist if there were no observers out there to *feel* it in some way? What does the universe really "look" like free of limitations in perception by imperfect beings like us?Samuele

    You can read entire libraries on that topic. The opinions range from radical constructivism to naive realism and probably a bunch of other things I don't even know about.
  • Samuele
    17
    perceiving an infinite number of things would take infinitely long.Echarmion

    But aren't we perceiving multiple stimulae simultaneously already? When you hear and see something at the same time, it doesn't take longer to process those two just because it's two different senses. You can feel someone touching your hand even while you're tasting something.

    Wouldn't a brain with infinitely much processing power be able to perceive infinitely many things (or stimulae coming from infinitely many "senses") simultaneously?
  • Echarmion
    1k
    But aren't we perceiving multiple stimulae simultaneously already? When you hear and see something at the same time, it doesn't take longer to process those two just because it's two different senses. You can feel someone touching your hand even while you're tasting something.

    Wouldn't a brain with infinitely much processing power be able to perceive infinitely many things (or stimulae coming from infinitely many "senses") simultaneously?
    Samuele

    I'd say that perception is more than simply receiving stimulus. It also has to be processed, and that requires operation by the brain, which requires some amount of time.

    Of course one might get around this by stipulating a brain that can do infinite operations in parallel, but using one Infinity to get around another doesn't help much. The impossibility stays the same.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    If we now restrict the meaning of "perceiving" to our senses (which, by the way, are by now known to be more than the usually stated five), it becomes apparent that there are lots of things that exist and cannot be perceived.

    Take electromagnetic fields. There are some animals (some species of birds) that have a sense that allows them to *feel* electromagnetic fields.

    In the past, I read about an experiment in which scientists gave a subject a belt to wear that would vibrate according to electromagnetic field presence. Eventually, that man seemed to have developed a way to sense those fields even without the belt.

    If we somehow expanded our set of senses to sense everything, would the number of things that we could perceive still be finite? Would that set coincide with the set of everything that exists?
    Samuele

    I don't understand your thought process here. You want to restrict "perceiving" to what is perceived by the senses, but then allow that all sorts of "perception", which we would not normally call sense perception is sensation. What's the point in restricting perception in this way, just to allow phantom "senses" which haven't been identified? So when birds supposedly "sense" electromagnetic fields, can you name the sense, and describe how sensation through the means of this sense works, such that the bird might identify the electromagnetic field through this sense? If not, why call it a "sense" at all?

    Do we sense gravity? Isn't it more appropriate to say that gravity affects us, and we use logic to infer its existence. In the case of the birds, the electromagnetic field affects them, but they haven't the capacity to use logic to determine its existence. So they do not at all apprehend the existence of these fields. Therefore they do not sense the fields. It has an affect on them but they do not perceive it. Gravity affects us, we do not sense it, but we apprehend it, and therefore "perceive" it, through the intellect. So we need another category of these things which affect us, we do not sense them, yet we may perceive them, apprehending them with the mind.
  • Samuele
    17
    don't electromagnetic fields affect us too, though? Birds seem to be able to use them to tell which way is north etc., while flying. I'm not sure about the specifics, but it should be something like that.

    Why aren't we able to tell which way is north by just "feeling it"? I'll answer the rest of your post more in detail when I get home, and explain my reasoning.
  • InPitzotl
    41
    I'm going to attempt to ground this discussion by introducing a few things I've dug up.

    Let's start by exploring our already extant (as opposed to speculative) subjective experience of perception; I'll presume your senses are nominal here. Sit still in your chair as you read this and just attend to your experiences. You'll notice you "see" things in front of you, and there's an edge to your visual field. But that space you experience doesn't "stop" there... you have a general sense of that space all around you, extending backwards. I'll draw your attention to this "perceptual space"; the stuff you see is fixed into this space (you can glance around and see things at a distance). The stuff you hear is affixed to it; tactile feelings are affixed to it, and so on. Some internal senses are fixed here as well; you sense "yourself" as being in this space somewhere (for me, I feel that "I" am behind my eyes inside my head). We can, and often do, even cross reference these different perceptual modes according to this perceived space; you might see a bird and hear it, and perceive that the bird you see is making that song... both percepts subjectively feel like they are "in the same place". I'm not sure how far this goes, but this subjective perceived space seems like a type of "glue" of our senses.

