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On appearance and reality – 2 April 4, 2006

Posted by silentEcho in Philosophy.

In this second and concluding post on appearance of objects and reality, I try to give my own judgement on the controversy between the two views presented by the sceptic ( Russell ) and Phillips on the matter of our knowledge of the external physical world.

The statement 2 ( please refer to the previous post ) presents a view ( of our knowledge of the external physical world ) which scores over the view presented by the statement 1 in the sense that in the view presented by statement 1, the sceptic suggests that reality exists independent of the observer and that the sense-perception leads us only to an inference about real objects from what is immediately known. Sceptic suggests that we need some other principle ( some sort of a hidden variable theory ) that might help us to know whether what we see is apparent or real. But the possibility that such a principle might be irrational and/or beyond humans takes us closer to the view prersented by statement 2. If reality is somehow hidden from us and is purely inferential or accessible only inferentially or that we can not access it directly, then is there a use for such a reality? I personally see no objective and subjective sense of something which remains hidden from us forever. To postulate such a reality is useless in my view. I regret being empiricist in my approach but that's the way I think. In practical situations the various things, concepts, data et cetera we use are in a way result of sense-data and sensations and since we have come successfully this far with these notions, the concept of a real table hidden from us is redundant. It's better to think that what we perceive is indeed the real object. We can always refine our notions if we do find exceptions in future and that seems more pragmatic than holding adherence to a hidden variable theory ( what we perceive is sense-data rather than the reality as such ) for which we have no objective scientific or subjective scientific or rational justification.

They say that in philosophy if you adhere to one of the two conflicting ideologies, there is something philosophically wrong with you. It is better to try a democratic approach. But to me, it seem that in this case it is better to adhere to things we know from our experience, the only tool we have got to be a part of this ever changing world.




1. nikhil - April 6, 2006

Here is my take…
i guess the first step should be to define reality…to decide what all properties the “real object” must possess.
I define something as real when the time derivative of every property it possesses is zero.In that sense….i have defined reality to be the limit of static appearance.So what are the objects around me? Well for me,they are mearly the “sources of experience”.The sources are inputs,recieved by my body and processed by the mind. Visualize it this way…A source emits light of various wavelengths.The ability(as in intensity) of the light source changes with time, AND the concentration of various wavelengths it is emiting also changes with time.Similarly,every “source of experience” has the ability to have us experiencing it in ways more than one.What i mean is….a candle,for example,will allow us all 5 primary sensory perceptions(and other hypothetical perceptions that will fill up the void between these five to make a bandwidth)(that we use it only for sight is a different issue).
Now the problem with the empiricist view in my opinion is that it says that reality(or my sources of experience) exists only as long as and only if it can be experienced(please correct me here if i am wrong).This is fine if we consider an isolated mind,with isolated sense organs(input terminals).However,when we consider the collection of many minds….it becomes different. Consider this. Two persons are walking on the road.One is blind and deaf.The other is normal.Now when they try to cross the road,for one mind,there are vehicles.While for the other,there are not.However,reality should be independent of which mind is percieving it(or trying to). Thus i find it hard to accept the empiricist view.

2. wisemoron - April 9, 2006

Seems like this world has got only you for me ( I mean for reading my posts ). Thanks again for reading. I personally dialike the idea of static appearance. Nothing’s static as far as I feel. Anything static is as good as a singularity in black holes : the end of time. And yes, actually the many minds together concept is infact a support to the objectiveness of empiricist argument. You don’t have to worry about
existence of each and everything because with other people around, the ideas of those things are always around in air ( hope you get what I mean : brain interactions at distance and things. Sorry but I believe them though there are no concrete objective scientific expalnations for them ). We think everything is independent of us but actually everything is dependent on our collective consciousness. See that’s an extension of advait. The self of one is not different from the self of other and from the supreme self itself. Our collective consciousness drives this world and the world exists until a single conscious being is present. And consciousness pervades everything. Bohm once made the greatest statement about empericist view : This world finally exists because someone is watching it from outside. Compare this with what they say about Siva : Within this world without. Hope you get my point.


3. nikhil - April 9, 2006

well regarding the idea of static appearance….
i like to work with probabilities.Zero is a very special number and i guess the only appearance of zero is in completely denying the probability of various parameters to be 0(or 100,which is nothing but 0 of the conjugate).Else i believe there is nothing like zero in this world…..it all works between 0 to 100%,both limits excluded.
It is in that sense that i defined reality.I believe reality(like many other parameters) being 100% is just a hypothetical situation(as you yourself said). Thus the description works out like x% reality,where x revolves between 0 and 100. I like this theory because it is very versatile,applies to a number of situations….and because it avoids discontinuities which i personally do not like….not suggesting that i fully support continuities either(again the 0-100 thing) but then that’s a different issue.

I understood your point and your refrence to advait…..

btw i had a thought some months back,guess that may have some refrence here….i feel that the various events that take place are not independent but a function of the state of mind(or consciousness as a whole to account for the collection of minds)….guess that relates well with what you wrote.
This thought has a direct contridiction with my first comment but then its all mixed up here in my mind as of now.No problems witht that though,after all,as you said, “life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”.

4. chachi - May 3, 2006

Booga! get a life man! philo course is over! n u got an ‘A’. So take it on the face value, cuz even if u don’t, u’ll have to. Nothing’s hidden inside that ‘A’…its as real as it seems…reality has abstractions…our senses reveal some…if we had some other sets of senses, we wd have seen some other sense of abstraction…in short, to view the real ‘A’, u’ll have to view it from outside this universe, ie, using a set of senses which don’t exist in this world….then, there’ll be no abstractions…but who cares as long as i can sit back n say : OOGABOOGABOOGA!!!!!

p.s. I didnt read ur post…it was too long…

5. Musafir... - May 13, 2006

Why are you not writing these days ?

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