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Joshua
New Member

USA
3 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2009 :  22:00:28  Show Profile Send Joshua a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am not sure is any one will read this but lately I have been looking at my existance in a very wierd way, weird in my personal understanding of reality that is. Every thing looks like it is indirect, coming from the belief that our sensory experience should be trusted hole heartedly. I question this to the fullest extent because if reality is only what our mind allows us to expand on then we are nothing more that mental constructions of nuerological interactions that are purely consepts of our mental construction in the first place. Every thing is mental. If this is true then Descarte was right about one thing, that we are merely thought. Then we go on to what he felt was the explanation for this, God, the ultimate maker. Coorelation never signifies causation so how in the hell has our society gone one with this assumption and built our contemorary world on this notion. We are all walking around as if nothing is wrong here. This reality is totally subjective and absurd is a way but yet we reppress this idea because we feel that this will bring some sort of stress when in fact this is the meaning of life, to figure out this highly complex maze of logic and reason which out whole existance is based upon. Is it possible to break on through to the other side. I do believe it is possible but it will take you and I about two or three months of mutual philosophical discussion that is open, closed, compatible, respectable, controdictory, interesting, fascinating, and impossible to finaly come to the ultimate end to the question of what this shit is all about, so what do you say, are you in or are you out. My Phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX, lets crack the wipp.

[Edited to remove phone number, and to move this to the General Skepticism folder - Dave W.]

Joshua Baxter

Zebra
Skeptic Friend

USA
354 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2009 :  23:25:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Zebra a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Welcome to SFN, Joshua!

Originally posted by Joshua

I am not sure is any one will read this
Sure we will (but probably none of us will call you on the phone). I have no formal philosophy background but will take a stab at commenting on your OP.

but lately I have been looking at my existance in a very wierd way, weird in my personal understanding of reality that is.
Excellent. Everyone should do this once in a while.

Every thing looks like it is indirect, coming from the belief that our sensory experience should be trusted hole heartedly.
Might need you to elaborate here. Certainly all the input we have is through our sensory organs (in the broadest sense), yet also certainly not everything sensed should be believed wholeheartedly. Prime example being optical illusions.

I question this to the fullest extent because if reality is only what our mind allows us to expand on
Define "reality"

then we are nothing more that mental constructions of nuerological interactions
Well, this is what consciousness seems to be, at least in the view of philosophers like Daniel Dennett and, as far as I know, most neuroscientists.

that are purely consepts of our mental construction in the first place. Every thing is mental.
Neurological activity is purely a concept of our mental constructs; "everything is mental"? Solipsism, anyone?

If this is true then Descarte was right about one thing, that we are merely thought.
I believe you are misinterpreting Descartes famous line, "Cogito, ergo sum." He apparently expanded on this in his writing to explain that he meant "that the proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind". It's not "we are merely thought" but instead "by thinking we prove that we exist."

Then we go on to what he felt was the explanation for this, God, the ultimate maker.
Hmm, evidence please? What I find, in section #4 here, quotes Descartes as writing: "No: if I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me. In that case I too undoubtedly exist, if he is deceiving me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something. So after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that this proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind." This comes across to me as quite different from your God statement.

Coorelation never signifies causation
Well, it doesn't prove it. Sometimes is does "signify" it. [/nitpick]

so how in the hell has our society gone one with this assumption and built our contemorary world on this notion. We are all walking around as if nothing is wrong here.
Please expand on what you see as being wrong here, and what alternative you'd propose.

This reality is totally subjective and absurd is [sic] a way
Is there another reality, or another approach to our understanding reality, that you see as a viable, attainable option?

but yet we reppress this idea because we feel that this will bring some sort of stress
(Or because it seems so "realistic" that we can just go ahead & live our lives in it as if it were "real"?)

when in fact this is the meaning of life, to figure out this highly complex maze of logic and reason which out whole existance is based upon.
Is this the meaning of life? How do you know? Red pill or blue pill kind of thing?