    With this grounding, you can begin to get a sense from the "inside out" that this space is produced by your mind, if you pay attention to the right phenomena. For example, the McGurk effect suggests that our percepts of phonemes is affected by what we see. Another common experienced cross-sensory illusion is something I'll just call the "rollback illusion" (not sure it has another name)... think of when you're in a vehicle (driving/passenger doesn't matter), and there may be a few larger ones left and right in your field, and you're stopped. Suddenly some of the big vehicles in your peripheral move, but in this particular case you experience not the sight of them moving forward, but the feeling that your own vehicle dropped backwards.

    Outside of such subjective surveys, if you look deeply into human vision you'll notice that a lot of the mechanics behind vision can't possibly be "universal" in a "physics" sense; color, for example, is a percept whose "physical" basis is really based on the physics of photopic vision (meaning, vision under the mode where conditions bright enough where we see colors; e.g., vision mediated by cones instead of rods). At a cellular level this is a function of how the three cone types in our eyes respond to light; at a physics barrier level, that in turn is a function of how particular photons have particular probabilities of folding photon-sensitive proteins in our eyes (viz photopsins). From there, the "opponent color process" kicks in (via ganglial cell mediation just beyond "bipolar" cells connected to the cones), forming a color space basis with red/green, blue/yellow, and brightness channels. Even in terms of frequencies of photons we see, for example, there are "metamers"... specific colors produced by distinct spectra... precisely because they wind up having the same effects at this barrier level. Furthermore there are plenty of photons in our environment outside of the visual range; and the division between visible light and non-visible light is a matter of this barrier. So again, we come to the same place... the things we experience are produced.

    We could go onto many other topics here, such as the fact that as you move, or when you change your glance, our experiences "edit out" what we see during the move/during jarring/etc; and so on and so on. The evidence is quite clear that our perceptual experiences are constructs in themselves.

    That's enough for now... you're asking for quite a bit, but I'll just post this one aspect rather than try to address the whole thing, for the moment.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k

    The thing is that there is a logical process by which we determine north. Look at the sun, the stars, compass, whatever is required, and deduce the direction. This is clearly distinct from sensing north. Why wouldn't you think that the process within the birds is similar to this, but the logic is working at a subconscious level? We have in philosophy, developed a distinction between what we "know", through some sort of logic, and what we "feel" through sensation, for a reason. It helps us to understand these features of reality.

    We can, and often do, even cross reference these different perceptual modes according to this perceived space; you might see a bird and hear it, and perceive that the bird you see is making that song... both percepts subjectively feel like they are "in the same place". I'm not sure how far this goes, but this subjective perceived space seems like a type of "glue" of our senses.InPitzotl

    This is the type of thing I am speaking of. Suppose you hear a sound. You say "I hear a bird". However, there is a sort of logic required to produce the conclusion that the sound you hear is a bird. This logic is not itself a form of sensation.

    So Samuele might say you sense a bird. But in reality your are hearing noises, and using some sort of logic to conclude that the noises are coming from a bird. Now we could extend this principle to all the senses, including seeing. We're not really seeing individual objects around us, we are sensing differences in electromagnetic radiation, and using some sort of logic to conclude boundaries between things, and we claim to "see" or "sense" distinct objects. In reality the distinct objects are created by some sort of logical process and are not actually "sensed".
  • ChatteringMonkey
    361
    My original question was actually more on a “lower level,” as in less abstract. I am debating whether what we perceive on a sensory level is actually a reliable representation of reality or if it’s just completely made up by our minds.Samuele

    I think it's both a reliable representation of reality and mostly made up by our minds.

