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    1. #1
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      What is reality?

      What is reality? Some may argue that it is our perceived surrounding; however, how do we know that our perception is a true account of the world? The fact that our perception is limited by our five senses, means that we are unable to see the world in it's true form. Our five senses is not enough to experience reality as it alludes us from what it actually is, for instance there are many animals that experience the world completely different from us. Take bats for instance, and I quote (from 50 Philosophy Ideas you really need to know by Ben Dupre):

      Bats navigate and locate insects in complete darkness by a system of sonar, or echolocation, by emitting high-frequency squeaks and detecting their reflections as they bounce back from surrounding objects. This form of perception is completely unlike any sense that we possess, so it is reasonable to suppose that it is subjectively completely unlike anything we are able to experience. In effect, there are experiences that we as humans could never experience, even in principle; there are facts about experience whose exact nature is quite beyond our comprehension.


      The key point to keep in mind, is not how it is for us to behave like a bat, but what is it like for a bat to be a bat. It would appear that, bats experience the world in an entirely differently way from humans. This illustrates that there are more ways to experience the world than our five senses. So, it would seem that, empirical evidence is not enough for us to grasp upon what reality actually is.

      Unless we are able to experience the world in more ways than our five senses we are ignorant to what reality is and can never know the true form of our world.

      This - as an atheist I would rather not get into this, however it is an important point to consider - shows that something like God, is beyond our experience. We can never experience what God actually is because he/she/it is beyond our mind, beyond our capabilities. If God is what people say he/she/it is, omnipotent, omniscience etc, then God is the only one who can experience the true quintessential nature of the world. For this reason, nothing can be greater than God.

      The compressed idea is that our perception of reality is only a fraction of what it truly is.

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      If I am not mistaken, the concept you are describing seems to be very closely related to the concept of "Umwelt" ( Umwelt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) , which basically states that an organism's reality can be completely different from another organism's reality due to the differences in their respective "functional circles". To answer your question of whether or not it is actually possible to prove that the world we perceive is the world that is, I would refer you to the study of existentialism. Essentially, one cannot know (or logically prove) that the reality one inhabits actually exists or holds any importance, and so reality is subjective.

      Another interesting concept that relates to your post is the "Allegory of the Cave", which further reinforces the idea that we only experience a fragment of a larger reality due to our limited senses, but I digress.

      Getting back to your original question, a definition of "reality" that I have personally created is that "reality is subjective reasoning." In other words, as long as one lives, one can perceive, and as you have mentioned, perception does not prove existence, so one naturally embraces the subjectivity of one's perception (whether one is aware of such an embrace or otherwise) and uses reasoning based on it to draw conclusions about what the nature of reality might be like (if there even is a "reality" at all). In conclusion, as long as there is life there is perception, and as long as there is perception there is reasoning, and all reasoning will be based on subjective evidence, so the reasoning itself is subjective. That is the essence of "subjective reasoning".

      But remember, ultimately this is merely my opinion.

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      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyCat View Post
      Getting back to your original question, a definition of "reality" that I have personally created is that "reality is subjective reasoning." In other words, as long as one lives, one can perceive, and as you have mentioned, perception does not prove existence, so one naturally embraces the subjectivity of one's perception (whether one is aware of such an embrace or otherwise) and uses reasoning based on it to draw conclusions about what the nature of reality might be like (if there even is a "reality" at all). In conclusion, as long as there is life there is perception, and as long as there is perception there is reasoning, and all reasoning will be based on subjective evidence, so the reasoning itself is subjective. That is the essence of "subjective reasoning"
      This is why there are some things that can't be proven by science. Reality is subjective, not objective.

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      I think the best thing one could say about reality is that it is what it is. We can never be 100% sure of our descriptions of it because even if we do seem to find an optimal description of everything we can't be sure that some mysterious observation won't surprise us in the future and create a need to reassess it all again. Descriptions are only that anyway, descriptions, not the actual reality they point to. Humanity seems to have narrowed reality down to interactions of particles in space and time, but with behaviors we still don't understand (their wave-particle duality shown in a double slit experiment for example). There are many mysterious observations unaccounted for in our current theories. Our descriptions don't truly embody reality fully and can't ever equate to it, but this doesn't take away from the reality of reality. Obviously something exists, our experience exists. We look at our environments and independently make similar observations, even a bat can detect the configuration of particles that we call a tree even if we detect it in different ways. There's a certain objectivity to our surroundings even if known indirectly through our senses. What I think is really cool is that our experience as living organisms give us a direct glimpse into reality. As configurations of particles in space and time, we are a direct part of reality, making our senses and activities literally something reality is doing. Our descriptions might be a distance away, but our observations and activities are activities of the cosmos, are actually reality. I'd say reality exists, it is whatever all this is, but is only truly accessible through direct experience.