Is it possible to break on through to the other side. I do believe it is possible but it will take you and I about two or three months of mutual philosophical discussion that is open, closed, compatible, respectable, controdictory, interesting, fascinating, and impossible to finaly come to the ultimate end to the question of what this shit is all about, so what do you say, are you in or are you out. My Phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX, lets crack the wipp.
Here, let me direct you to the Philosophy Forum of the Freethought & Rationalism Discussion Board. They do philosophy in-depth. We're more into skepticism, as in: what support do you have for your claims above, including your claims about Descartes' views, if that's important to your argument?

[Edited to remove phone number from quote - Dave W.]

I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone* -Dick Cheney

*some restrictions may apply
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2009 :  23:47:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"I do believe it is possible but it will take you and I about two or three months of mutual philosophical discussion that is ... impossible"

Should be an interesting 2-3 months...
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Zebra
Skeptic Friend

USA
354 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  01:05:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Zebra a Private Message  Reply with Quote
impossible to finaly come to the ultimate end to the question of what this shit is all about,
Yeah, and kind of a rehash, too.

Metaphysics at Skepdic.com

Even deeper navel-gazing, questioning whether or not metaphysics really exists.

2006 article from New Scientist titled "The Big Questions: What is Reality?", including this opening:
WHAT do we understand by "reality"? For those of us who consider ourselves hard-headed realists, there is a kind of common-sense answer: "Reality consists of those things - tables, chairs, trees, houses, planets, animals, people and so on - which are actual things made of matter." We might tend to include some more abstract-seeming notions such as space and time, and the totality of all such "real" things would be referred to as "the universe".

Some might well consider that this is not the whole of reality, however. In particular, there is the question of the reality of our minds. Should we not include a conscious experience as something real? And what about concepts, such as truth, virtue or beauty? Of course, some hard-headed people might adopt a doggedly materialist point of view and take mentality and all its attributes to be secondary to what is materially real. Our mental states, after all (so it would be argued), are simply emergent features of the construction and behaviour of our physical brains. We behave in certain ways merely because our brains act according to physical laws - the same laws as those that are strictly obeyed by all other pieces of physical material. Conscious mental experience, accordingly, has no further reality than that of the material underlying its existence; though not yet properly understood, it is merely an "epiphenomenon", having no additional influence on the way that our bodies behave beyond what those physical laws demand.

Some philosophers might take an almost opposite view, arguing that it is conscious experience itself that is primary. From this perspective, the "external reality" that appears to constitute the ambient environment of this experience is to be understood as a secondary construct that is abstracted from conscious sense-data. Some might even feel driven to the view that one's own particular conscious experience is to be regarded as primary, and that the experiences of others are themselves merely things to be abstracted, ultimately, from one's own sense-data.

I have to confess to having considerable difficulty with such a picture of reality, which seems to me lopsided. At best, it would be difficult to convince anyone else of a theory of reality that depended upon such solipsism for its basis. Moreover, I find it extremely hard to see how the extraordinary precision that we seem to observe in the workings of the natural world should find its basis in the musings of any individual.
That article ends with this:
We do not properly understand why it is that physical behaviour is mirrored so precisely within the Platonic world, nor do we have much understanding of how conscious mentality seems to arise when physical material, such as that found in wakeful healthy human brains, is organised in just the right way. Nor do we really understand how it is that consciousness, when directed towards the understanding of mathematical problems, is capable of divining mathematical truth. What does this tell us about the nature of physical reality? It tells us that we cannot properly address the question of that reality without understanding its connection with the other two realities: conscious mentality and the wonderful world of mathematics.
And you can see the 8 questions they considered to be "the biggest questions ever asked" here. (I would not have picked some of the ones they did.) Enough questions there to keep an amateur philosopher busy for more than a year, I'd guess.


I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone* -Dick Cheney

*some restrictions may apply
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  14:32:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Conversations like this make me want to go outside and rake the leaves on the lawn. Or bake a pie.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  14:46:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Joshua
This reality is totally subjective and absurd is a way but yet we reppress this idea because we feel that this will bring some sort of stress when in fact this is the meaning of life, to figure out this highly complex maze of logic and reason which out whole existance is based upon.


The philosophical question about what reality is, is an old one. The question is really one of doubt - doubt about what constitutes reality. So I'm a bit surprised that you have taken a really skeptical stance on what most people see as reality while at the same time expressing certainty that, not only do we have a purpose, you know what purpose we have. Don't you find that a bit inconsistent?