    The directly imputed sensory data at any given time is clearly not all we 'perceive', we fill in a lot of blanks with our brain, memories etc... But I don't think that is a reason to suspect that reality is fundamentally different than what we perceive. What our senses give us is likely incomplete yes, but not necessarily totally different then reality. Blind people have one sense less, but they don't experience a totally different world. Assuming we would have a sixth or seventh sense, I seems more reasonable to assume that our picture of the reality would become more detailed rather then that it would be totally different.
  • InPitzotl
    41
    We're not really seeing individual objects around us, we are sensing differences in electromagnetic radiation, and using some sort of logic to conclude boundaries between things, and we claim to "see" or "sense" distinct objects. In reality the distinct objects are created by some sort of logical process and are not actually "sensed".
    This seems to be a definitions issue to me, and it seems a bit simplistic.

    There is sensation, and there is perception, and there is logic. To me, it appears you're attributing perception to logic, but it's very distinct from logic. Logic is something you could sit down and write up in natural language, which can then be scrutinized... the process by which "bird" is presented to you digested as "bird" is not this kind of thing.

    The way I use the terms, and there's a reason for it, "perception" is part of "sensation"; so I have no problems saying that you "sense" the bird.
  • leo
    821


    You remind me of myself some years back!

    What is true, what is real, what’s the difference between reality and imagination ... fundamental questions.

    You have various experiences, which you label perception, feeling, thought, imagination, ... , more or less arbitrarily. If you don’t attempt to make a fundamental distinction between them, but instead see them all as experiences, then you don’t have to wonder what things are really like beyond experiences, because that question becomes meaningless. However you can certainly wonder what experiences you haven’t had yet, and this act of wondering is an experience too.

    Electromagnetic fields exist as a thought (an experience). Based on experiences you’ve had, you construct the experience that there are a lot of things traveling all around you and through you even though you don’t see them, and you can make use of that experience to construct other experiences (through what we call technology).

    Maybe there is a way to evolve and experience these things (electromagnetic fields of all wavelengths) as clearly as so-called visible light. Blind people can use tools (within their experiences) to gain information about what non-blind people see, and we use tools to gain information about electromagnetic fields we don’t see, so it might be possible to evolve and see the other frequencies more directly.

    We can sense other frequencies in a rudimentary way when they are strong enough, we sense them as the experience of heat, there isn’t much information in that experience but it’s there, it might be seen as the first stage of development of our sense of electromagnetic frequencies beyond the visible spectrum, they aren’t totally invisible to us because we can feel them in some way.


    You made a fundamental distinction between the experience of an object and the experience of pain. You say the object is “there” while the pain isn’t, but reflect on why you said that exactly. If you didn’t have the sense of touch, would you still make that distinction? Don’t you say that the object is “there” because you can correlate one experience you have (the sight of the object) with another experience you have (touching the object)?

    You interestingly mentioned synesthesia. It might be possible to touch pain, to throw it away so as not to experience it anymore, in a way that would seem like magic to other people. Then you would see pain as something “there” just like the object. We already have the ability to control pain to some extent through thoughts. Through empathy we can feel the pain of others to some extent. Pain is as real as an object, it’s just a different kind of thing.

    We emit electromagnetic frequencies, depending on what we think we emit different patterns, and we have created technology that can control objects through these signals that our thoughts emit. So in principle it could be possible to evolve to see the thoughts of other people without the use of technology. I believe we already have that ability, but it’s still in an early stage, though it is more developed in some people than some others.


    There are plenty of phenomena and miracles that haven’t been explained, or rather we explain them away assuming that there must be some mundane explanation beneath, and we don’t look into them with an open mind. But it may be that reality is much more incredible and mysterious than we want to think. Considering there is a lot of stuff around us we don’t see, some living entities invisible to us for now might be there too...
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    There is sensation, and there is perception, and there is logic. To me, it appears you're attributing perception to logic, but it's very distinct from logic. Logic is something you could sit down and write up in natural language, which can then be scrutinized... the process by which "bird" is presented to you digested as "bird" is not this kind of thing.