    5. #5
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      You're getting close to something there. Perhaps this will help:

      Here follows some psycho-metaphysics.

      If you are not hot for philosophy, best just to skip it.

      The Aneristic Principle is that of apparent order; the Eristic Principle is that of apparent disorder. Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of pure chaos, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.

      With our concept-making apparatus called "the brain" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us.

      The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently.

      It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T) True reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept.

      We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The order is in the grid. That is the Aneristic Principle.

      Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be true. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the Aneristic Illusion. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.

      Disorder is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the Eristic Principle.

      The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the Eristic Illusion.

      The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered.
      Reality is the original Rorschach. Verily! So much for all that.
      —Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Pages 00049–00050

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      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      You're getting close to something there. Perhaps this will help:
      Here follows some psycho-metaphysics.

      If you are not hot for philosophy, best just to skip it.

      The Aneristic Principle is that of apparent order; the Eristic Principle is that of apparent disorder. Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of pure chaos, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.

      With our concept-making apparatus called "the brain" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us.

      The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently.

      It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T) True reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept.

      We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The order is in the grid. That is the Aneristic Principle.

      Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be true. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the Aneristic Illusion. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.

      Disorder is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the Eristic Principle.

      The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the Eristic Illusion.

      The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered.
      Reality is the original Rorschach. Verily! So much for all that.
      —Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Pages 00049–00050
      As an existentialist, I'd have to disagree. This view states that fundamental, objective "Truth" does exist, but we just can't find it through earthly means. I ask to you, what use is there for "Truth", then, if it is inaccessible? One might as well say that all of what we experience is nothing but gunk trapped in the eye of an ethereal cyclops, but there is no way to prove it using earthly logic. Those who don't accept this are just "unenlightened westerners" (which is an extremely arrogant term, by the way). What proof is given that there exists "Truth" at all? I say, there is no "Truth", nor even "truth", but the lack of those things is irrelevant. What really matters is what CAN be proven, as that is all that we can experience, as well as all that can affect us.

    7. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyCat View Post
      As an existentialist, I'd have to disagree. This view states that fundamental, objective "Truth" does exist, but we just can't find it through earthly means. I ask to you, what use is there for "Truth", then, if it is inaccessible? One might as well say that all of what we experience is nothing but gunk trapped in the eye of an ethereal cyclops, but there is no way to prove it using earthly logic. Those who don't accept this are just "unenlightened westerners" (which is an extremely arrogant term, by the way). What proof is given that there exists "Truth" at all? I say, there is no "Truth", nor even "truth", but the lack of those things is irrelevant. What really matters is what CAN be proven, as that is all that we can experience, as well as all that can affect us.
      I refer you to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Or, if you prefer, the brain-in-a-vat.

      EDIT: upon rereading your post I suggest you consider the quoted material more closely.
      Last edited by Supernova; 11-20-2012 at 03:26 PM.

    8. #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      I refer you to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Or, if you prefer, the brain-in-a-vat.
      Just because there IS a possibility does not make it true.

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyCat View Post
      Just because there IS a possibility does not make it true.
      I'm not sure what this has to do with the Aneristic illusion.

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      I'm not sure what this has to do with the Aneristic illusion.
      My point is that while there MIGHT be an objective truth that evades perception, there is not sufficient evidence that points to such a conclusion. On what grounds do you defend the proposition that the totality of western philosophy is "illusory"?

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      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyCat View Post
      My point is that while there MIGHT be an objective truth that evades perception, there is not sufficient evidence that points to such a conclusion.
      What does the color green look like?

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      To me it looks green, to a dog it looks yellow. "Greenness" is an arbitrarily defined concept. What are you getting at?

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      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyCat View Post
      To me it looks green, to a dog it looks yellow. "Greenness" is an arbitrarily defined concept. What are you getting at?
      Exactly that.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      Exactly that.
      I see.

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      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyCat View Post
      I see.
      So, to analogize, 'green' is just a grid applied to a particular section of chaos. The dog uses a different grid, which causes it to see that particular section of chaos differently (which just happens to be the way in which the human sees a different section of chaos). Neither one is more True or appropriate than the other.

      It's an intriguing way of looking at things.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      So, to analogize, 'green' is just a grid applied to a particular section of chaos. The dog uses a different grid, which causes it to see that particular section of chaos differently (which just happens to be the way in which the human sees a different section of chaos). Neither one is more True or appropriate than the other.

      It's an intriguing way of looking at things.
      EDIT: Actually, it seems to me that we have reached an agreement. My former response would have done nothing but tread water. Well played, my friend!
      Last edited by SnowyCat; 11-20-2012 at 04:41 PM.

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