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Thread: objective reality?

  1. #1
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    objective reality?

    Why is belief in an objective reality considered to be more egocentric or selfish than believing it doesn't exist?

    It seems to me that if if someone truly believes in objective reality, they have to conclude that other people or "real" and thus worthy of consideration.

    If it doesn't exist, then how can we consider other people outside of ourselves as "real"? Isn't it easier to dismiss other people in the absence of objective reality? What are other minds, exactly, if everything is just our perception? To me, the only thing it can imply is that other minds do not exist. And what could be more egocentric than that?

    Furthermore.... you are all perceived be me. I can predict how some of you will react to things. Sometimes I know why, and sometimes I don't. Why do we know some things, and not other things, unless there is something apart from ourselves? If it is possible for me to be the only thing that is, and then not know things? I don't think so.

    Believing in objective reality is also not the same as saying that one knows objective reality, or that one is even capable of knowing it in its totality.

    One cannot learn all that is learnable, I suspect, but this does not mean that one knows nothing.
    Last edited by msg_v2; 06-09-2014 at 10:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slab_Bulkhead View Post
    Why is belief in an objective reality considered to be more egocentric or selfish than believing it doesn't exist?
    I often wonder as much myself (as one who holds that there is an objective reality, as in one ruled by causality independent of anyone's hopes or wishes, one in which we ourselves exist, to which we must attend and respond in certain ways in order to remain alive, nevermind happy and healthy ... again, per the encapsulating causality).

    It seems to me that if if someone truly believes in objective reality, they have to conclude that other people or "real" and thus worthy of consideration.
    Right. It is nearly self-evident, if you ask me.

    If it doesn't exist, then how can we consider other people outside of ourselves as "real"? Isn't it easier to dismiss other people in the absence of objective reality? What are other minds, exactly, if everything is just our perception? To me, the only thing it can imply is that other minds do not exist. And what could be more egocentric than that?
    Which is another way of saying, to me, that subjectivism is effectively a flavor of solipsism, nevermind how it fuels all errant, evil and life-destroying religions, philosophies and political systems such as we have dominating the world today.

    Believing in objective reality is also not the same as saying that one knows objective reality, or that one is even capable of knowing it in its totality.
    Exactly. Enter: metaphysics and epistemology proper.

    One cannot learn all that is learnable, I suspect, but this does not mean that one knows nothing.
    Agreed 100%.

  3. #3
    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slab_Bulkhead View Post
    Why is belief in an objective reality considered to be more egocentric or selfish than believing it doesn't exist?
    Who said that believing in the existence of an objective reality is egocentric or selfish? This seems counter to my intuition. Believing in an objective reality means acknowledging one's self as merely one small division of matter within a vast universe. This first sentence needs a little more explanation, unless you're just playing devil's advocate.

    I know we talked about this in another thread, but I never really told you what I believe, so here it goes:

    1. The existence of objective reality, first, needs to be defined, before we can even know what we're talking about. So I'll define it for myself as: A "real" place where myself and other people exist, where physical laws govern the nature of the universe, independent of my perceptions or anyone else's. If you have a challenge to that definition, let me know.
    2. I seem to sense things about my environment, and those senses are purportedly converted into perceptions by my brain. They reveal a three-dimensional space, with sights, sounds, smells etc. I have no specific reason to doubt that the place I'm in exists. Okay, so let's go with that - it's a place, things are things, and so forth.
    3. In this environment I encounter other beings who "seem" real to me. I can't enter their consciousness to confirm that. But they seem to behave in ways I can imagine other thinking beings behaving - or more to the point - like I might behave in their place. There are often large differences, but I can account for that by the fact that we all have different brains, different experiences, different randomness. So, okay, maybe other people are real.

    So, is there an objective reality? Sure - probably - but it's unfalsifiable, because no alternative explanation exists that is testable by any means I'm aware of.

    It seems to me that if if someone truly believes in objective reality, they have to conclude that other people or "real" and thus worthy of consideration.
    This is another semantics thing. What is "real"ness? As opposed to imaginary people? This covers the exact same ground as above - it's unfalsifiable. When you close your eyes, you cease to perceive the world visually, but when you open them again, a plausible current-state vision of the world re-emerges. So, for all meaningful intents and purposes, I don't see a good reason why the world wouldn't be real, and that includes the people in it, who conform to the same basic rules.