    The way I use the terms, and there's a reason for it, "perception" is part of "sensation"; so I have no problems saying that you "sense" the bird.
    InPitzotl

    I don't understand how you arrive at this conclusion. What you are sensing is some sounds. The only way to conclude that the sounds are coming from a bird is to employ some form of logic. Not all logic is formal logic. If it helps, instead of "logic" we could call it some form of reasoning.

    You seem to be claiming that the reasoning required to determine that the sounds are coming from a bird, is inherent within sensation, the act of sensation requires a reasoning process for its performance. I am fine with this assumption, but it means that all creatures which "sense", must also carry out a reasoning process within this act of sensation.

    This is why I think it's more prudent to separate the reasoning process from the act of sensation. The act of sensation merely picks up the information from the environment, but a reasoning process is required to determine "what" the information represents. if we do not separate these two, we cannot account for the fact that we make mistakes in determining "what" we are sensing. If the act of "sensing the sound" is one and the same as the act of "hearing the bird", then there would be no way to account for the mistake involved if the act of "sensing the sound" was really "hearing a recording" or some other sound, and mistaken for "hearing a bird".
  • InPitzotl
    41

    What you are sensing is some sounds.
    Not exactly. What I'm sensing is cochlea hairs bending. An organ is mapping sounds (say, vibrations of my eardrum) to physical locations in the cochlea (via the hammer/anvil/stirrup/cochlea shape+fluid systems). That may sound like a nit pick, but I think it's perfectly fine to distinguish sensation at this level if you choose... but if you do so, you can't really say we're sensing sound, because we just plain aren't. We're sensing specific frequencies formed by sound (as produced by this sensory organ, which in my mind amounts to a bio-physical computer calculating the frequency components of sounds)... that's it.
    The only way to conclude that the sounds are coming from a bird is to employ some form of logic. Not all logic is formal logic. If it helps, instead of "logic" we could call it some form of reasoning.
    I think you're confused on a few levels. I referred to natural language; formal logic uses formal language. So this isn't about formal logic versus informal.

    But if it helps, sure, let's agree it's a form of reasoning. But now, there's still two qualitatively different, massively distinct forms of reasoning. One form I call "perception"; the other, let's call "natural reasoning"; natural reasoning is of the type that you can "reason through", that is, that you can think through using a natural language, hence the name I just made up for it. That includes not just "here is the proof for this math theorem", but also, "here is why Jack Johnson is a better candidate than John Jackson". Perception is not "natural reasoning"; it's entirely distinct. One might could actually write down the logical progression of perception, but not in the same manner as we do natural reasoning... where we just self reflect and just spew out some diatribe. Nay, filling out how the perception works requires an analysis akin to figuring out how other external phenomena works, even if its our own perception we're talking about. We're not "privy to it"; we cannot "backtrack the reasons" behind it. In other words, we cannot (in this sense) "naturally reason" about it.
    if we do not separate these two, we cannot account for the fact that we make mistakes in determining "what" we are sensing.
    That leads to the second point... perception "nominally" may lead to conclusions, but doesn't have to, and quite often does not. When I watch a movie I "see" objects moving on my screen, but I don't believe they are actually there, nor do I believe they are moving. And if I watch a magic show, I may perceive all kinds of oddities going on, but not conclude they actually are; likewise if I flip through books of optical illusions. What we're talking about isn't what's being concluded, it's what is behind a percept.

    I think that's the level that you're missing... you go straight from "sensation" to "conclusion" via "reasoning"; in a sense, so do I. But when you do so going from "photons" to "there's a bird there", you're missing a huge chunk... you're missing all of that juicy "perception" stuff. I've got the line where "mistakes" can happen, sure; that's how we can even define objects we call "optical illusions"... they are the ones where the perception suggests a reality that our natural reason concludes isn't there. But the ability to define and talk about such objects I think is what you're missing, so that's my advantage.