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  15:48:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Conversations like this make me want to go outside and rake the leaves on the lawn. Or bake a pie.



Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  16:58:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Joshua......

Your post struck an ancient chord (I am, by most reckonings, ancient) in me, namely the conceptual basis underlying phenomenology, a deritative of the study of epistemology. In college, back in the dark ages, I chose philosophy to be my minor curricula, while majoring in psychology.

As a result, I spent way too much time studying the ancient, medieval, classical and modern philosophical schools. One consequence of that preoccupation was a period in which I was obsessed with the very paradoxical matters you bring up in your post. What is Reality? How can we know It, if in fact It exists? More important, how can we prove that existence? And what are the consequences of these musings upon our....well, existence? At the time, it seemed the most important subject that a person could think about!

Joshua, you speak of discussing these matters for two or three months. I assure you that "we" could discuss phenomenology uninterrupted except for potty breaks for the next ten years!

If you have not already, read a good précis of the work of Bishop George Berkeley(1685- 1753). The wiki piece linked here will give you a taste of Berkeley's remarkable mental masturbation back in the eighteenth century. I can't tell you how many nights in the dorm and the beer halls of Boulder that I and other campus philosophy geeks of that era spent most of the night hotly arguing the ideas of John Locke, Berkeley, and David Hume; all of which evolved out of the empiricism of René Descartes.

Berkeley was immortalized in British pop culture of the 1800's by a wag named Ronald Knox who wrote:

There was a young man who said "God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there's no one about in the quad."

"Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by,

Yours faithfully,

God."

Joshua, may I suggest that, in your posting, you break your text up into paragraphs roughly related to the primary thought associated with each group of sentences.

It makes text much easier to read, rather than the "flow of conciousness" style in which each sentence runs into the next, and there are no paragraph breaks.

Welcome to SFN Joshua. I must take mild umbrage with Zebra's contention that SFN may not be the proper forum for discussions such as you have launched here. Skeptics properly take issue with phenomenologist views that "Reality" only exists in the conciousness. I, and anyone here, could challenge that concept on at least four or five different classical bases. And, as to such a specious imagining being somehow a "proof" of the existence of a god of any sort, it is sheer playing with words; not reason or logic.

So feel free to continue, if you wish, down the road of asking the big questions. I, for one, would be pleased to correspond on the subjects raised.

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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  17:10:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Marf......

Conversations like this make me want to go outside and rake the leaves on the lawn. Or bake a pie.
Marf, your curiosity and imagination are only exceeded by your extraordinary thirst for intellectual stimulation!
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  17:32:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Marf......

Conversations like this make me want to go outside and rake the leaves on the lawn. Or bake a pie.
Marf, your curiosity and imagination are only exceeded by your extraordinary thirst for intellectual stimulation!

Gosh Bill. Say what you like but I'm with Marf on this one. I doubt there is enough dope in the world for me to smoke that would get me interested in this kind of discussion. Hell, I don't even think crystal meth would do the job for me.

But by all means Bill, for those who are interested, go for it.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  19:17:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Since reading philosophical texts can, let's face it, be rather dull, I urge everyone to (re)watch that classic Arnie flick Total Recall. The concept of what reality really is has been done many times in various movies and one of the better is the aforementioned. Not only does the movie grapple with fundamental philosophical ideas, it does so with lots of violence. Good combination, I'd say.

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  19:29:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kil.....

Gosh Bill. Say what you like but I'm with Marf on this one. I doubt there is enough dope in the world for me to smoke that would get me interested in this kind of discussion. Hell, I don't even think crystal meth would do the job for me.
Well, to each his own, Kil. But when you consider that before science as we know it was born, the effort of humanity to comprehend the mysteries of the universe was encapsulated in and expressed by the thinking of the philosophers. And as incorrect as their contemplations as to the genuine nature of the natural world were -- compared to what modern scientific inquiry has disclosed in the last few hundred years -- the groundwork that the ancient philosophers and those who followed them laid for analytical and critical thinking was essential for the scientific methodology that evolved once our knowledge base and technology allowed it.

