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Thread: Modal Realism

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Red face Modal Realism

    The idea that there exists many possible worlds is not that controversial,
    but the notion that all possible worlds exist in the same way that our world exists (that is, concretely and absolutely) seems ridiculous prima facie.
    But that is what David Lewis argues: that possible worlds, variants of our own, exist not just conceptually but physically, and that each possible world is defined as existing in causal isolation to each other.

    Does anyone here believe this? Has anyone studied this and would like to shed more light on this??

    There are less extreme views, e.g. that other possible worlds exist only absolutely but not physically (mathematical existence?), but from my shallow understanding Lewis is arguing that modal logic can only be understood if we were committed to the idea of modal realism.

  2. #2
    Ⓐ ☭ Animals's Avatar
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    Feb 2014
    Free territory
    If every possible world exists, does that entail everything that can ever happen always happening simultaneously? Or is everything that can every happen only happening once?

  3. #3
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Dec 2013
    Barcelona, Catalonia
    This is a question I am still digesting. Personally empirical evidence is important for me not to regard such ideas as a fragment of an over-reaching rational cognitive function.

    That said, this is well worth reading.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  4. #4
    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    Dec 2013
    'exists mathematically'...I like that.

    An anecdote I heard once about some monks in a monastery...
    The first monk looks up at a flag, and the other monk asks him what's going on. He replies that he's watching the flag move.
    The second monk tries to correct him, suggesting that really it is the wind that is moving.
    Just then, the master comes along and corrects them both, "It is consciousness that is shifting".

    I think that the idea that consciousness is moving works well with the idea that all possibilities exist mathematically...
    ...I wonder if it could work so that consciousnesses are not isolated to a single reality...if they are like wave functions that may collapse into one reality, or split into many realities.

    I mean, suppose there are two identical realities...which are basically a singular reality, mathematically speaking, since they are identical...but at an arbitrary point, that reality is split, because in one reality I move one unit to the left, and in the other I move one unit to the now we have two existing realities...and in each of them, I move one unit forward, and then one unit opposite to how I moved when I split the realities. Now, mathematically speaking, both realities are identical again, and therefore singular again. Collapsing and de-collapsing the wave function, in a way.

    I think a reality can only be said to exist in a state more tangible than the mathematical one when there is some subjective experience of it...otherwise it's just information without context.

    I think it's possible that existence is a set of mathematical realities, and we are (each a?) consciousness shifting, making these various mathematical worlds manifest by virtue of experiencing them subjectively.
    ...the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities...
    "The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong." ~Carl Jung

  5. #5
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Dec 2013
    The multiverse idea is an interesting fantasy.... it COULD be true, but I'd prefer a more conservative idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by ferrus View Post
    The "Identical world far away" as a result of an infinite universe can only be strictly true if the "worlds" are independent of each other. If they interact, you're not going to get identical worlds, only arbitrarily similar worlds. He makes a comment in the paper about determinism, but it's not true (assuming neighboring worlds interact). The other versions of you are distinguishable if you can measure to arbitrary accuracy.

    I had a long argument about this idea with a friend of mine... and I still think I'm correct.

    Edit: regarding the determinism thing: In other words, if it's, in principle, possible for you to go there and meet you're twin, you know that he's distinguishable from you.

    I.e. if it's possible to verify the twin's existence, he's not exactly your twin. All identical twins can't ever be measured, and therefore don't exist.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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