    That in mind, back to the cochlea... given our sense of specific "nerves firing", which we could loosely say is a sense of sound frequencies, "we" can indeed employ "some form of reasoning" to "perceive" that particular kinds of sounds are being made. But that's really what we're doing, not "sensing sound" in the sense you're using the term sense. But this inference would nominally be valid; if a particular "kind of sound" hits our eardrums, then we would have that particular set of nerves firing. But if it works here it works elsewhere; if a particular bird really were there singing, it would result in some particular kinds of stimulus on our retinas and particular kinds of stimulus along our cochlea. A description of just what kinds of effects such a real bird really being there singing would make on these modes of sensory apparatus is very complex, but the "perceptual form of reasoning" can be taken as part of our sensory apparatus just as easily as that hammer, anvil, stirrup, cochlea fluid, and hairs along that spiral can.
  • Relativist
    1.1k
    If something can't be perceived and there are no ways to measure it with tools, can it exist?Samuele
    Dark matter can't be perceived. It's existence is inferred from indirect gravitational effects. Can you accept that it exists?

    Scientific theory often predicts the existence of things that have not been perceived, but eventually are detected. Should we assume they don't exist until actually seen, or should we at least accept the likelihood of their existence?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    Not exactly. What I'm sensing is cochlea hairs bending. An organ is mapping sounds (say, vibrations of my eardrum) to physical locations in the cochlea (via the hammer/anvil/stirrup/cochlea shape+fluid systems). That may sound like a nit pick, but I think it's perfectly fine to distinguish sensation at this level if you choose... but if you do so, you can't really say we're sensing sound, because we just plain aren't. We're sensing specific frequencies formed by sound (as produced by this sensory organ, which in my mind amounts to a bio-physical computer calculating the frequency components of sounds)... that's it.InPitzotl

    Right, that's the problem I described, as soon as we try to say "what" we're sensing, we're not talking strictly about the sensation any more, but we're referring to some logical conclusion, some reasoning as to "what" the sensation is.

    Perception is not "natural reasoning"; it's entirely distinct.InPitzotl

    Here's the problem as it appears to me. "Perception" requires some form of recognition, and "recognition" requires some form of natural reason. Suppose a creature sees something as an object of food, that is a case of perception. But to see it as such, something to eat, requires recognition and therefore some form of natural reason.

    Samuele wanted to restrict "perceiving" to sensing, but that's not how we commonly use these words. We generally allow that "sensing" might be used in a way which doesn't require natural reason or a judgement of "what" it is which is being sensed. We generally use "sense" to refer simply to being conscious of the information being received, not to refer to the judgements we make or interpretations of the information.

    What we're talking about isn't what's being concluded, it's what is behind a percept.InPitzotl

    How can you say this? Clearly you are referring to conclusions. You are making conclusions that the objects are on the movie screen and not actually there.

    think that's the level that you're missing... you go straight from "sensation" to "conclusion" via "reasoning"; in a sense, so do I.InPitzotl

    I think it's you who is missing something. A person cannot describe, or in any way talk about what one is sensing, without forming some sort of conclusions.

    But the ability to define and talk about such objects I think is what you're missing, so that's my advantage.InPitzotl

    I think that if you believe that you can talk about what you're sensing, without using some sort of reasoning to make conclusions about what you're sensing, then you are absolutely mistaken. And being mistaken is not to your advantage.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.6k
    I just read the OP without reading the discussion that followed because I didn’t want to become corrupted by the stimuli before giving my thoughts. Thank you for the post, Samuele. You are a very bright young man. I think you might enjoy reading Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

    Because somehow I think that emotions, feelings, and thoughts are probably just a way for our brain to condition itself to take the more advantageous route, but can this be proven beyond doubt to be the case?Samuele

    If this were all that emotions, feelings, and thoughts were for, then how do you explain philosophy? What survival advantage does philosophy have?
  • InPitzotl
    41

    I think that if you believe that you can talk about what you're sensing, without using some sort of reasoning to make conclusions about what you're sensing, then you are absolutely mistaken.
    I think you're severely confused about the very subject of the conversation.