Aristotelian syllogistic logic laid the foundation and antipode for Boole and Begriffsschrift's development of the inductive and symbolic logic systems that have made computer science possible.

I don't think one can denigrate the work of the classical philosophers preceding the Principia as far as their contributions to both the hard and soft sciences of today. I guess that doesn't mean that you have to be interested in them, tho', does it?

But, as I said, to each his own. No interest in epistemology is to me as parochial as no interest in Beethoven, Isaac Newton, or Shakespeare! Whatever happened to the ideal of the Renaissance Man?



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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  20:58:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bill. You labor under the assumption that I haven't been involved in this kind of discussion, both with friends and in collage. I have. Sorry if I disappoint. If I really believed that this sort of discussion would take me further in my quest to sort things out, I might be interested. I doubt that it will, and so, I'm not much interested anymore.

Don't get me wrong. It's just that I am much more interested in learning all I can about, say, Ardipithecus ramidus, because that is the sort of thing that turns me on. I tip my hat to all of the philosophers who, over time, laid down workable methodologies for the scientists who are doing the science I so dearly love, and who, along the way and not tangentially, taught us how to think critically.

Now, if only I could get everyone as interested in critical thinking and science as I am, what a wonderful world this would be.

But, as you say, to each his own.




Edited.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  21:33:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah, solipsism. The biggest problem with such things is that they make discussions meaningless. Once you start to doubt your senses (and optical illusions show that our senses aren't perfect, not that they aren't generally reliable), there's no reason to not doubt any objective reality. And once you doubt that, then there's no reason to think that you're even sitting in front of a computer, typing a message into a Web browser. So, all "discussion" becomes a monologue, the only meaning coming from what's in one's own head already.

And Bill, one of the really novel things that Aristotle gave the world is the idea that one should start with facts, and work towards a conclusion, instead of starting with a conclusion and trying to get reality to fit it (yeah, creationists and other woo-meisters tend to be platonists). And, of course, the only way to get "facts" at all is to begin by rejecting solipsism.

By the way, Hawks mentioned Total Recall. I think The Matrix could have been a real solipsism free-for-all, but they stopped after only one level. Neo (and everyone else) should have been asking, "how do we know that this is reality, if that wasn't?" But not one of the characters was deep enough to think that far ahead.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Zebra
Skeptic Friend

USA
354 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2009 :  23:55:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Zebra a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

[snip]

Welcome to SFN Joshua. I must take mild umbrage with Zebra's contention that SFN may not be the proper forum for discussions such as you have launched here. Skeptics properly take issue with phenomenologist views that "Reality" only exists in the conciousness. I, and anyone here, could challenge that concept on at least four or five different classical bases. And, as to such a specious imagining being somehow a "proof" of the existence of a god of any sort, it is sheer playing with words; not reason or logic.

So feel free to continue, if you wish, down the road of asking the big questions. I, for one, would be pleased to correspond on the subjects raised.


Joshua posted 3 times in 23 minutes then hasn't seemed to return (yet). Perhaps he concluded that he was indeed a figment of his own imagination, and vanished.

Re "proper" forum for philosophical discussions, I do suspect he'd find more depth & duration of discussion in a philosophy forum than here. (Perhaps more than he'd really want.)

Might be an interesting poll, to find out how people who identify as skeptics view philosophical discussions/arguments. I suspect many of us reach satiation pretty readily, given that there's no right (aka single-most-supportable answer) to the age-old philosophical questions. (That's why they're philosophical questions.)

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Phillip K. Dick



I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone* -Dick Cheney

*some restrictions may apply
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Boron10
Religion Moderator

USA
1265 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2009 :  07:46:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Boron10 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
I doubt there is enough dope in the world for me to smoke that would get me interested in this kind of discussion. Hell, I don't even think crystal meth would do the job for me.
and
Bill. You labor under the assumption that I haven't been involved in this kind of discussion, both with friends and in collage. I have. Sorry if I disappoint, but unless I really believed that this sort of discussion would take me further in my quest to sort things out, I might be interested. I doubt that it will, and so, I'm not much interested anymore.
My wife interpreted this to mean, "I have smoked enough dope at one time...."
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