    Perhaps your question could be phrased differently as "how do I know if other people are sentient beings, the same way I think of myself as a sentient being?" I have no idea how you can really determine that. You apply some level of Turing test to the others around you, and I'm assuming they pass. Even so, what stops you from offing people randomly? Is it compassion for their possible realness? Or is it because you don't want to lose the game?

    If it doesn't exist, then how can we consider other people outside of ourselves as "real"? Isn't it easier to dismiss other people in the absence of objective reality? What are other minds, exactly, if everything is just our perception?
    If objective reality doesn't exist - or as phrased in my last snippet - if the world lacks realness, then how can the people in it be real?

    The self is indivisible, sealed, inviolate. You can get close to someone, but you can't be part of them. You were born alone and you will die alone. I don't think you'll ever know the answer to this question, because I don't think it's knowable. You just choose to play the game, as opposed to simply observing it. The difference is what separates sociopaths from non-sociopaths. (I'm actually not inserting any right or wrong in that)

    Believing in objective reality is also not the same as saying that one knows objective reality, or that one is even capable of knowing it in its totality.
    Knowing objective reality in its totality is entirely impossible, at least for us, in this existence. It's too much data. What we actually know is some tiny infinitesimal percentage - the rest is pattern recognition and assumption. If we knew every bit of data, we'd be capable of predicting the future, since every moment would be entirely the direct consequence of the moment before it. That model discounts whatever uncertainty may or may not exist in physical states of matter and energy.

    In summary, believing in objective reality is essentially a choice (albeit one most people aren't even conscious of), but fully knowing the totality of objective reality is out of scope. To use a more apt analogy, believing in objective reality or not is the catalyst for Neo's journey in the Matrix. Knowing the totality of objective reality is akin to looking at it on a screen.
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

  4. #4
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    Objective reality exists. Postmodernists who might deny this are full of it. They just aren't good enough at mathematics and physics to learn about the universe, but they're happy to belie their beliefs by flying airplanes to conferences where they question the very physical laws that got them there safely.

    OTOH, no person is perfectly objective, not even the most confirmed INTJ (not even my INTJ son). If you want to know why, read Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, the psychologist who won the Nobel Prize for economics. This is one of the most important books I've read. Experiments that work over and over and over, and planes that fly millions of miles without mishap work because there is objective reality. Same for GPS navigators and TCP/IP, which few "tech savvy" people, who use them everyday, care to understand. It's amazing how few engineers it actually takes to develop a technological society. It's also good that these engineers don't waste their time listening to politically correct bs such as "objective reality doesn't exist."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slab_Bulkhead View Post
    Why is belief in an objective reality considered to be more egocentric or selfish than believing it doesn't exist?
    Considered by who? And for what reason?

    Also, this dude here had a word or two on it.


  6. #6
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    The Critique of Pure Reason kind of helped me a lot with this question. Précis: we can't see objective reality, but it is a necessary precondition of our being conscious cognitive agents who see the world as made of time and space, and so is essentially a necessary condition of consciousness. This isn't a proof, but a sidelining of the question - the negative answers concerns a possible existence of reality outside the scope or co-ordinates of our reason, and so isn't a question of something than can be subjected to our cognitive capacities. You know, like the objects of science.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    New Member corporatewhore's Avatar
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    Objective reality. Feh. Call me when you get around to a functional reality. Monads. MONADS EVERYWHERE!

  8. #8
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    Whoever said it was egocentric was an idiot or was misinformed by an idiot.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

  9. #9
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    People have excellent replies that I can't go into detail on right now, but no one has encountered the insinuation that believing in an objective reality is immoral? Really? I've never heard someone say that directly, but a lot of people seem to believe that.

  10. #10
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    The only reason i can think of why someone might see it that way is if they erroneously thought that IF you claim reality is objective, you imply that your perception of reality is the only valid one.

    Beyond that I can't even imagine the line of thought that gets from A to B.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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