    What I'm telling you is something like this. There are signals coming to my brain across my optic nerves; roughly 1 million channels. When I look outside, I'm not sitting there with a spreadsheet, analyzing each of those million channels using natural reasoning, and reaching a conclusion that there's a bird there. What's happening, instead, is exactly what I told you is happening... there's a huge juicy chunk of calculations being performed pre-rationally on those million channels of data.

    Now I'm definitely saying words, like, "there's a huge juicy chunk of calculations being performed"; and that is most certainly an analysis... it's not only reasoning, it's employing extant science. But that changes nothing here; I am definitely not analyzing each of those optic nerve signals rationally.
    How can you say this? Clearly you are referring to conclusions. You are making conclusions that the objects are on the movie screen and not actually there.
    And? Just because I describe something using reasoning doesn't mean the thing I describe uses reasoning. If I see a rock rolling down a hill towards a car, I might reason that it would hit it; but that doesn't mean the rock is employing reasoning to hit the car.

    When I look at a peripheral drift illusion, I see motion. The thing that leads me to see motion is a pre-rational judgment; and that thing is multiple levels above the cones being stimulated by photons reflected from the image. Digital cameras alone don't in any meaningful sense sense "objects" or "motion"; neither does the eye. To get from those "eye pixel" analogs to this pre-rational judgment that something's moving requires tons of analysis, but that analysis is nevertheless pre-rational, not a result of "natural reasoning".
    "Perception" requires some form of recognition, and "recognition" requires some form of natural reason. Suppose a creature sees something as an object of food, that is a case of perception. But to see it as such, something to eat, requires recognition and therefore some form of natural reason.
    I recognize this argument as valid. But I reject the premise: "'recognition' requires some form of natural reason." So I don't recognize that it's a sound argument.

    The calculations that take the stimulation of individual cones when I look at that peripheral drift illusion to a recognition of motion definitely do occur; but they are pre-rational. The same thing happens when I see "objects"; there's a pre-rational judgement. The distinction is quite dramatic... it is why for example, despite knowing that nothing is moving in a peripheral drift illusion, I nevertheless still see it as moving. It's also why I cannot explain to you why I see it as moving (by introspection anyway). There's a distinction between such pre-rational judgments that inform percepts, and the employment of reasoning to reach conclusions. Furthermore, when we reason about the world, we don't start with details like individual signals on optic nerve fibers... we start far later in the game, like, seeing an object here moving there.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    What's happening, instead, is exactly what I told you is happening... there's a huge juicy chunk of calculations being performed pre-rationally on those million channels of data.InPitzotl

    This is exactly what I am objecting to. How can you say that these calculations are "pre-rational". This would mean that there is a way of calculating which is not rational. How could that be?

    And? Just because I describe something using reasoning doesn't mean the thing I describe uses reasoning. If I see a rock rolling down a hill towards a car, I might reason that it would hit it; but that doesn't mean the rock is employing reasoning to hit the car.InPitzotl

    The problem is that you have already passed judgement, i.e. made a conclusion, when you say that what you see is a rock rolling down a hill toward a car. So the complete scenario "there is a rock rolling down a hill towards a car", is itself a judgement, a conclusion you've made. Plainly and simply, without that judgement, there is no such scenario. So it is complete nonsense to suggest that this scenario might exist without such a reasoned judgement. Therefore that scenario "there is a rock rolling down a hill toward a car" is itself dependent on reasoning.

    When I look at a peripheral drift illusion, I see motion. The thing that leads me to see motion is a pre-rational judgment; and that thing is multiple levels above the cones being stimulated by photons reflected from the image. Digital cameras alone don't in any meaningful sense sense "objects" or "motion"; neither does the eye. To get from those "eye pixel" analogs to this pre-rational judgment that something's moving requires tons of analysis, but that analysis is nevertheless pre-rational, not a result of "natural reasoning".InPitzotl

    That you see motion is itself a reasoned judgement. not a judgement made by the cones of your eyes. It's nonsense to say that this judgement is "pre-rational", or somehow not a matter of "natural reasoning", because the faculty which gives us judgement is the same faculty which gives us reason. Unless you are arguing that one can make a choice with absolutely no reason for that choice, then reasoning and judging are the same thing. So to make a judgement that you see motion, or some such thing, is to use natural reason.

    I recognize this argument as valid. But I reject the premise: "'recognition' requires some form of natural reason." So I don't recognize that it's a sound argument.InPitzotl

    OK, so this is our point of disagreement right here. How do you suppose that one can recognize something without making a comparison of some sort, and producing a conclusion regarding that comparison? But if you agree that recognition requires such a comparison, how do you think this act of comparison is not an act of "natural reason"?

    The calculations that take the stimulation of individual cones when I look at that peripheral drift illusion to a recognition of motion definitely do occur; but they are pre-rational.InPitzotl

    To repeat, I don't see what you could possibly mean by a non-rational calculation. If it's a calculation it's rational. if it's not rational it's not a calculation.
  • A Seagull
    262

    I think what InPitzotl is referring to is the rational calculations that take place 'below' the level of language.
  • creativesoul
    7.6k
    What a mess!

    :yikes:
  • creativesoul
    7.6k
    Relationship between what is perceived and what existsSamuele

    What makes you think that they are different?

    :brow:

    Trees exist. I see(perceive) the tree.
  • Samuele
    17
    because someone blind can't see that tree, and a person with schizophrenia might see a car instead of a tree. Who's right?
  • creativesoul
    7.6k


    Trees exist. Blind people perceive them without sight.
  • creativesoul
    7.6k
    The argument from illusion(delusion) fails.

    In order for there to be an illusion of something, that something must already exist.
  • Samuele
    17
    Thank you for the post, Samuele. You are a very bright young man.Noah Te Stroete

    Thank you man, I appreciate it.

    If this were all that emotions, feelings, and thoughts were for, then how do you explain philosophy? What survival advantage does philosophy have?Noah Te Stroete

    I think sometimes the mechanisms that keep us alive and moving forward (evolving) aren't immediately understandable by us. Nature does some things that sound weird and counterintuitive, but when you study into them, they make sense.

    Take love for example. It's just a powerful and complex feeling, yet at the core of it, I think it's an abstraction our mind uses to drag us together with another individual and, ultimately, procreate. This might be controversial but the theory of evolution seems to agree with me, as far as what science says currently.

    What if philosophy is another construct our brains used to "push" evolution into a specific route? Being introspective, something that characterizes our species, has shaped some of our traits and directly affects our actions and decisions. There are still some things this "theory" can't explain, but I thought maybe it's a good starting point?
  • Samuele
    17
    okay, take my initial example of electromagnetic fields. Some animals can sense them, whereas we know they exist thanks to science and the tools we use to measure them. We don't have a body part that lets us perceive them or work out their existence. Dogs have a very strong sense of smell, so they perceive things we don't notice. And their underdeveloped sight doesn't let them see things as clearly, so they might miss out on something and their perception of reality is surely different than ours.

    So if we put reality and perception into a two-way relationship where one implies the other, whose perception are we using as the model? Does it make sense to do so?
  • creativesoul
    7.6k


    You're equivocating...

    In the OP, you say "what is perceived" and "what exists".

    Our perception is not "what is perceived".
  • Samuele
    17
    then what is "what's perceived"? I might be wrong but I think I clarified what I meant each time I said that. What's perceived can't be something absolute because everyone's perception is slightly (or very) different.
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